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I’ve been back at work (from maternity leave) for over a week. It was long enough for me to realize that I’m going to take very long to adjust to this new setup.

I have a good enough job (if not the stuff movies or series are based on – hahaha, not even close!) and an amazingly understanding female boss. I found a daymother on Gumtree that I feel reasonably comfortable with (i.e. as comfortable as one could feel about a stranger you’re entrusting with the most precious gift you’ve ever received). I should be grateful.

It’s just that I always thought I’d be a stay-at-home mom like my mother. She married a kinda rich man though (my darling dad), while a geeky, kinda hunky scientist in an ancient bakkie stole my heart. I now realize that being a working girl is one thing, but leaving your long awaited baby girl with a total stranger is quite another.

So here I am, thinking some big-time jealous thoughts about The Other Woman… ’cause my baby angel’s daymother is the one who:

  • now gets to spend more time with my little angel during workweeks than I do.
  • gets to enjoy those Miss Sunshine smiles every weekday when my angel wakes up from a morning nap.
  • will have more opportunities in a given week than I will to comfort and hold her when she cries.
  • might be the one who gets to hear my angel laugh her first belly laugh, say her first word, see her take those first wobbly steps…

How is a mother’s heart supposed to adjust to all that? Ever?

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I’ve finally finished the story of my LO’s birth (and about time!), so here goes:

On the 16th of July just before going to bed, I complained to DH that I was feeling crampy. It was past midnight and I thought the fun-filled Friday evening around Chinese take-aways with my brother, SIL and delightful 2-year old nephew explained my discomfort.

I was 35w6d pregnant and the weekend’s to do list was crammed with get-ready-for-baby chores: ‘pack hospital bag’, ‘buy car seat’ ‘cook food to stock freezer’, etc. At my gynae appointment only 5 days earlier there was nothing to indicate that baby was anything but cosily awaiting her due date (14 Aug).

At 4 o’clock, I woke up and went to the loo. A trickle started on my way there and I instantly knew it was amnio fluid. I was shocked to see some blood when I got to the bathroom. The trickle soon turned into a steady stream.

It turns out that the quickest way to wake a DH from his slumber is to holler from the bathroom that he should call the labour ward and inform them that we’re on our way. I popped into the shower and then hurriedly threw a few things into my hospital bag.

At the hospital, a friendly, but both adamant and clueless porter made me troop through most of the hospital. This is very inconvenient while you’re worried about the absorbency of maternity pads and whether you’re trailing amnio fluid. I insisted that I needed to go to the labour ward, but he somehow thought I was supposed to first check into the ER. After ER told him to take me to the labour ward, he proceeded to march me to the maternity ward. He then finally took me to the labour ward, i.e. where I was headed before he intercepted. 😕

The monitor showed some contractions, but the cramps were not even close to as bad as my AF cramps so I was unperturbed. The gynae visited at about 5:30. He admitted me and said he won’t give any treatment to keep LO in, but hoped that maybe she’d stay put for another week. My cervix was completely closed. He gave me antibiotics and steroids and then left for the beach. It was his day off and I was fine with seeing the on call gynae for the day.

When the on call gynae saw met around 8 am he didn’t want to do an internal check as I was clearly not in labour and he didn’t want to risk infection.

Considering the pregnancy was only at 36w, I did not want to have a C-sec should I go into premature labour. I previously booked an elective C-sec to avoid a long drawn out labour with a full term LO stuck inside followed by an emergency C-sec. Since preemies are very prone to respiratory problems, I didn’t want to compound that risk by having a C-sec for a tiny little baby. Also, by not doing an elective C-sec, LO could stay put for as long as possible.

Not long after the gynae left, the cramps intensified. A nurse hooked me up to the monitor again, but the dumb machine somehow showed that the contractions were less severe than previously. The nurse believed the machine and told me not to worry.. Sheesh!

I popped into the shower after sending DH to buy some shampoo, but by then the cramps became severe. I worried I might pass out in the shower, so I got out and sat down on the physio ball.

At 9:30 I called the hairdresser between contractions to cancel my 10 am appointment. Having a baby seemed a valid reason for cancelling! 😉

DH returned with the shampoo (which was no longer required) to find me on that enormously silly ball, in tears. I then got to do all that undignified moaning, crawling around and screaming I thought I’d avoid when I originally booked a C-sec. 😦

I called a nurse once or twice, but they just went on about Braxton hicks and rolled their eyes at this ‘overdramatic first timer’. I kept insisting that the baby was coming and that they’d better call the doctor..

At some stage a nurse thought it an idea to offer me gas for pain relief. I immediately started sucking the stuff like I was trying to make the cylinder implode. Alas, I can’t say I was impressed by the pain relieving properties of gas. The nurse warned me to go less heavy on the gas as it could apparently make you pass out. I was still sitting on the physio ball (by then all slippery from amnio fluid) and woozily hanging onto DH – my pillar of strength – for dear life. Actually, passing out sounded like a lovely option!

At around 11 the gynae was back and I asked for an epidural the moment I saw him. He took one look at my cervix and told me it was way too late for that! I was fully dilated and he said that one or two big pushes would bring LO into the world.

His prediction was slightly off as it felt like a lot more than 2 big pushes that was needed. The gynae was generally great, but he kept marvelling at how naturally everything was happening. I was too otherwise engaged to give him a piece of my mind on what I think about ‘natural’ birth.. (You can read all about those dark thoughts here.)

DH was wonderful even though I would quite frankly have preferred him not seeing me like that. He kept telling me that I was doing amazingly well. He was even assisting the nurses, adjusting the bed and keeping me up to date on LO’s progress (“I can see her crowning”!).

LO was born at 12:14 am weighing 2.7 kg and 49 cm tall.

I looked at her and felt the most incredible rush of love. After 9 months of carrying her (OK, 8), I was surprised to catch myself thinking, “There truly is a little baby! It was all true.” (Gazing into her dark brown, dazed eyes, I bet she was even more surprised to see me.)

My worries of her being whisked off to an incubator was laid to rest when they put her delicate, pink body on my chest. My late pretermer aced the Apgar tests with with 9/10 and 10/10. As she lay on my chest, she lifted her tiny head turned it to the side and guardedly studied DH’s face as he sat next to the bed.

After 45 more mins, the gynae declared the placenta stuck tight and I was rushed into theatre for an evacuation. Not too bad an experience really as I love anaesthetic. (Yes, seriously!) After an eventful night and having missed out on an epidural I loved getting some blissful ‘time out’.

DH was kangaroo-caring for LO until I came out of the recovery room. Soon as I got to hold my LO, I wanted to never let go of her again. I fed her and she latched and nursed like a voracious little tiger cub. I thought it was amazing that she knew exactly what to do to be able to nurse.

The nurses kept asking whether they could put her in the nursery for the night and I kept replying that I wanted to hold her just a few more minutes. They finally took her at about 1 am, but I couldn’t sleep anyway. At about 3:30 am, I tiptoed to the nursery and fetched my baby angel so I could hold her, love her and marvel at her tiny face some more. I waited for her long enough.

We were discharged two days later with LO weighing 2.5 kg. On my hit parade of favourite days, Take-baby-home day tops the charts as it is right up there with my wedding day. More joy, love and happiness were squeezed into that one day than one could ever dare hope for.

When we carried our little angel into her new home, DH turned to me and said, “Can you believe that we get to keep her? We never have to hand her back to some other parents again”.

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