Donovan Vincent’s Magical Mystery Tour

Surprise! Because he is super awesome, Donovan Vincent decided to make an early appearance on the 15th of May – 12 days early. And here is as much of the story as I can remember ūüôā Be warned – there’s way too much information at some points but somehow during pregnancy I lost what little modesty I had left.

I think I look a lot more serene than I felt.

I think I look a lot more serene than I felt.

On Wednesday 14th I had a pretty normal day apart from feeling some cramping and lower back pain. I had about a week off because we moved house, and we had finally got everything sorted on Sunday 11th, but was due to go back to work for three more days on Friday. I was really not looking forward to that because I was tired all the time, achy and had a real kind of heavy/pressure feeling in my pelvis. I had been feeling pretty ready to have a baby since we had got everything sorted in the new flat, but was very prepared to go overdue. So in preparation, I was bouncing on my yoga ball each evening (also it was super comfy at the time). And although I was tired and feeling kind of shitty, me and Jaime had also been having fairly regular sexy times. I felt very attracted to him so even though it was kind of difficult and awkward we still went for it. So perhaps, that’s what brought it on quicker. I also went for a little walk on Wednesday and felt absolutely knackered by the time I got back, with more pressure in my pelvis than before.

At about 7pm I noticed I was getting some contractions, which hurt. I had been having  lots of Braxton Hicks, but none so far had actually hurt. These felt like mild period pains. In a sort of jokey way I got out my phone with the contraction timer app and started showing Jaime how to use it. We timed contractions through the evening. They were reasonably regularly about 1 minute long, but the intervals were all over the place Р10 minutes, 6 minutes, 8 minutes, 4 minutes, 8 minutes again, etc. So I was convinced this was absolutely not the real thing. It was way too early and although they hurt, I had expected labour contractions to hurt more to be honest, so just told myself it was nothing, false labour at best. But, all through the day I had been pooing way more than usual so a small part of me was thinking that maybe this was actually it.

I had a bath in the evening which felt amazing but didn’t really ease anything. For some bizarre reason I took into my head to shave my legs and armpits, a very rare occurance throughout the rest of my pregnancy. So by the time I got out I felt all smooth and beautiful, which was nice, but I was still contracting.

Jaime was due to work a double shift starting at 7am on Thursday, so at maybe 10pm we went to bed. By this point I was struggling a bit with the pain and would go up on all fours while contracting to help it. We were still timing and they were getting a bit close together – averaging about 5-6 minutes apart – but still not very regular. Poor Jaime was super tired so he rolled over to get some sleep. We were both telling eachother that this was not really it. I tried my best but at this point really couldn’t even try to sleep through the contractions, so I got up and wandered around a bit. I was still firmly convinced that at any time, the contractions would just stop. I bounced on my ball, then spent about an hour on the toilet, timing again. The intervals were still irregular but now much closer together, between 2 and 4 minutes. I now couldn’t walk or stand up through them either, so kept going down on my hands and knees and trying to breathe slowly.

I went back into our room and Jaime rolled over and asked if we should call the midwife. I was really quite tired by this point and¬†still thought it couldn’t possibly be real, so I was reluctant, because I was sure that if we went to hospital everything would suddenly stop and we’d just have to go home again. But I was in fairly consistent levels of pain through each one – now I would say, they were like medium-painful period pains, but the intensity and regularity made them more difficult to deal with. So, I got out my folder and showed Jaime the number to call.

Jaime had to explain what was going on to three different people and I knew he was very tired and finding it difficult to explain properly. He said things like ‘my partner has been having contractions for one minute’ and I was like ‘no no! I’ve been having them for HOURS’. Eventually we got through to the right person at the midwife-led unit we’d planned on going to, and she asked to speak to me. She asked if my water had broken (it hadn’t) and if I had had a show (I hadn’t, although had been having mucusy discharge for a while and could well have been losing it slowly). I was having difficulty talking through the contractions at this point, and the midwife told me that it was up to us whether we wanted to come in yet. I was completely divided and was too tired to make a proper decision, but when she said she would suggest we probably should think about coming in pretty soon, it convinced me that things were probably Starting to Happen. She also said it would be horrible to contract in the car and the later it got the worse it would be.

We had about a half hour drive, so we took our time getting all our things ready and left just before 3am. Jaime had to call his boss and the girl on the night shift who he was supposed to take over from, to let them know he probably wasn’t going to be coming in. I had to climb down 2 flights of stairs from our flat, which was horrible, then just as the midwife promised, the contractions were awful while we drove. Neither of us were entirely sure where we were going (protip: DON’T leave a practise drive to the hospital to the last minute…) and I had to keep grabbing onto things. Jaime was also very tired and struggling to drive.

We eventually got there, had a brief moment of confusion trying to figure out where we were meant to go, until we just wandered through into the A&E department to ask there. They pointed us in the right direction and asked if I wanted a chair – I really didn’t, because aside from the pain during the contractions (and being super exhausted), I felt pretty much fine.

As I was low-risk, we were going to a midwife-led unit which was part of the hospital. The midwife I had spoken to on the phone showed us to the room, asked some questions and took my maternity notes. She started to explain how things would work – basically we had a lovely private room with our own bathroom, a nice adjustable bed, sink, water jug etc. There was a kitchen just down the hall where we could make tea/coffee and get snacks. She said we could feel free to walk around or do whatever felt comfortable and they would check on us. The first midwife then had to go help another woman, and about half an hour later my new midwife, who I think was called Rachel, came and introduced herself, took a pee sample, did a blood pressure check etc.

She asked me if I wanted a cervical check now or later – she said I was free to settle in a bit if I preferred, but I said I’d rather get checked now to see if this was really happening. Rachel said that it was hard for her to tell how things were going, as I seemed to be coping well – so either I wasn’t that far along/wasn’t actually in labour, or I just had a high pain threshold. ¬†Just before 5am, I got my first check – my cervix was fully effaced, and I was 3cm dilated. Success! Up until then I had been feeling kind of dazed and a bit rubbish, because I honestly STILL thought it was all going to stop any second. When I heard that I felt like everything was going good and the pain started to be easier to deal with – it felt more ‘productive’. I texted my mum saying ‘It’s go time’, we put my lovely Spotify playlist on my Kindle, and Rachel left us to do what we liked after bringing me a ball to bounce on.

She also went through pain relief options with me – they had TENS machines available, rooms with birthing pools, gas and air, and pethidine. She asked me if I might want any, and at that point I really didn’t feel like I needed much, so refused. I didn’t have a birth plan but had thought I would prefer not to have meds if at all possible since I don’t like injections and prefer to feel more in control of myself.

The next couple of hours passed very oddly. I was really tired and a bit shaky. I tried to eat, but had ¬†a bite of cereal bar and then felt horribly sick. I was bleeding a bit from the check but nothing too bad, and my waters hadn’t broken. The contractions were steadily worse – I found the best positions to cope with them was either sitting on the edge of the bed, leaning fully on Jaime or grabbing his hands tightly, or sitting on the ball and either leaning over to grab the side of the bed, or grabbing Jaime’s hands. Jaime said later he could tell they were getting worse because his hands were getting progressively more sore!

Rachel came in several times to check Donny’s heartbeat with a doppler and check on how we were both doing. At around 6am Jaime managed to catch a nap in the chair. I was really getting tired now and was still shivery. I always tend to feel cold/shaky when I get overtired, and I would have liked to eat something but still felt too sick. I was drinking lots of water though.

At 7am the shifts changed and my new midwife was called Helen. She was super amazing and ended up being the midwife to deliver Donny. Again she checked on us plenty, kept offering pain relief but I still felt like I was doing OK without any. Around this time was when the contractions got pretty bad to the point where I had started saying ‘ahhhhhh’ through them (before this I had been just breathing and sometimes saying ‘come on, come on’. Though I’m not sure if I was talking to myself or to the baby). Both Helen and Rachel commented several times that I seemed very calm and was coping well so that was really nice to hear.

I could hear one of the other women was having a real struggle in a room down the hall – I’m not sure how far she was, but I could hear lots of yelling and crying and it made me feel super bad for her, and also lucky that I didn’t feel as bad as that! Something that helped me was just remembering that each contraction was another one I wouldn’t ever have to do again, and was also one more step closer to having my baby, and those thoughts really helped. In fact quite often I found myself just sort of grinning as the contraction faded. Which probably made me look a bit hysterical.

Just before 9am I was checked again to see how we were progressing. This time I was 7cm! Helen asked if I wanted any pain relief, and I decided it might be good to get in the pool, so she went off to get it ready for me. These contractions were pretty painful now but I still felt pretty good about everything, especially because I seemed to be progressing really well – pretty much exactly as expected, about 1cm every hour. We stayed in the room for another hour and by this point I was really grabbing onto Jaime’s hands, and at about 10am Helen came back to take us into the other room. She suggested I peed first.

