Who ever thought that we would be talking about surviving – when we have just been through THE MOST MIRACULOUS EXPERIENCE in the world – but that’s the truth of the matter. For some reason – people only talk about all the wonderful bits, and it’s taboo to hint that maybe every minute of every day is not filled with overwhelming joy and happiness.
You try sitting on a swollen, bruised fanny, maybe with stitches pulling, or have some little octopus suction trying to whip off your nipple, especially when your head is swimming with hormones, and you can’t remember when you last had two hours sleep, and the phone goes again, and someone comes in with some flowers, and it goes on and on, and of course you love all your dear friends, and you do know that they care so much, but you just need to take a shower cause your newborn baby is asleep, and there is that very important phone call that you didn’t get time to make before you came into hospital, and your partner has a very important meeting today, and you need some more sanitary pads, cause you’ve used up all the ones you had, and you didn’t realise that ……. and the list goes on and on and on.
I had a discussion with a female psychiatrist (mother of one baby at that time), some months before my baby was born, and she said to me: ” Having a baby will be one of the most wonderful experiences you will have in your life – it will also be accompanied by some of the most difficult experiences you will have in your life”. And guess what? – I felt so sorry for her, cause I thought, what a shame that that has been your experience – it will be different for me – cause I am an expert at caring for newborn babies, I can do it in my sleep, and I will make sure that my baby has all the things I would have liked myself to have, and I believe strongly in this that or the next thing, and that is how I will go about things etc. etc.
Boy, was I WRONG.
Perhaps the hardest thing of all is that there is no way you can control everything that is happening, and so things don’t work out the way you had planned for them to go.
The more perfect your plan, the higher your expectations – the harder you fall – and the more let down you feel (and I don’t mean “milk coming into the breast”).
That’s what was so shattering for me – I was initially so sick that I was unable to carry out the exquisite care I had planned for my baby – I had to rely on complete strangers, who had no idea what my own personal preferences were, to care for the most precious newborn baby in the world – MINE.
Now everyone’s circumstances will be different – maybe labour and childbirth and post-natal will be a breeze for you, and maybe your baby will be the most perfect textbook baby – but believe me – something is going to get you somewhere along the line, and the worst thing is – it will most likely occur when you least expect it.
What no-one tells you, is that straight after delivery – you have to climb onto a roller coaster – NO, no-one asks you if you like roller-coasters – you just automatically are placed on one – and off you go – up and down – round the corner, round the bend – up in the air – flying through the sky, when suddenly – there’s no seat under neath you, and down down down you go – and then they give you your most precious baby in your whole life, and say – this is yours – take him/her with you!!!!!!!
And that’s just what effect the hormones have on your body – nine months of pregnancy hormones, racing against time to see if they can get you back to your pre-pregnant state all in six weeks, so that at the six week check – you get full marks!!! Yes, uterus (womb) nicely involuted (contracted back to its original size -nearly), breasts nice and soft – no lumps (ouch, that hurts,) wounds healed – show your fanny now, and what’s your discharge like – brown spots – OK fine. So what are you using for contraception now – what’s contraception, oh, you mean so I don’t get pregnant again, you mean to say that somewhere along the line I’m going to have to fit some sex in as well?????? Hello, is there anyone out there you has any idea what is happening to me????????
Funny, and yet yesterday I had the most beautiful day of my whole life – I can now change the nappy in just under five minutes, and my baby fed beautifully, burped and went straight to sleep, and was such a cherub when all the visitors came and picked her up, and I managed to get to all the appointments, and made a lovely dinner and did the washing – what’s all the fuss about????
Now this is how things are when everything goes right – throw in a problem, and see how easy it is to cope.
I just think that no-one can be prepared for those ups and downs, they are so unpredictable, and this is the time when a new Mother is so totally vulnerable. Even with the most supportive of partners and friends – this is like skiing down a very steep slope – it has to be taken minute by minute, very carefully, and you certainly don’t need anyone pushing you from behind!!!!
So, in short, expect the unexpected and try to keep your expectations realistic.
Most important – You must also take care of yourself – THIS IS CRUCIAL – if you don’t look after yourself, who is going to look after your baby if you fall in a heap ( and that heap may not be about to happen today, it may be weeks or months down the track).