Sectioned Off

IMG_2877

What if I told you my baby’s birth wasn’t ‘real’? By definition, my baby cannot exist. If my baby did not exit my body from between my legs like science tells us it was supposed to, was I ever even really pregnant?!

I’ll grant you this little nugget for nothing…there is zero make-believe about 48 hours of slow, painful, unavailing labour. Ask my husband if you require verification, he’ll tell you how he caught my sick in umpteen cardboard kidney dishes precisely every 3 minutes for at least 20 of those hours.

I’m not here to divulge the details of my birth story (not today, anyway!). What I’m trying to say is that it WAS ‘real’. I most definitely WAS pregnant. A baby most definitely DID exit my body, and she most definitely DOES exist.

Yep, my baby was born by c-section. It was an emergency c-section, not that it should matter. I HAD originally planned to have an elective, for two reasons;

  • I was told early on in my pregnancy that I had an abnormality to the shape of my uterus, which could potentially make it difficult to carry a baby to full term and often results in a c-section.
  • I had (and still have!) a phobia of giving birth. I didn’t feel my body could handle it, nor that I could handle what it would do to my body if I survived.

I had my mind made up early on about the way I wanted my baby to come out; the safest possible for both of us. Confident about my decision to opt for an elective section, I was ready and prepared to get everything put into place.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before I made the disheartening discovery that by dropping the ‘C-Bomb’, I was committing a cardinal sin of pregnancy. I found myself berated for my choice, subject to disparaging remarks about ‘people’ (in case you need a translation from passive-aggressive to plain English, that means ‘you’!) thinking they’re ‘too posh to push’, a litany of complaints about the procedure itself, and how the culture of my generation promotes chopping up our bodies in order to get what we want from them.

It caught me completely off guard to find that on confiding my very personal decision, I’d been so quickly rebuked, and ended up feeling like I’d somehow be a less deserving mother for making it. At home, I sobbed to my husband, who obviously told me to forget everything I’d been told (in fact, I believe what he actually said was “f*ck ‘em, Jo” – ever eloquent, my Jack…) but pregnant and hyper-sensitive, it wasn’t as simple for me to just let these words run off me like water off a duck’s back. The comments weren’t just from strangers, some of them had come from people I knew, liked and respected. I tried to keep up my pre-pregnancy ‘no f*cks given’ facade, but behind closed doors I was hurt and confused.

Long story short, I eventually allowed myself to be browbeaten into having a ‘natural’ aka vaginal birth. Despite knowing what I did about my weird-shaped womb and harbouring a lifelong fear of childbirth, I wanted to enjoy and be supported in my pregnancy, without any further exposure to the criticism I had already faced.

As my pregnancy progressed, I watched my growing bump in awe. With every scan, every listen to the heartbeat and with every kick, flutter and wriggle, I became more and more convinced that my body could do it the ‘proper’ way. After all, it was already doing things I previously never imagined it would. “It might actually be ok!” became my new mantra, and although I wasn’t expecting a picnic, I acquainted myself with the concept of traditional childbirth through daily reminders of just how many people I knew that had done it before me, how they all lived to tell the tale, and that it was only temporary (except the part where you’re presented with your very own actual human baby to take home; arguably the scariest part of all – SERIOUSLY permanent!).

Anyway, it turned out that I was unequivocally and monumentally wrong. It wasn’t ok, and I couldn’t do it. I was in labour for 2 days before doctors intervened and my daughter was born by emergency c-section. As they stitched me up, the surgeons told me that from the position she had been wedged in, there was physically no way that she would have come out by any other means, even if my labour had progressed to the point where I could have started to think about pushing (I didn’t get past 5cm dilated!).

I will be forever frustrated with my pregnant self for not sticking with my original plan to have a c-section delivery, as that was what I needed, and what I ended up having…albeit under far more traumatic and precarious circumstances for both me and my baby. I had been affected by the c-section stigma that tells us we only earn respect as a mother if we follow in the footsteps of our foremothers and give it the old ‘heave ho’, at whatever cost to our health.

