WTF, OMG and other acronyms… Holy potato, we are 20 weeks!
How the hell did that happen?!
Answer: I think I’ve got to the stage where I just sort of try to live my life without thinking about it too much, and it just sort of crept up on me.
How on earth did we get that far? It seems like only yesterday I was comparing lines on pregnancy tests and trying desperately to hold it together and not freak out before our first scan.
So this week we had our NHS 20 week scan, also known as the anomaly scan (I think). It is the halfway house for the NHS (National Health Service in the UK) whereby they actually start assuming that everything’s going to happen. As the title says, sh*t just got real.
20 week scan: froggy no more
The 20 week scan actually took place 2 days ago so technically speaking I was at 19+6, but I’m not going to worry too much about that. We went along to our local hospital – I worked from home that day so I wouldn’t be stressed about getting there, and T came from work, as it was lunchtime. They kept us waiting aages (about 40 minutes) and then we were called in.
My belly actually seems to be a belly now, which is sort of comforting in a way, and sort of comical because they still haven’t said anything at work. I’m sure they are thinking that I’m a bit suspicious but hey. I have got a few little stretch marks on the underside of the “pot” bit of my belly, but at least they aren’t too bad. My boobs on the other hand are another story. They’re absolutely horrendous. But I am trying not to deal with them and hopefully they won’t get any bigger! My friend sent me some Mama Mio boob tube cream which is meant to help. She has giant bazookas and she’s not pregnant but she uses it and swears by it! She sent me it in a little pack of Mama Mio stuff which was really lovely of her. Anyway, I digress.
Flopped my giant belly out (although scary to think that if everything goes right it’ll double in size) and the ultrasound lady got to work. At least we are past the stage of the TV (internal) scans! Fortunately, B was in there, wriggling away. It was really cool to see him because this time he looked more like a small human and less like a frog. Now, I like frogs and all but I have to say I’d rather have a human baby. (Well, I’d rather have a dog baby but I think that’s biologically impossible and probably something to worry about if it happened.)
The scan itself was very NHS-y. By which I mean it involved us staring intently at the screen trying to decipher what was going on, and the two technicians talking to one another and saying acronyms and measurements without explaining anything about what they were doing. The strange thing is, as I later said to T, they give you about as much information in a Good News scan as a Bad News scan. (I love the NHS but I suppose that’s what you pay private clinics for… Information and a slightly higher level of interaction.)
The scan lasted aaaages as they couldn’t get a good view of B’s head. I was sort of worrying as they kept coming back to it, but apparently it was because he had his arm in front of it for the whole time and wouldn’t move, and he was in a breech position, and also he sort of had his legs folded back on himself so his feet were in his face. They also had to search for ages to try and see his face as I think they need to confirm he has a mouth etc. Anyway, by the end of it, T and I were both almost falling asleep. I mean, it’s nice to see your baby wriggling about but there’s only so long you can stare at it and 45+ minutes without any commentary probably isn’t it.
On the plus side, we got print outs! And they are much clearer pictures. At our hospital you have to go and pay for a voucher (£4 per print) and then you get given them in a little holder. It’s actually very cute. Our private doc just adds them to our USB stick. It’s nice to have actual prints you can see (and then take a photo of!) as usually I head to Boots afterwards to print the best ones out. We also got a printed sheet to add to the now slightly bulging medical file I was given during my first midwife appointment, and it showed that all the measurements were within normal ranges. (Me being me I started to worry his head was slightly small, like what if he had Zika, but it’s probably just me being stupid because it was only slightly to the left of the mid point and well within the safe range.) Sometimes I wonder whether we actually need to be given information as I think sometimes it makes you worry more!
Here he is. The first decent scan pictures we have that aren’t complete blurs! These are pictures of pictures but I think you get the picture!
After the scan, T went back to work and I headed off to my midwife appointment. If you recall this was recommended by my nice doctor who said that he thought I’d benefit from speaking with a midwife, mainly because I had expressed a load of concerns about v- birth and wanted an elective caesarean! So I booked in with the midwife straight after our scan appointment.
Midwife appointment: Best midwife ever
So the midwife appointment was so not what I was expecting. I suppose I have a slight aversion towards hospital settings. I don’t mind getting stuff fixed, and I don’t have an issue with surgery (hence my request for an elective caesarean) but I sort of get a slight icky feeling if I have to spend too long there. Like I have visited sick relatives in hospital and it’s always a sort of pull between wanting to make them feel better and showing I care, versus the horrible hospital feeling.
Anyway, the good news is my midwife lady resided in a separate part of the hospital that doesn’t really look like a hospital. More like a budget hotel. It is called the Birth Centre and it’s a separate wing of the hospital. So it’s quiet and quite nicely decorated. She turned up and she is this super glamorous tall slim black lady and from the outset she was really nice and didn’t make me feel at all like I was taking up her time unnecessarily.
