The Birth and the Black Cloud

I went into labour.

The contractions came, more frequently, more intense.

But not so intense that I couldn’t stand the pain.

I’d felt them coming on, irregularly, for a week now. I was booked to be induced, but the labour started on its own.

I rang the hospital. They told me to wait a bit. So I waited. The contractions came closer together and eventually I was told to come in.

Still, the pain wasn’t severe. Painful. But not severe.

I was given a bed in the labour ward where I awaited the arrival of my obstetrician. He came eventually. I was dilating, but he was worried. He set some time limits for me. A time by which I was to be fully dilated. A time frame for ‘pushing’. A time by which my baby would be born. He would then determine what to do. He wasn’t happy with the baby’s position.

He disappeared.

When he returned several hours later, I was almost fully dilated. I was on track for the times he had set. I reached the target. But the baby was still sitting to high. I was attached to some more machines to monitor the baby, monitor me …

He then determined that the baby wasn’t doing so well. He needed to take me to the theatre. For surgery. For a caesarean.

This wasn’t in my plan. I was feeling distressed, but managed to hide this from everyone; the midwives, my obstetrician, my husband.

“Sure,” I said. Whatever we need to do.

Inside, I was feeling a complete failure. This is not what I wanted. What had I done wrong? What was wrong with me? This isn’t how it is supposed to go.

I was numbed from the neck down, given a vile drink to drink. I felt sick. I waved in and out of a sleepy state.

Sometimes conscious of what was going on around me. Sometimes not.

I heard my baby cry. But they didn’t bring it to me. Not straight away.

It was a boy.

They allowed me to hold him briefly. With some help. Then they took him away. And took me to recovery to be monitored some more. To have the anaesthetic wear off. During this time all I could think was what everyone had been saying to me “If you don’t get the baby on the breast straight away, you will have problems feeding. You will have problems bonding.” This is not how it is supposed to go.

Eventually they transported me to my room. And my baby. I still felt sick. Sick and tired. And a complete failure. I could not move without help.

I recall lying on my back, flat on my back, and having to be lifted onto another bed.

I was completely in the hands of others. The handing over of control of my own body was hard to take.

I met my son again. I fed him. With no problems. They took him away to let me sleep the night. He slept for a long time. I kept being woken for checking. I fed him again the next morning.

I felt hopeless.

Everyone telling me what to do.

Day three hit. The baby blues. I had heard about them. Did they really want to make you throw your baby out the window? I don’t remember reading about that. Anyway. The windows couldn’t be opened.

And this is not the way a good mother things. So I repressed the thoughts.

My feeding was going well. I stopped buzzing the nurses for help, even though they had asked that I let them know every time I was about to feed. I didn’t want people telling me what to do. Like I was useless and needed them every time. Why did they think I was so hopeless? Why did they have to watch and critique everything I did?

Was I really a bad mother? Did I really need them to tell me the same things every time? Like I was stupid? Did they know how I was feeling?

I smiled when people came in. I did everyting a mother is supposed to do. I let people hold the baby, whenever anyone came in, so I didn’t have to. I made it look like I was being polite. Sharing.

Due to the surgery, I was required to remain in hospital for 5 days. I was allowed to go home after three. I refused.

I was too scared. I can’t do this on my own. I don’t want to be at home. With a baby.

I’m hopeless. I’m useless. I can’t do this.

They made me go home after the five days.

I was terrified. I had no help. No support. And no idea.

I read more books at home. I had to do this right.

I cried a lot. I wanted to hurt myself. I wanted to hurt my baby.

The black cloud distorted my view on everything. It affected my relationships with everyone. With everything. With the fun events in my life. I rarely left the house. And when I did, all I could do was walk. And walk. And walk. And walk.

I had to control everything. Where things were placed. How things worked. The times things were done. When things didn’t fit into these parametres I went into angry rages. Which quickly descended into fears, desires to hurt and complete uselessness.

I was out of control. Had no control.

Eventually, I had to go to the doctor, my GP, for something else. I cried. And cried.

Not over my fears. Or my desires to hurt. I cried over my husband working on a weekend.

She heard me.

She had me on medication – Zoloft – and an appointment with a psychologist within the week.

It took some time, some months. But I managed to get a handle on things.

I really could do this. I can do it.

It wasn’t so scary.

It isn’t so scary. I’m much better now. And trying for baby number two.

I can do this. And I am not a failure.

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