Now as any of you who read my blog will know (and thank you soooooooooo much if you do), I am right near the end of my pregnancy, 37 weeks + 5 days to be exact! What a journey it has been! I have been, and still am, so unbelievably grateful to have conceived and to be carrying this little baby, who I already love so much.
But, I have to be honest, it’s not been easy. Pregnancy is not easy. We all have those friends, the lucky ones, who sail through pregnancy without so much as a hint of heartburn. I have not been one of them. Pregnancy is many things; a miracle, the most amazing gift, exciting and the feeling of unconditional love engulfs you even when your baby is still the size of an apple pip. However it is also tiring, hard work, bizarre, and full of side effects that no one utters a word about until you are in the thick of pregnancy and that appear with no warning! So whilst some women are fortunate enough to be the picture of pregnancy bliss, there are some of us that are the exact opposite and I hope this post will help you to see you’re not alone in your projectile vomiting, unspeakable gas, inability to stay awake in the day, yet unable to fall asleep at night and living in constant fear if you sneeze three times in a row you’re going to wet yourself!
The First Trimester
You’ve just found out you’re pregnant! Congratulations; it is one of the BEST feelings in the whole world. I had a week of floating on air and full of sheer joy and excitement after getting my positive pregnancy test, before it started. The morning sickness….. which is NOT just in the morning, but all bloody day long and through the night! I only had one other friend who really suffered the same way as I have. I never feel resentful of pregnant friends who haven’t suffered with it though, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I even had to give up working at around 8 weeks cause it was that relentless. And incredibly frustrating;you’ll go out for a lovely meal, scoff the lot and then get home only to throw it up. Not Fun At All! And a waste of date nights. I have never thrown up so much in my life; it was absolutely exhausting, and having to hide it from everyone was not particularly easy.
It is also around this time you gain the ability to fall asleep absolutely anywhere. You’ll get in from work and go straight to bed. You’ll literally cry when your alarm goes off in the morning cause you’re that tired you can’t get out of bed. If you can nap, do! I managed to learn to nap in all sorts of places; the toilets at work (I basically camped out there anyway as I was being so sick), any car I got in and I even managed to sleep through the whole of Clean Bandits set at a festival I went to. Embrace it though – sleep loads. Cause at least when you’re asleep, you’re not throwing up.
Now by this point, most pregnant women are out of the woods with regards to morning sickness. It seems that as soon as you have that wonderful 12 week scan you erupt in such a glitterbomb of happiness and share your news, it cancels out all feelings of sickness (I did not have that experience; Obviously I had the happiness and excitement but it didn’t cancel any sickness out and I still managed to throw up on scan day, although perhaps it was sheer excitement). So that’s the good news. However you will start to experience some other lovely symptoms…. come on, what did you expect! Now, your inner bitch will have already reared her lovely head during the first trimester, and she will continue to make herself known during the second (and third…. and labour… and sleep deprivation… hmmm!!). You will be up and down like a yo-yo; one second I’d be perfectly happy and content then before I knew it, I’d be crying my eyes out at a dog food advert. And should my hubby have even considered teasing me for my hormonal state….. well my god, he knew about it. It is best not to argue with a pregnant woman unless absolutely necessary, because we will always win. We’re growing a baby – we win at everything!! On top of these raging hormones, you’ll already be feeling insecure due to your growing belly as this tends to be the stage where you just feel and look a bit fat. This can really hit your confidence hard and if you’re already in a sensitive state of mind, it is another situation which will bring on the tears. If you feel the need for a cry, cry. Who cares if it’s an episode of emmerdale that pushes you over the edge, just get it out your system. And have faith, your bump will start looking very bump like before you know it!!
Another hideous side effect in the second trimester (who said this was the honeymoon period of pregnancy), I found, were headaches. I got awful headaches for about 6 weeks and then you’re into the whole “can I take paracetamol” predicament. Now, for the record, yes you absolutely can take paracetamol during pregnancy. In fact it’s about the only medication you can take. I had a lot of friends say they didn’t take it in pregnancy as they felt guilty in doing so, and this put me off even more. It made me feel like I’d be a bad person if I did take any. But then my husband and mother both pointed out I’d be doing the baby more harm by stressing over a headache, than by taking a paracetamol which has been medically approved for pregnant women! So if you need them, take them and if you want to refrain from taking them be sure to drink LOADS of water! It’s so important to keep hydrated, especially if you have the sickness on top.
So now that you’ve enjoyed the “easy” second trimester….
