I think I knew my chances of blogging were low during September and October.
They say your second trimester is the time to feel radiant, enjoy your pregnancy and crack on with getting everything ready for baby’s arrival. So it proved.
Plus for me, working full-time in a pretty full-on job, September means only one thing: weeks away from home at the big trade fairs for my industry.
Doing the fairs pregnant was interesting. You learn how much you rely on the crutch of a glass of warm white wine to make being away from home and talking shop from 8am to 10pm bearable. I ended up wearing my TfL baby on board badge to guarantee a seat at seminars and presentations (worked a treat). My lovely missus (who can work from anywhere) based herself from my hotel room for a few days to make things more manageable (and, I think, reassure herself that I wasn’t overdoing it). And because you have to have fun even when pregnant, I joined my team for a karaoke session – though sober karaoke is a thing of horror!
The other big change from early September is how much stuff we have got for little one now. The most exciting purchase was wheels for me – I now am the proud owner of an electric blue Ford Kuga, just right to transport little one when they arrive. Yes, we live in zone one and now have two big cars. But no way am I driving my missus’ Mercedes SUV (I would live in fear of scratching it), and carless life with a baby when the missus is away for work is impractical.
We now also have:
- An all-black iCandy Orange with pram and seat
- A Maxi-Cosi Pebble Plus car seat and two isofix bases
- A Snuzpod crib to go next to our bed
- A Mothercare cot and changing table
- A baby bouncer
- A changing bag and mat
And of course mountains of new and new-to-us clothes, blankets, cuddly toys, plus a skyscraper of nappies and wipes.
Key item still to get is a Sleepyhead Deluxe – I’m holding out til Black Friday to grab that.
Over the past few weeks we’ve cleared out our wardrobes and all the junk we’d accumulated in our spare room, and moved lots into storage to make room for our little one and their kit. And we’ve had workmen in to finish off a few jobs around the flat.
So finally we’re nearly ready. All we need to do now is get all the furniture up and into the spare room, and make it nice for our little pea. Oh, and pack a hospital bag (I’ll share my list in another post). And complete the Positive Birth Company’s hypnobirthing digital course. And do our NCT class (starts this Thursday – I’ll report back). And of course somehow get through Christmas…
Medical care over the past few months has felt pretty hands-off (not that I am complaining – far better that than having things go wrong). I had my third midwife appointment three weeks ago, and I have another this week. Everything looks fine.
I had my gestational diabetes test last Friday – people had told me horror stories about throwing up partway through after the glucose drink, but if I’m honest I was more bothered by sitting on a hard waiting room chair for two hours. Hoping I don’t have it – I just have to get through tomorrow with no call and I’m out of the woods.
At 30 weeks I am pretty big, and the bump is nicely round. I absolutely love my shape (bump and D-cup boobs!) and am taking advantage by wearing tight dresses and tops that I would never wear usually. Not caring about your tummy sticking out is a huge perk of pregnancy – I’ll miss this when it’s gone. Anxiety about being and looking fat has been a constant in my adult life – to have several months off dieting and worrying about whether I look nice has been a joy. My skin and hair is gorgeous – I am one of those lucky women who genuinely is blooming.
Physically, I have very few symptoms – and yes, I know I’m lucky. I have a spot of heartburn, a little backache, tiredness when I overdo things – and nothing more.
The only other pregnancy symptom of note has been tears – I have always cried when very angry and frustrated, and anything now can make me cry. The mere suggestion that my missus might leave me alone for a moment during labour (the subject of an unfortunate joke at a recent family dinner) sees my throat constricting and my eyes prickling. Tough work conversations have also led to tears, which is embarrassing in the extreme.
One of my big helps has been joining a Facebook group of women all due to give birth in early 2019. Several hundred women, all from the UK, all going through the same sort of things at the same time. Incredibly useful about everything from symptoms of pre-eclampsia, what to put in a hospital bag, questions to ask your midwife and dilemmas around feeding.
