A very good friend of mine is shortly due to have her first child and seeing her approaching the end of her pregnancy has brought the memories of my first moments of being a mum flooding back.
It really doesn’t matter how many birthing classes you attend or how many books you read there is nothing that can truly prepare you for parenthood.
Firstly the labour itself; I was encouraged to write a birthing plan. To this day I do not know why I bothered as I had mentally convinced myself that it would be all over so quickly that I wouldn’t need any sort of pain relief or intervention.
Needless to say 23 hours later I was singing a different tune. It was only because I had chosen to have my daughter in a small maternity hospital with no medical facilities that I managed to get through it without an epidural.
At one point I distinctly remember feeling that the midwives, my husband and my mum (who had come along to cheer me on)were all lying to me and that I wasn’t in labour but was in fact dying!
Inevitably it did eventually come to an end and my beautiful little girl was placed in my arms and for the following few hours, time stood still.
I do not remember feeling a sudden overwhelming love for her; it was more of an initial feeling of protectiveness. For me, falling in love with her was more of a gradual process. It happened over the days, weeks and months that I got to know her. Even now, 3 years down the line it can still happen and I can be momentarily floored as I fall in love a little bit more!
As we laid there together in the labour room, the enormity of the situation dawned on me as I came to realise that we were now in sole charge of this little scrap of a girl. Until that moment I had never changed a baby, got one dressed or bathed. I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to cope and I was certainly ill prepared for that first nappy. Meconium certainly is a sight to behold!
I distinctly remember feeling quite appalled that the nursing staff were willing to let us take this little baby home with no instruction manual and no clue about what we were doing.
Having said that, she may as well have been made out of glass we handled her so carefully. Miss Daisy had nothing on us as we drove away from that hospital with our little bundle strapped safely in the back.
The next few weeks were a learning curve to say the least! I never knew how little sleep I could survive on, how many nappies a new born could get through or how often my daughter would take my breath away.
So, to all of those parents-to-be out there I wish you a speedy and safe labour and I hope you feel a little more prepared than I did!
(First published in the Harrogate Advertiser 6th April 2012)