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Thursday, April 5, 2012

True confession: The awful things that happened when I gave birth!

I wrote about finally nesting a few posts ago and I'm grateful that despite what I said about wanting to have a private birth, I got support and understanding from my readers. One reader, however--and I didn't publish her comment because she was mean--said that she's 6 months pregnant with her first child (congratulations!) and she's actually ordered catering and balloons and signed up a pro photographer for the big day. She said that I--and the other moms who left comments about having private births--was selfish and ungrateful and don't deserve our children.

Well. Strong words. But I understand. It's your first baby. Of course you don't know what you're talking about! So let me tell you why I feel this way for my second time around.

I gave birth to Vito at almost 8am. It was such an easy labor and delivery, but my body was obviously traumatized. I was shaking uncontrollably till around lunch time. Noon was also around the time that I felt the need to pee. So, for the first time since 4am, I stood up and found that my legs were wobbly. I stood still to find my balance and found to my horror that I had incontinence. I was warned by mommies that I won't be able to control my pee for some time after giving birth (the muscles down there would still be in shock). Even then, I was appalled when it happened to me. I tried to hold it in but the pee just flowed and flowed (I hadn't gone to the bathroom since 4am). It filled my adult diaper and overflowed and pooled around my feet.

Then, to my humiliation, the door burst open. There I was, in a hospital gown with my naked back and a big heavy diaper exposed, and I was standing in a pool of piss.

It's a good thing the visitors were my nurses. But I was still embarrassed. My relief and humiliation turned to anger and I barked at the nurses to quickly close the door. Then I burst into tears. I was thinking what if the visitors had been real visitors. What would they think when they saw I had a diaper on? What would they think when they saw what I was standing in?

The next couple of days was filled with other indignities. There were times I was naked from the waist up as the lactation consultant showed me how to breastfeed Vito. Again, what if someone walked in at that moment? There were also the times I had to bend over and have the stitches of my episiotomy (that's when the doctor slices the skin between the vagina and anus to prevent tearing) slathered with antibiotic cream. Again, what if someone walked in at that moment?

To my relief, on all those awkward moments, no one walked in. And my visitors always always knocked first. Thank the heavens! So I always had a few seconds to compose myself.

I did wish I had at least brushed my hair, put on powder and lipstick to receive all the wonderful people who came to see us the proud parents, and our darling boy Vito. But I was too exhausted. When I look at all the photos from that day, I cringe at how ugly I looked. After all, when I was still pregnant with Vito, I swore that wouldn't happen. I'd be the most beautiful woman who just gave birth ever! Well, I wasn't. I was pale and swollen and tired (but incredibly happy!). I hated it that people had to see me like that but, hey, they stared at the baby not at me! So it's okay.

So I'm not saying I don't want visitors. How can I say no to so much good will and love and happiness? I'm just saying that I didn't expect the days after giving birth would be so horrific as much as it was ecstatic. No one warned me about those other awful things. How raw and emotional I'd feel, how swollen I'd look, how adult diapers are so yucky and uncomfortable, how I'd be so tired I won't have the energy to even brush my teeth.

But, mommy-to-be planning a huge party in your hospital room, this is your lucky day! I'm sharing with you what happened to me so you won't be so smug. I know how you feel really. If you read through the 2010 posts of this blog, I sounded pretty much like you: Why are pregnant mommies so ugly? Why don't they put on makeup when they give birth when it's such a photographed day? Yada yada. I was such a judgmental know-it-all. Well, now I know better.

So I really don't begrudge your smugness. It's annoying but I understand. I'm hoping that this post warns you about what might happen on that happy day so that you'd be prepared. So that you won't be caught standing in your piss, with your breasts exposed, and with your ass in the air.

And even if those things happened, it'll still be alright. After all, your visitors aren't there to see you; they're there to see the baby! If there's anything I learned that wonderful day, it's that life has truly ceased to be about me--it's all about my child now. And that's okay. Have a safe delivery!

23 comments:

  1. Hi Frances! Reading this post, I just hope that mean first time mom will realize meaningful things. Honestly, I felt shocked on that "selfish, ungrateful and you don't deserve your child"

    That's so INSENSITIVE. (Dahil lang ba you opted for a private birth, selfish na agad? Di ba pwedeng invoking the right to some private time with the new baby naman!)

    With the points you raised here, you have all the valid reason to want a private birth. Yes, I'm still single but then, I can clearly picture out what you have said.

