Wear Your Heart on your Stomach …love the idea ….

I thought more about the post yesterday after it was posted than before I pushed “publish.”

Partly due to some of the comments I received, and this link that Jess and Julz sent on to me.

It got me thinking, I’d love to have a good photo of me and my scar so that I can look at it and think of it fondly rather than in distress like I do at the moment.

I think of it as ugly and want it to go away – but I love the idea that we look at it as “wearing our hearts on our stomachs.”

Really love that concept.  I had a little mind paradigm shift there.

I would love to do some black and white photos of c-section scars or birth scars.

I would like to get a few moms into a studio and take some studio pics that they can have and also I can have in a gallery.

I think it would be even better to wait for better weather and do it outside in a private garden.

I am not 100% clear in my head of how to do them yet.  I figure I can work it out.  I want it to be something you would keep and cherish, rather than hide in the back of your underwear drawer.

If you are in Cape Town, feel like getting na.k.ed or partly clad in a studio or outdoors – and want to do this drop me a note.  My email address is along the side bar, or leave a comment and I will contact you.

I am thinking if I have 3 – 5 woman, I can rent a studio for 2 – 3 hours, if the ladies are keen to chip in to cover the cost of the studio, I will sort out the rest.

We can do wine and photography — I find that is not always the worst combination.

Drop me a note if you are interested in the idea.

If you do not want to do it with anyone else, drop me a note and we can see what we can do.

Or if you have a suggestion to improve on this idea.  I am not sure when I will do it, but it is running around in my head.

Here is Georgia’s birth on 20 June 2005 – first cut and final dab …. look away if you are squeamish …

<seriously – look away, stop scrolling ….>

Last warning.

Otherwise, have a good weekend. Happy Friday everyone!!

Georgia’s Birth …

I was going through some of our photo records, and I started looking at the birth photos of the kids,  and really they are pretty unusual.

I thought I would post them over here … this is Georgia’s birth at Cape Town Medi-Clinic 20 June 2005.

This is the first cut …  (which I believe is the deepest …)

So once the cut is done, they reach in and get her head free – note how skew her nose is – she was so cramped in the uterus …. so here they are suctioning her while they keep her body warm …

and then they yank her out …. much to her displeasure …

They flash her to the camera … she is not quite in the mood for smiling … what with her vernix hanging out and all ..

Doctor is now ready to separate mommy and baby …

She gets taken over the paed and they all check her out …

Strangely enough, she is still less than pleased …

Baby is given to mom … mom has had a rough day, and mom thought the baby would have testicles, so was a little surprised to say the least …

So while I am coming to terms with vagina versus penis issues, the good folks are doing a mighty fine job stitching the cookie bits with the cookie bits, and the chocolate bits with the chocolate bits …

So while the pearl-and-plain brigade are busy, they put baby on my chest – really nice folks these guys at Cape Town Medi-Clinic.

The hospital was brilliant  – it was quite late, so I was the only patient in post-op, they left Georgia with me and let her breastfeed in post-op, what a great experience.

This being born this is just exhausting, Georgia fallen asleep while breastfeeding …

The truth be told, she was not Georgia for at least another two hours.  I was so convinced I was having a boy, I had settled on Callum or Caleb, and not really factored girl’s names into the equation.

Georgia was nameless for several hours following birth.  I really could not have been more surprised had they me a giraffe, but there were are.

Shape of a Mother ….

I found this great website called the Shape of a Mother.  It’s my private little addiction.  I pop along to this site and read the blog updates and look at the images.

The idea of it is that the author/owner of the blog noticed a mom with a babe, and when the mom’s shirt lifted by accident she realized this very healthy and toned looking mom also was sitting with extra skin hanging around her belly.  Yes, I realise it could also have been me – you probably thought the same thing.

The blog owner had this epiphany that the post-pregnancy body has become one of our society’s greatest secrets.

What we are exposed to is the female form airbrushed perfectly.  I used to work for the company that did the pre-press work on Shape, Fit Pregnancy and Swimsuit Magazine – all those girls were airbrushed to an inch of her life.

I would have loved to nab the pre-air-brushed photos and smuggle them out there for the world to see.  I am not denying that the models are beautiful and can really fill out a swimsuit, but you must know they have pimples, and stretch marks and cellulite and marks under their arms like no one’s business.

If you look at yourself in the mirror and it differs from these images that we are bombarded with all day – you tend to opt to wear a bigger shirt, start layering a little more, and hide your body as much as you can. Well that is what I do at any rate.

We talk openly about our sagging or flattened boobs, our wobbly thighs, our expanses of cellulite, our hanging tums and our stretch marks, but god-forbid anyone sees them.

So this very clever woman created this excellent website where women of all ages, shapes, sizes and nationalities can share images of their bodies so it will no longer be secret.   Almost like a blog, but populated by visitors.

To quote directly from her website: “So we can finally see what women really look like sans airbrushes and plastic surgery.

I think it would be nothing short of amazing if a few of our hearts are healed, or if we begin to cherish our new bodies which have done so much for the human race. What if the next generation grows up knowing how normal our bodies are? How truly awesome would that be?”

http://theshapeofamother.com/ even has categories marked Belly, Breasts, Cesareans, Child Loss, Infertility, Inspirational, Plus-Sized, Postpartum, Pregnant, Twins, Triplets and VBAC.

It really is a wonderful website and the women are real, and we recognize these bodies as our own.  Women write in honest terms about how their bodies have changed, and the photos are taken sans great lighting and often without good photographic techniques, so it is real flab, butt-cracks and cellulite.

While I celebrate these women, and nod along to all the comments, I can barely look at myself in the bathroom mirror when I get undressed to shower or bath.

When I sit in the bath with Isabelle, I feel ill that my stomach sort of rolls over and rests itself on my upper thigh while I play with her.

Last night I looked down at my c-section scar and got a bit of a fright as it looked big and really red and ugly –  but I was drinking a glass of wine, and there was a candle, so the lighting and my perception was a bit off.  But I had this immediate feeling of revulsion and sat up in a panic to re-examine it.  It was still a scar, still red, yugh, but maybe not totally revolting, okay well maybe just mildly so.

I used to be okay with my body – I was not out there pole dancing or anything, but I would put on a costume when it was hot, and go for a swim.   I would not scream “look at me, look at me” but I could get myself in a swimsuit and a pair or shorts when the weather demanded it.

Now I crinch at the thought of pouring myself into my swimsuit, even when at home just with Kennith and the kids.  It is not about them seeing me, it is about me seeing me.

I hide from myself.  I dress and undress quickly, so I do not have to witness the white blubbery me. I hate the fact that I used to weight 50kg, and used to hate being skinny.  Now I would drink 5 days of gloop a day, and 7 tons of laxatives to get back to 50kg.

My body is different and I really do not like it.

I know I should be thankful that this body has been good to me.  It is seldom sick, it can stand up to quite a bit.  It carried three healthy children through three healthy pregnancies.  It was strong enough to get through three c-sections, it healed well, and did not let me stay in too much pain.

It let me breastfeed without any problems.  When I did not want to breastfeed it made the milk just go away.  It let me get through bouts of depression without totally giving out on me.  My skin has stretched to make room for these children and the growing me, and it has done it with eloquence and grace, and done me the favour of doing it without one stretch mark (I know, I am shocked too).

I should laud it and praise it, instead I despise it.

I am embarrassed.

I am angry.

I am scared that this is now who I am.  What I see in the mirror does not match who I see in my head.

I have contributed to it’s demise.  It did not get here without the help of a several bowls of delicious pasta, bags of divine Woolworths Chuckles and several litres of wonderful wine.  I am the reason this body is the way it is, and that makes me very angry.

I huff and puff my way through boot camp and hate being there.  Every gasp and gag is fueled by anger.  I do not want to be this fat, cellulite, scarred person – I want to be svelt and 20 years old (but I would like to keep my mature mind …)

There I am flicking through these images of women being real on shape of a mother, and still I am hiding behind my baggy black shirt.  Why does this bother me more today than it did yesterday?

Today I am trying on wedding dresses in front of strangers.  That means my body is going to be on display – as you cannot get into these dresses without help.  That means I am going to be trying to corset myself up into a dress that is going to make my fat roll over the top and my hips putting a bit of strain on the stitching.

Another day, in another place, I can post about who I love my body, or even like it – but not today.

Have you seen my perineum?

I belong to a forum that generally chats about mommy related issues.  Sometimes they speak about driver’s licences and domestic workers wages, but that no doubt, is another story for another day.

The one very contentious subject which keeps coming up is the vaginal birth versus a c-section birth.  This one gets the guns smoking in no time.

No matter how the question is posed, or the reason for the start of the thread – and there are literally dozens –  it always ends up the same way.  Someone says something stupid, and then someone wants to give them a cyber-space bitch slap.

The conclusion that always seems to be formed is that c-section moms are judged for having c-sections – no matter how subtle the judgement.  I am not an overly sensitive person and I to tend to tread where angels fear to go and all that, but I have noted that the more threads I read, the more apparent this feeling.

The reason for why you have chosen a c-section is always prodded, like there is something wrong with you and you need to defend yourself.

The c-section moms often explain the trauma of the birth process that they have been through.  The risk to the baby.  They make it clear, that they did not choose this route, but ended up having to have an emergency c-section.  Usually they are bashfully apologizing “I tried natural but ….” I can almost hear the desperation in their voices.  Pleading not to be shunned by the vaginal-birth crowd.

There are a minority – at last count two – but no doubt more who just have not commented who elected to have a c-section.

We have no history of complications.  We chose not to go through a trial of labour.  We consciously elected to have c-sections as our choice of birth method.

It was not chosen because we are “too posh to push” – it was chosen as a healthy method of bringing our baby into the world – alive – without limited (if any) risk to him or her.

At 8 weeks pregnant – first scan, I looked at my OBGYN and said “I’d like to have a c-section.” He said “okey-dokey” or something of that nature, and that was the end of the conversation.

I felt no pressure to defend my choice with him, and the choice felt very natural to me.   We had the birth date set, and then the questions (almost accusations) started.

Some of my family thought there was something wrong with me.  Why would  I choose to have such a hideous invasive surgery done when I had a healthy v-jay just waiting to spring into action.

I felt quite strongly that for me, this was the safest route.  The only risk I could ascertain would be carried by me – the mom.  My baby – barring other complications – would come out of the birth process, pretty much risk free, subject to the correct EDD calculation (early c-sections clearly have their problems, but that is another subject).

I had Connor more than 8 years ago, and then I knew very few people who had experienced a c-section through choice – most were emergency or medically advised.

I had researched the topic and weighed up the pro’s and con’s of a vaginal birth versus a c-section.   I was open to either at the beginning of my research.

As I looked and delved in to the subject, the decision to opt for a c-section had fewer risks for my child.  There was also a good chance that my perineum would continue to separate my wee area from my poo area for eternity – which a vaginal birth could not guarantee, and listed as a possibly complication.

I had unfortunately read one too many reports of women who were experiencing serious problems in their nether regions following a vaginal births.  I realized that it was not everyone, but there was a risk of trauma to my perineum tearing which did fill me with a bit of concern.  Sure there are good tears – aren’t there always, but it was the bad ones that did raise my eyebrow a bit!  Again, nothing could be guaranteed it was more wait and see decision making.

One of the main motivators for my final decision was the control aspect – the one that tipped the scales shall we say.  I knew where it was going to be, I knew who would be there, I knew pretty much everything that was going to happen on that day.

The option with a vaginal birth is that there were a lot of “let’s wait and see how it goes” answers to my queries.  Not having a list to tick off causes me huge anxiety, and stress.  I need a list and I need a pretty ink pen to tick things off – that is the way I am programmed.

As time has gone by and I have gone through the process three times, the feeling of “attack” by the vaginal birth crowd is becoming more apparent.  There really is a feeling of two camps on this issue.  You are either for the one and against the other.  There does not seem to be much in the way of fence-sitting on this subject.

Things started to bother me – as I became a little more jaded and maybe a little crabbier, and maybe a little more inclined not to suffer fools.

Vaginal birth was always referred to as “natural” while c-section was well, just a c-section.   By one being natural, surely it would make the other “unnatural” …

The vaginal set seemed to laud the fact that they did not take drugs for the pain or preferred not to take any pain relief. They were really proud of it, and sort of announced it to all and sundry, like a Girl Guide equivalent of pain endurance.

I have yet to hear a vaginal birth mom say “listen it was so much fun, no pain, it was brilliant – my fanny feels great after that!

At the end of the day they do admit that squeezing a +3 kilogram mass out  of your v-jay-jay, no matter how cute the mass is, can get pretty sore.  Even once the endorphins have worked their way out of your system, it is still pretty sore.

The labour preceding the actual pushing seems to be excruciating too, and I have seen many women lose thier sense of humour during the 12 – 36 hours of gritting thier teeth through that.  They are always quick to say “it was all worth it.”

So why no drugs? And why is it a badge of honour to not take drugs or some pain relief?

There are a lot of things which are “natural” which are not good for you.  Naturally occurring elements such as arsenic, mercury, lead, and cadmium are toxic in various concentrations to both plants and animals.   No one seems to have a problem with avoiding those at all costs even though they are natural.

As humans there is stuff that happens to our bodies that are natural – teeth rot, we lose vision, we develop a bit of Alzheimer’s, we might even develop a bit of leprosy or gangrene if left out in the Amazon for too long.  Rabies is pretty natural too last time I checked.

Medical advances has given us some wonderful options to prevent us going through all this rather excruciating trauma.  Either taking anti-biotics (not natural) or having operations (not natural) to relieve us of this pain, or even to make our lives better seems to be the way to go, judging by the amount of time we spend at doctor’s offices.

And here is the rub for me …..

We do let medicine intervene in lots of things that make us feel better, or reduce our pain.  But why – oh why – do women insists on going through child birth, which no one disagrees is really painful, without medication, and then announce it like it is a badge of honour that they let their fanny stretch to all time size without asking for pain relief!

If that same women went to the dentist and had a filling or root canal work done and opted to not have medication and then proudly announced it afterwards.  Her family and all her friends would view her as a freak and have her committed to the nearest psychological observation clinic post-haste.

But all this birth and no drugs viewed as natural – puts all this pressure on soon to be moms to think that this is what they must aim for, anything less is well just not good enough.

I realize I am not being as eloquent as I should regarding this subject, but it is one of those things that baffles my mind, so I am just having a little vent here.

But tune in later as no doubt I will have a similar vent at a later date.

The one about the Anesthetist …..

I deal with things well if I am given time to digest them and work them over in my mind.  I can pretty much do anything given the time to mentally prepare.  I however do not react well to being put on the spot.  For this reason and this reason alone, the odds of me winning “The Weakest Link” are remote at the best.

While pregnant with my third child, I really enjoyed the pregnancy – or shall I say I lived in the moment through the pregnancy. I enjoyed each week and the development and the changes in me.  Sure there were parts were I felt pretty grim, and I am sure bitched and moaned because I was so sore, but I lived the experience.

The experience I shunned was the birth.  I had experienced two elective c-sections and they were both fine, there really was no problem.  It was an odd experience in terms of feeling the sensations, but not feeling the pain, but overall it was a good experience.  For some strange reason, I decided that I would not mentally deal with the birth the third time around. I would keep blocking it out and deciding than I would deal with it later.

I was busy planning, and organizing and all of that, but decided that when I went on maternity leave – before I had the baby – I would spend a few days allowing myself to think about it and deal with it.  Well, it seemed I didn’t.

Even on the day I was going to hospital – I spent my time planning and organizing what would happen with the house and the kids in my absence.  I just took no cognizance of how they were going to get her out and that process.

Even at the hospital in my “gown that opens the wrong way” I quietly sat there talking to Kennith about other things.  They came along and took my blood pressure and gave me a little tranquiliser – bless – and still I put it totally out of my mind.

Wheeling me down the passage to the theatre, started to set off little alarms in my head, as my body was going “er brain, you have not mentioned this part ….. we are getting a little concerned here…er brain, BRAIN are you even there??”

Right up to pre-op I was lying on the trolley bed and trying not to deal with what was going to be the inevitable proc ess, slowly, slowly the panic started to set in.  I was trying to look really calm and relaxed as I had Kennith there and my friend Dave who was going to do some photos.

I think the final straw the broke the camel’s back was the anesthetist.  You know how they come over and reassure you, and tell you it’s all going to be fine.  Not this guy.  He came over and asked a few questions, which I duly answered.  Then he started to explain to me all the things that could go wrong – including the fact that a spinal block doesn’t always work.

It pretty much had a similar effect to police firing bullets into a crowd in the hope of calming them!  Do you think at Riot Control 101 – there is a class where the lecturer does role play where they police fire bullets into a crowd and they calmly go and take their seats??

After the anesthetist left, my sanity seemed to leave the room at the same time.  They wheeled me in and then they prep you for the spinal block, so it is you, anesthetist guy and anesthetist nurse person.  By some act of mercy, my OBGYN came in to the surgery and asked if he could stay there and then he held my hand and let me cling to him while they jabbed a giant needle into my spinal coloumn.

Any semblance of restraint and comfort left me about then – things start to move swiftly once that is done and you have lost feeling in your legs.  They lie you down, pop up that screen, and suddenly a large group of theatre people enter the room and everyone starts doing things.  Moving trays, wiping me with iodine, putting blue/green sheets everywhere and just being busy productive people.

My anesthetist guy suddenly became my best friend, as he was the guy who single handedly was going to be responsible for me not feeling pain!

I started to panic – like really panic.  Kennith was holding my hand, or I was grabbing his arm – I can’t recall now.  But I just recall being panicked.  I felt like something was going to go terribly wrong – what I am not sure, but I did not feel ready for them to do anything.  My heart rate picked up and the anesthetist guy gave me an oxygen mask and tried to bring my heart rate down.

I was telling Kennith to make them stop.  Kennith looked over the curtain and explained that they had gone a bit far, and they sort of had to finish.  I was so anxious and just wanted to sit up and go “Ookaai everyone, let’s stop, take a breath, calm ourselves and talk a bit ………….” Clearly none of that was happening, what was happening was they were cutting through what felt like my entire body, and then the pulling started.

The not-so-funny-part was I know this part, I am well verses in this, I’ve been there, got the t-shirt and went back to get the commemorative silver spoon.  But because my little brain had not decided to deal with this and had instead packed this issue in a box, and kicked it under the bed, I was in full fledged panic mode.

It really was one of the more terrifying experiences of my life.  There was nothing about the procedure that was bad, I had just chosen not to deal with it and prepare myself to go through it. It is strange how your mind is such a strong controlling force when you experience something, and has a direct effect on how you experience that moment.

Lesson learnt:   Stop procrastinating and deal with your stuff – I was going to say shit, but decided not to – for your own sanity.

Pregnancy – all it’s aches and groans

I really love being pregnant, there is something so magical and euphoric about the process that is going on inside your body, and I really enjoy it.

Each of my three pregnancies was so different that I would really be unable to say that “pregnancy is…” So I would imagine if all three pregnancies in the same body differed so, how much pregnancy from woman to woman must differ.

With Connor I sailed through the pregnancy, and probably had two bouts of heartburn that lasted about 10 minutes each – that was pretty much the level of my discomfort through the entire 9 months.

Because this was my first pregnancy and I did not know any better, I assumed all pregnancies were the same, and could not understand what other women found so hard.  You know how one gets on one’s soap box and thinks with a little knowledge you know everything, that might well have been me.  I would roll my eyes when I heard other women complaining about how the tough time they were having.  (Just wait, I got my just desserts ten fold…..)

I also think that the “mind space” you are in has a huge effect on how the pregnancy is going to go for you.  First time around I was really in a good place, and my relationship with Kennith was solid and we were on the same page.  I felt supported, loved and cherished.  If I looked vaguely unwell he would let me have a lie down and bring me the odd ice cream – bless his cotton socks!

Second pregnancy a whole new cereal box.  First trimester found me with IBS and overwhelming nausea.  I was ill from the get go and really just wanted to curl up into a little ball somewhere with a blankie over my head.  I was working a stressful job, with killer deadlines, and trying to juggle my 3-year-old son and work was a bit of a strain. My relationship with Kennith was all but in the toilet – not a clean toilet, but rather the one that has not been flushed for some time and you find in public-cubicles-servicing –homeless-people.

By the second trimester, I think my immune system was so beaten that it just left me susceptible to pretty much any infection that was going.  I had become a petri dish for pink-eye, bronchitis, sinusitis, and what ever else I could catch.

I also found that during the second trimester I developed back pain that came out of nowhere.  I could not roll over at night. I would need to sit up – more shuffle up, than sit – and then move my body to the other side, and slowly lower myself into the lying position to fall sleep.  This would go on several times during the night.

It was exhausting and very sore.  I read up and found out all about that lovely hormone Relaxin that loosens your pelvis and gets it ready to shove a head the size of a watermelon through!  Thanks for that.  Now even though we all knew no head was going to be jammed through anywhere, my body had a little checklist and continued to supply my body with Relaxin which made my back ache.

I recall having some stressful moments during my first pregnancy, but I can honestly say that second time around I had pushed past stress into high level paranoia.  There were several times where I thought the baby had died and rushed myself off to the OBGYN for a scan and reassurance.  It was really awful, and the terror really grips you.  I am convinced that between your hormone soaked brain, your over-active imagination and your constant worry about the future, it becomes the breeding ground for paranoia to reign supreme.  My paranoia monster not only reigned supreme, she invaded other countries.  It really was very scary.

As  Kennith and I were barely talking let alone basking in the happiness, I felt very alone and had no support during this period.  I was desperate, lonely and afraid, and as I felt more abandoned that I ever had.  My retaliation was to push Kennith as far away as possible – actually all the way up Kilimanjaro and beyond if the truth be told.  It is very similar to when police fire bullets into a crowd to calm them – similar effect.

During my third pregnancy, I started with a good dose of IBS – but managed to kick that in it’s ar*e around the third month.  Second trimester my body again did not get the memo that I really did not need any Relaxin.  It decided that it was now going to step up production and give me loads – I could bottle it and sell it if I wanted.  From about month 4 I was sure that my pelvis was busy crowning a baby – damn it was uncomfortable.   I was convinced that I would go for my monthly visits to the OBGYN and he was going to tell me I was 10cm dilated at that point.  That’s sort of how it felt.

I would fall into a simulated coma at about 8pm.  My inability to sleep on any side would wake me up around 2 – 3am and then I would just stay awake.  Clearly this would do wonders for my rather death-induced look that proceeded to wash over me from about 11am each day.

Everything ached. As long as I was not moving it was great, but walking, sitting, standing and so on were decidedly uncomfortable.   I think Relaxin decided to loosen up my what-keeps-your-wee-in-sphincter – , some things are best not remembered.

You would think that by the third time around I would not sweat the small stuff and actually just take things in my stride.  I would say that clearly you do not know me.  I again started to stress that the baby’s heartbeat was not happening and and and and ……. Well back to my new best friends at fertilitree.com as I could rent an electronic Doppler from them – how clever are those girls!!

It’s a ……….. baby

Kennith needed to go home and go and sort out a hospital bag for me, as I had nothing prepared. I called my mom to update her as to what was going on and ask that Connor stay on a few more days.

They wheeled me in around 18h30 and I was terrified.  I am one of those people who can prepare for anything given the time to get my head around it, but do not do well with things being sprung on me.  This felt a bit like an ambush.

Suddenly every old wive’s tale relating to c-sections was going to come true and I was going to feel everything and the baby was going to be in distress and and and …… The surgery went fine, I was scared, and the doctors were great.  They spoke about where they were going to go for sushi after they finished putting my uterus back together, which I thought was nice and jolly of them.  They pulled screaming baby out of the warm gushy spot that had been it’s home for 9 months and dangled baby over the curtain divide.  The problem was that the genitals were so swollen that I had no idea what it was and had to ask Kennith.

Of course it was a girl – my female intuition was so far off.  I could not have been more shocked than if they dangled a giraffe over the divide.  There just was no portion of my mind that had allowed for this to be a girl.  I was thrilled, shocked and stunned.

I was even more stunned by the way the hospital was behaving.   Once the doctor’s had checked her over and she was fine, they put her with me in surgery while they were stitching me up.  It was a bit awkward, so I handed her back to Kennith fully expecting her to be whisked away to neonatal care for observation as they had done with Connor.

They wheeled me to post-op and Kennith and baby walked behind – it was all very strange.  In post-op the nurse was latching the baby and offering me tea.   The name we had of Callum or Calub clearly was not going to work for this little cherub, so she remained nameless for the first few hours while we toyed with a few options.

What really was incredible is that Kennith had known since 12 weeks at the first fetal scan that it was a girl.  We have a great doctor at the fetal assessment centre who has yet to get it wrong.  She told Kennith it was a girl at 12 weeks, 3 days – and confirmed it when we went back in at 18 weeks .  Kennith managed to keep this a secret and did not breathe a word to anyone.

He had gone through the entire process with me of picking boy’s names and the associated discussions.  We had even bought a blue and green dragon fly light for the baby’s room.  He had gone along with it all, without giving it away for a moment.  I was convinced he had let it drop on two occasions that it was a boy – which had only further reinforced my knowledge that it MUST be a boy.

Georgia remained with me even when they wheeled me to the room and she was left with us to feed and bond.  Eventually at about midnight they came by and asked if they could take her to give her a wash.

The hospital was great and the nurses were really good.  The main motivation for wanting to go natural (and initially I wanted a home birth … ha ha ha… I am screeching with laughter at the recollection – I am such a woos for pain, there is no way I would have got past the first contraction. ) I just did not want to be pushed around by the nurses.  I wanted some control over what was going on.  This was 180 degrees from the birth with Connor.  I felt much more in control, and the nurses had a very different attitude – I was more of a client than a patient, and they definitely were not as pushy as I remembered.

Kennith made the relevant calls to friends and family to announce the arrival of our girl, but it really was tinged with a veil of sadness.  As people were saying congratulations, they were also passing condolences on for Kennith’s sister, Melanie.  The day after the birth Kennith attended the funeral – and then came back to spend the evening at the hospital.

We were both exhausted, and though happy that we had a healthy girl, there was an undercurrent of unease and real unhappiness which would set the tone for many months to come.

Is it possible this could get worse?

In the middle of the night, Kennith’s cell phone rang. It was his dad calling.  Kennith’s younger sister, Melanie, had died.  Kennith’s dad was driving in from Gansbaai to go through to the hospital where her body had been brought it.  It really was that phone call you dreaded, and it set the tone for a horrific weekend.

Kennith went through to the hospital to meet his father and his aunt.  Kennith’s grandmother had some heart problems, and had not been well for the last few months.  There was concern that the news of her grand-daughter’s death might bring on another heart attack, so they wanted to drive to Gansbaai to break it to her in person.

I was ill with a chest infection (for a change), bad flu and 38 weeks pregnant.  I decided to drive through with Kennith to my mom who lives in Hermanus and take Connor with me.  I thought I could go and sleep at my mom’s home and she could assist and look after Connor, because there was no way I could cope by myself.  I also wanted to offer some support to Kennith.

My mom offered to keep Connor with her for a few days and bring him back to Cape Town the following week, to give me some time to rest as we were both looking very grim.

We got home and we absolutely zonked out for two days.  On Sunday afternoon I woke up and decided to make some comfort food as we had not eaten properly in days.  I was scratching for a pot and the effort had me wheezing and trying to catch my breath.  Clearly I was in great shape to attempt labour!

At about 10pm I felt worse that I think I have ever felt. I also had not felt the baby move in ages and was panicking.  I was struggling to breath and asked Kennith to take me to the ER as I felt that if I felt this bad, the baby could not be fine – it was not possible.

The ER doctor was great and listened for the heart beat and all was fine.  He suggested I go onto a morphine drip, but there was a risk to the baby and I would need to be monitored.  I decided it was too big a risk, and we went home.

The following say we had our OBGYN appointment at 12h00.  I dragged myself in there feeling half dead, and really just hoping someone would pull out a gun and put me out of my miseries.

She checked the baby who was doing fine – aren’t they always, while you cling on to life with your bleeding fingers??  The baby had not dropped and I was no where near going in to labour.  I really wanted to suggest a c-section but I felt so embarrassed as I had been fighting so hard for the last few months to insist on being allowed to go natural. And to ask now I felt would just be embarrassing and such a defeat – I had really kicked up a fuss to get my own way.

Kennith came to my rescue and asked “if we do a c-section – when can we do it?”  The OBGYN suggested I go upstairs to the ward and have a few hours of physio to try to clear up my chest, try to sleep and we do the c-section that night.

I was so relieved that the decision had been made for me. Some times it is great to just sit back, let go of the steering wheel and let someone else drive for you.

It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets any better ….

Kennith and I argued a great deal.  Not those nice calm loud discussion we had experienced in the past – but those real screamers that usually ended up with profanity being yelled across the house.   It was truly horrible – on the upside he was seldom there so the arguments were not that frequent.

Besides the pressure of doing MBA, Kennith had committed to doing a trip up Kilimanjaro about a month after our second baby was due.  This meant that when the MBA finally finished, Kennith started going to gym after work, and on the weekends going on hikes to train for Killimanjaro.

To say I was livid, would not even hint at the anger I was feeling.  I was so annoyed and disappointed. His actions really just re-enforced my feelings of abandonment.  For me the resounding message was “those you rely on will abandon you at the time when you need them most.”  Kennith’s actions drive this message home again and again over this period.

I was desperately ill during the pregnancy.  Probably because I was just so stretched in terms of what I could cope with. I started to pick up every infection that went around.  I was always sick and lethargic. I could not cope, and at about this time Kennith in all his MBA wisdom, had decided that now was a super great time to go and climb a mountain.

One day I got home late from work, and was exhausted.  My job was very stressful and also required me to literally run around a production floor.  Kennith was working at the dining room table, and we got into a fight about the bed that he had just bought.  It was a huge screaming fight – but the fight had nothing to do with the acquisition of the bed.  The fight was about my desperation of being left alone, that he knew how I felt, and chose either not to care or not to notice.

I had made an awful decision to have a second baby, which would only tie me to this man for longer.  I really needed to get out of this relationship.  About a month before I was due I ran away from home and went to seek refuge at my mom’s home for about a week.  I really just slept and was taken care of which was great.  Of course nothing would change on returning home.

The pregnancy progressed and it was anything but peaceful.  I was ill, over worked, over stressed and exhausted.  I decided that I did not want to know the sex of the baby.  I was convinced it was a second boy.  I decided if I did not actually find out then I could have a mild fantasy about having a daughter – which I was desperate for.

Kennith attended all if not most of the OBGYN visits.  They really were not great times, and we would often get into a fight as I would arrive late.

To further aggravate my situation I decided that I wanted to go into labour and go through a trial of labour.  It became an obsession.  I had a planned c-section with Connor and it had gone along without any incident. In fact it was brilliant.  But for some reason, my rather hormone-soaked brain decided that this is what I was going to do – and  no one could reason with me.    Anyone who tried to reason with me seemed to spur me on even more in my resolve.

My OBGYN tried to talk me into a c-section and I just got my back up and even went as far as to visit a midwife, as I was considering changing care providers.  I was out of control, and desperate, and making the most bizarre decisions which only added more stress on to the situation.

In my final trimester, I had picked up bronchitis and a few bouts of pink eye, and remained ill throughout.

This baby was due at the end of June, and I was just going to wait it out, though I was so exhausted I could barely stand, but somehow I thought I would be able to get through labour!

The Crying Game Begins

The pregnancy moved along without much incident.  There were some work issues and  I resign to do some freelance work.

I worked three freelance jobs in my last two months of pregnancy as I felt this overwhelming urge to ensure we had a nest egg in place.  I was feeling fit and good, so other than being a bit tired, it was all quite jolly.

My OBGYN was supportive of an elective c-section – bless him.

I’m a bit of type-A and the idea of squeezing something the size of a rugby ball out of my front-bottom, compounded by not being able to plan when-where-and-how was really not helping my stress levels.

Once I had a date, and a theatre booked, I felt much better.  I had managed to focus only on the pregnancy and the idea that at the end of this   I had nothing to compare the two procedures against in terms of pain and drug supply, but I felt strongly I would be more calm in a situation where I had some control, so a c-section was the block that I ticked.

The idea of freedom of choice has not really worked its way down into the rather complicated maze of childbirth and there was still a definite opposition to c-sections.

The question I had to field the most regularly was “what’s wrong with you?” and I found myself explaining my situation even to a very strange woman in Woolworths who happened to get my work telephone number and ring me there to “chat” some more – I kid you not.

The idea of the c-section was a bit daunting.  Someone hacking through you with a very sharp scalpel and moving your insides around is scary no matter how good a mood you are in.  I felt like I had read every pregnancy/birth book (I am a voracious reader) and felt comfortable and safe with my choice.

Everything went to schedule and our bonny wee lad Connor was born on the morning of the 10 December.  There was much hand clapping and cheering – I had my friend David come and take photographs during the surgery and he was a great addition.  I was blissfully happy until day three rolled around, then I started to cry and cry.  It was quite staggering exactly how much tears and snot really could come out of one person and I was almost inconsolable.   The nurses seems to look at me with disdain which did not help my cause in the least.

My friend Alice refers to it as “literally crying over split milk,” which is a very good reference.  I was sobbing and howling – the kind where your eyes are red and swollen and there are large globules of saliva dripping out of your mouth.  I am not talking about the polite cry where the odd tear makes it’s way down your just foundation-applied face.

I felt the nurses all knew more than me and were mean and controlling, actually the janitor probably knew more than me at that point.  I was hopelessly untrained and unskilled for my new role.

My biggest surprise was that I did not get a baby manual at the hospital – it seemed like a very complicated purchase to not be provided with some sort of manual.  I felt information about the baby, when to feed, my boobs and I could not retain anything.  I really really started to panic.

It was so apparent that when it came to going home day, my OBGYN asked if I would like to stay another day – through my blubbering I said “I’m fine.”

Kennith fetched me.  I was still blubbering.  I managed to get myself dressed, bath my wrinkled little baby, get my flowers and “congratulations it’s a boy” balloons together and make my way to the exit of the hospital.  I felt reassured that the nurse walked with us to the door of the hospital.

I was so desperately afraid I am sure she could see the pleading in my eyes and smell the fear on my skin.  It did seem rather abrupt when she handed us the baby, and then retreated with the bassinet behind the sterile sliding doors of the hospital leaving us alone on the kerb holding this wrapped up baby.

I had not factored the “drive home from hell” – so in retrospect I wish I had known what a truly happy moment I was having right then and there.