There was a time where I loved cantaloupe melons, because they are that perfect combination of bitter and sweet. It seems apt so that this week’s baby-as-a-fruit comparison is a cantaloupe because I’m in that stage of pregnancy where I love it one minute, hate it the next. During the day, it’s a breeze and then 8pm comes and I turn into a scratching, agitated mass of discomfort. Once night falls I should come with some kind of warning; ‘beware of the hormones because Christ on a bike, do they make her moan’.
In the vanity Vs practicality stakes, at 34 weeks pregnant which one should be winning out? As my chest prepares for the National Dairy Council’s ‘fastest expanding production line’ award I had to take myself into Debenham’s for yet another maternity bra fitting. I’m in there so frequently these days I reckon that the nice lady who does the fittings might feel obliged to buy me a baby gift. Anyway, having measured me again, she declared that at this stage, I might as well abandon the maternity bra and go for a nice nursing one instead. I’m by no means Dita Von Teese when it comes to choosing underwear but if you ever want to feel like a repressed 1950s nun, wear a nursing bra for a few hours. They come in very unimaginative colours, unhook at the front and have straps wide enough to run the LUAS. In an attempt to pretty them up, most manufacturers seem to think that sticking a flower ribbon in the middle will make you forget that you are wearing the modern-day version of a corset. In fact, all that does is give you the silhouette of a third nipple which, when I tried to cut it off, left a hole in the bra that I had just paid €39 for. In my quest to hold on to the last remnants of ‘me’ it seems that practicality has won out and I now have three bras that should be made standard-issue for all teenage girls because there isn’t a better contraceptive available.
Picture Darth Vader after a 10k run. Now picture Darth Vader smoking 20 Rothmans while doing that 10k run. Yep, that’s pretty much what I sound like these days if I have to walk any longer than five minutes. I’m like one of those heavy breathing phone calls that babysitters used to get in old B movies. It seems the baby has decided that my ribcage is as good a place as any to tuck her legs, so I now have the lung capacity of a tortoise with asthma. I’m hoping that its temporary because right now I can’t even keep pace with my chain-smoking, very unfit father, I can’t walk and talk on the phone at the same time and I was asked the other day (by a complete-but nice-stranger) if I was having a panic attack. My one consolation is that everything in pregnancy seems to be a passing phase so I’m hoping that those baby legs take up new lodgings in the coming days.
The realisation that I only have 6 weeks ‘to go’ hit me yesterday morning, as I came out of the shower, dried my ankles and had to sit down for 5 minutes to recover from the exertion of bending over. We spend pregnancy counting upwards: ‘I’ll be 15 weeks tomorrow’, ‘almost 16 weeks’ or the one that drives me nuts altogether ‘I’m 15 plus 5’. For me, counting the days is akin to most housework and bringing your car for its NCT on time – life is just too short. Anyway, I’m delighted to now be at the point where I’m on the count down. 6 weeks is do-able. When I can’t get into a comfortable position in bed at night, ‘only 6 more weeks’ has become my mantra. When my belly itches like I’m being feasted on by an army of bedbugs, it’s only 6 more weeks. By next week, I’ll be delirious with the prospect of having just 5 weeks to go.
There is a certain pressure to enjoy pregnancy, to embrace the changes that it brings and to revel in the marvellous things that your body is capable of doing. It’s all about glowing and sending nothing but positive vibes your growing baby’s way. I get that, I really do. But what I’m equally comfortable with is the fact that I don’t have to love being pregnant all of the time. Yes, it’s incredible to feel your baby kicking as you are sitting in the world’s most uneventful 3pm meeting. Not so incredible when those kicks happen at 3am and you have to shuffle downstairs and slug Gaviscon straight out of the bottle. Likewise, early nights are a treat when you choose to have them but when you have to take them for months on end because you’re completely exhausted, you start to feel that life is passing you by.
I love the fact that in 6 weeks time, we will get to meet this new little person who we will have the privilege of loving and nurturing for the rest of our days. I love that our son will have a sibling to turn to when his father and I get old and crotchety and they can sound off to each other about us (note to my Mom: my sister and I would, of course, never do that about you). In the journey to make all of that happen, there are things that I miss. I miss regular jeans, high heels and nice underwear. I miss relaxing over a bottle of chilled wine. I miss feeling like I have control over my body. I miss being able to dry my ankles!
Sure, all of those things will be back soon but in the meantime, it’s ok to be looking forward to the finish line. As this is my last pregnancy (provided I stay away from ridiculous volumes of wine and keep wearing the nursing bras), it sometimes feel like there is additional, self-inflicted pressure to enjoy every minute of it. Well, that stops this week. I’m counting down. I’m preparing to welcome the baby and to say ‘adios’ to indigestion, achy body parts, Kegel exercises and having to pee into test tubes……..and it’s a very liberating feeling.
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