Before and After the Fall

Nothing like a fall to bring you back to your senses. 

It has been an eventful few days. I’ve now stopped at school and we are somewhere between planning the kitchen as the builders arrive in a week or so and finding space in the house to move things around. We are also becoming aware that we are six months pregnant. It is hard to believe, with such a small bump (I am still wearing normal trousers today), but there is a lot to prepare before Peanut arrives, and now is the time for action.

My husband took this week off work as it is my first week off, so on Monday we went into school. We packed the car full of things I needed to bring home and spent all morning there. Admittedly, there were boxes and boxes of Lego, which I have agreed (not at all altruistically) to house for now as there is not enough space in the department. After a quick lunch we went to Ikea, which is an hour away on the edge of the Thames; not the flooded bit. We wanted to do some homework on kitchens and see what we might be choosing, especially as the Magnet showrooms were the current front-runner and I could not believe that we should spend so much (ever my father’s daughter). We had to wait a while for a reluctant and bored assistant to give us advice on the design we’re currently working to and my husband had to get me a chair, as I was exhausted. This has been a theme of my life recently.

We trekked home in the rain (three months of British precipitation means you learn to fine tune your windscreen-wiper skills) and intended to stop at a nice restaurant my brother had recommended on the way into Suffolk. As we got out of the car and headed in at around 8:30, the rain was still beating down and we started to worry that we may not be dressed appropriately.

Then I fell.

My husband said he saw it in slow motion. I remember it being quick – too quick. I tripped on a low step and fell on to my chest and abdomen, not even able to get my hands out quick enough for more than a light grazing and collapsed into the wet gritty path. What had I done? Was Peanut still alive? I certainly couldn’t go in now, and I had lost all my appetite anyway. Nothing made sense or mattered.

We drove home, collecting some fresh pasta to cook on the way. After tea I sat in the toy room. I put the TV on and as the noise started Peanut kicked. I love Peanut so much: a compliant first child with just the right thing to cheer me up. My husband insisted we ring the hospital and make sure everything was ok. I have rhesus negative blood and hadn’t had an anti-D injection, which is what you are Supposed to Have. They said we should go in, and after chatting with a friendly midwife (who laughed all the time) and a remarkably young-looking registrar (who didn’t) and a wait of over an hour in a side room I got my injection. They also tested for a fetal heartbeat and measured the uterus. All was normal. Peanut kept kicking and I couldn’t believe how much I wanted to protect our little baby.

The next day I was scheduled to see my stress counsellor, who I hadn’t had time to see last week, school being too stressful. I tried explaining that school term finishing was a good thing, but wasn’t convinced at the end that the visit was helpful. Neither was my midwife at my check-up later in the day. She measured me (did I really grow half a centimetre overnight?) and we heard the fetal heartbeat again, going at a more measured rate. It turns out that Peanut is swimming in a Lot of Fluid. Where, I cannot say. At certain angles I do not even look pregnant.

My midwife wanted to know how much the baby was kicking and asked me to keep a record. I have discovered that Peanut likes music. A lot. Especially cheesy musical numbers by Cole Porter and Lionel Bart. Well, apparently babies at this stage should kick seven times by seven pm. Ok.

This morning Peanut kicked twenty times before I got out of bed, probably as I was listening to Radio three. Good – now it responds to Liszt and Beethoven as well (I approve). By lunchtime it was kicking so much that I had to start a tally. I realised that Peanut kicks at the end of a cadence. My husband stopped me before I got too scientific.

Anyway, by seven pm there had been At Least 95 definite kicks. And Peanut is still going strong. There was a quiet time this morning when we went to collect some baby equipment from a school colleague and this afternoon as I walked to town and back, but Peanut seems to work long hours.

I now feel like I know Peanut a lot better and that we have some shared experiences. I felt that if the baby had died I had already started to get to know it as a real person with an individual identity. The more I learn about our baby, the more I love it and want to mother it.

Whether it likes Beethoven, Bart or Beyonce.

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