Pregnant. Knocked up. Up the duff. Expecting. Bun in the oven. Up the pole. Stuffed. All beautiful terms to explain the current condition I find myself in. The news came as a bit of shock. A welcome shock, but a big surprise all the same.
There was the sickness. And the tiredness. And the fact that we were getting married in seven days and there was a real chance I would puke on the priest. And Christmas was in there too. Greedily, I kept the news to myself for four nights and five days. My husband-to-be oblivious to my cell-dividing womb asked what was up with me as I again covered my mouth in an effort not to vomit mid sentence. Pre-wedding nerves he thought. But there were no nerves.
I went to town the day after I found out. Ecstatic, I walked around, catching shoppers’ eyes, willing them to ask – what is your secret? Any news? I bought a soft white babygro and tiny booties and fought back tears at the shop counter. I had tea, and a large pastry in a coffee shop, and thought about the six week old foetus now growing inside me.
On Christmas Eve we exchanged gifts. All day, I had asked, ‘When are we opening our presents?’, but there was no rush he said. We waited till dark, and opened a bottle of red wine under the Christmas tree lights. I poured a large glass; acting in a pregnancy play. And we opened our gifts.
Calendar. Books. Jewellery. Regular Christmas gifts. And then to the last present. A squat, padded parcel – a t-shirt he thought. The soft white material was a bit off, he felt, as he pulled it from its wrapping. What sort of design was it….? And then… the babygro fell onto his lap, and my face said it all.
And so, we have since Christmas, been getting used to the idea and preparing for being parents. There is much to read and learn and fret and worry about, but pregnancy is a long process and many things can happen.
I have been wanting to write about being pregnant for a long time. But it all seems so private. And who really wants to know about your heartburn? So, at almost six months pregnant, I have prepared a list of the Top Ten Most Surprising Things About Pregnancy. This covers trimester one and two. We’ll save trimester three and the birth for a scare at Halloween!
1) The Thin Blue Line
Getting a positive pregnancy test is probably one of the most defining moments of a woman’s life. Whether a planned bambino or a tiny set of cells sent to shock Mommy into crisis, the biggest surprise is the news itself. I had a negative test at first and spent give glorious days dreaming about honeymoon cocktails. But, as nausea symptoms appeared, I felt a crazy sub-conscious inkling that I was indeed pregnant. And when that thin blue line finally raced up the white paper stick, I thought, well there go the cocktails.
2) Is that an elephant on my chest, or is baby just pleased to breathe me
I would never have considered myself an unfit person. A bit lazy yes. Carrying some extra pounds now and then, no doubt. But not being able to breathe after climbing a tiny set of stairs? Please. From very early on, I lost huge amounts of lung capacity. When gardening at around 16 weeks, I almost fainted and had to spend the day on the couch after mowing our very small lawn. Some days I feel as if there just isn’t enough air and shout at my colleagues to stop breathing in the office AND WASTING ALL THE OXYGEN! Breathlessness can be a sign of anaemia, but in this case, I think baby is just being a greedy little foetus and pushing my diaphragm up into my lungs. I can’t ever imagine running again.
3) New curves, new problems
All the pregnancy mush you read in books and online describes how your partner will find your new curves and ‘vivacious’ body utterly irresistible. Bullcrappio. I have never seen my partner so turned off in my life. And that’s despite trying really hard over the years. [But I have kebab stuck to my face and you still fancy me?] This can be hard for a lady to take – afterall we can’t control how our body changes or our new pregnancy shape. But, as the baby grows, so too does the love. Get ready for plenty of cuddles!
4) No more sit ups, get ready to roll
Another gradual process is losing the ability to sit up or bend down. Like other ailments, I thought this was something that happened towards the end – whale territory – but for me, it happened very early on too. With the baby weight, you can’t physically bend your tummy muscles. I have now developed a soft roll off the couch, a hand spring from the bed and a giraffe knee bend. All very elegant, but a right pain in the arse.
5) Peer bonding
Some people are hard to talk to. You may have very little in common and it’s difficult to stretch the daily pleasantries beyond a few sentences. BUT – when you are pregnant… stem the tide! Before you know it, a whole ten minutes have passed and you’ve already discussed breast-feeding, ante-natal appointments, maternity leave and do’s and don’ts of finding out baby’s sex. And that’s just with the guys in the office.
6) Backache without the drugs
Some people sail through without so much as a twinge in their back. Others, like myself, develop severe pain and have to learn alternative coping methods that doesn’t involve reaching for the Solpadeine. Oh did you not know that? That you can’t take ANY drugs? Or decongestants? Or generally anything you buy in a pharmacist that isn’t Gaviscon? So far baths have been leading the field in pain relief. Switching to lower heels and sleeping with a wedge pillow also help. But, from what I’ve heard, as your whole posture changes and your spine is pushed forward, combined with hormones that loosen all your ligaments, backache is part and parcel of this wonderful journey.
7) Is that my waters or…. wait a minute!!
Try not to sneeze hard. And if you do have to sneeze hard, don’t stand up. Why? Because pee comes out. Unbelievable. Tena Lady anyone?
8) Feeling the love
Bringing a child into the world isn’t just all about you, you know. There’s extended family involved too. Grandparents and aunties and uncles and in-laws. And they ALL want to know how you are doing, and how well you are cooking their newest relative. It’s a very warm feeling and you will no doubt, feel closer to all of your family due to your new condition. Bonding!
9) Pregnant Princess
Never again will you have to stand. Chairs are produced from behind children’s ears. Walking is a no-no. You will be dropped door to door. And as for the hoovering… well don’t push it; you’ll still have to do that. But forget about carrying anything. Passers by will help lift your handbag, if they feel its weighing you down.
10) Feeling your baby move
I was told it could take many weeks to feel my baby move due to its position and I waited longingly to feel even a twitch. What does it feel like, I asked all mothers I came across. Like a bubble. Like a pop. Flutters. Well, there I was sprawled on the couch one evening, hand on tummy when it happened. A pulse of pop. Like everyone had described. And I felt so happy, I almost cried.