MY JOURNEY INTO MOTHERHOOD WITH TESSA MADE



I had always known I’d love being a mom despite having had morning sickness from day 1. I was determined to have an incredible pregnancy and for the most part it was.

Being pregnant with my daughter felt more like having a “built in” friend who went everywhere with me. Nkanyezi was incredibly responsive and always made her presence felt. I would tap my belly lightly and she would tap back (I swear). Every time I ate something she would do what felt like a summersault. I was also the image of the quintessential pregnant woman. My skin was glowing, my eyes sparkled and my hair was thick and black. It was all perfect until it suddenly wasn't.



About 4 weeks before my due date, I woke up feeling a bit off, not really ill, just a bit off. I had an appointment with my midwife that day, so I figured if anything was wrong she would pick it up. My appointment went well, baby was all good and still flipping and kicking about. She told me my blood pressure was a little higher than normal but nothing to worry about. Despite her reassurance I did not sleep that night and my husband took me straight to our GP the next morning. I will never forget the amount of panic that filled me when I had to produce a urine sample to my doctor as well as the look of absolute horror on his face when he took it from me. It looked like a glass of coca cola. He spoke in a rush as he quickly moved around to his desk to write a referral letter, “You need to give birth as soon as possible, or else you and your baby are going to die”.

I was in a panic but my husband kept a very calm exterior as the doctor continued. He told us we had to go straight to Helen Joseph as it was the closest hospital. With the way he was going on I honestly felt like it was just a matter of seconds before I’d drop dead right there and then. As soon as we got outside the doctor’s room I asked my husband to rather take me to our birthing clinic of choice even if it was further then Helen Joseph. I wasn’t about to succumb to the panic and give birth in a public hospital. We made the trip from Melville to Linkwood clinic as quickly as we could. My mom was with us, thankfully. She sat in the backseat holding my hand and gently stroking my head until we got to the hospital.

As soon as we got to the hospital, my gynae was called in and I was immediately hooked onto a number of machines. Moments later the sound of my baby’s steady and perfect little heart beat filled the room and gave me a bit of comfort. I was told I had pre-eclampsia. I don’t recall being more terrified my entire life. My husband did his best to keep both of us calm, as he told me for what felt like the two hundredth time, that everything was going to be ok. I had to have an emergency C-section so I was wheeled into theatre and had to go under general anesthesia, none of that half-awake stuff. I inhaled the gas, and everything went black.

When I eventually opened my eyes, I was greeted by the sight of the most perfect little bundle lying in the baby cot next to my bed. There she was, Nkanyezi. We had chosen a perfect name. She was conceived under a very serendipitous set of magical events. Our lives were fully aligned with the forces of life. “When a destiny is to be fulfilled, the stars will realign to make it happen” Someone had said this in a speech at a party we went to after we found out I was pregnant. Her name could only be Star, Nkanyezi. She had her eyes closed and was sucking on her lips. I watched her for a bit, and I didn’t have to be told she was perfectly ok. I knew it. We took our little bundle home thinking all was well but nothing could have prepared us for what was still to come.


Nkyanyzi had jaundice and had to have blood taken every day to monitor her bilirubin levels. She had to spend most of her time on some contraption that was basically a uv light box attached to a onesie. We both hated that thing so much. Considering the circumstances, she didn’t cry as often as we expected. And when she did, it sounded more like a gentle little cough than a cry. On the fourth day we got her blood checked and though the jaundice was better, the pediatrician told us that Nkanyezi has a B strep infection. She had to be admitted into hospital and had to get a drip for a bout of antibiotics. We spent four days in hospital and of course at this point I blamed myself for everything, I felt like such a failure. 

Luckily, during this entire time I received incredible support and so much love from my husband, my mother, my in laws, my dad, my sister, and my aunt. There was always someone around to help me, to talk to me. Everyone tried his or her best to bring some normality to this awful nightmare I was living. With everyone’s love, I’d slowly learn to accept that peace of mind was more important than driving myself crazy trying to understand why all of this was happening us.


Nkanyezi is now 7 years old. She is perfectly healthy, very happy, and the most joyful, spirited little girl I know. She looks just like me, which is something I’m very proud of. She’s also very kind, very intuitive and slightly bossy (apparently she gets that from me as well) and the sass on her though! I’ve learnt to just count to 10.

Her Dad and I have a very 50/50 approach to how we parent. He has always done the morning routine, and I do the evening routine. Most weekends are spent together as a family. This means we have both gotten to know her really well. Nkanyezi is very active and pretty much spends most of her time upside down, doing summersaults or running around. She never sits still, and does not stop talking. All day. Every day.


Her dad has a great appreciation for the city. He loves the Jo’burg urban culture, the art scene and this is something he has instilled in her. They take long drives around the city, they attend food markets, art exhibitions and music festivals. With me, she reads, she cooks, we shop and get our nails done. All that good girly stuff.


It is always such a joy to listen to her ponder the world, hum a little song to herself, or sing out loud in the shower. These moments, always feel like an extra special nod from God, for what I went through to bring this little person to this world.

And as it turns out I was right, I love being a mom!

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