This weekend I am excited to be celebrating my second official Mother’s Day! This year will be extra special as I’m 21 weeks pregnant with my second bundle of joy, and perhaps thats the reason I’ve been alll nostalgic at how quickly the last two years have gone since my first baby (now toddler!) was born.
With that in mind, I figured it was a good time to sit down and write about my first pregnancy/birth story to remind us all just how special our Mum’s are. For my fellow Mama’s: I’m sure you’ll all giggle/wince in pain as I remind you all of your own stories! For those of you who haven’t experienced the ‘miracle’ of childbirth yourself: Don’t worry, mine’s a good story and there’s no mention of blood or guts or Vagina’s* I promise!
*That’s the only time I swear!
I remember when I first found out that I was pregnant with Violet. Trav and I had recently gotten married in Central Park in New York City. It was literally a dream come true! We then travelled to the Caribbean for the worlds best Honeymoon, and then ventured home via Miami and Dallas. We’d been gone for 4 weeks all up, and it was the most surreal, wonderful time in our lives. We were married! In NYC! We just got home from the Caribbean! It was a lot to absorb, and I felt sure that the deep depression that normally follows a great holiday (let alone a wedding!) was about to sink in.
Trav and I decided when we were on our honeymoon that we might be ready to start trying for kids. As much as I’d always wanted them, it’s such a huge decision and some moments I was convinced I was ready and then others I was like WHOA! I’m only 19! (Note: I wasn’t 19, I was 29 but I felt like I was 19….you know what I mean?!) So anyways, being in the Caribbean where there’s nothing to do but drink rum alllllll the days meant that we weren’t really thinking all that straight and logic went out the window.
Suffice to say, the day we got back to Australia I knew. I woke up super early the day after we’d flown home. I had this niggling feeling that I was pregnant, so I did a home test just to put my mind at ease. It was positive. I did another one because there’s no way you can try once on your honeymoon and fall pregnant. It was positive too. I felt numb. I remember walking out into the kitchen with the tests and showing Trav. His reaction was total shock. I remember that I had no idea what to say or feel…..and so we just kind of hugged awkwardly cos we assumed thats what people in this situation did. We were both SO tired and SO shocked! We then made an appointment to see the GP straight away because I was sure they’d need to do a proper blood test which would probably turn out to be negative.
The drive to the Doctor’s seemed to take ETERNITY. I remember I almost fainted when it was time to get out of the car. When we saw the Doctor she asked “So, why are you here today”. I said “I think I’m pregnant”. I expected her to say “OMG! You’re so young! What are you thinking?!” She didn’t. She asked if I’d done a test. I told her I had…twice. “Ok then great. Let’s start doing some referrals and I’ll give you some forms for blood tests and hospital admissions”. Just like that. We were pregnant.
The ‘Joys’ of Pregnancy
The next few months were crazy. I told my sister before I’d reached the 12 weeks mark because we were talking one day and I was convinced that she ‘knew’ (despite the fact that it was way too early and I wasn’t remotely showing or suffering any symptoms). She was excited! That made it feel so real. I wasn’t excited, more like terrified. I also thought everybody at work knew, and that all my friends knew….in fact it was all I thought about ALL THE TIME. Then the sickness came, and it was hard to hide. I remember one day a colleague was commenting on how strange my eating habits had become, and she said jokingly ‘You aren’t pregnant are you?’. I burst into tears….so that pretty much answered her question!
My pregnancy with Violet felt long and hard. I was throwing up most days, sometimes once, sometimes several times a day. I craved all kinds of stuff: potatoes, oranges, and for the first four weeks all I ate was kale (I have not touched the stuff since!). I got hot easily, and this always led to me being sick. One morning I was at a packed bus stop waiting for a peak hour bus to the city. It was hot, and there was nowhere for me to sit. Before I knew it, I was vomiting into a shopping bag in front of about 50 shocked onlookers. No one said a word, they all just stared in horror. I tied up my shopping bag and went straight home to cry and eat biscuits.
