Saturday, June 3, 2017

3 months 24 days - So many changes

First, I am sad that I haven't been keeping track of things here. I can't believe how quickly a baby grows and changes. People say to treasure the moments but before you know it, your sleepy delicate little newborn is much more of a baby and somehow got twice as big before you noticed!

MJ and I are doing great. Maternity leave is awesome. I mean really awesome. I love that my only responsibility is to take care of her. We have three more months of this and then I'll be going back to work when she is just about 7 months. To the Europeans among the readers this will seem early and to the Americans it will seem extravagant. I"m lucky to have both perspectives- so I can feel lucky to have this amazing amount of time with my daughter. But I also have the other perspective and I am not looking forward to handing her over to daycare and getting back to work.

On the upside, I have been offered a place at one of the University nurseries which is great. It's subsidized, so there's that, but it's actually just an awesome nursery with an 'outstanding' Ofsted rating. I went to visit it and I was actually looking forward to MJ being old enough that I could bring her for real. So that's good.

It's really hard for me to understand that I am a mother and what that means. Right now I just sort of exist, happily, day to day. I don't know that I can identify the ways in which I feel any different. Instead, it's been a rather seamless transition from not being a mother, to being one. I suppose these are matters for the future. I don't have to think about it much right now, because I exist in this pleasant limbo of time off of my 'real' life. I suspect things will change when I try to balance work with motherhood, but right now I don't have to worry about it.

Okay. I'll try to delve into topics of specific interest in the future, but just thought I'd update. Out of curiosity, and if any reader has an opinion, this bog was titled 'attempting' single motherhood before I knew it was going to happen. Should I start a new blog about being a mother or is that silly?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

1 month 5 days - Settling in to the whirlwind

** I just noticed I put this post on the wrong blog!! So I've moved it to here. I am going to try and do some occasional posting and get back into it... motherhood really is a crazy whirlwind!!

I don't get much time to type on the computer so updates are unfortunately going to be a bit slow. I've been working on my 'birth story' post in chunks. It's going to be a very long post, so I thought in the meantime I'd post an update here.

Motherhood is excellent. MJ is a relatively easy going baby at almost 5 weeks old. She changes so fast though! In the hospital I was already missing being pregnant and incredibly conscious of how precious each day was with her because she is growing so quickly! Newborn babies don't do very much. They're so little and delicate and lovely. And you are swimming with hormones that make it all the more intense.

The hormones have somewhat abated now and MJ is entering into her first 'wonder week' meaning she is more awake, more alert, and more of a growing person. It's also lovely and fascinating, but it's different. And all of it is passing in a strange haze of endless days at home, of breast feeding, diaper changes, sleep, and a bit of television.

My mom has been here for 3 weeks, so there is one more week to go. It's been okay with her here for the most part. Although she's changed all of one diaper....

Ah, see how this works- MJ is crying, and the boob bar needs to open. More later when I get a chance!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

38w6d - Boundaries and respect

As the time gets closer for baby to arrive, and for my mother to arrive, she has become more problematic. Last weekend we got into a huge fight which kicked off because she started angling to again 'be at the birth' because she hopes that when she arrives the baby won't be here yet. When I was in the States in October, we arranged her ticket. I kept suggesting she come on the 28th (2 weeks past due date) but she insisted on coming on the 22nd. Again, this was really because she was trying/hoping to be here before the baby comes which would force the issue of her being here for it even though I've told her more than once that I don't want her there.

At any rate, she started in again last weekend which put me in the awkward position of again having to tell her that I don't want her there at which point she started telling how I 'wasn't very nice'. I don't think I can possibly explain how invasive this came across to me as. As if my body, and my intimate experience with my birth and baby had anything to do with her at all? On top of which, to continue to not respect that we've already had this conversation and to push it with me was infuriating. And so this degenerated into a full on argument with accusations flying and history being dragged up. On the one hand, it completely cemented for me exactly WHY I don't want her here for the birth, but on the other hand, it made me so angry and upset which is not the mental state that I need to be in as I prepare for birth.

