Thursday, 30 August 2012

Thoughts of a first-time pregnant.

I know I should post a bump picture but I am more fascinated by this picture I found earlier today of me in Venice in March of this year. I am not a woman mountain! A relatively flat stomach, I can't even imagine it.

I've tried to write this post a few times over the last few weeks, but always had to stop halfway as it turned into too big a moan-fest. You might have noticed I haven't posted for a while. (Well, other than a sponsored post, the proceeds of which bought me a much-needed new coffee machine, OK?)

The thing is, I have been absolutely, totally kiboshed by this pregnancy. I'll admit something now that won't cast me in a particularly flattering light: I used to be one of those people who thought pregnants shouldn't moan. Like, you chose to get knocked-up, so deal with it, Bumpy. I remember reading this article about not wanting children by Polly Vernon and guiltily agreeing with a lot of what she wrote. I would always be the first to offer my tube seat to a pregnant lady, or dash to help carry their pram down the steps – well brought up, me – but a small part of me would be grudgingly thinking, 'Mehhhh, I'm tired too! I've got a hangover and I've been at work all day, we all make our choices!'

Well, I would like to publicly declare: I Was Wrong. Yeah, you might knowingly decide to get knocked up. But, if it's your first pregnancy, like me, you will not know about the insane exhaustion, constant sickness and myriad random other symptoms that you will have to deal with. Your right hand appears to have clenched into an agonising claw that you can't straighten out? Yeah. Deal. That popping noise? Oh, it was just your hip joint. You probably won't be able to walk properly now, sorry. Every time you eat the smallest morsel of food, a snake of stomach acid slithers up your throat? Ambassador, you are spoiling us.

And on top of that, you still have to deliver at work, cook, maintain friendships, clean the house. Y'know, just life as normal.

In my case, on top of the generic pregnancy symptoms, I have also managed to be the lucky one in a hundred women that develops a strange liver complaint which means I itch. Constantly. And have done since 10 weeks. I'm now 32 weeks. I haven't slept more than 3 hours in 22 weeks. Some nights I don't sleep at all.  That's nearly six months of hardly any sleep. And itching. Constantly.

I mean, not to obsess about it, but I am absolutely EXHAUSTED. I've had to leave work ahead of my planned leave date which, as a self-employed person, sucks. Poor husband is knackered, as he tries to sleep through a mess of itching, scratching, wriggling, spraying of products, rubbing-in of creams and general nocturnal comings-and-goings. (Oh yeah, there's also the constant weeing, as babies love using bladders as cushions.)

I have to go to hospital three times a week, for monitoring and tests. As I progressively feel worse, they threaten progressively harder to throw me in the labour ward to be monitored until I'm ready to birth; a scenario that I am naturally keen to avoid. (As lovely as the midwives are, I'll take my perfectly calibrated home comforts and fridge access, please! Don't make me go to the labour ward!)

But. BUT! Of course it is not all bad. We get more and more excited as the due date gets closer. We had a scan at the weekend and saw a blinking eye. Another scan showed him asleep, with one hand resting on top of his head, just like his dad. We've got a huge chest full of neatly-folded onesies, mittens and bear suits, waiting for his arrival. The Bugaboo – yeah, cliché – is nestled in the corner, ready for action. I'm more excited than I have been since Christmas as a kid. Or, maybe since my first trip to New York.

I'm just amazed at the shift between where I am now and my attitude before. So yeah, if you're on the tube and a pregnant hobbles on, face as grey as the British summer sky and holding on for dear know what to do.
[I'm as big as a house, and probably have about five weeks left, as I will be delivering early due to the itch sitch – it brings an increased risk of still-birth if left to go full-term. I've almost totally given up work now, with just a replacement to find and a hand-over to do. I'm learning to drive, with my test booked about a week before the arrival date! And other than that, I'm planning to do a lot of reading. In bed. Between naps. Currently loving the new Amy Sohn, Motherland- awesome Brooklyn trash-lit. And this Ruth Reichl book, Garlic And Sapphires, about being the New York Times restaurant critic, as recommended on A Cup of Jo.]

Friday, 3 August 2012

Babyproof your bathroom.

When you have a baby, those dim and relaxing bathroom lighting fixtures get switched to their brightest setting, indulgent lotions replaced with no-tears shampoos, and scented candles tossed aside in order to make way for animal-shaped water squirters.

This former peaceful haven will pretty much transform beyond all recognition: from the bathroom storage cabinets you need to hide clutter, to clever products that can help make bath-time fun (for both of you), here’s a rundown on how best to baby-fy your bathroom.

Bathroom safety
You may have socket covers and child gates in other areas of your home, but what do you need to make the bathroom safe for little ones? Apart from the obvious, like putting razors, medicines and cleaning products out of reach, make sure that your child can’t get locked in there without you. Avoid a frantic call to the fire brigade by getting a lock that can be opened from the outside or by disabling the lock altogether.

A non-slip bathmat is an absolute must as soon as soon as your toddler is trying to stand, inflatable tap covers are a great idea to stop inquisitive fingers fiddling with the hot tap and toilet locks can be essential if your child is fascinated by the flush.

You can also buy bath seats for babies – a godsend if you want to give your back a rest from holding them for long periods of time.

Products to make bath-time fun-time
Bath toys have come a long way since the humble rubber duck. These days you can get everything from washable bath crayons, so your child can get creative as well as clean, to bath flutes that play a different note when water is poured into them.

Love this doll's house bathroom!
Apart from toys, there are products out there which make bath-time easier for both of you, too. A cuddle dry towel robe means less fussing when you get them out, while a step will get them at the right height to use the bathroom wall mirror all by themselves, too. And don’t forget a shampoo rinse cup to stop water going into their eyes.

Cath Kidston duck towels
Bathroom storage furniture
With all your new bathroom toys, you need to find a way to store them. A simple bath toy bag, which has suction pads that stick to the tiles is a great (and cheap) idea. To really push the boat out, you can get some fun bath toy holders that scoop the toys out of the bath, drain the water away and store the toys at the same time. Laundry bins can be a great place for toy storage but, if floor space is at a premium, look for something that keeps toys out of reach, like over-the-door storage and hooks for the bathroom or shower door.

All images from John