Category: pregnancy

C-what now?

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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’.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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

The birth story: Better out than in!

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Now here’s a story about being Awesomely Unprepared…

So I was going a little crazy in late pregnancy. I was suffering from my various pregnancy ailments and after being strong during ridiculous amounts of blood tests and doctor/hospital appointments, I finally cried in front of my baby GP and this got me a date to be induced for labour (I wasn’t intending to use my feminine wiles to manipulate a good outcome but I was glad the waterworks were effective). I was to enter the maternity ward with my bags packed, feeling calm and prepared on Thursday the 10th of November. I was excited and relieved. I had been anxious that my baby boy was getting bigger and bigger. My rash was unbearable and untreatable. My diabetes was just playing havoc with me. I’d lost my appetite and I felt like I wasn’t getting the energy I needed from my heavily restricted diet. I was psychologically breaking and it was hard explaining my “big picture” story to every health professional I saw, who questioned why I was taking certain precautions etc when I wasn’t even considered full term yet (and there were many from midwives to pathology nurses to doctors and a dermatologist).

I had always planned on being a calm mother to be while in labour. I didn’t want to be in hysterics or do anything to distress the baby.

On Saturday the 5th November, I felt good. I went out for brunch with my family and I didn’t have any appointments lined up until the following Monday! Yes! Weekend off! I was also relieved at having an induction date, which relaxed me immensely.

As soon as I got home I went to have a long awaited nap on my couch while watching trashy TV, but I felt a bit off. Like when you first start to get a cold. I felt flushed in the face and it wasn’t relaxing at all. I figured I was just fighting something simple off. I told myself I would wake up the next day feeling good again.

This wasn’t the case. In fact, when I woke on Sunday the 6th of November, I felt worse. I called my parents and my dad came over and took my temperature and checked my blood pressure (gotta love having a health professional in the family). I had a mild temperature and the maternity nurse said not to worry unless it got a bit worse.

Later that afternoon…it got worse. I woke from a nap with some mild cramps and thought it was Braxton Hicks (fake practice contractions). I instinctively took my temperature and realised it was not good. I didn’t want to be a wuss (it didn’t feel like labour surely…which defies logic as I’d never experienced labour before) so I called my parents and asked them if I should get Husband Pants to leave work. I called the hospital and they said that if I couldn’t talk through my contractions anymore (or the pain got too scary) then I should go in. I was still not convinced I was in labour but eventually I was in agony! This sh*t was real – or it had better be because if it wasn’t, I didn’t want to go through that again on Thursday!!

My parents came over as soon as they could. It felt like they took forever and I was rocking about (standing up) like they teach you in ante-natal classes and was surprised that I wasn’t screaming. I had had a shower and it helped the tiniest bit, but I felt like there wasn’t even any gap between contractions anymore! My husband was notified and he sounded like he was in shock! He arranged to leave work an hour early and meet me at the maternity ward!

I got to hospital at 6:30pm (felt stupid being wheelchaired in by my dad but realised I could not have walked that long corridor by myself) and they monitored me for a bit. A doctor popped in just at the right moment (just happened to be a stupidly well regarded obstetrician who I am so grateful for) and told me I was 5cm already! I had been quietly going into labour and was already halfway! I never knew I was so stoic!!

I was moved quickly from the observation room into a birthing suite and the action continued. The midwife offered me gas at just the right moment (I thought I was tough but there was a point it all got hazy) and my husband was so good holding my hand and showing me he was proud of the way I was breathing well and taking it in my stride. All the ideas I had about my first labour being long and laborious (no pun intended) and perhaps even boring went right out the window. I didn’t have to worry about wanting music played on my ipod or eating light snacks to make it through. No-one had time to abuse any social networking opportunities (ie facebooking or tweeting anything inappropriate) and I didn’t even have a chance to try out various birthing positions or techniques!! I didn’t even have time to break any of my hubby’s fingers or ask him how guilty he felt (damn I had really wanted to use that line)!

