Sitting on my verandah on a cool summers night watching the rain pour around me. I feel at complete ease which is maybe due to the wine I'm sipping or perhaps because I've made it through my first year as a mum. That's right, today Oli is one! This time one year ago I was sitting in labour ward, feeling somewhat tender and emotional on an absolute high after giving birth. Ian was at home sleeping, I was learning how to use a breast pump and my newborn baby was at another hospital laying unconscious on an operating table. The next four weeks and one day would be spent in the nicu, two operations, bucketloads of tears and the most emotional journey of my life later and we would take our baby home. Unlike most families we didn't say goodbye to the medical problems at the door, we now had a chronic disease to live with. The next few weeks were even harder, we moved into our house and Ian went back to work. I was still breastfeeding every few hours and with a low supply and a starving baby my world was shit. The weather was so hot, I had a baby who wouldn't sleep and I was plummeting towards rock bottom. I distinctly remember standing at the river near my house with Oli screaming in his pram. I thought to myself 'god I'm the worst mum in the world...all I want to do is run away and leave him here in the bush' That's when alarm bells starting ringing I thought...hey there's something wrong here. It was the most bizarre feeling. It was as if I was outside of my body and yelling at myself you need help!!! Psychological help! It's not normal to want to leave your baby in a river, it's not normal wanting to walk out of your house leaving your husband and baby and never want to come back. Every day just got worse. I got got a point when I noticed Oli stopped smiling and communicating with me because I wasn't doing the same to him. I was miserable and tired and non emotive. It wasn't until the nurse in the CF clinic twigged that I wasn't coping and sent me to talk to someone that I started to feel better. This was the best thing that could have happened to me because I was able to work through my huge issues and overwhelming anxieties. They also organised for a support worker to come twice a week to visit me and Ol. Sharon is my absolute life saver! She came into our home when I was at my most vulnerable and is now a part of the family. The first day she came and insisted I have a long shower I think I almost cried my eyes out! Her support has made an enormous difference.
The rest of the year has been a blur. Once I worked through the initial struggles my life started improving. When Oli started sleeping, eating and putting on weight things started to look up. I had time to myself all of a sudden! I started to get out in the garden, started my blog and actually watch some TV alone! I felt more comfortable leaving Ol and even popped to the shops for some retail therapy! During those early days I really struggled, I didn't think my life would get any better. I felt like I had made the worst mistake in my life by having a baby and while I would never take Oli back I certainly felt as if I wanted my 'old life' back. It wasn't only the fact I had a new baby that I struggled with, it was the overwhelming guilt. Guilty for having a baby and ruining our lives ( hehe seems extreme now but at the time it was real!), guilty for having a baby with CF, guilty for having time away from the NICU, guilty for spending all my time in the NICU, guilty for not having enough milk, guilty for not doing enough physio, for not working and bringing in money to our house, for wasting my degree, for not getting the baby to sleep, for not cleaning the house, for not doing enough, or being enough. No one was putting pressure on me except myself. It was all in my head and it was vicious. A joke in my family is my sisters alter ego 'Wendy' who comes out when she's being a bitch. I can certainly say I had myself a Wendy in those days and she was brutal, except she was inside my head feeding me negative thoughts.
I reflect on my pregnancy, birth and the past year often. It hurts but it's healing too. I'll never ever forget what we went through and those memories make me so happy and proud to see where we are now. If I had a message to myself sitting there by Oli's cot I would say... You are stronger than you know, and braver than you could ever imagine. This will soon be a distant memory and he will be the happiest, chubbiest little character who you run around after all day. The CF will be controlled, he won't get sick in his first year, the physio gets easier. You will still be breastfeeding one year on. You will live in an amazing little house around a beautiful community of new friends. You will make true friends and who stick by you when you truly need them. You will be happy again, it will take a long time but you will soon feel that bubbling, fizzy feeling of happiness. That feeling of accomplishment after getting through the hardest year of your life. You are still standing, with a bub on your hip and Ian by your side. Oh and a few chooks by your feet. I did it, I bloody did it! Please if you are struggling seek help, there's no shame in admitting you aren't coping. Happy mama, happy bub, happy dad, happy life! Xx