I am here today to confess — pregnancy is kicking my ass. Even typing these words is a sigh of relief.
But before I get into the nitty gritty, I have to first declare that my intention isn’t to whinge or make light of how lucky I am to be pregnant.
I know how fortunate I am to even be here right now, and I would go through anything just to hold bub in my hands. I will never take for granted the gift I’ve been given. My post today is simply to speak honestly about my pregnancy experience.
I feel guilty admitting that I’m finding pains in the journey to motherhood, as it’s something I want so incredibly deeply. But to paint a picture of total bliss and peace is a lie.
For me, growing a human has been hard work. From the emotional rollercoaster that comes from the fear of another loss and the physical beating my body is taking, to the irrational freak-outs I have where I question how on earth I’m going to look after a baby (they’re so precious and I want to do everything right, but how does one know what to do! Where is the manual?!?).
While I wouldn’t change anything about bringing this little guy into the world (all the craziness is worth it in every way), it doesn’t mean I don’t feel like I’m lost or scared sometimes.
Fortunately, I’ve come to accept that is OK thanks to the loving support of my hubs, an awesome OB and GP, my online community, and my family and friends.
Through this experience I’ve learnt that pregnancy is a trust yourself exercise; trust your gut, trust your body, trust your community. When you start here, finding your way becomes much easier, no matter how ridiculous it feels.
What am I talking about?
Anxiety has plagued me these last eight months. I’ve questioned and feared every possible worst case scenario… You name it I’ve been there — dating scans every week in the first trimester to triple check viability, endless blood tests to check hormone levels, sleepless nights ahead of scans and check-ups, five hospital visits (so far!) for things like lack of movement (he was fine) and leaking amniotic fluid (it wasn’t). Even an emergency doctor’s visit to check a mole I’ve had since birth for skin cancer (it was normal).
I’ve avoided any food that could potentially harm bub, be it cold meats and raw fish (the obvious ones) or unpasteurised juice and reheated rice (the not so obvious and maybe slightly OTT ones). I’ve also steered clear of activities with any degree of risk.
I would argue that perhaps it’s just my overly cautious mumma bear instincts coming into play, but having done a fair bit of PAL (pregnancy after loss) reading, and knowing other mums on similar journeys, I know that this type of anxiety or irrationality is common when you’ve experienced first-hand pregnancy gone wrong.
I’ve learnt that for many, the journey has lost its innocence. We get that the road doesn’t always lead to where we want, so a protective and hyper-risk aversion momentum kicks into overdrive.
Of course, among the flutter of what could be, I also learnt that questioning pays off. At 27 weeks (13 weeks before bubs was due for those who aren’t parents) I found myself in hospital and with pains and sure enough they were real deal contractions.
Twelve hours later I had a positive foetal fibronectin test (a sign labour was underway) and was rushed to the Royal North Shore delivery suites from The Mater (my hospital) to deliver my beautiful little rainbow baby (the term for a bub after miscarriage) wayyyyy to early. Cue a heartbeat of 125bpm and panic.
After a week in hospital, multiple steroid shots, countless labour stopping drugs and an infection diagnosis, I came home on bed rest with our baby still on board (hallelujah!!!). Work stopped abruptly and the silly season was over before it began. Four weeks and a whole bunch of taking it easy later, we’ve now reached the all-important 32 week milestone — a significant moment for any potential preterm mummy and daddy.
But the ass kicking doesn’t stop there…
I overcame a pretty silly but still raw case of bad body image — it’s confronting seeing yourself change so dramatically particularly the first time a swimsuit goes on. Hubby pulled me out of this funk with some sneaky holiday snaps of me and my growing body. Seeing it from his eyes showed me just how beautiful and incredible my body has become.
I’m also managing an expanding endo uterus that despite a great first few months, isn’t loving the later stages of having a bub, with waves of uncomfortableness and severe pain increasingly common.
But despite the challenges to me, I’ve been continuously amazed at the strength and tenacity of our little dude. Among all the hype, he has continued to flourish and be strong — he’s currently measuring about two weeks ahead and is in the 94th percentile for his age, meaning even if he was to come early, he’d be a strong little man. I know that this has nothing to do with anything more than God and luck, but I feel so blessed knowing he’s ok.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that there is so much pressure on mums to be to love the journey, to not ‘over-stress’, and to glow with radiance. But surely it has to be OK to not love every moment of pregnancy?
It doesn’t mean you don’t treasure the little life growing inside you, or the incredible opportunity you’ve been given. As I said earlier, I would give this, plus everything else I could to be standing here than not. I get that. Pain in any form is better than the pain of not having a bub, infinity times over. I think it simply means that this chapter of life, like many others, can be hard too. For our own wellbeing, we need to be able to admit that.
With the countdown well and truly on (six weeks at the most), part of me is excited to leave this bit of the journey behind, but another part of me knows I’ll miss it, despite its ups and downs.
While I love the feeling of my growing tummy, the kicks that wake me each morning, and the process of nurturing a human to life, I am living for the day I get to meet my little man, hold him in my arms, and cry tears of joy.
Pregnancy is like no other time in life. It has been one of my greatest joys. But I’ve had times of struggle as well, and I want to be real about that too.