By Justine Smith @jsmithrealinsta
When I found out I was pregnant with my son, my heart raced with the same joy, excitement and fear that I felt when I saw the second line appear on the test with my Daughter, almost six years earlier. “How hard can it be?” I thought to myself. “I’ve already done it once!” Safe to say that wasn’t the most accurate estimate for the whole ‘second child experience‘!
I didn’t consider the fact that during my first pregnancy, I was very sick the whole time, but only had myself to worry about. Of course during my second pregnancy I was again, very sick for all three trimesters, but still had to do my usual Mum tasks as well. I still had to get my Daughter up and dressed for school, still had to get housework done, feed us all, get to appointments for ‘baby number 2’ go to work and try not to throw up (had the same problem during baby number one’s gestation!) There was also the added complication that I was suffering from Pre Eclampsia, which meant I had to somehow have my feet raised as much as possible, but couldn’t because I had another child to look after. Some of the other complications that I didn’t anticipate were seemingly obvious; expenses, relationship pressure, societal expectations and the heat wave that created an average 36°C temperature for the majority of my third trimester! All of this before baby number two was even born!
At the 37 week midwife appointment, I was told that my pre eclampsia was so bad that I needed to go straight home, pack a bag, and go into hospital to be induced the next day. “I still have three weeks!” I said to the midwife. “No, you have a day!” She replied. “Otherwise your vital organs could be fatally damaged.” The whole time I had pre eclampsia I had underplayed it as an annoyance that gave me hobbit looking toes!I didn’t realise it was that serious until then. So, I went home, rather emotional about the lack of time I had left to prepare, and packed a bag. I reassured my Daughter, arranged for her to stay with my Mum whilst baby was being born and until we could get home, and I reluctantly went into hospital.
The next day I was moved to a private room to be induced. The induction seemed pretty simple and quick – although in no way pleasant! Afterwards I was told I could go and get some lunch, but to make sure I didn’t go too far and to be back within an hour. That was at 11:30am. I went down to the hospital canteen and waited for my Mum and Daughter to arrive, then ordered a hot chocolate and a toastie for us all. As my toastie arrived I felt the most severe contraction come over me, literally like I was burning from the inside! As my Daughter was there and she had been so worried about me for the whole pregnancy, I tried really hard to ‘breathe it off’ and act as though I was fine, but I said to my Mum that I needed to eat quickly and get back up to the maternity ward. Then came another major contraction. They seemed to get more intense and have around 20 seconds between them. I couldn’t eat my toastie in that intense pain, so we all made our way up to the room I was in whilst I tried to walk during severe contractions and hunger!
Back on the ward I explained to the midwife what was happening, and she happily said the induction had worked. So I sent my Mum and my Daughter off so that I didn’t scare my Daughter any more than she had been already. By 1:38pm my Son was born, a healthy 6lbs 2oz. I was so relieved! I was given a tablet to lower my blood pressure due to the pre eclampsia, and I had a lovely cuddle with my Son. It seemed almost perfect!
Around five minutes later I started hemorrhaging. Really badly. There ended up being around fifteen people in the room, all doing different things but all working on stopping the bleeding. I remember getting upset as I felt like I needed to go to sleep and I was panicking because it felt like losing consciousness rather than a much needed nap. I asked what would happen if I couldn’t feed my Son and one of the midwives made a very funny joke saying “don’t worry, if you can’t feed him I’ll milk you like a cow!” That helped me a lot, laughing always helps terrifying situations! I was told afterwards that I had gone a funny blue-ish colour. The other midwife came back in and made a joke saying “Oh dear, are you just trying to get all the attention?!” Which made me laugh so hard it hurt, but I was so grateful because it snapped me out of feeling so faint and seemed to bring me back to consciousness. She finally stopped the bleeding and all was well after that. I was told that I’d been around 0.1mg away from needing a blood transfusion, but was grateful that I didn’t need one as I wanted to get home as quickly as possible, to get some normality for my Daughter and get settled with us all home, together.
I was taken to another ward and my Mum and Daughter were allowed to see their Grandson and Brother for the first time, thanks to the kind midwives taking him just outside of the room in his hospital crib, as only partners were allowed in the ward I was taken to. I was throwing up a lot and in quite a state, so I agreed it wasn’t the best idea for either my Mum or my Daughter to see me like that. All of the hospital staff helped me so much, one of the nurses held my Son whilst I was being sick and he was crying, another helped me to clean myself up and another suggested some anti sickness medicine to slow down the illness. By the next afternoon, after a lot of naps, blood pressure checks, blood tests and water consumption, we were finally allowed to go home.
Six months later I was diagnosed with a Pulmonary Embolism in my lung. I had to take blood thinners for a long time after that, and it was due to the Pre Eclampsia during pregnancy. I still wouldn’t change any of it for the world, because I have two healthy and happy children in my life, who call me Mum. I’ve worked on my health a lot and will continue to do so, to ensure I can be in their lives until I’m old and grey!
However, the recovery process and the jump from one child to two, isn’t quite as simple as I originally thought. It’s really difficult to adjust to new ways of doing things and find the time to give the same attention to both children. I imagine it’s the same going from two to three, or three to four! It’s all a huge change for both parents and children, as well as extended families. There is no ‘nap while the baby naps’ with baby number two, people don’t shower you with gifts and praise with baby number two, even child benefit reduces by around a quarter each week, for baby number two! On the flip side though, you get double the love, twice as many laugh’s and double the pride. Like with anything in this World, there are pros and cons to having a second child, but I’m unbelievably glad that I did.
I would recommend accepting help where it’s offered, support when it’s needed and taking each day as it comes. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and rest as much as you can, whenever you can. Our children need us to be our best, so that we can look after them in the best way possible. Then they have someone to show them the ups and downs in life, and how to experience the good and the bad. I’m very lucky to have been able to have two children, as I was told when I was around twenty years old, that I was likely unable to conceive. It just shows that there is hope for everyone out there, and anything is possible!