Thursday, 27 May 2010

False Alarms

It's all kicking off!!

Or maybe it isn't.

I don't know!!

This is maddening.
I was woken up at 4am (a recurring theme at the moment) yesterday by EXTREME PAIN. Everything ached, I could barely move but whichever way I lay, I couldn't get comfy. Not nice. More worryingly, even though I did finally get back to sleep, the pain was still there when I eventually heaved myself out of bed. My whole bump had gone tense and rock hard, and I also couldn't feel Little Cheese moving about much. Usually she starts moving about to say byebye to Dad when Carl heads off to work in the mornings. Altogether, I got Worried. I rang the midwife, and she said she couldn't do anything without seeing me, so I had to head off to hospital since there was no one else free down at the clinic. After an enormous wait, I got prodded about a bit, and then had a CTG - erm, cardiotocograph monitoring. Basically hooked up the Very Important Machine That Goes BING! that measures mine and the baby's heart beats. Cheese's heartbeat was good - strong and pretty steady at about 150bmp. All perfectly healthy.
Turns out, the pain and aches appear to be because Cheese has now "engaged" - her head was burying into the birth canal, which causes a lot of pressure on delicate bits. Tensing up is not uncommon either, especially since this is my first and I haven't really been stretched like this before! (and obviously I had such strong muscly abs to start with. Ahem.) Finally, and most reassuringly, it was only because I was so tense that I couldn't feel her moving.
This morning I felt a lot better, not so tense, but as soon as I got up I suddenly felt sick and had to go throw up in the loo. Lovely. I also got a 'show' - which is a.) disgusting b) not a good idea to explain on a public blog and c) has Scary Significance. The midwife told me to come back into hospital this morning for the same thing again - another CTG, so I toddled off, still aching but nothing like as bad as yesterday. Cheese was far more awake today, I could feel her moving, and her heart rate made a much more wiggly line this time. All fine, anyway. I am just being paranoid.
The fact that I had a show, however, is far more scary/exciting because it can imply that Cheese Is Imminent, especially when she's already engaged and I am aching. The hospital confirmed this, saying I should feel free to come back as soon as something dramatic happened. It could now be DAYS, not weeks away.  EEEEEEK!!! I don't know, I really don't. I was honestly assuming she'd be late. I'll be 37 weeks at the weekend, so it doesn't even count as premature now. I toddled off to see the Chapmen by the seaside this afternoon, despite hospital trip  and nothing remotely exciting happened. I am feeling better - which is good - but I am not feeling anything out of the ordinary now. She's having a lie-in!

In case she does make an early appearence, thanks to wonderfully talented friends and family, we finally have the Cheese Room finished and fully furnished. It's AWESOME!!

The Sheffield Tram-Cot designed and built by my DIY-ing Dad. We love it!

 The Tram Map Blanket as embroidered by Mum (Halfway to Meadowhell?)

The truly amazing quilt designed and handstitched by the fabulous Julie

Mum has also knitted a mini Vampire cape and outfit (including tiny Cowboy boots just like mine!) for Cheese's First Whitby Goth Weekend in October

Suddenly the whole room seems so much smaller!!

Now of course, I am even more impatient than ever!!! More soon - I hope!

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Just Waiting...

So, that is it. I am done!
Just got back from my final trip to Sheffield prior to Cheese's arrival, and baby is due a month today! Official Maternity Leave from now until Christmas.

I am actually feeling quite sad. I do love being in Sheffield (although, without wanting to jinx things, I have found a seemingly perfect job to apply for which would allow us all to move down there, but it is a long shot!). I had a lovely evening catching up with people at uni, sitting in a sunny beer garden drinking orange juice - more's the pity. Most of my friends there are close to finishing their PhDs as well; stress is rife, and I am certainly not alone in being a little concerned about what to do next and what the future will bring. Perhaps it is even more worrying for me now as well - I have quite a few more responsibilties than most. The Real World is a scary place that none of us have visited in quite some time! I will miss the comfortingly safe bubble that is academia.

