17 weeks today*. Crazy to think. I’m still in that hinterland of wondering if this pregnancy will “stick”, and trying to disguise my growing belly. At the moment, I look properly pregnant in casual clothes (ie fitted tops and maternity jeans with a belly band) and just fat in work clothes (the few clothes that still fit me, because they’re loose). I have bought a few maternity dresses, but I don’t feel comfortable wearing them yet (possibly ever… They’re a bit horrendous!) as I’m not “out out” at work. (*It’s after midnight so: yesterday!)
Anyway, lots of updates so here are some vignettes.
“We were getting on so well!”
So this week I had my first appointment with the consultant. The NHS (the UK’s National Health Service) gives you a set number of appointments in a fairly standard format. I had my first appointment with the midwife – the “booking appointment” where they ask you loads of questions and get you in the system, and last week I had my first community midwife appointment. So I’m in the system for midwives! Astoundingly, they don’t want to see me again until 25 weeks, so that feels a bit weird. If I didn’t have the private scans and things it would be weeks and weeks between seeing people. As it is, it’s already several weeks between appointments.
But anyway. I meant to show you this… Which is all the palaver you get from the booking appointment. I was quite gobsmacked as it seems like a lot of stuff. I guess it varies from trust to trust (depending on where you live) but I think everyone gets the booklet (the purple thing) which contains all the notes on your pregnancy. Also included was a bunch of stuff sponsored by Bounty (I think it’s a parents’ club, not the chocolate bar!) which included a magazine and a load of information and a folder to keep your stuff in. It also had a sample of Sudocrem (for nappy rash), washing detergent (like we non-parents don’t wash clothes?!) and three packs of pregnancy vitamins, which the midwife told me were “just like Pregnacare”. That saves a bit of money then. (Pregnacare costs quite a lot.)
I thought it’s interesting how you get so much stuff just for getting knocked up. I mean, apart from us infertiles, people do this without a problem all the time. Seems a bit OTT. But I kind of enjoyed reading the magazine. Apparently I’m due four more throughout the pregnancy, so we’ll see.
Anyway, back to the consultant. I turned up, got my urine tested with the nurse – good news, the antibiotics seem to have done the trick and I had no sign of a UTI. Then in to meet the consultant.
We had a great appointment! It was really quite funny as he seemed very sympathetic and we sort of joked around a bit and I enjoyed speaking with him. He was nice when I said I’m apparently obese – he said I looked fine, and then looked up my BMI (31 at last measurement – so much higher than I’ve ever been) and started muttering about how BMI was useless. He was really reassuring and was sympathetic about our loss last year, and it turns out he actually works part time at the hospital where we had IVF! So he was really pleased to hear it had worked. (He wouldn’t have assumed we had gone to that hospital as we have moved area since having IVF and are now quite far away.)
He gave me some tips about scans. Apparently in our NHS hospital, you have to pay for prints of your scans. Annoyingly, they didn’t offer us this option last time. We’ll know for next time. He also advised us to go and get a 3D scan (“It’ll do no harm and put your mind at ease”) so we will probably do that at some point soon.
Also when I told him I was really anxious, he was sooo nice. He asked if I wanted to have any extra scans and I said, “Sure!” and he booked me in for a bunch of extra scans. He offered to listen to baby’s heartbeat, but then I told him I’d just listened to it on the doppler that morning about an hour earlier, so we didn’t bother. He asked about extra medication and I ‘fessed up about the immune protocol and he was perfectly fine with it! I said I just wanted to throw the book at it and he said he completely understood. He was so nice about it that I thought I would introduce…
“I’d like an elective Caesarian, please!”
At which point he laughed and said, “But we were getting on so well!” He explained that it’s not supported by our trust and that if there are no contraindications, there wasn’t an argument for it just for maternal request. He said that he really thought I should talk to a senior midwife about it, and said he’d write a letter. I said I’d seen One Born Every Minute and it looks awful, and there are like a million things I’m scared about natural childbirth, including: not wanting to push an entire human through my foof and get possible incontinence, episiotomy, lack of sex life, etc etc; really not wanting a forceps birth having studied neuroscience and seeing the stats on how risky it is; a probable paranoid feeling that the baby might die in natural childbirth through being in there too long, getting stuck in the birth canal, etc… And generally just the fact that I have a really low pain threshold and I am a lot less scared of surgery (of which I’ve had a fair amount) than baby and foof damage.
