Sorry My Mountain is a little late this week, we’ve been very busy celebrating Caterpillar’s birthday and I’m afraid I’ve gotten a little behind. Thank you to everyone who commented on last week’s fab post from Samoina. This week I’m delighted to have the wonderful Charlene discussing a really important topic; trusting your instincts during pregnancy.
I willed my body to be ready for a baby for a long time. It didn’t actually occur to me it would be anything other than the astonishing, uplifting experience I saw smiling back at me from the faces of glowing celebs on the front of OK mag. When I pictured my pregnancy (which I did very infrequently, as for some reason my daydreams seemed to jump from sex to baby) it was as a montage of poignant moments – my partner’s hands on my stomach, kind strangers leaping to from chairs to give them to me. When I saw those two lines appear like a pee drenched illusion, I was immediately filled with a wonderful headiness that stayed with me for days.
Four days to be precise. On the fifth day a monster emerged and that monster was me in my pregnant form. The first sign that I was pregnant was a rash of spots that sprouted like a field of mushrooms across my forehead. Even my husband, who dutifully ignores my time of the month zits, had to ask, ‘What’s up with you face?’ I’ve had spots ever since puberty and I’ve made my peace with that but not being able to tell people why I suddenly had an entirely different mug was very frustrating. Of course it’s a personal choice if you tell others of your pregnant in the early stages but actually it’s not a personal choice because despite being in my body, the pregnancy was also my husband’s and when the crying and the forgetfulness started I had to let my friends and family think I was unravelling for ten long weeks.
When I finally revealed my new status the first thing they would ask is are you puking? When I said no they would tell me how lucky I was but you know the only thing almost as bad as puking all the time, is needing to puke all the time and not puking. I also had heartburn a condition I regarded as quaint before pregnancy but sometimes it gripped me to the point of immobility.
I needed to pee constantly. Constantly. The only relief from needing to pee was in the thirty seconds after I had finished peeing. It got to the point that I just stayed on the toilet waiting for the second round to inevitably come.
One day I was sat on a sunny Brighton beach with a couple of mates that hadn’t seen me with the bump. They asked how I was doing and I finally cracked, I told them how awful I felt. I told them how miserable every day was; how I didn’t feel like me. How honestly it was one of the worst experiences of my life. They both did those smiles that don’t reach the eyes and told me it would get better. I interpreted their reaction to mean what I was already thinking – I was weak, I was ungrateful, I needed to suck it up and so I did. I refused to take seats offered on public transport; I ate little and often; I planned my routes with public toilets in mind. I never stopped feeling miserable but I got on with it.
Half way through my pregnant, the end almost in sight, my brother came to see me and his unborn nephew. He prodded my bump curiously, wrinkled his nose and said in the way only a little brother can, ‘I’m not sure what pregnant bellies feel like, but that doesn’t feel right.’ I realised he was right, it was really taut, very hard; it had a kind of watermelon quality to it.
The next day I went to see my midwife. See measured me and listened to my son’s heartbeat and told me to go to hospital, do not pass go, do not collect £200. At Royal London I met Mr Wee, a sweet faced man who would become my consultant for the rest of my pregnancy. He felt my belly, looked inside my womb and told me that I had polyhydramnios a condition that meant I had excess amniotic fluid in my womb. Instead of sitting in a hot tub, my boy was swimming in an ocean and not only that but it was the worst case he had seen. To remove the very real risk of premature labour he booked me in for a drain the next day. He looked at me somewhat bemused as he did so, ‘You must have been very uncomfortable,’ he said.
To hear you have a problem with your pregnancy and react with immense relief is a very odd experience. The nausea, indigestion and peeing were all symptoms of the pressure on my body. I had the drain and immediately felt better, going forward I felt discomfort at a level I would describe as reassuring. Of course my friends and family made a huge fuss of me and I had dozens of calls asking how I was and it felt so amazing to say, ‘I feel great!’
I realised that however common pregnancy is, it’s not a time to be stoic. If something feels wrong it may be because something is very wrong. When pregnant more than ever you have to trust your body and yourself. The rest of my pregnancy wasn’t a breeze but what had changed was I had no fears about sharing my concerns; it helped lower my anxiety and to feel empowered during my labour and let’s be honest, who doesn’t like a good moan sometimes. So if you’re pregnant and it’s not feeling as beautiful as you thought it would, please tell someone about it. You might not feel good doing it but it could be what your baby needs.
Charlene is a support worker and blogs over at The Moderate Mum. She lives in Brighton with her husband Graham and their son Roscoe. This year Charlene is embarking on Mission Acceptance, a year of learning to live with herself. If you would like to follow her mission or join in with the weekly challenges please sign up for updates here.