Pregnancy, Birth and Postpartum - Part Three
Here it is. The last installment, the end of the trilogy.
This one has been the biggest and also the toughest to write.
Why has this one been the hardest to write? Well, because this is the one that I am living. I'm not always looking back and remembering what happened - able to laugh and sometimes shed a tear at what was, and then write it up - this one I've had to (try) and remove any emotion from it so I can get it onto 'paper' for you all to read.
This has been about the daily struggle.
This one is about the mind demons that come to me more frequently than I would like them too.
This one makes me more vulnerable and susceptible to hurt, so please be kind - I only write this so it may help others who might be doing this alone or silently.
So where was I? Ah yes, I left you last time with a bit of a 'cliff hanger' so let's go back to that first.
I'm not sure how long I had blacked out for, but the next thing for me was being awoken by a rather burly male nurse with a heavy Scottish accent. He had me in a bear hug, his arms wrapped under my arms and coming to my waist, my arms extended over my head - hospital gown not covering ANY of the important parts - and he was dragging my limp body back up the bed so that I was no longer hanging over the side. With one swift pull he had me back up on the bed - although the drag of my body sent pains though my pubic area and thighs and I felt myself almost black out again.
I tried to keep it together but I could feel the tears filling up my eyes. I blinked them away, knowing that Jeremy would be freaking out and I didn't want to alarm him any more than I knew he was. The nurses were at the back of the room quietly talking with one another.
After a while they came back up to the bed to talk to me and Jeremy.
"Amanda, we're going to get a physiotherapist in who specialises in pregnancy injuries - we don't know the severity of your stretch but they will be able to tell once they do an examination and some tests - is that ok?"
"Yea, of course. Whatever needs to be done, I'm fine to do anything."
They left the room and I noticed that the big burly nurse was peering at Alfie "he's no small chap!" He said in his wonderful Scottish accent. Jeremy laughed "Yea, I don't know how she did it" he gave my shoulders a comforting squeeze. Alfie started to whimper and the nurse picked him up with - I kid you not - one handed and re wrapped him nice and tight using his other free hand. This man was huge! He showed Jeremy what he had done, and I can only describe to you that he had made him look like a burrito. All you could see was his little face sticking out at the top - it was bloody adorable. "There ya go laddy, nice and tight" It seemed to have worked, Alfie had stopped fussing and was back asleep.
Another nurse came in to do another diabetes check on Alfie, a small pinprick in the heel and a blood sample. Jeremy went over to take a look at what was going on. I heard them muttering to each other and Jeremy asking "is that bad?" I tried sitting up a bit to hear better but a sharp pain through my body immediately stopped me from doing any moving at all.
The nurse said something else to Jeremy and then wheeled him away. He came over to me and explained what had happened.
"His test just came back too low, so she is taking him to NICU - just as a precaution. She did also notice that the battery was flat so it may be that, but she would rather him be there just in case."
I wasn't worried. I was that exhausted that in my head I thought that NICU would probably be the best place for him at this point, especially because we didn't know what was going on with me and I was so tired.
It took a while for the physio to arrive, but once she had I had to run through the birthing and the nurses filled her in on all the technical stuff.
"OK Amanda I am going to take a look at you." I breathed in deeply, crap I am going to have to walk again.
"I'm going to have to press around the area and get you to do a few leg movements in the bed."
"Do I need to get up again?"
"Oh, no. I don't want you to move until we know the full extent of the injury." Phew!
The tests were a series of pokes and prods, I also had to move my legs one at a time. Bending my knees and then sliding my foot up to my bum. I couldn't do it. I couldn't lay my legs flat and raise them off the bed, I couldn't move either of my legs out to the side. If I tried it would send a shooting pain from my pubic area up to my collar bones and down to feet. It was excruciating. After the hour assessment the physio finally gave us the diagnosis.
"Basically, Amanda, you have what we call Diastasis Symphysis Pubis or DSP (it is also known as symphyseal separation). This is when the tendon that holds your pubic bone in place becomes stretched or torn. Pre childbirth your body releases a hormone called relaxin to help soften this tendon, which helps your pubic bones stretch to accommodate pushing your baby out. In your case, this tendon as been stretched beyond its means. It also sounds like you had a very quick labour, your water broke and you delivered him in 40 minutes. This combined with the size of baby, the position that you were in and the speed at which you delivered you have what I think is a complete separation."
Jeremy and I glanced at each other wide eyed and then back at the Physio.
