Now don’t get me wrong, I usually love a plan. In fact normally if I don’t have a plan I feel completely and utterly lost. And as we’ve hit the 36 week mark there are apparently a whole list of things I ought to be doing in preparation for the arrival of pudding #2.
I’m also reminded however that the last four weeks absolutely suck, as I waddle up and down hills, unable to sleep or paint my own toe nails, thinking to myself the pregnancy glow has vanished and it’s time to serve notice and evict the squatter who has taken up residency in my body.
Hindsight is of course a great thing and I’m sure during my pregnancy with Otto, my life was slightly less chaotic and things were more ‘ordered’ than they are currently, given that most of our worldly pocessions are still in storage. However with hindsight there is a realisation that actually no plan is full proof and the rich tapestry that is life keeps us on our toes.
This is important to keep in mind in the last few weeks of pregnancy. My priority currently is to get through the day relatively unscathed, washed, playgroups negotiated, food on table, toddler tamed to a degree and find my way to bed at a reasonable hour, managing a hot cuppa and the chance to catch a few words of conversation with my husband on route.
So, what would I tell my first time pregnant self in the run up to D day and shortly afterwards…?
1. By all means write a birth plan but this should be no way set in stone, no matter how determined you are to go au natural throughout the action. You can’t really control how things are going to unravel.The best plans are very, very flexible, skeletal and open to new ideas as new events unfold. And if you’re feeling the pressure to avoid any form of pain relief, don’t. Remember it’s not a competition and in the case of delivering a tiny human being drugs really do work if time allows, regardless of what our Mother Earth NCT teacher attempted our group to embrace. Needless to say I wasn’t on her page.
2. I’m sure you’ve seen the beautiful pictures of people’s flat lay’s as they prepare to pack their hospital bags; new pjs, long cashmere cardigan, rose water spray, Molton Brown wash set and a gorgeous new going home outfit for both them and their new prodigy. Let’s just stop there. You’re not going away on a luxury mini break (wishful thinking!) and there really is no place for candles and champagne in a birthing centre, despite what our NCT teacher again suggested (by now you’re getting the idea that NCT thinking and my thinking spectacularly clashed!).
Think instead,dark coloured Primarche (otherwise known as Primark) pj’s, long cardigan, BIG comfy M&S cotton knickers, comfy maternity leggings, long top, nipple cream and pads and thick maternity pads. As for snacks, this is not the time for low sugar healthy eating, this is the time for Percy pigs and cartons of juice with a straw. Hotel minatures are ideal for your wash bag (handily Geoff used to stock pile these by the bagful when on away games), two towels (Geoff decided to use mine first time round as it had been hard graft on the sidelines), moisturiser, lip balm, as well as baby wipes. Best get packing and don’t forget nappies, sleep suits, vests, a cardigan, a hat and blankets for the little one.
3. Don’t be so stubborn not to ask for help and support in the run up to your due date. You’re exhausted, emotional and need sleep, especially if you’re at home all day looking after a mini dictator who is sapping your attention at every opportuniy. Let them cook, clean and generally take care of the situation. I couldn’t have survived the last 10 days without the arrival of both grannies in succession of one and other.
4. The whole giving birth thing first time round is overwhelming to say the least as you’re expected to fall madly deeply in love with this new person you’ve just given birth to and a new magical bond between you and your partner will be ignited. It’s best not to get caught up in the hype. Your hormones will be in overdrive and you will probably be physically and emotionally drained. It’s okay to feel a little lost and overwhelmed and you’re not expected to know exactly what to do. No one does. Be sure to get the support you need from those around you, be that midwives, doctors, friends or family.
5. Be sure to get your mits on a few slices of hospital toast, slathered in butter and jam and a cup of tea afterwards. Tea and toast will never have tasted so good.
6. Everyone talks about the difficulties of recovering from a C – section but never a vaginal birth, the tears or the episiotomy. You will feel like you resemble John Wayne for a while as you waddle, as if you’ve been riding horseback non stop for the last week. It is likely to be sore and tender and you will have what is similar to a heavy period afterwards. It’s normal, uncomfortable but it does get better with time. But if you’re concerned at all be sure to speak to your midwife.
7. You will still look pregnant. Embrace it. And remember maternity jeans are not just for pregnancy.
8. The relationship you had with your partner is likely to change. This is understandable as a new person has entered the equation and dynamics will change. But with time, patience and a little readjustment everything comes together. So if you do feel distant from your partner because your universe is centred on the baby, be sure just to take some time out for just you and them even if it’s just 10 minutes on the couch. As for sex, you probably won’t want to jump straight back in the saddle and again you’re not alone.