Category: Pregnancy

Tick Tock: The countdown to baby no 2 is on

Why did you decide to have a baby? Was it because you had got married and it seemed like the next thing to do? Have you always dreamed about having children and just waited for the right time? Was it an accident and hopefully a pleasant surprise?

I’ve always known I wanted to have kids. But after we got married I felt a lot of pressure to have a child. Mainly because it seems to be the only thing people ask you once you have tied the knot. But in the end, the reason we started a family was all down to broodiness. I don’t get broody around other people’s children. In fact, pre-kids I was one of those people who frowned at your children running around the restaurant and thought they should be better behaved. Don’t get me wrong, I loved cuddles with my friends’ babies, but I was more than happy to give them back. [Aside: what makes me broody now is looking at pics and videos of the J as a baby – she was so cute!!]

So why did we have kids, you might ask? I had been on the pill for a good 10 years and decided to take a break (with a view to maybe have children in the next few years). Then, a few months later I went through my first period of broodiness. It was a weird primal feeling that I just really wanted to have a baby. It was like my body was telling me you should be having a baby now. But I ignore it and it went away. Then a few months later it came back again. The third time that it returned, I realised that I couldn’t ignore it any longer. So we decided to tentatively start trying and two months later we were pregnant. By then it was too late and we couldn’t change our minds!

Fast-forward to the present day and we have an almost three year old. I knew I didn’t want to have a small gap between kids, at least two years if not three. The thought of 2 kids under 2 fills me with dread. We decided that the J would benefit from having a sibling as she loves her younger cousin and is so sweet with babies. So, we would start trying for a baby last summer – that was the plan. But then my brother decided he wanted to get married in Fiji in the October. As I had terrible morning sickness for the first 4 months of my first pregnancy, I decided I didn’t want to risk having morning sickness on a long flight.

We changed our plan and decide to start trying while on holiday – only a few more months to wait. Luckily, a chance conversation with a friend about our trip and perhaps some joke about shagging in Fiji, I mentioned our baby-making plans and she brought up the Zika virus. After a trip to the doctors (who was no help and simply looked on the World Health Organization website!) and a fair amount of my own online research – much of which was misleading – we realised we would have to wait for 6 months after our trip to start trying to get pregnant.

There’s conflicting advice about Zika virus and conception. If you are pregnant, the advice is clear – do not go to places with a high or moderate risk of Zika. The risk of what can happen to your unborn child if you contract Zika is unthinkable and just not worth the risk. I was surprised that Princess Meghan went to Fiji (around the same time as us) while she was preggers.

But if you want to have a baby, the advice is a bit murkier: some sites say that if you show no symptoms you should wait 2 months, others say that you can have Zika with no symptoms, if you are a single person its 2 months but a couple is 6 months as there is a small risk that it can be sexually transmitted. Surely, if you’ve both waited 2 months then the disease has gone??? It doesn’t make sense to me, but to be sure we are waiting for 6 months.

The only problem with having that long to think about making a baby, you start to question your choices! Do we want to go back to the sleepless nights? Am I ready to give my body over to another human for 9 months plus? And so on. I tend to prefer spontaneous decisions that you can choose to regret later.

So the countdown is on – we are almost three months in to the six month ‘no unprotected sex’ period. I have to say, I am pretty desperate to get cracking, with very frequent broody periods yet again, but patience is a virtue. Perhaps we should see it as a blessing in disguise. By the time we potentially have the baby, the J will be 4 years old and on her way to school the following summer. She’ll be old enough to help out with her younger brother or sister and should understand what’s going on. Grump says that he clearly remembers his sister being born when he was 3 years, 10 months and that it was very special. While I was under 2 when my brother was born and have no memories of it.

As a final note: I’ve been doing dry January this month and have been offered FREE prosecco twice that I have turned down. It has been a tough time. I didn’t drink any alcohol in my last pregnancy and don’t plan on doing it with the next one. That means I’ve got Feb-April to get my booze on… perhaps my next blog post will be about mum hangovers!

