******Reposted in its entirety from my original blog******
So for my beautiful baby boy it was a serene start to life. He was peaceful, happily lying in my arms as though he hadn’t even noticed that he’d been born. I remember the midwife commenting what a beautiful colour he was, and if the birth notes are anything to go by his birth gave him a great start with him scoring a 9, 10 &10 on his APGAR tests. Unfortunately his peaceful begining was interrupted momentarily by Justin deciding to turn on the main lights, which immediately startled the baby into crying pitifully. I shouted at him to turn them off and cuddled my little boy closer to me and watched him settle down again as the room once again darkened. We sat there together in the water waiting for the cord to stop pulsating, both enjoying each other’s warmth. I don’t remember much of what was said to me, Margo I think said words along the lines of the fact that I’d done it exactly how I wanted to, and I think Jo was saying how beautiful he was. I was just sitting there rather shocked by it all, looking at this skinny little boy, who seemed to be all arms and legs wondering what life would be like now he was here. I do remember how little Justin said though, no words of congratulations, no well done. I had such joy and sadness for this little boy, I was wrapped up in a thousand thoughts as I sat there holding him, and would have happily had everyone go away and leave us to it for a bit. Instead though I remember commenting on how peaceful he was, only to have the second midwife, who I’d only just become aware of, make some sarcastic comment about how it didn’t sound peaceful from outside the house. I took an immediate dislike to her and feebly explained that I meant that the baby was so peaceful. I’m sure we talked about names, and I said that I was undecided. I didn’t feel capable of deciding anything at that time, but did think that he didn’t look like a Zachary to me; in fact he reminded me so much of Elliot when he was born it was almost uncanny. I eventually noticed that the cord had stopped pulsating and Margo got everything ready to cut it. Justin (with warnings from Margo to watch he was cutting the right thing!), cut through it and my little boy started out his life on his own.
I climbed out of the pool shortly afterwards. We’d run out of towels by this point so I had a blanket thrown over me as I sat on the old mattress and waited for the placenta (I’d chosen to have a physiological third stage, so was waiting for it to deliver naturally). I was feeling very shaky and subdued. The stinging that I felt was intense and I was sure that I’d torn badly. The baby was wrapped up and the second midwife said about weighing him and getting him dressed, I had no strength left to even consider that this wasn’t what I wanted and didn’t say anything more than “oh, ok”, but thankfully Margo stepped in and said that I wanted some skin to skin time with him. I tried breastfeeding, which he seemed to get the hang of immediately, and straight away started feeling the after pains. Everyone had a cuddle as I sat there in an ever-increasing pool of blood (I’d barely noticed, but Margo commented). Eventually Margo said that she thought that the placenta was sitting right there, but it wasn’t coming out because of the way I was sitting. The second midwife took the baby off to be weighed and measured and to have his vitamin K injection whilst Margo had a look. I was really upset to miss him being weighed, especially as I’d missed Lilia’s first weigh as well, but was too tired and battered to argue. Margo said that the placenta was just sitting there and pulled on the cord to get it out. I asked to have a look at it and was surprised by how small it was. She showed us the baby’s side, then turned it over and was quite shocked to find out how bad it looked. She said that it was really calcified and looked at the end of its life. I was really taken aback, especially as he was early, and it’s niggled away at me since, was that why I had so many contractions? Was my body trying to give birth to the baby before it was too late? She then said that she had to check me for tearing. I was dreading hearing how bad it was. I couldn’t believe it when she told me that I only had one tiny tear on the left where I could feel the stinging, but it didn’t need stitching. I couldn’t believe that I’d avoided tearing badly… she told me what a great job I’d done of breathing him out, and that I’d done everything perfectly.
I’d like to say that this made me glow with an inner pride, or that I felt like I’d realised a dream, but at the time I just remember feeling a little sad and a lot tired. I don’t think that I particularly felt sad about anything specific, but I guess what was missing was just so painfully obvious to me. I guess it sounds a little pathetic to let anything over shadow such a wonderful event as the birth of your own child, but I just felt so emotionally vacant. It may have been the exhaustion, but I think that it was more that I was in a kind of shock that it had all happened, as only a few hours previously I had been out with my friends. There was certainly a definite sense of everything being unreal, and that I was very removed from everything going on around me.
