pop’d is so very excited to introduce Anna. Anna will be sharing her pregnancy and early motherhood journey with you, the pop’d community. All the milestones, all her hopes, all of her fears shared authentically and honestly. We hope you’ll support Anna as she shares her unique journey with you. Her blog is below…
Hi there, I’m Anna. Just a small-town gal living in the big city of Melbourne with her small-town guy. I’m 31 and currently 20 weeks pregnant with our first baby.
A little about me and my growing family. I grew up in a coastal town in south west Victoria on the traditional lands of the Gunditjmara people. The ocean and my own little family were my world. I spent my days hunting fairies in the bush and mermaids in the ocean and rock pools that surrounded our town. Life was pretty pure and free. But the little town couldn’t hold me for long. As soon as I turned 18, I sought something more. I wanted to move to the big city, where shops were open on Sundays and you could get take-away past 8pm. So, I moved to Geelong (I know… That was the big city to me!). There I pursued what is still my chosen profession, Social work. I rocked up on my first day in this 1972 Mercedes Benz, my third-hand mini fridge coated in brown 70’s style contact and an eclectic mix of what I thought were super cool vintage op shop clothing, blaring The Velvet Underground on make shift speaker my dad had installed in the car from an old boombox! Maybe in Brunswick that stuff could fly, but Geelong…?
But on the second night of my brand-new adventure I received some devastating news: my 48-year-old father had died suddenly of a heart attack. So, I packed up my second-hand belongings and headed back to the windswept south-west to support my mother and little brother and sister. We experienced an unimaginable number of devastating losses in the few years to follow that had us all lost and constantly trying to grapple grief in all its forms.
A few years later, an opportunity arose for me to study abroad via scholarship in Denmark. I worked my little butt off studying and working three jobs to get myself over there… one of those being a children’s entertainer. Childhood dream of being a fairy fulfilled!!
In the Summer of 2011, I set off on a new adventure… Denmark! Well what I would find in Denmark would change the course of my life forever. A dashing, young Frenchman with an unequivocal set of vocal chords, aka a ridiculous French accent that, let’s be honest, is a western woman’s kryptonite (or is that just me?). But I was stubborn and practical and left the beautiful Frenchman in his home country and got on with my life… until he followed my travels to south-east Asia where I was volunteering, just to ‘catch up’. I mean a 12-hour flight, a couple of border crossing and a hunt for an Aussie in a local hospital (a story for another time!) wasn’t much to ask for a ‘catch up’. But alas I persisted… ‘it’s been nice but I just don’t do long distance sorry’. We parted ways unsure whether we’d see each other again. Until the Frenchman reached out 4 months later and casually asked if I’d be interested in joining him in New York City to live for half a year. Ummm … sure! So off to an even bigger city I went. The Big Apple in all its beauty, grime and subway rats. But alas it was yet again not meant to be. My visa did not allow me to stay longer than 6 months so yet again I was back to Australia and reality.
One of us had to make the move of a lifetime and throw caution to the wind… Well now we’re living in Aus, so you can guess who made that move!
It’s been 8 years since my husband and I met in a uni bar in the Danish town of Aarhus. We got married last August and are expecting our first baby! We’ve come a long way and battled a great deal of adversity, but we are so excited for this next chapter.
This is a whole new adventure for us. We’ve faced extraordinary challenges throughout both our lives, together and apart. We’ve worked hard and partied hard but WOW nothing can prepare you for the journey to parenthood. It’s scary and wonderful, all bundled up in one.
My first trimester was a tough one as many are, with many trips to hospital and a number of scares due to bleeding and pain, riddled with the constant fear that our little guy wasn’t going to make it. Each morning I’d wake up with splitting cramps and shortly after start bleeding, thinking “ok, this is it”. My husband and I were anxiously preparing ourselves and waiting to see if the heartbeat was still there after each bleed. Thankfully we have a little fighter and his heartbeat is strong.
I spent a great deal of my teenage years in hospital so I’m no stranger to the mechanics of a hospital, a little triggered, but I can manage. My husband? Not so much, but he was amazing, and I think those first few months have certainly set us up for the rollercoaster that is pregnancy.
And then there’s all the other stuff…
Can I eat this? Should I drink that? What’s this weird pain from? Why am I crying at an airline ad? My body looks like something from the movie Flubber! Oh my goodness my boobs are amazing! Why isn’t my belly a perfect little bump like you see in the books and movies?? I need a hot dog, right now! My pelvic what?
Oh and of course the big one…. Avoid stress it impacts the unborn baby. Wait what!?
But how do I: hold down my job? Be social? Eat the right foods, walk, sleep, do my pelvic floor exercises without looking like I have a twitch in my face, watch the chemicals I’m exposing myself to, not throw up in public places, not cry at random strangers, not yell at my husband for breathing too loud, stop myself from googling every symptom (that is usually just gas… so much gas!)… and NOT stress? Oh no! Now I’m stressing about the stress all my stress is putting on my unborn baby!!!!