I’d like to highlight that I am certainly not in opposition to vaginal births. After all, that is the way nature intended, and had my body been able to do it safely and successfully, this would have undoubtedly been everyone’s favourite. I wanted to believe so badly that I would be able to, that my fears were unfounded and that everyone (myself included) would be so proud when I actually did it, but it just wasn’t to be.

I was offered counselling afterwards, which although I think is fantastic, I gratefully declined. I found the car crash labour a far more traumatising experience than the eventual c-section. I was just glad it was over and that my baby was here and healthy (though the poor little thing did have a Klingon head where she’d been desperately bearing down for days in a position where there wasn’t an exit!)

The advances of medical science mean that fewer women now die in childbirth. What’s humbling to keep in mind is that in times gone by, I could have easily been one of them had my c-section not taken place, and I know at least several other Mothers who could say the same for themselves and their baby.

I do not wish to implement blame. It is no one’s responsibility but my own that I chose not to trust my instincts and go with the delivery I had planned. What I’m bothered by, is that somehow, because my c-section wasn’t planned, the prejudice attached to the elective c-section no longer applies (or at least no longer to my face). Why did I have to go through the physical and emotional trauma that I did, risking my health and that of my baby, in order for the birth of my child to be deemed acceptable? I know this is by no means a universal opinion, and ultimately it shouldn’t matter what anyone else thinks…but it affected my pregnancy, and I’m perturbed by the idea of other mothers needlessly finding themselves in similar situation.

An advocate for c-section birth, I am not. Surgery of ANY kind should not be taken lightly, and if there’s a safer way for Mum and baby, then I’m all for it. Despite what some may say, it’s certainly not an ‘easy way out’ to endure major abdominal surgery, to then be responsible for a completely helpless little human whilst you attempt to recover. With any childbirth, I think we can all agree that there is no easy way out.

Whatever the way our babies come into this world, we are ALL amazing. Instead of focusing on our differences, let’s celebrate new life, let’s celebrate motherhood and let’s celebrate supporting one another in our unique journeys…it can be a rough old ride out there; us mummies need to stick together!

Did you have a c-section, what was your experience? Perhaps you had a c-section, but wished you had a vaginal birth, or vice versa? I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions!

Jo X

Liebster Award 2018

liebster-award-2018.png

 

Wahey…I’ve been nominated for an award! *Happy Dance*

 The Liebster Award is an internet-based award given to bloggers, by other bloggers. I would like to say thank you SO much to The Willow Tree for choosing me to nominate. It’s 4 weeks today that I first launched my blog, and it is beyond anything I could have expected that I would be acknowledged as a blogger worthy of any award! So thank you, once again.

I feel passionately about blogging because it brings people together. Sharing our thoughts, experiences, ideas and knowledge with others connects us with likeminded individuals who share our interests. It enables us to express ourselves in words, and by writing them down, it allows us the luxury of taking our time to choose the ‘right’ ones. Even though I’ve only been blogging for a month, my posts have inspired some seriously heartfelt conversations, engaging discussions and hilarious stories from others, which is incredibly rewarding and the biggest motivation you could ask for. Through blogging, I’ve re-discovered my love for writing. Creativity + connectivity = good for the soul!

About the Award…

Rules of the Liebster Award:

1. Acknowledge the blog that gave it to you and display the award

2. Answer 11 questions that the blogger gives you

3. Give 11 random facts about yourself

4. Nominate 11 blogs and notify them of their nominations

5. Give them 11 questions to answer

 

Here are the 11 questions I was asked by The Willow Tree

Why do you blog?

I became a Mum almost a year ago, and I wanted to be able to create something honest, funny, relatable and informative that I would have enjoyed and benefit from reading myself, had I discovered something like it sooner. It’s also a form of therapy to me, putting a ‘pen to paper’ so to speak. It’s actually really liberating!

