Morning sickness is often the most obvious symptom (or side effect) of pregnancy. But it’s also very misleading. 24/7 sickness would be more accurate.
Of course I am delighted to be pregnant and willing to take on any of the unpleasant side effects if it results in a healthy baby (so please no comments about how I should just be grateful – I know I’m incredibly lucky!), but it can be a struggle to stay positive when you have spent weeks carrying around a sick bucket like a handbag.
I thought I had it bad in my first two pregnancies. With Izzy I was sick once or twice a day, every day for 14 weeks straight. With Clara it was the same but for 11 weeks. But otherwise I felt quite well and still managed to go to work and carry on as usual. This time, as soon as I hit 7 weeks pregnant I started throwing up several times a day. Occasionally I’d have a good day, but other days I could be sick 6 or 7 times. Even on the “good” days I just felt exhausted. It’s like having a constant hangover – even down to the room spin and the shakes.
Food lost its usual appeal. I was still eating plenty when I could, save for a few days where I couldn’t keep anything down at all, but most food and drink just didn’t appeal to me or the thought or smell made me feel ill. Even opening the fridge would make me physically sick. I survived mainly on cereal and toast for a few weeks, and the odd McDonald’s as that is just the ultimate fix-me food when I’m not feeling great (same for hangovers!).
It hit me like a ton of bricks this time – no energy, disturbed sleep and feeling lightheaded. I was off work for 5 weeks during the worst of it and when I did have to leave the house during that time I’d feel really anxious that I was going to throw up in public. It’s not “just a bit of morning sickness”, like it’s some quaint little illness that befalls otherwise healthy and glowing mums to be for half an hour each morning. And no, ginger won’t help! (Or at least, it didn’t help me.) It’s debilitating, and to be perfectly honest, it made me feel really quite low. I could go for days without setting foot outside the house, and because it was pre-12 week scan I couldn’t really explain to people what was wrong or why I was being so quiet.
However I could have had it worse. It eased off about 13 weeks, although I’ve had some days since then when I’ve been sick, and I do feel tired a lot of the time (although that could be more to do with being pregnant while having two other children to look after!) The heat at the moment isn’t helping either! The 12 and 20 week scans showed everything is going well so far, and now I’m 28 weeks and feel so much better. I don’t think I’ll ever quite hit the glowing phase though, or at least I certainly don’t feel like I’m glowing!
It affects everyone in different ways and what might help some people might not work for others. I just listened to my body and ate what I fancied and avoided things I didn’t, including tea and coffee which I went off completely for a few months. Smells were a big trigger for me – I avoided cutting raw meat or emptying the bin as that would set me off, and bending down or standing up too quickly could also take me from feeling fine to throwing up in seconds. Tiredness made it worse, so even though I couldn’t sleep well, I made sure I was getting plenty of rest during the day – although I appreciate that’s not easy for everyone if you still have to go to work or have other children to look after.
If you are struggling, do speak to your doctor. I felt like I was being a bit pathetic at first, that I should just be able to carry on as normal. In those early weeks the baby is so tiny – mere millimetres – so its hard to imagine how it can have such a huge effect on your body. Speaking to a doctor made me realise that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself – it’s okay to take it easy, take time off work if needed and most importantly listen to my own body. I might need a lot of early nights right now but it won’t last – I mean in a few months I won’t be getting any sleep at all!
One cliche is true though – it is worth it in the end.