TMT = Too Much Truth
I started writing this post at 34 weeks pregnant with the idea to share the mental state of a woman nearing the end of her pregnancy… Oh I’m going there.
Perhaps I should have just left it within the safe confines of my drafts file, nestled among my other less publishable posts… But instead, it seems I’m on something of a mission to share my pregnancy and motherhood truths, warts and all.
For many of you, hopefully not most of you, that means hands-over-ears-la-la-la-TMI. And I agree, some things should remain private. But for me, too much privacy gave me some seriously unrealistic expectations… So I wish I came across more articles like these. They exist, it’s just that I found them too late.
Yesterday, for example, I came across this post called Why I’d Rather Give Birth Via C-Section and I had a real holy shit moment. It felt as if a future copy of myself wrote it. After the experience I had, (in case you haven’t already, you can read my birth story here) next time, I want a C-section!
Speaking of truths, have you ever heard someone say that recovering from a natural birth is so much faster than a C-section? Because I have, plenty of times, and that’s partly why I decided to rip my privates open because hey, it’ll heal up quicktime, right? Wrong.
Lies! Maybe for some women… probably the same elusive women who orgasm during birth or tout painless deliveries, but for most women… And so I’m sitting there looking my gyno dead in the eye two months postpartum asking why I didn’t heal up frickin’ weeks ago already, and she’s looking back at me with this confused yet patronising face as if to say, ‘awww, this poor woman hasn’t a clue’, and the statistic she gives me, the average time of recovery, she says, is… wait for it, SIX months.
Say what now? No, I didn’t know that. I didn’t know half the things I know now. (It’s definitely been a learning curve, check out my other post 10 Things I Didn’t Know About Pregnancy.) But you will. You will know, because I will tell you! Think of me as the Amy Schumer of mum blogging. (Seriously, she is one of the only celebrities to speak out about these things.) Real talk, big tings.
So back to this post of mine you’re about to read… Apparently, I was feeling pretty pissed off that day and decided to take up issue with the unrealistic portrayal of women and pregnancy as a glamorous, glowing sort of time. (Because, spoiler alert, it’s not.)
Buuuut perhaps I went a little overboard. Perhaps that’s why this one remained banished to my drafts file… But I must be pissed off about something else today because I’m hitting publish muhfukah!
We, The Glamorous Women
You know who was super glamorous when pregnant? Rosie from the Londoner. She looked incredible and continued to work on her blog despite suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum! If you didn’t read her birth story, you should, (and then read mine!) She basically birthed her beautiful baby girl inside a home spa, delivering her placenta “without any bother at all.”
I’m going to hazard a guess here and say that she must have skipped over the ’00s youth experimentation’ phase, since she was “away with the fairies” after inhaling only gas and air. Remember when kids used to recreationally take horse tranquilliser? I never went that far, but I will say that for someone who can finish off a tequila bottle and still win a game of poker, gas and air didn’t do shit.
But Rosie isn’t the only one to present pregnancy as something effortless and beautiful. Women are beautiful, so pregnancy is beautiful. Women, we do this thing where we try to look our best throughout all of life’s chapters. From awkward teen to menopausal cougar, beauty and sex appeal is our birthright.
We wear make-up to cover our flaws and accentuate our best features, we wear underwear to lift and sculpt, we wear clothes to hide and flatter… What we don’t do, (but Amy Schumer does!) is go around saying hey, oh you think I look pretty? Well, you wouldn’t believe the giant sized pimple I squeezed out this morning and covered up with this incredible full coverage concealer! Or, normally I’m flat as a pancake but with this wonderbra I had you thinking I was a double D!
No, no we don’t do that, and with good reason. We don’t go around telling everyone we meet the details of our lives, especially those that are better covered up. Burping and farting socially is rude (social farting, what?) but you get the idea. And sure, the list is long of all the things we should filter from conversation with our boss or that couple you just met… There is a time and a place for oversharing, say, between close friends, if you happen to be a famous comedian, or in a blog that’s your own?
