Becoming Mother

So here we are, My little Lucy about to turn two! What better time to share her arrival?

I had a great pregnancy and enjoyed marveling at what was going on inside my body, I never really got sick of being pregnant and was really not in a rush for it to end, cos with that baby inside I could still do almost whatever I wanted to whenever I wanted to…no nappies, no crying, and I could still go to the movies with ease. Of course I was sure the process was documented thanks to a tripod, my husband, my sister and my friends Renee and Trudy

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Lucy’s birth story is nothing out of the ordinary as far as births go, it was all fairly textbook but that doesn’t make it insignificant by any means, If you don’t want to read (it’ll be PG rated don’t worry) feel free to skip on down to the part where I freak out…but here is my account of that long, monumental day that I pushed a human out of my body and became a mother…it still feels weird writing that even two years on…yes, I am a mother.

disclaimer…expect this to be a little disjointed…ill do my best
And I will warn you that this post contains quite a few images shot on a mobile, so yeah, its not all about perfect pictures…but there are some quality ones in there too.

I’m not sure of exactly why I’m writing this but I feel it is important, perhaps for my record (because I have a terrible memory) or perhaps for my Lucy to read some day, or maybe its for those who are expecting or those that are dreaming, or those that have walked this path before and will nod their heads knowingly. We don’t really have many photos of the day, we were kind of preoccupied, I had always loved the idea of having our birth photographed or filmed but we decided that we didn’t want anyone else there, just the two of us and a midwife. Vanan took a couple of shots on his phone but he really had to hold my hand and let me lean my head against him all day so not really the time for multitasking!

I wrote a lot down on my phone afterwards so I wouldn’t forget, and I added to it through the following weeks/months as I sat awake in the dark feeding my restless baby for hours on end…here is most of that writing, followed by our homecoming.

I had my usual weekly midwife appointment on Thursday the 11th, all was looking good but there were no signs of impending labour, our little buttons’ head was still down nice and low but not quite engaged, I was feeling achy, awkward and uncomfortable and although I wasn’t feeling too bad, I really had enjoyed being pregnant, the appearance of new and growing stretch marks over the past few weeks had me praying the day would come soon.
I had been getting aches and pains in my hips and back over the past few days and, although I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high, I had no intentions of going over my due date and confidently told the midwife that she will be seeing me over the weekend…she scoffed.
We arranged for Vanan to have the next day off so we could have a day to get the nursury furniture finished, go to the movies and just chill out together for a day…a last hoorah and possibly some labour inducing ‘activities’ to help things along.

Well it’s a good thing Vanan had taken the day off because I awoke at 2:30am in labour. At that stage of pregnancy I was very aware of every little ache or change going on, I had been worried I wouldn’t know I was in labour, and every ache of a different nature I had felt in those last weeks had caused me to think, is this the start? I’d read countless blogs, forums and websites to get clues on knowing when I was in labour, I had been having Braxton hicks since about 16 weeks so I was unsure how different the real deal would be like to start with but as many sites had said, don’t worry, you will know.

I remember lying in bed realizing I was in early labour and smiling with each cramp, once I had timed a few contractions I woke Vanan to let him know what was going on. I couldn’t really go back to sleep so I headed out to the lounge, I did my best to try and rest but by 4:30 they were considerably more uncomfortable and being asleep when each one started had me waking in much more discomfort than when I was just awake. I called the hospital to let them know I was in labour and to see what they wanted from me along the way, I was so annoyed when the midwife told me to “wait and see how you are going this afternoon”…this afternoon? Are you kidding me? It’s 4:30am, didn’t she realize I was planning on a 6hr labour?

By about 7am I was no longer wanting to do it alone so I headed back to our room and sat on the bed next to a sleeping Vanan while I timed each contraction on my phone. He eventually got up, we hung around had a long shower and made our way out to the lounge room again.

