Tales from the Third Trimester…

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Ahh third trimester, I’ve heard so much about you my friend, and now you’re here, the home stretch, the finish line in sight. Now my second trimester wasn’t the easiest thanks to hospital stays, unique conditions and other little unforeseen anomalies, but the whole time I was warned that what was to come was a completely different ball game. A new level of tiredness, new types of aches and pains, and somehow despite the warnings I decided to still be part of a show that had it’s production, technical and performance weeks just as the dreaded third trimester really gets going. I knew it meant long days, I knew it meant a lot of standing around under hot lights, in summary…what was I playing at?!! Luckily I have a chair and a sick bucket constantly in the wings, the most supportive cast and crew imaginable making it ten times easier, not to mention my husband as part of the management team looking after me in such a fantastic way. I love the theatre and the type of person that gets involved with theatre so although it’s a ridiculous decision to have made, I wouldn’t change it really. Anyway, I digress….

The third trimester has definitely brought it’s individual charms to the table, allow me to list them before they disappear from my brain, which leads me nicely to;

1) Baby brain really steps up a gear – the golden days of accidentally taking two handbags out with me are a fond memory, at least they would be if I remembered them…these days, I count myself lucky if I get to the end of a sentence without needing a prompt.

2) I used to go jogging and played netball three times a week, and I’m quite competitive so I always gave it my all (I’m 100% enthusiasm 40% skill, anyone with a height of 5’4″ was always going to be slightly disadvantaged!) but even then, the aching I wake up to and carry round in the day pales my previous physical exertion efforts into insignificance. There are muscles I didn’t know I had, but now they’re here, and they’re strained!

3) If I drop something on the floor now, that’s where it lives end of story. Hell half the time, if I sit on the floor, I’m happy to commit to that for the day, or at least until I get helped back up. I dropped my handbag in the toilets in Stratford last weekend and seriously considered the value of the items inside before deciding to bend over and retrieve it. It’s not graceful, it’s not comfortable and I now need to make a noise to get up from a chair…

4) The level of exhaustion has tripled, I am shattered all the time! My eyes now only bother opening halfway just in case there’s time for an extended blink that they can consider a sneaky nap. However…the unfortunate flipside of this is…

5) …my whale sized stomach doesn’t get comfortable easily and consequently doesn’t make for a good nights sleep. I’m tossing and turning all night, unable to lie on my front or back and therefore having to heave myself onto each side, with joints clicking in protest and knees suddenly inexplicably in the way, not to mention the ache in my hips from the extra weight on them! As you can imagine, I’m a delight to share a bed with.

The list could go on but you get the graceful, unattractive picture. I have embraced the look of a manatee, and just let the third trimester do it’s thing, there’s really nothing else for it, I don’t have the energy to fight against it if I wanted to.

The trade off is that we only have 9 or 10 weeks left and at the end of that we are going to meet the tiny little person that makes every single moment of this journey worthwhile. Even now I know I’ll look back on the pregnancy nostalgically, I already think misty eyed of the evening my husband and I spent singing Disney songs to bump as we watched the movements visible for the first time when I was in the bath. We already laugh about the panic pit stops on our way to the theatre, frantically yelling, ‘a bag, a bag, I need a bag!’ It’s true what they say about falling in love with your partner all over again as you get closer and closer to becoming a family. Don’t get me wrong, there have been downs, ‘do you HAVE to breathe so loudly?!’ , ‘I just really wanted my toast in triangles and I feel like you should know that!’ Or the really recent ‘I want a cuddle but when you touch me I’m too itchy, can you just PLEASE sort that out somehow.’ Those crazy moments that are equally part of the process.

