Monday, 16 July 2018

The Pregnant Pause | Full Term Pregnancy Q&A



So here we are at full term, waiting for my baby to make an appearance any day now. While I'm waiting, I was thinking about the questions people have asked me since I found out we were expecting a sibling for Theo, and I decided to pull them together into a full-term pregnancy question and answer post...


How has being pregnant for the second time compared to the first?


This second pregnancy has been a completely different experience to the first time. Despite the fact that I knew much earlier on, the time has absolutely flown by. With a full time job, family life with an active toddler, and blogging to fit in, I haven’t had much time to really think about it!

Whereas when I was expecting Theo I spent hours chatting to Sebastian about what he might be like, looking up what vegetable he was the size of on pregnancy apps and paying attention to every little flutter and kick, the reality of second-time parenthood is that you just don’t have time for it. Theo is two and very energetic, so most of my energy goes to him at the moment. I also haven’t been able to indulge myself as much - I had lots of naps, daytime bubble baths and things the first time around that wouldn’t have been practical now - there’s not much sympathy for tiredness, aches and pains, you just have to get on with it..

This pregnancy has been quite different in many ways - I had some sickness at the start, and I’ve definitely has far less energy throughout. With Theo I went to the gym until I was almost eight months through, but this time I’ve only really done a handful of Pilates classes and have been dying to go to bed most nights! I’ve fallen asleep in Theo’s room at his bed time on more occasions than I can count!


When did you decide the time was right to expand your family?


I don’t believe there’s ever a perfect time! With the second one, there are various pros and cons to the size of age gap. Sebastian was keen to have another one fairly close in age in the hope that they will be able to play together, and this is the earliest I would have considered having another one. It took me about a year to feel completely myself again after having Theo, then I had a good few months where I felt like I had hit a nice balance and was just enjoying life as it was.

I had a tough time going back to work after maternity leave, so I actually left for a new job a couple of months after, and I felt like I wanted to get at least a year under my belt there, and feel settled.

With every month that passes, Theo is getting more independent and easier to take care of, which makes it less of a struggle to have another. He’s fully potty trained now, and little things like that make a big difference. He’s old enough to help a little bit, but young enough that it hopefully won’t be too much of a shock to the system. I knew I wanted more children soon after having him, but it was more a case of thinking ‘why not?’ as to feeling completely ready.

How soon did you realise that you were pregnant?


We knew very soon this time around -  a complete contrast to Theo, where I was 13 weeks before I took a test! Perhaps I felt more tuned in to changes in my body, but immediately after we started trying I ‘felt’ pregnant, although I couldn’t say exactly why. I took a test really early - before I had even missed a period - and it showed up positive straight away. As the test monitors pregnancy hormones, I felt it was quite likely to be right - they can be wrong if you ARE pregnant but don’t have high enough levels of hormones to read on the test, but it would be unusual to be the other way around.

I took the test in our little bathroom at home, and it felt like confirming something I already knew. We were really happy - with Theo it took me far longer to get my head around it all, and I actually took the test on my own to try and process it before telling Sebastian. This time was a far more settled reaction!  Then I started experiencing some morning sickness, which I didn’t have with Theo, so it all felt real straight away.

We have been extremely lucky because both times it's happened immediately once we started trying - we’re averaging about a week to conceive! I’ve never had to experience getting my hopes up and then feeling disappointed, which I know is incredibly fortunate. I was prepared for it to take a little longer this time, but it didn't happen that way.


How did you tell friends and family?


So casually, just a phone call! With Theo we had just moved into our new house, so we invited our families round for afternoon tea as a housewarming, and told them all then. There were some priceless reactions and it's a really treasured memory for me, how happy the grandparents and Seb’s sister Kirsty was for us. I don’t think anyone was expecting it right at that moment, we’d already been married for four years, so they were probably sick of waiting!

This time, it didn’t feel right to make as much of a fuss, but I think most people had already guessed. I was pregnant over Christmas but it was too early to tell anyone. I thought I had done a good job pretending to drink then palming my glasses of Prosecco off on Seb, but I don’t think I was as subtle as I thought! Seb’s brother in law apparently guessed, and I think my Dad had an idea as well. So when were able to let people know it was more of an ‘oh we already knew!’ reaction!

Any complications?


