Do you want to know my main discovery? There is no 'normal' pregnancy.
There are expectant mothers that seem to flourish in pregnancy, right from day one. They manage to carry on with their normal lives, as if nothing much has changed, keeping up with outings, classes, exercise regimes and even managing to run marathons! Others report that they feel better than ever, and happily gloat about that elusive pregnancy 'glow' that some of us have been desperately waiting to miraculously appear...
Yup, you guessed it, I've been on the other side of the pregnancy camp entirely. I would even go so far as to say that my first three months has been nothing short of a long and exhausting struggle. Nevertheless, this definitely hasn't detracted from the excitement that's accompanied every little development, every time I've heard that rapid little heartbeat and seen our baby grow week by week in each scan...Yes, it's been tough, but it's also been the best three months of my life.
Here's a little summary of all the ups and downs. For those of you with a delicate constitution, or those who aren't a fan of TMI, I suggest you click away now!
How did I discover I was pregnant?
Towards the end of our honeymoon, I started to feel different. I can't put a finger on exactly what it was, but one night, sitting at dinner in Florence, I just kind of knew that I was pregnant. Lots of mums-to-be report a similar feeling - be it intuition or the change in hormones - sometimes you just know. Then my boobs started to tingle, and then really ache, and for me that confirmed it. Mr Sunshine needed a little more convincing however. When we arrived back in London for the final leg of our honeymoon, we rushed out to buy a pregnancy test at the first opportunity. I opted for a super-accurate digital one, just to be sure, and was a little surprised when "Pregnant 3+ weeks" popped up on the screen! Mr Sunshine's face was a picture when I showed him. Shock and then complete happiness! I was so relieved that he felt the same way as me about the news. Obviously this had all happened much more quickly than we had anticipated, but it wasn't unplanned. We had discussed all of the connotations in detail, like every sensible couple should do before making such a huge, life changing decision as this, and we already knew that the time was right.
So how far along am I, exactly?!
I am 12 weeks today! This week marks the end of my first trimester, or the first three months of pregnancy. Before you all go and do the math and start pointing any fingers, the doctors actually calculate this date from the date that you started your last period rather than the actual date of conception, so I did get pregnant after we got married. Just! According to our calculations is was probably the very first time we tried. We were just lucky in that respect I guess!
What am I looking like these days?
Pretty much the same, to most people. To me however, I feel like I look completely different! I think when you're used to your body looking and feeling a certain way, you notice even the tiniest change in the way your tummy sits, and how clothes fit you. Take a look at these photos and see what you think...
I am really embracing all of the changes that are happening to my body. They are a daily comfort to me that the little human inside of me is really there and growing at a rapid rate! I can't wait for the next month, when all of this is going to escalate, and my tummy will 'pop' out under my rib cage, and I will finally look properly pregnant to the outside world!
Why has it been so tough?
The number one reason is that I haven't had the safest or smoothest of pregnancies so far. I had a bleed at 5 weeks, and again at 9 weeks, the latter of which the doctors termed a 'threatened miscarriage'. When I heard those words they shot through me like a lightning bolt, and I will never forget them as long as I live. I was put on bed rest for a week and prescribed progesterone tablets to see me through to the end of the trimester. It was a really scary time, during which I convinced myself that we were definitely going to lose the baby. I berated myself for all of the things that I could have done wrong and read far too many scare stories on the internet. Towards the end of the week however, with the help of Mr S, I pulled myself together and started to think far more positively. After all, many many women (approximately 15-20%!!!) have a miscarriage in the first trimester, through no fault of their own, and the only thing you can do if there is threat of this happening is to rest and stay positive. What's more, we had seen our baby wriggling on the screen in a scan twice that week (one of the real perks of the excellent private healthcare in Qatar), and heard their little heart beat, signalling that everything was still going as it should be. I picked myself up out of my gloom and ever since then, things seem to have got a lot better. As we come to the end of the first trimester the risk of miscarriage reduces significantly, and we can start to rest easy at last!
Any other symptoms?
Oh, loads. Between weeks 5 and 10, my morning sickness lasted practically all day, and sometimes went on into the night. Particular low points included the time I threw up incessantly between 2am and 5am, and still dragged myself into work the next day, and the time my kind and caring husband brought me breakfast in bed and I promptly threw it back up all over him. See, I told you this wasn't a glamorous pregnancy!! Now that I've entered the 12 week mark, the physical sickness is lots better, but some of the other symptoms still prevail. A bit of nausea and lack of appetite. Occasional headaches. Dizziness. Achey, swollen boobs. Extreme fatigue and the need to nap ALL THE TIME. Luckily, Mr Sunshine is the best nurse/house husband in the world, and his patience and care has been an absolute life saver while I've been feeling so terrible. I'm not sure many husbands would let you sleep all evening while they go to the supermarket (to stock up on all the strange items you've requested), quietly make you dinner (for the umpteenth time that week) and hastily tidy up all the mess that you've made throughout the day around you. Thanks Mr S, you're the best!
So, um, are there any good things about being pregnant?
Sorry to save this nice bit for last but I think it's important to end on a positive note. There are a million and one absolutely amazingly wonderful things about being pregnant!
I suddenly feel like there is something bigger than just me, or Mr Sunshine and me to think about. We are already becoming less selfish in our lives.
I feel incredibly lucky and happy that we have been given this opportunity, and there isn't a night that I have fallen asleep, or a morning that I've woken up without a huge smile on my face. The things that used to really get me down no longer trouble me for long - they are so insignificant compared to what we are about to do.
I have a new-found appreciation for all of those other mothers and mothers-to-be out there. Friends, family, strangers I pass on the street...there is so much that they go through every day that is completely taken for granted. I think they all deserve their own medal.
I am really positive and excited about the future. Yes, it's going to be new and daunting and difficult. But it's also going to be the best thing that we will ever do. I can't wait to get started!