Ok so the tests I use have pink lines, but when I thought of lines I thought blue…maybe expensive tests have blue lines and you will think I am classy rather than buying Poundland pregnancy tests….anyway, here it is:
I wasn’t planning on becoming pregnant, and when I did it became less of a celebration and more of a waiting game, counting down the days until the next milestone.
Days and days of repeated pregnancy tests until I could get a GP appointment, then more days waiting for a scan. The scan was shocking, I was sure it couldn’t be true.
After that came the announcement and then the fear…now I’ve told people what happens if “something” happens?
A colleague (actually there were 6 pregnant colleagues at the time) was pregnant following a lot of time and treatment, and 2 friends of mine (both of whom have since had babies) had struggled for years and almost given up hope of pregnancy, so I really understand how lucky we were to become pregnant so easily. However, it didn’t feel amazing, I just felt scared and guilty.
How was it that having never even had a pregnancy scare I fell pregnant so easily?
What did this mean?
Would something happen to the baby?
Did I really deserve this?
When people asked me if I was looking forward to the baby it was difficult, I hadn’t really wanted one so it was hard to get excited about it. Yes we had agreed we would have a baby at some point, but the timing wasn’t great, having just moved into a derelict house we didn’t get planning permission until January 2013 (I was due in April) so we were living in difficult conditions and then had a race on to get somewhere suitable for a baby in time. Financially it was always going to be difficult, but coming at a time when expenses were so significant was a bit of a nightmare. I remember a midwife coming round to take an urgent blood test and having to let her into our room which was piled high with boxes and had a curtain over the door to try and keep the dust down, I was convinced she would report me to social services!
I spent so much time stressing over the house and finances that having a baby to stress about wasn’t ideal. I remember dozens of sleepless nights worrying about high blood pressure and the birth before I got myself signed up to pregnancy yoga and antenatal classes.
I was convinced that because we had it so easy something was bound to go wrong.
After each midwife appointment I would wait anxiously for the next one, even when they became fortnightly I would start counting down to the next appointment on my walk home. I didn’t feel my baby move until very late. He was clearly nocturnal as he could go all day with not even a flutter until about 1am when he would have a jiggle for half an hour or so then go back to silence. It was only when I was quite far along that I could rely on any sort of movement, even the tricks of cold water recommended by the midwives didn’t frighten him into movement! Generally my pregnancy was really easy, which should have made me relax and feel better…but it didn’t. It was just another nail in the box convincing me that something was bound to go wrong.
With hindsight and having spoken to other mums and read other blogs, I wonder if pregnancy guilt is in fact something that just comes to us all, however we become pregnant, for whatever reason and in whatever circumstance. I have a friend who was trying for a baby for a few months and when she did fall pregnant she didn’t realise and had attended a party and drunk alcohol. It was easy for me, an outsider, to reassure her that she shouldn’t feel guilty, having lived a healthy and active lifestyle for six months while trying to fall pregnant then having 2 G&Ts when you think you’re not is NOT a reason to feel guilty. Now, however, I can appreciate why she felt so bad about it.
Perhaps it’s the pregnancy hormones, or a sudden realisation of the wonder of the human body, or a massive reality check, or simply a practice run for the guilt that is to follow as a parent! But I do think something sets off the guilt mechanism for a lot of women during pregnancy, at a time when one less stress really should be the order of the day.
- Awkward pole dancing – you know when you put your hand on the pole but you’re a bit unsteady and move it and end up on someone else’s hand, or you take your hand off to turn a page and put it back but now there’s someone else’s hand there…or when the tube stops and you all have to move to let people off the tube but no one will let go of the pole so you all do a shuffle…there you go “awkward pole dance”.
- Loud talking – no. There are no phones on the tube, it’s lovely, now stop talking loudly to each other. I don’t want to hear your conversation, I want to sing in my head without disturbance, it’s the only chance I get to do it.
- Backpacks / Rucksacks – if you need to carry so much stuff around (I get it – I’ve done it) then for goodness sake watch where you’re putting your flipping bag! I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been boffed in the face. I know I am rucksack height but that doesn’t mean I’m invisible!
