Ahead of going away for a weekend, I had to go shopping for some pool attire that would (a) stop small children jumping out of the water with the fright of seeing the Michelin Woman wombling towards them and (b) contain side boobage that has the escapist abilities of Houdini. Not an easy feat. The increasingly popular tankini just looks like an overly-stretched bikini, where a baby-carrying belly pokes out at the most unflattering point. I’m not much of a bikini wearer (unless thousands of miles from home) as my skin tone is best described as translucent so it came down to a pair of good old fashioned black togs. Functionally boring but with the hefty price tag that maternity wear seems to think it deserves. To be fair though, given that the Nigella birkini was looking like an option for a while, I was happy with my plain old black number.
Prenatal supplements have become a bit of a chore. For the first 12-16 weeks, popping folic acid was as much part of the morning routine as brushing my teeth. Then you have the first scan, feel a little more confident and start spending too much time in the vitamin aisle of Boots. That is where I learned all kinds of amazing facts: Mommies-to-be need fish oils to ensure the creation of a super brainy baby; vitamin D because the sun never shines in Ireland; B vitamins so that yourself and the bébé aren’t wound up like tight springs; and something else (that I can’t remember) to ensure a milk supply that would give Avonmore a run for its money. Side note – if I ever want to make my husband nervous and fidgety I just start dropping expressions like ‘milk supply’ and ‘leakage’ into casual conversation. I think it’s a legacy from learning how to breast feed the first time around and insisting that he was privy to every single detail.
The weeks go by and you get a little complacent. Between funny after-tastes and some minor side effects you decide that a kiwi and some spinach means you can maybe cut the prenatal vitamins down to every second night. Throw in a few smoothies, juices and a kale salad, and hey presto, in my mind I am earth mama. Then, while hunting in the kitchen for a crème egg, I realise that the month’s supply of vitamins has only 3 capsules missing and the earth mama fallacy fades fast. Looks like its back to the supplements because, seemingly, without them I will be welcoming a very nervous, slow-on-the-uptake baby vampire into the world in May.
I woke up at 4am the other morning, grabbed my husband’s head and cried out so loudly that the poor guy thought labour had started. I felt like a character in ‘Game of Thrones’ that had been strapped to a stretching device until I divulged all the secrets of the kingdom. Leg cramps. Further proof that this elusive God character is actually a man. The pain itself only lasted about 40 to 50 seconds but as I tried to grab my toes and flex them towards my body, time seemed to stand still. Two days later I was still walking around with a residual throbbing in my calf that was reminiscent of my John Wayne walk after last year’s Great Limerick Run. A quick consultation with Dr. Google has armed me with some possible preventive measures – bananas (for potassium), milk (up the old calcium) and calf stretches before bed. If none of that works and a leg cramp strikes in the middle of the night, apparently standing on a cold surface should ease it. Yes, because jumping out of bed and sprinting into the bathroom in search of cold tiles is so very realistic when your leg feels like there is a hedgehog inside trying to gnaw its way out.
The hacking cough that I’ve had since getting the flu at Christmas has finally subsided and I suddenly have energy. Outside of having a basketball-shaped belly, I feel like me again and that is the best feeling ever. For a few months there my evenings consisted of falling in from work at 5.30pm, having dinner, throwing on pyjamas and pasting myself to the couch. Where my seven year-old has always been told that bedtime stories are what make the world go around, I found myself offering him 15 minutes of I-pad in bed. While I wrestled with the guilt of that, he was so thrilled with himself that he has taken to hiding books. Finding a copy of ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ in the laundry basket was the first clue.
People talk about ‘nesting’ but I’m sure that means doing all kind of elaborate things like painting the baby’s room (or as the Pinterest generation call it, the nursery – ‘tis far from nurseries we were reared!), washing baby clothes, building cots etc. I think my current phase of happiness is just called ‘functioning’. I can load the washing machine without fantasising about climbing into the bed as I am stripping it. I can go grocery shopping without having to psyche myself up for two hours beforehand. Best of all, I can muster up the energy for a conversation after 8pm. I put on mascara one morning and marvelled at how much of an effort I had made all day. 25 year-old me is horrified at the sight of 37 year-old me and can’t believe the lack of maintenance, to which 37 year-old me retorts ‘a little less boozing, schmoozing and waxing now there lady and your 30s might be a bit easier on you’.
So, here’s to energy. Whether it’s the conscious return to taking vitamins or the fact that the flu that has afflicted just about everyone I know has finally naffed off, long may it last.
Remember to check back for next weeks pregnancy diary!