So our gorgeous little boy is two weeks old today and I know it’s a cliché but time really does go so quickly and he’s growing up so fast. We had the health visitor come to our house this morning to check him over and chart his weight and he is a glorious 8lbs 13oz now which is a 2oz gain since the other day when he was weighed.
The midwife was very sweet and polite but managed to turn me into a bag of nerves when she highlighted the dangers of cot death in babies. I was shocked to know that the death rate was higher in baby boys, and also second born babies for some reason, and also amongst those whose parents smoke for which I never have but Luca and visitors use the garden to smoke. Ever since she said that I’ve been somewhat emotional and wanting to wrap the children in cotton wool even more so than usual.
She also advised that he sleep on his back and shouldn’t wear a hat at all even when we go out unless it is extremely cold outside, and we’re not to swaddle him with blankets day or night because overheating can cause cot death. I have such a lump in my throat as I write this, I’m so scared of losing our helpless little boy for no reason at all, they don’t know what causes cot death exactly, but of their checklist of things to watch out for and avoid Gabriele has a full score for being most at risk and I feel sick.
All afternoon I’ve been watching him trying to soak in every detail and spend as much time with him as possible. I was already paranoid about something happening to him as it was but now my worry-o-meter is in overdrive. I felt awful after she said that and when she questioned me on what he eats, how often, how he passes wind and his nappies and frequency; I felt like I was being scrutinised and treated like a criminal as she said I shouldn’t have put him onto hungry baby milk because it makes young babies constipated and midwifes hate it, even though it’s suitable from birth onwards and has helped him to settle at night and he’s filling his nappies frequently.
And when she saw our Chihuahua she grilled me almost like a headmaster not to leave the baby alone with the dog and I wanted to shout “Are you joking!?” never in a million years would I leave a baby alone anywhere unsafe let alone with an animal, visitor or midwife even, he’s never out of my sight and I feel sick and humiliated that she would breech the subject in such an accusing manner. I understand that children need to be protected and some people may not see or realise dangers around the home, but there are better ways to approach it. From then on it felt like every question was part of an interview or investigation and I was nervous as to the answers I gave which is completely ridiculous as I have raised two completely happy and healthy children in a safe and well cared for home.
She then asked me if I have depression or have felt depressed since giving birth and can’t cope and I said, “Do I look depressed?” I think the questions and opinions that health visitors have are enough to drive a mother to the kitchen for a cup of sugary tea! And then she pulled out leaflets of local groups of “women in the same position” as me, suggesting I should get out for walks with other mothers and babies and attend groups for mothers with newborns to get together in the local area. As if I have time to go on outings with a group of strangers in “the same position”, does she not realise I sleep when he sleeps, fit the laundry, housework, time with Millie and making the dinner around constantly tending to and caring for a newborn. How wonderful the world must be for new mothers who walk down the road with other new mothers!? The whole process, questions and checklists that these people go through is utterly ridiculous and completely alienating to the individual. Instead of giving me reassurance that he’s healthy, well looked after and functioning well after putting all of my energy and effort into these last two tiresome and testing weeks since he was born, she’s left me a nervous wreck that my baby will die at any given moment in the night or my elderly miniature dog may maul his face should I leave him unattended on the floor. How difficult is it for somebody to assess a situation and ask suitable questions accordingly? Surely a little tact can be applied and second-time mothers in tidy, clean homes with a peaceful and content baby don’t need to be taught to suck eggs? I could understand if I answered the door with Gabriele screaming, covered in sick, a gnarling pit-bull chained to the washing line and mascara running down my face from a nervous breakdown but I couldn’t possibly be more calm and collected and in control as I am now. I’ve been ignored by midwives the entire pregnancy and left alone when difficulties had arisen whilst carrying Gabriele, yet now that he’s here I have to jump backwards through hoops and answer ridiculous questions that have no meaning and bite my tongue when I’m told how I should interact with my own son? What a joke!
I understand the importance of giving mothers support and guidance to ensure that babies are well looked after and not put in any danger but I could have done a better job of writing the guidelines and regulations myself wearing a blindfold whilst cooking dinner and waxing the floor with a sponge strapped to my left foot. It makes me so frustrated and utterly offended to have been dictated to in such a way. The questions were about as useful as a chocolate teapot for gathering information, and the advice so irrelevant I’m not sure what to believe. Only five years ago I was told by my midwife to swaddle Millie with blankets to help her to sleep and for comfort, to lay her on alternate sides at night to keep her skull even and release any trapped wind, and to always cover her hands, feet and head indoors and out so that she didn’t lose body heat; and now suddenly the “midwifes” rules are the exact opposite, since when was it acceptable to move the goalposts so far apart that you’re suddenly playing an entirely different sport? No wonder the NHS has such a struggle on its hands to educate and advise parents when their job is to try their damnedest to convince us that black is white and white is black.
If I needed any help at all, it certainly wasn’t before she came but I think a psychiatrist wouldn’t go amiss right now! Good Lord! x