So those of you that follow our social media will be aware that I (Kelly) am currently heavily pregnant - and now somewhat overdue. Sam has taken over all things Poppins related and I have been trying my best to rest, relax and wait for our little love to arrive.
The longer I’ve waited, the less patient I have become. I’ve made two weeks of meals to stock the freezer, washed and ironed every piece of baby clothing we possess, packed and repacked the hospital bags. I’ve meditated, somewhat unsuccessfully ‘done a yoga’, had baths, been for long walks, walked up hills, bounced on my birthing ball, drunk all the raspberry tea in the world and eaten all the things that will ‘help’ to bring this baby out to see us. I have switched off, ‘tried not to think about it’ and tried to my body take over.
Yet here I am, one week past my due date - a couple of sweeps under my belt, an induction tentatively scheduled and nothing left to distract me. I had 12 days of prodromal labour (google it - it’s dreadful) and today it is day 7 of a ‘stop start’ early labour. So I’ve had a chance to get excited, frustrated and impatient and have chosen to channel all that into the ultimate list of annoying things people say when you are pregnant. Every well meaning statement from every well meaning person has the potential to make you lose your calm, roll your eyes or just swallow down some hormonally induced rage. If you’ve ever been pregnant - I guarantee you’ll have heard each and every one of these before…
Let me assure you that at 41 weeks pregnant the level of sleep I am currently managing is pretty low and the quality is pretty poor. I am the size of a house and I have have symphysis pubis dysfunction so every time I move it feels like my pelvis is being torn in two. I have a full sized baby dancing on my bladder so roughly every 30-40 minutes I have to painfully roll myself out of bed and use the frame of my bed to pull myself to vertical. After I’ve caught my breath and allowed my bones to settle into my upright position I can waddle to the loo and back, awkwardly reposition a million cushions around me to support my swollen frame, eventually drift back into a sleep interrupted by colossal kicks punches and head butts to the cervix. And then, you’ve guessed it - I need a wee again…
Firstly - anyone who has ever been pregnant is well aware that it is not the most glamorous time. Your body changes, it looks different, it acts differently and becomes an unpredictable vessel that you are stuck inside. You are no longer making decisions for yourself - you eat because the baby says to eat, you wee because the baby says to wee. Some things happen that both amaze and horrify you. So when you start heading towards that elusive due date everything becomes a sign. Every positive word from your midwife that implies that things have ‘started’ becomes a beacon of light at the end of of this increasingly uncomfortable tunnel.
Now what doesn’t help with this is repeated questioning about whether there are ‘any signs’. Yes there might be but chances are the pregnant person has no idea whether they are relevant or just another nuance of pregnancy itself. Rest assured that when labour is confirmed or better still when that little human has finally made its grand debut - there is not a chance that the glowing new parents are going to forget to share this news with you. I can’t wait to tell the world ‘our baby is finally here, it’s a…!’
Alongside this - try your best not express your own frustration to a pregnant lady that she hasn’t had her baby yet. We know it is a very exciting time for so many people waiting for a brand new person to arrive on the scene. The waiting is long and hard. Please trust me though when I say - your ‘disappointment’ that your loved one has not yet delivered their baby is NOTHING (and I truly mean not a drop in the ocean) when compared to that expectant mama’s down right frustration at not having met her little one yet. She is tired, she is uncomfortable and she is definitely more excited than you are about her little miracle. So try your best to remember that, and perhaps don’t send that follow up text to ‘check in’ when she takes longer that 5 minutes to reply to you.
As a pregnant woman in her 30’s who didn’t fall pregnant at the drop of a hat I can tell you that an awful lot of thought and consideration has gone into having a baby. I have seen the majority of my friends and family have their babies, been heavily involved with my nieces and nephews including assisting my sisters with the nittier, grittier aspects of becoming a mum. I have watched new mums with heart wrenching broodiness and overwhelming awe at their strength and endurance. I have seen the struggles, I have listened to their worries, their highs and lows - night and day for many years. I am hands on with my many nieces and nephews (niblings!) and with my friends children.
