Diary of an (unimpressed) Pregnant Lady – the first trimester symptom olympics.

So, we were going into week “anywhere between 6 and 10 but definitely not past 12”, without any actual answers or chances for medical advice, and we simply had to make our peace with the fact that we would be tackling my yet not officially confirmed and yet “oh so obvious by all the shitty-symptoms” pregnancy, by ourselves for the time being.

We heeded the advice of conventional wisdom, and the books of course, and adjusted my diet as one does… The Doctor at the first visit had “helpfully” given me a print out of an NHS website that I had already bookmarked in my phone almost 3 weeks prior, on the day I got a positive pregnancy test result at home, but sure, since I am polite, I would thank her for it all the same. *eyeroll*

What’s the list?

  • No alcohol. ✓
  • Don’t undercook your meat… I’m a pescatarian, so ✓.
  • Don’t eat Sushi (this is completely redundant within the European Union, due to the European raw Fish for human consumption processing laws, which kill all the harmful bacteria, but it’s not worth the fight with petty bitches) so… ✓
  • Do not consume non pasteurised Dairy products (who does that, eww) … ✓
  • Do not consume blue cheese (again with the eww) ✓
  • Do not eat cheeses with white rinds (brie, camembert etc) unless fully cooked & bubbling (I guess) … ✓
  • Do not eat raw eggs. Shame I like my Tamago kake gohanbut it can wait … ✓
  • Do not exceed the recommended dose of 200mg of caffeine per day … wait WHAT??? But…  normal Americano has 100mg …. only 2 cups of coffee per day? *Death glare at my husband* fine…  ✓

I can handle that, that seems “simple” enough. 🙂

Besides, the physical symptoms don’t come until later, right? LOL WRONG! Let’s get a big drumroll, for the early pregnancy symptom Olympics.

Opening with a classic – the “morning sickness” routine steps up to the plate first, keeping you on your toes by not actually coming exclusively in the morning but rather at any random time of day it wants. The only known counter moves are crackers and fennel tea, and even those don’t always work. Great show, 8 points for ingenuity and cruel timing.

Who’s next? Oh! Team achy boobs reporting for showtime, and they brought their back up dancers, swollen blue alien-looking veins and deadly sensitive nipples. Wonderful; a proud 9 point hit for these tender ladies.

Following right behind the queasy stomach and boobs of aching fury routines, comes the bladder with it’s very own rendition of “the Riverdance that you thought was reserved for the third trimester”. Magic. Incredible. 10 points and a golden stream… I mean medal. Standing ovations all around, but not too long, because that might trigger an encore of sickness.

The ribbon that ties it all together, is their uniform representation; they’re all swaddled up in the flag of fatigue; never ending tiredness that just doesn’t leave and usually brings its very own soundtrack of sore muscles and headaches along with it. Three cheers for the first trimester symptoms olympic squad on a truly impressive performance.

Surely, that’s enough for any one person to be getting on with, right? Right… please say I am right… Oh wait… Flipping cavity fuelled nightmares of a tooth fairy… I forgot to account for the unsolicited advice from, well anyone who has a mouth.

“How much coffee have you had today?” “Do you know there’s caffeine in chocolate?” “Are you drinking enough water?” “Let me see what you brought for lunch.” “Are you sleeping enough?” “My gandma always said … ” “So this time my neighbour was pregnant… ” “Let me tell you about what happened to my cousin 20 years ago… ” AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!

Are you a Doctor? Are you a Nurse? Are you a Midwife? Are you any other type of paediatrically or ante-nataly specialised medical professional? Are you the other parent of this child? Are you the woman who brought me into this world, i.e. my mother? No? You’re none of those things? Well then, unless I specifically ask for your advice, kindly take the advice of famous comic Billy Connolly and FUCK OFF!

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Click here for his glorious (and short) explanation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJMqdTr7IQM

Yep, now I am going to need some fennel tea… ooh and maybe a soak in the hot tub. Oh right… I’m not allowed that either… The Sofa and Star Trek it is then… *sigh* xx

 

Diary of an (unimpressed) Pregnant Lady – the first weeks of Healthcare.

NHSSo, before I begin, I want to make one thing perfectly clear: I am an avid supporter and great fan of the NHS as an idea and as an institution. I think it’s a great feat of social and universal medical care, and I have greatly appreciated being able to see a Doctor, get medicine and not be afraid of calling an ambulance if it were ever needed, since my arrival in the UK nearly 4 years ago. I feel that the majority of people who work in the NHS are incredible and very hard working people, who have been stretched to their limits by a government that takes from their plates at every turn, to feed the baying dogs of private industry below the table even though everyone is looking! I have nothing but respect for the people of the NHS, and for the institution as a whole. That being said, because the NHS is being bled dry by bad policies, the services they are capable of providing are becoming more and more limited. Part of my pregnancy experience thus far, has obviously been around my heath care within the NHS and regrettably, due to a combination of bad financial policies, antiquated notions of health around weight and the very odd bedside manner of a few individuals, it has left me with feelings ranging from slightly confused to totally baffled, and I got there via the stations of incredibly frustrated and utterly insulted.

