I remember thinking, when I was pregnant, that there were a lot of things I hadn’t known before I was with child. There were also plenty of things I knew but just didn’t understand.
If you’re thinking of having a baby maybe it’s better to stop reading here. If you’re already pregnant you’d may as well carry on as it’s too late for you now!
So, first and foremost, morning sickness. You know it won’t just happen in the morning, you know particular smells will make it worse, you know it’s not going to be pleasant. But did you know it would creep up on you without warning? That you’d go to the loo at work and throw up over your own knickers? That sometimes just looking at a toilet bowl will make you bring back your dinner? And that if there’s a hint of brown on it you’ll be bringing back yesterday’s as well?
The worst thing for me, though, was SPD. Symphysis Pubis. I’d never even heard of this before but I was one of the lucky few (ha!) who got it early and who is still getting over it almost four months after Ted’s birth. For those of you who don’t know what SPD is, it’s when your pelvis bones get YANKED APART by a nasty little hormone and then your growing belly puts more and more pressure on it until just staying upright is AGONY. When I was diagnosed the midwife happily told me, “it’ll start earlier and get worse with every subsequent baby you have!” Hooray! They also kept telling me that it’d get better when I’d had Baby. It didn’t. A couple of weeks after he was born I was stuck in bed, unable to walk, crying down the phone to the doctor and begging for painkillers. This was after my husband had gone back to work, so he just piled up everything I needed for the day – food and water, nipple pads and Lansinoh, muslins and blankets, magazines and earplugs – on his side of the bed and kissed me goodbye. Not my best day.
Oh, and sex drive! Jeez, the bigger I got the more interested I got! For someone previously very concerned with being overweight I suddenly felt beautiful (and even on a bad day I still felt like it was good to be so big!) and that confidence turned me in to the young, sexy thing I was when I first met my husband. I can’t pretend the hormones didn’t have an effect too, but whatever it was BabyDaddy certainly wasn’t complaining. He found me beautiful too, so he made the most of it.
You know when people complain about feet in their ribs? Well, that does suck. But they don’t tell you that the baby hiccoughing – so cute in the early stages! – will soon feel like someone coughing down your rectum. Oh no, they don’t. And my baby had hiccoughs several times a day. Have you ever had to teach a class of sixteen year old boys about safe sex whilst trying to ignore vibrations down your bottom? No? You haven’t lived.
Some people complain about being “public property” and having people touch their bellies without permission. I didn’t experience that. I experienced the very opposite. I wanted everyone to touch my belly, to ask to feel the baby kicking, to talk constantly about what it’s like to be pregnant. When they didn’t I felt strangely offended. But not as offended as I was when a woman I worked with came to a meal with a group of our colleagues and didn’t even look in Ted’s pram, let alone congratulate me on his birth. Polite note: tell every new Mum her baby is beautiful even if you can’t stand her. Her baby is more important than your grudge.
Wiping your bum suddenly becomes a feat of gymnastics. Whether you used to wipe from the front or the back you’re going to struggle when you get fat. You can’t go through the front when your belly’s too big to even see your front bottom and you’ll fall off the toilet if you try to twist around to the back. Your knickers can’t stay around your knees anymore, they’re going to have to drop to your ankles. And it’ll feel like you’re wiping with sandpaper however you manage to do it.
Maternity tights are the most comfortable things in the world. But you might need help getting them on. I’ve only just stopped wearing mine and it’s a huge shock to have tights that only pull up to my hips now. Being able to tuck them into my bra would be no bad thing in this weather.
When the baby doesn’t move for five minutes there’s a specific part of the brain that’s designed to make you panic. It grows throughout pregnancy and will only get worse as your baby gets bigger, but in pregnancy you’re still convinced that it’s just this time that you’re panicky and that next time you’ll know to wait before crying desperately. You won’t.
The itching! Dear god, the itching! My belly and scalp were unbelievably itchy and they drove me to tears on numerous occasions. Sometimes I’d go to the loo and as I pulled my tights down a huge cloud of skin would shower around me. I can recommend two things here: 1) Head & Shoulders Itchy Scalp shampoo; 2) Mothercare stretchmark cream. I have no doubt the stretchmark thing is rubbish, but it was the most soothing & moisturising cream I came across. And it smells yum.
I know that I wrote a list somewhere while I was pregnant so I’ll return with more to add to that list, but here’s something I didn’t know to expect about not being pregnant anymore (and it’s not missing my bump – everyone said I would but I didn’t. I LOVED being fat and pregnant, but I haven’t missed my bump once.)
When you’re pregnant and they want to look up your wotsit and have a little prod around and talk about your discharge and show you what they’ve just found up there it’s uncomfortable but you do it because it’s for the baby and you just want what’s best. But after the baby’s out there’s no reason for them to be up there anymore and they should just all GET OFF MY BITS NOW PLEASE! Ted was big and did me quite a lot of damage so I was taken to surgery after he was born. Because of that people (doctors, really – not just people who’ve come to visit Ted) have wanted to have a look at my bits to see how they’re feeling (and because of where else the damage was done they also like to stick their fingers up my bum.) Now that Ted’s not in there anymore it feels like a massive intrusion and it makes me feel more than uncomfortable, it makes me feel a bit sick. I got so worked up about going for my smear test last week that I actually forgot Ted was having his jabs afterwards. I was already fairly certain I was going to go back on the pill instead of having the IUS fitted before the PMT issues gave me an excuse, but the thought of a swab and the fitting made it too much to bear.
So, if you haven’t had enough of my ramblings about pregnancy and my ladybits I’ll come back and add to this as I remember the other things that surprised me. If you think of any please leave me a comment and I’ll add those in too.
And here’s a lovely thought to leave you with:
When I was twelve weeks pregnant I was losing blood clots and had to go to hospital. At 2am a gynaecologist finally came to remove the clots that were left and – as if my body was trying to lighten the atmosphere – the speculum pinged out of my bits with a loud CLAP sound. I remember saying that I would laugh about it one day and now I know that Baby’s safe (obviously I didn’t know that then) I do find it pretty funny. The gynaecologist was more embarrassed than I was, the poor woman. But I bet she laughs about it when she’s down the pub with her mates. “Guess what happened to me at work one night…”