The doctor kept telling me my labour could get dangerous for the baby and I on account of my fever. I understood what he was saying but his bedside manner was so good that I stayed calm despite the dangers and just kept doing what I was advised. I ended up having an epidural. The choice was taken out of my hands (which was a relief to be honest – that’s a lot of big decision making). I had to be prepped for surgery in case I would need it. I had no idea the magnitude of the situation. I was told to push really hard but I couldn’t feel much and I suppose that was disappointing because I was going to be wheeled off to theatre where they would attempt to get the baby out superfast with forceps (eek). I got to 9cm dilated but it became obvious very quickly that a birth by forceps (instrumental birth I think he said) wasn’t going to be good enough. Things were getting dangerous. So C-section it was.

Only three measly hours after I arrived at hospital, our Little Mister was delivered at 9:28pm. He weighed roughly 8 lb, 1 oz and was 50cm long. He was lifted above the curtainy-shield thingy and shown to us but he wasn’t moving or crying. I think they told me he was moving to make me feel OK but I was so tired and overwhelmed and drugged that I didn’t really have a chance to worry or feel traumatised. Luckily a couple of minutes later I heard him make some sound and my husband looked at me with a comforting smile and said, “Do you hear that?”

We had about five minutes of snuggle time (he was already cleaned and wrapped) and then he was gone again. I was told that I had an infection in my amniotic fluid and he had breathed it in and could get pneumonia or something equally nasty for a newborn.

I was in a daze and taken to recovery. I had been told he needed some special attention but to be honest I really didn’t understand just what a delicate situation he and I were in. We were both sick.

I was just relieved that I had delivered my baby. I didn’t know that I wouldn’t really see him for another three days, after he was sent to the paediatric hospital an hour’s drive away for special care and monitoring in their neo-natal ward (my amazing husband would have to divide his time between staying with me and visiting Little Mister so he wasn’t alone).

When I was back in my hospital room, I felt good. I was on pethidine and fluids (I had come to the hospital very dehydrated despite sipping on water all day every day for weeks leading up to the birth) and thought I was doing amazingly. My parents came into the room and my mother in law visited me too even though it was now the middle of the night. I feel a little sad for myself when I think back to that time. I was so out of it that I didn’t realise I had no baby by my side. My arm was full of drips and I didn’t know I was so sick and needing a hell of a lot of intravenous anti biotics and an extra day tethered to the hospital bed (most C-section patients are only kept in bed for one day).

I was happy (even if in a drug induced haze). I’d seen my baby briefly and he was alive. It was all I needed to know at that moment. Almost nothing had gone to any kind of original plan but I knew that the baby and I were in good hands (in fact – the best – I cannot even express how grateful I am). I am relieved that I went into all of this open minded, not trying to control everything. Perhaps my challenging pregnancy had made me mentally strong enough for what was to come.

Stay tuned for the next post about the aftermath of my crazy birth experience...

So close, yet so far! Late pregnancy musings.

This post was originally drafted on Thursday the 3rd November, 2011. It was scheduled to be published at a later date, so as to maintain privacy for my family and I around the time of birth (which came 3 days later to my surprise!). It documents the lead up to labour and my feelings and experiences (with a bit of sparkly vampire pop culture thrown in). It’s kind of funny reading it back. Labour and aftermath to be blogged soon x

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If you know me well, it would be common knowledge that I really can’t stand sparkly vampire type movies or television shows about blood sucking non-people people. I just can’t get on board with that stuff. Each to their own, but I am much more a fan of zombies: brain eating non-people people. Yes, there is a distinctive difference.

Anyhow, each time a new Twilight movie is on the horizon one of my dear friends will invite “the girls” around to catch up on the previous movies before heading to the cinema for a night out to enjoy the latest one. I usually “um” and “aah” about whether to get over myself and just go – for the awesome company of course – or to refuse the invitation on principle. The last few times I’ve been busy anyhow so it hasn’t been an issue.

This time, upon viewing the Twilight: Breaking Dawn trailer, I am decidedly against attending the movie.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hrCkkilRDM]

I think it might be quotes about the pregnant character Bella.

You know, things like “The foetus is not compatible with your body. It’s too strong and fast growing.”

And…”It’s crushing you from the inside out…”

I have since concluded that I must be pregnant with some kind of vampire/werewolf thingy (I don’t actually know what’s going on there other than what I see on gossip/entertainment websites).

My body is reacting a lot to having a whole new crazy bunch of baby boy hormones inside it. Gestational diabetes, two types of rashes (the second one is worse because my trusty treatment from last time is no longer working effectively – trust me), blood tests on my uric acids (kidney function) and bile salts (enough to make me feel like I’ve been attacked by very hungry vampires – my arms look like that of a junkie). The list just feels like it keeps growing and growing! It’s like my body has decided it’s had enough of being pregnant, but the message hasn’t quite transmitted to our Little Mister who seems kind of comfy (maybe too comfy) inside me!

I’ve been in and out of hospital for a week now, with no signs of the constant appointments and monitoring ceasing anytime soon. It’s been very tiring and stressful. The baby is fine but like the crazy foetus in the Twilight trailer, he seems quite strong and he is quite fast growing!! I bawled my eyes out after my 36 week ultrasound because I was told his estimated weight was that of a fully cooked baby already. I may or may not have disturbed the waitstaff at the cafe my husband took me out for lunch at afterwards. It’s all been a little overwhelming. OK, so a lot!!

Tomorrow marks the end of the 37th week of pregnancy and the beginning of the 38th. I am hoping and praying that someone will induce me – SOON. I’ve been told (after a confronting internal examination in which I was a teensy bit traumatised) that my body is preparing in all the right ways for labour but none of it means it will naturally begin for me any time soon. It could be days or weeks.

INDUCE ME!!!!! Right now I feel that I could probably give birth to our baby naturally while he is of an OK size, but in a couple of weeks? Hell no. Because of all my itching and discomfort, I admit to being afraid to have a C-section. Not so much because of the whole being-cut-open thing, but the worry about recovery and healing afterwards. I’m much better with pain than I am with itching, which might seem strange but I seriously can’t handle the itches. I go kind of nuts. The idea of a possibly itchy scar has me wanting to join my bubba in the foetal position!!

On the bright side, being in hospital so much lately has made me less afraid of going into labour. The familiarity I am gaining with the maternity ward and the different midwives on shift each time I visit helps a lot. I recommend to other pregnant lovelies out there that you take a tour of your maternity ward before birth and ask lots of questions if possible. It really does ease your mind knowing where to go and what your room might look like. Even how the staff interact with you. I don’t recommend finding out the hard way like I have been, but sometimes sh*t happens!

I’ve kept this stuff fairly quiet with friends because they are already so excited for me and I am receiving text messages and facebook wall posts quite regularly now, asking when the hell I’m going to have the baby! I’ve stayed vague, not because they’re people I can’t confide in, but because my latest experiences are very raw and can change any moment. I plan on telling all after the birth. I have no doubt my friends would be so loving and caring if they knew everything, but right now I just want to be quiet and private so as to stay calm and focused. I know they won’t hold it against me. Sometimes I just need some time and space to process things for myself before sharing with the world.

I’ve been quite emotional and run down lately. I can joke about this stuff in blog form, but it can be really challenging. The Husband Guy has been so supportive and helpful and my parents (and inlaws) have been great. I know most women get to that “so over it” phase during late pregnancy, but I think that for me there is much more to it than that. I’ve had one helluva ride over the last few months and I’m ready for the next exciting chapter of my life. The part where the pregnancy conditions (hopefully) ease or disappear and I have a beautiful baby boy in my arms.

At times I’ve felt like I’m just crap at being pregnant (when I started this blog I had no idea just where the journey would take me), but I have to remind myself that I’m not. I am lucky. I have a healthy baby inside me that my partner and I were able to conceive in the first place. My own body may be shot to hell, but I’m successfully carrying this precious cargo safely to term and I could not be luckier.

I guess I just never planned on being one of those “problem pregnancy” bloggers. I feel like I’ve mentioned the words “rash” and “diabetes” almost every single post and I have never wanted to be pigeonholed as a poster girl for any of these issues. I have just tried to document my experiences honestly. Maybe all this sh*t has happened for a reason. Maybe I can bring comfort to someone else going through similar experiences.

I hope that the next news I have to share will be the announcement of the birth!

Getting reflective before giving out some unsolicited advice.

As I reach the pointy (stretchy, bumpy, achey) end of my first pregnancy, I am feeling a little bit reflective. It has been one big journey both physically and mentally. When talking to friends who are in the earlier stages of gestation, I realise that I have come a long way. It feels like only yesterday I too was overwhelmed and felt entirely clueless about the whole situation and now I am doling out advice (hopefully the useful and welcome kind) and trying to reassure others about the process – not that I’m some big ol’ expert know it all or anything. I guess I’ve just learnt a lot along the way.

Now, during and after childbirth? That’s a whole other matter!! Stay tuned!!!

Here are some reflections on some of the feelings and symptoms I’ve experienced so far.

Pre-conception

I was trying to play it cool. My pill prescription was due for a refill and I was going to head to the pharmacy for it when my husband said, “Are you sure you need to do that? That’s a whole four months more of the pill. Maybe we could start trying for a baby. It might take a while for your body to adjust so why not just leave it?”

Eek! I couldn’t believe we were having this conversation! I mean, we had always talked about it in an abstract kind of way and we knew we both dreamed of a family of our own, but this was REAL! Holy crap! I looked at him with wide eyes, he looked back at me and I felt a dangerous thrill.

I bought a couple of books online (OK so about four) for us to read. A couple for dads-to-be and a couple about pregnancy itself. I started having an excited browse of them, but soon realised I didn’t want to read far ahead because it was too overwhelming and I needed to stay cool. Conception might take a while and I didn’t want to pressure myself or become crazy about baby making. I wanted to be relaxed and peaceful about the process, not impatient or anxious.

I had occasions where I would have a “moment” and would need reassurance from my husband. I knew people (including my own parents) who had struggled with different fertility and pregnancy issues and while I tried to tell myself that it’s more common than people realise and that I was just being realistic, I realised just how important the dream of falling pregnant really was to me. Being adopted made me feel like I needed someone who comes from me. From my biological family tree. That is hard to admit because so much of my life is about knowing that love is thicker than water, not blood or genetics.

I stopped reading the books completely and the hubby and I booked a Contiki tour of Europe (something to look forward to if things weren’t happening on the baby front), which took the pressure off. Turns out we never went on that tour! 😉

Pic Oh crap! What now?!

First Trimester

I was nervous from the moment we found out we were expecting. The first trimester is when you’re at the highest risk of miscarriage and I was scared that I would have one. Reading statistics about 1 in 5 pregnancies failing doesn’t help! I almost expected that my first pregnancy would fail just because it was my first pregnancy (don’t ask me how that logic works). I just hoped that a second attempt would be successful (luckily this was not to be an issue).

I felt tired and overwhelmed. Suddenly I had a tiny being (or bean) on board. I’d heard the heartbeat early on (about 7 weeks in) and seen a scan of something that looked like a jelly bean attached to another jelly bean (the embryo and its little sac), but it still didn’t feel entirely real. I was excited but I didn’t want to let myself get carried away. I had a few weeks before I would feel safe to tell the world.

I was googling everything I felt. I was reading about all the foods I suddenly had to avoid (if you followed every tiny bit of written advice there is out there you wouldn’t be able to eat anything). I lost my appetite and I was losing a bit of (admittedly excess) weight. I felt so…dumb!

I started reading Up the Duff and What to Expect When You’re Expecting but nothing really sank in. I wasn’t quite ready for it all. Later these books would become my bibles (I highly recommend you keep them for when you’re ready to take their advice).

We told immediate family almost straight away. We figured we’d have support from them if things went wrong but everyone was sworn to secrecy. Their lives would not be worth living if they told even a soul!!!

We had a scare at 12 weeks (right before our ultrasound was due), with a bleed in the middle of the night. I had been stressed and that moment was confusing and scary. It was a long night for us as we waited to have an appointment with our doctor the next morning (it seemed a better option than sitting in ED with the drunk casualties at the hospital on a weekend night). We got our scan booking moved a few days early as we were quite anxious. We were so relieved when there was our little foetus looking more baby shaped, the technician telling us there was no bad reason for my bleeding (perhaps it was the placenta implanting nice and strong in my uterine wall) and that everything was looking great. There appeared to be no abnormalities and there was no likeliness of Down Syndrome too. We were in shock, but this time it was the happy kind. It was a wake up call for me to avoid lots of stress and for my husband to help out with that rather than hyping me up when I felt a bit overwhelmed. It was a big adjustment for the both of us.

I told a couple of very close friends earlier in the piece but it was hard. I never knew how to announce it! It felt embarrassing and weird! Eventually my mum told me it was getting a bit crazy (I started showing at 10 weeks) and that I really just needed to be brave and share the news. I realised she was right. Bottling it up and keeping things secret has never been my style and I just wanted to feel real and honest with those I care about.

It felt like such a relief and I felt ready to embrace the experience.

Second Trimester

This was a wonderful time. I could finally show off my bump and I was starting to gain confidence in what I could eat. My appetite and energy levels came back with a vengeance and although I stupidly started comparing myself to other pregnant people (bad idea) I was feeling excited and happy. I started running around like a madwoman – my version of nesting. I was making the most of my energy boost and I was really enjoying everything I felt in my body. Even the not always awesome symptoms – they meant I was pregnant and that was enough for me!

I was baking up a storm almost daily in the kitchen. I was organising things for people and getting my creative juices flowing. I had started this blog you’re reading right now and I was finally able to read my pregnancy books without freaking out. I made a rule that I would just take it all a week at a time. I would only read about the week of pregnancy I was in and would not dare to flick forwards to those scary parts about labour or breastfeeding! This strategy has been a fantastic one.

Our 20 week ultrasound was very exciting. We paid an extra $15 for a DVD and we delighted in showing our families. We were on top of the world. We now knew we were having a boy! Everyone expected a girl (including me) but it was yet another boy to add to ALL the males on both sides of our families. I was admittedly a teeny tiny bit disappointed but knowing the baby was healthy and he was all ours overshadowed that feeling. I guess the rebel in me had wanted to even up the scoreboard with a bit more oestrogen. Never mind! Maybe next time!

Right after the scan I developed a PUPPP rash. They believe about 1% of women will get this hormonal pregnancy rash. It was unbearable and it started in all the uncomfortable, undignified places you can think of. It itched and it made me crazy. It took 2 weeks to get a diagnosis and I felt so helpless and depressed (I don’t use that term lightly). Until I got a great treatment for it from a dermatologist, I had nothing that worked besides lukewarm baths. Let me tell you, living in the bath sounds like a great idea, but it really gets bad when you can’t cope without it. It would soothe my skin for maybe a couple of hours before I was scratching, crying and having the darkest, most saddest thoughts about my pregnancy (and then feeling more awful that my mind could go there). I wouldn’t wish that time on anyone.

My skin started to scar badly and I felt unattractive, no longer the glowing pregnant lady. I had no clothes to wear (it was winter and leggings or cheap fabrics were out of the question) and I was a shut in for weeks as I was constantly soaked in greasy steroid ointment or had no clothes to wear. Luckily my mum saved the day with a whole bunch of beautiful maxi dresses. Phew. I could leave the house again! Albeit wearing scarves and god knows what else in an attempt to hide my scars.

The itching died down with the ointment and I only needed to use it occasionally. I started living my life again and I felt quite good, although the fear of a flare up was always in the back of my mind.

This is a time where I’d like to point out that I realised there is no perfect pregnancy. I couldn’t control everything and I had to accept that this was my experience. It was OK to have some bad thoughts or experiences. It didn’t make me a bad person or a failure of a pregnant woman. I did feel misunderstood because not many people knew what the condition was, but eventually I was able to re-embrace my pregnancy and focus on the positives with a lot of love and support from family and my husband (who was AMAZING during this time). By being open about my condition, I felt liberated and I hope I educated people on what the condition is about. Even the fact that pregnancies are not always perfect and that’s just the way life is. I became determined to not feel ashamed. The rash was/is not my fault.

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Third Trimester

Sh*t gets real in this trimester. It’s like my focus went from “being pregnant” to “going to have an actual real live baby”. I finally felt ready to buy baby things and think about the end result of my pregnancy! It had been too overwhelming before but now I started to realise what all of this truly means (well I knew a baby is going to be born but there’s a difference between knowing it and feeling it).

I wasn’t just thinking or reading about pregnancy symptoms. I was finally ready to hear advice about actual babies and labour and all the rest of it!