How do I navigate all of this and stay cool, calm and composed? Well I’m hoping this space on pop’d will provide just that… a very frank and open invitation for us all to tackle the exciting and terrifying world of pregnancy in all its forms! I’m really looking forward to sharing my journey, and hearing about yours, in the process.
We’ve got this!
This is just a little reflection on my thoughts through the early stages of my pregnancy, which tend to pay me a visit at ungodly hours of the night!!
As women, our bodies are designed to bring life into this world. To carry on the human race, continue growing and shaping the people of the future… hold up!? Why aren’t we being worshipped, nurtured, respected, bowed down to? Being fed grapes while lounging around expensive spas …. on a global scale??? Oh that’s right if we truly knew our worth, we’d be too much of a threat to the status quo… ok ok I’ll check my fem politics at the door. But food for thought. This body we have is powerful and awe inspiring!
But then there’s the other side. And I believe this side deserves some time and space before I continue on in this little blogosphere . The side after the initial oh shit (either negative or positive or a bit of both) when we see those two lines show up on the pee covered pregnancy stick*, and the reality of it all starts sinking in.
*Side note: is that a subtle way of who ever invented the test to prepare us for the acceptance of bodily fluids to come? I mean that pee soaked stick is still sitting in my bathroom cupboard… gross!
All of a sudden you know you have a little potential life inside you. Hello! there it is… the anxiety… the how do I ensure this tiny little flint of light and hope lives past the first few weeks let alone 9 months and then….. shit the rest of my life!
No one shares with you how common miscarriage is, until you have one and open up about it. It is only when it happens, that women will mention they too have experienced the loss. Some multiple times, some once and some unfortunately never get to see those two lines in the first place, although heartbreakingly anticipate it each month.
And for that reason we keep quiet, we wait in silent anxiety for the weeks to roll around. I’ll use the term ‘silent’ loosely as the first trimester is anything but silent what with all the puking noises, moans and groans from headaches and fatigue or in my case sporadically wailing over tv adds, movies and people’s day to day stories usually about their dogs, cats or dads but you get my sentiment.
I couldn’t understand why I had to suffer in silence! Why couldn’t I let the world in on our secret? On the joyful news of a new bub on the way, of the anxiety I was feeling, of the reasons I was unable to show up to work or make it through a meeting without nodding off. I’m growing a life guys!!! But the more complicated my health and experience became, the more I understood why people did not share.
At 6 weeks, I honestly thought I had a miscarriage. We were sent home from hospital and told to come back in a week to check if there was still anything there that may need to be removed. The amount of bleeding and cramping I was experiencing, and the lack of heartbeat, pointed to an early miscarriage. So we went home and I shared the news with those I told that it was probably going to be a miscarriage.
It was in this moment that I realised why people wait. Nothing can prepare you for the loss you automatically feel and those feelings of guilt that maybe there was something more you could’ve done to help it along. But there isn’t and you couldn’t. For the first time I saw that there was a place in this world for the term ‘it just wasn’t meant to be’. I’ve always hated the term. Particularly when it’s related to loss of a loved one, it’s not helpful. Why was I given them if they just weren’t meant to be?? But in this case, for me personally, it helped because it takes the onus away and leaves the loss for what it is, something unfortunately women have little control over. Fortunately for me this time round he kept on going despite the continuous bleeding.
My wise mother told me, when I was complaining / ranting about the silence we as women are expected to endure while going through early pregnancy: sometimes Anna it is harder for the mother, when things don’t go to plan, to have to explain it to people. To go through that grief publicly and face the person’s excitement for an update, only to tell them it did not survive, then having to hold their empathy and pity on top of your own. In that moment I understood. I understood why women don’t share and wait until they’re over that first milestone around 12 weeks: because it’s more manageable for them personally. In saying this, everyone is different and women need to do what is right for them.
There’s also the tricky side of sharing with the place you spend most of your time, work. I didn’t have a choice in the matter as I was having so much time off and really wanted them to know I wasn’t ‘slacking off” or ‘crazy’, I was just pregnant! I was so fortunate to work in a team of caring and empathetic colleagues (all child trauma counsellors so they have empathy down to a fine art!) who offered the support I needed.
So, let’s be real: the first trimester of pregnancy sucks. It sucks for the physical pain it brings, it sucks for the constant fatigue, the demanding cravings (which are also hilarious), the roller-coaster of emotions, the terrifying dreams, not sure if anyone else has these but my dreams/ night terrors were exactly that …terrifying! The suffering in silence… But the most painful and difficult thing of all is the fear and anxiety of whether or not bub will make it, particularly when you’ve experienced that loss before.