I was helped into a very shallow bath to clean up a little, I’d wanted a shower but the midwives were against the idea as I’d lost a fair amount of blood. Whilst I tried to get the blood that had dried on my legs off I suddenly just felt consumed by how utterly exhausted I was, drained of every ounce of energy. I had none of the almost drug like energy I had after Lilia’s birth, and could barely muster up enough emotional energy to feel anything tangable at all. The second midwife said something about having scratched him with the vitamin K needle, but that he weighed 3.44kgs and was 56cms long. I’m sure I remarked how similar he was to Elliot again, as the weight was almost identical. I got dressed and I was helped upstairs and sat on the sofa cuddling him and smelling his hair, which still smelt of amniotic fluid. I remember finding that faintly reassuring for some reason. I dressed him in the little clothes that I’d put out, which had been warmed on the hot water bottle and cuddled him close. Margo had told me that she’d felt a hand wiggling about when she was checking me as his head was being born, which explained the perfect impression of a hand that was on the left side of his cheek. He also had some burst blood vessels on his face, which was the only really sign that he’d just been through anything like a traumatic experience! He had a perfectly round head with a head full of dark hair, and the longest fingers that I’d ever seen. His fingernails were long as well, but seemed to curve down onto the top of his fingers, so they didn’t look like regular nails at all. His feet as well were long and skinny; nothing like the big paws that Elliot was born with, and they complimented his long thin arms and skinny little legs and tummy perfectly. All in all he was a long skinny bean of a baby.
After piling the towels up and throwing away everything that needed to be thrown the midwives left us at about 5.30am with strict instructions that I should be on complete rest for at least 24 hours. Jo left shortly after. I texted a load of people to let them know that he’d been born and was surprised to get a few replies back straight away (from the mums that were up early with their children!). Justin carried on being moody and sullen with me, making a big fuss about having to empty the birthing pool, even though I’d explained time and time again how to do it. Eventually a couple of loads of laundry were put on and Justin started the washing machine (although he had started one a little earlier when I was in the pool which both irritated me and amused me at the time!). At some point, probably about 6.30am we went to bed with the baby swaddled and put in the moses basket which Justin had made up. Of course the kids woke up shortly afterwards and I got Justin to go and get the video camera and the camera. I was so pleased to get their reaction to meeting their little brother on camera. I told them that something very special had happened when they were asleep and that they should go and look in the moses basket. Elliot guessed that the baby had arrived straight away and was jumping up and down saying that he had a baby brother. Lilia kept saying baby over and over again, desperate to touch his head (and his eyes and nose!). Justin got them breakfast whilst I dozed for half an hour or so listening to the noise. As soon as they’d finished they both came bowling upstairs again for another look, so I got up and brought him down and let them both have a hold. By about 9am I decided that it was time to phone Justin’s parents and made a big fuss of Elliot saying that as he was such a big boy he could tell them. Justin’s mum answered the phone and Elliot immediately said, “I’ve got a baby brother”. His mum took a few second to register what she was being told, and of course started asking him a hundred questions that Elliot couldn’t answer, so I took the phone and filled her in. She seemed pretty keen to come over so I said that she could, and then phoned his sister and let Elliot tell her in the same way. I also tried phoning my brother, but got no answer, so assumed he was still in bed.
