For me, they were more on the darker shade of blue, more like the baby navys.
I'm signed up to most, okay probably ALL the parenting Facebook pages or websites, Why? Well because they have all the answers, right? Well, some have guidance and others just make you feel like you’re winning as a parent and I’ll be honest, I’ll take that feeling wherever I can get it.
I’m the least judgy mother you’ll find because if I’m honest, I’m too busy trying to keep my own two humans alive to really notice what anyone else does.
I do find help and solace in these sites and yes, the need to know details on what colour your infant’s poo should be is a rite of parenthood passage. Then, you read about some lady in Toledo, Ohio whose three year old lives on a diet of root beer and twizzles and yet she’s not sure why the kid won’t sleep and is verging on diabetes, shallow as it sounds, I feel better about using Ella’s Kitchen when I weaned my now two-year-old.
When Hannah was about 20 days old, there was a feature ‘RECOVERING FROM CHILDBIRTH’ which made me think, oh, that's me, I'm recovering from childbirth, maybe this will have a bit of information that I can identify with.
It was your standard stuff, constipation, feeding, breast engorgement, stitches and what not.
So what’s the problem? Well, I expected more, I wanted more. I wanted some real emotion, other than what we’ve all been told by every midwife, consultant and book to date.
It could have been written by someone who’s never had a baby, who googled the basic information.
It was just facts, no guidance or help. It was just generic. Not one single mum I know is generic, far from it. Especially when you’re “recovering from childbirth.”
So, at the time, I wrote about my recovery and I'd like to share it with you:
Day 20: I'm tired - like I'm really tired but that's nothing new, every new parent is.
For me, the tiredness comes with a slightly unhinged side of being a new mother. When I say slightly, I’m totally still unhinged, but I’m covering it better than I did with Oisin (I’ll explain that bag of post-natal crazy another day).
I still get a little, okay, a lot loopy when people want to pick Hannah up for a “go”. Like, a go? Really? She’s not a cheap Peppa Pig car in the local shopping centre. Also, I’m pretty sure that charging people to have a hold of your baby is in the realms of illegal.
With Oisín, my first, I wouldn't let anyone pick him up, I probably went a bit too far with him so I'm really trying this time to be a little more relaxed. When I see those hands reaching towards the Cocoonababy my body tenses up. Sometimes I offer, albeit through gritted teeth. “Would you like to hold her?”
Anyway, the tiredness plays a small, okay, HUGE part in that.
I came out of the hospital on a real high after having Hannah, the one I'd heard about when I had Oisín but never experienced. The first week I was floating, happy with my lot and not particularly hormonal, by week two I was a little less floaty and more like a two-week-old helium balloon, still slightly aloft, but barely. So here we are approaching week three and I’m deflated. I have feelings, ALL of the feelings.
So, this is why I began writing this piece. All the articles tell you about the boobs, baby blues, bums and all the bits in between, literally! Post natal depression is well covered documented and thankfully, it’s starting to be discussed more - but I think there's another version of it - the baby navys that is a bit beyond the baby blues but not at fully blown post-natal level.
Let me try to explain; Oisin’s birth was just a whole bag of madness, it was three weeks earlier than expected, it was long and it was exhausting. After the epidural wore off it was painful. I was sore and swollen, everywhere. It was a shock to the system. I, like every other new mam, left the safety of the hospital for our two bed apartment where there was no midwife on call and two very nervous new parents.
I was in a lot of pain, but that started to ease slowly in the days and weeks followed. I thought I was prepared for Oisin’s arrival, I had read, researched, asked everything there was to ask, but everything I asked about was to do with Oisin. I hadn’t thought or known about how my body would be after the birth, there was no book or advice page, how can there be? Everyone is different. There is no blue print.
For me, I found the first three or four months a haze. I was scared of everything. It was exhausting. I survived those weeks. I mean that in the literal sense, I took it day by day. I loved when the clock hit six, I knew the home-run was about to start, Joey would be home. He was like the cavalry arriving. I felt a relief in hearing the door click and knowing that I had a support system for the next few hours.
Every day was a new school day, babies are tiny masterminds, they lure you into thinking you have it sussed. That you really should be contacting the morning TV's shows to head up your own parenting feature because you’ve been at this 20 days and let’s face it, you got this.
There’s the lows of pretty much signing yourself up for Jeremy Kyle’s bad parents shows because you cried when the baby did and that you wished for just two minutes you could go back to leaving the house without enough stuff for 20 infants, never mind just one. But I got through the days one by one and before I knew it Oisin was about 18 weeks and the fog was lifting. I didn’t have post-natal depression, but the baby blues really seemed, to me anyway, a lot more navy than blue.
As you wrestle with all the emotions then there is your body. It’s sore.
Even though on the outside you may be starting to look less exhausted, less bloated or fairly well put together on that day, internally you're shook.
The problem is when you look like you have your shit together, even though you’re being held together by a wing and prayer, there's an expectation that you're "back on track".
You’re not though, you’re not even near the track. Somewhere in the Instagram world of being a mother, someone is posting a picture of them and their six day old, they’re fully made up, surrounded in flowers and cotton balls, with beach curls and smooth skin cradling their baby with #blessed. Meanwhile, you’re looking at it wearing knickers to that stop somewhere under your boobs, tracksuit bottoms, maternity ones, obviously, thinking, who has the time to do this (and what a waste of cotton balls.)
Then, the cold reality of all your body has done, experienced and still recovering from coming rushing back at random moments like in the loo when you're sure labour was easier than the constipation and the repercussions of trying to get things moving are equally as horrible.
You wrestle the emotional roller coaster - one minute your’e happy as Larry watch television the next your eyes well up with tears because of an IKEA ad. Then you have a moment in the kitchen looking at your, newborn, toddler, child or children. You are overwhelmed by the fact you’re the grown up in charge, but if you're honest you'd like to be in bed watching TV, eating food, being looked after by someone because you're exhausted.
You brought a human into the world, you possibly haven't pooped in days, you're not sure when you showered last, washing your hair is a luxury and as for drying and straightening it, well that's just a lotto win.
The pictures in media and online tell us we should be in sports wear strutting around and maybe going to the gym to get our post baby body back or maybe sipping water post work out at a mother and baby class.
As it stands, Hannah is twenty days old, I’m not nearly ready, and anyway, packing to leave is just so exhausting. Actually, everything is exhausting. So, recovering from birth is a different path for everyone, for me, I'm just having a little sit down on the grass beside my path cause I'm a bit shattered, but I'll get there, we all will, we just need to remember to do it in our own time.
UPDATE: Hannah is now eight whole months, there are still days that I feel crazy overwhelmed by it all, but 90% of the day I have a loose handle on things. I’d be confident in saying I don’t have my shit together, but it’s all good.
So, if you’re a new first-time mother, go easy on yourself and mind yourself. It is overwhelming.
If like me, it’s not the first one, still go easy on yourself, the expectancy of us to be SUPERMUM is a load of nonsense – You went through pregnancy, labour and delivery – you’ve already hit Super status.
The majority of those who Instagram tells us what we should be doing is total crap.
If you are struggling though please talk to your other half, family and your friends maybe it’s just a touch of the of the baby blues or navys as it was for me. Just make sure not to let it all get too much and you’ll be surprised, you’ll find support in the strangest of places.