My first Birth was not how I planned it, and that is ok.

My first Birth was not how I planned it, and that is ok.

For those of you who are about to have your first baby and you are having a C-Section, this might help you prepare for what it will be like.

For me, my first birth was filled with SO much joy and yet also so much frustration, disappointment and anger.

On August 3rd 2011 I became a mom for the first time. I always knew I wanted to be a mom. I was 30 when I had my first son, I thought I was ready, but I soon realised that I was not informed well enough about the whole experience. I so desperately wanted to have a natural birth and specifically chose a Doctor who was also pro-natural, as to not have to fight with a doctor about my choices.

At my 36 week check-up, my doctor told me that he is 99% sure that my baby’s head will get stuck and that I would need to have a C-section. I then, of course, burst into tears, because this is not what I wanted and had planned. I really wanted a natural birth. My doctor calmed me down and started explaining to me. He said that there are 4 ways of delivering a baby. The first being natural birth; this is the best/safest way to deliver a baby IF everything is in order. The second safest way is an elective cesarean as the doctor is in control of the situation. Next would be an induction, but he said he is not too fond of doing inductions, as they tend to end up in emergency caesareans. And lastly is an emergency cesarean. This is the riskiest. He said that if he induces me and baby becomes stuck or becomes distressed for any reason they have to do an emergency c-section.  After chatting to him about this I felt a bit better about the procedure but was still not happy.

Thinking back I should just have gone for a second option, but family members told me to just listen to the Doctor as he knew best. Unfortunately, I didn’t listen to my gut and decided to go with the C-section. I was very confused as so many people that I had spoken to who have has C-section complained about the pain afterward, one friend said she could barely pick up her baby. I knew that my husband had to work I would need to be able to do everything on my own. This was one of the many reasons why I didn’t want a C-section. I ended up going for the C-section, my husband had to travel during this time for work, so being able to plan around the c-section date, did help with my anxiety about everything that was going on.

The big day had arrived. We had to get up early; we had to “check in” at the hospital at 6am. I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything after 10pm the night before. We got to the hospital and we were taken to our room. The nurses told me to get unpacked and settled in. During the next couple of hours, nurses came to check my blood pressure and temperature. They also attached an ultrasound transducer to my abdomen to check my baby’s heartbeat. I thought I would be super hungry but I was so anxious that I could barely think of eating.

Next, the anesthetist came to introduce himself and he also had a bunch of medical questions and does his calculations.

My time in theater was booked for 11:30. At about 11:00 the nurses came to wheel me off closer to theater. They took my husband to get dressed in his scrubs. I now became very, very nervous. Suddenly it dawned on me. I am about to have major surgery while being awake. I wasn’t scared or anxious about becoming a mother; I was petrified at the thought of having this surgery. 

I saw my doctor and his assistant, I suddenly felt very calm. He always made me laugh. They helped me onto the “table”. I was now becoming nervous again. I wasn’t aware there would be so many people. The anesthetist came over and told me it was time to start. My heart started racing, I hate needles. Is it going to hurt? How big is the needle? Luckily he was awesome, he kept chatting to me and explaining everything he was doing. This helped calm me down. My doctor was also great at distracting me. I receive a spinal block not an epidural.

The anesthetist told me that he would be giving me a small shot to numb the area before he doesn’t the spinal block. I was so grateful to hear this; I almost kissed him, as I was most afraid of the needle going into my spine. He told me the shot would pinch/burn a bit, and it did, but it wasn’t too bad. He then told me that he is now going to do the spinal. He said it would feel “warm” as the liquid goes into my spinal fluids and starts spreading. A friend of mine said that for her it felt like water running down her back. I had both sensations. I felt the warmth of the anesthetics spreading but also the sensation of water running down my back. It is a very strange feeling.

Once he was done the nurses helped me to lie down on what kind of looks like a crucifix. They placed a screen up, just above my stomach. On my one arm they placed a blood pressure monitor, which will help the nurses keep track of your blood pressure. On the other hand, they place a drip, the anesthetist can control your pain relief with this. My husband was given a chair right by my head. 

One nurse inserted the catheter and another had to shave me a little bit more, I apparently didn’t do a good enough job. My doctor told me that he is just going to check a few things and then he will start. 5 min later his head pops over the screen again and he says “can you feel that?” and I say “No” Suddenly I could feel a lot of pushing and pulling and it is becoming uncomfortable, now this was the most bizarre feeling ever. Feeling but also not feeling.

Both the doctor and assistant were both sweating. I hear the assistant say to my doctor “wow its hard work assisting you today” Apparently my little boy was quite happy where he was and did not want to be taken out. As the doctor had him he turned around. The doctor had to take him out with forceps in the end. The poor little guy had quite a few scrapes and bruises.

