I didn’t feel comfortable doing a social media announcement after everything that had happened. I felt I owed it to twin two to mention him/her whenever I told anyone I was pregnant and putting all that shenanigans on Facebook just didn’t seem right. When I told everyone else I gave a slight back story as to how there was two but now there’s one and he/she is perfect in every way. I pretty much got the same response from everyone. They were so sorry to hear that but at least we have one perfect healthy baby cooking away. I hate telling people awkward stuff. They don’t know how to respond and I don’t really know how to receive said responses. I’m more of a ‘yep, I’m fine’ kind of person when the truth could be far from that.
One of the worst moments for me in all of this is something that when I say it now, is going to sound ridiculous. But it’s still something I vividly remember to this day. It was at my 16 week midwife appointment. It was the first time I was going to see my midwife since the scan at 13 weeks and I wasn’t sure if she’d know the news. Does the hospital update records somewhere that she would later read, turns out, no. My midwife was a lovely lady, always made me feel comfortable. She went even further up in my estimation in the last few weeks of my pregnancy when she asked if I had any questions and would I like to start working on my birth plan. I said no every time to questions and politely declined creating a birth plan because, can you really ever plan for birth?! From what I’d heard it was utter chaos from start to finish and having a plan just seemed like you were failing from the start. Anyway, on this particular day at around 36 weeks she said ‘Stephanie, let me tell you, you are refreshingly normal for a first time Mum. I usually get pages of problems, birth plans coming out of my ears and at least a phone call a week asking the most obscure questions. Your outlook on this pregnancy is something to behold’. I was so smug. I thanked her for her comments, walked out that surgery, called Michael and was like ‘Err… the midwife called me refreshingly normal!’ His response of ‘Well she doesn’t know you very well then does she’ was both hurtful, although somewhat accurate.
I digress, the most upsetting part was when I told her we were down to one twin. She offered her condolences, asked how I was feeling etc. Then she opened my maternity notes. Every page and every piece of paper in there was headed up with the words ‘twin pregnancy’. Every page had two columns. Two columns for measurements, two columns for heartbeats, two columns for just about every reading they could take. She then said ‘do you mind if I change this paperwork to reflect what’s happened so theres no confusion at a later date?’ I of course did the ‘yep, that’s fine’ and she proceeded to cross out in thick black marker any trace of twin two. The columns very quickly become ‘column’. The word ‘twin’ was crossed out and she scribbled down ‘no foetal heartbeat found on twin two at dating scan’. I wanted to grab that marker and shove it up her arse! How dare she scribble out my baby! Could she not get me new maternity notes? I’ll pop these ones in a memory box and wait for a new set. Anything to stop you defacing the most important book I’ve ever owned! I’ve been paying national insurance for 11 years love! I’ve never been to hospital, hardly ever get sick, I deserve a second bloody set of notes, god damn it! In hindsight, she did ask if I minded and the politeness in me burst out before I’d actually thought of what she was going to do and no amount of marker or tip-ex was going to bring twin two back so I just needed to get on with it. She must be involved in situations like this every day of her life. Stop being a melt, O’Connor, I thought and be glad she’s here.
The next few months were lovely. The nausea had gone, I was starting to get a real life bump, my skin and hair were Instagram worthy (minus the filter), we’d started baby shopping, Christmas was around the corner and we’d finally sold our flat! It went on the market when we were in Copenhagen in September and sold it in mid-November. Great – now we just need to find somewhere to live before the baby comes. 6 months? Piece of cake 😉
We viewed about 10 houses in all and every time I came away thinking ‘meh… yeah I could live there, but I’m not obsessed with it’. Then on 10 December we viewed our new home. As soon as we pulled up outside I said to Michael I loved it and whatever we faced inside we could sort. It was on a quiet cul-de-sac, big drive and a front lawn! I don’t know why but I’ve always wanted my own front lawn. I love really stereo-typical Simpson/Family Guy houses and I firmly believe it’s because of the front lawn. I remember as a kid sitting on the front lawn in the sunshine with my dog, Duke, chatting to my Dad whilst he cleaned the car, Mum would bring us out a drink and we’d all chat to the neighbours, the ice cream van would pull up and looking back to that time – life was pretty cushty. I had visions of our little one (maybe one’s in the future) riding their bikes out here whilst Michael is mowing said lawn and I’m shouting ‘lunch is ready’ from the door on a Sunday afternoon. I know, I just read that back to, it’s awfully cringe but that was the ultimate goal.
I got all of that from a sodding front lawn. I really need to get out more.
So we went in. The owners showed us around. They were a couple with a little girl of about 10. They were really helpful, showed us everything we needed to see and answered all of our questions. Their choice of décor left a lot to be desired but who moves to a new house and is completely in love with how the current owners have decorated – hardly ever. We saw past that and that we’d need to put in a new bathroom almost instantly (it had carpet!!!) and we left feeling pleased. We put in an offer of £5k under the asking price and it was accepted the next day. I was so pleased we were moving forwards. We had first time buyers on our flat and the family in our new home were buying a new build, what a simple chain, we thought! We’d be in by January/February at the latest giving us at least 3 months to sort the nursery and bathroom before I pop. Oh how naïve.
