This post is baby-related, so if you’re feeling delicate then it might be an idea not to read on. Hopefully it won’t be too depressing/annoying/sickening though! I know I said I might not post again, but hey, I’m a woman, I’m allowed to change my mind! This post is a list of things that I’ve discovered in the past year, that nobody tells you. Or, you don’t listen to.
So, nobody told me…
That for the (previously?) infertile woman, pregnancy is not fun. I was pleased to be pregnant. Beyond pleased. But it was petrifying. Every day I was scared of losing her. Scans were an ordeal in anticipation and worry, and the relief we felt at seeing her little heartbeat and her wriggling around lasted only as long as the scan lasted. Movements were reassuring, but also worrying – was she moving enough? Too much? Was she healthy? The physical discomforts of pregnancy were nothing compared to the mental stress (though the experience of waking up trying to aspirate on my own reflux was not one I’d like to repeat). I laughed at my obstetrician when she told me to “enjoy my pregnancy” – was she insane? I was too petrified for that.
That we would “watch” the Olympics together, and that she would jump around in my womb whenever strong female athletes were competing. She particularly seemed to like rowers and cyclists.
That labour would hurt so much. I guess that’s what full-blown contractions against a cervix with adhesions does to you.
That I wouldn’t believe she was mine. When she was born, I kept expecting somebody to take her away. I still do sometimes. After so long trying, I kept expecting someone to tell me there had been a big mistake, that she wasn’t mine after all. It felt so surreal to hold this tiny thing in my arms, finally.
That I would spend 24 hours after the birth thinking that there was another one in there. Seriously. I had phantom baby movements, and even a hard lump where her feet used to be. It was lucky that there wasn’t another baby in there as the thought of going through labour again still brings me out in a cold sweat.
That I would still be bleeding, 8 weeks later. It comes and goes, but I am beyond fed up of bleeding now, especially as yesterday it got heavy again. Back to the GP tomorrow, I think. I appreciate the irony of this after wanting heavier periods for the last 3 years…
That breastfeeding hurts. Everyone seems to say that if it hurts, you’re doing it wrong. Bollocks to that, it still hurts.
That the guilt I would feel is immense. I feel guilty about everything. I felt guilty about not being able to push her out quickly enough and needing a ventouse delivery (she was distressed). I felt guilty about her needing to be readmitted with jaundice. I felt hugely guilty about our early feeding issues (she didn’t feed properly, poor supply) and I feel guilty every time she cries. I know I put this pressure on myself, but I just wanted everything to be perfect, and of course it isn’t. This is real life; nothing is.
That I would look at her every day, with amazement that she grew in my womb. It’s her eyes that get me. They’re so perfect. How could something that perfect grow from microscopic cells in a dodgy environment?
How it would feel when I’m the one she wants. When she’s upset, and she settles and relaxes in my arms just because I’m her mother. How privileged and blessed I would feel at this.
That one beautiful smile from her would not make the last few years cease to matter, but would make them so, so much easier to bear.