In the year of 2020, all of our contact with family and friends was limited, which meant that physical support for any life experience was sparse. That made it a funny old year to find out that my husband and I were expecting our first baby.
I will never forget seeing the word ‘PREGNANT’ staring back at me when I half-heartedly took a test to rule out the possibility. I almost dropped it as my heart skipped a beat. It would be an understatement to say that I felt overwhelmed. I couldn’t control the crying that followed. There were a few emotions colliding at once but I can admit that the strongest was primarily fear.
Luckily my husband was there for me, but the news was just as much of a shock for him! From that very day, I found myself reading blog posts and online articles, and eventually signing up to a host of virtual antenatal classes. The internet actually helped us both to come to terms with what changes we were about to experience together. Because we weren’t surrounded by our loved ones and therefore unable to bombard them with the many bubbling questions that we had, the online accounts of other parents guided and reassured us when we needed it most. I have now decided to share my own story of my first pregnancy, in order to return the favour to anyone else that might find themselves where I was, looking for information, support and encouragement.
I was eight weeks pregnant when I found out that I was expecting, so I was already two thirds of the way through that initial trimester. Symptom wise, I was suffering with nausea and fatigue, as well as food and drink aversions. No matter how much I slept, I felt tired. In terms of food, most things tasted different and I completely went off some of my favourite flavours! Prior to falling pregnant, I had porridge every day for my breakfast, and Pepsi Max was my daily treat. I gradually grew to hate both things. I couldn’t bare the texture of the porridge, and the pop had a metallic flavour that made me feel so sick! Annoyingly, I was extremely hungry all of the time, and craving all of the unhealthy foods like pizza, cheese and chocolate. Fruit and vegetables made me feel queasy. My appetite has never been as big as it was then, and that actually continued throughout my pregnancy. Luckily, at the end of this first little chapter, I felt far more energetic, and my taste aversions were still there, but not as prominent.
As I approached my second trimester, I felt absolutely amazing, and thankfully that too continued. The only symptom I carried through from my first trimester was my enormous appetite, and although I did start to suffer the odd nosebleed, I felt incredible otherwise. Emotionally, I felt confident, content, grateful, in love and genuinely happy. Physically, I felt so healthy, and I finally understood the term ‘blooming’. My hair and nails were growing thick and strong, and my skin was so clear. I felt bright eyed and bushy tailed – even first thing in a morning! If I could have bottled how good I felt for those few months, I would be taking sneaky sips of it for the rest of my life.
When I reached my third trimester, I was truly shocked by how quickly time had passed, and the nerves started to set in. Luckily though, it was coupled with the most intense excitement to meet our little boy. It felt so much more real given that we knew his gender, we had seen his little face in 4D, and we were quite sure that we had chosen his name. Physically, day-to-day life was a struggle, but only near the end of the journey. My bump ached as it grew, my back ached as my weight increased, and I had trouble walking. In fact, it was more of a waddle that I had developed! The tiredness returned, I needed a wee every half an hour (which drove me mad during the night!) and I also suffered pelvic girdle pain. In the last couple of weeks, I felt huge, and wasn’t shocked to learn that I had gained 5 stone in total. I was only comfortable when I was lying down on my side with my pregnancy pillow propping me up. It wasn’t ideal, but I didn’t have to go to work, so it wasn’t much of an issue for me. I had a lot of ‘sofa’ days and bubble baths while I waited for the time to pass. Thankfully, it wasn’t long at all before our little boy arrived, and every single negative symptom completely vanished the second that he did. Of course there were expected aches and pains during the recovery period, but I felt like “me” far quicker than I expected to.
Having spent the majority of my adult life terrified of falling pregnant, when I did, it turned out to be an experience that I truly loved. I was amazed by every aspect of it, even the challenging parts. There are a lot of negative outcomes that we associate with being pregnant, as a result of what we hear, but I want to highlight some of the great changes that pregnancy brought to me personally. I developed this love and respect for my body for the first time in my life, and it has stayed with me for the first 7 months of my baby’s life. Long may that continue! Another positive change has been the way that I dream when I’m asleep. Firstly, I seem to dream more (either that, or I simply remember more). Secondly, the dreams themselves are extremely vivid. They became much clearer while I was pregnant, and to my surprise, they still are. I often dream about my Nanna. Her image is crystal clear, the events are always realistic and I’ve seen it as a blessing that has helped me so much with my grief.
I know that all pregnancies are different, but I think the key to getting through your own is to try as hard as you can to think positive, even when it’s very difficult to. Rest, talk, ask for help when you need it, drown out the negative stories, focus on the positive ones, and repeat them. You can do it, and you will!