Friday, May 27, 2011

Feeling Numb

Those first couple of weeks after you've had a baby can be scary. At first everyone wants to come and visit while you're in hospital and there are nurses and doctors and other patients to talk to, but what about when you go home?

The night I went home, I remember sitting on the couch, feeding the baby and then thinking 'What do I do now?' The hospital had given me bags of samples and pamphlets, but they hadn't actually said what I do when I got home.

My mum had gone back home, partner was on a business trip and I was sitting there alone, feeling really, really alone. I had the baby, but all he did was feed and sleep.

I remember feeling numb. I wasn't really happy, sad, anything. Nothing was registering any emotion. I was just there, doing what needed to be done and not feeling anything. I knew I loved the baby, but the feelings were just numb.

I was like this for 2 weeks. The maternal and child health nurse came to visit and told me this was often the case after a traumatic birth. I felt like all my feelings had been turned off. There were times I thought I'd be like that forever. Maybe this was what motherhood was.

People that came to visit were a bit of a blur. They were so excited and wanted to hold the baby and sit and talk, but most of those conversations were lost to me. I would remember someone had been there when I saw a card or gift they left.

I clearly remember the Thursday my feelings were suddenly and overwhelmingly turned back on. I felt so much love for my child and my partner, I felt like I might explode from loving them so much. My body had to turn off these feelings for those first weeks for my own sanity. I had to get through the basics of looking after the baby without all those feelings, or nothing would have been done.

Some people say this numbness is a form of post natal depression, others say it is a form of shock after what your body has been through. I was very lucky to have a fantastic maternal and child health nurse, who told me I was in shock and kept a close eye on me for when those feelings came back.

When my feelings came back they ALL came back, all at once. I was definitely making up not for feeling anything for 2 weeks. There were lots of tears, but not of sadness, just of love and being completely over run by feeling.

There were only a few others in our mother's group who had this experience. They were also the ones who had difficult births. Some people only felt numb for a few days, some for a month, but everyone got the sudden onset of feeling everything in an explosive, overwhelming way.

Now when a friend has a baby, I try not to go into the hospital, unless they specifically ask me to. I suggest they ask the hospital if they have Look@MyBaby and use it as a way of keeping the visitors away from hospital and saving them for when you're at home, maybe feeling alone or wondering what you are supposed to do now.

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