10 things I wish I’d been told before we decided to have a baby

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1. Hormones make you crazy

Think you are stroppy when you’ve got PMT? Think again. Pregnancy and being a new Mum is a challenging time, made ten times worse by those raging hormones that make you more than a little tearful, emotional and slightly crazy. I never thought I’d lose control of my body and actions in such an all-consuming way.

2. Mum guilt

When you become a Mum you also inherit ‘Mum guilt’. This basically means that whatever you do (right or wrong) you feel guilty. From breastfeeding (or lack of it) and how many times you change their nappy to leaving them with anyone else and being angry with them for stealing all your sleep. I feel guilty when the J bangs her head, when she cries, when I get cross that she won’t stop crying, when I feed her Ella’s Kitchen pouches instead of home-cooked food, and when I wish she would go away for a bit so I can have a lie in (I don’t really wish she would go away, but I am bloody knackered).

3. Lack of free time

If anyone is reading this who doesn’t have kids, make the most of your free time. I had no idea how precious this was until I had a baby. Coming home from work and sitting down in front of the TV with a glass of wine. Being able to straighten your hair in the morning. Having a bath or shower that is longer than 5 rushed minutes. The J has just started crawling and I’m waiting for that dreaded day when she follows me into the toilet – so that’s what Jumperoos were made for.

4. An immense love that changes you

I thought I knew what love was before I had the J, but a mother’s love is a whole different ball game (sorry Grump I do love you too, but it’s different). It’s this unconditional love that makes you fiercely protective. I would seriously hurt anyone who harms my baby and I’ve never felt like that before. It’s a feeling of awe about this amazing little person that YOU made. It makes all those sleepless nights and stressful days worthwhile.

5. The inordinate amount of time spent talking about the contents of your child’s nappy

I’ve always had a crude sense of humour, as had Grump. He once took a photo of his poo (it was so long it came out of the water), saved it on his phone and showed it to everyone we know. So I’m not shy about talking about disgusting things, but it amazes me how much time us mum’s spend talking about our babies’ poo. The colour, size, consistency, frequency and smell are all discussed in minute detail. Oh and you think it’s bad when you have to deal with newborn poos and then you start weaning and things get even worse. Be warned!

6. You become an amazing multi-tasker

Thought you were organised before you had kids? I certainly believed I was, but now I can juggle so many more things at once. Even with baby brain. Every time you leave the house you need to remember a ridiculous amount of things: nappies, wipes, change of clothes, muslins, bibs, dummies, toys and so on and so on. Your baby has their own social life and you somehow manage to remember doctors/health visitor appointments, baby classes and meetings with friends, as well as doing the food shopping, clothes washing (which increases three-fold with all the sicky/pooey baby clothes), cleaning and tidying of the house. Oh and cooking meals for yourself and for baby and pureeing them and finger foods and sterilising bottles… the list is endless.

7. Early mornings are the norm

I think the latest I have slept in since having the J is probably 7am. Lie-ins are most definitely a thing of the past. Unless you have amazing parents who are prepared to take your baby overnight (mine haven’t offered yet…), you might as well say goodbye to sleep for the foreseeable future. Also going to bed early doesn’t seem to help. Our usual bed time is now 9.30pm. Anything past 10pm is pushing our luck. I even tried going to bed at 8.30pm the other night and still felt shattered the next morning. Oh sleep how I miss you.

8. You don’t have time to care what people think about you

I never used to leave the house without mascara on. I think I’ve probably gone without it most days since becoming a mum and I hardly ever brush my hair. The other day I was out for lunch with my parents and the J’s nappy leaked onto my white t-shirt. In the past if I’d got poo on my top (whose poo I’m not sure? Just to be clear this has not happened to me before) I’d go straight home and change. However, I simply gave it a quick wipe and continued eating my lunch (obviously after wet wiping/changing the J). I don’t have time to give a crap what people think about me now and it is quite refreshing.

