The Truth Hurts…But Not As Much As Labour

shrek

babynesia

Pronunciation: /beɪbiˈniːzɪə/

NOUN

[MASS NOUN]

A partial or total loss of memory that occurs after the horror of childbirth

‘Daft cow’s pregnant again, she must be clinically insane or suffering from a severe case of babynesia.’

 

I’ve recently become the victim of a con artist. This person was cunning, devious and a mistress of manipulation. I was tricked, drugged, left needing stitches and hospitalised for a week.

But who would do such an awful thing?

I’ll tell you who. Me. I did it to myself.

And what was the scam of the century? The same one that women throughout history have fallen prey to and will continue to do so for centuries more…

‘Childbirth wasn’t thaaaaaaaaaat painful, let’s have another baby!”

Liar, liar high-waist, steel-reinforced, M&S granny pants on fire.

You are lying to yourself, just like when you tell yourself the whole bag of Mini Eggs you’ve just eaten won’t make you fat because later you’ll have an apple and do six sit ups.

Your crafty, sneaky brain has tricked you. Hello ‘babynesia’.

Hormones, combined with some form of age-old witch craft, have enabled the female of the species to dupe a part of the brain that’s responsible for self-preservation, specifically the bit that goes ‘wait, that hurt like a bitch last time, best not do it again’. WHAT? How ridiculous is that?

Essentially, we forget the pain, the indignity and utter trauma of it all and become child-crazy moths to a flame. ‘Ouch. Oooh more babies. Ouch. Oooh more babies.’

And because we’ve gone back for further punishment, we proceed in duping the rest of the unfertilised female population – as they all foolishly think “Well it can’t have hurt that much, or she wouldn’t be doing it again…right?”

Hello, continual population of the human race.

There is, however, a brief moment of lucidity, post-labour, before babynesia takes over – you can generally tell when this is by asking a new mum whether she’ll have any more children and seeing if the response is a punch to the face.

I’m using this current moment of clarity to document the bloodbath that was the birth of my daughter in hope that by constantly reading it, I’ll manage to override babynesia when it starts to set in.

So sit back and hold on to your uteruses ladies…

 

Dear future me,

Step away from that baby.

You already have two children. One of each – healthy and happy. Quit while you’re ahead.

You will not, however, remember how much those two ‘blessings’ physically pained you as they entered the world. You are blinded by your love for them, even though one has probably just curled one out on your living room carpet and the other is licking the dog.

Go look in the mirror at what used to be your belly button – can’t see it? That’s because it’s now under a fold of skin. Lift that up… there you go. Now, assess your C-section scar – you’ll never be a Victoria’s Secrets model now thanks to those ‘blessings’(amongst other reasons) – go shake your fists at them.

You were the first of your friends to have a baby, now they’re all getting up the duff (fools) and you are feeling broody. I get it, but take yourself back to a time, a dark time, when your midwife told you that if you didn’t shit yourself while giving birth then you weren’t trying hard enough. Do you really want to go back there? No, didn’t think so. Go and have a number two in private (well with a toddler, baby and dog staring at you) and relish how nice it is.

Labour can be a beautiful, magical experience and no doubt you will have seen a raft of recent FB posts from smug acquaintances who birthed their 6lb bundle of joy on incense, the love of a heavily bearded partner and fairy dust. You will never be one of these people. You birth hulk babies and your last labour was like being sawn in half while all the NHS were elbow deep in your lady parts. Remember this.

You do not birth children well. Both previous babies have used the emergency exit. Take the hint. Your children are like daft cats that manage to squeeze themselves into tight spaces, but aren’t great at getting themselves out.

You’re months down the line now and you won’t be able to remember the exactness of labour pain, just that it hurt a bit. But you know that psychotic laugh you do when people who haven’t had children ask “Is it a bit like period pain?” There is a reason for that. When labour kicks in, period pain seems like a gentle internal massage at a day spa in comparison – this is why epidurals are offered to laboring women instead of two Feminax and half a pack of chocolate digestives.

Dignity. You have a teeny, tiny bit of this back now; you managed to reclaim a shred of it on your way out of the hospital after discarding your blood soaked surgical stockings. Any more children and you’ll lose it for good. Nothing tests the strength of a relationship more than projectile vomiting over your partner whilst amniotic fluid gushes down your legs and into your slippers. Also, revisit the part of this letter that addresses bowel control whilst excessively straining.

You are also vile in labour. Your only method of communication appears to be via the medium of obscenities, combined with a series of cold and terrifying Morse code blinks. Midwives are hard working, good people. You were not nice to them. Remember this.

All too soon babynesia will be upon you and you won’t remember the pain, the emergency sections, blood loss, complications and infections. You’ll be so in love with your little family that you’ll want to keep making little versions of you and hubs until either your bank account or womb collapse. Whenever you find yourself staring at an ugly baby in Tesco, or are tempted to series link ‘One Born Every Minute’ – re-read this letter and threaten your husband with two bricks.

As I’m writing this, my beautiful daughter is staring at me with baby seal eyes and giggling to herself about how hilarious her hands are. Cute. They grow so fast and all too soon she’ll be replaced by a foul-mouthed teenage diva that resents me for not allowing her to go to ‘Mason’s’ house party dressed as a stripper, or Kylie Jenner. Same, same.

I’m suddenly feeling pangs of sadness knowing that Evelyn is going to be my last baby. After her, I won’t see another first smile, laugh or drunken steps (until I actually see their first drunken steps). I love my little people. I love them so much that sometimes I cry myself to sleep at night because I know we won’t all be together forever.

The more I think about it…childbirth really wasn’t thaaaaaaaat painful. I mean, yes, it nipped a bit around the edges and there were some physical and emotional scars but it wasn’t that bad – was it? Maybe just the one more…?

Where’s Steve?

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Seriously. Get out of my womb.

At 38 weeks I resembled a large sea mammal and was utterly miserable. The “Ooh you’re all bump’ comments were long gone and had been replaced with sympathetic, wincing faces and “Not long now love” comments from random, old women in Morrisons.

SEAMANATEE

Everything was swollen. Forget cankles, I had thankles – just two continues tree trunks of fat, bloated legs, from hip to toe. I had serious doubts as to whether my pins would ever go back to normal and spent panic stricken evenings prodding them in bewilderment, then timing how long it would take for my white finger indentations to disappear.

It was just not possible for me to get any bigger without emitting some kind of gravitational pull, which, quite frankly, was alarming considering I had at least another two weeks to go. My husband did his best to put my mind at ease, but I could tell that secretly he was worried he’d be stuck with Kirstie Alley on a bad day for the rest of time.