It's mostly been a really straightforward pregnancy, as it was last time. I had a bit of trouble with my back - the baby was trapping my sacral nerve for a while over Easter. My back was hurting for a while but then I woke up one day and literally couldn’t get out of bed. I had to see the emergency GP and they put me on codeine, which spaced me out and made me even more tired. I managed to see an obstetric physiotherapist who was enormously helpful. She spent a lot of time with me showing me exercises to do to prevent the pain, even ways to get out of bed. Thankfully since then it's eased off and things have been as normal as you could hope for when carrying a small human.

Any weird cravings?


Disappointingly, none at all! With Theo, I seemed to be on a Vitamin C trip for a while - I wanted oranges and tomatoes all the time, until bad acid reflux put paid to it! This time there hasn’t really been anything at all. The baby has a strong reaction every time I eat something sugary, but I haven’t really been craving sweet things any more than usual.

It’s been more about smells for me, if anything. I have developed a real love for some very odd smells - the inside of my car when you first get in on a hot day, and petrol or tyres. They smell amazing to me! I’ve been joking about launching a line of candles in aromas like ‘Hot Rubber’, ‘Dusty Seatbelt’ etc. That is a bit odd!

Did you want a boy or a girl?


When I was pregnant the first time, I really did want a girl to begin with. I think because I felt like I knew what to do more when it came to girls. Then Theo came along and it was so magical - I couldn’t be prouder of my little son!

Having another one, there were lots of mixed emotions. Theo is an absolute joy and I knew it would be nice for him to have a brother as well, but I did wonder if this baby was a boy, would I keep going until I had a girl? Would I be happy never to have a daughter? I think it's quite different mothering boys to girls, and I wanted to experience both.

When we found out we were expecting a girl, I was so surprised as I had been trying not to get too worked up about it. It will be so nice to have that experience, and for our little girl to have her big brother to love and protect her. I also feel like it's taken a bit of pressure away from me - if we ever did have another child it would be completely for its own sake and not because I’m secretly hoping for something I haven’t got.


Why did you do natural gender selection?


After reading up about it, I wasn’t convinced at all as there’s not much evidence, but I felt like it was something I wanted to try - even if it only tipped the balance five per cent! Some of it is about making your body more acid or alkaline by consuming different foods and drink -  so I remember having to avoid coffee and bananas! That sounds quite far fetched.

The other part is about the timing of when you conceive - apparently, male sperm are quicker swimmers but die off faster in the body, whereas female sperm survive longer but take longer to reach the egg. So you are only meant to try to fall pregnant on certain days. I wanted to give it a go, but Sebastian was concerned that it would hold us back too much - you only have under 20% chance of conceiving in a given month anyway, and you’re reducing that even further.

We decided to give it a go for a couple of months and then just leave it to fate if nothing happened. I was already using an app called Clue to keep a track of my cycle, and I had some ovulation strips, so it was fairly easy to work out the appropriate days. We only had a couple of tries because I fell pregnant straight away -  fairly mindblowing, as there were only two days of the month we were allowed to try!

What was the 20 weeks scan like?


I must admit I was quite nervous. A few things in my head felt like it might be a girl, just because I’d had sickness and things I didn’t with Theo. I also knew this time how much I love my little boy, so I knew that in the end it wouldn’t really matter, but I also knew a part of me might feel a little sad if I thought about never having a daughter. I was trying not to get my hopes up.

We took Theo along to the second scan, because I’ve been really keen to make him feel involved as much as possible. Unfortunately, being two he isn’t great at sitting still for long, and the 20 weeks scan is quite a long appointment. Sebastian had to take him out of the room about half way through as I didn’t want him to disturb the sonographer. I didn’t think I could see any male parts on the screen, but I’m not an expert and I was trying not to think about it!

With Theo, Seb spotted that he was a boy straight away, before they said anything, and I remember him turning around and I could just see on his face! This time, I was fairly sure there wasn’t anything but I didn’t want to get my hopes up. When she told me it was a girl, I had a few happy tears - it was a shame that my boys weren’t with me.

Seb was hoping for a little girl as well, so I would have liked him to be there. However, we still had a lovely moment when I went outside and told them both. I looked at Theo and said ‘You’re getting a little sister!”. We couldn’t stop smiling, I think we were both in a state of happy shock!


Have you been preparing Theodore to be a big brother?


He’s definitely excited! He has a strong caring side and is always doing things like stroking my bump, talking to the baby and offering her bites of what he’s eating. He talks about her a lot, and it's been one of the most lovely aspects of being pregnant. He has baby cousins that he spends time with every week, so he understands what it means to have a baby around and he’s very good with them.

At the same time, he is only two so I’m preparing myself for a few rocky moments when he realises that the baby isn’t going anywhere and adjusts to being a big brother! Nine months is a long time to wait at that age as well.

We’ve tried to make him feel as included as possible. We will do the trick of getting him a present from the baby, and I’ve also been advised to give him a job to do that is always his, like fetching spare nappies. I’ve been careful with the language used as well, and have always told him ‘we’ are having a new baby as a family. I’d hate for him to feel excluded. The other night in the car on the way home from nursery, he was chatting to me and he said that the four of us are a family and will keep each other safe. I love that and I have been repeating it back to him.

How do you feel about your pregnancy weight gain?


Pretty calm! It can’t really be avoided and you just need to embrace your changing shape - some days you feel great about it and want to show off your bump, and other days you feel more like hiding away in a baggy jumper, and that’s both okay. It's a time when your body image changes a lot, but that hasn’t been a shock the second time. I’m more accepting of the fact I’ll be in my maternity clothes for a while after she arrives!

I’ve found a balance - I’m not dieting, but I don’t consciously eat for two either, as the amount of extra calories you need in a day is lower than most people think! Last time, I actually put on more weight after the baby came - I was sat down breastfeeding most of the day and I boredom ate. I also discovered how hard it is to make good choices about food when you’re sleep deprived.

This time, I’m more aware of the need to make healthier selections after the baby comes to support my body. I’ve been thinking about snacks I can make in advance. Last time, I felt like I knew I was going to try for another baby before too long, whereas this time I’m more conscious that it could be my last, so I want to make sure I get back to normal.

Have you picked a name?


Yes! We aren’t really the type of people to choose before the baby comes, and we only had a shortlist with Theo, so it surprised me that we’ve fixed on something quite early on. We haven’t told people as we won’t be 100% sure until we’ve met her, but I doubt it will change. We wanted something that was traditional but not overused, feminine but not too frilly - and that’s hard!

There were a lot of names I would have chosen if my first baby had been a girl that have since been used by family and friends, or have become extremely popular. In the end, we connected with something neither of us was expecting to. We felt a few personal connections to this name, whereas there were a lot of names for girls that I think are really pretty, but they didn’t quite connect with us. Theo knows the name we have chosen, and that has helped a lot to talk to him about the baby and make it all real. So it would be fairly odd to change it now that he knows!

Are you scared about giving birth again knowing what to expect?


Yes and no - I can’t work out if ignorance is bliss or not. In the end, although there were definitely not so nice moments, overall I had a positive experience with Theo. What I really learned is that you’re braver than you think, and the desire to meet your baby gets you through a lot. Yes, it's painful but it's also incredibly exciting and magical.

Every birth experience is completely different so I feel like I don't know what to expect as it won’t necessarily be anything like last time. I’m more concerned about the recovery afterwards as I have Theo to think about. I was pretty shell shocked last time so I don’t know if that will be easier or not.

What kind of birth would you like?


I’ve decided against having a birthing plan and I’m just going with the flow more this time - you absolutely can’t predict what will happen! Last time I had to be induced as Theo was over two weeks late, so I’m just hoping that this one will be on time. Being induced means a longer hospital stay and a harder birth, so it would be nice to avoid that. I might like to try the birthing pool this time, depending on how the labour progresses. I didn’t do that last time, although I did have a bath during the early stages and I was surprised by just how relaxing that was!

The only thing I have fixed in is that I definitely do not want diamorphine again - it made me feel really out of it (and didn’t help much with the pain anyway!). Luckily, it had long cleared out of my system by the time Theo actually arrived, but I think I would have been disappointed at not feeling ‘present’ at all if he had come during that time.

I definitely wouldn't say no to another epidural if I needed it. It helped me enormously last time and made me feel much more in control. But you can only have one for a small window of the birth so we’ll have to see how it works out.

What are you most looking forward to about being a mum again?


Probably seeing the bond form between Theo and his little sister. I’m an only child so I don’t really understand sibling bonds from the inside, and it will be nice seeing my children have that together. I know already when Theo hugs or kisses my bump it completely melts me.

I have enormously enjoyed watching Sebastian with Theo too and how much he loves him and being a dad, so I’m looking forward to more of that! I know there will be adjustments to be made for all of us, but I’m keen to find our feet quickly and get used to feeling more of an ‘official’ family. I keep half joking that now we have two kids, there’s no way we can pretend we aren’t really adults anymore!

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1 comment

  1. This was such a lovely read! All the best with your second birth my love! Megan x

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