First-time mum, in training. Blogging about this motherhood malarkey from a refreshingly honest perspective.

Post Natal Recovery, Sleep Deprivation and Anxiety


I'm a little late to the blog game. As I'm writing about the first few weeks of motherhood and my post-natal recovery, Arthur has just turned 4 months old - is fluent in baby babble, smiling, and constantly making us laugh out loud. 

The first few days of being a mum I remember in fragments. I admit, a lot of it is a total blur. A euphoric, surreal, shock-to-the-system blur. I was still whizzing with adrenaline from the birth, in disbelief and in a lot of pain.  

After labour, I was officially discharged from the hospital FOUR HOURS later. Having an uncomplicated birth, I hadn't expected to be kept in too long but had hoped a bed for the night where I could get some sleep and recoup for taking home my baby. 
I can say that I was definitely NOT ready to be sent home. I was sore, tired and emotional.  
Once they had sewn me up and I'd had some tea and toast, I was told to get up and go shower (as if it were simple for me to just hop out of bed, good as new, and get on with my day *eye roll*) 
I just wanted to sleeeeeepNevertheless, I dragged myself up and forced myself to go shower - i.e. I winced and groaned at each slight movement and waddled to the bathroom). I never realized before just how much you use your abdomen muscles to do simple every day activities. 
In all honestly, I was really shocked at the whole process of post-natal recovery. It is hard.  
(FYI: Some of the contents of this may be gross but nothing about post birth recovery is glamorous. HaHA) 

With still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I had just had a baby! I had never thought about (oddly) what this would do to me physically, as well as emotionally. Sure, I knew I'd bleed, be sore, and be doing kegels like they were going out of fashion. I'd be overjoyed, filled with love and sleep deprived for the next 18 years but I didn't anticipate the strain my body would endure.  
I fully expected to 'bounce back' - quite literally. I would give birth and my stomach would instantly shrink from basketball to pancake and I would slip right back into my old ripped jeans no problemo. Yes, I was a little naive (A LOT!)   
Instead, my stomach would deflate and sag, like an empty kangaroo pouch. There really isn't a way to describe how it looks but it is not attractive. I felt sick every time I walked because it felt as if it would 'sway' from side to side as if my stomach was over flowing jug of water. Getting out of bed, lifting, walking - all these simple things, a tiring ordeal. 

Also, TMI ALERT - you bleed like crazy... and it stinks! Especially right after, I may as well have spent the majority of the first few hours locked in the bathroom. With having to get stitches, using the bathroom was a daunting thought - so much so I'd rather have held a wee in than feeling the 30 seconds of agonizing burning! 
So, with all these physical changes happening as my body recovered, I was also dealing with the emotional aspect of things whilst adjusting to life with a newborn and the dream of a decent night's sleep out the window. 

I still remember the first night we came home; elated, overwhelmed and not a clue what to do next. This little baby was so small and fragile, I was petrified to touch him in case he might break. After lots of cuddling and gaping in complete awe and admiration at our precious miracle, I finally set him in his Moses basket to sleep... and stayed up the entire night for further 'baby watching'. 

They call the first three months after birth, the fourth trimester and those first few months are TOUGH! 
It's impossible to establish any form of routine with a newborn and the first few weeks are just a pattern of feeding, nappy changing, cuddles and a lot of crying (and that's not just from the baby).  
Having a baby is one of the biggest life altering changes I have went through and I found the first few weeks really difficult.  
Yes, I was ecstatic that after what felt eternity, my boy was here and I could start this new chapter in my life. I feel I took to motherhood naturally, my maternal instincts automatically kicked in. I felt like I had known him all along. I couldn't stop staring at him; he was a tiny red head of pure bliss. 

Under all the love, delight and frenzy, I was crippled with an uneasy anxiety. As much as I wanted to enjoy and soak up all this precious time, I was too overcome with a sense of dread to fully be appreciative of these fleeting moments. I had the never-ending fear that baby would die. I had to be by his side 24/7. I didn't want anyone near him or holding him. I was utterly convinced that he would stop breathing in his sleep, scared and alone and the only way I could prevent this would be to stay awake when he slept. To watch the steady rise and fall of his chest, keep him safe. I realize now I was not in the right frame of mind. My inability to rest led to me becoming more exhausted. I lost my appetite and was running on fumes. It took a toll on my mental health. I spent the first month or two with the fear I would lose my son to SIDS. Even now, I have no idea where this burst of anxiety stemmed from. I put it down to poor after care at the hospital. This of course is not entirely down to them but I do feel, as a young first-time mum that I needed support and reassurance from the professionals and it was something I just didn't get enough of. Sleep deprivation and the simple fact that having a child is a MASSIVE change and responsibility which is daunting was also a probable cause. 

Happily, I can say now that my anxiety has succumbed. As a mother, I will always worry about my child but I am able to think rationally, and just enjoy it. 
In reading this, please do not think the first month or two for me was this awful, tiring, anxiety crippling roller coaster - it was a tough adjustment but it was also wonderful and I loved every single second. 
I still wake up every single morning to those big eyes and that loving heart smiling back at me and I'm blessed, so blessed, to call him mine 

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