I fell pregnant with my daughter at the ripe old age of 20, and gave birth to my daughter exactly 1 month before my 21st birthday.
Now, there are lots of pros and cons to having your children at certain ages, and the topic is apparently the business of the (predominantly) old men running our country, resulting in drives to lower the amount of teen pregnancies – not necessarily a bad thing in itself, but the trends do show that women are starting to have babies after they’ve become settled in their careers.
The average age of first-time mothers in the UK in 2016 was 28.8 years old, with only 3.2% of mothers having their first child under the age of 20.
However, although these figures have dropped significantly, the stigma around being a young mum is by no means a new thing.
When I was 14, I took my 3 year old brother to the park, only to be spoken about by 2 older ladies in the most demeaning way. I took a lot of delight in correcting them, and thanking them for their snap (and completely, utterly wrong) judgements.
I can still keep up with my daughter. Yes, she runs me ragged 24/7, but it would be a lot harder if I was that bit older.
I haven’t had to interrupt a career. The timing wasn’t ideal, me still being at uni, but I had Olivia before I had an established career as a barrister. If I’d had to take time off during my self-employment as a barrister, I’d be coming back to work at a disadvantage having not worked for 6 or 9 months, and not having any maternity pay! I also believe that if I hadn’t had Olivia when I did, I wouldn’t have children at all!
I get to share all of my successes with her as we both grow older.
You’re less likely to have fertility problems when you’re young. We weren’t really trying to get pregnant, but it was the first month of not being careful with contraception that we fell pregnant with Olivia! We women are ticking time bombs when it comes to our fertility…
Pregnancy is lower risk under 35. At the age of 35 you are considered a geriatric mother, and, no matter how healthy the pregnancy, you’re considered higher risk and you’re then less likely to have the birth plan you wanted!
I don’t know if this is a normal experience for everyone, but when I first went to the GP I was asked if I was keeping it… I’m just speculating here, but I bet that doesn’t happen for women in their late 20s onwards!
I am judged on a daily basis by those older than me, patronised and told what to do with my child. She’s my child, not yours. Butt out.
Until I moved to Aldershot, I was the only one of my friends that had a child, and as lovely as those friends are, they just don’t get it sometimes.
Do you have any more you’d add to the lists? How old were you when you had your first child?
Everyone knows the scenario. A woman is in labour (and absolutely exhausted), the midwife is shouting ‘one more push’, and finally, a baby is born. The cord is cut and the baby is handed to mum, who feels this overwhelming rush of love they’ve never felt for anything in their life, right?
Well, that didn’t happen for me.
While I was only in active labour for four hours, I’d had what some may call a nightmare of a pregnancy. Due to my EDS I had spent a good portion of it in a wheelchair, I was having hydrotherapy for the SPD and PGP that I developed (if you’re not sure on those, click here for more info), and I’d broken my foot because my EDS couldn’t keep up with the constantly increasing weight that comes with being pregnant. In the early weeks of pregnancy I contracted a viral infection which increased my risk of miscarriage, and baby developing foetal hydrops. And those were just my issues. Add in having scans for little one three times a week because she refused to be active, growth scans because my doctor thought that at full term she would weigh less than 5lb, steroid injections as I’m high risk for preterm labour, and a short inpatient stay towards the end of my pregnancy because my hips wouldn’t stop dislocating, we were essentially living in our hospital 5-6 days a week.
So it’s safe to say I was relieved when she was born, and she started breathing around 30 seconds afterwards.
I was so excited to be passed my new baby, and to feel this huge rush that every woman I know had been telling me about since I announced that I was pregnant that I pushed through two second degree tears, a dislocated hip, failed pain relief, a small haemorrhage and an incompetent midwife just to hold her. The midwife handed her over to me, and I was so amazed that this tiny (yet huge?) person had been with me for the last nine months.
But I didn’t feel that huge rush of love that everyone was talking about.
To be honest, I panicked a little bit, and I thought something was wrong with me. She felt more like a really cute stranger that I had a really strong urge to protect (and cry all over). I tried to breastfeed her twice, but as I’d been given diamorphine too close to delivery, my new bundle of joy was a little dopey, and kept crawling past the breast to suckle on my neck. Cute.
