Its been nearly 5 months since Maggie left my tummy and it has to be said I’m really enjoying not being pregnant! People have such mixed experiences of pregnancy but I thought I’d be open and share the low points as well as a small, select list of the few things I kind of miss. I was truly just so thankful to be growing a healthy baby that everything paled in comparison to the joy that brought but it really was quite a challenge. It’s a challenge I wouldn’t change for beautiful Maggie but not the most fun all the same. I know lots of women who loved pregnancy and looked and felt like their best selves but I kind of just felt like a hot mess rather than glowing.
The Things I really don’t miss…
Some people seem to escape this and some people end up projectile vomiting our of their car window on the way to work. I was certainly not that extreme and only actually brought up the contents of my stomach twice but felt like it was imminent throughout the first trimester plus a few weeks extra and it really was all day long (none of this morning malarkey). I have no idea how I would have been able to commute in to a standard 9-5 job. There were definitely many a day working from the comfort of my bed, trying to move as little as possible. It was so bizarre as I was ravenous all of the time and yet had never felt less like eating food. I’ve never been a snack girl but I had to become one quick, sharp because little nibbles of food were the only thing to help the sickness and when I say help, I mean decrease the urgency to throw up by about 20% and only really whilst eating the snack. The only thing I could stomach were crispy, salty chips, cheese and occasionally beetroot juice, very random. The thought of cooked veg or salad made me want to hurl and anything too sweet tipped me over the edge. I had to remove a vanilla candle from my bedroom each time I caught a whiff I was ready to throw up. Even after the initial months I still suffered from low level nausea particularly in the mornings. It seemed like a breeze compared to the first trimester but it really hit me how yucky normality had become once I’d given birth. Suddenly I was like, ‘hold the phone, this is what it’s like to be free from sickness!’
If you follow me on Instagram you’ve probably already heard me moaning about this a treat. This only kicked in near the end of the second trimester, in fact it was right around my 30th birthday…way to feel like a swollen, old pensioner at the turn of a decade! I know having swollen feet and ankles is something lots of other women get but looking around I generally couldn’t see any other pregnant ladies that looked quite as balloon like as me. I was going to insert a horrendous picture but I can’t quite bring myself to allow that on my blog and potentially induce some of the above for all you folk. I wore one pair of sandals for the entire Summer! They had minimal straps and thankfully I’d initially bought them in too bigger size by mistake. I was constantly trying to get my feet up high but it didn’t help all that much and boy did they hurt by the end of a day. I started planning journeys around how far I had to walk and to add aesthetic value to this already delightful condition, all the already yucky burst capillaries on my feet were suddenly 50 times more noticeable creating a bright red, rash-like effect on my trotters. I relished a maxi dress just to cover them up. Within 5 days of delivery I rediscovered not just my slender feet and ankles but my entire legs and no more bright red blotches. Even Nick was shocked at how being preggers had taken over my whole bottom half! I can assure you I took frequent appreciation breaks just to simply admire my slender pins in the first month postpartum.
So I’ve had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in the past and this is the closest I’ve come to feeling anywhere near that since. The first trimester was a very blurry haze and when the tiredness struck I could easily have a 4 hour nap, despite loud building work going on next door and still feel pretty out of it. It was such a struggle to make it to bed time and I could hear Nick sighing from my dreamy state, as I fell asleep in front of another TV programme in the evening. It 100% makes sense that growing a human would be hard work, particularly in those first few months when you body’s casually creating vital organs from scratch. Still, no one prepared me for the earth shattering tiredness or maybe they did and I was thinking ‘you’re a woos and I’m hard core so I’ll be fine’. There was a brief window at the end of my second trimester when I felt much less tired but in general I was heavy eyed for most of the time. This girl who was so used to jumping out of bed at 5.45am each morning, was suddenly struggling to surface before 8am each day. I missed being a morning person and really didn’t relish not being a morning, afternoon or evening person!
