Monthly Archives: September 2009

Week 38 – Ailments and Impatiently Waiting

I do empathise with people who say the last four weeks of pregnancy are the toughest. I’ve not had too many problems up till now, but for me, this last week has been one of the hardest in many ways.  Whereas in the beginning I was just sick and weak all the time, the list of ailments and conditions at the moment make me sound like a hypochondriac!

To start with, there is no such thing as a good night’s sleep anymore.  My routine waking up times for toilet trips are around 01:00, 04:00, 06:00 and 08:00.  The 03:00 or 04:00 waking time is normally accompanied by the inability to return to sleep for a good while, and I usually have to follow self-hypnosis steps to get myself back to it.

As the baby has begun his/her downward movement, my PSD has become progressively worse; understandable as my pelvis now has the baby pressing down lower and heavier on already weak ligaments. The problem is immeasurably worse at night though and in the lying down position, so every single time I turn around I wake up in agony. Of course I’m able to go back to sleep straight away, but even so, it really hurts!

Martin has informed me that I have also begun snoring! Something I’m chagrined to admit, but pleased to discover is perfectly normal at this stage – or even earlier, and elated to know will pass again soon.  It is apparently due to the swelling of the mucus membranes, and the constriction of the respiratory system – in case you were wondering.  Personally, I believe it is to prepare the daddy-to-be for sleepless nights!

Sleepless nights make for low energy days for the mother to be too. I had high hopes of a million things I was going to do BB (Before Baby), but I’m lucky if I can motivate myself off the couch to make a cup of tea on any given day! Some days I’ll have a mid afternoon nap, which is glorious and although I feel a bit groggy for a while afterwards, it does help. In fact, those occasions where I do get an afternoon nap are more refreshing and invigorating than the whole night’s sleep otherwise!

Mobility has become a serious issue. Standing for anything longer than getting the kettle to boil causes serious strain on the lower back, and driving has become an extreme sport – for other road users more than me, really.  Martin says that the signs of my expanding waist line are most evident in the car, as every time he gets in to drive he has to move the seat forward and readjust every mirror.

But, these are physical ailments and afflictions and in the bigger scope of things, they are really not too bad. I know some people have it a whole lot worse, and I’m just grateful that I’ve been able to come as far as I have with as few problems as I have had (although I’ve heard it mentioned at times that I’ve just been really unlucky and had a hard pregnancy. Maybe I’m tougher than most?  That bodes well, anyway!)  Mentally, and psychologically, I sway from totally ready to not ready at all. When I’m in pain or trying to sleep or have random lower abdominal cramps  I am very ready to meet my baby. When I see the drawers and cupboards full of things waiting to be used, or the Moses basket lying there empty, I am ready. When I wonder if the baby will like the vibrating function on the bouncy chair, I am ready.  When it’s a sunny morning and the sun shines in through the blinds and Martin and I lie in bed savouring the rare silence of a Camberwell morning, I am not.

I find somewhat unsettling the sardonic, slightly gleeful glint of the eye that people with experience of children get when they comment on how you’ll never have a minute to yourself again, never sleep in again, or never *insert any topic of conversation here*again – and then proceed to hastily tell you that it’s okay – it’s apparently worth it in the end.  I worry about this human need to terrify, torment or simply unsettle parents to be.  If it’s all so awful, why do people do it over and over again, and why oh why has humanity survived this long?  I take hope in the fact that people still cause miles of highway tailbacks just to get a glimpse of an accident – as a species, we feel okay when we know that someone else is worse off. Ask me in again in six months. I’ll tell you if I still think the same.

Anyway – the midwife comes tomorrow, and I’m keen to know if the baby is in position and everything is ready. I’ll be 39 weeks, so it can happen at any time!

Soon, soon.

Luschka

Week 37 – Maternity Leave & Pregnancy Photos

It really is funny how time stretches to suit your to do list.  Whilst working full time I could do in an evening what it now takes me the whole day to do.  I do suppose my size might have something to with that though.  I’ll give myself the benefit of the doubt.

