Following my first blog on the ups and downs of my second pregnancy, here I am again with an update from the halfway point. (Halfway there already… and yet still 4.5 months to go! Pregnancy is like a time warp. Minutes and hours drag but weeks fly by, you’re FOREVER away from your due date, but you’re so NOT READY).
We had our 20 week scan this week. If you’ve chosen not to find out the gender, as we have done both times, you approach this scan with mixed feelings. On the one hand, unless you are high risk it’s your last chance to see your baby before it makes its way out into the world the hard way but, on the other, you want to preserve that all important surprise so you imagine you will spend half the scan squinting your eyes to try and blur your vision every time the midwife moves the sonograph below the baby’s waist. Which let’s face it, is likely to be fairly regularly given it’s still only 15-odd centimetres long. The reality is quite different. Whilst our baby did appear to be something of an exhibitionist, posing for a series of very clear photographs, the midwife spent plenty of time concentrating on the areas above the waist (brain, heart etc) so the opportunity never really presented itself to catch a glimpse of a little willy flapping in the amniotic breeze, so to speak (or not!). So its dignity preserved, we said our goodbyes and, all things being well, we won’t see the little squiglet again until it’s just popped from between my legs, effortlessly backcrawling its way into the world for us to get a good old-fashioned butchers between its legs to find out what it is.
Although last time, despite all the excitement of the surprise pre-delivery, once I had been through the throes of a 22 hour labour, I still had to be reminded to check what we’d got. Giddy from a cocktail of hormones and relief I triumphantly declared it was a boy, before hastily realising the wee lad’s (rather impressive) tackle was the umbilical cord, and we did in fact have a baby girl. Oops. I am determined to be more switched on and aware this time. But the best laid plans and all that…
What else? The usual aches, pains and fatigue of pregnancy continue, with the added excitement this time around of episodes like last night, when the dear daughter found 2:30am in the morning a perfectly suitable time to sit bolt upright in bed and begin to name everything she could see (and a fair few things she couldn’t see), before launching into a variety of theatrical pronunciations of the word ‘cold’. The excitement lasted until 4:30am at which point, following an intensive round of Peppa Pig (thank goodness for TiVo) she deemed it acceptable to allow us a precious couple more hours of sleep, and today at work I am employing a team of microscopic workmen to scaffold my eyelids open as I do not have the energy or inclination to do it myself.
My previously described pregnancy superpower, a world class sense of smell to make a sniffer dog envious, has all but disappeared due to a potent combination of a lingering cold, pregnancy rhinitis and hayfever.
Glamorous, this pregnancy malarkey. And despite my week 16 paranoia over lack of movement, at 17 weeks I began to feel movements in earnest. I seem to have completely passed by the mystical ‘fluttering’ phase this time however and gone straight to the kicking. This is apparently a child who may lack in subtlety. At 20 weeks, I’m being poked and prodded on a regular basis which is priceless, although there have been a few electric shock moments following a well-placed kick/elbow to the bladder, and I can’t deny that at times it does feel as though the baby is lying perpendicular to my spine, pushing outwards in true Superman (or perhaps Alien?) style. And I already feel HUGE and can only assume that the baby will be cooked at least, ooh, 5 weeks early this time around… I mean, my body knows what it’s doing now, right? And I’m eating enough cake and ice-cream to build a pair of twins, let alone one regular baby. In fact, so alarmed was I at the sheer size of my rapidly expanding midriff (first time around, I was still only mildly swollen around the middle at the halfway point) I even took the measurements noted at my scan to a foetal growth-related internet site to check that I wasn’t in fact having a giant behemoth of a child, and was surprised and relieved to find that the measurements all seemed pretty average, on the whole. In reality, I’ll probably be a week late again and the baby will be a ten pounder.
One of the greatest conundrums of a second time pregnancy is exactly how, and when, to broach the subject of the new arrival with your first born. The temptation is to get them on board ASAP, but I’ve been holding off, aware that the 4.5 months I still have remaining is an actual eternity to my little girl, who is only just getting to grips with the idea of ‘now’, ‘later’ and such huge concepts as ‘tomorrow’. I made my first earnest attempt to have ‘the talk’ with her just last week. It came about as the child, who is obsessed with all types of clot es fastenings (zips, buttons, buckles) was insisting that I zip up my jumper. I can barely get the zip over my bump now so decided it would be an opportune moment to take the plunge and explain just why Mummy’s tummy was getting so big.
After what I felt was a concise, sensitive explanation of the life blossoming inside me that I hoped wouldn’t blow her tiny little mind, I waited expectantly for some kind of questioning. The simple response I received was ‘zip UP Mummy!’ along with a vigorous yanking of said straining zip. Alrighty then. I guess I’ll give it a couple of months and try again. When the zip really is a lost cause.
On the plus side, I’m still feeling remarkably laid back, and can’t help but relishing the small victory that is knowing what’s to come – well, sort of. I know they say no two pregnancies, deliveries or babies are the same but I have the slight advantage of having already had one attempt at those early months of chronic sleep deprivation, the painful first few weeks of establishing breast feeding, and marvelling at the Dulux colour chart that is the first week of a newborn baby’s poos. Will it make it easier the second time? Probably not, especially with a demanding toddler in tow, but having that yardstick will be a comfort in the early hours of the morning when I’m wondering if I’m the only person in the world crying with frustration as I try to get a sleepy, floppy baby to latch correctly for the 46th time that day, after having had precisely 12 minutes of sleep. I can’t help but brandish that knowing look when speaking to first time mums, and I have to hold myself back from spilling all my personal experience, in the knowledge that nothing I have to say can prepare them for the seismic shift their world is about to undergo. And that maybe they’ll have it easier than me anyway, and that all my preparations will have seemed like dramatic exaggeration. So I bite my tongue. And remember that they still have those precious last months of being the centre of their own world ahead of them. I envy them their freedom to sleep, holiday, sleep, attend to their beauty regimes, sleep, have Saturday (and Sunday!) lie-ins – during which they sleep. Or just recline on the sofa or in bed, watching morning TV, eating poached eggs on toast and having their feet rubbed by subservient leprechauns. Then sleeping. I’m not jealous of them though. Absolutely not. Pregnancy fatigue is simply more of an exciting challenge with a busy, morning-happy toddler to entertain. Yup.
They have the whole amazing rollercoaster of firsts to come and in a strange way, I envy them that too. But not completely. Knowledge is a powerful thing, and don’t worry, I’m not keeping it all to myself – some pearls of wisdom just have to be shared. For example, the paramount importance of cake. During every stage of the pre and post-natal journey. The fabulous variety of baby groups that will keep you sane during those early months (even if they’re the ones that are about flagrantly eating cake, rather than actually doing anything with your baby). And how there’s no substitute for a well-fitting pair of maternity jeans. There’s just not. After all, forget the bump – where else will you fit all that cake?