I’ve attempted to film some of my journey during the pregnancy. Unfortunately because of work, travelling and generally just trying to juggle too many things, it just never happened. Then I was committed to filing my final two weeks during pregnancy, then again, another body malfunction and it didn’t happen! So, I will attempt to summarise the entire experience in this blog.
I’ve spoken about this with the BBC and on my other social media platforms. I was genuinely shocked and devastated. I have had some health issues/ complications in the past and was under the impression from the age of 19, that I would always struggle when I tried for a baby- I was told this by medical professionals. I have never had any pregnancy scares in my whole life. Partly because I’ve always been careful, and partly because I didn’t think it would be easy for me to get pregnant. Even when I tried with my current partner, still nothing happened. So to take precautions (albeit, not the precautions I had taken in the past), and fall pregnant by mistake, it really knocked me. Even when I took the test, I wasn’t nervous, I didn’t think it would be positive. When I looked at it initially, it had come up with a single line very quickly. I then put it down and didn’t think much of it. Then when I was just about to leave the bathroom and put the stick in the bin, that’s when I saw the dreaded second line. I knew EXACTLY what that meant but I rushed to get the box just to make sure. Within a fraction of a second, I flew through all the time between now (then) and the Olympics the following year, including the dreaded birth, and thought how could I possibly make this work. I found out around 9pm that night and had to wait until 2am for my boyfriend who doesn’t live in the UK, to wake up so I could tell him the news. He was also shocked but not devastated like me. He told me later he was really pleased that I was pregnant, but at the time and to me, he didn’t show it. That’s because he knew there was a very realistic chance of termination.
Couple of days in:
After taking two more tests to make sure the first one…and second one wasn’t faulty, I accepted that I was in fact, definitely pregnant. I then had to weigh up everything in my life and make a decision on whether to go through with it or not. The decision had to be made fairly quickly as I was due to fly to Australia 19 days later for 3 months, and I was 5 weeks gone when I found out. I always thought that if I ever was going to terminate a pregnancy, it would be as early as possible with as little development as possible. I spoke to close friends to who had found themselves unexpectedly pregnant and got their advice. They all knew how focused I was on the Tokyo Olympics so no-one assumed they knew what the outcome would be. The advice that made the most sense with me, was which one I would regret more. If I missed the Olympics and didn’t have the baby, how would I feel? If I missed the Olympics and had the baby, how would I feel? Would I blame the baby for it? If I went to the Olympics, and had the baby, then what? The ideal scenario would be the last one, to have the baby and go to the Olympics. Whilst my original goal was to medal at the 2020 Olympics, I no longer felt it was a realistic goal. To just be selected though, was realistic and I was happy to accept that as my new goal. To not go through with the pregnancy, and to still not go to the Olympics was the real risk. There are no guarantees in life, least of all sport. I didn’t want to assume that if I do everything right, it was an automatic pass to become a double Olympian. Then to miss the Olympics but still have a baby, I was happier with. I would know I still gave it a go and worse case scenario, fail but still have my baby at the end of it. So that process is what made my mind up. Give it a go, see what happens.
So this first trimester was actually ok, I was lucky during this period. I never got horrendous sickness or fatigue. In general, I nearly always felt like myself. I was in Sydney and Brisbane for most of my first trimester and still training during this time. Any early signs of something being ‘off’ was my intolerance to heat. I suddenly started suffering in heat that wouldn’t usually be an issue. Early to mid 20 degree was all I could cope with, as soon as late 20s hit, the struggle started. 30 degrees, it was all over for me. I made the mistake once to stop being weak and deal with it, that training session ended up in heat stroke. So I didn’t do that again! Also what came with heat was a bit of fatigue. It wasn’t overwhelming but I did feel the need to rest longer during gym sessions in between sets, take my time to finish the gym session and/or throwing sessions. The other noticeable difference was hunger. My God, the hunger was REAL. I rather naively thought that the ‘eating for two’ was an excuse to take advantage of eating loads. Turns out, growing a baby is hungry work! I desperately tried to not eat as much as I wanted or make healthy, sensible choices. Unfortunately I either couldn’t afford to eat healthy as often as I was hungry, or I didn’t prepare enough food. My only minor complication was I was at high risk of having a short cervix which would lead to an early labour (late miscarriage). So I had regular scans to make sure the length of the cervix was safe and she was still happy in there.
