Working women often talk about how they feel that whatever they’re doing is wrong. They feel permanently guilty that they’re not doing “enough” for either their children or their careers. Finding out that I was pregnant catapulted me into a host of similar dilemmas. Did I carry on exercising as I had been? Or stop entirely? Should I contact my old clinic and ask them to prescribe more of the progesterone injections, the clexane blood thinners, the whatever the fuck else they throw at the women who manage to get pregnant on a wing and a prayer and want to stay pregnant? Or just carry on taking the Pregnacare Max that I’ve been taking for years as if it were a multivitamin?
It felt that whatever decision I made, if anything happened, if this tiny, early pregnancy didn’t progress to a healthy baby, I would blame myself and wish I’d done something different. But equally, the thought of going back to that clinic made me miserable. And, after all, this pregnancy hadn’t happened due to medication, it had happened accidentally, while I was going about my everyday life. So instinctively, continuing that approach of “benign neglect” as B called it, seemed to be the right one. I stopped drinking alcohol, but I didn’t stop going out and seeing my friends. I carried on exercising, but I decided I didn’t need to use heavy weights, and I should probably skip the burpees. (Who am I kidding? I hate burpees, I’d have used any excuse to skip the burpees.)
I tried to carry on as if nothing was much different. And to be honest, it wasn’t. I had very few symptoms. I was exhausted, and had sore boobs, but that was it. But everything was different. Maybe it wouldn’t have been if I hadn’t gone through everything I’ve gone through to get to this point. But for me, there wasn’t a minute of the day that I didn’t think about the fact that I’m pregnant. I don’t think a man could ever understand just quite how all consuming this is.
B said he was trying not to think of it as real until it was. He wouldn’t tell anyone. (I’d told my sister and my best friend, I just couldn’t lie to them in the way I’ve lied to everyone else – “I’m off the booze, trying to lose weight / Stoptober / drank so much in lockdown / gone vegetarian for a few weeks after eating so much meat on holiday” (how else to explain the fact that wouldn’t be ordering my usual sashimi and rare steak?) etc etc.)
And I get it. For him, until there’s a scan, something concrete to go on, it’s all out of sight and mind. He doesn’t check to see if he’s bleeding every time he goes to the loo. Doesn’t get up in the middle of the night and feel perversely glad that his boobs are sore because he’s taking that as an indicator that he’s still pregnant. Doesn’t wonder whether that stomach ache or cramp — or absence of a stomach ache or a cramp — is confirmation that he’s still pregnant, or confirmation that he’s not. Doesn’t scan a menu in a restaurant and rule out a load of stuff (or secretly google “black pudding pregnant” on his phone while other people order.) I don’t blame him for any of that. I’m slightly jealous of it.