Pre-baby maternity diary: This is how the most thoughtful gift looks like

Baby showers are okay. However, I wouldn’t want to have one of my own because I am simply not a “everyone-focus-on-me-and-play-silly-games” kind of person. But of course, if you want to buy me a piece of cake, then please go ahead! On Easter Monday we treated ourselves to an indulgent ladies afternoon tea. I ate more than my share of little cakes and warm scones and drank a bucket of fully caffeinated tea and a whole glass of champagne. There was a party in my belly!

I also received the most perfect present ever! Some of you might have read my pre-Xmas guide on choosing a gift for a mum-to-be where I was highlighting that I am not the baby. So while getting a pair of miniture socks is lovely, they certainly shouldn’t be in a package with my name label on it…

So on this occasion I didn’t expect a present but was given one that couldn’t have been more perfect. My friend got it absolutely spot on – thanks so much! Here is what my gift contained:

  • Two dummies. To shove in baby’s mouth (not both at once) while mummy is busy opening a bottle of
  • Prosecco. Yay! I can already imagine the delicate bubbles on my tongue! It’ll go great with
  • A box of chocolates. This will also serve as an emergency energy source.
  • When I’m out of prosecco, I still have a bottle of red wine. 2013 Rioja. Yes please! It’ll be perfectly complimented by
  • Blue cheese. Oh how I missed it! If you’re not a fan of blue cheese, then pâté will do. Or anything that is on the pregnancy ban list.
  • Then there is a tin of instant coffee packed with caffeine. It’ll be needed.
  • A pampering spa package containing various relaxing and de-stressing bath items that I won’t be able to live without.
  • And finally the most precious gift of all – baby-sitting hours. I will be a single mum with no family around so the prospect of someone being occasionally available to look after my little one while I….uhmmm….poop or shower alone and unobserved, is extremely appealing.

How awesome and thoughtful is that? If you’re looking for a gift for someone who’s about to push a baby out, hopefully you’ll find it inspiring. Giving birth must be a breeze when one imagines all the goodies to come back home to 🙂

Pre-baby maternity diary: “Are you afraid?”

image7Dear diary, on a third occasion this week I was asked whether I was afraid.

“Afraid of what?” was my response designed to sound mildly ignorant with the intention to make the person asking that question feel slightly awkward. Of course I know they are referring to childbirth. But, what kind of question is that? Are you suggesting that I should be afraid? Of something that is a normal part of life? I mean, women and animals have done it since always, plenty of them multiple times. So how bad can it really be? If a woman did it once and it was a horrendously traumatic experience that is impossible to overcome, she sure as hell wouldn’t choose to do it again, and again. Right?

Nowadays we just love drama, don’t we? Think of all the reality shows and shocking stories that we are fed and enjoy being fed. If you tuned in to watch One Born Every Minute and this birthing lady would be just chilling there, then pop and baby would come out like “that was easy”, you’d find it disappointingly boring. Actually, it would never get on national television in the first place. People are obsessed with horror stories. I had a stranger on a bus telling me about how her cousin’s wife’s baby died at birth, and one of my best friends within five minutes of finding about my pregnancy proceeded to describe her colleague’s childbirth story that ended something like “…so after several long hours the doctor shoved his hands in and literally ripped the baby out”. Great!

So come one and ask me if I’m afraid. Based on what the majority says, I should be. But despite baby brain, I am smart enough to know that fear is a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. If you expect pain and freak yourself out, then you will be in pain, guaranteed. People don’t give their brain power enough credit. Reality is not objective, nor is pain. Our expectations and perceptions shape our reality. Our mind and attitude impacts our future and our perception of presence more than we are willing to admit. After realising that, it would be silly not to take advantage of it. My attitude is to be prepared for the worst while expecting the best. I am treating my upcoming childbirth experience like a spa day. Seriously – there are some similarities from lavender essential oil to dedicated staff who will be there just for me. Yes please!