I’m sure I had breakfast, but I have no memory of it. We watched Red Dog but it took more than 3hrs because Vanan kept pausing it during a bunch of contractions so I could concentrate on my breathing. It was like nothing I’d felt before, my lower back was what caused me the most discomfort, I can’t even describe it.

I made plenty of reluctant trips to the bathroom but really spent the majority of the day sitting on the lounge riding it out and timing each one, they were getting closer together, 10mins, 7mins, 5mins…then every now and then we would head backwards and be back at 7, then 3, then back to 5. They were becoming more painful and I was becoming more and more tired. We weren’t really getting anywhere and with contractions becoming a little irregular it didn’t seem like I’d be seeing the end any time soon.

I found I was having a bit of bleeding and then eventually what I think may have been the show, I decided I wanted to head into the hospital, I found I was just so uncomfortable at home and figured I may as well be uncomfortable in hospital and save myself the anxiety of worrying about the 30min drive to Bowral during a later stage.

We arrived at the hospital around 4pm, it took quite a while to make it through the doors as we had to stop so many times along the short walk from the car park for contractions.

I was taken to a room to be examined, I was hooked up to a monitor to hear baby’s heartbeat and I was given a button to push each time I felt a kick or movement…my attention was mostly consumed by contractions I often forgot about the button, or was so focused on the discomfort in my body and the pain in my back that it was hard to even notice or feel the movements. I was put on my back (which I was not excited about at all!) and examined by a nurse, let me just say, I never want one of those again! We were told I was 4cm dilated…I cried for a moment.

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We were moved across to the delivery room where I climbed up on the ridiculously high bed and sat. Nurses changed shifts and we were fortunate enough to have the lovely Jean join us for the remainder of our journey, she was just perfect for us!

A few more hours passed, I was still sitting on that bed, contractions still frequent and unpleasant, Jean was concerned as I was obviously getting more tired and we just weren’t progressing, she got me up to move around and see how standing would help me along. Well help it did! Not long after I was up my waters exploded! It gave me a fright, I actually thought I had pood all over the place…I hadn’t! I was curious about what it looked like but couldn’t even be bothered to open my eyes to look, Jean was pleased though as it was clean and clear.

She told me the next stage could take about an hour, which I was surprised to hear, and a little disappointed, surely this has to be over soon!

Then came the dumpers, strong heavy contractions one on top of the other, pounding away at me, exhausting me. I got up on the bed on all fours for a while and the pushing started. It’s the strangest feeling, that push sensation, I can only compare it to the heaving sensation of explosive vomiting, like a force within you, taking over various muscles to expel something from your body. It was the strangest thing though, between each contraction I’d fall asleep for a moment and when I woke each time in a daze I could hardly work out where I was, I’d even forget what they felt like until I was right in top of the next one, I got a rude shock each time.

I was exhausted, I could feel myself fading between each contraction, I’ve never before in my life felt my mind and body just wanting to shut down and depart from each other. I pushed and felt the head finally coming down, it freaked me out for a moment and I stopped the push, I really did not want to push that out, it felt strange, and large and I knew it was the moment this whole day had been leading up to…it was a little scary…ok a LOT scary!
I mustered up the courage to continue but my exhaustion (and probably a little fear) was getting the better of me, I ignored the next urge to push, I just didn’t want to do that next bit at all. The midwife could see I was getting weaker and less effective, the next contraction came with no urge at all…it’s a powerful thing our mind. She got on the phone to the dr to let her know things had slowed down a bit, and I was told that if we couldn’t get things moving along in the next couple of contractions then I would be given syntocinon to bring on the contractions. Well let me tell you, after 18hours of ‘unassisted’ labour, there was no way I was going to let them pump something into me now, I’d come too far! With the next contraction I mustered all I had to push, and get this sucker moving along. I think I must have given Jean a bit of a shock with my determination, she quickly told me to get up on the bed again to deliver. That bed was so high, and I was exhausted, I didn’t want to be climbing up in it, “in a minute” I moaned…”No, NOW!” she urged me along and I began to attempt to clamber up on the bed, obviously I wasn’t moving fast enough because the next thing I know Jean is all but throwing me up on the bed, I guess she really wanted me up there hehe.

