Baby blues and mother love

Lorelei “Rori” Davidson made her way into the world by elective C Section at 10:40am Friday November 16, 2012.

A C Section was not the original plan, but scans showed that she could be anything up to 5kg and the prevailing medical wisdom was that the healthiest option for both of us was a Caesar. The decision was made at our appointment with the obstetrician at 11am on Thursday and the appointment made for the following day. I was nervous at the prospect of such major surgery and at what felt like a very sudden change from pregnant woman to mum. Nervous or not, it was all happening and Stav and I met our little one after what I’m told was a routine and complication free procedure and fell madly, instantly and deeply in love.

I’d been warned about the baby blues and was a pretty good candidate given the trauma related to having a big bubba, the C Section and me having walked some long miles with the black dog in the past. I thought it would be some tears, a little bit of anxiety about taking her home and looking after her and maybe some trouble coping with the life change. I did not expect the incredible force of it.

The first day passed in a haze of pain, painkillers, breastfeeding attempts and drowning in love. That night, Rori didn’t sleep and so neither did I. My blood pressure remained high and we were both checked constantly for blood sugars, blood pressure, pain, blood loss and god knows what else. The staff of the RBWH do an incredible job and were patient and kind as I began to unravel, but there were moments when I was just drifting off to sleep and they came in to the room to check us when I wanted to scream. I was totally reliant on them as I was immobilised and needed their help to lift Rori, put her down, feed her and answer the millions of questions I had about her health and care and my health.

Day two, the wheels fell off. At no stage did I ever doubt my love for my brand new daughter, but it was the fierceness and totality of this love that made me feel inadequate to care for her. I couldn’t breastfeed her, I didn’t understand any of her cries, I might hurt this perfect creature just by my ignorance. How do you live with that? How do you take her home where there aren’t midwives running in at the touch of the call button? I cried for hours, I sobbed, I had panic attacks where I thought my heart would stop. I thought I would die from the high blood pressure or DVT or infection or anything at all and wouldn’t get to be her mum and my heart broke at the thought of it. My husband comforted me, stroked my hair and held me and reassured me for hours at a time. He stayed in the hospital every minute he was allowed that day and the next and never left my side. The midwives kept their vigil too and each gave of her time and patience and told me that, at any given moment on the ward, 80% of the new mothers were crying too.

The only time that day that I was calm was when holding my perfect baby girl. Her skin against mine was the purest form of love I have ever known. Every sugary cliche about holding your newborn child is true. After another sleepless night, the third day brought more panic attacks, tears, paranoid questions and despair. Visitors or even the thought of having to make sense or have other people’s energy around me made me panic to the point of hyperventilating. Guests were kept to a minimum as I could only handle the presence of extra people in that tiny room and their focus on us for short amounts of time. Unthinking unexpected guests put me in a tailspin that took all my strength and a lot of deep breathing to reverse. But there was also joy. Moments  or even minutes at a time when the fog lifted and I felt truly happy in that tiny room with my little family of Stav, Rori and I.

And on the fourth day, we got to take her home. 24 hours beforehand, I had been contemplating asking to stay longer because I couldn’t fathom bringing her home. But I was so happy to hold her in my house with our things around us in the safety of the life Stav and I have made together that I wished I could go back to the me of yesterday and tell her it would be ok.

The ride isn’t over yet. I can’t have people around that are high energy or very touchy feely or want to give me advice. Ah, the advice givers. I understand that it comes from a place of love, but it just makes me doubt myself or feel that they undervalue what I’m going through or my ability to find solutions on my own terms. Logic has no place in baby blues.  I still have panic attacks, I’m scared to leave the house, my clumsy attempts at breastfeeding and her cries when I can’t get it right or can’t figure out what she wants can take me back to the anxiety and sadness of that awful second day. But those attacks are getting further apart and settle faster. Our house rules are currently “bring food, don’t give us advice, and leave when we tell you to”. I’ll return to the land of the living one day soon, but right now my priority is to stay as well and calm as I can to look after our girl.

Lorelei (Rori for short) is a calm and easy baby so far. She cries when she wants something and stops when she gets it. She loves cuddles and we both stare at her for hours watching her facial expressions change. The smell of her hair is better than the most expensive perfume ever made. She makes us laugh all the time. She’s lying in her bassinet right now making little snuffling noises and practicing being cute. She’s managed to poo all over both of us on separate occasions and she loves to dirty a fresh nappy. And its awesome.

I’m not going to be a hypocrite and give advice on getting through baby blues or on dealing with someone in your life who has them. It’ll suck. It’ll be terrifying and awful and you’ll think you’re losing your mind. But you’ll figure it out. And you’ll be ok in the end.