A pregnant woman’s vow

A pregnant woman's vow

As you may have heard, I am currently a very pregnant woman. Do I go on about it too much?

I am a very pregnant woman!Baby is due in November, which means I’m eight months pregnant right now. That means it’s fairly obvious and I really can’t hide it any more!

And apparently that means that everyone who so much as catches a glimpse of me gets to have an opinion about my life.

From talking to pregnant and previously pregnant friends, it seems like this happens to everyone. But why? It makes no sense!

So, I hereby vow the following.

My vows to all future pregnant women

I will not comment on a pregnant woman’s size.

Yes, I know I’m measuring a bit small. My husband is short and I am too – did you think we were going to create a giant Amazon baby? It doesn’t mean that I have my dates wrong, or that there’s anything wrong with my baby. If there were, the person to tell me would be my midwife, doctor or the scan technician. Not Jane in HR.

But pregnant women are often big balls of worry to start off with, so when you put the idea in my head that there might be something wrong with my baby, I will worry until my next midwife appointment. Which could be three weeks away. Thanks.

Also, I’ve lost weight because I was pretty sick at the start of pregnancy. That’s not too pleasant of a memory, and no one wants to hear about it. But if you keep on asking, I’ll tell you all the details. (When I had a UTI and discovered I couldn’t swallow my amoxicillin pills, that was fun!)

Alternatively, I hear other women also hate the comments about “You must be ready to pop! Are you sure it’s not twins?”

And I absolutely hate the comments that compare me to other pregnant women. “You’re so tiny – it looks great. Not at all like Mary, she’s huge! Have you seen her?” What exactly am I meant to say to that? “Oh, sucks to be Mary”? Also, she’s not huge. She’s pregnant and looks amazing.

How about we just don’t comment on people’s weight, okay? That’s a good rule for most of the time, to be honest.

I will not criticise what a pregnant woman is eating or drinking.

You want to go to McDonald’s? Go for it. Coffee? Sometimes you need some caffeine to get you through the day.

This baby allowed me one meal a day for the first three months. It was either a cheese sandwich or a crisp sandwich. On white bread. Sometimes I had an ice lolly afterwards. I lost a lot of weight.

You know what? My midwife didn’t worry! She said as long as I was keeping water or juice down and was eating something, just to have what I fancied. Take pregnancy vitamins, she added, and baby is a very efficient little parasite. It’ll get what it needs.

Well, it must have done, because I’m currently sitting here at eight months pregnant with a little dance party going on in my belly. I’ve eaten pizza, gone to McDonald’s, had caffeine, and it doesn’t seem to have affected my efficient little parasite!

Also, you really don’t always know the full story. Did you hear about the pregnancy judgement I got recently?

I will not tell a pregnant woman that her perfectly usual symptoms are odd or that there must be something wrong with her.

It’s perfectly normal to be tired a lot. Morning sickness does not have to occur in the morning. Yes, you probably will have a stiff back towards the end. A bit of cramping in the first trimester is often normal (and when they say “a bit”, that can mean “seriously, it feels like my period is about to start any second now”).

Unless someone has specifically come to you to ask if something sounds normal, trust that they know their own body. They’ve probably spoken to their midwife or doctor.

Being told that I shouldn’t feel so awful when I felt like death warmed up in those first 15 weeks or so only made me feel worse. Offer sympathy, not judgement.

On the other hand, also try not to say that you don’t think they have enough symptoms! I might not be vomiting every day for nine months like you did, but I’m still very pregnant. Baby is still growing fine, thanks.

I will not ask “was it planned?”

Do you want to see my temperature charts? Do ya? I have them. They’re on my phone. I can show them to you!

Fertility Friend chart

No? Then why ask? You do realise you are literally asking about my sex life? How’s yours going?

I will not share scary birth stories.

I don’t need to hear that your labour lasted 72 gazillion hours and you still had to have a Caesarean and you hated every second of it and think that I’m mad. It’s even weirder when you know that it was her first child of two, three, four, etc. so clearly she managed it a few more times!

I want to be surrounded by positivity in the run up to my baby’s birth. Yes, there are no guarantees of how well our birth will go, but surely if I’m terrified of the whole process, life is just going to be harder for me. I’m not comfortable with the idea of giving birth (there’s still eight weeks for them to figure out a method to teleport baby out!) but now that baby is in there, baby has to come out somehow. It’s not like I can hear your birth story and decide, well, actually, that sounds pretty horrible and I’ve changed my mind. Let’s just keep baby in forever.

Also, “Just ask for a Caesarean ahead of time! It’s much easier!” No thanks. If I need one then I need one, but I’m not in the habit of requesting major abdominal surgery just for kicks.

I will not tell a pregnant woman that she’ll never sleep again.

You know you die if you just stop sleeping, right? And most people who have children are still alive. So clearly, this is blatantly false.

What you mean is that I’ll have interrupted sleep for a while. Is there any woman on the planet who is old enough to be pregnant who doesn’t know this?

Surely telling women all the bad stuff once they are already pregnant is a bit like cornering a bride at her wedding and telling her, “Well, you know he’ll probably start snoring and leaving his dirty pants on the floor, right?” The decision has been made, baby is on the way, are you trying to get this poor pregnant woman to regret it or feel bad?

I will not judge a pregnant woman’s plans for maternity/parental leave or working after the baby is born.

“I hope you’re taking a whole year off. You know you’re not going to want to come back to work, right?”

Maybe I’ll find it hard, but you know I like paying my mortgage, right?

I am taking a year off, as it happens. Financially it will be tight but we should be okay. But if my husband and I had looked at our finances and made the decision together that we couldn’t swing a year, then that’s some awfully personal information to share with you, random lady from Finance who feels the need to ask me this in the toilets.

In addition, more and more families are now taking Shared Parental Leave. Would you really judge me and my husband if we’d decided to split the leave between us? (We’re not doing that. Firstly, he’s not been at his current job for long enough to qualify, and secondly, I’m only doing this pregnancy thing for the year off!)

I will not say, “Oh, I bet you’re just so happy all the time!”

Antenatal depression is a thing. Anxiety is a thing.

Even without having a mental health diagnosis, pregnancy is a scary time of change. It also lasts for a really long time. Over the course of nearly a year, you’re bound to have a lot of mood fluctuations and no, you may not feel happy and excited every single second. That isn’t a crime.

I will not touch any bumps without asking first.

Whyyyy? Why would you do this? “Oh, I just love pregnant bellies.” Well, I quite like a lot of men’s bottoms, but I don’t go around just touching them, do I? Because that would be weird and inappropriate!

If I know you and we’re close then sure, ask and chances are I’ll be more than happy to point out, “Yes, baby’s feet are here and I’m getting some kicks here, have a feel!” But if I’m all sore and achy (because I’m getting a bit of a battering from the inside out!), please don’t be offended if I say no.

And if you’re a stranger? Just get your hands away from my body!

Just to prove I’m not a grumpy pregnant woman…

There are lots of comments I don’t mind hearing!

“You’re carrying beautifully.”

“I’m so excited for you.”

“It really isn’t as bad as they say it is. Don’t listen to the negative comments.”

“Having children was the best thing we ever did. You’re going to have a great time.”

“It might be tough at times but you are tougher. You’re going to be a good mum.”

Who’s with me? Let’s vow to make things easier for the next wave of pregnant women!

Pregnancy judgement, or a recent trip out

pregnancy judgement

I have an admission to make. Before I got pregnant, I always kind of rolled my eyes when I heard people talking about all of the pregnancy judgement that came their way.

No more. I’m now eight months pregnant and the judgement happens regularly.

I’m not sure why! Maybe I’m just particularly obtuse or don’t care about my fellow humans enough. I cannot imagine making a comment on what someone is doing.

(Okay, maybe once. Another admission: once in early pregnancy when I was feeling awful I nearly told off a woman who was smoking in an enclosed multistorey car park. She wasn’t (visibly) pregnant, but the smell of the smoke made me feel awful and I just saw red. My husband dragged me away before I could say anything. But other than that…)

The other weekend I went to Sainsbury’s to do our weekly food shop. I love this Sainsbury’s by us – it’s got everything we need and is less scarily chaotic than the big Tesco. Once they opened a new till for me when they saw I was pregnant and struggling to stand in the queue for too long. Also the clothes are awesome and I really should stop buying them!

I got the usual big shop. It’s a mix of healthy and unhealthy, to be honest. I’d like to say that we have wonderful diets, and we do manage to get a lot of good food in there, but we do also enjoy our crisps, cake, pastries, etc. (I can feel your pregnancy judgement growing – how dare she? Crisps?!)

So imagine the situation. I’m standing there with a trolley piled high with a good mix of food. Some ready meals because, eight months pregnant. Can’t always be bothered to cook. Lots of yoghurt and cheese, some fruit, veg (fresh and frozen), and then Pringles, some cakes, bread, etc. Your usual weekly shop.

