Part 13 - The 20 Week Scan and Placenta Previa

It wasn’t long after the morning sickness eased that I felt my first fluttering.  It was the strangest feeling because it was ever so gentle yet strong enough to catch my attention. You could easily have mistaken it for trapped wind, but the more it happened the more I came to recognise that it was the baby moving inside me. Quite amazing!

By 19 weeks, I was feeling much more my usual self to the extent that I even toasted my thirty eighth birthday with a glass of champagne – never has champagne tasted so good!  Up until that point the mere thought of wine and champagne had been enough to turn my stomach, but now the sickness had eased, my taste buds were back to normal again. I also had a lot more energy so I wasn’t having to crash into bed early each evening.

I was jubilant to be pregnant, although I’d come to realise that being pregnant didn’t necessarily mean that I was constantly happy as I may have once imagined. That was another lesson.  I had spent so much of my adult life longing to meet the man with whom I could have a family, that I felt my happiness depended on it. I’d searched the world twice over and spent a lot of time praying to the angels for this dream to come true.

I lost track of the number of conversations I’d had with my best friends about us finding our respective Mr Rights, and about the children we would one day have (one of those friends ended up with Mr Wright incidentally, oh how we chuckle about this!). I’d also lost track of the number of failed relationships we’d had between us in our search for ‘the one’. It wasn’t necessarily that we weren’t happy with our lot, but we figured it would make us and our lives complete to have the ‘ideal’ partner and our child in it.

And now here I was pregnant and with a loving partner and yes, there was a certain feeling of completeness that came with that, but it didn’t mean that I was constantly happy. There were days when I was very happy and incredibly joyous about he new life growing inside me, but equally there were days when I felt out of sorts and a little miserable and I found myself praying to the angels for guidance.

It reminded me that our state of happiness and sense of wellbeing is not dependent on anyone or anything else, but on our state of mind and our perspective. After all we choose the thoughts to which we give our attention.  So, even pregnant, I still had my moments.  Plus, I may well have realised the dream of meeting my partner and becoming pregnant, but now I dreamt of a home vaginal birth – there was always another dream, something else to work towards.

The truth is, I thought that a vaginal home birth was the only way I was going to experience the spirituality in birth. I had this image in my head of me birthing on my own in the darkness of the bathroom, all primal and earthy.  I expected to drop my awareness deep into my body and into the sensation of the pain I would inevitably be experiencing so that I could gain insight into the very essence of life and the birthing process. In so doing I imagined a spiritual awakening, a journey into the light, a state of enlightenment.

E wasn’t so sure about this home birth malarkey.  Understandably he wasn’t particularly bothered about my need for spiritual awakening, he was more concerned about the health of the baby and s/he arriving Earth side safely. I was concerned about this too, but it wasn’t my only consideration. I was adamant that the only way I would experience what I wanted to experience was in the home environment. I certainly had no intention of birthing in a hospital as I wanted zero intervention.

Little did I realise how much I was setting myself up for a fall. I figured I was being all spiritual and open minded about birth but now I look back, this was farthest from the truth.  I was in fact incredibly close minded and judgemental.  I just couldn’t understand the reason women would choose to birth in a hospital, and I certainly couldn’t get my head around them choosing to have a Caesarean section, or induction and would be a little vocal about this at times.

A week or so after my birthday, we had an appointment for the 20-week scan. As the date approached I became increasingly anxious and short tempered. It was ridiculous really, but I couldn’t help myself.  I felt on edge and no amount of praying to the angels or Goddess of the Moon was easing this.  I certainly couldn’t sit still to meditate and I was distracted in my yoga practice too. Fear had taken hold and I couldn’t seem to shift this.

We were greeted by the same Australian sonographer who had undertaken our twelve-week scan and her colleague who was undertaking some training with her. This scan is carried out in the same way as the twelve-week dating scan with gel on the tummy and the sonographer passing the ultrasound device backwards and forwards over your skin. I proudly bared my just visible baby bump and lay back on the bed with E sitting beside me.

This scan looks in detail at the baby’s bones, heart, brain, spinal cord, face, kidneys and abdomen, and allows the sonographer to look for physical abnormalities in the baby and specifically for eleven conditions, some of which are very rare. In most cases the scan will show that the baby appears to be developing normally but sometimes the sonographer will find or suspect a problem – some problems can be seen more clearly than others.  

This scan also tends to present the opportunity to discover the sex of the baby, although this isn’t the intention of the scan per se and there is no certainty that it will be 100% accurate.  I’ve known two couples who were told at the twenty-week scan that they were carrying girls, only to end up with boys upon delivery, causing quite a shock and a little adjustment, certainly in terms of pink themed nurseries and pink clothes!

We didn’t want to know the sex of the baby and made sure that the sonographers were aware of this. This didn’t stop me being curious however, especially as the image of the baby was so clear on the screen. It was amazing really. Here was our little bean visible to the naked eye, wriggling around and doing his/her thing and looking like a proper baby. It was very exciting.

The lady sonographer guided us through the process as she carefully checked the baby’s organs and took the necessary measurements required by this scan to determine the size of the baby and check everything looked well. The male sonographer had a look too and fortunately the baby appeared fine, no obvious abnormalities were found. However, the lady sonographer was concerned about the positioning of my placenta, which was still lying low in my uterus.

I’d already researched this a little and had read that one of the most common problems spotted at the twenty-week ultrasound is placenta Previa. The placenta is the pancake-shaped organ, normally located near the top of the uterus, that supplies the baby with nutrients through the umbilical cord. Placenta Previa is where the placenta is nearby, or actually covering some or all of the cervix.

It’s a potentially dangerous condition because if the placenta covers the cervix, it blocks the baby’s way out, requiring a Caesarean section to deliver the baby. More seriously, as the cervix dilates towards the end of pregnancy, the placenta can be torn and bleed, which can be life-threatening to mother and baby.

Complete or partial placenta Previa, where the placenta covers at least a quarter, or even all of the cervix, occurs in around 1 in 200 pregnancies, and requires careful monitoring by a doctor. More common is a marginal placenta Previa, where the placenta is close by, or touching the cervix, but not actually covering it.

At twenty weeks, when the placenta is relatively large compared to the size of the uterus, many women appear to have placenta Previa. However, as the uterus grows, the placenta moves further away from the cervix and by the time they have another scan, 90% of women with marginal placenta Previa at twenty weeks, will likely be given the all-clear and be able to try for a vaginal birth.

Sadly, it looked unlikely that I would be in that 90% as my placenta appeared to be completely covering the cervix. This meant I had to have yet another internal vaginal examination so that the sonographer could be absolutely certain of this. It wasn’t quite what I had in mind that morning and I was slightly daunted by the fact there were two sonographers present, but one does what one has to do in the circumstances.

Much to my utter dismay, the vaginal scan revealed my fears; I had complete placenta Previa. This meant that the placenta was completely covering the cervix and in such a way that it was very unlikely it was going to move from this position. I knew that it wasn’t going to move, I could feel it in my heart, and no amount of people telling me it would, or praying to the angels and the Goddess of the moon was going to change this. It was my fate.

Clearly there were still lessons to be learned on this quest to procreate and become a Mum.  Going through IVF was not enough. And in many respects looking back, I can see clearly the potential blessings in the curse. But back then I was absolutely bereft and it was all I could do to hold it together in the scanning room as the sonographer told me that I would be referred to a specialist and that I should immediately telephone the hospital if I started to bleed.

Once outside the hospital building I burst into tears.  Poor E had no idea what was going on, as far as he was concerned the baby was okay, so why was I crying? And that was the point I missed.  Of course I was delighted that the baby was healthy, but if I’m honest, I fairly much took that for granted.  I hadn’t anticipated a problem with the baby, and perhaps I wasn’t as grateful as I should have been.

All I cared about in that moment was the fact that I was going to have to have a Caesarean section. The baby was going to enter the world in the completely opposite way to the one I had intended, namely early, in a theatre, with lights and noise, and drugs and strangers. This was absolutely not how it was meant to be. I wanted spiritual music and candles, the darkness of the bathroom, and the opportunity to truly go within, birth without fear and have a spiritual experience.

I had a lot to learn.

The Goddess of the Moon was dancing, but I most definitely wasn’t dancing with her.

I telephoned my parents from the car and burst into tears all over again.  They were concerned something was wrong with the baby and were relieved when they found out the problem was with my placenta instead. They tried to help me realise that I should be feeling relieved, not distraught. But I just couldn’t see beyond the Caesarean section, it was like a neon light in my mind flashing, “Caesarean section, Caesarean section, Caesarean section”.

I was angry, very angry. It just didn’t seem fair. What was the Universe playing at? Not only had I had to have a clinical conception (albeit conscious, but it took me a while to recognise this) but now here I was going to have to have a clinical birth too. Plus, there was now an increased chance of painless vaginal bleeding during the third trimester and with that the risk of being hospitalised.

The bleeding happens when the cervix begins to thin out or open up (even a little), which disrupts the blood vessels in the area. What happens after this would depend on the stage of pregnancy, the heaviness of the bleeding and how the baby and I were doing. If the baby was still premature, s/he would be delivered immediately if the conditions warranted it or if the bleeding was so heavy that it didn’t stop.

Otherwise, I would be watched in the hospital until the bleeding stopped. If the baby was less than 34 weeks’ gestation, I would be given steroids to speed up the baby’s lung development and to prevent other complications in case s/he ended up being delivered prematurely. If the bleeding stopped and I remained free of bleeding for at least a couple of days, then I would probably be sent home (it’s likely that the bleeding would start up again at some point and, if that happened, then I would need to return to the hospital immediately).

However, if both of us continued to do well and the baby didn’t need to be delivered right away then a Caesarean section would be scheduled at around 37 weeks, unless there was a reason to intervene earlier. When making the decision, the medical staff would need to weigh up the benefit of giving the baby extra time to mature against the risk of waiting, with the possibility of facing an episode of heavy bleeding and the need for an emergency Caesarean section.

Furthermore, after a baby is delivered by Caesarean section, the obstetrician delivers the placenta and the mother is given medication to encourage the uterus to contract, which helps stop the bleeding from the area where the placenta was implanted. However, with placenta Previa, the placenta is implanted in the lower part of the uterus, which doesn't contract as well as the upper part so the contractions aren't as effective at stopping the bleeding. This may result in heavy bleeding and the need for a blood transfusion.

Also, women who have placenta Previa are also more likely to have a placenta that's implanted too deeply and that doesn't separate easily at delivery. This is called placenta accreta, which can cause massive bleeding and the need for multiple blood transfusions at delivery. It can be life threatening and may require a hysterectomy to control the bleeding.

Finally, if you need to deliver before term, there is a risk that the baby will be at risk of complications from premature birth – such as breathing problems and low birth weight and the need for neo-natal care. It wasn’t ideal. Certainly not the stuff of dreams and it brought with it not only the anger and frustration, but a huge amount of fear too.

Once I’d calmed down and accepted my reality (as much as I ever truly accepted it), I realised that I needed to do what I could to limit the chances of bleeding.  I absolutely didn’t want to end up hospitalised and I had no intention of the baby arriving early. I had read far too much about the implications of premature delivery on a baby’s gut and lung development and the resulting affect this would have on their overall health and wellbeing and I didn’t want this for my baby.

I resolved therefore, that my baby was not going to be delivered early.  I was going to make it my mission to carry on life as usual and do what I could (intuitively) to ensure I didn’t bleed. I was still very angry – and would be for a further three years – but I came to recognise that this condition presented me with yet another opportunity to drop deeper into my spiritual practice and be guided by my body and the messages it was conveying to me.  

Crying on my yoga mat was a good start and from there I resolved to figure out a yoga practice, which would help to keep the baby inside me for as long as possible.  This meant practicing in the completely opposite way to the usual pregnancy yoga sequencing which aims to prepare the body for birthing vaginally and opening everything up accordingly. It was time to put the books aside and go within again.



Happy Ostara - the Spring Equinox

The word equinox comes from the Latin word meaning ‘equal night’; and means that day and night are of equal length all over the world. For us in the northern hemisphere, the days will get longer and warmer and the nights will get shorter. This is therefore the festival of balance, the balance of the masculine and feminine, light and dark, expansion and contraction, conscious and unconscious, the inner world and the outer world, the joining of the unconscious and the unconscious.

Officially acknowledged as the first day of Spring, this is a very powerful time in nature as there is a major energetic shift from winter and if we are aware of it we can harness the new, fresh energy that this season offers. This is a fabulous time for new beginnings and for sowing new seeds, both physically and symbolically. The plants that grow from these seeds will represent that for which you are working. When the plant bears fruit at harvest so too should your intention manifest in physical form.

In the Pagan tradition this day also celebrates the union of the beautiful spring maiden with the young ardent male.  As Glennie Kindred writes, “Their union makes all of nature fertile. Here we can make contact with their archetypal energy within ourselves, no matter what age or gender. Many women are now seeking to balance their male and female sides within themselves and are looking for the same balance in men. The ardent young man, who is non-aggressive, in touch with his instincts and can show his feelings, is a precious image to hold. The Greeks gave us Pan with horns and hooves, part man, part animal. The Celts gave us Cernunnos or Herne, also with horns, in touch with his animal instincts, wise, magical, the master of the three levels of existence, playful, sexual, sensuous, spiritual. He was outlawed by the church who changed him into the devil, the root of evil, thereby denying men an essential part of themselves. We need to reclaim him. Men need to connect to his life-giving instinctive nature. Women need to find him in the men they know. Here lies the spark, the power in their joining and their joint potential that will change the future”.

This is therefore the ideal time to balance these energies within ourselves regardless of gender. So this means balancing the masculine and the feminine, of joining together the rational conscious mind with the intuition and inner wisdom, to create a new way of being that is more aligned with our higher selves and more in balance, not least within ourselves but in the world around us too.

It’s all about listening. Dropping within and learning to listen to that inner voice that already knows everything. And then learn to trust in this voice and act on its wisdom and create new beginnings that help to bring your light into the manifest world. In so doing, we can create a more harmonious and balanced way of living, that creates a more harmonious, love-filled and balanced world in the process.  Amen!


The Equinox Shift

Over the last 48 hours quite a few people have mentioned to me that they feel down, depressed, tired and irritable. Don't panic. It's the Equinox. There's a huge shift occurring out there so its inevitable that we feel it too. The fact is we're being called to shift too, to align our lives more fully with our higher selves. This means things need to break down and with that comes the darkness before the light. Remember you need darkness to see the light and don't forget that you've been preparing for this, those of you coming to class, practising yoga and doing your Reiki attunements. You chose this. Your soul wants this. The world needs this. We'll all be lighter and brighter when we come through the other side of the Equinox on gentle, be kind, drink lots of water, don't self-destruct, eat clean and SWIM IN THE SEA...

In order for the new to arrive, we must first allow the old to shatter. Sometimes this happens on its own. And sometimes it requires that we do the smashing. To tear apart what we’ve built because things have changed, including you. To admit that while it once was aligned, now it no longer is. This shattering requires both courage and faith. Courage to let go and faith that the pieces will come back together again in a way that was more aligned than it was before” Rebecca Campbell

Part 12 - The Twelve-Week Scan

For many the twelve-week scan is the first time that they get to see their growing baby on a screen. We’d already had a number of scans by this stage, albeit internal vaginal ones, so we were very aware how exciting it is to see your baby in utero. I shall never forget the mind blowing nature of our first scan at 6-weeks gestation, which showed a simple beating heart reminding me that we are all about the heart essentially. Then two weeks later to determine the number of babies I was carrying and seeing little arm and leg buds, equally amazing. 

The twelve-week scans tend to be carried out by specially trained staff called sonographers and conducted in a dimly lit room so the sonographer can get good images of the baby. At the scan itself you’re asked to lie on a couch and to lower your skirt or trousers to your hips and lift your top to your chest so your abdomen is uncovered. The sonographer or their assistant should tuck tissue paper around your clothing to protect it from the gel, which will be put on your tummy.

The sonographer then passes a handheld probe over your skin to be able to examine the baby's body. The gel makes sure that there is good contact between the probe and your skin and in theory a black and white image of the baby will appear on the ultrasound screen. Having the scan doesn’t hurt as such, but the sonographer may need to apply slight pressure to get the best views of the baby and this can be a little uncomfortable with a full bladder.

The sonographer needs to keep the screen in a position that gives them a good view of the baby so the screen may be directly facing them, or at an angle, but you may have another screen ahead of you so you can see what s/he is doing. Sometimes the sonographer will need to be quiet while they concentrate on checking the baby; it’s good to know this so you’re not worrying about what they may have found. They’ll be able to talk to you about the pictures once they've completed the check and if you’re lucky you also get to take some images home with you – here on Guernsey you pay for the privilege.

This first scan at twelve-weeks is sometimes called the dating scan because the sonographer estimates when the baby is due (the estimated date of delivery) based on the baby’s measurements. I already had an idea of my due date because we had an exact date of ‘conception’ from the clinic, so I wasn’t sure how a machine could better that really, and it can’t, it just provides an estimation. However, a lot can hinge on this estimated date in terms of gestation period (in the case of premature babies this has quite some implication) and a date which may determine whether you are ‘overdue’ and require induction (and therefore intervention).

I’ve never been entirely comfortable with the idea of the estimated date.  I appreciate that you need to have one, and I appreciate that many women don’t know when they actually conceived and therefore need an indication of where they are in their pregnancy, but I’m just not convinced we should get too hung up on the date in terms of delivery. 

From my experience babies arrive when they’re ready to arrive and psychologically I’ve seen many women get themselves all worked up when the baby doesn’t arrive on the ‘due date’. They then have induction and intervention hanging over their heads, which can create unnecessary stress.

Furthermore, other people, be that family, friends and/or work colleagues can become very fixated on a date and add additional pressure to the anticipation of the eagerly awaited birth. Lots of judgments can also arise in terms of the size of bump in relation to the stage of pregnancy, which of course brings with it anxieties as people – often innocently - comment on how big the baby may be, or how big you are getting carrying the baby – none of this is helpful, especially if you are already anxious about the potential vaginal delivery!

Still here we were at the dating scan, so it was of course to be expected that we would be given a date and yes, it turned out to be a few days short of the date we had expected based on the information provided to us by Wessex.  The dating machine determined that our little bean would be expected for delivery on 21 November 2013, 9 days short of E’s 47th birthday. I decided however not to place too much emphasis on this date, the baby would arrive when s/he wanted to arrive, and often first babies can be notoriously late.

The 12-week scan can also include a nuchal translucency (NT) scan, which is part of the combined screening test for Down’s syndrome and involves a blood test and an ultrasound scan.  We decided to take the screening test which basically looks at the risk in the pregnancy of the baby being born with Down’s syndrome.  It doesn’t give a definite ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer - if the screening test shows a higher risk that the baby has Down’s syndrome then you are offered a diagnostic test to see if the baby actually does have Down’s syndrome or not. 

The screening involves the scan, where the sonographer measures the fluid collection under the skin at the back of the baby’s neck (the nuchal translucency). Apparently all babies have a collection of fluid here but babies with Down’s syndrome tend to have more fluid in this area. The fluid measurement, your age, the size of the baby and other details such as your weight, ethnicity and smoking status are then put into a computer program to give the risk of the baby having Down’s syndrome. Sometimes it can be difficult to obtain an accurate measurement of the nuchal translucency due to the position of the baby or because the pregnant lady is overweight.

Blood tests may be done to measure levels of various hormones and proteins in your blood – these hormones and proteins are produced by the placenta or the developing baby. If the baby has Down’s syndrome, the levels of these substances can be affected. Again a computer programme is used to give the risk of the baby having Down’s syndrome, based on the blood test results, your age, the stage in your pregnancy, your weight, ethnicity and smoking status. This blood test is sometimes called serum screening.

During our scan the sonographer managed to measure the nuchal translucency and the result indicated we were low risk. However, we also needed to do the blood test so, following the scan, we walked up to the maternity unit so I could have bloods taken. The choice to undertake this test is very personal to each parent and should be discussed prior to the scan so that you know where you both stand.

I’ve known parents elect not to carry out the screening test and they have been perfectly contented with their decision.  I’ve also known other parents who have chosen not to take the scan but have then spent the latter part of the pregnancy fretting about whether their child may have Down’s syndrome and considering their ability to cope if that happened to be the case. And of course there are other parents like us, who felt that we wanted to know, so at least we could try to prepare ourselves mentally if nothing else.

The scan was excellent. I know there are some who believe that the scans adversely affect the baby, but for us, having already had a number of essential scans with the IVF, we were happy to go with the flow of things. It was actually really exciting and indeed emotional to see a real life baby with a head and arms and legs and organs on the screen. I know that may sound silly because of course we already knew that I was carrying a baby inside me, but it becomes all the more real – we really were having a baby!

However, there was an edge to our scan simply because the sonographer noted that my placenta was lying low. She told me it was highly likely that it would move upwards as the pregnancy progressed but there was something about the way she said it, or perhaps the way I heard it, that made me think that I couldn’t be so sure.

I didn’t know an awful lot about placentas at that point but I made a mental note to find out all I could when I returned home. Other than that the scan seemed fine and we left with the classical scan prints, which don’t really mean an awful lot to anyone else but provide you with a memento all the same!

By the time we attended this scan, I had officially signed up with Anita, my doula, and was on the list to join her pregnancy yoga classes as they were known at the time. I contacted her following my scan and she – like the sonographer – reassured me that it was highly likely that the placenta would move as the uterus expanded and not to worry too much about a low lying placenta. I decided that I would try to forget about it, I am very aware that we attract that to which we give attention, so better not to give it too much attention!

I had already met with a midwife for an initial consultation, in which I relayed my intention to have a home birth. At that time home birthing was only just becoming a more acceptable option so there was some mention of the need to check that the cottage was appropriate and some muttering that if the ward were short staffed then they would expect me to come in to the hospital to birth and access to the birthing pool would be dependant on how busy they were in the delivery rooms.

I was still busily reading any book I could get my hands on about home birth, natural approaches to birth and birthing without fear. I found it all fascinating and with my interest in natural approaches to healing and life generally, let alone the whole law of attraction perspective on things, I was struggling to understand the reason anyone would birth in a hospital or lay themselves at the mercy of unnecessary medical intervention and the whole medicalised and often fearful birthing experience.

Still what I was also beginning to recognise was that the pregnancy world is rife with fear, even I was feeling it in terms of the concern about miscarrying, let alone any of the other anxieties that pregnancy brings. At times it was almost reassuring to feel sick, just to know that I was still pregnant! It’s crazy really as I’m not usually someone who experiences anxiety, so it was a bit of a shock how much this showed up during the pregnancy.

I have to say that those online pregnancy forums don’t help matters and I would strongly encourage others to avoid them as much as they can. Perhaps sometimes they may be helpful, but on the whole I think they just serve to further promote anxiety and prevent you checking in with your own wisdom and trusting in this.

I believe that we already know everything we need to know and as mothers or mothers to be, our intuition is even stronger, certainly in respect of our children be that Earth-side or in utero – I truly believe we know deep down if there’s something wrong or not.

However, I found signing up to was positively insightful as you receive a weekly email explaining the stage of development of the growing foetus based on your estimated due date (see it does have some positives I guess!). I found this helped me to connect more fully with the bean and also helped me to learn a little more about foetal development and the changes experienced by women at various stages of gestation.

I supplemented this with a “week by week” yoga in pregnancy book where the authoress also details the developmental stages but compliments this with yoga poses to support that particular gestation period.

Life continued much as usual over the coming weeks with the sickness finally easing – thank the Goddess of the Moon - and by sixteen weeks it stopped all together. Phew. It was like a switch being switched off, all of a sudden it just went. Furthermore, I started to have more energy and felt like a normal human being again albeit with an expanding waist line – it was such a relief! I think the trouble with morning sickness is you have no idea, especially that first time, when it will ease, and you can’t help feeling a little bit anxious that it may continue the whole of the pregnancy – thankfully not in my case!

Part 11 - Will the morning sickness ever end?

Back home in Guernsey, the tiredness was all consuming. I’ve never known tiredness quite like it; it was all I could do to get through the day.

Prior to the pregnancy I was a night owl and thought nothing of staying up until midnight and beyond. But now I was finding that I absolutely had to be in bed by 9.30pm, it was unheard of and quite a shift for me. I didn’t know how I was going to get everything done, but I had little choice, my body was telling me in no uncertain terms that it absolutely had to rest!

The morning sickness showed no immediate sigh of easing either. I had researched the condition on the internet and had initially been heartened to read that for many morning sickness can peak about week 9, but here we were approaching week twelve and I still felt terrible.

It was incredibly challenging, especially with my heightened sensitivity to smell. I struggled with the smell of the cottage despite cleaning everywhere, even behind and under all the furniture, but still the smell persisted! I also developed an aversion to my usual loved aromatherapy oil scented candle, even the slightest whiff of it was enough to make me feel sick. 

As for the fridge, well I developed an absolute aversion to this too, so that it was challenging having to get something from it - crazy isn’t it, imagine feeling sick every time you go to your fridge. Needless to say cooking was also a trial of sorts, to the extent that I stopped doing it and E lived for a while on anything that was easy to just put in the oven.

Fortunately, my Mum made him lots of meals so it wasn’t like he suffered nutritionally – in fact he probably benefitted as she is a much better cook than me. The worst thing was being in the office because at that point no one knew I was pregnant and the smell of my colleague’s lunch was often stomach churning. It didn’t help I was sitting at a desk near to the kitchen.

As for my lunch, all I wanted to eat was cheese and tomato baguettes and Dorito crisps.  I know I keep saying it but it truly was the strangest thing because I would absolutely never usually eat anything like this and had to ignore the fact I was consuming all these E numbers and additives and just surrender to my body’s rather strange cravings, let alone all that unhealthy fat.

I appreciated that women often put on weight when pregnant, you’re growing a baby after all.  But I didn’t want to use that as an excuse to “stuff my face” as others had told me they did.  Not only did I feel this was unnecessary but I wanted to stay fit and healthy in preparation for the birth and for life with a baby. So I was challenged a little by all these cravings for junk food, but had to just go with the flow of it for now.

The most disconcerting thing was not knowing how long this was all going to go on.  The online pregnancy forums were full of terrible tales of sickness the whole pregnancy and I knew this had been the case for friends locally.  I couldn’t even consider this. I’ve no idea how those women coped and I have every respect. The thought of this sent me into a minor panic and I took comfort in the fact my Mum had not suffered sickness throughout the whole of her pregnancies.

The only saving grace was the fact I wasn’t actually vomiting and there was some respite from the sickness in the late afternoon and evening.  However, I found that yoga teaching was probably the only time I felt truly ok, simply because I’d be focused on the students and therefore completely unaware of my own discomfort.  Plus, I had no choice but to just get on with it.

Still, the Thursday morning classes those next few weeks were tough. I felt really sick and absolutely had to eat something before teaching and yet this was a challenge simply because I had conditioned myself never to eat before yoga; it’s not something you’re encouraged to do as it can lead to digestive issues.  Pregnancy was truly testing me in terms of the rules and limitations I had created in my mind around food and yoga.

One of my students said she knew that I was pregnant simply because of the way I looked, all pasty, pale and yucky – I guess you come to recognise this when you’ve been through it yourself a few times.  I know I didn’t look my best and my body was certainly changing shape and that in itself was challenging because I didn’t want people knowing that my bigger boobs and increasing waistline were signs of pregnancy.

Still the 12-week threshold when we could finally announce the pregnancy was soon approaching and with that an appointment with the midwife and the 12-week scan. I was aware that the natural approach to pregnancy forgoes the scans, but with the recent miscarriage scare, I felt I needed the comfort of seeing the growing foetus on the screen.  It was all very exciting, and as grateful as I was, I really hoped the sickness would ease soon…