Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The Waiting Game

Exactly two years ago, I was approaching 36 weeks pregnant and nearly into my forth week of maternity leave. After consulting various websites and forums, and disregarding my doctor's frankly laughable suggestion that I finish work at 28 weeks, I'd decided that 32 weeks was about right to call it a day, work-wise. Although at the time it seemed really early, looking back I probably made the right decision. My commute to work was 45 minutes each way and my feet and ankles were permanently swollen. I wasn't sleeping and found myself watching the clock all day until I could go home and go to bed (yes, I used to go to bed at 5:30pm). More importantly, I'd grown out of all my maternity work clothes and there are very few professions in which an exposed, stretch-marked midriff is an acceptable look. Mine is not one of those professions.

So, I packed up my mug, accepted my colleagues good luck messages, activated my out-of-office and off I went.

And I waited....

... and waited....

...and waited...

My theory (based on no medical facts whatsoever) was that as soon as I'd finished work I'd probably have a couple of weeks getting the last few things sorted out for the twins' arrival and then they'd be here. Not so much.

As both my babies were head-down (cephalic), and as I'd had no problems during my pregnancy, my consultant was keen to wait it out for as long as possible so that I would go into labour naturally and avoid an induction/ possible c-section (those of you who have read my birth story post will know that I avoided neither of these in the end!). The earliest she wanted to discuss induction was 38 weeks, so I just had to wait.

Looking back on this time now, I really wish I'd have been better prepared for the waiting bit of maternity leave. I suppose I thought I'd be busy getting ready for the babies, sorting stuff out, buying things, and generally "nesting". Well, maybe I'm missing this particular gene, because once I'd folded and re-folded each tiny babygro 40 times there didn't seem to be an awful lot of romance in it. Of course there were tons of things that needed doing: painting the lounge, cleaning the windows, scrubbing the grout in the bathroom, putting things in the loft - all tasks I was completely unable to undertake due to the sheer size of me + full-term twins.

After some outings in the first few weeks of maternity leave I didn't even feel comfortable going out on my own. I could still drive (just about, and only an automatic), and I certainly didn't feel like I was going to launch into labour at any minute, but I was very aware of falling over, or worse getting stuck somewhere. On one memorable solo trip to the supermarket I arrived back at my car to find a van packed very close to the driver's side. Not only could I not fit through the gap, but I couldn't even get in the passenger's side and climb over because I couldn't bloody climb over! Instead I had to stand next to my car, embarrassed and fuming, waiting for the van driver's return.

The stares I got when I was nearing the end of my pregnancy were the main reason I stopped going out on my own. I was clearly enormous, and any fool could see that I was having more than one baby, but the general public are a great deal thicker than the average fool, so people would actually recoil in horror as I approached, presumably on the assumption that I'd swallowed an elephant and was just about to eat them too.

So I was huge, uncomfortable, bored to tears, frustrated, exhausted (although I soon learnt the true meaning of exhaustion when my babies were born). Here's how I should have spent my time:

  • Watching films/boxsets that I've always wanted to see (whilst lounging on the sofa eating chocolates)
  • Reading books that I've always wanted to read (the trashy and the "important")
  • Cooking for the freezer
  • Mastering a handicraft (I've since learnt to crochet which would have been a brilliant way of whiling away the hours)
  • Having long phone/Skype conversations with family and friends
  • Inviting people to visit
  • Booking in helpers for after the babies' arrival
  • Looking at useful/interesting things on the internet, rather than reading about twin birth horror stories and getting scared
  • Putting all my photos in albums
  • Packing a useful hospital bag (FYI: 3 pairs of knickers is not enough)
  • Practicing with the pushchair and carseats (when we were finally discharged from hospital, we couldn't get the carseats out of the car)
All of the above would have diverted my energies from obsessing about the birth into much more healthy pursuits. I might also have seen all of Mad Men. Oh well....

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