I got so much advice in my final weeks of pregnancy it all flew over my head a bit. The usual ‘sleep now because you wont get to sleep when the baby is here’ was a repeat offender. ‘You will forget about how much it hurt when you hold you baby in your arms for the first time’ was the other one that kept floating around.
Everyone talks about falling in love with their children and before I had my own I assumed it was kind of a given you love your kids no matter what. What wasn’t explained to me was that deep feeling of love that takes over your body when you give birth to your first child. That moment you realise it’s not a normal love, its not the love I feel for my husband or my parents, it is a raw love. You feel it instantly and you feel it all the way down deep in your stomach. It travels up your body until you burst into tears of joy. No one told me about this. No one really explained the love a mother has for her child and how it hits you when you look at that sweet little face you have grown inside you. I know this feeling for me has just gotten stronger and stronger with my Archie as the weeks go by.
Every pregnancy and labour is different. There is no way to predict how either will go and at the end of the day the objective is to deliver a baby into the world safely. My birthing and parenting decisions were my own and this is my honest reflection of how I felt at the time.
My labour began at 2am on Friday 30th October, I was booked in to be induced at 8am as I was now 41 weeks pregnant. I was in labour for 18 hours. 12 of those hours I endured on just gas and a tens machine. I knew it was going to hurt. Whilst I was having contractions I couldn’t talk. The pain for me was paralyzing. I tried to just focus on my breathing and count my way through it.
I got to 8cm dilated and thought I was on the home stretch. My midwife explained that generally woman dilated about 1cm an hour until 10cm then they push. In my mind I was preparing myself for the actual delivery. An hour passed, then two, then three and I was still at 8cm. I started to feel like I was having contractions in my lower back. We discovered my baby was stuck and he was also in posterior position. We tried to turn him but it just wasn’t happening. I was advised to have an epidural as it looked like I was going to have an emergency caesarian.
I’m not going to lie I balled my eyes out. I never had a birth plan but I also never anticipated being in labour for so long and the grand finale of my pregnancy resulting in a caesarian. I have nothing against women who opt for C-section births but I had come this far and felt a little robbed. I felt like I was cheating myself, like I had run a marathon only to sit down before the finish line whilst everyone else passes me. My doctor on the other handfelt it was the safest option and with Archie starting to get distressed I consented to the epidural and caesarian.
Some time passed and I was comfortable. The epidural numbed my body from the chest down and we prepared for theatre. I thought to myself why didn’t I get this earlier, at this point I felt exhausted. I couldn’t talk much, I felt hot and I really couldn’t wait for it to all be over. The doctor said the procedure would take 20 minutes. I couldn’t believe it, I had just been in labour in excruciating pain for literally a whole day and I was 30 minutes away from holding my baby.
I didn’t feel any pain. I just felt a lot of pocking around. I closed my eyes for most of it. When I opened my eyes my son was on my chest. There were tears of joy and relief. A boy, a beautiful baby boy and he was all mine. While the pediatrician looked over our son and George cut the cord I started to pass out. I think it was a combination of the drugs, exhaustion and blood loss. George and Archie went into the nursery and I went into recovery. I was bleeding profusely and they needed to control the bleeding. The whole time I was in recovery all I could think about was how this whole experience went completely different to what I had expected. I was worried I wouldn’t breastfeed now, I was concerned about the major abdominal surgery I just had and the recovery! It was an hour and a half before Archie and George came into see me. Thank god Archie latched straight onto my breast and we fed for 3 hours. I felt like I had been run over by a bus but I was straight on the job.
The hospital was like a holiday for me. I had help feeding, the nurses offered to take Archie into the nursery so I could get some sleep, they helped me settle him. Whatever I needed they were just a click away. It’s when you come home that reality sets in. My boobs were dripping like taps and my nipples were grazed and sore and I was still bleeding. Breastfeeding is a hard job. I love the connection I have with my son whilst feeding but as natural as it is, I wasn’t a natural at it and we were both learning.
Everyone talks about how tired you are as a mother but I think it’s more like exhaustion. You become a zombie, its groundhog day, you become a slave to the breast and all the hours roll into one. I tried my best to sleep when Archie slept, I didn’t cook for the first 6 weeks and I sometimes went for days without showering. I feel like everyone wanted to tell me what worked for them and what they did and some people even went as far as telling me what they thought I was doing wrong. The truth is I don’t know what I am doing. I don’t think any first time mum does, but no one wants to admit that. There are times in those first few weeks that I broke down. I had moments when he would be sleeping that I felt so alone. There were times that we cried together neither of us knowing the reason why. I am constantly second guessing myself but I do whatever works for me and my son. The first few weeks of motherhood for me was getting to know my son and giving him a chance to get to know me, hormone induced breakdowns and all.
So here I am 17 weeks into this parenting gig and we are both still alive and happy. I look at my son everyday and tell him how he has changed my life. I find myself planting kisses on him every chance I get. In his short 4 months of life he has taught me more about myself than I could in 30 years. He doesn’t need to tell me he loves me because I feel it but I cant wait for the day he looks at me and tells me he loves me to. I have found strength in moments I thought I couldn’t. I feel a love I really did not know even existed. I now know and understand that love my mother felt for me. A deep raw love that nothing could ever really compare to, the love of a mother for her child.
I want to say a special thank you to Kelly Jordan photography who captured my pregnancy and birth journey. You work speaks for itself, you are amazing.