It’s exactly a year since I first took the positive pregnancy test and I thought it might be nice to look back on my pregnancy. I had always thought I would love being pregnant. I did, sometimes, but a lot of it was actually a bit shit. I also don’t think you can ever appreciate how bloody long 40 weeks is (I think that’s closer to 10 months than 9, personally) until you’re expecting a baby. It was a strange time; in some ways I have never felt more attuned to my body or more aware of the amazing capabilities it has. Equally, though, it felt out of my control; I was a host. Hollie McNish has written a fantastic poem about how women’s bodies change and one particular line really resonated with me “I turned into factory, a life support and cooker.” You should check it out: Megatron (Transformers).
There’s a lot of pressure on pregnant women about what they should eat, how they should behave, whether they should work and everything else you can imagine regarding your lifestyle. Advice is thrown at you from all angles. All of a sudden, everybody has an opinion on how you live your life and the way you treat your body. It really surprised me how strangers, acquaintances, friends and family members suddenly asked impertinent questions ‘Was it planned?’, made potentially rude comments about my body ‘you’re big, aren’t you?’ and how everybody felt like it was their place to tell me what I should be doing. I really think people should just back off a bit and let pregnant women (and their partners and health professionals) make their own decisions and live their lives without so much judgement or interference. I’m sure if this happened that women would be able to relax a bit and maybe even start to enjoy the journey without constantly feeling pressured and under scrutiny.
Anyway, like I said, I didn’t love pregnancy quite as much as I thought I would. The tiredness was something I never predicted, my skin became plagued with spots worse than I had as a teenager and the mood swings were irritating. I also randomly became a lot less sociable! I just hardly ever felt in the mood to see people or go places (which is entirely unlike me) and when I did go out I was much quieter and withdrawn than usual. Having said all that, I was lucky and didn’t have much sickness and I avoided heartburn and varicose veins. I did have some serious swollen ankles by the end though and all the usual backache and difficulties getting comfortable.
It certainly wasn’t all bad; knowing that our child was growing inside me was the most amazing experience. Feeling kicks and movements is so special and the fact that my body is capable of creating and sustaining a life is, frankly, astonishing! It was so exciting and I do look back on it fondly.
My body now; well I’m a bit in awe of it to be honest. What an amazing thing, to have grown and birthed this life and now to be able to give him everything he needs just from me! I could do a whole post about labour (I don’t know if I ever will though) but let’s just say it’s fucking hard and leave it at that. Yes I am covered in stretch marks but I like to see it as earning my stripes! I try to be positive about it; my body’s achieved this incredible feat, so I should proudly bear the ‘battle scars’ that tell the story. Hollie McNish mentions this in the Megatron poem, too:
“But the saddest thing of all is that I’m told these marks are bad. But they’re the only few reminders of this process we all have…
The only thing our body is given…is a pot of sodding stretch mark cream to try to hide the signs.”
And I’m not going to worry about these stretch marks or the fact my body is a lot wobblier than it used to be. I brought a gorgeous, happy boy into this world and that is worth all the stretch marks that can fit on my skin.
You should all read Hollie McNish’s book, by the way, because it’s brilliant and a refreshingly honest take on parenthood – Nobody Told Me.
In summary, pregnancy is not as easy or as rose-tinted as I hoped and expected. It was, however, a wonderful feeling to know that I was carrying our child.