Guys, we have a heartbeat!

(Er, the title of this post kinda gave that away, didn’t it? Now you know why my career as a suspense writer never took off…)

A proper, official heartbeat, as verified by a properly trained midwife, that is: as opposed to the DIY, better-not-tell-the-internet, heartbeat we’ve been picking up on our home doppler for the past few weeks. Ahem. And, I mean, I know it was a bit of a controversial decision at the time, and now that I’ve finally reached a stage where the midwife is happy to listen herself, I won’t be using it any more, but given that there was literally no other support available to me at the time, I honestly don’t know how I’d have gotten through the past couple of weeks without that little bit of reassurance.

It’s been tough, folks.

To put it mildly.

I think a large part of the problem is that I’m a complete basket case I still haven’t felt any definite movement yet. I know that’s totally normal, but people keep on excitedly asking if I can feel the baby move yet, and then recoiling in horror when I say no, and on Tuesday morning I opened up Twitter and the first thing I saw was a conversation between two people at roughly the same stage as me, talking about how awesome it is to feel those baby kicks, so… yeah. No matter how much you read about the “average” time for people to feel movement, it’s hard (read: impossible) not to compare yourself to other people, and end up thinking, “WTF is wrong with me?” Or it is for me, anyway – and I’m not just talking about pregnancy, either.

But anyway!

week 17 pregnancy diaryYesterday morning I had my 18 week midwife appointment. I was super-anxious going into this: not just because I knew she’d be listening to the heartbeat, and I was terrified it wouldn’t be there, but also because I’d gotten it into my head that there would also be another blood test involved, and all of the recent cancer-related medical experiences we’ve had have really triggered my health anxiety, so I was basically convinced that I’d be spending the next few days waiting on bad news. More so than usual, I mean.

Well, there was no blood test: PHEW!

There was, however, a student in the room: GAH.

As soon as I laid eyes on her, sitting in the corner like a Dementor, my heart sank.  (I know you can request not to have students in the room, but we weren’t actually asked, and I was already too worked up to cause a fuss in front of the girl…) This actually happened to me once before, at a counselling appointment, and honestly, having to pour out my innermost thoughts and deepest fears in front of an openly hostile teenager was one of the reasons I never went back. I get that students have to be trained, but it’s hard enough for me to discuss medical issues with one person, let alone having to do it in front of an obviously bored audience (Actually, my mum tells me I was BORN in front of an audience, so you’d think I’d be used to it: one of her last memories as they wheeled her into surgery was of someone calling out, “Hey, anyone want to see a C-section?!”), you know?

It seems, however, that that is to be my fate, so I had to not only expose my deepest, darkest fears (plus my palest, palest stomach) in front of yet another surly teenager, I ALSO had to sheepishly hand over a tube of urine in front of one, too. It was a real ‘Dear Diary’ moment, to be sure, especially given that, just like the last time, the student, a) Looked about 15 years old (I’m seriously not exaggerating, either: these look more like high school students than medical students to me, and they behave like it, too…), and b) obviously just hated her life, and thought it was, like, SO UNFAIR that she was having to sit in a doctor’s office on a nice summer’s day,  listening to some idiot of a woman drone about about her health anxiety. To prove it, she sat with her shoulders slumped, glowering at me the whole time as if it was ALL MY FAULT and I had TOTALLY RUINED HER LIFE, and I know this is totally ridiculous, but by the time we left, I felt so, SO stupid that I kind of wanted to cry a bit.

I didn’t, though, because as I said at the start of this post (Hey, remember the start of this post? I just about do…)…

We heard the heartbeat!

It was very loud, and very strong, and OMG guys, there is an actual BABY in there! Like, a real, live baby! It’s NOT just all of those mashed potatoes I’ve been eating! And, no, none of the various aches and pains I’ve has over the last few weeks have been a sign of something catastrophic happening – phew! It was all very emotional and exciting, but, because my surly teenage audience was looking particularly pissed off at that point, I felt I had to be all British about it, so, rather than leaping up and punching the air, which is what I WANTED to do, I just kind of lay there, going, “Well, isn’t that just marvellous?!” and other things that totally didn’t sound like me. I DID buy a cake afterwards, to celebrate, though: and I will definitely request that there be no teenagers in the room for my next appointment, in a few weeks time, even although I know that makes me a terrible, terrible person, who is hampering the NHS in its bid to educate young minds… or whatever it thinks it’s achieving by allowing bored teenagers to roll their eyes at pregnant ladies.

Week 17 Pregnancy Symptoms:

Er, nothing, really. I’ve had a few random aches and some round ligament pain, and I’ve noticed that my lower back gets quite sore if I sit down for too long in the same position: walking helps with this, though, so we’ve been trying to go out for walks as often as possible. This is proving a bit tricky, unfortunately, as our time is taken up with work, and with visiting Terry’s mum (Who’s doing much better this week, thankfully!), but it does help with the back situation, so I’ll do my best to keep it up.

