Becoming a mama is one of life’s greatest gifts and to celebrate we’re running a feature each month dedicated to a Sassy Mama-to-be and her beautiful bump! This week we’re sitting down with East Coast mama Caroline Brennan and chatting about her favourite pregnancy moments, crazy cravings and how she handled a birth that was completely different than what she’d planned for. Her first baby, Lily Oriana, was born on 27 December, 2014 weighing 3.5 kg.
What was your reaction when you first found out you were pregnant?
We were thrilled! Although I already had a sixth sense sort of feeling that I was pregnant, when the test came back positive it was still slightly surreal. The doctor told me it was still early days though, so my husband and I took a ‘cautiously excited’ kind of approach to me being pregnant.
What’s your funniest memory over the 9 months?
Let’s just say that while squats might be a great exercise for labour preparation, it doesn’t combine well with the increased flatulence you get when pregnant… My husband and I were in stitches!
Any great books and resources that prepared you for when your baby arrived?
My friend gave me a book called The Sensational Baby Sleep Plan by Alison Scott-Wright, which I’ve found extremely helpful since Lily was born. We aren’t ‘there’ yet (and as Lily has reflux & colic, things have been particularly tough!) but it has been great to have some sort of structure to work around. The fact there is a whole chapter on reflux and how to diagnose and manage it was crucial for me when we were at our wits’ end trying to understand why Lily was so miserable!
What do you think every woman should know before getting pregnant?
Labour seems to be what everyone focuses on, when in my opinion, the first four weeks since my daughter was born have been the really tough part. It is magical being a mum, and I have many moments when I look at my daughter and just overflow with love for her, but boy are the first few weeks hard! I have been so lucky to have wonderful friends drop by to keep me company, offer moral support and encouragement (and keep me sane!), which I don’t think I could have managed without.
What was the easiest trimester and which one proved most difficult?
My second trimester was fantastic. I almost didn’t feel pregnant! I felt full of energy and had started sleeping really soundly again. Although in the last weeks of pregnancy I felt very tired and seriously ready to have my body back again, I think overall I found the first trimester the hardest because between weeks 6 and 13 I had quite bad morning sickness and wasn’t sleeping very well, but couldn’t let on to anyone except a few close friends how awful I was feeling. And obviously I still had to go to work every day pretending everything was as normal. At least in the last trimester there is more empathy as it’s fairly obvious you’re pregnant!
Did you follow a fitness programme while you were pregnant?
Not a ‘programme’ as such, but I swam and did yoga fairly regularly, as well as doing exercises designed to prepare your body for labour (squats, pelvic rocking, stretching etc).
Any fashion tips and tricks for maternity dressing?
I found that wearing loose/flowing clothes just made me look bigger than I was, so I stuck to clothes that fit over my bump and figure more snugly. Let’s just say my skinny grey maternity jeans from H&M are pretty worn!
Did you have any weird and wonderful cravings?
My main craving was oranges. In any form really, but particularly orange juice, which I could drink by the gallon! I generally really craved fresh food and vegetables, and in my first trimester I went completely off meat for a good month.
What did you struggle with most being pregnant?
Not being able to pack as much in as I normally do! Particularly in my third trimester, I found I was shattered by 8pm so evenings out were pretty much a no-go. I also started getting back pain if I was upright for long periods and needed to lay flat after a day at work.
Name a mama you find inspiring and why?
I love Angelina Jolie – not just as a mother but in general. She is a great role model, manages to juggle a career she is passionate about alongside parenthood, and seems to really allow her children to be individuals.
What are your thoughts about finding out the sex in advance?
We found out the sex in advance because we didn’t feel we needed it to be a ‘surprise’, but in fact it was a slightly traumatic experience in that we were told we were having a boy at 16 weeks, only to then be told it was a girl at 21 weeks! As we had spent five weeks connecting to what we thought was a little boy, it was hard to readjust. We are so happy to have our beautiful little girl now, but I would advise anyone wanting to find out the sex that the doctors do sometimes get it wrong, so keep an open mind!
What kind of birth did you have?
I had planned to have a completely natural drug-free water birth at Thomson Medical Centre but in the end, had a very long first stage (30+ hrs). It was really tough so I chose finally to go for the epidural, which – although it meant I couldn’t have the water birth – I have absolutely no regrets about! I did have a bit of a reaction to the epidural but was then fine once the dose had been adjusted, and the last stage was a really positive and wonderful experience for me.
What helped you get your groove back after being pregnant?
I’m not sure I’ve quite got it back yet as it’s only four weeks since Lily was born… still a work in progress! But meeting up with other new mums has been really invaluable to help me feel like a) we can share our ups & downs and are not doing it alone and b) have a glass of wine and a laugh! My husband also suggested I go to have my hair done last weekend while he took care of our daughter, and I felt like a new person just having a few hours of ‘me’ time. He got serious daddy brownie points!
Do you have any mama-friendly favourite places to hang out with your baby? Why?
We live near Telok Kurau Park which, although small, is a lovely, tree-shaded place where I can take Lily in the BabyBjorn or pram for an afternoon stroll to get some fresh air. We have also been to Cafe Melba a few times since Lily was born and find it a great baby-friendly place for brunch or lunch.
Any local businesses that made your pregnancy journey easier?
I really enjoyed my maternity shoot with Sugarlight Photography; it’s so great to have some beautiful shots of what I now look back on as a very special time.
We did antenatal classes with Parentlink, which helped prepare both my husband and me for the labour … even though our birth plan went completely out the window! I also made some great friends with girls who were due at the same time as I was, through a Facebook group.
What are your hopes and dreams for your baby?
It’s kind of strange to imagine our tiny little baby becoming an adult, but really my only wish is that she grows up to be a confident, warm girl who finds a partner, friends and a path in life that make her happy.
Thanks so much Caroline! All photos in the article above were taken by the extremely talented Gunilla of Sugarlight Photography. If you’re looking for picture perfect memories of you and your bump or your family, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.