Shae, an expectant first time Mum on the Haakaa team, shares her thoughts on her pregnancy journey so far.
I'm not sure if it's just me, but even writing that blog title makes me feel weird. Not in a bad way! It's just that "mum" has always been my mum, and now in a few short months (they tell me it's going to fly by), I'M going to be "mum". I still can't quite wrap my head around that!
Am I excited? Yes! Am I prepared? No. Maybe? I don't know. How do you even prepare for something like this? Sure, I've got the checklists, and the maternity leave dates lined up. I've been to the scans, I've had the blood tests, I've stopped drinking wine. If I'd had more forethought, I might've cottoned on to the fact that planning to have a baby due in May/June meant no bubbles at Christmas or New Year, but I've managed to find solace in the alcohol-free variants, so I'm happy. I didn't expect to miss wine this little, nor raw salmon sushi this much.
Having had friends who have gone through this before me, I expected the first-trimester exhaustion – though thankfully, for me, it never really hit as hard as it seems to have hit some women. I expected the food aversions (sliced cucumber and garlic can burn in hell). I didn't really expect the morning sickness as none of my friends had it nor any of my female relatives, and since the midwife enquired about my mum's pregnancy at our first appointment, I assumed that type of thing must be hereditary. So to still have it now (21 weeks) is a fun surprise! In terms of the typical "pregnancy experiences," I guess I've had a few. I've become more forgetful, but this could also result from a lack of good sleep…which has resulted from pregnancy and hot summer nights. I walk into a room with determined purpose, only to forget why I went in there two seconds later. I have about seven different reminders on my phone on any given day because otherwise, I would forget to do anything altogether. Last week I walked out of the door just as a friend messaged "on my way!" in reference to a catch up we had planned to have at my house that day. I forgot the word for "clothes dryer" and asked my husband to put the washing in "that thing that's like a microwave for your clothes". Checklists run my life now.
Despite still vomiting multiple times a week, I don't think my pregnancy is difficult - but I don't feel "glowy", and I don't feel particularly amazing. I just feel slightly more tired and uncomfortable than usual. Some of my friends say they loved being pregnant, and I guess I don't mind it. I enjoy seeing my bump growing more, and I love hearing the heartbeat at each midwife appointment - but I'm still on the fence about whether I'll do this again. I don't enjoy gagging and throwing up each time I brush my teeth, the sore hips and back, the fat toes, or the fact that I worked so hard this winter to fit back into my summer clothes, only for them not to fit now anyway. Every time I go to the shops to buy the next size up, I die a little inside – I cried the first time. I don't care if it's normal to gain weight – I'm having a hard time coming to terms with it, and I'm worried about how hard it might be to lose it all at the other end. There's no pressure coming from anyone; my husband is so supportive and compliments me all the time, but I've always struggled with body image, and I knew pregnancy would be particularly challenging. I look at every other mum with nothing but admiration and respect. I smile kindly at the mum who has little ones yelling at her feet in the supermarket. I see a new mum out walking with her tiny little newborn and think, "I hope I have her motivation when this baby is here! She's amazing!" yet I feel so critical about myself.
I'm not really worried about the birth…yet. I know it hurts, and it doesn't always go to plan. Isn't that unexpectedness just life's way of preparing you for kids? I think my (probably naïve) calmness about the whole thing is based on the fact that I'm an information junkie, so I don't feel wholly unprepared. I've watched "One Born Every Minute" just about every day out of pure interest, though my husband thinks it's torture. I've read all the important information my midwife has sent through, and I understand that pain can be helpful, though I'm sure very unwanted during labour. I've heard the labour stories from my close friends, who seem pretty chipper as they recount their tales of early labour, haemorrhaging, pooping, tearing, and last-minute epidurals that didn't take effect. I think I'm set on the trauma front. For now, my panic stations remain unmanned - though ask me how I'm feeling in another 18 weeks, and I might have a different outlook by then!
Luckily for me, New Zealand went into lockdown during my first trimester, so a lot of the challenges that came with early pregnancy mainly went unnoticed by others. I could throw up my breakfast without co-workers cottoning on, and I could avoid alcohol without my friends doing the same. Thankfully, the nausea has largely subsided, and I'm only left with the occasional surprise vomit (emergency spew bags in my purse are a must now). All of our friends and family know we're expecting, so that pressure is gone as well. It's been nice being able to finally return to the office after four months of working from home, since I'll be going on maternity leave in another four months (which again doesn't seem real)! I'm only just coming to terms with the fact that there's an actual baby in there. Recently, I think I've started to feel what they describe as "flutters". Since I have an anterior placenta, people told me I might not feel any movements until later on. Still, I'm becoming more suspicious that this bubbling feeling isn't just gas but maybe a tiny little person swimming around in there. And if it is gas…well then I've been having very fond feelings towards it.