First month reflections

Monday, June 04, 2018

Less than a week after the last post, little L was born. I haven’t stopped snoring since... whenever I manage to get some sleep!

Looking back at my pregnancy, labour and early motherhood journey to date, here are some reflections:

People don’t tell you that the last months of pregnancy can be a drag. I loved the second trimester, when you feel energised again after the nauseating first trimester and start seeing your bump grow. The constant reminders of a tiny being taking over your body, kicking and wriggling, was my favourite part of pregnancy. The second favourite part was the pregnancy massages. Not so much fun were the lack of sleep from leg cramps, sciatic nerve pains, and the uncomfortable side lying positions you are forced to at nights, even with all the pillows. 

Labour & birth
Not knowing whether to expect the bloody show or water breaking first was a bit exasperating. You just have to learn as you go. For me the show came first. The contractions started after lunch and when we called the midwife that evening, we were told to wait four more hours. I don’t think I could have waited that long! When the water broke close to midnight, it came out green with meconium so we ended up having to get to the hospital earlier than expected. I was only 4 cm dilated at that stage. Then a great big clot gushed out so I was put on monitors for the rest of the birthing process. Not the birth I had imagined, with a Swiss ball and soothing music! 

The contraction pains are one thing, but again, it’s the not knowing when they will be over that made labour hard work for me. Without the team of people you trust, like my husband who never let go of my hand (not that he could have, with me holding on to him for dear life) and the midwives whom I liked, it would have made labour much harder to go through. I was glad when finally given the okay to start pushing and get the baby out. At 2.50am, L was born, a little girl (a surprise, since I had been convinced that she would be a boy). In the end, no gas, epidural nor episiotomy was needed, so for that I am glad. 

We left the hospital less than 2 hours after the birth and made our way to the post pregnancy care clinic. It was around 6.30am when I got settled and my husband had to leave (no partners are allowed unless they pay to stay). Here at Birthcare I was allowed three nights’ rest. I wish I had been better prepared. 

The first ‘night’ by myself with the equally tired but crying newborn was scary and lonely, even with the expert hands of midwives only a call away. I had had nothing to eat since noon the day before and was exhausted from all the pushing. I spent those first hours with the little bubba stiff in my arms in the dark, scared that I would drop her in my lack of sleep, energy, and experience. It was a huge shock and wish someone had warned me properly. To future new mothers I would advise them to pay extra for private rooms where partners can stay from day 1. 

Second, the after pains. I knew that stitches may be required from pushing a huge head out of a small opening. I was somewhat prepared for the belly pouch that now felt very wobbly and the fear of the first bowel movement (kiwifruit was and still is my best friend). What I didn’t expect were the pains and little burst veins along my arms and hands from having held onto my husband for hours during labour, though. 

Third, resting was a bore. Plus our little roommate in the standard room that we shared with another mother and baby screamed all day long, so we didn’t really get much rest. We ended up going home a day earlier, after just enough time to make sure the baby was latching properly when breastfeeding, and that we were swaddling and changing nappies with more or less confidence. The first night at home was a shock for my husband, too, but for me it was a blessing to be able to share the night duties with someone else. 

The first month of it, anyway. Someone told me that it’s you, the baby or the house that looks good and under control, not all three, in the early days. So far, we are managing pretty well. 

I’m lucky that my husband is very hands on and is always trying to get me to rest while taking care of the housework and the baby during the day. I think he feels sorry he cannot contribute as much at night since we are breastfeeding exclusively for the moment. While we’ve both had to adjust to the tiny new family member, he’s probably had to change his ways more than I, so I am grateful for his support. It mustn’t be easy to come home to a crying baby and sleepless nights after a full day’s work. 

Luckily my mother came to help us in the beginning so we didn’t have to worry about food and chores for a while. Even though she kept trying to get me to eat for two, as much as she had during pregnancy, and didn’t want me going out of the house at all. I need the fresh air and exercise though! 

It’s crazy to realise that L turned 1 month yesterday. Time goes by so quickly and she changes daily. Though in a half zombie mode from the lack of sleep most of the time, motherhood is a blessing and I am embracing it as much as I can. 

More posts on motherhood to come soon!

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