Category Archives: Baby

Feeding Baby

Wow.

There is an overwhelming amount of (often conflicting) information out there.

I ignored it all.

My advice to anyone who is soon to becoma a parent: find what works for you and your baby.

I couldn’t eat much during the pregnancy due to Hyperemesis Gradivarium and if you think that is the same as morning sickness, try hurling until you suffocate yourself and begin to feel panic rising alongside the bile as your airways close and you think you are going to die SEVEN OR EIGHT TIMES A DAY FOR 39 WEEKS!

Anyhoo.  As a rule, I cook from scratch.  Even when I’ve been cash rich and time poor, I tended to devote a day to cooking and make huge batches of chillis, soups, stews and even bread that could be put in the freezer as “convenience” meals.  I’m lucky because my Mum and Step-Grandma loved to cook so I learned to cook.  Convenience food and even a lot of restaurant food just isn’t up to the high standards that were set by the magnificent women in my life.  In fact, in recent months, our menu for the week was set by what Mr PinQ brought home form the food bank – it’s amazing how much more inventive you become!  I suppose that I was hoping to be able to breast feed as a natural progression from that, feeding my baby formula that is full of palm oil really didn’t appeal to me.

“Oh here we go.  Another of those self-righteous, blow-up-your-own-backside posts about how marvellous a mother you are because your baby was breast fed.” I hear you think.  Well read on…

As it happens, I’m a realist.  I was hoping to be able to breast feed but I know plenty of lovely mums and some of them chose to breast feed, some chose to bottle feed and others had to bottle feed whether they liked it or not.  I was under no illusions on that score.  To be honest, I found the posters in the local maternity unit intimidating because the message was that the best mums breastfeed their babies and I actually felt inadequate before my baby was even born!

One of the things that went into my “grab bag” was a tub of Cow & Gate formula, just in case.  In the hospital, everyone was talking about Aptimil like it was the food of the Gods so again, I felt inadequate.

I had HELLP Syndrome, my kidneys were failing a week before the birth, my liver was failing during and after but I managed about half of my Baby-Girl’s feeds myself but I had to combination feed.  After 5 months, my milk was completely gone.

On her first day, she showed me that she was hungry by sweeping her finger down her cheek towards her mouth so on our second morning when I was snapped at by a midwife:

“When did this baby last have a feed?”

“About midnight.”

“That was over 5 hours ago!  You must wake her up for a feed every 2 to 3 hours.”

I thought, “F*** off.  She tells me when she is hungry and this place is covered in posters about feeding on demand – which is it?”

Anyway, my milk should have come in on the Wednesday (I gave birth on the Sunday) but even by the Friday, it hadn’t.  I had been too poorly and we’d been thrown on a ward with a bright light over us all night on our last night in hospital so that messed us both up and my beautiful little girl lost far too much weight.  I decided to combination feed for as long as I could and persevered with expressing and lots of skin-to-skin but I was never going to be able to feed her wholly myself, regardless of how much I wanted to.  In 5 months, I had only two days when I was able to feed her entirely myself.

I decided to do a little research into baby formula, partly because of the people raving about Aptimil and partly because we have very little money and guess what I discovered… there is NO DISCERNIBLE DIFFERNCE between the brands of baby formula because it is so highly regulated.  That decided me.  Cow & Gate – that said, Lidl are now selling baby formula in their Bebivita range and it’s only £4.49 a box so I shall be trialling that in the next few weeks.

I had also planned to take the Baby Led Weaning route.  I read about how stressful spoon-feeding could be and saw the sense of letting baby have control over what they ate etc.  Then I had a little lightbulb moment.

If all baby has ever had is milk, he/she is bound to pull their face when you shove a spoonful of dinner in their mouth.  It must taste really strange.

So, the plan changed and a little shy of 15 weeks, everything that I (or Nanny or Nan-Bear) cooked got my little finger dipped in it and I let my Baby-Girl have a tiny taste.

At 17 weeks, she had her first baby porridge (Aptimil stank and she wasn’t keen so we replaced it with a plain Cow and Gate porridge and some Heinz Peach and Apricot porridge) and for dinner, vegetable and rice medleys that I’d boiled, blended and frozen and she absolutely loved them.

We tried a couple of flavours of “proper” baby food time and again but she didn’t like them.

At 33 weeks now, she has a list of “Big Girl Dinners” 50-something long which includes: hot smoked salmon; home-made celery, onion, rice and green lentil soup; crumpets; bacon sammiches; blueberries, mashed banana, smoked mackerel; tiny pots of fromage frais; scrambled egg; salami and cream cheese sammiches; home-made butternut squash and red pepper soup, black pudding; mashed potato with broccoli and cauliflower; tiny pancakes with lemon and many more.

I started a list in case there was anything that she wouldn’t eat but so far, she’s liked everything!

As a tiny baby, she set her feeding and sleeping routine and by week three, she slept through until 05:30.  That gradually got later and later and now, she normally wakes up at about 07:00.  I suspectthat is because of the combination feeding, the people that I know that were breastfeeding seemed to have to get up a lot in the night.

We start the day with a 150ml bottle and then play and cuddles for an hour and a half to two hours; then she has her baby porridge with some juice or water (I’ll come to that) and a nap until about 11:00; then it’s time for her second 150ml bottle and play for a couple of hours until lunch.

Lunch consists of one of her big-girl dinners, followed by a fruit pot, mashed banana, chopped strawberry or about 7 blueberries with a drink and then it’s time for another nap of about an hour and a half.  When she gets up, she has a little bottle (120ml) and we play for another couple of hours and at 17:30 ish, she has her next big-girl dinner, followed by a fromage frais and then it’s more play for a couple of hours and a 150 ml bottle before bed at about 20:00.

With all of her big-girl dinners and during play time, she has juice or filtered water.  Initially, my Mum had bought some baby juice and I carried on but then I realised: I was paying £1 for 500ml of watered down fruit juice.  I checked the sugar content and it’s 4.7g per 100ml and she can easily drink half a bottle in a day so…  I went into Lidl (Tesco’s or Asda’s own would work just as well) and bought cranberry and raspberry – less than 60p a litre – and watered it down with filtered tap 1:1.  The sugar content is 6.2g per 100ml so watered down, it is only 3.1g; so in making her baby juice myself, I am saving over £1.40 and she is having less sugar!

I also researched whether or not she could have fromage frais when she got to 6 months old and discovered that she can! You can buy 18 Petit Filous for £3, although it was half price in Tesco the other week so that was a major bonus.  The sugar content is 9.9g per 100g and the pot size is 47g, so she’s having 4.65g of sugar in that pot.  With a 200g jar of baby yoghurt at 10g sugar per 100g, even if you separated it into 4 portions, that’s still 5g of sugar per portion- although I suspect that you’d be tempted to feed a third or a half a jar as one dessert.  If you averaged one jar for 3 desserts, you would have to buy 6 jars and at 80p per jar, that’s £4.80.  Yet again, I am saving money and feeding her less sugar.

She eats beautifully and daintily from a spoon with only a tiny bit of mess around her mouth when I’ve overloaded the spoon or she’s been excited about what she’s eating and so far, with the exception of actual baby food, she has loved everything – she even tried Kiełbasa this evening (Polish sausage)!  I swear that it’s down to the finger dip tastes that she had just prior to trying her on puréed solids.

Now, just because that worked for me, doesn’t mean it is what other people should do.  So regardless of what route you take, it has to be what’s right for you and if you want to (and can afford to) buy organic fruit purée, then do it.  My only advice would be to read enough to make sure that you can make an informed decision but try not to be overwhelmed and let the volume of inormation out there confuse you.  In truth, you will know what is right for you so even if you read something that tells you that you MUST feed your baby on a diet that includes meat and oily fish but you want to raise them on a gluten-free and vegan diet, just read how to do that in the right way to make sure that your baby gets all of the nutrients he or she needs and you’ll be fine.

Pregnancy update

I’ll start with yesterday morning.

I’ve had an ante natal appointment booked for several months now and like all of my other appointments, I thought that it was just routine.

As with the glucose test last month (which came back fine for anyone who missed that newsflash), I was asked if I knew why I was there.  Yet again, I had to say, “I thought that it was just routine.”  It turns out that it wasn’t.  It’s another appointment that has been booked because I turned 40 this year.  With the resource issues in the NHS, I can’t help but feel a little resentment.

I was there at 08:35 for the appointment time of 08:40 and at 09:55, was taken into a room by a Maternity Assistant to have my blood pressure checked, my urine sample dip tested and to be asked if I had experienced any swelling – apart from the belly?  No.  At 09:20, a doctor called me in, advised me on diet (Really? Has he looked at the other women around here?), felt Baby’s position (she’s breech again), listened to her heartbeat (which left gel all over my tunny because he was struggling – the Midwife is so much better at it and does it in one) and then filled in a form to have me induced on my due date.  WTF?!?!

Apparently, new research suggests – yes, that’s right, suggests – that at and beyond 40, it is beneficial to be induced at term.

Baby-girl, please oh please be two weeks early!

All-in-all, I felt that I had wasted another morning. because despite living only 5 minutes away from the hospital (by car – normally a 10-15 minute walk but much longer now that I am waddling), I didn’t get home until just after 10:00 and to be honest, the doctor didn’t do anything that my Midwife doesn’t do and he did those things less competently.   His bit about diet made it seem like he was reading from a script, especially considering that my glucose levels were fine.  The worst thing was that when he was feeling my belly, he tickled me and I flinched and he looked up, smiled and said, “The baby is kicking.”  No, you idiot, that was me flinching because I am so damn ticklish!