And if things gets tough, I know I’m always tougher. I’ve been fortunate enough to complete a 220 kilometres hike to Santiago de Compostela. On a third day of the pilgrimage I messed up my knees. It was bad. Over the next five days I carried on walking 30km each day, with a full backpack, in total agony. With literally every step I took, I was surprised I was still able to carry on. I was free to quit at any time, but I didn’t. I put it down to my extreme stubbornness, my inability to give up and a small glass of red wine consumed every couple hours. (Can I bring a cheeky flask to the birth center?) Today, this experience gives me comfort and reassurance because I know that if (IF!) I was in agony, I can always carry on.

So if anyone else asks me if I’m afraid, my response will remain seemingly oblivious. Afraid of what? Besides, it is a total waste of time and energy to spend months agonising over something that will be done and dusted in a few hours…

Pre-baby maternity diary: Day 14 – On kindness and respect

There is one thing I’ll really miss about being pregnant. No, it’s not the right to stuff my face 24/7 (which is definitely up there). It is the kindness of so many people – friends and strangers alike, especially men. Because I’m pregnant, everyone suddenly treats me little nicer than they normally would. And it’s not just holding the door for me and bringing me (and sometimes paying for) food and drinks. Recently, I dropped a glove and this chap raced over to pick it up for me so I don’t need to bend down. He obviously didn’t know that I can still reach my feet and tie my shoe laces standing up (impressive, right?). I’ve noticed people look at me differently, with respect – and respect is what I’ve always been after so I’m loving it.

But why did I have to get pregnant to be treated with respect? I worked hard all my life, earned two university degrees, am employed as a manager for a major airline and take pride in being polite to people. Shouldn’t that be the basis for being respected? Yet oddly, I am receiving better acknowledgement and finally feeling like a valuable member of society just because my belly is housing another human being. How can that be a good enough reason? I could have just got into my situation by getting wasted one night and sleeping with a stranger whose name I don’t remember, then, before discovering my accidental pregnancy, I could have smoked and drank all the way through the first trimester which probably has impacted my baby, and now I finally managed to track down the father of my child and am suing him for a whole lot for money so I don’t need to work ever again. I mean what kind of respect would I deserve if this was true?

Nonetheless, everyone is kind to me and I love it. At the same time it feels bittersweet because soon enough I’ll be just another tired mother of an infant and people will give me annoyed looks when my baby cries in public. I wish they saved some of the respect and kindness for later on when I really need it. Or, displayed it towards the elderly who definitely deserve it more than any pregnant woman does. And finally, can’t we just be kind to each other all the time?

Pre-baby maternity diary: Day 10 – To drink or not to drink

Happy St. Patrick’s day people! How unusually awesome is to be sober at 7 pm after spending the afternoon in an Irish pub!

If someone told me I’d survive 9 months without any regular alcohol consumption (and find it easy) I’d call them mad. I blame my previous job. Just recently I discussed this with my pilot friend and we both agreed that upon finishing our duty and getting to our hotel room, there was no other way to switch off and be able to fall asleep than to self-medicate. We were able to get these cute miniature alcohol bottles off the plane for quite cheap money. We called them crew purchase. In my case it was two glasses of wine that were sufficient to dissolve the stress accumulated during the flight and relax me enough not to care about what happened (there was always some kind of drama on board). I stopped drinking just as I stopped flying which is probably the only way I was able to achieve this. It was easier than I imagined it’d be, and I immediately started noticing the perks of being constantly sober.

My wallet thanks me every time I go to a pub and spend £4 on two alcohol-free beers instead of £15 on a bottle of wine (and then some). There is no dodgy kebab or curry take-away to finish the night off because I am sober enough to make healthier dinner choices. The best thing for a control freak like myself is that I am in control of my behaviour at all times. I was always a pretty sensible drunk so the craziest thing I’ve done in the past few years was falling asleep with my contact lenses on and getting a tikka masala stain on my sheets. But still, it’s great to be responsible for all your actions, and consider not flossing before bedtime the wildest event of the night. Also, they say that alcohol slows down your metabolism. A trainer in our gym dramatically calls it poison. I’ve been literally stuffing my face for the past month without gaining a single pound. It’d hardly be possible if there was alcohol involved.

