And just like that, I’ve reached the halfway point in my pregnancy! Time is well and truly speeding up. This month, SO MANY exciting things happened that I want to share with you. From starting the baby’s nursery, to our first hospital appointments, to feeling those sweet baby kicks for the very first time (from the outside!), here’s everything that went down in weeks 17-20.
Bumpdate: Weeks 17-20
After spending the last few weeks road tripping across California, I was happy to be back home. While I was away, the nesting urge had begun to kick in and all I wanted to do was clean and organise the house. Umm hello, where did this person come from? I’m pretty sure that an imposter Rachel came back from the States because that does not sound like me AT ALL. The fridge and pantry were really bothering me – I just needed to clean and sort through them.
I also felt the urge to start the nursery, to get a sweet little nest set up for our babe. Our spare room is currently home to all manner of random things that don’t have a home. All the boxes we’d dumped at our parents’ houses before moving to Berlin five years ago were piled in the corner of the room. They’d got so sick of hoarding them after all this time that they dumped them back with us. Fair play. So I started to clean it all out. It was a big, BIG job. You don’t want to know how many trips I made to the Salvos with donations. Insane. But it’s done now and it feels like a space that’s ready to become a nursery.
So… I gave myself permission to start shopping! I had the cot and mattress delivered, ordered the dresser (which will double as change table) and started to shop for decor. I had to have this beautiful macrame wall hanging and my dear friend Emma gifted me the sweetest little dreamer print from her collection. I don’t like big, bold colours so the space is going to be very gender neutral and calming. I plan to do a full nursery reveal in a few months once it’s all done.
Something INCREDIBLY EXCITING happened at 17 weeks 3 days: I felt the baby kick for the first time! Like, from the outside with my hand on my belly. Woah. I’d been feeling twitches, bubbles and gentle nudges for about a week and now I knew for sure that those sensations were baby kicks! I had to press my belly pretty firmly to be able to feel them but feel them I did. It made me smile so widely. From this point onwards, it seemed as though they were getting stronger every single day. I couldn’t wait until Ben got home from America so that he could feel them too.
Remember in my last bumpdate how I mentioned that my back had been killing me in the USA? Now that I was home and sleeping in my own bed again, it was feeling a lot better but it was still tight and I was paranoid about it flaring up again. I booked in to see a women’s health physiotherapist a few days after I flew home. She did an assessment on me and found that not only was I still a bit misaligned but that I also had some weakness in my left glute which was loading up my back. After a much-needed (painful!) massage, I went home with some strengthening exercises and stretches. When I next went in a week later, it had improved so much and was pretty much back to normal.
In this next appointment we checked how my pelvic floor muscles were working via ultrasound. As soon as she put the wand over my pelvic area, baby popped onto the screen to say hello! It was such an amazing, unexpected surprise. I could tell that he/she was so much bigger since our last scan at 12 weeks which felt like approximately 784 years ago. Obviously, the physio was there to look at my pelvic floor, not the baby, so I only got a sneak peek but it totally made my day. My pelvic floor muscles are looking pretty good but could be a little stronger so I’ve got to remember to do my Kegels.
At 19 weeks and 2 days we were sitting on the couch after dinner and the baby started up the nightly dance party (afternoons and evenings are always the most active). I grabbed Ben’s hand, shoved it on my belly and he felt a kick! His eyes grew so wide and he stared back at me. ‘Woah. Now it feels real. There’s a baby in there!’ Yep. It’s really happening.
A few days later, we headed in to the Royal Women’s Hospital for our very first appointment. I was so excited! The last time I was here was when we lost our last baby. I remember lying in recovery hoping that the next time I’d be here it’d be for a happy reason. And that wish came true. Fast forward six months and here we were, back again. I just felt so unbelievably grateful. I was rewriting my story. Sitting in the waiting room, I sat back and soaked it all in. This was not something I could take for granted. Not one moment.
This first appointment was my intake appointment and was with a midwife. It was quite lengthy and involved taking down all of my medical history, going through past scans and tests and chatting about what my pregnancy care would look like. I very much wanted midwife-based care, which is why this hospital perfectly suited us. I was able to get into the MIST care group (Midwives in Small Teams), which I’m so happy about. I’ll see the same small group of midwives for all my pregnancy appointments and then at least one of them will be there for the birth. Having that familiar face without having to go down the road of a private obstetrician (they scare me) feels so right.
A couple of days after this we had our big 20-week ultrasound. This is the most detailed scan you have in your pregnancy. Because the baby is so developed already, they check its complete anatomy. They look at every organ and the way its formed, check the blood flow in the baby, the cord and the placenta and basically look for anything that appears abnormal. Unlike the 12-week scan, I felt pretty calm heading into this one. I could feel the baby moving around inside me so I knew it was growing and was alive. Baby kicks are so reassuring in that way!
From the look of things, everything seemed to be growing and developing well. It took over an hour to do the scan – it was that comprehensive. The baby was curled up in a crazy, yoga pose with the feet stretched all the way over the head so I had to get up and move around to get it to change positions. So funny! We’ve got a little gymnast in there for sure. The technician seemed to be spending a LOT of time looking at the heart, which did worry us slightly. When we got the doctor’s report afterwards though, everything was perfectly normal. Amazing.
The only point of concern is that I have a low-lying placenta. It’s touching my cervix, although isn’t over it. I now need to have another scan at 32 weeks to check that it has moved up. In the vast majority of cases it moves up with the uterus as it expands. I think there’s only a 0.5% chance it won’t so I’m not worried! Worst case scenario though, it it doesn’t move, I’ll have to have a Caesarean. Ideally I don’t want to end up on the operating table but the main thing is that both baby and I stay safe and healthy.
Later this week, Ben and I headed back to the Royal Women’s Hospital for my 20-week appointment with an obstetrician. It was all very quick and straightforward. He reviewed all of my tests and reports and booked me in for my 32 week ultrasound. I also got my referral for the glucose tolerance test which I’m having at 26 weeks. We also got to hear the baby’s heartbeat with a doppler for the first time! Usually in the ultrasounds, we just see it, we don’t hear it. So that was pretty special. What a beautiful, beautiful sound.
I’ve got to say though that I so much prefer seeing the midwives vs the obstetricians. The midwives just have such a lovely, caring manner and they have all the time in the world for you. It was just different with the OB. It didn’t really like his manner and it was a really quick appointment. I just felt so much more at ease with the midwives so I was hoping that I could see them for most of my pregnancy care. Thankfully, the OB said I could! I was worried I might have to see the doctors more regularly since I tested high-risk for pre-eclampsia. But nope, the midwives will monitor everything. I think I only have one more appointment with a doctor towards the end and my small team of midwives will take care of the rest. Such a relief.
This week I started to delve into my big stack of pregnancy, birth and baby books. The first one I started with Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and devoured it. Women are conditioned to feel so much fear and anxiety around giving birth and this book works at removing all of those negative emotions. I found it so completely empowering and it really shifted both my perception and expectations surrounding birth. All I feel now is excitement about our baby’s birth day.
I also began prenatal yoga classes at nearby Kundalini House. I’ve been practising yoga for years but wanted something a bit more tailored to pregnancy. I am in love with the prenatal program here. The yoga teacher is also a doula and the class focuses on connecting with your baby, breathing, relaxation and active birth techniques. It’s also so lovely to be surrounded by other pregnant mamas, all at different stages. I leave feeling so completely calm and in tune with my body and my baby.
And that’s it for month five! It was SUCH a good month. I’m so excited for the next one.
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