I got to see and hold him for a few seconds, then they took him away. Just behind my husband the paediatrician examined him and cleaned him up a bit. He also sucked out the fluid in his lungs. Perfectly healthy, all we ever wished for.

Finally, I got to hold him again. But also not for too long before they told me that he had to go into incubation. I was confused but so happy, relieved that he was ok, so I didn’t think anything of it. I told my husband to go with him. The doctor started closing the wound pain. Once the doctor was done closing the wound, I was taken to recovery for a couple of minutes. I asked the nurses where my baby was and why I could not hold him. They said because he was a “prem” (he was born at 38 weeks, which to me was not prem) he had to go into the incubator. I was so confused. He was 3,62kg and healthy, why? I moaned at them and finally they brought him to me, by now it was 3 hours after he was born. I was so upset. I was only now able to let him latch. He latched and started drinking. The remainder of the day was spent with my husband and little man in the room

The next day, just after 6am, 2 nurses came to clean my wound, clean the bed (bare in mind you are bleeding and you haven’t moved since the surgery) The one nurse removed the catheter. It didn’t hurt at all, the first time going to the loo did burn like a bladder infection, but was soon over.

The nurses asked if they need to assist me to take a bath/shower. I said no I will manage on my own and I did. My doctor told me that if I want to have a quick recovery I need to get out of bed as soon as the catheter is out and walk around the room. After my shower I felt like a new person, ready for action. I walked to the nursery to get my baby.

The 2 remaining days I was in the hospital was so crap, I just wanted to go home. I would fall asleep with my baby next to me, only to wake up and find that he was gone. I kept walking to the nursery to get him. I asked them why they kept taking him and they said: “you need to rest”. Yet people are in an out of the room the whole time, the baby never bothered me, they did.

My whole experience the first time around was not what I had expected or wanted.
1) I wanted natural and was told I had to have a C-section. Once I started doing research for my original Mommy Says website I realised I should have just gone for a second opinion. When I met one of the founders of Origin Hospital at the Cape Town Mama Magic Baby expo in 2014 as well as a maternity nurse who spoke openly to me about how doctors bully mom’s into having C-sections, just because it is more convenient for them. I was shocked at some of the stories. I felt very upset with my doctor. Why promote yourself as being por-natural when you are actually not.
Now I did find out the day after I had my son, that my doctor had lost a patient a few weeks before. The mom insisted on having a natural birth even though he had advised her otherwise. There were complications and the mom didn’t make it. Was he being overly cautious with me? Were there in fact signs that we would have had complications? I don’t know.

2) The fact that Henri was taken from me and I was only able to let him latch 3 hours after birth. I am 100% sure that this is why I struggled with breast feeding with him. I was only able to breastfeed him for 3 months. And only once a day because my milk supply was so low.

3)Besides that 3 hour gap, the other reason I think we struggled was that the nurses were feeding him NAN, without me knowing about it.
I was so upset. I walked into the nursery. Saw my baby listed on a board and next to his name it said NAN and then 10ml or 20ml. I asked them about it and they said it was “top up feeds” I mean, were they not suppose to discuss this with me?

So all in all this first birth was not ideal. But in all honesty, I have made my peace with it. For a very long time, I felt so guilty. I felt that I had failed my boy. I didn’t do what was best for him. I felt ashamed that I didn’t “give birth” to him. I felt like a failure. But you know what. He is a strong, healthy, kind, loving, happy 8year old boy. And that is all that matters. No, I did not “birth” him. No, I did not breastfeed him till 2 as I did with his brother. But he is perfect, in every way.

Social media break

Social media break

With everything that is happening in our country and all over the world, I decided to take a break from Social Media. I mean honestly, every second post on my FB feed is about death, rape, brutal murder, missing kids, robberies etc etc etc. I can’t anymore. I have enough going on in my life as it is and feel so stressed out. It sometimes feel like the walls are closing in and I just needed to step back, take a break and breath. So the last 2 weeks I have taken a bit of a break. 

 Last year, while my boys were in school, as usual things were stressful and there was so much drama, but I mean “kinder kak” (high school drama) at school and I lost it on a school group because of it. I realised then I needed less drama/stress in my life.

 I have had a few mild panic attacks and one major one, 4 years ago. My husband and I thought I was having a heart attack and he raced me to the ER. I have to say it is quite scary. It felt like someone grabbed a hold of my heart, squeezed it and then started shaking it around. I started feeling like this 2 weeks ago again. Like someone was sitting on my chest and I couldn’t breath, that is when I decided to just step back. Probably also not the best time to be watching Mind Hunters and 13 Reasons why. 

