welcome baby jake

So, I’ve had an eventful couple of weeks! Those following my blog and copious Tweets will know I was expecting our second baby boy, due to arrive on the 11th July. Of course the 11th came and went without incident and in my late pregnancy fatigue I resigned myself to an extended wait to greet our newest family member. Friends and family who had been running an informal pool on when Bump would make an appearance were one by one disappointed, until only my Dad’s bet of Sunday 12th remained.

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40 week bump!

We spent that Sunday evening casually watching TV as I commented on the occasional Braxton Hicks contraction, which I had been experiencing more frequently over the previous 24 hours or so but were still completely painless and barely uncomfortable. I was convinced I still had days to go. At around 10.30pm we went up to bed, and I suddenly felt a small contraction that was noticeably more unnerving – this was not painless. Then I felt another, and another. Something was happening.

Despite knowing what they would tell me, I rang the Newcastle Birthing Centre (the midwife-led unit at our local hospital) in a mild panic for a bit of advice, and as anticipated the midwife on the phone advised me to take some paracetamol and have a warm bath, and to simply wait for the contractions to become more regular. It’s ok, I told myself. This could go on until morning; try to relax.

Even as I ran my bath though, now past midnight, I could not relax. I downloaded a contraction timer app and started keeping track as I felt the pain steadily get worse with each one. The paracetamol had literally no effect. Within the space of half an hour the contractions were 3-4 minutes apart and lasting a full minute, and I writhed in excruciating discomfort in the bath, trying and failing to keep relatively quiet so I didn’t wake Little Man. Things were progressing much faster than I had expected!

I rang the Birthing Centre again and breathlessly explained to the midwife how much pain I was now in – I think she was convinced by me having a contraction whilst on the phone and I couldn’t talk to her for 60 seconds. I must have sounded sufficiently laborious that I was asked to come in. I then rang my mum who was prepared yet surprised to actually get ‘the call’, and my parents dashed round to the house so we could go to the hospital. I was still attempting to get dressed and get my things together when they arrived. I started to panic more as I had a bit of a show and I knew we had to get a move on. Andy rushed around gathering our bags and shoving in last minute items I thought I would have been in a more composed state to sort out myself.

After managing to get in the car, we drove on mercifully deserted roads to the hospital – a journey which only took ten minutes but felt like a lifetime. I grabbed onto the handle above the door as if I would wrench it off with each contraction. Fortunately, as the hospital provides maternity parking bays we were able to pull up right outside the doors but I still had three contractions between getting out of the car and making it to the Birthing Centre entrance. A couple of paramedics outside offered me a wheelchair but I was so focused on getting myself there I declined and staggered on.

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The pool room at Newcastle Birthing Centre where Jake arrived

We were welcomed into the Birthing Centre about 1.30am by a smiling midwife who ushered us into a room and waited patiently through a couple of contractions before she asked to examine me ‘to check I was in established labour’. I think we all knew that I was, but I certainly wasn’t expecting her to say I was at 9cm already only three hours after the first uncomfortable contraction. She asked if I wanted to try using a birthing pool, which I did, and suddenly all the wheels were in motion, literally, as she went to get a wheelchair to move me down the corridor to a pool room. I clambered off the bed and as I stood up my waters went with such a huge gush all over the floor that Andy had to leap back to avoid getting his shoes soaked. “I think we’re going to have a baby soon!” said the midwife as I was wheeled along. No kidding.

In the pool room the midwife I had spoken to on the phone was busy running the taps and I was desperate to get in. The lights were dimmed, the water was warm, and the gas and air was on offer – if I wasn’t in excruciating pain it would have been very relaxing! As soon as I got in the water I felt the weight of my bump melt away and I leant over the side clutching the entonox mouthpiece for dear life.

The next 45 minutes or so were everything I wanted but didn’t get in my first labour, when I was induced to deliver Joe three weeks early due to pre-eclampsia. That highly medicalised experience was equally fast progressing but infinitely more stressful and frightening as I felt so out of control of the situation. I have only patchy memories of the sequence of events and don’t clearly recall the moment of his birth as I felt like I was in shock.

