Wednesday 2 December 2015

The day I became a Mother and the year that followed.

I've been feeling reflective over the last couple of days following Ella's first Birthday. It's hard to believe that just over a year ago I was leaving the hospital with my newborn baby and embarking on a lifetime of Motherhood. On the 30th of November at 5.57pm Ella entered the world and changed our lives forever. It's such a surreal feeling. ONE whole year ago I gave birth to a beautiful girl (weighing in at 8lbs3oz and 53cm long) and at the same time I became a Mother.

Looking back on that day, or even those few days when I was in labour, I can still remember it so clearly. I remember my waters breaking and feeling excited with anticipation knowing that very soon I would be meeting my little girl, the one that I had been waiting for, for what felt like the longest nine months of my life. 

I remember the pain of labour, but I also remember welcoming it and encouraging it knowing it was pain with a purpose. I remember the surprise and apprehension when I was told I wouldn't be able to give birth naturally. I remember shaking with a combination of apprehension and the side effects of a cocktail of oxytocin and epidural.

 I remember waiting for the cry of my baby when she was pulled out of my stomach and the relief when I heard it and knew she was ok. I remember the look on my husbands face - a combination of concern, making sure I was ok, and a look of complete awe and love for the little creature that just entered our lives. I remember feeling her cheek next to my cheek and how velvety soft it was and most of all I remember holding her in my arms and marvelling at her perfection.

That day is one that will stick with me for the rest of my life. The day I was blessed to become a Mother. It's such a surreal experience because you spend so long waiting for your baby, imagining what they will look like and what it will actually be like when you have one that when that moment actually arrives you're almost surprised that there is a baby. I know it sounds weird but pregnancy is almost a dreamlike state, a dream where you wake up and it's actually happened and you now have a baby.

The first couple of days were one of the most difficult. Recovering from a birth I didn't anticipate and trying to look after a newborn who, understandingly, demands every ounce of your attention. I felt emotional and a bit alone. Tom wasn't able to stay with us because as I'd had an emergency c-section I didn't have a room waiting for me, they were short of beds and I was sharing with another Mother. I was alone and trying to figure out Motherhood whilst battling low blood pressure, a high temperature due to massive blood loss following major surgery and a baby that needed feeding every 30 or 40 mins. By day six I was desperate to go home, back to where I was comfortable and back to my Husband who I knew would be there to take care of us.

The first couple of weeks passed in a blur of nappy changes, cluster feeding and broken sleep but we both felt great and flying high on the buzz of new parents. I felt completely in control and on top of things and I felt like I could handle anything no matter how little sleep I had.

I think it's true what they say they "wake up" when week 4 arrives because all of a sudden little Miss E decided she wasn't keen on being in the big bad world. Definitely, for me, the first 3 months were the hardest with the lack of sleep, the constant cluster feeding and still trying to get to know and understand my baby. It was tough.

When week 10 arrived though, so did the CUTEST little baby smiles. Those very first smiles were such an amazing feeling. Up until that point, when it felt like 99% of the time all she did was cry (probably not true but in the midst of sleep deprivation that's what it felt like) to finally get some communication was so worth all the tough times. No matter how crappy a day you may have been having, a single smile has the power to make you forget everything!

It's was a bit of a shock to me just how difficult having a baby could be. I don't think anyone can tell you what it's going to be like and what to expect. You tend to speculate on how difficult, or not, it will be, but when that moment actually arrives it can be a bit different from what you anticipated - I know that's what it was like for me. 

It was an overwhelming feeling of love, awe, apprehension, guilt and extreme exhaustion. Nothing can prepare you for those emotions. There were times where I was at my wits end and had no idea what she wanted from me, there were also times where I thought, she hated me because nothing I could do would stop her crying, there were times when I'd end up crying along with her because I was so tired and overwhelmed.

What's that old saying? You can't get a rainbow without a little rain. This is so true. With every hard time, there was an amazing, heart melting time that followed - making you forget it all. It does get easier though, then it gets a bit harder, then easier and then harder again. I've learnt Motherhood is a complete rollercoaster ride, full of ups, downs, highs and lows. In all honesty though? I love it. I love being a Mum and I find it so fulfilling. 

Every week that passes, her personality reveals itself a little more. She's such a firecracker. She's sparky, fiery and headstrong. She knows what she wants and she goes for it. I can see this not only throwing a few challenges for us as she enters toddlerhood but I can also see it as being such a desirable trait for the future when she enters adulthood - the sky's the limit. She may be fiery but she's also a bit of an observer, it's not uncommon for her to be sitting quietly, watching, assessing the world and the people around her - you can see her learning and absorbing every little detail.

She's such a happy baby, most of the time, and it's not uncommon to find a big grin plastered on her face. She's quirky and a bit of a clown, she loves people and she loves being centre of attention. She's becoming more cuddly, and will occasionally give me a cuddle, whereas she never used to be affectionate.

I feel so blessed to have such a healthy, happy, little girl that so obviously loves life. Becoming a Mother has to be my greatest achievement - she is my greatest achievement. I can't wait to see what the future holds for us and for her - to see what she will become and achieve, each day is something new and each day I am thankful we were blessed with a daughter like her.

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