I was an arrogant “know-it-all” BC (before children). I considered myself a cross between a childcare library of knowledge and Mary Poppins! I studied Child Psychology and Development, and was trained in CPR (both adult and baby) as well as Level 1 First Aid. This enabled me to earn good money (through the agency, called SuperSitters in Cape Town) to move into the homes of wealthy parents and take care of their “trouble” kids. From babies with colic to special needs scholars, to “terrible” toddlers and spoilt “brats”, there wasn’t a child I couldn’t deal with, both swiftly and efficiently! Naturally, this made me a supremely smug and overconfident expectant mom. After all, I had both theoretical and practical knowledge of how to deal with babies and children up to age 12 … didn’t I?
Here I was … 2 weeks before my due date. My 3 bags were packed. One had everything I might need for the delivery – from a meticulously detailed birth plan (no drugs of course) to ice-packs to ease trauma to the perineum. The other held nighties, sanitary pads, etc for my hospital stay, and I had a fully stocked and equipped baby bag. I thought that I covered everything and was fully prepared for what was to come. You know what they say about the best laid plans … right?
My due date comes and goes with no sign that my son has any intention of being born. Ten days past the due date I think I’m finally ready to give birth. By the time we reach the hospital, my contractions have completely stopped. As I was 10 days overdue and my cervix was 3cm dilated, they kept me overnight. The next morning I was given the option to go home and wait until my contractions started up again, or I could allow my OB/Gyn to induce me. Mistake number 1: I chose induction because I couldn’t bear to leave the hospital and admit to a “false alarm”. I’ll not bore you with the gory details – let me just say that not one single part of my meticulous “birth plan” came to be. I underwent an emergency C-section and came extremely close to dying on the table due to excessive blood loss. My son was delivered around 9pm and I had continuous BP monitoring and blood transfusions throughout the night. By the time I was declared “stable” enough to be transferred down to the Maternity Ward from the Recovery Ward, my son had already been given a bottle of formula.
As a “good” mother, I was planning to breastfeed exclusively …. not easy when my smart son had already figured out a baby bottle was easier to get milk out of than my breasts! Undeterred, I persevered in trying to breastfeed until he developed oral thrush with which he infected my breasts and caused my nipples to bleed.
My “failure” at “natural” birth and breastfeeding contributed to post-partum depression. Add to that a baby who had colic, causing him to cry hysterically from 6pm to 10pm every night, no matter how I tried to soothe him. Add to this the fact that my son projectile vomited after every feeding for the first 2 years of his life, and you can probably imagine the state this “Supersitter” was in.
I went from supremely confident to a blubbering mess who (on occasion) had to be separated from her son as she had thoughts of shaking him! The horror!! Who had I become? I was an “expert”. Every child I’d ever come across (prior to my son) I had absolutely no problem with. Suddenly, I couldn’t even trust myself to be alone with my own baby I’d desired since my 16th birthday!
Thank God for my unbelievably calm and supportive husband, as well as my grandparents. Between them, they made sure that I didn’t hurt myself or my baby. They say the higher you are, the worse the fall. In my worst nightmares I had never envisioned the “disastrous” delivery and first 24 months of my son’s life!
That said, I’m happy to be able to tell you that things improved from then on. My “trouble” baby is now a 19-yearold whom I’m immensely proud of. You might be wondering why I chose to write this particular post. After all, it’s not easy to admit you “messed up” a lot with your own flesh and blood!
I felt I needed to share my story because, sometimes, responses by mothers to other mothers’ posts and / or questions (on websites other than WMB!) are unbelievably harsh, and they remind me of my arrogance as a Supersitter …. before Life taught me a whole lot!
I realize now that no book, course, blog or anything else can truly prepare you for the reality of bringing another human being into the world. Each pregnancy, delivery, mother, father, baby, and everything else is totally unique! As mothers we need to reassure each other that we know best about our own family. What works for one child and / or family won’t necessarily work for another one! We need to share our stories of overcoming adversities only to be the “light at the end of the tunnel” for a mom who is feeling overwhelmed.
Our motto should be “this, too, shall pass” because it inevitably does. Both the good and the bad times make up the patchwork quilt of our lives. We wouldn’t be who we are if any of the “patches” weren’t sewn together!
What were you absolutely sure of, before your children taught you differently?
This is an original post by Mamma Simona from Cape Town. Simona writes exclusively for World Moms Blog. She is the extremely proud mother of 2 teens and also shares her home with an awesome husband, 2 cats and 2 dogs (who were all rescued)!
Photo credit to aroid. It has a Flickr Creative Commons attribution license.