On the 1st of May 2015, a momentous event occurred in our lives – our gorgeous daughter, Eloise, arrived in the world. She will take centre-stage in many blog posts to come, but I would like to dedicate this one to the nine months that preceded her birth. It seems a bit remiss if I do not capture what the experience of being pregnant has been like for me.
The Bad Stuff
A couple of weeks after Eloise was born I started jotting down the main things I remembered about being pregnant – and it was all negative.
At times, I felt nauseous, bloated, breathless and exhausted. I suffered weird and unexpected pains including calf muscle cramps that would awaken me in an agonised state at 2am. My ankles swelled and I found lifting my three year old and walking up stairs increasingly difficult. Towards the end of the pregnancy, between the somersaults baby girl was doing and the sheer uncomfortableness of it all, I barely slept.
However, I don’t want to remember just the bad stuff. So I have dug a bit deeper and decided to look back at those nine months with only rose-tinted glasses on. I want to not just remember my pregnancy, but also celebrate it.
In the Spotlight
Firstly, I loved feeling special. I liked that people often seemed happy and joyful around me. Strangers would spark up conversations and friends seem genuinely concerned about my wellbeing. As my bump grew, so did the attention on me. I will never again be asked if I have any weird cravings or whether I have thought of any names. It is highly unlikely that a stranger will want to pat my belly. I miss all the compliments – that I looked glowing and that I looked tiny. Who knew I had to get pregnant to get so much praise about my svelte figure?
Statute of Limitations
Secondly, I miss the minutiae that are only associated with being pregnant. I could buy the most expensive shampoo out but my hair will not get that glossy, thick, and shiny again. I indulged in a lot more chocolate than usual without any guilt. The feeling of fluttering, tumbling and sometimes massive wallops in my tummy is already fading from my memory. I will also miss wearing maternity jeans – style and comfort all in one. Well to be honest, weeks after birth, I am still wearing them. What is the statute of limitations on wearing maternity jeans post having a baby?
Last and very definitely not least, I am happy that I succeeded in having a healthy full-term pregnancy. Just over a year ago, I was recovering from a miscarriage and now I have Eloise in my life. What a difference a year can make. Pregnancy is a privilege and a gift that I know is not bestowed on everyone.
Erma Bombeck was diagnosed with terminal cancer and was asked what she would change if she had her life to live over. Her response has become much quoted on the Internet. I am not particularly religious, but I think this part of her message sums up my sentiment in a beautiful way:
‘Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy and complaining about the shadow over my feet, I’d have cherished every minute of it and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was to be my only chance in life to assist God in a miracle’.
Never Say Never
Sure, I may be accused of romanticising pregnancy, but I do think it is like reading the news – you too often only get told the bad stuff. I am simply trying to counter some of the negative.
It is especially important for me to remember just how amazing and wonderful being pregnant is, as I am never intending to be pregnant again. As people say: ‘never say never’, but it is extremely unlikely we will have a third child (which surprisingly has been the most asked question post Eloise’s birth). Due to my age (ancient in fertility terms), the previous miscarriage and the fact that we always said we would be more than happy with two children, pregnancy is no longer on the cards for me.
When you are pregnant and people ask how you are, it is almost like a free pass to rain down upon them a litany of grumbles and complaints. If you are currently pregnant, I invite you to shock the next person who asks how you are and say: “I feel so grateful, I am excited and life is wonderful. Thank you so much for asking”. Then further surprise them by inviting them to give your bump a wee pat – it will make their day.
And if, like me, your pregnancy days are behind you, give yourself the luxury of basking in some rose-tinted memories of when you did your part in bringing a miracle into the world.