A year ago today, I felt my first contraction. It was like a mild cramp. I was so excited, I spent all night on my contraction timer app. That halloween morning, my mom checked my cervix and confirmed that my labour had started. I was so excited! Finally!!!! I spent most of the day on the app, timing my contractions. I went shopping, lazed about on the couch. My mom told me long afterwards, that watching me that day, she doubted her earlier diagnosis!
But things heated up pretty quickly later that night. The app became unusable, sleep unsustainable and my digestive system uncontrollable. It was unmistakeable – I was in labour! She was born at approximately 8h50AM on that Tuesday morning, the 1st of November 2016.
I spent months planning for the labour. I did pregnancy yoga classes once a week. I practised my breathing. We went to a birth preparation workshop, where I was taught the correct method of pushing. In my third trimester, I started doing perineal massage, to avoid tearing. 🤣 At every consultation with my midwife, I had a list of questions. I read. I googled. I spoke to other moms.
As I have shared previously, nothing went to plan. Afterwards I felt so overwhelmed. And afraid. Afraid, because I hadn’t done a stitch of research on what happens after birth. And any knowledge I may have had, flew out of my head. It was as if I had crammed for an exam and suddenly drew a blank while staring at the question paper.
I was so unprepared that I panicked when the midwife pronounced that we were good to go home that morning. I insisted on staying the night. I mean, newborns need to be monitored after birth, right?
I played back a video I had made, alone in my hospital room with baby. My voice sounds shaky, nervous. I called her “sweet pea”. My choice of words was telling. At that point I still couldn’t connect the sleeping newborn to the little sesame seed which had been growing inside of me. Just one day prior, I had been brimming with excitement to meet little sesame. And now that she was here…I felt…disappointed?
Disappointed in myself for not becoming an instant mother. Where was my maternal instinct? Why hadn’t it kicked in? How do I cope without it? What is wrong with me? What if everybody notices? Why do I feel like I’m letting her down? I need my mommy! Baby doesn’t deserve this! Help!!!!
And that’s how my own birthing as a mother was set into motion. In those early days, I would cling to my own mother, willing her to take over. I would feel alone. Inadequate. I would yearn for that mothering instinct to kick in – it proved elusive
With my own birthing process, there was no early stage of mild cramps, easily timed with an app. There was only the pain. And the fear. Looking at this completely vulnerable newborn. Feeling sorry for her because I was all she had.
I raged against God. Why had He chosen me? Couldn’t he see that I didn’t have it in me to succeed? All the while, mechanically, I went about the task of caring for this little baby. Constantly running everything (EVERYTHING) past my mom. We spent sleepless nights (for me) in the lounge, with baby moving smoothly between feeding and sleeping.
I was afraid to let her cry. Crying meant something was wrong. And I couldn’t afford anything going wrong. That’s how we landed up in the emergency room when baby was a few weeks old – it turned out to be gas. 🤣
But many midwives helped me along my way. Some will never know how much they helped. My psychologist revealed that there was not going to be an “Aha!” moment for me, where the bond kicks in instantly. Instead, she said, it would rest on my shoulder like a butterfly, and slowly permeate my being. That is coming true for me daily. Now, I look at my little sesame seed in wonder.
Looking back, I have no regrets. Not even about my depression. That was a turning point for me. I didn’t realise I had been drowning, until my hospitalisation. I am firmly on the road to recovery. It took 12 months for this fledgling mom to be born. And she still has much growing to do.