22.3.15

The First Trimester, aka Limbo-land

As I approach the end of the first trimester (though I still have 1.5 weeks to go), all I can say is this: having a baby is SLOW.
 
I just feel like I’m constantly waiting. Waiting for the next milestone, the next appointment, the next week, waiting until we finally get the green light to be able to tell people.
 
I’m caught in the limbo-land between a positive test (ok, eleven positive tests) and the confirmation at the twelve week scan that all is ok. It’s only been SEVEN weeks since I found out, it’s another one until the scan and I am Fed Up. I could just sit by myself and cry about this, but why would I spare you that pain? A whine shared is a whine halved, or whatever.
 
Before I launch into a tirade about why the first trimester is rubbish, I’m going to preface this with a few quick disclaimers, lest anyone think I am a horrid insensitive harpy who doesn’t know she’s born.
 
+ I know I am incredibly  lucky to be in this position. I know there are plenty of women out there who would kill to be in my position. Women who can’t conceive, or who have lost babies, women who are struggling to get those two lines on a pregnancy test. I have nothing but admiration for how strong those women are, and I wouldn’t change my situation for the world.
+ I have also been MEGA lucky with symptoms. Nothing worse than sore boobies and a bit of nausea. And the tiredness. Oh, the tiredness. Actually, scratch that – exhaustion. But nowhere near the extremes some women contend with. There is a woman in my Facebook group who has been hospitalised with hyperemesis gravidarum – the worst her doctors say they’ve ever seen. She has lost over two stone, can’t even have IV fluids, and has had to have a PICC line put in to give her fluids and nutrients. Then she got c.diff from the hospital. I cannot even imagine what that is like.
 
But back to me and my selfish whining.
 
My least favourite things about Limbo-land:
 
1.       You can’t tell anyone. Ok, it’s not a hard-and-fast rule, and we’ve been slowly telling our nearest and dearest, but I feel as if I have to caveat it with a “don’t tell anyone else, it’s really early days, it might all go wrong” and quash their congratulations just in case. You feel tired and sicky and just a bit off, but if anyone who doesn't know says you look pale or asks if you’re ok, you have to slap on a smile and say everything’s fine.
2.       You have to very quickly develop an internal filter to switch on between the hours of nine and five, and any time you see friends. I’ve very quickly got used to mentioning the baby at home to Matt, and I really struggle to not drop it into conversation at work, or at the pub, or on the phone to friends.
3.       If you decide not to tell anyone, you have to lie to people. Actually, unless you decide to tell EVERYONE then you’re going to have to lie to someone sooner or later. Whether it’s lying to work about your fifth medical appointment in a month, finding yet another excuse why you’re not drinking (I find “I’m doing Dry [insert current month]” and Lent make excellent and unquestionable reasons for abstaining) or frantically rushing around the house before your friend comes over, pulling the calendar down off the wall and hiding What to Expect When You’re Expecting behind another title on the bookshelf, you’re lying. And I don’t like lying. Which is probably why I’ve ended up telling far more people than I intended to by this point. And then you panic because you might have to tell them that something has gone wrong. Which brings me on to…
4.       You have no clue that anything is ok. An absence of symptoms makes me worried that it’s all gone Pete Tong, but even those with loads of symptoms aren’t spared this panic, as the internet is FULL to the rafters of stories of women whose symptoms continued long after their baby had died. Every little twinge has me convinced that it’s all gone horribly wrong. The person who invents the Uterus Viewing Window (‘U-View’ – patent pending, by me) will be very, very rich.
5.       You have no bump*, so you don’t get offered a seat on the tube/spared the usual elbows to the stomach that are so often used on the District Line by other people trying to squeeze onto an already overcrowded tube. People of West Brompton, I’m talking to YOU. And, if you’re anything like me, no bump + no symptoms + not feeling the baby yet = me wondering whether I’ve just made the whole thing up.
6.       The Internet is your best friend, and your very worst. It can reassure you without judgement (there’s nothing like being able to post some ridiculous question like “can I cough so hard my baby will fall out?” or “does anyone else smell blood everywhere?” without fear of judgement). But there’s also a darker side to the internet. I think of it as the Trip Advisor problem: if you stay in a hotel and it’s great, you don’t bother writing about it online. If it’s appalling, you get straight on Trip Advisor (other hotel review sites are available) and tell the world all about the cockroaches and the rude staff and the suspicious stains on the bedsheets. The baby-net works in the same way. You google something innocent like “[insert hospital of choice] maternity unit” and, as well as their NHS page, you get four news stories about neglectful nurses and baby deaths and umpteen forum posts about the horrific experiences of other women who gave birth there. So far I’ve read that a woman was told she was being ridiculous when she said she wanted to push and was left alone to have her baby in a toilet (yes – literally in the toilet), stories of women being left in beds covered in their own blood and faeces for hours without being seen and a lot of stories I don’t even click on that involve the words 'newborn' and ‘death’ together. And this is by no means the worst-rated hospital in London – you should see some of the other Google search results. Do as I say and not as I do, kids - STEP AWAY FROM THE IPAD.
 
Other crappy things about the first trimester include: 

the tiredness. Oh, the tiredness. Never before have I been able to go to bed at 8.30pm and still be tired in the am. 
the night peeing. Why? 
the hormones. Until about a week ago I totally didn't get the crying-for-no-reason thing. Then I hit about 10.5 weeks and now I feel All The Feelings. 

To counter that, I should probably mention some of the great things about the first T:
 
+ You have this amazing secret that only you and your partner know. It’s magical. You can have lovely conversations about how wonderful it’ll all be without those who have actually experienced it quashing your naivety. You can also discuss names with wild abandon without anyone pointing out that it reminds them of a murderer (thanks, Dad) or “he sounds like a thick American” (again, thanks, Dad).
+ No bump = not being rumbled by work before you’re ready to tell.
+ People who know are nice to you and encourage you to take a nap and eat cake. Contrary to my post yesterday (I blame All The Feelings), visitors can be awesome. 
+ Being pregnant. A life growing inside you is pretty darn awesome. 
 

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