Ahhhh that pregnancy glow, the joy, the beauty....blah, blah, blah. When you are on holidays and half way or more through a pregnancy, all of that pregnancy magic seems to fade away and is replaced by discomfort, struggle and stress. Of course I am being a tad dramatic, I mean I am pregnant what do you expect, but it is true when I say nothing will push you further to breaking point over the course of a pregnancy quite like a summer holiday.
I've just returned back to reality after two weeks away and while I miss the ocean, the endless sunny days, the eating out and the family time, I am also relieved to be back home. I discovered a stack of challenges over the last two weeks which I think I was a little unprepared for. Here are my tips for other mama's-to-be out there on surviving all that comes with a holiday while carrying a watermelon in your belly...
Feel Ugly and Do It Anyway
I have never, I repeat, never felt so low on my appearance as I did during this holiday. What is nuts though is that I have also never felt more beautiful. Figure that one out?!? I spent the majority of my time away with wild frizzy hair, scatterings of new freckles, bloating and cellulite plaguing my every moment and robbing me of my peace of mind yet on the flip side I had moments walking down the beach with my bump and rounder than usual butt bouncing away where I felt gorgeous, natural, free and completely in love with my femininity. The wild extremes make no sense but they existed none the less and what I learned was, similar to "feel the fear and do it anyway" was "feel ugly and do it anyway". A few days into the break I vowed to myself that no matter how I felt about my appearance, I would not let it stop me doing a single thing! I went out for dinner covered in ocean salt, with a weird half assed top knot, not a scratch of makeup on and some very ill fitting clothing and guess what, I enjoyed myself. I jumped in the ocean despite having just styled my hair for the first time 7 days into the trip and didn't think twice about all the wasted effort. I felt my thighs rubbing together as I waddled past groups of fit, toned, amazing bodied humans and I didn't care or compare. I am not going to lie and say I didn't feel uncomfortable a lot of the time but I didn't let it stop me doing a single thing I wanted to do. I did it all anyway and it was oh so good for my soul.
I felt ugly, in the superficial sense of the word, but I went on living anyway. I don't mean ugly in a deep sense, I don't see myself that way and no body should. We are all beautiful, but our confidence can be so tied to the surface there is something ultimately liberating about losing this surface confidence and digging deep for the real confidence underneath. That is where the beauty really is.
Zinc, Hats, Umbrellas, Water
Pregnancy hormones = pigmentation. No matter how vigilant you are in applying sun cream, you will still find yourself collecting freckles and uneven colouring over a two week summer holiday. I always freckle a little but during pregnancy it is much more extreme and I was extra careful in the sun but still not careful enough. Go hard on the zinc and find shade where ever and whenever possible. Take an umbrella, take a hat. Your skin is extra delicate at this time so treat it like royalty, protect it and nuture it with lots of water.
Embrace The Loneliness
You are the only one who can feel bubs on the inside, the only one who needs to pee every 5 minutes, who can't have a wine to relax, who feels heavy and uncomfortable and out of sorts. Your friends, other children, family and partner might be able to hold your hand but ultimately this is your experience and it is hard. The pangs of loneliness I felt over my Christmas break were profound. My advice is to feel it, let it overwhelm you, cry. You are growing a life. That is monumental. You are a super star.
Nothing great ever comes easily and pregnancy and child birth are the best example of this. It is ok to hate the struggle, to wish you weren't pregnant all the while loving your bump and the child growing inside of you. It isn't a walk in the park and you can absolutely, 100% lose your shit and the people around you should absolutely respect that. It's ok to fall apart, it isn't weak and it isn't your god damn hormones as some people will try to reduce it to! You are not insane or out of your mind, you are simply doing the toughest (and most sacred, beautiful and amazing) job in the world. You got this, even when it hurts and even when it's hard, you are stronger than you know mama. Embrace the fact this is a solo journey, the loneliness might hurt but it is also a gift to know that the unbreakable cord which ties you and your growing baby together is yours and yours alone and that is truly the most divine thing you can ever experience.
Load Up On Products
I went through so much moisturizer and body oil in two weeks I don't think I will ever have dry skin again in my life...ok not really, my skin is so dry from these pregnancy hormones I have mostly accepted being a scaly lizard for the next 4 months! I cannot recommend body oil to prevent stretch marks enough. I didn't gain a single one with my first pregnancy and I plan on repeating this the second time around by covering my belly and hips in oil 4-5 times a day. It is annoying but my god does it pay off! I like bio oil, trilogy oil and have just been recommended Stratamark for stretch marks which I have ordered, apparently it is the goods!
Take A Few Good Books
While most of the world seems to be drinking, partying and socializing, all you will want to do is a whole lot of sweet nothing. Fill the time and the nights with words - it was the very best thing I could do for myself during moments of loneliness. I am obsessed with Autobiographies and took with me Lily Allen's book, Michelle Obama's book and Roxy Jacenco's tips and tricks. A good book is the very best friend you can have when it feels as though you on a journey all alone while the rest of the world carries on with itself.
Pack For Your Current Body, Not Your Old Body
Hosting Christmas day for the first time was fun but my god did it throw me off my packing game on boxing day. I usually LOVE packing but this year I woke up to a messy house and focused on sorting that out instead of packing properly. I threw a bunch of things in my suitcase, most being fail-proof-go-to-coast outfits from seasons past and but guess what? I am no longer a size 6-8, my boobs have doubled in size, my belly doesn't work with mid-waist anything and none of my underwear fits. How I managed to forget this, I don't know but I arrived at my coast house with literally 2 things which remotely fit and even then I felt horrible in. My chest wouldn't stay in my swimsuits. My legs wouldn't fit in my shorts. It was a disaster.
Be real with yourself and shift the mentality from "this always works" to "hang on, let's check if this works now and will work for the 2 kilos I am likely to gain over the next 2 weeks". Pack for your body as it is now and allow some generosity in size for growth. It’s amazing how much bigger my bump grew over just 14 days! Opt for flowy, stretchy, kind and comfortable clothing, you will not want anything else no matter how "cute" it is. Be practical and if you want to have some style fun, do so with accessories because no amount of baby bump can get in the way of those!
Take Water & Snacks EVERYWHERE
My little family live for the beach. My boys surf and, while I hung up my overly ambitious surfing boots (is that a thing) years ago, I could happily swim in the ocean and lay on the beach all day. I used to enjoy waking up, having a coffee and worrying about breakfast at lunch time if it meant catching a beach sunrise but this time around, no mam. I was starving! I needed a big breakfast before leaving the house and needed to ensure I had food on hand for approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes later when I would be starving again. I learned the hard way that heading out for a few hours without water and snacks was highly emotionally irresponsible (sorry to all those that were near me in these moments, especially that lady at the bakery who “stole my spot in the line”...you were totally in the right, my bad!) My positive mood would shift to cranky and tired faster than I could order a sausage McMuffin at the drive through. Be prepared. Food and water, in abundance, are key!
Treat yourself as your mother or friend would. Leave the negative language at the door. Book a massage. Take a long walk. Go gentle. You don't owe anyone anything at this time in your life, this 9 months is about you so take the pressure off. You and baby come first, so look inward and stop worrying about what is going on around you. For 9 short months an entire world exists within you, what a special and spectacular privilege to be able to see the world back to front like this, for what is going on inside to mean more than what is going on anywhere else. Enjoy it.