I wrote about my induction on my Birth Story post. I was on the pre-natal ward in a room with three other cubicles, which didn’t give you much privacy, I didn’t mind it though because having regular conversations with other women going through the exact same thing as you was extremely helpful. Especially as mine was a failed induction and I was on that ward for five nights. It felt like the longest week of my life, watching all the other women move on to the labour ward. My bed was positioned right by the huge floor to ceiling windows so I could see right opposite into the corridor where all the new families were going home with their new little bundle and here I was with mine still stuck in my belly!
(Awful picture of me but she was about 40 minutes old when I finally got to hold her and have her on my chest.)
But I digress. I want to write this post about my hospital stay after I had Ivy because it was a completely different experience. Some women say they can’t wait to leave and when I was on the pre-natal ward I felt the exact same way, I just wanted my baby out of me and to be in the comforts of my own home. But when I was wheeled into our new spot on the post-natal ward with my brand new baby in my arms and Stuart had gone home, I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to stay inside of this bubble (cubicle) just me and my girl. Now when I look back I wonder why because actually it was the toughest two days ever!
First night: That late afternoon once Stuart had gone home and right into the evening was quite a tough one. I was absolutely drained because I hadn’t had much sleep the night before (partly because of the induction pains and partly the excitement of knowing I would meet my baby really soon) but who gets a good nights sleep in a hospital unless you’re pumped with drugs? Well I sure wasn’t going to ever sleep again where Ivy was concerned.
Ivy would scream and work herself up about feeding because it wasn’t quick enough in coming. This only made me feel worse because I felt like I was the failure because I wasn’t quick enough. It made me think, “am I doing this right?”. A midwife or Stuart would have to take her off of me so she couldn’t smell my milk in order for her to calm down so we could try all over again. But once she was latched on she fed great! My nipples didn’t get sore in hospital (that came a few days later at home. Ouch!).
She didn’t let me sleep at all, I couldn’t get out of bed because I had had a c-section so I was bedridden for the first night. I had to get a midwife to change Ivy’s first nappy and she also dressed her in her first outfit which I was a little sad about. She would fall asleep in my arms but as soon as I put her down in the hospital cot within minutes she would wake up again. So I was constantly adjusting my bed up and down to try and get her back to sleep in the cot so I could finally get some much needed rest. This constant movement obviously wasn’t recommended when you have a hole in your abdomen being held together by staples. Whatever drugs were floating around in my system though were brilliant because I couldn’t feel a damn thing until I would notice the blood soaking through my nightwear.
During all of this I also caught the cannula that was in my hand and ripped it out, the only thing I had to hand to stop the blood from going all over my tiny baby was the towel that she had been wrapped up in once she was born. This absolutely devastated me. I finally managed to get some sleep when Ivy eventually after having a big feed was wheeled off in her cot by one of the night midwives at 3am and I was told to “get some rest!”. I drifted off to thoughts of my baby being swapped or kidnapped but the tiredness was so overwhelming I couldn’t stop it coming.
(One of the midwives came in and set her up like this, apparently rolling up a blanket and sticking it down the side of them makes them think they’re still being held. It didn’t work for too long.)
The next day: I woke up at 6am to the midwife returning with Ivy stating “sorry love, she’s hungry again!”. Yep, three blissful hours of sleep is all I managed. A doctor came around at 9am to tell me off because my urine looked very dehydrated. It seems in all of this I had forgotten to get a drink myself (this still happens today) I was told to up my fluid intake and that they would then allow me to get up and start moving about.
Around 11am a midwife came to take my catheter out and I was told to get up slowly and sit in the chair so they could change the blood soaked sheets. All the while she never took her eyes off of me and she kept asking “are you okay, love?” and I was like “this feels bloody amazing!”. She told me to take it easy for an hour or so and once Stuart was here I could have shower. Which felt like the best thing anyone could have said to me. The rest of the day went as follows, Ivy had a massive tantrum (she would also set all the other babies off on the ward) she would finally calm down and feed, she would then fall asleep eventually (but only in my arms or on my boob) with the occasional poop thrown in. The only way I could manage to eat was with a sleeping Ivy tucked down my top, so that my hands were free. We were told that we could go home the following morning so long as Ivy passed all of her checks, which she did.
(This hideous picture of me is just too hilarious not to show. This is the only way Ivy would let me eat!)
All of the midwives who treated me I could not fault one bit. When I was going through this tough time of being left on my own with a tiny delicate creature that I didn’t know if I was qualified enough to look after, they kept me going. Whether that was words of encouragement or cracking a joke so I would smile, they were always on hand. As a brand new mummy, even though we know a billion other women have done it before us, we still feel all alone don’t we? “Am I really in charge of this baby on my own?” “Am I really the sole responsible adult for this tiny thing who is so dependant on me?” But those midwives, they understand this, whether they too are mothers or not. They see us come and go so often that they know all the tell-tale signs of when we need them and when the hell they need to back away (all partners should go through midwifery training at some point).
I remember at one point I was trying to feed Ivy, who was swimming in a pool of her own tears. I had Stuart sat opposite me and three midwives stood around me. One of them had noticed I had gone completely still, I think for one moment I had stopped existing because I was so overwhelmed. This midwife suddenly went “right! I think we’ll just pop out a moment and let you get on with it” she knew that that was what I needed. Within moments I had Ivy latched on myself, she knew I could do it. She was suckling away when this midwife popped her head back round the curtain a few minutes later and gave me a wink and a nod and stuck her thumb up before popping back off again. She knew when the hell to back away.
Through all of the hard, energy draining, brutal aspects of bringing a child into this world and those first few minutes, hours, days, I would still do it all over again. That is why us mothers are a force to be reckoned with. We are taken to the very brink of insanity when we become a mother, through the sleepless nights, the constant internal doubt of whether we’re doing right or wrong. But the sheer amount of overwhelming love and pride is what overshadows all of that and keeps bringing us back to reality again and again.
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