Well, I'd start simple. Maybe a 9-patch (sort of a checkerboard). So each square would be 9 more squares. Maybe you could do your theme using color and pattern rather than a really elaborate illustration (which is likely to get too overwhelming as you progress in your pregnancy). The surprise could be two very bright colors. The morning sickness could be pukey colors... Just a thought.
Machine piecing a 9-patch would be pretty easy. As for hand quilting, you can make it as easy or as difficult as you like. You might check out local quilt stores as they usually have hand quilting classes for beginners. At my store, the class is about 2 hours. And it gave me a really good grasp on the rocking stitch that most quilters use. It's only improved by practice, and a baby quilt is a great place to get that.
If you need any more help or have other questions feel free to PM me.