For someone who would love to be an inventor and the first to come up with a genius idea that made me millions, I seem to be constantly late to the game – not helped by a husband who equally spends years resisting ideas only to wish, once he’s accomplished them, that he’d done it a lot sooner. Together I’d like to think our life could be summed up as ‘fashionably late’ but in reality…..
With this in mind, it took us almost seven years together before we got married, year 35 of life to move out to the countryside and another two years to finally decide on having a baby!
I’ve always known I wanted children someday but there a few things that have put me off until now. When I read them out loud, they sound a bit pathetic and undeserving of being one of the lucky ones who has now managed to conceive but I genuinely thought I couldn’t cope with years of no sleep, I was really scared of the labour pain stories and I have a severe phobia of being sick so really didn’t think I could ‘do’ pregnancy.
I have therefore been really surprised by my own pregnancy journey so far and it’s led me to think about how much advice should you take on when you’re about to embark on yours.
Our pregnancy was planned so from the minute the test showed positive at the beginning of May 2017, I was constantly waiting for the morning sickness to kick in and due to my phobia mentioned above, it left me feeling really anxious. What happened instead was a weird acid reflux thing which I’d never suffered from before. I felt wiped out and at the hardest stage, I had to be put on tablets by the doctor because the burning was so uncomfortable but when I look back, it was a drop in the ocean compared to what I was expecting and what I’d been told by friends (one of whom had been sick up to 20 times in a day at her worst).
I am a massive fan of alternative therapies where possible and I don’t like to take tablets too much so I sought some acupuncture sessions whereupon the therapist told me she was confident the reflux would go as soon as I hit my second trimester… this was the positivity I needed to get through it and sure enough she was right. Lesson one – all that worrying for years and no sickness!
My second trimester was total bliss; I became the cliché blooming woman, receiving compliments about how pregnancy suited me, I had tonnes of energy and in a job where I run events for up to 15 hours a day on my feet I was so relived no symptoms affected me. Because of this, I developed a sense of calm and when often asked if I was nervous about labour, my answer was always no…it has to happen so I’ll deal with it when it comes. I shocked myself to say that given my aforementioned fears but was equally smug I’d finally grown up.
Then came the third trimester…. I still felt fine and even managing my second worry, (and lesson learnt) coping with the lack of sleep which no one warned me kicked in before the baby even arrives!
But I felt like every app I read, appointment with the midwife and conversation I had, resulted in people insisting that I needed to be more prepared.
You start being given books to read up on, suggestions on classes you should attend and the nearer you get to your due date, the more people want to tell you their stories.
I’m naturally a nosey person, I love asking people about their lives and specific details within them so I’m certainly not one to shun advice but I think there’s a real difference between asking for it and it being given to you unsolicited.
Granted I didn’t have to listen but there was a fear I’d be missing something really important if I didn’t. Sadly the fear for me started to come when I did. The books made me worry about labour; what drugs did I want? Was I being stupid blocking out the fact it was going to hurt? Why hadn’t I started drinking raspberry leaf tea and using massage oil down below?
For every two people that told me something specific worked for them, the third would tell me it was dreadful – how the heck does anyone make a decision?!
So what have I personally found useful and taken away from all of this?
• if you have any preconceptions about pregnancy do not let it delay you….the chances are it won’t turn out like that and if it does, trust me you’ll cope.
• Do ask as many questions as you want and Don’t feel stupid about the content. Mumbler chat group is great for just putting it out there. You may get conflicting opinions depending on the subject because that’s the whole point of this post, everyone’s journey is different, but you can take from the majority and it can really reassure you. I decided to buy a TENs machine, not to have an ECV, what nursing bras to try and to challenge some doctors advice, all through the strength of those groups!
• I found practical facts very helpful but not stories. One friend wrote me a list of things to buy in advance for the baby, what things are better picked up second hand or similar, and what can wait – this was brilliant and helped me focus but stories are just that, and not what will necessarily happen to you so Don’t let them panic you.
• Be prepared that if you’re open about how you’re feeling, you’re going to get more of those stories. I use social media a lot for work and as such, I’m quite vocal on my private pages too…sometimes I regret this as I’m just getting something off my chest and then I get an influx of replies but it’s all my fault and really it’s quite obviously going to happen!
• When you feel more confident, make sure you give back. Take time to reply to those other parents wanting advice on forums – after all they have asked so you’re not enforcing your views and it keeps those groups motivated.
Finally, you may have noticed I’ve not commented on the labour which as you know was a fear, stopped being one and then became one again…. well I’m 2 days off my due date as I write and no sign of anything happening yet so I obviously can’t comment but one thing’s for certain, I’ll make sure I don’t scare anyone with my future stories!
Ellen Davies, user of Ryedale & The Coast Mumbler Chat Group.