As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I went out and bought a plastic bucket. (OK, it was really a bowl, but calling it a bowl wouldn’t allow me to make that hilarious joke in the title of this post, so…) It was my first ever pregnancy-related purchase, and I get that it’s a bit of an unusual one, but the thing is, I was terrified of morning sickness. Terrified. I was mostly terrified of actually throwing up, obviously (I wouldn’t say I have a phobia of vomit, and, I mean, I know no one actually ENJOYS it, but I do have a big fear of it, and just can’t bear to even LOOK at it, or it just makes me want to… well, to throw up, really. I’ll just pause here while you all race to the comments section to tell me about how I’ll soon be surrounded by baby vomit ALL THE TIME, LOL! I know. I am honestly really worried about this, but that’s other angst-ridden blog post for another time…), but I was also fairly paranoid about throwing up in a place other than the bathroom, and ending up caught up in a helpless, never-ending cycle of vomiting, SEEING the vomit, vomiting again, and so on and so forth, world without end.
In order to avoid this situation, I knew I’d have to make sure I always either:
a) Threw up directly into the toilet, keeping my eyes closed at all times.
b) Threw up into my trusty plastic bucket, which I could then just empty into the toilet, with my eyes closed.
c) Threw up into some other receptacle, which I could then just dispose of. With my eyes closed, natch.
(My 2nd pregnancy-related purchase? Sick bags. Or ‘Poorly Pouches‘ as they are oh-so-cutely called. I keep some in the car, and some in my handbag at all times. ‘Be Prepared’ is my motto. Well, that and ‘Keep Your Eyes Closed While You’re Throwing Up, Yo.’)
So I bought me a bucket, and the bucket has lived next to my bed for almost three months now, apart from those times when I chose to descend to the living room or office, when the bucket would come with me, my faithful plastic companion. I even took it to my parents’ house one time, even although I knew my mum would take its presence there as a slight upon her own sick bowl-providing abilities, and want to get me a bigger, BETTER bowl of her own. And she did. (I’m pleased to report that I never actually had to USE either the bowl or the sick bags, because I always managed to make it to the bathroom just in time, but just knowing they were there if necessary was a comfort to me…)
Anyway, today, at 14 weeks pregnant, I finally retired the sick bowl, taking it on its final (I HOPE) journey down to the kitchen, where it will now live out its days as just a regular bowl, with regular bowl duties. It will probably forget all about the time it spent as Sick-Bowl-in-Waiting, but I will never forget IT, and that’s the main thing, isn’t it? From all of this you will gather that the nausea has finally started to recede. I mean, I’m pretty sure it’ll make an instant comeback as soon as it knows the bowl is gone, but the fact that I currently feel confident enough to move around my house without the fear of throwing up at any second is a big improvement for me, so long may it continue.
In other news, everyone keeps telling me that, now that I’m in the 2nd trimester, I can expect my skin, hair and nails to all be totally FABULOUS now. Naturally, then, I woke up this morning with a giant zit on my forehead, for the first time in years. I have named it Trevor.
Yesterday Trevor and I spent a few hours out shopping – my longest time on my feet and out of the house since May, basically. It was for a sponsored post, but it was a lot of fun, and so good to feel like “myself” again, and just be out doing normal, non-pregnancy, non-anxiety-related things. OK, I had a few little wobbles when I went into some of my favourite stores and realised that none of their clothes will fit me right now (and probably not EVER, if everything I’ve been told about post-partumn body shapes is anything to go by…), but for the most part I felt absolutely fine – so much so that, when I got home, I went out into the garden and did some much-needed weeding, before collapsing in front of the TV and eating my way through the contents of the fridge, even although we’d JUST been out for lunch. I guess you could safely say the nausea has receded, then…
Of course, it didn’t take long for the worry to set in, as I all-of-a-sudden realised that I felt totally NOT PREGNANT, and hey, you know who else feels NOT PREGNANT? PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT PREGNANT, that’s who. And yes, yes: I know lots of people say they don’t feel particularly pregnant during the 2nd trimester, but I really didn’t think that would happen to me, and, if it did, I definitely didn’t think it would be happening this soon. So, yeah, now I’m worrying about NOT feeling ill: SERIOUSLY, BODY.
On that note, I’ve had quite a few people suggest I buy a doppler monitor, so I can listen to the baby’s heartbeat at home, and get some reassurance from that. It’s a great idea, but I’ve actually been advised against it, because of my health anxiety: woe! Basically, health anxiety is a form of OCD – which probably sounds a bit odd, until you realise that it’s really just an obsessive compulsion to worry about health and repeatedly check symptoms, at which point it makes perfect sense.
In my case, I suspect a doppler would really just feed my OCD tendencies, and that I’d want to use it constantly for reassurance, and then completely freak out if I wasn’t able to hear the heartbeat for some reason. With the ultrasounds I’ve had, I basically work myself up into a fear-pitch of almost-intolerable anxiety beforehand, and then am only reassured by them while I’m having the ultrasound: the second I leave the room, the worry comes back, and I just think, “Well, I know it was OK a few minutes ago, but what about NOW?” So, yeah, I really think a doppler would have the potential to cause me a lot of anxiety…but never say never, right?
14 Weeks, 4 Days – Monday, July 10th, 2017
This week I think the reality of this pregnancy has really started to hit me, thus opening up a whole new world o’worry that has hitherto been unexplored. Until now, I’ve been so focused on all of the things that could go wrong, that I haven’t really allowed myself to consider the possibility that things might go RIGHT, but now? Well, now I’m STILL very focused on all of the things that could go wrong, but I’ve also started to consider the possibility that, HOLY HELL, I MIGHT ACTUALLY HAVE TO PUSH A LIVE HUMAN OUT OF MY BODY, and won’t that be fun? Not. And then, of course (Assuming I don’t die in childbirth, which I almost certainly will…) I will then have a LIVE HUMAN to look after. Forever. And ever. Which is scary, no? I mean, setting aside for the moment the small, but important, fact that I don’t have a clue how babies actually work, I keep thinking that one day that baby will be a child, and then a teenager (TEENAGERS SCARE ME), and then, finally, an adult. This raises all kinds of worries. For instance:
- What if it doesn’t like me? Plenty of people don’t after all. What if MY OWN CHILD is one of them?
- What if I don’t like IT?
- What if I DO like it, but then, as soon as it’s old enough, it’s all, “Catch you later, mum, I’m off to live in Bali!”
- What if it marries a really bitchy girl (I’m 100% convinced it will be a boy, for no other reason than that boys run in Terry’s family. We have five nephews and one niece; Terry has three brothers, and just one sister; Terry’s dad had something like 71 brothers or something – you get the idea…), and SHE hates me, and I have to spend the rest of my life smiling sweetly at her while secretly wanting to stick pins in her eyes? WHAT IF?
So, basically, while other people who are 14 weeks pregnant probably spend their time reading lists of baby’s names, and buying cute little outfits or something, here I am worrying about that ungrateful daughter-in-law of mine, what did I ever do to deserve such a child?
14 Weeks, 5 Days – Tuesday, July 11th
I’m freaking out.
So, I’d somehow had it in my head that the midwife had told me at my first appointment that I’d get a follow-up at 16 weeks, at which she’d be able to hear the baby’s heartbeat. I’ll be 16 weeks next Thursday, and I was really counting on this happening: up until now, I’d been having scans every 2 weeks, and I’m really, really struggling without that reassurance – especially given that I no longer seem to have many pregnancy symptoms, which is a really big difference from how I’ve been feeling up until now.
I know this is normal. I know lots of people start feeling better at this stage. I know all of this, but I’m still absolutely convinced that, in my case, it must mean that something’s gone horribly, horribly wrong. I can’t get this thought out of my head, so I’ve been literally counting down to next Thursday, working on the assumption that I’d get to hear the heartbeat, and that would give me the reassurance I need to make it to the next scan.
Yeah, not happening.
It took 2 full days to get through to the midwife’s office at all: most of the time, the phone just rings out (So much for being able to contact her any time, then…), or it’s picked up by someone who takes a message and promises a callback which never comes. This went on for two days, and then finally this afternoon I got a call from a very unfriendly sounding woman, with whom I had the following conversation:
HER: You already have an appointment in the system for 18 weeks.
ME: Oh, really? I didn’t know about that?
HER: Well, you do.
ME: Er, OK, well, no one actually told me that, but…
HER: Well, it’s there. For 18 weeks.
ME: O…kaaay. I was actually hoping to see the midwife at 16 weeks, if possible?
She went on to say that they won’t see me before 18 weeks, because they don’t think they’d be able to hear the heartbeat until then, anyway, and don’t like to try, in case it causes me anxiety. Which sounds totally reasonable, of course, unless you’ve been living in my head for the past few weeks, and have been totally counting on only having one more week to wait before the crippling anxiety you’ve ALREADY been feeling can hopefully be eased a little. I, of course, HAVE been living in my head for the past few weeks, so, when I found out that, nope, no reassurance will forthcoming for another full month, I put down the phone, and promptly burst into tears – much to Terry’s astonishment.
So, now I have basically three options:
01. Buy an at-home Doppler, despite all my reservations about it, despite knowing that it’ll likely be a huge OCD trigger for me, and despite the midwife telling me it wont be possible to hear the heartbeat for another month, anyway. (So why are all of these people on Amazon giving them 5 star reviews and talking about how well they work from 12 weeks on? Are the people on Amazon lying? Is the midwife lying? I am so confused right now…) I know if I try to find it and can’t, I will lose my tiny mind, so this option really, really scares me, to be honest. Then again, so does this one:
02. Try to get a 16 week scan. We could ask the NHS to do this, and, if they say no, just book one privately. The problem here is that scans are also absolutely terrifying to me – as in, they create pretty much the maximum stress I’m able to handle. Each time I’ve had one, I’ve basically had to write off the couple of days before it, because the anxiety kind of takes over at that point, and it’s all just hugely stressful for me, basically. Which leaves me with option 3…
03. Do nothing, and just wait until I can see the midwife at 18 weeks. Like a normal person would.
I, however, am NOT a normal person, and, at this point, I did what NO rational person would do: I Googled. SERIOUSLY, AMBER, WTF?! I mean, I’ve been dealing with health anxiety for years now, and everyone knows that the first rule of health anxiety is
you don’t talk about health anxiety THOU SHALT NOT CONSULT DR. GOOGLE. IS A BAAAD DOCTOR.
So, yeah, I totally Googled. I kind of hate myself now.
In fairness, I was actually Googling more reviews of handheld doppler units (Because the 300+ on Amazon weren’t enough, I guess?), and was expecting to JUST get information on how reliable they are. Nope: instead I got info on still births, late miscarriage, and I don’t know what else, because I’d lost what little shred of sanity I had left at that point. Which rules out option three, basically.
So: torture by doppler or scan – which will it be?
SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!
14 Weeks, 6 Days – Wednesday, July 12th
Yeah, we got the freakin’ doppler: because if a trained midwife reckons she won’t be able to heat the heartbeat until 18 weeks, I expect a pair of complete rubes will TOTALLY be able to hear it at 14 weeks, yeah? Like, I can’t even IMAGINE what could possibly go wrong here, with us just casually ignoring the professional medical advice we’ve been given, and trusting 350 strangers who wrote reviews on Amazon instead, huh?
We got the doppler with next day delivery (Thanks, Amazon Prime!), so it arrived this morning. I haven’t used it yet, though: Terry is going to be out all morning at a medical appointment with his mum (I know this sounds pathetic, and not remotely #GIRLBOSS of me, but I don’t trust myself to do it on my own, and I also don’t want to BE on my own if I’m not able to find the heartbeat…), and then we’ll both be out for most of the afternoon/evening. I don’t want to risk trying it out right before we leave, and having a complete meltdown, and I don’t really want to do it last thing at night either, when there will be no scan units open, should that anticipated meltdown arrive (I’m 100% sure that we’ll be giving the doppler a try and then heading straight to the hospital for a scan, by the way: so, we’ve basically chosen the option that’s almost guaranteed to give us the WORST of both worlds, then. GO TEAM AMBER & TERRY!), so we’ll probably give it a try tomorrow morning.
Keep everything crossed for us, guys…
[IMPORTANT CAVEAT: Terry’s asked me to point out here that he spent literally hours reading about home dopplers this week, before deciding to get one, so we’re aware of all of the arguments against them, but still feel it’s probably the best (only) option for me at this point, given that the midwife isn’t able to help. So I’m going to once again ask that you please not post scare stories in the comments section or by email etc – thanks so much!]