Thursday, 30 August 2012

Thoughts of a first-time pregnant.

I know I should post a bump picture but I am more fascinated by this picture I found earlier today of me in Venice in March of this year. I am not a woman mountain! A relatively flat stomach, I can't even imagine it.

I've tried to write this post a few times over the last few weeks, but always had to stop halfway as it turned into too big a moan-fest. You might have noticed I haven't posted for a while. (Well, other than a sponsored post, the proceeds of which bought me a much-needed new coffee machine, OK?)

The thing is, I have been absolutely, totally kiboshed by this pregnancy. I'll admit something now that won't cast me in a particularly flattering light: I used to be one of those people who thought pregnants shouldn't moan. Like, you chose to get knocked-up, so deal with it, Bumpy. I remember reading this article about not wanting children by Polly Vernon and guiltily agreeing with a lot of what she wrote. I would always be the first to offer my tube seat to a pregnant lady, or dash to help carry their pram down the steps – well brought up, me – but a small part of me would be grudgingly thinking, 'Mehhhh, I'm tired too! I've got a hangover and I've been at work all day, we all make our choices!'

Well, I would like to publicly declare: I Was Wrong. Yeah, you might knowingly decide to get knocked up. But, if it's your first pregnancy, like me, you will not know about the insane exhaustion, constant sickness and myriad random other symptoms that you will have to deal with. Your right hand appears to have clenched into an agonising claw that you can't straighten out? Yeah. Deal. That popping noise? Oh, it was just your hip joint. You probably won't be able to walk properly now, sorry. Every time you eat the smallest morsel of food, a snake of stomach acid slithers up your throat? Ambassador, you are spoiling us.

And on top of that, you still have to deliver at work, cook, maintain friendships, clean the house. Y'know, just life as normal.

In my case, on top of the generic pregnancy symptoms, I have also managed to be the lucky one in a hundred women that develops a strange liver complaint which means I itch. Constantly. And have done since 10 weeks. I'm now 32 weeks. I haven't slept more than 3 hours in 22 weeks. Some nights I don't sleep at all.  That's nearly six months of hardly any sleep. And itching. Constantly.

I mean, not to obsess about it, but I am absolutely EXHAUSTED. I've had to leave work ahead of my planned leave date which, as a self-employed person, sucks. Poor husband is knackered, as he tries to sleep through a mess of itching, scratching, wriggling, spraying of products, rubbing-in of creams and general nocturnal comings-and-goings. (Oh yeah, there's also the constant weeing, as babies love using bladders as cushions.)

I have to go to hospital three times a week, for monitoring and tests. As I progressively feel worse, they threaten progressively harder to throw me in the labour ward to be monitored until I'm ready to birth; a scenario that I am naturally keen to avoid. (As lovely as the midwives are, I'll take my perfectly calibrated home comforts and fridge access, please! Don't make me go to the labour ward!)

But. BUT! Of course it is not all bad. We get more and more excited as the due date gets closer. We had a scan at the weekend and saw a blinking eye. Another scan showed him asleep, with one hand resting on top of his head, just like his dad. We've got a huge chest full of neatly-folded onesies, mittens and bear suits, waiting for his arrival. The Bugaboo – yeah, cliché – is nestled in the corner, ready for action. I'm more excited than I have been since Christmas as a kid. Or, maybe since my first trip to New York.

I'm just amazed at the shift between where I am now and my attitude before. So yeah, if you're on the tube and a pregnant hobbles on, face as grey as the British summer sky and holding on for dear know what to do.
[I'm as big as a house, and probably have about five weeks left, as I will be delivering early due to the itch sitch – it brings an increased risk of still-birth if left to go full-term. I've almost totally given up work now, with just a replacement to find and a hand-over to do. I'm learning to drive, with my test booked about a week before the arrival date! And other than that, I'm planning to do a lot of reading. In bed. Between naps. Currently loving the new Amy Sohn, Motherland- awesome Brooklyn trash-lit. And this Ruth Reichl book, Garlic And Sapphires, about being the New York Times restaurant critic, as recommended on A Cup of Jo.]


  1. Sounds utterly vile, you have my sympathy (as someone also firmly in the you-brought-this-on yourself camp ;) But I'm sure it will be worth it...

  2. Yes yes yes, a hundred times yes... I agree with all you've said. Pregnancy is simultaneously the worst and the best thing EVER.

