first-time-mother-pregnancy-advice
fertility,  pregnancy

Debbie Garland: First Time Pregnancy Advice and Surprises

I am SO happy to be able to introduce you to Debbie Garland, my oldest friend, from before I even knew what friends were!

Unbelievably, we are nearing our 30th year of friendship, having been introduced as babies living opposite each other in a quiet English cul-de-sac. As our Mums bonded over their adorable first-borns, and then later second-borns, and finally third-borns, Debbie and I caught butterflies, played dress-up, picked our flower gardens to bits to make perfumes, and mostly argued about who got to be “The Mum” in our games.

This year, we’ll hopefully be able to introduce our own babies, due just four months apart! I can’t believe we’re both this grown-up, and I can’t wait for our children to grow up knowing each other too.

 

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Debbie & I as babies

 

Do you remember the day you found out you were pregnant? How did you feel, and what was Steve’s reaction?

We found out on the evening of 21st May 2018. Steve and I got married in January 2018 and decided to start trying pretty quickly for a family.

After a few months of active trying (tracking ovulation, menstrual cycle etc), I was fully expecting the disappointment of my period arriving after a few days of feeling bloated with period-pain cramps. On that Monday evening, I had endured a rough day at work not feeling 100% myself and started to feel quite nauseous in the evening while at home. At about 9.30pm, sitting with Steve, the past few days of feeling rubbish (combined with a four day late period by this point!), instinctively made me silently walk to the bathroom and take a test.

Immediately those two lines appeared. I ran back into the lounge where Steve was, throwing this pregnancy test in his face while manically saying:”I knew I didn’t feel right, I knew there was something, I knew it, I knew it.”

Before getting too excited, we decided to drive to a supermarket and buy some of the digital tests. Sitting on our bathroom floor together, we ended up being surrounded by five tests overall, all saying the same thing – I was finally pregnant and 2-3 weeks along.

The next day Steve had to fly to Monaco for the week as part of his job, so in a way I am really pleased that something inside told me to test while he was at home as I don’t think I would have been able to stay as calm if I had seen a positive test by myself. It’s crazy to look back, especially when we were so desperate for a baby, to think about how shocked we were – it’s not like this was an unexpected consequence of our actions. However, nothing will ever prepare you for the moment those two lines appear.

 

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One tip Debbie gave me early on was to keep my pregnancy a secret as long as possible! I absolutely followed this advice, and didn’t announce mine until I was half-way, but I know Debbie was showing a bit earlier than me. You said people were guessing at around 13 weeks, what did they say? Who did you tell first, and did you ever “announce” your pregnancy to everyone else?

The following night after finding out, once Steve was on his way to the airport, I had a bit of a panic about everything and decided to drive to my mum’s house. I didn’t expect to come straight out with the news as soon as my mum, sister and brother answered the door but I needed some reassurance that everything was going to be ok. There were lots of tears and screams of excitement, which was the absolute reaction that I wanted from them.

I am a bit of a pessimist by nature, so from the off, it was easy to presume the worst was going to happen in this pregnancy, especially in the early days. For that reason, we decided to keep it super quiet.

Until 13 weeks, only my family and Steve’s parents knew about the baby. I turned 30 in July (the day after I hit 13 weeks) and Steve and my family had arranged a huge surprise party for me at my mum’s house. Lots of friends and family there so Steve and I decided to just use it as the perfect opportunity to announce. For us as a couple, we’re not big ‘social media’ users when it comes to our personal lives – probably inhibited by the fact we both work within social media in our jobs – so it was a no-brainer from the start that we weren’t going to announce the pregnancy on Instagram or Facebook.

I had just started to ‘show’ at this point too, so certain clothes were beginning to feel tight and show a bit of a tummy. I went to Budapest for a week with Steve while he was out there working (week 13-14 of pregnancy) but had to be super careful with pictures and his work colleagues, more so because my work still had no idea I was expecting.

Looking back, everyone was really excited for us. I had unexpectedly lost my dad in September 2017 which obviously just devastated my whole family, so the baby has given us all something really positive to look forward to after a tough few months.

 

How would you describe your pregnancy? Have you been you unwell, tired, anxious and nervous about the future or just excited?

Answering this question at 38 weeks exactly into my pregnancy, I have to honestly say that I am not ready to lose my bump just yet! I feel I have blinked from that night back in May and am now so close to the end point. I didn’t have any physical sickness in the beginning, I just felt hungover. That’s the best way to describe it – when all you crave is beige food and sugary drinks. I was a massive tea drinker prior to pregnancy though and this was the first thing to turn my stomach. I don’t think I braved a cup of tea again until after about 25 weeks.

I started reading about pregnancy and what to expect from the start and this definitely helped me know what to expect week on week with my body, as well as my emotions.

 

first time pregnancy advice pregnancy journal

 

What has the hardest thing been about being pregnant, what do you enjoy?

Tiredness was a struggle in the first and last trimester. Biggest gripe in the last trimester has definitely been the heartburn and the constant need to pee! But I have absolutely loved being pregnant. I love my changing body and looking at how it has evolved over the last nine months to grow and nurture a whole human being. It blows my mind what women are capable of.

