Sweet child o’ mine

So The Big Day finally arrived.

After waiting and waiting and WAITING through days that felt like weeks and, eventually, hours that felt like days, I finally got to see my little bub again.

Although I’ve generally been pretty relaxed throughout my pregnancy, on this particular morning I’d woken early, with a sense of foreboding. I’m not sure why.

Perhaps because with no definitive movement I could categorically attribute to a tiny limb, and still with no bump to speak of, a pair of gigantaboobs and an increasing breathlessness were all I had to reassure me that Bub was still happy and developing well.

Naturally, The Baby-Daddy didn’t come to the scan. He said he had to work. Of course he did. He lives so far north that they haven’t invented days off up there yet.

But at least this time I was smart, and I didn’t bother to argue. I couldn’t see any point in upsetting myself. I just had a little sniff when I was all alone, and a quiet word with Bub, to remind my precious little bundle that I’m truly grateful for this opportunity and that I can’t wait for this little person to call me mum.

Anyway, I was fine attending the scan on my own. In theory. But all the same, I spent a few minutes combing the internet for reassurance, trying to ignore the nagging feeling that if everything was OK, surely I’d feel something by now? Surely I’d have at least the tiniest bit of a bump?

Of course, the forums were full of women who’d had a meagre bump for pretty much all of their pregnancy and had never felt a thing until they were seven months gone. But still, I couldn’t wait for the appointment to reassure me, and was glad that I had plenty of work to keep me occupied until the magic hour arrived.

Finally the hands of the clock dragged themselves past noon.

Keen to set my mind at rest, I set off for the hospital far too early. Thankfully, reception was almost empty, and I was called for my appointment ahead of time.

Settled in the chair, my belly covered in gel, I could barely speak to the radiographer, instead craning my neck to get a good view of the happenings inside the bump. At first, the tiny little body seemed so still that the panic simmered quietly inside me. Squeezed upside down and folded at a rather uncomfortable angle, the motionless little frame struck fear into my heart.

“It’s not moving much,” I ventured, my heart in my mouth.

“No,” said the radiographer, a picture of calm. “Looks like it’s having a snooze… Oh! There it goes! We’ve managed to wake it up!”

I quickly brushed away the little tear of relief that trickled down my cheek, and realised that I’d been holding my breath for far too long.

Patiently, I watched as she measured bones and checked arteries and vital organs, each time proclaiming Bub’s results to be good, very good or even excellent. She showed me the spine, the kidneys, the brain and the stomach and then finally – finally! – we got to the bit I’d been desperately waiting for: the gender.

“Aha!” said the nurse, indicating a fuzzy patch at the top of the screen. “Can you see that? That’s a little willy!”

I craned and strained my eyes to see … and yes! Yes, I could see! The Chinese Gender Predictor was right. It’s a boy!

“Oh look!” she said, “he’s put his hand on it.”

I watched as my clever little boy protected his modesty.

“Oh! Both hands!”

A proper lad, if ever there was one. All he needs is some trackie bottoms and a remote control and we’re away.

I could have watched my mesmerising offspring all day, but all too soon the nurse was wiping the gel from my belly and ushering me out of the door.

Reassured that my beautiful boy was safe and sound, I bounded obediently back to reception and sent the first of a gazillion jubilant texts trumpeting the joyful news.

A boy! A boy! I’m going to have a boy!

As good wishes flooded in from far and wide, I sent up a silent prayer that I’ll soon take on the dimensions of an over-inflated beach ball.

With no more scans due before Bubba’s birth, it may be the only way to keep me sane…

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Pointy bumps and ugly mammas

Thank the lord my second visit to the job centre passed off without event.

Hawkwind was nowhere to be seen, and I managed to skulk around waiting for my turn without exchanging more than a polite smile with the girl sat next to me.

The woman who sorted out my papers seemed genuinely surprised and delighted by the amount of job-searching I’d done, and didn’t even take offence when I expressed a wish not to see her again soon. And besides, it’s not all doom and gloom in Jobland: I have got a few interesting pots on the boil. I am, however, extremely keen not to put the mockers on anything, so don’t mind me if I keep schtum for now.

Anyway, there are more exciting things to think about right now: next week I have my 20-week scan – the one where they tell you whether it’s a boy or a girl – and you know what? I really can’t wait.

Of course, I’ve been speculating for months. I’m convinced it’s a boy … but then, my mother thought I was a boy right up ‘til the day I was born, so maybe female intuition isn’t a family forte.

The Baby-Daddy is sure it’s a little girl, but I don’t think that’s based on anything except a desire to be the focus of daddy’s little girl’s adoration.

No matter what, it’s fun to hear people’s theories – like if it’s a pointy bump, it’s a boy; if it’s a roundy bump it’s a girl. (Since I haven’t really got much of a bump of any sort yet, I think I’ll be in possession of the scan results before this one comes into its own…)

A friend who’s from East European gypsy stock tells me that if a woman becomes bloated and plain during her pregnancy, it’s because her baby’s a little girl and she’s leeching all the beauty from the mamma. If it’s a boy, he apparently doesn’t need any beauty, so mummy stays yummy throughout.

So far, no one’s tried swinging anything over my stomach or reading my tea leaves, but it’s surely only a matter of time.

And, gender apart, it’s nice that people are interested (even if the sudden petting of my belly was a bit alarming at first) and I can content myself with the study by somebody, somewhere that says 71% of mums-to-be correctly guess the sex of their baby. Plus, the Chinese Gender Predictor, which claims to be 90% accurate, says I’m having a boy. So that’s it.

Come on, little fella!

I have to say I’m hoping that the Baby-Daddy will change his mind and come to the scan, mostly because it’s such a thing of joy that it would be tragic for him to miss out. Slightly more selfishly, I’m hoping it would make everything seem more real to him, with the accompanying hope that he’ll become a bit more supportive.

Still, I can’t complain too much: he definitely seems to be getting his head round the idea … slowly but surely … and even if he doesn’t come good, I’ve got more than enough love to lavish on little Bubba.

Anyway, between now and next Thursday, I’ll be mounting a sweepstake to determine the baby’s sex.

You haven’t got long, so I encourage you to place your bets now. No patting, prodding or manhandling of the bump allowed…

Happy birthday to me

Today’s my birthday, and I must admit I woke with a slight air of gloom about me. I’m not even sure why.

It wasn’t the birthday per se. Although I’ve been ‘adjusting’ my age for a few years now, since I got pregnant the number that defines me has suddenly ceased to matter. Perhaps my head has finally worked out that there are bigger fish to fry.

Anyway, I’m lying in bed with a vaguely Eeyore-ish cloud trying to settle on my head, when I get a call from my mom and my gran, singing me an early-morning birthday chorus. They’re so jolly and daft, I immediately start to feel better. Then I get downstairs to find a birthday cupcake from my housemate, my phone starts pinging with birthday wishes … and the cloud starts to evaporate before my eyes.

And it’s just as well. I really have no reason to be gloomy, because this week has been a special week in the world of pre-natal wonder: I got to hear the bubba’s heartbeat.

Now, if it isn’t your child, I can understand that this might sound underwhelming, but – believe me – when you hear the rapid thunder of tiny horses’ hooves cantering inside your belly, it really is one of the most exciting things in the world.

Of course, I was already besotted with my little being, right from the moment when s/he floated onscreen during my first scan. Although I’d seen scan pictures before, nothing quite prepares you for the fact that this human being in miniature is so tiny yet so perfect … and will bounce around obligingly if you laugh, cough or otherwise agitate yourself.

I squealed like a giddy teenager the first time I got a bewitching glimpse of those tiny little limbs wafting amniotically, and being pregnant suddenly seemed like a reality. I really thought my heart might burst with joy.

It’s hard to believe that, at any one time, there are oodles of women all over the world, experiencing the same thing and yet we’re all managing to walk around quite calmly, as if a miniature miracle were not occurring inside us.

Anyway, you can imagine that, fully occupied with thoughts of the bubba as I am, men have been one of the last things on my mind. Even relations with The Baby-Daddy seem to have reached a tentative truce: he’s still not happy about the situation, but he appears to have stopped waging war.

For my part, I keep a low profile. I suspect that only time and a certain small person are capable of winning him over – both of which are pretty much out of my control. So for now I’m keeping quiet. To be honest, I just feel sorry that he’s missing out on all the excitement.

Anyway, this being my birthday, it seems only natural that I should have to visit the Job Centre, to start my claim for Jobseekers’ Allowance. I’ve been waiting for nearly half an hour when an old boy who looks like he’s been left over from 1978 comes and hovers at my left-hand side.

“Could you move along, please?” he enquires, politely.

I look at the three empty sofas on either side of me. The sofa I’m sitting on has room for three people to my right. But no, Hawkwind has to sit just here, on my left.

I move along without a word. But of course (you can feel it coming, can’t you?) he launches into conversation.

As he burbles on about some self-employed marketing scheme he’s piloted or pioneered or otherwise gained unthinkable glory for, I stare placidly out of the window at the brick wall opposite and wonder exactly what it is that makes me so irresistible to the nutters of this world.

After a few minutes of rambling, I ask him what exactly it is that he markets.

“Non-pacific products!” says Hawkwind, triumphantly.

I assume he means non-specific products – as in, “I don’t really know” – rather than bellicose artefacts, but I limit myself to raising a quizzical eyebrow.

“Yes,” he repeats. “Non-pacific products because, you see, we’re all consumers. It could be you, your parents, your family, your neighbours. Everyone consumes. But of course you have to be consistent. It’s the sort of thing you build up over weeks – months even. Let me give you my card!”

He presents me with a dog-eared card that looks as though it’s done the rounds. It has something scrawled indecipherably on the front in scratchy handwriting, and on the back are two stickers, each with his address on them. After a few more minutes of incoherent but emphatic burbling, I realise he’s trying to sell me the idea of working in this crazy scheme of his.

I don’t like to question the efficacy of this grand scheme. I think the fact that he’s sitting next to me at the Job Centre tells me all I need to know. But I do feel bold enough to decline his kind offer.

He looks momentarily abashed. Then he asks for his card back.

I hand back the dog-eared scrap, as he continues his chatter and I nod and murmur politely, with a smile that’s getting ever weaker.

Suddenly, I someone calls my name. Praise the lord!

“Excuse me,” I say, with a tight smile. “Got to go.”

As I make my way to the appropriate desk, I allow myself a quiet smile. Even though my success rate with men still hovers around zero, and my pregnant state means it’s set to continue that way for the foreseeable future, it’s good to know that, to the nutters from Nuttersville, I remain irresistible.

“Happy birthday to me,” I think. “Happy birthday to me!”