Baby Beanie

St. George's Day, April 23 - Week 4 +3

Looking back, the signs were there, but I dismissed them.  I didn't want to get my hopes up.

The previous Friday, we had simultaneously closed the sale of our house in the U.S. and found a new (smaller - uh, oh!) place to rent in Britain in order to escape the rat hole.  Then on Sunday evening, D and I were watching a property search show, and the featured couple announced midway through their home search that they were expecting a baby.  As we had recently noticed how often that seemed to happen on these shows, D remarked on it once again.  I said, "Do you know what else is strange? We just sold one house and rented another and I'm a few days late."

D looked at me with a surprised little smile.  I said, "Perhaps I should wait until Tuesday and then take a pregnancy test."  He nodded eagerly and we spoke no more of it.

I woke up the next morning and took a look at the calendar.  Yep, officially as late as I'd ever been.  So I decided not to wait anymore.  A few minutes later, the pink line appeared.

I crept upstairs, woke D with a cup of tea and quietly told him, "We made a little baby!"

April 27, 5 Weeks

Five more pregnancy tests and I'm finally starting to let myself believe it.  Now, I can actually think the words to myself: I'm pregnant.  Before crossing that bridge, I'd only say "I tested positive on a pregnancy test."

The problem with reading the internet is that it can easily disabuse you of the notion that pregnancy is this happy time you can spend dreaming of holding your baby at the end of nine months.  I really appreciate those who live their lives out loud, sharing glimpses into things sometimes even best friends don't easily discuss.  But damn, it makes you realize that this conception-pregnancy-birth journey isn't necessarily inevitable. 

I'm trying so very hard to take each day as it comes, hoping for the best, but inwardly trying to prepare for the worst.  Playing the percentages, there is a very, very good chance that everything will be fine.  It's a mantra I keep repeating to myself.  Stressing about it isn't going to change anything for the better.

May 4, 6 Weeks - Symptoms

Considering I’m growing an actual human being,* I’ve found this pregnancy thing pretty uneventful so far.  Searching for some information about prenatal care in the UK, I stumbled across a birth club forum organized by due date months.  Since I’m right on the edge of December and January, I’ve been keeping my eye on posts in the forums for both birth clubs.  One thing that has struck me is how many women are complaining of symptoms so early.  Nausea, hunger, cravings, constant peeing, exhaustion, insomnia, hyper-emotional… that kind of thing.  The only physical change I've really noticed is sore boobs - and even that's lessened now.

* Well, half a human being at least.  According to D, the jury’s still out on the exact nature of my DNA.  ;-)

My symptoms?  Well, since I found out I'm pregnant, I've been making a conscious effort to stay hydrated.  As a result, it feels like I have to pee all the time.  Of course, any other time I've actually drunk liquids more than three times a day, I've had to pee all the time too.  I think I've got a bladder the size of a hamster's.

The only time my stomach has felt funny is when I’m nervous, either about the viability of the pregnancy or about being sick in an inconvenient situation.  That risks become a self fulfilling prophecy until I successfully distract myself.

I’ve felt really sleepy early in the evenings now and then – but that’s not much different than when I’m not pregnant.  A night owl, I am not.  I confess there have been more than a few nights recently when I've woken up and not got back to sleep for a long while.  But again, that's not unique to pregnant me.

I’ve felt surprisingly teary at unexpected moments, but I’m a fairly sensitive and highly emotional generally, so I can’t really attribute that to pregnancy hormones either.

So one of two things is going on: either I’m finding pregnancy blessedly easy, or the rest of the time I find life difficult and just don’t notice the change.  Fortunately, I think its the former.

I’m afraid I might eat these words in a couple of weeks, but part of me reads the complaints of these other newly pregnant ladies on the forums, and it just seems so… self indulgent.  Except I do feel genuinely sorry for those that experiencing morning sickness.  Even if it’s all in your head like my few moments have been – that just sucks.
May 11, 7 Weeks  - That Not-So-Pregnant Feeling

I'm still alternating between being convinced that the Baby Beanie isn't going to stick (as I torture myself reading stories of loss from the ladies on the pregnancy forums) and being able to remain philosophical (it will be what it will be).  There are long stretches of time - and by long I mean tens of minutes or sometimes even an hour or two - where I can easily forget that I'm pregnant at all.

I remain mercifully symptom-free, except for needing to take an early-evening nap or two last week and making numerous trips to the loo.  Today, I walked a round-trip 3.2 miles along the Thames path to register with my local doctor.  That should have been a cakewalk, but when I got home I was completely wiped out.  So, yeah, definitely something going on.  The thing that seems very strange to me: there's a little person growing in there, apparently the size of a blueberry about now.  Although I barely feel different at all, I can't have a glass of champagne and need to be careful about what I eat.  It seems a huge responsibility, and that there should be some big physical difference that I can put my finger on.  But there just isn't.

May 18, 8 Weeks - Meltdown

Today I was meant to visit the NHS doctor's office at 3:45 for a new patient intake.  Basically it has nothing to do with my pregnancy, they just wanted to take a brief medical history and my blood pressure and check my pee for diabetes.  I had made the 30 minute walk there a week ago to register as a new patient and inform them that I'm pregnant.  They sent me home with a pee sample cup and a card telling me to come back at 3:45 the next Friday.  I lost the card and decided I should call to confirm the time before walking all the way back.  Good thing I did.  They had no record of any appointment and in fact kind of acted like I was an idiot for expecting that I did.  I wanted to say, "Really?  I didn't ask for this appointment.  Are you in the habit of sending people home to pee in a cup and not expecting them to bring it back?!"

Further, I had been told the midwife would call me this past Monday to schedule a "booking-in appointment," as the NHS guidelines indicate you should be first seen between 8 and 10 weeks, but she hadn't bothered.