Anyway, in the last couple of weeks, we’ve been working out some of the detail that hasn’t really been necessary up until now:

The birth plan (which is what we’ll be covering in next week’s Midwife appointment) is for a water birth, just gas and air, no cutting please in either direction unless necessary for baby, Mummy AND Daddy skin-on-skin time once she has arrived and if the worst happens (as with friends a few years ago) and they have to ask Daddy to make a decision between Mummy and Baby – Baby takes priority.

Hospital bag packing – a couple of items still outstanding but inbound.

Realising that we needed to get a tub of formula just in case I can’t breastfeed for whatever reason.  That is now with the hospital bag “stuff”.

Researching reusable nappies.

Long before I was pregnant, I would read the County “Baby” magazine when I was sat in the Doctor’s waiting room because it was either that or auto-trader (or similar).  It does tend to lean towards the ridiculously wealthy and I often found myself growling at the articles.  Now that I am pregnant, we have had our own copies given to us so I can growl in the privacy of my own home.

The latest issue featured a set of books that came to us hot off the press:

Animal Babies

Which can be purchased here if anyone wants them, they are an absolute delight!

Other than that, as usual, I found myself having a bit of a growl.  On the page containing the magazine editor’s letter was a baby dress for £165.  HOW MUCH?!  Even when I was earning a decent wage, I wouldn’t have dreamt of spending that sort of money on a dress for a baby.

Then came the article about water birth, more specifically, the benefits of.  Now, I want a water birth because of my problems with my spine and hip but I am not so naïve as to think that there aren’t any cons to go with the pros.  I realise that an epidural isn’t possible with a water birth, that there is likely to be more tearing because the midwife won’t be able to support my perineum, that someone will have to stand by with a sieve and that if baby is in distress and I have to get out, the pain will hit me like a tonne of bricks but that’s all fine.  For me, the pros do outweigh the cons.  Unfortunately, the article wasn’t particularly balanced and that, to me, is wrong – people should be given the all of the facts in order to make a balanced decision.

Then came the short piece about why women aren’t breastfeeding.  There was the point that there is insufficient support and that when awkward questions are asked in ante natal classes, they are glossed over or ignored because, “we don’t want to put anyone off”.  The final line of the article basically said that we MUST point out the health benefits of breastfeeding.  Now, it is only recently that I have taken a personal interest in breastfeeding but I can honestly say that there are only two things that I was aware of through the media; one of those is the anger of some people towards breastfeeding in public and the other is the health benefits for baby.  Why not try using the three things that will actually make people sit up an take notice of:

  1. The fact that you will lose more pregnancy weight because breastfeeding uses 500 calories per day.
  2. That it will cost over £600 in the first year to feed a baby on formula – breast milk is free!
  3. When you breastfeed, you will save time because you aren’t having to sterilise bottles and mix formula for every feed.

I have decided to breastfeed (if I can) because I know that it will be better for baby but I see people in town with a little one in a pram that is holding a box of “popcorn” chicken or a pack of cheap fairy cakes.  Those mothers don’t give a toss about baby’s health but one or all of the three reasons that I have suggested might make them pay attention.  Yes, I realise that I will have to express some milk and have some bottles in Baby’s “bottom drawer” for exactly that reason and as I said earlier, I even have a tub of formula just in case I can’t for any reason but I am going to try.  Of course, there is also a small environmental impact too, sterilising bottles requires energy (in my mind, steam but I expect a microwave could do the job too) and over the time that you are bottle feeding, that small amount of energy needed every day adds up – but that wouldn’t be a selling point for the mothers who don’t much care about the health benefits.

Babmboo Breast PadsIn readiness, I have bought a supply of breast pads; one box of disposables (for in case need to change them whilst I’m out and about) and some washable ones for the rest of the time.

I also have a lot of cotton, a sewing machine and some bamboo/cotton blend wadding for quilting so if I can work out the construction, I might make some more.

Which takes me nicely into my next point.  Nappies.

There was an article about washable nappies.   Oh I know they are referred to as “reusable” but let’s face it, that is just to make it sound prettier, more attractive to the more affluent mummy.

This time, the bulk of the argument for washables was about cost and the environmental impact.  Depending on which website or article you read, the cost of using disposables varies but on average, it seems to cost about £1000.  Then of course, there is the environmental impact: nappies take a long time to break down and make up a vast amount of landfill – again , the figures vary but at roughly 5000 nappies per child, I’m sure that we are capable of visualising it!

Again, I found that the article wasn’t really balanced.  It blathered on about how with everything that you would need for using washable nappies, you would have to spend in the region of £350, which compared to the £1000 average for disposables, is very attractive.  But you see, in my little scientific brain, there were questions about the environmental impact of washables.  Surely they have to be boil washed or treated with harsh chemicals to kill off any nasties.  What does that do to the environment in this day and age of washing at lower temperatures and using eco-friendly detergents?  How much would your gas and electric bills increase by?  What about drying?  If, like us, you don’t have a tumble drier, do you then have to buy a second set of nappies, almost double that initial outlay, in order to be able to dry them in the Winter?  If you do have a tumble drier, what are the environmental and financial impacts of the increased volumes that you are drying?  Why did the article not account for the financial and environmental costs of baby-wipes and what are the alternatives there?  I realise that the latter is probably because it is considered “negligible” but is it really?  They may only be the size of a tissue compared to the bulk of a nappy but if everyone used 5000 baby wipes (and the rest!) over 2.5 years, what is the tonnage of landfill there?