Honest Reflections on Pregnancy by a Heavily Pregnant Woman
Even though I believe that the women of the world are already doing such a great job of sharing the glamorous sides of pregnancy, I also want to share my experience! Of course, some women are more glamorous than others, so please don’t feel bad if you’re pregnant and can only relate to a few of these.
Well well well, let’s see now. Let’s start at the beginning: the very first trimester. For me, this was definitely a glamorous three month period, filled with vomiting, belching and burping, as my oesophagus suddenly decided that what goes in, must come out… the same way it came in! Strangely enough, my vomiting “saga” didn’t obey the “morning” sickness epithet. I vomited day and night.
Moving on. Although the baby is still smaller than a postpartum haemorrhoid, (see how casually I just dropped the H-word?) the uterus has already begun its expansion, placing a very light pressure on my bladder, but just enough to make me feel like I need to pee all the time.
Meanwhile, there are women who don’t even realise they’re pregnant until trimester two. They think nothing of their missed periods and frequent reflux. What makes them begin to suspect, is when that hangover fails to pass… And a tiredness sets in like the beginning of a long winter. Each day like another metre of snow until you can no longer leave the house. Could I be? Yeah honey, you sure are.
And once you know, the reading begins. So. Much. Reading. Because now the time is ticking and there is much to learn. What can/can’t you eat? How much coffee is ok? What type of exercise? Pelvic floor? Doctor appointments? Antenatal classes? What to buy? For baby? Mum? Nursery? How to give birth? Delayed cord clamping? Clean baby or no clean baby? Placenta delivery? Stem cells collection? An infinite list of choices…
This isn’t childbirth as our parents knew it. This is childbirth in the age of information. The Golden Age of Google. When googling anything, even childbirth, will ultimately lead you to the same, single conclusion. Cancer.
Around the second trimester is when pregnancy constipation hits. And boy does it hit. Think of it as a practice round for birth, as you learn to push out the concrete mass of the past three days. Careful now, constipation can lead to haemorrhoids so try not to let it come to that. Instead, make friends with a pregnancy safe bottle of lactulose. Also, peeing all the time.
The second trimester is a good news bad news sort of time. The good news is that the vomiting will likely stop. The bad news is, now is when you’re really starting to show, and before you know it your stomach will balloon so big you’ll swear you’re going to explode. (And maybe you will, but from your vagina.)
Still, I remember brief, fleeting moments, like when a butterfly lands on your finger, of feeling comfortable during this time. Of feeling less tired, of getting a good night’s rest, of life – almost – as I once knew it.
But it will come and go as fast as summer. If trimester two is summer, trimester one is autumn, your days getting shorter and darker, winter is coming. But there is no autumnal buffer between pregnancy summer and the winter of trimester three. It hits as suddenly as climate change. A heatwave of pain, a flash flood of hormones…
The third trimester is obviously when you put on the most weight. Like Kafka’s metamorphosis, except part-human, part-whale. Now is when you will learn to master the waddle-walk, the grip-the-knee-to-sit-up, and the wide-legged-squat to replace the now-that-ain’t-happening-anymore-bending-over.
The double chin, the cellulite, the thigh-gap turned thigh-rub, audible, too, swish swash. Maternity clothes, fat clothes, ribs expanding from 32 to 38 inches, your perfect little size 8 waist now a size 12. Peeing all the time. Through the night. Almost as frequent as a newborn feeds.
By now you should have learned to eat enough fibre to not repeat what you experienced in trim two. So you’re regular now, but good thing husband knows how to unblock a toilet and, peeing all the time.
For some, this is also the time of the boob leakage. Clear colostrum that constantly leaks and dries hard on your clothing. A crusty layer formed inside your bra, like egg whites. See? SEE? I’m not making this up.