I continued to feel this way for the next few days. I had panic attacks whenever I was left alone with her because I was terrified I was going to break her, I couldn’t sleep if I was alone with her because I was terrified something was going to happen to her, and in the end, including the time I was awake and in labour, I didn’t sleep for three days. I got so worked up about that initial meeting with my daughter that I couldn’t think about anything else. I was convinced I was broken, and that it meant I was going to be a bad mother and this was all a very bad idea. Don’t get me wrong, I thought she was adorable; I was so proud that I had made her, and I wanted to take care of her, but I was just so disappointed that I didn’t get that first meeting that people claim to be the best moment of their lives.
Looking back on it now, I realise it’s totally normal. The birth and pregnancy I had with my daughter was far from normal, my body had been through a whole ordeal, and I was exhausted. I was hormonal, sleep deprived, very drugged from labour, and did I mention they handed me my baby for the first time while stitching me up with no pain relief?
Babies are great… Okay, let’s not get ahead of ourselves… They CAN be great, when they want to be. But most of the time they’re either sucking the life out of you (LITERALLY) or shitting on you (AGAIN, LITERALLY) and I swear they enjoy every second of it!
But anyway, they can be great… I mean, who doesn’t love babies? Pregnancy, however, is a whole different kettle of fish, and my god do I never want to do that again.
Here are my 5 reasons why!
For someone who already had a lot of emotional issues, the heightened emotions of pregnancy made things even harder to cope with. It’s actually pretty shit crying over silly things, or for no reason. And even if you feel like you’re crying for a legitimate reason, other people don’t take you seriously because you’re pregnant, and they blame it on the hormones. Even if it is due to those nasty things, that doesn’t make your feelings any less legitimate. Even if I was crying because the vacuum broke…
As soon as you’re pregnant, other people feel like they can dictate to you what to do. Mainly your midwife. I was a veggie and my midwife did not respect that, and asked me to start eating meat, saying that the baby would be iron deficient if I didn’t. Eating meat changed nothing except to make me put on more weight, and I still had to take iron tablets. But it’s not just the midwife, it’s all of your non-pregnant friends! One friend literally breathed down my neck about me eating mayonnaise, and said I didn’t look pregnant, just like I’d had a big lunch (I forgave her for that and we laugh about it now, but hello?! Heightened emotions!!!!!!). AND THEY ALL WANT TO TOUCH YOUR BELLY AS IF IT SUDDENLY BELONGS TO THEM.
Following on from that one… In the last few months when the baby is running out of room: at night, if you lie on your back, the baby’s movements look like something out of Alien. You can visibly see their backs turning or their feet protruding and as well as being uncomfortable, it freaked me the hell out. And guess what? If I didn’t like seeing and feeling it myself, I also didn’t like other people touching my belly and setting the whole “let’s kick mummy to shit from the inside out” rhythm off!
It’s not nice having to bare all to a large number of healthcare professionals – whether it’s the stretch-mark covered belly or your vagina, I didn’t quite get used to having it all out there until I was in labour and quite frankly couldn’t give a crap either way at that point.
Post-pregnancy, I’ve had all these ridiculously annoying baby hairs sticking out of my forehead making me look like a baby lion. It’s not nice. My daughter is now 2, and I still have these! My hair, skin and nails didn’t glow while I was pregnant and now I’m stuck with this mega hair growth that’s so pitiful and annoying all at the same time! I can’t even wear my trademark mum bun for more than 30 minutes without the baby hairs pointing up and making me look like a tit in public. And god forbid it’s a windy day! Windswept would be an understatement…
Are there any reasons why you’d prefer not to go through pregnancy again? Let us know in the comments!
At least 3 of the Mummykind mummies were NOT expecting that they would soon be expecting (have I used the word “expecting” too many times yet?) and all for different reasons.
Harriet didn’t think she could have children naturally. Neither did Amy due to the fact that she was taking Zoladex to undergo a chemical menopause – she ended up being the 1 in 100,000 that fall pregnant on that medication.
As for me, I didn’t think I could, after being told by a really harsh sonographer that if I had PCOS it was very likely that I’d be infertile. As it turns out, I don’t have PCOS and never did, but being on hormonal contraception caused me to have small pockets in my Fallopian tubes that appeared to be cysts. The exact nature of what they were is still unknown to me, but needless to say I stopped using hormonal contraception because of the effect it had on me.
Even though I stopped using the pill, I still wasn’t expecting to fall pregnant. In fact, I’d convinced myself that I never would be able to! However, when I did fall pregnant and when we let the cat out of the bag to our family and friends that we were having a baby, there are a few things that I wish I’d been prepared for…
1. “So was it planned?”
Unless you’ve announced to Bob and his uncle that you’re actively trying to start a family, expect EVERYONE to stick their noses in and ask you if the pregnancy was planned. If you’ve ever done this, please be reminded that IT IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. I never knew what to say when I was asked that, because, no, she wasn’t planned, but she also wasn’t unplanned – we could easily have been more careful. Our situation wasn’t some rare exception like Amy’s! And planned or not, what bearing does that have on how much we will love our baby, or how we will be as parents? Newsflash: it doesn’t.
2. Every lifestyle choice you make will be scrutinised.
I don’t just mean by the midwife, though, of course, being told to change your vegetarian diet to a meat one so that you don’t have an iron deficiency and having to stand on the scales to be told that you’ve put on too much weight (even though you STILL have a healthy BMI despite being 6 months’ pregnant) is utterly ridiculous. As much as I’d like to pretend that this was an isolated experience with my midwife, I’ve unfortunately heard similar tales a few too many times. But, the scrutiny isn’t just going to be from your midwife or other health professionals. It’s going to be from wider society, your friends, family. Apparently, everyone you’ve ever shook hands with or had a drink with now has an interest in what you do. I was very good when I was pregnant; I wouldn’t touch a drop of alcohol, ate relatively healthily and wasn’t irresponsible, but that didn’t stop a friend questioning me over whether or not I could eat some god damn mayonnaise.
3. The awkward food baby phase
There’ll come a time at around 4 or 5 months’ pregnant where “you just look like you’ve had a big lunch”, as my dear, lovely friend said to me one fine morning as I sat down to a lecture on our dissertation module. Don’t worry, it doesn’t last very long and you’ll begin to look properly pregnant soon enough (you poor, poor thing).
4. Money, money, money
Oh. My. God.
BABY THINGS COST SO MUCH MONEY.
This really shocked me when we found out we were having a baby. We didn’t go crazy, but a pram, a crib, a carseat, clothes, nappies, sterilisers, bottles, breast pumps, etc. can easily add up to a grand or more. We are quite money savvy anyway and don’t tend to overspend on things – we got our pram and carseat in the mothercare January sale for £475 altogether instead of £775 (we weren’t due until May but the forward planning saved us a lot!). It can be overwhelming when this is sprung on you a bit unexpectedly, but do your research and you will find some good deals.
5. “Is it a boy or a girl?”
Ummm…. WHY DO YOU WANT TO KNOW IF MY BABY HAS A PENIS OR A VAGINA?
Taken out of context, this is a very weird question. In what other setting would you ask somebody whether they had male or female genitals? YOU WOULDN’T! However, what’s worse than this is people asking if you wanted a boy, instead of a girl. No, I want a healthy baby, and that’s what I’ve got, thank you very much. Also, I’m not big on gender stereotyping anyway. Yes, Olivia likes dolls and prams and has a newfound obsession with unicorns, but I didn’t make those her only options. She chose to play with those things, and I will never stop her from choosing who she wants to be (unless she decides she doesn’t want to be a lawyer, because that’s just unacceptable).
Have you encountered anything else that you weren’t expecting when you were expecting?
This last week has been very busy. Me and my partner decided to leave our first home and move in with his parents. Now, I can already hear many of you shouting WHHHHHY at your screens, but we obviously had our reasons.
We have never been what you call ‘responsible with money’ and unfortunately we found ourselves in a hole that would’ve taken a miracle to get out of whilst renting. So, in order to get our finances sorted, we packed up and moved into the in-law’s house so we can firstly, pay off what we owe and secondly, save up for a deposit for a house that we could really call a home.
It’s only been five days but honestly, I feel happier already. No, our finances aren’t sorted but there is now a chance for them to be in the future. The idea that in a couple of years, we could have no debt and possibly saved enough for a deposit on a house, makes me so excited for the future. I’ve also found that me and my partner are happier together. There isn’t this constant worry hanging over us about whether we could afford to pay a certain bill or tension because one of us bought something we didn’t have the money for. We are enjoying time with each other without nagging or bickering and it feels amazing.
Obviously, living with the in-laws does have it’s disadvantages as well…
(Cynthia and Tony, if you’re reading this, I’d stop now)
We are sharing a bedroom with our 2 year old daughter at the moment, so we don’t really have the space to relax and spend time with each other as a couple. Which was to be expected and will make the time we spend together in our next home even more worthwhile, so it’s not that big of a deal.
The other downside to sharing a room with our daughter (and this is why I asked you to stop reading Cynthia and Tony) is that romance is slightly tricky when you have a toddler sleeping at the end of your bed. So as much as we’re happier as a couple, there is a little less us time than what we are used to.I’m not going to say that this will work for everyone, I’ve been lucky that I get on with my in-laws and we are lucky enough to have this as an option. But as I said, it’s only been five days so it’s still early days. I will be sure to keep you updated on how things are going and how well we are saving.
Have you ever moved in with your in-laws to save money or maybe you couldn’t think of anything worse, let us know in the comments!
Writing that piece cleared my head and I was completely happy to put my son back into his nappies for however long he needed until he was ready to do this. As it happens, that wasn’t very long at all!
It all fell into place very suddenly when my darling boy decided that he would go butt naked out into the garden (which backs onto a road) and stand at the gate and talk to ALL THE NEIGHBOURS.Now, I’m not particularly prudish but there are 47 houses that can see into my garden (yes, I counted) and I only know 3 of them. So naturally, I grabbed the first thing to hand to cover him up a little and on went the big boy pants.
I fully expected them to be soaked within minutes or poo’d in fairly soon but it didn’t happen… at all.
He has been dry in the day since that moment.
Before I had my very own toddler, I believed people who said that they just stopped wearing nappies one day and that was that and after all the struggling and convincing and coaxing and crying I actually started to resent them with firm and bitter disbelief. I came to believe it was always going to be a huge uphill battle, but here I am, a few months after reaching breaking point with it as one of “those people”.
This experience has really highlighted to me the importance of waiting until a child is ready for potty training and letting them lead. There is no potty training age – some kids do it sooner and others need a little more time. My son is still struggling to poo on the potty and he is not dry at night yet but we all feel a lot calmer about it. When he needs to poo he asks for a nappy on and lays down nicely. I always ask if he’d rather do it on the potty or big toilet and he always declines but now I know he’ll let me know when he’s ready.
So, if it hasn’t happened in your family yet, take a deep breath and wait for it – in the mean time, think about being a mile from the nearest toilet and a two year old in a sling on your back tells you he needs a wee…
Ah, this is one question that possibly all new parents consider at least once! In fact, I’m considering it right now as my daughter screams her head off, refusing to go to sleep, and she’s nearly 2! However, when you’re a first-time mum, there’s a lot of overwhelming information about why you shouldn’t give babies dummies, or how long they should have them for, etc. etc.
So, here is the story of how my daughter came to have a dummy, and how she came to stop using it!
Luckily enough we were the only family on the ward at the time, but my god was I so exhausted. The following morning, the midwife did her rounds and asked how we were.
“Why won’t she sleep?” I said, “isn’t she supposed to be tired, too?”
She sort of smirked at me, and while you may appreciate that it was a bit of a daft question, my baby had literally not slept a wink that day/night. My NCT classes had equipped me with the information that labour and birth would be equally as hard and sometimes traumatic for the baby as it is for us, so they should be doing a lot of sleeping in those first 48 hours.
I told the midwife that Olivia had been latching on and off all night and then she said the words that would change everything for me and my baby.
“She’s too sucky, she needs a dummy.”
I was confused. I’d heard all about teat confusion and asked her if it would cause problems with me breastfeeding. She said no, and repeated that my baby was too sucky and needed one. Exhausted and acting on the advice of a professional, my partner Jamie went down to the hospital shop to find one, which she wouldn’t take. I remember feeling relieved. I never wanted to use a dummy for her. In my mind it meant that she’d have it for years and that she’d end up as a toddler with a speech impediment and still using a dummy. Of course, that was completely irrational, but I wanted to avoid them as a matter of personal preference.
