Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The lessons I've learnt whilst being Pregnant

40 weeks.  Geeze.  It sounds like no time at all, but it has felt like 2 years!  I've spent the past few weeks of maternity leave thinking about those 40 weeks - the highs and lows - the adorable and gross - all of it.  

Pregnancy is a life changing time - not just because you are preparing for a little bundle of joy, but because you are changing.  It's taken me nearly 30 years to work out who I am, and over the course of a few weeks, I am a completely different person.  

I've learnt a few lessons though out my time of being pregnant, and before Baby McBerry makes his or her arrival, I thought I would share them here.

1. Think you understand pregnancy?  Think again.

Pregnancy kicks your ass - I mean REALLY kicks your ass - and all current mothers know this. They just don't tell you all of those little gems that are too unspeakable/embarrassing/horrific until it's too late. The world just wouldn't repopulate if women shared all of the dirty little secrets of pregnancy....at least I think that's the maternal game.

I have experienced loads of fun "symptoms" and when I mention them to my friends who have had children (in horror I say these things), they all smile - knowingly - and recall their similar encounters.  I feel like pregnancy has been this great big secret which you aren't allowed to fully know until you have been there.  I'm sorry - but I'm incredibly empathetic.  I can totally appreciate all of these things without having to go through it myself.    I'm thinking "THANKS FOR THE HEADS UP!" but at the same time "get it" a whole lot more having experienced it for myself.

2. As good of intentions as you have - some things just don't go according to plan....others do.  

I was going to be really fit and healthy during pregnancy - eating right and exercising. I was dead set on antenatal yoga and going for walks. I was going to ensure my diet was balanced, I wasn't going to drink coffee or alcohol and I was going to ensure I was eating all of those "Folic Friendly" foods to ensure Baby McBerry had the best whilst growing up. 

Did this "healthy living" happen?  
Of course not. 

Hyperemesis destroyed any chance of me doing much of anything.  I ate crap - why?  Because unhealthy, salty snack foods were all I could eat. The very thought of salad had me running for the toilet for months.  Tortilla chips, on the other hand, they went down a treat.

Yoga?  Yea right- we live in the middle of freaking nowhere.  The only chance I was going to have to get to yoga was if I quit my job (because everything is offered at 10:30 on a Tuesday - full time working women clearly don't need antenatal support) or if I got a bank loan to pay for the travel costs of getting to a class - the nearest an hour away.  Youtube classes worked for awhile....but that is nowhere near as a good or helpful as the real thing. 

I also vowed to not put anything into my system which I didn't want to pass along to Baby.  Medication for instance.  
I was on a lot of drugs to control the nausea and vomiting - and I was on them for about three months.    The drugs were needed to stop my vomiting.  End of.  If I didn't take the medication, I would have ended up in hospital a lot more often.  

Can you imagine the damage of not being able to keep anything down? The effects of dehydration and a lack of nutrients were far more scary to think about than a drug which doesn't cross the placenta.  At the end of the day, medicine has come a long way - if B tells me it's ok, I'm sure it's ok. 

3. Bonding doesn't come naturally

I've got two weeks to go and I'm still up and 2:00 AM and wondering how on earth I'm going to be a mother.  I'm not a mother.  I'm Jen.  They've got the wrong person because "mama" is just not me. 

 I was worried I was going to be a terrible mother as I didn't feel connected to the baby.  I did a lot of reading and you know what I found out?

Plenty of women don't have that connection.  In fact, many who suffered with sickness as I had actually admitting to disliking the baby (GASP).  This isn't a sign that they will be a bad mother, nor is it any cause to call Child Protective Services.

Bonding takes time.  For me, a lot of my bonding came from writing this blog - especially my letters.  I dedicated all of my thoughts - not half of them with the other half thinking about dinner or work - to Baby.  I became more aware of movement and found myself starting feel that warmth of motherhood - but mostly looking forward to it.  Silly things like taking a bath or doing Baby McBerry's laundry or decorating the nursery made me feel like this is all really happening and it's all going to be just fine.  I still don't feel ready - but ask me again in a few weeks - I'm sure I'll have a different idea about Baby McB. 

