Yesterday was World Mental Health day and it made me reflect on the past year.
It was a cold morning in December. We got ready for Ethan’s routine health check at the clinic with a health visitor. We arrived on time at the centre and everything was going well until Miss G, the health visitor asked me, “Ethan’s mum, how are you doing?”. I froze.
It was a challenging time back then, where sleep was neglected and I had forgotten what it was like to snore. Tough times. Miss G’s question hit me like an arrow straight through my chest. I could feel my eyes welling up, my body sweating and my heart pounding.
I faked a smile and gave her the usual statement. I think Miss G knew something that I didn’t at the time and she kept asking me questions about myself and being empathetic instead of checking on Ethan. The more she kept being empathatic, my smile faded and were replaced by tears streaming down my face. The flood gates had been opened. I couldn’t stop myself. I started to sob and couldn’t get a breath in. The room which was filled with other mothers and their kids went eerily quiet and I could feel that I became the kid in that room.
I’m thankful for Miss G and the NHS for asking me the question, showing empathy and allowing myself to face my emotions. Thank you for putting a name to the nimbus clouds that were hovering over me – postpartum anxiety. My mental health was not given any importance and I was too afraid to speak up and talk about my emotions even though I had the best support system around me. I have learnt lots over the year and things are so good now but the most important lesson I have learnt is to look after myself and be a little selfish which is work in progress.
I love this photo of Ethan and I from when he was baptised. The smile on my face, that was real.
It’s been exactly 31 days. Even after countless projectile poop explosions, nappy changes and leaky boobs later, my heart melts at my boys’ smile!
It was an incredible 9 months carrying our little one in my tummy and going through labour was the most exhilarating experience ever! It’s taken me 31 days to string words together, pour out my feelings on going through labour and becoming a mother.
Where shall I start? Let me start right from the beginning.
This was the fun bit but also equally terrifying time as we weren’t getting pregnant ever since we started ‘trying’. However we kept our ‘trying’ phase a secret which was brilliant as we didn’t have the pressure from friends or family! After several months of trying, on the 11th of July, Clearblue delivered the happy news! Wooop woop!
Gurl, let me tell you, first 3 months were the worst. Working a 9-5 job, hiding the most happiest news from your colleagues and speed walking to the toilets to puke was the hardest few months ever! Apart from the general tiredness, raging hormones where I would turn from being an angel to an incredibly rude person (only to my darling husband, Basil) and terrible heart burns, my pregnancy was pretty magical. I’m so grateful to God for that! I also managed to squeeze a work trip to the States, holidays to Spain and Disney World Paris too!
After listening/reading to many positive birth stories and hypnobirthing podcasts I envisioned my labour to be a positive one too.
Was my labour and birth easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy?
It was and wasn’t.
The story begins on the 12th of March around 3:30AM when I got the urge to pee. As I made my way to our bathroom, I felt a trickle of water down my leg and all over the bathroom floor. I remember thinking to myself, “Ugh, I just peed myself! I’m gonna have to clean this up with disinfectant!”. Also I have to let you know at this point, I’m 41 weeks and a day overdue! When I realised that I couldn’t hold my pee and the trickle of water was not stopping, that’s when it hit me. WE ARE GONNA MEET OUR BABY BOY SOON! Basil woke up with the fuss I was causing and after we realised exactly what was happening, he grabbed my blue maternity notes and we called up Triage (Maternity A&E) who suggested we could either wait it out for the contractions to begin or come over to the hospital to make sure everything is okay.
At the hospital, the midwife confirmed that my waters had broken, baby is doing great and I should just wait it out for the contractions to begin! In my head I was thinking, “I’m going to have this baby in the next few hours! This is great!” Of course, this is not what happened at all! We got home, had a cup of coffee and just waited and waited…for the contractions to begin. About midday, my contractions started to get slightly more painful and I breathed through them with my younger sister who was nice enough to let me squeeze her hand through each contraction! (Poor thing, all of this must have put her off having kids!) By late evening, the time between each contraction were longer and they were not painful at all. This could only mean one thing – I’m going to be induced for this baby to come out!
On the 13th of March, around 4AM – Basil, my mum and sister got ready to go to the hospital to be induced. We were all hoping that we get to the hospital, they induce me and I just pop out the baby by midday. Of course, that is not what happened.
I was put on a waiting list to be induced. A WAITING LIST! Come on!
Even at this point I was really hoping my contractions kick in hard and I deliver our baby in the birthing pool, just like I planned. Na uh! Our baby was not budging! The day felt long and Basil didn’t leave by my side. He is the best.
Around 5:30PM, I was told by a midwife, “The wait is over! You are going my to be induced!” I was thrilled! My mum and Basil were going to be pillars of strength and they were! We got to the labour ward, I changed into the hospital gown and they examined me. Whilst I was waiting to be induced, I was bouncing around on a birthing ball throughout the day hoping that my labour would start naturally but since that didn’t happen, I hoped I was dilated at least 5cm! Na uh! It was only 3cm! That’s when it hit me, “It’s going to be a long night!”. I was hooked on to monitors and then they induced me. By this point, I started trialling out gas and air – it was fantastic! My memory after this is a little fuzzy as I was on cloud 9 with just gas and air. When the pain got a bit more unbearable, I requested Pethidine and I could feel my contractions coming more frequently and fast.
At about 11:30PM, I shouted (apparently) that I wanted to push which led the midwives to examine me again and I was 8cm dilated! I remember the doctors and midwives encouraging me to push with each contraction. Then the next thing I remember was a whole lot of doctors and midwives in the room all looking in between my legs, looking worried and all up in my face asking me to keep pushing. This was the most hardest thing I have ever done and even writing about it now is making me tear up. I could feel the Ring of Fire when our baby popped its head out and I couldn’t feel any more contractions.
After giving birth to our baby, my mum explained to me that baby’s heart beat had dropped and so did my blood pressure which caused panic in the room. Back to the labour ward, I once again started pushing with all my strength where it felt like it was the biggest poop that I needed to let go of. I pushed and pushed but nothing is happening. This is when they decide that they need to cut me. Ugh! This was the one thing I didn’t want but it needed to happen. After they cut me (shudders), I pushed and pushed and out came into the world, crying loudly, our adorable baby boy, with head full of hair at 12:38AM on the 14th of March weighing 3.28kg. We are in awe of our little Ethan Jax.
Although I didn’t get the birth plan I wanted, I’m super glad that our little one and I are doing great even after losing a lot of blood which was scary. My biggest thanks to my mum and my darling husband who took all my tantrums and for being super positive the whole time with me being pumped on gas and air! Another massive shoutout to all the midwives and doctors who looked after me and gave me the best care!
I hope this little story encourages any expecting mums! Whatever way you choose to have your bundle of joy, you should feel proud and honoured to have gone through the experience which no one can take credit for!