Last year, September 2014, I became a mother for the first time. My daughter, who we named Ivy-Wren, was born prematurely by seven weeks.
My waters broke the week before, during work, as I supported a class full of children. NOT the best place for that to happen but thankfully, my colleague was sympathetic to my sudden rush to the bathroom. Several female colleagues were the solution and calm to my initial panic and realisation that baby should not be appearing any time soon. Thank god for those women who carefully and kindly reassured me that all would be well.
There was no certainty of course. There was no guarantee that my baby would be born without complications. Although times have moved forward and the world of medicine has made huge leaps over the years, my baby was coming far earlier than it should have and we were feeling very worried to say the least.
I was sent home after a short spell at the hospital. The docs were convinced baby was still safe and actively producing water in my womb and as there were no signs of labour, there was no need to be induced at that present time. My little baby seemed very happy and unfazed by what had just happened.
Stupidly, a couple of days later after returning home, I allowed my mother to host a traditional Bengali ceremony for the pregnant woman, inviting friends and family and generally having quite a hectic day. Really, I should have slept that weekend, recuperated and relaxed but a lot of time and money had gone into planning it and I felt guilty to postpone. Not only did I not take the weight off my feet but I ate copious amounts of spicy Indian food – one of the most well known ways to kick start labour.
Nooooo! That’s just a myth I hear you say.
My contractions started that evening.
My entire labour from contractions starting to baby’s entrance was a grand (and painful) total of 39 hours – lucky me (!)
Yet, all that pain disappears in an instant when your precious baby is born.
Ivy-Wren entered my world at 5 am on September 23rd 2014 and my life had only really begun at that beautiful moment.
The consultants wanted to rush her away to the Neo-natal ward but I desperately wanted to have some skin to skin contact. Even though she was wrapped up tightly in many many blankets, I begged them to allow me to hold her. They did and for those two brief minutes I told my daughter that her mummy was here. I gave her some delicate feather-like kisses and within a heartbeat she was rushed away.
I still cannot talk in detail of the time she spent in Intensive Care. Our experiences with the hospital were not brilliant. Often we were kept in the dark. There was a lot of pressure to breastfeed and show the expected skills a new mother should instinctively have but I struggled massively.
I longed to hold my daughter close to me without the worry that eventually she’d have to go back into her incubator. I ached when I lay in my hospital bed and the nurses came in to do their routine checks forgetting that I didn’t have a baby by my bedside, handing me syringes to express into as I listened to the endless little yelps and coos of the newborns that filled the ward.
When my daughter did make it home, I was feeling many things: overjoyed, relieved, desperate, nervous, terrified. I had missed out on what many mothers take for granted. I had missed out on two weeks of having my baby whenever I wanted. Suddenly I had her all the time and it was completely overwhelming.
I suffered with postnatal anxiety for six months after the birth of my daughter only fully gaining confidence in what I was doing in the last three. Why we as women doubt ourselves and criticise ourselves in the most instinctive thing I’ll never know but there are no reasons. It doesn’t make a difference if you had a wonderful birth and had your baby come home with you hours after giving birth or you had an experience like me, there are no rules, you can feel low, desperate and alone whatever the situation. It just appears and it is so hard to shake off.
Seeing my daughter grow and thrive changed me. I started to believe I was actually doing a good job.
Nowadays, I rarely look back. It was such a tough time, a frightening and a lonely time. I am just so glad I believe in myself as her mother.
My daughter impresses me every day.
She is the light in my life and when I am faced with the blackest darkness, I watch her, without her realising and I am lifted. I am lifted above the hate, the fear and the troubles. I am as light as a feather and prouder than I have ever been.
I love you little one.