petite anglaise

May 12, 2009


Filed under: knocked up — petiteanglaiseparis @ 5:44 pm

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.


  1. Just wanted to say that you have inspired me to blog all of my own after reading this (and I now have a craving for avacado…!)

    Comment by angharad — May 12, 2009 @ 6:16 pm

  2. a big-nosed replica of Postman Pat, complete with spectacles and satchel.

    And, of course, a black and white cat!

    Comment by Iain — May 12, 2009 @ 6:28 pm

  3. :) Hope the avocado cravings mean you’re over the morning-afternoon-evening-night sickness!
    I hope Kipper the Dog will be included in the measurement game, the theme music for the Kipper cartoons is the best cartoon music ever, after Die Biene Maja, of course…

    Comment by happyforyou — May 12, 2009 @ 6:33 pm

  4. Sounds quite amusing. Although I think I would just be slightly concerned if I had something to compare to directly. Still, so exciting. Hope your little one enjoys the cuddly toys when it’s born. Will tadpole share I wonder…?

    Comment by L.C.T. — May 12, 2009 @ 6:46 pm

  5. Aww, that’s so adorable, such a cute idea. I love hearing your updates on the pregnancy, I hope everything remains happy and healthy for you!

    Comment by Margarita — May 12, 2009 @ 7:13 pm

  6. Oh! I’m 4 and a half weeks behind you. This is my first, so I look forward to your posts about pregnancy. I might have to start buying some stuffed animals, I much prefer that comparison to the fruit – although it sounds like the site you’re looking it is a little more creative. (I’ve only gotten plum, rasperry, grape, kidney bean…)

    I was wondering about when I was going to show, also – or rather, some days I think I am, but others I think I’m just bloated! I can’t tell!

    And I, too, am now craving an avocado…!

    Comment by Nikki — May 12, 2009 @ 7:15 pm

  7. This is but a glimpse of what would be a pregnancy blog if you were in the mood to write one… we are missing something really. Oh well. The important thing is, you are enjoying it ! The Soft Toy Sizing SystemTM is pretty cool. I’m not sure Tadpole will let you switch to deliberate vagueness though. After all, this gives her a golden opportunity to add really large fluffy toys to her collection…

    Oh, and is the passport yours ? I seem to remember you weren’t particularly interested in acquiring French citizenship.

    Comment by ontario frog — May 12, 2009 @ 7:48 pm

  8. Your Soft Toy Sizing system is cute :)

    It reminds me of a series of photos that I’ve seen somewhere of a stuffed toy beside a baby. The only difference is that the stuffed toy never changed but as the baby got bigger every month, the size difference becomes more apparent. Makes me wish I’ve done it for my children!

    Comment by Sleepless In KL — May 12, 2009 @ 8:25 pm

  9. now i feel hungry – avocado sounds nice. hope all is going well with the pregnancy :)

    Comment by Devinder — May 12, 2009 @ 8:40 pm

  10. @7 – no, I haven’t got around to it yet, although I do plan to… It’s the Boy’s.

    @6 – I showed from very early on, but I think that with your second child, your stomach is – to put it kindly – a little more elastic…

    Comment by petite — May 12, 2009 @ 9:00 pm

  11. Hi, I think we are about the same amount pregnant – are you due around the 17th October? I too think the fruit thing is a bit weird. I only have one soft toy (being an adult!). I am going to measure him and see what week he represents. On the other hand this may really scare me! If only what we are going to give birth to was as squishy as a soft toy!

    Good luck! I have been following your blog for years. x

    Comment by Melanie — May 12, 2009 @ 9:15 pm

  12. I, too, have lost all appetite for thing that I normally love. I eat something that I know I like (liked at least because pregnancy) and then feel completely unsatisfied afterwards. No fun in that. Are you feel better from all the nausea? I am counting the weeks until it’s gone.

    Your idea for the stuffed animals for size is brillant. I may have to borrow this idea too.

    Comment by PutYourFlareOn — May 12, 2009 @ 9:16 pm

  13. you’ve put me off pregnancy for life!

    love your blog but never allowed to leave a comment as it’s always too late when i get to read your posts except for today. i, too, am francophile, though only enjoying it byproxy in the form of French novels and articles and my university department. Final year student about to embark on lovely essay of 2500 words in French, haven’t written one for so long. Am i bringing back bad memories? Oh take me back to France…so much more fun being there than studying.

    Good luck with the baby and the cuddly toys.

    Comment by crazykites — May 12, 2009 @ 9:22 pm

  14. Fun post, Petite:)

    It’s so nice that you make time to involve Tadpole in the whole pregnancy experience:)

    And I’m really glad you seem to be doing better:) Hope we’ll be hearing more of your experience:)

    Take care!:)

    Comment by Duchesse — May 12, 2009 @ 10:32 pm

  15. Was lovely to read this. I still have a small dog with floppy ears, Benjy, I bought when my first child would have been about the same size. She’s now nearing her first quarter century! And I’ve just eaten an avocado as it happens. Whilst the fruit/veg are not as cute as soft toys, they may in some cases represent the true weight better? Maybe not the pumpkin though!You can always tell when actors on tv are using dolls not real babies as they are so obviously so much lighter. Take care!

