Postpartum: not for wusses

The boy is three weeks old.  Nobody gave him the memo on how breastfed newborns are supposed to gain weight more slowly than formula-fed babies. He is packing on insulation like nobody’s business. When he was born, he was eight pounds, and a long, skinnyish 21 inches. His elbows and knees had folds like saggy elephant skin, and his fingers looked long and wizened. Not anymore. He is a mass of dimples.

Ever since the blocked duct incident, left boob has been seriously overperforming. Right boob is totally normal, doesn’t get engorged, steady-as-she-goes…  but left boob almost fills up before the little guy can finish emptying it. Did it step up production because we nursed more from that side to get rid of the blockage?  I woke in the dark this morning and it was so painfully full I could see lumps on it where the ducts are, and little guy couldn’t get a grip on it. I sat in the bathroom and hand-expressed about a fourth of a cup of milk just to get things loosened up a little so I could feed him.Is there any way to get left boob to slow the heck down, or do I just wait for the little guy’s consumption to pick up and even things out naturally?

Postpartum is not for wusses. The first week, I could hardly bear to even wash around the stitches. Not because they were painful and swollen (which they were), but because the geography was so altered it was frightening to me.  Now at three weeks, I’ve got a better picture of it, and it’s still a bit frightening.  I have a Bartholin’s cyst. I dont’ know if it’s from the stitches or the swelling, but something has blocked the duct to the Bartholin’s gland on the left side, and it is swollen to the size of a chocolate truffle and feels like a rock under my skin. And it hurts. My pelvic floor muscles are still stretched out like old elastic. I’ve regained enough strength there that I’m not leaking urine when I sneeze, but once I sit down to pee, I can’t stop. I try, but no matter how hard I squeeze, I can no longer cut off the flow in midstream. I trust that’ll come back eventually, but I’m wondering how long it will take.  The biggest concern, though, is that I think I’m dealing with some organ prolapse. If you’ve read this far, I’m guessing the TMI is not a problem. And I really, really wish someone had told me about this stuff before I had the baby, so it wouldn’t feel so scary now. Lying down, everything feels relatively normal, but upright… things are bulging into my vagina that didn’t used to bulge there. If I had to guess I’d say it is my rectum in the back (which would explain the vengeful return of the constipation– things are just not the right shape in there) and my uterus in the front. These things register as a constant feeling of pressure on the pelvic floor whenever I am standing, and the front-side bulge (which could also be my bladder) is large and low enough that it “holds the door open” when I’m upright. It’s a strange and disturbing feeling.

I looked it up, and found that some 50% of women who have kids experience some degree of prolapse. The prognosis: It can improve over time, especially with good posture, but it never really goes away. Gulp.

Here’s what I don’t understand: when you are pregnant, and everyone and their sister is telling you all their horror stories about pregnancy and childbirth…  why is it that everyone tells you about the sleep deprivation and hemorrhoids, but not this? No mention of organ prolapse, when it happens to half of mothers? Is it too embarrassing because it’s a continuing problem? That’s one thing I would have liked to be a little more mentally prepared for!

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