Now I am not one to moan usually. My general outlook is that of a calm and relatively non-judgemental, quite peaceful disposition. But I have felt compelled to write this article recently as some of you may be aware, we are a company focused on emotional sobriety and freedom from bondage of what our negative thinking can do to us. Being a trained therapist and from a personal perspective in recovery for, well, a lot of debilitating behavioural and substance addictions, I like to view myself as pretty grounded. Let me just caveat this article straight away with that being utter bollocks right now. Let’s just put all of that aside so I can be real with the reader and how pregnancy can REALLY affect a woman.
Let me start with building a profile of who I used to be (with the aim being you may feel some compassion for me before realising how currently insane I am). For many years in my teens and all throughout my twenties I had destroyed my health and body through swinging from binge eating disorder to anorexia to bulimia, whilst drinking my body weight in alcohol (A LOT of it, including, at times, morning drinking) and taking copious class a drugs. That’s not to include the pretty insane behavioural addictions thrown in to the mix as well – but I am gathering you get the picture. Along with being on self-destruct I had experienced a pretty horrific, torturous and traumatic upbringing which left me with (what I was to discover later) some serious mental health implications with the most poignant being a complex case of post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as body dysmorphia.
Anyhow, I knew that this article would jump about a bit (just like my thinking has been recently!) so please bear with me. The point of painting this picture is to illustrate some idea as to the range of emotions I experienced when I saw a little pink line appear before me (not just randomly, I mean on a pregnancy test). How I felt would be quite difficult for me to articulate in to actual, meaningful words. I didn’t know for sure my body would be capable of carrying a human life, I had bashed it bruised it and beaten it up for so many years – I really didn’t even know how fertile I was. Even though I had been through years of scrutinizing therapy, in-patient trauma treatment hospital stays, medicalised rehab detox (twice) and withdrawal from food addictions (now they are painful) finally finding peace within myself I had never thought possible, there was always that lingering thought – maybe it just won’t happen for me. Maybe I am just never going to be good enough to be a mother. And perhaps, well, I just don’t deserve it. So to have seen a positive result threw me sideways and gave me joy I cannot express enough to the reader.
So now that I have caveated this article sufficiently with the absolute soul deep gratitude I have for the blessing I have been given, I want to get real and current. Today I am 34 weeks and 4 days pregnant. And I can officially say I despise it. I feel like an awful horrible human being for writing this because a pregnant woman shouldn’t say that. At least that’s what I have been educated to believe. But having had the experience I have had recently in my later stages of pregnancy I could actually lay money on the fact that there are many women out there right now who will be nodding their heads in agreement (whether currently bloated beyond recognition or having been in this position in the past.) Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing could have prepared me for the ups and downs pregnancy has bought to my life. The first 12 weeks (or the first trimester for those in the know, as I didn’t even know what that meant until falling pregnant) were horrific. Severe exhaustion, constant nausea (not even REAL sickness just a constant niggling annoying feeling of WANTING to throw up), skull aching headaches, dizzy spells and the daily fear that this could end at any moment and checking every wipe when going to the toilet for any sign of pink or brown fluid (yes gross, but reality). And the worst part at that stage is you don’t even look pregnant. So I was suffering daily but confused as felt as if I should be overwhelmed with gratitude at the same time.
Post 12 weeks and up to around week 27 things calmed down, the second trimester was pretty non-descript so for the sake of this article, probably not any point in writing much about it. I hadn’t really started to carry much extra weight until around then anyway so physically things have been pretty easy going. And even though I had a short hospital stay after a worrying bleed, there was not really anything else to write home about. By then I was well in to my third trimester and up to 32 weeks’ things were pretty damn rosy – I was even sleeping like a baby, I felt so damn lucky (and pretty smug about it all actually). Then the dreaded 33 week hit. We had already been told I was carrying a big baby but almost overnight it felt like I had grown humungous. First trimester symptoms returned (along with back ache from baby weight and shoulder ache from the biggest tits known to mankind), headaches, nausea but most noticeably the over whelming feeling of being bloody knackered all the time. However, what trumps all of these and laughs in their faces, are the raging, psychotic pregnancy hormones.
Now I have had periods since my teens like many other women on the planet but never, ever, have I felt hormonal like I currently do. It’s like being taken over by an actual beast. I don’t feel in control of my emotional state. And I pride myself on my self control, my calmness, my ability to reflect and see others’ points of view. It’s all gone out of the window. Zero tolerance, zero patience and zero desire to socialize with any human beings. Motivation is a thing of the past as its also at least 100 degrees outside and I stick to every single object I sit on at the moment. I resemble that of a beetle on its back when I attempt to get up from anything I have sat on. I am generally a clumsy person but as I am now essentially a human kangaroo I am walking in to tables, door frames and even misjudging sitting on the toilet seat. Last night I stubbed my little toe so hard I literally saw stars. Yesterday I lost my vision in my right eye for half an hour which, like any heavily pregnant woman would perhaps think, meant I was having a stroke and going to die. But yet again, probably just another pregnancy symptom that just goes unexplained. On top of feeling like a walking water balloon, throughout mostly the third trimester (and well, all of my pregnancy actually) I have had to listen to wise advice from others who feel compelled to give it whether I like it or not. Now I know these people are only ‘trying’ to help but really some of the ‘advice’ and comments have been truly, well, comical (that’s if I have had a sense a humour at time of deliverance which, let’s be real here, is not likely.) Here are the top ten contenders:
‘Say goodbye to ever sleeping again’. Helpful. I already feel like shit so just throw a little bit more garbage on to my already stinking pile of despair that I’m currently experiencing.
‘Have you got everything you need, you do know you will need lots of nappies, baby wipes, do you have cotton wool? A crib? A buggy?’ Well no we don’t have any of that because we are going to have the baby and just leave her lying on the floor in a pile of baby shit and sick.
‘Your body will never be the same again’. Never mind my body I have been in battle with that for long enough (and please, don’t be mindful I am recovering from an eating disorder), do you want to point out that my vagina will be like a bucket more to the point?
‘Ooh you don’t look very big’ or ‘ooh you look very big’ – neither are helpful. The first got my worried I am going to have a midget baby and the second an oversized man baby resembling sloth from the Goonies.
‘Yours and Alex’s relationship will never be the same again.’ So not ONLY am I going to never sleep, I am also going to have an unrecognisable body, a midget/sloth baby, be completely under-prepared AND a different husband as well?? WHY did I ever get pregnant in the first place?!?
‘Say goodbye to sex’. Cause I really want to speak to you, almost a complete stranger, about my sex life. Say one more thing to me and say goodbye to your genitals.
‘Be careful not to lose your identity’. My identity has ALREADY been lost! I am not the independent, go getting, young, fit, energetic always-having-sex person I was before – I am, quite evidently, a human elephant.
‘You will lose all your freedom when the baby is here so you may as well go on plenty of date nights, have lots of sex and shower freely while you can – as you won’t be able to do any of that when she arrives.’ How has anyone EVER had a wash?? How has anyone EVER fallen pregnant again?? Having a baby clearly is the end of my life.
On MY babies’ clothes – ‘You won’t be dressing her in THAT will you?’ or ‘If I see her wearing bell bottom jeans I am going to rip those off of her’ or ‘You have to make sure you wash all of her clothes before she wears them AND make sure it is conditioner made for new babies.’ Don’t ever tell me how to dress my own first child, I will put her in a pumpkin outfit if I feel its suitable. I also planned on washing her clothes in fibre glass, just for extra affect.
And at the TOP OF THE CHARTS – On speaking honestly about feeling like this is going on forever, pregnancy lasts FOREVER whilst on the brink of tears (standard) ‘Well, you should count yourself lucky you’re not an elephant, elephants are pregnant for two years’. Nope I am not an elephant, and I have no idea how or why that’s going to help me one iota in expressing how I currently feel about FEELING like an elephant. I have actually heard this three times now. THREE TIMES. From DIFFERENT people.
So there you have it. A count down of the most helpful advice I have heard over my time being pregnant, mostly in the latter stages. I must however say that if you are reading this and you were one of those individuals whom offered me your sound advice – I get it. I get why you said what you said. Logically I understand that anything said was from personal experience with the motive of attempting to help. So thanks, you have in fact given me the material for this article anyway!
After now being pregnant for a whole 34 weeks and 4 days I can categorically confirm that I am in absolute awe of every single woman on this planet that has been pregnant and given birth. The new found respect I have for my own mother is phenomenal. She gave birth to FOUR children, who at one point were all under 5. Mum you are my new hero. So because of this knowledge as well I felt compelled to write this article to show how pregnancy can really feel. I do hope that any women reading this can relate. And any men well, maybe it will give you a smidgen of what us women have to go through to produce a perfect pink bundle of joy. And that’s even before they arrive.
Now I have to stop writing as my right hand has gone completely numb and I am in so much pain because it is so bloated and I can’t bend my fingers, as are both my feet, face and lower back –much like that of Professor Klump. My beautiful bundle of joy has just rolled over my bladder and I have recently sneezed so I must visit the toilet to check the damage I have made.
Thanks for reading!
Lucy da Silva