Monday, 16 February 2015

Being a Working Mum

Little Miss Riley is now 17 months old and I have been back at work for nearly 8 months. I genuinely cannot believe how quickly that time has flown by. It only feels like yesterday that I was absolutely dreading putting her in nursery and getting back to the office.

I chose to go back to work full time, but I fit my hours into 4 office days and have Wednesdays at home with the littlun. In order to manage that I do long days in the office, at least 2 evenings at home after we have (finally) got her into bed, and some time on the weekend whilst Mr Riley has some quality daddy/daughter time. If my hours are dipping I can pop an annual leave day into the mix and it catches me up, but so far I have only had to do that once.

I also made the mistake decision to start a CIPS (Chartered Institute of Procurement Specialists) qualification. It is only Level 4, but with my second exam (of five) in 3 weeks I am feeling the pressure. Finding the time to study is next to impossible, so, for now at least, I come down from doing bedtime at 8 o'clock (either successfully or having handed over the job to Mr Riley) and do a mix of work/study, sometimes until 11.30pm. I am really looking forward to the gap between this exam and the next module starting!

Being a working mum has so many challenges. I feel really sad that 4 days a week I only have two hours at most of awake time with her in the evenings. We have been lucky that we chose a nursery that she obviously loves and thrives at. She spends 3.5 days there now (Friday afternoons are with nannan). I felt an enormous sense of pride when I dropped her off the other day and she gave her Upsy Daisy doll to a little girl who was upset, it really warmed the cockles of my heart!

I also feel really disconnected from my friends at the moment. Our wee girl is fantastic, but as per my last blog post, she is a terrible sleeper. For a long time it meant that evening activities were pretty much off the agenda, but she has turned a bit of a corner recently and will settle for Mr Riley, often more easily than she does for me, so I could leave the house... except that I'm working or studying or zoning out in front of the tv. It means that it has been such a long time since I made the effort to go out that I think people assume (and probably rightly!) that I will say no, so don't ask. I also feel that it's been so long since I was social that I've almost forgotten how. I have exactly two topics of conversation at the moment: my daughter and my career. Dull as mince.

However, I do feel like I have made the right choice. I really like my job, and with this qualification underway I am making it my career. I enjoy the challenges, the stresses and the interaction with colleagues. And payday. I loooove payday!! In an ideal world, I think I need to have a better work/life balance and I'll definitely take a bit of a break before embarking on the next level of my CIPS qualification when hopefully bedtime won't take so long and I'll be getting longer blocks of sleep on which to function. Being at work means that I try to make the absolute most of my time at home with my family. I regularly marvel at how stay-at-home mums manage to maintain the energy needed to entertain/chase/generally keep up with toddlers.

I think back to how much I was dreading returning to work after maternity leave. I worried about how the littlun would adapt to nursery, how I would get on in a job that I only started about 10 weeks before going off for 9 months. The transition, in reality, was actually pretty easy. I have occasional pangs of guilt when I drop her off in the mornings, but she generally runs into nursery and barely has time to look back and wave bye-bye to me.

Monday, 3 November 2014

My Sleep Confession

I now have a 13 month old. She is a 13 month old who amazes me every single day. She is funny, charming, adventurous, fearless, affectionate, independent, curious, intelligent and of course beautiful. She makes me smile and laugh and I love watching her develop and learn new things. I love seeing her explore her surroundings, she’s starting to pick up some Makaton sign language, she’s basically walking (or will be by the time I get home, she’s that close!), and despite her only words being ‘that’ and ‘yeah’ she is very good at communicating exactly what it is that she wants… who knew how much of life you could get through with just ‘that’ as your main form of verbal communication! But I have a confession to make: she does all this on broken sleep. Every night. Some nights are better than others of course, but on the whole we still have 2 wake-ups on a really good night and up to 6 or 7 (or 8 or 9) on a bad night. I don’t really mention this on Facebook or Twitter or in real life all that much. I just keep on plodding on, putting on a brave face, getting on with things. We’re on bad nights at the moment and, being back at work, I am exhausted. I long for four hours unbroken sleep, which is the most I’ve managed I think since she was born. Three hours (or less) is more common. This last week, since the change of the clocks, I don’t think I’ve got through a whole sleep cycle.

