“Do Everything Now. Do It. Do It All Now!”

That seems to be the number one piece of advice that people want to give me at the moment. Which is funny, considering that a couple of months ago some of the same people were berating me for wanting to take so much maternity leave before the birth. It seems there is a generally held belief that once you have a baby, life is pretty much over, and therefore you should take advantage of your last shreds of freedom and do as much as humanly possible (or pregnantly possible!) with it.

I don’t believe at all that life will be over, but I do now that it will be very different and so I think I’ve been doing a pretty good job at making the most of this time, to be honest. Less than two weeks in to maternity leave I’ve already had a couple of long lunches with friends, been for a pregnancy massage and made a sizeable dent in some reading and craft projects. This weekend we’re off on a babymoon, and so we decided to kick the weekend off yesterday with a proper date night to complete the experience – and make use of one of our last opportunities for some time to go to the theatre. (And the last opportunity for a very, very long time to go without worrying about a babysitter!).

But before that, I headed to Margate for the day. Back in August, when we had our 4d scan part of the package was a free pregnancy photo shoot at a studio down on the coast. The shoot and one picture are free, so not one of those things with a dodgy catch that you have to spend a fortune on the pictures. Of course, I’m sure that they will try to sell us plenty of extra pictures, but despite this, and despite the fact that I have another shoot already booked for next week, I decided I may as well make take advantage of the offer and have fun. Given that I can’t drive at the moment, it’s not the easiest place to get to, but I figured it would be an adventure and a useful way to pass a day. So off I treked on the train this morning, schlepping a bag of outfit changes in addition to my big pregnant tum. It turned out to be swelteringly hot day, especially for the end of September, and I was extremely grateful for the air-conditioned comfort of the HS1 train from Ashford!

The shoot was good fun. We did some simple shots using black and white tops, and a shirt of Ian’s that I “borrowed”. Some of the shots felt a bit cliched – especially the one where the photographer had me make a heart with your thumb and fingers over the bump – but given that I wasn’t paying, I’m not particularly bothered by that. It was fun to flaunt my curvy shape and revel in the sort of body confidence I wish I had at all times. Hopefully we’ll have some really nice shots to choose from when we head back down there is a couple of weeks.

Following the shoot, I whiled away some time in a lovely cafe, stuffing myself with an all day breakfast – not the heart-healthiest of foods, but easy to turn in to a low carb option – and watched the waves washing against the shore with seagull circling ahead, before catching the train up to London.

I met Ian after work and he walked whilst I waddled, over to the Charing Cross Road where we picked up some dinner. It was such a beautiful, hot early evening that I was really tempted to have a sneaky small glass of wine. These are the occasions on which I most miss alcohol. A Pimms would have been lovely too. But with absolutely no justification for it, I resisted and made do with a Diet Coke. We finished up the day watching Blood Brothers. In the eighteen or so years since I first saw it, I’d forgotten just how good it is.

By the time I slumped on to a seat on the train, I was absolutely dead on my feet. My very swollen feet that retained the marks of my shoes long, long after I’d taken them off. This is the first major swelling that I’ve run in to this pregnancy and I’m hoping a combination of the heat and being on my feet for so much of the day are the primary causes, rather than anything sinister like the start of pre-eclampsia.

Oh well, it’s the perfect excuse to spend the weekend with my feet up. And what better place than by the coast on such a glorious day, which promises to turn in to a glorious weekend!

Big Pants

This morning I found myself being ordered by my husband to “just go out and buy some big pants”.

You see, I’ve been procrastinating about packing my hospital bag. It was on my list of things to do as soon as I started maternity leave, and it was something that I was actually looking forward to. Looking ahead to it, it seemed exciting to think about gathering together all the little bits and pieces I’ll need when we bring our little one in to the world, and it seemed to signify the beginning of the end. But now that I’m here, it is actually just making me think “Woah, this is really happening and I’m not ready.” The irony here, of course, is that without the bag packed I’m quite right: I’m not ready!

There have been other obstacles, though, to actually getting it done. Like getting out and buying miniature sized toiletries, and making sure my pyjamas are washed. The there has been the little crisis about clothes  that has prevented me from getting the baby’s stuff ready. And then there have been big pants.

Yes. BIG. Pants.

The single biggest stumbling block to getting my hospital bag packed.

Everyone tells you all about how you need to pack plenty of pants for after the birth. The “official lists” (in places like the NHS pregnancy literature) suggest disposable pants. And honestly, not many thoughts right now could horrify me more, including the thought of my waters breaking in public. The idea of wearing crinkly paper pants that likely will not fit at all, and potentially will chaff horribly, when I’m almost certainly going to be feeling pretty sore…. No thank you. The suggestion from real women who’ve been there is just to buy big, cheap granny knickers that you can always throw away after the birth if needs be. Preferably in black in case of leakage,  so I’m told. (Between you and I… ewwwwww, I do not want to think about this. And I’m so not ready.) Apparently they need to be big to hold the maternity pads mattresses in place, and come up nice and high in case of a c-section, to avoid the scar line. (Lala lala la la… I can’t hear yoooooou.)

