I’ve woken up today from yet another dream that I was pregnant, and yet again, I woke up believing it to be real. Well, considering four years ago, my amazing surgeon carved out my womb like a boss, we know that’s not possible. Although I’d prefer to be pregnant than on the menopause right now, trust me, we all joke about hot flushes but, once you actually do get them for real, they’re no laughing matter.
So it got me to thinking about pregnancy and what I would do differently had I actually been given the chance to do it all again.
I can’t remember if I’ve said it before or not but, I was unaware I was pregnant until just over six months into pregnancy. Having always been at least a skinny size 6, missing periods was common because for me, I would have them at any given time, I’d always had an erratic cycle, sometimes I’d have six in a row, other times I’d skip one then have another for seven weeks. It just hasn’t occurred to me that I could be pregnant . I remember always having sore nipples but put that down to the fact I might have been wearing the wrong bra. It was only during a conversation with my Mother and sister that I was TOLD I was pregnant.
My sister had complained that she was getting fat as all 13 year olds believe at some point. In protest, I showed her my new found roll of fat in a bid to make her feel better. Now,my Mum was never any good at listening unless it was about her so looking back, I’m shocked she was taking notice at all, but,, she took a look at my “roll of fat” and told me to lie on the floor. And there it was, said fat roll was actually a small mound with a brown line right down the centre.
The next day, I marched into the GP surgery still adamant I wasn’t pregnant. And proclaimed in the exact words “My Mum thinks I’m up the duff”. One look at me, in my sky blue, reversible Adidas coat that I proudly brought from a Catalogue and was now bursting from the seams, was all it needed for my GP to laugh and tell me my Mum was right and without even undoing my coat, he’d estimate I was at least six months and a few weeks. Bless you young, naive, 19 year old Emma, believing all those little kicks were just trapped wind and the brown line was a fart breaking through the skin. I know. I know.
Some might say I had it lucky, no morning sickness, no long winded pregnancy and no shit skin. I’d gone straight to what was meant to be the “glowing stage”.
I was 19, Beth’s Dad and I weren’t exactly in the happiest of relationships and to be truthful with you, when I told him I was pregnant, he put down the phone and refused to speak to me for a whole day. I just felt alone. I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know where to start. When Beth’s Dad did contact me, the first question was “is it mine?”. And that was how it was for the following three months, it was relentless, everyday I was asked the same question and everyday I was asked for a DNA test. Now I’m not Baby Daddy Bashing, the golden truth is, he made me feel shit. When I suddenly started to pile the weight on and get sad about the slug looking stretch marks on my hips, he’d call me “Ratty Fatty”, I also had to quit work immediately as the GP was concerned at how tired and aneamic I’d become so, as I hadn’t been in my job long enough to claim maternity, it left me with no money, if I asked him for money to buy an outfit that fitted, he’d tell me we couldn’t afford it but would go out every weekend and be drinking solid on three day benders without coming home or ringing to let me know. I even remember having not long given birth to Beth, sitting in the bath with my Mum washing the blood off me, he waltzed in and said “Well I don’t need a DNA test now, she looks just like me!”, not exactly the best thing to say to a woman who’s just had an 11 hour labour with only gas & air for pain relief. I found out years later that he did the same to the Mother of his two sons years later so I know now that his sense of humour has no boundaries and it was what it was. Luckily for him, I’ve learnt to forgive but I’ve never forgotten and to this day I still feel robbed of the nice side of pregnancy.
Some pregnant women get really rampant during those months but I can assure you, for the next three months, I wasn’t going to let him near me. That carried on for the following ten months after Beth was born until I left him. Even the sight of him taking a pee would make me gag and I genuinely believe I’d have done a “Bobbitt” and lobbed it off if he’d so much as tried to bring that thing near me.
I didn’t fully enjoy my three months of pregnancy, I felt ugly, fat and scared. I suppose that’s why I was always obsessing about getting pregnant again, yes, I wanted a baby but I also wanted to feel all the amazing things other women felt and I wanted it to be with a man who made me feel special and loved. That’s not to say I completely hated it, I have always wanted to be a Mum, in my life I’ve only wanted two things, to be a Mother and a wife. I couldn’t wait to give a little baby all the unconditional love in the world and have that love returned. So just to have the gift of being pregnant was always counted as a blessing. I often feel we take it for granted at times and to be honest, I understand that now more than ever.
I get quite a few messages asking about my pregnancy and for advice, Beth is almost 14 so it feels like so long ago now and I don’t feel I’m very qualified to give advice but, here are some of the things I’d advise any pregnant woman and the reasons why I feel I have can give that advise.
