They say you learn as much from your children as they learn from you. What my current pregnancy seems to be teaching me is the remarkable similarities between a pregnant woman and a very small child. Probably an under-two; my five year old definitely has more stamina and self-control than me at the moment. Is this nature’s way of teaching me empathy, and ensuring I’m the best mother possible when the baby arrives? Mother Nature isn’t normally that subtle – the way she ensured I responded within split seconds to any chance whim of my newborn daughter’s was to equip her from birth with a cry that simultaneously pierced my eardrums, sinuses, hypothalamus and heart.
Whatever the reason, these are the behaviours which I (and my long-suffering husband) have noted in me, which correspond uncannily to those you might expect to see in a averagely badly behaved toddler.
1) The tantrums. What can I say? This is embarrassing. I do have what might be generously termed a short fuse at the best of times. It turns out that early pregnancy isn’t the best of times. I have had to be forcibly restrained from smashing my mobile phone to bits on the kitchen floor (well, to be fair, the voicemail symbol wouldn’t go away, even though I’d already listened to the message!), and my husband swears that I threw a screwdriver at him. I definitely didn’t. I just happened to throw a screwdriver, and he just happened to be there. Had I thrown it at him he would have been in no danger whatsoever as my aim is catastrophically bad.
2) The tears. Tantrums occur when I am overcome with sudden ungovernable rage. The tears are when a minor setback or disappointment cause me to feel that nothing positive or happy can or will ever happen to me again and I sob as though my heart is breaking, as indeed I feel it might. That might be because Anna went into school without kissing me goodbye, or because I see a ‘lost cat’ poster, or realise I have a missed call from a friend I wanted to talk to.
3) The hunger. I can go from feeling full, even nauseous, to so hungry that I’m seriously considering eating my own fingers in about thirty seconds flat. If I don’t respond to this hunger within a minute or two then feeling nauseous becomes feeling violently sick. Although also still hungry. The main problem is that I never know what I can face eating – many foods, even ones I would normally enjoy, are utterly repulsive in this mood. My safest bets are Rice Krispies, fresh cherries, boiled rice , chocolate milkshake and breadsticks. All of which are fine when I’m at home (although the ten minutes it takes to cook rice is normally too long), but not so easy when I’m out and about. Breadsticks are theoretically transportable, but actually what I end up with is an assortment of crumb-filled handbags. Anyway, this really does teach me a lesson. The number of times I’ve been out with toddler-aged daughter, who is clearly engaged in a low-blood sugar strop and whining for snacks, and offered her food, only for it to be rejected. “But I’m not hungry for raisins…”. I’d always assumed that was just a cunning ploy to try and get something chocolate coated out of me, because, after all, if you’re hungry you’ll eat what’s going. Now I’m not so sure.
4) The sleep habits. I’ve never been good at not getting my eight hours a night, but for the past few weeks I’ve needed more like eleven hours. Plus a daytime nap (or two). The hot weather and late nights have meant Anna has been struggling to get to sleep, so most of the time I think I’m actually asleep before her. And if, like last night, I prioritise staying awake long enough to have a conversation with my husband when he gets in from work (kind of feel we ought to talk at least once a week), then I have no choice but to head back to bed for a catch up pretty much as soon as I’ve dropped Anna at school.
5) The clumsiness. I’m not exactly graceful anyway, but my clumsiness has now reached new heights. Or perhaps new depths. I know clumsiness is meant to be a common side effect of late pregnancy as the extra weight and change in shape alters your sense of balance, but at three months gone? What’s happening to me? I’m covered in bruises from lurching and staggering into tables/chairs/doors, and keep on doing stupid things like missing the pan when I’m putting boiling water onto pasta, or the glass as I pour some milk, or dropping a tray of muffins as I lift them out of the oven. It is just like putting a 2 year old in charge of running a home. Suspect I should only be using plastic crockery and blunt knives really.
So there we go. I am thirty-three going on eighteen months. Really hope that I snap back to normal after the birth, or my husband is really going to have his hands full come December.