I had originally titled this post ‘My pregnancy hell’. Since I am now languishing in the relief that the second trimester has brought me, I can be a bit more objective with my words.
Pregnancy is such an individual experience and every woman has a different story. We typically experience vastly different emotions before, during and after the 9 months it takes to incubate our precious little souls. Having said that, I don’t know many women who sail through the first three months of pregnancy without feeling any combination of the following (at one time or another): drained, irrational, anxious, exhausted, terrified, isolated or green to the gills nauseous; all the while wondering, ‘will this ever end?!’
As I enter my third trimester, I’ve had a bit of a rough trot getting to this point. I’ve suffered two first trimester miscarriages, been through three rounds of IVF and six long, long years of trying pretty much everything. Chinese herbs, ICF, ICSI, acupuncture, countless specialists and every test under the sun --- you name it, we’ve done it and spent close to $50,000 for the pleasure.
In the end, who knew a holiday to Port Douglas and plenty of sun and champagne would do the trick.
The first 12 weeks were no walk in the park. Never mind the physical symptoms, nausea, headaches and difficulty sleeping; it was the mental and emotional strain that seemed to make every day feel like a terribly lonely year! I drove myself slightly mad worrying about losing my baby. The more women I talked to, I realised I was not alone. Whether it was the anxiety about having another miscarriage, crazy hormonal changes, anxiety about becoming a parent or just feeling like absolute crap, I certainly had my moments where pregnancy got me very down.
At a time when we are expected to be feeling elated, glowing and over-the-moon-excited, it can come as a rude shock to many women when for some reason or another, we feel completely the opposite. This can cause us to ask ourselves questions like ‘what is wrong with me?!’
The answer is NOTHING!
The common rule we tend to follow about keeping the pregnancy a secret until that magical 12 week mark can be a big factor in making this time harder for many. I’m not suggesting that you upload a pic of your home pregnancy test on Facebook as soon as you find out (actually I strongly suggest you DON’T do this), but telling a few select people who can support you during this time is essential.
It might also be a good idea to tell someone at work; confiding with a close colleague and/ or your manager is completely fine and understandable. After all, they may need to know why you are running off to the bathroom or not joining in on after work drinks with your normal gusto, and can help cover for you where necessary.
There’s no point in me giving practical tips such as what to eat, as every woman and her lifestyle, needs and requirements is different. From a nutritional standpoint, the first 12 weeks are super important in making sure you get the right vitamins. Folic acid, a good fish oil and a pregnancy supplement are pretty much standard. Talk to your GP / OBGYN (have a good one on hand to help put you at ease and make you feel comfortable about asking questions, no matter how silly they may seem.)
My advice? Eat what you can. Obviously, we want to feed our bodies with the best food we can stomach and there is so much information out there on what we should and shouldn’t be eating during this time.
Be cautious of the ‘mummy blogs’. Many of them can be misinformed and full of opinions that are bound to scare the life out of you. There are plenty of great pregnancy websites out there, with articles and posts written by health professionals that give safe and measured advice.
When it comes to exercise, do what feels right for you. Although I knew that I could keep training, I didn’t feel well enough, and a few walks in the fresh air had to do. Do what feels right for you and your body. Seeing pregnant celebrities in the media with their perfect pregnant bodies can cause us to feel pressure and make us feel guilty about not keeping in shape.
As for the housework, if meal times are normally your domain, and the smell of food makes you want to heave, or you are just too plain tired, come up with a plan. Get your partner on board. As soon as you feel better, you’ll get back into it, but for now you aren’t going to be winning chef of the year.
If you have other children, they aren’t going to complain if they get a few more minutes of TV time in the afternoons because you are too tired or ill to be ferrying them around to endless playdates, excursions or outings. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family for some extra help. The most important thing your children have is you; the more relaxed and de-stressed you can be during this time, the happier they will be.
A final piece of advice that helped me is remembering that this too shall pass. Some days I didn’t think I would make it, but somehow I always did. I remember lounging on the couch while my teenage son ate baked beans on toast for dinner in front of the TV and feeling like an awful mother. But, sometimes you just have to rest and let things slide. Ask for help from friends and family. Cut yourself some slack. You are growing a human being inside you! It’s a HUGE job. Whatever negative pregnancy symptom you end up with, know that it will pass. Before you know it, you’ll be holding that sweet bundle of joy in your arms.
If you only take one thing from this article, let it be this: tell guilt to take a hike.
Is your life out of balance? Try the Wheel of Balance today to help you prioritise and get things back on track!