I’m a first time mother and my experience with infants is…none. I was always terrified of handling them, changing them and setting them off into a fuss. Of course, it’s different when it comes time to caring for your own child and a motherly instinct does kick in, but there was still no sense of what cry means what and what to do when it comes down to soothing a child. There is nothing more distressing than being unable to know instictively what the child needs.
It was the first night in the hospital after giving birth to my beautiful daughter, Audra. My husband went home to sleep and left me at the hospital with our new child. Our nurses had previously been very hands-on and we were able to spend the first full day with Audra successfully without any issues. We loved the time with our new baby and everything was feeling very special. Diapers were a breeze, breast feeding was becoming easier and the baby was able to snooze peacefully for small stretches of time.
Then the nursing staff switched shifts as Erik was leaving to go home for the night.
Audra and I peacefully snoozed for an hour before she woke up in a crying fit. Little girl had broken my tailbone earlier during delivery and shooting out of bed was impossible. I made the painful slide out of the bed to weakly tend to my baby. I tried everything from the diaper change, the feeding and trying to soothe her. However I could barely stand for any length of time and sitting was excruciatingly painful with the broken tailbone. I tapped the call button to get some assistance to get comfortable to help her, but no nurse came.
It’s in the dark hospital room in the middle of the night that I began to wonder why the hell did I choose to become a mother. I held onto a screaming child who appeared to not want anything to do with me. I got my first dose of “the baby blues” in a major way. I could not pull it together to save my life- or hers. I began to doubt my ability to take care of her and whether I’d be able to meet all of her needs. That night, I felt no doubt that I was going to be a terrible mother. I cried and cried and cried. I loved her so much and had no idea how to get her to stop screaming.
An hour after the last call to the nurses I pressed the call button again. No one came as I sat in just my hospital gown in a freezing cold room on a rocking chair. The donut shaped pillow they gave me for the broken tailbone was anything but helpful. I attempted to swaddle her to keep her warm and tucked her close to me. My god, that room was so cold. Or was I just exhausted from delivery? No. I was cold and where were the nurses? The mothering section of the hospital was empty- just me and another mother who just delivered her second child. No emergencies to tend to, so please GOD, where are the nurses? I just need a hand to point me in a direction. I don’t know how to settle poor Audra now.
Somehow I managed to get out of the rocking chair and shuffled my way back to the bed. I pressed the button one more time, but this time feeling guilty for doing so. I was so cold and shaking that I felt I was going to drop Audra. I was failing my daughter in so many ways. I couldn’t comfort her and I couldn’t stop crying either. The feeling of hopelessness was absolutely overwhelming. I began to feed her and painfully so. She wasn’t latching well and I had no clue how to position her better to make it less blistering, cracking and miserable. So much for bonding over breast feeding. I resented it.
After thirty minutes into feeding a nurse finally came in to give me a heated blanket. I finally was able to get Audra to sleep beside my bed and I finally drifted off to sleep for another hour before she woke up again. This time however, I calmed her down quickly with a clean diaper, but I quietly held her and waited for one more hour before my husband came back at 6 am.
I wasn’t depressed and I knew that this wasn’t a lasting feeling, but it really gave me a push into bonding more with Audra. I didn’t want to feel that useless again. Thankfully enough, that was the first and only night so far where I felt like being a mother wasn’t for me. I’ve felt guilty for feeling that blue and have ever since spent my time smooshing my daughter with kisses in hopes that it won’t be a night stored anywhere in her memory. It’s my hopes that her first memories will be that I’m a competent mama and full of love for her.