9. You are more affected by world events

I used to get a little bit upset by tragic world events, but I always felt very removed from them. Since I’ve had a baby I find the news really difficult to watch. Anything sad or cruel and I’m welling up. And if it’s anything involving children I go out of my mind. It makes me question what kind of world have I bought my child into.

10. You do everything you possibly can to avoid a hangover

Not that you really have the opportunity to go out on the lash, but there is absolutely no way I could look after a small child with a hangover. I still like the odd glass of wine, but the thought of feeling rough all day and having to wake up at 6am is just too much to bear. I’d rather stay sober and have a pleasant weekend!

Why you shouldn’t book a holiday if you are trying to conceive

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When we decided to start trying for a baby, it was very much a case of let’s stop using condoms and see what happens. I have quite a few friends who have been trying for 1-2 years to make a baby and so figured we would start early (when I say early I mean before we were 100% sure that we were grown-up enough to be parents), because it might take us a long time. We had also booked a summer holiday for the end of July (we always go away at this time of year as Grump is a teacher and it’s our wedding anniversary). It didn’t even cross my mind that I would be pregnant then.

Now, I’m not moaning about being fertile, as I know that many women struggle to conceive and it is a heartbreaking process. It only took us two months to get pregnant, which amazing but was also a bit of a shock. We were over the moon and thought the holiday would be fine as I’d only be a few months pregnant. What naive idiots we were.

I was just over three months pregnant when we went to Cyprus and it was one of the hottest summers they’d had in recent years. So hot, in fact, people were reporting their steering wheels were melting if they left their cars parked out in the sun. It was HOT and sticky and I had horrendous morning sickness. Thankfully I wasn’t actually sick, but I felt nauseous the whole time. It was as if I was extremely hungover all day (the worst feeling in the world, especially when you haven’t even benefited from drinking copious amounts of wine/Malibu/jager bombs the night before). Food tasted horrible, I was tired, irritable and generally felt rough. I didn’t want to go out for dinner or walk anywhere or do anything. Poor Grump. I was a she-Grump.

We still managed to have a nice(ish) time and did lots of relaxing by the pool while reading or going for drives in the air-conditioned hire car (see photo of me in said car with my moody face on at the bottom of this post). I spent a lot of time watching Grump eat and dry retching (photo of Grump below trying to decide what to eat that wouldn’t make me nauseous).

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Looking back over my pregnancy, the best time for a holiday was that magical second trimester when you stop feeling sick, but aren’t so fat that you can’t move/sleep/function. Next time, even if we are thinking about trying to get pregnant I won’t be booking a holiday until I see those little pink lines on the pregnancy test.

The only plus side was that it was the cheapest holiday we’ve ever been on. Turns out if I’m not eating or drinking alcohol, our bank balance (and probably my liver) is much healthier.

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The week of wee

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I thought I was pretty clued up about the symptoms of pregnancy and what to expect in the latter stages. How wrong I was. I felt quite lucky to have a fairly neat bump and so the uncomfortable stage happened quite late for me. I was still doing my 30-minute walk to the train station (albeit more slowly than usual), I had no stretch marks (sorry, don’t hate me) and I felt like I was being rewarded for suffering through all the nausea at the beginning of the pregnancy.

In the final two weeks before I gave birth, I was feeling tired and fat, but generally OK. Then it happened. I sneezed and something wet came out of my foof. We had been told by the midwife and in NCT classes that the smell of your waters breaking is very different from urine and smells more like hay (really?!?). Whatever came out of me smelt weird, but then what did my normal wee smell like? I couldn’t remember. When have I ever smelt my own wee? Grump and I spent an inordinate amount of time smelling my pants (sorry to my Mum and Mother-in-law who are probably going to read this).

