Pregnancy diary, written originally for Netmums but taken off when they accepted Nestle Sponsorship

After years of actively disliking children (I used to teach them!) and being rather terrified of babies, my hormones betray me. My womb twitches when I see a pushchair or a pregnant woman and I persuade my lovely boyfriend that having a child would be a good idea. I’d be able to give up work, have huge breasts, an excuse to be fat and at the end of it – a baby!

After extensive research I decide that my chances of getting pregnant as a 35yr old woman are pretty remote so even though we give up contraception I am sure it won’t be easy, it could take years and I just forget about it and 2 months later I started writing this diary.

Week 37 – cold feet

I am in a terrible mood and have decided that I don’t actually want to give birth to this baby at all, having just got used to it being inside me. I am already fed up with people asking me the usual ‘whensitduedoyouknowwhatsexitis’, and I may have to kill the next person who tells me how big I am.

I think the bad mood is because for the last few days I have had period pain type cramps, not bad, but naggy and it has dawned on me that this birth thing could be very painful and messy indeed. Also, I have been determined not to get excited about it all the way through in case anything went wrong, and I still haven’t grown an ‘ahh, isn’t that baby cute’ gene.

I dreamt that I had the baby, at least its head was half out between my legs but I had guests so I had to make them a cup of tea before I could finish off the delivery, then I finished off some sewing, then as I want a water birth I ran the bath. After all this the baby came out easily and vanished, I could get on with lots of other things that needed doing. I think this sums up as I AM NOT READY YET. Practically, everything is here, basket, pram, car seat, clothes, changing mat, millions of babygrows….. but emotionally it is a different matter.

Happy hormones, where are you?

Week 36 – stretch marks

I thought I would be ok about getting stretch marks, I thought of them as a kind of badge of pregnancy, an initiation into the exclusive motherhood club. This week I discovered I have some and I am not at all happy about it. They started as a bruise under one breast and are now 3 red lines. I noticed them when I was trying on a maternity bra (Bravado, leopard skin, very comfy) normally I don’t get that close to a mirror to see what’s going on. I obscure most of my full length mirror at home. I wonder what sort of state the underside of my tummy will be in after this baby comes out. Worrying about bikini lines seem a very distant memory.

I have also started to feel prematurely nostalgic for this pregnancy. I am used to being kicked from the inside and having to wee every 5 minutes. And what excuse will I have for stuffing my face full of cake and sweeties when the baby is out? I will have to ‘fess up to being fat instead of pregnant. This baby is definitely going to interfere with my sleep pattern (lots and often) and I only have to worry about my own bladder control while it’s inside. The other new thing this week is the demise of my pelvic floor muscles. Years of exercises and I still managed to wet myself if caught unawares by a sneeze or a joke. This is great fun for my ‘friends’ who find the sight of a fat girl running to the loo in desperation extremely funny. It is not great fun for me.

Week 35 – when’s it due?

I don’t know what to say when people ask when it’s due. Do I say 5 weeks? Do I say it could be anytime after next week? The problem is that it’s not up to me, not much is at the moment. Someone else tells me when to eat, sleep, drink and wee. I am not steering myself anymore. This is a very tricky one for a control freak like myself, I used to like a nice planned ordered life, I used to like to know what was going to happen and when. Whatever, it can’t come yet ‘cos I am just not ready, there is far too much to do. I have been washing baby clothes and they are looking tiny and sinister on the line as I type. I might as well dye them all grey now and get it over with, as I have never got the hang of keeping anything white for long. The house is still a mess no matter how much I clean it and I have to make a cat net for the moses basket.

I saw the doctor for this weeks ante natal appointment. I bounced in, full of how horribly healthy I am and how strange it was to see a doctor when I am not ill, only to be told my blood pressure is high, damn. It’s not dangerously high, just high for me, but the midwives went on full alert and came round to my house 2 days later (on a Sunday) to measure me again. It has dropped but not much, probably because I am now stressed out about pre-eclampsia, hospitals and not having a home birth, whereas previously I was just plain stressed out about ordinary things like dying pets. I am not coping with stress at all well, I am more of an over-emotional mess. I have been sleeping lots, doing breathing exercises and taking long baths to try and sort it out. The very good news is that the foetus is engaged, head down and not posterior! The doctor said it was not going to turn breech at this stage but there was a very slim chance that it could go posterior.

Week 34 – feeling heavy

I am really starting to drag myself around now. I now understand why you are not supposed to stand on chairs at this stage – I can just about stand on the ground without toppling. Rolling over in bed requires a manoeuvre not unlike a 3-point turn. I can’t imagine being able to work in this state or being able to look after a toddler, I must remember this if I ever get broody again. Aqua Natal classes have become something I look forward to, as the water takes all the weight instead of me and I do my double elbow roll bunny hops with glee.

The foetus is banging around inside my pelvis and I wish I could work out which way up it is so I could do exercises to try and turn it if it is breech. I am sure the midwives will call social services as soon as it is born as I spend so much time prodding it to work out its position, I am convinced it will come out with big finger shaped bruises on it. Or paw prints, as the cat does insist on trying to balance on the bump. Pretty much everything is ready at home now, my boyfriend has been nagged into finishing off the decorating I can’t do and I even lined the moses basket with something decidedly non frilly.

Just because I am pregnant it does not mean that I am interested in babies. I am pretty sure that I will love mine, and it will be The Only Baby in the World, but assuming that I care about other peoples babies is silly. It’s like assuming that everyone who buys a bunch of flowers has a season ticket to Chelsea Flower Show and a well tended herbaceous border. The only trouble with this lack of enthusiasm is that I cannot at this stage imagine going to mother and baby groups. There is only so much of ‘oh is he crawling yet, what a lot of hair’ stuff I can do without screaming. This means that I will not have the support of other mothers who quite rightly will hate me, and that my sprog will grow up a social recluse. We went to a party at the weekend (daytime, no smokers!) and I feigned interest in peoples babies, ok they looked pretty clean, gurgled a bit etc, but there is no cute trigger in my system, nothing whatsoever that makes me go ‘ahh’. However, on the way back to the car we passed a run full of chickens. I waddled over to admire their shiny feathers, clear eyes and inquisitive beaky faces and made all the appreciative noises that I find so difficult to apply to babies. I am formulating a plan to pretend that all babies are chickens, but have to find some phrases that will do for both so I don’t get caught out admiring scaly legs or full crops.

Week 33 – obsessive DIY

Every time I go to a DIY shop or a fabric shop there is a heavily pregnant woman there. We are all collectively nuts. My driving force is the expulsion of dirt and the ordering of clutter, mostly into bags for the charity shop that then sit in the dining room for weeks. My kitchen floor gleams and I follow my boyfriend around with a spray and a sponge when he cooks, he is interfering with my master plan to achieve calm and cleanliness. There could only be 5 weeks to go and I still have to re-decorate the front room so I can give birth in it. This is further frustrated by not being able to stand on chairs, so I know I will have to do as far as I can reach and then embark on an intensive nagging programme to get someone else to finish off the job for me.

After seeing Doula Sue last week I have been thinking hard about places where I feel grounded and safe. Other than digging the garden, which always calms me down but may be a bit impractical whilst in labour, my sanctuary is the bath. So I cracked and hired a birthing pool, sod the expense. I have booked it for 2 weeks before my due date and 4 weeks of it will cost about £300. This will repay itself in the raising of my social status and my popularity will soar when news of my hot tub parties gets out. Maybe not. It can either go in the front room, or if I get a smaller one, in the kitchen. I have a skylight in there and the idea of grunting under the stars is quite appealing.

I worked out that I am carrying 25% more weight around than I am used to. I started off at 10 stone and am now around 12 and a half. Never before have I felt affinity to those extra tall packets of cereal marked ‘25% extra’.

Week 32 – A Doula and a hospital visit

I feel like I am organising a cast of millions for this birth. There will be 5 people on the day, 6 if you count the baby. Two of them are midwives, who have to be there legally, one is my boyfriend, one is me and the other is my Doula, a trained labour support person who will provide me with emotional and physical support. Sue is going to help me practice coping techniques before the birth and be at the birth itself to help me do it without going to the hospital and taking every drug known to man. She will help me work with the pain instead of fight against it. I trust her and know that she will help me challenge the midwives if they want to intervene, and assess risks as they happen.

The only reason I should need to go to the hospital is in an emergency so this week we trotted along for a visit so it won’t all be new and traumatic, just traumatic. We saw a labour room, just a large space with a bed in it and a bathroom attached but I didn’t see what I will see if I go there – an operating theatre. It didn’t smell as bad as hospitals usually do but it was pretty grim, in a sort of plugs too high up on the wall and lots of plastic wrapped things in boxes around the place. The midwife giving the tour was pretty good, but I still felt that she told half the story; when she went through the drug options there was no mention of the side effects of pethedine for mothers and their babies or risks associated with epidurals.

Also this week, Vicky, my lovely Shiatsu lady, lent me a birthing ball. It is like a huge beach ball that you can lie on or sit on and is the most comfortable bit of furniture in the world. I have it inflated enough to support me but also give room for the bump, so I can lie on my front! Bliss! Even better, if I pile 4 pillows in front of it, the ball supports my tummy and head and the pillows make a book the right height to read. When will the wild crazy hedonism end? It is brilliant for stretching my back, apparently good for getting the foetus into a good position and you can exercise on it too, that is if you are not too busy lying on it murmering ‘ahh, bliss’.

Week 31 – Midwife number 3

Oh dear, I think I may have dug myself a bit of a hole here. My clinic does shared care, which means that at my ante natal appointments I can be seen by one of about 7 people. Today I met midwife number 3, who told me that if my baby is premature I will have to go into hospital to have it. Now, unfortunately, I am the sort of person who automatically says no as soon as anyone tells me I ‘have’ to do something. A heated discussion followed and the midwife informed me that they would be in ‘a very difficult position’ if I refused to go into hospital. Now obviously, if the baby is in danger I will go into hospital, but there is no way that I am going there to have a perfectly healthy baby just because I am a couple of weeks early. The definition of ‘early’ changed throughout the course of the conversation from 37 weeks to between 36 and 37. My baby is measuring a couple of weeks bigger than average so I am fully confident that all will be fine if it does come out ‘early’. The midwife took me seriously when I said that the baby couldn’t be 2 weeks late ‘cos that’s my birthday, and asked about other members of my family and their gestation lengths. She was openly shocked when I told her that my youngest sister was 6 weeks late, and my mother finally agreed to be induced when the placenta gave up and a bit of it dropped on the living room floor. I come from a long line of stubborn women! (My sister is horribly healthy and always has been).