    I hope you have a safe delivery :-)

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  2. Ugh. Whoever that new mom-to-be-is: I hope she experiences the depths of new motherhood -- as in all the "horrors" you mentioned. For her sake, really. Birth and the days after (no, correction: the next few weeks/months) is not an easy experience. At least I can vouch for you on that note!

    Thanks for sharing your honest experience about birth, Frances. I remember my own early days as a mom: I had the bleeding, sore nipples; the embarrassing adult diapering and weird toilet patterns; feeling haggard and not knowing when the next gap for a shower might be -- it's still vivid to me. Still, I wouldn't exchange those early days for anything. They shaped me into a new "me," even though, during that time, I didn't realize it.

    Motherhood's not pretty, for a lot of the time. But then that's what makes it awesome, because we can come out of those "horrific" experiences better women, more compassionate, and less judgmental.

    Have a safe, happy, private delivery. :)

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  3. I guess I'm part of the "selfish, ungrateful and you don't deserve your child" lot. I didn't allow visitors in the hospital during the birth of my first 2 kids except my parents (my husband's family is not Manila-based). I'll do the same thing when I give birth to our 3rd child in September. I guess I'm also a germa-phobe mom who don't want my hours old baby exposed to a lot of people. It is bad enough already that hospital staff are in and out of my room. Lastly, after hours of labor all you really want to do is curl up in bed and catch up on sleep...which you cannot really do cause you have to take care of your roomed-in baby. yeah, all I want to do at this point is to be selfish!

    Geez, that's the first time I heard about having a party/caterer in the hospital? Even having a pro-photographer (where i gave birth, husbands are not even allowed in the DR unless you can present a proof that you two underwent Lamaze or similar training). I'm assuming she'd want that in the hospital cause she said she booked them for the big day. Maybe I gave birth in a hospital which implements very strict rules or it's so "unsophisticated" they don't allow such celebrations.

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  4. One cringe-worthy memory I had from giving birth was having to pee and being assisted by an aunt. Imagine that, I was 23 years old and, on most days, I wouldn't be needing any help in the bathroom, but here I was, just less than a day out of labor and I couldn't even hold my diaper up and too exhausted to hold my baby. Embarrassing, I know. So yes, I am with you in wanting a private birth. I am sorry about the bad comments, but I'm sure childbirth will change this soon-to-be mom's point of view. One of my friends who visited gently told me: "You should start putting moisturizer on your face. Childbirth can make your skin very dry." Ack. It made me feel like I didn't take care of myself, but I know now she meant well.

    I think as friends and family members, we too should be a little more respectful of mommies and not rush and visit them in the hospital. Since becoming a mom and having all that embarrassing experience, I've resolved to visit mommies and their new babies a few weeks after birth and to always give advance notice. By then they would have adjusted well to motherhood and perhaps are ready to see visitors.

    Sorry, long comment but . . . I'm with you! Enjoy your private birth and we hope to get updates maybe a few weeks after? :)

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  5. I always ask women if they want to be visited first. I know many don't want any hospital visitors and I think it is completely understandable. I gave birth abroad luckily there you don't get the whole barangyay visiting. But there were moments I didn't mind the visitors because it can get boring when the baby is asleep. When I look at the hospital pics I don't mind my disheveled look but it's my own sons that laugh at my messy hair, how fat I was and that I was in a nightgown all day. Ingrates!

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  6. Hi Frances, I didn't feel socializing when I gave birth either. I had a C-section and I was groggy from pain meds. I was so tired that all I want to do was sleep. FYI, only spouse is allowed during surgery.

    I used to watch a reality show in TLC called Baby Story. I remembered one time, this woman was giving birth in her house, in a tub, with everyone there. The husband, all her 3 children, her sister, her mother, he sister's BF plus the TV crew. Oh my! I can probably understand the family being present but the sister's BF? Seriously? And she was completely naked. Other women had their father-in-laws in the delivery room. I just can't imagine...

    Well, I understand you lose some privacy during child birth. I remember my co-worker visited me while I was breast feeding. I was embarassed but I just cannot shoo her away since she visited me during her lunch break and I know her time was limited. So, there I was bare chested for the whole world to see (I did not bring my cover in the hospital). I remembered my co-worker did not stay too long. She probably felt uncomfortable too.

    I am a nurse too. When I was in my clinical, I was humbled and grateful for those women who let me in during their delivery so I could learn.

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  7. Hi Frances, I enjoy your blog.

