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BABY ON BOARD Pregnancy updates

38 Weeks

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Yep, this is what 38 weeks pregnant looks like folks. Ice cream, ice cream and more ice cream (trust me, it’s a more attractive picture than one of me right now). I’ve been obsessed this week and have no idea why – maybe Chip is desperately trying to build up her fat stores? Maybe I’m just a massive pig? Who knows. But Ben & Jerry’s have done well out of me this week (sidenote: Phish Food is still my favourite, mmmm those dark chocolate fishes….).

Anyway, I can officially say now that I’ve had enough of being pregnant. Two of the ladies in my NCT group gave birth last week and for the first time in my life I’m feeling really quite envious! I don’t normally get jealous at all but seeing their excited messages and cute little pictures has made me feel desperate to meet Chip… it’s like waiting for Christmas Day as a child all over again. Except that in the meantime, your feet and hands are constantly swollen and sore, you have non-stop reflux and burping issues (digestion woes are back again – maybe the ice cream is to blame?), your brain doesn’t work properly and real, deep sleep seems like a distant memory…

Alas, Chip shows no sign of turning up any time soon. I had my 38 week check up yesterday and all was totally fine – the GP seemed to think that Chip’s head was 3/5 engaged but I know that doesn’t really mean anything, as heads can be engaged for weeks before birth. I’ve had some strange incidences of period-like pain which have got me all excited, but nothing consistent or lasting very long.

Other than that, we’ve been thinking more and more about names. I had a mini rant on Twitter about the fact that, since Oli and I are not married, we have to choose which of our surnames to give the baby (legally, we could actually give her a totally random surname in fact – one that neither of us have, which is WEIRD). This is now starting to stress me out quite a lot, and I’d love to hear what other unmarried parents have done?

I much prefer Oli’s surname (Darley) to mine (the constant Jack/Vera comments and quacking noises have taken their toll on me over the years) but then I also feel a bit sad about having a different surname from my daughter. It’s really tricky. Getting married is not an option (been there, bought the t-shirt, happily returned it) and changing my name to Oli’s just seems like an odd thing to do. Not to mention a load of hassle. Oli’s said that he’s happy for her to have my surname but then I feel that he’s not really connected with her, which is daft I know… it’s just obviously I am going to give birth to her so I very definitely am. So basically, I’m moaning about a problem that there’s really no solution to – I suppose I just have to get over it.

Also, we have a first name we love, but we stupidly told a few people what it was early on, and I’ve realised now that you mustn’t tell people your baby name ideas until AFTER THE BABY IS BORN. Otherwise people think they’ve got free rein to express their opinion on it, and then you start bloody worrying what other people think, and questioning yourself. Which is stupid because you’re never going to find a name that everyone in the whole world loves. At least once the baby is born and the name is a fait accompli, people usually have the manners to nod and smile politely, and say how delightful it is… (and then slag it off behind your back, but y’know, them’s the breaks).

We’ve spent most of this week on Nameberry, shouting out different options to each other and getting more and more confused. I am now hoping that once Chip is born, we’ll look at her little face and the right name will become abundantly clear. What do you reckon? Otherwise we may end up calling her Chip* for life…

Sigh. Back to the ice cream, methinks.

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38 week ice cream face

*for those that are interested, ‘Chip’ came about from when my pregnancy app Glow told me that Chip was the size of a chocolate chip. I started calling her ‘the chip’ when referencing how she made me feel (nauseous, tired, hungry etc etc) and it stuck. I quite like it as a nickname actually and if she’d been a boy, we really might have considered it…

BABY ON BOARD Pregnancy updates

37 Weeks

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So at 37 weeks pregnant, I am officially full-term! I’d be more excited about this if it weren’t for the fact that I’m now convinced I’m going to go overdue and have to be induced. It’s funny, I’ve swung from being convinced Chip would have to be born early by emergency C-section due to her size, to now thinking I can imagine myself sitting around for 56 hours in the induction suite waiting for something to kick off. As ever, pregnancy constantly reminds you how little control you have over any of it.

It’s been a relatively peaceful week really, so not much to update today. The main thing I’ve noticed this week is just how fat I’m getting – I had my hair done yesterday and was quite surprised to see how many chins I had when staring at myself throughout the appointment. I think it’s mostly water retention/puffiness but it’s quite odd to look at yourself and realise how different you look from how you think you look. I’ve also noticed I now have some lines/rings around my neck – they’re not very obvious but they definitely weren’t there before. Again, I’m hoping it’s just from the puffiness and they will disappear after Chip’s arrived but still… great for the self-esteem. (Yes I am aware how painfully vain all this sounds!)

The monster feet continue to be a nightmare, as soon as the temperature gets above 21 degrees they just seem to bloat up. The only solution is keeping them elevated but this means I can’t really do anything apart from sit in bed with my laptop. But while I sit here I have an overwhelming desire to clean and tidy and DO things, so it’s quite frustrating. I have realised what a terrible disabled person I would make, if I can’t even cope with having temporarily swollen feet.

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Never imagined I could get excited by one of these…

This week I also ordered a breastfeeding chair with footstool. These are the ugliest things on the planet but there’s not really anywhere that comfortable at home for me to sit at the moment – the sofa is too squishy and gives me backache, and spending so long in bed makes me feel like an invalid. I’m VERY excited about this hideously ugly chair and am hoping it will cheer me up a lot, and also, you know, be quite useful for breastfeeding once Chip’s here. It’s arriving today – hurrah!

And finally, something very odd happened this week. I was sitting watching TV on Monday night and I realised my bra was really uncomfortable. My boobs felt kind of hot and throbby. Anyway I took my bra off, only discover one side was completely soaked through with a kind of watery substance. Sorry, really TMI I know! I was quite shocked as before I’d only had tiny bits of yellowish discharge. This was a whole other league – like I’d poured a (small) cup of water in my bra.

I immediately got excited and hoped it was a sign of imminent labour, but sadly Dr Google says it doesn’t mean anything. Just another joy of late pregnancy! Next up? The appearance of a bloody mucusy ‘show’ apparently… Delightful, I can’t wait!

BABY ON BOARD Pregnancy updates

36 Weeks

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Officially over 11 stone now. You’d never guess right?!

Oh god, there is SO much to say at 36 weeks. Apologies in advance, I think this might be a long one so do bear with me (or don’t, feel free to bugger off and spend your time doing something more productive…).

In my head, this week somehow seemed to be the week everything was leading up to – the week of my final scan, the week by the end of which I would be officially ‘full term’, and also the week where I got to see a midwife for my check up, rather than my GP.

So first off, we had the scan yesterday. We saw a different sonographer AGAIN (meaning I think I’ve seen seven in total!) but she was perfectly chirpy and nice, and spent a good five minutes looking through all my paperwork. ‘Goodness me, you do have a lot of blue forms!’ (they give you a print out of your scans on blue paper after each one). So she didn’t really waste any time with preambles and got straight to it.

The upshot of the scan was that Chip is still head down (‘very low’) and still small (no surprises there), but growing on the exact same percentile as before, which is all good. She apparently now weighs 5lb 8oz, which sounds perfectly respectable to me. Although I did read somewhere online that estimated fetal weights are about as accurate as trying to guess the weight of a naked man sitting in a bath in the next room. So, yeah. But still, looking at it positively, she’s put on a fair bit of weight since my last scan at 34 weeks.

All was good with the blood flow and dopplers and amniotic fluid, and the sonographer got quite excited at one point when she was measuring Chip’s tummy.

‘Look at that! Can you see how it’s moving up and down?! That’s her diaphragm practising breathing, and it’s a really good sign. It means her brain is getting so much blood and oxygen that she even has energy in reserves to practise developing those muscles too.’

All this was very reassuring, and cheered me up. The only rubbish bit was that the sonographer was clearly keen to get me done and dusted and outta there, so I didn’t get to see Chip’s face which I was kind of hoping for one last look in utero at (mind you, the head was squashed right down between my legs so maybe a good thing). Scans at 36 weeks are really crap actually, because the baby is so big you can’t see it all in one go, and the bits you can see don’t really look like much.