Where was your last holiday?

My husband’s parents have a beautiful house on the Costa Brava, Spain. My husband and I went there with our daughter who was 6 months old at the time, a group of friends and their kids. It was our first family holiday!

If you could be a Disney Princess which one would you be and why?

That’s easy, Belle from ‘Beauty and the Beast’! She is unapologetically her own person, openly resisting expectations of those around her. She carries herself with dignity and grace, is in no way superficial, thinks for herself and loves to read. I actually gave my daughter the middle name ‘Belle’ after her!

Cat or Dog?

I have nothing against cats (except that I’m allergic!), but I’m going to have to go with dog. My family never had a pet cat, and whilst I enjoy the personalities of cats, and their YouTube videos are undeniably the more amusing of the two, I’m definitely more canine-inclined.

What’s your biggest regret?

I try not to have regrets, as I feel that life wouldn’t be what it is now if I hadn’t walked the same path….BUT, if I have to pick something, it’d be that in my younger years, I used to let low self esteem cause me to make decisions and get into situations that I wasn’t actually happy with.

What are the three things you cannot live without?

I’m going to be very cliché and predictable here and say my family (if they count as a thing?), my phone (even though I have various devices…my phone is the hub of absolutely everything!) and my cup of coffee first thing in the morning when my daughter wakes up for the day and I’m shuffling around the kitchen, squinty-eyed in my dressing gown.

What is your favourite city you’ve visited?

Oh, I’ve loved so many places for so many different reasons! It’s hard to pick just one, so I’ll go with the first that popped into my head, and that’s Taormina, in Sicily. My husband and I went there years ago as an extension to our trip to Italy for our friends’ wedding. We were just stunned by the breathtaking views, the FOOD (oh my goodness, the food!), gorgeous traditions like huge Sicilian wedding parties parading the streets, the history and architecture (think ‘The Godfather’ vibes!). The whole place had such a unique, glamorous and vibrant feel. I cried on our last day because we’d had the best time and I didn’t want it to end! We’ve already been back once again.

What’s your top tip for self care?

Before I had my daughter, I would have said taking nice long baths (I’m talking in the league of 2 hours!) with Epsom salts and essential oils, candles etc. I don’t do this anymore because our bathroom is right by my girl’s room and I’m scared to death of waking her up! So now I would say, go make-up free whenever you can. Let your skin breathe, and get to know your ‘real’ face. Then when you do get made up, it’s not a mask but a complementary spruce, and hopefully on better skin for it!

Preferred tipple?

I’m all about the bubbles. Can’t beat the buzz of that first glass of champagne or prosecco!

If you could go back in time to meet someone who would it be?

I would love to go back and meet the Ancient Egyptians to find out how and why they built the pyramids. The more I learn about it, the more it blows my mind!

What is you biggest accomplishment?

My biggest accomplishment has to be my daughter. She’s such a wonderful creature. Every day I watch her learn and grow, developing qualities I wish I had myself! She’s a funny, happy little soul and I couldn’t be prouder of who is and who she’s becoming.

 

11 Random Facts About Me

  • I can’t go to sleep without PJs
  • I go make-up free most days
  • My ears are slightly lower than they should be
  • I had my daughter on her due date
  • My husband and I met on a dating site
  • After all these years, I still love Britney
  • I haven’t got a favourite food
  • I love to walk
  • I probably only wear about 15% of the clothes I own
  • I’m obsessed with metallic finishes
  • I can be a real stress-head

 

