Big Bro turned 5 this week. It was my 5th Mammy-Versary!
It’s a big milestone in his life & it’s a big milestone in our lives too! Some might say the “hardest” years are behind us… parents of teenagers would probably say the hardest is yet to come! Either way it’s crazy to think that it’s been 5 years since the best, scariest, weirdest, surreal & most amazing day of my life so far.
Like every mother, I remember his birth like it was yesterday. At least I think I do. So much of it was a blur. A lot of it felt like an out-of-body experience. Some of it felt like a bad dream.
I had a seamless pregnancy, minimal illness at the start, no medical issues along the way, things only started to get kind of concerning towards the end.
Well on the way to delivery day & his head still hadn’t engaged, I was walking (waddling) to beat the band, I was upside down on gym balls, he was not budging.
So the dreaded mentions of “C-Section” started to get dropped at my check ups.
My living nightmare was about to come true & it made me so terrified.
My mother had carried & birthed 4 of us, all over 9lbs, so surely I could pop a smaller baby out no bother??
I had been calmly warned that if I showed any signs of labour I was to immediately contact the hospital & come in.
So when at 4.30am of an October morning I felt something “pop”, I thought right, it’s go time…
The man in the bed beside me thought I was joking, presumed we would be home again in a few hours, and in his sleepy daze only brought one of my two meticulously packed bags with us!
Into the Maternity Ward & so it began.
I was examined & they confirmed that yes my waters had started to go, but they also detected meconium and from there on in it was stressful.
Next thing I knew I was hooked up to all sorts, I was told I had Group B Strep & so there would be no walking around for me as I needed antibiotics via a drip, and the meconium meant baby was being monitored constantly.
Then came the oxytocin to “speed things up”… people were in & out of my room so often that I didn’t even know who was actually my nurse or doctor for a finish.
Beeps alarmed from the trace. Contractions were weak. Baby was “a little unhappy”.
Turn over, lie this way, turn that way. No good.
I was politely told to have an epidural to relax me & maybe relax baby… oh and it would also come in handy if I ended up in theatre…
WHAT? Theatre?? Fuck.
Hours of waiting for contractions to dilate me. All they did was hurt like hell. Never made it past 2cm.
A call was made that if there was another dip in baby’s heartrate that I was going to be brought in for the dreaded C-Section.
And so it was to be.
And it was absolutely traumatic. Not that I could comprehend that at the time. I just knew I was terrified.
I also knew that while I was pinned to an operating table & prepped for surgery, that my husband was not beside me, he had to wait in the corridor until the last minute.
The doctor was about to cut, and I roared as loud as I was able for him to be let in.
That calmed me slightly.
I felt the tugging & the rooting, but no pain.
Baby came out, they didn’t want him to cry because it would cause his lungs to take in the meconium, but true to his nature, he roared, and I cried too.
He was held up to me for a split second, and then taken to be cleaned up.
I have no idea how long it was until I saw him again, could have been 2 minutes, could have been an hour.
A feeble attempt was made to latch him on for a feed while I was in recovery, but I literally could not move a muscle, and baby was not interested, so we left it.
Back on the ward, and I was completely at sea.
My husband stayed for a few hours, my mother called in for a while, it was all so surreal.
Then I was alone with him. And I still couldn’t move. Looking back I don’t even know if I attempted to breastfeed him or not for those first few hours alone. He was sound asleep, and in hindsight, I was in complete shock at the day that had just been.
A midwife came in at some stage and gave out to me because I hadn’t changed his nappy & I didn’t have a blanket for him… (hubby forgot the damn bag if you remember!).
I just lied there silent, clueless as to what to say, unable to move anything more than my arms.
The few days after were both lovely & awful. He had no interest in latching, it was terribly stressful. But it was also wonderful. I chatted away to him constantly, took a million photos, I probably sounded like a crazy woman, but what else was I going to do!
I cried on the phone to my sister and my mother because I couldn’t feed him, or he wouldn’t feed, or both. I got lots of help from the midwives, but I wasn’t getting any more independent with it.
I understand now why this happened. It was because of my absolute shock post-birth. I didn’t have the presence of mind in those first 24 hours to ask for help or change what I was doing. Second time around it was a completely different experience & 90% of that is because I knew what to expect, and how to avoid the issues I had faced first time.
I am reading so much lately about women labouring alone, spending days in hospital alone, with nobody there to talk to, to mind them in the way only partners can, nobody to advocate for them when they don’t even know their own name. It breaks my heart.
I struggled so much even with my partner beside me. I cried every evening when he went home for the night.
And I will never forget the sheer terror that I felt for that short window while he was waiting in the corridor & I was alone.
Women are strong, but we are not invincible.
We need our people, even just one person.
For many women, birth is amazing. For lots of women, it’s also terrifying & traumatic. You never know how it’s going to be for you. And nobody should have to do it alone. Not even for a few minutes.
There is talk this week of allowing partners back in to maternity wards. I hope it happens.
Every birthday my eldest has had so far, this is where my thoughts go. Back to the whole experience. I presume every woman is the same!
Thankfully I know it’s not always so traumatic. I ended up having a second C-Section, and it was not traumatic in any way. It actually turned out to be a very pleasant, calm experience… well as pleasant as being cut open on a table can be!
Where does your mind go on your Mammy-Versary?
Hopefully somewhere calm & pleasant!