2014-04-16

All I’ve ever heard from friends who are pregnant is pregnancy is not an illness, and don’t treat them differently because they are pregnant.  Invite them to stuff, expect them to join in.  Expect them to work.  Expect them to exercise.  All I have seen is people achieve this.

I cannot achieve this.  Pregnancy is not an illness.  But I am certainly ill and pregnancy is the direct cause of my illness.

And (although I have been life threateningly ill before) this is the most directly impactful illness I have ever had as every element of my life revolves around it.

I have been significantly ill since around week six of my pregnancy with either nausea or high blood pressure (with a side of antenatal depression).  I have taken medication every day of my pregnancy.  I currently take 10 pills per day.  I have gone to hospital at least twice a week for the last month, and will do so for the next three months.  If anything my illness levels will get worse, certainly there is no expectation that I will get any better whilst pregnant.  And maybe not even for a while after.

I’m going to be ill for eight months.  How often are people ill for a full eight months?  Rarely.  How often are you already ill and know you are going to be ill for a further three months and that it is likely to get worse?  Rarely.

At the moment I am working two days a week, ish, sleep and hospital permitting.  As I am self employed this means I have lost more than half of my income.  After having pretty much the full first trimester off sick already.  If I was employed by a company I’d probably have had to have the full pregnancy off (although possibly with sick pay for some of it).  How often are people so ill that they have to be off work with no income for a full eight months?  Rarely.

At the moment I am sleeping at least 12 hours a day.  I wake up and I feel like shit, I can barely drag myself out of bed and on 12 hours sleep I can barely keep my eyes open some of the rest of the time.  As an experiment at the weekend I slept my ‘natural hours’.  I slept for 18 hours in one day.  I could continue to do this.  This is how much sleep my body is telling me I need.  No, I am not lucky my lifestyle allows me to do this.  No, I should not be grateful that I can do this.  No this is not a handy preparation for the early days of child rearing.  Do you tell all that to someone who has the flu?  No! I am ill.  I am on three kinds of drowsy medication and that is severely screwing with me.  It isn’t funny, I don’t want it.  I wish I could go to work but instead I am choosing to sacrifice earning any income to accommodate getting some of the sleep my body is telling me it needs.

Somehow I don’t seem to be able to express how ill I am and how awful this is.

All I hear is that I should be grateful I am pregnant or being looked after through my endless hours in the uncomfortable hospital waiting room where it is all I can do to stop myself curling up on the floor and sleeping.  Or that this is supposed to help me come to terms with being a parentand that parenthood is somehow about giving up everything and feeling awful.  Or that somehow I should have expected this as a possible part of any pregnancy and that I should be cool with giving up all hope of work or socialising or exercise or anything I used to enjoy.  Or that this is all going to be worthwhile so I should quit my whinging.

How worthwhile this will be and how grateful I should be is mine to judge, not somebody else’s.  Taking that away from me minimises my experience of something that I consider to be by far – BY FAR – the most challenging time of my life.  And a time of my life that I am stuck in for another few months yet.

Because yes, this is time limited.  But if you think about it, really think about it, can you imagine being able to just ‘accept’ and cope with being seriously ill for five months and with a further three month to go?  I wish I could say that the time limited nature of the illness made it easier for me, but it only makes it harder to know how long it will be until respite comes.

I love my unborn baby, he makes me smile to think he is growing nicely in there.  I have his scan photo by my bed to remind me of this.  He keeps me going.  Just.  Seriously.  Just.

I feel terrible, really really severely low.  This is a marathon.  It feels endless.

There is no way that this is a normal pregnancy.  Why can’t I get people to understand or empathise even a little bit?  I just wish someone, anyone, could acknowledge that this is seriously shit for me.  Please please please someone just let me have that.

 

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