I’d like to thank Janine for offering me the chance to blog on the ups and downs of pregnancy – I wish I had done this the first time around, but I was too busy lovingly caressing my midriff, buying tiny clothes and marvelling at my new found ability to put away cake to do anything else at all. This is my second pregnancy and as we plan to stop at two, my last. So it will be a pleasure to document it for posterity and hopefully to share with others the knowledge that they are not alone, and that it’s perfectly normal to lay awake for half an hour at 4am wondering if you should get up and eat a strawberry Muller Light Greek Style Corner (other yoghurts are available). (I didn’t in the end but only for fear of waking my toddler who was sleeping badly at the time. If it’s your first, then By Jove get up and eat that yoghurt, lady!)
My reaction upon finding out I was pregnant this time around was quite different to the first time, when I was home alone, seized with panic (despite the fact it was planned), and crying out of sheer disbelief that it had happened so quickly, and that it would mean forgoing my Christmas glass (bucket) of wine (completely irrational of course!). I actually had to sit down to stop myself falling down with the sheer shock that my body had done what it was supposed to do, and without too much resistance. This time around, my 18-month old daughter was recovering from a stomach bug, my husband was still suffering, we were tired and fraught and just about managed to share a smile and a squeeze before I had to head off for work. There was less a sense of shock but more a sense of relief that the job was done and I could just sit back and enjoy (!) my pregnancy.
12 or so weeks later and I’m riding the pregnancy rollercoaster for the second time, and whilst they say that every pregnancy is different, there are plenty of similarities too. The main difference has been the focus which, instead of the round-the-clock navel-gazing, is probably roughly comprised of the following: 50% toddler, 15% university course, 10% work, 10% give me that ice-cream, 8% bump, 5% not falling asleep at any given moment, 2% cheese. (Does that even add up to 100%? I’m too tired to care). It’s not that I forget I’m pregnant… it’s just that I forget to THINK about it. Don’t get me wrong, there are still those moments where I check Babycentre and find out what fruit or vegetable the squiglet is the same size as that week, and what it’s busy growing (hair on its back, apparently – not weird at all), but when you’re chasing a vivacious, quirky, but demanding toddler around the house/garden/Tescos there just isn’t the brain space to focus on the miracle that’s occurring in your very own belly (especially when said toddler has lifted a jar of asparagus and some mustard powder from the shelves she could reach and is running full speed for the exit).
Which makes it all the more of a surprise when I experience a wave of symptoms. My first trimester was rife with nausea and fatigue, worse than the first time around, probably due to my then 18-month old going through a tortuous sleep regression, along with a series of minor (but exhausting) family illnesses. Then it all went quiet for a few weeks as the second trimester arrived (that one’s the easy one, don’t you know), and I could genuinely go for hours at a time without even thinking about it. Then, week 15 hit and BAM. My body had lulled me into a false sense of security; I’d been thinking it felt calmer and less emotional than last time. Not anymore. Baby brain came crashing onto the scene, shredding all semblance of order in my life, and I found myself making stupid mistakes at work, fumbling my way through the simplest of conversations and forgetting things I’d been told just seconds earlier. The hormones landed like a tonne of bricks and the irrational crying started – TV shows, charity adverts in the cinema, news stories – yes, this was all starting to feel very familiar (atleast it hasn’t yet reached the peak of last time around, when I had a total emotional breakdown at the shadow puppet act from Britain’s Got Talent. Give it time, though). Most days I was a winning combination of angry, frustrated and/or intolerant, yet I was completely unable to articulate a single word of my feelings due to (a) the actual inability to form coherent sentences and (b) the fact that every time I tried to speak I wanted to burst into tears. Oh pregnancy, you wiley old fox. You almost had me fooled! But I see you haven’t changed at all!
But the pay-off? Well, my hair looks bloody fantastic (if I do say so myself). The second trimester glow has bestowed itself upon me a little early which is nice, plus as a second timer (and also starting out with a few extra pounds around the middle), I’ve already got a decent-sized bump to show for my efforts, which means I can proudly parade around work or the shops already feeling like a bona fide member of the bump brigade (last time I didn’t show until halfway through and was most indignant about it – I almost made a sign to hang around my neck – ‘Pregnant! Honest!’). On the down side, I wasn’t prepared for the early onset blooming and haven’t had time to shop for maternity clothes yet so I’m living in leggings (literally – Every. Single. Day). Also, the tiny movements that I was so thrilled to feel at just 16 weeks last time are mysteriously absent this time. Leaving me to wonder (a) is everything alright in there? (Thankfully I heard the heartbeat at this week’s midwife appointment so I know all is well). (b) Is it because I is have too much ‘padding’ and just can’t feel what’s going on yet? Or is it perhaps (c) this baby is just plain lazy. (My little girl was absolutely manic as a bump – I sometimes struggled to believe there was only one of her in there). There have been rumblings… vibrations even? But none of the trademark ‘butterfly wing flutters’ and nothing that I can pinpoint definitively as a little elbow digging in my belly button (even though I know logically it’s far too early for that).
And I can’t let this blog post conclude without sharing the news that my sense of smell has reached actual superhero levels. If sense of smell was in fact a superpower that could be of use to anyone, ever. On the days I’m not completely stuffed up (pregnancy rhinitis again, hurrah) I can smell what everyone who walks past me in town has had for lunch (without exception, they’ve all had garlic), and I can smell cigarette smoke from a hundred paces. Sadly I can’t think of a single practical use for this incredible skill, other than to retrain as a sniffer dog. But as I haven’t been craving bonemeal treats (yet) I’ll reserve my talents for the glorious scent of cheese on toast (mmm) which I’m currently craving by the bucketload (someone dress me up in a Lady Gaga-style cheese-on-toast dress and I will be the happiest girl on the planet. And naked within three minutes).
As I continue down the long and sometimes bumpy path to my second bundle of joy, I would say that on the whole (charity TV advert breakdowns aside) this time around I am calmer, more content, and more prepared for what may come – although given the variety of WWE-style wrestling holds my daughter is apparently able to perform on her doll whilst trying to complete the tender, loving task of changing the poor thing’s nappy, managing this second baby is going to come with a whole new set of challenges…
Join me next month for another instalment of my pregnancy blog…