SPD & Sciatica…all the ‘s’ words
I had Sciatica pretty early in pregnancy at around 9 weeks which, really shocked me. It made sense to me that you’d get it later on when carrying lots of extra weight (a small human) but I didn’t realise it’s actually a hormonal thing that triggers muscles stretching and loosening in the pelvic area. I’d so often stand up and be paralysed by the shooting pain from my bum down one of my legs. There was a lot of abruptly stopping in the street with people later on asking if I needed help because they obviously thought I was going into labour there and then. Anyway this pain went away for a while in my second trimester and then returned with full force in my third, around 36 weeks when I also experienced my first helping of SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction) which feels a little like your pelvis threatening to break in half each step you take. Suddenly I was very aware of the pressure around my pubic bone and it was this that spurred me on to perfect my cliché pregnancy waddle (along with my marshmallow feet). This made walking really hard, particularly when it struck at the same time as the Sciatica! That meant the front and back of me was crying out in pain at the same time. Walks seemed like such a huge effort and journeys even within my local area seemed like a marathon. Only having weight on one leg was the main cause of pain which is pretty much the constant, interchanging motion of walking. I also noticed that whilst I could still squat like a champ up until due date, doing anything that lifted one leg at a time in pilates was agony, even the simplest of positions. Thankfully the SPD hit very late in the day as my doctor said some women have it from as early as 12 weeks, eek! The swimming pool became my happy place, where I was weightless and slightly less able to feel the inner workings of my pesky hormones. Even now I still feel the subtle, lingering effects of the SPD. My doctor said that it’s totally normal for it to take many months for it to go completely as the hormones haven’t yet returned to normal. Crazy huh?! When I run, usually for a bus (let’s be honest) or walk a long distance I’m very aware that my pelvis is not as it once was.
Return to teenage skin
Now this may well be related to the old wives tale that I was having a girl but my skin totally sucked in pregnancy! I was waiting for that radiant and glowing phase but ended up having to wait until Maggie was well and truly out of my uterus. My skin was sooo oily and constantly breaking out left, right and centre! I suddenly had spots on my forehead which I hadn’t even experienced as a teenager. I felt like a hot mess most of the time, particularly being heavily pregnant in the height of Summer and our crazy heat waves, with concealer sliding off my face. I tried so many different things, so many natural cleansers down to just washing my face with water but alas it was the wee babe inside that was setting my hormones into overdrive. I became really self conscious as there seemed to be something new every day and when all the action is on your face, short from putting a paper bag over your head, it’s pretty hard to hide from the world. My skin started to clear up as soon as she was born and since then I can’t remember a time when my skin has been this good. Of course I realise it’s most likely down to breast feeding but I’ll enjoy it while it lasts!
Peeing in overdrive
I’m going to tell it straight, I wee a lot anyway. ‘Non-pregnant’ me has been known to visit the bathroom frequently and I barely make it through the night without one bathroom stop. So as you can imagine being preggers I essentially lived in the loo. I probably could have just set up camp in there with my laptop and some snacks to see me through. I was shocked at how early this typical pregnancy symptom appeared, not knowing it starts from the first trimester but by the end, with Maggie pressing against my bladder constantly it was crazy. Seven times in the night wasn’t uncommon and when rolling over in bed became hard, it was an epic journey to the bathroom, that in reality is only about five metres away. I sometimes had to go to the loo three times before leaving the house, just to make sure I was set up for the trip ahead, but walking anywhere in itself could have my bladder demanding a loo trip again within a few minutes. I remember a couple of times arriving to teach workshops only to find out the toilet was out of order and it feeling like the world was ending.
Gasping for air
Once again one that I thought would only kick in around the third trimester when baby was bigger and harder to carry but actually getting out of breath was part of life from about eight or nine weeks. Once again it’s those crafty hormones that are oh so clever and yet leave you a mess. I had a little window into what it must be like to be severely unfit as even talking got me out of breath. I felt like I was going to pass out when chatting people through a demo in my workshops as it took so much effort! Nick used to laugh as I found it really hard to kiss him too. Breathing through my nose wasn’t enough to get the air in at the time. It’s so nice to breathe normally now and not take it for granted.
Dressing the maternity bod
Although I felt great as my bump started becoming more obvious and I actually loved my body more in many ways, it is a hard shape to dress. I didn’t have the money to splurge on all maternity gear as the shops know they can charge 30% more for the most basic items just by whacking the word ‘maternity’ on the label. Ok, I know it’s cut differently and all that but I found there was a pathetic amount of choice in most shops. You’d be shown to a teeny corner tucked away at the back of the shop, full of mostly frumpy and uninspiring clothes. And why oh why does everything have that awful ruching that looks like it’s been purchased from a dodgy market or Jane Norman circa 2001. There were so many fun trends last summer that I just couldn’t be a part of, which is fine but also a bit sad. I also discovered that my usual oversized, loose uniform now just made me look fat rather than pregnant, so I started embracing more fitted clothes, usually just bought in stretchy fabrics a size up from my usual. It was so lovely to rediscover a whole section of my wardrobe post birth that had been lying dormant for so long! Now there’s all the faff of finding breastfeeding appropriate gear but thank goodness there’s no more maternity jeans with stretchy waistbands falling down constantly.
