With the 20 week scan fast approaching, exam results nerves are kicking in. Will it be ok? Will it have survived the incidents of accidental unpasteurised cheese eating? Did drinking at the wedding the weekend before I found out affect the baby? (In my defence, I had had a negative pregnancy test result so thought I was safe!). This is the big reveal (at least until the actual birth and you really know what’s what). Will we pass? And if we don’t, what on earth will we do?
I have been reading up on it – re-reading the Screening Tests leaflet from the NHS, reading all the articles I could find on the internet, and sending myself into floods of tears after reading the stories of those who made the decision no one should have to make. I need to Think Positive, the odds are in our favour, 98% of babies are born without defects and there is no reason to believe we’ll be in the 2% beyond tendencies towards being Marvin the Paranoid Android. But still, I worry… And that hasn’t changed from the first time round!
At the 20-week scan, the only question the sonographer asked me was whether I’d felt any movement yet. I sadly shook my head. She didn’t comment any further: no “don’t worry, you will do soon”, or even a reassuring “that’s normal!” No, she had nothing more to say to me. Sigh.
Typical, then, that I first felt movement just TWO days after that! How different our conversation might have been if the scan had been just a few days later.
We’re on the sofa after dinner, having just eaten an enormous Chinese takeaway. Naturally, I’d finished off Mr Cath’s leftover lemon chicken as well as most of the bowl of prawn crackers. So when I feel some unusual flutterings down below, I initially dismiss them as my overworked digestive system attempting to process its latest challenge.
The night before our 20-week anomaly scan I lay in bed wide awake with my eyes open and mind racing. What if… kept recurring through my head, and it didn’t help that I was aware the alarm was set at an ungodly hour so we could get to our appointment in plenty of time.
On this freezing cold morning we drive to the hospital and inevitably arrive 45 minutes early for our appointment. I only grumble a little bit that we could have spent that time in bed, and we settle down to wait in the hospital café (which is actually quite pleasant). I have a drink, go to the ladies a few hundred times, and eventually we find ourselves waiting to be called. The sonographer then mispronounces our surname. A bad sign?!
This was the first, but I am sure it will not be the last, dilemma that led to sleepless nights and general angst for me. Now resolved (for better or worse), the following describes our rather different levels of enthusiasm for taking NCT classes.
I think it was the midwife who put me off. Going through the standard booking in appointment questions, we got to “education” – what classes was I going to do to prepare myself? “Um… NCT?” cue look of having eaten sea urchin sushi (don’t ever do it) on the midwife’s face. “Should I not do NCT?”, I say, a little befuddled. “You can… But we also have the hospital run classes and they cover the same things”, and she passes over the leaflet for three antenatal education classes covering healthy pregnancy, birth preparation and breastfeeding. A three stop shop, presumably a lot shorter than NCT and more importantly free?
So that got me doubting…
During my exhausted phase in the first trimester, when I needed around twelve hours’ sleep a night plus a nap, Mr Cath would frequently come home from work complaining he was shattered too. And yes, he works hard, but his hours and commute are both fine. I was initially concerned. I knew he wasn’t anaemic, but was he eating properly? Getting enough exercise? It couldn’t be caused by not enough sleep as he went to bed at the same time as me – ridiculously early. Maybe the problem was too much sleep!
Then it hit me. He was tired in sympathy with me! As soon as I realised this, I became a lot less worried wife and a lot more cynical mother to be. “You’re tired, eh? Wait till the baby comes. You have no idea what tiredness is!” He would look at me with fear in his eyes, which by the way had absolutely no bags whatsoever. Entreating him to pull himself together and stop being so pathetic didn’t have much effect either. Thankfully, by the New Year I pulled through and so did he.
During my reading, I subsequently realised that Mr Cath was one of the lucky ones. Some fathers to be actually suffer from what is known as “couvade syndrome”, or sympathetic pregnancy. It turns out that the sky’s the limit when it comes to men experiencing pregnancy symptoms…
Junior © Universal Studios Entertainment 1994
The 20 week scan approaches and with it the likely introduction to a son or a daughter, because we want, no, we have to know.
Radiohead performing No Surprises. (C) 2006 EMI Records Ltd.
I cannot cope with the knowledge that a sonographer knows, and we don’t. I want to start calling it “he” or “she”, not it. When I imagine the future and get used to the idea that despite a very real sense of denial, I am actually having a baby and will have a mini human dependent on me for sustenance (too weird) and will spend up to a year with it, at home, not working me, it and cat, just us. And “it” just doesn’t cut it.
