So… the man and I are having a baby! I am currently 12 weeks pregnant and on PhD fieldwork in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Read on for more info on baby Pip and how my pregnancy is going!
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Finding out I’m pregnant
I arrived in Brazil on the 10th of March for the second phase of my PhD fieldwork. My last period was on the 13th of February… So it turns out that I have been pregnant from (before) the very first day of my stay here!
The first week in Rio de Janeiro I was staying with some very kind Airbnb hosts (check them out here and get an Airbnb discount!). I was feeling a bit tired in the evenings, but I put that down to mild jet-lag and all the changes linked to travelling. What started to alert me that something was different was that I was getting a bit of lower-back pain and that my period was late. My cycle normally works like clockwork and I’m quite attentive to what my body is doing so this definitely had my attention.
But what really sent my mind racing was a quick conversation when I was on my way to visit a potential flat to rent (which turned out to be a dud anyway). I was walking in Copacabana looking for the street to turn into when a little girl in a pushchair started talking to me. She and the lady who was pushing her were going in the same direction, so I listened to her tell me about how she was going to school. Then, out of the blue, the little girl asks me: “do you have a baby in your tummy?”.
I was wearing a pencil skirt at the time and feeling horrified that my tummy looked like that of a pregnant lady. The horror might have been visible on my face, so the lady quickly explained that the girl’s mum was at the very start of her pregnancy and that it was barely visible. Humpf, a bit comforting, but still!
The next Saturday I peed in a little pot (there’s no glamorous way of putting it) and dipped a pregnancy test in it while on Skype with the fiancé. I don’t know if it was too early on or what else could affect the result, but in any case it was negative. One week on, still no period and two more tests purchased, I held a very positive test with trembling hands, again on Skype with the man. I did another test the next day which confirmed it: we’re having a baby!
Pregnancy so far
Between the tests, there was a lot of Googling involved, and I stopped taking my usual multivitamin (apparently too much vitamin A is bad for growing a baby) and looked into maternity leave and all sorts of other things I was worried about. There was also a lot of Skyping in March and April as the fiancé was still in the United Kingdom because of family commitments and being on different visas.
A great help was my flatmate in the flat I ended up choosing over the Copacabana one. I told her early on as I was mostly “on my own” in Rio and unsure what to do about getting medical care. She confirmed what I had looked up and went to our closest hospital’s family clinic several times with me to get registered and see a nurse.
I have since been to quite a few prenatal medical appointments: I have seen several doctors, had two ultrasounds, done urine tests, blood tests, and had a flu jab (and a partridge in a pear tree!). I am very grateful for the Brazilian public healthcare system being free, including for foreigners. I have a little “stork passport” and my only job is to show up and remember the paperwork. They even have given me free supplements and mosquito repellent!
I had a scare several weeks ago when I found out I was bleeding “down there” (medical term). It was early, the man wasn’t in Brazil yet and my flatmate was asleep. So I immediately called an Uber (a very Rio thing to do) and went to the family clinic. If I had had my head straight, I might have remembered that in case of an emergency, I was supposed to go to the maternity ward of another hospital. Anyway, I broke down in tears at the family clinic reception (in front of loads of people) and then at the other hospital’s reception, and both times the receptionists were very friendly and reassuring. After hours of waiting (turns out that based on my description of the blood I was deemed low risk), I was examined by five people “down there” in a small room – as it’s a university hospital where they train students. Such fun, but I was given the all clear.
The main effects of the pregnancy so far have been needing more sleep / rest and being put off by various smells and foods – including things like garlic and coffee, which definitely weren’t an issue beforehand! I give myself an extra hour to sleep each night – I still wake up first though (#morningperson, ha!) – and I try not to beat myself up if I sleep in or have a nap (quite a regular occurence), when I had scheduled other more productive things in my calendar. I have only been sick four times in twelve weeks so I would consider that a win! Once was after an ultrasound (maybe the prodding?) in the hospital loos. But I pride myself on being a pro at being sick – so far I have managed to make it to a toilet and not make a mess, yay!
How the pregnancy affects everything else
The tiredness – and the hours of researching things related to pregnancies and babies – have definitely taken a toll on my productivity, namely in terms of my PhD activities. What didn’t help was my aversion to many foods and especially to cooking, which meant that for several weeks I wasn’t eating much and it was mostly white bread / breakfast cereal (carbs!!!). All of that combined with the heat in Rio meant that I was feeling quite weak a lot of the time. The lack of progress on my projects also made me feel quite low.
However, I have managed to dig myself out of the funk (more on that in a later blog post) and the fiancé arrived in Rio at the end of April. He has been helping with shopping and cooking – giving me a taste of my own medicine after three years of “forcing” whole grains and vegetables on him. So things are on the up! I am also told that the second trimester is a time of great energy and of the pregnancy “glow”, so please sign me up for that!
We told our parents and siblings quite early on, as we could both do with their support. We have since told a few close friends and family members. One of the cutest reactions was the man’s granny repeating “we’re having a baby!” on Skype. I’ve also informed the people I work with here in Rio – to explain why I’m taking more sitting breaks at events, I’m weird about food and occasionally skip things because I’m feeling rough. I have also told my PhD supervisors who congratulated me – now it’s fingers crossed that the measures I outlined in my pregnancy risk assessment are enough to reassure the university that it’s safe for me to stay in Rio until September.
The baby – for now known as Pip as she/he was the size of an apple pip when we found out – is due around the 24th of November which is dangerously close to my birthday! According to the latest ultrasound, Pip is now about 6 cm long from head to bum; her/his heart is beating and her/his legs are kung fu fighting! It’s a lot to take in and crazy to think that we’ll have a special little guest at our wedding in May next year. But at the ripe old age of 28, I feel like this little surprise is going to bring us a lot of joy. It’s also lovely that several of our friends are also expecting, so we’ll have people to share the ups and downs with!
Share your thoughts
Thank you for reading this far! Have you had a baby before? Can you remember what your first pregnancy / baby was like? Have you had any encounters with psychic children? I would love to hear about others’ experiences, but please no advice about what to do and not to do, as I’ve already read it all, ha!
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