Second trimester Australia:
My second trimester was spent in Australia and in the UK. The very first day of the second trimester, I read my weekly app update of what joys were to come for the week ahead. It said the sickness should be lessening and I should start to feel a bit like myself. Well, from not being sick at all in the first trimester, I ended up being sick a number of times during the second! I actually felt a lot less myself as I felt I was having less and less control over my body. I was trying to keep an eye on my weight and not gain too quickly, although every time I got too hungry, I would be sick. So this became quite hard to balance. There is also a ‘fat’ stage in the second trimester that no one warned me about! I again, rather naively thought that you went from not looking pregnant to looking pregnant. I completely didn’t prepare for the fat phase where I felt I just looked out of shape. If I’ve ever felt like that before, I would eat less or better, and train a bit more. But at this stage of pregnancy, I couldn’t. This was definitely hard for me mentally. Losing definition, gaining weight steadily, still feeling hungry all the time, couldn’t train as much as the heat was too much for me. It was a negative spiral I found myself in. I also started getting a bad groin/ adductor pain on both sides. Initially I thought it was to do with a Discus injury, but I soon learned it wasn’t and it was a pregnancy thing.
Second trimester in the UK:
I came back to the UK when I was 20 weeks. I tried to continue training as normal, but felt my belly wasn’t happy with the twisting and turning, so I stopped throwing. The gym however was fine so I continued to lift and do bits of cardio. I did stop jumping and started to do more stability work as that was the more sensible thing to do. On the 24th April, I was 25 weeks, I woke up with a fluid trickling down my leg. I didn’t think much of it and went to the toilet. Stood up after I was finished and it continued to come out, so much so that I started catching it in my hand. It stopped and I looked at it, it was a clear, watery liquid. Again, didn’t think much of it other than it was a bit unusual. So I had a shower and washed it away. When I got out, fluid again started running down the inside of my leg. At this point, I thought I’d message my aunty, cousin and best friend in our group chat and explained that I had a bit of a watery situation happening. They said I needed to ring the delivery suite and tell them what had happened. I was on a weight lifting camp in Swansea at this point which was in the middle of nowhere and I wasn’t with anyone I knew. So I had to tell the coaches (which I had only met 2 days prior) what had happened and asked to use their house phone as I didn’t want the reception of a mobile to cut out. The hospital told me I needed to make my way to the nearest hospital to check to see if my waters had broke. This was something I genuinely didn’t even consider! I always thought it would happen dramatically like the films or closer to your due date, not 15 weeks away. To cut this long story short (although I have gone into more detail on the vlog I have done and will be on my YouTube channel should you want to know more about this experience!!), the Singleton hospital in Swansea confirmed my waters had in fact broken. I had to stay there for 4 days, ask Sinead Breeze (one of the coaches and the wife of the lead coach Michaela Breeze) to buy me snacks, new knickers, collect my stuff from the house where I had left it, all sorts! They both went way beyond the call of duty and what they needed to do. So thank you so much guys, and I’m sorry Sinead for the things you had to see when I was in hospital! (Again, if you want to know what I’m talking about, I go into more detail in my vlog. It’s not for the screamish, be warned!). I eventually got back to London and from then on, had checks for me and baby twice a week every week until I was due to deliver. I was also not allowed to do any training of any sort any more and not allowed to physically stand for more than 2 hours at a time. Which then made work a bit harder!
Well I was grateful to make it to week 28! When my waters had broke 3 weeks prior, the chance of survival were not strong for our little one. Week 28 was a significant week as it meant that her lung development and chances of other things developing fairly normally were much better. Things were pretty straight forward and simple. I did notice that the tired phase had crept back into my life and the first sign of stretch marks had come (that was week 32/33). Stretch marks may seem like a normal part of pregnancy and something you should just expect to get, but it made me sad nonetheless. I had done everything I possibly could to try and minimise the chance of getting them, hopefully they won’t be too bad when everything goes back. Makes me sound a bit shallow but I was relatively proud of the body I’ve built for the last 15 years, so to have changes happen so quickly is quite hard to accept. Especially when you know other friend and family members have managed to avoid getting stretch marks. Week 33 also came with the joy that is kidney stones. I called the ambulance 3 times that week! Monday I was normal. Tuesday morning around 9am I phoned 999, back home by 6pm. Wednesday at 2.30am phoned 999 again, stayed in until Thursday afternoon. Then Thursday at 11pm I called the ambulance again and got out Sunday night. Turns out kidney stones (and another strange stabbing abdominal pain) are much harder to diagnose and treat when you’re pregnant, who knew! As I write this, I am 34 weeks and 6 days. Tomorrow is the big day where I finally see my boyfriend again (haven’t seen him since mid March at 20 weeks) and is the day I am set to be induced! He lands at 6.30am, I am due to phone the hospital at 9am. Quick turn around!
Well it didn’t go as planned!! As I now write this, I am now 36 weeks exactly….
