THERE IS SOMETHING SO RIDICULOUSLY ADDICTIVE ABOUT A NEWBORN BABY.
I’m not talking about the night feeds, sore boobs or the endless crying, but the sleepy, curled up, snoozing delight of a fresh little one nestled in tight. It’s priceless…..especially when you can hand it back after the end of an hours visit!
I was a bit of a newborn stalker pre-mummy days. I would actually go out of my way, drive literally miles, to visit a friend with a new baby. I’d bring food, gifts, clean the kitchen, even change a bed sheet or two all in exchange for a sniff of that baby goodness and a little cuddle on my way out. I actually thought I’d won the lottery when I landed a job as a nanny for a London based family before we moved to Dubai. They had three adorable boys, the third one being a teeny tiny three weeks old when I started. Man, he was so scrummy and I LOVED secret snuggles during babysitting or when the toddler was napping, all to give Mum a much needed rest (of course!)
SO IT HIT ME HARD WHEN I REALLY DIDN’T DIG THE NEWBORN PHASE WITH MY OWN SON MUCH….INFACT AT ALL.
Let me set the scene, I had a great pregnancy, apart from some sickness in the first 13 weeks (mild in comparison to this one!) I really blossomed. Perfect football-up-the-top scenario. I went to the gym three times a week, I proudly brandished my bump in all manor of tight sportswear and I lapped up the compliments, ‘oh your so neat’, ‘you don’t even look pregnant from the back’, ‘still on the treadmill, wow’ blah blah blah. I totally loved it.
OF COURSE, I WAS GOING TO HAVE A SUPER AU-NATURAL BIRTH;
my plan was to stay at home until I was at least 8cms dilated, head over the hospital, serenely open up like a flower and pop my perfect baby out like a pea. Easy. I honestly (with all of my beating heart) thought, it just can’t be that bad…HA! Yep, I can hear all you seasoned Mums roaring with laughter (and perhaps even letting out a little sneaky wee) at the hilarity of this statement…’like a pea’ HOW.WRONG.WAS.I?
It was during the last six weeks, when quite frankly, the football bump got bloomin’ enormous, did I start to slightly question my idyllic birthing plans. At my final hospital check the midwife told me I was carrying ‘a big baby for me’ as in my 5”2 inch fairly petite frame. I now realize this was code word for this-baby-is-going-to-rip-you-apart.
She tried to warm me, bless her heart.
D-day came, my waters went while we were watching Britain’s Got Talent. We hot-footed it to hospital where they confirmed I was in labour, so we went home to birth au-natural style in the serenity of the candle lit, lavender scented living room….
In a nutshell, I spent the night moo-ing like a cow, telling my husband where he could stick his scented whatever and alternating between lying in the bath and sitting on the toilet. At 6pm the next morning when I actually couldn’t take anymore and, was convinced I MUST be at least a million centimeters dilated, we went to hospital.
Devastated doesn’t even cover it. I was four, four, FOUR lousy, useless centimeters dilated after TWELVE WHOLE HOURS of what I can only describe as pure, unadulterated agony. I begged for an epidural, pleaded for one, hubbie persuaded me not to (I’d asked him to do this prior to labour….why why WHY?!) and by the time I’d calmed down and got into the birthing suite I hated him a bit less.
I won’t go into the gorey details but it wasn’t until 8:20pm that evening that Max Moses was born, with mega intervention. He came out with a ridiculously battered head, looking a lot my husband on a really angry day. He was bright red, a bit purple in parts and was a whopping 8lbs 5oz, yup pretty big for me. He was also very VERY pissed off. Something to do with being yanked repeatedly out of his safe, warm place I’d imagine? He wouldn’t latch on for ages afterwards and in the end they gave him a shot of calpol to calm him down, at just hours old. Breaks my heart a bit now. It was the total and utter opposite to the calm, zen like birth I so badly wanted and had imagined (which was somewhere along the lines of baby emerging in pool to calming-yet-emotive Coldplay track on my birthing playlist). They kangarooed him onto my chest that evening and I spent the night looking at him thinking ‘oh man, nothing is ever going to be quite the same again’….
IT TOOK QUITE A FEW WEEKS TO HEAL FROM THE BIRTHING ‘EXPERIENCE’,
Max was battered, so was I. My hormones were wild, they literally RAGED, I cried A LOT, I got an infection. It was pretty tough. I was so determined to breastfeed Max that I actually thought it was the end of the world when he wouldn’t latch on. We threw money at the situation and bought in a private lactation consultant (oh yeah, these people exist in London!) and we eventually got there. It wasn’t plain sailing and if I’m honest, the struggle and pressure to feed ruined the whole newborn experience for me and I was pretty happy to knock it on the head when Max was 8 months old. I found it hard to stomach friends who had ‘easy’ births and whose little ones fed well and napped in their prams. Max was ‘spirited’ to say the least and loathed his expensive £650 travel system!!!
It most definitely took us a while to find our way as mother and son, it felt like we were fighting against each other the whole time. My ideals versus what Max really needed (which in hindsight, was a good bottle of formula to fill his hungry little tum!)
But despite all of this, I look back on those tough early days and they’re surrounded by a glow of warmth and dare I say it, happiness. Endless coffee and cake with wonderful NCT friends, visits from supportive family and friends who I love more than anything, and so many presents, gifts and flowers.
Fast-forward two and a half years and my heart literally beats for my funny, affectionate little boy. He is my absolute everything and the tears threaten to stream when I think about just how much I love him (in fact I’m pretty worried my current bun in the oven won’t match up in the slightest….is this normal?)
So I suppose this is a little note to all you new mummies and those mummies to be. It might be everything you dreamed of and more, but it might not be. And if it’s not, don’t worry. You ain’t alone. Let the tears roll, let friends and family in, tell your health visitor and know that it doesn’t last forever and you WILL find each other in time. I am proof of this, so much so, we decided to do it all again and you know what, I actually can’t wait.