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.
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.
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…