All of my pregnancies were planned. But planning is a funny thing when it comes to pregnancy. If it’s your first pregnancy, you can have no idea whatsoever what you are planning. There is no life experience to compare it with. There are plenty of books about pregnancy. I read them all first time around, back when I had time to obsessively look up what size fruit my developing child was each week. The trouble with the books is that they can’t really tell you what pregnancy will be like for you.
So, I planned my first pregnancy. I was going to continue to ride my bike throughout pregnancy. I bought a ‘sit up and beg’ bike (known as ‘donkey bike’) to accommodate my growing belly and looked up routes for gentle donkey bike donders. I bemoaned the lack of maternity cycle kit. I was going to remain fit and healthy while I grew this baby.
Wonderful. All planned out.
And then the pregnancy tiredness hit.
I thought I knew what tired felt like. I had cycled in the alps. I had run marathons. I knew what it felt like to be tired.
I was so so so wrong.
For me, pregnancy was characterised by bone numbing, spirit crushing exhaustion. I remember going to bed about 7pm and sleeping for 12 full hours, then waking up crying because I was still just so tired.
Before I discovered I was pregnant, I won the women’s race in a 10 mile time trial. After that, I rode my bike twice during pregnancy. Donkey bike gathered dust in the garage with all my other bikes. I vowed to start swimming, and went twice.
I had read the books so I knew that it was just a matter of time. I just needed to get through the first 12 weeks and then the pregnancy glow would kick in and I would be radiant and blossoming. I waited and waited for the glow. I waited for a full 9 months and I never once glowed.
I developed a love for chocolate milk and ‘homes under the hammer’. I stopped work at 28 weeks because it was just too hard to keep going and my heart wasn’t in it enough to teach well anymore.
Here’s the thing though. Hubby and I had planned this pregnancy together. But as I ground to a halt and expanded, he carried on. Don’t get me wrong, I never expected him to do otherwise. What would be the point? Expecting him to stop training because I couldn’t just wouldn’t be fair and wouldn’t change how I was feeling. So he cycled, he ran, he started doing the local park run. He watched ‘Game of Thrones’ in peace as I went to bed at 6pm yet again.
He also supported me in every way he could. He went to the shop for more chocolate milk. He stifled the laughter when he found me sobbing inexplicably and inconsolably into a bowl of tomato soup. He asked what he could do to help. He funded me through the cup sizes at the local Bravissimo. He organised a wonderful weekend away in Manchester at the track cycling for our last weekend as a childless couple.
But still, I couldn’t help it. Part of me resented it. I tried really hard to bury the feeling but pregnancy hormones are not ever so conducive to logic and rational thought. They are very conducive to unpredictable rage and tearfulness and Martin had to tolerate me through all of this. Not once, but 3 times.
If I’m honest, I still slightly resent that I have spent nearly 2 years of my life pregnant and Martin has trained throughout this. I know that it’s unfair of me and I know I have nothing at all to resent. But this was the start of quite an identity crisis for me.
Martin has never been unreasonable about training while I have been pregnant and he has always sympathised with how frustrating I found it. Our second pregnancy ended early and unexpectedly and he had to put his own grief aside to some extent because I just had no idea how to cope with it. My third pregnancy was as exhausting as the first. I was only working 3 days a week this time, but now there was a 2 year old to deal with and retreating to the sofa to watch homes under the hammer, chocolate milk in hand, just wasn’t an option.
So, if there are any morals to this story they are:
• You can plan all you want. You feel how you feel and sometimes thinking doesn’t help.
• If you are the father, just do your best to be supportive. And do what she tells you or deal with the consequences. She can’t help the hormones.
• Most importantly…pregnancy is not a license to drink chocolate milk without consequences.