Pregnancy & childbirth: expectation vs. reality
In my first antenatal class, we were asked to write down what we expected from labour and childbirth based on what we’ve ever heard or seen in films, tv shows etc. While we knew that expectation would be very different from reality, I didn’t realise quite how much. I know every woman has her own unique experience and so will be completely different to mine, but I thought I’d share just how much my reality differed from expectations…
Expectation: I’d barely be able to leave the bathroom. I’d wake up every morning and sprint to the toilet and spend the first three months of pregnancy in a queasy haze.
Reality: I think I was sick once. I also didn’t find out I was expecting until I was about six weeks, so I was obviously lucky enough not to spend my mornings throwing up. I did however feel incredibly nauseous for the first three months, and found I could only eat small portions of food.
Expectation: I’d put on some weight, sure, but it would all be bump.
Reality: I put on a lot of weight. The whole eating-for-two thing is not something you need to do when you’re pregnant, but I definitely took advantage of the chance to eat and not worry about my weight. Mostly it was just bump (he was a veeeeery big baby) but it wasn’t until after giving birth that I realised just how swollen I was – I lost sight of my ankles around month 7, and wearing rings was no long an option!
Baby on board
Expectation: I’d wear my Baby on Board badge and always be given a seat on the train.
Reality: Hahahahaha. No. Don’t get me wrong, I was offered a seat quite a lot, but I was amazed at how often people would bury their heads in the paper or their phone and ignore me. Once a guy said to me: “I’m getting off in a couple of stops, you can have my seat then.” Throughout a lot of my pregnancy I was actually more comfortable standing, but the last couple of months when I was basically an uncoordinated whale and it was the height of summer (granted, an English summer but believe me you get hot when carrying around an extra human) I found that the only way to get a seat was to ask. Or stare people down until they realised they could no longer avoid my ginormous bump.
Expectation: Something dramatic. I’d be walking in a shop and they would spectacularly break all over the floor and it would be mortifying but so exciting because I’d know that the baby was coming.
Reality: They didn’t break at all. I had to have them broken for me a few hours after labour had started, plus Dougie had pooped in the waters so…that was lovely 😛
Expectation/hope: I’d go into labour (after a dramatic water breaking as mentioned above) – ideally around 9am so I would have had a good nights sleep first, and then I’d have a lovely water birth with a nice, calm midwife talking me through it.
Reality: Just gone midnight…middle of the night drive to the hospital in a panic…contractions kicking in around 3am…I was however lucky enough to be given a birthing suite with a lovely pool – that part exceeded my expectations – however after an hour or so of splashing around, the baby was coming and they couldn’t find his heartbeat, cue a dash to an emergency delivery room being surrounded by doctors. Not ideal, but you just have to get on with it.
Expectation: Pain…screaming…more pain…but everything would hopefully go to plan.
Reality: I can’t pretend it wasn’t painful, it really was, but I was lucky enough to be able to do it all with just gas and air for contractions, then I did the whole pushing part with nothing – although I remember being offered paracetemol…not sure that would cut it. I repeatedly told myself that it would be over soon, that it was the smallest part of the pregnancy and that at the end of it I would have a baby boy in my arms, and to be honest, the whole thing was pretty much a blur, which I’m grateful for as we had a bit of a scare. Also apparently I barely made any noise whatsoever – I do remember being told that screaming wasted energy and my god do you need your energy! I had a birth plan as I said, but I told myself to not get fixated on it as you don’t know what might happen. You can read my birth story here.
Expectation: Exhausting, challenging, terrifying…
Reality: All of the above, and completely and utterly worth it.