There’s more. We haven’t even talked about P-A-I-N yet. Hip pain, back pain, head pain, pelvis pain, hand pain, abdominal cramping pain… Every type of pain! So let’s talk about these.
From around 20 weeks preggers, you’re advised to reduce your diagonal-front-back-and-upside-down sleeping habits to just 2 shitty positions: preferably one, sleep on your left side, alternatively two, you may also sleep on your right side.
Who sleeps on their side?! Months of continuous side-sleeping is painful! Nights are spent tossing and turning from one side to the other as you wake up from pain in your hip from your 100kg body sleeping on it. (Think I’m exaggerating? Beyonce literally weighed 99kg when she carried her twins! And once again, Jay-Z had 99 problems but this time Beyonce was definitely one.)
During pregnancy, your pelvic bones and ligaments loosen and guess what? Bones moving inside an adult human hurts! Remember the expression, growing pains? Another super weird thing is the hand rigor mortis that sets in during the last few weeks. It’s not uncommon to spend the morning regaining your hand movements as you pry each finger open one by one. It doesn’t make any sense, if the hormone prolactin loosens joints, why do hands stiffen?
Just as you thought the sleeping couldn’t get any worse, you start snoring. Serious snoring. As loud as grandpa after an entire bottle of whiskey, a full case of cigars and a head cold. Finally, some discomfort that your husband can take part in! What causes it? Is it the double chin or the extra production of snot? Nose bleeds are very common too, but mostly just bloody snot.
It must all be part of the training. To get you accustomed to the low-REM sleep you’ll be having from then on. To get you sleeping just light enough that a snort will wake you both, ready to be woken to the early grunting signs of hunger from your little one (wow, in hindsight, this was spot on).
Heard of Braxton Hicks and contractions? Sure, me too, but what do they feel like? No idea. Well, ladies and gentlemen of the world, they feel like… basically… quite simply… period pain! There is no mystery here! It’s PERIOD PAIN. You know, that thing you’d nearly forgotten about that used to happen once a month?
The third trimester is like one super long period as your body starts to practice birth, but without any blood. And then once you give birth, lucky you gets to bleed daily for at least a month, as your giant uterus shrinks back to size while shedding its gunk. Literally a massive period.
I’m not done just yet.
Let’s not forget feet swelling. Ladies, a word to the wise, take utmost care with pedicures at this time. A wrongly cut toenail can lead to an ingrown and infected toenail in no time. Because, feet swelling. An interesting lesson learned: never get a pedicure before a 13 hour flight. Because, feet swelling.
Ok, ye done now.
Ok ok ok before you say anything, relaaaax. This post was just a little bit of fun. Look, for me it’s all true, and that’s why I’m sharing the tortures of pregnancy with good old-fashioned English sarcasm and humour! Just to say that beneath the smiles of the pregnant women you see out and about, behind the “I’m good, and you?” conversation starters, we’re all wearing a metaphorical corset, some tighter and more painful than others.
Some women loooove being pregnant. Even if they vomit in the first trimester and have to take lactulose in the second and struggle to sleep in the third. Like any challenging sport, take UCF or American football for example, it’s a pleasure-pain, risk-reward kind of thang.
Yet, despite all our differences, every pregnancy is a miracle and a blessing. Since having my boy, he has brought so much love and light into my world that I would do it all again, of course I would. So please, I’m not trying to paint a nasty picture or scare anyone, I’m just trying to address this imbalance I experienced by showing you what’s under my make-up.
There’s a 4? Yup, there’s a 4. And speaking of glamour, pregnancy was a piece of cake compared to D-day, followed by the even-less-talked-about “fourth trimester.” Positive birth, natural birth, negative birth, horror birth… Whatever type of birth, there will be blood, stitches, and the expulsion of a large blubbery mass of placenta. I don’t know why some people imagine this cute little thing that you can make into a smoothie or pills. Have you even seen a placenta? It’s diabolical. More on that next time!