Pregnant in (Joburg) ~ Chatting with Karen Herman

Today’s interview is with Karen Herman from Joburg. As I was writing this, Karen was sitting in hospital waiting to hear if her baby girl would be arriving today at 35 weeks due to suspected pre-eclampsia. Luckily, the first round of tests have come back negative and she has been sent home to rest. For a while there I thought that would be two interviews in a row that I was introducing new babies to you :)

Karen & All

Karen is a very busy preggy mommy; working as the Personal Assistant to the Managing Director of an ISP, along with being a mommy to the adorable six year old Avha La’Shae and a gorgeous Alsatian puppy named Rocco, and an adoring wife to Allistair. “My ‘free’ time is divided between the 6 year old, the husband and the Alsatian puppy, who all seem to have their own unique sets of demands, usually all at the same time.

She has been blessed with an incredible support system with her family, friends, colleagues and her boss, which definitely helps. “I am very lucky my parents live just up the road from us; my mom has been very hands on in terms of giving advice, and making sure I eat correctly and look after myself during both my pregnancies.”

Avha & Granny

Avha & Granny

Her husband sounds like someone all daddies-to-be should aspire to be. “Allistair has been incredible through both pregnancies. From the body massages, the late night craving runs, to the mop-and-bucket-morning sickness-cleaner-upper; he has done it all with no complaints (at least no verbal ones!) He could definitely author a hand book guiding expectant fathers about the do’s and don’ts on how to be the ideal man/husband/lover/punching bag for the duration of a woman’s pregnancy.”

It must be love

“We have a full time nanny who is more excited about the new baby than any of us!We are lucky to have her and I know she will make things one hundred times easier on all of us.”

Karen also has an amazing boss, who set up a home office for her for the days when she felt she couldn’t make it in during her pregnancy; it will also allow her to transition back into the working world at her own pace after baby arrives.

Pregnancy 1 & 2

Karen belly
Both babies were unexpected gifts, 6 years apart. Always careful with birth control, they had no reason to suspect Karen was pregnant with her first.

“We had no reason to believe it was even a possibility until one day I got so sick and my doctor couldn’t find anything wrong with me; he suggested we take a pregnancy test and the rest, as they say, is history.”

Her first pregnancy was relatively easy apart from the “morning” sickness and she recalls the low point as missing being pregnant and feeling “she was no longer a part of me physically” after her daughter was born. “The highlight was definitely feeling her very first kick. Things got extra special when Daddy used to come home from work and talk to the tum’ and immediately there would be a ruckus of movement and kicking.”

Her second pregnancy was also a complete surprise, with suspected food poisoning turning out to be a little human making her presence known.

“I got very sick in November last year after eating some peaches off a friend’s tree in her garden; we were convinced it was food poisoning and it would soon pass. It didn’t, and a few weeks later we did a home test and voila! Once we got over the shock we embraced it and knew if she was anything like baby number 1, we couldn’t wait to meet her! We are so excited to have another little person to call our own and that Avha La’Shae will have a sibling to share, nurture and grow with.”

Carrying baby number 2 has been a lot more difficult and stressful than the first time around. “For the duration of the pregnancy I have had terrible “morning” sickness (all day sickness, to be frank), aches and pains, a rollercoaster of high blood pressure, then low blood pressure. I’ve had difficulty breathing, sleeping, and all in all, just being. And all of this while working a highly demanding full time job.”

Having babies
She remembers her first pregnancy as going incredibly quickly and relatively painlessly, and ending in a fast, drug-free natural delivery, “It allowed me to heal quickly and enjoy my baby without the difficulties of recovery”. Her only regret is that the experience was quite formal and in a clinical setting.

Kisses

This time round she feels like she has been pregnant forever. She is hoping to have a natural birth again and has chosen a very beautiful birthing facility who shares the same values and expectations they have when it comes to delivery.

“I intend this to be my last child and I want to experience a more holistic and spiritual birth this time around. I cant wait to get into the delivery room and work my magic, knowing what a sweet reward it shall be at the end.”