But, this is not a “hate piece” on the NHS, so if that’s what you’re here for jog on love. It is a commentary of my personal, and regrettably so far upsetting experience of the antenatal care therein thus far, and I just want to make it clear that I genuinely believe that the problems are a result of the cut throat reduction of funding the NHS suffers under. Good? Good.

Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 17.52.51Now, moving on to my actual piece… Healthcare. It’s an essential part of antenatal care, and anyone who has sat through High School Biology, or has a meddling older neighbour or family member, has already been well schooled on “the basics”. Personally, I took a slightly more vested interest in the medical aspects of pregnancy, fuelled (not in small part) by my personal aversion to the very idea of it (as discussed here). I wanted to be as prepared as I possibly could be, for a process as notoriously unpredictable as this.

I had the timeline of the scans at hand, knew which symptoms to expect at what point, and which tests to expect as the weeks passed, and yet none of my reading prepared me for my experience with my very own “medical team”.

When I first discovered my pregnancy (with a private at home, Clear Blue pee on a stick test) it was April 19th. I called my (new) local GP’s office right away, and they summoned me for a registration appointment, which I needed since I hadn’t registered with them yet, because we had only just moved into the neighbourhood a few weeks prior. Said appointment was scheduled very quickly, for Monday the 24th of April. I went, filling out tons of forms and got to meet a very kind young nurse, who took my blood pressure (and complimented me on it), measured my height and took my weight. She entered some numbers into a chart and told me to make a new appointment to come and see the actual Doctor.

I was a little deflated, since I was hoping to get an official confirmation of the pregnancy at that point, especially since I didn’t have any sort of indication of how far along I might be. You see, I don’t have regular periods, and my last one had been in January of this year, so I had no way of knowing how far along I was, other than that the digital Clear Blue Test said it was more than 3 weeks. Alas, there was nothing she could do, so I went to make a new appointment. The first possible date? May the 5th, almost 2 weeks later! This baffled me, since everything I had read said it was crucial to know how far along one was, but oh well; I had no choice and they were doing their best.

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It also struck me as odd that I wasn’t instructed to take the oh so important folic acid, but I just took it upon myself to go buy some at Boots and made sure to take the average recommended daily dose of 400 micrograms. (As discussed with the Pharmacist.)

 

At home, I did a bit of crude math, based on a combination of the “3+ weeks” diagnosis the digital stick gave me and our *cough* recent intimate liaisons *cough*, and arrived at a rough estimate of 6 weeks pregnant. I downloaded the NHS approved app for my phone, and fervidly threw myself into even more reading.

My husband, very excitedly, took the morning of May 5th off, so that he could attend that very first Doctors appointment with me. The Doctor measured my height, my weight, took my blood pressure (which she too complimented me on – I thought this odd) and then asked me exactly the same questions as the nurse had two weeks prior. No sooner had the appointment started, she then wanted to dismiss me from the office, with a referral to the local hospital’s maternity unit.

Excuse me? But she hadn’t done any tests yet! No pee test. No blood test. Nothing to actually confirm the pregnancy. I asked about this, and she said that the “at home tests were as good as anything they could do”, and when I protested some more, especially about not knowing how far along I was, she laid me on a table and to poke my abdomen. She poked my abdomen – with her hands – and then proclaimed “anywhere between 6-10 weeks, but not past 12”. I was completely dumbfounded. That wasn’t a diagnosis. That wasn’t medical evidence. Where was I? When was I? The 1800’s?

Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 17.56.53In a desperate attempt to get any semblance of a medical answer, I also mentioned that my Rhys factor is negative, and asked if she would test for that please, since I know they need the confirmation, but even that was refused, saying he hospital would do it – whenever I got there. Which she didn’t know when that would be. Anytime within the next 2-3 weeks. I was to expect a letter (a physical, paper, snail mail letter) in the post, confirming my “booking appointment”. I walked out of that appointment with a prescription for an over the counter supplement called “Pregnacare”, which I was to take instead of what I had been taking so far, and in near inconsolable tears.

What if I was having a hysterical pregnancy? What if it was an ectopic pregnancy? What if, because I am quite heavy and thus a baby bump wouldn’t show on me like on other women, I was already passed the 12 week mark, which was the window for the dating scan? What if my hormones were just out of whack, given that my monthly cycle never recovered after the Nexplanon was removed? I had so many questions, and not a single answer. Not even a proper confirmation that I was actually pregnant.

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Not the start I was hoping for to my pregnancy care, and it had me very concerned for the rest of the journey, which I was already so concerned about. x

Diary of an (unimpressed) Pregnant Lady – an introduction.

