Mercedes at 8 Weeks
mercedes maguireBy Mercedes Maguire

First Month

WHAT can be said about pregnancy that has not already been said, researched, blogged, posted and advertised? Probably not much but as they say, every pregnancy is different and every woman's experience is unique. So here is my story for what it's worth – a month-by-month chronicle of the ups and downs of being a 35-year-old, work-from-home pregnant mother to an almost five-year-old.

The morning I discovered I was pregnant was my daughter Ava's ballet concert. That morning while I was pulling her unruly hair into a perfect bun and fitting her pale pink tights, I started to wonder when my period would come. It must be soon, I mused, as it felt like a month at least since the last time. Without expecting an answer, I asked my husband if he recalled when I had last had my period. “How could I forget?” came his reply “It was the day before we went on our weekend away!” Quickly I did the calculations and realised I was now 11 days late! Surely not?

With Ava safely at her pre-concert rehearsals I traipsed across the road to a shopping centre with a friend for a coffee and much-needed raisin toast – I was ravenous! “You HAVE to do a pregnancy test!” Kayte almost yelled across the table. So off I went to the pharmacy then slunk into the shopping centre toilets like a naughty teenager with my package stuffed into my handbag. It barely took any time at all for that second, very telling pink line to appear.

And so our journey began.

Almost instantly the fears and questions began to circulate around my mind: Will I cope with a newborn AND a five-year-old? Have I done anything in the past month to screw up the safety of my tiny cluster of cells? When was the last time I had an alcoholic drink? OMG! Was that only last weekend I got drunk at lunch with my best friend? And I haven't even started taking any folate tablets yet! That's it, I'm going to be a hopeless mother of two!

It's amazing how much I'd forgotten from my first pregnancy less than five years ago. Do I go to the doctor first or call and make an appointment at the hospital? Where do I get a referral for my ultrasound again?

Later that week I went to my GP who confirmed the pregnancy and sent me off for a series of blood tests (thank God someone knew what to do!) A couple of days later I picked up my results (and discovered I do not have syphilis – didn't they erradicate that during Victoria's reign?) and left with a referral for my hospital and another for an ultrasound at around 12 weeks.

It seemed to me pregnancy has a snowball effect and you can just get swept up in the process fairly easily. The entire nine months are defined by weekly milestones, ultrasounds, ante-natal visits and usually you are told at each step what you should do next. But after joining an online forum I discovered the process isn't as simple for everyone. One poor girl who was pregnant for the first time went to see three doctors before one gave her a referral to have a 12-week ultrasound. She didn't even know when her last period was so she needed this scan to determine her due date. Another woman was told it was not necessary to see a medical professional until after 12 weeks because of the risk of miscarriage!

With my first pregnancy I didn't have a single symptom (apart from no period and eventually a swelling belly). Boy, was I in for a different experience! All that bragging that I never suffered a single moment of morning sickness was about to come back and bite me. Every morning I woke up with an awful feeling of nausea. One day on the way to the bus for work I started dry-reaching on the side of the road! Even Ava was decidely fed up with my claims of feeling sick each morning. I discovered if I ate something small as soon as I woke up I'd be ok – but I still found myself travelling on the bus to work two days a week with a plastic bag hidden inside my handbag...just in case!

Another common symptom I miraculously missed the first time was first trimester exhaustion. Every afternoon from around 2pm I felt like someone injected me with a sleep drug this time around. Didn't matter where I was or who I was with. But the worst symptom really were the sore boobs. Lying on my stomach at night was out of the question and they even hurt while I walked on some days!

But I suffered my mild symptoms with a sense of satisfaction that my body was doing what it should be, that it was working like a well-oiled machine and it was confirmation that all was well inside my relatively un-pregnant, flat stomach. Which leads me to my main concern that first trimester. How do you know everything is okay in there? It seems once you announce you are pregnant everyone wants to tell you the very worst stories they have heard. I just had to have faith that all was well, but it was a worry that was never far from my mind. I was hanging for that first ultrasound.

We had decided we would take Ava to the first ultrasound next month so she could be included in the pregnancy in every way possible – especially since she had such a negative reaction to the news! We were not going to tell her until I was showing. But with all the constant chatter around her about babies and pregnancy and questions about how I was feeling, she got suspicious and we had to tell her.

“Nooooo, I don't want that to happen!” she sobbed. “I just want to live with mummy and daddy, no baby.” In the very next breath she asked if she could have McDonalds for dinner!

So here's my story but we'd love to hear yours too. Please write to us with any comments about our new pregnancy blog or write your own and send it to us. Motherinc is always keen to hear your story and we'll select the best each month to post on our site.

Photograph by Chantal Buttini: