On a cold Scottish winter’s morning waiting in my GP’s office for a routine checkup, my heart skipped a beat as I heard the words, “Did you know you’re pregnant?”
For as long I can remember I’ve wanted to be a mum, so while this news was a surprise, I certainly couldn’t think of a better one.
Of course part of me immediately went into panic mode with all the wine I couldn’t drink and blue cheese I couldn’t eat flashing before my eyes like the lights at a club I wouldn’t be going to anymore because I was going to be sober and tired and fat pregnant.
I was actually ready for all that – but was I *ready*?
I’ve graduated university (somehow, despite being hungover for far too many classes), bought a house, have a good job and pay my bills. (Mostly, except for when I don’t. Not because I’m broke, but because I’m forgetful. Okay, maybe I’ve spent the money on yoga pants.)
But I’d never felt like a “proper” adult.
But #lifetruth? I’ve realised no-one ever really does.
And thinking that one day you’re going to wake up feeling like you’ve got your shit together is a fairly elusive goal.
In realising that a while back, I felt somewhat freed from the fact I’d always be five minutes late, could never wear white clothes because I’d always spill something on them, drank too much wine, regularly scoffed half a packet of chocolate biscuits in one night, forgot birthdays, didn’t exercise frequently, bit my nails and was the worst procrastinator known to man.
Because life’s too short for guilt, and perfection is boring.
But despite the fact that I’d slowly started not just to accept but actually love all my difficult ways (perhaps that self acceptance is when you actually are an adult?), the moment I found out I was pregnant was a hugely overwhelming moment.
Can I really do this? Do we have enough money? What about that holiday we’ve booked later in the year? Christ, I remember that birthing video from Year 11 Human Biology and I am NOT ready for that shit.
But bundled up in all of that is such an immediate and profound sense of joy, connection and love for something you didn’t know existed three minutes ago which is pretty bloody powerful. So, deep down, I knew I was as ready as I was ever going to be.
And here we are. I’m 18 weeks pregnant today, with Baby Westphal (also known to my family as pickle, lemon, avocado and an assortment of other fruits depending on how many weeks I am) due at the end of July 2018. (Or the start of August. It’s all a bit of a guess, isn’t it.)
I’m well past my first trimester – thank the lord (given ‘morning sickness’ for me was actually ‘morning-and-night-and-every-other-waking-moment sickness’) – and wanted to share some of what I’ve gone through.
Fruit. Pre-pregnancy I wasn’t a big fruit eater, but in my first trimester holy moly did I want allll the fruit. Mostly apples and citrus (oranges, lemons, limes, clementines) but I also loved watermelon, rockmelon, grapes and mango. Pretty strange given normally in the middle of a cold Scottish winter I’d be craving hot stews and soups, but the
heart baby wants what the heart baby wants…
Bread. Normally I didn’t eat much bread, but morning sickness from week 6 onwards where I craved bland carbs meant it was back on the menu. Every morning I ate two slices of gluten-free toast with smashed avocado (half an avocado + lemon juice + cumin + paprika + salt). Totally delish. Peanut butter on toast was also a regular fixture in the evenings, because without eating right before bed I’d wake up nauseous in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back to sleep.
Sparkling water. This one was really odd. I’d never liked sparkling water, but being pregnant I craved it like mad. I loved drinking it with a squeeze of fresh juice.
Vegetables. For a massive veggie lover like me, this was really hard. But in my first trimester I could barely stand the sight of a spinach leaf without wanting to be sick. Eating well has always been important to me so I tried hard, but sometimes all I could stomach in a whole day was a carrot.
Pork. I’d heard it was common to go off red meat, but steak wasn’t a problem for me. It was pork that made me gag. It just smelled so… porky.
Fat. I used to be the (good) fat queen – my standard low-carb, high-fat diet pre-pregnancy was eggs fried in butter for breakfast, roast vegetables drizzled in coconut oil for lunch, nuts to snack on and a piece of fatty salmon with the skin on for dinner. But in my first trimester eggs grossed me out, I didn’t want cheese or butter, I couldn’t look at coconut products, and meat with the skin or fat on was repulsive. #eatALLthecarbsinstead
Weight. I started my pregnancy at 58kg (128lbs), which for my height (170cm or 5’7) was quite normal. At the end of the first trimester I’d gained 1kg (2lbs) – and guess where it went to?! Heck yes – my boobs. I have no idea how but thank you pregnancy gods because I went up a cup size what felt like overnight. (And half way through my second trimester I’ve gone up another one too… please no-one tell me any post-pregnancy-drooping stories, I’m in my own little world of happiness right now.)
Skin. Joy of joys! In the first trimester I was blessed with amazing skin. Previously I got monthly breakouts on my chin area like clockwork, but during my first trimester this went away (one time I can thank hormonal changes) and I had clear, glowing skin the whole time.
Bloating. It couldn’t all be good news. From about 8 weeks onwards I was terribly bloated, which at first I was thrilled with because I thought it was a little bump. But nope. (That didn’t arrive until the second trimester.) All it took was an apple and my stomach would triple in size. I also felt very thick around the middle (my husband said while hugging me one day, ‘you’re like a tree trunk now!’ Wow. Thanks babe).
The best way I can describe the feeling of morning sickness is like a horrible hangover that lasts all day (without, sadly, the fun of the night before).
From 6 to 14 weeks I was nauseous Every. Waking. Moment. This made work (and being awake generally) pretty challenging. Nights were the worst, so I usually went to bed early just to avoid feeling like crap for any longer.
I took anti-nausea tablets for a fortnight at 8 and 9 weeks, because we flew to Australia for Christmas to see our families (it was 3 flights and 30 hours there and back, yuk) and I could not have done that without help. But back in Scotland I came off the tablets and reserved them for times where I couldn’t have functioned otherwise (maybe another 4-5 times).
I only threw up 3 or 4 times, but sometimes I wanted to be sick so the nausea would go away. But I was lucky this wasn’t more a big deal – I know some people who have struggled with excessive vomitting to the point they can’t even keep water down and end up hospitalised, so I do feel grateful my experience wasn’t that bad.
It helped my nausea when I ate, so from 6 weeks onwards I was eating every hour and a half. This was 8-10 small meals/snacks a day, which meant I felt full, bloated and uncomfortable all day. It was a horrible feeling – I started dreading food and constantly thought, ‘Eugh, I have to eat again?!’
Daily, I mostly ate apples and oranges, rice cakes, vegetable crisps, plain popcorn, gluten-free pasta, gluten-free toast with avocado or peanut butter, a palm-sized amount of skinless baked chicken breast, and carrot and celery sticks. Although normally that wouldn’t be ideal for me (too little good fats, too little protein, too many carbs, not enough vegetables) when you’re nauseous like I was you will eat ANYTHING that helps. So I told myself I was doing my best and it wouldn’t be forever.
Morning sickness meant that I could barely drag myself off the couch to shower, let alone leave the house. So my exercise routine turned to nada, although I found walking helped the nausea so I’d try to get in at least a 30-minute walk 3-4 times a week.
I took a quality prenatal vitamin (this one) that included methylfolate (not just folic acid), although it made me feel sick so I took it right before going to sleep.
I wasn’t any more tired, but I tried to get more sleep anyway. Partly because I felt so sick at night that I just wanted to sleep, but also more sleep never hurts, eh.
SHARING THE NEWS
I found out I was pregnant at the end of November 2017 when I was just 4 weeks. Knowing we’d planned a visit back to Australia for Christmas (arriving Christmas Eve), we decided to wait to tell our families until we saw them in person. It was so hard not to tell – I’m notoriously bad at keeping secrets (you have been warned). But somehow I managed, and we told my in-laws in person on Christmas Eve and my parents on Christmas Day. This will be the first grandchild for both of them so there were lots of tears! It was also super sweet for my mum, who way back in 1985 found out she was pregnant with me (her first child) and told her parents on Christmas Day too.
While in Australia we told some of our close friends (who we hadn’t seen since moving to the UK 18 months prior), even though I was only 9 weeks.
I told work at 15 weeks and shared the news on social media at 16 weeks.
Gosh, it was really nice writing all that down – I’ve had a few half-baked attempts at keeping a pregnancy journal, but I’ve never followed through (another thing I’m crap at). So it’s nice to have an online record of what I’ve been through so far. I’ll definitely do the same for my second and third trimesters.