So yes, the third trimester is a fickle mistress and one that does really roundhouse kick you in the face (metaphorically speaking of course..!) and I’ve managed to add in an extremely busy schedule to mine; but I can honestly say I prefer it to the second trimester scares. My sickness has stayed throughout the entire pregnancy and that has definitely not been fun, but the majority of things, you know are all part of that crazy magical journey of baby growing! So it’s the toughest thing I’ve done so far but I sit here in the firm knowledge that it only gets tougher, and I’m ready for it, I’m even managing to enjoy it. Although maybe baby brain helps with that, the bad times are even shorter lived than they would have been previously, and you have to focus on other things…such as how I’ve managed to end up in the car after rehearsal still wearing my maids bonnet, with no shoes, and somebody else’s jumper…

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The Name Game…

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“What’s in a name?” Juliet had a good question then and it remains a good question now. There are thousands of theories of whether a traditional name or unique name enables a child to succeed more or less, there was an article in the Guardian recently that listed names in order of how likely it’d be those names would attend Oxford university (An Eleanor is most likely, a Stacey least likely according to them if anyone’s interested!) there are favourites based on region, class, heritage, religion. But how much of a difference can it really make? More than your parents, education, personal circumstances and personality? Personally, I feel like there are many more factors influencing your child’s future than their name.

Yes, it’s an important decision, and one that can have negative consequences if you don’t think it through, with a surname initial of J, we certainly won’t be choosing a name beginning with B for our little girl. Teasing at school is inevitable without us making it that easy for them! Likewise, I feel my parents could have thought it through slightly more when they chose Danielle with a surname like Lade, Miss-Lade, ‘Lade an egg’ etc etc were jokes waiting to happen and were unavoidable, but D-Lade could have been side stepped. That said, my surname was never going to leave me totally tease free so what was one more? Jokes aside, I am most fond and proud of both my maiden and married surnames, and I personally have never felt held back or particularly thrust forward by my chosen first name.

As we’ve been looking through we have found certain names that we’ve shortlisted, mainly based either on names from within our family history or names that we like the sound of. We’ve also vetoed names we have negative connotations with, from the extreme examples (the name Adolf for example will probably not see a popularity resurgence for the foreseeable future) to the slightly more mundane, “that child Tahlia down the road has been throwing stones near the car again,” type reasons to put you off a name! But do we worry that any of our favourite names may hinder the child’s potential success? No not really, there’s a hugely successful singer called ‘Englebert Humperdinck’ for goodness sake! (I know that’s not his real name but you get my point)

We’ve had all the usual advice, not to get too fixed on a name before the babies born as we may find that when she arrives she doesn’t look like she suits that name; likewise we were warned that you can choose a name and then go off it which we have found somewhat with a couple of our favourites. It’s funny how strongly other people feel about name choices but it’s definitely one of those subjects that everyone has strong preferences towards. It’s one of the top ten reasons for family disputes in the lead up to child birth, a statistic that sounds utterly ridiculous but can cause a lot of friction.

You can’t be sure if it would make a difference, because you cannot predict if the child’s future would have gone any differently with a different name. With the benefit of alternative universes, maybe we could discover that calling our baby girl Emma would have lead to a career in astrophysics and we’ll feel bad for choosing the name Linda because she hates her office job and wishes we’d gone for Bella which would have seen her become a Hollywood star. As it is, it’s so exciting for now to know that endless possibilities await her and we are relatively certain that our choice of name won’t cut out any of the options. Our financial situation, personal teachings and the experiences we give her on the other hand will definitely affect her path in life but hopefully whatever name we anoint her will not. A rose by any other name would indeed smell as sweet, and Romeo and Juliet would most likely have had just as tragic an ending if they’d been called Steve and Jane so whatever you choose to name your little one, decide it loud and announce it proud! What’s in a name? Whatever you decide!

The Permanence of the Past…

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You can learn a lot from your parents and grandparents about bringing up a child based on the difficulties they faced when bringing you into the world. But what about the new modern challenges? The ones they didn’t have to face? The challenges that are new to our generation.

