I am eighteen weeks pregnant. This baby loves sushi and makes me crave avocado rolls and lychee-flavoured bubble tea, which I purchase whilst running errands at work and sip strolling down Oxford Street in the sunshine. Just this week, the baby has started to discernibly move in a regular pattern; he or she feels terribly low down compared to where their twin siblings lay at this point in my pregnancies. It feels mildly disconcerting to feel the kicking so far down in my pelvis, as though at any moment the baby might fall out.
The children and I are obsessed with those silly apps, the ones that compare the baby to fruit and vegetables. This week I am carrying a bell pepper, minus their kicky legs, and I cannot imagine how something the size of a bell pepper with legs attached is residing in me already. With that said, I feel enormous – no doubt aided by the chocolate-covered macadamias and the delicious chocolate-and-mandarin vegan cake that my colleagues keep bringing me, as though this baby is everyone’s baby, something communal and special to be nurtured by the whole team. I don’t weigh myself, whether I am expecting or not, but I am looking clearly pregnant now and I just feel fuller and heavier, all swollen breasts and a bump that makes my fellow commuters offer me, unasked, their seat on the train.
I am trying to slow down and savour this pregnancy a little, just in case it is my last. And it is enjoyable, easy almost. I had worried about how I would manage a pregnancy and a full-time job and four children on the weekends, but we pootle along and everything feels very comfortable and very right. We talk about the baby a lot. The boys are obsessed with birthdays and they know that first it will be Mummy Kirsty’s birthday and then the girls’ and then theirs and finally, baby Winter will be born. In truth the baby is due six days before they turn four, but even the twin girls went ten days overdue and so despite the October 24 due date, we are not anticipating that this little darling will show up before November. It feels like forever away, like how as a child I used to daydream of impossible far-off days, but yesterday somebody asked me my due date and then they said “Not long to go!”. And I suppose that it isn’t, really. Five months. When I cast my mind back to five months ago, it takes me to Christmas, to decorating trees in the woods and walking home with the children in the dark, through the ice-frosted streets. And that feels like just the other day. I can’t wait to meet this baby and to know what it is, a son or a daughter, whether it has hair, whether it shares my complexion or whether it is fair, a Scandinavian baby, like Polly. I can’t wait to feed it; I have been grieving those somnolent early-hours-of-the-morning feeds since the girls started sleeping through the night.
We don’t plan to find out the sex. We have always known by now, with each of the children, but this time I am longing for a surprise at the birth and Kirsty has been kind enough to give me this gift. She has been picturing a curly-haired boy since we knew that there would be a fifth child, and I think that the twelve-week scan may have yielded a clue or two as to what this baby will be – but neither of us are willing to judge my myopic assessment of a moving child on an ultrasound, and so for now the sex of our baby remains a surprise. We don’t have a preference, not really, though we may have a name for one of the sexes and not the other and so it is easier to imagine ourselves with that baby than its nameless counterpart. Either way, this little one is so loved already, by all of us.
My scan isn’t for another couple of weeks – I’ll be 21+5 – but now that I can feel the baby kicking I’m not so desperate for the reassurance of seeing it bounce about on screen, though of course it will be lovely to see its little face again and to try to decide which of its siblings it looks like, if any at all.