"So it's stretched too much?"
She smiled at me, "Do you remember gak?" she giggled a bit, maybe thinking that this was going to sound a bit obscure.
"Yea, I remember that stuff"
"Well excuse my likening your tendon to gak, but basically with gak if you slowly stretch it out you will find that it will stretch quite nicely and evenly. Unlike gak your tendon has the ability to spring back into shape quite soon afterwards. Now if you are to take the gak, grab it on either side and pull fast it wi-"
I finished her sentence for her "it will snap"
The penny dropped. That would explain why I was in so much pain. She ran through the next steps and told me that I would be supported with all my physio for as long as I needed. It was all a bit of a blur, as exhaustion was hitting a new level and now having the news with what was wrong with me I could feel myself crashing again. The nurses cleared the room and told me that I was able to stay in here until they were ready to assist me out to my ward. Alfie was still in NICU, so I sent Jeremy home to shower and rest. Jeremy went home and the nurses cleared the room. I was alone, but it didn't take me long to fall asleep.
I woke up a few hours later, as Natalie had come back in to tell me that I was going to the maternity ward.
"Ok, we are going to move you now - we have a bed and a room ready for you. But before we can do any of that, we need you to go to the toilet. Now this sounds easy enough, but if for any reason you are not able to give us a little wee, we will have to put a catheter in."
Got it. Need to pee, I am NOT having a catheter inserted. Nope. Natalie gave me some panadol and said she would come back in 20, so that it would kick in a little bit. Panadol, sure.
Big burly came back in and he helped me sit up in the bed, it wasn't painless but it was a lot quicker so I didn't have to endure the stabbing for a long period. They then all helped me twist to the right side of the bed, and gently lowered my legs over the edge. I wasn't feeling as woozy now, the sleep had helped. They had brought in a special toilet chair, as there was no way I was going to be able to walk over to the bathroom that was five metres to my left. Natalie helped me onto, well it basically was a potty on top of a walking frame seat, and then they all kinda just stood there waiting for me to pee. Pregnancy and childbirth is so glamourous. It didn't take them long to realise that maybe I needed some privacy. They left, and I let out a small sigh of relief. I could feel I had to go, but I couldn't quite figure out how to do it. It was the most bizarre feeling, to forget how to pee. I closed my eyes and tried to remember. After a few attempts I finally managed - woop woop no catheter for me! Natalie came in a few moments later and asked if I was successful - she checked anyway. Bloody hell, I felt like I was in preschool again!
She then looked at me properly "you're still in the gown from last night aren't you?" I looked down at myself, I was covered in all sorts of birthing delights. She then saw the bed. "Oh. Lets get you a new bed, new gowns and I'll give you a bit of a sponge bath OK sweetie?"
I stayed sitting on the 'toilet' while they wheeled in a new bed, Natalie helped get me covered - but didn't put a new gown on me as she was going to give me a sponge bath and I needed to be uncovered for that. I felt a bit emotional at this point. Alfie wasn't with me, Jeremy was most probably showered and in our comfy bed at this point and I was dirty and greasy from childbirth. I felt a bit helpless and alone despite the nurses in the room with me. Big burly came back in and picked me up and placed me on the new bed. There were these plastic type sheets on there to stop the water from the sponges wetting my new sheets. It as so weird being bathed by someone else, and although she was very thorough and took her time, no one does it better than yourself or even yet a shower. She gave my some baby wipes and I wiped my face, neck and chest down, it made me feel a little more human but I still felt icky. Around midday I finally got moved to my room with all my belongings and was able to text Jez to let him know. He texted back saying he was already on his way.
It was then I noticed that I didn't actually miss Alfie. I stopped myself from letting this get to me, as I had gone into this being fully prepared knowing that I may not get "the feeling". It's the feeling that most new mums talk about. That overwhelming love, the "oh my heart just fell out of my chest" moment when I saw him. Don't get me wrong, seeing him for the first time was amazing - but it was more like a recognition of knowing who he was. I recognised his face. He very much looked like myself, and siblings when we were all born - so it was more the "oh you're one of us" than anything else. I also knew that he would be in the best care in NICU, and the way my body shot in pain every time I moved I knew that even if I had to pick him up or get to him, I couldn't.
Jeremy walked in and it was so good to see him! I ran through all the stuff that happened and we laughed about my having to pee in front of everyone. I also told him my most recent thoughts.