Other than the constant sickness, and the heartburn, and the leg cramps, I had a pretty normal pregnancy and was looking forward to meeting my baby for the first time. I wondered what it would look like, if it was a girl or a boy, and whether or not the birth would be as awful as everybody makes out. Trav and I decided pretty early on that we wanted to find out the sex, even though I was convinced I was having a boy! The day of our 20 week scan rolled around, and I remember being in the shower that morning and thinking ‘How exciting! I’m going to see my baby today!’. As I stood there, I had this massive wave of realisation: IT’S A GIRL. I don’t know where it came from, as I had always wanted a boy first and had my entire boy nursery theme pinned on Pinterest! I decided to ignore the premonition and off we went to the scan.
It’s a WHAT?!
Lo and behold, the premonition turned out to be correct. It was a girl! Trav was excited. The guy doing the ultrasound was excited. I was NOT EXCITED! We were then told we’d have to wait a while whilst they printed up the report. Trav and I went for a walk outside. I cried. Like, bawled my eyes out. I cried because I was having a girl, and then I cried for being so awful about wanting a boy instead. I WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE A BOY!!!!!
Later that day we went to IKEA to look at nursery furniture. I cried there too, as I looked at all the cute boy stuff that was supposed to be in my nursery. Yep. I was a pregnant hormonal mess and the only thing I thought I ‘knew’ about this baby turned out to be totally and utterly wrong!
Now before you all have a go at me for being ungrateful and anti-girl, I have to say that with a bit of hindsight the way that I behaved at that news was ridiculous and if someone else told me that story I’d be all judgemental too, but I promise you all that once that news eventually sank in I let go of my boy baby obsession and started focusing on all the excitement that a little girl would bring (pig-tails and ballet!) It was also a good lesson for this soon-to-be Mama that babies are not predictable, or something you can control and I quickly learnt to just roll with punches for the remainder of my pregnancy!
For the months leading up to my birth, I met regularly at my midwife clinic with a group of about 10 women who were all due to have babies in the same month. It was great and enjoyed talking to other first time Mum’s who were experiencing some of the same symptoms, emotions, fears and general craziness that I was. I remember the last few sessions I attended were getting smaller. Some of these girls had already had their babies! I was convinced that I’d be giving birth around 38 weeks. Once again, I was wrong.
39 weeks came and went….nothing. 40 weeks came and went….NOTHING! I figured this baby was just going to stay in my belly and we’d just continue living our lives. Eventually, the midwives starting talking about inducing me and this terrified me. I asked to wait as long as possible for this to happen so that I could hopefully kick things off naturally, and they agreed. During the next few days I did it all: Acupuncture, raspberry leaf tea, Clary sage oil (which smells like shit by the way) and eating copious amounts of pineapple. Well I’m pleased to say, that the day after I consumed an entire pineapple whilst perched on my fit-ball (nothing to do with fitness, it was just the only way I could sit comfortably) I woke up the next morning to the early signs of labour! It’d been 41 weeks and 3 days and the little pudding had decided she was ready!
It was still pretty early in the morning (about 4am from memory) and I woke up feeling weird. I’d had Braxton Hicks before though, so I decided I’d go get into the bath to try to make myself more comfortable. Trav got up and was getting ready for work, and when he came to say goodbye to him I gently suggested maybe he should just stay home today. Within a couple of hours, it was pretty clear that today was the day!
Things are a bit of a blur from here on in, but I remember calling the mid-wife, and then my Mum and Sister turned up for moral support. Things seemed to progress pretty quickly and before I knew it, we were headed to the hospital. I was kneeling on the back seat of my new car, thinking Christ I hope I don’t ruin the leather seats! I also remember glancing out the window when we were stopped in traffic, amused at what at the people in the cars next to us must be thinking.
By the time we got to the hospital, it was ON! I remember it feeling like an outer body experience, walking into the foyer in my Peter Alexander cupcake nightie and thongs (a ridiculous vision in itself), looking at all the families holding balloons and flowers, all who seemed to recoil in horror (or worse: amusement!) at my appearance. We hadn’t even made it to the reception desk to ‘check in’ before I had a huge contraction and I had to hold on to a hand rail along the wall and try not to have my baby on the linoleum. Trav later told me how horrified he was to look over at me in this position and how embarrassing it was. I can honestly say that at the time, I wouldn’t have cared one bit! If only he knew what was coming!
We’d arrived at the hospital around lunchtime, and by the time I walked into the examination room to check how dilated I was, the midwife on duty took one glance in my direction and said “Oh, she’s in labour! – take her straight to the labour suite!”. This was a little surprising to me, as I’d understood labour could take days….but hey, it’d been 41 weeks I was good to go!
I remember the labour being fast, and thinking that it wasn’t as painful as I thought it’d be…but it was so difficult!!! More than once I thought that perhaps she just wasn’t coming out, but then all of a sudden she was being held up for me to see! I was so relieved that she as here! I remember thinking she was red (overcooked) and HUGE (9lb 8oz) and the most beautiful potato-like creature I’d ever seen!
I remember the midwife putting her on my chest, and me thinking, I guess I should probably cry now? I think perhaps I managed a few tears but the whole thing was so surreal: I had a baby. I was a Mama! They asked us what her name was and we proudly told them that it was ‘Violet Mae’. A beautiful name for our beautiful blonde bombshell of a girl. They told me to try breastfeeding her. ‘Ok!’ I said, whilst I secretly thought how the hell do I do that? Turns out I didn’t have to know, cos that teeny tiny (gigantic) baby just went for it by herself! She’s good like that.
I remember feeling happy that everything had gone how I’d hoped. I managed the whole birth without any drugs or intervention and I felt pretty good actually! I felt proud to be a woman and marvelled at how clever we are. We’re freakin amazing! Then they told me that actually I’d had a third degree tear and that I’d need surgery right way. Farrrrrrrrk! Still, even with that fun curve ball, I still remember the whole thing rather fondly and once again felt grateful that for me it was overall a positive experience.
After surgery, I remember waiting in recovery for the all-clear when Trav came in with our big chunky baby. That’s when it all hit me! I’d only known that baby for a matter of hours, yet I’d missed her terribly while she was away from me! It made me so happy to see Trav as well. He was a Daddy now! He’d taken care of her whilst I was in surgery and that just made my heart so full. He’d already bonded with her and was pointing things out to me, like her long fingers or her mop of blonde hair. The two of them were already buddies and it was the most beautiful thing to see.
Shortly after, they transferred me to my hospital bed where I was to stay for the next few days while I recuperated. My sister was standing at the end of the bed holding Violet while the nurses were fussing over me and getting me sorted. I looked up at the two of them and at that moment Violet turned her big potato head and looked right at me! It was the freakiest thing ever and both my sister and I were like Did that just happen? I didn’t think newborns had head control! (To be fair, she was practically a toddler when she was born so I guess that explains it)
The next few days, nights and weeks all seemed to fly by/drag on and to be honest the after-birth hormones are worse than the pregnancy ones! I remember watching Despicable Me and crying through the whole movie despite it being a very funny children’s cartoon. I remember being tired and wondering if I’d ever sleep again. I remember worrying about every mark, rash, spot, or any other change in Violet’s appearance. I remember my milk coming in and thinking it was WAY worse than labour! I remember sitting up at 2am thinking how beautiful and amazing my daughter was. I remember sitting up at 4am thinking I was going to die if I didn’t get more sleep. The whole newborn experience is magical and horrendous all at the same time, and whilst it feels like eternity whilst you’re in it, two years later I look back and think it was all over too fast!
You’re Pregnant. Again!
It’s crazy to reflect and recall all these details and know that we’re about to do it all over again with our second baby due in September (eek!). Maybe I’m crazy for wanting doing it all again but I also can’t remember what life was like before I was a Mama! It’s a hard, dirty, emotional and often thankless job, but its also the most rewarding wonderful gift and I feel privileged to be a member of such a super cool club!