Thursday, 30 December 2010

another year over...

So here we are, at the end of 2010. If someone had told me at the end of 2009 that this time next year I'd be doing my PhD and be 9 weeks away from motherhood I wouldn't have believed either statement, but here we are. The end of 2010, I'm well into my PhD and I'm 9 weeks away from being a mum. MENTAL.

I hope everyone had a nice christmas. We spent ours at His mums which was lovely. It was nice being with his family and because we've been together such a while now, I felt completely relaxed there, unlike christmas 2 years ago when I just felt awkward and couldn't let go properly. Normally at christmas i just eat, and eat and eat but because I hardly have any room in my belly anymore, and I didn't want to be suffering with too much heartburn, I went with the little and often approach, and actually hardly ate that much at all. Even when we sat down to the amazing dinner Him and his mum had cooked, I exercised quite a lot of self restraint! He did a beautiful starter of prawns in a saffron sauce that was just stunning. I didn't really need anything after that to be honest - and I didn't have any pudding til hours after that, which is very unlike me. Usually I'll eat 2 helpings of pudding and A LOT of cheese, but this year I avoided it completely :)

My favourite presents I got this year were a baby sling from one of my girlfriends which I'm so looking forward to using, a Vivienne Westwood necklace from Him and a beautiful journal from his sister. My dad has decided to buy the pushchair for the baby, once we've chosen the one we'd like, so our present from him was a homemade voucher to let us know that our actual gift is the pushchair :) Now we just need to find the right one! We got a whole load of kitchen things from various people, including a full dinner service from His dad, as we have no matching plates, or wine glasses, a coffee grinder from his mum to match the coffee machine he got for his birthday, and lots of knives which are great for him at work and fab for me at home as the knives we normally have are appauling. We even spent a bit of time sorting cupboards to make space for the new things which is very unlike him. Normally he leaves me to do it then moans that I've put things in stupid places, or moved something of his so it was nice that we did it together.

Bump has most definitely taken on a life of its own now, as you can tell from this picture of me with my mum and sister on christmas eve (I was 30 weeks on xmas day based on March 5th due date). When I look at it, it doesn't seem that big, but I guess its a combination of seeing it everyday and mainly seeing it from above which makes it seem much smaller. I can't see my feet anymore though so it must be getting quite big. My midwife says I'm measuring slightly small for dates, but its nothing to worry about and means the baby might actually take a little bit longer to decide it wants to be born, which is fine with me as I've still got lots to do between now and B-day.

I'm happy with the way my work is progressing, and think I've actually done quite a lot in a relatively short space of time. My supervisors seem really pleased with what I'm producing and they're confident we can get to a suitable point to stop before the baby comes. I'm still feeling motivated to do my work at the moment which is good, although the tiredness that I had in the early stages is starting to creep back in so I'm fitting naps in around my work. It seems to work quite well actually coz I do a bit and then while I'm drifting off I can process what I've done before tackling the next bit after my nap. At the moment I'm working on a review of policy surrounding the discharge and re-admittance of elderly patients while trying to identify key gaps where I can input my knowledge brokering literature. At the same time I'm earmarking bits that will be useful for the paper we want to write on the management of 'dirty work' in the discharge process AND I've written a 2000 word essay for one of my modules, in a record time of 3 1/2 hours which I was very proud of. I emailed it to my supervisor who basically said it was excellent and recommended some slight changes we could make to the research questions I proposed in order to use them for the actual PhD project. So onwards I plod, but I'm actually starting to see the direction it's going now and can visualise what I will need to put in my end of year upgrade document, which I'd like to have at least a first draft written before I go on my 'maternity leave' if you can even call it that. I still need to get that all sorted with the admin people. Grrrr.

He's off to Nice for 5 days on Jan 3rd. I'm a bit worried about him going incase something happens with baby - I'm dreaming regularly about premature labour now so I'm expecting a bit of a self fulfilling prophecy but I'm sure all will be fine. I'm kinda looking forward to a few days on my own really. I've got emergency flight home money put to one side just incase we need it. While he's away I'm going to write my final birth plan and get a hospital bag ready just incase we need it. I'm also going to wash all the clothes and blankets we've got for the baby so they're ready, and he won't get freaked out by it all hanging on the radiators. It'll also give me the opportunity to be a bit of sorting and clearing round the house, taking some stuff to store at mums, and generally making the place a bit more baby friendly. I don't want to leave it much longer as I'm starting to struggle to do certain things, especially standing up for too long, or leaning over things. My hips are getting really uncomfortable, particularly at night, and I imagine once the baby drops and the head engages things are going to get a whole lot worse.

