So, I’m pregnant? Which is still baffling to me even at 22 weeks. This journey has genuinely been nothing like I expected, and I wanted to share some of the highlights, lowlights, tips, insights and other thoughts I’ve had throughout this journey.
I’ll walk through a few big topics, such as the surprise of this pregnancy, the first trimester, second trimester, scans, body image and more.
Finding Out We Were Pregnant
(This may be a little TMI for some people, but I’m an open book, so hey ho. When I was going through the first few weeks of this surprise pregnancy, I wished I had come across something like this. But yeah, just as a warning for any family reading this, I do discuss birth control etc, if that’s weird to you lol.)
Despite all the morning sickness and going to most of my appointments alone, the hardest bit about this pregnancy so far has been the surprise of it. If you know me, you know that Ali and I were not trying to have a baby. We always talked about having a family one day, but it was more of an if rather than a when. Ali has always wanted to be a dad, but being a mum was never something that I felt would come naturally to me. I knew that if we were to start trying, I would want to take time to prepare mentally.
That, of course, is not how it happened.
We had kind of concluded that next summer (2021), we would start talking about family plans. That didn’t mean we’d start trying right away, but we would sit down, look at finances, other life goals, all that, and then decide when the best time to have a baby would be.
That, of course, is also not how it happened.
I tracked my cycles using the Fertility Awareness Method, specifically the Taking Charge of Your Fertility method. I came off hormonal birth control in September 2018 after my body seriously disagreed with it, and have been using natural birth control ever since. I love FAM and will go back to it after giving birth, but unless you follow the rules exactly, pregnancy can occur. We messed up with the rules one time and well, here we are.
Neither of us was overly worried about this mistake as the chances of it ending in pregnancy were like 2% (based on actual science statistics for where I was at in my cycle)… we’ll be fine. A few weeks later, I was expecting my period. I was 12 days past ovulation (when you track your cycles, you have all of this fun information) which is late for me (mine usually arrives between 9-11 DPO) and my basal body temperature sky-rocketed, which is a sign of pregnancy. I thought… no way. I had been feeling pretty unwell – upset stomach, nausea, intense period symptoms really. So the next morning I took a test.
I peed on it, turned it over, and started playing Among Us on my phone. After 3 minutes, I flipped it back around and it was positive.
I was shocked. I honestly thought it must have been a fluke. A false alarm. A faulty test. But then – all the other signs were there: high basal body temps, nausea, upset stomach, no period… So I phoned Ali and told him, “You know that test I said I was going to take today? Well, it’s like… the most positive thing ever.” And he knew right away that I wasn’t winding him up or joking around. He was like, “Really?” and he processed the news happily, laughing and crying a little, telling his friends at work, whereas I was at home, running to the shops for more tests, absolutely freaking out, so unsure of what to do.
But the digital test said “pregnant: 1-2 weeks” and my doctor said that if I had two positive tests, then this was real, and I booked my first midwife appointments later that morning. Looking back, I wish that had been a happy day for me, but I felt angry. I felt annoyed with myself. I felt annoyed with Ali. We hadn’t planned for this. There was a pandemic. We hadn’t been careful enough. How was I going to go into pregnancy without having mentally prepared? We had a new puppy: how was I going to take care of her while feeling so unwell?
We told our families that weekend because we needed the support, and that helped me so much. Our parents gave us space to process and feel whatever we felt, specifically me. They took the dog out, made us meals, did our laundry, checked in, all the things I gradually got too unwell to do. And of course, with Ali being as happy as he was, he was very supportive of me as well. But I could tell he was getting frustrated, asking about plans, names, scans, how we’ll tell people, to be met with nothing from me. I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want to share his excitement. I didn’t know what to do. I knew that I would love this baby and do everything to protect him, but I almost felt sorry for the baby, for landing with a mother who wasn’t ready for him.
But then, slowly, things changed. We told our siblings, and they were so excited. Ali gave me time to come to terms with everything, and that space gave me room to imagine this new life. I watched other mums online, ones that also didn’t plan their pregnancy, to see that they were happier than ever with their little surprise.