Not so welcome has been the continual warfare about vaccinations – I hadn’t realised that the anti-vaxxers were still so numerous. I don’t argue – just state that I will be vaccinating myself and my little one. A lifetime in comms has taught me that presenting evidence doesn’t change minds, nor does guilt-tripping people, but emotional appeals can do, and knowing that “mums like us” are getting their kids jabbed can help normalise it. So I try to add that to conversations. Some of the mums have tried to make the conversation about education and (thinly-veiled) class, which is about as helpful as you can imagine. I wish there were easily available best practice about how to promote vaccinations – if anyone sees any research evidence on communicating pro-vax messaging I’d love to read it. All I can find is some of the nudge theory stuff, which is sensible and effective – it’s all about booking the post-natal jab appointments immediately following birth, so it’s just the next thing you do.
I am always interested in the domestic tales of the women in the group too. Lots have lovely male partners, but some have men that sound so uncaring and careless of their pregnant girlfriend’s feelings. I know I’m only hearing one side of the story, but straight couples always make me so glad of coming home to my missus. She’s just fab – ordering me pregnancy pillows, surprising me with new dresses, totally involved in every bit of this pregnancy.
Another thing I find hard about the Facebook group is how many expectant mums are having a hard time. I have shared housing and domestic violence info and helplines, advised people to join a union more times than I can count, and even shared the Samaritans helpline number. And as for some of the financial situations the girls on the group find themselves in… nothing makes me hate this government’s austerity more than thinking of the support they should have had, the SureStarts that should have been there to help them, the maternity grant they should have got to pay for stuff, the breastfeeding groups that have lost their funding, the childcare offer that surely would have been near-universal by now, if Labour hadn’t lost in 2010. Instead I am sharing the contact details for foodbanks and baby banks – neither of which should exist in the fifth richest country in the world.
You can tell from the political rant that I still feel like me, most of the time. We went on holiday to the Canarian sunshine in early November, at 27/28 weeks, and I read, ate out, napped and swam – and we partied pretty hard too. Turns out as long as I have a chair to sit on in the bar, no alarm clock in the morning and a nap mid-afternoon, this pregnant mama still loves to dance in high heels!
Plus I got 11 books read on holiday, taking my year’s total to 91. I am going to hit the target of 100 in 2018 – and then will junk any and all reading targets for 2019 (though I have invested in Audible to keep some reading going!)
At work, things are progressing nicely. We appointed my cover (and I was pleased both that there were lots of great external applicants, and that one of my team beat them all to get appointed – that’s what you want, to run a team where people can develop and progress).
Back in August I wrote my objectives for the period before my maternity leave, and I’m well on the way to getting them done. I’ll share them here in case it helps others (obviously this doesn’t include responding to all the shit that just comes up, which I still do, but writing objectives does help me focus on what I want to get done, and I would recommend the practice to anyone, especially if you are senior and self-managing):
- Complete the 2018 annual review and set 2019 objectives for each member of my team (2 months ahead of schedule, so my cover doesn’t have to do this in his first few weeks)
- Complete annual budgeting round for team
- Complete team plan and KPIs for 2019
- Sort out some nagging personnel issues (get some short-term contracts extended, sort grades, reporting lines etc)
- Negotiate a way forward for a project that will end while I am on maternity leave
- Appoint a cover post plus backfill for my cover’s substantive post
- Write a full handover for my cover, and draft his objectives to agree with our CEO
- Sail like a swan through it all!
I finish on 21 December, and I’m off til 1 August 2019. Maternity leave will be a total break from work and from work things – my first in 18 years working full time. If holidays are any guide, I’ll worry dreadfully about getting everything done as I prepare to leave, and then leave it all behind me as soon as I’m out of the door.
I can’t say I’m not worried about going back, but I have set everything up as well as I can, and I trust my team to make good decisions. Everyone I’ve spoken to says that by about 6 months in, you’re ready to be your work self as well as Mama again – I hope that’s true! We’ll find out in August 2019.
So there we are. 30 weeks pregnant, sailing through as the weeks sail by. Looking forward to meeting our little one in the new year.