Welcome to the third trimester! I keep switching between shouting that as per Mad Max or singing it ala Frankie Goes To Hollywood – I’ll let you choose your preferred delivery. Talking about ‘delivery’, we’ve just hit Week 31 and this whole baby thing is getting very real. With Christmas being the immediate focus, I can imagine that the due date will be upon us before we know it.
The most exciting thing since my Week 27 update is that we’ve met our little lad – twice. No, he hasn’t been playing an elaborate – and biologically impossible – game of peekaboo. Instead, we had the chance to visit the Humpty Bumpty baby scanning clinic in Milton Keynes to check out the latest in 3D and 4D baby scanning technology – something we did with L and my brother in company.
We had a 4D baby scan when the missus was pregnant with L (read here) and it was truly remarkable to see a moving 3D image of your unborn kid. Not only that, but it was incredible just how much L on the outside looked like L on the inside – I did a comparison here. As such, having another 3D / 4D scan with baby no. 2 was always something we were keen to partake in.
Our first visit to Humpty Bumpty was the Saturday of Week 28. We’d been booked in for a complimentary 4D bonding scan, which would last 30 minutes and give us the chance to see our little lad in 2D (the black and white ‘normal’ pics), 3D (still photos in three dimensions which give that ‘dipped in wax’ look), 4D (moving images of baby in 3D) and HDLive (high definition 3D pictures and moving images).
We arrived at the studio – located in a nice, rural, barn conversion – and was welcomed at reception. Hay was asked to fill out some paperwork, before we were invited into the scanning room by the sonographer. In the room, there was the ultrasound table for Hay to lay on, a sofa for others in the party, a toy area for the kids and a wall-mounted screen. It felt a really warm, comfortable environment – the opposite end of the scale to the clinical ultrasound scan experience received at hospitals.
The ultrasound scan started like any other with the good ol’ gel on the belly. We first got to hear the heartbeat before the customary black and white 2D image popped up. The image then switched into the 3D / 4D view, which gave us our first proper glimpse of our little lad in his full orange waxy glory. Being able to see the actual face, the features and how they relate to each other pre-birth is an incredible experience. It’s also really cool that the images have moment, thus allowing you to see things like smiles, yawns or frowns.
We then were treated to HDLive which was something else. Although still great, by comparison, the normal 3D / 4D view looks primitive. I don’t profess to know how it’s done, but the website says something about an “advanced illumination model” and “innovative skin rendering techniques” – all I know is that HDLive is pretty bloody incredible.
With the ‘you’ve been Tangoed’ colour replaced by a more natural skin tone and greater detailing when it comes to shadows and contouring, the images were really lifelike. Scarily lifelike, in fact! The thing that jumped out at me straight away was how much he looked like L – particularly the nose and cheeks. Being able to see your kid like this is a fantastic experience. Again, you get to see still photos and actual movement.
Over the full 30 minutes, the sonographer flicked between the different views and recorded both the videos and photos for us to take home. Although we were really chuffed with what we’d seen and what had been captured, he’d not been sitting quite right – by which I mean he had his head on the placenta, regularly blocked his face with his hands and the umbilical cord was in the way. As such, the sonographer asked us if we’d like to reschedule again to see if we’d have more luck next time.
Not wanting to turn down another opportunity to see our kid-to-be, we rebooked for two weeks, which put us at Week 30. With just L for company on this visit, we once more were treated to a 30 minute bonding session with the little one. This time, although the umbilical cord was out of the way, he continued to block his face with both hands and feet.
Despite his best attempts to shy away from the camera, we got to see a lot of him. Again, the similarities with L as a baby were striking and it was surprising to see just how much he’d grown in less than two weeks – no wonder the missus is saying that she feels bigger and heavier! Once again, we left with some incredibly detailed images (printed and digital) to keep and share with family.
I’ve always found it strange that – if everything is progressing normally – the last ultrasound scan is at 20 weeks, so private 3D and 4D scans like this give you the chance to check on progress and get a sneak peek at your kid. It’s also a fantastic, nonclinical way of introducing siblings – L loved seeing her brother on the screen…well, nearly as much as playing with the toys in the room!
We were treated to Humpty Bumpty’s Package 3, which meant that we got viewing in 2D, 3D and HDLive, black and white print outs, three large colour prints, a DVD recording of the session and all images on a USB. Other packages and services, are available too. It had been a brilliant experience with Humpty Bumpty and I’d have no qualms in recommending them or going again. A really nice way to ‘meet’ your baby before the big day.
Scan aside, what else has been happening. Well, we’ve been thinking about baby names. I think we’re probably 95% there with the first and middle name. We’ve still got time to think about other options, but we both particularly like the first name so that’s likely to remain.
Although, annoyingly, we didn’t realise just how popular it is – we checked out a ‘most popular baby names in 2017’ article and ours was pretty high up the list. Bloody sheep. (N.B. That refers to people following suit, not a reference to us calling him Shaun).
Toddler L is having none of it though. Randomly, the other week, she just came out with the fact that her baby brother was called Beetle. We have no idea where it came from, but she’s adamant that this is his name and there’s no changing her mind. It’s certainly unique, but I have a feeling that the name would bug me after a while. Geddit?! Ha!
At home, I’ve continued ‘nesting’. After finishing L’s new bedroom a few weeks back, my attention turned to her former bedroom, which is now called the nursery. Again. This was still in reasonable nick from when we’d decorated in the past, so it was more like 60 Minute Makeover than Grand Designs. Although, due to my DIY skills, it’s taken a lot longer than 60 minutes.
Out went the old drawers and wardrobe, to be replaced by an IKEA KALLAX unit – are you even a parent if you don’t own multiple of these?! I’ve also moved some shelves to a different wall, filled in a few holes and repainted the dark brown feature wall to something a bit brighter. Why green, you ask? Because it was leftover from when I painted the downstairs bog – only the best for our little lad.
In other news, after finally getting her MATB1 certificate from the midwife, Hay’s been able to discuss and confirm her maternity leave dates. Her last day in the office will be 12th January 2018 and her first day back will be 2nd January 2019. Her work has a pretty good maternity leave policy and when things like annual leave and bank holidays are taken into account, we should be able to have basically a year together as a family of four which is pretty awesome.
There’s probably going to be a month or so at the end where she won’t receive any money, but we have savings we can dip into and this ‘ere blog helps us with a secondary income. I’m not really sure of the details as she’s sorted it out herself with HR, but she’s assured me that I won’t have to have breast milk in my coffee in order to scrimp and save.
However, I’m under no illusions that things will have to change for me. The blog is basically a full-time job which I fit around being L’s primary carer. Add a newborn baby and the fact that I want to be around as much as possible, leaves me a little uncertain as to what The DADventurer looks like in 2018. Either way, it’s been a blast!
Health wise, the missus is doing OK. She’s really starting to feel it though and is pretty uncomfortable. She’s still getting quite a bit of heart burn and sleeping is disturbed, plus she’s had a few Braxton Hicks contractions. With the knowledge that she’s only in Week 31 and only going to get bigger and more uncomfortable, I imagine that the next two months are something she’ll just want to get through as quickly as possible.
So that’s Week 31. Until next time…which hopefully won’t be an early and unexpected birth announcement in January!
Disclosure: We were provided with a complimentary 3D and 4D baby scan (and subsequent re-scan) by Humpty Bumpty in exchange for sharing our experience of the baby scanning clinic.