(If your mind didn’t just automatically add the words, “We’re livin’ on a prayer,” to that headline, then I don’t even know how to relate to you, sorry…)

So, it’s 8am on Saturday morning. I’ve just eaten a bar of chocolate, and now I’m lying in bed with my phone pressed to my belly, blasting Taylor Swift to my unborn child, in a bid to make it move. Suddenly, it hits me (Not the baby, a realisation): this is IT, isn’t it? This is what madness feels like, and it’s all going to be downhill from here. There’s a glass of water chilling in the fridge (Because if the chocolate and music don’t work, I’m told that ice cold water will…), the midwife is about to be woken up with a panicked phonecall, and I’ve officially arrived in Crazytown.

I’m scared because I felt the baby move this time yesterday morning, but I haven’t felt it since then, and I have no idea whether that’s normal or not. And this is the problem for us first-timers, isn’t it?

They tell you the baby will develop a pattern of movement… but they don’t tell you when that will happen. I only started feeling what I’m assuming is movement a few days ago: should the pattern have established itself by now, or is it still too early? WHO KNOWS.

They tell you that if you haven’t felt movement in a while, you should eat some chocolate… but they don’t tell you how much to eat, or how soon afterwards you should expect to feel movement. Ditto the ice cold water.

They tell you that if these techniques fail, you should call your midwife… but, again, they don’t tell you at what stage you even need be worrying about this stuff AT ALL. I’ve heard some people say that movement doesn’t become consistent until later in pregnancy, but then again, I’ve heard other people say that any change AT ALL is a cause for huge concern. I’ve been told that those of us with anterior placentas will feel movement later, and that it will be “muffled” by the placenta at first… but I’ve also been told by people with anterior placentas that it doesn’t make the slightest difference, and that they’ve been able to feel their babies move from the moment of conception: so what’s wrong with ME, then?

week 20 pregnancy diaryAnd this is the question that’s been rolling around in my head for this entire pregnancy now: WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME? Why do I seem to be so different from everyone else, even although all of the stats, and all of the medical professionals I’ve seen, tell me that, actually, I’m completely average?

I don’t feel average, though. I feel far, far below average, in just about every respect. Not only did I feel movement so much later than everyone else seems to, I also apparently weigh SO MUCH MORE than everyone else does at my stage, too. Last week I posted a photo on Instagram (Which I later deleted, because I decided I hated it: <insert eyeroll emoji>) and mentioned in the caption that I was bored with maternity wear already: almost immediately, I started getting comments from people who were amazed that I was having to buy it at all, and who wanted me to know that they didn’t buy any maternity clothes, because they were just so teeny-tiny all the way through their pregnancies that they didn’t even need it. 

My first reaction to these comments was to feel a bit depressed to think that, even in pregnancy, being thin is still seen as the normal and desirable way to be. My second reaction, meanwhile, was, “WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME?” Why can’t I leave my house without someone telling me how HYYYOOOOOGGGEE I am, while people who are about to give birth any day are apparently still wearing their normal clothes, and complaining about how loose everything is on them?

(To be fair, I did get one comment on that post from someone telling me I should just give up on clothes altogether, because by the end of the pregnancy not even maternity wear will fit me, and I’ll have to buy an adult onsie. Which was depressing in a different kind of way…)

I know that this is ridiculous, obviously. I know perfectly well that every pregnancy is different, and that there’s absolutely nothing to be gained by comparing myself to other people, but, at the same time, I feel like I’m constantly being invited to do exactly that: either by people who want me to know how much thinner than me they are/were, or by people comparing me to some idea they have in their head of what a pregnant woman SHOULD look like at this stage (Answer: NOT LIKE ME, apparently…)I know I’m being silly, but the frequency of the comments, combined with the shocked tone in which they’re always uttered, makes me feel once more like the odd one out, even although I know I’m not.

Speaking of being the odd one out: none of the supposedly failsafe methods of getting the baby to move worked for me (Just as none of the tried-and-tested ways to stop morning sickness ever worked for me…), but, that afternoon, the baby started moving, and basically didn’t stop for rest of the day. Then the next day? Hardly anything. The day after that, he was super-active again, and that’s been my week, basically: constantly monitoring movements without knowing what counts as “normal” at this stage, and worrying that if there isn’t any kind of pattern to those movements (Other than the “tons of movement one day, very little the next,” one), then how will I know if something’s wrong?

Anyway! Here’s my week 20 report card, for anyone who made it through that massive ramble…

Week 20 Pregnancy Symptoms

NAUSEA. AGAIN.

Yes, this week I gave a not-so-warm welcome to my arch nemesis, nausea. It hasn’t been nearly as bad as it was in the first trimester, thankfully, and so far it’s always disappeared almost as fast as it arrives, so I’m grateful for that, and just keeping everything crossed that it doesn’t get any worse!

SORE HIPS.

I’ve also been having a bit of hip/leg pain when I wake up in the morning: I do have a collection of pregnancy pillows (which I’ll be reviewing soon), but our old bed just wasn’t large enough for them, so I’m hoping the new one (Which I’ll also be talking about soon!) will help with that!

Week 20 Pregnancy Cravings

SALTED PEANUTS.

As with all of my so-called cravings, I’m not really sure if this really counts, but I was reading something about peanut allergies, and how some people believe they’re caused by women not eating nut products during pregnancy. The NHS say that’s not actually true, but by the end of the article, all I could think about was salted peanuts, and how much I wanted some. Unfortunately for me, this was at around 11pm, and we didn’t have any nuts at all in the house, as I had a pretty strong aversion to them during the first trimester (I’m actually not a huge fan of nuts at the best of time, but the very thought of them made me gag in those early weeks!), so we had to get some the next day… by which point the craving had obviously passed. GAH.

Week 20 Pregnancy Purchases

Now that we’re past the halfway mark, we’ve started thinking about all of the many, many things that need to be done or bought before the baby gets here. So far this week, though, everything I’ve bought has been for me (whoops!), because, after proclaiming that I totally wasn’t going to be spending any more money on maternity wear, I … well, I spent more money on maternity wear, basically. Whoops, again.

So far, everything I’ve bought has come from ASOS, and the blame lies entirely with the grey skirt in this post, which wasn’t maternity, but which I had I had lots of other outfit ideas for, all of which I assumed were destined to go un-realised when the waistband of the skirt started feeling a little too tight by the end of the day. I immediately hit up ASOS to find a replacement (Because, obviously at that point I realised I just couldn’t live without a grey skirt in my life…), but alas, the only one they had in stock in my size was only available as part of a two-pack, so OH WELL, I guess that’s TWO new skirts in my life, huh?

To go with that, I also ordered a sensible black sweater, a sensible pink sweater and a not-even-remotely-sensible-but-oh-well-I-bought-it-anyway slogan sweater. Well, the weather IS getting colder: you wouldn’t want me to freeze, would you?

I was also sent this Mama Mio Tummy Rub Butter, along with one of their Push Packs containing some labour room essentials. It’s a little too early for those, obviously, but I have been using the tummy butter, which is designed to help prevent stretch marks. As I mentioned on my Instagram Stories when I was opening this (er, I like to open my mail on Instagram, when I remember, so, you know, follow me there if you want to see some of this stuff arriving…), I don’t have any stretch marks yet, and have read that it can be purely  down to genetics whether you get then or not, but I’m willing to give anything a try, and this stuff smells lovely, and is quite comforting to rub onto the bump at night, so I’ll keep using it and see how I get on.

Prior to this, I’d been using Rosehip Oil, which I got as part of a Shop Skincare beauty box. I liked it too, but, of course, the problem here is that I won’t know whether any of these products are working or not until the stretchmarks either appear or don’t, so I’ll have to report back at the end of the pregnancy!

Week 20 Pregnancy Fears

Other than the continuing movement/no movement obsession, I also had a bit of a scare this week when a press release dropped into my inbox telling me aaaallll about a very serious pregnancy complication that I hadn’t even known I should be worrying about. I started getting pregnancy-related press releases as soon as I announced I was pregnant, and so far it’s been a bit of a double-edged sword, because while some of them are of interest to me (Like the stretch mark cream above, for instance), I feel like others are just using my anxiety to try to either sell me something or get me to write about something, and, at a time when even an innocent comment can send me spiralling into a pit of anxiety, you can imagine what it’s like when someone intentionally tries to scare me.

Because this was a press release, and going for the hard sell, it contained a lot of very frightening statistics, plus phrases like “potentially life-threatening” and “difficult to identify,” and I didn’t read any more than that, because by that point I was underneath my desk, rocking back in forth and weeping. Ironically, the product they were trying to sell is apparently designed to “spare women worry” – LOLOLOLOL! I spent the rest of the day fretting about it, and now have yet another thing to add to my list of worries, so thanks, that brand: I was just thinking that I wasn’t quite worried enough this week!

Aaaaand that was my incredibly lengthy week 20 pregnancy update: now let’s see what week 21 has to offer!

19 Comments
  1. I tried the music thing on and off (Jimmy Eat World and Little Mix mostly) and got nothing. I was convinced I had a deaf baby until he started jumping at slammed doors in the last few weeks.

    I had no movement pattern for a long while and then my pattern was “usually at bed time, after peeing in the night, whenever I had sat down too long at work, mostly on the sofa in the evening.” But it wasn’t rigid and as I worked shifts the times of day changed a lot.

  2. I don’t remember being aware of any pattern of movement until much later. At about 22ish weeks for me it was Christmas and I had a bit of Baileys cheesecake my Mother in law had made. It was just a teeny bit and the baby went crazy. First time that happened and it was bizarre. Much later on when I was moving house and having a very stressful day and the baby didn’t move the only thing that worked was playing my husbands voice (from a voicemail) to the bump. These babies are contrary wee things. I got told I was huge from about 18 weeks. It is a very, very strange thing to have people openly comment on your body and I never found it particularly easy. As for stretch marks I made it to 37 weeks without any and then the next morning they appeared. Who knows? Every baby and every body is completely different.

  3. I think you look just perfect. Not too big, not too small. I understand the obsessing over movement, but it sounds all completely normal. And you are doing great, you deserve a big hug for your courage in the face of your anxiety. (And I have been singing “living on a prayer” in my head since reading the beggining of your post…). And I DID end up in a maternity onesie at the end of my first pregnancy, but not at the end of my second… so either are perfectly OK. I am sending good thoughts and virtual hugs your way…

  4. Movement does increase as the pregnancy advances, but I never found a pattern to it and when I first felt movement it could be days in between feeling it, and you may be the same. It will depend on the baby’s position as well whether you feel it regularly at this stage. Tell people who tell or send you shocking things to **** off.

    You’re doing great x

  5. You are a beautiful pregnant butterfly and anyone who makes you feel like it’s not ok to change shape when you are actively growing a tiny human inside your glorious female body can just go away. You look lovely 🙂

  6. Livin on a praaaaaaaayyyyyyyyer…

    I have nothing to add in terms of how much/how often/how regularly your baby should/might/ought to be moving, but what I will say is that it never fails to amaze me how rude people are to pregnant women. It’s one of the strange things about pregnancy, I suppose – it’s so visible in one way, yet so mysterious; so universal, yet so completely personal and unique.

    I’m wary of commenting on anyone’s bump because a)I don’t know shit – I’m not an obstetrician and b)you don’t know what is going on in that person’s life. I saw a pregnant friend recently who has been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. She found it (understandably) very upsetting and while she doesn’t have to have treatment for it, the very strict diet that she’s on is problematic for her as she has had a troubled relationship with food in the past. Quite understandably, she finds any comment on the size of her bump very upsetting because it’s something she worries about constantly. Another friend had to have a number of growth scans during her pregnancy because her baby seemed to be small, so she found people telling her that her bump was ‘so cute and neat’ upsetting – again, because it was something she was worrying about constantly (just to reassure you – her baby was born at a perfectly average birth weight and is now a perfectly average and boisterous four-year-old)

    I know that you can’t turn off the worry, and you can’t legislate for other people’s behaviour. But you are doing everything – EVERYTHING – you can to have a happy and healthy pregnancy. It might not feel like it all the time, but you’re doing great xx

    1. It really is eye-opening: I mean, I’d heard pregnant friends talk about all of the comments they’d get, but I didn’t realise quite how ubiquitous it was – I feel like literally everyone I meet wants to tell me how gigantic I look! I’d honestly never really considered myself to be particularly lacking in body confidence before (There are things I’d like to change, obviously, but I don’t really obsess about them, so my body has always just been my body, if that makes sense…), and I was obviously aware that my shape would change, so I didn’t imagine I’d find it hard to get this constant running commentary on it, but it’s just SOOO weird and inappropriate, and I never really know what to say to it: it’s like they think I won’t have noticed the giant bump or something!

  7. About getting or showing larger than others…here’s my experience (it’s safe to read): I am 5 feet tall (that’s it, no inches). I had an 8lb 8 oz. baby boy. My gf had a baby girl the same size, only my gf is 5’6″. Said gf went home in pre maternity clothes (from hospital), while I wore mine for 3 months following. You are putting the same size baby in a smaller frame…that’s all it is. I gained too much weight, which was all my own doing. When I get hungry, well, you don’t want to be near me. Add being preggers and …well, you get the idea.
    Just be uniquely YOU, Amber.
    If there’s anything I have learned on this journey it’s that everyone’s story is different and YOU ARE ENOUGH.

  8. You need to buy lots of things for the baby eh? I thought you just put them to sleep in the bottom drawer of a chest of drawers, wrapped in your granny’s shawl…Isn’t that the thing to do these days? 🙂

  9. Amber,
    I’m a long time reader but have never left a comment. I’ve been following your pregnancy posts with delight and lots of empathy because I swear I had the exact same pregnancy. Two things that I hope make you feel just a tiny bit better:
    1. I never noticed a pattern to my baby’s movements. Never. Not even later in pregnancy. Sometimes she was active in the morning, sometimes at night. Some days she bounced around all day and some days I felt nothing. I brought it up in every obgyn appointment and they always said it’s totally normal. Didn’t stop me from obsessing and assuming the worst (I nearly drove my husband insane with my anxiety while I was pregnant). But it was fine. My baby is healthy and still at four months doesn’t have the same activity level every day.
    2. I have generalized anxiety disorder and pregnancy was incredibly triggering for me. We experienced infertility and it took a lot for me to get pregnant so I totally sympathize with how tough it can be in that regard. For me, it is better now that she is here. I worry about her a lot, but actually being able to see her and hold her has helped a lot. Hopefully you will find the same.
    Anyway I’m so happy for you! I would say “enjoy the next few months” but I know how difficult that can be so, well, take it one day at a time and know you have a lot of strangers rooting for you.

    1. Thank you so much! People keep on telling me I’ll worry even more when he’s here, but, as you say, I feel like being able to SEE him, and get instant reassurance will make it at least a little bit easier to deal with: right now I just hate not knowing what’s going on, and my mind just always turns to the absolute worst case scenario!

  10. I just want to say that all your fears are normal and were normal even in my 3rd pregnancy so cut yourself some slack. Also, my first born never stopped moving and my 3rd was a non mover AT ALL…..had me at the ER on more than one occasion…..so yep there’s that. Maybe I am a fellow worrier but each pregnancy made me worry more. Oh and on the clothes thing….don’t give up you will SO wear them again. And enjoy wearing the “maternity” stuff too it’s not forever

  11. My midwife told me they don’t recommend looking for a pattern before 24 weeks. I’m 27 weeks and there still isn’t one. I can’t tell you not to worry because [that would be bad advice and] we all do. Just letting you know you’re not the only one whose foetus doesn’t seem to have a watch.

    1. That’s really good to know, thank you! I had been trying to Google it, but I just kept getting forum threads with other people asking the same question, and I’m always too scared to read those because I know from experience they’ll almost definitely contain horror stories! I’m seeing the midwife next week, though, so hopefully I’ll be able to hear the heartbeat again and get some reassurance from that!

  12. It’s just there is less room to move as the baby gets bigger from 30 weeks depending on how big he is, and that is why there is more awareness of the movements after then. xxx

  13. The movements I felt were coming and going a lot when I first felt them. I would say it was weeks before they were reliable. I don’t know if this is something you tried, but when I wanted to encourage movement (after falling down a few steps…something I managed to do rather a lot) I drank lemonade. The bubbles are supposed to do the trick.

    Oh and I was in maternity clothes very early. I couldn’t fit into my regular clothes after about week 6.

  14. I’m (I think!) about the same body shape as you, size 6 normally and long torso. I was in maternity clothes from 8 weeks on my second pregnancy because nothing I normally wore fit me. It all depends on your bump, you look like a perfect pregnant woman to me. Please try not to listen to comments that make you feel upset (I know how hard it can be to tune them out though)

  15. Fellow pregnant lady (26 weeks) here. People say a lot of dumb things to pregnant women. I swear I’ve had more people comment on the state of my body since I’ve been pregnant than any time before. It sucks. And no two people ever seem to agree on just how they think I should look, so I mostly just ignore them and try not to injure myself by rolling my eyes too hard. The only thing people should be saying to you is, “You look great!”

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