After spending so much of this pregnancy saying that I’m not thinking about it much, it’s as if in this last stretch – especially with Christmas out of the way – something has clicked. It’s suddenly so real. I’m enjoying playing with little feet as they kick through my skin. It’s a familiar feeling yet so different.
It’s becoming natural to talk to this baby – something which came much easier to two-year-old Talitha than to me. She takes many opportunities when we are alone to kiss my tummy and say: “Hello, baby. Having a nice day?” We’ve told her the name many times now and she’ll repeat it but the baby is just “baby” to her and if anyone asks, she still says her name is Sally. It’s still not.
We’re in a kind of one-child-honeymoon, Talitha and I. I’m so all-encompassingly in love with her at the moment. Delight is probably the word for it. I wonder if it’s because I subconsciously know I need to drink in these last days weeks of just us that I’m enjoying our days together so completely.
A mix of feelings lingers there. I know that the changes the new baby brings to all our relationships are normal and good. Yet change always brings with it a measure of uncertainty. While knowing I will have enough love for both children, I expect that there will be a time of navigation or of finding balance. New babies need so much but my older child still needs me too. At times, I feel nervous about this. What will sleep deprivation be like? What will breastfeeding be like? There’s no way of knowing ahead of time.
On the whole, I’m feeling confident about it all. Laurence and I both are. We went to a Positive Birth Movement meeting on Wednesday. It was great being around other expecting couples, hearing positive birth stories and spending time chatting about birth in an atmosphere of calm. We didn’t come away with anything particularly new to us but it provided another opportunity for us to go away and talk about what’s coming ahead. We both feel really good about this upcoming birth, which is exactly where we need to be right now.
We’re practising with KG Hypnobirthing breathing and visualisation scripts most days. We go to sleep with the CD each night. It’s become a running joke that Laurence falls asleep within a couple of lines of birth affirmations. I listen to the rest with his snoring in accompaniment. We laugh that he’ll probably conk out during labour, which will probably do him some good!
I need to get more serious about doing my pelvic floor exercises. I’ve put little signs in different parts of the house to remind (and motivate!) me to do them. Perineum stretches start this week too to try to avoid tearing this time. Oh, to think there was a time when I didn’t know what either of these things were!
In general, I’m physically more aware of being pregnant now because of how heavy I am now. I’m finally experiencing some pelvic pain – unsurprising since all the ligaments are softening in preparation for birth. I’m booking in for another osteopathy appointment as that’s worked so well for me so far. The discomfort is still nowhere near as severe as it was in my last pregnancy. I’m still out and about, and I’m not having to exercise caution when turning over in bed.
I am, however, finding I have to be a lot more sensitive about how I bend, how much we do during the day and how heavy the things I lift are. Unfortunately, this means I can’t lift Talitha very much. She’s mostly accepted this though she does sometimes still ask me to carry her up or down the stairs. Maybe she’s checking whether I’ll change my mind. It’s become annoying with playgrounds so I’ll have to start taking her only to ones where she can use the equipment independently.
I’m also getting more and more tired, which is expected toward the end. We do a combination of retreating to one of the beds with some books for cat naps and a calm DVD on the sofa if I need more time. Talitha doesn’t nap anymore (alas!) but she’s beginning to understand how much I need rest because she’ll often give me a searching look and ask if I’m tired!
It’s been said that I’m borderline anaemic by the midwife I saw this week. Another earlier said that my haemoglobins are within the normal range but low. They’re both looking at the same blood test results, so I’m trying to make up my mind about what to do. When I was feeling faint, having mini-blackouts and feeling short of breath, I massively upped my iron intake. I cut down on caffeine (I’ve cut it out completely now), paid closer attention to eating lots of Vitamin C and iron-rich foods, started drinking nettle tea and added Spatone (iron-rich water) to my supplements. It apparently takes weeks (sometimes months) for your iron stores to rebuild, though, so there’s no way of knowing if that’s been enough.
I’m feeling a lot better on the whole though – just really tired, which isn’t necessarily out of the ordinary for 34 weeks. I’ve also read that it’s normal for your iron levels to be lower in pregnancy due to haemodilution – another way the body prepares for birth. So, I’m weighing it all up and deciding whether to take the iron supplements my GP is prescribing me. I’ve refused ferrous sulphate tablets as I had hideous side effects with them last time and am not convinced, looking at the research, that they do the body much good at all. They’ve instead prescribed ferrous gluconate which is supposed to be a bit kinder. I just need to read around and think about this a bit more, really.
On a brighter note, I’ve written the birth plan (or birth preferences, rather). Laurence is designing it up so it’s a bit clearer and looks like something my care providers will want to read. It’s been a different process this time around. I’ve not bothered with obvious minutiae like “no epidural” but, rather, asked not to be offered pain relief medication and said that I’ll ask for it if I need it. I’ve also made it clear that we are using hypnobirthing techniques, asking that the word “pain” be avoided. I may share it here at some point. We’ll see.
It was lovely to have our doula over yesterday to go through the birth plan and to discuss hypnobirthing too. She has lots of good ideas and is generally a reassuring presence. We feel very clear about what needs to happen in practical terms for the home birth. We’ll next see her at February’s Positive Birth Movement meeting then at the birth!
Nesting is kicking in a bit with furniture being moved around, clothes sorted, books read. I always feel better getting things done. I’m also going to bed a lot earlier than usual so I can spend some time reading the Bible and praying before going to sleep. All in all, it’s a happy time. How amazing it would be if we could stay in this place for the next 6-8 weeks!