I’m sure I could Google “how to get a toddler to sleep” and find a myriad of advice. Add in “how to get a breastfed toddler to sleep” and I’d get even more. Some would be awful, awful, awful advice and some might be ok, but whether any of it would be right for MY toddler in THIS situation is questionable. It can be very lonely, and there have been times when I have felt like I must be the only mum with a baby who sleeps this badly. But I’m not. Rest assured, all you mummies in a similar position, there are loads of us. For now, I’m relying on support from some mums in a lovely, supportive Facebook group where we have a safe place to offload about anything and everything, sleep-related or otherwise. I remind myself that everything is a phase, and she’ll get through this one in her own time. After all, it could be teeth (I suspect we have her first molars moving around getting ready to pop through), it could be development, or it could simply be that she’s learning so much her little brain pops into gear and wakes her up… we all know what it’s like starting a new job and not being able to sleep due to having so much information rolling around in your head.

So that’s my confession. My life is lovely, but not ‘perfect’. My daughter is amazing, but doesn’t sleep through yet. I am generally pretty damn happy (not withstanding a few other big life things going on at the moment), but so very, very tired. I’d love to say I dream of sleep, but I don’t get enough sleep to even do that.


Friday, 14 March 2014

Tramps Together

A 27 year old mum from a town in Staffordshire that, until this week, I had never heard of and still don't know how to pronounce, has made it onto my list of inspirational women.

Emily Slough was photographed whilst she fed her baby on a sunny step.

If you've been away on holiday with no internet connection and are unaware of what has happened since this photo was taken, you'll be thinking "yeah, and?". I mean, that sentence seems fairly innocuous, right? Well, if I'd said that she was breastfeeding her baby, and the photo was taken on the sly and posted anonymously to a facebook page labelling her a tramp, then you may start to understand the importance of that moment. When Emily saw the photo, instead of ignoring it, she realised she was presented with an opportunity to make a difference. She has since organised a mass feed to take place in Rugeley this Saturday, the 15th March, and the support has been flooding in. Not just from Rugeley. Not just from Staffordshire. Not just from England. Women (and men) from all over the world have been offering words of support, encouragement and understanding. Facebook has been filled with beautiful photos of mums feeding their babies. The response has been incredible.

Breastfeeding in public for the first time is a nerve-racking experience. You don't want to flash any nip, but if you've managed to leave the house in those early weeks, you probably still haven't quite mastered the art of getting bubs latched on. You need to be able to see what you're doing, so using a cover isn't always a practical choice... it's just one more thing to try and negotiate. After that first time, however, it does get easier. You realise that most people don't notice and those that do try very hard to make it look like they haven't. I have never had any negative comments and only ever noticed one funny look, which I dutifully ignored. So why is this Mass Feed important? Why has Emily Slough made it onto my list of inspirational women?

Emily has been very clear that this is not a 'breastfeeding versus formula feeding' debate. For her, it is about normalising breastfeeding, and I couldn't agree more with this sentiment. I have proudly fed my daughter in public many times, but when I think back over my own breastfeeding experiences I realise that I have always chosen pretty middle class places. Even in Meadowhall, I found the House of Fraser shopper's cafe rather than sitting on one of the benches on the walkways. So maybe I'm part of the problem too.

There are many factors that influence a woman's choice about how they feed their baby, but being afraid to feed in public should never be the reason to not breastfeed. If Emily's response to that photo gives more women the confidence to feed in public, then she has done a truly amazing thing.

