Well I’m really annoyed with myself that I’ve not updated this blog for 10 weeks during such a crucial time in my pregnancy – my third trimester. All I can say is… I’ve been bloody busy. As in working 12-hour+ days and weekends, and even cancelling pre-booked holiday because of my workload. I’ve just had no headspace at all to sit down and reflect on the pregnancy, so this post is a complete download of what’s been going on over February and March 2020.
Coping with coronavirus
The main reason I’ve been so busy is because I was involved from a comms point of view at work in managing the coronavirus outbreak, which came to my attention the last week in January. For weeks and weeks I was the only person in my team on the project, which was on lot of additional hours on top of my regular workload. Then two of my immediate team were off on long-term sick (coronavirus unrelated, I should add!). You couldn’t make it up. So the last couple of months have been nuts – busier than work has ever been. Not ideal when you want to slow down and ease into the final few weeks of your pregnancy. But it kept me occupied, I suppose, and now I’m on mat leave!
The only good thing about it all is that I spent the last weeks working from home, as everyone was sent packing because of the virus. It’s been a very strange experience, being pregnant throughout these uncertain times. On the one hand, I’m relieved I’m in the final few weeks and the baby is almost fully grown now, so she’s well protected inside of me. But I’m having to go to scans on my own, and we’re living with the prospect of the hospital banning birth partners, which has happened elsewhere. However, I know that would be a last resort, and thankfully it’s looking unlikely. It doesn’t help matters that I’m due right at the time they’re predicting the height of the pandemic :-(.
Going on holiday
I’m so glad we managed to have a holiday in February, especially as there’s no prospect of travelling anywhere now, let alone abroad, because of the lockdown. I had hoped for a nice Baby Moon break in April – I’d been looking at Champneys (sob) – but the idea seems almost laughable now. We’re not even allowed in our car for non-essential travel, let alone a weekend break!
So our holiday was a twin city break to Tallinn, Estonia, and Helsinki, Finland. It was only for a few days, but I really needed the time out. From a pregnancy point of view, I was a little nervous about flying as I was 30 weeks and from 28 most airlines ask you to carry a letter from your doctor to say you’re fit to fly. My doctor’s practice would provide a note but charged £30, which I refused to pay because it’s extortionate, so I decided to wing it instead. Luckily, as the weather was pretty cold, I was able to camouflage the bump by wearing a big winter coat and scarf. I’d fly ‘under cover’ again but probably no later than 30 weeks as I really started to show at that point.
From memory, I also started to slow down a bit at this point. We did a fair bit of walking in both cities, but I was tiring a bit more easily. I’d booked hotels in advance with pools and gyms, but I didn’t really fancy either. I went to the gym once, and the difference between 30 weeks and, say, 28 weeks, was massive. Only a fortnight before, I was running 5K on the treadmill in a decent time a couple of days a week. Now after 10 minutes, I had to admit defeat. It was too uncomfortable and I thought I might do more harm than good. I also felt too self-conscious to go to the pool – I know, ridiculous. They were only small pools though, and I couldn’t use the sauna/steam room, so I decided it wasn’t worth the hassle.
Buying reusable nappies and wipes
I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time researching reusable nappies – like, hours and hours. I’m still not sure what I’m doing, but I am the owner of almost 30 so I now need to get my head around them. I invested in 10 Tots Bots, made by a company based in the UK – I bought five EasyFit STAR nappies for daytime, and five PeeNut wraps with pads for night. They’re not cheap but came highly recommended, and in these coronavirus times, having a guaranteed nappy supply seemed like a good option.
I also bought a bundle of 17 second-hand nappies, 10 of which are bumGenius, from eBay. The description said that the elastic may need replacing on some of them but I got them anyway. bumGenius nappies are like gold dust – you can’t get them new for love nor money, especially now. So when I saw ‘Buy Now’ on this pre-loved lot, I just went for it. The package came last week with loads of inserts, everything super clean and no stains or marks. They don’t look particularly baggy around the legs and back to me, but there again I have no idea about these things. I don’t plan on using the nappies until the baby is a bit bigger anyway (about eight weeks) so hopefully by that point I’ll have figured it out.
A friend of ours also recommended Cheeky Wipes, reusable washable baby wipes. If you sign up on the website, you get 10% discount, but there was also an offer for 25 free coloured microfibre wipes as well. So we bought the premium starter kit, which comes with container boxes, oils, wipes and wash bags (and you think – really, I’m spending a lot of money on some tupperware and flannels), got the microfibre wipes for free (we’ll use these for face and hands, and the premium cotton wipes included for bum) and I even bought some reusable makeup remover pads to get the order to £50 for free delivery. Overall, I’m pleased with the purchase, even though it’s dear, and I’m excited to try them all out!
Finishing the nursery
Once upon a time I had grand plans for the nursery. I created a mood board on Pinterest, I had visions of grey and white hues everywhere (wallpaper, cushions, throws) and a fully organised cupboard with all the things we need lined up in alphabetical order. Well, it didn’t work out that way!
