Category: pregnancy

Our IVF story: Part 5 – Pregnant or not pregnant?

June 2017 (2 years and 11 months after beginning our attempts at trying to conceive)

Waiting after our first round of IVF to find out if I was pregnant or not was pretty tough! I had basically coped by talking myself out of any possibility of it working that time. I tried to be philosophical about it all. I figured that if it had failed, then it wasn’t meant to be. I wanted my eventual baby to be strong and healthy and if it wasn’t going to be viable, then I would have to be OK with it. I still had more chances before my odds of success decreased significantly.

I had a blood test lined up for 12 days past my IVF transfer. THE blood test. The one that would tell me if I was expecting or if I would be trying again. Oh, the pressure!

In the meantime I had to insert progesterone (guess where) twice a day. It was gross and a bit annoying, but nowhere near as bad as having to inject myself.

Mr Unprepared had been really supportive while we waited. If I worried about anything, he would read about it first and then tell me only the reliable information. It made me feel so much calmer not having to sort through the noise of the internet.

Only thing was, he was getting impatient. He kept reading about all these women who took home pregnancy tests really early and got positives. He never pressured me, but I could feel that he was really really hoping I’d try to be one of those women (he’s not always known for his patience). Thing is, I had trained myself for at least the last two years to never take a pregnancy test. Just wait for my period. Because taking a test was stressful and heartbreaking and never positive. I knew that what would be, would be. Whether or not I knew a few days in advance wouldn’t change anything. If I was pregnant, I would find out eventually haha.

I had started spotting a bit. That usually happened in the days leading up to my period. I tried to brace myself for a disappointing outcome. So what if all the things on the internet said that spotting was more common in women who have had IVF and that implantation bleeding can be a thing. SO WHAT. I had done this so many times before. I was not prepared to break my own heart at home with a pee stick. Let the nurses and doctors do that with their blood test!

We made it as far as 10 days past my IVF transfer. Two days before my scheduled blood test. It was a Saturday morning of the June long weekend. I was getting myself all knotted up worrying about my period arriving and ruining everything. I was so tired of my life revolving around my period and I was nervous that a movie date with my friend in a couple of days would be a bust. I was sick of having to cancel plans (my periods were ridiculously heavy). I was sick of the unknown. I was sick of the unpredictable. I wanted to know if I was pregnant or not so I could get on with my life.

I had it in my head that it was far too early to test, but Mr Unprepared (buoyed by the resounding idiocy of the internet haha) was in disagreement. He had seen my frustration and finally he had his chance to quietly suggest I take a test. He must have been so relieved when I said I would. He wasn’t the only person dying of suspense.

He left the bedroom to tend to the Little Mister – getting him breakfast and such. I took that chance to head to the toilet with an old test I’d had in the bathroom drawer for about a year (I couldn’t believe it wasn’t out of date yet). I followed the instructions and I stood in the toilet (not in the bowl just in that tiny room haha) and waited. I knew from that fateful positive test with the Little Mister 6 years prior that if it was going to be a great result, it wouldn’t take long for the second line to show.

I wasn’t too optimistic. I figured that I might get a super faint line that you had to squint at to see. That this test might tell me nothing. But I was so sick of not knowing, I was willing to take a chance.

Soon a faint second line showed up. I sighed and thought – yep. It’s super faint. I don’t know about this.

I kept staring. The three minutes wasn’t up.

The line progressively got stronger and stronger before my disbelieving eyes. My brain really wasn’t catching up, to be honest.

 

Soon the line was only a millionth of a shade lighter than the control line.

I stood there in shock. I was willing this strange new information to go into my brain. I kept saying to myself (not out loud), YOU ARE PREGNANT. I’M PREGNANT. HOLY SHIT. I’M PREGNANT. NO FOR REAL. I’M PREGNANT. AFTER ALL THIS TIME I AM PREGNANT. LISTEN TO ME, YOU DUMBO, YOU’RE PREGNANT.

Finally it registered. I started crying. 3 years worth of tears. Oh gosh I’m tearing up writing this.

Mr Unprepared eventually managed to extricate himself from the Little Mister’s breakfast demands and came to check on me. He saw me crying and he went straight into comfort and sympathy mode. He hugged me tight and kept saying, “I’m sorry. It’s going to be alright. It’s going to be OK. I’m sorry.”

I stopped him and said, “You haven’t even looked at the test…”

“It’s negative, I know. I’m sorry.”

“I SAID YOU HAVEN’T EVEN LOOKED AT IT.”

He looked at me like I’d lost my mind, took it from me and saw the two lines.

I was hugged ferociously again and I could hear him laugh-crying in shock. He didn’t have to say it. I could hear it in his tone.

You. Bloody. Beauty. We did it (well so did a lot of other amazing people who helped us but you know what I mean).

We might have experienced our miracle. Finally.

I was over the moon. We were over the moon.

I went on that movie date with my friend and gosh it was tough not telling her. I was so happy not just that I was pregnant but that I wasn’t getting my period – I’m not kidding. You don’t even know. My shark weeks had been ROUGH.

Two days later, I had a phone call after my blood test.

“Congratulations! You’re pregnant and your hormone levels look great.”

Oh, my heart. Of course I had an inkling already, but hearing it from somebody else was amazing. This was finally real.

I’m calling for a revolution: ASSUME THAT NOBODY IS PREGNANT UNLESS THEY TELL YOU OTHERWISE.

I’ve realised that there are so many things that I censor/defend myself about in my daily life, in case someone incorrectly thinks that I am knocked up. I am so good at it now that I hardly notice I’m doing it anymore. Because on those rare occasions I let my guard down, the questions start.

ARE YOU PREGNANT?

Actually, you could say just about anything to someone who really really really wants you to be pregnant (bless ’em) and all they’ll hear is “I’M PREGNANT!”

So I am standing up today and saying – NO MORE. From here on out, I will say whatever I want, whatever I’m feeling, without worrying about what people think. I have been through enough to know that even the opposite of pregnancy (i.e. that bloody hell that occurs each month or so) can produce symptoms similar to pregnancy symptoms – isn’t that evidence enough that we just do not know jack about someone else’s fertility status, based on a few reportings of out of context symptoms??

So where was I…from now on, I will let myself be bloated without trying to hide it (it’s real life y’all – I eat and I get PMS – what can ya do). I will laugh about the lengths I will go to in order to satisfy an obscure food craving because that’s who I am. A ridiculous lover of food. I will turn down that glass of wine because sometimes (haha probably rarely but still…) I really don’t feel like it and I’m sick of drinking just to avoid questions (I think my liver and overall health will thank me for it). I will go into a shop and buy gorgeous little baby clothes without looking over my shoulder for people who know me and might get the wrong idea – THEY’RE FOR MY RELATIVES’ OR FRIENDS’ KIDS FFS. I will nest because it brings me comfort when the whole secondary infertility thing is getting me down. AND I WILL TALK ABOUT IT IF I WANT TO. I will reminisce on my first pregnancy (in real life or on my blog) all I like, because it brings me comfort and life changing memories and has no bearing on my current situation.

If some pharmacy/supermarket check out operator I’ve never met before comments out loud on my purchase of ovulation tests (or other such items), I will not politely answer them like I always do (seriously – my lady balls shrink up and fail me every time). I will give the coldest look I can muster and I will say, “That. Is none of your business.”

I will then complain to management. And probably shop online – BUT I shouldn’t have to. Which is my point.

