The beginning of a routine

No, we aren’t there yet, not by a country mile. What I’m going to share over the next…however long it takes…is how getting some kind of order into our life goes. 

So far, we have simply started by getting Sam up earlier in the mornings rather than letting him (and me!) have a nice long lie-in. 

This ruined our weekend. 

Sam was exhausted having suddenly lost hours of sleep. 

On Saturday he did nap during the day, but maybe too much. He was awake until 10pm, having first been fine, then got himself incredibly worked up and whinged solidly for about an hour while I rocked him to sleep. 

On Sunday we had our long awaited NCT reunion lunch. We got Sam up at 8am and he was happy as anything playing in his jumperoo with Carl. Fed and fell asleep on me at about 9.15…too early for a nap really but I didn’t immediately realise he’d stopped feeding to sneak one in! We left just before 12, after the next feed, and he slept for 15 minutes in the car, waking up about 10 minutes after arriving. This was the beginning of the nightmare. He is miserable when woken up and each time we managed to get him back to sleep, something woke him again. He basically cried for the entire lunch from 12.30-3.45 with short calm breaks for feeding or a brief nap. 

After a feed to calm him for the drive home, he slept in the car and woke up about 15 minutes after arriving back. Since he really was exhausted, I lay him on the sofa to do a lie-down feed. We both slept until 5.30…a 1.5 hour nap. Worst timing ever. After Sam’s bath, he pretty much cried until 10.30. It was like being in hell. 

Monday. Up at 8am and he happily played with Carl until 10. He then fed and, unusually, didn’t fall sleep. Presumably because I wanted him to. 

The yawning began. 

The rocking commenced. 

After half an hour of whinging, I popped him in the stroller and set off round Capel. He slept for an hour, only waking when a motorbike scared him (I left him outside after the walk). After a feed, we left to collect my sister and head for Polesden Lacey for a walk. When we arrived, Sam surprised me by tolerating the sling for a little while! However, he wouldn’t nap in sling, stroller or my arms, despite being tired so, by the time we left….loud shouty crying. I did manage to get him to take a short nap before bath time and, after the bath ordeal, he fed well and went to sleep by 6…

And woke up at 6.45. After a fair struggle (interspersed with smiles and a lot of fist sucking) he went back to sleep at 9. Better than his usual 10.30 anyway. 

I’ve learned the hard way that a baby who misses a nap they desperately need is going to be beyond miserable and so overtired that they can’t physically calm themselves to go to sleep. Also, changing his bedtime by 3-4 hours is not going to be quick, or easy.

This week is going to focus on getting him up earlier and helping him have proper naps during the day any way I can. 

So…it’s not a great start but it has to get better, right!? 

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Do what you feel is right for you

38 weeks

38 weeks

Now just over 38 weeks, we had a midwife appointment booked for tomorrow. However, after our uninspiring visit last time (when we were wrongly told our baby was Breech and sent for a scan she hadn’t actually booked us in for), we were less than keen to see her again.

I spoke to the wonderful Jude (our NCT teacher) who calmed me after the whole fiasco and advised that we go with what we feel is right. After a great deal of thought – since all the appointments are drummed into you – we have cancelled. Bud is still happily moving around, I feel fine and I will be straight on the phone to the hospital if I have any queries.

Yes, I’ve heard that movements aren’t everything, obviously the heartbeat is checked too along with measurements, but we have decided to go with our instincts. With (in theory) less than 2 weeks to go, if I feel that anything is amiss, we will be straight on the phone or heading to hospital. We are ready. Missing an appointment and (probably) a large amount of stress will not affect our baby’s health. I’m not the only person to have had these exact issues with this same midwife, so I don’t think it’s beyond the realms of possibility that tomorrow’s appointment will be a repeat of the 36 week one. Bud is in the same position, for one!

Do what you feel is right for you.

Disclaimer: My post ‘Nearly into the breech’ created quite a discussion on my opinion of midwives, so I feel I should point this out…

I am not knocking midwives in any way, shape or form. This one specific midwife just fills us with doubts and her ‘bedside manner’ leaves a lot to be desired. I have the upmost faith in midwives, or I wouldn’t be hoping to make use of the midwife-led birth centre at Epsom.

