*First published here on Medium, 15 June 2019
Shuffling one foot in front of the other, feeling defeated and overwhelmed with it all. My partner stood behind my hunched frame, C- section scar still raw as I tried to make it to the toilet for the first time. I couldn’t even pull my hospital grade knickers down; strangely my only source of comfort in this chaos. People wanting to come and visit I thought, I can’t even turn sideways without wincing but they still expect you to host?!
Seriously. This is Motherhood?
Are you kidding me? I want a fucking refund. Is someone coming to rub my back and feed me grapes in a minute? I’m pretty sure if I had appendicitis people would not be bothering me and instead encouraging me to rest. And on top of all that you want me to feed someone else and coo over them? Fuck that. I was furious. I breastfed, I just did. I was on autopilot. He latched okay and I thought well this seems pretty painless in the midst of it all, the first couple of days I don’t think I had time to really consider anything in great detail. But somewhere during that time in the hospital, emotion hit me like a brick in the face. I just wanted to be at home in comfort.
I asked the midwife on shift now I had moved to post natal ward and was told I could be discharged the next day if medication could be prescribed. No questions from the midwife on staff about how the baby was feeding. No enquiries about my level of pain, nor any indication that maybe I should stay longer following a section to be supported and monitored by the hospital. So the next day, a discharge note was produced but no medication. When I asked why, I was told that I couldn’t have Oramorph anymore and if I was breastfeeding I could only be advised to take Paracetomol — something I could pick up on my way home.
So, home I went and continued fumbling my way through those early days. Grimacing, every time I tried to sit my body up to feed. Two midwives came to do the day 1 check, later than planned due to my section. Asking about how breastfeeding was going, I said great (as far as I knew in all of my 36 hours experience). One of the midwifes peered over from the far side of the bed and stated ‘Yes that latch looks fine’. No other enquiries about frequency of feeds or presentation of liquid coming out. Specifically if it was still Colostrum or if my ‘milk had come in’.
Fast - Forward one day and my sister had come to visit me at home. Some people might not believe in angels, a God or guardians - myself included. Often unsure about what to call the spiritual field of energy that protects me; but one was surely watching over us that day and sent my sister as a protector. After I had fed the baby my sister cuddled him and put him back in his cot.
I’m unsure if it was new parent anxiety or a higher power at work but I asked my sister to look at the baby less than 15 minutes later. It felt as if we were almost in slow motion but she said to me that she couldn’t tell if he was breathing or not. Trying to maintain my composure and not tear open my section wound, I shuffled across the bed at the same time my sister lifted Avery out of the cot.
The next few moments are a blur and I can’t say for sure if she told me to call 111 or if I did it without thinking, but she said his breath was shallow and after several prompts by both of us with no flicker of his eyelids, I passed the baby back to her panicked and she positioned him for recovery whilst I talked through what was happening to the operator.
After what seemed like an eternity he let out a huge gasp and began to cry. The 111 operator told us to go straight to A&E and as we rushed around with the greatest sense of panic and urgency gathering what we needed my partner came in to check on us.
In as fewer words as I could string together, I explained as best I could what had unfolded over the last 20 minutes. We all bundled into the car and back to the hospital, only Day 5 of babies welcome to the world. The hospital took a blood sample and after some time came back to tell us that Avery had a high sodium level.
Can anybody that is a non medical professional tell me what that is?
The staff on shift once again, didn’t really have any further explanation but stated that they needed to fit an IV drip and start antibiotics straight away. Then we could be moved to a hospital with a bed as none were available in the one we were in. After the 3rd time of staff trying to find a vein and being asked to hold this small helpless being still as he screamed at the top of his lungs with blood going everywhere, the enormity of what I was being asked to do as a parent hit me. HARD.
Protect, teach, support, discipline, be uncontrollably switched on, linked to, thinking about, worried about, any and everything this human being needs forever more. Raise a human. Not just have a baby, because believe me now, in hindsight newborn baby isn’t a stage for very long. They soon become an active, inquisitive, crawling baby, a toddler, then a little boy, a teenager after that and before you know it they will be held up and measured by how kind they are; intellectual, intelligent and well rounded they have become as a person. And all of it is down. To. YOU! So again, I asked myself. Seriously. THIS. Is Motherhood?