The Pregnancy Diaries: Picking Up Good Vibrations

Standard

I never got around to actually obtaining a driving license but I remember reaching a point during lessons when frustration at my lack of advancement kicked in and was then exasperated by seemingly every living person in the universe telling me ‘don’t worry at some point, it’ll all just kick in’. As that point never happened before I indefinitely postponed my lessons I’ll never know if they were right or not.

Anyway, the frustration at not getting something other people seemed to have the hang of whilst telling me it’d all become clear eventually was pretty similar to how it felt waiting to feel the potato kicking.

At about 16 weeks our doctor asked if we’d felt any movements yet and then explained that this might feel like little bubbles and did a very endearing impression of a gold fish as he glub, glub, glubbed at us complete with little fin like arm movements (the thought of that is almost enough for me to forgive him for the fat insensitivity at our last appointment). He said that in the next month or so movements should start to be apparent.

In these circumstances the internet was definitely not my friend as I’d visit various forums to find people sharing stories of feeling their baby kick at 10 weeks or some other ridiculously early date, which seemed unbelievable but I couldn’t tell whether I was right to judgmentally assume these people were simply experiencing gas and confusing it with something more magical or if I was just downright jealous.

As I waited for my inner goldfish to start bubbling I found myself paying a lot more attention to the inner working of my belly than previously. Whilst I could feel stomach movements, it was hard to know whether these were genuine potato flutterings or just an overactive intestine.

Waiting for those internal stirrings I started to wonder if it would work both ways; if I would be able to feel the baby moving would the baby also be able to feel movements from outside the womb? If the potato’s hearing was developing to extent it should be able to recognise the voices of me and the bearded man what else could it pick up?

One of my cats, Jasper, has become increasingly more affectionate as he has gotten older and for some time has taken to coming and sitting on my lap of an evening whilst I scratch his head and indulge in whatever the latest Netflix addiction is. My other cat, Buttons, also likes to cuddle against me and the bump as I lounge in bed on lazy weekends or before drifting off to the night-time land of nod.

As my body continues to stretch and adapt, to make itself accommodating for the developing life inside, this hasn’t always been the most comfortable. I have often resorted to a hot water bottle against my stomach to ease cramps and tensions as these changes take place. Having a warm cat vibrating with purrs and gently wriggling about to find the best position for one of their humans to give them attention has been a real treat for me and I wondered whether it has also been noticeable to the one inside?

A few people have asked me if I dream of the baby but, aside from some terrifying late miscarriage dreams, I haven’t really, with one exception: I dreamt the baby was born, and as it was snoozing away it wasn’t gurgling, snuffling or snoring but purring.

Around week 22 I started to think the microscopic movements inside were baby related but I wasn’t wholly confident of this until around week 24, when I became much more conscious of little thuds that were distinct enough from regular organ movements so that these were either the baby or my bowels developing elbows, which I really hope they’d have noticed at the 20 week scan!

Now the kicking is fairly frequent and does wonders for providing daily reassurances that the potato is still, well, live and kicking, and it’s a relief not to have to coast the 3-4 weeks between doctor’s appointments without a sense of what’s going on inside.

I was excited to share with the beard the inner movements but disappointed that the sensations I could feel weren’t apparent to him for quite some time. I guiltily worried that kicks wouldn’t be noticeable outside my belly because of the whole fat and pregnant thing, but here the internet came to my rescue and I found a whole thread of fat mammas sharing their experiences and explaining that although it might take a little longer those kicks would still be strong enough to get through the additional insulation some of us hippos carry around.

As the internal thuds started to get a bit stronger I thought it would be easier for the bearded one to sense these but the baby had an irritating ability of refusing to conform to expectations (can’t think where it might have got that from) by steadfastly refusing to move as soon as I’d feel confident enough of the movements to position the man’s hands in the right place, only to start booting away as soon as he’d move them off. But eventually patience won out and the hairy one could sense something going on even if he did then need me to confirm that these were sproglet rotations and not an overdose of carbohydrates (at least I was certain of the difference at this stage).

Not long ago we had a friend staying with us for a few weeks and in the short time she was with us she managed to learn more about Ferney Voltaire than we had despite our having moved here last August. One of the wonders she revealed to me was that there was a yoga studio a mere two-minute walk from our apartment. I joined the yoga class tailored for pregnant ladies and seniors, which sounds odd but is a combination that works surprisingly well. After my first session I shared my experiences with our temporary flatmate and said I’d enjoyed the class, and even managed to get into the chanting and ohming that I’d never thought people really took seriously until I found myself in a roomful of people doing just that.

My amused friend, evidently more of a yoga-afficionada than me, asked if I believed in chakras. I quickly replied that I didn’t but remembered reading somewhere that the vibrations caused by a cat’s purr aren’t purely there to indicate its smug pleasure at a world that it understands as its own personal kingdom, but also have the purpose of helping to heal the cat through minor ailments. If I could accept that a cat’s unique purring frequency could have a positive physical impact on its wellbeing, then why couldn’t yoga chants serve a similar purpose for humans?

