Way before pregnancy or having a child, I thought I had a very clear perception of what being a parent was about. I was one of those people who stood in judgment, imagining how my hypothetical children would never behave like this or that. My days revolved around children, me being a childminder. On my high horse, I felt qualified to an opinion on how people choose to parent. Looking in from the outside I thought it was all fun and games, little did I know!
While pregnant I read a lot of books on what to expect. I felt quite certain that I would ease into motherhood effortlessly. Seeing as to how there wasn’t much to it. Change a diaper, breastfeed, snuggle my sweet tot and make plenty of cute photos, easy, right! well, let’s just say I have never been more surprised!
In hindsight, I know now that there was absolutely nothing that could have prepared me. No amount of childcare experience, reading or research would have helped me get ready for the contradiction that is parenting!
On the day she came
I was set on having a natural birth. If my ancestors and generations of women could bear down and bring forth life without the need for meds, who then was I to demand any? Baby girl had other ideas. Nothing would make her turn from her breeched position. I tried everything short of getting her turned by a doctor but she would not yield. We went as far as inquiring about buttocks or feet first birth, but it was considered high risk so that was the end of that dream.
I was sad for days, coming to terms with the fact that I needed a CS was depressing. I feel a bit silly for having worried so needlessly while I should have been grateful for that option. After delivery, it really doesn’t matter how the baby got here only that it’s here and both child and mom are health! I personally don’t think that childbirth is something one can plan around. While having a flexible birth plan is great it is still important to go with the flow. This is one of those things that are out of our control.
The great thing about a planned C-Section is that I knew the exact time I would be meeting my little girl. As exciting as this was, it was also a source of great anxiety! The closer we got to 10 am the more nervous, unready and anxious I felt. I had nurses telling me that a lot of women go through it and it is not scary at all. While this was comforting, fear was the last thing I felt. I was too excited to be scared.
There I was laying on the operating table, my abdomen being sewn back together, wondering when they were going to bring back my newborn baby. Watching as a midwife lifted legs that strangely did not feel like mine, into another bed. It had only been about 5 minutes but it felt like ages! My husband being the dad he is, was out there with her and the doctors. Doing what I now know was only a routine test.
Then there she was in all her glory! So little and fragile at a nice 2.6 kilos. So beautiful. She took my breath away. Seeing her for the first time, holding that precious dear life, did something to my soul. It broke me in the most beautiful way. Saying I came undone would be an understatement, but I lack the words needed to describe an emotion so intense, overwhelming and all-encompassing. Time sort of just stood still. I was bawling and had no idea that I would keep at it for a while, at how wonderful she was, how tiny and bony. At how awe-struck I was, how tired I felt. At how my nipples hurt, how I needed sleep. At how good she smelled, how lonely I felt. At how flabby my body was. I had no idea I would be crying about everything. At times I did not know why I was crying!
Only the baby thrives
When I think of my childhood and how my mom did everything solo and with seamless ease, I feel tremendous respect for her. For it was not until I became a parent that I realized that things were much harder and taxing as she let on.
Trust me when I tell you that only the baby thrived. My husband and I fell in love with Shay right away. Our hearts were so full and overwhelmed with love. Our bodies on the other hand were on what we called zombie mode! I could hardly remember when I had last slept. I honestly have no idea how and when my body healed.
Shay was put on a preemie schedule due to what they considered low birth weight which I now believe was unnecessary. This made taking care of her even more taxing. I was up and about on the same evening I was operated. Thinking I had to do everything by myself. meanwhile, my husband was sick as a dog at home, which left me feeling a bit resentful, as if he had chosen it. Neither his family nor mine lives in our host country and I did not trust anyone else to take care of her. So there I was doing the most!
When the nurses offered to take her so I could get some well-needed sleep, I declined. When they offered to feed her or put her in a thermally controlled bed ( I had to literally hold her all the time otherwise she would lose body heat), I declined. Four days postpartum, feeling completely inadequate and extremely exhausted, I gave in and brought her to the nurses. There were a lot of tears and heartache. I felt I had abandoned her and was a completely bad mom!
These early days are such a haze! I have never experienced such mixed emotions. Having extremely high amounts of endorphins and oxytocin, that I felt I could take on the world and at the same time being so sleep deprived that I felt delirious. I sympathise with the new mom that I was, why did I feel such pressure and need to do everything myself? Now that my parenting muscle is stronger I know that letting someone else take over while I get some time out is an absolute necessity.
When the reality of being a parent hit me, I wondered at the fact that God had entrusted me to the safekeeping and well being of this little girl. knowing very well I had no idea how.
What I did not know, was that I would grow with my child. She would teach me what I needed to know to be able to parent her and this can only be learned on the job. Lastly, all the emotions, sleep deprivation, breastfeeding struggle and everything else I thought surprising were A VERY NORMAL transition into parenthood.
Here l am, a little wiser
A little more sure-footed
A little more relaxed
Stay tuned for a breakdown on what this transition looked like, on the next post. Thank you for dropping by and feel free to share some of your thoughts with us.