Saturday, July 10, 2010

Unprepared

Childbearing: What I wasn't prepared for...

4 weeks onto motherhood reflections

People are very helpful when you are pregnant, giving you advice and telling their experiences to help you feel 'prepared', but no matter what people told me, I wasn't prepared for the following:

1) Feeling sleep deprived
It's debilitating, it's hard. What people don't tell you is that you think may die from lack of sleep. You don't, of course, but you think you will. The sense of helplessness and tunnel vision is very consuming and it's hard to be positive. Thankfully the adrenaline of having our new baby combined with the breastfeeding hormones gave me a strong lift that got me through.

2) How 'damaged' your body is
I don't want to use the word 'damaged' but really, that's the only word that comes close. You have strong pain every time you breastfeed as your uterus contracts, your breasts hurt from being engorged with first blood, then milk. Your baby may not always latch on very well, which also hurts. The books says use ice packs for this and warm baths for that, what they don't tell you is how you are going to fit in looking after yourself between feeds and snatched sleep. The first 2 weeks were a time when all my urges were to care for my baby, but my body had stitches, bleeding, engorgement and intense needs for fluid.

3) How traumatic birth is
People hope for quick births and 'natural' births. I had a natural delivery, using largely hot water for pain relief and gave birth standing. I had control of my choices. So why was my birth still traumatic? Quick births ( mine was under 2 hours from when i was aware I was really in labour) are very traumatic, they give you little time to transition from being pregnant to holding your baby in your arms.

4) How emotional I would feel
I could not sleep when my baby was asleep because I could not stop looking at her. I could not bear her being separated from me for her jaundice treatment. I still miss her even when she has a nap. I sing her songs and want to cry. I feel the same level of passion for her that I feel for my husband, that I felt for him when we fell in love. I am 'in love' with my baby in the purest, maternal sense of the word. I praise and thank God for the privilege of raising her.

There are many other things, some hard, some wonderful. God gave a fantastic gift in parenthood that I am thankful for every day. Even during hard times.