In her last post, Davina wrote about her 2.5 year struggle to conceive. After finally falling pregnant, she thought the tough part was behind her. How very wrong she was!
“Hyperemesis gravidarum” has received a bit of news coverage lately, as “Princess” Kate suffered with it during her pregnancies. If you haven’t heard much about it, I would like to first clarify that no, it is not just “bad morning sickness” - that would be like saying breaking your leg is the same as stubbing your toe! (Not to take anything away from morning sickness, or stubbing your toe for that matter, both of which are irritating.)
For me, hyperemesis started in my seventh week of pregnancy, initially with a bit of nausea that I put down to “just morning sickness”. I was actually secretly delighted to be feeling a bit sick, as it made the pregnancy seem more real! But within a week, I was in hospital.
I had reached a point, that after a week of what felt like the worst food poisoning ever and barely being able to eat or drink anything for days, I was throwing up every hour or so and couldn’t keep even a sip of water down. I was growing weak and starting to get scared; for me and the baby. We went to hospital and it took the nurses 10 minutes of desperately stabbing at my hand to put an I.V. line in – I was so dehydrated they couldn’t find a vein. How could a baby the size of a blueberry be causing so many problems?!
After a few nights in hospital, and a lot of drugs, I was starting to eat again. I must have been starving as the hospital food tasted like a Michelin star restaurant! I was diagnosed with hyperemesis and sent off on my (somewhat merrier) way and thought that with some strong medication (the same that they prescribe to chemotherapy patients) I would be fine. Wrong again!
That week, I managed to get back to work, including an online interview for a new teacher in Dunedin. As some of you may know, Marrzipan interviews are far from “normal”! I can’t give too much away but I can tell you that we commence with a 30-second wild dance party, followed by various fun role-plays that we as interviewers join in with too. The weirder the better! Fortunately Zac (our Recruitment Manager) was running the interview, so I was able to turn the video screen off, sit with my head over a bucket and smile as I listened in on their antics. I’m delighted to say that Eddie (who passed our unorthodox recruitment process and has now been with us six months!) had no idea of my crippled state and we have since had a good giggle about it.
That was one of the last clear memories I have, as for the next ten weeks I got so ill that I could barely move and ended up in hospital with dehydration again. My mum came over from the U.K. to help look after me. As she is retired, I was very lucky that she was able to stay for three months and look after me like only a mother knows how.
EVERYTHING made me feel sick and/or vomit…the smell of soap, the smell of our dog, the smell of food, the smell of Jethro (my husband), and even, the smell of my own skin. I should probably mention at this point that my husband doesn’t, in fact, smell. He actually smells quite nice (most of the time). But such was my sensitivity to smell that on occasion he would hug me to try to comfort me, and in response I would turn away from him and throw up. I didn’t feel I would be winning “Wife of the Year” anytime soon. Every four days or so, I managed to have a shower, and every few weeks I summoned the strength to wash my hair. Although Jethro didn’t smell, I suspect I did.
Fortunately Jethro works from home and therefore also had the flexibility to offer round-the-clock care, support, and cuddles. As I could only eat a few mouthfuls of food at a time, he set an alarm, and would come in the bedroom to check that I had eaten something every hour. I lost nearly 7% of my body weight and looked like a skeleton, but with a small baby bump (an odd combination). I couldn’t watch tele, read or most importantly, work.
Fortunately, the Senior Team (Zac, Jex and Sarieta) were like my Marrzipan-Knights-in-shining-armour. They took over all of my normal tasks and duties, worked long hours and made everything in the Marrzipan-Machine continue to run smoothly. They were truly amazing, so understanding and I will be forever grateful for their unwavering support. Hopefully, as parents of our students, you had no idea that anything was amiss!
Around 4 months pregnant, I started managing to do the odd bit of work, though I regularly cancelled meetings last minute and often needed a full day back in bed. Without the flexibility the Marrzipan team afforded me, I don’t know what I would have done. It wasn’t until I was about 5-months pregnant that I was able to start back regular part-time hours, and even now at 6-months pregnant I am still not at full capacity, (and STILL throw up every couple of weeks!)
I have always valued having flexibility in my schedule and being able to choose my own hours, but never more so than the last six months! In addition, I have always ensured Marrzipan has a flexible workplace, (as much as possible given that we obviously have fixed class times). This made me wonder what the Marrzipan Team get up to in their flexi-time so I posed the question to them…
- Jex (Hamilton): “I start work late a couple of mornings a week to attend yoga – I need these calming moments as a contrast to the fun craziness we get up to in class!”
- Zac (Auckland): “A lot of my schools kindly let me sit in the staffroom before or after a class, so I kick back with a coffee and have a yarn to whoever is around.”
- Sarieta (Tauranga): “Sometimes, if I’ve had a full-on day, I finish work early and go rock climbing!”
- Eddie (Dunedin): “On Thursday I catch up with my wife for a lunch date between my lunchtime and after school classes. Quite flexible to have that time to sneak in dates between classes!”
- Julie (Wellington): “My partner is a pilot, his roster is all over the place and his car has been broken down for a while, so if it works out around classes, I pick him up and take him home!”
- Jack (Auckland): “I usually have a gig on Wednesday nights so I’ll work a bit later on Tuesdays so I can knock off at 4pm on Wednesdays to prep for the gig!”
- Joyce (Wellington): “I go grocery shopping in between classes!”
Flexibility = working in my dressing gown
So this explains why, when it came to revamping our Holiday Workshops, I was a big advocate for having not just flexible hours of 8.30am-5pm, but flexible days! I was adamant that we needed more flexibility for our parents in the holidays. Instead of a fixed 3-day program (which we have been running for the last eight years), I felt sure we needed to offer the option of 1, 2, 3, 4 OR 5 day programs. Again, our parent survey confirmed this, with 18% of you saying you would prefer our program to be 4 days long, and 20% saying they wanted 5 days. So we got to work adapting the program so that students can drop in just for a day, a few days, or do the whole week – whatever suits PARENTS!
I understand that not all work places offer the same flexibility, but I encourage you to ask yourself whether there is something you can be doing to allow a little more freedom in your life. Perhaps you and another parent-friend could take turns on the morning school-run, so that once each week, you get half an hour to yourself to have a coffee? Or organise a neighbourhood babysitter so you all share the cost (taking it in turns whose house all the children and the babysitter rock up to), resulting in you having every Saturday night for date night? Or take a whole day for yourself in the school holidays, leave your children having the time of their lives with us, and go read a book, get your hair done, or catch up on SLEEP!
We need to support each other as a community and share the demanding load that is parenting, pregnancy, family, friends, work and life. Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you – writing about it has been very difficult and emotional for me, but I was encouraged with all the kind words that came flooding in from our Marrzipan parents and principals after last week’s post. I would love to hear about what flexibility you currently have in your life, as well as what new things you are going to try to offer more flexibility to yourself and those around you.
Expectation of pregnancy Reality of pregnancy