Things I Didn’t Expect When I Was Expecting (And Shortly Afterward)
Pregnancy and parenting is just one giant cliché. It’s just a whole reason for people to throw their experiences at you like bowling balls that you aren’t expecting to have to catch when you’re just making a cup of tea or buying milk.
“I carried low with my son, it must be a boy!”
“You will forget all of the morning sickness when you hold him in your arms for the first time”
“Boys are lazy, he will be late”
Truth, big fat lie and unfortunately truth. Honestly, everyone’s experiences are so varied that telling someone what will happen is like charlatan psychics having a guess that someone in the room lost a relative called “Mary” when they were little. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
Nevertheless, despite everyone’s font of knowledge, I still occurred some things in pregnancy and antenatally that I absolutely did not expect.
1. Pregnancy tumours. What the actual fuck?! We go through ALL that shit of sickness, immobility, surging (raging) hormones, pains, discomfort, fear and vulnerability to come out at the end with a very unwelcome growth? No. Evolution needs to get it’s act together and fix this one. I was terrified. Mine came in the form of a small blood blister on the end of my big toe on my right foot. I noticed it hadn’t gone away after a few weeks so I inspected it closer and noticed it wasn’t just blood, there was extra flesh in there too. It had been so long since I’d seen my toes due to River being nestled in my belly that I have no clue how long I had actually had this alien forming. When I could finally inspect it properly I was horrified and saw a doctor who confirmed it looked like a “pyrosomething something something” and not to worry about it unless it grew rapidly.
Bastarding thing grew rapidly, it grew from 2mm in width and barely the height of a full stop to 10mm by 5mm in 4 days. I panicked and called the doctor who said she would refer me to a skin specialist. I then panicked because they said they had a waiting list. I cried to the poor receptionist and told her I was terrified it was skin cancer and that I had just harvested a child and didn’t want this to be the end of my days. I panicked when the poor woman took pity on me and rushed me through to have it seen – in my head being rushed through meant that it was clearly fatal.
It turned out to be just a pyogenic granuloma and I really didn’t need to be so scared, but it’s something I had never heard of. I feel particularly lucky that mine manifested on my toe as after my intensive research into the subject I am now aware that the more preferred spawning ground is inside the mouth. Nice.
2. Hyperemesis gravidarum – or as I like to call it “Super Morning Sickness” except instead of feeling like a hero you feel like when the villain gets squashed by the Acme anvil. I had h.g. for my whole pregnancy bar about 6 weeks in the middle where I managed to finally start eating again. I developed a strong appetite for jam donuts and frosties during this time. I vividly remember driving past a Tesco Express and doing a sharp u-turn in the road to go and get a pack of 5 donuts only to sob at the bakery stand when they didn’t have any. I sobbed into the 4 pack of chocolate chip muffins I ate on the way home and found a co-op that did have some. There was actually only one bag left and a child was eyeing them up so I snatched them away.
Whilst I didn’t have the worst case of h.g. modern medicine has ever seen it was pretty bad and I am in no rush to repeat it any time soon. I like being able to brush my teeth without gagging being able to walk more than 5ft away from a bucket or toilet.
3. A double episiotomy – yes. That’s right. Two snips to get the giant boulder out. No one tells you when you’re packing for your hospital bag and you’re putting in your giant pillow sanitary towels its because some random doctor (with what might as well have been a boxcutter) is going to cut you open horizontally and vertically. It wasn’t the pain that was the worst to deal with, it was the healing and the embarrassment of asking some poor woman who had just started her shift on the ward to check your stitches because you sneezed and felt them ping open like a till drawer. *Shudder*
4. Post Natal Depression – not me. Frankie. It was about 12 weeks in that I realised I was losing her. She became distant and forgetful. She eventually became obsessed with her health and mortality and would repeat herself over and over again about phantom symptoms she thought she was having. She was convinced she was going to die. I got her to a doctor and after some cajoling we discovered a combination of new baby and life stresses were pulling her down. She had to take time away from work and adjust to our new life. It wasn’t that she was upset with River, or angry at him for being here it was just all so new and overwhelming. I put so much on her to cope with that I couldn’t see she was drowning until it was almost too late. Whilst I laugh and joke my way through life, sometimes its important to talk about what really matters. I’m lucky to have Frankie, she is my rock and I take for granted how much she carries for us all as a family. I’m just grateful she took the right steps to get the help she needed and get back on track. Mental health has no prejudice and can hit anyone at any time. Stay safe out there.
5. That first poo – His, not mine. I was stuck in hospital for a bit after River was born and on day 3 a Midwife came in to speak to me to see how things were going. I casually mentioned that River had lots of wet nappies and when prompted about dirty nappies I said “no, not yet” and she nearly snapped her neck. Apparently this was unusual but he didn’t seem in pain and he was feeding like a trouper. I thought nothing of it but every few hours someone would come in and ask if he’d had a poo yet. “No” I repeated. When he did finally let go a couple of days later it was during a routine nappy change after a feed so he was bare bummed. I saw it happen and it was this terrifying black tar erupting from my babies backside. Once I got over the shock I realised it was normal meconium I got to business of assisting my new best friend to keep his dignity. I held up his legs and moved the nappy underneath him down the bed a bit so he had a clean canvas. But more kept coming, and more. And more. Some doctors came in to lie to me as to why I couldn’t go home yet (they were keeping my prisoner) and I wasn’t even listening, I was just watching 9 months of amniotic fluid snake across the bed. They didn’t even notice it happening as I move 3 whole nappies down the conveyor belt. It was at this point that I realised being a mum was gross, but unexpectedly intriguingly gross.
Written by Stephany Donaghy-Sims for her blog, The Milky Gay.