    I used to watch a reality show, Baby Story. This show follows expecting couples or families in their childbirth journey. I remember one time, long time ago, a woman gave birth in her home, in a tub, completely naked with everyone there -- the husband, 3 young children, her mother, her sister, the TV crew and her sister's boyfriend. I understand the family and of course the TV crew but the sister's BF? Seriously? Also, I don't understand why some women have their father-in-law in delivery room during the final phase of birth.

    I had a C-section. I remembered my father-in-law was there during my prep for surgery. The nurse was waiting for him to leave on his own so she could insert a foley catheter in me. She would give hints but he did not get it. I was praying in my head that he would leave the room. Finally, the nurse just said it to him point blank that he needed to leave the room so she could complete her job.

    During C-section, only a spouse is allowed and I was thankful for that. Then after surgery, I was so tired and groggy. All I want to do was sleep. I cannot even stay awake during my baby's first bath.

    Then, the next day, we were bombarded with guests since I gave birth in the hospital where my husband and I work. So, our co-workers just stopped during their lunch break to say hi. One time a female co-worker barged in while I was trying to breast feed. I was bare chested ( I forgot to bring my cover) and trying to act like normal when deep inside I was embarassed. Maybe sensing my discomfort, she did not stay long. I did not have the audacity to shoo her out because I know how limited her time was and she was kind enough to spend it with me.

    I am a nurse too. I remember when I was a student and my clinical was in Labor and Delivery, our CI had to ask women if they will allow us, students, to observe the delivery. All of them said yes except for one who was a staff nurse there. I was humbled by the trust that these women gave us. Through that trust, we learned. For that I am forever grateful.

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  8. Reading your post felt like I was back to the day I gave birth. I was happy that my husband informed our friends to visit us a day after I gave birth. But, even at that time, I looked horrible. I was glad I was visited by really close family and friends.

    I'm sorry you had to put up with people (and comments) who are insensitive, selfish and inconsiderate. Don't be bothered at all by people like her. After all. she is not important in your life.

    I always believed that giving birth IS private. It's a special experience given to us by God... an experience that we share with our immediate family.

    Congratulations and God bless you always.

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  9. Don't listen to that smug first-time preggy mom. She doesn't know what she's talking about! But yes, she will realize after she gives birth how much privacy is craved for in the after-math!

    I didn't want visitors when I had my first baby and I don't want visitors either when I give birth to my second in August. When visitors did show up, I requested them to please not take photos of me and only of my baby daughter. :p

    Hayaan mo na sya. She will learn when she gets there! Have a safe delivery for your second!

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  10. LOL! I remember I gave birth (normal delivery) at 9:45 p.m. I was back in my room by 2am, and immediately got up on my feet to walk to the bathroom and pee. At 7am I got up on my own again to take a shower. A midwife was stationed with me in the room, and she kept pleading with me not to take a shower in case "mabinat" ako. I don't believe in "binat", so I ignored her, took a shower, brushed my teeth, and went back to bed. At 8am they brought my baby to room-in with me.

    I didn't put on any make-up or even bother to brush my hair. There were times when I would be bare-chested, trying to nurse my daughter. I started not to care if people were in the room while I nursed--if they found it uncomfortable, then they should leave. Alanga naman ako pa mag-adjust sa kanila, eh ako na nga ang patiente!

    I also got the smallest private room available. My mother suggested we get the next bigger room, but I declined, saying I was fine with a 10sqm room. It was just for me and the baby anyway. If people visiting found it too small, well, tough. Let them come in one by one and wait for others to leave. Are they going to pay the extra fees if I upgrade my room? I don't think so.

    So to the "mean mommy" who wants to have a catering crew and photographers around her during that day...that's great that you're fine with all that attention. But I hope you realize that they'll be swarming around your baby, and not YOU.

    And Frances, please don't think you're "ugly" in your hospital pics with Vito. The beauty in those photos is that you gave LIFE into this world. Screw blemishes, eyebags, wrinkles, or whatever else you might be concerned with. I had similar pictures at the hospital--even in the delivery room, where my nose was all red and my eyes swollen from crying (tears of joy, of course!). But I gladly printed them out, framed them, and put them on my desk. Because that was the single most BEAUTIFUL moment in my entire life!!!

    P.S. To be honest, I find women who "pose" with make-up on in the delivery room a bit contrived. I find it similar to women who go to the gym with make-up on. Then again, that's just MY opinion.

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  11. I totally understand your point! The mom who wrote you those scathing words is coming from a place of total and absolute ignorance. Wag dapat saying magmarunong as she's never even given birth before. Catering and a photographer?? (insert smirk here) Good luck entertaining the round the clock guests and well wishers honey.