My Nominated Bloggers

Emily And You

The Messy Bun Mum

Bottles, Boots, Barbells

Mini Me and Me

mumma_and_little_fig

Mom’s Got it Made

Adventure In Mamahood

Confessions of a First Time Mum

obsessive.compulsive.mother

Two x Twenty Five

Fort Birthday

My 11 Question for Nominated Bloggers to Answer

  1. If you could be any mythical creature, what would it be and why?
  2. Would you rather be chased by 10 duck sized horses, or 1 horse sized duck?
  3. Which on-screen couple do you relate to the most? (If you’re single, which couple are ‘goals’?)
  4. If you had to do without a body part, which would you choose and why?
  5. What’s something that your mind always does, that you wish it wouldn’t?
  6. Do you have a favourite photo of yourself? Why is it your favourite?
  7. What subject could you give an on-the-spot 30 minute presentation on?
  8. What trend do you hope comes back around? (This could be a trend in any field, not limited to fashion!)
  9. If you had to ‘make’ something with your hands, what material would you work with, and why?
  10. What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you, that no one was around to see?
  11. What is your ‘guilty pleasure’?

For those bloggers who choose to accept their nomination, I look forward to reading your answers! Good Luck!

Jo X

Chronicles of the After-Birth #4 – Breast Laid Plans

image1

When we found out we were expecting my darling little girl, I didn’t spend any time at all deliberating over whether or not I would choose to breastfeed, or worrying about if I would be able to. It’s not that I felt particularly strongly about it, I just assumed that I would breastfeed, and that was that. It was free, it was convenient, people are always going on about how great it is…why wouldn’t I?

I enrolled on a particular antenatal class, and there was a HUGE emphasis on breastfeeding. When we first received an email with the class schedule and I saw that there was an entire session dedicated solely to breastfeeding, my first reaction was ‘UGHH’ (that’s the sound of an almost 360-degree eye roll, to clarify). My second, was that I couldn’t quite figure out how there could possibly be that much to it, to fill out almost three.whole.hours. My community midwife had also plugged a separately run local breastfeeding workshop to me on more than one occasion during my routine appointments. Not really understanding what all the fuss was about, and being the furthest thing on this planet away from ‘Earth-Mama’, this all seemed a bit bonkers to me at the time.

I was incredibly fortunate that the expectations and preconceptions I’d had about breastfeeding mostly turned out to be true, and with relative ease, my daughter and I took to it well from the beginning. Don’t get me wrong though, it was no walk in the park.

My boobs looked like a couple of blue-streaked plasma balls with soggy, cracked liquorice torpedo nipples. It was a MASSIVE ball-ache finding time to express after feeds, plus clean and sterilise all the pump attachments ready for the next time, all the while looking after a newborn baby (famously not too keen on being put down or letting you get on with anything at all…who knew?!). I did not enjoy waking up in the night like a chance contestant in a most disconcerting version of a wet t-shirt contest, because my soggy breast pads had torn in half and were wringing themselves out all over me. Having to agonise over every one of my outfits based on the density of the print, absorbency of fabric, or how dark the colour was in case of ‘boob leakage’, was the fastest way to send me into a wardrobe-induced, postpartum meltdown, forcing me into choices that made me feel like a drab old peahen.

Such minor gripes are aside from the more obvious issues; the incredible soreness, the fact that the pressure was on me alone to come up with my baby’s nourishment (and 99% of the time, be the one to deliver it too!). I actually managed to get mastitis three times, which is seriously painful and makes you feel like utter crap, I definitely do not recommend it. In spite of all this, I carried on. Even though lots of people were encouraging me to give up. My daughter was healthy and gaining weight beautifully, and I felt it was my motherly duty to continue.

When my little girl reached about 4 months of age, we ran into bigger problems. It seemed like my supply had slowed down, and/or she wasn’t able to stay still long enough for a full feed anymore. She was insanely grumpy. If she was awake (so that’d be ALL the time, then!) she was whinging or screaming and wouldn’t be put down. Not our finest hour.