"Of course babe" he said with a soft smile, "you've only just met him, with some mums it takes time to fall in love with their baby. You will get to know him over time and fall deeply in love with him."
That made me feel better, I did know all of that but it still felt reassuring to hear that it wasn't necessarily a bad thing.
We then decided to go and visit him in NICU, I hadn't actually had a proper chance to breastfeed him, as he only had a little suckle moments after being born, and was keen to see how we would both go. We asked for a wheelchair and it took me a while to get into the seat. Once settled and the pain had subsided, Jez wheeled me in. Alfie was in a bassinet towards the back of the unit. There were so many small, teeny little babies in there - some you could hardly see over all the tubing and wires helping them to stay alive. We got Alfie and he looked even bigger than I remembered. I felt a little guilty having him in there next all the tiny little things - some fighting for their lives.
Jez handed him over and he snuffled into my chest, I was able to slip my gown off easily and started to feed him. He was a lazy suckler. He would barely open his little mouth (much like his mouth in the picture above with Jez) and I would have to squeeze my nipple in and try and pry it open a bit more. He would feed and then latch off. We repeated this a few times and then he fell back to sleep. A nurse saw us struggling and said that as long as he wasn't crying for food he would be alright to not feed for a while, being a larger baby he had enough 'stores' so he should be ok. We asked how much longer he would have to be in there, and she explained that he need 3 tests in a row to be at a good level and then he would be released. He was due for his last in about an hour.
We sat in the room chatting and Alfie was brought in not long after. It hurt too much to move so I left him in his bassinet, only getting him out to feed but with Jez around he was able to get him in and out of the crib for me. Before long it was time for Jez to go home. I started to tear up because I knew that if Alfie needed me I would have to get him myself. I reluctantly said goodbye, and drew in a deep breath. The night wasn't too bad. We both slept for extended periods of time and I had figured out a way to move that minimised the pain so I could get him in and out. I was amazed at how even though it hurt like hell to move, I was able to do it in a way that made his transitions from crib to my bed as smooth as possible. I looked at his little face and knew he would never know how much he was cared for despite such physical pain and restrictions on my part.
The next morning Jez came in at 8am sharp. Visiting hours were back open! I had managed to get a decent enough sleep, and had been promised strong pain killers so I could attempt to have a shower! I was so looking forward to that, and getting into some decent clothes! Once the pain killers kicked, and I had gotten everything I needed ready - Jez put it all in the shower room for me - we lowered the bed and positioned my walking frame close to it. Jeremy had to hold my ankles together, and on the count of three we had to simultaneously lift them up and swivel, with me using my arms to life my butt into the air off the bed and turning as well. It was quite the task!
Using the walking the frame to balance, and wearing the support belt that the physio gave me to help hold my hips together, Jeremy stood behind me with his hands on my hips - in line with my pubic bone injury - and every time I took a step he would clamp my hips together as tight as he could. This would help to minimise the grating noise that I could hear and feel internally, and would also help to soften the pain that came with each step. We walked like this, clamp - step, clamp - step, all the way to the bathroom and then positioned a plastic chair under the shower head. I sat down once Jez had left, took off my gowns and finally turned on the water. Best feeling EVER!
I took my sweet ass time in there, as I did not know if I would be able to have another shower soon and there was a fair possibility that I would be in here for five days. I was to be have a physio test on the third day to see if I could go home or not.
After dressing and slowly getting back into bed, I told Jez that I was up for visitors. It was so nice to have the distractions of everyone coming in to see me and Alfie. Time flew by quickly and it was soon time for Jeremy to leave again. That night with Alfie was actually not the greatest. I think now that he probably was getting really hungry at this stage, and feeding for us had still been very "lazy" - on his part not mine, I was a a very willing participant!! At 3am I awoke to him screaming. It jolted me and I without thinking sat up and spun my body to get to him. Big mistake. I instantly had my breath taken away with the intense pain, but quickly sucked it up and grabbed Alfie to try and calm him down. It was too late, he had reached the point of no return and would not stop screaming - I frantically pressed the help button. Why do they always take so long when you need them the most!?! A nurse finally sauntered in "what's the matter?"
"He won't stop screaming, I can't get him to latch. I don't know what to do" the last part of the sentence came out with a sob.
She smiled at me "it's ok, we'll figure this out. Show me what you do. First let's calm him down" She picked him up and quickly calmed him down with soft jiggles and soothing "shh, shhh, shhh's." Once he was calmer, she handed him to me. I showed her how I had been doing it, and again; small little mouth, barely opening, latch on, latch off..... GAH!