Anyway, the sonographer seemed all pleased but then she – rather worryingly – popped off her chair and said ‘I’m just going to have a word with the doctor, wait here’ and disappeared for about ten minutes. Of course, we spent those ten minutes comparing notes on what we’d seen on the screen and fearing the worst (Oli and I now both think we’re experts at interpreting the results of all the measurements when, let’s be honest, we have literally no clue what they mean).

But then she came back and said that she just wanted to check with him that they didn’t want to see me for yet another scan, and he’d agreed that THERE WAS NO NEED! HURRAH!

So, I’m all scanned out! The next time I see my baby (fingers crossed) will be when she’s on the other side!

Here are her vital stats at 36 weeks for anyone wanting to compare and contrast…

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You can see here my ‘off the chart’ result for the left uterine artery…

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And here you can see where her AC (abdomen) and FL (leg) measurements dropped down to the lower percentiles halfway through developing…

The sonographer then took me along to book me in for my induction. Because of the issue with the artery gubbins, I am not allowed to go longer than 41 weeks – I think with normal pregnancies they don’t talk about inducing you until after 42 weeks.

My induction date is officially 3 September. I am hoping and praying that Chip puts in an appearance before then, not least because the description of the induction is pretty depressing. Apparently they put a pessary up your wotsit, which ‘ripens’ (YUCK YUCK YUCK) your cervix, and once it’s ripe (YUCK KILL ME NOW) then they break your waters for you, and then they give you shitloads of synthetic oxytocin to start labour off. But the pessary has to stay in for twelve hours, and often doesn’t even work the first time, which means they put another one in, and wait another twelve hours.

Basically the whole thing can take days. She said it can be up to as much as 56 hours before you’re even in labour. And you have to stay in hospital the whole time. And you can’t have a water birth or be in the nice lovely birthing centre. So it sounds like a bloody nightmare, quite frankly.

I did work out that if the worst came to the worst, there’s a chance that Chip could be born on 6 September – which would be exactly seven years to the day since I met Oli. I quite like that idea, even though 6 September seems like an unbearably long time away. We’ve put bets on when we think she’ll be born, and Oli’s gone with 24 August, and I’m sticking to 6 September because somehow weird coincidences like that seem to happen a lot in my life. Time will tell…

Today I had my midwife check up, and was desperate for her to say that Chip’s head was engaged and that she thought she’d be born in the next week or so, as seems to have happened to so many of my friends who had their babies the day before they were meant to go on maternity leave etc. But alas, her head is still ‘free’, which means she’s not in any way ready to be born yet. Boo.

The midwife was super reassuring though, and said my GP was crap to have ‘panicked me’ before. She measured my bump at 34cm, which is completely fine for 36 weeks. She said the heartbeat sounded great, my blood pressure was super low, my urine was fine (HA! this time I had my sample ready – *smug face*). I got some blood test results I’d completely forgotten about and apparently they were perfect, especially my iron levels. She did look a bit sorry for me when I showed her my swollen feet though. I knew I wasn’t being melodramatic about them… *cue violins*.

I told her my boobs were already leaking a bit (sorry TMI) and she almost applauded me and said how great that was, which was nice too. She also said about four times ‘There is nothing wrong with your lovely compact baby!’ which was SO what I wanted to hear. She even taught me how to tell which bits of the baby you are feeling with your hands, which was really interesting. She said the head will always feel rock hard, the back is a long solid curve, and the bottom is, well, bottom-like. She was awesome actually, and I hope she’s on duty when I give birth – she really seemed to be interested in me and the baby. It’s just a shame you don’t see midwives for every appointment, but anyway…

Phew! This is indeed a long one. Luckily, I don’t have many other boring symptoms to share with you this week. Apart from that every night for the past week, I’ve had a different dream about being in labour (guess this is standard for this far along!?). And that I’ve been trying to listen to my hypnobirthing playlist once a day but I keep falling asleep. But if it works like that in labour then I guess it’s no bad thing?!

BABY ON BOARD Pregnancy updates

35 Weeks

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The most flattering photos of me now are those in which my face is mostly obscured. Also; check out the new saddlebags. And: too lazy now to even move the washing out of the way. It’s a slippery slope I’m riding…

I turned 35 weeks pregnant yesterday, and now I am really on a countdown! My due date is 26 August, which is now just over a month away, making it feel all the more real.

