After cleaning out my purse recently I discovered my NHS Maternity Exemption certificate cards for the pregnancies for both DS1 and DS2 (shows how often I have a clear out…).
This has caused me to ponder my pregnancies and the fact that, insha’Allah, they’ll be the only two I’ll ever have. I’ve been fortunate enough that they both went to full term and ended in good, natural, births in water – in both cases within less than an hour of arriving at the birth centres (may I take this opportunity to recommend the gorgeous boutique hotel-cum-labour rooms of the St Mary’s birth centre in Paddington. Worth having a baby just to get a free overnight stay.)
When people ask how my pregnancies were, I always say ‘fine’. After all, I didn’t end up in hospital on a drip from vomit-induced dehydration, or have to take to my bed to lie horizontal for months on end. They were not, however, entirely symptom-free, so for my own purposes I’m going to log here my total catalogue of pregnancy-related experiences, from head to toe. I’m hoping it will serve as a reminder for me if I ever feel broody again (hard to imagine at this particular moment, where my eyelids are only held open by matchsticks and Diet Coke) that those 9 months are not something to be entered into lightly.
Warning: this list is not for the faint-hearted.
- Hair got thicker and acquired more ‘body‘. I’ve been searching for 40 years for this. This was a Good Feature.
- Headaches that lasted for several days.
- Inner ears seemed to get swollen and blocked and needed several syringes. Have regained hearing completely since births.
- Pigmentation darkened meaning I’ve got more freckles, plus two moles that appeared out of nowhere and needed surgically removing (particularly as one was on my cheek and my mother thought I’d been wandering around all day with a toast crumb on my face).
- Colds and flu that were untreatable through normal means. Lost voice throughout a visit from the in-laws.
- Metallic taste in mouth in early months.
- Halitosis – not enough (I hope) to lose friends, but generated sufficient complaints from bedfellow to have to resort to a quick spray of mouthwash before I said hello in the morning.
- Free dental checkups. Good Feature. Bleeding gums were not.
- Nausea for months and months. Ate a lot of ready-salted Pringles.
- Regular vomiting (esp with DS2; with DS1 it was only if my waistband was too tight because I was still trying to squeeze myself into suits).
- Anaemia, which, until diagnosed, meant that the second trimesters were not quite the ‘blooming’ experiences they were supposed to be. I was knackered!
- Stress incontinence. Particularly nice when combined with vomiting.
- Thrush. For months. Hideous.
- Vaginal/labial variscosities. The ailment that no one talks about, instead worrying themselves sick thinking they’ve got a tumour, or the baby’s making an early arrival. More common the more babies you have.
- Diarrhoea, particularly if I ate too much or too richly. Not good when waiting for the last ferry back to Naples from Capri, almost 8 mths pregnant. But counteracted by…
- Constipation. And even worse than that, a tendency for my body to just give up half way through evacuation leaving me sitting on the loo wondering what the f*** to do. I spent a lot of time in the bathroom, reassured only by the hope that this was all good muscle training for labour.
- Sore back and hip aches at various times (esp from carrying toddler when pg with DS2). As a result, in tears at the discomfort of sleep, I blew the whole of my Health in Pregnancy grant of £190 on a memory foam and duckdown mattress topper from John Lewis.
- Sprained ankle as a result of loosened ligaments (and foot slipping on a rock). This happened on a reef in the Channel Islands with the tide coming in. Several learning points there.
- Appalling state of footcare due to inability to see feet for several months.
As I said, ‘fine’ pregnancies. Any brave gentlemen who’ve read this far, think on’t. Pregnant women deserve Respect.
So we had an amazing night last night with ds2 only waking up once at 3.30. this might have been due to me having some wine, or the shock of an evening bath, or just flipping into a normal routine. am not confident it’ll be repeated sadly.
