First trimester - weeks 1-12
4 weeks pregnant
Found that I’m pregnant. We had been disposing of our old sofa on Saturday afternoon and whilst carrying it down the communal stairs I managed to jam my finger between it and a window railing. It hurt, but my reaction was much more emotional than it should have been and I wondered whether my hormones were to blame. I take a pregnancy test first thing the following morning once Kyle has woken up to get ready for work. The first pee of the day is also the optimum one to detect pregnancy hormones. After an agonising minute or two waiting for the test to do its thing, the faintest line imaginable appears above the control line. But it is a line nonetheless! Kyle worries that I’m getting too excited and because the line isn’t bold it could be inaccurate. He wants another baby as much as I do, but doesn’t want me to be disappointed if the test is faulty. So the following day I do another test just to make sure. I’m definitely pregnant, hoorah! However, I have absolutely no idea how pregnant I am. Having PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) my periods are not regular and it has been a complete guessing game as to when/whether I am even ovulating at all. Already parents to a toddler, we have been trying for number 2 now for about 2 or 3 months.
In the coming week I have no obvious pregnancy symptoms like I did the first time around (swollen boobs, metallic taste in the mouth etc) and I worry that maybe I’m not really pregnant. A close friend who is also pregnant with number 2 reassures by telling me that she had no pregnancy symptoms until she was 9 weeks in.
6 weeks pregnant
Monday & Tuesday - I have some light spotting but don’t think much of it. Work is incredibly busy at the moment and I put it down to stress. I seem to remember having had a little spotting with Isla early on.
Wednesday - I stupidly jog for about 20mins to catch a train that then turns out to have been cancelled because all of the buses to the station are delayed. I am disappointed to have missed my Press Night at the theatre, and I feel knackered, stressed out and a tad testy. Just before bedtime I realise that I have bled, not masses but enough to be a concern. About half an hour later I pass a clot about the size of my thumb, and I’m worried that I have miscarried and phone home at 11pm in tears for advice and comfort from my parents - not the ideal way to announce a pregnancy. My aunt, a GP, advises that I go to the doctor’s in the morning in the hope of having a scan to confirm things either way.
Thursday 26 - I head to the GP’s exhausted, I just couldn’t sleep with worry. The GP writes a referral for me to have a scan that morning at my local hospital. I leave Isla with friends, and head alone to the hospital expecting the worst. However, I haven’t had any subsequent heavy bleeding, cramping or back pain (other signs of miscarriage) so I’m still holding out a small amount of hope. After a couple of hours waiting, I’m seen by the nurse. She says that the clot may have been there for a while and simply have been dislodged, but the fact that I have had a certain amount of fresh blood remains a cause for concern and an ultrasound should be done. An hour later and the scan happens. There is no heartbeat to be seen and my own heart is in my mouth. However, the yolk sac is completely intact. This means that I’m still pregnant, although I must be very early on still. What a relief! I’m told that I may pass more smaller clots as a build up of blood can be seen, and not to worry unduly if I do. A follow up scan is booked for 10 days later to check that all is progressing as it should be.
8 weeks pregnant
I have spent the past week and a bit in that slightly funny place where you want to get all excited about the fact that you are having another baby but nothing quite feels real yet, even though I’ve already had a scan. There is a handful of people who are aware of the pregnancy - my parents, my in-laws and about four friends who helped out the day I thought I had miscarried. However, we’ve told everyone to keep it to themselves just until we know all is well 100%. I don’t want to jinx things by too many others being excited on our behalf. Although I know that were we to lose the baby I’d want the support network in place to deal with things both emotionally and practically, not just hush it up and pretend that the pregnancy didn’t happen.
One thing I felt I wanted to do is to stop breastfeeding my toddler. I know that my mother continued to breastfeed me whilst she was pregnant with my brother, however, I have been doing it so infrequently recently (more as teething relief every few days for Isla), that I decide it’s time to focus on my wellbeing and put all my energies into the pregnancy. It’s difficult to do, as breastfeeding has become a real pleasure - a quiet time where I know that Isla utterly loves and depends upon me.
Monday - I have my ‘booking appointment’ at midday with the midwife. It’s a 40 minute bus ride away. My casting work has started to get busy recently and I need to fire off a few emails/make a few calls before we can leave so I decide that we’ll get a taxi there instead, to save on time. With only a few minutes to go I discover that I can’t find my bank card! Since becoming a mum I have literally lost my card about 10 times, I have no idea where they have ended up but fortunately the bank hasn’t raised any eyebrows, or more importantly we haven’t had any money taken. I phone to book the taxi and ask if I can pay in cash, pointing out that I only have £9.58 and this is made up entirely of coppers I’ve just raided from my daughter’s piggy bank! They agree, phew. In a sweaty frenzy I manage to get us downstairs in time for the taxi’s arrival. The car they’ve sent is absolutely pristine but the most pungent smell starts to waft through the air conditioning system and I realise my toddler has filled her nappy, oops. The taxi driver gets in a massive grump. We arrive and he refuses to take the bag of pennies stating that the journey is in fact £12. I obviously can’t magic up any money there and then, so I promise to go to the main taxi office and reimburse him tomorrow.
My booking appointment goes well. Isla, once relieved off her whopper of a nappy, plays quietly with a box of toys as the midwife runs through our family medical history, takes my height and weighs me (I’m so much heavier than I was at this stage last time around but thankfully I’m still in the “normal” BMI bracket!). Blood and urine samples are taken and finally, she records my blood pressure. I’m labelled as “low risk”, meaning that providing things stay the same I won’t need to have any extra midwife appointments/scans, and pending availability I should be able to give birth in my local birthing centre. We schedule a 16-week appointment (slight guesswork as my due date is still yet to be established). Isla and I leave absolutely famished, but thanks to the taxi driver’s bad mood we are in possession of £9.58, albeit in coppers, for a much-needed sandwich lunch before returning home.
Tuesday - I have my follow up appointment at the hospital and fortunately, we don’t have to wait long at all. Everything is as it should be, and the niggle of doubt I have been carrying around with me evaporates. Without anyone with me to hold Isla, she sits up on the bed with me as the nurse does the scan. It's not the ideal situation but we see the heartbeat on the scan and although the “baby” doesn’t resemble a baby in any way, shape or form yet Isla proudly points at the screen and says “Mummy Beebee” over and over again. How she grasps the concept at such a young age I just don’t know. She clutches the photo all the way home and I feel elated that our family is going to expand.
First trimester pregnancy symptoms
In the coming week (what I now know was week number 9) and for the following 5 weeks the dreaded 1st trimester symptoms take their hold. I’m incredibly lucky really, some friends of mine have vomited daily from day one right through until giving birth, and although I feel pretty rotten at times, what I’m experiencing is all pretty bog standard. Here are some of the symptoms that I am having:
Exhaustion and feeling emotional
Unlike my first pregnancy, I don’t have the option of simply lying in, or curling up under the duvet and sleeping midway through the day. My husband’s alarm goes at 5.45am and then Isla currently wakes up at around 6.15am (regardless of how late we put her to bed) and the day begins. Work is full on at the moment. I’ve probably said yes to about 3 too many projects, and I have to use the time that Isla naps in the middle of the day to make phone calls. Then the juggling act of the afternoon commences. I’m flagging by now, regretting that I didn’t have a sleep myself. Isla wants attention and work matters are still on-going. Finally, Isla’s bedtime comes around and Kyle and I eventually eat at about 9pm once something vaguely resembling a meal has been assembled. My body is telling me that working late is a bad idea; my legs are fidgety, I feel car sick and my vision keeps on blurring as I try to focus on the computer screen. I don’t want to be working flat out like this out but I don’t have much choice at the moment. The housework is suffering and I blame myself. The unwashed dishes, overflowing laundry basket and empty fridge are all clear signs that I am failing spectacularly. I feel like a terrible mother at the moment.
Changes to my breasts
My boobs have taken a little longer to feel like pregnancy breasts. I think that’s because I breastfed Isla until fairly recently. However, it amazes me how swollen/large they’ve already become despite milk production not actually being needed for months yet.
Whilst carrying Isla I felt nauseous for about three weeks. This time around, that period of nausea has doubled in length. I started off only really feeling peaky just before bedtime, and then weirdly after I had eaten (not before, which I think is more common), and now I just feel as though I’m constantly car sick from the minute I wake up to when I eventually nod off at night. I have also gone off my food. For anyone who knows me, this isn’t normal! I love my food and have a very healthy (well slightly greedy) appetite. When I do eat, I then find myself feeling bloated and dealing with heartburn immediately afterwards. I know that I should be eating lots of fruit and veg and nuts etc but at the moment just getting toast into me is an achievement. I gag when I brush my teeth (luckily vomiting has been limited to one occasion only). Towards the end of the month I am meant to be in auditions 9.30-5.30pm however Isla has developed an absolutely gross sick bug which means I need to stay at home with her and leave the two directors to it. Come day 3 I start to get a dicky tummy too. I spend Friday feeling atrocious.
