Are We Going To Hear The Pitter Patter Of Tiny Feet Any Time Soon? Pregnancy, Endometriosis and Our Journey.

After being married for six years, and together for almost a decade before we announced we were extending our family, we had slowly started to hear less of the common question ‘when are you thinking of making it a family of three?’ 

Honestly, I don’t massively begrudge anyone who asked it of us. For many people, it was a natural question and something they obviously expected from us based on their own choices and experiences. That being said, there is a lot to learn and be mindful of when asking something that can be deemed as incredibly personal or sensitive. Personally, I don’t ever ask. I respect that there is a usually reason for not adding children into the mix, and leave it up to the couple to share this should they ever wish to.

So, what about that family of three? 

The reason I am sharing this post now is because this month marks Endometriosis awareness month. It’s been a good few years’ since I last wrote on this particular topic as I often feel the conflict between sharing something quite personal, and the importance of being honest to help others, but I think that with my current circumstances it only feels right to share something quite close to my heart.

Following a long journey, laparoscopies (surgery) and endless scans and tests that I won’t go into detail with here, I was diagnosed with Endometriosis in 2014. 

Surgery number two – 2016

Since then, I have faced a series of hospitalisations, burst cysts, bloating and IBS and trials of different pain management solutions to try and get a handle on the condition day to day. 

But what actually is it?

Endometriosis is a condition where cells like the ones in the lining of the womb are found elsewhere in the body.  Unlike the cells in the womb that leave the body as a period, this blood has no way to escape, and instead leaves behind these tissue linings which can cause cysts, inflammation, pain and the formation of scar tissue.

It is a chronic and debilitating condition and can lead to infertility, fatigue and bowel and bladder problems amongst many other things. 

It is also notoriously difficult to diagnose, and many women, myself included, go years with painful symptoms and no support or answer to why they are suffering. 

So, “what about that family of three?” we often got asked. 

Well, based on the above, we were suddenly very aware a year after getting married that if we ever wanted to expand our family, there was a big chance it wouldn’t be straightforward and could result in disappointment and years’ of frustration ahead. 

This, paired with our goal of seeing a lot of the world and building up our careers led us to the mutual decision that for the foreseeable future, we wouldn’t even worry or focus our energies on the big ‘what if’s’ about starting a family. We made a big pre-baby list of everything we wanted to do first and put our heart and souls into having the best five years as a married couple that we possibly could and to ignore the could we / couldn’t we question.

However as we reached our thirties, we knew it was time to dig out this obstacle we had pretty much buried, and face the realities it could bring head on. Especially as for my husband, children were a big dream. We knew we were ready for a family; we just now needed to find out what it would take or if it could really happen for us.

We started the journey knowing it could take a lot of time or not even be successful. A lot of medical advice recommends couples trying to start a family try don’t approach it ‘scientifically’, and you hear that regular phrase which is ‘as soon as we stopped trying it happened!’ just like in the What to Expect When You’re Expecting Film.

We knew that for us, this probably wasn’t the best route. I won’t go into the details as honestly a lot is still quite personal, but we spent a long time preparing with expensive private medical visits, scans to check the current existence of lesions or cysts, and a big diet and lifestyle overhaul to name just a few. Honestly, it involved a lot of saving, patience and trust and we know we were fortunate in that others have it much worse than we ever did. 

It took quite a bit of time, and we had a few pretty awful bumps, tears and scares along the way, but eventually we were incredibly lucky in that it actually happened and I am now writing this at 35 weeks’ pregnant with our little girl. 

I wanted to share this post and my story as from the outside, it often looks quite easy or that people just manage to get pregnant without much effort. For many couples, that can be an amazing reality, but for others not so much. If you just looked at my Instagram you’d probably think the same of us and not be aware that even for the first twenty weeks of this pregnancy I had two cysts bigger than the baby still hanging around and needing to be monitored, and thanks to my surgery scars my belly button is a sight to behold right now.

Cysts bigger than the baby

Really, I wanted to just highlight that we never really know what has gone on to get someone to the place where they are with or without children, and that we should all be mindful of this when raising the questions such as ‘when are you thinking of making it a family of three?’ or comparing ourselves to others. 

