25 August 2015

Halfway there | 20 weeks pregnant

Stick the kettle on, because this is going to be a long one...

It feels so surreal being able to say 'I'm 20 weeks pregnant'. I don't think you realise until you are actually pregnant, how scary and filled with worry your pregnancy can be. Every week I have panicked and worried that I wouldn't make it this far, and now I have, and it doesn't quite seem real. Our baby is now the size of a big banana and weighs around 300g, they're growing hair and constantly moving around, making their muscles stronger. They are 'halfway' to being ready to come out into the big wide world and that is crazy. 

I wanted to write a post on the first half of my pregnancy, mainly because I think it'll be nice to look back on in years to come but also because like I've said in a couple of my pregnancy posts now, my pregnancy has been the opposite of what I expected and when so much information out there is negative and worst-case-scenarios, sharing my 'easier' experience might be helpful to other first time mums out there!

How have the first 20 weeks been?
Surprisingly for me, the first 20 weeks of my pregnancy have been an absolute breeze. We found out at 5 weeks exactly, but my body was showing signs from 3 weeks. From 3 weeks my boobs were sore and slightly swelling in size. At 4 weeks I had insane fish cravings, particularly for oily fish, and nothing satisfied me more than fish and lots and lots of water. At 5 weeks when we found out I was convinced the tests were wrong, because I didn't feel pregnant. From 6 weeks I started to feel a 'hardness' which turned out to be my uterus, and was the only thing I had to reassure myself that this pregnancy was real before my midwife and hospital appointments. The same week I started feeling extremely tired, which carried on through week 7 until around the end of week 8. 

At 8 weeks I had my first midwife appointment (read more about that here) and everything finally started to feel real - I was actually pregnant and speaking to an actual midwife! At 9 weeks my partner and I headed to Download Festival and I had to not only stay away from alcohol all weekend (my first for a festival!), but keep it a secret from friends who we saw whilst there who knew we'd been trying - now that was hard! Overall it wasn't too bad though and the only thing I struggled with was feeling tired after spending morning to night in a field walking around or standing. At 10 weeks I came down with what I thought was a cold but turned out to be a huge asthma flare up due to the change in weather and I spent a good week or so incredibly ill, not helped at all by the fact that when you're pregnant you can't take any medicine and so I was living on hot honey and lemon water before my GP gave me some steroid tablets to open up my airways. Because of how ill I was I was really worried how it might affect our baby, especially as I was ill until well into 11 weeks; definitely not fun! We had our 1st scan at 11 weeks (read more about that here) and that same day we started telling our immediate family and more of my close friends. Seeing our baby on the screen definitely made me realise that it wasn't all my imagination playing tricks on me, there was an actual baby growing inside of me! 

12 weeks was a huge milestone for us - we had finally reached the 'safe' zone of pregnancy and were almost out of the 1st trimester. 12 weeks is seen as the stage where you are less likely to miscarry, and for us it was such a weight off our shoulders as I had spent every day of every week up until that point terrified of losing something we had wanted for years. At 13 weeks I started getting really, really tired again, as well as the start of insistent back and shoulder pains which have only gotten worse as time has gone on. 14 weeks rolled around and my already quite chubby tummy started to look more and more pregnant; starting to round and lift in shape. This was also the week we decided to share the news with our wider family and friends, telling everyone on my 27th birthday that we were expecting our very first baby. 

At 15 weeks I shared the news here on the blog, and it felt like a weight had been lifted - up until that point I had been in two minds about whether or not to share this journey so openly with you all, and I am very glad that in the end I decided to. We also had our second midwife appointment at 15 weeks, hearing our babies heartbeat for the very first time and, what still amazes me to this day, feeling my baby move for the very first time. At 16 weeks that first initial movement I'd felt became an everyday flutter that has grown in intensity as each day and week has passed, and my tiredness returned tenfold; I am convinced that Gizmo being so active is why I started to feel overly tired all the time again! At 17 weeks my tummy started to look even bigger and I had to turn to maternity clothes for comfort, finding my usual clothes a little tight around the tum. At 18 weeks my appetite started to change for the first time, finding myself struggling to eat a full meal and for pretty much the first time in my life, not being able to finish everything on my plate. At 19 weeks my back and shoulder pains became unbearable, reducing me to tears most days, spurring me on to book a pregnancy massage. Today I am 20 weeks exactly, and have a super wriggly baby kicking me and doing somersaults as I write this very post. 

Before I was counting down to 'halfway', reaching 20 weeks pregnant. Now it feels like the countdown to my due date has really started, just 20 weeks to go!

What about those pregnancy symptoms (or should we call them pregnancy myths?)
Symptoms wise I've still had it incredibly easy. I haven't had any sickness, but I've found headaches (which I had regularly before getting pregnant) harder to deal with now that I can't turn to extra strong Ibuprofen for a quick-fix. If I'm out for a full day walking around then my feet are showing the signs of being pregnant by swelling up by the end of the day, and my back and shoulder pains are daily complaints. Other than that, there's no tell-tale signs I'm pregnant - except for my ever expanding tummy!

Baby shopping is quite addictive, don't you know...
When we found out we were expecting I said we wouldn't buy anything until we were 12 weeks onwards, just in case. Instead we ended up buying a teddy straight after our 8 week midwife appointment and the baby clothes shopping started at 9 weeks whilst at Download Festival. Since then it has been an unstoppable force; I cannot stop being baby stuff! Clothes, furniture, toys, 'essentials'. Our travel system pram has arrived, although we haven't tested it out yet - we're leaving that until after tomorrow's 20 week scan (just in case...). I quite like being prepared though and I know I'll be glad of doing everything so in advance when I'm in my last month and want nothing more than to put my feet up, instead of shopping and putting things together!

The best bits and the worst bits so far.
Because I was already a big girl before getting pregnant, I feel guilty whenever things get a bit tougher, like I don't look pregnant enough to complain. But sometimes it is blooming hard when all you want to do is sleep - to the point where you're in the middle of a work day and want nothing more than to burst into tears because you could fall asleep right there and then. The back and shoulder pains are incredibly hard, especially when you're already quite big-busted and your boobs are causing most of the pain as they slowly expand in size. Sleeping is difficult, like really difficult. I can't remember the last time I slept an entire night through without tossing and turning or getting up half a dozen times to go to the toilet. I used to be such a heavy sleeper but since around 9 weeks, that's been a long forgotten memory. 

But bad bits aside, the positives make everything worth it. Everyday I marvel at this growing baby inside of me, reading all about the daily and weekly changes they are going through. It's awe-inspiring! It's made me love my body, really and truly, for the first time in my life, amazed at this beautiful life being created inside of me. Every single nudge, kick, wriggle and somersault makes me fall more and more in love, as well as being all the reassurance I need that Gizmo is still OK in there. Seeing my tummy look more pregnant by the day, rounding and lifting, makes me feel more confident when out and about rather than just worrying about 'looking like a fatty'. I have a feeling I'm going to really miss being pregnant...

Just 20 weeks left until we meet our baby!
September is just a few days away and September is always the time of year when I start to think about Christmas. Except this year it's not excitement over Christmas shopping and decorations that I am looking forward to, it's knowing that when Christmas is here I'll be just two weeks from my due date and our baby could arrive at any moment. 

From here on in, it's one big countdown for me, with plenty of events and occasions along the way to help make time go quicker; the start of Autumn, Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas, New Year.... I have a feeling the next 20 weeks are going to whizz by, whilst also feeling like they're taking forever at the same time.

Next week: Collective baby haul

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