Every new pregnancy announcement still sends my brain into a whirl. I thought after getting pregnant with my daughter those feelings would go away. My daughter is now 21 months, and my initial feelings are still the same. My heart jumps into my throat, and my knees go weak. I can’t look away from the screen. I hope that it’s all just a silly prank. If I’m honest, I also think they are an idiot, but that’s a story for another day.
I can’t help but take it personally. It’s like the universe is constantly reminding me. I know they are not trying to shove it in my face or rub it in, but that’s how it feels.
Don’t get me wrong, I am usually incredibly happy for them, but I can’t seem to put my struggles aside.
I generally treat each pregnancy announcement differently. How close am I to this person? Do I have any background information to support how I should feel? I analyse it in a few ways before I publicly react. Sometimes it takes me a few days to offer my congratulations. Sometimes I will offer a generic ‘congratulations!!’ on the facebook post. I might wait to congratulate them in person if I know that I will be seeing them soon. If I know a bit more about the situation, I will send them a personal message either via facebook or text message. Then there are the few occasions that I just ignored it altogether.
I will attend the baby shower. I will put together a thoughtful and useful gift. More often than not I will also crochet a personalised toy. I think people have come to expect it after all this time.
Particularly when it comes to getting pregnant, many people keep their struggles a secret. And I understand why. I didn’t want to open myself up to the suggestions because yes, we had tried everything. We tried relaxing. We tried ovulation kits. I tried natural herbs. We tried special lubricants. I felt ashamed that my body wasn’t working in the way that it should. I certainly didn’t want anyone to know that I wasn’t perfect.
During my injections for IVF, I found out that one of my friends was expecting. I was told to my face, so I didn’t have anything to hide behind. I’m now embarrassed by my reaction. I said “that’s great” then gave them a thumbs up. Then I walked outside.
About a month and a half after my egg collection for IVF I decided that I needed to see someone about the feelings that I was having. The main thing I got from that conversation was how would you know? How would I know that my friends didn’t struggle to get pregnant? I didn’t ask. I didn’t offer up any more than my simple well wishes. So who am I to judge and have these feelings towards people not knowing anything about the situation?
Not long after my pregnancy reached 12 weeks, I felt that I needed to talk to someone again. This time I had the revelation myself after venting out loud. Think about the negative things you tell yourself. How would you react if it was a friend telling you the same thing? You would tell them to stop being silly.
I shared this wisdom with a friend recently. She was worried about getting in the pool as her body was not the same as it was before she had her handsome little boy. I asked her to think about what she would say if I were the one making a fuss about my post-baby body. She agreed that she would say that I was silly, then she jumped in the pool.
I’m sure it is just one of those things that will get better with time. I also hope it will be a little while before the next pregnancy announcement,
I was one of the lucky ones. I had it really easy, with no pregnancy surprises. I didn’t have experience high blood pressure, gestational diabetes or Hyperemesis Gravidarum. You could even say that I enjoyed it. That’s not to say there weren’t a few things that surprised me about being pregnant.
For me, morning sickness was not what I was expecting it to be. I only actually threw up about 10 times, and only once did I throw up twice in one day. But I constantly felt sick, like I was going to throw up. This made it hard to want to eat or drink anything. After about week 20, the sick feeling began to fade but I still
My oh, my! Nothing seemed to help the swelling in my feet. I sat at work with my feet up, only slightly elevated. I did work at a computer desk after all. I lived in a pair of compression stockings, like the ones you get after surgery or when flying. But they made no difference towards the end. My poor toes looked like little sausages.
Some nights the reflux was that bad, I tried sleeping propped up on a few pillows. I was lucky that the medication I used did help. Although it was taken in a more preventative manner, rather than as a quick fix.
I became constipated quite early on. I searched online for some solutions and decided to try pear juice. I managed to find it in the supermarket and gave it a go. It was really unusual to basically drink a pear. Pear juice did not quite do it for me. So I switched to an old faithful, Metamucil. For the last two or so months of my pregnancy, I was having a dose in the morning and another dose at night.
By the time I made it to week 39, I had an insatiable hunger that just did not seem to be curable. My stretch marks had also been pretty mild but seemed to explode into being during week 39. They became agonizingly itchy. I was applying lotion several times a day just to get some relief.