 This year, with the kids being at home I promised myself NO DRAMA. I tend to overthink things and worry about everything. I wanted to have this year to spend time with my boys, making memories. Spend quality time, but it is September and I feel like we have had zero quality time together and I feel like time is running out and I am behind on work that I have to do with the boys. I worry about finances, I worry about health. I worry about the kids education, I worry about getting my business off the ground and start bringing in money, I worry about our safety. I do not want to read the news or go on FB anymore, it is just too depressing. I am completely behind #enoughisenough, because something has to be done, but for my own sanity, I just needed a break.

My biggest fear is not whether or not I am next but am I doing a good job raising these 2 boys. Am I teaching them the right things? I lie at night questioning everything I did during the day, could I have done better? How did what I said and did affect the boys in the long run? So all of this #menaretrash scares the shit out of me. Believe me I have had my fair share of trash men in my life, more often than not, so I know what I do not want my boys to be. I have been worried about how these boys will be when they are grown up, since the first day I found out they were boys, but these last few weeks have just made me worry about it more. 

I am teaching them to respect everyone equally, with kindness, no matter their race, sex or bank balance. I teach them to stop when someone says stop, no matter what the situation. I am teaching them to respect their friends personal space, how to use their words to express how they feel instead of getting physical (the 2 brothers hit and push each other when they get frustrated)

 But yes, men, even though they are not all rapists, they have all at some point in their life objectified a woman, cat called a pretty girl on the street, made a girl feel uncomfortable with a comment. So how do we stop this?  We hold these young men in our hands, our boys are the futures men. It starts with us.

Every now and again I read the news and then immediately after reading certain articles I remember why I stopped reading the news. Enough is enough, but will it ever really change? I mean this has been going on for decades. Men raping women, people being attacked and killed. Sure it is getting worse, but this is nothing new. How do we stop it, how do we make things change? We hold these young men in our hands, our boys are the men of the future. It starts with us.

Three years ago I felt the same as I do now, overwhelmed with everything going on. I had seen 2 videos from 2 different countries where a pregnant woman goes to a hospital asking for help and both are told to leave. It just made me wonder. Do we really care so little about each other? Why is there so much hate and negativity in the world? Even doctors, who swore an oath to save lives don’t give a shit anymore. I mean honestly. How do you turn you back on a heavily pregnant woman who comes to you begging for help and because she doesn’t have medical aid she is refused help. 

The one video I saw was of a heavily pregnant lady in the Philippines, who was homeless and asked for help. They sent her away, and right outside the hospital where she gave birth to her little baby. On the Pavement OUTSIDE the hospital.

The other video was so disturbing it still haunts me.

This happened in Cameroon. A pregnant mom of twins and a relative went to the hospital because the pregnant mom became ill. The staff at the hospital sent her away and she died outside the hospital. The family member that was with her went to buy a razor blade and a bunch of other supplies and cut open the mom in the hope of saving the twins lives. The babies were alive when she got them out, but due to not getting any medical attention, they both passed away minutes after being born.

This video is so disturbing to me, for so many reasons.
1. How, as a Doctor can you send this woman away? Ok fine, you can’t take her into the hospital because who is going to pay for it. But are you so dead inside that you have no urge to see if you can help her in some other way? You want to tell me there was not one Nurse or Doctor in that hospital that could have just taken a look at her, given her a minute of their time?

2. This poor relative, you can see afterward how devastated she is. She just lost a loved one. Not just that, she had to cut her open to try and save the babies. This poor woman will never be the same.

3. The hordes of bystanders, most of which are recording the event on their phones are all just standing there…. WTF !!! HELP the woman. What is wrong with people? 

I honestly don’t know what is going to happen with our world if this is how we continue. What kind of world will my child grow up in? With every post about a child that has gone missing, or a missing person found dead, babies being raped, women being attacked, I cry for my children’s future.

We need to do more. The future is in our hands. If you see wrong being done, speak up, stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. If you see someone having a bad day, be kind even if it means just a few kind words. Stop judging and rather ask how you can help. Do some good, start in your family, then the street you live in, then pay it forward to your community. Let’s rather spread love than hate than negativity. I need to believe that we can do it, that we can break this cycle, for the sake of my boys.

I grew up very privileged

I grew up very privileged

I grew up very privileged, but not for the reason you think.
I didn’t grow up with the best and latest gadgets, toys and clothing.
I didn’t get everything I wanted.
I wasn’t able to take dance classes, all though I SO desperately wanted to.
I only saw my dad once every 2 or 3 years for a week at most.
I didn’t go on family vacations every year.
I didn’t have a big birthday party every year, in fact, I only had 2 growing up.

But I was so privileged. Why do you ask?

From the age of 3, it was always just my mom and I. The first 3 years of my life was spent living both in SA and the UK, my dad played club rugby in the UK, we had a relatively good live.

