I’m 37 weeks pregnant (37+3 to be precise) and I’m feeling: anxious, uncomfortable, irritable, unsettled, anti-social, unprepared, frightened, regretful and angry. Why? Surely I should be excited, grateful and ready… the last few days, I seem to have gone into a bit of a fug. I’m really on edge, and sometimes I can’t breathe properly. All the anxiety signs are there – I’m struggling to concentrate, thoughts are rushing through my head and I’m busy trying to get 100 things done at once. I don’t think it helps that I actually can’t breathe properly. I’m quite big-bellied now, and I think my lungs are quite squashed. When I’m in bed at night, sometimes it’s like my heart is fluttering. It makes being calm increasingly difficult.
Up until this point, I’ve been so busy with work, all I’ve been focusing on is getting to the finishing line of maternity leave. In actual fact, I’ve been on annual leave since last week and today is Easter Monday, so mat leave actually officially starts tomorrow. And, in all honesty, I’ve had a lovely first week off. I have managed to relax a bit. I’ve watched some of my favourite reality TV, sorted out the bedrooms so they’re tidy and clean and started organising my photos, which is something that’s been on my list to do for ages. I also caught up with some friends and family last week, which was well overdue. But I still have three friends who I said I’d ring, and it’s sounds awful but I just don’t want to, even though I know that speaking to them will make me feel more connected and at peace than I do right now.
For some reason, I just want to hibernate. Which is great timing, as the world continues in coronavirus lockdown so I have no choice but to stay in and hunker down. But while everyone else seems desperate to stay in touch with one another, I just want peace and quiet. It’s like I’m recovering, probably from the craziness of work for god knows how many months, although I wonder if that’s an excuse and I’m actually suffering with the actual blues. Gone is my work routine, I can’t exercise like I used to (my daily allowed walk is all I’m getting) and I can’t go to the shops or have a coffee like I might have done ordinarily.
I suppose I feel a bit claustrophobic. My husband is the sweetest man, but has been stressing me out by not wanting to let me out of his sight. He’s fine – he gets to go to the supermarket and is still out every now and then for work. But with me, he insists on staying with me if I leave the house. On Saturday, I had enough. While he ran an errand, I went out for a really long walk on my own, listening to an audio book. It was utter freedom, and much needed. He wasn’t pleased when he came back to an empty house, but I do not need a chaperone thank you very much.
He also seems to be keeping touch with friends and family much better than me, and is making much more of an effort. For some reason this annoys me. It’s like on a deep level, I want to connect and I’m envious that he is, but on another I just want to hide away and be on my own. This desire for solitude wins out completely. I thought after a week of recuperating, I’d want to socialise more – that I’d have wound down and forgotten about work, and started to get a bit of perspective about what’s important in life, i.e. loved ones. It hasn’t worked out that way yet.
It doesn’t help that I’m so irritable at the moment. Everything is annoying me! I’m hoping all of these negative feelings are down to pregnancy hormones – why else would I feel like this? When I think about all those people right now who have been told they won’t be able to do IVF for potentially a year (and I have friends in this boat) and I look at how unbelievably lucky I am, I feel guilty for not being more excited. Because at the moment, I don’t.
Next confession. There are times when I think about being a mother – it’s going to happen in the next few weeks one way or another – and I wonder if I’ve done the right thing. I have wanted a baby for three and a half years now – it’s literally all I’ve thought about for months and months and months. I’ve been through hell and back, burned through many thousands of pounds, taken countless unpleasant hormone drugs, kept my heartache a secret from so many, and suffered several setbacks and failures. And yet here we are. I have a little baby – a daughter, no less… my dream – inside of me, kicking away, almost ready to enter this world. And all I keep thinking is: did I do the right thing?
Look, I know we have – of course we have. I suppose I’m just frightened of the unknown and how my life is going to change forever. What kind of mom will I be? Will I be good enough? How will I cope? I’ve been indulging in self-pity for several days now – when I have a baby to look after, there’ll be no time for that, will there? And then what will I do?!
Writing all this down is actually helping me make sense of my emotions right now. If someone came to me and told me they felt this way, I wouldn’t judge them. Instead, I’d probably say: you’re 37 weeks pregnant. No wonder your feelings are all over the place, You’re about to experience the biggest change of your life and it’s bound to feel unsettling. You’re irritable because you are tired. Sure, you’re resting a lot but you find it hard to get comfortable.
Plus, you have actually been quite busy! You spent one day last week cleaning and tidying, and another taking a really long walk (10K isn’t that long, but it’s enough when you’re 37 weeks pregnant). You also had a hospital appointment when you found out the baby – which you feared was still transverse – had turned (I’ve not written about this but it’s a whole other story!). It’s perfectly understandable that you need time to reflect on these emotions. You’ve also spent the last six months working long, stressful days and now it’s gone, of course you feel a bit lost.
It’s OK to be scared, it’s OK to have doubts and it’s OK to feel sad. Be kind to yourself by trying to enjoy these last few weeks while you can. If that means sorting out all your photos, cupboards and taxes, go ahead. I know myself, and how I like a plan – without one, I stress out that I’m wasting the day. Well, I have plans and it’s OK if they don’t involve other people. I decided to take last week as holiday and the maternity leave a couple of weeks ahead of my due date because I knew I’d need this time out to myself.
It just so happens that it’s coincided with a global pandemic that no one could have dreamed possible. It means I’m cooped up with my husband and I’ve been getting quite stressed out by my neighbour, who has an extremely loud voice and at times, all I can hear is her. Ordinarily, I’d just leave the house to grab some me time. But these are extraordinary times, of which escaping has just not been possible. Many people would be stressed by this, I’m sure!
However, in a few short weeks, I’ll have a baby. And nothing else much will really matter. I’ll be learning to breast feed and how reusable nappies work, and trying to grab hours of sleep where I can. My daily walks will be accompanied by a baby in a pram, and all that this entails. How mad is that going to be? I’ll be so grateful that my husband will still be on lockdown and able to help me out while working from home. I think I’ll also be glad that lockdown will prevent a load of visitors in the first few weeks, when I know I’m going to be struggling and wanting space more than ever.
This unique situation will mean my husband and I can bond with our baby, without any obligations or interference. Don’t get me wrong, perhaps I’ll be desperate for the help, which we’re not going to get in person this time around. However, we’ll cope, it’ll be a learning curve, and while it’ll be hard it’ll also be a time of great joy.
See how great writing down your thoughts is? I’ve gone from gloomy to excited and much calmer in the space of an hour. Thank goodness for that. Hopefully my next post will be a bit more positive!