Can I give you some pregnancy advise?

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If I look back over my pregnancies, I think the one thing I can remember is that I loved being pregnant.  I loved knowing I was pregnant, I loved the feeling when you could feel the baby there – I really loved being pregnant.

{I am not suggesting I did not have the back pain, rectal piles, hormone overload, puking and all the other symptoms which often go hand in hand with your uterus expanding)

Each of my three pregnancies was so vastly different to each other, and I was in such a different “space” with each of them, I can barely compare them to each other.

If I had to impart a single wisdom about pregnancy, having a baby and having a newborn it is that “your experience is unique, and you do what works for you…”

When I had Connor, it was the easiest pregnancy imaginable.  I had practically no symptoms of pregnancy barring a stomach.  I could not understand what pregnant women complained about.  I had an elective c-section, and sailed through that.

At the time I thought I had it all taped, and was the spiritual point of knowledge on pregnancy and newborn babies.

Then I was pregnant with Georgia.  I was pregnant from October 2004.  From October I was sick.  Deathly sick.  I did not take Gaviscon, so much as I drank it with a bendy straw.  I felt terrible, exhausted and frayed the entire way through the pregnancy.  By June 2005 I was weeping, nearly every day …. and it was not in happiness.

I was sick with every lurking going.

On two occasions I SPED to my OBGYN and arrived crying, without an appointment, because I was convinced by baby was dead.

I became obsessed with the idea of having a VBAC, and ran around for about five months trying to find a midwife who would partner with me, at the same time trying to circumvennt my OBGYN because she was pro-second-c-sections.

The entire period of the pregnancy was horrific, and I seldom sat back and thought “Man I am loving this pregnancy!”  I did often cry on the way back from work, after an exhausting day wondering how I could get myself out of this rather desperate situation.

Second baby, and I was humbled by the entire experience.  I realised I was out of my depth both during the pregnancy and standing with a newborn and a 3 1/2 year old, and trying to figure out how I seriously was going to survive this lot.

Fast forward a few years and I was pregnant with Isabelle.

I was clearly older, and less fit than I had been before.  If you asked me what I remember most about that pregnancy, I would say it was how worried I was.

I kept thinking something was wrong, she was not moving and there was really nothing I could do to control what was going on inside me.

I bought an electronic doppler, and lived for the moment I could lie on my bed, with 1/2 tube of KY and listen to the beat of my child’s heart.  It would give me a respite from the worry that something was wrong – I was convinced that with two healthy children, I could not expect a healthy third … the fate of the universe just did not work that way.

I was stressed that I was over 35 and risking a pregnancy, so that just added to the permutations of things I could and did worry about.

The pregnancy was hard on my body.  From 4 months I ached – my back and legs were killing me. I was convinced I would go for my monthly OBGYN check up and he was going to tell me I was 45 centimeters dilated, because that was how I felt – my uterus felt like it was permanently on its way out.

By the time that “my day arrived” I was mentally in avoidance.

I convinced myself it was not happening.  On the drive to the hospital I asked Kennith to go to a mall -I thought if I wandered around a bit and bought pointless things it woulld buy me a bit of time, to keep this mummery farce that I was not having a baby today.

I went into the c-section petrified! Everything anyone ever said to me that could go wrong, was going to go wrong that day (in my head!)

I was petrified.

At one point I was begging Kennith (in quiet whispers so as not to upset anyone) that he needed to stop them (the surgeon) as I was not ready and something was going to go wrong.  I could see the reflection in the theater lights, and I was convinced I could feel every cut and pull.  I was so scared. I thought I was going to die, and the baby was going to be cut.

Of course nothing went wrong, everything was fine (barring a small incident in post op).

The point after all of this gumph is that no two pregnancies are the same, and no individual is the same.

My three experiences have humbled me to realise that there is no way I can offer advise to anyone, as each of my pregnancies were so vastly different.  When it comes down to it, your experience is unique to you, and you alone.

I must seriously confess that one of the few benefits to having three pregnancies, is that the moment some well meaning person offered advise, I could say “it’s okay, this is my third …. I’ve got it …. really now fk off so I can drink my 1 glass of wine I am allowed per day”

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Does anyone LISTEN to a pregnant woman?

