It has been over 12 years since I gave birth to my first child and I still have vivid memories of what it was like. It is such an exciting time when you find out you are expecting. From that point, everyone seems to give you a lot of attention, but once you give birth, that changes quickly. While I’m not one who likes to be the center of attention, it was a drastic shift of focus.
I’m not upset with anyone; I’m just here to tell my story and bring awareness to the importance of checking on new moms, or any mom who has recently given birth, as we may not be ok.
Not many people talk about birth and what actually happens — I suppose it is considered taboo. I have given birth twice and I’m still not fully aware of exactly how it all went down (see what I did there). What I do know is that the birth of my first born was not the best experience. I had to be induced a week after my due date. I was in labor for a little over 30 hours, including two hours of pushing. As he was coming through the birth canal, the umbilical cord got wrapped around his neck, which wasn’t a huge problem. But, he had also had a bowel movement during labor, so he was not fully breathing when he was born and he wasn’t crying. I specifically remember the terrified look on my mom’s face. I have no idea how many seconds or minutes passed, but I saw his arms move while the nurses were working on him, so I knew he was going to be ok. It was a traumatic experience that thankfully had a good outcome. However, in the middle of all this, we had family and friends directly outside of my hospital room knocking on the door awaiting his arrival.
This was not ok and I was not ok.
I’m not sure how long it was after the actual birth, but it seemed like only a few minutes and all of the sudden my hospital room was surrounded by family and friends passing my baby around like a hot potato. I didn’t have much alone time with him. I barely got to hold him. I also didn’t have time to make myself look presentable, not that I cared all that much about how I looked, but I wanted to look halfway decent for any pictures. It just seemed that everyone stormed into the hospital room and I felt completely invisible. Nobody asked me how I was doing. Nobody checked on me. It was like I was not even in the room. Let’s also not forget what my body went through. I will not go into specific details, but it was not pleasant. I was in pain for a while. I was also attempting to nurse, which was extremely difficult for me. The day I was discharged from the hospital, I had to ask for a wheelchair because I had a difficult time walking. It was rough. I felt like I had been through hell and back just to bring my sweet little boy into the world only to be ignored and treated like it was just a simple task. But, I was not ok.
Once we got home, it wasn’t much better. Anyone who came to the house darted directly to my baby. It didn’t matter if he was sleeping, eating, taking a bath, or getting his diaper changed. Whoever came to visit wanted to see him immediately. All that seemed to matter was this tiny little baby boy. Of course, he mattered, but I still mattered too. I was doing my best to meet his needs but I also had to take care of myself and that was difficult. It just really seemed that very few people made sure that I was on the road to recovery. Adjusting to life with a new baby is not easy, even if it’s your second or third time around. Although things were much easier and different with my second child, with my first baby, I was not ok and very few people knew it.