I know I told you that there would only be 9 stories in the Supermommies’ series; but I thought I’d throw in an extra one just because… Hence “addition” instead of “edition” – that was intentional 😀
Some of you will have noticed the “Featured Blog” image on the site this month. The photo is of the gorgeous Caleb sitting on mommy Carla Gabrielle Smith, who blogs over at Diary of a Fit SA Mommy. The goal of the featured blogger series is to help support and promote other mommy bloggers by introducing them to our readers, who also then get to discover new amazing blogs.
Having read Carla’s Pregnancy Diary, I knew she had waged quite the war during her mommy journey, so I thought adding her to the Supermommies’ series was appropriate. So, here we go…
This is her story
Carla is a 29 year old wife to a rock n roll bassist who runs his own business; and a work at home mommy to the adorable Caleb.
Carla met hubby Freddy at a rock concert, where he was the bassist in the band; 6 weeks later they were married and a month after returning from honeymoon they discovered they were pregnant.
In her own words
After 2 weeks of dating we knew that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together and didn’t want to wait, so we were married a month later. We were both very excited to be parents when we found out we were expecting.
A qualified fitness trainer, Carla decided to work from home when she discovered she was pregnant. In 2014, she started an online pregnancy diary to share her journey. Over time, she began using her knowledge and experience to write health and wellness articles on her blog as well; introducing another world to her.
In her own words
I had a very tough pregnancy, which meant I wasn’t able to see my clients anymore. I started doing a lot of online fitness consultations; and found I enjoyed the flexibility and freedom of it. My blogging opened a lot of doors for me. I’ve always loved writing; before following my fitness path, I had begun a BA in English and Communication. I’ve written a lot of fitness and wellness articles for online magazines; I am the resident wellness expert for the Mamahood groups; and I’m the wellness and fitness editor for Hung Up magazine. I love that I get to use both of my passions.
Pregnancy was not what she expected.
Carla worked in the fitness industry for 8 years as a personal fitness trainer, group trainer, fitness model and a Miss Bikini Fitness Model Champion. Before falling pregnant, she was a size 4 (I didn’t even know that was possible!) She was training 6 times a week, 3 times a day and working out with her clients regularly to motivate them. She was fit and healthy and determined to stay active and not carry any additional weight during her pregnancy.
Carla’s pregnancy was anything but easy. She suffered from constant backache, ligament pain, pelvic joint pain, coccyx pain, nasal stuffiness, acid reflux, hip pain, and excessive pressure on her pelvis and bladder due to her baby’s position.
Carla had had kidney problems before falling pregnant, and being pregnant put a lot of additional strain on them. One of them stopped functioning properly and she suffered from recurrent kidney infections, which meant that she had to be on bed rest for the majority of her pregnancy.
She was allergic to a lot of antibiotics which made it difficult to treat the infections, but treatment was essential to prevent preterm labor. She ended up getting being hospitalized 8 times during her pregnancy and being given IV antibiotics.
In her own words
I’ve always been a fitness fanatic; I was at my peak, extremely lean, strong and toned. I always thought that I would have an easy pregnancy and birth, because I was so healthy. And I really thought I would be able to continue with my exercise throughout my pregnancy.
At eight weeks pregnant I couldn’t even stand up without feeling dizzy and my heart pounding in my throat. I had a check up with a physician and was put on bed rest until the condition improved. It didn’t. I had to move slowly to prevent my heart rate from elevating. I was so determined to stay active, taking slow walks each day.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before at 12 weeks my pelvis had shifted, making it was excruciating to walk. I ended up getting very bad flu in my second trimester and needed to take antiviral medication. I also suffered from recurrent kidney infections. I was bed-bound!
This was so difficult to explain to others; I couldn’t exercise! It was difficult to swallow my words, but I knew in my heart that I was doing it all for my little angel; my little boy who had already filled my heart with so much love and joy. Excited and nervous, I focused on that… And on reading every pregnancy book published. I also did lots of online research on labor and baby wellness while I was on bed rest. I was very prepared.
My biggest fear was that my baby would be born too early. I was very concerned that a lot of the medication that I was given wasn’t completely safe for myself or for baby. I vomited violently through a lot of my pregnancy, because I couldn’t stomach the antibiotics.