I will stop using disclaimers constantly of the “before you get excited, I am NOT pregnant…” variety on my blog. I shouldn’t have to explain myself. Just take my writing for what it is.

Because the thing is, if I was lucky enough to be pregnant I would not be revealing it just because someone is the first nosy person to ask. I would reveal it to my husband, my doctor, my beautiful firstborn son (but not until I knew the pregnancy was pretty safe), the grandparents, the great grandparents, the people in my extended family, my closest friends, the rest of the damn world, in that order! Nobody else gets to decide they’re above the order of things!

There are several compelling reasons not to ask someone if they’re pregnant:

  • They may have just experienced a loss, which they’re not ready to share with anyone. It can be hard for people to talk about.
  • It may not be the time or place and it isn’t up to you to decide if it is.
  • They may be feeling self conscious about their weight and you’ve just basically told them you’ve noticed they’re ‘fat’ (even if that’s not why you asked).
  • They may be dealing with infertility and congrats – you’ve just reminded them of the one thing they’d love the most but can’t have for now.
  • Don’t you think that if they wanted you to know, they would have told you already? See above for the ‘order of things’ – everyone has their own way they want it to go down.
  • A lot of people do not like to reveal they’re pregnant until they’re in the ‘safer’ zone of the second trimester. It would be really unfair to disrespect their wishes.
  • Some people choose to be child free and are sick of being made to feel like they are somehow lesser people because they don’t want to be pregnant or have children.
  • Other people might have decided that they’ve had enough children (yes sometimes ‘just the one’) and are sick of people implying that it’s not ‘normal’ of them to not want another, or assuming that every person wants more than one (or however many they have at that point). Or that everyone can even in fact have more than one.
  • They may not have even discussed the idea of children (or how many) with their partner yet (or may be dealing with some issues in their relationship which prevent them from trying), so why would they want to discuss it with a tipsy person at some dude’s birthday party (because those are the kinds of places that people tend to ask – are they not)?
  • Someone might be struggling with some other difficult, personal,  physical condition, completely unrelated to fertility.

I know this ‘asking everyone if they’re pregnant’ thing has been around since forever, and despite all the funny Facebook memes and blog rants, no-one seems to pay attention, BUT…

I urge you to consider these two things moving forward – the part where I call on you to help me with this revolutionary new way of thinking/behaving:

  1. Let’s not ask anyone if they’re pregnant (or speculate about them out loud behind their backs so it gets back to them). Let’s wait for them to tell us (or not tell us because we could be SO wrong and they might not even be pregnant or want to get pregnant). Repeat after me: It’s none of my business until they make it my business.
  2. Let’s talk about our NON pregnancy ‘symptoms’ openly (if we want to) and stop censoring ourselves or adding disclaimers. It’s someone else’s problem if they assume we’re pregnant. Let’s be rebels and let people make their assumptions (if they’re silly enough to). We know the truth and we’re allowed to share our truth. It shouldn’t be our problem if people are insensitive. We can call them on it, by saying simply “I am not pregnant.” and let them feel uncomfortable – not us. Repeat after me: It’s none of their business unless I want to make it their business.

I hope that by doing these two things, we can let women just get on with living their lives without being scrutinised. Non pregnant women should have nothing to feel embarrassed about and pregnant women who haven’t told you yet – that’s their choice. Respect it! Also, let’s not steal anyone’s thunder! It’s not our moment to take.

Are you in?!!

We all have moments where we suspect someone might be ‘with child’, but it’s how we deal with that curiosity (and excitement) that matters. I personally like to keep it inside my head, put it aside and wait. I’ve been wrong before and have never been more relieved that I did the right thing and kept it to myself!! I’d love if more people could do the same.

This post hasn’t been designed to shame anyone and I am certainly not passive-aggressively singling anyone out (so you can breathe out now haha). This is just something I know is an issue, not just for me but a lot of women deemed to be in their child bearing years. I just hope it inspires us to all move forward, looking out for one another 🙂

Have you ever been wrongly accused? Pressured like crazy to start/grow a family by well meaning people? Outed before you were ready to make an announcement? Have you ever accidentally accused someone and it was super awkward? I’d love to hear your stories – comment below or share this post! x

C-Section? God damn right you gave birth.

Brace yourselves. I have my ranty pants on. I try to keep this a place where I do not share bad things (I’m not into hate reading or outrage mongering), but as I’ll explain…there’s a reason I’ve made an exception for this one. Oh, and excuse my french. Oops.

Sadly, you might have seen this fucking bullshit on Facebook. It’s doing the rounds (originally shared by some whack job “church”). Honestly, I don’t think it deserves air time. When I first saw it, despite having had a C-section, despite this garbage going against everything I believe, I just rolled my eyes at these pathetic people (who I will not link to because that’s what they’d want) and moved on. There will always be people online who are looking for your outrage. Who will feed off the hate and the anger and the hurt of others.

But then, I thought about it. While I have had over 3 years to accept the feelings and thoughts and doubts that come along with having a C-section, I think back to a vulnerable time as a new mother. The second guessing. The processing of a birth that didn’t really go the way you thought or hoped it might. No matter how open minded you thought you were going into the process.

You believe things that you see in your newsfeed while you’re feeding your baby in the oddest hours. When you’re tired, you’re overwhelmed, you’re confused – how can you love another being THIS much but find it THIS challenging at the same time? WHAT IF I FUCK IT UP? All the so called experts up in your grille. The unsolicited advice from every human ever. All the self inflicted comparisons between yourself and all the other new mothers who for some reason always seem to have their shit together (hot tip: they probably don’t any more than you do) when you feel like you’re barely getting the hang of it.

I have some words to counter the utter crap spewed by this so called church below…
10994043_616614885106547_6005691653536519949_n

OK. So are you in disbelief too? Speechless that people like this exist? Mad? Insulted? Got a bad taste left in your mouth? Well, firstly, you’re my kind of people and I love you for it.

Secondly, here’s my message to all new mothers who have had C-sections…

You are brave. You are a warrior. YOU GOT CUT IN HALF, YOUR INSIDES EVERYWHERE, AND YOU’RE STILL HERE LOOKING AFTER YOUR BEAUTIFUL BABY. Damn straight you gave birth. You delivered (with a little life saving help) a VERY special gift to this world. YOU ARE HERE TO MOTHER IT. YOU are a gift to this world. To this child. If you had your life and the life of your baby spared with the miracle of modern medicine, then you DID catch a lucky break. And there is NO SHAME in that. NONE. EVERY mother who gets through childbirth with their child alive has had a lucky break. There is NO SHAME IN HOW ANYBODY BROUGHT THEIR BABY INTO THIS WORLD. INTO THEIR LIVES. Hell, I’m adopted for pete’s sake!!

Chances are, you even had to go through labour AND surgery! How bad-ass is that?!

So tell people your truth with your head held high, “Hi – my name is *insert your name here*. My beautiful baby’s name is *insert their name here*. I GAVE BIRTH via a C-section. We are happy and we are here. The end.”

Here’s another truth: No woman is more superior than another for how she became a mother. All mothers are doing the most amazing, life changing job in the world. We are shaping the future and we are raising the world’s citizens. Whether you gave birth a certain way (or didn’t in the case of adoption), whether you fed your child a certain way or not, whether you work outside the home or not, does not matter. You brought life into this world. YOU DID GOOD. YOU ARE AMAZING.

