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Babeling: 37 weeks

We didn’t have one of those 3D scans..but if we did it might have looked like this…

(Skip to the 3D bit at the end for the best images, including the baby sticking her tongue out.)

Babe: 3 years and 1 month
Babeling: Fully cooked (37 weeks) but due in 3 weeks

Sonographer: The baby’s growth is still down on the bottom on the fifth percentile, but at least it hasn’t dropped below it.

Babymother: Isn’t this the scan where you can estimate the birth weight?

S: Yes, want to hazard a guess?

BM: Oh, I dunno, six and a half pounds?

S: Five pounds one.

BM: That’s tiny!

S: That’s the weight now. By the time of the birth it could be seven pounds.

BM: *&@!2?? (inarticulate astonishment, not swearing – this is a family blog.) But that’s completely normal!

S: Yes…

BM: So a baby can grow along the fifth percentile, and end up at seven pounds?

S: Yes…

BM: So why did the registrars make all this fuss about the fifth percentile? And having me scanned every four weeks?

S: Well, I suppose the average birth weight is eight and a half pounds nowadays.

BM: (self-righteously) Isn’t that because the nation eats really badly?

S: Probably.

BM: *groan* Just as well I didn’t think anything was wrong.

S: I know. I’ve had women in here crying.

I shall stop complaining now, because I’m extremely fortunate to have access to ante-natal care at all. Reading a Medicins Sans Frontieres leaflet the other day kind of put things in perspective: it told the story of a woman finally getting to a hospital after being in the second (pushing) stage of labour for FIVE DAYS. The baby was dead, of course.

I really have not been concerned about the babeling’s size, but when I left the ante-natal unit I was walking on air. It suddenly feels like Christmas is coming.

Babe: 3 years and 1 month
Babeling: Due in less than 4 weeks

Since the fireworks and scary Halloween masks at the door the babe has not been keen on darkness. Her room is too dark even with the landing light left on and the door wide open. She puts the brakes on bedtime as long as possible by changing her mind about which blanket, which sleeping bag, which story, no, I want three stories, now sing me a song, and another one, can I have some milk? Bedtime took an hour two nights in a row. I told her one night that if I couldn’t go downstairs and have my supper, I was going to cry.

So – in a moment of revelation – I told her that when we said thank you Jesus at bedtime, we were going to ask for an angel to stay in her room and keep her safe. This went down well. She is keen on angels. (I didn’t tell her that I personally find angels terrifying and hope to never meet one. There must be a good reason why they open conversations with, ‘Fear not,’ in the Bible. I assume they are heavily armed nine-footers, and I’m quite happy with the usual arrangement of not being able to see them.)

We’ve taken the side off the babe’s cot now – one reason why it was important that she should be content in bed, since she can decide when to get up – and at 6.50am the next morning she rocketed into our room to wake up babyfather. (I’ve decamped to the sitting room so that the bump and I can be disruptive all night without anyone minding.)

‘I can’t sleep anymore because the angel has gone,’ she explained before climbing into bed with babyfather. Apparently that’s the time they clock off after the night shift then. They are around in the daytime as well, because later she spotted two in the kitchen and one in the downstairs bathroom, washing his hands. Anyway, bedtimes have been straightforward ever since as long as we remember to ask for an angel, so I don’t care what they’re doing round the house.

Babe: 3 years and 1 month
Babeling: Due in 4 weeks

Surely you are all wondering how the babe’s Autumn Concert went?

Well, we were both traumatised before we even got there. My confidence in motherhood had taken a knock the day before when we got to the swimming pool and she completely point blank refused to get into her swimming costume. I had no idea what to do, or in fact who she was any more. We had to come home without swimming.

So there we were at ten minutes to getting in the car time, with me begging her to try on her concert costume, and her refusing. She was a circle not a triangle, as requested, since this was OK with nursery, and I was trying to dress her in a couple of uninspiring painted cardboard circles tied together with string. Threats and bribes were equally ineffective so I resorted to getting in touch with my inner toddler and shouting at her. The angel of the Lord – in the form of babyfather – arrived just in time to see her collapse in tears in the face of my rage. Not a proud moment.

I was calmer when we got there, 15 minutes late, having attacked the circle with a bread knife so that it was about half the size and she suddenly didn’t mind wearing it. Ahead of us was a Star, dressed in a gorgeous white lace and chiffon number with sparkly bits – not the most encouraging sight – but just behind us was a mother with a little boy in normal clothes.

‘Mine’s an Oval. Nice and easy,’ she said, before pulling a yellow oval shape printed onto a piece of A4 out of her bag. She attached it to his sweatshirt with two safety pins and sent him on his way.

‘Oh,’ I said. Phew. I expressed admiration and noted that she was a Mother of Two.

As for the actual concert – the babe was completely overwhelmed by the audience and chose to face the other way as much as possible, but who cares. We survived, and she didn’t cry; and she gained a red Certificate of Music and Acting Acheivement which I try not to laugh about in front of her.

Oh, and the Oval’s mother came up to me at the end and said, ‘I don’t know you, but do you want my old maternity clothes?’ Yes, thank you, and she’s bringing them on Monday.

