Motherhood Uncut: Haylee Pt2

In part one, Haylee took us through her infertility and the moment she finally found out she was pregnant, but it wasn’t smooth sailing from then on. In part two, Haylee talks about being told she would lose her baby, living her high risk pregnancy week to week and when the reality of motherhood hit her.

On thinking she had miscarried:

I think it was a 60% of miscarriage for the first twenty weeks or something like that.

Once that result came in, it was confirmed, “Yes, you’re pregnant,” and we got past that, I was on edge for a while. Especially because we had a subchorionic hematoma, accompanied by a burst cyst. I was actually in a lot of pain and bleeding, and I was at the early pregnancy assessment service and I thought we had lost the baby then. And then because I’d gone and gotten so many early ultrasounds, which is probably a bit silly because it’s hard to pick up accurate measurements of things then, they then said, “Oh, okay, but the heart rate’s dropped this much.”

I think I was ten weeks. And they said, “Okay, look, the chances aren’t good. You probably will lose the pregnancy. It might go on, but be prepared that you’ll lose and we’ll get you to come in for another scan and book you in for a D&C next week.” They were already trying to book me in to let go of the baby. And I just remember going home and I had to go to work as well, the next day. And I was just sobbing at my desk saying, “I’m sorry, I’ve got to go home.”

It was just really hard because finally we actually had something there and… you don’t know. If Neve passed away now obviously it’d be much different, I know her smell, I know her smile, her laugh, her voice. But yeah, you still mourn and it’s not just mourning that a baby’s passed, it’s only a ball of cells at that stage, but it’s once again mourning what could’ve been. We were nearly there, we’d gotten that close, our chance is gone and … because you are, at that stage, you’re already planning, “Okay, this is when I’ll go on mat leave and this’ll be it’s birthday…” Yeah, that was hard.

I remember I just didn’t want to be at Christmas and have everyone ask me, because I’d obviously told my family that I was pregnant. I guess you just don’t want people to look at you through that lens of, “Oh, poor Haylee.” I didn’t want that. 

But then we waited for the ultrasound, thinking the baby wasn’t going to be there and I didn’t feel as sick and I don’t know, maybe it was just psychosomatic, I was convincing myself it had gone. And then we went in and the heartbeat was strong and the growth had happened and they were like, “Oh no, the baby’s fine.”

I was like, “I’ve been a wreck for the past seven days, I’ve been going to acupuncture and taking all these medicines and doing crazy things to try and save it,” and yeah, it was fine.

On her high risk pregnancy:

I had hyperemesis gravidarum, so that wasn’t fun. I remember feeling like Elizabeth’s Banks’ character in “What to expect when you’re expecting”. I had this vision of pregnancy which was amazing, but the reality was vomiting, acid reflux, sciatica, vision blurs, and fainting. It was like living the world’s worst hangover over and over every day. But I was obsessed with my growing bump, even though I couldn’t show it off like I had imagined because of covid restrictions.

But feeling my baby in my womb, watching Corey’s excitement over all the dad things he was going to do and having the pregnancy app actually progress for once and track my baby’s growth outweighed any of that.

Then we had a few more bumps along the road during pregnancy as well, where they said we had fluid around the heart and the growth wasn’t working. And we had a few more scares too. 

Through my fertility journey, I researched and I learnt to feel when my cervix was soft and opening and when I was ovulating and what the cervical mucus felt like. I remember I was… I think I’d had a bath or something and I was just… feeling, and I felt my cervix was a bit different.

And I went into the hospital and I was like, “It feels different, I think something’s happening.” I had a bit of slight bleeding as well. And they were like, “No, no, no, it’s fine. Go in for a scan tomorrow,” and then at the scan they said, “Yeah, it’s shortened.” It had halved from two weeks ago and started to shorten. 

I went on medication to stop from going into labour. And then it became a countdown every week. 

We researched, “Okay, we’re at twenty-five weeks now, the chance of survival is this. We’re at twenty-six weeks now, the chance of survival is this. Okay, we’re at twenty-eight weeks, all right. At this stage we can get some injections and the lungs might be okay.” Then it was living the pregnancy just week by week, how good our chances of having a live birth were and having a baby at the end of all of this. That was another part of the journey. And then we got preeclampsia at the end. But at that stage she was pretty much full term, so it was fine. It was just like, “Get the baby out.”

I was just a day before thirty-nine weeks, which was amazing because we were at twenty-four weeks thinking we were going to have this kid. And then I was three centimeters dilated for weeks and she was engaging for months before birth. For me, I was ready for labour at any time. I went on mat leave early and everything. And at that stage I was like, “Yeah, get her out.”

