Pregnancy, birth and postpartum series: Catherine's story

April 05, 2017

Pregnancy, birth and postpartum series: Catherine's story

Thank you for stopping by! 

We are so excited to share this chapter of Milk Mama interview/blog series with you. Our aim is to spread the awareness of pregnancy, birth and beyond from mums who follow post birth traditions, or simply design their own. Some of the beautiful mums we plan to showcase live overseas and had to adapt to their new home customs.

Here we have gorgeous Catherine who I met via a social group. Cathy and I spoke briefly of our pregnancy and birth journeys and quickly realised we had a lot more in common that just being mothers. A beautiful mother, wife and friend who not only juggles all those roles and more beautifully, she also owns The Nursery Collective. 

 Hope you enjoy reading about Catherine and her journey.

Tell us a bit about you and your childhood i.e. your ethnic background and where did you grow up?

My name is Cathy and I'm a first generation Australian of Sicilian and Filipino heritage! My sister and I are only 13 months apart and we grew up near the beach in Maroubra, Sydney. My parents both emigrated to Australia in the 70's and Dad was a cook and Mum a nurse at Balmain Hospital. They ended up meeting when Dad had a major burns accident at his pizzeria in Bondi with his wood fire oven and landed in hospital...and mums arms so to speak! As you can imagine with that heritage my sister and I grew up eating an amazing array of homemade foods (mostly from our garden) from two very different cuisines!

What a beautiful story. It sure was meant be, burns and all. Where do you live currently?

I've been living in Dubai for the past 9 and a half years with my hubby (who is also a mix - African/English) and we have two gorgeous kids aged 5 and 2, Maxi and Halle. I've been a busy mum for the past 6 years although recently started running my own online business in Australia, The Nursery Collective which is an online directory and blog for new and pregnant mamas. Life's a constant juggle with the two kids and their activities and now working! But I love it and feel very privileged to be living somewhere that is extremely child friendly and where we can afford to have some help at home too.

Please share your pregnancy and birth story with us.

I had both my babies in Dubai, although at two different hospitals but with the same doctor. The system here is very similar to America, essentially all private and you definitely need health insurance! I had an amazing ob-gyn who I completely trusted. My first pregnancy was uneventful and easy going. Despite wanting a natural birth, I ended up with an elective c-section at 42 weeks as Maxi was way too comfortable in there and was showing no signs of engaging. I had a very low placenta which wasn't helping either. He was just over 4 kilos when he was born so in some ways I was glad he came through the sunroof! My second pregnancy was a little more complicated - we had a bit of a scare with the possibility of Trisomy 13 after our nuchal scan and spent a lot of time worrying and waiting. After that was ruled out we found a small hole in her heart so that was also a worry until it closed around 30 weeks. I ended up having to take insulin as my fasting blood sugar was high despite me having a very good diet so she was also born by c-section at 38 weeks. And it was just as well - during the section my obstetrician was very surprised to see that my uterus was extremely thin and could possibly have ruptured during labour!

It must have been a big learning curve with switching systems from what you had back home. So glad everything worked out in the end.

You have some beautiful heritages to fall back on especially with the post birth traditions. What were your rituals or setup once your returned home from the hospital?

I was really lucky that my amazing Mum was able to come out and stay with me for 2 months for both of my births. She really made such a huge difference, ensuring I was eating well and helping with the babies even through night. When Halle was born, I couldn't drive due to the c-section so she was able to take my Maxi to nursery as well. Both times she also ended up cooking about 3 months worth of food for the deep freezer for after she'd left and that in itself was such a lifesaver. My mother in law also tag teamed and came out for a month after my Mum left which I was also very grateful for. This timed in perfectly with Maxi as it was during his 4 month sleep regression where he was waking up every 45 mins all night long, so we would take the night in shifts so I could get some sleep.

We were also extremely lucky to hire a maid when Halle was born to help with the cleaning and general household duties. It’s a very common thing in this part of the world and I had resisted having any help for a very long time as it just didn't feel right to me. My hubby insisted we give it a go when I was pregnant the second time (it wasn't a foreign concept to him having grown up partly in Africa) and I'm so grateful and glad that we did. Having a clean house and the extra help just helped keep me sane and as the kids have got older she's been a huge help when I'm juggling between their schedules - not having to drag the little one with me to school pick ups when its her nap time is a godsend! She's become part of our family and the kids love her. 

That's amazing hun. Having help is so beneficial for so many reasons like the ones you mentioned but also helps mums I feel. What would you recommend for a mother to be about birth and post natal care? 

Find a support network of fellow mums, a village so to speak to vent to and compare notes with. This could be in real life as well as online. It made such a huge difference to me as a new mum, especially living so far from home. Definitely prepare food and freeze in advance too if possible. If you want to breastfeed I would also recommend asking for help as soon as possible if you need it, lactation consultants are worth their weight in gold! It doesn't always come naturally and I suffered for much longer than I needed to with my first until I got some help. Lastly, if you can afford it, outsource things around the house and get a cleaner for a while to help when you're getting through the tough early days.

How about foods? Were there any special foods you ate post birth? 

I was so lucky to have my Mum cook for me every day when my babies were born. She often made me two different types of Filipino broths which were very nourishing as well as great for my milk supply - one called Tinola and one called Nilaga. Tinola was also the only thing I could stomach in my first trimester, its a very clean chicken based broth with lots of ginger and garlic and chinese cabbage and potato. Nilaga is also very similar but made with slow cooked beef bones...so delicious!

Gosh those broths sound yum. I might have to look for those recipes and make them too. 

Thank you, Cathy, for sharing your beautiful story. It’s so good to know that you had the help/village to fall back on post birth.

To learn more about Cathy and The Nursery Collective check it out here http://nurserycollective.com/

If you would like to share your story please get in touch with us at milk.mama@milkmama.com.au

We would love to share these beautiful stories with mothers out there who would not only benefit from your experience but also help build a sisterhood of motherhood to ask, share and more.

 




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