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  • jdettmann

A Month


Garnet has one elf ear. The other is a human ear. We are unsure what, if anything, to make of this.

Garnet’s 24 days old. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster so far: lots of screaming and vomit. The screaming as been me, mostly, but the vomit’s all down to him.

He has, thus far, been a very easy baby, which is extremely fortunate because I haven’t been an easy mother. Yesterday the GP had me do a multiple choice misery quiz – like those old Cosmopolitan quizzes about what kind of a lover you are, except more about how much you hate everything — which I totally aced, so now I get to sport the label ‘postnatal depression’ and take some pills and have some counselling.

The counselling part I am fine with, because I have a counsellor who is wise and kind beyond all measure and I know she will help me out of this place of hopelessness and despair. The pills part scares the bejesus out of me, even though I’m taking a drug that’s safe for breastfeeding and it’s a very low dose. I just wish I could be a temple of purity and this feed my innocent babe only the purest breastmilk, devoid of all toxins. But I am smart enough to realise that the purest breastmilk from the saddest mother is not as good for my little boy as a trace amount of an antidepressant from a better functioning, more balanced mum, who isn’t always weeping and shouting at his father and sister, neither of whom deserve shouting at.

I haven’t felt at all like writing since he was born, preoccupied as I have been with imagining scenarios of death and destruction for my family, refusing to leave the house and suchlike. But today I feel like writing something positive, so I will tell you a bit about Garnet’s birth.

Up until I was 39 weeks pregnant I clung to the belief that I would wait to go into labour naturally and attempt a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean). My doctor was happy for me to do so, and I told myself that of course I would eventually start having contractions and when I did so I would labour peacefully and with admirable strength and fortitude at home for a while, then we’d drive to the hospital and be met with the exciting news that I was fully dilated and ready to push out the baby. Sure there might be a small tear (the kind that rhymes with ‘down there’, not that rhymes with ‘fear’) and I might need some pain relief, but it would all be fine and I’d be hailed as a hero. Where, exactly, my excruciating pelvic pain that hadn’t allowed me to roll over in bed without searing agony for weeks, never mind push out a baby, figured in this scenario, I cannot say. I think I thought the contraction pain would cancel out any other pain.

But as my due date crept closer, and I became more and more immobile due to pain, I started to reassess. I read more and realised that I was in fact in danger of doing myself some serious and possibly lasting damage if I gave birth vaginally, with my pelvis in such a state. The baby wasn’t measuring particularly big at this stage, but it certainly wasn’t looking on the small side either. In a late ultrasound, we were told the baby’s head was smaller in circumference than its tummy, which suggested it might also have big shoulders and be at risk for getting stuck once the head was out. I didn’t want to risk the baby’s health and I didn’t fancy spending the first weeks of his life on crutches or in a wheelchair.

All of which is the long way of saying that in the end, H and I decided I would give birth by Caesarean section. And thank God we did, because Garnet was just over four kilos when he was born.

I’ll tell you more about the actual birth another day, but I wrote all that a week ago and it’s taken me this long to come back to finish it, so I’m going to just post it. A blog post is not much use just sitting in my drafts folder. But that week has given me the chance to start taking my cheer-up pills and they are already starting to work. Garnet was a month old yesterday. Things are looking up. And sometimes they are giving me little smiles.

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