Any woman who decides to go through with a pregnancy is a heroine. The number of physiological, hormonal and emotional changes that occur from the time you realize you’re carrying a little pea sized heart beat that will eventually multiply into a human is what I call magic and traumatic.
In short, I went into the hospital on Sunday night (yes around 3am like many) and this little peanut then decided she didn’t want to come out until WEDNESDAY by induction and with the epidural wearing off, I pushed her 3.84 kg body out of my own… that’s 70+ hours later and I remember thinking that I didn’t care anymore how she came out, just get her out and let me sleep! How wrong was I? If I never felt like or ever feel like super woman again, I will remember that I was when I gave birth.
Many photos get taken and shared while you’re pregnant and your body becomes alien and then when that little nugget is born, the lens is directed at baby and every little thing they do being camera worthy. So here I’m sharing my 2 photos, 48 hours post partum, after 6 days in a hospital with little light and never stepping outside.
I felt like I was run over by a truck, then train and car and feeling even more alien in my body than ever because it’s still a bump, but it’s empty. It’s a strange feeling and I remember I took the photos to remember what it was like to not know how it felt to be connected in my body other than very sore, empty and disconnected. Looking at the photos now, it still triggers those feelings like someone had separated my mind and body and spirit for a short while.
From being in baby groups and having worked with moms and babies, teaching mum and baby yoga, I knew this fourth trimester would come but I didn’t know how much of a roller coaster ride it would be. Sometimes referred to as the dark 100 and other times, the period no one talks about or told you about!
I was lucky to be in a baby group formed out of the Annerley Midwife Clinic course that was totally open to talk about it all and we didn’t hold back on the days we felt totally alone and cried at the thought of our babies grown up to the ways our relationships have changed forever with this new addition. I am so grateful for these ladies in that dark 100 and even now. They’re my mini tribe of new mommies who make me laugh out loud, empathize and offer support.
For many asian woman in Hong Kong, the first month home with baby is often coupled with confinement. A month indoors, no showers, no washing the hair, mostly lying in bed and eating 5 bowls of rice a day. At the first thought of having to be in confinement for a month, I wanted to say no to the whole idea but my mom was flying in from Canada to stay with us as my confinement lady and I knew I would have some say as to how much or how little I would stay confined to the bed.
It’s believed that confinement is a time for the mother to be taken care of, a time for her body to replenish and rest after giving all it’s nutrients to the baby for 9 months. It’s a time to help her bond with baby before she is on her own again to take care of the baby. And having abided by the rules 80%, I would say confine me again for the next bub!
Things I did and didn’t do-
I showered everyday neck down with warm water and made sure I was totally dry before leaving the bathroom so as not to catch wind.
Once a week (Wednesdays!) I would wash my hair with ginger water so I could feel a little more clean before drying it completely and putting it up into a messy bun again.
I ate rice and soup around the clock. Breastfeeding makes you thirsty and hungry and you need 300 additional calories if you choose to breastfeed. I went with Mya to her appointments at the MCHC and walked super slow, but one time I asked my husband if we could go for breakfast before we went home and it felt good to be out a little longer
On another occasion, Fede (our fur baby) had to be taken out for a walk, it’s June and it was hot and I snuck into 7-11 and then sat outside my apartment block and ate a strawberry hagen daz before I went back up… I will not do that again because I had a tummy ache almost immediately (my mom still doesn’t know that she was right and I just told her I was extra tired).
Outside of confinement, I was not expecting some of the hormonal changes that occurred and my father in law had warned my husband of, “Watch out for day 5, that’s the day your mother always cried and when I’d ask guests not to leave.” Well day 11 came and on our way home from one of Mya’s check ups, we were in the taxi about to get out and it just hit me, the overwhelming emotion of having just created a human being and brought her into this crazy world. The effects of sleep deprivation didn’t help either and while still having afterbirth, I wasn’t able to just hop into a float pod.
I reached out to my Annerley group to see if anyone else had experienced the baby blues and to my surprise, everyone did to some degree and it was a relief to be able to share when I was having super down days. I also started taking 4000 IUs of Vitamin D and quickly noticed that I was feeling more myself again as I was emerging out of the first 100 days.
I came across this post and it resonated so loud and clear on what it means to step into motherhood and while Mya is nearly 6 months old now and I am back into a rhythm of doing things that allow me to identify as “myself”, there are still moments when I miss being me.
This article resonated loud and clear during the fourth trimester and I am sharing it with all of you, while I wouldn’t give her back, sometimes, I miss me.
“Motherhood demands the impossible from you sometimes. You have to constantly give more and more, and more, of yourself. Just when you think you’re spent, you’re all out, you really have nothing left ― you have to search every last corner of yourself and give more.”