Following my decision to do a little bit of parent-blogging, I had a look at some scribbles I made back in mid-February about finding out I was pregnant. There will now follow some edited highlights from the 9 pages of stream-of-consciousness free writing on this matter, before we told anyone.
Doodle can’t be un-did
A few weeks ago I found out I am pregnant. Actually, I should record the specific date for posterity, shouldn’t I? On 31 January I took a Clear Blue test (other brands are available) and the result was positive.
According to the NHS website, a positive test is almost never wrong, and I was fairly sure before that anyway. We were actively trying, and my [insert your own ridiculous code, e.g. Shark Weeks, here] are very regular. I didn’t want to assume though, or get too excited too soon. I’ve heard too many sad stories. It’s early days, something bad could happen. I am, after all, pretty elderly to have a first kid at 33 (35 and I’d genuinely count as geriatric). Plus I’ve just read Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo. That’s why you’re meant to keep schtum for the first 12 weeks, just in case it all goes horribly wrong. But that silence is what makes it feel not-quite-real.
Still, once you take a positive test there’s a timeline to follow. The post stick-pee step (again according to the NHS website, now my bible) was to make an appointment with a GP or midwife. I phoned and spoke to a nice lady who told me my estimated due date (September 28, later updated to September 24) and booked me in to see the midwife (on 21 February) and for a growth scan (19 March).
I’ve also started trying to follow all the many rules about what you can and can’t do whilst pregnant. Obviously I’ve not had any booze since finding out, since the line between ‘it’s OK’ and ‘YOU WILL HAVE FOETAL ALCOHOL SYNDROME IF YOU TOUCH A WINE’ is pretty blurry. Really having to restrict that swordfish intake, of course.* And I’ve pretty much stopped drinking coffee, as too much caffeine is linked to low birth weight. This translates as you can have 200mg a day, and a filter coffee takes up most of that allowance. I’ve downgraded to 2 cups of proper tea and I’ve got a box of decaf tea in my drawer at work – yes I know, I disgust myself.
In spite of all this, it still doesn’t feel like A Thing yet. We’re planning to tell the immediate family (mums, dads and siblings) this weekend – maybe that will make it feel real? At the moment though, every time I go to the loo I half expect to get my Lady Biz/Visit From Aunt Flo/Invitation to the Red Wedding. I cramp from time to time which feels pretty much like period pain, but Dr Google says it’s my uterus starting to stretch. I’ve not had any morning sickness, either – one of the the first things I’ll do when I’ve told her is probably ask mum if she had it. 80% of women do, but maybe I’ll be one of the lucky ones?** The only symptom really is my sense of smell is more sensitive.
Read All About It
Obviously my go-to in all this is to read about it. My husband has bought me a copy of Nobody Told Me by Hollie McNish which is a poetry book about the experience of being preggo. And I’ve been listening to Inferior! How Science Got Women Wrong and the New Research That’s Rewriting the Story by Angela Saini which has some interesting stuff about how there’s historically been a medical assumption that male and female biology is the same, but that’s not right because pregnancy is rarely taken into account. They don’t run medical trials on pregnant folk, for obvious reasons. But that’s how we ended up with thalidomide children in the 1950s and 60s – the drugs were tested on men, deemed safe, then given to pregnant people to help with morning sickness and led to birth defects. There’s also a theory that women probably have stronger immune systems and live longer because of going through the trauma of having alien tissue living inside them – but they get sicker than men because science has refused to look at female-only subjects. It’s a really interesting book, would recommend.
To me, one of the scariest things about being a parent is trying to bring up a kid in a world where gender constructs are infused into everything, even stuff that’s meant to be objective like science. I guess my main aim for the baby will be to help it smash the patriarchy, irrespective of sex/gender identity. This early on it’s important to get that sort of thing figured out…
Really though, even though it’s all a bit abstract right now, I just hope the baby is OK.
*jokes, I’ve never had swordfish in my life.
** Reader, along with my mum I was indeed one of the lucky ones – no morning sickness here.