A Postcard From Pregnancy - To My Unborn Baby Son

Dear Matthew, 

Which has been your name since we found out at the 20 week scan that you're going to be a boy - I knew it all along! We didn't even have any girl names picked out. I had lots of vivid dreams in early pregnancy where I've called out 'Matthew' to my dream-version of you as a young boy, so it's stuck. 

As I'm sitting here typing this, you're happily kicking away in my tummy (even knocking my laptop off of my lap sometimes!). According to one of the many pregnancy apps on my phone, you're about the size of a musk melon. Finding this fact out today has resulted in this week's latest nickname: Matty Musk Melon. Sorry about that, son... and for all the other other cutesy nicknames I've affectionately assigned to you over the last 35 weeks (in my defence, your daddy calls you Nugget!). I promise I won't ice these names on your 18th birthday cake when you're some strapping, young handsome man that towers above me because you take after your father. 

my positive pregnancy test
The best news ever!
I still can't quite get my head around the fact I'll become a mum next month. I'm ridiculously excited about this! Sometimes I can't believe we've been lucky enough to conceive you at all. We thought we would be trying to conceive for years. Which is why there's about 12 positive pregnancy tests still in my bedside table drawer. I needed to keep checking because I was so astonished! 

Your father, being the sentimental type, has also kept the note I left with my positive digital test back in February, the day after Valentine's day. I left it on my desk, in a small gift bag with your father's name written on it for him to come back to after a night shift and open, while I was getting my bloods taken at the doctors to confirm the pregnancy. Ironically, that was the appointment I had originally booked to further investigate possible infertility. Good timing little one, good timing. 

I'm not sure I'll ever be able to find the words to express how truly fortunate and blessed your father and I felt that day. If he hadn't managed to choke back the tears of happiness when I walked through the front door, I know we would have both stood there crying for ages! I hadn't seen him that happy and overcome with emotion since I said yes to his romantic proposal on Cala 'en Bosch beach over two years ago. You'll be around 9 months old and wearing a little suit, when I walk down the aisle to become his wife. I will have waited 10 years for that day.

Pregnancy Announcement Achievement Unlocked
How we announced to the world that
you were on your way
From the day I found out I was pregnant, I spent the following two weeks obsessively peeing on pregnancy tests to make sure you were still safely in there (that's also why there's so many positive sticks in my drawer). I manage to stop doing this when the sickness kicked in. That was a good enough sign of pregnancy! 

Six weeks in, I had to turn down a job that would have paid me double the wages I was currently on. My sickness was already way beyond normal morning sickness and I wouldn't have even made it out of the front door without throwing up, let alone be able to sit in an office trying to look professional. I was bed-bound for the whole of 1st trimester. I felt like a failure for ages after that and for the first time since turning 16 all them years ago, I was out of work and left with absolutely no income for months before my maternity allowance kicked in. Until then I was completely dependent on your father and your grandmother for everything - it dented my pride, CV and bank balance, but never my ever-growing love for you, little one.    

Unfortunately, the sickness I had, made last year's case of salmonella look like a holiday! It turned out to be hyperemesis. I wasn't shocked that I ended up with this in pregnancy, your grandmother had suffered this herself when pregnant with me, although with her it continued throughout the whole 38 weeks she was pregnant and never let up for even a week. Your grandmother is a strong, stubborn woman (this is where I get it from!) and it is this trait that got her through it, mostly alone too, as your grandfather was at work and she had no one else around to support her. Fortunately for me, I've had close friends and family around me throughout. I'm so grateful to everyone who has had a part in helping me through pregnancy, including the medical professionals who understood hyperemesis and prescribed the anti-emetics I desperately needed.

I want you to know that I never blamed you for any of it. Of course it wasn't your fault! You were our tiny, precious egg that we wanted to be there so much! It is merely the way my body works (or rather, doesn't!) in pregnancy. I won't lie to you and tell you that I enjoyed pregnancy at all between weeks 6-20. They were truly awful and I often felt and looked like I was dying. Your father must have been worried sick seeing me hooked up to IV drips for fluids and vitamins, scooping me off the floor whenever I fainted, cleaning out my puke bucket, helping me shower and rubbing my back when I was throwing up violently and handing me tissues afterwards. 