The nurse then showed me a different way of holding him. She turned him around so that the top of his was facing in towards my chest and his little body was tucked under my arm facing backwards. Worked a treat! He was able to latch on easily and was soon snuffling and gurgling away. Happy tears fell down my face and I didn't even care. We fed like this for some time, and then I switched him over to the other side. We both fell asleep and morning seemed to come not long after.
It was day three of my stay in hospital, and I was to have my physio test to see if I could go home. The factors that would inhibit my doing so, were me not passing a few different tests. I had to show that I could get in and out of bed by myself, walk unaided (no walking frame) a small distance, walk a long distance with the frame and then climb five steps up and down using only a handrail as an aid. I was completely terrified at the thought of doing any of those things, but wanted to go home more so I was going to do my best. The nurse gave me strong painkillers 45 minutes before my test, this was a big relief!
It came time for the test and I was nervous! I braced myself for the pain that was about to wrack through my body, took a deep breath and commenced the physical test. I had to use my hands a lot to manually move my feet and legs, grabbing both my ankles in my hands I pushed them to the left side of the bed and let gravity pull them down making sure that I kept my ankles firmly together to prevent any 'pulling' in my groin/pubic area. It hurt. I kept a straight face and gritted my teeth, I was not wanting to stay here for another couple of days! After what felt like forever I managed to get myself into standing position. Funnily enough standing did not hurt at all, as long as both feet were planted firmly on the ground and I kept relatively still - I could stand for ages. It was the stepping that killed it. With out using the walking frame I took a step "grgrgrgrgrgrgrgrgrgrgrggghhhhhhhh" the internal grinding or "shearing" noise was unbearably loud within me. I started to sweat a little and could feel the heat rising up from my chest into my neck and face. I managed to slowly step towards the walking frame - finally able to grab it and lean against it for relief. I was wearing the support belt, so I knew that was helping - but nothing was as good as Jeremy manually pressing my hips together to keep me intact as I walked. We then had to leave my room and walk up and down the hall way. This took sometime, step - together, step - together, rest a bit, step - together. I was very much using the walking frame like crutches, bearing most of the weight on my arms so that I was more swinging my foot forward instead of lifting it up to step. We finally came to a small set of stairs outside the maternity ward. I had to walk down the steps, turn at the bottom and then walk up. Using the hand rail I edged towards the first step, again I swung my foot forward and let gravity take me down the first step. I hadn't really given much thought to what it would feel like having my body at such an angle and at different levels! The pain took my breath away again, and I could feel my self getting giddy. The physio asked me if I was ok, and I nodded quickly hoping that she wouldn't see the tears starting to well in my eyes. I managed to make my way down to the bottom step and then had to turn myself around. With my feet together I was able to pivot (PIVOT!) with minimal grating noise, and start the journey back up the five steps. Going back up was the hardest. I couldn't swing my foot forward and let gravity assist me down, this was me actually having to think about what different muscles I could use to lift my knee and leg up to take a step. I found that bracing my core and contracting my thigh muscles helped to get me moving. I am surprised the physio could not hear the grating coming from my pubic bone, the noise was quite deafening to me! A few minutes later I was back at the top, I was sweaty and red, but I had done it. The physio had a wheel chair waiting for me and said that I was able to go home. SUCCESS!
After a quick run through of all the restrictions which were, no lifting anything heavier than baby - though once she saw his weight she suggested getting help to lift him as much as possible. No driving, or excessive walking for up to 8 weeks - nothing that would cause my pelvis to 'grate', it needed to be intact as much as possible in order for my tendon to knit itself back together. I was allowed to climb stairs, but one step at time and I had to ensure that I kept my gait as close together as possible. I was to undergo physio therapy at the 8 week mark and was told that under no circumstance should I attempt any sort of exercise unless instructed by the physio. There was no way in hell I was going to exercise, not when simply adjusting my weight in bed was enough to make me faint.
A few hours later we were discharged, but not before I was given another dose of strong painkillers and a prescription for a few more. Jez packed Alfie up in his little capsule, we clicked it into the pram (honestly best invention ever) and we were slowly off down the hall.
We got home and I positioned myself in the reclining chair so I could alternate between sitting and lying down with one easy swoop of the chair adjustment. I attempted to feed Alfie a few times using the new method of holding him, but we just weren't getting it right. He was doing the latch on, latch off thing again - would always fall asleep during the feeds and was starting to get very fussy. I was also starting to get frustrated.
