Written by Kim Harycki
Kim was one of our receptionists (past employee) for Dr Michaela Lee at the Wesley Medical Center
I was a career driven woman who never thought of babies until I met my husband in my late 30s. Then it was a process to fall pregnant. Who would have thought? I spent most of my life trying not to fall pregnant, only to find a technical nightmare when I was finally ready.
Pregnancy was a breeze for me until the last trimester when I was told my baby wasn’t growing as it should and I would have to be induced. What.does.that.mean?! I went straight to “Dr Google” and had my head filled with worst case scenarios.
I was induced without drama and when my baby was born he was the most amazing thing I had ever seen and held in my life. It was instant love. Then the umbilical cord was cut and he struggled to breathe and turned blue. There was a mad dash by Nurses, Doctors and Paediatricians to get him in an incubator and moved to the NeoNatal Ward for care. What.does.that.mean?! I have never felt grief like I did at that moment. Total elation – to grief.
My baby was in NeoNatal Care for 12 days and is perfectly fine now. Looking back now, I am not sad that it happened because it really made me appreciate the small things, which I may have otherwise taken for granted. Even to this day my Husband and I always appreciate and document big and small events – grateful that we have the opportunity to.
A few days after being home, I had post partum concerns and ended up back in hospital for 5 days. Sigh.
So finally at home and after the visitors stop coming and life settles into some form of normality – I feel….lonely. Curiously, even with the support of my husband, family and friends.
What Happened to my Life?
I had a very busy work life liaising and negotiating with people all day, every day. And now….nothing. The phone hardly rings as people don’t want to disturb me and it’s just me and bub during the day. The bustling life I knew is no more. But that’s okay I have something more precious to focus on. But it’s….hard. I know you’re not supposed to say out loud that it’s hard to cope – but it is!
Everyone is trying to settle into normality with little or no sleep. I had no idea what sleep deprivation was like until I experienced it first hand. Horrific is the only adjective that comes to mind! It is an extremely difficult period to get through and it feels like it will never end – but it does.
My mantra: People before me have experienced it and survived. It’s not forever.
Where’s the manual?
I can honestly say that I had no idea what I was doing. I was stumbling through day to day barely getting by and being grateful because I actually kept my baby alive that day and I managed “some” sleep.
I’d read all the books but was perplexed as to why my baby wasn’t cooperating? Why won’t it stop crying? I found myself saying things like “what am I doing wrong”, “why can everyone else cope and I can’t”.
The truth is that others aren’t coping, they just choose not to say so. Which is okay .. but it doesn’t help you when you think you are the only one on the planet who can’t do this. You’re not! You’re not alone.
Things your friends don’t tell you!
I remember the exact moment when I came out of the fog and everything fell into place and I felt like “I’ve got this – I CAN do it” – finally. I turned to a friend and asked why she didn’t warn me about how hard parenting would be. She said “because you may never have wanted to fall pregnant, and everyone has their own journey”.
So this is my take on parenthood:
- Parenting is the hardest job you will ever do.
- You will experience sleep deprivation – the likes of which you have never, EVER known.
- You will feel alone and scared.
- You will feel helpless at times.
- You will feel frustrated and angry.
- You will cry, and the baby will cry, and you will cry because the baby is crying.
- But .. it is the BEST thing you will ever do and you will experience the most joyous moments that life has to offer.
I found a new mantra: Be kind to yourself. Keep reminding yourself that you’re a great mum and you are doing the best you can for you and your family.
Just remember that you are a person who needs TLC too. It is important to make sure you take the time to look after yourself otherwise your responsibilities become overwhelming.
Expecting a child can be daunting. We all want to do the right thing by our family and in turn we can put a lot of pressure and guilt on ourselves as mothers. I know because I’ve been there!
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and it’s always good to reflect on other/s experiences. If you could go back in time to just before you had your first child (your pregnant self), what advice would you give yourself?
On reflection, this is my advice to my pregnant self prior to having my first child. Always remember:
- Forgive yourself – you’re only human
- You will make mistakes – just remember that you are doing your best
- You’re not alone
- It’s okay to be scared
- It’s okay to say out loud that you’re not coping
- This too shall pass
- Sleep will return
- The housework can wait
- Take time for yourself – it’s okay to want a break
- Trust your instincts – “you” are your family’s expert
- Be present – children grow quickly
- Enjoy yourself – these moments are rare and precious
It’s okay to admit when you’re not coping. There are organisations to help if it all gets too much and you can’t pull yourself out of the darkness. The best thing you can do for your family is to be brave enough to seek the help you need. Speak to your Doctor or Family Health Nurse about practical health management as they can provide you with assistance or arrange for the assistance of a Specialist.