Welcome to our very first #kitcoparents interview. Sara-Ann K, presenter, journalist and mother, shares her experiences with C-sections, grief and giving birth during a pandemic.
In our #kitcoparents series, inspiring parents share their views and experiences on the realities of parenthood. We hope you find their stories interesting, helpful and heartening.
It goes without saying that being a parent is a non-stop, 24-7 job. Working mother of two, Sara-Ann jokes, "Let's not discourage people from having children. I used to be an insomniac. Having children cures this miraculously. No medication needed."
Sara-Ann gave birth to her first son in 2018, and her second in 2020 in the height of the pandemic. She says being pregnant and giving birth during the Covid period was "Initially scary because of all the unknowns. The thing that truly worried me were certain restrictions regarding spouses and partners being present during the birth. During Covid, many of my friends who delivered via C-section were unable to have their spouses in the operating room. Thankfully a few days before I gave birth, the restriction on husbands not being allowed in the operating theatre was lifted."
On the flip side, the pandemic gave her the chance to stay at home more, and enjoy a restful pregnancy and the chance to spend quality time with her older son before the new baby arrived. Another silver lining? The Covid situation made her husband Vernon step up as a father.
She shares: "Prior to Covid, I think like many men, my husband always thought that he was doing a lot. I've noticed many men pull the, 'You should be grateful I help out, because so and so doesn't even change diapers etc'. It led to a lot of frustration on my part because he would chip in and do as much or as little as he wanted to. Even then, he was still being praised as being a hands on dad!"
"During circuit breaker, spending so much more time at home, he truly realised how much does go on in the house and with the children. That I wasn't just having a fun time with my son, playing at home. While it was nice to be home with the kiddo, it was backbreaking and exhausting work too.
"Something clicked in him, and Vernon actually started stepping up and we started working as a team. He started routines with Milo [their elder son] so that I could get more rest. And now we tag team with our 4-month-old when it comes to night duties. A huge turnaround from the two to three times he woke up in the night throughout my elder boy's first year.
His efforts also made a big difference in his relationship with his sons. Says Sara-Ann, "Before Covid, he was always excited to come home, but my older boy would barely glance up at him. After they really bonded during circuit breaker, they are thick as thieves and my son gets really upset when Vernon has to leave the house for work. Every time Vernon comes through the door now, he is greeted by an excited toddler who yells, 'Daddy' and runs toward him, and my younger one breaks out into a huge grin and starts flailing his limbs excitedly each time he hears daddy's voice."
"Being a father and a parent isn't just a biological thing. It is about building a relationship. And as with all relationships, one of the biggest ingredients needed is time, so I'm so proud that Vernon has invested the time and truly bloomed into becoming a great dad."
Adjusting to life as a mother-of-two has the predictable ups-and-downs - a lack of sleep, getting used to the newborn routine again and breastfeeding. For Sara-Ann, the toughest thing was losing her own father a few days after her second child's 100 day celebration. "It definitely has been an emotional time and honestly that was the biggest life changer that far outweighed any inconveniences (like a lack of sleep etc) that having a second child can bring. At the same time I am really grateful that my dad had a chance to see and hold the baby before he left us. And having that happen makes us more appreciative of the adage - the nights are long, but the years are short."
Such loss definitely puts the difficulties of parenting into perspective, and makes the raw, challenging, long yet love-filled days spent caring for young children all the more special. Says Sara-Ann, "My favourite thing about motherhood is always the small moments. Funny things Milo says. Having him cuddle in bed with me in the mornings. My little one cracking huge smiles whenever I talk to him. The way his little hands hold onto me. Definitely moments. And there are so many of them."
All photos provided by Sara-Ann K.