Saturday, 21 April 2012

Things I Do Not Know


I’m sat downstairs, it’s cold. I’m tired, but Ebony is asleep next to me and I don’t want to move her in case I wake her. She will do that pouty face that I love, but that quickly turns into redness and tears.

Laurie is upstairs, possibly dying of some exotic disease. He is definitely not well. I brought Ebony downstairs, to get away from the germs. But now I’m cold. I don’t know what the rules are with babies and germs. Should I be keeping her away from his giant poisonous coughs, or will she be ok? I know she’s meant to share my immune system, because she’s young and breastfed, but I don’t know that I’m immune. Maybe we’d all catch it, then who would look after us? I’d have to ring my Mum and ask her to bring soup. But I think if we were all ill, Ebony would get the most attention and care, poor Laurie and I would have to fend for ourselves. That’s what happens when you have a baby.
Poor Laurie, upstairs poorly. My first thought was “Poor Ebony”, and she’s not even sick. I took her straight out of the room, and popped in to see Laurie whenever she seemed content enough to be alone momentarily. It’s rubbish to be pushed into second place, especially when you are poorly. But I can’t risk going back upstairs, in case you are meant to keep babies away from infected people, and then she gets sick and I have to spend days caring for a poorly baby. She had her injections yesterday, so she’s already annoyed at me, and I imagine her immune system is compromised so I can’t really risk exposing her to germs that have taken down a grown man.
I need to ask a trusted friend if Ebony can sleep in the same room as Laurie tonight, but it’s too late for that. I don’t want to wake people up. I could ask Google, but it rarely gives me a correct answer. Google gives me too many opinions, and I don’t trust any of them. And Google is always so pessimistic, always spitting out negative answers. I remember Googling pregnancy woes, in the hope of finding remedies, but each time it would explain “That happened to me, and then I miscarried”, no matter what the symptom. Google is like the Daily Mail; trying to make everyone crap their pants about everything. So I shall not ask Google about whether Laurie will infect my Ebony. I shall just assume he will, and treat him as though he is highly contagious, because I am a terrible wife. But a good mother, perhaps?
It’s not that I’m scared of germs. I’m saying this for people who don’t know me, because anyone who has visited my house will know I am no clean freak. But germs are one thing, good for building an immune system, but what about a delirious husband which could potentially lead to a very sick baby... it just doesn’t sound worth the risk. I have seen Facebook updates from friends caring for poorly babies, and it’s never sounded that great. I think I’d rather spend a night on the sofa, in the cold, than a week of no sleep with a miserable baby.
There have been many moments like this, over the past three months, where I have realised that I have no clue what I am doing. I’m not entirely sure how I would parent if I didn’t have the internet, or my friends, to counsel me through. There are so many things I didn’t know before Ebony.
I didn’t realise how exhausted I would be after labour. That sounds stupid, I know. I knew it would be hard, but I wasn’t expecting to have been awake for so long before labour started. If I’d had a good night sleep just before, I think I would have been ok. But I was exhausted. I didn’t realise I wouldn’t be able to walk from exhaustion, and would have to lie on the floor downstairs after misjudging my energy levels in an attempt to get upstairs for a shower. I was on the floor for over an hour, while Laurie was upstairs dressing our new born daughter. At the time, I was too tired to consider this, and I wasn’t sure how long I’d been away from her anyway. But looking back now, it breaks my heart that I missed one of her first hours of life, that she was in a different room and didn’t know where I was. I feel so terrified that this might have impacted on our bond; that in those first hours of life when she was completely vulnerable, I was not there to protect her. I wish I’d known how exhausted I would be, so I could have gone straight upstairs before the adrenaline wore off, and spent that time in bed cuddling Ebony. Instead of alone, on the floor, too tired to stand up.
I didn’t know that it was ok for breastfeeding to hurt at first. I had always been told that if it hurts, you’re doing it wrong. So for the first few days of her life, I thought Ebony wasn’t latching correctly because of the pain. She would latch on and start feeding, and the pain would shoot through me like needles. I’d then take her off the breast which is not an easy thing to do with a newborn. You have to use your finger to break the vacuum the baby’s mouth has created, and it hurts. Then I’d try again, and again. Each time hoping to get it right, but again feeling the needles shoot through me. After a few days the pain was unbearable. I remember one night, sitting in the nursery and sobbing while trying to feed. I just couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong, I was doing it exactly as I’d been shown but it was still hurting. The next morning a midwife came round, and she told me that I should expect it to hurt for the first 30 seconds of each feed. So after that I just fed through the pain, and after a few days that pain disappeared and breastfeeding became much easier. I had been making it so much worse for myself by continuously taking her off and latching her on again. I wish I’d known that it was ok if breastfeeding hurt a bit for the first few days, and that it didn’t mean I was failing.
You read so much when you’re pregnant, and get so much advice from friends (and strangers), but it’s hard to remember it all. Information swims round in your head, and when you need a specific piece of advice you cannot find it for all the other information is in the way.
I think I will take Ebony up to bed now. She will pout, and cry. But I am tired and cold, and I don’t want us to sleep in the living room. I am sure she will be ok, if she has my immune system then she should be fine. She is lucky she does not share an immune system with Laurie or she would be forever struck down with ailments. Speaking of Laurie, I should probably go and check he is ok.
Fingers crossed Ebony won't get poorly.

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