So you think you can procreate – Am I really pregnant?
You can spot her (Or what was me, twice) a mile away. The unplanned pregnancy scare versus the woman who has been trying repeatedly and now excitedly stands in the feminine products aisle, perusing the various gender accurate pregnancy tests with a menstruation calendar in hand. The scare victim is the petrified looking female grabbing as many inexpensive, pink boxed pregnancy tests as she can fit in her basket in the hopes that no one she knows will see her, all the while pondering whether or not to run straight out of the pharmacy and into the public toilet or wait the extra ten minutes to get home before locking herself in the bathroom for as long as it takes.
You may or may not have had a clue up until this point but if you’re anything like me, you experienced being both clueless and clairvoyant due to two very different pregnancy experiences. Women are funny creatures, admittedly not the smartest creatures in moments of weakness and so I still listen in shock when women tell me that they couldn’t or wouldn’t use protection and were still surprised when they discovered that they were in fact ‘with child’. What’s even funnier to me is imagining the late night chemist rush for the little stick on which to pee. For those ladies that have been a little more prepared than the rest of us, planning a baby and family expansion, I doubt that the emotional experience was very different. Nothing prepares you, whether planned or not, for that road trip and the roller coaster of emotions that follows thereafter.
I was young, naive and very confused when I found out I was pregnant with my oldest daughter. Due to various menstrual cycle irregularities (Yes boys, that’s a period), the months leading up to the big reveal didn’t hold anything different for me. I was on the pill at the time so thought I’d taken the preventative measures I needed but alas, the universe had other plans. It was over a family holiday that eyebrows started raising at my expanding waistline, I was daft and thought I’d just eaten really well over the time away. I remember my daughters gran commenting on my weight gain which I’d barely noticed myself. When we got back from holiday, a niggling feeling within me pushed me to go and get the test. A few days later, Mother’s Day, I got a call from a friend wishing me a ‘Happy Mothers Day’ even though I wasn’t a mother. Little did he know that the test had been done and those lines were strong and pink, test said I was pregnant. Freak out. A visit to the lab the following day saw blood tests and an hour wait before a phone call to confirm that I was in fact already nearly 3 months pregnant and I barely sensed a thing. I considered all sorts of options, including the not so nice ones, and night after night I sat and cried about the difficult choices I was faced with. I was a 20 year old, unmarried, pregnant girl without a clue in the world. I’m so grateful for the morning I woke up knowing that I had accepted my pregnancy, was putting all of my energies into being a mother and despite many odds ahead have an intelligent, beautiful 8 year old daughter today.
Deep thoughts aside, there is something about confirming a pregnancy that suddenly causes your non existent belly to ‘drop’ and your appetite to rival that of a rugby team. Almost instantly, you begin to exhibit every possible pregnancy ‘symptom’ and spend hours thinking about how you’re going to share impending fatherhood with baby daddy as well as coming out of the pregnancy ‘closet’ to the world. The awkward “I’m not getting fat but I can’t yet tell you I’m preggers stage’. It’s become more acceptable to wait until after 12 weeks before sharing the news with friends and family, though I don’t recommend waiting that long to tell Daddy either. Thankfully, pregnancy number 1 saw the 1st trimester behind me without me even realizing it had happened and H’s dad was very excited, happy and accepting of our family news.
My second pregnancy was a very different experience from the first. I’d had some time alone with my first daughter up until the age of 4, I’d met my then boyfriend (now husband) and we’d just started dating and I was, yet again, on the pill. A week or so after my birthday I’d already started feeling ‘ill’ and knew something was not quite right, I did not experience morning sickness (or what in my case became all day sickness) with my oldest child and so had no point of reference. A week after that, I knew, I was in panic mode and became that woman in Clicks buying a pregnancy test and racing to the loo. I did 3 home pregnancy tests in that week and they’d all come back negative, I refused to believe it. My head, my heart, my gut and every inch of my body exhibiting every sign of pregnancy all knew otherwise. By the 4th week after my birthday, I’d quit smoking and couldn’t face tea or coffee, I decided to try one last time and in my lunch hour took a walk to pick n pay, bought yet another test and took a walk back to the public loo, I couldn’t wait to do it at home. Ten minutes later, I had two very dark pink lines and hit panic mode yet again. A moment of impulse saw me taking a photo and sending it to soon-to-be-first-time-daddy with the caption ‘Two lines says yes’. Three hours later I heard back from a Daddy who had been in a meeting all afternoon (Though I assumed I was about to be a single mother of two daughters from two different fathers) who was shocked but then very excited. I’ve never been one to do anything by the book and so, here I went again, my second trip around the motherhood universe. Another lab trip, blood test and hour wait later, it was confirmed that I was 4 weeks pregnant – Hence all my negative home pregnancy tests.
So, what were the tell tale signs that I had either ignored or put down to a pregnancy without blinking an eye?
~D gave me the worst all day illness, thankfully H was a bit kinder and I never hugged a toilet bowl that I could remember.
~Ratty. Ratty. Ratty, oh and ratty. Being pregnant put me in a mood, I won’t be doing that again.
~Oh the cravings! Avocado pear, strawberry milkshake, ice cream, Coca Cola…
~And the turn offs! I couldn’t handle the smell of cigarette smoke, tea, coffee or petrol.
~Aches and pains cropped up everywhere. What didn’t hurt, didn’t work.
~The obvious, a little bit of a weight gain and a whole lot of breast expansion.
~Insomnia. I did not sleep for the full 10 months.
~I was tired, all the time.
~I was hungry all the time.
Some points to note for when you suspect a pregnancy.
* Urine pregnancy tests are not always accurate, especially early on. Blood test is best.
* Make an appointment with a doctor / gynae as soon as possible.
* Tell the gynae you are pregnant when making the appointment, they will often be fully booked for months but always make space for the pregnant ladies.
* A gynae based at the hospital makes for convenience and is much easier later on for booking the bed etc.
* Take at least 2-3 hours off of work for your gynae appointments, you end up waiting, a while.
* Go with your gut, while there are quite a few aches and pains with all the body stretching, if you are nervous rather err on the side of caution and call your doctor.
* You decide when to tell friends and family but waiting for the first trimester to pass safely is generally a good idea (If you can hold in the news that long)
* Stay hydrated, eat healthy, continue to work out (lightly and with your doctor or gynae’s approval) and get plenty of rest.
* Don’t be a google doctor.
* Invest in a book or two to help you along the way with your pregnancy.
* I subscribed to baby centre online and received weekly baby development emails which were pretty interesting.
* Be nice to your future baby daddy, being moody is acceptable, being a bitch is not.
* Enjoy your beautiful baby carrying body – you will never look as gorgeous as you do now!
Congratulations, you’re having a baby! Spend a few weeks processing, taking it all in and just enjoying being centre of attention for a while. I’m apologizing in advance on behalf of all the people awkwardly touching your chubby belly, they do it with love.
Coming next… You’re pregnant, now what?