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Jake’s first picture

By merciful contrast, every second I was in that water, I felt in control. I was in touch with what was happening and spent the entire time with my eyes closed focused on getting my baby out by myself. Andy stayed by my side giving encouragement and reassurance, and had the all important job of passing the gas and air when I needed it. The wonderful midwives who were caring for me gave me gentle support throughout, intervening only occasionally to check the baby’s heartbeat, and disturbing me as little as possible. I was aware only of the voice of the midwife I had spoken to on the phone, quietly guiding me to listen to my body and do what it was telling me. It was telling me to push.

With advice from the midwives on changing position in the water a couple of times to encourage Bump to work his way down, I began to feel him making progress. This was something I don’t remember from my first birth, but I was acutely aware of him moving down the birth canal, and it gave me the strength to keep going. I was doing it! He emerged into the water at 2.42am, a little over 4 hours since I first thought something might be happening. The midwife lifted him out and onto my chest and I just sobbed in relief and gratitude, thanking them over and over for giving me the experience I had always wanted. It had been a lot quicker than I was expecting though!

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Jake at 8 days old

He did look like a big boy – the last growth scan we had at 37 weeks had estimated his weight at 7lb 11oz. I had expected him to be maybe a pound or so heavier than that. Then came the shock weigh-in: 10lb 2oz. How did I do that?! Had I known beforehand how big he was going to be I think I would have thought twice about my ability to actually get him out of my body but in blissful ignorance I never doubted it for a second. Needless to say I did not escape completely unscathed from giving birth to such a large baby, but that’s a subject for another post. He was just perfect though – more long-bodied and gangly-limbed than chubby and round. We named him Jacob.

And Dad was almost right – he was only out by about three hours so I think he’s claiming victory anyway.

Coming up in part two…. my difficult postnatal recovery

I’m privileged to be a part of the editorial team for the newly relaunched Maternity Matters website, along with my good friend Susanne of Ghostwriter Mummy, and Chelle from Mumington Post, current host of the #BlogBumpClub linky. This month we are asking for your birth story posts – which has worked out conveniently for me! Head on over to Maternity Matters to find out more about the project and to add your post links.

Maternity Matters

the curse of the tv hashtag

A little rant from my column in the Evening Chronicle this week. Please tell me I’m not alone in being incensed by this….

Still waiting for baby to arrive, I sat with my feet up on Monday lunchtime to watch the opening coverage of the Wimbledon fortnight. Ah, Wimbledon – that great British tradition. Overpriced strawberries and cream, polite applause, the ‘Today at Wimbledon’ highlights show…. but wait a minute! What on earth is this? As Sue Barker went through the running order for the coverage, she told the viewers to catch up on the day’s play by watching something called ‘Wimbledon 2day’.

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Even Claire Balding looks entirely embarrassed by the Wimbledon 2day fiasco

Even something as traditional as ‘Today at Wimbledon’ is not safe from the insistence of modern TV producers to make everything an assault on the senses. We essentially had Claire Balding presenting TFI Wimbledon in an outdoor bar set-up complete with awkward-looking studio audience who’d had too much sun, to show how much fun everyone was having. Oh, and there were some highlights of some tennis matches as well, but that was all secondary to John McEnroe rambling on incoherently as if he’d had one Pimm’s too many. And of course, we were all being encouraged to share our unimportant opinions using the obligatory #Wimbledon2day hashtag.

Suddenly the reason for the unnecessary use of text-speak in a genuine BBC programme title became clear. Apparently actual English words are no longer required when basing the name of a show entirely around a social media hashtag. Sooner or later programmes won’t even have proper names anymore and we’ll all be watching #MOTD or #GBBO forgetting what they actually stood for in the first place.

At the risk of sounding like an old person complaining about the youth of today, it’s no wonder that so many kids struggle with writing coherently when they’ve been born and raised in the digital age. With everything being so fast-moving and number of characters at a premium, why should they pay attention to whether what they post online is grammatically correct or not? Why write ‘I know’ when inexplicably ‘a no’ apparently says the same thing? (Hint – it doesn’t).

As someone who studied Linguistics at university, I appreciate how language naturally evolves over time, but I can’t help but feel that the more we dumb things down on purpose, the more we lose the ability to use English properly. But then I always run out of characters in a Tweet because I am loath to abbreviate anything. Maybe I’m the one doing it wrong. I’m still going to call it ‘Today at Wimbledon’ though.