On my knees leaning over the back of the bed, practically flattening that dense matteress with my efforts. A few more strong pushes, I could feel that head moving further and further with each push. I remember yelling out to Vanan “why are you wearing those clothes?” Noticing he was still in his ‘good’ clothes, it was quite funny as I’d barely opened my eyes, let alone uttered much more than a word all day, but I had this brief moment of unleash and made him get changed then and there before the next one started haha…crazy mamma.

Another big push, I knew it was all up to me and the only way this was going to end was with me pushing out a baby, so I pursed my lips and pushed, I knew we were only another push or two away so I quickly whipped off my shirt and threw it to the floor and held on tight for one mega push…and there it was, the head first. Jean helped to turn the head ready for the rest to follow , I remember hearing them talking about how it was normal for the head to be blue, the lungs hasn’t started to do their thing yet. I was told I’d need to give one good last push for the body to come. Suddenly I felt all kinds of strange unhelpful movement and I yelled out to Vanan to hold the head still, he had no idea what I was on about, he hadn’t moved at all, what I felt were limbs inside flailing around, An extremely odd sensation I must say.

at 10:14pm I gave another push and out came our baby, I was so relieved it was over and so pleased Vanan was able to deliver our baby. I looked over my shoulder to this pink body lying on the bed behind me, a girl? I was so expecting to see boy bits, wow!
Vanan passed her through my legs and I held our baby girl for the first time. I couldn’t believe what had just happened, I cried a few tears and looked at her in disbelief, what in earth was going on.

Due to my low platelets I wasn’t allowed to have a physiological third stage so the other nurses went about giving me the injection to bring on my placenta delivery, she was about to jab me in the thigh when I remembered the hideous cannula in my wrist…ah, no, I will have no needles thanks, you can stick it…in my cannula. Within moments I felt a slippery warm slop drop from my body and land on my legs. I didn’t have any contractions with it, it just slipped straight out. Jean said it must have already been detached to have come out so quickly, the injection probably didn’t even have time to make any impact.
Vanan cut the thick rubbery cord and I turned around and sit. There was so much blood around, it was everywhere, I looked like I had been painted in it.

I had some skin to skin time and attempted her first feed, she was into it with a very strong suck, Vanan turned to me and said I could pick her name, but I hadn’t settled on a girls name myself yet.

The dr came in to examine me for stitches, I was millimeters away from a 3rd degree tear, I’m so thankful for those millimeters! Not so thankful for the hematoma that needed to be stitched through though. The dr warned me that because of it the stitches would be much more painful while being done, they suggested I have the gas while the needles were administered for local anesthetic. I felt those long long needles, at every point. They had to keep pumping me full of local and I kept sucking back that gas like nobody’s business, turns out its the same local used at the dentist, so yeah pretty much useless on me! Of course it was better than nothing but I was still in a decent amount of pain and discomfort through the whole thing.

Our little girl was feeding while I was getting stitched, it was so nice to have that.

After I was stitched up, she was weighed, measured, and immunised (I cried while she cried), dressed and handed back to us for more cuddles.

In a quiet birthing suit at Bowral Hospital at 10:14pm on the 12th April 2013 our 3.57kg,
52cm long daughter arrived smack bang on her due date. A beautiful baby was born, and so were two new parents.

They did my obs and found I had a high heart rate for some reason, I had also lost a fair amount of blood (around 600ml) so when I finally got up to have a wash I almost passed out. Vanan showered me while I sat on a stool in the bath trying not to pass out, im so glad I didn’t have a stranger wash me.

Once I got out they sat me on the toilet and helped me get dressed, I don’t know what happened but for a time there I either fell asleep or blacked out because I opened my eyes and had no memory of the past few moments. Vanan brought me a snickers…best snickers ever!

I climbed into bed feeling totally rotten, exhausted, faint, funny from the gas, strange post preggo body, uncomfortable post labour body, tender nipples from a baby not latching properly and well I’m sure I could go on but let’s not. I had a cup of tea and a cheese sandwich while Jean helped Vanan get out through a sneaky way to get a coke from the vending machine. Because of my high heart rate and faintness they kept me in delivery overnight to keep a close eye on me, by this time it was well after midnight and they let Vanan stay, poor guy squashed into the worst old broken down tiny lazy boy you could find…somehow I felt sorry for him, even though I’m pretty sure he had a better lot than I did at that point. I was urged to get some rest while they took our upset little one to look after…I was too delirious to argue.

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I don’t remember falling asleep it happened so quickly. I was woken by Jean doing my obs, it had only been an hr but that small amount of sleep had managed to change everything, It was magic, so powerful, I felt sooo much better. It turned out our poor dear had been unsettled the whole time so she was brought back in for another feed, she must have managed to get a little bit this time because that was it for the night.

Loud nurses, changeover, cleaners and breakfast delivery (all so loud right outside our open door) caused us both to wake, they brought our sweet baby girl back in and we made the journey down to the ward, I walked awkwardly in my gorgeous hospital gown, glamorous post labour bed hair and sweet little unnamed daughter all the way down to our room.

We kept discussing the name situation but couldn’t settle on one from the two we liked most.

Mum and dad visited, Vanan went home during lunch to shower and also picked up a gorgeous striped pink onsie from seed. I’d hoped to get a sleep between visits but by the time I’d eaten lunch and fed and changed her, Esther and Clem had arrived. Then it was another feed, dinner and almost time for Vanan to leave for the night. It was always sad when he left, I was a little daunted with being left to care for this child.
Before leaving though we settled on the name Lucy Lillian Periasamy (Lillian was my Nans name) and shared the news with all our friends and family.  Facebook and SMS messages were going and going, it was lovely.

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We limited visitors to family, Im glad we did, even with that I didn’t get any chance to sleep for most of my stay in hospital. Im sure we took more photos of our visitors…but I have no idea where they got to.

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Before Lucy, I had thought nothing of visiting friends in hospital after they had given birth, Id wander in (invited of course) and cuddle their babies, and sit and chat and then leave. But after being in the place myself I felt horrible for ever visiting in those first hours/days because chatting to me while their baby slept in my arms meant they weren’t having a nap, and who knows if they would have even got more than an hours sleep those following nights? not to mention them attempt the seemingly impossible task of feeding their babies. I even appologised to a few of them, haha, they laughed at me for being ridiculous because they wanted visitors and were happy we had…all these trooper women who put actual clothes on (I was in hospital gowns for a few days!) who wore a bra, who got up and tidied their things, who brushed their hair…some even put on makeup so they looked nice in photos…whaaaaaaaat?
Don’t get me wrong, we LOVED having the visitors, and I’m glad we limited it, but gosh it would have been kind of good if Id been able to get some sleep and feed my baby.

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We finally dressed her in something other than those horrible gowns, something sweet to go home in.

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We were in hospital for 5 days, and perhaps I was suffering a mild case of PND but I was afraid to leave while at the same time wanting to not be there with all the confusing contradictory information we were given. Vanan was keen to get us home and settled and where we could start working through everything together without a new stranger adding their 2 cents worth every couple of hours. I still feel a bit anxious remembering those days and the fear of … well, so much. I eventually agreed that home was the best place for us all to move forward although I saw no light at the end of the tunnel, just hopeless, clueless, crippling fear.

