I use writing tools a lot to make sense of feelings, I always find it gives me clarity and as I’ve had very little actual support for my mental health this pregnancy, despite being under the perinatal mental health team, covid restrictions have played a huge part and the fact I can’t attend groups because of lack of mobility. That said, I’m pretty good at managing these phases if I let myself feel them. So I decided pulling out some old tools might help, and here started the pregnancy timeline.
I’ll explain at the end why this was such an important process for me.
4 weeks – Found out I was pregnant had to reduce and abstain from medications that had been keeping me well. Very anxious, unsure and not feeling excited.
5 weeks – withdrawal symptoms, migraine, nausea and vomiting, unable to get routine appointment with GP. Lots of tears.
6 weeks – Hormonal migraines started coming every 3-4 days and increased in severity and duration. Unable to reduce Migraine meds. Mental health sketchy, had to fight to be booked in with the perinatal mental health team.
7 weeks – High temperature, still sick, time off work, negative covid test, later confirmed UTI at emergency GP appt and course of antibiotics
8 weeks – Booking appointment with midwife. high BP and protien still present in urine. More antibiotics. Discussed medication benefit vs risks.
9 weeks- low mood, tearful and anxious. Migraines still severe. Several trips to maternity in the same week to check blood pressure.
10 weeks- pelvic pain present. ? SPD. Fibro flare up. More time off work.
12 Weeks – First scan. No physical abnormalities present with baby. Heart beat strong. Consultant advised go back up migraine medication. Blood thinners prescribed
14 weeks – Pelvic pain increased referred to physio, no appointments because of covid, sent exercises in the post.
16 weeks – Pelvic pain so severe can’t bear any weight, SPD confirmed, back on crutches again. Heard heartbeat at routine appointment.
17 weeks – Unable to drive, can’t do school runs, more time off work. Mood swings, hormonal allergies and itching.
18 weeks – Felt baby move for the first time.
19 weeks – Reactivation of shingles virus causing more pain & long fibro flare up, prescribed antivirals. Permanent exhaustion.
20 weeks – Start using Avulux glasses, migraines decrease and can reduce migraine medication further. praise be. Twenty week scan delayed.
21 weeks – Gender scan. It’s a boy 💙low lying placenta picked up but not mentioned to us. Warned not everything can be seen on a scan but all good so far with baby growth. 28 week scan booked.
22 weeks – crutches becoming unmanageable with fibro – mobility scooter purchased, gaining weight fast.
23 weeks – Spotting after sex. Reduced fetal movement monitoring. Feeling ashamed and embarrassed of my immobility, weight gain rapid.
24 weeks – mobility worsening, mental health struggling as a result. Feel like a shit mum. Social services agreed for adaptations made in the home, grab rails shower seat etc
26 weeks – Glucose tolerance test – came back negative. Praise be
27 weeks – Almost every day spent in bed, midwife doesn’t reply to message for 10 days. phoned doctor in agony and tears begging for pain relief – Shaun having to lift me from bed every morning before he goes to work.
28 weeks – Growth scan confirmed placenta previa – talks of early cesarian birth. Talks of baby needing to stay in hospital post birth. Talks of NICU and breathing difficulties. Must abstain from sex. 36 week scan booked. Consultant okayed using tens machine for pain.
30 weeks – shingles flared up again, back on antivirals, sitting on ice packs, barely moving from bed. Tens machine doesn’t reach nerve pain.
31 weeks – Not long now but still feeling uncertain – not much advice about mobility after birth specifically if needing cesarian birth. Midwife appointment moved for the 3rd time no support re reducing medication further for delivery to avoid withdrawal in the baby.
In 7 months I’ve had approximately 10 good days. That’s not an exaggeration. It’s the truth. I’ve been unable to work, drive, leave the house on my own, cook a meal, take my daughter to the park, walk our dog. In 31 weeks I’ve been told by people who have absolutely nothing to do with my medical care that I’m just depressed, I’ve been told ‘at least the baby is ok’ and I’ve been told to ‘wait and see.’ And to ‘stay positive’
I’ve been hit with statistics, risks, percentages and ‘can cause’ (‘s) at every appointment.
In 31 weeks my husband has gone from being my lover to my carer. My daughter has gone from having a mum who actively participates in her life, to one who just watches. She has spent more time with her Dad and Nanny than anyone else. She has been going to school for 10 hour days because I can’t do the school runs and I can’t care for her alone in my house when her dad isn’t home. I can’t care for myself alone in my house.
I have gained weight like a duck pending foi gras.
I’ve been told not to wish pregnancy away. To enjoy it. I’ve been told that I’ll forget all of my pain once he’s here.
Despite all of this, every single day all I do is think of the baby. All I do is wait and see. All I do is think of my family. I have lived the last 31 weeks in agony and begged for the pain of labour over how I feel daily – at least then I could have some decent pain relief without worrying it’s going to cause my baby long term developmental damage.
So the reason this timeline was helpful is because, actually, despite all of the shit I have dealt with in the last 7 months, I have kept going. I have made decisions for the sake of the baby and my family that have negatively impacted me but have been important in supporting them. I have survived. I have tried, and I have kept going. I have found ways to push on.
My friend told me about a quote the other day that says
‘Everyone wants to hold the baby, but who holds the mum’
And I have needing holding. I have needed reminding, though even when I have been reminded, I have failed to remind myself.
I have sacrificed a lot in hope, in knowing it’s worth it, in putting other people before myself. I’ve been in agonising pain, I’ve cried and screamed and complained but every single day I’ve still got through it. I’ve had a great support in my close family and friends and I’ve been lucky that people have taken the time to remind me how well I’m doing despite the challenges – but I wrote this to remind myself. It might seem like as long as the baby is ok everything is fine, but that’s so far from the truth when it comes to pregnancy and health. A healthy baby might be the most important thing. But it’s definitely not the only important thing.
And while I’ve been thanking everyone for their help, I’ve been condemning myself for needing help in the first place. I’ve been drilling myself every single day about how useless I am. When actually I’m not useless. I’m not redundant in this journey, I am the journey. And when we come out the other side whatever the outcome looks like, I plan to celebrate the fact that I made it.