Monday, 25 January 2016

Why am I waiting?

Every morning I wake up wondering if today is the day I will meet my second daughter. Every night I go to sleep wondering if I will be woken by contractions (or explosive waters breaking like one of my friends).

So far baby girl 2 is staying put, happily wiggling away in her warm, safe cocoon.

It is the waiting game that most pregnant ladies and their partners go through. With full term considered from 37 weeks anyone who doesn't have an unexpectedly early arrival may spend up to 5 weeks thinking "any day now".

People are probably bored of my partner’s response at work saying "yes the meeting is fine, but it's around that baby's due date so I might not be here". I'm definitely bored of making arrangements with the proviso I might have to cancel last minute.

I'm getting an increasing number of messages from friends asking how I'm doing. My reply always a variation of ”I’m good thanks, still no sign of baby".

It's a strange combination of feelings waiting for a baby to arrive.

I'm uncomfortable and limited physically in what I can do. This means no sitting around for long periods (in fact no sitting unless it's on my birth ball or on the edge of a chair), no long walks, no heavy lifting, as little bending as possible, naps are ok, but lead to sleepless nights and I never want to be too far from a toilet.

I am bored of waiting and being uncomfortable and have been doing all I can to encourage the little one to come out, but I know that as soon as my little one is born life will once again change as I know it.

However the birth goes, however she is (and let's face it I'm only going to contemplate best case scenarios right now) I know post birth I will be in a large amount of pain and exhausted. I don't really remember the birth or early weeks from when M was born. The fuzzy combination of hormones, emotions and tiredness has blurred memories (for instance I can't remember delivering the placenta at all, but I must have done). I do remember having 2 very distinct thoughts in the first few weeks: “I have lost all my dignity” due to what my body was going though physically. “This is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life” due largely to everything I was going through emotionally and getting breastfeeding established.

So while I can't remember all the details I know it is going to be hard, and this time there is an emotional and fragile 4 year old to take on the journey with me.

Why then am I hoping today is the day my baby arrives? Why am I not making the most of the status quo? Once again I need to remember to slow down, count to ten, enjoy the moment and not rush ahead.
A 40 week pregnancy bump
40 weeks bump


Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Moving Day

It happened. I survived. I didn't have the baby and I have only just got the internet back (allowing me to post this). That probably summarises my moving experience.

A few days after getting the keys to our new house I had a bit of a meltdown: What are we doing? There is so much to do! The house needs so much work!  It's too far from the station! It isn't big enough! We can't afford it! etc. I had a cry and complained to a few people. I felt totally overwhelmed.

On Sunday I spent the day at the new house with my Dad and partner watching them put together IKEA furniture. I doubt that was the most exciting day for anyone. I tried hard to keep quiet and not to unhelpfully make suggestions about how they were doing it wrong. Funnily enough all items were assembled fine without my intervention.

Next came the day of the big move. As my partner is a contractor he went off to work (to be paid) but not before I gave him a long list of last minute tasks and cried at him that I couldn't cope.

The removers came over at 8.30 am and started to pack my life into boxes. As a control freak I found this stressful, but I physically couldn't do all the packing myself without ending up broken and in labour. They stunk of smoke and their first request of "can we have a cuppa?" didn't fill me with confidence either. I pointed them in the direction of the tea making facilities and then continued to worry as they used my favourite mugs.

A moving lorry with boxes
My partner's parents came over so I had help and I used the opportunity to leave one of them overseeing the removal men while I hid in the calm of the new house and waited for our bed delivery. While I continued to worry about what I had left behind, my stress levels reduced and I avoided any further meltdowns.

Eventually the moving lorry arrived at the new house and they quickly piled the contents up in various rooms. I cringed each time they knocked into a wall or put a box down too hard and was glad to see them drive away.

When I have moved in the past the first room to be unpacked has always been the kitchen. I guess that's due to the combination of the cupboards being available and my life revolving around food. This time it was the second room I focused on and my priority was M's room.

It's important that my daughter likes the new house. Initial visits were a success after she saw the fireplaces and excitedly told me that Santa would be able to visit because we had a chimney, but I wanted to ensure her new room was welcoming. We rearranged the furniture a few times and then piled up her many toys ready for her to come back from nursery. It all went ok, except the box with half her clothes in (including her underwear) was nowhere to be seen.

