Sunday, 27 December 2015

One Month to go?

I'm now 36 weeks pregnant so as people keep telling me this means that I could have the baby any day now. It might also mean she's 6 weeks away. It's a fun waiting game. Every time I have any of the signs of early labour I feel the need to share with my partner that the baby might be coming. I'm fairly sure that when I do go into labour he won't believe me.

I'm feeling good with my PGP, restless legs and heartburn not yet getting any worse, and only an increase in backaches and getting increasingly out of breath as my lung capacity gets squished.

The reality that the baby could be here is making me panic slightly about what I need to get ready. I've lost count of the number of times I've said I need to pack my hospital bag, but is it packed yet? Maybe tomorrow.

Ten things I will be putting in my hospital bag:
  • Change for parking at the hospital.
  • Chocolate (I haven't been able to eat any for ages due to my heartburn, but having something to keep my energy up during or post labour would be helpful so I plan to reunite myself with my favourite food).
  • A bikini top and t-shirt. I hope to have a water birth, but I'm not keen on the idea of having so many spectators to my nudity.
  • A breastfeeding nightdress, bra and socks so I can do ward chic.
  • My phone charger (I'm hoping not to be in hospital for long, but my phone is always an essential)
  • Baby wipes. With my daughter I thought I would get in trouble with midwives if I used wipes instead of cotton wool. Then I tried cleaning merconium poo with cotton wool and water. Wipes it is.
  • Newborn nappies.
  • Newborn baby clothes, something cute for the early pictures.
  • A present for M from her baby sister.
  • A going home outfit for me. Something comfortable and stretchy.
And ten things I probably won't:
  • A mini bottle of champagne
  • Paper pants. I would rather buy some cheap big cotton ones and chuck them away afterwards, I can't believe paper pants are comfortable.
  • A video camera. I have half jokingly asked my partner to take some photo's from the business end though.
  • My DSLR. While I would love to have some beautiful newborn pictures I don't think I want to be worrying about the safety of my camera while I'm in labour.
  • Mood lighting. It was suggested on my NCT course that the lighting in hospital rooms isn't helpful for a relaxed labour and we might want to bring some more gentle lighting?
  • Music. Another suggestion for a more relaxed labour, but I'm not sure I would be comfortable boogieing around the labour ward.
  • Formula/ bottles. If I have problems establishing breastfeeding this time round there will be time to buy these and I would rather hand express into a syringe.
  • Anything to read. I'll have my phone with kindle app, but I hope to not spend so long in hospital that I'll want to do lots of reading.
  • Body lotion or anything to confuse the baby from my "special scent".
  • Teddies etc for baby. They only entertainment my baby will need is me, and maybe her Dad.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents

I have some empathy with Jo March. Christmas isn't just about presents, but a big part of Christmas is about traditions. These vary from family to family and evolve over time, but we all have things that we do at Christmas time which help us feel Christmassy and enjoy ourselves more.

In the Press recently there have been articles about the differences across the world in what is eaten for Christmas dinner, what Father Christmas is called and how people celebrate. But even in a "traditional English " celebration there are so many varieties.

As you grow up Christmas happens in a particular way in your household, which can make it difficult when you meet someone and you start spending Christmas together. You have to choose whether you spend Christmas with one of your families (and their traditions) or if you start again and combine the bits which mean the most to each of you.
4 year old and Christmas tree
My ex and I started our own Yuletide traditions and Christmas Day had formed a sort of routine. Last Christmas we had split up, but still spent the day together so we could both be with our daughter.

This Christmas Day is the first I will spend with my new partner. We have spent time talking about what is important to each of us and trying to include what's important. I'll admit I have much stronger views than G, but often people don't even realise what they have done year after year is different to other families or means a lot to them until it's changed.

This year is extra hard because I'll only have my daughter until midday. Due to pregnancy and my ever bubbling horrible heartburn I'll also be missing out on booze, clementines and chocolate! These all normally feature heavily in my plans.

Ten things that make Christmas for me:

A decorated Christmas tree lit up with lightsHaving a tree and decorating the house. I'm a fan of real tree's, not so much because fake trees are less attractive (some are fab), but with a real tree you don't have to find storage for the other 11 months of the year. I spent too many years trying to lift a heavy tree up into the attic each January.  

My Christmas tree has gone up early the last couple of years as I think it helps my daughter (and I) get Christmas started. The tree may go up early December, but despite this I think decorations should come down on Twelfth Night (so 6th January). The 12 days of Christmas start Christmas Day and I think it's sad that so many people are bored of Christmas before the New Year starts.

Wrapping presents while drinking a snowball and listening to Christmas tunes. My shopping is normally done before December starts so I can get my wrapping done nice and early too.