We called it a day and all went to bed. As it was school holidays (Alfie was born on NYE) we had A with us, Jez's ex usually works through the holidays and Jeremy had time off with work to help with me and Alfie. At around 5am we both awoke to a scream coming from A's bedroom, Jez bolted up and ran to his room. He was in severe pain and was vomiting - we didn't know what to do so we decided to all get up and sit together down stairs watching tv - it was also cooler downstairs as the summer heat was trapped upstairs. Jez took A down and got him settled on the lounge, then came back up to get Alfie who was still asleep in his Moses basket. I was slowly getting up out of bed and making my way down in my own time.
We sat together watching TV while A breathed heavily and squirmed holding his stomach. After an hour Jez gave his ex a call, A was asking to go home and be with his mum. She picked up and I could hear Jez telling her what was going on as he took the call form the hallway. He came back after they hung up and looked at me sadly and shook his head. I knew what that meant. She wasn't able to have him while he was sick. I looked over at A and my heart broke for him, maternal instinct had kicked in strong within me! I teared up and mouthed to Jez "but he wants his mummy" he shrugged his shoulders. What could he do?
I was due to have my first visitation from the clinic later that morning, so Jez took A back upstairs so he could rest. She came in and asked the normal questions, she asked about my DSP and who was my support. I replied that it was Jeremy but that he was upstairs with my stepson who had been vomiting. Her eyes immediately widened "he's vomiting? Why is he around the newborn? Does he need to be here with you at this time?"
Crap. I hadn't even thought of that! "Oh well, his mum is unable to have him at the moment... "
I felt really awkward and guilty that I hadn't put the health and well being of my baby into thought.
"You do realise how dangerous it is for a newborn to be exposed to gastro?" she gave me a look that made me feel like I was the worst mother ever.
"Oh yes, well he only vomited twice and he doesn't seem to have diarrhea... " I trailed off. There was no point defending myself, she had already judged my parenting choices. Great, four days in and I've already screwed up. I looked over at Alfie, what if he catches what A has??
I then felt mad, why I am having to deal with this judgement by myself? Jez was upstairs, and he was supposed to be down here with me - being MY support. I brushed a tear away and the nurse seemed to soften, "keep an eye on him, check his temperature and any signs of vomiting or gastro go straight back to the hospital." I nodded, afraid that talking would make me choke up. She weighed and measured Alfie "wow, he is a big boy!" and then was off.
Jeremy came down later as A had fallen back to sleep, I relayed what the nurse had said and he nodded. I felt bad for him, and knew that he must be feeling torn between myself needing him and A needing him too. I did my best to not stew over what had happened, and tried my hardest to not harbour negative thoughts towards his ex. It was hard. I selfishly wanted Jeremy all to myself. He had taken this much time off work as parental leave for me and Alfie, but now he was upstairs most of the time tending to A. I hated feeling the way I did, but with all the hormones flying around my body it was hard to control.
Later that night Alfie and I were struggling to feed again, he must have been picking up on my frustrations as well as he was getting very unsettled. It was nearing 10pm and Jeremy had just gone back upstairs to A as he had been writhing in pain again. My mum came down to see me struggling with Alfie and I burst into tears "I need formula! I can't do this!!"
"No sweetie, you just have to persist. You two will get it, it just takes time."
I didn't want to hear it, I was in pain, I was hot, I felt abandoned by Jeremy, Alfie was starting to scream and I just couldn't get him to latch! I yelled at mum "I NEED FORMULA!"
She grabbed her keys and wallet and rushed out the door. She came back about 20 minutes later with formula and a few bottles, she quickly sterilised them and we gave Alfie 50ml. He gulped it up, and then fell straight to sleep. I started sobbing. I wasn't feeding him enough.
I had failed.
A part of me was relieved that he finally had a full tummy, the other part was horrified that he was probably starving this whole time but I had taken too long to get him milk. Mum tried to comfort me, but I didn't want her. I wanted Jeremy. "Do you want me to go get him?"
"Only if he can come downstairs, don't make him feel bad to leave A because I am just crying"
He came down a few minutes later and consoled me, assuring me that resorting to formula wasn't a bad thing. I knew that in theory, but feeling that was another thing. It gets pumped into you so much at the hospital and all the antenatal classes. Breast is best. Great, I couldn't give him the best. According to them I was giving him the worst; formula. Women are designed to feed their babies and I couldn't even do that. Jeremy managed to make me feel a little better about the situation, but I still felt like I had failed Alfie. He was only four days old.
