The Real And Honest Truth About Pregnancy That No One Shares With You
Google pregnancy and all you see are endless pictures of women looking down lovingly at their perfect stretch mark-free bumps. The truth is that's not really a reality for most women. What those perfect images don't show us is the baby slamming into her bladder a second later. Ouch.
Pregnancy is a time of blissful ignorance, mums to be are unaware of the mayhem that lies ahead and more experienced mums have suffered a bout of amnesia and forgot about the arduousness lunacy that lies ahead.
Yes, that's me every-time. Caught up in the dream of another beautiful little baby, forgetting about the reality - the childbirth, the dirty nappies, the tantrums, the monumental task of raising another human being.
So, what's the real and honest truth about what goes on in pregnancy? The trouble is, no one who's actually been pregnant wants to scare you with the brutal truth, so they leave you to blindly go through the process and hope you manage to navigate the discomfort and the emotional outbursts better than they did.
Just 3 years ago, I was pregnant for the fourth time (did I mention I may suffer from amnesia?) and impending child-birth loomed over my head. But before that terrifying reality crippled me, I had to survive many months of strangers prodding at my belly, giving me unsolicited outdated advice and asking me personal questions, such as,
'Do you know what you're having?', (a human hopefully but you never know maybe a baby zebra or a cute little lamb?)
'Was the baby planned?', (WTF? Did you just go there?)
'Are you having twins?! You are sooo big!' (I do own a mirror.)
and my personal favourite,
'How the fuck are you going to cope with four kids you absolute fruitcake?' (Can't really argue with that.)
**Pregnancy is a wonderful prelude to discover the real characters of the people around you. In your absolute vulnerability, you get to see who are the insensitive tits who smirk at your 'fatness' and you get to see who may actually be useful to you post-birth. Take note of the practical people who offer to make you cups of tea and seem genuinely supportive, you'll need them.
I'm one of those women who becomes a large bump with a head, arms and legs. There's nothing subtle, mysterious or enigmatic about pregnancy and certainly not my pregnancies. My womb bursts out of her usual home with conviction. Hey world, I'm back!
I'm endlessly fascinated by different bump sizes. There are amazing women who to me only look like they have had a big bowl of pasta and a bit too much wine and they are literally days away from giving birth to an 8lb baby. Where was the baby hiding?
My bump, in contrast, is a complete show-off, hard to miss and even harder to turn over in bed – I've considered hiring a crane to help me change position in bed. I do get stuck on my back a lot. Like a forlorn beached whale on a deserted island. That's who I become. My husband has been known to help me turn over many times over the years. He knows the bigger I get, the less mobile I become. It's a sexy look.
'I can't move! I literally can't turn to the side. Help!' I whisper helplessly in the middle of the night to my husband as he snores contentedly beside me. 'Don't you dare ignore me, you did this to me you bastard!'
I've even been known to consider a bedpan – this last pregnancy, it was looking more appealing as the weeks went by. You try hauling creaking and aching hips out of bed at 2 am for yet another pee. Maybe the Victorians had the right idea?
Even more intriguing than comparing bumps is the ludicrously varied hormonal mood swings. I've noted my concentration of hormones has been different with each baby. I've had two pregnancies where I was an emotional wreck. I'd cry if a restaurant had no tables left, I'd scream down the phone if my maternity size was out of stock, 'what do you mean my size is not in stock, you better hunt it down and get it for me!' and I'd sob uncontrollably whenever an advert came on the telly about abandoned cats. I don't even like cats, I'm more of a dog person.
In short, it was a relief for everybody in my close circle to get the baby out and for my hormones to calm down. **However, can I just say, it takes many, many months for the hormones to calm down post-birth. Sorry, but it isn't an instant improvement as soon as the baby is ejected. You're coming down from a major hormonal high that sustained a healthy pregnancy, the 'come down' takes time. Some would argue they are never the same again emotionally (and physically) but that's a story for another day.
My last pregnancy, I was yoga-zen-serene in comparison. I must have been (embarrassingly) noticeably serene as people were openly commenting, 'You're just glowing, this baby is agreeing with you!', 'You seem so calm, so calm this time.'
It's pretty ironic as really my fourth pregnancy should be the pregnancy where I have a mental breakdown and shout at sales assistants about maternity clothing. It was baby number 4 after all. Husband was constantly bracing for my emotional outburst but I was nothing but blissfully chilled out. Okay, okay, of course, I had a few moments but nothing like before.
My tranquil aura was not the result of first pregnancy blissful ignorance. After three babies I guess I was completely aware of what was coming ahead. I realised life was about to get messy but I didn't really care about the mess. I was on a ship that was definitely going to crash headstrong into a rock and there I was just looking up admiring the stars.
When I wasn't quietly contemplating the massive life changes to come, farting due to all that excessive gas (yeah, thanks for that baby), eating ginger to ease the sickness and behaving rather alarmingly like a composed Buddha, I was writing a list. Endless lists. Because that's what we do. That's how we pretend to ourselves that we have some kind of control in the process of birthing a human. We don't, of course, we have little control over how our own story will end. We have taken a leap of faith into the arms of mother nature and we place our trust in our own powerful feminine bodies.
We hope, we pray, we cry, we shout, we wait, we love, we nourish, we grow and we write our to-do lists.
Next blog will be about all those extensive pre-baby lists and so get your notepad out mama!