I then got on with trying to straighten up the house a bit and had a shower. I got Justin to help me out of the shower, not because I needed help, but to try and remind him that I had just given birth in the pathetic hope that it might actually trigger some kind of protective or at least sympathetic response from him… it didn’t. We had a quick visit from the midwife just to check that we were both ok and then I got back on with everything that still needed to be done. I was still washing up by the time Justin’s family got here, and listened with some amusement, and some resentment as they made a massive fuss of him and went on about how tired he must be. After finishing mopping I went upstairs, finally had some breakfast (it was lunchtime by this point… of course Justin hadn’t even thought about offering me anything) and grinned my way through the visit. I gave the baby a little wash and washed his hair in the sink to get the worst of the gunk off. They kept saying that I should go to bed and have a nap, but by this point I was expecting my brother (who had phoned and said that he was going to cycle over), and Lisa who said she was in the area so could she just pop in, so I didn’t really see the point. After Lisa had left (with a hangover from the night before) and impressively managed not to kill Justin’s mum who’d gone on and on stressing about how Lisa should look out for the baby’s head to the seasoned mum of two, (and of course made comments about how this baby should have Justin’s surname *sigh*), I decided to go for a quick nap. I fell asleep almost immediately, but was woken about half an hour later by Lilia asking to get up from her nap (judging from the level of noise from downstairs no one had heard her) so dragged myself reluctantly out of bed and took her downstairs. My brother had arrived by this time, and Justin had just got back from going to get a birthday cake (my suggestion to keep Elliot happy and to find a way that the kids could celebrate the baby’s arrival). During the course of the day we’d discussed the fact that the poor baby still had no name. Names that we hadn’t even considered before got suggested… Declan, Finn and Maddox (a name I got stuck on for a while for some reason) amongst others. The only thing I was certain of was the fact that Zachary just didn’t feel right, which seemed bizarre to me as I’d loved the name for years and had kind of decided that it would be our boy’s name. One name that did keep coming into my head was Dominic, for some reason to me he just looked like a Dominic. We’d mentioned it in passing when drawing up our names list and both agreed that we’d liked it, but it had never really been seriously considered. I mentioned in passing that I thought that it suited him, and was really surprised to find that everyone agreed with me. Even Jo, when I texted her (who’d originally not liked the name as it reminded her of Demonic!) said that she had to concur that she thought that it suited him. I was determined not to make any decisions until I’d had time to sleep on it though. I knew how tired I was and I didn’t want to make a mistake and end up calling him a name that I’d cringe when using in years to come.
By early evening I finally got up enough courage to phone my parents and tell them the news. I managed to time it perfectly and got my mum (my dad was out rather remarkably). I was completely shocked when she actually reacted with some emotion about it all and seemed pretty proud that I’d done it drug free and at home. I got off the phone to her feeling positive for the first time in a very long time!
Eventually it was time to get the kids fed and ready for bed, at which point Justin’s parents left and Justin informed me that as I hadn’t told him not to, he was going to work the next day so he wasn’t going to get up and help at all in the night if I needed a hand. I raised my eyebrows but just left it, that was until the kids were in bed and he flopped down in front of the TV, and opened a beer and watched me get the hoover out without offering to help… that was him done for the night it seemed! I thought for a moment, and then realised that he was just going to use the house as somewhere to stay, leaving me to clean up the house after all the visitors and put the birth pool and things away completely by myself. Enough was enough, so I sent him home (not that he understood for one second why) and I spent until about 12am sorting the rest of the house out so at least the pool was cleaned and deflated, and the floors and bathroom were back to being completely clean. I went to bed completely and utterly exhausted. Luckily the baby only woke a few times and I sat there nodding off as I fed him. I propped myself up determined to get his latch right, he was a pro from day one though, and only needed a little bit of guidance before he was on and sucking with all his might.
The next day could have been disastrous, with me being so utterly exhausted and the kids still getting used to the baby being around, but thankfully it all seemed to go very well. Elliot was just so precious with him, almost being over keen to help, and Lilia, whilst clinging to me a lot of the day, was equally as thrilled with him, constantly talking about ‘the baby’ and grabbing my belly and laughing as she shook it! In fact the only problems I seemed to have was both of them fighting over who got to hold him next. It amused me greatly to see Lilia lifting her top up saying that she was going to give the baby milk when he cried. The baby of course hardly ever cried as he was so rarely awake. He was so sleepy in fact that it was difficult to get much of a feed into him at all, so I went with the little and often approach. The fact that he was so sleepy made life much easier though, and was probably my saving grace… well that and the TV which I have to admit was on rather a lot during the day. The kids got toast for their dinner, as I started what seemed like the enormous operation to do a bath for all three of them. I got everything that I figured I’d need ready, got the older two in and then stripped off the baby. To say that he wasn’t particularly happy is probably a slight understatement. He cried his little heart out. Needless to say his first bath was short and sweet! He calmed down as soon as I swaddled him up and held him though, and I quickly got him dressed and then attempted to wash the kid’s hair and clean their teeth as quickly as humanly possible while he cried in his bouncy chair. I certainly learnt a valuable lesson… get the older kids sorted first! We all came out of it relatively unscathed and I managed to get the kids into bed with the baby coming along for the ride.