As my pregnancy progresses, our friends and family have been asking us whether we will find out whether our baby is going to be a little boy or a little girl. When we reply that we are going to keep it a surprise, the response has been quite mixed. Some people cannot imagine it any other way; others (like Elly!) don’t see the point of waiting until the baby is actually born.
Turquoise = gender neutral?
Our reasons for not finding out are several. We are lucky to agree on this issue; I’m not sure what we would do if one felt strongly one way and the other the opposite! Equally, we are adamant that are not going to find out and just keep it to ourselves. What is the purpose of that? I couldn’t keep a straight face or lie to my Mum if she asked me about it. And if you tell the parents, then you have to tell siblings, other family, close friends… basically everyone!
We genuinely don’t mind whether we are having a pink or blue baby. The fact that Mr Cath calls my bump “he” and I call it “she” is neither here nor there – at least one of us is right! When I was younger, I did desperately want a little boy. This is probably due to having a younger sister but no brother, so I therefore felt that boys were cuter! At a careers development event a rather intense man examined my life goals and all I could ultimately say for certain was that I wanted to have a baby. When pushed further, I admitted that what I visualised was a little boy. I think he
was a bit disappointed by that being the extent of my ambition at the time!
So this is another catch-up post, written a few weeks ago but still not an issue that is out the other side of therapy…
Almost straight after finding out I was pregnant, we had an intimate dinner party to go to; one that would normally have involved lots of booze and carefully constructed cuisine without much chance of hiding a sudden teetotal habit.
I wanted to tell Charles & Laura who were also going to the dinner party and thought by having three people to swap drinks with I might just get away with it. I suggested it to Fred, but he was adamant that we should tell no one before the 12 week scan (at this point I fessed up about telling my Mum but decided to keep that I told my friend at work to myself!).
There began a 12 week struggle between us, as I was desperate to tell our close friends that we see regularly and he was equally desperate to keep it quiet – resulting in a particularly awkward Christmas party (a post for another time I think – when the psychological scars have healed). I felt it was ridiculous I couldn’t tell them – these were my friends, they were people who I would want to be there to support me if I did have a miscarriage and instead I was confined to silence and a very private tragedy if it came to that. Fred wanted to keep it that way – very private. He didn’t want to have to tell people I had miscarried, as he would if we had told people, he wanted it to be between him and me, just us.
We mastered the post writing bit some time before the blog set-up bit, so have some historical posts to share with you. Here is one about Cath’s 12-week scan.
I didn’t think there could possibly be any advantage to having long cycles (apart from getting less periods, which although a good idea in theory, actually isn’t so great when you’re trying to have a baby). However, this led to an unexpected bonus: TWO scans in the first trimester.
A pregnancy is measured from the first day of your last menstrual period, or LMP in medical-speak. Therefore, at my booking appointment they counted ahead accordingly and booked my scan in for 12 weeks after this event. They also informed me that my due date was 21st June. Instinctively, I knew this wasn’t right. It just didn’t feel likely, or even realistic, that out of the blue I would have had the perfect 28-day cycle. I also had a strong feeling about when conception occurred and this was actually 4 weeks after my LMP.
Anyhow, along we trot to the so-called 12-week scan. We see our little baby for the first time – amazing! However, the sonographer then tells us that the baby is not big enough for her to observe everything she needs to observe; it needs to grow an extra half a centimetre, which seems like a tiny amount but when you consider the overall size of the foetus I suppose it makes sense.
Our mini baby!
Welcome to our blog – our first foray into the world of blogging and our first into the scary world of having a baby.
In a weird cosmic coincidence, the stars have aligned to mean that we – Elly and Cath, friends from school – are both pregnant, due within 11 days of each other in July 2013. Tinged with self-doubt that we cannot be old enough / wise enough / responsible enough / rich enough to bring another being into this world, we are trying to navigate the waters of first time pregnancy – overwhelmed by the choices that will face us over the next nine months, the changes to our lifestyle which we are experiencing and the changes to our bodies that are soon to come (not counting the current stage of looking like we’ve eaten too many pies). We don’t have all or really any of the answers. Everything about pregnancy is very much a personal choice, but we want to share our perspective on our sheer terror at having no idea what to do (don’t get me started on how we’re going to select a buggy…). We aim to be non-judgmental. There are hard decisions that some of us have to make during pregnancy and we want this to be a supportive community that values diversity of choice (even if you do decide to call your son “Baby” like 14 others were in 2011).