Getting pregnant is stressful.  Am I pregnant?  Is my period late? Is it too early to take a pee on the stick test?  What if I am pregnant, I once walked through the wine section at Pick ‘n Pay, maybe that would have harmed the baby?

And so the mental psychotic conversation starts and pretty much remains in place for how ever long you are “trying” to fall pregnant for.

Assuming you want to be pregnant, there is about 67 seconds when you see two blue lines on your pregnancy test, and you are elated.

You are high fiving yourself in the bathroom, and you are really happy.

Your hand is urine soaked as you had to hold it in your urine stream, whilst trying to balance precariously, but a positive pregnancy test (assuming you are not 12 years old, or you are doing that one child per man you have dated thing) is truly a moment of divine happiness.

It really is just  that moment in time when you feel like you have conquered the world, and eaten a fat-free triple-chocolate cake that actually made you lose weight!

Then you worry.  Worry becomes you constant companion.  Sometimes he brings along anxiety and a full stress-screaming-like-a-banshee.

You worry because now you need to book at the OGBYN and you worry about whether there will be a heart beat and whether everything will be fine.  So though you are elated, the happiness is singed by a feeling of doom and anxiety. And worry.

At the OBGYN when you see the thumpa-thumpa-thumpa heart beat you are joyously happy again.  But only until you climb back in the car in the parking area, as you are back to worrying about the next thing, and thinking that four weeks between OBGYN visits and the scan is tortuously long.  And you have not even got out of the hospital parking lot yet.

What if I miscarry?

What if something I am doing injures the baby?

What if I decide to name the baby Whitney or Barnabus and my child is mercilessly beaten up at school?

What if the fact that I am worrying leads to a higher risk of there being something wrong, everyone tells me to not be so stressed — but now I am worrying about worrying!

At certain times in your pregnancy (granted only in your first) you feel like you are carrying “the holy one” – everyone fawns over you and when you walk in to a room, you can see people’s features soften and usually someone offers you a seat.  Or a foot rub.  Or unnecessary advice.

I met a divine woman this weekend I had met once before whilst she was pregnant, Nicole.  When I saw Nicole that first time, I thought yikes she looks uncomfortable and she was only about 6 months along then.

Nicole told me all about the last few weeks of pregnancy and the eventual early delivery of Lucas. {I am ad libbing the story, so if you would like to hear the full unedited version, I can hook you up with Nicole, who tells a good story by the way.}

I think the thing that stuck with me after listening to her story, is that she KNEW something was off, and no one listened no matter how many times she put her hand up and said “something is wrong here….”

Things did not feel right, and she kept telling anyone who would listen that “something wasn’t right.”  Everyone patted her on the hand and said things like “now now, dear, you need a lie down and you will feel better when you wake up…”

In the end the fact that she had been leaking amniotic fluid for some time, and clearly going in to full labour way before the baby was ready to come in to the world, did eventually get some attention!

Why must one be on the verge of your baby’s head crowning, and a pool of amniotic fluid collecting whilst you stand in the “10 items or less” queue at Woolworths, before someone takes you seriously?

Nicole finally got to her doctor, and they performed an emergency delivery.  Several weeks following the uhm, difficult emergency birth, her OBGYN confided in her that had she arrived 10 minutes later her uterus would probably have perforated and there was a good chance they would not have been able to save her or the baby.

It made me go cold.

And I think the part that made me purse my lips in a non-attractive way, is that pregnant women are generally just not listened to.  They usually feel too embarrassed to say anything is wrong, partly because when you have a 3 – 4 kilogram person lodged between their diaphragm and bladder and EVERYTHING pretty much feels wrong.

I am not sure of the solution – my only advise to anyone pregnant is to treat your pregnancy as YOUR pregnancy.

Be cautious about advise from do-gooders, and to listen to your body.  If there is a something that does not feel right, don’t take a census to see if everyone agrees.  Make an appointment and get someone with a stethoscope and some KY Jelly (preferably with a medical qualification) to take a look at you.

Insist they find the thing that is making you uncomfortable.  Not going because you do not want to bother your doctor, or be demanding is stupid.

I would rather pay for 10 unnecessary OGBYN visits with scans than have something go wrong, and kick myself that I did not LISTEN to my body earlier.

