5 Things I’ve Been Doing While Waiting on Baby

When it came to choosing my maternity leave start date, I erred on the side of caution as an unassuming first time mum. I chose to use a weeks’ annual leave, followed by just over 2 weeks of mat leave before my due date, allowing myself time to get organised and to be prepared for a baby that could make an appearance at any point post 37 weeks.

As my due date has come and gone – and everything in the house has been routinely cleaned back to front several times – I’ve been twiddling my thumbs looking for ways to fill the time that don’t consist of continuously re-organising baby’s wardrobe/changing station/furniture arrangements.

1 – Updating my address book

Every Christmas I promise myself I’m going to be more organised when it comes to sending cards. Every year I fail, panic-ask for addresses, and usually end up either missing the postal deadline or forgetting to reach those further away friends. If they are more organised, maybe I’ve got a return address from their card. This has been helpfully torn from the envelope and tossed inside an address book with no rhyme or reason for it. Well not any more! My beautiful cupcake-design address book has been utilised to its purpose. Although friends, if you’re reading this, please don’t move ever again so I don’t need to change this.

2 – Clearing out old coats and shoes

This is probably something most people do at this time of year, out of habit as the seasons change. However I’ve been known to routinely buy new winter coats and boots etc, without throwing the old ones out. I’m not sure if this is due to a hoarders mentality, sentimental attachment to the items or a sheer panic of “but what if I NEED it one freezing day?” but it’s led to the instability of a coat stand and a collection of boots with heels that slope at angles Lady GaGa would be proud of. At any rate, most of these things don’t fit any more so it was satisfying to see them go.

3 – Christmas shopping

Admittedly, I don’t normally need an excuse to be doing this, and in actual fact the end of September is probably when I’d start looking at gift ideas anyway. With a few birthdays close to Christmas, plus the whole family to buy for, planning and budgeting for this time of year has always been something I’ve been cautious of, but even more so this year where I might be too pre-occupied to make the most of the Black Friday sales. Plus, searching for cute “from baby” gifts to grandparents/uncles is so much fun.

4 – General life admin

I’ve always been putting off getting a smart meter as its a fuss of organisation and change. Similarly I’ve been with the same energy provider since we moved here (well they do give us pre-sale to some great concerts…) as well as things like home insurance, banks, TV providers and other things Martin Lewis tells you to shop around for. So now is my chance to get my ducks in a row and maybe see if I can be getting a better deal elsewhere – as those savings will come in handy when my weekly grocery shop doubles to accommodate nappies, wipes and so on.

5 – Trying every old wives tale in the book

Ok so I’ve mostly been using my time productively (sort of). But I’m still disappointed that I don’t currently have a wee sleep thief in my arms to cuddle and care for. So over the past week or so I’ve been trying any advice anyone can give me on how to get this lazy little boy moving. I’ve been for literal walks in the park, bounced for hours on an exercise ball, eaten a range of spicy foods – you name it! Still, he appears to be quite comfy in his not-so-little nook. If anyone has any other unusual labour-inducing tips to share, I’d be only too happy to give them a go!

Advertisements

Receiving Scotland’s Baby Box

One of the best initiatives outlined by the Scottish Government in recent years (aside from free prescriptions or the abolition of tuition fees for Scottish students) has been the provision of a baby box for every child born in Scotland. Borrowed from a similar provision in Finland, the box aims to ensure each child born in the country receives the same start in life.

Scotland-baby-box

The initiative was trialled at the beginning of 2017, rolling out for all babies born in the country on or after 15th August 2017. As baby M was due on 27th September, I was lucky enough to be able to sign up for one of the first baby boxes. Many people may not agree with my choice to sign up for this – it’s not compulsory – but I agree with the sentiment and the equality factor behind this. No, I may not need every single item in the box, because, yes, I can afford to buy things for my child, but the box is more than a handout or symbol of welfare. It offers every child in the country the opportunity to have the same start in life with the same items, guidance and removal of stigma for receiving any such box.

What’s in the box?

Loads of people I know are curious as to what you receive in the box, and in all honesty I’m highly impressed with everything that’s there. The basic needs of your child are met for the first few months – with clothing, somewhere to sleep, play, learning and much more.