Emily Slough, you are my hero.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Boob Juice

One thing that babies have to be is fed. One thing that mums have to be is happy. Yet you go on to any parenting forum and the most commonly argued, most sensitively felt debate is breastfeeding vs formula feeding. Threads can get overtaken with the minority of breastfeeding mums who get on their high horse about it, or the minority of formula feeding mums who jump down the throats of anyone who mentions breastfeeding, however innocently, saying 'why are you judging me, just because I formula feed doesn't make me any less of a mother'. Of course it doesn't, but you know how it goes on these forums, someone takes offence, somebody else responds, it's all written down so nobody knows the tone in which any comment is made and before you know it insults are flying around and people are getting upset.
I chose to breastfeed (note that hugely important word 'chose'). In fact, at the point of writing this I am sitting up in bed, tablet on lap and baby latched on to my left breast. It's not for everyone though. Some mums just don't want to breastfeed, a tiny percentage want to but physically can't, and some mums have problems establishing breastfeeding (like cracked, bleeding nipples, problems with latch, pain, milk supply to name but a few) and make the decision for the sake of their sanity to switch either to combination feeding or to straight-up formula feeding. The most important thing, however, is that the baby gets fed. It really doesn't matter how that happens and mums should never be judged or feel guilty about their choice (there's that word again...choice).
The other day I was chatting to another mum and she asked how I had found breastfeeding. It's a funny thing, but I felt that I had to play down the fact that I love it. I said 'we were lucky that she seemed to take to it'. On reflection, however, I don't really think luck is the right word. I don't even think there was an active choice for me when I decided how to feed my baby. I didn't sit down and write the pros and cons of both breastfeeding and formula feeding. For me, it was simply the right thing to do, so I got on and did it. In exactly the same way that combination feeding or formula feeding is the right thing to do for other mums.
The reason I said 'we were lucky' was because of the reaction breastfeeding mums can get, where people can think you are being smug, or judgey, or whatever. You hear a lot about people feeling pressured to breastfeed and it is true that there is a lot of information out there about the benefits of breastfeeding. That is because the research has been done and the results published. It has been shown that breastfeeding reduces the risk of a variety of infections and diseases and that there are health benefits for both baby and mum. It is also free and, once established, so easy to just whip out an emergency boob when bubs needs food (or comfort). I don't think that the availability of this information should be seen as pressure to breastfeed, and I definitely agree that health professionals should provide the facts to all mums-to-be. How are we supposed to make an informed choice about anything without being given all the information, and yet there will be (a small proportion of) women who get upset and think they are being told that they will be a failure if they don't breastfeed. The truth is that whilst breastfeeding reduces the risks of certain diseases, it does not mean that every formula fed baby will be ill, or that that every breastfed baby will be completely disease free. Reducing the risk means exactly that: reducing the risk.
What you don't hear about so much is the pressure placed on breastfeeding mums to introduce formula. Twice before I even left hospital I was told I might have to give T formula top up. I don't know how in my somewhat emotional state I managed to resist, especially as a first time mum, but something got me through. Then when we got home it took T a while to start gaining weight, and the Health Visitor said something about 'if I insist on breastfeeding'. Insist. It felt like they expect mums to fail at it. Establishing breastfeeding is hard. Both mum and baby have to learn a new skill. It hurts (I can't tell you how much lansinoh I got through), you can end up sitting for hours, stuck under a hungry baby during cluster feeds, and you don't get a break, especially if your baby decides to refuse to take a bottle, as you can't leave them for extended periods of time.
The next thing that happens is you hear about formula fed babies who start to sleep through the night before their breastfeeding counterparts. Breast milk is designed for your specific baby and is so easily digested that night feeds are not only normal, but regular. We have had a couple of nights where T has slept from 8pm til 3am, or 4am and twice until 5am, but more often than not she still wakes 3 hourly after midnight. Desperate for a good night's sleep, breastfeeding mums ask for advice on how to help their baby sleep through and it is suggested that they introduce a bottle of formula before bed.
Next up is growth spurts and wonder weeks, when all of a sudden your baby can be all clingy and it feels like they are permanently attached to your boob, making you worry that your supply is diminishing, and you wonder whether you should introduce a bottle of formula.
Teething can make babies refuse the boob (known as a nursing strike), again striking fear in the breastfeeding mum's heart... are they getting enough, should I introduce a bottle of formula?
I have been through all of this. I would not have done so with so much confidence without this Timeline of a Breastfed Baby, which stops me worrying about pretty much everything breastfeeding related. I also look at my healthy, happy baby and know that she's doing really well. She is a very lean baby (making me HATE getting her weighed in case she has dropped centile lines, giving the health visitors another excuse to try and get me to formula feed her), but she's strong, wriggly, chatty, giggly, alert and just bloody perfect. We're doing ok.
Anyway, as T got older I thought these breastfeeding vs formula feeding debates on forums would die down. They have, and have been replaced by the controversy that is weaning. My best advice relating to feeding your baby is read the available information, make an informed choice that is right for you and your family, and avoid all feeding threads on parenting forums like the plague!!