I have also loved ‘dressing’ my bump. I haven’t worn a waistband in over six months (thank the Lord for maternity jeans and leggings!) and due to being pregnant over the majority of winter here, it’s been big comfy jumpers all the way! But I am really proud of my body and I have never taken this pregnancy for granted so want to embrace it all because I don’t know if I will have another baby – no one does.

 

Like us, you decided not to find out the baby’s gender, was that a hard decision, or why did you make it?

Steve and I had already discussed this for years and were both on the same page with regards to not wanting to find out the gender. We are quite traditional in that sense and for us, it wouldn’t change anything if we knew whether the baby was a boy or a girl – that knowledge is going to make us no more ‘prepared’ for their arrival.

 

Along the way you said you thought it would be a girl, and Steve thought a boy – have your guesses changed?

As my bump has grown, I have had so many people in the past few weeks tell me they think I am having a boy. Steve had actually changed to a girl and I think people’s opinions have started to sway me to a boy. In that delivery room, when the baby is handed to us, and Steve says “we have a daughter”, I won’t be shocked. If it’s a boy, I genuinely think I will be.

The baby is a total wriggler, who hates being touched (can’t even use my bump to lean cereal bowls/mugs on as the kid just kicks or wriggles them off), so my instincts tell me that I have a very stubborn, independent girl in there… not sure who they get those personality traits from!

 

Has anything surprised you about being pregnant?

Just how much I would enjoy it and how quickly the nine months go. I married a truly phenomenal man too who is also bowled over by what my body has been doing to grow our child, so the whole experience has definitely brought us so much closer as a couple, as well as a team.

 

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Have you been flooded with advice already? What would you pass on?

The only advice I have truly taken on board has come from the baby classes Steve and I attended. We decided to pay for private classes in the UK (known as NCT) upon recommendation from friends and it was the best decision. I came away after the eight week sessions feeling so much more confident about the birthing and parenting experience, as well as the choices I have as a woman and a mother when it comes to my body and my child. We are one of the last of our friends to have children, but the majority of advice that has come from them has been to make sure Steve and I keep time for ourselves.

Advice that I am taking on board:

  • Make your partner/husband pack your hospital bag (with your supervision) as he will be the one going in and out of it while you’re in labour and needs to know where everything is quickly.
  • You, as a woman and mother, know what is best for your body and your child. Don’t let the authority of a hospital environment make you endure an invasive ‘cervical sweep’ if you go overdue, especially if you would prefer to hold off for 24 hours and spend it eating vindaloos, getting the oxytocin flowing by spending time with your partner, bouncing on your birthing ball and drinking raspberry leaf tea.
  • Remember you and your partner/husband are the ‘OG’ team here. You just have a new team mate who has joined. Always make time for each other when you can, even if it is a quick three minute kiss and cuddle in the kitchen while the kettle boils to heat up the baby’s bottles!
  • Stay in the ‘baby bubble’ for as long as you can. Steve is taking three weeks paternity leave from work when the baby arrives, so we have decided to keep visitors in this time just to our immediate family. Once Steve goes back to work, that’s when I want my friends coming over, because that’s when I will need help to load the dishwasher, put the washing on, grab me bread and milk from the shop. While I have Steve at home, I want that time to be us bonding as a new family of three and to be honest, I won’t need help then. Ten hours a day alone with a newborn is a totally different story when he heads back to work…

 

How are you feeling now that baby is so low, and almost ready to come?

Definitely nervous but also really excited. I change how I feel about it daily. But I know that D-day is getting closer so hopefully it falls on an excited one. Steve is so excited but I know I have the hurdle of labour to overcome before meeting the baby. I also have no idea how I will know that labour has actually started. Although friends have told me that you definitely know!

 

What is your birth plan?

I don’t really have a ‘plan’, more preferences based on the type of birth I end up having – natural, assisted or caesarean. Key areas for me are:

  • Optimal cord clamping
  • Skin on skin as soon as possible after birth
  • Breastfeeding assistance
  • Midwife assisted delivery (to support my pushing to prevent too much damage ‘down there’)
  • In the case of an emergency c-section (I have a general anesthetic), Steve to have skin on skin with baby while I come around

 

What advice would you give to someone about pregnancy and birth?

Embrace it if you can. It’s really easy for me to say that because in the grand scheme of things, my pregnancy has been an absolute breeze and I have known friends who have been vomiting the entire nine months. But no woman truly ever knows if they will have more children, regardless of whether you want a big family or not.

I bought a pregnancy journal at the start and have been recording my journey, along with taking a Polaroid picture every week since 12 weeks pregnant. Baby isn’t even here yet but looking back on how tiny I was (when I thought I was huge) to my bump now is just lovely. And I know I will treasure the journal forever, as it has all my feelings about becoming a mum written down, and is something I can’t wait to share with my baby when they’re older.

 

If you could say anything to your baby right now, what would it be?

Right this second (with my stomach rock solid as I have been having constant Braxton Hicks for the past 24 hours!):

“Please don’t hurt me too much during your arrival!”

But seriously, just for them to know how much they are wanted and loved. They are joining two of the most supportive and loving families in the world and they couldn’t be luckier. They have no idea how much they have already changed our lives and I can’t wait to meet them in person so very soon.

 

Big kisses to you, Blair and bump xxx

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