You may have read my last blog about being pregnant, you may not, but it feels a bit like the “before” piece, so at almost 3 months in now I felt like writing the first part of the story “after”.
Now my friend and I found ourselves pregnant at the same time, a due date of 3 days difference, although with my little monkey being an impatient 3 weeks early, and her’s waiting until the last minute before being evicted they actually ended up being born a little over a month apart, and what I find we say to each other a lot is “Nobody tells you that part!” so guess what, I AM going to tell you some of the bits they don’t put on the tin, the small print as it were, so don’t read on if you want to remain blissfully ignorant of some of the less joyous parts in the the joys of new motherhood!
So there I was, having a lovely Sunday, lazy morning, afternoon stroll in the park, you know the kind of thing, when BAM contractions! To be fair I had had some warning signs that the baby might not wait for another 3 weeks but 37 weeks is only just term and I was hoping she would hang on in there for another week or so at least, she, however, had other ideas and she was waiting no longer.
Now I had actually avoided looking at a lot of information about actually giving birth, I was in the “ignorance is bliss” camp. I knew she had to come out so why scare myself silly on google, so maybe they DO tell you some of this stuff, but I knew enough and that would do me. What I had expected was to be waiting around a lot but my contractions came fast and quickly got closer together, there was no waiting around, and no respite, I was just in pain, so I gulped the gas and air I was offered… and promptly puked. A lot! I mean A LOT! that was it, no more of that for me thank you very much!
My “family friendly” labour story goes like this: 6 hours after my contractions began my baby was here. I had a natural birth with no pain relief in a water bath as planned, it was all quite straightforward. Which is all true and all sounds quite lovely doesn’t it? Well, whats missing is where I couldn’t get out of my lovely water bath as every time I tried another contraction hit, sending me to my knees so I was effectively trapped in a watery prison until the whole ordeal was over, and that the reason I wanted to get out was that I would have done anything to get my hands on any kind of drug to get rid of the pain, in my head I was screaming to myself “Just cut the f**ker out of me!” although out loud I was just moaning, a lot, threatening to punch my husband in the face, and saying over and over again “I can’t do this, I can’t do this” and I genuinely didn’t feel like I could. You don’t get much choice though, you kind of have to see it through.
I’m not going to lie, worse pain ever, and I screamed, actual full on person in a badly overacted murder scene screamed, when the baby came out and far from serenely picking the baby up myself and placing her on me like i’d been told, instead I shot backwards in the water in shock that there was suddenly a baby in there with me and had to be helped by the midwifes. But then there she was, on my chest, this perfect tiny little thing, well perfect if you ignore how gross a newborn baby actually is, and it was all over, or so I thought…
What they don’t tell you is that after you’ve got the baby, your lady bits are still going to be getting a whole lot of attention! After an hour I was still showing no signs of delivering the placenta, so needed an injection which made me sick again, and it was still being stubborn, so then there was a catheter needed, and some unpleasant tugging, and then finally it was out, but I still wasn’t done as I was then informed that i would be needing stitches… the only thing that got me through was cuddling my new baby girl.
After what felt like several millennia, a pain suppository was shoved up the back end and we were done, my vag could rest in pieces and I could get a much needed shower and have a slice of toast before being escorted onto the hospital ward, where, due to it being the early hours of the morning by now, my husband was sent packing and I was effectively left abandoned with no idea how to even switch off the lamp, or which button to press to call someone and show me. Thus began my first sleepless night!
I decided to breast feed my baby, and here’s the next thing they don’t really tell you. It’s. Not. Easy! Getting baby latched right is hard, and it can hurt like hell until you get it sussed. Sometimes I still think we struggle 11 weeks in! It’s also frigging exhausting! Newborns need to feed about every two hours… do they heck, try every 15mins or 30mins, or cluster-feeding all evening long for hours until your nipples feel like they want to drop off! Now I don’t regret my choice for a second, but you can read all about what a wonderful bonding experience and how good it is for babies, not to mention cheep (if you don’t count the increased cost of snacks for mum!) and convenient elsewhere. And then there is the night feeds. Yes you expect them, but I underestimated just how tired I would be, and never even considered that I would be in pain from giving birth. Just moving on the bed to get the baby from her basket and in place was hard, I was struggling to move myself and I had to look after a baby. It felt like I would never get better and I wondered how the human race has survived… why on earth would anybody do this more than once? It does get easier though, once the pain does start to ease and I now have a baby who sleeps well at night, I’m just waiting for the 4 month sleep regression to hit and rob me of my smugness… i’ll enjoy this while it lasts!
