I fell pregnant in Africa somewhere in the craziness of the first week after New Years. It’s a little hazy as that time was filled with weddings, parties, rosé all day and general frivolity. I came home from a long holiday after bouncing around the globe with my main man in tow, and I had a feeling. You know the one, it sits there in the back of your mind making your tummy breed butterflies like it’s spring. The one where you start to think, oh snap, I just might be knocked-up. The last few weeks of our trip were spent maxing and relaxing in Thailand, where for the first time in my adult life I didn’t feel like drinking. If that hadn’t tipped me off nothing would have. A regular ol’ Sherlock Holmes I was not! I would have continued on in blissful ignorance until my belly grew so large I could no longer attribute it to Gelato Messina, and only then would it have dawned on me. I had gone off the pill the August before and my body still hadn’t regulated itself (urgh chemicals), so had it not been for that wee little feeling, I wouldn’t have known. To be perfectly honest, that feeling did lead to a mad dash to a chemist in Bangkok one afternoon, and 3 failed pregnancy tests in a shopping centre bathroom, which totally could be attributed to the fact the instructions were in Thai.
Home I went feeling a weird mixture of relief and general unsettledness because I just was not quite convinced. That feeling wouldn’t go away. Once home I had a very eventful afternoon trying to surreptitiously knock pregnancy tests into my basket in Woolworths so I could self-check out and no one would be the wiser. Two positive and one negative tests later it’s safe to say I was freaking out. I booked myself in with the first doctor who would see me, who, might I add, was super judgey when I lamented about the copious amounts of rosé that had been consumed only a few weeks earlier. He sent me off to pathology for a blood test (just made it before closing at 5pm) and the painstaking 24 hour wait for results ensued. Back to the doctor the next afternoon (my regular doc who was far nicer) and announced the happy news. My husband was running late from work to the appointment, I’ll never forget his face when he opened the door, looking like he might pass out, as we beamed at him with ‘YEP, A BABY!’ faces.
The next few weeks were filled with guarding our sweet little secret, and some of the worst acting I’ve ever done attempting to appear as if I was drinking at social events. I am sort of superstitious, as in I’ll scale a wall before I have to walk under a ladder, but with so many beautiful friends having had experienced the heartache of miscarriage, I was well aware that the first 13 weeks were a cautious time. It was a difficult thought process as everything in your being tells you to get excited. Your whole world is going to change, this is it, you’re a grown up now! Then there’s that voice, the voice of statistics, doctors, friends and family warning you, ‘just be careful don’t get your hopes up’. I was not aware of how common miscarriage was until falling pregnant myself, and I am in awe of all of the mumma’s who have lived through that profound loss and survived. I remained cautiously hopeful, and we painstakingly crawled our way to thirteen weeks. We did all the tests, had the scans and without getting too confident we breathed a sigh of relief that it appeared we were going to have a healthy baby boy.
The next few months were filled with more hen’s parties, weddings, social events than one could poke a stick at, and fun loving me had to learnt to adjust to this new sober life style. Turns out I’m not such a natural party animal after all. As my belly grew, so did my desire to be couch bound with Uber Eats dropping me multiple deliveries of all of my favourite foods; fries, ice cream, CAKE! I have always been a salty, carb loving lass, but now there wasn’t a piece of cake or sweet treat in the world that didn’t tickle me in all the right places. As my friends and significant other continued to have a blast I became more inclined to back-door -it and have some serious me time on the couch. It was isolating but I had found my happy little corner of the universe. Just me, the bump and comfort food. Luckily two of my besties were also with child at the same time so we often called each other morosely on Saturday nights to vent about how much fun EVERYONE ELSE was having on Insta stories.
I began to appreciate the quiet time, my life had been so go, go, go, always seeing-doing-being-involved-in. I’d go to the opening of an envelope. For the first time I was learning to sit back, relax and contemplate this huge life changing alien growing inside of me. When up-the-duff everyone asks, ‘how are you feeling?’, I found myself constantly asking other preggos the same thing, like we have all lost any sense of identity before hand and nothing other than our state of vomity, sleepless, achy, bloaty, emotional, hormonal-ness was of any interest. The fact was for the first half of my pregnancy I had a dirty little secret, I felt GREAT! I never threw up, not once (don’t go telling too many women that, I was warned) I had loads of energy and I was clear headed. Every doctors visit was brief and happy. “Baby’s totally healthy, you’re doing great keep up the GREAT WORK”. I was secretly smug city. I didn’t want to shout it from the roof tops because that slight superstitious side of me would creep in going “you’re going to jinx it just shut up and act tired’. I was incredibly grateful, I know its not sunshine and roses for every pregnancy. I had always envisioned myself being Brooklyn Decker in What To Expect When You’re Expecting. Along came the second trimester and suddenly I came down with a severe case of the Elizabeth Banks’. For those of you who haven’t seen the film, this meant that suddenly the bloat, cellulite, severe facial acne and lank hair hit me like a Road Runner anvil. WHERE WAS MY GLOW?!