I’ve had a very lazy week really – the only thing of note was that we finally made it to our NCT classes. I’ve never been a fan of group activities (I’m not one to form friendships at first sight) and was pretty much dreading the whole thing if I’m honest, but I was pleasantly surprised. The other couples were all perfectly lovely and nice, there were shedloads of biscuits, the atmosphere was very relaxed and although (as I had been forewarned) I didn’t exactly learn much (maybe there’s not much to learn?!) I did feel that the classes focused my mind, and made me really think about what I wanted from my ‘birth experience’.

There’s a space in your maternity notes for your ‘Birth Plan’. I didn’t really intend on filling it in before, because as far as I was concerned there was no point planning anything, because everyone I’ve ever known seems to have been taken by surprise at some point during their ‘birth experience’.

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Shall resist the urge to write: ‘give birth to baby without either of us dying’

But now, I’m going to add two things: I want skin-to-skin contact with the baby as soon as she’s born (no rushing her off to rub her in towels – this way she will hopefully get to know me straight away) and I don’t want the cord clamped immediately, but left to pulsate for ten mins or so (apparently this gives the baby an extra boost of oxygen and iron from the placenta that can really help her in the first few days). Last one sounds a bit new agey but I don’t see how it can hurt so I reckon it’s worth a try. But of course, all this is if I don’t end up having a c-section etc etc.

We also had an NCT breastfeeding session. The highlowlight of this was watching a video of a pregnant lady hand-expressing her own colostrum (the yellow gunk you make before you make proper breast milk). Basically squeezing it out. We have been encouraged to try this in the shower ourselves. I will not be trying this in the shower myself. I figure it will come out of its own accord when required.

The main message I’ve been receiving re breastfeeding is:

IT CAN BE REALLY HARD. IT’S BEST FOR YOUR BABY BUT IT CAN BE REALLY HARD. IT WILL PROBABLY HURT LOTS AND FILL YOU WITH FRUSTRATION BUT YOU MUST PERSEVERE FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR BABY, YOU SELFISH COW.

It’s not exactly filling me with confidence I have to say, and sometimes I wonder if less knowledge is actually better in these scenarios?

Chip-wise, things have been good I think. She’s been moving loads and I can tell she has proper bones now, IYKWIM. When she moves, her little legs, arms, hands and feet feel properly solid inside me. It’s very reassuring. She spends a lot of time rolling her back from side to side and I *think* her head is still down as my tummy hasn’t really changed shape since she moved into position. Fingers crossed. We’ll find out more at my (eighth!) scan next week.

My tummy in general has gone really hard a few times in the last few days, which has been quite a strange sensation – it feels like a rock. I *think* this may be Braxton Hicks, but it hasn’t felt like contractions at all. I’ve noticed it more just bending forward and realising how stiff it feels. So maybe not BH, but if not, what!?

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Better bump pic at 35 weeks + 1. Check out my new M&S (shock!) loungewear. Loungewear is my new favourite thing

Other than that, all I have to report this week is that I am feeling MASSIVE. I can’t be bothered to walk anywhere because I’m so damn heavy (have put on two stone now in total!) that my legs and feet kill, and I look like a whale in all my clothes. My face has gone from relatively podgy anyway to full-on eighty chins and counting and I feel pretty damn unattractive. I’ve lost the pregnancy ‘glow’ (if indeed I ever had it, which is debatable) and now just look knackered from lack of sleep. I’ve had a properly stuffy nose every night which is making me snore (sorry again Saint Oli) and I don’t really have much energy at all. I’m also massively constipated, which is super fun.

So yes, quite anxious to get Chip out sooner rather than later! Two weeks till full term!

 

BABY ON BOARD Pregnancy updates

34 Weeks

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Apologies, this post is a couple of days late as I wanted to wait till after my growth scan, but on Wednesday, I officially turned 34 weeks pregnant. THREE WEEKS TILL I’M FULL TERM! I believe Chip should now be the size of a cantaloupe, but given that she’s a bit of a midget, maybe an unripe one.

