I have to admit that I was somewhat cautious about starting to write this blog at all, and in the end I've done so with no other ambition for it other than to document how I'm feeling about the slightly mad world of being pregnant, and in the hope that if other like-minded mums do find it, I've helped them feel like they aren't the only person feeling like a bit of a mad-woman at times!
I didn't write during my first trimester, partly because we were only telling a select number of people, and in particular I didn't want my clients to know until I was a little further along; and also because, quite frankly - I felt awful for most of the first 12 weeks! We'd been trying to have a baby for about a year, and I was fairly convinced that we wouldn't be successful at all given that I have polycystic ovaries. But even the happiness we felt when we first found out that I was pregnant was somewhat out-weighed by the 24/7 nausea, tiredness and (I suspect) depression that ensued. I know people who have had it far worse, and have barely been able to been able to leave the side of a toilet, but when you're going through these things you feel like you're in you're own bubble of despair, and that kind of context just doesn't seem to apply.
Cue the 12 week mark, and the bit of advice that I've come to learn that parents live by 'everything changes' definitely came true for me. The nausea disappeared, on the whole my energy came back, and I started to feel like myself again. A big part of this was finally being able to face food again, and return to my normal (mostly) clean-eating ways, something that had gone out of the window in the first trimester, and I suspect hadn't helped the situation. I went from someone whose diet normally avoids the 'white stuff' because I know it makes me feel like crap, to a diet that lost all colour, and was devoid of vegetables (actually I say no colour, but it was 90% beige and 10% orange because I ate my body weight in satsumas).
As normal life ensued, so did my excitement about having this baby, and my curiosity about how I approach pregnancy and then motherhood was aroused. I'm going to be a mum at 38 (well, almost 39 by then); and whilst my age has never stressed me out in terms of being a mum, I think there are implications of being this age that mean that you approach it a little differently (or at least vs. how I might have in my 20's):
(1) I'm probably more selfish about who I am and the life I've (we've) built up and want to preserve it
I don't mean to mis-represent how I see motherhood here. I know our children will mean everything to us, and that I would lay my life down on the line for them if it was required. But, by 38, I've watched the majority of our friends go through parenthood (some are on their 3rd or 4th by now), all of whom have approached it in different ways. The thing that stands out to me is that those who are happiest (and their children seem to be too) are those that have strived to be happy as individuals as well as great parents. They've found a way to prioritise their interests as well as their children's, to spend time together as a couple, not just as mum and dad, and they've made the assumption that little people are pretty adaptable beings, and decisions like travelling, moving abroad, and having adventures are still open to them.
(2) I tend to question the way that 'things are done' in favour of assessing all the information and working it out for myself
This was a big part of the naming decision for this blog (no mean feat amongst the millions of mum blogs that now exist!). I've seen friends be vilified by other mums, or the health system when they haven't successfully managed to breast feed, or because they've chosen a certain approach to getting their child to sleep. The common thread amongst all of the mums I've spoken to is that things tended to get better when they went with their gut and said 'sod it' to some of the advice that they were being given.
This is in no way saying that advice from others can't be helpful - of course it can, and I'm the first to research and understand some of the given thinking before working out my own thoughts - standing on the shoulders of others if you will - but ultimately, you have to work out what's right for you. Your child, your body, your partner, your family - your decision.
(3) I'm much more aware of what is good for my body, and I've become a big believer in a more holistic way to approach health, and I think this applies to pregnancy too
I put our success in getting pregnant at all to the help we received from an amazing acupuncturist (Ross Barr, check him out, he's a genius!) and nutritionist (Eve Kalinik, also brilliant). I was (I thought) a pretty healthy individual before I saw these guru's - I exercised 5 or 6 times a week, ate a healthy diet, liked a few drinks at the weekend, but had definitely calmed down over the years, etc etc.... but ultimately I didn't have periods, which is a pretty basic thing when you're trying to get pregnant! Seeing these guys made me realise I was over-exercising, running down my batteries on top of an already hectic work life, and that I desperately needed to slow life down a bit and let my body re-balance.
This experience has made me realise that there are numerous treatments that work hand in hand with western medicine (or sometimes, instead of) that not only make you feel more relaxed and in control, but directly affect positive outcomes in pregnancy. I'm going to be exploring a few to get myself in the best possible shape for the baby, and being a mum afterwards. This goes hand in hand with a strong point of view on the nutrition I give my baby before birth, but also how I feed my kids afterwards, I'm determined (perhaps naively, but still this is about 'my way' after all!) for vegetables to be a source of pleasure in this household, not something I have to bargain alongside sweet treats...
(4) I'm at the point where I'm comfortable with my style, and love fashion, and don't want this to be something that disappears!
I know a girl who writes a great blog called @DresslikeaMum - and it's essentially a campaign bringing into question people's perceptions that mums dress in a certain way, and essentially lose all of their style credibility the moment they procreate. I have to admit, I'm probably one of those people who held a perception that the moment you become a mum you don Ugg's and a large puffa jacket, the rest of your wardrobe loses relevance, and I desperately wanted to run away from this outcome.
Of course this isn't the case (and I'm actually partial to a large puffa or parka, so no offence meant at all!) and there are tons of fabulously stylish mums out there - I think it's more about staying true to who you are and what your own style is, so I've been investigating this for both maternity wear, and in particular underwear (someone told me that I'll have to accept having ugly underwear which I refuse to accept), and will document some of what I've found here.
(5) Most importantly, I've learnt in all other areas of my life that what you plan may bear no relation to the actual outcome, and that's often a good thing...
I can't think of a scenario where this is more relevant than becoming a mother. All of the above means that I want to try to find a way that I think about it all, some kind of common thread that I can come back to, but at the end of the day this will be the ultimate exercise in loss of control. The little person who is about to arrive is just that, a person, meaning that they'll have their own personality, will and way of doing things, and much as I'd love to plan it all, there is just no way that I can, and that's probably the brilliance of it too. Not an easy thing for a 38 year old, (often described) alpha-female type, but I'm trying to embrace it...
So that's it I guess. This blog is going to explore the answers to questions I have as I go along this path, with recommended reading (I've already found a few gems that have made me feel normal in how I think about things), sources for great clothes that see you through the 9 months and beyond, approaches to food and more. Even if no-one reads it, I'll have enjoyed writing it as I can't think of a more exciting change to be going through, and I'd like to be able to look back on it (and hopefully realise how tiny some of these stresses actually were in the long run).