For a long time I thought that ‘meal-prepping’ was reserved for enthusiastic gym-goers who needed to monitor their calorie and protein intake by way of steamed greens and creepy, pale chicken and sad brown rice. HOW WRONG I WAS. Since having Hunter, I have gained […]
This week has felt extremely long. The weather hasn’t been too hot and yet it is affecting me a lot now (even still, please refrain from uttering, “Ooooh pregnant through summer” to me. I don’t appreciate it and am fully aware that I am pregnant and it is about to be summer). On the plus side though, the warmer weather means that I can wear dresses and actually be comfortable. I much rather being that little bit too warm and in a dress than it being cooler outside but having to wear jeans all day. No thank you.
It seems that every day I grow that little bit more outwards. I cannot see my toes anymore and I was told by my midwife that from now on, if I am lying down, I need to roll to get up and not try and sit up as I risk pulling my abdominal muscles. I feel like a whale. I am also about to grow out of everything I own and to be honest, I am tempted to just be naked whenever possible, it’s the only time I am really comfortable. A good night’s sleep is a thing of the past and I am actually okay with that. Like I have mentioned before, when I wake up in the middle of the night and go to the bathroom (for the sixth time) and bub wakes up too, I don’t mind that he has a bit of a play and a stretch. Though it impedes me from getting back to sleep, it’s like he and I are spending uninterrupted time together and there is something really amazing about that. I am sleeping deeply when I am asleep (thank god), but my trips to the bathroom seem to have tripled this week. I am constantly getting up from my desk, or getting up from the lounge, or getting up from bed because once again, I need to pee. I have tried to drink more of my water during the day so that during the night, I don’t need to go as much but I feel like even if I drank absolutely nothing at all (I would never), I would still have to get up fifteen times to empty my bladder. #science
Another thing that I have noticed is that whenever I am sitting down I am completely restless. I still can’t stop jiggling my legs, I need to stand up often to stretch my back and I readjust my sitting position every few minutes. And even though I am that restless, I am also utterly depleted of all energy. It’s a weird little situation. What I have come to realise throughout this pregnancy is that although there are definite ‘checkpoints’ – first trimester, second trimester, third trimester – there are also far more subtle ones that will be different and individual to each woman. This week I found myself thinking, “Ohhhh, okay. So I am going to be this tired, this is happening with bub and will only be capable of doing this after work,” and so then I adjust my daily routine, remind myself of what I can and can’t do physically and familiarise myself with whatever is happening with my body. For example, due to how big bub is now, I am eating a lot less and, on top of that, I am craving salad more than anything which doesn’t do much for my energy levels and so it has been getting to about 7.30pm and I am wasted. My body is feeling tired in a different way than it was last week – last week I was aching a lot and my muscles felt really tight whereas this week it is more of a general exhaustion. I got home yesterday and showered, lay down on the lounge to read and almost immediately fell asleep. It was 5.30pm.
Tonight I have my youngest brother’s end of year performance. He goes to a performing arts school and is on a scholarship for drumming – the kid is legit. I have never missed one of his concerts and never will, but for the first time, the idea of having something on after work was really daunting. I called mum and asked what time it started and what the plan was and when she heard the slight anxiety in my voice, she reassured me that it was completely normal to feel that at this stage of the pregnancy. The idea of having plans at night is just not something I am keen on, and I imagine that that will only become more and more of a thing the bigger and further along in the pregnancy I get. She said that from now on, I need to make sure that I rest as much as I can, whenever I can and it was actually so nice to hear that that is something I have to do. I have been feeling guilty about how tired I have been and how incapable I am of getting as much stuff done around the house as I used to – even though Pete always just stares at me when I express that to him and he says, “Leah, you’re pregnant..”. I don’t know why I feel like I need that permission to just rest. I think that part of it is just who I am, but also, even after almost seven months of being pregnant, I am still not used to the fact that I simply can’t do things that I normally would.
Our little man is anything bu tired. He just does not stop wriggling around and I could have sworn he had friends over the other night at about 4.30 in the morning. He doesn’t kick as much any more but he is always moving, and he is so strong now that if he does kick, it often takes me by surprise and can sometimes hurt (depending on where his kick lands). Pete and I were sitting on the lounge a couple of days ago and bub was going absolutely ballistic, Pete was on his phone but the movements are moving my stomach so much that Pete saw them out of the corner of his eye. He couldn’t believe how much our son was able to change the shape of my belly. It’s like a scene out of Alien.
Oh – I also definitely waddle now as well, and I am okay with it.
I have just over three weeks left at work and the idea of that is really insane. I worked it out and told Pete and we both just looked at each other with not a whole lot to say. Everything is coming around so quickly and I know that bub is going to come along faster than either of us expect. Funnily enough though, neither of us are worried or fretting at all. It all feels surreal and foreign, but not scary and I cannot express how grateful I am to be bringing our son into this world and into so much love. I know I am getting a bit soppy but, you know, hormones. ANYWAY – one thing that I do need to sort out is my maternity leave pay, as well as whatever it is I need to tell Centrelink. I have no idea. I am oblivious. I had a chat with our CFO at work yesterday about the process and realised that it is something I need to get onto before Christmas because after that, bub could be born anytime. I will be sure to run through what I need to do in detail because I know that I would have appreciated a step-by-step, how-to, dummies guide to getting maternity payments set up and so that will be my gift to you all out there who are just as oblivious as me.