I’d like to acknowledge others own experience of loss and suggest, if you feel comfortable, to share a little heart emoji in honour of this unique loss whether it’s one to represent 5 or 5 to represent those close to you who have experienced it also. The losses are rarely shared and we often go through them feeling very much alone, whether there’s a partner around or not. This is a different type of loss and one that is not easily explained. These women suffer in silence as there is still such a taboo around it and they carry that pain with them forever.
Like I said previously, we women should be worshipped on a global scale! This is something natural our body was designed for and the pain some women go through is immeasurable, silent, heartbreaking pain and THIS is natural! On top of this complicated but challenging and beautiful gift, we are still expected to live up to the beauty standards placed upon us by people out to make money off our made up ‘flaws’… What about praising that expanding bum (which is paving the way for that glorious little bub to enter the world), Honouring and applauding the stretch marks starting to appear across our stomachs, thighs, breast and everywhere else (which indicates healthy growth and expansion and a pretty cosy home for 9 months) and worshipping those swollen feet (which are doing a great job carrying that precious load) instead of tricking us into believing they are unwanted, undesirable and need eradicating above all else.
The first trimester was one hell of a ride and a tough one to do silently, but I’m through it! We just had our 20 week scan, and that made my heart sing! But I’ll tell you all about that next time.
This post is dedicated to the women who have struggled through the first trimester for the first time, or many, and to those who have never been afforded the chance. To your loss, to your strength, to your splendour. We got this.
PS One of the bonuses of sharing my journey, is that I’ve been gifted some great pop’d products! This week, I received these gorgeous pieces, The Essentials Crop and The Full Length Maternity Tights, from Maze Activewear. They are so comfortable! The fabric is thick enough that it holds everything in place, but stretchy enough to make you want to wear it every day!
Shop Maze Activewear here: https://www.popd.com.au/seller/maze/
What a feeling it was to be able to share the news of being pregnant! It’s not necessarily that you can yell it from the roof tops and have the world singing your praises and congratulating you (although people’s responses are so lovely). But the feeling that you are finally out of the tornado… You’ve been swept up out of the darkness and placed back down in a new, and much more exciting, place.
The dust has settled and you’re off on the next part of the journey, your own Yellow Brick Road.
Your destination? The bright shiny lights of the emerald city a.k.a. a newborn baby! But if the Wizard of Oz is anything to go by Nothing is at all what it seems!
One can only hope this analogy falls short regarding the whole Emerald City and the Wonderful Wizard of Oz… as we all know how he turned out! But as a new mum-to-be, I do feel a little Dorothy-esque at the moment: marching on through with little idea as to what may be in store for me next!
When I hit the second trimester, I was thankfully given the “all clear” health -wise almost simultaneously. All of a sudden I had energy back. I could walk to the supermarket without needing a rest every 10 metres I could start Pilates, eat food, move through the city streets and smell things without gagging. I was less bloating and more actual baby bump!
Unfortunately the whole pregnancy brain thing is still going strong… Wasn’t that the scarecrow’s issue in the Wizard of Oz? He was in need of a brain! I’ve done so many stupid things and said so many stupid things and stumbled over SO MANY THINGS; words, footpaths, my own feet, cats, dogs, imaginary boulders… I’ve scraped our car more times than I’ll ever admit to my husband (I insisted that it all happened in one incident… Don’t tell him!). I feel like I need pregnancy insurance for all the dumb things I do and say while growing the next generation. I don’t think I’ll be finding a brain on this Yellow Brick Road anytime soon.
So with the Scarecrow in tow I set off on the next part of the journey. I was eagerly and anxiously awaiting the 20 week scan! The build-up to the scan was nerve-wracking as you just never know what’s floating around in there… And there were many times where I panicked because I was feeling TOO good! I’m not the only one to do that though, am I?
I was staying out late, too often. I was managing my day-to-day TOO well. Was there even anything still in there? Was his little heart still beating? I haven’t felt any kicks or movements. I mean at times I thought I did, but honestly I’m pretty sure it was just gas again! I tried as hard as I could to stay focused on other things. To take each day as it comes.
I guess you could say this is where the Tinman and his search for a heart came to join my journey. I needed the strength of my own heart to get me through this uncertain time, but I also just desperately wanted to see that little heart beating on a screen!!!
So off we went to the 20 week scan, with the Tinman in tow in search of that heart. What we found made my own heart sing! My heart nearly burst watching our little bub move around on the screen. His perfect little toes and his cute little body, an alien he was no more! We saw his heart beating, the blood pumping around his little body, his profile, the shape of his face and his little features… Well glimpses of them before the 3d image turned his face into a busted lava lamp! Poor kid.
So we are a little further along the road now, with peace of mind that our little man is growing well. My brain is still alongside the Scarecrows: absent! And my little baby’s heart is still a cause of anxiety, although a great deal less.
