I wrote a flurry of posts announcing our pregnancy around week 14 and then have been fairly silent on the topic since. While I dragged myself through the first trimester, puking and whinging, the second trimester thankfully bought a burst of energy and a lot of action as we relocated from Australia to the UK.
Now that things are finally getting a little settled around here I thought I might recap some of the major moments and milestones from the 2nd trimester, while I can almost remember them.
Weeks 13 to 16
The start of the 2nd trimester was mainly filled with some lingering sickness and a lot of back and forth over whether we could/should go ahead with the move from Melbourne to England in the state I was in. Thankfully around week 14 the daily pukes and exhausting fog began to lift and Justin and I decided to not only go full steam ahead with the UK move but to have an impromptu babymoon in Vegas too!
Honestly, I think the relief of not being repeatedly sick was so liberating it went to my head a little. I booked last minute flights to join Justin who was going to a conference in Vegas and put in a bid to upgrade my economy seats to business on the 14-hour leg from Melbourne to LA. Unfortunately, that bid was unsuccessful but Justin had better luck and (because he is very kind) he switched with me part way through the flight so I could lie flat for a bit.
The journey back was a little more challenging after a delay leaving Vegas meant we missed the connection in LA and had an extra 24 hours in transit we weren’t expecting. We decided to make the most of it though and hired a Mustang and cruised Hollywood and Beverley Hills for the day – after heading to Target for some clean pants and toothbrushes!
Weeks 16 to 18
Excluding one spectacular vomit sesh in our Vegas suite and a necessary day in bed watching Say Yes To The Dress in order to beat jet lag, I had a great week largely hanging out by myself in Sin City. Justin was occupied for most of the day so I headed to the malls, went solo to see Mariah Carey and had my first pregnancy massage – anything to avoid the 42-degree desert heat.
I wouldn’t recommend Vegas as a babymoon destination per se (especially not in summer!) but it was great to feel a little like the old me and recover my love for travel after spending so many weeks on the sofa feeling nauseous.
It was around this time I also felt the first flutters of the baby moving. Whilst I would love to say sweet words about how reassuring and magic this moment was in all honesty I found it a little unnerving – in my experience as a traveller if your belly starts making involuntary movements you generally want to be dashing to the nearest loos! In time though those pops and bubbles that I first mistook for traveller’s diarrhoea increased to little kicks and flips that I couldn’t help but marvel at.
Upon returning from Vegas we needed to go full steam ahead with the 100 point UK move action plan (I wish I was joking) but before booking flights we decided to go for a private reassurance scan just to check the baby would be up for the upheaval.
I had a lot of anxiety about changing healthcare systems mid-way through the pregnancy (especially as I hadn’t yet seen a midwife and wouldn’t be able to until after we moved) so every extra chance to check up on the baby was a blessing. It was at this point that we found out the sex of the baby but (to make things difficult!) decided to keep it to ourselves so everyone else can enjoy a surprise at the end.
Weeks 19 to 20
Weeks 19 to 20 were HECTIC. Because of the way the dates fell we were due to fly out of Melbourne when I was bang on 20 weeks. I had naively assumed it wouldn’t be a problem to arrange my 20 week scan a day or 2 early but when I rang to make the booking at the same place I’d had my 12 week scan they said it was against their policy to see anyone before 20 weeks.
Luckily, on the back of the referral letter from my doctor was a list of imaging centres who accept Medicare patients so I rang around until I found one who agreed to see me the Friday before we flew.
I was just as nervous about this scan as the 12 week one, not daring to believe there could be a real life baby at the end of this process until I’d seen its little organs and limbs developing. The 45-minute scan was incredibly thorough and mercifully reassuring. The sonographer was happy with everything she saw and printed out copies of the scan for me to take with me.
That afternoon I allowed myself my first ever baby purchase. I headed straight to Seed and bought a onesie, cardie and Jellycat koala so I could pack a bit of Australiana for our baby that I was now definitely taking to the UK. Our flights were non-refundable but if the scan had thrown up anything of concern we were obviously prepared to cancel them and stay put for further testing. It was such a massive relief to have the all-clear, on many levels, that I literally skipped around the shopping centre with my cutesy purchases.
I’d like to say it was plain sailing from here but we had one last hurdle ahead – Justin’s visa had not arrived yet. Despite paying for a speedy service Justin’s passport was still with a processing office in Sydney on Friday afternoon but we’d arranged to hand back keys to our flat on Monday lunchtime and fly to London from Melbourne on Monday evening. We spent the weekend on tenterhooks, packing up the house and filling 6 suitcases, not quite knowing if bump and I would be flying home solo or how long I might be in the UK on my own for before Justin could join me.
After a night of pizza in a blow up bed – we’d literally shipped, packed or given away everything we owned – I headed to the doctors on Monday morning to collect a copy of my notes. (This was just a few pages of blood test results taken in week 6 and the 12 week scan results – I’d had no further appointments with the doc after this.) On my way back to the house I noticed the postie speeding away on his bike and felt my stomach sink as my phone hadn’t beeped with a message from Justin. As I approached the door, however, I spied him through the window, taking a selfie of his beaming face next to one visa-filled passport. We would both be leaving!
Weeks 21 to 22
I spent my 21st week of pregnancy manically house-hunting and calling banks, doctors, midwives, orthodontists, the phone company etc to say we were back and could we have an account/appointment pretty please. I slept very little during this time, often waking at 3am worrying about various different aspects of the move/pregnancy and wondering what on earth we were thinking. Writing to do-lists, sometimes on the loo at 4am, was the only thing that kept me from losing it.
Luckily, I was still registered at the doctors in Wokingham after needing some travel jabs a few years back so they were able to supply me with my NHS number and gave me a number to call to arrange my first midwife appointment. It took several calls and one epic 45 minute session on hold but I was finally booked in.
I saw a midwife for the first time in my pregnancy on week 22 and I cannot tell you how relieved I was to finally have someone test my wee & bloods, take my blood pressure, write some notes and generally ask me how I feel.
(If anyone is interested I might write up my experience of pregnancy care in Australia versus UK. Both public systems are truly impressive but for me the Aussie system was very disjointed and confusing. I was put on Shared Care between my GP and hospital but was never informed what this meant and who I would be seeing at how many weeks. I was referred to what I am told is one of the best maternity hospitals in Oz – the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne – but because they are so popular they don’t see women who have no complications until they are 20 weeks. I requested to come in earlier due to my fears about moving and having no notes to take with me but they couldn’t fit me in so I didn’t have any appointments between 12 and 20 weeks.)
I ended up having quite a long appointment with the midwife at 22 weeks as she booked me into the Royal Berkshire Hospital and caught up with the scans I’d had done in Oz. A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders just by having some maternity notes, especially as they included a run down of what appointments I’d have and with whom for the rest of the pregnancy. The midwife even booked a few in advance for me, which was massively helpful as I’d had to book (and chase) everything myself in Melbourne. I was referred for an additional consultant appointment in my 3rd trimester due to being a late addition but apart from that I was never made to feel like a mad woman for moving so far across the world at 20 weeks!
(Note: I did receive a letter from the hospital saying I would be liable to pay for my maternity services unless I could prove I was a permanent resident – just having an NHS number is not enough. I sent them copies of our rental agreement, bills, my birth certificate and passport and this was satisfactory to receive NHS services.)
Weeks 22 to 25
We found a house within a week of arriving in the UK – we only had an Airbnb for 10 days so it was necessary to decide quickly – and by the time I saw the midwife we had got the keys and started to furnish it. There was a gap in-between us leaving the Airbnb and key furniture (ie a bed and sofa) arriving so we spent about a week on a sofa bed in my mum’s conservatory and a couple of nights on a blow up bed in the nursery before finally being able to move in properly.
It took a whole family effort to get the place scrubbed, painted and weeded and I spent many a day waiting around for deliveries and washing machine repairmen in-between online shopping and napping. Justin had to head to the US for work so when the bed finally arrived I roped my step dad and brother into helping me assemble it and got to star fish in it by myself for the rest of the week.
Weeks 25 to 26
At 25 weeks I was referred to the hospital for a glucose tolerance test for gestational diabetes. (I think because of my BMI – there’s no family history of it). This was a tedious morning involving fasting, 1 blood test, waiting for 2 hours, then another blood test, but I was given the all clear. Yay!
Week 26 was probably the very best of the whole pregnancy to date – we went to Greece and did nothing! I feel exhausted just reliving the previous few weeks so I think you can understand how much we appreciated this trip.
Weeks 26 to 28
Aside from the empty gaps where we know we need to put items from the shipping, the house is finally starting to feel like a home and so these last few weeks I’ve ventured into buying a few baby things. At this stage I have largely bought clothes as opposed to practical items but we recently purchased a pram and a crib so that’s something.
I also had my first UK doctor’s appointment, which involved taking my blood pressure and hearing the baby’s heartbeat, and been for a flu and whooping cough vaccination, which left me with a dead arm for 3 days.
It’s only now that I feel my pregnancy is showing – and even so I sort of have 2 bellies rather than one as my belly button hasn’t ‘popped,’ so to speak. I was desperate to see a more typical bump for a while – if only to get offered a seat, ha! – but I realise every body is different and I’m just not much of a show-er, for now at least. If I go by the strength of the kicks in my groin, the baby is doing well despite lying very low in my tummy, and that’s the main thing isn’t it?
I’m at once terrified and excited about what the 3rd trimester will bring. I’ll try to update you before it comes to an end and everything goes topsy turvy 😀
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