We all went (fairly slowly) down the corridor with me still contracting every now and again. Helen asked if I wanted to keep my bra on, I actually wasn’t wearing a bra and by then was completely past caring, although to be honest I hadn’t cared that much in the first place, her fingers had been in my vagina, after all. Another midwife called Lucy was helping me into the pool. IT WAS AWESOME. So warm. Helen suggested I tie my hair back but I was kind of confused and hurting so Jaime tried to do it for me. Jaime is apparently not good at tying back hair, so Helen did it instead.

The pool had steps to sit on or lean against and two great handles on one side that you could grab. I floated about on my back for one or two contractions then flipped over onto my hands and knees, leaning against the side. Helen explained they had to keep the water at at least 37 degrees (internal body temperature) if I wanted to deliver in the pool, because the cold stimulates a baby to breathe and you don’t really want a baby trying to breathe in water. Or, if I wanted, I could just labour in the pool and get out for the actual birth. I wasn’t too sure right now but all I knew was that the water was awesome and if I had my way I’d never get out ever.

Jaime got given a sieve to fish the ‘bits’ out, I was bleeding a bit from the checks and there were some chunky bits. Then Helen again left us to it, so for the next half hour or so I contracted until I felt like I really had to poo. I didn’t want to push yet but couldn’t really help doing a little one, and I felt a really obvious ‘pop’, like I had inflated a water balloon with my vagina. Jaime said there was a gush of yellowish stuff and he said ‘I think your water broke’ and I was like ‘yes, yes it did’.

I don’t know if Jaime called her in or she just happened to come in at that point but Helen was there and asking me if I felt pressure and the urge to push, which I did. She said to go for it with the next contractions, so I did. She was monitoring Donny’s heartbeat with a doppler all the way through, and I barely had to move, so that was nice.

Pushing was pretty difficult. It definitely felt like I was going to poo everywhere (although apparently I didn’t! I’m not sure there was any more poo left), and after a few goes I felt it all ‘stretching’ down there which was a new and fun kind of pain added on to the contraction pain. All the way through though I remember thinking ‘is this it? I can handle this.’ Helen had asked if I wanted gas and air while in the pool but I refused because my stomach still felt unsettled and I was worried it might make me sick. Plus, I still felt pretty OK about this level of pain. The pauses between contractions felt like heaven, so there was that to look forward to.

I felt his head descending which was weird and Jaime went to have a look. I remember someone saying ‘look at his hair!’ Helen kept accidentally calling me Lucy because of the other midwife, and also her daughter was called Lucy, which I thought was sweet. I hadn’t taken any antenatal classes so I had been worried I would have no idea how to push right, but it really was quite instinctive. I was thankful I had read about how it really did feel like you need to poo and you should push in the same way, otherwise I probably would have done something different.

The last few pushes kind of sucked. I had been trying to be careful with my pushes and not push past the end of the contraction, and sort of let him go back in if he needed to, since I really did not want to tear. With one, I could feel his head was¬†right there, then on the next one it suddenly seemed to get sucked back in. That was kind of hard to deal with since I thought I would have to start over. But on the next push, at 11:13am, his head came out ūüôā The rest of him didn’t quite follow though, so he was there, half-in half-out, wriggling around. That felt WEIRD. I had to wait a few minutes for the next contraction so I could push the rest of him out. I had sort of expected him to just slide out after his head was out, but he didn’t, it still needed a good push, but the stinging feeling had almost all gone and it was just the pressure-type pain of the contraction. And also by that point I think I was forgetting the pain.

They got me to turn around and Helen pulled him up out of the water. He cried instantly, and was a pale blueish pinkish colour at first. The midwives helped me lift my leg over him and the cord and then put him on my chest. Jaime says I said ‘hello!’ and he couldn’t believe how much love was in my voice – he said it was like meeting someone you’d known for years but hadn’t seen in ages.

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The midwives wrapped him in a towel and helped me support him on my chest, making sure his head was above the water. Jaime took a couple photos of us, then Lucy took some pictures of all three of us. I said ‘he’s definitely a Donny’ because we hadn’t been sure about his name and didn’t want to make a firm decision until he was born. Helen let the cord pulse because I’d chosen to deliver the placenta naturally without an injection (I hate needles, they’re horrid). Then Jaime cut it, and I passed Donny to him so I could get out of the pool and go deliver the placenta.

Jaime got to sit down and take off his shirt and get some skin to skin, while I lay there attractively bleeding and looking over at them and almost crying. Helen pushed on my stomach a bit to help the placenta get going – I’m not sure how long it took since my sense of time was right out the window, but after a contraction and a nice slimy push it all came out at once. Helen asked if we wanted to look, and weirdly we did, and she showed us all the bits. It was kind of cool. Jaime passed Donny back to me so he could lay on my chest and be cute some more. He had a vitamin K shot in his thigh while I tried to distract him with boob (this did not work and he yelled, but not for long). Helen left us alone again for a little bit, so¬†we texted everybody to tell them and sent out a few pictures. Then she came back to weigh him – 6lbs 6oz, or 2.9kg, which was pretty much what the last ultrasound had estimated his weight at. Small, but for almost 2 weeks early, not that small. She also checked me to see if I would need any stitches – I didn’t, in her words I had a few ‘grazes’ but other than that had a ‘textbook’ birth. She said I had been very ‘controlled’ with my pushing, which was super nice.

20140515_113747After that everything just seemed really slow and relaxing. I was suddenly STARVING so Jaime went to the other room to get our bags with the snacks in them. I ate a pack of crisps and a cereal bar and we put a nappy on Donny, and got his snuggly dinosaur blanket we’d brought from home. Helen said whenever we were ready we could get dressed and get back to the other room so I could shower and sort myself out a bit. It didn’t take us long – I lay back for a bit and tried to remember that it was real, then Jaime helped me get dressed and we put Donny in the little Perspex crib and wheeled him over to the first room.

I wanted a shower basically straight away and also realised I really needed a wee. Peeing HURT, even when I poured a cup of water over myself, but I had to pee so bad I didn’t care very much. The shower was awesome and I came back out feeling much more human. Helen came through and brought me some lunch – sandwich, yoghurts, apple, pack of dried fruit, bag of crisps and ice cream, and then made me a cup of tea. Jaime went down to the canteen to buy himself a salad and a sandwich. I pretty much inhaled my food, and me and Donny sat in the chair and tried to get the hang of breastfeeding.

Helen finished her shift and we thanked her profusely, she wished us luck, and then introduced a new midwife whose name I can’t remember. She was kind of old-school and kept calling me Mummy as if it was my name, but really only when she wanted to tell me off – e.g. ‘Keep him wrapped up Mummy!’ when it was about a million degrees in there and he had a blanket on anyway.¬†She¬†asked me if I wanted to stay the night and I said I hadn’t really planned on it, so they said that was OK but they would need to see him latch and feed, and also wait until he pooped before we could go. We managed to get him interested enough in feeding and another midwife came to help me get him latched on. It didn’t take too long, he needed a bit of encouragement, but it wasn’t too difficult. The midwife commented that I seemed very laid-back about it, not entirely sure she thought that was a good thing though.

At about 7pm he finally passed his meconium plug and did his first poo. The midwife had been bringing us paperwork and filling stuff out so we were pretty much ready. She gave us what felt like a ‘quiz’ about what we knew about babies and what we planned to do with feeding, sleeping, dummies, etc. We got given a leaflet about SIDS which, summed up, suggested that sharing a bed with your baby is pretty much guaranteeing their death. I also got a few leaflets about postnatal exercises, breastfeeding groups and support, and some family planning numbers for the area.

We took him home at about 8pm the same day. I felt AWESOME, sure I was sore and walking was kind of hard, but I was really ridiculously happy holding my son.

 

Image

everything is fine

everything is fine

…and we got more face pictures, and got to watch him yawn, and got another confirmation he’s a boy. very, very definitely a boy.

 

also is it just me, or does he look really, really super comfortable in there? That face just says ‘yeah, I’m never coming out thanks’ to me.

smallness, paranoia, cake

I was not being antisocial, I was checking the tide times to make sure we did not get stuck and have to live in a cave or be eaten by selkies.

I was not being antisocial, I was checking the tide times to make sure we did not get stuck and have to live in a cave or be eaten by selkies.

I have tended towards the small side during my pregnancy. Obviously, as I wasn’t even aware anything was different until fairly recently. However I did think that over the past couple of weeks I have got noticeably ¬†bigger. I now have a defined roundness that screams ‘baby!’ rather than ‘fatty!’ At least I think so.