37 weeks: into uncharted territory

This week’s Baby size as fruit or vegetable: Bunch of Swiss chard (who has EVER bought Swiss chard?)

Pregnancy symptom of the week: Most importantly, no pre-eclampsia

So now I’ve hit a milestone I wondered if I’d ever reach – passing the point in my first pregnancy when I developed pre-eclampsia and had to be induced before I was ready. Little Man was forced out into the world at 37+3 after I had already spent a week in hospital, unprepared and unwilling to accept what was happening to me. My precious boy weighed only 5lb 9oz.

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37 week bump – hang in there baby!

Fast-forward the best part of 5 years and I went into the ultrasound room this week for my final growth scan of this pregnancy at 37+4, already an achievement in itself. Reassured by the fact that my blood pressure has remained normal throughout, and with no additional signs of anything untoward developing, I was just keen to know how my second beautiful boy was growing. IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction) could still have been a concern even without pre-eclampsia – but I needn’t have worried. Bump’s estimated weight was (what seemed to me) a whopping 7lb 11oz. My new concern is how much bigger he is going to get before he does arrive! It served as a stark reminder of just how tiny Little Man was – a whole 2lbs smaller than his little brother at the same point.

I then had a chat with one of the obstetricians who after checking with the consultant who originally saw me, confirmed that all being well I still have the choice to labour in the on-site Birthing Centre rather than the Delivery Suite. I made her write it in my notes so that the midwives at the Birthing Centre will know that despite my initial label of ‘high risk’, my baby has grown well and I am fit and healthy and ready to go!

We were taken on a quick tour of both the Birthing Centre and the Delivery Suite at the ‘Preparing for Labour and Birth’ session I attended last week (just for a refresher!) and was surprised at the flood of negative emotions I felt as we walked into one of the delivery rooms on the maternity unit. I realised I couldn’t quite remember which room I had given birth in, but everything was horribly familiar – the hospital bed, the BP monitors, the CTG machine, the clinical lighting and cold floors. I came away more adamant than ever that I would avoid a repeat of last time and that I would welcome number two into the world in the homely, safe environment of the Birthing Centre – with the added reassurance that help will be at hand from the consultant unit if necessary.

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Little Man is getting ready to welcome ‘Baby’ to the family

Of course, my BP will be monitored perhaps more often than normal while I am in labour, and in the meantime I need to see my community midwife for weekly check-ups until delivery. I’ve also got another scan booked for 40+4 in case Bump decides to make himself a bit too comfy, but I’m hoping it won’t be necessary. The last thing I want is to have to be induced again – this time for being overdue!

As I’m now very much on the home straight, it seemed like a good time to hand over the #BlogBumpClub baton to another mama – step forward Chelle! As someone I’ve worked with at both MAMA Academy and on the Mumington Post, I am so pleased Chelle will be taking the reins as she prepares to welcome baby number three later this year. Look out for the linky on the Mumington Post from next week – but for the last time here (*sniff*) please add your own pregnancy updates below!

 

I’m linking up to Maternity Matters with Ghostwriter Mummy

Maternity Matters~ Ghostwritermummy

review: splash about maternity swimwear

wpid-dsc_0682.jpgThere’s no denying that swimming during pregnancy can be a fantastic activity for any number of reasons – not the least of which during the third trimester is that the water helps to support the weight of your bump and gives you some much needed relief from lugging around your human beach ball. Swimming can also help to boost your circulation, maintain fitness and ease aches and pains throughout pregnancy, and is safe to take up during pregnancy even if you didn’t swim regularly beforehand.

As with any exercise though, you should always warm up and cool down properly, and don’t over-exert yourself. You should also avoid breaststroke if like me you’ve been suffering from pelvic pain, as this motion could aggravate the discomfort. Speak to your midwife or GP if you have any concerns about any aspect of exercising during pregnancy before you start.

