I honestly never saw myself sharing things about pregnancy on my blog, but then again… I didn’t expect to be growing a human in 2019. Life is full of surprises!
Since I shared my first motherhood blog post, the response has been amazing with plenty of food for thought. I had so many messages of support and empathy from internet pals who felt the same way – all amazing women who are of a similar age, career and social situation. It really struck me that society is failing a big group of females – the future of motherhood. So I decided that it was really important for me to continue to share what I felt was relevant. I spent hours googling everything about babies, but found the most useful information via bloggers (which I’ll share, don’t worry!). So, welcome to my journey:
P is for… Pregnant! I was 2 days pregnant here and had no idea!
The First Trimester
As I wasn’t expecting to be pregnant I think I was quite late in terms of finding out: I was almost 8 weeks – that’s over half way through the first trimester (up to 13 weeks – everything is measured in weeks btw). It was probably for the best though, because I didn’t really enjoy those first weeks of being pregnant so I was blissfully unaware in the beginning. Looking back now, I was a hormonal mess and found it really hard to process the changes to our future. I guess that’s pretty normal for a surprise baby though – it’s a big shock to the system!
Before finding out I was pregnant, I honestly knew nothing about babies, children or motherhood. I’d only held one baby (my niece) for about 10 minutes and was pretty terrified of these creatures which I didn’t know how to communicate with. My experience of children in general was really limited, and when I did spend time with them I felt under pressure to perform… just because I was a female of child bearing age. (Ridiculous, I know). I didn’t know many ‘mums’, and I didn’t feel like I could really relate to them because I didn’t feel like I had a maternal bone in my body. (Although later, one of my friends helped me to realise that I DO have a maternal side, just not in the traditional way that I was holding myself up to.) I’d been following Hannah Gale on Instagram since before she was pregnant, and that was pretty much the only injection of motherhood into my daily life.
I’ve always been someone that wants to succeed at whatever I do, but motherhood was a complete mystery to me so I didn’t know if I could ‘succeed’ at it. I didn’t really know what I was signing up for, yet I didn’t want to fail… for me or my child. As we began to tell friends & family, everyone was saying: ‘You’re going to be such a great Dad!’ to Jack, which really affected me because I just needed someone to tell me that I was going to be a great Mum. I know that’s totally selfish because I agreed with them and was proud of Jack, but I couldn’t help feeling upset. I didn’t want it to be a competition pitting us against each other but people don’t realise how damaging their comments can be, even if they’re said with the best intentions.
Another thing that I struggled with, was the idea of having to give up being ‘me’ to become ‘mum’. I didn’t think I could continue to be myself, just with a baby too. Society traditionally says that the Mum has to pause her career to prioritise the baby and I wasn’t ready to go along with that. Having written my University dissertation about ‘Women in Design’, I was well aware of the ‘choice’ that women had to make between having a career OR a family, and also the lack of women in senior roles because many had decided to focus on their family. I don’t think either option is wrong or right, but I didn’t want to be forced into a decision – I didn’t want to lose control of my life. I watched ‘Is there ever a right time to have a baby?’ – a documentary by Cherry Healy about 10 times (and cried every time) just to reassure myself that actually, there isn’t a ‘right time… it’s whatever is right for me.
Blissfully unaware… 2 weeks pregnant and no idea in Margate
Morning sickness. Ok, so let’s start with the most expected of symptoms. Although, I don’t know why they call it ‘morning’ sickness because the nausea was an all-day event for me (and many other women, according to google). I only actually threw up once, but that put me off cups of tea for a few weeks! I feel like there’s a badge of honour mentality with morning sickness – top marks if you’re throwing up, but you got off lightly if you just felt sick. Well, I don’t know about that… it’s horrible feeling sick but not being able to be sick. Each to their own – I don’t think either is more or less valid.
Exhausted. I was absolutely shattered even though I wasn’t really doing anything. I hate naps (they make me feel ill), but I would fall asleep a couple of times a day no matter how hard I tried to stay awake. In the end I gave up trying to fight the tiredness and embraced the naps.
Aches & Pains. Never thought I’d write this on my blog, but in the name of honesty and all… one of the first symptoms I noticed (even before I’d taken a pregnancy test) was super achey boobs. I felt stupid for not realising, but I was patiently waiting for my period so I’ll let myself off. One of the most painful things I’ve experienced in my life (so far anyway – not been through childbirth yet!) are leg cramps. I’ll wake up at 2am in so much pain because my calf muscle in my leg is tensing. There’s nothing you can do other than try and breathe through the pain until it relaxes in 3 or so minutes. And you can try to go back to sleep, if you’re lucky. But I wouldn’t be able to walk properly for a few days – hobbling around in London is not ideal.
