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Before I became pregnant, my knowledge of the topic was limited to what I know from dramatic TV/movies scenes, or, bits of details here & there from family & friends who had experienced it- like the possibility of morning sickness and the importance of eating healthy. Other than that, I was pretty clueless ignorant. Growing up though, it is always in the back of my mind that one day, I will too, have a child of my own- and more importantly, that my body will be the medium that create life. Going through it currently, there are a few things that surprised me about pregnancy. (Keep in mind that every woman’s pregnancy is unique, so these are based on my experiences alone…)

Immense support: I was baffled by the amount of support groups out there! I’m not just talking about Mothers Groups, but when I announced my pregnancy, the flood of well wishes truly made me feel even more special…and most importantly cared for in this time of need. Since I am a sentimental person, every message, congrats, words of wisdom really provided me with more strength & confidence to get through this period & after too. I am also very lucky to have a workplace with lots of first & second time (third!) parents who are soo ready & open to share their experiences, so I’m assured I can seek advise & tips from them anytime I’m in doubt. Old friends who are going through similar stage have also extended their wishes & encouragement. You also start to get used to the ‘gentlemanly & chivalrous’ treatment from people around you, like opening of doors, getting out of your way, scuffling a chair out for you to sit, offers of help…take it all in :)

Judgement: Aaaannnnd there you have it, with every positive…there will be the negative as well. Overall, people suddenly felt like it was appropriate to comment on everything, whether it was my weight, the size of my belly (And boobs!) or even how tired I looked. Strangers would randomly grab my stomach and others would overshare every detail of their horrifying birth stories. You will get stares -don’t worry, most are ‘happy’ stares, whilst some are more “is she pregnant or does she just have a pot belly” look (this was in my first trimester though) You will get questions– If I forget to wear my wedding ring & went out, I felt that I’m silently labelled as a promiscuous gal (remember the movie Juno?)- a retail staff did ask me if I’m married, and when I said yes…she nodded with that De Niro-esque upside down smile (what century is this?!)You will get compared & you will get lots of rude unsolicited comments. Whilst most will come positively like “You’re glowing! Pregnancy suits you! You look great!” there will be some like “You’re fucked!” (An friend acquaintance said that to G, who will usually laugh anything off, but instead found it offensive) I was also told on 2 separate occasions, how my child will be born during the worst time- because Christmas & New Years will eclipse her birthday & that she might hate me. So guys, a tip- if you are about to wish these to someone you don’t know very well, please just slap yourself in the face. It’s bizarre and something I had to try and remember not to take personally.

Parental Paid Leave is a PAIN: Organising this through Centrelink is such a nightmare! Please can someone just do it for me? You’d think there will be more help at the service centres & user friendly apps online for a fretful time like this but not. The online application points you to go to the ‘nearest service centre’ which happens to only open when you are away at work & when you DO go to the service centre, they just point you to go online & speak to you like you don’t even know what an Internet Explorer is. Can anyone share their tips?

Physical Limitations: I always thought I’d get the common pregnancy symptoms, like morning sickness, or aversion to certain types of food- or let alone just nausea from smelling anything, but I realised everyone goes through it differently. I’m lucky to say that I’ve had a good run so far with none of that happening. I thought I’d be more immobile (so did G) but I found that besides the increasing difficulty in tying up my shoe straps, getting out of bed or just being comfortable sleeping in my third trimester, I am fine. But then again, no 2 days are ever the same. The other night I struggled to wash the dishes & had a bad back because I was leaning over the basin to get the job done. What I lack in exercise, I make up by doing chores, having weekend walks in the morning, running errands (or having ‘walks’ in the shopping centres) I also joined Preggi Bellies & attend twice a week to stay active. Downsides physically? Leg/ thigh cramps in the middle of the night or when I’m driving, and the gradually increasing sore lower back- I’m sure more new symptoms will come around the corner.

Even Boys can be Fathers: I’m talking about my husband G :) I didn’t think I could love him any more but seeing him prep for this new role – like taking an interest in the development of my body & the smallest details of our baby as she grows, proved me wrong. He is overwhelmingly supportive & caring of me every step of the way, and I know he will make such a great dad.

I guess overall, how is my pregnancy going? Physically, it’s going well & better than I imagined. Small hiccups here & there but nothing too big for me to handle (c’mon I’m about to have a kid!) Rather than the physical, it is more the mental & social challenges and that’s what I’ve been saying to anyone who asks. What does pregnancy feel like mentally? It feels like when you have graduated from High School & not really knowing what you want to do yet (well except some people). And when someone asks you what course you’d be taking in uni, or fields you are interested in- they are already judging you the moment they asked. It’s not that they mean it in a bad way- but it’s almost like they want to compare their choices with your choice or your plans. From the ten thousand repetitive questions about where I’m going to have my baby, if I’m going private or public, if I’m going to use epidural & what method of birth I picked (natural or c-section), what sex is the baby, have I chosen a name for the baby, how long do I plan to take off, whether I’d be scared/nervous/excited, what date I’d prefer the baby to be born in, to what brand pram have I picked, whether G excited… there’s a breaking of social norms, and that is the challenge I face everyday & I’m sure there’d be more after birth too…but that’s another story. I’d just have to remember that all I look forward to, is meeting my baby & that she will be healthy. Other than that, nothing else matters. :)