Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Before and After (or I can't believe my stomach was ever that flat!)

6 weeks

24 weeks
32 weeks
38 weeks

Monday, September 15, 2008

The hottest curry imaginable couldn't bring you home

Just under two weeks 'til D-day. Although I know first-timers have a habit of turning up fashionably late for their own party, I am particularly, for reasons obvious, hoping Little G will make an early appearance. 'Any time after Monday works for me,' says Mr Green after consulting his hectic diary. Never have my phone calls been returned so expeditiously. Yesterday my mother-in-law not only called back in seconds, she also left a voicemail and text message asking if I was okay. Every time I call Mr Green at work, interrupting any meeting of importance, he answers on the first ring asking if this is the call, which makes me worry that what we are inadvertently creating is a cry wolf situation. Indeed, being so close to my due date has instigated great attentiveness and brushed up interpersonal skills in those around me in the most unlikely way, e.g. impromptu visits from neighbours' giving me their telephone numbers to call 'day or night', thus inspiring a sense of community I wish could last beyond September 27th...

Of course there are some silly endeavours you can try to bring about labour -- spicy food (vindaloo anyone?), penetrative sex (yeah right, a handstand on water would be more apt at this stage), raspberry leaf tea (if fruity teas are your thing; they are not mine but who says I won't reach that level of desperation yet) -- none of which are medically acknowledged but might be a lark to try, especially the nipple stimulation! However, I have a feeling it's more a case of when the baby is ready, the mother will slip into gear. So I've been trying to put a Zen face on, but it's tough even fooling myself. No amount of physical preparation these past few weeks has readied me mentally for what is to come, nor would a few more... Which begs the question: is any woman ever truly ready for the sandblast that is motherhood? Didn't think so.

At tea and cakes last week, we ladies-in-waiting were paid a surprise visit from one of the new moms, a Caesar no less, with hubby and pint-sized daughter in tow. Throughout the visit I sat mouth agape, shell-shocked. Babe, needless to say, was a revelation, the tiniest reminder of the biggest miracle of which our bodies are capable. Yet it was mom and dad, fresh from battle but with not so much as a hint of a limp or scar, that held my fascination. I mean, even the bravest face shows some sign of fissure. But perhaps the surge of love and awe still had these two walking around in the beatific daze of junkies despite their not having slept for more than two consecutive hours a night for the past week. Perhaps that early insomnia has less to do with the baby's disruptive needs than his sheer presence in the room as a mini me. It must be disconcerting to see him at last sitting there staring back at you, this moving breathing incarnation of the love between mommy and daddy. I doubt I will be able to take my eyes off of him for the first few days and wonder how many wails and dirty diapers it will take before the beguiling novelty of his existence dims somewhat. Maybe that is the glory and the tyranny of parenthood -- that it never does. I hope it never does, anyway.

Now that my own turn is coming up (pointless musing, Cher-style, on the merits of turning back time) anxiety is well and truly bottling up the bottleneck. How is it humanly possible to giddily anticipate an event that at the same time scares the living bejesus out of you, that evokes a witless, out-of-your-skin fear? After nearly 40 weeks of playing host to this faceless miniature, I am dying to meet him but equally petrified about the prospect of the next 40 years! What will he make of me? What will I make of him for that matter? How will our little dance carry on outside the womb, when I cannot wilfully pull the wool over his eyes, convincing him that I am cucumber-cool when on the inside I am a floundering wreck? Do not kid yourself: newborns may look puny and underdeveloped yet this belies the fact that they are sophisticated creatures with an emotional intelligence hardwired like a lie detector. It's been said that babies can sense stress just as a bear can smell fear, and react accordingly, usually mirroring the very state you are trying desperately to conceal from them. A vicious circle which no doubt leads to even greater stress, even greater anxiety. You may fool some people sometimes, it seems. But there is no fooling baby who, by the time he has packed his bags and left Hotel Womb, knows you better than you know yourself. Let's just hope he can find it in his teeny-weensy heart to cut mommy and daddy some slack as they learn the ropes. The ride promises to be rough in the first, but isn't that always the way before you reach calmer seas...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Belly Dancer (37 weeks)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Locked and loaded

Apologies for keeping you in suspense. The follow-up scan went fabulously well. While both Mr Green and I were keen to see our little man on screen again, we honestly weren't expecting any change with regard to the placenta situation. And despite the fact that we told ourselves it didn't matter either way, we were pleasantly surprised to find that not only had my placenta risen of its own accord at this late stage but Little Green himself had completely turned around in the womb (i.e. he's now head down, in prime position as it were). Which means a natural, vaginal birth is now an option for us. Hurrah! Of course there is still the possibility of a complication that would require forceps or a Caesarean, so we'll take it as it comes. I quite fancy the idea of giving birth in a pool (supposedly minimises pain and tearing), but I know better than to set my sights on that, or on anything as far as labour is concerned!

In fact, after so many antenatal classes, I'm a bit tired of dissecting and analysing what is supposed to be a primitive experience. While it is good to be informed about procedures, it's possible that in doing so we've 'belaboured' the whole experience to the point that many of us expectants are now terrified by all that can, and probably won't, go wrong. Yet in the same breath we are told to stay calm because anxiety is the enemy in labour. Sometimes in the face of a scary situation too much forethought can actually be a curse. Sometimes ignorance (or some degree of ignorance at least) truly is blissful. So here I am, a sitting duck with only a fortnight to go, and I'm trying to set aside all these pseudo-facts about labour and its aftermath lest I become paralysed with fear.

It's funny that labour, which lasts for anywhere between a few hours or days, gets so much press time whilst the business of looking after a new life in the weeks and years that follow scarcely gets a mention. Indeed, I've often thought intensive parenting courses should be on offer, and maybe in the advent of recent TV programmes like Supernanny, broadcasters have sensed this anomaly and responded accordingly. I may have an inkling about how to have a 'good' labour, but as for how to be a good mother I haven't a clue. However, I do suspect from what I've observed over the years that being a good mother isn't necessarily as instinctive as we're led to believe. For example, I know virtually nothing about a baby's development, be it physical, emotional and psychological, and frankly that's a bit sad given that I am just about to give birth and spend 24/7 with this fascinating and strange tiny being.

To mark our last antenatal class this week, new parents visited with real 'live' babies. Seeing their little bundled bodies and curious faces was a welcome tonic and reminder of why we had been gathering every Tuesday night for umpteen weeks. Not something you would think possible to lose sight of and yet... On the advice of one of the new moms, I will be making a concerted effort to clean less and rest more as my body demands it, especially as my nighttime sleep pattern is increasingly disturbed by Jackson's head engaging in my pelvis and pressing down on my bladder (to the point where I am seriously considering investing in a plastic sheet... Can pregnancy get any less dignified?).

In the spirit of treating myself, I have also booked in for a luxury pedicure and bikini wax -- to see to the bits I can no longer see! The moms-to-be from class are coming over tomorrow to scoff on cakes while we can still do so with impunity. Hopefully we will continue to meet regularly and build new friendships as our lives change in tandem. As a stranger in a strange land, I have often found England less than hospitable, so the commonality and warmth of these women is proving an unexpected delight. Sisterhood is really underrated, especially its value for only children like me... In an ideal world, Mr Green would have more time to spend with mom and burgeoning babe but, as is symptomatic of our sick times, the work-life balance seems to be tipping unevenly at the moment. And even though I know this to be the case for most households, knowing doesn't fill his seat at the table. Is the world moving far too quickly these days, or is it just because I've slowed down that I have noticed?