After trying every natural induction method I could google, 3 failed stretch and sweeps, dragging myself up and down hills, bouncing on a fit ball and hundreds of dollars worth of ‘induction’ acupuncture sessions, I was induced at 40+10 days.
I had tried my hardest to relax and let it happen, but it just wasn’t happening. I visited the hospital for a checkup at 10 days over only to find I had a hind water leak, so I was immediately induced. I didn’t feel defeated, I knew I had done my best and just had to roll with the punches.
Despite being induced, I had a really wonderful labour. It was long and hard, but there is nothing you wouldn’t do to experience having your baby on your chest for the first time. I can without a doubt say that it was the best moment of my life.
The first few days I was soaking up the newborn baby bliss and running on adrenaline. I was awake for nearly two days, exhausted and completely in shock about the state of my body. Was this normal? Permanent? Why the hell didn’t anyone tell me about this? What other secrets are there? Here’s what I will never understand about motherhood: If you get any kind of surgery, if you are sick or have any trauma, you are told to rest. People help you. Support you. When you’re a new mama who’s just had a baby and quite literally every part of your body is in trauma – you’re thrown into the worst kind of exhaustion you will ever experience. These are testing times.
Day two came around and we were preparing to be discharged. Finally! I can go home and have a decent shower. I got my final check and was given the all clear. The midwife came around to check Arley and noticed he had a stridor. Suddenly we weren’t going home. We were being rushed to the special care unit.
Teeny, tiny Arley was placed on a special crib and suddenly there were eight different people in the room. They’re not sure whats going on. Stridor can be a sign of some serious things. So they prick him, draw blood, xray and put in an IV. I’m scared.
I’ve been discharged from maternity, so I’m sharing a daybed with my husband. There’s one shared toilet for the whole unit. No showers. No food allowed. I can’t go anywhere though as I’m too scared about what’s happening and the thought of leaving him even to get some food is too scary. On the second day we found the Ronald McDonald house and I finally had a shower.
After a course of IV antibiotics, x-rays and careful observation, Arley was discharged with a clinical diagnosis of Tracheomalacia. I was scared to take him home, away from breathing monitors and people who knew what they are doing. So I bought two breathing monitors and put both on him for each sleep #anxiety.
There was an initial flurry of visitors and phone calls – every one wants to meet the new baby and get their cuddle. My husband was off work for another three weeks, so we settled into somewhat of a routine. My husband is super hands on and very supportive. It felt to me like it was a two person job, and I was petrified of him going back to work.
After he returned to work and the visitors dried up, my new reality started to sink in. I’m originally from Brisbane, and moved to the Gold Coast when I met my partner but continued working in Brisbane. All of my friends and family are in Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, and here I was on the Gold Coast with no friends, no family and a lot of hours in the day to fill.
Arley was sensitive and a bit unsettled. He’d easily get overstimulated and was difficult to get to sleep. I’d venture out to a shopping centre, only to spend the majority of the time in the parents room feeding, changing or trying to calm him down. He wouldn’t sleep when we were out. Driving was a nightmare as he’d cry and I couldn’t concentrate with him upset. So I spent most of my time at home, alone, with my (very unsettled) baby.
I didn’t have any friends or family who could drop in with a coffee and go for a walk together. Everyone I’d try to call was at work. No one visited me. Everyone was at least an hour drive away and the thought of having to drive an hour with a screaming baby was too much. So I stayed at home.
Gradually a feeling of isolation creeped up on me. I started feeling like I was in it by myself, and that no one could help me and that no one wanted to help me. Nobody cared. I felt myself slipping into a black hole, but I couldn’t pull myself out. Eventually I decided that seeing as nobody cared, why even bother with them? So I stopped answering phone calls. I couldn’t be bothered exchanging pleasantries when really, they didn’t care about me. If they cared, they would have been there, right? If someone asked me to do something I’d make an excuse. I started isolating myself more and more. I had a couple of friends (like Haley) that I would speak to, but that was it.
I started feeling resentment towards my husband. He got to go to work, and talk to people. I stayed at home by myself all day. I started to pull away from him. I wouldn’t want to talk to him. I didn’t want to look him in the eye. I didn’t want any connection with anyone, other than Arley. With Arley, I was happy and smiley. But as soon as I put him to bed, I was completely numb and devoid of any emotion. I didn’t have ‘ups and downs’ – I was flat. I was empty. I retreated into myself and shut everything else out. I loved being Arley’s mum. I just hated everything else.
It all culminated when Arley was six months old. I was referred to the Ellen Barron Clinic in Brisbane – he still wasn’t sleeping and would take hours to get to sleep overnight. I stayed there for a week and got hands on 24 hour support from child health nurses to gently help him start sleeping properly. As part of the stay, you have to speak to a Psychologist. During that conversation it hit me that maybe there was something else going on with me, and that I needed to get some help. How I was feeling wasn’t normal.
I spoke to my husband and Dr and started being open with *some* people about how I was feeling. I started setting aside some time for myself to exercise and do the things I enjoyed. Just taking these small steps had a massive impact on those feelings of being isolated. I slowly started letting people back in. People did care, they just didn’t know what was wrong or how to help me.
I believe that the biggest contributing factor to my experience, was the fact that I didn’t have a strong local support network.
I have no doubt that had I had better face-to-face support, it would never have gotten to the point that it did.
If in sharing my story, even one mum can know that she isn’t alone that would be incredible. I think that as mums, we owe it to each other to be open and honest about our experiences.
Being honest is one of the kindest and most loving things you can do for another mum.
Don’t just share the highlight reel and the instagram filtered, hashtag ‘blessed’ moments. Share the dirty, ‘this is really hard’ stuff too.
Letting someone know that they’re not alone in their experiences, that there are other people in the same boat, that they’re not a failure because they face challenges – these things can help reduce the isolation that you can feel. Being a mum is the best, and hardest job there is, but it’s a more enjoyable road to walk when you can share it with other people.
Location: Gold Coast
Mama to: Arley, 1.
Five words to describe being a mama: Coffee, love, crazy, happy, tired.
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