For me, one of the most prevelant feelings I had during the first three months was Fear. I did what most of us do and bought lots of How To Be Pregnant The Right Way books, ranging from the militant “If you breathe the same air as buffalo mozzarella, you will die, and so will your baby” (cue raging guilt about the sliver of feta cheese you snuck three days ago) to the nauseatingly hippy “get to KNOW your body, in all it’s changing forms” (no thanks – the stretch marks at ten weeks had me weeping for days).
The twelve week scan was the source of all fear for me and the fella. I was convinced I had some dormant disease from my years of tripping the lights fandango around Dublin’s night spots that was going to be outed and harm my baby, while the fella was worried that somehow, some way, we had done something to ruin him before he had even graduated from a plum to a papaya (it’s easier to think of your baby as fruit at this stage – I don’t know why).
The day dawned and off we went, arriving a magnificent hour early for our appointment. I was too afraid to eat anything, so was tetchy to say the least, and had drank two litres of water to make sure my bladder was full and they could see the baby clearly, so was a bit… uncomfortable.
Before you get to have a scan, you have to be interrogated by a midwife. In my case, this involved a) being weighed in a corridor (humiliating) b) being taken into a small, windowless room for a ‘chat’. Now, this chat is not all that it seems. It starts off nice enough, “did you have any broken bones as a child? Any family illnesses we should know about?” to the sinister “so, are you married to your partner?” and probing “did you MEAN to get pregnant?” Now, I could cope with all of this – I mean, they have to ask, right? Then. She said, oh-soooo-casually “so, has your partner ever hit you?” WHHHHAAT? NOOOOO!!! “Now, this is a safe space Ciara. Does he take drugs? Does he drink?” Jesus Christ. I found myself explaining that the fella is a teetotaller who practices the art of zen (he totally doesn’t, but I was really afraid that a mere sip of drink at the weekend would mean we were put on the parental black list). TWENTY minutes later I was released and the fella and I were sent off to get some blood taken (not as scary as you think) and then to get our scan – woot!
Maybe I am a total spa but I thought that at three months you would totally be able to find out whether it was a boy or a girl. Not the case. It’s weird. The scan lady blobbed that gel you see in the films on my tummy (so not as cold as everyone makes out) and properly DUG what looked like a games console into my belly. This prompts several emotions 1) STOP SQUASHING MY BABY! and 2) EH, I have to wee here.
Then we saw the baby. I didn’t cry, but MY GOD was I relieved… and really REALLY warm and squidgy inside. It looked FECKING MASSIVE! And quite happy actually, whirling around – my kid was having a bout of kicking at the time so it was super cool to see it turning and squirming and generally having a right laugh in there. Mostly, it was so very very cool to know that there actually was a baby in there, and that he was ok and not broken by by drunk mommy-ness. Thank GOD.
After this hospital visit I started to feel really pregnant. Knowing I hadn’t made it up, and that the baby was ok in there felt like I had been given a gold star and it was pretty damn amazing.
Important things I found out at this point:
1. Wee is a pregnant woman’s currency. At every step of your medical journey you are expected to produce a pot of wee, so get used to weeing on command. I found (on advice from some of my seasoned ma friends) that by grabbing loads of wee pots when I went to the hospital, I could wee in the peace of my own home before a doctors visit – it’s better, I promise.
2. Your fanny hurts. Yes. It’s like a muscular pain. Not everyone gets it, but I did from week 11 onwards. It hurts when you turn over in bed, when you sit at your desk for more than three hours at a time, when you drive your car and it makes you walk like John Wayne. At this point the fella started to become accustomed to coming home to find me either in the bath (it helps) or lying on the couch clutching a hot water bottle. NOICE. And not.at.all.sexy.
3. You do NOT FEEL BLOOMING. Yet. You will, soon, but not yet. Just because you have passed the twelve week mark doesn’t mean you turn into a pregnant flower. My hair was really greasy (minging), I had spots, I was bloated and had to fart all the time (sorry, but it’s true). It’s kind of like being a teenager again.
4. Speaking of which, the moods, ooooohhh the moods. When I wasn’t crying in the toilets at work because I thought an email had been phrased in a particularly mean way I was writing missives to the fella that would include lines like “You don’t UNDERSTAND me, or what I’m going through” and “there’s just no SUPPORT here” (this could be prompted by him not being able to divine what I wanted for dinner or suggest that we go out to the cinema to see a movie I wasn’t excited about).
5. It really starts to dawn that there is a baby in there. This was the BEST part about this time for me. I couldn’t feel the baby yet, but I knew there was one growing every day in there. He went from a plum to a papapya to a galia melon in a really short time and it was A-MAY-ZING. While I was in the bath soaking my fanny every night the fella would come in and we would go through our vast library of baby books, finding out about what our baby could do today and it was so, SOOOO very cool.