It was October 2016, I’d had a pretty big night out & woke up the following morning feeling unwell. I went into the bathroom while my husband Nick was still sleeping & decided to take a pregnancy test. We’d made the decision 5 months prior to stop taking the pill to see if we could fall pregnant naturally. We both had a sneaking suspicion that we may not be able to fall pregnant without assistance so we decided it would be best to know the answer to that question sooner rather than later. If we did need help then we would have plenty of time to try fertility treatments as we are both still quite young. We were surprised by the positive test result & just to be sure I took another 3 that confirmed we were indeed pregnant.
A visit to our GP & subsequent scans revealed that we were about 5 weeks pregnant. It was incredibly exciting and almost unbelievable even though I could feel changes to my body right away. When the morning sickness made itself at home it invited fatigue & baby brain to join. I was beyond happy to be expecting a baby but was not enjoying the way I was feeling.
I knew the guidelines about waiting until 12 weeks had passed before sharing the news however, we made the decision to let our family & friends know at around the 8 week mark. We decided if something were to go wrong we would want the support of our friends & family right away; also we were pretty damn excited. I decided to tell my boss as well, then I wouldn’t have to come up with excuses to attend doctor’s appointments or explain why I was away from my desk (taking additional restroom breaks) throughout the day. On top of that I was already feeling so sick & exhausted & decided it would be easier having someone at work in on the secret to help keep the cat in the bag.
Until I was around 8 weeks pregnant I was hitting the gym lifting weights up to 5 times a week & loving it. I was feeling extremely fit & happy with my body & was hopeful that I could continue a modified exercise regime throughout my entire pregnancy. From the moment the test came up positive I decreased the weight I was lifting & made sure to consult my GP before attempting anything in the gym. He was happy with me to continue my training doing anything I felt comfortable with.
My visions of a fit pregnancy quickly faded away as I found myself struggling to find the energy to continue training. It turns out it takes a heck of a lot of energy to work full-time & grow a small person & that doesn’t leave much left over for exercise or anything else. My 5 weekly gym sessions reduced to 3 times a week for a little while. Soon I was happy if I could complete two sessions a week & eventually doing something active once a week was cause for a huge celebration. Fitness has always been incredibly important to me, I love it for both the physical & mental benefits that it provides. It was tough not having the energy to exercise anymore & a huge adjustment to my lifestyle but it also taught me a valuable lesson in being flexible with my expectations for both pregnancy & parenting. At this stage in my pregnancy I needed to conserve my energy & focus all my efforts on working Monday to Friday.
My full-time job while pregnant was at an office in the city, for me to get there it’s a short 5 min walk followed by a 30 min bus trip. I liked my job & the people I worked with but as my pregnancy progressed I found it difficult to get up & go in each day. What used to be a leisurely trip to get to work became a harrowing ordeal that left me feeling exhausted by the time I sat down at my desk. It is in my nature to work hard, so this was difficult for me as I felt like I didn’t have a lot left in the tank to do my job as well as I could. The positive side of things was that I had an extremely supportive work place that accommodated me however possible & I felt genuine care from my colleagues & managers. It was a relief to be able to share the news at work after the 12 weeks had passed, no more secrets and a chance to celebrate with everyone.
During the second trimester I had a slight improvement with my morning sickness & fatigue but it was short lived. It arrived around 20 weeks & I was happy to take any improvement I could get. The downside to moving further into the second trimester was I started to grow more uncomfortable as my body began to grow & change further. I hated the thought of buying pregnancy specific clothing so kept squeezing into my current wardrobe as long as I could. Too soon I found myself shopping for new clothing, I bought new underwear first & then casual items that could accommodate my growing bosom & bump. I found wearing bras uncomfortable & resorted to wearing seam free sports bras that I picked up from Kmart. I actually managed to get through my pregnancy without having to expand my wardrobe as much as my belly. A couple of ASOS dresses got me through the rest of my time at work & old trackies paired with band t-shirts were my attire the rest of the time.
The various side effects & symptoms of pregnancy can be found in many books & now also through apps on your phone. Even after doing my research I wasn’t prepared for the extra pimples, hair growth & sweating that accompanied my fatigue, swelling, heartburn & insomnia. I experienced all of these things at different stages and to different levels of severity throughout my pregnancy. In my case the fatigue & morning sickness were the two biggest challenges, I felt them from the moment I discovered I was pregnant until my son was born. It’s incredible what the human body is capable of & I wanted to make sure I documented the changes happening as I grew my son.
I purchased an organiser to record my thoughts & feelings during my pregnancy & since having Finn I have kept recording events & milestones in it as well. It helped to keep me organised as I struggled with the effects of baby brain & I plan to keep recording this way for his first year at least. I’ve already enjoyed going over my notes & I hope to one-day share this with him. In addition to this I took photos of my growing belly each week & posted them to social media, this was a lot of fun but occasionally felt like a big effort. I’ve found the key is keeping things simple, it needs to be something that is easy to maintain so you can keep up with it. I’m really glad that I have recorded so much, I struggled with being pregnant but now that it’s over I like being able to revisit what I went through to get my baby here.
In the third trimester whilst my body was preparing to bring my son into the world, I started to mentally prepare to meet him. We completed our Antenatal classes over one weekend which was almost an information overload but it helped us answer a lot of questions. I started nesting & getting the house ready for my bubs arrival by completing the checklist I’d made to ensure I was as prepared as possible. I was excited to start maternity leave and enjoy some time relaxing before life became hectic. I made the decision to start my maternity leave early as I really wasn’t up to working anymore, although the weather was no longer hot I was still feeling drained. I used my time off to complete the tasks that are difficult whilst working, things like getting the car seat installed & washing all the clothes & blankets. These finishing touches around the house were getting me extremely excited to meet my baby.
At 36 weeks I visited my obstetrician & had a routine blood test. The results came back abnormal & following a call from my OB we were advised to meet him at the hospital for further testing & observations. Our OB was concerned I was developing pre-eclampsia based on the results & took every precaution possible to ensure both my baby & myself were not in any danger. I was given steroid injections to assist my baby’s lung development if it was decided they would need to deliver early. After a 5 day stay in hospital they ruled out both pre-eclampsia & HELLP syndrome as my blood pressure was never high & diagnosed me with Gestational Thrombocytopenia. I was permitted to go home as long as I completed daily blood tests to monitor my platelet count (this affects blood clotting). With this diagnosis it was decided that I would be induced at 38 weeks, bringing my baby to term but not prolonging the chance of my condition deteriorating. With the added drama in the final weeks of pregnancy it finally hit home that our little man was about to arrive, this was just a taste of things to come. The battle to get Finn here safely was far from over…