9.9.15

Things no one tells you about pregnancy (but really should)

When I got pregnant, I considered myself to already be somewhat of an expert on pregnancy. I've always been mildly obsessed with pregnancy, childbirth and babies, and had done a probably creepy amount of reading on the subject for someone without children. This all started when I was little and read the two books my mum had on the shelf on pregnancy, one by Miriam Stoppard and one ridiculously old book that had been passed down to her from my Aunt Isobel. Bearing in mind my cousin Alison was born in 1978, the latter was pretty old school and of the 'boil water and fetch towels' and vaginal douching school of procreation. Ick. 

But slightly out-of-date advice aside, I thought I knew it all. And, to be honest, there hasn't been that much I've been surprised about when it comes to talking about the whole birth thing. I mean, I still have four weeks to go, and the entire labour experience to get through, so I could be MEGA thrown at the last minute, but on the whole it's not been too eye-opening an experience. However, there have been some things that have surprised me, which I think someone should have shared with me at some point in my life. 

+ When you get pregnant, no one looks up your foof. Considering your vajayjay area is sort of critical to the whole getting pregnant, gestating a foetus and birthing a baby thing, I was expecting it to get a lot more attention. I mean, I am very glad that it hasn't featured more prominently in my medical care so far, but I was pretty surprised that I went to the doctor and said "I think I'm pregnant" (not sure why I said "think", given that I'd done somewhere in the region of seven tests at this point) and she just congratulated me (I think she might even have given me a hug, but then my doctor is AWESOME). No peeing on a stick, no confirmatory blood test, and no rummaging around in my fanjo. Nada. I'm now 35 weeks pregnant and no one has asked me to remove my knickers (except for the non-routine early scan I had when I was convinced it was ectopic - the first of many unfounded crises). Maybe more women would reproduce if they knew how little downstairs attention they'd get. Until the end - sadly, I'm pretty sure I have a lot of rummaging in my future.

+ You might not get the glow. People tell me I have it, a guy at work came up to tell me how 'radiant and glowing' I looked, but I sure as heck do not feel it. At all. I spent the first trimester feeling pretty gross - I am so thankful that I escaped the morning sickness, but my goodness the tiredness was a killer. I used to come home from work, flop on the sofa at 6pm and stay there until bedtime. Kudos to anyone who manages that level of exhaustion with other kids to look after. The only thing that got me through that was the light at the end of the tunnel that was the promised second trimester glow. And that seemed to pass me by entirely. Sure, I had more energy during about weeks 14 to 28, but not the bags of energy I was promised. I had no sudden urges to spring clean the house or run a marathon, though there was a memorable evening at 15 weeks when I acted on an impulse to go for a 20 minute jog around the block. But otherwise I spent most of the second trimester feeling really self-conscious and not at all body-confident. Luckily T3 is better, but the tiredness is back, just a different kind of tiredness. 

+ You might love your pregnant body. Or you might not. I really struggled with body image from about week 14 to week 28. I just felt blobby and gross. I was thick-waisted but without much of a bump, and I felt like a lard-arse. Thankfully, I really like it now I have a proper bump, and I occasionally even feel a tiny bit sexy (occasionally. Really occasionally). But I am dreading the post-birth flab fight. 

+ If you're lucky, pregnancy can actually be pretty easy. Aside from the tiredness, and the new-found gestational diabetes, I have had a relatively uncomplicated pregnancy so far. It's actually pretty easy to forget I'm pregnant. In the early days I didn't believe I really was, despite the 11 home pregnancy tests and the scans that showed otherwise. I was convinced that I'd feel more pregnant once I had a bump and could feel the baby moving, but I'm now 35 weeks, unable to see my feet when I stand up and regularly receiving kicks to my organs and I still forget sometimes. I feel as if someone could come up to me tomorrow and say "pregnant? Oh no, you're not pregnant - that was all just a dream" and I'd be like "huh, ok. Bit of a bummer but that sort of makes sense". Madness. 
But I say this with a MASSIVE caveat - it might also be awful. This pregnancy journey has brought me together with a whole lot of lovely pregnant women, some of whom have had a horrific time - SPD, pre-eclampsia, premature birth, the works. I am SO thankful that, thus far, all I have to whine about is a bit of finger-pricking. 

