Child: Olive, 8 months
Expectations of Motherhood: I was told my life would be over, I’d miss out on so many opportunities, it’s hard work etc.
Yes it can be hard at times, but what you get back in return makes it worthwhile. I think people like to pinpoint the bad things about parenthood and skip out all the positives. Since becoming a mum I’ve met so many wonderful people and get to do so many wonderful things! I might not be able to go out every weekend and stay up til 6am talking shit in someone’s kitchen anymore, but waking up to my baby’s foot in my face is SO much better than a two day hangover. I’ve had one night out since having Olive and I was home for 11. I think over time I might have the odd night out, only if something is good on, that way it’s more special.
Reality of Motherhood: Winging every single day! Constantly worrying about anything and everything; rashes, their breathing, fever, their poo. Wearing your hair in a bun and living off snacks.
I have struggled with anxiety, depression and OCD, on and off, since childhood. When I found out I was pregnant I was in a very dark place, I had just left a very toxic relationship and moved back in with my mum. The pregnancy gave me the motivation and strength to pick myself up and begin a new and exciting chapter of my life.
I moved to Rossendale when I was 6 months pregnant, into a pretty, hidden away house. The views were amazing and I could really imagine my baby girl growing up happily there.
I was struggling very badly with anxiety before the birth and was prescribed medication. I decided not to take it, as I didn’t want my unborn baby’s heartbeat to slow down (which was a common side effect of this specific medication). I felt the possible side effects included in taking the meds, would just add to my anxiety. I didn’t even like taking paracetamol, so I kept my body free from any drugs. I tried to meditate, go on walks and listen to music, but I knew the only thing that would help my anxiety, would be the safe delivery of my beautiful baby girl. I opted in for induction when I was 40 weeks and 2 days pregnant.
I wanted a water birth, with my hypnobirthing CD playing in the background, dimmed lights and a calm atmosphere. I didn’t want the midwives to use any words like “pain” or “contraction”. I had it all planned out, but unfortunately my dream birthing experience didn’t happen. I did manage to get IN the pool, but got out when I was 7cm dilated and asked for an epidural, which I didn’t really want to do. It was at that moment when I realised I didn’t care HOW my baby was born, I just needed her to be born. Quickly. She was slightly back to back, so after an hour of pushing, she wasn’t budging and she was getting tired. I was told they were going to take me down to surgery to try and move her with forceps and if that didn’t work, emergency c-section.
By this point I was so tired, I’d been in active labour for 15 hours and I thought I was tripping when my mum walked in the room with scrubs and crocs on. Forceps, an episiotomy and 5 pushes later, my perfect 9lbs 2oz baby girl was born into the world. She was handed over to me and she felt all warm and squishy. I put her straight on my chest for some skin-to-skin. She didn’t cry, but just stared into my eyes. Olive Lorelei Florence Coogan is what I named her, I couldn’t believe she was finally here. I don’t think I took my eyes off her for the rest of the evening.
She was so perfect and took to the breast straight away; she was already a pro! I was quite poorly after the birth though, I ended up staying in the hospital for a week. My episiotomy stitches burst open and got infected and I got mastitis in my right breast. I couldn’t walk to the bathroom so had to have a catheter. I was in agony. My mum sat by my bed every single day and I cried to her “I just want to enjoy my baby, but instead all my energy is going into this pain”. I had to have an injection in my belly every day, to stop me from getting blood clots. The doctor told me I needed to walk around, but every time I stood up, I almost fainted from the pain.
I was prescribed the antidepressant Sertraline, which is safe for breastfeeding and began taking it in the hospital, as I was considered “high risk” for postnatal depression. By the 7th day I told them I wanted to go home with my baby and get her settled in her new home. They agreed I was ready. I remember lying down on the back seat of my mums car, because I couldn’t even sit. Olive cried all the way home. It was a scary feeling, being outside of a hospital environment. But I just couldn’t wait to get my girl home!
Me, my dad, my mum and my brothers all had a glass of champagne back at my house and made a toast to baby Olive. My mum stayed at my house for the next week, just to help out with housework and cooking etc. I don’t know what I would’ve done without her support. I cried a lot, but I think that’s what they call the “baby blues”.
When my mum finally went back home, I scooped Olive up into my arms and took her to bed. We had our first proper night on our own and it was absolutely fine! We co-slept and she rooted for my breast. I fed her lying down and she drifted off to sleep. We have co-slept every night since and it has honestly been my saviour. There seems to be a bit of a stigma around co-sleeping, but when it is done correctly and you follow all the safety guidelines, it is perfectly safe and a lovely way to bond. Olive is now almost 8 months and absolutely thriving.
I love being a single mum, I feel like it is just me and Olive against the world! I’m winging every single day and some days are better than others, but I just look at how happy and healthy Olive is and feel so proud, as that is all down to my mothering. Becoming a mum has changed my life in such a beautiful way and I feel so blessed to watch Olive grow every single day.
Taking your child home for the first time: I was ready to take Olive home. It was terrifying nonetheless, being out of the hospital environment. But I was so ready to go home and enjoy her.
The best/worst advice: Two words… WHITE NOISE. Ewan the dream sheep is a waste of money, download a white noise app. I would be lost without it.
The worst advice I ever received was, “Put baby on the bottle so you can get your freedom back” or, “put baby on the bottle so they will sleep through”. NO NO NO and a big fuck off!
The hardest part of being a mother: I think the hardest part about being a mother is trying to be ok 24/7 for your baby. Especially when you’re ill and just want to spend the day in bed. The comments, judgement and unasked for advice is hard too.
The best parts of being a mother: I think the best thing about being a mum is seeing your baby happy. Nothing beats that feeling in the world.
Has becoming a mother changed you? Yes. I struggled with basic human emotions before I became a mum. Now I cry at everything and want to put myself out there for other mums. My life now revolves around my daughter and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Hopes for your family: I want to continue to nurture Olive and breastfeed her til she’s 2. I want to work as a breastfeeding peer supporter and move to a bigger place. I hope that one day I will meet someone who will treat Olive like their own and expand our family.
What advice would you offer to new and expectant mums? You know your baby better than anyone. Don’t be afraid to tell someone you don’t want their advice. And join a Facebook baby group with babies born around the same time. There’s a mum there who will always listen, even during those lonely 3am feeds.