Jeremy helped get me up and Alfie upstairs and I decided to have a shower. We had put a stool in the shower so that I could sit at different intervals and not tire myself out too much. I got into the shower, used the stool to lower myself onto the floor and sobbed. I was in there for a while, until I felt like I couldn't cry anymore. I got myself back up of the ground and carefully got myself out of the shower, very slowly to minimise any chance of me slipping on the tiles. I eased myself into bed, being very cautious and deliberate of my moves so as not to twist or disrupt my pelvis. I could only lie on my back, as on my side put too much pressure on my hips. I lay there for a while and waited for sleep to come.
A got better after a few days, turns out he had kidney stones and the vomiting was from the intense pain. Jeremy had to go back to work not long after so it was just me, Alfie, A and my brother who was on Uni holidays, and my sister who was working casually during the day. Every morning when Jez left for work he would take Alfie down stairs in the moses basket and set him up next to the lounge. I would go to the bathroom, slowly make my way down and go and sit on the lounge next to Alfie. Jeremy always left a glass, a bottle of water and a few snacks for me on the coffee table. It was frustrating that I couldn't get up and do things on my own free will. Always having to wait for someone to be in the kitchen to ask for something. Sometimes the wait would be too long and I would hobble in myself - but get into trouble when I got caught, as quickly making it back to the lounge was not a thing I could achieve.
After a few weeks, Alfie was putting on weight at a rapid rate and the guilt of formula feeding along with breastfeeding didn't bother me as much. My pain and mobility was starting to improve, and I was able to get up and do more things by myself. At the eight week mark I had to call the physio centre to organise an appointment. I was informed that they were completely booked up and wouldn't be able to see me for four another weeks. I started to get emotional as I had been stuck inside the house for two months, and was starting to get 'cabin fever'. I asked if they could find out if I was able to walk or drive. I was told I could walk and drive, but not in a manual car. I had a manual car, but it was ok! Jeremy would work from home on the days I would need to go to physio so I could take his car. Small problem solved. The other days, I would just not be able to drive my car.
I still had not been given clearance for lifting things, so that ruled out taking Alfie out in the pram. His pram was designed for his baby capsule to lock into the top. It really is a great design, but when you aren't allowed to lift anything heavy, it can become problematic. It also came with a car attachment, where you lock the capsule into it with one press of the button, again something easily done when you have full mobility and strength. Crawling onto the back seat to latch him and the capsule in, made me feel queasy.
So most days were spent at home. Just the two of us.
Now, I was very mindful of postnatal depression. I had been diagnosed with depression during my pregnancy, went on medication for it and with my Dr's and nurses guidance came off it towards the end of my pregnancy. I knew that not getting the "mum feeling" the moment I gave birth was ok, I knew that formula feeding was nothing to be ashamed of, I knew that I had not failed him because I couldn't solely breastfeed. I was living at my mums house, for very low rent. Jeremy had a steady income, and was able to work from home quite regularly. I had nothing to be depressed about, so I shouldn't be. Right?
Unfortunately that's not how depression works. You can "know" all of the things, but it's a feeling that you don't have much control over. I was also very hard on myself. I should be able to go for walks, I should be able to catch up with other mums at the cafe, I should be able to lift him into the car, I should be able to start losing the baby weight and exercise.
Alfie had moved into his own bed down the hall, and was waking a lot during the night, he was a comfort feeder. The sleep I was having was not very good, as I would wake up at any little noise and any wrong movement in my sleep would jolt me with a sharp pain in my groin. I would often cry silently next to Jez, jealous of his deep slumber.
A few weeks later and physio had started for me, and my exercises had begun. Kegels, kegels and more kegels. I had to strengthen my inner muscles and core. I had to do slow mini lunges, and just walk up and down stairs slowly, to strengthen my thighs and muscles around the knees. I had to see the physio monthly, and make an appointment straight away if I was ever to injure myself or the pain started to get worse.
It was coming to June, and I was doing ok. Outings only really happened if I had someone with me, to lift Alfie in and out of the pram/car capsule. I was fooling myself into thinking I didn't have anxiety about taking him out by myself as I had been given clearance to drive my manual car - but it made me feel uneasy every time I had to change gears. I would play scenarios in my head of me twisting the wrong way, or falling down and not being able to help myself out of the situation - or injuring myself so much that I would undo all the hard work I had been putting in. So, if I could opt out of leaving the house, I would.