Worse, I've had some probably-completely-normal cramping (but no bleeding) in the past 24 hours.  My anxiety that all is not well (despite no signs to suggest it) has reached a fever pitch and I asked D if we could please arrange a private ultrasound to reassure me.  He wanted me to speak to a doctor first.

I was feeling isolated, unsure of how to get the care I supposedly deserved, frustrated about the whole situation, and on the verge of tears if I tried to talk about it.  This wouldn't have been a problem if I was still being cared for in the US.

In the end, the office rescheduled my new patient assessment with a nurse and I was lucky enough to speak about my fears to a lovely doctor who was between scheduled patients.  She told me I should be relaxing and trying to enjoy this time, and consider myself lucky that I'm feeling so well.  She did also tell me that if I was still cramping next week to let them know and they can arrange for a scan to check everything's okay.

I just hope the flippin' midwife calls soon.

May 25, 9 Weeks - En Fugue

The cramping passed quickly and the midwife did finally call.  I've got a booking-in appointment for this coming Monday.  One thing that kind of freaked me out: when we spoke she said I needed to choose, now, where I wanted to give birth so that she could book my ultrasound there.  I was given a choice of four hospitals - the best of which are 35 and 50 minutes away from home and nearly 90 minutes away from work, or a nearby midwife-run birthing centre where there would be no OB on duty.  So if I need an epidural, I'll have to fight to get a transfer to a hospital 30 minutes away. Same scenario if I need an emergency c-section, minus the fighting.  I'm given to understand I can change my mind later, but all my antenatal care is scheduled to take place at my chosen birth location, so I chose the one closest to home.  The birth centre looks lovely and comfortable, so if all goes well it will be best for D, the baby and me.  But I'm wondering how much knowing I don't have the full extent of care available to me right there might contribute to any sense of panic on the day.  Guess we'll just have to wait and see.

I've called this week "En Fugue" based on the definition: "a musical form consisting essentially of a theme repeated."  My theme: I'm so lucky to feel so well during this first trimester (I'm still blessedly free of unpleasant symptoms)... I'm so scared that means something's wrong.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

A dear friend was over in England this week and we met up in London on Sunday.  It was brilliant to see her, and she is one of the few that knows our secret.  She's a mother of two, one born just last summer, we spoke endlessly about pregnancy and new motherhood.  She's so encouraging that I put aside the fear for a little while and allowed myself to consider what it will be like to actually become a mother at the new year.  But, alone with my thoughts once again, I shrink away from it - afraid to get too wrapped up in those dreams lest it all come crashing down.

Roll on first ultrasound - should be in about 3 weeks.  I can't wait to see a heartbeat and little wiggles from the Baby Beanie, who's apparently the size of a grape today.

June 1, 10 weeks - Starting to Feel Real Now

This past Monday, D and I met with the midwife - well, two of them actually as S., the midwife who will be seeing me through the rest of my pregnancy, is just coming back to work after several years off so she was transitioning in with the supervision of her predecessor.  D and I both liked her.  The appointment was long - lots and lots of paperwork and questions, some of which caught D off-guard as we had to give prior consent to certain procedures that might be required in case of complications at any point during the pregnancy or labor.  The midwife also assured me that in case I cave and need an epidural, or there are any other reasons why I need to be laboring in hospital rather than the birth centre, a transfer can be arranged in plenty of time.  They've still made absolutely no medical confirmation of the pregnancy, though.  I find that very strange.

At the end of the week, I finally got my appointment notice for the first scan: June 19th.  I'll be 12 weeks + 6 days according to the midwife, who estimates the due date at December 27th.  My calculations put me 2 days behind that, with a due date of December 29th.  It will be interesting to see what the scan says.  Less than three weeks to go!

These are exciting developments, and it's all starting to feel real now.  This week, the baby is about the size of a small plum - 3 cm long.  (Huge growth from last week!)

Myself - I'm still feeling good.  I had a couple of days where a mid-day nap was an absolute necessity, and a couple of others where it would have been welcome.  Clothes still fit fine and I've got no uncomfortable symptoms.  A few times this week, I was struck with brief shooting pains when sneezing or coughing, which are apparently ligament pains related to growth of my uterus.  Those pains are meant to be more common in the second trimester, and I confess that I'm somewhat comforted to have felt something different physically.  Amazingly, the uterus has grown from the size of a pear to the size of a grapefruit.  I'm struggling to imagine where it's all fitting in down there.  I'm not meant to be able to feel it just yet; apparently it's still tucked away under my pubic bone.  Last night I had a really vivid dream that I could feel it down low in my tummy and that if I was really quiet and still, I could rest my fingers there and sense movement.  That's not in the bounds of reality yet, but (fingers crossed) "soon come."

June 8, 11 weeks - It's A.... Uterus!

This morning, I laid with my hand resting on my tummy and realized I could feel a certain "tautness" under my skin.  Holy crap - that's my uterus!  I'm sure that wasn't there last week, and suddenly it's halfway to my belly button.  How did I not notice that before?  For my own reference, it's six fingers below my belly button - and filling up entire right side of my tummy, whilst barely crossing the center meridian.

It's an encouraging sign of actual growth - the first real physical confirmation, and frankly I'm endlessly fascinated with it at the moment.  I can only feel it if I'm flat on my back, and I keep tracing its extent with my finger tips and trying to imagine the little bean in there.  I think I have this idea that it's much tinier than its actual size.  I mean, sure, I'm told the baby's grown another centimeter this week to 4 cm - supposedly the size of a fig.  I'd be lying if I said I have much of an idea of a fig's general size.  I circle my fingers into a ring about the right size and place it on my tummy, trying to visualize it.  But the picture I carry of the little bean in my head is tiny - probably a third it's actual size.

