Sunday, 29 June 2014

Raspberry Leaf Tea and Other Examples of Unnecessary Scare-Mongering

Today I had three tasks to perform.

1.) Write a birth plan.
2.) Put the co-sleeper up in my bedroom.
3.) Tidy the flat.

I have failed at all three.

I did at least attempt number two, but it appears to be beyond my capabilities to piece together any kind of furniture in a secure manner befitting somewhere I will be laying my firstborn down to sleep, so I am going to have to admit defeat and ask my brother to do it.  So much for being an independent woman.

Anyway, I am 37 weeks tomorrow, which is something of a milestone as this means the baby will no longer be considered premature if it was to be born tomorrow, and I will no longer need to call the hospital in panic if I go into labour.  Instead, I can just stay here on my own and deliver the baby myself.  Or something like that.  Anyway, this may well end up being necessary tonight as I am about to go and drink some raspberry leaf tea, which is a drug so allegedly potent that women are advised not to drink it before 32 weeks in case it brings on premature labour.  The NHS-endorsed Emma's Diary website actually warns that it should not be drunk at all, as its effects are unknown.  Somehow, contrary to what it says on the tin (or at least in old wives' tale popular folklore), I suspect that these unknown effects do not include spontaneous labour and delivery, given that raspberry leaf tea seems to be strangely absent from the induction protocol of any hospital anywhere.  Even Netmums, that usual haunt of badly written horror stories with appalling grammar where you can usually find hard evidence for pretty much any pregnancy myth ever, appears not to have too many tales of babies born suddenly and quickly after their mothers imbibed herbal tea.

Mercifully I have also not been able to find a shred of evidence for the Story of the Cyclops Baby which the loopy librarian at work decided to tell me shortly before my 20 week scan, after making a tenuous link between my students reading the Odyssey and cyclopses being an actual thing and not fictional monsters.  One does not want to go into labour fretting about what horror might actually come out.  It's bad enough that I've never even slept with the baby's father.  There could be all sorts of unknowns lurking within without worrying about the baby having the conventionally accepted number of eyes.  Although Loopy Librarian did attempt to soften the blow upon witnessing my horrified visage by explaining "it's some kind of problem with the brain.  The baby died shortly afterwards anyway," as though that made it all right and it must have been a great relief to everyone.  Some pregnancy horror stories are just too awful to be shared.

Anyway, I'm off to drink my raspberry leaf tea.  If you don't hear from me in a while, you can assume I've gone into labour.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Too many choices....

Now I appreciate that this sounds like an odd thing to say, and also as if I m moaning (again) but sitting on this sofa really isn't the pleasant and comfortable experience that DFS intended it to be.

This of course is not the fault of the sofa, which is, under normal circumstances, very comfortable indeed, and entirely the fault of the beachball-like appendage attached to my midriff.  I am told that birthing balls are good in these circumstances, but I am not sure they are good for balancing a laptop or, for that matter, my dinner.  Also, what does one do with a birthing ball after one has given birth?  It hardly seems worth the time, expense or sacrifice of harmonious interior design.

Anyway, the baby's head is now engaged.  At least, this is what I was told by the midwife today.  She also thinks he may have turned around and be facing the right way.  HALLELUJAH.  Hopefully this means I will not have to endure "back labour" and be screaming for an epidural before I've managed to breathe through the first contraction.  Although that said, someone at work was singing the praises of epidurals today and saying she couldn't believe she had endured her first two labours with only gas and air and wished she's realised the benefits of painlessness sooner.  I am so confused.  I thought epidurals were all wrong and a way of evil male doctors reinforcing the patriarchy by making women lie down and endure being ripped apart with forceps and scalpels.  I mean, that's what my hypnobirthing books say.  I am so confused.  My hypnobirthing books also say women in Africa give birth by finding a suitably secluded tree, then crouching down and breathing the baby out painlessly, which contrasts hugely with what I've read in the Guardian, which says women in Africa are all suffering needlessly long labours which last for weeks on end and culminate in obstetric fistula.  In whom is a confused mother-to-be to place her trust?  The Guardian probably has a better claim to authenticity, given that it has previously been right about a number of things, such as that Jeremy Clarkson is a knob and that nobody looks good in dungarees, but then I did see a recipe for saag paneer in there today that didn't include tomatoes and I like tomatoes in my saag paneer, so perhaps I cannot live my life blindly following the Rules of Being a Liberal Feminist set by the Guardian.  Also I remain conflicted by an article I read in there a while ago which suggested that same-sex marriage should be opposed by all right-thinking liberals as marriage as a concept reinforces the patriarchal idea that women are the chattels of their husbands and therefore no one-gay or straight-should get married.

