*I stole that line from Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation. I’m not actually dying. Although some days it feels like I am.
37 weeks and 3 days. I’m doing great. Or so people keep telling me. “Almost there,” I’ve heard so often that now I often repeat it to myself when I’m struggling. And boy, these past few weeks have I been struggling?!
I was written off work at 32 weeks because I’ve been suffering with really bad pelvic and back pain and my job involves standing constantly. There isn’t much they can do for that except tell you to deal with it. Which is a common theme in pregnancy. Your doctor will listen as you explain the graphic, gorey details of your latest crippling symptom and she will merely give you a sympathetic smile and say ‘yeah, that’s pregnancy’ or my favourite ‘it should go away once you have the baby’. Oh thanks, shall I cross my fingers?
I feel constantly guilty about complaining. This baby is so wanted and we were so lucky to get pregnant so fast after we started trying and the first two trimesters really were not so bad – I got off lightly! – but this third trimester, fuckin hell!
It started with the back and pelvic pain. I could manage to get myself through work most days but once I got home and sat down, I’d be crying out every time I had to get up to use the bathroom (which, in case you have never been pregnant, is quite often!). On days off, I would try to go to the shops to pick up some bits for my hospital bag and within fifteen minutes, I’d be begging whatever poor soul was with me if we could go home because my back was killing me. I’d shuffle out to the car looking like I shit myself when in reality, it was just the pain preventing me from walking like a normal person. Since being signed off, I have found that resting has really helped although I rarely even attempt to brave the shops or leave the house much at all now, to be honest.
Then, the morning of my baby shower, my ankles disappeared. I decided to wear a dress – I use the term ‘decided’ really loosely because when you get to this stage of pregnancy, it really is slim pickings on what fits. As it has gotten harder to even see my toes, it had been a while since I had shaved my legs but I awkwardly got myself into a position to do so and noticed that my ankles had disappeared. It went straight from calf to foot. Despite reading online that keeping your feet elevated, drinking lots of fluids and resting should prevent this, my ankles have not been seen since. They are swollen from the time I wake up in the morning until I fall asleep at night, never deflating. I hope they return from the war once this baby arrives.
And speaking of swelling, I was sitting watching TV one night and started to wonder if my fingers were swollen. They were feeling a little tight and stiff so I took a look but I didn’t notice any major difference. I have bizarrely small hands anyway so they constantly look a little chubby. I then decided to attempt to remove my engagement and wedding rings, knowing that if I ended up having to go for a c-section in the hospital, I would have to take them off anyway. They wouldn’t budge. My finger turned purple. I had images of some doctor cutting them off my bulging digit. It took me a week of trying everything from running my hand under ice cold water to lubricating it with anything slippery I could find but I eventually got them off in the shower. Thankfully.
And one of the weirder ones – full facial swelling. Sure, I’d heard of swollen ankles from pregnancy but nobody prepared me to wake up one day with a face like a balloon. Luckily this isn’t a symptom that I have had to live with on the daily but it has happened on three or four occasions now. I will wake up in the morning with a face so puffy, I barely recognise myself. My eyes look tiny in my burgeoning face, my lips look like real plumped-up influencer lips (although if they want to stay that way, I’m so down!), my cheeks are even more chipmunk than usual. One positive (because let’s face it when you’re blowing up like Violet Beauregarde after eating that gum at the chocolate factory, you need to look on the brightside) was that my nose inflated which, while not necessarily a good thing, made it look incredibly straight!
Then the sickness came back. I thought I left that back in the first trimester but surprise! Who wants to be constantly nauseous all the time again?! Along with that came an entire night spent sitting on the loo with a quick pause in those proceedings to throw up. I found myself Googling that to see if it meant something and countless forums informed me that it can be your body’s way of clearing out before labour starts. Sadly I was not so lucky and when I asked my doctor, she gave me the old ‘pregnancy’ smile.
Speaking of Google, if you look at my internet history over the last eight months, it pretty much looks like this:
36 weeks pregnant vomitting
35 weeks pregnant nausea
34 weeks pregnant back pain
33 weeks pregnant upper back pain when eating
32 weeks pregnant swollen ankles………..etc.
The results are a heap load of forums where other pregnant women have been frantically asking if these symptoms are normal and dozens of women rush to assure them that they experienced the very same or even asked their doctors about it. Their doctors usually assure them it’s just – you guessed it – “pregnancy” *smile*. These forums have gotten me through my entire pregnancy though so they’re brilliant. I’ve never even needed to join one or ask a question myself as it seems someone has always been through it before.
All of my above symptoms may be quite standard and you may have gone through them yourself before or known someone who has but I would imagine this next one is going to be a little rarer because I couldn’t find a forum about it!
Back in January, I noticed a little spot on my scalp, near my face but in my hairline. It looked like your average blemish and me, being the little picker I am, attempted to pick it off. It bled a little and I forgot about it. Over the next day or so, it got scabby and I picked the scab. It bled again and I forgot about it just as quickly. Fast forward a few days when myself and B were taking a road trip to County Clare for our ‘babymoon’. We were in a hot car and were having an argument as we pulled into the car park at the Cliffs of Moher. Next thing I know, I’ve accidentally knocked the scab off that silly little spot once more only this time, the blood started to run down my face and neck. I mean, this tiny spot was pouring! I ended up using my scarf to mop it up. It didn’t really scare me. Pregnant people produce about 50% more blood than non-pregnant people. Superficial wounds on your head tend to bleed more than on almost anywhere else on your body. The car was warm which gets blood pumping. I assumed it was a combination of all these things that had this tiny blemish gush blood. I was careful not to touch it again.
The next morning I woke up in the hotel room to find my pillow covered in blood from where I lay on it. I managed to reopen it in the shower the next day when washing my hair. I really went out of my way to avoid touching it after that and eventually it healed – although not entirely – it healed into a weird wart looking thing, similar to a skin tag. I presumed it would go away entirely.
Then a few weeks later, my scalp was itchy (nowhere near the original spot) and I scratched it. Next thing you know, I’m covered in blood and tadah! it’s my little spot’s best mate which again eventually healed into some sort of mole thing.
A third came up on the back of my arm and just this week, I’ve developed a fourth, this one on my temple. I was hoping this was just another pregnancy thing but my husband and family urged me to ask the doctor as they were worried. Guess what…. pregnancy! *smile*
With a little over two weeks to go, I seem to be getting a new symptom every day so hopefully there are less than twenty new ailments before I meet her. This week, the bloated face is my most common symptom and I have been so exhausted every morning that I have taken at least two naps a day. In fact, I haven’t left the house this week. I’ve just gotten up, had breakfast, napped, had lunch, napped, had dinner, watched TV, slept – and repeated.She has also dropped this week, meaning I have period cramps on and off every few hours and when I walk it feels like she’s hanging halfway out…and have I mentioned the acne on my neck?
Yet as everyone keeps reminding me, I’m almost there. I can do this.