And trust me. NO-ONE knows what the fuck they are doing (even if it seems like they do from the outside or from a bunch of social media pictures). I can tell you that much. But we do our best. We learn on the job. We are brave and we are committed. No matter what else happens, that baby has us. Because society believes we are valuable enough for them to intervene and keep us safe during childbirth. WE COUNT.

Your experience was just as real and valid as anyone else’s. It totally happened and it totally changed your life. FACT.

We are here so we can teach our children to be accepting, beautiful, inclusive human beings who believe in spreading love rather than hate.

I think that’s what’s really important here, don’t you?

5c802059dea17d2c8a3c84aa2440451f

image

January 2012: Post pregnancy hair fall.

I wrote this in January 2012 (yes…2 whole years ago). I promptly forgot to publish it. Was probably the baby brain. Enjoy…

81cc18b5d6dd013a4f546b34bd9623f0

pic

It’s started. I heard this could happen, but I tried not to think about it. I just swished my beautiful voluminous, swishy hair over my shoulder and said to myself, “Pfft. As if! Not me!”

What am I talking about? I’m talking about the fact that while my Little Mister’s hair seems to be growing longer and thicker (and higher) every day, my own hair is falling out in handfuls. And that doesn’t count the hair that literally falls out of my head in baby handfuls (apparently my hair is a wonderful rope for babies to hold onto). Look, I’ll admit it. In the past (BC: Before Child) I was known to occasionally block a shower drain with my moulting tresses. Just ask my husband. However, now I am losing my precious strands all day every day! I don’t think I would ordinarily notice so much, but when you have a baby within a couple of inches from your face all the time, it’s pretty obvious. I find myself picking my hairs off his nappies, out of his tiny hands (oh and for those who don’t know, trivial fact – babies get hand lint like bellybutton lint but in their hands), off his face and any clothing or wraps I use for him.

I am afraid that one day I will lose him and won’t think to check the pile of hair in his cot. That will be the scariest day of my life.

This hair loss has something to do with pregnancy hormones leaving my body. Or something. Either way, it’s hormonal. But only I’m allowed to blame anything on hormones. Men should never blame things on a woman’s hormones, just a heads up. It won’t end well.

Today at my New Parents Group (A PC way of saying Mothers Group), we were given a big double sided sheet of “pleasurable” activities we should partake in so that we get in some of that precious “me time” everyone keeps talking about. I haven’t read it properly, but besides reading erotica or playing golf (no joke) I am sure it says something about getting a hair cut/style done. I don’t think I’ll have any hair left to work with so perhaps I should buy me some Mills and Boon while having a putt. We’re supposed to complete something on that list before next week’s Mothers Group as homework (although no-one’s going to check – let’s be honest). I think I’ll just stare at a blank wall and see what fatigue induced hallucinations I can conjure up. Surely, staring at a blank wall is on the list.

C-what now?

579d6c19075f527cfe45fbf755735b5a

pic

I was inspired to write this post because lately I’ve had a few friends facing the idea of a first time C-section delivery of their bubs. I remember what it felt like having all these questions and concerns beforehand and I have decided to share what my experience was like. I hope that you find it interesting, positive or even helpful x

I think I always had the weirdest gut feeling (haha funny no pun intended) that I would end up having a Caesarean Section with the Little Mister. While I was pregnant, I constantly tried to psych myself up for the fact that I might end up with an emergency one. I just felt it in my bones. Maybe it was ‘pessimism’ (I’d not had the smoothest of pregnancies), but maybe it was just mother’s instinct. Either way, it felt daunting and way out of my comfort zone. Before my C-section, I had never even been in hospital, unless I was visiting someone or had a routine appointment (which only happened for the first time when I was pregnant).

I was all like, “WHAT? They might have to cut me? In my belly? And PULL out a baby?! A whole entire baby?!”

I wasn’t a stickler for a birth plan (thankfully), but I did have a few concerns about a C-section birth!

Would the anticipation of surgery freak me out? 

A part of me suspected that if I needed an emergency C-section, I wouldn’t have time – or the presence of mind – to worry (I was right), but I still worried that if I was told to have a scheduled C-section that I would psych myself out so badly that I would be a terrible bundle of nerves (and perhaps not a great patient)! I mean, the idea of being awake during a serious (and life changing) surgery just weirded me the eff out.

Also, I’d been watching that One Born Every Minute series and they’d shown a C-section taking place. I saw the way that baby just schlooped out of the mother’s surgical wound – pulled out almost violently – and I found it quite confronting!!! Not gonna lie! I was glad to see the real deal (I’m a ‘knowledge is power’ kind of person) on TV, but having that happen to me? WHOA.

I can’t speak for those who have had scheduled C-sections, but I have heard that the experience can be incredibly (and surprisingly) amazing. You can plan it all out, you have time to try to wrap your head around it, it happens before you’ve just suffered through hours and hours of attempting a natural labour, and I’ve even heard women talk about how they could do their hair and make up and have nice photos of their first cuddles!! 😮

What I do know from experience is emergency surgery and I honestly was in no position to freak out. For one, I had gone a little loopy on gas (turns out I’m very responsive to it) and in anticipation of possible surgery, I’d had an epidural administered (something else I am quite responsive to it turns out). I was quite out of it! But seriously, it was all about getting the Little Mister out healthy and well. I had never done this whole baby creating/birthing thing before and I just trusted the incredibly capable staff around me.

I was wheeled away to theatre and while I do remember being a tiny bit apprehensive (sh*t starts to feel real in there – I won’t lie), I had Mr Unprepared holding my hand and somehow an inner grit just kind of shone through. I just had to do what I had to do. There was no fighting it. Besides, I couldn’t run away – I had no feeling in my lower body haha.

The anaesthetist was very comforting too. He talked me through it a little (even made some great tension breaking jokes) and did all the tests to make sure I really couldn’t feel anything. That was comforting. They don’t just start cutting – they do have to check some things with you first. A relief, really haha.

Would I feel it? Because I so don’t wanna! 

I was told that some women will feel a pulling sensation while having a C-section. This made me squirm. Not so much in fear of pain, but it just sounded kind of “urgh” (I don’t have a better word for it). I was lucky. I felt sweet eff all. Those who have told me they felt the pulling, have never told me that it scarred them for life or that the pain was unbearable. That’s kind of comforting, right? Can’t be as bad as pushing a watermelon out of your hoo-ha all by yourself, right?

What if I could see it happen? Holy sh*t that would just horrify me! 

As I lay there with the curtain divider thingy up, I suddenly noticed that if I wanted to, I would see my reflection in the big metal apparatus (was it a light or something? I don’t honestly remember). This worried me a bit and I tried really hard to keep my eyes away. Just when I thought I had managed to do this (and was cool with it), someone angled it away deliberately. How thoughtful of them – yay. I know some people would rather see it happen but I was not one of them! Again, I didn’t want to scare myself seeing the surgery play out. I had never had surgery for ANYTHING in my life. No broken bones. Not even any stitches!

Would my wound be itchy? Because damn, I’d had enough of being itchy and the thought of being itchy again seemed unbearable!

I’ll admit it. As my due date became closer and closer, I started to become more worried about having an itchy wound than I was about the actual possibility of surgery! I had been so ridden with itchy conditions (PUPPP rash and the infection that eventually brought on my labour), that the thought of having my Little Mister out of my belly and still suffering the torture of itchiness seemed unbearable. I know I’m a wuss, but for me I think being itchy is the worst physical torture I’ve ever experienced! I’m the first to put my hand up – I can’t leave an itch alone. But a C-section scar? I’d be forced to leave it alone and the idea drove me nuts!