Counting all these benefits I’m seriously considering not resuming drinking once my baby is born. All the money and calories and embarrassing moments I’ll save…….

Nahhhh, just kidding! Already bought a bottle of champagne and a nice Bordeux for when the baby is out! Wheel them in, as the daddy says. I’m assuming he means the beer barrels. Happy St. Patrick’s day kids!

Pre-baby maternity: Day 5 – Too. Much. Baby.

Think of pre-Christmas festive time when you are bombarded by everything Christmassy and it completely sucks you in. Consumed by a false sense of urgency you go mental, searching for additional presents (despite having completed Xmas shopping a month ago), gathering boxes of sweets and giant bags of crisps because you don’t want to run out, watching multiple YouTube videos with napkin folding instructions, and driving from one supermarket to another looking for the perfect turkey.

It’s exactly the same when expecting a baby, except the turkey is your pram and Xmas presents are all the adorable sleeper suits that you just can’t resist buying although you already have one too many. Actually, it’s even worse, because you know when to expect Father Christmas, but baby can decide to arrive at any time making the whole experience even more stressful.

I thought that after assembling my pram and sticking newborn clothes to the washing machine, I’ll be all set. I was planning to stretch my legs and binge watch all the free Amazon Prime box sets. How wrong was I! It took me an hour to figure out how to use a car seat, and after two days of blocking my bedroom floor, my pram is still lying there in pieces that should somehow fit together. Apparently, one ought to use non-bio products for baby laundry. And all the cloth covers of the swingy seat and Moses basket should be washed as well. Now suddenly I need all sorts of items I had no idea existed, like scratch mitts and a baby snot sucker. Oh, and a hospital bag must be packed. A birth plan. Why can’t I just wing this labour thing? Are my sensitive baby wipes sensitive enough? How the hell do I wrap a baby in this odd swaddle cloth? Like a giant burrito perhaps? Shall I launder stuffed animals too? How many nappies of which size do I need? What to do with this breast pump? Shall I watch cow milking documentaries to educate myself? Have I eaten enough protein today? What if my baby is going to be ugly? Can I pleeease have a glass of wine?

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…..simply too much baby.

So I decided to introduce a non-baby day. I’ll treat myself to the first one this Saturday. No baby talk. If you ask me baby related questions I’ll ignore you. Don’t show me your babies either. If there is an infant on TV I’ll change the channel. No breast pads and bibs and teats. Only me with some grown up entertainment and maybe a naughty little drink. The only baby I’ll be willing to acknowledge that day will be baby Guinness. Who’s coming to the pub with me?

Pre-baby maternity diary: Day 3 #loveparkrun

Let’s skip right to the important bit – the highlight of my day which was volunteering at my local parkrun for the first time ever. If you don’t know what parkrun is then you’re missing on some seriously good stuff in your life. It’s a 5K run in your local park that takes place every Saturday morning. If you consider your chances of surviving a 5K run as strong as winning the lottery, do not despair. You don’t need to run, you can walk. Or crawl.

My favourite thing about parkrun is that it’ll be exactly what you make it: a life-or-death race, a part of your marathon training, an opportunity to catch up with friends, a casual stroll in the park, or an unconventional hangover cure. On top of that, it’s all about the community. Parkrunners are friendly and welcoming. If you turn up alone not knowing anyone, at around your 2nd kilometer you’ll have a few new friends (unless you’re sprinting so fast that you leave everyone behind).

