You know how, back in ye olden days, women who were about to give birth would basically just withdraw from society for a few weeks, and stay in bed, attended only by their ladies-in-waiting, or whatever?

(Er, now that I actually write that down, I’m thinking it was maybe just queens that did this? Like, the “ladies-in-waiting” bit kind of gives it away, doesn’t it? Oh whatever: I’m sure I saw it on The Tudors, so it HAS to be true, right?)

Who do I speak to about that, do you think? Because, guys, I pretty much just want to retire from society now – and I think society would probably thank me for it, given that I am one grumpy biatch right now. Like, the next person to touch my belly while going, “OMG, it’s HYYUUGGE!” gets it, not even joking.

Seriously, though: not only am I permanently exhausted, and not exactly bringing my A-game right now, I also suspect I’m not the greatest company, on account of the fact that the approaching birth, and everything that comes with it, has started to occupy my every waking thought. So, Terry will say something like, “Hey, did you see the news about ?” and I’ll just be all, “BREAST PADS. I need to buy breast pads!”

Cute, Amber: real cute. Also, I apologise in advance to the friends who are coming round for dinner tomorrow, although luckily one of them is currently even MORE pregnant than I am, so I’m sure they’ll understand if I start muttering about breast pads before falling asleep standing up or something.

Here’s what week 33 has looked like…

week 33 pregnancy diary: baby clothes hanging on railWeek 33 Pregnancy Appointments

The big event of this week was what will hopefully be my final scan, which I had yesterday morning. This was just a routine growth scan, which I’m getting on account of my “advanced maternal age,” and I’m happy to report that baby boy is measuring just fine: well, I mean, the sonographer actually said, “completely average,” and I was a bit, “How dare you call my son “AVERAGE?!” but no, average is totally fine by me.

Because I’m at a relatively late stage in the pregnancy now (I was 33 weeks 6 days when the scan was done), there’s actually not much to see: the baby’s head is so far down that I thought I was going to have to whip my jeans off at one point, to let the sonographer get a good look, and he’s also big enough now (Around 4 pounds 11, apparently…) that his head alone takes up the full screen of the ultrasound, so we didn’t get a photo this time, or even a really good look at anything other than his little hands and feet (“He looks like a puppy lying on its back,” was Terry’s observation…), but they were very cute little hands and feet, so it’s all good.

(Or, at least, I THINK it is: this particular sonographer was very quiet, and didn’t really have much to say other than that she was happy with the measurements: which is exactly what we wanted to hear, obviously, but all of the other sonographers we’ve seen have talked us through everything they were doing/looking at, so I found the silence pretty unnerving, although it did give me ample time to consider the radiator hanging at ceiling level in the room we were in. Like, how did it get there? How do you change the temperature controls on it? So many questions…)

This week I also had another counselling appointment, and started doing some hypnobirthing. Honestly? I’m a little bit scared to admit it, because most people seem to present hypnobirthing as some kind of miracle cure for anxiety, but…I’m not really loving it. I don’t know… Terry reckons I’m just too much of a cynic for this kind of thing to work for me, but I find all of the positive affirmations etc really cringey, and I’ve always found that TELLING myself I feel calm doesn’t ACTUALLY make me feel calm, so I think I’m failing at hypnobirthing, guys – only me, right?

With that said, I also have to admit that I find it really, really hard to concentrate on stuff like this: to be totally honest, I just get so bored with any kind of “mindfulness” technique that I struggle to stay focused on it, and end up thinking about whatever it is I was trying to stop myself worrying about in the first place. I’m pretty sure that’s NOT what I’m supposed to be doing, though, so, yeah – must try harder, I guess.

Week 33 Pregnancy Symptoms

Honestly, I’ve been feeling pretty OK this week: yes, I’m still so uncomfortable at night (restless legs, mainly: GOD) that I’m not really sleeping very well (Which is good preparation for what’s to come, I guess, although every time I wake up at 5am and can’t get back to sleep, all of those, “BETTER SLEEP WHILE YOU CAN!” comments start circling through my mind, and make me hate myself a little bit for being SO! WIDE! AWAKE!) but if being uncomfortable is the worst the 3rd trimester has to throw at me, I’ll be very happy with that.

(I am REALLY uncomfortable a lot of the time, though: people are very kind, and are always offering me their seats etc, but the truth is that I can’t really sit ANYWHERE for any length of time without wanting to weep…)

Oh, and also? THE CLUMSY. As in, I AM SO CLUMSY. I wasn’t actually sure if I could reasonably describe this as a “pregnancy symptom” as such, given that I’m ALWAYS pretty clumsy, really, but this week I’ve dropped almost everything I’ve tried to pick up, which is bad even for me. This does not bode well for life with a newborn…

Week 33 Pregnancy Preparations:

Biggest news first here: WE BOUGHT A NEW CAR. FINALLY.

