The pregnancy diaries: Part Three

Peri- what?

Yesterday I lay on a bed in Nervous Midwife’s office while she demonstrated to Señor B how to massage my perinea. This involved my legs being up in stirrups while she aggressively fingered me, and Señor B politely watched. Weird? Yes. Uncomfortable? Strangely no. There’s a matter-of-fact approach to the body in Spain that I can’t help but respect. The video we watched in our antenatal class of a mystery pair of hands massaging the perinea of a extremely malleable plastic vagina would have had a room full of Brits giggling like school kids; not so in Spain. If you aren’t familiar with the perineal massage, I suggest a quick Google, but basically the aim is to avoid tearing during birth. Some people I’ve spoken to about it have cowered in fear at the thought of letting their partner do it for them. My feeling was that if I was going to grow/ carry the baby, it was the least Señor B could do. Plus, having not seen my vagina for two months, it’d be no small  feat to do it to myself as I’ve heard some women do. Will it work? Only time and a stitch-free post-birth vagina will tell. (p.s. I know we never actually see our vaginas, but I’m using the word in the general, non-scientific way.)

We’re going through changes…

While Señor B seems to be finding my physical changes beautiful and sensual, my feelings towards my body are a little more Attenborough/BBC2. I’m watching it with interest, sometimes distress, but generally and a whole new respect.

1. Cankles! Following a 12-hour train journey from the north of Spain to Lisbon, a walk to find our Airbnb and an exploration of the oh-so-beautiful and very hilly Lisbon, I had the feet of Heimlich, the volutptous caterpillar. I almost bought new shoes because my feet were bursting out of mine. While they haven’t returned to Lisbon level, there’s been a definite puffiness to them since then and I’m not into it at all.
2. Dreams. Many crazy dreams. Apparently it’s a common symptom. They are mostly anxiety based and sometimes very vivid. I woke up crying one morning because I dreamt I was a single parent on a TEFL salary (half of this is true).
3. The heartburn has arrived and it’s brought with it some pretty uncontrollable gas. As far as I can tellSeñor B has caught this wind issue by proxy. How unusual.
4. So many emotions. I’ve had days of uncontrollable tears. I’ve had days of fear. Moments of shock when I’ve caught my giant reflection in a shop window. Feelings of serenity and calm, and blissful hours of joyful anticipation. The main thing to remember is that I’m not always in control, so don’t worry about it and don’t bother asking me why. I can’t explain it, I just am.
5. There’s an alien in my stomach and she kicks! Watching your stomach rippling or a knee or a footsticking out from your flesh is weird. It can also be painful at times. But most of all, it’s really magic. Don’t get too close to me though as I’m prone to grab your hand and make you feel it. Sorry about that.

Time goes by so slowly…

Summer in Spain was a challenge. It was hot. I was pregnant. I’d be banned from cycling so had to travel by bus. It was sweaty and not a lot of fun. I was counting down the days until my maternity leave began. And then it did. Hurray!! Except that what I failed to predict was the overwhelming boredom. Right now I’m 37 weeks pregnant. I’ve batch cooked the freezer full. I’ve rearranged all the cupboards. I’ve built IKEA furniture. I swim, although this generally requires a very long siesta to recover from. I meet friends for herbal teas. This also requires sleeping recovery time. And I wait…and wait…. And try not to think about pushing a human person out of my vagina. I’m currently on The Great British Bake Off Season Four. I tried listening to an audiobook about Hypno-birthing but got distracted by Jon Ronson’s Butterfly Effect (the story of how free porn changed the world forever). It would be procrastinating if I had anounce of control as to when anything was going to happen. But perhaps what I’m really doing is trying not to let any thoughts of childbirth enter my mind. I’m conflicted about how I feel about the birth itself. In part, I think that if I’m capable of growing a baby, then I’m also capable of pushing it out. The body does amazing things and I should just let it do what it knows. BUT a baby’s head is BIG, right?!! When I was just a few months pregnant my 10-year-old nephew said to me… “Do this!” This was pulling each corner of his mouth as wide apart as possible with his index fingers. “Now times that feeling by ten.” Done. “That’s how much it’s going to hurt when you have your baby.” Ace!


Baby girls here generally have their ears pierced, pretty much at birth. Add this to the fact that I’ve rejected much/all of the pink clothing the shops here have to offer and it’s highly likely that everybody will assume my baby girl is a boy. I’m fine with this if it means she keeps her ears free of holes.
90% of women here have epidurals compared to just 30% in the UK. That’s a massive difference, which must be in part due to the availability of gas and air in the UK. I’ll say it now, I’m going to try without. I might fail and beg for it in the last hour but I have a ‘plan’.
Maybe this happens in the UK too, but people keep commenting on the fact that only my stomach has got bigger, I haven’t put on weight elsewhere. Having done nothing to achieve this I’m not sure what the right response is so usually go for a “Gracias?”

And so she’s nearly here! My hospital bag is packed with sanitary towels the size of bricks.

We’ll meet again on the other side. Cross your fingers that I don’t lose my mucus plug in the swimming pool and that like my friend Jean’s birthing experience, it’ll be ‘just grand.’

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