In addition to elephantiasis, I was also experiencing a host of other late pregnancy delights. Along with needing to pee approximately every 14 minutes, I’d also acquired a slowly separating pelvis that was causing me to walk like I was auditioning for an OAP position at the Ministry of Silly Walks.

Apart from issues relating to my enormity; I was also determined not to go over my due date because my husband had week-long work commitments in London seven days after my due date, meaning that if I went over there was a good chance he wouldn’t be around when my contractions started.

o-KIM-KARDASHIAN-UGLY-CRYING-FACE-facebook

With fingers and toes crossed (the latter might not have been, I hadn’t seen them in while), I spent the next two weeks waiting, praying and obsessively bouncing on a Pilates ball, all in a desperate attempt to speed things along.

D Day

In pregnancy, it’s all about your due date; you spend every waking minute counting down the days until you can finally say hello to your bundle of joy and goodbye to your ability to sneeze without excessive clenching.

So, what happens when that momentous due date arrives and passes without a hint of a contraction or drop of amniotic fluid? Bitter disappointment and tears, lots and lots of tears, that’s what.

As I sat sobbing in the bath, waiting for my husband to come upstairs with the winch, I made it my mission to be proactive. This baby was coming out within a week whether it liked or not, I’d go in myself and drag it out if needs be, a la Kourtney Kardashian.

One day over

overdue

First things first, the dreaded sweep. Now I’d heard mixed reports on this rather invasive method of inducing labour, but the most consistent messaging was that it could be likened to somebody trying to scratch your eyes out, from the inside. But, if successful, contractions could start pretty quickly afterwards, so in my opinion, it’d be totally be worth it.

So off I went, rather too enthusiastically, to the midwife to get my fix of medieval torture. My other half wasn’t mad keen on coming with me, but I didn’t care and was very much of the opinion ‘you got this thing in me so you can watch someone else try and get it out’.

I had my heart set on a miracle and put my upmost faith in Bev, my midwife, so I gritted my teeth, thought of pate and gin and let her ‘sweep me good’.

MIDWIVES

My optimism was shattered and my husband’s gag reflex tested as Bev cheerfully announced she could ‘”just about get a fingertip in”, like that was a good thing. I was furious. Unless I was going to birth a Borrower, that wasn’t going to be enough. I glanced at her hands, hoping for some kind of mutant Shrek fingers, but no, disappointingly, Bev had dainty woman-sized hands.

Two days over

No baby.

I was determined not to let Bev win (or violate me again in a week’s time), so next on the list was clary sage oil. My extensive research (Google) had informed me that clary sage oil was the ‘shiz’ at getting babies out – just one or two drops of this highly potent liquid would have me sneezing out the baby out in no time.

After a trip to Holland and Barratt, where I also picked up some raspberry leaf tea, for good measure, I ran a hot bath, added the oil and prepared myself for spontaneous labour. Half an hour later, I was gagging from the fumes and greasier than a seagull in the Gulf of Mexico.

Desperate, I called Bev again, begging for another sweep, but like my child, she wasn’t budging. She did, however, advise that I pay a visit to the aromatherapy midwife for something called a ‘bomb’, which, once activated would get the baby out in 24 hours. This was a very exciting development, something that would have been worth knowing before I let her at me with her teeny, tiny doll’s hand.

Three days over

Still no baby.

I waddled to the labour ward with as much spring in my step as humanly possibly; deep down I was fairly hopeful there might be some residual pheromones in the air that might, just might, kick-start the process in my own body. I decided that sitting uncomfortably close to labouring women and inhaling deeply was definitely a good idea – I was in the minority on that one.

Back home and equipped with baby TNT, my husband, the eternal optimist, heard the words massage and oil and made the grave misconception that his luck might be in. Ten minutes later, and after assessing the angry, lubed up elephant seal that was hissing at him for getting oil on the Laura Ashley bedding, he decided he’d probably have more fun taking the dog out for a walk in the rain.

After wallowing in an oil slick for the best part of an hour, I’d done all that I could do, now it was up to nature…

Four days over

Still. No. Baby.

So I’d tried all the more ‘established’ tricks for getting the kid out; now it was time to call in the old wives for some much-needed reinforcement.

First on the agenda: pineapple. Now, I like pineapple, so the thought of munching my way through masses of this tropical taste sensation wasn’t exactly unpleasant – until it was pointed out, that it‘s actually the awful woody bit in the middle that’s meant to be labour inducing. Seriously, it was like eating a wicker basket.

That night, I went to bed with what felt like a hemp doormat stuck in my teeth, but I had hope in my heart.

Five days over

Still pregnant. F**k you old wives.

I only had two days left to go into labour before my husband had to go to London – shit was getting real and it was dawning on both of us that this baby was not going to make an appearance any time soon.

After calling the old wives everything under the sun, I decided to give them the benefit of doubt and give one more myth a go, this time embarking on a mission to find the hottest ready-made curry that Sainsbury’s had to offer, a Phaal.

Now, the theory behind eating spicy food to bring on labour is that it actually gives you the trots and it’s the cramping that comes with the explosive diarrhoea that gets things going. Lovely.

Ridiculously hot curry purchased, I decided to add a few extra dried chilli flakes to the mix, what was the worst that could happen? So with toilet paper and air freshener at the ready, I set off on my very own pregnant woman vs food mission…

I got two mouthfuls in before succumbing to hiccups so violent, I thought the baby was going to come out of my mouth.

Epic fail.

Six days over

Yep – you guessed it. No baby.

Now there was one thing that I hadn’t tried, that I had been hoping to avoid at ALL costs. Salt-N-Pepa may have very well wanted to talk about it, but I did not; I didn’t even want to think about it, but, I was desperate and people do bat shit crazy things when they’re desperate…

I won’t go into the details, but let’s just say there were less tears, from both parties, 41 weeks ago.

salt n pepe

Seven days over

A baby!!!*

*As if.

The morning started as the night ended, wracked with sobs and hysterical tantrums filled with “Get it out of me!” high pitch whines.

The game was up, the baby wasn’t arriving in its designated time slot and my other half had to go to the big smoke. I was devastated. Unless I went into labour naturally, I wouldn’t see him again until the day I was due to be induced, and that was just too much for my poor hormone riddled body to take.

He tried to reassure me that he was only a phone call away and that he’d be back in time if I went into labour, but I was in the mood for causing a scene and went full-on Michael Jackson ‘Earth Song’ on his ass – “what about usssssss??!!!” on the doorstep. God knows what the neighbours must have thought.

Husband out, parents in. It was going to be a long five days until me, bump and hubs were going to be reunited.

Eight days over

There’s nothing quite like your parents driving you to an appointment for a cervical sweep…

Leaving them to wait in the car park, I headed in for my date with Bev, well I say date, she wasn’t even going to buy me dinner first… However, I was finally a whopping 2cm dilated and Bev was convinced labour was imminent – that said, it was going to be forcibly removed from me in four days’ time, so kind of a safe bet from her.

With a smile on my face and finally, a hole in my cervix, I couldn’t wait to tell hubs the good news – he needed to get home, stat.

Nine days over

Ok, so maybe ‘stat’ was overly optimistic on my part.

Ten days over

CON.BLOODY.TRACTIONS…

It’s not my hormones!!! * Well maybe just a little

hormones

Generally speaking, I’m quite a sane and rational person. Pre-pregnancy, I used to pride myself on my complete lack of emotion and there were only two guaranteed things in life that would make me shed real tears, Titanic (there was enough room on that door for both of them) and Turner and Hooch (it was an ugly dog but it didn’t deserve to die).

However, since my mini me took up permanent residency in my womb, I started noticing that keeping my emotions in check was becoming an increasingly difficult task.

Little things were starting to get to me, like every time I cut into a pepper and discovered a baby pepper within, it felt like murder; then there was the time I was inconsolable after accidentally adding a tin of Pedigree dog food to a pan of carrots.

dogfood

Every-day dramas turned into hysterical hissy fits, leaving my other half to stare on, baffled, as I raged uncontrollably about the loss of my left slipper – WHERE COULD IT BE? WHERE????? The dog was always blamed, then hugged and cried upon when I inevitably found it about a foot away from where the right one had been.

Once pulled back from the edge of slipper gate or, even worse, no matching socks madness, I’d try and calm myself down by watching a spot of television. Big mistake. Evenings were filled with emotionally charged episodes of C4 documentaries such as One Born Every Minute, The Undateables and 24 Hours in A&E – complete and utter snot inducing sob-fests.

One of my biggest trigger points for tears was clothing. I’d managed to get away with normal clothes in a bigger size up until about the five-month mark – but now, the waistband on my ordinary leggings was making a break for my ankles – resulting in quite a few unfortunate ‘out and about’ incidents. Essentially, I was a cross between the baggy bottomed youths of today and Nora Batty.

I was getting way too comfortable in my ‘comfies’ and having read an incredibly factual and scientifically accurate article (in the Daily Mail) about how leggings actually make you fatter, I decided it was time to ditch the Lycra and delve into the hideous, baggy and downright dowdy world of maternity clothes.

Now my other half, whose inclination to spend money unnecessarily has already been well documented in previous blogs, was less than enthused at my revelation of ‘literally having no clothes’. His eyebrows rose significantly at this pretty bold statement, as I happened to be fully dressed at the time of making it and therefore, in his eyes, over exaggerating ever so slightly. I perhaps should have flounced into the kitchen in a state of near nudity to reinforce my case; at the very least it would have rendered him powerless, putting him in a confused and slightly aroused state that would have easily given me enough time to pilfer his wallet and head out to the Trafford Centre.

I could no longer do up any of my jeans, not even my emergency fat pair, saved from my carb-loaded and exercise-free university days. My husband’s suggestion to solving this problem? Why didn’t I try using a piece of string to bridge the Grand Canyon sized deficit between the two edges of my fly? It was a good question, why hadn’t I? Oh yes, we were not living in Oliver Twist times. That’s why.

In fear of being suffocated in his sleep by said jeans, or garrotted by the string, he handed over his wallet without the need for nudity, just the threat of casual violence.

So off I went, all enthused about the prospect of a glamourous new wardrobe, surely in today’s fashion-forward times, the high-street would be packed to the rafters with cool and tailored maternity wear…

Three hours later, the waterworks returned.

Pregnancy, apparently, is not en-vogue. Considering that on average there are approximately 100,000,000 women pregnant at any one time throughout the world, we are not considered enough of a population to be catered for on the high street.

After being told, time after time, that if a store did do a maternity range then it would only be available online, I was left with very few options.

The first of which was Topshop. It took me a little while to locate the collection of three rails at the back of the store, past the shoes and next to the pajamas. To be fair to them, what they did have was quite nice and not too dissimilar from their ‘normal’ sized clothes, but they were pricy. Now, I don’t mean designer pricy, but keep in mind that by the time you’re fat enough to actually fit into proper maternity clothes, you’ll only be wearing them for a few months. My internal debate with my ‘sensible side’ centered around whether I wanted to spend £40 on a pair of jeans that I knew I’d be ceremoniously burning as soon as I was thin again. I’d found three things I really liked but it was going to cost me upwards of £120 – at that rate, my new wardrobe was going to be seriously lacking in substance.

Disheartened, I headed off to my second and final option, H&M. Now H&M did have a bigger and more affordable range than Topshop, but it definitely wasn’t as stylish and that was the compromise. In the end I opted for a couple of pregnancy staples; a horizontally striped navy blue and white t-shirt, jeans, cords and a jumper dress. I had an epic fail walking past the maternity leggings and displayed the will power of an alcoholic at a free bar as I grabbed about four pairs (the comfiest things in existence to a pregnant lady – the waistband actually met my bra. Too good.).

My new haul gave me temporary satisfaction that, at the very least, I now had a few items of clothing that fitted and I didn’t have to worry about my husband luring me into some kind of ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ situation, in a bid to stop me from spending money.

However, my short-lived happiness was just that, short.

Christmas was fast approaching and there were three things penciled into my Beagle kitchen calendar that filled me with full-on fashion faux pas panic:

  • Charity fundraising ball – filled with premier league footballers and beautiful WAGs, or slutty, slightly less beautiful women trying to sleep with said footballers for a fee (courtesy of The Sun) – but all much thinner than me
  • Work Christmas party – a glam night out in Manchester, filled with beautiful PR girls. Enough said
  • A wedding – filled with lovely thin, happy people in all of their finery. At least there would be cake

There was one thing I knew for sure, I definitely did not have anything to wear, unless I could be magically transported to the 80’s or early 2000’s, when leggings and high heels were considered high fashion.

Google led me to the lovely, yet pricy, website for Tiffany Rose maternity dresses – all very chic, lacy and Holly Willoughby-esq, but they were so expensive. I considered eBay as an option, but they weren’t much cheaper and I had the added worry that someone might have given birth in one, or at least splashed amniotic fluid on the hem.

I decided to broach the situation with hubs over dinner one night. It went a little bit like this:

Me: “So I’m going to need to get a dress for the ball and my Christmas party, plus, it’s Ant & Jules’ wedding at the end of the month.”