The suspected pre-eclampsia of the past week has brought up talk of having to have a c-section, which is causing Karen a lot of anxiety. I’ve spoken to her quite a bit about it and even though I’m hoping she gets the natural birth she is planning for; I hope I have eased some of her concerns about having a c-section. Aside from the fear of the procedure itself, a lot of anxiety is brought up when the expectations and planning you have done come face to face with a rather abrupt and different reality. Karen is incredibly strong and will do whatever is necessary for her beautiful baby girl, but we will all send our love, wishes, hopes and prayers her way that she gets the birth she is wanting.

What’s in a name?
Karen and her family had decided that baby number 2’s name would remain a secret until she was born; but after chatting to me they decided to share it with all of us! Both girls have such beautiful names, so here is Karen’s story on how they come about.

“I wanted our first born’s name to honour Allistair in some way, which became a challenge once we discovered she was a girl. I decided our daughter should have the same initial as he does, and after much deliberation (with myself mostly), we decided to name her Avha La’Shae. I feel it is a strong, beautiful name, which is unique to her and one she can carry her whole life feeling exactly the same way about it.”

Avha & Dad

“I wanted to continue this trend with baby girl number two, and settled on Aariyah; pronounced Aa-ree-ya. The definition of her name is ‘powerful & complete’. I feel that is what she brings to our family – a sense of completion… In other words, the shop is now closed!”

Mommy of 2
“I always said after having Avha La’Shae that if I had to, by some miracle, have another baby, it wouldn’t be before she began primary school – she starts grade one next year! They do say be careful what you wish for… :)”

Karen wanted to focus all of her energy, love and time on her first daughter, experiencing all her early developmental stages and not missing anything, which she got to do. So Aariyah is arriving at a perfect time.

Karen is looking forward to being a mommy of two, embracing it as a new experience. “I have never been one to back down from a challenge! Bring it on!”

She can’t wait to see Avha La’Shae be a big sister; who is already dividing her toys into ‘baby toys’ and ‘big girl’ toys; setting aside her baby blankets for her sister and telling all who will listen about the impending arrival. She’s even made it known she is willing to change nappies, but definitely not the “stinky” ones.

Avha touching her sister for the first time

Avha touching her sister for the first time

“She is a mature little girl with an old soul and a touching spirit. She is sensitive, helpful, gentle and caring, just like her daddy, and she is going to be the best big sister a new baby could have.”

Avha at 4 years

They took Avha to the first 4D scan to introduce her to the baby. “Once she saw Aari up on the screen, she melted and immediately put on her big sister cap; sternly giving her father and I a list of things which would be her responsibilities and a list which would be ours. She was extremely excited and has remained that way throughout.”

She is impatiently awaiting her sister’s arrival so she can “teach her Kung Fu, how to write her name and memorize Mama’s phone number”, which is something she has recently learnt.

Words of Wisdom
I decided to not take to heart the millions of pieces of advice people tend to dish out when they find out you are expecting. I decided to take it all in my stride with many pinches of salt – I truly believe only you will know what’s best when it comes to your body and your baby.

The best advice you received when you were pregnant
Trust your instincts! Your gut will never steer you wrong.

Advice for first time mommies-to-be about pregnancy?
Take it one day at a time and if that is too overwhelming to you, take it hour by hour, or minute by minute if you have to. Everyone experiences this differently and sometimes different is good!

Advice for other pregnant mommies with successful high pressure careers?
Know that you can do it! Take comfort knowing that it’s been done before and in some cases with more difficulties. Be honest with yourself and your employer about your limitations, and expectations as clarify what their expectation are of you. There is nothing more refreshing than honest, open communication.

Advice for daddies-to-be from a pregnant mommy
Take it in your stride! This is the same woman you have come to know and love, except for the fact that she is in the process of manufacturing a little human and that takes a lot of work! Support your partner, help out where and when you can. Remember you are in it together! If she is afraid, reassure her; if she is sick or irritable, comfort her. And if, or when, it becomes a little too much and she collapses into a puddle of tears, wrap her up in your arms and wipe away the tears; she will calm and the tears will dry – there is no need for words. The warmth she will feel from you, will be soothing enough.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thank you so much Karen for taking the time, even in such stressful circumstances, to share your story with us. We will all be sending you every single positive thought and hoping you get the birth experience you deserve; and that your baby girl brings you every joy.

Sending all the love xx

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