20 February 2011, by Tan Yi Lin
This Wednesday marks the 14th week of my pregnancy.
In other words, I will cross over from the traditionally “risky” first trimester into the supposedly safer second tri.
Congratulations, little baby – you have bloomed from a bunch of cells in the embryonic stage into a full fledged foetus.
I’ve looked forward to making it into the “safety zone” for the past three months and count every day and every week that brings me closer to being there.
For one, everybody tells me that the second tri will be the best part of the pregnancy. The fatigue will miraculously lift, energy levels will return to pre-pregnancy levels and I can look forward to being all happy and shiny and radiant. Well, we’ll see.
More importantly, the risk of miscarriage – which is at the highest during the first eight weeks of pregnancy – is significantly lower in the second tri as the pregnancy stabilises.
But I can’t help but wonder – how safe is it on the other side of the line? Crossing the line doesn’t magically exonerate you from the chances of unfortunate incidents happening. Miscarriages still do happen anywhere at four, five or even six months of pregnancy.
We learnt the hard way while traveling in South America in 2009 that danger knows no borders – the evil hand of misfortune can still reach over the line, into the safety zone and grab you by the neck. Or in this case, our camera. While wandering around the historic old city of La Candeleria in Bogota – the capital of Colombia – one peaceful afternoon, we spotted a church further uphill painted in a captivating combination of white and yellow, looking fantastically photogenic against the clear blue sky. Walking up to it, we realised that the church sat on the other side of a main road that marked the border between the police-laden safety zone that we were staying in – and the squatter-filled hillside. We naively thought that we would be safe if we didn’t cross the line and removed our cameras from our pockets to snap photographs of the church and the view of the city from the hillside. Within seconds, Dannie was surrounded and jumped upon by three youths who snatched his camera and ran off into the squatters. Even though the camera wrist strap was looped around his wrist, it snapped under the force of the struggle and we lost our brand new camera for good.
Another example of toeing the line that attempts to separates you from danger: getting from the MRT station to my office every morning – and vice versa in the evenings – involves jaywalking. True, I could consider using the pedestrian crossing located further down the road but that would involve quite a bit of backtracking. As I teeter on the road divider – either on a curb or a painted white line – I just hope and pray that danger in the form of a speeding car won’t cross my safety line and hit me. (Okay, writing this out actually makes me realise how dangerous this is – I think I’ll use the pedestrian crossing tomorrow.)
As you can see, I don’t have much confidence in the barriers that mark the safety zone. So I’m keeping my fingers crossed that all will be well in the coming months.
Looking back on the first 14 weeks, my pregnancy has been rather uneventful – which is something I’m immensely grateful for.
I haven’t seen a spot of blood. I haven’t puked at all. My skin is behaving very well without any sign of the Pimple Festival arriving on my face anytime soon (although I may have to attribute this to regular facials by Daisy, my skin therapist.) I haven’t woken up with any strange food cravings in the middle of the night (which Dan should be more thankful for than I.) I’m still not put off by any food or strong smells that pregnant women traditionally cannot stand (like fish or chicken rice – in fact, I like them both more than ever.) My appetite is amazingly healthy and hunger pangs are easily fixed simply by walking across to Maxwell, Amoy and Chinatown from my office. Except for the occasional crankiness due to fatigue, I must say that my temper has been pretty good (if you don’t believe me, ask Dan!)
The main complaints I have are indigestion and heartburn caused by gastric reflux. Although painful and incredibly annoying, I’ve learnt how to decrease chances of these happening by switching to non-spicy and non-fried dishes such as fish ball noodle soup or porridge. Thank goodness I’m not a fan of chilli anyway and that I do enjoy “plain” food like that. I also avoid coffee (which I don’t take regularly anyway), tea (I do miss my teh si peng) and chocolate as these seem to aggravate the situation. Amazingly, the baby has been quite cooperative and doesn’t crave for chocolate – which I used to like very much but now don’t feel like eating at all. When the pain gets really bad, I counteract it with a dose of Eno (the ginger flavour works best) and try to sleep sitting up (which isn’t difficult when you’re so damn tired.)
The other main complaint I have is having to put up with some of the things people say in relation to the pregnancy. The key gripe are smarter-than-thou mothers who dispense “advice” such as “Pregnancy is the easy part. Just wait till the baby arrives”, “you will know how hard having a baby is in a few months”, “you will know once you are a mother like me”, blah blah blah. Or “I hope seeing my kid has not turned you off motherhood” (look, even if your child’s behaviour scared the crap out of me, I’m not giving up the baby okay?), “Do you want a boy or a girl?” (FYI, unlike how you can select male or female guppies for your aquarium, you can’t choose the sex of your baby. Also not the best question to ask given how hard we have been trying for a child), etc etc. The ultimate worst I got was from a guy at work who commented in the lift, “How are things with the baby going? You look like you have put on weight. Have you been exercising?” This was the same guy who asked me, “IVF? You mean you can’t do it the normal way?” Back then, I thought it wasn’t possible for anything worse to come out of his mouth. He proved me wrong with the comment about my weight.
Believe it or not, a physically uneventful pregnancy can actually wreck mental turmoil on a pregnant woman. Nausea and vomiting, although unpleasant, can be reassuring of the fact that you are – and still are – pregnant. At this stage, I still don’t feel any foetal movements – which is normal. Going through life feeling un-pregnant even though you were when you last checked at the hospital (which can be a good four to five weeks ago) can make you feel really insecure as you wonder whether there really is a baby growing in you. Besides obsessively scrutinising yourself in the mirror every day for that hint of a baby bump (when will it ever get bigger?) and checking if your boobs have grown, there really isn’t anything you can do to reassure yourself except to wait in anticipation for the next scheduled scan.
There have been so many things to learn during these first three months. Firstly, I’ve learnt how to count. I didn’t know that you started counting how pregnant you are starting from the date of your last menstrual period. So for the first few weeks, I was totally confused as to how I could have been scheduled for a scan “at six weeks” when it had only been four weeks since the date of the embryo transfer. Since then, I’ve been tracking the growth of the baby through MaybeBaby’s pregnancy calculator as well as other pregnancy applications that you can download to your iPhone – and the development of the baby is just amazing. There’s so much going on inside there that you don’t see or feel just yet. Then there are other new wondrous things to discover – like bra extension hooks (that literally save your life by letting you breathe more easily instead of yanking at your bra 56 times a day cos it’s suffocating you), the Bella Band and your husband’s leggings.
In fact, I have so much to talk about on the topic of shopping (which girl doesn’t?) that I promise I’ll explain more in another entry.
Especially the leggings bit (to save Dan’s reputation as well.)