In Saturday’s Times there was an article about how Prince William might be able to travel from Anglesey to his wife’s bedside in London once she starts labour. Train and car were suggested, with the Royal helicopter being dismissed as “too expensive”. In reality, I’m sure the birth of the future monarch would definitely warrant a chopper trip – hang the expense – or else he will contrive to be closer to Kate in the last couple of weeks leading up to the due date. Although the Duke apparently wants to work right up to the birth, in common with most fathers-to-be, I’m sure no-one would mind if an exception was made in this case!
The problem is, William has to make his way from Anglesey to London. We’ve done that journey in opposite, after the volcanic ash cloud meant our flight to Dublin was cancelled. Undaunted, we booked a ferry passage instead and drove up to northwest* Wales. It was a looong drive. But it was sunny, we were on our way to a wedding, and we had ample entertainment in the form of our friends in the back seat. We even saw Dizzee Rascal on the ferry! (Whitney Houston was also apparently there but we didn’t see her…). However, I can well imagine the stress of a 4+ hour journey when with every passing minute you could be missing the birth of your firstborn child.
Every day since our arrival home, I have said, “tomorrow we will go out”, but each time another day passes where Elphaba’s world has been constrained to our flat. Both myself and Fred have been out alone (otherwise cabin fever would likely have set in), but we have left her at home with the other or on one occasion, where I went to pick up Fred from Sainsbury’s, in the petrified arms of Julia! On Thursday, I had had enough and despite the rain, took her on a stroll round the local park (nothing like the weirdos who hang around parks in the rain at 8.30pm to introduce her to the world).
But the park was easy, three minutes walk from the flat meant we could easily beat a hasty retreat if she got hungry, needed changing etc. The real challenge awaits us – a trip to the high street to engage in cosmopolitan activities like coffee (probably decaf), lunch or a spot of shopping or a trip to someone else’s flat to enhance her real estate knowledge. Such an adventure requires supplies – but there’s the tricky part, what does one need for such a mini adventure?
A few evenings ago we went round to my sister’s place. She and her flatmate were admiring my lovely, smooth, basketball-shaped belly, as I proudly pointed out my lack of stretch marks. I even wisely imparted my “skinny person” theory, which is that only thin people get stretch marks; those who are already a bit curvy are used to having their skin stretch so can accommodate a baby bump much more aesthetically. I also shared my foolproof moisturising regime. They were all ears.
Literally that night, we were preparing for the evening ritual of slathering body butter over my bump, when Mr Cath got a funny look on his face: “Er… I hate to say this, but that looks like a stretch mark.” What?! No way. I strained to see what he was talking about but couldn’t see anything – it was too low down. He persuaded me to stay in bed rather than leap up for a mirror by suggesting it might have been the creases in my top that had caused it. I tried to forget.
But first thing the next morning, I immediately made my way to our full-length mirror and there they were: not just one stretch mark, but a cluster! All located on my lower tummy area, below the belly button. I briefly felt foolish about the night before, then realised that I must have not pulled my trousers down far enough – there’s no chance my sister would have seen them and not said something! What are sisters for? (“your face is round”; “you bulge out at the sides”; “you’ve got Walmart feet” etc).
If I’d given birth at 36 or even 37 weeks I would have escaped stretch marks entirely, as they appeared a day after the 37-week point. I really felt like I was nearly there, on the home stretch so to speak. That’s one thing Elly got away with! Oh, the perils of late pregnancy…
It is now twelve days since the birth of our daughter and yet still she has no name. At this rate, Cath will have popped hers out and named it before we have.
Girls’ names were always the tricky ones for us. We had a shorter list of boys names and had more alignment in our tastes, so naming a boy would likely have been easier. A girl is harder. Going in we had a “short” list of twenty names, none of which were sure fire favourites for both of us – either one of us really liked it and the other was neutral or we both quite liked it (this blog post describes exactly the kind of discussions we were having). So we thought we’d wait to see what popped out, and if it was a girl then hopefully she would just look like one of the names.
I’ve never been completely sure about the word “pregnant”. It conjures up the idea of impregnation, which is rather biological for me (in my head it is associated with words like insemination, which quite frankly I could do without thinking about too closely).
