(I apologise for the brown ‘leisure wear’ – leggings weren’t around when I was pregnant, or, well, I certainly didn’t know about them…)
People who didn’t know or see me in those days often ask how big I looked. I didn’t think I ever really looked ginormous, but looking back on photos recently I did. Really really quite ginormous in fact. My husband often commented that I resembled Mr Greedy– a really long oblong tummy sticking out, but not that different everywhere else. I do recall after a scan towards the end of my pregnancy some well dressed suited man shouted at me across the hospital car park ‘Cor blimey luv, you look like you are ready to drop’ as I struggled to squeeze between parked cars dodging wing mirrors (it can be so hard to get to your car, let alone squeeze into when you are this big…)
Obviously everyone out and about sees a pregnant woman and wants to ask ‘When are you due? How many weeks are you?’. I used to get this a lot, and I really could not cope with the reactions from people when I told them I was expecting triplets, so I used to lie. Make it up. Although I was once caught out as my number of weeks and my due date did not tally with that of the pregnant daughter of the lady questioning me. Oh well.
To defy the consultant we hated by going past 32 weeks pleased me immensely. I was thrilled that my babies were still happy growing in me thus giving them excellent chances of survival on delivery.
And other than being elasti-girl with the never ending stretching tummy, I think there are other factors helped me with this.
- Work – finishing work at 18 weeks allowed me to take some stress out of my days.
- Active – ok, I didn’t do any exercise (and was advised not to, not even swimming which I had done regularly during my first pregnancy), but having an 18 month old to entertain certainly keeps you on your toes. I still took him to playgroup, art club, music class. I even took him swimming once a week and would just sit in the baby pool, hoping no one would notice my size under water. We didn’t go to the park as I didn’t fancy having to chase him, but I was still active – up to about week 31 when I had had enough of lying to people about when I was going to have them.
- Rest – I was strict in keeping my 18-month old to his long three hour naps in the afternoon, generally from 1pm to 4pm. I too would get into bed then and sleep – bliss. Not only did I need to keep him to this routine so I could rest, I knew I would need this time when the babies arrived. Ok, so he probably didn’t go to bed till about 8pm after such a long nap, but it worked for us at this time.
Morning sickness for me with my first pregnancy I think was fairly standard. It started about week eight and carried on to about week 14. Morning and evenings were the worst, and I was never actually sick, just spent a lot of time heaving. I remember walking to the office to work from the car park in the morning, doing a few heaves along the way. Certain smells used to really set me off heaving – the toilets at work had those little air fresheners in which do a polite ‘puff’ when you walk in to negate any impending smells you may make. They really made me heave. I can still smell them now. With my second pregnancy, it started around the same time again, but carried out a bit longer until about week 16 – a more intense feeling and I was actually sick this time. There are the usual things for dealing with morning sickness, ginger biscuits, dry biscuits, and I found sleep incredibly helpful, and was so tired during my second pregnancy, often in bed at 9.30pm which is not like me.
And the itching. I was so god damn itchy in the evenings and at night. Mainly my feet and legs. I would have to get out of bed and put my feet in a bowl of freezing water. Itchy skin is common during pregnancy and usually harmless, but it may be a sign of the liver condition’ Obstetric cholestasis’ that can occur during the second or third trimester. This can result in an increased risk of premature birth and foetal distress. The best thing to do if you do experience severe itchiness is mention it to your consultant and a blood test can confirm whether or not there is anything to worry about. In my case, luckily there wasn’t. That was my main ailment. That and heartburn, which I had with both pregnancies but much more significantly the second time. Gaviscon didn’t really do the trick but what else could a girl do. I did also seem to get some horrible back cramp sometimes in the evening whilst sitting on the sofa. My husband would have to pull me up (as he normally had to) and I would just do some stretches to ease it. I guess it was all that weight in my tummy pushing on my back when semi lying down.
Night time sleeping was proving difficult as in the case of lots of pregnant woman. Not only did I have the itchiness, I was also up on average for a wee about four or five times in the night. There always seemed to be a bit more to squeeze out. And I literally had to get out of bed a few times a night to let the babies rejiggle as at times they just weren’t comfortable so I had to stand up for a bit to let them sort themselves out. It was like having a belly full of gremlins…..