In preparing for motherhood in your third trimester, your whole world is turned upside down and inside out. The things you do, eat, talk about and think about change in the blink of an eye. You notice new things about yourself, and about others. Some days you worry that you might be slowly morphing into your mother. It's a fabulous journey, but it's full of uncertainty. The only thing that's certain is that you will never be the same again.
But it's OK, you can get through every little thing that pregnancy throws at you in your final weeks before the birth. Here are a few observations I've noted as I've entered the third trimester, and how I've learned to cope:
1. Everyone will have a comment on your bump, and all of these comments will be different. "It's still so small!"; "Look how big you are!"; "It's sitting low, it must be a boy"; "I can tell by the shape it's a girl"; "You can't tell you're pregnant at all"; "OMG your bump is huge!". Quieten the commentary by quickly saying, "Yeah, everyone says that!".
2. Some people won't be able to fight the urge to touch the bump, sometimes without even asking. This includes strangers in lifts, at the supermarket, and in line to check in at the airport. When this happens, return the same little smile they are giving you and quietly stroke their stomach back.
3. Nobody else cares about your blurry 4D scan photo as much as you do. They're actually more freaked out by the clear view of the umbilical cord in the top right-hand corner than taken with how cute your baby's button nose is. Try to stop yourself from plastering this image all over social media, sending it via Whatsapp to your next door neighbour and bringing it up on the big screen at the start a presentation to your boss; you might put them off their lunch. Reserve this photo for the closest people to you, and only bring it out if other people ask.
4. Your Whatsapp conversations which used to revolve around nights out, outfits and man-related gossip start to become more focused on the best bargains in the latest Mothercare sale, how many sleep bags the baby will need and the pros and cons of scratch mittens. Try to limit these conversations to your pool of friends who are actually mothers or mothers-to-be themselves. Others might think that pregnancy has sent you slightly bonkers.
5. You will soon learn which of your friends you can call from the office
toilet asking what amniotic fluid looks like because you
aren't sure but you think your waters might have broken. See above.
6. Your appetite and food preferences will change beyond recognition. Cue someone telling you a story about their aunt, friend or neighbour's dog who ate coal on toast when they were pregnant or couldn't get through the day without licking a Pritt Stick. Make up a story about a craving you have that's even more gruesome, and try to keep a straight face.
7. In the final stages of pregnancy, you won't be able to get comfortable at night, and will spend hours tossing and turning. Try not to wake your partner more than twice a night to complain about how difficult it is for you. If you really feel you have to, try to spread these times throughout the night to correlate with the upcoming feed times for your baby, thereby obtaining comfort from them and establishing a routine at the same time. Clever.
8. Scary pregnancy symptom and labour stories are everywhere. Every time you have an urge to Google, search 'cute kittens' instead. Every time someone starts to tell you a negative story, put your fingers in your ears and hum as loudly as you can. DON'T whatever you do watch One Born Every Minute.
9. Unless you seriously believe that pregnancy leggings, bump bands and your husband's extra large t-shirts are the height of couture, you will not be able to be the fashion goddess you once believed you were. Embrace this by starting a new Instagram account showcasing the best of your pregnancy loungewear range.
10. Everyone, even those without children of their own will have an opinion on your pregnancy, upcoming labour and how to be a good mother. Return the favour by sharing your strong views on their political persuasion, choice of career or hairstyle.
11. You will become far more sensible...dare I say it, even a little bit...boring? Increase your daily dose of excitement by living vicariously through others. You will be doing this for the next 18 years anyway.
12. You will worry like you've never worried before, about whether you're doing all of the right things in your pregnancy and to prepare for the birth, whether you know enough and are going to be a good mummy to your baby. Reassure yourself that every single woman that has ever been pregnant feels exactly like this, that you're doing a great job and everything will turn out OK. Then eat another brownie.
13. You will no longer recognise your reflection. Move all of the mirrors in your house higher by 6 inches so you can only see your face.
14. You won't be able to bend over enough to shave your legs. And forget putting on your shoes. Embrace your inner shoeless, hairy hippy. Include photos of said look on your pregnancy fashion Instagram page.
15. Heartburn and acid reflux will attack with a vengeance. Usually at night, the minute you announce that it's time to go to bed. I'd love to say that drinking a glass of cold milk, swallowing half a tub of baking soda or not eating anything after 8pm works, but nothing really does. Sleep propped up on six pillows and wake up in the morning with a cricked neck.
16. You will get a sudden urge to clean the house from top to bottom. Make sure you bend your knees when you need to move something low down, and don't lift anything heavy. Even better, sit on the sofa with a cup of tea and instruct your other half on what needs doing.
17. You might get a little bit hormonal. Not all the time, just when you see a cute puppy or someone tells you what it felt like to hold their baby for the first time. Let the tears flow, as a reserved Brit it's probably the only time in your life that you have a valid excuse to wear your heart on your sleeve without people making excuses and moving away.
18. Those little kicks will be getting stronger and firmer. You might even be able to make out whole body parts as they press against your now very taught stomach. Freak everyone else out by showing them when this happens. Inside, relish that special glow-y feeling that comes with knowing that the thing growing inside you is an actual, real human.
19. You will grow closer to those people who have been through what you're going through. You will develop a new bond with all of those other mums and dads you know. Lean on them, they are going to be your lifeline in the weeks to come. Hell, they might even become the people you call in a panic from the toilet cubicle at work when your waters actually do break.
20. You will grow closer to your partner too. You will respect and cherish each other in a way you never have before. Make sure you're open and honest with one another about everything you're feeling. You are both new to this, and you're in it together.