30 WEEKS PREGNANT: UPDATE

Disclaimer: The week was too action-packed, and stressful (in less than equal proportions) for me to provide an accompanying photographic narrative. I hope it still counts.

At 31 weeks + 2 days pregnant, it is the perfect time for me to reflect on week 30, especially when I consider the last 24hrs of agonising leg cramps/pain/whatever one can class these horrors as, which allow me to look back on the preceding week with rose-tinted glasses.

At the dawn of the third week of the third trimester, both the baby and I began to grow exponentially. As if to confirm my ever-expanding form, the other morning when Rich and I were racing (why am I seemingly incapable of building pregnancy slack into my original routine?! N.B. letting myself go has somewhat mitigated this issue) out of the door to our first antenatal class, my coat popper burst free in the midst of the battle between my swollen calves and unsuitably knee high boots. Fortunately, my fantastically supportive husband, provides me with the confidence boosts I need during such challenging times. Take our walk to the antenatal class for an example of such wife-affirmation.

Me (grabbing my hamster cheeks, and unable to work out if I’m pleased or not…): “Look at my face. I have zero wrinkles thanks to how plump it is”.

Rich: “Yes but you’ve always had a cute button face”.

Me (because we all know a button is generally round…a perfect circle really): “You mean chubby”.

Rich: Laughs in my (button?) face.

It’s okay though, because when we arrived at the session and were asked on our best and least favourite part of pregnancy, Rich said “doing all of the washing-up all of the time”. So whilst I’m still struggling to pull my rotund self out from under the red London bus I was thrown beneath, I’m left wondering whether that’s Rich’s best or least favourite part? In his defence (or arguably anyone that doesn’t scour the literature for endless pregnancy tidbits), he may have been overwhelmed by concepts like ‘episiotomy’ which were being liberally thrown around by us bellies. Also, credit where credit is due. Rich does do all the washing up all of the time, and he appreciates my agency sufficiently so as not to make the mistake of proclaiming that ‘natural’ (meaning in this context without epidural…) is definitely the best way to have a baby whilst staring pointedly at his wife, like one of the other (insert: brave/foolish/insane) husbands*.

Nonetheless, if you still need convincing of a husband’s ability to make everything better, take mine and Rich’s Monday night exchange for the final example. I’d say final straw, but fortunately I’m not a camel (I pee way too often to store more than a thimble of liquid), and (un?)fortunately my back is now too wide to be broken.

What I said (underwear clad with back to Rich): “Look. When I have my back turned to you, you’d think I was just chunky, and not pregnant”.

What I was really saying (underwear clad with back to Rich): “Tell me that if it weren’t for my bump, which is now hidden, I look positively slim, and like my usual self”.

What he said (examining me, and delivering his carefully considered response): “Yes you’re right”.

What she said (since I refuse to be associated with the ogre that suddenly entered my body and declared war against husband): “What do you mean? I’m not chunky am I? You just said I was. That must mean I’m really chunky”.

Needless to say, as quickly as the hormone-fuelled witch entered me, and her embarrassingly unreasonable outburst took place, I simmered down. Because let’s face it, who cares?! So besides emotional outbursts, weight-gain, and the discomfort that comes with my growing baby, I’ve also faced some delightful comments on my apparently still ‘tiny’ bump (more insulting than ever when you consider my apparent weight-gain!). So to the wonderful human who thought it appropriate to inform me I look closer to 5 rather than 7 months pregnant, and to kindly question whether my baby’s growth was okay (“his growth is all on-track though, right?”), I’d like to say “no”.

Last week amidst the flurries of snow, and after half a day of changed strength (albeit not frequency) of foetal movement, Rich and I ended up in the maternity assessment centre with me on a monitor at 1.30am. This was followed by a growth scan which revealed our son not to be growing at the normal rate so as to be the average weight for his age of 2.9lbs. No. The two measurements that were taken provided us with an estimate (let’s remember there’s c.10% margin of error) of him being 3.12lbs and 3.13lbs respectively. So it transpires that my ‘tiny’ bump is safely housing our wonderful baby rhino.

So goodbye, and hello to another week of pregnancy excitement, hormones, wonder, bafflement, and strife. Please let there be no more bump commentary. My hormones will determine whether any metaphorical or actual bird flipping takes place on my part. I claim no responsibility from here on out.


*Kudos to the midwife, who on his fifth attempt at shaming his wife into going ‘natural’, pointed out to the husband that both a birth with, and without pain relief is considered natural. We’ll have to wait until next week to see if he’s convinced.

HOW I FELL PREGNANT

I’m just kidding. I don’t think anyone needs lewd details, or a conception story. Especially not mine. Nonetheless, this was not intended as a clickbait title. Therefore, I guess it’s more of a ‘how it began’ post. Full-disclosure: we weren’t trying to conceive but nor can two well-educated individuals claim the conception of a baby was an ‘accident’.