Your father looked after me so well during such a hard time. He's unbelievably caring, patient and hard working. There was a lot of pressure on him to go to work, earn for us and look after me all at the same time. I don't know how he coped with it, I would have been stressed out of my mind. If he was, he hid it very well and never once complained. He's an amazing man and I have no doubt he will be an amazing father to you. He will always be there for you in any way you need him to be. Even when he's at work overnight, he will be thinking about you, missing you and reminding himself that he's working so hard with the purpose of providing for our little family. He already loves you so much, and you're not even here yet! We both do. Having you to share our lives with, really means the whole world to us. 
13 weeks scan
*waves* Hi there little baby!
My bedside photo, proudly framed

Towards the end of them first horrific months, it was the ultrasound picture of you at 13 weeks sitting in a frame, on my bedside table that got me through it all. I'd worried all through the first 13 weeks that I was starving you because I couldn't keep down any food, prenatal vitamins or even water. My muscles quickly wasted away (it looks like I've never bench pressed, bicep curled or squatted with heavy weights in my entire life), I lost 16lbs during the second month and my ketones were still very high. I even started to fear again that you weren't in there at all, that it was just my hormones playing tricks on me. Perhaps I was just really sick?!

Despite all this, your little body flickered onto the ultrasound monitor at the 13 week scan. It was such a clear image. Your tiny legs wiggling around, your right hand waving at us, your heart beating so strongly. I felt an enormous rush of relief to know that you were OK, thriving in fact! You're certainly a survivor, little one! It became so real at that stage what I was fighting for and what your father was working his butt off for. 

Amazingly I started feeling your little flutters pretty early on too. I like to tell myself that was your way of comforting me after a session of vomiting. You do huge kicks and wiggles nowadays, I'm impressed by how strong you're getting and I know your father loves to feel your movements - sorry that he keeps blowing raspberries to wake you up and poking you via my belly button, which fascinates him now that it sticks out! Your grandparents will no doubt tell you of how I've spent most of my time walking around with my hands firmly placed on my bump, rubbing my tummy proudly and 'protecting' you in crowds when shopping. I even have full blown conversations with you, about food mostly, also baby animals and places we will visit. 

DIY while pregnant
Your mum will buy you a toy tool kit
 so that you can 'help' her with future DIY projects
Pregnancy hasn't been all bad thankfully. I'm fortunate, as for many women with hyperemesis, it doesn't let up at all or it returns in the later stages (I've prepared for that, just in case). By about 15 weeks, we figured out that steak was my safe food. We knew that if I ate that I wouldn't be sick or faint for the rest of the day. There were quite a few incidences of me getting very sick in car parks, the GP surgery or in the middle of the street where either your father or grandmother would swiftly take me off to a pub for a steak and lemonade (my safe drink) to help me recover and keep me out of A&E. 

Nugget Note On Wall
Told you your father is sentimental
 (your grandmother and
 I secretly cried at this when
we saw it on the wall)
About a month later, I managed to refurbish the entire kitchen by relying on this one food (thankfully I'm now back to cooking and eating a wide variety of food!). I made new panels for the food cupboards, re-stained all of the cabinets, picked out new flooring, assembled new table & chairs, and your grandmother repainted the walls. I even finished off some paint work outside and built a cupboard under the stairs! This was nesting at it's best, with the will of a stubborn woman, daughter of a former engineer/draughtsman/woodwork teacher, I needed to prove to myself that I was recovering, getting my strength back slowly and had my uses, despite not going to work.

At the same time, I cleared out a room ready to become your nursery and also added some modifications to your dad's desk (back boards to cover wires, monitor risers, sliding keyboard shelves, you name it and I built it!). Your dad loves his upgraded desk, he deserved it since we had to move it out of the 'Batcave' he had established and into the office downstairs. The room that was the 'Batcave', is currently being extended (not by me! I'm taking it easier these final few weeks!) to become your bedroom. Does this make it the MattCave?
Modified Desk
Daddy's 'Batdesk'
Yes, I will build you a 'MattDesk'. 

I became very well known at the local DIY shop, I bet they're wondering when I'll pop in there with you in my arms, purchasing the pieces of wood I need to build you a giant sand box for the summer. And a toy box on wheels that doubles at a Batmobile (your geeky dad's idea - I just sketch and build these things!). 

After all this DIY, I surprised myself even more by being able to go on the holiday to Menorca which we had booked before I knew I was pregnant. The holiday, much like your conception, was somehow perfectly timed. 

Our babymoon
Our last holiday as a couple,
we can't wait to take you there!
We had a great 11 nights away and even though I was sick a lot in the evenings and mornings, I still managed to eat lots of good food (most of which stayed down), take part in adapted yoga sessions in the morning sun and spend evenings laughing with your father and our holiday friends during pub quizzes at the Irish bar in the harbour (I'm sure he'll take great joy in telling you one day about how his vast knowledge of useless trivia won us first prize one night - two free Sunday roasts!). It was nice to truly relax and recover from all the hard work I'd been doing at home. Your dad certainly enjoyed the break from work too. We bought you some Menorca tops to wear for when we take you to our favourite place in the world away from home. We can't wait to share it with you! 

Despite the building work that's still ongoing, we've pretty much finished nesting. Your father has hoovered out my car (as I can no longer fit in it to drive without squishing you up against the steering wheel), I've assembled your crib in our bedroom and your grandmother has helped me move all the furniture around in our bedroom to create some space. 

Work in progress: the gable extension that will
 be your bedroom. New room for new baby!
One proud daddy-to-be standing right there.
The kitchen, bathroom and office have also been set up to accommodate the various baby paraphernalia (bath, nappies, breast pump, bottles, changing mats etc.) ready for your arrival. Your pram and car seat await. The baby monitor is ready to be plugged in and is set up to a server that your daddy can log in to at night and see your little face whenever he misses you. My hospital bag has been packed (and repacked multiple times) and is waiting under the stairs for that special day. Birthing books are on the bedside table and birth plan has been written and re-written. We're so excited for next month when our lives will change completely, forever. 

Sometimes I sit and wonder what right I have to decide that a whole new person joins the world. It seems like a power only a deity should have (I'm atheist, yet I still think this). I'm not sure if these niggling thoughts are me being a deep thinker, or derived from my former career as a social worker. 

Nesting affects men too!
Your adorable daddy, helping mummy with
her nesting urges and preparing for your arrival.
This is what real men look like by the way.
You see things in social work that make you question everything in life. It makes you feel very grateful for who and what you have around you and even feel guilty for simply being born into circumstances different from another person.  No one chooses when they're born, if they're born, or whom they're born to. Having assessed foster carer applicants and worked closely with adopted children as well as adults who were adopted themselves, it always struck me how lengthy the process is to become a foster carer or adopter is (rightly so), yet there's no test to become a parent. I'm not for a minute saying there should be (this would infringe on the human right to a private, family life), but I guess I'm so used to being assessed, first as a student and then as a professional, and so used to assessing situations and people myself, that it's weird to me for there to have been no examination or observation to determine my capability to be a parent. 

I guess this is my roundabout-the-bushes way of saying, I hope I have made the correct judgement on my own ability to parent you, Matthew. I hope that you'll never feel I've failed you as a parent. I hope you'll always know how much I love, respect and cherish you, as an individual, not just as my child. I have no doubt that I'll make many mistakes over the next few years. I might even learn a thing or two from them! There's no point of me aiming to be a perfect parent (which doesn't exist anyway), I'm just aiming to be good enough. 

I'm excited to watch you grow and develop into a your own person over the years that will follow. I think that's why I still find pregnancy completely unbelievable at times. I don't see you as a baby, a baby is something you'll be for just a short while. I will become sentimental about the precious baby years and I know they'll fly by so quickly. I see you as a growing person, full of so much potential. Who knows who you'll become? What you will achieve in life? What your goals and ambitions will be? What mark you'll make on the planet, no matter how big or small? That's a hell of a lot of potential, growing right there in my womb. Parenting really is an enormous responsibility and I'm so glad I have your dad by my side to share the incredible journey we're about to begin. 

We can't wait to discover over time who you are as an individual, hear your own thoughts and opinions and learn about your likes and dislikes. We hope we can support you throughout your life in any way you need us to, even when there are times when we won't necessarily agree with your choices, we'll still be proud that you feel brave enough to make them. We promise to love you unconditionally, for the rest of our lives and will do anything to protect you. 

We love you so much Matthew and we look forward to welcoming you into our lives, our arms and our hearts. Love always, from your Mummy xxxxx

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