I was not expecting pregnancy to be hard. At least, not until I was physically whale-like. Oh, of course I knew that vomiting was a thing, but vomiting and being large were the only things on my radar to watch out for. Hmm. As it happens neither of those things have been massive issues for me.
The other thing my sources all told me was that the 1st and 3rd trimesters were hell and the 2 was all flowers and rainbows. Hmm. I’ll agree that the 1st trimester was horrible, in so many ways, but for me most of the second trimester was horrible too. I didn’t feel anything but horrible until about week 24, with only 4 weeks left of the second trimester, so I was already feeling the 3rd trimester was imminent.
For me, it was more accurate to split the pregnancy into the first 6 months and the remainder with everything in the first 6 months being horrible and everything after being better. This is exactly the opposite of what I expected. I thought for the 1st 6 months of pregnancy I would still be me, and still be able to function as me; only towards the end having to give up the things I like to do. Hmm. Not so much.
While this post is pretty negative in tone, I am pretty much in awe of my body’s ability to do everything that it’s doing to make a new life from egg to person. It’s fascinating, but that doesn’t make it easy to live with.
The first trimester was chiefly about exhaustion, worry, nausea, with side orders of blood sugar issues, digestive issues, hip/back/pelvis pain and breasts that grew more rapidly than I could buy them bras. While the nausea needed a lot of management throughout the day (mostly by eating and drinking the right things at the right times (i.e. constantly)) it was nowhere near as inconvenient as the exhaustion which totally incapacitated me. I had to keep working, keep commuting, and I was trying to keep seeing (and riding) Drifter, but it was just impossible. I would work, come straight home and go to bed, getting up to eat dinner before going back to bed. Drifter had to be relegated to a weekend pony. Basically I managed to have symptoms from all 3 trimesters packed into my 1st trimester. I cannot tell you how it annoying it was, when I’d not long announced my pregnancy at work, when I was barely able to walk in the mornings because of hip pain and colleagues told me it was too early to have hip pain, and continued to tell me this day after day despite my obviously not being able to walk anywhere near normally. I think it was because my hips/pelvis/lower back have always been more tightly muscled/less flexible than average, so the relaxation of the muscles and ligaments that most people might not be aware of that early on, meant that for me joints were moving in ways they had never moved before, and muscles were having to learn new ways of working to support me.
Largely I’ve been left to do my own thing by the medical profession, which was fine by me. The vast wealth of the internet and some NHS leaflets have kept me informed on whether what I was feeling was normal, backed up by a handful of midwife visits. I chose midwife led care and birthing rather than hospital led, and it was all quite low key. On the one hand I’ve been glad to have been left to get on with it – on the other I feel a bit like I would have liked more information and support. Mostly information, I guess.
The changes I was most unprepared for were the changes to my brain and personality. During pregnancy I have been more considerate and more empathetic, yet also quicker to judge, to snap and to anger. I have improved recognition of faces, which is something I have always struggled with, but decreased analytical skills. Certainly I have failed to create new memories, retain information or recall events accurately. I have been less introverted and more interested in others. I have been a poorer driver, with slower reactions, but have a greater than usual fear of immediate danger. I am worried about falling in a lake when I am still 3 meters away from it, but have a higher pain threshold so I can’t tell if a scratch or knock broke the skin or not without looking. I can no longer enjoy my former favourite genres of literature (sci-fi & fantasy) but require chick-lit or autobiography if anything is to hold my attention. Writing is harder, particularly if I want it to make sense, and I can’t be bothered with … well so many things, but that sentence was originally going to end with “proper editing”. Video games seem pointless, although I have a certain reliance on casual gaming (apps) because they pass the time when lounging around trying to regain energy. I don’t give a fig what anyone thinks of me, and my thoughts often disappear on me in the middle of a sentence, leaving me hanging and not knowing what I was trying to say.
All in all I really don’t like being pregnant. It is constantly uncomfortable physically and mentally. I am not me any more. One of the questions on a depression questionnaire is whether you enjoy the things you used to like doing. I am not depressed, but for pretty much the whole 40 weeks, I have been unable to enjoy any of the things that give me pleasure, and to be honest I have struggled to find anything to replace them with. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to be disappointed by that. Whether I am a better or nicer person is not something I have considered – it doesn’t seem very relevant, but certainly as a pregnant person my life is unenjoyable – each day and week is another one to be endured in the all-but-year-long countdown to not being pregnant again.
So here I am at the very end of my pregnancy, looking back. Tomorrow I will be 39 weeks pregnant and also tomorrow I will be receiving a caesarean section as the baby is breech. It will be exactly a week since the midwife raised a tiny concern that the baby might not be head down, during which 7 days we have had as much medical attention as we had throughout the previous 38 weeks put together. As of 4 days ago I am no longer in midwife-led care, although I have no idea if I’ve officially been assigned to a specific doctor, so I feel rather in limbo.
It’s strange to know that, if all goes smoothly and if we’re not bumped down the list by too many emergencies, I should be holding my baby in less than 24 hours from now. I cannot tell how the next year will change me, but I have to believe that I will find more to enjoy about it than I have done about pregnancy.