So what I’ve really been procrastinating about is not packing the bag, it’s going out to buy said granny pants. I’m not sure why it’s such a stumbling block. I’ll be a heavily pregnant woman in the middle of the M&S lingerie department. No one is going to think that I’m actually going for sexy, and failing. I think, I hope, it will be obvious why I’m buying gigantic granny knickers that would put Bridget Jones to shame. But somehow it still hasn’t got done.

We’re going away this weekend, on a little last-weekend-away-without-baby thing, also known as a Babymoon. (No, I didn’t know that either.) It would seem sensible to toss the bag and my maternity notes in the boot of the car “just in case”. (And because I have an irrational theory that having it there will actually prevent anything from happening. Because sod’s law dictates I will only go in to premature labour miles away from home if I’m completely unprepared with no hospital bag. And hence no big pants.)

Which is why my husband felt the need to order me to go and buy big knickers. And which is why I‘m sitting here writing this… procrastinating!

Swimming in the Sunshine

It’s been unseasonably hot this week. Which is great for the fact that I haven’t bought a maternity coat, and nor do I want to, so every day that I don’t need a coat is a bonus. It’s not so good for the fact that I’m getting scarily massive and carrying a baby in your belly is a little like having your own personal central heating system that is permanently switched on, and turned to high.

In an effort to cool down, as well as get some exercise and keep the baby lying in the right position, I went swimming this afternoon. I’ve been swimming fairly regularly throughout this pregnancy. I enjoy being able to exercise freely, without straining my back and joints. Flangelina seems to enjoy it too, bobbing around in their own watery place whilst I plough up and down the length of our local swimming pool. He or she is invariably super active when I emerge, which I tend to take as a sign of approval.

This afternoon it was so hot, sunny and just plain… well, nice, outside, that I decided to brave the outdoor pool. And it was beautiful. Sunlight sparkling off the surface of the warm water and a distinct smell of summer in the air, despite the calendar saying that autumn should be upon us. It was fantastic to float in the water, feeling it take my not inconsiderable weight. I sculled on my back in the water for a while, with my bump floating up to, and just protruding above, the surface, looking for all the world like a little lost whale. I had to laugh as a limb popped up and prodded the bump as if to say “get moving again mummy”.

The hardest part is always getting out, when I suddenly have to take all my own weight again. My legs feel like lead and it feels as though I have a ton weight strapped to my front. I often swim in the evenings, so I have to get out as the pool approaches closure. This afternoon I had nothing else to do, nowhere to hurry to and no reason to get out. So I spent a good two hours submerged in the water. I definitely felt heavy when I got out, but I felt wonderfully relaxed, which made me feel sort of free too.

A Crisis About Clothes

I’ve been having a bit of a crisis about baby clothes. Or more specifically, about baby clothes not fitting our baby.

Since we’ve elected not to find out the gender of our child, we actually haven’t bought that many clothes. This is partly because we might want to buy some more gender specific clothes once they’re born, but also because it’s actually remarkably difficult to find that many unisex clothes, even in newborn size, unless you want to dress them purely in white or cream. Most of the ones that we have found seem to have a bit of a boyish bent too, but I may just feel that way because I’m convinced we’re having a boy. So we’ve bought a small selection in a mixture of Newborn size and 0-3 months size.

The problem is that I’ve completely convinced myself that we’ll be having a big, fat baby. And lately, I’ve convinced myself that big and fat means way more than 10lbs, which means that “Newborn” size (generally “Up to 10lb”) won’t fit even when they are actually a newborn. For some reason it’s become the focus of all my fears about the baby’s size. Ridiculously, I feel sad, to the point of tears, that some of the cute sleepsuits we’ve got might not actually fit our baby. I’m also worried that because we’ve divided our buying between the two sizes, we might find that we have way too little stuff to actually dress them in, if half of it doesn’t fit at all. In really irrational moments I can actually imagine the midwives tittering about the silly girl who didn’t bring any clothes to fit her baby, as they try to rustle something up to dress it in whilst Ian makes a mad dash to the shops in the first hours of our baby’s life.

