Heh. Where to start.
Let’s break down the 5 senses.
When you’re pregnant, everything smells odd, and sometimes, awful. Excruciatingly so. People on the bus are magnified until their stench fills your entire being and you want to retch and retch. Food might disgust you. The memory of my father cooking a steak during my last pregnancy comes to mind-the smell and even taste of blood filled my head.
After you’ve birthed your child comes the lovely smell of lochia, magnified if you’ve hemorrhaged. Throw in unwashed human stink and sour milk smell from leaking breasts, and you are a veritable ball of blech that only time can rid you of. I never smelled that wondrous baby smell-I was too busy reeking from the various things dripping from me.
Find good things to smell, to create a barrier between you and the stench. Vaporub comes to mind.
Nothing tastes the same when pregnant. Thankfully that comes back afterwards, but then it’s all tied up in memory. I ate X when I breastfed for the first time. I was eating C when I switched to bottles, I had Chinese the first night we were home. Taste cuddles up with memory, and you find stages in your child’s life to be melded to food.
Somethings taste FANTASTIC. I’m intolerant/allergic/whatever to eggs and dairy. When pregnant, I could eat ALL OF IT I WANTED!!! And I did. However, the guacamole/tortilla/bean with bacon soup meal I had one day? NOT a good idea. Just sayin.
My entire pregnancies were full of touch me/get away from me. It was a greek drama I swear. During the births themselves, I know my husband was there, but I cannot remember what he was doing for the most part. I’m sure he was touching me, but I don’t remember. What I DO remember are the hands of strangers. My own OB/GYN was on vacation for BOTH of my births 2 years (almost) apart, so I gave birth with no familiar faces other than my husband. This is part of the reason I want to go into midwifery. No one should give birth alone in a crowd like that. No one should have their uterus entered by handS after birth to detach retained placenta either, not without drugs. No one should have to remember that helplessness.
Remember that you can control your birth and surroundings. Your body, your child. Take what is yours. Demand what you can, stand up for yourself. Don’t come to regret anything later.
My eyes are already terrible, and didn’t get any better after the birth. But I can tell you, you learn to navigate blind in the night since putting your glasses on makes you stay away. Unless you want to watch the Daily Show at 3 am. Then go ahead and put them on.
I will say that the sight of your child for the first time, regardless how you feel about them, is an incredible thing. I made that! It came from me! now it’s pooping everywhere! You’ll see your eyes, your nose, his mouth. You’ll see years in a moment, and no words could contain or release that. It’s a transcendent sight.
Childbirth is funny-you will hear everything, and nothing. Time will condense into a moment where everyone holds their breath waiting for you to deliver, and yet they’re all screaming at you to push. (Real helpful btw, the screaming) All the intense moments in your life-they build up to this, to the real thing, to the moment of truth where you find the strength you may have never realized you had. This is where being a mother starts-saying you can’t while doing what needs to be done.
And then, they will cry. Personally, I hate hearing newborn cries, but still I remember them taking Rosalyn from me because she had pooped inside, and she was quiet and I remember worrying and realizing how I had counted on hearing that voice.
And then she let loose. How sweet is the sound of life truly beginning.
The stuff you don’t want to know? It WILL change you. Say what you will-say that you won’t turn into a “mom”, that you won’t be uncool or whatever. But to parent, and parent well, you must change in subtle ways. You become stronger, you become a mama bear standing over your cubs, you become a version of you that was never anticipated, but always there, waiting in the wings.
You couldn’t imagine it. I couldn’t. Yet today I sit here wondering what kind of person I would have been without my children. I wonder if I would still feel so remote and distant in the world, so aimless. For me, having children served as a guidepost, a catalyst, for good or ill.
The same might hold for you. No one will tell you this, because it isn’t cool to admit, but suddenly, having the newest “whatever” won’t matter, at least not for the first little while.
But no one will tell you how fantastic of a ride having a child, birthing a child, on your own, without drugs, really can be. Please try it-so many women have such horror stories of their births, of the regrets they have, the voices they didn’t use. USE YOUR VOICE.
Find the answers. Ask the questions. Listen to your body. There really is no stuff you don’t want to know, just stuff no one will tell you.