Preparation For Parenthood

I can’t sleep. Again.

When I expressed to a friend earlier in the week that I’ve reached the stage where I can’t wait for the baby to be born, they told me to “be patient and enjoy sleep whilst I can”. I scoffed involuntarily.

“Sleep?’ I said “What’s that then? I can’t remember the last time I had a proper one!”

Between the heartburn, the struggling to get comfortable whilst worrying about what position I’m in,  needing a crane to shift myself should I choose to alter that position, and needing to trek to the bathroom at least once an hour to have a little dribble of a pee, sleeping is not something that I’m doing much of.

I’m trying to regard it as Mother Nature’s way of preparing me for what’s in store. After all, you can’t store up sleep, so there would be little to be gained by getting lots of it right now. Far better that I practice going without so it won’t come as quite such a shock.

And it seems that Mother Nature is not leaving Ian out of the prep either. According to him when I do sleep I snore loudly enough to wake the dead. And when I’m not sleeping allegedly I’m fidgeting and sighing. It’s all just to make sure that he is getting prepared too!

Full Term

37 weeks.

I’m officially “Full term”. Meaning that if the baby makes an appearance now, it’s considered perfectly “normal”. They wont be considered early and there will be no automatic need for special care or monitoring beyond standard blood glucose checks in the first 12 hours.

I’m not sure if it’s perfectly normal to feel such a sense of achievement at reaching this arbitrary mark. I suspect it probably is, but diabetes always makes achieving all these “normal” benchmarks that little bit sweeter.

Of course, now I’m just uber-impatient to meet this little dude or dudette. I feel enormous. I practically need a crane to shift me off the sofa and rolling over in bed is like moving an articulated lorry. I can’t sleep for more than an hour or so between the horrific heartburn and the almost constant need to pee. Which wouldn’t be so frustrating if every time I drag myself to the bathroom more than a dribble would appear!! I’m also permanently hot, with my in-built central heating, and all the effort of moving around just makes that worse. My rings don’t remotely fit and my ankles have been replaced by genuine bona-fide cankles. I’m so hormonal that the Dulux advert reduces me to tears – ridiculous!

Still, I don’t mean to moan. I feel incredibly blessed to have fallen pregnant, let alone reached this stage with fairly minimal problems. Pregnancy may be uncomfortable and damned hard work, but it is still a magical process that I feel lucky to have experienced.

I do really want to meet the child that we’ve created now though. I want to see who they are and welcome them to the outside world where I can snuggle them close. And I’m all the more impatient for knowing that all the statistics show that now is a perfectly safe time for them to make that entrance. It’s hard to remain patient, but at least I know it won’t be any more than another 3 weeks. That’s one positive of diabetes – it spares me the potential two week post-dates wait.


I haven’t been able to wear my wedding and engagement rings where they belong, on the third finger of my left hand, since our babymoon adventure. Without them, I feel a bit naked.

Being married is important to me. I’m proud to have made a public declaration of my love, and commitment to my husband. Being married, as a soon to be mother, is even more important to me. I may simply be old fashioned, but on a practical level it also offers several legal protections for each of us and our unborn child. I always wanted to be married before I had children and to me, doing it the other way around would have felt backward. Whilst it wasn’t for me, I wouldn’t judge other people who choose to remain unmarried – at the end of the day it’s their business. But I also know that there are plenty of people out there who do judge. Usually older women, who I catch surreptitiously checking my hand out for jewellery. So I dislike not wearing my rings because other people won’t know that I am married.

It doesn’t help that I look young. I was asked to prove that I was over eighteen as recently as the beginning of this year, at the age of 31. I overheard a lady a few weeks ago make a comment about young mothers as I passed. I should be grateful for looking younger than my years, but I want these people to realise that I’m married, committed to my husband and future family. The very fact that they wish to judge people is wrong, and as much as they may judge me, I judge them for doing that. But whilst people persist in doing it, I don’t want to be the object of their judgments when they are totally inaccurate.

Remembering Morning Sickness

Morning sickness, or more accurately all day sickness , is fortunately in the past. And it feels a really long time ago that I was struggling with feeling so awful. I used to drag myself home from work and curl up on the sofa, feeling nauseous and exhausted. I struggled to find food that I fancied eating, existing mostly on Cheerios, yogurt, jelly and mini Mars bars, with the occasional plate of macaroni cheese. Those early weeks seemed to drag on and on and on. I’m so glad that they have passed.

The odd thing, though, is that in just a moment the memory of exactly how I felt all those weeks ago can come flooding back and more often than not it’s the television that sets it off.

You see, when I was curling up on the sofa after work, I invariably had some trash on the TV. I would often watch Challenge with re-runs of shows like The Crystal Maze and Catchphrase. Later in the evening, Ian would often switch over to How it’s Made on Quest. Six months later, any one of those programmes instantly makes me feel just as queasy and drained as I felt when I was watching them back then.

I don’t think Ian really gets my sudden aversion to shows that I used to quite happily allow to run in the background all the time. I don’t understand either, but the power of association is evidently strong! And it’s not just television. Music is a powerful reminder too. For some reason I can no longer listen to Adele, as her music seemed to be constantly on the radio at work during my first trimester.

I wonder if these memories will fade. I wonder if in a future pregnancy (if we chose to go through this again!) I feel so awful again I won’t mind watching those shows, or if they will make me feel twice as bad. I’ll certainly be mindful of what I do watch and do, in case I end up hating something that I currently love. Fortunately I can live without How It’s Made in my life!

Babymoon Adventure

Does my bump look big in this?

When we booked to go away to the coast this past weekend, we expected that it was going to be autumnal. We wanted a few days to spend together as a couple for the last time before the baby, and so envisaged curling up in front of the log burner, and wrapping up for blustery walks along the beach. What we got was very different. The hottest October day on record at a scorching thirty degrees!

The house that we booked, down at Camber Sands, was right on the beach. The door opened on to the sand and we could hear the waves rolling all night. It turned out to be a little piece of heaven. In the warm early mornings, while the tide was out and the day trippers yet to arrives, we took glorious long walks along the water’s edge, our bare feet sinking through the sand, stopping to collect shells that I have a vague idea of sing for some craft project. As the beach filled up with sunbathers until hardly a square inch of sand was visible, and they began to scorch and roast under the hot sun, we retreated in to the shade of our house where we played board games and relaxed. As darkness wrapped itself around the dunes, we cosied up cooking lovely meals, watching DVDs and then gazing at the stars, before sharing a bath in the giant corner tub.

The only downside was that the degree of heat does not mix too well with heavy pregnancy. My feet swelled up to such a degree that I broke the only pair of flip flops I’d taken with me. (We had to search out more, along with sun cream, and it turned out that the beach-front shop from which we bought them had re-opened especially due to the hot weather!) I had to spend much of our indoor time with my feet propped up on a tall pile of cushions, and each walk we went for seemed to make them balloon yet more. My fingers were so puffed out that my wedding and engagement ring are currently residing on a chain around my neck. And I couldn’t walk too far or do too much without feeling utterly exhausted. But that was OK, since relaxation was our primary aim anyway.

It was odd to think that this was our last baby free holiday, just the two of us. I couldn’t help myself keep imaging a similar trip with our child in tow. Watching them paddle in the water, collect shells and build castles in the sand. It was a fantastic weekend, but I feel ready now for what’s coming next.

“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!