Writer and mum of two Laura Johnson tells M&B how she feared the experience of being pregnant, how she survived - and how it was all worth it...
For some women, becoming a mummy was an overwhelming desire from a young age. I wasn’t one of them. Maternal instinct instead very gradually made itself comfortable in my consciousness a little after I turned 30. But to become a mum, I had to conquer one unavoidable fear – being pregnant.
Although I wanted the end result more than anything in the world, the thought of the nine months leading up to cradling my little bundle of joy would send me into irrational panic. The lifestyle changes weren’t an issue – I love a glass of wine but the switch to designated driver was a willing sacrifice. On the other hand, the thought of the changes to my body and the physical elements of carrying a baby scared me senseless.
As an enthusiastic exerciser and a sucker for healthy eating fads, having control over my body has always been one of my ‘things’. Getting pregnant meant relinquishing most of this and letting the baby growing within me take charge. Terrifying. So where I could maintain power over my body, I snapped it up.
Now, I have no miracle cure for morning sickness or a secret to relieving pesky pregnancy heartburn (sorry) but doing the following trivial things made nine child-bearing months a whole lot easier for me.
Strenuous workouts had to go, but fortunately baby and I were able to find a compromise. A combination of lots of walking, swimming and the Tracy Anderson pregnancy workouts kept me feeling fit and flexible even into the third trimester, which greatly eased my pregnancy aches and pains.
Time to love my bump.
Life doesn't stop for pregnancy. In fact my work schedule got busier as maternity leave loomed. A weekly antenatal yoga class gave me a guilt-free 90 minutes to linger on the amazing thing my body was doing and a welcome break from cursing my plummeting energy levels.
If in doubt, accessorise.
I was obviously pregnant early on. By the end of my first trimester, disguising my blossoming bump (and busom) in normal clothes was pointless. Maternity clothing is dull but it provided a well-fitting blank canvas and a great excuse to invest in belts, jewellery, brooches, hats, scarves and every other imaginable accessory that reflected more of my fashion personality.
As my baby grew, my skin stretched beyond what I thought was physically possible. Plastering on Mama Mio Tummy Rub Oil, Boob Tube and Lucky Legs became a morning and nightly ritual for me. Not only did it feel like I was doing something proactive to preserve my skin, it was also regular pampering time I dedicated to me (and my baby) in an otherwise chaotic day.
So despite my fears of nine months of misery, I’ve survived pregnancy (twice) mainly smiling and tantrum free. I can’t say with convincing fondness that I loved every second of being pregnant. I didn’t. Do I miss having my bumps? Not really. But I love and cherish the two little beings my body created more that I could ever imagine. And this makes my pregnancies magical. In retrospect anyway.