Mid-December. Roughly 3 weeks: Wedding. Not aware that I’m pregnant. Top button pops off my wedding dress, and there are some flattering comments about cleavage. We put this down to my wonderful dressmaker.
Few days later. Roughly 3 1/2 weeks: Two lines on a home pregnancy test! This is a good way to wake your partner up, especially when you’ve had an annoying disagreement the night before. “I’m pregnant,” you say. “Could’ve told you that last night when you were being so unreasonable,” he says gruffly, still half asleep. But he keeps the little plastic gidget with its two lines, as a memento.
Another week on. About 4 1/2 weeks: Somewhere between Christmas and New Year. We head off on a 2-week holiday up the coast. We haven’t really told anyone about this, besides the grandparents. But there is a a lot of insistent talk about watermelon cocktails. There is a lot of vodka. Even my usual lack of enthusiasm for alcohol is starting to draw scepticism. Eventually I have to explain why I’m really not going to be having these delicious-looking cocktails.
Another week on. About 5 1/2 weeks. Good thing we told holiday friends. They would’ve guessed anyway, what with my afternoon naps and inability to stay awake after 9pm. And sending Dave out for punnets of blueberries every other day. (Blueberries taste like soap to me usually. But for some reason I want LOTS right now.)
Mid-January. About 7 weeks. I admit to Kolya’s nanny that I’m pregnant. She says she figured it out at the beginning of December, when I got overreactive about the vacuum cleaner. I don’t tell her I wasn’t pregnant when that happened.
I also go for a doctor’s check-up. One embryo, not two. There are about a zillion twins in my family. So that’s quite a relief. Thankfully, my doctor is one of the three and a half medical people in this city who are supportive of midwifery. She jots down a name on a piece of paper, sends me off for routine blood tests, and tells me she will see me again at 36 weeks. I tell my gym trainer too, and she sets up a twice-weekly class tailored for me and one other client who’s pregnant. I feel a bit like I have a SWOT team on my side.
Late January. About 8 weeks. Socialising grinds to a halt. I’m a semi-zombie by noon; thoroughly zombie by mid-afternoon. Can’t really snap out of it til about 7 or 8 pm. This wreaks havoc with the late afternoon pattern of spending some time with Kolya, getting his bath and supper organised, making some sort of plan for our dinner later. Several times Dave comes home and finds me staring into space while K watches a DVD. We order a lot of takeaways.
Mid February. About 10 weeks. I’ve become almost entirely pescetarian. I eat fish at breakfast, lunch and supper. There’s also an incident where I find myself picking up Spur takeaways at 10.30am on the way into the bank. I feel like a caricature of pregnancy cravings. Don’t look remotely pregnant though. It’s all a bit unreal.
I’ve been cast in a couple of adverts, including one that involves a shoot with a lion. I get told not to tell the client I’m pregnant. I’m pretty wary around the lion.
Late February. 13 weeks. The sonographers do the much-awaited 3-month scan. Suddenly, to my surprise, it’s a she, and she looks healthy and happy. We’ve been private with the news til now, but we make a few calls. It still feels unreal to me, and people’s enthusiasm and delight surprises me.
Early March. 14 weeks. I’ve nearly stopped being such an afternoon zombie. I start cooking again. I go whole days without eating fish. I haul out my old copy of ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’. Like so much pregnancy/birth literature, it’s all centred around fear and uncertainty. I have much more fun on the visembryo site (www.visembryo.com), looking at what this tiny little bean-like life looks like.
I have, however, turned into a moody bitch of note. I have moments of roaring impatience and weep-worthy frustration. I get aggro in the car. I get argumentative and irritable. And emotional. Radio adverts make me cry. Kolya’s bedtime stories make me cry.
Later March. 16 weeks. I go to meet my midwife, Angela. She’s wonderfully warm and calming. She recommends a course called HypnoBirthing. I don’t like the name. Everyone tells me it’s wrongly named, that it shouldn’t be called that. I don’t the (TM) after the name either. But it seems like a good idea.
