Look, I am going to toot my own horn here (or whatever that expression is). I am going to risk sounding full of myself but I am damn proud of how I’ve handled my crazy pregnancy and labour experiences. I’ve learnt so much about what I am capable of both mentally and physically, which sounds funny because a lot of things didn’t go right. It doesn’t mean that there weren’t moments I felt like my body had let me or the Little Mister down, but there were a lot of things my body did right.
They say you should talk about your birth experience – especially if things went a little haywire – as it can ward off post natal depression and keep you positive and supported. I totally believe this now and it’s why I’ve been so brutally honest about everything I’ve experienced. Sharing my story and talking to my husband and my family about it without being afraid of a few tears has really helped.
I feel a bit bad like maybe I’ll scare some people who hope to have children some day, but look. I’m here and I have a beautiful, healthy baby to prove that despite the challenges everything can turn out well in the end. I think I did teeter dangerously close to depression at some low points of my pregnancy. I was tired of everything that got thrown at me from rashes to diabetes to the mysterious infectious end to the whole ordeal (which luckily resulted in a healthy mum and bub after a bit of TLC). I thought that if there was something that could go wrong, it would happen to me. Oh, that condition only affects 1% of pregnant people? For sure, I’ll get it! I admit to thinking negatively and worrying a lot. I didn’t think of myself as a strong person at all. I felt inadequate and helpless. Sometimes I felt like I was alone (which I know I wasn’t but when you’re down you think you’re the only one).
Everyone said to me that when Little Mister arrived, I would forget all of those troubles and everything I’ve been through would fade away. I didn’t believe them. I was trying to be realistic about it all. I knew that in my position I might not feel amazing right away and I refused to pressure myself to feel that new baby euphoria immediately. If it happened (which I prayed it did) then I would be so relieved and if it didn’t, I would be mentally prepared, know the signs and ask for help.
I can’t believe my luck. Everything really does seem worth it with my little guy around. I love him so much. In fact, maybe I love him and appreciate him even harder after all we’ve been through together. Sometimes I do get sad flashbacks to my labour experience or the trauma that certain events brought me in the lead up to his birth. I acknowledge and honour those feelings. I talk them out and I give them a little time (and a couple of tears) before moving forward. I have so many new things to learn and love.
I am recovering from an emergency C-section and it can be frustrating. I don’t know where I would be without the help of my husband and the support of family. It really is physically limiting and I try not to let it affect the way I bond with our bub, but there are admittedly times I can’t jump up out of bed (on account of being too sore) and lift him up into my arms when he cries. I need a lot of help and sometimes I just cannot do everything I want to. I try to make up for it wherever I can and I am not pressuring myself to do too much or to be a super mummy right away.
Something that affects me a little is the fact that my baby was taken away to another hospital for special care hours after birth. He was gone about three days and I only got to see him when he was placed on my chest right after the C-section. This is hard for any new mum, but I think that being an adoptee, I found it particularly tough when on day 3 the baby blues kicked in (only I had no baby with me yet). I realised that my biological mother had been through a similar (albeit permanent) trauma. I had now felt what it was like to go through a lot to have a baby and then have nothing to show for it. I felt so blessed that it was just a temporary situation (a few days really is going to seem like a flash in the pan as we clock up the quality time with our gorgeous bub), but it made me very sad. I was so jealous of my husband because he was able to visit Little Mister (but also so grateful he wouldn’t be alone). I felt empty and shellshocked and it still brings tears to my eyes sometimes when I talk about it. I had looked forward to seeing my beautiful baby for so long – he was the reward for all my hard work – and now he wasn’t there. I was hooked up to drips and stuck on an uncomfortable hospital bed, feeling as if I was still pregnant because I had nothing to prove otherwise (a swollen post-surgery paunch didn’t help the matter). Each day I feel a little better about how everything’s turned out, but I doubt I’ll ever forget those feelings.
I now respect those who go through harder situations than me so much more than ever before. My small taste of separation from my baby was more than enough for me to go through. My heart goes out to those who aren’t as fortunate as myself and my husband. My husband said that it was humbling visiting the neo-natal ward at the children’s hospital. Our baby looked so big and healthy compared to the tiny, struggling premature babies who were in the humidicribs. The parents of those other babies would look on in shock at how much our baby was thriving compared to their tiny, delicate infants. They must have wondered what he was doing there. Our Little Mister might have had an infection and needed oxygen and intravenous antibiotics but he was big and strong. I love him so much and he already makes me proud.
I see so many positives out of this situation. I have a healthy fighter of a baby. I now know what I’m made of. Even when trying for a natural labour I kept my composure and I did what was best for me and the baby (never letting myself get too distressed). I now know I can handle pain I’ve never experienced previously in my whole life and now I feel like I could get through anything. My rash has disappeared and I can eat what I like again. I am healthier because my diabetes taught me better dietary habits and I can look at the warm, inviting spring sunshine and not be afraid that it will make my skin unbearable to be in. The small pleasures in life are certainly not taken for granted anymore.
Itchy stretch marks on my belly and pock marked legs? Who bloody cares! Look what good things my body did! It knew to get the baby out before it was too late. It responded to the drugs I was given and it is healing fabulously considering what it’s been through. My faith in my body is returning, which is actually a really big deal for me.
I have so many good things to look forward to in life and I’m on the craziest learning curve ever. Love really does conquer all if we let it.
If I have any advice (unsolicited again – sorry) for other new mums, it would be to not expect yourself to feel 100% awesome and competent and crazy with baby love 100% of the time. It’s OK if sometimes you need a little cry or if something isn’t quite working perfectly. Just get some support if you need it and you’ll be able to move forwards onto all the good things in life. The baby blues are real and that’s OK.
In saying that, sometimes it’s more than just baby blues and you shouldn’t have to suffer alone and ashamed – here is a link if you’re struggling xo