Kelly was an acquaintance in high school, and I was rather terrified of her. She was all sorts of confident and sexy and all the guys wanted to get in her pants, but the amazing thing is they also wanted to be friends with her. She was by far the coolest member of the drama crowd, which I know isn’t saying much, but she’d be cool no matter who she hung out with. It was like she almost legitimized the band of freaks that we were to the rest of the school. So fast forward a decade and a half and she and I become friends on facebook. And we somehow morph into actual friends. Z, T, C, and I visited her and her family a few weeks ago at her home in NC. First time I’d seen her in 17 years. The internet is weird.
Anyway, her blog is awesome. It is incredibly honest about the hard stuff and honesty is like crack to me. She had a baby last week and today she posted about the hormonal nuttiness that happens when you are very recently postpartum. She wrapped it up with a photo of her belly one week after giving birth. And it made me think of this post that I wrote 30 days before C was born. I included pictures of myself in all my huge glory and promised to post pictures in the same dress a few weeks after C arrived to show how a flabby postpartum belly looks.
I’ve felt guilty about not putting on the dress and taking pictures ever since. But the reason I didn’t do it wasn’t that I didn’t want to show my gross postpartum self. As someone who struggles with positive self image, any opportunity to rake myself over the coals in a public forum is welcome. Instead I felt guilty because I was one of the ladies who ended up losing weight quickly. And I felt like posting pictures would have been bragging. Look at me! Yes, I’m technically still overweight, but I weigh less than a did when I got pregnant! How gross. It wasn’t just the bragging aspect of things that kept me from posting the picture. The rapid weight loss was a direct result of the hemorrhage that occurred six hours after C was born. It was another example of my body failing me. With T there was the preeclampsia and retained placenta. With the miscarriage there was THE MISCARRIAGE, and the D&C because it was an incomplete miscarriage, and then the never ending saga of passing all the “products of conception”. With C there was the hemorrhage.
It was hands down one of the scariest moments of my life. A few weeks after it happened Z told me it was one of the scariest moments of his life, too. He said that blood was actually gushing out of me, he said it was like a bad horror movie because if you saw that much blood on the screen it would look fake and ridiculous. And the next several weeks were scary as well. I was so incredibly weak. My postpartum emotions were tied up in the fact that I was physically unable to care for my newborn and toddler. I was so lucky to have my parents there and desperately clung to them and their help.
Kelly was able to have the birth experience that she wanted, unmedicated at a birthing center. I am so proud of her for achieving her goal. But I’m jealous, too. Not so much of the unmedicated part, I’m a total epidural gal. And I’m not interested in the holier-than-thou battle of epidural vs. natural (though I chafe at the term natural-it indicates there is something not natural about giving birth any other way). Like in most things I think there is a choice to be made and just because my choice was epidural doesn’t mean I look down on those who made other choices. I admire the hell out of the unmedicated ladies and the c-section ladies. All roads to birthing a baby are tough. Hell, sometime circumstances dictate the situation no matter what choice you make. We should be supporting each other rather than judging those who have different ideas than our own. And honestly, C’s actual birth couldn’t have gone any better. I still get the warm fuzzies when I think about pushing him into this world.
What I’m jealous of is that her body didn’t betray her. She didn’t hold on to a piece of her placenta, she didn’t gush blood while doctors took turns reaching into her uterus to pull out blood clots, her body behaved itself. When I think of my body’s weakness I feel shame and guilt and fear. I think about those first few weeks of C’s life when all I could do was lay in bed. I think about the middle of the night calls to the doctor’s office when I was convinced I was going to hemorrhage again and needed to be talked off the ledge. I think about wanting another child and being scared my body can’t handle it. I was too ashamed to post a picture of who I was at that time, I might have had a relatively flat stomach, but I felt like a colossal failure.
The picture Kelly posted is beautiful. She looks strong and happy. This is the woman who left the birth center hours after having her daughter and walked into her home while carrying that baby. She is a total rock star. I may be jealous of her, but I don’t begrudge her the success of her experience one bit.