I do want to go and see the hospital though, just in case and they reluctantly agreed that the next visit that they have planned, 2 weeks before my due date is a bit late for me. Hopefully I can tag along to another clinic’s tour next week. There are lots of reasons I want to avoid the hospital; I want people to be looking at me, not a monitor and I do not want my labour to be artificially fitted around shift patterns. The basic problem here is that I don’t trust the medical profession but I do trust my body. The whole system seems to be set up to treat pregnancy as an illness and I am not ill.

I had lots of questions that the midwife thought were a bit premature, such as what do I need to organise for a home birth and when should I let them know that I want to hire a TENS machine. I just want to get everything ready while I can still fit behind a steering wheel to collect stuff. Someone will come and visit me at home to discuss what I need nearer the time, and I should let them know around week 34 about TENS.

Week 30 – Birth plan draft 1

I am a total baby bore now, and I don’t even like babies! Through a combination of lack of mental stimulation and complete self-absorption, pregnancy, birth, midwives and nappies are about all I can talk about. This weekend I did manage to discuss compost but it was an effort. We went to visit my folks who gave my boyfriend a chocolate bunny and me lots of baby stuff, hmm, something is not fair here. I had a bit of a panic about bedding and was just about to buy some fleece to make blankets when a friend gave me a load of stuff that will fit a cot, so panic over. Strangely, every time I worry about things I need for this baby thing, it just turns up. Hopefully this will still happen when I decide I need a nanny and a holiday in Tuscany.

The wriggler inside’er has discovered that it can kick my cervix, bless. This creates a short sharp pain that I have no time to prepare for, but with a combination of deep breathing, going onto all fours and swearing at the foetus it seems to stop. I have ballooned again this week and grown a nice dark line down from my tummy button that I am very proud of. The weight is lower down now so my heartburn is not as bad as it was.

My maternity notes say that a birth plan should be discussed with the midwife by week 32 so I have drafted version 1 to take to my appointment next week. I thought simple was best but I have included best and worst case scenarios, in case I do have to have a caesarean. There is a reasonable birth plan generator here that helped a little but I am assuming that a 10,000 word thesis will not be read so mine is a very short version. I have covered stuff like pain relief, birth partners, movement during labour, cord cutting and where the champagne is.

Week 29 – Trying to avoid back labour

This pregnancy thing is taking ages, even longer than it takes to cook a sticky toffee pudding and that’s a very long time indeed. What I can do is limited to the little brain power I have left and the little energy I have. This boils down to reading chick lit (my local library are saving crappy novels for me as my attention span has gone), sunbathing and sleeping. I really shouldn’t be complaining, it’s like a long holiday, but there are things I want to be able to do, or rather, should be doing, like sandpapering skirtingboards. I am further limited this week by a bruised coccyx, caused by bumping down the stairs on it when I misjudged where my feet were. I can’t actually see my feet unless I look over the bump. I popped in to see the midwife who was great and supplied me with an extra large tissue for an extra large hormonal woman’s tears, and checked the baby’s heartbeat. All is fine, nothing to worry about unless I landed on the bump itself and even then it is pretty cushioned, unlike my coccyx that lurks strangely unprotected between hills of fat.

My placenta is on the front, which apparently means that I have a greater chance of a posterior presentation, where the baby comes out face up instead of face down. This is known as back labour, can take ages and be more painful so I am keen to try to encourage the foetus to turn around. The midwife told me that there is nothing I can do about it and it will probably be ok in the end. However, I have a doula friend who suggested a few things that I am trying now. One is lying on my front with the aid of carefully positioned cushions to create a space for the bump, another is to do things on all fours, so the kitchen floor is looking a bit better than usual. I also asked my lovely shiatsu lady if she could help and she is very positive that there are pressure points that will work if need be. I know someone who’s engaged posterior baby was rotated and she swears that shiatsu did the trick, so I am quite reassured that all will be well, but I’d rather take an active approach to it than the midwifes wait and see.

I braved evil Mothercare again to check out mattresses and picked up their catalogue, which is actually very useful, if you can bear references to ‘Baby’s this and Baby’s that’. I also got a free guide to pregnancy and babies from Boots which is good for planning what I actually need rather than what I am told I need by Boots and Mothercare.

People often ask me if I want a boy or a girl, I don’t mind either way but I think that I would worry less about a boy and could dress a girl up. My boyfriend says that I could dress a boy up too but we agree only with consent. ‘Come on Tarquin, put your nice fairy princess outfit on for mummy’, ‘but mum, I want to play with my riot police action figures with realistic spring loaded batons’….

Week 28 – Pets

Round about week 14 my cat started to lose the plot. She was a rescue cat who had turned nasty after her previous owners had a baby and it took me a year to turn this evil bag of venom into your more traditional, sit on what you are trying to read cat. I think that I must be stinking of hormones and she thinks she will be thrown out again. She started to lick all her fur off and wee in a certain place in the hallway. I took her to the vet to check that she is physically ok, she is fine but nutty, so it’s a course of antidepressants for her until she gets used to the idea of sharing her house. The drugs stopped her licking herself bald but she wouldn’t stop marking her territory until I ripped the carpet up after weeks in heavy rubber gloves using various things to get rid of the smell. I can still smell it but other people say they can’t. You can never rely on people to tell the truth though, for example ‘Oh what a beautiful baby’ isn’t always strictly accurate.

