It’s strange to think back on the last eight and a half months and how much has changed, both physically and mentally, when expecting a little person. From the day I found out I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to spend some time putting a post like this together, frankly for my own selfish purpose as I instantly started Googling and asking around about what the 9 month journey was like.
With a platform like this at hand, and also seeing so much staged and enhanced reality (not from everyone, but a lot), I wanted to use this experience to get real about motherhood, and at least share my journey and perspective with all of you. Like with everything on this blog and through my social media, I hope that if you’ve clicked through to this post you know and can understand that this is merely my opinion and own thoughts, as I’ve found reading other people’s thoughts, tips and tricks really reassuring and helpful, mostly. But to be honest, there has also been a ton of information and opinions that have really thrown me, and I think that women, in particular, tend to put pressure on themselves to feel or act in a certain way — because we are women.
I’ve also had a lot of questions from my friends and family about what the journey has been like, considering my past with an eating disorder and body image. I wanted to write about this in a really open and honest manner, as it was something that was on my mind a lot before falling pregnant. But, let’s start with the fun part!
The beauty of uncertainty
Being able to create a little life of your own is certainly no birth right, as much as your teachers and parents scare you with the prospect of it when you’re entering your teens, falling pregnant is not a “given”, for anyone. I have never been, and am still not a maternal person, I don’t feel like I was “born to be a mum”, or feel like this is the most natural thing in the world. There, I said it. But, I do know that we’re very lucky to be able to have experienced this, and I will say that if you are in the process of trying or desperately want a family of your own — don’t give up and try to trust in the process. We were lucky in a sense that it happened quite quickly, but I also had a little devil on my shoulder telling me that it never was going to happen, because of how I had treated my body between 15 – 24 years of age.
I told myself that I would be completely fine with not being able to have children of my own, but when nothing had happened for 8 months I was quietly starting to get a little nervy. If anything, I just wanted to know what was wrong with me, and if there was anything that I could do. But even getting myself to my doctor and doing some blood work took another few months to pluck up the courage to do, mainly because I felt at that stage that I was committing to the process. And I honestly didn’t feel like I had what it took to become a mum. I still don’t — but more on that later.
After a few rounds of blood work we established that there was nothing wrong with me, and whatever damage I had been told that I had done (and not to marry to the idea of children one day, because it might not be possible), appeared to have been avoided in the larger scale, but that a little kick in the bum to some hormone levels might be a good idea. I ended up taking a natural supplement that would help with this, and though it might not have been that alone, I found out a month later that we were going to be welcoming a little person into the world. Falling pregnant is a magical and mysterious process, and I trust believe that “all the stars need to align” in some way, shape or form, for this to happen. So don’t do what I did, and put pressure on yourself to have it happen by a certain time. Trust in the process and don’t attach yourself to an outcome, would be my biggest piece of advice.
Nothing is text-book
When I fell pregnant I just knew. A lot of women say this, but there were also plenty of false alarms and reading into any signs that I was probably blowing out of proportion because I wanted to feel different. This time I felt like a current of electricity was running through me — now I know this is the strangest description, and that you probably think I’m nuts, but that’s what it felt like. Googling the “first signs of pregnancy”, this was certainly not up there, so I can’t say that the beginning of the journey was in any way text-book.
Taking the test was also a process that I feel didn’t go according to the fairy tale. I was home, alone, when I got the double line result that I never thought that I would see. I had put an expectation on myself to be jumping for joy and rushing into my husband’s arms in tears of joy, but I found myself sitting there staring blankly at the lines, with no emotion. I instantly started beating myself up for this, expecting to either have a “jump for joy” or a “hell no, this isn’t happening” reaction. It didn’t feel real, and I didn’t know if I was ready, and I most certainly didn’t feel like I was reacting the “I should”.
Hand on heart, it probably took me a good 4-5 months to properly warm up to the idea of becoming a mum. I say this knowing how lucky I am, and am in not any way taking this for granted, but at the same time I think it’s OK to need a bit more time than others to genuinely feel like “I can do this”, with motherhood. Don’t tell yourself you have to feel a certain way, and don’t, ever, compare yourself to others. It’s your journey. Ride the wave, babe.
