Random Thoughts

Blog Series | Once Upon a Time, I Gave Birth Four Times by Adrienne Bogatie

Adrienne did a feature last year on my blog, and she is back again for another turn!

She shares her story about life, her pregnancies and the struggles that accompanied them.6d364a6784ec511752cf351af570448d

Here is her story:

I am a full time working mom, I work for a nice guy and who also happens to be a really good orthopaedic surgeon, I started my own business in June 2015, I blog and teach women how to meal and menu plan and reduce their spending, especially in the grocery shopping area and I am also trying run my home, I am managing all of these only somewhat successfully (some more successfully than others).

Life has been filled with ups and downs. When we first got married, life was good; we had money, so we bought a large empty house, with the thought of filling it with children. I had a job at a very busy GP practice with 2 wonderful young doctors.

A few months into our marriage we decided that we would start trying for a baby. As the first year passed, and we still hadn’t conceived, the gynaecologist referred us to the fertility clinic. This is an experience that tests the strength your marriage to its limits and beyond, it turns your life upside down and for women it is like having permanent PMS and your first three months of pregnancy all rolled into one.  I can’t even imagine what it was like for my husband, living with the monster I turned into for those years. I would not wish this experience on my worst enemy.

By the end of the first year of treatment, I left my job; I had to, as I was no longer able to communicate properly with difficult patients because I didn’t have any patience! At one stage I even swore at the one doctor. People who know me would be shocked, I DON’T SWEAR! I went for counselling, which I think should have been compulsory.

The tests that we underwent were gruelling and often painful, the daily injections, the blood tests and scans, grew tiresome and I was often teary. The insensitivity of family, friends and even strangers, was unbearable. People felt no shame in asking either why I wasn’t pregnant yet, or when were we planning to start a family.

During the second year of treatment, I got bored not working and started making clothes, hired a lady to help and made some pocket money, except I am not a great sales person and also struggled to deal with customers, who are always right. I also started a dressmaking course, with a very talented teacher, who is probably one of the most depressing individuals around, but she taught me how to design and make beautiful clothes. I eventually had to stop, when I was pregnant with my second child, it was a hard pregnancy and I would come home from classes too depressed to function.

In February 1996, I fell pregnant with my first child, this was after 4 years of failed artificial insemination attempts, they never diagnosed the problem, finally they agreed to IVF. It was at this time that my husband and I decided that if the IVF didn’t work we would stop treatment, and begin to consider adoption. I am sure you know the result of the one and only IVF procedure.

I knew before my pregnancy test that it had worked. The first scan showed what appeared to be two heartbeats. TWINS, I was so excited. The next scan came after I started bleeding slightly, the good news, I was still pregnant. The bad news, there was now only one heartbeat.

I had a relatively easy pregnancy, with no morning sickness and no cravings; I gained weight appropriately and did well. I did have one episode of early labour around 34 weeks, and was hospitalised, but after that all seemed to go well.

Before I talk about the labour and delivery, you need to know, I only weighed 43kg at the start of my pregnancy and had a size 2 shoe, by the end I weight 58kg and my shoe size was 2 ½ .

My gynaecologist went on holiday, but was due back two weeks before my due date, so we had no worries. I went to his locum, a doctor who should have retired about ten years before then, he said all was well and next week I would go back to my doctor.

On Thursday night after work (I was working part time as a receptionist for a friend), I went to my mother to get into her Jacuzzi, it was December, it was hot and I felt like an elephant. She was reluctant to allow me to stay for dinner, because she was making curry for supper and was nervous about it bringing on labour (an old wives tale that spicy food brings on labour). One thing you need to know, is that my mother’s curry is not curry, it has curry flavour.

My son decided not to wait. Waking up on the morning of Friday the 13th at 4am with what
I thought was a spastic colon attack from stress (the baby room wasn’t anywhere near ready) I paced around the house, at 6 am I called my GP and ex-boss and asked what I could take, his answer, “a car to the hospital”. I was admitted to the labour ward at 8am. I was only 3 centimetres dilated, the locum quack, came, examined me and insisted that I have an epidural, which I didn’t want, the contractions weren’t that painful.IMG-20160414-WA0002

I gave in eventually to his so called expertise and had the epidural; it stopped my labour, so they put up a drip, to start it going again. I was now not expecting any pain at all. The first contraction hit, I almost went through the roof. The epidural had not taken.  I refused a top up and began breathing through the contractions; they really weren’t terrible now that I was expecting them.

