The first trimester of any pregnancy is always a challenge. There’s the nausea/morning sickness, getting used to the swathe of hormones that are rushing through your body and the hit-the-wall and then some tiredness. There’s also the question of when you tell people you’re expecting.
Telling my little boy I was pregnant
Anyone with a three-year-old boy will know how mummy, daddy, in fact any nearby relative is not only a safe place for cuddles and story time – they also double-up as a handy climbing frame. With this in mind, it was important that we told Elliott that mummy’s tummy was off-limits for a while and, as he always wants the full story, why that was. We found a brilliant book called ‘There’s a House Inside my Mummy’ which explained the situation perfectly, with humour, lovely illustrations and just the right amount of detail. He seemed to take the news well. I think it helped that the majority of his friends had recently had second siblings, so he kind of knew what to expect. From the offset he was very vocal on his preference to have a brother, rather than a sister though. Eek!
Once we had told Elliott, we knew we had to tell our immediate family. Another quality of three-year-olds is they’re not known for their ability to keep secrets!
Early pregnancy bleeding
Sadly, I have little recollection of telling my family about baby number two because the news was somewhat overshadowed by an anxious few weeks. The first trimester hit me hard this time around. Maybe it was having a toddler in tow and working full time? Maybe it was because I was 38 and hadn’t prepared for this pregnancy as well as I had my first. Either way I felt tired to the point of exhaustion. Some mornings I felt dizzy and as though I was going to pass out. I had stomach upsets, felt cold and shaky some days, pale and frazzled and then the cherry on top… I started bleeding. Not a heavy bleed, just spotting, but enough for me to be concerned. Mr H wondered if I might be anaemic. I had suffered with anaemia after giving birth to Elliott and the symptoms I was experiencing now were similar. Plus, if I was losing blood, it was the perfect storm to make me feel like shit.
I went to see the doctor and explained what was going on. She did little to dispel my worries and simply told me that, “Pregnancy at 38 is quite different to pregnancy at 35” which was probably why I was feeling so tired. She also told me that I didn’t “look anaemic” and that “I couldn’t be anaemic at this stage of pregnancy, only after I had delivered”, then sent me on my way with another pregnancy test to ensure I was still pregnant. Although, no instructions as to what to do if that test came back as negative. I hurried to the bathroom at the GPs surgery to take the test before heading back to work, praying it would still be positive. Thankfully it was, but I felt like I hadn’t been taken seriously. I soldiered on. What else could I do?
Thankfully, my first appointment with the midwife a couple of weeks later was better. I was under the care of the same super-star midwife as I had with Elliott and she listened to my concerns fully. When I told her the experience I had had with the GP, she immediately looked disgusted and suggested she might educate them. After all, what does an anaemic person look like? If you can’t be anaemic during pregnancy why do they test for that during the blood tests? And, most importantly (and worryingly) all early pregnancy bleeding should be taken seriously and investigated; not shrugged off. My midwife booked me in for an early pregnancy scan to ensure everything was as it should be. She was optimistic, but cautious. After all, I had been bleeding for close on three weeks now, albeit a small – but regular – amount.
Telling my family I was pregnant
Weirdly, my boss ended up knowing I was pregnant before my close family. With the increased time out of the office for doctors, midwife and now scan appointments, it was important that he understood what was going on. I was worried about telling him. I’d recently had a promotion in the company, so the timing perhaps wasn’t great. I needn’t have worried. In fact, I discovered that his wife was also expecting and due around the same time as me.
Telling family is a bit of a blur. We told them just ahead of our early pregnancy scan, so the announcement felt like it came with an asterisk and terms and conditions attached. Kind of, “I’m pregnant, but I’m bleeding, so it could all go horribly wrong.”
My early pregnancy scan
Mother Nature is a cruel woman and in the lead up to my scan I had some days where I felt fully pregnant and others where I convinced myself that I’d lost the baby. Some days my boobs were full and sore; the next deflated and back to their pre-pregnancy self. Some days the blood was fine and others it looked as though there were large chunks of baby encased in it. I tried to remain hopeful.
