I'm sprawled across my sofa like a beached whale, legs akimbo in a way that only a pregnant person can honestly get away with, watching 'Ratatouille' (yes, the children's movie...that is correct) and working my way through a box of chocolate orange segments which are balanced precariously at top of my bulging belly.
This was Christmas 2011. I was pregnant with my oldest daughter and the memory is one that stays with me because it was probably the only time in my life when I felt the need to force myself to eat chocolate.
I do not generally have to force myself to eat chocolate! But on this occasion I did. Because it was Christmas, and I felt I should. Maybe to stop my miserable pregnancy ruining my favourite time of year, I'm not sure. I didn't even enjoy it, (but I did enjoy the movie).
This particular memory stays with me (and comes back each time I watch Ratatouille, which is a lot because I now have two children) because it was the only time during that whole pregnancy (that's nine months, remember) that I did eat chocolate. Which is quite a remarkable thing for me.
But when you feel sick, chocolate is the last thing you crave. In fact, I couldn't face anything sweet at all. 'They' don't tell you that in the brochures...no, no, it's all 'Get pregnant, eat what you like, blah, blah, blah!'
And I felt sick....all of the time. Not just in the morning, as 'they' would lead you to believe is the case. Has anyone pregnant actually only been sick in the mornings?
Literally, from the moment of conception, (or probably implantation if you want to go all sciencey on it) until the moment my daughter was lifted out of my stomach and held in the air like a prize-winning turnip (yes, she was a c-section baby, and yes, I do feel as if I gave birth to her and no, I do not feel like a failure...let's discuss this one another time), I felt sick. As a dog.
And I don't just mean I felt sick on and off during the whole nine months, I mean every second of every day for the Whole. Nine. Months!
It was horrific. HORRIFIC!
Although I felt sick constantly, I remember there were certain 'triggers' which could make it even worse, like the -gag- smell of a -double gag -roasting chicken, and a particularly clean smelling hand wash that still takes me back when I discover it in public bathrooms! I'm glad to say I’m okay with chicken these days, the hand wash not so much.
And reading about poor Kate suffering with hyperemesis gravidarum, yet again in her third pregnancy has reminded me of the sheer awfulness of it all and brought it all back to me, not that you can ever forget it. Don't believe that myth about child-birth either (oh yes, I've seen birth from both sides and neither way will I ever forget...)
She may be royal and certainly, she'll have the very best care money can buy. Unlike my pregnancy hair, hers will be clean and her make-up done for her so she won't look like death warmed up like I did, but I bet she still feels like crap!
Thankfully for her though I doubt she will ever have to greet a plumber while holding a plastic bag filled with her own vomit. Like I did.
Oh yes, did I mention, not only did I feel sick all of the time, I also got sick some of the time.
Sometimes in the most inopportune places, like driving to and from work. So I was forced to drive with a plastic bag in the car beside me at all times (and eventually, I had to get my husband to drive me to work as getting sick at the wheel is just too risky) hence, meeting the plumber while bringing my sick home to be disposed of.
Fortunately, the actual getting sick part didn't last for more than a few weeks for me but it was a pretty horrible nine months all the same and made me fearful of having another child in case I suffered in the same way again. Not enough to stop me from having baby number two, three years later, and that pregnancy wasn't half as dreadful as the first, but I really wouldn't like to tempt fate again.
It's not a popular thing to say, but pregnancy was not an enjoyable experience for me. It was a means to an end which, of course, was worth every God-awful second, but when I hear other women talking about how pregnancy 'empowered' them or made them find 'their bliss' I feel envious. I wished I could have been that momma, glowing and floaty instead of pasty and blobby. Sometimes I couldn't even bear to wash because it involved standing up for longer than I could bear to...I didn't dye my hair for nine months...it was a difficult time.
Obviously, there were lovely moments, like to first fluttering movement I felt, and the games my bump and I would play in the bath when she'd wriggle away from the warm water. I'd feel her hiccupping every evening in bed and laugh at the cuteness despite myself, but I do wish those memories hadn't been tainted with the bad feeling I can't but remember when I look back.
My doctor used to tell me that feeling sick was a constant reminder that baby was okay, and having suffered a previous miscarriage I did cling to that thought.
So if you're pregnant, feeling sick and waiting for it to pass perhaps you shouldn't read this... (too late?) I'm crossing my fingers for you.
And to poor dear Kate, good luck. I hope it's different for you this time, but at least you know it'll all be worth it. And you don't have to worry about your hair!