We told our family at four weeks and by then I was again convinced I wasn’t pregnant at all. I had convinced myself it was all a big mistake. How could I be? I wasn’t getting fat, my boobs still weren’t sore, I wasn’t puking. I was paranoid. I bought another pregnancy test. I thought I was losing my mind, but there it was again – a big fat positive. So, I went on pretending to myself I was pregnant. That’s genuinely how I felt. In fact, I remember going to visit my mother-in-law when I was six weeks pregnant who, by this time, knew about the pregnancy and saying, “I almost wish I had morning sickness…then at least I would know for sure I was pregnant.”
She laughed. I laughed. Then I woke up the next morning and puked. And puked and I kept puking. I puked all day long. Opening the fridge made me puke. Getting out of bed made me puke. I would wake up in the middle of the night dry heaving, only slightly relieved that I hadn’t puked in my sleep only to find myself running to the loo to puke before I’d even finished my thought.
For the next six weeks all I did was throw up. I pulled over on the motorway to throw up before I realised that I could stop at MacDonalds on the way, grab an extra large cup from them and throw up into that while I drove to work without having to stop. That was called Drive Puking. I would run straight to the shower in the morning and puke in the shower – that was called Clean & Efficient Puking. I abandoned three shopping trolley’s full of food (some of it half eaten) because I had to run outside and throw up in the car park. That was called Embarrassing Puking.
One day, when my husband was in the shower, he was toeing something on the floor. “Babe, what’s this on the floor of the shower?” he enquired.
“That?” I said looking closely. “Oh, that’s just a piece of onion. Sorry. I puked in the shower this morning but thought I’d got it all.”
He shrugged as he toed it down the drain. This is what our life had become.
My puking was relentless. At eight weeks pregnant my husband went on tour for four weeks and I sank to levels of such slobbery that my mother had to come down a week before he got back to sort me out. Without Jimmy around, there had been no reason to make sure the clothes I put on were clean (I was only going to spew on them); there was no reason to make sure the fridge had food in it (I was living on oat bars and orange cordial); there was no reason to tidy anything up, change the bedsheets, clean the bathroom, wash my hair.
In fact, I spent most of those four weeks on the sofa in tracksuit bottoms and a jumper covered in cat hair trying to divine magical skills that would allow me to summon orange cordial and oat bars without having to move. I never did master that skill but my mother put an end to my trying anyway.
“Listen, you’re not ill. You’re pregnant and this is getting out of hand. Get up, get showered, put some clean clothes on and I’ll deal with the rest.”
She was, of course, right. I wasn’t ill but boy did I feel it. I felt like I had food poisoning that lasted six weeks. I was dehydrated, hungry but unable to eat and walking around with a constant headache. I was also on my own and as someone who was self-employed and working from home, I had sunk into levels of isolation previously unknown.
It took me all day to shower and put clean clothes on and by the time I’d done it my mum had cleaned the flat, changed the bed, stocked the fridge and cooked dinner. For the first time, I felt vaguely hungry for something other than oat bars so I shoveled in some Shepherd’s Pie and then promptly threw it back up.
But I felt better.
Jimmy came home when I was eleven weeks pregnant and the light at the end of the morning sickness tunnel had been switched on. The feeling of constant car-sickness was starting to ease. There were clear moments of respite when I could consider straying more than a safe distance from my own bathroom. By twelve weeks, my morning sickness was done. Just like that. I woke up one morning feeling normal.
The relief was overwhelming. I was through the first trimester; the morning sickness was done. Now my hair would flourish, my nails would grow in a few days I would be able to see my baby for the very first time.