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