One of the things I remember the clearest about the night my daughter was born was how grey and rainy it was. A typical cold winters day in the Blue Mountains; everything felt damp. Everyone (well, a lot of people, maybe not the smart people who knew to keep their advice and stories to themselves but everyone else) had filled my 9 months of pregnancy with comments about how the day our first child is born will forever be the best day of our lives.
"As soon as you hold your baby, all the pain will go away!"
"As soon as you see your baby, you will love them with all your heart!"
"As soon as your baby is born, you will think he/she is a pure, fabulous, delightful miracle."
Want to know what I thought when I first saw my baby girl? "Why doesn't she have eyelashes? Where the heck are her eyelashes?" Want to know what I thought next? "Gee whizz she's loud! Can anyone give me some help shushing her a bit?"
Truth bomb... The day my daughter was born WAS NOT the best day of my life and you know what? That's ok!
Our gorgeous girl who is now a 3 year old tall, lanky, intelligent and kind mass of fabulousness, was born at 10pm after 21 hours of labour. This means for most of that day - the day she was born - I was either uncomfortable, really uncomfortable, in excruciating pain, or in excruciating pain AND naked. I left my dignity at the door like every other labouring mother does. Why the heck would I EVER say that particular day was the best day of my life? Are you kidding me? Just about every moment of it was awful! Even for the 2 hours between my daughter being born and the next day officially starting, I was still in pain, still naked and even worse, I was having my most sensitive part of skin sewn back together. None of this is a recipe for the best day ever.
What's really interesting is those so called 'happy hormones' everyone raves about seemed to be on holiday in my body that day, and for the few days that followed. There was no floating on cloud nine. There was no adrenaline rush. There was no walking on sunshine. There was very little walking at all in fact. Shuffling is a better word to describe it. Every time I had a brief moment to myself, I would replay the events leading up to my daughter's slightly scary and incredibly lengthy entrance into the world. The memories kept me awake (not that there were many opportunities to sleep). It was almost... a little bit like... post traumatic stress. A very mild dose yet one big enough to push me further away from that day being the best ever.
Once I left hospital and went home there were other stressful things going on in my life that added to my depression (that at the time I didn't even know I had but now I look back at it and think "Wow! DEPRESSION!!!" I took a long time to settle into being this kid's mum. She was, after all, the source of all my misery. She was the reason why I couldn't just jump in my car on a whim and drive to a mate's house. She was the reason why I couldn't just go to bed and drift off to sleep whenever the hell I wanted to. She was who had all of my husband's attention. She was the reason I had sore boobs, baggy eyes, oily hair and STITCHES!
What the heck were people talking about... best day of my life? What a joke. That day was the start of my very first bout of depression and it was FAR FROM the best day of my life.
Truth bomb... that's ok!
I adore my daughter and now, finally understand what people meant when they said "You will never want to swap them for anything". So true. My life without my daughter now would me so much more grey and wet than it was on the day she was born. I still don't look back on that day and say it was the best day of my life because... well, I'd be lying. I don't ever try to convince myself that it was better than it was because that wouldn't be honest.
I have learnt a lot as a mum but one of my greatest lessons has been this. It's ok for things to not be as rosy and as fabulous as you are led to believe. It's ok if your labour experience wasn't full of strength and empowerment and magic. It's ok if you don't enjoy being a mum straight away and it's ok if you don't instantly love your baby.
Most importantly, it's ok if the day your baby was born isn't the best day of your life... that's because there are so many days to follow that totally kick it's arse!