When you think of pregnancy, what do you think of? A glowing woman, rubbing her belly and radiating maternal warmth? I guess to an extent, I did too. Until my second pregnancy when I experienced first-hand the darker side of pregnancy. It isn’t the norm to discuss, how actually you are not enjoying a pregnancy.
Of course, I am grateful and amazed that I have been able to conceive and grow two babies. This is a luxury not all women are able to do. My first son took us 10 months to conceive and other than some backache I had a wonderful pregnancy. No problems, barely any sickness and I carried him until he arrived 11 days early at 38+3 weeks’ gestation. 3 years on, we decide to add to our family of three. I fell pregnant very quickly within two months and was excited to start my second pregnancy journey. Little did I know how quickly my excitement would vanish.
I always knew there would be risks of getting pregnant after my first son. Elijah was born with a congenital heart defect that required surgery. I knew beforehand after speaking to professionals that I would be deemed as high risk and be monitored closely. Was I selfish in becoming pregnant again if there was a risk of having another baby with CHD? Perhaps, but isn’t there a risk to everything we do? I thought my pregnancy would turn out as it did with Elijah, with a few more appointments. I was excited to be showered with back rubs, cake and Elijah bonding with my ever growing bump excited to meet his brother or sister. I didn’t think I would struggle physically and mentally as I have in just a few short months.
The excitement you feel when you get those two lines on a stick, the overwhelming glee that you want to yell from the roof tops, or to every person you pass in the street is something that you do not experience many times in your life. Then something else creeps in quickly, and takes over. No matter how many times you have done this before, the anxiety. The sheer worry of being responsible for carrying and growing a healthy baby to term, with no complications and yet having no control over what will happen or is happening inside you is terrifying. Potentially, the most scared I have ever been being pregnant and I have thought something may be wrong. This does intensify after you had a baby where something did go wrong. When you tell others, you may be trying for a baby there is no warning of the impending dread and horrendous questions that will begin to pop into your head (normally late at night) that you begin to Google and frankly scare yourself even more. Probably, as the human population may take a nose dive, but I do think it is something that does need to be spoken about. It isn’t all baby showers and cupcakes.
Then you enter the worrisome 12 weeks, the first trimester. Where you are told again and again this is the most likely time something will go wrong. You have those 12 weeks in your head as a target, but you still don’t breathe a sigh of relief when you reach them. It carries on to the next trimester, and the next. Second time round, I have tried to be more conformable with certain things, and have tried not to be hung up on too much. Do I still think the worse? Yes. Do I still, Google everything and anything that is slightly different or mass text all my Mum friends? I would like to apologise to them all for the horrendous brown discharge Whats App conversation.
But then something happened, that I wasn’t expecting….. every single thing about my pregnancy was the opposite of my first and I ended up more of an anxious mess than the first!
Being a high-risk pregnancy does come with its own worries. I was convinced the baby would have something wrong with it. I tear myself up every time we have a hospital appointment or scan. I was told I couldn’t have the birth I wanted. Deep down even though everything seems well, and we are nearing the 5 month mark I still think history may repeat itself. No one talks a lot about mental illness during pregnancy. Post Partem depression information is given to you before you give birth, and in the weeks that follow but what about in the here and now?
I came off my anti- depressants a good couple of months before we conceived and after kicking my PTSD in the arse I was the healthiest I had been in years. But slowly and surely, some reoccurring feelings and anxieties have crept it this is something I did not experience with my first pregnancy. It was all new, decorating the nursery and impending excitement about our first child. Anxiety, depression all coupled with more hormones than a Sex And The City sequel make for a rollercoaster of a ride. The whole 9 months aren’t all fun and games and sometimes we will face some of the lowest times of our lives. There have been times in this pregnancy that although I have been hesitant to admit, I am not enjoying it. It is probably not socially acceptable to put it out there, and I may seem ungrateful or inconsiderate but I believe it is something that should be spoken about, so those who may feel the same do not suffer in silence.
As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I was feeling so ill. I was sick, and when I wasn’t being sick in a bush, kitchen sink or toilet at 10pm at night I felt sick the rest of the time. I didn’t want anything to eat, but not eating made it worse. Everything made me gag, which ultimately would then lead to me being sick. I slowly began to stomach plain Pringles and Diet Pepsi. Going on a bus, car or even walking would make me gag! I didn’t eat an actual meal for nearly two months. I was slightly worried the baby may come out with a bottle of Pepsi in their hands. Then I was tired, so tired I was falling asleep three times a day tired.
Elijah knew something was up, and left me to it and entertained himself, (cue mum guilt). I began to show early on, we found out a little further down the line this was due to the stomach muscles never really going together after Elijah. This caused a deviation of my stomach which made my bump protrude out more. This also put a lot of pressure on my back, which I have to now have physio on. These I know are such small problems, and thankfully non-life threatening ones too. I should be thankful, and I am but at times these are the small problems that occur on a day to day basis that can grind you down. Of course, I would rather be going through these, than the baby being ill. My lowest point was at Christmas, not being able to eat any of my dinner, being so tired I couldn’t play with Elijah and throwing up for days. I struggled, and I have to say I did feel very dark then especially knowing I was nowhere near the end of this pregnancy. It is also hard to see that Elijah at times has had to take a back seat. I am stupidly lucky for the fact I have a kind and thoughtful little boy who understands if I feel sick or need a rest. I think being a soon to be mother of two this is just something else to add to the pile, EXTREME MUM GUILT.
It should be a time you relish, and I do most of the time. I love waking up I the night amongst my 10 pillows (no exaggeration) and feeling the baby kick. I have an immense sense of pride when I see them on a scan and proudly how off my bump and scan pictures.
However, I do believe this pregnancy will likely be my last. When we planned to get pregnant again I did not think that I would struggle. The thing is that I know it could be so much worse, and a lot of ladies do have such a harder time. I cannot always dwell or process how I am really feeling with a small tear away two year old, which may be a good thing in a way. In terms of a customer reviews; first pregnancy, 5 stars, loved, it would recommend it to anyone. Second pregnancy, more of a 3.5 and not sure I would go back! It has been more of a love it or hate it relationship. You know like Marmite. It has been hard physically and mentally and I am so excited to welcome the new addition to our family, I really am. This time round however, it really has been the darker side of pregnancy. It just goes to show how different you can feel second time round.