Post Partum Hormones

The days of having a newborn seem like a blur. The topics that spring to mind straight away when thinking of writing this is the fear of other people holding your baby, the feeling of being away from him, the non-stop nappies, the sleepless nights and the feeling of thinking, “is this really happening?”

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As a person, I’m pretty laid back. I won’t get annoyed about anything unless its seriously annoying. I let the little things go and generally try to get along with everyone. I like to think I’m a pretty reasonable person. The emotions of a new Mother are unexplainable. It became apparent that I had this uncontrollable urge to have the baby in my arms at all times. I was so glad I was able to say that he should avoid cuddles until his due date, but even so, close family, Luke's parents, even my own parents, holding the baby, I just couldn’t wait for it to end. I was so used to holding him every second of every day it just felt so unnatural for me to be watching someone else holding him. It wasn't even, for the most part, the worry of someone else ‘doing it wrong’ by not supporting his neck or disturbing his sleep or making him unhappy, it was just the thought that he wasn't coming back, or would be away from me for more than a second, I just couldn’t shake the feeling. I knew it was irrational and that my hormones were all over the place but I just wanted to shut myself out, in a room alone with the baby. It made me snappy with other people and I knew I was being a dick but I couldn’t help myself. I wanted him 100% safe in my arms. I wanted to know the baby could smell me and was safe and I could feed him in a second. I think that’s a huge part of why I love breastfeeding, that I am the source of nourishment. If the baby is hungry, he HAS to come back to me to feed, and I can even excuse myself to another room to feed. Not for privacy but for my own damn selfishness.

I discussed with a few of my Mum friends and they said the feeling was very mutual. It doesn’t matter who they are, once it’s been longer than a few minutes, you want the baby back. I became so over-protective. I didn’t want any second hand smoke around him, no one with germs, no dogs around, no one with the hint of a cough, everyone that held him would sit still and do so quietly, no walking around with the baby, nothing. Just sit, hold him, and give him back. It became all I could think about when any was holding him, “When are they going to give him back?” I bit my tongue because I knew I was being irrational but I couldn’t explain it. I knew that it was both our parents first Grandchild, that everyone was so in love with him and he was a part of their family as much as he was mine. But I just craved to have him back. I thank God I had breastfeeding as an excuse. Even if he was fussy and didn’t need feeding, I would say he might be hungry just to get the baby back. I became possessed like Gollum over the Ring.

As time went on, as expected, it became a lot easier for others to cuddle Oscar. Especially when he started to gain head control and wasn’t so floppy. I wanted to stay happy and polite but it’s difficult not to leap into action when someone doesn’t support his head properly.

I was really lucky that everyone kind of ‘got it’. Nobody asked for ‘five more minutes’, nobody whined or moaned that they had to give him back. Nobody questioned my motive that I wanted him back, and I’m so relieved it wasn’t a big issue. I don’t think anybody knew what was really going on in my head. I knew it was hormones. It was like having a split personality. I had to control my inner self and remain polite and human on the outside. I used to have to exclude myself to wind down and relax once I got home from visiting others or others had visited me, after getting so uptight and worked up about the time someone would hold the baby. It was madness. I was battling this crazy, obsessive personality inside me.

About 6 weeks after Oscar was born I was having my usual day of tidying the house, changing nappies, messaging my friends, watching TV. I remember everything was reasonably tidy, Oscar was asleep and I was just staring into space. I felt really, really down. I couldn’t for the life of me put into words why. I went to type to my friends asking for advice or comfort but I felt silly as I couldn’t say what was bothering me. I just felt like I had a cloud over me and my day. This came and went over a few days and I knew it was just a dip in my hormones. The only thing that helped was knowing that it was completely normal and it wasn’t just me. I just decided to be at peace with the cloud and let myself feel low and not force myself to feel better. 

The most bizarre feeling of all was how different I thought I would feel and life would be. I think as Oscar has always been a breeze, he has slotted really nicely in to my life. I just ate and watched TV the whole time. It was the nights we spent watching the TV with Oscar in his pram (he didn’t have a bed for a week so slept in his pram) in the lounge with us. When he was sleeping it was like nothing had changed. After 8 months of being pregnant, an emergency c section, ten days in the NICU, here we were, back where we spent every evening, in front of the TV. I expected everything to be SO different but it felt exactly the same. Everyone describes birth and motherhood as such chaos and you don’t have time to shower or brush your teeth. I was preparing myself for hell. It was a breeze. I’m not suggesting everyone should start saying babies are easy, but maybe stop saying ALL babies are difficult. The newborn days are changing nappies, feeding and sleeping. Eat, shit, sleep, repeat. It’s cosy, quiet, surreal and the days blur into night.

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I think as a new Mum I didn't expect to feel so many NEW emotions. I have never felt like I couldn't explain my sadness, I've never felt like I was possessed and over protective, I thought that I would stay the same person but instead I developed all these new traits. I think it's important to take every day as it comes and try not to force yourself to get back to normality or feeling like 'you', just run with it. Your body will sort itself out, the dust will settle. It's all new and I think as Brits, we are very self conscious of being polite 24/7. We don't want to upset other people so we excuse our behaviours and feelings. I'm so glad I spoke up and asked for Oscar back when I wanted him in my arms again as I would've driven myself mad if I had stayed quiet just to be polite.