But when my parents got divorced, my mom and I moved back to South Africa. We lived with my grandparents for a while when my mom and dad just got divorced. I would only, at 16 learn why we moved out and got our own place, this just opened my eyes to what a strong woman my mother was.  She literally gave up everything for me. Her mother had told her, “Don’t think you will go out and have fun while I raise YOUR child” So what did my mother do? She focused on me/us. She lost all her friends, never remarried

My mom worked hard, she almost never took days off, she rather took payment instead of an off day as she didn’t make that much money. She also didn’t receive much maintenance from my dad, some months she didn’t even receive anything.

She worked weekends and holidays, which meant I spent a lot of time on my own. We lived month by month. There was never any money left over for special treats or holidays. We had just enough for the important things. But you know what, if I look back I don’t remember how I begged my mom to let me go for dance classes. I remember the days when she had a day off work. She would spend all her time with me. We would play tennis, Rummy, Trivial Pursuit, watch movies, chat and giggle together. 

Writing this makes me very emotional. Until I was 19 it was just my mom and me, we did anything together. We were always laughing, that is what I remember the most. Not the hard times, but all the laughs. My friends loved her, she was the cool mom. She would fetch us from school and play Bump or Linkin Park.

During Matric she told me that I needed to get out and see the world and encouraged me to go to Europe for a year. So a week after my 19th birthday I was off. The first few hours on the plane I could not control myself, I was sobbing uncontrollably. Here I was a naive small town girl from the Free State off into the world. I was scared sh!tless. How am I going to do this without her?

But guess what, I surprised myself, my mother raised me in such a way that even though I spent my first weekend in Germany vomiting my lungs out and feeling terribly sorry for myself, wanting to go home. I picked myself up and decided I can do this. I am strong. Out of all the girls from the Au-pair agency, with whom I went to Germany with, I was only one of the 2 who didn’t swap families throughout the year.

If you weren’t happy with the family you were placed with, you could change families, you would, however, lose your deposit, my mom had taken out a loan to pay for me to get to Europe.

I was not happy with the family I was placed with. The kids were amazing, but the dad made sexual passes at me and they both treated me like a servant. But again I told myself I could do this, I would not change families because I could not afford to lose the deposit. It was not all bad, but I realised I was stronger than I thought. I did not think I would last 2 months, that I would be too homesick. But I did it.

In Feb 2010 my mom celebrated with us when we got married. In May my mom very suddenly passed away from an Aneurysm. One day she was fine, the next she was in hospital in a coma and then at about 6 am on 19 May I was making coffee, getting ready to go to the hospital to see my mom, when my husband walks into the kitchen to tell me that the hospital phoned. I thought it was good news, she had woken up. But no, she had passed. I felt like someone stabbed me in the heart and stomach. I wanted to throw up, I couldn’t feel my legs anymore. This was the worst moment of my life.  

I literally couldn’t get myself to stop crying. My husband was a huge help during this time, I do not think I could have done it without him.

We lived in Durban at that time, one of my best friends from Johannesburg flew down to be with me the next day. She helped me clear out my mom’s apartment and I have to say I felt utter sadness and anger until my friend said to me, “You know what, she is in a better place, she can rest now, she knew you had a husband who would be there for you, and it was just the right time. She is at peace.”

It was as if a wave of relief came over me. I felt I could breathe again,  I realised she was right. My mom had given up so much, she had worked so hard her whole life and now she could rest. I was still terribly sad and to this day I think of her every day and my heart still breaks, but I am not angry anymore.

Having two of my oldest and closest friends with me just after my mom passed away made me realise that I was still very privileged. Besides my mother, I had a group of strong, powerful women in my life and they had been with me since Primary school.

We were not the popular girls in school, we were not in the first Hockey team or won beauty competitions, we all came from broken homes, but we were there for each other and together we were unstoppable. Out of the 6 close friends I had during Primary and High School only 2 came from a home where there were 2 parents. One was adopted and 2 were in the Orphanage. We were there for each other every day, through thick and thin.

The way I grew up made me appreciate the important things in life like spending time with my mom on her off days. I was taught from a very early age to be independent and how to work with money and also that you don’t need to have the best of everything to be happy. My mother would donate old clothes and give food to beggars, even though we had very little to give.  My mother never looked down on anyone.

I grew up very privileged because I grew up with a SUPERWOMAN. My mother taught me compassion, she taught me how to treat people. She always said “treat people the way you would want them to treat you” To this day I can honestly say that I don’t treat people differently just because of their race, age, gender, sexuality or bank balance.

I grew up privileged because I was surrounded by other amazing SUPER WOMEN. My friends. 

I honestly believe I grew up very privileged, not because of what I had, but because of whom I grew up with. Those women in my life, some of whom  are still my closest friends have made me who I am today. All of them have been through rough times and I have not only learned from their stories but they stood by me through my darkest times.

Thank you, ladies, I love you all so very much.

Women have the ability to empower, but we get blinded by envy and judgment most of the time. Just imagine if we put pettiness aside. We could literally change the world.