Motherhood brings about a number of changes in your life, your relationship, your home, and of course your body. Motherhood causes everything from broken blood vessels to broken dishes.
And those are the minor damages. What the experts don't tell you is that from the moment you pee on a stick, your body is under attack, and there will be no truce. Ever. Because you have children for life, not just eighteen years or so.
The majority of the damage is done in the first few years. However, some body parts will remain under pressure for years to come. This is just proof of the resilience and strength of mothers. Just look at what it does to:
The mother's body is at risk immediately following a positive pregnancy test. It will swell, stretch, sag and bloat in unusual places for nine months.
With hard work, and maybe some really good genetics, a lot of this damage can be reversed, though their may be permanent marks to serve as reminders.
Still, the woman may go through a struggle for years. During the baby and toddler stage, she may lose a lot of weight, due to living solely on a diet of caffeine and leftover bites of cold food she sneaks from abandoned dinner dishes.
Later, she may gain some back as she learns how to swallow an entire candy bar in the time it takes to walk from her bedroom to the nursery to see what went bump in the night.
The brain suffers greatly from the effects of motherhood. First it is bombarded with pregnancy hormones, which contain a certain type of acid. This acid eats away areas of the brain that used to know basic things, such as phone numbers, addresses, and where certain items are located around the house.
After the baby is born, the brain is forced to survive for weeks without sleep or proper nutrition. This may continue for several years.
Also, an enormous amount of new information is downloaded to the brain's hard drive during the bonding process. Most of these files contain numbers, such as for weight percentiles, height milestones and ounces per feeding vs output at diaper time.
As time goes by, more and more new information displaces old data. Eventually, a mother struggles to remember appointments, birthdays, how to count change, where the television is located....and so forth.
Instead, her brain is filled with numerous clothing sizes, prices of diapers, her child's likes and dislikes, and how many jars of baby food will stack neatly in 200 cubic feet of space, if all the jars are uniform in size. She can also tell you the age of her child in years, months, and possibly even minutes.
The brain continues to stretch, allowing for memorization of the proper names of all imaginary friends, the songs to all Disney films, the rules for 50 board games, the names of all the local ER nurses and a running total of how much change she has lost to vending machines.
All this exercise makes the brain incredibly flexible. Even though she has every situation and routine memorized, if a child suddenly changes his or her favorite color from green to blue, mom can completely take on this challenge in 2 seconds without batting an eye as if she already knew this would happen.
By this time, the brain is essentially composed of only two working parts--the mom part, which takes up about 98%, and a small section known as the primitive survival area that works as a back up battery to part one, while also managing all things non-mom related, like remembering to pee.
Due to the changes in the brain, hearing is affected. While a woman is pregnant, she may suffer from hearing issues. Excessive fluid can make ears feel stuffy. A constant pulse or ringing isn't unusual either.
Once babies are born, mother's have the ability to hear them breathing from several yards away. They are instinctively aware of every move a baby makes while sleeping, and are often surprised that no one else can hear anything but the loudest cries.
After awhile, mothers are no longer able to hear low-pitched noises, such as the crunching noise that has been coming from the dishwasher for a month. She may also not be able to hear high-pitched whining.
A separate part of hearing develops to compensate. She can hear the sound of a magic marker being applied to a wall from the next room and knows exactly who whispered what from the time-out corner.
Another area that suffers are the eyes. During pregnancy they become blurry due to extra fluid pressure, yet they can spot a single dog hair or grain of sand on the floor of a darkened room during the "nesting period".
Months later, mom will be able to see tiny splinters in tiny fingers, but she may not be able to see piles of laundry, unless it has a dime sized stain.
The body's biggest organ takes a heck of a beating during pregnancy and after. First, it stretches to make room for a growing baby.
Despite what they tell you about the womb containing only a baby, a placenta and some fluid, anyone who has been pregnant knows that there is probably a bed, a sofa, a lamp, a bookcase, and a bean bag chair in there too. That stuff is either reabsorbed or discreetly removed by the attending physician during birth.
The result is a series of "stretch marks". Basically, those are the places where your skin was ripped apart and healed back together slowly, without even bleeding so you could earn some sympathy.
The body swells in other places too. Legs, ankles, hands, wrists, and face are all prime targets. And of course, you may go up a bra size. Or three.
Just like a deflated balloon, the skin has issues going back to normal after all the extra contents have been removed. All that saggy baggy skin postpartum will continue to ooze out of your clothing for six weeks to sixty years.
The skin on the face will look pale and bruised after a mere three weeks with no sleep. The hands may dry out and appear wrinkly from being constantly damp.
Yet mom's skin continues to be warm and soothing to her children, and develops a permanent "mommy scent" that only her offspring can recognize.
The internal organs undergo major stress during pregnancy, as they struggle to perform for and support multiple users. (Think of a power outlet with multiple items plugged in at the same time.)
While the woman is pregnant, the lungs are squashed to half their normal size,
The liver and accompanying organs filter all that extra blood.
The stomach starts up the ultimate rebellion.
After pregnancy, the lungs, liver, and other organs return to normal (with the exception of the stomach, which still wants to eat for two, even if it is only 1/3 the size it used to be). But the organ that undergoes the most change is...
A woman's heart begins to swell during pregnancy. This will not be visible, but she will become more and more aware of it.
At birth the heart will have nearly quadrupled in size. This is to make room for all of the extra love that a woman will suddenly feel.
It may feel like the heart will burst, and the woman may experience chest pains and palpitations for months or years afterwards.
Every time the baby laughs, cries, gets injured or has his or her feelings hurt, the sensation will be filtered directly through the mother's heart. The heart will continue to swell to make room for new fears and emotions as her child grows.
Unlike effects on other body parts, this will never go away. It will be a permanent alteration to a mother's anatomy. She will never be able to ignore the sensation, but it won't be fatal. When she looks back, she will see it as the sweetest suffering she ever endured.
Happy Mother's Day!