Anyway, he was quite sympathetic about it. He said he wanted me to talk with the senior midwife and understand more (“One Born Every Minute should be banned!” he said, and “Childbirth is the most natural thing in the world!”) and if I consistently wanted a Caesarian all through my pregnancy (“It’s still early!” he said) then he thought that it would be possible for him to help me get that. (He warned me, “I’ll have to write a load of scary things about you on your forms” – I said I would be fine with this! T says I’m a psycho anyway!)
I don’t write this because I want any of you to persuade me one way or the other. I have fairly firm ideas and fears about this, and I know that in other countries, childbirth is highly medicalised. Also, there is a difference between an emergency Caesarian and an elective one. It’s just the way I’ve always felt about childbirth, but I’m willing to be persuaded otherwise (although I am never going to want no pain relief, or an elective episiotomy, or anything to do with incontinence…). I genuinely think it sounds horrific. This might sound crazy considering I really have been focused on having a child but it has nothing to do with the child – just the method of entry into the world! But feel free to tell me your lovely natural childbirth stories. (No need to give me the gore.)
“What the heck have we done?”
I’ve noticed my emotions are a bit odd lately. I want to cry quite often… I feel emotionally charged. And I get angry too. I haven’t actually cried, but it’s weird. Like I got my sandwich at lunchtime and it had lettuce on (ugh! I didn’t ask for lettuce) and I almost cried. But I was sitting in the office, so I just sat there, miserably picking lettuce off my sandwich. I even feel emotional at adverts. Usually I am stone cold hard so it’s a bit weird for me to be all emotional and whatnot.
Also, I’ve found myself looking at other people’s kids and thinking, “What the heck have we done?” – it sounds stupid, but I’m trying to be honest about my feelings here, and other people’s kids are really quite offputting. Tonight on the commute someone had about 7 kids and they were all screaming and the littlest one kept intermittently shrieking and I felt crazily angry and wished they’d just somehow shut them up. Also I think of how tired I am in the mornings and thinking how am I going to get by on less sleep?! Anyway, yeah, emotions are all over the place.
“When, will I, will I be pregnant?”
I can’t answer… I can’t answer that!
Actually I can. I figure I’ll feel properly pregnant when I can a) feel some kicks (none yet at 17 weeks) and b) be publicly acknowledged as pregnant. I do sort of get it with the Baby on Board badge, but I decided to change my commute to one where I don’t have to wear the badge (see below!) and so I don’t really actually get acknowledged as preggers yet. As someone who’s been immersed in (in)fertility-land since April, I think it’s so weird people don’t notice that I’ve practically doubled in body weight. (Okay, slight exaggeration. I felt somewhat better than I have been doing since IVF drugs turned me into a baby elephant, when I managed to squeeze my 20kg heavier than normal body into size 8 maternity jeans from New Look. ** Size 8 UK is size 4 US and 36 Euro, for clarity. Thank you New Look for your vanity sizing and your stretchy maternity jeans!)
“Something happened that was somewhat unexpected”
Speaking of being publicly acknowledged, I was trying to get something sorted for an important meeting, so my boss suggested I come and meet him yesterday so we could prep for it. I thought, it’s now or never. I had already told HR. Also, my work clothes are probably going to last about one more week before I have to switch to maternity stuff, for my own sanity. I mean, today I wore a skirt and it kept slipping down over my bump till I was almost being immodest. Still, I think people don’t really notice things and they’ve never known me thinner, so they probably just think I’m fat.
In the end we worked on the presentation and I thought I’d just focus on that, until he started talking about our plan for next year and what would happen in the new year. (Err, I’m having a baby.) So I took that as a cue: “Actually, we really should talk about next year… Umm… So something happened that was somewhat unexpected, and it was really unlikely and…” I blurted it out.
The good thing is, he didn’t spit out his Coke or anything. He said, “Congratulations!”
At which point I started blethering and trying to explain and he said I didn’t need to explain and that we would deal with it. I did at least tell him I had no intention of taking a year off (I mean, I couldn’t afford it) and so I managed his expectations around how it would be about 4 months at most and we’d look at doing Shared Parental Leave (where T can take some of my mat leave). I said how I’d had lots of ops and medical interventions and lost a baby last year. He actually looked really sympathetic and said I didn’t need to explain anything, but I wanted him to know I hadn’t planned it. I mean, it was always a faint possibility but after 16 years of infertility and loss, it seemed a long shot. And I gave up a job where I would have had 1 year of paid maternity leave, for a job with next to no maternity benefits!
