Thursday, August 31, 2006

Carrying on

Everything is sort of slowing down a little now which is good - but the cramps are getting much stronger. Further apart than they were but very much stronger.

I've managed to eat something, had two paracetamols (step one on the tiny pain-relief ladder allowed at home) and only had to swear once.

So far the pains when they come are lasting as long as a minute but are varying between five and ten minutes apart and ultimately aren't that bad so this is a non-post really... progression but not much...

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Boss boss, da pains da pains...

Sorry about the title of this, I can't stop myself, truly...

I have come down with some manic energy. It's like drugs, I tell you. Good drugs. I am very speedy at the moment - in the last half an hour I've sewn the last blackout blind, repaired a jumper that's needed sewing for over a year, appealed a parking ticket, tidied the house, prepared a pile of notes for Dominique, left myself a reminder to register the birth and I am seriously about to take the duster to the shelves.

The latest development is the onset of regular cramps. I hesitate to call them contractions although they do cause me to shut the hell up and double over for a moment or two, something about which I am certain D is going to be very glad of shortly as otherwise I cannot stop talking.

I sort of think I should be timing them as they seem to be getting closer together. My guess is 10 minutes apart and lasting for about 30 seconds. The midwife begged me to eat something, however at the moment, just like being on drugs, I am not in the slightest bit hungry, in fact my belly is saying 'nooooo'... wish I had some ice cream. Maybe I can send D out for ice cream!! Maybe he'll even go!! Now there's a thought. Ice cream...

Now that's shut me up.

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The waters of denial...

...have officially broken.

Obviously my whingeing last night did the trick... or perhaps it was that curry?

Am getting a few 'tightening' type pains and the odd distant-relation to a contraction but nothing earth-shattering yet. Am about to sew the last black-out blind and then go for a walk in the park with D to try to hurry things up.

Will keep posting as things develop.

Due Date

I thought it worth posting today, the day the baby is officially due. According to the midwife I'm not 'ripe' yet, a sentence which makes me feel more like a watermelon then I felt previously... and I feel quite a bit watermelony on a regular basis these days.

I understand my friend who emailed me when she was a few days overdue saying that she felt as if it was all a trick and that there was no baby after all. This is an easy thing to think if one has been in denial all along and hence I am now beginning to doubt there will ever be a birth to go through - a seductive thought. A foolish thought, but a seductive thought.

All the women I now know who are due at this time are gradually disappearing through the door of motherhood and coming out the other side saying 'it's the hardest thing I've ever done oh, but it's so worth it'. 'Oh', say others, 'you're about to join the least exclusive club in the world'.

Such enticements, such blandishments, I just don't know if I can stop myself. Sign me up, please. All that hard work simply to join some tatty old club. Perhaps it's just that they're too overwhelmed by hormones to wax majestic about the experience.

Realistically of course there's nothing I can do at this point to stop myself - and yes, I know that Paradise is at the feet of Mothers and all that and naturally, after nine months of being undeniably pregnant I realise that there is no way out... but all these 'realistically's and 'of course's and 'undeniably's fade to nothing beneath the sheer capacity of the human mind to indulge in mind-numbing displays of irrationality. We could hold our own Guy Fawkes night under these delusions.

What baby?....peeeow....What birth?.....boooom....crackle..... the sky explodes with pleasant visions while deep inside the baby puts a knee in my side and his head on my bladder... reality strikes... are all pregnant women this schizophrenic?

What is it going to take for me to believe in this baby enough to get him out into the real world? Do I need a pair of red shoes and a little dog? Do I have to clap my hands and repeat 'I do believe in babies... I DO believe in babies' until he pops out? What? Tell me... what??

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

the truth

OK, this is what it's really like being nine months pregnant. I think.

I say 'I think' because it seems it's different for everyone. I met a girl on the tube today who is 8 months pregnant and can barely move. I have a good friend who is 8.5 months pregnant and she's exhausted (but she does have a toddler).

I do however have 3 new friends, one from NHS ante-natal, one from the NCT class and one from my witches site who are all due within 3 days of me and we're all pretty much the same - a little slower, a little more tired, but really, just bored. Some of us want some extra time in which to get things done before the arrival, some of us are itching for the baby to come. Mainly however, we're just bored.

We all feel perfectly capable of driving, although we don't 'just in case'. We're all getting practice contractions in varying levels of severity. One of us has low platelets, one has terrible back-ache, we all get up two or three times in the night to pee. We're all having trouble sleeping. We all stagger if we get up too quickly because the babies are big enough to throw us off balance if they slosh about suddenly. Two of us have swollen ankles. We've all gained different amounts of weight from one who claims 20 pounds to one who claims 44 pounds with two of us in the middle. None of us are admitting to haemorrhoids or constipation, one has admitted she wees when she laughs. Two of us sleep in the afternoons. Two of us have nurseries completely set up, one of us has one partly set up and muggins here hasn't even got her curtains up yet and everything is still in the basement.