Husband: “Don’t you have a dress that you can recycle?” (Said with hopeful enthusiasm)

Me: “I’m nearly eight months pregnant, I’m obviously not going to fit into my normal dresses and I don’t have any nice maternity dresses, just a jumper dress that I wear for work.” (Has not touched dinner and is staring at husband like he is from a different planet)

Husband: “Can’t you just make do and wear that? What’s the point in spending all that money on a dress that you aren’t going to wear again?” (Is watching television and hoovering up spaghetti bolognese at a rate of knots)

Me: “Just to confirm, you want me to wear a bobbled H&M jumper dress to a footballer’s ball and my Christmas party (Voice is cracking and the bottom lip is wobbling, still not touched dinner)

Husband: “Don’t you want to buy loads of nice clothes once you’ve had the baby? Makes sense doesn’t it?” (Is still watching television and destroying spaghetti bolognese)

Me: (No words – just uncontrollable sobs)

Husband: “Oh babe, don’t cry. Don’t you think that this is just your hormones?” (Finally stops eating and places a patronising hand on my thigh)

Schoolboy error.

Me: IT’S NOT MY HORMONES!!! YOU JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND!!!! (Sobs for half an hour and is too upset to eat the now cold spaghetti mascara bolognese)

Husband: “Debit or Credit Card?” (Distraught, guilt-ridden face)

Me: Both (Wipes snot from face and gets a magnum out of the freezer to replace ruined dinner and calories burnt from excessive wailing)

So I waddled back to Topshop to purchase a rather lovely and very stretchy number for my Christmas party. It wasn’t mumsy in the slightest, on the contrary, it was almost sexy, had it have not been for Mount Everest protruding from within.

My next win came in the form of a normal dress for normal sized folk from Dorothy Perkins. It was very similar to all of the very expensive Tiffany Rose dresses I’d seen online, but at a fraction of the price, so technically a bargain. I apprehensively approached the dressing room, aware of the girl on the door who blatantly thought I was going to try and fashion some kind of lace hat out it.

But, the maternity gods were looking kindly on me that day, and with a bit of wiggling, jiggling and dislocating of a shoulder – I was in! How do like ‘em apples skinny shop worker!

It was, however, a short lived smug-face victory as minutes later I discovered I was trapped within a lace straight jacket and that If I was going to leave the changing rooms without an inside out dress around my bust and head, I would need skinny shop worker’s help.

I appreciate the irony of when she came to my assistance, it would have looked at though I was, in fact, wearing some sort of avant-garde dress hat.

So the Christmas party came and went, and for what’s it was worth, I should have just worn a bin bag as I ended up feeling about as attractive as SuBo. The dress was not your typical pregnant lady outfit and I made a big mistake by deciding to stand on the end of the group photo; it looked as though Shamu had got glammed up and gone out photo bombing for the day.

preggers

The footballer’s ball loomed and to be honest I wasn’t overly enthusiastic at the prospect of going – who would? It would be torturous. All I wanted to do was sit at home in my mega leggings and eat my body weight in Mars ice cream bars.

My wish did not come true and, wearing the normal sized lace dress, I was dragged along for an evening filled of sympathetic head tilts, ‘when are you due’ polite chit-chats and copious amounts of orange juice.

The WAGs, wow the WAGs – good effort on their parts, all of Liverpool and Manchester’s fake tan resources must have been seriously depleted after that evening. A personal low was meeting a Spanish goddess who was also pregnant, about as far along as me, but she looked like she’d swallowed a Chelsea bun, whereas I looked like rugby player, with lace skin, who’d swallowed a space hopper. Not good for the self-esteem. We left shortly after to purchase carbs and tissues.

Kim Kardashian was once asked whether she had any fashion advice for pregnant women, her response was this:

“I recommend hiding for a good year and having no pregnancy style. That’s what I recommend. If you can do it, hide. Never leave the house.”

“That’s really my recommendation. Wear a huge blanket.”

Maybe Kim is right, maybe it is best to stay at home in Lycra, committing carbocide and riding out the fashion wave until you can fit into clothes that don’t have pretend zips and buttons on them.

So, if in doubt of what to wear while pregnant, just stick to the all-important mantra of: What Would Kim Do? And you’ll never go wrong…

Kim

Oh and men, remember if you’re overly fond of your scrotal sack, you may want to avoid using the following sentence:

“Don’t you think it’s just your hormones?”

New age Child birthing Terror (NCT)

birthing ball

 

So how do you prepare for motherhood? There are some women, mostly clad in hessian, who claim that it’s instinct and you’ll know exactly what to do with your baby as soon as you clap eyes on him or her. There are other women, mostly clad in Jimmy Choo, who may need a little more direction than just push, pray and pethidine.

I felt completely unprepared for what I was about to be thrown into, a fact that became very apparent after the girls in my office decided to throw me a surprise baby shower at about 24-weeks. Holding a pair of tiny scratch mitts in one hand and a bumper pack of nappies in the other, I was left fighting back the tears and wondering why on earth my incontinent baby would need special gloves to prevent self-harm? I had zero idea what I was doing and felt that my unborn offspring deserved better of me, a scouse mum who thought meconium was a type of skin cancer.

So what were my options? As far as I was aware, there were just two: the free NHS sessions or the very pricey National Childbirth Trust’s version.

My husband, a direct descendent of Ebenezer Scrooge, recoiled in horror at the price of the NCT’s intensive three-day course, opting immediately for the freebies in our local ‘Children’s Centre’ – a place so hellish that ironically, once you’d stepped inside, you were instantly put off having any children of your own.

The centre was also where I had to attend my midwife appointments and it wasn’t exactly in what I’d call a ‘desirable’ location. At the time we were living in quite a rural village on the outskirts of Manchester, which just so happened to border with South East Chavsville. One visit, in particular, I had an enlightening conversation about breastfeeding with a delightful young woman in the waiting room, who appeared to be missing most of her teeth and had apparently decided to forgo showering that month. Having politely nodded my head and muttered “you don’t say?” a few times, I decided that she probably wasn’t going to make it onto my BFF baby short-list on the basis she thought breastfeeding was disgusting and shameful.

As well as wanting to learn how not to break the baby – my husband and I wanted to meet like-minded people for potential pre and post birth socialising, – so after hearing of my waiting room horror story, he decided that Toothless Tess probably wasn’t going to be his cup of tea either, and with that, hell froze over as he blew the cobwebs off his wallet and forked out for NCT.

Now, my lovely yet sometimes incredibly tight husband works in professional football. Some people, mostly men, find this quite an exciting career choice, I, on the other hand, find it quite annoying (apart from the fact it pays the mortgage) as it means that every weekend, bar eight in the months of May and June, are complete write-offs for any kind of social activity that doesn’t involve 11 men kicking a ball and falling over a lot. So with my husband as likely to commit to a weekend of deep breathing and contraction chitchat as Katie Price to a long-term relationship, I reluctantly accepted that I was more than likely going to be flying solo to antenatal classes.