Now, even though I am still baffled by our little less-than-likely boy who beat the odds (I mean… 2%. That is wild), I am so so excited to meet him and I love him so much already.
Seeing the Scans
Before the 12 week NHS scan (which ended up being 13.5 weeks for me), we booked an early scan just to check everything was okay. I had been having shoulder pain, which can be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy, but thankfully, everything was perfect. Let’s blame the new puppy and all her pulling for that sore shoulder.
I was 9 weeks along at my first scan, and when she put the scanner on me, there was our little jellybean shaped baby, wriggling around, waving his little tiny hands. Masked up and not allowed to sit right next to each other, Ali and I just glanced at each other, then back at the screen and took it in. We got about 5-10 minutes with our baby, but that’s when I sort of just… fell in love with him. And all the worries about not planning this pregnancy faded away.
Then, of course, you get the 12 week NHS scan where you get about 30 minutes of seeing your baby, and it’s just precious. The sonogrammer takes all these measurements, but while they’re doing the hard work, you can just sit back and see your baby’s face, toes, stomach, brain, spine… everything. It’s really crazy.
I absolutely loved the 20-week scan, the one where we found out we were having a boy. Of course, finding that out was super exciting, and we got that news immediately. She put the scanner on me and went, “Leg, leg… penis!” I was so happy to be having a boy. When I did imagine having a baby, though that was a rare thought, it was always to a boy first. I love the thought of being a boy mum. And I can’t wait to meet the little dude.
During that scan, he was wriggling about all over the place. He had his head wedged behind my hip bone so I had to do all sorts of crazy dancing and jumping (as recommended by the sonogrammer) to get him out of there. After about 40 minutes, he finally moved out the way and we got a good view of his face. He has the sweetest little nose and lips. He was yawning and touching his chin, as if in deep thought. Ali and I left this scan absolutely buzzing that we were having a boy and that we got to spend that special time with him.
The baby is measuring quite large, specifically his tummy. So I’m going to be pushing for some extra scans, just so there are no surprises when it comes to full-term.
Going back a little from my 20-week scan, let’s look at my first trimester. Compared to other women, I didn’t have it all that bad. I was nauseous most days, but I never actually was sick. I came really close, but it never happened (which is great because I hate being sick). But nausea still sucks. It’s exhausting. Uncomfortable. Debilitating. Very hard to focus on anything, because you feel like at any moment you’re just going to be sick.
I found it super hard to balance eating enough and eating too much. If you have an empty stomach, you feel sick. If you eat too much, you feel sick. If you eat the wrong thing, you feel sick. If you ate something that worked yesterday but doesn’t today, you feel sick. Balancing food was really hard, and I honestly felt my relationship with food becoming strained.
I did, over time, find staples that worked for me: bread and butter, oranges, tomatoes, apples with peanut butter, poached eggs, and nuts. Ali would make me up a plate of these things for me and I would graze on a small portion of them all afternoon. I really did not eat that much in the first trimester (but have definitely made up for that now), but that final day of being nauseous, was the best ever. The nausea started to gradually wear off around week 10 and by week 13, I had one day of it after a week of nothing and I don’t know how, but I just knew it was the last day. So I stayed in bed with my apples, peanut butter and nuts and just let it wipe me out.
Apart from the nausea, I found it really hard to balance all these new vitamins – especially iron – and how it affects your body. I had quite bad cramps from time to time. I wasn’t ever fatigued, but I was definitely more tired than usual looking back. I didn’t fit into any of my clothes from week 7-8. My hormones were a bit all over the place, making crying a much more frequent occurrence. But other than that, my first trimester was more of an emotional battle than a physical one.
Now… the second trimester? I love it. Like I never thought there would be a day of pregnancy that I would enjoy, let alone months. I haven’t felt bitter or negative towards my pregnancy since that last day of nausea. This second trimester has been great. I have so much more energy (it’s depleting now but I did just move house so that’s probably why), and each morning for weeks, I would be wide awake, ready to face the day. I could handle a bit more exercise, so managed to take the dog out for longer walks. I could eat again, and have been eating so much food which I’m very much enjoying (I’ll work it off later, I’m just enjoying myself right now) and of course, the best bit about the entire second trimester…
Feeling the baby move. The entire time I’ve been writing this post, he’s just been squirming and kicking away.
