You know what’s scaring me more than anything else today? The frequency of these blogs. No sooner have I written one and sent it off to Janine for publication than I seem to be starting another one. They’re every 4 weeks! Nothing is going to make you feel the rapid whoosh! of time like a monthly reminder that you’re getting closer to your due date. (A due date which, incidentally, I did actually manage to forget for a couple of weeks, such is the deteriorating state of my baby-fuddled brain. Sigh).
I started to write this blog post at 31 weeks after a tough week-and-a-half struggling with my toddler, A. and her ever-increasing sense of independence. I deleted it as it turned into a rather introspective and paranoid ramble on the potential failings of my parenting but it brought home one resounding fact – unlike the first, this pregnancy has not been all about me. It has not even been all about the baby. It has for the most part, been about A, which I’m sure is perfectly normal for a second pregnancy but it puts into perspective the monumental challenge that parenting two children will be. I worry about being there enough for both of them and not neglecting one in favour of the other, but I know at times it will be inevitable and I’m grateful that I have my other half as well as a generous support network of grandparents and family to help me through it. The time as a single-child family is flying by and I’m trying to relish my evenings where I still, for the most part, get to sit with my husband, feet up, TV on, cake in hand (or resting on bump), being amused by my little squiglet as it rumbles and jiggles its way enthusiastically around my interior.
As for said baby, well what can I say. After weeks of laid back activity it seems to have become a tiny drunk delinquent. Hiccupping, flailing about all over the place; I’m sure I’ve heard burping coming from my interior. At precisely 31 weeks and 1 day, which, incidentally fell the day after A’s 2nd birthday, a full-scale riot took place in my belly. My diminutive resident was either very excited, possibly about the leftover birthday cake I was downing in front of the Great British Bake Off, or very angry – it’s possible it had overheard A’s excitement at her favourite birthday present (a toy lawnmower) and wanted a piece of the action. Having one child obsessed with lawn maintenance is strange enough but two? I suppose I can look forward to a family landscape gardening business in the future if nothing else. As I lay in bed trying to ignore the raucous celebrations taking place inside me, I decided maybe the baby would be early this time, after all. Judging by the regular headbutting that seemed to be occurring in a downwardly direction it struck me that this baby might be ready for the world pretty soon. It can hear the fun it’s missing out on and is impatient to get involved!
And just a week later came the first twinges of my body preparing for actual labour. Last night in fact, as I turned the corner from 31 into 32 weeks. The toddler was having a rare night-time waking episode (after almost two years of regular wakings she’s sleeping through most nights now – just to mock us I think, as we head inexorably towards a new baby and the associated sleepless nights) so she was in our bed, somehow making a super kingsize feel small despite her diminutive stature as she wriggled and writhed. And I was having quite painful period cramps, every few minutes. Braxton Hicks contractions? I didn’t get them until very late on with my first pregnancy so it seemed unlikely, but I was carefully trying to feel my bump without disturbing A – judging relative bump hard-ness in the wee small hours with a toddler nestled in your armpit is not the easiest of tasks, I can tell you. I started timing the pains (I refused to call them contractions) and by now was wide awake, absolutely ravenous, worrying that if this was early labour, I might not have had enough to eat, and would my parents mind me ringing them at 5.00am or could I hang on until morning and deliver A safely to nursery, before delivering B so to speak?! It was all completely irrational as I still have almost two months to go, but I couldn’t stop thinking about soap births which always seem to come at around 7 months – it seems to be the socially acceptable amount of premature-ness – no-one in Eastenders or Hollyoaks ever carries to term. Maybe they don’t have big enough pillows to put up the actresses’ tops. Plus I think I could hear the baby clicking.
My mind was so busy whirring with timing contractions, dramatic soap story lines and clicking babies that when I eventually did fall asleep I had a vivid dream about giving birth to a boy the very same day. (My husband named him Charlie – I was a bit put out as I didn’t seem to have been involved in the decision). I was distressed as my dreaming brain didn’t fill in the gory details so it seemed as though I’d actually managed to miss the birth of my own son. (To be fair though, we were also at war with Italy and Australia in the dream and were experiencing the mother of all tropical storms so I guess it wasn’t that realistic). I woke up feeling disorientated and unsettled, and morning was so plagued by confusion I forgot to put shoes on A. so she was forced to be ‘that kid’ who has to wear the nursery wellies (she was actually quite pleased as she does love a pair of wellies). Oops.
All in all, it’s been a good week. All the annoying pregnancy niggles seem to have eased off, I am officially on the countdown to finishing work, and the baby has been entertaining me and making me giggle with its in utero antics. Just the last couple of days it’s quite obviously having a growth spurt – it explains my sudden hunger, and the fact my bump feels rock hard as it’s obviously not expanding quickly enough to suit my rapidly expanding bundle. It may also explain the random pains – apparently I still have a fair amount of stretching to do. Just when I thought I couldn’t get any bigger.
But I can’t help but feel like this baby might actually, maybe, come along a teeny tiny bit early. I won’t let myself believe it and resolutely add 2 weeks onto everything birth-related in the knowledge that due dates are a guideline more than a certainty – every one of the 8 days I went overdue with A. (and a fair few of the days before she was actually due) felt like a lifetime as I waited for her to arrive and I’m not making that mistake again. But in my blasé assumption that the wee one might not be here until 17th November I have possibly neglected the notion that it could, in fact, be a bit early. Not this early though, please – we haven’t even bought a car seat yet.