I lie on the sofa writing this post and the only word I can use to describe how I am feeling is uncomfortable. If I stop to listen to my breathing it feels heavier than usual, a little more breathless than normal and when I stop to think about it, it makes me feel a little lightheaded. My right rib is hurting, more of a constant dull ache with the occasional sharp pain, it is something I have had with all three of my pregnancies and the midwife says it is something to do with the fact I have big babies and they push out my ribcage.
I glance at my reflection in the mirror from time to time and I can only describe the person looking back at me as a little weathered around the edges. I guess two babies and three pregnancies does that to you. My eyes are sunken into my face and I have really dark circles under my eyes. My skin is pale, super pale, due to a lack of iron and being anaemic towards the end of this pregnancy. I’m at the stage where well meaning family and friends say ‘oh you look tired’ with a sympathetic glance. I lie in the bath in the evenings and I watch as my tummy manipulates into the weirdest shapes imaginable- some of them taking my breath away as they are so uncomfy.
Yet I look down at my tummy, with it’s misshapen form and criss crossed blue and purple veins from a skin stretched so tight it is almost translucent, with a belly button that has definitely seen better days, and I want to remember every single moment. I want to remember how my tummy goes so rock hard that I can’t get comfy in the evenings, I want to remember what it feels like to wince a little when they put the needle in my arm to draw blood for my routine blood tests. I want to remember what it feels like to imagine a face you haven’t yet seen before and I want to remember what it feels like to walk through the hospital with my green notes under my arm, smiling at other women who are doing the same. Like we are in some sort of special club together.
The time is coming for my long stay in this beautiful place to be over. I’ve stayed here three times over the last six years and I know how incredibly lucky I am for that. Twenty seven months in total which is a long stay for anyone. From that day way back in late August, when the weather was still warm and our faces were still sun kissed with freckles from the summer months, when I did a pregnancy test and saw those two little lines. And then another one, one of those digital ones, just to read the words pregnant. When we went to the girls christening the next day and I stood in the church with a little secret and prayed with all my might that all would be ok. It’s been one long adventure, at times really long, but soon I will be saying farewell for hopefully an even better and more beautiful time. And yet I can’t help but feel a little sad and sentimental for what I am leaving behind.
I know how incredibly lucky and fortunate I am to be able to be a mother. To be able to have a baby. To grow a baby. I know that and I am thankful for that every single day, even on the days when my children drive me insane and it all feels a little too hard. Even on the days when I put them to bed and collapse on the sofa feeling like I haven’t done a single thing right as their mother that day. I am incredibly thankful that my body has grown two healthy babies and I wish every day for the third one to be the same now we are on the last and final hurdle. I am at the stage now where I am restless, aggravated and unable to concentrate. I lie at night, not wanting to watch television, or blog, or read, yet too uncomfy to fall asleep. I pile pillows around me at night, I cuddle them, put them behind my back and in between my legs, and I just can’t relax into a deep sleep. I just want my baby boy here now, I just want to meet the person I have spent this last nine months wishing every single day for. That overwhelming feeling of loving someone you haven’t even met yet.
But at the same time I feel like I shouldn’t rush these last few weeks. This is the end of my journey. This is the end of my pregnancy days. When I was at my consultant appointment the other day my doctor asked me whether I had thought about being sterilised during my c-section. I had said to him that this will, all being well, definitely be our last baby and he just came out with the question quite casually as apparently it is just a tiny bit more extra work for them during the surgery. ‘Have you thought about being sterilised during your c-section?’ Just like that. When he asked me I felt my heart sink and I don’t even really know why. We always said we would have two children and then we decided just one more if we were lucky enough. I know in my heart of hearts I don’t want four, I know my husband definitely doesn’t want four children, we won’t have four, yet I do feel strangely sentimental about this being the final part of my journey. It just seems so final.
Pregnancy is absolutely amazing. From the second you see those faint lines, when you promise yourself you won’t look until the test is complete, but you know you are kidding yourself and you can’t help but squint to see if they are appearing- you begin this journey. You begin a journey of extreme awareness, fear and gratitude for the amazing ability our bodies have to create and sustain life. You may spend months hunched over a toilet, the cold floor tiles digging into your knees and your eyes watering, with you almost willing yourself to be sick so you can get a break from it for even a minute, but you don’t begrudge it for a single second.
I love the metamorphosis of change that my body has been through to grow and protect my babies. From those first tiny microscopic cells forming, each week my body has been doing remarkable things to grow this baby for me. How our bodies just seem to know what to do, how our tummy expands ready to cocoon our future loves, how we crave the nutrients that our bodies seem to be missing. And those first tiny flutters, the ones where you wonder if you are imagining it, that soon turn into full on kicks. I lie at night and I watch the way our little boy moves around in my tummy, I see it manipulate into weird shapes as his limbs push against my skin. And while hopefully in a few weeks he will be safe in my arms, I know that all of a sudden I may well feel very empty.
Pregnancy is a blessing but it can be a long nine months. I am lucky that I have had a relatively easy time in terms of pregnancy as I know some people have it a lot worse. But I would take the zero energy, the back ache, the sickness and the headaches a million times over. And I know every single mother would. Despite it feeling long at times, it is a very small stretch in a woman’s life when we experience this miracle, this miracle of sharing our bodies and making this little human, full of our genetics and full of our love. My time is nearly up. Not just for this baby but forever.
So in these last few weeks I am enjoying every moment of it, or at least I am trying to. Even the back ache and the extreme tiredness. I am trying to remember exactly how he moves and kicks and stretches to find a little bit more room in his cramped residence, to store it in my memory even though I know inevitably the feeling will fade over time. How I will remember all my babies kicking but not really feeling exactly what it felt like. I am relishing walking into the doctors with my green notes in tow while little old ladies give me a knowing smile as if to say ‘that was me once, I know exactly how you are feeling.’ I am soaking up the times when my husband will put his hand on my tummy and we will laugh at the way it transforms into all manner of shapes, and I am trying not to get too emotional when the girls say ‘Can I give baby boy a kiss?’ knowing that even though there will never be another baby in my tummy to kiss, at least there will, all being well, another one to join us on the outside shortly. And we have a lifetime of kisses ahead of us.
I know how incredibly lucky I am to even be able to experience one, let alone three pregnancies and for that I am eternally grateful. It may soon be the end of my pregnancy journey forever, but what an incredibly beautiful journey it has been. How lucky I am to have been able to grow and birth these little humans that have changed our lives for the better. While in a few weeks it will be the end of this part of our lives, we will have the final piece of our family jigsaw here.
And it will be the start of an even better more beautiful one and all the other ones to come. In the meantime I am going to treasure every single second of this pregnancy, this remarkable, incredible thing my body is doing.
For the last time.