We went to one of the birthing rooms to chat and I was a bit blown away. First of all, it is like the size of our flat. I mean it’s huge. (Probably just the size of a room not in London, but still. You could pretty much fit our flat in it.) Secondly it did not look like a hospital room at all. There was this giant bath thing in there, and a bed, and a cot and a desk and an ensuite bathroom and none of it looked particularly hospital like.
We sat down and talked. For TWO HOURS. OMG, I wonder if she ever gets bored of her job. I had like a million anxieties and questions and she just headed them off and talked A LOT (she could talk for England!) and shared a lot of experiences and tried to reassure me by explaining stats for each thing. (Like episiotomies which she said happen maybe 3-5 times a year in that centre.)
She explained all about how the midwife led birth centre is different from the consultant led ward – which is just down the corridor in case you need to be transferred. So doctors are on call, but unless anything bad happens then there is no doctor intervention. In the birth rooms there is gas and air (yeah I’ve had that, does nothing!) and pethidine and oxygen and they also recommend use of the pool for pain relief.
I won’t go into everything we talked about as it was two bloody hours, but she was really nice and I felt a lot better after meeting her. She said she thought I was the kind of person who would benefit from seeing her more often (*I think she means crazy) and offered to see me every two weeks or once a month, whatever I preferred. (Seriously, does she have nothing better to do?!)
Turns out she’s the Head Midwife there and she is absolutely passionate about giving mums a great birth experience. She said she wanted everyone to feel like they’d had the best possible experience when they left, and even if there was intervention or if something didn’t go to plan that they would know it’s all under control and the risks are minimised.
She also said she thought I would be better and less anxious if I had the baby delivered by someone I knew (ie her!) and then she said if I wanted her to do it then she promised she wouldn’t take any holiday in January! Ha! I mean she really was lovely, and I’m quite a cynical type.
The whole conversation brought up a lot of feels. I mean I am not the most demonstrative person (other than to T and Dog) and I even had a bit of a cry. I think it was when I was explaining about my history of infertility and my failed marriage and IVF last year and the miscarriage. It really was the most awful thing that has ever happened to me and I am sh*t scared of anything like that happening again. Which is why I feel like I haven’t properly gotten excited about being pregnant. I’m scared that if I do, something will go wrong.
Also it brought up feelings about being adopted. This baby is the ONLY person in the world I will know who I’m genetically related to. I can’t really explain how big a deal that is. It’s like, he’s so precious already and I haven’t even met him yet and I’m scared that I might not. So yeah, I had all the feels that day. L (the midwife) was really sympathetic and even gave me a hug. I’m sort of squeamish about people I don’t know giving me hugs, but it was okay. I think it was a relief just to voice some of those fears.
She said she would take over care from the community midwives at around 28 weeks if I was happy with that. (I so was. She’s like a million times nicer and less perfunctory.) We decided that I’ll see her again in a month and she’d come and see the consultant with me. Mainly to do a double act with him around how giving birth naturally in the birth centre is a much better idea than a caesarean, haha. I’m still not 100% convinced but we had a long talk about the different things that could happen and I don’t know… I’ll consider it. (I am a sucker for the superficial things and I like that birth centre private room a helluva lot more than I like a hospital ward.)
She ended by giving me her mobile number and telling me to call any time. I don’t think I will call her (well maybe I will in 20 weeks) but it was nice of her to do that. I sort of feel a bit better knowing that I could potentially have someone familiar and nice with me every step of the way.
L told me she had never had a complaint in over 20 years of midwifery. She really loves her job! She also said that a lot of her patients call her the Best Midwife Ever and I think she might just be right.
Generally I feel less anxious now. I think it’s partly because we have reached this milestone, which I know doesn’t really mean anything other than halfway, but in my head feels a bit more real. Also seeing the scan and that everything seemed okay. And meeting L, the best midwife ever.
It’s strange because I don’t really consider myself an anxious person. I think that label is more for my weird friend (bless her) but I suppose circumstances make it what it is. I have definitely been kind of uptight about things and I think it has prevented me from enjoying it too much, but I am starting to relax a bit more.
I have definitely acknowledged the pregnancy outside of work and it helps that people are really excited and nice about it. I even met a guy on my dog walk who has a 5 month old baby and he kept saying he was “over the moon” for us, which was really sweet. He said it was the best thing that ever happened to him, even though she was a complete accident, conceived on the coil. (Yeah, fertile people, eh?!)
The other thing is that I have been thinking more and more about adoption and the fact of me having been adopted. And race too. It is a weird feeling as I am used to being adopted; I mean I’ve been adopted for the whole of living memory. But it does feel strange and I mainly worry that B will look more like my ethnicity and I won’t be able to give him anything from my birth culture.