On meeting her baby:

I just remember just being in such shock that she was actually here and we’d made a baby and … Sorry, I’m crying. And I remember looking at Corey and he was just, I’ve never seen him hysterically cry. And his tears were just dripping on … I was like, “Move away.” But I just remember looking at her and being like, “Oh my god, I made her, she’s here, it happened.” 

I was just in shock, I think, for the first… I just cried. I just stared at her and cried. And I didn’t even know that they stitched me up. I didn’t even know anyone else was in the room, to be honest, because I had tunnel vision on her.

Just like, “Oh my gosh, this precious little thing that we’ve waited so long for, that we saw as a little ball of cells on a screen that we just didn’t know what was going to happen,” and she was here.

On the first few months of motherhood:

Well, I work in early childhood as well, so I think I had a really rosy idea of what parenthood was going to be like. I saw all the great parts of children when they’d gone home and had a sleep and had come in a good mood with their friends and were playing and you just don’t see what happens behind closed doors. 

And because I imagined what it was going to be like for so long, I just had put parenthood on this pedestal of how perfect it’s going to be. I think it was an awakening when it actually happened.

It was difficult. Neve had jaundice quite badly, she was in the special care unit under lights. She was pretty sleepy for the first month, to the point where they would take blood tests from her… They pierced her foot to get blood out and she wouldn’t even wake up. And basically, because she had the jaundice and wasn’t feeding great and she got readmitted again into hospital, we had to have daily hospital appointments and weigh ins.

I’ve been pumping and breastfeeding and bottle feeding expressed breast milk for four months now, which takes two hours each feed. And I wasn’t sleeping, and she wasn’t sleeping because she’d just want to sleep on you, and you’ve got to stay awake because you can’t roll on them.

I think it was just that I didn’t imagine how hard it would be. I found myself just literally leaned up against the shower wall exhausted, crying. Just like, “Oh my gosh, this is so hard. How could it be so different than what I imagined it to be?” And then, people would ask you how it was going, and I always felt really pressured to be like, “It’s amazing. It’s wonderful. It’s what we’ve always wanted.” And I felt really guilty feeling that there were shitty parts of motherhood, which there are. There are shitty parts of motherhood.

I felt like I wasn’t entitled to feel that way about it because I should just feel so lucky to have this little girl and I shouldn’t feel upset at any part or think that it’s hard or anything. I struggled with that a bit, because I wouldn’t ask for help when I needed it and I just was like, “Oh, yeah, yeah, it’s all good, it’s all good. It’s wonderful.” When in fact I was struggling because we had so many appointments and she wasn’t a great feeder and she wasn’t sleeping and she had colic and reflux and was upset quite a lot of the time. And I found that really challenging mentally, internally having that battle of, “Oh, this is really hard… Oh, you shouldn’t think that because this is what you’ve always wanted and you’re just so lucky to have it.”

That was really hard. And I felt guilty a lot. I think as well, yeah, envisioned, “I’m going to talk to my child 24/7, I’m going to do this … ” and I had all these plans. And then when you’re in the thick of it, you’re just so tired. You just don’t understand what sleep deprivation is like and then I felt guilty, I was like, “What about your plans that you had for this? And why aren’t you doing that?” 

I felt like motherhood was a bit jaded with the guilt that came along with IVF, that I shouldn’t feel that way and I should be doing more, and I should be taking this opportunity and running with it. And that really affected how I entered motherhood.

And I felt I wasn’t entitled to that opinion or that thought process that motherhood’s hard and challenging, or that there are shitty parts of it. I just felt like I just had to be like, “Yes, everything’s fine.” And that that was an extra layer of pressure as well, yeah.

On her advice for new mums:

I think that yes, even though you are more grateful because you’ve struggled to be there that you are entitled to feel that way. That it doesn’t matter how you get to motherhood, that we all are in the same boat and we all deal with the same challenges, and have the same feelings and hormonal up and downs and sleep deprivation, and it doesn’t mean that you’re squandering your chance, or it doesn’t mean that you don’t love your child, or that you’re not grateful for getting that child. It just means that you’re a mother and shit happens. And it’s hard. And motherhood’s hard for everyone, whether you are an adoptive mother or a foster mum or a step mum or you’ve had your babies naturally with no issue or you’ve had to have a sperm donor or you’re a single mum, it’s hard. Motherhood is hard.

Your feelings are valid, always, no matter where they come from.

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