Saturday, 7 December 2013

My birth story... 11 weeks on!

I have finally found time to finish writing up my birth story. All in all, despite it not going quite how I imagined it, I still feel like it was a positive experience. I mean, I got my beautiful little girl at the end!

Once I had finished work at 38+3 weeks pregnant, I planned to do something nice each day to make sure I didn’t get bored waiting at home. On Wednesday, 18th Sep, I spent a lovely afternoon with my mother-in-law and niece. We took my dogs down to Hillsborough Park for a walk. I got home around 5ish and started with mild contractions pretty much straight away. I went and picked Tom up from work and when he asked me how I was I replied with “I might be in labour”.
I took some paracetemol around 10ish and went to bed. I had downloaded a timing app and dozed between contractions every 3-7 minutes until around 1am. As a FTM, I decided to ring triage for some advice. I knew I wasn’t ready to go in at that point, but also knew things were progressing and wanted some reassurance. They gave the ‘have a bath and some paracetemol’ line. I decided a long shower would be better, and contractions came pretty regularly during that. I woke Tom up afterwards and we put my TENS machine on. About 4 we rang triage again and went in.

We had a bit of a wait and could hear eerie screaming coming down the hallway. There were a couple of women there who made me realise I was a long way off giving birth and had been a bit early coming in. When we were seen my suspicions were confirmed and we were sent home for the time being. It was now around 6am.
I went straight to bed and slept reasonably well until about 9.30. Contractions got stronger during the morning, and Tom and I spent the day watching shitty daytime tv… all those property abroad type tv shows. The TENS machine was pretty useful, and I started timing contractions again at about 11am. They weren’t particularly regular, and slowed down a bit during the evening. When they picked up again and Tom said I was sounding more like the women that had been waiting when we went previously, we rang up and went back in. I still wasn't dilated enough so they sent us home and told me to have a bath, which I did, but unless you have a comfortable, big bath, it’s not really very relaxing and it actually made me feel worse. Tom went to bed and managed to get some sleep, and I watched Dumbo and dozed on the sofa. I ramped up the TENS and found a setting that definitely helped. When Tom got back up we watched Mary Poppins and then the Disney Robin Hood. By this time is was around 6am on Friday, 20th September, and we went back in. I wasn’t quite 4cm dilated, but they decided to admit me anyway. We went to the delivery room and got comfy, listened to some music and let things progress. The next time I was examined was a few hours later and I was convinced she was going to tell me that I was only 4.5cm, so I was thrilled when she said 8cm dilated. I was really happy about this, and got pretty excited as I knew things weren’t going to be much longer, especially when she broke my waters, which were clear. I was coping alright with the pain, and gas and air took the edge off it when I needed it.

