I left the last blog at the end of labour. So we’ll start there shall we?
I was wheeled up to the ward at 6.30am. S wasn’t allowed to come with me and went home to bed. E and I were left behind a curtain and I lay down to try and rest.
Visiting hours were 10-12 and 2.30-5.45. S said he’d be with us for the afternoon – he needed to catch up on sleep, let work know he wouldn’t be in, inform our parents and have something to eat. Having relied on him so heavily during labour I suddenly felt bereft and lonely without him. Other women on the ward had their curtains mainly closed and all looked much more at home with their babies. They’d all clearly been there for at least a day or so as they had cards on display. I had a copy of Word magazine, my phone and a very sleepy baby.
E seemed easy to look after. I spent a lot of time just staring at her as she slept. When she woke we tried feeding – I called midwives in for advice and felt like I was getting an idea of how to do it, though she didn’t feed for long or often. We had visits by medical staff who checked her over, gave her a hearing test, talked to me about my state and otherwise left us alone. And the rest of the time I sat about and felt a bit dopey, saved mainly by my smartphone.
During the days of waiting for labour to kick in, a friend of mine sent encouragement, telling me that she’d found a picture of her baby just after birth and how utterly amazing it was. I know some mothers get “the rush” of maternal affection straight away and that some don’t. I didn’t. It was all a bit bewildering. Certainly in the labour suite I was too drugged up to really know how I felt. On the ward I just retreated into myself for a while and rested, and once we got home the sense of joint responsibility kicks in and you both realise it’s now down to you two alone. So the “rush” could wait.
At the start of day 3, two friends text to tell me that today is the day my milk comes in and I may well be hormonal and weepy as a result. Spend the entire day in expectation. The milk coming in is talked about a lot by midwives; it takes on almost mythical significance and I had no idea what to expect. E took a while to feed properly as she was doped up from diamorphine for the first day so I wondered if this may have delayed things for a little while.
So to day 4. The community support midwife has popped round on my request to check my breastfeeding technique and confirms the milk has indeed come in. And my hormones finally kick in that afternoon as I find myself with a lump in my throat at the new Polo advert (the car, not the mint – you know the father-daughter one.) I am appalled. It’s an advert for heavens’ sake. Luckily I am redeemed later when listening to Tom Waits singing Old Shoes (Picture Postcards) and watching E make mischievous faces in her sleep. I am suddenly a sobbing wreck on the floor.