I have now been officially discharged by the midwives, having availed myself of the minimum in the way of postnatal care (the minimum being checks of me and baby on days 5, 8, and 10, in case anyone was wondering). First time around, I made sure I asked for daily visits – how else do you get the chance to ask about all those little things that seem too silly to ring someone to ask specially but about which you still need reassurance? This time, I felt completely laid-back about new motherhood – apart from the weight checks on Katie, which I definitely did want after all the problems we had with Jamie’s feeding, I regarded the whole business of postnatal care as a mere formality.
Which, in my case, it was. Everything is going beautifully. My daughter is breastfeeding like a little champion, and that showed up on the scales – by day 10, the day by which babies normally aren’t expected to have done more than regain their birthweight after the initial dip, she had put on almost five and a half ounces over that. Even allowing for the fact that she was not weighed on the same scales and therefore at least some of that may well be inter-instrumental error, I still find that impressive. I feel in fine health and my uterus has contracted back just as it should, reversing its nine-month journey and sinking back into my pelvis, its work here finally done.
It’s been odd getting used to not being pregnant any more – realising that I can now slouch back in my chair to my heart’s content without worrying over whether it’ll cause the fetus to slump back into a less-than-optimum position for getting through the birth canal, or that I don’t have to bother with doing eighty pelvic rocks in the evening to keep the circulation to my legs flowing well. But I’ll never have such concerns again – barring major changes of plan, that’s me done with pregnancy. I feel a little nostalgic over that, inevitably, knowing that I’ll never again watch a second line come up on a test, or feel those first tiny flutters changing to proper definite little kicks and shoves as the weeks and months go by, or admire my hugely swollen belly and wonder whether it can get any bigger. I find myself feeling I should have savoured it more at the time. But, logically, I know that I did savour it as much as I could, and what stopped me from doing so more was that it’s only in retrospect, with the knowledge that things did all go just fine, that I can enjoy those memories unblighted by the tension that, in reality, was always at the back of my mind. That second line on the test didn’t mean that I could celebrate the prospect of having a baby – it meant that, as thrilled as I was to have got that far, I still had another two months of waiting for signs of miscarriage or ectopic before I could confirm the pregnancy was viable and that all the queasiness wasn’t for nothing. The enjoyment of feeling those little kicks was always tempered, in the last weeks of the pregnancy, by a quick mental assessment of whether they were in the sort of position you’d expect from a baby that was head down and optimally positioned for exit. Would the baby come out too early? Too late? With associated complications? Enjoying pregnancy in retrospect is a lot more relaxing.
It’s also a lot more comfortable. I was lucky enough to have two good pregnancies, and this is certainly not a complaint – just an acknowledgement of the fact that even good pregnancies have a lot of mildly unpleasant side-effects. It feels good to have my tastebuds back to normal, to be able to turn over easily in bed, to be able to walk places without constantly having to stop and find a toilet. It’ll feel good to be able to put my usual trousers back on, when I can do so (that day is, alas, still some way off, but at least it’s now a goal I can aim for).
I was pregnant for eighteen months out of my life. It was a fascinating, wonderful, awesome experience that I’m incredibly glad to have had, and I miss some things about it. But I don’t miss them enough to want to go back for a third round. The best thing about it was the knowledge that my body could do it; could conceive a child, grow it for all those months, do the same again when I wanted it to three years later. And now I’m happy to have moved on to the even better bit – enjoying those two children.