The biggest difference in modern life is, of course the internet and other technological advancements. In a lot of ways, it has absolutely helped, we are all much more able to safeguard our children these days, we have access to a much wider base of information and support and the advancement in medicine means that medical conditions that previously were little understood and extremely hard to deal with are now much more manageable and parents have a much larger sphere of support to deal with such conditions.

However, on the flipside, a big downside is the transparency of the internet. How many of us aged 18, thought of potential future children when we stood up on a stage after a few too many, belting out an ill advised ‘performance,’ that now with a simple google search will turn up on You Tube? And that’s an example of a really simple embarrassment, the extent of stupid decisions made when younger goes far deeper and these days, if you weren’t on your own, you can guarantee you’ll be tagged on Facebook, ‘hashtagged’ on twitter and ‘reblogged’ on tumblr. No doubt our parents and our grandparents made stupid, ill advised decisions as youngsters, ones that they can sit back and relax, gleeful in the knowledge that it would very virtually impossible for us to ever find out about it.

This obviously has exceptions; there was never going to be any hiding of that silly little ‘broke with the Catholic Church and created the Church of England in order to marry Anne Boleyn who I then had beheaded’ incident that Henry VIII’s children would inevitably have heard about. I’m referring to your Dad writing off three of his Dads cars because of being a bit of an irresponsible speed demon in his early twenties; unless he chooses to tell you about it (or your Grandad tells on him) you won’t find it on his old twitter feed “@Nicks only gone and done it again LOL #driveroftheyear” with an accompanying photo.

As parents in the 21st century, we have to accept that our past is searchable, and not with much effort required at all. Doing a quick look myself and within 5 minutes I find horrendous clips from a few shows I was part of when much younger, pictures with nearly every past boyfriend I’ve ever had as well as more ‘hilarious’ pictures from nights out than I’d care to own up to when trying to teach my child against binge drinking. I can picture it now, “Mum I didn’t drink as much as you obviously had done when you fell asleep dressed as Minnie Mouse hugging a fire extinguisher…” Yes well, that’s not the point actually young lady…

Likewise, you know those teenage angst years when you were madly in love with the absolute love of your life and posted Dawson’s Creek style essay statuses on MSN chat about how much you were meant to be and no-one understood your true love? They don’t permanently go away either! Even if or when the relationship does. Nor will any of those really public arguments that young couples seem to have a lot of online these days with their partners or ex partners. My husband and I are very lucky, we have both had other long term significant relationships but we also luckily have had good enough taste that they are decent people and we’re on good terms with our ex partners. I cannot imagine children in the not too distant future turning to their parents and asking why Mummy has called Daddy a ****** ******* on Facebook after a misguided short tempered social media update!

The internet has led to an almost uncontrollable urge for people to overshare their lives and after nearly a decade (2005 is the unofficially recognised year that social media started really taking off) with so many problems caused by the internet to people’s relationships and careers (employers regularly now check a candidates online presence and a frightening high percentage of couples are citing Facebook issues during divorce court cases) it does seem to already be a trend that a lot of people are wanting to change. Security and privacy settings are much more strictly attended to and for the first time in ten years, although the number of ‘selfies’ are on the rise, the number of people sharing pictures of their wedding day/new baby and other personal events are on the (very slight) decline.

There’s no doubt about it, over the next twenty/thirty years parents from our generation have a lot more explaining to do! And I am a firm believer that kids benefit from learning from your mistakes. However that doesn’t mean I want video evidence to back up that learning curve! The internet is a fantastic modern advancement, there’s no doubt about it, but it’s definitely worth bearing in mind its immediacy and permanence. Even if you don’t have kids yet, although it’s a fabulous opportunity to show them your life experiences, it might be worth remembering when you accept that ‘run round the university campus naked after downing ten shots,’ challenge, that the nearby video camera isn’t necessarily going to remain your friend in the morning…

Power of playtime…

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There are so many things I’m looking forward to experiencing with the little one and was discussing them with my husband today. But it occurred to me that actually I’m very excited to have a whole list of activities it’s now acceptable to do again! We’re both quite childish and still play games and go on adventures but a lot of the time you have to keep them quiet because it’s not quite the done thing as an adult…until you have a child, at which point you’re just being a good parent…it’s a win win!