1) You are carrying a baby. That makes you an instant Goddess so do everything you can to feel like one. Most pregnant woman, feel like I did, frumpy and unattractive. Treat yourself to a brand new hair cut, go to your make up counter and ask them to try new products on you that suit your ever changing pregnant skin. If the money is there, buy yourself a couple of those products even if it’s one pay packet at a time. And if you can go one better and go for a pregnancy pamper at a Spa, do it. I always wish I had done it
2) Don’t be like me and wear one outfit through the whole pregnancy. Not only will it fit poorly, but you’ll feel crap. Go to the sales or to Primark and fill up a basket, or, if you’re a fancy pants, shop wherever the hell you like and buy some beautiful clothes that suit your wonderful new shape. They don’t have to maternity clothes, they can just be a few sizes bigger, but make sure you have a few staples in your wardrobe that you can rely on. I’m not sure why, but I always think pregnant women look stunning in a white smock dress or in simple dungarees.
3) When it comes to your hospital bag, remember one thing, you are going to go in that place and do the most amazing thing a human being could ever do, so fill it with things not only for your baby, but for you. So whoever is your birthing partner, make sure they know their duties, massage oil is a must for that first hour when you don’t mind being touched, anytime after…touch her if you dare! But seriously, new pjs or nighties are important. I didn’t have new ones and gave birth in a tatty nighty I’d had for years and felt crap. And yes, my coming home outfit was my only outfit..black bootleg trousers and a black polo neck jumper! It doesn’t bode well if you feel shit before the parenting journey has even kick started, trust me.
4) Embrace the extra weight. I went from a size 6 and finished up a size 16. That weight will go in its own time, don’t spend the whole of your pregnancy stressing over it, instead, eat the cake, single handedly destroy the share bag of doritos and don’t share that cheesecake with anyone! It’s not a six portion cheesecake, it’s a lady carrying baby portion only! You deserve it, your womb deserves it!
5) Take photos of your pregnant self. Take ten a day if you want to. Just please, take photos. I don’t have a single one of me pregnant, I think there’s literally one kicking around but it’s in the hands of an ex friend who I wouldn’t piss on if she was on fire and to be honest, she probably threw darts at it many years ago. You may not feel super amazing but you’ll regret not having photos to look back on and, to be honest, it makes me sad that Beth will never have a photo of me carrying her.
6) Go on dates, enjoy your time alone together before every moment is interrupted by the smell of shit or, the boob starts spraying. Yes, you are the one carrying the baby but couple time is important too. Your man needs attention from time to time. It’s so easy to focus on being parents that being a couple gets forgotten. Go on dates but talk about everything except pregnancy and being parents. There is life outside of that role.
7) Don’t hide away, on days when you feel lethargic and not fit for purpose, take a walk, go for a brunch with friends or even baby yoga. I spent all my time alone in bed. I regret making the most of those precious three months, I just wasted them and didn’t appreciate what a gift I had.
8) Baby names. As soon as you fall pregnant you need to accept two things, first of all, random people will rub your swelling belly. People you don’t even know will walk up to you in Lidl and will think they have the right to touch you, but that’s ok, grab them right back in the sex part and see if they like being violated, unfortunately, if they look like they’re enjoying it, you’re fucked, so my advise is simply RUN, WADDLE, whatever. Just put down your basket and leave. The other thing is baby names, everyone has an opinion on them, they’ll either have a list of names you should have or maybe, you’ve copied their baby names even though they’re not even pregnant. There’s the ones who disagree with you naming your child Stardust Honeyblossom Six Nuggets Jones, but it’s none of their business, you just need to be prepared for the judgemental dickheads that like to voice an opinion. Choose your names wisely, never on a whim. I always liked George for a boy but about ten years ago, I was adamant I’d either have a boy and name him Seth or Noah and, if it was a girl I’d call her Willow or Darcie . Beth’s name was chosen purely because it’s the only one we agreed on, she was almost Sofia or Molly. I’m still not sure at times if Beth was the right choice and maybe I should have spent more time choosing something I was 100% in love with.
9) Don’t worry about your dignity anymore, you’re about to have dozens of strangers fist your foof, in fact, I was pretty sure at one point, my midwife practically had head in there, so, if you wanna shit on that birthing table, woman just do it! They’ve been poking at you for hours telling you it won’t be long, six hours later you’re still waiting so seriously, leaving them a poo parcel to clean up is the least they deserve. Don’t have a cow midwives if your reading this, it’s tongue in cheek and you guys are angels from above, but please, let us know when your about to shove your hand in there yeah?
10) This is your pregnancy, do it your way so long as it’s healthy and beneficial to you and your baby. If you want to listen to death metal whilst swinging from the chandelier whilst in labour, go for it, just bear in mind this is going to be your babies first bungee jump and I’m not sure it’s legal. But seriousy, do it all your own way. Being pregnant and giving birth is seriously amazing, it’s precious and it’s special, you make the choices with your partner, not the bloody neighbours or the Amazon delivery guy!
If I could go back and do it all again, I’d definitely take my own advice, but, at the same time, we are all different, some love being Keith Cheggers and pop babies out like they’re shelling peas, others hate it. Whatever, we are all still Goddeses.