I tried everything I possibly could to try and increase my supply. I was pumping up to 6 times a day, drinking my weight in water, taking fancy Fenugreek supplements which made me smell like curry (they try and tell you the smell is maple syrup – do not believe the lies…it’s straight up curry). I was overdosing on oats and all other kinds of magic ‘lactation foods’, trying weird boob massages, meditation…you name it. I was absolutely determined to try every trick out there so I could continue, but none of it seemed to be making enough of a difference. My baby was still miserable, I was still stressed out to the max, and I could only pump a pitiful half ounce in 20 mins from both sides at best, unable to get a single let-down.

This went on for about a month, when after a desperate series of texts to my Mum at 6am basically telling her I was losing the plot, she appeared on my doorstop a few hours later to rescue/relieve me. She gently suggested we try a bottle (not wine for us, sadly. Though that probably would have done wonders for my cortisol levels…). Defeated but desperate, I made up a 4oz bottle of Hipp Organic, and my hungry baby glugged down the lot. Instantly (and when I say instantly, I mean INSTANTLY) she became a different child. Even though it was towards the end of the day when young babies are notorious for getting a grump on, she was smiling and playing and just such a pleasure to be around. It was a bittersweet breakthrough, and from there on it was a natural progression from exclusive breastfeeding, to combined feeding, to formula feeding.

Why, even though it was at worst, making me physically ill with a recurrent infection, unable to function and look after my baby, and at best giving my baby a measly morsel of what is considered first rate nourishment, was I so determined to carry on breastfeeding? Why did I put us both at such a disadvantage, all for the sake of doing things a certain way?

It’s rammed down every expectant and new mother’s throat that ‘breast is best’. Well, I have to disagree. It’s not always best. Mothers and their infants can run into all kinds of problems when breastfeeding, and whilst we are incredibly fortunate that there is a great deal of support to assist and guide us through our journey, some breastfeeding relationships never really take off, or like in our case, become increasingly impractical for whatever reason.

What happens if you can’t, or choose not to breastfeed? No one teaches you how to bottle-feed. Where are the bottle-feeding classes?! I had to fly by the seat of my pants after nearly 5 months of exclusive breastfeeding, basing what I was doing purely on reading the back of the formula box and by watching/listening to other formula-feeding Mums. Why is there such a reluctance to accept the alternative to breastfeeding, and provide information and support with this too?

Even at the clinic when getting the baby weighed, I was asked by health visitors ‘are you still breastfeeding?’. Not ‘how is she fed?’ or something less shaming for those of us who have to answer ‘no’. Little things like this only added to the immense pressure I was already experiencing. I felt as though I was failing my daughter, and as a mother, if I wasn’t giving her the widely-publicised and highly-commended ‘best’.

From my experience, a fed child is best. A healthy and happy child is best. A mother who is physically and mentally able to function is best. So what? We didn’t make it to the end of the first year as recommended. My daughter’s weight has never dropped below the centile she’s followed since birth. She’s hit every one of her milestones early, or on time. She is healthy, happy, gregarious, bright and strong… Despite being fed by, that dirty word…BOTTLE. It wasn’t by choice, but it’s worked out just fine. It could have saved us both a lot of tears had I felt supported enough to have made the decision sooner.

I just want to let other Mums out there who may be going through something similar know that it’s ok to deviate from your original plan, or what others tell you that you should be doing for your baby. If your baby is fed, you haven’t failed. If you need help, ask for it. You do what is best for YOU and YOUR baby, and whatever that is, be it breastfed or bottle, don’t ever feel that you need to apologise for it.

What struggles did you encounter on your breastfeeding journey? Was it cut short prematurely? Maybe you decided early on that you would formula feed, did you feel any kind of backlash for that? I know it’s a deeply personal and emotionally loaded subject, but if you feel able to, I would love for you to share your own breastfeeding stories, views and experiences.

Jo X

Chronicles of the After-Birth #3 – Unsolicited Advice

 

pinata

 

As the saying goes, “opinions are like arseholes…” everyone does indeed, have one. Ergo, if someone hasn’t initiated an exchange that involves discussing your arsehole, you can **probably** assume that it’s because your arsehole, unique and essential though it is to you, is not of any consequence in this scenario.

