Monday, 19 December 2011

38 Weeks


Arrgghhhh! Only just over a week to go. Shrimpy really could arrive any time now and I'm still in complete denial that there is a little person in my tummy! I remember my friend telling me she was in denial about having her son and I didn't really understand what she meant at the time but now I do. Even though my tummy has giant movements on a daily basis now as though someone is trying to get out through my flat but non-pokey out belly button, I still can't get my head around it being another human being that is making those movements. It's just weird. A person in a person!

Anyway, with Shrimpy genuinely due to arrive any time from now, I am pleased to report that I finally feel ready for his arrival (not emotionally and mentally, no, not that at all, I mean organisationally). There was some final DIY to do (mostly putting up a staircase handrail as even my papa has been getting anxious about the deathtrap stairs) and we took the opportunity to complete Shrimpy's room as well so it is now looking like a proper nursery. Hours of hard work from Ron and weeks of nagging from me went in to that final DIY push so I think we can both be very proud of ourselves.

Chez Shrimp
As well as that last DIY push that was on my mind, I finally managed to get my hospital bag fully packed. My brain works in such a way that I always over-estimate the time it takes to get anything done, which is good, as it means I always get things done but it also means I get unnecessarily anxious about how much I have to do and actually, when it came down to it, I finished packing my hospital bag in about half an hour (after spending a fair bit of time thinking about what I needed and buying it, of course). There are many hospital bag / bringing baby home checklists out there on the interweb but I didn't fell that any of them exhaustively suited my purpose so I composed my own which was a combination of a number of checklists and things that trusty friends (i.e. the sensible ones) suggested I pack / have at home. Should it be of any use to anyone else, please feel free to pilfer my list which you should be able to download from this location (that's right, it's an ♥ Excel ♥ file).

I'm relieved to be organised now (and Christmas shopping is complete) so that I can just take each day as it comes and do something if I feel like it or not if I don't, which is nice, but it really is a strange time of life. I can't think of any other time like it - ever - where you, or Mother Nature, is about to put your body through quite a traumatic experience ensuing possible major surgery and you have absolutely no idea (other than a rough 4 week period) when this is going to happen. It's a shame because there are so many people I would like to visit before the Shrimp arrives but I just can't risk driving anywhere too far away from home and, even for local events, I find myself having to use probably one of the best excuses of all time for possible non-attendance when I respond to invites in saying that I should hope to attend and will be there unless I am in hospital having a baby. It's not often you get to use that one.

As before, with this extra time off, which don't get me wrong - I'm loving, I continue to get quite anxious about the birth and the realisation of having a little person to look after. Every time I do anything at the moment, I find myself thinking, blimey, will I ever be able to do this again, well, for many, many years anyway. Simple things like cooking, bathing, getting my haircut, going for a run, all these activities and more seem like they would be very difficult to do with a little person demanding my constant attention. The other day, I spent about 4 hours making a lovely dinner of mushroom consommé, beef wellington and lemon ice cream and I realised that I wouldn't be able to spend that amount of time cooking for some considerable number of years, which is a shame as I love cooking. Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised with the activities I can still do though. Perhaps it just needs some creative thinking!

The midwife saga continued this week but I am pleased to report that I have a positive update on the situation. I saw my usual midwife on Tuesday at which she unveiled her worst performance to date. I'll try not to jibber on too much about the specifics but, in short (actually, wait, I think this might turn out to be 'in long'), having let a work experience student conduct my exam at 35 weeks, for this, the 38 week appointment - i.e. potentially the last time I see her before Shrimpy arrives - she once again made the student conduct the entire exam. I wasn't even asked if I minded this time and whilst, yes, I should have said something, I was kind of in shock and so seething that I would have literally exploded at the poor young girl and my evil midwife so I made a decision that it was better to keep quiet and deal with it afterwards. The student, followed by evil midwife was unable to take my blood pressure as the machine wasn't working, found that my urine had protein in it, which the midwfie proceeded to explain to the student, not me, that this can occasionally be a sign of pre-eclampsia but it could also be because I had been using the same container since week 9. Rather than give me a new container and ask me to do another tinkle at the clinic so it could be tested, EM (evil midwife) felt it appropriate to just leave it as my urine is normally fine and so is my blood pressure. So, that was all rather reassuring. Then, the student was unable to find the heartbeat for about 5 minutes which I wasn't overly panicked about as I am fortunate enough to have my own heartbeat monitor at home and often listen to Shrimpy beating away if I haven't felt him move for a while but this could have really panicked someone else and I couldn't believe EM, who was busy texting someone, didn't intervene for so long. She eventually found a weak heartbeat claiming it was probably just phone interference or something. Student couldn't determine which way round the baby was again but guessed it was head down (which is a safe bet as most babies are head down by this stage) and believed she could feel 'most of the head' so the midwife told her to write in the notes that the baby was 4/5 free (i.e. about one fifth of its head was in the pelvic bone). I couldn't believe it. Most people by this stage are fully aware of their baby's position and whether or not it is engaged. I was livid. Actually, I was livid for about 24 hours.

So, the next morning I woke up and thought, I just can't do this anymore. I would rather see no midwife than one that raised my blood pressure so high so I decided to do something about it. I called the Children's Centre and got the number of the head community midwife and gave her a call. I left her two messages on Wednesday, one on Thursday, another one on Friday and eventually, on Friday late morning she called me back (it's a good job it was nothing too urgent!). Grumbling aside, when I finally got through to her, she sounded very nice, apologetic about EM and understanding about what a vulnerable time it is and completely understood why I was so upset. I am now seeing her this week instead and shouldn't have to see EM again. I'm optimistic that I will be properly examined this time which is a huge relief.