Congratulations Nicole and Simon on the beautiful Lucas – who my girls are already fawning over!

{With all three children I did more OBGYN visits than necessary.  Georgia’s was definitely the most physically stressful – I had thought she had died in utero on more than occasion. I had arrived at my then OBGYN hysterical – on several occasions. Hysterical and having a loud crying jag does get you squeezed in between visits really fast.  With Isabelle my stress levels were so high I rented one of those electronic doppler things ….but I still stressed}

Birth Control is sometimes an IQ Test …..

I am reasonably bright but I find remembering to take birth control nearly impossible.

I tried to take the birth control pill a number of years back.

When I realized I was taking them five or seven at a time, because I kept forgetting to take them each day, it occurred to me that it might not be the best method for me.  My amending the one-a-day protocol may well lead to pregnancy, which at the time was not the plan.

I heard about a birth control injection, and looked into that a bit.

You only have to do that once every three months.

Sounds like a pretty full-proof plan to me.  Though I am not really keen on injections, I felt that it was a small price to pay for not having to take handfuls of birth control tablets.

Of course I did not actually go and have it done every three months.

I read that it takes about nine to twelve  months for your cycle to stabilize after your last injection.   I figured if I was two or three months late with my follow up injection, it was not really going to do much harm.

I tended to skate on the wild side with that method as well.

Please bear in mind that we have three children and none were conceived with a “surprise” – they were all conceived as a plan.  Even with my rather reckless disregard for the fine print on birth control products, it seems I do not fall pregnant unless there is a plan and a spreadsheet involved.

In each case I came off birth control, waited the correct period, and then we started trying to conceive.  I am not saying that it is impossible that I fall pregnant with my rather flagrant disregard for the instructions, but for me it appears to be unlikely based on past experience.

Earlier this year, my OBGYN sort of went the colour of pale puke when I told him I was on Depo Provera (birth control injection).  He did not quite run naked screaming into the traffic, but he did raise his eyebrow and lower the tone of his voice to a very serious level and made reference to my age, and some other unsavoury comments, which are best left unsaid for a lady of quality like myself.

The man is from Austria, one listens when an Austrian man issues commands/suggestions to you.

With his rather sobering suggestion, I opted back onto birth control pills.

Again I found myself gobbling handfuls when I remembered.  I realized that maturity has not changed me at all when it came to following instructions on the packs of birth control.  I felt if I remained on this path, we would be parents (again) before the month was out.

I was lamenting my problem to the GP whilst she was looking over one of my kids for one illness or another.  She commented that there is a birth control patch on the market, it is quite new, but she recommends it.

You stick it on your body once a week and leave it – then put a new patch on each week, and that is pretty much the level of effort involved.    That is the extent that you need to remember.  One plaster, once a week.

Sounds easy!  She was jolly nice and wrote me up a script too.  (I do love piggy-backing on a doctor’s visit and not having to pay for two consultations.)

I was very excited to get my first lick-and-stick patch.  I stuck it on my rather large arse and thought something would happen.   I am not sure what, but there was nothing, so I thought, well clearly I must be doing it right.

Let’s leave it to do it’s work quietly shall we.

Second week, I was all excited about my “patch change day” – listen I do not have much excitement going on in my neck of the woods.  It went well, and I was pleased that I had managed to find such an easy method of birth control that even I could not muck up.

Third week, still excited about my patch change day – none of the magic has been lost on me.  It was quite special, until I stuck the patch to itself and I could not get it loose.  Shit!   No patch!  Damn it!

I had to get to work, and then something happened on the weekend and I could not go to chemist.

I finally got there on Monday and got a new pack.  Took one patch out of new pack to use to finish week 3 of old cycle.

Ah, all very easy.

It even comes with stickers that you stick in your diary to remind you which day is patch 1, patch 2, patch 3 and free patch week – what could be easier?  Nothing could be easier, right?

Do I still manage to get it wrong?  Of course I do.

Fast forward about two months.  Last week I am standing about to change my patch – it is basically a plaster about 20mm x 20mm that you stick anywhere on your body and the hormones are absorbed through your skin.

