The first month

Four weeks ago yesterday, I won the lottery.

Not really, but I did give birth, and it feels almost the same. Not that I would know. I’ve never won the lottery. I do know that if that ever happened, there would be the same amount of screaming and tears as there was in that operating room 4 weeks ago.

The screaming was courtesy of my 4.1kg boy that had just been liberated from the confines of my insides. Although he was not a happy chappy at first, he has relished the freedom to move ever since and all that swaddling practice I had done before he arrived went out the window.

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I went into labor at 3am in the morning after a painful membrane sweep being done the previous day. At least, I think that’s what the doctor did, because it felt like she had shoved her whole hand up there and I was in some serious pain that night!

We were quite calm as we had been waiting and preparing for this moment for it seemed like forever. I had read all the books and watched the movies and I knew what to expect… at least I thought I did. I didn’t really think about what would happen after the birth, I just concentrated on getting through the contractions, which were escalating quicker than I had anticipated and was more painful than I had thought.

As a pain relief technique, I got in the shower while DH made sure everything was ready for the hospital. There he was, 3:30 am, busy boiling eggs and buttering provitas to put in a lunch box in case I got peckish at the hospital. I knew there was a reason I married him!

The hot water of the shower was awesome for the pain, but when I got out, it was like the pain was even worse than before and the contractions were coming quicker and quicker. I had wanted to labor at home most of the time as I liked the idea of being in a comfortable and known environment to lessen stress, but my pain threshold was apparently lower than I had thought, and we decided to get a move on to the hospital.

When we got there at about 5:30am, I was booked in and they got around to examining me at around 6am. To my frustration, I was only 2cm dilated, though I was fully effaced. I almost cried when I realized I still had 8cm to go. I had read about labors that lasted about 3 hours and had convinced myself that I would be as lucky, but unfortunately it didn’t look like that was meant to be, and I knew it would probably still be a while.

Because baby was in a posterior position, I had back labor, which was extremely uncomfortable. I’m pretty sure if it wasn’t for the excruciating back pain, I would have handled labor much better. Even so, the time seemed to fly. What felt like 10 minutes later but was actually an hour and a half, I caved and asked for an epidural, which I got within about 20 minutes! It was bliss to have no pain after that, even though it was quite uncomfortable to get the epidural in in the first place.

Directly after that, I was examined again and the doctor was surprised to find that I was now 6cm dilated after only about 2 hours! She broke my waters and gave me two hours to progress, after which she wanted to do a cesarean as the baby’s heart rate was dropping during each contraction and she didn’t want to put him through too much stress.

After the 2 hours went by, I was only 7cm, so I prepared myself for the cesarean. I had known coming in that it might come down to that as the doctor had warned me that due to baby’s size and position, a cesarean may be necessary, so it wasn’t too much of a blow. I was a bit disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to give birth naturally, but I was also a bit relieved that I wouldn’t have to put my private bits through that trauma… I could never quite believe that a vagina could ever bounce back after an experience like that!

Once I was on the operating table, things progressed quite quickly and smoothly. It was a little freaky to be able to feel them working in my tummy, but there was no pain. Hubby was next to me the whole time and kept talking to me to take my mind of the fact that they were busy cutting me open while I was wide awake… a fact that was freaking me the fuck out!

Before I knew it, they were showing me my perfect little boy. I’ll never forget that first glimpse I got of him. It was before he had taken a breath to give voice to his cry, but his little face was already scrunched up and his mouth wide open as if screaming. A second later he had taken that breath and I heard my little boy’s scream.

He was whisked away from my sight while they cleaned up and did their tests, but I could hear him the whole time. It was then that it hit me that I had done it! I had carried to term and I was now a mommy. The tears came then and the anesthesiologist (I had to actually Google that spelling coz even spell check couldn’t help me!) handed me a tissue like she had known I would need it.

I couldn’t move, as they were still stitching me up, but eventually they brought him over and laid him on my chest. It was the most amazing moment, when I looked down and my little boy looked back into my eyes. I felt like a veil had been lifted and that we were in fact in heaven. Heaven was in that moment when I looked into the dark brown eyes of the little person that had grown inside me and that I had given life to. I remember being surprised that his eyes were not blue like I had heard all babies were, but it was a fleeting thought. He was perfect.

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When they took us to the recovery room, the nurses helped me latch him and I felt completely content. I’m pretty sure if my heart hadn’t been contained in my chest, it would have floated away at that moment. Hubby was next to me the whole time, telling me about the big pee Little One had taken as soon as he got out and how the stream ended up in his own mouth, and about how he was surprised how difficult it was to actually cut the umbilical cord. I soaked up everything that he said, wishing that I could also have witnessed that, but not begrudging him the experience.