Baby-box-clothingThere are various items of clothing ranging in sizes from newborn to 3-6 months. From bright bottoms to beautifully patterned sleepsuits and a fleece jacket, all events are catered for. Clothing also includes socks, mittens and a cotton hat, so your child will always be fully dressed and cosy if need be.

Whilst sleep is obviously catered to through the box itself, complete with mattress, there’s a sling/wrap inside to ensure you can carry baby around even without an expensive pram or travel system. Plus you’ll also find a travel changing mat in there for when you decide to take baby into the outside world, and there are a few handy muslins tucked in there for feeding time too.

In addition to sleep, travel and warmth, the box also contains various useful items for bathing. From a cute duck sponge to practical hooded towel, bathtime for baby can be fun. There’s also a handy thermometer to test the water temperature, and some nail files to trim baby’s nails afterwards.

Magic-book-first-bookPlay is also an important part of the baby box, which comes complete with a play mat, highland cow comforter, teether and books. With both an interactive play book and a first story book, babies can play and learn from day one.

There are also some practical items for parents, including condoms(!), alongside things like tips for how mum can breastfeed and express, maternity pads, ideas for games to play with your child and activities to keep their wee minds stimulated. It wouldn’t be a government box without some important information too, on things like how to use the box, mental health help and information on guidance for mothers.

All things being equal

I absolutely love that the box contains the same items for every single child, with gender neutral clothing to boot. Whether you’re a young parent, first-time parent or have done it all before, your child gets the same treatment as every other, and you get the same information and support too. I know not everyone has to accept a box, and if you find that you’re in a position that you already have everything inside it, then fair enough. However I’d strongly encourage everyone eligible to sign up for one, to give each child the fair and equal start they deserve in life, regardless of class, family makeup or anything else.

Preparing for post-bump me

As b-day draws closer, I’ve driven myself mad with nesting and making sure I have everything organised for baby Murray when he makes an appearance. But what about me?

Don’t be so selfish, I hear you cry. Mum-life sees your child come first, and you’ll need to just fit your own needs in if there’s time after baby is sorted. And yes, while I’m inclined to agree, there’s also a degree of self-preservation after having a baby. I’m still me. I still need fed and clothed and to be in a good mental place in order to take care of baby properly and to the best of my ability. So I started with some shopping and some goals.

How impractical are regular clothes?

As someone who wants to at least give breastfeeding a go, I couldn’t help but notice that my wardrobe (both pre-bump and maternity) definitely didn’t want to comply. I’ve read around that post-partum bodies are usually the same size as 6 month pregnant bodies for the first little while, so although I’ll undoubtedly have clothes that fit – I’m not sure how many of them are practical for breastfeeding. Stretchy-tummy t-shirts and comfy, empire line dresses are fab, but when I plan to feed in the autumnal/winter months, I worry about the chill factor of having to pull a t-shirt all the way up, never mind the consequences of putting nearby innocent victims off their dinner by exposing my squashy mum-bod.

I’m not one for diving headfirst into expensive “problem solvers” like the breastfeeding tops that cost a fortune just because there’s an extra layer of material for privacy/warmth/convenience (here’s an example of one from Seraphine for about £40 a pop). Queue a trip to Primark and a panic-buy of blouses and vests.

In any event, I don’t see myself making loads of trips out and about in the very early days, but even in my own home I don’t want to be confined to pyjamas or that one vest that fits. Especially when baby Murray will no doubt have loads of visitors and well-wishers coming to see him.

Body goals

pre-pregnancy wardrobe goals

We often put a lot of pressure on ourselves to look a certain way, and this is especially true for new mums. I don’t fully expect to be able to jump back into my pre-pregnancy wardrobe right away (despite OH’s mum reportedly walking out the hospital in her size 8 jeans after having him!), but as someone who has always been quite active and health conscious, I’d like to be able to slowly build up to where I was pre-pregnancy. In fact, probably even during early pregnancy when I didn’t know bump existed yet!

I know attending 4 fitness classes a week is unrealistic, as is having the time to properly prep meals and snacks, at least in the early days. However if I can manage to try and slowly incorporate some fitness into my daily routine (whatever that ends up being!) I will be happier. I’ve already started to look on Pinterest for some great post-partum at-home exercises I can hopefully squeeze in between feeds, naps, changes etc!

