In the first few months of my pregnancy I became almost convinced that I wasn’t actually pregnant with a human baby.
Since finding myself to be unexpectedly pregnant my mental health was rather unstable and my grip on reality became a bit precarious. I was adamant that becoming pregnant was somehow a punishment for all the things that I’d done wrong in my life; an idea only strengthened by the fact that even though I took the morning after pill within half an hour I still became pregnant.
It’s not that I actually considered children and babies as being created to punish their parents and The Northern One and I always said that we wanted children but that fact provided precious little comfort when I found myself holding a positive pregnancy test and the bottom fell out of my world.
In addition to my worsening mental health issues I was also throwing up multiple times a day, feeling nauseous the whole time I was awake and the list of smells that I couldn’t bear was growing by the day. I didn’t truly believe that I had somehow been impregnated by something that wasn’t human but whatever was in there was definitely not a baby and as far as I was concerned nothing that made me feel as sick, as scared and as desperate as I felt could possibly be human.
Certain strong smells could literally knock me to the floor and I still remember opening the fridge only to be hit by the smell of the chicken tikka skewers that the Northern One had bought earlier in the day. I practically fell over him in my bid to escape from the disgusting, vomit-inducing smell emanating from something that I’d previously enjoyed and spent the next half an hour hanging over the toilet.
I think if I hadn’t experienced the constant, debilitating nausea I might have found it easier to adjust to being pregnant.
The 12 week scan only served to make the conviction that I was pregnant with an alien worse.
I didn’t actually look at the monitor screen throughout the scan but the sonographer printed some of the pictures for me to take away with me and look at when I was ready. At first I hid the envelope in my sock drawer but after about a week curiosity got the better of me.
I’d been having a day where I felt reasonably sane and stable and so I decided to get the scan pictures out. I don’t think I even managed to look through all of them before I stuffed them back into the envelope, shoved them back under a pile of socks and ran downstairs.
I knew what ultrasound pictures were supposed to look like; I’d seen enough of them at nursing school and at work and I knew that early scans didn’t bear an awful lot of resemblance to the squidgy pink bundles that eventually arrive. I knew that the dark blobs that resembled huge, elongated eyes were actually the hemispheres of the brain but all medical experience and knowledge didn’t make a scrap of difference.
A few weeks when I saw the mental health nurse and tried to explain my fears to her, I saw the look of concern that crossed her face before she managed to disguise it. In that moment I seriously wondered whether I was losing my mind.
Eventually, as I began to feel a bit less sick and managed to claw back some control over my mental health I became less and less convinced that I was pregnant with an alien. I still couldn’t fathom that there was a baby in there but at least I’d stopped dreaming about scrawny creatures with grey skin, dangling limbs and enormous eyes.
I did not find it easy to accept my pregnancy and I never actually managed to welcome this baby in my body or feel any sort of pleasure at having conceived. I far as I was concerned my body had been invaded by another being that relied on me to be able to live and yet thanked me by making me ill, causing me pain and taking over my mind.
There were many dark days when the only thing that got me through was the knowledge that I could not be pregnant forever. My due date may still have been weeks or months away but I was safe in the knowledge that one day my pregnancy would have to end.
When Squidge was born I struggled to accept that he was mine and I found it really difficult to bond with him. I’m certain that these issues stemmed from the fear that I felt throughout my pregnancy; the utter conviction that something was terribly wrong.
My memories of being pregnant have dimmed over the past year. I suppose it’s my minds way of trying to ensure that Squidge doesn’t end up being an only child, in the same way that I can’t properly recall the pain of childbirth.
What I do remember is utterly terrifying, to the that I’m not sure if I’d cope with becoming pregnant again, even if it was planned.