I wrote this back when I was 39 weeks pregnant, finishing it just 2 days before I went into labour in the early hours of 1 March 2019, and gave birth to my baby almost exactly 24 years later in the early hours of 2 March 2019. I always intended to put it up on this blog or elsewhere, but never got around to it (who knew a baby would take up so much of my time!). Anyway, I thought it would be nice to pop it up here.
I am now 39 and a half weeks pregnant, and the number of days until my due date is well into single figures. Save for some notes in my private journal however, I haven’t really shared any thoughts on this time and my experiences.
Generally speaking, I’m not really into hyper-analysis. I’m also conscious that I have had a fairly easy time of things, in stark contrast to many people, including friends and colleagues I would consider myself close to. It seemed presumptuous to write publicly and positively about the wonders of creating a new human life when the happy and healthy arrival of that new human was so far from a given.
Now however, I’m approaching the end and feeling quite reflective about the journey, so I’ve decided to put down a few thoughts on the last 9 months of my life. First, I wanted to get down some thoughts about my experiences generally, then in another post I’ll talk about some of the more specific topics I was often asked about.
Finding out I was pregnant was, to be quite honest, a little bit of a shock. We’d vaguely been thinking that having a baby might be nice, but I was under the impression these things took time, planning, perhaps a stack of expensive fertility-targeted multivitamins to happen. Not so in our case.
Because it was so quick and slightly unexpected, I was pretty under-prepared. All of a sudden, I was in the class and hadn’t done the pre-reading. I also didn’t find out immediately, and during the early days I hadn’t taken any folic acid, drank quite a lot of wine, carried on deadlifting at 40kg+ and even ran a competitive 10km race (and got a PB). I panic-made a GP appointment and blurted all this out, only to be told very calmly that this is all absolutely fine and happens to many, many women. Also, deadlifting is great for your pelvic floor. I was then referred to the midwives, started taking my folic acid immediately, and was very well looked after from there on in.
Often spoken of as being the worst part for many women, I think I got off pretty lightly. I did get some morning sickness but it was mild, mostly appetite-loss rather than full-blown nausea, generally confined to early mornings only and was generally fixed by toast, ready salted crisps and ginger nuts (I kept a packet on me at all times). It also cleared up by about week 10, which was nice. I did actually struggle with my appetite right through pregnancy: whilst I didn’t feel overtly sick, the thought of food was quite objectionable and I relied heavily on cheese sandwiches and plain jacket potatoes, with just a bit of butter on. Otherwise, I had a few weeks of tiredness. Not sleepiness per se, but muscle-aching exhaustion like you’ve just done a 20 mile hike up a mountain. There was a lot of sitting down.
Fortunately, I work in a comfy office and was able to carry on through with a few early nights and quiet weekends.
One thing that did get me quite badly in the first trimester though was car sickness. Perhaps a combination of the heatwave of summer 2018, a convertible with no air conditioning and Mark’s ‘vigorous’ driving, if I was in the car longer than about 20 minutes nausea would kick in with a vengeance, and no amount of staring at the horizon seemed to help. I would nibble on ready salted crisps and eventually we’d just have to pull over, mid-journey, to recover. Perhaps it would have been better if I’d been able to drive, but I was still learning at the time (passed my test at 34 weeks!), so that wasn’t an option.
October 2018 – 21 weeks pregnant
The second trimester felt like a very long time with not a lot to report. Because of the way due dates are calculated, by the time you are actually pregnant you are already 2+ weeks down, and if you then don’t find out immediately, by the time you’ve got your head round it, processed all the excitement/trepidation, had your ‘booking in’ appointment with the midwife and got your first scan date, you’re in the second trimester before you know it.
By comparison, for me, the middle part of pregnancy was pretty unexciting. My energy levels went back to basically normal (I was even in the gym a few times), I got my appetite back mostly and a lot of the time, to be perfectly honest, I didn’t really think that much about being pregnant. My bump was always quite small and I didn’t really get particularly uncomfortable until much later (save for a few nasty bouts of heartburn). You don’t get many routine midwife/medical appointments during this time either, so life was all just business as usual really.
New Year’s Day: 31 weeks pregnant
At the end of the second trimester, I became quite unwell with anaemia. Unfortunately, due to a combination of me not taking my symptoms very seriously and the way the routine blood tests are spaced, this took a while to be picked up. In the meantime, I turned grey and blacked out several times. I eventually got put on medication, and within a fortnight was feeling better and was pink again. However, this episode seemed to kick-start the return of various troubles, including vicious insomnia (I was awake from around 3-5am most nights) and violent heartburn.
Still, that all seems like nothing compared to the last 3 weeks. Although the insomnia has lessened, I still wake up to go to the loo 2-3 times a night, and just getting out of bed when you basically feel like a beached dugong is far from an easy manoeuvre. Sleeping itself has become plagued by aches and pains, and currently requires an arrangement of about 6 different pillows and cushions. I worked up to 37 and a half weeks, and in hindsight wish I’d started my maternity leave a week earlier, as the tiredness was really getting to me and I had a big resurgence of nausea in the last few days which meant I really struggled to get everything done.
Full term: 37 weeks pregnant
I mustn’t grumble however, as really, the overriding symptom at this stage is excitement, and I am doing my best to fully experience every moment and not wish it away. Any day now, I will be seeing my baby’s face for the first time.
38 weeks pregnant: just started maternity leave
26 February 2019: 39 weeks pregnant and 4 days before giving birth