The prompt this week is emotions – something that over the last 7 months with MissB I have certainly experienced and so I begin my story of the emotional rollercoaster that is having a baby.
Relief – I’d say that is the first thing you feel as that screaming bundle of arms and legs is dumped on your stomach. Relief that a) that “thing” that has been been growing inside you for the last nine months is finally here and now has a face, ten fingers, ten toes and a good set of lungs. You spend nine months trying to convince yourself that everything will be ok but there is always that nagging voice in your mind and as much as you read the statistics on stillborns you just keep smiling trying not to let the worry show, you put on a brave face for your partner, you don’t discuss it aloud as to voice the worry makes it real. b) Relief that labour is over, there won’t be any more contractions and you can finally relax a little.
Pride – this is the next overwhelming emotion that springs into mind. I remember coming out of the shower soon after giving birth and seeing my husband sat next to the bed staring in awe at this little bundle of baby that you somehow miraculously grew inside you. Pride that you created that and pride that you have given your partner something that nobody before you ever has. Pride that you chose the right man, the man that stood with you through every contraction, cried when you did, laughed when you did and did everything right. Oh that feeling of pride is an amazing emotion.
Hopelessness – the feeling of being absolutely useless, oh I know this feeling well. It crept into my brain that first night in the hospital. The realisation that as much as I’d researched and read every book possible about having a baby, the truth be told I knew absolutely nothing. The hopeless feeling when trying to breastfeed and MissB just wouldn’t latch on, the hopeless feeling when all she would do is cry and I didn’t have a clue what she needed, the hopeless feeling of needing to change the nappy but having never done it before, not knowing where to start. Oh this feeling has appeared quite frequently over the last seven months and boy is it a miserable one.
Despair – yet another feeling that creeps in during those first couple of weeks. The realisation that you’ve only had two hours sleep in the last 24 hours, that you are mentally exhausted, that your body feels like it has run several marathons back to back, that you can’t physically drag yourself out of bed but you have to as your baby is hungry or crying for some unknown reason. The wondering to yourself – what the hell have I done, why did I do this – but this is normal, this is the baby blues, this is just your emotions going mad. It will pass – and it does but for a few days you do wonder whether you’ll ever be able to love this screaming entity that has stolen your sleep and your life.
Hopelessness – again, because this creeps in time and time again. Hopelessness at having had the baby screaming for nine hours in one day with colic and not being able to do a damn thing about it. Having tried infacol, colief, gripe water, winding, walking, driving and every other piece of advice given in those bloody books all without success. Watching the discomfort your baby is in and not being able to provide the comfort and relief that a mother should be able to provide.
Failure – The feeling you get when after 4 weeks of perservering you finally give up breastfeeding and switch to formula as you body just can’t sustain it, you’ve watched the weight dropping off you, you stand on the scales and realise your BMI has dropped to 16, you are skin and bones, the baby seems constantly hungry and your husband begs you to stop breastfeeding as you are just fading away. All that bloody pressure to breastfeed is great but it doesn’t help when no matter how much you want to, you just can’t. Breastfeeding for the last time, knowing that this will be the last time and crying as you see your daughter latched on for the last time. The pain from the engorgment for the next few days, the guilt and sorrow that you can no longer sustain your baby by yourself. And even though after switching to formula and baby and mother are so much happier, the guilt still goes on with the feeling of constantly having to explain and defend your reasons to everyone.
Successful – that magic feeling that creeps in around the six week mark, that warm feeling you get when you realise what your baby needs, what each cry means, when you baby sleeps for six hours at night and you finally start to think you are no longer firefighting but coping. That feeling when you see that first smile and when you realise that you actually do love this baby. Now I’m sure that most people say they instantly fell in love with their baby but for some of us it takes a little while longer to form that bond and when you finally start feelng that love creep in then you start feeling like a successful mother.
Joy – at watching Daddy interacting with his daughter and seeing the love in both their eyes
Joy at hearing that first laugh, those first words – first dada, then baba then eventually the word you have waited all your life to hear – mama! Joy at seeing them roll over for the first time, seeing them discover the outside world, watching how each day they seem to discover a new skill, the ability to put their foot in their mouth, the ability to suck their thumb, the ability to crawl backwards, the ability to press the buttons on their toy keyboard. So many new things that make you live your life again through the eyes of a child. I’m sure I never realised that the sky was so blue, the clouds so fascinating, the sound of the wind in the trees so restful before but I do now.
Content – that feeling that your life is now complete, as you sit down on the sofa at 8pm with a nice glass of baileys to enjoy the peace and quiet after a long and happy day of new discoveries, laughter and adventure. Those lovely evenings where you can finally rediscover yourself again, have time to paint your nails, pluck your eyebrows, watch tv, have conversations with your husband. Those evenings that you thought you’d never see again and missed so much in the early days. Those evenings where you know there is a good chance that the baby will sleep through and you can go to bed without dreading the sounds of crying over the monitor at 4am. I love that feeling.
And finally the most overwhelming emotion of them all
LOVE – the feeling that creeps in slowly at first but like a tiny stream it gathers force as the days go by until it becomes a torrent. The love you see shining back at you from your daughters eyes, the love you see in Daddy’s eyes, the love you see in your own eyes and feel in every part of body. The feeling that you would do absolutely anything for this little girl that you created, the feeling that will grow and grow as everyday the bond deepens.
Yes it’s been an emotional rollercoaster and anyone who says it’s easy must be lying. Being a mum is probably the hardest job in the world but my god it’s the most rewarding.