Finding out you’re pregnant is an emotional rollercoaster, to put it lightly. However the bundle of joy comes into being, whatever journey you’ve been on, it must be pretty life changing news for anyone. For me, it was an equal mix of beyond excited and bloody terrified. On my way to joining the Mum club, I’m comfortably in my second trimester and no longer vomiting at the thought of brushing my teeth. Following a blissful babymoon to the Lake District, I’m taking a moment to reflect on things I didn’t expect about pregnancy.
First trimester limbo
Pregnancy loss isn’t just a hushed taboo subject, it’s reality for so many more people than I expected. 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, which is a stark statistic. It makes sense why so many people opt to wait until the first 12 weeks have passed before telling loved ones. But I found those first 12 weeks so intense, simultaneously the quickest and longest 12 weeks I could have expected. Especially since by the time you find out you’re already a month in? (Still don’t understand that logic!) Everything had changed overnight and yet nothing had changed, not yet. It was googling ‘what not to eat’ lists under the table at a cafe, feigning antibiotics to avoid drinking at corporate events and tracking the baby’s size from a peppercorn… whilst also not speaking about it with many people and not appearing that different on the surface.
I wanted to tell the entire world but equally I didn’t want to open up if this story had a shorter ending than hoped for. We ended up telling family around 8 weeks after a private scan confirmed there was a wriggling being in the right place, and that was only after avoiding my Mum for a couple weeks prior with her panicking we had fallen out. Then, due to a hectic events schedule dragging me out of my WFH cocoon, work found out shortly after. The first trimester limbo was a weird space to be in, and a lot more intense than I expected, but I am grateful that for much of the nausea I could hide at home feeling sorry for myself.
Along with the rollercoaster of emotions with the first trimester, my impeccable timing saw this happening whilst my corporate events came back to life. After the pandemic put a stop to everything last year, I suddenly had client events stacking up, with everyone keen to have a drink and socialise with a sense of normality. Perfect timing to be turning down the gin and opting for soda water.
Naively, I hadn’t ever really stopped to consider how isolating it must be for so many people who don’t drink, when so many of our business events seem to revolve around alcohol. Coming up with excuses, because simply not drinking raised more questions than not, became draining and tedious. Despite the raging modern world out there, I attended more than a few events where the soft drink options were beyond disappointing. A sober evening shouldn’t raise eyebrows but it has definitely opened my eyes to the other side of work events.
Body changes don’t happen all at once
In the movies, it seems like a symptom starts and then it’s just there for the long haul. Swollen feet or itchy boobs are a permanent feature throughout. I didn’t realise that one day can be completely different from the next. The benefit is that some uncomfortable changes are short lived. The downside is pregnancy is this weird, constantly evolving “Oh so this is happening today” experience and I’m not sure what to expect day to day. From the odd to the gross to the awkward, it turns out growing another life has some serious side effects.
There’s a great podcast by singer Jessie Ware I discovered a few weeks ago, which is full of lovely women asking ‘Is this normal?” for their pregnancy woes whilst experts respond. Spoiler alert – yes, most of it is just a weird and wonderful element of growing another human.
Everyone has an opinion
Every book, podcast and Mummy influencer has a different opinion on what you should be doing. Even NHS guidelines look wildly different now to ten years ago. Modern medicine keeps finding and deciding on new foods or products to avoid, different ways to care for babies and the ever evolving psychology of best parenting practice. You can fall down a rabbit hole of forums and advice blogs that all contradict each other. In the end… I think it comes down to doing your best and trusting your gut. At least that’s what I’m hoping.
Even with the COVID-19 vaccines, in just the last year the advice for pregnancy has changed hugely. It went from warning against it, to calling for expectant mums to make an ‘informed choice’ with the limited information out there, to advising for it. Today’s scary headlines have stats of unvaccinated pregnant women in critical care. The changing advice has left most of the pregnant women I’ve asked uneasy about their choice, whichever they opted for, when in reality everyone is trying to do the right thing.
It’s ok to be freaked out
Not everyone loves being pregnant or the process, for a lot of reasons, and that’s completely normal. I’m beyond excited but there are elements that definitely creep me out, just a little. Some people do seem to effortlessly glide through each stage, glowing, and that’s maybe infuriating. But equally, someone could see me now and not know I spent the first few months going green at the sight of anything that wasn’t salt and vinegar pringles (literally). Sometimes thinking about just how much everything is going to change can be overwhelming when all you can do is take it day by day, and talk about how you feel. Is being pregnant now my personality? I don’t know everything that is coming over the remaining weeks (and most of what I can expect terrifies me) but I guess there’s no stopping the rollercoaster now.