It’s a contemplative one for me today. Here I sit ( still on my blogging break, shhh) on a brink, at a junction, about to pass through a door – I can’t think of the right metaphor. I’m in a middle space looking forward and reflecting back, waiting for the new life that’s inside me to take up residence in the outside world.
Having a baby with a cold is not much fun at all…and it turns out that having a cold with a baby isn’t much fun either, and by ‘with’ I mean ‘pregnant with’…
I didn’t have so much as a sniffle during my first pregnancy…three years later, older, more tired and with a toddler in tow means I am on my second cold now already and I’ve still got four months to go. So what would any sensible person do? Moan? Yes. Try anything? Well, yes. But I’m also going to take my blogging self off to the fabulous Dr Mummykins for a consultation. Not only a medical professional but been there/ had that, so she can debunk the remedy myths and offer some sound advice…
I think it’s fair to say I wasn’t the happiest I’ve ever been in the early weeks and months of this pregnancy. The sickness, tiredness and general feeling of illness coupled with the normal first trimester anxiety and hormonal maelstrom was not the best mix. The sickness lingered but did finally bid me farewell at around 18 weeks…a little later than I had hoped, much earlier than some people experience.
My last post on this theme covered mostly the lows of that time with only a few chinks of light by way of highs. Writing it was a purge and now it’s time for a celebration. What a difference a month or so makes! If you’re reading this in the miserable throes of early pregnancy, take heart…it may get a huge amount better for you soon. Continue reading
I can’t sing. I love singing and so I sing a lot, but I’m not good at it. I also love talking, wittering really – mostly to my husband and son so it’s contained, don’t worry. By the time my unborn child is born they will have become extremely well acquainted with my voice…and the voice of their, now two and half year old, brother.
Is that it? I hear you ask. Is that the poor child’s gift? Well fortunately no. And now you may need to brace yourselves…I think I may, possibly, perhaps be about to veer into lifestyle territory…
I’ve written before about unhelpful things people shouldn’t say to parents and now I’m moving on to the pre-stage. We all know pregnant people and so, in the manner of a public service information fact sheet, I thought I’d share with you a few little phrases (and the responses they may elicit if the person you’re talking to is unfiltered, grumpy and sarcastic) that you might like to avoid if faced with a ginormous, sallow-faced hulk of woman, ie. a pregnant woman who is clearly not blooming. Or, perhaps more accurately, a woman who already has young children who is now pregnant. Me.
I don’t know how to start this post, I think I should probably start with a disclaimer and a plea.
Disclaimer: This in many ways a selfish post, I know that. I know there are people feeling dark things and going through horrible things, I am not one of those people. I am incredibly lucky to be pregnant. I wouldn’t want to wish it away and I know there are thousands of people who would give anything to be in my position. I am already a little bit in love with my next child, I hope with all my heart to meet them in September and I wish nothing but goodness, health and light for them…I think it’s fair to say that this post isn’t about them as a reality just them as a concept.
Plea: I’m not looking for judgement, I’m looking for advice – am I normal, is this normal? Will everything sort itself out!?
Right so no pressure my wise readers! And please bear all that in mind as I embark on what could be a confusing medley of hormonal emotions, we’ll see…
This probably won’t be the cheeriest post you’ve read today, but for some people pregnancy isn’t all that cheerful. It’s ‘supposed’ to be, which I think can be unhelpful, unsupportive and dismissive of people’s very real physical ailments. One of my least favourite phrases is ‘you’re not ill, you’re pregnant’. Ok, that can be true but pregnancy can make you very ill indeed with complications and conditions that make my experience look like a walk in the park. To deny that fact is belittling to all pregnant women.
I have now experienced two first trimesters and they have both been unmitigatedly awful. The first was perhaps the worst of the two, but to be honest the jury’s out. The first was defined by constant, all-day, unrelenting nausea and frightening patches where I couldn’t stop being sick. It puttered along with anti-sickness medication and bed rest and was wholly miserable.
The second I am just emerging from. I think my body and I had an exchange (that I wasn’t party to): less actual sickness (although more than enough) in exchange for more nausea, more aches, shortness of breath, crippling exhaustion and a daily flu-like feeling that rendered me useless from mid-afternoon.
In a bid to purge myself of the memories of all these things and also in an attempt to add one more voice to those that are saying ‘you may have chosen this, but you don’t have to enjoy it’, I have decided to reflect on the lows and (almost) highs of this period. I am talking to myself in this post but perhaps I’m talking to you too, I really hope not for your sake but if I am, hello, I’m sorry – but at least you’re not alone!
