My newsfeed is swimming in pregnant bloggers, joyously posting weekly updates on their pregnancies. This mostly features pictures of themselves in lovely maternity clothes with teeny tiny bumps, sharing how their cravings are for oranges and that they’re feeling so well….just a little tired and not quite as able to go to the gym as they’d like. Added to the bloggers are all the celebrities, with their glowingness and their skininess and their glamorous photo shoots – step forward Rochelle Humes – in which they look beautiful and barely pregnant at all, even though they’re weeks ahead of me. I’m in awe of these women, I really am. Either they’re having the pregnancy I was meant to have, or they’re lying very convincingly.
I’m sounding bitter. That’s probably because I am bitter. I thought – third pregnancy- I’ve totally got this. I’ve done it all before. I’ve had the morning sickness, the SPD, the aching exhaustion that makes you feel like you could lie down on your classroom floor and sleep. I’ve thrown up pretty much everywhere – shopping centres, a street at midnight at new year (people were skirting round me; I had to stop myself yelling defensively and pointlessly, ‘it’s morning sickness! I haven’t even TOUCHED vodka!’) and on one memorable occasion, all over myself and my car. (I was so embarrassed that my mum had to ring the parents of the girl I was supposed to be tutoring. I was 32) So on this, my third pregnancy, I was confident I knew what I was doing. I’d take bags! Spare clothes! Food! I decided that this time I’d ignore the fact that all I wanted was chips and take a bag of nuts and some apples everywhere with me, and not put on a stone in the first trimester through eating my bodyweight in carbs. In my more optimistic moments I thought maybe my body would be so used to being pregnant that I wouldn’t have morning sickness, or tiredness, or SPD at all.
This lasted until week 4 of my pregnancy, when I started throwing up and never stopped. I am now 18 weeks. For 14 weeks I have been sick every day, at least once a day. I have felt sick all day, almost every day. I have got up at 2am regularly to be sick. I have spent most mornings on the bathroom floor wondering how I would summon the energy to make it to work, and most evenings lying on the sofa attempting to mark books lying down and being obsessed with how sick I felt. (I apologised to my husband once for being so boring. ‘You’re not boring,’ he said kindly. ‘Just a bit repetitive.’ In week 5 I abandoned the apples and almonds and headed straight for the crisps. I’ve put on a stone. I take a toothbrush to work. And a lot of crisps. The peak of my achievements in the first half of this pregnancy is that I haven’t yet been sick in front of a class.
Possibly because of the crisps, I look more pregnant at 18 weeks than I did with the other two at 25. I asked the midwife if I was more huge than I should be. She looked at me consideringly. ‘No,’ she said cheerfully. ‘The more babies you have, the bigger you get.’ The trouble is, I’m quite a vain person. I like to look as nice as I can. So the fact that this pregnancy is robbing me of my flat stomach, nice shiny hair and my usual trademark gel manicure (I’m mental about chemicals; the gels went as soon as I found out) – well, I find it hard.
None of this, of course, takes away from the total joy of knowing that in April, all being well, we’ll have another tiny person and another little miracle. And I feel so, so fortunate to be in this position and have my beautiful girl kiss the bump every day and my gorgeous boy tell everyone he knows how he can’t wait to be a big brother (as long as it’s a boy. Or a girl that really likes Lego.) And I marvel at the wonder of how I can feel the baby moving and announcing its tiny presence. And I think of all the people in the world who won’t ever experience this joy and wonder, and I could cry for them. (I cry a lot at the moment)
But I’d really like to stop being sick now.