Right after surgery I was on pethidine (painkiller) and it thankfully did not seem to cause itchiness as a side effect. I had a big pad over the wound (can’t remember if I had a proper dressing first up or not) and I was on bed-rest of sorts for 48 hours (although it is normally 24 for those who have a routine kind of C-section). I was so relieved to not be pregnant anymore that I think the stress levels decreasing did help me to not focus on the wound.

I spent a lot of time gingerly shuffling around in the first few days at hospital. I probably could have been a little less shuffly, but I was nervous about the wound as I had never had surgery before. When I got home from hospital I remained very cautious. It did really help that Mr Unprepared was home on leave from work for a few weeks. He was able to do the things I couldn’t (they advise that you don’t lift anything heavier than your baby for a few weeks), and while this was frustrating for me at times (I wanted to be the on-top-of-it new mummy who knew how to do everything but I couldn’t – my husband even learnt several baby related tasks before I did), it was also quite nice to know my biggest job was just to recover and to cuddle and feed my baby. Good bonding right there 🙂

I started to feel quite good within a couple of weeks, which really surprised me. It was so nice to move again without feeling a bit sore or shuffly. Getting in and out of bed to pick up the Little Mister for a feed became much easier (at times Mr Unprepared had to get up for me and pass him over in the middle of the night) and I started to enjoy being physically free (well compared to just after surgery haha).

By three weeks, I was ready to take my first solo outing with the Little Mister – a very big deal for a new parent. I was able to lift my stroller out of the car and get the Little Mister in and out of his seat. I was probably twisting and lifting a little too much but the fact that I felt mentally ready really was a great milestone.

In the present day, my scar is quite visible and dark in colour (I always scar prominently and dark), but I don’t care too much. I’m not bikini ready and even then, the scar sits quite low so I’m cool with that. I probably could make more of an effort with bio oil etc to help it fade but it is honestly not of much concern to me. Sometimes it will get itchy (if my skin is a little dry or my underwear rubs on it a tad uncomfortably), but it’s not horrible. It’s just a little uncomfortable occasionally. 99% of the time it’s completely forgotten. I don’t feel less attractive because it’s there. In a weird way I’m proud of my battle scar. It’s evidence that I lived through something life changing (and ultimately positive)!

Two years later on reflection, I don’t regret that the Little Mister had to be delivered via C-section. In fact, to be honest, it’s all I’ve known and I’m cool with that. I don’t think I ever felt all cut up about how he was delivered (eek – excuse the terrible choice of words). You have to do what you have to do and I think I was quite the little trooper 😉

In fact, there are advantages to a C-section. I was able to avoid doing any damage to my lady bits! While this can still happen if you have a long labour before you head to surgery, I was lucky. There’s an upside to everything, right? I was also lucky that it all happened so fast. While the reasons for this were a bit scary, I did feel glad that I hadn’t suffered for an eternity beforehand. I still call it ‘giving birth’ and I don’t think I’m any lesser than someone who was able to deliver naturally (good for you if you have – what a champ!)! Each new mother goes through some kind of adversity or pain delivering their baby – however your baby comes into the world isn’t what’s important – it’s their health and the fact that they’re alive and well that matters. It’s the fact that you have your beautiful baby that you’ve dreamed of that matters.

Do you have any questions? Or advice for those facing a possible first time C-section?

Don’t bother having a birth ‘plan’.

03503a7d6b95f7e09aaa01d6462f99fc

I honestly don’t know why they call them that. The fact is, you can’t PLAN your birth process. Even if you have a wonderful labour, you didn’t plan it. It was just a wonderful surprise to know that you were able to have a relatively good experience! To suggest that we can plan childbirth just seems like bollocks to me. Big sweaty ones. It says we’re in control of the process. I’m sorry, but while that thought is nice and sometimes keeps us sane, it just isn’t true.

My advice to first time pregnant mums is to throw out any notion that you are in charge and that everything will happen the way you want it to, because you’ve thought positively, avoided all negative horror stories and you’ve got a birth plan. Hasn’t anyone heard?? You have a birth plan! You did research! People who do research are better at this, right? Everything’s going to go just as you want it to! The truth is, positive thinking and making smart choices are never a bad thing – in fact, I recommend them. However, they don’t make a ‘good’ labour (ie the one you hope for) a sure thing. I feel like society keeps telling us we’re in control of everything. It feels like a comforting thought, but when despite all of your best efforts, something goes wrong…you feel like a failure. You’ve been fooled and pressured into thinking that you’re in charge of such a crazy biological process.

It’s actually liberating to realise you can’t be in charge of all of it. When my pregnancy started to get a little bit nuts, I blamed myself. I was ashamed that all these weird things were happening to me. I thought that those around me (the lucky ducks who have pregnancies that make them feel great) would think that I must be doing something wrong. That I must be thinking negatively, making some erroneous choice with my lifestyle or my diet etc. I knew it wasn’t my fault on an intellectual level (and was told so by more than one doctor/medical professional), but the fear of judgement was probably my biggest mistake of all! It’s just that we have all been brainwashed. It’s misguidedly comforting to tell ourselves that the other person over there with the pregnancy problems or the terrible labour must have done something wrong, because then we can just do it all ‘right’ and we’ll be fine. In a sick way, it reassures us.

In some ways, my crazy pregnancy was the greatest gift. It taught me that I’m not the one driving this bus (at times I looked like one haha). That you can do all of the ‘right’ things, think all of the most positive thoughts, and nature will still take its course. By the time I got closer to my due date, I threw all ideas of a birth ‘plan’ out of the window.

I had birth ‘preferences’. Birth ‘hopes’. Birth ‘wishes’.

I wrote a list of what I hoped for. I wrote a list of things I was willing to do to save myself or the baby (I kind of knew it wouldn’t be straight forward – intuition perhaps). I wrote a list of guidelines for my husband and my family – who I wanted there and when. It wasn’t fancy. It was pen scrawled all over an A4 piece of scrap paper, written off the top of my head. Maybe a list of only about 15 items. Some being very significant, like what I hoped would happen if something should happen to me (incapacitating me in some way), to the not so earth shattering, “Here’s my iPod, if my labour gets long just play it on shuffle – the songs on it keep me calm and inspire me.”

I was obviously hoping for a natural, vaginal birth, but I knew that drugs might help (I was quite unashamedly open to the idea) and that a C-section might be an emergency necessity. I knew from the start of the whole process that I would just be happy to have a healthy baby. I would not spend time mourning the death of a ‘plan’. I had already mourned the smooth, normal pregnancy I hoped I would have. I wasn’t going to do that to myself again.

My new attitude paid off. Because, as you may know, sh*t got crazy. I was in hospital for a mere 3 hours before I was in surgery. I only knew I was in labour about 2 hours before that. My labour was brought on by an infection. I got to 9cm dilated before they had to get me in for an emergency C-section. The epidural was administered in full dosage ahead of time (which made it a bit weird when I tried to push in a last ditch effort – can’t feel ANYTHING down there). I had no choice. I was then tethered (by catheter) to my hospital bed for two days (rather than the customary one day), while my firstborn spent the first 3 days of his life in another hospital without me because he was sick too.

If I had been all about a ‘plan’, I would have been exponentially more devastated and traumatised. Instead I was just shocked and dazed (perhaps it was the pethidine too) and later realised the enormity of what had happened to my baby and I. It took weeks to come to terms with what had happened. It was the biggest thing that had ever happened to me, my baby, or my body and of course it was going to take some getting used to! I am just glad that I didn’t also have the added sadness about things not going to ‘plan’ during the birth. I’d made my wishes known and they’d been respected, but I hadn’t outlined my preferred labour process without having an open mind. I knew anything could happen.

