Tuesday, 28 December 2010

First 2 weeks of being a Mum

So little Nathan entered the world on Tuesday night and I knew i was looking at a couple of days in hospital. I think sometimes when you have NO choice you just need to get on with things. You accept it and adjust.

We were wheeled to our ward and i tried to get some sleep but i think i only managed an hour. Before the other girls on the ward had even woke up, I was up, showered, dressed and had my MAKE UP ON! Im sure they thought i was mad. Who cares about make up at a time like that? The girl in the bed next to me who had gave birth at the same time was practically in a coma, but not me. I was buzzing about the ward, seeing to Nathan and getting some breakfast.

Fathers are allowed to visit all day so Gerry soon arrived. My appetite was back with a vengeance and I was looking to find out where I could get some lunch. Apparently there was a cafe in the next building. So off i went leaving Gerry with Nathan. I was on the 3rd floor so i made my way down the stairs and walked to the cafe. This seemed like a good idea in theory but i did regret it half way there. It was quite a tough walk in the snowy slush, in slippers... and I had 2 hills to tackle. I bought loads! With 2 heavy bags I made the trip back. I felt good at the time. Independent even. but looking back i was doing far too much too soon and should really have been resting in bed. Soon I had a rush of visitors which was lovely and between them and the midwives constantly popping in, the day flew by. Gerry left at 9pm and i went to bed. Well sleep wouldn't come very easily and I think i only managed about 2 hours.

I kept looking over at Nathan in his little crib and I just felt really strange. I couldn't get my head around the fact that he was mine. I made him. It just didn't seem real at all. He didn't look like me really, not what I expected my child to look like. But i think it was more to do with the labour. In my head giving birth was all about pain. Pushing, puffing, panting and in the end this little baby coming. But i think my problem was (without being too graphic) because i didn't actually FEEL Nathan come out, it just wasn't gelling in my head. Throughout my whole pregnancy my tummy grew but even then i couldn't actually believe there was a baby inside me. I thought when he was born it would all just click. But it didn't. This sounds weird and some of you might even think its something to be concerned about. It wasn't like that. I loved him immediately and mothered him the way nature intends. But it definitely took a while to get my head around.

Lying in bed that night I decided it was time to go home. I was fine, Nathan was fine. I wanted to get home to my own surroundings and home comforts. Only problem was I wasn't sure that the hospital would agree. The thought of spending another day in hospital was ok, but to be told I COULDN'T leave wasn't something i was ok with. I was ready to go. When an agoraphobic is ready to leave... well... we know that feeling, the sense of urgency.

As soon as the midwife made her first visit i was on her case. 'Can i go home today'?? I was told that if the paediatrician gave Nathan the all clear we could go. I got on the phone to Gerry who wasn't allowed on the ward till 12.30 and told him we were getting out, come pick us up. At 10am he arrived on the ward armed with the car seat. I'm sure if he had been spotted he would have been asked to leave but i managed to hide him in a corner till visiting was allowed. Again the midwives visited and i was checked over. Each time i asked again 'can i go yet'. I should have just relaxed but i got myself quite stressed about it. We were warned of more bad weather and there was no way I was going to be stranded in the hospital due to the roads being so dangerous. I looked out the window and seen the snow start, RIGHT as i was having my blood pressure taken. No surprise I was told my heart rate was again a little too quick but i explained it was just nerves and had them re-take it in 5 minutes. Thankfully it had gone down. I packed my case and was literally sitting on the bed with Nathan in his car seat and me with my jacket on just waiting for the go ahead to leave. The girls on the ward did ask why i was in such a rush but i just made up some excuse about wanting a bath (i didn't know there was one on my ward). I really don't know how i would have reacted had they told me i was to stay again. Thankfully that never happened and I was allowed to go.