It is going to be highly odd NOT having deadlines and 10,000 word chapters to negotiate and hundreds of references to meticulously cite. As I write, I am sat in my usual spot in the coffee shop armed with the laptop, exactly as I usually am, except this time this blog is open on my screen, and not pages and pages of academese, or a hastily designed Powerpoint seminar or incomprehensible ejournals in PDF format. Miranda-Cheese has got hiccups, possibly a result of me drinking iced espresso. It's quite distracting, but this is the first time in a long time that I can actually enjoy distractions. I don't have to actually DO anything at the moment, it's unnerving. Put my feet up, relax, and dare I say it, "look after myself". Quelle horreur! And wait of course.

I do get the impression this next month is going to be a long one. There is still a fairly good chance she'll be late turning up anyway - a family failing. I could be waddling about, blimp-like, for another 6 weeks at least, rather than the month I am hoping for. Nevertheless, we're off to visit the Soon-to-be-Grandparents at the weekend, and taking my emergency hospital bag and the baby car seat *just in case*. The bag in question has a note stapled to it: "In case of Cheese-Related-Emergency, GRAB THIS!" Just in case Carl is panicking too.

Talking of panics, I stayed overnight in Sheffield with Cheese's honarary Uncle, who in a fit of early morning daftness, managed to set his own fire alarm off at 8.30am. Poor little cheese really jumped at the noise! My whole stomach bounced, it was so weird!! Proof enough that she can hear alright in there I guess. It was pretty uncomfy from my point of view - like being jabbed in stomach hard, but from the inside, out. Carl thought it was highly amusing, however. He's now taken to just staring at the belly going "we're really going to have one of those little Things soon, aren't we?". It is obviously becoming real now, even to him. Quick on the uptake, as ever.....

Tuesday, 11 May 2010


I am exhausted. It's so frustrating!! I can't seem to do half the things I need to do, and when I force myself, things I used to do all the time just a few months ago now completely wipe me out.

Sleeping is hard; this weekend I achieved the impossible - I was apparently too tired to sleep. This predicament is not helped by a certain little Cheese being nocturnal. She seems to wake up late evening, and keeps booting me until I go to bed, and then starts trying to turn somersaults. I've been regularly waking at 6am which seems to be when she has jumped on my bladder sufficiently to warrant a bleary eyed bathroom trip. According to the midwife, she is now head-down, ready and waiting, but not actually "engaged" yet. This means that I have her giant feet just under my rib cage, with hands free to punch various vital internal organs, and she can still pivot vertically. I can actually see her moving about inside, my stomach ripples, and if I squeeze in the right place, I can occasionally feel distinct foot shapes in there. This morning, I was woken at 5.10am when she got a rather violent attack of hiccups...

I keep looking enviously at other people's 4d scans, the new ones where you can see the baby in 3D (the video makes it 4D when you see her move in real time, I guess.) There is no way we could afford one, and we've only got a few more weeks to meet her in the flesh anyway, and there is no actually reason to check what is going on in there other than curiousity and impatience. I nearly did end up with another normal scan though - last time I went to the midwife, she said I was still unusually small-bumped. It's true, depending on what I wear I can still hide the fact I am pregnant altogether, let alone nearly 8 months along. Midwife was concerned that Cheeseling might be pretty small and not growing as quick as she should, but she measured me vertically, and apparently my uterus was 33cm high - bang on for 33 weeks. It is just because I am naturally tall and pear-shaped! Nothing to worry about! Not that I want anything to be wrong, but another glimpse of her on a scan would have been lovely.

As uncomfortable as I feel at the moment, I actually think I am going to miss having her wriggling around in there. I first felt her move not long after Christmas and it's been pretty much constant ever since, which is a long time to get used to her presence. It's not going to feel right, having an immobile, empty belly again. I am incredibly excited and impatient about The Big Day, but the thought occurs that I shouldn't be wishing this time away...

Maternity leave starts at the end of the month. Now this I really am looking forward to!! As always, I am juggling several things at once - I was supposed to have got a draft together of my entire thesis before I go on my leave, because as my supervisors rightly point out, I am highly likely to forget what I was on about when I get back to it in January. Well, with three weeks to go, I am still lacking any conclusions (which is acceptable, according to the Powers That Be) and no proper methodology chapter, only very vague notes. But everything else is done. However, I also have to write a presentation for some seminar by this time next week. I also need to chase up the last of my interviewees who not only appear highly reluctant to talk to me, but are also down in London and not easily harrassed. Oh, and then I've got to write another paper for a workshop which I can't actually attend in person, it being in early July.... aaaaargh.

