Who Me? Selfish?
The minute they yanked me upright, pulled my tender breasts north and told me to get my baby in the ‘right’ position to chomp down on my novice nipples, I knew all bets were off. I had just experienced childbirth (CHILDBIRTH, ya’ hear??!), including a manual placenta removal and a subsequent haemorrhage, and I was so far from that Instagram photo moment that I had dreamed about. Instead, right at that moment, I felt like the invisible person in the room.
And rightfully so.
I had just become a first time mummy and my much anticipated little boys lashes had just fluttered open to his new world.
With one final push, it seems society dictates that ‘I’ had gone, and ‘mummy’ had now arrived for the long haul.
I was expecting this.
I was committed to this.
“Enjoy those sleep-ins whilst you can.”
“Make sure you go out to dinner together as a couple and make the most of this time.”
“Read a book; go to the movies; soak in a bath.”
The trailblazers had ‘told’ me all about it. They had told me to enjoy this precious time before the arrival of our baby. But seriously? At this point? I was already exhausted and hindsight is a wonderful thing. Even so, they ‘warned’ me. I was ready. I was prepared.
Or so I thought.
How can you really prepare for those long nights of cold, darkness and desperation nursing a cranky child who has turned night into day?
How can you explain that flooding feeling of sheer relief when you have finally got that baby to sleep and safely through another day?
What does it really feel like to have a baby latching on to your cracked and peeling nipples when your milk hasn’t even come in yet and your body feels like a train wreck?
How can you truly comprehend the enormous weight of responsibility that swamps you as you leave the hospital car park with a real, tiny human in the back?
You just do. You put one foot in front of the other, one day after the next. You ask for help. Lots of it. And you get there. Bit by bit, by any road possible.
But you see, my biggest struggle was (and still is) the expectation of selflessness; the automatic requirement of ALWAYS putting baby first. And please; I do believe this is how it should be. But in the spirit of honesty, this was my biggest shock and truly something that sometimes doesn’t just come easily to me. Just another of those mummy ‘secrets’ we’re not meant to talk about for fear of being judged and condemned.
It began immediately.
Childbirth; trauma…me, people…please?
I was attended to with professionalism and expertise, having just experienced my most traumatic and gruelling hours. However, the purpose of my ‘repair’ seemed to be how quickly I would be able to hold my child and ‘get on with it’. I ached to hold my son, I really did, but I was swamped in my own filth and reeling with shock.
Sorry to all you perfect mummies, but this landslide is moving fast and I just cannot stop it….
Mastitis, cracked and bleeding nipples, nausea? Keep feeding.
No sleep, or very little? Keep going.
Books, magazines, movies? Keep the memories.
Gastro, the flu or any other illness? Keep battling through.
And so it goes.
They grow up a little more.
Time starts to creep back for you.
Now the goals change.
Eating a hot, peaceful meal with your partner.
Getting a shower (not just a splash and dash); a full on shampoo/conditioner/shave/exfoliate/moisturise deal.
Going to the toilet; alone. Without the need to provide a running commentary on my bowel movements and paper scrunching technique for my child’s entertainment.
A whole night’s sleep. No bed time tantrums or night wanderers. No “I need water”, or “I’m still hungry” or “I see monsters!”
I know as my kids get even bigger, this will continue in many shapes and sizes. And I will do it; all of it…I will do all the clichés with a swollen heart – I would cut off my right arm, give them the jumper off my own back and even give my children the last Rolo (as long as I’d had one or two…).
I would die for them.
Because I love them beyond what my writing can convey.
Because I am their mother.
But it doesn’t mean ‘I’ just disappeared.
‘I’ still struggle with losing ‘my’ time and ‘my’ space and ‘my’ old life.
I have had to reinvent myself. My husband and I make sure that we allow time for each other as a couple and individually, which is a challenge in itself sometimes. But we make sure it happens; otherwise you might find me climbing the walls.
And, so on that note, it is now time to go slide that Snickers bar silently out of the fridge and creep with Ninja stealth to the washing line to eat it…without sharing…not a scrap…
Who Me? Selfish?