As brilliant as swimming can be, it’s also something that can present pregnant women with a practical dilemma – what to wear in the pool? Maybe you’re just off to the local swimming baths, or maybe you’re lucky enough to be heading off on a sunny getaway before baby arrives and you don’t want to spend the time enveloped in an enormous kaftan. At a time when you might be feeling more self-conscious about your body than ever (or maybe you just want to show off that gorgeous bump!), you need some proper maternity swimwear that will both flatter your curves and provide plenty of support. This is where Splash About comes in!

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‘Surf’s Up’ child’s Rash Top from Splash About

Splash About have a well established range of bright and fun sun-safe swimwear for babies and children, like this fab Rash Top which I was sent for Little Man to wear – unfortunately the weather hasn’t quite been good enough to get the paddling pool out in the garden yet, although it will be fantastic for him to run around in when summer finally kicks in! More recently though Splash About have launched the ‘On Board’ range of maternity swimwear and I was given the opportunity to receive one of the stunning new cossies to review.

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‘Little Feet’, big bump!

I chose the Little Feet swimsuit in Aqua, which turned out to be a very flattering shade of teal, in a size 12. As I’m normally size 10-12 when not hugely pregnant I thought I’d go for the bigger end of the scale and it fits to a tee, even over my enormous 37 week bump, without stretching too tightly. The adjustable halter neck means you can ensure over-sized boobs are well contained, and the top of the swimsuit provides gentle support with light padding in the cups. A pet peeve of mine with swimsuits is a leg that is too high cut, and especially during pregnancy you don’t want to feel too much ‘on display’ – fortunately, the Splash About costume covers hips and bum in a flattering fashion. The tiny footprint motif on the bump is also a lovely little touch.

All in all, I think it’s a perfect choice for pool or beach – I just wish I was on my holidays! Take your pick from the halter neck or asymmetric designs, choose your colour, and you’re ready to take the plunge. I think I might be giving mine an outing in the birthing pool in a few weeks’ time!

wpid-dsc_0681.jpgCheck out the full Splash About range at www.splashabout.com 

I was sent a maternity swimming costume from Splash About free of charge for the purpose of this review. I also received a child’s rash top as a thank you.

35 & 36 weeks: packing ‘that’ bag and getting prepared

So now I’m on maternity leave, things are getting scarily real. There’s actually a baby on the way pretty soon! In between daytime TV property makeover shows and ill-advisedly watching old episodes of One Born, I’ve started ‘getting organised’ as best I can – and job one was packing the hospital bag (or bags as it has turned out to be).

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As a Beebies Baby Store brand ambassador, I was lucky enough to have been sent a brilliant Caboodle changing bag, covered in stars which I love, and roomy enough to be the perfect hospital bag. It comes with a lovely big folding changing mat, and a couple of handy extra pouches for various things, along with plenty of additional pockets inside for lots of baby bits – but for this occasion it was going to be my ‘mum’ bag. As I got it out on the bed, I sat and stroked the fleecy Eeyore blanket I had picked up for a fiver in Sainsbury’s, and realised I had no clue what to actually put in it. Nor was I sure what needed to go in the ‘baby’ bag, which was going to be the fab Pacapod changing bag I had been given as a maternity leave gift from my work colleagues.

When I was admitted to hospital suddenly while pregnant with Little Man, actually around this point of the pregnancy, I had prepared absolutely nothing. At 36 weeks and not yet having finished work, I thought I had all the time in the world. Pre-eclampsia had other ideas. Andy had to bring me everything I needed from home as I mentally went through my drawers thinking what was necessary for an indeterminate hospital stay. When Joe was born weighing 5lb 9oz, even newborn size clothes were far too big for him so Andy had to go out and buy some ‘tiny baby’ sleepsuits which still swamped him.

We managed then, so why was I obsessing so much about what to pack now?

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At least I knew of one thing that needed to go in – enormous pillow-like maternity pads. Oh, the joys. I thought I would concentrate on getting my bag packed first, so along with two packs of maternity pads (just in case I need 20 of the things in that first day), in went the accompanying oh-so-glamorous disposable briefs and a handful of breast pads (in pairs!). I also added some travel toiletries (I can throw in extra bits like my toothbrush and so on when the time comes), and some cooling leg and foot gel which I thought might be nice to have. I’ll also be taking along my pregnancy support cushions, which have been one of my must-have purchases from Beebies!

