Friday, August 10, 2007

Getting back in shape

Story contd.

My new son soon got bored with staring at his new Mum and just wanted to nod off so I put him back in his cot. What now? I was too excited to sleep so I wrote to everybody I knew, to tell them the news. As the morning wore on I was taken with baby to join about eight other mothers and babies in the maternity ward. I quickly bonded with a tall lanky girl whose amazing feat had been to increase her weight by no more than the weight of the baby and could have concealed her pregnancy right up to the birth had she wished.

We noticed that all of us would have alternate days when we would be on top of the world one day and down in the depths the next. If one of the babies needed to be examined, the staff would remove all the babies from the ward, so that instead of one mother being upset and worried, we all were.

I became inundated with bouquets of flowers from friends and family and the nurses piled them round my bed like a flowery bower. This was embarrassing so I asked Sister to spread them round the ward. It was lovely getting the flowers but I now had dozens of thank you letters to write. I was very upset when I received a bunch of red and white flowers from the Aunts. What were they thinking of? In my nursing days, red and white flowers on a ward meant a death – I suppose associated with blood and bandages. I begged Sister to get rid of them and she said she wasn’t superstitious and she would be happy to have them for her room. Phew!
We had always, in my training, removed all flowers from the ward at night as they were supposed to suck the oxygen from the air; I still don’t know if there is any truth in this.

Everything seemed to be going smoothly and baby was putting on weight so after a few days I was told I could go home. I asked William to bring my black and white tweed suit - expecting to be able to get into it - but not a chance. The nurses told me it would be eighteen months before I got my shape back but they were wrong. One of the best ways to get back in shape is breast –feeding ; you can actually feel the pull on your uterus as the baby sucks (particularly when you have cat- gut stitches like I had.).

The other slimming factor was the benign, happy Pat had become a stressed, nervous wreck who fretted when baby cried and prodded him when he was asleep to make sure he was OK. I had a bad case of post natal depression - which wasn’t recognised in those days and made me feel even worse. I wondered if I was going mad.

The health visitor came one day and, realising I was in a nervous state, told me to put all the ornaments away and not worry about house-work. That wasn’t a problem – I had an excellent daily help and probably if I had had more to do I would have had less time to fret. Her kindness reduced me to tears; it was a relief to have someone who seemed to understand how I was feeling. She introduced me to two mothers with babies (boys) around the same age, who lived close by, and that saved my bacon. Every night, after the six pm feed (when breast milk is at its weakest) my son would yell his head off – sometimes till midnight and it was driving me demented. When he was four months old the girls finally persuaded me to have a night off: I left William in charge and we went to the pictures to see ‘High Society‘with Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. For the first time since the birth I laughed and had fun. Back home William said our son had slept soundly all night and from then on things improved. Baby thrived and I got back in shape physically and mentally. God bless those girls; our trio of friendship survives to this day and I still have the LP of the film music.

William and I had decided we would not name our children after anyone we knew. Years later I realised I had given both boys Scottish names with the same initial as MTL. Make of that what you will.
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31 comments:

PI said...

Hi Jennifer! Yes it is a picture taken soon after we left hospital.

sablonneuse said...

Another lovely reminder of early motherhood which brought my own memories streaming back.
What a super photo. You look terrific and the baby is totally photogenic as well.

Z said...

When my grandson was 6 months old, his parents, desperate, resolutely ignored him when he cried to be fed all night, having refused to feed all day. One night did it, he has eaten at conventional times ever since.

I remember those evenings too, when all you want is to have a few hours break and the baby just cries.

mar said...

it is an adorable picture of the two of you.
I didn't have a post-natal depression but I was very close...your description of the situation reminded me of that. I would leave home the minute my husband arrived from work and went window shopping...that kept my sanity. It still does!!
saw you at Michele's and thought I would drop by. I am glad I did!

granny p said...

Oh god that six pm wail. Supposed to be gripe I think. It drove me nuts too. Baby no 2 didn't have it. Like the picture above this..

zoe said...

what a stunning photo! i suffered severe post-natal depression after my daughters were born, even though they were good babies. todd, on the other hand ......

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

The follow up to the birth of your son is really something Pat. How wonderful that that nurse introduced you to these women...Sharing the experience and also having some fun had to truly help save your sanity!

PI said...

sablonneuse: actually his brother was more photogenic but I'm not allowed to use his photos:(

Z: that was very brave of them. How the little scraps can make us suffer.

Hi Mar. Don't be a stranger.

Penny: in hospital we gave them mist chloral. It was very effective but probably had to be on prescription.

Zoe: I take my hat off to anyone who had to cope with twins. I can't imagine what it must have been like. I remember the despair so clearly and being a trained nurse made it worse.

Naomi: mind you I sill am a little mad:)

gautami tripathy said...