Ok new stress now. The journey home with this little baby. Gerry and I had our first fight seconds after leaving the hospital while trying to get the car seat in the car. I hadn't really slept since Sunday night, not properly anyway. This was now Thursday. I had impressed everyone on the ward with my get up and go but it was clear i had been running on adrenalin and i knew that i was going to crash eventually. And so as we struggled with the car seat I could feel myself ready to crack. 'Just get home and everything will be ok'

We drove home in strained silence and made our way to the flat. As soon as we walked in the door BOOM!!!! I lost it. I put Nathan down and I looked at him and felt filled with fear. Who was this little guy? Hes mine?? That cant be right. I haven't just had a baby. What if I'm rubbish at this. What if I cant cope. What if I let him down. This house is a mess. I need to get organised. I cant settle in this disorder. Wheres Nathans pram Gerry.

I ranted and raved and my head was spinning. I was SCREAMING at Gerry at this point. And instead of him being psychic and maybe realising my hormones were all over the place and i was just panicking, he fought back, which obviously didn't help. I asked him to fetch me things and he refused. If he had just went along with it, i might have been ok. But instead he stood his ground which made me even worse. Why isn't he helping me? This isn't going to work. To be fair i wasn't just shouting. I was hysterical. I was in tears and really I looked like I had lost the plot. And not only was I scaring Gerry but I was scaring myself. The responsibility of this little baby had hit me like a ton of bricks and i just didn't think I was up to the job. But what choice did I have? He is my son so i cant just give him back. I cant run away from it because number 1 - I would never forgive myself and number 2 - I didn't want to! But i was still terrified and freaking out. I was imagining the worst really instead of just taking each day as it came. I was visualising panic attacks and madness and being house bound and this poor baby suffering. In the end i had to call my mum. My poor mother. She must have been worried but she made her way to my house and tried to get me to sit down and relax. I couldn't though, i needed everything in order. I assembled his pram, put it in its place, i unpacked gifts, took the bins out, sorted out his clothes and then finally I sat down and had a cup of tea. With the house spotless and everything in its place my head started to seem clearer. Ok,i just had to get through this one night and take it from there. In a weeks time i will be in some sort of routine and this wont be so damn scary.

Nathan is such an easy baby at times and luckily he slept all day and night in between feeds. I think I needed it that night. Had he been hard work I might have panicked, but he was great and I was able to settle in.

The next few days are a blur of visitors and still no sleep. I'm breast feeding the little one and have been told to feed on demand. He is a hungry little guy so I get woken up at all hours. I used to really struggle with lack of sleep and would get really anxious if i didn't get at least 6 hours! but now i never get that and I don't mind. Like i said earlier, when you have no choice you just need to adapt.

Next issue. We needed to register Nathans birth. Pfffft i thought i was off the hook for a while and could just enjoy my baby. I didn't think i would be fighting my agoraphobia for a while. Registering him required travelling out of my comfort zone. My first thought was, Gerry can go do it. but when i looked into it I discovered that I HAD to be there! I did actually put it off for a couple of days, don't tell Gerry. I told him the office was too busy and i couldn't get an appointment but i knew it had to be done eventually. The weather on the day was awful. The place was covered in snow but worse we had thick fog. I have said before i am NOT fan of fog. It makes me very anxious and claustrophobic. I know i couldn't cancel though as Gerry would go nuts. I didn't want to take Nathan out in that weather though so my mum came to sit with him while we were out. I wont lie, it was hard this time. The registry office was somewhere that I haven't been in a long time, and if i DID go there in the past it would be with me driving. But this time Gerry was the driver and I sat there in the passenger seat sweating. Every set of traffic lights we came to turned red and my anxiety climbed the charts. There were definitely a few moments when that urgent feeling came over me and I wanted to shout OK TURN THE CAR AROUND AND TAKE ME BACK. But i fought it. 'Remember this will pass'. We got to the office and I still struggled. I asked the women on the reception if we could be seen asap as i was feeling sick, but I was told there was someone else before me. The anxiety came in waves and i tried to distract myself in many ways. I had visions of me running out screaming. Or running into the room and ranting 'OK IM LYNN THIS IS GERRY THE BABY IS NATHAN FILL OUT THE FORMS AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE AS I NEED TO LEAVE GO GO GO GO GO' Finally the person in front left and we were seen. Slowly my anxiety reduced phew!

