Hi. I’m Rebecca, and I’ve been invited by Cath and Elly to write a guest post for the blog. I hope you won’t consider me an impostor. You see, I understand that ‘Having Kittens’ is all about being a parent and the highs and lows and ‘aargh, which choice do I make’ moments that come with that honour. Elly and Cath have both shared their experiences from the early dilemmas of pregnancy, to first birthdays and beyond. They have loved their sprogs since the pink line appeared, and have cooed over each little milestone. I’m going to tell you about a different route into parenthood, from a different angle. You see, I’m what they call a ‘prospective parent’ – in other words, I’m not actually a parent at all. There’s no pink line, no scan picture, no cute photo of a child pulling a silly face, and no anecdotes to share yet. But I hope one day there will be – some of those things at least.
I’m preparing to be a parent. I’m preparing to adopt.
Recently, more and more people have been casually mentioning/joking about the “Next One”.
Pip has only just turned 11 months old, but is bigger than most of his contemporaries, including many who are walking (he’s still 98th percentile for height) and I think my well-meaning commentators are starting to see him more as a toddler, i.e. old enough to be a big brother.
While understanding that conception is a miracle and we are incredibly fortunate to have been blessed with one child, it is fun to speculate about when the next one might arrive – if it does, of course. Just because we have little or no control over this doesn’t stop me wondering… it’s like being pregnant and fantasising about whether the bump is a boy or a girl.
Elly has already extolled the virtues of taking your baby out in the evening here, and while I can appreciate the benefits of being accompanied by a little wingperson, this isn’t something that Mr Cath and I have really done much with Pip. After the first few months, during which his sleep was all over the place anyway, we introduced earlier bedtimes and have proceeded with baby-free evenings ever since. Although it initially made perfect sense for Pip’s first and longest sleep to correspond with ours, this ultimately wore thin and after discovering why baby monitors exist we haven’t looked back. As for actually venturing out of the house, these exciting occasions have been adults-only.
I suppose we could take him out asleep – in the carseat or buggy or whatever – but why would we do that, when instead we can employ one of the most joy-inducing concepts known to parent: the babysitter!
We made our way through the deserted hospital to the labour ward, pausing for a contraction in the lobby area while a completely uninterested man with a cleaning trolley continued to carry out his work around me.
I was directed to Triage which is basically an assessment area where they decide how serious things are. Rather than the row of plastic chairs we’d been warned about at NCT, we had a booth with a curtain around it and I could relax on the bed or yoga ball. At this point they examined me and discovered I was 4cm dilated! So while falling short of the ideal 6-7cm you should be on getting to hospital, I was definitely too far gone to be sent back home. Having heard stories of women who’d been only a couple of cm and demanding an epidural already, I even felt quite pleased with myself!
It was around now that things started to go a bit pear-shaped.
On my discharge notes from the hospital it says that my labour was 5 hours and 9 minutes.
I’m a bit peeved this is on my record and assume it must refer to the bit following the moment my waters broke, as my contractions had in reality gone on for a LOT longer than that! Although when I tell people it took 31 hours to birth Pip, I don’t mean it was 31 hours of constant pain… it was actually only those last hours that were truly challenging and the rest was mainly just exhausting.
My due date had come and gone (sorry Americans) and I was gearing myself up for a sweep. However, on the Monday evening, 4 days after I was due, I started to feel something. It was like fairly mild period pain, a constant ache in my tummy. I’d actually experienced this before at around week 37, and this had been the one time I’d rung the hospital to check I wasn’t going into labour. They told me at the time that a constant ache wasn’t anything to be concerned about – when the pain started coming and going, this meant contractions!
To this day I don’t know whether these two incidences were Braxton Hicks contractions or not. The NHS leaflet I was given about signs of labour said they are “painless” but then in the same paragraph compared them to “period pain” which all sounds pretty contradictory to me.
Anyway, whatever this pain was, I was able to sleep as normal that night, although I woke up a bit early the next morning with exactly the same feeling (6:20am… it’s funny what particular details stick in your mind!) Until our alarm went off at 7am I occupied myself by reading the news on the Kindle – a good idea in retrospect as I wouldn’t be aware of any current affairs for the next week! As soon as Mr Cath woke up I told him I felt the same pain, but he should still go into work as it was probably nothing to worry about. He must have seen something in my face as he insisted on working from home; sure enough, by 8am the pains were definitely receding then intensifying. These were contractions!
Firstly, a big thank you to Elly for single-handedly maintaining the blog over the past weeks!
We’re gradually settling in at home, Mr Cath has returned to work, and it’s time to get back in the blog saddle. Thanks readers for bearing with me… Having a baby has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but also the most amazing. This mix of emotions combined with sleep deprivation has been interesting!
There is a lot I want to write about – for example, my labour story and the ups and downs of our first week at home. I also want to share some coping tips of my own, describe what was most and least useful in my hospital bag, and conclude the tale of my labour playlist.
In order to re-enter the world of Having Kittens I have had to get to grips with typing with one finger on my first ever smartphone (I know to other people it’s just called a “phone” these days, but to me the thing is frighteningly intelligent). To enable said typing I’ve learned I don’t need to cling on with both hands while breastfeeding, and indeed he won’t unlatch if I stop watching his intent little face. And now my crescent-shaped breastfeeding pillow has arrived (yes, I said I didn’t need one, but I got desperate) I have even been embarking on hands-free feeding.
Speaking of Him, that brings me to the main point of it all! Yes, I eventually had my kitten and provided a long-awaited playmate for Elphie.
So we have made it to July… and it is becoming impossible to ignore that by the end of this month there will be a little friend for Elphaba.
But when will its birthday be? What will the labour and birth experience be like? And most excitingly: will it be a boy or a girl? Lots of questions to entertain myself while I lie awake at 4am after my seventeenth trip to the bathroom!
As much as friends and colleagues seem to be coping with a general transition into pregnancy bore (my team endured a fascinating lecture on the foramen ovale this week), a few have commented that their patience may not last beyond the 9 months and that becoming a baby bore would be a step too far.
But there’s the rub – at the moment I can pepper my pregnancy talk with amusing anecdotes about work (for those who find You’ve Been Framed amusing) or commentary on exciting social events I have been to or general salacious gossip. But what am I going to be able to talk about when I am under house arrest spending my time feeding, changing and washing? What exciting (and especially non-baby) anecdotes will I be able to come up with then?
Awesome tune from The Pet Shop Boys (not so awesome video), although counter-intuitively it’s about them never being boring despite calling the song “Being Boring”, but what can you do?