June 15, 12 weeks - Scary sign, all clear now

This past week, I had a tiny (but I do mean tiny) bleeding scare that went on from Saturday to Tuesday (11+1-4).  I tried to tell myself to be calm and that it's perfectly normal, not necessarily a problem.  Because I wasn't in pain or losing a lot of blood, there was no reason to go to the emergency room and the midwife advised as long as that was the case there wasn't much point trying to get a scan any sooner than the scheduled appointment this coming Tuesday.    However, it's one of those things that you don't really know if it's serious until it's over, one way or another, and when it first started, I got upset when I envisioned the worst outcome.  The scan was 10 days away at that point and it felt like an eternity.

Then it went as mysteriously as it came - I'm hoping it was just a bit of breakthrough because the preggers hormones weren't completely overriding my normal cycle.  It happens.

My uterus has grown a bit over the week, to accommodate the bean which is now 5.5 cm from crown to rump.  It's now only 5 fingers below my belly button and it's crossed a little to the left side as well.  Go little bean - I can't wait to see you at the scan!

June 19, 13 wks, 1 day - Scan day!

Relief, elation, amazement... I'm not sure if I can write the words necessary to do justice to the scan experience.  If you've experienced it yourself, then anything I say will be no revelation.  If you've not... well, it is nearly indescribable.

I spent most of my first trimester enduring a mild level of anxiety that I might not even make it to the scan, or that once I did I would get bad news.  But somehow, after the little scare I had last week resolved itself, I did start to really embrace this pregnancy and feel much more positive.  I would describe myself as more excited for the scan than nervous when today finally arrived.

We settled into the sonographer's office and she dimmed the lights.  D later joked that he was waiting for the THX sound system riff to kick in. :-) There was a screen up on the wall that D and I could both see, and as soon as the wand was placed on my belly, we saw baby beanie tucked up in there fat and happy.  It was mind-blowing.  That's our baby!

D quickly spotted the heart, but I never did notice it beating (though D did).  The image sliding around proved distracting and I just let it all wash over me.  I didn't want to analyze what I was seeing until I knew there were no concerns.  Then our baby did a little jump in response to the pressure and I was delighted.  It lives!  D asked if I could feel that, but it is way too early.  It was very strange watching all the activity happening in my belly but not being able to detect it at all.

The scan lasted about 20 minutes and I could have watched it for hours.  We were looking through me and seeing our child.  The technology, though it's been around for decades, is simply amazing and I feel so fortunate that I live in a time where such things are possible.

The sonographer declared the baby looks "lovely," measuring 6.75 cm from crown to rump and moving my due date ahead by 5 days.  All too soon it was over and I was sent off, clutching our scan photos of baby beanie and sporting a huge grin on my face.

June 25, Week 14 - Dates

Based on the baby's size at the scan, our due date is predicted to be Christmas Eve.  This for a child who was conceived at Easter and discovered on St. George's Day.  Based on that history, I wouldn't be surprised if it decides to turn up on Christmas morning, just to make an entrance.  Though I do kind of pity the child with a birthday so close to Christmas.  My own is January 13th, and I never really liked having it so soon after the Christmas holiday.  Perhaps I can teach Baby Beanie to embrace the Christmas season as one huge party to celebrate their birthday.  D & I love Christmas, and if we're honest we are a tiny bit bummed that our little one is due then because we never really got to do our traditional celebration last year while preparing for the move to England, and this year... who knows, we might be celebrating in the hospital.

However, I'm telling myself not to get too wrapped up in the dates.  If this baby's gestational period is the average 38 weeks from conception, then I would expect its appearance closer to New Years Day.  If Baby Beanie takes after dad, then it's likely going to be a tall one, so that could skew the date estimated at the scan.  It would be hard enough to go overdue - no use making it worse for myself by focusing overmuch on an estimated due date that might be nearly a week early.

What I'm really hoping for is an early delivery of a small but perfectly-formed baby.  Wouldn't it be cool for Baby Beanie's birthday to fall on 12/12/12?  In any case, "Go Team 2012!"

July 2, Week 15 - Nothing to see here, folks

Though I'm not showing at all and have only gained 4 lbs (3 in the first three weeks after that positive test!), there are visible signs that both D and I can see of Baby Beanie's growth.  When I first wake up, before I'm up and about and gravity tucks everything back down below, we can see an actual tiny bump - and baby still has a definite preference for the right side of my tummy.  My uterus has grown enough that some mornings its top has migrated nearly up to my belly button, though it is usually about 3-4 fingers lower.

On Sunday morning, Baby Beanie had uncharacteristically wandered over to my left side and nearly up to my belly button and there was a sharply visible protrusion that, had it been later in pregnancy, I would have sworn was an elbow.  As I chilled out in bed for a few hours, that same sharp bump wandered around my tummy until Baby Beanie settled back into the customary lower-right-side location.  I started to wonder if I was feeling some sort of cyst, but later on Baby Beanie must have changed position, and the bump returned to its normal taut, smooth and round shape.  Maybe it was Baby Beanie's bottom?

Baby Beanie is supposed to be about 9 cm (3.5") now.  When I think about the rate of growth, its astounding - that's nearly 30% since the scan.  I do want to document progress of the bump in photos, and that wouldn't be complete without a "before" picture for reference.  I'd best get that taken soon, before Baby Beanie catches me out and makes a surprise appearance on my waistline.  Might be any day now... or it might be months.  I do have my fingers crossed for one of those discreet "basketball up the sweater" pregnancies that can't be detected from behind.

July 9, Week 16 - The Wanderer

Ever since last week, when the mysterious "bump on the bump" appeared, I've been visited more and more frequently by this odd phenomenon.  It moves from down near my bikini line to more than halfway to my belly button.  Sometimes it's very easy to trace its dimensions, which are roughly baby-sized (about 12 cm now, a little shy of 5 inches), and sometimes the thing isn't perceptible at all.  A very scientific search of google reveals that I'm not the only one to experience this, and the general consensus is that it's baby.  Baby Beanie, if indeed it is, nearly always makes an appearance when I wake up and I lay there for a few minutes with my hand over the taut little lump, trying to connect with the little one and detect any movement.