So, about a year ago now, my husband and I decided we would try for a family. It is at this early point in my tale, that I must admit that this decision came from a place of deep love and mutual respect between us and helping each other fulfil our life dreams as best as we can – he dreams of having at least one child of his own; I don’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I always thought I would be a mum, but as I grew up and saw just how awful pregnancy seemed to be, and how many children there already are in the world who need a good home, the less interested I was in becoming a human incubator for, well, more humans who need incubating … but alas, I love my husband more than life itself and while he wholeheartedly supports my wish to adopt, he shared with me honestly how much it would mean to him to have at least one child of his own. I greatly appreciated that honesty, because I want there to be nothing “festering” between us in the long run, and I just could not deny him at least a chance at that wish.

(NOTE: Before any feminists jump into the ring here, to defend “my choices” let me be clear: I was not coerced, guilted or forced in any way shape or form. We were having an honest exchange among spouses, with ongoing conversations that lasted well over a year and he wanted me know that while he would support me no matter what my decisions were [my body, my rules after all] he just wanted me to know, that he still really wanted to be a biological Dad. I chose that I wanted to give this a try, since I want him to have happiness in his life in what ever form that may take. So please, let’s just not even go there, ok? Okay, thanks.)

Moving on… The idea of pregnancy has freaked me out for years. As a child I was fascinated with it, as most kids are, but as I grew older and watched my first friends go through it, I took up a thorough interest in the subject of human procreation (and even developed a relatively deep understanding of the material, for a non medical student)  in my post-high school Biology class. However, the more I learned, the more weary I grew of the process. The physical changes alone (and that’s completely ignoring the gruesome birth part) seem awful; organs out of place, skin stretched beyond repair, feet that can’t be seen, leaking nipples, uncontrollable food cravings, gargantuan mood swings and needing to pee every 5 minutes being just the tip of that particular ice berg! Add to that the borderline sociopathic way in which our society treats pregnant women, and I realised very early into my 20’s that I wanted nothing to do with that circus.

(What do I mean by “how we treat pregnant women” you ask? Well, very long list super short – the way they are treated as stupid, incompetent and uneducated invalids, that’s what. Telling them what to eat, what not to eat, what to wear and what not to wear, that they’re too feeble to carry near anything at any given time, or just do their normal jobs and worst of all, treat them as though their mental faculties and personhood has gone out the window!!!  “Don’t tell Sarah her favourite Sushi place has a new menu – you’ll hurt her! She loves Sushi and we shouldn’t talk about it in front of her while she’s pregnant!” –> that BTW was an actual thing someone said to me once, [except I changed the name] when I wanted to tell a pregnant colleague about the cool new dish I tried at her favourite Sushi joint, so that she could look forward to it for later. But apparently being pregnant means you can’t process new information like a rational human being, so I was “put in my place” by other people.)

Despite all this, for the reasons stated at the start, my husband and I decided we would give this grand adventure a go. And everyone around us was thrilled. Unsolicited advice on how to best get knocked up started flying in as soon as anyone knew we’d quit the birth control… unnaturally personal questions, from people whom I would usually not even go to coffee with like “Have you tried doggy style?” “You should be tracking your cycle.” “Try shoving XYZ magic product up your vagina.” and “Have you had your period this month? wink wink nudge nudge” … FUCKING EXCUSE ME?

Of course everyone (with exception of a select few best friends who know me intimately well) assured me that, once I was actually pregnant, my feelings on the matter would change instantaneously. I was supposed to be mythically aglow, floating on a cloud of happiness as I cared for a budding blossom of life that was “miraculously” going to be growing inside me. I would love the bump instantly. Feel defensive and protective, naming it even, as the “mystical, magical, motherly bond that defies even time and space” would take a hold of me. That sounds like a gold coin shitting Leprechaun astride a silver unicorn, but sure, I would be waiting for that.

Ironically enough 9 months since we first decided to start trying we discover that –  *overdramatic drumroll please* – I am in fact pregnant. I did not want to publish anything online until I was past the notorious 12 week mark (don’t worry, I have a whole set of controversial opinions there too – they’re coming in another post) but now that we are, and we’ve seen the Dr. and everything is fine, I am happy to start sharing my experience.

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And guess what? It’s exactly as fucking awful as I expected it to be. Don’t get me wrong, I am very much looking forward to having a little “mini-us” at the end of all this, and seeing the glee on my husbands face every time he looks at my belly now and the way in which he skips through the shops picking out baby pyjamas just makes my heart skip a beat, but I have only (consciously) been at this for a few short weeks now, and already I want to punch anyone who is not my Dr. or my Husband who talks to me about this damned pregnancy square on the sniffer.  That’s what this mini series is going to be about. A dreadfully honest, blow by blow account of this pregnancy.

If something does turn out to be lovely, or magical in any way, I will of course be objective about it and let you all know, but so far? Yikes.

I wasn’t able to find much comfort in books or online, everything just blabbers on about the magic… so to soothe my own mind and maybe even reach out to some other expectant human incubators who are not enjoying the ride, I hope this might be helpful. xx