I wasn’t ready. I’d had a pretty cruisy pregnancy up until 36 weeks when I was admitted to hospital with pre-eclampsia and two days later, my beautiful healthy daughter Matilda arrived. It was so surreal. I hadn’t packed my bags, I had not long finished work and I was holding a newborn in my arms. She was perfect. My husband overjoyed. I was caught up in the moment, with wonderful midwives and nurses surrounding me, helping me with trying to feed and taking her to the night nursery so I could sleep. Family and friends came to visit. Hospital was great. I loved it. I even discharged myself a day early because I was feeling so rested and eager to get home.
The car journey home was also surreal. Taking this baby out of the hospital, so small, so dependent on me. She was mine (ours). After a tough couple of years visiting various specialists both here in Melbourne and interstate, trying to conceive, she was here.
I guess many women can relate. Sometimes pregnancy can be exhausting and challenging but having had the fertility issues prior just compounded my journey of emotions. Yes, I was so thrilled to have a baby but I was also filled with constant worry, emotional exhaustion, and anxiety. I put a lot of pressure on myself that because I’d fallen pregnant through IVF I should be really grateful and have so much love for this new baby. Except, that’s not how I felt. I cried most days for the first six months. Everyone told me it was my hormones adjusting and sleep deprivation but I knew it was more than that. Matilda had reflux, was not putting on weight, visits to several doctors and the Royal Children’s Hospital to try and work out what was wrong… All of the time, my thoughts were flooded with, “what was I doing wrong??” I felt I couldn’t do anything right.
My mum gave me some sound advice when she realised I wasn’t coping very early on in the piece: “You’ve fed her, changed her and she’s sleeping. She’s content.” Sounds simple, but when you are highly emotional and anxious every thought runs through your mind about how to be a good mum. I took the advice on board but only when Matilda started to find her routine, start eating and putting on weight did I really appreciate those words. Babies don’t need much when they are newborn; I felt I had to give everything to her from day one although I didn’t know what “everything” was. This much needed advice I have carried with me with the birth of my son Charlie. This isn’t to say my experience with Charlie was perfect; I still had the occasional anxious thought try and creep in but I consciously reminded myself that I was doing a good job, giving him everything he needed at the time.
I also learnt that I didn’t need to go on this journey on my own. I had my husband and he was (and is) incredible support to me and the best dad but I also accepted offers for help; a meal, a load of washing, a couple of hours off for some “me time” to go for a walk, sleep (!) and go to the shops.
Matilda is now three and Charlie 18 months and I love their little personalities and who they are growing up to be. At times I have been challenged (which I’m sure we all have been at some point or another!), and sometimes I need to be more patient but with the support of family, friends and children experts, I love being a mum and wouldn’t have it any other way.