Kyle and I head off to my parents’ home for the weekend. Seeing my parents and my sister, who are all so excited about us having another baby, lifts my spirits no end.
I basically look like my teenage self. I have an adolescent sprinkling of spots on my back, neck, jawline, cleavage, forehead and chin. My hormones are definitely raging and the famous glowing pregnancy skin is nowhere to be seen - although having gone through this all before I know that it will come later on down the line. I have been using a Weleda product called Aknedoron that I have previously used both as a teenager and also when having flare ups of PCOS related outbreaks. Although the cleansing lotion and purifying lotion don’t entirely halt these horrible spots, it’s really helping to calm them down and what’s more my skin feels good after application. Unlike a lot of synthetic products that leave your skin feeling dry and stripped of all goodness, my skin feels clean but replenished after use. After using the Aknedoron, I use a small amount of Iris Hydrating Day Cream too.
Although the first trimester, for most, is often the worst for pregnancy symptoms, it’s also one of the most special times. A time when you and just a few nearest and dearest share a magical secret of this phenomenal process of creation that’s going on inside your body. Everything that your body is doing is laying down the foundations for your baby to develop, and although it may seem punishing at times (and for your partner if they are on the receiving end of your somewhat fractious emotional state!) everything is being done in order to protect you and your baby. My own mum (a mother to 5 children) reminds me of the old wives’ tale that the sicker you feel in pregnancy the healthier and stronger the child. If you can (easier said than done with a toddler running riot), this is the time to give in to the tiredness, go to bed at 7pm and enjoy the sleep - whilst you still can! With my first pregnancy I also really enjoyed knowing how big the baby was week on week and signed both myself and Kyle up to the weekly NHS Start4life emails. I massively recommend this as they give you lots of helpful advice during pregnancy, birth and further into parenthood www.nhs.uk/start4life
11 and 12 weeks pregnant
I attend my dating scan (which is an ultrasound scan done between 11-14 weeks of the estimated due date). However, 1 minute into the scan and the sonographer tells me that the baby is measuring too small for what she needs to record and that I need to rebook for a week's time. This is going to be the world’s most scanned child if things continue like this. I know that I shouldn’t worry but I’m a little concerned that perhaps the baby isn’t developing properly. Knowing that worrying won’t achieve anything positive, I try to put it out of my head and focus on other things.
I have a full week of auditions and we’ve packed Isla off to her adoring grandparents for 5 days to save on the excruciating cost/stress of ad hoc childcare. I’ve never been away from her for such a long period of time, but I know that she’s in incredibly good hands with Granny and Grumpy and every time we Skype she seems to be having the time of her life and not missing Kyle or I one iota. The amazing bonus of her not being with us is catching up on sleep. We could be going on romantic date nights but I’m shattered by the time I get in from work, and still feeling somewhat peaky, although to a lesser extent now, and therefore we head to bed at 8pm read our books and are asleep by 9.30pm. Utter bliss. Plus in the morning I only have to feed and clothe myself before skipping out of the door without the need for nappies/snacks/changes of clothes etc! This time together as husband and wife, rather than Mummy and Daddy, also gives us the opportunity to start discussing baby names. Although we won’t find out the sex of the baby for a while, we can’t help but have a dream. Our shortlisted boys names haven’t changed but the other two girls names we liked when we were yet to settle on “Isla” both also begin with an I. We decide to go back to the drawing board and delve into the baby name book, chuckling at some of the names we had considered first time around.
The rescheduled dating scan comes around in no time at all and Isla and I (poor Kyle is stuck at school) witness a very active, and most importantly healthy and growing, babe on the screen. I am delighted that all is well and the sonographer dates the baby as 12 weeks and 5 days providing us with a due date to now work towards. That evening we ring our families and ask that they extend the good news to grandparents/aunts/uncles. We also tell a few close friends who are thrilled for us. However, we decide to hold off announcing it on Facebook or Instagram (the source of so much personal news nowadays) as I’d like to let a couple of key work-related people know in person. I just can’t believe that I’m basically a third of the way through the pregnancy already!! Exciting times lie ahead.Read about my second trimester »