I was meant to write this post on the flight home from our trip to Greece, but as has been the case quite often lately, I was too lazy. So here is my 26 weeks post, a little late.
It turns out, in fact, that 26 weeks is actually six months after all. You’d think, with an A in Maths GCSE that I might have been able to work that one out before, (52 weeks in a year, 26 weeks being half of 52 – DUH) but clearly I read somewhere that 24 weeks was six months’ pregnant and got muddled again. In my defence, I reckon no one actually knows what the hell is going on with pregnancy dating, so you can make it up as you go along if you like. Cos apparently 24 weeks is ‘in your sixth month’, if not six months exactly. Or something.
Anyway, here I am, having been carrying around Chip (as we have nicknamed the baby) for exactly half a year. I know, my bump looks still piddling doesn’t it? I’m not entirely sure it’s growing at all, but have been measuring its circumference with a tape measure weekly (not sure how scientific that is) and can confirm that something in there is getting bigger! My new refrain to Oli in the mornings is ‘do I look pregnant today or fat?’ and he’s mostly answered ‘pregnant’ recently so I feel somewhat reassured.
Apart from my lovely holiday, which was beset by a strange sort of grieving process whereby a voice in my head kept saying things like ‘this is the last time we’ll get on a plane just the two of us’, ‘this is the last time we’ll go out for dinner on holiday alone’, ‘this is the last time we’ll doze by the pool’, life has been pretty awful lately. For reasons I can’t go into, but that have involved lots of serious grown-up meetings and questions about the future. The stress of this situation (which alas I would love to spill my guts about but am unable to) actually resulted in my blood pressure going through the roof, and so at my 24 week check up, I was told by the GP that, seeing as my bump was also measuring small for my dates, I should go and have an emergency scan straight away to check everything was OK.
Thankfully, everything was OK. The baby measured perfectly for the dates and was bouncing around quite happily in my apparently diminutive bump, seemingly oblivious to my woes. The baby was even ‘practising breathing’ as we watched. Who knew they did this?! They ‘breathe’ in amniotic fluid and blow bubbles as they exhale it – as you can see in the pic. Very cool.
Unfortunately, the baby still has my nose, but you know, you can’t have everything. It was a relief that he/she was healthy, but I have been advised to minimise stress (not particularly easy, I have to say) and so I’m trying really hard to take it easy. Thank god for all the bank holidays in May.
In other pregnancy whinges, I have some new symptoms to report. First off, my feet. I should have known, because even pre-up-the-duff my feet used to swell up on aeroplanes, but my feet at the moment (two days post-flight) are huge. Huge and puffy and hot and throbbing. Yesterday I wore normal shoes to work and by the end of the day apparently my feet had decided to go up an entire size, making my shoes unbearably painful. Today I’m in flip-flops and my feet are covered with blisters from yesterday. My mum says this will only get worse (she had my sister in August) as the weather warms up, so that’s something to look forward to *prays for a washout summer*. I never imagined I would lie in bed moaning and whimpering about how painfully HOT my feet were – tis a new one, and a weird one.
The other final symptom has been somewhat disturbing. Upon removing my bra while in Greece, I noticed two tiny yellow stains in the middle of each cup. Yep, I am officially morphing into a human cow. Yet again, who knew? There’s no baby yet, why is there stuff coming out of my nipples already? And also, where the hell does it actually come from? I still don’t exactly understand where the holes are in nipples.
And these are the things that, pre-pregnancy, you never have to even THINK about. Oh those blissful days…
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 at work 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’.
Look, I’m all in a muddle now. I’m 23 weeks today (hurrah!), which I thought meant I had graduated to a butternut squash, but apparently not, apparently (at least according to my Glow Nurture app) I’m on an ear of corn (spiky). Yet the handy chart above says that that’s actually next week, and I am in fact still on a papaya. I’m not trying to cheat, honest. Can we all just agree that the fruit and veg thing is COMPLETELY STUPID AND ANNOYING?
Not much has happened this week except for the following:
1) I have developed acid reflux/regurgitation. This is pretty horrible, especially after my bout of norovirus the other week. Now, after every meal, all the food I’ve eaten seems to decide to jump up and down my oesophagus, despite the fact it’s been very firmly SWALLOWED. Put simply, I keep being sick into my mouth. It’s lovely. Really lovely. The only thing that helps is Gaviscon Double Action (the liquid), which I am getting through tons of. I think it basically creates a seal on the top of your food pipe that keeps the food in your stomach where it belongs.
What’s weird about this is that I don’t feel nauseous at all, but I can’t seem to keep food down. Literally! It’s especially bad in the evenings when I slump on the sofa after dinner. Slumping is bad. Slumping has always been bad, but is now forbidden.
2) The baby has been doing lots and lots of partying in my uterus. And I really love it! Oli got freaked out the other day because you can now actually watch my stomach jumping about. I have yet to see a hand or foot print emerge from under my skin, but there are definite ripples and peaks that appear when the baby moves. I know it sounds kind of gross and horrible, and I always saw it that way before I got pregnant myself, but it’s actually so cute and lovely and really does make me grin. (Apart from when the baby decides to do it at 2.40am and keeps me awake – babies seem to like moving about just when you want to go to sleep, so I’ve realised. Guess this is something to get used to).
Other than that, I thought this week I might have a bit of a rant about maternity clothes. If blue doesn’t suit you and you don’t like wearing stripes, you better adopt. That’s all I can say. ALL HIGH STREET MATERNITY CLOTHES ARE BLUE AND/OR STRIPED. Seriously, it’s like some kind of friggin’ uniform, marking you out. ‘Look everyone! this bird had sex in the last few months!’ There’s truly nothing more depressing than JoJo Maman Bebe’s maternity section – I managed to find a few pieces that didn’t make me want to shoot myself but the lack of imagination involved in designing maternity wear is shameful. And don’t even go into Mothercare unless you want to despair for humanity.
As I’m so vain (as established earlier in my pregnancy) I have been scouring the internet for alternatives to traditional maternity clothes and thus found Seraphine, Isabella Oliver and my absolute favourite, Madderson London. These brands have saved me, but my god they’re pricey. I’ve also bought a load of things in Cos, which has plenty of oversized tops that aren’t maternity but work really well. But I would say 90% of my maternity wardrobe is from Seraphine, who thankfully have really good sales on quite often. Their bamboo leggings are my new favourite things in the world (something weird, is it just me? I really don’t like wearing trousers now I’m pregnant, and jeans especially, even maternity ones – too much constriction around my tummy). And I’ve also picked up a rather yawnsome but practical grey maxi skirt from them which I can see myself wearing all summer until it falls apart.
Anyway to end this post, here’s a pic of me in both the skirt (looking depressingly knackered) and some stripes (conforming). Apologies for the black bra under the white vest top (rant on maternity bras also soon to come) and the massive VPL in both pics (made you look!) but common decency has given way to comfort and I don’t care anymore. I’m pregnant. This is the only time in my life when eating microwave spaghetti carbonara will not make me feel guilty, and when I don’t give two hoots about the state of my underwear. So there.
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.
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.
Deceptive picture – see below for a more accurate representation of the bump!
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.
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 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.
Not so big after all!
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…