I'm currently 14 weeks pregnant... and I have a LOT to share, so settle in people (or Ctrl+W, those who aren't interested in other people's pregnancies).
It took us 1.5 years to get here (and one surgical procedure). One and a half years – it doesn't sound that long in retrospect, does it? But at the time, lived out in 28 day chunks, it felt like for-freakin-ever. Actually, for the first six months – the timeline I'd allowed myself – I was pretty sanguine about it, but beyond that, it became much harder. It's pretty hard to be chill when every media outlet around is scolding women about how little time they have left to procreate. When you clock another birthday closer to the big 4-0. When you've been fretting about your fertility since your early thirties. As this is my first pregnancy, I didn't even know whether I could conceive, let alone how long it might take.
We were actually booked in for our first IVF cycle, a step I was taking most reluctantly (thank god I dragged my feet).
So when the positive test finally arrived, I was... mostly confused, actually.
First of all, the line was so faint I thought I must have imagined it. It took several more tests, and a trip to the doctor to confirm that yes, that is an early positive result. A grin stole over my face when she delivered this news (no squealing, I'm not a squealer). I was excited but cautious. I wouldn't allow myself to be super-excited - I'm a grown up, I know the stats on miscarriage, I knew my age and history of endometriosis increased the risk.
During those early weeks, I monitored myself for symptoms - are my boobs sore today? Is my tummy especially bloated? I felt a little tired, but nothing too extreme. One day, reading the paper on my lunchbreak, I found myself tearing up uncontrollably over a story of a man who had stood up to some bullies harassing a couple of muslim ladies on the train, and felt weirdly pleased with myself. There were days I craved meat so badly, I devoured lamb chop after lamb chop while my husband looked on, laughing at how out of character it was. One day my eyes were so dry and sore I could barely open them, and they streamed with tears all day. Other days, I felt absolutely normal, and worried about feeling absolutely normal.
Around the week 7 mark, I started to feel a little seedy, and actually felt relieved – here was the classic, indisputable pregnancy symptom, proof that something was happening in there. It was a novelty at the beginning. I suspect I had romanticised morning sickness previously, when in reality, it's just like having food poisoning (or having had too much to drink the night before), but having it again and again without relief, for weeks on end. I am only physically sick in the mornings, but the nausea is constant and awful. Crackers, ginger, a spoonful of peanut butter, cheese, flat lemonade, B6 vitamins, medication – nothing has worked (I'm still suffering through it).
We told my family, who were also excited but cautious (it's genetic). We
told V's family soon after, and they were thrilled and full of advice,
in the typical Indian fashion. Eat walnuts, his mum advised. They're
good for the developing brain. And almonds. Drink 2 glasses of milk a
day. Don't worry about putting on weight, just eat what you feel like.
They insisted we tell his aunt, a doctor, so that we could have on-call
medical advice from a trusted family member. His Dad worried about me
riding my bike.
At week 11, we visited the obstetrician and were stunned into silence at the ultrasound image of a little creature moving in there. Is this real life? I wanted to ask V. Because it's still one step removed – you're watching it happen on a screen separate to your body – it feels unreal. You can see the movement happening, hear the galloping heartbeat, but there's no physical evidence of it in your body so it still feels unreal, intangible.
I developed a rash of intensely itchy spots on my torso, spreading up to the back of my neck and down to my belly. This is normal, apparently, for people with sensitive skin or previous skin problems. I prowl the pregnancy forums, searching for tips on how to relieve the insane itch that torments me day and night.
Is there some kind of conspiracy of silence around how much pregnancy sometimes sucks? Or did I just tune out all those conversations previously? The more people I talk to, the more I discover the disconnect between
what we expect pregnancy to be, and what it is actually like. It's different for everyone, of course, but for me the first trimester has been a strange journey of new experiences, physical discomfort, tears of distress at times, and the odd moment of elation.
I guess it's good preparation for what's to come..?