The important things happened. My parents were there to share in the experience (they stayed at the ‘right’ end of me haha) for the first time (I am adopted so it was hugely meaningful for the three of us as my mum has never experienced a pregnancy and I wanted to share this with her – I was so moved by my parents’ gratitude at being invited into such a special and private ‘event’). My husband got to the hospital quickly and was there for just about the whole time – by my side, encouraging me and saying all the right things (seriously!). I was kept safe, as was the Little Mister. No-one tweeted or Facebooked my labour process to the world in real time. I was given gas right when I needed it, surgery before things got horrible, and my baby was alive and likely to stay that way.

What didn’t I expect? What didn’t go to plan?

By complete chance, a top obstetrician just happened to be present when I came into the hospital. He was amazing and kept everyone calm in a tricky situation. Including me. I got optimum attention and care because while the time of my labour was unexpected (I was due to be induced almost a week later), I was the only person giving birth in the ward that night. The ONLY one! If I had been induced when I was expecting to be, the ward would have been FLOODED with people hoping to have their babies on the 11/11/2011 (as I found out later that week after a 6 day stay in the ward). Resources and manpower would have been stretched. The paediatrician who was present was also very good at her job (and to my mum’s delight – the wife of her favourite former professional AFL footballer)!

While not much went remotely as predicted, a lot of things went really right. I am so grateful. I am so glad I can see those blessings. Blessings I could never have planned for.

I’m calling on everyone to stop telling each other that we can plan our destinies. We can’t. We can’t be in control of everything. We can put our ducks in a row. We can be educated. We can make the best choices possible to encourage a great outcome. We can be positive and keep a great mindset. We can work hard. All of this might put us in the right places at the right times, but ultimately not all of it will always work out how we expected. Childbirth is no exception.

I love the way Mia Freedman of Mamamia puts it in her article about “Birthzillas”:

For many, it’s about control. One of the most confronting things about pregnancy and birth is the unpredictability of it and women often believe they can regain control by planning. Babies, however, like to raise their middle finger at your plans. They come early, they come late, they get stuck, they get suddenly distressed or tired or tangled…

After my personal experience, all I think we should care about is what’s best for the baby in that moment. I’m not going to compromise my child’s safety, by refusing treatment (or at least prolonging the inevitable) because I want to stick to a plan. Birth plans? Total first world problem/privilege. I’m sorry to put it so bluntly. My baby was in real trouble (as was I) if I did not have the first class care that I received. Who cares what that care involved as long as everything turned out for the best? A child who was/is alive (even if he didn’t breathe for four agonising minutes). Healthy after a little special attention.

Childbirth might not feel like the magical miracle everyone dreams of (at least it isn’t for everyone), but the result is what matters. It’s really important to go in knowing what is the most important.

If you got out of it healthy (if not worn out and needing some stitches somewhere) and you got to hold your healthy baby, take him/her back to your hospital room for cuddles and bonding for the first few days of his/her life… YOU ARE LUCKY. Your birth went well.

The birth of the Little Mister was shocking, surprising, a blur and hard to wrap my head around later, but I do not regret it at all. It went the way it needed to go. I wouldn’t and couldn’t change it. It brought me the most amazing gift and we all survived! I feel like a much stronger, more resilient person for it. I am proud of the fact that I was able to accept what happened (it took some time but had more to do with the trauma of being separated from my baby – as an adoptee since birth this was difficult to accept – my little man had to experience an immediate separation from me – something I’d dreamed he’d be spared of ever experiencing) and I feel like anything that brings you your gorgeous baby alive and well (even days later) is a success. I refuse to think of it as anything else.

P1040397

My advice to mums to be is to accept that life brings no guarantees. Know stuff. Do the stuff you can do. Then let the universe (and your beautiful baby you are so excited to meet) take its course. Some things are just bigger than us. Our self esteem and our pride should have nothing to do with something we can’t really control. We should not feel ashamed if something turns out differently to how we hoped. We did our best and life had other plans. That’s OK.

Sometimes life might put us on a path that will teach us the most, if we’re willing to learn.

Did your birth/s go to plan? Did you have a plan?

For some women, a traumatic birth or a birth that did not go to plan can be a trigger for post natal depression. If you are struggling, please click here for some resources. 

We need to have a little chat.

PUPPP.

Nope. I didn’t just fall asleep on my keyboard. I’m talking about PUPPP. It stands for (wait for it…) pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy. Yeah. Sounds complicated. I bet most of you have never heard of the damn thing (unless you know me very well via this blog or have actually googled it). Before experiencing this horrible rash first hand, I would have heard such a crazy bunch of words beginning with P and I would have shrugged it off. I don’t really know what that is and who cares, it’s just some rash that I’ll never get (it is believed to only be experienced by an extremely small percentage of pregnant women).

Because hardly anyone suffers from this condition, it was very isolating and difficult to deal with. Each case can differ in how your body responds to the awfully itchy rash, meaning treatments that work for one person might not help another. Odds are, you might not even know what it is when you first show symptoms, if you should be unlucky enough to be a part of the unfortunately exclusive PUPPP club.

I had no idea. I resorted to googling (something I do not normally recommend) when the symptoms got too crazy and I was slow to get answers (partly my fault and partly due to inexperience of some of the doctors I saw early in the piece when my baby doctor was on holiday – of course!). I felt like I knew it was PUPPP, but waiting for an actual professional opinion/diagnosis (and treatment) was like agony.

I was only 20 weeks pregnant when it got bad. Normally women get it at the very end of their pregnancies, meaning there is not long to go before they can give birth (and more often than not be relieved of the symptoms immediately), or can be induced at full term if it’s bad enough.

Yeah. Unlucky.

800px-PUPPP-abdomenPic: Side view of a sufferer’s abdomen.

I spent weeks feeling alone. I couldn’t wear clothes that might itch, sweat or cling to my skin. Difficult in winter. I felt socially isolated and while it’s hard enough to get dressed when you’re big, it was even harder to feel pretty or human with PUPPP. I itched so badly that I was afraid I’d have a panic attack about it in public, so I rarely ventured out before treatment could arrive. Even then, the steroid cream prescribed to me by a dermatologist (who thankfully knew what he was talking about) was greasy and while it helped my rash to settle down a LOT, it gave me pimples too eventually.

I was paranoid about humidity of any kind and it was a huge mental and emotional burden. I never stopped loving the Little Mister who was growing inside of me, but I’d be kidding myself (and you) if I said that I wasn’t close to depression. Bawling my eyes out in a lukewarm bathtub half the day was no life.

Why am I going on about this?

I want everyone to know about this condition. While it may never happen to you (especially if you’re a male reader haha), I want you to know what it is and how to spot it. Just in case.

I also want you to be able to seek help ASAP if you think you may have PUPPP. I didn’t. I put it down to a little heat rash and let myself get worse. If I had sought diagnosis and treatment when it first got a bit uncomfortable, by the time I got answers (it takes a while when no-one’s sure what the hell it is – odds are they may not have dealt with a case first hand very often) I might have saved myself weeks of agony. It is much better to have a false alarm and deal with a doctor who thinks you’re being a little dramatic, than to suffer on your own for too long.

Also, I am writing this post because I want anyone who is friends/family/known to someone who has this condition, to know what it’s like to go through it. I want you to understand that it’s more than a little rash. It can cover half of a woman’s body, is unsightly (therefore embarrassing) and very very uncomfortable and itchy. Think extreme chicken pox (it was like that for me anyhow). Each woman may deal with it differently, but I want you to know how bad it can be. It’s really hard to go through it alone and part of my isolation was worrying that my friends didn’t understand. I couldn’t be at social occasions very often – each day was different and I felt awful and flaky. I worried that they believed I was letting a ‘little thing’ slow me down and that I wasn’t living my life just because I was pregnant. Maybe they thought that, maybe they didn’t. They were amazing friends through it all, but that worry was just something I carried. If I’d known they were able to access great information on PUPPP, I might not have felt so insecure.

It’s hard enough to feel attractive or like you’re living your life fully and actively when you’re quite up the duff. Add complications to that pregnancy and it can be very scary and lonely. I knew that the Little Mister was doing fine inside me – I knew I was blessed even in the rough times. I could have had worse issues (well, besides my gestational diabetes which can be dangerous if untreated). However, try telling a pregnant sufferer of PUPPP that when she can’t sleep AT ALL, feels so itchy she could scratch ALL OF HER SKIN BLOOD RAW,  and lives in a lukewarm bath, waiting for an appointment with a specialist.

I put on a brave face a lot. I wish someone had said, “Lady – I know what that is and you’re fooling no-one. Let me hug you – very gently – while I listen to you whinge about it.”

Also, stop asking a PUPPP sufferer (with scars) if she’s tried bio-oil. No over the counter treatments worked for me (or were permitted during pregnancy depending on ingredients). My skin was sensitive to greasy or oily things (ie the ointment was bad enough). Most of the people who asked me if I’d used bio-oil had never even tried it. The power of advertising, I guess. It’s horrible knowing that almost nothing works. It’s worse when everyone (who’s never heard of the damn condition) suggests treatments for you, which you know will do jacksh*t or even make it worse. You probably mean very well, but you don’t have to be an expert or give advice. A kind, listening ear (and encouragement to seek professional treatment if someone hasn’t already) is probably best.

I was lucky. My symptoms disappeared IMMEDIATELY once the Little Mister had vacated my body. While I had a whole lot of other issues, that was thankfully not one of them. However, the scars and the mental effects stayed for a while. I didn’t want to see another greasy, oily ointment again. I had scars on my chest, which meant I couldn’t dress nicely over summer, without feeling like I was an acne ridden teen with chest pimples (no-one wants to see those). I was sensitive to heat, mentally and physically. It took a YEAR before I felt like I could bare my upper chest without a big ol’ necklace or high neckline to hide behind. Progress can be slow.

I am very fortunate to have a very healthy, hilarious and good natured 18 month old today, who has no idea of the hell he put me through during pregnancy! I intend to let him know during his teenage years, though 😉 In all seriousness, that (him being in my life happy and healthy) is what matters most and what got me through a tough time. PUPPP is not something I would wish on my worst enemy. It felt worse than the diabetes and worse than the infection that brought on my labour. It was worse than dealing with the healing from a C-section. Itching is seriously a form of torture. Some people handle it better than others and I will be the first to admit that I was not handling it, despite my best efforts.

There is help and support out there, but it’s important to start looking early. I’m not trying to scare anyone. I’m just trying to bring awareness to it.

I found a dermatologist who dealt with a lot of pregnancy cases. I highly recommend you seek out an experienced specialist and get the ball rolling with referrals etc fast. Also, know that it isn’t your fault. We are all quick to judge these days. It’s easy to believe that a woman having a tough pregnancy must just be a Negative Nancy or probably did something to cause her condition, because it makes us feel like we have control over our own circumstances, but during pregnancy all bets are off. You can do your best and still have some hurdles to deal with. Don’t let ignorant people bring you down.

Pregnancy is stressful enough.

So please, my hope is that if you have read this you will be a proactive sufferer, in order to make your time as a beautiful (you still are) pregnant woman a little easier. If you hear of a friend or relative having this condition, I hope that you will now know just how severe it can be and treat them with the extra love and care they deserve. A great support network can make the difference between a surviving some tough times, and depression.

Feel free to share this post and PLEASE do not be in denial. No-one wants to know about the crap things that can happen when you’re pregnant, but information is power and might save you a lot of suffering (I speak from experience).

Love and light,

Kez xo

If you have experienced this, please contact me or leave a comment – I would love for you to share your stories.

This post is a part of the Blog Every Day in May challenge.



Am I not SAD anymore?

Pic

This past week or two, the wintery weather has suddenly fallen upon my little corner of the planet. The night time feels cooler, the clouds cover the sky more often than not and the rain has begun to fall a bit more regularly. The rain cover for the pram is finally being used, I’m wearing my good old trackie pants and the air conditioner is getting a rest!

I’ve never been a fan of winter. In fact, each year (other than a bit of Autumn wistfulness as new clothing hits the racks at my favourite stores) I dread it. The clouds, the wetness and the addiction to winter comfort eating have always got me down. All the songs on the radio turn into dreary commercial rock (Nickelback anyone? Shoot me) to match the weather and you have to layer up your clothing so anything cute you might have started to wear is eternally hidden under rainproof wear and those coats that strippers wear (I cannot for the life of me remember what they’re called right now – it’s been a long summer – wait they’re called trenchcoats – meh). At times I would feel just downright negatively introspective and just on the border of depression after a long bout of wind and rain. I guess I’m prone to that SAD thing (Seasonally Affected Depression/Disorder or whatever it stands for – I’m no doctor). I suppose winter also reminded me of cramming in depressing winter classes at university and feeling so damn stressed about everything life throws at you in the winter.

Last winter was so different. Last winter I was pregnant and itchy with PUPPP rash. I was also quite…warm all the time because of all the extra ‘insulation’ (I look back and think of the Little Mister’s foetus as my inbuilt hot water bottle). I had the air conditioner on constantly, as the muggy, wet weather would aggravate my rash and I suppose my husband did a good job of not arguing with me when he was probably freezing his you-know-whats off! I had to say goodbye to my leggings because the cheap fabric rubbed on my legs too much, causing me to itch. I had to wear custom altered maxi dresses from sale racks with giant scarves (to hide the rash on my neck and chest) and I had to find jackets that could hang around my giant bump without looking too strange. I felt unattractive, lonely and puffed out! I spent a lot of time on the couch, napping in my bed (when my pelvic pain would let me get in without taking half an hour just to lie down) and wandering aimlessly between the computer and the kitchen. I just couldn’t do much else – especially when soaked in the greasiest ointment you can imagine!

While it was obviously no picnic (bloody oath!), I was grateful the whole time for the fact that I had conveniently fallen pregnant in Autumn and would give birth in Spring – mostly dodging the warmest, sweatiest weather of the year. I came to look forward to seeing weather forecasts full of cold fronts and bad weather (it meant that I could stay in without feeling guilty or left out of things). I liked the days where everyone else would whine about the cold, because it meant that I would be the most comfortable.