For those with endometriosis or going through something similar, and who want to talk, always reach out to me. A strong network does wonders and you don’t need to go through this alone. 

My Second Trimester Must Haves and Key Learnings

Everyone has a different experience when it comes to pregnancy, with no two journeys ever being the same. During my second trimester, I gathered some pretty useful pieces of advice, or discovered a few things I wish I had known a little earlier. All the below was mainly discovered thanks to incredible tips I received from my mum-friends, pregnancy books and tried and tested personal experiences!

Overall, for me the weeks 13-27 were the best so far of my pregnancy. I had much more energy, could exercise easily again, and my only niggles were on-going rib pain and my sickness continued (albeit with a lot less frequency than in the first twelve weeks).

Here’s a collection of things I discovered that may or may not help you if you are in the middle of your second trimester, or want to prepare early for the months’ ahead.

Smart and comfortable maternity work-wear

It was around twenty weeks that I had to swap out my usual pre-baby wardrobe for some new maternity staples. That being said, I regularly wore my maternity work trousers and dresses from the moment I got even a bit of a bump (or pretended I did when I had just massively over indulged on Thai food) as they were so much more comfortable and less restrictive on a sore bloated belly than usual clothes.

You really don’t need much, but 1-2 pairs of work trousers and some stretchy specialist dresses will see you through the pregnancy and all trimesters without too much cost. For tops, I recommend buying floaty and loose for the workplace, and using a vest underneath to add length when they shorten due to the growing bump.

I found Bandia Maternity (purchased through ASOS) and Seraphine Maternity both had the best fit, and options that didn’t make me feel frumpy or bored of my wardrobe as my body changed.

Also, top tip: Mango shift dresses have lasted me right up until 35 weeks so far, and they are so comfy. I just took a size up from usual and they have seen me through.

A belly band

A lifesaver as your belly is expanding but you are not ready to give up your old jeans just yet. Pop a belly band over the waistband to hide the fact you can’t properly button up anymore and to protect your modesty. Also it just feels nice to have something covering the bump as it grows. This wonderful invention meant that outside of work I could wear my non-maternity jeans right up until my third trimester.

Bath with Epsom salts before bed

I don’t have a bath because I foolishly thought I wouldn’t miss one when moving to our new apartment. Note to past Lyndsay – it was a very bad move. So whenever I travel whilst pregnant I always request a hotel room with a tub because of the wonders a warm soak does for a growing body. Throw in some Epsom salts, light some candles and spend a good thirty minutes in the water to reduce swelling or pressure on your limbs.

A body pillow

My incredible brothers and sisters-in-laws got me this as a gift when I discovered I was expecting, and during the second trimester it really became invaluable. As your options for sleeping when you’re pregnant are pretty much limited to left side, or right side, you want to make sure that you are comfortable as possible. Trust me, your hips get sore after eight hours slumber on the same side.

A pregnancy pillow helps remove some of that pain, and they make for a great substitute partner to cuddle when they are working away or they have migrated to the spare room bed to escape the pillow pregnancy fortress you’ve created in the main bedroom.

Pregnancy exercise subscription

If you are feeling well enough and up to it, a mild exercise routine tailored to your stage of pregnancy can do wonders to help you feel a bit better on a daily basis. Don’t worry if you’re not, your body is growing a whole human and pretty preoccupied right now.

I loved pregnancy Yoga, and using Kayla Itsines – Sweat with Kayla pregnancy specific workouts for a big of an endorphin rush and to help with aches.

Comfy pyjamas and lounge-wear

You’re going to spend more and more time in pyjamas and loungewear because let’s face it, nothing is more appealing when in your second trimester than being cosy at home with a good book and comfort foods. Treat yourself to some new stretchy and comfy sets.

I got a couple that will be both worn now, in my hospital bag and great for nursing afterwards too so they have longevity. For this, button down shirts are key.

I got some lovely pieces from The White Company and H&M.

Rennies

Buy Rennie’s in BULK to help with heartburn. I lived off them after most meals.

