Thursday, January 27, 2011

Stupidly excited

Chris will be catching the plane leaving from Entebbe in 4 hours time.  The flight takes him via Nairobi and he's due to touch down at 6:30am tomorrow morning in Heathrow.  He's been asked to find a toy giraffe for Grace and to pick up some Ugandan tea and a pack of Kenyan coffee.  Once he's this side of the globe he'll jump on the train and all being well with crappy East Anglian Rail (arrrghh, they could be the fly in the ointment) he should arrive at the station across the road for 11:30am.

After 7 weeks of being without him I'm stupidly excited and looking at the clock with huge impatience.  Hurry, hurry, hurry.  I'm attempting to fill the gap this afternoon with a visit to the cinema - mum and I have been talking about going to see the King's Speech and today seems as good a time as any.  Killing time can be a painful experience!

In anticipation of his arrival I stopped work on Tuesday, I finally had my hair cut yesterday and today I will attempt to do something with my impossibly hairy legs.  That bit is not easy and I've realised it's the start of things to come in dodgy personal hygiene.  I'm not able to bath due the risk of infection, so shuffling about in the shower is as good as it gets, except without my glasses on and being unable to see below my tummy it's all about the blind leading the blind. 

And in my excitment I just skidded down the wooden stairs on my arse and thought I'd broken my hand.  I was wearing a pair of Chris's socks from Kathmandu that are 12 years old.  That statement in iteself is wrong, is it right to have socks that old!?!  Having waited 10 minutes for a bruise or a cracked bone to pop through I've neither.  The socks on the other hand have been whipped off and flung across the room. 

As I crash through week 29 of our pregnancy will he recognise me as I stand at the station platform tomorrow morning?  That right now is the big lady lump (and her baby) question!

Monday, January 24, 2011


I took a walk during my lunch break at work this afternoon.  It was one of those times when you just want to clear your mind and stretch your legs.  I inhaled cold air that travelled deeply down to my lungs and baby loved it.

Moments later, slipping about on a muddy path inbetween a field and a stream, I spotted a cluster of beautiful, tiny snowdrops.  I stopped and stared at them for a good 5 minutes, reminding myself that even during the harshest of conditions nature has a way of hitting back.

Snowdrops are a true reminder that spring, in all her splendour, is on the way.....I cannot wait for what it brings.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Lady lumps...!

Couldn't resist putting up this text message from Chris (I've taken it down exactly - I love it, but he knows it will have slightly irked me due to the lazy abbreviations he uses ;)

Think im gunna be in bed in 1 hour dreaming of yr lovely lady lumps.  Wud much rather be drinking beam and listening 2 loud music with u at home til 2.  Cant wait 2 cu.  Please make sure u have given up work by the time im there Xxx

My husband, he's full of the cheeky charm! 

I had to remind him that gone are the days of playing music ridiculously loudly whilst sat in the porch on a warm and balmy night throwing back Jim Beams and coke into the small hours.  How this dream now plagues my inner lush.

Lady lumps.  I'm one whole large lump right now and he'll be blinded when he sees me in nine days time and I just can't wait for that surprised look on his handsome face!!

Rock star party March 2010....inner lush released, for possibly the last time ever!?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Shoulder to Shoulder

Holding a friends 3 day old newborn son in my arms on Saturday I looked at the tiny hands, the loose skin around his fingers and the wispy bits of hair touching the tip of his ears. Freddie squirmed and moved his small mouth before settling back to sleep. He was born on Wednesday evening on the bedroom floor of my friend Sarah’s house. Vaughan, her husband, was about to drive her to hospital but she wanted him to drop the dogs at her parents house before they departed for what she thought was going to be a drawn out labour. He left and in the next 20 seconds she stepped from the bath to her bedroom in terrific pain, had two huge contractions and pushed her baby out across the floor! In complete shock she rang 999 and asked for an ambulance, 'because there appears to be a baby on my bedroom floor'. It took 6 minutes to arrive. 

Vaughan returned home 10 minutes later to find an ambulance in their driveway with blue lights flashing. Terrified he raced up the stairs to be greeted by a paramedic who congratulated him on his new son, Sarah and Freddie were both fine, but the bedroom carpet wasn’t (I’ve seen it, it looks like something out of CSI).  I haven’t held a baby that tiny, that fresh and that new since I held Ella. The moment touched me significantly and I wondered about the precious cargo I’m due to bring into this unpredictable world in April. Will he be as small, perfect, healthy, content, quiet, bald....? Will I be able to cope, will I be a good mother? Will I be a capable half of a two parent family and will the huge weight of the vast love that is already coursing through my veins ever be enough?

I sat on the sofa and took in the scene. Great friends, all of them now mothers, sat drinking coffee and marvelling at the tiny baby sleeping contentedly in Sarah’s arms as she sat looking bloody gorgeous on the sofa. Birthing stories emerged, stories of fear and anguish compared to those experiences that had been easy and painless. Someone said that at least I was having a c-section so I didn’t have to worry about the physcial aspect of childbirth – phew, your baby’s coming straight out of the sunroof, sorted. I smiled in the way you do when you listen distractedly to a conversation you don’t want to be a part of, especially as I don’t expect people to remember. It’s easy to forget I’ve been there, that I’ve experienced the assault of a natural birth coupled with the loss of a child. The images are still frozen in time.

Another friend Lindsay arrived with her 3 month old daughter, Ella. The surreal timing didn’t escape me - I was caught between a moment and a memory. Later I got a lift home with my friend Lucy, one of those rare individuals who never misses a trick. She asked if I was ok, and if it hadn’t been too hard for me holding Freddie? I nodded a tear that I was good, that it was all wonderful, but sometimes the wheels spin and I can’t keep up. She said she feels the ripples of my sadness in the moments when it’s tough and I know she does. She, like many incredible friends throughout the last 2 years, has held me above the surf with a life-ring when all I’ve wanted to do is to drop beneath the waves and shut my eyes. Lucy knew that I held Freddie for longer than I held my daughter Ella and she clocked me as the childbirth stories were told…..I love you and I think of you every day of this pregnancy she said.

I feel completely blessed to have a wide circle of friends near and far who will go to any lengths to protect, love, help and defend and it is with huge gratitude and pride that I hold them all close to my heart. I went to see Love & Other Drugs at the cinema on Saturday night and stopped on my way home to see a friend for a catch up as she sat in her pj’s drinking red wine. Sunday morning I had a greasy fry-up at the local cafĂ© on the river with a group of mates before taking a walk that included a vast herd of children and 8 different conversations. Later in the afternoon I read the papers and chilled out in the quite of home (everyone was out, a novelty) and drank hot chocolate. I spoke with Chris and received phone calls from 3 friends, two of whom are gloriously pregnant, who made me laugh and smile in large quantities. I discussed my fear of making a list about what I need for a baby, how Chris is doing in Uganda, fuel costs, swollen ankles, the mess in Tunisia, work, climate change – friend’s words and selfless conversations throughout the weekend have touched me no end.

When days are tough, when they stretch out like a deserted beach, it’s your friends that keep you strong. A friend sent an email the other day to say her husband had spoken with Chris and he was having a bad day in Africa – no shi* Sherlock – yes he probably was, not every day’s a clear winner.  The reality of trying to keep it all together when we’re poles apart is that bits sometimes crack. My husband and I being on different continents doesn’t make for a smooth ride, and although we give it our best shot it isn’t always plain sailing being apart for weeks at a time. As I juggle the mental hope of reaching 30 weeks pregnant and Chris juggles the prospect of getting a lodge built it’s enough to make me want to slide along the knife due to the unpredictable nature that’s our life right now.

But it’s your friends who keep you focused during the good, the bad and the ugly times and as I’ve learnt to balance on the knife edge with arms outstretched I’m lucky to have the great, the mighty and the funny standing there shoulder to shoulder with me - providing they don’t shove me off with their humour first!

I love them all.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Pumpin' Iron

A baby's lungs are the last vital organ to develop and with this in mind my consultant advised me to have a steroid injection to mature my baby's lungs in the event of him being born prematurely.

I had the injection before when I was in Uganda pregnant with Ella.  That time it was given to me in my rump, this time they suggested giving it to me in my leg.  So on Tuesday afternoon I received one hit in my right thigh and yesterday, 24 hours later, I returned for a second jab, this time in my left thigh.

The pain was minimal, just a stinging sensation and an attractive bruise to follow.  The drive home was the worst bit, especially on Tuesday when I had a dead leg and ended up roaring out of the hospital car park because I couldn't drag my foot off the accelerator!

My only worry now is the effect of the steroid.  Further hair growth coupled with pumpin' iron down at the local YMCA is a terrifying combination.

Yeah, imagine that surprise....having just eaten steak, chips, salad and mushrooms I should monitor the progress of my thighs as they begin to take on a life of their own!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Romper Suits & A Plastic Stethoscope

Having begun to accept that things might just be going our way, it was with delight that I sat with my sister in her daughter’s bedroom the other night as she put together a pile of her son’s baby clothes she wanted me to have. She has starved off this moment until now as she knew it was too raw and didn’t want to tempt fate, but as my acceptance of this pregnancy emerges like sunshine on a rainy day she is grabbing every chance to spread her magic. Tiny and beautiful baby grows, romper suits and little t-shirts were carefully folded and placed on top of one another – they looked small enough to fit a doll.

