New Vision (Kampala)

27 January 2013

Uganda: Real Life Experience - 'I Hated My Baby'

My pregnancy was unplanned. When I discovered I was expecting, I did not know how to feel. Was I happy? Was I sad? Was I excited? I did not know.

One thing was for sure, I was anxious at the thought that I was soon to be a mother.

In our family, I am the last-born, so I had no experience of taking care of anyone younger than myself. I was not one who cared much for babies.

Despite that initial mixture of emotions, it turned out to be a blissful pregnancy with minimal morning sickness. Even when the labour pains started, which I initially mistook for false labour, it was not raising like I had been made to believe.

I stayed at work until one of my workmates found me at my desk, sweating. I brushed off her concern, telling her I was alright, but she was not convinced and decided to call my husband.

A few minutes later, I received a phone call from him inquiring whether I was alright. I told him I was fine, pushing myself until 6:00pm so I could wrap up and begin my leave having handed over well.

That night, I barely slept because of the growing contractions and that was when I packed my bags and left for the hospital. I went ready to push, only to be told it was early labour and that I was due the next day.

I was mad because we had told relatives and friends.

It was a long wait from Friday when I was admitted, to Sunday when I actually gave birth. My husband and my mother took turns rubbing my back as the pains grew intense.

When the time came to deliver, I developed complications and had to give birth via caesarean section. I was wheeled into the labour ward, given an epidural and forgotten for about 45 minutes. Only when my family members began inquiring about me did I get medical attention. All this time I was fully awake although numb from the waist down. By the time the doctors remembered to check on me, my entire body was virtually numb. I was hurriedly attended to.

The first time I saw my baby, I felt nothing. No mushy, immense outpouring of love, no unbelievable joy or excitement - nothing. I willed myself to feel something, but there was nothing.

The baby was in the nursery with tubes stuck down his nose, and that was painful to watch whenever I would go to visit him. I was not allowed to feed him, but I could identify his cry from the other babies.

When we were finally discharged, I felt like I had lost my identity. I was not my old self. I could not fit in my pre-pregnancy clothes and my pregnancy clothes also looked weird.

I was on the edge and anything would set off a torrent of tears. My in-laws were in our home and because I did not want to appear out of control, I would lock myself in my bedroom and cry. Inwardly, I resented the baby for coming and spoiling my perfect life.

My romantic idea of how soon I was to love the baby, I later discovered had been a mirage! I was also angry at my husband for having a life while I was stuck at home with the baby.

He was going to work, going out with his friends while my life was on hold. Whenever he returned from work, I would hand him his baby and go do other things.

If I were to tell you that I had a particular way I dealt with it, I would be lying. What I know is that I had an amazing support system, a fabulous maid, sisters, friends and a very supportive husband who sometimes encouraged me to go out while he stayed at home with the baby.

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