I am a mom of two boys aged 3 years old and a teeny weeny preemie of 4 weeks old. I have my masters in food science and technology but have been a stay at home mom since my first son was born.
They say no two pregnancies are the same, and boy am I living testament to that statement. After suffering a miscarriage and falling pregnant almost immediately after (God willing), my first pregnancy was the type of pregnancy where you are just so happy to be pregnant and you give into every craving and end up piling on a lot more weight than you should. Aside from Preeclampsia towards the end I had no unusual complications, so all in all a pretty smooth pregnancy with a lot of energy. I think in your first pregnancy you want so bad to be “normal”, at-least I was that way. I was doing my masters full time and was in the lab all day and night and drove till the day I popped. I even had a personal trainer for awhile. The nausea was just that, nausea, all day everyday for the first trimester and I tried every trick in the book, keeping salted crackers in my campus bag and drinking ginger beer and even those horrid ginger lollipops.
After the first trimester my appetite grew, and I got that feeling people talk about where you appreciate every morsel of food and your taste buds explode. I really believed I could be some type of food critic however my critique would be so biased because I loved and appreciated food in every sense. So an approximately 20kg later I delivered a healthy Baby boy naturally with no pain relief at 37 weeks. No words can explain the sense of accomplishment you feel having delivered a baby with no drugs. Nothing compares. I was down for motherhood. Breastfeeding was such a breeze with a big baby, it was an amazing experience that I managed to accomplish 19 months. I never felt any discomfort or issues with breastfeeding.
I fed on demand and all those natural mama instincts kicked in. I checked the crib every five min to see if he was breathing , I stayed awake all night to smell his sweet smell and everything was dandy. Easy baby, no fuss except for reflux but it was all good...
Onto pregnancy no 2..
After a few bleeding scares my doctor relates I have a “low lying placenta” at my first scan and I’m just sobbing hearing the baby’s heart beat so of course I’m not paying any attention. So apparently many people have low Lying placentas and they move as the baby grows, nothing to be concerned about. Alas, my concerns are more about how hard being pregnant with a raging toddler is, there’s no sleep when you want to sleep and no one feels sorry for you like they do in your first pregnancy. Even your husband forgets to treat you like you’re so delicate hahaha. Older people don’t even bat an eyelid if you carry “heavy things” because of course your toddler wants to be carried all day so you have permanent back ache and you didn’t have an epidural in your first pregnancy so you wouldn’t end up with back ache hahaha (jokes on me).
So you power through, power through brushing teeth and gagging whilst your toddler questions what on earth you are doing and thinks it’s a game. You power through not sleeping when that pregnancy exhaustion hits at random moments and u can’t even Function and you beg your toddler to nap, you power through running after a toddler all day cos you’re a mama and that’s how we do. There’s no time to feel every pregnancy miracle and swoon over butterflies in your tummy, you out here just trying to avoid being kicked in your stomach and building a pillow fort around yourself from a toddler who sleeps like a drunk octopus.
Fast forward to several months in and the “low lying placenta” doesn’t seem to budge and I learn about Placenta Previa.. So here I am having to emotionally come to terms with a possible c section and I thought I knew what Labor and delivery was like so this time i was going to wing it. So, okay, bump in the road (literally), I mentally prepare myself for a c section. I think after having a natural and being in control (somewhat) it’s hard to give that thought up (especially if you’re a control freak) along with the fear of the unknown.
So it takes me a few months but after talking to a few c section mamas I’m assured that it’s not that bad and the tips for healing etc. I was just worried how I would deal with the healing process with such an active toddler. Eventually I came to terms with the situation because my options were limited to bleeding to death or a c section. (Dramatic I know).
Fast forward to my last trimester and my doc starts to explain different types of placenta Previas and said words like blood transfusions, bleeding, removing womb, not having kids again and saving the mother's life over the child’s. It was a moment where your heart starts beating so loud in your chest that you can’t even hear yourself think and everything was a blur. So now I have to come to terms with all of this. How does one mentally even prepare for these odds? Oh, and did I mention I am the world's worst over thinker and I have the need to critically analyze everything. So my Anxiety goes through the roof, and I’m just trying to come to terms with this mentally and obviously lashing out at everyone I love and crying inconsolably at awkward times and blaming my toddler for driving me mad.