Sure I had cravings. But it wasn’t a case of “I must not stop until I get this”. It was more like a regular craving that would pass without having to give in. And while I don’t think it’s considered a craving, I found milk was often the only thing that would satiate my thirst. I would get up in the middle of the night and chug some milk.
I did not experience being warm during my pregnancy. I was pregnant from February to November, so, for the most part, the weather was cold. I’d still wear a singlet, a top (often long or ¾ sleeve) and a jumper during the day.
I’m sure most of us know that eating for two is a myth. You only need an extra 200 or so calories a day.
I’ll be honest, I really struggle to drink enough fluids each day. I put in a lot of effort to drink more but didn’t find there was much change in my bathroom habits. Even overnight, I was only getting up once each night.
All babies have different movement patterns. I didn’t experience lots of movement. There were bursts of movement but it was never painful. And I certainly never got a kick to the ribs or my bladder.
For the most part, I wasn’t tired. Only in the middle of my pregnancy did I notice being tired. I would crash on a Friday night after work around 7 pm. I assume it was just the week catching up with me.
This one surprised my mum. She thought once I was on maternity leave that I would be cleaning like a mad woman. Or should I say, pregnant woman? All I really wanted was to buy the cot and have it set up, which didn’t happen until about a week before I was due.
I’m sure there are plenty of other things that I didn’t experience during pregnancy. But these are the main ones that come up with my friends.
I always wanted to breastfeed. But am ashamed to admit I honestly thought those that said it was too hard or hurt too much weren’t trying hard enough. How amazing is hindsight? I now know how hard breastfeeding is. I left the hospital with cracked, bleeding and scabby nipples. When the midwife visited, she was able to leave me with a loan great pump to see if that would help. After returning the loan pump to the hospital I borrowed one from my sister in law, and it was a godsend, especially when I returned to work.
The best breastfeeding advice I received was from a friend with an 18-month-old. She told me it got a lot easier for her around the six-week mark. So that’s what I aimed for, hoping it would get better. Week six came and went but it didn’t appear to be getting easier. Then week eight hit and it was like magic. This is what it felt like when breastfeeding was normal.
It becomes all about the latch. My daughter struggled to latch properly but it did it perfectly when I visited a lactation specialist. They were able to suggest different holds for me to try because of her size.
I had several incidents where my daughter ended up with a mouth full of blood. To give my nipples a break I used nipple shields or the breast pump.
I suffered from nipple thrush more than once. It was really difficult to get rid of because I kept giving it to my daughter, who would then give it back to me.
I was unfortunate enough to experience a blocked milk duct on several occasions. But I was also lucky enough that I found a solution that worked for me, which helped me prevent it from turning into mastitis.
The first few times I breastfed in public was difficult. I couldn’t get the cover to stay on properly while I was getting myself organised. And I was really concerned about being covered so as not to offend anyone.
Ask for and research advice if you are unsure about what you are doing. Join Facebook groups, ask your friends, watch YouTube videos and speak to your healthcare provider. I know I did all of the above.
The friend I mentioned above gave me a bunch of useful breastfeeding items at my baby shower. A tube of lanolin for chapped nipples, which can also double as a lip balm. I also received some nipple shields, which were an absolute godsend. By the time I was done with them they had big cracks and looked really worn out.
Having a breast pump allowed me to continue to exclusively feed my daughter breastmilk, even after I returned to work full time. If I had my time again, I would consider a double pump or a pumping bra.
The best thing that helped clear my blocked ducts was vibration. After some googling and not having results with massage or heat, I decided to try an electric toothbrush. The relief the next day was amazing.
If you want to breastfeed in public with a cover, practice at home. I wish I practised beforehand.
I found supplements to be more useful than the lactation cookies. Fenugreek seemed to be the ingredient that helped the most.
I last breastfed my daughter on Christmas Day. She was 13 and a half months old and I was very proud of our efforts. By then she was also having some formula as well. I was sad for that part of my life to be over but glad I was able to make it to a year, which was the last end goal that I gave myself. Less than a month after finishing up breastfeeding my daughter also gave up formula.