Insomnia Insanity…

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As every parent or parent to be knows, there are several things you no longer do once growing a baby or having a baby. Those pesky 8 hours of sleep that interrupts your 24 hour day is one of those things you can say goodbye to for a start! Now I have never been a great sleeper anyway, and it seems my daughter already takes after me by being extremely active during the night! The other things I’ve noticed in the third trimester more than the rest of the pregnancy is two things that seem trivial but have a much bigger effect than most…that restless feeling in your arms and legs, especially when you’re lying in bed trying to get comfortable. Suddenly all of your limbs are numb/in the way/aching/just generally a pain! The other thing is the extra stretching of the skin in the last few weeks as baby grows at a faster rate meaning an increase in that horrible itching feeling that no amount of showering and moisturising can seem to ease! 

At first I had a few nights of no sleep, then in my own traditional way of dealing with sleep, tried to push on to power through the day thinking that would then enable me to be so exhausted that night I’d easily sleep. Sadly, that’s not a tactic that works anymore. The result was just me being useless at functioning, irritated and generally not a joy to be around before not being able to sleep at night anyway! Having spoken to some Mum friends when I said I tried not to nap I was met with looks that told me they thought I was mad. “If you can sleep at any point, YOU SLEEP!! AT ANY POINT!!” The other piece of advice I got was to not stress out when trying to sleep, if it wasn’t coming and I was getting uptight, the only person I was harming was myself. I needed to chill out! The other person it had inevitable consequences for was my poor husband who had to lie next to me, with the light constantly going on and off, the constant huffing, puffing, crying, sighing, random trips to the bathroom just to get up and stop going insane, the middle of the night showers, you name it I tried it and it meant he was getting no sleep either! The consequence of that was of course that he was so tired then during the day, it was more of a struggle to support me, not to mention he has work to get through, it was just an incredibly difficult few days.

SO, after taking advice from friends who’d been through similar, we decided that my husband would sleep in the spare room so that at least he got a good nights sleep and was then able to support me in the days and function better himself when working. Sounded like a great plan although we didn’t relish the idea of not sleeping in the same room. Anything was worth a try though and I was under strict instructions to try to relax and just let the night happen and then let sleep happen whenever!

The first night we tried it, I got a couple of hours sporadic napping and when I found it hard being awake I text my husband in the other room. Of course, this meant that every so often his phone buzzed so although he slept better, he did keep getting woken up by a buzzing phone! Last night was the second night and I suggested that when I was a bit stressed out, I’d write down how I was feeling and email it through to him to avoid the phone buzzing but still being able to share it. Of course when not restricted by a text, the length of ramblings got slightly out of hand but I have to admit, it definitely helped. I had a few 20/30 min dozes in between being wide awake and then managed to get a couple of hours in late morning but the main difference is feeling less stressed out about it. And today, my husband has gone to work feeling refreshed. It’s hard not sharing a bed but it’s definitely worth it for the increase in time spent together the rest of the time! 

So although it’s probably a bit of a frightening insight to the internal workings of my mind…please find below last nights diary style log book! The ‘you’ I’m referring to is of course my husband and the quoted times are the times as according to my phone when I saved each one…I make no apologies and take no responsibility for what goes on in that brain of mine in the witching hours!  

 

“01:20 – watching the first Britains Got Talent semi final, my favourite three were the top 3 (Britain better at voting for variety shows than politics clearly…!) and a magician and male singing group are the first two acts are through to the final. I think you’ll like the magician, I couldn’t tell how he did it which of course meant I hated him as much as liked him..!

02:30 – my nails aren’t all that long but I can’t seem to move my hands without scratching myself, all of a sudden they just seem to be in the way! In other news, your daughter has her head firmly sticking into my ribs and knees or something digging into my right side. She seems comfortable enough to stay like that so I’m adjusting my breathing accordingly (shallow!) and a hand on her to tell her that Mummy’s here and that there’s really no need to push any further, it’s especially important to me that she knows she shouldn’t try to come out that way in an Alien style move…! Missing a sleep catch up day today may have infected my brain…

03:00 – watching Greys Anatomy, Burkes back! Which will mean nothing to you, but is quite exciting. Although I’m sure he left last time because he was fired for being homophobic so maybe I’m not ok with it…maybe I should write a letter to someone. I probably won’t.

In other news, our baby girl hasn’t let up, maybe she’s a fan of Greys! Or maybe she knows that Mummy misses having Daddy next to her for cuddles so she’s trying to cuddle up on your behalf and doesn’t know her own strength!