I was put onto a prophylactic antibiotic during my third trimester; one of its’ potential side effects was lung collapse; I had to make a choice to put my lungs at risk to make sure my baby’s life wasn’t at risk. Freddy and I were both fearful; we spent a lot of time in prayer and trusted that God was in control.
In the end, the antibiotics didn’t work and she got a severe bladder infection and ended up in preterm labor at 35 weeks. Carla had wanted to have a natural childbirth with an epidural; but after 4 days of labour, she was given an emergency c-section.
In her own words
My contractions started on a Thursday evening. We thought they were braxton hicks, until they became more frequent. We went through to the hospital thinking it was just another kidney infection; we hadn’t bought anything for my hospital stay and we didn’t even pack the baby bag.
When we got to the hospital I was already 1cm dilated. They broke my waters, because my membranes were showing. We were told that baby would arrive by late that night or the next morning. I progressed to 3 cm; contractions were frequent and very painful. I wasn’t allowed to walk around. I was given morphine injections twice for pain.
I still hadn’t progressed further the next day. I was at a government hospital and they were short staffed. There weren’t many doctors on duty and I was only being monitored every 6 – 8 hours. This continued for 3 days, until they decided to do an induction. I was given Pitocin that night, but the nurse gave me the wrong dosage, so my contractions stopped. I was then checked my the doctor 6 hours later and told that they would have to do a c-section the next morning.
After a long and traumatic pregnancy, Carla was faced with finally meeting her baby boy after an unplanned c-section, but that was not the first time she got to meet him. He wasn’t breathing properly and needed to be rushed to the NICU. She never got to see her Caleb when he was born, she wasn’t able to have the skin to skin contact she had dreamed of or able to try to nurse him or even hold him.
In her own words
While I saw my son being rushed away, I never even had a chance to hold him. While I was in recovery, the pediatrician came running past me with my little baby wrapped up in a sheet in her arms. I remember hearing her say OXYGEN. I have never felt so helpless. I later found out that the canister of oxygen that was attached to his incubator was empty. They were finally able to stabilise his breathing and he was taken away.
I was taken away too, to the ward, where I watched other mothers bonding with their newborn babies. When I asked to see my baby the nursing staff refused to take me, saying that I could go when I could walk. On the third day I finally pushed myself to walk. My recovery was very difficult there was no pain relief besides paracetamol during the night and no assistance from the nursing staff. I finally got to see my baby and hold him for the first time when he was three days old.
After the trauma of Caleb’s birth and having him taken away so quickly, she struggled to bond in the first few days. Once that had passed, she went the other way completely, become overly attached to him.
In her own words
It just didn’t feel real. Was he really my baby? I wouldn’t let anyone hold him for weeks. If I wasn’t near him, I would get anxious and my stomach would get knotted. But I loved every moment of being with him; bonding with him and singing to him all day. I also experienced extreme fatigue because he was breastfeeding every 1 – 2 hours because he was a preemie. Looking at him and holding him close to me made every minute worth it.
At two months old, Caleb stopped breathing. The rushed him to the hospital where he was checked for sleep apnea and a few other things; it ended up being very bad reflux. At 4 months they rushed back to the hospital when he had bloody stools and became anemic.
In her own words
The hospital never seemed to know what was wrong. He went for so many scans and tests. It was so traumatic for him, and for us to see him in so much pain.
At 2 months, he was put on reflux medication. I didn’t sleep properly for months, waking up and watching him breathe.
At 4 months after endless tests, he was eventually tested for allergies. They discovered that he was allergic to cow’s milk. I stopped eating all dairy products and the bloody stools stopped. He was also put on iron drops. He is still allergic to cow’s milk which means only soy formula if I run out of breast milk. He also can’t have food that contains milk proteins, making finding food very difficult. I make most of his food myself.
We also had to rush him to the ER at 9 months old when we introduced to egg for the first time. It was very scary, his face swelled up, he had a rash and was struggling to breathe properly. He was diagnosed with an egg allergy too.
A year this month
Things have settled since then and Caleb will be a year this month.
In her own words
He has a good balance of both our personalities; my bubbly, highly energetic persona and he has his quiet, calm moments with his dad. He is a very independent little boy.
