When I was 34 weeks preg, I went out for coffee with a friend and my water burst everywhere! Very movie like if you ask me! That marked the beginning of my baby boy’s entrance into the world becoming. The beginning of a very difficult emotional roller-coaster and for us becoming Mummy and Daddy.
That same night, my partner and I were told to come into the hospital. From then on they explained that I was not in labour but because my waters had broken, they needed to monitor the baby and me in hospital. I spent 10 days in hospital when originally they said 3. I had family and friends texting and calling every hour, which was beautiful, although it sometimes felt too overwhelming when my partner and I didn’t even know what way the day would go. I spent everyday being told that if baby’s heart rate didn’t do a certain pattern, then we would need to do an emergency C-section. Some days his heart beat wouldn’t meet their requirements and then later on it would. We were in a constant place of uncertainty for 10 days. That was until a tactless ultrasound lady told us that ‘its worse than last time’ – meaning my baby was sending blood to vital organs. Basically, he had gone into survival mode.
The next day, I was induced but my baby couldn’t cope with the contractions. He was small for his gestational age and had no amniotic fluid to protect him through each contraction. About an hour into labour, I had a cesarean. My baby boy was born on Valentine’s Day.
The next 3 weeks my partner and I spent in special care with our tiny little 1.7kg baby boy. He was never sick, just small and premature. The time spent in special care was the hardest part for me. I didn’t want to be in hospital, yet the nurses would say ‘you can stay here as long as you want! All night and day’ – making me feel guilty for wanting to go home. But each time I left, I cried my eyes out as my baby boy wasn’t with me. The urge I got as a mother was so intense, all I wanted was to have him on my chest, skin to skin, helping him grow. It was a fight I had with my self everyday, wanting to be with him, but wanting to be home. I felt guilty and sad and angry and lost. I wasn’t me anymore, I was someone else, making their way through an ocean of emotions, trying to heal from major stomach surgery and trying to help my little boy learn how to feed on the breast, and not through a nasal gastrictube. I had to see him have this put in, it is uncomfortable for a baby and it was the first time I’d seen him really cry. I held his little hand while this nurse who fumbled with it got it wrong and had to get another nurse to help her try again. This little man having a tube from his nose into his stomach. I cried and cried and cried. I saw it logically, “its okay, it doesn’t hurt him” but my god, I was not coping. My partner was so strong for these 3 weeks. So strong, every time I cried he would give me a speech of all the ways I was doing well.
From day one after surgery, I was handed about 2 pamphlets a day of information. I was bombarded by lactation consultants telling me information about how to breast feed and telling me ‘you should really get up in the night to express’ although I had explained to her that I had tried this and that it was really getting me down (my way of saying I wanted to jump off my balcony).
Expressing – my god, what a miserable thing to do. That’s how it felt at the time. That I was chained to this machine every 3 hours that pumped me like a cow. I never felt like I could relax, or that I was free. I felt a need to pump an amount this piece of paper told me to get to “by day 7 I should be pumping 700ml a day” I’d tell myself. That was my goal, I couldn’t do it straight away and my god, my anxiety through me into a shitty place. I was a prisoner of my anxiety. I cried everyday. I held my baby on my chest for 3-12 hours a day, usually 6. Two feeds, trying to teach him to feed, feeling like a queen when he latched on and fed for 5 mins, and feeling like I was never going home when my poor little bubba was too busy trying to stay warm and keep body fat to breast feed.
The nurses would tell me to ‘go to groups with other parents” and that I could “stay here as long as I want”, when all I wanted was someone to give me permission to go home, to be told I was doing enough. My partner told me this everyday. I had to be convinced every single day that I wasn’t doing something wrong by leaving my little man, by wanting to go. Wanting to go home, that felt like my biggest failure.