So I’m pregnant.
Yeah, was a shock to me too.
After a year without protection, I had resigned myself to the camp of would-be parents who invest in ovulation kits and where potential mums take their temperature every morning and lie with their legs in the air after sex. After months of impatience, I was actually fine to wait a bit longer and made a secret promise to get more serious about the whole business once we’d moved into our new flat and had a chance to redecorate and get used to a life of drinking indoors because apparently mortgages preclude a social life.
I found out while I was visiting Big Sister in Wales during a rather wet Saturday (I’m not sure there are any other kind in Swansea…..). I’d brought a test that morning during my routine stomp to the shops for Coca Cola after a night of drinking the evening before (I didn’t know, ok?!) and thought I might as well get one seeing as my period has never been late before. The result was, obviously, a shock and I told Big Sister when we were sheltering under a tree while walking Ringo the dog.
So here I am, nearly 20 weeks’ pregnant and feeling like absolute shit. Oh yes, because that’s what ‘they’ don’t tell you: nausea, tiredness, wretchedness and extreme sense of smell* are all delights of pregnancy, particularly in the early stages. I don’t remember Cameron Diaz experiencing an inability to go into her hallway due to the overwhelming stench of wood in What to Expect When You’re Expecting.
Just like weddings, relationships in general, female friendships, sex, and women’s body image, the collective media have sought to produce an ideal of what it is like for a woman to be pregnant. We all know that when we get huge, we’re supposed to be grumpy and have difficulty getting up from low chairs. We all know that at the beginning we’re supposed to be sick, but in a slightly comedic fashion because, y’know, we are women after all and not really supposed to throw-up at all. Finally, we’re supposed to blossom and glow and become radiant skinny versions of our normal selves just with a little bowling ball belly attached.
If the last 16 weeks have taught me anything then it’s that the perception is complete crap. Ok, let me re-phrase: it’s complete crap for me. Because that’s the other thing that is conveniently not mentioned: every woman’s pregnancy will be different from every other. Some ladies will vomit, some won’t; some will go straight into the blossom-y phase, some won’t. You just don’t know until it happens to you and that’s really kind of scary.
So the things I’ve learned in the weeks since my surprise are these:
- I don’t actually feel pregnant. I don’t have a pregnancy-attributable bump yet (I could pass for having just consumed a large meal… and probably have done as well) and it kind of feels like I’m just ill. Which sucks.
- I miss alcohol. When we moved into our new flat, the first property we’ve ever brought, I couldn’t celebrate with an ice cold beer (*drool*) or even a little glass of fizz. Which sucks.
- Getting a cold is awful as you can’t take any cold ‘n’ flu tablets or painkillers other than paracetamol. The baby suppresses the immune system as well so the cold I got at the beginning of August is still lingering. Which sucks.
- It’s scary to tell people. I’ve shared the news with more people now I’m past three months but Tommy’s, the charity that funds research into miscarriage, premature birth and stillbirth, estimate that 20% of all pregnancies will miscarriage, and that 85% of those miscarriages will happen within the first 12 weeks. The feeling that just as you tell the world something awful will happen makes me a little reticent to share, and completely paranoid that I’ll wake up one day it will all have been some beautiful, terrifying, weirdly awful dream. Which really and truly sucks.
It’s a learning curve this old pregnancy game and I have everything crossed that, despite how scared I actually am and how unwell I truly feel, everything will be ok. But the one thing I really wanted to say was simply this: for any pregnant women out there, just do your best. You can’t help how you feel but you can help what you do about it. I don’t feel pregnant but I know I am and I will do everything I need to do to the best of my ability. But I will still want beer and eat chips when I know I should be craving a wheatgrass smoothie and eating kale. If you want to judge, then you’re in the wrong place. This is urban pregnancy bitches!
Now, pass me a can of alcohol-free Bavaria and let’s see how long I can sit upright before needing a lie down. Rock. And. ROLL.
Tommy’s funds research into miscarriage, premature birth and still birth, but is also a source of information for parents-to-be. Check out their website at www.tommys.org. They also offer PregnancyLine where pregnant women, their partners and their families can get advice on healthy pregnancy choices and also seek counselling for those who have suffered a pregnancy loss. The line is manned by qualified midwives. If you need help or advice, call them on 0800 0147 800.
*I cannot even BEGIN to explain how awful this has been for me. The smell of treated wood, trees and plants make me want to hurl and I have had to change bars of soap because the scent has contaminated the entire room. I’m not sure that I wouldn’t take actual vomiting over this. Be warned.