I had my 16 week appointment with the midwife today.  She measured my (still invisible) uterus at 15 cm and then had me lay back so we could listen to the baby's heartbeat.  She warned me it might be a bit difficult to find and not to panic if so... but as soon as she set the doppler wand on my tummy we could hear it, galloping away at 147 bpm.  She even heard it kick, though I didn't realize what I was hearing until the moment was already past.  It was so reassuring to hear the little ticker beating so strongly.

I described the "bump on a bump" thing to her and asked what she thought it was.  Unfortunately, the bump was in hiding, so she couldn't actually feel it at the time.  To my disappointment, she guessed it might be a fibroid or maybe even a part of my bowel.  Which means all this time, I might have been communing with lumps of poo.

July 16, Week 17 - The Almost-Before

Week 16 (+5)
I finally got around to taking a "before" picture this weekend - not a moment too soon and possibly a few days too late.  The only mirror in our current house is a tiny medicine cabinet mounted too high to see my tummy, so I was kind of surprised by how evident the bit of bump is in this photo.

This week's milestone: I had to wear my favorite jeans with the top button discreetly open.  (Side note: I'm about to talk about my uterus, but I've decided I really dislike the clinical nature of that term in this forum. Alternatively, "womb" seems so - I don't know - Edwardian. But even "the google" couldn't come up with a suitable substitute, so uterus it is.)  My uterus, which had previously grown almost exclusively into the right side of my tummy, has now evened things up by claiming a decent amount of real estate to the left of my belly button.  But there hasn't been much outward progress yet, which frankly doesn't bother me at all.  The longer I can stay in my normal clothes, the better.

Oh, and the "bump-on-a-bump" is definitely not poo.  That's the baby - I know because it's gotten bigger and is in evidence most of the time now, plus that's where the heartbeat can be found with the Doppler.  The most uncomfortable moments are when it sits so far down and to the right that I'd swear it was planning to tunnel down my thigh.  I'm still surprised that the midwife didn't know what I was talking about when I described it, but perhaps not everyone experiences this.

Other developments: I noticed this week that my normally fine, thin hair has thickened up enough that I don't feel like hacking it off now it has reached shoulder length.  Then I realized that I could really do with a manicure because my paper thin nails hadn't all been torn or broken off after reaching 1/8" long.  So there really is something to that thicker hair and nails thing in pregnancy.  Shame I hear it doesn't last much past birth.

If asked, I would tell you that I haven't really experienced any cravings, though I do find that certain things I eat taste simply phenomenal.  For instance, I had a packet of cheese and onion crisps (that is, potato chips - I do speak English now), which I haven't ever found particularly inspiring.  They were the most Amazing. Crisps. Ever.  And I do have to admit to eating about 2/3 of a seriously large bottle of olives in the last 4-5 days, so perhaps that is a craving of some sort.

July 23, Week 18 - Moving Day?

On Friday (17+4), I was sat on the couch and I got this strange feeling in my tummy, like one of my internal organs was relocating itself.  I placed my fingers on the bump-on-the-bump and while I sat there, it pulled its disappearing trick.  I had noticed that sometimes it was quite prominent and others, not-so-much, but I'd never actually felt it change states before.  While I don't know if that actually counts as feeling the baby move, it seems it must count for something.

The next day, D & I were having a cup of tea and I felt another odd feeling in my tummy, like brief series of rapid muscle twitches but in a place I've never had a muscle twitch before.  I felt it a few more times over the next hour or so but nothing in the day or two since then.  I've tried to determine how I would describe the feeling and how that relates to what I've heard "the quickening" feels like:

1) Bubbles or popcorn popping: nope.

2) Tumbling or rolling motion - strike two... though that might describe the feeling I had the day before.  I always thought that people meant the feeling I used to call "tickle-belly hills" when my dad quickly crested sharp hills on Pennsylvania country roads, but it wasn't like that.

3)  Fluttering, or butterfly wings: if that movement is more like the frantic wing beats of a moth trapped on the wrong side of the screen from a flame, then perhaps we're onto something here.

Time will tell if those were the first detectable movements of Baby Beanie or not, but it's certainly something I've never felt before.

Another development: we stayed overnight in Wales this past weekend and I had access to a full-length mirror in which to examine myself in a state of undress for the first time in my pregnancy.  After reviewing the state of the bump, I walked out and showed D how "big" I'm getting.  He was a bit surprised, then said, "You're pushing it out on purpose!"  "Nuh-uh!" I told him, "I'm actually trying to suck it in as much as possible - see?"  With that, I tried to demonstrate that there was no more sucking-in to be done.  D told me, in all seriousness, not to do that - as if it could be bad for the baby, which was really cute.  Hmmm - you think that's a bad idea, but re-engaging in the very act that engendered my delicate condition is perfectly fine?  Just saying :-).

July 30, Week 19 - Who ate all the pies?

Week 18 (+5)
Who ate all the pies?
Who ate all the pies?
You fat bastard! You fat bastard!
You ate all the pies!
         - British Football Chant

To anyone that doesn't know me - and in fact to almost anyone that does - I don't look pregnant at all. At most, in a clingy t-shirt, I just look a bit pudgy around the middle.  The past week or two, growth in my tummy area has been very noticeable to me, and I've started to feel really full after meals, so there's definitely less room in there for my stomach.

The part of my bump that is truly baby (as opposed to the unsightly bulge created by my innards being squished by my growing womb) is usually tucked down and inside so low as to be nearly indetectable.  The one time this isn't true is when I first wake up and gravity hasn't had its way with me all night.  The baby is free to roam as far up as my belly button because my uterus has claimed all real estate south of there.  Then you can actually see a genuine baby bump, as shown in my iphone self-portrait above.  If I was sporting a cute little bump like that all the time, I'd be proud to flaunt it.  As it is, I just look like I ate all the pies... and I'll keep it shrouded in forgiving clothing for a while longer.