We were allowed to go home, and amongst the many gifts we had been given were some tommee tippee dummies.
Amid more screaming and constant breastfeeding during the night, and a baby who wanted to constantly not only be on me but be latched onto me ALL. NIGHT. LONG…
(Again, I know you’re reading this thinking “well what did you expect, you stupid cow?” The truth is, I have no bloody idea what I expected. It was my first time in that situation. I didn’t read any books or blogs or prepare myself in any way other than going to NCT classes, especially having been told that parenting books were a waste of time. So what I expected was nothing. I knew absolutely nothing.)
We tried again with the dummy, and eventually after a few nights she began to settle with it and took it quite well. Breastfeeding was going well, and she was gaining weight well too. There were no issues with teat confusion at all and everything seemed perfectly fine.
Her weight began to drop very steadily with no reason at all. She had a little bit of reflux but no other signs that she wasn’t taking enough milk. I was expressing regularly as well as giving her regular feeds. Teat confusion still wasn’t a problem at all – we were able to alternate very easily between tommy tippee bottles, avent bottles, dummy and breast. I remember feeling incredibly lucky compared with other mums I knew whose babies were very fussy with teats. We had a very good eating and sleeping routine and seemed to have found our little groove together.
I was told to go to a local breastfeeding group, where the lactation consultant told me my latch was wrong, and, oh yes, attacked me for giving my baby a dummy.
The very fact that Olivia had a dummy meant that the real problem went unnoticed for a further 3 weeks.
This is the reason why, with hindsight, I wish I had stuck to my guns and never given her one in the first place.
Olivia was diagnosed with a tongue tie, and finally referred to a specialist tongue tie clinic in London. This was also the last week that I was able to exclusively breastfeed my baby girl, and I had to introduce formula. Up until that point, her tongue tie hadn’t stopped her from breastfeeding, even though it was an anterior tongue tie and she couldn’t move her tongue from side to side! If you want to know more about breastfeeding a baby with tongue tie, click here.
I was sobbing in Tesco, putting the Cow & Gate through the checkout. I know how stupid that seems. It’s made no difference to her development whatsoever – she’s still as clever as she always would have been, but it’s just so devastating that it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. I wanted her to get her nourishment from me, not an artificial replacement of me… But she had plummeted from the 75th percentile to the 0.9th, so what other choice did I have?
Unable to stop using bottles, we sacrificed dummies. She adjusted instantly, and didn’t miss it at all. In a way, I am glad that we had to stop using dummies at that stage. I honestly believe that once babies begin to have a proper awareness of what it is and what it’s for, it would be so much more difficult to take it away, and then my dreaded fears of having a toddler with a dummy would have been realised! There’s nothing wrong with that if it’s your choice, but, for me, I just don’t like them, and the truth is they really can affect speech development if they are used for too long.
So, all in all, dummies have their ups and downs. My main concern if I ever had another baby (which I don’t plan on doing) would be that I would have a similar issue. It was never fair for the lactation consultant to attack MY choice as a mother to give my baby a dummy, and I just couldn’t face that judgemental attitude again if I had a second baby with a tongue tie.
If you’re planning on breastfeeding, I would really recommend waiting to see if you can go without one. Teat confusion IS a thing, and although Olivia wasn’t affected by it, she is pretty much the only baby I know who can easily adapt between different teats and the boob. In my mind, they’re not worth the hassle of trying to take them away when your little one gets older, and although every baby needs comfort, they can get it just as easily from you, a teddy, or even a little blanket with far less complicated issues that can come up.
Let me know how you managed to get rid of dummies or why you decided to use or not to use them in the first place!
Recently, postnatal depression has been receiving a lot of media attention and greater awareness as a result, which really is fantastic! But… other topics not so widely spoken about are the reams of other postpartum mental illnesses, in addition to antenatal depression and anxiety.
Amy has spoken about her experience of postpartum psychosis on the blog already here, hopefully raising awareness of the fact that it’s not always so straightforward in relation to postnatal mental health! Today, I want to focus on antenatal depression and what it can look like. Similarly to postnatal mental health worries, it can be difficult sometimes to distinguish between depression, or “just hormones”.
A little foreword: my experience of antenatal depression started when I was around 5-6 months pregnant – it can of course start much earlier than that – and to some extent I already knew what the warning signs were, having suffered with depression in the past. Hopefully the following list will help someone else recognise the warning signs in either themselves or a loved one, and enable them to get help as early on as possible! Also I’m in no way medically qualified, these are just the tips from a mum who’s been through it!
1. Crying, all of the time
This is one of the most famous symptoms of pregnancy in general – crying, all of the time, at silly little things. BUT there is a point when it’s more than just crappy hormones making you all emotional. With hindsight I know that crying over a hoover breaking before I even knew I was pregnant was definitely just hormones, and I know equally as well that crying myself to sleep every night during my last trimester was not hormones, it was depression. This is one of those where you need to be the judge of what is normal for you! Are the raging emotions and mood swings worse than you think they should be? If so, err on the side of caution and flag it up with your GP – if they’re aware, they can help and provide you with support!
2. Obessively worrying
This is something I’m terrible at anyway, but I can always tell the days when my depression and anxiety hits me worst, because I will obsess over things to the point that I can’t get to sleep. If that’s you, still awake with worry at 4am, consult a GP. Sometimes it is normal to worry about being a mum for the first time, but if it’s constant, every night, and you can’t seem to get the thoughts out of your mind for just one second, that’s where it’s not quite okay and you might need some extra help working through the anxiety.
3. Low self-esteem
Pregnant me suffered a massive, huge, unbelievably enormous hit to the self-esteem. From about the 5th month of pregnancy onwards (when bump was starting to show), I hated my body. I did not see the miracle of life when I looked in the mirror, I saw FAT. And I hated it. I have one picture of me and my bump because of this and I regret it so so much. Again, every pregnant woman feels like a whale at some point, normally when we’re having to waddle at the end of pregnancy, but if you can’t stand to look in the mirror or get to the point where you’re crying over what you see when you do look, it’s probably depression.
4. Feeling isolated
This is a big one, particularly if you do have people around you supporting you, but you still feel alone! Firstly, you’re not, your baby will probably remind you of that by kicking you in a rib at some point. Secondly, we all need alone time but make time for friends. Make time to be with adults where you don’t have to concentrate on baby-related things. It can be difficult transitioning from a person to a parent, because you feel like you’re losing your identity. People no longer ask how you are, they ask how the bump is doing. It’s difficult to feel like you’re just the vessel and everyone only wants what you’re carrying, but it’s not true! Without you, the precious cargo would never have existed in the first place. If you do feel alone, reach out to people around you for support!
5. Sleeping trouble
The most common thing for expectant mothers in the sleeping arena is not getting enough of it! Particulary when the baby is running out of room in that womb, and still just as fidgety! But whether it’s too much sleep or too little sleep, they can both indicate depression and can really exacerbate the other symptoms. You’ll have enough sleep deprivation when baby arrives so try to get your head down when you can, without sleeping all day and becoming overtired. Find your balance, take a power nap when needed, and still make sure you’re getting out of the house every day. This is a bit more to do with self care to prevent making yourself ill, but it’s a valid symptom of depression, too.
What do I do if I think I have antenatal depression?
1. Speak to your midwife
2. Get an appointment with your GP
3. Self-refer to counselling with the NHS – here’s a link where you can find local counselling services!
4. Make your partner/family/friends aware of how you’re feeling so that they can give you some familial support
5. And, finally… take each day as it comes – some will be better than others so don’t let the bad days deter you from
These 5 steps will get you on the road to recovery, and after all, we all have to be well to be the best mummies we can be for our little babies!
Did you find anything else that helped you through antenatal depression? Let us know in the comments! Please share this post to raise awareness with the hashtag #MentalHealthMonday
This is a topic that many mums shy away from, but I’m here to tell you all that it is perfectly okay to say that, for whatever reason, you didn’t enjoy being pregnant.
Whenever I make this controversial admission, I’m always met by the question of “did you have a rough pregnancy, then?”, or, from people who know me and saw me most days of the pregnancy, the concession “yeah but you did have a lot of sickness”.