If that is the case then I hope the cats purrs and weekly yoga chants are positively impacting on the potato. Perhaps the dream I had will turn out to be a premonition and the baby’s first word will be more ‘miaow’ than ‘mummy’, but if it grows up to be as self-contented as the kitties that wouldn’t be so terrible. Although if it picks up on other cat habits such a penchant for murdering birds and burying poos in the garden that might be a little more alarming.

The Pregnancy Diaries: Part 4 – Pregnant in Venice

Standard

I must have been about 6 weeks into my pregnancy when the first symptoms of morning sickness kicked in and I met these with a mixture of welcome relief and regret. I’d read online that the symptoms were a good indicator that the pregnancy was progressing well (although morning sickness doesn’t affect everyone). The downside is having to deal with an unprecedented fatigue and constant nausea (although fortunately not actual sickness), the combination of which I can only equate to constantly feeling hungover and sensing that everything would be okay if you could just be left alone to lie very still in a cool dark room.

Dealing with these unpleasant early symptoms of pregnancy when you can’t tell anyone definitely makes for a challenge in the work environment. I know a lot of women have it a lot worse than me, but I cannot emphasise enough the hell that is trying to pretend everything is business as usual when all you want to do is curl up in a ball and wish everyone and everything would just go away.

I was fortunate at least that I could somewhat disguise my symptoms as being generally run down at a time of year when the combination of bad weather and end of year exhaustion makes lingering colds commonplace. But I felt this way for the entirety of December. Every time my officemate would leave the room I would allow myself a visible grimace as I let fall the mask of pretending I’m just mildly under the weather.

I have spent many years vocally berating the lack of acceptability of afternoon naps, so colleagues in my immediate vicinity were already aware that I tend to flag a bit mid-afternoons but the exhaustion of growing a life-force sucking potato inside me was a whole new level of fatigue.

From 3pm onwards, with nowhere to nap, I could barely keep my eyes open and by 5pm I was resembling a zombie whose shambling stumbly purpose was a quest for energy rather than brains. Except sources of energy were pretty limited. I’ve never been a massive coffee drinker and I know from personal experience that energy drinks are the devil incarbonated.

Normally I’d revert to tea but I had discovered an inexplicable absence of desire for tea, which might not seem entirely odd if you didn’t know that even by British people standards I’m a tea addict and would routinely drink anywhere between 6-10 cups a day. I recall opening the cupboard at work where the tea supplies are stored and staring at them for a good five minutes, thinking I desperately want something but also I can’t drink any of these. I’d occasionally settle for just getting a cup of hot water with a slice of lemon and surreptitious trying to rest it on my aching belly without anyone noticing.

Just to keep me going until I could get home and have a nap before dinner, I’d resort to one of two options: either gulping down a strong black coffee with too much sugar or sneaking off to the office of an absence colleague and settling in for a 20 minute power nap, hoping a) no-one would notice I wasn’t at my desk and b) no-one would find me drooling on the floor of someone else’s office.

Another challenge was trying to hide my less than impeccable diet of salted tortilla chips, dried fruit and nuts and occasional yoghurt from co-workers. And yes, I know this isn’t the most wholesome combination, but diet options when you feel completely hungover all the time are somewhat limited. I would try to eat something more nutritious in the evenings but this was a challenge I just couldn’t face during the working day.

I am lucky in that I can occasionally work from home and during that time, as my boss was working from abroad, I could take a day or two a week to work in the comfort of my PJs, with a hot water bottle clutched to my stomach and no need to hide my misery face except for the odd Skype call.

About seven weeks into the pregnancy we took a trip to Venice. We had planned the trip long before the pregnancy drama, in an exuberant splurge on easyjet sale flights a few months previously. The sale coincided with the happy realisation that since crossing the border to live in France as Frontaliers our finances had improved to the extent we could finally benefit from one of the main selling points of Geneva: the ease of which you could leave it to go to other places for a weekend away!

We had been to Venice before as part of a day trip from a Lake Garda holiday many moons ago (our first actual holiday away together). We had been looking forward to the opportunity for a more leisurely sampling of Venetian delights, but as the trip approached, in my new condition, the enthusiasm we’d initially had was definitely waning. Had we not already paid for everything we wouldn’t have gone. Even having paid for everything I was in two minds about going.

In hindsight I wouldn’t have booked the trip knowing I’d be pregnant but actually Venice was a good destination to not feel great in. Our hotel was fairly centrally located which meant we could foray out in one direction for an hour or so, scope out the sights of that little neighbourhood and then be back in time for me to enjoy waves of nausea or just a nap that the small amount of exertion would in no way warrant if it weren’t for the tiny energy vampire dwelling within. Having seen the main tourist sites on our previous visit we also didn’t feel pressured to do anything in particular so the exploratory forays suited us quite well.

We were definitely glad we’d gone though when the realisation dawned on us that such random adventuring would no longer be an easy option when the potato finally makes its appearance. That in fact all life’s previously easy options would become a memory as hazy as the fog that engulfed Venice that December weekend.