So much doom and gloom.
Reality of Motherhood: The most magical feeling and the best experience I’ve ever had. Yes I’m tired, exhausted in fact, but I’ve showered every day and managed to enjoy a hot cup of tea and have dinner ready for my husband most nights. I’m no hero, but I do what I can in the day. I go to baby classes, take the baby and dog for a walk, meet a friend for a coffee, take baby swimming. I’d go stir crazy at home every day so once the cluster feeding calmed down, and I felt confident enough that he could go 20 mins between feeds, I got out there.
I pushed myself too much at first, desperate to “get back to normal” but we got into our rhythm and more than anything I was determined to enjoy him. Our time together is precious.
It can sometimes be a struggle to get out of the house but it really is mind over matter. If I have plans, I make it there (albeit sometimes a little late) whereas if I have no plans, it can be 3pm before I’ve left the house if I don’t put my mind to it.
Taking your child home for the first time: Surreal. We arrived at hospital at 22:00 on the Saturday night, Arthur was born 23:41, and we left hospital at 4pm on the Sunday afternoon. It all happened too quickly really and I think I was in shock.
In hindsight I think I completely missed out early labour and was straight in at the deep end.
So yes I’m pretty sure I was in shock. But we were also so desperate to get home. I had managed to have a wee and get a shower, and Arthur had latched on and fed a few times, so they were happy to let us go and we were discharged. My sister and her husband visited that evening and we ate takeaway pizza in a haze of bewilderment, pain, exhaustion and bliss.
Best advice: Get through the first two weeks of breastfeeding and it’ll be fine.
I’m sure every mother-to-be has a list of goals, or priorities. Mine was to breastfeed. I had more worries and sleepless nights over this than I did about the birth. I was determined – don’t quite know why but I was. I’d watched YouTube videos (be careful what you google) and read as much as I possibly could, but nothing quite prepares you for something both you and your baby have never done before.
When I was discharged from hospital I was discharged to the wrong borough; I live on the Cheshire/ Derbyshire border and this confused matters apparently. So my midwife team weren’t informed that I was home and I never got my initial home visit and breastfeeding support.
Despite all the research, I didn’t know what I was doing. I was trying so hard, but I was in pain, and I would stall having to feed him. I was in tears when my husband passed him to me, this little squidge of loveliness that I was starting to resent feeding.
By Wednesday it was unbearable, we went to the breastfeeding support at hospital, with my notebook of times he’d feed and for how long. There were pages of it. It was confirmed that Arthur had tongue tie. We luckily got an appointment for the following week and went home with a glimmer of hope that it would get better, which it did, eventually. The bad latch from the tongue tie had already done its damage and a nipple shield saved my breastfeeding journey.
If you want to breastfeed, it’s tough at first, and there can be complications and hurdles, but it’s all been worth it for me.
Worst advice: I’ve not particularly had any bad advice as such, but have endured comments that, although may be flippant or even well meaning, made me feel down, frustrated or even failing at times as a mother. Although that might be more to do with my state of mind.
“Don’t cuddle or hold your baby too much as they will then expect it all the time and you’ll get nothing done” was repeated quite a few times when Arthur was, happily, being passed around for cuddles. All I’ll say is bite your tongue, or if you don’t mind confrontation then speak your mind but most of all don’t take it to heart.
The hardest parts of being a mother: It’s relentless.
They need you – they cannot function without you – and there is no let up. You feel like you’ll never get a minute to yourself, you feel like a part of you has gone forever. Well, that how I felt at first. That haze of sleep deprivation gets into everything, and your hormones are all over the place. Everything is hard work: getting dressed, having conversations, remembering things, keeping in touch with friends; all hard work. But all worth it.
I remember only a couple of days after giving birth I came back from the bathroom, stood in the living room and just cried. I felt broken, like I’d never feel right again. My body wasn’t mine, it was unbelievably sore and flabby and it upset me a lot. What I now realise is that of course your body takes a while to heal but it does stop hurting and it does get better.
I still feel like I’ve given up my body to my boy, and maybe it’s because I’m still breastfeeding. I don’t feel like I did. I wish I’d appreciated my pre-baby body a little more, it was never as bad as I thought it was and maybe one day I’ll learn to appreciate my post-baby body too.
The best parts of being a mother: My heart aches when I think of my boy. There simply is no love like it. The first few long car journeys we had I found difficult, I missed him! I’d spend so long with him either sleeping or feeding on me, he felt part of me. So to be separated like that for a period of time was strange, I felt lost without him in my arms. Now if you’d told me that before birth I couldn’t have comprehended it. But that’s unconditional love for you, I guess.
I’m amazed at things Arthur can do. I really should give him more credit. Weaning was a big challenge for me. Milk was easy! I was dreading the mess, the fuss of it all, the rules, the guidelines, and I felt like I really didn’t know what I was doing. But how hard can it be to feed a child? Well, not that hard it seems. We have gone be down the baby led path and despite the absolute horror of watching him gag every mealtime for the first week or so it seems to have paid off. He can feed himself and drink out of his Doidy cup at 7months old. I’m not talking fine dining with the best silverware, but he shovels in more than we often realise, the proof is in his nappy.
Has becoming a mother changed you?
Massively! I’ve more faith in myself – I’ve kept a little human alive for 7 months! Quite how I don’t know but we are doing pretty good I think.
Hopes for your family: To grow!! We both have siblings (my husband is one of three and I am one of four) and we so want that for Arthur. I fondly remember bickering with my sister over Monopoly, turning out the bathroom light on each other, and our brothers slapping our foreheads every time we walked past them. It’s all part of growing up.
We had great times together and we spent most childhood holidays in Wales in the great outdoors and that’s what both me and my husband want for our little family. There really is nothing like blowing away the cobwebs with a brisk walk in the countryside.
What advice would you offer to new and expectant mums:
Do a hypnobirthing course.
Don’t let anyone visit for the first two weeks. Talk to your husband/partner/family if you feel down after birth.
Grow a thick skin when it comes to advice; mother does know best for their child.
Go to some mother and baby classes. You will naturally gravitate to other like minded mums and it’s nice to have people in the same situation as you.
And breathe. Sometimes you need to take a step back to realise how far you’ve come.