I’ve been told by many that once my baby is born, I’ll forget about what it’s like to be pregnant. So I thought that I should write a few things down.
I actually love being pregnant. I love that there’s a baby growing inside me. I love it when people want to touch my belly. I love that I feel an instant connection to other pregnant women or mums with young children.
I think I’ve been incredibly lucky. I would say that I’ve had a smooth pregnancy. Morning sickness was minimal by week 15 and apart from a month or two of sciatica (when the baby’s head was leaning on the left of my spine), I’ve been fine. Heartburn came and went a little, but it was super funny when hubby got it too. An occasional night-time leg cramp was painful, but has been much better since I’ve been doing a bit more yoga.
As I write this I can feel dragon baby doing his/her ‘yoga moves’ – stretches, not punches, that rock my whole belly. It’s such a cool feeling. I love the stretchy movements. Dragon baby stretches a limb out and then slowly retracts it, just like you’d do with a big yawn.
I also love rubbing my belly. I subconsciously do clockwise circles around and around my belly button. This started a few months ago when my skin was stretching and felt itchy all the time. Now, I can feel our baby and I know where he/she is now. I feel kicks on my right-hand-side, just below my rib cage. I feel smaller hand movements on my right-hand-side in the middle.
My belly feels heavy now, and always stretched. In the past, it only felt stretched when dragon baby was going through what I felt was a ‘growth spurt’. That’s what it felt like anyway. I’d feel stretched one day, and I felt I looked much bigger the next day! But, I now almost feel the need to carry my belly. My hand instinctively heads towards the base of my belly and supports dragon baby. It feels good.
My belly button is yet to pop. It’s much more closed over than it was, but is yet to pop out.
The over-whelming response to my belly here in Australia is “you don’t look like 38 weeks”, so I guess I’m not that big. I feel big though. My belly sticks out, like a fake belly. I haven’t really gone outwards to the side much. I’ve chunked up in the thigh and butt department, and my boobs have looked like my grandma’s boobs (she was always well-endowed and kept things in her cleavage for safe-keeping) for months now. The reassuring thing is that whenever a midwife sees me, they say ‘not long now’, which makes me feel better! These midwives all know something the rest of us don’t!
My prenatal care has been all over the place since it started at one hospital in Beijing, then switched to another, and now I’ve come back to Australia. So, aside from wonderful advice from my Beijing friends, most of my pregnancy and birthing knowledge has come from books. The two books which I have most enjoyed reading have been:
Ina May’s Complete Guide to Childbirth (by Inna May Gaskin)
Natural Childbirth – The Bradley Way (by Susan McCutcheon)
Ina May has two books. I struggled with her first one, as I found it a bit ‘hippy‘. I really enjoyed this one though. It discussed a lot of the unnecessary procedures that are performed during labour in hospitals, particularly in America. Reading this book really helped me to work through a birth plan, based on Ember’s birth plan. My only criticism of Ina’s writing was her occasional negative attitude towards men. I cringed in a few places where I thought there was unnecessary ‘putting in a box’-ing of males, especially when I want Zac to be an integral part of our child’s birth.
I really connected with the Bradley book. The focus is really on you and your partner, and the midwife/doctor as an assistant to the whole process to guide you or step in if there’s a problem. It also breaks down the labour process into steps that seem easy to understand and it takes away a lot of the clinical aspects. I only wish I’d read this earlier so we could have started on some of the relaxation exercises and techniques earlier on.
After my first appointment at the Women’s and Children’s hospital here in Adelaide, I felt quite relieved as the midwife I spoke to was very encouraging of natural birthing and seemed very open to birthing options, such as water birthing. So, I look forward to seeing them work with Zac and I. I had a subsequent appointment today and I am continually overwhelmed at how friendly and helpful everyone is.
I’m going to miss my bump. It’s something that I rub, stroke and pat. It’s such a part of my body. I can’t imagine it not being there. It’s also such a handy table for balancing plates and cups on! As much as it’s now a strain to get in and out of chairs, pick up things off the floor and put on my tights, it really is a part of me and I just can’t imagine it gone.