Now I believe this is where the Lion joins my party. The Lion that is in search of courage. I need the courage to keep going, to educate myself and prepare myself for what lies ahead. The birth is looking more likely now than ever, an inevitable task that quite frankly frightens the bejesus out of me. So here I am arm in arm with my own Scarecrow, Tinman and Lion, with Toto by my side (I guess that’s my partner right? Loyal, supportive and is not immune to the temptation of a treat). Together, we’re making our way towards the Emerald City and the Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Oh Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore – and isn’t it amazing!
Pregnant and parenting mummas: I need your help!
My chocolate and sugar intake is out of control! Now before people who know me pipe in… yes it has and was far before I fell pregnant, BUT I have reached a new extreme in pregnancy and it’s actually embarrassing!
Can anyone give advice on easy healthy snacks I can have that: will give me an energy boost, not take long to prepare/no time to prepare and have the sweet, delightful and exact same taste, texture, smell as an Easter egg?
So really all I’m asking for is a chocolate sweet that is healthy, guilt free, won’t cause me to up my maternity wear size before I need to and well… Is anything an Easter egg/block of chocolate WITHOUT the whole unhealthy part? That’s not too much to ask, right?
Currently I can down a large sized Easter egg in the time between walking from the supermarket to starting my car in parking lot. I WISH I was joking 🤭🤫
Looking forward to hearing your advice!!
Last week I took my pregnant-self on a little ‘friend getaway’ to Sydney where I spent days and nights with friends talking, laughing, eating and dancing. I packed light… really light. I had one pair of ‘normal jeans’ that still fitted over my bump. Pfft maternity wear? I don’t need that yet! Up until day three of my trip… And then “bam”! I popped! Literally. I was popping that zip every couple of steps. Don’t get me wrong, I was also dying to be able to wear maternity clothing as:
1. I hear it’s comfy as hell (well my Maze activewear certainly is!) and
2. It means my little man is growing and well that’s just the cutest and sweetest thing ever!
But like I said I had to say au revoir to my pair of pants coz members of the general public were getting too many flashes of my pubic mound!
My feelings around letting go of these pants have been surprisingly mixed! Initially I was ecstatic because I was finally showing on the outside what I’d been feeling on the inside, growth and expansion in every sense of the word. The beauty of the pregnant female form and just the sheer magnitude of what women go through has always been something I’ve admired. From the incredible physical changes and challenges, to the new view on life and love. I have always believed wholeheartedly that women are the true warriors of this planet, that our strength, our grace and our magic is something ethereal. I look at my friends and family before me who have birthed children into this world in complete and utter awe. They are beautiful, majestic goddamn queens!
But there have been moments since ‘letting go of my pants’ where I catch a glimpse of my beautiful majestic queenliness in a reflection and I realize this belief doesn’t always stand true for myself… I’m shookethed… “What? How dare you!? This isn’t how I raised you!” screams the little feminist queen in my heart, dressed in head to toe couture eleganza, oozing glam and fierce fiery femme fatal realness.
Yeah, what’s this about?
Admittedly I get glimpses of my growing baby bod and at times I ashamedly worry and stress at its transformation and expansion. Little messages showing their nasty head, questioning if I’ll ever go back to the way I was before. Then I feel ashamed for treating myself in that way and curse myself for not being a stronger woman! I’m embarrassed that this is even something I am giving time and energy to; that this has become a focus at all in this incredible and humbling experience. Where the hell is this coming from and how the hell am I and my little feminist queen letting this enter into my psyche?
Upon further examination it is completely obvious, and something I’ve even spoken of before in a past blog. That old chestnut… main stream media and societal expectations. This is all I’ve got to go by on the daily, the pop up articles in my newsfeed about the latest outfit on Megan Markle, the inability for some B grade personality to ‘lose her baby weight’ blah blah blah, the list goes on. Pregnant women are rarely visible in media apart from a target for ridicule and judgement, from the Kardashians to the Royals and all in between.
This was it! This was what I was inadvertently being exposed to, not by choice and not once did I seek it out, but this was what was visible, this was the source of my ‘catch me unaware’ self-esteem crash.
Self-love is complex at the best of times but with such rapid changes happening in front of your very eyes it’s as if you need to be on full alert to negative external influences crashing their way into your perfect little female warrior bubble. Filter out the external mainstream rhetoric of what a pregnant woman is supposed to be and inject some of my own self-love and the self-love messages of some amazing women out there selling positivity and realness whether through Instagram, blogs, social circles and/or women focused services in the community. These are the messages that should be saturating my news feeds, magazine covers in supermarket lines and billboards!