On Tuesday I had my 32 week appointment. My fundal measurement was apparently only 2cm more than last time – I’m measuring 29cm when I should be at least 30, usually between 30-34. I also had traces of protein in my urine, so had to send off a sample and be scheduled in for another scan. I’m not complaining about this because it is fun to see our little ghostfishbaby being all weird in there, and he’s much more active lately so there’ll probably be a lot to see. But it is one of those ‘very slightly’ worrying things where it’s most likely nothing at all, there’s just this ever so tiny chance that something is catastrophically wrong.

 

Also on Tuesday we went to the beach, and looking at the photos I was bemused to realise my belly did not actually look as big as it does to me.

I miss that curve in my back.

I miss that curve in my back.

For comparison, here is a bump selfie I took at 21 weeks. I’ve grown, but maybe not that much.

I’m spending this afternoon eating pringles, hummus and cake. I haven’t bothered to weigh myself in a long time so I will just assume I am about 50 stone and therefore beyond help.

As a side note I am extremely pleased that my midwife has chosen not to weigh me at any of our appointments. I think I was weighed at the very beginning of the year and since then have not been forced to confront the scales. This is good.

My boss told me I should schedule myself for a C-section now. All I can think of is the story my A level Law teacher told us about the Caesarean birth of her daughter. She told us she was quite out of it from painkillers and then the anaesthetic and it felt like someone had reached inside her and was doing the washing up. This sounds far too surreal to me. I have enough worries with my ridiculous pregnancy dreams. I really hope the baby will not be born via osmosis through the wall of my stomach and then be attached to an umbilical cord growing out of my own bellybutton forever.

feelings of inadequacy and terror

I am a worrier. I always have been. As a child I would get stomach aches from so much worry. If at any point I am not worried, I start worrying that there’s something I have forgotten to be worried about.

I don't think we've ever made a heart with our hands on my belly. Probably means we don't love him enough.

I don’t think we’ve ever made a heart with our hands on my belly. Probably means we don’t love him enough and he’ll be born with a goat’s¬†head.

Pregnancy has multiplied this by about ten thousand. I am worried that I will not be ready with all the things before the baby comes. I am worried about health problems, and also about being one of those parents who always thinks there’s something wrong when there isn’t. I am worried about premature birth, c-sections, episiotomies and drugs. I am worried ¬†I won’t love my baby enough. I am worried i will love him too much and neglect Boyfriend. I am worried about not working for 9 months and going even more insane. I am worried that I will somehow not be paid maternity allowance and that we will all have to live on toothpaste and carpet lint. I am worried that we won’t find a new ¬†place on time, or that the flat I have found and like will be too expensive ¬†for us. I am worried ¬†that I am not responsible enough to handle a baby and will forget basic things like which way up they go. I am worried that I’m not doing enough to prepare, but I am worried about doing too much ¬†in case I jinx myself. I am worried I don’t work hard enough now, that I’m lazy and that other people will look down on me for being lazy. I am worried that how tired and overwhelmed I feel right now is not normal and that I am just being overdramatic, and should ¬†just shut up about it.

It is enough to make me want to go to bed and not come out again for about 18 years. By that time the baby will be grown up (somehow) and I would have at least one less thing to worry about.

How can this NOT make you cry?

How can this NOT¬†bring you to tears? HE MADE HER SHEPHERD’S PIE, BECAUSE IT’S ALL HE CAN DO.

But, I can’t do that. I have to get up most days like a normal person and go to work or make phone calls or Organise My Life without having a nervous breakdown. And all I can do is keep reminding myself that I am at least fairly capable and do a lot more than many people, although not as much as some but that’s inevitable. I remind myself that in my second trimester I held down two stressful jobs and worked ridiculous hours. I tell myself that no matter how impossible it seems, we do have enough money for a nice house and enough food and a certain number of nice things. I try to think about the fact that for every day I’ve spent crying into jugs of Angel Delight about sad adverts, I’ve probably spent at least five being a competent and contributing member of society.

It doesn’t make the terror go away. Sometimes only lying face down and crying it out does that. But that’s OK. I’m learning to express my fears to other people and so offload a small part of the massive tangled knot of anxiety and stress that was once in my stomach, but Bellydweller has pushed up into the middle of my ribcage.

