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HerBabyFeature

We’re having a baby!

Jessica Schumann and Bronwen Stead

We’re having a baby! Well, two actually!

Both myself and feature writer, Bronwen Stead are both pregnant and expecting our first child later this year in October — just six days apart! It’s definitely a first for HerCanberra and we know there are probably plenty of other first-time mothers out there too who are either expecting or just given birth. So in the spirit of sharing, we’ll be capturing our journey and sharing the ups and downs with you — our readers in a regular ongoing series. Everything from finding out to the first trimester experiences to what to wear and keeping fit, and of course those hundreds of questions you ask yourself as your baby bump takes shape and gets bigger…right through until our bundles of joy arrive…and beyond!

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It’s called Her Baby and we’d love for you to be a part of it too! But we know every woman is different; every pregnancy is different and every experience is different so please feel welcome to share your experiences, resources and remedies with us along the way in the comments below. 

In the first of the Her Baby series, Bron and I reflect on our first trimester — how we found out, the survival of morning sickness and what it was like seeing our babies on the screen for the first time. 

How we found out…

Bron: I can’t really put my finger on it and want to avoid using clichés. We had been trying for several months in as much as we were not using any contraception (to be honest I find it a bit funny that as soon as you are pregnant – or even more frustrating when others expect you to be pregnant, you enter this odd realm where talking about your sex life becomes an appropriate social topic, but there you go).

Bron

Bronwen at 14 weeks.

 

I was only one day late but was feeling a bit off and as I was getting ready for work I decided to do a test. When the double lines came up I was kind of stunned and walked out to show my husband who immediately had the biggest grin on his face. I think we were in shock for a few days but also very excited.

Jessica: I was working on location for the 15 Women to Watch photo shoot at the National Portrait Gallery in February with the HerCanberra team. I had been feeling really lethargic all week and had these really excruciating cramps which had woken me at 3am that Thursday morning. I relayed this to a few of the girls who suggested I could be pregnant but having tried for the last two years without any luck and using no contraception for more than three years, I had high doubts.

Jessica at 13/14 weeks.

Jessica at 13/14 weeks.

That weekend, on the Saturday morning (two days later), I woke to go to the bathroom and thought ‘What the hell, I’ll do one anyway!’ Sure enough two lines appeared on the stick. I ran into the bedroom where my husband was sleeping and said ‘We’re pregnant!’ He woke abruptly but did so with a huge smile on his face.

All things medical…

Bron: I immediately took myself to the doctor the same day, still a bit stunned. My doctor seemed a bit affronted that my husband and I had fallen pregnant without medical approval. We hadn’t had blood tests and hadn’t been taking the recommended supplements. I think our relaxed approach was a huge factor in how quickly it all happened.

I have a low functioning thyroid so will need to have monthly blood tests to keep an eye on the levels – apparently they can go a bit haywire through pregnancy. So far mine have stayed level and I’ve not had to adjust my medication.

Jessica: I did five home pregnancy tests over the course of that weekend just because I couldn’t believe we had finally done it. Needless to say, it took three days to get into see my GP before we could officially confirm anything but sure enough when I finally saw her, it was a definite. My HcG levels were surprisingly high for being so early in my pregnancy. We found out at 5/6 weeks. The doctor said this was a sign for a strong pregnancy and later explained the acute morning sickness I suffered. In the weeks leading up to finding out we were pregnant, I had been experiencing high blood pressure and concerning pains (aka pounding migraines) on the left side of my head to which I was booked in for an MRI. As high blood pressure runs in the family, this is being monitored throughout my pregnancy but so far everything has been normal.

At around week 13, I contracted a UTI (urinary tract infection) which is actually more common than you think when pregnant and many, many women get them at some point throughout pregnancy. The issue is making sure it doesn’t turn into a kidney infection, which mine almost did. Nevertheless, it had me bedridden for a week, which meant no work, not even on my laptop. And that was hard. Very hard. The treatment is a course of antibiotics, bed rest and lots of water. The UTI returned three weeks ago and I’ve just finished a second course. But as the doctor assured me, it’s normal and quite common.

