PREGNANCY: WEEKS FOURTEEN TO TWENTY-FOUR
I’m a feminist but…
I’m a feminist but (#theguiltyfeminist) I’m quite enjoying the fact that people (mostly men) want to lift, move, get and do stuff for me because I’m pregnant. And even though I’m perfectly capable of lifting, moving, getting and doing, I’m accepting all offers because I believe you shouldn’t look a helpful horse in the mouth. I can’t see many other times in life when everybody wants to be so very amenable.
On the flip side, as a feminist it doesn’t feel great to have people telling me what I should and shouldn’t do with my own body. I’ve been running into a lot of raised eyebrows because at 5 months pregnant my main form of transport is a bicycle. It hasn’t helped that I’m watching The Handmaid’s Tale Series 2. While the show is obviously an exaggeration, there are some startling parallels. Señor B has become the food and drink police and he carefully rations my daily coffee (Yes!! I’m drinking coffee again. Farewell nausea, hello beautiful caffeine!) But I’m OK with that because if the roles were reversed and he was the one carrying the child, I’d be a whole lot more controlling than enforcing extra milky coffee.
The Divine Secrets of the Mama Sisterhood (and brotherhood)
It feels like I’ve joined a secret society I never knew existed. Once parents know you’ve signed up for lifetime membership, they want to share everything with you. They want to tell you all about the joys, sleepless nights, trials and tribulations you’re going to experience. Men in particular really want to share photographs. Our estate agent paused for 5 minutes mid- contract signing, to show me photos and videos of his daughters. (And yes, we’ve bought a flat, which means we’re going to move house when I’m in my third trimester. Thumbs up!) I want to add that this club of mums and dads is beautiful, kind and supportive. At first I didn’t get it because it didn’t feel like I was going to be a parent, it felt too removed from the nausea and exhaustion, but now I do and I love the advice and stories. Lay them on me. Tell me everything that works and doesn’t work. I was wrong. Advice is great and I appreciate every drop of it.
It’s not something I tend to share but I have terrible body image. In a changing room, even if I’m alone, I’ll chose to change under a towel in case somebody enters, and that’s if I make it to the changing room because there have been days when the idea of anybody seeing me in a swimsuit (I wouldn’t even consider a two-piece) is so awful I can’t actually make it to the pool. So once I stopped feeling sick and suddenly started to notice I was expanding, I really didn’t feel great. I found it incredibly hard that people always wanted to comment on my body (one colleague insisted on calling me ‘gordita’ with basically means ‘little fatty’ and while I know it was said with kindness, I wasn’t even showing when she started calling me it.) My confidence really hit a low. I kept taking the comments as criticism and felt like people were passing judgement on my size. My trousers didn’t fit but I wasn’t ready for maternity wear and so I hid behind floaty fabric from Cos and hoped nobody would notice.
And then suddenly I was pregnant. People say your stomach ‘pops’. I think my banged. I went from breakfast baby to “Boy or girl?” overnight. Maternity jeans have become my best friend and they are NOT just for pregnancy. I’m going to be keeping them for a long time. They’ll be great for Christmas/ birthdays/ weekends.
Other physical changes I’ve noted include:
- Waking up with somebody else’s tummy button a few weeks ago. Señor B says the new one is like an eye that’s always watching him. I take photos of it and Whatsapp him for ultimate discomfort.
- Bigger boobs!! I bought my first B cup bra! Hazzah!! What a joy at 35 years old.
And yes, people want to touch the bump. Maybe for some people it’s really uncomfortable and I thought I’d be in this camp, but in fact I say YES! Touch it!! You can never start socialising your baby too soon, right?!
Another ace is that it’s the only time in your adult life when you feel free to indulge every whim your body throws at you. My whims circulate around taking a nap, eating watermelon (something I used to hate) and insisting on getting an ice cream whenever possible. Speaking to pals, it’s clear I’m really lucky at the moment because I’m somehow avoiding the constipation and heartburn, which hits a lot of expectant mums.
My Power Animal
Being pregnant is a bit like having an amazing secret all the time. Well, maybe not a secret because everybody can see it, but not everybody can feel it. I love it when I’m teaching a class and I feel dancing in my stomach. I love chatting to the bump; I love Señor B chatting to the bump. It feels magical. Truly and beautifully magical. Yes, I have to avoid thinking about the more physical part of what’s happening (imagining what one app described as ‘a transparent baby with half-formed eyes’ in my stomach is a bit grim.) But I get why so many people say they love being pregnant. Plus, I haven’t had a hangover for 5 months. That’s a pretty excellent feeling too.
España: Notes on pregnancy in Spain
Choosing a name with Señor B proved difficult. His first suggestions were Ian for a boy (I thought of Beale) and Julie for a girl (Ali G sprang to mind.) We just didn’t get the connotations of the names the other suggested. We’ve now landed on something I think will work but are keeping it secret for now..
The other issue is the surname. In Spain, the child traditionally takes the first surname from each parent. (Women don’t change their name when they marry. The children get a double-barrelled name instead.) So our child will have two surnames, one English, one Spanish. Great! What’s the problem? I can’t pronounce the Spanish one. It contains a ‘rr’ which in Spain needs a trick of the tongue, and this mama cannot roll..
Wanting to know the sex of the baby is a given, not a shall-we/shan’t-we discussion. At the scan the gender was dropped in casually with a list of things they checked for. ‘Head size? Good. Legs? Good. It’s a girl..’ A GIRL!!!!!!!!!!
On the downside, nobody has heard of gas and air. I’m not sure what this means for the birth. Mums out there, tell me what this could mean!
We started with a very sweet midwife who would do a hand gesture to show a pregnant stomach every time she said the word baby, (baby in Spanish is ‘bebé’ so was probably the only word not needing a mime, but I loved that she was trying to help.) But when we returned we had Nervous Midwife. Nervous Midwife looks unsure of everything she does. She kept us waiting an hour because she’d misread her appointment sheet, took my blood pressure 6 times but still couldn’t find a read, asked us to return again in 4 weeks, which we did, only to wait another 45 minutes and then to be told we didn’t need to be there and should come back two weeks later. Nervous Midwife has called time on my cycling. She also speaks Spanish REALLY fast which adds another layer to the nervous onion.
Let’s end on my bilingual baby thought of the day.. Will my baby speak English with a Spanish accent or Spanish with an English accent?