One Friday afternoon Jez called me to ask if I could pick up A for him, as he had to stay late for a meeting (he worked in Chatswood). I was hesitant, as I hated having to get Alfie in and out of the car and preferred not to drive my manual as much as possible. My mum then came home early from work, she had to do a few errands and didn't want to do it after work at night. I told her what I was about to go and do, and she then offered to look after Alfie so I could go by myself. She would go to the shops once I got back. Awesome. I got in the car and drove to pick up A. I was heading down Hoxton Park road, and was very aware of a P-plater ducking and weaving through the traffic behind me - trying to gain paces. I slowed down in case I had to brake suddenly. I was approaching a T intersection, and went through the green light. It was then I came face to face with the side of a trailer of a small truck. I hit my brakes hard and saw the truck leave my line of vision, I relaxed and thought "Oh I made it" but the left hand side of my car went under the trailer and I crashed abruptly. It took me a while to realise what had happened.
"No, that didn't happen.. what the hell. F*@! I crashed. What? Huh? Sh!t." I tried to open my car door, it was jammed. I used my shoulder and forced it open. Pieces of my car where all over the road.
A man approached me as I got out and took a better look at my car. The whole front left side was dented in and upwards. It was the other driver's fault. He admitted to it and took full responsibility for the accident. He was trying to (illegally) enter his factory driveway by turning into it - there is a 'no right hand turn' from the opposite lane where he had come from - and didn't see my little black car until too late and tried to quickly duck in front of me. I was a sobbing mess on the side of the road by this point. Someone had called an ambulance (my car looked THAT bad) and I saw a tow truck driver smack a big yellow "totaled" sticker on the side window. I called Jeremy to let him know I couldn't pick A up. I then called mum to tell her I was stuck on Hoxton Park road with no car. Nick had just come home, so she left Alfie with him and came to pick m up. I was still shaking when she got to me. We exchanged all the details, and the driver later called me that night to see if I was ok. I was. Just a bit shaken up, and sad that I had lost my first little car.
I organised for the next week to go in and have a check up of my pelvis area, just in case. I was fine. I think because I relaxed just as I hit, I avoided any pain or injury which often can often happen in car accidents. I received a full insurance payout for my car, which came in the nick of time because Jeremy, Alfie and I were set to move out of my mums place and into our current home. The granny flat behind Jez's parents house. It had come time to move as our little family was starting to feel cramped with three other adults and Alfie getting more mobile and demanding.
Using the money from the car, we were able to replace all the furniture that we had sold when we left our house in Busby back in October 2014. That was a lot of fun. We were able to buy everything new, and start fresh. We also bought paint and decorative pieces to really make the flat feel like it was our own. It's still a work in progress, but one day I will get around to doing a before and after of the flat.
Fast forward to the end of the year. We had been living in our flat for a few months. I was home a lot, as I didn't have a car but I was able to walk Alfie over to the main house and spend a little time with his grandma, who likes to be called Cristina, and his Auntie Shari - Jez's sister.
In November I was discharged from physio, they were impressed with how quickly I had 'knitted' back together and said to keep up the good work with my exercises. Still no clearance to do classes at gyms, but I could go walking, cycling and swimming and then attempt the gym by the end of the following year.
To the outsiders point of view, everything would have looked cheery and pleasant. We were living in our own place, I had been discharged from physio, work for me had been good and my business was slowly growing. But I was miserable. I had recently stopped breastfeeding Alfie, as his constant waking's in the night to comfort feed were taking a major toll on my emotions. I was crying at least once a day, feeling defeated and that I had failed yet again. I had always wanted to feed him till he was 18 months old. I don't know why, but I had it in my head that that was the right age to stop. Now he hadn't even turned one yet and I couldn't do it anymore. I felt selfish and guilty. He would wake and clutch for my breast after he finished his bottle. Crying and wailing my name "ohh mumma, ohh mumma mumma" I would sit in the rocking chair quietly crying, feeling like I was the worst because I was denying my baby something that made him feel comforted. Hot tears would run down my cheeks as I would kiss his little face and whisper "I'm sorry. I am so, so sorry" until he had cried himself back to sleep and I would crawl back into bed where I would then cry myself to sleep.