I think “wait I have got it wrong” – and then I realize I have totally cocked it up and I have no idea where I am in my little patch change program, like no idea!

You are meant to have 3 weeks of patches, and then one week of no patch – as then you have an AF/your cycle/eat chocolate and scream at the cat, which ever fits you as the most appropriate term for what occurs in week 4.

So then I realise I have it wrong, so one of a few things are going on here:

  1. I have not got it wrong, and this is a patch free week.
  2. I have missed my “free week” and I am technically a week “late” with my AF.
  3. I have missed my “free week” already a week ago and I am technically two weeks “late” with my AF.
  4. I have no idea where the hell I am in my month.

Because I have no idea where I am – other than in the bathroom – it could be option 1,2, 3, 4 or any combination of the above.

I stood looking more confused than usual.  Then I got stressed, and consulted with Kennith who suggested I use this as a “patch free” week and start sticking a new patch next week, as there was nothing else to do.

I agreed with him – only because I really had no idea what the hell I was doing.

But then the mice/hamster/small rodent in my head started to run amuck – like totally.

I was convinced that I was already a week late (with the arrival of my period in case it is not obvious) and then I started to think “what if I am pregnant?”

The problem is that I move from “what if” to “I am pregnant” pretty quickly.  Actually the term is “with lightening quick speed.”

Added to that is that I have felt nauseous like no one’s business for nearly two weeks now, and my stomach has just been feeling out of sorts.

So based on all of this I totally started living in the assumption that I am now pregnant (with number four you understand!).

I started wondering when I should pee on a stick, just to confirm the obvious and all.

And more importantly how long I should just not tell Kennith, because I am sure he will actually run away – not metaphorically.

But like packing his underpants and an onion into a little bag and actually running away. (He did that when he was small, packed an onion and a pair of underpants and ran away from home…gotta love a child who runs away with a change of underwear and ingredients for a simple salad.)

As the days dragged on I constantly thought the universe was giving me signs.

I saw an advert the night before last, advertising a new brand of pee-on-a-stick-and-see-if-you-are-pregnant that not only tells you if you are pregnant, but also tells you when you conceived.   I googled the product after seeing the advert.

I have never seen that advert before – it must be a sign!

Then this morning someone was speaking about pregnancy, and as I walked in to the room, someone said “You will probably have another one, right?” to which I answered in silent horror (and amazement) “How did you know, is it that obvious already?”

Another sign – surely!

This morning I put on my “shirt that I bought at the beginning of my last pregnancy” to work – oh there were signs everywhere I tell you.

I had already shortlisted names.   It will be a boy this time.

Started mentally moving Isabelle into Georgia’s room – decided on which bedding would work for both girls.  I cut back on wine last night – yes, one should only have limited alcohol when one is pregnant, it is the responsible thing to do.

I had already started apologizing to Isabelle this morning as she would not be my baby any more as there would probably be an usurper in our midst.

As you can see, one just needs  only to point me in the direction, turn my little mechanical key and off I go.

I pictured the conversation where Kennith sits me down and explains that we really cannot have four children and then tells me that we need to discuss an abortion.

And then the part where I am pulling my hair and beating my chest in anguish and begging him to reconsider.

I have pictured so many permutations that I am quite exhausted, what being imaginary pregnant and all.

I thought I would leave it until Monday and then officially pee on a stick.

 

As it worked out, it seems there is no need to pee on a stick as of late this morning.  I can honestly say I am actually a bit disappointed, I am not crushed and flaying around on the floor, but I am a little disappointed.

I am waiting for Kennith to phone me crying in relief! (he did not know about my delusional pregnancy, so there is no need to send him any words of condolences.)

Throwing the baby out with the bath water …

I did this post back in June for http://www.moomie.co.za and I must confess to feeling quite proud of this piece.  I like the ones that are real and honest, and this was one of those.

I totally forgot about the post, and then this morning Nayeela asked me for a copy, so thanks Nayeela for reminding me about this post.  I hope those who have read it on moomie will forgive me and not mind re-reading it.

I’ve often wondered why we do not tell new moms about the hell that follows once they arrive home with their new baby.

There seems to be this unwritten law that we should not scare them too much.  Or possibly it is that they will not believe it until it starts to happen to them.  Of late I have started to believe the latter.

