The Waiting Game

Today I’m 39 weeks and 4 days pregnant. I’ve been on maternity leave for 3 weeks already and whilst it’s been great, I am now more than ready to meet this little person who has been kicking me relentlessly for the past few months, testing out his motor skills and preparing to make his debut on the world stage.

It wasn’t an easy journey to get here. But neither was it a desperately hard one. We suffered one miscarriage before this pregnancy, something I have since learned is painfully common, despite being so often brushed under the carpet. That was a very sad time, but it also made us stronger, and more grateful than ever when the second pregnancy came around and was viable.

As the end of this pregnancy draws near it feels, ironically, less real than ever. We have all the ‘stuff’ that one is told one needs in order to prepare for the arrival of a baby, and in theory are equipped with at least a rudimentary knowledge of how to keep a baby alive for the first few months of its life. But the enormity of how different things will be any day now is still somehow eluding us.

The waiting is so strange. I know I have to go through the pain of labour in order to get him out, but until you’ve done it there’s no point of reference as to how it will be or how you will feel. Similarly, we know our sleep – something we prize above most other things in this version of our lives – is about to be decimated, but can’t truly imagine how it will be to carry on regardless, in the new version of reality we will be crossing into.

Most of all, until he’s here it’s so hard to imagine having a little person around us all the time, entirely dependent on us to find his way in the world, at least in the early years. The weight of responsibility to be good parents is huge, and to say we aren’t nervous about that would be an untruth.

And so we wait, excitement in our bellies and hearts in our mouths, every night settling into our normal routine – chat, dinner, TV, read – knowing that soon, so very soon, things will never be the same again. Hoping we can hack it. Hoping we can thrive.

Come on little one. Let’s see how we do.

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Changes

I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but there’s something amiss in my world at the moment. Possible reasons are:

a)      The weather (if in doubt, blame that)

b)      My best friend moving to San Francisco next week (I’m excited for her but will miss her tremendously – just thinking about it makes me well up)

c)       Lack of exercise – after months of marathon training it’s now been over 6 weeks since I did any exercise due to my training-related back injury, so the endorphin supply is running low

d)      Lack of sleep – probably due to all the other reasons, but in recent days my quality of sleep has dropped dramatically, and I’ve noticed when my alarm goes off I’m often slap bang in the middle of a traumatic /stressful dream, which doesn’t get my day off to the best of starts

e)      My overdraft, which is once again getting so large it’s scaring me

f)       Pressure to succeed in writing (see point e, though this is about far more than just money, it’s about realising ambition – or not, as the case may be)

g)      The onset of wanderlust (which may or may not be related to point b)

h)      A combination of all of the above (most likely)

Whatever the reasons, I’m feeling out of sorts and stressed, and I need an action plan to ease me out of the doldrums. That plan is as follows:

a)      Hmm, not much I can do about the weather…

b)      Not much I can do about the friend moving to the US either…Oh dear…

c)       Aha! Here’s one I can work on! Lunchtime Pilates class booked. Let’s see how that goes…

d)      Earlier nights. Switch off technology, have a relaxing bath and go to bed with a good book. This approach I shall trial tonight.

e)      Stopping spending is the obvious one, or moving out of credit crisis London? Neither looking all that possible in the immediate future…Stop eating perhaps? Become a Breatharian?

f)       This one’s obvious: Write more. And believe in myself more. Also maybe give up sleeping and socialising as well as eating in order to find time to get my writing where it needs to be.

g)      I would say go travelling again, which would certainly address point a), but since it would do nothing to help point e), in the short term I’ll just have to settle for booking a (very) cheap weekend away in the UK to keep the wanderlust at bay.

I’m so glad I decided to write it all down. Just a few ‘small’ lifestyle changes and I’ll be back on an even keel before you can say ‘it’ll never work’….

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Restoration Time

I’m not going to lie, it’s been a pretty exhausting two days, so I’ve more than welcomed the opportunity to vegetate all day today, watching back to back films (Pacific Rim, Stoner and The Hangover 3, should you be wondering-an eclectic selection to say the least) and eating Dominos pizza with my boyfriend and his brothers on his birthday. Tomorrow when the clan departs it will be nose back to the grind stone time, starting with a ninety minute run to kick start the metabolism after a weekend of booze and carbs and followed by a long writing session to begin to make up the eight thousand words I’m now behind in my NaNowrimo challenge. But that’s fine with me, because life is all about the yin and the yang, and after tipping the scales heavily in one direction with this weekend’s birthday celebrations it’s high time to reverse the trend and get back to sensible pursuits and healthy living. Move aside Dominos and partying, vegetables and sleep are back on the menu for the foreseeable future…

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Why busy beats boring

I know I’m prone to exaggeration but when I say this week has been ludicrously manic it’s not even an overstatement. First of all, there’s been work, where I’ve been flat out preparing a presentation to present to the Board of Trustees on my new communications strategy as well as planning and coordinating a project visit from HRH The Duke of York. Outside of work I’ve been spending my time doing a combination of marathon training (pretty sure this militant training plan is going to kill me – and it’s only week one) and writing my novel for NaNoWriMo (which, as usual, is limping along rather ruefully and being shoe horned in wherever I can manage). Oh-and on Monday I hosted a dinner party. And last night I ‘popped’ over to Heathrow to see off the lovely Sarah, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post.