Cravings this week have been:
– fresh orange juice (which is lucky because I have been fighting off the flu that my brother and Pete both have)
– Vietnamese banh mi rolls (the lady at the shop knows me and my order now so all I have to do is walk in..)
– salad (of any kind)
– grape tomatoes (cannot buy enough punnets of them at the moment, my god)
Well – we made it! I am 28 weeks today, marking the start of the third and final trimester. THE HOME STRETCH. All things considered, I am feeling pretty good! I definitely feel heavier and getting on and off the lounge and in and out […]
Yesterday, as some of you may have seen on instagram, I had to go into hospital to have the Gestational Diabetes Test. Taken from Diabetes Australia, “Gestational diabetes mellitus (sometimes referred to as GDM) is a form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. Most women […]
I have gone to write this post three times now, and each time I cannot seem to find the tone with which to write it in. I don’t want this to sound sad or as though I am a victim. Instead, I want this post to be informative and hopeful and above all, I want it to help people. I have always been adamant that strength lies in honesty and vulnerability, openness and transparency, and what I am about to write may make all the difference to someone out there. Writing this will also help me understand what I am going through on a far deeper level; writing has always gifted me with insight and details that I had previously missed.
Like I have mentioned in a previous post, everything that I have read up on about the stages of pregnancy says that the second trimester is the easiest of the three. Women report higher libidos, more energy, a big surge of happy hormones and a whole other range of wonderful findings. To all those women who experience that, I take my hat off to you and could not be happier for you. I, however, have had a very different experience. I have felt far more depleted of energy than I did in the first trimester, I have had no increase in my libido (I would actually go as far as saying that it has decreased on account of said exhaustion) and I have not had the promised influx of happy hormones. I remember the first few weeks of this trimester where I felt ecstatic and happy and energetic, but it was short-lived and empty; it almost felt like the high you get from adrenaline – intense and fleeting.
I think what made it worse was that, from everything that I had read I found that I had expectations of what these last few months should have been like and what I should have felt like. I felt guilty. I felt like a failure. Why aren’t I feeling all those good things? I found myself questioning daily. I kept waiting to feel ecstatic and glowy. I was eating all the right foods, I was happy at work and making friends, and Pete and I successfully set up a whole new life for ourselves. Everything was brilliant and shiny and wonderful. Everything except me. I became increasingly irritable that I was feeling sad. The guilt of feeling sad ate away at me slowly, so slowly that I didn’t realise it was even happening. Every time bub kicked I still found myself smiling and excited, and yet I could’t ignore feeling removed from those emotions. I lit up every time my active little karate kid moved around, but I also felt completely numb. It was a strange and scary feeling. It was weird because I could see the happiness I felt as though it were outside of me; being pregnant has still been – and continues to be – the most uplifting, joyous, incredible and positive experience in my life so far. Why then, I wondered, could I not feel those emotions to their fullest?
And then I started asking one of the most dangerous questions of all: What is wrong with me?
In the lead up to the long weekend, I had already noticed that my anxiety levels had started to pick up and I found myself constantly worrying about insignificant things. I became noticeably irritable and exceedingly emotional. I put it down to hormones, but I knew that there was something more going on. My mental health declined rapidly and it took all my strength to try and mask it – though it was unsuccessful. I felt feelings of jealousy and anger, resentment and fear. Negative thoughts were playing on a loop in my mind all day and well into the night. The long weekend at the property completely broke me and I knew that things were going to get worse before they were able to get better. In the week after we got home, I cried every night and left work early most days. I completely removed myself from people at work and was all but silent at home; I completely retreated into myself and started to believe that those around me would be better off without me.
I got home from work early one afternoon, walked outside to the deck where Pete was working and broke down (again). After I sobbed and cried out everything that I could, I had a shower and sat on the lounge feeling a lot calmer (although in hindsight, I probably just exhausted myself to the point of complacency). Pete came inside and we started having the conversation that I had felt coming for weeks. He was struggling with my moods, felt like he was constantly walking on eggshells and told me that there have been things he has been scared of saying and doing because my reactions have been so unpredictable. It completely broke my heart. He has been nothing but patient, understanding and supportive and yet I had been asking more of him without realising. I had inadvertently been upsetting our relationship. Pete put it down to hormones and said that he was okay and that we will get through it, but the last thing that I wanted is four our first experience of pregnancy to be tainted with such darkness; a darkness that, although will be hard, is able to be controlled.