Anyway, after conducting a lot of research myself and discussing it with Mr PinQ, we have decided to use washable nappies.  However, we are not entirely stupid and have also realised that at each size stage, it will make sense to have a bag of disposables for things like days out because we would rather not have to carry around a wet bag full of soiled, soggy nappies as well as everything else that we will need to take with us.  We also have a pack of disposables for when she is born just to get us used to the whole nappy thing!
Nappies
As it happens, I was lucky enough to get a “Birth to Potty” pack for under £105 and the only bad review of said pack was from a woman complaining that the nappy covers (on the “unisex” pack) were all white.  It was basically an angry one-liner because she expected pretty patterns on the covers like in some of the images and that “they should be done by the advertising standards”.  Yes dear.

I haven’t really started nesting.  It’s a bit of a struggle because I don’t know how soon we will have to move house so everything that I had planned for our home has gone out of the window.  Why put the energy in and find that we have to leave in a month or two?

Challenging behaviour

I walk the puppy in the park for at least an hour every day as well as for little 15 minute strolls along the road.  Mr PinQ takes her for a longer walk down to the beach but at 33 weeks pregnant, that’s a bit much for me to manage so we go out with a flinger, a ball and a bottle of iced water.

To get there, I have to cross the bridge over the Creek and from our house, the best way is via a little pedestrian cut through.  Not 10 metres past said cut through is a path that is split half and half pedestrian and cycle path.  Both ends of the cut through has a no cycling sign:

No Cycling

The cycle path entrances on the other hand, have signs showing that it is a cycle path:

Cycle Lane

There is a clear white line separating the pedestrian and cycle lanes, painted bicycles at each end of the cycle path itself and along the route, several signs to show that there is a split:

Cycling and Pedestrians

Now, as a cyclist AND a pedestrian (and a driver but obviously not along there!) I frequently use said cycle lanes and pedestrian lanes as appropriate – even though it means cycling that extra 10 metres or so *tongue firmly in cheek*.

Today, Puppy and I had just stopped to watch the young foxes play and were proceeding along the cut through when I heard a shout behind me.  I turned around to find a man in his forties on what was clearly a ladies bike, hollering at me to get out of the way.  I refused, turned to face him and stood my ground.

N.B.  I ALWAYS challenge anyone who cycles up there, there are mums with babies and toddlers, elderly people and dogs (with their owners) who use that cut through and are all less able to get out of the way of bikes quickly in a such a narrow space.

I said very plainly: “No.  There is a cycle path less than 10 metres away and this path is clearly signposted as No Cycling.”

And thus began his torrent of abuse.  I can swear with the best of them but it really isn’t a good way to get your point across.  He was calling me a f***ing a***hole and other choice phrases and shouting that if I hadn’t been there, he would have just gone through.  To which I replied quietly, “I know.”

At that, he realised that he had lost and he turned around and went up the cycle path, still shouting abuse.

We met again at the junction of the two paths and in reply to his barrage of swearing and insults I said simply, “Well, maybe you didn’t understand the signs because maybe you just aren’t bright enough.”

He obviously didn’t like that because he stopped on the bridge, got off the bike and leaned it against the ironwork and turned to face me.

I remember my Tai Chi Instructor once telling me about her ‘elephant arm’, where her body took over when she sensed trouble one night.  Mine did.  I got ready for the fight that he wanted.  After all, stopping on the bridge demonstrates premeditation on his part and as a heavily pregnant woman, no-one would have blamed me for kicking seven shades out of him.  Those of you who know me know that I am an absolute puss-cat but you also know me well enough to know that it takes a hell of a lot to make me lose my temper and an awful lot more to make me violent but I would have happily wiped the floor with the little ****.

He squared up to me and began to swear at me again but when he saw my body language and expression and heard me mutter, “come on then” he couldn’t get away fast enough.  It was quite comical.

Puppy and I were then able to have a lovely walk and play in the sun.

Broken by leg cramps

Warning – pregnancy post that includes bodily function detail!

I was 35 when we got married.  Many people believed that I would never find “the right man” for me (including me) and to be honest, I needed to find _me_ first.  Mr PinQ was very much the same in that his first marriage wasn’t the right relationship to bring a child into and it is only after that marriage ended that he became himself.  We met at the right time for both of us, despite our paths having crossed many times over the years.

When we got married, we said that we would let nature take its course but between our working hours and stress, I said that it wouldn’t happen and until my redundancy last year, it didn’t.

We’ve waited a long time to have a baby.