He is absolutely gaga over Mickey Mouse, and says Mickey when he sees him. He says mama, mom, mum and daddy or dada. He waves and says hello and bye bye. He is cruising about, but not walking unassisted just yet. He loves to try to stand on his own and open things. His new thing is trying to pick up everything. He was lifting his heavy tub of cream this week above his head and his chest while making moans and groans like a little pirate. I think he gets this from watching mommy exercise
He is very determined and very strong for someone so small. He refuses to get out of his bath, so when I pick him up he carries his bath to the room with him. He loves story time and tries to read to himself. He is very happy to play alone in his room while I watch him.
He is a very affectionate little boy, he loves giving kisses. He loves to cuddle with mommy and play with my hair or rub my arm. It’s hard for me to see him grow up so quickly, he doesn’t need his mommy so much any more.
Striving for balance
I’m a wife and a mom to Caleb. I’m still trying to find some balance in my life, especially to fit in some “me time”. It’s very difficult, because I don’t have any support to help out with Caleb. So there isn’t an opportunity for mommy and daddy to have a date night or so mommy can have a long bath. My mother lives far from us and she works; and my husband runs his own business. Our little boy is so used to being alone with me all the time, that he has terrible separation anxiety when I’m not around.
Working from home has it’s highs and lows. I love being able to watch Caleb achieve all his milestones and being there to watch him grow; he discovers new things every day and it’s such a blessing to be a part of it.
On the other side, I never get all my work or housework done. Some days I have to put work aside completely and just give Caleb my full attention, especially when he’s teething. It’s tough to juggle, but I always somehow get it all done, even if it leaves me completely knackered.
I have become much more gentle with my approach to fitness. Learning to love my new body after pregnancy was hard, but worth it. I loved my body for carrying our angel safely through so much. I was patient and slowly got back into exercising when I felt I was ready, as opposed to pushing it too hard, which is what I would have done before I was pregnant.
Words of Wisdom
To Mommies who are having difficult pregnancies
Keep thinking about the beautiful life that is growing inside you when times feel tough. Your body is stronger than you think. Find other moms going through similar experiences for support.
To Mommies who have experienced difficult births
Take each day as it comes. Find someone who has gone through a similar experience or go for counselling. Not everyone will understand. Learn to love your body for bringing your baby into this world, even if you feel that it failed you. This can only make you stronger.
To Mommies struggling with sick babies
Don’t feel guilty if you need some time for yourself. I was so overtired that the pediatrician sent me home to rest. You need to look after yourself in order to have the emotional and physical strength to be there for baby.
To Mommies on growing a career while being a mommy and wife
I’m still trying to figure this one out myself. Try to plan your day the night before, but be prepared to adjust that plan if needed.
To Mommies on reclaiming their health after having a baby
Take it easy. Be patient. Enjoy the time with your little one, they grow so fast. It took nine months to gain the weight; be kind to your body and give yourself at least 12 months to lose it. Don’t feel pressured to lose the weight quickly, diets and excessive exercise can affect your milk supply. Learn to love your new body and enjoy the journey along the way. Focus more on what you have gained than what you wish to lose.
Carla is an amazing strong mommy, who has fought endless battles for her little boy from the moment he was conceived. She has battled her own body, and risked her health and her life for him. She has found a way back to her own best self; acknowledging what her body went through during her pregnancy, and being awed at how strong it really was to endure so much. She is now balancing being a full-time mom while following her passion to share her health and wellness knowledge with other mommies.
She is a Supermommy.
Pregnancy can take a toll on everyone. Being fit and strong won’t prevent the tough times, but it will help your body get through those tough times. I wish more mommies would find a way to love and respect their bodies for the amazing feat of growing and bringing a child into this world; however that child arrives. You sacrifice your all for your baby. You are supermommies!
Carla, you are an inspiration. You practice what you preach and you are leading by example. You are beautiful and strong and an incredible mommy, which is so evident when you look at your little man. You have overcome so much to get to where you are. You are a supermommy!
Now, over to you mommies. These mommies have opened their hearts and shared their stories with me, so that I can share them with you, and you can share them with anyone who might need to hear what they have to say. Please show your support and share the love by sharing Carla’s story as far as you can; you just need to hit one of the easy share buttons below.
Also, be sure to follow Carla on her journey over at Diary of a Fit SA Mommy!
Sending all the love xx