In the last couple of weeks my pregnant tummy has really popped out, so much so that even the lollipop lady said ‘congratulations!’ this morning as I walked my son to school. While I look and feel 24-weeks pregnant in every way it is still a struggle for me to accept those excited well wishes as easily as I did six years ago.
In 2010 when I was pregnant with Toby, I told just about anyone who would listen that we were expecting a baby by eight weeks. For better or for worse my husband and I were so darned excited it just made sense to tell those around us with our rationale being that that even if the pregnancy failed, we would want those same people to know and offer their support.
I might have been feeling nauseous and tired but I joyfully catalogued my physical changes with frequent side profile ‘bump pics’ on Facebook followed up with the 4D ultrasound scan photos. I would frequently moan to friends about feeling frumpy or laugh about weird food cravings and I read with enthusiasm books by supposed baby whisperers such as Gina Ford and Tizzie Hall.
Apart from the lack of alcohol and soft cheese, it was an exciting but tiring time and it is with a huge fondness for my old self and our relationship pre-baby that I look back at all of this. We might have been naïve but we were happy and full of hope for our future and I recognise that for many expectant couples or new parents, our joyful experience will sound familiar.
My current bump is to be our second baby but it is actually our fifth pregnancy. In the time between our first and our ‘second’ we have had three miscarriages and my eyes have been opened to the very different type of pregnancy that many women experience.
I wrote about my first very painful miscarriage in 2013 and immediately I began hearing from friends, colleagues and total strangers about their similar heartbreaking losses. As much as it is a ‘club’ I didn’t particularly want to belong to, being privy to other women’s private stories of miscarriage gave me so much more insight and empathy.
Where once those two pink lines appearing on a stick felt simple and joyful, I began to see how much more complex it can be. Pregnancy is no less beautiful or miraculous but it can also be frustrating, painful, anxiety-inducing and devastating.
Watch: the comments women get after a miscarriage.