Things nobody tells you about being pregnant

There is so much nobody tells you about being pregnant. Here’s the story from my first 12 weeks.

There is so much that nobody will tell you about being pregnant. Here’s the story from my first 12 weeks.

If you’re a regular reader here and you didn’t know the happy news: I’m up the duff! We are happily into Week 13 of child Numero Uno. The time is disappearing rather quickly.

Falling pregnant is a lot like having an abortion. It’s not until you get pregnant (or have an abortion) that suddenly people talk about the nitty-gritties of their own experiences. Except for one thing: Pregnancy brings out the Big Fucking Nasty Lady in literally every single woman that you meet. Abortion brings out the OMG I Had One Too in your friends, as well as compassion and bonding. Weird eh?

Anyway, without further ado, here is what I have learned about this pregnancy. If you’re newly pregnant and you land on this blog, may it help you, somehow. 🙂

DISCLAIMER: Every pregnancy is different. This is just my experience of this one.

1. Your doctor will ask you if this is your first pregnancy.

Note, pregnancy. Not child.

When I was first asked this, I was happy that I was actively listening. Even so, it caused me to stop and pause a moment.

It’s not my first pregnancy. It’s the first pregnancy I’m keeping. And that’s exactly what I told that GP.

Everyone has her own reasons for terminating a pregnancy. In my case, it was just not the right time, in many ways. This time, weirdly, it’s accidentally perfect.

2. You feel like you’re moving through sludge for at least 11 weeks.

As an active person, this was the main thing that took me aback and made me sad. For the majority of the first trimester, I literally had to slow down. I felt like my body was moving through sludge.

The first indication I had that maybe I was pregnant was in a ballet class. I would have been four weeks pregnant, tops. And I went to class, and died. The barre that was normally enough to raise my heart rate caused my face to flush, my energy to leak out of my limbs, and my brain to start yelling what the effing hell? I’d had a big night the night before, but tiredness and sludge are two very different things.

Imagine doing all your normal exercise in water, but the water has been thickened with some epic type of gelatine that makes movement really tiring and effortful. It’s kind of like that.

3. Concentrating on anything is really fucking hard work.

Imagine that you feel like you could sleep for your country. And then, every time you’re awake, you feel sick. And tired. And like you just want to stop and stare into space and rest.

Now, try doing any kind of intellectual work on top of that feeling. Or getting up at your usual hour to go to work. Or keeping up with the housework. Or going shopping. Or driving your car.

Or anything, really.

I am one happy mofo that I work from home, because I tell ya: There is no way I would have survived those first 12 weeks if I had had to go into an office, at a time set by someone else, to do a job measured by someone else.

I am now firmly of the opinion that women ought to have the option to work if they’re pregnant. At least until your placenta is in place and your body isn’t doing all the work to grow another person all by itself.

4. Nausea is killed by eating.

Surprised? Yeah, I was too. To be fair, my “morning” sickness was/is fairly minor. It was more like being seasick for the entire day until I went to sleep.

And then I worked out that if I ate, I didn’t feel sick.

So then I panicked that I wanted to eat all day. But that’s kind of ok. The trick, I found, was to eat fairly constantly, but to be mindful of what you’re eating.

5. Multivitamins stop insane cravings.

Now, confession time. I didn’t start taking multivitamins for weeks, because of several dietary intolerances. Commercially available product isn’t suitable for me (contains fish, gluten, corn, colours, etc…), so I had to get mine prescribed by a dietician.

In between times, I was mad for pies. That’s all I wanted to eat, for at least a fortnight.

Once I started taking the vitamins, the insane desire for things fell away and my relationship with food became much more normal again.

6. You’ll want to (and NEED to!) drink lakes of water.

Yes, you’ll wake up at night with a dry mouth. Yes, you’ll drink water constantly. Yes, you’ll feel like there is something super wrong with your otherwise healthy body.

But here’s the thing. In the first trimester, you create about another litre of blood! Plus, it’s not just you using the hydration. It’s you and another being.

So, drink the damned water. Drink it, drink it, drink it.

7. You’ll pee constantly until about Week 10.

And I mean, constantly. Besides all the water you’re now drinking, you’re also a peeing machine.

I’ll tell you a story.

Before I knew that I was pregnant, I had started waking up at 2 am every morning. I was way too hot, I really had to pee, and I was grumpy as fuck. Every. Goddamned. Day.

And then I found out I was pregnant. And that’s when I found out that the constant peeing is a Real Thing in early pregnancy. It’s legitimately the first I’d heard of it! Seriously, the sisterhood’s ability to communicate in Western societies REALLY needs some work.

So, peeing. All the peeing. And then I got to Week 10 and it eased off.

I’m still getting up at 2 am every day, but now it’s kind of Normal and I just accept it.

8. Your body temperature will increase.

One morning, after I’d slept on the couch (it was more comfortable), I was wrapped in a sleeping bag. My husband got up, flicked the cover off me, touched my skin, and literally leapt backwards.

‘You’re burning hot!’ he exclaimed.

‘Am I?’ I was puzzled. I didn’t feel hot.

Then I started to worry. Did that mean I was sick?

Not at all, in fact, perfectly healthy. It turns out that your body temperature rises when you’re pregnant, because you’ve become a Human Incubator. I didn’t wear a long-sleeved top for at least ten weeks, even when my friends were sending me text messages of themselves on the couch under an electric blanket.

That’s when another friend (a mum) laughed and said, ‘Ohhh yeah, pregnant ladies in thongs and t-shirts when everyone else is freezing.’

And all I could think was, why didn’t anyone tell me? I spent a goodly fifteen minutes worried about it until I learned it was normal.

9. You’ll want all the sex.

Ok, so to be fair this one is pretty well known. A raging sex drive is extremely common in early pregnancy. In fact, I remember it from my previous pregnancy!

When I found myself thinking about masturbating all day long, it should’ve been a clue. But, hey, I was slow on the uptake.

The funny thing is, it can take a while for you and your partner to really get in sync again sexually. And I attribute literally all of this to hormonal changes. In my relationship, we are really in sync. When I’m in a non-pregnant state, we both know that I am ovulating when we are both raring to go. So for a while, even though we could fuck literally all the time, neither of us could be bothered!

10. Blood noses become a fixture after 11 weeks

So, here’s a thing I didn’t realise: Because your body has so much more blood in it, the capillaries in your nose are more likely to burst and bleed.

Also a thing I didn’t realise: It will feel like your nose is full of boogers and you might even feel like it’s a little swollen.

Pro tip: Don’t go booger-seeking. It’ll result in nose bleeds. Even if it’s uncomfortable, even if you feel like you’ve probably got the World’s Biggest Booger hanging out of your nose, just leave it alone.

I first attributed nose bleeds to hormonal shifts, because that was what happened to me during puberty: Hormonal change = blood nose. But actually it’s more likely increased blood volume, more especially if your blood pressure is normal (like mine).

11. 40 isn’t old any more

You know, I had loads of people tell me that because I’m 40 I’ll be treated like a Geriatric Mum.

And that’s Total Utter Bullshit.

So far, all my health providers — two GPs, a homoeopath, a midwife — have literally pooh-poohed this notion.

Where did I get it from? Friends. Lady friends. Thanks a lot, you fuckers, especially those of you who report in on someone else’s experience from years ago. It doesn’t help.

In 2020, it turns out that a healthy lady giving birth at 40 is not only fine, it’s almost normal.

My nanna even said that to me. She relayed a story about how she had a baby at 40, and it was fine. She told me not to listen to anyone else. Her story was that a Matron in the hospital was pissed that she’d had a baby at 40. My nanna overheard the conversation when she was in hospital post-natal, and heard the Matron going on about it to a younger nurse. And the younger nurse replied: ‘Well, she’s had the baby and they’re both fine, so I don’t see your problem.’