Maybe that sentence will make this post seem selfish and ungrateful.  Maybe I should feel guilty about what I am about to write but I don’t.  I am writing it because I didn’t know that pregnancy could be like this and if I had known, I might have been able to prepare myself mentally.  You see, even a relatively easy pregnancy can be a horrible experience and I’m going to tell you the truth.

I know women that have had Hyperemesis, that have been hospitalised several times through pregnancy for various reasons, I’ve seen how tired they get and some have had the most dreadful experiences but they don’t really talk about it.  I don’t want to be a bore and only talk about my pregnancy to people and there are some details that you really shouldn’t divulge in polite society (some listed below – you were warned) but bollox to that, the reality of pregnancy isn’t all sunshine and roses!

I am over the moon about my baby-girl and can’t wait to meet her and I am willing to go through it all again in a couple of years; but for those of you that have only seen/heard of the lovely glowing pregnancies or absolute horror stories that are, thankfully, rare, here’s a little taste of a quite “normal” pregnancy.

At about week 3, oblivious to the fact that I was pregnant, I was feeling nauseous and extremely fatigued.  My boobs were really swollen and tender but I put it down to the fact that I was “due on” – never mind the fact that they never got THAT swollen and tender!

By week 5, I realised that I must be pregnant and went to the pharmacy to buy a home test which of course, was positive.  Around about that time, the nausea had progressed to being violently sick 4+ times a day, regardless of what I ate or drank.  I thought: “Oh well, that’ll be the morning sickness.”  It was several weeks before I discovered that morning sickness is generally feeling nauseous and MAYBE being sick once or twice a day – by the time I found that out, I was being violently sick about 8 times a day, had no energy and had the most horrendous dehydration headaches.  That level of sickness is Hyperemesis Gradivarium, NOT morning sickness and if you live in the right area, you will be admitted to hospital like Princess Kate and put on a drip to get your fluid levels up and won’t have to do battle to get anti-sickness medication.  Don’t let them brush you off.

I had to fight for anti-sickness medication.  It turns out that my next door neighbour (who has just given birth to a gorgeous little boy – her second child) had the same thing and she used to be a doctor so we must live in the wrong postcode.  The response I kept getting at the GP surgery was: “Aww bless, well, that’s morning sickness for you.  We don’t deal with you now until after the baby is born, fill in the form to register with the midwife.”  I did, and after pushing the midwife over the phone, the Practice Nurse called to say that she had issued a prescription for my sickness.

At about week 10, we saw the midwife for the first time and explained that the tablets worked for about a week.  She asked if I could still wee.  My reply was honest: “Yes, once or twice a day and it’s like passing a tablespoon full of golden syrup because I can’t even hold fluids down.”  Her response?  Oh that was brilliant… “Oh good, your kidneys are still functioning then.”

Somewhere around that time, I learned what it was like to choke on your own vomit.  It was really, really frightening.  The sheer speed and frequency of the vomiting meant that I couldn’t breathe and my body just tried to take in a breath.  Unusually, Mr PinQ had already gone up to bed just a few minutes before and I was on the floor in the bathroom, kicking and choking.  On the fourth round of violent coughing, my airway cleared and I just curled up, tears pouring down my face.

At about 21 weeks, I started to feel baby moving.  I didn’t have a belly at all until week 20 and she just popped into existence almost overnight!  It was amazing.

I had to laugh when, at about 24 weeks, I stopped being able to put my socks on and tie my shoelaces normally.  It’s just not something that had occurred to me but my belly is in the way!  Most of the time now, you will find me in my Fit-Flops (slightly chewed by a puppy that we babysit) or my tatty old velcro-fastening Hotter flats because they are so much easier to get on.

A couple of weeks ago, the sickness started to settle down to only once or twice a day for most of the time.  I have had a couple of days where I haven’t been sick at all!  I also have a couple of days every week where I am sick all day.  The ability to retain some food and drink has had consequences.  Of course there’s the pregnancy thing of needing to wee more, and it’s not just because your bladder (along with the rest of your insides) is all squished up, sometimes, it is because baby is actually standing on it!  You know how it feels when you need to pee so badly that it hurts?  Multiply that by 1000.  I am also alternating between being constipated for several days and then days when I really have to run for the loo.  Joy.

Occasionally, I crave junk food.  I suspect that is because it is high fat and high sugar and my body is desperately in need of the extra calories.  However, the constant sickness has given me an insight that I didn’t really need but here’s the truth of it.  We cook everything from scratch and when I am sick, unless there’s nothing there so all I can taste is bile, what comes up tastes basically the same as it did when it went down.  When I have given in to a junk food craving and been sick, there is an awful chemical taste as it comes back that then lingers for most of the day and night.  If I needed a reason not to eat processed (plastic) food, that would do it, trust me.

