Friday, 30 August 2013

Waiting for the call...

Every day this week I have been on tenterhooks. Every time R texts or calls while I'm at work, every time she sighs or puts her hand to her tummy, I'm prepped and ready for action, adrenalin doing what it does best - making my heart quicken. 

So far no drama though, and I have been reminding myself that just 5% of babies come on their due date, which for us is Sunday. 

It's not just me - I rang my mum a couple of days ago, and I could hear the expectancy in her voice as she said hello. So now, at the beginning of all calls with our nearest and dearest, both R and I start with "nothing to report yet"... 

Indeed I had a text from R saying: "Can you call? (Not in labour) xxx"

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Top 10 things I've learnt as a mum to be

Avid readers will know that R is now 39 weeks plus 2 days pregnant. Sunday is the due date, which means that almost certainly Sunday will be spent impatiently waiting for something to happen only to wake up on Monday with baby bump still in situ. However, I thought I would take this opportunity to share my pregnancy learnings, before the new chapter of parenthood begins:

1. No one quite knows how to deal with a mum-to-be who isn't pregnant. At work last week someone felt it appropriate to ask me to 'explain again' how it is that I will be taking maternity leave in the next few weeks. It surely isn't that hard to understand - let alone same sex couples, what about all the couples who adopt?!

2. Being the non-pregnant partner can be quite tough. You get a lot of the emotional baggage of becoming a parent, without society's natural sympathy which is directed to pregnant women. 

3. More people than you expect will ask 'how did you do it?' We've almost always happily answered this question to hopefully demystify the process. Again though, it really isn't rocket science.

4. Everyone's an expert. No, really, they are. Even if they haven't had children, they will tell you exactly how pregnancy is, will be and what parenthood is like. 

5. Cliches become part of a depressing routine: get sleep now while you can; your life will never be the same again; you'll go to work to relax; if she's born on time she'll be oldest in her school year; you'll never get a full nights sleep again...

6. Horror stories are de rigeur - no one ever tells happy and uneventful birth stories. They always feel the need to share the horrific, dramatic and terrifying, conflating blue lights, sirens, drips, doctors, forceps, surgeons etc etc ad nauseum.

7. Babies need an inordinate amount of stuff. We now have a whole room full of what can only be described as 'baby equipment'. You start getting competitive with other parents about which buggy you choose. The fact that we've *not* opted for a travel system appears to be something of a political statement. 

8. Moving house seven weeks before the due date should be avoided at all costs. Ok, so it was the right move and we now actually have room for a baby, as well as a garden. It was worth it, but was by far the most stressful house move of my life. 

9. After a certain point, if you are in the pub (even having an innocent shandy), without your pregnant partner, you are teased for being irresponsible and 'leaving her at home'. She's pregnant, not ill!

10. The biological stuff means very little. When I set up this blog it started off by dealing with the fallout of me not being biologically linked to my child. It felt like a big deal to start with. But now, all those months on, I feel without question I am this child's Mama. The donor was just that, a donor. And while I am grateful for what he did, it is me who has supported R through the pregnancy, will sit by her side in the birthing suite, and bring up our daughter. Parenting is about proximity. 

Friday, 23 August 2013

Dear baby...

Dear baby, 

we're all ready for you and I know you're due on 1st Sept, but I really want to meet you soon. In fact I'm so excited about you I can't sleep. Mummy wants you to wait until Wednesday because she's going to a posh restaurant on Tuesday. But I just wanted you to know that I'm ready now. I've even read mummy's hypnobirthing book. So, if you want to come this weekend, that's fine. 

Can't wait to meet you and welcome you to our family. 

Love always (and impatiently),

Mama xxx

Tuesday, 20 August 2013


I feel a bit like a microwave that has just gone 'ping'! I am, whisper it, ready for baby. Followers of this blog will have read my hopes, fears, anxieties, rants and confusion. But here I am, less than two weeks from the due date, and I cannot wait to meet my daughter. 

It hasn't always been an easy nine months, but both R and I know it has been worth it. The bag is packed ready for the birth centre. The car has petrol in. I've stopped drinking so I can drive any time. We have a cot, clothes, pushchair, nappies, moses basket, toys and much more. We've done antenatal classes, breast feeding classes and practiced hypnobirthing and active birthing yoga. 

