Kate’s not alone

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There has been a lot of conflicting opinions about whether Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, left hospital too soon after giving birth to little Princess Charlotte.

With my second child I left hospital after 20 hours. I just wanted to sleep in my own bed without listening to other babies crying and without the nurses chatter disturbing me. What I hadn’t counted on was that people took that to mean there was endless visiting hours at our home.

The night after giving birth to our daughter I had 26 visitors at my house at dinner time. I was exhausted and wanted time to rest and bond with my new baby. Instead I was hosting a party and ordering in copious amounts of pizza to feed the hordes.

Returning home also signified to my husband that I was back on board to care for our toddler and resume cooking and cleaning. I was exhausted and didn’t give myself a chance to heal and rest after what was a stressful experience for my body.

For the birth of my subsequent children I stayed in hospital for 3 days which meant I had allotted rest times, scheduled visiting hours, had time to stare at my beautiful baby without worrying about chores and best of all just had to tick a box on a sheet to order my meals.

While I truly understand Kate’s motivation to leave hospital immediately, having done it myself I wouldn’t choose to do it again. Having said that I’m sure Kate has nannies, chefs and cleaners so maybe returning home so early won’t be quite as exhausting for her.

There’s one thing I can tell you for sure is that I certainly didn’t look as glamourous as Kate when I left hospital with my newborn babies!

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IS KATE A BIT OF A PRINCESS?

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As the news flashed across the world the Princess Kate and Prince William are expecting their next child I was of course thrilled with the news. The palace was forced to release the news early due to Kate being sick with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (severe morning sickness).

I also suffered from morning sickness, throwing up every day for 20 weeks with each of my four pregnancies – that is almost two years of my life vomiting every day! I wasn’t just a bit queasy, I was so ill that I ended up with broken blood vessels in my eyelids from the force of the heaving! The funny thing with morning sickness is that it becomes such a regular thing that you just accept the routine of having to hug the toilet bowl several times a day.

When pregnant with my fourth child, I had to deal with, not only being sick every day, but I had two small children at two different schools, which meant every morning was a juggling act getting them ready and at each school on time, paired with afternoons running them around to a multitude of activities. I also had a toddler to look after while I ran my own business. I was in the process of suing our company’s landlord, which was a David and Goliath struggle against a large multi-national company. We also sold our home and moved into a rental property while we were in the midst of building a new home (which took 12 months longer than planned) and I did all this without the help of a shopper, cook, nanny or a plethora of doctors to help me! As they say, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!’

While I feel sorry for Kate in this period of sickness, she is lucky to be surrounded by all the help she could possibly require to allow her to just focus on looking after her health.

I’m sure Kate is sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, but the struggle of dealing with morning sickness becomes just a shadow in your memory once your new baby arrives. After all, her previous illness didn’t stop her from wanting to get pregnant again. So what are you betting on, a new prince or a little princess for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge?

BABY’S SEX  

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Nine months of cultivating and carrying a little person around inside you is a long time. Some people want to find out as much as they can about their little bundle of joy before it’s arrival, including it’s sex, whilst others want to keep it a surprise.

When I found out I as pregnant with my first child I was keen to find out it’s gender at the first ultrasound, but my husband insisted that finding out the sex of your baby is like peeking at a gift under the Christmas tree. Once you know what you’re getting the surprise is gone. Having experienced this phenomenon a few times as a child when the lure of a wrapped present under the tree was too much for my curious mind to handle and having expertly peeled back a corner of the wrapping to take a peek, I never got the same joy out of that present, as I did a complete surprise. As I could appreciate his argument, we agreed to not find out the sex of our baby – although I was pretty sure it was a boy.

We kept the nursery neutral and bought pastel baby clothes. I obviously missed out on the female intuition gene as in fact, as our beautiful baby wasn’t a boy, but a gorgeous girl.

The following two pregnancies we again chose to not find out the gender of our baby, and strangely enough, I thought they were both going to be boys, only to find out at the birth they were girls. I was so certain with my third child that I had seen a ‘bundle’ between the baby’s legs in the ultrasound that I actually bought boys clothes in readiness. It turns out the ‘bundle’ was the umbilical cord!

By the time I was pregnant for the fourth time, I was certain that we could only make girls! Statistically, you are only supposed to have a 5% chance of having the opposite gender after you have three of the same sex in a row.