One of us is admitting to having had Lady Gardening done by a professional. Three of us are planning home births, one is planning a hospital birth but is pissed off because her hospital never gave her the home option. Two have stretchmarks, two haven't had any. One had to rush to hospital with dizziness recently but was fine. We've all painted our toenails recently. We're all planning on breastfeeding but none of us are shy of bottles of formula if necessary. Two of us are planning on setting a routine, one is going to go with 'on demand' feeding and one hasn't decided. One of us is thinking about staying home for good with the baby, three of us have to go back to work and are looking at day care.

All of us are glad the pregnancy thing is coming to an end, all of us are more worried about the first two weeks after the baby comes than we are about the birth.

I think we've all been lucky. Unlike several women I know or have met, none of us has thrown up all through pregnancy. None of us is so terrified of the birth that we are scheduling a caesarian. None of us have had high blood-pressure or placenta provera. None of us has pre-eclampsia or any other complications as yet. None of us have had bleeding and bed rest forced upon us at this end of pregnancy. All of us have loving partners. We're all lucky.

And, we're all waiting, now. Just waiting.

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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Lady Gardening...

Well here we go. To use yet another metaphor, we have at least entered the airport on our way to lift off, by which I mean that the baby is 'engaged'. Or rather, his head is engaged in the process of sinking into my pelvis. Only 2/5 so far with what I am assured is 3/5 to go before he is thoroughly wedged-in and ready for the boarding lounge (because I am going to abuse this metaphor for a while... the sense of queasy anticipation and aimless boredom one experiences in airports fits this particular scenario reasonably well).

What this means is that when I stand up he sways dangerously into various muscle groups and organs which here-to-fore have remained relatively unscathed by the experience to date. I have, for example, connected quite well with my pelvic floor. I think I know where it begins and ends as these bits feel the strain whenever blodgy-boy has a particularly nasty bounce. Nasty bounces also pin-point exactly how mobile my pelvis has become. In the past, having not particularly thought about my pelvis I would possibly have described it as a bone and perhaps have gone on to finish by presenting it as something reasonably solid. Now, however, I may be inclined to describe it as somewhat of a more flexible object which can change shape and turn walking into an alarmingly new exercise in balance and movement. Rather than putting one foot in front of the other it is more like swinging one foot in front of the other. And, since I can't see the feet in question, the term 'in front of' is rather more optimistic than I would like and walking in a straight line after, for example, getting out of bed, is in fact a matter of pure chance.

This simple question of movement and the accompanying issue of 'what comes next' ought to be my main focus about now. 'Can I get up', 'can I walk' and 'when will my waters break?' should be fore-front in my mind. These have, however, been usurped by what appears to be the main concern of many of the other Mums-to-be in my aquaintance. From hippies to nice yuppy mums from Clapham's Nappy Valley there is only one topic of conversation once the question 'when are you due' has been answered - and that, my friends, is what I have heard referred to delicately as 'Lady Gardening'.

I have to admit that there is something strangely compelling about this subject, particularly after looking at various birthing videos and photographs. It does rather creep into one's mind that perhaps 'she could use a trim'. Now, this may be complete diversionary tactics, along the lines of buying too many all-in-ones because they're on sale, or discussing the engineering specs of various buggies rather than focusing on the birth of an impending baby - however there it sits, forefront in ones mind. To prune, or not to prune.

In the olden days, apparently, they whipped you into hospital and out came the safety razor to lop off the shrubbery. These days however they are much more enlightened by all accounts and deliver the baby whatever the state of your allotment (I am sorry about this, metaphoritis apparently comes with this blog). This leaves the choice in the hands of the expectant Mum - who, it must be said, can no more reach the scenery than she can see it without an array of mirrors and a safety net.

This is something that I must confess had not crossed my mind until it started raising it's ugly head in the online forums and then again in our nice NCT class... multiple times. Some ladies have either bought or been given a device to do the job for them. I italicise the above as several have been given this present by others Who Have Gone Before and passed this obsession down the line and it is always these women who open the first conversation. Now, how one is expected to use such a device without help is beyond many of us and has sparked several debates about how one goes about doing this and what sort of topiary one leaves behind. I'll refrain from offering you the preferred choices, however needless to say number one on the list is not 'do nothing'.

Once asked, this question cannot be put back in it's box (as it were). One begins to imagine oneself naked in a room full of strangers plus one's husband who, it has to be said, one would still like to have see oneself as a potential object of desire at some point. You can probably see where this is leading ('down the garden path' a voice whispers).

The choices, once one has come to the conclusion that suddenly this is in fact something with which one is very concerned are whether to try do to this oneself, or to hire someone else to do it. On this point the hippies and yummy yuppies are divided equally down the middle between those who can't bear the thought of subjecting someone else to the act and are determined to do some DIY and those who can't bear the thought of subjecting themselves to it and would rather pay a professional.

With the professional route discarded due to taste considerations, one has then to decide between subjecting oneself to the rigours of sharp objects, ripping motions or burning potions (or, to continue the metaphor to it's logical conclusion, shearing, ploughing or weed-killer) around what is an area of, shall we say, significant sensitivity at this time...

