My latest life update: I’m halfway through my pregnancy. Yep, Sawiya is going to be a mama in 2021. It’s not something I wanted to announce in my first trimester, for obvious reasons. But as a writer, I want to have a journal to look back on and make sure I get some posts in while I’m on this new journey. Let’s be real, it’s a life-changing situation, and soon, I will have a little human by my side who will be calling me “mama”… Oh my God.

We all know how tough this year has been and collectively, we all feel it. So, to be pregnant at a time when there’s a pandemic? Forget about it. It’s a blessing, of course. But being pregnant for the first time in my life has been a bit of a ride. I want to touch base on a few things about pregnancy and the experience of it all.

For those who knew that I’m expecting, I got the same old questions. “Any morning sickness?”

By the mercy of Allah and I thank Him truly, I’m that pregnant woman who didn’t suffer from nausea and excessive vomiting. In fact, my first trimester was a breeze, alhamdulillah. I wasn’t put off any foods and I still ate everything that I used to eat. I wouldn’t say I have any cravings either. Probably cranberry juice with ice. That hits multiple spots.

My relationship with food is quite the opposite for me. I’m not eating as much as I need to and I get full very quickly. At times, it’s really hard to finish a plate of food. Now a lot of people will think that I’m one of the lucky ones for skipping the “morning sickness” phase completely and I’m grateful for it. Feeling nauseous could actually be in the top 10 worst feelings ever, personally. However, because the pregnancy almost felt too easy physically, it did affect me mentally.

I’m now halfway and my bump is quite visible. Every time I look in the mirror, I’m completely shocked and the realisation hits once again. The same goes for when I’m showering, putting on clothes, etc. I’m still trying to accept that I’m pregnant and that I will be someone’s parent. Who… me??????

For the last few months I found myself feeling quite numb, and as much as I’m happy to have my own bundle of cuteness – it’s also a trippy feeling. Is this because 2020 has already hit us with things we’re not used to? It’s been a mad year. Am I still on autopilot and coasting through each day, each month? I always have to ask myself, when is this going to sink in?

How is there a baby growing inside of me? That question pops up in my mind every single day, followed by loads of other thoughts and reminders such as:

The anxiety over giving birth has taken over my life.

Each day that goes by, I’m closer to giving birth. And this part may sound weird to you, but I’ve now developed a weird obsession: watching birth videos. Constantly. The show “One Born Every Minute” is also a shout. I love watching it. You’d think watching videos would scare me away, but it doesn’t at all. In fact, I’m trying to prepare myself as much as possible. I’ve watched countless YouTube videos of women giving birth during this pandemic – that’s also something I need to know about.

I don’t like to walk into anything with a blindfold on. I need to know what I’m getting myself into and accept it. Yes, I’ve watched the graphic videos too and didn’t look away once. In a very weird way, I find it interesting and quite… therapeutic, especially when the baby is finally out. It’s like, finally. I find myself letting out a sigh of relief when that happens. Watching the mother cry tears of joy and describing it as a moment you’ll never forget makes it all better. I’m starting to see labour as a journey. There’s an end result and the pain you feel during contractions are like waves that eventually pass. Women were made to do this and I will also get through it, God willing.

I’ve lost motivation to do anything.

After being made redundant in the summer, I decided to go down the freelance route and it was going very well in the beginning. But that “high” soon came crashing down. I’ve completely stopped and lost the motivation to continue working. My body was just telling me to rest, and I listened to myself. But it was hard because as much as we hate working (capitalism sucks), there’s also this pressure to be successful and “busy”.

During these times, I remember emailing two different people and telling them I couldn’t finish the job and that I was mentally out of it. That, in itself, was probably the hardest thing I had to do. I almost felt ashamed. I’m now coming to terms with it and I’m glad I allowed myself to take a breather. I need it because I’m constantly out of breath now!

This is a funny one. Of course, there will be things that I need to cut down or essentially – stop altogether. In terms of food, there were a lot of things I had to avoid. For example, raw foods such as sushi (I hate it anyway), caffeine (not really a coffee person), certain cheeses, raw eggs (that means no cake batter or chocolate mousse), and the obvious ones like alcohol and drugs, which isn’t something I need to worry about.

But, let me tell you – I almost had a mental breakdown when I had to avoid things like having hot baths and using certain bath bombs. I was in the mood to relax one evening and my sister had bath salts that help relax your muscles. So I filled up the bath with hot water and for some reason, something told me to read the back of the packet. It was God, I’m telling you. My jaw dropped when I read: “Do not use if you are pregnant.” There I was, standing in the bathroom looking at water filled to the top with nothing to put in it. With rage filling up inside of me, I ran to google to try and understand why I couldn’t add these bath salts to my already-filled bathtub. And to my surprise, even taking a hot bath can be a bit risky. Along with sitting in a sauna. During pregnancy, it’s best to avoid raising your body temperature which might reduce blood flow to the baby. As for bath salts, they contain high minerals that can lead to an increased heart rate.

So that’s essentially when I realised it’s not just about avoiding certain foods etc, it’s almost like a complete lifestyle change for 9 months. I had to drop Chloe Ting’s exercises (goodbye to that flat tummy!) because it just seemed a bit too rigorous. Instead, swimming and taking walks are recommended. There are also light exercises and yoga for pregnant women that I could consider instead. I had to stop myself from carrying anything too heavy or even bend down too much. Honestly, the amount of times I’m reminded that I’m pregnant is laughable. No judging please, I’m literally learning on the job here. I did have a little surprise the other day when I sneezed a bit too hard and it physically hurt my stomach. So that’s a new one.

So before finding out I was pregnant, I got the cutest birthday present – a new kitty! My beautiful Milo. He definitely gave me some sort of joy during lockdown, but here’s the thing though. Cat litter is pretty toxic and contains bacteria that’s not suitable for pregnant women to deal with. I’m GOOD with the fact that I no longer have the responsibility to change my cat’s poop, like – please feel free to do so. But my mother advised me to let her keep him for a few months. So yes, she now has my cat until further notice, and I have a feeling she’s way more attached to him than I am. Bless her soul.

So I feel like I’m carrying a boy

Is this a thing? Is a mother’s intuition always right? I find out the gender of my child in a couple of days but for some reason, I genuinely believe it’s a boy. It’s a feeling, and every time I envision all the cute outfits and what to buy – it’s for baby boys. Someone did tell me that I look like a ‘boy’s mum’ and it makes sense to me aswell. My mother always refers to the baby as her “grandson” and I asked her why she always says that. “It’s coming out of my mouth naturally, maybe it is a boy.” How funny would it be if it was a girl? No hard feelings, I’d love my child all the same but I will need to reset my brain and think about having a whole daughter instead! To all my fellow friends who are mamas, did you guess the gender correctly?

By next week I could have a ton of new symptoms that I’ve never had before. It’s a journey and I’m ready to ride through it. Time to brace myself for the second half of pregnancy.