A friend suggested that I give some retrospective thoughts about my life since having our daughter as a way to tie up the last two pieces for this blog. I, for one, am looking forward to getting back to writing about food, but there is something to be said about giving birth and experiencing these first five months of my daughter’s life, so kindly indulge me for one last time.
I ended up avoiding induction. I went into labour the day I was scheduled to be induced, as if the little one made the decision to help me out and spare me an unnatural birth experience. Labour and Child Birth are completely indescribable. The associated fear that accompanies the excitement of the last weeks of pregnancy is not unfounded, but retrospectively, I feel it isn’t as awful as everyone says, and that isn’t just hormones talking. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never screamed so much in my life. It was the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced. So much so that I swore to the doctors, midwives, and anyone else who’d listen that I am never doing “that” again (a knowing smile was normally all I got in response). And whilst each woman’s experience is unique, my overarching impression is that it is all entirely doable, and there is no need to fear it.
Some key points to remember about childbirth: mainly, your body knows what it’s doing, as does the baby, so it really is just best to go with it and avoid being precious or scared about anything. You won’t give a shit about being naked in public, legs akimbo, arse in the air. You won’t care what you say, the sounds you make, the way you move your body. All dignity goes out the window and you couldn’t care less. Your mind is intact for the most part, but your body calls the shots. Often problems arise when the mind tries to take over so best leave them to separate, as they ultimately do. For me, the way childbirth is portrayed in the media is that the woman becomes totally irrational was false. I never swore at anyone. I never shouted at my Other Half blaming him for my condition, but I did scream. A lot. Screams that were almost otherworldly and in retrospect, quite bovine.
How do I feel about it all now? Of course, the pain has lessened in my mind (only a bit…) and said with knowing bias, our little girl is the most amazing creature I have ever set eyes on. But truthfully, motherhood is intense, emotionally and physically. Bouts with anaemia and extreme physical fatigue, unparalleled lack of sleep and an exhausting, insatiable hunger due to breastfeeding meant it has been a long haul to get to the point where I even have the energy to write, let alone think properly. I struggled a bit for the first few weeks to really bond with this little stranger, and to be honest, that feeling is more common than we’re lead to believe. The warm fuzzies you’re expected to feel straight away are not always there in the beginning. But it does come, and now she is the greatest thing I have ever done.
I won’t bore you with discussions of epic poos or whether breastfeeding really is best, but know this, the old adage is true: nothing will ever prepare you for having a child. Once the hormonally-charged fog clears and you’re left with the reality that this little person relies on you wholly, the terror of the unknown magnifies itself tenfold every day. But, choosing to step back, and see that in the scheme of life these moments are fleeting, does make it easier. She will only be this small for a handful of months, and the lack of sleep, being covered in sick and drool (my god, the drool…) will be a flicker in her story. It is intense, it is scary, it is emotionally draining, it is exhausting, but it is worth it.
With that, I desperately need a nap, so goodbye until January. Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas.