On 17th February 2019, a new little friend is going to be joining me and my partner.
Earlier this year, my husband-to-be and I travelled to Bali and Singapore (you might have read my previous blogs already) and it really was the most enlightening experience of my life. Not just because of the memories that we made, but because we brought back the best holiday memento ever, in the form of the little peanut that has been growing in my belly for the last 12 weeks.
I didn’t know how honest to be in this blog about our conception and pregnancy journey so far, but I do get a kick out of telling the most real and personal stories, from the heart, so here it goes, completely unedited (as always).
When we visited Indonesia, we’d been trying to conceive for just under a year. We had been relatively laid-back about it for that year – I hadn’t insisted my partner jumped on me at a particular time in the month and I had tried to not get too obsessed with fertility apps (this is easier said than done). I knew lots of people who had conceived during holiday and travel, including my own mother who after relentlessly trying to get pregnant, went to Barbados with my dad 30 years ago and *ding*, I decided to come along, and my mum conceived in the heat of the relaxing Caribbean sun.
As a real mini-me of my own mother, I knew that I would follow suit. Over the last few months, I’d been deep in spiritual teachings, including those of Gabby Bernstein (author of The Universe Has Got Your Back) who I have blogged about before. I had developed a new way of thinking, a new way of living. I knew that the universe had my back, I knew that I was ready to have a baby, and I knew that if I believed in it, God would make it so. Before I went away, a similar-minded spiritual friend bought me a moonstone (which aided fertility) and told me she believed this was going to happen for me whilst we were away in Bali. (Obviously, when I returned she was also the first person to instantly guess I was pregnant before I had even said anything.)
But my positive train-of-thought was soon challenged when I was told by my doctor not to have any unprotected sex whilst away, or for six months after returning, because the zika virus (a disease spread by some mosquitoes) can be present in a handful of countries and can – in rare cases – effect how the head grows in a growing foetus if you get bitten and are pregnant or about to get pregnant.
As someone that has previously suffered from quite extreme health anxiety, years ago (pre-CBT) this would have sent me into a downward spiral of anxiety and worry. When I reached out to the internet for advice, I couldn’t find any solid, reliable figures on just how many people the zika virus actually effected in the UK and abroad. All I found was endless forums, of distressed women trying to conceive, saying that they had cancelled their holidays and/or had found themselves in deep anxiety and confusion about this concern.
I am a huge believer in fate and faith. I think challenges are sent to us for a reason. I think we are one world and I think that I am very lucky to be able to travel across it. I decided to put my faith and focus in the mothers of these countries. If, us British folk, are being told to not have unprotected sex in these countries, well, what about all the millions of females in these places who do continue to pro-create and have healthy families? Is every single Mexican, Indonesian and Caribbean woman also being told not to have unprotected sex? No, of course not.
I didn’t want to undermine or belittle our amazing health system in the UK, for which I am eternally grateful, and I wasn’t denying the fact that this could happen to someone, but personally I had to take this information lightly, and put my foot down about letting it effect my mental health. I’ve been in dark places before where I’ve worried about the risks of everything and I didn’t want to return there. Of course we have to be healthy and safe, to know the risks, but we can also drive ourselves insane worrying about the bad things that could happen. We have to continue living our lives, worry-free.
I read up on zika as much as I could, on every single reliable website I could find on the internet. I bought mosquito spray. Then I took a deep breath, and relaxed. I said to myself: as someone who is healthy, who doesn’t have any underlying health issues, doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink, exercises, is not overweight, is relatively young (and the same can be said for my partner)… I am not going to let the fact that I am going on holiday ruin this journey for me. I am going to conceive and I know everything is going to be OK.
I wanted to share this particular element of my conception for anyone out there who is worrying about a similar thing. The actual presence and likely threat of the zika virus in recent years is very difficult to measure, information about how much of a risk this actually is, is not easy to define or find, and a lot of women from the UK, from what I can see online, are getting very worried about the risk. For me personally, I believed that the potential negative effects on my body and mind as a result of a health anxiety, was the biggest concern, and I was not going to let that concern arouse. You’ll know what the best thing to do is for you, too. Now, I am so glad that I had all of these pre-conception-zika-conversations… they just reminded me of how much I valued a positive and realistic mental attitude, something I have now been able to take forward into my pregnancy – I am sure it will do me and my baby so much good.
