Jennifer Barton is a freelance writer based in London who is originally from New York. While she'll miss her daily dose of Ben & Jerry's, she's desperate for labour to begin, mainly because she has a mini bottle of pink champagne waiting in the fridge for her. Oh, and she's looking forward to meeting her baby, too.
I can't quite believe that I'm 36 weeks pregnant.
Now that I've finally started to feel like a competent pregnant person – able to manoeuvre around in a semi-graceful waddle, well-versed in the vocabulary of labour (I am proud to say I've used the word meconium in a sentence, albeit just to show off in front of my partner) and generally feeling positive about my pregnancy, it will all be over soon.
I have even sorted myself out with a caseload midwife team (which means I'll have met my midwife previously, as opposed to having a stranger attend to me during labour), something which I admittedly only managed to sort out last week. But hey - I didn't even know what a caseload midwife was until my NCT classes began (and I didn't know what the NCT was until a few months before that, either).
So this whole pregnancy has been a massive learning curve and if I were examined on the subject right now, I think I'd do brilliantly. Unfortunately, in a few weeks' time, I'm clueless again as I approach this next chapter of the unknown: motherhood.
Other than struggling with the unbearable heat (why is the only summer that England gets decent weather the summer that I need to stay indoors?), public transportation, sleeping problems and my increasingly unruly (but very loving!) bulldog puppy, whose chubby 25 kilo body is getting difficult to control, I have thoroughly enjoyed the last few weeks of pregnancy, especially after the whirlwind of the first several months.
The emotional upheaval has been extreme: one moment, I'll be ecstatic and bursting with excitement that my body is a sacred vessel carrying this amazing life form (yes, I admit this may be due in part to reading the birthing stories in Spiritual Midwifery, drinking raspberry leaf tea to strengthen my uterine muscles and taking prenatal yoga classes) and the next, I'll be at my lowest point, sunk into a deep depression (and a pint of ice cream), sobbing over a silly advert or episode of Friends.
In my third trimester, there are moments when – despite the additional 30 lbs I'm carrying and all of the physical strain that accompanies this – I've felt better than ever: stronger, more fit, more vital, and generally full of life and love and energy. Of course, when I awake screaming in the night from an excruciating calf cramp or am slumped in the car, covered in my own sick (which has also splattered all over the dashboard, seat and my partner, the driver), I feel weak, disgusting and wretched. And it's impossible to say who I'll be at any given moment: fun-loving, happy, healthy-feeling Jen is easily replaced by the odious monster my partner (lovingly, I hope?) refers to as Pregzilla.
In these last few weeks, I am taking it easy, perhaps giving myself the major ambition of reading the final instalment of the Twilight series (I hear she's pregnant in the book, so surely it counts as research), preparing my home for the new arrival, catching up with my friends and relaxing... despite feeling super hyperactive at this stage and trying to cram in as many activities as possible, I need to force myself to remember that this is in fact the calm before the storm. And there's only one month left to go.
Apparently, I may not even have that much time on my side. At a wedding I attended this weekend (the highlight of my current social calendar, and not only because I was finally able to abandon the three cotton maternity dresses I've been wearing EVERY DAY on repeat since February in favour of a spotty dress from Topshop which I'd reserved especially for the occasion) people, including random strangers and family, were speculating that I look like I'm about to pop and will make it two more weeks, max.
And when the mother-of-the-bride, who saw me squeezing myself into one of her chintz-upholstered chairs to listen to the speeches, approached me and asked that I try to refrain from having my waters break on her carpet, though mortified, I managed a smile.
And I secretly willed my baby to come out then and there, although she's already proving to be better behaved than me – she restrained herself.