The latter is a convenient view for a washed up spinster such as myself to pretend to have, though.

Although the Gaurdian also says I am not a washed up spinster, and that no woman should feel defined by their marital status or how good the Daily Mail says they look in a bikini, which is an even more convenient view to have.

GOD I AM SO CONFLICTED ABOUT LIFE, THE UNIVERSE AND EVERYTHING.  How am I going to write a birth plan expressing my "choices" when there is no consensus about what the right choice is, ever, about anything?

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Bloated Whale

Urgh.  Lounging on the sofa like a bloated whale.  And every now and again my belly goes all hard and pointy, and I am told that this may be a Braxton Hicks contraction.  I had thought it was just the baby moving around.  Still, hopefully this means that by the time I finally go into labour my body will know what it's doing.

Anyway, just because I am a glutton for punishment, today I went to Topshop (my haul: a pair of leggings and a T-shirt) and American Apparel, where I almost wept as I yet again realised I will probably never again be slim enough to wear a crop top, and had to settle for something called a "tent dress."

And on top of all this, I feel sick.  In fact, last night I woke up at 3am and actually was sick.  I have become disgusting.  This better be worth it.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Suddenly inhabiting weird parallel universe consisting entirely of Bugaboo Bees

Well the World Cup has now started and I missed my first England World Cup game since about 1982 simply because I was too tired to stay up and watch it.  Now watching France vs Honduras and although it's only 9pm and I had a nap earlier I am already yawning profusely.

Ooh France have just scored.  Looks like they have finally introduced goal-line technology.

Anyway, I am beginning to feel increasingly like an invalid.  A huge, bloated whale of an invalid at that.  Today I was wearing one of the few dresses that still fit-a floor-length blue vintage number-with flip flops, and had the sudden realisation that I looked like the Virgin Mary, escaped from the nativity play and roaming the streets, sans donkey, looking for some room at the inn.  As my brother quite rightly pointed out, I even had the immaculate conception to match.

Speaking of clothes that don't fit, yesterday my mother and I went to Westfield and I am now the proud owner of two nursing bras, which I think I am going to be wearing from now on as I have actual scars on my breasts from trying to squeeze into my normal ones.  We also bought breast pads (eugh), disposable knickers (EUGH) and worst of all, giant maternity pads (EEUUUGGHH), which are all apparently things I am going to need.  I very much doubt I will ever have sex ever again.  With all the waddling around, I started getting pains that felt like severe period pains in my back and front and at one point (round about the stage I was doubled over in Boots, buying the breast pads thinking this is definitely the end of my life as a style icon and woman about town) I actually thought I was going into labour.  Today my mother was so worried this was going to happen she wouldn't even let me salsa dance at the Marylebone Summer Fayre-probably the world's most middle class event, which we had accidentally stumbled into and which became something of an ordeal for my brother as my mother and I spent literally every moment exclaiming "look, ANOTHER Bugaboo Bee!  I've never seen so many Bugaboo Bees in my life!  It's like a Bugaboo Bee conference!" to each other repeatedly.  Looks like I have the Marylebone It Pushchair.  I either have very middle class tastes, or I am a total trend-follower. Or both.

Anyway, I am going to have to go now as I literally cannot stay awake any longer.  I'm off to dream crazy pregnant dreams about the baby kicking a hole in my stomach again.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

So it turns out you can have such a thing as too much protein

Had an appointment with the midwife today.  This was the first appointment I have had where things did not go entirely according to plan.