Jeremy and I had been fighting a lot. I was irrational. I was also jealous of him. Lucky bastard got to escape everyday. I was stuck. I had no car, and the closest train station had no pram or wheelchair access - and a big flight of stairs that I would not be able to climb holding a baby and pram at the same time. I felt myself going insane with cabin fever. Weekends for me could never come soon enough, but because of the stress of my weeks I would often get migraines and not be able to do anything anyway.
I ended up visiting my Dr and when he asked me how I was doing, I broke down into a sobbing mess. I went back on my medication and had to start seeing a psychologist.
Antidepressants take a while to take effect. So Jeremy and my fighting didn't stop once I was back on them. In fact things seemed to get worse. I was working myself up into such a state when we fought that I was starting to have thoughts of self harm and suicide because I felt I needed to be punished or that everyone would be better off without me. Sometimes I would punish myself while fighting and dig my nails into my skin until it broke. The pain releasing some of the pain and anguish that I was feeling and I was able to calm down. **
Jeremy and I had a serious discussion about what was going on and why it was that I was feeling the way I was feeling. We made the decision to get myself a car, as that would help with my cabin fever and give me a bit more independence. It did, but it's never a quick or easy fix. We spoke about my expectations and high demands I put on myself, why I feel so devastated when I can't achieve what I think needs to be done in a day, and how comparing my life to the lives of others is never a good thing to do as we never see the full picture. I had also read a few mum blogs where they would talk about how much they could achieve and the support system they had, like full day babysitting, so that they could go out and conquer the world or go to work a few days a week. Ergh, it made me feel even more useless and pathetic. I had to ban myself from reading them.
Which brings me to present day.
Most days, I am doing ok. There are some days, that I am not.
I find that I have a very short fuse, and often get very frustrated with myself and with Alfie. Having the car has made a world of difference, as I can now go and shop or take Alfie out when we need air - but there are still days that my anxiety gets the better of me and I prefer to stay at home and play games with Alfie. Running my own business has been great for me as it helps keep my mind busy, but the frustrations come when Alfie demands my attention and I cannot get a good block of time to dedicate to my tasks.
Jeremy and I still have our arguments, most couples do. I can still be very irrational when I get upset, and I still sometimes think that I should remove my self from the equation - I am able to stop these thoughts but it takes a lot of energy, and I often feel very deflated and weak afterwards. There are days that I am absolutely nailing it; the house is clean, Alfie is happy, I had a healthy lunch, dinner is home cooked, I've managed to do some of my own work and Jeremy is the sexiest man alive. There are days that I am weepy and/or angry, Alfie has thrown way too many tantrums, Jeremy and I aren't good, the dishes are three days old and we need to order takeout.
I still have big 'mum guilt' moments, I am still hard on myself and have high expectations. Most days I can take a step back, breathe and repeat "know your limits" but I don't always succeed.
I can wake up and plan to do three loads of washing, the dishes, vacuum and then blog or update my website - then Alfie will have a temperature or I get a migraine and my day just does not go to plan. It's hard, but I am getting slowly better at not breaking down and feeling like failure.
I am understanding more and more that I need to talk to it out, but it is not always easy to do. When people ask "how are you doing?" I often don't want to bother them with my issues and problems, thinking that divulging any of it will ruin their day. No one wants to feel like they are a burden to other people.
There is no happy or sad ending to this part of the 'trilogy' because it is ongoing. So if you see me and ask how I am doing, I will tell you either the truth or a lie. Sometimes I can fool you, other days I won't. I am a pretty upfront person, but there are days that I don't want to let anyone know because it is all a bit raw, I may tell you another time if and when I am in the mood.
But keep asking. Keep asking any mum. Ask new mums, ask mums that have been doing this for years. Ask soon to be mums. Ask your own mum! We do a lot for our families, sometimes we need help or reminding to do things for ourselves. We may not always let you in or at all, but being asked always means a lot.
I'm going to leave it at that. This one has taken me almost six months to write and I am glad to see the end of it. Being a mum is hard, but it is also the best. I have fallen in love with my son. I do so more everyday as we learn about each other and I get to know more about his personality. When Alfie wakes in the morning and is still half asleep, I pull him into bed with me for an extra 30 minutes of snooze. He always wraps his arms around my neck, opens his eyes just enough to see my face and plants a big smooch on my lips and smiles.
That is the best, and what gets me up in the morning.
Talk soon AJ xo
** please note for those that see me regularly, we have a kitten that leaves scratches on my arms and hands. These are NOT self inflicted. The ones I did were always done on areas that are usually unseen eg. thighs, back and stomach.