Pregnancy diary: week 32 – “you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139)

This week I’ve been thinking about knitting. It’s not me who’s been doing the knitting – I fear it would take me longer than a 9 month pregnancy to knit even one item of newborn clothing, having not done any since I was a child and having little time for craft these days. Recently we were very kindly given two new cardigans in baby sizes (1 newborn, 1 second size) by Tom’s Nan. She loves knitting, and can whip up garments in no time, even those that are bigger than tiny baby sizes. She, along with two of Tom’s aunts, knitted lots for us when Andrew was born, which was great because he was born in a cold January and needed a woolly top most days, but he grew so quickly, as babies do, that he didn’t get much wear out of each individual jumper/cardigan, so there’s plenty of wear left in them all for our new baby. Since Andrew was born, Tom’s Nan and aunt have also provided us with jumpers and cardigans throughout the year, so we’ve not had to buy any woolly clothes at all, and again there’s plenty of wear left in them for our second child.

2 new white cardies for the newborn (1 first size, 1 second size) and 2 of Andrew's most recent jumpers/cardies, all beautifully knitted.

I know we are very lucky to have such lovely handmade clothes given to us when they would cost a fortune to buy, and it’s also nice to know the person who made them, and know that they were made with our kids specifically in mind. In fact, because we are still being given more hand-knitted garments by Tom’s family for this baby, we’re able to give some away to another family baby, who is due to come into the world 4 weeks before ours. I’m so glad we can share these lovely gifts with another baby who will benefit from gorgeous warm clothes in the winter months. I’m sure the bigger sizes will continue to come in too, as Andrew has also received some bigger jumpers recently that he’s just about growing into. So there will be lots of hand-me-downs in the months and years to come.

Wow! Will the new baby really be that small?! It's hard to remember that my big buster boy was once a delicate little newborn who fitted into something this small.

All these knitted clothes have reminded me of a verse in the Bible which I really love. Psalm 139, verse 13 says:

“For you [God] created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

I’d read this verse before I was even thinking about becoming a mum, but it wasn’t until after I’d given birth to Andrew that these words took on such a strong meaning for me. I remember lying on the hospital bed the night after Andrew was born, just looking at him sleeping peacefully – his little chest moving up and down as he breathed air after so many months of developing his lungs in the womb, his tiny but perfectly formed fingers wrapped around my big index finger, his tiny mouth that instinctually sucked whenever my breast (or anything else!) came near it. It suddenly hit me that this little being had developed from just one cell inside my womb, he had been knit together, all his tiny parts perfectly formed into one body that was now living on its own outside of me. That thought really made the verse in Psalm 139 hit home to me, and I was grateful beyond words to God for giving us this amazing gift of new life. I just lay there in utter amazement, and got not a wink of sleep, but it didn’t matter to me.

I had thought about the verse a couple of times in pregnancy with Andrew, but I don’t think it was until I held him in my arms that I fully grasped what this meant: God had knit Andrew together inside me, and there I was holding this amazing piece of God’s creation. This time in pregnancy, the verse has come to me again a few times; this time I have more of  a sense of what it means to me, because I am constantly reminded every day when I look at Andrew of God’s amazing creation. Already in 19 months he has grown and developed even more; from being that tiny newborn baby fast asleep, he has turned into an active toddler who walks (read: runs) around and is starting to talk words that I understand. He no longer fits in the white cardies in the picture at the start of this post, and is rapidly growing out of the blue ones in the picture too! Conception to birth is one incredible act of knitting, and the finished piece of knitting at birth continues on its journey of growth throughout childhood.

Before I finish, I’d like to share the section of Psalm 139 (verses 13-16) that the verse about being knit together in the womb comes from. This is from The Message translation (a modern take on more traditional translations)….

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me [knit me together] in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.

It’s not just the knowledge that God knit Andrew and this baby together in my womb which I find so amazing – I love the fact that God has a plan for my life and He knows exactly what will happen, in fact he knew before Iwas even born. That is mind-blowingly awesome! And it certainly makes me want to praise God like the person who wrote the Psalm did. Mind-blowing it may be, but I know that it’s true because I have already experienced so much of God at work in my life, even in times when I couldn’t see the plan myself and I was going through difficult times.

Another week down, another bit of growth from bump.

Next week I know I’m going to have to start thinking about packing my hospital bag and getting some things ready at home in case I end up being at home for the birth. Tom has been asking me this week when I’m going to do it! I’m usually the one who gets prepared first out of the two of us, but I think I’m just so busy still, and lacking in energy in times that I do have to myself, that I’ve not got around to it yet. Let’s see if I get around to it this week…..

Pregnancy diary: week 29 – midwife appointment and glucose tolerance test

After our lovely holiday, it’s been hard to get back into the reality of everyday life this week. I felt like I had a good rest, but I guess going back to work and having to do all the usual stuff around the flat have been difficult because I had a nice week without them. I think this is probably partly due to being pregnant, and being more tired than usual anyway. Some people talk about ‘blooming’ in these weeks (about 20-30), but I can’t really say that I feel like I’m blooming. ‘Growing’, yes, but ‘blooming’ suggests something much more positive to me. Not that I want to give the impression that it’s awful being pregnant, it’s just that I don’t think I’m enjoying it as much as some mums say they do. Now that I’m generally not feeling too sick (just in the evenings before bed when I’m really tired, and when I smell food cooking), things are a lot better than before 20 weeks. But still I get tired, I think mainly due to having a toddler to run around after, because I’m sure I feel more tired this time than last!