After a very full weekend of baby shower followed by spending Sunday walking around central London with Bruce and Deanna, I was very grateful on Monday morning not to have to get up and go to work.  I did decide that I would have a productive day though, and did not disappoint myself.  I spent the day giving the kitchen the clean of its lifetime. I mean, it wasn’t exactly dirty to start with, but it practically sparkled by the time I was done!

Martin brought home some unexpected and potentially frightening news on Monday evening. Due to financial problems in the company, they are going to have to reduce the team size. As he was the last person employed 11 months ago – well, it has to be him.  Of course, no one feels good about making redundant an employee who is just about to have a child, but they seem to have no choice.  By law, they don’t have an obligation in terms of redundancy severance as he has not been with them for two years, but fortunately they felt bad enough about it that they are giving him a months’ paid notice which he doesn’t have to work, and as a sign of good will they are throwing in two weeks paid paternity leave too.  By all natural thought, this is a disaster. Here we are three weeks from the birth of our first child, and we are quite suddenly both without employment! We’ve been viewing it as an opportunity though – For some time now, Martin has wanted to return to freelance work, because although it is not a secure income (nor it seems, however, is permanent employment!) it pays better and allows greater flexibility, giving him a wider range of experience, less responsibility and more time to spend at home with the baby.

Tuesday the midwife came around, a new lady named Zeta. She was really lovely. Very encouraging, positive and kind. She brought along the ‘birth kit’ that they leave with all home births from around 36 weeks. I’m dying to know what’s inside, but I’m not allowed to open it, and at risk of contaminating sterile items, I won’t let curiosity get the better of me. She had a look around the kitchen and bathroom and gave the flat the thumbs up, which I was pleased about.  I have heard many horror stories about unsupportive midwives asking about home insurance, landlord waivers and requesting the fire brigade be notified that there will be gas and air canisters in the house, or even worse, midwives trying to scare people out of home births with stories about falling through the floor during labour or trying to assure them of certain death in most situations. Having a bad midwifery team would not have changed my intention to have a home birth, but it would certainly have made me less enthusiastic about calling them when the time comes!  When Zeta left on Tuesday she declared herself happy with the baby’s heart rate and position, my protein levels, weight, general well being, announced that I deserved a healthy, peaceful birth due to my positive attitude and felt sure that this baby was being born in to a positive and loving environment. That was really uplifting, and made me that much more excited.

Apparently Button is still moving around much more than I would have expected because there is a lot of amniotic fluid still in there. Normally by this stage babies start slowing down, moving less and moving downward, but by some oddity there’s more room inside me than I would have expected, and the little one is still perfectly comfortable, flexing toes and muscles, practising grabbing, and batting eyelids.

A serious bonus of not working now is the ability to drift in and out of sleep as and when the desire strikes. It struck for most of Tuesday afternoon, letting up only for the baking of savoury bread and some muffins for dinner.

Thursday evening we had our final antenatal class, where the guys got to go to the pub ‘for old time’s sake’ and the ladies had a session on breast feeding. It was really interesting and I was surprised at how many questions we all have on the issue!  The NHS is very pro breastfeeding, and there is a huge drive to get everyone doing it, but it is really hard for some women, and there can be real difficulties. Of course, I am very keen on breast feeding, not only because of the health benefits for the baby, but also the health benefits for the mom.

One of the major problems with breastfeeding is, in my opinion, the volumes of conflicting advice. Breastfeed immediately says one, later says the other. Feed “on demand”, insist some, whilst others demand that you at routine intervals. Introduce a bottle early on, warns one midwife – the baby will have trouble with the breast if you do, counters another. And so it goes.  There really seems to be only one way forward: The one that works for us.

It was a great session though and I will really miss Sofie and her fantastic antenatal service. She really gave us the pros and cons objectively and allowed us to make up our own minds. The other couples we met were great too – we were such a blend of expectations and desires, and that made for a very interesting course.

On Saturday Martin and I drove to Jacques’ house in North London (Jacques in an old friend from school who worked as a photographer for a while) to take some pregnancy photos.  It was a perfect September day in London. We had beautiful sunshine and a cool breeze, different to the stifling heat or miserable rain we’ve had recently, and the long evening shadows made for beautiful photography. Although I am particularly uncomfortable on that side of a camera, I know I will treasure these pictures in the years to come:

Pregnancy Photos

So now we’re in to the final countdown.  We have one weekend left to finish the nursery/guestroom as my parents arrive on the 26th of September. The baby is ‘due’ on the 28th, although this really is something of a guesstimate. In the meantime I’m drinking as much red raspberry leaf as I can stomach (generally about two to three cups a day) and taking evening primrose oil.  I have my Swiss ball on hand and move off the sofa on to it every so often to make sure baby stays in the right, back to belly position and I am vacuuming and mopping the floors regularly to keep my spine bent forward for a few minutes a day, all to encourage the baby to stay put. Martin gives me a geranium oil foot massage whenever my ankles swell up too much from water retention, and in general I am happy, healthy and most important of all, content.  I have not packed an ‘emergency’ hospital bag, and my birth box is not ready with everything I’ll need on the day, but the nappy bag is packed and ready for our first day trip out of the house!  The Moses basket is ready for its guest, and wrapped up to keep it clean, and all the baby towels, blankets and clothes have been washed, dried and returned, waiting patiently to fulfil their potential.

Right now it seems like everything is waiting, ready, perched and poised for an arrival that will transform this married couple in to a young family.

Booties all washed and waiting
Booties all washed and waiting
Nappies waiting patiently
Nappies waiting patiently

Luschka

Week 37 – Maternity Leave & Pregnancy Photos

It really is funny how time stretches to suit your to do list.  Whilst working full time I could do in an evening what it now takes me the whole day to do.  I do suppose my size might have something to with that though.  I’ll give myself the benefit of the doubt.

After a very full weekend of baby shower followed by spending Sunday walking around central London with Bruce and Deanna, I was very grateful on Monday morning not to have to get up and go to work.  I did decide that I would have a productive day though, and did not disappoint myself.  I spent the day giving the kitchen the clean of its lifetime. I mean, it wasn’t exactly dirty to start with, but it practically sparkled by the time I was done!

Martin brought home some unexpected and potentially frightening news on Monday evening. Due to financial problems in the company, they are going to have to reduce the team size. As he was the last person employed 11 months ago – well, it has to be him.  Of course, no one feels good about making redundant an employee who is just about to have a child, but they seem to have no choice.  By law, they don’t have an obligation in terms of redundancy severance as he has not been with them for two years, but fortunately they felt bad enough about it that they are giving him a months’ paid notice which he doesn’t have to work, and as a sign of good will they are throwing in two weeks paid paternity leave too.  By all natural thought, this is a disaster. Here we are three weeks from the birth of our first child, and we are quite suddenly both without employment! We’ve been viewing it as an opportunity though – For some time now, Martin has wanted to return to freelance work, because although it is not a secure income (nor it seems, however, is permanent employment!) it pays better and allows greater flexibility, giving him a wider range of experience, less responsibility and more time to spend at home with the baby.

Tuesday the midwife came around, a new lady named Zeta. She was really lovely. Very encouraging, positive and kind. She brought along the ‘birth kit’ that they leave with all home births from around 36 weeks. I’m dying to know what’s inside, but I’m not allowed to open it, and at risk of contaminating sterile items, I won’t let curiosity get the better of me. She had a look around the kitchen and bathroom and gave the flat the thumbs up, which I was pleased about.  I have heard many horror stories about unsupportive midwives asking about home insurance, landlord waivers and requesting the fire brigade be notified that there will be gas and air canisters in the house, or even worse, midwives trying to scare people out of home births with stories about falling through the floor during labour or trying to assure them of certain death in most situations. Having a bad midwifery team would not have changed my intention to have a home birth, but it would certainly have made me less enthusiastic about calling them when the time comes!  When Zeta left on Tuesday she declared herself happy with the baby’s heart rate and position, my protein levels, weight, general well being, announced that I deserved a healthy, peaceful birth due to my positive attitude and felt sure that this baby was being born in to a positive and loving environment. That was really uplifting, and made me that much more excited.

Apparently Button is still moving around much more than I would have expected because there is a lot of amniotic fluid still in there. Normally by this stage babies start slowing down, moving less and moving downward, but by some oddity there’s more room inside me than I would have expected, and the little one is still perfectly comfortable, flexing toes and muscles, practising grabbing, and batting eyelids.

A serious bonus of not working now is the ability to drift in and out of sleep as and when the desire strikes. It struck for most of Tuesday afternoon, letting up only for the baking of savoury bread and some muffins for dinner.

Thursday evening we had our final antenatal class, where the guys got to go to the pub ‘for old time’s sake’ and the ladies had a session on breast feeding. It was really interesting and I was surprised at how many questions we all have on the issue!  The NHS is very pro breastfeeding, and there is a huge drive to get everyone doing it, but it is really hard for some women, and there can be real difficulties. Of course, I am very keen on breast feeding, not only because of the health benefits for the baby, but also the health benefits for the mom.

One of the major problems with breastfeeding is, in my opinion, the volumes of conflicting advice. Breastfeed immediately says one, later says the other. Feed “on demand”, insist some, whilst others demand that you at routine intervals. Introduce a bottle early on, warns one midwife – the baby will have trouble with the breast if you do, counters another. And so it goes.  There really seems to be only one way forward: The one that works for us.

It was a great session though and I will really miss Sofie and her fantastic antenatal service. She really gave us the pros and cons objectively and allowed us to make up our own minds. The other couples we met were great too – we were such a blend of expectations and desires, and that made for a very interesting course.

On Saturday Martin and I drove to Jacques’ house in North London (Jacques in an old friend from school who worked as a photographer for a while) to take some pregnancy photos.  It was a perfect September day in London. We had beautiful sunshine and a cool breeze, different to the stifling heat or miserable rain we’ve had recently, and the long evening shadows made for beautiful photography. Although I am particularly uncomfortable on that side of a camera, I know I will treasure these pictures in the years to come:

Pregnancy Photos

So now we’re in to the final countdown.  We have one weekend left to finish the nursery/guestroom as my parents arrive on the 26th of September. The baby is ‘due’ on the 28th, although this really is something of a guesstimate. In the meantime I’m drinking as much red raspberry leaf as I can stomach (generally about two to three cups a day) and taking evening primrose oil.  I have my Swiss ball on hand and move off the sofa on to it every so often to make sure baby stays in the right, back to belly position and I am vacuuming and mopping the floors regularly to keep my spine bent forward for a few minutes a day, all to encourage the baby to stay put. Martin gives me a geranium oil foot massage whenever my ankles swell up too much from water retention, and in general I am happy, healthy and most important of all, content.  I have not packed an ‘emergency’ hospital bag, and my birth box is not ready with everything I’ll need on the day, but the nappy bag is packed and ready for our first day trip out of the house!  The Moses basket is ready for its guest, and wrapped up to keep it clean, and all the baby towels, blankets and clothes have been washed, dried and returned, waiting patiently to fulfil their potential.

Right now it seems like everything is waiting, ready, perched and poised for an arrival that will transform this married couple in to a young family.

Booties all washed and waiting
Booties all washed and waiting
Nappies waiting patiently
Nappies waiting patiently

Luschka

Week 36 – End of Employment and a Baby Shower

I had a very stressful 36th week of pregnancy – not so much due to the pregnancy, necessarily as the week itself. It was my final week at work, and I had so much to do and finish up. Although I was only due to go on maternity leave, I was also told on the last day that I would not be required back in January. As I am a contractor, they are completely within their rights to do that, but it did go against the verbal agreements we had in place.

I was quite taken aback, and upset at the time, but with the clarity of hindsight I am relieved.  Martin didn’t really want me to go back in January as the baby will only be about three months old, but I wanted to complete the project I had started and at least stay till March, part time, to fulfil my commitment.  This way there is no obligation to do so – there is also no certainty of income, but that’s a separate day’s problem!

The fact that I had been awake for much of Thursday night, 3rd of September, with the baby moving so much I could not actually get to sleep, or would wake up if I managed, did not help my mental state on Friday, which is partly why I was so upset I think.

Was it not for the pregnancy, I would have had a very stiff Vodka that night.  But office cleared, desk emptied, out of office updated and voicemail changed I had an early night on Friday, hoping to feel better on Saturday morning, and really looking forward to my baby shower!

Saturday morning dawned and I felt no better. I had to really psyche myself up to even go to the baby shower – although there was no way I would miss it, a room full of people was not really what I was in the mood for. But what a stunning evening it turned out to be.

There was disappointment in the fact that my sister, who had organised everything from Norway, had had her visa declined the day before and was not able to travel come, and although she had sent various items by post, they had not arrived (in fact they had, but the post office had put HER name on the parcel slip, so Gloria had not been able to pick them up as it was in the wrong name!) She was able to ‘join’ us by webcam though, which was a real bonus as she was able to feel ‘part’ of it, even though she couldn’t be there.

Glitches aside though, it was a great afternoon.  I was really touched by the effort everyone had made.  I had friends there from Bath, Nick and Dom, and a friend from Bristol, Nat.  Almost all our London based friends had been able to make it and even Bruce and Deanna, a couple from South Carolina, USA, came for the weekend!

Make up madness

Make up madness

Two friends, Gloria and Jacques, hosted the party which was held at Gloria’s house, and they played a few (mean!) games, including asking Martin questions, then later asking me the same questions and ‘punishing’ me by means of my blindfolded friend Nat applying make up to me, if I did not get the answer the same as Martin’s!  They also fed me awful baby puree and made me guess the flavours and so on!  The best game was a timed game of change- the -baby’s- nappy- whilst- blindfolded between Martin and I, which I’m worried to say I won, and managed to keep the ‘baby’ face up at all times! (Worried, because it might mean that I’ll be changing more nappies!)

Martin practising night time nappy changes

Martin practising night time nappy changes

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Gloria made a delicious chocolate fudge cake (three of my favourite things in the title alone) and a gorgeous trifle, and everyone brought snacks. It was really great to spend time with people I haven’t seen much over the pregnancy due to my sickness and general exhaustion.

Gloria had also made the biggest nappy cake I have ever seen!  It was 8 layers of nappies interspersed with all sorts of goodies – a toiletries box for baby bath items, baby clothes, shoes, hats, mittens, teething dummies, muslins, lullaby CD, toys and more. It was a simply amazing gift, and a serious centrepiece for any babyshower!

Martin and Dom preparing to take the Nappy Cake to the car

Martin and Dom preparing to take the Nappy Cake to the car

When it came to presents, I had the biggest shock of the day.  My friend Nick handed me a gift which I began to open. I saw the box, and I saw the words Canon SX20IS, and I burst in to tears! A group of friends had clubbed together and bought the new camera that I have been pining for since mine broke. Unfortunately there was simply no way we were going to be able to afford a new camera with this little one on the way, and I had given up on any hope of having a ‘decent’ camera by the time Button comes along. The surprise overwhelmed me and the more I practice with my camera the more I’m overwhelmed at the generosity and kindness of my friends, family and husband for this amazing present.

The rest of the gifts were no less significant, despite a comment from someone that I’d have to be as excited about all the presents now to not make anyone feel bad! Following from the baby shower, and gifts we’ve received by post we have very few things left to purchase,  and those that we do are mainly for me, rather than the baby (like maternity bras) and I cannot describe how special this whole experience has been. I am so touched by the love and care  people have shown us. Nick and Lindi have both said that it is because of the love and friendship that I show to other people, but I have to admit, this whole thing has humbled me.

I took a number of trips from Gloria’s house to the car to get everything loaded up, and I took a little while to look through photos when we finally got home, but I slept so well on Saturday night. The stresses of the week forgotten, the worries about the future unimportant, I slept peacefully, basking in the welcoming glow of this new phase of life opening  up before me.

Most of the baby shower guests (with my sister on the laptop!)

Most of the baby shower guests (with my sister on the laptop!)

Us - tired but very happy

Us - tired but very happy

Gloria and Kate went all out with the Peter Pan themed decor

Gloria and Kate went all out with the Peter Pan themed decor

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