On the day of my early pregnancy scan I rocked up to the hospital with a full bladder and a heavy heart. I was called through to the first office to confirm my details and have my blood pressure taken. Then back to the waiting room with other worried looking women with hope in their eyes. One couple came out of a room and high-fived each other, before self-consciously looking around at the other people waiting who were hoping for good news too.
Next up, I was called through to see a nurse. Her sing-song voice was supposed to sound sympathetic, but it grated on me. She took some more details and some history of my pregnancy so far. Then I returned to the waiting room and I waited and waited and waited and waited. By the time I was called through to my scan I was almost more concerned that I was going to wet myself than the results of the scan, but I clenched every pelvic muscle I had and headed into the scan room with hope and fear.
I’d never had a scan where you can’t see the screen before, so that immediately filled me with dread. I waited for the sonographer to speak as she scanned over my tummy. All was good, there was a yolk sac, a heart beat. I was so relieved. Baby was OK and I got to empty my now overly full bladder – woo hoo!
You would have thought that would have been the end of the appointment but instead we were ushered back into the waiting room before seeing ‘singy-songy nurse’ again. Her voice less condescending this time as she explained that sometimes they simply didn’t know what caused early pregnancy bleeding but to monitor it going forward.
Two days later the bleeding stopped…
Other challenges of the first trimester, second time around
I was so excited that my scan had come back as OK that I wanted to shout about my pregnancy from the rooftops. I told close friends as I saw them – after all, if I was visiting them with Elliott it was unlikely that my secret would stay that way for long. For work colleagues and Facebook friends, I wanted to wait until the 12-week scan just to be sure.
This waiting game in itself proved difficult. Second time around my pregnancy belly popped much earlier so floaty clothes and walking around clutching pieces of paper in front of my tummy were the only ways to disguise it. I clocked that two female members of staff were transfixed with my stomach and did a double and then triple take when I went to speak to them. The only saving grace was that I didn’t know them well enough for them to ask the direct question.
Fortunately, no one spotted the bump on this photo!
Eating was difficult. Although I was lucky enough to escape full on morning sickness, I had a low level of nausea all through the first trimester and trying to keep this from colleagues was hard. I sometimes looked pale, other times I needed to gorge on dry food to prevent the nausea. Then there was the question of coffee. I am a fierce caffeine drinker, but had to cut back. I feigned that I was cutting back to help to cure migraines and fortunately my team were convinced.
I also developed a blocked Eustachian tube which was incredibly painful. It’s something I’ve suffered with before and usually take strong painkillers for. Of course, being pregnant all I could do was apply a warm compress, sniff Olbas Oil and take paracetamol. I was in pain, I was tired, I was pissed off. I felt like a crap mum to Elliott as I put, yet another, Disney film on for him to watch as I didn’t have the energy to play. But at least I was pregnant.
It’s worth noting that whilst this was all going on, we were also in the midst of buying a house. As I mentioned in my previous update we had already had a couple of houses fall through on us. Now we had secured our dream home and all was good on paper. However, there was massive complications in terms of agreeing a move date with vendors on all sides causing us stress. Not what you need when you’re in the early stages of pregnancy really, but we knew it would all come good in the end, hopefully…
My 12 week scan
My 12 week scan was scheduled for the first week in January. My team in the office were now becoming concerned with the amount of time I was spending at medical appointments and had started asking questions, which I skilfully dodged.
The scan went well. I was waiting for less time. Baby seemed well, although was measuring a little ahead of what was predicted. My due date was moved ahead by a week and the extra screening I had opted for wasn’t possible as the baby was outside of the measurements for this. I practically skipped out of the hospital clutching my ultra-sound scans and was so relieved to head into the office the following week and come clean. I even wore some bump hugging clothes – just because I could.
Read my other pregnancy updates here: