31 Weeks

31-weeks-pregnant

I'm 31 weeks today! There’s definitely something about passing the 30-week mark that makes you think that from now on, EVERYTHING has to be about the baby. I’m sure this is also because I’m now on maternity leave, so I’ve got very little in the way of day-job-work to distract me. Anyway, being 31 weeks has suddenly got me all in a flap about the fact that the baby will be full-term and therefore may be born at any time in only SIX WEEKS. Squeak!

Everyone I’ve spoken to has said that first-time babies are always born late, so I had almost resigned myself to not having Chip until September. But then I googled it and discovered that statistically first-time babies are as likely to be early as they are late, so that’s a load of nonsense. Also, with my placenta issue, if I haven’t had him/her by 41 weeks they will induce me, which means that he/she will definitely be born by 2 September! A very strange thought.

I’ve had mixed reactions about my August due date, with some people saying they hope I’ll hang on so the baby is born in the next school year so that he/she isn’t the least developed (read: most stupid) in their class, and others pointing out that an August baby means one year less of childcare for me (as the baby will be going to school almost a year earlier than babies born a week later). Truth is I actually don’t care at all when Chip is born. I just want him/her to be healthy and for me not to rip in half during labour. Oh and for my feet to go back to normal after (more on that later).

Anyway, my first week of maternity leave has been lovely, and basically felt like a mini holiday. I’ve been out seeing friends a lot for lunches, brunches and dinners, and generally just pottering about. I even went back to John Lewis’s baby department again, but this time with my Mum. Sadly it was no more successful than my previous trip. In fact the only difference was this time it was my Mum saying ‘Oh it’s all a bit overwhelming’ as we wandered around marvelling at all the baby nail scissors and bibs and stuff. Again we left empty-handed, save for a helpful 'John Lewis Baby' brochure of ALL THE THINGS I WILL NEED. It’s on the coffee table. Progress.

rattle

We did also go to JoJo Maman Bebe however, where I found it impossible to resist this little rattle. Despite my Mum saying ‘Charlotte, people will BUY you things like that, you shouldn’t buy them yourself!’ But... where’s the fun in that?

I’ll probably do a separate post on the bits we have bought so far, but suffice to say that I feel we’re getting there on the clothing front - the only part of baby shopping that doesn’t freak me out. Although who knows if August babies need long or short sleeved baby grows? I’ve got a mixture of both just in case… (I’m also still slightly confused as to the difference between a sleep suit and a baby grow but hopefully all will become clear at some point).

31-weeks

But enough about the baby, back to ME. I’ve had some new symptoms again this week, which I shall now moan about for your reading pleasure and my future self’s nostalgia:

1) Crazy dreams. This may be due to us finally beginning to watch Game of Thrones (yes yes, I know, eighty years late to the party) but my dreams are so far off the sane-scale these days that I’m starting to become concerned. They don’t make any sense at all. Last night I was in a 4x4 being washed through a tsunami in the Devonshire countryside on my way to an interiors photoshoot. I think this may be a weird hybrid of issues in my life at the moment: the possible need for a new safer car (although I hate 4x4s with a passion), the possibility of moving out of London (although Devon is certainly not on the list of potentials, much as I’d love it to be), the fact the house we had an offer accepted on last week has flooding issues (we’ve pulled out), and well, me missing a big photoshoot for one of our clients due to being on mat leave. Just weird. Every morning I’ve woken up and gabbled, all excited like a five-year-old, ‘I had the weirdest dream!’ to Oli, who this morning made me laugh by replying ‘Yes, well tell me after I’ve been to the gym’. Message received loud and clear: other people’s dreams are BORING. Ahem. Moving on then…

2) For the last three days, my hands and feet have been really stiff and puffy when I wake up in the morning. I googled this and apparently I have rheumatoid arthritis. Of course, I don’t have rheumatoid arthritis because I’m pregnant, and so instead I have carpal tunnel syndrome. Not nice. I have to flex my hands and wrists for a good few minutes to try to get them to loosen up after I wake up - I literally have no grip otherwise. Annoying. And much sympathy now for those who do have rheumatoid arthritis.

3) My feet continue to upset me. My poor feet! My feet will never be the same again!! They are elephant feet. I hate them and they hate me. I miss my old, slightly bony, vein-riddled feet SO much. I miss my shoes! I’m actually praying to the god of feet that these fluid-filled bags of skin return to their normal size and shape after Chip is born because I can’t bear to spend the rest of my life looking down at such squidgy monstrosities.

4) And finally, I am definitely feeling BIGGER. I feel like a proper pregnant person now, and have started to wear my bump and my awkward waddle-walk with pride. I am using this as an excuse to eat more too (resistance to massive weight gain is now futile). My appetite is huge and seems to require at least two ice creams a day. A few weeks ago I discovered a wondrous thing known as ‘maternal fat stores’ which are apparently key to you having enough energy to breastfeed when your baby is first born. Basically I’m allowed around an extra 3kg of fat on my body by the time I’m full term. So now, whenever I sneak to the freezer for another Cornetto and Oli gives me a look, all I have to say to him is ‘maternal fat stores!’ and he rolls his eyes and leaves me alone. This bit of pregnancy I am getting on with quite well…

24 Weeks - also known as six months!

24-weeks I've realised that every pregnancy blog/vlog/diary/updated I've ever read starts 95% of the time with someone saying 'I can't BELIEVE I'm XX weeks pregnant'. So I vowed not to do that, yet here I am, falling into the cliche, because I really can't believe I'm 24 weeks - or more shockingly SIX MONTHS' pregnant today. At six months, I thought I would be gigantic, yet my bump, although an inch bigger than a week ago, is still relatively small and manageable. I don't really feel six months' pregnant at all. I actually feel instead that this is the first week where I feel actually properly pregnant finally, in that it's definitely on my mind all the time now. And turning over in bed has started to get a bit weird as my body moves and my stomach sort of follows a few nanoseconds later.

Physically, not much has happened this week, but I have been thinking a lot about mental health in pregnancy. The other night, after a particularly long and stressful week and a sleepless night the night before (I woke up at 4.30am and lay there till 6, before getting up and working through some emails), I had my second pregnancy 'hallucination'.

My first had been sometime late in the first trimester; I can't remember when exactly now. But I had woken up terrified because I heard someone open the front door, climb the stairs and open the door to my bedroom. I lay there for several seconds in the pitch black, not moving, before deciding I had to confront whoever it was. Finally I sat up in bed and turned on the light. It was 4am. There was no one there.

I was so confused at the time as I had been sure of what I'd heard, and sure that the door to my room would be open. I had heard it open! I even went into the hallway to check, but there was nothing and nobody there, and the front door was locked tight.

My second hallucination came last week and was altogether worse, albeit really bizarre. I woke up because beside me in the bed (Oli has been away on tour so I've mostly been sleeping alone) a man pushed the duvet onto me as he sat up next to me. He was naked from the waist up, and his face was in shadow, but he had a cushion balanced on his head (this is the bit that's just WEIRD). I screamed 'Get the fuck out of my room!', ran out of the bed and opened the door. And then suddenly stopped. And realised that he had disappeared.

Both of these episodes, I've decided, boil down to one thing: feeling vulnerable. I don't feel vulnerable very often. I'm an independent person, used to living alone (have done for nearly eight years, before Oli moved in last year) and have very rarely felt exposed or worried about my safety. But being pregnant is the most vulnerable state you can really get, because, as I've said before, so much of what's going to happen to you is outside your control. And it really affects your mental health and your sense of self-identity.

I hate being a needy person, but now I find myself asking Oli to carry the washing basket for me, because honestly bending down to pick it up makes me worry I might throw up (that lovely acid reflux again). I'm aware more than ever that I MUST sleep well and eat well because it's not just my health at stake, but that of my baby too. I don't want to travel on the tube in rush hour because I'm scared of getting ill and somehow impacting my baby. I don't want to go to noisy bars and stand there making conversation with people all the while knowing I must eat because my low blood sugar level is making me feel nauseous and panicky. And all this has made me feel uncomfortable, and pathetic, and vulnerable, and dependent.

Pregnancy is incredible, and insane. Hormonally, it's like puberty in many ways, with the bodily changes and the mood swings, but even more intense, and concentrated into a shorter period of time. I actually think I'm lucky in that I've not found my mood has changed that much - apart from crying at everything in the first trimester, and feeling less tolerant of people and things in general. I haven't been depressed, or particularly anxious, or deliriously happy either. But I have felt desperate to prove that pregnancy won't change me, or my independent lifestyle. To my detriment.

Personally, I don't think enough is talked about of your mental health and wellbeing during pregnancy. We're told a lot about nutrition and exercise but little is said about our own personal emotional care. Not much is said, for example, about the crazy dreams you get, of which I've had too many to blog about. But these are just as common a side effect as morning sickness and thicker hair, and I think even more important.

Something I've found of interest is Tommy's Wellbeing Plan - and this is the sort of thing that I think should be included in NHS pregnancy literature from the outset.

So, the moral of this ramble is: from now on I'm going to sleep better, ask for help without beating myself up about it, and stop doing things I don't want to do because I don't want people to see me as a pregnant wimp.

I am a pregnant wimp, and I don't care anymore.

PS I'll be on holiday next week so won't do a 25 week post! Enjoy your week off - I'll be back boring you with more thrilling updates before you can say 'third trimester'.

22 weeks

22-weeks2 It's nice not to have to start this post with a wonky selfie. Instead, behold the wonder that is my baby's face in portrait! Baby is now the size of a papaya, which a quick Google has told me is pretty bloody big. I keep thinking of the watermelon that awaits though, and my eyes water...

The reason I have this new improved photo of my baby is that on Monday we had our anomaly scan. Here they check that the baby is developing well, and everything looks as it should. It's also the time when you can find out the baby's gender... more on that later.

I was really nervous about this scan because basically, if everything looks OK with the baby at this stage then you should be OK for the rest of the pregnancy. It's the last scan the NHS does and the last proper check they do. Oli kept reassuring me that everything would be fine, but I was still pretty scared and didn't sleep well the night before. Anyway, everything WAS fine, sort of.

We had a newly qualified sonographer doing our scan, and it was quite obvious that she was a little bit nervous and inexperienced. What didn't help was that the baby decided to get into the most ridiculous position imaginable, making scanning its heart in particular a challenge. Basically our baby had its head down against my uterus (sorry, ick) and its legs curled up around its body completely, with its feet behind its head. I mean, an impressive yoga move for sure, but definitely more pretzel than papaya. So the sonographer spent quite a while saying 'Oh baby, what are you doing' and things like that, and poking me and trying to get it to move, but to no avail.

After about 20 minutes of this, which was actually quite mesmerising - nothing like watching something that's INSIDE YOU squirm about and gulp and reach for things with its hands to blow your mind - another sonographer came in the room and introduced herself as the Chief. She was much more comfortable and confident, and immediately took charge. After a while, and some more prodding and poking, she managed to get a good enough picture of the heart to confirm that all looked well. She then asked us the killer question: 'Do you want to know the sex?'

I have wanted to know the sex from the beginning. It's not in my nature to wait for anything and I want to feel like I can bond with the baby more - which is difficult when it doesn't have a gender and you don't quite know how to identify with it. But Oli was adamant that few things in life are a surprise, thus this must remain one. So as a compromise, we decided to ask her to write down the sex on a piece of card we'd brought, and seal it in an envelope, in case we changed our minds.

She was very obliging. I have to say, my hospital must be the most terrifying thing ever seen outside of a horror film, but the staff and midwives I've met (even the dopey HIV one) have all been really lovely and very kind and nothing at all like your harassed GP who just wants you out the door as soon as possible.

I hope we get to see Chief Sonographer again because the only fly in the ointment is that I have something called 'increased placental blood flow resistance' which I think means there's something wrong with the blood pressure between me and the placenta or the placenta and the baby, or something, which means I will be back for more scans. The sonographer stressed that it was unlikely to be anything serious, but did put me at a slight increased risk of developing pre-eclampsia, or of the baby developing growth problems, so they have to keep an eye on it.

I think maybe this news is the reason this post is a bit more sombre and a bit less sarcastic. Seeing my baby moving about so obviously and deliberately - like it really was making conscious decisions what to do with its hands, legs, feel and even little lips, has made me feel so worried about him/her and protective. I finally feel that the baby is a real person, and I want to make sure that he/she's OK. Nothing else really matters in comparison.

22-weeks

Anyway, that's it for 22 weeks. Just so this post isn't all doom and gloom, check out my 22 week bump.

Last week I got norovirus (not advisable when you're pregnant particularly) and actually lost 2 lbs, so I'm quite surprised to see that despite this my bump has actually grown a bit! Only a little, but definitely a bit! And this is the first week when someone asked me if I was pregnant. A VERY exciting moment - I finally look pregnant, not just gluttonous! - and I practically squeaked with glee when I said I was.

 

21 weeks

21-weeks 21 weeks pregnant and I'm carrying around a pomegranate! I don't know what a pomegranate looks like, apart from juiced in a glass, so I will refrain from passing comment on that one.

This will forever be remembered as the week I blew my nose and black lumps came out. No, I hadn't recently been on the Northern line. No, it wasn't, as suspected, parts of my (baby) brain. It was lumps of dried blood.

Lovely huh?

I had actually never, ever had a nosebleed. Not once in my life. As a child I used to envy those who had them, because they got fussed over, and, well, it's so DRAMATIC isn't it? Having blood pour out of your nostrils. Roll on 30ish years and I realise it's not dramatic at all, but rather feels like you're drowning in your own breath.

As a side effect of pregnancy, your progesterone levels mean that you have much more blood in your system than normal, which is why you are more prone to nosebleeds and bleeding gums etc. Oh, and haemorrhoids, but luckily I seem to have escaped them thus far (sorry, TMI). But the black lumps of dried blood was definitely a 'WTF is happening to me!' moment. Luckily it was a one-off, but it's not something I'm going to forget in a hurry.

There have been a couple of other things on my mind this week:

1) My mind.

My mind has been on my mind because my mind is not working properly. I've been fuzzy-headed for about a month now, but this was the week things really started to go downhill. Here's a few of things I've done thus far:

Left the gas on. For three hours.

Chased clients for invoices they've already paid (CRINGE).

Turned up to the dentist a week early.

Not locked the front door.

Put the washing machine on without putting any detergent in it.

Left the fridge door open - about six times and counting so far.

Forgotten meetings.

Forgotten half the things I wanted to add to this list.

Baby brain is REAL. I regularly now forget what I'm talking about in the middle of a sentence, and if I have an idea and don't write it down on my iPhone in the milliseconds afterwards, it's gone forever. My vocabulary has shrunk to that of a six year old. It's actually horrible feeling this out of control, and having this much trouble focusing on things, especially when work is so busy at the moment. As a control freak, I am not enjoying not being able to depend on myself.

O has also been using it as an excuse to tell me he's told me things when I KNOW he hasn't. Which makes the whole thing even more annoying.

21-weeks-3

2) My bump (or lack thereof)

I know a lot of pregnant women complain about this, especially first timers, but I really don't have much of a bump at all. I have had countless people tell me with a tut that 'you just look like I do normally' when I've stuck my tummy out and exclaimed how big I feel and I suppose I should be grateful. But it does make you worry. Is the baby growing OK? Will it turn out to be a midget (unlikely given its father)?

Every morning I do a bump check (which is a bad idea because in the mornings it's practically non-existent) and every morning I think I haven't really changed much at all. The only thing reassuring me is that I have a really long torso (and bottom, my nickname at school: 'Ducky Long Bum', forever unkind and remembered, Notre Dame girls) and so the baby must have lots of space in there which is why my bump is more spread out. I don't really want to look hugely pregnant yet as I'm sure it's very uncomfortable, but it's this damn ambiguous stage at the moment that I don't like - put a coat on me and I don't look pregnant at all, in a top I just look like I've eaten too many pies...

3) The baby kicked me!

You'll be pleased to hear I've saved the non-whinging part till last. I've been feeling squirming movements for a few weeks now, but only when I have been lying on my stomach. This was different. It was an actual kick. I was sitting with my legs up on the sofa reading and I felt this very definite little jab from inside - like someone flicking you with their thumb and middle finger. And instead of being creepy or weird, it was SUCH a lovely feeling that I actually squealed and grinned for about an hour afterwards.

It's definitely made the whole thing feel more real, and now whenever I feel the baby fluttering around I find myself talking to it, a bit like I talk to the cat when he shouts at me. Alas he/she has yet to kick again. I wait in hope and eager anticipation...

20 weeks

20-weeks At 20 weeks, my baby is a banana! I wouldn't be surprised if I was actually having a banana, as I have certainly eaten more than my fair share of them since finding out I'm pregnant. Bananas are, of course, thinner than mangoes (19 weeks), so in my head it means the baby's gone anorexic, but eventually I'll accept it's all about length and not girth and shut up about the fruit and veg thing.

