|Photo used with permission.|
I came off the contraceptive pill in August 2010. And then... nothing. I wee'd on a stick a couple of months later, but it came up negative, so I went to the doctor to say that my periods hadn't returned and was told to be patient. In my late 30s, and with patience never my strong suit, this was difficult to say the least. So off to Australia on a planned holiday BoyWonder and I went (along with my brother Wayne). It was a surprise for my Mum and this, along with my parents wedding vow renewal, TV cameras in tow, deserves a blog post of its own. One day, while walking on the beach, my Mum asked if I was sure I wasn't pregnant and I'm pretty sure I snapped back at her in frustration (sorry Mum!). Back to London, and back to the doctors; it was now 11 weeks since I came off the pill and I still hadn't had a period. A different doctor tried to put me off by telling me to come back at the three month mark... which would have been the following week, so having private health insurance, I pushed for a referral on spot.
The following week, I went to see the loveliest doctor. He planned to do three investigations that day, but after the internal exam (not the most comfortable experience!), he switched the process around to do the internal ultrasound. "I can see why you're not having your period" he said. I held my breath imaging him saying polyps, cysts etc. "You're about 7 weeks pregnant". How I sat up from the position I was in I don't know, but I was thrilled and more than a little stunned - I really had imagined the worst. And I do consider myself lucky to have become pregnant so quickly, as I've had a number of friends struggle with various difficulties.
The next thing was to keep quiet... probably my next greatest failing after patience!! We held out until Christmas to tell our parents and a few close friends. And just made it to the 12-week mark before telling work. While I felt really tired to start with, I barely had any morning sickness, just the occasional day of nausea. Again, I count myself lucky; one of my close friends threw up every morning of her first pregnancy, except for a week right in the middle.
So on I pottered, getting bigger. I actually lost weight the first trimester, which I'm sure was due to not only being more conscious of what I was eating, but cutting out alcohol.
Then one day, at around the half-way mark, I was walking through Soho when I slipped on a grape that had been dropped to the pavement. I went flying, but the worst of my injuries appeared to be a badly scrapped knee. I still bear a large scar. My lower back hurt, but I didn't think much of it.
Unfortunately, the lower back pain got worse. I have a great Osteopath, so went to see him. After a few treatments, when I realised that the pain wasn't so much in my back, as in my hips and across my pelvic bone, he diagnosed Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD). Pregnancy hormones help loosen the ligaments and joints in order to gain room for the baby to grow and for the actual birth. In some cases, the loosening can happen too soon and/or too much - in my case it was both, likely brought on by my slip and aggravating a prior injury. The ligament that joins the pelvic bone at the front was over-stretching and tearing. SPD isn't common, and isn't particularly well known. It probably helped that my Osteo is married to a midwife, and he suggested a Maternity Support Belt - not exactly the sexiest thing alive, but it helped. My GP had been fairly unhelpful up to this point, just putting it down to regular pregnancy heaviness, though he did later refer me to the hospital physiotherapist; my appointment was lost twice and the third appointment was eventually scheduled for after Pickle's due date.
I was - quite frankly - in agony. I only realise how bad it was now that I'm no longer in constant pain. I struggled to walk, and stairs were extremely difficult. Getting up out of a chair was a struggle - and this was before the third trimester "I've swallowed a watermelon" ensued. Living in a Victorian Terrace, which was also undergoing renovations, was less than a joy. If I left something upstairs it generally stayed there, or I'd ask BoyWonder to go and get it. While he was understanding, he couldn't really comprehend the extent of the pain, and eventually got fed-up with my constant requests. Now that I will happily go and grab something from upstairs he has realised I wasn't 'putting it on'.
While Transport for London kindly supply "Baby on Board" badges, there is a certain person - generally young, male and wearing a suit - who will spot the badge and proceed to avoid eye contact at all cost. I'm aware this is a sweeping generalisation, and was indeed offered seats by young men wearing suits during my pregnancy, but the number that fit the stereotype was laughable. Early on in my pregnancy, I stood right in front of one of these guys, who was also sitting in a priority seat. While I felt able to stand most days at this point in my pregnancy, I was getting a hot flash; it was -2 degrees Celsius outside, but I started stripping hat, gloves and scarf off and was fanning myself. Eventually I had to ask to sit down (there was a little old lady sitting next to him and I wasn't going to oust her from her seat!). He got up, but would it have killed him to offer? I gulped down my bottle of water I'd thankfully brought from home - I think I would have fainted if I hadn't sat down at that point. Standing on public transport with SPD though was ridiculous - I went three stops on the tube one day, and the act of balancing aggravated my pelvis so badly I was bed-ridden the following day. Out of necessity, I would be the one saying "excuse me would you mind if I sat down?" to someone youngish and healthy looking. I only had one person say no - well actually, the middle aged guy shouted "what, what!" in my face, and the chavvy looking guy sitting next to him that I thought would be unreceptive, hastily offered me his seat.
Years ago, my friend Joe studied hypnotherapy in London before returning to Australia. At the time he mentioned that one day when I was pregnant, I would have to look into hypnotherapy for giving birth. When telling him about Pickle, I asked him about it again. He gave me a few questions to ask, which freaked out the first consultant I contact whose response was, shall we say, less than positive. Luckily, I discovered Dany from Tums2Mums on Twitter, who was happy to answer my questions, and offered to meet BoyWonder and I prior to signing up for a HypnoBirthing course (which we started the following week). The techniques and mp3s Dany provided not only helped me to remain calm and focused during the birthing process (more on that in a later post), but also for the remainder of my pregnancy AND helped with pain control for the SPD. I was doing Pilates and yoga prior to becoming pregnant, and continued these for the duration of my pregnancy, which I'm sure helped with focus and calm... the latter not necessarily being one of my most natural states.
|Photo used with permission.|
Cheers, KangaRue :)