I wasn’t planning on becoming pregnant, and when I did it became less of a celebration and more of a waiting game, counting down the days until the next milestone.
Days and days of repeated pregnancy tests until I could get a GP appointment, then more days waiting for a scan. The scan was shocking, I was sure it couldn’t be true.
After that came the announcement and then the fear…now I’ve told people what happens if “something” happens?
A colleague (actually there were 6 pregnant colleagues at the time) was pregnant following a lot of time and treatment, and 2 friends of mine (both of whom have since had babies) had struggled for years and almost given up hope of pregnancy, so I really understand how lucky we were to become pregnant so easily. However, it didn’t feel amazing, I just felt scared and guilty.
How was it that having never even had a pregnancy scare I fell pregnant so easily?
What did this mean?
Would something happen to the baby?
Did I really deserve this?
When people asked me if I was looking forward to the baby it was difficult, I hadn’t really wanted one so it was hard to get excited about it. Yes we had agreed we would have a baby at some point, but the timing wasn’t great, having just moved into a derelict house we didn’t get planning permission until January 2013 (I was due in April) so we were living in difficult conditions and then had a race on to get somewhere suitable for a baby in time. Financially it was always going to be difficult, but coming at a time when expenses were so significant was a bit of a nightmare. I remember a midwife coming round to take an urgent blood test and having to let her into our room which was piled high with boxes and had a curtain over the door to try and keep the dust down, I was convinced she would report me to social services!
I spent so much time stressing over the house and finances that having a baby to stress about wasn’t ideal. I remember dozens of sleepless nights worrying about high blood pressure and the birth before I got myself signed up to pregnancy yoga and antenatal classes.
I was convinced that because we had it so easy something was bound to go wrong.
After each midwife appointment I would wait anxiously for the next one, even when they became fortnightly I would start counting down to the next appointment on my walk home. I didn’t feel my baby move until very late. He was clearly nocturnal as he could go all day with not even a flutter until about 1am when he would have a jiggle for half an hour or so then go back to silence. It was only when I was quite far along that I could rely on any sort of movement, even the tricks of cold water recommended by the midwives didn’t frighten him into movement! Generally my pregnancy was really easy, which should have made me relax and feel better…but it didn’t. It was just another nail in the box convincing me that something was bound to go wrong.
With hindsight and having spoken to other mums and read other blogs, I wonder if pregnancy guilt is in fact something that just comes to us all, however we become pregnant, for whatever reason and in whatever circumstance. I have a friend who was trying for a baby for a few months and when she did fall pregnant she didn’t realise and had attended a party and drunk alcohol. It was easy for me, an outsider, to reassure her that she shouldn’t feel guilty, having lived a healthy and active lifestyle for six months while trying to fall pregnant then having 2 G&Ts when you think you’re not is NOT a reason to feel guilty. Now, however, I can appreciate why she felt so bad about it.
Perhaps it’s the pregnancy hormones, or a sudden realisation of the wonder of the human body, or a massive reality check, or simply a practice run for the guilt that is to follow as a parent! But I do think something sets off the guilt mechanism for a lot of women during pregnancy, at a time when one less stress really should be the order of the day.