pregnancy week 38

This week has been mostly fuelled by vast amounts of refined sugar. I know. It makes me feel terribly guilty, but I just don’t seem to be able to stop myself from reaching for the sweets, the Coca Cola, the ice lollies. The simple remedy would be not to buy them, but it’s like an unstoppable urge. Mr AMR says I’m being melodramatic and that I’m not really eating a lot of sweets at all, but I suppose it’s because I don’t usually really touch them and so I feel as though my body is one big sugary mess! It all started when the midwives at the birth unit recommended stocking up on sugary treats to bring when labour was established: they find that it helps to boost energy and keep people going when they are just totally and utterly knackered. In my Zita West book they recommend you bring bits of celery and veg placed on damp bits of kitchen roll to keep them crisp, and dips such as hummus. The midwife almost pissed herself laughing when I told her that. After she’d finished rolling her eyes. And I felt myself starting to feel all protective over hummus and “the healthy way” but then thought sensibly about what I would really want to eat or drink if I was knackered and needed an instant energy boost. Jelly babies and flat coke. Ta very much.

I must write more about my session at the birth unit – I don’t know whether I’ve written about this, but because I’m “low risk” I automatically go to a midwife-led birth unit rather than a hospital. Which is absolutely DANDY by me, because I hate hospitals almost to the point where I’m phobic and I don’t see why I need to deliver my baby in one. Brilliant that hospitals exist, obviously, and great that they are there for labours with complications and women who have conditions or factors that make birth a little more trying, but if you have a straightforward pregnancy and birth then it’s wonderful that there’s a “home from home” option. I was considering a home birth, way back at Christmas, because I know quite a few who have had brilliant home births (and no horror stories from them, strangely!) and I like the idea that labour can just progress naturally, without interruption and having to get into a car and drive and go to an unfamiliar place. But I’m not sure the owner of my holiday-let would be too keen on me setting up a birthing pool in the barn – HA!

So the unit it is. We have done four test runs, now, and timings in the car have varied from 35 minutes to 55 minutes. Manageable. Though I’ll probably have eaten all of my sugary snacks before I even get there…

Head is engaged, baby’s back is facing forward (all good positioning apparently) and baby is of a “good, average weight” which is also reassuring. Though I balked at the word “average”. Fast-forward ten years to me at parents’ evening: “AVERAGE?! There’s nothing AVERAGE about my child!” Hohoho…

I can’t believe that I’ll be 39 weeks on Monday – time has really flown since I started writing this blog and I have loved every minute of it and especially sharing my experiences with you all and reading your comments. What fun that in only a matter of a week or so, I’ll be changing the byline of this blog to “Triumphs and Struggles of a Thirty-Something Mum” rather than Mum-to-Be!

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emma jane sleep bra

Having reached the last couple of weeks of my pregnancy, I’ve been doing a little thinking about what I actually needed, wardrobe-wise, as my baby bump grew. In the first three or four months, the main focus was just on getting comfortable; there wasn’t a mountainous bump to accommodate, but I felt a bit angsty and irritable in my usual clothes. I couldn’t stand anything touching my tummy – possibly because it was quite doughy and bloated for the first twelve or so weeks – and I had this overwhelming urge to wear things that barely skimmed my skin, or at least didn’t offer any real resistance.

And so this post concentrates mainly on “soft things” that you can wear almost all the way through your pregnancy – they’re not expensive and they’ll stretch and last you until at least the end of the second trimester, so all very wise investments. I’d imagine that the following will also be a complete blessing in those weeks after the birth, too! Some of my “soft things” are suitable for being out and about in, lots of them are strictly loungewear, depending on your personal dress code standards, of course…

cake maternity bra

Sleep Bras and Crop Tops

I’ll be talking about bras in more detail, because from weeks 18-29 I found my ribcage to be almost unbearably painful and achey and I couldn’t stand having a proper bra on. So I spent quite a lot of time testing out soft, unstructured crop tops and sleep tops. Note that these can be very different to the “non-wired” bra; they offer little in the way of proper support, a lot of them, but for lounging about the house and so on, perfect. (I actually took to wearing them full-time, even to go out, due to the aching rib scenario, but I can’t imagine that’s ideal for supporting the breast tissue. But I didn’t have an option, really, I was in too much pain!) My favourites so far have been this one by Wacoal (surprisingly supportive, much like a low-resistance kind of sports bra) and the sleep bra from Emma Jane. Emma Jane do loads of soft sleep and maternity bras (top photo) and have a variety of colours, but I find the completely seamless (and clasp-less) night bra the most comfy. You can find that one here. Cake Maternity do really comfy “crop top” style bras (see photo above) that are also fully-functioning, supportive nursing bras, so if you’re more towards the end of your pregnancy then these are a great investment as you’ll use them pre and post-baby. You can find those online here – the quality is great, very sturdy.

Leggings

Yes, you can opt for maternity jeans early on (the ones with the very narrow “under bump” elasticated waistband) but I actually found that they still annoyed me a bit and I just wanted soft, stretchy leggings that would go right up and over my tummy so that no seams or elasticated waist bits touched my stomach. Perhaps not everyone would be as sensitive and irritable as me, but at any rate leggings are just great to have for lounging about in and are a bit more heavy-duty than tights, so good to wear under tunic style and longer-length tops. My favourite? These bamboo ones from Seraphine, which are so, so soft (thank you to the reader who recommended!) and for a budget “fix”, the maternity leggings from ASOS. The quality isn’t the same by any means, but they are pretty cheap and seem to have lasted quite well. I especially like the grey, but I think I bought mine in a two pack, here. They came up slightly large, so you might want to go down a size.

27 week baby bump photo

Vest Tops

For layering beneath long shirts and jumpers and cardigans; the ribbed vests from M&S here are really soft and stretch well (pictured above) – I discovered them at 27 weeks along, so they would be absolutely perfect to buy at the start of your pregnancy to carry you through the first six or seven months. I had a number of people recommending the stretchy “belly bands” to me in my first trimester, and you could absolutely get one (they are just a few quid) but I don’t think that they really become useful until later on, when tops start riding up over the bump and revealing the bottom of it! I haven’t actually used mine once. The best great, good quality vests that’ll last the duration of your pregnancy? Hush do ones that are really, really long – they cover most of your bottom as well as tummy and hips – more of a tunic than a top, I suppose. You can find them in loads of colours here.

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37 week pregnancy baby bump

Crikey! Full term. I’m 38 weeks tomorrow and – as all and sundry keep telling me – the baby could come at any time. It had better not, though, because I still have loads of work to do! I reckon by Wednesday I’ll be done and dusted and ready to relax, but that goalpost has already moved from last Friday, so we’ll see!

The week has been dominated by another house-move; we are now in holiday let number three, an old renovated barn in North Essex. Plus points: nice garden, OK-ish internet. Minus points: no dishwasher, a small double bed (hello?! I’m the size of a small double bed if I turn on my side and then there’s still poor Mr AMR, all six feet whatever!) no bath, and a twenty four mile drive to the birthing unit.

The “drive to the birthing unit” thing has become a bit of an issue, if truth be known. With no traffic, we have done it in 35 minutes. But with traffic, say I was unfortunate to need to go in rush hour, we reckon it’s more like 55. Has anyone done a 55 minute journey in labour? Tell me how long your journeys were – I’m getting a little obsessed! I know that first babies often take their time coming out, but what if we left it too late? What if we got to junction eight and the head was on its way out? Oh my God. It doesn’t even bear thinking about. I’d have to call the baby Audi. Which I suppose has a certain ring to it…

After a pretty uneventful second and third trimesters, in terms of symptoms and ailments (main ones were very achey ribs and a twitchy bladder but on the whole I got off very lucky), I have had a week of weird happenings. First of all, some “weird spells” where I feel really faint and my hands begin to shake. My results for the Glucose Tolerance Test all came back fine, so I don’t think I have anything specifically wrong with me, I just need to remember to eat more frequently. Which I’m rubbish at. I haven’t felt particularly hungry throughout the whole pregnancy, but now I feel as though my body is asking for a bit more fuel and so I’m trying to break things down into smaller, more frequent meals. Loads of snacks, basically. Second annoyance: foot swelling. To be fair, it’s not at all severe and so I’m not going to whine about it, but on Friday all of my shoes were in my suitcase and I wore UGG boots all day, striding about moving house, and my feet ballooned into fat oblongs, the toes like twisted bits of skin sticking out at the end!

The swelling hasn’t been so bad since – I’ve been wearing flip flops and keeping my feet nice and cool. And trying to drink more water, though that has the obvious knock-on effect of forcing me to have a wee about every thirty-two seconds.

Classic comment from a lady I hardly knew: “I know you think that everything is going to be fine, but so did I and I ended up with an emergency C-section.” Tumbleweed. I don’t think I even replied.

Brilliant moment of the week: buying two packs of newborn Pampers at Tesco and feeling really grown-up and Mum-like. I threw in a couple of packs of wipes, just to make myself feel extra-convincing. The fact that I then made a really inappropriate joke about a courgette kind of spoilt things at the checkout, but hey – I’m just a learner!

Right. I have loads of additional posts this week – mostly about bras and clothing, but maybe something more profound if I can find the emotional energy. I know I still really need to do my whole “pregnancy and fertility journey” post/s, but every time I sit down to write I get a total panicky block about how to start. But fear not; this blog will continue in its new incarnation as a baby/family-stuff blog once the little one has made an entrance and so there’s plenty of time to get things down on the page. I hope that for now, people who are trying or struggling to conceive can perhaps take a bit of positivity away from the fact that I never thought that I would be sat here, fully pregnant and ready for a baby to arrive, but here I am. It can and does happen – all of the time – no matter how pessimistic or helpless you feel. And the funny thing is that since I’ve openly talked to other people about how I felt it would never happen, so many friends and colleagues and readers and viewers have shared their own experiences. It’s something that quite often you don’t want to talk about, because it’s so sensitive and it really hurts, but knowing that there are other people out there in the same boat is a great comfort, I think. Anyway, I shall try to put some words together soon – and I look forward, as always, to your comments.

*dress in this week’s photo is the Celia Maxi Dress from Tiffany Rose.

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baby bump 36 weeks

Full term tomorrow! Argh! You’ll be pleased to know that I’m starting to get myself organised with baby stuff. I have vests. I have a nappy. (One. It came free in this weird NHS pack I got handed at my last appointment. But one is better than none, surely?) I have breast pads, maternity pads, swaddle blankets, cellular blankets, babygrows (two) and a pram. So, y’know, it’s a start. It all takes up a hell of a lot of room, doesn’t it? And we haven’t even got to car seat, crib, bathing things, changing things… We move to Saffron Walden (or near to) on Friday, for a month, and can only take one carload of stuff, so I think that we will be cutting it fine and getting the rest of our baby list once we have moved. Otherwise there’ll be no room in the car for me!

Baby matters continue to take a backseat, however, because the house renovations (and various associated problems and catastrophes) require all of our attentions. I’m also trying to get as much work done as possible pre-baby so that I have content to schedule for A Model Recommends; I have four or five videos backed up and ready to go, but want to get some posts under my belt too. I’m familiar with this story, because every time I’ve taken a holiday for the past five years I’ve had to do the same thing. I usually end up being so knackered by the time I get on holiday that I need two holidays! But this time I’m not going on holiday, I’m having a baby, which is a totally different kettle of fish. Had I planned this last month better, I would have worked in a couple of weeks’ holiday before the due date just to do absolutely nothing, but I actually get the feeling that I’d be a bit bored. I’m not an avid television watcher and it’s not as though I can go on ten mile hikes at the moment – sitting eating biscuits watching daytime tv appeals to me about as much as pulling out my own fingernails with a pair of pliers.

So, full steam ahead! Baby makes him/herself known at regular intervals throughout the day; huge churning movements where my whole stomach moves from one side to the other. Now and then an egg-sized bump will appear (a foot, I assume!) and then slide its way across somewhere else, and there are constant little flutterings and gurglings lower down, as though I have a large fish trapped in my pelvis. (Now that would be a surprise.) I find the movements absolutely joyous; there’s not a moment I don’t appreciate them. After the anxiety of the first few months where there are no movements and then the weirdness of the next couple, when movement can be sporadic and lack of it can completely freak you out, it’s incredible to be able to just sit or lie still and press on your tummy and have an almost instant reassurance – “I’m here! Don’t you worry about me!”

I keep thinking to myself, how kind this baby is! He/she almost seems to sense when I’m anxious and make an extra effort to have a wriggle about, just to let me know that everything is fine. Silly to think that, I know, but I like the idea that we are already somehow connected and “in tune”. It bodes well for a good few years down the line when I can telepathically ask for silence/chocolate/wine and these things will magically materialise. Ha.

Main physical development of the week: a slight “heaviness” downstairs and the feeling that the world might fall through the old ladyparts at any given moment. It’s time to practice those Kegals, methinks…

 *dress in photo is from Next here.

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One of the things that has most surprised me about pregnancy: the absolutely outrageous things that people say to you. Totally and utterly insensitive, unthinking and – quite often – bizarre. Now I have to hold my hands up and say that I, too, have said some of the things below – and I’m not even sure that I won’t say them again, so this is not supposed to embarrass or shame anyone. I think it may be just that when faced with a pregnant person we say stupid stuff: all you can see is the bump, the human attached does not exist, and so you resort to either clichéd sayings or things that pop into your head. And I’ll admit that when you’re pregnant you are about five million times more sensitive and every comment seems like some kind of witch’s curse or insult or bad omen..

TOP FIVE MOST ANNOYING THINGS PEOPLE SAY WHEN YOU’RE PREGNANT:

1) “Are you sure you’re not having twins?” Where do I even start with this one? Every time someone has said this I have been so tempted to say, “I’ve had ten antenatal appointments and four scans: how in God’s name would I NOT KNOW IF I WAS HAVING TWINS? You bell-end.” (Ha. Imagine if I now had surprise twins. That would be cringe, wouldn’t it?)

2) “But you’re so big?” This one happens all the time. It makes me want to smack my face with my own hand. Why would it surprise anyone that you were big? There’s a bloody baby in there! It’s simply the most ridiculous thing to say.

3) “But it looks so…small?” Often you get this and also the previous comment ON THE SAME DAY. Because everyone’s an expert when it comes to the size of your baby bump. Comments on baby bump sizing can quite frequently be followed up with some kind of highly insensitive personal experience story about how their own bump measured small and the baby had a serious illness, or their bump measured large and it turned out they had gestational diabetes and almost died in childbirth and lost eighty-five pints of blood and had to call a priest to have Last Rites. (The “personal experience” horror story genre is a whole other post, I think.)

4) “That’s definitely a boy” or “that’s definitely a girl“. Is it? IS IT?!!!!!!!! I don’t know why this one even irritates me that much, because in a way it’s nice that people are involved and want to guess. I think it’s possibly the wording; the know-it-all smugness and the certainty of the tone. (Sensitive, much? I warned you!)

5) Any sentence starting with “you just wait until…” For example, “you think you’re tired at twelve weeks? Ha! You just wait until you’re thirty weeks, then you’ll know all about it!” or “you think your back aches at thirty four weeks? You just wait until thirty nine weeks, love!” or, “you think you’re tired now? You just wait for the next sixteen years of your nightmarish, regretful existence.” There are many reasons I hate the “you just wait” opener; the pessimism, the almost joyful ill-wishing, but mostly the fact that I can’t stand constant moaners. There are those in life who get on with stuff – I have many friends who are knackered with kids, who get up at 5am every morning and have done for the past six years, but who do so with a sense of joie de vivre, because why have kids if you’re just going to harp on about how crap it all is? – and there are those who like to wear every single inconvenience like some kind of battle scar. Half the time, when they start a sentence with “you just wait until…”, what they are really saying is “there’s no way that your experience could be half as bad as my own.” O, me miserum. Of course their are those who truly do have a terrible time – in pregnancy, in birth, in life in general – but haven’t you noticed that they generally tend to be the quiet ones? Silent sufferers? I could be wrong…

OTHER MOST ANNOYING THINGS PEOPLE SAY WHEN YOU’RE PREGNANT (with thanks to Twitter followers for contributions!):

Wow! Aren’t you small/large/pale/puffy? Is everything OK?”

Aren’t you scared about the labour? I would be so scared about the labour…

Let me give you some advice…

I could tell you were pregnant before you even turned around.”

Was it planned?”

Ooh, I don’t envy you giving birth…I bet he’ll be a whopper!

You look like you’re about to burst!

Susan tore so much that she now has to wear a colostomy bag.”

You need to eat more than that – you’re eating for two now.” (This one also deserves its own post. Total myth. You are not eating for two, unless you want to emerge on the other side with about seven stone to lose and clogged up arteries.)

I planned for a natural birth as well, but JUST YOU WAIT UNTIL YOU FEEL THE PAIN!

And then we have the things that people say that don’t seem to just be idiotic blunders; perhaps they are. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. But – seriously? Here goes:

DEEPLY WORRYING THINGS PEOPLE SAY WHEN YOU’RE PREGNANT:

“I made it to twenty weeks too, but don’t think you’re out of the danger zone. I won’t even tell you what happened to me.”

“Do you think this one will stick around?” (Said to person with previous multiple miscarriages.)

“How did your screening go? Everything OK? Because, you know, at your age…” (Said to person in early forties.)