The easiest way to feel, look and ultimately get back to my healthier self is to set some goals and stick to them. A couple of milestones have been set in terms of pre-pregnancy clothing, and while I couldn’t care about the number on the scales, there are a number of milestones set for things like distance, reps, length/time which I want to improve on. It won’t be a mad, manic 30-day challenge, but I’ll get there. And I’m sure bump will thank me for it when I’m happy, energised and full of the right endorphins and nutrients to take care of him properly!

5 Real Pregnancy Lifesavers

So there are always loads of lists of things you should be doing, or things you simply MUST buy to help you through your pregnancy. A lot of the time, these are spurred on by old wives tales, or just feed off the anxiousness and uncertainty of new mums. Don’t get me wrong, some gadgets and inventions are great and probably work for others, but unless you have a real tough time of it, there are a lot of things that aren’t really necessary but are packaged as so.

As I approach due date, I can honestly count on my hand the few things I’ve been unable to live without. So here are my top 5 pregnancy lifesavers:

Gaviscon

Oh my god the heartburn. If, like me, you sailed through trimesters 1 and 2 without really any gripes, then hopefully the heartburn and reflux will be the hardest part. With that in mind, stockpile your Gaviscon in advance of the third trimester. Tablets, liquid, anything will do when you get into the 30-odd week mark and baby has squashed your whole digestive tract, taunting it with kicks after every meal too. I’d recommend the massive bottle to swig from before bed (and often through the night), but as it’s too heavy/clunky to carry around, always have the chewable tablets in your handbag, pocket, other half’s pocket, desk drawer, everywhere!

Paracetomol

Never one for taking medicine when I don’t have to, I quickly learned that pregnancy is no time for heroes. When paracetomol is all you’re allowed for pain relief, cold and flu relief, and basically any relief, make sure you have a stash at home at all times. For me, it helped when headaches and migraines struck – both of which were uncommon for me, but occasional in pregnancy. Where paracetomol really helped though was through the night when sciatica was playing up and there was just no way to get comfortable.

Sandals or flip flops

This may partly be due to the timing of my pregnancy, but I could not have gotten by without a pair of emergency sandals or flip flops. Most days were absolutely fine, but sometimes – whether or not due to summer heat or just standing for long periods – my feet would just swell beyond recognition. After having to remove shoes at a party and walk about barefoot for most of the night, I realised that having sore feet whilst sober is no fun, and that emergency sandals should always be available!

Bio Oil

Loads of people have different views on stretch marks – some swear by certain creams whilst others put a lack of lines down to good genes. Having accumulated my fair share of tiger stripes on my inner thighs through puberty, I wasn’t keen to repeat the process on my tum with a growing bump, so some form of tummy TLC was needed. Bio Oil famously promotes itself as the cream for stretch marks, but in reality I also chose it because it both smells nice and is oil based, so you can feel like you’re giving bump his or her own wee daily massage too.

Reading material

activity-book-pregnantBooks, apps, guides, rants on Mumsnet – most reading material has been a lifesaver for this first time mum. Ante-natal classes and well-intentioned advice from friends and family is also great, but with baby brain likely to make you forget all of the important stuff by the time you need to put it into practice, written material is a godsend. Of course, there are loads of apps and websites out there which can make things a bit overwhelming, but if you stick to the big guns like your Ready, Steady Baby book,  any NHS leaflets or guides given to you, and things like the Emma’s Diary and Bounty apps, you’ll have more than enough information and reassurance for just about anything. I’ve also enjoyed some fun reading material in the form of the Big Fat Activity Book for Pregnant People, and the Unmumsy Mum, both of which were gifted to me by friends. The first is great for taking your mind off things whilst the latter is an honest account of parenthood which will make you realise that, no, it won’t be perfect, but yes, you can do it.

Ooharr Star Glow Face Mask Review

One of the may things I didn’t know about baby showers is how many gifts mum to be gets. I naively thought it was all about playing silly baby games and receiving gifts for your unborn child. However, this unlikely mum was also spoiled with a plethora of pampering goodies ranging from wonderful Lush bath sets to Yankee candles, chocolates and face masks. At a time of serious discomfort and lack of sleep, I’m so grateful for every one of these gifts.