I worry because stereotypically people consider females from my race to be more attractive and males to be less attractive. T said that’s why he wanted a girl, because he didn’t want his kid to have a hard time in the looks department. So I’m very aware of that and it does make me look out for males of my ethnicity. I want B to have some positive role models if he doesn’t come out looking white. (I think odds are that my genes will wipe out T’s white genes, but we’ll see.)
The good thing is that there are quite a few people who are racially similar to me in the area we moved to. And they have boys and girls as babies/kids so I figure he won’t be the odd one out. And I’ve checked and they are cute!
Also I find I notice men of my race a lot more now (I guess now that maybe I am having one, or at least half of one). The funny thing is, I don’t think they are unattractive at all. The media tells me they are but it’s b*llocks to be frank. There are just as many ugly white men as any other race. So it stands to reason that all the good looking guys in the world are not white. It p*sses me off really because we are always held to white beauty standards and I don’t want my kid to feel the way I did about our race. There’s nothing wrong with us! Maybe my mama bear grizzles are coming out.
Anyway, for one reason or another this 20 week milestone makes me feel like things are realer now. We are halfway. The risks are decreasing all the time (although they probably increase at the point of actually getting the baby out of you, yay) so I am trying my best to relax into things. The bump and B’s little increasingly strong kicks are helping.
Other stuff… and cake!
It’s not all pregnancy and whatnot. I mean it really isn’t. I have been pretty busy at work. Things sort of went a bit pear shaped when the awful new guy I got resigned this week. The thing is, we’d probably have had to put him on a performance plan because he’d done nothing in four weeks of being here. In week 5, all he did was he wrote his resignation email to me and that’s probably the best piece of work he did! The guy was so strange. I mean, it’s odd to accept a job and not even try to get on there. He literally did no work. (I don’t think I mentioned him drunk texting me in week 2.) I don’t know how he can live with himself.
Anyway, last weekend was the bank holiday weekend in England which means we got Monday off. Yay! Like a mini holiday. Apart from the fact that I had to make my mum a cake on the Saturday, which took me all day! It was for a big birthday (politeness prevents me telling you exactly which one!). We then went round to their new place on Sunday and had a little gathering. It was really nice and everyone was super complimentary about the cake, and people were all excited about my bump (which was weird as I still feel odd about it) and my sibling who lives outside the country was there alongside the partner I’d never met (but feel like I know on FB anyway) so it was really nice.
Here is the cake. It’s a four layer chocolate sponge with chocolate buttercream on top of a vanilla sponge with strawberry jam. (The latter insisted on by my little nephew, who then ate chocolate cake instead. Go figure!) All of the decorations are made out of buttercream. To be honest, I wasn’t that happy with it (because it’s really hard to work with buttercream in the heat and we had a heatwave) but it’s the first one I’ve made in our new kitchen.
I had to spend half of Saturday getting the ingredients (up 8 flights of stairs!) and making space to bake the cakes and ice them, so it really took a long time. Our new oven is built in and it’s quite small so it’s a different experience than my old industrial oven T bought me a few Christmases ago which you could bake 3 or 4 cakes in at a time (which wouldn’t fit in the new place, sob). So I feel like I did an okay job with the resources I had available. I was very out of practice!
The whole day with my folks was really nice. I got to see all my siblings and in a way it was the first time I could feel a lot more okay with the little ones. I think lots of other times it has felt like a kick in the teeth to have to spend time with them. Not that I don’t like them or anything but it was always hard.
I wonder if my sister was okay with it. She seemed really happy for me all the time and asked how I was doing in the pregnancy, but I know what it feels like and I worry for her. We have planned a little sisters’ spa day in a few weeks so hopefully that will be nice.
Also, my folks gave me this. It was really sweet. I love it. It’s a Peter Rabbit soft toy that plays a lullaby and a whole little outfit, plus a blanket. Knowing my mum, it cost a fortune! It was really nice and the first thing we had for B. Freaking baby Armani. Poor B will have to get used to a lot less fancy stuff! He’ll be begging to run off to the grandparents!
My sibling from overseas also brought B a present too which is a sort of tradition in our family. It felt really nice that they did that even though it’s the third nibling so not a novelty any more.
And my mum finished up by insisting that we must buy the buggy (stroller) we wanted and they would pay for it, even though I said it was really expensive and we were weighing up whether we actually needed one and whether we could just carry B around!
It is really nice to think we could get a nice one without worrying about it. So maybe we will go to John Lewis and look at the different models. (At the moment I’m torn between the Joolz Geo and Cybex Priam, with the 4moms Origami (motorised folding/unfolding) as an outlier. Of course we will need a car to store it in, a I’m not carrying it up and down 8 flights of stairs several times a day!) I suppose if we did that, we would be properly acknowledging being pregnant!
So it is beginning to feel like B is properly real now. Well I have been feeling more and more flutters which are his little kicks, so I guess he’s got to be.