A week ago today I shared the news that my partner and I are starting a family, expecting our very first baby on January 12th 2016. If you caught the post - When your life changes forever - you'll remember me saying I wanted to share weekly pregnancy posts, which after the baby is born will go into parenting posts.
Of course, the beauty content here on Tattooed Tealady will remain the same and that will still be the predominant theme, but the lifestyle posts I share will take on a pregnancy theme! I want to make the weekly pregnancy posts interesting and a little different to the 'usual' pregnancy posts you might come across. To start things off, I'm going to share my experience of the 1st Trimester - because gosh, it was nothing like I expected at all!
FYI - like many posts I'll be sharing about my pregnancy, this will be in-depth in places, it will be personal, it will be cringe-worthy and it will involve terms and words you'd never usually get me to share on this blog. But let's be honest now, we all know how babies are made and where they come from, so let's not act surprised when I use some terminology. OK? OK, let's do this!
Before we found out
My partner and I actually planned to start a family, so our 'journey' started long before we found out we were expecting. We've both been ready for a baby for a long, long time, but I was pretty adamant that I would not begin trying until I had finished University, graduated and was in a stable job. We both knew once University was over, it wouldn't be long until we started trying, and we decided that 2015 would be the year for us (because, let's be honest, I wanted the end of 2014 to 'myself').
We decided to start trying at the very end of January 2015, and I'll be honest, having been on the contraceptive pill for 10 years I honestly expected it to take months and months, maybe even years, for us to fall pregnant. In reality we were only trying for 10 weeks before we got lucky - and I truly do see it as lucky, because I fully understand and appreciate there are people who really struggle to conceive and try for years and years, and then some. I feel very blessed, lucky and appreciative that it happened so quickly for us.
'Oh f**k, I'm pregnant'
Finding out I was pregnant was actually a very surreal experience. I honestly thought it'd take months and months, so when I started to get symptoms I just brushed it off and it took a friend telling me I needed to take a test, to persuade me to do one.
For a couple of weeks before I took the test I had found my boobs getting insanely sore (lololol yup, I just said boobs on the blog), I was over a week late for Mother Nature's visit and I had experienced some insanely odd middle-of-the-night cravings for oily fish (to the point where I made an ASDA order at 2am, full of fish!!).
When I took the first test I was home alone and didn't expect it to say pregnant at all - yet within seconds it was there, staring me in the face. So of course the logical reaction was to pace around the house as if I was about to start a marathon repeating 'Oh f**k, I'm pregnant, oh f**k, I'm pregnant' over, and over, and over again. I honestly couldn't believe it - so off I went to Tesco, buying another two tests, convinced the first had been a fluke. Nope, I was definitely pregnant. F**k.
Of course I was insanely happy, and when I told my partner he was over the moon too (I'll never forget the look of sheer joy and absolute terror on his face ha!), but it was just such a shock to us both that it had happened so quickly. We found out at exactly 5 weeks, which is very early to find out and meant we had a long journey ahead of us to get passed the first trimester.
1 of those 25% of women
As soon as we found out I expected to get hit with morning sickness at any moment. Days passed, then weeks, still no morning sickness. What? Where was this intense horrible illness everyone told me I'd get when we fell pregnant? Where were the mornings becoming best friends with the toilet, spending hours throwing my guts up? Where was my inability to keep food down and struggling to do anything?
What no one told me is that 25% of pregnant women don't experience morning sickness. In fact, 25% of women don't experience many or any pregnancy symptoms at all. Yup, I am one of those lucky 25%! I know, I know, if you're reading this after having terrible morning sickness yourself, you have permission to despise me. Personally, I'm more than happy to skip the nasty bits - especially as the idea of sick leaves me feeling weak and faint.
So far I have actually had such few symptoms, that at times (actually, a lot of the time), I had doubted being pregnant at all. I had the sore boobs and fish cravings, then there was a good two week period around 6-8 weeks where I felt absolutely exhausted and struggled to stay awake; the tiredness was actually insane. Other than that, as time has gone on, all I've had to deal with is some back ache. Pretty lucky, right?
Because we were trying and our pregnancy was planned, I knew already that during the pregnancy I would need to take certain vitamins and supplements, as well as whilst we were trying, too. Health professionals recommend that for the time you are trying to conceive you take a daily dose of Folic Acid, and so every day from the day we decided to start trying, I started taking Viridian Folic Acid with DHA* (£10.85). Folic Acid has proven to be extremely important in preparing the womb for conception as well as helping to reduce tiredness and fatigue, whilst boosting the normal function of your immune system. When you do conceive, Folic Acid continues to play a crucial role in normal psychological function, the processes of normal homocysteine metabolism, amino acid synthesis, cell division and blood formation. Viridian is a brand I have used for a few years now and a brand I trust wholeheartedly, so when exploring options for Folic Acid, I had no doubt that theirs would be wonderful for me, my body and my baby.
Health professionals recommend you take Folic Acid for at least the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and once you are pregnant, that you top this up with Vitamin D. As soon as I found out I picked up some Calcium plus Vitamin D from my local chemist, which I started taking daily alongside the folic acid. You can pick up Calcium plus Vitamin D from Holland & Barrett.
