Thoughts on single motherhood, hot obstetricians and constipated newborns

Emily turned two today. It’s a crazy thing to think about – that it was an entire two years ago to the day that I was in labour at the Mater, with my birthing partners, bouncing up and down on a gym ball and eating gummy bears between contractions, yelling at the midwife to “CRANK IT” (the gas and air clearly wasn’t on). Two years ago since I told the obstetrician he was hot while I pushed a baby out my vajayjay, because, you know, YOLO. Two years ago since spending that first overnight in the hospital, too afraid to go to sleep in case the baby I’d just met stopped breathing.

And I still go into her room sometimes to listen to her breathe.

We’ve filled the past two years with so much adventure, love and laughter. That was my coping mechanism. Living alone with a newborn baby, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing – it was lonely and scary. I remember crying while she lay on the change table, less than a week old, because I was too afraid to lift her head to take her singlet off in case I hurt her. There were some days I just kept the same singlet on her or waiting until a relative was over for courage.

I remember listening to her shiver in her bassinet because she was too cold. And crying because I felt like such a bad mum.

I remember her having reflux and being unable to sleep on her back or even in an elevated mattress – so I would sleep sitting up, holding her in my arms. She slept soundly through the night. I didn’t really sleep.

I remember being so stressed about expressing enough milk so she could spend time with her dad, that my milk began to dry up, stressing me more.

I remember taking her to the doctor because she hadn’t done a poo in 11 days (but when she did, holy shit).

I remember lying in bed on a Saturday morning, holding my six-day-old Emily in my arms, and crying because it was such a beautiful moment and I had nobody else to share it with. And out there were other mummies and daddies enjoying the same moment with each other.

Navigating motherhood with a newborn was a challenging time for me. All the more so because I’m self-employed, and had two staff to manage via email at the time. I worried that my clients weren’t happy. What happened if they all decided to pack up and leave on the same day? What then? I didn’t have the energy to consider those things. I just had to be. To keep going. To know that simply by being and by keeping going, I was enough for my little baby. As one friend put it, “Rach, all she needs are your boobs and a place to sleep. That’s it. Don’t worry about anything else”. And it was so true.

I also remember our adventures. As I said before, taking Emily on adventures was my coping mechanism. I would plan incredible days for us. We’d do 6am hikes up Mount Coot-tha trails, finishing with a breastfeed at the top. We’d roadtrip to the beach, just for the day, because that’s where I am happiest – and if I’m happy, she’s happy. I’d find the steepest hill in the suburb and run up and down it with Emily in the pram – facing me – so she could watch me work hard. She’d lie in the corner of the gym while I worked out with my personal trainer. We had a Valentines sunset picnic by the river. We went to the pub. We stayed at the Hilton at Surfers Paradise – just for one night – and I ate room service in the dark in the middle of my king-size bed while she slept in a portacot in the middle of the room.

I was determined to continue to do the things I loved – Emily would just have to join me. And that is how our two years together have been. I wouldn’t have it any other way, because I have some incredible memories – and I hope that she does too.

Today I asked her if she knew what “Birthday” meant. She said, “Party! Cake!” It’s so much fun watching her little personality grow – especially now I have someone to share these memories with.

I had told myself that it was a chance I might not meet someone until Emily was 5, or 6, or even 10. I might wait ten years to find love. I had considered this and accepted it as a possibility. A likely one. And then, three months ago, the most incredible man walked into my life. And now my heart is full and my family is complete. To all my single mumma friends out there – dreams do come true.

So, Happy second birthday Emily. I hope you know just how much you are loved. You are my strength in physical form. You are a living, breathing, daily reminder to me of how strong I am, of how I kicked ass at raising a child all on my own – of creating and guiding the most beautiful little person. We’re a great team and I am so proud to be your mummy.

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