I don't like the person that I feel forced to become around my mother. But she doesn't listen to me. She doesn't take any responsibility for her own failings. And if I give her an inch, she takes a mile. So no inch can be given. This was reiterated yesterday when we spoke for the first time since last weekend (which is actually about our normal rate of communication so not odd) and the talk was going completely fine until she brought up that she wants me to call her when I go into labor. I told her I'm not calling anyone when I go into labor. She said she wasn't 'anyone' she was my mother and I reiterated that I'm not calling anyone at which point she again started to say I wasn't very nice and then just said she was going to hang up and I said fine, so we hung up on each other before a fight could kick off again.

The thing is, if she'd asked much earlier - emphasis on ASKED - about how she could be involved or expressed a desire to be involved, then maybe I could have worked something out with her. But a week after her manipulative crap about wanting to be there for the birth is not the time to try to invent an alternative way  to get what she wants. I don't really see the point of telling her when I go into labor, as I won't want to 'be in touch' with her during labor, and she'll need to wait until I'm ready to announce baby anyway. It would give her the window needed to ring the hospital or other people to bother them if I'm not answering the phone. And labor can take an unknown amount of time. It could be 3 days from when I text her to 3 hours. I'm not sure why she wants to know this other than to secure her place 'at my birth' in whatever way possible. I am not at all convinced, that she wants to know because she is concerned about me in any way. It's all about her. And frankly, my birth is in no way about her, and hence, she is not invited.

Such a fucking mess. It's really frustrating. I don't like how we interact. I don't like that she's manipulative and doesn't respect my choices and authority. I worry about the future and how she will be around me and my daughter. I worry about how I will respond to how she behaves because I don't like the person she brings out in me.

I've said this before, and it's worth saying again, that my mother does all of this from a good place in her heart. She does mean well, and she does love me, and loves this unborn baby more than anything in the world. But she doesn't see how she acts. She doesn't acknowledge when she is rude, dismissive, or disrespectful. She doesn't involve me in her decisions (about me), and treats me like an honest to god child, not a 42 year old woman. This leads to an acrimonious relationship that sits just underneath both of us holding it together most of the time. But birth is emotional and personal and raw; and you can't keep up the nice facade this close to it.

I really hope that I have people in place (doulas, boyfriend) to help manage her being here, and that she does surprise me (as people keep suggesting) and is actually helpful and calm and positive. Right now though, I feel incredibly wary of her, and maybe it's my emerging mama bear coming out, but I have even less tolerance and patience than I would normally try to when it comes to dealing with her. Anyway, we'll see. In the meantime, I'm trying to get her out of my mind and go back to focusing on having a positive birth experience. One that doesn't include my mother.

Monday, February 6, 2017

38w5d - Closer and closer

Sorry for being out of touch! The last few weeks at work were insane. Seriously, insane. It's all good stuff, but it meant that I was working non-stop training my maternity replacement, and trying to do as much as possible for the new program that we are acquiring before I left (that I will be running when I get back).

So time passed, and now I'm in the final countdown. A few different things have happened which are probably worth recording here. From arguing with my mother, to everything I'm doing to try to get baby to come on her own before the induction. Then there's getting the house ready and all the 'nesting'. By the way, I despise the word nesting. I don't think being prepared is anything special or significant. Bringing a new baby into your home requires various degrees of preparation which may mean new furniture and finding places for things and moving things around. It isn't 'nesting', it's just being fucking practical. I have heard of women who start to go insane cleaning, although again, you think about this new responsibility and the lack of a good immune system and I think yes, it's better to clean some stuff then be irresponsible. But I honestly don't think it's 'special', I think it's smart!

So I've been preparing for baby girl by getting the nursery ready, washing a ton of clothes and blankets and muslins and anything else she might use. I've tried to clear up the clutter and sort through things that I've had sitting around for some time. I mean, it was easy to have those things sitting around, but with all the new things coming into my house, I had less space, and it forced me to look at some of these piles of things.

But basically I think I'm ready. I've ordered everything that I thought was 'essential' for me. The only thing I haven't set up is the 'Next 2 me' cot because it's going to be a big obstacle in my room which is fine when baby is here, but I don't think I need to live with empty for a week more or so. But the sheets and everything that goes into it are ready, so hopefully setting it up won't take much time at all.

