Pregnancy PR Exposed: A Symptoms Audit

Pregnancy has a really good PR campaign. Much like basset hounds – but that’s a topic which deserves a blog post all of its own.

I remember associating pregnancy with that famous ‘glow’, with excitement and blissful happiness, and with great hair and great nails on a smiling lady stroking her perfectly sized neat bump.

I was a classic fool.

My Facebook feed has been rampant recently with other pregnants (yes, we are a ‘breed’ all of our own) asking the Facebook Gods where the hell their glow is. I’m not alone, the meticulous and deceiving PR campaign has us all fooled.

I also blame my naivety on my mother, who recounts her pregnancy with nostalgia akin to the way Francesca in Bridges of Madison County remembered her one weekend with Robert, the love of her life. Or akin to the way I lust after my student days at Loughborough University. Mum – aka Goose – took to pregnancy and motherhood in a way that could make ducks look uncomfortable in water.

So, with this blog, I attempt to take a miniscule but hopefully comforting blow to the pregnancy PR campaign, not in the hope of putting women off, but because women deserve to be prepared. And for the ‘pregnants’ out there, know that you’re not the unlucky one, we’re all in this together.

Three is, in the grand scheme of things, a fairly poor sample size. But alas, it’s all I have, so let’s take a pregnancy symptoms audit from we three ladies.

Morning Sickness: Now this is the one that has managed to slip through the pregnancy PR manager’s net. Despite the campaign’s best intentions, this one is very much on the public’s radar. Stel, as our canary in the coalmine, laughed in the face of morning sickness. “I briefly felt sick when I brushed my teeth once or twice” she said. Fats suffered somewhat in the first trimester, but mostly just with nausea which could be curbed by eating several slices of toast a day, and whatever else she could get her hands on. She blames this ‘nausea curbing snacking’ on Little Baby Bean’s fast ascent into a basketball sized bump. I definitely call trumps in this category, and it’s not something you ever want to hold the ace card for. Details are unnecessary (remember the Tupperware on the M40?) but suffice to say I was very sick, every day, up until week 19. Ouch.

Heartburn: This is where our resident canary – Stel – holds gold medal. I genuinely can’t remember a time when I’ve seen Stel without a Gaviscon bottle. She carries one in her handbag at all times, and is more frequently seen glugging it direct from the bottle like a wino . If she’s on the sofa, it’s on the coffee table. If she’s at a party, it’s on her lap. Her dependency on Gaviscon can be rivalled only by my dependency on the ‘hotdudeswithdogs’ Instagram account, and Fats’ dependency on pancakes and her red Chanel lipstick. The heartburn has started to kick in intermittently for Fats and I more recently, but when it does, it’s horrible.

Back and Rib Pain: I’ve had many years of physio on my back, and suffer with mild scoliosis so the back pain has come as no surprise to me. The rib pain, however, was less anticipated. Apparently its common with petite women – the baby and uterus literally stretch your rib cage to make more room, and the result of that is pain. Ouch. At week 29, the weight of baba and the uterus are really making themselves known, and it can be really uncomfortable when sat down. This week at our first NCT class, Fats and I discovered that all six of us ‘pregnants’ had pain in our right rib, so there’s a bigger sample size for you. Amazing how all pregnancies can be so different yet have certain niche commonalities.

Restless Nights: I think Fats had suffered most from restless nights, but as the lightest sleeper normally of the three of us, this is perhaps unsurprising. In the first trimester, both Fats and I had some crazy and vivid dreams – Fats had us white water rafting with One Direction one night. Superb!

To go with her restless nights, Fats has also had restless legs, which apparently means she gets the uncontrollable urge to move and kick her legs around.

Chronic Fatigue: A natural follow-on from restless nights, this one comes as no surprise. Whilst I have escaped this, Fats and Stel have been very much victimised by it. Fats is tired all the time, both physically and mentally. On a recent Fatty weekend spent in London, we both agreed that it was like I was doing my bit for care in the community, encouraging her as she waddled around and took solace in every seating area the London department stores have to offer. Scouse rarely sees in 9pm these days, and is as reliably consistent as one of those lights timed to go on and off and programmed times. As her pregnancy progresses, the off-time grows longer and longer. As I say, I’ve escaped relatively unscathed. Whilst I definitely have slightly less energy than I did pre-pregnancy, my sleeping patterns haven’t really changed or needed to increase, and I still like to keep as busy as ever. If I had a pound for every time I’ve been told to ‘rest’ or ‘take it easy’ since falling pregnant, I’d be able to buy myself a Mulberry changing bag for sure. But sadly since I don’t, I’m just left rolling my eyes.

Weak Bladder: This one is a real bitch, and has got us all. Not only does it mean I have to crawl out of bed two, three, sometimes four times a night, but it makes commutes into work a real mission, and requires any kind of journey or activity planning to revolve around possible toilet stops. It’s a real issue. I think Fats probably calls trumps on this one, having suffered from this the most, but as I enter my thirtieth week, the curse is getting me, and it’s getting me good.

Black Nipples: You may be as shocked as we were by this one, and it’s absolutely one that the pregnancy PR gurus have done a stellar job in keeping covered up. Winning her second gold medal in the pregnancy symptoms audit, Stel calls shotgun on this one, with nipples now as black as the ace of spades. Philpott announced the colour change over a lovely dinner in Gee’s Restaurant, Oxford, one night as the six of us celebrated the pregnancies, but no-one took his comments at face value…that is until New Year’s Eve when Stel flashed us the evidence. I’ll never forget Fats’ reaction, as she roared hysterically, tears streaming down her face and struggling to catch her breath. Whilst I managed more of a poker face, I have to admit, I was shocked. Philpott wasn’t joking, that was one black set of nipples. Fats’ have also darkened, although not to the same extent, and whilst mine have not yet changed, I’m keeping an eye out. Watch this space.

New Year's Eve 2014/2015: The moment Stel decided to flash her nipples for the NYE selfie!

New Year’s Eve 2014/2015: The moment Stel decided to flash her nipples for the NYE selfie!

New Year's Eve 2014/2015: This photo was taken a few seconds after Stel exposed her ace of spade nipples.

New Year’s Eve 2014/2015: This photo was taken a few seconds after Stel exposed her ace of spade nipples.

Hormones: Far worse than the occasional spot which raging pregnancy hormones produce is the rollercoaster of emotions that we pregnants are forced to ride. Sometimes it can be as innocent as a rage if your local café sells out of jacket potatoes (Fats), or contemplating throwing a full-on forced tear-stained meltdown in front of your midwife in the hope of being granted an elected C-Section (Stel). But sometimes it can reduce you to tears for absolutely no reason that you can think of (me). These hormones can leave you feeling like your whole world is falling apart, without really knowing why. In a way, this is the most difficult and unpleasant ‘symptom’ of all. I’m really good at being happy, so these hormones don’t suit me one bit.

Swelling: Over the last few weeks, Stel’s legs have swollen up to what Jen lovingly describes as “two tree trunks.” She’s been tested for pre-eclampsia, which luckily came back negative, so it really is just a symptom of carrying around BSP. Her hands have also swollen and she now has de quervain’s tenosynovitis – which is basically a condition which affects the tendons in your wrist. Poor Stel has to wear a strange glove-like splint thing which she claims makes her look like Keith Lemon, and which Philpott is having a field day with.

So, there you have it, a complete pregnancy symptoms audit, without a glow in sight.

Hats off to those behind the most deceiving PR campaign of all time. You had us all fooled.

Little Tiny Treacle, Baby Stel Pot, and Little Baby Bean have a lot to answer for.  They better be cute. Who am I kidding, of course they will be…

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