I quickly discovered that I wouldn't want to employ any of the removal men as a secretary due to their unique filing system. I spent the weekend opening all the boxes to identify what exactly was where even though we had no storage to unpack most of them. Logically I would expect someone to fill a box from one location eg a cupboard, then when that was full move onto another box. This wasn't how our belongings were packed, for example the Christmas decorations which I had carefully collected together ended up in 4 different boxes, each with additional non-Christmas items from other cupboards.

Unhelpfully the boxes were poorly labelled as well, and the notes I had left on the door of each room largely ignored (my organisation had peaked with messages about where the contents should be moved to). Boxes were either marked with: kitchen, lounge, bed 1 or bed 3. As all the high priority items should have been in bedroom 1 eg our clothes and newborn baby bits, and the low priority (can be bunged in the attic) stuff in bedroom 2 this wasn't helpful.

One of the last boxes I opened, at the bottom of the pile in the spare room, contained bread and very ripe bananas. Stinky.
Very ripe bananas

So after surviving the move here are my top 10 tips for moving house:

  1. Don't do it when you are pregnant. There seems to be something about creating new life which makes people want to call up estate agents and I know a huge number of people who have ended up moving very pregnant or with a newborn. Why do we like to make life difficult for ourselves?
  2. Have a clear out starting when you decide to move. This means that you will have less to pack, but unless you are the most ruthless of sorters you will still end up moving with items you don't need and won't use again.
  3. Get packers. I asked people for advice and the overwhelming recommendation from everyone was to get someone to pack for you. It's easier, it's faster and it doesn't cost much. Even with my experience I would recommend anyone with more than a room to move gets someone else to pack for them.
  4. Get movers. I have moved in the past using just my car, with a hired van, with a man and a van and with a removal company. The easiest by far was the removal company and although the most expensive it was fastest and with least damage.
  5. Take an overnight/ weekend bag. This takes away the pressure to unpack straight away. The one box of my daughter's which I couldn't find for a few days had her underwear in, fortunately I packed a handful of spare knickers for her in my overnight bag.
  6. Take your valuables. Depending on the insurance cover of the company and your contents insurance you can replace anything which is damaged or lost, but there are some items where the value can't be measured and they can't be replaced. Moving these yourself gives you peace of mind.
  7. Hide. Watching someone else with all your worldly goods can be stressful, walking away and not watching helped me get through the morning.
  8. Have a packed lunch. The food will be in boxes up and you might be waiting around for long periods, having a packed lunch will mean you have the energy to keep going.
  9. Get help. You can't do everything on your own so whether the help is paid, offered or blackmailed it is strongly recommended.
  10. Don't expect too much. Moving into a new place can be overwhelming. Things will go wrong, you will see problems you weren't aware of, but ultimately everything will work out ok.


Thursday, 14 January 2016

How not to meet your neighbours (and rating home delivery services)

We got the keys to our new house last week and we have been spending the last week getting ready to move in. Moving from a furnished house to an unfurnished house is a big task, slightly complicated by being 38 weeks pregnant. It means I can’t lift things and I have spent a lot of time waiting around for furniture to be delivered. It has been interesting to see just how good, and bad, some delivery companies are.

One of the highlights of waiting around the new house has meant that I have now met my neighbours on both sides before even moving in. They seem lovely.

On one side we met the neighbours because they were doing some gardening. This was a good way to meet people you’re going to be living in close proximity to for a long time. It’s neutral. We had a chat over the fence in a relaxed fashion and keeping our boundaries. We introduced ourselves, met their dog and left.

The first meeting with my neighbours on the other side wasn’t so great. 

A bit of back story: our new sofas aren’t coming until March so to ensure I have something to sit on with a small baby I ordered a low cost ready made one which would be delivered quickly. When I ordered it the website said estimated delivery would be Monday. After payment I received an email saying estimated delivery Monday to Wednesday and they would contact me 2 days before to arrange delivery. By Tuesday I had heard nothing further so I called the company I ordered from. They said the delivery company had some problems with their system and that they would check to see when I can expect it to be delivered. They called me back later to say that it definitely wouldn’t be delivered that day, but that I would probably receive an text with delivery info the next day.

I didn’t.

