You will be forced to go to antenatal classes at the hospital in your third trimester

When I was 34 weeks pregnant, we went to one of those antenatal classes at our local private hospital. Six frightened couples sat in a room as a midwife showed us graphic videos of vaginal and c-section births.

Along with learning horrific details of the “miracle” of childbirth, we learnt how to wrap a newborn like a burrito in one of those stripy blankets that every new parent steals when they leave the hospital.

We also temporarily blocked out what we had learnt to digest some morning tea.

Note: This is a fake baby. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME WITH A REAL BABY!

Baby table for morning tea.

Each couple was asked which obstetrician was looking after them so that the midwife could comment on their differed methods of performing c-sections and vaginal deliveries.

Three obstetricians were mentioned. For anonymity, lets refer to them as Dr Brown, Dr Orange, and Dr Green (ours).

On c-sections:

Midwife: Dr Brown will give you staples, Dr Orange will give you stitches, *midwife looks at us* Dr Green will give you glue….

Us: *we have surprised looks on our faces*.

Midwife: Yeah, Dr Green goes to all of these conferences, talks to sales reps and buys all the new stuff to try.

On vaginal deliveries:

Midwife: Dr Brown will deliver the baby, Dr Orange will let your partner feel the head as it comes out, *midwife looks at us* Dr Green will ask your partner to put on some gloves and help him to deliver the baby.

Which leads to my next point…

You’ve chosen the most eccentric obstetrician. And it’s amazing.

Every consultation with my obstetrician was both entertaining and educational. Along with discussing the progress of my pregnancy and growing baby, we covered topics ranging from politics to philosophy.

On old wives’ tales around gender:

Dr Green: So I have your NIPT test results. Do you want to know the gender?

Us:  Yes please

Dr Green: Ok, I’m not going to tell you the gender, I’m going to make you guess. The results say “XX”.

Us: A girl!

Me: I thought I was having a girl

Dr Green: Why?

Me: Because I’ve been craving orange juice and sweet food…

Dr Green: Rubbish!

Me: Maternal instinct?

Dr Green: No such thing!

On philosophy:

*Dr Green gives me an ultrasound. We all look at the screen*

Me: Why is my foetus using my uterus like a trampoline???

Dr Green: At this stage of development, they discover that they have nerves and just start bouncing. *gets all philosophical* I can’t tell you any more about WHY this is or WHAT they intend to do in life. I can’t tell you if they are going to grow up to be a great virtuoso like Mozart. They might do that. But I do not know these things. 

On post US election results:                    

Baby Donald Trump costume. WHO WOULD BUY THIS COSTUME FOR THEIR BABY???

Dr Green: *looking at my ultrasound scan results* Everything looks fine here. Hang on, it says that bub is a Trump supporter.

Me: You’ve got the wrong results then! That’s not our child.

Dr Green: Oh no, my mistake. Phew!

On Latin:

Be like Marilyn!

Our consultation had finished and we were just about to open the door to leave the room.

Dr Green: Do either of you speak Latin? *points to Latin phrase on his whiteboard

Us: No. *confused looks on our faces*

Dr Green: My son speaks Latin. He wrote this phrase. It says, ‘Never leave the house without underwear’. Apparently it is really funny in Latin, but doesn’t translate as well into English. Anyways have a nice day and don’t leave the house without underwear!

Good advice.

On statistics:

 Dr Green:  Do you eat McDonalds?

Us: Yes, occasionally?

*Dr Green and Clint get into a deep discussion on statistics and the Big Mac Index*

Me: ???

On beards:

Beard World Championship 2013 entrant (THIS COMPETITION ACTUALLY EXISTS??)

*Dr Green looks at Clint*

Dr Green: You should grow a beard.

Clint: I’m not allowed.

Me: I don’t like guys with beards!

Dr Green: You like me don’t you? I have a beard!

Side note: I’ve actually stumbled on something amazing. For more beards who have competed in competitions, check out https://www.nationalbeardchampionships.com 

Beard in the shape of a birdcage.

Stripes are the pregnant lady’s uniform

The fashion industry always mentions that wearing clothes with horizontal stripes make you look larger. So when your waist is expanding at a rapid rate, and you’re feeling like a whale, the last thing you would want to buy is a stripy garment.

For some reason, the very minimal maternity clothes available seem to contain predominately stripes.

If a Kardashian does it, it’s a thing.

In the antenatal class, 5 out of 6 of the pregnant women were wearing stripes. I know that isn’t a robust sample size, but that is a staggering 83% of pregnant women in a single room.

