We’re a bit crazy about all things baby here at Sassy Mama HQ this summer, and couldn’t help poring delightedly over these adorable photos from our next Bump feature, Kate Sullivan! Wife of our That Papa Roger De Leon (you may have seen him serving up a burrito or two at our favourite Mexican joint recently!), Kate is the ultimate Sassy Mama – an actress, drama teacher and casting director who gave birth to little Phoenix Isaiah Zahir De Leon just over 2 years ago. Here she looks back on the highs and lows of pregnancy, and some of the funniest / most memorable moments:
What was your reaction when you first found out you were pregnant?
When I actually found out I was, I cried. I was in absolute shock. I had an instinctual feeling I was and went to the doctor. He confirmed I wasn’t. Three days later I just knew something was different so I decided I would do the test myself and surely enough, I was! I cried because I had been told I wasn’t. Our bodies are amazing really. Of course I was over the moon. But going from being told I wasn’t to finding out I was, was rather emotional. It was however, a beautiful surprise and one of the best things that could have happened.
Your funniest memory over the 9 months?
I remember early in my pregnancy riding on the bus to work and all of a sudden needing to vomit. I didn’t have anything to vomit into apart from my handbag. So I grabbed my handbag and was sick. All these people were staring at me and I still had 20 minutes to ride the bus with a bag full of vomit and smelling of sick. I feel sorry for the people on the bus! Haha. There were also several times I squatted in the middle of the street, the bank or on an airplane because I felt dizzy and was about to faint. I would just get down really low quickly and stay down close to the ground until I wasn’t dizzy anymore. The reaction on people’s faces was priceless!
Any great books and resources that prepared you for when your baby arrived?
Yes! My absolute favourite was ‘I’m Not Fat, I’m pregnant’. My mother sent this book to me from New Zealand. A Kiwi comedian called Jackie Brown wrote it. I have passed it on to a few of my good friends who were or are pregnant here in HK. It’s a day-by-day dairy of Jackie’s pregnancy that has you in tears laughing. Truly brilliant! I also signed up online to BabyCenter and enjoyed updates on my baby’s development and advice on food to eat at different stages of my pregnancy.
What do you think every woman should know before getting pregnant?
That many things that you think you know, you don’t and everything you think you will do, you won’t. Some of your views on parenting will change. I think it’s also very important for women not to compare themselves to other mothers. We all have different births, some find breastfeeding easy and others really struggle. What works for some mums will not work for others. Some do it alone and others get support. We are all different, our babies are different and our circumstances are different. You need to be open and accept that things may change a lot. Yes, it can be very hard but also very rewarding.
What was the easiest trimester and which one proved most difficult?
The first was hard for me emotionally and I was always dizzy and sick. The last one I was getting huge and I was going to the toilet 6-8 times throughout the night! The second was by far the easiest. I felt so much more balanced and excited about life as a mother. You’re also starting to see your body change and you feel and see your baby moving for the first time, which is amazing!
Did you follow a fitness programme while you were pregnant?
No. I had my good friend Claudia Whitney come and do some ‘one on one’ yoga classes with me at my home but other than that, I just walked a lot.
Any fashion tips and tricks for maternity dressing?
Your growing bump is beautiful and should be exposed. I always exposed mine. When I went swimming or was relaxing at the beach, I would wear a long sarong and tie it just under my belly. I lived in black stretchy skirts and long maxi dresses! My fingers and feet were always swollen so I wore my rings on a chain around my neck and comfy flats.
What have you struggled with most since being pregnant?
My boobs deflating! Haha. For the first 4-6 months it was the lack of sleep and breast-feeding. You don’t read or hear women talk opening enough about how hard ‘physically’ and ‘emotionally’ breast-feeding can be! I thought something was wrong with me because I was struggling so much. I couldn’t get my son latching properly and I had to pump every three hours! That was a major challenge for me, especially returning to work so soon after. It can also be crazy on your hormones. The lack of sleep and it is such a new experience. Now, it’s about balancing time between working and spending ‘quality’ time with my son.
What are your hopes and dreams for your baby?
That Phoenix will do everything and anything he dreams to do. That he understands that no matter what his decisions and aspirations are in life, he will always have a mother and a father that support and love him, no matter what.
Name a mama you find inspiring and why?
I would have to say my mother, Jill. How she raised all four of us on her own as a single mother, I have no idea. She is my greatest inspiration and I admire her and love her very much. She is my rock and her honesty and unconditional love has helped mould me into the woman and the mother that I am today. She has kept me grounded and for that I am so grateful.
What are your thoughts about finding out the sex in advance?
Both Roger and I were desperate to know the sex. I couldn’t wait to find out. It was exciting to shop, come up with names and prepare myself for motherhood and raising a boy. However, I do have friends that were told they were having one sex and ended up having the other. Be ready to except change or surprises!
Did it take you some time getting pregnant or were you one of those mamas who got lucky on the first try?
Our pregnancy wasn’t planned so we consider ourselves lucky. We had already been together six years at the time. It was something we had always discussed but had not planned. What we came to realise is that even planning having a baby may or may not happen. There is no real ‘RIGHT’ time. You just make it RIGHT based on the situation you are in.
What kind of birth did you have?
I was in labour for 30 hours. It was very long. I had a natural birth at Queen Mary Hospital in Hong Kong. My husband Roger was with me the entire time through labour and helped me through all the breathing and visualisation exercises I needed. I feel blessed that I have such a loving and supportive husband who is also an amazing father.
What helped you get your groove back after being pregnant?
I went on a program called Kenzai 11 months after Phoenix’s birth. It was a 3-month fitness/health programme. It was life changing! I had seen other friends of mine that are mothers look so good and was questioning them on their exercise and eating habits after having a baby. All three mamas had done Kenzai. Roger did it with me, which was an amazing experience for both of us to do the program together. It was great for our relationship. My body transformed and I felt soooo good. I was fit, healthy and full of grooviness.
Any local businesses that made your pregnancy journey easier?
I got home pregnancy massages a lot. My mother, who was staying with us at the time, would get fresh flowers for our apartment from Harmoni flowers on Johnston Road in Wan Chai. The arrangements were stunning. Fandi (the owner) is so accommodating. I loved the smell!
Did you have any weird and wonderful cravings?
At the beginning I would wake at 3am and crave a bowl of cereal. Half way through all I would crave was pizza or meat pies. The smell of vegetables made me feel sick. I would get cravings for salted caramel cupcakes with a cup of tea. It is a real balance between the cravings, listening to your body and making sure you eat all the right things that will help your baby’s development. Ahhhh, the joys of pregnancy!
All of the beautiful photos were taken by the talented Ifat from Hindessight Photography. Check out her website here!