We had been in our magical love bubble (aka the hospital room) for 6 days and it was time we went home. We were so excited to take Arabella home, however, like most new parents, we were also very nervous. Everything seemed so safe in the hospital and we still didn’t really feel like we knew what to do. I was struggling to feed and that was making me anxious and for the first time Geelong all of a sudden felt very far away. Far away from my midwife who I had relied so heavily upon during my pregnancy and birth, far away from my OB and far away from the little family that I do actually have in Melbourne.
Nonetheless, we were extremely excited. We packed up our room and asked a million questions such as “What do we do if she cries in the car and wants to feed?” and “What happens if she doesn’t latch on again? Do we pull over on the freeway take her out of her car seat and feed her?”
Tom went down stairs to our car to get the car seat capsule and took 15 minutes! When he returned I asked him what took him so long. He responded, “I wanted to double check that I could put the capsule back into the car and I couldn’t so I had to YouTube the directions” We were off to a confident start. We ever-so-carefully placed Belle into the capsule, said our goodbyes and signed the documents. I felt like asking if they needed a police check as I couldn’t comprehend that we could just take her home.
I will never forget walking down the corridors. I stood a couple of meters back and watched Tom carefully carry Belle out of the hospital. It is etched in my memory. That feeling of happiness, excitement and nerves. This was really happening! I felt like our lives were just about to start again.
I sat in the back with Belle as Tom drove in the slow lane all the way home. She slept the whole way. Oscar, our wonderful dog who means the world to us, greeted us and I was expecting for this amazing response from him to Belle. However, he simply sniffed her and moved on. It was a bit of a letdown. They are now best friends I am pleased to say.
So there we were, just the four of us. Once we got her home and we had all settled in, we were actually pretty relaxed. After we had a couple of nights on our own, my mum came and stayed for a week to help with the cooking etc. as Tom was back at training. It was so amazing having her with me to help. I really appreciated and needed her support.
I soon learnt that every cliché I had heard about having a baby was true. True, I wasn’t getting a lot of sleep, but I didn’t find that the hardest part. I was almost prepared for that and I had these insane hormones and adrenaline that was keeping me going. Because I was in so much pain during my pregnancy, I became anti-social and was just miserable. All of a sudden, I felt fantastic! My Osteitis Pubis had gone. I could walk and I was excited! For some reason I wanted to show my friends that I hadn’t ‘changed’ was like, “Look! I’ve had a baby, but I’m still me” I went to a wedding ten days after giving birth, did a styling job two weeks later, went to a hens three weeks after and had a girls lunch 4 weeks after Bella… I thought, I was back!”
Until week 6 when everything caught up with me. Two rounds of mastitis later, issues with Arabella latching on and silent reflux, I was wrecked and started feeling insecure, confused and just emotionally exhausted.
I’ve started to realize (stupidly) we as women put these insane pressures and unrealistic expectations on ourselves to do everything and be everything to everyone. For example; Go back to work, don’t go back to work, breastfeed until your nipples are fried off. Don’t change who you are, change who you are. Be social because it’s good for vs don’t go out so much. The list goes on… It’s confusing. No wonder it’s common for women (myself included) to feel like they are having an identity crisis after they give birth. There are so many mixed messages and in 2017 there is SO much information and everyone has an opinion. So many opinions.
Social media doesn’t help as it gives an unrealistic version of people’s realities. All of a sudden you think you have to do more because it appears someone that you follow is doing so much. I had a friend who had given birth around the same time and she said to me, “How are you doing so much! You look like you have everything together”. I explained to her that I basically used Instagram as a diary of all the wonderful stuff I have done. I’m not posting pictures of my bleeding nipples or me sobbing in the bath because, well who needs a reason? It’s a version of my life but it is certainly not a true reflection of my everyday living. It’s the best parts. I also nearly post everyday. I told her that if she posted something every day, it would look like she is doing a lot and has her life together to! However, she is a girl that might post once a month.
I begged her to please not look at me, or anyone else for that matter, and think that it is all rainbows and happy days. It’s simply not. It’s hard navigating your way through this new life as parents but my goodness it’s amazing. So amazing! And since those initial six weeks, I realized that I have changed and that’s OK, as I have changed for the better.
Written by Emma Hawkins
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