Due date

If things had gone to plan, Cameron would only have been making his appearance sometime around today. It’s quite strange for me to consider this alternative – another month of pregnancy, possibly a natural birth as opposed to the C-section I had, only now starting with the daunting task of caring for a newborn. These post-post-partum reflections have been simmering in my mind over the last weeks, but this auspicious date has brought them all to the fore and now they are demanding some serious attention.

An abrupt ending

I have had moments over the last month when I’ve missed being pregnant. There are two reasons for this: firstly I never got to the really uncomfortable stage so was still enjoying it; and secondly, my pregnancy ended so abruptly that at times I’ve felt a bit short changed. But in those moments I remind myself that there wasn’t much awaiting me in that last month except a deeper understanding of what it feels like to be a beached whale. That quite effectively shatters those rose-tinted glasses.

An unplanned route of arrival

Having my stitches taken out 10 days after Cameron was born acted as some sort of trigger and I started having these flashbacks to the C-section. My plan had been to have a natural birth, but I remained open to the idea of a caesarean if necessary. When crunch time came, it was really a very simple decision to go under the knife, but once it was all over I realised that during all my preparation I never actually thought it would become necessary for me to go that route. This left me in the very odd position of trying to mentally prepare myself for something that had already happened.

Then of course there was dealing with the actual op. At the time there was so much going on that I zoned out and just did what needed to be done. But it’s a stressful procedure and at some point that suppressed emotion had to be dealt with. I remember sitting in the theatre waiting for the spinal block with my legs shaking like the last leaves of autumn. Once that had been administered it was utterly bizarre not being able to feel more than half of my body and at times I had to fight down a sense of panic. While the op was actually taking place, I couldn’t feel specific things, but I could feel general tugging and pulling. I tried not to think about what they were doing, but when the bed bounced around beneath me it was hard not to imagine what was happening. And then that magical moment arrived when Cameron was born. But after that brief island of relief and joy, all attention switched to him and I was left feeling like a slab of redundant meat.

Dealing with all of these feelings after the event resulted in me reacting very negatively towards my scar for the first few days after the stitches were removed. Combined with my flabby tum, leaky breasts and general state of tiredness, I had never felt more unattractive in my entire life. (Reassuringly, my books all state that most women feel this way and that patience is the order of the day during recovery.)

I am sure that the natural birth process brings with it a myriad of other factors that play havoc with one’s state of mind post-delivery, so it’s hard to know which of these feelings I would have had to deal with anyway. I must also confess that when I look at the size of Cameron now (small as he still is), I am immensely relieved that he made his entrance when he did. Whichever way one does it – birthing a baby is no walk in the park. So in juxtaposition to my feelings on pregnancy, I am so grateful that the birth is behind me and this last month has left me feeling a lot more at peace with all that it entailed.

A head start

Last night Col and I had a braai while Cameron slept upstairs. When we look back on the last month it seems both incredibly short and unbelievably long. Caring for a newborn is a fairly routine and mundane process and provides ample opportunity for getting up to speed. (As an example, Cameron needs roughly eight nappy changes a day, which means we’ve already changed at least 176 nappies. One’s proficiency improves pretty quickly with that kind of repetition!) Having said that we are still experiencing new things every day, and the last month has had its own special brand of stress to deal with. As with the birth, we are glad that it’s behind us!

Having discussed all of this though, our overwhelming sense at the moment is one of gratitude. Arriving a month ahead of schedule seems to have done Cameron no harm. Despite its trauma, the caesarean went as well as it could have and we are actually a lot more positive about that route than we were before. I’ve recovered quickly from the op, the breastfeeding is going well and our boy is growing beautifully. Our family and friends have provided incredible support. We are privileged to have so many friends, that three weeks in there are still people waiting to meet our little man (and we’ve had visitors as often as we can manage). There is much to be thankful for. Yes there is indeed!

‘You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!’

Psalm 139:5-6 (NLT)

The week of the banana

At the beginning of every new week in my pregnancy, I check out my Baby Bump iPhone app to see how Speckle is doing. It gives me his approximate weight and length, and compares his size to a fruit so that I have something tangible to compare our ‘invisible’ little person to. I’ve really enjoyed this feature but it’s given Col a few problems. You see Colin isn’t a fruit and veg fan, so his basis for comparison is somewhat limited. Poppyseed (week 4), olive (week 9), prune (week 10) and small cantelope (week 20) were all met with utterly blank looks. So this morning when I announced that Speckle is the length of a banana, Col’s reaction was, ‘Finally! A fruit I understand.’

When I told this story at work, Michelle (our boss lady) suggested that Col should eat the relevant fruit for that week so he can appreciate its size. All my previous attempts to get him to expand his nutritional palate have failed – maybe the Speckle comparison will have more success?

Taking more time to think things through

The other day I learnt that a woman’s brain volume actually decreases while she’s expecting, which is one of the reasons why forgetfulness is a symptom of pregnancy. I can definitely see the effect of this lately – for one thing I couldn’t remember this interesting fact and had to go and look it up again! Alarmingly though, I do more than just forget. My thought process seems to have slowed down considerably and this has left me in a few sticky spots …

On a recent car trip, I needed to get rid of some stale chewing gum. Not having a tissue on hand I decided to throw it out the window. However, in the process of doing this I realised that it wasn’t good for the environment, started having second thoughts but couldn’t commit to a logical decision and ended up sticking the gum onto the window instead. I then had the ‘brilliant’ idea of rolling down the window and just plucking it off. The gum in question was of a particularly gooey consistency, so while I thought it would have hardened somewhat in the rushing air, it was in fact still mush and all I achieved was a delightful mess. At this point Martha, the friend I was sharing the back seat with, couldn’t contain herself anymore and burst out laughing. That got me started and it was a full minute before we could get a word out to explain the joke.

Martha, who has 11 children, is a goldmine of valuable information and taught me that peanut butter works wonders at removing chewing gum from places it shouldn’t be. So on the bright side, I’ve learnt a great tip for the future – that is of course assuming I can remember it!