I recently announced on Instagram, that Andrew and I have been working away on a little project for a few months. Our first baby is due in November. I’ve been pretty absent from my little corner of the internet since March, and this has all been pregnancy related . I’ve asked my followers for any questions they may have, so hopefully I’ll cover them all. If not, just leave me a comment and I’ll try and answer! Settle down with a cuppa, this is going to be a long one…
The First 20 Weeks
First of all, in preparation for trying for a baby, I’ve been working really hard since the start of last year to get off medication. I’d been taking Citalopram for panic disorder for 12 years. I tried really hard last year and did manage to get off the medication, but then several events took place and I ended up in a very bad place. I went back on the medication and after three weeks off work in July/August time, I started to feel better. We had started to try for a baby last year, but in hindsight, I’m glad it didn’t happen, as I really wasn’t strong enough mentally. Becoming a mum, and being as healthy as possible was still driving me, so determined I once again started weaning off the medication. I’ve now been anti-depressant free since December last year. My eyes are cloudy with tears as I type this, as I didn’t think I’d ever be able to say this, especially given the dark place I ended up in last year. I’m genuinely proud of myself. I have an incredible counsellor who has helped me through this and I wouldn’t have done it without her.
As we had been trying for a baby, I was monitoring all my symptoms and had thought we were out for the month of March, with some early period symptoms appearing the week before; tender breasts for a few days which then stopped, coinciding with spotting. There had been a few tears about this too, as I’d been using ovulation tests and we tried the SMEP method, so we really hoped it was our month. There were discussions about improving our health, taking more supplements, and all the rest of the ‘how to get pregnant’ tips you read.
What followed was a roller-coaster of emotions over the weekend, as we had to put our rabbit to sleep, which we were both completely devastated about. I had a lovely weekend planned, with a visit to my friend Kayleigh’s, so I pulled myself together and drove over to Manchester. My tender breasts returned, but no period, so when my period symptoms dissipated by the Monday morning, I decided to take a test, and couldn’t believe it when those two little lines showed up. I shouted Andrew into the bathroom and said, “I think we’re pregnant”, we were both shocked! I was 100% convinced we weren’t pregnant about 5 days earlier, so we really were in a state of shock. I can’t even remember the exact words Andrew said to me, but it was something along the lines of “That’s amazing”, followed by a big hug and we both went off to work. That was 18th March.
We decided to double check with a more expensive test, just in case, so I got a digital test on my lunch break at work. I waited patiently in the loo’s to see if this wonderful news was indeed true and I couldn’t believe it when it was. I immediately texted Andrew to let him know. The test said I was 1-2 weeks pregnant, so we found out pretty early.
Initially we weren’t going to tell anyone, even family, until the 12 week scan, but decided I may have some questions so shared it with our parents. I’m glad I did as I had a bleed around 5 weeks and went to A&E, petrified that our little dream was about to vanish. Waiting to be seen by a doctor, I just cried. When I did get seen, the doctor advised it was one of three things; 1 – a miscarriage, 2 – a threatened miscarriage, or 3 – implantation bleeding. I was advised to take bed rest and see a midwife within three days. Luckily, I was able to get an appointment the next day, and with no further bleeding, it was obviously implantation bleeding.
It was also around week 4-5 that my morning sickness symptoms started. I was being sick up to 5 times a day and felt nauseous almost constantly. The nausea was intense enough to put me off my meals, I wasn’t able to drink as much water as usual, and I started to get very dizzy. I thought feeling this way was normal. One friend recommended I go see my GP for anti-nausea medication, which I did, and was prescribed Cyclizine. I took the tablets twice and on each occasion my right arm went completely numb. I took it that this was just another medication I was sensitive to or allergic to, so tried to just get on with it.
I lost about one and a half stone and people were beginning to comment on my weight loss, mainly my work colleagues. I also had a couple of fainting episodes in the shower, prior to going to work. Again, I thought this was normal for pregnancy. Those that knew I was pregnant just told me either how sick they were when they were pregnant, or how sick other people were they knew, which to be honest just made me feel like I was being a drama queen, made me feel like I shouldn’t complain and again normalised the situation.
