MONIKA: “I experienced death of two children I held in my arms”.

age: 29 years old
children: daughter – 2.5 years old, son – 1 year old

A lot of people think that pregnancy is the most beautiful time in a woman’s life. What was it like for you?

I had been through three pregnancies. My first was unfortunately unsuccessful; I lost twins in the 23rd week. They could not save them. Pregnancy left me with more serious health consequences and I had to undergo three operations. I did not suffer from postnatal depression as I experienced death of two children I held in my arms. Afterwards I had to go and see the counsellor because I did not know how to deal with what happened. I was not on any medication; I “only” did sessions.

I personally cannot even imagine why a woman is depressed when she is holding a baby that is breathing. The feeling when a woman holds two children that are cold and not breathing is indescribable and probably only a person who has experienced it can understand. Of course, I do not judge anyone because every woman is different and we all perceive life differently. Someone else might not understand me.

This first pregnancy was a shock, we did not plan it. When I learned in the 7th week I was expecting twins, I almost got a heart attack. We were not ready, but we decided we would deal with it. I lost 5 kg by the 20th week. I felt nauseous during the whole 20 weeks, I threw up literally everything. All I ate was plain toast and water.

From the 20th week it started to get better, however, only for three weeks. I always blame myself for not knowing all the necessary information, because when they told me in the 19th week that my cervix was 1.9 cm big, I did not make it a big deal. But my sister alarmed me, that it is not good. In the 23rd week I was already open and there was nothing we could do. If I had been lying on the bed from that 19th week, children might have held out until the 27th – 28th week and there would have been a chance to save them. However, this is something I will never find out.

The second pregnancy was accompanied with huge anxiety and stress that the same thing would happen again. In the 18th week my cervix shortened to 2cm and I literally thought I would go insane. However, the doctors provided the emergency cerclage and I tried to take it easy. I had no appetite, I lost some weight again. However, around the 25-27th week everything changed and I was fine.

I live in the USA and unfortunately, there does not exist anything like the maternity leave and women work until the end of the pregnancy. After the birth a mother stays at home for only 6 weeks/12 weeks (by the c-section) and then she either goes back to work or she loses her job. My daughter and I just made it till the 37th week and she was born healthy.

The third pregnancy was totally different and without any problem. Taken my history, doctors had already provided a preventive cerclage in the 13th week . However, the cervix still measured around 4 cm. I had a good appetite, I felt great and I was able to look after my daughter, who had just been learning to walk. The pregnancy was really monitored. Ever since I found out I was pregnant, up until the 30th week, I had to go for a sonogram and scan every two weeks. However, I did not have any problems only being tired from work or from looking after my daughter.

How did you feel first time you saw your baby?

Amazing. With both of them.

How were the first weeks and months for you?

After the first pregnancy I felt very bad. The cerclage they were supposed to cut in the 38th week, however, my water broke earlier, in the 37th week. I started to open, which was incredibly painful and they urgently had to re-cut my stitches.

I was surgically cut and it took me about a month before I was able to sit down. As a result, I also had trouble breastfeeding because it hurt me in every position I tried to get comfortable.

However, I was very happy about my daughter. The only problem I had was breastfeeding. The little one cried a lot as I could not attach her at the breast and the milk did not want to flow. We were trying to sort it out by constant attaching her to my breast, which was quite difficult, but on the sixth or seventh day the milk finally started to flow. I breast fed her until she was one. 🙂

With the second child everything was different. Not only was the birth quick and “easy”, but I was not cut either, so only one day after the birth I was walking, sitting, well… nearly walking. As for the breastfeeding, I had no problem whatsoever. The second pregnancy and maternity I definitely enjoyed more by 300000%. 🙂

Today your daughter is 2.5 years old and your son celebrated 1 year a couple of days ago. How do you feel as a mum today?

I feel fine, although there are moments when it’s extremely hard. Mainly due to the fact that I am a working mother. With both children I went back to work after only three months after the delivery and it is not easy at all.

I miss my children. My son I breast fed until he was 10 months old and expressing the milk at work is no picnic. But again, with my daughter everything was new and complicated. I tended to overthink many things. With my son I did not even take the milk expressing so seriously and we handled it alright.

My daughter gets the waves of anger, like many kids her age, which is not easy to handle. The hardest is to adapt both kids to a routine and at the same time still have some time for myself. But I think I do alright.

I do not feel any significant difference compare to the beginning of maternity. I am definitely glad I do not breastfeed anymore. With my son the breastfeeding felt like a burden. Around the tenth month he started to be unsettled, so I decided to stop. It just did not work for us anymore. However, I feel fine – as I did when they were born. Today I have to deal with other things than I did when they were smaller. As new-borns they basically only slept and ate during the first four months. Now there is a complete contrast, they are very active.

What helped you to get over the hardest time of motherhood?

I always thought there are women out there, who handled much worse things than me with my office job. Women used to work on fields, they had to work hard by machines (in a less developed country they still work like this today), and so I said to myself: what have I got to complain about? I have two healthy, beautiful children, who had put on weight. I go to work, so they could have everything they need and we could buy them healthy food, toys, clothes etcetera.

Of course, I have to mention my husband, who is incredibly helpful. He can take care of the kids, he cooks, tidies and I can go to a gym or just relax. He is very supportive and he is amazing looking after the kids. I can even say that he may be better than me. 🙂

Lot of future mums have a lot of questions. What do you think they should especially prepare for?

My personal opinion is that a woman cannot prepare for motherhood. It is like when one learns how to swim or ski. You always fall, but you always have to keep trying and find your own way. It will definitely help mothers if they study certain things in advance, especially about the pregnancy.

As for the kids, I think it is important to listen to them and follow them, not the books/internet/friends. What works for my friend’s child, does not mean it works for mine too.

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