4 hours. 4 hours was all it took for my little man to be delivered. I know, all you mums are expressing some very kind words to me in your head right now. But my story isn’t about the labour… it’s about what happened next, so I will skip forward a couple of hours.
‘One last push Alyce!’ and finally the indescribable pain disappeared as they laid him on my chest. Before I even had the chance to look at him or hold him, they pulled him off me and took him to the side. They did warn me off this.
Isn’t he meant to cry or something?
Come on Alyce, you know everything isn’t like the movies, I told myself. Suddenly I’m distracted by the stabbing pain coming from my tummy. “What are you doing?!” I asked sharply to the nurse as she continued to keep pushing on my tummy over and over again. You could tell by her face that she was too tense to answer my question. No one warned me of this. This is nearly worse than giving birth! I look over at my husband, and he is off in another world. What is happening right now? I follow his stare over to where our little man lies, no movement, limp. Maybe he’s still sleeping? Things like this just don’t happen to you.
The paediatrician walks slowly over and says cautiously “I am so sorry guys, he is breathing but I don’t know why he isn’t responding. I have sent him to ICU where he can be looked at more closely”. My husband, Chris, looks pale. I am oblivious. “No worries, it’s not your fault” I respond. I look down thinking ‘Gosh what is she still doing down there! I have given birth what more could there be to do?’ “Now Alyce, I am going to give you a catheter as you have lost a lot of blood and I don’t want you sitting or standing up in case you pass out” explains my obstetrician. Like how much is a lot of blood? What is normal? I don’t think they went through this in our labour classes.
Chris has run up to ICU to check on our baby. We name him Fletcher. Fletcher Kai Hendey. He comes back with some photos and advises they think the delivery was just too quick for him so he may have been in shock. “But he will be okay, right?” To me, in my head, it wasn’t really a question. It was a statement.
5 hours later after only seeing photos of Fletcher on an iPhone, they let me stand up and to try to take a shower. As I stand up, I get a very good idea about just how much blood I really lost! I look down and all I can think is, “I am so sorry! Can I help?” She was lovely, explained how it definitely wasn’t my fault and to not feel bad, but how could I not? After showering, I finally get wheeled up to see my Fletcher. We feel like strangers. Not how I expected. Everyone talks about how they instantly fall in love with their baby. I haven’t slept in over 24 hours so maybe I am just tired? He’s beautiful. Petite. Gentle. They try to get him to feed, but he wants nothing to do with my milk. Am I doing something wrong?
We stay in hospital for a week. I call Fletcher, Kaelan (my sister’s newborn son) way too many times, more than I can count. I am so embarrassed. Pregnancy brain? This baby that I keep visiting and trying to force my breast on just doesn’t feel like mine. I keep waiting for this sudden mountain of love to come over me. I see everyone around me with such puppy love in their eyes for their babies. Is something wrong with me? I asked myself this every day for a few months. I would cry trying to understand. If I told anyone or asked anyone surely they would judge me and call me a bad mother. Slowly over time I realised my love was different to others. And this was okay!! My love grew like a seed planted in the ground that needed nurturing & water until it turned into a sturdy tree you could never chop down.
I want other mums to know that not everyone has the same love story, and that there isn’t a right or wrong way to feel.
I will never know if my love grew differently because of our distance at the start or whether it was just in my personality. Either way, it is okay! And there are other mums out there that feel the same way as you. Having children is hard, and maybe we don’t talk enough about the tough times but always remember, you are not alone.
Mama to: Fletcher, born 04/07/2016