Dr Shepherds sister on Greys is a famous surgeon, and called Amelia. Made me smile, I think we’re getting to know her personality more though and our current ideas for name suit that better.

I miss you.

03:40 – they made waffles on Greys. I really want waffles, with some bacon and maybe even syrup on the side…reminds me of breakfast at IHOP in Vegas, which makes me really want USA style hash browns. I know you agreed to go to McDonalds for a middle of the night craving but I suppose an international flight is pushing it…?! So to take my mind off the lack of breakfast goods, I instead daydreamed (nightdreamed?!) about our trip across Route 66. I feel like we should all have visors for the trip, and matching printed T-shirts are a bit tacky maybe, matching printed socks maybe? Still too much?!

I’ve taken an extra multivitamin and put moisturiser on to help with the itchiness. Hasn’t really helped but it’s something to do. Think I’m going to take ‘shower’ off the to do list as the 4.30am shower yesterday just seemed to make things worse, still, at least I’m squeaky clean!

04:00 – think I’m nervous about tomorrow’s hospital appointment. It’s much nicer being poked and prodded from the inside than from the outside! I’m not worried about going back on epilepsy medication, if that’s the decision, that’s the decision. I don’t really know what I’m worried about but I guess it’s on my mind. Logically I know it’s fine, but it’s 4am, I haven’t slept nearly at all in three days and my entire body is restless and my brain hurts.

In other news, I really would like a chocolate pop tart, why can’t I stop thinking about food?! In fact, I’m nauseous, my body is ridiculous!

04:30 – fishcake, a fish shop fishcake, that’s what I really want.

I stopped looking at any kind of technology and lay in the dark trying to relax for half an hour. The itching got worse, the restless arm and leg situation got significantly worse. I had a little cry, and now Greys is back on. Sally’s right, babies do their developing at night and it’s significantly harder to sleep when all that’s going on – sometimes it’s better to give in so I don’t a) scratch myself to bits b) drive myself insane.

It’s comforting knowing that you’re getting a good night sleep, I know that when I’m dropping the ball on sanity in the daytime, you’ll be more able to pick up the slack and then if by any chance you need anything done in the middle of the night, I’m your girl!

God I love you.

04:50 – you know when it feels like your arms are just sort of…in the way? Well…that.

05:05 – do you think if unicorns were real, people would ride them like regular horses?

06:00 – our baby girl can be anyone she wants to be. That’s so exciting, and I know how important it is to both of us that we give her every opportunity we can to let her be everything and anyone she wants to be and I cannot wait to see what she chooses to do. What she chooses to try, what she drops along the way. The decisions she makes that makes us burst with pride, the decisions she makes that make us despair, and the decisions she makes that we have to tell her off for but secretly wish we were quite as ballsy as she is!

I can hear you gently snoring away in the other room, the lack of sleep is starting to really hurt. I really need to drop off soon, just for a bit, just for a while.

Sleep deprivation will be a constant companion now I’m a Mum and that’s totally fine but at least when I’m not pregnant, when the baby sleeps, I’ll be able to get some sleep even if it is just a couple of hours at a time.

HA! Getting used to functioning on no sleep will be our life now because we’re parents. WE’RE PARENTS!! We’re in this as a team! You, me and little bean. I’m so excited! I’m so happy to be doing this ridiculous adventure with you! It’s going to be the hardest thing either of us ever do and it’s going to be amazing!

06:15 – God my hips are killing me. Looking forward to my massage tomorrow – you’re the best!

Feel hot and clammy and bleurgh, have to admit, I put cold water on a sponge again and chewed on the sponge…! Look up the forums yourself though, it’s REALLY common and totally safe!

It’s strange how ‘bleurgh’ is the generally accepted for that noise isn’t it, admit it, you knew exactly the noise I meant when you read it!

Had some extra ideas for the song we’re going to record together for baby, it should definitely be upbeat, maybe it should be her favourite song, it is also from our wedding after all so even though the words are inappropriate really, it’s also kind of apt..?!

06:30 – looks like it’s going to be quite a nice morning, my weather app says that it should be raining right now…weather app, you sit on a throne of lies!

Some sharp pains in my tummy a minute ago, who knows why, but I can tell they’re not anything to worry about, weird how you start to instinctively know these things.

Tempted to creep into the spare room just to cuddle up behind you for a bit but the whole point is for you to get some thorough sleep so I won’t. I’m hoping that I’ll be at least half asleep when you wake up but maybe you could come in and give me a little cuddle regardless, even if I’m asleep, I’ll know it happened somewhere in this brain.

It’s just started to rain, come on now Mother Nature, be prompt or just don’t bother. Still only lightly though and weather app suggests more extreme so I still feel let down…”

 

I’m hoping that I do start to get a bit more sleep over the next few nights because it has still been a difficult week but at least with a plan in place, we can both feel a bit more in charge of the situation…something that probably won’t be said in a few weeks time when baby arrives and we realise we won’t be in charge of anything much at all for quite some time! Pregnancy’s difficult, and it’s often not the things you think will be the worst that bring the biggest challenges. But it all prepares you for what’s the come and if pregnancy were easy, then the part that follows would be one hell of a shock! 

So if anyone is similarly struggling with sleep and getting through each day, why not try and write your own sleepless night diary even if you don’t plan to send it anyone. The roads your brain goes down with little to no sleep are quite the find and who knows, your sleepless night may lead to the next bestseller…now to start my masterpiece, “the highs and lows of the weather app accuracy…”

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The Idyllic Ideals…

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My brother is moving house today, to his first owned property. And as the proud (and only slightly envious…!) older sister, my husband and I are helping him, so bright and early this morning we picked up the van and now they are hard at work loading said van in the sunshine and I am…well I am sat in Starbucks writing my blog because I was told that being 8 months pregnant, although it’s nice I’m here (in my maternity dungarees, appropriate moving gear I thought..!) practically speaking, I am no use!

So I waddled on down the road and am sat in the sunshine with a Starbucks iced coffee (decaf!) in hand…I don’t know why people say moving is so stressful, I’m having a lovely day…!

Anyway, being sat in a Starbucks takes me back to being a teenager, roughly 13 years ago I practically lived in my local Starbucks, textbooks in one hand, a caramel frappuccino (with whipped cream yes please) in the other and that is where my GCSE coursework and subsequent A-Level and degree work all got done. I wouldn’t even dare hazard a guess at how much I spent on frappuccino’s, blueberry muffins and steak and cheese panini’s but those were in the good old days, I was working part time at the Disney Store and what were those wages for if not financing my Starbucks rent…! (Oh how I wish with hindsight I’d stuck to one drink, no food and saved a few pennies..! I’m not quite in the upper middle class bracket that can have lived that lifestyle and got away with it scot free, but that’s a whole other life lesson entirely!)

In those days of course, if you had the internet at home, you had to turn the computer on and have a spare few hours to wait for the internet to dial up. And then God forbid anyone pick up the phone and you’d hear the screaming tone of the internet highway as your AOL online chat suddenly disconnected, “MUUUUM!!! I was online!!!” Cue the restart of the whole process to get back to that online chat, “sorry my Mum picked up the phone,” being one of the most common parts of early online chat!

So when I went to Starbucks, it wasn’t for the wifi, but for the comfy place to sit outside of school to get work done, on a big A4 pad of paper, surrounded by several heavy textbooks. Kids these days (you know you’re getting older when you use that phrase!) aren’t anywhere near as strong now they only have to carry around a kindle to have access to hundreds of books, and that’s if they choose to use anything past Google and Wikipedia for their school work anyway!

When our little girl does her GCSE’s in 16 years time (or whatever they’re called then!) who knows how much further technology will have gone. Maybe school will be obsolete when scientists have discovered a way of simply downloading the necessary information straight into the brain. Or maybe technology will have got to a point where we’ve started to regress and pen and paper will seen as really retro and cool…unlikely but stranger things have happened, flares came back after all…

It’s all got me nostalgic about my childhood, I hope that despite the newer modern world, our little one will still love playing outside. That, for example, when she tells people she’s played golf, she means crazy golf outside and not just the Nintendo wii virtual golf! I hope she picks up French phrases from a holiday to France and not just by an app (although I have to admit that my husband and I are currently going through an online French course – one of our bucket list items was to be more fluent in a language. It’s a great tool but can’t replace going there and experiencing the culture). I’m going to try my hardest not to be one of those old people who lectures her with phrases like ‘back in my day’ or ‘kids these days have no idea how lucky they are,’ because frankly, that’s part of the joys of childhood. Every generation has it slightly easier than the one before in some ways because of medical and technological advancements but then also have their own new and difficult challenges that the generation before blissfully never had to deal with. And if I knew and understood the challenges of adulthood, I wouldn’t have any memories of an idyllic childhood and adolescence because I’d already be worrying about the years ahead! Those of us lucky enough to earn a few pounds a month to waste on Starbucks food saw the biggest problems in the world as our ‘bloody parents’ picking up the phone when we were in the middle of a very important Dawson’s Creek esque deep conversation with someone we hadn’t seen for at least an hour since the school day ended. And that’s great, I’m unendingly lucky that I could be that self involved!

Don’t get me wrong, I want our daughter to be aware of the world and to care about national and international issues in a way that social media especially these days enables everyone to be. But she’ll only have 18 years maximum not to feel like she has the weight of the world on her shoulders as the realities of adulthood and life will start to bear down on her. With the benefit of a childhood that we will make as carefree and enjoyable as possible, hopefully she’ll have a positive and confident enough spirit to stay excited about life and not get bogged down. My little brother is 20 and today on his moving day, he’s stressed about potential problems further down the line for his flat purchase which may delay getting the keys and sorting out the various mountains of paperwork he needs to be on top of etc etc. So I look back and smile at a time with him when I took him to Disneyland for his birthday, I was old enough to worry about each penny we spent each day, but he was young enough to just take in every bit of magic that Disneyland brings to a 10 year old. How awful it would have been if he was aware that when he accidentally agreed to buying something off a street seller on our return journey, he inadvertently meant that with my holiday budget spent, I could then only afford to buy him dinner and not both of us. That was my problem, not his. He has years and years ahead of him to take his niece places and internally seethe at how much a day trip to the zoo costs these days while she gazes at an elephant in wonder for the very first time. It’s the circle of life!

My supervisory experience!

My supervisory experience!

Sadly, this type of childhood is not a given for every child, some walk miles every day to try and get clean water for their family, some spend time in and out care homes, some are all too aware of how much the zoo costs because their family can barely afford the weeks food shop, let alone a family day out. In these cases, a part time job in a shop can’t be wasted on Starbucks but goes straight into the family pot out of necessity. It’s all relative.

My husband and I are in no way rich, with maternity pay and one income, we watch every penny and know where each one is going (a learning curve that shamefully took me longer than most to learn, most likely thanks to my charmed upbringing!) but we are very aware that we’re far from having a charity bake sale organised in our behalf! But our daughter will hopefully grow up having had day trips, seeing some of the world and enjoying the innocence of her childhood. Today watching my brother, it makes me sad in a way to know that he is now definitely no longer a child and has fully joined that rat race we call adulthood. But I look back fondly for him and for me at childhoods well had! I hope and pray that I can give my daughter the best life possible so that when the inevitable day comes that the weight of the world starts to impact on the magic in life, she’s ready with a back catalogue of happy days to help her carry on through with a smile!

Pathway to Parenting…

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It’s a completely new type of tired isn’t it? Some days are better than others, some days I feel positively sprightly. And then some days…oh boy. Some days you feel a fatigue that completely encompasses you; your arms and legs feel like they’ve had all the energy and any vitality drained from them. You can almost feel your entire body sending every nutrient and bit of energy you have straight to baby.

And who would want anything else for the good of their baby at this, the fastest growing stage.

But my God does it take it out of you! As I type, my bundle of joy clearly has the hiccups, and even each little jump inside my tummy feels like an exertion!

In other news, the pre baby bucket list is going well. The weather has given a helping hand of course, we had a lovely day out in Oxford walking round, re-visiting a few places that hold particular romantic significance. There’s been afternoon teas out and lunches at new found places. We’ve gone out for a lovely dinner date, enjoyed a sunny afternoon in Cirencester, visiting our favourite frozen yoghurt cafe (up there in my top two of foods that really hit the spot! The other top spot…? Pickled onions, don’t ask!) we’ve also enjoyed many evenings eating dinners in the garden – and really made the most of being able to take more time cooking and baking and enjoying board games afterwards. I know what you’re thinking… woah, slow down with your crazy lifestyle..! But if friends tips and internet tips are anything to go by, it’s the small things you’ll no longer have time for.

At a recent visit to a friends house; Mum was eating half bites in between feeding baby and trying to clear up toys before Dad got home and heated up leftovers for his dinner after doing baby’s bath and bed time whilst Mum had headed out for work. With child care being so expensive, they’d found that part time evening work was the only way of keeping afloat but this obviously has had an effect on time they shared as a couple.

And over a cup of tea (of which hers went cold whilst she tried to eat and feed baby and then was put into the microwave to hand over to Dad when he got in as he wouldn’t have time to put the kettle on..!) she explained that when they did have time together, it was as a family, not a couple and they didn’t begrudge their kids taking centre stage but had noticed that connecting with each other had become harder to do. I’ll point out at this stage that they also have a toddler who I was helping to keep occupied whilst everything else was going on, I didn’t just go round and smugly watch the chaos!

And this is a familiar story for a lot of families. Unlike my Grandparents time, it’s not common to have your whole family on the same street anymore, and although these days you’re more likely to have friends nearby, as my friend pointed out, you can’t ask your friends for the same support as family can provide. And with more and more people living further away from close family members, it’s hard to juggle family life in such a fast paced modern world.

We’re very lucky and have quite a lot of family locally and with both of our jobs, we’ll have quite a bit of time to parent together but it’s undeniable that moments like we’ve treasured in the past and especially recently will be fewer and further between.

So for our last few weeks as a couple, we are going to soak up as much time together as we can, before we get permanently cast in the roles of ‘Mum & Dad!’ Roles that we happily signed up for but roles we are undoubtedly unqualified for, that’s surely half the fun..!

Today however, I am absolutely wiped. So today, no big trips out or long walks or energetic activities. Today we tick off from the list a ‘duvet day’ (although with the weather still being so warm, it’s actually more of a loose sheet day…!) a marathon viewing session of the series New Girl, a favourite of ours, pyjamas as official day wear, followed by some more board games in the garden and a lazy, easy to do dinner. I may even throw in a nap, it’s the spontaneous spirit that keeps life so exciting after all. We will probably venture out at some point, we’ve heard the local Tesco has a Ben and Jerrys ice-cream offer on at the moment and that seems to line up quite nicely with our plans!

It’s a quiet life at the moment, it won’t stay quiet for long, it’s a tiring stage of pregnancy, a fatigue that certainly won’t get better in the months that follow. But there’s also a real feeling of content.

Don’t get me wrong, I see us all taking on the Great Wall of China as a family in the future, adventuring across the globe and getting up to all kinds of mischief!

But right now, we’re concentrating on enjoying being two people in love, on the cusp of becoming a family, preparing for what’s to follow, which although it may seem boring from the outside, feels on the inside, a lot like an awfully big adventure…

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The Witching Hour…

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The below passage is probably as close to the typical film/TV version of pregnancy we’ve had the whole way through. And in answer to your inevitable first thought after reading it, yes I am indeed incredibly lucky to have such a supportive partner…

Let me first set the scene…this week we’ve had two false alarm scares and very bad nights of sleep thanks to nausea, ever growing bump, itchiness, uncomfortability, ligament pain and generally the delights of the third trimester! We’ve stayed smiling and even managed to tick a few activities off the list of ‘things to do whilst we don’t have a baby in tow,’ but as every parent to be will tell you, it’s not easy.

Anyway, cut to 11pm tonight and I’m in the bath to ease my tummy, hips and pelvic pain and trying to ignore the nausea that’s plagued the evening and my husband comes upstairs to see how I’m feeling,

“Feeling any better? Is there anything I can get you to help the nausea?”

“I really need some kind of pork based food and a sugary sparkling drink.”

“*confused pause* Right, ok. Well I could bring you up some raw carrot and a glass of sparkling water?”

My face did the talking, carrot is not even remotely pork based and sparkling water just wasn’t going to cut it,

“It’s fine, I’m going to just try and go to bed.”

Post bath,now about 11.45pm and we’re trying to settle, nausea distinctly unabated and a sudden itchiness coupled with stomach cramps and I start pulling at the duvet,

“No no no no, please no, I really just want to go to sleep.”

My husband looked at me sympathetically, “can’t sleep?”

I tried to fight the sarcasm but unfortunately as is my natural go to, it just happens, “yeah, I’m asleep right now dreaming of pork flavoured carrots (I immediately feel bad for being a cow) I’m sorry, I’m just so….AWAKE!”

After a quick ‘I’m sorry for the unnecessary bitchiness’ cuddle, my husband gets a glint in his eye, “come on, get up, I’m really awake too, we’re off out.”

At this stage, I check my phone for the time in case baby brain meant I’d skipped the part where it was the middle of the night, but the iPhone screen only confirmed that it was now almost midnight. We’d earlier discussed getting a new toaster from Dunelm Mill and I started to get concerned that baby brain was contagious. But, out of a variety of curiosity, excitement, a sense of adventure and frankly a desire just to do something that wasn’t lying in the dark trying not to cry and/or vomit, I dutifully got dressed and got in the car.

“Are you still feeling sick?”

I nodded. We headed out towards the nearest bigger town and soon arrived at a 24 hour Tesco and I was given the instruction to pick out whatever I wanted. We were there about ten minutes and came out with the following…a pack of cooked chorizo, a packet of pork scratchings, some smoked salmon, and a packet of cheese thins. Individually not overly weird but probably not the first four items you’d put together in a meal. We returned to the car and headed back out onto the road, but not home. Firstly, a pit stop to a 24 hour drive through McDonalds to pick up a banana milkshake AND a sprite (the heart wants what it wants..!) and then roughly a 40 minute drive round the surrounding Cotswolds with soft music on. As I could probably have predicted, I demolished the drinks but had only a little taster from each of my Tesco food items, but my God did It make me feel a bit better!

Months ago, before we even knew we were having a baby, I mentioned in passing that as a baby myself, I would be eased off to sleep by a drive in the car and it continued to be something that relaxed me to sleep (probably mentioned at the start of a long journey as a prequel to falling asleep on the way!) and cut to months later, this marvellous individual, and my absolute rock had remembered, and not only taken me to get my ridiculous food request, but then driven round in the middle of the night to help me relax and get to a calmer sleepy state.

On our drive we chatted about our past, our future and several things we used to discuss on the many drives we took together before even becoming a couple, laughing at some very happy memories and getting excited about the impending arrival.

As it dawned on us both how close we are to meeting our baby, the stomach cramps seemed easier, the nausea abated and I could feel my shoulders physically relax. We pulled back into our driveway about 1.45am, and after putting away the leftover food, we headed straight up to bed.

I’m very lucky to have such a supportive partner who often knows the best thing to do when I can’t see the wood from the trees. I’m still not fast asleep but I feel much more relaxed and more comfortable after our little midnight jaunt out. As my husband gets some well deserved sleep next to me, it occurs to me that we can now tick off that clichéd ‘irrational middle of the night food trip,’ off the list of ‘things films expect you to do when pregnant!’

Tonight won’t be the last night I struggle to sleep while pregnant, but while I feel my baby kicking about (she’s a definite night owl!) the very welcomed break in routine tonight has reminded me that this part isn’t easy for anyone but I’m so lucky to have such a supportive partner and we’re incredibly lucky to be expecting our first child. So although you don’t necessarily need a 40 minute drive and a McDonalds drive through to do it, it’s worth just taking a bit of time out to realise why you’re doing this and what it’s soon to lead to. A bit of sickness and discomfort is a very small price to pay really.

And because he totally deserves it, my husband took a ‘during midnight hour adventure’ picture of me so that one day; when we watch one of those films that presents pregnancy in the familiar stereotypical way and I tut and shake my head at how unrealistic these films are, he can get said picture out to show our daughter, “let me tell you a little story about Mummy…”

D-Day Dress Rehearsal…

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This weekend we had two instances of excitement. 1) the Eurovision Song Contest was on which, although quite famously loved/unloved in the UK, is a real family favourite of mine and something I always look forward to. And then with a slightly different type of excitement 2) on Friday, we had to make sure our hospital bag was ready to go in it’s slightly unfinished state as a few Braxton Hicks contractions started to feel a bit too real and baby decided to send out another sign that hinted she was ready already!

We’re nearly 31 weeks and to try and stay calm we firstly re-affirmed that at this stage, although it’s not ideal, baby is in fact fully developed, just needing a bit of extra time to fill out and strengthen. Therefore, she wouldn’t be in real medical danger, therefore no need to unduly panic.

Next step was sitting down and breathing (I know…you’d like to hope that ‘breathing’ is an unnecessary step on a ‘to do’ list but baby brain coupled with the slight panic that there could be a baby on it’s way does tend to send rationality slightly askew) as advised by those in the medical know how, we had started timing the contractions.

I also then called my brother as he lives nearest the hospital and should we on D-Day (used in this instance to mean Delivery Day) be sent home in early labour, instead of the 40 minute journey home, we’ll be heading the 5 minutes to his place. So we called just to mention that we might be popping round and to double check he had some milk in.

My husband and brother were both ready for action and I have to admit seeing Tom going round the house speaking his internal checklist out loud, and Christopher on the phone reiterating that any time of night or day is fine but he was in London in two days time and was that ok got me giggling. To which I was reprimanded as if laughing may encourage the baby to come jiggling out early, which only made me laugh harder. If labour had any potential to be that jovial, I’d be extremely happy but something tells me laughing through it won’t be an option…depending on just what type of gas you’re given I suppose.

