Guest Post from Louise Hamilton, Author of Mummy Diaries: Pregnancy - Stumbling into the Unknown

I was asked by Blissful Bambino to do a blog post about my book, and why I wrote it. It sounds silly but I instantly got writers block. Why did I write my book? 

Well, I know I had a tough time during my pregnancy, and in the early stages getting it all down on paper was a great way to organise my thoughts, and come to terms with the idea of becoming a mum. Then it became habit, a comfort, a therapy, a friend. Now you’re all probably rolling your eyes ‘A friend? In a diary?!  She must have been a real loner!’ and you’d be completely wrong. I have so many friends who were there for me, but I felt an overwhelming sense of loneliness as I was the only one of my group of friends who had fallen pregnant. I felt like no one truly understood what I was going through. Also the future of my relationship was uncertain. The pregnancy itself was unexpected, it was unplanned and even though I’d been with my partner Luke 2 1/2 years we didn’t feel ready for this life-changing news. Luke and I lived separately, and since finding out I was pregnant, he was behaving like an ostrich with his head in the sand – refusing to even acknowledge the pregnancy ‘situation’.  

I felt like I was in a crowded room screaming and no-one noticed.  Everyone was just busy getting on with their own lives and although they were there for me as much as a friend can be, there were days and evenings of stabbing loneliness. I didn’t want to put all of my problems onto my friends, so I discovered the Babycentre website and chatted to complete strangers who were going through similar stresses. 

The trigger to discovering the online chat rooms, which formed the foundations of my book, was a threatened miscarriage I had when I was about 7 weeks pregnant. I have never been so scared or been in so much pain in my life, I was bleeding excessively and after a hospital trip I was ordered complete bed rest. It was an agonising 2 days before I could get up and walk about. I had a scan which confirmed baby was alive, and until I gave birth 6 months later I never really fully relaxed. 

Basically, I had a pretty rubbish time of pregnancy, my partner was as much emotional support as a toothbrush, and I was the first of my friends stumbling into the unknown that is motherhood. I was scared, didn’t know what to expect, my body and relationships were changing - although I was in denial about it I was drifting away from my friends. 

I was a hormonal and emotional mess, and none of the baby books I had read mentioned anything about things like: excessive discharge, leg spasms, intense nightmares, chubby lady area, crusty nipples – GIANT nipples, boobs so veiny that they resemble a road map, hot sweats, weeing when you laugh, cough or sneeze – or just for no reason.. (All thoroughly unattractive). Pregnancy as a whole is completely unknown territory – it feels like every day you wake up with a new pregnancy symptom or ailment. Having your whole body taken over – you’re growing an entire new human being from scratch - is amazing, so each new symptom, movement, the sheer size of your swollen belly and the fact you can’t see your feet or reach them to even put socks on is all unexpected to someone who has never been pregnant before!

So, my diary was full to the brim with my scribbles – how did it turn into a book?

Well, I used to read extracts of my diary to my friends and depending what the extract was about it would physically affect them. They would giggle, or hug me then leave the room to have a cry.  It was only when reading about one particularly amusing incident with a girl inappropriately groping my pregnant bump in a bar, and I responded to this weird gropey girl by grabbing her sizable breasts, that one of my friends (after spitting out her mouthful of tea) said I should type it out properly for others to read. I didn’t think anyone would be interested in my scribbles but it appears people are!

The most challenging part of the book-writing process was converting my jumbled scribbles into a readable and professionally laid out book!  Another challenge was opening up completely. My book is an honest account and was written from my original diary so I had to be 100% honest with many a topic which I felt should be kept private. I had to learn to wear my heart on my sleeve and learn also, that nothing was out-of-bounds. Reading my book back, the honesty really adds a true connection to the reader and I am really happy with it. There is nothing like this book out at the moment and I really feel it could help so many; I now just need a bigger audience! 

Another challenging aspect is dealing with criticism. Being so honest and making my story available to the public was always going to invite the general public to pass judgement on my life. Luckily on the whole my book has been well received - I currently have TWENTY THREE 5-Star reviews on Amazon, but there is 1x1 Star and 1x2 Star reviews which hit me hard – I wrote
blog post about this last week on my blog with the title “Bad reviews = Bad sma-shmoooos!”. 

My daughter Jennifer has just turned 3, so my pregnancy ended quite a while ago. My life has changed dramatically since Jenny was born, I am a mother and a completely different person with different priorities. Luke and I lived separately for over a year. Finally the penny dropped for him after a series of events around Jenny's first birthday, and since then he decided to care less about what his parents thought and more about own his little family.  In the last 18 months we have bought a house together, got engaged and are planning our wedding for May 2014. I couldn't be happier, it's true that good things come to those who wait!

I am busy writing my second book which is all about what happens after the birth, written with the same honesty as the first.  I am up to baby's first year fully written but I may carry on through to Jenny starting pre-school as I feel it will make a much better, well rounded book. 

My first book is available in ebook format on Kindle, Kobo and iBooks. It is on offer throughout May on Kindle for only 77p so grab it while it’s cheap!
I also love connecting with my readers:
Twitter: @Mummy_Diaries 

Thanks for reading,

Lou xxx

Author of 'Mummy Diaries: Pregnancy - Stumbling into the Unknown'