The next thing I don’t think I fully grasped was how lonely maternity leave can be. Husband back at work before you really know which way is up, still in some pain and now in charge if a baby BY MYSELF! The flurry of visitors has slowed down to a slow trickle and getting out of the house feels impossible with a baby that wants to feed every 10 mins and will scream in the buggy if she’s not calm to begin with! It took a while for me to brave feeding outside my own home, and I always had someone with me when I’d needed to, ( I mean, are you even really my friend by now if you haven’t seen my boobs!) but I only fed her outside on my own in the last few days, at 11 weeks. I still feel deeply uncomfortable and a bit awkward, despite so far having no negative experiences, it’s by far more a personal body image problem than me worrying about what anyone else thinks of me actually nursing.
Most of the time these days I have a happy smiling little baby, other than when she wants feeding/changing/is bored/is tired, but sometimes despite my best efforts, I can’t work out whats wrong, shes crying, wants to feed constantly and wont be put down. I’m stuck at home alone, in my pyjamas as I’ve had no chance to get myself dressed, the baby’s unhappy and i’m unhappy because the baby is unhappy and we both end up in tears. Many times I’ve just sat and cried and felt so alone. Where do you even go with a baby? It’s a mission just to “pop out for a walk” especially when your flat has weird doors so the buggy has to be dissembled every time you want to take it in or out and carried down the garden stairs in two trips. Add a screaming baby to that and you’re effectively under house arrest some days with nothing to do but await the arrival home of your husband so you can hand the baby over to someone else for 5 seconds until she inevitably wants feeding again. On these dark days you can find yourself wondering, is it really worth it? Was it really worth wrecking my body, giving up my carefree and beautifully selfish existence for? What have I done?
Talking of my wrecked body, to start with I found I didn’t much care, after-all I had kept fit throughout my pregnancy and the first lot of baby weight did melt away and I figured once I got the all clear at 6 weeks and could exercise again I could tackle the rest of the weight and start getting some tone back, get rid of the mum tum etcetera, but on the day of my 6 week check we had one of those “dark days” and everything went wrong and it took another week for me to attempt a run. It didn’t go too well, but that was OK, I knew it would take a while, no rush… but now 11 weeks in and all I’ve managed is 3 runs and one circuit class, mostly due to a new and vastly deteriorated bad back. In the mornings I can struggle to get out of bed and lift the baby out of her cot, so exercise is out of the question on these days, it tends to ease through the day though before getting bad again in the evening. I’m starting to feel very unfit, and since breastfeeding leaves me starving and a baby keeps me busy,i’m not eating all that well and yeah, i’m starting to really care, and hate on my stupid mum tum and huge saggy boobs! (And if anyone dares to “remind” me that my body just created a miracle or similar, I suspect they will be told to F-Off!) I now have a plan in place with my trainer to rebuild some strength before starting marathon training, after all London is just 8 months away and it’s currently a struggle to run 3 miles, and 26 seems insurmountable at the moment!) so hopefully I can get a handle on this.
I ran throughout my pregnancy and when I was pregnant I thought that once I could run again afterwards I would feel so light and It would be great, but I didn’t factor in the breastfeeding boobs. Oh. My. God. They bounce, it hurts! They are huge. It’s uncomfortable! I spent a considerable amount of my first two runs just holding those puppies down, and have now bought myself a boobudy (formerly known as a booband) to see if that will help tame the girls. So far it seems to work OK, but I’ve not tested it at any kind of decent pace yet.
So back to my Is it worth it? question. Even on the “Dark Days” I’ll look into her beautiful blue eyes, and she’ll give me a gummy smile (wait, surely not, my 11 week old baby cannot be cutting her first teeth already?!) and I just know that I will fiercely love this tiny being until the end of time and the only answer to that question is yes. Yes its hard work, but it is totally 100% worth it!
And finally, to those people who want to know when baby number two is coming along I say this: Why on earth would you ask someone who has just given birth this question? Seriously? I’ve been asked so many times! Another one? Another one? How much do you think you would want another baby when you’ve only just started to recover from pushing anything up to around 10 pounds worth of flesh and bones out of a tiny opening?! (Thankfully S was only 6lb13) Have another one? I’d rather have my tubes tied and my uterus removed thank you very much! Don’t ask someone with a new baby this. Actually don’t ask anyone this! I’m just going to enjoy this one thanks… oh she’s crying again… grrrrrrrrate 😉