Despite being busy with the kids, all that day I’d had the prospect of his name hanging over me. I’d gone over dozens of possibilities in my mind, but was still coming back to Dominic all the time, even though I hadn’t had the guts to try using it on him yet. Elliot had decided that his name should be Gary(!), no idea where that one came from, and every time I asked him what he thought of Dominic as a name he just said “No, he’s called Gary”! Elliot had also taken to talking about “borney babies” (meaning newborn babies) telling me what I’d told him, about how they sleep a lot and need lots of cuddles and have milk from their mummy’s boobies! It was too sweet for me to want to correct him, so he still refers to newborns as being borney!
Justin came over that evening, and boy what an evening it was!!! The baby was so unsettled and just wanted to be held all night. I’m guessing he was getting hungry and was frustrated that my milk hadn’t come in. Unfortunately when he started crying, he woke Lilia up, who got hysterical (even more so when Justin started shouting at her and generally losing it with everyone). Every time I settled her, the baby would cry which would set her off which would set Justin off. I ended up awake all night with Lilia curled up with me on one side and the baby on my chest. The next morning was school for Elliot, and despite the tiredness (although Justin kept going on and on and on about how tired he was… even though he’d ended up sleeping on the sofa, hadn’t given birth a couple of days before and had a full night’s sleep the night before!), we managed to get them all up, fed and dressed and to school on time, and in time enough for me to show the baby off who was curled up in the sling. It was so lovely having people coo and fuss over him, and of course they couldn’t believe that I was doing the school run only a couple of days after having given birth. From there we popped by the pre-school to show him off to everyone who had been at the quiz on the Friday night. I definitely felt like a proud mother!
That morning my boobs had started to feel really sore, and I knew that my milk was coming in. By the evening they were triple the size and just agonising. In fact they were so swollen that they looked like plastic porn star boobs and I had to resort to using the nursing bras that I’d had from feeding Elliot which were enormous. Latching the baby on became a bit of a challenge, but they were so sore that I was literally itching to have him feed all the time. I wasn’t going to complain too much though as that night the baby, obviously with a slightly more satisfied tummy slept much better, going to bed with me at about 11 and only waking up twice in the night to feed. Justin went to his parents again as he was back at work on the Tuesday, but stayed long enough to help out with the bath so everything seemed to go a little smoother (except when he shouted at the kids as they weren’t doing what he was demanding of them!). On the Tuesday morning, having finally managed to sleep (for the first time since the birth!) I admitted to myself what I’d known since I first mentioned that I thought that the baby looked like a Dominic, that there was no way his name could be anything else! I sat there snuggled in bed with him and finally allowed myself to call him Dominic, it felt strange calling him it as I wasn’t used to the name at all, but I knew it was the right name for him.
It felt like a delicious secret that I knew his name and no one else did. Knowing that so many people were waiting to find out though, I knew I had to share it. I told Elliot over breakfast, and text Justin and just checked that he was definitely sure that he was ok with the name Dominic Thomas (Thomas is my brother’s middle name). He was, and wanted to know if he could start telling people that that was his name. By the time we were walking to school (after having gone through none of the hassle of the day before when Justin was helping us!), I again brought it up with Elliot who finally concurred that he liked the name Dominic and that the baby could be called that but we should say Dominic Gary. I told as many people as I could at school, which confused a couple of teachers who had been told by Elliot that the baby was be called Gary. Everyone seemed to like the name, although I was sure that they wouldn’t have told me even if they didn’t!
I also finally moved to using cloth nappies. He’d stopped passing meconium and was onto the seedy watery poo that paper nappies just can’t seem to contain very well. I was definitely glad to see the back of the tarry poos, especially because I’m a bit of freak in the fact that I actually quite like the smell of breast-fed baby poo… I’m not saying that I’m a closet nappy sniffer or anything, but it’s certainly not an unpleasant smell!
That night Dominic (it felt so much nicer to not just be referring to him as ‘the baby’ all the time, although I did keep forgetting what he was called when people asked me!) again slept well until about 4am, then he was awake and unsettled until I cuddled him close to me and we both slept like that for the rest of the morning… well I say we slept, he slept beautifully, whilst as I dozed fitfully, fully aware that there was a delicate little body next to me. On Thursday the midwife turned up to do his heel pick test and to check us both over again. He’d lost a bit of weight dropping down to 7lbs 1oz , and she commented on the fact that he was still quite jaundiced (something that had started soon after he was born) which she thought was probably why he was still quite sleepy and difficult to keep awake during feeds. He cried a little having his heel prick done, but soon settled down again. Thursday night Justin again stayed, but managed to somehow engineer it so he slept on the sofa so he had another good night’s sleep.