After waiting 7 hours on the delivery ward, we finally had an appearance from the senior consultant who’s opening line was “Why are you here?”. As you can imagine, this did come as a surprise and I wasn’t overly impressed at being asked such a thing by someone who should definitely know exactly why I’m there. She went on to question everything that had happened in the last 10 weeks and concluded that she didn’t think my waters had in fact broken 10 weeks ago. I argued quite a lot with her as I thought her conclusion was incorrect, and was very annoyed that only then was I hearing about potential doubts about what had happened. This consultant ultimately told me she thinks the fluid I had and have felt, from when I was 25 weeks is either urine or a watery discharge (sorry boys who are reading this!) Also that she thought the hospital in Swansea misdiagnosed me. I challenged everything that she had said and questioned why it had taken 10 weeks of stress and worry for her to very quickly downgrade and dismiss everything that had happened. The only reason I didn’t push for the induction is because the consultant essentially guilt tripped me into waiting a further 2 weeks until my baby was ‘term’. She told me that 35 weeks was still premature and she could still have problems. She went on to say “don’t you want to take your baby home with you rather than keep her in a neonatal unit for a few weeks?”. Of course whilst I am a selfish person and do look forward to not being pregnant anymore, I will always do what is best for my baby and told her that I would do as she recommends and keep her in for another 2 weeks until she is 37 weeks. I guess the good things are that my boyfriend does get to experience our baby kicking and moving in my belly, something he hasn’t felt this whole pregnancy. We do get a couple of weeks to be just us before our worlds change forever. And of course, out little girl gets a few more weeks of developing so she’s ready to face this outdoor world.
This I didn’t expect:
I’ve never been particularly interested in pregnancy or babies, so I’ve never taken much notice. But these things came as a shock to me…
- Hunger. As I touched upon in the first trimester, I just did not expect to be as hungry as I have been! I very much underestimated this part of pregnancy. I thought I would just make good decision and I would be disciplined enough to not eat crap. I was very wrong! Yet my cousin who is 4 weeks behind me has hardly changed her eating at all. Each pregnancy is just so different.
- Spots. I have had spots pop up all over the place. At one point, it looked like I had a rash all over my chest and shoulders. For no reason other than my hormones doing something weird! Weird pimples are constantly on my neck now too. Why?!
- The ‘glow’. I’ve come to the conclusion this ‘glow’ people talk about does not exist. The ‘glow’ is shine from my greasy skin. I also get hot for no reason at all, so sweat is adding to this ‘glow’.
- Dry skin. So on my face and head, I get really greasy. Hair gets greasy really quick, face is much more spotty than normal because of the extra grease, yet my boobs and nipples are really dry. Really flaky skin and I have no idea why! Also I developed eczema on my arms for no apparent reason.
- Fat phase. Again, I spoke about this earlier but completely didn’t realise this was a thing. Not a lot you can do about this bit but mentally, I wish I was more prepared for it. I just didn’t think about this part of early pregnancy. You don’t look pregnant, but you are much bigger than the old you.
- Nipples. I knew that your nipples got sore or sensitive during pregnancy, but I never knew the whole boob actually hurt when I got cold. Walking down the fridge aisle down Tesco was a bloody nightmare! Or just being in the UK in March was on the whole, a painful experience. I was holding on to the whole boob trying to keep it warm and stop the pain!
- Being hot. I thought I would feel the heat more, but I find myself constantly hot. Definitely underestimated how hot it can be cooking a baby.
- General aches and pains. My adductors have been suffering big time. Apparently it’s to do with laxity in ligaments and my pelvis moving more than normal. My back however has actually been very good! Only had one day where I literally couldn’t stand up, but apart from that it’s been very good!
- Fitness. Even when I was allowed to train, I definitely felt my aerobic fitness suffering the most. Strength has actually always been ok, that definitely didn’t drop off the same way my aerobic fitness did.
- Weight gain. Kind of comes with the hunger. I thought people put on lots of weight because they used the ‘eating for two’ as an excuse. Now having been in a position where I am watching what I eat and trying to make good decisions and still putting on weight, I understand it. I thought I would put on around 10kgs (admittedly, I did think I would be training the whole way through), but at 34 weeks and 6 days, I stood at 107kgs which is 20kg (3 stone) heavier than I started.
- Dignity. I thought you lost it during labour. I was wrong. It happens so much earlier. Mine probably started when my waters broke and then again during the kidney stone moment (again, keep an eye out for my vlog on YouTube if you really want to know about that!). Next stop, completely shame myself during the throws of labour. Yay!
I have no idea how I am going to feel when she comes out, but I am hoping a motherly instinct kicks in. I don’t really have a birth plan and am trying to be as adaptable as I can be. I don’t really feel ready but I think that’s pretty normal. It’s a strange feeling knowing in theory what’s going to happen, but in reality have absolutely no idea what is in store. In terms of training, I haven’t put a time limit on it. I will go back when I feel able and ready. I will of course ask for the advise and guidance of doctors, my physio and coach too. I don’t believe there is anything to gain by coming back quickly and risking injury. I will see how it goes and adapt accordingly.
I will update as soon as I can on the blog/ vlog. For my immediate updates and tired looking face, follow me on Instgram. I will also update my Twitter and Facebook as often as I can.
Wish me luck!