I had always wanted to be a mum. Ever since I can remember I wanted someone to leave a baby on my doorstep. So you can imagine my excitement when I actually fell pregnant! I envisaged a sweet little version of myself running around, ribbons in her pigtailed hair.
My labour started off very normally, however to cut a long and painful story short I had two epidurals, both of which did not work. My body made it to 10cm dilation but the baby was posterior with a dropping heart rate and not coming out. So off we went to have a Caesar. The big blue sheet goes up and I’m pumped with yet more drugs. But I can feel something so I ask the Dr ‘Have you started, because I can feel that?’. I’m swiftly put under a general anaesthetic…
A few hours later I very groggily wake up. No longer pregnant but without a baby. ‘What did I have?’ I ask a random nurse. ‘A boy!’, she replies. But how would she know? Who is she? Where is my baby?
The next day or so is very blurry. I remember being wheeled to a room where I see my husband holding a baby. My baby. He hands him to me and I remember not feeling that joyous feeling that new mums are supposed to have. I was so doped up on painkillers everything felt murky. I was overwhelmed with family members visiting, all wanting a piece of my new baby and my time with him.
Breastfeeding was unsuccessful. It was incredibly painful for me and felt like the icing on a crappy cake and I just couldn’t cope with it.
With the wonder of hindsight all these experiences thrown together was a prime situation for postnatal depression to creep in. I felt like a failure and a fraud of a mother for two main reasons: I couldn’t birth my baby the way you’re supposed to and I couldn’t feed my baby the way you’re supposed to. Add to that trying to recover from major surgery with people coming over to the house every single day to see the baby (and not respecting our time as a fledgling family).
I also had thoughts such as ‘He doesn’t even need me as his mother as anyone can feed him a bottle. What makes me so special?’, and ‘how do I know he’s even my child? I didn’t see him come out of me. I was just handed a baby…’
It was leading up to my son’s first birthday and I was still thinking about the birth every night before I went to bed and I thought ‘this isn’t right’. I ended up seeing a psychologist a few times. She brought up a few issues which I hadn’t even thought of but the main thing that helped me was writing down the birth on paper. Once it was on paper it was out of my head and I could carry on bonding with my baby.
I have since gone on to have two more scrumptious little boys, both naturally born but bottle fed. I no longer have ‘mummy guilt’ about not being able to breastfeed my boys. I have realised that a happy mum outweighs it all and if mummy isn’t happy then that unhappiness trickles through the whole family. I’m learning that there is no ‘right’ way to be a mother. Just do what is right for you.