+ Pregnancy can change your body in ways you didn't imagine. I have zero risk factors for GD - not overweight, no first degree relatives with diabetes, no polycystic ovaries...nada. But I still have it, and I never thought that would happen. But apparently pregnancy has thrown my body's ability to process sugar out of whack, so my growing cake addiction has to be curbed until baby is out and my body remembers how to deal with sugar again. I have, thank heavens, managed to escape the 'snissing' phenomenon so far (that's pissing when you sneeze, for those not in the know) and my bladder is holding strong (other than needing to go to the loo every 30 seconds) but I have developed an embarrassing lack of control over...gas. Poor Matt is being a total gentleman and not laughing/protesting in disgust at the little parps that now escape on the daily, but it is SO embarrassing. I was prepared for a lot of stuff, but not becoming an uncontrollable gas machine. Not cool. My nipples also appear to be making a pretty successful bid for world domination, but I feel I've shared enough for now so I'll spare you the deets.  

+ People will share everything with you. ALL the horror stories of their labours, their sister's labours, their neighbour's labours, their dog-walker's step-brother's aunt's labours... And they'll also tell you, repeatedly, lots of totally obvious stuff, as if a) they're the first person to tell you, and b) you don't know it already. A woman came up to me at Clapham Junction station the other day and, after asking when I was due and whether the baby was a boy or girl, proceeded to say "you know you're NEVER going to sleep again!" with more than a hint of glee in her voice. Then she introduced me to her eleven year old son. Given that he, presumably, does go to sleep sometimes, I can't help but feel her comment was a little...sensationalist. 

+ Your perspective on a lot of stuff will change. Every before the baby is a real person. Your priorities and lifestyle choices will do a 180. I don't really spend money on myself now. I've actually paid off the credit card debt I've been valiantly maintaining since I was 18 and started thinking about things like university fees and Junior ISAs. My priorities for a house are no longer balcony, shiny kitchen and close to cool bars and are more minimal stairs, proper bathtub and close to good schools. I have no desire to go out partying. Ever. I think more about what I put in my body and I wait for the green light to cross the street because I want to be here to see my daughter grow up. You'll also start thinking a lot more about really serious stuff. We have plans to write wills. The other day we had a heated debate about what would happen if the baby was born needing medical attention, and I was bleeding out - I want Matt to stay with the baby so she's never left alone, even if that means me dying by myself. He disagrees with my position. That is pretty heavy stuff. But it needs to be talked about. 

+ It WILL change your relationship, however determined you are that it won't. But that's not a bad thing. Yes, our nocturnal activities have definitely taken a turn for the non-existent, but I feel far more settled and content than I ever have. There's a bond that forms when you know you've created a life together, and that's incredibly powerful. I know that however bad things get, however tired we are and however much we scream at each other, Matt is going to make an AMAZING dad. I love him so much more now we're making a little family. Ok, enough mush. 

+ How fast time flies. I know that sounds totally cliched, but it's true. I moaned in the beginning that time was dragging but now we're a maximum of 4.5 weeks away from meeting our little girl and I honestly don't know where the time has gone. 

+ How much you can love this tiny person before they're even born. I have no idea what our daughter looks like, whether she's going to sleep or feed well or be a total nightmare, but I love her fiercely all the same. I don't like feeling sad in case that makes her sad. I worry she might be scared when she gets hiccups inside me (which happens about three times a day - she definitely takes after her Mama) and I desperately want to hold her and reassure her and tell her it's ok. feel so protective of her already, and the intensity of that feeling has really surprised me. It's truly amazing. 

+ You WILL become a baby bore. I know you thought you wouldn't, and you scoffed at those women who only want to talk about their pregnancy and their baby, but you will. This post is concrete proof of that. I can only imagine it's going to get a whole lot worse. Sorrynotsorry. Not one little bit. 

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