I even said “Please don’t hate me!” In a kind of desperate way. He is my favourite boss so far and it’s my favourite job and it pays well and I don’t want to screw it up! He kind of joked, “Of course I hate you… I’m that sort of person!” And said we will start planning how to cover my time – I can pick my second in command from the team and train that person up. We have time. He said we should keep it on the down low for now and I agreed. I said I didn’t want to have to tell people if it all went wrong and he again looked sympathetic and said he understood. I don’t know how I ended up with a nice boss like that. (He’s actually awesome, like a mad professor, and he swears like a trooper, which suits me fine because I do too! Just not online for some weird prudey reason!)
After we’d finished our meeting and walked out of the meeting room, he mouthed at me, “Congratulations!”
He’s a keeper.
“Don’t tell anyone…”
I changed my commute. T has been telling me for ages that it’s much nicer to commute by boat. We live by the river. There is a boat service practically outside our back door. So, I decided to try it. We’d already been on the boat plenty, but not to get to work.
This is the life! It’s amazing. That was the Shard and the city of London from the Thames this morning. It’s soooo civilised! I have a longer walk to work at the other end, but the whole thing is so much more pleasant. You get a seat! No standing! No other sweaty person pressed up against you. River view! I don’t even need the badge because everyone just travels in a properly nice way.
“I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t go this way,” I said to T.
“Don’t tell anyone… They’ll all start doing it!” says T!
Let’s hope they don’t realise.
I’m not really a pro at this…
To wrap up this mega-update… There’s a shedload of pregnancy info I had no idea about.
- Apparently the itchy humungaboobs I’ve been suffering from is A Thing. At least I’m not an itchy boobed freak. They smell of chocolate having been slathered with cocoa butter on a regular basis. I think they’ve doubled in size. The sheer size is very uncomfortable. I’ve been through a bunch of new bras and they seem to grow out of them on a weekly basis. They are like huge, stretchmarky melons. I have new sympathy for big boobed women. (I’m usually a 32 C which I was completely satisfied with.)
- You’re supposed to sleep on your left hand side. This is bad! I sleep on my back! I have to keep trying as I read a study that not doing so increases the risk of stillbirth. (I won’t give the citation as it’s from the horrible DM.) Though you only have to start doing this now, in the second trimester. (WTF Second trimester, how the heck did that happen?!) I’ve now briefed T and told him if he wakes up and I’m not on my left, to roll me! He said that’s why people have those weird pregnancy pillows. I’ve got one eyed up in my Amazon basket but going to try sleeping that way first.
- There are pretty much no nice smart maternity clothes. They’re all hideous! The New Look and M&S maternity jeans are fine. New Look is super cheap for casual stuff but doesn’t have anything for work. All pregnancy jeans seem to have rips in – not a look I usually go for, and not one for the office. I ordered 2 dresses from Seraphine which I haven’t worn yet, but seem okay (definitely not my usual style). One dress from Amazon which is cheap as chips. And today I cracked and ordered some dresses from Jojo Maman Bébé – so we shall see. I have this extended family do at the weekend so I think it would be an ideal opportunity to test drive a maternity frock. We shall see.
- I need to learn to accessorise. I saw a show with a pregnant woman on – one of those house hunting shows – and she was wearing scarves and they looked great. I’m not really a scarf person but I think a bit of colour and pattern can distract a bit. I’ve also been wearing bigger necklaces, not least because I now seem to have a giant slug neck. So I ordered a load of chunky necklaces to see if I could detract from my drab work clothes and the is-it-isn’t-it bump!
“Lion King or Frozen?”
So I told you a while ago that we knew the gender of our baby, and I’d been holding off saying anything because T wanted to tell his parents. We did that and they were super happy. And I told my siblings, and we told a few friends through necessity, but we are sort of holding off telling people until we have to.
Anyway… The important people have been told, and more importantly, Dog has been told (though not 100% sure he understands!) and even more importantly, T has told me that I can tell you guys, so…
“Lion King or Frozen?” was the question I asked on the phone after our Harmony test, as apparently the midwife couldn’t tell us over the phone – we’d have to wait for the official test results in the post. However she said I could ask her a question that wasn’t “Boy or Girl?” – clearly, being Disney nuts – this was the question we’d thought of.
The answer: “Lion King!”