Monday, 12 December 2011

37 Weeks

MUMMY

I can't believe last week was only my second week of maternity leave! It feels like months ago when I was last at work bossing everyone around (ah, I miss that, and I'm sure they all miss it too!). After resting for almost the entire first week, last week was the one when I had intended to get everything completely ready for the pending arrival of Shrimpy so that as I started this week I could just chill out and do things if I wanted to and laze about if I didn't. But I'm afraid, with best laid plans aft ganging agley and all that, I achieved very little again last week. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it and I am still very much enjoying not being at work but it's so easy to laze about in bed all morning with the high activity point of the day being the waddle to the sofa for the afternoon session. So, this week, now, this is the week when I really MUST get everything sorted as tomorrow it will be just two weeks until the due date and right in the zone of early Shrimp fishing time.

It's been a strange week and, for no apparent reason, a bit of an emotional roller coaster. I have gone from feeling really quite low and teary one minute to deliriously hysterical with laughter the next so I think the hormones are in total chaos mode at the moment which is a little unpleasant at times. In fact, only last night, I was lying in bed and wasting time on my iPhone after Ron had gone to sleep and found myself in absolute hysterics reading the 25 worst autocorrect texts and was laughing louder and louder whilst trying  to make no noise at all and then because I was trying to hold it all in, suddenly a huge burst of laughter came out which woke Ron up and he thought I was crying hysterically in a sad way so was worried something serious was wrong when I had to reassure him I was just having a little chuckle to myself (erm, crazy woman alert!). As I'd almost wet myself laughing, I thought it prudent to go for a tinkle and then I did a little windy pops and that made me laugh hysterically and the more I laughed, the more I windy popped and by the end of my toilet trip, I was on the floor crying with laughter and sat there thinking, what a crazy fecking nutter! Anyway, this is what hormones do to you, people.

The low points have come mostly from not feeling quite ready for the Shrimp and from it dawning on me that I really will have a little person in the house with me imminently and will undoubtedly lose my much enjoyed 'me' time for, well, many many years and sometimes it can be ever so overwhelming and terrifying. It hit me this week particularly because for months, all I thought about when I was pregnant was finishing work - a truly joyful prospect - and I didn't really need to think much beyond that because that was the next big milestone. Then, that time came, maternity leave started and for the first week, I was just so happy to not be commuting in to London and chilling out at home that I was still high on not being at work and then this week, I suddenly realised that there are no other smaller and less significant milestones to wait for, the next one is the big one, the Shrimp arrival which is formed of two parts: 1) the dreaded birth and 2) the arrival of a little person that I have to look after with not even the most basic IKEAesque instructions - a little life dependent on me (and Ron of course).

What also hit home this week when another of the NCT ladies sprogulated was that, based on due date alone, I'm next in the pecking order - arrrrggghhhhhh! Until NCT lady went and popped out her little boy, I could console myself with the fact that she was next.

Adding to the anxiety I am starting to feel now as well is that birth really does sound quite horrific! We agreed in our NCT group that those who felt comfortable to would share the full unedited versions of their labours and births with the rest of us and whilst it has been really interesting to read the full and gory details, both of them sounded really not very pleasant experiences at all - although, that said, both did state that no matter how awful some parts had been, it was worth every bit of pain and exhaustion to hold their little beans in their arms at the end so I am trying to focus on that bit. Both stories lent weight to my firm belief that writing a birth plan is pointless as well. In both of their cases, the birthing centres (which are the midwife led units over here) were closed (a point I would like to address separately shortly) and things went, well, not how either one of them would have planned. I'm sort of preparing myself for the worst case scenario now in the hope that anything better than that will be a pleasant surprise.