Anyway for 5 days we are without a car whilst our two seater van/car gets replaced for a 5 seater baby friendly car, and almost for this reason alone we figured that the laws of irony would mean labour would be more likely in this small gap. So the call to my brother was also to pre warn him that we may need the chauffeur add on with our stay.

So, transport confirmed, Mother to be calm and even enjoying herself, hospital bag not complete but ready enough, Father to be slightly paler than normal but prepared and ready to jump to action. Hospital aware and contractions being timed and pads out of their previously unopened packet. What was next? We gingerly approached the internet having being burned before by a wealth of worst case scenarios. ‘Have a bath which can often ease Braxton Hicks,’ real labour doesn’t just go away and a bath was done easily enough so we headed upstairs.

Sitting in the bath the reality that this baby that we’ve spent over 7 months discussing was definitely and imminently going to be with us was an exciting but terrifying prospect. We still had nearly 10 weeks to go to discuss the part that comes next, you know, the parenthood part…the part with no annual leave, no pay and no end…! Luckily for both of our blood pressures, the bath definitely eased the pain part of the tightenings and timings showed that the contractions were irregular, and were becoming if anything, further apart rather than closer together.

Declaring ourselves out of the woods just in time for a few friends to arrive, we relaxed and the rest of the evening went by uncomfortably (for my tummy only, we didn’t all sit in uncomfortable silence!) but lovely with a BBQ a much more welcomed activity than premature labour.

The whole event was a bit of a shock to the system and it made us distinctly aware of how little control we have over the part that comes next. Plans from here on in will be written very definitely but in pencil! It may well be that we have longer than the prescribed 40 weeks and we’ll end up desperate for D-Day to arrive, there’s just no way to tell. That’s the ‘magic’ of pregnancy and an unpredictability we’ll have to get used to in the months and years to follow. But in a way it was also comforting, we’ve all seen those films which condense labour into a two minute frantic montage. But actually, chances are (and I’m well aware there are exceptions to this, but in the main…) we’ll have time to get things organised and calm ourselves down a bit before even arriving at the hospital, what happens then is a free for all, they’re the medical staff, we’ll have some wriggle room to stop being calm!

A dress rehearsal allows you to be better prepared for opening night so for that reason, Braxton Hicks plus added little anomalies that suggest labour are helpful practise for parents. Luckily for us, we were then able to enjoy the original weekend excitement, and sat with our European feast, homemade scorecards and ‘wine’ (there is no soft drink over the last few months we haven’t put into our wedding gift champagne flutes and dubbed wine or champagne!) the Eurovision Song Contest which provided a fun but ridiculous night of entertainment. 2014 will go down in Eurovision history because of the controversy before it and the public acceptance with the eventual winner Austria’s Conchita, ‘the bearded lady’. We will certainly always remember this weekend and whilst giggling away at our favourite entry Iceland, we made a mental note to add it into our ‘the year you were born scrapbook,’ with the hope that perhaps in years to come, we’d tell our daughter during a well loved family night, whilst she fills in her own scoresheet, about the Eurovision she nearly made it in time for!

The Calm Before the Storm…

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After a VERY busy show week during my third trimester, the start of maternity leave was a very welcome change of pace. For a good three days, the traditional post show come down ensured that days at home with a quick trip out into the sunshine was as hectic as the schedule became. Now on day four, I’ve realised that a longer post show recovery time is needed when nearly eight months pregnant, however my thoughts have started to turn to the next few weeks before baby arrives.

So many people have told me that as it’s our first child, I’m in a rather magical position where I can really enjoy a few weeks. With any future children, I will have our first to look after so relaxing days at the spa will no longer be an option! Therefore, I feel like I need to be prepared; you can feel there’s a list coming up can’t you…? Well before the obvious pre baby maternity list of dreams, first I’ll list the most popular tips I’ve been given from friends, family and various forum members.

– Sleep, get as much sleep as possible, if there’s time for a nap, TAKE THE NAP! (I cannot emphasise enough how many people gave me this tip..! If only getting a good nights sleep wasn’t so tricky with a ridiculously active baby bump!)

– Spa days, spa lunches, trip to the spa, manicure, pedicure, get thee to a pampery! (Financial constraints allowing of course!)

– Bake, sew, knit, decorate, any creative pursuit, whilst the time is here, DO, MAKE, CREATE!

– Get away for even just a couple of days with your partner on what is now fashionably known as a ‘babymoon,’ before you both get knocked sideways by the early days of parenthood, book in a few days to relish some quality time together.

There were many more weird and wonderful suggestions, including a link sent to me for a half day out of falconry…as someone who is terrified of birds, a fear that’s only been more severe during pregnancy, even the accompanying picture on the link made me need to put the kettle on and have a sit down..! However the above four were the definite favourites and mentioned almost with every recommendation. The main restriction for most families is of course financial constraints, as much as I’d love to temporarily move into a spa, the treatments don’t come free.

However these days, websites such as groupon, wowcher and living social can be a new Mums best friend! As well as offering up some great local ideas including UK breaks, they are all advertised as cheaper than normal. Another benefit is that these discounts are sometimes only open for people who can go in off peak times for the various companies which of course, on maternity leave we can do! If you don’t mind hunting around yourself, you can often get discount prices for spas, restaurants and hotels if you’re able to go mid week or outside their popular times. Not quite as easy if you’re maternity leave starts during school holidays but luckily for me, my more restful weeks fall just outside of those!

So without further ado, I made a list of the things I plan to do before baby arrives, my ‘pre baby bucket list’ if you will! I’m sure there’ll be some things I don’t manage to get round to and depending on when baby decides she’s ready to make an appearance, I may end up with slightly less or more time than anticipated!

1) My husband and I are currently scouring the websites for potential babymoon options as a couple of relaxing days away sounds very appealing!

2) A spa day, whether it just be hanging out by a pool or having a specific treatment, either sounds like a treat to me!

3) A trip to the theatre, where I only have to be there just before showtime and can leave when the curtain comes down. I adore working in theatre but being heavily pregnant, being an audience member would be a real treat!

4) I have very nearly finished collating a collection of poetry I’ve been writing over the past couple of years and I feel now is the time to finish it, I can’t see it staying a priority once the little one arrives!

5) Do two dinner date nights. We watched a horrendous reality programme the other day where a single looking for love goes round to three peoples houses, has dinner and then rejects two of them by sending a microwave meal for one, when they are all ready for a date out for two! Although that might not seem to be a particularly good precursor to romance…we plan to go to the supermarket, separately get ingredients for a three course meal. And then for one night each, cook a three course meal for the other, set the table, get ready (nothing fancy but not in pyjamas!) and ban all talk that normally interrupts a night in; ‘did you reply to the estate agents about the bath sealant/should we sort out the shed/what date does the internet bill come out again?’ A proper romantic night in, times two!

6) Finish our pregnancy journey scrapbook, it’s a present to our baby, one she probably won’t even be interested in but with little anecdotes from the pregnancy, how we both feel, events in the news, what music, films etc are popular right now. A keepsake from the year she was born. The idea is to include the first few months of her life as well but who knows how thoroughly I’ll do it once I’ve got baby sick in my hair roughly two hours sleep a night and all the rest..!

7) Get our baby’s bedroom decorated, rather more practical than the rest and we’re not even doing anything particularly dramatic but we do want to put a few little things up so that when baby arrives, the room is ready!

8) Have the girls over for a night in! There’s no better therapy than a night of giggling with the girls, Sainsburys do a fab non alcoholic wine so I can even really feel like I’m treating myself!

9) Plan and have a baby shower – yes yes it’s an an American thing really but a chance to get excited about the upcoming arrival, play those daft games you play at baby showers and get together with friends? Sounds like a great use of an afternoon to me!

10) Compile a list of films and books I always mean to watch and read but never normally find the time to do so. Baby brain makes remembering them at the time I think about sitting down and doing so near impossible so at least with a handy list available, it could at least shortcut the three hour debate that usually happens before films are selected!

11) Keep up with the articles, I’m currently being paid for one or two articles a month for a magazine publication group and only started doing it in a professional capacity earlier on this year. I am determined to make sure I am able to keep it up throughout, as it has always been a dream of mine to be a paid writer and although monthly articles do not make me Enid Blyton, I owe it to myself AND my daughter to carry on with it.

Eleven isn’t the most satisfying number to have on a list but there it is! I am so excited to welcome our baby into the world, and I cannot wait for the inevitable carnage that follows, my husband and I are only prepared for the fact that we won’t be prepared. And therefore, in the calm before the storm, we are going to make the most of the maternity leave.

Us first time Mothers have no idea what is to come, which makes this time terrifying as well as exciting; it will never be as much of a mystery again, so whether you’re at the same stage, or a seasoned pro, please do share your knowledge or experience, I don’t know about my other comrades but this Mum-to-be would be very grateful indeed!