It got to the pushing bit. We tried different positions, but bubs just wasn’t shifting. The midwife who had been with us throughout this whole time was absolutely brilliant. Really encouraging, but she couldn’t understand why baby’s head was still so high up. All the monitoring of baby showed that she was doing fine, but just did not want to come out. They let me push for the allowed amount of time before getting a consultant in to examine me and discuss options. I had stopped using even the gas and air for the first half of this time as it was distracting me, but by the end was back on it.
My birth plan had always been to be ‘as natural as possible’. I figured this took into account that as long as baby came out safe and sound I would take the advice of the professionals. I specifically did not want to take diamorphine, and remember feeling relieved that the midwife agreed with me. After examination the consultant recommended an epidural and another drug that would simulate contractions, which did disappoint me, but I just wasn’t getting anywhere by myself. It was so that they could give me a break from pushing as I was exhausted by that point, and pretty out of it. They wheeled me down to the consultant-led end of the corridor. I remember being really confused whether they wanted me to keep pushing or to try and hold on, and asking Tom to find out. In fact, by this point, I think I was just using Tom as a middle-man to ask all my questions.

The anaesthetist came in and explained all the risks of having an epidural. I really had little clue what was going on, but forced myself to listen to the statistics he was giving me. I wasn’t able to process what the risks were, but my maths brain was able to listen to the numbers and work out if I should be overly concerned. I wasn’t. I had to really concentrate to sit still enough for them to insert the needle, but it quickly took effect. I remember being surprised that my leg wasn’t where I thought it was. It was the strangest feeling to have no feeling. They left me for an hour without me pushing to see if the contractions would push baby down any further. It didn’t, but both Tom and I managed to catch up on some much needed sleep.
At the end of that hour a different midwife joined us. They had decided to try another hour, but this time with me pushing with each contraction. I was in and out of sleep by this point and had to be woken with each contraction to push. At the end of that hour the consultant explained that they wanted to try for a forceps delivery, but that due to the position of the baby’s head, they weren’t even sure that they were going to manage that. If they had to abandon that procedure they wanted to be able to move to an emergency c-section, so I was prepped for theatre. I remember I had a hard job waking Tom up to tell him to go and change into scrubs… we were both exhausted!
All of a sudden I was in theatre with a bunch of medical staff, the midwife, the consultant and Tom by my side. I desperately wanted it all to be over, and about 20 minutes later it was and our little girl was born on Friday, 20th September, 2013 at 17:59, thankfully without the c-section. They whisked her off with Tom to be weighed (she was 9lb 2) and wrapped up. The consultant explained that they had managed with forceps, but that she had come out “like a cork coming out of a bottle”, so he didn’t have time to perform an episiotomy and I had a 3rd degree tear, but she was here and that was all that mattered.

I am disappointed that I couldn’t push her out myself, but it hasn’t affected our bonding. Whilst in recovery the consultant told me that there wasn’t any reason why I shouldn’t be able to have a normal vaginal delivery with my next baby. Honestly, I was still in recovery and he was talking about next time!

I spent a night and a half on HDU as I had lost around 1 litre of blood in theatre. We then had a couple of days on the ward as baby had jaundice and needed time in photo-therapy.
Apart from two minor incidents, the care I had at Jessops was brilliant. The food was less good, especially when I knew that Sheffield Food Festival was happening just down the road.
I had hoped for a normal, quick(ish) delivery with minimal help and a short stay in hospital, but I had prepared myself well for things going differently with the delivery. The only thing I hadn’t prepared myself for was 5 nights in hospital, and that was what I found the most difficult to cope with. I remember the morning I was transferred up to HDU from the ward being devastated when I was told that I wouldn’t be able to go home that day, but now it all seems like a distant memory!

She is now 11 weeks old and the most amazing little person I have ever met, and both Tom and I are completely smitten.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