Due to concerning test results I chose to have an amniocenteses where they actually look at the genes of the child. I knew my husband didn’t want to know what we were having, but I couldn’t help myself and found out. I was shocked when I was told it was a boy. For five months I didn’t tell a soul that I knew what I was having, as I didn’t think it was fair for someone else to know when the father didn’t know.

I did however; take advantage of this time to buy loads of boy’s clothes, telling my husband that I would sell them on Ebay if we had another girl.

I must admit the surprise was gone from this birth, but the joy and unbridled love for your child is as intense, regardless of whether you know what you are having in advance. Irrespective of whether you choose to know your child’s sex or not, you still have the wonder of seeing your newborn for the first time, because no matter how good ultrasound technology is, you don’t know what they will look like, until you hold them in your arms.

 

(Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, freedigitalphotos.net)

LABOUR PLAN

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When I was pregnant for the first time, I took the idea of a labour plan very seriously. I had very honourable and virtuous intentions of having no pain relief – after all, women have been having babies for thousands of years without any intervention. If a lady in Africa can squat beneath a tree to give birth I could easily do that in the comfort of a hospital delivery room! 

My labour was induced so I had time to set up Kenny G music playing quietly in the background and as my labour pains began in earnest I was incredibly focused on breathing my way through the pain. I continued on my virtuous path for about half an hour, at which point my nervous excitement had turned into true gut wrenching pain that I couldn’t believe any human body could endure. At that point I requested a little bit of nitrous oxide gas to help me on my birthing journey. 

That quickly escalated into a request for any drugs the nurse could put her hands on! I was given pethadine, which just made me nauseous. Eventually, as my original birth plan was completely shredded and incinerated, I requested an epidural. ‘No problems’ the kind midwife responded, then unbeknownst to me turned and whispered to my husband ‘We can’t find the anesthetist.’ In hindsight I was so glad she didn’t share that with me, as at least I felt there was a light at the end of the tunnel.

Shortly thereafter I was told that my baby was crowning and that there was no time for any more drugs. The time had come for my bundle of joy (or wicked pain inducing monster as I thought of her at the time) to be born!

Four hours after being induced, my screams of pain, were replaced with cries of our beautiful newborn baby girl.

The next pregnancy I had to be induced again. This time when the midwives asked if I had a birthing plan, I responded, “As soon as I have any labour pains I want you to give me an epidural.” They laughed until I told them I was serious. I had tried the righteous path last time and this time I wanted an easy ride. I spent most of my second labour sipping tea and eating biscuits, feeling no pain as I watched my contractions on the print out from the machine attached to my belly. “Now, this is the way to do labour,” I thought!

I again chose to have an epidural with my third child, however the anesthetist had me lie on my side when he inserted the needle, so I was only numbed down one side. If you have excruciating pain ripping through one side of your body it defeats the whole purpose of having an epidural! My third daughter was born within an hour and half so I had no time for any further intervention.

I guess whole point of this post is to say that every labour is different and whilst it is a great idea to have a birth plan, the best plan is to be flexible and do what is right for you. At the end of the day, the only important thing is the health of the Mother and Child and not whether you ‘succumbed’ to pain relief in labour.

 

(Photo courtesy of Keerati, freedigitalphotos.net)

MISCARRIAGE – THE SILENT GRIEF

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Miscarriage is a common occurrence – one in five pregnancies end this way, however people rarely share the grief and torment that they go through at the time. If is often, only years later when the emotion isn’t so raw that people open up about their experiences.

The moment you see the positive lines on a pregnancy test you start to bond with that child. You establish its due date and start to prepare (at least mentally) for the addition of the child to your family. To then suddenly, through no fault of your own, have your pregnancy end is devastating.

Everyone deals with this situation differently. Some choose to avoid people who are pregnant or have a baby because their grief is too raw for them to spend time with those who are living the dream they had for themselves. Others accept that life must go on and don’t want to be excluded from social situations where there are children, as that just accentuates their loneliness.

Given that roughly 70% of miscarriages are due to genetic abnormalities, a miscarriage is usually nature’s way of dealing with an unviable embryo. If a baby can’t survive in the ideal environment of the mother’s womb, then it would have no way of being able to survive in the real world. In the other 30% of miscarriages, it alerts the mother to any physical conditions that may make carrying a baby difficult and allows her obstetrician to intervene and closely monitor her the next time around.

The hardest part with a miscarriage is that since most people don’t share their pregnancy news until after the first trimester (for the very reason of the risk of losing the baby), it is a silent grief that the parents go through. To the outside world that has no idea that you were pregnant, life continues on as before, with them blissfully unaware of your earth shattering loss.

