My first trimester blues (and headaches, and tummy aches, and indigestion) began to fade once I’d got the first three and a half months behind me. Now, just clear of the halfway mark, I’m starting to feel much more energetic and an awful lot happier, something for which I suspect The Boy is just as grateful as I am.
The fun part of pregnancy – feeling baby’s movements – began much earlier this time around. With Tadpole, I remember feeling the first flutters while wallowing in the full-length bath (oh the luxury! If only Parisian apartments had proper baths!) at my parents’ place on New Year’s Eve 2002, helpful timing which conveniently allows me to date the event with some accuracy. But I’d barely passed the three month mark with #2 when I detected the first twists, kicks and flutters. I think there are several reasons for this. First of all, I knew what to look for (and, above all, knew better than to confuse these faint manifestations of life within with more prosaic complaints, such as the aforementioned indigestion). Secondly, my tummy ‘popped’ much earlier this time around, letting it all hang out, as it were, so that, to my mind, I already look more like a woman nearing the end of her sixth month. And, last of all, the first scan showed that, this time, the placenta is placed towards my back, effectively removing a potential frontal shock absorber from the equation.
But at first, whenever I sought Tadpole or The Boy’s hand and plonked it across my bare belly so that they could share the spooky internal thudding sensations with me, baby invariably stopped moving, prompting sceptical looks from The Boy and impatient scowls from Tadpole. Her attempts to spur baby into action – mostly by shouting things into my tummy button as though it were a megaphone – were futile and, for a while afterwards, she couldn’t be prevailed upon come and touch my belly at all. ‘No thank you, mummy,’ she would reply firmly. ‘It never works.’ Or ‘it’s too boring.’
But a couple of weeks ago the baby got a whole lot more active, enjoying long bouts of hiccups and putting a lot more oomph into those kicks and punches, causing visible tremors. So now my belly is providing free, wholesome entertainment for the entire family. Who needs a TV?
I still have some unspeakably annoying little pregnancy-related complaints – nothing, I realise, compared to the real medical complications some unfortunate folks suffer from – most of which come into full force shortly before bedtime. Late in the evening, my skin often begins to itch ferociously, causing me to scratch up a storm, remove my bra (the main culprit, often not helped by the fact that stray food particles seem to find their way into the cleft between my newly ample bosoms at dinnertime) and wriggle about on the sofa like a woman possessed. From what I’ve been able to glean online, it’s a hormonal thing, and no amount of soaking in emollient baths seems to make a blind bit of difference. There’s no alternative, I fear, but to scratch and bear it.
Another complaint I often suffer from at bedtime is what I call ‘fidgety leg syndrome’. Suddenly there is no comfortable position and I have to keep moving my legs in order to avoid a kind of dull, heavy aching. Perhaps I have finally succumbed to the famous French malady known as ‘heavy legs’ or jambes lourdes which I hitherto assumed to be a fictitious complaint. Whatever it is, it’s unbelievably annoying and calls to mind those episodes of Grey’s Anatomy or Dr House where a healthy patient tries to convince the doctors that he wants to have his legs removed because of a phantom pain.
Last but not least, there are the increased levels of clumsiness to contend with, which have seen me head-butting open kitchen cupboards, stubbing my toes and causing myself all manner of minor injuries. In today’s example of cack-handedness, I managed to gash my forearm open while attempting to open a parcel from DHL with a pair of not particularly sharp scissors, narrowly missing a major artery. This resulted in a rather surreal scene in which I found myself holding the offending arm above my head, blood slowly trickling down my arm, while I one-handedly googled “how do I know if I need stitches?”