38 Weeks Pregnant

38 weeks. That's how pregnant I am. I have 2 weeks until my estimated due date and even if I go overdue will have my baby in my arms at some point within the next 4 weeks. I'm trying not to focus too much on my actual due date, although I'm sure that once it gets here I won't be able to help wondering if that day, and every subsequent day, will be the day.
I had one of my most fed up days yesterday. It wasn't so much being fed up of being pregnant, I'm more than happy to wait until baby is ready to make their own appearance, but I just couldn't bring myself to do anything. I laid on the sofa in silence. I couldn't even be bothered to turn the TV on. I had loads I wanted to get done but just couldn't be arsed to do any of it, and yet I was dying of boredom. I knew if I just got up and got on I would have been happier, but, nope, I stayed put until Mr Riley rang to say he had finished work. I had a bit of a soppy cry in the afternoon, over nothing in particular, but if felt good to let it out. I don't think I've been too hormonal during pregnancy (although Mr Riley might have a different view on that!). I've had the odd day, but have mainly maintained my rationality.
My low day yesterday made me think about how important support is during pregnancy, and I don't just mean midwifery support, although mine has been excellent. No, I'm talking about the other kind of support... the hugs, the understanding, someone to ask stupid questions of, and just the people you feel comfortable to be around.
I've found mine in a variety of places, some I expected and some I didn't. Family has been the biggest one for me. My husband, my parents and my in-laws have all been brilliant. I have also been really lucky with work. I changed jobs at 30 weeks pregnant, and both teams that I have worked with throughout my pregnancy have been lovely. I can't imagine how difficult it could have been if they had been less supportive. I should also give a big shout out to my favourite Sheffield ladies... the Seven Hills Women's Institute girls. It really is an amazing group to be part of, from finding sensible answers to my stupid pregnancy questions from SHWI mums or mums-to-be, to just being able to spend time with the friends I've made over the last 3 years or so has been wonderful.
I joined the September 2013 Birth Club on BabyCentre. On the site you can sign up to your 'due date' month so you can chat to women who are about the same amount pregnant as you. I've never been much of an internet forum user, but actually it has been really useful. Don't get me wrong, some of the discussion threads have some, er, interesting views, but you can certainly pick out the useful advice amongst them. It has really proved to be a hugely supportive forum, despite its anonymity, and I think a lot of the women have found much needed strength through it.
Twitter has also been pretty fab, and a few September due date mums have found each other on there and will no doubt be keeping each other company during night feeds. In fact, just last night I was kept company whilst I couldn't sleep by some fellow uncomfortably-pregnant tweeters!
And cake. Baking turned my mood around yesterday. I made Raspberry and Apple Crumble Squares yesterday. They cheered me right up!
In fact... I'm going to have one with a cup of tea right now.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Full Term

Two milestones have been achieved today. Firstly, I am officially 'full term' at 37 weeks pregnant, so baby really could arrive any day (although I would be very surprised if this happens before my due date of the 22nd of September. In fact, my money is on October the 2nd).

The other milestone is that it is September, which will make baby one of the oldest in their school year as opposed to one of the youngest. Whilst in the long run I'm sure this doesn't make too much of a difference, in those early years the difference between a 4 and a 5 year old can be quite substantial, so really I'm happy bubs has held on this long. Mind you, Mr Riley thinks that our little one will come out fluent in 3 languages and wearing a smoking jacket, so we probably shouldn't worry about intelligence, right?

I haven't written much about pregnancy. I hated it to start with. I felt rubbish up until 22-23 weeks, but once I started feeling, and especially seeing, baby wriggle about I started to enjoy it much more. At this point, I'm getting pretty achey. My legs and pelvis take longer each day to ease off once I get out of bed, I have an incredibly sore rib that is tender to touch and uncomfortable no matter what position I am in, and some of baby's movements really take my breath away now. Braxton Hicks contractions are becoming more noticeable, but they are painless and I try to take the opportunity when I do notice them to really think about my breathing until they have eased off. I figured it's good practice for the real thing.

I'm still working, and haven't yet decided exactly when I'm going to finish. I'm down to 3 day weeks, which are lovely and the right balance for me. By the end of the 3rd day I'm ready for a rest, but I get bored at home if I'm left to my own devices for too long.

The strangest thing for me in this latter half of pregnancy has been the occasional bouts of anxiety that I've felt when leaving the house and having to be around other people. Sometimes I'll have really lovely conversations with people (at work, friends, complete strangers) about whether it's my first, am I excited, have I thought about names and so on. I have, however, also discovered there are a lot of things that people say that make me want to stay in the house and not leave until after baby is born, at which point I'm sure there will be a whole bunch of new things people will say that will annoy me!

So, here's my handy 'don't say this to pregnant people' guide:

1) Don't comment on the size of the bump
If you tell someone they're small or neat, you might think that you're being really nice. But a lot of mums-to-be have told me that this has made them really worry that their baby isn't growing properly.
I, however, haven't had this problem. Since before I was even 12 weeks pregnant, people have been telling me how big I am. It has made me incredibly self conscious about myself and I have cried many a tear. Yes, I am sure I'm not having twins, thank you very much. Yes, I am sure I still have 3 weeks (or 6 weeks, or 9 weeks) to go. No, having a big bump does not necessarily mean that I'm having a big baby, nor does it mean that I won't get to my due date. I have really, really, REALLY, hated these types of comments.
If you have to comment on what someone looks like, tell them they look well. Or even that their bump is lovely. You don't have to mention the size at all.

2) Keep your horror birth stories to yourself
I've not actually had too much of this, thankfully. It is not that I am completely avoiding the thought that labour is going to be incredibly hard and pretty damn painful but I actually feel pretty relaxed about the whole thing. I'm not scared. I genuinely believe that this attitude will help me out as the more scared I am the more likely I will find it difficult to cope. Squillions of women have managed to give birth before, and most of them without the support that I will have down at Jessop's. My body is designed to do this, and each contraction felt will be one less to go until we meet our baby.
Obviously, I might change my mind when it gets going, but I don't need your stories on how horrific labour is beforehand.
There are also women who are genuinely terrified about giving birth, and this kind of story is not going to help them.

3) How hard it's going to be
Similarly to number 2, this is about people telling you how hard life after baby arrives is going to be. We've had it with the dogs... oh, how are you going to cope with 2 dogs and a baby? Well, we'll follow the advice on how to introduce them to the kid, keep an eye on the dogs' behaviour and then get on with it. Our dogs have been around children of all ages, from really new babies to teenagers and we have never had a problem. Obviously they won't be left unsupervised, and we'll train the dogs how to behave around the kid, but we'll also train the kid how to behave around the dogs. Having said that, Levi is chief babysitter...
Other pregnant friends of mine have told me that they also get this about having a new baby and a toddler, or the sleepless nights, or a variety of different things. The thing is, we know. We know this is not going to be easy. In fact, we know that this is probably going to be one of the hardest things that we have ever done. And it's ok to talk about it... it's fine to give advice on establishing breastfeeding, for example, or tips to settle a new baby in a moses basket instead of on your chest, but don't just go on and on (and on) about how difficult life is going to be.

4) "How are you coping in the heat?"
You will be about the 20th person to ask THAT DAY. I'm Scottish. I never cope well in the heat.

5) For 2nd time ( or more) mums
ANY comment about the gender of the baby. 'Oh, you must be thrilled to be having one of each', or 'Oh, you've had another boy, will you keep trying for a girl', or any hint that you might love your baby less because of the gender. Really? People think that might happen? What a stupid thing to say!

6) "Was it planned?"
"Is that any of your business?"
Or, even more strangely, "Are you happy about it?". Even if we weren't, we'd probably not want to talk about it to someone we weren't really close to. And would you really want to hear the answer to be 'no'? What would you do then?
I think people who say that probably mean "Are you excited?", and expect either a 'yes' or a 'I'm pretty nervous really'.

Unless you're invited. Think about how you'd like it if someone came up and stroked your belly, or even your face without being invited. Not very comfortable, I imagine.

So, that's it I think. There are probably loads of things that pregnant women have hated. Despite what I have said here, we do like to talk about our pregnancies, but generally the nice bits, or possibly to have a bit of a moan about the uncomfortable bits.

Now that I've reached due date month, I don't want to wish away these last few weeks. When baby arrives, I'll have to share, but for the time being bubs is ALL mine.

Here is my 37 week bump. I know, it's huge, isn't it?!?!?!?