Once I met my midwife she asked if I had been taking any vitamins and seemed very pleasantly surprised by my choice to actively take Folic Acid whilst trying to conceive, as well as starting Vitamin D as soon as we found out we were expecting. I was expecting to continue the Viridian Folic Acid throughout my pregnancy alongside Vitamin D tablets, but my midwife was pretty insistent that I go onto Pregnacare Original (£4.10). At first I was super nervous to try Pregnacare as many online reviews I'd read had said that Pregnacare made them extremely ill and constantly sick; but thankfully I've been absolutely fine with it.
Pregnacare Original is a careful balance of 19 vitamins and minerals which are very beneficial during pregnancy both to expecting mothers and growing babies. They include Folic Acid, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Thiamin (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Niacin (Vitamin B3), Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Biotin, Pantothenic Acid, Magnesium, Iron, Zinc, Copper, Selenium, Iodine and Natural Mixed Carotenoids. I have an alarm set on my phone that goes off daily at 8:45pm to remind me to take my Pregnacare tablet if I haven't already, and it's become an easy part of my everyday routine. I plan to continue taking Pregnacare after our baby is born, as they have options for post-pregnancy and breastfeeding mums too.
Midwife appointments & our 1st scan
When we found out I was pregnant I didn't really know what to do. Did I make a GP appointment? Did I make a hospital appointment? How did I get a midwife? Did I have to take a test at the doctors? There was conflicting advice online, everything seems to differ depending on area in the UK and I couldn't make head nor tail of the information I was reading. In the end I decided to go ask the receptionist at my GP practice what I should do - she told me that doctors don't see expecting mothers anymore except for standard illness and GP appointments, as all care is now midwife led. So I made an appointment to see the midwife.
I have so far had two appointments with my midwife. The first was at 8 weeks and was my 'booking in' appointment. This was a pretty long appointment where we went through my medical history and background, my lifestyle, my partner's background, our families backgrounds, getting my blood pressure, weight and height done as well as having a urine test and some blood tests which were sent off. She also covered any initial questions I had about the pregnancy, told me where things would go from there and explained the process of future appointments.
At 11 weeks I had my first of two hospital based scans. Unfortunately I had a really negative experience with our sonographer so the experience wasn't exciting and happy for us, in fact I left extremely upset and it took me a few weeks to get over the shock of how we had been treated at the appointment. It was an appointment I had been extremely worried about as I was still convinced I had imagined the pregnancy and after reading pregnancy forums I had also been introduced to 'missed miscarriages' (where your body doesn't register or show any signs of having a miscarriage, a silent miscarriage with no signs), so I was really worried there would be nothing on the screen. Add to that the way our sonographer had treated us, it was a really odd, emotional, nerve-wracking appointment. Of course it was amazing to see our baby on the monitor and to get our scan photos, but I feel like the appointment was really tainted by our experience.
I had my second and most recent midwife appointment last week at 15 weeks, which my partner came along to and was pretty quick. She went over my test results - unfortunately one of my blood tests showed that I am RhD Negative (which I will go into more detail in a future post), but I left feeling a left more reassured after she explained properly what it means, how it could affect me and the baby and how it is dealt with. We also got to hear our baby's heartbeat for the first time, which was just utterly amazing and left me with the biggest grin for days. I still can't get over how amazing it felt to hear our baby's heart beating away, it's honestly one of the most incredible things I have ever experienced.
My next scan is at 20 weeks, with my next midwife appointment at 24 weeks. I can't wait to see our baby again, to get more scan photos and to hear their heartbeat again!
Telling family & friends
Although the first trimester is a very risky time and the chance of miscarriage is high, there were a few people we decided to tell before our first scan and before the first 12 weeks had passed. I told a few of my closest friends straight away, one I didn't even have to tell she just guessed which I think is funny because she's my oldest friend who I've grown up with so I still find it funny she was the first to guess. We also told my partner's mum very early on.
After our scan and the first 12 weeks had passed, we were out of the 'danger zone' and were safe to start telling people. But... I didn't want to. I was still terrified of something going wrong (and if I'm honest, that's still a worry I have daily), and so we left it a few more weeks before we decided to tell people. We actually shared the news with our family at around 12 weeks, privately, before sharing the news with our friends and extended family on Facebook. We shared the news on my birthday, so I got to celebrate turning 27 and the news that we were expecting a baby all in one go! A few days later, I shared the news here on the blog.
It was incredibly hard keeping it a secret for so long, especially as we found out so early on, but when you are in that position where you have something you have wanted for a long, long time, the worry and fear that it might be taken from you is awful. I think it's something I will worry about until my baby is born and in my arms, safe and sound, but it took a long while for me to feel confident enough to share the news. We have been extremely lucky to have amazing support and love from everyone we have told, and the congratulations and well wishes has overwhelmed us both (especially me!).
Today I am 16 weeks exactly and I am just a few weeks away from being 'half-way there'. We still have a long way to go but I am enjoying every minute of it - being pregnant is everything I expected and a million times more amazing than I ever thought it would be, and I am already counting down the days until January 12th 2016.
Next Tuesday: I'll be sharing helpful pregnancy apps and websites.
*PR sample - Disclaimer