At 29 weeks pregnant, I have eased my way into the final trimester of my second pregnancy with all the grace of a fat, smoke-belching oil tanker being guided into a narrow port by a poorly trained sea captain. And my arrival has coincided with that of the national heatwave that has buckled railway sleepers, sent clifftops tumbling into the sea and generally made us all lethargic and resentful.
Pregnanter women than me – friends of mine, in fact – are handling things with pragmatic humour. They are allowing themselves the occasional grumble, but mostly keeping calm and carrying on by staying hydrated, being less active and doing all sorts of clever things with bowls of ice and electric fans. However, I am not my friends. I, readers, am far, far more petty. This is how I’ve chosen to deal with the heatwave.
1 Channelling my inner Southern Belle
Despite having the skintone (olive) and ethnicities (Asian and Latin) that cause a certain type of person to proclaim, “But I thought you’d be built for this kind of weather!” 500 times a day throughout the hot months, summer is my absolute nemesis. I have hayfever. I cannot take the heat. I can, quite easily, develop heatstroke on an overcast, moderately breezy day. Basically, I am brown on the outside, but ginger on the inside. Add to this the swollen extremities of pregnancy and the fact that I have the body heat of not one – but two – humans, and you get a lot of lying on chaise longues, sighing, fanning myself melodramatically and sipping on mint juleps while occasionally saying, “Oh my,” to no one in particular. Or peach barley squash with fizzy water, which is the closest thing I have to a mint julep. I don’t actually know what a julep is.
2 Going to bed for ever
I freelance from home four days a week, but all productivity has come to a virtual halt during the hot weather. Even with two fans blowing on me and wet socks on my feet, trying to assemble thoughts in this thicky, sticky air is like trying to bring disparate wisps of cotton wool together to form a new ball. My brain has turned to sludge. I have written the same article twice. I have invoiced the wrong people the wrong amounts. I have phoned an editor and asked why she called. I have let my laptop and phone slide from my (increasingly small) lap, slumped to one side, then slept the fitful, claggy-dreamed sleep of the overheated, for six hours solid. All week. Then told my husband to go and fuck himself when he asked, a bit too innocently, if I enjoyed my nap.
I cannot take the heat. I can, quite easily, develop heatstroke on an overcast, moderately breezy day. Basically, I am brown on the outside, but ginger on the inside
Breathing in air that’s essentially the same temperature as the interior of my body has made me mildly panicky and claustrophobic. Reaching down – achey back, giant bump and protesting knees – to pick something off the floor breaks me out in a prickly sweat in all the main attractiveness areas: moustache, crack, cleavage. And so the clothes have had to go. I have waddled about in full view of the road outside our house and public back garden – frayed pants, faded sports bra and all – completely without shame. Well, almost completely without shame. My two-year-old has taken to looking faintly perturbed and saying, “Where Mummy clothes all gone? Are you all right, Mummy?” but I figure it’s probably character-building for him.
4 Becoming a snide witch
I. Hate. Everything. The itchiness of my bra. The smugness of social media. The way my sandals dig into my feet. The fact that while I can no longer lie on my belly; I can’t lie on my back either . The fact that I am craving impossible things, like chocolate salt. Having to stay hydrated when I have to pee every three minutes on normal amounts of water. I can’t control how I feel, so I channel all this negative energy into generally being unpleasant to be around. I will sit, smiling, fingers laced across my bump, waiting for people to walk into my traps. They will talk and talk at me, and at some point they will mention how hot they are, and it is then that I will bark, “OH, TRY BEING SEVEN MONTHS PREGNANT” and glare at them until they needlessly apologise. I have lost my temper with my son, shouted at the television, sworn at crockery and replied to people on Twitter with irritable little pointless non sequiturs. I have sought out threads on online forums I know will annoy me (“Am I Being Unreasonable To Think That My Friend Is Neglectful Because She Hasn’t Registered Her Unborn Child With A Senior School?”), then snapped at my husband when he’s offered me a cup of tea/asked how I am/breathed too loudly.
And I must admit that a large part of me feels that I should be doing as my friends do – not making too much of a big deal of it, finding ways to have fun in the heat and doing all sorts of clever Pinterest tricks to cool down, like freezing pillowcases and whatnot. But a smaller, pettier part of me recognises that it is far a more satisfying balm on my irritated soul to just wallow and be prickly. So arsebuckets to everything and I’m off to have a nap.