The first night with Mateo we were about to learn very quickly how hard it really was to be first time parents. The first few weeks were really difficult, with no sleep, constant crying and diaper changing. (no surprise here right?) We had no idea what we were doing but tried our very best to care for, nurture, love and keep Mateo happy (ohh there were a lot of sleepless nights lol). Eventually we managed to get Mateo into a daily routine. (I cannot explain how important routine is). Mateo was waking up for his feed every 3 hours and my husband and I were taking turns with sleep. I don’t mean to brag but I’m so fortunate to have the husband I have, he is truly amazing! It came as no surprise that everyone was so excited to come and meet baby Mateo,but we needed some time as a family first to get used to it all. We made it quite clear that we didn’t want any other visitors besides immediate family. (Everyone is different, but this is what we chose to do).
My struggle with breast-feeding
To be honest I didn’t really think I would find breast-feeding as difficult as I did. I remember discussing breast-feeding in the maternal classes we attended and how important it was for mothers to breastfeed. Like every mother, I chose to give breastfeeding a go and do what’s best for my child. The first time I breast fed it was so painful that I almost cried. (Everyone is different with breast-feeding, for some it’s so natural and easy and for others it’s frustrating and difficult). Unfortunately I was the mother who found it frustrating and difficult. I remember a particular person (and no it wasn’t my mum) who demanded I had to breast-feed and I had no choice. This made me so upset, and at that point I honestly thought I failed at motherhood before it even began. I can’t even explain to you how much your emotions and hormones play up after giving birth. This as the professionals referred to as ‘The baby blues’.
My struggle with the baby blues
As the days went by I tired to do everything possible to be a ‘good mother’, but little did I know that in order to take care of my baby, I also had to take care of myself. I’ll be straight out and honest I was bloody exhausted, I was not sleeping, I was not eating and I was miserable. (Don’t get me wrong, I had plenty of opportunities to rest and re-charge, but just didn’t. At one point I remember staying awake for 24hours (Mateo was so good, and even started sleeping for longer periods of time). I just couldn’t sleep and I was emotional all the time, even the slightest remarks about motherhood I would assume the comment was directed at me, and I would beat myself up about it.
That 000 call
The day I was rushed to hospital was the scariest day of my life (literally, I thought I was dying). I don’t remember it much, but I remember bits and pieces. I remember waking up that morning so dizzy and so tired but I had a baby to take care of and put my focus on that. Just as I finished breast feeding Mateo (Yup! Still struggled but kept on pushing through) I put him down and almost felt like I was going to faint. I had no energy and felt my body start to shiver, I was so freaking cold (mind you the heater was on and it was so hot in the house). My husband came rushing upstairs and put a blanket around me. (I had like 5 blankets around me and I was still cold!). I had no idea what was happening, I started hallucinating and my sentences didn’t make sense. My husband checked my temperature and it had reached 42c (what the bloody F, I know!). He called the ambulance and my parents, and I was rushed to hospital immediately. I was away from Mateo for 1 night, but was so very grateful to have my mum and sister in law that took such good care of him.
So the reason I’m sharing this experience with you all (particular first time mothers) is to make you aware of how important it is to look after yourself (don’t make the same mistake as me). Nap when your baby is napping, allow others to help and take time, even 10 minutes to yourself. Don’t feel guilty because your baby will be ok. Again, this was my experience and it doesn’t mean it will happen to you (touch wood). I look back at this experience in my life and still get so emotional, but I also think how silly I was that I didn’t take better care of myself. At the end of the day we are only human, and we can only do the best we can, but sometimes we need to be reminded to take care of ourselves too.
For those of you wondering, I am happy and healthy. The doctors had said my body was significantly exhausted and that I had some sort of infection (still don’t know from what).
“Self care is not selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel”