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Filtering by Category: Diary of a Pregnant Doula

Diary of a Pregnant Doula: First Trimester Round up

Siobhan Ridley

So it turns out that the third pregnancy goes even faster than the second! How is that even possible?! I feel as though my experience of time has gone totally DeLorian* on me. I remember those first three months of my pregnancy No.1 went achingly slowly. I was so eager to get to the first scan, the 'safe point' and to share our news with our families. Simultaneously I adored having this special secret...this little miracle thing that was happening in my body that belonged only to my husband and I. Now, with two children, whom I home educate during the week, a business with many facets and my other voluntary ventures, it's no wonder this pregnancy is going a little differently.

This first trimester has also been the hardest hitting in terms of sickness. I'm really lucky to have barely experienced anything resembling 'morning sickness' in either of my previous pregnancies but this one came with ten weeks of feeling like I was the colour green and my battery pack had been unplugged. My memory always goes to shit with pregnancy but this has been unprecedented...I'm double booking things, muddling days, forgetting basic vocabulary and loosing my keys...when I'm actually holding them(!). I'm pretty sure my brain has gone “THREE! Are you crazy...I'm outta here”.

This is my first pregnancy since becoming fully immersed in the world of birth work and it's been a fascinating journey for me already. This time around I'm much more nutritionally aware and despite going off food altogether during those 10 weeks of nausea, I have made more of an effort to consider the supplements that I take, up my hydration levels and generally focus more on my dietary requirements.

Starting as I mean to continue: making informed choices early on

I have begun my journey through maternity services by weighing up my choices at every stage. In this initial stage the only things that have been offered to me to consider have been the first ultrasound (or otherwise termed the 'dating' scan) and the three chromosomal abnormality screening test. In my previous pregnancies, screening for Down's Syndrome was available but not for Edwards’ and Patau's. My husband and I spent some time discussing which screening we would like and why. I read up on Edwards’ and Patau's and we really considered how a discovery that our baby might have one of these two syndromes could effect my pregnancy. It was an interesting journey and I realised that some 'routine' or innocuous looking tests that are offered might have huge ramifications.

We asked ourselves these questions (we didn't ask ourselves these questions with Down's only because we've already been a position where we've been offered this screening and know how we feel):

  • What is Edwards’ and Patau's?

  • What does a it mean for a baby?

  • Would we choose to terminate? What would that look like? How would that effect my state of mind, our family etc?

  • If not, what would that mean for the rest of the pregnancy and birth, carrying a tiny human with a condition 'not-viable with life'? What would that look like? How would that effect my state of mind, our family etc?

It's not entirely relevant what we chose to do, but starting the process of researching, analysing, hypothesising and discussing this offer, filled me with the confidence of being in control of my experiences and the next 6/7 months. In an odd way it also helped my husband and I to connect with the reality of having another human.

Sharing this experience with clients

I have totally loved teaching hypnobirthing and supporting doula clients whilst growing this little life. It's been magic talking to my wonderful clients about their journeys and then afterwards, thinking about my own. I always learn so much from the families with whom I work and have recently been making a mental note of the things that may enhance my own pregnancy and labour experience. When I am with my clients, I witness grace, intelligence, courage, honesty, team work, amazing strategies and I hear how they navigate all the complexities of their own contexts. Even before thinking to my own pregnancy and birth, I am all the better for having been party to their journeys.

Plans for the next trimester

I don’t really have any. We have the great benefit of already owning all the baby paraphernalia that we liked/found useful and we don’t have any of the general crap left that Pinterest told us to buy (curse you shiny pin boards). We also have bags of clothes, toys etc ready to go. We now know that babies are unpredictable and that our style of newborn parenting is to kind of just roll with it. So we don’t plan too much. I have started to give some thought to our birth plans though and I’m excited about starting preparations sometime over the next few months.

What has your First trimester been like? What have been your highs and lows? Has your second pregnancy differed from your first?

I’d love to hear your stories.

Disclaimer: Every woman and every perinatal experiences (pregnancy to motherhood) is entirely unique. My journey is just that, mine. In no way do my choices reflect on how I support others through their own journey. I support all pregnant people and their families through all their choices. You can read about why I've chosen to open my third pregnancy up to anyone who might want to follow along.

*Pardon the Back to the Future reference.

Diary of a Pregnant Doula

Siobhan Ridley

Last summer my husband was abroad on business and I woke up the morning my period was due feeling different. Weird isn't it...that a tiny line encased in a crappy overpriced piece of plastic can represent the magnitude of what is happening inside a woman's body, the vastness of the journey ahead and the feeling that everything, EVERYTHING is going to change beyond recognition and the unfathomable mystery of how that's exactly going to look. It takes my breath away and the air is heavy with overwhelm cut only by the occasional nervous giggle and excited flurry of butterflies rising in my throat.

Three children. I am full of gratitude. I know first hand some of the heartache of wanting a child and wondering if it's actually written in the stars for me. I know the feelings of guilt, anger, jealousy, yearning, heavy disappointment, physical pain and bodily disgust. I have supported friends and clients through their own journeys of sadness. This opportunity to grow, birth and parent another human truly is a gift.

So, our new gift will be arriving sometime around Easter time 2019. This is my first pregnancy as a birth keeper and my career and knowledge has already made a difference to my experience vs my previous pregnancies.

When I shared our news on social media and began opening the door a little on my personal experience of pregnancy, I received a flood of messages asking me to share more. It would seem that some are curious about how a doula might journey through pregnancy and birth. I've wrestled with this idea of baring myself so publicly (I'm more of an introvert and this doesn't come naturally to me), and after much to-ing and fro-ing I've decided to share some bits and pieces and see how it goes.

Why does my experience matter? It doesn't really. Well, not to anyone else other than my family and I. It's another story in the www. ocean of personal experiences. Like an ocean, there are areas where one ship would not want to venture but others might. It's up to each individual woman to find the stories that she wants to read, from which she may gleam some solace, insight and enjoyment. I am choosing to simply add mine to the throng. As a doula my perinatal (pregnancy to motherhood) journey is no better/worse than anyone else's, it's just different. Every decision my husband and I will make is the culmination of 1000s of variables, some of which I could articulate and many of which I'm not even fully aware of because they sit at an unconscious level, informed by everything that has occurred in my life up to this very moment. And as shared decision makers, there are my husband's variables too. The context of every one of our choices is deeply complex, just as is yours. I cannot comprehend all the reasons behind my clients' decisions, nor do I need to. I wholeheartedly accept that this is the right journey for them and I support them without judgement, with love and respect.

If you choose to delve into my pregnancy diary, you will be reading my journey, unique as it is and effected by much more than I could ever explain to you. It is not a reflection of my opinions of what others 'should' do...I have no such opinions. Your journey is yours and yours alone...how can I possibly say that because I made one choice, that that's the right thing for everyone and by implication, that it's somehow better. I am not you. What is right for me will not be 'right' for you and visa versa. The internet is full of people using their personal stories to tell others what's 'better' or what they 'should' do and it's bullshit.

So there it is. A little bit of background on me and my reasons for choosing to share my third pregnancy journey should you wish to dip in.

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