I’m currently 16 weeks pregnant and writing this retrospectively.
To be honest, I feel pretty far removed from the first trimester, even though it was only a few weeks ago, it feels like an age away. I didn’t want to write as I went along, I couldn’t bear having to read it back and delete should the worst have happened. And now the details about symptoms feel pretty insignificant and hardly worth mentioning – we’ve now entered at a completely different stage where we are thinking about birthing options and whether we should buck our usual trend and find out the sex of the baby this time. But I will write what has managed to stay with me up until this point.
This little plan for our family started way back in the post-labour haze when Arlo was just a few days old. We were already talking siblings for him, and we knew, if we could make it happen, we would like at least three children.
When the readiness for a third baby eventually came, I didn’t experience the huge, desperate sense of broodiness as with when we we trying to conceive Rory and it just wasn’t happening. Instead, it was much more of a practical decision-making process – picking a month half a year into the future, according to what would work best for our family and factoring in other life commitments, night weaning Rory so that conceiving would be a possibility (that in itself took a good half a year). So, after a busy, fun summer, September felt just right.
The two week wait was actually a 10 day wait. It was late September, and I wanted to know if the wine I had quite fancied for a sunny afternoon in a beer garden with friends was going to be off limits.
Seeing two lines wasn’t actually a surprising moment, I’ve had plenty of those. But it signified the beginning of a process which leaves me uncomfortably out of control – two lines means embarking on a rollercoaster of anxiety, and being thankful for each day that passes. Two lines means a glimmer of hope suppressed underneath a hefty blanket of realism, the odds feeling stacked against you. It means the immediate calculation of dates, even though you are trying to put it to the back of your mind. Two lines means silently holding your breath.
First trimester symptoms
In the early weeks of pregnancy, there were many days spent horizontal on the sofa at every possible opportunity. It’s tempting to say this pregnancy was the worst, nausea-wise, but I’m unsure as to whether that’s mainly because it’s the most recent in my mind. The hectic, early starts took their toll – once I’d get home from the school and preschool runs at 10am, it would feel like half my day was gone already, leaving little energy for anything productive.
As with my other pregnancies, most vegetables were suddenly off the menu. I was happy to exist on ready salted crisps, popcorn, and curry. I can always eat curry. Different to my other pregnancies was a huge penchant for savoury dairy – cream cheese, macaroni cheese, anything cheesy and stodgy was massively appealing.
All of my first trimester symptoms were heightened during weeks 6-9 (coincidentally, when Sam was away for nearly three weeks). And then at 9 weeks, the nausea suddenly ceased, with a brief reprise at around 13 weeks. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such a sudden disappearance of symptoms before, with my boys it was pretty much on and off until 14 and 11 weeks, respectively. There is a vlog I made a couple of weeks ago discussing how that symptom change at 9 weeks made me feel, having experienced early miscarriages before.
The 12 week scan
This pregnancy has had the least monitored first trimester. With both Arlo and Rory, for different reasons, I had had several scans before the standard dating scan at around 12 weeks. It was tough going not having that extra reassurance that the pregnancy was developing OK so far, when my main coping mechanism was to prepare myself that the worst WOULD happen.
At the risk of revealing something completely non-maternal, I’ve never felt particularly connected to my children when seeing that black and white screen in the scan room. There’s been no huge swell of emotion. It’s a strange experience, it’s over so quickly, and you are in a room with a stranger who may or may not be all that personable….I’ve just never connected with that screen, it’s always been more of a matter of fact process for me.
This time round, the scan became a real milestone in my head. In the later half of the first trimester especially, I really started to focus on that 12 week scan. It was THE only thing I could see in the near future, and the purpose of every day was just to get me closer to that date.
Considering I’d pinned all my thoughts on this one moment, the 12 week scan, it should have been unsurprising to me that it ended up being upsettingly anti-climactic.
The sonographer immediately set the tone by insensitively asking me about my three previous miscarriages before even a hello had been uttered. “Why aren’t you under consultant care??”. Closely followed up by a flat out refusal to my request to have the children wait outside with Sam for the first minute or so until I could give the all-clear that everything was OK – it was either go in alone for the whole appointment, or have them come in right from the start, despite having just gone over my history and my reasons for this being plainly clear. I had to rescue the scan photo from the waste paper bin as the sonographer had assumed I wouldn’t want it because it “wasn’t the best angle”.
And by far the worst thing of all: The screen was so far behind my head that I couldn’t see it. I waited all these weeks to not even get a glimpse of my baby. In the following days I asked Sam (who had a better view) approximately one million times if he definitely saw a heartbeat and the baby moving. I remember similarly abrupt sonographers during my pregnancy with Rory, so know I know just to expect it at that particular hospital.
I know it’s a very small thing to gripe about in the grand scheme of things, and the only thing I should ever take away from scans is thankfulness that everything is OK, but I will admit that I did find the whole experience upsetting, So, yeah, maybe scans just aren’t my thing.
Should we find out if it’s a girl or a boy?
We are seriously considering finding out the sex of the baby this time round. Well, I say we, it’s me driving this decision, Sam would rather wait as we have done with both the boys. But one thing that massively puts me off is that I just can’t imagine anything less special than being told if my child is a boy or a girl by a stranger in that rushed scan room visit. I cannot imagine anything topping that moment where you meet your baby and find out for yourself, but this time, I quite fancy having a little surprise a little earlier on, when there is less to focus on.
When I weigh it up against another 6 months of people saying “Let’s hope it’s a girl”, and being able to be prepared with a third boy’s name that we 100% really love and have really thought about (because after naming two boys that will prove a challenge), finding out whilst pregnant seems all the more appealing!
At the moment I am entirely conflicted between what feels right and what feels right in another way.
We kept this pregnancy very quiet compared to my previous pregnancies. Aside from the couple of friends that I told, not even our parents knew until after the all-clear at the 12 week scan. After not really having much choice in our previous pregnancies, it was nice just having a little secret for a while with this one. Although a LOT of baggy tops and pretending to drink did have to be deployed.
I also had a feeling that Arlo would relish being able to break the news to family when the time was right. As it turned out, a heavy cold warranted a break from school so he had to attend the scan with us anyway. It was very sweet to watch the realisation slowly dawn on his face once we were in the scan room. He talked at about 100 miles per hour for the rest of the afternoon, about his favourite names and his thoughts as to whether a boy or girl would be nice. Almost immediately he suggested ringing around the family to let them know, so we handed him the phone and set him to work with the task. Lots of family members received an exciting yet slightly confusing call from Arlo that day.
I think we managed to surprise a fair few people. With a house move on the way, most people had thought we would aim for baby 3 after we had moved, but actually we knew about the baby before we found the house – the plan had originally been to stay in our current house until we were out of the newborn stage (or later), but then the perfect house came up.
Arlo absolutely adores babies, so we had a feeling he would be thrilled with the news, and it’s been lovely to see him so excited. I have no worries that he will continue his trend of being an excellent, caring, big brother. Rory knows there is a baby in my tummy, and that it is coming out in June, he sometimes asks me questions about the baby like ¨Is the baby sleeping? Can the baby talk?¨, but how he will take to his new role as big brother is the big unknown. In many ways, he is still my baby, and I think baby 3 could prove a bit of an adjustment to mine and Rory’s dynamic.