The first time I met Sara was at a friend’s holiday party. The conversation started with the typical niceties.
Where are you from? What do you do?
When I told her about the period product I’m making, she immediately launched into a jaw-dropping story about her recent one-night stand.
The lights were off, and in the heat of the moment, I had no idea that I had started my period. My new friend was a consummate gentleman. But nearly 24 hours after kissing him goodbye, she received a text. “Murder scene,” the text read. He had spent the entire day cleaning up the mess. Mattress. Walls. Ceiling.
Is this woman/stranger seriously sharing this with me over spaghetti?!
I loved the story, especially because there’s a happy ending: he asked Sara out on a second date (which led to round two). Funny thing is, their second date happened to be exactly 29 days after their first. ?
Bloody ceilings aside, any period-sex story pales in comparison to my most interesting conversations about women’s health. The best discussions always revolve around one very specific topic: motherhood.
After one or two stories from millennial moms about episiotomies (yikes), I started asking my friends:
What’s the one thing you desperately wish someone had told you before giving birth?
The answers made me laugh and cry, and touched my heart. These women wanted me to know what’s in store for me, and they also wanted others to know so that there’s a better understanding of what is “normal”. I thought other people would enjoy hearing their stories. These are edited for clarity/brevity, but otherwise the words of the authors.
1. “Lube only does so much. It’s like being a virgin again.”
Shaily, 34, California, Creative Director
The postpartum hormonal roller coaster is a real trip. I went through feelings of abandonment and jealousy (like my husband liked our kid more than me), then moved on to questioning my place in the universe (is being a mom the most important thing I do with my life or am I destined for more?)
I didn’t think I would love my kid as much as I do now.
It’s really hard to have sex later in the pregnancy (orgasms = contractions which hurt) and then you’re not cleared for sex until 6 weeks after you give birth. So, imagine going 2, 3, 4 months without sex (sh*t becomes tight!) and on top of that, breastfeeding messes with your hormone levels so it’s really, really, really dry down there. Not a good combo and lube only does so much. It’s like being a virgin again.
2. “There’s no such thing as “mom genes” (though mom jeans are quite real)”
Christine, 40, California, Founder & Investor
I thought my “mom” genes would automatically kick in once my baby was born… Instead I felt confused, clueless and insecure about my lack of motherly instincts for the first several weeks. I felt like a shitty mom who didn’t know how to breastfeed correctly, changed the diaper all wrong and I swore my baby hated me because he wouldn’t stop crying at 3 am.
3. “The birth is day one; the hardest part is figuring out how to take care of the baby.”
Jesse, 30, California, Founder, Investor, Talk Show Host
- More people have trouble getting pregnant than you realize and no one talks about it.
- Don’t let the nurses or doctors push you around. You don’t have to be induced if you don’t feel your body is ready. That ends in a c-section.
- Get the epidural!
- Breastfeeding doesn’t always work.
- After you have a baby, when you laugh hard, sneeze, do jumping jacks, dance or run, you pee a little even if you do your kegels.
- Your body doesn’t go back to the way it was. It is improved upon in numerous ways.
- The birth is one day and the hardest part is figuring out how to take care of the baby.
4. “I fell in love with my husband all over again.”
Abby, 25, Georgia, Stay at Home Mom
I didn’t realize how having a child would make me fall in love with my husband all over again, but on a deeper and even more beautiful level. I fell in love with him the first time as a man, a friend, companion, lover, etc., and the second time as a Daddy.
The love I felt for him as I watched him fall in love with his son was unbelievable.
5. “It really makes me super mad when people post stuff judging moms for not breastfeeding.”
Jaclyn, 24, Texas, Account Rep
I couldn’t breastfeed and I never knew that some people had trouble. So it really makes me super mad when people post stuff judging moms for not breastfeeding their baby because people just have no idea that some women just can’t or it’s too hard. The nurses tried to help me and I would pump for 2 hours with a double breast pump and get 2 oz of milk. My daughter didn’t pee for two days and my breasts were so swollen and painful, but I had to supplement with a bottle. She wouldn’t take to the shape of my nipple anymore after having the bottle, so I eventually had to resign to that.
Also, nobody told me that during labor, you’re pushing so hard that poo can (will) also come out… so there’s that.
6. “The baby is not the only one who goes home in diapers.”
Julia, 33, California, Sales Engineer
The baby is not the only one who goes home in diapers… leukorrhea is real! No one told me how embarrassingly soaked my underwear would be.
Dani, 30, Georgia, Analyst
I wish someone warned me about the hemorrhoids….I couldn’t sit down for days after birth and that was the worst part. When you’re pushing during labor all of the straining can give you hemorrhoids. Apparently some people poop during labor, too, but I didn’t. I had hemorrhoids so bad that I had to sit on a donut for almost a week and my husband had to insert suppositories for me.
8. “Start taking stool softeners.”
Hanh, 33, Kansas, Neuroscientist
My biggest piece of advice it to start taking stool softeners at least a week before your due date. My doctor didn’t tell me to do this (although some do) and when I finally was able to go #2 about one week after delivery, it was like I was pooping glass.
That said, I think the most surprising thing was that the delivery itself was a piece of cake. I had it so built up in my head as being this awful horrible thing, and it really wasn’t bad at all (the aftermath/recovery was way worse).
But it’s totally worth it. I never imagined how one little person could completely steal my entire heart. And it’s surprising how fun being a mom actually is. I think if I gauged the minutes of my day spent laughing pre-baby and post-baby, they’ve at least quadrupled since his arrival.
9. “Being okay with my body after kids has been a multi-year process”
Ngoc, 33, Washington, Content Strategist
It may sound obvious to many women, but I’ve always been thin and I (incorrectly) assumed I would have my body back. But other changes wrecked my self esteem. Mostly your shape changes. For me, it meant losing my curves and now I feel less womanly. Being okay with my body after kids has been a multi-year process, and the only way I’ve been able to make progress is by realizing that I’ll never have my 22 year old body again.
10. “Being a parent keeps getting better and better.”
Yvonne, 34, England, Stay at Home Mom (and 9 months pregnant!)
Being a parent just gets better and better — this is something my brother-in-law said to me, which I didn’t quite believe at the time, when my first child was 7 months old and really cute.
But it’s so true — seeing your child develop every day/week/month/year is amazing and you feel an ongoing sense of wonder at their ever-changing self. Children’s brains are amazing — they remember things you don’t remember telling them yourself. Infants are cute but watching your kids grow up into little people is incredible.
Final thought: it’s a privilege to have women feel a sense of trust to share these stories with me. So, that’s why I’m publishing them for all the internet to read without their permission.
Of course they said I could write with attribution.
Which is sort of the point, right? These stories should be celebrated and not kept in the closet.