Apparently, at 20 weeks, I'm halfway through my pregnancy. Which would be somewhat of a milestone if it meant that I now have just as long to go as I have already been through, but, as with all pregnancy things, nothing is as it seems. In fact, for the first 2 weeks of my 'pregnancy' I wasn't actually pregnant at all, because pregnancy is counted from the first day of your last period. Confusing much?

A few interesting things happened this week. I finally plucked up the courage to weigh myself. I have put on 8.5lb since becoming pregnant, which is very average, despite feeling rather traumatic. I am the heaviest I have ever been (and I know, I have a long way still to go...) and I feel it! My legs are achingly heavy at the end of the day. The veins in my left leg particularly keep me awake at night in worry - are they on their way to varicose already?

As my bump is still quite small, a lot of this weight must have gone on my boobs, which are quite frankly, impressive. Last week while at work they threatened to escape my vest top and I couldn't help but squeak:

'My boobs are almost touching!'

'Touching what?' my bemused business partner asked.

'Each other!' I said, marvelling at the sight. I have never had cleavage in my life.

From now on, apparently I'm supposed to put on 1lb per week. I told my mum this while merrily stuffing my face over Easter lunch and she told me not to be so ridiculous, because that would mean I would end up putting on another 20lbs, which would make me clinically obese. When she had me and my sister, she apparently put on about half a stone in total and lost it all within three weeks.

I don't think my mum has read the baby books.

I indignantly Googled it in front of her and proved to her that in fact, I am RIGHT and that I could even put on 2lb a week should I feel like it and still be perfectly within the healthy limits. Her reply to this: 'Well, it was all different in my day.' Hmmm.

Bless my mum, but apparently 'in her day', no one needed pregnancy pillows or pregnancy anything really, she wore her normal clothes quite happily until she was about six months' gone, there was no need for prenatal yoga or any of that nonsense, you didn't even go to the doctor till you'd missed two periods (!!), women were TOUGHER godammit, and certainly NO ONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND had a home birth. My mum has made her pregnancies sound like nothing more remarkable than having a bit of a cold, and I fear we may fall out before I come to full term, when I fully expect to be reclining in a wheelchair groaning about my 'condition'.

This week, I diagnosed myself, with the help of Dr Google, with Pelvic Girdle Pain. At first I thought I had a bit of sciatica (told my mum this and she told me that she got a 'touch of it' but not, of course, until she was overdue) but Dr Google said no, it was a unique pregnancy affliction, whereby your hips hurt because they are basically stretching apart. And they really are! It's so weird how your body can get wider without putting on any fat in the area - but for once the proof's not in the pudding (I've mostly gone off them) but in the fact it's now quite a struggle to yank my pyjamas above my thighs. Sniff.

Anyway Dr Google prescribed a exercise ball, and so this has been added to the list of random new things in my home, along with the pregnancy pillow, a Lush massage bar designed for pregnant women, some soothing leg cream and a new yoga mat. The yoga mat was technically unnecessary as I already had one but matches the exercise ball. So y'know. I have been bouncing about on my exercise ball quite happily and think it may even play a role in the birth.

20-weeks-pregnant

I suppose, more than anything else, this pregnancy lark has taught me how utterly vain I am. It's all me me me at the moment - how I'm feeling, what I look like... I feel a bit ashamed, but I find myself preoccupied with all the physical twinges and changes and not thinking much about the baby itself.

I hope that after the next scan (mine's a bit late, at nearly 22 weeks) I will stop worrying about the fact that I just look podgy really, not pregnant, and instead focus on the poor wee mite who's busy drinking its own amniotic fluid and learning how to breathe and forming its first poo and growing teeth buds and doing all sorts of miraculous things like that.

And I thought I was having a hard time. As O said, it's a good thing we don't remember anything that happens to us when in the womb...

19 weeks

19-weeks Today I'm 19 weeks! Hurrah. The baby has morphed from a sweet potato to a mango. Much better - I actually like mangoes. For one thing, they don't look like dehydrated excrement.

This has been an eventful week. I had another midwife appointment to collect the results of a blood test I had ages ago, that checked me for various things, including syphilis, HIV, whether or not I was immune to rubella, and whether or not I was anaemic.

I have not been enjoying my pregnancy hospital visits. St George's, the goliath teaching hospital just down the road from me in Tooting (so close I can see it over the rooftops from my back garden), is MASSIVE. So massive that for my first appointment, I went to the wrong wing and it took me half an hour to navigate my way to the right place.

