There was a lot I knew to expect about my postpartum body. I knew it’d take a while before sex was an option and that it’d hurt at first (although I didn’t know how long or how much). I knew I would still look pregnant immediately after delivery — and for a number of weeks after that — and that my belly would likely henceforth be a bit on the squishy side. I knew my thick, shiny, pregnancy-hormone-fertilized hair would not be sticking around and that there was a good chance my feet would never again fit into those shoes I bought for that wedding last year. But some of the changes to my body took me completely by surprise:
I couldn’t tell when I needed to pee
I knew I might lose some bladder control and that I should remind my muscles they existed by doing kegels 10 times a day. What I did not expect was that in the early days and weeks following delivery, I would not be able to tell if I needed to use the bathroom until the absolute last possible minute, when I would suddenly realize total mortification and humiliation were imminent and then I would run (or waddle) to the bathroom and pee about 10 pints. After a few very close calls and one change of underwear, I learned to keep an eye on my water intake and to just guess when I needed to pee until my body regained its senses.
I grew sideburns
OK, not actual facial hair, but after all my lovely pregnancy hair was done shedding all over the house, forming hair balls and blowing like tumbleweed under couches to ultimately be eaten by my toddler, new hair started to grow in. So that now I have a layer of short soft baby hair all around my hairline and longer chunks of hair at my temples. Chunks that escape from all attempts to tuck them behind my ears and wind up sticking out at right angles or making me look like I’m doing an Elvis impression.
My boobs are totally lopsided
I’m pretty sure they started out the same size, but after breastfeeding for over a year, this has changed. One boob is better at milk production than the other, and this has resulted in it being a good cup-size bigger. I’m hoping this will resolve itself when (and if) I finally stop breastfeeding, but I have my doubts. I may just have to start wearing one “chicken cutlet” bra-stuffer to even things out. I feel quite sorry for the smaller boob — it already had nipple envy.
My nipples changed
One was always ever so slightly shy (also known as inverted) and only came out to say hello when cold or… happy. When I first started breastfeeding, it had to be coaxed and lured out via a hand pump before my son would deign to latch, and it caused me to cry a couple gallons of tears while we figured the whole latching thing out. For awhile I nicknamed it “the dud.” But over a year of feeding a monster child 50 times a day, it’s now given up on retreating. I guess it figures, “What’s the point, he’s only going to wake me up in an hour anyway.”
I got skinnier
I’d pretty much accepted that I would carry a pregnancy souvenir weighing about 5-6 lbs around with me forever more. I’ve never successfully dieted in my life, and exercise is for suckers, so weight gain seemed inevitable. But between said monster child breastfeeding 24/7 and having to give up cheese, butter, chocolate, and all other delicious things for seven months to accommodate his milk protein intolerance, I now weigh about 10 pounds less than I did before I got pregnant. This has come to pass with pretty much zero effort from yours truly. My exercise routine centers on carrying my son upstairs for naptime, and cheese has now resumed its rightful place as my primary means of protein. But one of these days my little calorie sucker is going to slow down and (one can hope) stop breastfeeding, and I can guarantee I will not eat any less or suddenly take up CrossFit.
So there you have it. Sideburns, lopsided boobs, and a higher likelihood of wetting myself. But I’m skinnier and have more symmetrical nipples! For now. Ultimately, the shy nipple will doubtless retreat and I’ll eat all the pies back to my normal weight, at which point I’ll have another child and the fun will begin all over again. Just from a squishier, lopsided, and more incontinent starting point.