This morning (so a day after the delivery window) I received a text at 10:46am saying it would be delivered that afternoon “ETA 2.02 and 5.02”. Like most people I am unable to be available on an unexpected day with 3 hours notice so I called the number they provided for redelivery. 6 unanswered phone calls later I googled the company and found their customer services number and called that. I eventually reached a mailbox and left a message with the requested details. I didn't get a call back.

Fast forward to 4pm when I make it to my new house I find a delivery note through the door. Not surprising that I missed the delivery. What was surprising given it was a sofa was the message which read “@6”. Normally I would have thought that meant they left it at number 6, but given the size of the delivery I couldn’t believe this was the case, surely they meant redelivery at 6?
delivery note

My next door neighbours were out so I waited until they came home just in case. It turns out they did have my sofa. I was hugely embarrassed. After speaking to them I felt mortified. The delivery company banged on my neighbour’s door waking him up (he works nights) and then forced the sofa through the door giving him no choice about accepting it.

I apologised over and over again, but then felt further embarrassed as I had to ask them if they could carry the sofa into my house or if I could come back later with someone else to move it as I was unable to move it. So before I had introduced myself to my neighbours I had been responsible for them being woken up, pissed off and quite possibly an injury as they manoeuvred the 32kg “parcel” into my house. 

Not the best way to meet your neighbours.
Sofa covered in plastic

Most companies these days outsource their deliveries. This makes economic sense, but a big part of the experience of buying online is how (and if) you receive the goods. No matter how great the product is a bad delivery can stop you wanting to order from the company again.

Rating your experience when receiving home deliveries (based on my personal experiences this month):

-Receiving information when ordering about the day the item will be delivered, unless you are housebound or have a housekeeper you probably can’t be home all day everyday. Plus 5 points
-Receiving a time slot for delivery. Many companies now send texts the morning the delivery is due so you don’t have to stay at home and listen out for the doorbell all day, too worried to have a shower or even go to the loo. Plus 5 points
The one’s which show how far away the company is are extra fun and appeal to my inner geek. Bonus 2 points
-The delivery coming at the expected time. Plus 5 points
-The delivery company calling you if there is a delay or they are at your house at there is no answer. Plus 5 points
-Receiving the item in a good condition. Plus 10 points
-The date of delivery changing without good reason. Minus 5 points
Extra 5 points lost if they don’t bother to inform you the date has changed or you just get a message saying there is a delay.
-Chucking the delivery over your fence (minus 2 points) in a cardboard box in the rain. Minus 5 points
-Leaving the delivery somewhere unsafe e.g. on your doorstep in full view of the street. Minus 5 points
-The delivery person looking at you like you are mad when you ask them to carry the item into your house as it’s too heavy for you. Minus 5 points
-The delivery never being received (although good companies normally rectify this quickly by sending out a replacement). Minus 15 points


Monday, 4 January 2016

My 10 Tasks for January

While everyone has been setting New Year's resolutions and starting their “New Year,  New You” programmes I already have a pretty busy month planned and I’m not yet thinking about the remaining 11 months of the year. Change is meant to be easier if you focus on changing one thing at a time, unfortunately life rarely lets that happen. Most of my "resolutions" for this month will happen with or without me being ready, but I’m hoping that if I achieve all ten I’ll be feeling pretty good come February.

This is what I have planned for January:

Gain weight
Yes that’s right the Christmas excess wasn’t enough for me and I would like my weight to go up this month. Not a huge amount, but I ended up losing a small amount of weight in November and December. Normally a cause of celebration, in the third trimester of pregnancy it is a little worrying. I’m fairly sure that I am losing weight and baby is getting bigger, but a reduced appetite and heartburn have meant I’m eating less than normal. That’s less protein and food of the kind the baby needs. 
I really want to make the effort to give the baby what she needs for her remaining time in side.
Weighing myself on the scales and they say there is an error
Do Less
During my last few weeks at work I was trying really hard to get as much done as possible and to handover what I could in a manageable way. This meant working really long hours and sitting down so long my body was in agony. Now I am finished with work for a while I want to look after myself a bit more. I want to have the energy to do my Physio exercises for Pelvic Girdle Pain, do my pelvic floors and sit in a position which encourages baby to engage the correct way (I’m sitting on my birthing ball as I type).

Put the Christmas decorations away and spring clean the house
My current urge to “nest” should help with this one. With my maternity leave starting and M back at nursery I should be able to get some cleaning and sorting done each day without aggravating my PGP. Sorry spiders, but it's time for you to move house.

