“You’re glowing!” – The glamours (or not) of pregnancy

Don’t get me wrong, nobody could be more chuffed or proud to be pregnant and carrying a precious child than I am. However, as much as I anticipated breezing through nine months of growing a small human with all the grace of a true Earth Mother, what I resemble now is closer to a very ungainly hippopotamus. Don’t let anyone kid you that being pregnant is glamorous!

I had visions of keeping up running and swimming and gym-ing throughout like one of those super-mums who is still doing events up until her due date. It was never going to happen! I couldn’t make it through the first five minutes of breathing in my regular Pilates class without rushing to the bathroom to dispense of my breakfast. My nether regions couldn’t even look at a bike saddle without flinching and simply walking up a flight of stairs had me puffing like a tank engine. My fitness regime, therefore, is made up of waddling around the golf course and wallowing in the pool.

Living on a paradise island certainly has its perks – I’m usually the last person to complain about being posted to Barbados! Not so much when the temperature hits 36C with a relative humidity of 70%. It is all I can do not to retort with an extremely sarcastic “No s***!” when well meaning greeters inform me that I am glowing. You would be too if you had a radiator strapped to your belly, you were producing 40% more blood than usual and your body temperature was no longer sitting comfortably at 37C! It is all I can do to move from the air conditioned living room to the pool without breaking into a sweat which takes armpit rings and under-boob splotches to a whole new level. I may well be glowing, but that’s mostly because I’m on the brink of spontaneous combustion!

Mosquitoes love pregnant women. Apparently we release various hormones that are particularly attractive to the little suckers. Ironic, and not a little alarming with dengue fever being at an all-time high on the island, considering deet and other repellents are a no-no if you’re preggers. Instead, I find myself working steadily through bottles of “organic” spray, the effects of which last fifteen minutes at best and which seem, at times, to attract rather than repel the biting buggers! Add to this the fact that if you get zapped on the ankles, which is highly likely, you can’t bend down far enough to scratch the itch.

Which brings me to my next point – personal grooming. Without going into too much detail, it is probably enough to say that there are various parts of my anatomy which I have neither seen nor reached in rather a while, and am thus living entirely on trust that my lovely beautician Natasha has taken care of all that needs to be taken care of, given that swimsuits are my apparel of choice these (hot) days. The trust also extends as far as my long suffering husband, who had been put on bikini duty more times than he would care to remember. My toes are in dire need of a touch up and my cankles put the sturdiest tree trunks to shame. It’s not a pretty situation.

With all that said, when I catch myself in the mirror and see the beautiful bump that is our baby, or glance down as the little one kicks ripples across my belly, I cannot help but beam both inside and out. And I know that the glow really does come from within – from this little treasure growing and getting ready to greet the world. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Swallowed the Breadfruit

There is a saying in Barbados when a woman falls pregnant – they say she has “swallowed the breadfruit”! As you can probably envisage, a breadfruit is a large, round fruit that looks something like a melon. My husband and I first heard this expression when we announced our pregnancy to some local friends, who first exclaimed, “Oh-oh-oh, so you caught da calypso fevah?!”, closely followed by “Excellent! You swallowed the breadfruit…”. After our blushes died down, we were so chuffed by their warm and generous response to our news.
It didn’t take us long after we moved to the island to realize that starting a family here would be ideal. For permit reasons, I can’t work, and so have really been blessed with time to spend at home, presently as a wife and soon as a mother. The climate promotes a healthy outdoor lifestyle, family values are still integral to the running of society on the island, and there is a very special expat and local network of mums and families to lean on and call on with family far away.
Medically, the treatment has been world-class and I have every confidence in my OBGYN and his team. His laid back, Caribbean mindset is a perfect foil to my rather anxious A-type personality, but when there is an emergency or something that needs to be addressed urgently he actions it immediately and expertly.

With 100 days to go until our due date, I look around and am so thankful to be carrying a (so far) healthy babe who will be welcomed onto this beautiful island, where the first few years of his or her life will be sun drenched, full of love and adventure.

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By way of introduction

“So, you’re going to have a Bajan baby!”

Positive pregnancy test confirmed. And so began the most exciting journey of our lives.

 My husband and I had been not not trying for a baby for a relatively short time before I fell pregnant, so as much as it was a huge celebration and relief it was also a little bit of a shock as we hadn’t expected it to happen quite so quickly. We had arrived in Barbados from London (where we had been based after leaving South Africa to work and travel in 2007) on an expat assignment only 3 months previously and had a whole lot of settling in, adjusting and exploring to do still. But what better way to do those things than with the knowledge that a whole new little person was on his or her way?

The idea to start this blog came after my aunt asked me to blog for her website, http://www.motherlylove.co.uk, sharing my experiences of an island pregnancy. The first few posts will be what I wrote for her. I have found that after my pregnancy I still have a lot to say and share, if only to clear my own mind but hopefully also to connect with other mums and mums-to-be (or even dads, or anyone with an interest in parenting in paradise). This blog is a platform for me to put my thoughts into writing and to document my own journey as a mother.