“Having a curry? Ooo, watch the baby doesn’t fall out! Hahahahaha!!”
Hmm. If only it were that easy. That definitely wasn’t the case when on the thirty fifth hour and two hours of pushing, feeling completely defeated and in the mother of all excruciating pain (and still no sign of baby) I tried taking the IV drips out from my hand and decided I was going home. I wasn’t of course. Instead I was being prepped for an emergency C section and wheeled into theatre with a promise that I could have ‘three more pushes’ with forceps first.
Labour. They say it’s the hardest day’s work you’ll ever do in your life. And trust me, when you’re three days over closing deadline on a magazine and still have pages uncovered that’s a pretty hard day’s work! But this. This is by far something else. I was going to share my birth story but I think I’ll save it for another day.
So now we’re here.
Mia is two weeks old. Dan and I have kept her alive thus far and aside from our *cough* ‘moments’ we’re both pretty chuffed at what we’ve achieved. More than chuffed. We’re amazed, proud, gobsmacked and still waking up wondering if it’s all been a dream. Mia is changing by the day and to us she is such a special gift. And what have I experienced in these two weeks? Well firstly it’s NOTHING like they tell you.
In fact, no one really prepares you do they? So many books exist on pregnancy. But when the midwife makes her last home visit and the GP doesn’t want to see you until 6 weeks later? Well, you’re on your own. Salut, good luck mes amies! The three months that follow the birth of a baby really is like the fourth trimester. Your body is still transforming, your clothes don’t fit and your hormones… well… do you even remember what your personality was like pre pregnancy?
What I’ve learned in the last two weeks…
You’re you. But not really you.
Sleep deprivation, recovering from the birth and flying hormones. Even the drugs and injections I got put on for the week continue to have an effect. Now I know I’m still me but I’m a different version of me. I somehow care less about my own vanity and mishaps. I bought some new clothes in advance to make me feel good and after putting on the new top, I sleepily took the 6 inch scissors to cut the tag and in the process caught a good chunk of my pony tail. Chop! Instead of freaking out I just put the hair in the bin. Hasn’t been washed in a really long time anyway.
Your new voice.
“Hello my darling! You are my little tea cup! Do you know that? Yes you are! You are my little princess!” Yes honestly, my mild Welsh (and often shrill) accent has been replaced with some mysterious English, vintage nursery-rhyme narrators voice. “Baby girl, let us sing some Frank Sinatra! Oh how one does love a good swing song!”. What the…?
On the very rare occasion that you do get to shower for 2 minutes (no more no less) you might find yourself staring at the wall replaying the entire birth story in your head. The thirst for still Lucozade is all still too familiar as are the cries when the epidural randomly doesn’t work. Even the look on Dan’s face when I ask if we’re in Amsterdam (too much gas and air) and the sheer nervousness when the monitor flashes and rings an alarm. It’s those fleeting moments when you’re all alone with no sound where the hospital memories come rushing back. Don’t be surprised to find yourself resting your cheek against the cold bathroom tiles while the shower runs wondering what the hell has happened.
The new level of love for your husband.
Dan and I married earlier this year and on our wedding day I felt love and confident I was marrying the man I want to spend my life with. When said man stands by your bed the entire duration of labour, supports you and has your best interests at heart, the love goes up a notch. When Mia was born and put directly on to my chest my glasses steamed up so I couldn’t see her. He was there to immediately wipe them and detangle Mia from all the tubes feeding in to me. He drove us home from hospital at 10mph almost.
Being together as a family is another level of love. The highest I think I could possibly reach. We’re both so amazed that we created this little human being and nothing can prepare you for the love and care you give to this little bundle and each other. The term ‘my other half’ has never felt so genuine.
The vow to only have one child.
I’ve said numerous times that I won’t be having another. Apparently everyone says this right after labour! Well I guess I may be at 20% wanting another deep down… ha!
The breastfeeding hell.
During pregnancy I was adamant I would breastfeed. I’d be natural and I’d do the whole BF thing. In reality however it’s a lot different and no one – not even the books – prepared me for just how hard it’d be. The pain, the tiredness, the emotional turmoil over not producing enough milk. The insatiable appetite of a 9lb 14oz baby meant that Mia was constantly hungry and I was always leaving her wanting more because I just couldn’t satisfy her demands. I’d read things online and I’d hear people’s opinions and felt so guilted into persevering.
But the truth is there’s nothing wrong with feeding your baby formula. I just wish I’d had the confidence earlier on to make a decision to combination feed or exclusively bottle feed. The indecisiveness and guilt just gets worse the longer you leave it and as they say, a happy mum means happy baby. And now Mia is more than happy and content being topped up with expressed breast milk where possible.
The random outbursts.
Since having Mia we’ve unexpectedly managed to get round to sorting those big annoying things. That spare bedroom door we’ve had propped up against the wall in our kitchen is finally being collected. We put it on one of those free to a good home groups. “There’s actually some really interesting things on this site Lauren”, Dan said. “WE DON’T NEED ANYTHING ELSE” I replied a bit too exasperated. “Oh, sorry love I didn’t mean it like that…”. I think it’s the protective hormone in me…
I can count on one hand the number of years ago that I’d go clubbing three times a week and work a full day on the back of a hangover and three hours sleep. But the sleep deprivation now? I’ve never known weariness like it. Two and a bit hours sleep at a time if I’m lucky. Right now Mia is on a feed every 3 hours even through the night until she puts on some more weight. And each feed takes a good hour. So it’s impossible to sleep any more but luckily Dan is taking some of the feeds to give me a break!
They say that day 3 or day 5 is when you spend 24hrs crying. Well those days came and went and then for about 10 days I cried over anything and everything. Seeing pictures of Mia two days old makes me well up because she was just so small. A random TV advert that features an old person makes me realise just how short life is and I cry. Honestly I’m not quite sure when this phase ends? Crying with frustration and tiredness but knowing that we’re doing a really great job. In fact, mothers everywhere you’re doing a great job!