Choosing where to start my first year from was a tough choice. I know a lot of people feel like mothers as soon as they see those two lines on the pregnancy test, others when they see their baby on a screen or feel their first kicks. I've decided to go with the day my son was born. I fell pregnant when I was a month off turning 20 but still felt very young and immature. The pregnancy was a surprise but Chris and I had been in a solid relationship for two years so we knew we were strong together and could handle it. Because I still felt like a child, especially in the eyes of my parents, I hid my pregnancy from them until I was around 24 weeks gone. I think this may have been the reason that I didn't feel like a mother that early on. I spent a lot of time hiding it and not really allowing myself to enjoy pregnancy unless I was at Chris's house where I could be more open.
As you've probably guessed by the name of my blog, he was born prematurely at 33 weeks. If you haven't read my birth story, I developed severe pre-eclampsia. I lost my vision, my entire body had swollen and my blood pressure was through the roof. I was admitted straight away and four hours after having steroid injections for C's lungs, he was born via Caeserean section. I knew at that moment that I was seriously ill. I knew I could die. I knew that they had to get him out for me to be okay but I didn't care about me. That young, selfish girl had disappeared and all I cared about was that tiny baby that I hadn't met yet, coming into the world seven weeks before he was supposed to.
The next two weeks are a bit blurry but I remember being so emotional. We were both ill, he was upstairs in NICU and I was downstairs on a ward as they tried to regulate my blood pressure. I couldn't breastfeed, which is what I was desperate to do so I had to express. My best friend brought me a manual pump but it was really tough. I wasn't with him so I had to rely on setting an alarm every 3-4 hours to express (even through the night), but I couldn't get very much out. I remember bringing my little bottle upstairs to him at around 3am and crying my eyes out to the nurse, saying that I felt like a failure. She reassured me because I was so ill too and I made the choice to switch to formula as he had been having top ups anyway. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted. Looking back now, I wish I'd done something differently. Maybe asked for more advice but as a shy, first-time mother I went along with what they recommended.
The day that we got C home was amazing but I felt well out of my depth. Chris and I actually said to each other that we couldn't believe that we were trusted to look after this little baby all by ourselves. He was really small and I was afraid that I'd break him. Obviously, I was thrilled to have C home. He was the first grandchild and everyone was really excited but I felt almost jealous that I had to share him with everyone and got very protective. A lot of people wanted to help a lot and I pushed them away. I didn't let anyone watch him whilst Chris and I did something together, I made excuses because I didn't trust anyone to look after him the way that I did. I got irrationally angry over the silliest of things like someone buying him fruit pouches because I felt like they didn't think I could buy him food myself or someone visiting over nap time and disrupting his routine. I was a far cry from the happy teenager I was before he was born. I knew that I was acting crazy and it took a good while for me to calm it down. I didn't need to worry so much. Everyone loved C just as much as I did. I learned to let go and I felt free.
Of course, the above was just a tiny portion of my first year as a parent. Being fully responsible 24/7 for a baby is tough but it was incredible too and made me grow in ways that I didn't know were possible. I am definitely not the same person that I was five years ago. I always said that I didn't want to have children but it's the best thing I've ever done and it is what I was supposed to do. Seeing my son's first smiles, soothing him when he was ill and teething and making him giggle are memories that I'll carry with me forever. The love in his eyes when he looked at me and cooed for me made me feel so needed. This tiny little thing needed me, and I needed him.
I have been compensated for this post.