The reason why this is so all-consuming is, of course, that none of us particularly want to consider what is really happening to our bodies, to our muscles and bones and to our pelvic floors. None of us really want to focus on the impending venture onto the runway and take-off into parenthood, concerning as it does a considerable amount of pain, mess and general life-changing inconvenience. Therefore any excuse to focus on something more familiar is, like the 3-for-2 sales in airport bookshops, a welcome opportunity for distraction, eagerly seized.

And this is where I leave off, contemplating the arsenal of weapons in my bathroom tool-shed. I hope I have a hand-mirror.

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Entering the limbo

Tonight is Sunday. Tomorrow is Monday. More importantly, tomorrow is the first day of what I am referring to rather simplistically as my 'maternity leave'.

Breaking this term down I find it normally refers to a defined period of leave from work however I think in this case it's perfectly clear that this is more like a completely undefined leave from, well, from everything. Frankly.

While there is a nominal date for my putative return to normality it's one defined by the prosaic, by bank accounts, work and received wisdom rather than one defined by any closely examined reality. This date says to the world that come the end of February, I will gaily trip off to work leaving the blob in the hands of a paid carer and life will resume. Leave will be over. This is presuming that the blob is a living breathing baby and that there is work to return to and that I have managed to exist on what I have for this period of time and most importantly, that I can face it all. It's a date chosen from this side of time, from the side where there is no baby, where there is money and time and freedom, not a date chosen with any of the realities of the moment in place. Further, the start date for this leave of absence was also chosen relatively at random and it isn't actually the start of anything. In fact, there could easily be another month like this, a month of nothing happening, a month of not being able to do anything but wait.

It feels very random, this period of time which government agencies, employers and other mothers-to-be have conspired to fix. Neat and tidy, viewed in increments - three months, six months, a year... nice defined pieces of time that say 'I'm a work-a-holic', 'I'm middle-class', 'I've got a good benefits package', increments that box up an experience as if it could be controlled by ascribing a beginning and an end, as if there would be an end, as if by calling this 'leave' there will have to be a 'return', where-as nowhere did I read that this was a return trip.

So, I have taken my leave and find myself here in the netherworld, post-normal, pre-unknown. I have a list of things to do to fill the time, to divert my experience of the passing of this time and tomorrow I begin. Something has ended, something else is beginning.

Tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The weighting...

Wow.

6 more pounds in a week and a half. Proof that the less you move, the more you gain. I'm still eating the same amount of food but due to this embarrassing waddle I seem to have acquired which disqualifies me from the world of people who can run, jog, skip, power-walk and, oh, stroll, stand up quickly, stand up for more than 5 minutes... anyway, due to the waddle I can't expend more energy than I am eating at the moment and boy is that a mistake.

Short of going on an all-cucumber diet, this fast-tracking to post-partum obesity can only be ended by the birth of the blob - something which is now astonishingly within 3 weeks of becoming a reality. Or five, if he hangs around.

Both my witchy friends who are due within 3 days of me have had their baby's head engage. My new friend from the ante-natal class who is due 4 days after me has had her baby's head engage. My friend in Canada who was due last week had her baby last week. Just me standing around getting fatter and being plain old pregnant...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Stuffed...

I'm not sure what is filling me up the most... the baby or my dinner. There's hardly room for the both of them in there. Baldrick the blob is now wedged firmly between my pelvis and my ribs with little room for shifting. This doesn't stop him from trying, however and the constant parade of elbows, knees, feet and fingers pushing their way around my anatomy feels like my innards are participating in their very own aerobics class. Of particular delight is the feeling of little fingers tickling the inside of my back. According to the pregnancy books, he now has finger nails and I wonder what the odds are of those little tickly fingers clawing their way out... clearly I read too many horror books when I was young...

The upside of this is that for the first time in my life I have excellent posture as I cannot slouch in any way, shape or form without getting a small bony backside lodged firmy in my sternum. The downside of course is that if he is this big already, how on earth am I going to cope with his growth over the next 4 weeks - the weeks in which (according to all those books) he is going to put on the most weight?

Gone are my ideals of hitting the gym until 9 months pregnant - the victim of a foot injury incurred on a faulty pedal strap on a stationary bicycle. Gone are my goals of 'no empty calories' as the last two weeks has seen an 'oh fuck it' attitude sneak in and ice-cream and pizza have re-entered my diet. Gone, therefore is my goal of putting on no more than 24 pounds this pregnancy as I have now hit 28 and rising. The final victim in this campaign is my desire to push out a nice, compact baby of no more than 7 pounds as I am certain that I am about to push out a 10 pound fatty arbuckle of a child.

I mean, I am no dwarf. There's quite a long space between my pelvis and my rib cage. Quite a lot of room in there. If he's butting up against the limits already (with the emphasis on 'butt') then I reckon we're in for a hefty surprise. I reckon he's going to be straight into the 6 month romper suits and bouncing on Daddy's knee demanding kebabs by the time he's 8 weeks old.

Clearly, I have 4 weeks to divert this catastrophe, 4 weeks of alfalfa sprouts and brisk walks, 4 weeks of swimming and lean protein... 4 weeks of water and fresh fruit...

Or I could have 4 weeks of sitting on my fat backside slurping down ice-cream.

Hmmm....