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8
Nov 11

Week 34 – Christmas comes early

Babycentre facts
Baby’s weight – about the size of an average cantaloupe melon, around 2.1kg
Length – 45cm, head to heel
 

This week our doorbell hasn’t stopped ringing with deliveries for baby Strong.

It’s surprising just how much kit such a tiny person needs. From a cot, changing table and bath to bedding, a buggy and blankets, our hallway has been overrun by what seems an insurmountable number of boxes.

It’s better than Christmas.

And just like an excited child, my initial instinct was to rip into each box and pull out everything inside.

Chris had other ideas. Not known for his self-restraint, he decided this was the time to begin paternal preparations and assert some authority over the situation.  

The first items we were allowed to unpack were the parts for the cot – and that had to be fully constructed before we could move onto box number two.

That first afternoon I assisted as Chris built our son’s bed and toy box (I was allowed to hold the instruction booklet, which, as a man, he of course didn’t need).

And as a reward for a job well done, we spent the evening going through the ‘fun’ boxes containing the baby’s bedding and other interior bits and pieces.

We haven’t hung about, and, while we are still waiting for a replacement for a broken piece of our dresser/changer, the baby’s nursery is now almost complete.

The new curtains are hung, his bathroom is kitted out and the Bugaboo has been assembled and pushed around the apartment more times than I can remember (my guilty pleasure).

I have also made a start washing some of the baby’s clothes which have been ironed and put aside for the hospital bag. Laundry has never been so much fun; you really can’t underestimate the joy of nesting!


17
Oct 11

Week 33 – the eight month scan

Babycentre facts
Baby’s weight – almost the size of a pineapple, about 1.9kg
Length – 43.7cm, head to heel

 

Every woman’s pregnancy revolves around just one day.

Your due date dictates everything, from scans and appointments to nursery planning and nappy shopping.

So it can be quite a shock when ‘B-day’ threatens to change.

At our recent eight month scan, Chris and I were told from our very confident doctor that we should expect our little boy to make an early appearance.

I had always been told that the majority of first babies arrive around two weeks late. And given Chris’ laidback approach to life, I expected his son to be no different.

But it would seem our little boy has other ideas. (My dad regarded lateness as a character flaw; perhaps baby Strong has more Hollingsworth genes than I thought).

While my 40 week date is November 15, we have been told to expect the baby to arrive anywhere between the 7th and the 10th.

We are at a bit of a loss as to why that is. Our doctor, while supremely confident in his prediction, is unable to explain the thought process behind it – when asked for clarification, he smiles and simply says: “He just will.”

It’s not as though our son is particularly big and therefore more likely to arrive early – if anything he is slightly smaller than his little peers.

Nevertheless it looks as though he will be making his entrance a full week ahead of schedule.

If I am honest, the news came as a bit of a shock.

To suddenly lose seven days so late on in any pregnancy is a big deal.

Everything has been arranged around a particular date, and suddenly last minute preparations have to be done in an even shorter period of time.

But they do say you have to be adaptable when it comes to children. So Chris and I have done the only thing we can do – taken a deep breath and sped everything up.

Yes, the nursery is still a state. And yes, we still really need to go on a shop for nappies, newborn clothes and hospital bag essentials.

But Chris and I are last minute kind of people – and I like to think we thrive under pressure!


6
Oct 11

Week 32 – back to (baby) school

BabyCentre facts
Baby’s weight – about as much as a coconut, nearly 1.7kg
Length – 42.4cm, head to heel

 

Pre-pregnancy, I used to look at expectant women and wonder quite literally how they slept at night.

The idea of having a baby terrified me – to the extent that if I thought about it too much I would start to feel incredibly anxious. And, as I say, I wasn’t even pregnant.

Now here I am, with eight weeks to go until B(aby)-day, and on the whole I feel surprisingly calm.

You see, pre-pregnancy you only focus on the physical, and not how you will feel emotionally towards the little person you have been carrying around for nine months.

Yes, there are the 8-12 traumatic hours to get through – but at the other side, our baby boy will be here, and life will never be the same again.

My more zen-like approach to the birth – which my Spanish doctor has told me will be easy anyway – phew!) – has been assisted by my weekly preparation classes at the maternity clinic.

It’s definitely worth the expense. As it turns out, I was completely clueless when it comes to babies, let alone giving birth.

I have never seen a friend experience pregnancy, nor have I spent a great deal of time with newborns… I have held 2 babies in my lifetime, while Chris has held just the one for all of two minutes. And he spent those two minutes sat rigidly on a sofa.

So, this really will be a baptism of fire.

But I have been taking all the notes I can and asking every question that pops into my head, no matter how stupid it might seem. After all, I am not asking anything that hasn’t been asked before, as Josefina keeps telling me.

So, here I am in my final trimester, and by rights I should be absolutely terrified.

But this really is the happiest and most contented I have been in my whole life. Yes, there are still the odd sleepless nights, but it doesn’t take me long to forget my worries and fall asleep again. Because our baby is absolutely worth it.


27
Sep 11

Week 31 – fabulous friends and birthday fun

BabyCentre facts
Baby’s weight – about as much as four navel oranges, nearly 1.5kg
Length – 41.1cm, head to heel

 

This week I celebrated my birthday – my last one before motherhood. It’s bizarre to think that from this point on I will receive birthday cards from ‘my son’ (provided Chris gets his act together!).

My 28th has not come at an ideal time given Chris’ work schedule. He is never home. And even on the weekends he is either in the office or spends all day at the dining table plugged into his laptop.

And it was really starting to take its toll.

Come Monday morning I felt pretty down and really lonely. Never seeing Chris, general baby anxieties and missing my family had gotten to me – that, and the fact that I had had about three hours sleep.

I made it into work around lunchtime. And I am so glad that I went in.

Knowing I had been having a tough time, my wonderful colleagues had arranged a mini baby shower for me (my first!).

Andrea had organised the most amazing cake – strawberry sponge, white chocolate, and baby bottles made from icing – and I relaxed and really celebrated with my friends with (a sip of) champagne.

It was such an incredibly thoughtful gesture and I was so touched by their kindness.

And from that point on, the week took a turn for the better.

Knowing he had to spend the day working, Chris pulled out all the stops for my birthday on Thursday.

He got up super early to make me breakfast – croissants, yogurt with fruit, and orange juice he had squeezed himself – before cards and presents.

Then, after a leisurely morning, I met him for lunch before heading out for an afternoon of shopping under the strict instructions to buy something for myself. (I failed, instead coming home with two towels for the baby).

He then hurried home to make me a special birthday dinner.

That was Thursday. Saturday I headed to a small town just outside Segovia to attend the wonderful wedding of Kath (one of the aforementioned work friends).

It was a beautiful day for two very special people, and despite attending on my own and being 31 weeks pregnant, I celebrated with the best of them, eventually exiting the dance floor at around 3.15am.

The following morning (and hang-over free!), I caught the train back to Madrid in time for lunch with my yummy mummy friend Jeanette and her beautiful baby Amaia.

We spent a brilliant afternoon together, discussing all things baby-related and taking a whistle-stop tour of all her favourite baby shops while still finding time to buy cakes and coo over her beautiful six-month-old.

All in all then, I would say this has been an eye-opening week.

Yes, I miss my family, and yes I miss my UK friends, but I am incredibly blessed by the people who surround me in Madrid.

And so, from my amazing husband and my thoughtful friends at HELLO!, to my fellow dancing queens at the wedding and my pregnancy guru Jeanette – thank you. I don’t know what I would do without you all!


20
Sep 11

Week 30 – my big baby bump

BabyCentre facts
Baby’s weight – about as big as good-sized cabbage this week, weighing in at 1.3kg
Length – 39.9cm, head to heel

 

I woke up on Monday morning suddenly looking very pregnant.

Just two weeks ago in the UK, a lady approached me and asked if I would like to attend a wine tasting event, failing to notice that I was seven months pregnant (a no-brainer if I wasn’t expecting!).

She wouldn’t make that mistake now.

Probably for the first time I feel like I have got a proper baby bump; I can’t see my feet anymore, which, by the way, have started to swell up at the end of the day.

And I no longer need to push my tummy out to bag a place on the metro – people see me coming a mile off and immediately give up their seats.

I must admit, I do love my big bump. It is helping me mentally prepare for the fact that I will soon be a mum.

I always imagined that when I found out I was having a baby everything would turn upside down. It hasn’t. Strange as it sounds, thanks to my problem-free pregnancy it’s easy to forget that our son will be here in just two months.

The down-side to my bump is the effect it seems to have on old ladies.

I have absolutely no problem with people I know feeling my tummy, but the novelty of strangers doing the same thing quickly wore off. One elderly woman recently grabbed my stomach with both hands and told me that the doctor was wrong, I am expecting a girl – she could feel it.

Still, baby boy seems cosy enough.

Finally I think we are out of the sharp kicking stage, instead his movements feel more like waves as he rolls around. He is growing at an amazing rate and is running out of room in there – Chris and I can now see each movement he makes, which is actually less freaky than it sounds.

So, it was as a proper pregnant lady that I (incredibly bravely) went along for those dreaded blood tests. Chris came along with me for the first one before he had to go to work (I think he wanted to make sure I didn’t run off).

I did them, and yes, they hurt. I asked to lie down in each one, and by number four I was visibly wincing. But I survived, and I even have the massive bruise to prove it.


16
Sep 11

Week 29 – the seven month scan

BabyCentre facts
Baby’s weight – almost the size of a butternut squash and weighing just under 1.2kg
Length – 38.6cm, head to heel

 

Doctors and nurses aside, does anyone ever really feel at ease in a hospital?

I don’t. For starters, there’s the negative connotations we all associate with them – surely having a baby is the only time its ‘good’ to be in one.

And there is something about waiting rooms that brings out all my nervous energy.

I know I am not the only one. I have looked into the eyes of fellow mums-to-be in the maternity unit, and I’ve seen the apprehension as they wait for their names to be called.

Yes, there is definitely tension in that waiting room – that said, I fear that the majority of it stems from me.

I am one of life’s worriers and it’s hard for me not to panic on the day of our monthly scans.

I don’t know why – I have had a brilliant, uncomplicated pregnancy. But I suppose feeling anxious about my son is a natural part of becoming a mother.

The seven-month appointment was no different. I started pacing the room until Chris pointed out that I was making everyone else feel really uncomfortable.

Of course all of my worries disappeared as soon as the scan started.

It’s the most amazing thing to see our son on the screen, and I love to be able to watch him wriggle around… Or not, in this case.

Clearly saving all his energy for his favoured nocturnal activities, our baby boy slept throughout the entire scan.

And I was totally smitten; I have watched the 30 second video of him doing absolutely nothing no less than 30 times.

Our son is a very healthy happy little boy, the doctor said, and everything is progressing perfectly.

That was the good news. He then told me that I had had some “bad” blood tests results following my dreaded diabetes test and that I needed to come in the next week for more.

Turns out that by ‘more’ he means four – in three hours. I cannot think of a less enjoyable way to spend a morning. But I will be brave and think of the bigger picture –it’s becoming my pregnancy mantra.


8
Sep 11

Week 28 – the final UK visit

BabyCentre facts
Baby’s weight – just over 1kg; close to a Chinese cabbage!
Length – 37.6cm, head to heel

 

“The next time we see you, you are going to be a mum – can you believe it?!!”

These were the words that followed me round the south of England as I visited family and friends for the last time.

And no, for the record, I can’t quite believe it.

My only trip back to the UK since finding out I was expecting meant that for many it was the first – and conversely the last – opportunity to see ‘the bump’.

I have never felt more pregnant than I did in those eight days.

The excitement over the baby and my ‘blossoming’ tummy was amazing; it’s something that I have really missed out on living away in Madrid. I was treated like a queen.