So I don’t know why, but since turning 27 I had convinced myself I would struggle to conceive. It became a bit of an inner dialogue with myself. I suppose it had something to do with me having an irregular cycle since coming off the pill a few years ago, my skin being terrible (notably not any better since falling pregnant…we all have our own cross to bear!), and my gynaecologist asking if I was trying for baby at each visit since I turned 24 (which I took to mean I clearly should be by now, now meaning every year since turning 24). My husband who clearly knew better than me, though I concede only on this subject matter, rejected (after much qualification) my concerns. Nonetheless, on the basis it was unlikely to happen to us, from June 2018 we ceased to use any form of contraception. Given my pessimism, our shared naivety (?), and lack of planning (my proclivity to overthink meant actively trying for a baby was out of the question), we were not expecting to fall pregnant two months later.

Throughout the w/c 23rd July, following each of our gym sessions, I bemoaned to Rich that I was unable to go as hard as usual (I must caveat here that my going hard is sitting on a stationary bike watching YouTube videos). In fact, I was flat out exhausted even selecting the YouTube videos to accompany my gentle spin, and put my inability to perform at my usual level down to our consecutive gym sessions. Although, I was surprised, and a little confused that Rich seemed to be unaffected by our schedule!

That weekend, we met up with Rich’s sister, and far from my usual Prosecco-loving self I found that a) I didn’t really want to drink at all, b) I fell asleep around 10pm at the house of an acquaintance (so unlike me who is (1) a night owl, and (2) extremely selective about where I will sleep), and c) I felt nauseous upon returning home during the small hours of the next morning. Again not like me, especially following a delicious take out pizza (the subsequent nightmares about the potentially unpasteurised and listeria-harbouring cheese still haunt me).

Still, despite the aforementioned blindingly-obvious-in-hindsight symptoms, I hadn’t put two and two together. Or if I had, I had come up with five and deduced it was a case of overdoing it, whatever it was. Certainly not the gym or work. In fact, it wasn’t until 1st August when I noticed what appeared to be some physical changes in my appearance that I started to think perhaps something was up. However, my husband’s second opinion was that I was overanalysing my reflection, which given I do overanalyse, and my umbrage at his implying I was being vain, I quickly quashed all suspicions. Although, we now know that far from me overanalysing, it is he who is guilty of under-analysing!

On 2nd August, whilst working from home and caffeinated up to the eyeballs on two coffees, and probably quadruple the number of green teas (my recently discovered-and-ever-since-put-on-hold life’s passion), I was feeling a little distracted/bored so figured I’d do a pregnancy test, if only to confirm these changes which I suspected were not in my head, were in my head. After following the instructions, I set the stick on the floor, and started putting clothes away. The next time I looked back at the stick (note that I wasn’t stick-watching because of course I wasn’t pregnant), a timer was flashing, which in moments was replaced by ‘1-2 weeks pregnant’. I started to shake. Unlike all these cool women you watch on YouTube or read about, I didn’t ponder on whether to break the news to Rich by gifting him a t-shirt with the slogan ‘baby daddy’, or to greet him home from work with arms outstretched, clutching the urine-soaked test. No that would be far too cool for me. Instead, I called him at work and asked if he was free to chat. After giving him a solid half a second to say ‘ye-‘, since the additional ‘s’ in ‘yes’ would take too long, I requested he look at his text messages. What greeted him? The image below.

IMG_0052

Rich’s reaction to this test result, and the subsequent three (I had to be sure!), confirm what a cool man my husband is. Combined, my hysteria and his collected response, we make a semi-cool (or rather hysterical but collected) little team. What’s more, I am grateful everyday, and truly think of our baby boy as a wonderful gift. Although we won’t know why we conceived when we did (I’ve since read that so many factors need to be aligned, that the creation of life seems even more miraculous), I’ve since thought it can only have helped that before we fell pregnant, we were regularly gyming and following a plant-based diet (n.b. this is NOT a vegan plug. Note I said before falling pregnant!). In short, we were probably in the best shape we had been since meeting at 21, which can have only been skin-deep all those years ago, given our penchant for nights out (both), take-outs (both but mainly Rich), Diet Coke (me), and limited exercise (both but mainly me).

Would I have done anything differently? No. Although, I think I’d have had a week-long binge of the softest and smelliest cheeses beforehand, taken folic acid in the preceding months, and not taken a test so early. Nobody needs to prolong the worries of the first trimester!

Left: Us at 22. Right: Me at 27, and 26.5 weeks pregnant. Featured: The everlasting onesie.