Although my current plan is to have a home birth (we start hypno classes in a few weeks to help with this, more to follow!) I needed to go to hospital this week to 'book in' my pregnancy. In the event of a non compliant baby, or perhaps more likely maternal demands for increased pain relief (much to my chagrin I was begging for an epidural as I checked into delivery at only 3cm dilated last time round) this is where I'll go to give birth.
I was on edge as we arrived at Fairfield. The hour and a half wait for the scan a couple of weeks previously had not filled me with love for the cold plastic seating of the waiting room, although the whiff of hot buttered WRVS toast did lower my blood pressure by a few points.
The timing was appalling, slap bang in the middle of T's nap time, he'd just dropped off as we found a parking space and had to run, in the pounding rain, to the antenatal clinic. I was well stocked though, laden down with books, toys, snacks, and adamant that even a long wait would not get the better of us.
Ho hum. It is one of the laws of toddlerhood that, faced with a bag crammed with pieces of train ('Ninky nonk!') and favourite reading material ('Fufflo!') it is much preferable to play with the water cooler ('wet!'), no matter how many times you are dragged away by a mother fretful that a heavily pregnant woman is going to slip on the accompanying spill and cause herself some serious harm. Within minutes T was banging his fists on one of the seats as I held him around his fat little middle and offered each of the goodies from my suitcase-sized bag in turn.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Shake head, bang fists, wriggle, sob loudly, carefully appreciate other people in the waiting room watching, increase volume, wriggle more forcefully.
I had just managed to settle T with some of the aforementioned toast (I'm not sure if before this point he knew white bread existed, his mother, wracked with middle-class guilt, insisting on buying the boring brown with bits variety) when we were called through. The midwife managed not to laugh too hard as I gathered flung toys, raisins and general handbag detritus and moved into the consulting room.
Being weighed was a shock. Clothes don't lie, well, unless you start wearing maternity at about 6 weeks as I did this time round, meaning you can legitimately eat all of your child's easter eggs without the resulting tight-trouser guilt. When my husband asked afterwards I feigned ignorance, claiming not to remember the magic number, although I know there was a 12 in it somewhere.
I filled out forms, ticked boxes (smoker, no, folic acid, yes, previous children, one - currently lying on the floor with his arms in the air singing 'Twinkle Twinkle') and finally it was time for my reward. I hopped onto the couch. T, who had been banging a metal instrument tray, satisfied that his noise was almost drowning out our discussion on which of a plethora of blood tests I was going to take up, toddled over, suddenly intrigued. I pulled down my leggings (yes, a fat woman in leggings, laugh now, you know you want to) and had jelly smeared on my belly. T started to hop from foot to foot ('up, up, up, up!') and as the midwife turned on the probe, I picked him up and sat him on my chest.
The probe dug in to my abdomen. I heard swishy sounds, slow and steady. 'That's your heartbeat'. I was surprised, given the stroppy toddler, that it wasn't faster, more urgent. She moved the probe. And again, murmering something about the difficulty in hearing a heartbeat using a doppler at only 16 weeks, and the fact it felt like my placenta was at the front. T was still, transfixed by the mess of gloop being smooshed around on my burgeoning bump. I held my breath. Then, down a bit, and to the left, there it was, the baby's heartbeat. Faster than my own, sharper in sound. In my head I tried desperately to remember the addage - horse for a girl and train for a boy? Train for a girl and horse for a boy? I gave up, given I couldn't tell which the clump, clump, clop, clop sounded like most. A horse on a train perhaps?
I put T down and we toddled back to the car. Tired out by his sleep free morning we both napped for two hours, although whether the soundtrack of his dreams was a solid heartbeat as mine was, I don't know.