I think to myself, hey, my husband might like a beer tonight. I don’t drink (even pre-pregnancy, never had the taste for it) and he’s hardly a heavy drinker. He goes out one night a week and has two pints then, and usually has a beer on one night each weekend. He likes his IPA. So I roll my trolley and my big pregnant belly over to the booze aisle, and debate over various IPAs for a few minutes. Select one, put it in the trolley.

Then I become very aware of two ladies having a conversation about three feet away from me. It’s one of those conversations that you’re meant to hear.

Judger One: She’s buying beer. That’s disgusting.

Judger Two: Ugh. How awful. I pity that poor baby.

Yes, by all means, pity my poor baby. Poor baby with a father who had a total of three beers in a week.

Honestly, even if the beer had been for me, who cares? Maybe I was planning to dilute it with lemonade and drink it over the period of a week. Maybe I was planning to drink the whole thing in one evening. None of their business either way!

But, as a mature and sensible pregnant lady, I said nothing. Just pushed my trolley onwards, beer included, paid and went home. Where my husband enjoyed his beer.

So, that’s the latest pregnancy judgement I’ve received. What about you?

“Don’t have an only child!”

I read this earlier and it got me thinking.

I’m an only child. My husband is one of three.

I have to admit, I always thought I’d have a big family. At least three or four children. Well, going back a longer way, I thought about more like six, seven, eight. Then we started to talk about actual children, and think about finances.

Financially, we do okay. We live in a town with low house prices and a fairly low cost of living. We only earn average salaries, but due to the town we moved to, we have enough for a nice life, really. I like the idea of being able to give this baby a lot of opportunities. If we only have one, we can give a lot more. I know that I got a lot of support from my parents, and I’m so grateful to them; it’s set us up well.

When we got married, we bought a four-bedroom house for our imaginary children. We filled one bedroom with ourselves. One became a study. Three rabbits moved into the third. That leaves one for our baby. (As an only child, I have a horror of sharing a room. It’s bad enough I have to share with my husband!)

Me as a very small only child

Being an only child never did me any harm!

But, right now, the main reason for considering stopping at one is pregnancy.

Physically, pregnancy has been great for me. Yes, I had four horrific months of nausea and losing weight. Okay, right now baby is sitting on my sciatic nerve and my whole bottom and leg are numb and painfully tingly. I admit I’m sort of waddling and in pain a fair amount at nearly 32 weeks over here. But in general, my body seems to know what it’s doing over here. My blood pressure is always great, my blood and urine tests come back nicely, baby’s growth seems to be on track despite my shocking diet, etc.

But pregnancy has been emotionally more difficult than I expected. I’ve written about it before. I’m not myself when I’m pregnant, it turns out. I’m this sad, irritable, tired, weepy lady. I don’t like her very much. Then again, I don’t like anything right now. I am constantly angry.

It feels like I’m not so good at my job, my marriage or keeping my home going when I’m pregnant. Right now, that’s just an annoying inconvenience, but when I already have a child, I feel like it wouldn’t be fair on them to put them through what I’m like when I’m pregnant. And it wouldn’t be fair on me.

So maybe I’m letting go of the dream of having more than one baby. Maybe we’ll have a wonderful, lovely, beautiful only child.

It’s sad to say goodbye to the dream, but then again, there are lots of dreams that I’ve not been able to fulfill.

I love taking ballet class but I’ll never be a professional dancer, for example. But that doesn’t mean my experience of taking class isn’t wonderful in its own right. I can love pliés as much as any other dancer, and I can love my one baby as much as any mother who has more than one loves them all.

So I am making my peace with the idea that this one may be an only child. (I’m not saying never, because of course the best way to make God laugh is to tell him your plans!) But what I’m not thrilled about is the sheer amount of people who are already asking me “When are you having the next one?” No. I haven’t even had the first yet!

If I admit that this may be our only, they often follow up with, “Oh, don’t have an only child! They’re so spoilt/they find it hard to make friends/you’ll just love the first so much you’ll want to give it a sibling!” So then I get to out myself as being an only child. No, I don’t think I’m spoilt. I’m average at making friends. My parents love me an awful lot and I certainly don’t object that they never “gave me” a sibling. I had a great childhood.

And unless you want me to unload all of my pregnancy anger on you, it might be a good idea to stop asking!

 

Rabbit baby preparations #barbarablogs

Barbara Rabbit
Hello all, it’s Barbara Rabbit here again! Would you believe it, my mum said that as my last blog was so popular, she’s going to let me do this as a regular thing! #barbarablogs

We have some exciting news – there is going to be a baby in the house. Not a rabbit baby (we call them kittens), but a human one. It will be joining us in November.

