Friday, 12 October 2012

On being pregnant, again.


~ by Kendal

Everyone remembers the moment they first find out they’re pregnant. With Ava, I managed to covertly pee on a pregnancy test whilst Howard was in the shower, running back through minutes later, half-dressed, with a positive test waving about in my hand whilst shouting, ‘I’m pregnant! I’m pregnant!’ I remember Howard’s shocked face peering out the glass door of the shower, completely unaware of what was going on.

Not exactly smooth. So it’s not a surprise that when I found out I was pregnant again, for the second time, it took me four tests and three days to really feel certain that I was, indeed, with child. Again. After a year of breastfeeding on demand my period returned almost exactly on Ava’s 1st birthday. As good a time as any, I thought, to kind of start trying for baby number two. Five children take time, after all, and my only-child longing for many children wasn’t getting any quieter.

I knew that it might take some time since I was and still am breastfeeding Ava on demand. I read that, period or not, it can take some women two or three years to conceive again, but I was determined that nothing was going to stop me nursing Ava and somewhat naively assumed that since it took us a couple of months the first time round, it would probably follow suit again.

But then six months followed that were probably the most stressful of my whole life. We moved house three times. Howard was searching for the right job, and we were amidst near constant family drama that made it seem like it might, in fact, be the very worst time to get pregnant again. And unsurprisingly, it just didn’t happen.

During this time I was recommended a book called Taking Charge of Your Fertility which brought out a raging feminist from within that I frankly didn’t know existed. Not just about how to understand your own fertility, this book educated me in the ways of my own body to such an extent that I wondered why it wasn’t handed out to every 14 year old girl in need of answers. I started to take notice of my monthly cycle – every stage of it – and it became easy to interpret various signs and see that in fact my fertility was clearly not back to where it should be. Whether this was due to the breastfeeding or the stress, I don’t know.

But then we moved into this house and everything settled. Howard found a good job, and I felt everything in me just relax and let go. And two months later, hey-ho, I was pregnant. And really bloody happy that it hadn’t happened in amidst turbulent times, when I would surely have been constantly worried that such stress was having a negative effect on a baby.

Still, nothing quite prepares you for the feeling of seeing that line on a test. Even if at first that line is very faint, just the suggestion that somehow, without you knowing, this incredible, life-changing thing has happened, is not the easiest thing to process. In fact, it doesn’t quite seem real until my body starts to react to the surge of pregnancy hormones and sickness and exhaustion take over.

The past nine weeks have been challenging in a number of different ways than it was with Ava. Unexpectedly, I’ve been more sick this time around, but I’ve been able to nap with Ava for a couple of hours most days which means I’ve not been quite as bone-tired exhausted as I was when I was working. We’ve watched a lot more films during the day than I ever thought we would, but sometimes it felt like lying on the couch with Ava and watching Mary Poppins for the twentieth time that week was all I could muster. You begin to understand that it’s okay to let go of some things, to compromise.

Most days I waited for Howard to get home so I could run upstairs and fall fast asleep in bed. My ‘morning sickness’ was worst between 5 and 7pm at night, which meant eating dinner was impossible.  However this time round, instead of going off meat/protein, I actively craved it. I discovered almonds not only stopped the first trimester heartburn that seems to occur, but it also helps with nausea.

As for breastfeeding, my feelings have changed a little. I still nurse Ava and it’s my hope that I continue to do so until she wants to stop, but I find myself discouraging it more and more, since it has added an extra feeling of being drained that I didn’t expect. I have never been worried about nursing whilst pregnant – I’ve read enough to know how natural and possible it is but I’m sure my milk supply has gone right down already, and I can tell by the way Ava responds that she has noticed. I suspect that she is one of those children who will happily nurse through the next six months, milk or not, rather than wean, but we’ll see, I suppose. The logistics of sleep nursing with a huge tummy seems a conundrum.

And now here I am, about to enter my second trimester tomorrow, having mostly passed that really challenging stage, and wondering how it is that I could possibly have two children. Two human beings that depend on me. Two children I love as much as I have one. It is a concept very hard to understand. Perhaps more so because this time around, with a rambunctious toddler running around, I have had so little time to focus on being pregnant, to fantasise and ruminate on who this little person is.

Again, so different than the first time round, when all my thoughts were focused on one thing and one thing alone. The advantage to this, I think, is that your body just gets on with doing what it has to do, and you don’t have the time to worry and panic over every little thing. I’ve managed to write a few lists which mostly consist of slings, reusable nappies, a sheepskin and little things I want to make, but so much less to buy than last time. Unless of course I get carried away with the beautiful range of slings I covet almost daily. No pushchairs, no Moses basket, and certainly no Pampers.

When we were notified our first scan would fall on Ava’s birthday, I thought it a particularly lovely stroke of luck. I didn’t feel too nervous this time, in part because my body is so unbelievably sensitive to hormonal changes that it’s somewhat of a comfort to feel so sick, as if you can really believe that something big must be going on.

But at the same time, lying on the hospital bed with Ava and Howard next to me whilst a huge picture of a little baby flickered on screen – I also felt incredibly relieved. There it was – there he or she was. Proof that there’s a human being growing at a phenomenal rate inside me. Proof that I haven’t just been imagining the past three months, complete with fabricated pregnancy symptoms and a swollen tummy.

A little fluttering heartbeat, and hands that flicked around everytime my tummy was prodded.  A near identical profile to Ava’s scan. And for the first time since finding out I was pregnant, I really did feel a rush of love, of protectiveness, or warmth towards this little person. I understood for the first time how easy it would be to love another person as much, as unconditionally, as I do Ava. Love is not a pie after all. And as I lay there with this baby bobbing around on screen and inside me, whilst Ava clambered to get up beside me and Howard earnestly tried to divert her attention towards the picture of her new baby brother or sister, it seemed like the most easy thing in the world to just welcome another person into our family.

Ava tells me the baby is a boy. I’m inclined to agree. She likes to pretend-feed my tummy blueberries and sometimes, if she’s feeling particularly generous, yoghurt covered raIsons. She is the first to remind me at dinner to take my ‘preggy pill’, which has become her job. I have a feeling she is going to be the most amazing big sister, and everytime I imagine it I am flooded with gratitude for our growing family. These are good days.




  Ava and I snuggled up on the couch watching Mary Poppins during one of my 'sick' days





20 comments:

  1. This is such a lovely blog to read, congratulations. It's also very insightful for me (as much as I can't wait to have babies, the idea of being pregnant still scares me quite a lot) so it's really good to read that it's not perfect for everybody. I think it's easy for people like me to get caught up in the perfect pregnancy/birthing experience, and I quite often worry that it won't be like that for me. This blog has just quelled those irrational worries nicely though, thank you. x

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    1. Thank you! The kind of pregnancy and birthing you see in the media is so often ridiculously false. I feel very lucky to have had such a textbook pregnancy last time around, but somewhat annoyingly, that includes a lot of morning sickness and exhaustion in the first 3 months. My midwife likes to remind me both are good signs that things are going as planned, but they're not so fun to go through. I do know some lucky women who experienced neither and went on to have very healthy babies, but I have to say, they are in the definite minority.

      It's hard to know that there is little you can do beyond the obvious things (eat healthily, exercise etc) since so much of being pregnant is beyond your control, but at the same time, I think it also helps me to focus on being as mindful as possible, and just trust my body to do what it was designed to do.

      By the way, most women poop during labour too, just as a warning! :)

      Kx

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    2. I didn't poop during either of my two! #smug

      I *did* pee all over the midwife's hand in Ru's labour though! E, x

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  2. What a touching post. I am so happy for you!

    I think you actually did really well to get pregnant at all whilst still nursing so much. I know lots of ladies who found they had to give up completely before falling pregnant again!

    How exciting...I look forward to reading more along your journey.

    X

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  3. Hi!
    I love reading this blog. I'm not a mother and have no plans to be anytime soon, mainly because I've been so disillusioned by relatives and friends being so controlling over their children. They make being parents look no fun at all! Everything is a worry for them so their children have no freedom (if I hear the words 'look what happened to maddie mccann!' one more time I'm going to scream. This is a playground not basra!) and its really put me off.
    This blog and ava and the snowman is restoring my faith that their is another way! I love the idea of bedsharing but for a while I've been wondering if you can have just a sling and no pram. I see you've mentioned it here and I'm intrigued. I wonder if you have any links that might be helpful on the subject?

    Good luck in your pregnany and I hope everything goes well

    X

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    1. Kendal has a pram, but plans to use slings as much as possible with PillyWiggin.

      We (Emi and Stephen) had a pram and slings for Ru, sold the pram well before Pixie was born, and she has only ever been in slings (and Ava's pram once!). It can be more tiring for parents this way, but buses and travel are infinitely easier!

      I would advise though, that if the 'no pram' route was the one you eventually chose, I'd invest in a few different types of slings!

      E, x

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    2. Hi Debz and thanks for your lovely comment! If you've been reading Ava and the Snowman for a while you'll know that Ava absolutely hated her pram, which is why we used nothing but a sling for the first 16/17 months or so of her life. I used to carry her everywhere in a Mei Tai, first on my front and then on my back.

      At around this time she started playing with her pram and climbing in, so we tried her in it and she absolutely loved it - I think because it gave her a little more freedom to look around by that stage. I was also relieved because she is very heavy and we walk so many places rather than drive or get the bus that my back had been getting a little sore! (If she had continued to want to be carried I would have purchased a toddler Mei Tai or wrap which would have alleviated any discomfort I'm sure!)

      We plan on doing the same thing this time around with the new baby - although with a variety of slings we're buying. I know it's absolutely possible to be without a pram but it depends on how you feel and also your child. I love babywearing but if I had a child who suddenly wanted to be in a pushchair I wouldn't mind either, although it took some getting used to with Ava as I found it infinitely easier to carry her around town than I did pushing her!

      This site is quite informative: http://babywearinginternational.org/

      I also really like these babywearing blogs:

      http://www.adventuresinbabywearing.com/

      http://www.thebabywearingblog.com/

      http://carrymemama.blogspot.co.uk/

      I hope those are useful!

      Much love, K x

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  4. I read both your blogs too. Do you still plan on bedsharing with Ava as well as the new baby? How does that work?

    Also, congrats!

    Mel x

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    1. We had Ru in a co-sleeper (rather than inbetween us) from 5 months before Pixie was born, as I was desperate for space, Ru's a restless sleeper and I had a pregnancy-related hernia. We loved having him in with us, but with him wriggling and keeping me awake, and me tossing and turning and keeping him awake, and poor Stephen being awoken by both of us; we just needed some sleep!

      It worked beautifully until we realised that Pixie likes to sleep in her own space, not touching us! Our current sleeping arrangement is Ru's mattress on the floor next to our bed, with Pix in the co-sleeper.

      I love bedsharing, but sometimes I long for a whole bed to myself, to 'starfish'!

      E, x

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  5. Absolutely! We don't want her to move into her own room until she decides to do so, whenever that may be. We feel very strongly about not pushing her to do so before she is ready - she would be very upset if we tried to make her sleep on her own right now and she seems to have such positive feelings about bed and sleep I'd hate to ruin that. Plus, honestly, I adore having her there to cuddle, so it's not hard at all!

    We have a kingsize bed, and attached securely to that, Ava's toddler bed which is a good size, so there's a lot of bed in our room! Ava has started sleeping in her own little bed most of the night, just crawling over in the morning to nurse, so the baby will sleep in our bed with us, just as Ava did, and Ava can come and go as she pleases.

    One of my dearest friends actually told me recently how lovely it has been to have both her toddler daughter and her newborn son in the same bed. They cuddle together quite a lot too, which I imagine is lovely. I know many bedsharing families end up with a room that is wall to wall mattresses to accommodate all sleeping bodies, which sounds just dreamy. Also, I know some families who have ended up with a 'sibling bed' where all the wee ones like to sleep together.

    I think with bedsharing it just seems to be as flexible as you want.

    Kx

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    1. I would so love wall to wall mattresses. I've already told Tim we will be bedsharing and he didn't object :) I like the idea of nighttime parenting being just as importany as daytime parenting!

      By the way, did you get my email on Ava and the Snowman? I sent it last week I think, although I know you have lots on.

      I do love your Friday posts on here but I do miss your regular writing on ATS...not to sound like a pest or anything, I just did wonder if you were okay and now I know why!

      X

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    2. I wondered if it was the same Mel! I am literally about to go out the door, but my plan today is...go to a party, go see On The Road, then spend a lot of time with 'ATS' (I lke the abbreviation!) this evening...

      I'm sorry I didn't respond. I've had so many lovely emails over the past few weeks and I didn't want to reply to anyone before being able to tell them why I wasn't writing so much. Rest assured - I will be writing a lot more from now on and I will NEVER stop doing that blog, it's where my heart lies!

      I've also been working on an exciting writing project that has been taking up some time too, but I will explain more later.

      Thanks for writing though - your email was just lovely and brought a tear to my eye!

      Kx

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  6. Congratulations to you all! I agree that Baby number 2 pregnancy gives you less time to daydream, but also less time to worry - it goes faster as well. Definatly less to buy, and you already really know what you actually NEED. Love that your doing cloth nappies.

    I have 2 boys but would like another - Ive always used a pram and just lately a pushchair. Defo need to look into slings for number 3!

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    1. I can't believe how much faster it goes! I love that part!

      Really looking forward to using cloth nappies - it's my one big regret with Ava, even though she seems fine with disposables, but I was given some incorrect advice at the time and didn't look into it further!

      Kx

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  7. Five! You'll be just like the Waltons :) Would you ever consider adopting any?

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    1. I wouldn't mind being like The Waltons at all (just less religious :) ) but we certainly have big homesteading and unschooling dreams!

      I would definitely consider adopting - I think it's a great thing to do, but we'd probably have to wait until we owned our own house etc as I do know it can be a tough process to get through and they have strict prerequisites. I would love to at least consider it in time though. I would also happily be a surrogate too - I think it's probably one of the best things you can do for another person.

      -Kx

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  8. What a fantastic post. Congratulations!

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  9. What fantastic news. Bump photo! X

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    1. Hah, maybe soon! It's definitely growing!

      Kx

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