The days have passed so quickly and as I write this Nathan will turn 2 weeks old. How has it really been? Has it been as hard as everyone describes.. Well truthfully and as i say this i touch wood, but no. I love it. We quickly got into a routine and although there are still sleepless nights I don't mind. If we have a bad night we curl up together on the sofa during the day and have a little nap together. I breast feed so i don't have the hassle of constantly making up formula or sterilising bottles. Nathan can sleep for HOURS and so I'm able to do my house work. Our families totally dote on him and we go visiting. I'm a dab hand at changing nappies etc. I love that Nathan knows my voice and no one can settle him as quickly as I can. How he seems content when i am near. The hard part for me has been health issues. He does this thing that i REALLY appreciate where he holds his breath and goes a lovely shade of purple. As you can imagine this sends me into a panic and although outwardly I'm all calm and just pat his back and make cooing noises...inside i am screaming and visualising running into my neighbours house holding a sick baby asking if she knows mouth to mouth. But the more he does it, the more used to it I am and i don't freak so much anymore.

The final issue only happened yesterday and this was a hard one for me. We had been invited to Gerry's parents for lunch. This was going to be a challenge for me but i accepted it as I want Nathan and I out doing things together. I wont let agoraphobia affect going out with my son (well within reason). But I had a sleepless night previously AND had a bit of a dodgy tummy. You know sometimes when something is just beyond you. Like one day you need to go to the supermarket and although it scares you, you go and you struggle through it. But other days you might need to go but you just know its not the right time and your bound to feel terrible. Well I was having one of those days. I didn't want to panic but more importantly i didn't want to panic in front of Nathan. Ok he may be too young to understand but I didn't want to take the chance, knowing that if i DID panic in front of him it would probably only make me more upset. So, all day i dreaded telling Gerry and when i did he was not a happy bunny. I also knew his parents were very excited to have Nathan over. How could I let everyone down? In my head I knew the sensible solution was for Gerry to go and to take Nathan with him. But in my heart I didn't think it was possible. I didn't want to be apart from my baby. I couldn't tell Gerry that i wasn't allowing him to take his son out. I couldn't deprive his parents of seeing their grandson.

So Gerry got Nathan into his car seat. Uh oh this was a bad idea. I felt physically sick and i started sobbing! He was only going to be about a 20 minute drive away but to me it was too far. I imagined Nathan crying for me and me not being there. Or i imagined me having a panic attack and not being able to make it stop until my son was home. I tried to hold it together. I know its only because Nathan is so new and that in time ill be grateful for someone taking him away and giving me a break for a while. But it was just too soon! This will be good for Nathan, he will enjoy it etc etc but suddenly i was really upset and asked Gerry not to take him through my tears. He simply said 'we are going visiting' and walked out the house.

Well i was a mess! I had to phone my mum and with every minute i was aware Nathan was getting further and further away from me. She told me to enjoy the rest and assured me Nathan would be fine. but I couldn't rest. I attacked my house in a cleaning frenzy as a distraction. Floors were swept and mopped, washings done, hoovering done, dishes washed. I ran myself a bath and by the time Gerry came home I had done so much housework i hadn't even managed to have my bath. 3 hours I passed. The longest 3 hours ever!!

And so i know this is going to be a battle. Today Gerry and I argued and he through his favourite insult in my face. The one he thinks will get a rise out of me. 'You never go out' or 'You cant leave the house'. This REALLY pisses me off because, well i CAN go out, but also hes touching a nerve and making it all an issue again. How cruel. and how horrible to dismiss all my hard work and achievements. Maybe the old me couldn't go out but now i do, and look at me trying to justify myself. He shouldn't say it just cause its not very nice!

