OK, Hi, I’m HannaH and you might be wondering who I am and who am I to be starting up this podcast…don’t worry you’re not the only one, raises hand… *Imposter Syndrome* anyone… but seriously, hello and thank you for being here.
I don’t know how you found me but I hope I can help you or someone you know in some way, by sharing some stories of motherhood that are beautiful, raw, heart-warming, honest and real. I thought I’d better start with my story and how I came to want to start this podcast and blog. I’m a pretty ordinary mum living in rural New Zealand, just north of Christchurch. My pregnancy was largely uneventful until the third trimester, the wheels really came off and then my birth and recovery post partum has not been ideal. Throughout some of these challenges I really wanted a voice to listen to, a voice to help me feel less alone as I faced some of these challenges. Finding that voice was tricky and while I did come across a lot amazing women who were sharing their experiences, I wanted a resource where I could find these stories in one place. I knew I didn’t want to just share my own journey as I believe all our journey’s are unique and worthy of sharing. We can all learn from each other and we don’t necessarily have to be instafamous to feel like we can put our thoughts and experiences out into the world to impact others. So, I bit the bullet and decided to start a podcast. Cue me having no idea what I am doing… but I am learning a lot daily and already have a list of brave women who are willing to talk through their transformations into motherhood and their challenges, triumphs and journey’s.
My journey into motherhood was a long time coming, simply because I never wanted to be a mum. I’ve never had an affinity to babies or children, I’ve always felt weird and awkward around them and I never saw myself as a mother. Cue meeting my now husband who has always wanted to be a dad… he was smart and not long after we got engaged, he got me a puppy. A golden Labrador named Ruby who literally tore down all my non-mothering walls and turned me into a crazy fur mum. Well played Brent well played.
We got married (he still hadn’t convinced me at this point that making actual babies was a good idea) and it wasn’t until I turned 30 that I suddenly heard my biological clock ticking. Quite literally over night, I wanted to be a mum. Unfortunately, it wasn’t going to be that straight forward. At the time we were both teaching a lot of Les Mills group fitness classes (a huge passion of ours), we were building our business (a mortgage advice service) and buying and selling a lot of houses (6 in 5 years). Looking back, the stress I was putting my body through wasn’t conducive to making a baby. Coupled with crazy periods and PMS that I had battled with my whole adult life, we started to realise that maybe something wasn’t quite right. After routine blood tests and other bodily function tests (special cups filled with fluids) came back normal, our doctor referred us to Fertility Associates. More tests were done, special magazines and comfy chairs were provided for Brent – Me? Well I just got ultra sounds and Dr’s fingers in places you don’t really want them… the tests were still coming back fairly normal, so we were given a couple of options.
Option one was to have a rinse pumped into my uterus via my cervix, which would then show up blockages in an x-ray – it sounded painful and invasive and if they saw blockages, they would then need to do key hole surgery anyway to figure out what those blockages were.
The 2nd option was to have key hole surgery to take a real live look at what might be stopping us from conceiving. We decided option two was better for me as we deep down knew something wasn’t right and I really didn’t want to have to go through two invasive procedures to find out exactly what.
June the 30th 2017, I woke up after surgery to be told that I had stage four endometriosis all over my ovaries, bowels & bladder. I just about passed out looking at the pictures of my insides covered in nodules but was happy to be told that they had managed to remove most of it and it should improve our chances of conceiving naturally significantly. Finally, my crazy PMS symptoms, insane cramps, weird bowel and bladder symptoms, bloating, tiredness, it could all be explained. My body had been under attack since my period had started when I was 13 and I had ignored all the signs not believing them to be connected. I felt pretty horrified that I’d been living with this disease and just accepted my symptoms as normal. This relaxed attitude towards my health would soon play out in a negative way through my pregnancy. More on that later.
July was a big month of recovery for me and after accepting this diagnosis I got to work, enrolled myself in the university of google and researched all I could about endo and pregnancy. A recurrent theme that I read was due to the inflammatory nature of the disease, reducing my intake of inflammatory food and drink would be a good way to reduce my symptoms should they come back in the future and help with conception too! With my all or nothing personality, I convinced my carnivorous husband to go full vegetarian with me in the hopes that it would help our chances of starting our family without medical intervention. We also removed most dairy products, I didn’t drink alcohol or soft drinks anyway and I cut back my coffee intake and began drinking more herbal teas. We had booked our annual holiday for September to Fiji, so we were looking forward to that and just decided to give ourselves the rest of the year before we moved forward with the next stage of fertility treatment which was likely to be a course of clomiphene (to help with ovulation). I also decided to reduce some of the exercise I was doing and pulled right back to just teaching my classes and lots of walking, vs running, with my dog Ruby.
Come September we somehow had managed to buy a 10 acre lifestyle block just north of Christchurch so our relaxing trip to Fiji had now become a bit of a nightmare as we were now returning just 4 days before we were due to move out of our home in Mt Pleasant and move to the country. It was a stressful and tiring month but we went ahead with our holiday in Fiji and we often think about how close we came to cancelling that trip….which ultimately would have meant we wouldn’t have conceived our baby girl. Yep, two weeks after moving into our new home, I realised my period was late so I thought I’d do a test, we’d stopped taking pregnancy tests as after a while that little negative line becomes pretty demoralising. I still remember walking out into the kitchen, it was 10.30pm at night (great time to take a positive test, we hardly slept that night) and staring at Brent in shock, he knew straight away and all but lept over the breakfast bar to grab me. We just held each other tightly, crying and laughing, we could not believe it, after 18 months of negative tests, we were pregnant!!!