Warning – pregnancy post that includes bodily function detail!
I was 35 when we got married. Many people believed that I would never find “the right man” for me (including me) and to be honest, I needed to find _me_ first. Mr PinQ was very much the same in that his first marriage wasn’t the right relationship to bring a child into and it is only after that marriage ended that he became himself. We met at the right time for both of us, despite our paths having crossed many times over the years.
When we got married, we said that we would let nature take its course but between our working hours and stress, I said that it wouldn’t happen and until my redundancy last year, it didn’t.
We’ve waited a long time to have a baby.
Maybe that sentence will make this post seem selfish and ungrateful. Maybe I should feel guilty about what I am about to write but I don’t. I am writing it because I didn’t know that pregnancy could be like this and if I had known, I might have been able to prepare myself mentally. You see, even a relatively easy pregnancy can be a horrible experience and I’m going to tell you the truth.
I know women that have had Hyperemesis, that have been hospitalised several times through pregnancy for various reasons, I’ve seen how tired they get and some have had the most dreadful experiences but they don’t really talk about it. I don’t want to be a bore and only talk about my pregnancy to people and there are some details that you really shouldn’t divulge in polite society (some listed below – you were warned) but bollox to that, the reality of pregnancy isn’t all sunshine and roses!
I am over the moon about my baby-girl and can’t wait to meet her and I am willing to go through it all again in a couple of years; but for those of you that have only seen/heard of the lovely glowing pregnancies or absolute horror stories that are, thankfully, rare, here’s a little taste of a quite “normal” pregnancy.
At about week 3, oblivious to the fact that I was pregnant, I was feeling nauseous and extremely fatigued. My boobs were really swollen and tender but I put it down to the fact that I was “due on” – never mind the fact that they never got THAT swollen and tender!
By week 5, I realised that I must be pregnant and went to the pharmacy to buy a home test which of course, was positive. Around about that time, the nausea had progressed to being violently sick 4+ times a day, regardless of what I ate or drank. I thought: “Oh well, that’ll be the morning sickness.” It was several weeks before I discovered that morning sickness is generally feeling nauseous and MAYBE being sick once or twice a day – by the time I found that out, I was being violently sick about 8 times a day, had no energy and had the most horrendous dehydration headaches. That level of sickness is Hyperemesis Gradivarium, NOT morning sickness and if you live in the right area, you will be admitted to hospital like Princess Kate and put on a drip to get your fluid levels up and won’t have to do battle to get anti-sickness medication. Don’t let them brush you off.
I had to fight for anti-sickness medication. It turns out that my next door neighbour (who has just given birth to a gorgeous little boy – her second child) had the same thing and she used to be a doctor so we must live in the wrong postcode. The response I kept getting at the GP surgery was: “Aww bless, well, that’s morning sickness for you. We don’t deal with you now until after the baby is born, fill in the form to register with the midwife.” I did, and after pushing the midwife over the phone, the Practice Nurse called to say that she had issued a prescription for my sickness.
At about week 10, we saw the midwife for the first time and explained that the tablets worked for about a week. She asked if I could still wee. My reply was honest: “Yes, once or twice a day and it’s like passing a tablespoon full of golden syrup because I can’t even hold fluids down.” Her response? Oh that was brilliant… “Oh good, your kidneys are still functioning then.”
Somewhere around that time, I learned what it was like to choke on your own vomit. It was really, really frightening. The sheer speed and frequency of the vomiting meant that I couldn’t breathe and my body just tried to take in a breath. Unusually, Mr PinQ had already gone up to bed just a few minutes before and I was on the floor in the bathroom, kicking and choking. On the fourth round of violent coughing, my airway cleared and I just curled up, tears pouring down my face.
At about 21 weeks, I started to feel baby moving. I didn’t have a belly at all until week 20 and she just popped into existence almost overnight! It was amazing.
I had to laugh when, at about 24 weeks, I stopped being able to put my socks on and tie my shoelaces normally. It’s just not something that had occurred to me but my belly is in the way! Most of the time now, you will find me in my Fit-Flops (slightly chewed by a puppy that we babysit) or my tatty old velcro-fastening Hotter flats because they are so much easier to get on.
A couple of weeks ago, the sickness started to settle down to only once or twice a day for most of the time. I have had a couple of days where I haven’t been sick at all! I also have a couple of days every week where I am sick all day. The ability to retain some food and drink has had consequences. Of course there’s the pregnancy thing of needing to wee more, and it’s not just because your bladder (along with the rest of your insides) is all squished up, sometimes, it is because baby is actually standing on it! You know how it feels when you need to pee so badly that it hurts? Multiply that by 1000. I am also alternating between being constipated for several days and then days when I really have to run for the loo. Joy.