Anyway that's been my first 2 weeks as a mummy and apart from these anxious moments i am loving every minute. And in a way I have even loved the anxious parts because i tell myself that every time i over come one of these it makes me a bit stronger. That was definitely how i dealt with Nathan being away, telling myself that it was something i needed to get used to and something that would get easier. Next up, New Year. Whats everyones plans. I think we should vow that 2011 is going to be a good one. For me 2010 has been one to remember!


jenlovestim8 said...

Wow, Lynn - congrats again on little Nathan! He's such a cutie pie! :) And can I just send you a big virtual hug right now? You HAVE made so much progress - I'm jealous! But you adapted to the pregancy and the birth, then bringing home your precious little baby so well. All new moms struggle, but as someone with anxiety....I can imagine the "what if" thinking and anticipatory anxiety makes things even more difficult. I think you should give yourself a big pat on the back, Lynn. This hasn't been easy for you and it stinks that the anxiety still creeps back in, but you are right - it makes you stronger. And even though your baby boy is only a couple weeks old, don't ever be embarrassed to be anxious in front of him. He loves you unconditionally and he will benefit from seeing that mommy might have a rough day here or there, but she fights back and gets better....it's a good lesson for him. :) You can't always be perfect - nobody is - but you are already adjusting to motherhood so well and I'm so happy for you. Can't wait to hear more! Take care of yourself and little Nathan and Happy New Year! :)

diver said...

Really good post Lynn. Your thoughts on pregnancy, birthing, agoraphobia and being a new mother were so well articulated! You sound like such a natural mother!

The disharmony you wrote about between you and Gerry though ... :( especially the way he needles you about your agoraphobia. I dunno ... wish he'd bottle it and just concentrate on providing you with unconditional emotional support and love and positive vibes.

O well, all the best for 2011 Lynn. I suspect it's gonna be a revolutionary year for your agoraphobia :)

Jill Green said...

He is beautiful. And you are a wonderful Mommy!! So great that you can breastfeed! I wasn't able to because I had to go back on all my meds after giving birth. Enjoy this time, it goes by too fast! :)

kat said...

I love reading your posts. Our struggles and adventures are so similiar. Congrats on your beautiful little one and enjoy every moment. I have a 15 month old and it has been the greatest time of my life. I feel like I have made so many strides and accomplishments with my agoraphobia in the last year becuase of her, but there are definetly some really difficult moments and my husband does struggle with my limitations even though I feel like I am making so much progress, he does get really upset that there are still limitations. He has gotten frustrated waiting for me to get better and even though I feel like I have made huge accomplishments, all he sees is that there are still limitations and challenges that I cant accomplish yet. And it is extremely hurtful and frustrating for both of us. We both adore our daughter and love being with her and spending time together as a family and I try to make sure I am always doing things with her so she isn't missing out on anything. We go to the park a lot and to Gymboree classes and my husband loves the beach so I have gotten myself use to doing that drive and going down there for vacations and such, but there are still a lot of things that our out of my comfort zone that I do not want to do. My husband and his family have made plans for next month to rent a cabin in the mountains and that is absoultley something that i can not do. It is mountainous driving into a remote area and that is just so out of my comfort zone, but my husband insists taht I can not have my daughter miss out on that and he insists they are going without me and everytime I think about it I want to cry cause I cant imagine being away from her for a whole weekend. And it makes me worry that there are bound to me more and more situations like this in the future and it makes me really scared and sad. I love my daughter so much and want to be with her every moment, but I do not want to deprive her of anything. It is just such a difficult balance of being an agoraphobic and wishing I was just normal and knowing that my family wishes I would just be normal and get over my issues. It is a hard feeling.
Thank you so much for talking about it and putting it out there for us to know we are not alone.

Phobia? said...

Hello Lynn, thank you for posting more about agoraphobia. I'm kinda new in the bogosphere, it would be nice if you pass on by on my blog also... check if you like it.
By the way congratulations on being a mum (smile).