I have to admit, I was a little nervous / sceptical of NCT – I’d heard mixed opinions about the charity, with some friends now absolute converts, while others were firmly in the ‘never again’ camp after being berated by their hippy-dippy class leader for wanting the birth of their first child to take place in a hospital (I mean, come on – we can’t all have biblical happy ending in a stable). As well as being worried that I’d be chastised for wanting a pre-labour spray tan and bikini wax, I was also scared about what I might see, would it be like looking at the sun for too long? Would a birthing video or demonstration of a forceps delivery cause my retinas to burn out and my vagina to impose an emergency lock-down, with nothing allowed in or out for the foreseeable future?

After having a brief word with myself on the morning of the course, I put my preconceptions firmly to one side (until lunchtime at the very least) and with promises of making it along to the afternoon sessions, I waved goodbye to my absconder of a husband and set off to be educated. I’d had a brief read over a chapter or two of ‘What to Expect when you’re Expecting’ in preparation of any on-the-spot questions and at least felt one-step ahead of any potential homework, being already pregnant and all.

My first epic fail was turning up minus my Pilates ball, pillows or pile cushion. On arrival I sat in the car watching all the doting men escort their heavily pregnant partners, along with a labour ward’s worth of birthing paraphernalia into the venue. As per usual, I was totally unprepared and all I had was my own ass fat to keep me comfortable throughout the day, which to be fair, was fairly substantial. Looking a little like Shamu, I managed to flop my giant pregnant self out of the car and waddled towards the working men’s club for a day of what I was sure was going to be the world’s best advocacy for safe sex, seven months too late.

In the room 14 chairs had been set out in a semi-circle, six of which were occupied by women in varying stages of pregnancy and in a further six sat a group of terrified and awkward looking men wishing that, at that precise moment in time, they could be anywhere else in the world at 9am on a Saturday.

Feeling a little like the odd one out, I wobbled in and planted myself on one of the remaining chairs, smiling at the curious faces in the room and waving, rather over enthusiastically, with my engagement and wedding ring-clad hand.

Our group leader introduced herself as Jane, a lovely lady who did not look at all like the beardy weirdy, new-age hippy I was expecting, – not a sock and sandal in sight, although it was winter, so maybe a little too cold for such footwear?

Standard cringe-inducing ice-breakers completed and white name labels affixed, all-be-it wonky and slightly peeling off on one side, we cracked on with the nitty-gritty of the day. Ground rules were established and lists were drawn up to ensure we all got the most out of the course – essentially it was a bit like a cheesy team building day at work, minus the joy of knowing that you’d all be getting drunk afterwards, but at least you wouldn’t have to worry about fending off the sexual advances of Dave from IT.

First on the agenda – knowing you are in labour. An interesting fact about labour is that it’s unlikely to present itself in the way Hollywood portrays it, i.e. a comical yet romantic situation where suddenly your waters break all over the floor of a posh hotel or restaurant. Farcical hilarity ensues and with one or two none-sweaty pushes later you have a beautiful gloop-free baby and no one has had an accidental bowel movement. Apparently this is not the case and we have been grossly misinformed as a nation.

Labour, is going to hurt like hell, that is what we were told, in so many words. It will also be long, well definitely longer than in the movies, because let’s face it – who wants to watch 20 hours of screaming, cursing and explosive bodily fluids from every possible orifice? Hardly the foundations for an award-winning blockbuster, although not too dissimilar from Alien…

So after discussing what would happen in the early stages of labour (essentially lots of pain, being told to man-up over the phone by a midwife, going to hospital only to be sent home again by said midwife and then warned not to come back until your baby is practically waving hello to you from in-between your legs) we got on to the good stuff and what everyone had been waiting for…pain relief.

Before cutting to the chase, we were encouraged to have a little group brain-storm on what we felt might be nice, natural alternatives to hard-core sedatives. People half-heartedly banded around ideas such as “how about a nice massage from your partner?” Seriously? I was pretty sure by that point in the birthing process I’d more than likely be verbally, if not physically, abusing my husband for his part in my suffering, therefore his wandering hands could take a hike.

Unless planning on a water birth, or the more obscure hypno-birthing route, it seemed as though my pain relief options were limited to the following:

  • Paracetamol
  • Warm bath
  • Tens machine (but get out of warm bath first…)
  • More paracetamol
  • Gas and air (hopefully hospitalised by this point)
  • Pethidine / Morphine (woo-hoo!)
  • Epidural (although caveated with fear of catheter insertion)

To be honest, I was dubious of 1-4 as it sounded like a weak suggestion for alleviating cold symptoms, bar the tens machine. Gas and air I was also sceptical of, I know it’s supposed to be ‘laughing gas’, but really, how can any concoction of drugs, never mind one mainly comprised of air, make a scalpel to the perineum amusing?

We had a short break for lunch and then cracked on with breathing exercises and positions for ‘coping’ with labour. Now, unfortunately for my husband, he chose this precise moment to bound into a darkened room filled with seven mooing women in a variety of odd Karma Sutra-esq positions, all being told by Jane to imagine that their vaginas were opening up like beautiful flowers. Not one for role-play, or the most uninviting orgy in the world, the poor lad looked like he was about to turn on his heels and run for the hills. To be fair, I didn’t blame him. A beautiful flower? Who was she trying to kid? It was more likely to resemble a car wreck, post jaws of life, than a bunch of geraniums.

 

Active birthing

(Not our group, but an accurate portrayal)

A couple of harshly directed eyebrow movements finally convinced him to step foot over the threshold and with a few angry whispers and a touch of emotional blackmail, I managed to get him back on side. Unfortunately for me, next up was a group exercise where we had to squeeze a peg continually for one minute to replicate the duration and intensity of a contraction, all while deep breathing and bouncing on giant ball.

Lost him.

Much eye-rolling and huffing ensued from my sceptical and financially worse-off husband, the only time he looked enthused throughout the whole day was when Jane sent him off to the bar with the other men for a pint while she talked to us women folk about something “private”.

Private had me worried. We’d been talking vaginas for five hours straight at that point – what else was left to be sacred?

Then I was educated with two simple yet traumatising words – perennial massage. I won’t go into the ins and out, of which there are plenty, but put it like this – it’s not quite what my husband had in mind when I invited him into the darkened bedroom with a bottle of olive oil. There were tears from both parties and not a word has been spoken about it since. Google it (but not on a work computer).

