Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It's pregnancy Jim, but not as we know it

On a recent return trip from Berlin I noticed an exhausted and exasperated-looking woman try and maintain some sort of hold on her three small children who were running riot, while also trying to keep an eye out for their bags and extricate said bags off of the luggage belt. She looked like she was either going to have a nervous breakdown or throttle someone, or both. I thanked my lucky stars that I only have one child, who despite a rather calm and patient disposition (well for an almost-two year old that is), can also do her fare share of running riot in inopportune places and at inopportune times.

And then I remembered, 'Oh shit, I'm pregnant.' Our 'tuck one under your arm and you're off' (as my grandmother was fond of saying) life is about to irrevocably change, well, at least from May of next year, if all goes well. And then I'll be that woman looking like a mad person trying to contain her offspring.

I'm not a big family sort of person. I think after this next one that's it for me. I've never had fantasies of a Walton-type brood. Whether it's the product of being one of four, or simply knowing my limits in the patience stakes I don't know. Even having another child was, and I must confess this, primarily a consideration for the sake of Julia having a sibling. Having spoken to some friends who were only children I was continually met with the adage, 'not just an only child but a lonely child.'

I am very excited and looking forward to having another baby. Despite my intellectual feelings my instinctive maternal ones had me broody on quite a few occasions since Julia turned about a year old. But, and I think this is certainly a risk, the older your only child gets, the more of a groove you get into. You get to know each other as people, you get into a routine, you've got your life more or less back (and your boobs), and as a family you've kind of got things figured. So the prospect of throwing ourselves, and Julia now, back into the chaos that was those early weeks and months of bringing home a newborn does terrify me. I'd be lying if I said it didn't.

Also, will the children get on? I get irritated when people wax lyrical with fantasies of their unborn children 'playing together' to a Julie Andrews soundtrack. As one of four I can strongly attest to the reality that from day one children have personalities and these can and often do clash, and kids don't always play together. You can land up with children so different to one another that your peaceful home becomes a war zone. It's an extreme scenario to be sure, but it's also a possibility. In my case differences in ages often meant that my siblings had little interest in playing with me (the youngest), once we weren't very little any longer, and I relied heavily on friends for company.

Still, I'd like to be one of those irritating parents-to-be and have that fantasy that my children will be best friends, look out for each other always, be close as adults (as my siblings and I are), and bitch about their father and me behind our backs. Why not?

A friend of mine recently emailed me saying, 'I know you used to have a blog,' which scared me. It shows how long it's been since I've updated this. My excuse, a valid one I feel, is that I've had horrendous morning sickness.

I had it with Julia and alas I had it again this time round. It started at around week 6 with certain smells becoming intolerable, followed a few days later by these smells making me feel sick. Followed by these smells (and many others fast being added to the list) actually making me throw up. To a few days after that, throwing up for no good reason at all.

Smells could be things like Flash cleaning spray, or one of those thingies you stick in the loo so it cleans it when you flush, or a particular food cooking, or my ultimate nemesis, opening the door to the dishwasher that contains an unwashed load from the night before. Why they call it morning sickness is a mystery, because as any woman that has had had to endure this will tell you, it's 24-7 - morning, noon and night. Nausea and or throwing up. I could go into detail here but I'll spare you.

With Julia I actually lost weight in my first trimester (three months). In this pregnancy if I ate, preferably sugary fattening pastries and breaded-type stuff, every two to three hours, I managed to stave off the severe nausea and just have the mild nausea. The result is that I've put on a stone in three months. Yep, if ever you wanted to know what 3-4 Paul almond croissants a day will do to your waistline, well, now you know.

Then there's the fatigue - not just fatigue, but narcolepsy. Usually an uber attentive (read: paranoid) mother, I found myself nodding off in a chair in an upright position while reading to Julia who was on my lap. So much for never letting your toddler out of your sight. Does being in the same room with your eyes closed count I wonder?

I shouldn't complain because every time I feel ill (which still happens now from time to time) or throw up (ditto) it's a sign of a continued pregnancy, which I am enormously grateful for.

Having passed the three month mark, we've told Julia we are expecting and she is fast becoming fond of telling just about anyone (today the passports clerk at Heathrow) that "Mummy has a baby 'on her tummy'.'" There are also many comments about my fast expanding stomach and breasts, most recently, "Mummy has cake in her boobies." I imagine having seen me wolf down that plethora of pastries from Paul, she's figured it had to have gone somewhere. I guess I should be grateful she hasn't noticed the size of my backside yet.