So in the last few months of pregnancy – when your ankles swell, and if you drop things on the floor, it’s much easier to decide that that’s where it now lives; concentrate instead of the following activities that will soon be back in your life in abundance that you can enjoy without judgement!

1) Building a den. Once a parent, it doesn’t even matter if the kids have had no part in it, if visitors come round and you’ve got bed sheets precariously balanced all throughout the lounge, you only have to roll your eyes and say ‘sorry kids,’ and no more questions will be asked. A kindly visitor may even imagine you’ve been run ragged by the kids that day and offer to help tidy up whilst you have a sit down. They don’t need to know you and your partner have been Cowboys and Indians all day, being a Chief IS tiring work.

2) Facepainting. Remember when, as a child, with a few bits of paint you could become a bee, a fairy, Spider-Man or a devil? Well, those days are back my friend! Remember, you’re doing it for the kids! Always dreamed of being Batman? Well luckily for you, the benefit of being an adult is you can now set the theme.

3) Getting out all the toys. The big downside to this one is that you now have to be the one to put them all away BUT children’s toys have taken huge leaps forward since we were kids and you can spend gleeful hours playing with your kids in the way only kids know how.

There are many more examples I could list but only you will be able to identify the ones that will really make your eyes light up with excitement. The downside is that now you’re an adult you have much less energy, so may be heading to bed at the same time as the children; AND of course you’re now the one responsible for any mess BUT it’s a small price to pay for those moments when you can forget work, forget that bill you need to sort out, not worry about looking stupid or being mature.

Childhood is a truly magical time and as an adult, we look on enviously at the innocence, enjoyment and excitement they are able to find in every day. But remember, we were those children once and we all have an inner child desperate to put down the work file and do a handstand or run about until only a slush puppy will adequately cool you down. Don’t ignore that part, it’s what makes everything else worthwhile.

Anyway I would say more but my husband has found me in my den and I need to grab my lightsaber to ensure he can’t get in until he guesses the secret password…

All aboard the crazy train…

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In pregnancy and childbirth as with all things, there are risks, dangers and unforeseen circumstances that are risky, terrifying and occupy your mind at 4am. However, this is NOT a blog post about those things. Lord knows all Mothers are able to focus on those things without any help.

What does intrigue me is how many illogical and completely unrealistic worries can suddenly occupy your mind, I won’t open the door to my mind too wide, as none of you deserve that kind of unleashment of crazy; but on the off chance that you also wake up at 2am over similar pieces of ridiculousness, here are a few examples of mine…

1) I have an ‘inny’ belly button. I always have, and it had never really occurred to me that that would ever change. I have never considered outy belly buttoned people as remotely unattractive, let alone put together wrong. But as my bump grows slowly but surely, I’ve noticed my belly button getting shallower and suddenly I wake up in a sweat thinking it’s popped into an outy and will never go back to normal. What is it that bothers me? Do I think I’m going to snag it on door handles or that it’ll somehow be powerful enough to puncture through clothing? No that’s ridiculous…isn’t it? They can’t cut through clothing right?! RIGHT?!

2) I am aware that childbirth is a VERY common worry, including how much it will hurt etc etc. My middle of the night thoughts are much more specific and slightly more sci fi. First off, a bit of background. I don’t have the smallest head in the world, off the rack hats are not my friend. It’s not necessarily obvious by looking at me but my head is actually surprisingly bulbous. My husband also has a head that is ‘circumferencely blessed,’ that is to say, between the two of us, we have a lot of headroom. You get the picture, you’ve probably guessed the problem…we’re not expecting any children we bear to have particularly small heads either. Now in my rather more delicately balance emotional state, where the controls on reason and logic have been completely abandoned, I can only see a huge head, usually the more I think about it, the more it grows, and the more it feels like it could be growing by the second. I won’t even hint at how it affects my dreams, it’s not nice. It’s not logical. It’s not possible…and those people who gleefully tell you about the very rare 12lb babies aren’t helping my imagination!

3) I’ve had several scans now and have seen our bundle of joy on the screen. I have also seen my uterus quite thoroughly as a slight abnormality (I have a bicornuate uterus) means they’ve been thoroughly looking at the entire area making sure there’s enough room/everything’s ok etc etc etc! At 27 weeks, bump is already quite large, in part due to this abnormality and so there have been a lot of affectionately made jibes, ‘ am I sure there’s not another one hiding in there..?’ Oh how we all laugh… However, in my head, my insides are a cavenous world of hidden rooms and secret passages and the several different midwives have obviously all missed the other children all just waiting to show up on the day of birth. In the middle of the night, in my head, they’re just going to keep on coming. I’m not sure when it was that I started believing that my womb was some form of Mary Poppins bag, I assume it was probably around the time that I left the house with two handbags but no keys or purse; that seems a relatively definitive moment for when logic and brain function officially packed up and left. But in my most tired and least sensible moments,there’s not much that can pacify the workings of my mind and I worry how I’ll cope with my troupe of children…

4) Also… No no, I think that’s quite enough for now. I could embellish on how I think every dog I pass is some kind of hound of death, who has waited it’s whole life to unleash every bit of possible violence on me and my unborn baby; or how despite the fact I know that childbirth really isn’t quite so simple, everytime I now sneeze, a tiny part of me expects the baby to shoot out. Or my relatively new theory that if I say something negative about someone, now the baby can hear us speak, somehow she’s going to wait till she can talk before going round telling a friend of mine that I don’t really like her ‘famous lasagna,’ or telling the postman I think he’s unnecessarily abrupt…

There are plenty of things you can realistically worry about based on actual dangers or common troubles of pregnancy and childbirth, I’m not entirely sure how the brain finds magical ways of creating the absurd and the ridiculous to throw into the mix. Maybe it’s my subconscious’ way of keeping me distracted, maybe it happens to every pregnant woman. Maybe, just maybe, when I knocked my head on the train back in November last year, I really should have had it looked at more thoroughly…whatever the reason behind it, worries are at least there to remind us to be vigilant. For normal, sane, level headed people, the easiest solution is to ‘get over it!’ A sentiment I myself have offered to pregnant friends in the past when they seemed to have boarded a train to Crazytown or Irrationalville! But for now I’m just going to accept that I’m on board myself, try and relax, maybe check out the dining car, and embrace the ride. After all, if my brain is determined to ride the crazy train, I may as well travel first class…

Baby’s Creative Team…

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My husband and I aren’t religious, and therefore when we got married, we had a legal and non religious ceremony which is these days, not at all considered strange or particularly unusual. Our baby is due in July and we do not feel that a Christening would be appropriate and that ‘Godparents’ are therefore not necessarily expected. However, we are both very keen that our baby is still officially ‘received,’ into our world and celebrated with friends and family; and having seen the benefit and closeness that Godparent relationships can provide, I’m very keen to have something similar for my baby.

I did some research and a baby naming ceremony is the non religious version of a Christening and you can choose to designate ‘supportive adults,’ or my preferred term, ‘mentors.’ Admittedly when we asked the chosen ones, we asked them to be Godparents and explained we’d be doing it in a non religious way because we decided ‘will you be our babies mentor,’ sounded a bit like we were going to be home schooling her and expected them to be on the staffing team!