There are so many things that I am grateful for now. During the pregnancy, I was terrified that I would be a horrible mother and that my baby wouldn’t like me. Those fears haven’t left me completely, and I don’t think they ever will thanks to my upbringing, but they don’t send me into a panic attack any more. I’ve taken to motherhood amazingly and I’m surprised by myself most of the time.

I was also terrified of losing the baby because I had had a miscarriage before and in the back of my mind I tried to never get my hopes up as anything could happen. The first time I saw his heartbeat, the relief I felt was tempered by my defenses coming into play. I couldn’t get too happy, because the road was still long. As I grew and started feeling him move, my happiness was dampened by doubts and fears. Even when I was in labor, I didn’t let myself get excited, as there was still the chance of a still birth. I think I might have missed out on a lot of the joy of pregnancy because of these fears, but that’s all over now. The first time I heard him scream was like music to my ears. The protective wall I had built to protect me in case anything happened came crashing down and my chest felt like it would explode with the joy that I had been denying myself through the whole pregnancy.

Since then, a sort of calm has come over me. Before he was born, I had been a nervous wreck about the type of mother I would be, but now, I just know that I will be okay. I was made for this. I am mommy.

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I was in hospital for 3 days, and that whole time, Little One only left my arms when daddy was holding him or when he was being passed around to family and friends that had actually taken the time to come and welcome him into this world.

My mom and sister, Hubby’s mom, and Tanya and Uzane were the only people to come visit that first day. I can’t say that I was surprised that my dad and the rest of the family on that side didn’t come, but I won’t pretend that I wasn’t disappointed. When my sister’s baby was born, everyone came all the way down on the first day. Maybe because he’s not the first boy in the family, Little One isn’t important enough for a visit? Whatever, not like I want them to have anything to do in his life anyway. The less Little One sees of them, the better off he’ll be.

Hubby wasn’t allowed to stay the whole night, so he went out and celebrated that first night. Needless to say, he got slaughtered. Funny enough, I wasn’t too upset when he only rocked up at 10 the next morning. Previously I would have been very upset and jealous that he had been able to go out without me and that he was late, but I felt that I was the lucky one who had been able to spend the first night with our little boy. I hadn’t slept much that night, as Little One had slept in my arms, but I was as happy as a pig in shit.

The next day I was able to get up and take a shower, which was awesome, but a little painful. The pain meds they give you are awesome by the way, although I felt a little out of touch with reality and that was not good as I was holding Little One… I felt like nothing was real and I was just a character in a tv show… weird feeling!

Then we found out that Little One has a heart murmur. At first this freaked me out and the wall tried to shoot up again, though that was impossible. I was already waaaayyyy too in love with him. It turned out to be a small hole in his heart and the specialist said that it won’t be a problem and might even close by itself in time. We’ll see when we go for the 6 week check-up. He also had pussy eyes, but that really was nothing, and I was told to just clean it and it will go away.

The rest of the time in the hospital was spent learning to breastfeed and how soothe him. My dad and stepmom did eventually come down for a visit, and the visit was riddled with veiled criticisms and unwanted advice as I knew it would be, but at least they made the effort. I didn’t want to see them, but I wanted my son to have a family and perhaps the love that I never felt I received. I’ve since changed my mind though, and couldn’t care less if we don’t see them ever again. Little One will be better off without their poisonous influence in his life and I will definitely be much happier!

Hubby had taken 3 weeks leave, so we had some really good bonding time when we came home. Most days we just stayed in bed with baby between us when he wasn’t on the boob. I don’t really remember anything specific of that first week at home; except for my emotional outburst one night when I cried because I just couldn’t contain the love I felt. I’m pretty sure that was still some left over hormones though, as those outbursts have now dried up. Not that that means I don’t still feel the same emotions… they’re just under better control.

The last week of his leave, we went to Hubby’s parents’ place, and that was just like taking a holiday. The days flew by in a predictable routine of me and baby relaxing by the fire while I re-read Harry Potter for the umpteenth time. Oh yeah, I have a tradition of reading Harry Potter whenever something big happens in my life… there’s a story behind it, but now is not the time for telling it.

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Anyway, last week was the first time I had spent truly alone with Little One as Hubby had gone back to work. It wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. Like Hubby said, I’m a natural at this. And for the first time, I actually believe him. I feel like I’m doing exactly what I should be doing and I’m staying calm. I’m taking it one hour at a time and that’s working. I don’t feel the panic that I did during pregnancy and none of the worries about money etc. As Hagrid says, “Whatever will come will come, and we’ll meet it when it does.”

The fact that Little One is a super easy baby is a big help I guess, as he doesn’t cry a lot at all! The only time he really cries is when we change his diaper or bath him. Seems like he doesn’t like being naked… Weird for a boy!

Anyway, that’s all for now. Cheers!

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