Pregnancy has lost its warm, fuzzy glow the second time round for Louise Emma Clarke…
I write this at 38 weeks pregnant. I haven’t seen my legs or feet in months (probably a good thing as these thighs aren’t getting any smaller), I can’t get off the sofa without making a noise like a cow in labour, and I have to drop my son from about a foot above the mattress when attempting to lower him into his cot (I think he’s come to enjoy this little adrenaline rush at bedtime). Yep, pregnancy has lost its glamour in a big way.
It wasn’t always like this… With my first pregnancy, I glowed with the fabulousness of it all. I glided around Dubai in maxi dresses, meeting other mums-to-be for decaf coffees, indulging in regular pregnancy massages and manicures, and keeping fit with prenatal yoga classes and laps in the pool. Oh how I loved being pregnant, feeling the kicks as my belly grew and bonding with my unborn child with endless wallows in the bath and horizontal baby-manual reading sessions (when I wasn’t having a long nap in bed, that is…)
I think back now and grit my teeth with jealousy. I recall someone telling me during that first idyllic pregnancy that I would never feel the same way again, but I turned away in denial. Of course I’d get to feel that warm, fuzzy prenatal glow! In fact, I’d be counting down the days until I could be pregnant again, such was the joy of it all. Why would anything be different the second time round?
Well let me bring you up to speed, naïve pregnant self of the past... It’s mainly because a toddler running around the house gives you zero time to relax, bond, or even track the progress of the new baby. I’ve been asked several times how many weeks I am, before having to consult an app on my phone for clarification. I’m sorry unborn child – I have no idea when you started swallowing amniotic fluid to practice breathing, but I bet I knew exactly when your brother was doing it. That makes me feel like a terrible mother, but it’s the truth. I did display your 4D ultrasound pictures proudly on the fridge, until your brother ripped them off and dunked them in his yoghurt. They are now safely stuck in your baby book sporting a suspicious milky stain, but they are cute nonetheless.
I can’t blame it all on the toddler. The glamour has also gone because my bump grew to epic, uncomfortable proportions much earlier this time. My midwife says it’s to do with the muscles in my stomach never going back to their pre-pregnant days (I almost snorted at this point – of course they hadn’t, I could do sit-ups before my son arrived without kicking my legs in the air like an upturned beetle). Whatever the reason, my bump at 30 weeks was akin to my bump at 40 weeks the first time round. How could I possibly have 10 weeks left and feel that uncomfortable?
I started wondering whether there were twins in there and nobody had noticed. I mentioned this theory to my doctor at three consecutive appointments before he stopped responding to the question – I wasn’t questioning his professional opinion, you understand, but I’m sure it must have happened before and my concerns should have been taken seriously. I can just imagine myself cuddling my newborn on the hospital bed thinking it was all over, before the doctor suddenly announced ‘good grief, there’s another one in there!’ At this point, I would nod my head calmly in understanding, as panic ensued around me – and he would have to apologise for his oversight afterwards by way of chocolates and flowers. It would teach him an important lesson, at least.
So here I am with only two weeks until my due date, weighing up my options. Would I rather keep the huge, uncomfortable bump for a few more weeks, along with the sleepless nights, endless toilet breaks, and child slinging at bedtime? Or would I rather get this little person out sooner rather than later, adding to the chaos of my apartment and constant worry that the toddler will try to dunk his new sibling in his yoghurt? It’s a tough one.
By the time this magazine hits shelves, I will be a mother of two and probably feeling jealous of my pregnant self for how much easier things were when one baby was still in utero. And if there’s ever a third (my goodness, even writing that has left me feeling cold), I will no doubt look back on this pregnancy with fond memories, packing three sets of clothes in my hospital bag just in case there’s a chance of triplets. Wish me luck. I think I’m going to need it.