For a long time now, I have struggled to get a good night’s sleep, I usually wake up between 04:00 and 05:00 and eventually give in and get out of bed.  I am absolutely exhausted.  I sometimes try to nap during the day but usually end up getting about an hour and it just doesn’t make up for the missing sleep.

In the last few weeks, I’ve noticed that when I wake up, my hips really hurt.  I am lying on one side or the other now because I can’t sleep on my front anymore and it’s not really safe to sleep on your back at this stage because the womb presses on the vein that returns the blood from your lower body to your heart.  According to my favourite source of good, solid information,  The Baby Centre, you should, ideally, be sleeping on the left side but as many of you know, my left hip is the busted one so I can only cope with that for short spells.

This week, my little Twinkle went from kicking and waving to turning into a proper little alien.  Watching and feeling that level of movement in your belly is totally freaky.  Daddy doesn’t know what it feels like but even he will feel a bit sick when he sees it!

I have had to take a day of sickness absence from work this week due to exhaustion.  It’s the first that I have taken so I’ve done really well.  They did send me home one evening because of sickness but even so, many people suffer much more in pregnancy.  I’ve been able to work around my sickness and fatigue the majority of the time because I only work 11 hours a week now and I’ve just had to switch off the rest of “normal” life but it has meant that I can cope.  If I was still working full-time, I wouldn’t have.

Mr PinQ has been the main factor that has saved me from utter collapse.  We always shared the household chores but because I haven’t been sailing through pregnancy, he is doing almost everything on top of working full time and he looks so tired.  My poor, beautiful, darling boy.  I do little jobs to try to make sure that he gets a bit of a rest but I can’t physically do much so he ends up having to do most of it.  For someone that has always worked hard and been really active, I am struggling a bit with my inability to do stuff!

No-one tells you how it feels when your womb stretches as baby grows.  It’s like having really bad period pains but so, so much worse.

Yesterday was week 29 and “staff day”.  We went to a forest for the day and after the walk and guided tour by the Forestry Commission’s Visitor Centre Manager, headed back for barbecue.  Two of the party had sloped off 30 – 45 minutes previously to light them but when we arrived, were still struggling.  It was embarrassing.  Charcoal in first, then firelighters, then cardboard on top – it was no wonder they wouldn’t light.  I realised that if they were struggling with lighting the barbecue, the food could be something of an issue so, a dab hand at barbecuing, I took over – What?  Really?  No!  I can hear you all…

I only got tetchy when a couple of people decided to come and “help” by sticking meat thermometers into the food and had to ask me what temperature it should be.  If you don’t fecking know, FECK OFF and leave me to it because I _do_ know what I am doing!

On the way back, I wondered out loud about how soon the sickness would stop when the hormones settle down after giving birth and my lovely manager was telling me about the scary leaflet that her midwife has just given her.  She is 34 weeks so I expect I’ll get one soon.  It tells you all about labour and childbirth, including that most of the time, mum poos herself as she gives birth.  That makes sense, all that pushing – especially after all that constipation!  There’s also a high probability that mum will throw up during the birth – I gather that’s a stress thing.  Great.

We got back to the Youth Centre at 17:00 and it took me 1 hour 45 minutes to get home, just because it was rush hour.  Hours on my feet and a stressful journey home – not helped by the youngster in the Corsa that did an emergency stop in front of me to allow a car to pull out of a side road despite there being NO traffic behind me didn’t help my mood – left me in pretty bad shape.  I didn’t even manage to say hello to Mr PinQ when I came in but did, thankfully, make it to the bathroom in time to throw up.

I was absolutely shattered and after a light dinner, snuggled up in bed and was asleep in seconds.

Then I was woken up in the small hours by the most godawful pain in my right calf and ankle.  My foot was twisted up and to the right.  I got out of bed and worked through the pain to flex and stretch my foot, massaging the muscle that was cramping.  I got back into bed thinking that I had it beaten and my foot flipped back up and right and the pain was so intense that I woke Mr PinQ.  I lay there sobbing.  I felt like I just couldn’t take any more pain.

Dearest friends, please don’t say, “I hope you get better soon” or similar.  I know that you say it because you love me and you are trying to offer me some comfort but I’m not actually ill, I’m pregnant, so the physical turmoil that my body is going through will be over in just under 11 weeks.

Interestingly, none of the above cr*p that is happening to my body matters one jot.  When my little Twinkle is having a shuffle around, when I stroke or hold her through my belly and when the kitten gently pats her with her paws or the puppy licks my belly because they have felt her move; I forget all of it.  There’s a tiny little human in there and I will get to meet her soon.  If she’s early, she’s mine; if she’s late, she’s Mr PinQ’s but either way, she’s ours and is worth every second of the months of yuckiness and pain.

Pregnancy: the good, the bad, the not so pretty & the slightly weird

The Good:

1. The Baby Centre

When we’d decided to have children, I confided in a dear friend who happens to work for The Baby Centre UK and she pointed me in their direction and sent me useful links from time to time.  It’s a wonderful resource for good, common sense advice for every possible topic and stage of pregnancy, right up to your child starting school.