Does this look like a rabbit baby to you?

I’m obviously not gestating it. My human mum is. If I were doing the gestating, I’d grow more than one at a time (far more efficient) and I’d have been done long ago – this non rabbit baby has been growing for months!

This is incredibly exciting news for me in particular. Both of my brothers are strongly bonded with one of the existing humans. Ned with our mum and Gingee with our dad. I like both humans, but not as much as the boys seem to. So I have decided that this new human is mine!

Ned and Gingee, being boys, don’t really know too much about how new rabbits are made, and they’ve had lots of questions for me. If you’re a fellow rabbit feeling a bit daunted about the arrival of a new human baby, I’m here to share my advice with you as well!

Rabbit baby vs human baby – some frequently asked questions

How long do humans take to grow their babies?

I’m not sure, but it seems to be taking forever! I first became aware that something was going on in about March. I could have had about five litters in that time! (If I weren’t spayed, that is, and if the humans had given me intact males to live with.)

How many human babies are born at once?

It usually seems to be just the one! I know, how inefficient! Apparently my human dad’s grandmother had a litter of two once, which is still on the small side in my mind, but it sounds like my humans are just planning on one at a time.

Why is my human mum not nesting properly?

Mine struggles. I judge her nesting skills a lot, actually. I don’t think she knows how to do this. She’s not put out any extra hay or anything. I haven’t seen her pull any of her hair out, either.

Some tips on how to encourage your human to nest properly:

  • If she’s not putting any hay out, take her some. Lay it on the floor of her bedroom or wherever you think she’ll want her nest to be. If she doesn’t use it to nest with, all rabbits know that eating hay is also really important during pregnancy. Mine wasn’t particularly appreciative of my bringing her the hay, but it was always gone by the time I went back in, so she must have been eating it.
  • Small dark spaces are good to give birth in. Does she go into any of her own free will? If not, try to lead her into some – under the bed, perhaps. Go in there and she’ll eventually have to try and follow you!
  • If it’s getting to the point that you think the baby will be born soon and she’s still not doing anything, take it up a notch. Lately, I’ve decided I have to make it clear just exactly what she should do, so I’m treating Ned as my baby. He’s small enough. I’ve started pulling some of my fur out and making it into a nest for him in his house. She’s noticed and commented on it, so I hope that encourages her to do the same!

How do I best communicate with the human baby?

Before it’s born, a human baby is much the same as a rabbit baby. You can sometimes see and feel it moving around. I try and give it a nuzzle or a headbutt at this point to encourage bonding.

I hear human babies are very loud and smell bad. Is this true?

I think so, unfortunately. Ned is the luckiest in this respect, as he’s deaf. Gingee and I will suffer more. The smell can’t be too bad though – I live with two boys, remember. I’m sure smells won’t be too much of an adjustment. (Gingee would like to say that I smell worse than he does. I disagree. Impertinent boy!)

What do human babies look like?Barbara - no longer a rabbit baby

From the pictures I’ve seen (see above), they’re black and white with no discernible features. I presume that, like rabbit babies, they grow into their features later on. I mean, we’re born hairless with our eyes shut and tiny ears. Look at me now – huge eyes, magnificent fur and my ears are just the right length.

What do human babies do?

I think they eat a lot. And sleep. And poo. This is why I think I’m going to have such a great bond with this baby – we will have so much in common!

What’s in this for me? Wouldn’t it be easier to ask for a new rabbit baby?

It’s a good question, and I have asked myself this a few times. Life will probably get a bit less nice – I won’t have as much peace and quiet, there may be odd smells around, and, rather worryingly, I may have to be left alone on Bonfire Night if that’s when human baby is born. (I need to be held comfortably in a warm, dark room with white noise to cope with fireworks. Just one of those little quirks that makes an old lady’s life a bit happier, you know!)

But it occurs to me that there are also lots of fun possibilities coming up too. Firstly, my mum is going to get a whole year off work. That’s a year where she’ll be home during the day. More playtime?

Secondly, when the baby can open its eyes and walk (that’s at a few days old, right? It would be if it were a rabbit baby!) chances are it will be a bit bigger than I am. But it might not know the rules yet! So I can probably convince it to open the food bin more regularly and hand out treats.

Similarly, opposable thumbs! Baby can use knives and cut up apples for me on demand! Open doors! And, as I don’t think they can talk at first, there’s no way I can be asked to go in for a bit or told no!

Also, I hear the number of blankets in the house will increase. I like blankets.

Human baby, you and I are going to have a lot of fun.

Until next time, my furry friends!