I've packed two of the three bags I'm taking to the hospital. Baby's bag was the first to be packed and has everything I'll need for her in hospital and to come home. In my NCT class, they suggested packing up the nappy/diaper bag as baby's bag to start to get used to it which I thought was sensible, so that's exactly what I've done. I've also packed my 'going home' bag which includes two pairs of comfortable pajamas, two outfits, a bunch of oversized cotton underwear, an entire pack of maternity pads, some disposable underwear, breast pads, nipple cream, toiletries, etc. The only bag I need to still put together is the 'labouring' bag which includes two robes (one very lightweight as a cover, and one thicker/towel weight robe), slippers, portable speaker, essential oil, magic wand (maybe), TENS unit, food & drink, etc. Basically, everything I might want while I labor. Some of it is sitting in a pile, so it's not that it would be so difficult to shove it all in a bag if it was an emergency, but I'm pretty sure I have time.

Since going on leave, I've started to be more conscientious about the things you can do to promote labor. I've been to acupuncture twice and am scheduled to go again Wednesday and Friday this week. I started with some nipple stimulation using my breast pump which I think did make me more crampy (and I managed to express some colostrum) but when I stopped it all stopped. I'll come back to it, but I wanted a break and felt it was perhaps early. I'm trying to walk although baby is definitely engaged and walking can put incredible pressure on my bladder. Today I basically walked while lifting my bump slightly just to get her off it! I've been eating 6 dates a day for weeks now, and that continues. What else? Bouncing on a ball. I'm really not convinced there is loads you can do to bring about labor. I'm scheduled for a membrane sweep next Monday and the following Wednesday as a last resort. Because I'm also scheduled for an induction on the 17th. After all I've gone through to push off the induction and have good support from the hospital staff, I'm now pretty much determined to go through with it for the sole reason that it will be much much better for my mental health if the baby arrives before my mother does on the 22nd. This is, by the way, a terrible reason to push forward with an induction, but I'm trying to balance mental health and physical health and right now mental health is winning. This is why I'm committed to pretty much doing everything possible to hope that labor starts on its own before then.

But I think my next post will be about my struggles with my mother right now. This post is already long.

Oh yeah, in other news, I've been using the elastolabo and Epi-No nightly and it's given me some confidence about the birthing process. When I started with the Epi-No, it was around 7cm. It's now up to 9.5 and while it makes me feel 'full' and isn't necessarily comfortable, it helps me to know that I've pushed something out of my vagina with that diameter. I've looked up that an average baby head is about 11cm, so that's 1.5cm away. At least it makes me feel less frightened of tearing, and has helped me to understand how having something that large lodged in your privates is likely to feel (i.e., how you feel it more in your bottom). So I'm pleased with that investment. Just hoping I actually get the chance to give birth vaginally!

Midwife appointment tomorrow. Not expecting anything unusual.

It's very strange to be off work. Right now it just feels like some sort of long weekend. It's hard to remember that life is going on without me and people are going to work and getting on with things while I putter around. On the one hand it's good because they really do leave you alone once you're on leave. On the other hand, it's just really odd to suddenly just be on the outside!

Okay, enough for now, more soon.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

37w6d - Cycle all the way

This is me on my last day of work. Many people have expressed surprise that I'm still cycling at this late stage of pregnancy. In fact, cycling is FAR more comfortable to me than walking. When I walk, every step pushes on my bladder in a very unpleasant way. When I cycle, I'm sitting! Yes, I get winded more quickly, but I've never been a speedy cyclist. So here I am, on my bike, 37w6d pregnant.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

36w1d - baby belly bump

I'm 36w1d today, which is really nearing the end. On the one hand I feel like I've been pregnant forever, on the other hand, it all feels so quick. I think this is what happens as you get older anyway, but it doesn't change the strangeness.

Lately I've been thinking about, or trying to understand, that there is a real baby inside that belly of mine. I see pushing and movement, but what I see is a big skin balloon. I don't see 'a baby' and yet, at 36w there is a baby, pretty much completely formed and almost certainly capable of survival. But I just see a bump! I never had a 3d/4d scan of the baby so I don't have a particular impression of her physicality. Looking at regular scans is fine, but it's not a three dimensional baby you are looking at. I feel I'm getting more excited (and nervous) about her getting here.

I'm also at work for less than 2 weeks now. Handing over to my cover which has been great to have a 3 week overlap. Strange to think how easily I can be replaced! But actually work stuff is all good for me right now, as I will come back to a slightly different role doing something more in keeping with my background and expertise. So actually, work is really exciting, it's just strange to be leaving for a while. But I'll be very busy with other things!!

Also hard to believe my mother is going to be here in almost a month. This is an ongoing tension as my mother means very well and her heart is in the right place but she questions everything that I want or do. I keep telling her that I don't really feel the need to justify every decision to her and that it's insulting to me. But she keeps doing it. I think she also feels on some level she needs to put me down in order to make herself seem more needed, which is completely unnecessary. So I'm nervous about the help she is going to be giving me- if it's actually going to be helpful or if I'm going to want to kill her. Only time will tell.

I think the other thing about my mom coming is that she acts as if I'm all alone in the world with no one to help me other than her. As if my single parent journey isolates me in some way as opposed to being something I've been thinking about and actively planning for years. I have a good network around me to support me, and I'm also happy to pay people (like my doula) to support me post-natal. Not to mention the boyfriend, other friends, etc. But to my mother, every time I talk to her I have no one and nothing to help me (other than her). Again, it's frustrating, but we'll get through it. And I know I have my village/network so it's really more her issue than mine.

I need to get some more pictures of these final weeks! I really just can't imagine that soon she's going to be here and it's all going to be different. Eep!!!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

35w4d - Bigger and bigger

It's weird how pregnancy is counted in weeks, but most people not involved in pregnancy think in months. So today it is one month until my due date. hard to believe!

I'm pretty much almost ready for baby girl to arrive. The nursery furniture is finally pretty much complete and I've started washing things. There is a lot of stuff to wash!! So many hand me downs. I'm not at all complaining, I think it's great to get so much free stuff, most of it really nice and hardly worn. It's just a lot of laundry and sorting since I have bags of various sizes. The nursery actually looks like a baby room which is kind of exciting. The only thing I have left is for the blackout curtains to arrive and swap over from what's there now. And I'm still on the hunt for a petite rocking chair I can put in there as most gliders are just too big for the space, but I think a rocking chair would be nice to have.

My hospital appointment with the head midwife went well, and I'm approved to go to the birth center if labor starts on its own. I've done a first draft of my birth plan. I've starting eating 6 dates a day. I'm also doing the perineal massage  with Elastolabo and in a little over a week I'll start the Epi-No. I'm not sure why the Elastolabo is no longer readily available, but I have some tubes of it, so I'm using it. All of this preparation and I think it will be just my luck and I end up with a Cesarean or something. It will be what it will be, but I'm trying to do as much preparation as possible.

Meanwhile I now see the midwife every week. Not this Tuesday, but next Tuesday I'm supposed to have my appointment at the hospital in the birthing center. I wasn't able to call this week so I need to get that arranged first thing tomorrow.

Baby girl is getting bigger and so is my belly. She isn't the most energetic baby. She does move around but often it feels very mild and I have to pay attention. Sometime she clearly gets into a position where I feel her much stronger (and can see her moving) but mostly it's subtle feelings. This can stress me out because I keep getting told to pay attention if I don't feel anything, and often I really don't. Overall, pregnancy has sort of suited me. Aside from the small issues I've had, I generally feel comfortable, healthy, and fine. Pregnancy doesn't have to be this big uncomfortable ordeal. I do feel for women who clearly are having issues, but it also obviously doesn't happen to everyone. So overall I feel lucky. I mean, this is probably the only time in my life that I will be pregnant (or at least that's how I feel right now), so I'm glad that I'm sort of getting to enjoy it. I'll definitely miss feeling baby girl moving around in there. It's been truly special.

Next thing to get on top of is packing the hospital bag. My friend was down this weekend and helped me with some of that (and brought me a bunch of stuff we'd bought together when I visited in October). So I'm probably halfway packed. I was thinking of making some chocolate peanut butter oatmeal energy balls for snacking on during labor. And I should think about stocking up the freezer with some ready meals of some kind or another.

Work is so busy right now (although all in positive ways, so that's good)- I can't believe the first 2 weeks of January are already gone. Soon I won't be at work, and soon after baby will be here! I can't even begin to imagine how my life is going to change and what it's going to be like to have her here for real, separate from me. It's still terrifying to some level, but exciting as well. And it's going to be soon now!!

Friday, January 6, 2017

34w2d - Obstetrician meeting

I am pleased to report that my meeting with the consultant obstetrician yesterday went very well. Unlike the first one I saw, this one was very relaxed about my birth. She checked that I knew I was there to discuss induction. I did, and said that I was inclined to not have one at 39w but would be open to one at 40w as long as I had a check first to see if anything was happening on its own. She then suggested that was fine, and that I actually wait a couple more days, especially if I had a 'stretch and sweep'. So an induction has been tentatively scheduled for February 17th. But, she also said that if I don't want one then, I don't have to have one and can just be monitored. So basically, she offered the expectant monitoring without my having to ask for it. It was all a very reasonable and unexciting conversation, so that was great.

I had my last hypnobirthing class last night which was more about after birth and once baby arrives. Which had a lot to do with breast feeding. I am intending to breast feed, so I wasn't in need of any convincing. I did say though, that for some people it just doesn't work, no matter how well intentioned, and that similar to c-sections or other things related to birth, we need to stop demonizing other choices people make. I don't have any reason at this point to think I won't be able to breast feed, and I will try everything possible to get it going. But if something is wrong and I ultimately need to switch to formula? Then that's fine too.

On Monday I have my last hospital appointment for a while, this time with one of the head midwives at the birth center. My last hoop to jump through is to get permission to be allowed into the birth center if labor starts naturally. They are not inclined to allow this initially due to my age (of course) because they want continuous monitoring which can only be done on the ward. Except there doesn't seem to be any benefit to continuous monitoring, and anyway, the birth center is one floor down from the ward, so if needed, I can be moved. Anyway, I'm hoping that the meeting goes smoothly like yesterday's did and then everything is settled.

In the meanwhile I've been working on my birth plan. I'm torn between some of the visual/picture ones I've seen and just writing one out with bullet points. At the moment I'm going bullet points because I don't have the software on my computer here to do the visual one. I'll send a draft copy to my doulas to get their input and point out anything I may have missed.

The first week of January has really flown by. Granted it was a 4-day week. Still, baby girl is going to be here before I know it. I can't believe it.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

34w - Scan

Had a scan this morning due to my advanced maternal age. Apparently they offer it at 34 weeks if it's your first baby and you are and old mama.  It was exciting to see baby girl although she definitely does not fit on the screen anymore. She was presenting 'cephalic' which means 'head down'; so, basically in the right position which is good. We could only see bits and pieces of her. All the measurements were on target and baby girl is measuring above average at about the 80th percentile. Her estimated weight was 5.9lbs (2.689kg), so a healthy sized baby right now! I got to see her heart beating, and a good look at her thigh bone. We also listened to the blood pumping through the umbilical cord. We couldn't get a good look at the face as her hands were in the way, although we got to see an eye poking out. Overall it was a fairly efficient appointment and all was as it should be, so that was good.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with the consultant obstetrician again. I imagine this is where they are going to pressure me to schedule an induction for 39 weeks. I am going to decline the 39w induction but tentatively agree to a 40w induction. I've looked at the research and I'm not convinced that the 39w induction is necessary or helpful. I will try to give my body as much time to go into labor as possible before resorting to an induction. This also means that at 40w, I want to be checked to see if labor is starting on its own in which case I will again reject the induction and give it a couple of days. Should be a (not so) fun talk with the doctor tomorrow. Anyway, we'll see and I'll try to report back. At least one of my doulas is coming with me which will be helpful I think.

Went to NCT prenatal (antenatal) class last night which was good. Boyfriend came with me and managed it well, and I felt positively about the experience in general. There were 7 other couples there- all traditional (man/woman, married). I think what I'm learning is that I'm more curious than other people, or that I shouldn't be so surprised that people don't do as much reading or research as I do.

Last month at work now which is all a bit mental. It seems as if there is so much to do!! And I still don't believe at all that baby can possibly come early although one of my colleagues voiced concern about that. I think after all this waiting and being pregnant for so long, this month is going to fly by!