Although its only 9 weeks away, I'm not worried, or scared about what's going to happen. The idea that I'm going to be a mum still seems a bit odd, but more in a 'new aspect of my identity' way than a 'oh god I'm not ready what do I do' kind of way. Going into labour doesn't worry me, nor does the thought of giving birth. I'm not scared or concerned about what it will be like or if it will hurt or something going wrong because I'm completely prepared for every eventuality and I don't see the point of getting worked up over 'what ifs;. It will happen when it happens and it'll go the way it goes, theres nothing I or anyone else can do about it. He has this attitude of 'it is what it is' which sometime irritates me a little bit, but in this case I completely agree with him. Worrying and getting scared won't change anything, all it will do is make me more nervous about going into labour and the actual birth and that'll undo all the careful preparation I've been doing with my relaxation techniques and positive enforcement techniques. I'm actually really looking forward to the experience of labour and the feeling of knowing every surge that passes is bringing me closer to meeting my baby, and what could possibly be scary about that?!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Something amazing

How incredible is this research... says it all about the importance of the mother/baby bond and how the good intentions of medical staff can actually damage that

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

The Birth Plan

This week we went to our Mindful Mamma birthing workshop, which I'd decided to do rather than the usual birth classes everyone goes to. I chose to take this class because I don't really buy into the medical model of childbirth and although I accept that yes, there is a place for medicine in some circumstances, I really don't feel that the process of childbirth should be viewed as a medical process. I firmly believe that birth is a completely natural process, and when a woman is left to her own devices, she can birth her baby without pain, without pain relief and without any medical interventions like sweeps, having waters broken or caesarians.
Research has shown that many animals give birth without pain, and without the need for any medical help, yet we, the most sophisticated and advanced mammals on the planet need doctors and drugs and to scream and shout when we birth our babies - the very thing we were put on the Earth to do.

Not everyone thinks the same as me, I accept that, and I'm certainly not trying to change anyones mind. The course was exactly what I wanted to be, and was taught from the same standpoint as mine. We spent the morning exploring different approaches to birth ranging from the medical model, to the hypnobirthing model which is the complete opposite. Hypnobirthing rejects medicine completely, doesn't allow the use of words such as pain or contraction and doesn't allow any medical intervention, not even the use of a heartrate monitor during labour. Although I agree with a lot of the principles behind hypnobirthing, its a little bit too extreme for me. Mindful birthing acknowledges the need for medical proceedures in some cases but completely advocates the natural birth movement. It holds that with the right knowledge, and the right techniques, women can have an enjoyable birth experience free from pain. If women can understand the process of birth, how the muscles work, and the effect of natural hormones on the body during labour, we can approach birth positively, without fear of pain. Fear causes the body to become tense, preventing the production of oxytocin and natural anaesthetics in the body, so instead it produces stress hormones and tenses up. The flight or fight response to fear causes blood to flow to the extremities and away from the uterus, putting the baby under stress. This increases the likelihood of caesarian. All this tension means that the muscles fight against contractions and the movement of the baby leading to unnecessary pain. So approaching birth with a positive attitude and knowledge of what is happening is more likely to reduce any pain perpetuated by fears. Common sense really, nothing radical.

Other factors are important, such as environment - research has shown that women who give birth at home, in a place where they feel safe, comfortable and in control, are less likely to experience pain, or need any interventions, and are more likely to have shorter labours, enjoyable experiences of birth and have more contented babies. This increases exponentially when combined with a water birth. So after a lot of discussion and a bit of research, we have decided that we are going to have a pain relief free water birth at home!!

A home birth is something I wanted to do from the moment I found out I was pregnant, but He was reluctant to as he thought babies should be born in hospital. Now that he's learned a bit more about it though, he understands the advantages not just for me but for the baby, and for him too, as he won't have to spend hours feeling uncomfortable and perhaps useless at the hospital and instead can be relaxing at home. We've researched birthing pools and we can buy one for £90 with all the kit we need, or hire one for £80 for 5 weeks and it will easily fit in our front room. We'll move the tv out, and put lots of rugs on the floor to keep it warm. Anyone who needs to get in or out of house can come through the back door so I'm not being disturbed all the time and the advantage of being at home is that anyone who wants to be here, can be. If we were at the hospital, I could only have two people with me, but a few people have asked if they can be there, and to be honest, I don't really mind. I'll be so wrapped up in my breathing techniques and should in theory be in an altered state, that I won't be aware of who's there and who's not.

I've got a great cd full of relaxing music and self hypnosis techniques which I'll listen to several times a week so I can practice in preparation for the big day. It important to do it at different times of the day and in different places so I don't become conditioned to doing it at bedtime in bed. If I did that, it would make it much harder to then use the techniques in the middle of the day in a pool in my front room! I'm so excited about the birth now that we're both on board with the same plan and we both want the same things. The midlife says she'll come round here when I'm about 34 weeks so she can assess the house and make sure it's ok for us to have the birth here. As long as theres no complications between now and my due date, then theres no reason why we can't have our birth at home, naturally and just the way I want it :)

Thursday, 9 December 2010

My feelings on birth

This afternoon I decided I would watch some birth videos in order to prepare me for the big day and I'm so glad I did. I've got quite strong views on childbirth and labour - I don't think that medicine has a place in childbirth and that the whole process is completely natural and normal. Women used to give birth in fields without doctors or midwives or pain relief and I honestly think it should still be like that. Yes, women used to die during childbirth, but that was more to do with basic hygiene practices than anything else and it rarely happens in the western world now.

