Having a baby was planned. Planned by me for a few years, maybe not so many for Ben. But then, it all seemed to happen so quickly. We made the definite decision, and then there I was holding a positive test in a hotel room in Devon.
In the week before I was travelling by myself in Devon and Cornwall and I’d noticed I was going to the toilet all the time, but I’d always drank a lot and weed a lot (TMI?). At the time, I thought it was just me – I didn’t know ‘frequent urination’ was a sign of pregnancy.
It was when Ben joined me for the second week of the trip in St Ives and kindly questioned if I had some sort of bladder infection that I realised it’d gotten ridiculous. I’ll Google it later.
Over the next few days we had a great time in St Ives and my bladder calmed down. We had a rainy weekend in the Scilly Isles and were back in Plymouth when I finally admitted to myself there was definitely something going on. The main symptom was, I didn’t want to drink alcohol. Oh, and now my period was late. The night before we found out, at the Plymouth Marco Pierre White restaurant, I couldn’t stand even a sip of the wine.
I’d take a test in the morning.
Finally, after an epic sleep (great hotel room), I went to Boots and bought a test.
Taken there, in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Plymouth, it was positive – 3+ weeks.
We were stunned to silence.
It was a lot to process. I’ve seen the odd pregnancy test videos on YouTube with them ecstatically jumping around, or crying with happiness. Neither of us really knew what to say.
I’d wanted this so much, but then it happened and I was speechless. Thoughtless in fact, except for ‘wow’.
We carried on with the day. Settling into the idea of becoming parents with Afternoon Tea at the Burgh Island Hotel, as one does. And my first no-alcohol gin cocktail.
From then on my calendar was packed for a month, with family, friends and social events. All I really wanted to do though, was sleep.
Just three days after finding out and I was driving 7 hours on a super hot day to the Lake District. I hiked up a hill in the Lake District for 8 hours with a 13kg-ish backpack, with the intention to wild camp. It was pushing 7pm and I had to tell our instructor Dougie that I was reaching my limit, which I was.
I was desperately trying to get signal on my phone to see if this was a good idea when you’re some amount of weeks pregnant, but I’d come so far, I couldn’t exactly just roll down the hill to stop. I had no idea we’d be going quite that distance. I justified to my brain that women did a lot more than this on 4-7 weeks pregnant, it had to be ok.
The next day was much easier, and then we went wild swimming. The cooling water was a sweet nectar to my overheating.
I was exhausted for most of those four days. I had no idea early pregnancy was so draining. I didn’t tell my friends Helen and Sabina what I was going through, but somehow managed to get away with not drinking wine with them with no questions asked.
Ben and I had decided we needed time with the information to ourselves.
The general worry, the media hype over my age, me not being super healthy, not actually even having time to process it ourselves yet, identity – all these things made me glad I’d listened to Ben and hadn’t blurted it from the rooftops like I’d wanted to.
A few days after the Lake District my friend Mel came to stay for a whole week. I had to keep making up excuses to nap. I didn’t tell her either.
With all these social events avoiding alcohol was difficult. Although, not as difficult as I thought. I managed to skim over it with Sabina and Helen in the Lake District, my Southsea friends don’t actually drink that much anyway and with lockdown we’ve tended to meet for paddleboard sessions or lunches, rather than evening drinking sessions, and Mel was very understanding with me talking about ‘healthier lifestyles’.
I seemed to get away with it – no probing questions asked.
Even when my London friends came down to Southsea, and I went with my family to the Isle of Wight – amazingly me avoiding alcohol wasn’t an issue. The worry of what I was going to tell them was much more difficult than actually not drinking.
One of the hardest parts, especially with all the trips I had booked in June, was eating out. I was disgusted by most food. I realised that meat was the main issue. The smell of it cooking, the taste, the grease, the texture… bleugh.
I went for one particularly disgusting meal in Southsea, at Carter and Co, with two friends. I’d been so excited to book it, but everything was foul. I realise now it was my food aversions but I can guarantee I’ll never go there again, even walking past it brings back vomitty memories. For weeks after I just had to think of the lamb and it’d make me heave.
For the last 8 weeks it’s been difficult to finish a meal, or even cook a meal. By the time it was done, I didn’t want it. If I didn’t need to eat a wide diet for the baby, I would’ve happily survived on ham sandwiches, crisps and chocolate. From drinking three cups of coffee and a tea every day, I don’t drink any now. Just don’t want to. I miss sushi, I miss chorizo, I miss tuna, but apart from that, the restrictions are ok.
The food aversions and general disgust of food in weeks 5 to 12 have made me lose 9 pounds, despite not even breaking a sweat. I’m the lightest I’ve been in a while, which seems mad at 13 weeks pregnant!
At 9 weeks I wanted some sort of further confirmation of the pregnancy, something more than sore boobs, nausea and a racing heart that told me this was finally really happening. We went to Window in the Womb, and had a scan.
Seeing the baby on screen, so small, but so… baby like, was magical but also… strange. I felt like I was meant to cry, like the women on the films. But mostly, I just thought, COOL! / science! / so it does work!
There he/she was, floating around.
Ben was holding my hand while this doctor had some sort of camera up my fadge and I knew I was meant to be mature about the situation, but as I took my watering eyes off the screen the weirdness of this situation took over and any emotional feelings were pushed down again.
