A year ago, I was discharged from the hospital with nearly 20 stitches and I was still bleeding from my wound. I had lost over 500ml of blood and continued to bleed for another four weeks. My condition caused me to have hot flashes and night sweats. I had trouble sleeping, I lost a lot of hair. As my swollen organs healed, they shrank back down about 2,000% to their original size.
I also lost weight. A lot of weight. More than 24 pounds in just 2 weeks. While weight loss sounds great in theory, I assure you it wasn’t in reality. My body was loose and weak – it just left me with a saggy, empty feeling.
I got dizzy when I stood up too fast. My back always hurt and my abdominal muscles were shot, so I had to use my arms to haul myself up from a lying or sitting position.
During the first 6 months of this postpartum recovery, I also caught a few colds. And every time I coughed, I peed myself because my pelvic floor muscles were shot, too.
My body itched, my face broke out, and some parts of my skin were raw and cracked. I was constantly thirsty as my body tried to keep up producing.
I was constantly in pain, which affected my mood and at times bordered on depression. I had a short temper and difficulty connecting with my loved ones. In the early days, I couldn’t see past the pain. Most days, I just didn’t see the light at the end of this long and arduous healing journey.
I sought the advice of my doctor, pleading, “This can’t be normal. I think there’s something wrong with me.” She tried to reassure me that everything I was experiencing was typical and would “resolve itself.” And I kept asking myself, “Why wasn’t I warned about this?”
When people complimented me on how great I looked and how much weight I had lost, and I would stare back at them with a strained smile, offer a polite thank you, and think to myself, “If you only knew.”
As months went by, it began to get better. I got stronger and my wounds healed. Some were still visible; some only I could sense. But my condition had forever changed my body. It felt different now – not bad, just different.
And today, one year later, I have actually gained a great appreciation for my body and its capabilities. Before these scars, I was a different person. There are scars, they are an emblem of what has shaped me into who I am today. Strong. Resilient. A mother.
This is postpartum.