Week 17 Pregnancy Aversions:

Again, not much, really: in fact, if it wasn’t for the giant bump, and, well, the non-stop anxiety, I’d probably be able to forget that I was pregnant right now: how weird is THAT? I’m still not drinking coffee, but I DID find myself enjoying the smell of it a couple of times this week, which made me panic a bit in that, “OMG, I HAVE LOST MY LAST REMAINING PREGNANCY SYMPTOM, SOUND THE PANIC KLAXON!” kind of way, but, thankfully, hearing the heartbeat has reassured me that the baby can continue to survive even if its idiot mother does quite enjoy the scent of coffee beans again, so I’m trying not to worry too much about it. And, although the smell of freshly brewed coffee did remind me of the days when my biggest worry in life was… all of the many other things I used to worry about in life… the thought of the instant decaf sitting in the cupboard still does absolutely nothing for me, so there IS that…

Week 17 Pregnancy Cravings:

I’m not sure I’d call it a “craving” exactly, because I could definitely live without it, but, if you were to bring me a vat of creamy mashed potatoes, say, I’d probably jump right into it, while making little moaning sounds of pleasure. God, I love me some potatoey goodness…

Week 17 Pregnancy Fears:

Other than the continued, “Why am I the only pregnant woman alive who hasn’t felt a freaking butterfly flap its wings in her stomach?” scenario, the newest entry to the worry files this week is the state of the bumpy, bumpy roads where we live. You don’t really realise quite how bumpy roads are until you’re pregnant, and while I’m pretty sure I can drive over a speed bump without, like, having the baby just drop out of my body or something, I bet I’m not the first person to wonder if that’s possible.


  1. With my first I didn’t feel anything till I was was 17 or 18 weeks and only when I lay down in a quiet room and really concentrated. My placenta was anterior which can also mean movement is felt later. Maybe yours is too.

      1. I was 22 weeks before I felt anything that I was certain was a baby. And don’t panic if you don’t feel anything again for a bit. It was several days after that glorious moment before I felt the baby again. The baby is now 6 and perfectly healthy. It’ll be okay.

  2. Hurrah for hearing the heartbeat – it’s the most magical thing, isn’t it! Our first baby is due in 2.5 weeks (eeek!!) and I have his/her heartbeat recorded on my phone and like to listen back to it on a fairly regular basis. On the subject of trainee midwives/medical students in the room, it’s your complete right to say you don’t want medical students at any of your appointments or when you give birth. Just mention it to your midwife if you’re not comfortable, or maybe ask if it can be put on your notes that you don’t want any extra people there? 😊

    1. Yeah, I know, it was just that we weren’t asked in advance, so I’d literally have had to walk into the room and announce in front of the girl that I didn’t want her there. I get so worked up about medical appointments that I just can’t assert myself with stuff like that, which is why I’m going to speak to the midwife privately and ask that it not happen again! (The first time it happened, they asked me in front of the student if I was OK with it, and I was already such a bag of nerves that I didn’t feel I could say no – I really feel they should have a better way of dealing with that situation, so you’re not put on the spot with it!)

      1. Just a thought: I work in a Med school so really didn’t want any students at my obstetrics appointments as didn’t want to bump into them in the corridor / have to lecture to them in future! If you feel strongly about this it’s worth putting it on your birth plan when it gets to that point so you don’t have the same situation again.

        I felt no movements at all until 21 weeks. She’s now 2 and moves a lot! Wishing you all the v best.

  3. Aw so pleased you have heard the heartbeat. My midwife didn’t check at my 18 week appointment (she is absolutely rubbish though) so we won’t officially hear it until the 20 week scan on Wednesday. You can absolutely request for no students, I personally don’t mind who is there but some people don’t want them in the room and it is absolutely normal to request it. Keep going love, love to you and Terry x

  4. Different babies get excited and moving for different things, and some move less than others and that is TOTALLY normal. My first baby moved when I ate, she must have liked the sugar. My second moved when I was hungry (get me food, woman!). Maybe yours moves when you move, so you’ll feel it a bit later because of that… hugs to double you

    1. Oh it does actually move – it was moving all the time when we were listening to it, it’s just that I can’t feel it for some reason 🙁

  5. Yaaaaay heartbeat! I found that super reassuring and REALLY REAL in a magical and very confusing way because I too felt nothing until 18 weeks (and very little even then – it intensified after the 20 week mark). And boooooo surly students! Because I was having a home birth the midwife asked if a student could come as it was valuable and rare experience. I said yes because a part of me thought the more medical professionals held hostage in my mum’s living room, the better… as it happened, the imagined surly student turned out to be a really lovely woman undergoing a career change in her 50s with 5 kids of her own, 3 of which had been born at home! So I couldn’t have asked for a more experienced, positive support. She held my hand and sent me a congratulations card later. So while I hope you can avoid the stress of any more students if any more DO show up, I hope they’re as nice as Caroline was (7 years ago on Monday and even though I really kind of busy at the time I still remember her name and her smile!).

    1. I’m definitely going to ask for no one other than the necessary people to be present at any future appointments: I know they won’t all be horrible, but having extra people (even if they’re nice!) really stresses me out, and makes me reluctant to speak up about things that are worrying me etc, so I think I’d feel a lot happier without students!

  6. I hardly felt my little girl. Like ever. Felt her for the first time at 20 weeks and it was a “was that actually a kick” moment. She was dubbed Lazybub for that reason. She had me at the emergency room more than once because I was convinced she had erm….died in utero. And FYI this was not my first pregnancy it was my 3rd and she uNike her brothers who were 4 weeks early had no major desire to be born either and was the most chilled out infant ever in spite of her anxiety ridden mom

  7. 1) CONGRATULATIONS!!! Hearing the heartbeat is so exciting.

    2) I also just realized that you will be having the baby around the same time I had mine (albeit a year apart). It made me want to snuggle my little guy exta <3

  8. I would be really upset if the doctor didn’t ask my permission to have someone else in on my exam. I had some medical stuff happen over the winter that involved taking my pants off in front of lots of doctors (nothing pregnancy related and I’m totally fine now) and there was a student at one of the exams. The doctor asked if it was ok to have her in there and it was a confident “no” from me. I felt bad for a hot minute, but then decided that I’ve got the right to my body and privacy and I wouldn’t feel bad about asserting that. At least the intern for mine wasn’t glowering at me!

    Congrats on hearing the official heartbeat!

    1. I totally agree! I just assumed Terry had given permission for it (I was in the bathroom when we were called in), so I didn’t like to make a fuss – it wasn’t until afterwards that he told me he wasn’t asked either, which really surprised me!

  9. woohoo! A medically official heartbeat , that’s wonderful. I’m glad you don’t have any other symptoms and it seems like the second trimester is going exactly as expected.

  10. OMG I would not be OK with someone in the room besides my doctor, I hardly like it when the nurse comes in. I am very closed off when it comes to medical things, and having an “audience” as you described would also make me feel very uncomfortable. I first felt my baby move at 19 weeks I believe, so your time is coming! I want to type “you must not worry so much”, but I know that is absolutely no help, given that I am a worrying mess myself even though all my blood tests have been normal and the ultrasound appointments have all proved perfect health for baby and I. Its natural to worry! All you can do it stay calm and do what you can to be healthy!

  11. No, that’s not right that you weren’t asked. And I get that it would’ve made you just feel plain awkward about asking her not to be there. They should’ve asked you first and given you some reassurance that it wasn’t *you* they were observing, it was the process. I teach English as a Foreign Language to pay the bills and if I’m ever observed by a senior member of staff then I check with the student/s first and then let them know it’s *me* who’s under observation, not them. How much more personal is this!

    We’re all different and on the few occasions I’ve needed medical help I’ve been happy enough for an observer to be there. But I do remember going to see my GP once when I was suffering from insomnia and as a result was feeling pretty low. The doctor was a locus and not only did he prescribe Prozac for a lack of sleep (I didn’t know what it was at the time but found out once I’d got it from the chemist, and now it’s on my medical record!), but there was an unmanned camera set up as soon as I walked into the surgery. He asked if it was okay to film the consultation and I said no in no uncertain terms. (By the way when I went to see my real doctor a couple of weeks later she prescribed me a few acupuncture sessions which worked a treat!)

    Nice to hear the heartbeat though! Looking forward to reading if it’s a boy or a girl. 🙂

    1. Oh, I know it’s not me they’re there to observe – it was me she spent all of her time glaring at, though, so it just made me feel really uncomfortable!

  12. YAY again!!!!!!

    There was also a medical student at my appointment; I didn’t mind and she was very nice but I would have been furious if I hadn’t been asked for my permission!

  13. I felt no movement until 24 weeks. People don’t seem to realise how much pressure they put on you when they ask that question. I also have to call b******t on the majority of people who say they felt the baby really early on, the need to be winning the imaginary mother/baby competition is ridiculous.

    I actually felt very little throughout my entire pregnancy which scared me terribly (especially after three miscarriages). I had a teeny bump and most people didn’t even realise I was pregnant. Turns out my little bump was holding a bigger baby than expected and so she didn’t have any space to move about in there.

  14. Georgia went to her gynecologist once a month for a scan and a check up, during that time she went to a private doctor in a private hospital for a scan she paid for (100 euros) …. wait for it, every week!!
    Who’s the basket case now ? 😀

  15. You are NOT a terrible person, for every person who doesn’t want a student present for whatever reason, there will be people who don’t care and will let them sit in. You don’t want that and it’s fine, it’s your care, your decision. So glad you heard a good strong heartbeat, it’s magical isn’t it 🙂

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