My cat isn’t a baby substitute, and she is not mummy’s little darling but I am the only person she does not consistently scratch so I am worried about how she will take to sharing me. I also keep a few chickens and she was ok about their arrival, but I have never carted them around the house all day in a sling and I have no intention of breastfeeding them. Hopefully I can bribe her to be a nice cat with tins of cat food and a bit of fussing. A friend said that once she realises that she won’t be thrown out with the baby’s bath water she might calm down a bit.

This week I was given a moses basket and loads of baby clothes. I have also been promised loads of other goodies including a car seat and a changing mat so the worry about what to get for the sprog is all over. Unfortunately, none of this stuff is coming with a maternal instinct. I do suspect that when the time comes my baby will be the only one in the world and I will get a bit more interested in babygrows, but at the moment it’s just a waiting game. I am avoiding the neighbours so I don’t have to have conversations about their 28 day labours, hundreds of stitches and lengthy recovery periods. Basically, now I am over the panic, I have decided that this pregnancy thing is dull and takes far too long.

Week 27 – The Birth I Want

This week I have been reading a book called ‘Have the Birth You Want’ by Gill Thorne. The childbirth I want features heavenly choirs, jacuzzis, iced champagne, a selection of tasty nibbles and a spotless house (rather larger and more opulent than this one). To alleviate the slight discomfort I will feel I would like a doula, an acupuncturist, and a shiatsu practitioner. The midwives will be tame and compliant and will clean my house between contractions. My boyfriend will be doting and gaze at me in unashamed admiration. After the baby is born I want a flat stomach and I’ll keep this chest size thank you very much. The baby of course will be a delight to have around and will enjoy changing its own nappies by the time it is 2 months old. Anyway, back to reality, the book is very good and does not reprimand those who do not want to give birth in a field surrounded by chanting druids. It’s got lots of good advice about being assertive and staying in control of the situation as much as possible.

I went to see the midwife this week and explained that I am currently more scared of drugs and side effects that I am of pain, though as I have never done this before I am remaining open minded about drugs. I also feel really uncomfortable in hospitals – all the plugs are too high up on the walls, they smell funny and they are full of sick people. So I need this pregnancy to be nice and simple so I can have it at home, this is fine as long as my pregnancy continues to be uneventful. I also said that I wasn’t too impressed with the ante natal class I went to as it was a bit pro drug and she said that it is what people usually want.

Week 26 – Maternity clothes

I now have just two pairs of trousers that fit me and one pair only fits under the bump, leaving a sack of spare fabric between my legs that reminds me of being forced to wear tights that didn’t fit as a child. It is time to go shopping. ‘The Ultimate Personal Pregnancy Planner’ from the Huggies Club (free with some crappy magazine) suggests 8 key pieces, including an ankle length bias cut dress, a pretty cardigan and a pair of mules. Just the thing for defrosting the freezer, planting potatoes and scrubbing cats wee off the hallway carpet. Aren’t mules things that carry old men up Spanish mountains? How could I get them through the cat flap and what would the neighbours say? My lifestyle is possibly not that of a Huggies Club mum to be.

Before the bump I used to be a big fan of H&M so this week I went to the ‘mama’ department. It’s very good for cheap and long t-shirts and they seem to always have a sale on. They also have a secret stash of maternity/nursing bras that aren’t too bad, especially for 8 quid. I looked in Dorothy Perkins but it was all a bit office wear and Mothercare was just too grim to contemplate, I am 35 years old and I do not want teddy bears on my clothes. My hot tip for very cheap pregnancy clothes that really are practical is Primark size 18 to 20. In my social circle we pronounce it ‘pree marche ey’ to make it sound posh and exclusive. Large stretchy trousers cost £8 or thereabouts. I know I will hate them after wearing them constantly for the next 3 months and beyond so I resent spending anything over that. I am not letting myself look at the other end of the market in case an ankle length bias cut dress seduces me. It is bizarre buying clothes now as I no longer care how fat I look, I just want something comfy with a bit of stretch in it, without teddies please.

Week 25 – Cots

Oh god, there’s a bloody great baby inside me! I thought I’d better think about getting somewhere for this thing to sleep when it no longer sleeps inside me. Whatever it is it will be placed next to the bed, as the idea of having to get out of bed and clamber through the minefield of clothes, books, cat, phone etc. that lead to the room that could, I suppose, be a nursery somehow does not appeal to me. My mother recommends getting it something small as babies like to feel enclosed when they are new. I am quite fatalistic about the whole shopping for the baby thing and I decide to buy the cheapest safest thing that kisses me on the nose first. Although I intend to get something secondhand I have toyed with the idea of going to Mothercare to look at new cots. I am allergic to the place though, it’s both sinister and fluffy at the same time so I try the wonderful Internet and decide to leave it for a month or two as its all getting a bit too real to deal with now.

Fascinating fact of the week; a chicken is ready to lay eggs when you can fit two fingers between her bum bones. According to Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin (the book I am reading as an antidote to the awful ante-natal class) a woman is big enough to get a baby out when you can fit a fist between her bum bones. So, we are only two fingers wider than a chicken. Hmm.