As I said last week, I was supposed to have a 28-week appointment with the midwife and have my glucose tolerance test last week, but this was impossible as we were a few hundred miles away! So I had these appointments a week late – not that it has to be so precise anyway. You might be wondering what a glucose tolerance test (GTT) is. In our area, all pregnant mums are offered a GTT at about 28 weeks of pregnancy. As far as I can see from some googling, it’s not the same in all parts of the country – in some areas, only ‘at-risk’ mums are tested. At risk of what though? A GTT is used to diagnose gestational diabetes, by checking how your body regulates its blood sugar (glucose) level. Gestational diabetes results when a pregnant mum’s pancreas doesn’t produce enough of the hormone insulin to properly regulate her blood sugar level, when it needs to produce extra to the normal amount once the baby is growing rapidly in the second trimester. If it is left undiagnosed or untreated, both mum and baby are more at risk of complications, a major one being that baby can grow very large and this can cause problems with a natural birth. The condition is usually treated by managing the mum’s diet (including eating less sugar), or, in some cases, insulin injections.

Even if I wasn’t offered this test routinely, I’d probably be offered it anyway, as I have a family history of diabetes. My dad has had diabetes since he was 30, and my mum had gestational diabetes. Thankfully, this is the only factor of increased likelihood of gestational diabetes that I have. Others include: a BMI of over 30; previously given birth to a large baby (9.9 lbs or more); previously had gestational diabetes; family origin with a higher prevalence of diabetes, e.g. South Asian, Middle Eastern, African-Caribbean.

This test is slightly more complicated than the other routine blood tests that I had in early pregnancy. It involved drinking 273ml (precisely!) of Lucozade, and then waiting 1 hour without eating or drinking anything (except water). After this hour, the nurse took a sample of my blood in the usual way (vein in the arm) and sent it off to be analysed. I’m pretty sure this is only the second time in my life that I’ve drunk Lucozade! The first was my GTT when pregnant with Andrew. I can’t stand sweet drinks, and it wasn’t a particularly pleasant experience having to drink it all in one go. But I managed it, and hopefully I won’t have to do it again in this pregnancy.

Wearing my new, very comfy trousers that I got for my birthday. Bump looks like it's growing more week by week now.

Conveniently, I managed to get the nurse appointment for the blood test directly before my midwife appointment. According to the NHS ‘Pregnancy’ book, my midwife should do the following at this check-up: use a tape to measure the size of my uterus; measure my blood pressure and test my urine for protein; offer more blood screening tests; offer my first anti-D treatment if my blood type is rhesus negative. As my blood type is rhesus positive, the last one wasn’t applicable, and also I don’t think I or baby are particularly at risk of other conditions or complications that would be screened for, so I wasn’t offered any more screening tests. The midwife did measure my bump – 28cm, which is bang on the average size for 29 weeks, according to the graph that’s in my notes (I love a good graph, as you’ve probably seen from previous posts). Whilst I was lying on the examination table she also used a little machine to listen to baby’s heartbeat (a probe a bit like the ultrasound scans, but sound only, not pictures), which was 150 beats per minute – that might sound fast, but it’s a good healthy speed for a baby in the womb. My blood pressure and urine were also fine.

We had a chat about various general things, like how I’m feeling and what life is like at the moment being pregnant, working and looking after a toddler. I guess it’s the midwife’s job to tell me to rest whenever I can, but still be active enough. I’d like to think I’m getting a good balance where possible! The topic of where I’d like to give birth also came up, again. She seems very keen on home births. I can understand that as my first labour, which took place in a midwfie-led birth centre rather than the main maternity hospital, was pretty fast and uncomplicated, I’m a good candidate for a home birth this time. I’m still not entirely sold on this prospect, but as I said to her, my current thinking is that I’ll plan to go into the birth centre again, but if it looks like baby is coming even faster than last time, I would probably prefer to stay at home, because I’d rather have a home birth than a ‘car birth’! She gave me a leaflet on home birth, and when I get chance, I’ll sit down and read it properly – from a quick glance I can see that it tells us the kind of things we would need to prepare. Once I’ve thought more about this properly, I’ll write a post about where I’m planning to give birth.

I think that’s covered what my antenatal care was like this week. The next time I see the midwife should be at 34 weeks, so not so much of a big gap between appointments once we’re in the third trimester. Incidentally, just something else I read in the NHS ‘Pregnancy’ book for this stage in pregnancy: it says that if I have young children already, it’s good to talk to them around now about the new baby. I think Andrew is still too young to understand what is going on. I’ve tried to explain to him that there’s a baby in my tummy, even with the 3D photos that we got from the extra scan. But even if he understands the concept, which I’m not sure that he does, I don’t think there’s much I can do to prepare him for what it’s like to live with a newborn baby. There are only 18 months between me and my brother (there’ll be 21 between Andrew and baby), and my parents said that I was too young to really understand what was going on, and I just sort of accepted my brother because I wasn’t old enough to think or do anything much different. I’m hoping this smallish gap will result in the same acceptance for Andrew.

I can’t believe that next week we’ll have reached the big 3-0! That really makes it sound like we’re on the homeward straight. Also, with only 6 weeks left at work, I’m starting to realise that our time as just the three of us is coming to an end, and I’m getting more and more excited about meeting our new addition 🙂