I haven’t acted as I thought I would in pregnancy. I guess it’s from not telling people, or having anyone but Ben to share these 12 weeks with. And I guess loads of people are quiet about their first 12 weeks, it’s the ones who aren’t that you hear from. I genuinely never knew how stressful and tiring the first trimester is, and it’s really showed me how hard it is for any pregnant women when they’re expected to keep it to themselves for this time. Especially if it’s been in the last two years with COVID around.
In my first trimester we’ve had two of the ‘hottest’ days ever and they were tough. Don’t know how more pregnant people manage. As soon as I get hot, I feel sick, and then I’m grouchy.
I haven’t taken photos of my expanding belly, or bought any baby stuff, or even really made any plans to prepare for baby. I think I’m still in a bit of disbelief stage. I’ll move to the planning stage after the next scan.
I’ve been nervous and anxious, and just kept telling myself something would be wrong – not even feeling it, but just making myself worry over nothing. I signed up to the Peanut App, but apart from telling me it was probably the Pregnacare vitamins that were making me feel so sick, which they were right about, I feel it was more damaging.
‘Miscarriage’ was the elephant in the room. The thought of it was terrifying and I didn’t even want to see the word written down. With so many of my friends having gone through it, I was terrified and didn’t need reminding of the dangers at this time.
I’ve continued to paddleboard, to sea swim, my dizziness has meant yoga has been tough, but I’ve attempted to keep up with my semi active life.
My friend Fiona said when she found out she was pregnant she just knew it’d be ok, so I’ve tried to channel that confidence. It’s been a comfort, until the last week of the First Trimester that is.
One of the biggest worries of my many worries in the First Trimester of my first pregnancy was around the second vaccine.
I read, and I read and I read – should I have it?
I went to the vaccine centre on my allotted day, when I was 9 weeks pregnant for some advice – a very young man there told me to wait till 12 weeks. But he was one of the stewards rather than a doctor but wouldn’t let me in to speak to anyone trained.
I spoke to the hopeless receptionist at my surgery, who was rude and useless.
At the time there wasn’t a definitive answer as whether you should have it or not, only that COVID in pregnancy can be awful, fatal even. After much research and worry I decided I wanted the vaccine. I just had to put my faith in the NHS decision makers. It didn’t help with some friends saying ‘who knows what the vaccine will do?’. Or people voicing that they didn’t trust it. I decided I’d rather my baby and I be like the rest of the nation than stuck with the anti vaxxers, and went for it.
I turned up and they said I should have Pfizer, which I wasn’t ready for as Astra Zeneca was my first one and what I’d mentally prepared for. Then they started giving me a spiel about how you shouldn’t mix vaccines though and they didn’t do that there. Which I didn’t ask for anyway.
Essentially, they added to the stress and worry for no reason.
We agreed to stick to the Astra Zeneca plan.
It was horrible to think of the consequences of what I’d done, but as I walked out I felt a massive release. It was done now.
Only about a fortnight later they came out with a campaign to encourage pregnant women to get the vaccine anyway. Every sign I saw, or interview I heard, made me feel that bit better and secure in my decision.
The last week of the first trimester was really hard.
One of my best friends came to Southsea to see us with her family from 4 hours away, but that morning Ben had a positive lateral flow test after feeling rough for a few days. I felt fine but I couldn’t see them, it wouldn’t be right. So after a weekend in the house when I should’ve been out having a lovely time in Southsea with them, his PCR came back positive.
Awful for him, but it was also the week of the all important 12-week scan, which we were due to have at 13 weeks as Portsmouth Hospital was behind schedule thanks to a baby boom. I was distraught that I wouldn’t get my baby to the most important test of their life so far. There was no way we could go though, and it’d have to be delayed till we were better – which meant certain tests the NHS deemed essential wouldn’t be able to be done.
The worry and anxiety about him, and about the baby was a lot to cope with. I sobbed on the phone to the midwife, and could barely get my words out.
We decided to isolate from each other as well as the world, but 10 days by myself at this time was mind bending. Combined with the worry of me getting it from him and it affecting the baby. I kept reading the same articles online that told me it’d be ok if I did get it, and scrolling on past any articles that questioned that theory to try and stay mentally strong.
I pushed out any thoughts of him not being here to see the baby as quickly as they entered my brain. He’s in his 30s, he’s double vaxxed, he’ll be fine… (but will he?).
Sitting around for ten days is not good for an anxious pregnant person. Thank god I had work to keep me busy, and decided to write about the last three months in this blog post while I sat outside in the hottest week of the year away from the germs in the house.
Then, a day after his positive test result, he came downstairs to tell me he thought he had appendicitis and it was getting worse.
I never knew I’d be Googling whether to take my boyfriend to hospital with suspected appendicitis if I was pregnant and he had COVID. Turns out there’s not much on the topic.
No hospital in Portsmouth where we live would see him because of the COVID, and so he had to drive to Southampton – an hour away. He didn’t want us to be so close in the car so he went on his own. Me worrying for the three hours he was gone, catastrophising that his appendix would explode while he was driving causing all kinds of carnage on the motorway.
Turns out it was COVID pains, which can manifest in all kinds of ways. Two days later the suspected appendicitis was gone. But a day after that, as we entered the Second Trimester, my PCR test came back positive. I had COVID too, and as my second vaccine was only done a week ago, I wasn’t fully covered either.
So, 13 weeks pregnant, both parents with COVID, both in isolation, no one knows about the baby but us – and I was losing my mind. Truly a 2021 pregnancy. This wasn’t going to be easy…