THE DIARY OF AN AMBIVALENT PREGNANCY
It has taken seven months for me to start enjoying being pregnant
‘I’m still not sleeping, am constantly sweaty and feel like I need a wee the moment I walk anywhere,’ says Cathy Adams
When you’re el duffo, the weeks between 16 and 32-ish are breathlessly called the “honeymoon” period. (Entirely different from a “babymoon” – we’ll come to that later.)
I’m now at the tail end of that phase – howl – but I’m finally, eventually, at last starting to enjoy being pregnant. Thank God: it’s only taken seven months and a baby that is now the size of a bunch of broccoli/ a raccoon hat from Moonrise Kingdom/ a Slinky Dog, according to the baffling size comparisons on the What To Expect pregnancy app.
Over the past seven months, I’ve been genuinely amazed at how the human body – and more pertinently, brain – adapts and copes with change. I started 2019 drinking vinho verde in Porto, looking forward to another year of near-constant travel.
By contrast, I’m now participating (albeit unwillingly) in the flight-free 2020 movement, at least for the next four months until I get my unborn a passport. Instead of travelling, I’m settling in for a good two months of sitting on my arse.
Really, the most incredible thing is that I’ve not totally lost my s**t over this new state of affairs: I never thought I’d actually enjoy slowing down and listening to what my body needs (biscuits). But after seven months of being pregnant, I’ve slowly got used to the idea that I’m going to be a parent – an unbelievable thought just a few months ago, when my only reaction was sheer dread.
How has this happened? The crucial thing for this megalomaniac writer has been exercising as much control as possible over my pregnancy. Not over the way my body looks (Ha! My boobs now rest gently on my stomach), but by arming myself with as much information as possible – whether that’s research on different prams, birth stories, nursery furniture or even actual nurseries.
I went to look around one over Christmas – which as well as having a good Ofsted rating comes with a two-year waiting list – and all I could think about was how noisy it was, and how quiet my child-free life seemed in comparison. But at least I now know what to expect. It’s the same when it comes to buying things for the baby. In November, we spent a good few hours fannying around John Lewis, looking at cots (or cotbeds?), car seats, prams and all the gunky stuff like breast pumps and nipple creams. I’ve actually enjoyed hearing about other people’s birth stories, too: I know it’s going to be hell, but at least I’m going into it with my eyes wide open.
People say that having a baby means the loss of total control and – even worse – the joy of giving into it, but knowing as much as possible about the process, the birth and, God forbid, the actual raising of the thing has been critical in making me feel ready and prepared.
Note that for all this bluster, we haven’t actually bought much stuff yet. In fact, the only things we do have for the incubatee are some cute gifts from friends and family, including a couple of knitted blankets, a swaddle and a white noise machine. One Independent colleague gifted him an “I’m a feminist” babygro, but I’m lukewarm about that one.
What else has helped this sudden change in third trimester mindset? For one, meeting a handful of other prospective parents in my neighbourhood for tentative coffees. In fact, it’s been rather nice to chat about dry nipples and car seats, so I know I’m not on my own come March. (Also, if anybody lives in southeast London and is due to give birth in March, please be nice to me in NCT classes?)
Now I’m in my third trimester, it gets much harder to fly (although not impossible: some airlines will fly you until 36 weeks). Yet amazingly, I’m okay with being grounded for the foreseeable. I’m reassured by the fact that I’ve had a packed second trimester full of exciting trips and holidays, to places like Greece, Naples, Morocco, San Francisco and finally a relaxing week in Dubai, right before Christmas. Plus, the bonus of going away while incubating is you can label every trip the ghastly “babymoon” (a romantic holiday taken by parents-to-be) and have people bring you biscuits by the pool.
Oh, biscuits. At seven months there’s also the unspeakable joy of eating an entire Terry’s Chocolate Orange and having three desserts a day entirely guilt-free – the rolls of fat I once had have helpfully been vacuumed up by my bump. There’s the joy of getting a seat on the tube. There’s the joy of balancing a mug of decaffeinated earl grey on my middle. (Although there’s also the not so much joy of getting my expanding middle stuck in the tight revolving doors to the office building.)
Of course at this point in pregnancy, I’m still not sleeping, am constantly sweaty and feel like I need a wee the moment I walk anywhere because the baby’s head is pressing into my bladder. My midwife told me he was head down at 28 weeks (already!) which makes me realise I’m likely raising another over-ambitious neophile.
Ping! That’s my weekly email from the NHS, reminding me that at 30 weeks, I’m three-quarters of the way there. Maybe it’s the hormones. Maybe I will actually miss being pregnant.