The first ultrasound…

The first ultrasound is also known as a dating scan where your expected delivery date (EDD) is determined and you are told how far along in your pregnancy you are. 

Bron: We went for a dating scan at what was estimated as six weeks – this is one of the big lessons I have learnt so far that I wanted to share with you! I highly encourage you to wait until the rough estimate of 7 weeks. We were so excited for this first scan, yet when we got there I found the technican (a male) to be quite clinical and borderline cold emotionally. Though I admit my husband did not have quite as strong a read on him as I did – perhaps because he wasn’t having an internal probe scan at the time? Anyhow, the scan did not show quite the development that was expected. We were explained that this could be simply a matter of it being too early, however he also explained the process of diagnosing a miscarriage. We were booked in for another scan in 10 days and sent home.

Fortunately I also had a blood test to do, and my doctor rang me as soon as the results were in reassuring me that everything was doing what we expected. I won’t lie to you that afternoon I went home and cried. It was still such early days yet I was so attached to my pregnancy. I also tend to have an overactive imagination and I could not shake the feeling of being a walking coffin. We returned for the second scan and with a much kinder technician were so lucky that all was well.

Jessica: Our first scan was around 8.5 weeks (which we’ve since discovered was actually 9.5 weeks due to a change in EDD). Having had an internal ultrasound by a male sonographer before and having felt extremely uncomfortable, I requested a female this time around and was so relieved to meet her in the room. Call me crazy or sexist, but I just think that when it comes to babies and our girlie bits, females have a better idea about what’s going on then men and a somewhat more gentle approach both physically and emotionally. With a full bladder ready to burst, it was incredible to see our little baby up on the screen. It of course appeared to be much bigger on the screen the actual 2.5cm it was in my womb, but either way that was our little ‘rang-rang’ (ranga aka redhead) growing inside me. Everything was happening as it should be…

Though I will say I was a little disappointed by the fact that ultrasounds have turned digital with some imaging services no longer offering you a print out of your baby before you leave. For us it wasn’t until some 24 hours later that we could access our ultrasound images online and print them off at work.

Public or private…

Bron: As we are both generally healthy and foreseeing no complications we opted to manage our pregnancy through the public system at the Canberra Hospital. Initially, we registered our interest in the CATCH program, but as there is a wait list we were advised to also sign up for the antenatal program as well.

Jessica: While I had always thought I’d give birth at Canberra Hospital once the baby conversations commenced, we opted for Calvary Hospital in Bruce simply because it is much, much closer to home should anything happen. Calvary offers both access to the private and public health system but as all my siblings and cousins have been delivered through the public system, that’s what we opted for too. We attended an information session for the Birth Centre (different to the delivery rooms and maternity ward) but it seems there are a lot of babies due in October and have since been placed on a waiting list.

It’s worth noting that many women book into the Birth Centre as early as 5/6 weeks in their pregnancy, so if like me, you turn up at 13 weeks to find your on a waiting list…don’t stress! If you’re super keen on a more natural and holistic birth then book in to either the Canberra or Calvary Hospital as soon as your pregnancy is confirmed, but know that your GP will need to fax through your referral, blood test results and ultrasound confirmation first.

Birth classes & Midwives…

Bron: We attended our first birth education class with a midwife and physio, which was a basic run through of things and for me it was mostly just reassuring to know we are doing what we need to be and that how I had been feeling (incredibly tired and bit gross) is normal. It was interesting to learn that the ACT is the only place in Australia where it is standard that birthing education is free! Go CBR!!!  The day after we attended the first birth class we were accepted into the CATCH program. This means we have our designated midwife who will see us through our pregnancy and beyond. This is really nice to know that we will be seeing the same person consistently.

Jessica: Our first midwife appointment was only last week and so we’re yet to book in for our first birth classes. But every woman is different and so you will work through it at your own timing (as long as it happens before the baby arrives).

Although we’re on the waiting list for the Birth Centre at Calvary, I am registered with the antenatal clinic which means that although we won’t have the one midwife throughout the entire pregnancy, we’ll still be in good hands and get to know a few lovely ladies along the way. I’ve also opted to have a doula as part of my continuity of care during pregnancy, labour and the early postnatal period. For those who have no idea what a doula is, she is a professional birth support/coach trained to support women and couples through pregnancy and childbirth, and who assists women to manage labour with love; by preparing and supporting her to use the resources she has available to birth in a calm, respected and truly supported way.

The truth about the first trimester…

Bron: The first change I noticed (there is no PC way to say it) my bust exploded. Having never been particularly bosomy, this was quite apparent. There is no knowing when and where the emotional rollercoaster will hit. My best (worst?) moment (so far) was getting teary one Sunday at the Cupping Room when my husband told me that the ricotta meant I couldn’t have the hotcakes I was desperately craving (since realised ricotta is ok if its cooked through and have been back for them and they were delicious). My apologies to the lovely waitress who delivered what was actually very tasty bircher muesli to a tear stained me. Really this is probably an insight into my personality – my husband has described me as fiercely independent and being told I can’t have something I want is not a situation I would ever react to well, let alone when my hormones are raging all over the place.

Jessica: Nothing can prepare you for the emotional and hormonal rollercoaster that you embark on. It is totally normal to experience a wide range of emotions too — everything from happiness to overwhelm, excitement to shock, frustration to mini freak outs! I’ll be honest here at the risk of public criticism and judgement, I even got a little angry that this had happened when it did. I started the new year with some pretty big goals that I wanted to achieve both with my career and with Mr. B. And then I took a step back again from it all and realised it’s not going to stop me, it’s just putting a little delay on some things and really at the end of the day, my body is doing something pretty incredible — it’s growing a little baby human. Things happen for a reason and things happen when they are supposed to. There is never going to be the perfect time to go overseas, change careers or have a baby…it’s just something to embrace.

Surviving Morning sickness…

Bron: I really resent the term “morning sickness”, it is NOT limited to the morning, and “sickness” does not do justice to awful disgusting and un-escapable experience that I had for several weeks and has thankfully eased off and I refer to it as nausea. For me this lasted all day every day for around a month, at its peak I was also experiencing sensations of vertigo and had to go home and lie on the couch and do nothing (this is so not like my usual self).

When my nausea was horrible, there were days that all I could face were dry crackers and banana smoothies! And I also was turned off some of my favourite foods for a while – usually I eat oats everyday and for a few weeks there I could not face them! So strange. I also used to think that cravings/aversions during a pregnancy were simply an excuse to eat poorly, but I can now attest they are very real!!! The strongest I have experienced is shopping one day at the market – heading to the meat and fish shops, I almost fell down, I felt so unwell!!!

Jessica: For 10 weeks straight I had morning sickness and all people kept telling me is how they knew someone who suffered from it for their entire pregnancy. This statement does not help a pregnant woman feel better! Morning sickness is horrible. It totally rocks your world and not in a good way. It can range from waves of nausea to violent heaving at 4am or 4pm — it is not specific to the beginning of your day. When it came to cooking dinner, anything chicken-based, I had to get Mr. B to cut it up and cook it, and I found that tomato-based dishes e.g. spaghetti bolognese was completely out of the question.

I did find that keeping a snack (carb-based works best) next to the bed to eat before I got up in the morning helped to line my stomach. Try Mother Earth’s Oaty bars, Jatz or water crackers (keep them in an airtight container).I also kept them in my desk drawer along with a box of peppermint or ginger teabags. The mini cans of Cascade Ginger Ale were great to throw in my handbag, glovebox or keep at work for emergencies along with apple juice poppers. But what helps you get through it may be completely different. I also had the Elevit Morning Sickness tablets which stop the throwing up but the nausea doesn’t necessarily ease.

