Jahna has recently joined our Forget Me Not Journals team and we took the time to ask her some questions about her family and journey to delivering her gorgeous little boy, Benji. Her story may be of particular interest to those with HELLP syndrome, which affects less than 1% of pregnant women.
Tell me a little bit about you I am a mother of one, a content creator @jahna_barraclough in my spare time and as of recently part of the team here with Megan. I live in Auckland with my partner Chad, and our little boy Benji who is 2 years and 3 months old (I hate the terms 27 months… it confuses me)! I am European, my father was adopted so I am not sure on his side, and Chad is Maori.
Chad and I met when he owned a beer company and needed a promoter for the Auckland taste festival. His sister in law at the time was an old friend of mine and reached out to see if I was available for the weekend which I was. Chad and I had a really great connection when we met but stayed friends for about 6 months before dating.
We spoke about children very early into dating before we made our relationship official as Chad is a bit older and that was one of his biggest concerns. I, myself am quite an old soul and have always been very independent so I always knew I wanted to have children in my 20’s.
I found out I was pregnant with Benji very early on. I just knew my body felt different. I actually went to the dr’s for a visit to check when Benji would have only been concieved a few weeks prior and the test came back negative where the nurse actually laughed and said there was NO WAY I was pregnant. A few weeks after this, I took an at home test again one morning where almost straight away appeared two bright pink lines. By this time I was only 4 weeks along. Crazy how you just know, right?
I had such a mix of emotions when I saw the test. I was excited, nervous, a little bit scared….. but also sooooo impatient to tell Chad the news.
He was over the moon. I actually recorded the moment I announced it to him that afternoon after I found out. My phone was propped up on the window, I had a basket of baby things including a giant toy, romper and socks that said (I love dad) and the positive test. When he saw it there were instant tears for us both.
Who was the first person you told apart from your partner when you found out you were expecting? I think I text my best friend Chrystal. But we told Chad’s parents that night together after dinner. We went out and purchased little t-shirts that said grandma and grandad. They took a while to catch on but finally realized and there were screams of excitement since this was their first grandchild.
Did you experience morning sickness? I have no idea why it’s called morning sickness, because I was sick all of the time. I remember throwing up at work during the day, having a bucket next to me at dinner time… it was not fun!
What cravings did you have? My cravings changed often. I remember a whole week, I wanted cheese on everything. I mean everything, and A LOT of it haha! Then one day Chad made me dinner (pilled with cheese of course) and I looked at him in disgust saying “I don’t like cheese anymore”. He was so mad! I also loved Shweppes lemonade and juicies toward the last trimester as it was right in the heat of summer.
Did you have a birthing plan? No, I didn’t want to make a plan and then possibly be let down if I wanted anything to go a specific way. I stayed very open to all options.
What city/country was your child/ren born in? Auckland, NZ.
What did you pack in your hospital bag?
3 top items
- Breast pump
- Nightie/floaty clothing
- Adult nappies (highly recommend these, they also sit nice and high over c-section scars)
3 items that were a waste of time/unecessary
- Hair care (I just kept my hair up, you honestly don’t care after being so exhausted)
- Dressy clothes, don’t do it. Comfort is key
How did you deliver?
I had an emergency C-section. We went to a clinic for a checkup to see if we should have a induction. They checked my blood pressure and then re checked and rushed us to hospital, I had no idea what was going on and we weren’t aloud to go home first to get our bags. They monitored me and found I had something called HELLP Syndrome. Something I had never heard of before. HELLP syndrome is a rare disorder, affecting less than 1 percent of all pregnancies. However, it is a major health concern and can be life-threatening to both the mother and the unborn baby. They told me later on after I got rushed for a c-section and once Benji was delivered that if I didn’t go into the clinic that day, I wouldn’t have been so lucky and it would have been fatal for me and my baby. This was scary and has been something I have wanted to bring awareness to for a while in the case where I could help another parent avoid this.
What feelings did you have with a c-section? It was hard not being able to do the first nappy changes, walking around to soothe my newborn and just doing everything Chad could do while I was bed ridden. Also, for a while after having Benji I became conscious of my scar, but in no time it heeled and it’s so low that you can’t see it over my underwear. There are days were I am more conscious than others with this, as well as my stretch marks which is normal, but I am just grateful my boy was delivered safely.
What was your recovery like? The first few days were really difficult and I was in a lot of pain. But I am a fighter and pushed through as mother’s do. I think it is important to rest when you can, easier said than done in my experience. I had a lot of family around helping, my mum delivered lots of food and snacks and stayed overnight with me in the maternity ward since men aren’t aloud in the ward overnight in the hospital where I birthed Benji. Chad was a great cheerleader and encouraged me to become stronger to walk again. I loved the positivity.
I had benji just before the big lockdown so I had about a month of visitors before we went into level 4. I had mixed emotions with this but I think lockdown was a blessing in disguise in some aspects as it allowed us a breather to all get to know eachother.
I honestly think next time we have another baby, I will say no to visitors for a few weeks because it get’s very overwhelming having every single friend and family member wanting to visit and I was already so tired and navigating having a new baby. I love having close family visiting but it’s a good idea to give a clear boundary to everyone else. Don’t feel guilty for this, they’ll understand.
Did you feel pressured by anybody to see the baby? I felt extremely pressured and honestly exhausted. I felt like I had to keep up appearances for guests and to be very open, I was not 100% present. It’s lovely having your friends and family over to meet your newborn, but as exciting as it is for everyone else you need to put yourself first.
Advice to new parents
My main advice is, everyone will jump at you to give you all the tips and tricks, advice. But every baby and parent is different. Take bits from people and what works, works. What doesn’t, doesn’t. Also don’t be afraid to stand your ground. I was bad at this and had strangers picking Benji up and kissing his head…. I had no idea what to do or say but it made me feel extremely uncomfortable. Looking back now, that is your baby and you have every right to pull someone up about something. Be the mumma bear you are!
One last thing, enjoy the little things. Time really does fly!