And then I have my coffee van to run. I am have been "lazy" with this recently, mainly because I actually can't physically stand on a market stall all day making coffee without an incredible amount of aches and pains. Cheese is too heavy! We took the van to a charity event last weekend, did extremely well but the whole thing rendered me incapable of functioning as a human being for quite a while afterwards. I've also won a competition about the markets and people are demanding I write biographies of the business for press releases and, more significantly, want me to sort out when I want to trade for free... which may well have to be in several months time.... and thus follows more general aaarghs.
Other worries and side projects include trying to move house, what on earth I am going to do for a job post uni, money worries, driving lessons, yadayadayada....

I tend to get too involved in other things as well; most recently, politics, but also emotional complications with my friends, people I care about are having some pretty tough times at the moment. But one says:

"Ignore me. You have the Cheese to worry about it. Cheese has to be number one priority."
He's right, I know. But I also find him, and others, very difficult to ignore, and I feel terrible about trying to. In truth, I don't know how to stop juggling all of the above any more. There is very little that I can, none of those commitments are suddenly going to cease to exist just because our little one suddenly pops out. Six months maternity leave with nothing to do except Look After Cheese sounds unimaginable at the moment. I don't know what I am going to do with myself! And other than collapsing in front of crap on TV occasionally and moaning a lot, I don't know how to make Cheeseling my priority. I can't hurry her along, and I don't know what to do to make her more comfy for the last few weeks! Any recommendations?

Friday, 7 May 2010

Lost In Translation

I scribbled the following back in February, when, at 23 weeks pregnant, I suddenly decided to go to a conference in Guatemala City... A few musings on impending motherhood to share...

What is it about sitting in airport bars at stupid times in the morning? I've done this so often - usually half collapsing with exhaustion - that it feels part of the experience now. The journey wouldn't be complete without my dramatic, romantic, self-indulgent 'lost in translation' moments. This time I am in New York's JFK airport. As far as I'm concerned, it is 3.20am, but in New York, it is only 10.30pm. The barman and two blokes sitting next to me are speaking Spanish, which is oddly comforting. To them, I am just another Gringa, but it is still nice to listen in unnoticed. And I much prefer a Latino accent to an American one. I am on route to Guatemala after all.

The first time I did this sort of thing - sat alone in a strange bar full of strangers in a strange country - I was only just sixteen, drinking melon flavoured cocktails underage in the hotel bar in Helsinki, having accidentally on purpose 'lost' the rather dull Finnish bloke I'd come out to meet. This time, for obvious reasons, I am not on the alcohol, but that is irrelevant. I am still luxuriating in anonymity and possibility. This time I am not alone, however; Little One is with me always, kicking her appreciation or annoyance. Right now I really am "navel-gazing", - with good reason. I have to grow up, be responsible for another tiny life rather than just myself, and that is both terrifying and exhilarating. Will this style of anonymity and possibility - the desire to experience everything I can, everywhere I can - ever wear off? What, after all, is the point? Intercontinental travel is lonely and exhausting. Why do I do this to myself? Unfortunately I think I need to travel more to find out the answer to that.

(Here's my Guatemala adventures on my work blog)

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Bump Contents

Here's some pics of our little one! Really wish we could have had more scans!

Cheese at 11 weeks, 3 days

Little Skeletor? 20 weeks and 1 day

It's a girl!
Two more, that maybe you don't want to see!!

Guess which one contains the baby, and which one contains a very large dinner?

The bump at 32 weeks - not actually that huge!
The "Cheese" is very active and healthy according to all my check ups, and despite my bump not being overly huge, she is a good size in there. She also seems to have Very Large Feet (takes after her mum) and boots me all night with great glee!
Pictures outside the womb due very soon indeed!!


Nothing to do with the small pieces of Edam of the same name


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