I like the way you described. It is one of those eternal thing which most can identify with.

Glad michele sent me back.

PI said...

gautami: that is very true:)

Moogie said...

Oh this is wonderful Pat. You have done it again. Your description of the road into motherhood is perfect. Isn't it amazing that we can go through all of that?

Lovely story. Michele sent me but I visit often anyway.

Kanani said...

This is wonderful.
I remember sitting on the floor after coming home with my son. I was so tired, all I could do was cry!
The thing that helped were daily walks --lots of them. Sometimes when I see a mother with a baby looking a bit sad, I always try to say something nice to her. Even engaging her in conversation because I remember how difficult it could be. Especially now, when everyone works and few get to stay home (here in the US).

apprentice said...

Yes awful old 6pm , and just when you're at your lowest ebb too.

It's amazing what friendship can cure/help.

apprentice said...

Lovely picture too

PI said...

Moogie: ' the road into motherhood' ain't that easy is it? If only one had known that most people have these problems.

Kanani:I consider walking to be one of the best antidotes to stress and unease. I think your idea of talking to mothers is brilliant and I shall try to act on it.

Anna: when I look back most of the traumas in my life have been made bearable by girl friends - god bless 'em!

colleen said...

Ah, I see you are writing your story. I answered your question on Loose Leaf.

PI said...

Thank you Colleen. I have just visited you. I have, for my sins, been writing my story since January 2006.

The Hangar Queen said...

Lovely picture.Thank you for sharing it and your wonderful story.
I'm struck by not so much how diffent childbirth is today but how the fundamentals have never changed.
We had the classic mad dash to the hospital for our second lad and he came into the world 7 minutes after we got to the hospital.Herself and I were convinced he was going to be born in the jeep.We would have been fine if he had been.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Pat, I am going to say something I've been wanting to say for ages: I think you should make these posts into a book. The story is gripping, your writing is getting better and better, and you've got ready-made illustrations too. I would buy it for sure.

PI said...

Thank you HQ. that must have been exciting. Maybe if I had had a ride in a jeep I wouldn't have been ten days late:}

Zinnia: thank you - that would be my dream. It(the story) is still unfolding and I need to see the big picture to shape and tweak and edit it. Maybe I should start doing that in my spare time. I tend to go weak at the knees at the prospect. Your encouraging words are much appreciated.

Tiffany said...

I remember the hospital stay all too well! Im sure mine was much different since it was 8 months and 2 weeks ago. I had to have an emergancy c-section. But everything Turned out ok, and my baby girl is happy and healthy :)

PI said...

Tiffany: congratulations! How wonderful! It is all before you. God bless you and baby!

Becky68 said...

What a lovely story of your son's birth! It brought back my memories of my oldest child's birth too. Funny how that all comes rushing back at the oddest times.
I'm glad you put in the parts about breastfeeding. I nursed all 3 of my kids & am always so disappointed when someone I know decides not to for whatever reason.
Michele sent me to share some of your story.

PI said...

becky 68: it's so nice to hear from a like minded person. I feel very strongly about breast feeding although I sympathise with those who can't - for what ever reason - manage it. I expect there will be a little more on the subject.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Came back to see if the next inmstallment was up...I remember that film, btw, very well....I did think the Original, "The Philidelphia Story" with Hepburn, Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart was a much much better movie..BUT, to have a score by Cole Porter..Well, that was oretty damn good....Remember the song..."True Love"? Lovely song...I can also see how this film could cheer you up considerably....!

Granny said...

I wondered as I read your post how many women suffering today from ppd could be helped by having close real life friends to help and to talk to.

I'm not minimizing ppd but it must be so much worse alone.

PI said...

Naomi: next installment? Now i feel guilty. Serves me tight for bring naughty at Crazie Queen:)
I agree about 'Philadelphia story'- in a different league but 'High Society ' did the trick. I'm coming over for another sight for sore eyes.

Ann: you are right; the two girls helped to banish my misery and put things in perspective. Wouldn't want to go through that again.

WendyWings said...

Michele sent me back today, my first son used to scream from about 5-midnight every night for 4 months lol. It is a wonder he isn't an only child actually.

PI said...

wendy: that sounds very similar to my experience. Happy days!

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

You're spot on about breast-feeding helping you get back in shape. Every woman I know who's done it seemed to have their baby fat just melt off. I felt the uterus thing too!

I'm sorry to hear about the PND. The whole first six months is such a crazy time anyway without the burden of that. More so with a first child - all anxiety mixed with despair and feelings of inadequacy -"Why are they cying? What's wrong. I've done everything I can think of. Aaaaaaaaagh!" The first year for me still seems like a dream.

PI said...

Sam: I felt as an RSCN I should know everything. I knew nothing!