Coo-eee my blogging break is over and I’m back! Lincolnshire was lovely and I’m sure you’ll be delighted to know that my husband isn’t having too shabby a time in Barbados.
I thought today would be an opportune moment to share with you a piece that (with slight variations) first appeared as a guest post as part of Motherhood: The Real Deal’s #beingamother project. It’s a wonderful project with so many different perspectives included, do take a look at all the contributions here.
But why today? Well this morning I got the first sight of my next child…the image was black and white and a bit grainy but good solid visual confirmation that the last two and a bit months of sickness and struggle have been associated with a baby and not some sort of plague.
Saturday night…my husband and I were making a list of things we’d like to try doing in the next few years and I floated the thought I had about running a marathon. His initial reaction was unsurprising being the most unathletically motivated sportsperson I know… ‘Why on earth do you want to do that?’. My feeble and not altogether unshakeable response of ‘it will be fun! And a challenge’ was met with the immortal words: ‘you’ve been through labour, why do you need to run a marathon?’.
Oooo, interesting! And far from putting me off the idea, it instead got me thinking about my ‘marathon’ labour. I totally could run a marathon in a few years…couldn’t I? I mean in many ways it’s not that dissimilar to giving birth…is it?
I trained for my birth…I walked a lot, I joined pregnancy yoga, I swam every other day. Ok I floated on noodles more than swimming laps, but those nine months were the one and only time I’ve ever had a gym membership. I was a regular…I knew the receptionists by name.
Then came the training for the mind! Positive visualisation is all the rage in sports psychology and pretty useful for birth psychology too. I was an anxious wreck about the thought of giving birth. What worked for me was to conquer that anxiety by not only acquiring as much useful and evidence based knowledge as I could, but also through mental exercises. I dabbled in hyonobirthing and we also took ourselves through a self guided mindful birthing course, including doing the amazingly useful ice cube pain practices. It was an incredible course and had a hugely positive impact on my birth preparation. Furthermore we had to be committed and focused and have a plentiful supply of ice cubes in the freezer.
I hired a personal (birth) trainer. Well I believe the common term is Midwife but whatever, Sharon was motivational, knowledgeable, committed and with me from beginning to end. Ok I’m highly unlikely to hire a personal trainer at any point in my life to run a marathon or otherwise BUT engaging an Independent Midwife was, for us, one of our best life decisions.
I laboured at home for almost 26 hours. A marathon is just over 26 miles is it not? A tenuous link admittedly but it shows I’ve got stamina (clocking 35 hours by the end). Ooo I wonder if the race people would let me have a big hot bath halfway round?
I consumed a lot of lucozade tablets and hydration drinks. Having had a funny turn (read panic attack) a couple of days earlier, I hadn’t eaten a great deal in the run up and was labouring without a lot of energy in me so needed all the help I could get. I’m a dab hand at unwrapping a lucozade tablet while pounding the streets. Oh no wait, while bent double holding onto the back of the sofa…
There was a crowd at the finish line. I was peacefully labouring away at home happily having my planned home birth with my running partners, husband and Sharon, then my son got completely and utterly lost (really darling, surely there’s only the one way out…sigh). He went right not left and in doing so got us sent to the local hospital and himself welcomed into the world by his father, Sharon, her partner midwife who had come to give her a break, two hospital midwives, a neonatal nurse, an anaesthetist, and a doctor. All in all a very upbeat group cheering me along like I really was crossing a finish line.
So there you have it, my own personal marathon. Of course I’m under no illusions that giving birth and running an actual marathon are similar, I mean for starters at my birth not one person even looked like offering me a medal or a foil blanket at the end. I think what giving birth has given me though is a confidence and a fierce pride of just what my body is capable of. After-all not only did it grow a whole human being, it also expelled it with some substantial physical exertion and then had the resources to sustain said human being for a good few months.
So I may not be marathon ready right now (as next chocolate biscuit is lined up to meet its end) but I’m certainly more confident than I was two years ago that I could be. And more than that, I finally feel not only deeply proud but really rather fond of this little body of mine.
I do know I’m one of the lucky ones to feel like this, although it wasn’t instantaneous. The facts about my birth could have resulted in a difficult and negative experience. I strongly believe that choices I made before, during and after birth gave me control of my experience and, clarity about my feelings and the conclusion that, while it wasn’t what I imagined, it was incredibly positive, life-changing and happy.
Part II of my birth thoughts will offer some suggestions to help others with this. It would be lovely to hear from other mothers out there. Do you feel more or less confident about your beautiful (trust me) body since giving birth?