Covering up the chest
In the same way my burst capillaries on the old cankles become red and flushed, I suddenly developed an abundance of red spots all over my chest, almost overnight. In fact I genuinely think it was overnight. Nick asked me what my rash was when I woke up one morning and I was like, ‘say whaaat? On closer inspection it appeared to be more like burst blood vessels or something along those lines but from a distance it seriously looked like a disease. I was told it was likely due to so increased blood circulation during pregnancy which seems to make sense. Despite it being Summer I couldn’t be bothered to field the concerned looks and questions about whether whatever I had on my chest was contagious so I just covered it up at all times. I became accustomed to always wearing a T-shirt under my strappy dresses for all those months and started to wonder if this was just the new me. Thankfully I can report the little red spots have left the building, since having Maggie!
People’s two cents
It’s odd because being pregnant seems to make many think they have the right to comment on all manner of things and put the fear into you. Lots of sweet people would start conversations with me, asking how far along I was and was I excited? Those talking points were lovely but when people would comment on my size, either ‘your huge’ or ‘worryingly small’ (yes I had both ends of the spectrum) then you kind of feel like you don’t need to hear that. Some people told me I was eating too much salt in my diet because my ankles were red and swollen and some even told me that it was obvious I was having a girl as I looked so wide around my hips. Of course I had the opposite as well, that I looked so neat and compact so it must be a boy but it really does make you feel a bit like public property. That’s without even mentioning all the scare mongering. I’d say I felt so tired and people would say, ‘you just wait until you have her and you’ll never sleep again!’ Or I’d post a photo of a styled corner of my home and the response would be, ‘make the most of it now because as soon as the baby comes your whole home will be a total state and everything will get broken’. I’m not sure why this kind of chat is acceptable, particularly for first time Mums. Maybe people feel it’s their duty to warn you but I’m far from an idealist and certainly hadn’t gone into having a baby thinking it would be a breeze. If anything I was amped up for it to be much harder than it has been but either way I don’t think it’s constructive to have Mum’s feeling anxious during pregnancy with stuff that’s out of their control or robbing them of the right to find their current issues tricky to navigate.
The things I do miss..
Butterflies & kicks
Whilst having her painfully jab my bladder in those end months, I generally loved feeling her movements throughout the day. From the tiny flutters at the beginning to the almighty, whole body turns further along, it was so sweet to be reminded she was there. she was a very active baby, which may have been because I was very active, who knows. It was lovely to have that closeness and whilst Nick got to feel some of the outward kicks and hiccups, I found it a privilege to get to feel all of them inside. So bizarre but totally amazing.
There definitely were some very rude and unhelpful people I encountered but generally I was amazed at how sweet people were with taking care of me and giving up seats on public transport. Even the more elderly, when they probably needed more care and attention than me. I sometimes see glimpses of that now, with a helping hand for the buggy but in general I feel like people tend to just be impatient with mums and buggies, as if they’re the enemy.
So many people talk about eating like a crazy person in pregnancy but aside from feeling more hungry in the first trimester (more hungry and yet less inclined to eat) I found that the rest of the time I was possibly less hungry than usual. I had three substantial meals a day but I never felt like snacking much and kind of forgot about food in between, sometimes even forgetting to eat lunch. I certainly wasn’t having breakdowns when realising I forgot to pack my cashews like these days because now I’m breast feeding, I’m essentially a bottomless pit. Sometimes I feel like I physically can’t get enough food in me but then again I’d say I err on the side of overproducing milk so maybe that’s why. I miss not having to spend quite as much on feeding my insatiable appetite and sometimes I’m left thinking, ‘I literally can’t be bothered to eat again but my tummy is rumbling like an earthquake!’ But hey, all in the name of growing little Maggie and boy has she grown!
The exciting unknown
To be fair it’s just as exciting to get to know your baby out of the womb but there’s something really special about waiting for this little human to crash into your life. I loved feeling her movements and trying to gage what her personality was like and what would she’d even look like. She was always hiding from the heartbeat monitor at check ups and the doctors would call her cheeky, which left me wondering would she be a cheeky little one? It reminded me she’d have her very own little personality. Would she take after Nick more or some other member of our family entirely? Turns out she looks like a mini Nick and we are yet to distinguish who’s personality and strengths she has taken after. I just remember so many precious conversations between us, talking through the ‘will she be like this’ and ‘will she be feisty, a good sleeper, a quick learner? Will she be fair in her colouring or tall like us? It’s all so exciting in the build up to meeting your baby. Oh yes, there’s a sprinkling of anxiety in there for sure but mainly eager excitement.