Is anyone feeling festive yet? I should be, especially with this being Emilia’s first Christmas…but this year I am a slow starter. As I’m sitting here, surrounded by all the Christmas decorations, proof-reading this blog which I started about two months ago (Emilia is now 4 and a half months old!!), I am also making home-made fudge in the slow cooker – another attempt to get this Christmas excitement started! I will let you know how it turns out!
As promised, you finally get a listen to the song I wrote for Emilia when I was around 3 months pregnant. I was full of excitement and apprehension about the months ahead. I simply couldn’t wait to find out whether we were having a boy or a girl and what they would look like. As you may remember too, if you read my previous blogs, I struggled coming to terms with being a good mum, and my own feelings of inadequacy and past experiences, and the lines “we’ll do what it takes to keep you from all harm, you’ll always know that you belong” capture those moments of my own experience, and what I promise Emilia won’t go through. I hope that Emilia will cherish this song for a long time – my gift to her straight from my heart.
One of my friends, Ian Oakley, who is a very talented composer and pianist did the music arrangement, and my awesome husband mixed it all. I hope you enjoy listening to it while you read this blog entry. Yes, I know I am not the greatest singer and songwriter out there – so don’t judge me too much!
Tiny fingers, tiny toes
I’ll keep you warm, I’ll keep you close
Before you’ve opened up your eyes
I’ll be right here right by your side
Silky skin, a button nose
With every day, excitement grows
Before you’ve taken your first breath
I’ve given you my all, my best
Will you have green eyes or brown?
Will your hair be curly and dark like mine?
I can’t wait to hold, hold you
With a mother’s love and a father’s heart
We’ll do what it takes to keep you free from all harm
You’ll always know that you belong
You stole my heart, effortlessly
The moment God gave you to me
Keep it safe and keep it close
My love for you, so fierce and strong
Just quickly, before you get stuck in, I feel obliged to give you a little heads up..
[WARNING : This blog contains some content which you may find a little gross. Although my writing is very honest, as usual, I have no intention of putting anyone off becoming a mum. However, if you’re not a mum yet and more of a sensitive type, maybe just skip till the last two paragraphs! May only the brave, or those that have done this before continue….]
And now, let me take you back two months ago when I started writing this blog entry…
I’m sitting here feeling like a kangaroo. What?! Well, I am wearing Emilia in a sling, and she’s all curled up, snug and asleep 🙂 Now all I need is a mug of decaf coffee….“Paul?? Are you awake?'” I make terrible coffee. Paul is the barrista in this household…he’s very proud of his skills too! I guess, I will need to soldier on for now, and go back and re-write everything once the placebo of my decaf coffee kicks in!
So there we were, finally out of the hospital with a jolly “Welcome to the parents club, have fun”! The weight of this new responsibility hit me hard even before we got to the car. (Some of that was probably the wave of heat as well! We chose the hottest time of the year to welcome little Emilia into the world!) The first struggle was just figuring out how get her into the car seat…and this set the tone for the next 5 weeks or so! To say we felt unprepared and out of our depths would be an understatement. Google became our best friend. We googled everything from “what colour should a baby’s poo look like” to “how to distinguish a baby’s cry” to “when will I sleep again”! It was all SO NEW. Exciting, yet also completely scary!
Here’s a brief description of what Paul and I encountered on our journey as new parents…
Ain’t nobody got time for this
When I used to hear new parents talk about how busy a newborn kept them, I used to think “How is that possible? Surely they sleep ALL the time??” This was one of many naive thoughts I had, which was quickly proven wrong! If I were to explain to you why and how we had NO TIME to do anything but keep Emilia alive, I wouldn’t be able to…but somehow she was ALL we had time for. The first few days were literally spent in bed with Emilia. We would wake up at what-ever time and as the day went on suddenly realise it was 6pm and neither of us had showered or even brushed our teeth!!!! Yup, we were hit by the “new parent virus”. Paul was absolutely fantastic, and was a huge help. He used to make sure I ate (I just didn’t feel like eating but desperately needed to, to keep my strength up to feed little Emilia). He also did the cleaning and reminded me of all the meds I had to take, etc etc. I was just so out of it, I had no grasp of time or day or anything. We were running purely on adrenaline. One thing that was a massive help to us was the daily dinners we were provided with! Paul and I go to a really great church (www.comchurch.org.uk – check it out!) and they organise for someone to bring round dinner each night, for over a week. Without it, we probably would have lived on toast!
Jump aboard the e-m-o-t-i-o-n-a-l rollercoaster
Nothing could have prepared me for the emotional rollercoaster I was about to embark on. I was warned about these so-called “baby blues”, a time most mum’s go through which can be very emotional due to hormone levels regulating, and redundant hormones clocking out. Yet it still caught me totally off guard. One minute I was on top of the world, the next minute I’m standing in front of my wardrobe crying my eyes out because I couldn’t find a top to fit (the joys of breastfeeding!).
