It's here! My first blog post!
Where do I start?
I'm back in the swing of things. I'm so ready to get my photography business back on track and it feels amazing! I've had a year of putting my business on hold but I've also had that time to spend with my little humans at home. It's been a tough one, probably the hardest year of my life but also very rewarding getting to know our baby girl Alice who has melted all of our hearts, especially her big brother Jonas'.
So lets begin my blog by turning back time to just over a year ago. I'm going to share an experience that has changed me these past 12 months. The story of when we had miss Alice and our family was complete. I I'm really putting myself out there but I think it's important to share my story because what happened to me is very rare and it's good for others to know the signs and symptoms if it would to happen to you or someone you know.
When I was heavily pregnant I was a busy working mum with my photography business in full swing. I was very excited and planned to have it back up and running again a couple of months after giving birth. But sometimes life doesn't turn out the way you plan...
At the last stretch of my pregnancy I went to see my midwife for a general checkup. She noticed that I took little pauses in the middle of sentences and asked me if I always talked like that, gasping for air as I was sitting down having a conversation. I hadn't thought of it until she mentioned it but I had noticed that my life had gotten a little harder as I struggled to stand up and walk for more than a few minutes before I had to sit back down again and rest, something I had only just put down to entering the third trimester of pregnancy.
My first pregnancy had been very easy compared to this one but I thought all pregnancies were different and I was just exhausted running after a toddler this time around. My midwife took my blood pressure which was abnormally high and ordered me to stay for more tests resulting in me being admitted overnight. They found nothing unusual and my blood pressure had come back down again by the morning so I got sent home.
A few weeks went by and I felt pretty much the same as before but I was struggling with my everyday chores such as pushing a trolley around the shops and walking for more than 50 meters before I had to stop and rest for a while.
When I hit week 37 I woke up with a tight pressure over my chest. It felt like my breasts had gotten really heavy and I had a dull pain right in the middle of my ribs. It almost felt as if I had a big bruise in the middle of my chest.
I called the maternity ward at the hospital and asked if this was normal due to my baby being breech and the head pressing up against my ribs. The midwife on the line told me to go straight to the emergency, so I did. As soon as I got there the nurse took my blood pressure and heart rate which was very high again. So I had to stay for more tests and was admitted to the short stay unit where they did an ECG, chest X-rays and a CT scan. Nothing particular came up on all the scans they did that day but they booked me in for an echocardiogram (a heart ultrasound) for three days later. I went home and felt fine(ish) for the next couple of days.
That weekend (2 days after my hospital visit) I woke up feeling odd. Not in pain or anything but very emotional and I just knew my baby was on the way. My first labour was extremely quick so we got in the car to the hospital as soon as I could feel something resembling contractions.
When we got to the maternity ward they monitored my contractions that were getting stronger and more regular so the doctor booked us in for an emergency cesarean (due to my baby being breech) but they wanted to make sure my heart was okay for me to be given the spinal because if anything was to happen they wanted me to transfer hospitals to one with more equipment.
A mad rush started to get all the scans done before my contractions got too strong. We all knew my first labour only lasted for 4 hours from the first contraction so they wheedled me around the hospital departments for different scans before they gave me the all clear to have my baby at the hospital we were at.
I felt extremely nervous about the c-section. More nervous than I had been during my first labour (probably because I had time to think and go over different scenarios in my head).
Getting the spinal took a while and once that was done my husband got to enter the room before the procedure of getting our baby out started. I remember feeling really cold and I was shaking the whole time. I held my husband's hand super hard and I could feel pressure and pulling happening behind the curtain.
As soon as my baby girl was out they took her to the resuscitation table to give her a boost of oxygen before she was put on my chest.
The rest is a bit of a blur but I remember the first night at the hospital when Alice got mucous stuck in her airways and I pressed the call for help button but they took forever to come to my room. I was in so much pain from the surgery but I stood up and grabbed her to tilt her forward and pat her on the back. She started turning blue and I freaked out and quickly ran out with her in the corridor calling for help. I was hitting her back really hard and just as a midwife approached us Alice started crying. And I cried... after that I was in excruciating pain but was too scared to go to sleep in case Alice would have another episode. After giving me some pain relief and a sleeping pill the lovely midwifes took Alice away for the night to look after her while I got some rest.
