Elka Whalan is a beloved member of the North Shore Mums community, a mum herself and the founder of The Queenhood. Pregnant with her fourth child, the former Olympian showed us exactly why she’s so admired with this honest, warts-and-all account of her last weeks of pregnancy. ‘It’s time to be really real,’ she said of this open letter, which she has ‘been writing for months…and now is time.’
This is the total truth: This week I sat and indulged with two Bacon and Egg McMuffins, then waited patiently for 5 minutes for McDonalds breakfast to turn to lunch, and again lined up to place an order for two cheeseburgers, fries and a chocolate sundae…but paid an extra $1 to have chocolate sauce down the bottom too. It’s about the fourth time I’ve been to McDonalds in the last few months… something I NEVER do nor allow our children to see. I sat in the window of Ryde McDonalds, hoping no one would see me, in my new Ivy Park activewear, pretending to be slim, trim and healthy but slowly my waistline was expanding.
To look at a vegetable makes me nauseous – but thinking of oranges, carbs, pastas, creamy bacon infusions, banana smoothies, chocolate and lollies makes my heart jump with joy and my stomach add a little bit more! This is not me. I’m fit and I eat clean (yes, I confess to loving kale). I am the queen of making salads, I love my soups and lean meats, I’m all for egg white omelettes and (much to my husband’s disgust) my favourite drink is water. I exercise daily and am lighter than I’ve ever been. I invested in a brilliant personal trainer last year and after a great six months working with her I got myself into a wonderful routine where I now train outdoors by myself doing lots of different cardio, high rep, weights, and I also will sneak in a swim when I can with the under-6 trio.
I am pregnant. Number four is on its way, and this time pregnancy is so very extreme to any other time I’ve experienced. I am over-abundantly filled with feeling ordinary. I have had a record 19 vomiting encounters in one day, and the waves of morning sickness that have swept through me daily since June have been overwhelming. I have cried so much, and I’ve never found growing a human so challenging.
I am writing an open letter to any and every woman that has, or will, go through the toughest, roughest pregnancy. I’m here to say it’s OK if you’re not finding pregnancy enjoyable. I’m currently not, and this is coming from a lady who is always positive, always happy, and the cup is not full – but always overflowing! At times I have felt I have lied by just saying it’s challenging or it’s tough- trying to brighten it up- but in reality I have never cried so much, thrown up so much or felt so flat because the wave of nausea that sweeps over under and out of me is intense. I learn to take huge breaths if I’m about to vomit or dry retch. Ginger has become my best friend, ice is close second. The tiredness that sweeps through me has been so extreme. On more than nine occasions I’ve fallen asleep too tired to take my shoes off. I’ve been blessed to sleep throughout the day occasionally with the kids and almost demanded our 6 year old lay with me in the hope she would nod off too. I’ve cried so much, cancelled (or suspended!) work commitments. My favourite position has been the foetal and let’s just say my husband has been so supportive and amazing considering that making this baby is the last time he can remember the union we’ve shared…!
The complications we have had behind closed doors and the level of tiredness is nothing like the last three joyful experiences. I don’t know how many times I’ve said to my husband, “I don’t know if I can do this,” or if I’ve ever had so much confirmation that this is it- this is all my body will handle, and after four babies Team Whalan will be complete.
Being a mum is the best reward and role I’ve ever taken on – and certainly the most challenging. I’ve wanted to be a mum since the age of 14 and I always said to my group of girlfriends was that I couldn’t wait to be married and have lots of children. Attitude is everything; no matter how I feel, how I look, how I will get through the day, I know it has to be done, because seriously ladies, we are all Super Mums. We do what we can with what percentage we have; whether you’re on top of your game after a double macchiato at 100%, or a measly 7% struggling to make it out the door. Your children will rarely know the difference.
Keep speaking words over your life, keep talking to that small belly of yours that is growing; keep saying, “Thanks for making me feel so sick, thanks for letting me know all is well”. Understand the miracle it is, knowing how many women crave to feel that intense morning sickness. Understand that a life has been formed and the chances of you falling pregnant mean you are lucky, no matter how you conceived.
Be OK with pregnancy being tough if this is how you’re feeling but do embrace the changes that will take place with your body. Embrace having full round breasts, embrace your booty becoming more like Beyoncé’s, embrace thicker hair, more freckles on your skin and that chin slowly doubling. Embrace the swollen ankles for those that carry fluid retention and embrace that the 9 months ahead will come and go and your body will recover, heal and you’ll have experience, character and growth to invest into a another mother.
This has been my worst, best pregnancy. I’ve never wanted Number 4 so much and for us it’s been a journey that’s experienced bumps since August 2015; something we never experienced with the other 3, but it’s wanted and loved so much and its letting me know how severely it loves me by how much I’m feeling sick. For any woman on their last pregnancy, appreciate the tough days, express them, be honest but also find the joy so you can help another woman in those tough moments. Being real is being a friend. Being real is being truthful, being real is love. Being real is eating McDonalds in active wear. May your journey with pregnancy find moments of sweet spots and above all, the cherished prize you will hold at the end.
Congratulations to you and your body and (your husband or partner). You’re amazing.
Read more from Elka Whalan at The Queenhood.