When I found out I was pregnant, I cried. Lots. Not the kind of sparkly-eyed tears that endlessly-thankful women who’ve been trying for years cry when finally the tadpole hits its target; we’re talking ugly WHAT-THE-HELL-WAS-I-THINKING-WHEN-I-STOPPED-USING-CONTRACEPTION tears that mingled with my watery snot and left damp patches on my sweater.
I was petrified. My life was over. I’d never felt particularly motherly – I didn’t even know how to hold a baby. What if I sucked? What if my child was a demon? What if they were twins?
As my body ‘bloomed’ with child, I felt like a whale. I worried that I looked too pregnant too soon, but then I worried that I didn’t look pregnant enough and maybe people just thought I’d eaten too many pies (which was also true). My hips ached constantly. I weed a billion times a day. And I cried. Lots.
Sometimes it was because I was sad. Sometimes it was because I was scared. And sometimes it was because the All Blacks had just won the 2015 Rugby World Cup and they were so happy and all the man love just made me a bit emotional and suddenly the fattest tears I’d ever secreted were rolling down my face and off the end of my pregnancy-induced double-chin and I didn’t quite know how it happened.
By the time D Day arrived, I was truly excited to meet my little man. I was prepared for whatever might happen in hospital, as long as I came home with a baby – which is just as well since he turned posterior, got his head stuck and sent me into theatre for an emergency caesarean. Afterwards I was too drugged up to hold my baby properly so I was milked – literally. I don’t remember much about those first few hours, except that my hormones were all up the wop and I cried. Lots.
After having midwives available 24/7 at the ring of a bell, the minute I walked into my silent house with my blissfully-sleeping child, I suddenly felt devastatingly alone – even though my husband was right there alongside me. And I cried. Lots.
A week later I got ‘the blues.’ My husband and midwife laughed side-splittingly at me because I’d bought four boxes of newborn nappies, yet my child with the humongous head could’ve started in the next size up. I did not laugh. I cried. Lots. And I didn’t stop for four days.
Having a C-section was awesome; I felt like I was in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. The recovery afterwards was not awesome. I was stuck at home in the middle of summer, unable to walk up stairs or down stairs, unable to walk anywhere for longer than 10 minutes, unable to drive, unable to lift a washing basket – unable to pretty much do anything. If I had felt like pregnancy was the end of my life, this was the end of the world. I had lost my freedom and my independence. I couldn’t do anything by myself.
I desperately wanted to leave the house, but the very thought of doing so was terrifying. I started to resent my child because of all the things I couldn’t do any more. I would watch him sleep so peacefully, tears streaming down my face because I didn’t love him (and I sure as hell didn’t want to wake him). I would curl up as tight as was humanly possible under my bed sheets and dream of sleep, my shoulders shaking as I sobbed because I knew my baby would wake up in 15 minutes so there wasn’t any point closing my eyes. My very being slowly faded away as my fear and inadequacy of motherhood gripped me, shook me, smacked me in the face, and punched me in the ovaries.
My baby also wasn’t happy – and that made me cry even more. He cried constantly. When a doctor gently said, “He’s very healthy, he’s just not happy,” I broke. While I wallowed in self-pity, my innocent eight-week-old baby needed me to pull myself together.
My midwife put me on anti-depressants ‘just in case.’ Slowly but surely I came out of my haze. My stitches healed. I grew more confident about leaving the house. I made it to the beach. I started meeting friends for coffee again. And every day I fell more and more in love with the little human who screamed his way into my life, turned everything upside down, and made me a better person for it.
Eight months later, I thank God for my son every day. He’s fearless, determined, inquisitive and adventurous. He beams at me with his cheeky two-and-a-half-teeth grin and bounces on my lap in anticipation when there’s food around. Every day he learns something new, and every day I’m amazed that I grew that not-so-little-anymore human inside me, and that he’s all mine.
As he drifts off to sleep in my arms, his fist clutching my pinky and his eyes desperately trying to stay open, a sense of overwhelming love washes over me and I cry. Lots.
But this time I smile too.