After you have a baby, you’re sucked into that mommy la la land of sleep deprivation, pain, and bliss. Also mixed in there: shame about freaky body issues (seriously, diapers?) and emotions you never expected. Says one mom we spoke to, “Women have been taught to be such high achievers and motherhood is such an unknown, in contrast with work success. I think we feel shame, in part, because what we experience before and after birth is out of our control.” Here, mothers share what they didn’t want to reveal to anyone after giving birth. Relax: You are so not alone. Turns out, that strange smell or the fact that you wanted to sleep more than snuggle is more common than you think.
“I’m pro-breastfeeding, but I did not enjoy the ‘I’m just here for giving milk’ status in the early days. I hated that my husband didn’t have breasts and that the pressure was all on me.” —Jessica F.
“I was so tired from the days of laboring, my C-section, and hospital stay that I didn’t want to hold my baby.” —Cari B.
“I was one of those moms who did not immediately fall in love. Mother instinct kicked in and I took care of my baby, but it took a took a while for me to really connect. And now, I am head over heels.” —Millie N.
“I pooped right in the middle of the delivery as the doc, nurse and expecting daddy were all watching. I have never been more mortified or embarrassed in my entire life. It was so hard to concentrate on pushing after that.” —Patricia M.
“What I was ashamed to talk about: That no matter how much you love your baby, you will mourn and grieve for the loss of you previous life.” —Kristina S.
“I didn’t want to tell my in-laws that I was in labor. To be honest, I didn’t want to tell them I had given birth. They know exactly what to say to get under my skin, and the thought of an extended hospital visit after laboring for 20-some hours was exhausting. I knew they would find something to criticize.” —Hanna M.
“Nobody warned me about the smell that would be coming out of me down there after birth. My husband would ask, ‘What’s that smell?’ in bed and I would just pretend not to know.” —Christina B.
“My nipples hurt so much from breastfeeding that by day two, the thought of feeding my baby filled me with dread.” —Stacy S.
“I was in maternity clothes for six months after birth and lost maybe five pounds of weight altogether. I felt so ugly, like the baby had taken my youth and looks and I would never get them back.” —Anna D.
“I was afraid to go to sleep, because I was scared my baby would have a problem or die while I was out. So, I didn’t sleep for about six days after giving birth. I was a hot mess!” —Anna R.
“I hated people who showed up to meet the baby when we got home and were completely unhelpful!” —Tas C.
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“I didn’t heal after a vaginal birth with my first child. I literally couldn’t wear jeans or sit on the floor for a long amount of time. And sex? Yeah, NO.” —Becky W.
“I cried when I left the hospital because I was terrified of going home and being responsible for keeping a baby alive.” —Stacy S.
“I once fell asleep with my baby on me and woke up because I jolted myself awake, almost launching her off the bed—all because I was too exhausted.” —Betsy L.
“Hemorrhoids. Why didn’t anyone tell me about the hemorrhoids???” —Stephanie A.
“I always thought I wasn’t doing a good enough job breastfeeding. I cried when I pumped for the first time and got a few drops, and was convinced my child was starving. I felt like I knew nothing, but felt that I had to keep up a front that I did.” —Sarah R.
“I had these intense, horrendous hot flashes and chills for weeks after my first C-section, and was constantly a sweaty mess.” —Debbie P.
“I was totally relieved whenever the nurses offered to take the baby to the nursery, so I could sleep!” —Jenny G.
“For months, I felt shame and failure about needing an emergency C-section after pushing for two and a half hours. I’d ask my doctor if she thought I’d tried hard enough, and she reassured me it was beyond my control. I felt so enraged when I heard a relative call a C-section the ‘easy way out.’” —Liz C.
“I had to take laxatives for two weeks after having a baby—I pushed so long during childbirth that my pelvic floor was shredded, and I didn’t have a push left! Oh, and then there was the time the laxative kicked in while I was in the shower…completely gross and embarrassing.” —Shawn P.
“I thought my uterus would fall out of my body for a year after giving birth! I had to explain to my trainer why I couldn’t do jumping jacks. I actually joked, ‘If I jump, you may have to hold me in down below while you take me to the emergency room.’” —Dorothy S.