As it wasn’t a huge amount of liquid, I thought I’d wait and see if any more came out. Peanut’s head (I’m going to refer to the J as Peanut for this post, as that was her first nickname) was very low at this point and I thought she may have been putting pressure on my bladder, so it made sense that a bit of wee might come out. Plus, I was going to the toilet a lot.

As the days went on the liquid increased in volume and I spent even more time smelling my sanitary pads, which went from normal to heavy to night-time and finally to Tena Lady throw-away pants. It was time to call the midwife. After being examined (you really want as few of these as you can possibly have ever in your life) it was deduced that my waters were intact and I must be wetting myself.

For the next week, I peed myself when I laughed, when I sneezed, when I rolled over, when I stood up; pretty much all the time and with no control. It’s funny to look back at it now, but at the time I was miserable as hell. A week of wee-induced stress later and lots of mickey-taking/sympathy in equal measures from Grump (mostly mickey-taking and then sympathy when I cried), I had a scheduled appointment with my usual midwife Dawn. When I told her my tale of woe she was concerned. She checked my notes from the hospital, which said that it was unclear whether or not my waters had broken. Er, they didn’t tell me this. What the fuck! For those of you not in the know, once your waters have broken you have 24 hours for your contractions to start otherwise you are induced, as there is a risk of infection (up there…). If my waters had gone, I’d been walking around for over a week. It turns out the midwife at the hospital wasn’t 100% sure whether or not my waters had broken, so had sent me home anyway. Thanks love!

Cue another trip to the hospital and more examinations (seriously, why anyone would want to be fisted during sex I will never know). No, she said, my waters were definitely still intact. I was relieved and confused; no infections for me, but had I really gone from full bladder control to incontinence in such a short time? Well, whatever that midwife did when she put her hand up my parts she broke something because two minutes later my waters did go. All over the hospital bed. Thank god I hadn’t put my knickers back on yet.

Great you might be thinking. I’m going into labour, five days early. No getting fed up and being overdue for me. But no, there was a trace of blood in my waters and no contractions, so they wouldn’t let me go home and I had to stay in hospital overnight before my contractions even began. I had a terrible night’s sleep to prepare me for labour. What a rubbish beginning. I was hoping my waters would break in M&S, because I’d heard you get a £50 voucher if it happens in store. Or I’d have some cool story to tell about how they broke in Sainsbury’s and I had to be wheeled out in a shopping trolley.

Oh well, at least I’d stopped weeing myself and I have a new-found respect for anyone who is incontinent. It’s pants – literally.

10 things you should probably pack in your hospital bag

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I recently had a conversation with my sister-in-law, whose baby is due in November, about what to pack in her hospital bag. It got me thinking about what I packed and wish I had packed. It’s really hard to know exactly how many baby grows to include when you could be in hospital for one night or ten. In my case, I think I packed enough outfits for the baby to be in hospital for a month!

There are loads of lists online that will tell you the essentials you need for yourself and baby, but I’ve come up with a few things that I found useful and a few I hadn’t thought of at the time but would definitely recommend.

Obviously each person’s needs differ and perhaps a Cadbury’s cream egg won’t be top of your list, but I really enjoyed eating one after childbirth once the shock had worn off and hunger kicked in (I’m always hungry).

1. Maternity pads

People told me I needed loads of these and I thought they were exaggerating – they were not! You need the really thick ones and lots of them. Those purple packs of Always night-time pads just aren’t going to cut it. Add to this some old pants that you don’t mind throwing away. As I was virtually incontinent for the last week of my pregnancy, I had bought loads of Tena lady throw-away pants (they are a bit like pull-up nappies but for adults). These were actually an amazing find, because I wasn’t worried about leakages and then you could rip them off at the sides and chuck the whole thing away.

2. Sports drinks

If you end up using gas-and-air during labour your mouth gets really dry. I bought a couple of bottles of still Lucozade in fruity flavours (I can’t remember the exact ones but they tasted nice. Oh and don’t get fizzy ones!). The style of drinks bottle was really easy to sip from, as you didn’t have to keep unscrewing the top and the fruity flavour was refreshing, plus it gave me a sugar boost when I needed it.

3. Post-birth snacks

I’ve never been happier than when Grump came back from the hospital café with a Cadbury’s crème egg. You might not think you will fancy anything like that, but pack a couple of treats for after the birth – you’ll need all the little perk-me-ups you can get. I also managed to get in a KitKat Chunky while floating in the birthing pool (that was probably the best part of my labour).

4. Eye mask

I found sleeping in hospital really difficult and wearing an eye mask made it that bit easier. I would also recommend ear plugs, but you probably need to be able to hear your baby crying when he/she is hungry! I spent my first night in hospital in triage waiting for my contractions to start and my second night in the delivery suite as there were no rooms in post-natal. In the room next to me was a screamer. I heard her entire labour in crystal-clear surround sound. Enough said.

5. F is for Formula

Even though I intended to breastfeed, I took in a pack of little bottles of made-up formula. They came in a sterilised bottle with a separate sterilised teat, so all you had to do was put the teat on the bottle and it was ready to go. I think the hospital will give you one if you ask, but I didn’t want to be judged for offering formula instead of breast. I gave the J a bottle on the first night of her life, as she was struggling to latch on and was crying for milk. I then went on to successfully breastfeed her for the next 4 months. Using a little bit of formula is not a crime. Why do health professionals make us feel like it is??? (That’s a whole other discussion/blog post).

6. Nipple shields

If you are struggling to get your baby to latch on, these are a god send. They are also great if, like me, your nipple splits open (yes it was gross) and is so sore that you wince and cry during every feed. I didn’t pack these in my hospital bag, as I had never heard of them until a month or so into breastfeeding when one of my NCT friends was using them. I don’t know why they aren’t recommended by professionals, but I can only assume that the best practice is to be able to feed without any help. It is a mild inconvenience to make sure they are sterile and to keep sticking them on before a feed (this sometimes leads to flashing family members, friends and strangers in coffee shops), but I take the view that if they are making your life easier and your baby is feeding happily then what’s the harm.

7. Home comforts

Slightly obvious, but pack your favourite toiletries; face wipes, hand cream and lip balm were lifesavers for me. Basically take anything that will make you feel a bit more human. Also, hospital pillows are not the best and you want to be comfortable and to get the best quality sleep you can. Having your own pillow makes life that little bit better. Oh and make sure you put it in a brightly coloured pillow case so that it doesn’t get mixed up with the other white hospital pillows.

8. Slippers and a dressing gown

You’ll definitely need something for walking around the hospital in. Just think of all the germs! I packed a pair of those white slippers that you get free in hotels. Don’t go for anything too hot, as hospitals are really warm, so leave your UGG booties at home. You might want a light robe (I just took a cardigan), but don’t bother with a big fluffy dressing gown or you’ll be sweating one out in no time.

9. Stuff for your birthing partner

Whether it’s your husband, boyfriend, friend or mother, make sure they have either packed their own bag or you include things for them to do and eat (obviously I had to pack a bag for Grump). He had lots of snacks, magazines, a Dad-to-be parenting book (he only read the first two chapters) and a phone charger. Don’t forget a change of clothes and toiletries if they are planning on staying the night. We also took a fold-up camp bed and sleeping bag for Grump and he slept on that the first night I was in hospital. His other option would’ve been an uncomfortable-looking chair, so it was worth lugging it along with us.

10. A little plastic jug

Sounds odd, but you will need this little friend after the birth. No one warns you that the first time you do a wee after giving birth, it stings like hell. The only way to make it more bearable is to pour water over your bits while you are peeing. I did not have a jug and tried this with a plastic cup and a water bottle – neither were very effective. You have been warned! (Obviously don’t bring a massive gravy jug or the midwife might think you want to take the placenta home or something).