Saturday, 22 June 2013
The First Three Months...
I've got a theory that the first trimester of pregnancy is one of the most terrifying times of any woman's life. For those that have been actively trying for a baby, it's also one of the longest. Thanks to advanced pregnancy testing technology, it is now possible to find out that you're pregnant up to four days before your menstrual period is even due; meaning that you're launched head first into very dodgy territory.
Back in ye olde dayes, women often had to wait for around two weeks after their missed period before getting a positive result on a home pregnancy test. Often, their period would arrive in this time and they wouldn't realise that they had, in fact, managed to conceive. This is known as a chemical pregnancy (or a very early miscarriage), and it's a very common occurrence. I read somewhere that as many as 70% of conceptions are thought to end this way. That's fine if you haven't been watching your cycle like you've got OCD and peeing on sticks every half an hour.
Added to the abject terror felt every time you go to the toilet ("am I bleeding?!") is the fact that it's no longer acceptable to announce your pregnancy until the end of the first trimester, and you've had your twelve week scan. I completely understand that, it makes a lot of sense. However, it does mean that you're expected to face a genuinely scary time almost on your own. Your husband or partner is just elated that their sperm works (quite rightly) and have little understanding of how fragile this little life inside you feels.
Most people choose to tell their close family and friends, and therefore have a bit of a support network. However there is a standard response, and that is "Well, it's early days yet". This sentence is supposed to keep the pregnant lady grounded until it has been confirmed that everything is ok, but in the hormonally charged brain of the expecting, this phrase roughly translates as: "you could miscarry at any time". Mental? Probably. But true.
Another one that you hear a lot is that "you're only just pregnant". This one often comes from people who already have children, as though a pregnancy somehow doesn't count until you can see the shape of a foot pushing against your abdomen. Along with Googling symptoms, all of this naturally leads to a sense of very real fear in the hearts of the expectant.
I'm writing this because the first trimester is something so rarely discussed, and it's important for women to feel that they're not alone in their complete neuroses. By the time the announcement is made, the foetus has been seen bobbing around merrily on an ultrasound and all of the fears of the past few months are forgotten. But, for those going through it, it can be incredibly rough - and I'm not just referring to the type of rough that ends with a head in a toilet; although there's plenty of that too.
It's important to try and stay positive, but it's also worth noting that you're not alone. Especially for women going through their first pregnancy, it's perfectly normal to feel just a tiny bit terrified.
Remember: it'll all be worth it in the end...
P.S. I'm writing this at seven weeks but, for obvious reasons, it won't be posted for some time. By the time I publish this, I expect that I'll be wondering what the bloody hell I was worrying about...