Do You Realise There’s A Person Attached To These Boobs?

Nobody can really explain what it is going to be like when you have your first baby. That’s because no experience is the same and everybody’s birth story is unique. The only advice I can give mothers about to birth for the very first time is to “expect the unexpected.”

In fact, ‘unexpected’ pretty much sums up the birth of my first child. You see, when I was pregnant I had drawn up a pretty little birth plan requesting I receive a “natural water birth un-aided by drugs.” However, despite my well-laid plans, I ended up with 3 arduous days of labour and an emergency C-section! To this end, instead of picking out music to have playing in the birthing suite and choosing inviting fragrances to have wafting around, my time would have been much better spent choosing the appropriately sized spew bucket to have beside my bed and a range of Granny Undies to wear after the birth!

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However, the labour and birth were not the only surprises and mysteries awaiting for me in the maternity ward. Something nobody told me about was the mysterious gowns they make you wear. Sure, it looked like I had expected with the depressing colour and ties around the back – but I never knew they were magic!

Let me explain: When I was in my normal clothes plenty of people were talking to me, asking how I was doing, giving me instructions etc – but as soon as I put that gown on everything changed. Suddenly it was like I had disappeared! People were still talking, but not to me. About me, but not to me. So, after a while I figured it out. This gown was like an invisible cloak, but in the reverse. It was obvious the mid-wives and doctors could see my body parts from the neck down as they were constantly talking about contractions, dilation and conducting examinations, but for the life of me I don’t think they could see my face – no friendly smiles or pleasant conversation. Obviously whatever was covered up by the gown was still visible, but those body parts not covered must have disappeared entirely!

This feeling of invisibility carried on throughout the day and night as mid-wifes changed shifts, exchanged notes, conducted examinations and discussed what flavour curry they would be having for their tea. Luckily, my husband has super powers and could still see me, so while the nurses chatted happily amongst themselves he would be running to fetch me the spew bucket, rubbing my back and wetting my sweaty brow. There wasn’t a lot of talking from his corner either, but at least he knew there was actually a person lying on the bed – not just a collection of lady parts!

Even after I had given birth this puzzling predicament continued: Pretty much straight after my son was born, he had to be taken to the Newborn Unit as he was having difficulty breathing. I managed to give him a quick kiss but then did not see him for many hours afterwards. In the meantime, I was taken to recovery and two nurses were sent in. I was so grateful to see the nurses as I thought I might be able to get a cup of tea and something to eat as I hadn’t had anything apart from water in what seemed like forever … but no, I must have still been invisible, because instead of offering some refreshments they quickly got to work ‘milking’ me! Yes, that’s right … one on each breast expressing milk for the baby and discussing technique while I was left lying there thinking “do you realise there is a person attached to these boobs?!”

I am pleased to report that, once I got to have a shower and get rid of that awfully mysterious hospital gown, my face seemed to reappear and regain its status as an important body part once again.

I am also pleased to report that one thing I was told about having a baby could not have been more correct: “When you hold your baby in your arms for the first time, it makes it all worthwhile.”

In fact, it not only makes it worthwhile – but worth doing all over again!


4 thoughts on “Do You Realise There’s A Person Attached To These Boobs?

  1. I’m sorry you weren’t treated like a person with feelings and needs! I think sometimes we can be reduced to a bunch of body parts when medical staff just go about their daily jobs. I had an OK experience with some lovely midwives, but I also had one who made fun of me for not liking pain (she had NO idea what I’d been through during my pregnancy) when I didn’t want a Clexane needle in my belly (asking for my arm). I also had a few who just wanted to milk me. I felt like a failure because none of them were honest and caring about the fact that my baby wasn’t even with me for the first 3 days. I am sure they were trying to not make a big deal out of it, but if they’d been honest and said, “Look you’re on a lot of anti biotics which can be tough on your supply/flow and you’ve been through some stressful stuff and stress can be a factor and your baby isn’t with you so it may be harder to stimulate everything…but just do your best – now here’s how and we’ll give you some relaxing privacy…” that would have been nice. I think their need for me to breastfeed outweighed their ability to show me some care and to help me mentally.
    I didn’t know any of this stuff at the time and it was only weeks afterwards, that I realised I could be kind to myself and that breastfeeding at all was a miracle. I really tore myself up over that stuff and I wish someone had treated me with more directness.

    You’re so right. Holding your baby for the first time – properly – is so worth it! I could totally relate to you – I had a 3 hr labour followed by emergency C-section too! Little Mister had trouble breathing but unfortunately my hospital couldn’t help if something went really wrong so he was sent away to a better hospital for a few days.

    Great post x

    • Thanks for your comment Kez. It is definitely stressful when things don’t go as planned and a bit of empathy goes a long way. The birth of my 2nd child was very similar to my first, the difference this time is that the nurses were helpful, kind and sympathetic – it makes a big difference x

  2. Wow this is so true in many hospitals. Out of my 4 births, 3 were in different hospitals and only one treated me as though I were a real person. I certainly know where you are coming from. I hope your second delivery was aided by nice attentive nurses and your invisibility gown was not in working order xx

    • Thanks for your comments Beck. I’m glad I’m not the only one who felt like this. Yes, thankfully the 2nd time around I had much friendlier nurses and I believe my gown was the ‘normal’ variety!

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