I had, for a start, completely forgotten to do my urine sample, and had to try to squeeze it all out in the delightful conditions of the toilet in the GP's surgery, which has signs pinned up all around it advising people not to make a mess and informing the plebs that should they have an "accident" they should inform reception so that they can "help you clean it up."

I can only imagine the utter humiliation of having to have that conversation in the reception area with ten thousand people queueing up behind you and the assembled masses squeezed into the waiting room like sheep off to slaughter.

Also, is everybody in Wembley suffering from double incontinence?  Why does that sign even need to be up at all?  The last "accident" I had was on the way to gymnastics class in 1987 and even at the tender age I was then I managed not to wreck anything beyond my own leotard.

Anyway, I had the opposite problem as I only managed to squeeze out one tiny drop into the container, an embarrassingly poor effort on my part.  Even so, the midwife was still able to test this and confidently proclaim that it contained protein.

PROTEIN.  I'm not sure I even eat enough protein, let alone have such a surplus of it that it's coming out in my urine.  This can only be A BAD THING.  A very bad thing, according to my knowledgeable searches on the internets, as this could be the start of pre-eclampsia, and that's the thing that killed poor Lady Sybil in Downton Abbey.


Well, OK, the midwife did have an alternative explanation for this.  She thought it might be a urine infection.  Not sure if anyone ever died from one of those, but it may mean I need to take antibiotics, which I will doubtless feel guilty about as will be contributing to the global epidemic of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that will one day wipe us out and take over the planet.  I can just imagine it now, me being rudely evicted from my flat by two tiny yet mighty blobs called Mr Bubonic Plague and Miss Small Pox, and them sitting down to enjoy a nice TV dinner on my cosy leather sofa in front of a BBC4 documentary about how these things called humans used to live on Planet Earth and they were really nasty and used to kill each other all the time in these things called Wars back in Ye Olden Days, and how Miss Small Pox herself nearly became extinct but luckily one of these humans had the foresight to keep her alive in captivity in a high security storage facility in America in case she might be needed for one of these Wars; and how Mr Bubonic Plague was briefly forced to eke out a miserable existence living in bins when those naughty humans proliferated.

Anyway, enough about diseases (although can I just say, not too long ago I read an article on the "Top Ten Worst Diseases Ever" and the worst one was something someone apparently had once in the Middle Ages where these insects burrowed inside his body and then multiplied until there were so many of them coming out of him that his servants had to maintain a constant routine of collecting them in buckets and emptying them into the sea until he finally died, eaten alive by insects.  IMAGINE IF THAT ONE CAME BACK).  The main point is I might have a urine infection, and this is kind of annoying.

Also, the baby is still back to back, and I'm not sure what to do about this as all the advice I have read says I should sit in a leaning forward position, but this is impossible as my bump is in the way.

Still, if last night's antenatal class is anything to go by, all this might be the least of my concerns as when the baby is born, apparently my life is not only going to not involve never being able to drink a cup of tea from start to finish ever again, but every day will be one long panic about whether or not I have or am about to accidentally kill the baby.  Yes, apparently the whole flat (or any building in which the baby spends any time) needs to be maintained at a constant temperature of eighteen degrees celsius, the baby cannot under any circumstances have a duvet, it must lie on its back at all times, you cannot fall asleep on the sofa anywhere near it and it's going to spend all day every day crying because you are a terrible parent who doesn't know how to breastfeed, bathe a baby without drowning or scalding it, swaddle it properly or change its nappy, and it wishes it had been born into some nice family with two parents and a car and a proper house instead of to wretched old you.

I cannot wait.

Monday, 9 June 2014

The Perils of Buying Baby Stuff

The shopping is getting serious.


I never thought there would be a type of shopping I failed to enjoy on any level.  And then I came across Baby Shopping.

To be honest, the pram and pushchair aspect of it is quite enjoyable (as long as you don't look too closely at the prices) and I have spent many happy minutes posing in front of the mirror whilst accessorising with a Bugaboo (cue Destiny's Child circa 1999 appear, tossing a now-obsolete item once known as a "pager" out of the window) and wondering how I might look as a mother (most mothers with pushchairs look at best what can only be described as "harassed," but I will obviously be different).  However, the car seat aspect is awful.  First of all, I feel personally bullied by the NHS into buying one, as apparently I will not be allowed to leave hospital without it, and will presumably have to stay there forever like Tom Hanks in The Terminal, but in a hospital so therefore worse as no duty free and full of sick people in unattractive backless gowns hanging around outside with their drips smoking fags (truly the sight that sums up all the worst things about hospitals).  Also secondly, they are extremely heavy.  Now I can sort of understand why, as no one wants their baby flying around the car in the event of an accident, which I imagine is what might happen to something very light, but is quite disconcerting when you pick one up expecting it to be roughly the weight of a baby.

Then, if the car seat dilemma (they don't all fit your pram, they don't all fit your-or in my case, my brother's-car.  Unless they happen to be the most expensive one in the shop, that is) isn't enough, most baby shops seem to be crammed full of pink plastic tat (hello, Babies R Us) that you will never, ever use and which will end up living on your balcony for four hundred years as you slowly morph into one of those people who still keeps a ten year old pushchair and a rancid potty on the balcony.  Also known as a parent.  Not a look I was going for as I sit serenely on my sun lounger in a wide-brimmed hat, cradling the baby in my arms and rocking him to sleep as I sip a cold glass of pinot grigio.

Because that's so going to be my life.  Right?

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Alcohol: Taunting Me With Its Presence

Currently lying on the sofa recovering from a very strenuous weekend.

I stayed up until 1am on Friday (1am!), then had my baby shower yesterday and finally topped it all off with a breastfeeding class today.

Luckily we didn't have to get our boobs out at the latter (or the former, both of which would have been alarming to innocent bystanders).  We did, however, have to watch some videos of babies and their mothers trying to get the hang of breastfeeding, which I have to say did not make it look easy, unlike the patronising NHS video they show at the hospital where a smiling chav announces that she has now had the earth-shattering realisation that her "breasts are not for men."  On the plus side, we were told that it is basically safe to drink alcohol whilst breastfeeding.  I almost wept with joy.  Until I realised that being drunk in charge of a baby was extremely inadvisable and might lead to a visit from social services.

Speaking of which, my friends landed me with the enviable task of getting the drinks in for the baby shower yesterday.  This was of course pretty easy, as it required nothing more strenuous than a couple of trips to Tesco (several, as obviously needed huge quantity).  However I could tell that the cashier was eyeing me with disgust, obviously thinking that I was off to spend the afternoon merrily consuming  eight bottles of Budweiser, washed down with two bottles of white wine and a couple of bottles of Cava.  I had been thinking that I could evade suspicion by simply pretending not to be pregnant, and just looking like I had eaten a heavy lunch of pasta and bread (lining the stomach in preparation for the afternoon's drinking session), but apparently at eight months this is no longer the case, and I do in fact look like I am smuggling a whole other person under my dress which, of course, I literally am.  I also wasn't factoring in the fact that most of the visitors to my baby shower had decided to drive (should not have told them about the secret parking places) so were not drinking, and we were out of orange juice within minutes while most of the alcohol remained unopened and is still sitting in my fridge.  *DO NOT TELL SOCIAL SERVICES.*

In other fun news, we now have a sweepstake for the birth date and weight of the baby.  I also may have to de-friend the person who suggested five kilograms as the weight.  I was baffled by what this might mean in real terms as I can only cope with pounds and ounces when it comes to the weight of humans, but I suspect it was about two stone.  THANKS FOR THAT.  On a more supportive note, relatively few people had me down as destined for an extra-long pregnancy in the manner of an elephant, so I am thankful for small mercies.  I am also now the proud owner of a selection of babygrows that have been artistically "embellished" by my friends with such slogans as "my mum made me wear this," which will doubtless be the story of Little One's life until he is at least twenty-three and can finally break away from the (i.e. "my") maternal love of dressing your child as an animal in an attempt to educate him about what animals exist and how to recognise them.

Anyway, on that note I am off to eat some more of the leftover food from yesterday and gaze longingly at the leftover beverages.