The hell I am referring to is the emotional trauma and the screaming that you and your partner/husband/supplier of sperm/supporter of pregnancy/nearest and dearest will go through around week six to eight of your new baby being home.

It might start on day one, it might not start for several weeks, but it will start (insert Dr Evil’s laugh here).

Pregnancy is much like your honeymoon. The two of you are aglow with the wonders of what your loins have done. You have affirmed your lineage will continue. Your partner is elated that his sperm has proved to be virile, you are a bask in the glow of pregnancy.

You feel that you have single-handedly saved the entire human race.  Here in your uterus sits the off-spring that could find a cure of cancer or at the very least a system for not losing the remote control on the couch.

Ah it is glorious heady stuff.  You are invincible, you are pregnant.

Your energies are focused on the birth of the baby.  Where partner will stand, who will hold the camera, whether you will ask for some homeopathic meds or sell you soul for one prick of the anesthetist’s epidural needle.   From about month five every waking (and sleeping moment) is  consumed with all this planning.

You have various scenarios in your mind, but the one that stands out for you, is that picture of you, the picture of the perfect you.  You, still wearing mascara, and a touch of lip-gloss, cuddling your bundle, while your partner stares at you longing as if you are the original mother mary.

Intoxicating  days these.

You survive child-birth.  You survive the medical staff and you make it home.  You are smiling and coo’ing and everyone has agreed that this is the sweetest baby ever to bless the earth.

You and your partner are so pleased with yourselves right now.  You might even cure leprosy later on in the afternoon, nothing is beyond you right now.

The visitors go home, the medication and euphoria starts to wear off.  You are starting to ache.

You really love your baby, but have deciced that you no longer love your baby between 2 and 6am.  You are sleep deprived, your nipples feel like you have been cast in a low-budget porn movie, you are not feeling your best as you have been in your bathrobe since last Monday.

Brushing your teeth has become the highlight of your day – you do not even try to floss, as really there is not enough time and this often requires two hands, which you seldom have the luxury of right now.

Partner kisses you on the forehead and skips off to work.  At some point you stand there – usually in the middle of the kitchen, still in your grubby bathrobe, and ask yourself  “What exactly happened here … this is not how I pictured it…and why is that shmuck not with me in this?”

You can’t say it out loud as the baby has finally fallen asleep and you need to sort of rock him to-and-fro, to-and-fro or he is going to start screaming again, but you think it.  Yes, you think it, and think it and think it.

You now glance over at the kitchen clock and start counting the hours down for husband (you have dropped the dear part) to come home.  By the time he arrives home, you pretty much shove the baby into his arms, scream at him about being late.

Then scream at him about something unrelated and stomp off in a furore.  You are waiting for baby to start crying, because now husband can get an earful of what you have had to put up with all day …

But nothing … you listen … and there is nothing.  So you sneak quietly down to the lounge … and there he is … baby propped on his shoulder … not a care in the world … he has a beer in the other hand and he is watching Super Sport … and looks at you like: “ This isn’t hard, what are you complaining about!”

This is where the cracks start.

Late at night as you wake to go and feed the baby you look over at your partner who is fast asleep and you wonder if you can stab him the shoulder with a fork!  You know you can, but you wonder if you can do deep tissue damage with just one fork stab, or whether you will need to do it numerous times.

Partner does not move while you feed, burp, and quiet baby.  You shlepp down the passage, put baby down and return to bed.  Right now the warm-even breathing of your partner is making you so angry you want to smother him.  Instead you roll over, being sure to jab him with your elbow in his back and then you eventually doze off.  Only to be awoken 5 minutes later by baby who needs to feed…..

You repeat the cycle, each time hating your partner for the fact that he has undisturbed sleep.

Next morning you wake up and he is getting ready for work.  He smiles at you, all happy, as if he has let you sleep in – never mind that in total since 1am, you have had about 45 minutes sleep.  He gets his clean clothes on, kisses you on the forehead (because you have not brushed your teeth) and goes off to work.

And now your mild dislike has turned to hate.

It is actually his fault that this has all happened, and now he gets to go to work, talk to adults, surf Facebook and drink hot cups of coffee all day.  You hate him for every hour he is away.  The problem is when he drags his sorry arse in the door after work, you hate him for every hour he is home as well.

