August, 2011

Aug 11

Week 27 – and in the home stretch

BabyCentre facts
Baby’s weight – around 875g; about as heavy as a head of cauliflower
Length – 36.6cms, head to heel


Two trimesters down, one to go.

In less than three months baby Strong is due to make his appearance – alternatively I could say 12 weeks on Monday, but that sounds terrifyingly imminent.

And things really do feel like they are happening now.

For a start, our little man is on a major growth spurt – my sides and stomach are being seriously stretched and his kicks have transitioned from little flutters to more forceful movements.

All this activity has got me worrying about my stamina when it comes to D-day (I am an exercise-phobe and a weakling), so in the last two weeks I have taken up swimming in a big way.

To be honest, it hasn’t been difficult to find motivation – if I thought Madrid was hot in August anyway, walking/waddling around in 38 degrees is something else when you are pregnant.

So after work every day I am battling my way through splashing children and paddling old ladies in a quest to rack up some lengths in our outdoor pool.

I have also borrowed a pregnancy yoga DVD from a very fit friend and on cooler days am attempting to contort myself and my bump into a series of helpful positions – let’s just say, it’s a work in progress.

I suppose the big news this week is that we are flying to the UK for our final visit before the birth. After this I will be grounded.

I can’t wait to go back; it will be my last chance to see my family and friends before November and Chris and I will also – finally – begin nesting stage 1.

We have decided to buy our baby furniture in the UK this weekend – it’s cheaper and there is a lot more choice. So in a matter of weeks, our spare room will be transformed into a proper nursery (at the moment the only tell-tale sign of its future function is a small collection of clothes in the wardrobe). I have never been more excited about bedding and plastic baths.

The majority of our 11 day stay in England, Chris will be at the Reading Festival, so I will be hitting the roads in our hire car and thoroughly immersing myself in all things baby. That includes a pampering day at a spa with best friend Lisa – a necessary ritual for all pregnant women – and a series of shopping sprees in Mamas and Papas, Baby Next and however many other shops my swollen feet will carry me to.

Let the nesting commence!

Aug 11

Week 25 – the six month scan

BabyCentre facts
Baby’s weight – around 660g; about the same as the average swede
Length – 34.6cms, head to heel


Seemingly overnight I have succumbed to ‘the pregnancy brain’.

I was absolutely 100 per cent sure that my six-month scan was on August 4th; I told everyone, lined up Skype dates to show off the new pics and took some time off work.

I had also decided to arrive at the hospital early and undergo two blood tests for diabetes, thinking that the scan afterwards would be a lovely reward after a horrible hour at the blood clinic.

Well I was right about one thing – it was a horrible hour. I am terrible with needles, and having to wait around for 60 minutes after taking a drink so sugary my teeth hurt, seemed like a cruel torture.

But I bravely did the tests without running from the building – I had to keep telling myself, if I can’t have a tiny amount of blood work done, then I am REALLY going to struggle down the line – and headed off for my appointment.

Which, as it turned out, was the day before. What’s more, I had an appointment card with the correct date in my purse, and had also written it down in my diary. This does not bode well for my future as a multi-tasking mother.

Perhaps used to this level of forgetfulness in mums-to-be, the nurse gave me an appointment the following morning, on the 5th. So back we went to the hospital.

It was of course 100 per cent worth the return journey.

The six-month scan showed our healthy little boy kicking around quite happily at a good weight and size. He is already taking after Chris in one respect – he seems to have the large Strong head. But unlike his father, our baby came over all camera shy and would not be cooperative and turn around when it came to having his picture taken. As Chris put it, he looks a bit like a little old man with a funny eye in our scan video.

After our appointment, I asked if Chris and I could take a look around the maternity ward to get an idea of where we would be coming and what to expect.

And I am so glad I did. We knew it would be nice, after all Crown Princess Letizia had her daughters there, but we were really impressed. From my arrival, I will be given a big private room with an ensuite which will either have patio doors out into the garden, or a balcony. No dilation room for us. The room will be ours both before and after the baby arrives and we will be able to bring home comforts in with us, from music to a bottle of champagne.

We met a lovely midwife called Gema – since we share the same name, she said she thinks it is fate we will be teamed together come November – who also gave us a look inside the delivery room. Obviously empty at the time.

So from imagining a noisy, busy sterile maternity ward, I now know I will be having my baby in a flower-filled, friendly environment which has made me feel relaxed and happy about what is inevitably going to be a terrifying experience. The room is bigger than our bedroom – I certainly won’t mind staying!

Anyway, my next visit to the hospital will be the seven-month scan on September 2nd. Don’t worry, I have just double-checked.

Aug 11

It’s a boy!

On June 6, Chris and I found out we were expecting a baby boy.

It seems to be common practice in the UK to choose not to find out the sex of your unborn child – the majority of my UK friends wanted it to be a surprise and decided to wait until D-day.

That is not the case in Madrid. Generally speaking, all mums-to-be are told the sex of their baby at the four-month scan – one friend specifically requested that she not be told, only for the doctor to then repeatedly refer to her child as a ‘chica’.

Cultural differences aside, we wanted to find out whether we were having a little boy or a little girl as soon as we could.

From my point of view, it was all about bonding. Having decided to have our first baby on our own in a different country – an increasingly brave decision I have realised – I wanted to connect with my child from the outset. And the best way to do that was to find out whether it was a he or a she.

Until that point, my baby had been a slightly expanding tummy, severe nausea and extreme tiredness. Now he was a tiny little person, my little man.

Chris’ motivation for finding out the sex was different – and it seemed to have something to do with his Lego collection in the loft.

As one of three boys himself, he had his heart set on building dens and bringing his own childhood back to life.

He would of course have been delighted if we were expecting a daughter, but having a son has given him the perfect excuse to recapture some of his own misspent youth. Had our child been a little girl, it’s safe to assume she would have been signed up to rugby classes regardless.

I talk to our baby everyday – particularly now he is in the kicking stages – and knowing that he is a little boy makes that a much more personal experience.

It has also made shopping a whole lot easier. Not that I am going down the blue/pink route, but being able to decorate the nursery and pick out tiny outfits with my son in mind is a wonderful feeling.

So in a little over three months, we will welcome our little boy. And I am so excited to meet him. Yes, I could have waited to find out the sex and kept it as a surprise, but I think becoming a first-time mum on that day will be surprise enough.

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