It’s about time for a series here on WINTERXLIFE and this one’s about a variety of the bad, the ugly and the downright gross things I experienced whilst pregnant. This is something I’ve had in mind for almost two years and I’m finally at a comfortable point of being willing to fully share my experiences.
Entry 1 here isn’t gory or horror-filled (Sorry! Plenty of that coming up though!) but these problems all started before I found out I was pregnant and, retrospectively, it’s painfully obvious that of course I was duffed! Back then though I was blissfully ignorant because of PCOS, because of so many tests and medical checks spanning into my mid-twenties and because of multiple medical professionals advising I’d never have a child of my own. Nothing within what you’re about to read registered in my mind that it was all happening because of my lil alien belly babe…
NIPPLES, OH NIPPLES WHY YOU HURT SO BAD?!
“Your boobs are going to get massive!” – not exactly the first thing I was expecting Brad to get excited about when we saw our first positive pregnancy test in November 2017 and, being a 38G, I couldn’t even pretend that it was something to look forward to. But I knew it came with the territory and hey, what was a few months of extra back pain, more neck ache and increasingly sore shoulders in return for a baby?
Turns out, fucking loads.
One of my earliest symptoms was excruciating nipple pain. It’d range from a dull constant ache for days at a time to short sharp twinges every few minutes for hours on end day and night. It was a double-edged problem in its own right because not only was I being nipple crippled on a daily basis but they were erect at all times. Like properly fully happy to see everyone. Remember the Sex and the City episode where Samantha dishes out the fake nipples? If not here’s a link for posterity https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZR2Puy5WBAY (don’t say I never give you anything). There was that kind of PING situation on the go daily, but instead of being chic and come hither they were just constantly sore and not at all inviting.
I vividly remember the worst day was September 6th 2017; Brad and I had gone to the cinema to see Slipknot’s Day of the Gusano documentary and I could barely concentrate because of the ache radiating from my chest. By the time we got home that night I was close to tears, but it’d be another two months until we found out I was pregnant. In the meantime I spent hours Googling breast cancer symptoms and convinced myself there was something seriously wrong, which I handled in the most adult way I could: by firmly sticking my head in the sand and willing it to go away.
Oh, and after months of continuous aches and pains from the nips, let the record state that my boobs didn’t end up growing at all!
CARPAL TUNNEL IS A CUNT
I’d heard of carpal tunnel twice in my life; once via Travis Barker discussing it being a common problem for drummers and the other in a Sex and the City episode – at this point I can’t guarantee that every pregnancy problem isn’t linked to that show in some way, sorry in advance – with Miranda referencing it when she’s going through a particularly high frequency period of self-diddling. Suffice it to say the knowledge I had of carpal tunnel was minimal and restricted to music and masturbation. Turns out it can also happen in pregnancy, which is absolutely (not) fantastic.
This and the nips of doom came in quick succession of each other so I felt like I really couldn’t catch a break…or actually catch anything at all because my hands were rendered useless at least 94% of the time. CT is painful, incessant, unpleasant and awfully intrusive. I had it worse in my right hand/wrist and the only relief I got was packing those glove-insert hand warming pads around my entire wrist and base of my thumb and keeping them bandaged in place. It was a strong look and work was particularly interesting considering I’d have to do 10-hour shifts with something akin to an oven glove on my hand. Some days it was so bad I couldn’t hold a pen and I’d regularly drop things because my fingertips were tingly or numb and my grip would short-circuit. I’ve never known frustration like! The worst meltdown happened at about 30 weeks when I dropped a full cup of milk on the bed and cried for almost two hours because it was the last of the milk in the house and I was in the throes of chronic heartburn. It honestly felt like the end of the world, I was fed up of being a droppy idiot and heartburn is a topic we’ll definitely be revisiting in this series.
Unfortunately, but not at all unsurprisingly, I managed to get CT pretty early into pregnancy, whereas for normal non-bad-luck-Brians it doesn’t usually develop until the later stages if at all. I read that it could take up to three months after giving birth for things to return to normal (cried again at that) but mine was about 90% alleviated by the end of the day that Jackson was born, which was a relief like nothing I’ve ever known before or since.
SO SICK OF BEING TIRED / OH SO TIRED OF BEING SICK
These go together like peas and carrots and are the two symptoms that eventually lead to me taking a pregnancy test. From early September I’d noticed that I was dog tired all the time but mostly put it down to disturbed sleep from my pre-existing afflictions. At the time I was about six months into being vegetarian and decided that must be contributing the other part of my neverending tiredness.
Work was killer and erratic shift patterns did nothing to help. If I had a late I’d stay in bed until 2pm, quickly get ready, leave the house at 2.20 and somehow be in work ready to start at 2.30. 6am starts meant I’d be in bed no later than 8pm the night before with my alarm set for 5.30 in the morning. I have no idea how I regularly made it through to 11pm on late shifts without falling asleep in the staff room, especially once we’d moved further away and I had a 25-minute journey each way to and from work. I needed every single second of sleep my body would allow and on days off I’d stay in bed as much as I could because I was so knackered. Of course hindsight is a wonderful thing and this fatigue was actually first trimester tiredness but it felt all-consuming, especially once the sickness kicked in.
By this point it was mid-October and I was around two months in. At this time everyone was ill with some form of sickness-type stomach bug, which made it even more difficult to decipher. Colleagues, customers, family and friends had all been struck one way or another by sickness or some non-specific generalised under-the-weather illness so by the time I ended up with nausea, vomiting and the uncontrollable tiredness I just figured it was my time to become part of the lurgy-struck masses.
It was when things didn’t shift for me that my friends Mandy and Kirsty started to mention pregnancy. No, no, no, I’d repeatedly shrug them off but they set off the squiggly niggle in my mind. What if I was? I mean I couldn’t be, never would be, but what if…?
I told Brad their thoughts and he simply offered a laugh snort followed by a “Well you can’t be,” which was enough to reassure me that we were right. And anyway, what do two women with six children between them know about it anyway?! Turns out they were clearly spot on and had pretty much been waiting for me to have a lightbulb moment or give in to their constant “Are you sure though? Well you could be…” chat, whichever came first to hurry me along towards the glaringly obvious conclusion.
Thursday, November 16th 2017 I bought a pregnancy test while I was on shift with Kirsty who basically had a sixth sense and knew it was going to be positive before I’d even seen her again. Sunday, November 19th was the day I remembered to do the test. It was a day off for me but Brad was working; we were so certain the test would show a big fat no that I did it quite nonchalantly and more so we could start to figure out why I was feeling so crappy, tired, ill and achy all the time.
I think Brad was expecting a positive even less than I was, so I sent him a picture which he got on his break. I don’t think we’ve ever had a happier, more what-the-fuck-this-is-amazing-yet-terrifying-in-equal-measure phone conversation than the one that followed this…
Life comes at you fast, but in the most selfish way all I could think was thank fuck there’s a reason I’ve been feeling so shit! I was pure relieved and looking forward to a beautiful, glowing, relaxed, lovely pregnancy. Oh how far far away that ended up being from my reality, but those stories are all to come on another day. For now I’ll pause and leave you with the mental imagery of my sore boobs, aching hands and the overwhelming desire to sleep until 2037.