For me, the idea of having children was rather an abstract one. I knew at some point I would probably like to have a child of my own, someone to pass the Disney and Harry Potter obsession onto or to take care of my husband, D, and in our old age, but I was in no rush to get there. I was the person who, if a baby looked at me as we waited next to each other in the doctor’s surgery, would stare back awkwardly for a moment, before quickly looking anywhere else until I was called in, hoping eventually someone else would catch its interest. Prior to Alice, I had no experience with babies and no interest in gaining any. Then, in June 2016, after being married for three months, the biological clock seemed to go into overdrive and all I could think about was getting pregnant – as my mind screamed ‘but we don’t like children!’, my heart and body seemed to have zeroed in on anyone in the near vicinity who was pregnant or with a baby and force it to the forefront of my brain.
By August, it had happened. I was with child and I took about five or six tests to confirm it (looking back, I should have taken shares out in Boots pregnancy tests/Clearblue) because, y’know, one is just never enough. The morning sickness hit hard, although I managed to escape it without actually being sick, I was nauseous constantly and only managed to function by rubbing mint lip balm under my nose and eating packets of polos by the day. Rather than enjoy bizarre cravings (unless you can count McDonalds and junk food, which I could have happily eaten for every meal of the day), I had a mass of food aversions. Out when my beloved southern fried chicken tenders from M&S and my turkey sausages; stir fry was banished from the house and I could no longer stand the sight or smell of raw chicken or mince being cooked. My heart cracked as I began to dislike cheese, but thankfully my love for it was reignited in the third trimester, and I longed for cured meats and brie.
Mood swings, hip and pelvic pain, exhaustion, general uncomfortable-ness and a constant of frustration of not being able to fit into clothes, made me joyous company for those 9.5 months. The old faithful husband bore the brunt of it – I would be sobbing one moment over an Andrex advert, telling him how much I loved him and biting his head off in the next, for coughing too loudly in my general vicinity. I imagine it was like living with an overgrown toddler, who would refuse to eat any kind of vegetable and threw temper tantrums at the drop of a hat, whilst becoming incredibly clingy. My entire body had been taken over by hormones, and at times it felt like an out of body experience as I went from pure joy to pure rage in a matter of seconds.
Yet he wasn’t the only one that Hurricane Stephie swept up on its hormonal path, there were multiple occasions at work where I broke down sobbing in front of my manager (oh the shame of it all!) and when asked what was wrong, I simply couldn’t pinpoint it – I just felt awful and needed to sob. There is nothing quite as awkward as having your male manager try and soothe you as you babble incoherently about back pain and how much you hate hormones or the fact you can’t remember what you did yesterday because of baby brain. My family and best friends as well often had phone calls at all hours of the day where I would be crying or ranting after being tipped over the edge by listening to an emotional song on Spotify or when I felt the husband had crossed me. Overall, the hormones sucked. For the best part of a year, I was an emotional wreck.
Then the third trimester hit – like a train. Unluckily, I became ill and had to spend a month of it on bedrest to try and build myself up ready for labour. Bed rest would be great (think of all the Netflix boxsets you could get through!) if it wasn’t for not being able to lie on your back, or comfortably on either of your sides due to your baby lying on a nerve that caused constant hip pain and needing the bathroom every 5 minutes as my bladder had decided it had the capacity of a pea. I was huge, developed a waddle, gained swollen ankles and feet, and often needed help getting out of a chair or being rolled onto my side, like a beached whale, to get out of bed. The moment it hit my due date I was bouncing up and down on my exercise ball, eating a carton of pineapple whilst practising my hypnobirthing breathing in a desperate attempt to shift this baby out. I credit my baby’s love of bouncing now to the fact that I bounced around my living room as if I were training for the olympics in ball bouncing during the last month or so of pregnancy.
At 41 weeks, I went into labour and I was not sad to say goodbye to pregnancy. Yes, there were plenty of magical moments – feeling my little girl move about inside me, kicking to certain Disney songs, or kicking when she was read a story by her daddy each night were just some. I loved having a Baby on Board badge that meant, for the most part, I got a seat on my commute or at least allowed me to throw judgmental looks at those who didn’t offer me one. There was a lot of excitement and nesting that went on in preparation for her arrival, and in hindsight, the stomach nicely contained her ability to scream at the top of her lungs for an impressive length of time. But my god, was I pleased when I got my body back at the end of it and didn’t need to go to the bathroom 50,000 times a night or could go back to sleeping on my back or front. Alas, pregnancy brain has remained and I still can’t remember what I have done with half the things I tidied away during my nesting phase, but actually being able to walk at a pace quicker than that of a rather large snail whilst eating pate by the bucket load, is heavenly.
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