25th April 2017

The Second Baby Chronicles with Robyn Wilder: I’m having a high-risk pregnancy and I’m OK

Robyn Wilder’s having another baby! And she’s writing about her pregnancy for Mush every couple of weeks. Here’s the third instalment, in which, according to our friends at Babycentre, her unborn child is roughly the size of a carrot… 

You don’t hear a lot of first-person stuff about high-risk pregnancies in the media – traditional or social. When you read a newspaper piece online, you don’t get blasted at the end with clickbait titles like ‘21 THINGS I’M NOT ALLOWED TO EAT IN THIS PREGNANCY – NUMBER 19 WILL MAKE YOU CRY!’. Pregnant women on Instagram don’t whip out their lumpy bumps and pull duck-faces while injecting insulin into their thighs, either – and I think this is a shame, as there are a lot of us out there. So I thought I’d address this. I’m having a high-risk pregnancy for all sorts of reasons – and you know what? I’m okay. Here is all my high-risky business, in bullet form…

1. I am aged

I am pregnant with my second child at the grand old age of 41, and I had my son when I was 37. I’m lucky(?) enough to have the plump, unlined face and idiotically sunny disposition of a toddler – which means I occasionally get asked for ID when buying prosecco – but unfortunately this sort of thing doesn’t fly with the midwife. So “geriatric pregnancy” was scrawled across my notes during my booking appointment, and I audibly creak when getting up to see the consultant. Other than that, my age doesn’t seem to have affected my pregnancy at all. I am just as sick and tired as pregnant friends half my age. Although, being old and knocked-up, I feel I qualify for priority seats on public transport more than them.

2. I am overweight

I am a veteran yo-yo dieter, and have gone through fitness-or-cake fads all my life. I am a size 8 or a size 16, and never the twain shall meet, and I’ve basically just learned to live with it. Both pregnancies have hit when I’ve been on the heavier side of the scale, and what I’ve found is that while doctors suck their teeth, midwives tend to shrug and say “well, that’s life”. So far the only side effect has been the drag of weight on my lumbar spine (maternity support band to the rescue!), and the ultrasound lady digging REALLY HARD into my belly to get a good view of the baby. Ouch.

3. I’m at risk for gestational diabetes

In my last pregnancy, a midwife told me I was at risk for gestational diabetes “because of your ethnicity” (without actually finding out what my ethnicity was). I got all up on my high horse about it (privately, of course; I am British after all) – and then promptly was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I couldn’t control it with diet, and the tablets made me paint every room I walked into in projectile vomit, so I went on insulin, and delivered at 38 weeks. The chances are I’ll have it again this time, so I’m just trying to follow a low-carb diet anyway, although feeling nauseous if I eat anything is not making this easy.

4. I have mental health issues

I have them up the WAZOO. I have depression and anxiety anyway, which can sometimes morph into severe panic disorder and really disrupt things (once I was housebound for four whole years, but that’s another story) – plus I developed postnatal depression AND post-traumatic stress disorder after my last birth. But it’s a chronic condition and I try to keep on top of it with lots of fresh air, lists, and regular counselling. So far my worst moment was sobbing uncontrollably during a scene in a film where a baby cried for about 30 seconds. So I’m probably doing okay.

5. I had an emergency c-section

My first labour wasn’t that long – 14 hours – but it was an induction that resulted in me getting sepsis and the baby’s heart rate going into overdrive, so I was wheeled into surgery for a 4am emergency c-section (ironically, I had requested one anyway saying that panic attacks were likely to set in during an induction, but it was refused and I was told “not to panic” because there was “nothing to panic about”). The c-section was easily the least stressful part of the whole endeavour. This time, the consultant took one look at my notes, and then my face when she asked if I wanted to try for a vaginal birth, and just wrote “recommended for c-section” and closed my notes. Hooray!

So essentially I am old, chubby, diabetic and a bit temperamental in the head – but I’m okay. The baby is developing normally and, apart from wanting to crawl into bed constantly at 21 weeks gone, I am having a perfectly fine, Instagram-worthy pregnancy. Hooray for high-risk!

@orbyn @mushmums

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