First of all, my pregnancy really wasn’t that difficult. It was emotionally hard, as I was battling depression and anxiety, a number of personal issues, and leading a highly stressful life with little to no support network. But physically, it was quite an easy pregnancy. I had some morning sickness at odd points throughout the pregnancy, but really not a lot. Possibly the worst complaint I have of my pregnancy was that I had reflux for the entirety of the last trimester, which had me downing Gaviscon by the bottle, but even that isn’t such a severe reason to have hated being pregnant.
Secondly, regardless of whether I did or didn’t face any kinds of problems while I was pregnant, what has that got to do with my personal feelings on being pregnant? Why is it that my dislike of pregnancy has to somehow be justified by my (usually childless) friends’ perceptions of whether or not my pregnancy was a difficult one?
As much as society is making progress towards equality, I believe that the root of this need to justify anything I say about not liking pregnancy is that there is a stigma that this is what women are supposed to do, and that it’s a magical time, the bad parts of which we should take in our stride because of how we are biologically designed to cope with any childbirth related phenomenon.
Amazing as it is that my body grew a tiny (well, actually a rather porky) baby, that doesn’t mean that I can’t have legitimate complaints about the process.
Even worse than this is the response I get to stating that I never want to be pregnant again – for some reason, my age becomes a factor here. Sorry, I don’t care how old I am, but I won’t change my mind on this. Once was enough for me. Don’t get me wrong, I still get broody for babies, but I never plan on being pregnant again. I have plans to adopt/foster in the future and again those plans are met with the question of why? I’m able to have children, but that doesn’t mean I have to have children.
Just in case anyone reading this is thinking how ungrateful I am when there are plenty of women who can’t have a child themselves… I’m not. I appreciate that I probably don’t have a reason to complain when I have a perfectly healthy child, but again, the mere fact of my womanhood and my fertility doesn’t impose an obligation on me to have children or to enjoy pregnancy.
If you’re reading this and wondering why I felt the way I did, well…
1. My sickness wasn’t really sickness, it was a constant and painful process of dry-retching over a toilet until I could breathe enough to swallow water and spew it back up
2. It’s not nice having to bare all to a large number of healthcare professionals – whether it’s the stretch-mark covered belly or your vagina, I didn’t quite get used to having it all out there until I was in labour and quite frankly couldn’t give a crap either way at that point
3. I put on 3st and hated my body. I couldn’t look in the mirror without crying. I didn’t see a pregnant belly, I saw a fat lump of a woman who would never look the same again. That may be vain but sadly enough it was actually the only time I felt any kind of pride in my pre-baby body. It took my pre-baby body to have a baby and be essentially ruined for me to realise that I actually liked myself deep down.
4. As soon as you’re pregnant, other people feel like they can dictate to you what to do. Mainly your midwife. I was a veggie and my midwife did not respect that, and asked me to start eating meat, saying that the baby would be iron deficient if I didn’t. Eating meat changed nothing except to make me put on more weight, and I still had to take iron tablets.
5. In the last few months when the baby is running out of room: at night, if you lie on your back, the baby’s movements look like something out of Alien. You can visibly see their backs turning or their feet protruding and as well as being uncomfortable, it freaked me the hell out.
6. Drawing on the uncomfortable point – I went a week overdue, in a heatwave in May. Enough said.
7. For someone who already had a lot of emotional issues, the heightened emotions of pregnancy made things even harder to cope with. It’s actually pretty shit crying over silly things, or for no reason. And even if you feel like you’re crying for a legitimate reason, other people don’t take you seriously because you’re pregnant, and they blame it on the hormones. Even if it is due to those nasty things, that doesn’t make your feelings any less legitimate. Even if I was crying because the vacuum broke…
8. That god awful reflux – and yes, I did have a hairy baby.
So there you have it. One woman’s reasons for not enjoying pregnancy and for never wanting to do it again.
It doesn’t make me a bad mother, a bad female or a bad person. I am allowed to have an opinion, and my position as a mother and a woman doesn’t negate my opinion or mean that I should grin and bear it. So to any fellow women feeling the same way, don’t be ashamed. It’s not something you have to keep to yourself when asked the oh so annoying question “so when is baby number 2 on the way?” It’s nobody else’s business, anyway.