Three days before Christmas was our anomaly scan. Like any normal person who’d had bad news last time I was in hospital, I was a tad anxious on the days leading up to it. I’d had 2 midwife appointments since the news and both times the heartbeat was strong which had comforted me a little. As we journeyed back to the same Ante-Natal ward I got a horrible déjà vu feeling that something was up again. I was sure that was normal so I just tried to stay as calm as possible. Up until that waiting room we had both agreed not to find out the gender of the baby. We liked the idea of the element of surprise and the other thing was, we were both totally convinced it was a girl. Friends told me I was carrying like a girl, I had girl-like symptoms (if there is such a thing) and both of my parents were pretty sure too. We’d even started calling the bump ‘Poppy’ or ‘Olivia’ which were our names for a girl. For that reason alone we didn’t want to know. Then it dawned on me. What if it’s not a girl? We’re pretty much booking this foetus into the local brownie unit and buying her a tutu for her first birthday and it could end up coming out with a penis?! What then? We were only half way there and we’d both convinced ourselves it was a girl so what would happen if we did this for another 20 weeks and we got a boy then? Would we be disappointed? Just as we started to discuss this, fairly important subject at length, I heard ‘Stephanie O’Connor…’ and before we knew it I was back on that bed, gel on, waiting for some more ‘news’.
The lady explained how the anomaly scan worked, how she would go quiet for sometimes long periods and it doesn’t mean anything is wrong it’s just that she has to concentrate on the smaller parts of the baby. So away she scanned. The baby looked HUGE! She counted 20 fingers, 20 toes, 2 arms, 2 legs and thankfully – 1 head. Happy days, I thought! Then she started looking into each chamber of this teeny tiny heart. It was incredible. I had no idea up until this point the amount of detail they can find when the baby is still in the womb and better still, if there is a problem, how they can sometimes operate whilst it’s still in there! Sorry, what!? Good job I was laying down. After about 20 minutes she’d completed all her checks and told us that the baby was in good working order and that she had no concerns. PHEW! The relief that came over me at that minute was as if all of my muscles had just relaxed at that very second and I was suddenly floating on a lilo in Jamaica with a cocktail in hand being serenaded by Bob Marley himself without a trouble in the world. If I’m honest, I’d totally forgotten about the gender until she said ‘would you like to know the sex?’ I looked at Michael who said ‘it’s entirely up to you’. I looked back to her and nodded, yes. ‘You’re having a little boy’ she said very calmly. I couldn’t believe my ears. A boy?! What? A real boy? Like an actual boy? OMG – I’m gonna be a soccer Mum! Imagine some kid goes in for a two-footed tackle on him though? I’ll break their face. What about when he has a girlfriend, or worse a wife – what if I don’t like her? All of this is going through my mind whilst I’m still covered in gel. Ridiculous. Although we’ve said we wouldn’t find out again as I’d love the surprise at birth I’m so glad we did for our first as I would’ve definitely started buying dresses!
Christmas was so lovely that year. We told everyone on Christmas day it was a boy. My Dad was gutted we’d found out but also glad as he too was convinced it was a girl! I’m pretty sure my womb got more gifts than I did that Christmas, but I didn’t mind. Technically I own that womb and all its contents so even if I have just been given a pram spiral toy, I’m just going to pretend it’s some Topshop boots – because I can. We split the time between Christmas Eve/Christmas morning at my Dad’s and Christmas lunch and evening at my Mum’s. I was waited on hand and foot and it was bloody wonderful. I took 2 rather long naps, I didn’t wash up, don’t even think I offered, and a drank my body weight in schloer. Both had catered well for a ‘usual wasted by midday-er’ and I don’t even recall missing the blue cheese! It was a nice end to my string of 28 Christmas’s where it was just me and the family. This time next year, it would be v-tech and fisher price galore!
It was on Christmas day that we decided (very last minute) that we’d put a snap of my Christmas bump on Facebook. Loads of people still didn’t know as I’d only really told family and people as I’d seen them so it came as a shock to most. So many well wishes and congratulations came on an already perfect day. It’s one of my favourite pictures of Michael and I as we look so excited for what’s to come but also so clueless as for what’s to come!
Nuggets of Knowledge:
● If, like me, you loved reading your maternity notes and kept thinking ‘I can’t wait to stash this away once the baby is here and show them when they’re older’ I hate to be the barer of bad news hun but that aint gonna happen. The notes are filled in throughout your entire birth (and I mean entire, the detail is mental) and you have to give them to your midwife when she visits you at home when the baby is 5 days old. These are then kept on file at the hospital should you have any further babies they can check back and see if there were any complications previously.
● It’s totally normal for the anomaly scan to have really long silent periods. The checks they have to do are astronomical so best to let them crack on and not ask questions during as I’d imagine they’re concentrating pretty hard.
● There is no such thing as ‘a feeling’ or ‘gender-like symptoms’ or ‘the way you are carrying’ it’s all a load of toosh. The only way you’ll be able to tell what you’re having is if a medical professional shows you a nob or a vag on that screen. Simples.
● If you’re pregnant at Christmas, do eff all. This may be your last chance for a number of years to just sit and enjoy the day.
● If, like many others, you decide to move before the baby comes – be realistic. We thought 6 months was plenty of time from offer being accepted to being in the new place and ready for the baby, turns out – it was not.