Not sure what happens when we become parents. Maybe it’s all those dirty nappies and post-feed regurgitations mixed with lack of sleep, but our dignity filter stops working and, around other new mums, we start to over-share. Things that would never have been polite conversation over coffee and cake before, become fair game. Only second to ‘how bad was your birth?’ is the ‘how bad was your morning sickness?’ chat we always have. Because soon after that tiny window of joy you get when the wee-drenched stick of answers flashes back its affirmative news, you find it’s your head seeking the porcelain bowl. At first, keeping your queasiness a secret is like a military operation, so it’s only natural we want to discuss it with those who’ve been there too. And while everybody experiences the deceptively titled ‘morning’ sickness differently, whether you were Kate Middleton style bed-bound or got over it in a few days, chances are you relayed every last detail to your mum mates. Here’s how it was for me, I promise it won’t put you off your cake…
Stage one: The week seven Lucozade crutch
Never knowingly seen without a bottle of luminous sports fizz, I’d like to think those around me assumed I was in training during those early weeks of pregnancy. More likely they thought me suffering the mother of all hangovers going by the greenish tint to my skin.
Stage two: Textbook Gingersnapping
After week eight, I could not get out of bed without dunking biscuits in my tea. Fetched willingly by my other half, it was a mutually beneficial arrangement because the threat of what might occur if this ritualistic offering didn’t take place was too grim to think about. The downside of that cuppa was the sour milk aftertaste that lingered all day. Yuck.
Stage three: The little and often life savers
Frazzles and cherries and Wine Gums, oh my! People talk about the ‘quirky’ food cravings you have when pregnant like they’re a fun thing. I had one pregnant friend dying to sink her teeth into a bathroom sponge, but that’s a different conversation all together. For me though, around week nine, it was more a case of what I could bring to my lips without retching, toothpaste included. On one occasion, that meant saying ‘yes’ to spaghetti when I couldn’t imagine anything more horrible than springy tubes of penne in my mouth. Pregnancy sickness defies logic.
Stage four: When everything bloody stinks
Everything, literally everything from hot astroturf to my Dad’s Jo Malone had the power to make me gag from week 10. I resorted to eating a diet rich in cold food (mainly quiche — yeah, I know), and cooking in the kitchen was outlawed. Thankfully, it was summer so my husband could use the barbecue to make his own dinner (who knew we’d finally make use of that flimsy gas-ring on the side?) because even the starchy smell of boiling pasta started to turn my stomach. Sadly, though, because he couldn’t be trusted not to eat garlic when I wasn’t around to stop him, he was banished to the spare room to sleep for a couple of months.
Stage Five: The ‘when will this misery end?’ stage
Although I didn’t puke until week 18 (sickness phobia), most people will by week 11. For me though, the constant feeling of being on the brink was bad enough. Any sudden jerks, movements or unexpected hugs from my five-year old would make me retch. That meant any tasks not deemed urgent or important did not get done (cue: thick layers of dust everywhere, mounds of washing in baskets and a bikini line as out of control as the lawn). I can only compare it to the worst car sickness 24/7, so when somebody suggested wristbands with built-in pressure points to help bad travellers on long car journeys, I bought them and never took them off. Whether they worked or not is a different matter but I did start to notice windows of relief.
Stage Six: ‘You’re suggesting ginger tea: are you f******g kidding me?’
By week 12 you’ve had enough, and those close will be well versed in your moans, whines and bouts of narcolepsy. Also by this time you’re likely to have shared your good news a little further afield. Problem is, if you’re still in the grips of nausea like I was, you might find new people ‘helpfully’ suggesting remedies. Problematic if the go-to ginger solution stopped working by week 9. You will never feel less like drinking ginger tea.
Stage Seven: The glowing second trimester: hurrah!
I’ll be honest with you, I’m still waiting for this stage to kick in and week 14 is but a dot in the past. I take comfort in having more good days than bad now, and even if my body hates me, the feeling isn’t mutual because I can’t help admire it for the wonderful thing it’s doing. Those little kicks make it all worthwhile, even if they do occasionally test my gag-reflex from within. Now, where are those Frazzles?