Write thank you cards
I'm really bad at sending thank you cards (and Christmas cards and birthday cards), but I'm hoping to send a few before I forget who gave what. It’s not just cards, I still have the Christmas presents from 2014 for Uncle Chris and one of my best friends. Maybe I should be adding going to the Post Office to this list?
A thank you card by Luck and Judgement and a purple Pental pen
Have a baby
Pretty big this one. I'm 37 weeks today so there is a good chance baby girl 2 will be coming in January. If she wants to stay in the warm until February that’s ok too (although I’m not ruling out a blog post at the end of the month where I complain that I’ve had enough of pregnancy).

Move house
What do you mean having a baby is enough for one month? A house move won't be any trouble... I'm only moving a couple of miles away, but the timing could be better. I have a whole house to pack up, clean and try to get our deposit back on. Fortunately I think I have more or less persuaded G to get people in to pack for us so if I can just relax and leave them to it it should help me with January resolution 2 (Do Less).

Buy furniture
Moving is slightly complicated by us moving from a furnished house to an unfurnished one. This means a house worth of furniture to buy and assemble. My number one requirement before we move is a bed so that has already been ordered. The bulk of the other essentials will be purchased though an ikea shop and I will be asking for help to get it all together.  Unfortunately I am really bad back seat flat pack assembler and as I am a little too pregnant to do it myself (or usefully help) I am likely to be banished from the house. That seems reasonable given I would like to have a relationship to go with my new furniture.
The Multiyork sofa buyer's guide front cover
Choose schools for monkey
M is a September baby so it will finally be time for her to start school this year. She's been ready since most of her friends started last year, but I wasn't ready for her to be so grown up (and neither was the school system which base entry on birth dates). I think by September M and I will both be ready.  The local schools are oversubscribed so it's a complicated formula of putting schools in the order that might give us the best chance of a school and location we are happy with.

Spend quality time with G and M
I have really enjoyed the last 2 weeks where we have all been off work and I have got to spend lots of time with M. I know priorities will change when the baby is here and I’ll be wanting all non baby time to be filled up with sleep, but for now I am making sure we spend some time each day where we connect and fully focus on each other. Hopefully we will still make time for this in the early months with a newborn.

Make friends
Last time I was on maternity leave I was really lucky to have a lot of new mums I met and could meet up with regularly. I am still in touch with a lot of them, but even those who have had additional children won’t have babies the same age as me this time. I will still meet up with other mummy friends, but I want some new friends too who are currently going through the lack of sleep/ inability to function stage. Cuts in government funding means that some of the groups I went to no longer exist so this time it will require a bit more effort, particularly to meet second time mums who have babies, but for this month I am hoping to get my new NCT group meeting up regularly. 
I am still close friends with many of the Mum’s I met when I did NCT classes last time so with G being a first time Dad and me wanting to meet more people I decided to do classes again. They seem like another lovely group and we should be having our first post class meet up this week.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

In her words: December

At 4 years old my daughter still has a lot of words to learn, but she's starting to play around with words and meanings as well. It is great hearing the phrases she comes out with and I love the insight into her mental development they provide.

Hear is some of what M has said in December:

Walking down the vegetable aisle M points at something:
M "Potatoes!"
Me "No, they're walnuts"
M "So we can put them on the wall?"

Driving home from nursery:
M "When we get home I can open my advent calendar and you can have a bottle of wine."
Turns out she meant a cola bottle from the packet of Haribo she was eating

Eating a packet of crisps:
M "Look at this crisp, isn't it massive like a chimpanzee?"

While decorating the Christmas tree:
M "I have to put the Christmas decorations together (on the same bit of the tree) so they can talk to each other"

While I was cutting some malt loaf up for me to eat:
M "I don't like yucky wart loaf"

Leaving nursery and seeing some of her friends:
M "Yoo hoo!"

While playing:
M "My doll is laying a baby" (I can see the logic of laying an egg being similar to giving birth)

Writing a birthday card:
M "Where's the owl box?"  (She meant envelope)

After coming home from nursery:
M "Why is it so tidy in here?" (An insight into my housekeeping)

Opening her Christmas stocking:
M "I must have been very good"

Recently she's also started to make up pretend languages, but I wouldn't know how to spell any of those.