Riona O Connor - The Unnatural Woman

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Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Birth Story, Breast Gate & Baby Blues - THE WORST COMEDOWN OF MY LIFE

Two bottles of wine, three Jamesons and a shot of sambuca later, you’re home in bed dreaming of going to the toilet. You’re bursting, so in your dream, you get out of bed, walk down the hall to the toilet, open the door, pull down your knickers and sit on the loo.  You begin to feel the sweet release of your bladder emptying, when you wake in a blind panic! HOLY CRAP HAVE I WET THE BED???  You put your hand down to feel your own arse and the relief when you find said arse nice and dry is palpable.  That was my experience of my waters breaking, without the drink and without the relief at the end.  It was like a flood released itself from my vagina while I was sleeping.  It wasn’t a trickle, as had been suggested to me, it was Niagara fecking falls.  That £3 plastic mattress protector came in handy after all.  At 2am on a Tuesday morning, hubby and I found ourselves plonked firmly in every pregnancy movie ever made. We stayed relatively calm, other than some faffing with the incomplete hospital bag, and I even managed a shower before driving to the hospital in the middle of the night with masses of towels between my legs.  It’s funny how quickly you go from coy ‘oh no-one must see me like this, I must preserve my modesty’ to ‘ah feck it, the whole hospital carpark can see my foof if they must’.   It’s sort of unavoidable when you have a tap for a fanny and you’re desperately trying to stem the flow with your bathroom towels while making your way through the swarm of parked cars to the maternity unit.  

Natural labour kicked in pretty soon and to be honest, by the time I’d endured that horrendous tug of war from hell in my insides for 5 hours (in which the urge to panic is HUGE) I was delighted to get into theatre! The c-section, let me tell you, was ABSOLUTELY GRAND.  More than grand.  I felt very calm, a bit hazy mind you, but I think that was down to the labour pain and all the desperate deep breathing beforehand.  I felt baby come out  - there’s no pain though - at 10.01am to the sound of Tina Turner singing Steamy Windows (haha!!!) and saw my husband cut the cord before getting up close and personal with the little fella for the first time.

Bliss, is sitting in a pool of your own blood and sweat on the hottest day of the year, tubes coming from your urethra, holding your newborn baby.  Of course you could prefix ‘holding your newborn baby’ with pretty much anything and it would still be bliss.  That’s how I felt when baby arrived.  There were no heightened emotions or crying for me. No sense of exhilaration or achievement.  Just a sense of calm bliss.  It was how I felt walking up the aisle at my wedding, watching my sobbing soon to be husband at the top.  It’s a very simple feeling, very basic, very easy, and truly lovely.  Of course I didn’t realise I was sitting in a pool of my own blood for ages. I was high on bliss!  When I had to negotiate the clean up, the full horror of the catheter hit me.  I could feel it in me and see the tube slither out towards the bag of pee.  Upon taking it out, they told me that once it was out, to keep it out, I had to have a good solid pee.  By christ I drank for Ireland.  It was the best piss of my life.  

Doing ANYTHING with a newborn baby is impossible.  I now spend my time exclusively sitting on the couch having my boobs mauled by a very small boy, burping said boy and nervously hovering when he’s sleeping, wondering when he’s going to wake/cry so the whole merry dance can begin again.  My five weeks have been filled with the following insights...

Breastfeeding.  I’ve heard it’s hard but HOLY SHIT!!! In week one I found myself hiding formula milk in the wardrobe.  Yup, I’m a grown woman of 34 years and I hid formula milk in the bloody wardrobe for fear of the midwife finding out I had used it.  What the midwife would be doing going through my wardrobes is beyond me but I lived in fear of her criticism.  Of course I caved and told her I had to use it once or twice to keep the baby satisfied, she looked at me disapprovingly and encouraged me to only use 10ml.  Have you seen how much 10mls is??? It’s a fecking tear drop. How’s that supposed to feed a child??? Feck that!  Now that I’m exclusively breastfeeding, I feel a lot more indignant about anyone daring to judge me, but in the first few vulnerable WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING days, I was desperately trying to avoid those doubting looks.  The advice for most baby related issues? ‘Just keep doing what you’re doing’.  This is infuriating! Especially when you feel like that dude in Jaws who is is hanging off the side of the sinking boat.  You can see the thrashing shark (hungry baby) snapping his teeth (gums) at your flesh. The shark knows he’s going to get you, as do you.  You stare at him, he stares at you, it’s inevitable, there’s nothing you can do but succumb to those jaws.  He gave in to his fate, let go of the boat and slid miserably into Jaws' mouth. My boobs reluctantly followed suit.  They submitted to their fate of gnawing, thrashing, motor-boating, sucking, head-banging and nipple tickling oh yes they did. It was a trial, but on the bright side, my nipples are now completely numb, impenetrable and as tough as old tractor tires. Ya they’re that sexy.

Every website/person has different advice.  Like, everyone!!!  And the symptoms for anything that could be wrong with baby are EXACTLY THE SAME.  If he’s hungry/tired/itchy/dirty/moving house/going through a breakup/had a bad curry, he will touch his face with his hands, open his mouth and faff about.  Once these symptoms present themselves you have, according to all advice, 1.35 seconds to diagnose what’s wrong and feed/burp/change/council/sell him on ebay before he starts to bawl and cry, and NO-ONE WANTS THAT.  For reflux, one website says you must put baby sitting up after a meal even if they nod off to sleep - their car seat is perfectly suitable.  Another website says DO NOT PUT YOUR BABY TO SLEEP IN THE CAR SEAT OR HE WILL DIE.  Everything you do is either going to see your baby thrive or make him die.  After the first two weeks of tearing our hair out at this advice we’re now laughing.  Hysterically sometimes, but at least we’re laughing!

Hormones are cunts.  I had the high hormones in pregnancy, now it was time for the comedown! We’ve all heard of baby blues, but let me tell you now that this is the least apt description for what they are.  Baby blues sounds quite nice, a bit romantic even.  I thought it would be hilarious as I cried beautifully at baby adverts on the telly, or found an article about fish really emotional.  The blues for me brings images of tragic but beautiful  figures in smokey rooms in New Orleans, so it can’t be that bad right?  YES. Is the answer.  Yes it can.  Every day for a week (it was week 2 if anyone is wondering when the hormones plummeted) I cried from 7pm until I went to sleep.  I wept while funnelling chips into my mouth at the dinner table.  I bawled while sitting on the toilet and brushing my teeth. I silently howled while attaching a baby to my boob.  Luckily I knew it was hormones so I didn’t take it too seriously but, it’s terrifying when you’re not sure how long it will last and when it prevents you from enjoying things.  I was particularly missing work in London.  I saw a picture of someone seeing a show in Soho on Facebook and I wailed.  How embarrassing! I couldn’t even think about work (i.e. independence, social life, adult company, not the couch) without bursting into tears! Thank goodness it passed.  I can now see how postnatal depression - what a wanker that is - could so easily set in and suck you into a dark abyss of shite.  

Thankfully, having a baby is awesome so it makes all of these mad things worth it. I’m already forgetting the tricky bits and nature is making my brain block out and gloss it all over into a lovely glowy post baby hue.  Even the lack of sleep has been totally bearable.  I have on several occasions, happily woken at 3am excited to see him! I haven’t happily woken at 3am since 2005, when I woke on a friends bathroom floor with a slice of pizza next to my face.  I ate it and gleefully carried on with the night.  

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