The hospital bag

How do you pack for the unknown? There are a plethora of lists available online, all different. There’s common sense, obviously, but I’m packing for something I’ve never done before. When I go to Wales for a long weekend to stay with family (something I’ve done more times than I can count), I pack for every eventuality and will likely take up to 4 or 5 pairs of boots/shoes ‘just in case’.

So, how on earth am I meant to fit everything I ‘might’ need into Carl’s carry on size case?

I’ve decided that the answer is quite simple really: you don’t actually need that much. Sure, massage oils, rescue remedy, an iPod, magazines, cozy slipper socks etc are all going to be nice to have…but not having any or all of them will not affect the birth or the health of you and baby. It just means that I might have to spend slightly longer listening to Carl’s jokes if I don’t have something to read or music to drown them out šŸ˜‰.

What I also realised is that most of the items you need are very small! Vests, babygros, nappies, mittens, maternity pads, breast pads (let’s not forget the ever-present attractive side of all this!) don’t take up much room, even if you pack loads of them. As someone who travelled the world with far too many clothes (very few of which made it home because I didn’t need them), I am a master of rolling clothes up small.

By 37 weeks pregnant, my bag should really have been packed for a week or so, but I just hadn’t finished. I had some bits in the bag, but it wasn’t until today that I thought “right, this needs packing now”. Maybe it’s because I have – in theory – less than 3 weeks to go, or maybe it’s the fact that 2 of 8 couples in my NCT class have now had their babies….both early…that’s finally kicked me into action! So, the baby clothes were all washed this morning and are just finishing in the tumbler, ready to go straight into the case.

Now we just need to check that we know how to install the car seat…and the crib needs to show up…and I think we’re as ready as we can be for our new addition!

NEW feature: Corresponding song as chosen by my friend Jon after reading the intro paragraph…
‘The Final Countdown’ – Europe

Nearly into the breech

What a 24 hours or so.

Yesterday, we had our 36 week appointment. Good blood pressure (me), good heartbeat (Bud); all was great until the midwife said the sentence which shattered my dreams: “Your baby is breech”.

Why now? Why SO close to the end when it’s harder for babies to turn back naturally? Since they started checking the position, Bud has always been head down, why turn now!?

I don’t think she had any idea of the emotions this set off, or maybe she would have been a bit less blunt. As it was, she picked up my Birth Preference form, flicked through it while glancing at all my ‘natural birth’ tick boxes and said “well, this might all have to change” before signing it. Sensitivity, not always highly rated amongst those in the medical profession!

Barely holding myself together, we finished up…and just about made it outside before I fell apart. All at once, all I could see were my natural birth preferences flying out of the window. My future suddenly seemed full of midwives and doctors recommending a Caesarean section and us having to battle to have it any other way…potentially with no other option being considered. Certainly, they would never let me near a birthing pool.

Irrationally, alongside being upset I was even angry with our poor unborn child, frustrated with my body for doing pregnancy wrong and annoyed with myself for apparently not being able to take my own advice. I kept repeating Jude’s words from our NCT classes: “Breech is just another version of normal”…but it didn’t help. Carl was so supportive and generally amazing, but I sank into misery.

I like plans and it seems that however much I say “my preferences are flexible…”, this might be something I will struggle with in reality; they feel like solid plans to me. However, the cause of this breakdown may simply be because I really don’t want a c-section, not unless it’s deemed medically necessary for mine or Bud’s health on the day. I’d rather not have that choice made for me weeks in advance.

After a long afternoon of tears, (thank goodness for Jude sending me a really supportive email, which calmed me somewhat) and a stress-induced migraine which kept me awake during the night, we had the scan this afternoon.

Upon arriving at the hospital, it seemed that I hadn’t been properly booked in, nor had any paperwork been sent over by yesterday’s midwife. Thankfully, the receptionist and our 20-week sonographer Stephanie were excellent and managed to slot us in after a half an hour or so wait.

