I don’t normally watch One Born Every Minute.
On the one hand it’s far too much like being at work; as a neonatal nurse I attend a deliveries when we either know that the baby is going to be born in a poor condition or because we’ve been called as a matter of emergency.
It also brings back some things that I don’t wish that I could forget, but that I wish had been different.
This evening the lovely friends who babysat were watching OBEM was on when the Northern One and I came back from having a rare evening out and against my better judgement I ended up being sucked in.
I had to turn it off because I couldn’t stop the tears.
The first time I ever saw Squidge I didn’t feel love or a rush of maternal instinct or even happiness.
I knew that I was supposed to feel these things; that I was supposed to be overjoyed that my baby had arrived safely and that after nine months of carrying him inside me I was finally able to meet him.
But I didn’t feel any of those things.
All I felt was terror.
I found pregnancy difficult, both physically and mentally. I’ve battled with depression for the last ten years and when at the time I discovered myself to be unexpectedly pregnant I was taking antidepressants. and then having to cope with almost constant nausea, premature labour at 26 weeks, gestational diabetes and SPD so severe that I could barely walk I found myself in the darkest place that I’ve ever been.
Long before I went into labour I had decided that the Northern One was going to be the first person to hold Squidge when he was born. I needed as much time to adjust as I could possibly take before I had to face the reality that Squidge was here and I had to be a mum.
There was never going to be enough time.
The Northern One held him, snuggled into his little green hospital blanket with his little face peeking out at the top.
I remember seeing his dark, spiky hair for the first time.
I remember the Northern One telling Squidge that I was his mummy.
I remember the tears.
Not tears of joy or happiness or even just tears from being overwhelmed with tiredness or emotion.
I had cried every day of my pregnancy and the day that it ended and Squidge was born was no different.
I looked at my newborn son and I could feel the fear and the panic rising to the surface, faster and faster, threatening to turn into a scream. I vaguely remember looking at the Northern One and sobbing that I wasn’t ready for him to be here yet.
That I wasn’t ready to be a mum.
I hadn’t even realised that he wasn’t breathing when he was born.
I did manage to ask the Northern One why Squidge wasn’t crying but he told me that everything was fine. A few days later I found out that this was because he didn’t want me to worry although, at the time, everything was far from fine.
I looked sideways at the resuscitaire and saw Squidge lying there with a mask on his face and doctors standing over him and I knew that everything couldn’t be fine.
But I was just so tired and confused and relieved that I was no longer in pain, that the only body that I now had to carry was my own, that I just accepted what the Northern One has said was true.
To my eternal shame I turned away carried on breathing in the Entonx to get me through the after pains.
Whether it was the side effects of the substantial amount of Entonox I’d used, the bone deep exhaustion of labour, the shock of him arriving three weeks early or the deadening of my emotions that came with the depression but I just couldn’t associate that dark-haired little scrap with anything to do with me.
It took several days for how ill he’d been to properly sink in.
One the combined efforts of the emergency paediatric and neonatal teams had got Squidge breathing again one of the nurses attempted to give him to me. I shook my head and shrank away from her but still she persisted until the Northern One stepped in and took him from her.
I could see the look of disapproval and the expression of judgement on her face.
Clearly it had never occurred to her that any new mum would or should be anything less than thrilled with their new baby.
That they would be afraid.
After a while I did hold Squidge but still I didn’t feel anything like what I thought I was supposed to feel. I studied his little red face with it’s big dark eyes and long lashes and tried to find the answers that I was looking for. I tried to feed him but he wouldn’t latch on, hard as I tried. Instead he just looked up at me with a quizzical expression on his scrunched up little face, seeming to find his suddenly being born as confusing as I did.
The Northern One took over cuddle duty again and I was so wrung out that, even with the noise and the lights and the presence of the rather sheepish looking electrician, I fell asleep.
I pretended to still be asleep long after I’d woken up; partly because I was still too exhausted to open my eyes and partly because I wasn’t ready to be thrust back into the new reality in which I’d found myself. The reality in which I was now a mum and I had a tiny, helpless newborn dependent upon me for everything.
It took me a long time to adjust.
Days and weeks before I felt anything like a mum.
Before I wanted to show Squidge off too the world and tell people that this beautiful little boy was mine.
These days things are very different.
Even though I very much enjoyed spending some time just me and the Northern One the first thing I did was to go upstairs to check on my sleeping boy.
I stroked his soft hair, kissed his warm little cheek and told him that I loved him.
That I will always love him and that I will always be his mummy.
No matter how I felt on that first day.