This is my version. It is not intended to freak anyone out, it’s just a story of facts and opinions I gathered during the whole operation.
First of all, I do not regret going into the public system. We paid nothing except parking space, Foxtel access and additional food for the four days I was in the hospital – a total of less than $50. That experience would have cost us over $3,000 had we gone private (and that’s with private health cover too). We feel better about paying our tax now.
I was scheduled for an induction on Wednesday, December 10 and so I focused my energy into psyching myself up for the day. I woke up Tuesday morning, around 3am, with a severe case of the cramps. It never died down. I spent the entire day sleeping on and off every seven minutes, feeling every contraction until we had to go to the hospital at around 5.30pm. Yes, I did update my Facebook and Livejournal accounts, if only to take my mind off the pain. It didn’t really work but it was funny for a lot of people.
By the time we reached the hospital, the pain was splitting my head. I didn’t scream for an epidural but it was a firm enough demand to get attention – albeit not until 8pm. I sat in the birthing unit, dozing in and out of sleep, waiting for my centimetres to increase. I could hear the screams of the other women as each one successfully shot out their own little bubs. By four in the morning, I was finally fully dilated, which started the two-hour pushing process. The baby was so comfortable inside that she refused to help me push her out into the world. The doctor told me that two hours is the limit to naturally push the bub out, after that, I will need help. They took out the vacuum (Google it if you don’t know the process) and started pulling her out of me. By then, all effects of the epidural have disappeared and I felt every single thing I am supposed to feel. I gripped my husband’s hand and focused on his face as the pain tore straight into my being.
It didn’t last that long but it felt like an eternity. I saw her head pop out between my legs and endured the worst pain in my entire life. I tore like a mouse giving birth to an elephant and bled like one too (I lost a lot of blood and had to be placed on iron tablets, with discussions of a transfusion had my levels stayed low). I had to have stitches of a war veteran afterwards because I was in need of major repair. I’m healing quite well, but still limp around the house when I need to be walking around. Painkillers help a bit but it is a huge pain to sit and stand – I feel like an old brittle lady.
The unexpected part of the whole process was me bursting into tears after seeing her for the very first time. People who know me know I’m not gushy. One of my biggest fears was not being able to feel that intense bond everyone has been telling me about with my child. I wasn’t a gushy pregnant woman, nor was I that into the pregnancy. But the moment they placed her on my chest, still recovering from her blueness and covered with uterus muck, I felt it. A bond so intense I just started crying – my husband too. She stopped crying the moment she touched my skin. She just stared and comfortably laid there in my arms. Exhausted as I was after more than 26 hours of labour, I felt peace and an overabundance of love.
They say you forget the pain after. In my case, that isn’t true. I still remember, and will always remember, every single torture of the birthing process. I can’t stand watching fake labour on TV now because it intensifies the memory. However, just because I remember the pain it doesn’t mean the whole thing is less meaningful. It just means I know exactly what I will go through if ever we decide to have another one (which at this point is a firm no freakin way). Even if I remember the intensity of it all, staring into Inara’s face makes it all irrelevant. If another person inflicted that much pain on me, they’d be dead by now. But with her, it is….irrelevant.
I was bed-ridden for two days after that. In my entire life, I’ve never been that useless and helpless. I laid there with a catheter and an IV, willing my body to heal faster (if only I had some vampire blood). I got dizzy getting up and had to have two midwives assist me for a shower. I shook uncontrollably and needed assistance walking. To say my body went through trauma is an understatement. I still don’t have the full working capacity even until now, but at least I can do things on my own.
Coming home, I was warned by other mothers that my first two months will be hell/stressful/frustrating. I was warned of possible postnatal blues and mood swings. I braced myself for what everyone described as the most trying time of my life. It’s been more than a month and although I don’t want to jinx it, I had yet to experience the negative side of having a baby.
So far, I find myself having a hard time with only one aspect of it – the physical pain of the after birth. I limp around and feel the blood rushing to my stitches and it leaves me throbbing in pain. But aside from that and the constipation caused by the whole thing, I am happy.
The lack of sleep? I’ve been a journalist most of my adult life, I’m used to not having enough sleep. For several years I functioned well enough with four-hour sleeping habits and so my body isn’t alien to that concept.
As I expected, the mood swings are absent. I didn’t have any during the pregnancy and so it is quite rational not to have any after the pregnancy too. That includes the dreaded postnatal blues.
Breastfeeding is a breeze, which still surprises me even until now. The moment MiniMe came out, she had no problem locating my boob, and I had no problem feeding her. It’s been smooth sailing ever since. I am surprised at how instinctively I knew what to do with my teat.
The chaos of having a newborn in the house? Well, we researched a routine during the pregnancy and we started it on the very first day MiniMe came home. It’s only been a couple of weeks but so far, the routine has been magic. It’s a different school of thought to demand feeding so it isn’t for everyone (and you won’t find me pushing it on others because I don’t do that), but it’s been working great for us. I get to sleep at least five hours at night and around two hours in the day, which solves the sleep deprivation issue.
MiniMe has been an angel. I know every mother says that but she has been so good to us. No incessant crying or tantrums. We took her out to the Christmas/Birthday party with our Sydney friends and it all went smoothly. She was so behaved it surprised everyone that she came out of me (it still surprises me too). It’s probably the combination of the routine plus her chillaxed demeanor – something she seems to have the moment she came out of my womb. She’s the most chilled baby ever – only crying when hungry, needs a change, burping – all the regular baby stuff.
I’m a mother. Definitely. I love her like you wouldn’t believe. I think she is the most beautiful girl in the universe. And she is.
A nurse from the early childhood program visited us at home (I must say, the public service in Australia is unbelievably great). She did several tests on MiniMe to check her progress. She’s already gained more than her birth weight after two weeks and apparently she showed signs of skills at two weeks that’s supposed to be for six-week old babies. Her eyes follow movements and sounds, and she smiles a lot. Apparently, babies this young doesn’t smile, but she’s been smiling heaps since the hospital. Clever and beautiful!
I am in love. I am so in love.