We laughed as Rory, now 5 months, lay on the bedroom floor gurgling.  He was trying to hold himself up with his squishy arms, coupled with shoving the legs of a dodgy teething ring into his mouth, a look of sheer determination plastered across his little face. Grace kept racing in and out like some pumped up athlete, one minute she was stealing things from under her baby brother’s nose and the next demanding to listen to mine and my baby’s heartbeat with her plastic toy stethoscope. We agreed that baby’s heartbeat was sounding really great and that my layered tops were quite nice where they were – down over my stomach and not hitched up around my ears every 3 seconds.

It's with a big smile that my sister, in the absence of Chris, has started the wheels turning for the arrival of my baby and is on the verge of organising a list of the things she knows I’ll put off to the last moment, if I’ve thought of them at all. She’s our own inspirational mother to her children and one of the many wonderful women I will look to for advice and help in the coming months. She’s compassionate, strong, beautiful, selfless, full of bloody funny anecdotes and a fantastic parent. Though that’s not all, she’s got a filthy potty mouth, faints at the drop of a hat, has realised her cookery skills have gone to the dogs and cries at every episode of Grey’s Anatomy! A class act in every which way and a parent any child would be blessed to have.

Realistically I’ve a long way to go to fill those boots as a mother don’t chaknow.

Grace and Roaaaaaaaar-y

 And a bundle of teeny baby clothes :)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Fresh Hope

I'm staring down the barrel of a New Year with the hope of a future I’d only dare wish for on a shooting star a year ago. If I look back two years from now I wasn’t capable of wishing and I certainly wasn’t hoping – I shied away from the word with anger. I was barely strong enough to focus on the day ahead, let alone the thought of 12 long months screaming back at me.

But now I have hope and a dream growing inside of my womb that is so miraculous and special that it’s only now, over these past few days, that I have been able to believe in the fact that I may truly be able to carry my baby to beyond 26, even 28, perhaps 30 and maybe, just maybe baby, to 40 weeks.

The stark reality hit me last Wednesday when I went to the hospital for a growth scan and consultation. I lay on the bed and watched as the image of my baby appeared on the fuzzy etch-a-sketch screen. He was there alright, all scrunched up and cross looking with tiny hands held at either side of his head. They say a picture can tell a thousand words, I do believe he was shouting, ‘will you get me out of this tight space immediately, can’t you see I’m maddeningly uncomfortable with my hands growing out of my ears!’

Everything appeared to be fine - good growth, plenty of fluid, the stitch in my cervix is looking normal and there was absolutely zero funnelling. I was the most relaxed after the scan as I had dared allow myself to feel in a long time. I was one day over the bridge from when I’d given birth prematurely to Ella. Twenty six weeks and ONE day. No scary news to report of, no suggestion that there was a problem or that there was going to be one. As I got up to wipe the messy jelly off my stomach the sonographer said that things were looking hopeful.  I caught her eye and smiled.

Sitting in the waiting room to see the consultant a woman came and sat next to me for her appointment. She was absolutely delightful and asked me a bunch of questions in such rapid succession that I tried my best not to laugh. However she asked the one question I still catch myself on, ‘is this your first child?'  At which point I tentatively replied, ‘yes.'  I struggle to know what to say when I get asked that, but when it comes to strangers I’d hate for them to feel uncomfortable, or think that they’ve upset me. It’s easier to say yes, though perhaps there will come a time when I’m brave enough to say, ‘no, this is my second’…….

It was from chatting with this lady that the bomb hit. She asked when I was due and I said April, with a motion of my hand that suggested ages away. ‘Wow, not long then! It’s really only a few more weeks, how exciting for you!'  I suddenly realised I’ve been saying my due date was next year and now in the blink of a moment it's changed (like wheels being hastily replaced on a Formula 1 racing car) to this year. THIS GOD DAMN YEAR. As I sat stock still with my mouth gaping a nurse approached and asked the lady for a urine sample, she nipped off and the last I saw of her was when she waved back at me from the examination room.  When reality bites, it bites you hard.

The honest truth?  Since I discovered I was pregnant I’ve avoided thinking about how we may be granted the most incredible of miracles all over again. I’ve been in denial about being able to carry a baby to full term, because due to my history it’s an absolutely terrifying prospect and one I was too scared to believe in. When your body has failed you so spectacularly and so cruelly in the past it’s almost too much to hope that it can do you justice next time round. Hope was pushed so far to the back of my mind that it was covered in cobwebs. Chris spooked and clung to whatever hope he could throw his hands on, but I found it impossible to believe in something that I'd suffered a crash course in a lack of for the past 2 years.

But as I type a sneaky toe of fresh hope is surfacing and it’s bold and brave and like our baby, it feels like it could be here to stay.

26 weeks and 4 days

Saturday, January 8, 2011

One Day

Just finished this, read it when you get a chance, it's brilliant. 

Maybe it's because I'm feeling slightly emotional on this rocky pregnant road (with my broad shoulders you could go as far to say unhinged) and missing Chris that I enjoyed it so much.

There's an odd familiarity about the book. If you were finding your way as a twenty-something in the 90's then this may well ring a bell, or at least remind you to love when you can.

All of the above inspired me to unearth old, hand-written love letters sent from Chris as he travelled the globe in search of foreign lands, amazing cultures, women and incredible experiences ;)

When a book simply encourages you to take a trip down memory lane you know you're on to a winner.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Out With The Old...

Last weekend Christmas was wrapped up and folded away for another year. The baubles were carefully stacked in a cardboard box and taken down into the cellar. The twinkling fairy lights, carefully at first, were eventually tugged off the Christmas tree along with the strange looking fairy who'd spent most of the time slumped atop in a 'jaunty manner' with her dishevelled hair, plump legs and funny crown (we've been told she can never be replaced as she cost a bomb). All were gently placed in a bag and put 'somewhere safe'.

Cards full of festive greetings, kind words and best wishes for the New Year still hang off the ribbon stretched around the ceiling in the kitchen. They too will go once someone remembers to bring in the step ladder. Themed clothing (like my woollen snowman jumper/dress that no one likes) and a couple of scary gifts (that I dare not dispose of) have been put aside for the local charity shop. The glade scented candle, chocolate and honey no less, will bring immense joy to someone with zero nose lining, because at the moment with my heightened sense of smell it's about to tip me over the edge.

Resolutions have been spoken about with huge enthusiasm and my great friend Lesley has inspired me with hers - though there's no way I'd accompany her up Kilimanjaro in April whether I was pregnant or not. Friends seem to be shelving old habits whilst creating new and challenging ones that have kept me wondering about my own. Needless to say I spent much of this week at work racking my brain about how I can do this, how I could do that and ended up feeling frustrated and annoyed by my lack of imagination. I think it's safe to say that carrying a baby has thwarted any attempt at remembering to pick up my wallet let alone trying to use the words creative and inspirational in the same sentence. This much I know, I am doomed never to play a musical instrument.

Though there was one huge thing I observed over the holiday season that I hope to retain and take with me into the New Year and beyond and that was one of renewed respect. Respect for family and friends and the love that they bring - it didn't go unnoticed, they brought it through the door and via the computer in bucket loads. I hadn't spent Christmas at home for several years and I drank it all in. I watched with complete admiration as my mum created amazing culinary dishes, fixed lunch at the drop of a hat, juggled grandchildren and animals with ease and joy and made everything look effortless. My sisters, along with husband and boyfriends, all took time from their busy lives (and flu death beds) to spend Boxing Day with us as a family. In his absence we held aloft a large photo of Chris driving a truck through Egypt taken 10 years ago as we sat around the table pulling crackers and eating leftovers.

Pod (our stepfather) made sure glasses were never empty and occasionally disappeared to have a quiet moment to himself - a man never happier than when his noisy family are gathered! Friends rang, friends came and stayed. I drank cups of tea til I was punch drunk and cuddled my cheeky niece and little nephew.  I read a vast pregnancy book of my cousins with my grandma whereupon she proceeded to tell me exactly how I should be feeling on each day of my pregnancy. I took time to walk the river to remember precious Ella whilst carrying the new life within.  I watched ET and saw Chinese lanterns float across the night sky with generous friends as we said goodbye to 2010 and welcomed in 2011. I spoke with Chris as often as was technically possible. He spent Christmas and New Year in Murchison overseeing the lodge construction which is continuing to tick along - though we may soon have to sell our kidneys to pay for the next phase. He had the company of some wonderful friends and although there's still a huge amount of much work to be done, I believe in him 100%.

So it's with love in my heart and a cherished amount of respect for mankind that I stride into 2011. Although it hasn't gone unnoticed there's very little striding to be had right now - at 26 weeks and 3 days pregnant I'm kind of strolling, if not creeping along and I feel like I've got a double decker bus up my jumper. Tragically my hair continues to resemble that of Jon Bon Jovi and Abby took great joy in saying today, 'what the hell's going on, it's enormous'. Out with the old and in with the doesn't bare thinking about, but I may just have to restyle my barnet into something respectfully glossy and shiny this month.  Now there's a thought.

Happy New Year to you all, may it be a wonderful one.