“I gave birth for the first time at 38”

At 38, most women have had their children and are doing school runs. But I’m not most women, and I gave birth to my first child in 2019.

In August 2017, I suffered a miscarriage and the excitement of hearing the baby’s heartbeat at the first scan was short-lived when the gynae delivered the devastating news. My husband and I had dealt with loss before as a couple, but this was foreign to us and we struggled to cope with it at first. What’s worse, we were still trying to digest the news and deal with our emotions when the doctor advised that she needed to book me in for a dilation and curettage (D&C) the following morning.

The timing couldn’t have been worse as I just started my new job the previous month and had to tell my manager that I would be off for four days. But God truly placed the most compassionate human being in my life and she calmly told me not to worry about anything, to look after myself and to take all the time I need.

I have an older mom who, despite experiencing a miscarriage as well as the loss of a one-month-old baby, did not want to talk about her experiences or how she had felt at that time. She tried her best to encourage me, but the younger generation of women find it therapeutic to talk things through and ask questions.

Did you do something wrong to harm the foetus? Did you eat or drink something you shouldn’t have? Did you lift up any heavy objects? Are you such a horrible person that you don’t deserve to be a mother? As crazy and absurd as these questions might be, I realised that many women feel the same way but are not talking about it. Instead, they bottle their emotions inside which is not beneficial to their health and their relationships with their partners, family and friends.

Chatting to my cousin and friend helped me immensely. Though their experiences were different, the heartache remained the same and I finally realised I was not alone and could stop beating myself up for feeling this way or having such negative thoughts. I was human after all and, in turn, I could encourage and support two friends who went through it later.

With our second pregnancy, we decided to do things differently. Instead of waiting for the “safe zone” of 12 weeks, we broke the news to our parents, siblings and nephew at six weeks (on 13 May 2018, which was my birthday and also Mother’s Day). We revealed to everyone else at the end of the first trimester.

“My husband and I had dealt with loss before as a couple, but this was foreign to us and we struggled to cope with it at first.”

I must admit, a part of me was nervous ahead of every appointment but, as my husband told me, we can’t fear what we do not know. So, we embraced the journey and I had an easy pregnancy with no weight gain, no morning sickness or stretch marks. We even asked our gynae not to reveal the gender, which proved a challenge to my baby shower committee.

Conor Jarrett Johannisen made his arrival on the 3 January 2019 at 9.45am and was immediately loved by all. He had a tough start to his life, spending six days in hospital to maintain his sugar levels and undergo phototherapy to eradicate yellow jaundice. But our little fighter bravely endured the numerous pricks to his tiny feet, the painful needle in his right hand for the drip and to draw blood, which left his battle scar, and having to lie naked with an eye visor in the incubator. When he was discharged, our paediatrician said we could finally enjoy him, which we intend to do for the rest of our lives.

Written by Alison Johannisen.