Overall, I continue to feel brilliant, but I'm disappointed that I haven't been able to definitely feel the baby moving yet.  Every now and then I feel something odd and wonder, "Was that it?" but the moment passes so quickly I'm not even entirely sure what I felt.  I'm excited for the time (soon come, fingers crossed) when I feel those first kicks that I'm sure about.

August 6, Week 20 - The Fear (Redux)

I was doing pretty well pushing the bad thoughts away for a while.  This week we have our 20-week anomaly scan, and I'm so excited to see the baby again.  But at the edge of my mind, the fear has come creeping back in.  What if they find a problem... what if they don't find a problem but there is one?  How would I deal with a disabled child?

Until the fear wrapped me in its cold tentacles again, I was relaxing into my pregnancy and the whole miraculous process.  I've been feeling so good throughout - very little weight gained, no severe discomfort, still sleeping well and fitting into my clothes almost normally.  But since I still haven't felt much, if any, movement from Baby Beanie, and now I wonder - am I not growing enough?  Why haven't I felt any kicks?  Is everything okay?

Given that I feel so brilliant, I wish I could say I'm one of those women that loves being pregnant.  And for the most part, I have.  But I can't truly enjoy it while the fear stalks me.  So I try to distract myself by thinking happier thoughts.  Like 20 weeks is halfway to d-day.  Soon we'll know whether I'm baking a little KB or a mini D.  After we get through this scan, hopefully with flying colors, it's time to start figuring out not just how to enjoy this pregnancy, but how to actually be a parent.

August 10, Week 20 + 4 - Scan Day II; Deflation

I just got back from the hospital after the 20 week scan and I'm feeling a bit delicate.  Deflated is the best way to describe it.  I was hoping to be all "Yippee! I got to see beautiful Baby Beanie squirming away, everything's perfect and we're team [pink]/[blue]!"

But it's not to be.  I'm somewhere between actually worried because there might be something to be worried about and telling myself not to worry because really, everything could be absolutely fine.  But let's start the saga at the beginning.

First of all, today wasn't even supposed to be scan day.  Yesterday was.  Last time we went to the hospital, which is only 10 minutes from here, we almost missed our appointment time because the hospital parking lot was nearly at capacity, and the OB ward was a camel ride away from the parking lot, so I was literally sprinting to make it across the hospital grounds to arrive on time.

Yesterday we prepared to leave for the hospital a good 40 minutes before the appointment to get there in plenty of time.  We pushed the button for the automatic driveway gates and they didn't move.  D got the override key, but because the manual locks hadn't been used for so long, they were seized.  So our car sat trapped on the drive while the appointment time came and went.  Figures those bloomin' gates would fail at the only moment in weeks that I actually needed to be somewhere on time.  If it had even been an hour beforehand, I could have at least arranged a cab.  I called the hospital and the NHS said it would be at least three weeks before they could reschedule. 

I was distressed.  I had been counting down the days until I could get some reassurance at the scan, trying to keep The Fear at bay, and now was faced with potentially weeks of more waiting.

Fortunately they called back later and offered me a cancellation spot the very next day.  Thank heavens for small blessings.

We got into the scan room, and I was looking forward to another amazing experience like the first one.  Instead, the sonographer (who was brilliant, by the way) had to spend a bunch of time doing measurements and we didn't get to see much of anything that looked like a baby, and certainly didn't get to watch it long enough to see it move.  I had to check with the sonographer at the end of the scan for assurance that the baby even was moving.  We did see the heart beating in detail, which was cool.  But the photos weren't great. 

We found out that I'm carrying the placenta to the front, so it will likely be up to a month more before I can really feel the baby move.

We found out that I've got a fibroid blocking the birth canal so I need to be monitored and there's a good chance I'll have to deliver via scheduled c-section.

Worst of all, I've found out the baby that measured so large at the first scan my due date was moved forward 5 days is now measuring at the small end of normal.  We've been told that the baby looks perfect, it's just small; so now we have to go back in a month to check it's growing alright.  But of course, it feels to me like those two scans show it's already not growing alright.  So I've got another month to deal with The Fear, and now it's not even completely baseless (just mostly baseless).

I'm trying to tell myself that it's not a big deal... it's really not.  Babies measure in a range, and ours is simply on the low end of normal - not even below normal.  I was only 5 lbs 14 oz when I was born and I'm no Amazon now, so it's not unreasonable that our baby might be small.  In fact, if I'm cleared to deliver naturally I'll be thrilled with a small baby, as long it's growing.

What didn't we find out?  Whether we've got a baby boy or baby girl on the way.  The sonographer said that the baby wasn't in a great position and she could hazard a guess but wasn't really sure. 

So I'm feeling a bit of a post-scan let down. For now I'll be trying to focus on the positives:
  • Not having to push a human being out my hoo-ha isn't necessarily a bad thing, nor will having a definitive delivery date if I need a scheduled c-section.
  • I said I wouldn't mind a small but perfectly-formed baby and there isn't any reason to believe it's to be otherwise at the moment.
  • The growth concern and the fibroid position is guaranteeing I'll get better than the minimum (and in my mind insufficient) standard level of NHS prenatal care.

August 13 - Week 21, Photo Op

20 week scan
I was a bit disappointed that the photo from the 20 week scan didn't really show Baby Beanie's facial profile.  As if the fact that we can't really see his or her little nose made me feel less connected somehow.  So on Friday I put the photo away and didn't really think much about it as I tried to process my feelings about the other things I learned at the scan.

But today I pulled the picture out again to digitze it when a co-worker mentioned that the ink on the facsimile-type paper will degrade over time.

And for some reason, my eye was drawn not to the missing profile, but to the exquisite detail of the little baby fist.  I wondered what moment had been captured here.  Is Baby Beanie winding up to give me one of those unfelt punches?  Has its little thumb just popped out of its mouth?  Is it about to launch into its own version of mama's signature karaoke performance anthem - Prince's Kiss?  It struck me that there is a tiny little person in there with 10 fingers and 10 toes and rapidly connecting neurons that are increasing its ability to perceive and react to its environment more and more every day. 