It may seem like a silly thing to worry about, but it’s actually keeping me up at night. Along with the question of how much to unpack and wash. I can’t decide whether to keep some of the newborn size clothes and vests in their packages and unwashed, until we see if we will need them. That way, we could swap some for the next size up. Or do we just swap them all anyway, on the basis that 0-3 is likely to fit pretty much from birth in any event, and that way I guarantee not wasting any clothes. And not feeling bad that I don’t get to see our little bundle in some of the stuff we’ve picked out. These thoughts go round in my head at night, chased by all the numbers I’ve seen on my meter that day as I try to calculate the probability of not having a big, fat baby

Written down like this, they do seem such silly, trivial worries. But they represent something much deeper for me. It’s this nagging fear about having a big baby, which leads back to the worry that I’m not doing a good enough job of looking after myself to keep him or her safe. I’m even beating myself up with sleepsuits now. Teeny, tiny cute sleepsuits, but they pack a right punch.

My Burning Heart

It feels like my heart is on fire.

Literally. The pain is in the middle of my chest, behind my ribs, extending down to the top of my bump where I imagine my belly is squashed. And it’s relentless.

I’m not sure exactly when the heartburn got so bad. I was expecting it to turn up, like an old friend, for much of the beginning of my pregnancy, because I’ve suffered on and off with gastro-oesophageal reflux for a number of years. I remember that I once wrote about how it hadn’t occurred yet. But I also know that I’ve been getting Gaviscon on prescription for weeks. Not that it helps all that much any more.

I don’t think writing it down can really do justice to just how uncomfortable this can be. It’s present in the background for most of the time, but it’s always worse at night, despite sleeping (ha! That would be nice!) propped up on several pillows. Every time I eat, it also gets worse. Some foods will bring a bit a relief in the short term – like milk – but ultimately they will still worsen it.  I’m trying to drink plenty of water to calm things down, but I’m also literally swigging Gaviscon out of the bottle all day and night, and I’m so thankful for the day they started selling it in little sachets that I can carry around wherever I go.

I’m also starting to struggle with eating too much at one time. I quickly feel full and uncomfortable, especially with carb-heavy food such as pasta. My belly can’t possibly balloon out any more after eating, so instead it seems to push up towards my throat. Lying down immediately after a meal is a definite no-no, as is trying to walk too far.

Of course those pesky old wives would tell me that all this heart burn and discomfort is a sign that I’m carrying a hairy baby. I suspect that I probably am, but not down to the heartburn. More down to the fact that both Ian and I had full heads of dark hair when we were born.

So the only positive is that I know I’ll get relief once the baby is born and no longer pressing all my organs upwards. And painful as it is, it seems worth suffering in order to have a baby that is so, so wanted.

Baby Brain

Apparently “they” say that baby brain doesn’t exist. I’m not sure who “they” are, but “they” say a lot of things.

Over the last few days though, I’ve become convincd that baby brain does not only exist, but it is also afflicting me.

Just making cups of tea alone, I’ve attempted to use fabric conditioner instead of milk, and I’ve attempted to make it – as in poured in water and milk – without a tea bag. I’ve also put a dirty dinner plate back in the cupboard instead of the dishwasher, and put Ian’s socks on instead of my own. I’ve completely lost count of the number of times I’ve gone upstairs to do something, and by the time I get there I’ve completely forgotten what it was I wanted.

Maybe it is because I’m so preoccupied with thinking about baby, rather than actual physiological process affecting my brain. But I do hope this stupidity passes after the baby is born!

The Mystery of the Missing Chair

Last week I ordered one of the last big bits of equipment for the nursery: a glider chair. I’ve wanted one of these since I sat on one in John Lewis when I was about twenty two weeks pregnant. Sliding backwards and forwards felt so soothing, and I could just picture myself with my baby across me, doing night feeds and rocking off to sleep. (I can dream, anyway!)

I didn’t want to buy from somewhere like John Lewis or Mothercare though, because they are ridiculously expensive chairs in those shops! Especially when you can buy the exact same thing from a number of online outlets for literally a fraction of the cost. About a quarter of the cost, to be more specific. And I wanted to wait until I was on maternity leave to order it, so that I could be more likely to be at home when it was delivered. I finally got around to last week, choosing a company who specified a delivery time frame which meant that I should be in to receive it. It was due to arrive this past Tuesday, but didn’t. I didn’t have time to chase it up on Wednesday, but still no chair arrived, so I finally gave the company a call to see if we could figure out what had happened.

As it turned out, the chair had been delivered. Just not to me. In an administrative fuck mess up, it had been delivered to someone else who had ordered something else entirely. Yet strangely, on receiving a large glider chair that they hadn’t ordered, rather than ring the company to report it, they just decided to keep it! It reminds me a bit of the occasion earlier in the year when I was woken early on a Saturday morning by a banging on the front door and upon opening it a man in overalls shouted “I’ll just get it off the van.” Bemused, wondering exactly what it was he was going to “get off the van” I looked down the road to see another guy beginning to unload a brand new washing machine. But at that point I began shouting and waving at him that no, he’d got the wrong house. Evidently not everyone would do the same!

Fortunately I’m not expected to wait for the chair to be returned. A new one has been express dispatched to me and is due to arrive on Monday!