The nursery slowly filled up with furniture and clothing and goodness knows what other supplies! A pram was purchased (something that had scared the bejeezus out of me a trimester or two earlier – who the hell knows what a baby needs?!) and a cot was assembled! I finally had a handle on what all these baby products are, what features I wanted and what the teeny tiny clothing sizes mean!

I had my glucose tolerance test at 28 weeks. What a downer that was! I had a gut feeling all along that I would test positive for gestational diabetes, despite everyone being optimistic.
“What are the odds? You’ve already been through hell with the rash. I’m sure you’ll be fine.”

They meant well, but I just KNEW.

I got a bit grumpy having to see a dietician and test my blood four times a day. I felt horrible knowing that the condition was genetic (although relieved it wasn’t caused by my behaviour) because now I’ll be one of those people who have to watch out for Type 2 Diabetes for the rest of my damn life. That’s a lot to take in!!! Before this pregnancy I have always been healthy and taken for granted my smooth, tanned skin. Damn, reality can bite!

I felt hard done by. My diet would now be even more limited. I was having a pity party. 1% get the rash. 3-5% get Gestational Diabetes. I lost hope in all statistics. I no longer believe that if there is an extremely low risk of something happening that it means I’ll be right, mate. My body has proved that I can quite easily be in that minority.

I adjusted my diet over a week or so and finally feel confident in what I can eat or not eat. The hardest thing has been people in my life not understanding the limitations on my diet. Eating out can be difficult and people think that as long as I don’t eat cookies, cake or lollies then I’m fine. There is much more to it than that. I have to watch my carbs, the hidden sugars in almost everything we buy off supermarket shelves, even the natural sugars in fruit. All the condiments, sauces, salt content, proportioning of a meal, the timing of when I eat etc can have an effect on my blood sugar and at times I felt like I was repeating myself over and over and over. I don’t expect people to cater for me (I eat at home first or just watch them eat cake) but it did get frustrating trying to explain. I know everyone means well and I truly don’t blame them for not having the information (after all it’s not their problem). I think I just reached a level of annoyance about having the condition in the first place. Everything was getting to me. I withdrew socially for a few weeks so I could regroup and toughen up a bit. Perhaps, had I not had the rash, I might have handled it better psychologically.

This trimester we went to ante-natal class. I felt so much more relaxed afterwards. I now know more about the process at the hospital and about birth itself. How it all works, what the midwives are likely to do and different birthing positions and stories about natural births and C-sections. Taking some of the unknown out of the whole labour experience proved oddly reassuring, even though I’m sure to be in a whole world of pain and unexpected events when the time comes! The class made me realise I’m so ready for this baby.

One thing that really cheered me up socially was my baby shower! It was the first time I would see my friends in maybe a month. I was nervous about entertaining so many people at my house (I was getting to the really tired phase of pregnancy) but it was fantastic. There was SO much love in my house that day and I was on a high for days afterwards. The gifts were all gorgeous and useful. People were raving about the dessert buffet by Finn + Evie (which was planned before I found out I had diabetes) for days and I felt so spoilt. I felt overwhelmed by love and all warm and fuzzy that our baby is going to know this love soon!

Now I’m in the 36th week of pregnancy and my rash is trying to come back with a vengeance. It really loves my legs and my newly acquired stretch marks (please don’t give me advice on my skin unless you’ve had the condition – I know you mean really well and I love you for it but I can’t just whack on some bio oil or paw paw ointment yet – it’s going to be a long process and my skin is very sensitive at the moment – it’s not always that straight forward). This is difficult as I am already finding it hard to sleep. I thank my lucky stars I have my ointment this time. The weather isn’t helping at 94% humidity!!

I still have to pack my hospital bag (and one for the baby and one for the husband) but I feel ready. Once I know our little one is fully cooked, I can’t wait to get him out of me and into my arms! I want to meet him and love him and nurture him and show him off, but admittedly I am also SO over being pregnant! I want to eat what I like, wear high heels (or even nice wedges will do) and stop itching!

