I can vividly remember the moment I opened the most horrifying gift at my baby shower.
It was about halfway through the gift-giving and I was seven months pregnant. I'd just gratefully received a sea of soft blankets, impossibly tiny outfits, bedtime stories, burp cloths, and other thoughtful baby items I had carefully selected on my registry, all wrapped beautifully in blue tissue paper. Then, a friend who had recently given birth plunked a laundry basket into my lap.
My friends without babies gasped as I pulled out the following items: stain remover, laundry detergent, adult diapers, pee pads, nipple pads, a bottle of laxatives, medical-grade sanitary pads, epsom salts, and — most confusing at the time — a little squirt bottle that I would later discover was for cleaning my 'taint.
WATCH: Parents Editor Natalie Stechyson tells you what to really expect after having a baby in the new episode of "Life After Birth." Story continues below.
"You'll thank me later," she said. And I did, politely, in a thank-you card before I'd given birth, and then profusely over the phone once I had actually pushed a human out of my body, felt like my butthole was on fire, and couldn't be trusted to sit on anything that couldn't easily be wiped down.
Everyone needs a friend like that matter-of-fact, give-no-f*cks mom who ambled into my shower with a baby on her boob and a laundry basket full of truth bombs. Because the pregnancy books — at least the ones I read — don't really prepare you for the utter grossness of being a new mom.
Allow me to be that friend for you.
Our parenting video series, "Life After Birth," seeks to bring conversations about the harder parts of mom life out into the open. We've given you the brutally honest truth about postpartum hair loss and postpartum sex, and now we want to get real about what can happen to your butt, your boobs, your bladder and your dignity after bringing life into this world.
Growing a human being inside your own body can have physical consequences you might not read about in your fave mom blogger's nursery reveal post (that vintage wicker rocking chair draped in peony garlands is lovely, though, Hannah ). Incontinence, hemorrhoids, milk blebs (which, yes, are as gross as they sound) — these are the reality for a lot of new moms.
It's just such a magical time!
In preparing to film this episode, I asked my trusty Facebook mom group what they wished they'd known to expect about life after having a baby. Most of their answers were about the gross stuff, from night sweats and peeing your pants to sucking snot out of your sick baby's nose (a lot of mom life seems to involve bodily fluids).
Why don't we talk about this more? We really should.
Because guess what? The baby grew before I could put him in half the adorable onesies I was gifted at my baby shower. He never did sleep in that shiny new bassinet from my mom, preferring to pass out on my right nipple while I thanked the lord for adult diapers.
And to this day, I haven't used the change table or any of the star-printed covers I'd registered for (I opt to change my wriggler on the floor, where he's less likely to injure himself as he inevitably barrel-rolls away).
But I've used every damn item in the literal box of horrors from my friend. And, to pay it forward, I made the senior video producer (who's pregnant with her first child) take a box of Preparation-H and a stack of nipple pads with her when we finished filming this last episode. She didn't seem very enthusiastic about it.
She'll thank me later.
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