Hope you’re well!
I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while but wanted to ensure I was really in the mood and in the right zone to do so. It isn’t always easy reflecting back to tough times as even the thought of the past stirs back strong emotions. I wanted to talk about life immediately after Arjun’s birth and a glimpse of life today.
So as you know from my birth story (My Birth Story),things didn’t quite go to plan. By nature (incase you hadn’t noticed!) I’m quite an organised person, I like order, I like to know what’s going on and I like to have a plan. I was quite flexible (by my standards!) when it came to approaching labour as I knew my hypertension meant that things may not pan out how I wanted but I was optimistic nevertheless.
I had the nursery ready, my labour bag all packed, my last minute bits list all sorted and I felt really ready and prepared for it all. There was nothing more I could really have done at that point.
When I woke up in ICU and realised I’d given birth and I hadn’t even held my beautiful baby yet, I can’t describe how I felt. Did he even know who I was? That I was his mummy? That he lived inside me for nine months? Would he ever love me how he would have had we had skin to skin? Did he have the best start in life and would he be blessed without us having said our prayer that we’d planned? Will he get enough nutrients without my breast milk? How did I let all this happen? Why the hell couldn’t I just have pushed a bit harder?! I felt like such a failure and it just all felt way too much for me – I felt so disappointed and let down by my own self. I felt like it was my fault I wasn’t able to push, and that I ended up having a C section and in turn was in such a state. In reality, I never would have been able to give birth naturally to Arjun as his head was too far up but my rational side had done a runner. I really should have been focusing on the fact that my baby was born healthy and alive. But for some reason my mind kept dragging me in to a deep hole of self hate. It was horrible. It made me feel mentally more exhausted than I already was and it made me feel extremely selfish.
I remember waking up and asking Preetam to show me our boy – I couldn’t even hold him comfortably but he was so beautiful. I couldn’t believe he was here. I couldn’t get my head around the fact that he lived inside me. How crazy? How did he fit?!
|Preetam still in his scrubs in awe of his little boy x|
|Hands on daddy (he does the tongue thing when concentrating and Arjun does it too! – Like father like son) x|
I messaged my family and was so pleased that they were all so overjoyed and thrilled. This wasn’t just about me, this was about our parents becoming grandparents – something they have waited for. They were so emotional and it made me forget about all my pain for a short while. I was so happy we were able to give them that gift. I couldn’t wait for them to meet him.
Preetam had been awake for over 48 hours by this point so he asked my sister to come and swap with him so he could go home and freshen up. I don’t think words will ever be able to explain how grateful I was to have Preetam and my sisters there with me throughout. God put me in a situation that I struggled with but he put all the right people around me including the hospital staff – they were angels in uniform.
I remember when Goov arrived, I was so tired, exhausted I could barely keep my eyes open. I asked her to watch over Arjun whilst I slept. I knew how uncomfortable she was around babies but I felt she’d do a better job than I would at that point. I fell asleep. I know the next few hours whilst I slept were really daunting for her – she was as clueless as I was. Instead of panicking (which she’d normally do!), she got on with things for my sake – she knew I needed her.
I woke up and she’d changed his nappy (with a little assistance!) and managed to put him to sleep. Even my sister had changed a nappy before I could and managed to comfort my baby. The thought of having to lift myself out of bed and then have to lean over to change my baby’s nappy was frightening – I didn’t understand where I was meant to find the strength to do it. My body was aching, my abdomen was throbbing and I felt drained.
|Proud masi x|
|One of the many midwives that were by my side helping Goov to change Arjun’s nappy lol|
I stayed for an extra two nights after Arjun was born but the hospital were kind enough to let Preetam stay with me and also to allow one of the twins to come and spend the day with me to help me. I really appreciated the midwives care and sympathy. It made a huge difference. During the night, the midwives often came in to have a cuddle and to help feed Arjun and put him to sleep – I learnt so many different ways of burping him and holding him! They were amazing and I still think of them today. Initially I begged to be discharged the next day but my consultant and the midwife on duty were adamant that I needed to stay a little longer. I’m glad I did as I was given morphine whilst at the hospital which really helped. I was also offered so much support. Although it was a tough situation, I have such fond memories of my time at the hospital – parts of my ordeal make me smile 🙂 The midwives from Triage and the ante natal ward would come and see me to have a cuddle with Arjun and to see how I was doing. They are such blessed souls.
|One of many selfies with the twins and Arjun whilst they stayed over x|
I slowly became really reliant on Preetam and the twins and began to lose any confidence that I could do this myself. I didn’t change Arjun’s nappy till he was two weeks old. TWO WEEKS! The feeling of being under confident still trickles through today – to some peoples surprise.
Our first outing was to the Gurdwara (Sikh temple) to seek God’s blessings and to thank the almighty for giving us such a perfect little baby. What would have usually taken 15 minutes took us about an hour. During the ardaas (prayer), I had an excruciating pain and the Giani (priest) offered to bring me over a chair. I felt so embarrassed but didn’t understand why. It was ok to be in pain a few days after major surgery! I wasn’t able to hold Arjun at all at the temple but was so glad we got to go. I felt so much better –he’d been blessed. I also felt a lot more balanced in that moment – I always find gong to the Gurdwara centres me. I find it so peaceful.
|Our first lunch out as a family x|
The night before Preetam’s return to work, I remember panicking. How was I going to do this? Was I going to be able to care for my baby all alone!? Everyone told me I’d know what his cries meant – but I didn’t! Did that mean I was a bad mum?!
I wasn’t able to drive, I could just about manage to move comfortably alone by this point. What if I fell down the stairs with him? What if he didn’t want to be with me because he became so used to everyone else? What if he rejected me? I felt so down, so useless and so scared. Even the smallest task felt like a huge challenge and everything was starting to cave in on me.
The health visitor was coming to see us often and it was her that highlighted I was showing quite a few of the symptoms of Post Natal Depression (PND) – something I’d heard of. I knew I was prone to it especially after a car accident I had in 2009 where I was left with a fractured skull and suffered from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I was very self aware but because I was so self aware I thought I’d be able to control it. Not quite the case when your body is raging with hormones and when the course of action is completely different to how you imagined it. Still, luckily I wasn’t too far gone and it was picked up early.
I remember describing to the health visitor how everything felt so “big” and difficult. How I didn’t feel like leaving the house – even to go in the garden (it was sunny then). She asked me why I didn’t take Arjun in the garden sometimes and eat lunch out there (we are blessed with a beautiful garden). I explained to her that that task seemed far too big for me – it wasn’t just a case of sitting outside, it was packing the things I needed for the baby, putting out a mat, taking out some sort of shade, taking out my lunch, taking out his bottle, ensuring the dog was locked away, plus how was I meant to transport everything to the garden whilst leaving the baby inside? My brain was processing things in such a complicated and irrational manner. It was so difficult. Even though I knew it was irrational, I couldn’t help myself.
The thought of taking him out for a walk was the same – packing his bag, taking the push chair out, getting him dressed for outdoors. Everything just felt like too much.
I also had this massive guilt that I was relying on others – my mum was cooking for me at least every other day, and her or my dad would drive from their home to mine to drop off food (at least a 20 minute drive) – my mum had a heart attack a few years ago and I worry about her so much, so the feeling of adding to her running around stressed me out! The thought of Preetam going to work and coming home and having to help me. The amount the twins had done for me was overwhelming. I just found everything so overwhelming. I was so grateful for the support.
I remember Mane (my sister in law) taking the day off to come and spend some time with us, she knew the emotions I was riding. She grabbed some lunch for us from M&S and helped me take Arjun’s things in to the garden for us to sit outside. Those kinds of gestures meant so much to me. People were taking out the time to try help and make things better.
|Our first walk alone x|
PND affects one in ten women after having a baby. Baby blues are common after giving birth, however if your symptoms are more persistent and don’t seem to fade, it’s important you seek help from your doctor or the health visitor before it gets worse. It doesn’t make you a bad mother and it is so much more common than you may realise.
I would recommend partners of those expecting to read up on PND prior to the arrival of your little one so they are also aware of the symptoms.
Symptoms can include the following:
- A constant feeling of sadness and low mood
- A loss of interest in the world around you and you no longer enjoy doing the things that you used to
- A lack of energy and constant fatigue
- Disrupted sleep
- Difficulties with concentrating and making decision
- Low self confidence
- A change in appetite
- Feeling agitated or uninterested
- Feelings of guilt and self blame
- And in extreme cases; thinking about suicide and self harming
PND can affect your day-to-day life. Some mothers feel they’re unable to look after their baby, or are too anxious to leave the house or keep in touch with friends.
Even today I sometimes find simple things really challenging – can you believe I’ve never taken Arjun to a shopping centre by myself? Because it’s still a fear of mine despite coming across as quite confident. I still have so many and sometimes I feel like it hinders my ability to be a “good mum”. I’m scared to do things alone and seek comfort in having someone with me be it another mummy and baby or be it Preetam or my sisters.
I’ve definitely come a long way – I’m comfortable being alone with Arjun at home but the thought of taking him to public places alone does make me feel slightly panicked. It’s on my to do list to take him to Westfield alone one of these days! I feel “ready”! Now it’s Preetam that has to ask me “when do I feed him?” or “how much milk do I give him” – mummy knows best! 🙂
For more information on PND: NHS Post Natal Depression
Preetam and Arjun have an indescribable bond – I’m not sure if it is to do with Preetam caring for him in the first few hours of his life, but it’s so special. Words can’t do it any justice – you have to just see it. The way Arjun looks at him, his mannerism around him and vice versa. I feel really lucky to have a husband that was able to handle things how Preetam did – Arjun is truly blessed to have a father like him.
A lot of people, especially since I started my blog, comment on what an amazing job I’m doing – I’m really grateful and humbled by the comments but I also wanted to highlight that I have had some tough battles and continue to do so and don’t always feel like I’m doing an amazing job. You’ll notice that a lot of what I do is centred around our home as opposed to going out because that is my comfort. Every mother does her best and every mother has her own struggles, battles and challenges – mentally physically and emotionally! You are all bloody amazing in my opinion and I find you all inspiring in some way!
Sorry for the super long post! Thank you for reading (if you haven’t fallen asleep and have managed to get this far!).
What have your battles been during and post pregnancy and how have you dealt with them?x
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