(If you’re new here, and are wondering what the hell this has to do with my  pregnancy: our existing car is a 2-seater, so, as much as we love it, it’s not going to be much use to us with a baby, really.)

This is good news, because, at one point last week, I found myself saying to Terry, “You know, if the baby came NOW, I think we’d actually be pretty well prepared, really!” and then I had to remind myself that, actually, if the baby came NOW, we wouldn’t even be able to bring him home from the hospital: whoops.

Assuming that this doesn’t turn into yet another ‘Shed Man’ scenario, the new car is hopefully being delivered tomorrow, at which point all we’ll need is the car seat to go in it (Which has been “on its way” for a while now, apparently…), and I think we’ll be good to go. We haven’t actually sold the old car yet (It needs some work before we can do that), but we decided we couldn’t really wait any longer to cross this one off the list, so at least it’s one less thing to think about.

(I’m not-so-secretly hoping that we NEVER sell the old car, because God, I love that car. Maybe we’ll win the lottery, though, and not have to sell it to pay for the new one? Note to self: start playing the lottery…)

In other news, now that the nursery is finally finished, I spent a chunk of Sunday afternoon unpacking all of the baby clothes/blankets etc, and putting them into the closet and dresser:

closet in baby's nursery

(Yes, the Ikea drawer units are very securely attached to the wall, so no, he can’t pull them down on top of himself!)

I actually found this really emotional: I’m finding that, the further I get through this pregnancy, the more anxious I get – I guess I just feel like there’s so much to lose at this point, and when I look at all of the little baby clothes hanging there, they kind of make me want to cry. I just can’t even imagine having a real little baby to dress in those clothes, and I worry so much about something happening to him that I sometimes find it hard looking into the nursery, or handling the little clothes and toys. Anxiety is a bitch, huh?

Still, my need to be organised meant that I had to get this done, emotional or not, and, while I was at it, I also filled the changing bag with the things I’ll be taking to hospital for the baby. I suspect I’ve probably done this ridiculously early, but people will insist on telling me that I could go into labour at ANY SECOND, really, and it’s freaked me out to the point that I just wanted to be prepared.

So, now I am. Hey, I wonder what I’ll do with myself for the next FIVE WEEKS?

[My pregnancy diary: week 8 onwards]

16 Comments
  1. I haven’t tried hypnobirthing (I’m only 19 and have never been pregnant) but I’m with you on the mindfulness and affirmations stuff. Although I try to be open minded and give everything that might help with my anxiety a shot, my mind races far too much for that. I’ve started yoga and at the end of the class we do some relaxation/meditation, my body relaxes just fine but my mind wanders as much as it always does! Anxiety is indeed a bit of bitch.

    Only five weeks to go! Your little man will be here any second now! I’d say something comforting like “just relax, everything will be ok” but if my experience is anything to go by, these comments will not help you much at all and they might even bother you. So instead I’m going to say that whatever happens you have all the love and support I can possibly send you through the internet. Best wishes!

    1. Ah, thank you so much for understanding! And I’m actually quite relieved to know I’m not the only one who feels like this about mindfulness stuff – I feel like I’m always being advised to try yoga (Which is also presented as some kind of miracle cure for anxiety), but I always find it quite stressful because I get so bored by it that I just start thinking about all of the things I could be doing instead: like, why am I spending time trying to balance on one leg when my house needs cleaning and I’ve a huge pile of work waiting to be done?!

      1. I’ve also started taking yoga to help with my general mental state. I don’t think it’s cured me by any means but I do like because it allows me to do some short and light but still all around good workout- which being a college student with couch potato tendencies I desperately need as I spend 90% of my time between my desk and my bed. I can get my mind to shut up a little doing yoga, mostly because it’s very hard to focus on something else while trying to breathe when everything hurts and you’re bent in inhumane ways. It’s not a magical fix to my problems but I’ll take anything that helps even just a little bit for a little bit of time, at this point

    2. Same here. We do the same at the end of our yoga class, and I find it impossible to think nothing. I’m constantly thinking about something all day long, I can’t just turn that off. I even have to tell myself stories to be able to sleep.

      Anyway: Hang in there, Amber, you’re doing great!

  2. I am so impressed that you have your hospital bag packed. I don’t and now thinking that I am cutting it fine (4 weeks on Friday is our date). I loved your nursery tour, ours will be finished on Monday with the fitting of the carpet and building of all the furniture so I will be madly unpacking on Tuesday to try and be as organised as I want to be

  3. It’s definitely not just you who finds mindfulness a chore. I especially find it weird when I have Health Anxiety, so telling me to “focus on your breathing” tends to devolve to: “focus on my breathing, right okay. Wow that feels weird. Should that feel weird? Does my chest always expand like that? Why does it hurt a little on the right, is that normal or asthma or lung cancer? I’m going to assume lung cancer even though I expressly know that’s NOT a symptom of lung cancer but also maybe it would be, just for me? And should my breath by rasping in my throat like that?” and by the end of it I’m far less relaxed than I was before I began. I’ve never tried hypnobirthing as am sans-children, but I’m certain it would result in the exact same issue, so I feel for you!