He has no idea what you go through, he does not realise that you have been crying for 6 hour straight.  He has no idea that you are so exhausted right now, you would swap places with a vagrant to get some sleep.

He has no idea that what is happening to you now does not gel with the picture you had in your head of this entire process. You love your baby – but right now, you really do not love being with him.

The right thing to say is that “this is the best thing in the world…” but maybe it isn’t.  Maybe it is really hard and maybe you are really struggling.  The thing you can’t understand is that no one has really told you how difficult it is going to be, and now you are really struggling.

Your partner does not understand, actually he has no clue what is going on. You are angry and upset and the person who is going to take the brunt of it is the poor sap who comes whistling through the front door at about 17h30 each day.

You start fighting with him because he goes to work.  You fight with him because he is at work.  You fight with him because he is at home.  You fight with him because he can’t change the baby the way you want him to do it.   You fight with him because he does not know which babygrower to use … well basically you fight with him because he exists (don’t even start with me about the fact that he has to breath so damn loud!).

Husband is starting to wonder if this having a baby was such a good idea, and at some point will make a statement of the sort.

This will be a bit like throwing gasoline on a fire, and you will unfortunately start saying some things you wish you had not said.  He is so annoyed as he does not know his wife anymore, and instead has this hormone soaked creature to deal with, so he will retaliate with something else, and you will have a come back which is akin to kicking him in the gonads.

And from there the situation will turn ugly.

But believe it or not  ….  you eventually start to get saner and realise that you (and him) are living through what feels like the apocalypse.  It does take a while before you realise that you and your partner are actually in this together.  You need to rely and lean on each other to get through this, rather than taking pot shots at each other as you run across the minefield.

You also start to wonder “why do couples who are in distress think having a baby is going to bring them closer?” when good sense tells us that a baby is the most strain you can subject on a relationship.

Don’t worry I wonder the same thing.

When my friends, who are young and in-love, have baby-showers I really want to give them vouchers for sessions of couple counseling.  Unfortunately decorum gets the better of me, and I buy them bibs and baby shoes like everyone else, and try not make them feel less invincible than they do right then.

Even in the Abyss things can get better

I am not sure if that moment was a bit of a wake up call for both of us, but things did get better.   After Kennith received my email he came home early and he tried to chat to me.

Kennith – bless his cotton socks – has always been the one who will extend the olive branch first – I am the one who will hold a sulk for days if need be.  I know  it appears that I slate him, but he really does try very hard to be a good partner and a great dad.  Sometimes with our relationship in such turmoil, I forget what a good guys he is.

I don’t think I was really open to a discussion. I felt exhausted by the process that we had been through, but also relieved that a decision had been made – even though it was painful and awful.  I can’t quite recall how things began to change at home, but they did.

I think the issue was that I could not really afford to move out anywhere initially, and would need to still remain in the house until I had made a plan.  I just was not sure what the plan was.  It was not like he came home and I had my cases at the door, with my cactus balanced on top.

The sun went down and then it came up the next day and we were still two people who had a house, two kids and some problems to work through.  I think to Kennith’s credit, he could have just thrown in the towel and agreed with me that it was “over cadovers” but he felt there was still a reason we should try to make this work.

It was gradual process and every step might not have been recorded, but it did get better.  We both worked on being a couple and getting rid of some of the animosity we had been carrying around.

We tried to learn to communicate with each other – rather than just wait for the other person to take a breath so you could get your say in.  Kennith put a huge amount of effort in being present, and I put an effort in making him feel less isolated from the family unit.

I tried very hard to stop being angry and so resentful all the time.  I had so much anger within me, and struggled to express it in a constructive manner.  I think he also tried to listen to what I was saying, which was a huge help when you feel you are not being heard.

I think it took at least a year for things to gradually get better until they were on what we could call stable ground.  We just started doing things differently and behaving differently.

When things had stabilized a bit, Kennith and I decided to leave the kids at home and went overseas for a just over a week to see friends and family – my brother’s first son was being born and we were trying to time being there for that.

