I am now, as far as I can work out, almost 26 weeks pregnant. I cannot vouch for this with 100% accuracy as I have not been keeping the same kind of obsessive track of my precise stage of pregnancy this time around as I did the first time, and unfortunately it now seems that the Internet is less help than it used to be in helping pregnant women who’ve lost count to catch up. When I was pregnant with Jamie, epregnancy.com had an excellent calculator for precisely this purpose – you typed in either the date of your last menstrual period or your ovulation date, whichever you preferred, and were instantly told not only your due date but also the precise gestation, in weeks and days, that your pregnancy had currently reached. (For good measure, they would give you a link to a short piece about stuff likely to be relevant to you at that stage of your pregnancy – they had one worked out for every day of a pregnancy from pre-conception through to post-dates.) Unfortunately, at some point in the intervening couple of years they have ditched this excellence in favour of a version which only calculates your due date and only calculates that from your last period, not your ovulation date. Which means that even if I go to the trouble of adjusting the dates for the fact that my ovulation date wasn’t actually a textbook fourteen days after my last period (theoretically a simple calculation, but I do not have an arithmetical brain and inevitably manage to get such things wrong), this calculator, and the dozen or so others I’ve found by googling, will only tell me what date I’m due and not what exact stage of gestation I’m at now, which is what I’d actually like to know. Would it really be so frickin’ complicated to design an on-line calculator that would give this information?
Oh, well – unlike most pregnant women, I’ve at least got the old-fashioned low-tech option available to me, in the form of the handy little gadget doctors have that consists of two cardboard wheels clipped together. I can work it out from that any time I’m at work, so all I have to do now is actually remember to check at some point while I am at work.
Anyway, whatever stage I’m at, I’m feeling extremely well on it. The upcoming few months are the stage of pregnancy I enjoyed most last time around – big enough to feel blooming, not big enough to be uncomfortable. Katherine/Alfie is kicking with a ferocious determination that leaves me rather fancifully imagining that s/he knows s/he will have a strong-minded big brother to contend with and is already gearing up to hold his/her own. Everything is progressing unremarkably, which is just the way I like pregnancies to progress.
I am now well and truly in maternity trousers (my predilection for loose comfortable tops rather than tailored blouses means that I can still wear my usual clothes on my top half). This is a step I put off for as long as possible, feeling a somewhat irrational objection to going into maternity clothes before I had an obvious belly to put in them – the thought made me feel like some kind of poseur just trying to play the pregnancy up. (I also had a rather more rational objection – namely, that if I was going to wear those dreadful-looking drawstring trousers I wanted it to be totally clear that I did have the appropriate excuse for so doing and this was not just a more-severe-than-usual lapse of sartorial taste on my part.) So, for several weeks I struggled along with my loosest pair of trousers and the old undone-top-button-under-an-untucked-top trick. Vicki Iovine claims the only way through this intermediate stage of pregnancy is to buy a new set of clothes in a larger-than-usual size, but, being a
skinflint frugal and moneywise person, I was reluctant to take this step, and managed to get through the middle months of my first pregnancy in my existing wardrobe, thinking, hah, in your face, Vicki Iovine. Unfortunately, in the interim between pregnancies I managed to rip a pair of elasticated-waistband trousers that had formed one of the linchpins of my mid-pregnancy wardrobe and thus found it a tad more difficult second time around, and did, in the end, buy one extra skirt to see me through. I figured it would be a good investment as I could still wear it after the pregnancy, but – and I recognise how poorly this whole story is reflecting on my ability to take care of clothes – I managed to rip this within a few weeks of buying it, and, although I went on wearing it around the house for some time after that, the rip extended to a point past repair and I had to bin it. However, by this time I had just enough obvious belly to feel I’d earned my way into the maternity trousers, so maternity trousers it now is and I feel a lot more comfortable for it.
Although Jamie knows there’s a baby in Mummy’s tummy and we do make intermittent mention of the fact of its eventual emergence and of some of the changes that might occur in our family life thenceforth, we haven’t as yet focused too much on that aspect of things. This is in accordance with the standard advice from baby books about the poor grasp that children of this age have of the passing of time, and the consequent possibility that talking too much about the arrival of a sibling too far in advance can raise unrealistic expectations of a baby’s imminent arrival. So, currently we’re dwelling more on the present than on the future. (The wisdom of this approach was confirmed a couple of months back, when Jamie found an apple growing on the tree in our garden and I made the mistake of telling him it would grow into a big apple for him to eat without sufficiently clarifying the expected timescale. For the rest of that session of playing in the garden, he kept returning to the apple every ten or fifteen minutes and remarking "Apple not grown yet" in tones that suggested he considered it quite noble of him to be willing to overlook such obvious failings on the part of the fruit.)
However, this does seem like the sort of stage at which I should be stepping up the preparation of the big-brother-to-be a notch. Accordingly, I asked my usual internet groups for advice on books that help explain new babyhood and siblinghood to the prospective sibling, and received such a wonderfully bewildering selection of recommendations I didn’t see how I’d ever manage to sort through them all. Fortunately, once I’d typed them all into Amazon and eliminated all the ones that were unavailable or didn’t look that good or had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with new babies but had been posted anyway because somebody put a La Leche League book list up in its entirety rather than just posting the relevant bits, I ended up with a manageable few, so my mother and I are ordering those between us. We also already have the Usborne First Experiences book, so I think we’ll be well stocked. If people would like, I can report back on the ones I tried.
Fact is, Jamie doesn’t currently seem particularly interested in the topic. When I bring the subject up his face brightens and he says "Little baby in Mummy’s tummy!" in the satisfied tones of someone who has successfully made some crucial connection between what he’s currently being told and his previous knowledge of the universe, but then, when I talk further about what sort of things he might expect once the baby’s home, he simply starts chattering away about something else. I don’t think it’s a deliberate attempt to block me out – it seems more that the subject just doesn’t hold enough interest for him to bother with it. Oh, well – hopefully the books will stimulate further desire for discussion. If not, then the actual arrival of the baby should at least make the relevance to his life seem fairly obvious to him.