Afterbirth: 5 times I was completely baffled by my body after having a baby 8 years ago

Afterbirth: 5 times I was completely baffled by my body after having a baby

When you get pregnant, your body takes on a bit of a mind of its own. A lot of its newfound functions feel like superpowers (growing a person inside you and the ability to nap at will) though others are a little more disconcerting (like being able to kick your partner in the back in bed at night by butting the belly up against them).

There is also a certain amount of caginess around the whole birth thing for the expectant mother. Lots of people don't want to tell you too much about what's coming in case it freaks you out. Though, in fact, the radio silence is way more unnerving if you ask me.

After I had the baby, I kind of went into full-disclosure mode a bit too enthusiastically. I'd be in a group of women comparing labour room horror stories when I'd offer my anecdote about the grapefruit (see below) which would be met with uneasy silence. Either I'd taken things a step too far or they had no idea what I was talking about.

Either way here are the 5 times I was completely baffled by my own body after having a baby:

1 The first time I went to the loo, after the birth, the midwife gave me a disposable receptacle roughly the shape and size of a fedora. She instructed me to wee into the hat and leave it in the bathroom. Despite these bizarrely cryptic instructions, no part of me thought to question why I should do this or what I could expect to happen. So I got the shock of my life when I started my wee, and a round ball of blood and tissue about the size of a grapefruit fell out of me. There's no other way to put it, for the size and shape of the thing, which I initially thought might be my baby's twin, it was utterly bizarre that no straining had been required. I'd had a c-section, so my lady area had been unaffected by the birth. I never did find out what it was or what happened to the hat. I obediently left it there as instructed and can only hope that no one came across it and got a fright.


2 The first time I cried after giving birth, my breasts started leaking milk. Was it out of some sense of solidarity? It was almost like they were sad too. The boobs continued to spontaneously leak at inappropriate moments for weeks after, including while watching Law & Order: SVU, when my brother-in-law brought a gift of macaroons and whenever I saw another cute baby. Weird.

3 Nightly for weeks after the birth I had intense bouts of sweating which really baffled me. I would wake up and literally have to change my pjs and bedclothes there and then. Nice.

4 Sleep-mania. This was the term my partner, and I came up with to describe a strange affliction that overcame me often in the early months. He would wake up to find me searching while still apparently asleep, for the baby. Searching among the bed covers, in the Moses basket, under the bed, everywhere. That or else I would be propped up in bed "sleep-nursing" a pillow or just my own arm while the baby slept in the next room.

5 Phantom crying. This is a weird one that a lot of new mums will recognise. These auditory hallucinations would plague me all hours of the day and night. When I was just dropping off to sleep, I'd hear crying and go to check the baby only to discover he was sound asleep. A kind of inverted extension of the Phantom Crying was the Cry-less Wake Up Call. In the early days of night feeds, I would always wake up before the baby cried for his feed. My eyes would ping open at 2am, 3am or 4am to a completely silent house then like clockwork a few minutes later his cries would ring out into the night.