A few people have asked why we’re bothering if we’re not doing it ‘properly’ and I know some people see it as old fashioned. Well, firstly, I’ve never pretended to be particularly ‘new fashioned’ and secondly, I do think that Godparent relationships can be incredibly important ones for a child. The one big difference for me is that I don’t necessarily think that the mentors should be family members. Not because I don’t trust my family members but because, they will already be an important part of our babies life. We both have a brother we’re very close to and they would be by far the top of our list plus my brother in laws wife to be. HOWEVER, they are going to be fantastic Auntie and Uncles and will be a huge influence on their niece without the additional accolade which would almost seem an unnecessary addition. Whereas by choosing 4 close friends, our daughter gains those extra relationships, people she can go to if she didn’t want to talk to her parents or family and she will hopefully grow up with many happy memories with a whole host of trustworthy and loving people.

Some of the more cynical may suggest that we may have just tried to guarantee a few extra babysitters(!) but having had Aunties and Uncles as Godparents myself and seeing my brothers bond with his non family member Godparent, I have to admit to being slightly jealous of that relationship. Friends of mine had a slightly different tact, their close friends and family all signed a ‘promise book,’ where we all pledged how we would influence the child, and look out for them. And I think that’s amazing. In a society where friends are just as involved in your life as family, I think it’s great to involve them in such a way. I have no doubt about the people we are choosing and likewise look forward to seeing our other friends and family influences on our little one. In fact, we consider our close friends to be very much a part of our family.

After all, when you bring a baby into the world, you’re bringing them into YOUR version of the world and the people in your world will inevitably shape the person they become before they’re old enough to decide who they have in the centre of THEIR world. Not that you suddenly ditch your friends if they aren’t professionally trained childminders! I’m certainly not perfect and would never expect everyone else to suddenly live up to unreasonable expectations! In fact quite the opposite – I don’t want to be one of only two influences on my baby, we’re more than flawed!! I’m terrified of birds and dogs, but don’t want my child to be, my husband is not fond of spiders, but we don’t want her to be. Friends and family will hopefully help with those whilst we both pretend not to cower in the corner!

So with just 13 weeks to go till our due date, our thoughts have gone to welcoming our little one into the world, introducing the people in our lives to her, and introducing her to the people in our lives! And in the same way that our wedding day was a real expression of who we both are, our babies baby naming ceremony will be a real expression of the family she is being born into. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (mainly because I’m rather proud of my snazzy phrasing…!) no-one can ever predict the plot of life but you can ensure you have a fantastic cast!

Worries on the ward…

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Sadly I spent three days in hospital this week. Happily everything is absolutely fine with our baby and I am slowly but surely on the road to recovery after a rather nasty kidney infection. As any infection for Mummy can increase risk for baby, I was on the maternity ward. And the one thing I was struck with is how much of an equaliser hospitals are. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from or what sort of life you lead, you will all be in the same place when you have your baby. Of course excepting those with private healthcare or those perhaps rich enough to have a designated baby ward in the West wing of their mansion daaahling…

Over the three days I met many different types of Mum. On the first morning, I went into the breakfast room unable to eat anything but desperate for a change of scene from the hospital bed and spoke to Bethany (all names changed or made up to save from using Mum 1, Mum 2 etc etc) Bethany was 16, had her baby the previous day and was anxious to get out of hospital because it is her 17th birthday this Friday and she REALLY didn’t want to miss it, especially as Jack was going to be there and he’s by far the hottest boy from her year. Her baby boy was (in her words) “totes gorge but mental times.” After conversing for a little while I discovered that in teen speak, this meant that her, ‘baby boy was beautiful although she was quite overwhelmed by the new baby.’ Her baby boy was indeed gorgeous, although it was obviously starting to sink in that this 17th birthday party (for which Nanny was looking after baby) would be her last big social event for a while. You couldn’t quite see any regret in her eyes as she was obviously head over heels with her child but Motherhood had hit her quite strongly in the past 24 hours.

