What does it feel like to be pregnant? Shock, at first. Disbelief.
“But doctor, are you sure.”
“Yes dear” she will say “this is what happens when you have sex.”
“But are you sure?”
You acknowledge that sometimes a soul decides when it will be created — and actually, that is beautiful and perfect.
This is followed by three months of constant nausea.
Do you know that feeling when you wake up after a big night out and you feel one part hungry and two parts, oh god, I’m about to throw up….? That’s the feeling of morning sickness and it is relentless. All day and all night.
The smell of your husbands deodorant and wafts of his coffee make you dry heave. Nearly all food is off-putting. Except plain potato chips.
Morning sickness sounds cute because, oh you’re pregnant! And oh you feel a little unwell! And oh, you can’t tell anyone! But it is debilitating and tiring and all you can do it survive.
You cry for no reason.
Sleep helps. For much of those months, you very well may sleep nine hours a night and then nap two hours in the afternoon.
Your breasts are sore and tender. And big.
You have to fit in blood tests and doctor visits and scans.
You will tear up when you see the babies little head and perfectly formed arms and legs for the first time. You might be lucky enough to see a little wave and hear a little heart beat, and actual tears will roll down your cheeks.
It’s heart will be beating some 150 times a minute. And you will wonder, how something so little can need so much pumping?
At that point all the sickness and all the pain won’t matter. You would go through it 1000 times just to see that you have a healthy and happy little being inside of you.
Which is lucky, because the sickness will continue and it will worsen.
You may be rostered on 5am shifts for the entire three months.
At one point you might bleed. It may happen at 13 weeks, just a couple of days after you start telling people the lovely news.
Blood streaming down your legs and onto the bathroom floor.
“Oh god I’m losing you,” you will say as your husband drives you to the hospital.
Don’t worry. The baby will be fine. It’s a haematoma that your body has expelled. The doctor seems non-plussed. “It happens somethings,” she says. (By week 19 it will be gone).
At one point you will cry to your mother on the phone and she will have shower you with sympathy and then a stern dose of reality, that you so desperately need.
“You can’t just expect to be able to do all the things you used to do and run around and work and play sport and go out and just go, go, go non-stop,” she will tell you.
She will say things like: “Do you realise the task your body is undertaking?”
And: “Your body is in an entirely different zone now – it is forming a brain and bones and eye balls and finger nails and fingerprints.”
“You need to rest and relax and let your body do its thing.”
“Your body is putting the baby first. You come second now.”
And you will think, oh yeah. She is right.
Then you will get the flu.
Then eventually, like clouds parting, the nausea and the exhaustion will ease. It will happen over several days.
“You’ve started to glow” your husband will say.
Suddenly, you will realise you feel better. Much better. You can eat properly and go for walks and you don’t have to nap all the time.
Your tummy will pop out a little, then a lot, and the rest of your body will expand. Your bum and thighs. Your arms and fingers. Your breasts will grow even bigger. You are bloated and swollen.
Your body feels alien. Sometimes it feels uncomfortable and out-of-control. But mostly it is wonderful, a source of awe.
Time to get new clothes. Your body is completely changing shape and you are only four months in. You feel better in your body when you are wearing clothes that are designed precisely for it. You are comfortable.
Your husband will love your new little bump. He will rub it and hug it and kiss it. It is something tangible that he can see and touch.
There are long lists of what you can and can’t eat. What you can and can’t do. And these lists may be a source of great stress and guilt.
You will, inevitably, break the “rules” – you may even do it knowingly. You might drink some wine or eat a pre-prepared salad with cold chicken. You may eat something that has been in the fridge too long. All big NO’s on the list.
Don’t beat yourself up. There are risks too every time you get in the car. There are risks too when you eat foods that are deemed “safe”.
You will learn to stop looking at pregnancy forums and at unsourced advice online. Everyone has a different opinion. It makes you feel judged and guilty and none of it is medically sound.
Instead, you will start to write down questions and ask your doctor or the midwife at the next appointment.
At 18 weeks your baby will be 14cm long and you are already smitten. You are irrevocably in love, completely and unconditionally devoted. You will already do anything for this child – and it’s not even born.
Next week you will find out if it is a girl or a boy.