 

Shock

Day one completed and I had a notebook brimming with important information, including:

  1. Apparently men need a lunch box packing in advance of leaving for hospital (obviously top of the priority list…)
  2. Your waters will probably need breaking with something that resembles a knitting needle – pleasant
  3. Keep moving – give birth in a corridor if needs be, do anything to stop your midwife from shouting at you
  4. Don’t give birth on your back, you compress your pelvis (naked on all fours is much more dignified)
  5. Remember to breathe (in lots and lots of gas and air and anything else going)
  6. Remember to keep peeing, if you don’t the catheter will come for you
  7. Take any drug offered to you – no one likes a hero
  8. Don’t pack a white dressing gown or slippers (there are some things in life that Vanish will never get out)
  9. If you think your lady parts resemble a beautiful flower now, they won’t after childbirth
  10. Olive oil should only ever be used for cooking

Day two rolled around and off I set again, on my own, to the next terrifying installment of parenting 101.

The morning was spent dwelling on the petrifying prospect of C-sections, forceps and a weird suction device called a ventouse, which essentially involves a doctor hovering your baby out of you.

After a peculiar 15 minutes of guessing which lemonade bottle contained pretend amniotic fluid, and which one held urine – we moved on to the hotly anticipated ‘how not to break the baby’ section.

With my husband arriving in the nick of time, we grabbed our odd looking Chucky doll and set to trying to remove its clothing without causing dismemberment – not as easy as it sounds.

Clothes off (dolls, not ours), we attacked the nappy and much to our delight, our plastic offspring had kindly decided to have a cheeky curry for dinner the night previous, presumably after being out on the tiles, resulting in, essentially, a chicken korma for us to clean up. I sincerely hoped that this was not an entirely accurate depiction of baby crap.

Baby cleaned, re-dressed (with only minor shoulder and hip dislocations) it was time to decipher the ancient language of hysterical wailing. Trying to determine the hunger scream from the sleep scream was near impossible, how on earth were you supposed to tell the difference? Deciding that I probably wasn’t going to be winning any awards for my baby whispering skills, I made a mental note to just call my mother if needs be.

Breastfeeding was also another hot topic, and something that was catered for in a separate session on the Monday evening.

Everyone was dying to ask one particular question and we got right to the end before I had to stick my hand up and take one for the team…

“Can you drink alcohol while breastfeeding?’

This was met by a very frowny face indeed and it was then that I realised why no one else had asked previously. Official answer from NCT was a big fat no, however ‘Bad Mothers R’ Us’ retreated to the safety of the corridor at break time to have a “what did your midwife say about it?” chit-chat over a bourbon biscuit and weak orange squash. The general consensus seemed to be that it would be ok at the beginning of a feed, on the basis that the wine surely wouldn’t have had a chance to get into the milk supply in such a short amount of time. It sounded of scientific enough for me – baby on boob, glass in hand. Perfect.

I have to say, my only criticism of NCT, bar the odd role-play scenario and actual knitted placentas, was the breastfeeding session. Essentially it was a video of a woman breastfeeding, and to be quite frank, we could have all seen that down at our local Costa Coffee on a weekday morning. There was also a weird 20 minutes spent trying to suck the juice out of an orange with a straw, which was all just a bit sticky and confusing.

There was also another list making session, this time on ‘nice things’ that men could do to help us women while we were breastfeeding – let’s face it, the only really helpful thing they could do would be to start miraculously lactating from their moobs at around 2am, 4am and 6am.

So, my verdict – would I recommend NCT to other women looking for reassurance ahead of childbirth? Yes, I think I probably would. I achieved most of what I set out to by attending – I made friends, reassured myself about the impending doom of childbirth and learnt lots of scary words to traumatise my non-pregnant friends with.

knitted placenta

(Stocking filler anyone? Available from Etsy…)

If you want to make yourself feel better about childbirth or just punish your husband for a past sin, check out their website and book yourself in!

http://www.nct.org.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

All the gear, no idea

pram

Pre-pregnancy I had never been overly maternal and to be fair, during pregnancy I wasn’t exactly knitting booties and counting down the days until our child was reenacting the birth of Christ, badly, in the school nativity. My husband, on the other hand, had always been super keen on kids and while I had my head down a toilet catching up with pack of partially digested ginger nuts, he was running round high-fiving work colleagues and using the term ‘super sperm’, a lot. Something else I also wasn’t too keen on was his use of the sentence “We’re pregnant!” Er, no. We are not pregnant, I am pregnant and will be the only one in the room recreating a scene from Alien, while you tuck into a sandwich and sneak a go on my gas and air.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want children, I did, my other half didn’t bribe me into pregnancy with promises of puppies (like the time he convinced me to move to Norwich) or with pairs of Louboutins (although I may have considered it earlier if this had been the case). I wanted a baby, I just wasn’t sure the baby would want me once it realised I was it’s mum, the woman who once watched an England vs. Switzerland game and asked why so many first aiders were in the crowd.

We decided to wait until after the 20-week scan before really cracking on with the buying of baby paraphernalia, I didn’t want to jinx anything by getting carried away too soon. We’d chosen not to find out the sex of the baby, although that didn’t stop us both from trying to spot telltale signs  – at one point my husband was utterly convinced it was a boy and the apple clearly didn’t fall too far from the tree – until it was pointed out that what he was looking at was the umbilical cord.

The 20-week scan, also known as the slightly less upbeat ‘fetal abnormality scan’, can be completely overshadowed by the all important ‘is it a pink one or blue one?’ question. Also, most people see it just as an opportunity to get another snap of their baby (to plaster all over Facebook – of course), as supposed to it being a serious medical screening of their unborn child. You really don’t get much of a choice when it comes to your designated ‘cheese’ moment – which in our case resulted in a weird two-blob mass with a side profile that resembled Jafar from Aladdin. We were greeted with a stony look when we asked whether it would possible to take another one…

So with the baby’s identity a mystery (Disney villain aside) – we sat down to try and plan what on earth we would need for our child once it had head-butted it’s way out of me.

What was it going to sleep in? How would we transport it? And more importantly, how would we stop the dog from licking it?

A trip to Mothercare with my sister, older may I add, did nothing to quash the tidal wave of panic that was cascading towards me, especially as she kept picking up breast pumps and making vomit faces.

With so many things to buy – we decided to just get what would be needed first – made sense, right? So that was that, the search for a pram and car seat began.

Our first mistake? Thinking a pram and car seat would do it, such amateurs. We needed no such thing. We needed a ‘travel system’. Of course we did.

Before we knew it we were knee-deep in the complicated and completely overwhelming world of baby transportation. It wasn’t a case of just having something to push the thing around in; there were carrycots, foot muffs, sleeping bags, parasols, suspension, ISOFIX and collapsible ease to consider. Trust me when I say that being able to collapse the pram is a major selling point – some require a degree in mechanical engineering in order for you to get them into the boot. And the price of the things? Ouch. Seriously – some of them rivaled the cost of my car  – bad times when your kid has better wheels than you do.