- Small wheely bags – as a regular wheely bag user I like to think I am observant and aware of my surroundings, such that I don’t leave my bag in stupid places or wheel it so far behind me that it leave a trail of tripped up commuters scattered in my wake…sadly I appear to be the only wheely bag user with this attitude.
- Eating – stop it. Don’t you have homes to go to? Why is it always a McDonalds…
- Spitting – yes really, it happens. The perpetrators seem to think that following this disgusting action by trying to grind the spit into the floor of the tube carriage makes it ok…it does not.
- Oystercards – for non-Londoners these are the electronic “touch in” tickets currently used on the underground. Aside from the numerous overchargings I have had to endure, the £8 telephone bill when I tried to change my travelcard, the incorrect advice about trying to extend my travelcard after moving to a different zone, my current bugbear with the Oyster system is that I have to take proof of my address if I want to return my card and get my deposit back. This might not seem like a big deal, but having
my Oystercardmisplaced by the boya short time ago I purchased a new card and topped it up with credit. Upon returning home I promptly found my original Oyster and returned to the station to refund my money. Naturally I just popped along with my Oystercard, receipt and credit card I bought it from…it wasn’t enough, I need to prove my address…even though the card is not in any way linked to my address… This really isn’t a big deal for me, I live in London, but I do wonder about what message we are sending to tourists who will be smart enough to know that the only way to travel in London without taking out a mortgage is by Oyster, but they won’t automatically have proof of their address, after all Passports don’t contain this. I feel it’s just a way of boosting funds for TFL when travel is already a rip off.
- Escalators – I think this applies to outside the underground system, but really why do people stand at the top and/or bottom of the escalator blocking the whole thing? Don’t get me started on people who disobey the signs and stand on the left…In all seriousness though my real issue is the lack of accessibility on the whole system. I have only once taken my son on the tube because I can’t carry him down the two flights of stairs to even get into our local station. Even if someone helps me down I am stuck with an escalator (which I hate with a buggy) to get down. The majority of stations I want to go to have steps on the way out so my only real option is to go to Green Park…that’s fine, but I don’t really want to go there… I really noticed it when I was pregnant, I have to travel a lot for work and this involves carting big cases of papers around, trying to lug these up and down stairs at the best of times is difficult but frequently reduced me to tears for several months.
- Seat etiquette – I’ve fallen foul of sitting in the priority seats and neglecting to offer my seat to a pregnant lady, elderly person or just someone who genuinely needed it more than me. It happens, we all have daydreaming days and when I realise I always jump up, even if I’m down the middle of the carriage. I’m definitely more alert now than I used to be, and even when I was pregnant I’ve played musical chairs with other preggies as at different stages we have been the only ones to get up and offer a seat to another. Having been in need of a seat myself and not been offered, or worse being offered a seat but by the time I waddle over to it another commuter has swooped in and taken it (much to the horror of me, the offerer and several surrounding passengers) I think my senses may be a bit heightened to this. I have always been firmly of the belief that if you need a seat you can ask for it, that’s what the priority seats are and you need to take some initiative rather than expecting someone to stand up. However, whilst pregnant I twice asked for a seat on the tube and was refused, I am generally happy to stand, even when pregnant, but I asked because I really needed to sit. I was so upset by this that I stopped asking, it wasn’t worth the stress. A friend who was pregnant at the same time fainted 4 journeys to work in a row before her fellow regular travellers started taking her corner and helping her get a seat in the mornings. Anyway the point of this rant arose when I saw a commuter sat in the priority seat working on her laptop in the morning. This happens a lot, but the rule is: if you get a priority seat it isn’t really yours – you need to be prepared to offer it at every station. Working on your way to work (whilst completely unnecessary – get up earlier and do it) whilst sat in these seats indicates you are not willing to offer it to another in need. It’s not acceptable and you have breached the terms of the seat.
