Diary of a pregnancy – part II

June. 27 ish weeks. We have a month to move out of our house. Dave reckons I’m insane to insist on packing this early, but I’m adamant to take a tortoise-like approach to the matter of moving. It’s an exercise in enfuriating patience; I can pack a box of books, but not lift it, and I have to restrain myself from the temptation to totter at the top of stepladders.

We finish our so-called Hypnobirthing class. It feels bizarre to me that there’s such a heavily branded and marketed version of birth activism, of all things. So despite appreciating the information and the techniques, I can’t help bristling a little at the brandedness. I return to the writings of Ina May Gaskin, whose wisdom and vision seems to me far more authentic, inclusive far-reaching than that of the Hypnobirthing programme. Nonetheless, perhaps the important thing is that the acceptance and confidence to give birth naturally and in a non-medicalised environment is becoming available here. The first woman from our class gives birth easily and naturally, at home, and I’m gladdened to know that natural home births are gradually becoming a tiny bit more commonplace in this corner of the world.

The baby is moving around and kicking a lot. It feels like she’s doing somersaults in there some days – the kicking is all over the place. I can watch my belly like a cartoon in the bath.

June. 28ish weeks. On a whim, I decide to go visit a friend in London. Long-distance travel on the brink of heavily pregnant, and in the middle of a house move, is possibly not one of my best ideas yet. I look forward to a bit of London summer. That, too, is a non-starter.
London is colder than Cape Town. I seem to have forgotten that striding the streets of the Big Smoke in the third trimester is going to be somewhat taxing. Nonetheless, it’s a trip and a trip is always an adventure of sorts.

I spend mornings playing with four-year-old Leo and six-month-old Tommy. I’ve never seen anyone as interested in melon. I also can’t believe how small a six-month-old baby is. No idea how teeny a newborn is going to seem, when I’m used to picking up 20kg of 5-year-old in the middle of the night.

I soak up some West End London theatre, and walk miles and miles. I find some teeny weeny little girl clothes, mostly not in pink, and pack them carefully in my otherwise almost empty suitcase. It’s impossible to shop for myself as I’m expanding by the day. Somehow sushi bars and pubs have never been quite as appealing as when I’m seven months pregnant.

July. 30ish weeks. The trip to London has taken its toll. My hips have gone completely out of alignment – apparently there is a pregnancy hormone that rightly relaxes all the ligaments so the pelvis can move and stretch its way open a bit during the birth. The flip side is that everything tips out of alignment all the time. I walk around in stoic agony for a couple of weeks, til I eventually ask my midwife for advice. She sends me off to a heavenly chiropractor. Life gets bearable again.

I go back to TheatreSports class, and just the very mellow warm-up is enough to make me feel like I’m at boot camp. Pregnancy is a taste of your own mortality: every tiny movement is eventually a dance of creaking joints and ligaments. It’s bizarre to be of childbearing age, and feeling so very old and slow.

Late July. 33ish weeks. All three sisters-in-law have now had their babies – two little boys and one little girl, in the space of the last three months. The extended family has exploded. The Brits are getting hysterical over the imminent royal birth coming up; the South Africans are getting conspiracy-theoryish about the near-/almost-death of Mandela.

Dave takes a couple of days off work and we go visit Robben Island. Last time I went on that trip, the ex-prisoner’s tour and anecdotes were fascinating and deeply moving to me. This time, I was more absorbed by the view of the mountain, the glittering water, and the sudden memory of my own long swim from that island nearly ten years ago. The tour seemed superficial and shallow; with Mandela near death in hospital, mired under sinister clouds of political and family feuds, the tour guide’s patter seemed disconnected from anything real about being South African or living in South Africa. More meaningful was spending a day in the sunshine with husband and child, looking out for the different birds, taking a slow ride and a leisurely, sunny lunch. Life, it seems, is slowing right down.

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About Lisa

I live in South Africa with my husband and two small children, doing things, thinking about things and sometimes writing about them.
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2 Responses to Diary of a pregnancy – part II

  1. Kate Reeves says:

    Hi Lisa,
    This is Lara’s American friend, Kate (formerly Sipples, now Reeves). Your posts about pregnancy, labor, and delivery when you were expecting Kolya were a real inspiration to me, who hadn’t known much about natural childbirth. I’m thrilled that, not only are you expecting your second, but I’m expecting my first at the same time! Due approx. 2 months after you – December 15th. I had to chuckle at your description of the Hypnobirthing class, especially the “American and branded” reference. The time has come for us to choose a class to take, and I’m also leaning toward the southern California arm of the brand – Hypnobabies: https://hypnobabies.com/. Did you do any courses with Kolya – Bradley, Lamaze, or other? If you had to experience just one course, would Hypnobirthing be the one? I’m shying away from Bradley, given it’s subtitle of “husband-coached birthing”, having read and been profoundly affected by the article you shared by Michel Odent re: men staying out of the delivery room.
    Thanks for any thoughts, and big congratulations to you!
    Best,
    Kate
    katesreeves@gmail.com

  2. Lisa says:

    Hi Kate, and thanks for the comment on the blog! I seldom have any idea who’s reading this stuff, and it’s always lovely to know that some of it is resonating with someone, somewhere!

    Congratulations on your pregnancy; hope it’s all going well.
    On classes – it depends what you want to focus on. (I’ll email this reply to you too, but thought it may also be useful for anyone else quietly following the thread!)

    With Kolya, I was in the UK and we went to a very standard NCT (National Childcare Trust) course. It focused on (from what I remember!) the physiological developments of pregnancy, various aspects of labour, several relaxation and massage techniques. There was no specific “birth approach” ideology, though I think NCT echoes the biases of the NHS, so there was a fairly strong focus on the benefits of natural birth, and a kind of runthrough of the various drug options available for pain relief during labour. There was also a bit on breastfeeding and a few ‘new baby’ skills. I guess that’s what a standard antenatal course is geared towards (well, especially in the UK where the bias is towards encouraging natural birth rather than Caesarians – it may be different in the US, where the systematic bias is towards privatised healthcare and encouraging Caesarians as part of that system).

    To be honest, I would actually recommend Hypnobirthing (the Hypnobabies thing looks similar), but I’d shy away from believing that you have to faithfully follow any one technique or guru in order to have your best possible birth experience. If you did nothing else, buy Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Labour and Childbirth, and read it, and get your partner to read it. Though, in my experience, it may be easier to drag a man to five or six weeks of antenatal classes than to get them to read a book about it!

    L x

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