You had a baby! Oh my goodness, you rockstar, you! Soaking up those precious baby smells, listening to beautiful lullabies, and falling deeply in love with a tiny human being are coming right up. Worrying every second of the day, sleepless nights, smelling like spit up, and sheer exhaustion are right around the corner too.

Know what else is headed your way momentarily? Postpartum.

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I was expecting some of what I experienced after the birth of our son. Some being the operative word. I knew my hormones would be all over the place. I knew my body would be a bit disheveled.

Let’s just say I was prepared for 10 percent of what postpartum would be.

Because it’s more than the hormones. It’s more than adult diapers.

It’s crying and laughing within the same minute. It’s yelling and being frantic for days and somber and mute for the next. It’s crying for no reason. It’s immense sadness and self-doubt. It’s a chemical imbalance that’s tinkered with for months until it reaches stability.

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It’s haunting dreams of fearful possibilities for your little one. It’s treating every worry as a doctoral thesis and spending all-nighters researching what these symptoms are until you become a master in poop studies.

It’s insomnia and daytime naps.

It’s a heart bursting with love and the baby blues.

It’s immense pain. It’s shaking in the shower while the water drips down your wounded body. It’s cringing and squinting while getting up from a seated position. It’s paranoia to use the bathroom. It’s excruciating breast ache.

It’s weight gain after weight loss. It’s starvation and overconsumption all at once.

It’s underwear that goes up to your breasts for comfort. It’s three pairs of pants (oversized shorts or leggings) in rotation for six months. It’s the mental breakdown in the closet when you get to leave the house for once for a nice dinner with your husband, but nothing fits the way it should, and you’re standing on a floor of hangers and shirts that couldn’t possibly look worse on you. It’s succumbing to the trusty dirty t-shirt and maternity pants for a date. It’s looking in the visor mirror where you don’t recognize the woman looking back at you.

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It’s haireverywhere. By the fistfuls. It’s topknots to avoid the hair loss. It’s stained teeth, and bad skin. It’s hemorrhoids and back pain. It’s hairy legs and greasy, rooty-colored messy buns. It’s fat feet because the swelling hasn’t gone down yet.

Postpartum. It’s a period of time when a woman experiences every possible change in her body as she becomes a mother.

It’s more than hormone imbalances.

It’s more than the clothes not fitting.

It’s much, much more.

Jennifer Bailey

Stay at home mom enjoying one little boy and navigating parenting one trip to Target at a time.