Training Wheels…


There’s quite a few things they don’t tell you about being pregnant, it’s not portrayed in the films, it’s not in the glossy magazines, it’s only when you’re with your friends, and usually not until you ARE pregnant that it’s all actually revealed. In one way, of course we don’t talk about it, if you’re not in that ‘club’ of having children, you don’t want to hear about some of the things you don’t necessarily ever have to deal with. Coffee time conversation about increased flatulence and itchy nipples..? No thank you very much, we’re British for crying out loud, now pour me another Earl Grey and let’s talk about the weather like civilised people..!

And that’s all well and good, a year ago if a friend had started telling me that she was having an unusually coloured discharge and did I think it could be thrush, I would have been backing away slowly, nodding and smiling and hoping it would all soon stop happening to my ears. Even writing it down is making me slightly uncomfortable, and yet all these things are a ridiculously natural part of pregnancy, perhaps one of the most natural processes there is. But now I am pregnant, there are quite a lot of things that have come as a surprise, a shock and in some cases, unnecessarily a worry.
There’s an old joke about the treatment of teenage boys searching out pictures of scantily clad women in the woods being an outdated pastime thanks to the advent of the internet; and in the same way, the internet IS a wealth of information about pregnancy. HOWEVER, this is a fickle double edged sword. For example, I am epileptic, and so when I became pregnant, one of the big concerns of myself and my husband was how would this affect our pregnancy. So we did a quick google search, ‘epilepsy and pregnancy.’ We clicked on the first result and one of the first sentences we read was this one… “the risk of death in childbirth is increased.” Aaaaand that was the end of us reading online!
The problem with the internet is every worst case scenario, even the once in a lifetime, and would never happen again scenarios come up when you start looking. For a novice in the parenting world, all you then see are warning signs and awful outcomes. Yes of course you also find the miracle stories online, the heart warming stories that for couples struggling to conceive can go to for comfort when all seems hopeless. But in general, the internet is a dangerous place, and led to at least an extra weeks worth of sleepless nights as I had nightmares of my inevitable demise.
However, the benefit of these things being passed on from woman to woman, family to family, is that it becomes part of a sacred journey. The simple fact is, my midwife gives different advice to my Mother’s generation midwife, which was different again to my Grandmother’s midwife advice. In reality, so much is unknown; the amazing journey from pregnancy to Motherhood is not an exact science and is in fact different for every woman. In some ways, there’s no point in oversharing those details because you may not experience them all; the examples above are all anecdotal from several different friends and/or family and I could add as many different ones from my own experience. It’s all terrifying, it’s all ridiculous, it’s all very empowering, and it’s how we learn to become Mothers. There’s no definitive textbook that sums up every baby either, that’s a whole new journey of fear, excitement and discovery; one we’re thrust into after just 9 months training experience.
So although it would be a hell of a lot easier if you knew what almond oil was recommended for and why you’re friends are smiling smugly when you ask; or if you were totally prepared for the feeling of your ligaments stretching without assuming that something was going horribly wrong because of the pain, it would then be even harder when you’re thrust into the unknown after the birth!
The pregnancy months are our training wheels, our parental stabilisers, the preparation for the new life ahead with a tiny one completely under our protection. Does that mean we should be grateful for each and every surprise that comes at us that we have to deal with? Probably, although I dare any pregnant woman to look me in the eye and tell me they’ve never broken down in tears because they have no idea what they’re doing! We’re scared, grateful, excited and terrified…and will remain so, but at least after these nine months, we may have grown into those feelings slightly better!
I feel like if I could play a soundtrack to this post, it would be Michael Jackson’s ‘We Are Not Alone’…! I certainly should have played it yesterday after an exhausting day left me feeling a bit fragile and overwhelmed. But don’t we all sometimes! Comrades, we’re all in training, but we can do this, YOU can do this; get the breast pads, stretchy pants, and comfort foods at the ready, we’re doing this together!

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