Pun intended.

I’ve conveniently forgotten what being big and pregnant and feeling like a beached whale/lumbering hippo is like. Uncomfortable, that’s what. This kid seems to be more kicky than Beaner was, and I swear s/he is exclusively elbows and knees. My ribs hurt more. This is due to my organs having nowhere to go when I eat (and so trying to escape through my back), than from this baby physically dislodging my rib bones. My bladder is being headbutted on a daily (and nightly) basis, so getting more than about 5 or 6 hours of sleep at a time is out of the question. Naps are essential again. I now time walks with my dog or daughter to my pee schedule. It’s depressing that my still-potty-training toddler has better control of her toilet urges than me, but she poops her pants way more, so there’s a win. I can’t pinpoint what food gives me heartburn this time around (it was bread with Beaner), so I’ve given up figuring it out. I eat what I want and swig liquid antiacid when I need.

My husband says I’m moodier and crankier, but that might just be pregnancy plus dealing with a two-year-old. And let’s not forget about the lack of clothing items that fit me. I’m living in a handful of stretchy pants, one set of corduroy overalls that are at max capacity, some baggy t-shirts, and three pregnancy tops my family bought me for an early Christmas present. I’m almost the size I was when I gave birth to my daughter, except I still have six(ish) weeks to go. Even my roomy ski jacket seems woefully small. Rifling through my husband’s wardrobe is my last-ditch effort to stay warm this winter. Oh, and let’s not even talk about the fact that putting on socks is nearly impossible now, even when I hold my breath.

I’m frustrated about my lack of access to gyms or swimming pools because Covid and my pregnancy have neatly coincided for the last nine months. I feel out of shape in so many ways, but the weight gain doesn’t help. At 73kg (161 pounds), I’m heavier than my husband (again) and feel every inch of me is bigger than last time. This kid is gaining weight faster than Bean, though strangely I’m on track to weigh slightly less at the end of this pregnancy. (This is, of course, entirely dependent upon how many cookies and pints of ice cream I inhale in the last few weeks.) I know how hard I worked to lose the weight last time, so I’m a little anxious about this time around. Fortunately, the weather will be getting nicer once this baby is born and I’ll be able to start biking and running once my body feels ready again. I’ve also got a decent number of free weights at home I can slowly get back into. And I have grand plans for a modest garden (flowers and veggies) this summer. Of course, I’m conscious of not overdoing exercise, especially at the beginning, as I started running too early last time and did a number on my right knee. Nine months in, nine months out. I’ll try to stick to that.

It was definitely our choice to conceive in a pandemic, and my husband and I even talked about if we wanted to wait (we didn’t; life goes on), but this has added a whole other layer of complication, frustration, and stress to our lives. I read an article the other day stating that Covid babies (or pandemikids or coronials) are now being born into a micro-generation of their own. I guess that’ll include this kid, too. Kinda weird to think we wanted to go through with this at such a time, but again, we weren’t going to wait forever. Neither of us is getting younger. I wonder if my greater physical aches are simply due to being older. My back aches, my feet are starting to swell, my ribs are constantly sore, I have heartburn and/or acid reflux, I waddle when I walk, my lady bits are swollen, I don’t sleep well, and I’m easily out of breath during the simplest of tasks. I’m officially classified as a geriatric mother (or “of advanced maternal age” – be still my heart), but I don’t feel that way. The silver hairs on my head probably beg to differ.

I read heartening news recently that the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists have released new guidance stating that NHS trusts should do everything they can to allow a support person to accompany a pregnant woman through her entire pregnancy journey. This now includes antenatal appointments, which were previously not mentioned. Of course, a negative Covid test is required. It’s better than the no-for-you policy that’s been in place everywhere I’ve been. And this talk about pregnant and breastfeeding women being able to get a Covid jab is exciting to me, though I’ll probably have to wait until the summer. To be honest, I don’t think my hospital will get on board with the new guidance before this kid is born. Meaning my husband will not step foot on a women’s ward until he’s bearing the brunt of my laboring wrath. Which will likely include hours of ear-splitting swearing, wild mood swings, all my bodily fluids (all at once), and his uttering, “Oh, god. I can’t unsee that!” once again. But the cute bundle of joy that will incur six months of sleep deprivation will be worth it, right?

At least Beaner seems to be getting excited about becoming a big sister. She has dressed up Big Bunny and Minnie Mouse enough times that she may actually be helpful with nappies and onesies. I found her old dummies/pacifiers the other night and she kept one in her mouth for about an hour. And when I took out the baby bottles, she demanded to drink water in one. I see it less as regression and more as excitement for this unknown creature we keep talking about.

Although it’s been frustrating trying to handle Beaner’s high-energy state at times, it’s also been really cool to see her start to bloom into her own person. She’s super chatty and will happily sing a song to herself when she’s immersed in her own little world. She enjoys long walks (seriously – she’ll do 1-2 hours just fine) and playing in the park. She’ll spontaneously say “please” and “thank you,” even “bless you” if you burp or sneeze. She can undress herself in the morning, put her soiled nappy in the bin, throw her dirty PJs in the laundry basket, and then dress herself (mostly unaided) for the day. In lieu of swimming lessons (because Covid), we’ve been having some splashy bath time in the tub, which she’s always thrilled about. She’s normally a fantastic sleeper (sans teething). We’re still on the wear-you-out-during-the-day, put-you-in-food-coma at night routine. Having consistent sleep and wake times has been good for her, and us, and I’m convinced life would be harder if we weren’t so strict with her schedule.

The UK government announced new tier restrictions for the country a few days ago. It comes as no surprise to anyone that the majority of the counties – all counties? – moved into higher tiers. I think it’s political suicide to use the word “lockdown” again, but that’s essentially Tier 4. Stay At Home. We’re in Tier 3, so it’s a bit better, but still dodgy ground for places being open and/or accessible. (Early years settings are still open for now, so I’m extremely happy that Beaner can attend preschool next week.) Rumors of a Tier 5 (think total lockdown) have been circulating, so it’s now a race to vaccinate the population. I’m under no illusion that the start of 2021 will be drastically different from most of 2020, but I do think things will improve. I’m going to have this baby regardless of what happens. I will have love and support when I most need it. And I believe that at some point, we won’t be required to wear masks and self-isolate from our very own families.

Let’s look toward this new year with hope and optimism. It’s going to be better.

One thought on “The Final Stretch

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