Photo by Stuart Chapman

Upside: can finally pretend to be a smuggler/dinosaur hunter/Indiana Jones without people judging too harshly. Downside: Small person will be with me and I have to remember not to drop him in the sea.

I have ¬†begun making lists of the things that worry me the most, and then opposing lists of the things which offset them. For example – being at home for almost a year, alone, with someone entirely reliant on me for survival, means that I will also have the time to do a whole lot of fun stuff – I can go on trips to the beach, to museums, and parks that I wouldn’t go to alone. Although Boyfriend will be working, we’ll at least get to spend time together on all his days off – no more horrible conflicting work schedules.

I’m thinking about all the adventures we can have in places I haven’t been before, and the things I’ll be able to teach him, and watching him and Boyfriend together. And I think it’ll be OK.

 

 

pregnancy crazies

I cried this morning because I left my Mocha Frappuccino that Boyfriend bought me as a treat in the fridge at work on Saturday, and I just remembered it and I am sure that someone will have taken it by the time I get in this afternoon. I don’t know why I cried about this. I do really really really really want it though. I’m pretty sure if I get there and someone has taken it I might end up crying at work. Good lord.

Book Review – ‘Expecting a Baby?’, Dr Penelope Law

Dr Penelope Law

Kindle version £10.80, illustrated hardcover £12.00

I am a massive reader so as soon as I found out and we’d decided (well… ‘decided’) to keep the baby, I got on ¬† ¬† Amazon and found some books to read. I have also subscribed to various forums and websites for advice, but noticed that a great deal was tailored to a US audience. When it comes to medical advice and information about hospital procedures, this is obviously pretty important, so I needed specific information about what to expect in the UK.

I chose¬†Expecting a Baby? as my first purchase¬†over What to Expect When You’re Expecting,¬†which I know is more famous and is the one I had heard of. When I looked up reviews however, they were definitely mixed and it seemed to me that it wasn’t the sort of book that I would find helpful. I’m the first to admit that I am very headstrong, reasonably scientific minded, but open to new ideas. I’ve never liked being condescended to or told what to do, so I wanted some actual objective information that would let me make up my own mind, and this book was perfect for that.

The book focuses mostly on pregnancy and labour, although there is a section about the immediate aftermath and the first few weeks of newborn care. Dr Law writes with authority, in a way that is caring but without that sickly sweet tone that really gets on my nerves after a while. There’s a lot of really practical suggestions in here, such as good stretches to do while pregnant, diet suggestions, techniques for labour and more. Dr Law also does a great job of comparing different approaches without appearing biased. To my delight, she does not bother to sugar coat the fact that there is no proof at all to certain ‘medicines’ like homeopathy, but (I think) also avoids being insulting about methods she clearly does not support. This, I think, is the most helpful approach – it bothers me that some authors feel the need to use tentative language rather than just coming out and saying that there is no evidence at all for something, and that effectively it’s up to you if you try it but it’s going to do about as much good as taking a load of Smarties, except without the deliciousness and exciting colours.

The book takes you through advantages and disadvantages of the various options you have for your care, like location of birth (home birth, birth centre, hospital ward) and pain relief options, in a really clear and easy to understand way. Although it’s less common in the UK I have seen a lot of books/websites that seemed really really against having a baby anywhere but a hospital, this one is definitely not and gives you the pros and cons in an honest way. It also changed my mind about certain things like water births – I fully admit that not having read much about them, I assumed it was a sort of fad-ish, hippy thing to go for and that I’d feel uncomfortably even bringing up the idea, even though I knew my sister had one with her second child and loved it. After actually reading about them and seeing there was quite a bit of support for the method, beyond the kind of ‘it’s so natural!’ thing, it’s something I’ll actually consider, assuming it’s an option.

There are also some very sensitive chapters on dealing with miscarriage, stillbirth and postnatal depression. I’ll admit I skimmed them because I felt like it wouldn’t do me much good at this point to dwell on any of those topics, but I know they’re there if the unimaginable happens.

I admit I haven’t watched much of¬†One Born Every Minute, but perhaps if you have you’ll like the fact that it’s connected in some way I haven’t quite figured out. It’s got the title on the cover, anyway.