I sat with our conversation for the rest of the day and into the next. The feelings of guilt didn’t abate but, looking down at my belly, I knew that I couldn’t dwell on what I felt were serious shortcomings. Our child presented me with the most unexpected gift that afternoon; a catalyst to finally acknowledge the pain of my past, the state of my mental health and my deep desire to actually do the work required to pull myself up and out of the shadows. I have never felt such hope before.
I booked in to see the doctor the very next morning, not wanting to waste another moment not being elated and ecstatic and happy in my pregnancy, in my relationship and in my life. I knew the diagnosis was coming the moment I started talking to the doctor. I have perinatal depression. Although I was expecting those words and that diagnosis, I wasn’t at all prepared for it. I felt like I had already failed as a mother, I was scared that I was going to start judging myself, I felt so many things in those moments following. But then it passed; I straightened myself up in the chair, wiped my eyes and asked her where we go from here. Being able to put a label on something has always helped me be able to deal with it. Hearing the term perinatal depression, I was actually able to remove myself from it and come up with a plan, a solution. I was able to reassure myself (somewhat shakily) that, “Okay, there is nothing wrong with you, but there are things that you need to address.” It’s as if now I can attack this from a logical place as opposed to an emotional one (even though it’s totally emotional); now I can say this is the issue and these are the steps I am going to take to reach this solution. I can be pragmatic and productive about it. I am a woman with a plan, people.
I was prescribed medication, given a referral to a psychologist and was booked in to see the doctor again in the fortnight to check on my progress. The doctor went through the prescription and assured me that it was safe to be on whilst pregnant, and we talked about dosage and how we were going to manage this as a whole, together. Medication has worked for me in the past, what hasn’t worked is the fact that as soon as I start to feel the (positive) effects, I declare, “I’M CURED” and stop taking them. The same goes for psychology appointments. Certain psychologists have really helped me, but it’s the cost that deters me from ever sticking to it. The doctor took care of that for me too; I was given a referral to a psychologist that bulk bills (HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF SUCH MAGIC?!). My first appointment is tomorrow.
I have all the tools and support around me to finally dedicate the time, care and effort that is required and that I deserve to really look after myself, not just for myself but for my partner and for my child (I almost let the gender slip out then!). My main goal in the near future is to be the strongest, fiercest, most honest and loving version of myself that I can be. I want to be emotionally stable and settled so that I can support my family and my beautiful baby.
This has been a really big lesson in the troublesome act of comparing, and further goes to prove what I have always said: each and every pregnancy is different. Though the comparison in this case is specific to pregnancy, it has permeated every other aspect of my life in a really gentle, beautiful way. I have really been able to catch myself when I start comparing my life, my success, my experiences and my person to those around me. Instead of seeing the diagnosis as a failure, I am choosing to see it for the wonderful gift and opportunity it is.
I started taking the medication last Friday, so I have been on them for a week now and already I feel more myself. My mind has quietened down, I am a lot calmer (even just driving to work is more pleasurable and less rage-filled) and when unexpected things are thrown my way I have been able to deal with them from a place of strength rather than fear (but I am still working on this one). Bub had the hiccups for the first time that I have been able to feel in the middle of the night a few days ago, and I was able to fully immerse myself in the sheer joy that it brought me. I didn’t feel numb or removed, I smiled and laughed and pressed my hand deep into my belly and savoured how freaking adorable it felt (poor thing had the hiccups for almost an hour). I am more focused on work and I am more relaxed at home. The edginess and paranoia that tainted my days seems to have evaporated already, and I am hopeful and excited that this is only the beginning.
I thought that this post would be easier to write as I have never been one to shy away from discussion about mental health, nor have I ever thought twice about writing down all of my experiences throughout this pregnancy. But the truth is is that I really struggled to get this one out of my brain and into the world – even now, having written it I feel exposed and vulnerable. In my opinion there is still a stigma held around mental health and medication in particular, and I guess that that is why I think it is so important that we have these conversations. I felt so alone before I went to the doctor. I felt like I was the worst mother in the world. I was surprised by how I was feeling. No one around me, or ever in my life, has gone through something like this. But now, with the information I have and the professional and personal support network that I have around me, I don’t feel alone at all. I don’t feel ashamed that this is something that I am going through, because I can already see the positives to this experience. Sure, I was worried that I was letting those around me down (and I still have moments where I feel snippets of that) but I am excited to break through absolutely everything that has held me back or been the source of upset and sadness for me in the past.
The idea that any woman has felt as I did, saddens me. It is a really painful place to be, but again, that is why I am here. I want to be brave for those you do not have the strength to be. I want to reassure any woman, man, mother, father, or mama-to-be out there that if this is something you are experiencing, there is nothing wrong with you. Some of you may have a predisposition to depression and anxiety, others may have developed it circumstantially, and some of you may have had no previous experience with mental health and all of a sudden, THIS. Whatever the case, it’s okay, and it will be okay.
Everything I do from hereon in, is for my child – our wonderful, active, hiccuping, long-legged (so we are told), full-lipped (so we are also told), loving child.
And also for all of you out there who needed this post too.