I’ve been looking at the Mumsnet, 18 signs you may have a precious newborn and it inspired me to talk about my own.
Ben was born at 41 weeks when I was 20 years old. My care during labour had not been the best. I wasn’t listened to when I told them that my induced labour had been prematurely successful. Eventually they placed a trace on me and found out that I was indeed in labour; that I was having very close together, very strong contractions and my bed was quickly lifted, the sides propped up, and before I knew it I was whizzing down a hallway and into theatre.
Just after he was born he was making sniffling noises. They told me they were taking him down to the SCBU as he seemed a bit yellow. At the same time they were dealing with serious issues with my own health. At some point in the evening when I was barely conscious and pumped full of medication a doctor came to ask for my permission for them to insert a chest drain. I didn’t really understand what was happening, but agreed.
The next day I discovered that my baby had aspirated a lot of meconium and that his lung had collapsed. He had almost lost his life the night before and continued to be in a critical position. They placed him on a life support machine. He seemed so tiny and fragile. A few days later they found out that he had pneumonia which had once again placed him in a very precarious situation. This was closely followed by the news that he had had a brain haemorrhage.
I first got to hold him for a few minutes when he was a week old. It was brief but so amazing. Our bond was suffering from him being so out of reach. I finally got to bring him home when he was a month old. A month later I found out I was four weeks pregnant with his brother. I hadn’t even thought that I could become pregnant so soon after birth. I was supposed to have an abortion, the doctors were concerned for my health, but a couple of days before it was supposed to take place I realised I couldn’t go through with it.
I continued to struggle with my bond with my baby and was later diagnosed as having PND. When Ben was 7 months old and I was 6 months pregnant with his brother, my husband left me for another woman, or as it later turned out, women. One of whom had been my best friend and former flat mate. This only served to pile on the pressure and delay the lifting of my PND, though no one would have known I was suffering. I did all of the right things. He was spoken to constantly and nurtured as if nothing was wrong. Though on occasions I had to lock myself in the bathroom and cry as if my whole body was about to explode.
Later in my pregnancy I was seriously ill and the situation became life threatening to the point where I had a nurse stationed in my hospital room 24/7. I wrote him many letters that I hoped would be passed to him through the years if I died. I searched for all of the words I know mothers would say. I didn’t want him to ever know the pain I experienced over our bond and my mental distance from him.
Fast forward a year and I still wasn’t feeling the way I was told I should feel. I cared for him greatly but perhaps not maternally. I continued to do all of the right things, but not feel the way I should. I would say to my mum that I thought I was a terrible mother, but as a witness to all I did with the boys she would tell me I was wonderful. I expressed the same feelings to the health visitor but she too assured me that I was doing a great job. I was so good at acting the right way, I couldn’t get anybody to see the detachment and pain that lurked beneath.
When the boys were still very small I began a relationship with a friend I had met on my university course. He was everything my ex-husband wasn’t. Whilst my ex would constantly belittle me and put me down, from the beginning of our relationship, my new partner would place me on a pedestal. When he moved into our home he became a brilliant co-parent to my two children and slowly I began to feel better about myself as a person and a mother.
When my third child was born, all of those feelings I’d been told women feel came rushing in. Not just for him, but for the other two. Ten years on and I still thank my partner, now husband, for helping me to correct the bond with my first child. He tells me that he didn’t do anything, but I know that just by being here and being supportive it gave me the opportunity to come out of flight or fight mode.
As for my precious first child, he will be eleven tomorrow. All those horrors feel like they are just bad dreams I once had. I couldn’t be more proud of him if I tried. He is such a loving, helpful, well-mannered child, but he knows how to verbally defend himself. He is a young carer to myself, and his brother who is autistic and has ADHD. He also mentors a boy at school who is on the spectrum. He does brilliantly with his schoolwork and does whatever he can to help others. My first child is incredibly precious and I am grateful for him every single day