Bad skin. I was so lucky through out my teen years – I had really clear skin and never really experienced acne or bad spots. But looks like the hormones have caught up with me because I’ve had some pretty persistent spots. Like horrible, angry, painful ones on my forehead, jaw line and neck. Admittedly, I don’t have a great skincare routine, but I’ve been trying to moisturise a bit more to keep the wrinkles at bay. I think eye bags are inevitable as a parent though?
Hard belly. I’ve always carried weight on my stomach, so when my belly started to get firmer I was pretty excited. Obviously having a baby doesn’t get rid of the extra fat that’s sitting there, but I was looking forward to being able to wear tighter fitting clothes without feeling so self conscious. I didn’t really develop a bump in the first 13 weeks, but I would get really bloated in the evenings which made me look pregnant ha
Food aversions. I’d heard about women experiencing weird food habits, but I didn’t expect a lot to change really. Being pregnant at Christmas was interesting… obviously I stopped drinking alcohol, which was fine because I’m not a big drinker anyway, but I found myself repulsed by the idea of eating cheese. Cheese is usually a big part of life/Christmas for me, so I was a bit sad about that. I also couldn’t stomach a cup of tea, which I was sad about as that was part of my daily routine. The only thing I really wanted to drink was water, which was obviously great because it’s healthy but also a bit boring after a while.
Mama Mural – Painting my first outdoor mural in Shoreditch in November at 6 weeks pregnant. I didn’t know at this point and braved the cold without a coat, oops!
Zero motivation. I had no motivation to do anything. I struggled to get up in the mornings and then I just moped around most of the day. I felt trapped in limbo because I’d been making plans for what I wanted to achieve career-wise in 2019, but didn’t know if I could do any of it now that I was having a baby. Was there any point in me trying to do anything? Should I just accept ‘my life was over’ and I was going to be ‘just a mum’ from now on.
Anti-social. I really didn’t feel like myself and became a bit of a hermit: I didn’t want to spend time with myself, or anyone else. I didn’t leave the flat for a month and avoided social events, finding them too overwhelming and tiring. And because nobody knew I was pregnant, I couldn’t explain why I didn’t want to see people – my friends probably thought I was being really rude.
Crying. I think I cried everyday for a month. I just couldn’t stop crying. I guess it was a mix of the hormones, the fear of the unknown and the fear of change. I felt quite helpless – like everything was out of my control.
Worrying. After we’d been to the doctors to start the process, it felt like FOREVER until we got any kind of information – I didn’t feel qualified to be having a baby! Our first scan was over a month away, and I was constantly worrying if the baby was ok because I’d been drinking and doing quite physical work (painting murals – outside in the freezing November cold and also high up on scaffolding at a 9 story house with no lift!) without knowing that I was pregnant. I kept looking at my body for reassurance, and when my belly started to get a bit hard I took that as a sign that everything was progressing as it should be.
The day after everything changed! Back in Margate, but this was the day after I found out that I was pregnant (8 weeks) – still smiling but inside I’m absolutely terrified.
Happy New Year/ Life! 12 weeks pregnant – I was on pineapple juice and the old ‘antibiotics’ excuse at our New Years Eve party.
Keeping my sanity
When I couldn’t tell my friends what I was going through (because it was ‘too early’ in the pregnancy), I turned to the internet for reassurance. I downloaded the Pregnancy + and Emma’s Diary apps, which are both free and have lots of information perfect for anyone that knows literally 0 about pregnancy (and freebie sample packs that you can pick up from Boots). They also tell you what size your baby is each week using fruits, sweet and animals – it keeps things fun and will fascinate your friends and family ha
It also just so happened that there was a wave of ladies that I followed on the internet who were announcing/ sharing their pregnancy experiences just as I needed all of the information.
And I delved into blog posts and Instagram updates from:
– Hannah Gale – Blog and Instagram
– Daisy from Pretty Green Tea – Blog
– Sarah Akwisombe – Instagram
– Teri from The Lovely Drawer – Instagram and Blog
– Kim from Finest Imaginary – Instagram
– Nancy Straughan – Instagram
– Zoe Pearson – Instagram
– Uli – Instagram
– Verity – Instagram
Blimey, that’s probably enough to get you started! The first 13 weeks are intense because everything is new and there’s so much to learn, but I guess that’s why we get 9 months to grow the baby and process everything!? ha
I’m already halfway through writing part two: the second Trimester!