By Kendall Francis-Staite
My experience with pregnancy so far....currently 36 weeks......4 weeks to go!
Where to start? Well let’s just say that everyone is different and not everyone will experience what I call the “cliché” pregnancy that you read about, hear about, and see in the movies. Did I get any morning sickness? Nope. None! Did I have any weird cravings – pickles and ice-cream? chalk on toast? Nope. None! Was my skin glowing.....ummm NO! My skin was TERRIBLE to begin with....and not just on my face, my back started getting pimples like I was going through puberty again! It’s ok, it eventually all calmed down after about 4 months (thank god!!!). The one thing I did notice though, was that my nails grew! I hadn’t had long beautiful nails in a such long time so that was a nice surprise...didn’t quite compensate the anger I felt for the pimples though..
First 3 months, completely exhausting! Like I had never slept before in my life. All I wanted to do was sleep sleep sleep. Luckily for me, it was over the Christmas break so I was spending most of my holidays sleeping in, napping in the arvo and then going to bed early before repeating it all again the next day. So it’s safe to say that at this stage, exercise was a struggle. However, I did have dance rehearsals a few times a week. I was in training to perform 9 shows over a 3 week period for the Adelaide Fringe Festival so once the tiredness had calmed down I did manage to hit the gym a few times a week, I HAD to keep as fit as possible to get my stamina up!
I had committed to these performances before I fell pregnant but I did a lot of research on whether dancing, (including spinning, going upside down & jumping around) would harm my baby. It was good to know that there are lot of women out there that continue to dance whilst in the early stages of pregnancy. My sister (who I dance with) and I, did tone down the routines a little this year though....less upside down tricks and jumping about....just in case. But most information I read said that it was completely safe to continue the type of exercise that your body is used to until it obviously gets too hard when your belly starts to grow. During the 3 weeks of performances I always made sure I had had plenty of rest and sleep so I didn’t over do it. I felt fine during the performances and luckily had only just started to pop out towards the end of the festival (no one wants to see a pregnant chick in a leotard!!) We did make sure majority of our costumes covered up my tiny little bump though. Luckily we had some pregnancy costume inspiration from Beyonce who had been performing whilst pregnant....thanks B!
So that was the first trimester/beginning of the second. Second trimester was definitely better than the first. Pimples cleared, energy came back and belly popped out! Actually felt pregnant instead of feeling like I had just eaten a massive bowl of pasta and was bloated 24/7! During this stage I thought it was time to start using the bio oil to stop those nasty stretch marks from gracing me with their hideous presence. Putting the bio oil on my belly daily, I thought I was going to miss out on these dreaded stretch marks, but then out of nowhere, I catch a glimpse of my naked bum in the mirror and there they are! On my bum! How dare they creep up on me like that. Newly pregnant women take note: Rub bio oil on belly, bum and thighs!!
The book I’m reading (‘Up the Duff’ by Kaz Cooke) assures me these stretch marks will disappear into very faint white marks that will barely be visible after the baby is out..I’m hoping she’s not telling me lies!
It’s safe to say my body was definitely changing.
One of the major reasons the second trimester is more enjoyable is because one day, out of nowhere, you will feel a little flick inside of you....yep this tiny little flick is the baby moving! I didn’t feel this until around the 20-23 week mark, but some women can start to feel it from week 17. This is when it all becomes very real! The movements start off small like someone is flicking your tummy but from the inside, and then they turn into massive karate kicks and somersaults! Seeing the larger movements for the first time is very odd, it looked like my stomach was possessed by an alien swimming around in it! But when you get used to it, it’s almost like you don’t feel right until you’ve felt the baby move each day. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like after I have the baby and I no longer have something playing around in my tummy. Second trimester also means you will probably need to start sleeping with a pregnancy pillow for more comfort and be prepared to be getting up and visiting the toilet many times during the night and many more during the day.
Third and final trimester. I’m carrying very much “out front” as they say...in other words, from behind you would not be able to tell I’m pregnant. I’ve been happy with the amount of healthy weight I’ve put on (12 kilos since I fell pregnant) I have been lucky in the fact that I haven’t had any fluid retention which can be a big part of the discomfort of the added weight. Some health issues I have been “lucky” enough to experience include a racing heart, reflux, restless leg syndrome, low iron (borderline anaemic) and high cholesterol. All of these health issues are common in pregnancy but only some women experience them. My reflux started around the 5 month mark I think (hmm baby brain is kicking in, no memory!) so I started having to take quickeze like an 80 year old man! (lucky they have a lovely forest berry fruit flavour). Then came the racing heart which is common in pregnancy as you get bigger and heavier and your heart is working extra hard to pump around the extra blood to you and your baby, however, I was having these episodes when I was just sitting still or laying down in bed which wasn’t so “normal”. I’ve had some blood tests and heart examinations but there doesn’t seem to be anything showing up as to why it races every now and then and the doctors don’t seem to be too worried about it so I’ve just decided to cut back on sugar as much as I can and take it easy when I start to feel it race. My blood test results for this heart issue did however come up with the diagnosis of high cholesterol (double what it should be) which is another lovely little side effect pregnancy can have on you, so just another thing that has made me weary of my diet and what I’m eating or more like what I’m not eating but should be (oats are good for lowering cholesterol so I’ve started adding them into my diet where I can). Then there was the low red blood cell count......or maybe it was the white cells...(I can’t remember which ones?!) that have made me borderline anaemic, so I’m low on iron etc, so I’ve started taking Elevit with Iodine which is good for me and the baby and will hopefully help that issue. Oh and last but not least there’s this funny little thing called restless leg syndrome. Bet you’ve never heard of that one before right? I hadn’t either. Basically the only way to describe it is when you are lying down or in bed at night trying to sleep and you can feel this sort of adrenaline/anxiety/tingling/crawling feeling in your legs which makes you want to continuously move your legs. Drives. Me. Insane. This of course is just another fun discovery to add to the challenge of sleeping whilst heavily pregnant – so let’s see, you’ve got the big belly which means you have no stomach muscles to turn over or get into and out of bed easily, oh and with that means you aren’t suppose to sleep on your back, your right side or your stomach (obviously), then there’s the reflux which generally means sleeping propped up by a few pillows but without hurting your neck and shoulders, then you gotta fit in the pregnancy pillow under your bump, and then restless legs with a need to move them constantly! And when you do get to sleep, it wont be for too long before your very full bladder wakes you up and has you trotting off to the toilet! Oh well, nothing like a good challenge hey.....
I’ve realised I’m probably eating more healthier now than I was before I was pregnant. I guess that comes with knowing that you are also providing for the baby as well, you can’t just think about yourself anymore! I have been fairly flexible with the food “rules” of being pregnant though. You wouldn’t believe how many foods you are not “suppose” to eat! Things like soft cheeses, cured meats, store bought salad mixes, steak that isn’t cooked “well done”, and the list goes on! The theory I took on board was that our mums and our mums’ mum’s never knew these rules and we all turned out fine! Most of the time if I want to eat a soft cheese or a cured meat (like salami on pizza) I just make sure that it’s cooked and hot hot hot when I eat it – cooking these types of foods gets rid of the potential bacteria that lurks in them that could have an effect on your baby. And don’t forget that many women happen to eat these types of food as well as drink alcohol during the first few weeks of pregnancy not knowing they are pregnant anyway! So it can’t be all that bad, as long as it’s only in moderation, personally, I have decided that they can’t be that harmful.
I’m hoping my new healthier diet hangs around to help me lose the baby weight after I’ve had it! (him? her?) I’m drinking at least 1 litre of water a day and I’ve always struggled with drinking just a few glasses, let alone a whole litre plus more! I’m also wanting to eat more fruit when I feel like a sugar fix (instead of chocolate!) and after eating McDonalds & KFC a few times and feeling so terrible after eating it, I rarely feel like that kinda junk anymore either, and believe it or not, my portion sizes are much much smaller! Another “cliché” pregnancy tale that never came true; the whole “eating for two” thing. My meal sizes are much smaller coz I just can’t eat the same amount I use to, there’s just no room left in my stomach.
I’ve now got 4 weeks to go and the reality of getting this baby out is definitely hitting home. I’m trying not to think about it too much....although it does seem to creep into my mind most nights when trying to fall asleep! I’m actually kinda excited to see how painful it really is. As a girl you grow up knowing that one day you will potentially have to go through it and there’s a billion and one horror stories out there as to how horrible/weird/painful/blissful/happy/scary it is so I actually can’t wait to see what it’s really all about, and see how I handle it.
So that’s my experience of my first ever pregnancy. If you’re thinking of getting pregnant and don’t know what to expect, or want to know what a real person’s experience is like- then I hope my story has either helped you, inspired you or made you feel more comfortable with the thought of going through this amazing experience. Remember everyone is different
UPDATE: Kendall and Jebb welcomed their healthy darling Daughter into the world- Willow Star. Congratulations and many blessings to the entire family. Willow is BEAUTIFUL.
Kendell: wife, mother, dancer, lover of shopping, socializing, movies, holidaying, date nights, day spa's & life :)