So. There we were. Having the best time of our lives, travelling across Bali (incidentally surrounded by hundreds of healthy and happy pregnant women).
During the full moon, we visited one of Bali’s most sacred temples, Tirta Empul – a water temple at which you are cleansed and blessed by holy water (pictured). We got there early in the morning when no-one was around, and me and my partner prayed together in the water. We wished for new life. We did the same thing together that night in the sea, under the glow of a completely circular moon. Looking back with a relatively good understanding of mathematics and a very good understanding of my own menstrual cycle timing, I know this would have been the time I conceived, give or take a day or two. A full moon, temple-made baby!
The Balinese celebrate the full moon with gorgeous festivities and ceremonies which are weeks in the planning – it’s a beautiful place to be at this time of the month, to witness these sacred celebrations. I observed their practices, saw where they placed their energies and focuses. They weren’t fretting over risks and diseases, they were dancing together under the light of the full moon, praying to the spirits for strength through any potential challenges. Like the people of Bali, during this holiday I was able to learn how to choose peace over anxiety, belief over worry, celebration over information. This was another gift that I would take home – a new mindset, a zero tolerance towards anxiety.
The rest of our trip was incredible. We trekked through rice fields, played in waterfalls, drank from coconuts, meditated on empty beaches. We enjoyed our time in what I found to be the most magical place on earth, the most memorable experience of my life.
Four days after we returned, I knew that something exciting had arrived. I went to the supermarket, bought a few tests and (despite being a few days before my next period was actually due)… all of the tests came back positive. I fell to my knees in the bathroom and thanked the Balinese Gods. I knew this would happen, I knew it was my destiny.
Fast forward to today. The last 12 weeks have been amazing – I’ve been very tired and at times quite emotional but otherwise, I have been one of those lucky people who hasn’t experienced spotting, morning sickness or any other unwelcome symptoms. This new considerate life inside me is treating me pretty well and is really bedding down for the long haul. I’ve got a big bump already, so much so that four weeks before our big day, I’ve had to source a new wedding dress! Many people have responded to this by telling me that “you can’t possibly have a bump already” – well, let me tell you something (and this applies not just to pregnant ladies)… all women are different and all of our bodies respond differently to external and internal factors. 3.7 billion of us across the globe and not one body identical. Crazy and beautiful, right?!
Last week, at our first routine scan, we met our peanut – a healthy, happy, perfectly-sized little bean. Confirmation that I conceived during the full moon, our new gift is due to arrive one day before a full moon too, 17th February 2019. In the meantime, I plan to spend the next six months continuing a positive and mindful attitude.
We are so very lucky here in Britain – I’ve received brilliant, free health-care, support and advice, without which I’d been well and truly fucked. But, as I mentioned before, information can sometimes be a burden, as well as a gift. Mums-to-be are inundated with leaflets about all the bad things that can happen (in theory that’s what scans are for, to detect any possible problems) so it’s important now for me to stay realistic, sane, calm, focused and hopeful, to ensure my body is a happy and relaxed environment for my new life. I had faith before and I still have it now.
Every single new mum is different, and will know what is right for them. My commitment to remaining free from worry (despite risk warnings) is important because of previous times in my life when I have witnessed worry take over completely. And worry can effect your body in ways that you cannot even imagine.
Despite being constantly told about all the things that could go wrong, all the things I cannot do (don’t go near cat poo, don’t eat too much fish, make sure you thoroughly wash your vegetables, don’t dye your hair) – it is vital that I keep optimistic and anxiety-free, for the sake of the Bali baby growing inside my belly. I know that avoiding alcohol and un-cooked meat is important, yes, but so is maintaining positive mental health, which undoubtedly has an effect on the physical, too. It’s a shame that sometimes we don’t focus on the mental health as much as the physical health. It’s a shame that we don’t acknowledge the sheer power of continued anxiety and worry, which in my eyes could be just as (if not more) damaging than a potentially risky mosquito bite.
Every morning, I now spend a few minutes at a self-made alter in the room that will be our nursery – I thank the Gods for this gift, I thank my partner for his support and energy, and I visualise the healthy new life that will be joining us in 2019. I re-energise, I re-find my faith. I remember my destiny.
Like the people of Bali, all I am doing right now is smiling, praying, loving and living… and of course, getting ready for my own full moon celebration.