If you do manage to make it the whole way through pregnancy without purchasing a stripy piece of clothing, you deserve a medal. It’s a challenge almost as impossible as going to IKEA without an impulse buy!

The “I’m not going to be one of those parents who gets sucked in and buys an expensive pram” view will be ignored

We spent way too much on a pram. One thing led to another and we realised that we REALLY needed a coffee cup holder and REALLY needed a mesh opening at the back of the pram for extra air flow for bubby and that our new bundle of joy deserves to be pushed around in a set of wheels fit for a princess. So that is why we bought a Silver Cross. The Rolls Royce of prams, the British brand who happens to make prams for THE royal family.

Our Silvercross pram. It really is a lovely pram.

Princess Diana in her Silvercross pram.

The baby shop industry cleverly targets new parents to overspend on baby products by throwing around the words “safe” and “comfort”. Along with the pram, we were also sucked into purchasing a baby car seat with “superior side impact cushioning”  which provides “ultimate comfort” that could probably survive impact by a train. We decided that we really needed to have this car seat just in case.

You are more annoying than a vegan when it comes to ordering food at a restaurant.

You can’t eat shellfish, soft cheeses, or deli meats. You can eat deli meats and soft cheeses only if they are cooked. You definitely cannot drink alcohol, only because no one has tested a safe limit. You cannot even eat LETTUCE for goodness sake, unless you thoroughly wash it at home.

You can eat certain fish though, but you have to categorise what fish you are eating as you can only eat certain types of fish once a week or once a fortnight. The easiest option is to just cut out fish, as it is much easier than channelling your inner Rex Hunt whenever you want to eat fish and chips. If you do end up ordering the fish and chips, you end up sounding like a complete yuppie:

“Is the fish that you serve in your fish and chips local?”

“Where is the fish from?”

“Was the fish swimming in clean water?”

“Was the fish caught today?”

“Did the fish experience a satisfying life before it was caught?”

You will have another level of mood swings. And may lose it!

I will say that I’m mostly a calm person who rarely loses her cool. Pregnancy changed that. I experienced moments where my subconscious would usually tell me to chill and move on, but suddenly these minor things became difficult to shake.

My explanation for this is what I’ve been referring to as Pregnancy Tourette’s.

Definition of Pregnancy Tourette’s: an uncontrollable loss of a pregnant lady’s cool whereby a recipient(s) is subjected to a mad outburst. It may or may not include expletives.

Occasion #1: Catching the train from Wynyard to Town Hall station in the city is always a ‘survival of the fittest’ activity. Being pregnant, I needed to make sure I had (what I called) a ‘bump buffer’ as a maternal instinct to keep pushy commuters away from my baby bump. A lady failed to acknowledge my ‘bump buffer’ and invaded my personal space. Looking back with a rational mind, there was probably enough room for both of us, but since she bumped the bump, I yelled at her with a “Do you mind? I’m pregnant, you idiot!”.

Occasion #2: Clint and I decided to go out for dinner to a new restaurant that opened in Wollongong to give it a try. It was a disaster. The service was appalling. The steak I ordered was undercooked, the baked potato was hard. Yes, I’ve had bad experiences at restaurants before, and I usually ignore things that I can deal with such as an undercooked steak without fuss, but not when pregnant. I called the manager over. I was the definition of passive aggressive. “Do you think that it is acceptable for your staff to not know what is on the menu?”, “Are you honestly proud to serve THAT brown-looking salad?”, “Can you honestly say that this steak is cooked medium-well like I asked?”. He didn’t respond very well and was blaming me rather than accepting the criticism and apologising. Then my Pregnancy Tourette’s came out in full force with a Gordan Ramsey-esque reply: “The service was shit. The food was shit. The whole dining experience was shit”.

Lesson: Don’t argue with a pregnant woman.

Everyone suddenly feels that it is OK to comment on your expanding waistline.

At every antenatal appointment, you are plonked on a set of scales for a weigh-in. Reading out those numbers to the midwife at monthly/fortnightly/weekly visits was like the opposite of The Biggest Loser. After I tried to digest the number, I nervously read it out to the midwife. She always seemed delighted by the reading, and would reply with something along the lines of: “Wow, you’ve gained 2 kgs this week. That’s great!”.  As those numbers continued to rise, I would contemplate to myself: “If I have a 3kg baby, does that mean that the placenta weighs 15kgs?”.

It seems though that many people have something to say about your figure during pregnancy. I guess it is difficult to hide an extra 20 kgs or so that has appeared over a 9-month period, but it does not make you feel any better.

