hey say ignorance is bliss. And where pregnancy is concerned, ‘they’ are absolutely right.
When I had my first three children, back in the pre-smartphone era of Just Getting On With It, I knew three things about pregnancy: you get knocked up, you try not to do anything obviously terrible for your developing child, and nine months later you have a baby. The end.
If you wanted any more detail than that, you had two options.
1) Ask your mum (never a good idea unless you want to feel hugely inadequate, and be told that they managed to grow perfectly healthy babies just by sucking on boiled chicken carcasses, and were grateful for it.)
2) Go to your local bookshop, find the ‘Pregnancy and Birth’ section, generally hidden between Cookery and Self Help and find a copy of whatever was hailed as the pregnancy bible of the day. This was often a decade out of date and contained such hugely helpful information as ‘your baby is now bigger than it was last month. Carry on gestating.’
Nowadays, however, ignorance is not an option. Information is everything. And everywhere. All the time.
Mike is doing what all good, twenty-first century first-time parents do, and is plugged in to every website, forum, Facebook page and Instagram account known to Parentkind. His entire phone memory is taken up with pregnancy information, and, 9 weeks in, he already knows more about the process than I do – even though I’ve done it three times before.
He’s basically a qualified Google-Midwife. Barely a minute passes without an excited, detailed run-down of our baby’s exact dimensions and daily activities, which, somewhat disappointingly, don’t include anything useful like ‘clean the bathroom’ or ‘stop making Mummy sick.’
After crashing my bicycle into a wall last week, while avoiding a daydreaming pedestrian, I thankfully ended up with little more than a concussion. Now that’s wearing off, only to have been replaced by an agonising tooth abscess, caused by excessive grinding. Pregnancymeans I can’t take the antibiotics usually given for such things, and because my family doesn’t know I’m expecting yet, I can’t explain why I’m in such pain but won’t treat it, and keep running to the bathroom to cry/scream/throw up.
To take my mind off it all, Mike is now info-blasting me. And I’m being all Experienced Mum Who Doesn’t Need To Know This.
“It says here that our baby is now the size of a grape, and…“
“What kind of a grape?”
“What’s the point of saying it’s the size of a grape, if they don’t say how big the grape is?”
“I don’t know. Just a grape. An average, grapey-sized grape.”
“What if it’s a really small one?”
“Look I don’t KNOW. Smaller than a melon, bigger than a grain of rice, OK?’
“Fine. Carry on.”
“All the main body parts are developed, and it’s even got tastebuds!”
“Great. So it can taste all the sick it’s making me produce. Anything else I NEED to know about our little grape before my infected jaw explodes?”
Another page swipe. “It’s not an embryo any more – it’s a foetus!”
He leans over and kisses my still flat tummy. “Hello Foetus. It’s your dad here. Sorry your mum tried to smash herself up by cycling into a wall. Hope you’re OK. And sorry I have such a massive nose. Please don’t get my nose.”
It’s quite fun having all this information, in a way. Knowing the baby has ear lobes and hair follicles makes it feel so real, in a way we couldn’t imagine 20 years ago.
And it is helping to take my mind off the tooth pain, sickness and huge pressure of a business launch in two weeks time. I feel I’m close to the limit of what I can take, mentally. But at least we’re settled in a nice house, and can deal with each day as it comes.
Mike hestitates. ‘Oh.’
‘What’s up? The male nose gene is dominant?’
‘No, our landlord wants to move back in. Next month. We need to find somewhere else to live. Like, now.’
Next week: House-hunting with teenagers, for the baby they don’t know about