Needless to say I am so exhausted all the time and everything hurts but I have to move on because my toddler still needs me. So here I am counting the weeks and every appointment being told more and more information and going for other scans to confirm the placenta isn’t budging and my doc schools me on the dangers of bleeding and the protocols for that situation. I hadn’t bled my entire pregnancy after the first trimester so I took that as a positive that maybe I won’t be one of those cases and it will all go smoothly.
At my 33 week mark i had some painful contractions during an episode of Suits which I made my husband pause a few times to get through the pain but I passed it off as having had a day where I over exerted myself. The following day I went into full nesting mode and had to pause a few times to breath through some horrid contractions. But I had so much pain and discomfort all the time and Braxton Hicks so I forgot what contractions felt like so I just carried on my day and went to put my toddler to bed in the evening as usual and I felt a gush (sorry if that’s a tad TMI).
Long story short there was blood everywhere, bucket loads. So I’m trying to be calm and not work my toddler up, my husband is faffing asking where’s my hospital bag etc (being the organized person I am thank heavens it was all packed including documents etc). Here I am trying to pack an overnight bag for my son to drop him off at my sisters for his First night away from me ever whilst holding back the tears and trying to explain to him that I’m going to take the baby out my tummy.
It was like a scene out of a movie, rushing to the hospital, everyone on standby, lying on a hospital bed, being poked and jabbed and nurses all around you doing different things and I just closed my eyes. Two hours later the drip kicked in and the labor stopped and we wait.. we wait for one whole week in hospital. Everytime contractions start the drip is readministered. My husband is working from the hospital, my son is staying with my sister and coming to visit me everyday so I can make him nap and it’s just the same thing everyday for a whole week trying to keep this bun in the oven for as long as we can and having steroid injections to develop his lungs in the event he has to be born early. A week later I had to be put under General anaesthetic and baby is delivered and has to be resuscitated and sent to NICU.
I wake up from the GA and I am in excruciating pain. I was prepared to have a spinal block like any other c section and be numb when I wake up. Boy was I not prepared for that feeling of being sliced open when I woke up. The time it took to be wheeled out of theater and for the morphine drip to kick in seemed like an eternity. So here I am, I can’t see my baby boy because he is in NICU and I can’t move so I half see a picture of him with one eye open high on drugs.
No words can explain that feeling of not being able to hold your child, wondering how he feels not being able to feel the touch of his mama or hear her voice. My heart goes out to all the NICU mamas out there who have to see their child like that for weeks. To see them with pads and wires on their fragile little body’s is so heartbreaking. But he was going to be okay and he was healthy and alive and so was I after being operated on internally to remove my placenta I had no extra bleeding and I was glad to be alive. We survived!!!!
Not being prepared for life with a preemie:
After being a first time mum you kind of know what to expect once your second baby comes. You know about sleepless nights, but you also know it doesn’t last forever. You know how to bath and change a baby and all those things you needed help with the first time around you’re confident you’ll be okay. After all Everyone keeps telling you second babies are easier.
Yeah right!!! Maybe for some.. but having a preemie as you all would know is the biggest challenge when it comes to breastfeeding, they struggle to latch and when they finally do they fall asleep and have to be woken up constantly to be fed or they just sleep all day and cry all night. From breastfeeding to bottle feeding to colic and postpartum depression, I guess I should have done my research but nothing prepares you for a preemie and what you go through thereafter. I guess Feeling like a failure as a mom is possibly one of the worst feelings.
Not knowing what to do with this fragile little human and trying to recover from a major op whilst tending to a toddler who demands attention all by yourself. Needless to say I know it will get easier and what may seem like the worst test in the world to me is not even close to what some of you other mamas have been through.
The most important thing I tell myself on the daily is I am so lucky to have a healthy baby and to be healthy myself to take care of him. Here’s to new beginnings...
Guest Blogger: HE
Image source: Happiest Baby