The journey around the birth of my second baby has been so different to my experience with my first baby. From the start of pregnancy right up until now that my boy is now 3 weeks old. Click here to read about my first birth experience. The pregnancy was great, minus except of course the first trimester “morning” sickness. Other than that I hardly gained weight except for my tummy. All the really bad 3rd trimester symptoms I had the first round were basically non-existent in comparison to my first pregnancy. It was so nice to be able to enjoy my pregnancy and still be able to function as a person!
I was starting to get worried towards the end as I worked all the way up until 4pm on the 19th December and my c-section was booked for the 20th! Stupid or brave? A bit of both I suppose, certainly optimistic! As the time got closer I started to get very panicked about whether I would cope, but in the end, although I did get very tired and took strain, it all went very well.
I did start thinking that it would be nice to be in a normal job and be able to take off a few months maternity leave to rest a bit before the big day and to have a decent amount of time off with my boy when he arrived. Reality is that I have my own business so I worked until the day before birth and took 2 weeks off before opening my business again.
The long weekend before the c-section I spent with my 2 yr old girl. I was feeling quite emotional that weekend, it was the last weekend that my daughter would be an only child and I felt so sad that she would not be able to get so much time and attention in future. I decided to pack in as much one on one time as I could with her and take her out and spoil her. In the week leading up to the birth I also spent as much time as I could with her in the early evening, one of her favourite things to do is get in the small blow up pool, especially if I got in with her. It being so hot and my feet being so swollen this was no problem for me.
On the Monday before I gave birth we had a bit of an incident where she decided to run down the road thinking it was very funny and I was already in my tiny bikini (being too fat to fit into my full piece) and I had to run full speed down the road to catch her. I am not sure what my neighbours thought of me running down the road in a teeny little bikini, 9 months pregnant shouting at my daughter to stop! It must have looked very funny to anyone that saw!
I was also so worried about how my daughter would adapt to the new addition, I had nightmare visions of her hitting the new baby or something like that. Another huge fear of mine is that I would not love the new baby like I love my daughter and that I wouldn’t be able to bond well. I just couldn’t see how another baby could compare to my perfect, beautiful little girl. It was so strange to have the day booked and planned and driving to the hospital in a calm state (ie not in labour and leaking water while hubby drives me the 150kms from Saldanha to Cape Town).
We arrived in the hospital and it almost felt like arriving at a hotel with my bags. We booked in at reception and got shown to the maternity ward. It was all so organised and calm! In my previous pregnancy my waters broke at home in Saldanha and we drove to Cape Town with my labour starting. My planned home birth didn’t go as planned at all. You can read all about that here. After 42 hours labour with no pain killers and a posterior baby we went to the hospital for an emergency c-section. I can barely remember what happened at the hospital, besides being totally exhausted and in pain and everything happening so fast. I was just whisked in and next thing I had my baby on my chest!
This time I got to choose which bed I wanted, take my bags to my room, book my meals for the day, fill in all the required paperwork and chat to the nurses. After a while I was given my hospital gown and was wheeled to theatre where the anaesthetist came to meet me and chat. Then the nurses and paediatrician also arrived to meet me before I was calmly wheeled in. They put my bed next to the operating table and told me to move across. This is not so easy when you are the size of a whale, not wearing anything under the silly gown and have your ass sticking out the back! I was about to try and do it gracefully without flashing anything and then remembered that from now on really nothing is private, is it? So I just climbed over with my bare bum sticking in the air.
I was not very nervous about the spinal which was to come, because the last time I felt nothing at all. I suppose when you are in labour for 42 hours with no pain relief something like a spinal won’t hurt at all. Well this time it was not a very pleasant affair at all. I wouldn’t say it was unbearable but it was far from painless! Having the catheter put in was another violation of privacy where my legs were wide open for all to see while the nurse inserted the catheter. Once again I don’t remember this being so embarrassing the last time and I also put that down to the fact I just didn’t care about anything other than getting pain relief and getting the baby out as fast as possible.
The operation was also much worse in that I was suddenly scared that I would feel pain when they started but it was fine. I just hate that feeling of being able to feel exactly what they are doing. You can feel everything, each little tug, pull and cut … but no pain. The op also lasted a lot longer than before I am sure. Apparently the second one is worse because they have to cut through scar tissue. I also opted to have my tubes cut, because although I am happy with my 2 babies and wouldn’t change anything for the world, falling pregnant first on the pill and then falling pregnant again when I supposed to have the IUD was not exactly part of the plan. Apparently IUD’s fall out regularly. Not something I knew about when they put it in and not something I was told about. As far as I was concerned it was quite a safe option! I have now received plenty enough gifts from God and don’t want any more. This extra procedure might also have added on some time.
