As the belly gets bigger
Jas: “It’s official. I cannot see my feet anymore.” Being a bloke, I was obviously not able to experience much of how pregnancy affects the body. On this occasion I (kind of) could, so I stood behind Jas, put my head on her shoulder – as though she had grown another head - and peered down through her now-impressive cleavage, and searched for something with toes on the end of them. “Wow. You’re right. That big round bit is in the way!”
Pregnant bellies are like hand magnets. Bulbous body parts rarely attract attention in public, but when there’s a baby encased within them, different story. It’s as though touching the bump brings good luck, Buddha-like. The problem is, sometimes this attention is uninvited, as Jas realised one evening out, when a waitress couldn’t resist touching Jas’ belly. Jas looked as though the waitress had spilled a tray of drinks on her, rather than a friendly frontal fondle.
Jas was starting to become used to regular internal jabbing. Rather than jumping in her seat, she’d started to calmly respond to the punches and kicks with an “Ooh, hello”, as though the little one had awoken and was looking up for a little attention. During some (very) early mornings, Jas had started waking me - rather abruptly - when the baby started moving about, by grabbing my hand and quickly pulling it to place it on the source of wriggling, in the hope I would experience some contact with our bub, even though I was very happily and deeply asleep, and even though my arm really couldn’t bend in three places. But then the wriggling would stop! Frustration – at being awoken and missing out on the baby aerobics. However, one morning I was finally rewarded by the slightly spooky yet amazing sensation of foetal movement, like something stretching, or trying to half-heartedly push itself out through Jas’ skin. It was quite a moment.
We visited Nan and showed her the scans from week 12. Her first reaction was: “Its head’s big!” Nan is always delightfully direct. It did indeed have an inordinately large head, no doubt to contain the burgeoning intelligence it had inherited from its parents. Nan was also amazed to see a picture of an unborn child. Her first sight of a fresh baby was when she was fifteen and her twin brothers were born: when the first came out, the midwife thrust him into nans’ arms and told her to hold it, still covered in fluid.
Jas went for another scan, in the hope our delightfully obedient child would cooperate with Ms Ultrasound. He did! I wasn’t there, and mum gratefully went in my place. He/she posed for some lovely profile shots, to which Ms Ultrasound pointed out – somewhat inevitably – that he/she had “quite a nose”. If our child had a prominent proboscis at age minus 5 months, things weren’t looking up for our first born having a cute little button between its blue eyes.
I didn’t think there was a form of shopping that was more frustrating than shoe shopping with ones’ wife. There is. The array of options available for prams/buggies/strollers/perambulators/baby transport devices is overwhelming. The permutations of weight, number of wheels, suspension, collapsibility, age range, braking systems, materials, seating style, seating angle, seating switch-ability, storage, shade covers, rain covers, storage covers, wipe-ability (!), drink holders, add-ons, add-ins, and of course price, was too much to absorb in one Oxford Street outing. At one point our lawn mower seemed like a marvellous option. In our third baby department store for the day, during a pram dismantling demonstration – which looked a bit like a shop assistant having a disagreement with a sleepy Transformer - I began drifting off to a happy place, and started to think where the nearest pub might be.
The only thing we bought were tea cakes for the train trip home.
The Clothing Crunch
As the boobs and belly grow in pregnancy, there is the sudden issue of diminished wardrobe options as clothes become too small. The process of a female dressing typically involves a great deal of decision making, trying to pick from a huge array of clothes a combination that enhances her curves. In the second trimester, dressing involves a great deal of searching through a huge array of clothes for something that will actually encase her curves. Pants no longer come all the way up; tops no longer come down.
But is this just a female issue? Ooooh, no. What begins as an innocent “Can I borrow an old T-shirt to sleep in?” swiftly escalates into free-for-all clothing poaching. I should have read the signs, when my old shorts went missing. Then, when Jas told me over the phone that my tracksuit pants were “really comfortable”, I went briefly silent as realisation dawned. “You mean my favourite striped ones with the fleecy lining?” “Yes, they’re nice and snuffy”, she said cheerfully, as though nothing was wrong. An old T-shirt was fine, but my favourite trackies? Feebly, I said: “But they’re mine.” I might as well have been standing alone on a beach and kindly asking the tide if it could stay out until further notice. My small wardrobe had melded into Jas’, and I was then in the unusual position of encouraging Jas to go clothes shopping. It was probably all an elaborate ploy.