For all the bad moments, last winter I experienced some amazing life changing moments. Feeling my Little Mister kicking inside me, playing with his little feet, elbows and knees as he pushed them against the skin of my bump. He kept me company when I felt cumbersome and… stuck. He made the discomfort worth it. The few things I got to do was attend a good number of AFL (Australian Football League – Aussie Rules) games to cheer on my team, the West Coast Eagles. These days cheered me up immensely when I wasn’t well. They were special times – especially as our team was doing so well (proving a lot of naysayers wrong)! There was the game in Melbourne (our last real holiday before the baby came) and there were a couple of games at home – one being right after I found out that I had gestational diabetes on top of the rest of my damn problems! For a few hours I felt cute (wearing my maternity jeans – finally – it was cold enough for my rash to not be as much of an issue), normal and I could forget about my blood sugar (kind of – everyone was eating meat pies and drinking soft drink) while the team won and the Little Mister kicked whenever something exciting happened.

So this year, I realise that I don’t think I’ll hate winter anymore. I’m sure I’ll get sick of it over time (I feel like that about every season at least for a little while towards the end of it) and there will be days when the weather feels like it’s stopping me in my tracks, but I think it’s growing on me. I feel grateful that this winter I can wear jeans (first skinny jeans in a loooong time – got a little bit of tummy to hide but I’m cool with that). This winter I can wear leggings in fifty million different combinations of colours and designs with nice, big, comfy tops (when I can actually afford to go clothes shopping – the possibility is still nice though!). This winter I can snuggle up real close with my Little Mister and dress him up in the cutest outfits (he was always near naked in Summer because he’s sensitive to heat – I have a theory it’s to do with my pregnancy)! I can enjoy those winter comfort foods I love (within reason). I will save on my electricity bills – not so much air con running all the time. I can look after my skin, so it’s ready for a nice reveal next Summer.

I never thought this would happen. I actually think that Winter and I might become friends 🙂

What’s your favourite season?

I know this might shock you, but I’m not a Victoria’s Secret model…

Pic: “Wait, that’s not Kez! But they look so alike!”

Yep. I know that when you see me, you do a double take. But no, I am not the Asian Miranda Kerr. Thankyou anyway. I mean, she pushed out a baby 2 pounds heavier than mine (VAGINALLY!) and stays in shape doing pilates. So I can see how you would mix the two of us up. Especially after reading about my pre-natal pilates experiences and all…

Well, before I got pregnant I was on a health kick, so that kind of counts, right? It wasn’t intended as a specific let’s-get-pregnant overhaul. It was just for me. The rest just kind of fell into place later 😉

I was all about weighing myself daily, recording everything I ate and exercising all the time. I was excited about my lifestyle changes and admittedly, a lot of my focus was all about not wanting to hate my body anymore. I wanted to feel less stressed, stop yelling “DO I LOOK FAT IN THIS?! I LOOK TOTALLY FAT IN THIS!” at my husband, and I wanted to wear nice clothes without trying on half a store first and deciding I looked disgusting in EVERYTHING! Oh, and there was the fact that I wanted to feel less sluggish, more energetic, happy and relaxed…which I did and it felt AMAZING, but let’s not tell a lie here. Vanity played a large part.

How things have changed!

My Little Mister is four weeks and six days old today! I honestly feel like I’ve known him forever! I’m tired as hell, but we are lucky to have a good little sleeper by newborn standards (so far…) so I’m not really complaining! I might even be able to send the nanny home soon. Bahaha. Nanny. As if!

I’m starting to get out and about more as my body recovers from the birth and my confidence slowly builds (it was hard letting my husband do almost everything except breastfeed for the first couple of weeks – I felt a bit inadequate). Just little steps, like a trip to meet a friend for coffee, trips to our parents’ places and the dreaded supermarket run – those sorts of things. I thought I should take a break from the catwalk and my many obligations as an international beauty superstar – you know how it is. I’m probably pushing myself a tiny bit hard for someone who’s had a C-section (I have to lift the pram in and out of the car when I’m by myself and it’s awkward getting the little guy in and out of his car seat or bathing him), but I feel a lot stronger than I felt for months, as my pregnancy was pretty tough on my body!

I look in the mirror and today and I see stretch marks all around my middle. They’re a purply colour – quite dark, but sloooowwly fading. I probably could have minimised or prevented them if I’d not had my rash (which led to very sensitive skin and inability to use most good products for it), but then again maybe not. I was pretty far stretched due to a moderately sized baby, my small body frame and what was apparently a lot of amniotic fluid (which was exclaimed loudly by the obstetrician as he kindly broke my waters – the most painful part of labour I swear)! I see silvery/bluish (but luckily sparse) stretch marks creeping down my inner thighs (I was so swollen late in my pregnancy with fluid that it’s not surprising). I see pock mark like scars down my whole left leg and on the upper thigh of my right leg. They are dark and purplish against my naturally olive skin.

To add to the indignity, my chin is covered in adolescent like pimples (which are starting to scar). Must be the hormones from breastfeeding. They’re starting to spread a little down my neck (oh joy!). My chest has faded scarring all over it from the first pregnancy rash I had at 20 weeks pregnant, with some new zits to complete the look. While my skin feels better in that area (less lumpy and less blocked pores), it still stands out to me when I wear summer clothing and I daren’t wear anything that might show off my otherwise attractive cleavage (one benefit of breastfeeding for a normally smaller busted gal like myself)!

I find myself staring wistfully at all the “normal” people I see out and about, with their clear skin. Those lucky lucky people.

My belly has shrunk a lot but there’s a floppy fold under my belly button (might have to stop posing in bikinis for men’s magazines for a while *snort*). Under clothing it looks a bit pot-bellyish. The muscles in my belly need to be toned up again and I suppose my skin needs to try to shrink back after it was so stretched to accommodate the Little Mister.

My hair has a nice cut to it, but it’s losing that super awesome volume it had while I was pregnant. My fringe needs a trim and is a little hard to control. I suppose I’ll somehow fit in a hair appointment closer to Christmas – silly me, sending my imaginary personal beauty team on holidays!

I look at some of the cute summer dresses online or at the shops that would look amazing on me in my new (old) body, but often the hemline is a bit too short – don’t want those scarred legs with the stretch marks on show! It kind of takes the class out of a cute look that I could otherwise pull off quite well.

BUT…

You know what? Enough of my bad jokes (Miranda Kerr might be getting a little bit annoyed as she reads this whilst breastfeeding baby Flynn, doing a pilates workout, eating a gourmet healthy brunch and making out with Orlando Bloom at the same time). The flaws I’ve just described don’t bother me quite as much as I thought they might. Sure, they can make me scramble about in my wardrobe feeling a bit frustrated (no different to how I behaved before and during my pregnancy – just for different reasons), but when I look in the mirror I see the good things (without even having to try)! Some days I even forget about the marks all over my body! For the first time, my eyes are drawn to my better features instead of honing in on the bad stuff! I know! Miracles do happen!!

I see my small waist. It looks so trim and it’s fantastic in an empire line dress! I see a shrinking (if a little flawed) belly. I feel blessed that I am already at my pre-pregnancy weight and getting a tiny bit smaller each day – without dieting (it will catch up with me soon but I’m just savouring these moments before I am able to exercise the way I want)!

I see slim upper arms that look cute in sleeveless summer tops. I love that I get a built in work out for my arms from lifting the baby all the time.