Week 24 – NHS ante natal class

I went to the local clinics ante natal class today and it was awful. There were about 12 pregnant women there at various stages. Today’s session was about pain relief, the options are – TENS, pethedine or an epidural. I got a dirty look from the midwife when I said that if you went for an epidural you would be handing over your labour to the medical staff and you would lose control of the situation. I asked if you had a bigger chance of splitting or tearing with an epidural and 2 members of the group giggled embarassedly, apparently you don’t mention that kind of thing. Nothing about any alternatives at all and I thought if I mentioned that I was going to try shiatsu I would sound like a middle class hippy. This was obviously not the place to trade placenta recipes.

One of the midwives told us that if you look at your baby when you are breastfeeding your milk will come down easier because ‘you love your baby’. ‘What if you don’t love your baby?’ I ask. Shocked faces from the midwives who have never known this to happen. Now I know people who haven’t bonded with their babies straight away, and I think it’s entirely reasonable to not instantly fall in love with someone who has caused you 9 months of discomfort and stretched you out of all recognisable proportions, inside and out.

I asked the group who was going to try for a home birth and none of them were, it was straight to hospital for the lot of them and one even asked about elective c sections. When asked I told them that I wanted a home birth because the chances of intervention were much lower according to my research – blank faces – what does intervention mean? The message the session put across was that pain in any shape or form was bad and that drugs and intervention are good. This was so re-inforced that one woman kept making faces when the word labour was mentioned – the word itself is now locked to the idea of unbearable pain for her now. I am fully aware that I may not be able to have a home birth and I am very open minded about pain relief, I will do what I have to do at the time. However, I want to keep my options open and going straight for heavy duty drugs and handing over your nether regions to the ‘professionals’ is not my idea of keeping my options open.

Week 23 – Maternity pants

This week I buy whale pants, otherwise known as M&S pregnancy knickers. They come in over bump, under bump and thong. The idea of a whale wearing a thong is quite ridiculous to me but the lady behind the counter tells me they are very popular, possibly with women who have nice bums who never turn to face their partners, ‘look darling, I’m still attractive from the back’.

I get my normal size 16 (under bump) and they have got a lot of room for growth in the bum. This makes me feel almost skinny until I measure myself and discover that my ‘waist’ is 40 inches wide.

Week 22 – Vagueness

I feel stoned. I hadn’t recognised that it is like that until someone suggested it, but yes, stoned is a really good way to put it. I am the vaguest person alive, quite capable of standing and staring at nothing for ages and I can’t do more than one thing at a time. I find it really frustrating, it’s like being prematurely senile. Leaving messages on peoples ansaphones is dangerous as I end up laughing at my total inability to express myself ‘I’ve called to borrow the oojymaflip, the thing with the wotsits, that you use for the hamster, no, I don’t mean hamster, I mean….’

I used to do this but even though I had forgotten the name of the oojymaflip, there was still a picture of it in my head. Now there is nothing, a void with the occasional nugget of information about pregnancy. This is fine as long as I don’t try to make any decisions or have a conversation with anyone. A friend I haven’t seen for a year came to visit and laughed at me agonising over strawberry or apricot yoghurt, this is not like me at all. The ‘me’ bit of myself is being assimilated, or flushed away to make room for the more important being that I am carrying around. I am no longer the boss of my own mind.

Yesterday I was wandering aimlessly around IKEA, trying not to buy anything, humming to myself and rubbing my bump when I bumped into a woman at a similar stage of pregnancy who was also walking around in a daze, humming a little tune and rubbing her bump. Is it universal?

Week 21 – Anomaly scan

I had a scan today and all is well, though the womb lodger took some persuading to show anything but its head for the first 2 goes. The nurses kept sending me out to drink more water/wee a bit/eat some sugar/walk around until it moved. It’s so strange feeling it move and seeing it on the screen at the same time. We got loads of pictures including one of its face – it is an alien and it has my chin.

We didn’t want to know what sex it is and it didn’t want to tell. I am pretty sure it’s a boy though, only a boy would keep kicking the same place over and over again for hours, I’m sure a girl would get bored and explore somewhere else or conjugate some verbs or something. I still have high hopes for a puppy.

My garden is screaming for attention. I have read that digging is bad for the stomach muscles when pregnant. I am using a hand trowel on my hands and knees and it is not doing my back much good. I decide to dig a bit but not overdo it, and find out that doing stuff on your hands and knees is a good position anyway.

Week 20 – Maternity bras

I don’t usually wear bras, I hate the feeling of restriction. However, I am now a 38 or 40 c or d so the time has come to buy one. Also a friend bought me a beautiful top that needs something underneath so I don’t fall out of it.

I went to Mothercare, Debenhams and M&S. The only options are non underwired or maternity and they are all HUGE, I mean really really big, about a meter of fabric for each cup! Why do they have to look as though they are built for old people? They are granny bras. I realise that they have to support but I’m sure its possible to support and look feminine at the same time. I was looking forward to feeling good in my new top but if I had bought one of those bras I would have felt hideous. They are also all white. Nothing in my house stays white for more than a day. What I really want is something constructed like the Sloggi ones that you slip over your head but they don’t go to a big enough size now. Or, even better, something like that but that fastens at the back, like a bikini top (haven’t explored them yet) but in a colour, not black or white. Also, I don’t know quite how big I am going to get so I don’t want to invest lots of money in a disgusting garment I will hate wearing.

Week 19 – Heartburn and spots

I think I have traded exhaustion for heartburn. I still live a cat like existence, without the licking my own bum and crapping in inopportune places elements. I sleep for a few hours each afternoon and take long long baths. I was lying in bed last night, trying to ignore my heartburn when my stomach started to rumble. Thing is, it didn’t rumble where it used to, it was rumbling above my tummy button! This wasn’t unpleasant, just really weird. I think all my organs have shifted out of the way of the alien invader.

My face is covered in little red spots, none of which come to anything. It is also really dry. I am using a Neutrogena moisturiser which is for really sensitive skin and I have tried almond oil and Vaseline but nothing seems to help. I don’t use soap on my face at all. Could it be something I am eating? I feel great in myself so am not that bothered but it just does not feel comfortable. I try extreme cleanliness using 3 in one wipes 5 times a day and lots of thick moisturiser and that seems to help though I am still blotchy.

A spoonful of yoghurt, a glass of soya milk and keeping my head higher than my body helps with the heartburn thought not much.

Week 18 – First movements and amnio results

It’s fine, it’s fine! I just found out at 4.30 today, 16 days after having the amnio and everything is fine, foetus is dancing in delight! In retrospect, although waiting for the results was awful, and I was worried about the increased risk of miscarriage, the whole amnio experience was well worth it. I am now much happier than ever before, and feel I can relax into being pregnant rather than spend all my time going through different horrid scenarios. I realise that it may all go horribly wrong still but I am just not worried about it.

The foetus is busy beating me up from the inside. It feels like I am being prodded repeatedly and mostly happens when I sit up. I know it’s a really active baby from the last ultrasound at 16 weeks. I had thought that movements were supposed to feel gentle at this stage, cute even.

Also, I keep pulling the ligaments at the sides of my body, the ones that run from the inside of the hips to the side of the uterus. It happens when I roll from my back to my side in bed at night and the pain goes pretty quickly. I did think this was ok but then went and read something that said you should report all pain below your belly button. Literacy is not all its cut out to be and I don’t bother the midwife with it.

Week 17 – Waiting for amnio results

Ugh, 8 days after the amnio and I am having kittens every time the phone rings as I am expecting the hospital to call me with the results. I am trying to reassure myself that it had nice long legs on the scan and that short legs are a downs syndrome thing but I am basically a very worried woman.

Basically I am a mess every time the phone rings. I have been looking up ultrasound indicators of Downs Syndrome and my foetus had none of them so I should be reassured but as my middle sister was a one in thousands chance of being Downs I just don’t trust statistics.

I have even looked up abortion information as I want to know what I might put myself through. I think I am being depressed in advance so as to prepare myself for the worse. If I wasn’t pregnant I’d just go out and get drunk and forget about it, I am making marmalade instead and it just doesn’t take my mind off it.

Week 16 – Anmiocentesis experience

I had an amniocentesis this morning and this is what happened: I lay on a couch and exposed my expanding stomach so the consultant could scan the foetus and take some measurements (all normal). My boyfriend came to hold my hand and we had a great view of bones and skull and he heart pumping away etc. It’s moving around like a mad thing and jumps when I laugh.

The consultant and midwife put on sterile gloves and wiped my stomach with disinfectant before putting the needle in. This happens with the scan still on so they can chose the best place to go in. The needle was uncomfortable – like giving blood but didn’t hurt. The consultant started to wiggle it around and got about an inch in but the uterus contracted and the foetus moved. Apparently this is fine and normal, but it was weird for me ‘cos it felt like period pain and it has been a long time since I had a period. I asked if they used longer needles for fat people and there was a brief silence until the consultant asked for a bigger needle and went in from the other side that’ll teach me. This was like a dull ache until he warned me that there would be a jab and that I must not flinch – this hurt when it went through the uterus, but not so much that I moved at all. The needle goes in first and then pulls back to reveal a blunt tube so as soon as it is through it is safe if the foetus.

Afterwards I went to the loo and then sat down for 5 minutes and had a cup of tea. The midwife told me that the results would take a couple of weeks and told me to call if I had any leaking of fluid or bleeding from the vagina. She said I could take paracetamol for cramp if I had any and that it was normal if I did. Also, bad news – no sex for 2 weeks as orgasm can make the uterus contract.

It’s now midday and I had this done at 9.30. It feels uncomfortable – like a bruise, but definitely not like cramp. I feel like someone has rummaged around inside me.

It’s now 9pm and my tummy still feels a bit disturbed but not anything near pain that would need a paracetamol.

Its’ now 24hrs since the amnio and I feel ok, a bit twingy but my stomach has gone back to its old flabby self and doesn’t feel as stiff as it did yesterday. I slept really well last night with happy dreams. I am not sure if the twinges are the uterus being tetchy or the foetus moving, but it is no where near painful – its just that I am conscious of it. No bleeding or fluid discharge either so it feels like its all going to be ok.

Week 15 – constipation

For the first time in my life I am getting constipation. I have forgotten what period pain feels like so I am worried that I am feeling cramps and it is nothing to do with constipation. I have a rough idea where my uterus is and the pain is sort of at the top of it and behind it. However magic bran flakes from LIDL sort me out and I am back to normal within days.

Week 14 – Exhaustion

All of a sudden I look really pregnant! I’m sure I didn’t eat that much Xmas pudding.

I was hoping to be able to get some work in the 2nd trimester but I am still exhausted. I went for an interview today at 10am (didn’t get the job) got home at 1 and had to go straight to bed ‘cos I could hardly stand up. I am hardly burning the candle at both ends, I am eating well and getting gentle exercise. I was relying on being able to work for a few months for the money, and I am wondering if I could get incapacity benefit or something ‘cos I really can’t see myself having the energy to do a full days work. I decide to give it a couple of weeks and see how I feel.

Week 13 – Why I cancelled the CVS

This week I cancel the Chorionic Villus Sampling after researching it in depth. It has only been used for about 25 years so I worry about the long term effects of having a bit of your placenta taken out when you are forming. Also, it seems that less people are trained to do a CVS and the risk factors are very dependent on the person who carries out the procedure. The hospital won’t tell me individual rates for each doctor, just an overall 2% risk for the hospital itself. Then I start to get really bad feelings about the whole thing. If I have to have an abortion because something is wrong with the foetus it’s going to be awful no matter when it happens, but better to have it later and cause more trauma to myself than to live with the potential of miscarrying something that is perfectly healthy. I decide to sleep on it and see if any revelations come to me in the night and I get woken up by a drunk yelling ‘no, no, no’. I take that as a sign.

Week 12 – No more nausea!

The nausea has vanished and I have a life back hooray! It’s such an enormous relief to get through the first 12 weeks ok but I keep waking up at night thinking ‘s**t, I’m pregnant, oh s**t, I don’t like babies’

Next trauma for me is a CVS next week, I don’t think pregnancy is for people who worry 🙂

Week 11 – I went out of the house

I feel an awful lot better than I did a couple of weeks ago.

It really did feel like the morning sickness was never going to end but last week the dizziness went and I haven’t been sick for days now. I realise it may come back but I am sure I am over the worse of it now.

We went out for a friends birthday meal and the restaurant owner gave me a tiny portion of a starter I fancied, a lovely banana smoothy and wouldn’t accept any money for it ‘cos I ‘hadn’t had a meal’.

Week 10 – Testing alternatives

I went to chat to the consultant today about tests for downs taking boyfriend with me as back up brain.. Untested, my risk of having a downs baby are 1:365. The choices I have are:

  • Nuchal scan and blood test combined (OSCAR) at 10 weeks (not free on NHS so costing £170) – this will give me an assessment of the risk that the foetus has downs but is not conclusive and results can be misleading (10% error rate)
  • Blood test at 15 weeks – same as OSCAR but 70% effective at picking up downs
  • CVS at 11+ weeks – carries 1% risk of miscarriage but the results are definate – results back in 3 days for initial assessment then a wait of a week for the confirmed results, also there is some documentation about foetal deformities if done badly.
  • Amnio at 17+ weeks – carries a 1% risk of M/C and results take 3 weeks.

My original thinking is to go for the blood test and think about a CVS depending on the results, but when I find out that the blood test is not that accurate I opt straight for the CVS, I need to know conclusively if it is ok.

I have booked in for a CVS on week 13 – 3 weeks away. I decided that I needed definite results as I would terminate if it had downs (sorry if that offends anyone but I have a downs syndrome sister so have close experience of downs kids). The nuchal scan and the blood test seem a bit non conclusive for me.

I have met the consultant who will do the deed but the hospital will not give out figures for each doctor, they say that overall they have a 1% risk of M/C.

My test for diabetes came back negative and the consultant said that excessive thirst is perfectly normal for pregnant women – she also said something about us having more blood in our bodies but I can’t remember the details. Still wish that I could get through the night without having a drink of water as its knock on effect is that I wake up again to wee it out. Joy!

Week 9 – First midwives appointment

The first midwifes appointment. She asked lots of questions about my medical history but didn’t actually check to see that the foetus is alive, they seem happy that I am feeling sick, have sore breasts and am drinking gallons of water. I wake up 2 or 3 times a night because I am thirsty and I feel pretty dehydrated all the time. My blood and wee have been sent off for diabetes tests as there is a lot of it in my family.

Week 8 – Morning sickness

My current list of evil foodstuffs to be banished are:

  • onions
  • fried food
  • oranges
  • tumeric
  • rice

I am just starting to feel a bit better. The only thing that really works for me is keeping my head really still, moving slowly and not trying to do anything much. Sleeping with my head raised up seems to help too.

I tried:

  • ginger – 1 teaspoon grated into hot water, didn’t work
  • crystallised ginger – didn’t work
  • peppermint – a few leaves in hot water, didn’t work
  • travel bands – elastic things that you wear on your wrists that apply pressure to a point supposed to stop nausea – didn’t work but hurt slightly, thus taking my mind off things.
  • dry toast/crackers etc – no use

The only thing that worked for me was banana smoothies – made with banana and live yoghurt and cardamom, apparently the vitamin B12 in the yoghurt is good for nausea and I am still drinking these for breakfast as they are easy to keep down. I find that I need to eat a large breakfast as soon as I get up or I feel rough. Sugary things like cake and biscuits stay down too.

I have been better since I have been taking pregnancy multivitamins, I don’t know if this is to do with the stage I am at or the vitamins but I read that magnesium and zinc are good for sickness. And lastly, my lovely shiatsu lady suggested applying pressure to the top of the head and just below the sternum (not at the same time!) as ways to stop feeling nauseous.

This is probably nothing to worry about, I have no signs of MC – no cramps no bleeding no nothing, I feel nauseous most of the time and dizzy often so all the signs point to things going well. Trouble is that now I have all this time on my hands I have started to think and my thoughts lead to….Is it possible to MC without any symptoms?

Week 7 – Guilty feelings

I was up most of last night thinking that I wouldn’t have wanted to be pregnant if I knew what it was like. I even had bouts of thinking that I wished I wasn’t. I feel terrible for thinking like this, I was so lucky to get pregnant anyway, and I am even luckier to have a boyfriend that is the most supportive person in the world and very happy about it. I think that if I miscarry now it is all my fault for ill wishing it. Its now late afternoon and I feel much happier about the whole thing, but as a professional worrier I am worried about everything – the health of the baby, ectopic pregnancy, droopy breasts…..

I feel like a spoilt brat.

All day morning sickness, that’s what is making me miserable, depressed even. I haven’t been out of the house for 4 days, can bearly make it out of bed and can only do things that don’t involve changing the level of my head, anything else makes me dizzy. I want to be sick but I think the food I am eating is absorbing so quickly that nothing comes up. I am stroppy and just want to be on my own. I am also bored silly ‘cos there is nothing I can do without making my self feel ill apart from read or play on the computer. I am worried that if this goes on much longer I will resent the baby, its starting to make me think things like -‘I don’t even like kids’, ‘what about my freedom’, ‘I can’t afford this’…..I wish my head would just shut up.

I can cope with weeing all the time and being a bit picky about food, but when my sense of smell makes me unable to kiss my boyfriend, it’s awful. I know I don’t appreciate how lucky I am.

Well, I cycled retching into town to get these expensive wristband things for sea sickness. (7 quid!) Thinking where can I puke if I really need to, how embarrassing, people are going to think I am drunk etc… They are a stretchy bit of fabric with a plastic bump that you fit 3 fingers widths down from the crease on each wrist. I had a strange urge for a cheeseburger (I am normally vegan!) then I cycled home and felt slightly better. Now this could be the healing power of a random meat burger or the wristbands may actually work. I hope so, cos the morning sickness has really got me down.

Week 6 – Early pregnancy scan

I panicked and went to the doctor about abdominal pains and got referred the next day to the early pregnancy unit at the hospital, very efficient! So today I went for my first scan, she tried from the outside but couldn’t see anything so she went for the internal, slightly uncomfortable but otherwise fine. I got to see 6mm of a bean shaped thing, with a heartbeat! Funny but it doesn’t make it seem any more real.

All is fine with it, abdominal pains have been put down to hormones and stretching ligaments, and I have to go back to the doctor if I spot or the pain gets worse. It’s nice to know it is just me being neurotic and not anything actually wrong. So it’s good that all is well, but bad that it is another 6 weeks until it is out of the worst of the miscarriage risk, potentially another 6 weeks of nausea, and I have absolutely no excuse to be this fat!

Last night I couldn’t sleep because I felt so sick. I have tried eating before I go to sleep, peppermint and ginger tea, pressing my wrists, throwing up…. ugh Why are we so badly designed? If it was anything other than pregnancy that was making me feel this bad I would go straight to the doctor for some heavy duty drugs to make it stop.

Week 5 – Feeling a bit peaky

I am in a ‘mine is the only pregnancy in the world’ space I think! Hope I grow out of that mind set soon. The midwife won’t see me until nearer week 12, so I am worried that all is going well.

My breasts are less sore, I am really tired and I am kept awake with nausea but I am not being sick (I’m not the sick type anyway) and the period pain type sensations are on and off. If I prod around my tummy I can’t tell any difference but there is a hard point under the fat, it might just be a bit of cake though!

Mid week, constant nausea starts, day and night, it’s a bit better if I drink lots of water so I have something to puke, my normally healthy vegan diet takes a turn for the worse and I survive on burgers and chips. The whole morning sickness thing is incredibly depressing and I feel guilty ‘cos I should be happy that I am pregnant. I keep calling my mother to tell her that I can’t do this, she does the proper mother thing and says reassuring things.

Week 4 – Denial

I decide that my job is just too much for me so I hand in my notice. I have become increasingly exhausted and a bit scatty minded. Then, my period is 5 days late and I am never late. I have sore breasts, and I never have sore breasts. I am really tired and I am weeing a lot. I put off going to the clinic for a pregnancy test as I am sure that it can’t be possible. Eventually my flatmate hands me a test kit and shoves me into the bathroom. It comes out with a blue line that appears really quickly. I shake in the loo thinking ‘s**t, s**t, was this such a good idea, oh god this is for real’. My boyfriend continues to play the guitar and is unfazed by it all! He has been suggesting that I was pregnant for days. I phone my mother to get it over with and she doesn’t believe me, ‘but I really am pregnant’!

Later this week I am still in denial and have to buy another test to make sure that I really am pregnant and not having a phantom. I still get a blue line, so I do another test just in case – blue line again. I start to get cramps, a bit like period pain but not quite, they are very difficult to describe and very worrying.