*Sidenote: To fill our newsfeeds & hearts with POSITIVE and REAL messages about pregnancy & motherhood, please drop the link of any amazing women out there selling positivity and realness whether through Instagram, blogs, social circles and community circles*
I am constantly reminding myself of my worth, my magic and my all-round fierceness daily, just so these external messages don’t penetrate my self-worth. I’ll stand butt naked in the mirror and just stare in awe at how forking fabulous I look and how insanely beautiful this female form is. I’m embracing my new-found love of maternity wear, owning my space and giving the little queen in my heart a platform: a diamond encrusted throne to command self-love and ensure I find my way through the bullshit that is mainstream media. Because Anna this is just silly, a waste of space, time and energy and you need to get back to growing that precious life and embracing every minute of it! Plus… now that I’ve ‘gone maternity’ I don’t think I’ll ever go back!
I’ve totally got this.
PS One of the bonuses of sharing my journey, is that I’ve been gifted some great pop’d products! This week, I’m embracing some ridiculously comfortable maternity wear from Chic Maternity, including the gorgeous Ava Maxi Dress. I look forking fierce bebe!!!
I’ve also set up Mood Trader’s pregnancy inspiration cards on my bedside table. They are a perfect daily reminder of my worth, my magic and my all-round fierceness!
💖 Shop Chic Maternity: https://www.popd.com.au/seller/chic-maternity/
💖 Shop Mood Trader’s Mama Musings’ pregnancy inspiration cards:https://www.popd.com.au/…/mama-musing-pregnancy-inspiratio…/
I am (pregnant) woman hear me roar! Even if it is completely unnecessary and a total over reaction…
So how are your pregnant hormones going? Good? Yeah me too… said no pregnant woman ever! I mean I’ve heard of women who don’t get sick, who cruise on through their pregnancy like it’s the best experience in the world – which is awesome! But surely you didn’t escape the little beasts pulling at your heart strings every couple of days (or even hours), stepping in to take over your emotional responses to everything and anything? I mean that’s a non-negotiable right?
It has been for me. The ‘little brats’ have been stepping up and playing all kinds of games with my emotions. I picture them as those weird knucklehead toys from the 90’s; just a bunch of them running my internal system sporadically throughout the week.
CAUTION! Can cause extreme highs, extreme lows, fits of rage, fits of tears, fits of laughter and fits of all of the above.
I like to think I’m a pretty cool cucumber at the best of times. You know that ‘carefree, easygoing, girl next door type of vibe. A ‘no worries’, ‘no problem’, ‘anytime’ kinda gal… I can hear the pffts and eye rolls from friends and family echoing in my head as I type… ok ok so I’m not, you know, ‘max chill’ all of the time but I can be reasonable. BUTTTTTT this pregnancy thing got me all kinds of cray cray!! To the point where after one of these ‘episodes’ I am sitting stunned in a frozen state of bewilderment like… umm did I just do that?
Recently, there was an incident that left me physically shaking with rage.
A bit of context: I’ve had a really rough patch over the past month or so regarding my last place of work. I finished up about a month ago and thought I was doing fine. Nope! Clearly, I was NOT OK with how everything went down there… and my little knuckleheads made sure I knew it. I spent a whole day in this consistent state of heightened rage. I mean this with all sincerity: this is not me. I get mad at injustice but I’m able to put other things in perspective pretty damn quick.
Not this little doozy. I had to excuse myself from the office because I would get this wave of “fuck you, fuck this’ scream impulse. At one point I literally left a room and screamed into my sleeve! I felt like one of those intoxicated hotheads outside a night club just bouncing up and down on the spot waiting for someone to look at me the wrong way. So, bear with me on what happens next…
I called into the supermarket to get a few things. Of course the stuff I wanted wasn’t on special… ‘Fucking fascists, making me pay full price for something? Forget it. Lousy corporate entities exploiting local farmers and businesses, having their god damn monopolies. Why am I even in here? I should be kicking this shit over.’ And so on and so forth. I get to the counter, after waiting in line ‘patiently’ another woman walks up. In my head I think ‘oh no love… don’t you dare, I see you walking up in here, too close to my spot in the line, nope, no way, you are not going to cut in front, mm mm hell no, don’t mess with me…’. And Boom… she does.
My rage rises, the knuckleheads align, ready for the signal. I’m so overcome with rage my first attempt is this weird hissing sound…. Embarrassing. Try again.
I snap, louder than necessary with this sharp disapproving mother tone, “Excuse me?”!!
The girl looks up at me shocked, my eyes blazing, blood rushing to my face ready to snap back if she wants to fight it… and then I start to register, I’m standing right in front of the magazines. She wasn’t cutting she was just after her daily dose of gossip.
Just let it go, a normal sane person would think. But not my little pregnant mind, I was still ready for a fight. I obviously kept this to myself and let her be on her way, but man did I slam my groceries down hard on that self-service check out… I showed them, I showed them all!
I was raging inside over a misunderstanding in a checkout line.
I cooled off by the time I got in my car…. But a pregnant cool off so… polished off a crunchie bunny while sitting in my idle car crying. You know, the usual. I looked up from the empty wrapper and locked eyes with magazine girl as she left the supermarket. Raised my eyebrows in a ‘hey’ kind of way. Wiped the tears, chucked the car in reverse and headed on home.
The story seems anticlimactic purely because it is. There is no point apart from the fact that these pregnancy hormones got me hella cray cray. This is just one example, I have so many others that are equally ridiculous and each time, about 15 minutes post episode I sit startled at my capacity to go to these places.
The knuckleheads are still going strong. I’m just embracing them now. My husband is fully aware of them but not wise to their unpredictable nature yet. He leaves a room and returns to me crying. He goes to the toilet and receives an average of 4-10 cute baby animal memes. He lets me curse at the pots and pans, laugh uncontrollably at him hurting himself or demand 1000x “I love yous” before he leaves the house/bedroom/bed. Just another exciting little pregnancy quirk.
I’ve still ‘got this’, I think…?
PS One of the bonuses of sharing my journey, is that I’ve been gifted some great pop’d products! This week, I’m rocking the Miss Vee maternity top from the beautiful, vintage-inspired, maternity range Mama’s All That
Shop the Mamas All That range at:https://www.popd.com.au/seller/mamas_all_that/
My husband and I opted to learn the sex of our little bub early for the simple reason of just knowing. It wasn’t so we could prepare or deck the room in colors of gender… I am actually strongly opposed to this notion (insert my mother’s eye roll here). My friends were not surprised when I stated I would be having a ‘sex reveal’ not ‘gender reveal’ party where everyone would be biting into a piece of cake filled with penises or vaginas! Needless to say, I didn’t have a party. Instead we just told people I had a little penis inside me… however this was also a little problematic…. So, for the sake of keeping this confusion free I caved and shared we were having a boy!
I have an honest and somewhat confusing admission to make though… To be fair, both my partner and I do. We did not believe we had a preference for what we would have. All we wanted was a healthy bub who we would love unconditionally. However, when we found out we were having a little boy, I am abashed to admit I wasn’t prepared for the news. My feelings surrounding this are confusing to articulate, but there was a slight feeling of burden and worry upon hearing the news.
A girl I knew. A girl I could relate to. I (sort of) know a girl’s struggle, the world she faces… but a boy? Honestly my immediate reaction was ‘Shit… We are bringing another white man’ into the world and this admittedly frightened me. This is a big responsibility and one we do not take lightly.
This may read a little neurotic to some… Obviously we were ecstatic, but from where I stand and from what I’ve witnessed, learnt and worked with day in day out, society has a MASSIVE gender problem.
How do you raise a boy in a world where they are still being told to ‘toughen up’? Or that doing something ‘like a girl’ is still considered an insult? That showing emotion and sensitivity is a weakness, unappealing and unattractive? How do you raise a boy in the face of a media empire that continues to prioritize straight white male voices and their misogynistic ideals? How do you raise a boy in a country where its own Prime Minister at International Women’s Day states womens’ success shouldn’t come at the expense of others (aka men)!!!??? Where our news headlines each week are tallying the number of women killed by family violence (currently sitting at 14 btw) and it isn’t considered a national crisis, a priority!
Look, this is and always has been an issue I am passionate about. I have dedicated my career to working in fields that are attempting to address the gender bias and stereotyping of men, women and non-binary people but arrrrr!!!!!! I tell ya I was not prepared for the rollercoaster of emotions after my ‘sex’ reveal!
But you know what eased it? My beautiful sensitive husband, who like me, shed a tear at the news and validated my fears of this responsibility but held me close and shared that this little boy (presuming he identifies as a boy) would be a boy that made space for others. That he would know his place in the world and hold out a hand to bring others to his level. That his heart would be as big as his mothers. That his mind as open as his parents encouraged. That he would grow up in a world that supported him/her/them to be exactly who he/she/they truly felt he/she/they could be. That he would accept criticism and learn from mistakes, constantly striving to be better and do better. That he would gravitate towards like-minded people but not turn away from the ignorant. That he will say something if he sees something and fights the fight that others are too emotionally drained to do themselves.
I hold solace in the fact that my son will be raised by a good man, and that his father holds these values. That his uncles on his mother’s side are good men who hold these values, that his uncle on his father’s side also upholds these values. That my son will be surrounded by positive male role models whose actions match their words. I hold solace in the fact that schools are pushing for programs to address the imbalance, that society is starting to question and push back, to speak out, to encourage all people regardless of difference.
So, to my little bub, if anything, my initial concern showed us only how much we care, how dedicated we are to raise you right, to ensuring the best for you. Our commitment to this will never falter. We love you so much already and cannot wait to meet you and to share our world with you, as broken as it is at times. My only ask is…. Please educate yourself and think twice before joining some right-wing cult… I mean as your parents I know we need to support you but we have our limits!
We’ve got this,
Anna with the support of my son’s wonderful father, uncles & the other amazing men in the world
The fear of childbirth.
