Today I’d like to be really honest about my experience of having a baby and how I’ve found the past year. I always tell everyone what an amazing thing it is to be a parent, and that’s true, obviously, but I think as parents we tend to gloss over the difficult bits for fear of being branded a “bad parent”.
Giving birth to my son was quite a traumatic experience. I touched on it a bit in my post for his first birthday, but I will give a brief overview of what happened.
I went in to hospital to be induced at thirteen days overdue. Within a few hours I was in a lot of pain, but because it doesn’t normally work that quickly I was just given the odd paracetamol and codeine and told they couldn’t examine me because if they took the pessary out and it hadn’t worked yet then I’d have to start from scratch again. Eventually at 4am a midwife decided she would have a look (I think just to humour me), and was very surprised to find I was 4cm dilated. I was rushed down to the labour ward where I was told the rate things were progressing I might not have time for any pain relief.
It was over fourteen hours later that our boy was born using ventouse and a HUGE episiotomy, with the cord twice round his neck and after a very scary shoulder dystocia. He didn’t cry for around three minute after he was born and the senior midwife actually used the phrase “they’re doing everything they can” while a whole team of people were trying to resuscitate him. Afterwards, she came to talk to us about what happened and she said, despite me having a growth scan about six weeks earlier, the boy was far too big for my size and had they known I would never have been allowed to give birth naturally. All I can say is thank God for the epidural.
The following afternoon we were discharged from hospital. I was really glad to be back in my own home, but looking back I think I should have stayed another night. I had only successfully managed to get the baby to latch on once int he hospital, despite me asking a few times for help, and I was incredibly stressed that evening when it took me around half an hour of trying to successfully feed my son.
The first two week’s of my baby’s life were so incredibly difficult. Because of the extent of the episiotomy and stitches, I could barely move. I couldn’t sit, walk, bend down. I cried because my husband and our family and friends were able to bond with our son so much more than I was because I literally couldn’t pick him up from his little chair, sit on the floor with him or leave the house to take him for a walk.
Around ten days after he was born, we took him out to a local pub for lunch for the first time. I didn’t really feel up to it, but I felt bad for my husband who had spent almost his entire paternity leave stuck in the house because of me. It was a big mistake, and looking back I should never have gone. I barely managed to sit int he car or walk into the pub. Everyone else decided to have a carvery, so I felt like I should too. This meant walking across the pub to fetch my dinner, which was excruciatingly painful at the time. I remember sitting at the table downing a load of painkillers just to get me through the meal. Just to add to the indignity of it all, as we got in the car to go home I wet myself and I didn’t even know I’d done it until we got home.
It took almost a month for the pain to subside enough that I didn’t feel like crying every time I moved. To be perfectly honest, thirteen and a half months later, it still doesn’t feel completely right “down there”. If we have another baby I will most definitely explore the option of having a C-Section. I know they’re not any easier to recover from, but I honestly don’t think my vagina would recover from another huge baby.
I exclusively breastfed our baby for three and a half months, and did the night feeds for another month or so. This is something I feel very proud of. I wish, in some ways, that I had continued for longer, but it was the best decision for both of us to stop at the time. The baby was getting frustrated during the evening as he cluster fed and I wasn’t producing enough milk to satisfy him. This made me feel useless, stressed and upset, which didn’t help and we both ended up spending an hour every evening crying.
Finally, we hit three months old. That’s when everything started to change. Up until that point I had a few moments a day when I enjoyed having a baby, but from three months I actually started to enjoy more of the day than I found difficult. Now, thirteen and a half months in, I am very pleased to say I enjoy most of every day. It’s not always easy and I’m exhausted a lot of the time, but watching him grow and learn is amazing.
Having a baby was never going to be easy, but I was completely shocked by just how difficult I found those first few days, weeks and months. It wasn’t the best time in my life, which is how I thought you were supposed to feel, but as time has gone on I can genuinely say that having our son is the absolute best thing I have ever done in my life.
Despite all of this, would I do it again? Absolutely.
I think it’s the nature of motherhood – it’s the most difficult job I have ever done in my life, but that awful part that felt like it lasted forever now seems like such a tiny part of our baby’s life. I feel so lucky to have my incredible little boy, and I love every day that I get to spend with him. Maybe there will be more babies in our future, but for now I’m happy to enjoy the one I have.