Nothing and nobody could prepare me for how strong my emotions would be after I gave birth. I had of course read about the baby blues and how everything could be more intense but reading it and experiencing it are two very different things.
With Baby B’s cleft palate diagnosis I felt that I shut down for a few days and in turn shut everyone else out. There was only one person who I could actually feel anything for – Baby B. And the only word I can find to describe the way I felt was “primal”.
They say there is nothing like a mother’s love for her child, and I’m inclined to agree. I felt so protective over her in those first few weeks, I struggled with having anyone else hold her for too long or having them do things for her. Even with my husband I felt like I needed to take her back after a while. And it was a need, that is the only way to describe it. It was like, if I didn’t get her back in my arms I would begin to get anxious. I had to have her in the same room as me at all times so I felt comfortable.
For some, this would be symptoms of post natal anxiety, and maybe to a degree it was something I suffered with, but I was never diagnosed or treated for it. Looking back at the way I felt I have to admit that the health professionals I dealt with were very unhelpful. I had our cleft nurse giving me feeding advice which actually led to low weight gain for Baby B, and then my health visitor trying to imply in every other sentence that I was depressed because she visited on a day that was very bad for us. It wasn’t great and just added to any negative feelings I did experience.
Another thing I felt very strongly was anger. And not just annoyance but an all consuming rage which resembled a forest fire inside of me. My husband found it difficult to begin with balancing life as a parent to being himself and took some time to adjust. In turn I would find myself getting very snappy very quickly which was very unfair on him. He had had little experience of babies and children in his life and while I was guiding him I wasn’t really cutting him any slack. In fairness to him he really put up with quite a lot from me until I snapped out of it. I did the same from him as well but that is for another post.
The other person who could really trigger this rage was my mother in law. I will openly admit that I’m not her biggest fan and this definitely colours my view of the things she says to me. While she means well most of time she also is very selfish emotionally and started to view Baby B as her very own happy pill, complaining when we didn’t visit often enough for her liking. She would try to walk away with the baby and constantly hang over my shoulder if I was holding her which, considering the previously mentioned anxiety I felt, really got my back up. There was also the pushiness. I understand an excited grandparent. I don’t understand (and don’t think I ever will) why anyone would try to get pushy about me leaving my one week old baby with them overnight so that we could go out and have a date night. I still feel a rush of anxiousness in me whenever I do hand Baby B over to this woman (she’s the only one this happens with) and know that I will never be comfortable with leaving them alone. There are some other reasons but again, that’s a story for a whole other post.
Baby blues? I’m not sure that I ever actually felt these to be honest. I wasn’t sad or upset about anything and I didn’t burst into tears at anything and everything all the time in those first few weeks. There were a couple of exceptions of course, I believe a well made cup of coffee from my husband sent me over the edge when I was exhausted.