Fifteen Weeks : Apple of my Eye

What is a ‘nappy-cake’, and is it for eating? How do you know if it’s ‘top and tail’ time, rather than bath time? What if I can’t tell if she is unhappy/hungry/uncomfortable? I obviously have a lot of learning to do.  The aim of picking up the text books was to answer my questions, not create more.  Every couple of days I spend one hour in a bath of bubbles swotting. Oliver and I have a text book each, mine is deadly serious, with photographs and diagrams, and Oliver’s is light-hearted and jokey, with animation and scribbles. My most horrifying text book discovery so far was made in Oliver’s book: “Feeling the need to cheat? Try your best not to.” I am still not sure if this is a joke or not. I put a bend in the page which says that the Father should buy the Mother an expensive gift, to be given at the birth, to say “Good Job-you got our baby out!”.  I am excited for the birth and my gift.

This is week fifteen, three weeks into the second trimester. I had previously been counting down the days until this trimester, relying on advice from advice-givers and Google. I held out for this week, looking forward to having the energy needed to climb the stairs and carry out other ordinary tasks. Annoyingly, the energy has still not returned. I have stopped being sick though. The dry-retching first thing lives on. But actual vomiting has gone. Break through.  Eight thirty onwards I am fine. Something I am thoroughly enjoying is the attention I am getting. Colleagues are constantly refilling my water bottle and bringing me fruit and snacks. I have never been so hydrated in all my life. Oliver bought me a pre and post-natal fitness DVD, with Davina. I watched it through first (following Davina’s advice), and then gave it a try. Davina doesn’t once jog, jump, hop, or do anything really pulse rising. In her defense she is weighed down by a massive tummy for the whole 45 minutes.  I love exercise and had hurried into my running clothes (let’s face it, they won’t be used for actual running any time soon), pushed the furniture out of the way and got going. I had underestimated again, it was exhausting. I totally understand why mums-to-be in Victorian times were prescribed 9 months of bed-rest. I wish I was a Victorian sometimes.

At four months I had expected to look pregnant. I don’t. Granted I have tired eyes and usually only half my make up done. But I am wishing that I had a bit more of a bump. I do have a small one, but to people who do not know me I feel that I just look chubby. I spent my day off last week packing up my tight jeans, fitted dresses and bikinis into a suitcase, zipping it up and closing the cupboard door until summer 2015. It felt sad but happy. The blow was definitely softened by my ASOS.com delivery of seven new dresses, all ready to fill the wardrobe space. They were maternity dresses, and I will only be wearing them for a couple of months, but they still count. I have also just this morning invested in a pair of maternity jeans; they have a fantastic stretchy panel. I think everyone should have a pair-jeans are so uncomfortable.

We had our first scan at twelve weeks, and decided that this was the time to tell the world. What better way to spread news fast than social media? We decided on a Selfie. It is 2014 after all. We posed the photo and then uploaded to Twitter and Facebook. The response was spectacular. So many shocked well-wishers wrote so many kind messages. Miss Karen had spread the news at my dance school and all of the children I teach are so excited. It was so exciting to have the scan appointment. The Jessop department at the hospital was lovely. The staff were so welcoming and Scan Room 6 was softly lit and nice and warm. The sonographer pressed the equipment on me and explained what she was doing. She quickly confirmed that there was only one baby and that there was a heartbeat, before turning on the screen on the opposite wall so we could both watch. I don’t know what I was expecting to see, but it wasn’t what I saw. On the screen was a trapeze shaped frame which clearly had a tiny person inside! The head and arms and legs and body could be seen perfectly, as well as a little nose. The lady measured each bit of her and said all was normal and developing correctly.  She calculated the due date as 27th July 2014. We then went through the routine health checks and tests, and went to buy a photo of the scan. They cost £4.00 each and we bought four.  Everything has felt a bit more real since the scan day, and the photo is such a nice thing to have. Ours is framed in the hall way, and we have an extra one each to carry around. It is too early to tell the sex of the baby just yet, we have a second appointment on 7th March to find out if it will be a little girl or a little boy.

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Something I have learnt from my text book is that a premature baby can live if born after 24 weeks. Therefore you should have everything you need for the happy new arrival by 24 weeks, just in case. This meant I only have a few weeks to buy everything I haven’t already got. That is a lot of buying to be done as I have only bought a couple of cute baby grows. I had been for walks around baby shops looking at prams, but I definately hadn’t considered anything seriously yet. The following weekend we went to John Lewis and went straight up the baby department. The world of ‘designer-prams’ is totally new to me. We didn’t know which type of terrain we would be pushing our pram onto, we didn’t know how much we wanted to spend, and we didn’t know what would fit in the boot of our car. Since this particular shopping trip we have made a few more visits to view the prams. We are better informed now, and know we want a ‘travel system’, in a nice bright colour.

pram

We have been calling our baby ‘Poppy’ up to now, and both like this name for a little girl. Choosing a name for a boy hasn’t been quite as easy, and we have had a few disagreements about this so far!

P.S. A ‘Nappy-cake’ is a hamper gift given to new mums. It is made out of different coloured nappies arranged in a cake design. ‘Top and tail’ is a quick wash, rather than a full on bath, ideal for during the day. A baby has different cries according to her needs; a hungry cry is easily distinguishable from a “I am so tired and irate” cry.

nappy cake

Eight, Nine and Ten weeks: Sweet Pea, Raspberry, Plum.

Keeping secrets is hard. Especially when you are bursting to tell. Oliver and I had decided to keep quiet, following textbook advice. Google (the most reliable tool I have in my life just now) advised us to wait, as there are a thousand things that can go wrong or complicate matters. I chose to focus totally on work, and studying for my upcoming teaching exam in Ballet. It was easy enough to look busy and bustling at my desk, but really the thought of a baby was taking over my life. I could not concentrate on anything but that.

Another hard (and ridiculous) part of not telling is that is makes it seem less real somehow. I had many occasions where I found myself wondering had I dreamed the positive result? Could it have been there when I did the test, but now it’s disappeared? Or had I just jolly well made the whole thing up?! Another five or so empty test packets later and I felt somewhat re-assured. In hindsight, I should have made the most of this symptom-free time, as the next part was a lot more tiresome.

Our lovely new house was finally ready. We had been waiting over a year for our new-build. Luckily we chose a five bedroom, so we will have plenty of space for one more! Moving day went totally to plan. I managed to carry the lightest items, and generally directed the whole thing without having to do very much at all. Family came round to build the new bed that evening, which meant that I could busy myself making tea and fetching snacks, ensuring no one noticed that I was avoiding the carrying and lifting. I had the full week off work to get on with home making, and everything was falling nicely into place. I had a great time unpacking suitcases, finding things that I hadn’t seen in the last twelve months. We got married in August 2012, and as we were living temporarily with parents, we had packed everything away. It was so nice to re-open the wedding gifts and re-read the lovely cards and the kind messages from our guestbook. Our brand new furniture was delivered, I arranged for the blinds to be fitted, pictures were hung and the Christmas tree went up. It felt like home and having our own space was such a treat. Then I started being sick.

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 I returned to work (heaven knows how), and generally busied myself. Aside from bursting publicly into tears on three separate occasions, I did pretty well. Water began to taste like rusty nails, which I initially blamed on the new plumbing, until a bottle of Evian confirmed that my tastes had changed. I couldn’t eat in the work canteen as it smelled of food, and fruit was definitely off my menu. Have you noticed that the only unscented foods are bad for you? Bread, chips and plain crisps were all I could stomach. Needless to say this is the time of your life when you are most enthused to optimise your healthy eating, and yet the hardest time to do so. You aren’t supposed to drink caffeine before twelve weeks, and I couldn’t face anything scented, so it was fair to say that I wasn’t drinking very much. I would set my alarm early and Oliver would bring me some cereal in bed, as the smell of the kitchen first thing was a sure-fire vomit-trigger. For the record, my kitchen smells the same as the rest of the house, apparently. I would get up very slowly, get ready, be sick, re-brush my teeth, and off to work I would go. I had accommodated sickness into my morning routine. Granted, I was exhausted constantly, longing for naps at work, and getting straight into pyjamas as soon as I got home. But I managed.

The trigger of strong smells and resulting sickness did get worse though, and I did end up with a fair few sick days on my work record. I ended up having to tell my manager our news. She was so kind, and more than understanding. She reassured me not to worry about how much time I took as sick, and over Christmas helped me to arrange ‘emergency holiday’ for three weeks, so I didn’t have to come in at all. I loved emergency holiday.  I had such a great time sleeping ten hours at night, keeping up with Philip Schofield and the rest of daytime television. The rest of the time I spent napping and going for little walks (and spends) around the shopping centre. There was also quite a bit of crying. Why was I crying?! I was anything but unhappy. And I did have more baths and cupcakes than is normal.