Occasionally, I crave junk food. I suspect that is because it is high fat and high sugar and my body is desperately in need of the extra calories. However, the constant sickness has given me an insight that I didn’t really need but here’s the truth of it. We cook everything from scratch and when I am sick, unless there’s nothing there so all I can taste is bile, what comes up tastes basically the same as it did when it went down. When I have given in to a junk food craving and been sick, there is an awful chemical taste as it comes back that then lingers for most of the day and night. If I needed a reason not to eat processed (plastic) food, that would do it, trust me.
For a long time now, I have struggled to get a good night’s sleep, I usually wake up between 04:00 and 05:00 and eventually give in and get out of bed. I am absolutely exhausted. I sometimes try to nap during the day but usually end up getting about an hour and it just doesn’t make up for the missing sleep.
In the last few weeks, I’ve noticed that when I wake up, my hips really hurt. I am lying on one side or the other now because I can’t sleep on my front anymore and it’s not really safe to sleep on your back at this stage because the womb presses on the vein that returns the blood from your lower body to your heart. According to my favourite source of good, solid information, The Baby Centre, you should, ideally, be sleeping on the left side but as many of you know, my left hip is the busted one so I can only cope with that for short spells.
This week, my little Twinkle went from kicking and waving to turning into a proper little alien. Watching and feeling that level of movement in your belly is totally freaky. Daddy doesn’t know what it feels like but even he will feel a bit sick when he sees it!
I have had to take a day of sickness absence from work this week due to exhaustion. It’s the first that I have taken so I’ve done really well. They did send me home one evening because of sickness but even so, many people suffer much more in pregnancy. I’ve been able to work around my sickness and fatigue the majority of the time because I only work 11 hours a week now and I’ve just had to switch off the rest of “normal” life but it has meant that I can cope. If I was still working full-time, I wouldn’t have.
Mr PinQ has been the main factor that has saved me from utter collapse. We always shared the household chores but because I haven’t been sailing through pregnancy, he is doing almost everything on top of working full time and he looks so tired. My poor, beautiful, darling boy. I do little jobs to try to make sure that he gets a bit of a rest but I can’t physically do much so he ends up having to do most of it. For someone that has always worked hard and been really active, I am struggling a bit with my inability to do stuff!
No-one tells you how it feels when your womb stretches as baby grows. It’s like having really bad period pains but so, so much worse.
Yesterday was week 29 and “staff day”. We went to a forest for the day and after the walk and guided tour by the Forestry Commission’s Visitor Centre Manager, headed back for barbecue. Two of the party had sloped off 30 – 45 minutes previously to light them but when we arrived, were still struggling. It was embarrassing. Charcoal in first, then firelighters, then cardboard on top – it was no wonder they wouldn’t light. I realised that if they were struggling with lighting the barbecue, the food could be something of an issue so, a dab hand at barbecuing, I took over – What? Really? No! I can hear you all…
I only got tetchy when a couple of people decided to come and “help” by sticking meat thermometers into the food and had to ask me what temperature it should be. If you don’t fecking know, FECK OFF and leave me to it because I _do_ know what I am doing!
On the way back, I wondered out loud about how soon the sickness would stop when the hormones settle down after giving birth and my lovely manager was telling me about the scary leaflet that her midwife has just given her. She is 34 weeks so I expect I’ll get one soon. It tells you all about labour and childbirth, including that most of the time, mum poos herself as she gives birth. That makes sense, all that pushing – especially after all that constipation! There’s also a high probability that mum will throw up during the birth – I gather that’s a stress thing. Great.
We got back to the Youth Centre at 17:00 and it took me 1 hour 45 minutes to get home, just because it was rush hour. Hours on my feet and a stressful journey home – not helped by the youngster in the Corsa that did an emergency stop in front of me to allow a car to pull out of a side road despite there being NO traffic behind me didn’t help my mood – left me in pretty bad shape. I didn’t even manage to say hello to Mr PinQ when I came in but did, thankfully, make it to the bathroom in time to throw up.
I was absolutely shattered and after a light dinner, snuggled up in bed and was asleep in seconds.
Then I was woken up in the small hours by the most godawful pain in my right calf and ankle. My foot was twisted up and to the right. I got out of bed and worked through the pain to flex and stretch my foot, massaging the muscle that was cramping. I got back into bed thinking that I had it beaten and my foot flipped back up and right and the pain was so intense that I woke Mr PinQ. I lay there sobbing. I felt like I just couldn’t take any more pain.
Dearest friends, please don’t say, “I hope you get better soon” or similar. I know that you say it because you love me and you are trying to offer me some comfort but I’m not actually ill, I’m pregnant, so the physical turmoil that my body is going through will be over in just under 11 weeks.
Interestingly, none of the above cr*p that is happening to my body matters one jot. When my little Twinkle is having a shuffle around, when I stroke or hold her through my belly and when the kitten gently pats her with her paws or the puppy licks my belly because they have felt her move; I forget all of it. There’s a tiny little human in there and I will get to meet her soon. If she’s early, she’s mine; if she’s late, she’s Mr PinQ’s but either way, she’s ours and is worth every second of the months of yuckiness and pain.