There was my first spa experience, a treat from best friend Lisa, which included a full body massage. It was a wonderful day, not least because we got to spend at least six hours in dressing gowns.

She and lovely boyfriend Tim even insisted on giving up their double bed for me, sleeping on airbeds during my three day stop-over. Oh, and she painted my toe-nails for me – now that’s a friend.

My godmother set up a sun lounger in her sitting room to help with my back pain – really bad this week – and once in said sun lounger I was not allowed to move as she brought me platters of strawberries and raspberries.

In fact everywhere I went, from my stepmother’s house and my inlaws, to the home Chris’ brother Alex shares with his gorgeous girlfriend Sabrina, I was made to feel so special, and very, very loved.

This affected me in a number of ways. I blame the hormones, but I welled up when Chris and I boarded our plane back to Spain. I miss my family and friends in the UK, and it has not been easy for Chris and I having a baby in a foreign country.

But this is our home now, and we equally feel excited and lucky to have the opportunity to welcome our son in Madrid.

It has also made me far more aware of how imminent parenthood is. Just 12 weeks. When I think of how quickly each Monday morning seems to come round that is absolutely terrifying, and there is still so much to do…

If everything goes to plan, Chris and I are hoping that we will be able to make it back to England sometime over Christmas.

And that will be the next time that I will see 90 per cent of our loved ones… with our baby in tow!

That doesn’t include Lisa of course, whose parting words to me were: “The next time we see each other, you’ll be going into labour.”

Well. If that’s not enough to make a girl cry…


19
Aug 11

Week 27 – and in the home stretch

BabyCentre facts
Baby’s weight – around 875g; about as heavy as a head of cauliflower
Length – 36.6cms, head to heel

 

Two trimesters down, one to go.

In less than three months baby Strong is due to make his appearance – alternatively I could say 12 weeks on Monday, but that sounds terrifyingly imminent.

And things really do feel like they are happening now.

For a start, our little man is on a major growth spurt – my sides and stomach are being seriously stretched and his kicks have transitioned from little flutters to more forceful movements.

All this activity has got me worrying about my stamina when it comes to D-day (I am an exercise-phobe and a weakling), so in the last two weeks I have taken up swimming in a big way.

To be honest, it hasn’t been difficult to find motivation – if I thought Madrid was hot in August anyway, walking/waddling around in 38 degrees is something else when you are pregnant.

So after work every day I am battling my way through splashing children and paddling old ladies in a quest to rack up some lengths in our outdoor pool.

I have also borrowed a pregnancy yoga DVD from a very fit friend and on cooler days am attempting to contort myself and my bump into a series of helpful positions – let’s just say, it’s a work in progress.

I suppose the big news this week is that we are flying to the UK for our final visit before the birth. After this I will be grounded.

I can’t wait to go back; it will be my last chance to see my family and friends before November and Chris and I will also – finally – begin nesting stage 1.

We have decided to buy our baby furniture in the UK this weekend – it’s cheaper and there is a lot more choice. So in a matter of weeks, our spare room will be transformed into a proper nursery (at the moment the only tell-tale sign of its future function is a small collection of clothes in the wardrobe). I have never been more excited about bedding and plastic baths.

The majority of our 11 day stay in England, Chris will be at the Reading Festival, so I will be hitting the roads in our hire car and thoroughly immersing myself in all things baby. That includes a pampering day at a spa with best friend Lisa – a necessary ritual for all pregnant women – and a series of shopping sprees in Mamas and Papas, Baby Next and however many other shops my swollen feet will carry me to.

Let the nesting commence!


17
Aug 11

Week 25 – the six month scan

BabyCentre facts
Baby’s weight – around 660g; about the same as the average swede
Length – 34.6cms, head to heel

 

Seemingly overnight I have succumbed to ‘the pregnancy brain’.

I was absolutely 100 per cent sure that my six-month scan was on August 4th; I told everyone, lined up Skype dates to show off the new pics and took some time off work.

I had also decided to arrive at the hospital early and undergo two blood tests for diabetes, thinking that the scan afterwards would be a lovely reward after a horrible hour at the blood clinic.

Well I was right about one thing – it was a horrible hour. I am terrible with needles, and having to wait around for 60 minutes after taking a drink so sugary my teeth hurt, seemed like a cruel torture.

But I bravely did the tests without running from the building – I had to keep telling myself, if I can’t have a tiny amount of blood work done, then I am REALLY going to struggle down the line – and headed off for my appointment.

Which, as it turned out, was the day before. What’s more, I had an appointment card with the correct date in my purse, and had also written it down in my diary. This does not bode well for my future as a multi-tasking mother.

Perhaps used to this level of forgetfulness in mums-to-be, the nurse gave me an appointment the following morning, on the 5th. So back we went to the hospital.

It was of course 100 per cent worth the return journey.

The six-month scan showed our healthy little boy kicking around quite happily at a good weight and size. He is already taking after Chris in one respect – he seems to have the large Strong head. But unlike his father, our baby came over all camera shy and would not be cooperative and turn around when it came to having his picture taken. As Chris put it, he looks a bit like a little old man with a funny eye in our scan video.

After our appointment, I asked if Chris and I could take a look around the maternity ward to get an idea of where we would be coming and what to expect.

And I am so glad I did. We knew it would be nice, after all Crown Princess Letizia had her daughters there, but we were really impressed. From my arrival, I will be given a big private room with an ensuite which will either have patio doors out into the garden, or a balcony. No dilation room for us. The room will be ours both before and after the baby arrives and we will be able to bring home comforts in with us, from music to a bottle of champagne.

We met a lovely midwife called Gema – since we share the same name, she said she thinks it is fate we will be teamed together come November – who also gave us a look inside the delivery room. Obviously empty at the time.

So from imagining a noisy, busy sterile maternity ward, I now know I will be having my baby in a flower-filled, friendly environment which has made me feel relaxed and happy about what is inevitably going to be a terrifying experience. The room is bigger than our bedroom – I certainly won’t mind staying!

Anyway, my next visit to the hospital will be the seven-month scan on September 2nd. Don’t worry, I have just double-checked.


3
Aug 11

It’s a boy!

On June 6, Chris and I found out we were expecting a baby boy.

It seems to be common practice in the UK to choose not to find out the sex of your unborn child – the majority of my UK friends wanted it to be a surprise and decided to wait until D-day.

That is not the case in Madrid. Generally speaking, all mums-to-be are told the sex of their baby at the four-month scan – one friend specifically requested that she not be told, only for the doctor to then repeatedly refer to her child as a ‘chica’.

Cultural differences aside, we wanted to find out whether we were having a little boy or a little girl as soon as we could.

From my point of view, it was all about bonding. Having decided to have our first baby on our own in a different country – an increasingly brave decision I have realised – I wanted to connect with my child from the outset. And the best way to do that was to find out whether it was a he or a she.

Until that point, my baby had been a slightly expanding tummy, severe nausea and extreme tiredness. Now he was a tiny little person, my little man.

Chris’ motivation for finding out the sex was different – and it seemed to have something to do with his Lego collection in the loft.

As one of three boys himself, he had his heart set on building dens and bringing his own childhood back to life.

He would of course have been delighted if we were expecting a daughter, but having a son has given him the perfect excuse to recapture some of his own misspent youth. Had our child been a little girl, it’s safe to assume she would have been signed up to rugby classes regardless.

I talk to our baby everyday – particularly now he is in the kicking stages – and knowing that he is a little boy makes that a much more personal experience.

It has also made shopping a whole lot easier. Not that I am going down the blue/pink route, but being able to decorate the nursery and pick out tiny outfits with my son in mind is a wonderful feeling.

So in a little over three months, we will welcome our little boy. And I am so excited to meet him. Yes, I could have waited to find out the sex and kept it as a surprise, but I think becoming a first-time mum on that day will be surprise enough.

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