Back to the beginning… so, about a week after coming back from honeymoon I knew something was different, before a test would confirm it – I knew I was pregnant, (for one my boobs hurt so bad). At first it was an exciting secret between me and Mr T but soon the fear, sickness and crippling tiredness would kick in and so the rollercoaster began. I learned ways to cope with the sickness and some days were better than others, Mr T would bring me crackers or peanut butter sandwiches in bed before I got up. I survived on a diet of crackers, apples, grapes and peanut butter sandwiches, 90% of what I would normally eat was off the menu. Some particular highlights were being sick so hard I burst the capillaries in my face and neck, having to dash out of a management meeting to be sick, nearly throwing up over the dinner of pie and beans Mr T had lovingly prepared for me, being sick due to smell dog food being served at the opposite end of the house and falling out with Mr T over a fried egg sandwich, again because the smell of it made me sick.
I went to the doctors and they refused to give me anything for the sickness, they recommended Gaviscon and lots of rest, as I was keeping some food down there was little risk to the baby compared to the risk of taking medication. During this time I became terribly overwhelmed and depressed, my relationship with Mr T was becoming increasingly strained and it felt like I was unravelling at the seams. Being ill long term is bound to get even the most chipper of us feeling blue, combine that with the pregnancy hormones, tiredness, challenges at home and trying to hold down a full time job, it was really difficult. I was worried about everything, the sickness, the baby, the screening tests, my job, Mr T’s lack of job, the state of disrepair of our home – it was all too much. I was referred by the midwife for counselling and further help, but it was months before I would receive anything that would have been useful. There is a lack of help generally for those with mental health issues, pre-natal depression is even less well catered for, two brilliant groups that are tackling this are http://www.mothersformothers.co.uk/ and http://www.pandasfoundation.org.uk/.
This was not the glowing, happy, joyful pregnancy experience I had wished for or expected. I had watched others shine through their pregnancy, positively glowing and I wondered why wasn’t my experience the same. It was hard to reconcile my feelings, I so wanted a baby but I didn’t want to go through what I was at the time. I felt guilty because in another sense pregnancy was so easy for us, it just happened, I thought of those who try for months and years and those who never get pregnant, I felt like an utter shit for not being over the moon, but apart from the amazing miracle of being pregnant, the presence of this awesome little being inside, the rest of it felt pretty crappy.
Fortunately our circumstances changed, by 16 weeks pregnant my morning sickness eased off, I could eat more foods, we’d got past the first 12 weeks where miscarriage risk is highest, Mr T had got a great new job and I was starting to feel human again. We got through the screening tests, our little person was developing well and I began to relax and enjoy my pregnancy. I started making up for what felt like lost time and this next part of pregnancy has honestly been magical, experiencing kicks, seeing my body change and learning in preparation for birth and beyond. This is the light at the end of that very long dark tunnel.
I look back on those early weeks now a part of me wants to brush them off and say it was fine, I got through it after all, but I don’t want to do a disservice to what it was like going through those weeks or what it’s like for others who have even worse sickness than I did or other challenges to face. I know others who said their pregnancy was great and who on the outside seemed to sail through, only to find out that they had terrible heart burn and back pain that kept them awake every night. There seemed to be this great façade that needed to be kept up, that pregnancy was a breeze and that you had somehow failed if you weren’t blossoming. It’s utter crap and I wish I’d have known it sooner so I had one less thing to feel bad / worry about. Ladies, we’ve got to be more honest about our experiences and not lie to each other about our reality. I’m not asking you all to moan about every little ailment, but don’t pretend like it’s a walk in the park when it’s not, support each other, tell it like it is and how you coped with it. Empower and encourage each other to get through it, not to shame each other in not coping as well as you or hide away because it scares you.
As the motto of Panda’s foundation goes – it’s ok not to be ok.