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BABY ON BOARD Pregnancy updates

19 weeks


Not just a big dinner for once – 18 weeks 4 days

Today I’m 19 weeks! Hurrah. The baby has morphed from a sweet potato to a mango. Much better – I actually like mangoes. For one thing, they don’t look like dehydrated excrement.

This has been an eventful week. I had another midwife appointment to collect the results of a blood test I had ages ago, that checked me for various things, including syphilis, HIV, whether or not I was immune to rubella, and whether or not I was anaemic.

I have not been enjoying my pregnancy hospital visits. St George’s, the goliath teaching hospital just down the road from me in Tooting (so close I can see it over the rooftops from my back garden), is MASSIVE. So massive that for my first appointment, I went to the wrong wing and it took me half an hour to navigate my way to the right place.

Also, it’s old. Like, really old and sad. Like a smelly, neglected sofa that’s been ravaged by dogs. Here are some snapshots from my appointment last week…


I mean, what a place to be born! Welcome to the world baby. This is London. It ain’t pretty.

Anyway, at this appointment, the midwife explained she would be giving me my blood test results, told me my blood group (O positive, very common and unremarkable – sigh) and started looking through some paperwork. Then she looked up:

‘Did Michael our blood specialist contact you about your HIV results?’

No, Michael your blood specialist did not contact me about my HIV results.

‘No,’ I spluttered.

‘Interesting,’ she said, furrowing her brow. ‘There’s something on here I don’t understand.’

Excellent. Just what you want to hear from your midwife ABOUT YOUR HIV TEST RESULTS.

‘Hmm. He’s signed it…’ she went on, staring at the slip of paper. ‘I guess that means everything’s OK.’

I guess that means everything’s OK?

‘Right,’ I squeaked. ‘Um… Could you… maybe… er…’

‘Hmm,’ she said, staring harder, which we both knew was not going to make a blind bit of difference. I thought to suggest she Google whatever was written on the paper, but wondered if that might seem patronising. ‘Let me look on your file on the computer.’

She went over to the screen and started clicking away. The pressure in the room was temporarily relieved that something was now happening. Results would be obtained. It was all going to be OK.

‘I’ve never had HIV before,’ I mumbled, before remembering it wasn’t an ear infection or a bout of flu. ‘I mean, I’ve been tested for everything before a few times and never had anything…’

‘Hmm,’ she continued, scrolling through pages. ‘No, there’s nothing marked on here. NAD. I’m sure it’s fine. Or he would have called you.’

And that was that.

(NAD is another confusing bit of medical jargon, which made my head jerk when a midwife proclaimed it about my first ever urine sample. It means ‘no abnormalities detected’ which is GOOD).

Of course when I got home, I Googled what was written on the paper – HIV 1/2 Ab/Ag, Centaur – low reactivity, ND in VIDAS and Architect…* I tried to unscramble the ridiculously confusing medical terminology, before concluding that they’d run three different HIV tests, one of which had been a bit unusual, the other two of which were negative. I probably don’t have HIV. It was probably a dirty test tube on the first test. Right?

Other than that, this week has been quite nice. I have realised that if I lie on my stomach, the mango doesn’t like it and starts squirming about. Fair enough, I wouldn’t want to have someone of my (new, ever-increasing) weight pressed on top of me either if I was the size of a mango.

This is less like something from Alien that I imagined and actually really rather nice.


The maternity pillow/slug/bed barrier

I have also finally found a use for my surrogate partner maternity pillow. I bullied O into buying me one at around 9 weeks: ‘All the Youtube vloggers’ partners bought them a maternity pillow! You have to buy me one!’, when to be honest I really didn’t need one. When it arrived, we were both a bit horrified. It looks like a giant sausage, and takes up half the bed. It works quite well as an effective barrier between you, but thankfully as O is on tour at the moment I’m alone most nights anyway, and so it makes a good substitute lump to pull the duvet away from. Anyway, this was the week my hips finally started to hurt, and so I wheeled out the maternity pillow and dutifully wrapped my legs around it. It does help, even if the arm that I have to stuff underneath it inevitably goes dead.

Another interesting pregnancy fact: you’re meant to sleep on your left-hand side. Bossy huh? Apparently this way the baby gets more blood. Or something. Something to do with a major artery that runs down your back. Sleeping on your back is now a HUGE no-no and sleeping on your right-hand side earns you a ‘could try harder’ in the ‘doing-the-best-for-your-baby’ stakes.

I also had my first prenatal yoga session this week, which was amazing. The yoga teacher is exactly what you’d expect for a yoga teacher who lives in Richmond and only does yoga for expectant mums and people who’ve recently given birth. She has an awesome name (Bobbie Challenger) and pink hair. I’m a bit in love with her. She also had a homebirth for her first baby. And after my experiences this week, I am now considering the same…

* if anyone reading this knows what the heck it means, you’ll be my best friend forever!

BABY ON BOARD Pregnancy updates

18 Weeks


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.


Spooky headless 18-week bump

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…