At 33 weeks I can gratefully say that I’m enjoying my pregnancy. It’s been a really lovely, enjoyable time. My first trimester had me pretty tired but I managed the nausea with copious amounts of raw ginger and regular small meals. I counted my blessings that I wasn’t puking all day long.
At the end of my first trimester and the start of my second, we were on our family holiday in Spain, so I had time to relax, swim and eat glorious fresh fruit and veg. It was the perfect way to ease into my new life.
Upon return to Dublin I immediately took up prenatal yoga and started to relax more and listen to my body. My scan revealed a front-facing placenta, meaning I might not feel any kicks until 22 weeks or so. Little did I know that the tummy rumblings and butterflies were indeed baby making itself known to me but once the kicking started, I realised I was familiar with this odd sensation. How wonderful it was and still is. I’m grateful for every movement, big and small. Every time Bump moves, kicks or elbows me I feel a small thrill, even when it’s 3.30am, especially then.
At 26 weeks
So, at 26 weeks I had gotten used to a regular pattern of movement. I was sitting at my desk and realised Bump was quiet. There hadn’t been any movement for a while. Then I tried to think when I had last felt something. I remembered being in a meeting at 11.30 and a lovely interruption that made me discreetly rub Bump. So I started to panic a little.
It had been a busy morning with lots of movement but I hadn’t felt anything for about four hours. I had a funny stretching feeling in my lower gut. I drank one litre of cold water and lay down on my side, on the chaise longue in the office and waited. Nothing. I texted my BH, who instantly rang. I couldn’t really speak as didn’t want to say the words out loud. Within minutes he was in the office with a plan. He drove me home with our girls and Toby and got me a glass of orange juice, carbonated water and then iced water and demanded I go straight up to bed and lie on my side. He’d been doing his research.
After twenty minutes, he suggested I ring Bitte, my Midwife. She immediately answered the phone and calmly told me I needed to go straight to the Rotunda emergency room for a scan. She told me to remain calm but stressed that it was important we check that everything was okay as soon as possible.
Six minutes later despite rush hour traffic, I was in the emergency room while my BH parked the car and followed a moments later with our girls.
At that stage, the reality hit me and I was shaking and crying but trying my hardest not to in front of the girls. I kept saying I was sure Bump was okay because that’s how I felt, we just needed proof.
I was immediately seen by a midwife. It was less than a five-minute wait. She brought me in and instantly found a strong heartbeat with the Doppler. Relief flooded through my bloodstream and I thought ‘everything is fine’ we can all go home now.
Little did I know that this was only the start, they still needed to rule out other complications including a ruptured placenta, the location of the umbilical cord. The girls’ auntie, who lives in Galway, miraculously happened to be minutes from the hospital. We had met for breakfast that morning and had a great catch up but I didn’t expect to see her so soon. She took the girls for dinner so we could wait for the next step.
This part was endless.
We sat in the waiting room trying to figure out what could be wrong. My BH was better informed. I was afraid to Google anything so just sat there staring at everyone else, wondering what they were doing there.
While we waited, a few women passed through in the early and active stages of labour. They were ready, it was their time. As terrified and tired as they looked, I just wished, hoped and prayed that I would get there too. That it would click into place and everything would be fine.
My BH thought of everything, he kept me hydrated and nourished, even though the last thing I wanted to do was eat, I allowed him to force feed me bananas.
Still no movement and more waiting but at least I knew that Bump’s heartbeat was strong. I swallowed panic. I went from being too hot to too cold to too hot again.
Finally, it was our time. Dr Mohamed welcomed us into his tiny room with a big, broad smile. My voice was shaking so my BH kindly and gently filled him in. He instantly put us at ease with his confident, bright manner. He explained that he would do a scan and we would monitor the heartbeat and position of the baby.
Each scan has had an odd effect on me. I’ve loved seeing our tiny baby on screen, looking full of energy and vitality. This scan was no different. As upset as I was, I was excited to see Bump again. I wasn’t expecting Bump’s position though. Bump was head to bum lying crossways between my hips. The spine was at the front of my tummy. I couldn’t feel anything because the arms and legs were facing the other way, towards my spine.
Dr Mohamed brightly told me that baby was in this odd position and pointed out the tiny vertebrae. I couldn’t find words. My BH could. Dr Mohamed checked the position of the placenta and umbilical cord and reported that all was well and the baby looked safe and comfortable, unlike me! The stretching feeling was because of Bump’s new crossways position.
After much gratitude and we were told we could go home. We got to the car and realised that in our relief and anxiety to get home, we had forgotten my chart which I need to keep with me always. We went back to the lovely Dr Mohamed who had my chart in his hands and was just about to phone us. What a rock star he is. I’m hoping to see him on Christmas Day, if all goes to plan! His calmness, confidence and kindness were so gratefully received.
The rest of the night is a blur. I hugged my brilliantly calm sister-in-law as she left for the later-than-planned trip home and then we snuggled our girls and Toby on the couch before heading to bed with goodnight stories and songs. We weren’t far behind them that night.
I slept the deepest, longest sleep but woke up in tears as I still hadn’t felt movement. My BH put my mind at rest. At around 4am, Bump started to move, then kick and kick. I was so tired I hadn’t woken up but I’m not convinced BH actually got any sleep at all that night with his hand gently resting on my belly, as usual. I was so relieved. He encouraged me to go to my regular pre-natal yoga class so I did.
Certain movements were restricted, such as child’s pose as the baby was still lying crossways between my hips. I was so tired and emotional during that class. I nearly wept during the breathing exercises as I felt the anguish release with each deep straw breath. Then something brilliant happened, during our Vinyasa sequence, as I was lunging and squatting like a ‘goddess’ and Bump moved. It was a very definite movement, into a much more comfortable position for both of us!
After yoga, my gorgeous little family picked me up and we all went to our favourite local brunch spot for what turned into a celebration. The rest of the weekend was a blur of love, hugs, more tears, lots of walks and RELIEF.
I’m lucky to have had my midwife on the other end of the phone and to have our minds put at rest relatively quickly. But it was a huge reminder that even when everything is going great, it can change quickly and I really need to listen to my body.
It’s been six weeks now and I’m less shook and back to normal but every kick is a bonus and I long to be woken up every night by those glorious kicks. I know we’ll never stop worrying, that’s parenthood, but I’m focussing on the positives and trying not to get bogged down in the ‘what ifs’.
Sonia Harris is MD of Harris PR and has been working with Mothercare for over 10 years. She lives in Dublin with her better half, his two little girls and their dog. Sonia is pregnant with her first child and is due Christmas Day. Sure what else would you be doing then?!
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