I'd like to make a further comment also about birthing centres / singleton units also after last week's disappointing experience with the tour. My good NCT buddy had her tour booked in for this Sunday just gone and like me had had to call on the day to check it was still going ahead. Due to staff shortages the tour was not going ahead and they were unable to fit her in to any of the other tours until well beyond her due date! This staff shortage thing is of great concern to me. Only yesterday I was reading an article about a new birthing centre in Maidstone having just opened up whilst two others in Kent are struggling to remain open and are due to be closed. It seems the situation is all @rse about foot. We clearly have enough great facilities for ladies to have their babies but a massive shortage of midwives to sufficiently staff them. Those that are open seem to rarely be actually open so perhaps more of a focus on staffing those facilities rather than building new ones might be the way forward. It's a shame as birthing centres are really sold and recommended to you throughout NCT classes and the various other antenatal classes available. But offering a choice which is unlikely to be available on the all important day seems more than a little mean. It's like when you are eating a bag of skittles and you still think you have one in the bag but when you go to eat it, you were mistaken and you'd actually already eaten the last one. Yes, that's what it feels like.

So, this past week, generally I've been filling my time with chilling out and totally pointless activities such as manipulating images with various iPhone applications and creating poor quality and needless videos. Some might say I have too much time on my hands (actually, many people have said that to me) but I'll let you be the judge of that.

Here's a little video I made on my phone in a matter of minutes starring Boog as the most competent midwife I am yet to encounter...

And here is a pregnant me as the subject of a 'Banksy'...

And those of you lucky enough to be my 'friend' on facebook may have seen some of my other many creations. They don't call me 'Woody The Creative One' for nothing, I can tell you.

Other than d1cking about with time wasting activities, I've been spending some time with Ron and enjoying local activities. One evening this week, we sang the 12 days of Christmas at decorated trees up and down our lovely street ending with a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie (this was an organised event by the way, Ron and I didn't just wonder up the street singing to trees). Then, yesterday, we went to see a slightly comedy version of 'A Christmas Carol' at a local beautiful estate and gardens with more mulled wine and a mince pie and it was all very enjoyable and very festive.

My mother was a bit naughty this week, mind. I might have mentioned before but she is a lot of a worry bags and spends most of her time these days getting in a state about me going in to labour (before the pregnancy, it was just general death she worried about) and it just so happened that her daily call yesterday was while we were at the play so I was unavailable for about an hour and a half. When we got out of the play, I had several missed calls, Ron had one and it turns out she had even called my brother. It reminded me of the time when I was about 15 and I popped in to see my friend Jo on the way home from school making me about half an hour late back. When I went in to school next day it seemed that virtually every member of Swanmore Secondary School's parents had received a frantic call as well as all the local hospitals and police stations. Silly lady. I had decided I wasn't going to tell her when I went in to labour to avoid her getting herself in to a total wreck for a day or so until Shrimpy pops out but we have agreed that perhaps I will tell her so that if she can't get hold of me and I haven't said I am going in to hospital then it might just be because I'm doing something else for a bit. Silly, silly lady! Poor Mother Wood. If I could, I would give her some strong valium, put her to sleep and wake her up when Shrimpy is here.

Anyway, so this week generally brings more of the same. I'm still feeling fairly uncomfortable but not to the point where I'm so uncomfortable I just want the baby out (and am therefore willing labour to start), which I am assured will happen so I think I have at least a week or so to go yet before becoming a Mummy. Oh, I almost forgot, on Thursday, it's my birthday! I normally make a HUGE fuss about this as my Mummy was naughty and had me at a time of year where I had to share my birthday with Jesus (you wouldn't catch me doing that to my child - doh!) but this year, I have virtually forgotten about it. Ok, so I have prompted a few people that there is still time to get me a present but generally birthday and Christmas celebrations have all taken a back seat to the arrival of the sea-loving one. I am seeing my parents on the day though and Ron is also taking me out for dinner in our fabulous local Michelin star restaurant - at least that's what I have booked so I am sure Ron will see fit to treat me it being my birthday 'n' all. I'm looking forward to all these things and wondering if I'll get through to the end of another week with a little person still in my tummy.

Let's see.

Current Symptoms:
  • More frequent and stronger contractions
  • Bump significantly dropping lower
  • Frequent toilet stops
  • Lessened heartburn
  • Swollen everything
  • Bleeding gums
  • Shortness of breath (slightly lessened now the baby has dropped a bit)
  • Sore shoulders
  • No contact lens wearing


Blah, blah, blah, the usual but Daddy's doing well and doing a great job at putting up with me and is busy working away also. He says 'Hi'.


I'm almost 50 cm tall now and weigh somewhere around 7½ pounds, allegedly. There's really not much going on here these days since I've been in the unfortunate situation of having my head stuck for over a week now. Actually, it sucks so I'm definitely thinking of making an exit soonish.

I have noticed that my finger and toe nails are getting quite long now and I've caught myself a few times. They definitely need a trim so hopefully Mummy and Daddy will get right on that when I come out. I refuse to wear those ridiculous scratch mittens so a nice manicure would be preferable thank you.

I'm quite excited about revealing my real name to everyone as well. Being likened to a sea-dwelling crustacean for the past 30 weeks or so is starting to become really tired. It's like, change the record, Mummy, I am not a bl00dy prawn, I am a human being (I believe John Merrick first made this observation about his own life).

So, will I see you before the next post? Hmm, let's see, I like to keep you all in some semblance of suspense as it's the only power I've got really!

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