My Pregnancy: Through The Lens

A photo is said to be worth a thousand words. Therefore, following this logic, I figured 15 photos equate to 15,000 words. A word count like that (1.5 times a thesis!) kinda makes up for my absence over the last 6 months or so (?!), and simultaneously frees me from engaging my writing brain at least for the next week…Let’s face it, functioning on an average of 6 hrs (relatively a lot I know…) broken in c.3 slots a night, I need all the shortcuts this life can afford me.

Here’s a recap of my pregnancy in photos.

14 weeks pregnant: Me wearing what were to become my beloved, and pregnancy clothing staple. It was always a darker day when the dungarees were in the wash! I’m still deliberating whether dungarees could be a postpartum look.

19 weeks pregnant: I guess I was going for the fresh-faced look??

22 weeks pregnant: I know what you’re thinking…great hair. I know, I think so too. I also think that my downward trajectory of letting myself go, started here: On this day, at the precise moment I tied that horrific pony tail.

24 weeks pregnant: Christmas Day shot 1

24 weeks pregnant: Christmas Day shot 2

24 weeks pregnant: Christmas Day shot 3. Third time lucky …this was the photo lucky enough to make it onto my carefully curated Facebook feed…

26 weeks pregnant: Feeling like I’d really ‘popped’ here.

27 weeks pregnant: A good piece of advice to take on board when buying your maternity wardrobe? Avoid patterns! My goodness this tartan skirt was a challenge to ‘style’ (not sure I’m entitled to use such a word looking back at these photos).

35 weeks pregnant: I really took on board the advice that black is ‘slimming’, as my washboard abs attest to.

36 weeks pregnant: Nesting away. I want to shout at the Georgia in this photo to ‘climb into bed…you’ll never get this chance again!!’. She wouldn’t listen. She was a hormonal, stubborn character.

38 weeks + 5 days pregnant: Taken two days before my c-section. Trying to take myself seriously. Well as serious as I could, wearing a tent.

38 weeks + 5 days pregnant: Realising tent me is a joke…oh the shame.

Given I have no shame now, I have to share the photo I sent to my mum (along with the rest of my immediate family) when I decided to dress like a Crow. If you’re a GoT fan, or indeed ever seen GoT (in which case read: Game of Thrones), you (may) understand why I thought it was absolutely hilarious to send the following photo with the caption ‘Winter is coming’ to my family. I was also a little giddy at the prospect of the impending final series release date. My mum, neither a fan nor having watched a single GoT episode, responded to my shared photo with the words (verbatim), ‘why are you dressed like that???’. If I hadn’t known it wasn’t a look, I did then hahaha! I like to think my father and brother appreciated my efforts more. So here it is:

22 weeks pregnant: My first shamefully shameless look.

38 weeks + 6 days pregnant: The first day I’d get to experience someone grabbing at my bump, and shouting ‘hello baby!’ at my rounded belly. That was a good day. I didn’t even begrudge the newsagent his overly intimate welcome. I couldn’t wait to greet my baby either.

39 weeks pregnant: 6 hrs and 9 minutes before my baby would be here. No apologies for my under eye bags (you should see them now!), I hadn’t slept an unbroken night’s sleep in 33 weeks thanks to a pregnancy bladder.

In younger sibling fashion, my brother was apparently tickled to the point of hysteria upon receiving the above photo I shared in our family WhatsApp group, as I waited for my c-section slot. According to him, ‘she is absolutely terrified. That’s her terrified face’. Why this was funny I have no clue, but the idea he was amused whilst I was practically quaking in fear does tickle me too now.

Apologies for the headless, styleless, and shameless photos. They captured my pregnancy vibe: Imperfectly imperfect.

Welcome Back…To Me!

Five months later I’ve managed to resurface a broken woman, or perhaps better described a zombie. Albeit, a more capable zombie, who is so very blessed with a beautiful and healthy five month old baby boy. Clichéd as it is to say, he is worth every sleepless night. That says a lot considering there have been over one hundred of them, and counting!

Photo: Me AKA beach ball body, 16 days before giving birth.

If I could give one piece of advice, indeed any words of wisdom to a first-time expectant mother, they would read something like this. Nothing will prepare you for the mind and body **** you will face. Since these are neither welcome nor constructive words, I will attempt to impart (because clearly I’m an obnoxious expert at this point) ten pieces of advice.

1) Plaster a smile (a vacant look will suffice if it’s all you can muster) across your face, and nod your head (but absolutely zone out) when the millionth person ‘kindly’ but unwisely advises you to ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’. My god I could have done some serious damage…at the very least head butted a number of individuals, close and strange to me alike, that pushed this mantra.

2) Don’t listen to the BS advice pedelled by maternity sites authored by desperate housewife-esque/’adored my pregnancy’ type women, which recommend batch cooking and the freezing of meals in the run-up to your EDD. Sure, this is great advice in theory. However, unless you adore cooking and/or have a penchant for running yourself into the ground (literally!), who the hell at 35+ weeks pregnant has either the energy, inclination, or even ability to stand and cook anything more than toast, without suffering a series of incapacitating braxton hicks, and swollen feet?! Also, you’ll have no time when baby is here to just be you (my ‘self-care’ is a three minute shower whilst baby sleeps, or if I’m lucky a face scrub in the shower), so just be you, and do yourself a favour by buying tons of frozen meals from Cook (not sure if there’s a US equivalent?!), and a few bags of leaves. Along with iron supplements aplenty (bring on the constipation!), and that will see you right.

3) Mentally categorise people you know into two groups. The first group will be your list of skivvies, who you’ve lined up to help out during (at least) the first twelve weeks postpartum. You can form said group by roping in your mum, female family members, friends or even dad (mine was an expert at singing baby to sleep). The second group will include individuals who will show up (not in the least bit concerned about your welfare) wanting to hold baby (even when baby is asleep for the first time in hours). This second group is not WELCOME….again at least not for the first twelve weeks postpartum…or ever again…seriously, who doesn’t care about mum after she’s been taken to the brink and back?!

4) Politely direct mum/MIL/aunt/family friend to the new advice on sleeping, nursing, weaning, crying, and the like. Meanwhile, secretly delight in the fact you too will one day be preaching outdated advice to your daughter/DIL/niece/family friend. Try to remember that deep down your female contingent only mean well… After all, you know no better/worse, and wish no more/less for your baby than the millions of women, including aforementioned female peers, who have preceded, and will succeed you.

5) Everything is ephemeral, and this too will pass (caveat: unless you decide to have another, and another…but by then you’re basically a pro/head case and it’s all okay anyway). Albeit, after many tears, hormonal outbursts, and arguments with your worse (trust me you’ll shout this a few times in the process) half.

6) Breastfeeding will be horrendous for the first 24 hours after your milk arrives. Sure you’ll wake up with pornstar boobs (and possibly stretch marks aplenty) when your milk comes in, but nursing will initially feel sadomasochistic. During the first hours after mine came in, I would literally feed baby whilst crying for the pain. Now? I absolutely love breastfeeding. It’s been one of my favourite things about motherhood. It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if it works, it really works. Nonetheless, we as women must let everyone do what’s right for them when it comes to feeding. This means dropping the preachy act, and ‘breast is best’ mantra because my goodness motherhood is hard enough without lecturing your fellow woman on how to nourish their baby.

7) Poonamis and milkanoes are a very real phenomena. It’s in your best interest to get a nappy bucket (cheap one off Amazon will see you right), not give a s**t (since there will be plenty, literally), and for goodness sake, if you see the milk resurfacing, ensure to save baby’s clothes over your own. A two-second top change or wipe down with a water wipe (trust me your personal standards will drop considerably!) beats twisting and manipulating little limbs into a minute vest any day (or night…since initially you’ll see lots of vomit between the hours of 11pm through to 5am).

8) Accept that you’ll never have your s**t together ever again (N.B. If you never did, then you’re well on your way to becoming a mum, or imploding), and that it’s okay to have a never ending to-do list consisting of at least one of the following items at any given point in time: restock nappies, take baby to weigh-in, buy water wipes, and empty nappy bin. Of course if you’re blessed by the gods, or rather with money, then you can afford a maternity nurse. Then you can kind of pretend you don’t have a kid, and do have your s**t together, at least until her day off of course!

9) Watch Workin’ Moms on Netflix. It’s brilliant! Plus, you can pretend you’re not a negligent mother when you’ve failed to do the assigned duration of tummy time for your baby’s age group…yes it’s a thing.

10) Take photos and videos EVERY single day!

30 WEEKS: NESTING TIME

fullsizeoutput_2a5dfullsizeoutput_3431fullsizeoutput_3434I’d heard that nesting was a thing, and of course I desperately hoped I’d be a ‘nester’ (god knows I needed to become tidier), but what I didn’t expect, was how instinctual the urge to domestically cleanse would be. My husband will cluck at me as I pace our tiny 35 m2 apartment seeking out ‘projects’. Gone are the days when I could just sit still and switch off.  Rather I spend the evenings glancing surreptitiously around our ‘cosy’ abode, or if I’m feeling particularly bold, openly inspecting areas I could/should be organising….I mean I won’t have time for this when the baby is here will I?! Even when it might look like I’m sprawled across the sofa watching Netflix, in actuality I am peripherally scanning each and every corner of the room for items to rearrange/tidy. My current compulsion is replacing all our photo frames so they are uniform, and ergo aesthetically appealing (who even am I?!). The White Company for one will appreciate this impulse, and Richard too, once he accepts the visual harmony that I’m busy creating.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that rather than relaxing this weekend, which I think I should justifiably be doing, I’m afflicted with this overwhelming desire to clean, organise, and generally obsess over irrelevant household minutiae. Which let’s face it, nobody, especially one that is now officially waddling, should be concerning themselves with. Take the last few hours as an example of my (newfound?) lunacy. I set my phone to a YouTube music playlist (Taylor Swift aplenty), and what started with a very normal process of dusting the sides, ended in me wiping clean the inside of the wardrobe, and switching out any odd hangers so they are now all a uniform black. I also rounded up further clothing items to be vacuum-sealed for the foreseeable future until my body decides to deflate to its pre-pregnancy size once more (fingers crossed!). I also dusted the inside of the fireplace, because god knows that needs to be spotless…so you see it must be a visceral response to my baby’s imminent arrival because the ‘normal’ me wouldn’t be down for this insanity (I like to reserve that for other areas of my life).

Don’t worry though, Rich isn’t immune to the nesting allure, I’ve made sure of that! I have also conjured up a list of absurd tasks for him to do tomorrow, which amongst other all-important items, includes tidying his sock drawer, and folding jumpers.

Piece of advice: if you insist on antibacterialing (patent pending for my newly-created verb) the floor, don’t. Ask a friend/partner. I tried alternating between my hands and knees and squatting, and they both left me aching and short of breath (but then again what doesn’t these days?). Plus, you’ll want to conserve what little pregnancy energy reserves you have, for those all important other nesting tasks such as wiping bannisters, and polishing door handles…