The choice in Mothercare was endless, it was like a car showroom with rows and rows of shiny vehicles for little people to squish biscuits into and throw toys out of.  Members of staff were very helpful and super quick at honing in on dazed and confused new parents-to-be, aimlessly stumbling around like they’d awoken from a coma 10 minutes earlier. I just found it all a bit too much and after half heartedly taking a few round the store on a test drive, we ended up pottering into a smaller independent shop in Warrington called The Baby Store (original, I know).  It was here that we found the perfect mode of transport for parading our sprog around in, a Joolz Earth Edition, and due to it matching a lot of my clothes and handbags (obviously), we made the decision to re-mortgage the house and go for it, foot muff and all – cray cray.

Now, something happens to you as a person when you buy your first pram, sorry, ‘travel system’ – you will get what is known as ‘system snobbery’, it’s unavoidable so just go with it. You’ll start judging other people’s prams while out and about, mentally mocking them for their inferior choice, or jealously glancing at their better model – did they get the alloys and coffee holder included in the price? This pomposity will also extend to your partner, who will swap car talk in the pub for buggy banter, swooning over leather detailing, handling and off-roading abilities. He may die a little inside at this, but console him with the fact that he still has a few more months before he starts enthusiastically talking about nappy contents, poo pantones and what breast milk tastes like.

So with a major item ticked off the all-important ‘urgent’ list it was on to cots, cribs, Moses baskets, bed nests, GroBags and room thermometers.

I often wondered how we, as a species, survived before the invention of baby sleeping bags and little lights that tell you how warm a room is. Regardless of this breakthrough of rational thinking, the baby magazines told me I needed it all, so I was having it all – a marketer’s dream.

It was only after transferring the contents of our bank balance directly into the till draws of Mamas and Papas and Mothercare, that we reflected on our purchases – did we really need everything we’d bought and especially before the birth of our child? Baby hair brushes and combs, for example, what if it was as bald as Patrick Stewart? Near on thirty white vests, in varying sleeve lengths – we had a washing machine and only one baby on the way; a luxury pocket sprung mattress for a cot bed it wasn’t even going to sleep in until it was six months old – hell it was better than my mattress, I was happy to do a trade. It seemed as though we may had a gotten a little carried away, but it’s so easy to do when you’re expecting – you think you need expensive things and you need them right away or you’re the worst parents in the world, you’re not – these parents are:

bad-parents-5

bad parenting

So if you’re in the process of planning what you might need for your own little cherub, here are some good links to lists that may help you see the wood from the slightly less hormonal trees:

http://www.emmasdiary.co.uk/pregnancy/pregnancy-products/shopping-for-a-newborn.aspx

http://www.babycenter.com/102_baby-registry_10378735.bc

http://www.mumsnet.com/pdf/newborn_essentials_checklist.pdf

http://www.mamasandpapas.com/stores/planning_essentials.php

Happy shopping!

The rise of the ‘Glammy’

I realised quite early on in my pregnancy that I wasn’t going to fit into the traditional ‘yummy mummy’ category that I was instantly banded into because I didn’t resemble a swamp donkey (urban dictionary it).

Living in Cheshire, I had already witnessed scores of ‘A-typical’ ‘yummy mummies’ sporting Barbour jackets and loafers in various Starbucks outlets, all trying to control their broods of Rupert’s and Bea’s with baby lattes and organic rice cakes. I often wondered what these women had been like pre-motherhood, had they always been this way, or at some point had they been six-inch heel wearing hotties with a skill for backcombing and false nail application? If so, what was it about becoming a mother that makes seemingly normal women swap their designer handbags for the likes of these?

bag

Unacceptable.

I loved my make-up, lashes and fake-tan and if I wasn’t mistaken for another race the morning after a ‘double-dip’ Sienna X then I was inconsolable. I found the prospect of giving up this side of me as upsetting as the actual act of forcefully ejecting another human being out of my private parts (I’ve never been good with confrontation).

You may be reading this and thinking that I’m incredibly vain, I’m not, I’m just Scouse.

All I wanted was to look like me, but with a bump and then ultimately, a child and so felt determined to make it my mission to maintain a shred of my former self throughout the whole pregnancy / birthing process. After much thought on the matter, I’d made my peace with not becoming a ‘yummy mummy’, but what else could I be? A ‘MILF’? Sure, if given a choice between the two I’d probably go ‘MILF’ but I really didn’t feel like it was an appropriate label to give myself, especially after I Google imaged the term (not recommended – especially during working hours, or on a work computer).

With the disturbing image of a ‘MILF’ burnt into my retinas, I set about creating my own stereotype to adhere to. Possibilities such as a ‘SCUMMY’ (Scouse Mummy) and ‘GLUMMY’ (Glam Mummy) were struck off the list, for obvious reasons, and so the ‘GLAMMY’ was born!

My first step of the ‘Glammy’ mission was to try and regain some control of my ever-expanding bust. Way before that bump starts interfering too much with your clothes, and you’re in that awful ‘is she pregnant or is she fat stage?’, your boobs will start wreaking havoc and quite quickly you’ll left be left reminiscing about the good old days of being able to run up stairs without having to pin your breasts to your chest.

They will grow at an alarming rate and all too soon your once favourite bras will look more like burlesque nipple covers. Your boyfriend / husband will be delighted, of course, until you explain you’ll need a whole array of bras to house his new best friends. He’ll be less thrilled when he realises how much it’ll cost to purchase said bras and you’ll then become incensed with rage when he says “can’t you just make do?” Hurl something at his head and blame your hormones.

Now, bra purchasing while pregnant, as I discovered, is not fun. It does as much for your self-esteem as going bikini shopping with Abby Clancy (not that I’ve actually had the pleasure, but I imagine it’s awful).

My first port of call was M&S. Big mistake. An hour later my husband found me hysterically sobbing in the foodhall with a bag of Percy Pigs in one hand and box of Walnut Whips in the other.

I’d decided to go and get measured first, and on entering the lingerie fitting rooms I was greeted by a perfectly nice lady, of the older persuasion, who ushered me into a cubicle, tape measure in hand. It was all going swimmingly until I disrobed and she discovered, to her horror, that I was still wearing a bra with an underwire. I then spent the next five-minutes being berated for my choice in undergarments and it did cross my mind that a Mafia informant would have got off more lightly for wearing a wire.

