Of Buns in Ovens….

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I have always looked forward to having a second baby. Pregnancy is supposed to be a wonderful time in a woman’s life as her body nurtures new life and prepares to create a miracle of life from tiny cells. The actual experience is varied from woman to woman with some having a relatively easy time and others suffering the extremes of hormonal imbalances and body changes.

My first pregnancy passed in a blur with barely a recollection of the trimester milestones and changes in my body as my son grew. I always felt like I didn’t truly enjoy the pregnancy as I was struggling with so much turmoil in my life and the expectancy of new life only confounded it further. It wasn’t until I took my son home with me that the miracle and wonder of his creation and birth really truly hit me and I began to appreciate every mother and what she has to go through to experience the blessing of nurturing.

I therefore vowed to myself that my next pregnancy would take place on my terms, when I was good and ready and when I didn’t have too much going on in my life (as if that is even possible!). Best laid plans and all that! So I took my time, ensured that things were more or less in place in my life and decided, mid last year, that I was finally ready to take the plunge – Seven whole years later! In case you’re shaking your head or laughing at me and my naiveté, in my defense, I’m a bit of a control freak and I figured I needed some control over this particular pregnancy.

It came as no surprise when the test turned positive and there were no awkward conversations with the dreaded “we need to talk” phrase that turns most men into stone! It actually felt like a bit of an anti-climax – perhaps I was expecting drum rolls or something dramatic. The first trimester went by like a dream, much like what I had planned. I was lucky enough to experience zero morning (or any other time of the day for that matter) sickness and I didn’t even bother to see my gynecologist till I was ten weeks along. After all, I was now a seasoned expectant mother. The scan was predictable and my first peep at my little bun in the oven went exactly as planned.

So there I was, very pleased with myself and beautifully glowing with just the tiniest bump showing and I was the picture perfect mum-to-be. Nothing could possibly go wrong; after all I had planned this perfectly. Boy was I wrong! At exactly this point, life decided to do what it does best – laugh in the face of my plans. Shortly into my second trimester, I suddenly developed the worst case of acid reflux and heart burn known to humanity, the craziest mood swings and a deep aversion for social skills. I suddenly could not stand to be around anyone – people literally drove me crazy.

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Meanwhile I was unable to sleep thanks to my displaced digestive system and every night was a choice between eating and sleeping! No antacid could sort me out and the only choice was to sleep with my upper body elevated, like patients do in hospitals. I have no clue why doctors would think that patients can possibly get any rest; honestly sleeping in an elevated position on your back is the equivalent of having a nightmare while you’re wide awake. So combine sleep deprivation, mood swings, a non-existent appetite and trying to keep my stomach acids where they belonged and I was basically a walking time bomb with a live fuse!

Suddenly my pregnancy had gone from being wonderful to my worst nightmare in the blink of an eye. I largely kept to myself and the few people who were unfortunate enough to cross my path deeply regret it to this day. I honestly did not like what I saw when I looked in the mirror and I am not referring to my physical state. I slowly realized that I could allow my condition to take over my life (for the next few months anyway) or I could do something about it. I had never been one of those people who believe that being pregnant is an excuse to get away with anything and I wasn’t about to start now.

With no small amount of difficulty I started to make a conscious effort to revert to my usual self. I made the effort to smile at people even when I didn’t feel like it. I ensured that I had my dinner as early as humanely possible to increase my chances of sleeping at night. Slowly by slowly I started to feel better about being pregnant and my energy levels gradually improved. I stopped making excuses and started taking action on things that I wanted to do. Including writing again which had become a casualty of my previously constant foul mood. I resumed my walking and my swimming. Most importantly I began to feel like myself again and I stopped blaming my (poor) pregnancy for all my woes.

What did I learn from all this? I will let you all know once I have my baby in another 3 months! :-)….Seriously though, I figured that I really cannot control everything; I will plan and God will laugh. When you think about it, carrying a little human in your body for nine months is the most unnatural natural thing ever! It’s bizarre to say the least and could only have been created by God. So the best way to cope is simply to take each hour of every day as it comes and to try and keep in mind that you’re really not yourself for those nine months. And that this really isn’t an excuse to be the worst person in the world.

