How It's Been -- up to week 10ish
I expected, but have not (yet?) experienced, the 6-week (or whatever) postpartum loss of hair that some women experience known as telogen effluvium. (For some reason every time I try to call up this phrase in my mind what comes up is "telefloragenesis," which I would guess means "the manifestation of flowers at a distance.") In fact, my hormones seem to have stabilized when they were supposed to at the 2-week mark.
A good thing, too, because I was having fits of sentimental and/or melancholy weeping whenever my milk let down, that second week. Even my skin has remained clear, although I'm not on the pill and I'm not pregnant. Now the only mood swings I have are pretty much attributable to frustration, isolation, lack of exercise, and lack of personal care.
I wrote a big rant in my everyday blog about having to leave the house with the baby for trivial reasons, which was spurred by a particularly trivial incident by a faculty member who should know better. I had to go along with it because I needed some things signed by them, but the whole in-person bit that they insisted on took only 15 minutes and could easily have been done by fax or email. After that entry I figured I better make a baby blog so's not to clog up the everyday one. Not that this isn't my everyday, now...
At any rate, my outer toes are nearly back to normal now. I'm not sure if that painful-but-numb sensation was from my shoes being too tight, or from my leg nerves being compressed by the weight of the baby as the literature discusses. I worried that my feet would never feel okay again, but it seems they will.
A lot of issues, like the feet thing, seemed to resolve by 6 weeks. I see why it's a milestone. I really thought that I'd heal faster than whatever the standard is, especially with an unmedicated birth, but it still does quite a number on your body.
My midwife told me that my uterus is now tilted sideways. Not really problematic, I guess, but...boy, does having a baby do a number on your body.
The thing that was worst (here's where it gets TMI), was not the perineal stitches or the weird flap that my emptied belly became. Nor was it the sore nipples of the newly-nursing mother, nor the uterine bleeding and afterpains, nor the crushed and bruised urethra and bladder. No, the worst part was the hemorrhoids. That's right, the hemorrhoids.
Now, there was little that prepared me for this torture. Texts mention it only in passing, as though it were a small, insignificant annoyance; an aside. "Oh yes, you might also get hemorrhoids. Use witch hazel or an OTC preparation to treat this condition." Television advertisements treat it like a joke, because it involves your butt. But I'll tell you what, if any other part of your body hurt this badly, they'd have the surgeon general talking about it in hushed tones.
Turns out other mothers know about it, too, but never let on. So in the interest of informed consent, I'm telling you now. If you look at postnatal message boards, you'll see things like "I cant belive how bad teh hemrids are! Their worst then th epistoimy." I'm ready to belive it myself.
I guess it makes sense: there's so much outward, downward pressure on all the tissues and fluids in your pelvis, especially during second stage when all that pushing is occurring. Imagine the most strainy bowel movement you ever had, then multiply that by about 1000. It's no wonder that veins balloon out your rectum.
Add to that perinatal constipation, and it got so I'd break out in a sweat just thinking about having to go to the bathroom those first couple weeks. It'd be like the worst raw scrape you ever got on your knee, and then picture rubbing driveway gravel over it. Only it's on your behind, the toilet bowl water is red with blood, and you're trying to go to the bathroom. While your new baby cries for you in the next room. Nightmare!
I'm still not healed, though it's better than those first few weeks. I hope it goes away at some point, because I'm really, really tired of it.