I didn’t feel anything until week 18. No flutters, no bubbles, nothing. And then one morning after my breakfast, I felt something really low in my abdomen that almost felt like a muscle twitch. And then it happened again. About six times. It was so faint and I wasn’t really sure, but I explained it to my mum and she said, “That’s your baby!!!”
The next day, it happened again, dozens of times. I even felt one with my hand. It was so precious. And now I will make an activity out of feeling kicks. I will literally just lie down and hang out with my baby, not really doing anything else. There are certain positions I can lie in which prompt him to kick more, as well as eating and drinking, too. If I laugh, he kicks a lot. If I drive, he kicks a lot. If I go onto my side, he kicks a lot. So I just do these things to feel him, sense him, hang out with him. It’s so precious, feeling the life you created wriggling around, doing his own thing, getting comfy, doing whatever it is he’s up to. I can’t wait for the kicks to get bigger and more obvious and let other people feel, because there’s really nothing like it at all.
I’m nearly 22 weeks, so I’m not quite finished with my first trimester but it has been so great. I’ve not been uncomfortable, really. I have been tired, and physically, my body quits after a certain amount of straining whether that’s walking or cleaning or cooking. Baby likes to be cosy, watching a movie or reading a book. And I take that as my cue to do the same.
My Body Changes
My body image hasn’t been a constant struggle for me in life. I’ve always been pretty neutral about my body. This is an arm that moves. This is a stomach that digests food. That kind of thing. I enjoy living in my body and all the things it can do. But when I found out I was pregnant, I was worried about the changes. But I’ve never been more confident in my body than I am now. Even though it’s stretched, and is now marked, and the skin has broken in places where I’ve grown so quickly, and I’m heavier than I’ve ever been, this is the body I live in, the body that’s home to my son, a body that is doing so much hard work.
Ali and I laugh every single day at my bump, which seems to grow bigger every few days. We can’t believe how I’m changing physically so quickly, so dramatically. But it’s actually such a special physical reminder of everything that’s happening and going to happen.
After birth, I have zero expectations. If anybody asks about when I’m going to snap back or comment on my weight, or anything, they will be getting an earful lol. It’s nobody else’s business what happens with your body, and there are some things that you just can’t control. My body has never been one to really respond to exercise. I have tried to get fit and toned and all this, but my body just remains the same. If my body chooses a form after birth, that’s the way it is – and I have to be okay with that.
There’s too much pressure on new mums as it is, let alone add on how they look to it.
If you’re pregnant, I would encourage you as much as possible to just enjoy your body, now and in a few years time. Cherish it. Be proud of it.
I’ll end with this – since there are, between all the amazing moments, some intense things running through my mind. I think any mum experiences the fear of everything going terribly at some point. My mum lost two daughters during pregnancy, long after the riskiest first 12 weeks. So things going wrong, even after this point, is something I’m conscious about. My midwives know about this and have done tests to conclude that I’m low risk so that puts my mind at ease, but it’s still there.
There’s also the fear of this baby being HUGE haha. Since he’s weighing and measuring ahead of schedule, I’m a bit worried about him being too big for me to deliver – but that’s why I’m going to push for growth scans.
And then there’s the fear of birth itself. It’s always been a huge fear of mine. As I get closer to it, I actually somehow get less nervous (mostly due to other mum’s stories and also the midwives reassuring me) but it’s still something I’m scared of. I think as I do more research, it’s postpartum that scares me more than birth, but this is where I have to take the few months ahead of me and just prepare for this.
That’s my personal journey with pregnancy so far. It’s been wild, crazy, unexpected (clearly lol), beautiful, fun, and scary all at once. If you’ve had a journey with pregnancy at all, I’d love to hear about it. ❤