12 June 2020

Being Honest about Pregnancy

Being Honest about Pregnancy - Maggie May

We've finally hit the last stretch of pregnancy - I've passed the 28 week milestone which means I'm officially in my third trimester!

I've learned several lessons since becoming pregnant, for example; morning sickness can be debilitating, reflux can be very uncomfortable, and those pelvic cramps and aches throughout pregnancy are no myth. I've also learned that 40 weeks is actually quite a long time to be pregnant - especially if you're an impatient person like me!

To know that this is the final push now {no pun intended} is incredibly reassuring, and I have to say I'm relieved. Something I've found quite difficult to cope with during this time {other than being pregnant in a global pandemic!} is how my experience of being pregnant is so very different to how I imagined it would be.

I have dreamed of having children for a long time, initially feeling broody as a teenager and eagerly looking forward to the day I would carry a baby. {Please tell me I'm not the only person to have stuffed clothes under their top to see what a bump would look like...?!}

I often used to say to Mr MM that I was just as excited about the idea of being pregnant as I was about having children. I couldn't wait to see my body changing, to feel a baby growing inside me, and to spend 9 glorious months bonding with my bump. I wasn't completely stupid; I knew it would be tough and tiring, and especially gruelling towards the end, but I saw these as challenges that I would willingly take on with very little complaint.

My experience of pregnancy has been so far from my expectations! Admittedly, I was simply unlucky to be affected by hyperemesis gravidarum, and suffering with regular sickness up until 20 weeks made everything much harder. But there have been other aspects which have surprised me; I really struggled with body image and confidence issues as I started to gather weight around my middle. As the bump I had so desperately longed for started to appear, I felt ugly, overweight and sometimes even disgusted by my appearance in the mirror. Having imagined cradling my ballooning tummy, I now found myself angrily trying to find clothes in my wardrobe to stretch over what I thought looked like an unflattering beer belly.

Being Honest about Pregnancy - Maggie May
Looking back, I think I was frustrated and upset with my body and how it had responded to pregnancy. I felt like it had failed me, and that I was terrible at being pregnant. Passing comments from people about how their pregnancies had been fine, or how they'd loved being pregnant and maybe even missed it added to my guilt. Was I an awful person for not enjoying this time? I know how incredibly fortunate we are to be able to have a child - so was I being ungrateful by not loving the experience?

And then the penny dropped and everything became easier. My pregnancy has been tough. Yes, all pregnancies are tough, but I have really struggled with mine for lots of different reasons. And that's OK!

Instead of making enemies with my own body and churning out negative thoughts all the time, I started to make a conscious effort to address my way of thinking and my approach:

- My body is growing a human which is pretty incredible, so cut it some slack. 
- It's hit lots of bumps along the way and suffered lots of ill effects, so be even kinder to it! 
- Acknowledge the difficulties you have faced, accept them - and then try to move on. 
- Change the language and words you use about your body - I'm not being lazy, I'm tired because I'm busy nurturing another little life inside. I'm not fat, I'm growing in size which means our child is growing too. My skin is breaking out because my hormonal levels are changing, in readiness for carrying our baby to the finish line and then delivering them into our arms!

When you first opened this post, you might not have expected these sorts of words. And I don't know if that's what I even had in mind when I started writing it. But it's so important to me to be honest about my journey. Being pregnant is hard work without putting ourselves under lots of pressure to 'do it well'. If one other woman reads this and finds that she's not the only one hating on pregnancy - that she's not the only person in the world to have felt like this - then it is entirely worth my honesty. And who knows, I may need to remind myself of these things in a future pregnancy...!

Now for the positive bit. I am so unbelievably excited about having our baby. When I feel those kicks {those very strong and powerful kicks, particularly the ones in the bladder} I rub my bump with happiness and have a little chat with Baby Maggie May, telling them how we can't wait to meet them and have them here with us. I can't wait to see them open their eyes for the first time; to feel them cuddled up against my chest; to see Mr MM with them. The thought of labour terrifies me {anyone who says differently must be lying?!} but I'm weirdly looking forward to it too.

Pregnancy has been the hardest time I've ever had to face, and I know that being first-time parents and caring for a newborn is going to be a whole new mountain to climb. But I have never looked forward to something as much in my entire life. And I know that if I went back in time, and had to experience this whole journey again - including the hyperemesis and being pregnant during a pandemic - I would do it without a second's hesitation.

See you soon Baby Maggie May!

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