- Papers – there are 2 free papers on my journey to work; the Metro in a morning and the Evening Standard on the way home. Whilst I don’t object to either of these per se (and the certainly have improved on the days of two free evening papers competing…although I was fond of the London Lite) and I regularly seek out the latest news stories
pet of the dayfor my journey to work. What I don’t like are:
- the yucky black muck which gets all over my hands…and without fail I then wipe it on my face;
- what’s worse is that other people have the stuff on their hands too and they wipe it over the poles and handrails #germs;
- the crowds of bystanders outside the station picking up their freebies;
- I used to complain about the sheer number of people stood outside the station handing out the free papers…the papers are gone but the people are still there…now they’re handing out magazines and leaflets…grr get out of my way!!!
- why do I need a paper handing to me – I can pick it up myself…
- why (and this in fairness applies to books and Kindles too) oh why do people find the need to shove their papers in my face? or worse – rest them on my head?! I manage to read without doing this…admittedly I’m only 5ft so would struggle to lean on someone’s head…but it’s just rude…RUDE!
When I was pregnant I started shopping for a baby monitor.
This should have been simple, I applied my same system that I used for every baby related purchase:
- Make a new page on my spreadsheet, entitled “baby monitors”
- List every baby monitor that has ever existed and been sold in
- Panic about how many there are
- Read reviews of every single item on my list, making notes of particularly salient points on said spreadsheet
- Delete every monitor with a bad review
- Reinstate monitors with bad reviews which don’t appear to be justified
- Attempt to look up safety records
- Re-read reviews
- Go to shop and attempt to view each monitor
- Speak to 10 people and ask for their views
- Post in a forum about baby monitors asking for views on your top 10
- Check Kiddiecare website regularly to see which baby monitor is selling quickest
- Order remaining baby monitors in order of price
- Finalise decision
- Purchase baby monitor and learn to use it
Unfortunately on this occasion I didn’t get to the end of my 15 step programme before my baby arrived (…and he was 12 days late…)
During my NCT course our teacher had advised that baby monitors were largely unnecessary if you lived in a flat as you would be able to hear the baby. Naturally we, the group, disagreed. My own preference was for a monitor which had a pad under the mattress to monitor breathing, but others were adamant that they had to have video monitors. We all had valid reasons, mine being how could I be assured that the baby was breathing if I didn’t have this? I had never held a baby at this point, I assumed that this was an essential and therefore made me a good parent (surely with a video monitor I would have to watch constantly to check baby was still breathing…very time consuming and difficult when I will of course be doing many other vital and important things…)
Naturally I didn’t have the monitor by the time the baby was born (it was a lot of money and despite all my research the Turk was not convinced we needed to spend quite so much…
In fairness the NCT teacher did have a point, at the time we were living in 2 rooms right next to each other, even when not in the bedroom I could hear Jem breathing (he was, and still is, rather wheezy when he sleeps.)
However, we would one day be using more of our 5 bedroom house (you see I still had faith) so I persisted in my plan to buy a baby monitor. My priorities had changed by this point…having passed the 4 month point I was a lot more relaxed about breathing (the baby rarely slept more than 2 hours at a time…I got over it and cared more about sleeping) and I was anxious to move into our real bedroom, and more importantly shift the baby into his.
I redid the process.
Only with a baby it went more like this:
- Google “baby monitor with lullabies”
- Pick the top one
- Attend shop to buy it
- Discover that Tomy actually make a variety of these…
- Return home and read reviews on all Tomy baby monitors
- Debate between 2 for 2 weeks until the Turk says “just buy one and stop asking me what I think, I don’t care I can’t tell the difference between them”
- Order said baby monitor online
- Stress about whether it is the right one until it arrives…
First night of using baby monitor I put Jem into his moses basket awake (the Holy Grail of baby sleep), put the lullabies on, and he fell asleep…
…Love my baby monitor….
…Never worked again.