I bought the Kindle edition because I don’t like waiting for post, and I can definitely recommend it, though perhaps only if you have a Kindle Fire rather than the original with an e-ink display. The book hasn’t been reformatted for digital display so what you’re seeing as far as I can tell is direct copies of the pages of the book, complete with little colourful insert boxes and full-page images. These look lovely on my Kindle Fire HD and the touchscreen means it’s not too annoying to zoom in and out or scroll through the pages. I don’t think this would work terribly well on the original though, but perhaps there is a different version of it? I’m not sure.

I’d definitely recommend this as a basic guide to what to expect through pregnancy and while in labour. It’s made a good complement to the advice I’ve had from friends and family, and also the hospital’s video series my midwife recommended.

The pregnancy story

So, first, how I found out I was pregnant, the principle players, etc etc.

I’m 22 and have been working random jobs since graduating in 2012. Around April 2013 I began seeing an old friend from one of my old jobs, Jaime. It got serious pretty quick. In the summer, I moved back to be closer to my family – around 3 hours away from the city I’d lived in for 4 years and where Jaime lived. It sucked big time. I had a horrible job and didn’t know anybody.

In August, I moved back and started working for the Youth Hostel Association, and living with Jaime and our housemate Susan. We’ve had a crazy couple of months as I needed to get another job just so I was making enough. I’ve been taking the contraceptive pill since I was 15, so pregnancy worries were quite far from my mind. Even so, when I missed a period in September I took a pregnancy test about 10 days after I’d expected it. Negative. OK, no worries – I was stressed, not eating great and it’s only to be expected, right?

Through all of November and December, I didn’t have a single day off. So I was pretty exhausted, and you know, not really thinking about much except working all the time. Like normal, I ran a couple of pill packs together. I felt myself getting a bit bloated, but then, I’d been eating McDonalds more than usual since it was the only place open when I was starving after work, and on most days I didn’t feel like cooking myself anything particularly nutritious. I had a couple of dizzy spells, but like everyone else, thought I was just knackered (which I was). I got into the habit of napping during the day, but hey, if you work from 7.30am almost every morning and only get a few hours break before having to go back until 10pm, you’re probably going to want to nap!

I missed another period in December, and finally started thinking maybe something was a little weird. My normally nearly-concave stomach was getting round and weirdly hard. I poked it a lot. My real overwhelming fear was some kind of tumour. I tried not to think about it too much.

On the day before New Year’s Eve I darted into Superdrug and bought a Clearblue test. Jaime was at work. The vertical line meaning ‘positive’ was very dark. I think I said ‘fuck’ mostly, then called my mum.

A few hours later I went to Jaime’s work and told him. We had a confused conversation because we hardly knew any details. We discussed all our options. Jaime for some reason kept smiling while I felt alternately like crying and screaming. I had my last cigarette then, although abortion was still on the table at that point as we had no idea how far along I was.

After I’d worked my shift (a little bit like a zombie), we went home and talked some more. We thought seriously about keeping the baby. I knew my mum’s honest advice would be not to, although because she is fantastic, she’ll always let me make my own decision. There was a great big logical part of me saying I could not possibly do this, I am irresponsible and often have Skittles for dinner. But another bit thought how it would be pretty great, how Jaime was a great partner, and if we put our minds to it we could be pretty good parents.

The next day I made an appointment with my doctor. I’d expected to have to take another test, but instead, she lay me down and felt around my belly, straight away saying she could feel pregnancy. She told me she would estimate 20 weeks, and if that was right, a termination was not an option. She called the Early Pregnancy Unit to try and schedule a scan to confirm. Later, I got a call saying I was too far for the Early Pregnancy Unit, and instead I’d been referred to the midwifery unit at the hospital.

The midwife I saw agreed with the 20 week estimate. I heard the heartbeat for the first time on the 2nd of January, three days after I found out I was pregnant at all. Then, about a week later, I was scheduled for an ultrasound (the midwife had marked it ‘urgent’…)

On the 11th of January I had my 20 week scan, skipping the normal 12 week one. This confirmed that I was 20 weeks 4 days pregnant. The baby actually looked like a baby, not a peanut. It was also a boy baby, with a spine and a face and everything. Before the ultrasound I’d been told to drink 2 pints of water and hold it, so by the time I was sitting in the waiting room I was really, really needing to pee. The ultrasound technician let me go after seeing my ‘very full bladder’. I pretty much ran. Then we got right back into it.

Ultrasound 2                         Ultrasound 1

This was really the point it became real for me. We’re going to have a baby boy. My due date is the day before my birthday. It’s all real and happening in a few months, which is pretty crazy.