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by Emma Ritchie

Emma's Post Partum Musings

I hope this is the realest post you’ll read tonight and can take something from. For me, I just need to get it out of my head.

It’s my 4th day since bringing my boy into this world; labouring from Thursday, birth on Friday and home on Saturday. In that time, I’ve slept approx 4 hours uncomfortably. This post could be coming from a place of killer exhaustion, the wear off of painkillers, the ebs and flows of extreme emotion or just from the uncertainty of being a new mum.
Tonight I should be listening to my husbands advice and letting him deal with babies cries whilst I rest. As he says, I’ve been through trauma. But instead I’ve woken myself up in sweats. He’s held me tightly in the bathroom as I’ve cried the saddest tears I’ve felt in a long time.
What I wasn’t told before being discharged by midwives was how much pain I’d still carry. My naive little mind had come to the conclusion that all the aches and pregnancy pains from these past months would just fade and all I’d need to face was the pain from my episiotomy. ABSOLUTELY NOT THE CASE.

My body is currently vibrating from what feels like having participated in hell’s triathlon. 

My hips feel stretched, my ribs are burning and my back feels floppy from tiredness and as everything moves back into place. My inner thighs are sore from overcompensating the usual muscles that would lift me in and out of bed or chairs. To top it off, I’ve given myself a migraine from crying so much.

Quite honestly, paracetamol will not cut the mustard but I’m stubborn with pain relief at the best of times, and very conscious that other methods can mess up my breastfeeding or affect baby.

Oh, and breastfeeding. It’s the most wonderful experience when it’s working. But I don’t think it’s made clear just how difficult it can be. Unlike the doctors surgery posters or on TV, baby doesn’t naturally just latch suck and feed. He needs teaching too! As a FTM, how can I teach him what I’m learning myself. I’m trying so hard and was discharged on the basis that we could successfully feed on our own. This was all well and good in the hospital but after a few hours home, and in a brand new environment, baby isn’t latching. He’s unfamiliar and tired and crying from hunger, not that he doesn’t want to feed, he probably notices my stress too. We’ve gone with formula tonight as my husband recognises how shattered and sore my boobs are and he wants to step in himself. 

I’m so grateful. Nonetheless, I think of all the ladies from the ward with me who were also struggling with this. Midwives did their best to support and despite being room-mates, we all kept ourselves to ourselves and respected each others privacy. But we were all in the same boat when it came to the breastfeeding frustrations. I had no idea how common this was.

Next, my episiotomy is nothing like any pain I’ve felt. I’m fragile and scared to sit, lie back, even just to pass wind or pee. I’ve come to terms with the natural blood loss as my uterus shrinks back and the blood loss from stretching and pulling. But everything feels so tight and sensitive. I’m so paranoid I hurt myself just by relieving myself. I worry yet its only been a few days whereas healing can take 6 weeks. It’s just upsetting as being so intimate, the pain feels even deeper and out of my control

My friends have warned me that for 2 weeks, we’ll run entirely off adrenaline. And as this subsides, the real tiredness hits, baby blues could loom. I’ve always been a very good sleeper but pregnancy kicked my arse from midnight toilet trips to stubbornly over-doing myself. I’m sure so far baby could be considered a miracle sleeper and I should be taking advantage, but still I lie awake just in awe of him. Or taking time to catch up on the world, or eating, or just being awake by myself with my thoughts. I’m not sure how to turn off for more than a few hours. No doubt it will get to the point I’ll need to or just drop. But, I’ve no idea how my current energy is being sustained and I’m sure as this begins to lack, I’ll have more sad tears to cry.

My husband truly is a saint. He will recognise when I feel bad and he’ll do all he can. But above everything I’ve mentioned already, I’m having a hard time with guilt. I’m a proud person and as much as I can ask for help, I hate being given it. I don’t want to put all of this on him and I want to be fit for this little bubba to take on the world. But I’ve realised I need hubs so much. Single lonely new parents have my maximum respect on how they might survive the first few days of babies life because I couldn’t imagine not having some sort of prop through all of this transition. 

Hubs lies here next to me, on the listen out whilst I’m meant to be sleeping, and all I want to do is cling on to him and never let go. I’m going to let him sleep whilst I write and gather myself. He needs it just as much as I do!

Lastly, from what’s been buzzing in my head tonight, is my body. After birth we deflate and our little persons home becomes a marked, stretched, squishy cushion that just lies in front. I love feeling ‘lighter’ again with freedom to move around my own body. But I dont recognise it. I’m grey with dark eyes and my face shape feels wrong. My legs are weak and my stomach and boobs feel drooped. I know things have changed forever and it’ll take time and some work to get myself back to feeling normal. For now though, I feel like I’m looking at myself wearing another person’s body in the mirror.

So here I am almost 4 days in. I’m struggling yes, but I’m recognising.

I’m trying to tell myself that I’m not pathetic and all these pains and fears are just part of the process of finding my “new normal”. Things will get easier as I heal but harder as I navigate all the other new routines and stresses of parenthood.

I just needed to put everything out there because we’re not discussing the crazy feelings straight after birth yet, just the joy it brings.

And before I wrap up, don’t let me take away from all those joyous feelings of a new baby. Whilst I’ve been writing, I’ve lifted my wee guy for a cuddle and already feel a million times better. He’s too perfect, he’s my absolute shining beautiful light at the end of what’s been a 9 year fertility struggle tunnel. He’s sitting here cooing in my arms, despite being a complete clone of his daddy, I can’t wait for the rest of this parenting journey so I can learn more from him. He’ll teach me the most anyone ever has.

From me, good night and lots of love. Hope I could have helped xx

Written by Emma Ritchie.

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