In short, what I have learned is this:
- It is possible to overthink baby related purchases
- Of course you want the best for your baby (I’ll tell you about the saga of the car seat another time) and what you buy should be right for you
- What is right for you isn’t necessarily right for someone else
- You will always worry, no matter what you buy
- Just because the first time you play your baby electronic lullabies results in instant sleepage does not mean this will be repeated…ever…again
What the NCT teacher did point out to me was that if I was so bothered about checking baby’s breathing I should probably go on a First Aid course to check that I would know what to do should breathing stop…I did a first aid course and would thoroughly recommend to all.
So I’ve noticed some things since I was pregnant, whilst they’re nothing fatal I’m slightly concerned that they might be with me as a lasting reminder of my pregnancy for life.
Now I’m not talking stretch marks (on my boobs…WTF…ok they’ve gone now but still I was shocked)…or the everlasting damage I did to the ligaments in my knees (and hips but don’t ever tell my yoga teacher, she taught me to get up properly so it’s my own fault).
I’m talking taste…
Before I was pregnant I adored cheese,
wine and pate, and taramasalata.
During pregnancy I avoided cheese and pate (and wine of course) but guzzled taramasalata (which is allowed and apparently high in vitamin D, I ate it at my desk…with boiled eggs…that’s possibly a bit antisocial with hindsight…) I looked forward to getting the baby out purely for the opportunity to gorge myself on Brie, Gorgonzola and Stilton. Having a baby was a bit of a shock so I didn’t actually get round to buying any of the delights I had been dreaming of, but never fear at Christmas my parents had stocked up (we’re not a family that is ever ‘over-cheesed’). I was looking forward to my boozy Christmas too, but I had a shock, I didn’t want it. The thought of blocks of cheese made me feel quite unwell, bleugh it’s basically solidified fat, no?! The same for pate…
…ok so the wine hasn’t been quite such a horror to return to, but I am even more of a lightweight than I was before, and I am not that bothered about getting totally legless any more (note to self: that’s a good thing).
As for taramasalata (I hear you asking…) well whilst I ate my body weight of this during pregnancy, I can’t stomach the sight of it any more.
…I think I may be broken…perhaps if I have another baby my original tastes will come back…?
Whilst pregnant I became slightly obsessed with research about pregnancy (for those who know me you will appreciate that this was to be expected), books, DVDs, internet, daily emails, apps…and it was my discovery of forums. I always thought that forums were a bit sad, I mean really, who sits around all day waiting for other people to type to you…anyway.
I started following my birth club on Babycentre, and whilst bits were useful once people started having all their babies I felt a little left out (I was due on 21 April but didn’t end up having my baby until 3 May…that’s a whole different month so birth club didn’t work for me so much…)
After I had my baby is when my serious forum addiction started. I was obsessed, I was a member of several different forums, I consulted them on EVERYTHING, every little panic or niggle. I got loads of breastfeeding support from them (I needed it, bf didn’t get any easier for us until after 4 months), and just knowing that someone else was in the same position (well a similar position) was incredibly useful. I had email notifications every time something new was posted, you name it, traumatic birth, bf, rhesus negative mums…I was into them all. As time passed I became slightly less obsessed, and stopped checking the forums, I think it tied in with becoming slightly more relaxed about having to look after a baby in general, and when I realised that they are in fact all so different that it’s hard to apply someone else’s situation to your own baby. In fact when for some unknown reason my update emails stopped coming through I didn’t even notice. In fairness I was always more of a lurker than a poster, I found some of the interactions a bit uncomfortable and needy (apart from my own of course…) Even now I look back and think, how did I manage to spend so many hours on the internet looking at forum posts. Of course the answer is easy, I had a tiny baby who fed for 45 minutes every 2 hours and in between slept in 30 minute bursts but only if he was sleeping on me. I was rooted to the sofa, I couldn’t move, and quite frankly (apart from watching Gems TV #guiltypleasure…) I had nothing else to do. I really had little other support, my parents live quite far and have a “different parenting approach”, and the Turk is a ‘hands off’ parent/husband (this will be interesting when he becomes a stay at home dad in June…) who was trying to renovate our house so I barely saw him (heard him a lot…regularly he would shout up the stairs and ask why the baby was still crying…I didn’t know why…I was still crying too but I don’t think that bothered him as much…) so my forums became a surrogate family along with my fabulous NCT group (with thanks to Whatsapp).
From the time I lost interest in the forums at around 4/5 months I haven’t really had much online interaction (apart from Facebook obviously!) but as my friends return to work I find myself more and more alone and have issues such as returning to work on my mind.
Forums didn’t really do it this time, what I needed now was less reassurance and more of an opportunity to talk (hence blogging) so I gave twitter another go. I’ve had a couple of twitter accounts over the years, the first my own and I used it in the run up to our wedding, my mum didn’t use Facebook so it was a nice way of communicating for us as a family. Then I had an account for entering competitions (this didn’t last long!) but I thought I’d give it another go.
I’ve since discovered the joy of interacting in 160 characters. When using it previously I thought it was a bit pointless, what can you say in such a short space? I hadn’t realised you could get such an impression of someone through their tweets. Admittedly it’s led me towards a number of cathartic blogs too, but I have loved the immediate interaction of Twitter and am amazed and overwhelmed at the proliferation of parent-tweeters and #pbloggers (yes I know what it means thanks to helpful twitterers!!!) I’ve heard a lot about the unpleasantness that can be found in social networks, which I can imagine is terrible for those affected, but I have been truly heartened by the loveliness and support that can be found in Twitterees.
In short, for me Twitter wins hands down…until the next pregnancy perhaps…!?
I’ve never particularly wanted children, but I knew if I did I would want a girl. When I was small I played with dolls, I had a beautiful rocking crib which I kept next to my bed and every night I put my
female doll to bed (note – she went straight to sleep). My aunt has a son and a daughter, the girl was easy but the boy was not. I have always been told that I was a delightful and easy child…probably because I’m a girl.
The Turk has 2 brothers and 1 sister. His two brothers first born children were boys. There is a proliferation of males in his family.
When I fell pregnant, I knew it would be a boy.
Of course I was always optimistic, you can never be sure, and I maintained the message “it doesn’t matter as long as it’s healthy”. The more pregnant I became the more I believed this….each time I had a small panic I realised a bit more that it actually doesn’t matter. My baby wasn’t a very active baby when I was pregnant, I frequently went a whole day with no movement, and would struggle to get to sleep without worrying only to be woken up at 2am by bouncing…
I wanted a girl.
Actually, I wanted 3 girls.
I was so concerned that I didn’t find out the sex at my 20 week scan. The Turk and his family all found this a bit odd, they wanted to know and apparently in Turkey it’s pretty routine to find out. I was worried that if I had it confirmed to me that I was having a boy, I would be disappointed. No one wants to be disappointed about the prospect of having a baby. I felt that if I waited until I met the baby I wouldn’t care whether it was a boy or a girl because I would be so
relieved it was out delighted to meet them.
Of course, I read everything there was to read about being pregnant, so I knew all the ‘signs’ of having a boy. I had no morning sickness and a large prominent bump but with little weight anywhere else (actually this isn’t true, it’s just that the bump was so mahoosive that it distracted from the weight gain! Check out the pic if you don’t believe me!)
Clearly, everyone said, I was having a boy.
…I bought everything in blue (except 1 pink hoodie, you never know!)
My birth didn’t really go to plan, of all the things on my wish list I had to settle for just the most important one (excellent yoga teacher told me that our birth plan should be based on worst case scenario, whilst I was ‘planning’ a water birth in a birth centre, I should do my birth plan on the basis that I have an emergency c-section, this will ensure I focus on my priorities). Epidural, forceps, detaching placenta, the only thing they could do from my birth plan was the thing written in big bold writing at the top:
“I want to look and see the sex of the baby myself, I don’t want anyone to tell me”
I reiterated this
several times during the final stages of labour.
The Consultant, Obstetrician and 2 Trainee Midwives looked on whilst the amazing Midwife handed me a ball of slime and I looked…
“…he’s got brown eyes” I said.
Fortunately they gave me a second chance to look down there before they whisked him away and started my own repair job. But I didn’t really care any more.