My Story: I had a relatively good pregnancy at the beginning but it gradually got harder the bigger I got. My husband was convinced that I was going to go into labour early because he didn't think I could get any bigger. My hips were really sore so sleeping for the last month was difficult so when my waters broke two weeks early I was relieved.
I didn't go into labour naturally so I was induced into an intense and fast labour. Just under 11 hours later my daughter was born. She seemed so small at just 5 pounds and 12 ounces and although I felt an overwhelming desire to protect her and nurture her, I didn't get that rush of love I was expecting.
I had to stay in hospital for 24 hours because we were both at risk of infection. It was so difficult to get my daughter to feed from my breast so the first few feeds were from a syringe. It wasn't what I'd been expecting. I just assumed I'd be one of the mums whose just naturally good at breastfeeding.
I did as much skin to skin as I could manage in my tired state and although I had lots of milk, my daughter struggled to gain weight because she wouldn't latch to me. I tried to feed her and when she wouldn't feed from me I gave her milk I'd expressed, then had to go and express ready for the next feed. I was so exhausted and had little support from my husband who told me he wouldn't help with the night time feeds.
At 10 days postpartum I suddenly started to feel really unwell. It felt like a mixture of indigestion and stomach cramps. I was sent to hospital where I stayed for 14 hours waiting for a diagnosis. My parents came and comforted me and we all sat on hard plastic chairs. My husband sent me pictures of our daughter's first bath, something he did without me while I was in the hospital, and I cried. Not because I missed my baby, but because I hadn't slept for more than two hours in a row since the morning of my labour. A part of me was relieved to have a break.
I was sent home that night with instructions to return the next day. They poked, prodded and scanned but to no avail and was sent home again, this time with antibiotics for a suspected water infection. I was advised against breastfeeding whilst taking the antibiotics. This was the straw that broke the camel's back. I couldn't bare the thought that I would have to express all that milk just to watch it wash away. I gave in and we swapped to formula.
When she was six weeks old, during a 4 am feed I sat up alone telling my daughter how beautiful she was when I got that first magical smile. That's when I started to feel like I was falling in love with this tiny person. Up until that point she was pretty indistinguishable from other babies as far as I was concerned but every smile showed me a new piece of her personality.
She's 8 months old now and has a very distinct character. When I take her to her swimming lessons she's known as the baby who spends the whole time trying to lap up the water like a puppy! With every month it gets easier, but I still feel incredibly lonely and often unsupported.
Penny Ursa | Cardiff, South Wales, UK | Mama to Adi, 8 months