petite anglaise

August 19, 2009

impatience

Filed under: knocked up — petiteanglaise @ 1:52 pm

I’m fed up of being pregnant.

‘I honestly feel like time has slowed to a crawl,’ I moan to The Boy as I toss and turn, trying to find a comfortable position in bed. ‘I swear, this has been the longest seven months of my entire life…’

‘Not long to wait now,’ he replies, doing his utmost to sound both positive and comforting.

Officially, though, D-day is still another nine, maybe ten weeks away. And that doesn’t feel like ‘not long’ at all.

I know I should count my blessings. I’m not on enforced bed rest, or suffering from gestational diabetes or high blood pressure. I’m simply twelve kilos heavier, with occasional shooting pains in my left buttock (sciatica) and an odd tingly burning sensation in my left knee when I walk (also sciatica). Getting to sleep at night is a challenge (not least because if I don’t manage to fall asleep before The Boy, I have to work on tuning out his snoring) and I often end up surfing the internet at silly o’clock, marvelling at the veins in Madonna’s arms or chuckling (quietly) at photos of Lolcats to pass the time until I’m finally too exhausted to fidget and deem it time to return to bed.

By day, aside from making inroads into the towering pile of books on my bedside table, developing new television addictions and doing the odd bit of book release related stuff, I’m not really gainfully employed just now. With maternity leave looming, I decided I’d rather not rush into working on a new project straight away. There couldn’t be a better time, I figured, to take step back from the whirlwind of the past three years and give myself the space to work out just where I want to go from here.

But the inactivity is beginning to weigh on me, and Tadpole’s prolonged absences this summer certainly haven’t helped. Since we returned from our family holiday in Turkey, in mid-July, she’s been away more often than not, and is currently with her French grandparents, returning to Paris only a couple of days before she’s due to start ‘big school’.

Without a doubt she’s much better off elsewhere, doing lots of fun activities with people who can waddle more than a few metres without running short of breath. But I miss her. I miss our cuddles in the morning, her touching solicitude (‘mummy, will you be alright on the stairs?’) and the kisses she has taken to planting on my protruding bellybutton.

Mindful of her sometime reluctance to speak on the phone, I decided to set up a Tadpolemail™ account in an attempt to spur her into keeping in touch while she’s away. Typically my daughter’s messages are short, sweet, peppered with the sorts of mistakes French people usually make when speaking English and, last but not least, guaranteed to bring a tear to my eye.

hello mummy

I want to have my bath in a minute and I love to talk to you at the telephone

lots of kisses from

tadpole xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

June 26, 2009

sex

Filed under: knocked up — petiteanglaise @ 3:44 pm

In the weeks leading up to our second ultrasound scan, lots of people began asking me whether we’d be in favour of taking a closer look at baby’s undercarriage to determine its sex.

This is something I’d studiously avoided the first time around, allowing Tadpole to creep up on me by stealth. I was hankering after a little girl, but knew that whoever popped out (oh, if only that were an accurate verb, it makes it sound so much easier than the fourteen hour marathon her birth really was) would instantly steal my heart.

Despite an overwhelming intuitive feeling that the inhabitant of my womb was a boy this time around, I found myself, once again, hoping for a girl. The official reason I gave, when pressed for justification, was that I’m not a big fan of golden showers. I’ve heard several horror stories – from reliable sources – about boy infants and their fountain-like abilities during nappy change time and decided this was not something I felt the need to experience.

But – joking aside – the real reason was that I have little firsthand knowledge of what makes small boys tick.

I grew up with two younger sisters, you see, and although I actually have twin brothers as well, we didn’t meet until I was almost thirty and they were in their late teens. Small boys are therefore something of an unknown quantity to me and preferring the idea of a daughter over a son was probably a case of ‘better the devil you know’.

Observing friends of mine with their sons from a safe distance, I’ve often found their levels of boisterousness overwhelming. And I’ve noticed other differences too. The way infant males tend to cling to their mothers, for example, often quite literally, wrapping themselves around their mummy’s legs like bindweed when they are going through the separation anxiety stage.

The Boy was adamant that he wanted to find out the sex of our baby at the second ultrasound scan, and I decided doing things differently this time was a good way to ring the changes, so we informed the doctor of this just as she was noisily squirting a huge quantity of lube onto my belly. She nodded, but explained that she’d be taking all the usual second scan measurements first, and would look at the genitalia afterwards.

And by the time she got to the money shot, I have to admit that I was so preoccupied with the baby’s SIZE that all gender-related considerations had taken a back seat.

Baby’s estimated weight – at 22 weeks – was 570g. I happened to know for a fact that the average weight at this stage tends to be more like 430g, meaning that baby was about two weeks ahead of him/herself. The head, femur and foot measurements were all equally supersized, placing baby in the 90th percentile. How on earth, I began to wonder, eyes watering in premature anticipation, was I ever going to get this baby out of my womb without breaking my pelvis in two?

And then there it was, the turtle-like outline on the ultrasound screen that clearly indicated that my (and the Boy’s) intuition had been correct. Le bébé is indeed a he, just as we’d both suspected.