Having friends and family over during the Christmas period and generally trying to encourage them to eat too much food is one of my favourite bits of Christmas.

Saving all the presents until Christmas Day. I'm a fan of choosing a present to open Christmas Eve, although a Christmas Eve box has sneaked in the last couple of years. 
Santa's magic key
I like to open presents after lunch, because it always feels a bit of an anti-climax when they have been ripped open. Since my daughter has been born I have made the concession that she can start opening her presents earlier, this is mostly because she always gets so many and opening present after present without opening them all to play with isn't that exciting for her.

Christmas stockings are delivered over night by Father Christmas and can be opened as soon as people wake up. They appear upstairs and should be opened in PJs/ nightdresses. Contents varies but chocolate coins and clementines are essential.
A pretend reindeer head with party poppers on it's antlers
Christmas dinner, or lunch, starts between 2 and 4 and lasts for pretty much the rest of the day. I'm not concerned about a starter, but the main course, pudding and cheese course generally are so filling that large pauses are needed between each one.

I haven't had turkey for years as I haven't had enough people around the table, but the bird (normally a chicken) should be accompanied by pigs in blankets, roast parsnips, carrots, sprouts, stuffing (sage & onion), gravy, bread sauce, roast potatoes.

I'm not a big drinker any more, but Christmas is still synonymous with booze. From the champagne for breakfast to spirits, beer and wine. There end up being a lot of glasses to wash on Boxing Day.

Whatever makes Christmas for you I hope you have a great one?
Close up of tree with decorations

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Pregnancy Bingo

There are many things I love about being pregnant. Getting a seat on the Tube and feeling my baby moving around in my tummy are my top two, but let's face it, pregnancy is hard work. I'm not sure if it is worse for the pregnant woman or her partner who has to put up with support her. Actually I do, it is much worse for us ladies.

The bingo grid below with a white rectangle covering most of it and the words: Pregnancy Bingo, Will you get a full house?


Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Back with a Bump

What do you mean you didn't notice I was gone? And you over there, what do you mean, who am I? Maybe it's time for some reintroductions. I'll go first.

My name is Kate. Unfortunately that isn't unique enough for social media so on Instagram and Twitter you will find me under the cunning pseudonym @EssexKate. It's inventive huh? 

Guess where I live? Yep, Essex. Just on the edge in a lovely place called Loughton. Once upon a time it was much less known than the neighbouring Chigwell. Now Loughton has become famous thanks to TOWIE (The Only Way Is Essex well illustrates some of our residents, but isn't representative of everyone. My skin for instance is closer to the colour of milk than an orange. I also don't say "reem", "vajazzle" or "well jel", well maybe the last one).

Since the last time I was blogging my personal life has changed a wee bit. I am no longer with my husband (sad face) but I have a lovely supportive partner we'll call G (big smiley face). Yes there is a story there, but too many people are still too raw for me to share.

My beautiful daughter M is now 4 years old. She continues to drive me crazy, make me laugh, fill me with warmth and make me cry. I wouldn't change her for the world.

Family photograph by Leah Van Zyl

I have a bump. It's quite big now. In fact I'm just about to finish work for a year. By which I mean the paid work that I commute to every week day. As anyone who has had a baby knows the real work is the kind that is 24/7 and involves a small crying, pooping bundle of awesomeness. That work is meant to start at the end of January.

It's been a tough few years. My life plan laughed in my face and went skipping off to a theme park. I was made redundant a year after coming back from my last maternity leave. I got a new job. I decided I wasn't happy with the new job, and got another one at the same place. The people I work with now are lovely, supportive and generally a great bunch of people who work very hard. I work for the NHS.

To accompany all the job changes my marriage broke down. I used to believe marriage should last forever and you should work at it no matter what. At some point I had to choose between staying in my marriage and finding a way to be happy again. I chose me.

Choosing me wasn't without it's drawbacks, the biggest of which is now I only have my beautiful daughter 50% of the time. It is great that her Dad wants to be involved, but I miss her whenever she's away.

It has taken my daughter a long time to adjust to the separation and she still says things like "I wish you and Daddy lived together", but she is settled, happy and doing well. The challenging behaviour as she starts to realise the possible impact of having a younger sibling is creeping in though.
32 Weeks and a bump
32 weeks and a silly face
I've spent a lot of time reflecting on how I got here. Trying to truly appreciate what I have, how lucky I am, what is great about me and my limitations. I don't want to forget the past and I don't want to make the same mistakes again. 

So there are 10 things about me. Just a quick "Hello" really. Feel free to say "hi". I look forward to catching up with you all now I'm back.