4.  Those protruding limbs are the coolest thing you will ever experience - FACT

At first, this scared the bejesus out of me.  It was sometimes painful when Baby stretched and it's foot was attempting to puncture my bladder.  But lo and behold - I have grown to love it (probably the only thing about pregnancy I have loved).  So many women have told me that they felt a real sense of loss when baby was in their arms as opposed to in their womb.  I can totally appreciate that.  That sense of loneliness after spending 40 weeks or so as "two."

5.  No one has any idea what they are doing.  Really.

I felt so stupid as I didn't  don't know anything about babies. I've not been around babies - I don't typically get to have cuddles or need to change nappies.  I don't dress or bathe them - and I hardly ever have to buy for them.  All of my friends in America had babies when I moved to England - the friends I have in England either have older children or haven't gotten to that stage just yet.  Everyone makes everything look so easy - but even they admit it - No one knows what the heck they are doing.

I don't care how many times you have changed a nappy.  You don't know how to change YOUR baby's nappy until it comes out and you try it a couple of times.  Dressing them?  Bathing them?  It's all the same.  You can't possibly know until you try.  ALL babies are different.  ALL babies like their own thing.  People look like they know what they are doing, but they are just at petrified and panicked as I am.  And they have practiced. A lot. 

6.  You will feel horrible about yourself.  And that's OK.

Controversial or not.  Women say they feel fat when they are pregnant.  I know it's not "fat" - but "fat" is how you feel.  You are swollen. You are heavy.  You are struggling to walk.  It takes so much effort to roll over in bed. You can't fit into anything - clothes, shoes, SOCKS.  You just feel fat and horrible. Your hair is doing something you can't even describe whilst your skin is spotty.  You are getting loads of stretch marks all over and skin tags keep popping up and there is just no stopping them!

It's exhausting.

Pregnancy glow? That's a load of rubbish. I care about my appearance and I have found it difficult to get bigger.  I have cried over how I look in the mirror.  I have cringed whilst watching a CCTV clip where I saw myself waddle across the school courtyard.  I don't look like me - I'm someone else - and I don't like it.

With that said, I have beamed with pride when I have found a maternity outfit which actually makes me look good.  I've learnt to tame my hair. I've found makeup which makes my skin look more alive. I've worked it out. I can't do anything about my belly or chest or feet but I will be able to soon.  Everyone says we should feel beautiful, but the reality is we won't feel like that until we figure "beauty" out for ourselves.  Yes, we are gorgeous and strong and we should be proud - but we also need to realise that for ourselves.

7.  It's a members only club. But you are welcomed with open arms. 

There's something about babies that just makes people more talkative or interested. I've felt so accepted into the "mum community" from the second my belly began to show. People will talk to you in the grocery store over the type of formula that worked for them. They will give you tips on how to save money or how to make life a bit easier. They will ask about how you're feeling and genuinely be interested. They will offer advice or pearls of wisdom -- all in an attempt to put you at ease rather than lecture you. They wish you luck when you tell them your due date was yesterday.  People DO look out for you - make sure you don't trip or ask if you need things carried or offer you a seat. People get it. It's actually a great feeling. 

My mom and Me - nearly 30 years ago.

I think Baby McBerry will be gracing us with it's presence any day now, and then we will be headed down a whole new path:  parenthood.  I cannot wait to see what is in store for us. Whether it be good or bad, it will be an adventure and B and I are totally ready for it.

Thank you to everyone for your support and your kind words throughout the past nine months.   You have made it all so much easier and I've felt part of a huge, virtual family - always getting advice and encouragement when I needed it.  Stay tuned for our Reflections about Baby!

We shall see you all when we are officially a Party of THREE!

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