THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ANTENATAL AND POSTNATAL MINDSET
Being a mother to be has been an enlightening process. When you hear folks tales about the pitfalls of parenthood or the snippets of complaints about pregnancy when you’re not pregnant you don’t seem to take it seriously. Almost as if in the back of your mind you’re thinking, it’ll never happen to me. I’ll thrive in pregnancy. I’ll really enjoy the new experiences that my body is going through. I’ll never complain because we tried so hard to conceive. If you are one of these people, like I was, can I assure you that the likelihood of you realizing how naive you were will change once pregnancy happens.
I began writing this particular post early in my pregnancy however I never completed it. I want to look back at my thoughts and feelings from then to now to express what has change in really what is only a few months but in baby time seems like a lifetime ago.
I’m regarded by the hospital as a fat mum, that’s not they’re term but its true, I’m an overweight mother, carrying twins in the 17th week of the pregnancy. I can’t tell you how excited I am to meet my children. After trying for nearly two years and pushed emotionally to the point where I never thought it would happen and had given up, I am eternally grateful that I have been blessed with the opportunity to have children all at once and so far in good health. However the reason I write this blog is to warn mothers to be that, I kid you not, this is probably the hardest thing I have ever experienced in my life, and despite the warnings, there is nothing that can prepare you for this experience. I hear tales of mothers who have wonderful pregnancies, that they feel rejuvenated, that they ‘enjoy’ the experience, that they take comfort in the experience, however I simply don’t believe them. I think they’re either delusional or flipping lucky. Nothing can prepare you for this experience. When you have thrown up everyday for three months, you too will understand that this is not an joyful experience but one that is tough and exhausting. Yes there are nice parts; feeling your baby kick or flutter for the first time; how not drinking and eating healthier makes you feel; the excitement of wondering what they’ll be like. But even so growing a life/lives in you is tough on the mind, body and soul.
I’m not sure if its a twin pregnancy thing, I don’t know, I’m not an experienced mother but pregnancy has been tough. I found out quite early that I was pregnant with twins, 4 weeks, which for non parents seems like a long time. In the world of pregnant women, this is nothing. What I’ll warn any mother expecting their first child or any child in fact is that until you are 12 weeks, most medical professional will dismiss you. Now I don’t want you to think I’m putting down the health professionals, I’m not at all, early in my pregnancy I had two scares where I was bleeding (again another thing that can happen that people generally don’t warn you about), and although I was seen both times and everything was fine (touch wood) its because the risk of miscarriage is much higher at this stage of pregnancy and so until you’re less risky, you sort of dismissed. The reason I think its important to say to this is because as a new mum, you’re really excited about the prospect of your new child or in my case children however when you’re scared, a little unsure of what is happening and you need that reassurance and you’re made to feel like you’re taking up people’s time. From my experience I found it difficult to swallow, even though I completely respect the NHS staff who work tirelessly to help people, I think its difficult to accept that perhaps you’re not important because its so early and I am resentful about it.
I think it was important for me to write this even though I don’t want to seem dismissive of the help I received, I am absolutely grateful for everyone who saw me, and appreciative of the free health care we have in this country, but I wrote this to help other mothers not to have that same feeling that I did, and to be aware. You are important, your baby/ babies are important, don’t allow anyone to make you feel like you aren’t because you are – I wish I could tell myself that at that time.
I think there needs to be more support for new mothers not only for post natal care but for ante natal care. There’s only so much a girl can read about on Mumsnet and Baby Centre to help alleviate anxiety. We need to do more as a country to support new mum’s, pregnancy is not an easy gig so why make it harder by not supporting the parents.
Anyway this my first blog about becoming a mum of twins, I suspect it may take a while to create other new posts. I want to reiterate that this site is just my thoughts and feelings at the time of writing and I’m also no guru.
POST PREGNANCY THOUGHTS:
Looking back its easy to see why perhaps the staff were slightly dismissive, its so early doors that their efforts are needed elsewhere, had I known certain information before I wouldn’t have been as anxious and perhaps felt the need to ask questions or address situations because I would have been reassured.
It’s clear now that the lack of care is about priorities. I say this because when I spent four days on the ward after my elective caesarean, it was clear to see how under staffed the place was and how there needs to be more funding given to help the NHS if its going to the best it can. That’s not to say I’m dismissing how I felt at times, I did feel like a ‘nag’ and ‘time waster’ especially after my first bleed and the lady checking people into the early days section was like ‘its quite normal to experience a large bleed in early pregnancy’ and basically insinuated that I didn’t need to be there making me feel like I was wasting their time, making me feel even worse than I already felt. I didn’t know because I have never experienced this before. I guess because they do this every day and have children themselves that they do know this but I didn’t and I still feel like I was undermined in that situation because I was frightened and that wasn’t ok.
For me, the experience of giving birth and afterwards was extremely good and bad.
Firstly the positive. I was lucky to have an amazing anesthetist who guided me calmly through what was a bit of an ordeal to say the least. I was so big by the end that they had to tape my stomach up and put a bandage over to lift it, which was covered in blood – not great. She was so reassuring and told me every step of the way what to do that I felt incredible during the procedure which was terrifying. I was massive by the end, my girls were 8lb 2oz and 7lb 13oz which is big for twins and hard work. I didn’t sleep for the last two months which prepared me well for when they arrived.
I was also incredibly lucky that my community midwife came to visit as she made sure the girls got all the support they needed as there were complications with their health that were being overlooked. If it wasn’t for Sian, our little Lola probably wouldn’t be moving as well as she is now.
What troubled me about the experience was how things were overlooked or weren’t planned for. Luna’s clamp was dropped during the delivery and there wasn’t a replacement which has resulted in her being aanemic She has a heart murmur that may be a result of this all because they weren’t prepared.
Both girls had jaundice which no midwives picked up on even though we were there for days and our families were telling us they were. As my husband said ‘we didn’t know babies weren’t born tanned’.
Lola was unable to move her neck and arms and whenever we raised concerns, nobody seemed concerned until Sian’s intervention, which has eventually led to a diagnosis of hypotonia.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m very left wing, believe highly in the NHS and disagree with privatization of what is an incredible service BUT it needs helps, that was very clear to see, more money needs to given to help them. Its clear to see that the cut backs are having on them and its wrong. I think that’s why I felt dismissed because they’re so overrun that there isn’t the time to guide these early day pregnant women and I think somehow there needs to be more support for them. I hope this blog will give you some idea of what is to come, it’ll be honest from my perspective, I want you know that you may feel panicked, insecure, like the only person in the world experiencing these things, but honestly most women do have the same sort of experience that pregnancy isn’t great, its hard, its tiring, its long, but you will mostly forget it because once that baby/ babies come along your entire world changes.