Anyway, congratulations to Charlotte and Jo on the arrivals of their little men (I refer to their babies entering the world, not their respective husbands turning up at the hospital). Only two of the group of seven ladies know the sex of their balls of fluff, myself being one of them (it surprised me actually how few people wanted to know) and we are both having boys so that's four out of seven boys already. I wonder whether there will be any little girls. I have observed from talking to other friends about their NCT classes that babies seem to come in waves of one particular sex which seems to be more than just random co-incidence. Strange.

So, this week, Ron and I attended Ashford Hospital for a pre-booked tour of the singleton unit (the midwife led unit as opposed to the traditional labour ward). Let me tell you, any thoughts I had in my head of giving birth in a spa-like environment in a jacuzzi with soft lighting and relaxing music have been very much laid to rest. I'm glad we went on the tour as it was a useful experience but, on the whole, I was fairly disappointed and let me tell you why.

Being generally an ultra-organised being, I first phoned Ashford hospital to book myself on to one of the birth unit / labour ward tours about 6 weeks ago. You aren't allowed to attend these tours until you are 36 weeks pregnant (which I find strange as it is leaving it awfully last minute in my opinion but I think it is a way to keep numbers down and only have people attending who haven't lost their babies prior to the 36 week point - I'm cynical that way), which was fine but they wouldn't even let me book on to a tour and told me to phone back when I was 36 weeks pregnant. OK, I thought, fair enough, so I called the singleton unit a day after I was 36 weeks pregnant and was greeted only with continuous ringing. This literally went on for an hour and I started thinking, hold on a second, this is the emergency contact number for the singleton unit that you are supposed to call when going in to labour and had I been in labour, no answer would have been less than an ideal outcome! Eventually I called the labour ward, which was answered fairly quickly (phew) and explained I was calling about the tour. The lady, who was clearly in a rush told me I shouldn't be calling them and needed to call the singleton unit, I explained I had and no one had answered for an hour and she told me simply to keep trying. I did, and about 20 mins later, the phone was finally answered by a lady who explained that there must be something wrong with the phones and she would arrange for an engineer as it appeared they had all been down for a few hours. Anyway, having finally got through to the right department, I was told that of their Sunday and Wednesday tours, all the Sunday tours were now fully booked until January! I was mildly annoyed at this stage as it was really important to me that Ron came to the tour with me as, on the day, I will be heavily relying on him to take care of the logistical side, as well as supporting me physically and emotionally (not asking for much am I?!), so to hear that only the Wednesday ones were now available having patiently waited to reserve a place on one was peevesome. Having no other choice, I booked on to the tour last Wednesday and was asked to call on the day to confirm it was still going ahead. Now, fortunately, Ron was able to work from home that day with a compromise of going to Paris the following day for his work, so he was able to join me and a couple of hours before the tour, as advised, I called the singleton unit again to confirm if the tour was still going ahead. Once again, no one answered the singleton unit number so straight away I called the labour ward where the lady, sounding slightly annoyed, told me I should have called the singleton unit. I explained again that this is what I had done with no response and needed to know if the tour was still going ahead before we make the trip. She huffed but came back a couple of minutes later saying they would still try to run it and to go to the singleton unit for 6pm sharp.

So (I've no doubt lost most of you by now with this mammoth rant), Ron and I turn up to the singleton unit about ten to six with all the lights off and no response to the buzzer. Another lady and a second couple turned up for the tour and we all decided to wait until 6pm outside the unit before trying to find someone. At just after 6, the most impatient of the three ladies (that was me, in case you hadn't guessed), decided to go up to the labour ward, labelled as the 'Delivery Suite' (this confused me, having baby brain, I assumed this was where the general hospital deliveries went initially and I was frantically searching for the 'Labour Ward', as the department is officially titled). We found it, buzzed on their buzzer and again, no answer. About 5 minutes later, a member of staff happened to be coming out so Ron and I went in and a lady rushed over as if to say, what on earth are you doing in here? I explained there were a number of us waiting downstairs for the tour with no information as to what was happening and that it would be good if someone could come down and impart afore-mentioned information. She said they had been rushed off their feet and would try to send someone down shortly and just to continue waiting down there.

