Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The hazards of the Postnatal Ward

 It is raining again. This is Wales so admittedly this is hardly a newsflash although if it gets any worse I hear that midwives are planning on issuing all Welsh newborns with a cagoule...........Yes I am joking but wouldn't it make an interesting talking point on the postnatal ward? So much nicer than having to discuss the lady in the next bed's stitches or the contents of her baby's nappy  'should it be that colour?' Look, I know I am sleep deprived too but I am pretty sure I managed to put my pyjamas on after the birth and not a set of scrubs.

No, of course I didn't say that outright, I was far too nice to come out with any of my immediate thoughts so keeping them to myself I went with my second choice of smiling, while clucking soothingly. I then nipped out ostensibly to go to the loo whilst in reality I was commandeering the nearest staff member and propelling her in 'New Mum's'   direction to give her a few hints about which way up to hold her firstborn.  Lost looking inmate in the next bed got some in my opinion much needed help and I went back to putting my feet up with my cup of tea and the latest Martina Cole novel job done! (In case you are wondering my baby was fed changed and asleep - I had done this before you know!)

I know my friends, I love them dearly. They are the people I choose to spend time with so I am happy to have a cuppa and answer their questions about all things pregnancy, babies and breastfeeding.  I am delighted to share the knowledge I have gained, if it is of any use to you then you are welcome to it. If you want to follow my advice then please do and if it sounds like a load of old tosh then feel free to go your own merry way. I won't ever be offended because I pick and choose which advice I follow myself in the same way. Frankly I am touched that my friends ask however I am not the fountain of all knowledge, I am still learning too so if I do not know I will say so and I do not claim to always get things right.

 I am sure the bunch of strangers I have been bundled with are all lovely people in their own right but I have just given birth too, I am dealing with my own postnatal hormones right now and unlike them I know just how 'fun' that is going to get so please just leave me in the corner bed to work through it with a nice comforting box of Kleenex, I will be fine. Thank you!

And now having said that I am going to impart one very important piece of advice for after you have your second baby which for your own benefit you should choose to follow!

Seriously, never, ever under any circumstances let a ward full of first time mums know that you have already had a baby. When your children come to visit claim they are close relations but never admit to them being your own offspring. I know that temporarily disowning your firstborn does seem a tad cruel but this is self preservation, survival of the fittest and as the Greek proverb goes 'In the kingdom of the blind the one-eyed man is king' which roughly means that even if somebody is not perfect in something, in comparison to others who are worse than her, she is going to be considered the best!

 I warn you now if you let them in on this little detail you risk an onslaught of questions that an immigration officer would be proud of. A verbal battering to your eardrums all I might say while your own beautiful newborn is sound asleep because you do know which end to put the nappy on!

In prison you would be the top dog, on a postnatal ward you are considered a pro, an expert, she who has done it before and therefore can answer all the questions. It doesn't matter that you are as exhausted as they are probably even more so seeing as you already have children.   It also doesn't matter that you have forgotten most of what you learnt the first time around or you are just too knackered to remember it! The other members of the ward do not know that and so they charge round your bed like the Light Brigade in full force. If this was a post apocalyptic drama you would be their appointed leader. Oh goody!

 At any other time in my life I would have been thrilled to be so popular, right now no. I can honestly take my Head Girl hat off and tell you that I draw the line at discussing your 'ahem' vaginal loss before breakfast. Yes that is a true recollection. Over the course of three days I must have considered the consistency of more bodily fluids then your average pathologist. I only wish I was joking!

I as a second time Mummy have done this already, the novelty has worn off and I know that I am going home to a double workload. Two little people will be dependant on me and I have with that final push officially run out of hands. I know that when I get home I will be answering the calls of both baby and toddler in the night. I will be juggling a double buggy and a basket should I ever get brave enough to venture out to the shops and I may never drink an entire cup of tea before it gets cold so please forgive my selfishness in hoping that if your newborn is not enough to keep you occupied, the contents of your bounty pack might entertain you for ooh just five minutes because I deliberately left my child at home. Harsh, hell yes, As I've already told you this is self preservation.

Excuse me while I chuckle at the contents of the postnatal exercise sheet, amuse yourselves quietly while I take a quick shower, I know it is the last time I will get chance to shower in peace without said toddler trying to climb in too. The same goes for mealtimes, yes it has to be said hospital food is not the nicest but on the plus side it is a meal I have not had to cook for myself and I have the chance to eat it while it is hot so I am going to do just that. You can tell your visitors all about your piles/sore nipples or whatever other delights you feel unable to keep to yourself.  I do not want to know. I am busy enjoying a millisecond of peace and quiet before I return to my reality.

It is entirely possible that the second time mum decides on a hospital birth because it is the one time when you are guaranteed to get the bed to yourself. OK the baby might be there with you too but only if invited. I have yet to see a newborn clamber out of it's perspex crib and into your bed in the middle of the night. Toddlers yes they run to a different set of rules, toddlers are self centred. It is not your bed at all, it is their bed the instant they climb in and they merely allow you try and sleep there while they go through an aerobics routine that Mr Motivator would be proud of.

 Of course you can try and co-sleep with your newborn in hospital go on I dare you, it is a health and safety nightmare. The powers that be are so convinced the baby is going to fall out of bed that they insisted on one of those bed guards for keeping toddlers safe at night. I kid you not! This was taken out of a cupboard and attached to one side of the bed, the side I was feeding from. Baby fed, baby went to sleep, so did Mummy.......until a couple of hours later when baby woke up hungry, the first stage of a hungry baby being the ever so cute slight snuffling sound as she moves her head from side to side rooting for a breast.
Did Mummy drift out of her slumber just long enough to move baby onto the other side of the bed and offer the other boob as she would in the delightful privacy of her own home? No, because said Mummy was  under strict orders to call the Midwife and wait for her to move the bed guard to the other side of the bed.
 At home no one else is disturbed, in hospital my baby objecting at the delay has loudly just woken up half the ward and I am sure there are much more pressing matters for the Midwife to deal with too. What a palaver! Frankly I was too tired to object, I lay down and did as I was told resolving to get the hell out of there as soon as possible. Is it any wonder I favour home birth?

I have co-slept with all my babies at home. I refuse to apologise for this, I like my sleep. I am not going to and never have as one older mum told me I would, mislaid the baby in the bed. Neither have I ever woke up to find the baby on the floor.
 I have other children to care for, I need to be awake enough to get them to school without walking them all in front of a moving bus. I need some sleep to function just enough to get through the day relatively unscathed.
 As for the rest of you, well you can do as you jolly well please, if you don't like the idea then don't do it. Your baby your choice. I on the other hand won't care whatever you decide to do because I will be curled up with my baby enjoying a well earned snooze!

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