Christmas Escape

Getting back to London after being in Costa Rica was quite an experience. Jack and I managed to escape the UK for Christmas just before lock-down hit. Unfortunately, that was not the case for everyone and the general mood in the UK was understandably at a noticeable low.

We had the luxury of being refreshed from our holiday. Not only that, but Jack and I were relishing in the undeniable high after we drank plant medicine at my brother’s retreat. We had a week in a tropical paradise where we were eating clean and doing yoga, all while peeling back the layers of our subconscious.

Without doubt, it’s a brave act to crack open and face some of the most intimate and vulnerable sides of yourself through drinking ayahuasca. The reward in doing so is beyond words, like the ultimate freedom – at least for a period.

However, our reality was awaiting us upon return, and so were some big life decisions.

It’s no secret that Jack and I have been partners in crime for a while now. By a while, I mean just shy of a decade. By no means do we have everything figured out. But truthfully, when looking back on what we’ve done, I genuinely feel like we’ve had an extraordinary 10 years.

We moved to Sydney and started anew after just 8 months of seeing each other. During our last year in Sydney, we lived 400 metres from the beach, where we would meet for a sunset swim after work, followed by dinner. We had countless road trips around Australia exploring wine regions, coastal towns, bush lands, and national parks. We made lifelong friendships. We saved up enough money to travel the world for 18 months, which included taking public transport from the South to the North of India, trekking in the Himalayan mountains, biking across Vietnam, meditating with monks in Thailand, road tripping across the US and backpacking Eastern Europe.

Finally, we moved to one of the world’s most expensive cities, without money or connections and managed to find our feet by getting visas, jobs, friends, and a nice place to call home.

As shown, History would tell us that being settled and secure hasn’t been on the top of our priority list. Our focus has seemingly been more on spontaneity, seeking new experiences, vivid in colour and coated in freedom. But a wind of change was amongst us – a certain kind of change that made being settled and secure not only appealing, but crucial.

When Jack and I looked down at the 4 pregnancy tests on the table, all reading positive, we knew that everything was about to change…

The Game Changer

During the pandemic, we got engaged (couldn’t celebrate), planned our wedding (couldn’t celebrate). While our hopes were held high for a Summer wedding this year, it was just not possible. At least not the wedding we wanted. So instead, we pushed the wedding to 2022 and tried for a baby.

Before, during and after our Costa Rica trip, we had a full-on detox, cutting back on booze, caffeine, sugar, salt, and red meats. This made us feel more confident in the state of our health for conceiving. Additionally, I started taking a prenatal vitamin right when we got back in January. February was the first month we consciously tried to conceive by monitoring when I was ovulating. However, it didn’t work the first time.

Then, both of us got Covid shortly after that, perfect! Jack works in construction, so his job never stopped. We think that’s where he picked it up and given that I was his nurse, unsurprisingly, I got it too. This happened all while we were meant to be moving out of our share house and into our own apartment. It was chaotic times to say the least.

Even though we weren’t feeling 100 precent when we moved in, we were so excited to finally have our own place to call home. Especially considering we’ve had housemates for our entire relationship.  Plus, moving into our own place felt appropriate for starting a family.

Once we fully recovered from Covid at the end of March, we tried again. We decided to ditch the ovulation sticks. Frankly, the sticks made the experience feel too calculated and mechanical for both of us, so it was an easy decision to toss them. When we did, we had a momentous week that felt very natural and connected, ultimately creating the little bean growing inside my belly today.

I knew I was pregnant early as my body had noticeable changes just a week after conceiving. Jack thought it was all in mind my head. In fact, I don’t think he fully believed that I was pregnant until I was experiencing morning sickness in the washroom in my first trimester. That was his wake-up call.

First Trimester – I don’t feel so well

The first few months of being pregnant was a challenging time for me. I didn’t have just one or two symptoms, but rather the whole spectrum. While I could still live my day-to-day life and be at work without notice, everything was just a little bit harder. Especially since we decided not to share the news with friends & family until the 12-week mark. Let’s just say, I had to skip a couple face-times with my sisters and suffer in silence.

I was nauseous most mornings and some evenings as well. I had mood swings, food cravings, smell aversions and fatigue. One weekend I spent on the couch, watching the saddest movies I could think of, including Braveheart, Gladiator and Legends of the Fall. I would cry, or rather sob at the touching or sad parts. For some unknown reason, Jack and I decided to watch Marley & Me one night. Of course, with a family pet involved, I didn’t stand a chance.  

To add to the fun, there were days that I would go on massive rants to Jack about anything and everything from Covid to work to family – very out of my character. I had to avoid the garbage bins and the cleaner at work as certain smells would set me off. Sometimes the smell of dinner would make me nauseous. I even got 2-3 nose bleeds, which was a big surprise for me. On top of that, the food I craved was mostly fast food like McDonald’s, KFC, and Chinese take-away. For better or worse, I occasionally indulged.

Luckily, once I hit the 12-week mark, nearly all these symptoms subsided. Just in time for our 12-week scan.

The scan was a cool experience. Since you can’t feel the baby in early days, it’s hard to imagine there’s something really in there. When Jack and I saw the little human wiggling on the monitor, we were so giddy. Then came the heartbeat, which sounded like a trotting horse. It was one of those moments where you think, is this real-life? We were both in awe and shock that we made this wee being. Equally, we were so impressed by the doctor’s due diligence in making sure we had a healthy baby. According to their routine checks, all looked normal. What a relief!

Second Trimester – The glow is real

This is the actual fun part! I got my energy back, was able to share the exciting news, and started feeling our baby move. At this stage, the pregnancy glow is real, at least it was for me. My skin was clear, my hair thick and shiny, nails growing strong, and my cute baby bump was finally showing. I could go back to doing normal life things, without having this awkward secret hanging over me and constantly having to tell my girlfriends that I was ‘on a health kick.’

At first, the movements are hard to pinpoint, like flutters in the belly that could easily be mistaken for being gassy. Someone once said to imagine the feeling of a goldfish, swishing its fins along a fishbowl. That imagery is quite accurate. As the baby grows, the movements become more obvious. So far, feeling her movements has been my favourite part about being pregnant. It really sparked and fueled my innate connection to our baby. I’ll bashfully admit, I get an instantaneous smile nearly every time I feel her move.

That being said, monitoring fetal movement is encouraged during second and third trimester, which has brought on its own kind of stresses. I often wonder if her movements have changed or reduced to a point of concern. However, it doesn’t take long to get some reassurance after speaking with a doctor, midwife or other moms who have been there. Fortunately for me, one of my best friends is a qualified midwife, who has been an absolute dream during my whole pregnancy.  

Third Trimester – I’m heavy and sleeping with 10 pillows

I’ve made it to 31 weeks, and I feel very fortunate for that. The next couple of months will be dedicated to preparing for delivery, getting items for the baby, and reading up on material that will hopefully give me some extra confidence going into labour.

Jack and I are taking 5 antenatal classes together and are considering getting a doula for postnatal care. Also, my parents are coming to London for 3 weeks in December to help, which brings us a lot of comfort.

So far, I haven’t had too many symptoms in my third trimester apart from feeling heavy and waking up quite a bit in the night because I need to tinkle or change positions in bed to get comfy. I’m using a c-shaped pillow to help keep me on my side / support my back, belly, and pelvis area. I did have a leg cramp one morning and experienced some indigestion. I’m also eating more than usual, but otherwise, it’s been pretty cruisy.

Overall, the pregnancy journey has been a learning experience. I find it both fascinating and miraculous at the same time. I am amazed by what the female body is capable of. Yes, there have been times of great discomfort, particularly in my first trimester. But it’s all part of the process, one that I feel up to at this stage in my life.

While I’ve had moments of doubt where I can get overwhelmed and nervous about what’s to come in December, I make a conscious effort not to sit in those emotions for too long. I personally don’t find it overly helpful to hang out in that space. Instead, I try to hone in on the other emotions like excitement and joy. I remind myself that the transition from maiden to mother has been done long before me and will continue being done long after me. The female body is made for this, and I do my best trust in that. If anyone brings up fear inducing stories about labour, I either politely change the subject, or remove myself from the conversation. That’s worked for me.

So, here’s to the final leg of pregnancy. Your well wishes are most welcome as we approach the final stage.

Thanks for reading!