My favourite substitute is probably “expecting”, especially when with Mr Cath – “we’re expecting” just sounds so much more warm and positive than “I’m pregnant”. It was a team effort after all and we will be equal as parents, despite the fact I’m the one to have carried our baby around for nearly nine months now.
But what other terms are there for my current state? It’s a bit late now as my condition is so obvious, but I decided to investigate a few other labels a pregnant lady can describe herself with:
I find this a bit too slang and while it’s somehow ok to gossip about someone being preggers in the third person (e.g. “do you think she’s preggers?”) I wouldn’t use it to describe myself – it’s too flippant a word for something so special!
The following is the post I was writing from hospital on the Sunday morning before I went into labour. I figured I would share it with you just for kicks and because it explains a bit more about the condition I had developed. When writing this I was quite frustrated about being cooped up in hospital for potentially another 8 days (till I hit full term at 37 weeks) and had grand plans to persuade the doctors to allow me to be released and treated as an outpatient. Little did I know that the doctors were conspiring against me (and planned to induce me on Sunday) or that the alien had its own plans for a great escape that day. All I can say is that I am pretty glad I was in hospital in the end!
So it seems that itchiness all over without any rash is a bit more serious than I thought. At the consultants’ appointment on Friday, I told them about it and the obstetric consultant ordered a blood test to check my liver function. When I asked him if it was likely to be something else, he was pretty confident that the test would come back positive for some kind of liver malfunction. So from being super bored with me from when I started at the clinic to now, when really I was an interesting haematology case but not very exciting from an obstetrics point of view, suddenly it was all over to him, the haematologist could sit back and relax.
At the NCT breastfeeding class we attempted a “fun” quiz. Along with questions about hormones and other exciting things, we were asked which foods breastfeeding ladies were not supposed to eat. Good question! Not being able to eat what I want has honestly been one of the most challenging aspects of pregnancy. I had heard of people eating Brie sandwiches immediately after birth but wasn’t sure whether this was due to them formula feeding… equally, I was vaguely aware that you’re not supposed to drink too much alcohol or caffeine as it comes out in the milk and bothers your baby. In other words, I wasn’t sure, and neither were most of the others. We thought perhaps nuts and dairy should be avoided in case the baby had an allergy… and generally eating really healthily should be encouraged.
So according to all sources, the Duchess is considering a hypnobirth for her little Prince/Princess. The word “hypno” immediately suggests hypnosis; however, hypnobirthing is in fact nothing to do with Paul McKenna and everything to do with promoting a natural and pain-free labour.
The Hypnobirthing Centre describes the practice as a “completely logical and extremely effective established method that lets you discover the joy and magic of birth, and is much more than just self-hypnosis or hypnotherapy.” The idea of hypnobirthing is that your mind and body work together in harmony, creating a sense of deep relaxation and calm. This leads to a much better birth experience all round: a shorter labour and less need for drugs. Hynobirthing encompasses fear release techniques, visualisation exercises, reciting mantras and massage (you’ll need a partner for that bit). The “hypno” part of the word actually points towards self-hypnosis, which sounds a whole lot more appealing than staring into kaleidoscope eyes or at a swinging pendulum. As well as courses, there are CDs and books available on the subject so you can effectively self-train.
And I’m back. Huge thanks to Cath for keeping the show on the road while I grappled with a rather unexpected turn of events.
This is my labour story…
I will leave the explanation of how I ended up in hospital to another post – I was in the middle of writing one when rudely interrupted by my waters breaking, so I think I’ll post that just for fun at a later date.
But there I was on Sunday, in hospital, feeling very sorry for myself having been stuck in there since Friday evening. I was busily writing a blog post and and was in the middle of adjusting my very attractive olive green hospital-issue compression stockings (do they make them olive green so they are unattractive to steal?) when I felt a flow of water entering the bed. I quickly pressed the emergency button and two midwives came to my rescue. I must have looked completely panicked as my memory of my side of the ensuing conversation went something like:
“I think my waters have broken”, “How can they have broken, I’m only 35 weeks?”, “I don’t know anything about labour – my NCT classes are due next weekend!”. So while they went to find something to mop me up with, I rang Fred who was running late to visit me due to having been left with a scavenger hunt for various items I had decided I wanted to pass the time in hospital (where was that uno pack?!) and told him to get in on the double as my waters had broken – I think the level of panic in my voice must have been quite special at that moment!