There is just one thing left: labour. 

Wish us luck!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Reasons to be fearful: 1, 2, 3

I've written about fear before, but now, two weeks from our due date, the fear is very different. It's the fear about how our lives will change. 

Yes, we chose this baby, we want and love her more than anything. But when she arrives everything will be different.  Forever. Every time we go past the theatre and see a play we'd like to go to we say "oh we must book tickets" and then realise that we won't be able to go out at the drop of a hat anymore. 

And whoever said "hell is other people" had a point. Or perhaps it should be "hell is mother people". Everyone seems so keen to tell us horror stories of screaming babies, sleep deprivation and life being fundamentally altered. And yes, if course I know that these things will happen from time to time. But I am desperately trying to keep hold of the love we will all share, and the wonderful things we will do. They don't tend to be the stories people tell so much though. 

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

We're engaged!

Yes, it's true, baby's head has engaged according to our midwife (and the shooting pains Rachel's had in her pelvis). My mum was thrilled when I told her, and reminded me that she dropped her shopping in Finefair when my head engaged with her tiny pelvis. 

What is less encouraging is that this is no guarantee of a timely baby. It just means she's ready as and when the contractions start. To R's credit, she is doing everything she possibly can to usher her oxytocin levels into overdrive, including drinking raspberry leaf tea, eating dates, doing yoga and hypnobirthing us all into oblivion. 

In other news, is it just me or is the TENS machine a teensy weensy bit scary? It made me squeal when I tried it out...

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Jealous of maternity leave...

R started her maternity leave yesterday and if I'm honest, I'm quite jealous. I'm trying hard to be a supportive partner and prepared parent-to-be while carrying out a demanding job effectively. R is now able to focus herself totally on the baby, and I really wish I could too. I definitely have moments currently where I feel I'm failing in all of my roles of mum, wife and employee. 

I am so glad that R is now able to relax a bit more now. Our little baby is definitely fully baked as we have reached the 37 week mark. So now, she can put her feet up, let the Oxytocin flow, and wait for things to begin... Hopefully I'll start to relax a bit too as we approach the due date in two and a half weeks. I won't hold my breath though. Life is about to change dramatically, as everyone keeps telling us, and I am somewhat concerned about the impact sleep deprivation will have on us. 

I am trying to keep my mind focused on taking our little bundle for a walk in the local park in her pushchair when the storm has died down. 

Thursday, 8 August 2013

The dominance of dads...

Dads are great. I love my dad, and I am really enjoying my relationship with him as I grow older. Talking to him as I prepare to become a parent has been really helpful and enriching. It is odd though, as I travel ever deeper into parenthood, that I am beginning to resent the word 'dad'. I shouldn't really, but on Saturday R and I went to look at the birth unit we hope to have our daughter at in (whisper it) around three weeks time. It was a gorgeous centre, very patient focused, more like a spa than a hospital, and culturally sensitive in almost every regard. The one regard that seemed to be overlooked was the fact that even though R and I were holding hands and talking about our baby, the woman showing us round continued to talk consistently about 'mum and dad'. 'Dads will be able to...' etc. I'm now used to the odd inevitable slip of the tongue in antenatal classes, but it is always followed by an apologetic glance and then the reinforcement of the words 'parent' and 'birth partner', which reassures me that I have been acknowledged.

At this birth centre though I may as well have been invisible. We were only a small group, maybe five couples, and we were inevitably the only same sex couple. However, it seemed truly odd that a centre that prides itself on person centred care and cultural diversity should ignore me and R completely in so many ways. I have no doubt that as and when we arrive there ready to give birth, the midwives will be brilliant, and I am glad we have chosen the centre. But, surely it could be made more welcoming to the 'others' like me?

Alongside this, all magazines have 'daddy' pages, which I actually find really useful to read. They offer really handy tips about supporting someone who's just given birth. But once, just once, wouldn't it be nice if there was another mother on one of those pages too?

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

I kid you not - the things you learn as a mum to be

No one tells you about perineal massage...

...yes, that's right, it's a thing. 

And there's a handy demonstration video too: