Pregnancy Diaries: The Mom Whose First Birth Experience May Have Scarred Her
In our new series Pregnancy Diaries, we ask expecting women to jot down every pregnancy-related detail of their lives for a week. (Special thanks to New York mag and Refinery29 for the inspo.) Work-related conundrums, struggles with IVF and a whole lot of nausea ahead. This week, we meet Emily, a 30-year-old married writer from Devon, England, who's 21 weeks pregnant with her second child. After a very tough labor, her first child was born with a hole on one lung, pneumonia of the other lung, a broken clavicle, and Group B strep. Emily is hoping this time goes more smoothly and is taking various precautions to relieve her anxiety. She’s planning for a natural, spontaneous hypnobirthing labor at the hospital.
How long did it take you to get pregnant?
In 2014, My husband and I decided to try to have a baby after we were married, and three weeks later (a week after we returned home from our honeymoon), I took a pregnancy test and we were pregnant. I don’t think either of us expected it to be quite so fast. We had our first daughter, Rosalie, in May 2015. I did wonder if we had been very lucky the first time around and expected that the second time it might be a little more difficult to conceive, so around autumn 2016, we started talking about trying for a second baby and again within the space of a few weeks, we were pregnant.
Were you previously using any method of birth control?
I never wanted to go on the pill because I couldn’t be sure of the long-term effects, etc., and other methods weren’t really suitable, so prior to getting pregnant with our first, I did have a copper coil (IUD), and between pregnancies, we used the natural method.
Any other details relevant to your pregnancy?
When my first daughter was born with complications, I knew that in my second pregnancy, I would be likely to have some anxiety issues and fears about the pregnancy and the labor. I couldn’t imagine how they would play out until now.
7:30 a.m. — I wake feeling nervous and hopeful. Today is the day my husband and I have been waiting for excitedly because it’s our 20-week scan this morning and there has been much speculation by ourselves, family and friends as to what the sex of the baby is. Having had a beautiful baby girl, some of my friends — and actually a little part of myself — simply can’t imagine me as a mother to a boy.
My husband is upstairs already in the shower, and Rosalie hasn’t stirred yet, so I go to the kitchen to start on breakfast where I take my two anti-sickness tablets. The sickness has been far worse during this pregnancy than with Rosalie, even though I felt nauseous pretty much through the entirety of my previous pregnancy. I’m also craving very different foods this time; with Rosalie, it was all about pineapple, curry and bread, and this time, I’m so into mozzarella cheese, eggs and organic yogurts.
8 a.m. — My husband Tim brings my daughter downstairs and we make her some porridge and some fried eggs on toast for me (my go-to breakfast this pregnancy; it was scrambled eggs until I got very sick one morning and I can only have them boiled or fried now). After breakfast, my daughter and I take a bath together as my husband tidies up the plates in the kitchen.
9 a.m. — We drop Rosalie at Tim’s parents’ house, which is 10 minutes down the road, as the hospital prefers if children don’t attend the scan appointments.
9:30 a.m. — We arrive at the Centre for Women’s Health at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital for our anomaly scan. As our sonographer takes us on a tour of our baby’s anatomy, we both sit excited and nervous to hear that all is OK, which thankfully it is. Finally she asks if we’re sure we want to find out the sex of the baby, and I tell her my suspicions about having a boy and she points to the screen and exclaims; “I think you might be right!” Tim and I are over the moon and both start to get emotional. My husband starts to well up and laughs it off gruffly.
10:20 a.m. — We’re back in the waiting room when a nurse calls us for the antenatal check. All is fine, so now we wait for the doctor. A little backstory that I’ll inform the doctor of: When I became pregnant, I was mindful of the fact that I would most likely be affected by some of the issues from my previous labor and as someone who has suffered with anxiety in the past. Although I was carried along by the happiness of being pregnant for several weeks, by about week 15, I was feeling very low. I started to find myself irrationally worrying about something terrible, out of my control, happening to my daughter or my husband; I found myself fearful of driving and the world in general, and I was crying uncontrollably at night and found myself feeling very lonely and terrified about being with Rosalie on my own during the day. I soon decided that I couldn’t continue feeling like this and reached out to my midwife and GP, who both referred me to the perinatal mental health service to support me with my anxiety issues during my pregnancy and beyond.
Now we’re talking to the doctor and an obstetrician about a birth plan. I can either elect for a C-section or try for a natural delivery. Even though the first time was very hard, we decide we’d like to go for the latter, and after this pretty heavy discussion, the light and bouncy mood I was in having found out we were due to have a son has now become rather deflated.
12 p.m. — We pick up some sandwiches for lunch and head back to Tim’s parents’ house to collect Rosalie.
2 p.m. — We visit the local preschool to look around the facilities with a view to sending Rosalie there next year. The school has been rated as outstanding by Ofsted, and it really seems like a lovely school for Rosalie in the future.
3:30 p.m. — We’re home and although it is sunny weather outside, I feel pretty overwhelmed and exhausted, so I take a nap while Rosalie plays with Tim.
"No one really warns you how much you are going to fear for your children before you become a parent."
7:30 a.m. — Tim drops Rosalie and I off to his parents’ house for the day. Usually, I work from home on a Tuesday while Tim’s parents watch Rosalie, and today, the producers of a property television show are filming at our house, so we’re at my in-laws. We’ve been looking to sell it for more space.
8:30 a.m. — After making breakfast for Rosalie and myself, I start working on my laptop in their dining room.
11 a.m. — I send off some emails, then give Rosalie a quick cuddle before continuing with more work. It’s quite a treat to be able to have a sneak peek into a day in the life of Rosalie whilst I’m working. She’s toddling around and speaking more and more everyday, so it’s a real joy to watch her go about her business.
5 p.m. — I hear Tim come through the door and I wrap up what I’m working on to go and say hello. He tells me that the filming is all wrapped up and apparently went very well. The producer commented that the house looked beautiful and complimented us on our style and how we’ve decorated the place, which is lovely to hear.
7 p.m. — We have dinner with Tim’s parents, then head home with Rosalie.
7:30 p.m. — After I have a bath with Rosalie and get her ready for bed, Tim does the goodnight routine with Rosalie and a load of her cuddly toys; he puts on lots of funny voices, which she loves. I like to eavesdrop at the door and giggle.
8 a.m. — I’m feeling so tired today as I make Rosalie and myself breakfast. Today, we’ve made plans to have lunch with a friend and her son, but first I need to get to the supermarket, and I honestly just feel like I need to go back to bed.
9 a.m. — I receive two letters this morning; one from the perinatal mental health team regarding my referral for support, which asks me to call to arrange an initial telephone consultation and a second from Jenny, the obstetrician, who sums up the content of our conversation on Monday regarding the choices about the labor of this baby. I skim it through and those darker feelings of worry sneak back in. I decide to look at it again later.
10:45 a.m. — We’re finally out of the house and on the way to the supermarket. I pick up some organic dairy and a few bits for lunch and head over to my friend’s house for lunch at midday.
11:50 a.m. — When I arrive at my friend’s house, Rosalie is taking her nap. In the meantime, I check my emails and send a message to my best friend Alice, who lives three hours away. Alice recently had her first baby and absolutely loves being a mommy. I really miss living near her.
12:10 p.m. — Rosalie wakes up and I take her into the house. My friend and I have lunch together and then she puts her son down for a nap as I tidy up the kitchen. We have a coffee in the living room and play with Rosalie while my friend’s little one has his sleep. I tell my friend about my conversation with the doctor and the obstetrician at the hospital and ask about her thoughts on it all. She tells me again about her experience of labor, a topic which she and I have discussed many times previously. My NCT friends have been a saving grace, and we all agree that we probably would have gone mad without having the support we’ve had from one another. She definitely helps me to feel a little more positive about the decision that I have to make ahead of the birth of my second baby.
5 p.m. — Rosalie and I head home to find Tim already home. He and Rosalie have a big cuddle and we start to make plans for dinner. I was invited out for a drink with a couple of NCT friends tonight, but as I’ve been feeling so tired recently, I decide to let them go ahead without me and as another friend can’t make it, I don’t feel too much like I’m missing out.
6 p.m. — I take another look at the letter from the obstetrician and realize that if I want to have a natural labor, they’re suggesting that they would induce me only seventeen weeks from now. The thought is exciting but also rather scary, especially since I haven’t even thought about what we need to buy yet and also the question of the house move.
8 p.m. — Once Rosalie’s asleep, Tim and I watch the season finale of The Walking Dead, which I have a love-hate relationship with because although I find it thrilling to watch, I also find it terrifying. I definitely find that I am more vulnerable to scary and horrific television shows and movies during my pregnancy.
No one really warns you how much you are going to fear for your children before you become a parent, and I suppose if they did, you still wouldn’t have any idea how much that fear would paralyze you. Sometimes when I think of the state of the world, I feel powerless.
9 p.m. — We begin to discuss baby names again for the first time since finding out that we’re expecting a boy. We quickly whittle our 23-strong list of names to a shortlist of six using a points system. There is a name that we both love, but which I feel sounds a little nuts and I wonder if our friends will laugh at us. Tim is also very keen on another very sweet biblical name, which I like but I’m hesitant about because of a character in a television show with the same name. We decide to let those names marinate for a while before we discuss them again.
11:30 p.m. — I say a prayer in bed for those in pain and in need and ask God to give me courage and strength to look outwards, to be able to help others, to follow God’s lead and to not let myself be inhibited by my fears and anxieties.
"I don’t stop worrying, I just fall asleep."
9 a.m. — My alarm hasn’t gone off, probably because at some point I turned it off and forgot about it, and I wake up shocked at the time. I hear Rosalie upstairs babbling to herself happily and call up to her that I’m on my way. I fetch Rosalie and make us both some breakfast. I send a message to my NCT friends explaining that I somehow entered the Bermuda triangle of sleep and that we’re therefore running late.
10 a.m. — I pick up the phone and call the perinatal mental health service to arrange a telephone conversation, but the next available appointment is at the end of the month. I feel a little disappointed that I can’t speak to anyone sooner, but I know that I can hang on if I just stay strong.
10:30 a.m. — Rosalie and I head off to Dart’s Farm, apparently the U.K.’s best farm shop, which is a little like a countrified version of the Harrods Food Hall; less caviar and Champagne, more artisan barbecue rubs, local pies and specialty cheeses. We meet two of my NCT friends and their sons at the playground just outside of Dart’s Farm. The park area is lovely and pretty vast, though there isn’t a fence or a gate between that and the main road, so I make a point of following Rosalie around wherever she wanders to. The children play together on the slide and the climbing frames.
1 p.m. — After lunch, one of my friends has to leave to attend some work meetings, so my other friend and I pop our sleepy little ones in their prams and take a stroll around the toy department to try to find them some presents for their upcoming second birthdays.
My midwife has sent me a message to tell me she’s received a copy of the letter from Jenny the obstetrician and to check that I am happy with everything stated. I send her a quick message back to thank her and explain that I am keen to discuss the options with her at our next appointment in a few weeks’ time. I also tell her that we are thrilled to be expecting a baby boy.
2 p.m. — We decide to sit outside while the babies continue to nap and my friend tells me he thinks the book The Secret might help me to focus on more positive things, especially right before bed, rather than worrying about things that probably won’t happen. Once the kids are awake, we drive back to my house separately for a cup of tea and a playdate.
4 p.m. — After the kids have played and we’ve had another hot drink and a natter, my friend heads off. My midwife has replied and congratulated us on our news. She also asks if I’ve heard from the perinatal mental health service yet. I explain that I received a letter and I’ve made an appointment but that it’s not for a few weeks. She messages back that if I need to pop into see her any time, I can. I do feel that I can trust my midwife this time, which is definitely a bonus. Though I didn’t have anything against my community midwife when I was pregnant with Rosalie, I didn’t feel that she was as easy to talk to as my current midwife, Kate. The midwife who delivered my baby, Kathy, was a wonderful support to me during and after the labor of Rosalie.
I try to find something to eat in the kitchen, as I’m heading to the theater with my mother-in-law this evening and there won’t be time for any dinner. I make myself a bare caprese salad with cherry tomatoes, organic mozzarella and fresh basil. When I tried it with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, as I would normally have it, it tasted a little too peppery and piquant for my liking; this baby likes everything very mild and soothing.
5 p.m. — My salad doesn’t fill me up very well, but when Tim gets home, he kindly makes me tuna and salad sandwich, which my tummy is grateful for.
5:30 p.m. — My mother-in-law arrives to pick me up for the theater; we’re going to the picture house in Sidmouth to see a National Theatre Live screening of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, as performed in London.
11 p.m. — I get home and I’m feeling hungry. I take a quick bath and enjoy an organic yogurt and a nectarine in front of the television. I brush my teeth and head for bed, though I find myself agonizing over a decision I made to move my car earlier today to help my friend find a spot to park her car. I didn’t want to leave Rosalie alone in the house, so I asked her to stay at the door inside the house and watch me, mostly so I could keep an eye on her. I was so afraid she would run out of the house, but she didn’t and instead when I edged the car forward, I inadvertently went out of her eye line for a split second and she burst into tears, thinking I had abandoned her. I jumped out of the car and ran back to her to comfort her and explained that I would never leave her. I reflect that the guilt I feel from seeing her so upset and thinking I had left her is just so overwhelming. I tell a sleepy Tim who reassures me and urges me to go to sleep. I don’t stop worrying. I just fall asleep.
8:30 a.m. — Thank goodness it’s Friday; I feel exhausted, but at least I can focus on work today and not worry about Rosalie too much, though I’m sure I will anyway. Tim has already taken Rosalie to his parents', so I help myself to an egg on toast for breakfast.
9 a.m. — I start with emails today and then begin work on some features for upcoming issues. It’s nice to have something to distract me to be honest. Tim and I were supposed to visit a restaurant tonight for a review but it’s been postponed. I’m actually quite happy that we can have a quiet night tonight instead.
We’ve been so busy this week that we’ve hardly had a chance to have any time to ourselves, and I’m hoping that we won’t be too tired to have sex this evening. I’ve definitely been feeling in the mood for love during this pregnancy, but I must say we’ve had to adapt to be a little more creative with positions now that I have a sizable bump. I think being intimate helps to distract a little from feeling fearful and anxious, plus I love being close to Tim because he’s not only my husband, but he’s also my best friend and the person who I tell everything to. I trust him to no end, and he has always been so supportive of me through everything.
12 p.m. — Tim calls to ask if I’d like to have fish and chips with his parents tonight. I explain that I’d love to see them but I feel pretty nauseous and I don’t think that I could eat that. The weather is fine, so instead we settle on a barbecue.
5 p.m. — I’ve finished working and my mum calls to have a chat. My parents are due to fly out to Sydney next week to stay with my sister, her husband and their 11-month-old son Jack. I’m sad that we aren’t able to join them this time, but we make plans for later this year. I tell my mum about the discussion with the obstetrician on Monday and the decision ahead and she encourages me to follow my heart, as the obstetrician did, unless of course the doctors advise me another way for the baby’s safety.
Right now, I do feel that I would still very much like to have a natural labor, as I feel that it will benefit both my baby and myself, but I still want to keep mulling it over until week 35 when I will have another checkup with the obstetrician to see how big the baby is and to go from there. I’m also looking forward to my appointment with the perinatal mental health service because I’m hoping that will make me feel a bit more positive.
5:30 p.m. — Tim returns home with Rosalie and food for the barbeque. I have a cuddle with Rosalie, but when Tim goes upstairs to change into shorts and a T-shirt, Rosalie gets upset. I scoop her up as she cries “Dada!” tragically and tears roll down her face. I comfort her and tell her that Daddy has just gone upstairs to change his clothes and that he’s not left us. I start to sing a nursery rhyme and tickle Rosalie, and soon enough, she’s laughing again. We set to work on some dinner.
6 p.m. — We decide to make a Jamie Oliver recipe for BBQ chicken, and Tim starts work on the barbeque in the garden as I make the sauce. We have a drink — beer for Tim and apple juice for me — in the garden with some music as the barbeque cooks. Rosalie is running around on the grass in the afternoon sun. I actually feel uplifted for the first time in a while.
8 p.m. — After a bath with Rosalie, we put her to bed and watch the final episode of Desperate Housewives — we’ve been making our way through the whole program together for about a year.
9.30 p.m. — Bedtime, and Tim and I finally have some time together alone. I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.
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Originally posted on StyleCaster.