Knocked up and naffed off?
Eating for two and feeling blue?
Don’t worry, dear reader, you’re not alone! Our old weekend party columnist turned Glummy Mummy, Gaynor Jones, exclusively shares her pregnancy with our readers.
With access all areas to her diaries, emails and even video (look away now if you’re squeamish!) join her on a journey of chaos, self-doubt and double incontinence. You’ll laugh, you’ll cringe, you’ll cross your legs as our unlikely mother-to-be painfully separates her expectations of a pampered pregnancy from the true experience.
What to Expect When You Weren’t Exactly Expecting to Be Expecting
Expectation: You may be one of the unfortunate women who experience mild sickness or nausea. Ginger biscuits and flat lemonade can help.
Experience: I am sick. Every hangover I breezed through as a teenage binge-drinker has come back to bite me on my newly flatulent bottom. I’m stranded on a sweat of bedsheets and streaky magazines.
I need to empty my bladder for the bazillionth time today and I’m eyeing up the nearby nappies, gauging how much urine each one could hold and wondering where the girl has gone who wouldn’t deign to use a public toilet without an intricate hovering dance (complete with patented squat and shake moves). She laughs out at me from a nearby frame, glittery eyes sparkling as she dances, drink (oh sweet, sweet drink) in hand.
I throw a soggy ginger biscuit at her but the movement is too much and I heave over the bin, splattering last night’s Tesco receipt for pickles, lemon sherberts and – what’s that last one?
Expectation: You may experience mild mood swings and periods of lowness. This is usually a normal response to the hormone changes in your body, but speak to your midwife if you have concerns.
Experience: I have packed my bags and I’m waiting for my Mum to come and get me. That’s right, I’m 32 years old and I have called my Mum. She’ll understand, she’s been through this twice before. Unlike he-who-shall-not-be-named. Or maybe I will rename him actually…
No, must stay calm and think pure thoughts, for the baby. But it’s hard to stay calm when all you want is a plain chocolate ice cream and someone brings you… I can’t even bring myself to say it. I mean of all the irresponsible, immature, idiotic things to do.
He put his clothes on, drove all that way to the all-night supermarket across town and then couldn’t even get the right bloody ice cream flavour. Chocolate ice cream. CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM. The most basic, easy-to-get food in the WORLD.
Calm, calm thoughts, calm baby. Breathe in. Breathe out. That’s better.
Shit, he’s coming. I can hear footsteps. And clinking.
I think he’s put something behind the door.
Oh! A bowl of chocolate ice cream! My ice cream! Oh I love him. I LOVE YOU. I’M SORRY. I’LL CALL MUM NOW, GET UP HERE YOU BIG SOPPY LUMP.
Wait a min- What’s that? A nut? A bloody nut in my mouth?
YOU DIDN’T GET ME NEW ICE CREAM, YOU JUST SCOOPED THE NUTS OUT OF THIS ONE.
OH, I HAAAAAAAATE YOU.
Expectation: Most morning sickness will pass by the second trimester. This is a good time for plenty of fresh air and exercise.
Experience: 18 weeks. 18 sodding weeks of constant sickness. If my midwife tells me one more time that pregnancy is not an illness and I’ll feel better if I exercise, I’m going to take that magic wand of hers (sans lubricant) and shove it where babies don’t come out of.
Yeah, so I’m the only one in the waiting room with more of a grimace than a glow but those other women don’t know how lucky they are. It’s not my fault my one foray into pregnancy-yoga ended with more of a spread-eagled spaniel than a downward facing dog. And the way that poor man had to hoist me off the ground! I can never go back.
The thing is, it’s ever so hard to exercise when your pelvis decides to open up a good few months earlier than it’s supposed to. SPD they call it, which stands for Sodding Pathetic Duck waddle. That’s how I walk now, when I can walk. Girdled up and waddling like Donald Duck meets Pride and Prejudice. I don’t know how they bloody breathed in those days. Let alone gave birth.
Expectation: While there are many old wives’ tales about methods to induce labour, it’s best to be patient and wait for baby to arrive.
Experience: I’m 8 days past my due date and have eaten so much pineapple that I’m surprised the fruit hasn’t sprouted out of my head like Carmen Miranda on a bad day. Pineapple, pineapple, pineapple. But the man from Del Monte, he says NO. He ain’t shifting. And to wash down all that pineapple? Raspberry leaf tea. Followed by curry, curry and more curry. It’s a good job my sickness has finally passed, though husband is starting to look a bit green around the gills.
I even spent a miserable afternoon trudging round the neighbourhood with one foot on the pavement and one in the road (thanks, Aunty Jean, for that one) until the vicar’s wife clocked me blaspheming into her begonias on the tenth pass by.
I’ve tried everything else anyone in the world has ever suggested to induce labour. Well almost everything. Husband (on a brave day) has tentatively suggested, well you know, the thing that got us into this mess in the first place.
But let’s be honest, at this stage we both know that would be less Fifty Shades and more Free Willy (pun definitely not intended).
Expectation: Gas and air can help with the pain once labour starts, but may make you feel a little lightheaded.
Experience: I have entered another dimension. The tall people here look like us, but taller. Stretched out. One has funny eyes and sits quietly at my side but the other is pacing and angry. The angry one keeps batting at me, grabbing at something in my hand, and the more I shoo her away the angrier she gets. Her mouth is moving but it sounds like bubbles, like an upside-down fish. I start shrieking with laughter, I can’t help it. Fat, juicy tears roll down my face as I carry on shooing her.
Ooh I sound funny here too! Like something is jammed in my mouth. I try again but crease up with laughter. The one with the funny eyes talks too but he sounds like a cow in a field having a bad day.
There, there little cow.
I pat his head and wriggle further away from snatchy-angry-face. I quite like it here.
Expectation: You may not feel the need for pain relief. Plenty of women manage with deep breathing or visualisation techniques.
Experience: My toenails are painted gold because that was my calm colour in our positive birth sessions. They peek up at me now, splattered in who only knows what and ask me
Really? You really thought painting us the colour of murky chicken nuggets was going to help you get through this?
I’d laugh if I wasn’t howling. Since they took the gas and air away from me (misusing it indeed) and put me on the wait for an epidural, all I can do is howl. And count. It’s like a werewolf maths lesson in here. I count to five over and over again. The midwife asks me to describe the pain and I shoot her with my eyes.
It’s like you have clamped a bowling ball to my nethers and you are swinging it back and forth waiting to strike, will that do y – ooooooooooowwwwwwww. One two three four five one two three four five.
Once I caught a fish alive my soon to be ex-husband murmurs from next to me then clamps his mouth shut again. He hasn’t spoken much since he wafted my calm picture in front of my sweaty face and told me to breathe deeply.
GET THAT AWAY FROM ME IT’S NOT WORKING
There may have been some swearing.
The door opens, it’s the man with the needle! Never in my life have I been so happy to see a needle. I want to marry him and I tell him so. After some faffing, it’s in and the pain is gone. Completely gone. I lie in bliss as they poke and prod me around on the bed, until the doctor holds up a hooked instrument and explains his intent.
Are you planning on breaking my waters with that, or knitting a scarf?
Expectation: You may tear or need an episiotomy (a small cut) during labour that will require stitches.
Experience: Let’s not go there, eh?
Expectation: It’s often said that the tea and toast you have on the labour ward will be the best food you’ve ever tasted.
Experience: And it bloody well was.
Oh, and the baby is quite lovely too.
THE END (AKA THE BEGINNING)
Illustrations by P. Hall