By Sarah Noble
I’ve always known I was going to be a mum. I believed it without a doubt. I had no idea when, I had no idea who with, I just KNEW.
I didn’t grow up around babies. The women around me never talked openly about the ups and downs of motherhood. All I knew was what I had heard and seen from society – movies, books, magazines. It was all left wide open, unanswered. Even in antenatal class these things were brushed over. It was a quick crash course in what options of painkillers you have, one lesson on how to swaddle and bath your baby, natural birth vs. Caesarean and the options of where to birth with all the pros and cons.
I had no idea what I was doing. But I trusted. I knew I was meant to be a mum.
It started with pregnancy. I had no idea it would be so emotionally, physically and mentally demanding. You only ever hear of pregnancies being two things – an absolute breeze and they loved it, or a nightmare they hated! Same with the birth: mostly I’d heard how horrible it was from other women. My plans for an all natural birth at a birthing centre went out the window and after a 31-hour labour, no sleep for three days, no food, 1.5L of blood loss and an episiotomy, my son was born, healthy and well in the hospital. I was cleaned up, stitched up and put into a shared room with another mum and her crying baby. I was so weak I needed help to go to the toilet, and to lift my son so I could feed him. My partner could not stay with me – I was left alone, hours after giving birth to my son. I was scared, tired, so tired, hungry, sore, weak and lonely. The nurses did their best, but there was a strike on, and each time I’d have someone new with different opinions, which was confusing. I had no idea how to breastfeed properly. It did not come naturally to me. It hurt, a lot. I worried my son wasn’t getting anything, but I knew I had to keep trying.
Again, each midwife had different opinions on how to get my son to feed and sleep, again, confusing. I began to go with my gut and listen to what felt aligned to me instinctively, intuitively.
After a blood transfusion, I transferred to the birthing centre. My partner was able to stay with me for two nights. I had a proper bed and proper food (don’t get me started on how a woman is supposed to heal when given sugar-laden cereal with an extra sugar packet on the side!) and more support. Again, each midwife had different opinions on how to get my son to feed and sleep, again, confusing. I began to go with my gut and listen to what felt aligned to me instinctively, intuitively. I sat in the feeding chair like a zombie, holding my son and hoping he was getting nourishment, gritting my teeth through any pain.
On the fourth day after I gave birth my milk came in – yay things were working! We started to get the hang of this breastfeeding thing, the pain slowly started to wane, and we found our rhythm. I was still very weak, severely sleep deprived and sore when I went home. I had a week and a half of my mum and partner to help me adjust to caring for this helpless little human 24/7. NOT ENOUGH TIME, BY THE WAY! Some women are lucky to have family around for longer; not me.