It’s been months since I wrote about my first pregnancy, and well over a year since that journey ended, because my story of becoming a mum started. After I’d given birth, the event itself was pretty much all I could think about, and although the passage of time leads to memories finding little storage spots within your mind, for me, the way I felt has remained present. Perhaps you’ve noticed women talking about their own experience of birth decades after it’s happened. I know my Nanna used to, even fifty years later. I personally started to write about birthing my son days after I did, when my mind was consumed by it. The details were so vivid and I didn’t ever want to forget them. I mostly wrote about the way I felt, because that was the part that surprised me the most. I only finished writing recently (due to my little treasure occupying most of my attention, almost all of the time!), and as it would feel odd to skip past the most momentous event in my life, I’ve decided to share it..
At 5:10am on Sunday 21st February 2021, I saw my baby boy for the first ever time. He was held up in front of me directly after I’d given birth to him, and I was utterly amazed by the sight. I couldn’t take my eyes away from him, as I took in every part of him. His little scrunched face. The wisps of hair. His tiny pink fingers. His legs still curled up. The cord connecting us. He was laid onto my chest where he spent the first two hours of his life, and made the most profound impact on mine. The physical relief was absolutely immense. The discomfort and pressure that I had experienced during the later stages of my pregnancy was instantly gone. The pain of giving birth completely vanished, and replaced with the most overwhelming senses of relief, protection and affection, as this warm little bundle snuggled into me.
He’s here. Our baby. I love him.
But there were three feelings that I absolutely wasn’t prepared to experience at that time, and I’ve kept them close to my heart until now..
I had worried about so many things in the run up to having my first baby, which is both understandable and normal. One of the big ones for me personally was “what if I’m no good at looking after him?”. I used to wonder what would happen if I found myself not knowing what to do, and how useless I might feel, but the second I met Jasper, I felt in tune with him. I felt like I knew what he wanted. Most surprisingly of all, I didn’t doubt myself. Not when I picked him up for the first time, nor when I fed him, when we brought him home, or when we took him to bed that very first night. I was shocked by how at ease I felt and how seamlessly I transitioned from ‘pregnant Bex’ to ‘Mummy’. Don’t get me wrong – it was surreal going from bump to baby so quickly, and essentially becoming a different person in the process, but it felt right. It was instinctive, intuitive and even though it was the most positive unexpected feeling, I would have worried a lot less during my pregnancy if I’d known it was coming.
It’s quite funny thinking back, but after I had given birth, I lay there feeling like I’d just performed magic. I was amazed by what my body had done, and who it had delivered into my arms. A baby. A real baby. Our baby. All 9 pounds and 14 ounces of him! I kept looking down at my deflating tummy and later at my tired eyes in the mirror, and I felt an undeniable beam of pride. It was something I’d never felt before and something I definitely didn’t expect to feel right then. As Brits, we don’t ‘do’ pride very well, and as an individual, I have only experienced small bouts of it in my life. But right then, when I had expected to feel nothing but soreness, pain and exhaustion, I honestly felt incredible.
This feeling is probably the most personal one of all. I knew there would be some element of fear after I’d given birth but I didn’t expect it in this context. I thought I’d be fearful of motherhood itself, and the responsibility of having such a young baby to care for, but I was actually scared by the prospect of losing my little family. In hindsight, it was actually quite irrational. I would think “what would I do if something happened to them both?” and I’d feel an overwhelming urge to check they were safe. Maybe it’s common. Maybe I experienced it because I lost someone extremely important to me a month before I felt pregnant. I don’t really know. It only lasted a few days, and I could certainly see the positive side to it. It showed me just how quickly my little family had become my whole world, how happy I was to have them both in my life, and how complete I felt in the new role they had given me.
I can honestly say that giving birth was the most challenging, rewarding, emotional and incredibly empowering experience of my life. The combination of determination, relief, love and pride that flowed through me was so intense, and I have never felt as alive as I did when I gave life. So the next time you hear a horror story, remember that there are really good and positive ones out there to be heard too, and in amongst the crazy adventure, there are absolutely amazing feelings to experience.