Swapping fashion shoots, designer threads and eight hours of sleep for late night feeds, Bonds tracksuits and 30 minute naps on the couch.
It’s been over two weeks since Valentina Louise Falco entered our lives and I have never felt so secure, content and relaxed in my entire life. I truly feel “complete”.
The thought of “two under two” always scared me however, in true form, I researched, prepped, washed, cleaned, sterilised, arranged, re-arranged and sorted my shit so that I was ready for any scary situation that might arise. My favourite saying is “over prepare and then go with the flow” and that is exactly how I treated this pregnancy, delivery and newborn phase. It’s worked in my favour… so far…
From my personal pregnancy experience, delivery, and everything in between, below is a visual update as well as a few tips on how I plan to survive the next 6 months. At the end of the day, preparation is key but flexibility and patience will get you through… as will a block of chocolate, Netflix and a sneaky glass of wine in between feeds!
Wish me luck!
I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes again this time and was put on a diet as well as nightly insulin injections. I also religiously worked out until the week Valentina was born in order to keep my sugars under control. As much as I would have preferred a nap and a cookie over a protein ball and a gym session, my recovery time was/ has been short and sweet and I believe it was due to my healthy lifestyle.
Due to my strict diabetes diet, I put on a total of 12kgs each baby and found it hard to gain weight in those last few weeks (I actually started to drop weight in my final days!). The Silver Lining? I wasn’t as uncomfortable, sluggish or swollen towards the end and have been able to bounce back somewhat quickly. I now have a mandatory six-week recovery period with my caesarean and I am enjoying every last minute of lounging and eating. I get SO hungry when breastfeeding and can’t seem to fill the endless void that is my appetite. I’ve accepted the challenge willingly though!
It is so important to look after yourself (quality rest, nutritious food and I have also been doing nightly meditations over the past three months – Apple “Calm” app, get onto it!) in order to prepare both my mind and body for the brutal few months ahead. Whilst I did work up until Week 36, I made sure I spent my final days hanging with Oscar, watching movies (that weren’t produced by Disney!) and catching up with friends. Come Delivery Day, I felt rested and ready.
My overall pregnancy experience was amazing and I made a conscious effort to enjoy every moment – good or bad – as this will most likely be my last one. Despite the diabetes, bruised ribs (Valli and Oscar both sat super high in my belly!) heartburn, and insomnia, I feel very lucky to have delivered two healthy, happy babies.
Hospital Bag – What I Packed.
· 4 x pairs of pyjamas. I would encourage you to pack at least one nightgown in the event you have a c-section as you won’t want to wear anything with a waistband. Without going into detail, save your “nice” pyjamas for a few days later as things are pretty messy on day 1 and 2!
· Maternity singlets and bras. I love the Bonds singlets and bras – just make sure you factor in your increased bra size once your milk comes in! Size up!
· High-waisted and oversized sweat pants. Legoe Heritage and Bonds do fashionable x functional versions.
· Long cardigan to throw over said items when guests visit.
· Luxe toiletries. Don’t bother with make up but there is nothing like a delicious smelling hand cream, facial mist or designer serum to lift your spirits after major surgery or a long labour!
· A good book. There is A LOT of time spent feeding bub in those first few months (newborns tend to cluster feed on night one meaning you probably won’t sleep at all) so, instead of spending my nights on Instagram or Facebook, I downloaded some novels onto my phone and am already on book number three!
· 7 x Wonder Suits. Bonds versions are the bomb. Avoid buttons. I only packed 5 Wonder Suits and, thanks to a few strategic power spews and poos, I had run out of clothing for Valli by day 3!
· 7 x singlets.
· Nappies/ Wipes/ Sudocream.
· Swaddles/ Wraps. Opt for ones with a bit of stretch as most babies will find a way to wriggle out of a “stiff” swaddle.
· Beanie/ Mittens/ Socks to keep bub warm on those first few nights (trying to mimic the womb environment here) and also to stop him or her from scratching their face.
Hot Tip: Delete or save photos from your phone to make room for those MANY, many newborn photos!
I chose to have caesareans with both Oscar and Valentina and can honestly say I had pain free, positive deliveries. I LOVED both of my birthing experiences as they were filled with laughter, excitement and anticipation where, within a matter of three hours, I was snuggled up in my bed with bub, a cup of tea and my family.
The morning of the surgery, we were up at 5:45am for a quick shower (no make up – but I did make sure hair/ nails/ lashes/ tan were all done the week beforehand #extra) before heading to the hospital by 6:30am to “check in”. Once we arrived and filled out the necessary forms, we were taken up to our room to unpack and get dressed into scrubs and gowns.
We were then escorted to the operating rooms for prepping where my IV drip was inserted (doesn’t hurt) as well as my Spinal Tap (doesn’t hurt). You are made to sit on the side of the bed, hug a pillow and keep very still while they administer anaesthetic and then the Epidural. Within a matter of minutes you start to feel warm and numb so you lie down and (try to) relax. Some immediate side effects from the Spinal Tap include nausea and dizziness. I felt like I would faint with Oscar but my anaesthetist simply added another drug to my IV and within seconds I was feeling good again. With Valli, we pre-empted the dizziness and immediately administered the right drug to make sure this didn’t happen again.
After passing the Ice Cube Test (they rub ice on your belly to check you can’t feel anything), my OB set up the surgical curtain and said “see you in 5 minutes!”
It’s hard to explain but the tugging and pulling sensation associated with a caesarean is odd but not painful. The only way I can think to describe it is like a massage - a VERY deep tissue massage! The surgical staff did an amazing job at keeping my mind off the procedure and the overall excitement of meeting your baby overrides the nerves.
As promised, within a matter of minutes they pulled the screen down and lifted my head so I could see Valentina being born. When I had Oscar, we specifically asked not to have the curtain lifted but the surgical team must have forgotten and a very shocked Josh and I were unexpectedly treated to his birth! I am SO glad they did forget though because it was the most magical experience. Hence why we did it again with Valli.
My Paedeatrician and his assistant (there are about 7 people in the room – each with their own assistant!) took Valli over to a table to check her and clean her up. Josh went over and cut the umbilical chord and she was then placed on my chest for cuddles. AMAZING!
Once they finished stitching me up (about 30 minutes or so), we all headed into Recovery for an hour of observations and tests and, more importantly, cuddles. With Oscar, I remember feeling extreme exhaustion and struggling to stay awake. I also couldn’t stop shivering. I guess your body goes into shock after the whole experience and this is a common side effect. I knew what to expect second time around though so felt completely awake, calm and normal.
Once finished in Recovery, we were taken to our room where Oscar, my parent’s, sister and in-laws were all eagerly awaiting us… as was a hot coffee and a muffin #priorities!
Surprise, surprise, I’m all about a routine and loosely follow the “Save Our Sleep” routines to help settle the family into a full night’s sleep sooner rather than later. Valli has naturally gravitated to a 3 Hour Feeding schedule and (mostly) happily takes all sleeps unassisted in her cot. I will be returning to work in three months so establishing early routines is important. It’s not for everyone - I didn’t start routines with Oscar until he was three months old and by then we encountered sleeping problems (he was up every 1.5 hours… can you imagine not sleeping for longer than 1 hour for two whole months!?). This pattern took a long time to break so starting a routine from the beginning with Valli will hopefully set us up for the better.
Oscar adores his little sister and runs into our room every morning asking for cuddles. He is gentle and kind and shares his toys and there is no greater joy than seeing my two babies bond. What we didn’t pre-empt was Oscar’s reaction to me. With chords and drips hanging off me at the hospital, Oscar was scared and kept saying “Mumma hurt, Mumma sore” and refused to cuddle or kiss or come near me. Two weeks later and we are FINALLY back to our old, affectionate groove… it’s been a slow process but it was always going to take time adjusting to our new normal.