When they pulled my little boy from my body I was overwhelmed by emotion and burst into tears. I can’t imagine now why I would think I might not be able to bond or that he would not live up to my daughter. He is just perfect, a wonderful little being that I loved with all my heart the second I saw him. The only way I can describe it is that you grow another heart.
He is so different from my daughter – she burst into this world like a wild tiger and made herself known … and still does! She is full of life and a vibrant, busy little thing. I think of her as my little Gummibear (on speed!). My little boy is a quiet, calm soul and I could see it immediately. The second they gave him to me he just quietly settled down on my chest and seemed so at peace with everything. Even now he barely cries.
When he is hungry he just gives a quiet little whimper to let me know he wants to feed. Don’t get me wrong, if this little whimper is not heard he will let me know soon enough. I remember my daughter crying quite a bit in the early days, and I clearly remember hubby looking up online and telling me it is quite normal for a baby to cry anything up to 3 hours a day and that anything more than that could be colic. This little boy barely cries. If he cries a total of 5 minutes in 24 hours it is a lot! What a change from my experience with my daughter. He just eats, sleeps and poops. He is only 3 weeks old so he is not awake much but those moments when he is awake he doesn’t cry, just looks around him curiously with his big blue eyes, totally content to take everything in.
One of the most heart warming moments of my life was when my daughter met her little brother. It was just beautiful. I spent a lot of time during my pregnancy explaining to her that a baby was growing in my tummy. She would often come and rub my tummy and kiss it and tell me “baba growing in there”. Towards the end I tried to tell her that the baby was coming out of my tummy and will come live with us. She seemed to ignore me and not take anything in at all, so I was so worried about how she would react.
When we got home from the hospital I first took my daughter into my bedroom to talk to her and connect with her before she met her little brother, Schalk. Suddenly she said to me “Waar is die baba?” and I was completely taken by surprise. I was still taking this in when she asked me “Where is baba Schalkie?” in a very stern, determined voice, so I asked her if she wanted to meet him. She said yes. I expected her to come to my tummy (still fat and swollen and could very well have been hiding another baby or 2 in there!), but she didn’t. She got up and went to the bedroom door with a very funny look on her face. I opened the door and let her go to the lounge where Ouma was holding Schalk.
My daughter just went to him and said “Baba Schalkie” in an excited voice and she then proceeded to point out his eyes, ears, mouth, feet and every body part to everyone. She rubbed his head and patted his back oh so gently. And when he made a little whimpering noise she patted his back and “shushed” him like a seasoned mommy. She has been nothing but gentle, caring and motherly towards him. When they are together she wants to bath him, change his nappy, wrap him in the blankets and put him to sleep. When he woke up from a nap while they were with my mom and my mom said he was hungry she sat down, patted her lap and said “Sit here Schalkie” while lifting up her top like she was going to breastfeed him. It is the most amazing thing to watch and witness every day.
She is very gentle and careful and caring when she is aware of what she is doing, but it is not all roses and fairies, though. There are other times she comes bounding into the room and comes flying onto the bed at the speed of light nearly killing the new baby before I get the chance to remind her to be gentle. When she is around we have to watch like a hawk and be quick as can be to divert any serious accidents.
I am very fortunate to have such a rustige little baby, because although he is so easy the one thing he does do is eat like a baby possessed! This boy loves his milk. I struggled very badly with the breastfeeding with my daughter because breastfeeding does NOT come naturally to me. In fact, to be honest, I hate it. I struggled to latch her and I struggled with cracked, bleeding nipples and then I got some bad advice too that I should top up her feeds with formula if I didn’t have enough milk. I won’t go into all that, if you want to know have a look at the blog I wrote called Breastfeeding Comes Naturally.
My boy latches well, eats well and is very easy-going. However the difference now is that I am back at work already. Latching a baby is one thing. Talking on the phone, typing a one-handed email and latching a baby all at the same time is some serious multi-tasking that takes quite a bit of time to get used to. I am managing (ummm just) but I am not going to say it is easy at all! Having leaky boobs at the office is also not nice. Another thing that is not exactly appealing is having that horrible feeling of everything pulling tight when I hear my baby wake up and want to feed. You know … that feeling that your boobs might just explode!
All in all though I must say I am finding this second journey into motherhood so much more enjoyable in general. I remember one of the first things my hubby and I discussed after bringing our daughter home from the hospital. We were sorely disappointed with the little grub. We had no idea newborns just slept all the time and we were talking about how we wanted to connect with this little soul, but she just lay around with her eyes shut tight all the time. All I remember is it seemed like I blinked … and then I had dark rings under my eyes and I was crying “This baby won’t sleep!! How do I get her to sleep??”. Things change so fast with babies and they grow up so quickly. This time I am better able to understand my boys needs through learning from my mistakes with my daughter and I am able to enjoy all the snuggles we have and him sleeping against me without wishing any time away wanting something else from him.