So at 8pm on the 26th August 2016 our lives changed. Clark Jacob Jones came crashing into the world weighing a whopping 9lb 9oz after 12 hours in labour. From the moment he arrived I knew that life as we knew it was going to change. Some parts for the better, some parts….. Well lets just say its a good job he’s worth it!
Being a mum in 2016 was pretty much a blur, Adam and I were finding our feet and trying to wrap our heads around the fact we were finally parents. It was not easy getting to that point and I think the first set of emotions that I really experienced was relief that he was here over anything else. Yes there was love but for me at first it was relief, a lot of relief that probably overshadowed the euphoric love feelings experienced by some mums. Not to worry there have been plenty of those moments since!
But now I am gearing up for number two to arrive in about 12 weeks its got me thinking about not only labour but also the bits that no one really tells you about, so here it is from my perspective:
Labour, is it that bad Given people do it more than once…..
The amount of times I have been asked how bad labour is by friends who are either trying or expecting. Firstly I think its important to understand that every labour is different and how they affect people vary significantly.
Some people can breathe through the pain and some need every kind of medicine going if they stand a chance of getting through it. But what is important to remember is that you should go into it with an open mind. Chances are if you have a definitive plan it will go to shit. Take things as they come and remember midwives deliver lots of babies – they know what they are talking about so listen to them.
Yes it bloody hurts and yes at the time you think you will never do it again but time is a great healer and it was not long before I was thinking about doing it again so for me it’s not that bad.
After the baby has arrived its pretty gross not to mention STILL painful (Men reading this may want to skip this one!!!!)
So firstly once the baby is out you also have to deliver the placenta, fine if the baby is coming out through the sunroof but i never wanted to hear the word push after Clark arrived and here I was still puffing on gas and air to get the blasted thing out. For me I just wanted to hold my baby and to have some tea and toast as I had not eaten in over 24hrs and we all know how much I likes my food.
Once that baby is out you still look pregnant. In fact you still look pregnant for a good while after, and your body may quite possibly think you are still pregnant and give you the odd contraction just for the sake of it. Nothing like a few stomach cramps to knock the you off your euphoric perch.
Then down there….. Well lets just say its a mess, there may be stitches, there may be swelling but one things for sure invest in some big comfy underwear and maternity pads that are thicker than bricks and brace yourself when you need to go to the bathroom!
You now have a human to look after
Again I am not sure that anyone really prepares you for the fact you are now in charge of a mini human. No matter the classes, no matter the books, the advice, everything that you do to prepare will still leave you questioning if you are doing it right at least a hundred times a day.
And that’s the thing everyone has a different version of right…. And not only that people can be quite defensive that their version of right stands high above everyone else and they will force their opinions and thoughts onto you like you would not believe.
So here is the important thing to remember – is what you are doing working? Are you coping? Are you asking for help if you need it? If you answer yes to at least one of these then you are heading in the right direction. If the worst comes to the worst and you feel like you are not coping then make sure you ask for help. If you need someone to come round and help so you can have a shower and wash the barnet then ask. If things are a bit more serious than that then the health visitors and doctors are there for a reason… Use them.
And if you are a reading this with a friend who’s about to or recently had a baby then here is what you need to do. Firstly don’t be in a rush to get round there and visit them, not only are they in a massive state of adjustment but also the other half will be there to support. They would probably welcome more of a visit when they are home on their own after husbands/partners have gone back to work.
When you visit them to see this new bundle of joy bring relevant food for that time of day. When you get there put the kettle on yourself and then serve up the food. Your friend may look like she might cry at this point and you will probably find its her that needs a cuddle more than the new baby.
You will feel guilty…. ALL THE TIME
No matter how much you nail this parenting malarkey there are going to be things you feel guilty about. And it never stops. And it happens all the time. A great example of this would be where after a day at home with Clark I would feel incredibly guilty that I had not taken him out or done enough with him. I would then plan a few activities and things to do the following day only to feel guilty that I had made him do too much and messed up his routine. Either way I am always feeling guilty about the thing I am not doing and it usually just flips itself whenever I take charge and do the opposite.
The guilt never stops but what is important to realise is that the guilt is there because you care so much about this little one. And that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Try to remember that you are doing your best and just keeping the pair of you alive for 24hrs at a time is achievement enough.
Your relationship during this time will be put to the test.
I would like to think Adam and I have a pretty good relationship. We have been through a hell of a lot compared to some and we have both lived to tell the tale.
But no matter how strong a relationship is, if you throw a mini human into the mix it will strain things.
Sleep is the first big issue. Men in general are heavier sleepers than women, so when the baby wakes you up and your partner is still snoring you may want to kill them, especially if its only been half an hour since you last woke. And quite often you will see little point in waking them to deal with the baby when you know that you are only going to lay there listening to the commotion thinking you should have just got up yourself.
So look at finding a solution that works for you, before Clark started going through the night I would go to bed straight after the 7pm feed, Adam would stay up and do a feed before he went to bed and I would then get up for the 3am feed, this usually meant that I got a few hours of solid sleep which we found helped. Also if Adam had a big day at work with lots of travelling I would usually suggest he slept in the spare room. This removed all expectation from me and in turn meant I did not resent him snoring next to me if the baby crying did not wake him.
And resentment will factor a lot in the start – you would be surprised how there will be times when you are actually jealous of the fact your partner is out at work having adult conversations whilst being able to eat lunch without interruption. It’s quite easy to feel like your world has turned on its arse and whilst your partner is just carrying on as normal. This is not always the case and if these feelings begin to surface its best to address them face on and tell them why you are feeling like that. You may even find at that point you are resenting friends etc who are out doing things when you are home with the baby. Its completely normal to feel like this.
Chances are you just need a bit of time to yourself to rebalance. Don’t feel guilty for taking time away from the little one. It’s important to look after yourself as well as them.
No matter how hard it is you would not change a thing.
Being a new parent is tough. All the swirling emotions coupled with the fact you are now in charge of a human means that it was never going to be a walk in the park.
Clark fell into a routine very quickly and as he was a sleeper we were able to get to grips with being new parents and deal with the crying, the exploding nappies, the feeding and everything else. Hats off to all the mums out there who survive on limited sleep. I now understand why sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture. (We have just come through 4 nights of broken sleep as Clarks back tooth came through and I thought I was losing the plot).
And when times are tough you will question whether becoming a parent was the right thing to do. Given how hard we tried for Clark and all we went through there were still times when I questioned if we had done the right thing.
But no matter what, the answer will always end up being yes and when it comes down to it you would not change them for the world….. although at some point you will question how much you would make if you sold them on eBay!