So you’re on the home straight. Not long now…… apart from the fact that this is when time seems to slow down and pregnancy can begin to drag. And of course this coincides with the fact that now you can definitely see you’re pregnant and feel like an uncoordinated whale (is that just me)! It will seem as though baby has had a sudden growth spurt and those beautiful baby kicks will go from lovely flutters and teeny kicks to a knee joint spontaneously poking out of your tummy and quite frankly, freaking out your other half when you make them feel it. Also as baby grows your ability to eat a full meal will diminish, but your appetite won’t, and with that comes the heartburn. Acid reflux is quite simply rank. It burns, you feel like everything you’ve just eaten is flowing back up and you will begin to buy more rennies than you have done your whole life. As if this isn’t fun enough, in our antenatal classes, we were warned that in the third trimester your morning sickness is likely to rear its ugly head again, especially if you suffered with it in the first trimester. So that, with the acid reflux, means you’re most likely to become close friends with your toilet again! Mine came back full force and I am back to being sick most days. My addiction to Terry’s Chocolate Oranges probably hasn’t helped.
I’m afraid that the third trimester is also the time your body goes into some kind of sadistic training for living with a lack of sleep. As you get bigger it will become increasingly difficult to get comfortable; you can’t lie on your front or your back and the recommended way of lying is on your left hand side to ensure maximum blood flow to baby and the placenta. All very well and good but not what you want to hear when you just want to get some sleep and it only feels like you can if you’re on your right side! It can also drive you mental when people say “it’s all practise for when the baby gets here”. Oh whoopee, but what about me, all pregnant and tired, I just want to sleep. As with the first trimester, try and nap when you can in the day, especially when you go on maternity leave. I’ve often found it easier to fall asleep for a couple of hours on the sofa in the middle of the day than I have at night.
Nearing the end
It’s an awful thing to say but as you get closer and closer to your due date, you hate everyone. And everything. You are officially uncomfortable 98% of the time. The other 2% is when you are eating chocolate chip cookies at the kitchen counter at 2am, but you are only comfortable then because you are distracted. The baby’s kicks now feel like punches. You officially have nothing to wear. Start joking that you will be wrapping bed sheets around yourself to go to Tesco. Only you know the truth, it is not a joke. It’s a sad day when the bath towel doesn’t reach to close around your gigantic body.
Then at around 38/39 weeks, when you’re full term, you panic. You need that baby out now. Yesterday even. But there is the little issue of getting it out… pain, labour, blood, birth, loss of dignity (oh no, I lost that when I threw up in a bin in Asda car park in front of a bunch of workmen) You do research on how to speed this last part along. Raspberry tea. Sex. Bouncing ball. Walking. Swearing the baby is ready. Your body reaches a point of no return. You need to be pushed out of bed and pulled off the couch. You are a prisoner under a giant belly. But guess what; It is SO worth it. Because soon you’ll get to meet this little person. I am now very nearly 38 weeks, and I can’t wait to meet this baby who has made me throw up nearly every day for the last 8 and a half months, who has created hormones that make me suffer with restless legs, resulting in the horrendous sleep deprivation I’ve already mentioned, who has made me eat more chocolate than I knew possible hence me gaining 3 and a half stone (opps), who has made me have such horrendous mood swings that my husband has had to adopt the patience of saint, and who will most likely put me through the worst pain of my life when he or she finally decides to show up, with contractions and pains that I’ll suffer until the sweet release of an epidural makes me feel like a euphoric super woman! I’d take all these symptoms and miserable side effects ten fold, for my baby. It’s so worth it. I already know this and I haven’t even given birth yet. But the love I have for this baby outweighs any negativity.
So as I’ve said, it’s not always easy. Equally it’s not always hard and I hope your pregnancy goes a lot easier than mine. But it’s always worth it. I’ve been honest about my experience here, and I am sure I’ll forget all the difficulties once he or she is in my arms. Just remember you’re a friggin hero for getting through pregnancy, and birth! What you’ve accomplished and coped with is immense and at the end of it all you’re rewarded with your beautiful baby. I honestly can’t think of a better reward.
So no, pregnancy isn’t always a blissful yoga-filled experience. But however your pregnancy goes, good or bad, it’ll be worth every second of the last 9 months.
PS. Do your pelvic floors! Yes it’s tedious, annoying and you forget to do them, but lets be honest if there’s one embarrassing side effect of pregnancy we could all do without, it’s peeing ourselves on that third sneeze!