With an ever-increasing list of pregnancy bugbears, I gave up on the fruit analogies months ago. I did, however, find myself googling it last night because suddenly it feels like I might be actually carrying a fruit basket at this stage. The search told me that the baby is now the size of a jicama, which I then had to google as well. So, it transpires that I have the equivalent of a Mexican turnip in my belly which would make sense because it certainly feels like (s)he is wearing a sombrero and doing the Mexican wave every hour, on the hour.
Finding that fine line between being honest and not wanting to hurt peoples’ feelings is tough. For me, being in the maternity, having pushed out a baby and trying to grapple with recovery, hormones, emotions and the needs of a very new little person is quite a lot to deal with. Throw over-excited visitors into the equation (whose visits always coincide with a hungry baby and about-to-explode boobs) and it all becomes a little over-whelming. Since coming to this realisation eight years ago when I had my own son, I only visit very close friends and family in the maternity. With others, I wait a couple of weeks and visit them at home, when things have calmed down a little for them. When you tell people that you’d rather they visited you at home than in the hospital, it goes one of two way; they either get it or they are completely affronted. I have one of those uncles – you know the ones, that you barely see and can barely tolerate at family weddings and funerals – who saw fit to rock up to the hospital the last time. We were both incredibly uncomfortable so he paced the ward while I made small talk and wished that he’d take the hint and leave. It was excruciating.
Anyway, I’m leaning towards being honest. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask for some space, just as you shouldn’t be expected to make endless cups of tea for the revolving-door of visitors that you will have for the first few weeks when yourself and the baby come home from hospital. If visitors call you first to ask if you need anything picked up, say yes. If they arrive and start tidying, let them. If they offer to sit with the baby while you sleep, go lay down. The first time around I felt that I had to prove I was coping by entertaining steady streams of visitors in a tidy house. This time around, I intend to cash in the new mom chips (unless of course it involves the creepy uncle). I fully appreciate that people want to share the joy, meet the baby and wish you well and they can do all that – they might just wait until the throbbing subsides and the emotions settle.
Apparently your baby’s movement patterns from the third trimester onward are indicatives of what their new born patterns will look like. If that is the case, sedate me now because I’m destined never to sleep again. No matter how deep a sleep I’m in these nights (given that my husband describes my recent snoring as ‘a broken down tractor’, I reckon it must be pretty deep) I wake up at 1am and again at 4am on the button. El Bambino comes to life like a toddler with access to unlimited amounts of Red Bull and, each time, it takes me over an hour to get back to sleep. On Thursday night, there was no return to slumber after the 4am antics started, and that is how I found myself on the couch in the sitting room at 5am, eating Hula Hoops and watching ‘The Shining’. I imagine I was a complete joy to encounter at work the next day. In general I would describe myself as an easy-going, positive-thinking person who is also a great sleeper. Poor or broken sleep has the ability to transform me into a sugar-craving, overly emotional ball of angst, incapable of stringing a sentence together. While I expect a few weeks of that once the baby arrives, I’m well annoyed that it’s happening already.
My inability to see over my burgeoning belly means that my bikini line will inevitably need a lawnmower taken to it in preparation for D-day and I figured the same would apply to my toenails – I would have to leave them in the hands of a beautician/magician. I even had my excuses (ok, lies) lined up to try and temper the embarrassment slightly – bad back so couldn’t bend down, pregnancy made them swell so tight shoes = crusty feet etc. Imagine my surprise the other night when I figured out that by sitting on the loo and lifting one leg at a time on to the window sill, I could paint my own toe nails and make my feet look someway presentable. Granted, it took 35 minutes, there was a whole lot of grunting and panting and the window sill may have green streaks all over it, but my toes look far less gnarly. That’s a big win these days.
Of course, what goes up must come down so fast forward eight weeks: I’m in the delivery room, with chipped green toenails waving up at me because the belly got far too big to manage taking the nail polish off. I can cope with that, as long as the same fate doesn’t afflict the bikini line.
Side note: I’m trying to think back to the first 22 weeks of this pregnancy, so I can pull a summary together for this diary series. It’s a little harder than I thought as my memory is shot and my brain is a little foggy these days (and I always thought the term ‘baby brain’ was so demeaning to pregnant women). For example, I am a strict vegetarian who ordered tandoori chicken the other night and then tried to convince the waiter that he was, in fact, deaf. I booked a hotel for the May bank holiday weekend for the last getaway as a family of three. Someone from the hotel had to call and tell me that I had made the same booking three times, on three separate days while kindly informing me that I was blocking their availability. The final nail in the coffin of intellect was when someone stopped me on O’Connell Street and asked for directions to the Treaty Stone. After they had happily gone off to follow my directions, I realised that I had sent them off to Tait’s Clock. Bórd Fáilte should be offering me work any day now. Bare with me though, I always get there in the end.
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