Luckily the next day I got a great pick me up when I decided to try and get into a pair of my normal trousers. I’ve refused to wear maternity clothes since he was born, but had been living in a larger sized trousers and tracksuit bottoms. I managed to do up the trousers with relative ease, and even better, the engorgement had finally gone down and I could get into a normal sized bra… ahhh to not look like blow up doll anymore!!! I was actually quite amazed by how quickly my stomach was going down. It still stuck out a bit right at the top, but that was where the stomach muscles had separated, and the bottom bit was a bit baggy… you know the old deflated balloon look, but it wasn’t bad at all compared to the state my body was in after the birth of the other two. I actually felt quite good about my body, which was so bizarre considering that normally that’s the one thing that you DO normally cry over after giving birth! Also I found Dominic’s cord in his nappy that morning which was good as I think it had been catching and hurting him a bit. Justin attempted to help out with the school run and ended up shouting at everyone and almost making us all late. Quite how it can actually be harder when someone is meant to be helping I don’t know! Luckily the sling came to the rescue and my poor starving child fell straight asleep even though I’d not had time to feed him. Justin did have some uses though and I sent him home to hoover (he managed one floor and left the rest) and search out some old clothes of Elliot’s whilst I took Lilia to play some girly games with Ruth’s daughters.
By Friday night I couldn’t believe that almost a week had flown past already. It made me feel quite panicky that Dominic’s little newborn phase would whiz past without me having any time to appreciate it, I just seemed to have a permanent list of things that had to be done right away, and no where was it pencilled in that I could spend some quality time just being with Dominic. Of course in retrospect I’m actually quite lucky in the fact that I’ve had almost every evening with just him and me. The kid’s have been great and are asleep normally by 7-7.30 and if I work like a mad woman throughout the day I can normally engineer it so by the evening I’ve got everything I need to done (except for one load of nappies and my dinner) so I’m not constantly trying to fob Dominic off so I can get housework done. Of course still being a sleepy boy, he slept a lot of the early evening away on my v shaped cushion on the sofa, only demanding more from me towards the end of the week where he became a bit fussier during the evening. I absolutely treasured those early evenings, with the peace and quiet that only a house that’s been chaotic all day can have, exploring him, chatting to him, stroking his little hairy shoulders (and ears, he’s a bit of a werewolf like his big brother was!), holding his smooth, exceptionally long, little feet and letting those amazing fingers curl around mine. These are just such precious, precious moments that I wish I could hold onto forever. Only a mother could tell you the tiniest details about their baby… the fact that his eyes are a greyish blue, but look almost silver in certain lights, that his ears are perfectly flat against his head as though they’ve been super glued, and the fact that even a week after the birth, and six washes later his hair still smelt deliciously of amniotic fluid, and (a fact he’ll hate me for writing down) the fact that his willy looked like a maggot with a life of it’s own on occasions when he was getting ready to wee everywhere and it flip flopped about! Truly everything about a one week old is precious… even being one week post partum didn’t seem bad this time round, I could sit down without wincing, my blood loss had virtually stopped, I could fit into 50% of my normal wardrobe, I had under a stone in weight to lose to get back into the other 50% and my nipples were absolutely fine despite having the suction force of a hoover attached to them every 3 hours or so!
By the end of the first week I was exhausted, but truly felt like I’d bonded with Dominic. Just like my other children I adored him in his own unique way, but also felt fiercely protective of him, most probably because of my feelings of guilt over the circumstances of my pregnancy and his start to life. I don’t know how that will change as he gets older, but certainly for now, when he is so little and vulnerable I feel the need to protect him with every fibre of my being. I can’t bear the thought of him hurting in any way, but I especially don’t want him ever thinking that people don’t care about him… I guess it’s lucky that his mummy cares about him enough for both parents and both sets of grandparents… I just have to hope that until life deals me another hand, that’s enough for him.
Single Mummy to:
Elliot born 17th October 2002
Lilia born 22nd October 2004
And little Dominic born 30th September 2006