This weekend I very nearly threw up in the chiller aisle of Marks and Spencer's. A walk to town in the heat meant I had to go back to bed for the rest of the afternoon. We went for lunch with my mum, and I managed all of two bites of my pizza. An online food shop made me so nauseous it took me a couple of hours to complete. Plus, I've perfected the art of vomiting in the shower in the morning in case the pressure of being sick is too much for my bladder - it's no fun to start the day by wetting yourself, trust me.
Now 26 weeks into cooking up our third baby (lovingly nicknamed 'Peaches' after the mammoth in Ice Age, by Matilda) there is only a fortnight to go until the final trimester; it really won't be long before our new little one is here in the world adding to the fun and chaos of our family!
I absolutely love having a bump and being pregnant, but as you can probably tell from the summary of events, it isn't always plain sailing. Growing a human is fraught at the best of times - always filled with challenges and worries; it's a physically and emotionally demanding experience.
It can be hard to voice these downsides though - for fear of appearing ungrateful, aware of so many people who have experienced loss and difficulties, conscious of the expectation to glow and bloom and keep smiling.
While pregnant with Matilda, I was diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum, extreme vomiting and nausea that goes beyond the normal realms of morning sickness. I could barely keep down any food or drink, relied heavily on anti-sickness tablets and still vomited regularly until the day she was born. It could have been worse too; some women with HG experience such grave effects on their health that they have no option but to be hospitalised.
Arthur's pregnancy was less complicated, but this time around with Peaches, cooking up another little girl, the sickness has returned. I'm back to relying on tablets and doing my best not to throw up in public.
And sometimes, it's bloody hard.
For the first trimester, I took on an ashen, grey hue as the effects of constantly being sick took its toll. I wasn't able to properly look after Matilda and Arthur, couldn't work and was barely able to get through a day without having an afternoon nap as the cumulative effects of sickness, baby-growing and the drowsiness caused by medication snuck up on me. I relied on Jon and our friends to help pick up the slack and spent a lot of time generally feeling awful - and very sorry for myself.
This second trimester has been physically more comfortable as I've been better able to manage my HG, but it's a never-ending balance. If I overdo it when I feel well, it is a sure-fire way to suffer, be more nauseous and altogether useless in the days that follow. There have been days where I've been super frustrated that my body can't take on more, stay up later or push that bit harder. And other days where I've been in tears, bored of feeling so rubbish.
I've had to be more mindful of what I say yes to, even when that means letting people down or passing up on opportunities. In fact, this time around I have needed every self-care tool in the book!
Of course, finding things tough doesn't mean that I'm not grateful or that I don't appreciate just how amazing it is to be growing another healthy, wiggly baby. It doesn't overshadow the vast number of upsides; Matilda feeling her little sister kick for the first time, Arthur kissing my ever-growing bump, seeing our tiny girl wiggling away in her scans, hearing her heartbeat, choosing her name, buying her coming-home outfit...
Experiencing the downs alongside the ups means I'm human.
Even life's most wonderful events (especially those that throw a ton of hormones and possible ailments in the mix) can have their wobbly moments too.
So if you're pregnant and finding some aspects of it hard, you're not alone. It's not all glowing and blooming, and that's perfectly alright. It's okay not to be okay, and it's okay to say that out loud.