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Parkrun is totally free because it’s ran (if you pardon the pun) by volunteers. Being grateful for all this, I felt it was time for me to give something back and volunteer. Besides, at over 35 weeks pregnant, my ability to run equals my ability to resist cookie dough ice cream in my freezer (i.e. it’s pretty weak). A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine mentioned that I look like I’m running while I’m really more like shuffling about. So clearly it was time for me to don a hi-viz jacket and be a tail walker alongside the friend who insulted my running style.

It was a great fun! I enjoyed myself so much that next week I’ll be back doing exactly the same – tail walking and picking up those of you who pass out as a result of previous night’s Guinness consumption. It’ll be St. Paddy’s day! I’ve got shamrock face stickers ready, so head to Upton Court parkrun in Slough, or check where your local one is.

Pre-baby maternity diary: Day 2 – the best things in life are free

Like a true lady of leisure I’m sitting in Krispy Kreme and sipping my coffee. No, I’m not scoffing one of their naughty treats since the intense smell of hundreds of doughnuts being fried behind the glass wall is enough to chase away my sweet cravings. One could say that being free all day must get expensive because I have plenty of time to spend money, but when I recap on all my recent freebies I’m quite impressed with myself:

The coffee I’m currently sipping was free with my Krispy Kreme app (not mentioning the free doughnut you occasionally get – no purchase necessary). In my bag, there is a free bottle of Lucozade (Greggs app, again no purchase necessary), a free box of Jacob’s flatbreads (CheckoutSmart app) and a free pack of Laughing Cow cheese (cashback promo). On top of that I enjoyed my yesterday’s free hot chocolate from Caffè Nero (for downloading their app) and my biggest triumph was a free bottle of bubbly in All Bar One that I donated to my fellow Mummies (All Bar One loyalty app).

As a soon-to-be benefits Mum, free stuff excites the hell out of me! While on a tight budget, it’s great to be able to enjoy myself instead of eating beans on toast day in day out. And I’m not even mentioning all the baby freebies that are constantly coming my way – and will be coming yours too once I educate you on how to get them all. Just watch this space!

The highlight of my day: My boss emailed me “I miss you”. Sorry babes, I’m extremely busy doing my baby laundry and ironing muslin squares…

Pre-baby maternity diary: Day 1 – Mums and retirees

36 days before my due date. My first day on maternity leave. It’s a bit early, yes, but I started to realise that going to work, growing a real miniature person, trying to keep fit and healthy, while handling everyday household tasks on my own was getting more and more tiring. And apparently soon, I’m meant to be ready to welcome a new human to this world. My nursery is nothing more than a pile of boxes with all sorts of baby stuff, and my hospital bag is lying in the corner – containing only a pair of fluffy socks and a multipack of chocolate bars. So it’s time to shift my focus from the less important things (work) to the critical tasks (baby laundry).

Last night, there was a massive “farewell work” party at my place. Party for one. I put on pyjamas and cracked opened a can of alcohol free Heineken that I didn’t have the chance to finish because I fell asleep shortly after 8pm. As I said – a huge wild party!

This morning, there was no better way to start my career as a stay-at-home (at least for a few months) Mum than spending my first three hours of the day cleaning, scrubbing, hoovering and polishing. Every corner of my two bedroom flat is now spotless which gives me a sense of achievement that will last approximately two days when the place starts to get messy again.

Just as I put my cleaning equipment away, a Paypal notification informed me of £32.12 (random amount, I know) that my baby’s Dad thoughtfully sent to feed his unborn son. Feed via me. How very exciting! In All Bar One, I met a few Mummy-colleagues each of whom had a newborn stuck to their boob. We had a lunch and talked about breastfeeding and poop. I didn’t have much poop-details to contribute with, but I promised myself that as soon as I gain some decent poop experience I’ll write a very descriptive blog about it.

The highlight of the day: Seeing a ballet in the Windsor Royal Theatre. Since it was a matinée performance, I was the only person in the audience who was under the age of 70. There were times when I used to hang out with gay cabin crew and hot pilots – now it is Mums and retirees… Hello maternity!