In between we had our first scan, I was anxious about the scan and did cry in bed the morning before it. I had been trying so hard not to get too excited, just in case something went wrong, as I’d heard so many sad stories of early pregnancy. I even thought that there wouldn’t be anything there when the sonographer started scanning my tummy, which Andrew and I laughed about afterwards. I just started crying as soon as we saw our little pudding on the monitor. We decided we still wanted to wait until the anomaly scan at 20 weeks before sharing the news any wider, but at 12 weeks I shared with my closest friends and it was lovely to see their reactions.
The sickness and nausea continued and at 14+6 weeks, I felt really unwell, I’d spent most of the weekend in bed and started to think something was actually not ‘normal’, so I called the maternity assessment centre at LGI and was told to come straight down. I was clinically dehydrated with ketones in my urine. I was given two litres of fluid IV, followed by a bag of vitamins IV, which made me feel a lot better. I was given an injection for the sickness and told I had hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). I was told that they don’t usually diagnose HG in the second trimester and was asked why I didn’t go back to my GP again for help. It was the politest telling off I’ve ever had. I explained I thought it was normal or that I was being a drama queen and I was assured I was not. One positive about ending up in hospital, was that we got to hear our baby’s heartbeat for the first time. It was magical. It was so good to know that despite me feeling awful, our baby was doing well. The doctor explained that baby is like a parasite, taking everything it needed from me and all that mattered to me was that our baby was ok.
I was sent home with promethazine to take every 6 hours for the nausea, which really helped. My parents were looking after me, whilst Andrew was at work, and I was so thankful given the dizziness and fainting; I felt very dizzy and faint every time I stood. 3 days later I was back at the hospital as I couldn’t get off the floor after a shower. Every time I stood I felt faint, my mum thought I lost consciousness, but I genuinely have no idea if I did or not. The hospital explained this was due to me having been so sick for so long, and that I’d basically depleted my resources and still wasn’t consuming enough fluid. The vomiting started again as I was 30 mins late taking my promethazine with being in hospital, so I was given another injection and let home once I’d stopped being sick.
The following Monday, the dizziness hadn’t improved so I went to my GP. He signed me off for two weeks and wasn’t hopeful I’d be better by then, having already been off for one week. When I stood my blood pressure was dropping by about 15%, hence the dizziness and fainting. What followed was two weeks of trying to get as much food and fluid into me as possible, to try and build up my strength. By the third week I tried to go for little walks, as I hadn’t left the house, we did circuits of our estate, just to see how far I could manage, starting with one 10 minute walk and building up to a few. I finally got back to work at 18 weeks, still concealing my pregnancy – I didn’t really look pregnant with clothes on, especially with the weight loss.
The following two weeks made me realise how poorly I’d actually been. I didn’t realise how exhausted, drained and unwell I was. It was only returning to my ‘normal’ routine, and feeling well doing so, that really made me realise this. If any of you reading this are pregnant, morning sickness is normal, HG is not normal. If you feel horrendous and people keep telling you how poorly other people were, or they were, try and ignore them and go to your GP or your MAC unit. A symptom is losing 5% of your pre-pregnancy weight, I lost about 16% and should have asked for help sooner. I genuinely believe if I’d been given promethazine earlier, then I’d not have ended up in the state I did. I’m so mad at myself for normalising feeling so poorly for so long. I’d recommend the charity Pregnancy Sickness Support as they have great tips. I didn’t make use of the forum, but I’ve read that it can be a great help.
At exactly 20 weeks we got to see our baby again at the anomaly scan. I was absolutely petrified about this scan, as I was so worried our baby wasn’t going to be healthy. Thankfully, the sonographer told us that all looked well with our baby and I just cried. Lots and lots of happy tears. We celebrated with some ice cream and we bought the first baby related purchases; three babygrows.
If you have a friend or family member that is pregnant and experiencing severe pregnancy sickness or HG, don’t tell her how ill you were, or how ill Sandra down the road was; it’s not a competition! Stop telling her ginger or dry crackers will save the day, especially if she does have HG, as it won’t make a difference. Reading the stories of other women online helped me feel better and there are many women suffering from HG in far worse states that I was; they’re being tube fed and not allowed to leave their hospitals, I’m just so thankful Promethazine helped me.
If you’re suffering yourself, please do go get help, don’t get into the state I did. I’m more than happy to have a chat too if you need someone who understands, just drop me a DM or an email.
I’m now 22 weeks and will share another update in a few more weeks. Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll try my best to answer them.