31 weeks pregnant

Baby size: Striped skunk

Happy full term day to me!!!

Baby is now officially baked! All that’s left to do is brown them a bit – which is exactly what is happening, as the fat that babies lay down in the last few weeks of pregnancy is called ‘brown fat’. And even though Squids isn’t quite done browning, if they were born today they wouldn’t be classed as pre-term. We are officially good to go, which feels quite incredible when I look back to when we first found out I was pregnant, and everything that’s happened since then.

The first trimester

Finding out I was pregnant – after more than a year of trying – was incredible.

Our 7 week scan

However, the first trimester quickly turned from elation to devastation. Hyperemesis gravidarum meant that from about week 5 I was pretty much confined to bed. I couldn’t eat anything without throwing up. I lost a stone in less than a month and was almost hospitalised. I spent literally 23 hours a day in bed, either crying, sleeping or puking, which also resulted in bed sores and lost muscle mass, particularly in my legs (after I felt better, I couldn’t even stand out of a crouch without assistance). And the smells – oh the smells! I would say to R that I could smell through walls – if he opened a carton of something I didn’t like, one floor down and 2 rooms over, I would smell it and immediately throw up. I had to ban him from using the oven, frying food, using his regular shower gel … the list went on and on. And yet even with so many things off limits, I still couldn’t stand to be anywhere in the house except for our bedroom, alone, because the whole house and R himself smelled so bad to me that it would make me sick to expose myself to them. The psychological damage caused by isolation was profound, and I was finding life so unbearable that at one point I was seriously thinking about termination. Finally getting onto the right medication was a game changer as it meant that I was able to pull myself together enough to live a mostly normal life, which included re-connecting with R, connecting for the first time with the baby, and getting back to work. I honestly don’t think I could have coped otherwise, especially as the hyperemesis has persisted throughout the entire pregnancy and I’m still taking medication for it.

The second trimester

The second trimester was actually rather magical. I was still experiencing some bad pregnancy symptoms, but overall my health improved so much I felt at times rather like I was flying! I even looked better too – better than I’d ever done before, with lovely hair and skin, and that oh-so-magical pregnancy glow – and I had so much energy I was able to get loads done. R and I got most of the nursery work done during this time, and we started shopping – smaller stuff at first, but then larger stuff after about week 23, such as the cot bed and co-sleeper, and my nursing chair. I started re-expanding my diet too; there were still loads of things I couldn’t eat, such as bread crusts, granola, and chips (bland things I’d tried to subside on during the first trimester but which I’d thrown up too many times, leading to revulsion), but slowly I began to regain the wide palate I’d enjoyed pre-pregnancy. And, most importantly, I started getting to know our baby. I still remember the first time I felt a little flutter one evening, when I was lying in bed just watching something on Netflix, and even though it was the smallest sensation I knew then that that was our kid, declaring themselves to the world for the first time.

We also got to do most of the fun stuff during the second trimester – the 20 week scan, finding out the sex, deciding on a name! All of these things helped to connect us even more to the life growing inside me. And I was able to do some proper planning for when I would be able to take maternity leave, how long I could give myself, and what I wanted to do while I was off with the baby. I started researching baby classes we could take from September onwards, and was even able to book and pay for one of them so our place was secure. All of this was amazingly fun and really helped me start to forget how traumatic the first few weeks had been.

The third trimester

The third trimester – my goodness, what to say!? It’s certainly been better than the first trimester, but oh boy do I miss the second trimester! Everything hurts. I’m in so much pain sometimes that I can’t breathe. My muscles are torn, my skin is stretched, and I just can’t wait to be able to have a proper rest now. I do feel sad, because as soon as I learned to love being pregnant I ran up against yet another obstacle. However, having an active baby has certainly mitigated some of the stress of it all. When I’m at my most uncomfortable, it is comforting to be able to lie back and feel Squids thrashing about in there, full of life and beans and undiluted madness. I’ve been trying to do what little bits I can around the house, but it has been getting more and more difficult. I recently washed all of Squids’ clothes and blankies, but when it came to ironing everything, the pain in my back and ribs meant I could only stand or sit upright for 10 minutes at a time. Most of the time I’ve been just lying down, to be honest, although R and I have had some short trips away to catch up with friends and family before the baby arrives and captures all of our attention.

I’ve also been trying to do some work to look after myself in other ways, as my emotional and mental health has taken a bit of a battering over the past few weeks. The third trimester hormone storm hit me pretty hard and we’ve also had some sad family news that has been difficult to process. So, between all of that and the constant pain, I’ve ended up having a few emotionally difficult days that in the past might have led to me making some short-sighted and self-destructive decisions. However, hindsight and the wisdom of years are beautiful things, so in the spirit of good health I have self-referred to IAPT and am having my first counselling session this week. I don’t want to do it, I am not looking forward to it, and 90% of me wants to cancel due to previous experiences with unprofessional counsellors that have put me off this type of process. However, it’s not just me now, so I am willing to at least give it a go. Hopefully my mood will improve on its own once I’m not in constant pain anymore, and to supplement the official support I’ve been indulging in regular self care, including hair appointments, massages and facials, as well as a trip to a local spa (Rudding Park) with my mum, aunt and (also pregnant) sister. These little indulgences are seeing me through, so I think I’m going to try to carry them on after the baby comes.

The next 2 to 3 weeks

The next fortnight or so should be fairly interesting. My consultant has agreed to induce me, because of how much pain I’m in. But Squids could come before then, so we’re basically on standby from now until I pop. And I’m not even entirely sure I want to be induced. Yes, I’m in horrendous pain, and yes, I’m pretty much ready to be done with this pregnancy now (although I will miss it!), but at the same time I don’t want to do anything to jeopardise my chances of having a water birth. I’ve already had to accept the fact of going into hospital, but if I can’t have a water birth I will be so upset. It’s the one thing I’ve always been sure about. So I am going to have to have a proper think over the next few days. We have been offered another scan though, due to having experienced another little episode of reduced movement (it’s ok, Squids was just faking), so maybe that will help me decide. But whatever happens, one thing is sure – in the next 2 to 3 weeks, we are going to be parents. And I’ve never felt so ready.