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Ideally I’ll be labouring in the Birthing Centre at the hospital – a midwifery-led unit in the same building as the main maternity ward and delivery suite – and will be able to make use of a birthing pool. Whether I actually give birth in the pool or not remains to be seen but I’d at least like to enjoy a bit of relaxation and pain relief in the pool. As such, I’ve packed as if I’m going on holiday, with a tankini, shorts, flip flops and a big towel. I’ve also chucked in some trackie bottoms and big socks, and will add a few last minute clothes when we’re ready to go.

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Then it came to the baby bag. This was relatively straightforward – newborn nappies, wipes and nappy bags, three muslins, a couple of vests and sleepsuits, a little hat, and the big giraffe-print swaddling muslin from Aden & Anais I was bought when I finished work. The only dilemma I really had was what size of baby clothes to pack – I still can’t quite get my head round the idea of having an average sized newborn rather than a tiny one. Optimistically, I’ve left all Little Man’s ‘tiny baby’ clothes boxed up and have packed regular ‘new baby’ ones instead. This is a big deal for me.

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As an added bonus, while I was packing, the Nod Pod baby blanket I ordered from Beebies turned up, so that will be coming along to give Bump a snuggly soft wrap to keep him cosy on the way home.

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And so we are good to go. Two bags ready and waiting for the big day, as I keep everything crossed that we will have the excitement of early labour at home, and everything we missed out on last time. The next week or so will have a lot of significance for me as I think back to this point in my first pregnancy and how nothing panned out the way we hoped it would. These two bags mean a lot to me.

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I hope that they signify a good omen for the end of my pregnancy and that they are not the only things I wasn’t able to experience last time that turn out differently this time. We’re getting ready to bring someone home.

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What have you been doing to get prepared for baby this week? Join the #BlogBumpClub linky and add your pregnancy posts here:

I’m linking up to Maternity Matters with Ghostwriter Mummy

Maternity Matters~ Ghostwritermummy

 

Beebies Ambassador Badge

As a Beebies Baby Store brand ambassador, I was sent the Caboodle changing bag free of charge for the purpose of using it in this post. All other products mentioned have either been purchased by me or given as gifts from friends.

#welovebeebies top 5: gifts for new baby

As a Beebies Baby Store brand ambassador and soon to be mum of baby boy number two, I’ve been busy trawling the Beebies website for all sorts of essentials for the new arrival. I’ve picked out some of my favourite products to give you some inspiration – starting with a Top 5 Gifts for New Baby. If you’re looking for a thoughtful present for a friend or family member’s little one, or simply want to give people some hints for what to buy for you, I think you should start here!

5 – PurFlo Shleepy

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Shleepy will be your little one’s favourite friend!

Cute and cuddly Shleepy is a Beebies favourite and would be a perfect gift from an older sibling to their new brother or sister. Shleepy can go anywhere and everywhere with your little one, with a curly tail that clings on to buggy bars and car seats, easy-grip hooves, and a comforting soft texture. Shleepy’s teether toes, made from medical grade silicone, provide welcome relief for sore gums – and he is mercifully fully washable!

Check out PurFlo Shleepy

 

 

 

 

 

4 – Faye and Lou Rainbow Muslins

Rainbow Muslins

Muslins have a huge variety of uses – but they don’t all look as beautiful as these.

These multicoloured lovelies were on my first Beebies Wishlist and I’ve just bought myself some as I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a set for Bump! The 7 bright and colourful 100% cotton muslins are beautifully soft and are made from two layers of muslin, making them highly absorbent. They have a multitude of uses for new parents – and the gorgeous colours won’t fade in the wash, which is something you’ll be doing a lot!

Check out Rainbow Muslins

 

 

 

 

 

3 – Nattou Activity Spirals

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This Nattou Arthur & Louis Activity Spiral would be an ideal addition to the new nursery

Early stimulation of your new baby’s senses is crucial for their development, so giving them fun and safe toys with different sounds and textures to explore is ideal. You could give or receive a lovely gift of one of these cute activity spirals, which will attach to a cot or car seat and entertain little ones with crinkly and rattling hanging toys. Beebies has a range of different designs and characters to choose from to suit your nursery decor.

