‘He felt my ab­domen again. It took a while to find my uterus – the baby was ly­ing un­usu­ally deep in­side me’

Cosmopolitan (South Africa) - - #REALTALK -

so I booked an ap­point­ment with a new doc­tor. I gave him my IBS story and he ex­am­ined my ab­domen. Then he gave me a hard look. He was go­ing to do a pro­fes­sional preg­nancy test, he said fi rmly – just to be sure. When he an­nounced that it was pos­i­tive, I thought my heart would jump out of my chest. How on earth?

‘He felt my ab­domen again. It took a while to fi nd my uterus – the baby was ly­ing un­usu­ally deep in­side me, he said, and the shape of my hips and the fact that I’m over­weight made it dif­fi­cult to de­tect. He thought I could be three months preg­nant, but sent us to a gy­nae­col­o­gist to make sure.

‘I’ll al­ways re­mem­ber ly­ing on the ta­ble in his rooms, hold­ing Adam’s hand, star­ing at the screen, ex­pect­ing to see a lit­tle fishy thing – the tad­pole that would turn into our child. What looked back and switched into top gear. The gy­nae said ev­ery­thing was on track, but the sci­en­tist in me went into over­drive, fu­elled by fear I may have done or taken some­thing in ig­no­rance of my con­di­tion that could harm our baby.

‘I fran­ti­cally re­searched ev­ery med­i­ca­tion I’d taken since con­cep­tion. The IBS and UTI meds were safe, but when I was four months preg­nant, I’d spent time in a clinic for de­pres­sion. They had done com­pre­hen­sive tests be­fore pre­scrib­ing any­thing, so I’d as­sumed they had checked for preg­nancy too. Clearly they had not.

‘I anx­iously looked up the an­tide­pres­sant I’d been pre­scribed, but it was safe for preg­nancy. Relief was fol­lowed by quiet anger that med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als had not picked up on my con­di­tion … or even checked for it. why our home preg­nancy tests had come out neg­a­tive. They’re de­signed for use in the first weeks, and it’s pos­si­ble that, be­cause of the high lev­els of hu­man chori­onic go­nadotropin hor­mone (hCG) from five months, the tests failed.

‘We laughed and cried about it when my stunned friends ral­lied and threw a baby shower a week be­fore C-day. I was cop­ing by me­thod­i­cally mak­ing lists, and one was a wish list for im­me­di­ate prac­ti­cal needs. My friends re­sponded, and my sis­ter de­posited a lump sum into my bank ac­count that saved the day.

‘On 17 May, we checked into hos­pi­tal in Cape Town. At 6.43pm, the doc­tor held up our gor­geous boy. “He’s per­fect,” he said. And he was! I was over­whelmed with love. and we’ve de­cided to leave it un­til Alek­sander is old enough to tell us what he’d like. Mean­while, we’re fol­low­ing our in­stincts and al­low­ing him to sleep in our bed. It’s a com­mon global prac­tice and makes breast­feed­ing a cinch. To make up for the an­te­na­tal classes and other prepa­ra­tions we missed, we’re tak­ing classes in ev­ery­thing from baby gym to baby mas­sage. Each day is a new ex­pe­ri­ence – and we adore Alek­sander.

‘A bonus is that I’ve be­gun to shed weight – ef­fort­lessly. I put it down to breast-feed­ing and greater ac­tiv­ity, and eat­ing more care­fully. My re­search con­vinced me of the im­por­tance of in­tro­duc­ing Alek­sander to healthy food through breast milk. It’s my ul­ti­mate mo­ti­va­tion to eat broc­coli!

‘Be­fore go­ing back to work, I saw a psy­chol­o­gist for a checkup. She was con­cerned that with my his­tory I was a can­di­date for post­na­tal de­pres­sion. But ev­ery one of my symp­toms of de­pres­sion has gone…’

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