We managed to get a carpet laid, which is lucky as we had it fitted a week before lockdown. The carpet was an offcut so isn’t quite what I’d wanted – more of a purple than grey – but it looks good enough. And we moved my desk and office stuff into the second bedroom, and swapped the double bed into the nursery, so we can sleep in there for the first six months.
I put a load of pictures up that I already had that seemed child-friendly – some owls, a purple and pink flower canvas I painted years ago and a cat print. Then I moved a chest of drawers into the room with each drawer containing the baby’s clothes in age order. The aforementioned cupboard is now stacked to the rafters (rather than organised) with nappies, formula, bottles, pumps, blankets and other detritus. Not particularly organised but we’re getting there.
The room is right at the back of the house, overlooking the garden and countryside beyond, so it’s a really tranquil, quiet space. The sun streams through the window all afternoon, which my cats absolutely love (not great, actually, as they keep sleeping in the crib :-/). So I’m looking forward to moving in there once the baby comes home. I’m also glad we’ve not gone out and bought loads of new stuff for it. It’s amazing what you can create with what you’ve already got (and let’s be honest, we all have too much stuff), so you needn’t spend a fortune for the ‘perfect’ nursery.
Feeling pretty good
At about 30 weeks, I started to really show. I was totally tiny up to that point, but then I started getting lots of comments on my bump (at least three people said ‘you don’t look pregnant from behind’ though, which I always think is a strange thing to say but better than the alternative I suppose!). And no longer was I anxious and frightened before every scan (we had one at 28, 32 and 35). I could feel lots of movement as well, even though I discovered my placenta was anterior (would have been good to have known that earlier).
The fish in a bowl fluttering and swooshing sensations have been replaced by being able to feel an actual body moving within my own – kicks, wiggles and turning galore. Don’t get me wrong – at times I worried if I didn’t feel movement during the day, as often I wouldn’t because I was so busy. But every evening before bed now I feel her wiggling away, which is always such a relief. Seeing your belly move around never gets boring!
I would also say that I felt pretty good generally throughout the third trimester, up to hitting 36 weeks. I’ve been active, mostly sleeping well, very few aches and pains and not too tired. Don’t get me wrong – I had some moments. There was the terrible indigestion I had at the beginning of the third trimester, but that didn’t last too long. I’ve had periods of waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to sleep – again, around the beginning of the third trimester. But that seems to have settled now.
Around the same time, I definitely slowed down activity-wise, when I had to stop running. I also started getting a numb sensation on my left thigh, which has now extended all the way down my leg and foot, which is rather unpleasant. But otherwise, I can’t really complain.
At 36 weeks, however, I’ve reached another level. I look and feel huge, I can’t walk as quickly and when I do it can be really uncomfortable. I am also way more emotional, I tire quickly and have started having naps in the late afternoon. Which is really rather nice, actually!
Starting (and almost finishing) NCT
We started NCT at the beginning of March and had two sessions before they cancelled face to face sessions because of coronavirus. Which is such a shame. NCT is expensive, and we’ve gone from weekly two and a half hour face-to-face sessions to a weekly hour-long Zoom call. We haven’t really got to know the others, so that rapport I imagine you’d build by meeting people every week hasn’t really happened.
Having said that, it’s a lot easier dialling in remotely, which has been quite nice now I’m feeling more and more pregnant. And you can cover what you need in a shorter session, so I don’t think we’ve missed any important information. I just doubt I’m going to develop any meaningful local relationships through it now, which was actually the whole point of it all! I will say, however, that the WhatsApp group has been useful, particularly with keeping up to date with the latest Covid-19 developments at the hospitals, so hopefully it’ll be useful once our babies are here. We only have one more session to go now, and then we’re done – how did that even happen?
Last but not least, I’ve finally finished work. I’ve been counting down the months, weeks and hours for so long, and now it’s finally over it’s such a strange feeling. I’m on day three, and I’m starting to wind down now. It was stressful yet liberating to hand over to my mat leave cover, and I can’t deny I’ve felt worried that everyone will forget I ever existed. However, I just have to tell myself there’s nothing I can do about it, and I will have much more important things to think about than work in a few weeks.
I found the first couple of days after finishing really tough, actually. Even the Friday evening, I felt a bit lost. What now, I thought? What on earth am I going to do on Monday morning? I imagine it’s a bit like losing your job, although in that situation your focus is on getting another. On mat leave, you’re waiting for this whole new chapter to start. Of course, I had a big long list of stuff I wanted to do before coronavirus. I planned to catch up with friends and family in person, to finish off shopping for the baby, to sort out my mountains of paperwork and tax return, go swimming and batch cook, to name a few. Well, a lot of that is out the window now.
However, what’s so nice is I feel less pressure to ‘do’ stuff, and ‘achieve’. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a to-do list – typical me – but I’m also trying to enjoy the fact I can’t just go or do what I want and it’s wonderful to slow down, read in bed and have naps when I want. These last few weeks will be the last I can have to myself, which is a terrifying thought. After the baby is here, that’s it – life as we know it will be over. So I’m fully aware I need to make the most of every last second, because this time next month, life will be very different indeed.