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EDITIONS
Thursday, 18 May, 2000, 11:14 GMT 12:14 UK
Diary of a new mother
Is it all worthwhile? Mandy and Anisha think so.
As Cherie and Tony Blair celebrate the arrival of their fourth child, BBC News Online's Health reporter Mandy Garner writes frankly about her experiences of becoming a parent for the first time.


Birth day:

no cigarettes. no alcohol. no chocolate. total calories: nil. pain: lots.

Due to go swimming in vain attempt to get fit for birth. Wimp out due to back pain. Pain gets worse and is accompanied by bleeding.

Ring hospital. Luckily brother lives nearby. Grabs hospital bag as I vomit into bath.

Go to hospital at school out time and unfortunately choose road with nine schools.

Brother sings Robbie Williams song to calm me down. Doesn't work. Collapse at hospital and rushed into operating theatre for general anaesthetic.

Midwife says baby would have died if had arrived at hospital 10 minutes later

Have eyes shut most of the time, but last thing hear before going under is when they put the anaesthesia mask on me and someone says 'it worked this morning'. They have to find another one.

Come to an hour or so later and partner is there.

Thought baby was dying and had horrible tube trip to get to hospital. Midwife says baby would have died if had arrived at hospital 10 minutes later - was suffocating and had cord wrapped tightly round neck twice.

Am totally groggy and mind not really on baby. Only sinks in days later that she spent first half hour of life with uncle talking about football and anarchism.

Not good start. Cannot drink for 24 hours, not even water.

Day two:

Anisha: Ruling the roost
no cigarettes. no alcohol. tea: pints. food: stodge. tiredness (0-10 scale): 5. drugs: on a painkiller high. Bowel movement (bm): nil. calories worn off due to exercise/maternity shuffle: 10.

First drink is tea, which hate, but drink about six cups.

Have catheter and drip attached. Told have to breast feed before 2am and left to it. Can barely move to pick the baby up out of the cot. Baby cries all night.

Have no idea if was doing breastfeeding right. Called nurse to help pick baby up, but get impression they are too busy for this so do not call next time.

Just shuffle down bed on bottom. Decide best bet is to keep baby in bed to avoid pain of taking her out of cot. Meet other caesarian sectionees on ward.

Stream of visitors, painkillers, blood pressure readings, macaroni cheese, etc. cannot move, but told have to.

Move to chair and am in such pain, have to move back.

Body locked in one position - breastfeeding position. Shown how to do baby bath, but am so groggy do not remember it.

Day three:

no cigarettes. no alcohol. food: stodge (eating for two: more lost through bosoms than gained). tiredness: 5

Next day, feel better and bosoms triple overnight with milk coming in.

Some relatives come to stay. Spend hours staring at baby crying... Women all secretly glad they are not the mother


Can move more and limp to phone. Major achievement. More tea, more visitors and midwife telling me have to wind baby with more conviction, whacking baby on back.

I cannot bring myself to more than gentle tap. Next day baby has to have jaundice test, but is okay.

Do BM and remove caesarian bandage in one outing. Come back with victory salute to fellow sectionees, feeling v. smug.

Sneak out of ward to coke machine downstairs which noticed on way in despite pain - must be addict.

Smuggle coke upstairs and under pillow. Fear that will be thought devil incarnate as am sure coke is on a par with poison for breastfeeding mothers.

Day four:

no cigarettes. no alcohol. no tea. food: midnight pizza. tiredness: 4

Next day, discharged after examination by doctors/nurses/midwives, etc. No clothes fit baby who is v. small and still crying a lot.

Getting used to her slowly and already thinking in competitive terms about her being most beautiful etc baby on ward.

Fear will be ogre mother. Don't eat till midnight due to baby crying.

Terror that this is it and I won't cope. Also fear of cat suffocating baby.

Stay awake most of night with pillows making fortress around baby to protect from cat.

Partner empathises with cat and thinks locking him out of bedroom will mean he gets jealous.

First month:

cigarettes: nil. alcohol: nil. diet coke: several cans (need to stay awake). tiredness: 10+. drugs: lots. cravings: tuna and flapjacks (known to scour local area for fj shops - pregnant again?).

Develop infection which lasts two weeks.

Whatever happened to ambitions to travel/write novels/change world, etc? Too tired to care

Try to carry on regardless, eg, crawling round supermarket. Make forlorn figure, limping out of doctor's surgery with prescription for penicillin.

Lots of visitors. Some stay TOO LONG and have to cook and wash up for them.

So tired am falling asleep in breastfeeding position in bed and waking up two hours later in same position.

Too tired to change nappy in night. Feel guilty. Too tired to be nice to cat. Feel guilty. Develop craving for flapjacks.

Some relatives come to stay. Spend hours staring at baby crying. No-one has faintest idea what to do after trying everything and women all secretly think glad they are not the mother.

Think baby has colic. Try colic drops. Don't work. People suggest lots of weird things. People try to tempt me off the breastfeeding, saying 'you'll sleep better'.

Fantasise about cow and gate. Not allowed gripe water till one month so am counting hours. Feel gripe water will be The Answer (it isn't).

Slowly start to be able to walk more than 100 yards.

Have to walk everywhere as not allowed to drive for six weeks. After two weeks (when partner back at work), baby decides will not be put down for even one minute without crying and shuns moses basket.

Also decides will not sleep in bed on back. Will only sleep on mum. Back aches, but at least get some sleep. Feel guilty.

Sense of self as human being has disappeared. Spend weeks in pyjamas. Partner has also developed pyjama fetish (good thing got him pair for Christmas). Bosoms leaking all over place.

See midwife a lot, but seems to spend lot of time complaining about how much work she has.

Ditto health visitor. Feel do not exist.

Month two:

cigarettes: nil. alcohol: nil. curry: one. talking about baby: non-stop. number of newspapers not read but lying on floor: 100. tiredness: 10+. sleep fantasies: nil (too tired to use imagination). shopping trips: too many to count.

Go out without baby! Talk about baby entire time.

Success number two: get baby into cot by middle of month. Within days is sleeping from 9pm to 4am. Wow. Feel like new woman.

Still in DIY frenzy from pregnancy and starting to miss work.

Spend inordinate amount of time at shopping centres which would never have visited before. Ditto B & Q/Homebase. Was in Homebase on day of birth.

Is sad reflection of life. Whatever happened to ambitions to travel/write novels/change world, etc? Too tired to care.

Beginning to appreciate mother more. Feel am becoming a housewife, though cannot cook (except tuna). Have never envisaged self as housewife.

Back is killing me from walking miles with baby sling.

Obsess over articles on working mothers and feel totally depressed.

Start driving two weeks early due to foaming at mouth to get out and see world again.

Halfway through month, baby smiles. Feel sleepless nights are all worthwhile.

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.


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