Clearly I’m still learning but here are some more tips. Exercise when and if you can. Get enough rest. Take your supplements. Calcium really sorted out my muscle aches. Eat small, regular meals. Have a great support system. Someone who understands what you’re going through and will put up with your constantly changing moods without blowing a fuse. Keep yourself occupied – an idle mind is the best way to end up focusing on how crappy you are feeling in those low moments. Vent often. It’s important to speak about your conflicting emotions, of course to someone who understands. Don’t bottle stuff up, no matter how trivial it may seem. As long as it’s a big deal to you, it’s important. Map your own way, don’t be afraid to make your own rules. Each pregnancy is unique and so is each respective experience. Take time to look after yourself, you are the most important person in this equation; it will not be this way for much longer, especially when the baby gets here. Don’t be too hard on yourself either – you are just human.

I’m now happily (most of the time) back to enjoying the journey. Even when things don’t seem so easy I always remind myself that in this particular case, the end will truly justify the means. So come what may, I will take it in stride because when all is said and done, everything eventually comes to pass.

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FOR ALL THE MUMS OUT THERE…

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Last week I was having a chat with my sister who recently got pregnant with her first baby. She was narrating an experience she had had with some ladies at a function. You know the typical ones where all the men segregate together and the ladies are left to themselves? So as they chatted, the topic (inevitably) turned to babies, motherhood and pregnancy. The interesting thing, or should I say shocking, was that none of them had anything positive to say about the entire experience. Now my sister found this very alarming, to say the least, considering that they all had more than one child. At some point, she couldn’t take the negativity any longer and gave them a piece of her mind. Of course they castigated her (as expected) and told her that her lack of experience was distorting her opinion and that she should wait till she got her baby to know just how “bad it was”. At this point, she decided that the men were better company and moved away from what she termed as “negative energy”.

Which brings us to our chat; she wanted to know if it was really as bad as it was being made out to be and why someone like me still remained positive about pregnancy despite having gone through what can only be described as a horror story in my pregnancies. (Yes there was more than one; story for another day). My response was my standard one; that some people will always choose to see the negative side of anything; it takes a lot of energy to always try and see the positive side. Which a lot of people do not have the time, nor energy for. It’s actually a lot easier to be negative.

To be honest, though, I have a much more profound perspective when it comes to parenting. I am a single mum, and I can honestly say that without my son, my life wouldn’t have that much meaning. Despite everything I went through to have him, I wouldn’t change a single thing. Because there is no greater blessing in my life than my son. I would give my life for him. I look at him every day and thank God for giving me the honor of raising him.

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You see, children belong to God. A mother is accorded a special, divine responsibility to care for one of God’s children. How do I know this? Because in all my wildest dreams and fantasies, I could not have fathomed how this tiny being, so adorable, so innocent, so perfect, so loyal, so pure (I could go on and on)….could possibly have been my own creation. I’m obviously just a humble guardian; to take care of him till he can stand on his own two feet. Another reason I know this? He came laden with God given blessings! A lot of struggling mothers can relate to this; you will always somehow manage to feed, clothe your child no matter what your circumstances. It’s said that God will never give you what you cannot handle, and this is especially true for children. 

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So, when I hear mothers being all negative about pregnancy, children and parenting in general, it breaks my heart. Yes it’s not easy at all. It is however, the greatest blessing that will ever be bestowed on you in your entire life. Not your career, not your fancy house, not your spouse, not your annual holiday; Your Child is the greatest blessing. Straight from God.

You may have had a difficult pregnancy. Why focus on it? Focus on the amazing tiny being that resulted. Focus on the amazing milestones – opening his eyes, learning to crawl and walk, his first words, the first time he said “I love you mummy”, his first day at school, his first love, and how you will always be his mum no matter what. That’s what I choose to focus on. Because my son changed my life. For the better.

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Always speak positive of your child no matter where you are or who you are with. Your children need unconditional love. They need affirmation and encouragement. They need their parents’ counsel. Always appreciate your child; do not take them for granted. Discipline them in love when they do wrong and celebrate them when they do good.

And the next time someone starting out on the journey asks for your counsel, choose to give the full side of the story. That yes, it has its ups and downs. That yes, child birth is painful. That yes, your child will challenge you on a daily basis. That ultimately, all things considered, it will be the greatest and best experience in the world, filled with daily blessings. That your child will be the best thing that will ever happen to you.

Happy Mother’s Day! 

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