That afternoon a lady in the adjacent ward started shouting at the receptionists. F***ing this and f***ing that and get him the f*** away from her baby. I won’t go into details but essentially, someone she had decided to make a Godfather in her childs life, had been discovered to have a rather more colourful background than she would have liked, to say the least; and she now wanted him nowhere near her child or her and wanted to hear nothing else about the matter. She was reprimanded by the nurses for the language she was using and my first thought, I have to admit was, “oh for Gods sake, someone shut her up.” Later on I nearly turned away from the day room when I saw she was in there but decided as she’d been quite vocal to anyone else who had shown any distaste, that actually the best course of action was to continue and act as neutral as possible and hope she stayed in deep conversation with her friend. It turned out this girl (lets say Samantha) had a drug use history and had therefore been kept in for the past week since having her baby until social workers cleared her to go home. She’d kicked the habit but it had left her with quite a few anger problems but she just wanted to go home with her newborn baby girl who was ‘f***ing stunning.’ Social workers would be involved for quite some time until she had proved she was capable of taking care of the child which she understood but she hated the way they spoke to her and about her just outside her room. Her boyfriend had taken off a couple of months back and her parents didn’t have much to do with her.

On the third day I met Janet, who could barely speak any English and spent a lot of her time (including 2.30am, lucky for me being in the next bed…!) loudly talking on her mobile phone. Her waters had been broken ready for a C-section and they were now just checking her regularly to see when she was ready to be taken down to the delivery suite. A lot of this doctor-patient communication was done via a rather frustrating game of charades and the rest of us in the ward got to know very clearly, concisely and repeatedly, what the course of action was. What is it about miming actions that makes everyone say the words slower and louder even in the middle of the night? The birth was obviously not coming anytime soon and she was told to get some sleep around 3am. Fabulous I thought…until I discovered that she was a very loud snorer (I have to admit, a real bug bear of mine as I’m not a great sleeper at the best of times) and I started to miss the foreign language phone conversations which, as it turned out, had a much more relaxing rhythm than the snoring.

I also met Linda, a bit older than me but with pretty much exactly the same problem, kidney infection, ensuring it wasn’t affecting the baby, on antibiotics for the infections, pain killers for the pain and anti sickness meds for the sickness caused by the first two. Our other similarity is that we both headed to the toilet with a measuring jug in hand for the rather dignified monitoring of input vs output. She spent a lot of the day in tears, the pain causing her to worry that the baby was on its way or in pain or otherwise affected, a similar fear to myself. The one major difference was that between 9am and 9pm when partners were able to be there, hers couldn’t be, so she had to settle for the strict visiting hours of 2-3pm and 6-7pm for a friend to come and keep her company.

These are the ladies that stuck out in my head or intruded my thoughts based on varying different factors, there were of course then several more women who kept themselves to themselves and I didn’t know enough about to warrant a paragraph. You overheard tears, laughs, baby cries and beeping monitors which now I’m back home I can almost still hear (72 hours with very little sleep will do that to a brain though!) My main point is this; every single woman there had a completely different story and was from a completely different walk of life to me. Please let me make it clear that I’m not about to build any hierachy graphs based on the loudest examples from my stay because that is almost the exact opposite of what I’m trying to achieve.

What did strike me was how, in each instance, they were all trying to do their best and they were all new or expectant Mothers and actually that made us all similar in ways I’d never really understood before. If you’d have told me their stories on paper, I would, I will admit, probably have judged the above women, with no right to. Too young, irresponsible troubled youth, disregard for others (and needs snoring medication!), and what a cryer. But having spent three days there, feeling pretty much every emotion shown by these women, it only highlighted to me how much every Mother does the best they know how to do and how Motherhood takes us all as amateurs, pours a huge bucket of water over our head whilst expecting us to get on with it straight away.

