Eventually after what felt like hours, we were allowed home from the hospital, with a human being to keep alive. WTF? Why did nobody stop us? Where is the instruction manual? I found this super scary and this is from someone who has jumped out of a plane at 13,000 feet. Off we bundled in our car, laden with bags and a car seat with said human wrapped up in blankets. Here we go, here is the start of a whole new chapter for us…
What happened in that first week was indescribable, unexplainable and downright difficult. I don’t remember any specifics, it was all a blur. A haze of visitors with food parcels, a cloud of “are we doing this right?” hanging over us. But we got on with it, we found a way to get through the tiredness, the endless hours of crying, the utter confusion. And somehow we came out the other side.
I breastfed The Boy for 3.5 days. Woohoo. I had planned to breastfeed until at least 6 months but remember what I said about making plans? It turns out that The Boy had tongue tie and wasn’t latching properly and as a result my nipple was so cracked it resembled a mosaic. I did have a perfectly in tact breast left but he refused to feed from it. But I knew didn’t I, from all of the leaflets shoved at me during pregnancy, from all of the social media pages I looked at, from the updates on my daily app, I knew that breast was best. Of course, my maternal instinct took over and I wanted to protected this little creature I’d kept alive inside for 9 months, I wanted him to have the best, of everything, so I persevered. I let him suckle on the nipple in anyway that was comfortable for him, with gritted teeth I let him feed on the colostrum my body had been producing, to give him the best, to make sure I was doing what I was supposed to do as a Mama. Except on the 4th day of his life, I couldn’t take anymore. I broke and decided to give him a bottle filled with formula. I couldn’t lift him up, my unexpected C-section saw to that. J was having to pass him to me, position him for me, I had just decided that this wasn’t for me. And guess what, the world didn’t end. The Boy was happier, we got more sleep. It was the right choice for us.
Another stand out moment of that first week was The Baby Blues. Believe me when I say that they are real. I had more emotions rattling around my body than I knew what to do with. I felt sad, I felt lost, I felt like I was absolutely shit at being a parent. I couldn’t bend to wash him or change him or dress him. The only thing I had been able to do was feed him and I wasn’t even doing that anymore. I thought that The Boy definitely preferred J to me and to top it all of I just couldn’t stop crying. I think it probably took a good week for them to pass completely. I would cry for no reason and I cried when my milk came in and boobs were sore but I cried more because I still felt that I’d failed by succumbing to the bottle. I would cry even more if anyone asked me about The Birth. You see, I had this massive cloud of guilt hanging over me, I can’t explain why but it was there. No one made me feel bad about not having a vaginal birth or bottle feeding, no one made me feel less of a mother for feeling like I had no idea what I was doing. Everyone around me did nothing but encourage and support both J and I but yet I still couldn’t shake it. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had got it wrong. That I was doing something wrong. One day I said it out loud to J “I don’t know if we’ve made a mistake”. Immediately I regretted it, I looked at our baby’s face and knew that there was no way that we’d made a mistake. I still wish I’d never thought it, let alone said it but the difference is that now, with a clear, fuzz free brain, I know that it is totally normal to feel like that. It’s totally normal to mourn your old life and be petrified of your new one.
One of the biggest things to help me on that tough first week was my Instagram community. There is an amazing bunch of Mummies online, all over the world. Ready and willing to help you out with an answer, some advice or just be a sounding board or you to vent to. So to those of you reading this, thank you. Thanks for making this Mama feel relatively normal and not judged for whatever decision we’d made. You’re all superstars.
Peace and Love.