Right before my baby moon I stood in a change room in the first bikini I’d dared look at since January (and I’m not so body confident at the best of times) and cried big ugly quiet sobs at the crazy huge dimply pasty person I saw before me. Luckily I have a very loving and supportive husband who always tries to make me feel beautiful, and he assured me we were just going to let loose in mumu’s in Hawaii and eat at the Cheesecake factory every damn day, and grow even larger together. Fast forward to half way through the trip where I received a phone call from my doctor saying I had Gestational Diabetes. The exact words are hazy but it was something along the lines of not to panic but stop eating everything immediately until I could come home and have the baby examined and be tested. There was talk of insulin and bringing the little guy out early so he wouldn’t grow to be too big of a guy. Well, I ignored all advice and I panicked. I knew nothing about GDM (or GHB as my husband kept calling it. Which I had to gently remind him was a party drug and not a pregnancy related blood glucose condition). I spent the rest of my holiday obsessively reading food labels and every article I could find online about what one can or can’t eat and how to combat GDM. I had a lovely diabetic specialist tell me over the phone to stop reading articles immediately (LOL, sure. Miss Google 2018 had already read all of the articles and was suitably terrified about all of the awful things that could happen to my baby). By the way, the saddest part of this whole ordeal? I NEVER EVEN GOT TO EAT ONE BITE OF CHEESECAKE! Probs for the best though, did you know those slices are upwards of 1600 Calories? Thats like a whole days worth of food in one sugary delicious hit. Appalling!..(ly delicous). Certainly didn’t stop my husband from eating it in front of me every day, apologising profusely whilst doing so. Have you ever seen a man eat a piece of cake saying ‘sorry sorry sorry’? It would have been funny had I not been so furious.
This has led me to the last few months of my pregnancy being a total shift in lifestyle, health and wellness, but also in thought. My pregnancy until this point had been about everything I was missing out on, not everything I was going to gain. Don’t lift your pitchforks yet, I had been very careful and generally took reasonably good care of myself during the pregnancy. I didn’t touch alcohol, raw fish, soft cheese, all the big no-no’s. I walked sometimes, hey, I even did like three pilates classes! I had however found comfort in food, and took the term eating for two on board as my personal motto. Hell I was eating for 3 or 4. My doctor assured me the GDM was genetic and I could have downed lettuce leaves the whole pregnancy and still been diagnosed with it.
Now I was the health and wellness queen! I am one of the lucky ones I can control my GDM with diet and exercise, and monitoring my blood glucose levels via finger pricking an hour after every meal (which bloody hurts ‘scuse the pun). I don’t have to take insulin, for that I am unbelievably grateful.
I haven’t touched a processed morsel since my diagnosis. Like, I can’t tell you the levels joy I now get out of a yoghurt (It’s amazing/depressing what you can trick your mind into believing what constitutes a treat). I try and exercise a little every day (a walk or pre-natal class guys, don’t worry I’m not suddenly knocked-up fitness barbie). Every day is a test to see what makes my levels spike and what doesn’t. I have found a new level of self-discipline I didn’t know I had. Sometimes it does feel like a cruel joke, taking sugar away from a pregnant lady who can’t let loose in any other way. Where’s the release I ask you?!
The reason I have found this self-discipline is that this is no longer just ‘my pregnancy’, or what I am deprived of. It has shifted to everything I am about to gain. It has become about what is best for the sweet, innocent, tiny human growing inside of me. How can I give him every chance of being born at optimal health and able to take on the world? Finally after months of this weird sense of disconnect between my heart and the contents of my belly I have begun to understand selflessness. My protective instincts are kicking in. Of course I care more about this person than I can fully comprehend yet, of course I would never do anything to put him in harms way. It’s just finally I am able to think less about myself and start to connect the dots that I am going to be a parent. My needs will come second for the rest of my life! Its a big shift but I’m starting to be here for it.
My GDM is mostly under control, we’re monitoring his size, so far everything is looking good. I am reading every positive birth book and baby survival guide I can get my hands on. I’ve done the classes, I have washed all the clothes in the most organic of washing powders, on the most delicate of cycles. I’m buying all the millions of things that a tiny baby apparently needs (SO MUCH STUFF?!). I recently purchased some horrendous nose sucking gadget to slurp their congested little nostrils dry? Now, if that ain’t unconditional love I don’t know what is. I wish only for good health for myself and my baby, but in some ways this GDM is a blessing, because I have managed to have a healthy and calm last few months of pregnancy. I am conscious of every thing I put in my body, I am clear headed, but most of all I am finally feeling more connected to this person that will have to exit out of me and into the physical world pretty darn soon. He is becoming less of a concept and more of a real person, and even though it is absolutely terrifying, and I have no idea what I’m doing, I just can’t wait to meet him.