And then I knew - this was the moment that little one reached out and grabbed my heart in its little hand. 

August 27 - Week 23, Finally!

I was away last week visiting a couple of dear friends - my last chance before Baby Beanie arrives.  I was so excited to see them that I barely noticed any effect of jet lag.  I was so high on camraderie, I felt I could have stayed awake two days straight.  The inevitable crash came after flight snafus resulted in a grueling 26 hour journey home (Air Canada: We're not happy 'til you're not happy!) and I slept for over 15 hours when I finally got back. 

I did come home with a little something extra... the bump is finally, officially here!  I've been too tired to get an updated bump photo taken - but I promise that for next week.  For the past two weeks, I've felt so full all the time - well, except for that tiny moment of hunger right before I eat.  But as soon as I eat or drink anything, I feel like I've indulged in a holiday feast.  I can't stand that feeling, but I think its gonna get worse before it gets better.

Also, I can finally, definitely, feel the wee one move!  It first started while I was away.  Near the beginning of the week, I was feeling a few little thumps and twitches that I was almost sure were Baby Beanie, but there was always that question in my mind about whether I felt anything at all.  Then I started to feel these little shock waves through my bladder, like I have to pee SO BAD for about a millisecond.  It seemed like it kept happening while I was sat in a moving car, so there was still a question about whether it was baby or a just a bumpy road.

But while sitting still today, I had three or four good kicks to the bladder that left me in no doubt that I've got a little footballer on board!  It's not the most comfortable way to bond with Baby Beanie, but its so reassuring I'll take what I can get.

September 3 - Week 24, Behold: The Bump!

For reference, this was me about 7 weeks ago:

And this is me now:
23 weeks + 6 days
Ever heard of the dickey-doo problem?  It's when a guy's stomach sticks out more than his... well, you can guess the point.  Anyway, this tidy little bump has only really made its appearance in the past two weeks, and I'm pleased to note I'm rocking the boobie-doo phenomenon!

I probably should have taken another bump photo somewhere in the middle of that 7 week time frame for posterity's sake, but honestly I found it a little depressing.  I didn't really look pregnant, but I no longer had a flat tummy either.

Now, none of my trousers button and if you notice my tummy at all you'd probably figure out I hadn't just pigged out at my last meal.

In the past couple of days I've started to find it a bit uncomfortable to bend over to tie my shoes, or curl myself into a tiny little ball, which is one of my favorite positions.  I don't mind - it means the little one is growing and that does wonders to put my mind at ease.

Plus, Baby Beanie has decided not only to use my bladder as a bouncy castle, but to deliver proper kicks on a regular basis.  I've felt definite movements every day this past week.  I love this, and I plan to enjoy it as much as possible before those jabs start to hurt!

September 10, 25 weeks - Growing Like a (Baby) Bean(ie)stalk

We have a nose!
Last week we had our follow up growth scan, and unlike the deflation I felt after the 20-week scan, this one was the uplifting experience I had previously hoped for.  We saw Baby Beanie wriggling about and the sonographer gave us a "tour" of the little one.  The baby is still measuring small, but in the normal range and has grown perfectly since our last scan.  Baby was was lying transverse, head to the right and slightly down, feet to the left, facing downwards with it's back curled up towards my ribs.  Oh, yeah, and we still have to call Baby Beanie "it" because despite two good looks, the sonographer still couldn't tell us if we're Team Blue or Team Pink.  No boy bits spotted, but the "hamburger" presentation for a baby girl wasn't visible either.  I don't really mind if Baby Beanie is coy enough to keep it a secret until the big day, but D would really like to know.  I would hazard a guess that there's a 3-in-4 chance we're having a baby girl, rather than a 50-50 shot at either.  Our next scan is on October 2nd, so we'll try to have a peek then.

September 14, (almost) 26 weeks - Doing Time on the Maternity Ward

I'll start this story off by saying it has a happy ending.  Last Monday I had a routine appointment with the midwife where I relayed the results of the growth scan, had a urine test which came up perfectly clear and told her I was feeling absolutely brilliant.

Then I went home and worked until nearly 1 a.m.

Tuesday, I woke up feeling a bit crampy but ignored it and went to work and had an uneventful day in the office.  However, that evening in the grocery store I noticed that my tummy seemed to be getting quite taut on a fairly frequent basis.  As I've been having Braxton Hicks contractions for a while now, I didn't think much of it.  It wasn't until I was finally relaxing later in the evening that I noticed these painless contractions were actually coming quite regularly.  I started to time them, and was surprised to find they were 2-3 mins apart.  I went to bed and slept fitfully, then woke around 5 am and timed the contractions again - still no let up.  By 9 am, I'd been advised to go to the hospital.  I think the staff there are used to 25-weekers like myself coming in worried over nothing, but as soon as the triage midwife laid her hands on my tummy it tightened up like a potato bug rolling into its shell.  She said they don't usually put someone at 25 weeks onto the monitor, but when she did, my contractions were 3-4 in 10 minutes and were off the scale she initially set the machine to measure. She dubbed them "quite impressive."  The good news is that Baby Beanie was head down with a strong heartbeat and moving about well.  We even got to listen to a bout of hiccups from the little one.

"Quite impressive" contractions
Eventually a doctor checked my cervix and found, much to our relief, that there was no evidence of dilation.  A fibronectin swab that tests for the presence of fetal cells outside the cervix was negative, which is an indicator that there's a 97% chance I won't enter active labour in the next 10-14 days.  These were all good signs, but given the "impressive" contractions, I was admitted to the hospital around 2 pm for observation to make sure I wasn't part of the other 3%.  I wasn't told how long that observation would continue or what my ticket outta there was.

