It’s October, there’s still a pandemic going on and I’m still pregnant.
While the first five months of my pregnancy were a dream, bar a few aches and pains, lockdown provided the perfect silver lining in which to grow a baby. I was lucky in my first and second trimester: no sickness and no need to board the Northern Line – although I am somewhat miffed I’ve not been able to wear a ‘baby on board’ badge.
In the summer months I could spend my lunchtimes actually taking lunch – unheard of in the modern working world and indulging in my allocated daily walk around the park – remember when we were only allowed one walk a day and relished it? I would finish work at 6pm and be in the garden by 6.03pm, non-alcohol gin in a tin in hand. It was weird but it was also bliss and the perfect environment to stay calm in the midst of my impending motherhood.
Now I’m aware lockdown was awful, in some cases worse than awful for some, and I hate to think of the suffering that many have endured this year. But for me, lockdown was, in a weird way, a chance to slow down and build this baby, it gave me such a strong sense of purpose that I’ve never felt before. While everyone else was freaking out about how much alcohol they were consuming, battling with Zoom calls and worrying whether they’d ever go on holiday again, I basked in the slow pace of it all and time at home, and for that I will forever be grateful.
As we head into autumn and with the inevitable ‘second wave’ we all knew was coming but surreptitiously tried to ignore hitting, things feel different. My baby is due in a matter of weeks and for the first time I’m feeling scared.
Up until now my hospital appointments, although alone, have been lovely and I’ve felt incredibly supported by the midwives. Last week, however, I spent an unexpected Friday night at the maternity A&E department as I hadn’t felt the baby move as much as usual – all is fine by the way and it turns out he was just having a chilled night in – but for the first time I felt utterly alone and terrified as I sat in the waiting room with a handful of other women, all of us masked up, alone and waiting to be seen.
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After a COVID test and an hour or so of monitoring the baby and me, I was discharged and all was fine, but it set a new mood for my pandemic pregnancy and although I consider myself fiercely independent and pretty strong, I realised I really do need someone else holding my hand through this, the ups and the downs. As the number of virus cases clocks up once more, I really hope the NHS don’t decide to enforce even stricter measures for pregnant woman, but only time will tell.
October is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and I’m sure you all saw the heartbreaking images of Chrissy Teigen in hospital after going through the utter unimaginable, that the baby boy she had been carrying was stillborn. The images of her sat on a hospital bed in tears sparked a media frenzy, both good and bad.
Many thought she had overshared, I thought she was fiercely brave and even though I found the images hard to look at given that I’m pregnant, I’m sure they were comforting to many parents who have suffered the same loss. For more information and support on baby loss visit babyloss-awareness.org
Swipe right, or is it left?
I’ve never been on a dating app, but I’m starting to feel like I’m on one. Don’t worry, no adulteration going on here, I’ve downloaded Peanut – the app that connects mums and mums-to-be to others in their area. With the pandemic and no antenatal classes or NCT groups going that can actually be attended in person, Peanut has been a lovely way to chat to other women going through the same thing.
It also allows me to indulge the swipe right (or left, I never know which is correct?) life I never got to live out, as you swipe up or down to connect to other mums.
I’m hoping, unlike Tinder, we’re all matching based on our similar due dates and interests which are carefully outlined by little icons on each woman’s profile – I’m defined as ‘wine time’, ‘city girl’ and ‘but first, food’ in the hope that it gets me linked up to some new like-minded mum friends once baby is here. It’s working so far and I must admit, it’s kind of exciting when you match with someone.
People say weird things when you’re pregnant
In recent weeks I’ve become a bit of a hermit – a growing belly and a pandemic will do that to you – but when I was seeing more people and it was actually allowed, it’s outrageous the stuff people say/do to you when you’re pregnant. From “ooh, you’re pregnant, but you’re not married are you?” – no, but it’s also not 1952 – to “ooh, your bump is very big, are you sure there’s only one in there?” there’s a lot of pregnancy commentary I could do without.
There’s also a lot of touching. Now, I’m a tactile person and love a good hug, but touching my tummy does not coincide with the two metre rule. I’m not sure it’s even allowed? Anyway, the point being, pregnancy, especially when you’ve not done this before is deeply personal, at times mind-blowing, and it’s strange to have someone talk about and touch your body or question your life choices so unashamedly. But for every strange comment there’s a lovely one that makes my hormone-filled head a quivering mess. If you’re not sure what to say to a first-time mum-to-be, just say you’re “going to be a great mum.” Surely that’s all women starting on this mind boggling journey really want to hear?
On the baby list this week
As baby is only weeks away my Amazon deliveries are out of control and my hallways looks like the Mothercare stock room. Here are some of the things I’ve been shopping this week in preparation,
There are thousands of baby-related tech gadgets out there, most of which you probably don’t need, but here are a few I’ve either bought or been lusting after this week. And I’ve done my research, read all the reviews you can, inherited some off family members who’ve approved or been recommended them by friends who have done this before.
There’s the Groegg that makes it easy to check the temperature of your bedroom or nursery to ensure optimum temperature for baby. I’ve become obsessed with checking the temperature of the room with its handy three light system and baby’s not even here yet. I’ve also got my eye on the Babycook® Neo Baby Food Steamer Blender which is sure to make weening a breeze (she says) and the Elvie breast pump that is the Rolls-Royce of breast pumps and should allow me to go hands-free to pump when the time comes.
Then there’s the Vital Baby steriliser which takes the faff out of sterilising and can sterilise practically anything from your keys to your phone to toys – ideal in the midst of a pandemic. It’s expensive but I splashed out and I’m sure I’ll be thankful come sleepy 4am feeds, plus, I’m already getting use out of it sterilising anything and everything within an inch of its life.
I’m pretty much there with all the necessities now so I can shop a few bits and bobs (or rather window shop) that are simply just cute. Mori’s sleeping bags are up there when it comes to quality and style and I’ve been endlessly browsing the lines of independent stores like Otis & The Wolf and Scanidborn for stylish pieces in soft colour ways.
I’ve also snapped up a few monochrome bits as babies can only see black and white until about three months of age and it helps to calm and stimulate them. Etta Loves do some great muslins that I’m sure will come in handy come walks around the park and Tiny Love do a great ‘baby gym’ that I’m naively hoping will keep baby occupied for hours.
The hospital bag
I really should have this ready by the front door by now but I’ve been putting it off as it just makes me a bit nervous. Don’t worry, I have all the things to go in the bag, I just haven’t actually put them in there, and I promise, I will do this week.
The Internet is full of lists of things you need to take with you which I won’t bore you with, but below are some of the things I’m packing that will make me feel a little bit more like me. From Spacemask’s heavenly self-heating eye masks that I plan to wear diva-style in the car on the way to the hospital to Sleeper’s gorgeous two-piece pyjamas that are cool enough for the furness style heat of the maternity ward.
There’s also Scarlett Elizabeth’s handy pouches that I have been collecting over the years. They are great for travelling so I know they’ll come in handy organising stuff for me and baby so it’s easy to get to during labour. Plus, the founder has just become a first-time mum too so it feels right to support the brand. And finally, the Freya app which I’ve been told on good authority is a must for coaching you through contractions. Nappies, breast pads and the biggest maternity pants you’ve ever seen I’ll save sharing.