Warning: Boys, you may want to steer clear of this one. I'm just sayin'.
For me, recovery was far worse than labor and delivery. When I was in labor, I found sanity and relief in the fact that it would END and it would end soon. With recovery, there's no telling when I'll be back to normal. And who's to say that I'll ever feel normal again. Maybe I'll have to redefine my normal.
The fluids, oh the fluids. I spent the first week and a half wearing the mesh panties that hospital gave me (they were so comfortable. I wish it was appropriate to wear them all of the time) and a GIANT maxi-pad. Every time I would nurse, my uterus would contract and cramp, and I would bleed. That's just how it goes. Over the weeks, I slowly stepped down the size of the pad. I'm a tampon girl, so wearing a pad was awful (although the thought of a tampon right now makes me shudder). I was also given a steroid foam to help with general healing of my lady bits. For me, putting a pad soaked in witch hazel on the maxi-pad was really soothing. My bleeding really slowed by four weeks, and it ended by the end of five weeks. I was SO glad to see the pads go. G-R-O-S-S.
Luckily, I didn't tear. I am so thankful for that. I didn't tear because my doctor massaged my perineum for an hour. And by massaged, I mean he stretched it. At one point he told me that I would be screaming from what he was doing if I didn't have the epidural. I remember him trying to make room for Liam's head by putting both of his hands ALL THE WAY in my lady bits. Ouch. All of that stretching left me bruised and battered. For the first two weeks of Liam's life, I went from the bed to the glider to nurse and back to the bed. Thankfully Liam only ate and slept at that point, but I missed-out on really enjoying the first two to three weeks at home with my son. But I'm not exaggerating when I say I couldn't sit down. When I could finally sit (on the couch and at the kitchen table), I couldn't sit without a pillow. Even in the glider (which has a cushion) I used a pillow. It took me four weeks to get rid of the pillow. After that, I avoided hard surfaces as much as possible or I would sit more on one side of my butt. Today, I am sore at the end of the day. It's manageable, and more annoying than anything. At my appointment two weeks ago, my doctor said it can take up to 12 weeks to really start feeling good, and I totally believe him.
Along with my perineum, my right labia fell victim to delivery. We're not entirely sure how it happened because everything happened so fast, but we think it got caught-up in the vacuum. Sitting forward HURT. The labia went beyond uncomfortable and into painful. It would also bleed. The only comfortable position for me to sleep was on my side (laying on my back hurt my butt until about week five and laying on my baby feeding boobies still isn't an option), but I HAD to have a pillow between my legs. The pressure on my labia without the pillow was terrible. I didn't know this until my doctors appointment at five weeks postpartum, but nursing is an estrogen suppressant. And estrogen is what heals the wreckage that is your lady bits. So if you nurse, you heal slower. My doctor barely moved my labia, and I was squirming and saying, "Ouch, ow, ow ow." He sent me home with an estrogen cream to apply at night. I've been doing it for two weeks now, and it has made a HUGE difference. I actually feel like my labia is healing. I am so thankful for that, because I was worried that I would be something that I'd have to deal with for a long time.
Other than the lady bits issues, I was exhausted for the first two weeks. Not sleepy tired, but just physically exhausted. But I suppose that's to be expected with a new baby at home :)
For me, recovery sucked. I loved being pregnant, and I love being a mom. I even love having a newborn around who wakes-up every two to three hours. For those reasons, I definitely want more children. But to be honest, recovering again terrifies me. In the end, it's completely worth it. And maybe next time the birth won't be so traumatic and recovery won't be so hard. It's definitely not enough to keep me away from having a second... eventually.