Oh boy. When I said the initial part of my pregnancy wasn’t exactly text book, I can say that the first trimester most certainly was. That thing they call morning sickness, is a thing, and it’s not just in the morning, either. This didn’t kick in ’til about week 8-9 for me, but was pretty intense and persistent until week 15. I know that some women can’t get out of bed, or even end up in hospital, so I really should not complain, but I was feeling pretty damn sorry for myself during this time.
The nausea was constant, and food was pretty much off the cards at all times, let alone being in the kitchen when someone was cooking. The only thing I can really compare it to is a monster hang-over, the kind you really just want to sit in the shower all day and not speak to anyone.
Dr. Google was again my go-to for answers and remedies, as well as asking a few friends and family for advice. The few things I managed to stomach were plain rice crackers and green smoothies, so I stuck to anything that felt OK. Don’t force yourself to eat or drink anything you don’t want to, and try to get as much rest as possible. I found that the one and only thing that truly helped, was sleep — which could also be hard because of the constant nausea, and having a full time job. Ginger tablets seemed to help a little, but I had to top these up every 2-3 hours or they didn’t help.
My immune system also seemed to cop a beating at this point, as I managed to pick up every office cold over 2 months, and they would knock me out in ways I hadn’t experienced before. Otherwise being pretty robust, I was surprised that I would catch the smallest thing hanging around. Lesson : steer clear of anyone battling something and don’t trust your immune system to be the same during this time. If you do get sick, there’s not much you can do apart from rest, and lots of water.
Things to think about
Spend some time researching apps and download the ones most appealing to you. I loved using The Bump and What to Expect When You’re Expecting (the book is also a must). This is a time to read up so you can spend time forming your own opinions on things and ask your OB / GP / Midwife all the right questions.
Taking time out
It may not look like it yet, but you’re growing a human! If you’re struggling with morning sickness (I feel your pain), make sure you drink lots and lots of water, and get rest where you can. Chat yo our OB or GP about solutions. Rest is key.
Stop buying clothes
Two reasons. You’ll be needing as much of your savings as possible for bub-basics, plus gorgeous summer dresses will only make you feel bummed in a few months when the zipper doesn’t do up (hello, boobs!), so focus on making the most of what you have, and do some research on comfortable pregnancy basics which you will be needing to invest in eventually (I will do a post on this soon).
They say this is the most blissful time of pregnancy, and I can say that this was the case for me (finally, can tick that text-book box!). It was however also the time when I started to notice my body changing the most, which has been, and still is, a journey for me in it’s own right.
Whilst the morning sickness had subsided — thank goodness — slowly feeling my jeans getting tighter was a pretty intimidating feeling. Again I was bombarded with articles and messages of how amazing it should feel to grow a human, I found myself struggling with my changing body and not being able to wear my normal clothes. I realise how incredibly vain and selfish this sounds, but I want to be real with everyone reading this. I also started to think more about how things would be different from now on — with work, life, commitments, holidays. It was a time letting go of a lot of superficial bullshit, and frankly something I needed to mentally spend time on. As I don’t have any family around, I knew that this was something I was very much embarking on “on my own”, and that was probably just starting to sink in a little.
Talk to your loved one about it. I am so lucky to have the most understanding and wonderful husband in the world (I know everyone says that 😉 and he has been my absolute rock through this. When I’ve tried to bottle things up and say that “everything is OK”, when it’s not, talking to him about it has not only made me stronger, but made me excited about what’s to come.
Remember that you’re not in this alone, and it’s OK to feel vulnerable. Talk to someone about it. If it’s not your partner, maybe it’s a friend or a parent. A college. Your dog. Just get it out. And let it take the time that it needs to make you feel stronger — because it will. I also found that practicing a little bit of mindfulness through whatever means you like (meditation, walking, exercising) really, really helps. I have exercised all the way through my pregnancy and I know for a fact it’s helped tremendously with my headspace. And if you don’t feel like going to the gym, a half hour walk will also do the trick.
Things to think about
Guess what. It’s going to happen. But the worst thing you can do is stress about it. Carrying another human means you’re going to weigh more (who knew!?) plus there is a bunch of other groovy stuff happening with fluid levels and even blood volume. This was one of my biggest concerns with the pregnancy, given my history, and when the midwife told me what my BMI was (which was totally normal, but BMI and my weight is something I have chosen not to know for the last 8+ years), I freaked out a little. If it’s something that’s on your mind, chat to someone you love about it. Don’t bottle it up. And remember, it’s temporary.