It hit me hard after the first trimester when I realised our lil bub was healthy and we would really be travelling this parenthood path. I surprised myself by becoming terrified of the physical act of childbirth.
Why though? Is it because I’d never thought seriously about it? Maybe.
Is it because we just aren’t exposed to child birth as regularly as we were in the past? I’d say that is part of it.
Is it because movies and media portray it in a way that is unrelatable? For sure.
Is it because of my mistrust in the medical system? Probably. I’ve had a few experiences too many where a wrong decision has led to the death of family members, so there is definitely something in that.
Is it all the horror stories you hear from anyone and everyone about their/their partners birthing experience? Most definitely … we’ve all heard the excruciating labour stories, the forceps, the tears (vaginal kind not eyeball kind) and immediately clenched our thighs together so hard we could crack a walnut!
I remember in the earlier weeks of pregnancy I was out for dinner with my bestie/student midwife (convenient!), Heidi. We were talking about birthing options and I found myself breaking down in tears (eyeballs not vagina… Stupid English language). I had this overwhelming feeling of: ‘I can’t do this. I don’t think my body can handle it’. I was frozen with fear of the magnitude of it all.
Heidi, being the ridiculously soothing human that she is, talked me through it. And I, being the diligent social worker I am, booked in to a specialised psychologist appointment to work through these ‘very’ real feelings of fear. They were all tied up in past experiences, stories of others and the over emphasis our society places on risk, intervention and a disregard for women’s autonomy.
We’ve come a long way since women were dying in child birth. There are now systematic medical interventions to aid the mother and baby, but this system also left me with questions. Why was I hearing mothers say: “I didn’t realise I could’ve asked for…”, or “ If only I’d known I could’ve opted to…”? I thought interventions were only to be used if there was risk to baby and mother, or if the woman consented or planned for them? The realisation that perhaps women weren’t completely autonomous genuinely instigated more fear in me.
This is where Heidi introduced me to Rhea Dempsey and her book “Birth with confidence”. If you haven’t read it I would highly recommend it (you can buy it at https://www.popd.com.au/…/birth-with-confidence-savvy-choi…/). This book opened up a whole new way of viewing birth, pain and advocating for the birth you want. Rhea challenges women to reframe pain and think of pain as power. I’m still reading it at the moment so I haven’t quite harnessed the whole ‘pain is power’ thing yet. Right now I am sitting at: ‘pain could be bearable and probably won’t kill me’ on the pain continuum… But I’ve still got time.
Yep! The horror stories of birth seem to be never ending! I hear from mothers the trauma, the interventions and the slow recovery, but then in the same breath these mothers are sharing the exciting news of their second pregnancy! Huh?! But you said… But I thought… But how could you? Go back for a second? A third? It blows my mind, but also eases it… Ok, so even though you’re split/stitched from one hole to the other like a ‘join the dots’ and you’ll probably never be able to sneeze without peeing again, you’re going for round two! I mean the only logical thing to conclude is, motherhood is forking awesome and that our magical brains don’t remember pain.
It’s been a couple of months since my ‘fear freak out’ episode, but seriously, what was I going to do? Keep him in there forever? Take “home schooled” to the ultimate next level: “womb schooled” (yeah sorry that’s terrible, even for my standards).
My initial fears had subsided, but I was then faced with the issue of how I was going to ensure I received the care I wanted for the birth of our baby. This was when midwife student Heidi stepped in and gently suggested I look into “My midwives”. I say gently because she knows me too well and I can’t be ‘told’ anything.
“My midwives”, for those of you who don’t know, is a private midwives clinic that follows you through your pregnancy. They will be your midwife for your birth in the hospital (Northern) and will support you for six weeks after birth (every day if you want it!). They are your own personal advocate. Finding this service has been the last piece in my birth education puzzle. I felt held, I felt safe and I felt listened to. Each day I am feeling more and more empowered and even more excited to move towards birth and motherhood.
I actually honestly feel like I’ve almost got this!
I’ll share more about my journey with “my midwives” in another post, although I recognise that every woman is different and will find what suits her best.
If you do feel alone and need guidance, I would also strongly suggest engaging with a student midwife! Did you know you could even do that?! Super cool, huh. Just like Heidi, they are looking for more women to support and follow. I would never have known or found some of the services, books and podcasts I have without her insider expertise.
We’ve got this
As I mentioned, you can buy Rhea Dempsey – Birthing with Confidence. at https://www.popd.com.au/…/birth-with-confidence-savvy-choi…/
We Made IT!!! Third trimester baby! The rollercoaster is yet to slow down, straighten out and come to a halt… however the ‘catch me unaware’ moments are going strong… safe to say I WON’T be purchasing the photographic evidence of these moments at the end of the ride. They will be a series of me with a look of either sheer terror or glee flashing across my face.