“Look. What will be will be. If you lose it before twelve weeks, it’s just nature’s way of doing natural selection.” (Said – completely unprompted – to eight-week pregnant person who had previously not even considered the possibility that she might lose her baby. She didn’t lose her baby, by the way.)

Please do add your own contributions in the comments below – I need to do a whole other discussion on “things people say when you have no kids” because a few people mentioned that on Twitter. I think that those comments are the most soul-destroying and upsetting, especially when you are trying and/or struggling to conceive, or perhaps have failed in your attempts and are trying to come to terms with it. Again, I’m under no illusion that people generally mean well – it’s just age-old cliché and an inability to think of something to say that takes over your brain…

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baby bump

I meant to say in last week’s diary entry, but it was a short one and I forgot: I feel as though I keep jinxing myself a little bit when it comes to pregnancy ailments. Basically, I have had nothing to really complain about, health-wise, throughout my entire second and third trimesters. All of the “common symptoms” that I was half dreading and half (in a weird way) looking forward to simply failed to materialise; the insomnia, spots, the huge amounts of weight gain, the constant hunger, the indigestion and swollen boobs and backaches and foot-aches and all of the other things that seem to be regular compliants. Flatulence, constipation, headaches, cravings, mood-swings – me? Nada.

Until last week. No sooner had I told someone on Twitter that I had had “very few pregnancy ailments since the first trimester ended” than I developed the most annoying sore throat and cough and cold. I literally couldn’t breathe through my nose and had to sleep in a semi-sitting position. (Still am, actually, though feeling marginally better today.) Now I know that a cold isn’t really a true pregnancy “side effect” because everyone gets colds, but still: jinx!

I’m going to do a little run-down of the symptoms I have had during pregnancy so far on a little timeline thing, because I had most of my ailments right at the start. (In fact I couldn’t even walk with my head upright for about four months, I felt so sick, so maybe the smoother months that followed were a kind of reward!) Only now (36 weeks tomorrow) am I starting to get the little niggles that I imagined I would; having to go to the loo for a wee every hour, getting swollen ankles if I walk too far…

Breast leakage! I almost forgot to tell you! Sorry of this is too much information, or “TMI” as they say on the pregnancy forums (don’t go on there, it’s the fastest way to mess with your own head), but something is definitely going on in the mammary department. The troops seem to be gathering forces. I don’t know what the hell they’re producing, but it’s burning holes straight through my Wacoal soft bras. I’m beginning to think that maybe I’m an alien and lactating some kind of acid. I asked the midwife but she just laughed. I pointed out that some beauty treatments use lactic acid as a kind of exfoliant; she didn’t laugh at that, but whether that was because she was completely weirded out or simply dumbfounded by my wealth of beauty knowledge I do not know. She finished my blood pressure in silence.

I’ve had two minor breakdowns this week: the first when I was told that I wouldn’t be back in my house for ANOTHER four weeks after the extended-extended building deadline. I just felt at the end of my tether. It means moving to another holiday let after the next one we’re in, and it means faffing about from place to place with a newborn, rather than just having the baby, waiting it out two weeks and returning home once and for all. Second minor breakdown was last night at 2am when I started Googling (DO NOT DO THIS) about coughs in late pregnancy. “My doctor told me that severe coughing can start premature labour” said one woman. “Well my coughing ruptured a vein and the baby nearly died,” said another. Christ! I only logged on to see if I could take that sugary cough linctus stuff to stop my throat tickling! By the time I turned off my iPhone I was convinced that I had two fatal viruses, needed an extra ultrasound to check the baby’s development and could possibly go into early labour if I coughed violently just one more time. Bad Doctor Google.

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34 weeks pregnancy diary

Creeping in with my 34 week pregnancy diary mere minutes before the deadline (Monday is my “new pregnancy week” day and it’s ten to midnight) and I must warn you from the start that this is a short-but-sweet entry. For two reasons. Firstly, I have moved house – again! – and the holiday let I’m in this time has even slower internet than the last one. It’s simply outrageous – I don’t think I’m on anything faster than dial-up speed, so trying to write a blog post and upload an image for it takes about five years.

Secondly, after a Week 33 of everyone telling me how well I looked and me (kind of smugly, I’ll admit) going on about how I hadn’t really had any particularly nasty pregnancy “side effects”, I managed to catch a bad cold and have spent the last couple of days in bed. So really, I’m postponing this week’s diary with the intent of writing about my thoughts over the next week. Hopefully the internet will perk up once it stops raining. Or something. Please send faster-internet-vibes my way!

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