Bud is firmly head down. Panic over.

Once that had sunk in, it was so good having another scan and getting another peek at our little wriggler! Fat belly (although still within the limits of what’s ok….just…), long legs (no surprise there) and now with hair! Hopefully it will only be a couple more weeks or so until we meet our little one.

Close up on Bud's face and arm

Close up on Bud’s face and arm

I really want to have a hug and apologise for being so stressed yesterday and for blaming an unborn baby for its position potentially not meeting my (not so flexible) requirements.

Now I will spend the rest of my pregnant time actually preparing myself for a change of circumstances if I am, for any reason, unable to have the labour and birth I’ve prepared myself for. Maybe I’ll re-read my earlier post ‘Choices’ and follow my own advice.

It’s been a little wake up call, which was perhaps needed to remind me that pregnancy doesn’t always go like clockwork.

As said by Jude many times, “babies haven’t read the manual”.Ā 

“To NCT or not to NCT…that is the question”

Ok, so I might have slightly misquoted Shakespeare there but I’m sure he would have no objection to me borrowing the phrase.

Hospitals offer free ante-natal classes, so we initially wondered what we would gain from a paid class.

First, the major advantage was that the other couples attending would be more local – our hospital is Epsom, so it was unlikely we would meet local couples (Capel is a good 35 minutes away). Second, the classes are smaller. Third, and the real sell for us…they were so highly recommended by everyone we knew who had attended them.

I have heard a mixture of opinions on NCT classes and all I can say is that it must depend on your teacher and group. Our class was lovely and we all seemed to be around the same age, lived in local villages and we immediately clicked. Jude Palmer, our teacher, was/is brilliant (and is an amazing baker!!). I can’t really praise her highly enough; knowledgable, easy to talk to, never pushed opinions on us as she took us through our labour options, enthusiastic and comfortable talking about anything. Also a doula and mother of three, Jude has a tonne of experience around pregnancy and birth, which is very comforting when you have any questions!

Your enjoyment probably depends on your reasons for being there. I’ve always been keen to enter the hospital with no real clue and learn about labour on the day. After one NCT class I suddenly found that a) there were more options than I’d heard of (TENS machines, pethidine and water birth being 3 new ones to me) and b) knowledge is power. If you have an idea of what you want, but also about the alternatives, then labour is likely to be a lot less stressful if you have to deviate from your plan.

What I also liked was that it gave the dads a chance to talk together and bond. Women are more naturally chatty and will share their feelings (a general life rule!) but it gave the men the opportunity to talk openly with others in the same position. One of our early exercises involved the women writing down how they hoped labour would be, and the men writing what they hoped to do. It was incredibly touching to see answers like ‘support her’, ‘keep her safe’, ‘understand what’s going on’…and so on. In this environment, the men felt comfortable to come clean with their feelings, discuss their anxieties and what they would like to learn. Turns out that men think about it all just as much as we do and like to know what’s going on so they can help, rather than watching and feeling helpless.

Jude took us all through relaxation exercises – doing a variety so we could all find out what works best for us – massages the men could give and different ways they could help alleviate any pain, physically hold our bumps to lighten the load, and morally support us.

We covered more in those sessions than I can begin to go through here but the best compliment I can pay Jude is probably my previous post ‘Choices’. It is based on what I learned and the information we were given – I would never have felt so confident or sure of what I would like prior to the course.

So, look into the options and ask people local to you about their classes, or even get specific teacher recommendations. Or make use of the free hospital ante-natal classes. Whatever you decide, I would advise going to some form of class to meet other parents to be and to learn as much as you can. You’ll be glad you did!

Coming soon…I’ve been off work for a week and a half now and I miss my outlook calendar and trusty spreadsheet. How am I coping!? x

Home Alone week 1 is complete

Today concludes my first full week at home on maternity leave and what a lovely week it has been. We had our maternity ward tour on Monday evening – we’re booked in to Epsom – which reaffirmed our decision to make use of their new midwife led birth centre if at all possible. It felt ‘right’ when we walked in there. Our final pre-natal NCT class took place on Tuesday night and it was my 34 week appointment yesterday, so it’s been very baby-centred!

The last few days have been a big adjustment to a new – short term! – slower pace of life. Getting lie ins while I can, enjoying freshly made fruit smoothies (I would thoroughly recommend a Nutribullet to anyone, I’ll also be using it to make baby food in the future) and doing odd bits of housework, while generally relaxing and putting my feet up whenever I feel tired or get either belly or back ache.

It is strange not ‘needing’ to do anything during the day; I’m so used to planning my day out with to do lists (re-written each day…while also leaving a couple of items on that can be immediately ticked off! You know you do the same!).

I have long lists of things I would like to get on with but, you know what, by 35 weeks pregnant you just need to take the days at whatever pace you can manage. I would like to be dancing round the house singing my head off while painting, decorating and cleaning the whole place from top to bottom….but I do not have the energy to do so and that is ok. I just try to keep on top of the washing up and clothes washing and have the place neat for when Carl gets home, helping him out where I can. It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s a lot more help than I was able to give for the first 5 months of pregnancy!

I make small goals for each day, beyond simply getting up, having a shower and getting dressed, so that at least I have accomplished something. Today, it was opening my favourite spreadsheet and updating our accounts so we know what we have to spend on house purchases and the nursery (happy payday – does any other payday feel quite so good as the first one after Christmas?) and, in a minute, I am going to head out for a walk. When I’m back, if my back isn’t hurting too much, I will start cutting material for a patchwork quilt I’m going to make Bud. If my back hurts, I will lie down and read until Carl arrives home. Such is the life of a pregnant woman. It’s tiring and you shouldn’t feel bad about getting rest while you can.

Now…walk time…and it’s not looking appealing as the trees are blowing all round. Fresh air is very necessary though and it is so important to remain at least a bit active; there’s nothing like the feel of wind on your cheeks to wake you up!

Oh, and I will treat myself to a big mug of hot chocolate when I get home; sometimes an incentive is essential!!

Then this happens and it gets even harder…!

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x

Make pregnant friends…who due both before and after you

Rather than writing a ‘day by day’ blog, I am simply going to pick up whatever is on my mind that day, interspersed with updates of how we’re getting on.

So, why are pregnant friends important? Firstly, they UNDERSTAND. Others will try and will offer tips/advice (unwanted from those without experience) or empathy (always welcome if you’re feeling rough), but they won’t really understand what you’re going through.

However, when you find out you’re pregnant, you will no doubt start spotting other pregnant women wherever you look; in the street or on facebook, be they strangers, friends or acquaintances. In the early days, knowing people who are further along than you can be a real lifeline. When I suffered with morning sickness until 23 or so weeks, knowing someone who was the same kept me sane in a world where all I could see were women who glowed and danced their way through pregnancy. Other women are wonderful sources of comfort and tips…You can find out when other peoples’ belly buttons popped out and watch yours obsessively…or is that just me??

But then what happens? They have their babies and you’re still pregnant.

I speak from experience when I say that you will be over the moon for them, adore looking through all the newborn photos and love hearing about how naturally they’ve taken to parenthood.

But what you also feel is a form of envy. Firstly, they have met their baby! What greater moment, it’s what we’re all waiting for. Secondly, and let’s be honest here, whether you are scared of labour or – like me – accept it as an inevitability, you will be envious that they have it over and done with!!

If you have friends due after you then you can continue talking pregnancy to them and hopefully pass along tips and advice from your experience. You won’t feel alone and like everyone else is settling into the life you’re unable to prepare yourself fully for, while waddling around getting bored of the wearing the same 3 outfits in rotation because you’ve tried to buy as little as possible in a bid to be frugal…and swearing that if there’s a next time, you will own more than 2 pairs of maternity jeans.

I would recommend ante-natal or NCT classes for this reason alone, if you don’t have any friends due around the same time as you. They will make you feel normal and it is so refreshing talking to others in the exact same position as you. I will go into NCT classes and why we’ve loved them in greater depth another time.

That’s all for today, I’ll be back with something lighter soon! x