So I’ve crawled out from under my eventual baby for five minutes. And I’ve managed to do it without leaving my boob in her mouth so the respite won’t last long. I sit here with tense hunched shoulders waiting for her hunger cry as my partner stands guard over our sleeping babe. The less said about my labour the better. Suffice to say it did involve most of the interventions that modern medicine has to offer as my little sweatheart’s hands were up by her head making passage into this world a little challenging. We all got through it in one piece and she is a very healthy little girl, still with her hands stubbornly up by her head most of the time and boy is she strong.
I have formed many views about the treatment of pregnant and post-natal women and believe me, they are extreme. In a nutshell it is all rather barbaric at times and I can’t believe that any other group of people requiring medical attention due to a known condition would be expected to put up with so much pain, a smattering of avoidable mistakes and then be sent home still anaemic, mildly incontinent, unable to sit down or go to the toilet and with the scantest set of instructions. Follow up midwife visits have proved a lifeline but at one out of the three home visits I was meant to get, I am one of the lucky ones in my area. After that I was asked to travel two miles to a children’s centre and I’m sure it was that bus that gave my poor baby her first cold at a delicate two weeks old.
On the plus side the dedication, knowledge, experience and support of the midwives has been really touching. And guess what, they even seem to CARE!!?? Every midwife we had contact with throughout the entire journey came to visit once she was born. The Maternity Day Unit was a godsend and haven during our days of post-due date waiting. It was the one place we could turn whilst drifting on paper between the GP you rarely see and the nameless consultant in charge of your pregnancy that you’ve never even seen. The super-gentle cervical sweeps administered by those amazing midwives made it possible to avoid induction and I’ll be eternally grateful for that. They never made me feel like I shouldn’t be there asking for help and they went above and beyond the call of duty to care for me and for the baby in the way that I wanted. Even the Birthcentre midwife that sent us away with no pain relief and then made us ‘wait another hour’ throughout my night of contractions came to say hi and I realised, in a strange way, that she was trying to do us a favour.
Now our daughter is four weeks old she is really blossoming into an alert, thoughtful and determined mini-me. We’re starting to get something back after the initial weeks of feeding anxiety, general anxiety, endless nappies and loss of our former lives – oh, to go to the pub on a warm summer’s day for a care free pint – those were the days! To any would-be or expectant parents: do make the most of your remaining independence I’ve been stuck in the same armchair watching more Come Dine with Me and Homes Under the Hammer then I’d ever care for even in my wildest ‘duvet day’ fantasies of my former working life.
She listens when we sing to her; she spends periods of the day awake and looking round entertaining herself but NOT CRYING (OMG!); she looks up and smiles at us from the apocalyptic and multi-coloured scene of her changing station; she notices changes in light from room to room and from inside to out; she pulls through for us at the eleventh hour and does that poo/feed/sleep just at the right moment to enable us to get to an appointment or occasional social engagement; and she gives off an air of superiority and intelligence in the company of the legions of baby boys born at the same time as her (8/2 in our antenatal class alone – a pattern repeated across the south east from what I’ve heard!).* *Heh heh, not so unusual, women have been doing this since time immemorial I think it is the feminine ‘je ne sais quoi’ that we all know and love – I knew I wanted a girl!
The post-natal hormones are quite something; I’d like to say I’ve laughed and cried but it’s mostly been tears. And I mean proper meltdowns. Arguments with parents and partner, crying sessions in public over whether to attempt to eat in a restaurant or not – by now you may be able to taste the anxiety-tang, ‘what am I going to do if she wakes up screaming and disturbs the whole restaurant?’. Maternal angst by the bucket load: She’s been asleep for hours, do you think she’s ok? Vs. Omg she won’t sleep…! She won’t breastfeed properly vs. ‘can you just give her a bottle, my nipples hurt.’
Most of all, my partner and I have spent the last four weeks falling in love with our daughter. This is really the crux of it. The why, wherefore, what and how. It isn’t so easy for some mums and it doesn’t always come naturally but we’ve been incredibly blessed with the most wonderful, beautiful being who we’ve been able to get to know her and nurture even through the tough times. We’re a little team now. And just thinking about it in a sustained way makes me cry with joy (and maternal angst). It’s like having your heart in the vice-like grip of her little hand…
But darn it, my time’s up, I hear her summoning cry.