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My Two Cents Worth

I’ve had a big reality check with my first pregnancy. Life isn’t always smooth sailing and pregnancy is no different! I don’t want to scare any newly pregnant people with my tales of woe! It really is a lovely experience despite everything else. I just don’t believe in sugar coating it or making others feel inadequate by not being honest about my feelings and experiences. One thing that hasn’t changed through this whole process is my love for our baby. Love really can conquer all. I would tell anyone who is newly expecting that if you go with the flow and know it’s OK to not be in control, you’ll be able to get through anything. You might have dark thoughts, scary moments or feel particularly frumpy or spotty or clueless, but I promise you that you’re not alone. It’s a scary time as much as it is exciting. You just never know what will get thrown at you along the way! Just don’t beat yourself up if it’s not perfect or your thoughts aren’t all unicorns and rainbows. Everyone’s experiences are different. That woman you feel daunted by because she’s one of those seemingly perfect pregnant ladies might be hiding a multitude of conditions. She may have suffered miscarriages previously, she may be dressing so nicely to hide scars from a rash, she may not be able to eat what she likes (that might be why she seems so perfectly slim everywhere but the bump). She might just be paralysed by anxiety when she goes home at night. She might be able to keep up her paid day job forever while you feel like you can’t cope, but she may be throwing herself into work to avoid the inevitable list of baby related preparations that are seriously freaking her out.

You just don’t know, so don’t compare yourself. You’re good enough and you’ll be amazing even if there are some (big or small) bumps in the road.

I truly believe that if we’re all honest and we don’t buy into the bullsh*t that pregnancy is all glowy and blissful 100% of the time for everyone, if we take the time to listen to someone who is feeling confused or scared (or itchy!), then perhaps it won’t be so difficult and some of us might not feel so alone. Unconditional love and support has been what has got me through darker days/nights. We need to let people know they don’t have to be perfect just because it makes us feel better.

And, hey. If you have a terrifically blissful 9 months – good for you! I cannot express enough how much I am happy for you! You’re so lucky and so is your baby 🙂

Wish me luck for the next few weeks, lovely readers – we’re approaching crunch time!!

Beware: Pregnant Zombie.

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Wanna hear something scary? I only just realised that my baby is due NEXT MONTH. It’s different when you say 6 weeks – it sounds further away. But NEXT MONTH seems so immediate! Also, I’ve come to the very shocking realisation that I may never sleep again.

I spend my nights turning (very slowly and gingerly) from side to side like some kind of broken baby rotisserie (I hope he still cooks evenly haha). I have a spare pillow to support The Bump which has to move with me each time, making each turn very time consuming. I dream of having two pillows – one on each side – to save time and energy but I fear that my husband would fall out of the bed (actually no matter how much I love him that doesn’t sound so bad at this point – that’s how crazy I’m getting)!

Last night I even caught myself pushing my husband in the face, just smushing his nose a bit with my hand, because he got too close and I couldn’t roll over to my left side properly. He never said a word, the beautiful man.

I can no longer sleep on my back – the snoring wakes me up. Also, I can’t sleep on my stomach (for obvious reasons like the fact that it is now the size and shape of a large basketball). So, it’s all sides for me. My hips ache if I stay on one side for too long and my pelvis aches when I do have to shift my weight. Getting up to go to the toilet is like an episode of that show Monster Moves. Or the movie Frankenstein. In fact, perhaps I’m more like a zombie. Slow moving and slightly brain dead.

I am SO sexy right now.

On the bright side, I could power nap any of you under the table. Seriously, probably under a table would do just fine. I’d just need help getting up afterwards. It’s like the most blissful mini coma ever when you just close your eyes in the middle of the day and let go. Aah, ZzzZzzzZzz…

*snort*

Oops, where was I?

Yes, power naps. I’m allowed to have them. It helps to kill time when no-one will let you do anything anymore.

“Don’t lift that!”
“Don’t bend down!”
“Sit down! NOW! Not in that chair, the comfy one!”

People actually laugh at me when I offer to help with something. Soon I don’t think anyone will even allow me to drive. My bump almost touches the steering wheel. I say, just let the bump learn how to drive 17 years early. Can’t ever be too prepared in life. If he can reach the steering wheel already, why not?

You would think all this pampering would be really nice (well it is sometimes), but it gets a bit boring! I suppose I should do what people say and milk it for all it’s worth. Soon I’ll be so busy that my head will spin off and the world as I know it will forever be different. WHOA. Blowing. My. Mind.

What life changing experiences have you been through lately?