I’m now 38 weeks pregnant, and we’re living through extraordinary times. We’re in week four, going on five, of lockdown because of the global coronavirus pandemic. It means everyone’s stuck at home. We’re allowed to go out once a day for exercise, to visit the supermarket for essential food and travel to the office if you can’t work from home. And that’s it.
When you do venture out, it’s eerily quiet. The streets are empty – there are hardly any cars on the roads. But lots of people are out walking. Couples in their sports gear jogging, families on their bikes… I’ve managed to get out pretty much every day. We’re lucky to have lots of green open space on our doorstep, but I also like walking along the roads as well, peering into people’s houses and discovering new places.
Of course, at 38 weeks pregnant, I’m pretty big and so walking can sometimes be a struggle. Earlier in the week, I couldn’t go far as the pressure ‘down below’ made it so uncomfortable. This has only happened a couple of times though. For the most part, I’m managing a decent amount of steps. Some days it completely exhausts me. Others, like today, I feel good and the exercise helps me work up an appetite. I watch the joggers run by the window each day and envy them, while at the same time being glad I don’t feel the need to be doing the same!
I’ve completed my first week of mat leave, and the second week off work now, and it’s flown by. I’ve been busy sorting out my digital photos, which I’m nowhere near finished with and has really frustrated me how slow it’s being! I want all my photos to be sorted so I can start afresh once the baby is here. I don’t want to save up thousands of digital shots of her, that we never look at – I want a system of saving and printing them each year so I can treasure the memories.
I also started my tax return, which I absolutely hate doing. It’s taken me almost two days to do, and I’m still not finished – I even worked until 6:30pm on Friday night, like a proper job. It’ll be a huge relief to get that finished, when I know what I owe and can forget about it for another year. It’s also made me realise how disorganised I’ve become generally in life, because I never have time to do this kind of stuff. For example, I really need to sort out my pension, of which I have three different schemes on the go. We also must get ourselves a will.
My emotions continue to be all over the place. I don’t normally cry much, but everything is setting me off. Me and my husband had a fight about how we’re going to split our finances now I’m earning the equivalent of half my salary over the next year. I think we’ve sorted it, but the conversation was uncomfortable. I’m also waking up in the middle of every night feeling massively anxious about what’s round the corner. I feel so unready to be a mom. I’m scared I won’t cope, that I won’t know what to do and that I’ll be inadequate. Friends have said all these doubts are normal but I can’t see to shake them off.
One recent victory though is I started colostrum harvesting yesterday and, despite a slow start, I’ve managed to freeze three 1ml syringes already! It felt very strange hand expressing, but I got a real sense of achievement and hope it’s a good indication of how breastfeeding will go. When I was struggling to get anything out, I came across a internet forum where another mom to be was experiencing the same problems as me. It really surprised me as a lot of the comments to her post were from women in the US shooting her down for even doing it – apparently it’s really discouraged in the States as it can set labour off. My attitude is the baby will come when she’s ready and I’m just happy I can do something useful in preparation for her arrival.
My husband is absolutely desperate for the baby to arrive. There was a lot of movement in my belly last night, and I was convinced she’d dropped and her head had started to engage. Now I’m not too sure but my belly button definitely looks different. I’m just hoping her head is down – that’s all I care about.
However, unlike my other half, I am really not in a rush to meet the baby. Selfishly, I want to enjoy the next two weeks ‘off’ as much as I can. It’s just so chilled at the moment. Lockdown means I don’t feel like I have to be doing loads of stuff (even though I do a bit, but it means I can physically do less, if that makes sense, which limits the guilt). The weather is also amazing – it’s been sunny and warm for days – so it’s a bit like being on holiday at the moment.
Having said that, I have started to feel the odd twinge down below. Last night I wondered if I experienced my first Braxton Hicks, although I’m not sure I did. I’m keeping my eyes peeled for ‘the show’ and any other signs, like loose bowels, but everything remains pretty normal. Generally, my late pregnancy symptoms include swollen hands and feet, and when I wake up my fingers ache. I’m not sure if I’m tensing them up when I’m asleep, or if it’s carpel tunnel syndrome. I’ve also got lots of horrible skin tags on my neck, which I can’t wait to get rid of once the baby is here.
Who’d have thought a year ago that I’d be sitting here like a beached whale typing this blog post from the baby’s nursery, 38 weeks pregnant? Certainly not me. Almost to the year was when we discovered my first pregnancy had ended in a missed miscarriage at 12 weeks after three fresh rounds of IVF. I was so distraught, and had started to think seriously about the possibility of us living a life without kids. And now, a year later, everything is so different.
I just want this for everyone. I feel resentful when I hear stories of people getting pregnant after one or two months when they weren’t even trying. Or when really unhealthy people who smoke and drink loads fall pregnant. When I think of all the poor souls who suffer infertility, some of whom are still waiting for their happy ending, it makes me mad. My heart goes out to all those people who are currently on pause with their IVF journeys because of coronavirus. It sucks – I wish it was different. I just hope in a year’s time, we’ll all be in a better situation because a lot can change in 12 months.