It’s rubbish to make excuses but there’s been a lot going on.  By a lot, I mean a death in the family and all the nasty will related fallout that leaves every family member feeling bruised and unable to find much support in the others.  That’s the shit stuff.  In addition to the shit stuff there’s been good stuff that carries its own unique pressures.  I’m pregnant.

The first odd thing about pregnancy is that even if you’ve been trying, it’s still a shock.  It takes a few weeks for it all to sink in and even then you have to keep reminding yourself of how much your life is going to change.  You also feel awful a lot of the time.  I was bone tired for weeks, struggling to get a thing done let alone have the motivation to look for work, and the there was the sickness, the congestion and the headaches.  Overall, at nearly eighteen weeks, I’m much better now, but I can’t sleep on my back without feeling horribly dizzy when I wake up and sleeping on my side still makes for an unsettled night.  I’m also quite likely to still be sick in the morning if I’m overtired and my blood sugar has a tendency to drop overnight which makes that worse and sometimes also adds headaches which are in their turn exacerbated, at times, by tension in my neck caused by tossing and turning overnight.

The whole matter of eating is something of a minefield.  Even this far in, I still need to check the internet before I eat fish and try to avoid eating it at all if I’m out.  I want to nourish my little bean with healthy foods and yet often that is the last thing my body wants.  I spent most of the first trimester eating cheese sandwiches, pizza and spaghetti bolognese and just this morning two large bowls of rice krispies with sugar seemed like manna from heaven to ease my sick stomach and banging head.

It’s also far harder than you might think to be positive and relaxed.  You spend half your life on the internet checking to find out if symptoms, that you’d never previously heard of, are normal and find yourself feeling panicky or angry if anyone around you, who didn’t have those symptoms, starts questioning that normality.  You are constantly being tested and the baby scrutinised to make sure that it is developing well.  I can assure you now that I don’t have HIV, syphilis or sickle cell and that my rubella immunity is up to date.  I know that I have a 1 in 7400 risk of Downs Syndrome (impressive I think for a tubby 36 year old who’s supposed to be facing at least a 1 in 300 risk) and that as much as the 20 week scan should be exciting, that it’s mostly there to check for a range of birth defects that may or may not be correctible and that, even after all these tests, I can’t be completely assured that all is well.  It’s entirely possible that something may have been missed and, of course, they cannot check for autism or cerebral palsy on a scan.  Sometimes it’s hard to believe that having a child with a defect is unlikely, just 3 in 100, and that includes minor and correctible defects.  All of this is particularly hard for one that suffers from white coat syndrome.  I’m fairly sure that I’m more scared of the medical scrutiny than I am of anything actually being wrong.  They say that women often have an instinct about this but I find it hard to separate my fear over the thought of there being something wrong from how I actually feel about the well-being of my child.

I’m struggling to accept my weight gain.  I know that it’s inevitable and a good thing but I’ve spent my whole life trying to be thinner and no matter what my rational brain says, I hate feeling fat.  Sadly, at the moment I do look fat.  Comparing myself to women on the internet, I’ve gained a fair amount of general weight but I still don’t have much of an obvious bump beyond a spare tire effect,  this gives credit to my abdominals which should be loose and expanding easily at 36,  but the overall effect does not suggest pregnancy.  It looks more like I ate too many cheese sandwiches.  I find myself already thinking about diet and exercise for after the birth which even I know is inappropriate.

For all that I’m not giving much thought to the birth.  I have not, so far, heard of any mother in my circles, including those in their twenties, who has been able to enjoy a low risk midwifery lead birth.  I know equally that just a busy day on the ward may impact on my hope to have a water birth for argument’s sake.  As much as I may be low risk now, anything could happen in the next 22 weeks.  I could develop gestational diabetes, a problem with my liver or even the dreaded pre-eclampsia, the baby could be breach, or overdue or early.  It seems daft to come with a birth plan as if I am in any way in control of events when we get there.  What will be, will be.  I have hopes but I know that that is all they are.

I find it hard to imagine that someone new is entering my life, that they will be the biggest part of it, next to my husband, and that I don’t know anything about them.  Not even what gender they are.  Will they be sporty, active and popular like their father?  Or a weirdo with a passion for books, theatre and science fiction like their mother?  Will they be kind?  Will happiness come easily to them or will they be prone to being sad?  All I think I know for sure is that they are likely to have blue eyes,  as Pete and I both do.  That means two recessive genes right?  ‘It’s genetically impossible for two blue-eyed parents to have a brown eyed child.’ as I inexplicably remember Father Dowling once saying in the show from the 90s.

It’s hard to think about anything else when you’re pregnant.  Pregnancy is all consuming.  It’s massive and uncontrollable.  It is, of course, an early introduction to parenthood, where sacrifice and accepting that you can’t be control of events will become the norm.  It’s every bit as intimidating as it is exciting.

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