Here is a list of comments that were actually said to me about my size during pregnancy:

“When I was pregnant, I didn’t put on THAT much weight”

“Oh my goodness, you look so fat”

“You don’t actually look THAT fat”

“Your bump is very compact”

“You’re ready to pop!”

“How is your buoyancy? Has it changed?”

“Oh look how fat you are!”

“You better watch what you eat so that you don’t get too fat!”

“Are you sure that there is only one in there?”

If any of these comments were said to a non-pregnant woman, they would probably punch you in the face. Pregnant or not-pregnant, commenting on a woman’s body can be hurtful. Comments such as “You’re looking great” is a better option if compelled to discuss a pregnant (or non-pregnant) woman’s appearance.

You can be in labour and not even know it

I imagined labour to be something like this:

Therefore, when I casually went to my routine obstetrician appointment at 39 weeks, I thought that bub was still going to hang out in the womb for a while.

My obstetrician checked my dilation

Dr Green: Uh, you are already in labour. Do you have any pain.

Me: What? No, not really. Just a dull period-like pain.

Dr Green: Do you have any plans for tomorrow?

Me: Um no, I’m 39 weeks pregnant….

Dr Green: Ok, go into hospital tomorrow. You are going to have a baby!

Even though we had been waiting 9 months for this moment, that actually came as a shock!

You will laugh a baby out.

I thought the whole childbirth experience would look something like this:

Instead it started like this:

At 7.30am on the 22nd February 2017, we arrived at the private hospital before being escorted to the birthing suite. We sat in the room calmly and quietly in anticipation.  The nurses had strapped me to hospital equipment and had stuck needles in various parts of my body.

There was one noise, and it was a machine that went “PING”. Was there something wrong with the baby? or me? Then the sound disappeared. Then came back. Turns out the “PING” sound meant that the machine was working rather than indicating that there was a problem.

My obstetrician arrived at 9.30am to induce labour. With his witty sense of humour, he started with a knock knock joke.

Dr Green: Knock Knock

Me: Who’s there?

Dr Green: Nicholas

Me: Nicholas who?

Dr Green: Knickerless girls shouldn’t climb trees

Induction complete, and a gush of water that could probably fill a fish tank spilled outside of me. If this had happened in woolies, there is no way that I could have ignored it. Thank goodness I was in the hospital!

Then, my obstetrician departed for a bit, and the comedy continued.

Dr Green: I’m just going to pop out for a bit to make some babies

Me: ???

Dr Green: I have 8 eggs in the fridge that I need to fertilise.

Labour induced, the time until meeting our bub became closer and closer. Then the contractions began. It was like lifting a weight until you start to shake then the relief when you put it down again.  Like period pain on steroids combined with a bipolar uterus. You feel awful, then ok again.

As someone who vowed to never have an epidural, and only changed my mind on doctor’s orders, the anaesthetist couldn’t come fast enough. The anaesthetist drew on my back. I felt like a less glamorous version of the model in Man Ray’s Le Violon d’ingres. I was probably as still as the model when the anaesthetist was performing the epidural, as I was terrified of becoming paralysed (a rare complication, but the anaesthetists always mention it before they go ahead with the procedure).

Le Violon d’ingres, Man Ray, 1924.

Then the epidural began to work. There was relief. I was like the clocks in Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory (and Salvador Dali himself too). I felt relaxed and high as a kite. I just laid there like a starfish in this euphoric state.

Persistence of Memory, Salvador Dali, 1931.

A couple of hours had passed, and the midwife checked to see how soon it would be before bub was going to come into the world. Still only 4 cms, it was going to be a long wait….

30 minutes later, the midwife came back to do another check. She seemed surprised and frantically rang my obstetrician to come back.

Midwife: You’re 10 cms. Bub is coming out now, you need to start pushing.

Me: ???

I couldn’t feel anything from my neck to my toes. I was completely numb. Like a piece of lead.

My attempts to push can only be described as a failed attempt in trying to get a note out of a trombone. Which made Clint and the midwife laugh. Which made me laugh. Which activated the correct pelvic floor muscles to push a baby out. Which made us all laugh that I was laughing a baby out and the laughing cycle continued. My obstetrician arrived, and he told me to keep laughing after the midwife told him that it was working. After 10 minutes of laughing, and a little help from a tiny vacuum, our precious baby girl entered the world at 1.21pm, weighing 3.09 kgs and measuring 51.5cm.

Sophie Amelia, b. 22nd February 2017.

Sophie Amelia has changed our lives for the better and we are so happy to have started our own little family together.