What to actually expect at your postpartum visit

I arrive at the doctor’s a little late. That’s my mantra these days… “a little late.” The six weeks at home have flown by. It feels like just yesterday a watermelon was tearing out of my vagina. But hey, I can probably carry the car seat and the baby combo to the building and back, I think to myself, it’s not that heavy. What a stupid fucking idea. I finally make it the elevator with a swagger that isn’t out of ego but of struggle, and make it to the front desk sweating. Why the hell didn’t I just use the stroller?

The nurse finally calls me back and I hoist my overloaded diaper bag over my shoulder and schlep the car seat and baby down the hallway to get weighed. Oh joy. Yes please tell me how much baby weight I haven’t lost yet. By the way, this whole breastfeeding-burns-a-ton-of-calories-and-the-weight-just-falls-off is a big scam to conceal the nipple-tearing agony of nursing. But I digress.

The nurse takes me down the winding hallway to an examination room, pulls out a pink paper jacket and a white paper sheet and leaves me with the instructions to strip down to my birthday suit and use the paper products as a deft cover. I carefully undress, peeling away layers of confidence along with the clothing. Not exactly sure what to do, I stand in the middle of the room, swaying a little out of newborn-holding habit, and wait for the doctor.


Minutes that seemed more like eternities pass. Suddenly, the baby decides he has had enough of his arch-nemesis, the car seat. Wailing ensues. I unstrap him and pick him up. He wants to eat. Of course he fucking does. Still struggling to get the hang of breastfeeding, the thought of doing it in a room without my beloved support pillow leaves me feeling unequipped and inferior. I thoughtfully lay my baby’s blanket on the only chair in the room as a measure of barrier, and sit bare-assed and struggle to arrange baby, thin paper lap sheet, and pink paper jacket in a modest assembly.

Since I’m already sweating, the paper clings to me. The baby can tell how fucking uncomfortable I am and his flailing arms conduct the symphony of his cries. I finally give up on modesty and throw the shredded, tiny paper napkin cover to the floor. I finagle his latch, and he slurps happily away. I also feel something warm and wet running down my belly. Oh right, the fucking milk let down of my other boob.

The doctor comes in to see a sweaty, milky, breathless mess of mother and baby. She graciously doesn’t stare at my condition and proceeds to get the basic questions out of the way. She seems relieved that I’m an easy postpartum patient, no baby-blues-depression or physical ailments to speak of.

Finally it’s time for the exam. I put the baby back in his car seat and he decides that since there is an additional audience he wants to be the compliant, quiet baby who makes people look at me sideways with doubt and a little judgement when I tell them that no he’s not an angel and yes in fact he does cry.

The doctor is impressed with my lipstick-red nipples, telling me that no they actually don’t look bad at all. Maybe she doesn’t know that they’ve been through a tiny, toothless meat grinder, but even if she did, she’s already moved on to the fun part of the visit, guiding my heels into stirrups.

She prods my outers and I feel kind of like a canine on a judging table at the dog show. She carefully lubricates her finger, and says to take a breath. I want to scream. How the fuck does a finger hurt this bad after a human head has done its damage? I whimper and grimace, and she tells me that the pain is normal. She also tells me everything looks good, I can resume sexual activity. I almost laugh in her face—I mean I would have if she was up at my shoulder level. After that exam it seems like a cold day in hell before that happens again. Sorry, hubs.

I ask her a few questions, she answers, slowly sliding towards the door. She hurries off to another patient, another mom-to-be or another postpartum-mom with more questions and more vaginas to examine. I look at my little guy in his car seat. Unaware of my adoration, he looks around at his fuzzy surroundings. I do my best to wipe myself free of the fluids that seem to be coming out of every surface, and notice that my breastmilk seems to have caused my fashion-forward paper jacket to stain my breasts and belly pink. How feminine.

I don’t know what I expected out of my postpartum visit, but probably like motherhood, it wasn’t this. Motherhood has been a unique challenge that I don’t think I would have ever been totally prepared to deal with. My tiny offspring and I are making it though, and that’s an accomplishment in and of itself. Finally we are on our way home. Me to shower, him to poop (again), and my husband to disappointment.

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