I get it…we’re people. As people, we all just loovvve to talk about ourselves. It’s human nature. Relating our own experiences to those around us is completely normal, and is an important part of building a rapport and forging relationships with others. BUT…(and it’s a big ol’ but…) when it comes to parenting, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the hype of our own wisdom, and instead of relating to others, we cross a very fine line into the territory of becoming a bit of a pain in the aforementioned hole.

Something about pregnancy, babies and children is a trigger for anyone who has ever had a child, known a child or BEEN a child to morph into Jo Frost, compelled to weigh in on what it is they did with their kids, and/or what they think you should be doing with yours. Just when you thought you’d escaped the unrelenting barrage of pregnancy and childbirth stories, suddenly your baby is here, and what they eat, how they sleep, why they cry; it’s all up for public debate. It’s no surprise that some new Mums can end up feeling like they’re the ones sat on the ‘naughty step’.

Some of the truly remarkable tidbits offered to me include “Well, you know why she’s clingy, it’s ‘cause you breastfeed” and “Oh, just let her cry. She won’t remember it”. Thankfully, I’m not easily upset or swayed by these kinds of offerings. Just pretty f***ing irritated.

Of course, in the majority of cases, the intentions of others are probably good. The phenomenon of new life speaks to our compassionate side; people do really want to help. Why wouldn’t we want to share with others, especially those we empathise with, the secrets to our success? There is undeniably a fount of knowledge for all things ‘baby’ if we can only manage to keep our eyes and ears open.

HOWEVER (did you think the rant was over…?!) As new mothers/parents, we are more often than not pretty darn sensitive. We are desperate in our pursuit for confidence, muddling through the best we can in our attempt to master a role that we have limited to no practical experience in. All the while, in a vortex of hormones and functioning on minimal sleep, dealing with all manner of postpartum ailments and unwelcome bodily changes.

Even at the best of times, unsolicited advice is about as well-received as discovering you have poo on your wrist when you haven’t changed a nappy in a while. NEWSFLASH!!! People don’t like it. Even the kindest of counsel can come across as critical or annoying when we feel as though we’re under a microscope during the most vulnerable moments of our life.

As parents, we all want to do our absolute best, and will spend any ‘spare’ moment we have, frantically Googling and researching in books, the answers to our worries, woes and curiosities. And yes, we DO ask for advice from those around us. Folks, THIS is the time to offer up your two pennies worth to the pregnant co-worker, the lady next door who’s just had a baby, the friend with a toddler etc. .No exceptions to the rule…this is the ONLY time you can say something, safe in the knowledge that the parent in question isn’t ceremoniously swinging a bat at an imaginary piñata with your face on it.

Unfortunately, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy that we are subject to unwanted comments and advice, and it’s not going to stop anytime soon. MY only piece of advice would be, when you’re on the receiving end; take a deep breath, smile and reply calmly “Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind”.  Save your energy, you’ll need it. Put the bat down.

What are some of the most excruciating pieces of unwanted advice thrust upon you as a parent? How did you deal with them? I’m excited to hear your stories and strategies!

Jo X

Chronicles of the After-Birth #2 – ‘A Bolt from the Blues’

image1

I wouldn’t class myself as a particularly, overtly ’emotional’ person. That’s not to say I’m swingin’ down the street fancy-free like Georgie girl. Oh no no. I have a tendency to obsess over things…often completely ridiculous things. Maybe I’ll keep replaying and dissecting something stupid I might have once said four years ago to someone I barely knew at a party or at work, and will probably never speak to again in my life. I also get frustrated and impatient when things aren’t done yesterday, and done my very own personalised version of ‘right’. But in recent years, I am not much of a crier…so I thought.