The third trimester so far has been good… made better by my very evident growing bump and true to form, cheeks. Whenever I put on weight it goes straight to my cheeks… both sets! Bubble butt and bubble face to match.
Highlight of my week you ask? Much to report between posts? No not a thing… everything’s been peachy… oh wait there was that one time… Well, day… Well technically, one and a half days that were somewhat interesting. The infamous gestational diabetes testing!!! WOOOOO!!!! Everyone talks about this test! It’s time-consuming, a little anxiety-provoking and apparently comes with a really disgusting drink you must have to test your levels. So I prepared myself for the worst. My day off on Friday would be D day, or should I say GD day!?
My prep started the night before. Fasting… Sounds simple. Ha! Not for moi! I worked late so was pushing my cut off time for food. I had to drop my work car back at the office and then drop the keys in a safe and head on home to eat my last meal. Yeah yeah… I know it sounds like I was heading for the electric chair, but how about YOU try starving yourself while pregnant! The thought alone makes my squished stomach grumble. So I finish dropping off a carload of kids and drive back to the office (enter ‘pregnant/baby brain’). I lock up the car and put the keys in the safe, head on over to my car and… Shit! Where are my car keys? I look over at the work car… Shit! I left the car lights on! I walk over to the office to try and retrieve the car keys… Shit! I don’t have my office key! I slump on to the steps of my office… SHIT!!! My own keys are in the bloody cupholder of the locked work car, whose lights are shining into the office where the keys of the work car are locked in a safe box, only accessible with office keys that I don’t have! SHITTTTTT!!! And I’m hungry… SHITTTTTTTTTTT!!
After unsuccessfully brainstorming ideas on how to solve my problem, I shamefully contact my boss and let her know what I have done. Thankfully, my boss (who is an earth angel) came to save my starving arse, with a complimentary trip to Macca’s drive through (like I said: ANGEL) No judgement please. I was desperate. I had 20 minutes to eat before fasting and I sure as hell wasn’t fasting through daylight hours the next day… Crisis averted. Carry on, pregnant nut case carry on.
So I finally got myself home and collapsed into bed. Idiot! I should know by now that ‘collapsing into bed’ shortly after a fatty meal will most definitely bring on the dreaded pregnancy reflux! It was bad. I don’t think I’ve ever burped this much in my life. 8 year-old me would be so impressed with my belching abilities. Anyway yet another restless night sleep later and I was up ready to face this dreaded test. Of course all I could think about was food.
My drive to the doctor was filled with classical music, me singing to my little bub and a couple of pretty intense cussing sessions to inconsiderate city drivers followed by me holding my bump and apologising to baby for mummy’s highly out-of-character road rage.
The fasting continues. Nothing like a sterile waiting room to sooth a starving woman’s sensibilities. I finally get jabbed. Ohhh I’ve heard about this part. The dreaded drink. The nurse hands me this bottle of liquid to drink. She turns to organise my blood test and I start sipping. With her back to me she starts sharing that “it’s important to drink the drink…” but trails off suddenly as she turns to look at me bewildered. I’m sitting there finishing off the last little bit of liquid. I place the bottle down looking back at her wondering “What’s up?”
The nurse continues: “I was going to say it’s important to drink the drink within 15 minutes as most women take too long as they struggle to get through it”. “Really?” I ask surprised. “I thought it was delicious”. She looks at me dumb founded again. “I guess I have a bit of a sweet tooth” I shrug. She smiled at me sympathetically. Told me to wait for another hour for another test and then another hour after that for my final test. But all I could fixate on was her sympathetic smile. Is it a bad thing that I enjoyed the drink? Have I just given away embarrassing/concerning information about myself? Does my ease of drinking such a ‘sickly sweet’ drink mean I could actually end up with diabetes?! I then spent the next hour of waiting and fasting obsessing over my sugar intake. I gave Google a really good work out but came to the conclusion that I would just have to wait for the results and go from there. Pretty level-headed way of dealing with it, I’d say, considering…
So I’m now awaiting my results. I read up on Gestational Diabetes on Evidence Based Birth before I had the test, which was really helpful, but, a starving baby brain does things to you I tell ya!
Baby and I are cruising along beautifully. I’m just so in love with my growing bub and body and feeling his little movements. My body aches but it is completely manageable because I know it is making space and getting prepared for him to enter the world. What an incredible thing! Reframing pain is my friend but I’d also really like to make friends with a pregnancy pillow and regular massages… because the aches are very REAL.
Anyway just a little update for you all. Talk soon xxxx
PS One of the bonuses of sharing my journey, is that I’ve been gifted some great pop’d products! I spend a lot of time living in these gorgeous pieces, The Essentials Crop and The Full Length Maternity Tights, from Maze Activewear. They are so comfortable! The fabric is thick enough that it holds everything in place, but stretchy enough to make you want to wear it every day!
Shop Maze Activewear here: https://www.popd.com.au/seller/maze/