Things that go bump in the night

It’s always when I wake up in the early hours of the morning that The Fear strikes.

No matter how ridiculous the topic, or how illogical the thought process, if there’s something bothering me, you can be sure it will wait by my bedside, ready to pounce when my defences are down. Which is usually in the dead of night – or, more precisely, at 5am, the preferred hour of insomniacs everywhere.

After an incredibly hectic weekend, in which Bub had been incredibly wriggly, dishing out kicks left, right and centre, I’d collapsed into bed ready to play our usual little game of pat-and-kick.

The game goes like this: I pat my belly two or three times, and Bub gives a good old kick in that very spot. And sometimes a few kicks more, for good measure. It’s a fun game, and we’ve taken to playing it most nights, at bedtime.

But last night, Bub wasn’t playing. In fact, he was resolutely silent and immobile in a way he hadn’t been since he properly started his kicking campaign just a week ago.

Convinced he was sleeping, I waited patiently, intermittently prodding the bump and waiting for some sort of response. But nothing. After half an hour, I must admit I was starting to worry just a tiny bit, but I pushed any negative thoughts to the back of my mind and drifted off to sleep.

Until 5am.

Lying groggy and defenceless in the darkness, I was a ready victim for The Fear. And The Fear took no time to trap me in its insidious grasp.

As I lay motionless, I became very aware that Bub was equally motionless. So I jiggled a bit. Nothing. Wobbled my belly. Nothing. Patted and poked the bump. Nothing.

Now, my rational mind told me that everyone has a quiet day – including, presumably, the tiny being in my belly. But The Fear was doing its best to convince me that all sorts of things were wrong, from the mildly unnerving to the downright terrible.

Finally, still fretting in the darkness, I did what any rational soul would do: I grabbed my phone and turned to Google for an answer… and almost immediately laughed out loud.

It turns out there are oodles of ladies out there, all desperately poking and prodding their unborn offspring when the poor little mite has the audacity to keep quiet for five minutes.

Instead of enjoying this moment of calm before the storm of sleep deprivation that will doubtless follow junior’s birth, we’re all there, shaking and wobbling and jiggling our bumps, terrified that the little one’s silence is a portent of doom … when in fact the wee soul is kicking our internal organs, or perhaps just felt like having a day off.

It’s at times like this I wish there were someone lying next to me – though I suppose that two people panicking are really no better than one.

And I’d better get used to it, as I imagine things are destined to be quiet in the romance department for quite some time to come … though hearing the dating traumas of some of my girlfriends, perhaps I should consider it a blessing: I could be forced to climb on stage and sing backing vocals to Mustang Sally at a wake, while my date’s family look on, like the old friend I met for coffee last week. It was only the third date. And, it goes without saying, the last.

Yep, despite the continued flattery of the Divine One – which is all very nice, yet clearly destined to be fruitless – things are graveyard quiet on the romance front. But I can’t complain; at least I’m spared the humiliations, the raised hopes and the inevitable disappointments.

And besides, life is good: Bub is back in fine form, and our game of pat-and-kick has resumed once more. To be honest, I always thought I’d want more from the man in my life, but it turns out that someone who kicks when I pat is pretty much all that I need.


Dark times

Oh dear. Relations with the Baby Daddy have reached an all-time low.

We hadn’t spoken at all for a few weeks, then as soon as we did, we argued. And as a symbolic gesture of our mutual disgust, we’ve even unfriended each other on Facebook. Ai!

To be honest, I’m not sure if he did it or I did it. The unfriending, I mean. I know I’d thought it was a good idea, but I wanted to copy our correspondence first, in case it came in useful later on. As soon as I’d done that, I went to unfriend him, and realised we were no longer friends.

Now I can’t remember if I did it straight after our argument, or he did it the morning after. But I suppose, really, it doesn’t matter. It’s enough to know that we just don’t want to be friends.

Although on the one hand I feel dreadfully sorry about it, on the other hand, it’s a relief. Every time we talk – and by “talk” I mean “chat on Facebook”, for such are the limitations of our communication – we end up arguing, which does neither of us any good.

But even in the cold light of morning, and being as objective as possible, this time I really don’t think I’d said anything inflammatory or provocative. All I’d asked him to do was to read about the birth if he wanted to attend, which doesn’t seem to me like an outrageous request.

Of course, instead of just saying yes, he perceived it as a slight on his good nature and got all upset, telling me that women have given birth alone for years and years and nobody died, so why should I be any different, sitting there with a team of experts around me?

To be honest, I’m not remotely worried about the technical side of things. I’m just petrified that he’d come along and be combative or argumentative while I’m trying to squeeze our little sproglet into the world.

So when I said that I would need whoever was with me to be supportive, he got even more upset. Wasn’t he being supportive?

Umm ….

Anyway, he’ll surely have a perspective that conflicts wildly with mine, in which he’s the hero and I’m the villain, and fair enough to him. There are two sides to every story. But it seems our viewpoints are so very far apart, we haven’t a hope of meeting in the middle.

I really try to understand him, to see the situation from his viewpoint … but he’s not one for sharing his feelings. And he’s so angry with me that he can’t even begin to empathise with my position. He sees the very fact that he’s speaking to me as evidence of his unfailing support. So really, we’re aiming for two different things.

And so, as sad as it sounds, I’d really prefer him not to be at the birth.

Although I’d like Bub to know his daddy right from the start, giving birth is, I imagine, not an easy experience at the best of times. If I’ve got someone taking umbrage at everything I say or do, it’s going to make it a whole lot harder.

I need whoever is with me to be on my side 100%, to forgive me if I curse at them in the heat of the moment, to understand that even though thousands of women give birth every day that doesn’t make it easy, and to soothe my furrowed brow when things get difficult.

In short, I need someone who cares about me, not someone who is so angry with me that they find offence in my every word and deed.

And so, as sad as it makes me, I’d also prefer to cut all contact until the baby is born. I just don’t need the hassle. I’ve got enough to worry about: work, money, accommodation…. I don’t need to add the Baby Daddy to that list.

But it is undeniably sad. I’d hoped that even if we weren’t together as a couple, we could work together to give Bubba a good life, with parents that love him dearly, albeit from two different houses.

Now, I don’t doubt the Baby Daddy’s ability to love his son, but I do doubt our ability to have a peaceful friendship around that. Anyway, there’s no point worrying about it right now. The door is always open and I’m sure we’ll find our equilibrium sooner or later.

The good thing is that little Bub is blissfully unaware of all this. Lazing in his amniotic, temperature-controlled world there are no arguments or discomforts (beyond a slightly tight waistband), just a broadening awareness of his newly developed senses and an umbilical cord for a plaything.

Depending on who you listen to, he’s now around 25cm from head to toe (though I find it hard to believe that anything that big is lurking inside my mini-bump) and is fattening up nicely. If he were to be born in just a fortnight’s time, he’d have a 40% chance of survival.

I’m already incredibly proud of him, and I’m looking forward to being one of those insufferable mothers who’s always banging on about her baby’s brilliance. I’m sure he’ll be a little fighter, just like his mum and, despite the circumstances, I’m equally sure his daddy will love him with all his heart.

He might not have the perfect family life, but he’s going to be one lucky little Bub.

A burgeoning bump and divine intervention

I don’t understand this.

Yesterday my trousers fitted, and today they don’t.

Yesterday, I was still quite comfortably sneaking a pair of thermal long johns under my size 12s. But today, when I slip them on, I fear I’m restricting the flow of oxygen to such a point that I’ll be lucky not to end up on the floor before lunchtime.

Of course, my t-shirts have long been upgraded to ‘comfortable fit’ options, thanks to the almost immediate appearance of the gigantaboobs of pregnancy, but I’d been clinging to the thought that – even at five months pregnant – I was still slinky-hipped enough to wear my own jeans. It seems, however, that my transformation from human to beach ball has begun.

The next day everything’s back to normal. How confusing. Still, I think it may be time to start checking out the maternity section for a pair of pants that will allow me to breathe easily whatever my circumference, and won’t squish Bub just as he’s trying to stretch his tiny little legs.

To be honest, up until now I’ve been quite happy with my diminutive bump. Although I have, on occasion, fretted about its dimensions, on the whole I’ve been grateful to be spared much of the spontaneous tummy-touching that a generous belly seems to attract.

Of course, I don’t mind friends giving Bub an affectionate pat, but when nodding acquaintances start getting in on the act, it can be a bit alarming, especially if the tummy touch is unannounced. My first reaction is to suck my belly in and dive away, but that’s getting a little harder with each month that passes.

The only downside of having a small belly is that I don’t really look very pregnant. Naturally, people who knew me pre-pregnancy can see immediately what’s up, but others just think I ate all the pies – and when your look is more paunchy than pregnant, compliments are few and far between.

Sure, people may tell you that you’re blooming or that pregnancy suits you, but your sexiness rating takes a hard and sustained nosedive. Nobody tells you that you look sexy, mostly because you don’t. (The possible exception to this may be the father of the child you’re carrying, but in my case the less said about that the better.) So imagine my surprise to be on the receiving end of a host of compliments from a dashing young gentleman with the face of an angel and dimples to die for.

Honestly, if I were a few years younger, or he were a few years older, I’d have snapped the Divine One up like an oven-fresh muffin. Tall, dark and exceptionally handsome with a killer smile and – yes, those dimples – this young man is truly gorgeous. He’s also intelligent, erudite and charming. What’s not to like?

But even as I utter the words, “young man” you see the fly in the ointment: at just 25, the Divine One sits on the cusp of the lower of my speciality categories – the under 25s and over 55s.

If I’m honest, I find his attraction to me completely unfathomable; I’m older, wrinklier and rounder … none of which are characteristics a young man tends to look for in his ideal woman. And although he’s endlessly complimentary, I’m still not 100% sure he’s not just having a laugh at my expense.

Still, I’ve decided I’ll take his comments at face value, not least because it makes me feel good. And in the midst of worries about money, accommodation, employment and the Baby Daddy, feeling unreservedly good is a rare commodity to be nurtured and cherished. And even if I find it impossible to see how my increasing circumference qualifies me to be considered attractive, I’m more than happy to accept that someone else does.

Because even if I do say so myself, the fact that I feel like a slightly over-stuffed sausage is absolutely no reason for me to lose my sizzle. So bring on the flattery, Divine One, bring it on…