Depending on what your labour and delivery experience was like, you might have visceral reactions, surprisingly so, to the way it's depicted on TV. You know, where a mum jumps in a cab, gets wheeled into her room, screams for 15 seconds and then out pops a healthy baby. And if you're anything like me, you get even more irritated at how those women bounce back. I've seen the most absurd things on screen, from mums effortlessly scooting over on their hospital cot so that a friend could sit next to them — like you have any control over your hips at that point! — or who are walking around in their home upright, more human than an elderly destroyed person.
Using the bathroom would no longer be a mindless act of sitting and wiping.
As pregnant women, we head to the hospitals to have babies with those inaccurate images etched into our minds. I knew that the pushing the baby out part would be hard, but I didn't know that my anatomy would shift in order to accommodate my baby travelling through the birth canal, or what it truly would feel like to have my vagina rip, or have haemorrhoids. Or how frightening something as plain as going to the toilet would soon become. But I remember returning home from the hospital in the evening on a Friday, and feeling the enormity of it all hit me from every angle. People were asking me questions about soup, somewhere off in the distance my husband was shushing our newborn in the exact way the Harvey Karp books suggested, and I stood motionless in the entryway. I looked at the soup my mum had in her hand, felt my heart immediately race and then spoke. "I have to get the bathrooms ready," I said, holding back tears.
Using the toilet would no longer be a mindless act of sitting and wiping. There were a handful of products that all had to be readily visible like a buffet so that I could layer them just as they showed me in the hospital. Mesh undies first. Then the big pad. Then the ice pack. Then the witch hazel pads. Then the Epi-spray. I couldn't take another step in my house without getting all of supplies ready first. Surrounded by family but alone in that hallway, I'd minimised the enormity of how my life had just changed into one simple activity: peeing. And peeing ended up being a triggering experience for me because I couldn't articulate, at the time at least, why I felt so emotionally burdened by it.
But an ad from Frida Mom, formerly Frida Baby, reminded me of how little we talk about postpartum realness. It does such an honest job of capturing the middle-of-the night isolation new mums face in caring for ourselves while doing the simple task of peeing. Before I could even process the ad, I had to watch it three times. In it, a new mum wakes up, hobbles to the bathroom, and pees, all while her baby cries in the background. But what I see is so much more. I see the aloneness. The awkward pain. The inescapability of it all.
As part of the brand's new line of postpartum care products, Frida Mom put together a couple of videos that help explain its portfolio of products and why it's so necessary. The line is definitely worth checking out if you or someone you know is about to deliver, and the ads are worth a watch too. They echo the suffocating feeling I had in the hallway that day when I came home from the hospital. What we're left to piece together ourselves, while we're alone in the bathrooms at night listening to the cries of our babies in the other room, unable to move any faster than we already are. If you feel like your postpartum experience hasn't been articulated well, you're going to want to hit play.