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First-time mum shares her experience | Online

The decision to have our first child was in the discussion stage when I fell pregnant with Jack in July last year. Being a fairly indecisive couple, my husband and I kept going back and forth on when we should have children. We liked our lifestyles and have had the privilege of travelling across the globe together – including getting married in Las Vegas – and having a child would see us putting that dream of backpacking across South America on hold. However, I was 28 and he was 30 at the time and neither of us wanted to be old parents and we decided we couldn’t put it off much longer. So when that overwhelmingly positive sign lit up the first pregnancy test – and the second, third and fourth – I had mixed emotions. I had also just started working as a journalist at a daily newspaper which is a highly stressful and not altogether well-paid job. My husband is a high school teacher so we both have careers we’re passionate about but, as is often the case, the financial returns will never see us hobnobbing with the likes of Kenny Kunene. But somehow you get by. Fortunately my pregnancy was hassle free, I didn’t even have to suffer through any morning sickness which made keeping baby Jack a secret for the first three months that much easier! So after the initial shock had subsided and I confirmed with my doctor that I was pregnant – something I felt hard to believe for the first few months – the planning began. Our first step was to start stockpiling nappies. Being clueless I bought whatever was on sale but have subsequently found the Pampers Premium to be the best of the lot (we’re also looking into using Bamboo Nappies – a reusable brand). We also aimed to buy one expensive item – breast pump, cot, compactum (a word I heard for the first time) each month. On a side note, be ready to learn a whole new vocabulary – episiotomy, ectopic, mastitis…all initially overwhelming but you soon catch on. Then the fear of what to do with this 3kg bundle of squidginess when it actually arrived dawned on us so we signed up for baby classes. I found Arlaine Oxenham online. She runs an ante-natal class from her home in Durban North and has a clinic for follow-up appointments if you want to continue with her. The class had only five couples for the six classes and the fathers attend three of those – to allow for the women to express themselves without fear of humiliation in front of the men during the remaining three. The classes were amazing and having someone like Arlaine – who isn’t your gynaecologist, family member or friend – to get advice from is beyond helpful. She welcomes you to whatsapp or call her for advice. The moms have also kept in touch now that the babies have all exited the uteruses (uteri?) and it’s great to compare notes and know you’re all in it together. Be sure you have a gynaecologist that you are happy with from the start. The whole natural vs C-section debate is heated and you need to feel comfortable with the first person your child is going to see in the world. I opted for natural from the start and was lucky enough to have had Jack naturally, although I understood that if I had to have a C-section, whatever was best for the baby must be done. The labour itself was extremely fast – three-and-a-half hours from water breaking to delivery – which is unusual. I was undecided on whether or not to have an epidural and had I known how quickly Jack would arrive, I might not have opted for it but it made the final push (as it were) amazing. There’s no getting around it, labour is painful but it’s something we women are built to withstand. And for those fearing the pain, epidurals are quite honestly one of mankind’s best invention! All the classes and ultra-sound scans can’t prepare you for the moment you meet this little person who is essentially an extension of you. Being a visual person, I didn’t feel much of a connection to the little guy in utero but seeing him for the first time I felt like I’d known him all my life. He’s now only eight weeks old and it’s as if he’s been around forever.

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