Friday 31 August 2012

Paralympics 2012

One big positive about our move to the countryside being delayed until after Baby Beans is here is that we have been in London town throughout the Olympics, and are now still in the capital while the Paralympics is on. I'll readily admit I was a huge sceptic about my beloved capital's ability to host such an event and I too easily believed the harbingers of doom, who warned our transport system would collapse and the whole experience would be a shambles.

On the contrary it has been a fantastic time to be a Londoner. As has been well reported, the atmosphere in the City has been extraordinary and there has been a real sense of belonging, kinship and goodwill around that I have particularly enjoyed. And yesterday the Boy and I got to sample a little bit of this for ourselves with tickets to explore the Olympic Park.

We had a brilliant time wandering - well, waddling! - around and soaking up the sights. The Park is huge which you don't get a feel for on the television, and some of the stadiums are really breathtaking in their design and size. It was great pootling about and we sat down by the river and watched quite a lot of the swimming on the big screen - with the rare treat of a big coffee for me, and a cider and some pork scratchings for the Boy (he is a one for simple pleasures!).

It was inspiring watching people who have battled pain and difficulty excel in their fields. I couldn't believe the ability we saw in the swimming pool, with one of the female British athletes smashing a world record just 15 months after having a baby. Suffice to say I don't think I'll be repeating that feat! But it did make me think a little about what the mind and body can achieve with a bit of focus and dedication.

So yesterday was the starter - on Monday evening we have the main course of an evening of athletics to look forward to, followed by a dessert in the aquatics centre on Thursday night watching the swimmers in person. Well - unless Baby Beans chooses either of those nights to make its entry into the world! We'll see...

Fully grown

So we've now passed the 37 weeks marker which means Baby Beans is fully developed and can make an appearance at any time. I don't think Bub is in any hurry to say hello to the world - I certainly don't get a sense that labour is imminent like I know some women do - but it's an exciting time as every morning I wake up and wonder to myself if this will be the day. If the baby is anything like as stubborn as it's Mum though, I suspect I'll be waiting the full 42 weeks!

We've got everything in the flat ready for our new arrival and I find myself pottering about the flat and picking up little sleepsuits, imagining baby in my arms at last. I think we're as ready as we ever will be - I know the Boy will be the most amazing Dad and neither of us can wait for this next chapter to begin. I'll try and keep you posted as it does!

Tuesday 28 August 2012

Lady of leisure

So somehow I've now been off a fortnight - and I've used up my remaining annual leave so today is the first day of my maternity leave. I'm just touching 37 weeks now (gulp) so Baby Beans is fully formed and could - theoretically - arrive any time now. Although I'm not getting any indications bub will be early, so I think we've a good few weeks before our crash course in parenthood begins - but we will see.

It amazes me how much more quickly the time has passed while I've been at home, and I couldn't really tell you exactly what I've been up to over the last few weeks! Everyone told me* I would be completely bored by now and would go stir crazy not having a routine. Well, our survey says 'uh-uh' - I am having the time of my life. Amongst the highlights, it's so nice to...

  • stay in bed a bit longer after the Boy has headed into work and stretch out like a starfish, my toes pointing out to each bottom corner of the duvet, releasing the tension in my muscles;
  • eat breakfast slowly in bed every day rather than gulp down my cereal on the kitchen sideboard while simultaneously putting my make-up on and packing my work bag;
  • peruse the paper with enough time to read every word of the stories that interest me - and with no pressure to look at the stories that don't;
  • watch the news as a layman - and not be thinking about whether I'll have to respond to the story on behalf of work when I get into the office;
  • put on whatever clothes feel comfortable over the bump, and not what is appropriate for work - or to stay in my jammies if that's what feels best;
  • pick up my book and read uninterrupted for an hour, or two - or three. Try it! Or to put on a CD (current favourite is a beautiful Debussy one) and listen to it from start to finish. Without. Doing. Anything. Else. At. The. Same. Time. Bliss...
  • potter about the flat and do the daily jobs that need doing when I feel like it and spend as long as I want doing them - no longer fitting them quickly around the hundreds of other work and home-related chores I've carried in my head for the last x amount of years, never being able to do anything properly;
  • spend time doing my make-up and hair properly, experimenting with different colours and hairstyles - I straightened my hair for the first time in months last week! Having the luxury of taking an hour to get ready to meet a friend for lunch or coffee (and that being the main event of my day) is blissful.
  • get everything ready for when the Boy comes in, so that after work he comes in and I can get him a drink and we can sit and talk properly about how his day was, how me and Baby Beans are doing and the current affairs issues of the day while we eat a home-cooked meal at the table - sometimes even using the Sunday best crockery! 
And I really could go on and on - and on. So, suffice to say I'm nowhere near bored yet - and I know this period is time limited and that soon enough once again I won't have time for any of these seemingly mundane activities. I think boredom and being bored is a very relative and individual state. I've had so little time in my own company that it is still a huge novelty and every day feels like an indulgence. Perhaps I would get tired of this routine given a little longer to enjoy it - but I'm not convinced, despite what 'everyone' says...

* 'Everyone' likes to tell you a LOT of things when you are pregnant - what the process is like, how everything is going to be, what is going to change and so on. For me, the best approach is to smile sweetly and nod, while in my head yell 'shut up shut up shut up, this is my individual experience, not yours' - so far it's working nicely ;-)

Bump update...

Thursday 16 August 2012

Me time...

...looks a lot like this! Think I could get used to not being in the office after all! Now, where to start...

Wednesday 15 August 2012

A rose by any other name

The annual Office for National Statistic baby names data came out on Monday - no big surprises there but I always enjoy a little peruse...

The names we like the best are pretty popular - all top 50 and some top 20 - but when you look at the figures in terms of actual numbers of babies, it is only about 0.1 per cent of babies that have the names we like so I don't think we'll stray from our favourites just yet!

Maternity leave!

And so it begins... for the first time in 12 (long!) years, I am not in work. I am 35 weeks pregnant and a right old fatty (see above!) so it's time to take a few weeks annual leave with my feet up, and then for maternity leave to start.

It all feels a little surreal. I've spent more than a decade as an independent, committed, hard-working career girl - perhaps not quite Carrie Bradshaw, but I do think there have been a few similarities to Sex and the City along the way!

It's been a real journey for me, from an insecure, paranoid, shy and awkward youth, to a happy, confident, competent and professional force. There have been more than a few tears along the way and I will admit that at times things were so bad I did wonder if I had the resilience to keep going - but when I look back now I am so proud of myself. I did it. I grew, matured, achieved and conquered. I proved I was stronger than I ever knew, and in the end I had more than enough stamina for the road. And what I accomplished will never change.

But - as they say in Monty Python - "Now for something completely different". I finished work on Friday and now 13 months lies ahead me - a different page, waiting to be filled in a different way, with a different life and different experiences. In a few weeks - God willing - we will go from being two to three. I will be a Mum. The Boy will be a Dad. And we will be a family.

I can't wait. It feels like the world's biggest Christmas Eve. I lie awake at night wondering about what the future holds, and thinking about my Baby with some of the purest joy and excitement I have ever felt - what bub will be like, what it will look like, what it will enjoy doing, what the Boy will be like as a Dad... it's just beyond exciting and almost too much for my brain to take it and digest.

But digest it I do - bring it on! I'm as ready as I'll ever be and I can't wait to board the roller coaster for the ride of our lives.

And until then - well, I intend to take some time for myself, something I rarely do. I am going to sleep in, read (I have a bucket list of books to read before Baby Beans arrives!), meet friends for lunch, potter about in the flat (no, we haven't moved yet - more on that another time!) and cook some nice dinners for the Boy and I. I'm going to enjoy doing my hair, putting on make-up and nice clothes and having a few dates with the Boy and making the most of our last few weeks as a duo.

And those days spent with him as a team of two have been the best of my life - let's hope we grow even stronger as a threesome.

And breathe...

The Boy and I had a bit of a fright a week or so ago and I have only just about recovered.

I've been monitoring Baby Beans's movements very closely lately - I know I am somewhat prone to paranoia anyway, and our previous disappointments have only exacerbated this tendency, and tragically the Boy's friends lost a baby just a few days before she was due last year which plays on my mind a lot - and I had a period of about 18 hours where I felt something was very different with Baby's routine.

To give this a bit of context, this came on the back of a slightly concerning week or so where I had been given extra monitoring to check all was well with Baby Beans, as my midwife had been concerned I was carrying too much amniotic fluid or might have gestational diabetes (as it turns out I have neither) so I suppose I was already carrying a little more anxiety than normal.

I tried not to worry too much or panic, but after a sleepless night we decided to go into hospital to check all was well. On the way there I was fighting back tears - I really don't like to think about how I would manage with losing this baby as well - and once at the hospital I felt very scared indeed.

The staff were, as always with Tommies and I can't praise the hospital highly enough, incredibly supportive and warm and I was quickly connected to a monitor.

There were a few frightening moments where the midwife couldn't locate Baby Beans's heartbeat and all that came up was a big red question mark - not very reassuring and at this point I couldn't keep the tears in, and I gripped the Boy's hand tightly. Fortunately, they found Baby Beans soon enough - and as sure as the law of the sod Baby then proceeded to move, and move, and move... to the point where as soon as the monitor could pick up the little one's trace, Baby moved straight away so it was lost again! That's my kid ;-)

The relief was palpable and for much of the day following that I was on a high. However, my emotions caught up with me by the end of the day and I had a bit of a collapse. It brought it all home how much this Baby means to me and the Boy, and how in love we are already with this life that we have created.

But I also realised that as a Mum there is only so much you can do to protect your child - I won't be able to keep my Baby safe all the time, and protect my little one from hurt and pain. I can endeavour to keep my baby warm and loved, but there will be limits. The only certainty in life is its uncertainty, and after this episode that scared me.

However, since then I'm pleased to report that Baby Beans has been wiggling and scuttling around as much as before, and hopefully the scares are behind us now and in five weeks - or thereabouts, not sure bub has a diary in there! - we will be the family that we long to be at last...