Recap for Blog 54 -Waterproof babies and leaking breasts: When Zani phones Jake, simply bursting with news, Jake asks – he actually asks – who Brandon might be. Men!
And then there it is again … Yes, I’m sure of it. It runs across my tummy once again. It is my baby kicking!
I grab my phone and dial Jake’s number.
“Brandon just moved!”
“What do you mean Brandon just moved? Who’s Brandon?”
“Jake! Your son!”
Jake laughs. “Sorry, I’m still thinking of him as ‘Baby’. He moved? He really moved? How do you know?”
“I just know.”
“So, did he move his left or right arm?”
Peals of laughter.
Over the few weeks Miriam’s regular emails tell us how Brandon defends himself against infections by developing oil glands that allow oil to mix with dead skin which forms vernix caseosa – a cheesy white substance. The skin is covered with lanugo, which holds onto vernix and thus waterproofs the baby.
Brandon is also gaining weight in the form of brown fat that easily turns into energy.
His brain is developing fast and, thanks to the primitive reflexes, nerve signals now travel faster to and from the brain. Because he is working hard, he is also developing regular sleep patterns.
At the 22-week mark his ability to hear is fully formed and his maturing nervous system now enables him to store primitive memories of our voices and of music. Dr de Jager warns that parents are often tempted to bombard a baby with stimulation in in attempt to raise the baby’s IQ. She suggests that mommies move a lot and talk to their baby a lot, but otherwise refrain from using a torch or earphones on the abdomen, because the light might be too bright and the sound blaring through the earphones too loud.
Vee wholeheartedly agrees with the learned woman and says parents should probably just relax and – like parents through all the ages – allow and trust nature to give their babies (irrespective of gender, race or financial means) the right kind of stimulation at the right time and at the right volume.
Brandon’s lungs have now also started to produce surfactant – a substance that helps to keep the lungs open in readiness to breathe in air once he is born – but for now he is only practising breathing movements without any air.
Just as the second trimester is drawing to a close, my breasts start to leak white stuff. Miriam puts my mind to rest that it is all perfectly normal and that my breasts are ready to produce milk – still a very strange thought, I have to admit! My bump starts itching and she warns me to increase moisturising, or it could leave permanent stretch marks.
What scares us a little, though, is her saying that Baby could survive outside the womb with lots of assistance if he were to be born now, but because there is very little fat beneath his skin, he would look old and wrinkled.
“If Brandon is born prematurely, the most vulnerable parts would be the lungs and the eyes because they mature last. Obviously the brain too, but because your pregnancy is perfectly healthy, you don’t need to be concerned about prematurity.
Celebrate your journey and appreciate each other; this is a very special time for you as a couple. These are the last couple of weeks of just the two of you.”
So we continue to marvel at Brandon’s development, the patterns of movement and how he complains when I work for hours on end without a leg and tummy stretch. Jake feels more pregnant too, now that he can clearly feel Brandon move and respond to Jake’s touch and voice.
During the last scan we can clearly see that hair has started growing on Brandon’s little head and that his eyebrows and eyelashes are taking shape. He is entertaining himself endlessly by playing with the umbilical cord; is startled by unexpected and unfamiliar noises, and practises rooting and sucking on his darling little thumb.
As much as we are looking forward to his arrival, Jake and I grow a little silent at times, wondering if we will be able to rise to the challenge of shaping a life without the support of nature taking the lead like it does in utero!