So this post has a more personal slant than any I have written before, and isn’t really at all about fashion, but I have found myself talking about pregnancy-related experiences I certainly wasn’t expecting with so many people and decided to collate all my observations in one place. I would LOVE to know if you have experienced any or all of these ‘really’s?’ and ‘I never expected…”, because each pregnancy is certainly unique. I hope you can also find the humour in some of the less glamorous aspects, as now that I’m not crippled with sickness, I can find humility in this experience!
1. There are some very unsavoury side effects of pregnancy no-one ever talks about. You name it, I’ve had it. Gas. Burping. Heart burn. Constipation. Headaches (though, miraculously and SO thankfully, no migraines). Excess saliva. Excess discharge. Bloating. Sickness (I refuse to call it morning sickness, because it lasted all day and peaked at night). Shedding a lot of hair. Breast tenderness. Soreness in your lower back. Muscular pains, including some really lovely ones in my vagina. One of my mummy girlfriends told me that if people were truly honest about pregnancy symptoms, the human race would cease to exist. Touché.
2. Alternately, once the worst of those first few months is over, there are some benefits to being pregnant (apart from, you know, the baby at the end). Whilst my hair isn’t as lustrous as I’d anticipated, my nails have never looked so damn perfect. I had someone ask me the other day if I was wearing gels because they are long and strong and pearly pink. People say my skin is glowing (I personally feel I am greatly assisted by some fabulous makeup, but I’ll happily accept that compliment!). People are so willing to be accommodating and quite literally do the heavy lifting for you. It is also the most wonderful excuse for a host of things, including rollercoaster moods, tiredness and forgetfulness.
3. Plus, I am really feeling the love. I honestly didn’t think I could love my husband more than I did before we fell pregnant. Since we created life together, and especially once we saw our precious baby on the monitor for the first time, I have never loved him more. I hear that feeling is expounded upon once you’ve given birth – to that I say, bring it on 🙂
And to Ben, you’re welcome to remind me of this when I am a new mother, sleep-deprived and very cranky at you for reasons untold 😛
4. However, not everyone is as excited as you think they ought to be. When you announce the wonderful news, the majority of your family and friends are unreservedly thrilled and bask contentedly in your joy. Sadly, you are likely to encounter some who aren’t very interested (not a big deal, but who doesn’t love babies and the miracle of life I ask you!!??) or worse, others who change completely. We have unfortunately experienced people of both ilk. The only way to rationalise that behaviour is to realise that those who don’t revel in your joy and excitement are people who are experiencing their own bitterness, resentment, unhappiness or jealousy about not being in the same situation themselves. I’ll be honest, it is incredibly challenging to deal with these people, especially when the expectation had been nothing but love and support from those around you. The only thing you can tell yourself is that (despite feeling to the contrary) it is not personal, merely a projection of the inner turmoil and unhappiness that person is experiencing.
5. You finally realise how inappropriate it is to ask (and be asked) future-baby-related questions. I don’t think I would have hesitated prior to thinking about falling pregnant to ask friends, colleagues or loved ones about their family plans, if they desired to have children, how many and when, and I know from experience that most people find this question only natural to ask. However, since planning for a baby became super serious, I now know how desperately inappropriate it is to ask someone this question. It is so intensely personal, because you never know if someone doesn’t want children, can’t have children or has experienced the loss of an unborn child. You certainly wouldn’t ask someone you hardly know about their sex lives or how many times a day they defecate, so please realise grilling someone about their family intentions is no different!!
6. The fact you are actually pregnant can feel very surreal for a very long time. Even though we have had the necessary scans to see our little one and I have felt her moving since week 15, I still sometimes can’t believe I am pregnant. As overjoyed as we are, and as much as we are emotionally ready and had planned our precious gift, there are times when I simply can’t comprehend we will soon have a baby. It’s like I know it’s happening, but somewhere inside me I don’t fully understand that I’m growing a life inside me and am actually having a baby
*cue shocked face*.
7. You don’t look pregnant for quite some time, but all you really want is that perfect looking pregnant belly. So for the majority of my pregnancy (I am now approaching week 23), I have either felt I have looked, or in reality have actually looked, bloated. Like I overindulged at Easter. Like I had a beer gut. I have felt like I needed to wear a sign indicating I am pregnant, or go classy a la Britney Spears, and wear a t-shirt stating in no uncertain terms this swelling middle was, in fact, a foetus and not a love for French fries. I am still convinced at times that I don’t look very pregnant, and I do question if others notice, given no one on a bus or train has yet offered me their seat!! I freely admit I cannot wait to have that undeniable, pert, perfect pregnant belly 🙂
8. Not all elastic waists are created equal. I genuinely thought that anything I owned with a stretch or elasticised waist band would suffice during pregnancy. How wrong was I. I have pulled on certain items thinking the elastic waist would perfectly accommodate an expanding middle, only to feel as if I was being strangled or garrotted. On the other hand, some elasticated waist bands, whilst having a degree of comfort, look horrific on, slicing into my still somewhat pliable belly (envisage two fat chipolata sausages joined by that knot of skin – the knot of skin being my waist. Visually horrifying but entirely accurate).
9. Time both moves at a glacial pace and at breakneck speeds. Those first 15 weeks? Dragged by, possibly because I was so sick and could not see an end to the illness in sight. Since week 16? Ummm, hello? Where are the days going? How am I not more organised? Has time been sucked into some unknown vortex??!!!
10. You can really start to see the competitive mum syndrome in some of your pregnant cohorts. I hate competition. I have never ever been a competitive person and don’t like comparing myself to anyone. Sure, I enjoy board games and would love Oprah’s bank account (and wardrobe, and multiple estates, and private chef), but I have never been someone who wants what others have and (aggressively) competes to achieve it. However, I am already noticing with some pregnant women an undercurrent of competition: “I’ve only put on 2 kilos!”; “The textbooks must be wrong because my foetus started kicking super early”; “I’m already reading Ulysses to my unborn child”; “My husband feeds me skinned grapes and spends hours rubbing my not-at-all-swollen feet”; “I’ve pre-ordered the Silver Cross Aston Martin Surf 2 pram and it should be here any day now!” and so on. You can read more about competitive mums here and steel yourself for what’s to come.
I hope you have enjoyed this (not exhaustive) list of my thoughts and feelings about pregnancy. I must add a disclaimer that generally, my mother friends have been self-deprecating, honest and totally supportive. To those women, who know who they are, I thank you for making me feel not alone in this weird and absolutely wonderful journey!