Wednesday, 22 May 2013

How One Became Two

I thought I'd posted something similar to this already. I can't find it, if I did. I've just realise the benefit of useful, informative post titles though. I wrote this tonight as a response to a friend's worries about increasing her family. Names have been changed, but nothing else has been.

As you may/may not remember my start with Pix was very similar to how I think yours was with YourBaby. It was a stressful, traumatic labour which I didn't physically recover from the aftermath of for over a month. More like 6 weeks. I was in a LOT of pain from various different things which admittedly weren't all as a result of giving birth. Emotionally I was a bit of a wreck too - I'd have flashbacks and panic attacks about the labour. 
By the time I was physically healed a lot of emotional damage had been done because (and I do admit I'm not very good at being altruistic, not the best trait in a parent) it was 6 weeks of, frankly, wishing Pix wasn't around so I could feel better and not hurt. All the mess surrounding feeding him added to the - I wouldn't say bonding issues, but the feeling as though the love for him was something that had to grow rather than something that was innate and natural and there from the beginning, you know?
By the time Pix was about 9 months I started feeling calm about being a parent. Well, not calm, but calmer! I enjoyed it. I endured the first 9 months, I think. There were good bits, don't get me wrong, but I felt like I was coming out of a shell shocked daze. I put it down to him being mobile then, but who knows? He wasn't a high needs baby but he needed more than I realised (well duh, he was a baby). I definitely didn't want more babies. I genuinely didn't think I'd be able to get through the trauma of it all again, that it would definitely break me. I remember telling people that I wasn't one of 'those' parents who said never, ever again only to go on to having 3 more kids.
Inevitably - and I just checked, it was when Pix was 1 year, 8 months and 2 days old - the seed of doubt sprouted and I started to consider that there may be more babies in our future. I don't know what triggered it, really. Hormones, biological clock, seeing how awe-sam No1 had become? Who knows, But when that little voice started there wasn't really much I could do, you know? There were a hundred reasons why No2 was a Really Bad Idea but an 8lb idea was bigger than those. We talked about ways we could have a baby but not go through all that again, talked about adoption, talked about going straight to an elective section, not breaking my back the week before...
I spoke to my GP about a referral to the [hospital] birth trauma centre which was (at the time) about to open. I started preparing by coming off medication which needed to be out of my system for 6 months and very vaguely thought about how I wouldn't be in the same position during labour/post labour again. This is a massive TMI but I started getting panic attacks again when it came to the, um, conception bit of having another baby because I knew it wasn't recreational but procreational (OMG, I didn't even know that was a real word) but I went with the very mature response of absolutely, definitely not thinking about it at all thankyouverymuch. Then I put my head in the sand for 6 months until I got the BFP.
I spent the next, ooh, 10 months shitting myself. Literally, sometimes. Oh God, that was a joke. I spent a very, very long time feeling sick from anxiety about what I'd got myself in to. Before the month was out I'd written a list called 'Things To Shit Myself About' to raise at my booking in appointment, who referred me to [Head of Midwifery] to have the debriefing session you had. There was a lot more sand/head interfacing; there was a LOT of wailing at people who had BTDT. Knowing that people had come out of similar situations and stayed relatively normal was a help. But, you know, mostly the head/sand.
I know you've not asked for more and I'm sorry if I'm stepping over the line now, but having Pops healed me. I was prepared for the worst to happen but I took control of what I thought might go wrong - booking [my doula], having a home birth, refusing to go to [hospital] in an emergency, refusing anything but an epi, making sure the people who were going to be there knew what state I was likely to be in. Knowing I was likely to be unable to speak but that people who had been primed to intervene gave me the reassurance that I'd be able to let go and let myself do what I needed to do. I think you're probably there, in some ways. You know the birth that you want, you know how it'll happen and you have more support prepared to help you get it. If YourHusband is anything like MyHusband then he knew last time but was so busy crapping himself about it all that he didn't feel as though he could intervene as much as I felt necessary. Also because it was such a brand new experience that he didn't know for sure that I even wanted him to intervene. You know that what happens in labour is unpredictable and no matter how much you plan and prepare your body might do something different but that works both ways. What happened last time may not happen this time. And actually, both of my labours were very similar physiologically - both went back to back during labour, contractions never got established etc. Yet because of my environment they were handled in massively different ways! Also, from getting to know [Supervisor of Midwives] and the MSLC I truly believe that [hospital] has turned around in the care they give. They're very much about supporting women and there wasn't that vibe 4 years ago, and I'm positive if you ended up in hospital and [SoM] was there she'd get involved to help you.
As for your concerns post-labour, well, again, you can't predict what will happen. Pops was a dream baby. Was it a more AP approach I took that did it, or was that just her? I don't know, but the entire thing couldn't have been more different. You might have an easy baby, you might have a challenging baby but you WILL cope. You're strong, and capable, you have support, you know what to expect. I love having 2. They're fascinating together, they're funny, they're massively different in personality. I'm SO glad I didn't let my fear hold me back, and it so, so could have. The fear nearly broke me but Pops healed me 

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