About three seconds after I had my second child somebody said “Do you miss being pregnant?” and I thought – Awww that’s cute.

I smiled and said no but I could have provided a list of all of the things I prefer to being pregnant. It’s a short list:


There are many magical women out there who have amazingly easy, symptom-free pregnancies. These women are rare beings. I have met two. One of them, when drunk (well after the baby had exited the womb) admitted it wasn’t that great “It was kind of OK some days and then other days I wanted to die a little bit”. Oh alcohol! So good for honesty.

I was SO EXCITED about getting pregnant. I cannot even tell you. I basically spent half of my life imagining myself as a pregnant woman. Daydreaming about being pregnant was a full time preoccupation for me for around four years. It was a painful time too. So many negative pregnancy tests, so many tears. I vowed I would never be one of those ungrateful women who complains about being pregnant. When I got pregnant I would enjoy it. Every second. And I was beyond grateful when I finally got that positive test.

My fantasy didn’t just cover how I would feel (grateful, constantly ecstatic, blissful, at peace with my place in the world) though, the How I Would Be When I’m Pregnant fantasy covered everything: I would be me, with a beautiful bump, glowing (obviously), just kind of quietly amazing you know? I’d wear floaty dresses – gorgeous ones. In my fantasy I wore a lot of chiffon and I frolicked in fields of lavender. I’d have glossy hair – I knew pregnancy gave you beautiful hair. I might feel nauseous – but just enough in the early stages to make sure the baby was healthy. You know, just enough to be able to say ‘Oh yeah, I do have a bit of morning sickness’. I’d be uncomfortable sure. But not like really uncomfortable. It’s only the last week or so that you’re really uncomfortable right?

Well, it wasn’t quite like that. Not quite.

Pregnancy was difficult. Hahaha actually let me rephrase that:


A little nausea you say?

I puked every single day of my pregnancy, including on the way to the hospital to give birth. I once puked in the sacred waters of the Court of Appeal on my way to work (I’m sorry New Zealand). I slept holding a bowl so that when I woke up during the night to vomit I wouldn’t vomit in bed (again). I lost so much weight in my first trimester that I got used to people saying “What’s your secret? You look amazing!”

Here’s my secret – vomit so much that you are scared you actually spewed out some of your insides and you yell out to your husband that you need him to check your puke because you’re worried your gall bladder is in there.

You think that’s gross? I haven’t even said the word discharge yet.

I vomited until my throat bled. My gums swelled. I felt so weak that my husband had to help me into the car in the mornings and after work. We would drive to work with me vomiting into an ice cream container. I could barely keep down water.

Things improved though, and by the middle of my second trimester I was puking only twice a day and once or twice overnight. Bliss.

My hair? It fell out. Basically I was malnourished so I had clumps of hair falling out. It was awesome.

I was huge. Like a whale ate a whale. I had imagined a cute little bump but I was basically needing a wheelbarrow to get my massive bump around from 25 weeks.

When I slept it was basically just from blacking out from lack of energy so insomnia wasn’t really that much of a problem until 30 weeks. People are really helpful about insomnia in pregnancy.

“Sleep now! Soon you won’t be getting any sleep!”

Oh thanks! So helpful! I’ll just tell myself to sleep and then I’ll sleep. And reminding me when I’m exhausted that I’m going to be more exhausted? Wow, thank you! That’s not something a sadist would say at all!


To be honest, I got more sleep after the baby was born. I wasn’t peeing every eight seconds for a start. For the whole second half of pregnancy you basically pee and then you pee again and then you’re like, I definitely can’t pee more, but you pee once more. And then the effort of standing up from the toilet makes you pee.

I’m a lady so I’m not going to talk about poop.

But I will say that once at work, I almost called emergency services because I thought I was having the baby. I wasn’t. It was a poo. It was just as much effort as giving birth. It was only slightly less painful.

To help you with all of this amazing joyous joy – you have lots of people telling you how to be pregnant. Frankly, I enjoyed crapping more than I enjoyed the endless advice:

Have you tried highly concentrated bull semen? NO. NO I AM NOT INTERESTED IN SEMEN OF ANY KIND RIGHT NOW.