I remember sitting in the backseat with her, because I couldn’t bare the idea of not being able to see her but I cried the whole way home, I was afraid. When we got home I remember sitting on the lounge, she was asleep inside the cane bassinet sitting on the ottoman in front of me, I watched her through the weave, she scared me even while she slept because I knew that at any moment (almost exactly on the 3hr mark in the first couple of days) she would wake, she would cry, she would claw ferociously looking for her mother to feed her and she would latch poorly, suck fiercely and we would both be upset. I sat staring, willing the time not to pass, it always went to fast. I likened her to a caged Lion, so majestic, so beautiful, so overwhelmingly amazing to be so close to. I wanted to watch her breathing, peacefully sleeping but, like a lion, I liked the safety of the cage that was between us. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate my baby, nor did I not want her in my arms, I loved her more dearly than I could understand. In hospital, when I finally got to having a proper shower, I remember feeling strange being on my own, in that cubicle, and thinking about her, sobbing quietly and deeply under the soft water, I was her mother, her mother, and my heart ached for her.

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It has been 2 years, so I think my brain has deliberately blocked out a lot of those first 6-8months. But when I try, I can vaguely remember, and I do want to remember. I cried a lot, I really did not sleep much at all, I ate too much chocolate, I felt anger, frustration, joy, delight. I watched her grow (well she didn’t seem to do much growing for a long while there as we battled with serious feeding issues for extended lengths of time…but that’s a whole other story).

We were totally obsessed with her, we couldn’t stop staring at her. I cherish every minute she slept in my arms (there were millions of minutes) and every feed, every grunt, every weird sneeze. Every night, in spite of being awake and cold and exhausted, I held her close, I stroked her face, I kissed her cheeks, and her nose and her ears, and her fingers, neck and head. I’d sit and stare at her in wonder for a few more minutes, risking that holding her too long would mean she would surface from that deep sleep and she would be awake again. I cherish the times she slept in our bed, or the many nights we spent on the lounge till the sun came up, or the months I spent sleeping on the floor in her room. The countless times she’s sat on my face, used me as a human trampoline. I will never forget the way she looks up at me, clinging on to my clothes, climbing up my legs, desperate to be in my arms. I love that she has spent so much of her life in my arms, and I love that she isn’t heavy! haha. I love that she calls for me and that she loves to cuddle and Kiss me. I love holding her tiny hands as we walk, I love that she reclines on me like the comfiest of chairs. That she seems to gets embarrassed when I look at her while she’s singing but she keeps singing anyway and asks me to join in. I love that she now sleeps through the night. That in spite of our constant battle she was breastfed till 15 months. I miss our snuggly feeds and I wish we still had them.

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I’m so thankful for every meal that was brought over, my Mum, my Mother in law, my sisters, for every encouraging text message, for every prayer, every hug and all the times my poor friends and family watched me randomly burst into tears and comforted me. I haven’t been witness to others being in the same mess as me, and I partly think that’s because most people keep it to themselves, while I’m a massive over-sharer…but I wish more people were open about their struggles, that more people would be vulnerable and perhaps help other poor unsuspecting dopes like me have a clue into how difficult it can be. I had a few conversations with other women in that time who told me it had been just as hard for them, and I had no idea, I was sad they had they sat alone in their rooms and cried over the same struggles. I guess, I wished the picture painted for me hadn’t been given a filter. I’m a pretty upfront person, and I decided to make sure I didn’t keep my experience to myself, I told my younger friends what my experience was like, not to scare them and not to set fear or horrible expectations, I just wanted them to know what it was like for me, and that maybe it would be amazingly simple and breezy for them but that if it wasn’t? well then they know that I am here and that I want to be there for whatever they might need. I wanted to pay forward all the kindness and compassion shown to me.

These photos make me laugh, because my non-sleeper is asleep in most of them…she just never stayed there very long, and when she was awake there were few opportunities to take photos, what with feeds taking over an hour and all the crying and you just don’t think about taking photos when you feel like you are being tortured, you know?

Anyway, I’m a photographer, not a writer, so here are some more photos.

Here are a few from her newborn session, taken by Sami Gale from Love Letters Photography.

And a bunch that we took in those first few weeks…I assure you there will be more to come as I slowly make my way through the thousands of photos I have taken of this adventure so far.

 

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