Keeping secrets is hard. Especially when you are bursting to tell. Oliver and I had decided to keep quiet, following textbook advice. Google (the most reliable tool I have in my life just now) advised us to wait, as there are a thousand things that can go wrong or complicate matters. I chose to focus totally on work, and studying for my upcoming teaching exam in Ballet. It was easy enough to look busy and bustling at my desk, but really the thought of a baby was taking over my life. I could not concentrate on anything but that.
Another hard (and ridiculous) part of not telling is that is makes it seem less real somehow. I had many occasions where I found myself wondering had I dreamed the positive result? Could it have been there when I did the test, but now it’s disappeared? Or had I just jolly well made the whole thing up?! Another five or so empty test packets later and I felt somewhat re-assured. In hindsight, I should have made the most of this symptom-free time, as the next part was a lot more tiresome.
Our lovely new house was finally ready. We had been waiting over a year for our new-build. Luckily we chose a five bedroom, so we will have plenty of space for one more! Moving day went totally to plan. I managed to carry the lightest items, and generally directed the whole thing without having to do very much at all. Family came round to build the new bed that evening, which meant that I could busy myself making tea and fetching snacks, ensuring no one noticed that I was avoiding the carrying and lifting. I had the full week off work to get on with home making, and everything was falling nicely into place. I had a great time unpacking suitcases, finding things that I hadn’t seen in the last twelve months. We got married in August 2012, and as we were living temporarily with parents, we had packed everything away. It was so nice to re-open the wedding gifts and re-read the lovely cards and the kind messages from our guestbook. Our brand new furniture was delivered, I arranged for the blinds to be fitted, pictures were hung and the Christmas tree went up. It felt like home and having our own space was such a treat. Then I started being sick.
I returned to work (heaven knows how), and generally busied myself. Aside from bursting publicly into tears on three separate occasions, I did pretty well. Water began to taste like rusty nails, which I initially blamed on the new plumbing, until a bottle of Evian confirmed that my tastes had changed. I couldn’t eat in the work canteen as it smelled of food, and fruit was definitely off my menu. Have you noticed that the only unscented foods are bad for you? Bread, chips and plain crisps were all I could stomach. Needless to say this is the time of your life when you are most enthused to optimise your healthy eating, and yet the hardest time to do so. You aren’t supposed to drink caffeine before twelve weeks, and I couldn’t face anything scented, so it was fair to say that I wasn’t drinking very much. I would set my alarm early and Oliver would bring me some cereal in bed, as the smell of the kitchen first thing was a sure-fire vomit-trigger. For the record, my kitchen smells the same as the rest of the house, apparently. I would get up very slowly, get ready, be sick, re-brush my teeth, and off to work I would go. I had accommodated sickness into my morning routine. Granted, I was exhausted constantly, longing for naps at work, and getting straight into pyjamas as soon as I got home. But I managed.
The trigger of strong smells and resulting sickness did get worse though, and I did end up with a fair few sick days on my work record. I ended up having to tell my manager our news. She was so kind, and more than understanding. She reassured me not to worry about how much time I took as sick, and over Christmas helped me to arrange ‘emergency holiday’ for three weeks, so I didn’t have to come in at all. I loved emergency holiday. I had such a great time sleeping ten hours at night, keeping up with Philip Schofield and the rest of daytime television. The rest of the time I spent napping and going for little walks (and spends) around the shopping centre. There was also quite a bit of crying. Why was I crying?! I was anything but unhappy. And I did have more baths and cupcakes than is normal.
By some miracle, the day of my Ballet exam was one of the rare days when I was symptom-less. It is actually a miracle I managed to get into that leotard and skirt; three weeks of carbohydrates had taken its toll. I did expect to have passed, but found myself wishing I had taken it earlier in the year, when I didn’t have the distraction of a baby on my mind. We still hadn’t told anyone, but it became obvious that we had no choice with Christmas coming up. I didn’t want people guessing, and I definitely didn’t want family to be concerned if I didn’t seem very well. I had people commenting that I was ‘glowing’. This was supposed to be a compliment, but I found myself holding back snotty replies of “you try being sick all morning, you will probably glow too”. They probably meant that I was sweating, an unflattering habit I seem to have developed recently. I have also started burping, but the less said about that, the better. The week before Christmas seemed like a sensible idea, and we arranged for both families to visit us that week. They were all delighted. Some were stunned into silence, others squealed. It was unexpected for all of them! Both families started talking about names for the baby, whether they think it’s a boy or a girl, and what they want to be called in their new roles of Aunts, Uncles and (Great) Grandparents. Suddenly everything became a whole lot more exciting as we had shared the news. We made everyone promise to keep it a secret until the twelve-week scan and the news that all was OK.
I am writing this at fifteen weeks, and it seems that they found the secret keeping very hard indeed. It was only recently revealed that between them, they had told eleven people, being totally unable to keep it in. Also, I did pass my exam and actually I got the highest mark in the whole dance school, another miracle!