    1. This is EXACTLY ME. I think focusing on breathing is probably a really, really bad thing to tell people with HA to do! And yes, “chore” is exactly the right word – people keep telling me how much they loved it, and couldn’t wait to do it every day, but I keep putting it off – if honestly rather just read a book or something to wind down 😩

  4. Well, speaking as someone who suffers both anxiety and loves yoga, I’ve never found it helpful for that unfortunately (but it does make me feel fit and physically healthy). I think it helps some people, but I’d warrant they’re not prone to feeling anxious themselves and that’s why it works (I’m sure the yoga people on IG I follow wouldn’t be happy to hear me say so!). My feelings on it can be compared to what my doctor said about Evening Primrose oil – it probably won’t help your pre-menstrual emotions, but it’s great for your skin.

    Incidentally, it may be unpopular to say so, but plenty of people find housework to be relaxing in itself, since there’s the luxury of knowing your home is tidy and organised afterwards. Whenever a meme of a “get a life – stop dusting!” comes round FB it strikes me as a bit high and mighty.

    1. I’ve actually been considering writing a blog post/rant about this – I’m SO sick of seeing people imply that people who have clean houses, or who iron their clothes or whatever, must have no life: er, no, we just like things clean!

  5. Finally someone else that doesn’t get on with mindfulness! I feel like I’ve been told to do it every time I go to the doctor for any health problem in the past few years – it’s really the new ‘thing’ isn’t it? And I have to say being told to do mindfulness to help chronic pain (thankfully gone now, but back then very much live and kicking), was just the most stupid advice I’ve ever been given. That’s right, get yourself into a calm frame of mind where you forget about everything when you want to tear the offending body part off of yourself – SO EASY. I’ve tried it several times and it’s utterly useless for me. As you say, whatever was bothering me in the first place inevitably worms its way back into the process, thus defeating the point entirely.

    1. That’s right, get yourself into a calm frame of mind where you forget about everything when you want to tear the offending body part off of yourself – SO EASY.

      EXACTLY! And, for me, when I lie down, that’s when the baby wakes up – last time I did it, the hypnobirthing track was telling me how calm he would be feeling, and how much he would be enjoying this special relaxation with me, and the whole time it felt like he was trying to fight his way out of my stomach! Then he got hiccups. So, yeah, I can relax my OWN body, as instructed, but I don’t have much control over his!

  6. Besides teaching, I also do some contract work as a music therapist and it is common understanding (at least in the music therapy world) that mindfulness and relaxation exercises (like those found in shavasana-the end of yoga class, hypnotherapy, rhythmic breathing and meditation) are not helpful to all people with anxiety and for some people even make their anxiety worse. Interventions (the medical term for exercises or tasks done to help with a symptom, illness or disorder) should always be tailored to the individual because one size doesn’t fit all. So you are completely normal!

  7. To feel any benefit from mindfulness my experience is that you need a really great teacher who is doing the meditation with you, live. I’ve had a couple of outstanding teachers, so my experience with them has been great and as I am apparently very suggestible (and gullible lol) the visual/aural/olfactory sensations I’ve had are quite profound and very joyful, never mind relaxing.

    The voice is very important, it must be calm and loving and lead you in the meditation. Then your own mind goes on a journey.

    As to the breathing, I think you might be breathing in suddenly and harshly which would explain the symptoms you experience. It should be gentle slow and protracted, making it easier to do, especially if you sub-vocalise counting in and out. That disturbs your thoughts. But there’s no problem in letting your mind wander and just “observe” your thoughts, you can still be relaxed doing this. If you do manage to clear your mind of thoughts, as soon as you are aware of it, it’s gone.

    Only five weeks to go, they will both drag and fly past. But then the fun begins. My favourite parenting theory is the “good enough patent” theory which insists you don’t need to be a perfect parent, that’s impossible, just a good enough parent and you will be.

  8. Therapist here! As someone who uses mindfulness in her practice, I’ll admit to feeling exactly the way you do for a long time (and often still). For me, the only way I personally benefit friend the formal exercises is to be the one reading the script. If you’re struggling with feeling like you “can’t do it right,” then maybe the exercises you’re doing aren’t the right ones for you?

    With anxiety, I like to have my clients start outside of your body. Notice what you can with you five senses (sight, smell, blah blah blah). Name things, describe them. You’re a writer, use those skills. Be in THAT moment for a bit.

    And if all else fails, watch this: https://youtu.be/92i5m3tV5XY

    But there are also other ways to

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