BF Is sleeping next door as he hardly slept last night due to work an life worries, so we’ve both been in monks today. compounded by my hormones so I’ve been in tears at everything.
not sure if it would be best yet to wake up ds2 for another feed or not, but he’s sleeping so well I think I will try to too, and just cope with the night as it comes.
ps a girl from antenatal gave birth yest on her kitchen floor. there but for the grace of god…
ds2s routine seems to be pretty non stop feeding from 8pm to 1 am and then 5 hrs sleep – at least it was last night. not really sure how realistic that was bit no doubt will see. midwife came today just as I was about to have some sleep; she’s happy with everything. ds#1 has been ok today rho a bit stroppy this afternoon; i’m sure in part to his new brother, though generally he’s been v sweet. bf out this pm to photo moon. time to try sleep now. x
After an hour or so eating pineapple and bouncing on the gym ball things are suddenly getting a bit speedy – as soon as I stood up they’ve beem coming every 3 mins or so. BF has gone out to get a Thai takeaway; we need to eat something, but just hoping everything holds on until he’s back and we’ve eaten and then can go to the B. Centre.
Crikey bobs. Am trying not to think of what’s to come; it was much better the first time when it was all theoretical – this time I know it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better…
PS from a gyn perspective there was a bit of bloody mucus just now, but I think that’s the bizarrely named ‘show’ rather than anything drastic.
Oh hurry up BF!!!
so now back home to try to get things going; occasional contractions but nothing v regular. sadly the curry house is closed but reopens again at 5.30. still feel like a leaky tap and when the midwife at the hosp was pressing my tummy to check the baby, at every prod water spurted out. I am a sponge.
… like the first morning …. not, as they didn’t break until right at the end last time.
the birth centre has said that if the baby isn’t born within 18 hours I’ll need to be at the hospital instead. which is where we’re en route to anyway as the midwife wants the colour of my waters to be checked out. so we’re now sitting on traffic wondering of my occasional aches are going to become meaningful contractions. and I’m leaking waters like I don’t know what. didn’t factor this in…
6 and a half hours left for the bambino to fulfil a 5% chance of Arriving On Time. It’s so not going to happen…
Again at 2am last night I woke up thinking, ooh, oooh, is this it? as my pelvis and hips ached and ached; but it was only standard aches and pains and after extensive shuffling around and repositioning pillows and cushions I went back to sleep. It helped backing into the sleepy embrace of BF who has a normal body temperature that surely defies science, and who, it turns out, works quite well as a heat pack on achey hips. I repaid him this morning when the toddler woke up at 6am (we need to decorate his room and get some sodding black out curtains pronto) and I ended up getting up with him as he was just howling, while BF slept. I did the nursery run and then went back to bed at about 9, as BF got up feeling pretty grotty (legacy of flu, and sleeplessness from work worries and (no doubt) pregnant ladies stealing his heat in the middle of the night).
At 2am though I was getting slightly anxious about the fact that my iPhone had almost run out of juice, that BF didn’t yet have the phone numbers of all the people we’ve got lined up to help in case of middle-of-the-night disasters, and the fact that in the decorating mess I haven’t got all the post-birth paraphenalia that helps. So this morning I headed into town and stocked up on ghastly but reassuring things like knickers-you-don’t-have-to-worry-about (well done M&S) and waterproof mats. Hmmm, should I be using one of those even now? What’s the chance of waters breaking while in bed? Hmm? Or am I tempting fate by even thinking of it? But I really don’t want to ruin my new memoryfoamanddown mattress topper.
I also had my eyebrows threaded, which, with last week’s haircut, and having painted my toenails, means I’m Good to Go, cosmetically (actually give it another 12 hours please for my eyebrows to calm down…). Have taken some time out this afternoon from reorganising study to scan in some old photos from albums. It left me considering that in my twenties:
- a) I was a lot thinner than I thought I was and really could have dressed with slightly more femininity than lumberjack shirts and cords delivered
- b) my ‘gamine’ haircut would have been a bit more effective if I’d recognised (a), and also noticed that Jean Seberg (see pic) carried it off in A Bout de Souffle accompanied by some strong eyeliner. Why didn’t I wear any makeup? I just looked like a puffy-eyed prepubescent boy most of the time.
On the plus side I suppose I am, bearing in mind the very low start, improving with age. Long may that continue.
Now then baby, what are you up to in there? Shall we have another biscuit?