As baby M could make an appearance any day now, I decided to try and get as much use – or sampling – of these wonderful gifts before the only pampering my body gets is the occasional baby wipe to mop up sick/pee/hopefully not poo.

With some time to kill in between cleaning down cupboard doors and washing newborn clothes within an inch of their life, I decided to start with the Ooharr Star Glow skin polishing face mask gifted to me by a former work colleague.

Ooharr-star-glowThis mask promises to make you feel radiant and refreshed – something I’ll confess I’ve not felt since somewhere around the 7 month mark. Its ingredients include vanilla and honey – great smoothers which work well to give the mask a nice, and not overpowering smell. Almonds and Argan oil promise to condition the skin, whilst the Aloe Vera is there to cool and calm things.

The mask itself has a clay-like texture, but with some exfoliating bittiness to it. The mixture glides on fairly easily, with enough in a single sachet to cover your face and neck (in fact, lathering your neck in the stuff is recommended on the instructions). There’s no hot sensation or heaviness like with some masks – I suspect the Aloe Vera has a lot to do with that.

Overall 15-20 minutes is longer than I’d usually have a mask on for, whether that’s down to instructions or general drying/absorption rate on my face. However I found that I needed just over the recommended 20 minutes to allow the clay mixture to set in.

Face-mask-end-resultUpon cleaning the mask off, I found my skin feeling instantly different. Softer and smoother, my face was a bit pinkish but I think that had more to do with the shock of cold water to close my pores rather than the mask itself. Once the skin calmed down, I noticed that not only did it feel better, it also looked brighter and more radiant.

I would definitely recommend the Star Glow Ooharr mask to anyone, as it was so gentle and unabraisive I think this particular one would be suitable for most skin types. Now to find out which retailers stock it!

 

How to Panic an Unlikely Mum

So I’d planned to write a blog about what a great baby shower I had on Sunday, despite being a bit sceptic about the whole concept of such things. But then something happened later on the Sunday which sent me into a bit of a panic.

Normally chilled and laid-back (most of us probably say that about ourselves), not a lot tends to phase me. I’ve been taking this unexpected pregnancy in my stride and feel I’ve been coping ok (others may agree differently!) with all the changes to my body, hormones and general life as a result. But panic hadn’t featured until Sunday.

Bad blood

In my last blog musing, I wrote about how we had made it full term and that it was basically all systems go for delivering in the local community maternity unit. So far, so smooth. The only thing that could have prevented this from being an option would be the results of the blood I had taken at my ante-natal check up that day.

I chose to use a witty blog sub-heading which made me hum a Taylor Swift song all day (I’ve used it again. You’re welcome), thinking I didn’t really have anything to worry about. Sure, when donating blood mine tends to take longer than most to drip out (I hate to part with anything apparently), but any time I’ve donated in the past, the blood gets out eventually and is good stuff to use. At least nobody has ever told me otherwise.

So I was quite confident my blood would pass whatever tests they were running. Aside from this, I’d been feeling fit and healthy, and none of my previous ante-natal bloods showed any problems, so in my head there was no issue.

You have one new message

Post-baby shower, I was ferrying around friends and family members as pregnancy equals sobriety which also equals guaranteed designated driver (Not that I mind driving, I mostly offer/insist). For that reason, my phone was out of my hands and general realm of consciousness for quite some time. The other half had stopped in to pick up a takeaway on the way home, so I had a quick check of my phone as I waited for him to return to the car.

There was a missed call from an 0800 number I vaguely recognised, with one voicemail waiting too. Wrongly assuming it was a sales call, I quickly opened my voicemail to get rid of the notification, but on hearing the voice at the other end, I received quite a shock.

It was one of the midwives, or doctors, I can’t recall her explaining, looking to discuss my blood results. As she couldn’t get hold of me then, she would call back in the morning. I don’t know about you but from all previous experience, if tests are fine, the medical professionals don’t need to discuss anything with you. Usually you just get printed results added to your notes, possibly sent out to yourself in the post too.

So this already panicked me. On calling the number back, I went to an NHS switchboard. With little to go on apart from the caller’s first name, I knew I wasn’t going to get any further forward. Plus, there was now Chinese food taking over my sense of smell and distracting me.

