Summer, Haptonomy and Baby Velociraptors.

Back when I thought I’d one day have my life together we decided we wanted kids, we thought long and hard about The Right Time to start. We took into account the season of birth (winter’s harder on a baby’s fragile immune system), down to the month (if I decided to continue my studies, between March and July would be ideal to avoid repeating a year), as well as such factors as one of us having a job (he did, it looked promising, they let him go for getting ill too often) and being in the right place, geographically speaking (we wanted to move from our boring little town to a nice, small city close by). And psychologically of course – neither of us are strangers to depression and anxiety.

Having considered all these important factors, when my boyfriend got the aforementioned promising job in January, we decided we’d start trying for a baby around June.

I got pregnant the next month.

I guess this is what I get for trying to control my already irregular menstrual cycle / life. In fact, if I’d been happy in my studies, my feelings about this pregnancy may have been more mixed. Luckily I wasn’t, so having an excuse to quit before I finished the year was an unexpected bonus.

Another bonus is that now it is July, and in some parallel universe I am bitterly regretting thinking that I’d ever survive my first trimester (which was horrible) in this heat. That universe is not this one and for that I am eternally grateful to my little bundle of joy for coming several months earlier than planned. As it is, I’m still getting acid reflux, my appetite is as capricious as ever, and I’m discovering the joy of swollen feet. I can feel the skin of my abdomen stretching too, and I’m getting what I think might be round ligament pain – basically it feels like small cramps like those you get after a work-out in my lower abdominals, which don’t go away easily. I still get occasional nausea, though I haven’t thrown up in weeks. All of which is pretty banal in comparison to the horrors of a few months ago.

I’m feeling her move several times a day now, and often at night. Most of the time it’s pleasant; sometimes she likes to lie across the bottom of my womb and scrape against my cervix with her spine, which feels exactly the way you’d expect nails across chalkboard to feel if your cervix was the chalkboard. When she gets tired of that, she flips over and uses my bladder and intestines as a punching bag, which is also as comfortable as it sounds, especially when they’re full (which they almost always are, given how little space they now have). I’m five months in and trying not to think about how all this will feel when she’s actually full baby size.

Luckily there’s a remedy for this; I just have to either get up and walk, or sit up and rock from side to side. She only moves when I’m lying or sitting still (-ish), so this is fail-safe – for now.

One awesome thing we’ve started recently which I must recommend to all future parents, although unfortunately you need a partner (single mums, ask a relative or best friend?): haptonomy. You can google it, but basically it’s a means of communicating and interacting with your baby before she’s born, for both parents. Our haptonomist is a certified physical therapist, which in this country means we get part of the cost reimbursed by social security, and they can replace a classic birth prep class. We had our first appointment last week, and it was great. She was lying sideways across my cervix again, and we managed to get her to move further up. My boyfriend’s been very good about doing the exercises every day since then, because they relax my sore abdominals like nothing else, and the more relaxed I am, the milder my symptoms get. I think I’m also getting some kind of endorphin / oxytocin high out of it because every time we do the exercises I feel really close to the baby and also to my boyfriend. I can’t wait for the next appointment.

So that’s the pregnancy update. We’ve just got back from staying with my mother-in-law for a few days, which was nice – she lives 30 minutes away from the coast, so we spent Friday at the beach and my boyfriend got sunburn because he wheedled his way out of letting me put sunscreen on him. I didn’t insist because now I have a story to shame him into submission with next time we’re out in the sun and he refuses to wear it. He’s even asked me to remind him of this incident if ever he’s that stupid again. 😀

Aaand today on the way back we stopped by the house of a couple of friends. I hadn’t yet met these friends, and it had been so long since my boyfriend had last seen them that he hadn’t yet met his now two-year-old daughter. My first impressions were as follows:

1) I was expecting the guy to be bearded and tattoo’d, like most of my boyfriend’s friends. These guys look almost… ordinary?
2) D’aww, lookit teh wee gerl with her blonde curls and her big blue eyes – JESUS CHRIST she sounds exactly like a velociraptor, that’s two-tone screaming right there!
3) What’s wrong with her?? Oh, she’s just screaming for kicks. Fair enough.
4) WAT FIVE BOXES OF BABY CLOTHES AND TOYS I – I – I- THANK YOU – I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY…

They’d have let us have all the clothes and toys for free, too, if we’d let them, but we didn’t because some had barely been used and were worth quite a lot. The mother of the adorable baby velociraptor (who really was screaming just for kicks, not for attention or anything, just to hear the sound of her own voice) also saw fit to warn me about certain things they don’t tell new mums. For instance, one in three babies have a belly button that sticks out, sometimes quite impressively, but as long as you can push it back in, it’s ok. If you can’t, it’s a medical emergency. Also, the symptoms of colic are almost identical to those of your baby’s intestines getting tangled up in a knot, which is also a medical emergency. The only difference (which she had to look up on the Internet) is that a colicky baby can be put to sleep (eventually) for more than fifteen minutes, whereas a baby with its intestines tangled up might fall asleep or stop crying, but never for very long. You’d think they’d tell us this stuff, but she only found out when she took her child to A&E after a particularly sleepless night, when her cries were louder and more persistent than usual. (Note that the baby was just constipated, but they did an ultrasound on her just in case.)

So the lesson for today is that you can never be too paranoid when it comes to babies and their intestines.

Join me next episode, when I teach you how to avoid childbirth horror stories…

(Hint: ask them if they’re trying to scare you on purpose or are they just tactless)

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