Approximately 4 days after my daughter arrived into this world, it hit me. A tidal wave of salty tears. In an instant, I waved goodbye to a well-rehearsed stoic exterior, and crumpled into a whimpering, wet-faced, ugly-cry mess. I am struggling to think of an example of something hilariously pitiful that I cried about to tell you, because the truth is, I cried over EVERYTHING. E-VER-Y-THING.

A couple of moments I recall include angrily raking through bin-bags of clothes, tossing my favourite crop tops and skinny jeans to the ‘throw away’ pile, resigning to my new, muted, conservative ‘Mum’ self, who would never look or feel great ever again. I also remember sobbing to my husband, because we couldn’t even take a moment to relax, cuddle and watch TV together like we used to. Everything around us looked the same, but it wasn’t. I was just a nappy-changing milk machine now, and it was never going to get easier.

I had heard the expression ‘baby blues’ before, and without much thought, I had assumed this was another term for Post Natal or Post Partum Depression (PND/PPD). Or maybe even similar to post-wedding blues, in that it’s a lengthy anticipation up to a huge event/climax, and then suddenly it’s over. Done. Of course, I know that’s not quite how it works with babies (you’ll never, EVER be done!).

It’s really hard not to feel guilty for feeling so down, especially when you are acutely aware of the pain and longing of those who haven’t got their baby…and what you know you should be doing is beaming proudly and cooing over your new little addition, thanking your lucky stars for such a blessing and absorbing every last blissful drop of family life. Unfortunately, there are some things, try as we might, that we just cannot control.

What I didn’t account for, was that it’s a physical reaction. A reaction consisting of a colossal comedown of post-birth hormones and drugs, trying to file away and come to terms with the trauma of childbirth, all whilst caring for a new tiny person in an upside-down world, suffering from sleep deprivation and recovering from major surgery, all at once. In my case, I just could not contain it. Why was I crying?! I had the most beautiful baby girl who was healthy, who I was bonding with well, lots of our family and friends showed their support and came to see us…I was lucky enough even to have my Mum come and stay and help out for several days in the first weeks (my husband couldn’t be around much because we had just got the keys to our new house, but that’s another story!). And yet I boo-ed, boo-ed and boo-ed some more. My husband didn’t recognise me, let alone know what to do or say to me.

This lasted maybe 3 weeks, peaking around 1 week and tapering off slowly until it was maybe only once or twice a day that I was reduced to a blubbering mess. Transitioning over time from borderline completely irrational, to genuine frustration and exhaustion. Even now, almost 11 months later, I still find it more difficult than ever to control my emotions, though not to the same degree as immediately post-birth!

How to overcome this? Well…firstly, it takes time. If you get through this phase completely unscathed without shedding even a single, silent Hollywood tear; you are an absolute machine of a woman, and I applaud you. For the rest of us mere mortals, the best thing I found you can do to get through this stage is to do something for yourself. Really make it a priority.

If you’re up to it, take a walk…on your own. Ask your partner, your Mum, or a friend to watch the baby. It doesn’t have to be for long. Even 10-15 minutes to get a pint of milk from the shop works! If you like music, stick your headphones in while you walk and listen to your favourite tunes. Or if you want to stay home, ask someone to take the baby for a walk, or a drive. Take a bath or shower, watch an episode of your favourite series, read a book, paint your nails, do a face mask…whatever it is that is a little ‘me’ ritual that you enjoyed pre-baby, or would make you feel a little more human.

Removing yourself from the screaming, crying baby and stressed out husband situation and giving yourself a little reminder that you’re still ‘you’ and ‘you’ still matter, and doing this as regularly as possible (I realise this might not be as regular as we’d like 😉 ), is a way to ease the pressure on yourself, at arguably the most challenging time of your entire life. Make sure you tell someone close how you’re feeling, and that you could use their support to reclaim a moment that’s yours, so you can be ready again to dust yourself off and carry on.

When you can do this, you give yourself enough space to stand back and re-appreciate the most beautiful and precious gift that you have, and that everything new and difficult that is going on is all a phase, and it really will all be ok.

