I keep singing that silly song from Lazytown, even though we named our beautiful baby girl after the spunky main female character in "Short Circuit". We're going to enjoy saying "beautiful Stephanie" and "no disassemble, Stephanie" in a Number 5 voice for the rest of her life! hehe
So, as most of you know, I had horrendous Post Natal Depression after the birth of my son Alex. This was not a little bit of feeling sad. This was whack you over the head, take your personality and life away, death would be a blessing kind of a feeling. I suffered for a year with suicidal thoughts and feeling not like me. It took me until Alex was 2 or 3 to start to feel like myself again, and to feel like I had hope and a future. I read a lot about what happened to me and I realised that I had a total nervous breakdown. It's not a fun place to be.
I had pretty much resigned myself to never having any more children, and I was pleased about that. I thought about having another child with the horror that most people would reserve for having the bubonic plague. I didn't like babies much, they scared me. I preferred them once they hit about six months, and I didn't like the fact that just because I possessed a pair of ovaries, people would give their babies to me for a hold, like my femaleness made me instantly clucky. I wasn't. I frequently posted memes that said I would never have another baby. I had trouble taking hormone based contraception, it basically made me into a mad woman, and even though we weren't using anything, it had been five years, and no babies were coming. I imagined that God and I had made some sort of deal, where he just didn't want me to be pregnant. I frequently told those who enquired about Alex getting a sibling that "I think the factory is closed". I thought I was inching towards menopause.
I decided that even though I was probably infertile and menopausal (my brain spins a lot of fiction, and tends to go to extremes!), I would get off the rollercoaster that happened in my brain whenever my period was late, which it was, frequently. I'd done a couple of pregnancy tests a year when my ovaries were misbehaving and they were all negative. Booking in to have my tubes tied seemed like the best idea, so I could stop my errant brain going down that crazy path. I booked in for January to end the madness!!
However, my body had other ideas. My period was due in early December, and I was chatting to a friend of mine online when I joked that "wouldn't it be hilarious if I got pregnant, because this is the last possible moment!!"
I couldn't get the idea out of my head, and even though I was only just due, I decided to go and buy a test. Knowing that it was probably negative. I was so sure that it was negative, I didn't even tell Richard, who had long since tired of my obsessive brain.....once I got the idea of a pregnancy in my head, it was stuck on a loop until my period arrived or the pregnancy test was negative. Every time I went to the bathroom, I thought about it. It didn't worry me any more, cause I'd come to accept that I am just one of those people who thinks too much and it's much easier to accept yourself than to wish you were something else. I'd love to be one of those people who can put things out of their mind for ten days while they get on with life. It just doesn't work that way in my neural pathways. So be it.
So, I glanced at the test indicator strip. Yep, negative. No....hang on.....two lines were forming. Holy crap. I rang Richard and told him in a high pitched voice that I was pregnant. He was out fixing headers and I am very grateful that he didn't drop a piece of machinery on his head. We're talking 5 x 365 days of coming to terms with the fact that even without using contraception, we didn't seem to be getting pregnant. And now, at the last moment, this!
I struggled with the news early on. I'd just come to terms with leaving a job that I loved and committing to being a full time mother, as after school care didn't seem to suit Alex. I laughed when I saw the test results, and said "nice one, God!". I did a lot of work through the pregnancy and worked through my fears of losing myself and my identity when I had this baby and I must admit that I wished her away on more than one occasion. Through no fault of my own, however, she grew healthily and even though I struggled with crippling morning sickness and back pain, each one of her scans was excellent and she was a very active baby in utero.
I realised that a lot of my fears were ill-founded. I realised that God had given me the gift of this baby and that he didn't bring me this far to suffer more. I realised that I had done a lot of work on myself, and on knowing me. I knew who I was and had certain caveats that would support me. First of all, I wanted an epidural, as I didn't get one with Alex's labour and I felt certain that I had a little dash of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder added to my depression. I know every woman struggles with the pain of labour, but for me, it was horrendous and never ending and the people who were supposed to help me seemed to keep leaving the room and telling me I could do it without pain relief. I felt let down and angry for a long time until I learned that I had a part in that. I didn't persist with letting them know that I was in pain. I wanted to be a "good girl" and get through my labour doing what they said. I didn't listen to my body and fought it and wanted to leave it. I resented the midwives for a long time and could hardly even drive past the GV Hospital without feeling venom. I worked through my fears and anger with my sponsor and came to see that they had done the best they could for me, that everyone who is in labour is in pain, and that I need to be my own advocate when I am uncomfortable or not coping.
My second caveat was that I was not going to breastfeed. Having learnt a lot about Aspergers and sensory issues, I became aware that I really really hated breastfeeding. I hated the feeling of it, I hated my breasts being constantly on call for Alex, I hated the soreness, the running milk and the feeling that I alone was solely responsible for nourishing Alex and feeding him. The clock became my enemy, as I didn't produce enough milk and he would sometimes feed for an hour and a half and then still scream, as he wasn't getting enough food. I look at pictures of him and he looks so sad. Poor little monkey. But, how was I to know that I wouldn't enjoy breastfeeding or have enough milk until I tried? By the time I stopped, the damage was done. I was so anxious about feeding him that every time I sat down to feed, I would be full of fear and resentment. I passed those feelings on to Alex, and he cried and cried and cried. The more he cried, the more anxious I felt, and so on and so on it went, until the madness set in and I totally lost myself in a nervous breakdown. This time around, I was going to solely bottle feed. Again, I was going to be my advocate and stand up for what was right for my body and my sanity.
Stay tuned for part 2 - the labour, early days and recovery.