    Comment by Tiffany — May 12, 2009 @ 11:48 pm




    (your choice or Icecream and peanutbutter ….


    Comment by ==Alaska — May 13, 2009 @ 12:27 am

  17. I very much prefer your stuffed toy measurement system! My friends (all of them are pregnant, it seems) are constantly posting “what fruit is in my womb” pictures as their facebook profiles. I’ll never look at a mango the same way again.

    Comment by unbalanced reaction — May 13, 2009 @ 1:49 am

  18. My oldest, now 25, had a small kuala bear doll that she dragged everywhere for a few years (including, once, Bourbon Street in New Orleans!)

    What stage would that be?

    Question regarding the Tadpole. Is she quite bi-lingual? Plus anglais chez nous? Mix them all up?

    A great time. Despite the morning sickness, enjoy. Our youngest just graduated from university here, it truly goes by tres vite.

    Comment by John in Florida — May 13, 2009 @ 3:06 am

  19. My pregnancy this week (week 26) means the baby is the size of an “English hothouse cucumber.” I live in the States. Is there something more mundane that’s comparable? I mean… who writes these things?

    Comment by BeanMa — May 13, 2009 @ 5:38 am

  20. Oh no-ignorance is underated! Be it Postman Pat or a pumpkin (both of which I now can’t lose the image of giving birth to), I think I’d rather not know!
    Hope you’re feeling better

    Comment by Tess — May 13, 2009 @ 8:49 am

  21. Apparently mine is the size and shape of a peapod at the moment (9 weeks). It’s extraordinary. So far I’ve been put off grapes, poppy seeds, brazil nuts and now peas.

    Also, the size of my uterus seems to be compared frequently to citrus fruit. This week it’s an orange. Nice.

    Comment by rachie — May 13, 2009 @ 11:57 am

  22. I just wanted to post that I love your blog! I adore your new sizing system, it always amazes me seeing these ‘measurement’ things that do some very odd comparisons!

    I found your blog through your book, actually, and really enjoyed reading it. I grew up bilingual, in French and American English, and have to say that it is a fabulous thing to have. If I ever have kids, I want them to be at least bilingual.

    Blessings and prayers to you and yours, in case I don’t manage to be able to post a comment again!

    Comment by Catherine N. — May 13, 2009 @ 1:27 pm

  23. The problem I found with the Fruits of the Womb scale is that a fig, plum, peach, or indeed avocado, is prone to diverse size (and seasonal) discrepancies – hence the price difference between a large hass avocado versus its smaller sibling in the Waitrose fresh fruit aisle this morning. My preferred line of thinking was to envisage GM versions of the myriad of fruits presented as visual cues – surely the only explanation for my unnaturally large burgeoning belly.

    Regardless, your trademarked STSS makes for much more comforting birthing thoughts – furry friends after all being so infinitely more accommodating and flexible than a thick skinned rigid pumpkin.

    Comment by Mrs A — May 13, 2009 @ 3:05 pm

  24. This post just made me snort with laughter (attractive non) and yes step away from the scary book of food scale. Tis most disconcerting!

    Comment by La Chat Noir — May 13, 2009 @ 4:28 pm

  25. I think you’re right about adopting a less concrete sizing method. After all, it’s all relative.

    Regardless of actual size, at the time of its birth it will feel like a Toyota Prius!

    PS: That’s the way I eat avocado too – although I can’t be bothered making the dressing so I just drizzle a little balsamic vinegar into the cup left by the seed, and set to with my teaspoon.

    Comment by Damian Clarke — May 13, 2009 @ 4:28 pm

  26. @ 23 hilarious, “thick skinned rigid pumpkin”!!

    I have in my fridge what I thought at the time was a beautiful pumpkin when I spied it at the local market the other day. It may just have to sit on the shelf for quite some time, instead of getting stuffed with prawns and cheese sauce and baked in the oven…and I’m not even pregnant…

    Comment by happyforyou — May 13, 2009 @ 4:40 pm

  27. Hi,

    You won’t be able to post this comment but I have to say this…. As much as I enjoy reading your blog and have enjoyed discovering your life in Paris I hate the style of the majority of comments people make. I admit I don’t have to read them so I’ll try not to any more. I realize this is how your pages live and thrive but I hate the way they are all writing as if they are trying to be you or you are their private ‘thing’ and they are in deep communion with you. I guess your best friends and admirers may well have a life too and never comment
    sorry if I’ve bothered you.

    Comment by anne — May 13, 2009 @ 6:25 pm

  28. You are very imaginative and creative with your new STSS TM. I hope that Tadpole will not be disappointed when a baby appears instead of a huge cuddly panda though :) Keep us posted….

    Comment by Ann-Marie — May 13, 2009 @ 8:06 pm

  29. One of my friends is having a baby later this year and your post made me think of him… He’s been told the fruit/veg size comparisons and was rather stumped by the tomato one – does that mean cherry tomato or beef tomato (or any of the sizes in between)? As he said, at least pick something that’s a standard size!