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By some miracle, the day of my Ballet exam was one of the rare days when I was symptom-less. It is actually a miracle I managed to get into that leotard and skirt; three weeks of carbohydrates had taken its toll. I did expect to have passed, but found myself wishing I had taken it earlier in the year, when I didn’t have the distraction of a baby on my mind. We still hadn’t told anyone, but it became obvious that we had no choice with Christmas coming up. I didn’t want people guessing, and I definitely didn’t want family to be concerned if I didn’t seem very well. I had people commenting that I was ‘glowing’. This was supposed to be a compliment, but I found myself holding back snotty replies of “you try being sick all morning, you will probably glow too”. They probably meant that I was sweating, an unflattering habit I seem to have developed recently. I have also started burping, but the less said about that, the better. The week before Christmas seemed like a sensible idea, and we arranged for both families to visit us that week. They were all delighted. Some were stunned into silence, others squealed. It was unexpected for all of them! Both families started talking about names for the baby, whether they think it’s a boy or a girl, and what they want to be called in their new roles of Aunts, Uncles and (Great) Grandparents. Suddenly everything became a whole lot more exciting as we had shared the news. We made everyone promise to keep it a secret until the twelve-week scan and the news that all was OK.

I am writing this at fifteen weeks, and it seems that they found the secret keeping very hard indeed. It was only recently revealed that between them, they had told eleven people, being totally unable to keep it in. Also, I did pass my exam and actually I got the highest mark in the whole dance school, another miracle!

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Five Weeks – A Poppy Seed

I had been advised to take a pregnancy test by a close work colleague, but refusing to jump to conclusions, and figuring that it was impossible (due to recent precautions!), I put it off for another week. I had been off work sick. My only symptom was actually being unable to get out of bed, feeling totally exhausted. I felt guilty because this is no excuse for a sick day, and I resent people who whine about being “too tired”. I considered the idea of a positive result and decided it couldn’t hurt to at least check. I had flipped back four pages in my diary, taking me to 28 days previous. Nothing. I flipped back another two, and there was the familiar looking biro circling the dates I was looking for. I quickly calculated that this made me a whole 14 days late. Not exactly the clockwork reliability that comes with taking contraception.

Being too exhausted to get dressed and call in the shops, I added a Pregnancy Test to my online supermarket order and decided I would allow the few days between ordering and delivery to let nature catch up with me. Not a sensible decision, I soon realised, as waiting isn’t easy, and I am not the most patient of girls. The shopping arrived a few days later and I delayed a little more by putting everything away before testing time. I knew how they worked, but still read and re-read the instructions whilst staring at the test window. There were two bold blue lines only seconds after using. And they stayed the full three minutes. I couldn’t do anything but stare. I reached for my phone, and then put it down. I couldn’t break the news over the phone. I stood up and walked around. I sat down. I did not know what to do with myself. What do you do? Why does nobody tell you what to do at this point? I turned to Google and dialled my GP.Image

The receptionist wasn’t very helpful, asking ridiculous questions that I couldn’t answer. She arranged for a Doctor to call me back and he did. He had nothing to say except that its very early days and congratulate me. But he did arrange for a prescription of vitamins to be left at reception for me to collect. Elated by nerves and sudden worry (what about that glass of wine I had on my Birthday?), I had got ready and arranged to collect Oliver from work after collecting my prescription. We went to an empty restaurant on Ecclesall Road and sat in a booth while I psyched myself to answer his questions about what was on my mind.

“We are going to be having a baby.” I had blurted out, a bit quicker and squeakier than how I had planned to announce this happy news. I sat back and watched his lovely face spread into the biggest smile. He was delighted, which meant that so was I. We rushed the food and called for another two tests on the way home, to make double sure. Again despite the instructions saying to wait a full three minutes for a positive result, the two lines were clear by the time I got back to the bedroom and sat on the bed with Oliver. We both looked again and we both cried.

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I have never felt so lucky in all my life. We have a beautiful new house; good, reliable jobs and now we were going to have a tiny third person to complete our little family. I feel so excited for the rest of my life. What a secret to keep!