It was great to spend some time together doing our stuff.  I missed the kids terribly and pined for Georgia especially, but it was great to be able to enjoy each other’s company again.  It really was a great experience to be together even if it was just walking through the streets and stores, but it was nice to reconnect and be big people again.

A month or two after getting back I started a new job which offered me a great deal of challenges and also made me feel more secure and fulfilled.  Though it required a huge amount of juggling it definitely made me feel much better about myself.  I realized a big part of me required affirmation in what I do for a living – I really get my kicks from doing a job and doing it well.

I think the thing about expecting a baby, and preparing for the impact of a baby is that you spend so much time thinking about the baby, and the sleep deprivation, and whether you are going to buy the right pram and cot, that you forget about the impact this person is going to have on your relationship.  Not for a second had I factored this in as an issue.

Kennith and I had been together for more than 7 years when we decided – it was not an accident – to have Connor.  We were stable and prepared.  We had never had a “get out” fight in all the time that we had been together.

I could never have accounted for the amount of trauma and strain a baby would introduce to our lives and relationship.

I am not saying that the birth of Connor was to blame for all of our issues, but the introduction of a third person into a stable relationship was definitely a catalyst that we just had not factored in, and were ill equipped to recognise and deal with.

Some of the issues that came to the fore was how much baggage I was dragging with me about my own upbringing and childhood.  I thought I had that securely locked away but the introduction of my own child just seemed to bring that all up.  I suddenly had real “mother” issues that also impacted on my relationship with my own mother and my son.

When friends tell me that they are pregnant, I really wish I could tell them how stressful that first year is.  How it will literally shake you to your roots, and make your gums bleed.

You will doubt yourself as you stand in the bathroom at night crying in desperation and loneliness.

You will begin to despise your partner because your life has changed so dramatically and theirs seems to have remained the same.

You will question every decision you have made, and feel you know nothing and are the most worthless creature on the planet.

But at the centre of it all is this round little baby whose cuddles will warm your soul, and whose smell will ease the pain.   He or she is the calm in the storm – and it is a bit of a storm – the kind where people take canned food down to a cellar and stay there until the dust settles and then they come out to see what form of life survived.

Most moms I have spoken to remember the acute loneliness of the 2am feeds, and feeling so isolated and desperate while everyone skipped to work.  It really is one of the most difficult challenges I have ever had to face in my life, and you know I can’t even put it on my CV as an achievement.  It’s such a sense of despair that your soul literally cries!

And what’s even sadder, is that we all know it, but no one talks about it and prepares new mums.  I wonder why that is.

Birth Order of Children

My friend Alice sent this to me and never has there been a truer word spoken or emailed.

Maternity Clothing:

1st baby: You begin wearing maternity clothes as soon as your doctor confirms your pregnancy.

2nd baby: You wear your regular clothes for as long as possible.

3rd baby: Your maternity clothes ARE your regular clothes.

Preparing for the Birth:

1st baby: You practice your breathing religiously.

2nd baby: You don’t bother because you remember that last time breathing didn’t do a thing.

3rd baby : You ask for an epidural in your eighth month.

The Layette :

1st baby: You pre-wash newborn’s clothes, color coordinate them, and fold them neatly in the baby’s little bureau.

2nd baby: You check to make sure that the clothes are clean and discard only the ones with the darkest stains.

3rd baby: Boys can wear pink, can’t they?

Worries:

1st baby: At the first sign of distress–a whimper, a frown–you pick up the baby.

2nd baby: You pick the baby up when her wails threaten to wake your firstborn.

3rd baby: You teach your three-year-old how to rewind the mechanical swing.

Dummy:

1st baby: If the dummy falls on the floor, you put it away until you can go home and wash and boil it.

2nd baby: When the dummy falls on the floor, you squirt it off with some juice from the baby’s bottle.

3rd baby: You wipe it off on your shirt and pop it back in.

Nappies:

1st baby: You change your baby’s nappy every hour, whether they need it or not.

2nd baby: You change their nappy every two to three hours, if needed.

3rd baby: You try to change their nappy before others start to complain about the smell or you see it sagging to their knees.

Activities:

1st baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics, Baby Swing, and Baby Story Hour.

2nd baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics.

3rd baby: You take your infant to the supermarket and the dry cleaner.

