Pregnancy update - 25 weeks

 Photograph by my dear friend Leney Breeden.

Photograph by my dear friend Leney Breeden.

It’s so strange to me to see a photograph of myself noticeably pregnant (and these photos were taken about six weeks ago too, so my belly is SO much bigger already), and it’s even stranger to recognise the person in the photos as me…because I feel so wholly unlike myself just now. I’m a person who photographs people for a living, mostly women, and often during pregnancy. Without fail, I see them as beautiful, in such a special phase of life and doing just the hardest, most magical job of all and growing another human being inside their bodies. I reassure them, make them feel comfortable, at peace with their vulnerabilities and hopefully, hopefully I make them feel that they are beautiful. But to do this for myself? Well, I’m terrible at it. I use all the excuses I hear from other women who avoid being photographed, and I say all the things to myself that I get so upset about when I hear other women saying it to themselves. Honestly, right now, I don’t feel great about my body and I have to work hard daily to not get down on myself about the way I look. I know my body is doing a magical, special thing, but it feels more alien to me each day. I’m constantly achey, sore and tired and much of the time I am yearning to be past the baby making days.

I’ve spent a lot of this pregnancy thinking about how relieved I’ll be when it’s all over. No more pregnancy, no more giving birth, no more sharing my body with another human being ever again. It doesn’t mean I’m not excited about having another baby, nor does it mean I’m going to love that baby any less, I just think it’s important to be honest about where I’m at. I loved my first pregnancy, but I’m not enjoying this one nearly as much. That’s just how it is, and the reality of having an almost-three year old to look after and a small business to run at the same time is that there’s not much down time. Much of how I feel this time around isn’t necessarily specifically pregnancy related, but more to do with life being extra tiring and challenging at the moment. I have a teething, nap dropping toddler on my hands, and the constant whines, demands and unruly over or under tired behaviour is more than a little wearing. I mean, she’s wonderful, of course…loving and kind and hilarious and a lot of fun to be around. But she’s also three, which means she’s opinionated, strong willed and impatient. Add a little sprinkle of no-napping tiredness and our days feel longer and more frustrating than before. Autumn and Winter are my busiest work seasons of the year, and of course Rory and I have come down with a nasty cold which has taken all our sleep, energy and patience. I’m feeling fairly constantly stressed and sleep deprived, and overwhelmed by everything that needs to get done in a day. Gav is working a lot (hello retail careers at Christmas time) and we are often sleeping in separate rooms so at least one of us can get some sleep while the other comforts poor Rory when she wakes in pain because of her teeth. It’s been a lot of hard work, not much rest and not nearly enough fun. As someone who likes to live life with plenty of space to breathe, to practice gratitude and to fill my days with the things that bring me joy, I’ve felt so horribly guilty at just how intense I’ve found the last few weeks and how much I’ve wished away this time of being pregnant. I don’t like to feel busy and rushed all the time, but I’ve had to accept that this is just a reality of my life right now. I have a lot we want to accomplish in a short space of time, and in order to reach my goals with work and especially with renovating and decorating our home, we must push on until the end of the year. The more I do now, the less I have to do at the start of the New Year when I know I really will need to just slow down and centre myself again. So I’m holding out for that, the last few months of this pregnancy to really settle in to it, find some calm and some space to appreciate where I’m at.

My second pregnancy is so very different to the first. Being pregnant with Rory felt so indulgent at times. I could really focus every day on my body, my health and the growing baby inside me. I’d go for walks every morning around the park to connect me with the seasons, with my body and with my new baby. It was a really wonderful time and a huge part of why I enjoyed that pregnancy so much. It focused me on so many positive things, not least my plan to start my own business in the following year. I worked from home during that time, I could take naps whenever I wanted to, have date nights with Gav to soak up those last weeks and months of it being just the two of us. I’d take long soaks in the bath, spend whole days in bed watching movies or knitting and have time and energy to read through the stack of books on my bedside table. And this time around? Well, I feel like I’ve barely seen Gav in months, and I’ve mostly been asleep so early every evening that we have had no quality time together at all in almost five months. It’s physically so much harder work, with 25 weeks pregnant looking and feeling more like 30ish, I’m bigger and rounder much earlier and with that comes more aches and pains and a need to slow down sooner than I had hoped. I feel guilty how little this baby gets thought about, or talked about, because we are already so busy with life and work. Those long naps, mindful walks and baths to myself…well I can only dream of them! Mostly it’s a case of just making it through the day and then collapsing into bed in a heap. I’m also struggling a bit with pelvic girdle pain, especially after a shoot or long day of work and travel, making walking and climbing stairs a little difficult when I’ve over exerted myself. I don’t remember having to consciously slow down until I was well over 30 weeks pregnant with Rory, and although I had pretty bad restless leg syndrome I don’t remember being in much pain at all. My body is just telling me to take it easy already, I know, I know…

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But, it’s not all things to complain about. I promise! Just mostly, haha. It’s just so sweet and tender to have Rory stroking my belly, singing to her baby sister and taking about how she wants to help change her nappy and feed her when she is here. She often comments “wow, mama, look at your big belly!” or she’ll throw her arms around my stomach and exclaim “I love my baby sister”. It’s wonderful that this an experience I can share with her, given the age gap between the two of them she understand a lot of what is going on. I am so looking forward to seeing her become a big sister, and for the three of us to become a team. Me and my girls. Oh yeah, did I tell you that yet? I’m having another girl. Honestly, this time around I would have been happy either way (with Rory I was dreaming of a girl), and I was SO convinced I was having a boy. I guess that I always saw myself having one of each, because I have a younger brother, and it never occurred to me I’d be the mama of two girls. The wriggling in my belly from this new little life if almost constant, and while still a little weird (is it ever not weird to have a tiny human kicking and hiccuping inside you?) it always reminds me that there’s just a few short months to go until we meet her, and I’m just so excited for that moment when I get to see her face for the first time. Every so often I get a second to stop and relax, or I catch sight of my reflection in a mirror and I rub my big round belly and marvel at the little life that I’m growing. Three years ago it was Rory in there, and now…I wonder who it is? What she will be like and look like. Those moments are peaceful, and I’m trying to hang on to them and remind myself to make space for more. But they will come…that quiet time between Christmas and New Year, when everything and everyone stops…I can’t wait for that.

I’ve also been planning ahead for the birth, it keeps me calm and focused and I’m determined to have a better, more empowered experience second time around. I’ve hired two wonderful doulas (they do shared care so I’ll essentially have 2 for 1…but more on this soon!) to support me during my labour and delivery, something I regret not doing for Rory’s birth. The baby’s room is being decorated slowly, and I’m starting to take all the old newborn clothes out of storage so I can wash, dry and fold them away ready for her. I’m keen to do a lot of things differently, like using cloth nappies, re-usable wipes and making a lot of my own natural remedies for nappy rash, teething etc. It’s a lovely feeling to be going into it this time with some previous experience, knowledge of what worked for me and what didn’t and getting a do-over for some of the things I didn’t get around to doing for Rory. We’re lucky enough to have a dedicated room for the baby, so I can make it a cosy space for those midnight feeds and changes, baby books and toys and all the other bits and bobs you inevitably collect when a little person enters your family. It’ll be nice to have a place we can hang out, maybe even take naps and play together. Whatever we do with it, it’s keeping me calm and focused to tinker away with the preparations. I might not be enjoying the physical part of pregnancy so much this time around, but I’m enjoying the nesting and dreaming part a lot more. I need to work a little less, argue with a three year old a little less, and slowly make plans for this new little life to appear.

So, at 25 weeks I am generally feeling alright, despite my complaints about the already fairly large bump, the constantly kicking-the-crap-outta-me human in my belly and a teething, nap dropping toddler keeping me up at night and challenging me a little during the days. I’m tired, slightly overworked, definitely fighting off a cold, and running out of clothes that fit me. But, as always I’m doing my best to remain present, grateful and fully appreciative of this time that I have. It’s a privilege to be pregnant, to have a beautiful daughter to keep me up at night, and to have a house to renovate. Tiredness and busy-ness just sometimes cloud my enjoyment of the process. I’m searching for those pockets of time that I can be present, and I fully intend to be making space for a whole lot more of them very soon.

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