I had my 34 week check up with the GP on Wednesday and all was fine – my blood pressure was the same as before, the heartbeat sounded good and strong and I didn’t have any protein in my urine (nice). I still find the whole urine sample thing rather horrible – each time I go to the doctor’s she asks me if I’ve got one with me, but she’s never given me a pot in advance, so I always have to mumble my apology for not being prepared, grab a pot from her and scuttle off to the (rather disgusting) toilet. Should I bring it in an old jam jar or something?! Do people usually have urine-sample pots at home?!

I KNOW that GPs naturally do not find dealing with urine in any way awkward but I still find it super embarrassing having the carry the bloody thing back through the corridor and hand it to her, so I always wrap it in a tissue, as though to protect its modesty. This time I even apologised to her for the colour… ‘Sorry, it’s first thing in the morning, I’m a bit dehydrated…’ Cringe.

God knows what I’m going to be like when faced with the poonami phenomenon my friends have told me about.

Anyway, all was fine! And then she measured my bump, and it was measuring a whopping 29cm! Still 5cm behind what it should be, but still, a good amount of growth for the past few weeks. I felt like I’d got an A* in some very important test.

Yesterday was my growth scan however, which was what we were really hoping for good news from. We saw a different sonographer again (this is a bit of a shame, I do wish we could see the same person every time) but the news was really good! Chip has grown quite a lot in the past two weeks, her head is the perfect size, she’s still lightweight but her estimated weight this week was 4lb 10, which is a massive increase from last Friday when she was apparently 3lb 15. Oli’s a bit cynical about the whole scan measurement thing now, because some of it does seem rather unbelievable (can she REALLY have put on that much weight in only six days?!), but I’m focusing on the positive and the fact that she’s still doing well in there. It’s such a relief!

Best of all, she was moving loads and even punched the Doppler thing with her fist at one point, which the sonographer said was a good sign of brain development. She also told us that you can have a massive chubby baby with very little fetal movement and they would consider them to be more at risk than a skinny baby who’s showing lots of signs of life. Chip gets hiccups ALL THE TIME now too, which is also good (if annoying for me), and on the scan she was practising her breathing so much that the sonographer had a hard time measuring all the various blood flows accurately. But the main thing is, all looks fine at the moment – she’s a small baby but she’s growing. And I’m now starting to come back to the idea that I’ll be allowed to go to full-term and have a natural birth! We have another scan at 36 weeks, which I am now looking forward to, rather than dreading.

It’s interesting because for the past two weeks I’ve definitely been taking it a LOT easier and hanging about at home a lot, trying not to get stressed about stuff, and generally just eating loads. And watching loads of crap TV. And clearly it’s paid off… I can see why in medieval times women went into ‘confinement’ while pregnant. Perhaps this is something we should bring back?!

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Check out my monster hands and puffy arms and face. I’m sort of turning into a middle-aged man

Other than that, symptoms wise, I’ve had quite an easy week. My back has been hurting less as I’ve been trying to stay at home more and not do ridiculous all-day days out. The only thing that persists really are my swollen feet and hands – I showed the doctor my weirdly bright red and white palms on Wednesday and she said this is quite normal. It’s called palmar erythema apparently and should go away after Chip’s born. My hands do really hurt in the mornings though and I can no longer wear any of my rings, as my fingers are so fat, which I miss!

I’ve also developed some teeny tiny little red bumps on my tummy and under my armpits – kind of like skin tags but titchy and bright red. Apparently these are called cherry angiomas and are benign, but they’re quite painful when they catch on my bra. I sort of want to cut them off but suspect that may not be the best idea…

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And a nice note to end today’s update on – this week I washed my teddy bear from when I was a child. I LOVED him so much – he was very much my favourite toy. He even came to uni with me. I’ve had him ever since I can remember but have no idea who gave him to me (note to self: ask Mum). I put him in the machine slightly nervous that he’d fall apart (given that he’s at least 30 years old now) but he came out beautifully, and I can’t wait for him to sit next to Chip in the cot. I love the fact he has a big head and a tiny tummy, just like her at the moment. Makes me all sniffy and teary it does!