2. Finally finding out that I was pregnant!  When we got married four and a half years ago, we made the decision to let nature take its course.  We weren’t actively “trying” but in all honesty, with my hours, his shifts and my stress levels, chances were pretty slim.

3. Seeing my husband’s face when he realised that, “You are going to be a Daddy” wasn’t referring to the fostering application that we’d submitted.

4. Seeing your baby for the first time on the 12 week scan.

12 week crop

5. Getting the letter that says that your baby is at low risk of having Down’s, Edwards’ and Patau’s Syndromes.

6. Hearing your baby’s heartbeat for the first time at your second appointment with the midwife.

7. Being able to share your news with the people that you love.

8. Starting baby’s “bottom drawer”.

9. Feeling baby move, from the little flutters to the little kicks and dance routines. The best bit of this is that you can really share baby with your husband because up until now, she’s been more of an intellectual concept for him.

10. Seeing baby move during the 20 week scan (she was waving her little fingers in this pic) and, if it’s possible on the day and you want to know, finding out if baby is pink flavour or blue flavour (no gender stereotypes here, just helpful for Nanna-Bear and the Fairy Godmothers who are knitting).

20160222-Maggie_20 wks

11. Realising that your kitten is responding to your baby so you won’t have one wake you at Midnight, 02:00 and 04:00 and the other wake you at 01:00, 03:00 and 05:00.  She cuddles up to my belly for sleeps when baby is asleep and runs around like a loon when baby is dancing!

20160206-Snowdrop

12. Being able to love having a belly!  Mine appeared from nowhere at about 20 weeks and now it’s huge but it is probably the only time in your life that you can enjoy having a massive belly.

13. Free prescriptions and dental care – you’ve got to love the NHS!

14. The feeling that you get when you put on your first pair of maternity trousers *ahhhhh*.

The jeans were too big but just recently, the waistband has started to cut into your belly; your leggings and joggers sit under your belly (or roll down) and baby doesn’t like the cold and the only things that have been really comfy are your ice-skating leggings and pyjama bottoms, neither of which is appropriate for work, shopping and other activities!

15. Having a truly wonderful Osteopath.

16. The cessation of menstruation!  As someone who loved being on Depo-Provera because of shift work and horrendous period pains, it is such a relief to be without one’s “curse”.

17. Discovering the “Baby Wish List” function on Amazon when people have been asking you to provide a list.  It’s like a wedding list, you get exactly what you need and/or want, delivered to your door!

18. Realising that in x weeks, you are going to be holding the tiny human that you both made.

The Bad

NCT

1. My lovely Midwife baffled me a little.  Maybe because I’m an old first time mum or maybe because she has so many mums who have had more than one baby, I’m not sure but she occasionally says something and I’m clueless.  The first time she said: “Right, it’s time to check baby now” and looked a bit surprised that I didn’t realise that I needed to take my jeans down to my knicker line and lie on the bed.  Mr PinQ was talking to our neighbour about this (soon to have her second baby) and she recommended that we sign up for ante-natal classes with the NCT.

I went online and nearly fell over when I saw the prices.  Money is tight since my redundancy and even if we fall into the cheapest price band, £10:30 an hour is way more than we can afford.  There are enough mothers in our lives who would undoubtedly share their experiences and common sense advice freely and with love.

We then planned to attend a sale of pre-loved baby things that was organised by the NCT. One of the organisers (our neighbour) and the venue gave us the times for the event as 10:00 till 14:00 and we planned our day around it.  We arrived at 12:20 and were shocked to see the sign segregating Members and Non-Members and then even more shocked to see a note at the bottom of the sandwich board declaring, “NO BUGGIES”.   Seriously?  We know the venue, we are members, they ask that you don’t leave buggies by the door as they could prevent easy egress in the event of a fire but they do allow buggies in.  If that wasn’t enough, they were charging £1 per person entry fee because they clearly don’t make enough money with their astronomical costs for classes/workshops.  The final insult was the NCT representative that “welcomed” us at the door.

Abruptly: “Are you here for the sale” Looking me up and down like I was filth
Glancing at my obvious baby belly a little incredulously, “Yes”
Abruptly: “It finishes at 12:30”
“Oh!  Two independent sources: the venue and one of the NCT organisers (our neighbour) told us that it was ten till two” peering hopefully over her shoulder at the full stalls with mums stood attentively in the hopes of making a little money from the things that their babies had grown out of.
Abruptly: “No, it definitely finishes at 12:30” and ushered us out of the door, stopping short of actually pushing us.

I warm smile with: “I’m sorry for any confusion/misunderstanding but the sale is only on until 12:30” would have been the right way to represent her organisation.  I wouldn’t really expect a: “It finishes at 12:30 but you’ve got 10 minutes for a quick look” although I’m quite sure that the chance to make a few extra £s would have been appreciated by the mums doing the actual selling.

I’m so glad that I have The Baby Centre, a great Midwife and lots of lovely friends – if I had to rely on the NCT I’d be in a mess!

2. Being told that the £60 per hour job is yours during interview and then having that swiftly retracted when you tell the interviewer that you are pregnant.

It had been advertised as a 3-6 month contract and I applied when I was 5 weeks.  The company then changed the job spec and delayed the interviews by a few of months.
Realising that it sounded like a longer contract, I asked how long he envisioned it continuing and when he said a year, I knew that I had to tell him.

To be fair, he did say that my telling him said an awful lot about my integrity and that in a couple of years, he would be looking to grow the team so I should keep in touch but I was pretty gutted and I know deep down that my lack of continuation training and current experience & knowledge will be an issue in a couple of years.

3. Being lectured to and patronised.

4. Discovering that someone you love dearly has lost their baby when you were only about four weeks apart.

The Not So Pretty:

1. The sickness.  A step up from “normal” morning sickness, Hyperemisis Gradivarium is not fun!  Eighteen weeks of being violently sick 4-8 times a day, evil dehydration headaches, learning what it feels like to choke on your own vomit and just the total wipe-out that it brings is horrendous.

With the tough fitness regime just prior to pregnancy, followed by the 1st 8lb weight loss in weeks 6 – 12 and ongoing sickness since, I am half expecting to come out of this pregnancy thinner than when I went in!

At 23 weeks, the sickness is largely down to once a day most of the time with just a few bad days at 4/5 times a day.

Now that baby is now starting to hear and have been trying to sing to her but my vocal cords are wrecked because of the sickness – I hope they get better!

2. Belching.  It’s embarrassing!  I have never belched so much in all my life.  Imagine drinking a can of fizzy pop in a one-er… Well, the resulting belch is my constant companion.  I get that baby has squished up all of my innards so things are bound to be a bit peculiar but she is so rude with all the belching and burping – because believe me when I say that it is ALL her.

3. Realising that you can no longer power through a 17 mile+ bike ride when 7 miles wipes you out for a day.  On the plus side, I am still happily cycling, Tai Chi-ing and doing gentle ballet warm-ups before skating; I’ve just had to learn my new limitations, so: no jumps on the ice, no running, stop when I’m tired even if it is a only fraction of my normal time/mileage and take it easy – gentle exercise is good for baby too!

4. Tiredness.  Not just when exercising but day-to-day.  I’m not sleeping as much or as well and with the sickness draining my energy too, I find that I am getting tired really easily.  An afternoon nap helps when I can get one.

5. Maternity bras.  At 5 weeks, I went from a FF to an H cup – because I really needed bigger boobs!  My fabulous Freya sports bras and pretty lacy ones had to be put into storage and maternity bras purchased.  Several that arrived are underwired – if I could wear underwired, I wouldn’t be buying goddamn maternity bras!  The wires are the cause of much pain now that I am pregnant.  Instead, I now have these massive boobs that are not properly supported in something that looks like a piece of kit for a Russian shot-putter.

Joy.

6. The constant feeling of having a cold, caused by the swelling of your mucous membranes.  This also brings with it a whole new level of snoring that drives your hubby to sleep in the guest bedroom.  Well, one of us has to sleep!

7. The changes to your senses of taste and smell.  Nothing tastes right any more and you are enjoying food less and less but the impact on the sense of smell is far worse.

Having spent several years trying different antiperspirants that your beloved can use that won’t affect your psoriasis and eczema whilst effectively preventing him from smelling like a men’s locker room and that actually smells nice; you suddenly find it unbearably cloying and nauseating and find yourself sitting and shivering because you’ve had to open all of the windows to air the house following his morning shower.

8. Not being able to do everything that you used to.  Bending to tie your laces is uncomfortable.  You can’t lift that heavy box out of the way.  Some housework tasks are proving difficult.  You can’t empty the litter tray and aren’t sure about the safety of even handling all of the animals.  It is becoming increasingly difficult to find a comfortable position to sit/sleep in.

9. Your brain doesn’t seem to be quite as high-functioning as it was.

Don’t get me wrong, whilst I was always reasonably bright and very good at thinking on my feet, I have always been a bit dizzy/dippy but I have achieved new levels of dizziness that astound even me.  Is baby eating my brain?

10. Loose ligaments.  One of the dogs that we babysit from time-to-time is not very good on the lead and pulls dreadfully so it is getting to a point where I am struggling to walk him because he pulls even my good shoulder out of the socket a little.

This is actually a good candidate for the evolution or design argument.  You see, if we were designed, the ligament loosening would be targeted to the pelvic area where it is actually going to be needed when it is time to give birth and wouldn’t affect the whole body, offering you up more readily to injury at a time when you need to be strongest.

I am grateful not to have experienced the spreading of the feet though, another size up wouldn’t work with my height.

The Slightly Weird:

1. People asking to touch your belly.  To be fair, that is preferable to them just touching it but still…