It’s difficult to not think about milestones – I would have been x weeks pregnant; I would have had an ultrasound around now or my baby was due today. The only comfort is the old adage that ‘time heals all wounds’. With time (and possibly a new successful pregnancy) these thoughts subside and life doesn’t revolve around your loss anymore.

So to anyone reading this that has suffered a miscarriage, just know you are not alone and that whilst you will never forget the lost pregnancy, you will find closure and come to terms with your silent grief.

 

 

 

 

(Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, freedigitalphotos.net)

RUSSIAN ROULETTE

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I have recently heard of several ‘surprise’ pregnancies – one baby that has been born into a family with teenage kids who thought their days of babies and nappies were well and truly over, and one with a couple who had long ago agreed they wouldn’t be having children.

 

I am speaking from experience when I say that if you have decided that you don’t intend on ever having children in the future, that if you don’t do something permanent about it, then you are playing Russian roulette.

 

We had three delightful daughters and had decided our family was complete when we surprised with the conception of our gorgeous son. Luckily for us, there wasn’t too much of an age gap with our youngest and being a boy cemented the feeling that he was just meant to be. To this day I honestly don’t know how he was conceived as even though we were actively trying not to fall pregnant we ended up with our ‘surprise’ bundle of joy. During the labour with my son, I gripped my husband’s arm and stared him in the eyes before saying ‘Don’t you ever get me pregnant again!’ Soon thereafter he was booked in the ‘snip’ so that we didn’t have the possibility of another ‘surprise’ child.

 

The lady in the childless couple went to the doctor to see if he could help her get over a gastro bug. After the doctor felt her stomach to see if there were any unusual growths, he confirmed in fact there was – a baby. After an ultrasound she found out she was 24 weeks pregnant. It is quite a shock to come to terms with having a surprise pregnancy, but an even greater one if you had never intended on having children in the first place.

 

The baby born into the family with teens is being smothered with love and the family is adjusting to their new addition.

 

One thing is for sure, whether you plan them or not, once a ‘surprise’ baby is born, you can’t imagine life without them!

 

 

(photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, freedigitalphotos.net)

PLACENTA BRAIN

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I want to know what happens to your brain cells when you are pregnant.  It is like they dissolve overnight, as if your body is so busy cultivating new life, it doesn’t have time to maintain it’s normal function. I think maybe it’s the placenta sucking all reasonable thought processes out of your head – which is why I like to call the phenomenon ‘Placenta brain’.

When pregnant with my first child, I had many times where I wondered whether I might have had a lobotomy overnight! One morning I awoke, poured cereal into a mug, put the cereal container in fridge then instead of getting milk out to put on the cereal, I got distracted by grapes in the fridge and found myself standing there munching on grapes, wondering why I was at the fridge in the first place.

Any time through my pregnancy, and for some time afterwards, if my brain wouldn’t function, I would simply blame my placenta head and move on.

The sad thing is, that it isn’t like you give birth and your brain cells return immediately. The worse case I suffered was a mixture of placenta brain and sleep deprivation. A dear, elderly neighbour came to visit my gorgeous newborn baby girl. My neighbour was very talented at porcelain painting and said she would like to paint a porcelain baby’s bootie with my daughter’s name and date of birth. My first thought was how it was such a sweet gesture. She then asked me for those details. I stood there, my mind blank. I couldn’t for the life of me remember what my baby’s name was. This was my adorable new cherub that I was spending every waking hour caring for and I could not think of her name. I have never been so embarrassed! I tried to buy time mumbling platitudes about how lucky we were to have such great neighbours and what a lovely thought it was. Then crunch time came and I had to confess to her that I couldn’t remember my baby’s name. The dear old thing told me not to worry and just to let her know when I could remember. Who on earth can’t remember their own bundle of joy’s name? I felt like such a bad mother and stood there hating the fact that my brain cells had been hijacked by the placenta! 

As my elderly neighbour said goodbye and walked up our driveway, suddenly out of nowhere, my baby’s name came to me. I opened the front door and yelled at her triumphantly that I had remembered my baby’s name. Relief swept through me and I proceeded to fill her in on her details.

Thankfully years have passed and I haven’t forgotten her name again. In fact, I call it out a lot everyday (she might say too much!). I have also mastered the correct process for making cereal, so maybe those brain cells have finally regenerated!

What stories do you have about suffering from ‘placenta brain’ when you were pregnant?

 

 

(Photo courtesy of freedigitalphoto.net)