Check out Activity Spirals

 

 

 

2 – Nod Pod Baby Blanket

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The Nod Pod’s clever design keeps baby cosy anywhere

I’ve just bought myself one of these brilliant blankets too (in a gorgeous rainbow stripe design to match the muslins!) and can see it being one of the most useful items when Bump arrives. The Nod Pod is both cosy and practical, being cleverly shaped to cocoon your baby whilst enabling straps from car seats or buggies to hold them safely in place when out and about. It also makes the perfect wrap for naptime, keeping little arms and legs warm and comfortable in lightweight, super soft fleece. It’s available in an array of colours and patterns for both 0-6 and 6-12 months. And it’s machine washable, obviously.

Check out the Nod Pod

 

 

 

1 – Nova Harley Changing Bags

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The Nova Harley New York changing bag is the ultimate new baby gift (for mummy!)

Nova Harley is the last word in luxury changing bags – and Beebies has a range of them to choose from to suit a variety of tastes and budgets. You would be a very lucky mummy to receive one of these as a gift, but there’s no harm in asking! Each bag contains an array of useful added extras to make life with your new baby so much easier, and for the fashion-conscious mum there is nothing more stylish to hang on your pram.

Check out Nova Harley changing bags

 

What are the best new baby gifts you’ve received? Head on over to Beebies Baby Store now for even more inspiration!

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33 & 34 weeks: job done, feet up

This week’s Baby size as fruit or vegetable: Cantaloupe melon

Pregnancy symptom of the week: Pelvic pain (yet again)

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Loving this gorgeous swaddling muslin from Aden & Anais

Oh happy day! I’m on maternity leave with the prospect of 5 weeks of relaxation ahead of me (if you ignore all the various things I’ve got to do over the next month!). My last day at work yesterday was a frantic one to get loose ends tied up and handed over, but I did get some lovely pressies from my colleagues, including a fab Pacapod changing bag, gorgeous swaddling muslin from Aden & Anais, and a ridiculously cute handknitted cardie for the little one. I am SO ready for some extra rest now!

I have continued to struggle with pelvic girdle pain, which has good days and bad days – when it’s bad I’m hugely uncomfortable. I had my long-awaited appointment with the women’s health physiotherapist this week and was hoping for some relief but unfortunately at this point in the pregnancy it is more of a case of grin and bear it for the next few weeks in the hope it will resolve itself after the birth.

The physio did give me some postural and movement advice to reduce the strain on my pelvis, including how best to get up from sitting or lying down, and how to turn over in bed – still the worst pain I’m getting at the moment. My sleep is disturbed every night as I wake up every time I need to change position. I’ve also been instructed not to waddle, however tempting it may be! I have to consciously take shorter strides and ensure my toes stay pointing forwards, not turning into penguin feet – turns out this is harder than it seems and is actually increasing the discomfort in the short term. Hopefully it will be worth it!

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33 week bump!

Last week we had an antenatal visit from the health visitor we will have when the baby arrives. This wasn’t something that happened when I was pregnant with Little Man, but apparently is now standard practice to meet the family in the antenatal period, which I think is a great idea. She had to fill in a huge form full of questions to get to know more about us and some of our preferences. Some questions seemed quite irrelevant on the face of it, such as how we enjoyed school and who we were closest to as children ourselves, but I can see how building up a picture of our own childhood experiences can help her to understand our parenting choices and attitudes. From our point of view, it was reassuring to meet her in a relaxed situation before she takes over from my midwife postnatally when things may be a little more fraught!

I’m now going to be using some of my time off to get properly organised and feel prepared at home – including getting my hospital bag packed! When I had to go into hospital unexpectedly at 36 weeks with Little Man after I developed pre-eclampsia, I hadn’t prepared anything and had to rely on Andy to bring things into hospital for me which was not ideal. Not that I’m anticipating another early arrival this time (fingers crossed!) but I’m definitely going to be sorted when the time comes. Enormous maternity pads and paper knickers at the ready!

How have my Bump Buddies been getting on? Add your pregnancy posts to the #BlogBumpClub linky here:

Maternity Matters~ Ghostwritermummy