So, 40-year-old mamas: Chill out. If you’re healthy, no problem.

12. Slow down and follow your body instead of your schedule.

It’s known as ‘horticultural time’: The time of the sun, of animals, of life.

The time you usually live in is ‘industrial time’: The time of schedules, calendars, and workplaces.

Having babies isn’t an industrial thing. It’s a horticultural thing.

The one thing I’ve learned is that adapting to horticultural time takes effort if you’re a work-focused person, a businesswoman, or any kind of go-getter. It requires listening to your body, acknowledging what it’s telling you, and then following its directions. It also requires being honest with clients when you’re slow, reducing the available time in your schedule, and saying No to things.

For example, I describe myself as an Eating And Sleeping Machine. (Which is perfect for growing little people, it turns out.) But that’s what it takes.

13. Boobs.

I don’t really need to say anything else. I mean, of course we know your boobs get amazing and big and round and beautiful when you’re pregnant. But what I wasn’t prepared for was being obsessed by my own tits.

Caveat: I’ve never had much of a rack. So suddenly having these perky, big, round beauties on my chest is something to be proud of. They’re pornstar boobs, but they’re For Show only.

The obsession has meant that they were all I talked about for about six weeks. I was amazed when I couldn’t lie on my belly any more because of my tits. I was astonished when I had to get new bras by Week 6. I was blown away by the fact that, lying on my side, they’re like two little round balls just sitting there.

It’s amused the shit out of everyone else, but really they are incredible.

14. Weird pains and aches are normal

In your first trimester, your ribcage opens up and gets wider, the better to accommodate your growing bub. It’s also the time at which your ligaments start to loosen up, your joints get a little more flexible, and so on.

What this tends to mean is that you’ll feel your hips, your pelvis, your back, a litle more than usual. And if you have some weird little pains and aches, it’s generally because of expansion.

15. You’ll feel your uterus and wonder why everyone else can’t see it

In the earliest part of my pregnancy, I went for a meeting with a client. After the meeting, we were standing around outside in the carpark having a yarn. My body was feeling weird and uncomfortable. Like my uterus was heavy and sticking out my belly. And my clothes felt all fucked.

She looked at me and laughed. ‘You can feel it, can’t you,’ she said.

And it was at that point that I discovered this was normal. Your uterus gets heavy and strange feeling. You can feel it, all the time. I felt like I was carrying around a water balloon that someone had put into my abdominal cavity.

To have someone recognise it and acknowledge it (and talk about it!) was the most amazing thing in the world. Thanks, Natalie.

16. Women are nasty bitches, and you have to set the rules

As soon as I learned that I was pregnant, I set a rule. That rule was: No Nasty Stories, No Horror Stories, No Unpleasant Teasing.

I set that rule so that I could be left free to think beautiful things, to stay happy, to stay calm, and to keep anxiety out of my life.

I also told every woman in my life about my new rule.

Despite this, I’ve still had to threaten to disengage from conversations at least four times.

My sister in law said, ‘Oh I was just teasing’. And I had to reply to her, ‘I don’t care: It’s not appropriate.’

Most women feel like they’re doing you a favour by “preparing you” for bad things. But most of the time it’s just fucking nasty. So set a rule, stick by the rule, exercise consequences. It’s your pregnancy, and you want to be surrounded by positivity, not nasty stories that make you anxious or worried.

In summary

Being pregnant isn’t about doing Regular Life and just happening to grow a little person at the same time. You are going through the most incredible transformation you’ll ever experience. You have to let go of your ideas about having Regular Life, because your body won’t let you keep it up. You will exercise less, walk more slowly, sleep more, eat more, and be even more amazed at your own body.

What I would LOVE to see is women talking about this stuff more often. Being open about the weirdnesses, the small strange things, the things that are apparently normal but no-one ever hears about.

That’s why I wrote this. Yes, it’s just my experience (so far – I have a long way to go yet), but if it helps you or someone you know, then my job is done.

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