Keep up the exercise, if you can
Like with everything, get this cleared with your OB / GP before you do. I cannot stress that enough. If you do get the all clear, don’t stop moving. But also, don’t engage in activity you haven’t before, as this is not the time to introduce a new exercise routine or smash PB’s. I’ve strength trained the last 3-4 years and I haven’t stopped during this pregnancy, but I have dropped the weight, and on days I really haven’t felt like training, I haven’t. If something is really uncomfortable or painful, I stop. And get walking, 30 minutes every day, if you can.
Start thinking about essentials
Yes, we are sold things we do NOT need as mother’s-to-be. You could spend a fortune creating a nursery or even just buying what people are telling you are “must-have’s” for little ones, when as a matter of fact, what they need most is food, love and a roof over their head. In saying that, there are absolutely s few things that will make yours and bub’s life a hell of a lot easier and also give you peace of mind. I will do a round up post of these essentials when bub is here, as I want to make sure I give you guys tips on things that I actually ended up seeing as newborn-essentials.
To me, this time felt like the “I’m officially pregnant” trimester. Things that were cute before (bump, having to buy new bras, not sleeping great etc) have now become a bit… exhausting. I know some women love the entire pregnancy journey, and girl, if that’s you — I salute you!
Oversized clothes that you thought would last you all the way no longer fit, and feeling uncomfortable has a whole new meaning. To date I have yet to discover any stretch marks, which I’m kind of relieved about, but if they do appear I’m not going to fall into a heap. Some women get them. Some women get none. Some women have freckles. Some don’t. Embrace your own journey and try not to compare yourself to others. You’re growing a human, and that’s pretty damn cool.
I’ve had a constant pain in my right side since about week 34, which I’ve been told is baby Sparks’ feet / knees making my ribs an ottoman and sometimes a punching bag. Again I’ve just been told to rill with the punches (quite literally), and keep moving until things ease up a bit. I hate to say it, but due to the ever shrinking room in there things just keep getting more uncomfortable every day, but I’ve found “breather days” where I think the body adjusts to the feeling, and things get a little easier. Remember, that little person will be growing a lot towards the end, so keep that in mind and try to get yourself and comfortable as you can — think “kind” clothes (by that I mean things that don’t feel tight or dig in), lots of body oils / moisturiser to relieve stretched or dry skin, and don’t forget to drink lots of water. I’ve managed to dodge any crazy fluid retention and swelling, which I’m super grateful for, but instead have had to force myself to ensure I drink enough water as I’ve never been good at that.
Things to think about
The first few weeks
If you haven’t already, make sure you plan for your time off (if you can!), or look at solutions where you can involve friends or family. I’ve obviously not experienced it yet, but from what I’ve read the first 4-8 weeks are like walking around in a bit of a haze. Stock up on household essentials. Plan to get your groceries delivered or cook up big, easy meals and freeze them. Find some awesome Netflix shows (but don’t start watching them yet!)
Enjoy your ‘you’ time
I’ve read plenty of articles telling me I need to “go and get a low maintenance hair cut”, “clear out my make up drawer because I’ll never wear it again”, and “enjoy my showers because I won’t be taking them very often”. These kinds of articles, in my opinion, sound like complete BS, and only makes any mother-to-be feel like they’ve got hell coming. Whilst I am sure there is a wild set of changes coming and that life never will be the same again, it is also what you make it yourself, even with change introduced into your everyday. I will say though, that ‘you’ time sounds like it’ll be pretty darn rare the first few months, so make sure you take it, and enjoy it now.
Pack your hospital bag
I did this at about 34 weeks because I’m a bit OCD and like to be ready. Always. It’s given me huge peace of mind knowing that it’s just sitting there, ready to go, and if I think of something in the middle of the night that I’ve forgotten to pack, I can just pop it in the bag the next morning. I will do a seperate post on this once we’re back home, again because I want to be able to break down what I actually ended up using, and what was a waste of time.
I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I’ve enjoyed looking back at the last eight and half months, and do leave a comment below if you have any tips, suggestions, questions or just want to chat about your own pregnancy journey, too. If it’s one thing I’ve found during this time is that women either compare and lecture each other on what’s right and wrong, or they are completely open, offer storeis of their own experience without forcing their opinion and just show support. It’s a massive journey for all of us, and a different one at that, for each and every one. So let’s respect that and help each other. x