My thighs and calves (although in need of toning) look slimmer than they have in a long time! I’m almost five weeks out from giving birth and I can’t believe my luck. So many new mothers would be grateful to get so close to their original shape this fast, with no ability to do proper exercise while pregnant (due to illness), as well as having a C-section, and I don’t say that smugly. I say it with the utmost gratitude and disbelief. When I look at my legs, I don’t just see the pock marks from scratching my pregnancy rash in my sleep (OK and sometimes when I was awake and couldn’t control myself). I choose to see the way the rash has disappeared between them. I see how clear those pockets of skin are. And I am grateful. I might have a battered, scarred body but all of that will fade over time. I’ve been through a hell of a lot and just to be able to move my body with ease, to have no pelvic pain and to get in and out of a bed without taking half an hour is just amazing. I love being able to get to my baby when he’s crying, without struggling and feeling bad about it (like I did for the first two weeks). My skin is rarely itchy (and when it is it’s only due to stress or because it’s healing) and I can eat what I like (provided my 6 week check up tells me my diabetes has officially gone – please for the love of Huey let it be gone).

I never dreamed that I would feel so good again and a few sh*tload of marks and battle wounds mean very little when I put things in perspective. They just mean that my body did something amazing. They remind me how strong I had to be.

I guess the point I’m making in this post is for us to just love our bodies for what they do for us. When you put everything in perspective, our cosmetic scars and superficial flaws are not really all that bad. They describe a journey we’ve been through and show us that we’ve survived.

Of course I’m more  human than supermodel (hello – have you met me?!) and there are moments I feel a bit disappointed that I can’t wear just any damn thing I like (seems unfair suddenly losing a bunch of weight but not being able to show off your new shape properly), but on the whole I see things really differently now. I’m no Miranda Kerr on the outside, but damn if I don’t feel just as good about myself on the inside!

What do you love about your body?

 

Disclaimer: I know I use Miranda Kerr as a supermodel stereotype in this post, but I actually do have a girl crush on her. She’s just so hot and down to earth at the same time. I’ve tried to hate her, but I just can’t. Damn MILF!

Some honest reflection one week out of hospital.

Pic

Look, I am going to toot my own horn here (or whatever that expression is). I am going to risk sounding full of myself but I am damn proud of how I’ve handled my crazy pregnancy and labour experiences. I’ve learnt so much about what I am capable of both mentally and physically, which sounds funny because a lot of things didn’t go right. It doesn’t mean that there weren’t moments I felt like my body had let me or the Little Mister down, but there were a lot of things my body did right.

They say you should talk about your birth experience – especially if things went a little haywire – as it can ward off post natal depression and keep you positive and supported. I totally believe this now and it’s why I’ve been so brutally honest about everything I’ve experienced. Sharing my story and talking to my husband and my family about it without being afraid of a few tears has really helped.

I feel a bit bad like maybe I’ll scare some people who hope to have children some day, but look. I’m here and I have a beautiful, healthy baby to prove that despite the challenges everything can turn out well in the end. I think I did teeter dangerously close to depression at some low points of my pregnancy. I was tired of everything that got thrown at me from rashes to diabetes to the mysterious infectious end to the whole ordeal (which luckily resulted in a healthy mum and bub after a bit of TLC). I thought that if there was something that could go wrong, it would happen to me. Oh, that condition only affects 1% of pregnant people? For sure, I’ll get it! I admit to thinking negatively and worrying a lot. I didn’t think of myself as a strong person at all. I felt inadequate and helpless. Sometimes I felt like I was alone (which I know I wasn’t but when you’re down you think you’re the only one).

Everyone said to me that when Little Mister arrived, I would forget all of those troubles and everything I’ve been through would fade away. I didn’t believe them. I was trying to be realistic about it all. I knew that in my position I might not feel amazing right away and I refused to pressure myself to feel that new baby euphoria immediately. If it happened (which I prayed it did) then I would be so relieved and if it didn’t, I would be mentally prepared, know the signs and ask for help.

I can’t believe my luck. Everything really does seem worth it with my little guy around. I love him so much. In fact, maybe I love him and appreciate him even harder after all we’ve been through together. Sometimes I do get sad flashbacks to my labour experience or the trauma that certain events brought me in the lead up to his birth. I acknowledge and honour those feelings. I talk them out and I give them a little time (and a couple of tears) before moving forward. I have so many new things to learn and love.

I am recovering from an emergency C-section and it can be frustrating. I don’t know where I would be without the help of my husband and the support of family. It really is physically limiting and I try not to let it affect the way I bond with our bub, but there are admittedly times I can’t jump up out of bed (on account of being too sore) and lift him up into my arms when he cries. I need a lot of help and sometimes I just cannot do everything I want to. I try to make up for it wherever I can and I am not pressuring myself to do too much or to be a super mummy right away.

Something that affects me a little is the fact that my baby was taken away to another hospital for special care hours after birth. He was gone about three days and I only got to see him when he was placed on my chest right after the C-section. This is hard for any new mum, but I think that being an adoptee, I found it particularly tough when on day 3 the baby blues kicked in (only I had no baby with me yet). I realised that my biological mother had been through a similar (albeit permanent) trauma. I had now felt what it was like to go through a lot to have a baby and then have nothing to show for it. I felt so blessed that it was just a temporary situation (a few days really is going to seem like a flash in the pan as we clock up the quality time with our gorgeous bub), but it made me very sad. I was so jealous of my husband because he was able to visit Little Mister (but also so grateful he wouldn’t be alone). I felt empty and shellshocked and it still brings tears to my eyes sometimes when I talk about it. I had looked forward to seeing my beautiful baby for so long – he was the reward for all my hard work – and now he wasn’t there. I was hooked up to drips and stuck on an uncomfortable hospital bed, feeling as if I was still pregnant because I had nothing to prove otherwise (a swollen post-surgery paunch didn’t help the matter). Each day I feel a little better about how everything’s turned out, but I doubt I’ll ever forget those feelings.

I now respect those who go through harder situations than me so much more than ever before. My small taste of separation from my baby was more than enough for me to go through. My heart goes out to those who aren’t as fortunate as myself and my husband. My husband said that it was humbling visiting the neo-natal ward at the children’s hospital. Our baby looked so big and healthy compared to the tiny, struggling premature babies who were in the humidicribs. The parents of those other babies would look on in shock at how much our baby was thriving compared to their tiny, delicate infants. They must have wondered what he was doing there. Our Little Mister might have had an infection and needed oxygen and intravenous antibiotics but he was big and strong. I love him so much and he already makes me proud.

I see so many positives out of this situation. I have a healthy fighter of a baby. I now know what I’m made of. Even when trying for a natural labour I kept my composure and I did what was best for me and the baby (never letting myself get too distressed). I now know I can handle pain I’ve never experienced previously in my whole life and now I feel like I could get through anything. My rash has disappeared and I can eat what I like again. I am healthier because my diabetes taught me better dietary habits and I can look at the warm, inviting spring sunshine and not be afraid that it will make my skin unbearable to be in. The small pleasures in life are certainly not taken for granted anymore.

Itchy stretch marks on my belly and pock marked legs? Who bloody cares! Look what good things my body did! It knew to get the baby out before it was too late. It responded to the drugs I was given and it is healing fabulously considering what it’s been through. My faith in my body is returning, which is actually a really big deal for me.

I have so many good things to look forward to in life and I’m on the craziest learning curve ever. Love really does conquer all if we let it.

If I have any advice (unsolicited again – sorry) for other new mums, it would be to not expect yourself to feel 100% awesome and competent and crazy with baby love 100% of the time. It’s OK if sometimes you need a little cry or if something isn’t quite working perfectly. Just get some support if you need it and you’ll be able to move forwards onto all the good things in life. The baby blues are real and that’s OK.

In saying that, sometimes it’s more than just baby blues and you shouldn’t have to suffer alone and ashamed – here is a link if you’re struggling xo