Ouchy ouchy ouch
…and speaking of breastfeeding….oh boy…that was THE biggest shock of all!!!! So, you think to yourself “phew, the worst bit is over, I survived labour” and then you enthusiastically start breastfeeding when the smiles quickly fade and reality sinks in. Now, not everyone has these kinds of stories, by the way, some people found breastfeeding a walk in the park from day one, but I was not one of those lucky people! I just assumed that because I was shown how to do it properly it was going to be pain-free (because I was told it would only hurt if you were doing it wrong) but I didn’t really take into consideration that 50% of the success rate relied on Emilia being able to latch on. The pain was extremely unpleasant…I constantly dosed myself up on ibuprofen and burst into tears as soon as Emilia latched on. I tried so many things to ease the pain, including sticking a cooled cabbage leaf down my bra (more uncomfortable than soothing!) and a variety of creams. Although some of it helped in a small way, it didn’t stop me from getting Mastitis twice (an infection caused by blocked milk ducts) which was very painful and gave me a fever leaving me bed-bound. Oh, and not to forget to mention cracked nipples My advice to anyone wishing to breastfeed for the first time, make sure you have help getting started and seek help immediately as soon as you are experiencing pain – don’t wait as long as I did!!! I finally sought out advice and was able to get the right help. It did take a good six weeks until I was able to breastfeed without any pain but I am so glad I stuck with it. I absolutely love the closeness of nursing Emilia in this way, it’s a very special thing for both of us.
A few more ouchy’s
Unfortunately there was a little bit more pain for me to endure…stitches healing up, going for number two’s (reliving labour!) and just my body needing to recover from childbirth. There were also a few other uh, undesirable things to go through like the non-stop bleeding (Lochia) which, for me, lasted four weeks.
What is this crazy thing you speak of…sleep?
Oh we were warned, “you will get no sleep”, but how do you know what that feels like until it happens? The other day, I read that your body exerts itself to the same level as running a marathon during labour, and that’s not even taking the pain into consideration! Bearing that in mind, you get NO break whatsoever afterwards, no time to recover…and you have to launch straight into sleepless nights and restless days! A newborn has to feed every two hours around the clock – it was beyond tiring!! My wonderful husband was so supportive again, and would wake up with me during the night and pass Emilia to me and put her back down after feeds (I was still struggling so much just sitting on my behind due to the stitches, so scooching out of bed with Emilia in my arms was almost impossible!). I couldn’t really get the hang of expressing (pumping breastmilk into bottles) so Paul couldn’t help with the actual feeding.
Pass me the earplugs…and a box of tissues!
I have to chuckle when I think back to when Paul and I were still in hospital and our precious, still slightly-dosed-up-from-the-pethidine, daughter was the perfect newborn. She didn’t cry, not even when she had to have her heel pricked to have blood taken. We boldly and proudly told our parents, “Oh she’s just wonderful, she doesn’t even cry!” and they just smiled politely. I have to chuckle even more when I remember the day dreams I used to have about what my first few weeks with Emilia would be like!! I used to think that as it was the summer, I would just take her outside to a park somewhere and we would both lie on a picnic blanket – she would be peacefully asleep, and I would be basking in the sunshine, reading a book and munching on sweet chilli crisps! Hahahaha….oh dear!
While there are definitely those enviable angelic newborns out there that simply just sleep and feed for the first few weeks….yup, you’ve guessed it…Emilia was absolutely not one of them! A few days into it, she started screaming for hours on end for no apparent reason. We were besides ourselves trying to find out what caused her crying and how to help her. After speaking to our doctor and health visitors, they told us she had colic (which really is just a fancy way of saying she has stomach issues but they can’t pinpoint exactly what the issues are). So we took her to a cranial osteopath (this is a treatment which helps release stresses and tensions in the body) as a few of our friends recommended it. It seemed to help Emilia settle a little, but the screaming continued. This made it impossible to take her anywhere as we couldn’t predict when the screaming would start and how long it would go on for. It was really horrible, and I used to just hold Emilia and cry with her. Having to watch her like that actually made my body “feel her pain” – I realised then just how strong my bond with Emilia is. Eventually, we were able to diagnose Emilia with silent reflux (where the milk would come back up and irritate and sometimes burn her throat) and struggling to bring up wind after feeds. Armed with that new knowledge, and as her digestive system matured over time, we started seeing massive improvements and now she is a very happy and content little girl 🙂
Now, before you stop reading, and turn away in despair dear mummy-to-be, please don’t panic! Yes, I mentioned a lot of horrible bits, but the good stuff outweighs all of those by FAR! I was only describing my experience so that you might not be as naive and shocked as I was. I always think that the key to handle situations well is to get “into the zone”, be mentally prepared, and you will be absolutely fine. The mind is a powerful thing! Let me share two more points that are tremendously positive and encouraging 🙂
Winter, spring, summer or fall…all you’ve got to do is call
During those first few weeks, we felt so much support from our family and friends, who without, we would have really struggled! Everyone was quick to help and to give us good advice and encouragement. We realised what amazing people we had in our lives. The amount of cards, flowers, presents and well wishes we received was overwhelming!!! Our lounge looked like a flower shop! It was so lovely to know that we weren’t the only ones excited about our daughter’s arrival, and that she already had so many special people in her life caring for her and loving her.
‘There are really places in your heart that you don’t know exist until you love a child.’ – Ann Lamott
I can honestly say that becoming a mother is the best thing I have EVER done. Emilia brings us so much joy and laughter, and she has given me such fulfilment as a mother. An added purpose to my life. I can’t even put into words just how much I love her, and how I would do anything for her. She has completely “stolen” my heart, like the song says. With each smile, my heart melts, and with each cuddle, I know that I have made the best decision of my life. I love Paul even more than I thought possible. He has given me the most beautiful gift, and watching him with Emilia is a constant reminder of what a wonderfully loving, caring and supportive husband he is. Life will always have its ups and downs, but the special ones in our lives bring sunshine, rain or shine 🙂
Now, I really should let you get on with your busy lives! Feel free to leave me comment and share any tips you have for expectant mums.
[The fudge smells divine, by the way, and tastes pretty scrumptious…the hard bit will be leaving it to cool overnight!]
Until next time…I have LOADS more ramblings to share with you! Xx