Friday, January 31, 2014

The First Few Magical Days with a New Baby

I smiled for days....
I promised I'd be honest about pregnancy, birth and babies, but for fear of terrifying my pregnant friends to within an inch of their lives, let's turn our attention to some of the wonderful parts of life with a small baby.

I had a hideous pregnancy full of pain, sickness, surgery and stress beyond my wildest dreams, so for me the best bit about having a baby was: I wasn't pregnant any more. 

And let's be clear: Nature is very clever.  Small newborn babies (your own) are hypnotic and addictive. And I've never been a baby-cuddler before. I'm also certainly not one of those people who trills that you 'forget all the pain' of childbirth as soon as the baby is in your arms. I had a lovely, planned, calm elective c-section, but let's be clear: the agony that followed will stay with me for the rest of my life. It didn't magically disappear.

I digress.

I had really struggled to believe that there was a teeny tiny person inside my stomach. Even as I ballooned in size, even as I felt the kicking inside me, my brain just could not compute that there was a little human being in there, at all. In fact right up until the moment that Baby Britney (BB) was hauled from my stomach, I had visions of my consultant saying: "No, no, nothing to see here. It's just doughnuts and Twirls I'm afraid."

I was metaphorically holding my breath when they were getting her out....partly because it's just the weirdest thing ever, a c-section, but mainly because I couldn't believe what was happening, and we were terrified that there might be something wrong (they had warned us that the baby was small, hence coming out a month early).

So when this tiny screaming bundle was held up, when they announced that 'it' was a girl, and she was perfect, my first instinctive reaction was to shout: "NO WAY!!!" It's amazing how shouting echoes off an operating theatre walls. It was a little inappropriate looking back, I blame the drugs.

This sense of disbelief stayed with me for days - especially as BB was taken away to NICU shortly after delivery. This meant that 45 minutes after giving birth, I had nothing to show for it, and didn't until lunchtime the next day.

But even without a baby, the hormones and the morphine (oh, the joyous morphine!) combine to make you feel immensely, overwhelmingly happy. And when BB was wheeled into my room in her funny little incubator bed, swaddled like a tiny fajita, there are really no words.

Her tiny size, her snuffly, snuggly, warm little body as she nestled into my neck...well she melted my heart. And I KNOW it's a reflex when they grab your finger, but it still feels like a monumental achievement when they do it.

Despite the pain and the gore, the 5 days I spent in hospital were pure bliss. A tiny baby bubble with nurses on hand to help with everything (I simply pressed a button if I needed them), a la carte meals brought to me every few hours, a comfy bed that moved up and down at the touch of a button.

Lying in the dark of the hospital room at 5 am, with DH sleeping on the sofa bed, DD snoozing on my chest, little legs twitching just as they had done inside of me, will remain one of the most overwhelming experiences of my life. 

You're suddenly a family, your baby is perfect, you're not pregnant any more. You're also coursing with adrenaline and hormones so the exhaustion is somehow bearable. These chemicals will cary you through the first through weeks in a haze...enjoy them.

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