Notebook or pregnancy journal

Although it doesn’t feel like it at the time, the weeks’ really fly by and you tend to forget some of the small details or funny stories that happen day by day as you discover new symptoms or put the hairbrush in the fridge (true story).

I would highly recommend getting a pregnancy specific journal so you can take half an hour a week to capture each stage. I already am looking back at it and laughing and I am still pregnant, so I know it’s going to be a great memento for years to go.

I got the ‘How To Grow A Baby’ Journal – which is a great accompaniment to the same named book from Clemmie Hooper. You can get it via Amazon and it has some great week by week question prompts to help you fully capture your journey.

Classes

If you are wanting to take any specific classes throughout your pregnancy, now is a great time to do this. Hypnobirthing, pregnancy meditation and yoga, and breastfeeding classes are ones that I personally am getting a lot of benefit from. But it’s each to their own.

Microwavable heat pad

During my second trimester, and apparently a lot earlier than most people, I started to get burning and aching pain under my left rib on a daily basis, especially after I had sat for too long or had just eaten a big meal. Don’t get me started on the five hour flight to Northern Tromso I booked before this became a symptom and it then flared up. Basically, with baby and my short torso, there really wasn’t much room for much else so my ribs began to push out to make space.

Rib flare apparently is common, and for me a heat pad really helped ease some of the burn after a long day at the office.

Books!

Start getting recommendations, borrow good used copies from friends and max out your library card to prepare you for the days where you are perhaps feeling like you have a little less energy and need some entertainment.

I have started to stockpile now for my last few weeks before baby is here and I am on maternity leave / to have something to occupy me during breastfeeding sessions.

If you are not a big reader, then swap the above for magazines, podcast recommendations or a good Netflix to watch list.

Shape/support-wear

Hear me out, I am not recommending that you wear Spanx or similar when pregnant to protect your image or to produce a more flattering bump. As you grow, and your bump gets bigger, you definitely start to get a little more uncomfortable due to the extra weight your back and legs are now supporting.

I found that a good belly support belt, and specialist maternity support-wear did an incredible job of helping to ‘hold up’ the bump and keep me from feeling as much strain when I was on my feet for a lot of the day. This can range from high-waisted yoga leggings to specialist Lycra shorts. Do some research and see if anything works well for you.

The Secret Questions You Ask During Early Pregnancy, And What This Can Tell Us

It can be a tricky time when you first find out you are expecting, as quite often you have endless questions to ask but only a limited audience you feel comfortable confiding in for the first three months. Personally, I found it to be quite a lonely period and often didn’t really know whether the answers to the questions I was seeking online were the right ones.

For anyone who is trying to conceive, who has just discovered they’re expecting (congratulations!) or for those who are just interested, I decided to do a bit of digging and turn to the power of data to discover what new mums are really thinking during those first three months. It may not give you any advice but it could help you to know you’re not really alone in your thoughts during this time.

Caveat here – I am not a medical professional, and seriously if you have any of the below questions, your midwife or Doctor is a much better source of advice than the internet.

As the saying goes, if you really want to know more about someone or what they are thinking, you just need to access their search history. It’s true that these days, Google really does know more about you than perhaps even your closest friend.

So, let’s get down to business. If you have ever wondered what the top symptoms searched for during the first trimester are, I am about to enlighten you.

First and foremost, morning sickness and nausea searches take the top spot when it comes for symptom support. This isn’t surprising, considering how many women get this during the first twelve weeks and how many of us are desperate for a way to carry on as normal when we feel like pure hell, just so others don’t catch on.

Interestingly, the search for pregnancy related symptoms and ailments is highest during the winter months. Perhaps the sun and a daily dose of vitamin D makes it easier to us to power through the nasty side effects compared to battling them on an already cold and dark morning.

So what else is on the list?

In a rough order, we are keen to know about:

  1. Headaches
  2. Discharge
  3. Cramping
  4. Miscarriage signs
  5. Spotting
  6. Dizziness
  7. Bloating
  8. Tiredness,
  9. Mood swings
  10. Sore breasts
  11. Being thirsty
  12. Losing our appetite.
  13. Why our ribs hurt
  14. Being out of breath so early on

If any of these look familiar to you, it’s because they are super common searches throughout the first few months. Personally, there’s some I definitely expected to be higher on the list from my own experience but that being said, every pregnancy is unique.

Okay, so what else? Well, when we are seeking answers during this time, 95% of us search from our mobile devices. I think perhaps we are all in silent agreement that these queries tend to be more spontaneous and ‘on-the-fly’, as well as being something we probably don’t want to Google at work (where most desktop use now takes place).

Interesting, for the partners out their supporting their pregnant other halves, the top searches say a lot. In the US and UK, the top searched for questions following the phrase ‘my wife is pregnant…’ are ‘my wife is pregnant and I am scared’ ‘my wife is pregnant meme’ and ‘my wife is pregnant what do I do’.

Says quite a bit about the emotional rollercoaster both parties go through in their first few weeks of expecting doesn’t it.

Photo by Natalie on Pexels.com

Okay, so we have covered symptoms and initial reactions, but what advice are parents to be in the UK asking the internet for during these initial twelve weeks?

One of the top asks is yet again food based. This time, we want to know the best foods to be consuming during this time with ‘pregnancy diet, pregnancy diet menu and diet week by week’ being high volume questions we seek answers to. On top of this, we also want to know what foods we really should be avoiding.

Guess what the top UK blanks are for ‘can you eat…during pregnancy?’ Well, it seems that we are nervous about missing out on our seafood fix, with Prawns, Tuna, Sushi, Crab and Feta taking the top five spots.

What about other advice? Well, in a rough order these are some of the other high volume searches we make during the initial first three months:

  1. Cravings (with recent peaks in searches for funny stories, the meaning behind them and also if they are actually real) – perhaps the final one is from the partner who has been sent to the store for the third time past midnight for ice-cream in a week.
  2. Nausea remedies
  3. How to prevent stretch marks
  4. Symptoms to predict a boy vs. a girl
  5. Checklist and things you need to do during the first-trimester
  6. How much weight you need to gain during this time
  7. If you can still go running
  8. If you can still wear Spanx during this time

Oh and lastly, pregnancy related searches sky-rocket in January. I guess that for many people, the New Year signals a natural time to begin their journey of expanding their family.

My First Trimester Essentials and Personal Discoveries

Everyone has a different experience when it comes to pregnancy, with no two journeys ever being the same. However, during my first twelve weeks’ I gathered some pretty useful pieces of advice, or discovered a few things I wish I had known a little earlier that made the first trimester a little easier. 

Here’s a collection of things I discovered that may or may not help you if you have recently discovered you’re expecting, or are planning for a little one. 

Prenatal Vitamins

It’s incredibly important to start taking your vitamins as soon as you start trying to conceive and continue throughout your pregnancy. If like me, you struggle to keep any kind of food down, you can at least rest assured that your little one is getting it’s daily dose off vitamins, minerals and folic acid from these handy little pills.

Be mindful when buying them though, I got some at first which were GIANT and pretty difficult to swallow, and when I managed to gulp them down often they upset my stomach further and didn’t stay down. 

Look for smaller capsules and take at night for best results in my experience. I used and I am still using Elevit Vitamins.

Comfy Loose Clothes

Even though I have more of a ‘bump’ in the second trimester, I found that the first was where I felt the most uncomfortable so far belly-wise. If you’re feeling nauseous you don’t want something tight digging into your belly all day. Plus, bloating is a serious side-effect for the first twelve weeks, so anything with a little room is a blessing. 

Go for cotton, soft and stretchy clothes like loose dresses, leggings and longer line jumpers or blouses where possible. Side note – unless you really need or want to, I wouldn’t invest in maternity clothes at this stage. Just size up, buy belly extenders or wear the looser items in your wardrobe for now.

My favourite leggings were the HM Maternity range – they are affordable, keep their shape and incredibly comfy and long-lasting. Much better than the Mamalicious Maternity ones I quickly returned, and half the price. 

Mints and Gum

This is a trick I discovered from my pregnant cousin who is a few weeks’ ahead of me in her pregnancy. Ginger just didn’t keep the sickness away at all for me. I suffered from severe morning sickness (being sick 4-6 times a day, every day for nearly six weeks). Highlights included being sick on a thousand year old Glacier during a hike, practically sleeping in a long-haul plane toilet and shocking a poor passerby as I quite suddenly threw up into a bush on my morning walk to work. 

Mints were the only thing that helped to stop the constant nausea feeling. That, and McDonalds Hash Browns (don’t ask) when I finally got hungry. 

If ginger doesn’t work for you like most, don’t despair and try strong mints instead. 

Book Depository

When you feel pretty wiped during the first twelve weeks, you don’t really want to do much after work or during the weekends. This is where the fantastic Book Depository came in handy for me. It’s a brilliant site for used books, with free delivery worldwide (including Switzerland!) Thanks to my brilliant friend Katy I discovered this site which allowed me to keep a well stocked library next to the bed, for passing away the hours when you just feel…bleugh. 

Pet Deterrent

I don’t know the science behind this, but as soon as I was pregnant my cats were attracted to my belly like a magnet. They still are, and unless you want to deal with a heavy lump climbing on your belly when it’s already sensitive and you’re feeling nauseous, you’re going to have to find a way to distract them! I failed miserably, but I am adding this here in case anyone has any great ideas, and to let mums-to-be know that their furry friends may know before them if a little one is on the way.

Pregnancy Plus App

When I discovered I was pregnant, I downloaded a bunch of apps to track the babies development and to discover more about what changes were happening daily to my body (and, of course, to see what size animal it compared to each week). 

The one which stood out, and I continue to use now, is the Pregnancy+ App. It’s got tons of great guides, to do lists, kick counters and more. 

Patience

This isn’t something you can buy, but it’s something I recommend you all try to have with yourself for the first three months (easier said than done, granted). It can be hard when you find you can’t quite hike at a pace you are used to, when eating anything but beige food makes you instantly sick but you want to be healthy for baby, and when you find yourself crying because you realise you’re running low on your favourite crisps and the shops are closed (true story). Although it’s a big adjustment, try not to be too hard or demanding on yourself and give yourself time over these three months to enjoy what’s happening inside of you rather than being frustrated in what you can no longer do.

Body Oil and Moisturiser

Although they say stretch marks are hereditary and if you’re going to get them, there’s not much you can do to prevent it, it doesn’t hurt to take good care of your growing body and belly with a nourishing oil or moisturiser. 

The two which worked best for me and I use daily is BioOil and Palmers Cocoa Butter Stretch Mark Cream. The former is good for putting on regularly, especially after a morning shower, and the latter is best to lather on at night as it’s quite thick and takes a while to soak in. 

It can also be a nice moment for the dad to be, as my husband rubs it into my belly most evenings as a way to connect with the growing little one. 

Refillable Water Bottle

No idea why, but as soon as you become pregnant you suddenly are 1000x thirstier than ever before, take it from me. 

I would recommend getting a good refillable bottle you can carry about everywhere, to make sure you’re never without much needed hydration!

Maternity Bra

You don’t really need to buy maternity clothes this early on, but one essential I would recommend getting from the moment you get a positive line on your test is a good maternity bra. Honestly, this area becomes sensitive pronto during pregnancy and is actually usually one of the first symptoms you can feel. Stock up on a few comfy, non-wired neutrals and you won’t regret it. 

I got mine from ASOS basics and in a multi-pack of two, and they were great.

Lavender Pillow Spray

You may find yourself sleeping more than ever before during the first twelve weeks’, especially with the frequent naps you now crave during the day. Make it easier to fall asleep and maximise your rest with a good pillow spray. It’s always nice to have little luxuries to help you through this period of big change. 

I have used the ‘This Works’ Deep pillow spray for years now, and couldn’t recommend it more.

Black Out Eye Mask

Really on the same note as the above, and especially valuable for mid-day naps. A good black out eye mask is well worth the investment. 

What To Expect When You’re Expecting Book

It is a really good and comprehensive guide that helps you week by week know what’s going on with your body, and answers some common questions you may have but don’t know how to ask or word them. It shows you different ways mums carry and their bumps, diet guides and uncommon symptoms. I read it nightly at the moment, and would recommend it to all expecting mums. 

Flying While Pregnant – First Trimester Travel Tips

During the first twelve weeks of my pregnancy I took sixteen flights for six different trips. Some went well, some were challenging and a couple were downright dreadful. The positive from all of this is that I have extensively sampled what it is like to fly in the first trimester both for leisure and business, and hope that from this I can at least share what I have learned along the way. Consider me your pregnant guinea pig, learning the flight mistakes so you don’t have to.

Before I begin though, there’s one important thing to note here. No two pregnancies are the same, and every women may have different experiences when it comes to travelling whilst expecting. My experience may be entirely different from yours, but I hope that there are perhaps some things I have learned which can be a benefit for those embarking on an early adventure. Please make sure you speak to your doctor regarding any specific medical concerns or health issues ahead of a trip.

So, if you have recently discovered you have a little one on the way, and need to travel for work or fancy a week away for leisure, here are my top insights to make the journey as comfortable and pleasant as possible.

Tell the crew

I can’t stress this one enough. If you let the crew know you’re expecting and how you are feeling, they will definitely ensure you have what you need to make the trip as comfortable as possible. When I was suffering from severe morning sickness (I am talking being sick upwards of six times a day and keeping nothing down) the kind crew let me board early and gave me water as soon as I was on board.

Other kind gestures I have been grateful for have been extra pillows, moving to seats with more room or easier bathroom access. Side note – thanks to pregnancy hormones, the smallest kindness from strangers in these situations may bring you out in unnecessary tears. Pack the extra Kleenex just in case and have your other half practice a ‘what can I say’ look for the now alarmed and confused cabin crew.

Book an aisle seat

On that note, if you have the chance to choose or pre-book a seat, do it. Go for an aisle seat. You will need it for regular bathroom runs and getting up to move and walk around on longer trips.

Pack light

If you are not feeling well, carrying a heavy bag while wheeling along a suitcase through the airport is something you definitely want to avoid. Take what you need only, and if you are genuinely struggling, ask for help. 

With that in mind, it definitely make sense to take with you anything you rely on at home which you may not be able to get abroad. Think prenatal vitamins, stretch mark cream, sickness tablets and snacks you can stomach.

Pack your own foods

So airline food is definitely improving, but the reality is that in the first trimester there may be few foods you are able to stomach or stand. Bear this in mind and prepare so that you are not stuck on a long-haul flight without adequate nutrition. Trust me, nothing is worse than a long flight when you are already sick than a long flight where you feel sick but you also cannot eat anything the airline provides and get hangry. If you are still unsure, ask my husband how well our flight to New York went! Bland crackers, beige foods and ginger biscuits are a great staple to bring on-board.

Photo by Mudassir Ali on Pexels.com

Refillable water bottle

In addition to foods, make sure you have a good quality refillable water bottle with you so you can keep sipping and keep hydrated between drinks and meal services. Often airlines don’t bring round water until the plane is cruising which can sometimes take a good forty minutes. Stay ahead of this and keep a filled bottle with you at all times.

On that note, flying dehydrates you, jet lag does too. Make sure you drink water, and then drink some more during pregnancy travel. It may feel like all you do is drink and then pee, but it’s best for baby if you keep yourself topped up water wise.

Pillows, socks and loose clothes

Comfort is key during this time, especially when tight waistbands can make a sensitive stomach feel even worse. Wear loose and layered clothing, compression socks for long flights and pack a comfortable pillow or two to make your seat the best it can be for the duration of your trip.

Take it easy Travelling is normally tiring, so there’s no wonder it suddenly feels like a serious effort once you discover you are expecting. Give yourself time to get through the airport, manage your day and reduce your activities where possible. The first trimester is basically a twelve week blur of naps, nausea and excitement so if you add the joys of jet lag into the mix, two naps a day isn’t actually that extreme and I think should be recommended to everyone. Allow yourself the rest and take it easy on yourself.