We’ve all seen the TV show and film versions of Motherhood, we all have an idea in our head that it’s more difficult than that but the outcome is obviously worth it or else no-one would have children. Bethany was young and maybe a bit more naive (certainly not a sweeping statement of all young Mothers but for this one in particular) and was now facing up to a new lifestyle but was obviously determined to be a great Mum. Samantha had made mistakes due to a difficult upbringing and knew no other life but drugs but for the sake of her child was doing everything possible to kick them. In the meantime she had trusted someone to be part of the baby’s life and then discovered that the person she trusted, wasn’t at all trustworthy; which for a Mum who’d spent a whole week being scrutinised with no sleep (trust me, even if her baby was the best slept baby on the planet, there was no way she’d had a decent night sleep in the wards with everyone else going on) and was doing it all on her own. I’d have been screaming too. Yes the language is uncalled for, but if you’d spent your life being screamed at using that language, what other vocabulary would you know to communicate with? She wasn’t a violent unfit Mother, she was a terrified, under slept, new Mum just wanting the best for her baby. Janet kept me awake on her phone and with her snoring, but she didn’t know what was happening with her baby and didn’t understand the midwife that was explaining it to her. In the middle of the night when all you know for sure is that people are taking lots of medical observations and you’re in a lot of pain, I’d imagine I’d want to talk to someone i could understand and who could maybe make me feel better or explain what was happening. And then when she finally got some sleep, she’s over 40 weeks pregnant, with that pressure on her internal organs, of course she’s snoring! The poor woman finally gets enough peace of mind to sleep and I’m secretly staring at her curtain with daggers in my eyes because she was snoring! But she’s just scared for her baby and obviously trying her best to understand what’s going on. As for Linda; she’s in the same position as me, so surely I can happily judge her for being a cry baby…? Except of course that for 12 hours of the three days I was in hospital, I had my husband by my side, holding my hand, listening to what the midwife and nurses were saying and going over it with me when I wasn’t sure. She had two friends for one hour asking her more questions than she could answer, of COURSE she was crying. It’s terrifying. Looking out for your unborn child when any flinch of pain could mean a contraction, could mean a problem, could mean you’ve accidentally rolled over onto your phone charger in the night (give me a break, it was only that once I had to admit to the nurse I’d pressed the emergency button for a middle of the night ‘charger in the back’ related incident…) it’s near impossible to stay calm and ten times harder when you’ve had no sleep and don’t understand half of what’s going on in your own body anyway. Five minutes after my husband had to go home in the evening and I was imagining all kinds of worse case scenarios. Internally, I was a mess, times I wanted to scream, times I wanted to break down and cry, times I wanted to just go home and forget anything was happening and times I wanted to pick up the phone at 3am and have someone talk to me without any medical jargon. I was just lucky that I had enough support during each day, could understand what the midwives were telling me (to a point) and could communicate my worries without worrying a social worker would take what I said the wrong way, because I wasn’t under any scrutiny.

Take all those outside factors away, strip it right down to being a woman and having a baby and we were all the same. We were all scared, we were all overwhelmed, none of us had enough sleep and all of us were doing the absolute best we could for our unborn children.

Everyone uses the hospital, no-one wants to but everyone has to. In Britain we are lucky to be able to turn up and be treated without worrying about extensive medical bills. The medical staff were all doing 12 and a half hour shifts so had enough problems of their own without having to play charades, get screamed at; and come in after an emergency button was pressed to find that actually the normally quiet one in the corner had mistaken her phone charger for an internal organ somehow trying to become an external one. But they do it because they know we’re scared, they know we have no idea what we’re doing.

It’s been a horrible three days, but a massive insight into the realities of a maternity ward. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still terrified, in fact I’m starting to think anyone having a baby who isn’t significantly nervous about the birth part is the idiot. Im now on a strict one weeks bed rest with antibiotics and I’ll be damn sure to stick to it to try and avoid going back into hospital; but not because I want to avoid the people, which in all honesty, was something that crossed my mind before going in. But we really are all in it together, not just those of us with the time and resources to read and write blogs in our spare time, from every class, background, living area. We are all absolutely in it together, and it’s the scariest, most amazing thing we’ll ever do.