Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Guest Blog - Coping with the news

As long as I can remember I have been baby-crazy. I was babysitting at 12, maybe even younger (and now that I think about that, I'd never leave my kids with a 12 year old!!). My first nephew was born when I was 13 & we all adored him. I could never get enough of his pudgy little fingers or that warm, sweet, newborn baby smell. I knew from a very young age that my heart ached for a family.

Throughout High school we would talk about what we wanted to do with our lives - what we wanted to be when we grew up. There was talk of travel, University and careers. While I knew that those things were important, all I ever really wanted was to be married to an honest, kind man who treated me well and for us to raise a big, happy family. Of course I had dreams of the big house with the white picket fence. In that dream I imagined at least four children, maximum of seven (this is pre-motherhood. I didn't know what I was thinking with the seven :P). 

After school I nannied in Las Vegas for eight gorgeous, well behaved children. That filled the baby-shaped hole in my heart for a little while. Then I came home and within six months I had met and married the aforementioned wonderful Husband. We had told ourselves that we'd wait at least a year before we got pregnant, but it didn't quite happen that way. We were extremely blessed to be pregnant within three months of being married. I gave birth to a gorgeous, healthy baby boy and we couldn't have been more proud of him and our little family.

After his birth I believed I suffered from a small amount of post-natal depression. It wasn't diagnosed but for about six months I really struggled.  All of a sudden all of my dreams had come true and it was everything and nothing like I had expected it to be. I wasn't prepared for the loneliness, the boredom or the loss of 'me'.  I think the hardest part for me was realising that my life was different now.  I couldn't do the things I could before, my body had changed dramatically, my days were filled with nappies and milk and cooking and boring, daytime T.V.  I quickly realised that being a mother was not as glamorous as it seemed.

When my son was around 12 months old I decided to buy a camera & do a Diploma in Photography. I had always enjoyed taking photos and thought that it would be a fun hobby for me to do while I was a stay at home Mum.  It was tough, but at the same time I started to see myself again.  I found myself getting excited about by assignments and marks, and I loved showing off the work I was producing.  

I honestly believe that photography saved me from a dark place that I did not know how to get out of.  It all snowballed really quickly and within 4 years I have managed to start my own successful business.  I love what I am doing and even more, I love the fact that I can do it and still be a SAHM. How blessed I am that I am able to do what I love and fulfil my childhood dreams at the same time.

When my son was 18 months old we discovered that we were pregnant again. The first birth was horridly, excruciatingly awful so I was scared about going through that again, but of course we were both so excited. When we found out it was a girl, I was over the moon!  I'd always wanted a little girl!

The second birth itself wasn't too bad.  I asked for an epidural immediately so I didn't feel too much until the very end.  After the birth is when everything went south.  It's a very long story, but basically the Syntocinon I had been given forced my uterus to contract too quickly, which resulted in my uterus and placenta rupturing (we didn't know this until 9 hours after the birth).  My daughter was born not breathing and without a heartbeat.  The few minutes it took for the medical team to revive her were the worst minutes of my entire life.  She was hooked up to the machines for about 12 hours before she was able to breathe on her own. The doctors believe that my uterus ruptured about an hour before she was delivered, which meant that she wasn't receiving any oxygen that entire time.  She is quite literally a miracle baby. 

After the birth I continued to have pain and was sent to have an ultrasound.  They discovered the rupture and I was immediately taken into the theatre to repair the hole.  When I woke up I was told that the rupture had torn through the uterus and all the way down to the cervix.  It was irreparable and I had to have an emergency hysterectomy.

And there it was. The News!  My dreams - completely shattered. I kept saying to my Husband (while completely drugged-out) "No more babies. No more babies."  I was in the hospital for nine days and they had me on all types of drugs.  I believe they are the reason I didn't have a complete melt down. I don't think I really grasped the reality of the situation until I had gone home and the drugs had worn off.

I remember sitting in the car after my Husband had just brought me home. My 2 1/2 year old son had screamed the entire drive and I was exhausted and in a lot of pain. I just sat there and cried and cried and cried.  My whole world had been turned upside down. That was the only time I really cried.

While I was in the hospital I remember telling myself "You can either choose to let this ruin your life or you can choose to be happy."  From that moment on I have chosen to be happy.  I wrote myself a list of all of the positive things that have come from my hysterectomy & I have added to that list over time.  Here's a few from the list -
•             We have two healthy children - a boy and a girl so we won’t miss out on anything.
•             Free contraception!
•             No more periods!
•             Don’t have to stress about being able to afford a large family
•             No need to feel guilty about not having more children
•             Don’t have to buy a new car – no mini vans for us!
•             Can afford to do more fun things as a smaller family
•             I can go back to work sooner
•             We will be a two income household and maybe even afford to buy a house!
•             I don’t ever have to go through morning sickness and labour ever again
•             I don’t have to hold on to all my old baby clothes and things
•             I only have to go through the hassle of toilet training twice
•             Not as much washing and dishes to clean
•             Always one free space in the car
•             No 'middle child' syndrome

I could come up with a much larger list of all the negative things that have come from my hysterectomy but I keep telling myself that I have chosen to focus on the positive. It's the only thing that gets me through the hard stuff.

This hasn't meant that it's all been rainbows and butterflies for me.   Sometimes it gets hard.  Once, for example, I was sitting in a doctor's surgery waiting for an appointment and I saw a mother with a newborn and I felt my heart ache again. I don't think I'll ever get over it, but I can move on.  I can choose to make my life something equally as amazing, just different to the dream I had before.
Contributed by:  Elizabeth Hawthorne 
- Wedding & Portrait Photographer

Zanabelle Photography

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