We waited down there until someone finally arrived at about 6:30pm by which time, all the pregnant ladies had very poorly tootsies (there were no seats). The tour itself was fine but the biggest disappointment was that it seems as if the singleton unit is closed, if not most, certainly a lot of the time. It was closed the night of the tour due to staff shortage and the lady implied that this is fairly common this time of year so with Shrimpy's due date coming at a time when I can only imagine the staff levels will be at absolute minimum levels anyway, I am very pessimistic about the unit being open.

So, that's OK, at least I have now reset my expectations and am fully expecting a labour ward delivery and not a lava lamp in sight!

Sorry for the drawn out story there by the way but with that and the less than adequate community midwife I have been enduring, the NHS for all things pregnancy-related has been a let down. I just really hope on the day they will make up for it and deliver Shrimpy safely on to shore.

I had another great session of Aquanatal on Thursday and am, as ever, so grateful for the crazy lady who runs the sessions. As my midwife had failed to tell me which way round Shrimpy was, I asked Aquanatal Lady if she would mind doing a belly exam. She didn't, bless her little cottons, and after a thorough prod in a private room at the pool she explained exactly how baby was orientated and what she was feeling. Thankfully, Shrimpy is head down with his back to the right hand side and legs and arms to the left, which kind of ties in with the constant foot-under-left-ribs feeling I have been experiencing. She thinks the head is three fifths engaged (they divide the head in to fifths and note how much of it they can still feel - three fifths engaged means she could only feel about two fifths of the head and that the other three were deeper inside the pelvic bone). So, I was very relieved to hear this but anxious too - baby is definitely coming!

Other than being fully focused on the most horrific bits of childbirth whilst trying desperately not to be and lots more Christmas shopping (quite a few 'presents' I am ordering seem to be from me to me though - how did that happen?), not much else has happened this week. The week ended with a trip to the Rare Breeds Centre near Ashford which was most enjoyable though (you gotta love farm animals). Whilst there we saw some interesting Polish chickens - crazy looking things that I had never seen before - so I felt it compulsory to 'Auto Dance' them.


This week, well, this really is the week I get EVERYTHING sorted. I have had a stern word with myself and I think I have made it perfectly clear that I need to get things done this week rather than sit around watching TV on my @rse (I'm not suggesting there won't be some @rse-resting but other activities will be loosely incorporated in) unless of course Shrimpy decides to make an early exit, in which case, arrrgggghhhh, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Oh, and Ron and I have been making bets on when Shrimpy will arrive. I think he's coming on 23rd December - a little early - and Ron is going for the 28th, so we'll see who wins that all important pound for being the closest.

Current Symptoms:
  • Sciatica
  • Braxton Hicks contractions
  • Frequent toilet stops
  • Lessened heartburn
  • Swollen everything
  • Bleeding gums
  • Shortness of breath (slightly lessened now the baby has dropped a bit)
  • No contact lens wearing

DADDY

Daddy's been unable to blog again for the usual reasons. Hopefully he will make another appearance before or after Shrimpy arrives ...

BUMP

Well, that's just frickin' great. I try to be organised and get myself in to position well ahead of time for this birth thing that both Mummy and I are a little freaked out by and now my bl00dy head is stuck! It appears to have got wedged in some kind of hard casing and now I can't get it back out - try as I may. I've been squirming extra hard this week to try to get my head back loose again but I'm slowly coming to terms with the fact that The Only Way is Out (TOWIO - hmmm, that might make a good title for a reality series starring me).

So, I am now the size of a watermelon apparently, almost 49 cm tall and apparently weigh around 7 pounds. I am 'fully baked' as they say and could survive on my own on the outside world without medical assistance should I decide to make that early exit. It's looking more and more appealing to tell you the truth - I'm bored sh1tless in here!

Hopefully see you all soon.

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