    Oh, should I also mention that the episiotomy was a literal gigantic pain in the a**, for me too! I remember being so terrified of having my first bowel movement after giving birth, because of the feeling of your whole behind just ripping into two. And about the incontinence, I was pretty much experiencing it already the last few weeks before giving birth, so it really wasn't a surprise. Oh the things we go through during childbirth... And what an experience!

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  12. You're very lucky you have the option of having a private birth. I've given birth twice, and it was such a circus! Honestly, there were times when I just wanted to be left alone (to rest, to heal, to JUST BE!). Although I was (and am!) grateful that friends & family gave me support during the days after I gave birth, sometimes it felt like such an intrusion.

    After I gave birth to my first-born, my mother in law insisted pa that she wanted to see how my son latched on my boob. As in, she literally stuck her face in my chest and checked. I was too exhausted to pull away, but I still remember feeling like it was such an intrusion. And then one time a few days after I got home, my father in law naman brought around 10 of his employees to my house to see the baby. Unannounced!!! There I was in my day old nightgown, unwashed, sore nips and all, trying to nurse my baby - when a whole baranggay of uninvited people burst into the nursery. Hay. I guess my in-laws belong to the same category as your mean commenter. Had I voiced my thoughts out loud, I would also fall into the "selfish" lot in their eyes.

    Anyway sorry, napa-rant na ako. Just want to say I really love your blog, and I pray you have an easy delivery and a healthy happy new baby. :)

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  13. oh, that mean mother-to-be doesn't know what's waiting for her, haha! no matter how much you try and be prepared for beauty, fanfare and celebration on the D-Day, you can never, ever guarantee that things will be truly perfect! it is not selfish at all to choose to be private on your delivery day because it is actually a private milestone in your life. hey, even celebrities opt for private births, di ba? if the mean reader wants to be seen in her ugliest and most embarrassing state, let's just let her be. she obviously doesn't know what she's talking about.

    she has no right to say mothers who prefer private births do not deserve their children. many cultures opt for that. she's generalizing based on her assumption and belief that worthy mothers are only those who share their kids to others. i seriously feel sorry for her because her concept of motherhood is too shallow. just my 2 cents.

    anyhoo, lapit na tayo mag-give birth! here's an all the best wish from a fellow preggy, 2nd-time Mom-to-be :) praying for our safe and easy delivery.

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  14. Dear Frances,

    I enjoy reading your blog and i also want to share my story of birth. I gave birth to twin girls in 2010 (they are turning 2 this april 12.) and i too was unprepared for the aftermath that would happen to me and my body. I gave birth via c-section at 7am and even though it was a c-section, bed I'm so small and i had twins, the labor that my body experienced was so hard on me that i really felt horrible after. I was in so much pain and so sleepy and groggy after that i couldn't even stand up for one whole day. My belly was soooo swollen and my feet and my face was sooo ugly, it hurt to look in the mirror. i was so depressed bed of what was happening to me but also zoo happy to see my twins finally. it was such a emotional moment really. that i didn't want visitors or to even be photographed.

    So to the mommy to be who wants to be photographed and party in her hospital room, heed our advice. you have no idea what labor is and what labor will feel like. its all diff for everyone but what is true is - it will not be about you. it will about your wonderful child who will experience her first bday.

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  15. When I gave birth to my first baby, I assumed it would be rude not to let people come and visit since after all, they were probably as excited as were to see the baby. I was overwhelmed with the number of guests and ultimately regretted that decision - I was so tired, I felt I looked so ugly, I was pressured by breastfeeding - the last thing I wanted to do was entertain! When I gave birth to my 2nd child, I swore I would not accept visitors (but of course they still came). If ever I get pregnant again in the future, I will really implement the no visitors rule! We need time to recuperate and bond with our baby. Visitors can follow.

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  16. I just had to chime in - your story of trauma reminds me so much of having my first baby. All the icky details aside, I guess it was just really being blindsided by the energy and pain of birth that shocked me the most. I did have visitors that night, but I was glad they didn't come earlier when I was all bloody and groggy. I was only 19 then so I guess I had more energy? Haha!

