Tag Archives: Pregnancy

Baby B: versus the Midwife

“So you decided not to have the Down Syndrome screening test?” the midwife asked me.
“Um no.. I didn’t decide, I thought I’d already had it”.
“No, it says clearly here that I explained to you about having the test” she pointed down at my notes.

At my 16 week appointment I had a different midwife, one who was only in England for a while and back to the US a couple of weeks later.

“I thought it was one of the blood tests” I said.
“No, I clearly explained to you on our first meeting…” and this is all she said as she pointed out in the notes that the word ‘explained’ was written down.

It was now too late to have the test and she was on the defensive because my lack of knowledge may possibly have put her in an awkward position (legally?). She explained again to me about the screening tests, that they were accurate about 60 to 65% of the time and were likely to present many false positives. This means that the risk may be seen as high when in fact it is not. Serum screening is a blood test that screens for Down’s syndrome, usually at around 16 weeks of pregnancy. It measures three or four pregnancy-associated chemicals to assess the chances of having a baby with Down’s syndrome.

I mentioned that it wasn’t offered to me the last time I saw some one but she went back to pointing at the book so I just agreed with her when she asked if I would have declined it. It was too late now for anything of course and I felt like a horrible ‘almost’ mother. At some point I had given up finding out about the pregnancy and just let things happen. I figured that I would be told about anything I needed to know and was upset to be confronted with such an important thing passing me by.

I also realised yesterday that whilst I received my MATB 1 certificate, the all important bit of paper for my maternity leave, I didn’t get a claim form for the pregnancy grant. My fault again. Things are passing by so quickly.

My next appointment is in three weeks as they now get more frequent. Could be that it’s all starting to feel a little more real.

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Baby B: Carefree and Kicking Around

Ain’t thinking ’bout love today
Lost in the sunlight
Walking down memory lane

I don’t think about running any more. I spend too long trying to waddle to work, find some comfort on the couch, sleep without pain, put socks on with some measure of grace, impossible.

I dream about running instead. I wake from training for marathons, running effortlessly along the Ashton-Pill path, cycling down the Portway, and find myself heavy and unresponsive instead. I wake up knowing that I am pregnant with little surprise. The bump is hard to ignore and the heaviness even more difficult.

Child In Our Time says that some babies can recognise music played to them while in the womb after birth, and may even be able to distinguish between voices and recognise them once born. They recommend playing a melodic song twice a day so I have been playing some in the morning. So far the baby kicks along and wriggles to Pearl Jam’s ‘Just Breathe’ and is mostly chilled to the rest.

Ain’t thinking ’bout you today
People from the past that I knew
Are slowly slipping away
Seems so long ago
Since we were carefree

I played Jamie Cullum’s ‘Pointless Nostalgic’ to the baby but there was little response, unlike to Die Hard 4.0 where there was a constant stream of kicking and wriggling in response to all the gunfire and battles. I was thrilled for a bit but then wondered whether the baby was unhappy at all the noise and protesting. Did it then perhaps not like Pearl Jam? Maybe something smoother was the way to go. Katie Melua, who provoked no response at all may be the better song to choose. I don’t know.

Photographs lost in time are all I see
A pointless nostalgic-
That’s me
That’s me

At 24 weeks the baby is now ‘legally viable’, meaning that if born now it would have a chance of survival with specialist care. Also as the baby gets bigger, I have begun to get more breathless, as hormones relax my lung muscles and the growing uterus pushes up against my diaphragm. I don’t miss going out and I don’t miss wandering around Bristol for hours since the mere thought of it only reminds me of the exhaustion that’s sure to follow.

Thoughts running round my head today
Times from the past popping up where they’re from I don’t know
Reminiscing my cares away
Wishing I could go back and change the points that were low
Till I’ve realised what life’s meant to be

I had morning sickness until week 18. On average it’s meant to last until the beginning of the second trimester at 12 weeks and my colleagues would try to suggest that it would soon pass but day after day it was still there. One thing that helped was constant eating but not everything was suitable. I couldn’t touch porridge from about week six to week 19 and I still haven’t been able to eat any bananas. Nutella sandwiches became breakfast and were the only thing I knew that I could eat. I remember feeling so bad one day that I ran to the bathroom holding a nutella sandwich in one hand and an apricot in the other. I couldn’t eat because I felt so bad and I couldn’t go into the bathroom because I was holding on to food. Finally a colleague came by and she took me to the first aid room as I burst into tears.

Photographs lost in time are all I see
A pointless nostalgic;
That’s me

There are also the happy tears when I receive clothes for the baby that seem too tiny to be true. My housemates mum has knit some white booties and a hoodie cardigan. Colleagues have given me two bags of clothes that include some tiny mittens, pink corduroy trousers, bibs, little dresses and onesies.

I don’t miss the running, the socialising, the alcohol, the caffeine or the few foods I can’t eat. I do wake up occasionally though and wonder about the girl with no bump who is happily running around Bristol.

Pointless Nostalgic by Jamie Cullum

Baby B: What’s In A Name?

Baby names have been on my mind the last few weeks. After the 20 week scan I thought it might be time to start placing this little person in a real context and a name would probably be a useful way to start.

In Greece, children are traditionally named after the grandparents which is why I have four to six cousins and nephews called Vasili after my dad’s dad. The first child is named after the dad’s parents, the second child after the mother’s and then you can be flexible I guess. I don’t have to worry about the father’s parents on this occasion so it’s a Greek name from one of my parents and then an English choice for a middle name. Probably.

I have found myself being very conservative when it comes to the baby’s name and I keep practising saying them to check their ‘usability’ as such.

However it’s not only the end-result name that counts. The little person will have been gestating for over nine months (hopefully) by the time he or she appears. So what to call present little one and future baby? Some women go with ‘bean’ or bump. I find bean a little offensive to the poor thing. It’s not a bean! I have seen little arms and legs and it’s putting a lot of effort into growing a tiny body. According to my pregnancy newsletter, the baby can now blink and therefore open its eyes for the first time. Not that there’s much to see.

I mostly call him / her the ‘little one’ because it doesn’t even become a baby until it’s out in the real world. The first few weeks sees the little being called an embryo and then at eight weeks it becomes a fetus. As I’ve been growing bigger however it’s become easier to think of a baby so in a combination of all I’ve labelled he or she as Baby B – B for Bump.

There are 16 and a half weeks to go and so far I’ve settled on a first and middle name for a girl, a first name for a boy and various names for the baby bump that is gaining lots of prominence in my life.

Single Mother. Unplanned, Wanted Baby.

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.