Posting this is very hard, I have made no secret of my struggle with PND and hinted a few times at how this started very soon after I gave birth, I have rewritten this many times, but found making light of it in the way I usually would didn’t really work, this is Joss’ birth story, it is our story and there are parts I wish I could change but in honesty is the only way I could write it.
Dear darling girl,
This is your birth story it is something I don’t want to forget, so I’m going to write it all down to share with you one day. There are some things I have included that I wasn’t sure about writing, but I have included them and maybe one day I’ll explain why.
I was one week overdue and it was the day before your Auntie’s wedding. I was relaxing at Nana’s house when I had a show. I was really excited as things were starting off but kept thinking about the wedding and hoped you could hold on a short while longer. When I came back home later Daddy was home from work, as I was preparing dinner my waters broke on the kitchen floor! We weren’t really sure what was happening as I had no pains and there wasn’t as much water as I was expecting. I do remember grabbing the nearest thing I could, a tea towel and waddling towards the bathroom thinking I’d just pee’d myself! I called the hospital and they asked us to go in for a check up. We had some dinner and called a taxi up to the maternity unit. They did a few checks at the hospital and listened to your heart rate, you were doing great and they sent us home saying that things were starting but it could be a little while. I asked the doctor whether it was going to be OK for me to go to your Auntie’s wedding, she wasn’t sure but eventually she said yes, but I had to check my temperature regularly and take it easy.
After a nervous night we got dressed and ready for the wedding and arrived at the Church, I was feeling tired, nervous and excited all at the same time. Mainly I felt bad about the wedding as people were asking if I was excited about your arrival and actually I was starting to feel pains and couldn’t say anything, I didn’t want to spoil anything for your auntie. After dinner we came home to get changed quickly, then went back to the hospital, they said things were still starting slowly, to go home and bounce on the labour ball and eat a good meal, we went home expecting to be induced the next day.
On the way home we stopped for fish and chips, as we walked home I started to feel a bit strange and the contractions and pains were getting a bit closer together. I bounced on the ball for a few hours and read a bit about what to expect about induction, then went to bed. Daddy slept through the night and I stayed in bed til about 6am but by then my contractions were strong and regular. I had a shower and then had a few things to do but I had to keep stopping because the pains were so bad! I could only get comfy on my hands and knees as the pain was all in my back. I checked the hospital bag over and over, then at half eight it was time to go. In the taxi I kept saying the pains in my back were lifting me out of the seat, when we got to the hospital I was still expecting to be induced but was in a lot of pain. It took a long time for someone to check me over, they listened to your heart rate and said they’d be back. In the half an hour they were gone I couldn’t get comfortable and squeezed your Daddy’s hand tight, I had to keep going to the bathroom and the only time I was comfortable was on the loo! We found out soon after why that was! I couldn’t concentrate on anything your Daddy was saying so I told him to shut up and I paced the room, uncomfortable and starting to feel a bit panicked! Everyone kept saying I was the lady that had been to a wedding, it was then that I realised I’d gotten so caught up in worrying about not letting anyone down that I’d not realised I was actually in labour!
The two midwives came back and they asked how I was, I said the pain was really bad, they checked me over and started laughing, Catherine said “do you feel like YOU WANT TO PUSH?” I said yes and she said well you don’t need an induction, you’re ten cms dilated! Your Daddy was amazed as I kept saying if the pain is this bad now by the time I have the induction I’ll need some pain relief, somehow I’d had so much on my mind from the wedding and no sleep that I hadn’t realised this was the real thing! It was too late to have anything other than gas and air, 2 codeine and a paracetamol. I was put flat on the bed with my legs in the stirrups and started to push, it was such hard work, because I’d worn high heels to the wedding I had terrible leg cramps and was tired from labouring through the night at home. I remember the hard work and the pain so well, but I also remember laughing lots with Daddy about me not wanting to let go of his hand, even for a second, about being fully dilated and not knowing and about the worst thing I said being “shut up Alex” and asking your Daddy if he was OK when I was the one pushing a baby out!
I remember the midwife saying she could see your head and you had hair, and saying “Joss is going to be here soon”. I pushed for two hours, desperate to meet you, after one big push there was a lot of blood, the Midwife ran to get the doctor. Daddy took care of me, getting me water to drink, and a cold flannel, he was amazingly supportive, and I didn’t shout or scream like I thought I would, it was quite calm until the doctor came in. I had an episiotomy before the ventouse was placed on your head as you had turned and weren’t quite engaged right. I really didn’t want that but more than anything wanted you to arrive safely so said the doctor had to do what he had to deliver my baby girl. At 2:36 I pushed you into the world, you were placed on my chest and I cried, you were so beautiful, I told you I loved you, that I’d been waiting to meet you and Daddy and I stroked your little hands and cheek, I remember you were so warm and smelled sweet, you looked up with your gorgeous blue eyes and gave a little cry, you were so alert and taking it all in! I thanked the doctor and midwifes for their help and apologised that it took longer than I’d wanted and they missed their lunch as they weren’t expecting me to give birth til later that day!
I checked you were definitely a girl, the placenta was delivered and the doctor cut the cord and we had a long cuddle and a short but amazing feed before I needed to be stitched. Daddy took you for a cuddle and as it was getting cold in the room you had to be dressed. He dressed you for the first time, I was so proud of you both! Everyone left for a while and Daddy and I looked at you, and at each other and we both had a good cry, it was a long delivery but it had gone over in a daze as we were expecting it to take a whole day with the induction, and yet here you were just a few hours later. We had to be checked over as I had an infection and so a paediatrician came to look at you. She said you were doing fine and we both just had to keep having our temperatures checked. We listened to some music, the Doors and Mumford and Sons, I love to hear that album now, it’s your album, but when I heard it in the weeks after it made me cry and feel very emotional.
We stayed in the delivery room until that night, I was helped to have a shower and came back to see you wrapped in a blanket waiting to go up to the ward. That first night was scary being on my own in the dark with my tiny bundle, you were a little sickly from the delivery so I held you all night long, walking around and eventually sleeping together on the bed. Daddy came to visit the next day giving you and I some lovely cuddles, four days later we came home, a relief after seeing so many other mamas and babies taking their bundles home! Your birth was much faster than I had ever expected, and I was in shock for a few days afterwards because the run up had been so busy. This next bit is important, more than how you got here, because I’m not always good with words but I have to put this down so bear with me.
Joss, I want you to know that I love you, that the first days were so so hard because I had wanted so desperately to be able to feed you myself and couldn’t, that I felt guilty about that and wished I’d tried harder, but I had a really bad time and found the adjustment to being a new mother very hard. When you’re older I’ll tell you all about it but we just didn’t get the support to get through it and once it hit me that I couldn’t go back and try again I found that very tough. From day one I felt you were so perfect I couldn’t do you justice as your mother, I remember telling your Daddy that I had read all the books (such a researcher!) but didn’t know where to begin. I want you to know if you ever have your own little ones that you don’t become the mother you want to be overnight, you get to know each other and it takes a little time, but that’s not a bad thing, it’s a journey that takes you through sleepless nights, difficult decisions and yet also takes you through first milestones, fun and laughter, follow your instincts, snuggle down and remember I’m always here for you. Your Dad was here for us both in a way that made me want to burst with pride at you both, I learned from him to relax and learned from you to lie back and just be content. You’ll always be our baby girl, all my love darling, Mammy x