The next morning it was time for my heart ultra sound. I had almost forgotten about the chest pain and the painkillers from the surgery probably helped keeping it out of mind. I also felt so much better already with all the extra weight gone from my body and no baby's head pushing up on my ribcage.
We were sent home a couple of days later and I was told they would contact me if anything came up on the scan.
Over the next few days I lived in the typical baby bubble. I felt exhausted and as if I was still pregnant but I had never had a c-section before so I thought it was part of the recovery. I remember feeling very weak but I managed to get on with the everyday things like feeding, changing and cuddling a baby. I even grabbed my camera and got a few newborn photos of our darling girl. Four weeks went by and we all caught a nasty cold which had us all bedridden for a few days.
With all of us being unwell my poor baby girl couldn't get away from the germs and early one morning I had to rush her to the emergency because of her heavy breathing. They confirmed a really bad case of bronchiolitis caused by an RS virus and she was admitted to hospital for a week. It was absolutely horrible seeing her so sick and I felt helpless while sitting with her in my arms trying to keep her calm.
While sitting by Alice's side I got a phone call from the emergency department at the same hospital. They had just gotten the results from my heart scan and wanted me to go to the ER immediately. It was very hectic and I was rushing in between hospital departments to keep my baby company while they were running new tests on myself. I refused to stay at the emergency ward because all I wanted was to be there for my baby girl when she needed me the most. So the lovely doctors over at the ER agreed to let me go to Alice's room and they came to see me over at the children's ward instead.
They told me I had peripartum chardiomoscapy (pregnancy induced heart failure) and my heart capacity was down to 30%. It all finally made sense to why I'd been feeling the way I had. I was now scared of what they'd told me but I was also very relieved that there was a reason for why I had felt like I was still heavily pregnant many weeks after giving birth. At least now there was something to be done to hopefully fix the problem.
Sitting at the hospital with little to do as Alice slept in the cot beside me I did what I probably shouldn't have done... I started googling peripartum chardiomoscapy. Dr Google basically told me that I had to give up all the "fun" things in life, like alcohol... forever, and I could possibly only have another 5 years to live. This scared the absolute s#*t out of me and I called my husband saying that I can never ever drink red wine again (no I didn't mention the 5 years left to live part)... and no I'm not a big drinker but after a long pregnancy and breastfeeding I was dying for a glass of red haha.
After seeing the doctors again I was put on daily medication. But the problem they said, was that I was a pretty healthy and fit person in general, which is great, but it also meant that the medication would make me quite ill and I would normally feel worse before I got better.
I spent the next few months slowly trapping up the medication to a level that I could tolerate. It made me feel dizzy and really out of breath. I actually felt way worse on the medication then I did at the end of my pregnancy. It totally stopped me from venturing too far out of home... I mean, getting an energetic toddler and a newborn with their belongings into the car is hard enough on a good day haha.
All of this caused me to feel very trapped... Trapped inside my home with little energy to go anywhere and trapped inside my body. I all of a sudden felt like an 80 year old lady with health issues, not a the fit 30 year old working mum that I expected to be a few months after giving birth to our second child.
I started feeling very down and upset about the whole situation and one day when I called my husband in tears he decided that that was enough and he organised for me to get help for postnatal depression.
I never thought I'd be one of those people with PNDD because I'm a strong, happy and outgoing person. But you never know what life will throw your way and I'm so glad my husband made the decision for me.
He has been a great support by taking the workload off me with the kids. He's had them both at home with him when I've spent time in hospital, answered all my phone calls about nothing and everything... and still stayed sane.
One thing I started doing when being stuck at home with the kids was to take more photos of us. I mean, not iPhone shots but proper photos with my big camera. This is something I really appreciate now. I can look back at Alice's first year and see her growth over the past months.
My little princess is now 13 months old and she's the most amazing thing that has happened to our family. I'm still on medication but my last scan showed that my heart is almost back to normal. I'm one of the lucky people and I definitely see life in a different perspective now. You never know what will happen to you or how long we've got on this earth.
I've recently found new motivation and I finally feel well enough and inspired to make my dreams come true. I'm so excited to start booking new photography clients and get my business going again. I love taking photos of my own babies but I'm also so excited and ready to get back into work and meet and photograph other families.
Life's too precious not to be doctumented.