Pregnancy and birth

Seventeen weeks

Sorry that this weekly update is a few days late – I’ve been feeling rough and just couldn’t be bothered doing much.  Without further ado, here’s what the Huggies website has to say about the babies’ development at this stage:

Your baby is growing so quickly. Just in the last two weeks its weight has doubled and from its head to its bottom measures around 13 centimetres.

Your baby is still ultra skinny, with skin stretched tautly over its little body. Blood vessels which are supplying your baby with oxygenated blood, are visible through its translucent skin. If you measure your own heart rate (feel your inner wrist on the thumb side) and double it, this will give you an idea of your baby’s heart rate.

Your baby has legs that seem almost disproportionate to the rest of its body. They are longer than its arms and are flexed at the knees and the ankles.  Calcium has started depositing in its little bones so keep up the dairy foods in your own diet.

It is obvious on ultrasound at this stage, what sex your baby is.  If it is a girl, her ovaries will contain all of the eggs she will have in her lifetime; around 3 million of them.  If your baby is a boy, his testicles are still sitting high up in his abdomen.  Tiny nipples are starting to become visible on your baby’s chest wall.

Your baby’s primary, baby or deciduous teeth have formed in their gums and will play an important role in their oral development.  Small amounts of fluoride which you are having in your drinking water will help form strong enamel on these and their permanent teeth.

Your baby can yawn, stretch and make facial grimaces.  It is still sleeping a lot but will have periods where it just wants to move and exercise those muscles.

Your baby is forming fingerprints now. No two individuals have the same fingerprints and this is one of the truly unique markers which separate your little baby from anyone else’s.

The babies may be moving and exercising their muscles, but I still can’t feel them – apparently, I’ve got two pretty thick placentas cushioning the blows.  I should start feeling them within the next couple of weeks, which will be unutterably weird.

We’re due to have our anatomy scan on the 7th of September, at which point we’ll find out who I’m carrying.  We had always intended to find out the babies’ genders, but I asked friends on Facebook whether they had found out with their unborn children, and why.  It was fascinating to read about the rationale behind not finding out, in particular – to divide the ‘didn’t find out’ people into three camps, they seemed to be:

  1. People who really wanted a surprise, and never found out with any of their children.
  2. People who really wanted a surprise with their first child, but then wanted to know what was going on with their subsequent children.
  3. People who found out with the first child, and then weren’t fussed about finding out with one or more of their subsequent children.

The people like me, who always intended to find out, seemed to do it from the same kind of motives that we’ve got: intense curiosity; an eagerness to think of their unborn child or children as ‘he’ or ‘she’, rather than ‘it’, enabling them to bond with the baby before it’s born; and an eagerness to get things organised as much as possible (and this last one was particularly prevalent amongst parents of twins, which doesn’t surprise me – I know of only one set of twin parents who chose not to find out).

People who did choose to find out reported that the sense of excitement and awe of giving birth was in no way diminished because of knowing the baby’s gender beforehand – my sister, Pip, summed it up when she said “the surprise at the end was in meeting them – nothing is as big a surprise as seeing their faces and meeting them for the first time.  I don’t think knowing the gender spoiled anything.”

And my friend Frances didn’t find out with her first baby, and said that it was the biggest anti-climax ever when she was born!  She found out with her second child.

Changing the topic now, this cracked me up from that Huggies page:

When you’re 17 weeks pregnant, a strange transitional time occurs. You may still not look as if you are pregnant, but your usual clothes are becoming too tight and you can’t just grab anything to wear out of your wardrobe. If something fits your tummy, it may not fit across your breast. Dressing has become harder.  You could find yourself close to tears trying to decide what to wear and what fits. Go shopping!  There is no end to the remedial effects of a little retail therapy.

“You may still not look as if you are pregnant…”!  HA!  I could not look more pregnant.  Wearing ‘normal’ clothes is now a distant memory – my wardrobe revolves around maternity jeans (which are slightly hideous and fairly ridiculous – the ‘band’ bit likes to slide down, so I’m forever having to hike them up again) and leggings.  I wrote a post about my wardrobe woes here.  I’m just so thankful that I don’t really have to look smart at the moment, although I have two important meetings coming up – one when I’m at 21 weeks, and one when I’m at 26 weeks and am likely to be enormous.  Never mind, I’ll cross that sartorial bridge when I come to it.

I had a four-weekly obstetrician’s appointment this week, which was good – we got to see the babies wiggling around (albeit with terrible resolution – you really had to squint to make them out).  At it, I told my obstetrician about my two great hassles at the moment: bone-numbing exhaustion and never-ending rhinitis.

On the tiredness front, she just recommended that I do as little as possible and listen to my body.  She also said that a lot of pregnant women don’t experience that much-promised burst of second trimester energy until the 20th or 21st week, so I might still have that coming (please, God!)  Of course, this didn’t stop me from having a tiredness-fuelled crying breakdown in Tristan’s arms after we left the appointment, so he took me home and installed me on the sofa with my pillow and duvet, Little William (my childhood teddy bear), snacks, drinks, the remote control, and the tender ministrations of Tui the Wonder Dog.  This all boosted my spirits enormously, and I’ve been replicating the experience every afternoon since then.

The obstetrician also recognised that my exhaustion was not helped by my constant blocked nose and barking cough, so she gave me the go-ahead to abandon the largely ineffective saline spray I’d been using in favour of a proper decogestant nasal spray.  I was extremely wary about using any ‘proper’ medicine, but Tristan insisted that she wouldn’t have recommended it unless she was confident that it would be safe.  I ended up using Sudofed for three days, and it was brilliant – I could actually breathe, which meant that I could sleep properly.  Sadly, it can’t be used for more than three days in a row, and today I’m completely congested – “can’t breathe through my nose at all and running the risk of sufocating when I eat or drink, since I can’t take in both air and nourishment at the same time” congested.  It’s absolutely wretched.

I had to see my GP about something else earlier this morning, so I mentioned it to her and she was great.  She checked my nasal passages and said they were completely closed off, reinforcing that, for some reason, my nose seems to see pregnancy as a great excuse to act as though it’s being hassled by allergens.  She precribed me a steroid nasal spray that should sort things out, eventually (it takes up to a week to kick in, so let’s just hope that I haven’t actuallly died from oxygen deprivation by then).  She also said that she’d refer me to an ear, nose and throat specialist if the situation didn’t improve within three weeks.  And she said that I can use the Sudofed again in a couple of days, if I need it.  So I guess I just need to suffer through the next couple of days.

I really don’t feel particularly thrilled about taking any kind of medicine during my pregnancy, although I’ve been assured by both the GP and the pharmacist that this steroid spray is absolutely fine, and is no different to an asthmatic using an inhaler.

All things considered, I can’t pretend that I’m loving pregnancy at the moment.  Thank God I’m having two kids in one go, and will never need to go through this again!

4 thoughts on “Seventeen weeks

  1. How horrible for you! I know that I don’t plan on ever being pregnant again if this is what it’s like and thats with only one on board. Thank goodness for safe medications to make life easier! Don’t be afraid to take what you need to, they’ve come a long way since the horror days of Thalidomide thank god! I have my scan on the 7th too, SO excited. I’ve felt it move a few times, it squirmed like mad when I drank cold water hehe.

    1. Thanks Steph – glad to hear that I’m not to only one who doesn’t relish this pregnant time…

      How awesome that we’ve got our scans on the same day! And it must be amazing to feel your little one wriggling around – I just can’t imagine what that will be like!

  2. What a crappy week you’ve had! I really hope your nasal issues get sorted soon and that you get more energy. You’re due a nice chilled out few months of pregnancy.

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