Where is my glow?

Friday 15 September 2017

‘Pregnancy glow’
“the radiant, flawless glow that's supposed to come with pregnancy.”


I don’t think I’m going to know what the “pregnancy glow” is. But I’m glad I’m no longer lying on the bathroom floor to feel the cold tiles or craving some sort of cold chocolate drink for comfort.


Over the first trimester I think I managed to brush my hair once. I didn’t care about my appearance, it was hard enough getting up to have a shower. Sometimes I needed Ben to stand there next to me in-case I felt like I was going to faint. I didn’t do any house-work (and I’m a neat freak, who cleans the bath every week). I felt weak, miserable and lost. What killed me the most, I felt guilty. I was pregnant, without IVF, something I’d wanted my entire life – yet I was hating every minute of it.


I cried almost every day, calling my mum asking when it was going to get better. “Any day now,” she’d say. “Any day you’ll wake up and you’ll feel great.” I remained hopeful, but I felt weak, unmotivated and was verging on depressed. No matter how hard I tried to be excited and enjoy being pregnant, the nausea took over.


I tried everything in the nausea combating books – ginger, acupuncture wrist bands, acupuncture, essential oils, peppermint etc. I ended up at A and E, admitting defeat and asking for some anti-nausea pills. The first night I took one, I vomited it straight back up. What makes it even better – vomiting is my biggest fear, I will do anything to stop myself. I’ve never drunk enough alcohol to vomit and I hadn’t been sick since I’d had food poisoning in 2011. The most relief I got was from sucking on lemons – I went through a phase of taking them everywhere I went.


The first trimester was a mind fuck. I had to completely change my relationship with food, and as someone who’d just overcome an eating disorder - that was hard. I wanted to eat salads and give the baby lots of nutrients to grow. But I couldn’t, I couldn’t even drink water. So I switched to apple juice, then diluted that. Then I could only drink ice cold water through a straw (talk about precious)!


I pretty much lived of fruit toast, crackers and cheese, chocolate milkshakes and frappes and grapes. Not food I’d usually pick to eat, and food that made me constipated and sometimes gave me severe stomach cramps. But I had to step back and go, “listen to your body, eat what you can – because you need to eat.” I’d find myself walking around the supermarket asking myself, “can I stomach that?” I went through a week where all I craved were potatoes – hash browns, fried, wedges. Then the next week I couldn’t stand them. After throwing up a roast pork I’d made Ben cook, I stopped eating meat (and haven’t eaten it since).


I stopped CrossFitting and didn’t exercise at all over the first 16 weeks (I felt pretty guilty about that too). I simply got up, went to work, came home and went straight to bed. I didn’t even make it work every day, but luckily I have an incredible boss who let me work from home when I needed to. My co-workers thought my endometriosis was playing up (so no-one suspected a thing).


I neglected Embracing It – because I had to think about where I was investing the little energy I had. When friends who knew I was pregnant asked me how I was going, my reply was, “I’m just trying to function.” And I was battling to do that.


Over 18 per cent of New Zealand women experience depressive symptoms during pregnancy. With approximately 60,000 births every year, that equates to nearly 10,000 women who have their health comprised because of antenatal depression. I find this fascinating, and see how easily it can happen. Because it’s something I’m conscious of, I signed up to be a part of a study with Massey University which poses the question - Could sleep disruption during pregnancy trigger depression? It’s looking to measure the sleep and mental health of new mothers throughout their pregnancy to determine what effect sleep disruption has on depression. The study involves measuring sleep for six weeks (two weeks in each trimester) by wearing a special watch-like device and filling out sleep diaries. I’ve now completed four weeks – so will share the results as I get them.


I got the flu twice and ended up in hospital on one occasion. It was the LONGEST three months of my life, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat.


I’m feeling a lot better now – and hoping it’ll stay this way for a little while. I’m at least, hoping my boobs will stop growing! I have a whole new level of respect for all the mums out there.


Thanks to husband Ben, who became my full-time primary carer!