How long did your ‘baby blues’ last? What did you do to overcome those feelings? I’d love to hear your comments and stories!

Jo X

Chronicles of the After-Birth #1 – ‘Rush of Love’

 

blog1

Ok, so I won’t lie…I really wasn’t up for labour. I’d always felt an undeniable fear that I would die in childbirth; that my body just wouldn’t be up to the task. Dramatic, perhaps? Well…the dread of the unknown cannot be underestimated, and the idea of what can be likened to passing a pomegranate through your nostril isn’t exactly a comfort. What women go through in order to bring a new little person into this world doesn’t have the most gleaming of reputations.

A lot of new Mothers report back that it all becomes worth it in the moment their tiny pink bundle of sticky, slimy joy is safely delivered into the world and placed on their chest, skin to skin. That they felt this incredible rush of love and wonderment take over their entire body in a delightful cocktail of hormones, like coming up on some kind of super strength MDMA.

I did not feel ANYTHING like this. At ALL. Don’t get me wrong, I was totally overwhelmed and in awe to finally meet our darling baby girl, at her beauty, and to hold her for the first time… But mostly, I was relieved and shell-shocked after reaching the end of a 2 day labour, having not slept a wink for nearly 48 hours and completely up to my eyeballs in all kinds of hospital drugs. To be honest, I felt numb. Literally and figuratively.

Thankfully, I knew it was possible for it to be the case that I wouldn’t experience the much-coveted instant ‘warm and fuzzies’…so it wasn’t the worst surprise to discover that I didn’t fall madly in love straight away. It does make me wonder though, whether some Mothers encounter their first bitter taste of ‘Mum guilt’ very early post-delivery, and may end up punishing themselves for not feeling these emotions, experiencing anxiety, or even questioning whether or not they might have PND.

I think there are a lot of expectations put on new Mothers to act and feel a certain way once their baby arrives, and to report only the instagrammable, romanticised version of birthing a child, but the reality is often that we’re tired. So, so tired. Sore. Sometimes pretty traumatised. Overwhelmed by everything we’ve just been, and are still going through.

The instinct was there to protect and love my baby from the moment I found out I was pregnant, and this only intensified once she was born. But, the love I have for her now is different. It’s a love so irrationally strong that I can unreservedly tell you that it has brought tears to my eyes, in what I suppose you could call a ‘rush of love’. It’s a love that has grown along with her as we’ve spent more and more time together, and I’ve gotten to know her little ways.

Her adorable crooked-mouth yawn. Her cheeky grin where her whole body scrunches up, so beside herself with joy that her very face may split in half and she might explode. Her tiny grunts of frustration, complete with furrowed ‘barely-there’ brow, turning pink with rage. I could go on…and I’m sure you can list a million things about your own beautiful baby that you fell for in the hours, days, weeks, months and years after their birth, even in the absence of an instant ‘love at first sight’ in L&D. It seems that for lots of Mummies, this is the way they fall in love with their baby; gradually, over time.

Either way, in the end, we all love our gorgeous little babies, and however we get there; I think we can all agree that there’s nothing quite like it. It’s true what they say; it really is just the best thing. Like, ever.

 

Chronicles of the ‘After-Birth’

image1

Before you abandon your snack and prepare to make a moue at my stories about a lingering lotus birth, preserved umbilical cords displayed in a box frame, or what a passion fruit placenta smoothie actually tastes like, let me assure you that these are not the kind ‘after birth’ experiences on which I wish to touch. Ever. Even with a very long stick. (But hey, who am I to judge if that’s what floats your boat – more power to you!)

I digress…what I mean is literally, AFTER CHILDBIRTH. I will recount a series of situations, emotions and struggles that I experienced in the early hours and days following labour that I had been completely unprepared for, and that I found out afterwards when chatting to other Mums, are actually more common than you’d think…