It was now time to go to the delivery room. I could see that the nurses did not have much faith in this doctor, and when he pulled out the forceps to deliver my baby, I almost lost control. I told him in no uncertain terms to leave and the midwives delivered my rather bruised son at 37 weeks.

He weighed all of 2, 5 kg, he was healthy and crying well. He had a full head of hair, so there goes the myth of heartburn and hairy babies. He still has a mark on his head from the forceps.  The doctor, then said, that if we have a larger baby, I must be prepared to have a C-section.

My son was born with a hypospadias; this is where the opening for the urethra is not on the end of the penis but rather underneath. At 18 months, we spent a week in hospital, it was repaired, at has never caused any issues.

This boy of ours is going to be 20 this year, he was the most amazing baby, and we would have to check on him every 3-4 hours for feeding, because he almost never cried. He still hardly gives us any problems.

I am not cut out to be a stay at home mom. I decided to start looking for work.

Nine months later, I was shocked to discover that I was pregnant again, this time naturally, I was grew so rapidly that I had to put elastic in my skirts, and I wasn’t even three months pregnant. I grew huge with my pregnancy, going over the 65kg mark, at 35 weeks I could no longer drive, because if I could get behind the steering wheel, I couldn’t reach the clutch. During my pregnancy, I worked as a short term temp, as my computer and typing skills are quite good.

I had a fair amount of pelvic pain from around 30 weeks, as my pelvis would move with each step I took. I was 35 weeks, when my son had is surgery. At 38 weeks my doctor decided that as the baby was over 3kg already, we could safely induce. I did try the spicy food thing and the bumpy driving and all the other stuff they tell you can bring on labour, but none of it worked.

I was admitted on Thursday the 18 June at 11 am, the drip was started and monitors put on, labour began, and my waters were broken. The doctor examined me at 2pm, said that I was progressing nicely, and would be ready in an hour to an hour and a half.

Ten minutes later the pain got a lot worse and I decided that if I still had an hour to go, I would need that epidural; she had a quick look and said, “Too late”. My doctor must have had a premonition, because he arrived at that moment.

At 2:30pm my daughter was born, weight 3, 7 kg, naturally with no epidural. Another full head of hair, but she had the most horrible cry, it sounded like a door in need of lubrication, her second name means song, and we felt she needed the assistance. She has the most beautiful signing voice.1st photo

At 6 weeks, I and mother started to suspect, that my new baby was deaf (they didn’t do the testing routinely in those days), but neither of us said anything to each other. At 3 months we were certain. We went to see an ENT specialist, and were told she had glue ears, she could hear nothing. At 4 months old she had her first set of grommets, 6 weeks later she could hear, she had 8 more sets of grommets by the time she was 6 years old. She now only suffers from selective hearing loss. She also had numerous bouts of Croup.

I was 6 months pregnant, when the business that my husband was in the process of becoming a partner, went insolvent. Now we were both not working, eventually he managed to find a new job, but we had been without any income for 4 months, a toddler and a new baby. We almost lost our house.

I managed to find data capture work, which allowed me to take my new born baby with. My husband found a job in field that he had never worked before, so it was a learning curve. He was there for 4 years.

Things were coming right and we decided to try for number 3. After a year, we went to the gynaecologist, his verdict after many blood tests and scans, was that if we wanted another child, we would need to return to the fertility clinic. NOT HAPPENING!

We went home, and sold most of our baby stuff, we lent our friends, the cot, the pram and the baby bath, as they were having triplets. Not 3 months later, I was pregnant. My husband was unfairly dismissed and took his previous employer to CCMA and won his case. He found another job 2 months later.

I was 17 weeks pregnant when my doctor diagnosed the baby with Hydrocephalus, this is fluid on the brain, these babies are often born with severely enlarged heads and brain damage, we were sent to a foetal specialist, who suggested termination. I am not personally against termination, but for us it was not something we could agree to.

Needless to say, it was an extremely long and trying pregnancy, there were only about 4 people who agreed with our decision not to terminate, none of whom were family. I told one family member not to come to the hospital when I gave birth, as she didn’t deserve to know if the baby was normal or not. I did a lot of research, during my pregnancy.

On Wednesday 16th January, my little girl was born via C-section; her skull measurements were normal, however, her CT scan still showed fluid. She weighed 3.2kg and another one with a full head of hair. I had to obviously have a spinal anaesthetic.  I have an extremely vivid imagination, a fear of needles, and medical knowledge of all that can go wrong during this procedure, it is not something I will do readily again. I was shaking so badly that the nurses had to hold me still.4th kid

When baby was 3 weeks we went for our skull check- up, her head measurements showed that the skull had started to enlarge and were told that she would need a shunt put in to drain the fluid. We spent a week in hospital. The shunt, worked well, never blocked and never needed replacing, at her 12 year visit to the surgeon, we discovered that in the 5 years since her last visit, the shunt had broken off.  She no longer needed it. My daughter is 14 this year; with no brain damage what so ever. She does have a squint, and has been in glasses since she was 3. The squint is not related to her hydrocephalus.

We had baby number 4, 2 years after number 3, and she made up for the lack of morning sickness in my other pregnancies. I landed in hospital on a drip for a week with severe vomiting.

My doctor agreed to allow me to go back to natural birth with her, on condition that I come in the very minute labour starts, as going back to natural from C-section can be dangerous.

I was now working for half day for a health company, and my husband had been promoted to manager of one of the stores, in the group he worked for.

He went on a manager’s retreat and I moved with the 3 kids to my parents, for the weekend, I was 38 weeks pregnant. I had a dull ache the entire weekend. My husband came home on Sunday night and on Monday we all went back to work. I was sitting at my desk when I commented to one of the other nursing sisters, that it was ridiculous to have period pain, when I was pregnant. There was this odd silence and then she asked when my next check-up was. The check-up was that day.

I got thoroughly yelled at and admitted to labour ward, because apparently I had been in labour for the weekend. The doctor would not let me go home to get my bag, we only live 15 minutes from the hospital, I couldn’t get hold of any family, my husband, he was having his annual asthma check-up, my mother was having her annual check-up at the diabetic centre, my father was at a meeting in Pretoria and my mother in law was doing my school lifts, so there I lay from 1 pm with no books to read, not enough money in my wallet to buy a magazine, or even a chocolate!

When my mom arrived at 5, she looked at me and asked, ‘Are you sure you are in labour?’ up until this point I had had nothing more than mild cramping, but the monitor was showing definite contractions. Along came my doctor, who looked at the monitor, examined me, broke my waters and with that a contraction hit, in my back. I can honestly say that women who have back labour, should get a medal, the pain was beyond describable, I nearly asked for an epidural. Thank goodness, I only had one of those and then the contractions went back to being mildly annoying.

My husband arrived at 6, followed shortly by my mother in law and then my father. My 4th child was born at 8pm on the 9 February 2004, weighing 3,2kg and another full head of hair!

After 4 children I now wear size 3 shoes, but sadly I weigh more now than at any height of any of my pregnancies, I am slowly losing weight through my menu planning.

I had two miscarriages 2 years after the birth of my last child, but nothing in the last 6 years. I was advised after the last miscarriage to have a hysterectomy, but I am struggling with what a lot of women struggle to come to terms with, when having had to have a hysterectomy, the finality of not having more children, the loss of an organ that appears to be part of what makes us female, not true I know, but it is something that society drums into us, your uterus and your breasts make you a woman.  This is a normal phenomenon, even with women who have been on birth control, because they didn’t want more children.

My mother says that each child brings to your home their own blessings. I am blessed with 4 beautiful, healthy children, each with their own unique personalities; I would not change them for the world.

Adrienne 4 kids.jpg
L to R: 2, 4, 1, 3

About Adrienne:

Hi, my name is Adrienne. I am an Observant (mostly) Jewess, married for 25 years this year, I am a mother of 4 teenagers. I call them my bottomless pits (Food- 1 boy and money – 3 girls); I am a Registered Nurse (graduated in 1988) and keep a kosher home on a very tight budget. We have 1 very large golden Labrador, who I love and 3 cats who I tolerate (my daughters love their cats).

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