When I found out that I was pregnant with my daughter Letoya, I was 24 years old. By modern standards, that is considered quite young. I had always thought that I would be in my 30s if I even had any children, as establishing a career and experiencing life was important to me. Yes, I had done my share of travelling, partying, socialising and self-exploration, but I really hadn’t anticipated that I would have a baby at this age. I still felt very young.
I was overjoyed with the news of course, in ways I hadn’t even thought possible. Having been someone that had barely even held a baby, I was also nervous of what was to follow.
The first three months were not easy by any means. I could barely eat anything, especially anything sweet. Now, I am unable to function in the morning without a cup of tea. I have probably had one every morning since I was around 12 (let’s just say a looooooong time!). The very smell of anything sweet made me sick, so that meant no tea, and a grumpy, snappy me. I survived on crackers, digestive biscuits, dry pasta and cereal. Much to everyone’s assumption that you ‘eat for two’, I was eating far less than I had done previously and had lost a considerable amount of weight.
With loss of appetite and loss of weight came a huge slump in my energy levels. I was commuting into work at the time and left home around 5:45. By the time I arrived for a 9am start, I was struggling to function. I had a whole day ahead of me and no real coping mechanism. It was a hard time, but I got through with a lot of sleep and rest whenever I could get it.
When the first trimester draw to a close, my appetite slowly returned, along with my energy levels. In fact, I had a huge burst of energy and enthusiasm, which was bolstered by a growing excitement for the baby that was growing inside of me. I started shopping for Letoya (neutrals only at this point) and planning the nursery that would be hers. The second trimester was the best time of my pregnancy. Around five months I started to show a little and it all seemed real!
The third trimester started out wonderfully. I was still relatively small in size and wasn’t suffering from some of the physical ailments that many women do during pregnancy. I had made sure that I stayed as active as possible and I genuinely believed this was invaluable. My body, externally anyway, changed very little until I was 7 months pregnant.
The last two months, I grew very fast indeed. My energy again slumped but I still had a unshakeable determination to make sure that everything was perfect ready for Letoya’s impending arrival. I wanted to sleep and rest, but there was simply too much to do and too much to organise! In the last days before the ‘big day’ I grew a little grumpy as I went past my due date, with no signs that labour was close. When it finally happened, from my waters breaking to my contractions to the final push, Letoya was born one hour later. I had a very easy labour!
With Ethan I was 30 years old when I found out I was pregnant. I was a lot more prepared for what was in store this time. The first trimester was a breeze. I can’t really find a more fitting word to describe it. I had no sickness, no tiredness, just pure energy and pure joy. It was a complete parallel (physically) from my first pregnancy. I was fearing the onset of sickness but it never arrived.
The second trimester was very similar to the first. It went by quickly and without any hiccups. Having a full time job and a family kept me busy and on my feet constantly. It was again, around seven months when I finally started showing. I know much can be attributed to genetics, but I kept a balanced diet and an active lifestyle and this really helped me.
I had always thought, until the third trimester, that I would be prepared and ready for anything that would come my way. I had an easy birth with Letoya, so I wasn’t dreading labour as much as some do. But around eight months I developed a growing anxiety about labour starting quickly, and there being no one around to help.
Whilst Google is at times our best friend, at others it is our worst. I spent hours (as most expectant mums do), scouring the internet looking for information on second births. Most of these explained that their second labours were even quicker than their first. This absolutely terrified me. Without trivialising the experience, I was genuinely concerned that I would be alone, unable to get anywhere or to any help in time. Dan kept his phone close at all times and didn’t go too far from home.
Three weeks before my due date, during a routine midwife appointment, my midwife noticed that Letoya was a small baby (at 6lbs 2) and as such, I should have had more regular scans and closer monitoring. I was quickly booked in for a 37 week scan, during which It was discovered that my waters were at a dangerously low level. The midwife left the room to speak to the doctor, as it was looking like I would have to be induced.
Dan and I sat anxiously waiting, for what seemed like an eternity. The midwife came in and advised that I would have to be induced. I will never forget that moment, with Dan responding, ‘What, now?’. The midwife reassured us that it wouldn’t happen immediately, but in three days time!
To some extent this eased my fears of being alone when labour begins. But it prompted a strange feeling, that I was being robbed of the excitement that comes with the onset of labour. I rationalised this by reminding myself that I could clean the house, make sure Letoya was with her Nanny and have some dinners prepped for the coming days. And there was the added bonus that I could make sure I had shaved my legs and wash my hair!
The morning of the induction, we arrived at the hospital at 9 am, and was induced at 12. It was a good six hours until I had any labour pains. Much to my surprise I didn’t have the 1 hour labour I was expecting. Four hours after my first pain began, Ethan was born. Whilst this was not the one hour labour I had with Letoya, it was still relatively quick. I really had been lucky!
What can I say about my experiences of pregnancy in my 20’s compared to pregnancy in my 30’s? Well, I really can’t draw any conclusive points. Physically my pregnancy in my 30’s was a lot easier on my body. I had a lot more energy and my body coped a lot better with its demands, in contrary to the statistics which are displayed all over the internet. I had kept physically active during both, maintaining a healthy diet, which I am sure helped in both cases. Some say that women carry girls different to the way in which they carry boys? Maybe there is some truth to this, maybe not. However, there are so many contributing factors which dictate how you and your body will react to pregnancy. To say that one rule fits all would be irresponsible. What I would say, is that keeping your body healthy and carrying out a good amount of research into what to expect, really helped me prepare for what was to come. Worry is unavoidable, but education is the best form of preparation.
Women, you are all strong, unique and amazing. Designed to create and carry another life. This in itself is a miracle, irrespective of age.