A few days later, I find I’m getting used to the idea of male offspring and I even bought a delightful blue robot-print babygro in the sales, by way of celebration.

But as for the size issue, my eyes still water every time I allow myself to think about that.

Oh, boy.

June 15, 2009

knocked update

Filed under: knocked up — petiteanglaise @ 5:52 pm

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?”

May 12, 2009

development

Filed under: knocked up — petiteanglaise @ 5:44 pm
week16

Meet the foetus.

A little weekly ritual of mine and Tadpole’s consists of looking up on various websites the info for whatever week of pregnancy I happen to be in (the tail end of week 16 at the time of writing) and reading out the recap of baby’s development. ‘Ooh, it’s got fingernails!’ I shriek. Or ‘Ew, it can wee in the water in my tummy!’ (Which is the technical term for amniotic fluid, in case you were wondering.)

The one thing I dislike about these week-by-week foetal development diaries is that the writers, pursuing the laudable aim of making things as concrete and real as possible, tend to compare the size of the beast to that of a piece of fruit, say. In week 16-17, for example, baby is officially the size (but not yet the weight) of an avocado.

The problem with this, I find, is that when, after a week of eyeing up said avocado (and wondering why, if it’s that small, my belly is already the size of a large melon), I finally give in to the urge to EAT IT, French style, by cutting it in half, smothering it in French dressing and scooping out the flesh with a teaspoon, I feel somewhat uneasy. Not guilty, exactly, but let’s just say I don’t enjoy my feast quite as much as I should.

So, in order to remove ersatz-foetus from my diet altogether, Tadpole and I have devised the revolutionary Soft Toy Sizing SystemTM instead. (So, um, yes, the baby is the tiger, not the passport. The passport is provided for the purposes of scale.)

Tadpole’s soft toy collection is (dusty and) varied, and I look forward to the coming weeks, when tiger will be replaced by Wibbly Pig, for example, or Peter Rabbit. I must admit that I’m slightly less thrilled at the prospect of week 20, where my only correctly-sized option will be a big-nosed replica of Postman Pat, complete with spectacles and satchel.

But the real problem, of course, will come when we get beyond the week 30 watershed, which represents the largest teddy in Tadpole’s collection – a wopping 30 cm long. How, I wonder to myself, shooting teddy an anxious sidelong glance and ‘kegeling’ furiously on the inside, can I possibly play host to something that will actually end up being more like 50 cm long at full term? Something which, in food terms, is described by babycentre’s helpful website as ‘a small pumpkin’?

I feel there is an argument, from that point onwards, for abandoning the ‘concrete and real’ approach and adopting a policy of deliberate vagueness instead, while simultaneously outlawing every ruler and tape measure in the house.

And needless to say, pumpkin will be off the menu chez petite come October. As will Halloween.

April 23, 2009

twins

Filed under: knocked up — petiteanglaise @ 2:09 pm

The first trimester of this pregnancy has been unexpectedly rough.

There was the all day nausea, which seemed to peak in the evenings, making a nonsense of the phrase ‘morning sickness’. Then there were the migraine-lite headaches that shadowed me from morning until night and the extreme fatigue, which meant that in the weeks immediately following our honeymoon I could barely manage to stay awake for five hours in a row. And then, last but not least, there was the big bleak cloud of despondency which settled above my head and refused to budge.

It was difficult, under the circumstances, to feel thrilled about being pregnant, however much I’d looked forward to it, in theory. Cue the guilt about not feeling more pleased. After all, The Boy is a first time future dad, and I was anxious not to sully what should be a magical time.

When I remarked to friends upon how much more difficult this pregnancy seemed compared to my last, six and a half years ago, their response was often framed as a question. ‘Cath, are you sure you aren’t having twins?’

The thought had crossed my mind. Indeed, my gmail status, at one point, read: ‘starting to worry I might be expecting a whole litter…’

Twins run in my biological family, you see. Non identical twins. The sort that can be hereditary because the females of the family are genetically predisposed to ‘over-egg the omelette’ every month. This is probably why it took me only a couple of weeks to get pregnant, both with Tadpole and with baby n° 2, which is obviously a blessing. But after spending a few hours reading up on the subject on the internet, I was bemused to see that one source gave the odds on me having a multiple birth as 1 in 16. My mother, after having me, went on to have non identical twin boys.

Now, of course I’m well aware that there are many couples out there that would love to have twins, or who already have twins, and who think that I’m a selfish human being for preferring my babies to come one at a time, in an orderly, spaced-out fashion. I also know that we could, if necessary, find space in Tadpole’s bedroom for two extra cots, and on the day of the birth I’d no doubt be thrilled to have two bundles of joy for the price of one. And why even have two breasts – sexual fantasies about multiple partners aside – if they can’t be suckled by two babies simultaneously?

But when I found myself in the darkened room, stripped naked from the waist down, my stomach covered in a thick layer of lube, the first words I uttered to the nice lady doctor operating the ultrasound when the picture of the contents of my womb came into focus were:

‘Phew! So there’s only the one in there, then?’

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