I discovered I was pregnant when I was only about 4 weeks gone, after my period was about 4 days late, and after I’d spent a hungover car journey home from Leeds feeling a little bit worse than I normally would. It was just before I headed to Lisbon for a long-overdue, long weekend with my girlfriends (tchau vinho). As they are my closest friends I told them straight away but kept everyone else, aside from our parents and my boss in the dark until after that first scan.
The first trimester was a busy one. Before the Lisbon trip we’d been to a wedding in Scotland although I hadn’t known at that point, so there was haggis, copious wine and some very unsuccessful ceilidh dancing. After that we’d gone to Jerez in Spain (salami and sherry central) , and I had to negotiate two hen parties and a wedding sans booze before I could finally tell people. I told my work colleagues I was doing Dry October, which got me through the worst of it.
In those first few weeks, I felt quite nauseous but thankfully was never actually sick. I had a sudden aversion to most healthy foods and craved carbs, principally salt and vinegar crisps, which I’d buy for the train journey home every day. One day I went to make myself a salad to take to work for lunch, and the thought of beetroot made me feel so ill, I just didn’t bother making a salad at all – it didn’t even cross my mind that I could have just made one without beetroot in, by that point my stomach had turned and I wanted only plain carbs. I’ve only just managed to eat beetroot again a couple of weeks ago. Luckily D was on hand to made dinner most nights, while I crawled into bed and felt sorry for myself.
The first scan was nerve-wracking as hell, so convinced was I that something had gone wrong so it was a huge relief to see the blurry little thing flip around all over the screen. II was nervous for the second scan at 20 weeks too, so relieved once more to hear the words like ‘normal’ and ‘heartbeat’.
At about week 13, just like the books say is common for many women, the nausea stopped and really, my second trimester was a breeze. Textbook. I’ve had some mood swings, but many symptoms I’ve read about have been mild. It hasn’t been until recently that I’ve started to feel overwhelmingly tired, and so very ready to finish work. I’ve also had swollen feet and hands – I am getting carpal tunnel syndrome from simple activities, like typing and stirring. My novice knitting project is going very slowly indeed.I am incredibly grateful of the easy ride I’ve had so far -I know people who’d been sick throughout their pregnancy, or suffered sciatica. For me, so far so good (touching wood so hard right now).
I have a couple of small glasses of wine at the weekends – Emily Oster’s Expecting Better helped me reconcile myself with that one. Frankly, I only bought the book so that I could read that section. I have one coffee a day then switch to decaf. Oster, an economist uses facts and statistics to break down the myths about pregnancy and the do’s and don’ts – of which there are many, and uses this to empower women to make their own minds up. I’ve read the section on caffeine where Oster confirms that actually, caffeine isn’t harmful. I haven’t managed to reconcile the same logic to the caffeine as I have to the alcohol, clearly I am not as dedicated to the coffee-drinking cause as I am to the wine.
I am also still avoiding the foods that you are advised to, like rare meat, certain cheeses, sushi (although I do wonder how Japanese and French women tackle this- chances are they don’t), even though Oster debunks some of these food myths too. I figure I’ve gone this long without sushi, and if there is any risk at all, I’d rather not take it, although I’ve become far more blasé about runny eggs. The sections of this book I’ve read are great, and I will read the rest over the coming weeks – anything that helps me negotiate the minefield of conflicting pregnancy advice, and keeps me feeling in control, the better.
We didn’t find out the gender of the baby. I thought I wanted to know but ended up doing a complete U-turn on this, while D always said he didn’t mind whether we found out or not. I quite like the idea that nobody gets to bomboad us with loads of pink or blue before the baby is even born. Knowing would make it easier for us to decide on a name, but we have names we like for both, and so aside from this, it doesn’t really matter, although it does mean that the baby gets called “it” all the time, and that people keep guessing what we’re having based on old wives’ tales. No I won’t be putting a ring on a piece of string and dangling it in front of my bump any time soon, but thanks for the suggestion.
In terms of gear, we haven’t got much yet. Our baby merchandise in fact fits neatly into one little corner. We really need to up our game, and get a buggy on order, as well as nursery furniture. The car seat was a generous donation from a friend with a child who’s outgrown it. Until we’ve had a reshuffle at home, and have managed to relocate some boxes into finished rooms, it’ll be difficult to store things away. I am well aware though that 5 babygros and two knitted cardigans aren’t going to get us very far, so I’ll soon be blogging about the bits and bobs I need to buy.
In terms of the birth plan and beyond, I am trying to keep it real. I’d like to try a water birth, but am aware and comfortable with the fact I might have to get out of the pool if it’s not going to plan. I’d like to say I won’t need pain relief, but if I need it, I need it and so I’d like it close at hand. I’d like to breastfeed but if I find I can’t, I won’t be beating myself up about it. Labour, childbirth and motherhood sound hard as hell, and so if I can give myself a break over any aspect of it, I will.
Here’s a couple of bump pictures: