Leaving the GP’s office six years ago, she took my hand, focussed her gaze and said: “Promise me one thing – ENJOY your first pregnancy; it’s very different the second time around when you’re running after a toddler.”
She wasn’t the first or the last person to say that. “Enjoy your pregnancy.” It should’ve have been enjoyable, but – try as I might, to the point of anxiety – finding the joy was tricky. Especially when relative strangers keep repeating the joys of pregnancy ad nauseam.
“Embrace Your Bump!”
Chances are, if you don’t, someone else will. The amount of unsolicited bump patting endured during both pregnancies was relentless. Then you have the inbetweeners, the ones who don’t look you in the face, just stare at your stomach. Stiiiiill staring at the stomach. Finally, there are those who ignore your massive belly – mostly when it’s swinging in their faces while on public transport. Even when you’re clutching a Holles Street folder.
The bump was missed when it was gone, however (although, to be honest, most of it is still there – especially since the emergence of baby number two). Having a bath with a bump was special, seeing a tiny foot pressing up against your skin. Despite seizing the opportunity to scream “ALIEN, AAAALIEN!” to freak out the husband, it was good for the bonding process. You can also recreate a scene from Jurassic Park by placing a glass of water on your belly.
“Eat What You Want, You’re Eating for Two!”
Technically, you’re not eating double portions. All that is required is approximately 380 extra calories, but that didn’t stop yours truly from horsing into all manner of savoury snacks and stodgy delights. If I didn’t eat, the nausea was strong. While eating, it was the ONLY thing that mattered. Two minutes later, there was instant regret, followed by much rolling around the couch, trying to burp without barfing, and all because bubs has effectively pushed your stomach up towards your chest area. The result? Heartburn from hell.
“Enjoy a Spa Weekend!”
While it does sound like a lovely prospect, and definitely one to consider, do bear in mind that you’ll have to look at fellow guests sauntering in and out of the sauna, the steam room and the jacuzzi. Fun times! Maybe you could book in for a massage? “I’m afraid the only person qualified in pregnancy massage is off today.” Don’t give up, how about a pedicure? Nice idea, especially if you can still see your toes.
“You Get to Buy New Shoes!”
I thought they meant “sensible” shoes, but – in fact – the swelling got so bad that the only shoes that fitted me full term were a pair of brave flip flops. Not ideal given it was February at the time.
“Sleep As Much as You Can!”
Sounds pretty idyllic, and it is a (CONSTANT) regret that more sleep wasn’t stockpiled pre-baby, but it’s pretty hard to sleep for a number of reasons…
• You need to pee what feels like every 40 minutes; your hips go from being fairly robust to something resembling a glass jigsaw bobbing on a water bed, making turning particularly tricky.
• The aforementioned heartburn
• The baby. Baby number two used to sleep all day and want to party as soon as I got into bed. It often felt like she was warming up with star jumps. As for the now six-year-old, her speciality was the hiccups. Usually from around 4am. Clockwork.
If you happen to complain about not being able to sleep, the usual response from informed sorts is: “Ah, that’s just Mother Nature’s way of preparing you for the impending lack of sleep!” Fabulous. There are things that can help, thankfully. I got myself a large body pillow to wrap around and therefore help the hips. We called him Frank.
“You’re Overdue? Enjoy The Extra Time!”
Being two weeks overdue with the firstborn, before she was served her eviction notice, I was simply too anxious to enjoy the extra time. When I wasn’t bouncing on a fitball, attempting to hack a pineapple for snaffling, and answering “So, any movement yet?! Enjoy the extra time!” texts, I was batch cooking meals and trying to stuff bulbous maternity pads into the already heaving hospital bag. I felt like a time bomb that didn’t want to be induced, but that’s the thing about being pregnant; it’s best to expect the unexpected.
Yes, it is “a magical time.” Yes, you are definitely “one of the lucky ones.” But it’s also OK to feel like your body’s been hijacked by a nocturnal tap-dancer who constantly headbutts your cervix. We’re human. As for all the positive people spouting phrases such as “Heartburn? Oooooh, your little one must have lots of hair!” They’re human too.
In short, chin up! Speaking of which, you may want to invest in a decent set of tweezers…
Originally posted on TheJournal.ie