Yes, it’s been a busy week indeed. But as I mull it over (before heading out for a night with friends) I find myself thinking, not for the first time, that being busy might be stressful at times but it’s nowhere near as bad as being bored. Given the choice of being super busy or super quiet I’ll take the former every time – because a busy mind is a healthy mind. That said, I couldn’t half do with some sleep…

Active imagination

Last night before I went to sleep I watched the second episode of my latest televisual addiction, The Returned (a French drama series about a group of young people who die in a coach crash and mysteriously re-appear ten years later as if nothing happened – if you haven’t watched it yet, do, you can catch it on 40D). With hindsight this wasn’t the best idea, since I was alone in the flat at the time. It also didn’t help that the light bulb in my bedside lamp chose to die as soon as the episode had ended, leaving me sitting in total darkness feeling somewhat freaked out.

Unsurprisingly, I woke up this morning having had a restless sleep. Not just restless, in fact. I’d had a dream – or rather nightmare – that I was the main protagonist in a slasher film, the whole of which had played out over the course of the dream. It was the most bizarre experience – I was the wife and my husband turned out to be the murderer. In the final scene I vividly remember thinking that I wanted desperately to run and hide, but I knew for the sake of the film I had to stay and provoke the murderer into having a pop at me. Fortunately in the end I managed to escape his evil clutches – unlike almost all of the other characters.

I really do admire my imagination, but I don’t half wish it would take a chill pill once in a while…

Insomnia

Sleep deprivation should be classified as an illness – and a serious one at that. Admittedly it affects different people in different ways, but few could claim not to find their mental capacity somewhat lacking after a bad night’s sleep.

I’ve always admired my mother tremendously for how well she copes with chronic insomnia. She’s suffered from it ever since I can remember, and has tried every suggested remedy under the sun to tackle it, with little effect. For some time she resorted to prescription sleeping pills but stopped taking them – much to her credit – because she hated feeling like a zombie. Now her sleep patterns are left to chance, and whilst some nights are better than others she still regularly wakes after a few hours and is unable to drift off again before dawn breaks.

Speaking as someone for whom sleep has always been a source of great comfort, I find the very concept of chronic insomnia unbearable. On those few nights where I have lain awake in the dark alone with my thoughts, I’ve felt a rising sense of anxiety that this, the one vestige of escape from the prison of my own hyperactive brain, was being threatened.

Because of course it’s not just the body that sleep helps to repair. It also helps restore the mind. At highly stressful times such as exams and relationship break ups, sleep is the only thing that takes us away from our stressors for a few short hours, allowing us to drift away and dream of other things. Without it, we are trapped in wakefulness, unable to switch off from daily life.

So it is much to people with insomnia’s credit that they’re able to function near-normally despite not having the respite that – the odd restless night aside – the rest of us take for granted. Truly I take my hat off to them, because if I even get an hour’s less sleep than ‘normal’ (which, for me as for most others is between seven and eight hours) I am noticeably (hopefully only to myself, but I’m sure it rubs off onto others on occasion) irritable, anxious and struggle to cope with even the most simple of tasks.

“To sleep perchance to dream” – wasn’t that what Hamlet said? And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to do exactly that.

This pic was taken on my 2011 travels, and captures a moment when me and my friend Alistair had partied so hard we conked out on the beach. Ah, happy memories..

Bank holiday ramblings

Today is an April showery-May-the-4th. Not having anticipated this in the wake of several glorious days of sunshine, this means I am umbrella-less, and therefore at the mercy of the weather gods. The situation is further compounded by two factors. Firstly, not only is today April showery in nature, it is also blustery. This, perhaps, bodes not well for a rooftop (ergo ‘open air’) party in East London. Secondly, sleep deprivation levels are high, my fail safe plan of having a quiet night in to prepare for the weekend having been woefully unmatched by the plans of the other residents in the abode in which I slept. Hence there has been no morning run around Regents Park (though see earlier point about rain-does this let me off the hook on that one?)

In short, conditions for embracing a full on weekend of social engagements are far from optimal. But you know what? It doesn’t even matter. Because not only is it a bank holiday weekend (I’ll admit it smarts slightly that I won’t be paid for Bank Hol Monday, since Mondays are my official days off now I’m part time), I’m also en route for baby cuddles in Herne Hill. And everyone knows baby cuddles make EVERYTHING better.

As i don’t have a snap of today’s cuddle, here’s one that was made earlier (ie last time)