If I took all of the books about pregnancy and stacked them together, they would probably cover the entire eastern seaboard, but where in the hell are all the post-pregnancy books?
I'd like to see JUST ONE.
It could be called, "Lower Your Expectations: What to Expect After You've Been Expecting."
I'm not talking about the sleep deprivation or dealing with the new arrival -- that information is more than readily available in the equally globe-suffocating litany of baby books. I'm talking about the physical changes a woman's body goes through after nine, no wait, 10 months of carrying around another human being inside her.
So, to make up for the lack of information out there, here's my take on post-pregnancy popups, spurred by my latest lovely discovery:
Somehow in my delusional third-trimester, I had assumed that I'd be walking out of the hospital wearing my old jeans, which I'd be able to zip up without a struggle. Reality is much different. Genetic freaks of nature aside, elastic waist bands remain a part of a new mom's wardrobe much longer than any of us would like them to. That is, if you can manage not to douse them in gasoline and set them ablaze right where you threw them down in an angry heap on the bedroom floor.
What goes in, must come out. All that awesome fluid retention that makes a pregnant woman's fingers and toes look like bloated sea creatures seeps out through the skin's pores overnight. Literally. As in, don't take that plastic sheet off your bed just yet. Because even if your water didn't break while you were sleeping, you'll probably wake up in the week after giving birth wondering if your roof gave way after a torrential downpour. Or a giant tidal wave crashed through your bedroom window, soaking only your side of the bed.
Even after the pounds recede and the water weight turns your formerly luxurious 800 thread count sheets into something unfit to donate to a secondhand store, nothing is quite where it used to be. Then you remember that your body just had to make room for a head to pass through your crotch. And your new hip girth turns your formfitting jeans into a tourniquet. The number on the scale might look like it used to, but the number on the measuring tape sure doesn't.
Another little-known fact of pregnancy? It makes your feet grow. And if you're a self-described shoe addict like me, you probably have what should be your retirement savings invested in a stack of boxes in your closet. So after pregnancy when your feet stop resembling that of a water buffalo and your center of gravity returns to normal and you want to slip on your favorite sexy stilettos and feel like a vixen again and they don't fit? Then you open box after blessed box only to find out that almost NONE of them fit? Because your feet that have ALWAYS been a size 8 1/2 since the eighth grade are suddenly and inexplicably a size 9? And you want to scream about the injustice of it all? Go right ahead.
After spending three hours in active labor pushing my daughter out, I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised when a hemorrhoid the size of Manhattan took over my sphincter. But I was. There is no way to describe the feeling of excreting last night's dinner around a throbbing, pulsing vein. Well, maybe except this: I would rather go through childbirth.
Did you know that the hormone crash in the days after delivery is so intense it's like the equivalent of overdosing on downers? Guys, if you thought your lady's mood swings were intense during pregnancy, hold onto your tissue boxes and be supportive. If not? You'll find out why the female preying mantis eats her mate alive after they're done having sex.
Here's another one that should've made the "well, duh" list but didn't. I guess it makes sense that after your uterus is forced to more than quadruple in size, there will be repercussions in the menstrual cycle department. After the 30 days of post-baby bleeding stops, then your body graciously gives you a reprieve. (I guess Mother Nature felt like giving women a token thumbs up. Like a shitty prize at the bottom of your cereal box.) Then it hits. And the executives at Tampax need to get with the program and up the ante because those super jumbos are, in the eloquent words of my husband, "like tossing a cotton ball into Niagara Falls."