It popped up on my Facebook today that it’s been a year since I announced my pregnancy and blogged about it so I thought I’d provide an update!
We are now proud parents to a beautiful baby boy, Teddy Rex Baldwin. Teddy because I wanted something a little different and once I’d said ‘Teddy’ aloud, nothing seemed better. Rex because my husband wanted a son he could call T-Rex…
My pregnancy was straightforward and although tired and waddling by the end, I quite liked being able to wear bodycon with confidence and found more space for breathing whilst singing when I realised I’d been subconsciously holding my stomach in all these years! I sang right up to my birth and took my final group lesson at 40 weeks (Teddy hung on in there for a further 10 days!). I was readying myself for my major assessment but decided that I would defer it until September so I could concentrate on the birth. I practised over and over but because my brain took a battering during pregnancy with forgetfulness I had only memorised one of my arias, Signore Ascolta from Puccini’s Turandot.
This is a singing blog so I won’t go into specifics, but the birth was pretty traumatic and I got sepsis which left Teddy prone to an infection so we spent a week in hospital from induction and it was a very emotional time. When Teddy was around 20 hours old, the paediatrician came down and told us he also had jaundice and would have to be put under a phototherapy light. The light helps to shrink the bilirubin cells, making it easier for babies’ livers to then process and get rid of. We were told we couldn’t touch him whilst he was under the light and had to leave him in there unless he was feeding or being changed.
When we were left alone, my husband, Teddy and I, Teddy started to cry. We didn’t know what to do as he’s just been fed and changed and probably just wanted a cuddle but we had to leave him under the light. As a new Mum, all you want to do is hold your baby so with Mark’s arms around me, I started to sing Signore Ascolta. Teddy immediately calmed and drifted to sleep as I came to the final high notes completely piannissimo(that means really quiet).
It meant the world to me that I could settle him, that it reminded him of being sung to whilst still in the womb and that I still had enough support after just giving birth to sing a top Bb pianissimo!!
Being at a conservatoire with a baby has not been without its challenges but I’ve worked hard to make sure I have my core strength back so I can sing with confidence, I have to learn music whilst teddy sleeps on me and practise as part of a game with him. If I stand and pretend I’m singing to a full audience, he looks on amazed, he prefers legato (joined up) singing which helps with the practise but ‘you are my sunshine’ and ‘we are liverpool’ (cheers Daddy) are still his favourites!!
I have a little troop of people I trust at Trinity Laban who help look after Teddy when I have coaching or a singing lesson and Teddy’s Nan and Nana have been amazing; taking time to come to London on trains and long car journeys and staying on our couch to help look after him.
I do struggle to leave him, he is just so wonderful to be around and I want to spend every moment with him and because I have to leave him for college, it means I won’t leave him for unnecessary things like time to myself because of the guilt I feel but I’m working on that… I went to the co op on my own last week!
Being able to breastfeed Teddy has been an amazing thing too, I didn’t think I’d have a desire to do it before falling pregnant but with so much help given to us at the hospital and reading up on the benefits whilst pregnant meant that I was able to once he arrived. It’s been such a lovely experience and bond between us.
I am due to start my final academic term in January which will consist of 10 teaching weeks and an intensive collaborative engagement in February and then we’ll be left to practise until exam season begins so it all feels doable at the moment. Student services are helping me find the right balance and there is support from the faculty.
It will be challenging , yes and tiring too but I hope to write another blog a year from now, telling you about how my beautiful son and husband accompanied me to my graduation ceremony…