Throughout this pregnancy, I have never really felt pregnant enough. Everything always seems as though it’ll be when you get to X weeks or from the third trimester. And it feels now that we are finally at that point. I discussed it last week, but entering the final weeks has shifted things. Being on the cusp of 30 weeks, and having an induction booked, means that we are on the home straight. Its a good feeling, scary, but good all at the same time.
So what do we have left to do?
We have just over eight weeks left of pregnancy and are now in to weekly CTG monitoring. We have a few more local scans, and another appointment at the Tommy’s funded Rainbow Clinic. Our scans will soon be able to assess the blood flow from the placenta to Magpie’s brain to assess placental function. Something that Leo never had, but we have discussed since his post mortem reviews. I finish work for Maternity Leave in two and half weeks. We have my cousins wedding where I am bridesmaid, and my wife is taking part in a fundraising event for Tommy’s. All of these things, will hopefully make the final few weeks fly by!
We’ve taken a slow and easy approach to preparing for the end point of pregnancy so far. It has felt safe, and the right way to process things. Slow, steady conversations over many weeks. Waiting until it really mattered seemed overwhelming. Now it feels like we should probably speed up a little. We need to organise practical things, like a hospital bag, and more fun but challenging things, like sussing out a name!
Third Trimester So Far
One aspect that I’m pleased third trimester has given me, is a more reliable pattern of movements. I haven’t visited the Maternity Assessment Unit or had an anxiety spiral since the day I turned Week 26. No doubt, the next spiral is around the corner, having waited so long. If and when I need to, I will go in.
I do think the past few weeks of being able to rely and trust Magpie’s movements that little bit more has really helped. He is such a different mover to Leo. I have no doubt that in the next few weeks, his movements will become more visible and stronger, the larger he gets. Although, they have always been pretty strong compared to Leo. He feels like he has regular raves in there – especially in the morning and in the evening. I try not to overanalyse the difference – each baby is different after all.
Managing my anxiety is also becoming a little easier, and I’m enjoying the respite from feeling so unbelievably on edge all the time. Its not to say that it isn’t there. I still have to work hard at it. There are days when I can feel that I’m not being convinced by his movements. That I’m anxious the instant he stops moving. But I am able to keep myself calmer than previously. Partly due to practice, but also better knowledge of him, and by using the evidence I’ve collated in monitoring movements using the Kicks Count app. I was expecting the CTG monitoring to help keep tabs on my anxiety more than it did – maybe I put it on too high a pedestal? I guess its a case that we only know the baby is truly okay, in the moment he is being assessed.
If my anxiety has dipped a little in the day, I find the nights are harder to get through. If I wake up in the night, I can’t go back to sleep until I have felt him move. And then, as I’m in-between sleep and being awake, the memory of feeling him move is hazy and I can’t tell if it was real or a dream. These anxious nights sleeps are particularly hard as they are reminiscent of two nights before Leo died.
Anticipating Maternity Leave
I am (we both are!) looking forward to Maternity Leave. I feel pretty tired all the time! And I’ll enjoy having greater flexibility in just resting and spending time feeling Magpie move. Especially as the weeks go on, and my anxiety no doubt climbs. I’m hoping the weather will improve so I can get in a bit more exercise than I am currently doing – all the great intentions, eh!
When thinking about Maternity Leave this time, we knew we wanted to take advantage of securing time off as a family. In the UK, we have a scheme called Shared Parental Leave. This means that my 52 weeks of Leave can be shared with my wife. We could stagger it, or take it together. We have decided to take it at the same time so we can both be off work together for about five months. With Leo, I shared six weeks with my wife, and she returned to work after this. We decided that after everything, we might as well maximise what is available to us. We know that having a newborn will be a challenge, as it is for everyone. Make that a newborn 18 months after the stillbirth of our first son, following four years of fertility treatment, and I think we deserve the break together!
Not having the pressure of either of us returning to work straight away will be so nice. We will hopefully be able to enjoy the outside (or the inside!), relax and process everything that has happened. It will no doubt give us plenty of time to heal, and work through the new challenges that life will give us. I’m not naive to think that we will be off exploring the world from the word go. No doubt the first few weeks (or more) will be spent doing nothing other than tending to a newborn. That in itself sounds miles better than staring into an empty nursery, with despair and heartbreak. To be able to explore this new stage in our lives, with the full support of each other – well, we are grateful for the opportunity to be able to do it.
And who knows, now and then we might actually make it out to a local National Trust place, drink tea and eat brownies in the sunshine, with a baby creating stress and mayhem!