Over the next two months, we’re going to looking at pregnancy and babies and talking to some more great kiwi families about their experiences. In this post, we meet Rebekah, Chris and Eva Fraser. Rebekah talks about her experiences with hyperemesis gravidarum (severe morning sickness) and a terribly tough pregnancy. It was so heartening to hear about the way that Chris supported Rebekah through this tough time – what a great family!

What do you do and what are your interests?

I am a journalist although I am currently on maternity leave for a year. I’m lucky enough to have a job that combines two of my passions, photography and writing. After hours, I take off my journalist hat and write and photograph for pleasure. I also like to unwind by gardening, renovating our house, curling up in the sun reading or baking up sweet treats for friends and family. My husband Chris works at the local dairy factory as a butter maker. He’s a good West Coast lad and enjoys hunting, fishing and rugby.

Tell us a bit about what makes your family great

We’re a relatively new family – our daughter Eva is just 6 months old. My husband and I both had different upbringings and we are working together to combine the best of both worlds into one great experience for Eva. I love how we are supportive and forgiving of each other and that we go with the flow.

What your family’s favourite thing to do?

We live on the West Coast of the South Island so we are blessed with some of the most amazing scenery and a vibrant little town. Our favourite thing at the moment is to spend the morning reading and playing before heading off for a walk which normally ends in a coffee stop and window shop.

Our feature at the moment is ‘pregnancy and babies’. I know that you had a pretty traumatic pregnancy- tell us a bit about what happened.

I had hyperemesis gravidarum (severe morning sickness) which wiped me out for the entire 9 months. I couldn’t step foot in a supermarket or cafe until about 8 months along and I lived on dry toast for the first 5 months. I lost weight because I was so ill and the only thing that would give me a break from the constant vomiting was to go and get hooked up to a drip in hospital. As well as that I was diagnosed with SPD about half way through so I was in a lot of pain and could barely walk. At 30 weeks I started measuring full term so the specialists were extremely worried I was having a huge baby, which added to the stress and hospital appointments. On top of all that we were closely monitored as there is a genetic heart default on my side of the family so there was an underlying fear our baby could have it too. As my husband Chris says, pregnancy and I do not play well together!

How did your pregnancy affect you and your family?

I got quite upset because everyone talks about how beautiful and amazing pregnancy is and I felt really ripped off that mine wasn’t like that at all. Nobody ever told me that I was glowing or that pregnancy suited me so I did feel like a bit of a failure as a woman. Chris really stepped up and made sure that I felt supported, beautiful and that despite all these complications our baby would be perfect. He’s a shift worker and despite working some gnarly hours he always made sure I was always well hydrated, did all the cooking and cleaning, and would drop everything to get me to the hospital if we were told to get there. My mother in law lives a few streets over and I would often pull my head out of my bucket to find her cleaning or dropping off dinner for Chris while he was on shift.

In the end, I breezed through labour and our daughter Eva was born just after Christmas (weighing 7lb 1oz – the specialists were wrong!). She’s been a dream baby but my experience with pregnancy has put us both off adding to our family again for a little while.

What advice would you give anyone who has a similar birth experience?

Do what you need to do and be kind to yourself. Also, not listening to people’s advice was the best thing I did. I would get really angry when somebody would see me being sick or looking like death and offer their remedy for morning sickness. I know they were probably just trying to help, but being told “it will vanish after three months and I’ve heard peppermint/ginger/dry crackers really help” when you’re 7 months pregnant and it’s 3pm and you’ve only just got out of the bathroom is not helpful.

Finally, this year is election year – what changes could the government make that would make a difference to your family?

Obviously an extension to paid maternity leave would be great to allow more families to have more time with their children in such a crucial time of their lives. Living on the West Coast it’s really important for us that we have access to good healthcare. At the moment there are plans to upgrade the sole hospital here and we really hope we don’t end up with a loss of services and a satellite hospital with the main hospital 400km away in Christchurch. It’s enough stress having a family member in hospital, let alone having them many miles away.

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Rochelle is mum to three gorgeous daughters. She wishes she had more time to garden and read the newspaper in peace!

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