Sharing the news…

Bron: I understand that the advice not to tell people before you reach 12 weeks is due to the high-risk of miscarriage, but for my husband there was definitely a sort of voodoo element to it – “You just don’t tell people”. The exception was I told my coaches and health professionals – I am a fitness model, semi-pro gridiron player and cheerleader, so my coaches and physio were among the first to know as in my mind they needed to know. Finding the silver lining – I also injured my knee in late 2014 and been off from my usual level of training for a while so that was a good cover!!! (Knee is still busted).

However our excitement got the better of us and from about 9 weeks we began our “announcement tour” of telling our nearest and dearest as we saw them. (We told direct family the week we found out – turns out we would have only been 5 weeks). I argued that if we were to miscarry I would be telling these people anyway as I would be relying on them for support. We loved sharing our news with people. We have been together 12 years and married for six, I think most people had given up on us so have been very surprised at the news!

Jessica: As soon as those two pink lines appeared on Saturday morning, (well after an hour or so), we were on the phone to our parents, my brother and sister. Married for 18 months and together for five, it was somewhat of an expected phone call — it was just a matter of time. We also chose to tell a couple of our close friends for much the same reason that if anything were to happen then we’d likely be looking to them for support and also because most of our family live interstate or overseas. In the subsequent weeks, I told the HC team namely because it was becoming difficult to mask my runs to the bathroom and because our group is filled with some amazing, incredible and extremely supportive women. But I wanted to share the news with a little style and so asked Javier (our graphic designer) to design a baby announcement (see above).

Getting baby ready…

Bron: Thinking of all the things we need is a bit daunting and seeing the prices of things doesn’t help! We fell in love with a beautiful babies room set at David Jones, and found a similar set on eBay for half the price. We were living in a two bedroom apartment up until recently with the second room my studio and already overflowing – safe to say we needed a bigger house and have since moved.

Jessica: We been inundated with offers from friends offering pieces of baby furniture and so on but we’ve not yet accepted anything until we work out just what it is we actually need. It’s not a bad thing to consider second-hand furniture as it can save you money, the important thing is to just make sure it’s sterilised and/or cleaned correctly. We’ve eyed off a few fancy prams but have made a list as to what it needs to have. Last weekend we renewed our membership at Costco so that we can start to buy one thing each week and begin a little stockpile now rather than do a mad rush in the last couple of months. We’re in the process of deciding whether to move now or in 12 months but have another month up or sleeve before we need to decide.

Fitness & Wellbeing…

Bron: One of the first things people ask me about is my exercise. Having been competing as a bikini and fitness model in the INBA for several years, and being a gridiron player it is usual for me to spend several hours exercising a day (and I love it). As I am currently rehabbing my knee, I am working with Adam Manikis at Fitness First – a great PT mate of mine who is helping me through my rehab as well as working on my technique. For the first trimester, for the first time in my life I really didn’t want to go to the gym. Even in the lead up to a fitness comp, when my calories are quite restricted and I am training through long sessions I loved going to the gym – so this was quite a shock for me!

Jessica: Prior to discovering I was pregnant, I was boxing and weight training with Sarah Berenson from Change Coaching Australia. This has continued but with less intensity. I was given the all clear by the doctor and have also introduced swimming (more recently) and walking to dog more frequently. Although, in the first trimester you feel like doing anything but training particularly if morning sickness hits you at random times throughout your day. Now that the morning sickness has passed, I’m looking into enrolling in a prenatal yoga class or two.

It’s all in the mindset…

Bron: Changing my mindset to accept that my body is going to change is an ongoing challenge for me – having spent the last two years focusing on building muscle and staying lean, this is a significant shift. I continue to seek diet guidance from my nutrition coach Kyle Webber at Nutrivolve. I am conscious that I am not only feeding and nourishing myself but another being also, and am ensuring to get a range of healthy food in each day. That said…the long term strategy is that I will return to both gridiron and fitness modelling when I am ready and able to post birth. This is helping me not to give into EVERY craving (though there have certainly been a few—I cannot get enough of lemon and am loving indulging in pastas and garlic bread).