Going Out:

1st baby: The first time you leave your baby with a sitter, you call home five times.

2nd baby: Just before you walk out the door, you remember to leave a number where you can be reached

3rd baby: You leave instructions for the sitter to call only if she sees blood.

At Home:

1st baby : You spend a good bit of every day just gazing at the baby.

2nd baby: You spend a bit of everyday watching to be sure your older child isn’t squeezing, poking, or hitting the baby.

3rd baby: You spend a little bit of every day hiding from the children.

Swallowing Coins:

1st child: When first child swallows a coin, you rush the child to the hospital and demand x-rays.

2nd child: When second child swallows a coin, you carefully watch for the coin to pass.

3rd child: When third child swallows a coin, you deduct it from his pocket money.

Congratulations …… it’s an Enema

My first pregnancy was pretty uneventful.

At the time you worry about whether you are standing too close to the microwave or have you eaten too many carrots and poisoned your child with excesses of vitamin A.

The things that your mind can worry about are pretty endless.  They tend to be the kind where your little eyes pop open from a peaceful sleep to worry and fret, while your husband/partner/sperm donor snores on peacefully.

Sidebar:  I’ve suffered from IBS in varying degrees for years.  This particular year it seemed to have increased in intensity. I had weeks of swelling and unbelievable cramping.  Eventually I made an appointment at a gastroenterologist.  I was not quite sure what one did – I had to look it up in the Yellow Pages and they had a helpful diagram which pointed to the body part and told me which specialist I would need – very clever marketing.  I was beyond caring and just wanted him to take the pain go away.

While examining me I had to lie on the bed in a fetal position as there was no way I could lie flat with that amount of cramping. He sent me along for the standard (and non-conclusive) blood work and then decided that a barium enema was just the thing to cheer a young girl like me up.

I happily took enough laxatives , ate my body weight in Buscopan and limped along to the x-ray to leave whatever was left of my flagging dignity while a doctor and a nurse shoved what was the equivalent of a garden hose up my bottom – all while trying to make small talk with me.  Me trying to hide my face and just weep quietly into the hospital issue pillow.

After a few more days of lying on the couch in what really was an inert position and moaning or whimpering, Kennith bravely suggested a pregnancy test, and as history can reveal it was positive.

I could not have been more surprised and had been so sick that trying to track my menstrual cycle did not really seem very important at the time.

Generally X-rays and Buscopan are not recommended as part of a diet during the early days of conception, so we had every reason  to be a tad worried.  We had a wonderfully knowledgeable OBGYN who he sent us a long for a few extra fetal assessment scans to put us all at ease.

We saw our little bean bobbing around in the amniotic fluid.  We were so full of smiles and good times that none of us noticed the cataclysmic H-bomb that that little bean had in his back pocket.

I fondly recall hours of lying on the bed on a Saturday afternoon reading my book and dozing off whilst a trail of saliva pooled on the pillow to wake me from my afternoon slumber.

It was all so pleasant, so idyllic, little did I know that there was a shocking awakening approaching …..

Pee on a Stick why don’t you?

For those who don’t know me, it’s okay, I often wake up at night wondering if I know myself.  I do often wonder how I managed to get myself into this position – the position of being mom to three children.  When the number one issue is that I don’t actually like children (sure I like my own now, but I never played with dolls, and really tend to cringe back in terror when a young snotty happy faced short person runs towards me), and more importantly number two, I was very sure that I never wanted children.

My partner – Kennith – wanted children from the get go, I was very very reluctant and every time we had the conversation would wrap it up by saying “next year” knowing full well that next year was not going to be coming.  Six years into our relationship we had reached a cross-roads/an impasse and I fell pregnant with our first child when I was 28.  It was a totally planned endeavour.  This did not stop me sitting in the bath and crying like a knocked up 15 year old.

I do wish to place some blame on our friends Mike and Anita (names have not been changed to protect the innocent) – as they had exposed us to their child and it all seemed like such a jolly good idea from our vantage point.    I’ve never told them that they are to blame (if only partly), so hopefully they suffer sufficient guilt to bring me something great from the U2 concert that they are travelling overseas to go and see.

So there I was 28, unmarried, pregnant and frightened beyond measure …..