Okay, so I’m not saying that it’s never beautiful but to be truthful I’ve just about had enough of people telling me how wonderful it is. I’ve not had the worst pregnancy by any stretch of the imagination but neither have I been having the time of my life. Fed up of biting my tongue when told how much I should be enjoying this time – often by those who don’t have a uterus – I thought I’d put my thoughts down in writing.
One thing I’ve learnt throughout this pregnancy is that it is so different for everybody and the widely accepted thought that it gets so much easier in the second trimester isn’t necessarily true. I had a really great first trimester; I wasn’t ill at all and other than being slightly more tired than normal it wasn’t anything too bad. Quite honestly, had we not actively been trying I am not 100% sure that I would have noticed.
Things changed for me when I caught Covid-19 in week 11 and from there on, I found the whole experience much more challenging. So as I was heading into my second trimester I was recovering from Covid-19 and not able to take time off work so the exhaustion really started here. Then the back pain kicked in; then the hip pain. Do not misunderstand me; this time was interspersed with magical moments such as feeling the baby move. However, overall as the pregnancy progressed I found myself experiencing panic attacks, becoming increasingly anxious about monitoring the baby’s movements and coping with work. Of course, feeling stressed about world events and how they impacted us have had quite an impact, too. We’re expecting a baby going into Christmas, a recession with prices soaring and when my work place is on strike to get fair pay and conditions. Will I even have a job to go back into? Not to mention my boss still hasn’t sorted my maternity pay… It’s really hard not to worry. Maybe this stress, invisible to just about everybody, is what’s causing my normally very active baby to have periods of reduced foetal movement (RFM), which increases my anxiety even more.
I worked hard to prepare my body for carrying a baby, whether that was healthy eating or strength/fitness training. Pre-pregnancy I was strong and healthy. And yet I’m sat here at 33-34 weeks struggling to move and (good) sleep feels like a very distant memory. Night time feels like an exercise in reducing my hip pain as much as possible and rolling over is probably hands down one of the most difficult things to do when pregnant. I’ve spent a lot of money on physio and massage to try and help. Did I mention the million trips to the loo because of what seems like unquenchable thirst? Exercise was always an outlet for me but it’s been hard to push through and hard to know how much my body can actually take right now – especially if I don’t want to pay for it later in the day. While I may be able to stumble through a couple of miles on a dog walk, that will mean I can hardly move later in the day. Where’s the middle ground for getting enough exercise for my body to not fall apart completely and to create some mental peace and not making myself immobile? What makes exercising – or moving full stop – feel even more challenging is the breathlessness. My word! I don’t even have to be moving to feel out of breath… Baby can move and all of a sudden breathing becomes difficult and fighting down the panic of not being able to breath like you’re used to is even harder. There’s so much more but that’s not really what this blog is meant to be about…
Pregnancy is a vulnerable time
Here’s the crux of it all though; if I say any of this out loud to anyone it comes across as being negative and ungrateful for my pregnancy. That just isn’t true. I wanted this pregnancy and I am so unbelievably grateful for it. And yet, when I have tried to voice any of my struggles I usually get met with awkward silence or being told how I should feel.
- Telling me how I feel invalidates my experience and shows you’re not listening properly to me – or you just don’t care.
- Telling me it will only get worse invalidates my experience now in this moment – I am aware life will be tough with a newborn but that also doesn’t mean life isn’t hard now.
- Reminding me that I signed up for this is downright unhelpful and invalidates my experience
If a pregnant person tells you they’re finding things tough, then they probably are… so listen to them. I cannot remember another time when I’ve felt so out of my depth.