Jessica: For me the change in mindset has been with my approach to work and prioritising myself. Having experienced two UTIs with the first seeing me spend a week in bed, I realised that I needed to put not necessarily myself first but the wellbeing of the growing baby inside me. This meant reviewing my work schedule and adding in blocks of time to achieve tasks and allocate set hours for meetings. Prior to falling pregnant, I was working 18 hour days and connected to social media and email throughout the whole time. It wasn’t healthy, it wasn’t productive and it wasn’t helping anyone. It’s the one thing the doctor/midwife will continually tell you and that is to REST. For some of you this may require letting go of things and delegating to others — just like I had to. I  bought myself a journal to write in whenever I felt something  (happy, overwhelmed, teary, scared etc) and I also sought out the support of a prenatal counsellor (though I hate that term) just to get a few feelings and concerns off my chest. It helps immensely, particularly if you’re struggling to articulate what you’re experiencing.

Useful resources…

Bron: Resources I have found useful include:

  • Baby Center — A great website that a wonderful friend further along in her pregnancy recommended to me. It’s full of great information, you can download their app as my husband has done and log in to it at anytime. It gives you insight into what your bub is up to and things to expect, and I have signed up to the weekly emails that I very much look forward to that give me a weekly update into what bub is doing, how bub is developing and things I can expect.
  • Kaz Cooke’s Up the Duff is the only book I have read and at the moment is the only book I intend to read. It is frank and honest insight written by an Australian. I was given it by a wonderful friend when I was just recovering from nausea and not yet feeling particularly maternal — then having associated guilt’s about that. Not even 12 weeks pregnant and experiencing mummy guilt!!!! Crazy!

Jessica: It’s easy to download a bunch of apps onto your phone but I really recommend only one or two as you can become extremely overwhelmed with information. Also if you do download an app check which country it is based on — many are American. I downloaded the Pregnancy app and What to Expect (yes, it’s US). The What to Expect app has weekly videos that Mr. B and I watch each Saturday morning in bed to see what baby is doing and what’s happening on the inside. As for books, I picked up the What to Expect When Expecting (quite in-depth and a little worst-case-scenario) and then discovered Up the Duff a week or two later on the recommendation from our very own Amanda Whitley. Up the Duff is frank but fun, and tells it like it is. It has certainly made a difference and helped with the mindset.

Words of assurance…

Bron: It’s a super exciting, scary, emotional, tiring, wonderful time. Be kind to yourself – everyone’s journey is different and accept yours for what it is. Listen to your body and give it what it tells you — food, sleep, fresh air, the more you listen to your body rather than fight against it the easier things can be.

Jessica: Just breathe and be kind to yourself. Allow yourself to go through the rollercoaster ride of morning sickness, emotions, excitement and the fact that you are growing a little human (or two) inside you. The biggest piece of advice my mum gave me recently is to enjoy being pregnant…particularly if it is your first. Every pregnancy you have is special, but there’s something ultra special about your first.

So with Bron currently 18 weeks and 2 days, and myself sitting at 17 weeks 3 days, we’re officially one trimester down with two to go!

Bronwen’s Expected Due Date: 18 October 2015

Jessica’s Expected Due Date: 24 October 2015

We’d like to know how many of our readers are expecting too…Let us know in the poll below…

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Jessica Schumann

A 'rambling ranga' at heart, Jessica Schumann is a bubbly, creative social thinker who thrives on words, social media and an innate knack for sharing stories. When she finds the time to write, Jessica seeks out the beauty in change and the essence of human condition. Varied and diverse in nature, her writing delves into the enviable world of people, travel, food and culture. When you can't find her in a nook writing, just follow your nose and you’ll soon find Jessica indulging in her other passion – cooking – or curled up on the couch with a good book in hand. You can find her over at ramblingranga.com.au. More about the Author

Bronwen Stead

Bronwen is a Social Worker and is working as a Mindset and Wellness Coach with Nutrivolve and The Physique Coach supporting people to achieve their physical goals. More about the Author

  • Congratulations to you both. Crazy, wonderful, exhausting, joyful times ahead 🙂

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