It is the pause, after you tell someone you are pregnant again, when they catch your eye and expect something. A smile, a glow, any recognition that this is the best news ever. But it isn’t there. Not yet.
It wasn’t that this was unplanned, we talked about it and were actively not planning to make sure it didn’t happen. And if I’m honest with myself I probably knew at least two weeks before the lines appeared on the test as I sat in the loo at the local supermarket during my lunch break .
- a small plea to supermarkets, please please please stop putting tags on pregnancy tests – the security guard who stopped me as I set off all the alarms was mortified when I explained that yes, it was the pregnancy test, yes I had paid and yes I had used it and popped it back in my inside coat pocket. Like a giant National Lottery finger shouting “IT’S YOU YOU ARE HAVING ANOTHER BABY” it’s just not ideal.
Anyway I knew, sort of. My boobs hadn’t grown because of all the cheese I’d been eating, my skin itching probably wasn’t a post-viral thing and going off coffee isn’t normal. But I’d put it to the back of my mind and tried not to think about it.
The tiredness, well I had flu at the beginning of December. The disappearing waist, well I hadn’t been running as much. The new freckles, well maybe I didn’t notice them before.
Of course I am pleased, this will be wonderful but don’t expect me to start glowing and do a Pinterest board full of Scandi nursery ideas just yet. At the moment I’m trying to recalibrate a year I thought I’d planned (move house, lose weight, big holiday, son starts school, kick ass at work, run another half marathon) to the year I will now have (move house, gradually put on weight, watch boobs grow to size of own head, grow an actual human, give birth, son starts school, significant time off work) and that takes some mental adjusting.
Try listening to everyone planning their healthy January when you know those jeans you bought in the ASOS sale won’t fit for another year at least, when you’d love to be at circuits or body pump but you are so tired you can barely get out of bed.
The mood swings have hit me hard. Up all night worrying, not about anything in particular, just a hamster wheel of anxiety rattling on and on between 3am and 5am most nights. And then it turned out it wasn’t just mood swings, it was full on ante natal depression, for a second time round.
But this time there’s a gnawing part of my brain which knows the worries and anxiety and constant feeling of detachment isn’t normal.
Everyone knows about post natal depression but ante natal depression is equally devastating. I had it last time, undiagnosed until a conversation with a health visitor two weeks post partum.
This time I am trying to tackle it head on. Tempting the black dog with a Bonio and admitting that I’m not OK. The way I feel right now is not me. I’ve been so overcome with worry about the idea of leaving the house I’ve sat crying, sobbing in bed, scared witless. It just isn’t me. The overwhelming emotions are frightening and alienating.
Pretty much the only good thing about my last pregnancy was the day I left hospital with my son. There’s not a single picture of me smiling. I don’t think I took any after 30 weeks, it’s hard to selfie when you are on crutches or vomiting or crying, which were my go-to pastimes along with eating hastily ordered pizza and watching Spooks.
Oh and the vomiting. That is back too. Don’t offer me ginger or say you had bad morning sickness too, hyperemesis is the one thing I dreaded more than anything as I sat in the bogs in Sainsbury’s realising what lay ahead.
Thanks to messing up the dates by five weeks I was convinced I was through the first trimester without a single moment where I’d be lying on the floor of a bathroom with sick trickling out of my nose. Wrong. Backdated to seven weeks at the first scan the nausea came flooding back and couple of days later, then the puking and the oh too familiar feeling of a dry mouth, which tastes of metal and the gagging feeling, the feeling of something in your throat. 24hour travel sickness even when you are perfectly still.
It’s hard to describe the sweet torture of being unable to even think about food when a large part of your job involves writing about it. Scrolling through Instagram induces waves deep in my tummy, each avo toast snap making me mentally map how quickly I can get to the bathroom. No #veganuary for me, instead a diet of toast, dry biscuits and beige freezer tapas coated in salad cream.
What has changed this time is my ability to fight it. This time I’ve asked for help from the offset – CBT for anxiety and drugs for the hyperemesis. I’ve accepted, finally, the sometimes I shouldn’t be at work because what’s the point if I can’t do it well? Having managers who actually care and don’t say “well *my* pregnancy was fine” or “you really shouldn’t be being sick so often, it’s probably from all the crisps” helps a lot too. It’s still a bit of battle though, especially when people microwave meals in the staff kitchen.
Struggling to enjoy our new home, function as a parent and actually do anything without feeling waves of dizziness is hard. But it won’t be like this forever.
Although the world and his wife thinks it will all disappear at 12 weeks (spoiler: last time the hyperemesis stopped at 38+6, five hours before my son was born) I could have six months more of this to come, so forgive me if I don’t smile or glow just yet.
Just pass me the crackers and leave me be for now.
A Guest Blog from Jenni Phillips