Those aren’t my terms: “Single mother, unplanned but wanted baby”, they are what the doctor wrote in her (my) notes. They are true of course and the curious practice of documenting everything still interests me now four months after that session. One of the most fascinating aspects to being pregnant in Britain is the machinery that rolls up and gets set in motion once you let the NHS know that a baby is on its way.
Initially I wasn’t sure what was happening because the doctor was a locum who didn’t know what procedures were meant to be followed. She confirmed the pregnancy and told me to check with the desk in front. After checking with colleagues, one of whom was a pregnant friend of mine and had a checklist of pregnancy related events, I made another appointment and was introduced to the world of NHS babies.
I found out that the pregnancy is counted from the point of the last period and not conception and that the due date is at 40 weeks and from 37 weeks you are considered full term.
By the eighth week of pregnancy, there was a booking appointment with the midwife where I filled out lots of forms, had blood taken, blood pressure checked and was listed as very healthy once I mentioned my running and the London Marathon just over a month previously. I received my bright yellow Maternity book which contains all the test results and information about the birth. It is the property of the NHS but I hold on to it and take it to every appointment with me.
I was warned by doctors, friends and books that there was a one in four chance of miscarriage by the 12th week when the first scan happens. After that point the risk of miscarriage reduces dramatically and it’s when most people announce that they are expecting. I knew of two other women who lost babies at 10 and 12 weeks respectively so I was preparing myself just in case. Little Baby was there on the monitor though and the little hands moved and the heart beat and it was amazing.
At 18 weeks I had another appointment with the midwife, not the single Australian mum this time but a woman from the United States who was only here for two more weeks. I was given the result of my blood tests and heard the baby’s heartbeat – all seemed fine and I was still pregnant.
The big date in the pregnancy calendar is the 20 week scan, called an anomaly scan (although it is spelled anomoly in my book) where they check the baby’s growth and development and I guess it’s the last chance to make sure everything is healthy before continuing. That was three weeks ago and little baby is apparently just fine so now I can start breathing a little easier and start thinking about the other details.
The ‘single’ part of motherhood is a big concern but I’m definitely not alone in the process. I told the dad as soon as I could but he decided that he couldn’t be a father. Maybe one day but not like this and not with me so there isn’t much more to say. However, I have had support from many people, my parents are ecstatic, my sister loving and enthusiastic, my housemate has been consistent, protective and helpful while the rest of friends and colleagues have been there for me the whole time. My work has also been amazing and I have up to a year off with maternity leave so I feel very privileged with this little miracle.
The pregnancy itself though is a bizarre concept all on its own and I’ll devote more space to writing about that as I go on.