    Comment by little me — May 14, 2009 @ 12:47 am

  30. @11: I now feel a bit stupid: I have lots and lots and lots of soft toys… yes, being an adult!

    Good luck with your pregnancy Petite! :)

    Comment by *Martha* — May 14, 2009 @ 8:59 am

  31. I remember reading somewhere in the early weeks of my pregnancy that the fetus was approximately the size of a snail.

    That same week my family was in town, we went out to dinner to celebrate the happy news, and I found myself staring at a plate of escargots, my appetite utterly gone.

    Now le Petit is a toddler and I can no longer imagine him even as tiny as he was as a newborn, but I still can’t bring myself to order my once-favorite appetizer.

    Comment by parisienne mais presque — May 14, 2009 @ 9:55 am

  32. Ah — and so the truth will out at last…

    … we’ve always thought you had a tiger in your tank, Petite. And now we know it to be true.

    Comment by Roads — May 14, 2009 @ 1:03 pm

  33. Page 142 of the book, enjoying it _a lot_.

    Comment by jermac — May 14, 2009 @ 1:31 pm

  34. it seems I am surrounded by women discussing the size of their foetus, my sister being one of them. She is 16 weeks the same as you. This morning I got a running commentary on her upcoming Amniocentesis (have I spelt that right?). I found that when i was pregnant I used to keep a tape measure in a drawer in the kitchen and weekly checked my pregnancy book then compared the size indicated in the book with my tape measure (weird!, but comparing a foetus to a small pumpkin, well that surely must bring tears to a first timers eyes don’t ya think!!

    Comment by twinklefax — May 14, 2009 @ 3:21 pm

  35. That Tiger is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen, and so well behaved too… ;-)

    It’s (the Tiger’s) sideburns remind me of Amos Brearly.

    Comment by Steve... — May 14, 2009 @ 5:12 pm

  36. awww my friend is currently at 25 weeks and I love reading the book emma’s diary to her informing her of what “treats” she can look forward to. and many of the “symptoms” of pregnancy are much disconcerting.

    i believe these books to be written by evil women who hated pregnancy and love to fill other women with “50cm fears”

    Comment by Little Princess — May 15, 2009 @ 1:45 am

  37. Even thou I can’t discuss about pregnance (I’m at high school) I wanted to comment.

    I read your book about a month ago, and I liked it a lot. So I wanted to read your blog – and it’s wonderful too! English isn’t my mother language, but I understand almost everything you’ve written. :) I think your texts are really good! So thank you.

    Comment by Niini — May 15, 2009 @ 3:47 pm

  38. nice blog, nicely written. I do like the perspective on the baby-to-be, and it beats the heck out of the little shrimpy images from my high-school health class.

    Comment by gwappa — May 16, 2009 @ 5:10 am

  39. Oh Petite… How wonderful to be pregnant and go through all those stages, the anticipation…
    I feel strangely empty here. I’m your age, but my eldest is nearly 18 and my “little one” has just turned 8 and I’d dread to have the job to find matching teddies for those two. I would have loved another one, but life does not seem to go that way. Hope you keep enjoying every moment!

    Comment by Piece of Chocolate — May 16, 2009 @ 2:01 pm

  40. Love the system! If the pumpkin doesn’t appeal, I’m pretty sure my mother kept an old stuffed beagle of mine that should be about the right size!

    Thanks for the email, by the way. I’m still playing around with varying degrees of transparency on my blog, depending on the subject-matter (and my mood), but your experience has provided useful guidance.

    Comment by Res — May 16, 2009 @ 2:12 pm

  41. I bet Tadpole looks forward to your weekly researches. It must be a very exciting time for you all. All the best to you for the rest of your pregnancy.

    It is great to read your musings.

    Comment by Googlebear — May 17, 2009 @ 8:26 am

  42. Good growing to your little tiger.

    Comment by marie-Hélène — May 18, 2009 @ 5:11 pm

  43. Aw, this reminds me of when I was preggers with my second, and my first (then 5) sat with me looking through the Pregnancy Book each week, reading the stuff about fingernails etc.

    And now he alternates between playing with the baby, cuddling the baby, delighting in getting bigger belly-laughs from the baby than anyone else can… and ignoring the baby completely, because the baby is being “annoying” again.

    Comment by Clare — May 18, 2009 @ 10:42 pm

  44. Just to say you really do seem to be hitting the right note with the blog. And the tiger _is_ cute. I don’t see why some people seem to be so reticent about having stuffed animals. I am male, a pensioner, and have a retriever puppy and a polar bear, both ‘rescued’ from the charity shop.

    Comment by John Norris — May 19, 2009 @ 12:45 pm

  45. This is a charming post to your blog, as always.


    Comment by David — May 19, 2009 @ 6:24 pm

  46. While searching for another book today on Amazon UK, your new paperback “French Kissing” came up as a recommendation for a pre-order! The cover is absolutely adorable and it looks like the perfect summer book. Since you haven’t mentioned it I thought you might not be aware it is already on Amazon. Good luck with it and hope it does great.

    Comment by Violet — May 19, 2009 @ 11:15 pm

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