    Really hoping the itching doesn't get worse and you stay out of hospital. And I'm halfway through another of Amy Sohn's novels: Park Slope. Loving it! x

  3. Blimey! I hope you can stay out of the ward for as long as you want. Good luck with it all! :)

  4. Caroline - sending you big hugs across the Irish Sea! As a non-mummy myself, you have my complete admiration and quite a bit of envy - I know this will be so wonderful for you both and you will be such a great mummy! Stay out of that hospital for as long as you can! x

  5. It's been a long, hard journey for you but the end is in sight now. Hopefully you'll soon forget the unpleasant bits and won't it be great to get some sleep again -(even with a wakeful tiny baby you'll get more than you do now).
    Enjoy your books - I might try one of those - although I've just discovered the long awaited sequel to "Restoration" is due out next week.x

  6. Sending you much love and admiration - you will be a brilliant, fun, perfect mum. Fingers crossed the itching stops and you get some rest once he's born. Can't wait to meet him and see if he's got your amazing blue eyes! xxx

  7. Cazzy, sending you much love and admiration from Newcastle. You are going to be a brilliant, fun mum. Fingers crossed the itching stops and you stay out of hosp for as long as possible. Just put your feet up and nap, nap, nap. Can't wait to meet him and find out if he's got your amazing blue eyes! xxx

  8. Oh, pregnancy is such a constant challenge. Wishing all the best for your itching, it will be worth the agony when you have your baby, I'm sure. So many people just totally fail to 'get' how awful it can if they have no experience of being up the duff. I constantly got it in the neck from friends and colleagues during my first pregnancy as the first one to start a family. They soon learnt when it was their turn!

  9. Oh poor you! So unfair about the lack of sleep pre baby! But it is soooo worth it. Just cuddled Freddie to sleep, best thing ever.

    I had some evil blinking at 25 weeks and was paranoid about pre eclempsia, turned out to be iron deficit, but my whole pregnancy since week 16 was overshadowed by high risk Down syndrome in a really big way. Whoever said pregnancies were enjoyable lied.

    I was surprised by how many women vs men gave up their seat for me. And the whole buggy thing - I used to think 'if you cannot handle the pram don't go on the tube' but it of course changed.

    I love my Bugaboo btw, may be a cliche but it definitely makes life easier and the bubs (little boy ahem) loves it too.

    And I am doing my driving license now and my exam is so soon I dream about it every night, arghh. Got some herbal calming remedy for the test. Yuck.

    The best of luck Caroline, it will be the most amazing thing you ever did. Now it's all about you! x

  10. C-No, you may be itchy and exhausted, but you still made me snort coffee over my iPhone at the Ambassador you are spoiling us line. You'll def get more sleep when little dude arrives. Well, unless you get one that likes to feed every hour between midnight and six. Yawn!

  11. Great post. And a good reminder...just when I was getting broody for number two...It's so true what they say about forgetting all the rubbish bits!
    PS I know it's annoying when people say get as much sleep as you can (when you can't) etc. etc. but enjoy your reading time...such luxuries are a struggle P.P. (post pregnancy). Also, go out to the cinema and for dinner with the husband every night till baby arrives...I miss that soooooo much!

  12. Sending some love from the states!!!!!! Pregnancy SUCKS!!!! Anyone who tells ya it's not, are big fat liars!!!!!!! I had a piss poor pregnancy too. I threw up every single night for the first 18 weeks. All while everyone kept saying "oh you should be over that by now"....shut the hell up, I'm not over it already!!!! I had terrible back pain, my boobs started to leak A LOT by 20 weeks and stayed strong the entire pregnancy, my back killed, I couldn't sleep, I went into preterm labor at 32 weeks and was given meds to lower my blood pressure to 70/40. If you know blood pressure, you know this is LOW. It made me feel like a dead fish. If you need someone else to sympathize with come see me at and we can whine to each other as often as we please! I sure know my husband is sick of hearing how sick I am- btw we are 11 weeks with #2 :)

  13. Well written, well said, well done.
    I can't say more other than pregnancy really is the most contradictory of challenges and tasks in life and one can't fully understand it till they go through it. I felt very guilty for a long time not to enjoy my pregnancy but the simple truth is, it ain't easy. As you know, I am thinking of you always *x*

  14. Bloody hell - I should have read this before I sent you that 'I've heard you're poorly' email! So sorry to hear you're struggling honey but there is light at the end of the tunnel in the form of your gorgeous son.

    If you're up for visitors maybe George and I can pop over one arvo?


  15. congrats on the baby!

  16. WOW Caroline, we are so excited. This is the first time that we stop your blog and we discover your are pregnant ..... We have no words .... I would have many things to say to you but I'm really excited .... a big big big hug from our family and o big kiss from Leo our baby 3 years old

    xoxo Cesy from Lelli, italian fashion family

  17. Ah yes, those symptoms remind me of my pregnancy. Everything you have described. The sickness, the tiredness, the sleeplessness, the itching. I also stuffed pickle onions down my throat like no tomorrow and couldn't get enough of ice cream. But all worth it! And Arthur is gorgeous. Fleur.

  18. I love that this is so honest, and I love that you've been so honest. I'm starting my own journey, and while it's early days yet, I have no doubt much of this is to come. Although, the going to the loo four times during the night has already begun... hope everything is well with you and your little one as you live the reality of it now!