I have always looked forward to having a second baby. Pregnancy is supposed to be a wonderful time in a woman’s life as her body nurtures new life and prepares to create a miracle of life from tiny cells. The actual experience is varied from woman to woman with some having a relatively easy time and others suffering the extremes of hormonal imbalances and body changes.
My first pregnancy passed in a blur with barely a recollection of the trimester milestones and changes in my body as my son grew. I always felt like I didn’t truly enjoy the pregnancy as I was struggling with so much turmoil in my life and the expectancy of new life only confounded it further. It wasn’t until I took my son home with me that the miracle and wonder of his creation and birth really truly hit me and I began to appreciate every mother and what she has to go through to experience the blessing of nurturing.
I therefore vowed to myself that my next pregnancy would take place on my terms, when I was good and ready and when I didn’t have too much going on in my life (as if that is even possible!). Best laid plans and all that! So I took my time, ensured that things were more or less in place in my life and decided, mid last year, that I was finally ready to take the plunge – Seven whole years later! In case you’re shaking your head or laughing at me and my naiveté, in my defense, I’m a bit of a control freak and I figured I needed some control over this particular pregnancy.
It came as no surprise when the test turned positive and there were no awkward conversations with the dreaded “we need to talk” phrase that turns most men into stone! It actually felt like a bit of an anti-climax – perhaps I was expecting drum rolls or something dramatic. The first trimester went by like a dream, much like what I had planned. I was lucky enough to experience zero morning (or any other time of the day for that matter) sickness and I didn’t even bother to see my gynecologist till I was ten weeks along. After all, I was now a seasoned expectant mother. The scan was predictable and my first peep at my little bun in the oven went exactly as planned.
So there I was, very pleased with myself and beautifully glowing with just the tiniest bump showing and I was the picture perfect mum-to-be. Nothing could possibly go wrong; after all I had planned this perfectly. Boy was I wrong! At exactly this point, life decided to do what it does best – laugh in the face of my plans. Shortly into my second trimester, I suddenly developed the worst case of acid reflux and heart burn known to humanity, the craziest mood swings and a deep aversion for social skills. I suddenly could not stand to be around anyone – people literally drove me crazy.
Meanwhile I was unable to sleep thanks to my displaced digestive system and every night was a choice between eating and sleeping! No antacid could sort me out and the only choice was to sleep with my upper body elevated, like patients do in hospitals. I have no clue why doctors would think that patients can possibly get any rest; honestly sleeping in an elevated position on your back is the equivalent of having a nightmare while you’re wide awake. So combine sleep deprivation, mood swings, a non-existent appetite and trying to keep my stomach acids where they belonged and I was basically a walking time bomb with a live fuse!
Suddenly my pregnancy had gone from being wonderful to my worst nightmare in the blink of an eye. I largely kept to myself and the few people who were unfortunate enough to cross my path deeply regret it to this day. I honestly did not like what I saw when I looked in the mirror and I am not referring to my physical state. I slowly realized that I could allow my condition to take over my life (for the next few months anyway) or I could do something about it. I had never been one of those people who believe that being pregnant is an excuse to get away with anything and I wasn’t about to start now.
With no small amount of difficulty I started to make a conscious effort to revert to my usual self. I made the effort to smile at people even when I didn’t feel like it. I ensured that I had my dinner as early as humanely possible to increase my chances of sleeping at night. Slowly by slowly I started to feel better about being pregnant and my energy levels gradually improved. I stopped making excuses and started taking action on things that I wanted to do. Including writing again which had become a casualty of my previously constant foul mood. I resumed my walking and my swimming. Most importantly I began to feel like myself again and I stopped blaming my (poor) pregnancy for all my woes.
What did I learn from all this? I will let you all know once I have my baby in another 3 months! :-)….Seriously though, I figured that I really cannot control everything; I will plan and God will laugh. When you think about it, carrying a little human in your body for nine months is the most unnatural natural thing ever! It’s bizarre to say the least and could only have been created by God. So the best way to cope is simply to take each hour of every day as it comes and to try and keep in mind that you’re really not yourself for those nine months. And that this really isn’t an excuse to be the worst person in the world.
Clearly I’m still learning but here are some more tips. Exercise when and if you can. Get enough rest. Take your supplements. Calcium really sorted out my muscle aches. Eat small, regular meals. Have a great support system. Someone who understands what you’re going through and will put up with your constantly changing moods without blowing a fuse. Keep yourself occupied – an idle mind is the best way to end up focusing on how crappy you are feeling in those low moments. Vent often. It’s important to speak about your conflicting emotions, of course to someone who understands. Don’t bottle stuff up, no matter how trivial it may seem. As long as it’s a big deal to you, it’s important. Map your own way, don’t be afraid to make your own rules. Each pregnancy is unique and so is each respective experience. Take time to look after yourself, you are the most important person in this equation; it will not be this way for much longer, especially when the baby gets here. Don’t be too hard on yourself either – you are just human.
I’m now happily (most of the time) back to enjoying the journey. Even when things don’t seem so easy I always remind myself that in this particular case, the end will truly justify the means. So come what may, I will take it in stride because when all is said and done, everything eventually comes to pass.