We had a first birthday last week! It marked the end of the fastest year of my life! I cannot believe that our little man is one. And in lockdown too, so not exactly the family tea party or the birthday weekend trip to Dublin Zoo that I’d envisaged. Still, we made the best of it, I think I felt more pressure because of the fact there wasn’t much that we could do and of course we wanted it to be a special day – not that our little man noticed! So it was a family Zoom party, presents, cards and a cake. The weather here was awful on his birthday so there was no picnic in the garden for the three of us – my original plan B!
It was a lovely day though and naturally with it came the time for reflection, reminiscing back to last year, to the day that our little man was born. Now, I know this might sound awful, but I was sort of dreading that bit. Not our little boy coming into the world, of course, that is the most special event that has ever happened to either of us but, as followers of this blog may know, I didn’t have the easiest of birth experiences. I know that’s not unusual for many new mums and compared to what many go through I got off lightly, but it was still difficult. Fortunately for me, my little man was born in the evening, meaning for the most part of his birthday when I kept thinking back to “this time last year” in the day it was fine. I was going through labour which wasn’t easy, but it was exciting as our little bundle of joy was on his way! However it was once he was born that things didn’t go the way all the books said it would.
Soon after his birth he had to be taken to the neonatal ward because his breathing wasn’t quite right, and also because I have something called Group B Strep he had to be monitored and given antibiotics for 48 hours. I had the important skin-to-skin with him straight after he was born and we both got to cuddle him but then he had to go to the ward. So I didn’t give him his first feed or change his first nappy or spend his first night with him and I’ll be honest, I’ve struggled with that, even a year later I still find it hard. It happens to many mums and their babies, but that knowledge doesn’t necessarily make things any easier if it happens to you. Not long after all this happened I quickly began to feel unwell and ended up having surgery at 1.30am. The next couple of days were tough as he was in the neonatal ward for three nights in the end and I wasn’t very well myself as I recovered from surgery. I was also on a ward with other mums who had their babies with them, that was the most difficult thing of all. It was so hard to see all the other mums on my ward with their tiny newborns when I was without mine. I also didn’t feel like a “real” mum, after all my little boy was being cared for in another ward where I had to be taken in a wheelchair to see him because I was so weak. The feeling when he was eventually wheeled back into the ward to be with me was unreal!
So what time did my little boy decide to wake up the night after his birthday? 1.30am! Something he never does, he needed a nappy change, so I changed him, all the while thinking about the exact time the year before when I’d have been in surgery and he would have been in the neonatal ward, wishing that it had been different. Daft, I know to torture myself over something I had no control over, and things always seem worse in the middle of the night. Then I put him back in his cot, got back into bed myself and I’ll admit had a little cry about how I wished things had been a year earlier. My husband was awake too as the little man had woken up both of us, so it was good to cry with him there and voice my feelings. I suppose I felt a sense of release, in the same way that writing this blog post is a release. Even though I’d rather be positive and upbeat about things sometimes you just have to acknowledge your feelings – even at 1.30am!
However if this year has taught me anything it’s that my birth experience and the aftermath doesn’t reflect on my relationship with my little man. He’s just so precious and special to me that if that’s the way things had to begin for us, well that’s the way it had to be. It’s been a year I’ll never forget, with so many wonderful moments as well as more difficult ones, but more than anything else it’s been absolutely full of the most amazing love. It’s a love I’d never known before and when I think that love can’t get any bigger it grows some more!
Now we’re at the start of the toddler stage – new territory again…