Also, it's old. Like, really old and sad. Like a smelly, neglected sofa that's been ravaged by dogs. Here are some snapshots from my appointment last week...

hospitalhospital-chairs

I mean, what a place to be born! Welcome to the world baby. This is London. It ain't pretty.

Anyway, at this appointment, the midwife explained she would be giving me my blood test results, told me my blood group (O positive, very common and unremarkable - sigh) and started looking through some paperwork. Then she looked up:

'Did Michael our blood specialist contact you about your HIV results?'

No, Michael your blood specialist did not contact me about my HIV results.

'No,' I spluttered.

'Interesting,' she said, furrowing her brow. 'There's something on here I don't understand.'

Excellent. Just what you want to hear from your midwife ABOUT YOUR HIV TEST RESULTS.

'Hmm. He's signed it...' she went on, staring at the slip of paper. 'I guess that means everything's OK.'

I guess that means everything's OK?

'Right,' I squeaked. 'Um... Could you... maybe... er...'

'Hmm,' she said, staring harder, which we both knew was not going to make a blind bit of difference. I thought to suggest she Google whatever was written on the paper, but wondered if that might seem patronising. 'Let me look on your file on the computer.'

She went over to the screen and started clicking away. The pressure in the room was temporarily relieved that something was now happening. Results would be obtained. It was all going to be OK.

'I've never had HIV before,' I mumbled, before remembering it wasn't an ear infection or a bout of flu. 'I mean, I've been tested for everything before a few times and never had anything...'

'Hmm,' she continued, scrolling through pages. 'No, there's nothing marked on here. NAD. I'm sure it's fine. Or he would have called you.'

And that was that.

(NAD is another confusing bit of medical jargon, which made my head jerk when a midwife proclaimed it about my first ever urine sample. It means 'no abnormalities detected' which is GOOD).

Of course when I got home, I Googled what was written on the paper - HIV 1/2 Ab/Ag, Centaur - low reactivity, ND in VIDAS and Architect...* I tried to unscramble the ridiculously confusing medical terminology, before concluding that they'd run three different HIV tests, one of which had been a bit unusual, the other two of which were negative. I probably don't have HIV. It was probably a dirty test tube on the first test. Right?

Other than that, this week has been quite nice. I have realised that if I lie on my stomach, the mango doesn't like it and starts squirming about. Fair enough, I wouldn't want to have someone of my (new, ever-increasing) weight pressed on top of me either if I was the size of a mango.

This is less like something from Alien that I imagined and actually really rather nice.

pregnancy-pillow

I have also finally found a use for my surrogate partner maternity pillow. I bullied O into buying me one at around 9 weeks: 'All the Youtube vloggers' partners bought them a maternity pillow! You have to buy me one!', when to be honest I really didn't need one. When it arrived, we were both a bit horrified. It looks like a giant sausage, and takes up half the bed. It works quite well as an effective barrier between you, but thankfully as O is on tour at the moment I'm alone most nights anyway, and so it makes a good substitute lump to pull the duvet away from. Anyway, this was the week my hips finally started to hurt, and so I wheeled out the maternity pillow and dutifully wrapped my legs around it. It does help, even if the arm that I have to stuff underneath it inevitably goes dead.

Another interesting pregnancy fact: you're meant to sleep on your left-hand side. Bossy huh? Apparently this way the baby gets more blood. Or something. Something to do with a major artery that runs down your back. Sleeping on your back is now a HUGE no-no and sleeping on your right-hand side earns you a 'could try harder' in the 'doing-the-best-for-your-baby' stakes.

I also had my first prenatal yoga session this week, which was amazing. The yoga teacher is exactly what you'd expect for a yoga teacher who lives in Richmond and only does yoga for expectant mums and people who've recently given birth. She has an awesome name (Bobbie Challenger) and pink hair. I'm a bit in love with her. She also had a homebirth for her first baby. And after my experiences this week, I am now considering the same...

* if anyone reading this knows what the heck it means, you'll be my best friend forever!

18 Weeks

babyonboard Today I am officially 18 weeks pregnant. Apparently my uterus is now the size of a cantaloupe (ick), and my baby (foetus?) is the size of a sweet potato.

First thing - in a list of many - that I find bizarre about pregnancy: the continual size comparison to fruit and veg. Apparently my baby today weighs the same as a chicken breast, and a chicken breast is pretty much the same size as a sweet potato, so why it couldn't just be described as like a chicken breast is something I have pondered a little today.

Pregnancy has had me pondering many things. And so I thought I might start blogging again so that I can share these ponderings to look back on in the future. Also, I am obsessed with pregnancy blogs and vlogs at the moment so it seems rather churlish not to join the party.

So here are a few of my inaugural discoveries from the last three and a half months...

1) People are very nice to you when you're pregnant. Most people anyway. Not my dentist receptionist however, who told me with a gleeful smirk that hygienist appointments are NOT FREE for pregnant women (when I politely enquired), only dental treatments. Anyway. Others are very excited for you, and as a result, you feel you have to be too, when actually most of the time you're more terrified/in denial. People keep asking me if I'm excited and all I can think is that I'm not sure because it doesn't really feel real yet.

2) Pregnancy makes your body do weird and mostly unpleasant things to you. Well, duh, everyone knows about morning sickness and the temporary boob job but no one mentions the other things - like oddly itchy skin; being unable to shower before eating because the heat/steam makes you dizzy; weird lower back and hip pain; throbbing leg veins; a frightening inability to remember anything; the constant toilet trips in the middle of the night making you terrified of drinking anything after 8pm; the cravings for ice in all drinks - or just very cold drinks; the weeping at everything on television; the ABSOLUTE hanger; the fact that spicy food now seems 20 times spicier than it did before... And this is just some of the SFW stuff. I'm not even going to start on the fact that no one told me that every day of my pregnancy I would have to wear a panty liner. I'm almost missing periods.

3) When you march into the doctor's and tell them you're pregnant, they don't bother to test you, they just believe you. And merrily go ahead and book you in for scans and midwife appointments and all the rest of that jazz without EVER CHECKING YOU DIDN'T JUST MAKE IT UP. The novelist in me is wondering how long a phantom pregnancist could get away with this for... Oh and when you are pregnant, the NHS sends you a Maternity Exemption Card which means you get free prescriptions. Accompanying the card is a letter requesting you return it in the event of a miscarriage. Given this arrives at the point when you are most terrified you may indeed miscarry (before 12 weeks), it feels like an incredibly cruel piece of paper. I did actually stare at it for a while thinking I would keep it if I miscarried, just to spite them for being mean.

12-week-scan

4) Ultrasounds make me cry. I paid for an early scan because - as has been the common theme of my pregnancy thus far - I was convinced that there was some mistake on the four tests I did and that this couldn't be real. Anyway there I was at 8 weeks plus 4 (this another thing, you can no longer remember your phone number but you always know EXACTLY how many days plus weeks pregnant you are) and the scanner woman shoved her little probe on my (flat) stomach and found the baby straight away. And I burst into a weird combination of tears/giggles, meaning I couldn't keep my stomach still, making the whole process impossible and making her tut. I don't know why it made me cry/laugh but it did. Seeing it there felt so unreal - almost like an out-of-body experience.

5) Discussing anything about being pregnant, or the baby, makes you terrified you'll jinx it and something will go wrong. Same goes for buying maternity clothes or things for the baby. The fear of miscarriage is something I can't imagine will ever leave me - especially not those dreaded 'missed miscarriages' which are supposedly rare but which as soon as I started talking to friends about found out that everyone either knew someone who'd had one, or had had one themselves.

6) When you are pregnant, you have no control over anything. This is maybe the crux of the whole thing. I'm a control freak, and now I'm no longer in control of my body, my emotions, or my fate. It's an interesting situation to be in, requiring a lot of attitude-altering, and one which I guess will continue after the baby is born...

7) There's nothing quite like seeing your tiny baby with its oddly bony spine and little flickering heartbeat on an ultrasound, doing a little jump for you, and being told by the sonographer that he/she looks perfectly healthy. It feels like the best Christmas Day you ever had as a kid, multiplied by about a million.

headless-bump

Reading this back, I hope it doesn't sound like I'm complaining. In truth, I am amazed but also utterly terrified and continually surprised by all the things that have been happening to me and my body.

Pregnancy is a huge learning curve and I find it endlessly fascinating. There's so much that you just don't know - or expect - and it's this that I want to blog about, so that I can look back and remember what a miraculous, life-changing time it was. And laugh at my naiveté, in the same way my friends-with-kids have been smiling at me knowingly ever since I told them my news...