She scuttled off, tutting, to go and find a more suitable bolster holster, leaving me to panic about some dreadful sounding boob rot and the possible damage I’d done to my newborn’s food supply. On re-entering the room, she was brandishing what I can only describe as baggy granny sacks – THE most horrendous display of underwear I’d ever had the displeasure of seeing. Obviously not reading the look of pure horror on my face, or detecting the mounting tears in my eyes, the sales assistant continued in her quest of encouraging my husband to have an affair by bundling me into these so-called bras, which turned me from 28 to 78 in one minute flat. Now, I did take a picture but actually refuse to publish it on the World Wide Web, so this will have to do:

bras

Horrendous. And, to make it worse, she hadn’t actually got me the size that I currently was, she’d gone a couple of sizes up so that I could ‘grow’ into it. The result? Cavernous holes where my breast should have been. Fighting back the tears, I plucked up the courage to stand my ground, saying, “I can’t possibly wear these, do you have anything else?” The response was something that has stayed with me to present day and continues to get my back right up: “You can’t wear another type of bra, you’re just going to have to sacrifice the way you look for the next five-months.”

Speechless and in fear of looking like the world’s worst mother, I pretended I was going to make the purchase and ran out of the fitting rooms, ditching the offending articles as soon as I was out of sight.

It took my husband a good 45-minutes to talk me out of the hysteria, in that time there was a lot of wailing and “You just don’t understand!” followed by an even more irate “It’s not just my hormones!”. Eventually a McDonald’s strawberry milkshake brought me back from the brink, but I was not a happy camper.

Why should I have saggy, unsupported boobs just because I was pregnant? I was working as a senior account manager at a PR agency at the time and there was absolutely no blooming way that I was going to head up meetings with my breasts flapping about like a spaniel’s ears on a windy day.

I called my mother to vent about my experience, as you do, and horrified, she recommended that I try Bravissimo instead. Not feeling overly optimistic, I headed to the Liverpool branch in my bid to not look like White Dee from Benefits Street.

Instantly I knew I was in the right place, the staff were so helpful and there was even a lovely information leaflet in the changing rooms for expectant mothers, and guess what? They positively embraced the underwire! Just as long as the bra fits well, there’s nothing stopping you from going to town on the scaffolding! For anyone interested, have a look at this fab link and vid:

http://www.bravissimo.com/perfectfit/maternity/fit-video/#

I can safely say that Bravissimo saved my breast related sanity during pregnancy and helped me on the first rung of my ‘Glammy’ ladder. The bras are a little pricier than other high street alternatives, but for confidence and self-esteem purposes, totally worth it. For any ladies out there looking for alternatives Mothercare actually has quite a nice range of t-shirt style maternity bras, not an underwire to be seen though: http://www.mothercare.com/maternity-bras/mat_matbras,default,sc.html

And I’d definitely steer well clear of M&S, unless you fancy being guilt tripped into buying ugly undies!

 

 

The Three ‘P’s’ of Pregnancy: Panic, Peeing and Projectile Vomiting

morning sickness

Something I learnt very early into pregnancy is that ‘people’, those who have already treaded the child birthing boards before you, literally cannot wait to terrify the living daylights out of you with tales of perineal peril and insomniac infants.

Once all the congratulatory squeals and hugs have fallen by the wayside and these ‘people’ have stopped saying “well done” to your other half (weird), it will begin and smug family and friends will waste no time in saying “Ooooh life will never be the same again” in an ominous yet gleeful tone.

On hearing your friends’ nightmare birthing stories, which they‘ll be chomping at the bit to share, you may be left shaken and thinking an episiwhatomy? This is when the first ‘P’ of pregnancy comes into play: panic.

Listen carefully – do not panic – it will not help and will only feed the scaremonger in their quest to instil foetal fear into you. What’s done is done and thinking about it too hard will only leave you with the sweat inducing panic of knowing  ‘what goes up…must come down’, albeit 40 weeks later and a heck of a lot bigger.

Now, weeks, this is a word that you’ll come to live by during pregnancy and even sometime after your bundle of joy enters the world, until your poor, addled baby brain can no longer operate in double figures.

Weeks lead to milestones, 10-weeks for your midwife booking in appointment and then 12-weeks for the highly anticipated dating scan – your first opportunity to see the little person intent on ruining your pelvic floor for the foreseeable future.

By the time my 12-week scan came around, I was very much still in the ‘I’m not really pregnant’ mentality. With no symptoms at all, I’d been spending most of my time googling ‘phantom pregnancies’ and ‘false positive pregnancy results’, even though I was Clear Blue’s best customer, next to Katie Price.

Now, the scan was when I really felt the full impact of the second ‘P’ of pregnancy, and ‘p’ was definitely the operative letter. As lovely as it was to see that little black and white blob for the first time, I couldn’t help but feel the whole experience was marred somewhat by my excruciating need to pee.

In order to see our amalgamation of cells clearly, the all-knowing folk at the NHS advise drinking two pints of water an hour before your appointment. Two pints is quite a lot at the best of times, but for a pregnant lady to consume that much liquid an hour before someone starts poking around at the junk in her trunk is just ridiculous.

So, as my normally stoic husband dropped a single tear at seeing what our gorgeous gametes had been up to, I, on the other hand, was writhing around on the bed squeezing every muscle I had to prevent dropping floodwaters of biblical proportions all over the floor.

About two weeks after seeing very clearly that I was officially up the duff, a little misleading symptom called ‘morning’ sickness kicked in, the third ‘P’ of pregnancy, projecting vomiting. Now, I feel there should be some kind of Ofcom ruling on the use of the word ‘morning’ before sickness, as this sort of vomit knows no bounds and basically just comes out whenever it damn well feels like it.

Weeks and weeks of my pregnancy were spent with my head in toilets, bushes, gutters, buckets and car foot wells. But more annoyingly than vomiting down myself whilst doing 70 odd mph down the M62 were those, who had never experienced such woe, offering their advice on things I could do to help myself. At around 26-weeks, I felt the distinct need to punch anyone who dare utter the words “Have you tried eating a gingernut?”. Quick! Someone call the British Medical Journal and tell the NHS to start stockpiling. Whatever next? Custard Creams for cancer?

However, I was more perturbed by my husband, who at 14-weeks was incredibly sympathetic to my cause and when my sickness struck when it was meant to, in the morning, he was there rubbing my back and offering me a gingernut. By 16-weeks he was snoring like a rhinoceros and completely ignoring my dry heaving and pleas for help. Ladies, note to self, leaving the door to the en-suite open just won’t cut it, you need to take a bucket into bed with you and retch by your partner’s head if you stand any chance of extended empathy.

So to re-cap, pregnancy is a scary thing – you will get fat, you may vomit, you’ll also pee a lot, sometimes while you’re vomiting (start your pelvic floor exercises now). The important thing to remember is that you will lose the weight, you’ll stop throwing up, eventually, and the need to pee every five minutes will pass, although your ability to hold it in will have completely diminished.

Above all else, you’ll survive and when it’s all over, you will, without a shadow of a doubt, hone in the nearest expectant mother you can find, smugly smile and say “Oooooh, life will never be the same again” and better still, you’ll enjoy it.