Sunday night blues

Post takeaway with the in-laws, I started to think more about the missed call and voicemail. My inner Sherlock/paranoid hormonal mum-brain started doing overtime. Who would call at 7pm on a Sunday if the results could wait till Monday? Surely it would have to be serious to call when no doctors surgery or pharmacy would be open, and with the community maternity unit only open for another hour that day? Why didn’t she leave more information so I could try to reach her that evening? What was I supposed to do all night thinking about this?

Of course, option 1 is always to Google the symptoms. But I was partly too afraid to do that, and partly thought there could be literally anything wrong with my blood so wouldn’t know where to start. Instead, my mind just went into overdrive wondering how badly ill I was without knowing (I still felt wholly fine, heartburn and sciatica aside), if it could affect baby, what I should prepare for in the morning and much more.

As an avid Hollyoaks fan (problem?), I was aware of a current storyline involving a pregnant character who found out she has ovarian cancer whilst halfway through her pregnancy. So naturally the other half had to convince me I didn’t have blood cancer and that was a bit extreme to be casually noted in a voicemail of a Sunday night.

So whilst most of the nation tossed and turned, anxious at the thought of going into another working week with only Monday blues lying ahead, I lay awake thinking about all the things that either could be wrong or that I’d have to change now in light of this voicemail. My hospital bag had been repacked in my head, with visions of me being carted to the city hospital the next day, ready to meet baby a couple of weeks earlier than planned.

Relief

It was lunchtime on Monday before the midwife managed to call me back. I’d put my phone on loud for the first time since I was about 16 and had a cutting-edge polyphonic ringtone, just so I wouldn’t miss the call. She was calm and blase, which was nice but annoying at the same time. She casually asked if I was taking iron tablets, to which I replied I hadn’t ever taken them. I panicked, thinking I possibly might have poisoned my unborn bump with too much iron.

Her response was that she would phone the GP to get a prescription sorted out for me as my iron is borderline low. That was it. Low iron. A ridiculously common issue in pregnancy and general life depending on your diet/where you live. Nothing that couldn’t have waited till the Monday morning, and nothing, it transpired, that would mean any changes to my pregnancy and delivery. I was overwhelmed, relieved, angry and ecstatic all at the same time.

Most of me knows that it was 100% my fault for overreacting and sending my brain into overdrive, but I can’t help but feel the vagueness and casualness of said midwife had a part to play in panicking this unlikely mum.

Criteria check – good to go!

So bump and I have reached week 37 which means he’s now considered full term and can arrive at any moment (help!). In order for me to be eligible to give birth at the local community maternity unit over a consultant-led unit, I had to have what’s known as a criteria check, to ensure bump and I are well enough to deliver there.

A lot of this involved going through a checklist of what’s available at the hospital and whether or not that meets my wishes, expectations and of course is suitable for my health and well-being. Most this was discussed in the tour of the hospital the other half and I had a couple of weeks ago, which prompted me to think about the choice of where to give birth. As most things remained unchanged in terms of what I wanted, how I felt and how baby was progressing, the checklist was signed off by the midwife with no problems – so far so good.

Behaving baby

Part of the check is a routine ante-natal midwife appointment, where bump is measured, felt, and heart monitored. So far so normal. Everything appeared ok, and according to the midwife his head is two-fifths into my pelvis. Apparently this is a good and normal thing. Five-fifths means he’s engaged and could literally go any minute, so it’s good to know he’s taking his time for now!

Bad blood

All routine ante-natal checks proved normal (I will never get used to peeing in a bottle no matter how many times I’m asked), including my blood pressure which has been miraculously fine the whole way throughout pregnancy. This means that the only thing that could prevent me from having a “normal” birth in a community maternity unit is my blood results. My blood type is A+ (the only A plus I’ve ever had in life!), which doesn’t mean much on its own, but as long as the blood count remains over 105 I’ll be able to (hopefully) deliver nice and naturally with minimal intervention in a hospital which I’m told I could arrive before the midwives if I go into labour in the night!

So for now, anticipation is at bay, but all is good to go. My next check is not for another 2 weeks (where I’ll be just 1 week away from due date – eek!), although the midwife did tell me to feel free to go into labour sooner. If it’s all the same I think I’ll wait till I see her next – bump permitting!