I’m 32 weeks pregnant. Right now, a baby girl is wriggling gently in my uterus. She should weigh around 1.8kg and measure around 45cm, according to the pregnancy app on my iPhone. But at our last ultrasound, she was tracking a week and a half ahead and measuring in the 90th percentile in terms of size.
“That’s a big baby,” said our obstetrician, as he measured the circumference of her head on the grainy black-and-white screen. We have another check-up tomorrow. I’m impatient to find out whether she’s still measuring ahead. Will she be a big baby or an average-sized baby? Is she healthy and strong? Where is she positioned in my uterus? Is she head down or head up? Is her back to my stomach (good) or her back to my back (not-so-good?)
So many questions. That’s one way to sum up my thoughts on pregnancy so far. So many questions.
What will she look like? Will she have her Dad’s eyes? Will she have my nose? Does she have hair? What’s she doing right now, this very second? When will she be born? How will she be born? Will I be able to cope? What do contractions really feel like – no, really? Is labour as painful as everyone says it is? Will I make it to hospital in time? What should I pack in my hospital bag? What should I pack for the baby? What do babies wear? What do babies sleep in? Will I be able to breastfeed? What does it feel like to breastfeed? Why is my bump smaller than other bumps? Have I put on enough weight? Wait, have I put on too much weight? What type of mother will I be? What type of mother do I want to be? What will it feel like to hold her in my arms for the first time?
So. Many. Questions.
Some questions are driven by anxiety – the natural anxiety of the unknown. But most are driven by curiosity, and what I can best describe as a kind of “detached awe”. I feel excited and numb at the same time. It’s as if my brain can’t quite keep up with my body. I know I’m pregnant, I know I’m about to have a baby, but I feel like this reality won’t truly sink in until I hold her in my arms. Until she feels more tangible, more real than a little wriggly ‘alien’ in my tummy.
Much of pregnancy is spent measuring and waiting. Measuring baby’s heartbeat, height, the circumference of her head. Measuring the weeks as they crawl by. With each week comes a feeling of relief. I’m getting heavier, but I feel lighter. Because she’s one week stronger, one week closer.
The first trimester
I remember at our first ultrasound, our ‘dating scan’, the technician located a small blob on the screen and estimated we were about five weeks along. She sent us home and told us to come back in a few weeks because the blob was too small to be ‘viable’. She couldn’t yet see the heartbeat so she couldn’t tick the right box on her form to confirm a viable pregnancy. I remember getting in the car and bursting into tears. “Not viable!!” I wailed. “What an awful word! How dare she say our baby is not viable!”
I found the first trimester the hardest. We kept our pregnancy a secret until about 14 weeks, choosing only to share the news with immediate family. We chose to stay quiet because of words like “viable” and “miscarriage” and “risk”. Everything felt incredibly fragile, uncertain. I was exhausted and nauseous and emotional. I lost my appetite. I felt sapped and unsteady.
That said, the first trimester also had some beautiful moments. Seeing the positive sign appear on the pregnancy test. Telling our family and seeing their joy. Seeing her little heart beating for the first time. Finally getting that ‘viable’ tick.
The second trimester
The return of my energy and appetite – hallelujah! Food tasted good again. I could stomach flavours other than plain pasta and potato. I threw myself back into my work and my social life. I felt ‘normal’ again – just a little bit rounder.
Around week 16, I felt her move for the first time – it felt just like muscle twitches/spasms. Except the twitches grew stronger and stronger and soon felt like little kicks.
At week 20, we found out that she was a girl. Around week 24, my bump began to show. By week 28, the end of the second trimester, the pregnancy felt very viable indeed.
The third trimester (so far)
The home stretch. Shopping for prams and car seats and bassinets and second-hand cots. Trying not to have a panic attack in the middle of the Baby Factory (seriously, why do babies need so much stuff?) Antenatal classes. Hypnobirthing classes. Information overload. Waking up three times a night to go pee. Waddling instead of walking. Getting kicked in the ribs, hips, bladder. Obsessing about names. Oscillating between “I’ve got this” to “what the hell am I doing?” Getting bored of thinking about baby – but unable to think of much else than baby.
Beginning to slow down, to truly listen to my body, to take long walks, long naps, to eat that extra slice of cake after dinner. Cramming less into my day, yet somehow experiencing more – more time to think, daydream, read, plan, create. Creating space.
Other random thoughts (in no particular order)
- Baby kicks are the best thing ever
- Pelvic floor exercises are the worst
- I really miss mayonnaise and sushi
- Why do people love sharing traumatic birth stories?
- I’ve never been more grateful to work from home
- The more pillows, the better
- Everyone has an opinion – but most people mean well
- Choosing a name is really hard
- Skipping a meal will almost always end in tears
- There’s never been a better time to stop comparing yourself to others
- “This too shall pass” – feelings come, feelings go
- A shower and nap fixes most moods
- Some days only a good cry will do
“The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates.
I look forward to sharing this next chapter with you.