I was 20 years old when I found out I was pregnant.
I remember calling my partner on the day to deliver the news. At this point, I did not really know what was going through my mind. I mean, I am 20 years old! Never been travelling, never studied, never even had so much as a pregnancy scare. I was rather overwhelmed with the news.
I slept surprisingly well that night. I guess I already knew what I was going to do in my heart. My mother on the other hand, could not sleep a wink. She was in my bedroom at 6:30 am stressing for me. I told her it was all going to be okay. She told me to go to the doctor to be absolutely sure – which I did.
We both had full time jobs and earned good money. How was it fair to terminate this pregnancy when we had the funds and means to support this little baby?
I met my partner later that afternoon at an ultrasound clinic to see how far along the pregnancy I was. I was just past 5 weeks.
We went home and discussed the pros and cons. Yes, we discussed termination but I had already known in my heart that this was a path I did not want to take. My partner agreed. We both had full time jobs and earned good money. How was it fair to terminate this pregnancy when we had the funds and means to support this little baby? People in lesser situations make do and are able to provide for their kids. Well, that was our logic and this is when we knew we were keeping our baby.
Then came the time to tell the parents. My mother already knew but did not know whether or not I had decided to go through with the pregnancy. When my partner and I walked in to tell her she could tell by our faces that we were keeping the baby. She agreed with our logic. My step father on the other hand is a little more old school so he wasn’t the most impressed person to begin with but eventually came around. My partner’s parents live in New Zealand. So they received a phone call from my partner with the news a few days later. They were ecstatic.
My father lived down the south coast, about two hours from my mother’s house. I was visiting him that weekend so I waited to share my news with him and my step mother. Just like most of the reactions, they were delighted and could not wait to become a Poppy and Nana.
Now that we had told all the parents, the next thing to do was to tell my employer. I had dreaded this more than telling my parents because I had only started working there 2 months prior! I was not even off the three month probation period yet.
So I spilled the beans to my boss. My stomach was almost coming out off my mouth, I was so nervous of his response. Remarkably he was happy for me and asked me to pray with him for my baby’s good health. I am not a person who prays, but I was grateful nonetheless.
Now all the people that needed to know knew. I was going to keep it a secret from everyone else until the three month mark.
It was time to deal with the first trimester of pregnancy, and what a horrible thing it was. The morning sickness is what I can only describe as the worst hangover you’ve ever had, but without the enjoyment of the night before. This was something I suffered for about the first 14 weeks of my pregnancy. The only thing I could recommend to any woman is to eat before you lift your head off the pillow when you wake up. Otherwise, you’ll know about it.
Then there’s the rollercoaster that is the mood swings. And guess what? There is absolutely nothing you can do about them. Both you and your partner just have to go with it and enjoy the emotional ride together.
Something which affected me throughout my whole pregnancy was tiredness. I would get home from work, shower, cook dinner and be in bed by 7:30 pm every night. If I didn’t get at least 10 hours sleep then all hell could break loose. I needed sleep.
The weight gain wasn’t fun. Throughout the pregnancy I gained a total of 30 kilos because unfortunately for me I did not crave anything healthy or nutritious. All I wanted was salt. Salt, salt and more salt. And who in their right mind is going to stand in the way of a hungry pregnant lady?
Now comes the favourite part – labour. Wow, that sure hurts. The pain is something that cannot be described or understood until one has experienced labour. I went into the hospital with one thing on my pregnancy plan – epidural. Once the pain started, all I wanted was the epidural. I made it known to every nurse, midwife or doctor that could hear me.
They got me my epidural. The rest was going to be a breeze. And it was for the most part. Except for when I became ten centimeters dilated – that means it’s time to start pushing. Unfortunately, my baby’s heart rate dropped significantly at this point and I was told this baby had to come out ASAP. I had every man and their dog in that room. Dignity out the door. But you are so focused, you do not even realise who is around or what they are doing. All you focus on is getting the little one out safely.
Which is what we did.
You will be tired for the rest of your life. No more going out on the town with friends, no more travelling, no more sleeping.
The first time you see your newborn baby is a love which is indescribable until you’ve been there yourself. All I could say is that it is a love which consumes you. This little human was so perfect in every way. Looking at my little boy I had never felt that much love.
I stayed at the hospital for two nights. I wanted out of there ASAP. I was not coping with the nurses pressuring me to breastfeed. I have an open mind and know breast milk is the way to go for a new-born, but the pressure from the nurses to breastfeed nearly drove me right out of that hospital. I was tired (I’d only had about four hours sleep in 48 hours) and the last thing I needed was to be made to feel bad about breastfeeding. But I did it.
I breastfed for the first six weeks or so but then decided to change to formula. My baby was putting on more weight and feeding less frequently with the formula. It was my decision and no one was going to influence that.
Broken sleep was something that I had to also get used to. Every three to four hours you get woken up by this little cry. You will be tired for the rest of your life. Something I am beginning to become accustom to.
Once you have a baby your life changes for good. No more going out on the town with friends, no more travelling, no more sleeping, no time to make time for yourself. There’s no time to clean your messy house, or to entertain friends. No time to keep up with the enormous mountains of washing.
But you manage. And it is all worth it. When my baby smiles up at me now, I can’t help but think how lucky I am to have brought such a gift into this world. It is a hard job and you don’t get time off. But the rewards from it are so much richer than anything else in the world.