Babe: 3 years and 1 month
Babeling: Expected in exactly 1 month

That’s it now. I can no longer wear clothes.

I did have three decent pair of maternity trousers and that was fine. Then one day two weeks ago two of them stopped fitting, and by stopped fitting I mean I only had to take two steps for the crotch to sink to knee level. I did have one denim maternity skirt which stayed put, but the tights were worse than the trousers – I spent the last day I wore that trying to push a buggy with one hand while surreptitiously plunging the other hand down the inside of my skirt in order to yank up my wayward hosiery. Every three steps or so.

Another mum at nursery kindly lent me her maternity jeans, which are not only better at staying up but rather flattering. They were great for about a week, and I was relieved to have two pairs of trousers to alternate. Now both these jeans are struggling to do their duty – they have to be hitched up every ten paces, and you just can’t when you are holding your child’s hand on one side and your shopping on the other.

The shape I am just does not lend itself to being dressed. There are three solutions:

– Only be heavily pregnant in the summer, and wear floaty dresses.

– Only wear dungarees.

– Don’t bother to get dressed.

I haven’t got any dungarees, so I’ll let you know what I decide. In the mean time the sheer indignity of it all is probably good preparation for childbirth.

Babe: 3 years and 1 month
Babeling: Expected in 5 weeks

Autumn is a scary time of year. First it goes dark very, very early. Then out of the darkness and onto your doorstep come strange people wearing bandages and grotesque masks and red flashing horns, sending you screaming upstairs. Then your parents keep you up late one night to park you in your buggy in a dark field to terrify you with the loudest bangs, screams and whistles you have ever heard, accompanied by pretty lights you never see because you are wailing with your eyes tightly shut.

Poor child. The fireworks seemed like such a good idea at the time.

‘She’s not bothered by loud noises,’ I said to people confidently, waving aside suggestions about watching from outside the park to see what she made of it from a distance. £15 pounds and ten minutes later, we were wheeling her out again. (Chilled mum got her son to wear ear defenders, and he was fine, so there’s an idea for next year.)

This morning she came out of nursery clutching a picture created from a toilet roll, an ice lolly stick, black card and lots of glitter. It looked very, very much like a firework.

‘You’ve made a beautiful firework!’ I gushed, hoping this was art therapy to exorcise the trauma of Saturday night.

‘It’s a banana,’ she said firmly.

Babe: 3 years outside
Babeling: 7 months inside

Just thought I’d mention that the babe has a part in the nursery concert this month.

She has been cast as:

A Triangle.

I’m expected to provide the costume. Any ideas?

(Added complication: she really wanted to be a Circle.)

Hutton

Babe: 3 years outside
Babeling: 7 months inside

Yet another growth scan this week – apparently they can’t get enough of the babeling at this hospital. The novelty of seeing bits of his insides on TV is wearing off now, although I did spot a very cute pair of feet, crossed at the ankle, somewhere in the region of my right lung. I knew there were feet up there. So the pointy bit that gets all the way down to the top of my left thigh could be an elbow.

Straight after the scan, I had the same conversation that I always have with the registrar (it’s never the same registrar but it’s always the same conversation). The babeling is small but growing steadily so far. They can’t make a decision about me using the birth centre until the last scan, when they will estimate his birth weight, and see if it falls within the normal range.

After a conversation with a friend who had her baby a year ago in the same hospital, giving birth on the labour ward is less attractive than ever. They didn’t have a bed ready for her even when she was ready to start pushing, so she was trapped in a waiting room crammed with expectant grandparents, pacing around in complete agony. Her husband looked into the room they were preparing for her and someone was ‘cleaning’ it by using their feet to wipe the blood off the floor with the bloody sheets they had just taken off the bed. When she did get into the room the midwife trilled cheerily, ‘You have picked a busy time, haven’t you?’ and left her to get on with it unaided.

So I had a brainwave – ‘Can you just reassure me now that if the babeling is the right size according to the next scan, I can use the birth centre?’ I asked. ‘Even with the retained placenta I had last time?’

‘Yes!’ said the registrar, and he wrote it in my notes, with his Special Senior Registrar Initials at the end. Result! (I hope the head midwife honcho at the birth centre is impressed too.)

Then a student midwife started to lead me away for the last round of blood tests. I wish her well in her chosen career, but she looked about sixteen years old, and I just did not feel like providing her with experience in siphoning blood out of people. When it became clear that she intended to extract my blood, rather than taking me to someone who has done it nine billion times before, it was time to say something.

‘By the way, I don’t want to worry you, but the first time I had blood taken I passed out. And had a fit. Oh, and I’ve got really small veins,’ I said chattily as we walked along.

She literally did a U-turn. ‘I’ll go and get Roshina,’ she said. Sensible move. Roshina had done it nine billion times before. I got to lie down, was spoken to soothingly, and generally received five star treatment. (That incident may have taken place fifteen years ago, never to be repeated, but I’m still milking it.) Now hopefully I can save up the rest of my blood for the floor of the birth centre.