So I’ve now been to the hospital to have my 20 week “anomaly” scan, where they check for several abnormalities including anencephaly (absence of the top of the head), defects in the abdomen, missing or very short limbs, spina bifida, and major kidney problems.
Luckily all was well and the sonographer said she was 99.9 percent sure it’s a boy! I’m very pleased, although I had no preference either way. A lot of people choose to wait until the birth to find out the gender, but I’m too curious and impatient. Also I wanted to be able to have a good look at the screen. We bought four photos, which have done the rounds of countless friends and family and have been emailed around the country.
Now I’m getting used to calling it “him,” which together with the regular movements makes it all feel much more real. We’ve already decided on a name, but keeping quiet about it for the time being.
I wouldn’t say we’re bonding yet, as such, but I’m aware that he can hear my voice and I’m thinking about the noises he’s being exposed to. Yes, I have found myself playing classical music when I probably wouldn’t otherwise! My husband is away at the moment, so I’m also playing a recording he made of his voice (reading Winnie the Pooh).
It’s strange to think that soon, when I reach 24 weeks, he would have roughly a 50 percent chance of surviving outside of the womb. The time has passed very quickly. His main objective from now on is to grow thicker skin and put on a lot of fat – he’ll probably weigh about six or seven pounds more by the time he’s born. Trying not to think about that day too much yet!
Over halfway already
The pregnancy is still going worryingly well, no new discomforts but the general itchiness remains along with a much higher appetite.
I recently attended a one-off antenatal physiotherapy session at my local hospital where I learned a lot and the nurse leading it was excellent. I saw lots of other bumps and discovered that mine’s quite small compared with others at my stage. All the other women (about seven of them) were having pain around their bumps and at the top of their legs from the muscles relaxing and I felt so lucky because I don’t (yet).
The nurse emphasized the importance of Kegel exercises, which I must admit I have been slightly lazy about doing. She said that pregnancy can place a lot of stress on your pelvic floor muscles, but keeping them strong can prevent urinary incontinence and prolapse, and shorten the second (pushing) stage of labor. All very good reasons!
Gentle exercise such as walking, swimming, pregnancy Pilates and yoga, is also important, she told us. But activities that put a strain on the joints or ligaments are best avoided.
On a different topic, I’ve investigated some of the alcohol-free wines available, and I can report it’s a losing battle. I can strongly recommend grape juice instead. I also haven’t found a particularly good brand of decaffeinated coffee, but at least some are drinkable. Am missing blue cheese and pate too, so I’ve promised I’ll make it up to myself in September. Frighteningly, that’s now only 16 weeks away!
Money, money, money
One of the things that’s surprised me as I prepare to enter the world of parenting is just how expensive or cheap having a baby can be. Newspaper articles would have you believe that the cost of raising a child is enormous. Others ridicule this as nonsense, and claim the cost in the first year can be almost nothing. How? Well, I’ve looked into this carefully and my top tips are: borrow as much as possible, ask around for hand-me-downs, and use Freecycle or Gumtree. Check out the baby clothing “bundles” and maternity clothes on eBay, and get advice from thrifty websites. Of course, you’ve got to wash everything that’s previously used, and be absolutely certain that car seats have not been involved in an accident. Many parents choose to buy a new one, and new mattresses. Some very kind friends have already asked for present ideas, so I recommend keeping a list of what you need close at hand.
Breastfeeding, if possible, will clearly save money although it’s unlikely to be completely free. I’d like to have a breast pump and bottles so my husband can feed him in the night, and I need breast pads, nipple cream and nursing bras. Reusable diapers could save up to a few hundred dollars a year. But getting the hang of them is another matter, so we’ll see. Disposables can also work out very cheap if you shop around.
In practice, it’s hard to resist every piece of persuasive advertising that comes your way. I’ve bought some not-strictly-necessary maternity tops, and spent a fair amount on childbirth books. But I’ll cover that delightful topic another time!