I wasn’t one of those ‘glowing’ pregnant mums. I didn’t have the perfect pregnancy. I am cynical at the best of times but add 6 months of severe nausea, vomiting, sleepless nights, mood swings, bad skin… Not to mention watching my size 8 body get stretched and contorted beyond recognition- a blight that remains, I was struggling to ‘keep my eye on the prize’.
Like a lot of independent women these days I never wanted to admit gushingly and unashamedly how much I wanted to be a mum… Scrap that. Not a mum, a mummy.
I met my now husband at the tender age of 21. I had moved to London from Australia just 2 years earlier on a whim and was enjoying ‘city life’ with all the trimmings (but a portion of the money!)
I had found a job in an office.
I was reserved in telling people that my main ambition in life- my dream, did not conform to their career centred ideals.
I was surprised when by chance I met my husband and we shared all of the same ideas about what we wanted and how we would get it. 3 years later, surrounded by 100 family and friends we married in Phuket, Thailand.
Just 3 months after the wedding I was pregnant with our precious first child.
I worked up until my 35th week of pregnancy, catching the tube (underground metro) to work and back as long as I could, until it became too difficult, when my husband would drive me in. He was very supportive. We had a ‘routine’ when I felt the urge to throw up, he would know, lift his newspaper up while I held a doggy doo bag up behind so that no one would see me being sick. It was not a smooth ride to motherhood but by the last trimester the nausea alleviated and was replaced with a much more manageable heartburn/general whale like feeling.
At the 20 week scan we were eager to find out the sex of our baby. Not only are we the worst at being patient, but we can’t keep a secret, especially one as exciting as this!
I also had another reason for wanting to know. All of the yuckiness had made me lose sight of the big picture. I was feeling less and less like I was growing a beautiful baby inside me and more and more like I was carrying a life sucking parasite. I needed to envisage this baby and the life we would have.
The scan revealed to our DELIGHT- a baby girl!!! I immediately saw ballet shoes, chubby legs in fluffy bloomers, mary janes and handing down my childhood toy, beloved baby doll ‘Rebecca’. I was ecstatic!
6 weeks after taking maternity leave I had just finished eating a plundered ice-cream- stolen from my dear husband on the grounds that pregnant women get first dibs on everything, and stolen food always tastes better, and decided I should get to bed. I wanted to conserve my energy in case I would go into labour the next day.
21st April 2011
1.37am one final trip to the loo and my waters broke! Everything was text book. I was progressing relatively fast for a first labour and although the pain was intense, I went into a ‘zone’ and laboured at home in the bath until I felt I couldn’t stay any longer.
We had planned everything for a drug free birth at a local midwife run unit, attached to St Mary’s in Paddington. 5.04am – The first trip found that I was only 2-3cm dilated. Not in active labour….GUTTED was my initial emotion, but I somehow found the strength to get back in the car and go home.
I made a beeline for the bath and continued to let the warm water do it’s magic. It took the edge off and with every contraction I envisaged our baby girl getting closer and closer to making her appearance.
I knew if I didn’t leave, I would require a forklift to get out of the house. With every step towards the door a contraction would floor me.
I had my husband stop the car at least 20 times on the short 7 minute journey to the hospital.
I walked into the birthing unit and told my husband – ok….growled at my husband ‘they.will.not.send.me.home… DO YOU HEAR ME?!’
He knew I meant business but luckily I was almost 6cm! Hoorah!!!
My midwife’s strong Kiwi accent brought me re-assurance. She was kind and not harsh as I had feared. When i told her it hurt, she didn’t bark at me to suck it up, she said ‘I know darling, it’s yucky isn’t it?’ Thus empowering me.
I intended to give birth in the birthing pool but after rapidly becoming fully dilated, and pushing for over 3 hours I could see the concern on her face. She suggested the water was too effective- it was dulling my contractions making it harder for me to push. I don’t know how i did it but I climbed out of the pool and draped myself over the ottoman. She hit a button on the wall and another midwife came in to help welcome our daughter into the world. My husband was there and constantly offering words of encouragement. I found out later that he was leaving to room not to go wet the facecloth for me but to have a little cry.
Although he wouldn’t like to admit it (and possibly go gargle some chainsaws to feel manly again after reading this), I find this the most touching of all.
At 11.07am on the 21st April 2011 we welcomed Ariana Rose into the world…. All 10.5 pound of her.
I cried with tears of relief and joy. It was surreal. I still to this day feel like a bit of an imposter posing as a mum…is she really our daughter? Did we really make that? To say that I am a proud mummy is somewhat of an understatement. Anyone who has seen my facebook profile will see that it is unashamedly littered with mumaganda. Not only is she beautiful but did you know she’s a genius? But in all seriousness, it hasn’t been an easy journey.
She is the fussiest of fussy eaters. She’s stubborn and can throw a strop to rival grumpy cat.
I have lost many so called friends for reasons I still don’t know. Many I put down to just not having a clue (or desire) to enter the daunting family world.
We had no support from family as they all live on the other side of the world.
It can be isolating
It can be thankless.
It can be monotonous (selling it aren’t I?) LOL
It’s a cliché but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
And maybe this is taking all the glory but I have to take some since her dad’s genes won out in the looks department, but I think I could climb mount everest, be an Olympian, a heart surgeon, a rocket scientist, queen of the world- and nothing would amount to my greatest achievement of all.
Our beautiful Ariana.
Many parents you speak to will probably say the same thing shortly after the birth of their precious first child-
‘I always wanted 2 or 3! He wanted a football team- we’re considering just the one now….who knew it was this hard?’
But after a few months when the sleepless nights and labour pains become a distant memory most people have a change of heart.
For me, a tumultuous pregnancy and a traumatic experience directly after the birth of our daughter means it has taken me 2 years (and 1 month and 20 days and 4 hours) to take my head out of the sand and address one of the questions that has been weighing on my heart and mind… When is the right time to have another baby?
I have caught myself sharply rebuffing the seemingly harmless question by well meaning friends and family.
‘One’s enough for now!’ I would joke.
‘She’s still just a baby!’ Or the more vague ‘we’ll wait and see’.
But now it’s more than their prying that bothers me- the fact that I no longer have the excuse that our daughter is a baby and the pang that says- wasn’t that just a dream? Who could be so lucky?
It’s that fact that my head still says ‘NO!! No no nooooo!!’ But my heart says ‘Yes! Go on! You know you want to! ;-)’
Not only do I feel I am justifying my choices to others, I am not even sure I know what I want. I no longer have the excuse that she is still just a baby, the pressure to fit into one of the ‘camps’ also seems tempting. No one wants to feel left behind when all their peers are sharing the same experiences- especially when those with parenthood in common are in short supply!
There is a debate going on in my mind.
I believe strongly that bringing a child into the world is not something a responsible adult takes lightly.
I know there is no such thing as the perfect parent, but i still want to do my best.
At first there’s the guilt- am i I depriving our daughter of a sibling?Is she missing out? Am I being selfish? Will I love number 2 as much?
Are we ready? Can we afford it?
But i’m not done drinking wine and eating yummy food without the urge to puke! Will my stomach EVER look normal again? Am i capable of sleepless nights again without losing my sanity and add a toddler into the mix? How will she cope when she’s used to having all of our attention? Are we even able to get pregnant again? Will it kill our relationship? I’m not getting any younger…
And in the green corner-
But they are so cute and beautiful an precious and I want one…
Both equally compelling arguments in my book!