April. 20-ish weeks. Everything happens at the same time. We’ve sold our house, but we still haven’t found something we want to buy. Meantime, the 20-week scan throws up some irregularities, and the sonographers send us off for an amniocentesis. I watch them push a needle into my belly, watch the baby on the screen as she stays perfectly still for the 5 seconds it takes to draw out the few mls of amniotic fluid. Get sent to bed for a day, with strict instructions not to exert myself at all. The doctors are vague and uncommunicative afterwards. On strict instructions I take to my bed with magazines and chick-lit and feel fairly sorry for myself.
I’m still performing with TheatreSports most Tuesday nights.But being onstage requires you to let go of self-consciousness, to have a body that will do whatever your character requires. I’m constantly aware of my baby-belly suddenly, and I just can’t get into that unselfconscious space. My characters are all a bit slow.
We’re spending Wednesday evenings trying to stay awake through the HypnoBirthing class. It’s simultaneously lovely and interesting and informative, and infuriatingly American and branded. I find myself getting a little annoyed by aspects of the course, but also relieved that I’ve finally started to take some real steps towards relaxing and paying more attention to a calmer frame of mind. The classes also get me thinking about, and excited for, the birth, which til now has seemed a distant and hazy prospect.
At the same time, we discover that neighbours of friends want to sell their house. We go have a look at it, and start negotiations.
April. Few days later. After several miscommunications, the lab results come back. They’re simultaneously fine and totally vague, which means the technicians tell you the number of chromosomes and the sex, and have a disclaimer where they don’t rule out anything at all. But this is apparently the best possible outcome of this test. That and we seem to have bought a house.
April. 22-ish weeks. My gym partner is six weeks ahead of me in her pregnancy. She stops training. I feel a bit bereft about this; it was fun having a partner to train with. I don’t think exercising on my own is going to be such fun. I also wonder whether in 6 weeks’ time I’ll be too hefty to feel up to exercising. I want to carry on til I’m almost in labour. Endorphins are a good thing. We’ll see how that goes.
The weekly prenatal class has gotten me thinking about Kolya’s birth: the wonder of the whole experience; the strange, primal process of labour; the loveliness of having birthed him at home, the pleasure of curling up with a newborn child. I am both hopeful that this child will have a similarly lovely arrival, and a little disquieted by our experiences of doctors, and the knowledge of the very medically biased birth industry in this country.
May. 24 weeks. I eventually force myself to start paying attention to drinking enough water and eating more fresh fruit and vegetables and fibre. I do this out of concern for my physical health, but an unexpected side effect pops up: my near-constant irritability and tension dissolves and I suddenly feel a sense of pleasantness and ease return. I hadn’t even realised how absent it was til it came back.
Dave comes home from a night out with his friends in Claremont. He leans over my belly and says, “Listen, my girl, you are never leaving the house in what I saw those girls wearing on Claremont Main Road tonight. Not over my dead body.” I guess I’ll have to remind him of this in 15 or 16 years’ time.
Later May. About 25 weeks. Dave finally feels the baby kicking. I’ve been able to feel the kicking for a couple of weeks already, but now it’s getting stronger and more regular. “There’s an alien in there,” he says, looking alarmed. I try get Kolya to put his hand on my belly to feel, but he he doesn’t have the patience to leave it there, and anyway, his hand is too small to extend across more than a few centimetres of tummy at a time, and the kicks keep moving around.
We keep staying up til 1.30 am poring over house plans and discussing details of the driveway, the kitchen, how to resolve the anomalies of making disparate spaces in an old house work when you remodel them. Pinterest is the new porn.
Later May. 26 weeks. My belly suddenly feels like it is blown up like a big balloon. I’ve stopped performing with TheatreSports, and have started moving significantly more slowly. My gym trainer is being super-gentle with me; we start doing one session weekly in the pool, which is utterly wonderful.
I get a hideous bout of heartburn, which I recall from the last pregnancy too – I just didn’t think it would affect me this soon. Dial down meals to brown rice and stirfy, oats and milk.
The house is full of packing boxes. Next week we’ll start moving across to our rental house; in a month’s time, the new owner will take over this place. Entrances and exits all over the place. More to follow.