I was installed in a prenatal ward with 5 other women experiencing complications, one of whom at 31 weeks along had been in hospital for 6 weeks already!  Then D and I entered this odd dimension where time just doesn't seem to move forward.  I was finally told around 7 pm there wasn't any chance I was going to be discharged that evening and I sent D home, because there was nothing he could do.  I was feeling unusually calm - I was in no pain and there were no signs of imminent labour, just those darn contractions.

Time spent in the maternity ward is an odd thing.  There was no TV and no internet, and I passed the time reading books and magazines on my e-reader or watching a few TV episodes I had fortunately downloaded to my phone. I liken it to the confinement of an international flight, with a much comfier bed and easier access to the toilet.  People bring you food on their schedule, and you eat it whether you like it or not.  It's best to be prepared with plenty of your own entertainment.  The shared situation breeds a strange kind of intimacy with your seatmates/wardmates (cellmates?), if you choose to engage in conversation.  Or you can just put in your headphones and retreat into your own world.  It is something to simply be endured until your time there is over.

After a fitful night's sleep, or lack thereof, I was no worse the next morning.  As the matron said at the shift change handover, these "tightenings" didn't seem to be doing me or baby any harm and I was keen to go home (they actually wrote that on my chart).  So around 11 am, I was discharged and sent home to rest.  Which I did.  After two terrible nights, I was asleep for a good 12 hours in that first 16 hours back home.  For the moment, I'm not on bed rest or any significant restriction of activity, and I'm cleared to go back to work after the weekend.  I'm just supposed to monitor any contractions and get back to the hospital if they become painful.

At the end of the day, it seems this was much ado about nothing.  If I hadn't gone to the hospital, Baby Beanie and I'd be no worse off than we are now.  But with these things, it's much better safe than sorry.  The contractions have subsided, back to the (in)frequency I'd been experiencing for several weeks.  Who knows why they kicked in on Tuesday evening, but I'm under strict instructions from the husband that there will be no more midnight work sessions for me, even if I am doing them on the couch in my pajamas.

September 24, 27 Weeks - Holy Crap, I'm the Mum!

During my time in the hospital, which I've come to consider a simple dress rehearsal for actually going in to deliver the baby, the midwives would come round a couple of times a day to listen to the baby's heartbeat with the portable doppler.  At one point, a trainee midwife was having difficulty locating Baby Beanie.  The senior midwife was instructing her to try lower down and various angles, but to no avail.  Finally I pointed at a spot on my tummy where the monitor belt had been located earlier and said, "You might want to try there."  Sure enough, we heard the heartbeat loud and clear.

Then the senior midwife smiled and said to the trainee, "Or sometimes just ask the mum... she knows best."

That statement was one of those light bulb moments.  I thought, "That's me - I'm the mum!"  Of course, I know intellectually that I'm going to be a mother soon.  I've started to consider what sort of parent I want to be and how I hope to deal with the challenges that come with having a little one.  But this felt like the first moment when a total stranger acknowledged me, the mum, as the person that knows baby best.  Mind blowing.

* * *

This past week, I've been feeling loads of fidgets from the little one, and have been trying to tune into patterns.  There's one particular spot on the side of my tummy right up, about 11:00 if a clock face was drawn on me, where Baby Beanie loves to kick or squirm.  It's the only place where I've been able to put my hand on my tummy and feel real thumps from the outside.  It tickles my palm when Baby Beanie does that.  The rest of the movements tend to feel like little jumps that echo through my whole tummy.  And occasionally, it feels like baby is kicking my bum from the inside, which makes me laugh.

I think Baby Beanie might have turned a bit sidewards again.  There's often a good sized lump pressing out of my right side - I think it might be baby's bottom.  If I rub it gently to try to convince the little one to move to a comfier position, I can feel it lightly on the opposite side - a bump which I presume must be its head.  Baby must be starting to get crowded in there.  I'm told that Baby Beanie should be about 14 inches long and right about 2 lbs.  While I've got a clearly evident bump that people are starting to comment on, I'm still fairly small, which suits me fine.

90 days to go 'til the Christmas Eve due date!!! I'll say it again - holy crap!

October 2nd, 28 weeks (+1 day) - Progression

17-ish weeks
24 weeks
Lettin' it all hang out at 28 weeks

While I've definitely been noticing the bump growth in the past couple weeks, I'm still pretty small.  So small, in fact, that the difference from the last photo at 24 weeks was fairly unimpressive until I just let it all hang out.  Usually, I try to keep my abs engaged when standing or walking around, figuring the more I use them, the better my post-partum recovery will be.

The brilliant thing about being this size is that I know that no matter how big or uncomfortable I get, I'll have only a short period of feeling that way.

Last week I finally gave in to maternity jeans.  The first set I ordered has panel designed to go"over-the-bump" and I hate them with a passion.  As there is precious little maternity wear stocked in-store around here, I had to order them online, and they showed up a size too big.  Neither my bump nor my bum are big enough to hold those suckers up, and there are no belt loops or anything to address the problem.  I'm sure I'll appreciate the extra room in a little while - but for now they suck.

I then ordered a second pair of maternity jeans. They were my first choice, which I initially passed on because they cost twice as much, but went on sale 50% off.  Cha-ching!  These have a wide elastic band designed to be worn under the bump and fit much better.  I'll be living in them for a while, methinks, both before and after the birth.
* * *
Yesterday, Baby Beanie and I were in for another growth scan.  The little one has put on a bit of a spurt, and now measures just under average but still didn't reveal its gender secret.  Our niece, L, has increased the bet against her dad that the baby's a little girl to 50p.  As the only girl out of seven of our baby's cousins, L's keenly Team Pink.

The scan also checked on the status of the fibroids and I was told to come back in for additional scans at 32 weeks and 36 weeks.  The call whether there will be a scheduled c-section won't be made until at least that 36 week appointment.  Otherwise, we both look healthy and well, and I continue to feel great.

