I hit 25 weeks last Saturday and this week has been about getting a couple of big things sorted and seriously getting my head around the fact that we are actually having another baby.
I’ve been anxious about a lot of things lately, both to do with day-to-day living and with the big life change happening this summer when baby number three joins us. Without realising it, I feel tense at the thought of giving birth again.
That really surprised me when I stopped long enough to uncover it. Ophelia’s birth was absolutely amazing. It was a calm, empowering home birth in water.
It was not entirely straightforward, though, as I ended up transferring afterward to have my tear checked and stayed in for observations since I’d been found Group B Strep positive a couple of days before the birth but had decided against antibiotics in labour. I partly comforted myself on the maternity ward, frustrated by being unable to sleep, that at least we wouldn’t have to make difficult decisions around birth again.
But life often doesn’t come neatly packaged and planned. We are doing this again. Just as it did last time, pregnancy is bringing to the surface many feelings not dealt with. Once again, I see the connection between how I approach birth and how I live. Recently, my inner life has been chaotic so it’s not a surprise that I approach the thought of birth with some anxiety.
So I’m looking forward to getting back into hypnobirthing by re-reading Katharine Graves’ book, listening to her CD and practising the scripts in the folder she gave us on the course we did with her three years ago when I was pregnant with Ophelia. We both think the “fear release” script will be particularly good for us to read again.
I’m also getting back to reading the Bible more regularly, talking to God about the stuff that’s tumbling around in my head and just listening. I used to expect these disciplines to be an instant fix – perfect peace on a plate. Sometimes, I still impatiently want this to be the case. Actually, I’m mostly learning to wait, to be quiet, to accept that nothing I’m feeling excludes me from this relationship.
When I admitted to Laurence that I was feeling worried about the birth, he pushed for us to go to the Bristol Home Birth Group meeting on Sunday night. His brother babysat while we went and swapped stories with other couples who’d had babies before, chatted with the midwives volunteering there about birth preferences and even got to unpack bits of our last birth experience that we’d never had the chance to talk about with health care professionals before.
Leaving the meeting, I felt a mix of things. I felt closer to Laurence because we’d opened up about things we’d not had the mental space to discuss. I also felt connected to the women I’d met there and a part of me looked forward to birthing this ever active baby.
I also felt sad about how unsupported I’m feeling with hardly seeing a midwife in this pregnancy and never seeing the same one. I still woke up multiple times that night, worried about the unidentifiable. It occurred to me that part of why I’ve mostly ignored the fact that I’m pregnant is that it’s easier than actually dealing with the things that are bothering me, not all of them even to do with the birth or this baby but brought to the surface now that I feel vulnerable. Yet, these things manifest themselves in other ways, anyway.
I finally went to see the GP this week to rule out physical causes for my constant exhaustion and my low moods. The lab is going to run some tests to check my Vitamin D and iron levels and to make sure I don’t have a bladder infection or diabetes. I am grateful that he took me seriously enough to be willing to offer all this. I’m still trying to decide whether to call someone to discuss talk therapy as a route to explore.
This week, it’s becoming impossible to ignore the fact that I’m pregnant. I can see the baby moving about when I buckle myself in to drive. Talitha and Ophelia keep asking to feel “Butterfly” (their nickname for her while we try to settle on a name) but she helpfully stops moving the moment they put their hands on me – and then they lose patience waiting!
I’ve started to feel pain mostly in my lower back from ligaments relaxing. If we’ve been out and about earlier in the day, I groan my way up and down the steps and shuffle about in the evening. Osteopathy wasn’t going to be on the card this time since money is tight but I’m starting to reconsider it, even if it’s just a session here and there.
Thankfully, Ophelia walks a lot more than Talitha did at this age, though. It makes such a difference not having to lug a toddler around all the time or push a pushchair that often. Talitha has also become really helpful around the house, even taking down the washing from the line the other day.
I think I’m all out of denial that our family is expanding, that this is really happening. I’m also embracing the fact that I don’t know what that’s going to look like. It is different every time. This time the journey isn’t just Laurence’s and mine. This time we get to share it with our two-year-old and “four-and-three-quarter-year-old” (as she likes telling people she is).
And that means that even though there’s a lot of weird stuff I’m dealing with, it is still a whole lot of fun.