Or it’s just random statements that you didn’t ask for:

The vomiting stops after the first trimester. COOL I’M 28 WEEKS HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE EVIL?
It’s not that bad, I did it five times! OK BUT I’M NOT SURE WHAT YOUR POOR LIFE CHOICES HAVE TO DO WITH ME?
Pregnancy is a miracle. You should feel blessed. I FEEL BLOATED. GO AWAY BEFORE I STAB YOU.

Don’t even get me started about people touching you. I felt like I wasn’t just carrying a baby – I was carrying 10 pounds of pure rage. Everything made me angry. Once a colleague put the milk back into the work fridge with only a tiny bit left in it and I had to walk around the building because I was worried I might actually physically hurt him.

Emotionally I was wrecked during my first pregnancy. My second was far worse (I will blog at some point about getting help for this – because you can get help and I did). I was constantly terrified I’d lose the baby. Every time I went to the toilet I looked down at my underwear in terror – would there be blood? This never stopped. Even in labour I worried the baby would be stillborn. I worried when the baby didn’t move. I worried when it did. I worried that my worry would make the baby sick. Every scan I could barely look at the screen.

I felt guilty all of the time. I should be loving this! I’d wanted this! I had been desperate to be pregnant. We had tried for so long. Why couldn’t I enjoy it? What was wrong with me? Why wasn’t I trying hard enough to just “go with the flow”. To just “embrace” being with child? To celebrate this special time? Did everyone else hate being pregnant? I kept being told it was such a short time. That it would be over and I’d miss it.

And you know what? They were right.

Nah just joking. They were fucking full of it. I didn’t miss it at all. I willed that sucker (I mean my beloved firstborn) out of me by sheer hatred of being pregnant. Come 37 weeks I just went – NO. And my Eddie was born. I just needed to not be pregnant any more. He knew. I knew. My body knew. It was all over.

And I didn’t miss it at all. I’d never been happier than when I held him in my arms because 1) I wasn’t pregnant anymore and 2) He was here, and safe.

I vowed I would never, ever, ever, do it again. But I am not a smart person. And everyone said it would be different. So I thought…yes, it will be different. It’s totally worth it for the baby so maybe I should try again. The second pregnancy won’t be the same. It won’t be easy, but it might be easier.

And I was right!

No, I wasn’t. It was fucking terrible. Even worse than the first time. Except this time I took anti-nausea medication which I recommend. First time around I didn’t because I was a martyr or something.

Anyway – the one thing I learned from all of that is this:

Nothing. I didn’t learn anything. I mean I did it again! I would do it again! Ridiculous! So don’t listen to me. I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about.

Oh wait – actually I do have a message. I changed my mind. My message is this:

It’s OK to hate it. It’s OK to hate being pregnant. Pregnancy sucks. I mean it’s a miracle or whatever but it’s also awful. And you’re not a bad mother for hating it. For wishing it was over. You’re wishing for an end to the horrible parts of it, not your baby. That’s OK! That’s a totally understandable reaction! It’s OK to want it to be over. That’s normal. If you’re in pain, if you’re sick, if you are exhausted – it’s perfectly normal to not want to be. Think about it – if someone said they were really sick, would you tell them to suck it up because they’re alive so whatever? No! You wouldn’t. So be nice to yourself. Beating yourself up makes everything worse. You don’t have to enjoy it. How you react to pregnancy doesn’t have any impact on what type of parent you’ll be. I was an awful pregnant person. I am an OK sometimes quite good parent. Don’t let people make you feel guilty. Ignore bullshit advice (including this if it doesn’t ring true for you). Don’t listen when family tell you how great it was for them – they probably don’t remember how shit it was. Your baby will be born and that will be the amazing bit. It’s OK to hate every second of your pregnancy – it won’t mean a thing when you hold your baby in your arms.

That’s the best bit.


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20 Comments on “Glowing

  1. Fantastic post, I was cry-laughing. Oddly while I had pretty bad pregnancies too, though not as bad as yours, I did miss it the first time after having the baby when I first went alone to the supermarket. I felt like nobody looking at me could tell any more how profoundly my life had changed: of course I looked dreadful, probably (don’t remember seeing a mirror over that time) but just like a regular person otherwise. Not pregnant, or anything. Then I thought about my newborn and had the first pre-nipple pad expression of motherhood, and remembered why I had gone to the supermarket in the first place. šŸ™‚

    • Oh I really understand what you’re saying. I remember the first time I went out without my baby after my first pregnancy and I felt like I was on another planet. I found I always talked about my baby when I was out – it was like I wanted people to know how different my world was now. How everything had changed. I so get what you mean.

  2. That rage wasn’t just me?? I think I swore and ranted more while pregnant than during the previous 5 years put together. I told my work colleagues I had pregnancy Tourette’s. And the road rage… Oh. the road rage! I managed not to act on it, but at times I did have to remind myself that the pelvic girdle pain meant I couldn’t “storm” very effectively (stopping my car (potentially forcing another driver to a stop), slamming my door, hobbling over, giving the driver a piece of my mind, then hobbling back to my car just wouldn’t have the same sort of impact). Also, issues of legality, and potentially putting myself in harm’s way… I was really worried that all the anger would affect the baby – it doesn’t seem to have done, but she spent a lot of her gestation swimming in stressed out and angry hormones…

    I think your sickness was worse than mine (I went a few days without vomiting, when I’d think it was easing off, then be back to doing my smooth wake up by grabbing the bowl and puking before sitting up movement, a few times – although I was also being sick well into labour). I’ve vomited blood before. That doesn’t quite capture the horror of a bowl filling with murky brown liquid full of blood clots that look like fronds of seaweed, and the knowledge (not fear, knowledge) that you are literally disintegrating. There was one day when I had to call my manager and explain that I’d have to work from home because I couldn’t stop heaving every time I tried to close the car door, and several where my husband was driving me with my head out of the window as I dry-heaved (because sometimes, you’re running on empty and can’t even bring up bile no matter how much your insides try to turn inside out). I told my manager I was pregnant about 3 days after I found out because the guy was really worrying about me running out of a meeting to vom (I’d thought I had a stomach bug for the first week of symptoms, before I realised I was about 2 weeks late). I lost 2 stone in the first half of my pregnancy and felt like I had an eating disorder (my daughter will be 10 months on the 18th. I’m about 36 lbs lighter than I was before getting pregnant) – while putting on two cup sizes (now lost… I think I have smaller boobs than I’ve had for years. As I was a J-cup before getting pregnant, this isn’t a tragedy).

    I apparently came quite close to being hospitalised with the vomming. In fact, after I had a scare at 25 weeks (it was “just” a water infection, but the waves of intense abdominal pain coursing through my body with no cessation were *scary*, and strong enough that I couldn’t tell if Baby was moving or not – after an hour of not being able to get them to ease up at all, I called for advice and got the husband to drive me in to be assessed), followed by an antibiotic reaction making me vomit even more blood than usual, I did spend a few days in hospital to be monitored… All bugs were about 10000 times worse while pregnant, and my immune system was completely non-existent. I had about a month off sick over the 8 months of pregnancy I was supposedly working.

    The first anti-emetic and “produce less acid” tablets they gave me, I had really nasty (undocumented) withdrawal symptoms from after accidentally missing a dose on holiday (flu-symptoms, intense acid pain, came up in welts, and even more vomming). As they didn’t actually stop me from vomming (and this was quite early on and the acid burn was only really an issue immediately after being sick), I came off them; I was put on a different acid reducer later on, which worked a little better for me.

    I also developed Raynaud’s of the nipple while pregnant (and it got worse after birth – I’m hoping that when we stop breastfeeding, it’ll stop)… Imagine the temperature change involved from getting out of a hot car into the open air on a hot, summer’s day. Now imagine that being enough to put you in the sort of pain best described as “somebody holding a cigarette lighter on your nipple for half an hour”, Yep. Thankfully a side effect of having a higher risk pregnancy was that I got put on medication which helps – my GPs hadn’t heard of it as a potential issue (although they’re happy to prescribe me pills for it, and I explained the symptoms to 2 or 3 of them at my surgery, so hopefully other ladies won’t need to suffer without treatment).

    Talking about medication – I get migraines. They’re hormonal, tied to my monthly cycle. They continued into my third trimester. I couldn’t take my tablets to hopefully make them stop. I went about 5 months thinking I wasn’t allowed to take any painkillers bar paracetamol (which doesn’t touch them) until I saw a different doctor (female) who said that was a load of bullcrap and I was still a person and yeah, regular codeine use isn’t a great idea, but when I have a migraine, take the stuff… The migraines’d still last twice as long as they did when I’d take the “go away migraine” tablets, but at least I could find some respite…

    I mentioned in passing, I got PGP. I was hobbling around like an arthritic octogenarian. It would ease off after a half-hour or so (excluding the week after I ran for 10 seconds because the skies opened and I was getting “standing in a cold shower in my clothes” drenched before realising I really couldn’t do that), but seize up again as soon as I stopped. I also couldn’t bend down – between the nausea, dizziness (my blood pressure plummeted and I’d get regular dizzy spells), back pain and bump aches, if I tried more than about once/5 hour block, I’d feel *awful*.

    Oh, and when I say I was dizzy, I basically mean that I’d fall over pretty much every time I’d get out of bed for about 6 months, if I tried to get downstairs so I could wee before the nausea’d catch up to me (I had a downstairs and upstairs sick bowl), and didn’t spend 5 minutes very slowly getting up.

    My work colleagues and I were agreed that I could go around schools and terrify the next generation into using birth control šŸ˜‰ My experience was quite far from glowing or serene.

    • What an ordeal!! That sounds horrific. I had Reynaud’s too and I think the lighter to your nipple example is perfect for it. It’s horrendous. The worst pain! I’m sorry you had such an awful time. I’m glad it’s over for you. We could turn these posts and comments into pamphlets for Family Planning but then so many of us do it all over again so maybe it won’t work!

      • What really scares me is, with all that, I basically had a textbook normal pregnancy. I have SLE (luckily mild) so was in a higher risk group for pre-eclampsia; my BMI is quite high but I escaped gestational diabetes (even though my main cravings were for salty-fatty things like crisps and chips, with a secondary one for chocolate milk, and as I had to eat within 3 mins of getting hungry or I’d miss the window of opportunity and be nauseous again instead I was not eating healthily); no bleeding until my waters broke; baby grew well from appointment to appointment; heartbeat was strong and steady; and her movements were reasonably consistent… They Reynaud’s was horrible, and it bothers me how little awareness of it there is when there is safe medication which makes the pain go away.

        The thing is though, it’s 1 month of blissful ignorance and 8 months of wanting to punch people in the throat when they say things like “I know somebody who didn’t get any symptoms at all and only realised they were pregnant 7 months in – a lot of the symptoms are probably psychological so if you don’t expect them you won’t get them” – and then you get a baby, and they’re amazing, precious little sleep thieves, and all things going as planned, they’re yours for a lot longer than 9 months… I will probably do it again in 2 or 3 years because I don’t want my daughter to be an only child…

        But going through a pregnancy because you want a baby (and to look at them and feel that sense of wonder because you made this tiny perfect person/adoption is an expensive, longwinded process/you want to be able to look at them and say e.g. “she’s got my mouth and her father’s eyes”) , knowing that it’s probably not going to be the best time of your life, is a bit different to finding yourself in that boat because e.g. asking somebody to use a condom is embarrassing! Also, babies are wonderful and amazing and precious – and incredibly hard work (even if you have an “easy” baby – it’s relentless, 24/7. and you have to be nice all of the frickin’ time because they’re a baby – and my husband is 17 inches taller than me, we have a giant baby, and I have better biceps than I did when I spent almost a year in a wheelchair/on crutches – it’s a physically demanding job!!), and completely change your life.

  3. Oh Emily! THIS POST!

    a) I am SO SORRY it was so horrendous for you.
    b) I am SO GLAD you have two lovely, delightful children ON THE OUTSIDE now.
    c) SLEEP WHILE YOU CAN (I was getting 3 hours’ sleep each night and narrowly avoided punching people in the throat)

    • I am so pleased they’re on the outside now! Haha! I feel you on sleep. Hourly wake-ups last night – but still better than being pregnant! Hope you get some sleep soon!

  4. Oh yeah, I sleep brilliantly now – I wake up when outside stimulus comes along (aka two children) rather than being awake for most of the night FOR NO REASON. I can even NAP now! Love not being pregnant!

  5. I was nodding along while reading this as I identified so much with it. For me pregnancy was about the destination rather than the journey. I cannot say I enjoyed the experience of being pregnant. Those first magical flutters and then the actual movement is a cool experience but otherwise I was miserable every single time. I’m not very good at being pregnant. Even in my pregnancies that ended successfully with living, breathing babies, I had to endure a whole range of horrible experiences to get to that point. I won’t bore you with the details but the only two complications I’ve never had are high blood pressure or placental abruption. Otherwise, if it could happen in pregnancy, to me it did happen. But the babies are worth it, aren’t they?

    • Always worth it – but damn it’s a struggle to get there. I totally agree with what you’ve said (and I’m the same, I had almost every symptom). I don’t feel I’m good at being pregnant either. And it’s a shame because I’d love another one. Babies/toddlers are awesome.

  6. As usual with whatever you write I loved this. Just finished pregnancy #2. Physically, I sailed through the 39 weeks, with fewer problems than even my relatively-easy first pregnancy. Emotionally, it was the worst time of my life. I eventually got help for it as well (so I’m interested to read your future post), but I’m pretty sure the biggest help was my baby being born and me no longer being pregnant.

    • Hmm, I can’t edit what I wrote, can I? Wondering if I sound like a dick bragging about my lack of physical symptoms. I hope not. In conclusion: pregnancy is hard. The end.

      • You definitely don’t! And I so related to what you said about the biggest help actually being no longer pregnant! I knew I was unwell the second time around, and I will write about it at some point (it’s a harder post to write), but I also knew as soon as the baby was here I’d be OK.

  7. There is not much to add to this or the above comments. Except to say – I am so glad I’m not the only one who wants to punch people in the throat for pointing out that being tired or exhausted in pregnancy is nothing compared to afterwards. I’ve actually been intending to write a blog post (when I write again – been tired with this pregnancy WHICH I AM NOT ENJOYING) about how people are always so eager to make sure you know that whatever stage your pregnancy / baby / toddler is at, the next stage is always SO MUCH HARDER and you need to “just wait till…”

  8. I’ll add a few more crap pregnancy symptoms :
    Sciatic nerve pain – hurt so bad near the end had to walk around house with a broom as a walking stick as back so sore. This was because I unknowingly was going to have a 10.5 baby that was putting a lot of pressure on Everything. This didn’t stop after giant baby was delivered as body took a while to recover.
    Another gross one is varicose veins not just on the legs I had to show and ask my midwife is it normal . So gross and painful but they did go away after the giant exited.
    This was my 4th and it was not easier and I am so glad/comforted there will be no more (chop chop done ).
    Love your articles as is what real parents think but can’t really say out loud ..

  9. I’ve just come across this post Emily, and have spent most of the afternoon crying silent happy/weird tears at my desk. SOMEONE UNDERSTANDS! Our beautiful babies are IVF miracles and I am so grateful for them. But god if there was any way I could get them without being pregnant I would. With my first I vomited to the point of tearing my oesophagus. I was literally vomiting when my waters broke at 38 weeks. But no, it will be different next time! So hear I am, 20 weeks pregnant, working full time (hubs works part-time), with an almost four year old, puking my way through every day and night and I want to die. Here’s hoping the next 17-18 weeks (I refuse to be pregnant for longer than that) goes quickly. But I just have to say thank you so much. You summed up every single feeling in my body right now.

    • I’m so sorry Penni. I wish I could take your pain away. It is awful. And so horrible. And I’m sorry. And I really wish you didn’t have to go through it! But you’re not alone and there are heaps of mamas out there who are with you. I’m with you xox

  10. I love your blog, but I do have one complaint – I tend to read it when my baby is asleep (often on me) and you make me laugh so hard the baby wakes up! I need to develop a less hearty laugh for your blog!

  11. I know this is an old post but ha, yes I agree. I have had five babies, gone well over my due date four out of those five times and every time Im pregnant again (although I never will be again, thank christ) I think what the hell am I doing this again for?
    In my case, morning sickness till about 32 weeks, heartburn 24/7 all through pregnancy, then through labour and 3 months post partum, daily injections in my stomach, restless legs and wanting to gag when I think of sesame seeds on a burger bun.
    This blog post was so freaking true, I’m glad someone said it, it IS ok to hate pregnancy, it doesn’t mean you aren’t grateful, just means you don’t enjoy throwing your ring out every day, which most people don’t anyway.
    Anyway, thankyou, and thankyou for reminding me that I do not ever want to be pregnant again.

  12. oh and SPD, SPD and running around after toddlers and preschoolers and what not is like some form of torture.
    According to a facebook quiz thing I was a film star in a previous life but I actually think I may have done something worse, like slaughtered whole villages or created the whole Rick Rolling thing or something.