October 19th, 30 weeks (+4 days)There's a Party Going On

The past couple weeks have been very busy both in the womb and out.  At a time when many other mums-to-be are describing baby's movement as slowing down because quarters are getting a bit cramped, Baby Beanie has come into its own.  I feel thumps and bumps throughout the day now, and baby is kicking as I write this.

Recently D and I (re)acquired a Wii and PGA Tour Golf game, so we can reinstate Friday Wii golf and vodka redbull night... minus the vodka redbull for me, of course.  The thing is, D is so excited to have a Wii again, we've played a round of golf every night for a few weeks now.  I often find that time of the evening is quite active for Baby Beanie.  When I play Wii golf, I really go for it.  I wind up, then start my swing with the hips, just like I was taught in real life.  I can only imagine the sloshing around that's generating inside and I smile to think of Baby Beanie bracing his/her little limbs against the womb walls and going "WTF, Mama!?"

This was my facebook status update the other day:

It's true.  Contrary to weeks before, where often I'd have to be in a quiet moment and concentrating to notice the baby moving, now the little one intrudes when I'm trying to get real work done.  I was sat in the corner at a meeting in a full conference room, laptop on my knees, when I noticed my whole stomach visibly pulsing.  And I think it's those moments when Baby Beanie forces its way into my consciousness during "everyday" life....those moments when I've forgotten for a bit that I'm pregnant... that I feel a bit freaked out.  There's a person in there... and it has to come out sometime.  I have to give birth... then I have to be a mum!

However, I also told D the other day that I figure nature had things worked out pretty well because when we were considering getting pregnant, I simply couldn't imagine the birth.  I kind of blocked out that whole part of the process as a potential personal experience.  But now that I've had a good six months to contemplate the birth process, I've accepted the inevitability of it and moved on.  It's a good thing I didn't have, say, the 9 week gestational period of a kitten, or I might not have gotten used to the idea in time.

October 30th, 32 weeks (+1 day) - Acquisitions

First off, the bump photo progression:
17 weeks

24 weeks

28 weeks
32 weeks

Today, we had another growth scan.  The baby is still small, still growing fine, and still keeping its legs clamped shut. 

We just returned from a lovely and relaxing week in Wales, and early in the week away, we stopped by a dedicated teddy bear shop in Hay-on-Wye.  There were hundreds to choose from. Stumbling upon this shop was appropriate because, ever since we found out we were having a baby, D was excited to choose a teddy bear for the little one to love until it's as worn as the Velveteen Rabbit.  His heart was drawn to a particular cuddly bear that already has a charming, well-loved vibe.  After a thorough search of all other contenders, we kept coming back to that first one and decided to take him home.  Behold, Bear "Stitchie" Teddington, who has become an unofficial mascot around here.  He hangs out in the living room, critiquing our Wii golf swings and rolling his eyes at our TV choices.

I also purchased and laundered a bunch of newborn onesies and sleepers, and since tumble dryers are rarer than hen's teeth in Britian, there were teeny baby clothes draped all over the house to dry.  It was so strange to be folding up little clothes and thinking, "these are for our baby."  It's starting to feel very real now.

We've got a lot of the basic necessities sorted - a place for baby to sleep, a car seat, a newborn wardrobe, a stroller.  I have generous friends and family to thank for sharing what they have with us.  Even though we are trying to get by with the absolute minimum of "stuff" because our home is tiny, the accountant in me needed make a spreadsheet to keep track of what we've already got and what we still need.  This kitting out for a baby thing takes some thought... and space!

November 13th, 34 weeks (+1 day) - Ravenous

It might be too early to turn our unborn child into
an England Rugby Fan, but not too early for D
to start with its bear.  Come on, England!

Throughout this pregnancy I haven't had any particular food aversions, or cravings for that matter.  I've found that certain foods taste amazing, but that's about it.  However, in a new development, the past few days I have been absolutely ravenous.  Second breakfast? Yes, please.  Second lunch, dinner and an evening snack too.  Apparently, baby and I require just 300 extra calories a day in these final weeks.  300 measly calories?  That's not going to do at all.

Despite putting on 24 pounds so far - exactly on track - I don't look or feel particularly different, except in profile.  One of my co-workers, bless him, told me not only do I not look pregnant from behind... you can barely tell in a straight on front view.  But I tell you, if I stay this hungry for the next six weeks, I can easily see packing on a quite a few before this baby gets here.

For the past two weeks I've noticed a real change in Baby Beanie's movements.  Loads of wriggles and squirms and less little thumps echoing through my whole tummy, but no painful jabs.  Last week, Baby Beanie kept stroking my side, just under my ribs, and it tickled so much I actually giggled out loud. Only recently, I've been noticing baby's hiccups fairly often too.  We saw the baby practicing breathing in and out at the last sonogram, so that's probably kicking the hiccups off - and now the baby's bigger they are much more noticeable to me.

I can't believe that I'm only six weeks from the due date.  Especially in the past month, the time has just flown by, and I feel absolutely brilliant.  I've had an itchy belly now and then, and the constant need to pee is annoying, but really there is not much to complain about.  Like waiting for the other shoe to drop, I'm a little worried about when this will get hard.  The delivery, maybe? Coming home with a colicky baby?  Nursing difficulties?  I really can't be this lucky, can I?


    1. Oh, you look so pretty--you always do, but I am sure that I see a "preggers glow." I love reading this week by week account-and olives were DEFINITELY a craving that I had, with Abby.

      1. I love the picture and your musings. Keep up with the writing, it's so much fun to read. And you look wonderful. Mom

    2. Love this. Some day you will look back and be so glad you wrote it all down. I'm doing that already. Hugs. Thinking of you!

    3. I want an updated baby bump picture!!!!!

    4. Just caught up with your entries - hope the last few weeks are going well!

    5. Read this once before, and now working my through again. Now it means a little more to me b/c I can relate!

      Just yesterday I was thinking that everything sure seemed to be on one side, glad I'm not imagining things.