    10 years later with my second child naman, only my dad and a few friends visited at the hospital, but I remember that the first week of having the baby and having to entertain visitors was so draining physically and emotionally to me. I felt swollen and ugly too and all I wanted to do was sleep and nurse my baby because I was so praning she wasn't getting enough breastmilk. I experienced a bit of post partum depression and I noticed it happened when I wasn't well-rested the day before - i.e. because the house was filled with visitors from morning till evening! I knew that I *had* to share the joy of the new baby with the well wishers as it was the "polite" thing to do, but I guess sana two or three weeks after birth nalang nangyari lahat ng visit-visit because it's just so hard on the mom.

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  17. i & all of your readers know how much you adore Vito. I'm sure that your second child is also & will also be adored like how you revered Vito. You know what to expect already, how your body will react so who are we to judge what you deem best for you & your baby,ne?

    this is for everyone, we are her readers. she decides what to share in her blog. we should be lucky that Frances even shares a part of her. why hate? why spend time making nasty comments?

    you just remind me again why i found your blog really very interesting. you tell true stories. something that we can relate to. even if you are already one of the people in the corporate ladder, you just never fail to make that connection to us.

    mwah! i love you,frances.
    bloated or not, you are one of the most beautiful person that i know!
    *hugs*

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  18. Like Rone, whenever one of my friends give birth, I also ask them if they want to be visited. I understand kasi the ngaragness that a mommy would feel after giving birth kasi I've experienced it also. This is also why I understand why some mommies would not accept visitors during their stay in the hospitals.

    For that soon to be mommy, well, at least walang nagkulang to tell her what to expect in giving birth. Let her experience it. Hindi man niyan aaminin pero we know deep inside at the back of her mind at that day, she'll realize that what you said was right.

    Sana nawa'y makapagbreastfeed siya ng maayos with all the people there.

    Peace =D

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  19. Hi Frances! (feeling close haha)

    I've been a lurker of your blog ever since I was 3 months pregnant (and my son is 1 now!).

    I just find this post so funny and ironic because actually you were my inspiration when I was pregnant. Because of your preggy-women-should-be-pretty posts, I've adopted a very positive attitude to being pregnant. I moisturized, I walked a lot, I refused MRT seats, I wore decently sexy and flattering dresses and I even had waxing three weeks before my due date due to one of your posts! And when my water broke, I showered first and put on make up before going to the hospital. And I really believe that your posts and advice really helped me foster this positive attitude and made my pregnancy, birth and even post birth go really smoothly and well.

    So thank you for those uplifting posts. And I think you're beautiful in those pics even when you felt ngarag during post birth.

    God bless on your second son's birth and may you continue to inspire many more preggy mothers (because you do! and my story is proof ;) ).

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  20. Okay. Wow! So many experiences shared! Thank you! I want to comment on all! Maybe I should install DISQUS but scared that all your lovely comments will disappear!

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  21. First, thank you for not thinking this post was yucky and too revealing. Instead, by sharing your own "horror" stories, you've really made me believe motherhood is a sisterhood!

    Second, thank you for being nice. I know some of you were annoyed at mean mommy-to-be, too, but I believe that we mommies should stick together and be compassionate, especially to the ones who have no idea how difficult the early days of motherhood's is.

    Third, I have one more go at this beautiful birth thing! I will really try to look better this time around. I know it's not important in the grand scheme of things... But it's a vanity thing for me! I won't attempt a fully made up face but I will definitely try eyebrow powder and concealer! =P

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  22. Dear April 27 Anonymous commenter: I'm copy-pasting your comment but I can't publish the note you made for the pregnant mean mommy because I feel that what you said to her is cruel.

    Like I said in my post and in my comment above, it's her first time so she doesn't know what's coming. I was also very judgmental when I was still not a mom and even when I was pregnant. So we mommies who know better should just wish her well. No super negative posts and comments on Topaz Mommy! Just love love love!

    "Anonymous said:
    I too have my own memorable first birth story last January 2012 which includes a 28 hour labor, fetal distress and Caesarian section due to my not being able to fully dilate. By the end of it, I was just so grateful that my daughter and I were both alive and well. You see, both my husband and I have aunts who died giving birth to their respective children and friends/family members who have had stillbirths. Those incidents made me fully aware of what really mattered in the end - that nothing bad happens to you or your baby. This was the one thing I constantly prayed for during the entire course of my pregnancy until seconds before they sliced me open. The only preparations I completely invested in were Lamaze and prayers. It never occurred to me to hire a photographer, deck out my hospital room with balloons and have catering ready for my guests. I just wanted to give birth safely."

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  23. I have the same experience too! Reading this makes my ass ache. Haha! I love reading your blog post! And BTW, You are very pretty! :D

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This is all pretty new to me so please feel free to share your mommy wisdom!