I have never had my own baby. I have never actually ‘done it before’. BUT when I decided to have a baby I was already aware that they come with some T&C’s that may not be ideal. I KNOW babies don’t sleep well, so I know I’m not going to sleep well either. I know that time to myself is going to become a very different things, that lay ins will be a thing of the past, that Sam and I will never truly be alone again. That my social life is forever changed and disposable income is likely to become a thing of the past. What I don’t understand is why people feel the need to tell me this? I CHOSE to have a baby knowing all this information. It would be pretty scary if I’d gotten all the way to 32 believing that having a baby would be all fun and games and that I’d give birth to an adorable cherub that sleeps like an angel and my life would go on unchanged. Don’t get me wrong - I appreciate the knowledge and tips that the amazing, experienced mama’s in my life share with me. What I don’t need is someone telling me all the worst aspects of parenting as if they would not have occurred to me…
As a society I feel like we’ve hit a point where people are beginning to grasp how inappropriate it is to comment on another persons body. We’ve got a long way to go but we’re getting there. Body confidence and our perspective of ‘healthy bodies’ is changing, and for the most part this seems to be a positive thing. But when it comes to pregnancy it seems to be a free for all. For some reason people of all ages feel like its perfectly OK to comment on a woman’s changing body throughout pregnancy, however well or little they may know them.
For the most part I’ve avoided too much of this in the later stages of my pregnancy thanks largely to a global pandemic and continued social distancing measures. One thing that has not been lessened by the pandemic though is my own reaction to my ever changing body, the scales creeping up and worst of all in past weeks - growing out of everything, including my most tent like maternity wear. It’s quite a scary transition and you watch your shape change, your physical capabilities decrease and various features of your body become genuinely unrecognisable. So when you mix those feelings with off hand comments from loved ones or strangers about the size of your bump or the new shape of your face this can be pretty heart breaking. Again- don’t get me wrong, sacrificing your body is something you are aware of heading into pregnancy and its a sacrifice that most are more than willing to make in exchange for the wonderful tiny human they get to build. But a little sensitivity around this subject wouldn’t go amiss. Not only can it have an unpleasant effect on mum to be’s self esteem and mood as an individual it can also make some pretty unpleasant implications regarding your views of her as a mother. Being told your bump looks too small can make you feel like you are being judged for starving your baby, that there might be something wrong with your baby, that things aren’t going the way they should. To say you look too big has the opposite connotation - that you’ve let yourself go or that you aren’t being healthy enough within your pregnancy. It’s not nice - and as you may have heard - if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all!
The same goes for ‘are you sure there is only one in there?!’. I’ll throw my hands up and admit that prior to my pregnancies I had been know to occasionally float the idea of twins for friends and family at the start of their pregnancy. Having never been in the position myself I was entirely oblivious to the fact that what I was suggesting was something terrifying. It was only with my first ‘public’ pregnancy when it was suggested to me that I might be having twins did it really dawn on me how scary the thought of twins would be at least before you have a chance to process it. Now as scary as the comment might be when you are still early in your pregnancy, as the time goes on the suggestion becomes slightly insulting (again see ‘bump too big’) and also slightly annoying. I mean as witty and unique a quip as it may feel - it really isn’t, and laughing off the ‘twins’ joke for the best part of 9 months begins to get a little old.
‘Just you wait until you are in labour/let me tell you about my horrendous labour/my friend nearly died in childbirth’.
This goes hand in hand with people telling you commonly known things about babies as if you would never have heard them before. Again, the vast majority of pregnant ladies will be well aware that labour and delivery may come with risks. We know that it is going to hurt and most likely be the biggest challenge you have faced in your life. We know we have control about it and chances are that we already have our own friend or loved one that had a particularly tough time getting their baby into the world.
I do not like the culture of the ‘mums club’ who feels like its great fun to joyfully tell the most horrific stories of childbirth to expectant mothers. To say ‘you’ll KNOW when its a contraction’, ‘your labour could go on for days’ or even ‘labour will be the worst things you’ll ever go through’ - just seems entirely unnecessary. Chances are we already know about about prolonged labour, complications, assisted delivery, induction, emergency c sections - and chances are it already scares us. Now granted, I’ve not yet gotten to experience labour and delivery in all its glory. So maybe everything they are saying will be true for me and I have no way of knowing that one way or the other. I do know however that it is not particularly supportive to actively try to scare people and that any fear we are holding is not going to help to improve this experience. This is absolutely a topic I plan to revisit once this baby has arrived - and its also something I endeavour to take forward in my life after pregnancy. I will not join the boastful mums club that takes glee in scaring pregnant women, and that only opens their arms to you as a ‘strong and powerful mother’ after they have completed this ‘right of passage’. However your baby arrives, whether it is a natural, medication free delivery with low lighting, aromatherapy and hypno-birthing, a drawn out induction over days with an epidural, episiotomy and forceps delivery or a emergency or elective c section - you are an incredible mama that grew a perfect baby and got them into this world safely in whichever way you needed to.
So for all you other expectant mama's out there, patiently awaiting an arrival that it feels like will never come - take a deep breath. Pop in your ear plugs and calmly breath away the annoyances around you. Because - as I am sure you have been told a million times, by a million well intentioned people 'baby will come when they are ready', and then our lives will never be the same again.