It’s a girl!

best laid plans count for nothing when Zara Lopez (not her real name) suddenly
goes into premature labour

3rd 2001
Stress levels: increasing Sleepless nights: too many to count Grey
hairs: Quite a few

my wish certainly came true. The baby – a delicate, but beautiful, baby girl,
who we’ve named Jade – came almost two and a half months earlier than expected.
As it was a premature birth, full of complications, I never made it back to New
York as planned.

fact, nothing went according to plan. Things were pretty fraught at the firm,
and at home, just before I went into premature labour. I had been suffering
from very high blood pressure from early March, but did I heed the doctor’s
orders to get complete bed rest? Of course not, although I’ve since lived to
regret it.

projects were either being cancelled or put on hold, especially in Venezuela,
as clients were making cutbacks. But there was a huge demand for me in Brazil
and Mexico, so I was on a plane to Rio or Mexico City every few days. Of
course, all that flying and jetlag put quite a lot of strain on both me and my
unborn child.

the rumours about streamlining the Latin operations didn’t help either. I had
plenty of sleepless nights before the birth, wondering whether my days in
Venezuela were numbered, even though I was initially supposed to be here for at
least two years. And because I didn’t want to jeopardise that, I didn’t
complain about the extra travel, despite my ever-growing bump – which with
hindsight was a mistake on my part. I felt sick and exhausted all the time.
Big, fat, very pregnant, very busy me ended up suffering from prenatal

at home didn’t help matters either. James’s interim post was taking him to New York
more and more often. And his long absences put a strain on our relationship, as
I was left alone trying to hold down a full-time job, as well as taking care of
Jasmin and Jad (who are from James’s first marriage). And although I love them
to bits, they play up when their dad isn’t around, especially Jad.

guess the pressure just mounted and the baby couldn’t take the strain any more.
My contractions started and I went into premature labour – all those arguments
about the birth method were a waste of time, as I had to have a caesarean under
anaesthetic in the end.

problems didn’t stop there. Jade had a weak heart and had to be constantly
monitored for the first few weeks. Needless to say, James and I were at our
wits’ end, wondering whether or not she was going to make it. But Jade is out
of danger now. And thankfully, she’s not a boy, as all males born here have to
do military service at 18.

certainly caused a few headaches for HR at HQ. They weren’t sure whether or not
I’d be covered by company insurance for the birth or the extra care that was
required at the private hospital. James and I could have been looking at a
six-figure bill! Luckily, the company’s insurance did cover it, simply because
the early birth was out of my control. But whether the firm will cough up for
extra childcare when I return to work remains to be seen.

manager wasn’t happy either, as I didn’t have time to train up my replacement,
Isabella. But that was hardly my fault, as I thought I still had a couple of
months to do that. So poor Isabella was thrown in at the deep end. But I’ve
tried to coach and mentor her while she’s been on the job, although it’s not
been as easy as I imagined. It requires a lot of tact and cultural sensitivity,
and basically being there for her when she gets stuck – in other words, I’m at
her beck and call.

that I’m home with Jade, I’ve been able to talk to Isabella more regularly, and
she often comes here to see me to discuss presentations. James thinks I spend
too much time with her, but I don’t mind. She needs a bit of handholding and,
if I’m honest, I guess I can’t let go completely. At least this way I’m kept in
the picture. However, James reckons I’m a workaholic, verging on control freak.

just as bad, but I’m glad he is back at home for now, as he’s proving to be the
archetypal proud, doting daddy. All my fears and suspicions about him having an
affair have suddenly been dispelled too.

the end of this month James and I are off to New York for a few weeks, as his
interim post requires his time there. So I’m following him around this time as
the trailing spouse. On a positive note, I guess I can spend some time with my
family over there, and it will also give Jasmin and Jad a break from the
screaming baby, and me. I’m going to enjoy the rest of my maternity leave – all
six weeks of it. But I will still be on call for Isabella.

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