He doesn't share the same views as me - he thinks I'm completely insane for not wanting pain relief and for thinking I can do it without screaming and shouting and begging for an epidural. I'd like to follow the practices of hypnobirthing, which promote the idea that pain comes from fear. They believe women who are well informed and well prepared for labour and who birth their babies as naturally as possible are less likely to need any form of medical intervention, be it pain relief, an epistiotomy or tearing or to need a cesarian. The babies born using this technique are less likely to suffer trauma during the birth and to be calmer and more contented.

The process is based on self-hypnosis techniques and positive visualisation in order to 'breathe' the baby down and completely tune yourself in with your body, your baby and what is essentially a completely natural process that women are biologically designed to do. Doing this allows the body to take over and many women who use the technique find themself pushing without being aware they are doing it. Generally, hypnobirths are shorter, and the active phase of labour (where the cervix is fully dilated and the baby is born) is usually very fast. I've read lots of stories of women spend a few hours in labour and the active phase is a fe minutes - of course this is my first baby so I have to expect the process to take a bit longer, but I'm really ken to learn about the techniques and see if they work.

The videos I was watching today of women using hypnobirthing were just amazing. Theres no screaming, the father is involved too, usually in the birthing pool with mum, holding her and talking to her, or if its not a water birth, he's massaging her and breathing with her. Its a beautiful thing to watch, especially as mum smiles when the baby is crowning, and usually births the baby into her own arms and straight onto her chest. This is one of the best videos I've found - its not gorey I promise, everyone should watch it just to see how beautiful birth can be

I wish I could get him on board with it so he was as supportive as the dad in this video - a lot of my friends don't really understand what it's all about and think the minute I go into labour I'll be screaming and begging for pain relief. I'm determined to prove to Him and to them, and to my mum who doubts it too, that it really is possible to have a completely natural birth. Hopefully once we've been to the classes this weekend he'll understand more about it and he'll be more supportive of it. If not, I guess I'll be doing it on my own.

Monday, 6 December 2010

This sums it all up

I just found the most wonderful quote that sums up the relationship between academics and parenting and I just had to share it....

'Academics is like rearing children - willpower has very little to do with it. If you have a little baby crying int he middle of the night and you depend on willpower to get out of bed and feed it, that baby will starve. You do it out of love. Willpower is a weak idea; love is strong... you go to the baby out of love for that baby, thats the same way you go to your desk... caring passionately about something isn't against nature, and isn't against human nature. Its what we're here to do.'
Annie Dillard, 1987:75-6.

The ups and downs of pregnancy

This week has been really tough for me, I've been feeling very down, and quite moody and I think a bit stressed too. I don't want to say that I'm not enjoying my pregnancy anymore, because thats not true. I love the feeling of being pregnant and knowing theres a little person growing in my belly. Every kick and hiccup and movement I feel gives me this overwhelming feeling of love and pride and excitement at seeing the person that those kicks is going to become - but the not so nice things that come with pregnancy are really starting to get to me.
I've been suffering with the most horrible heartburn for weeks now. It doesn't seem to matter what I eat, when I eat it, how much I eat, if I drink anything at the same time, if I lie down to soon, nothing seems to make it better, or go away. Its constant and annoying especially at night. I've started to sleep almost sitting upright in an attempt to stop it, as its well known that lying down can make it worse, but that doesn't seem to help, and is making sleeping really quite tricky. I don't think I've slept the whole night through for 10-12 weeks now as I'm constantly waking due to pain or discomfort in my chest, to take more medicine, or to get up and walk about in the hope it will settle.
I've also started getting awful pains in my hips and across the back of my pelvis. It seems to be painful in the back of my pelvis during the daytime. and then at night my hips are agonisingly painful, to such an extent that I can't lie on my side without being in pain, which is another reason why I've been trying to sleep upright, as lying flat on your back is not recommended during pregnancy incase the weight of the baby cuts off circulation (I think). I've been doing some reading online and I think it may be symphysis pubis dysfunction
see more here...
All I can say is that it bloody hurts and I really hope it stops pretty soon after the baby is born (along with my heartburn) so I can stop being in pain all the time!!

At least I'm not having to get up a lot to pee at the moment - I can actually go the whole night without going to the bathroom which is nice, its just the hips and the heartburn (and His snoring) keeping me awake. On the plus side though, when the baby comes I'll be used to not sleeping and being shattered all day long!

I have lectures at uni from tuesday to thursday this week and have to give a presentation on my research on wednesday afternoon, which I can safely say I am by no means ready for. I also have to squeeze in supervision on wednesday lunchtime as my supervisor was stranded in Mexico due to the rediculous amount of snow we've had over the last week or so. I don't mind that it's been rescheduled, however had I known sooner, I could have spent a bit more time working on my lit review before I sent it to him - I have got stuff to get on with in the meantime but I would have liked to have added more to that for him to read before our next meeting next week.

I took bump to my sisters work christmas party this weekend - it wasn't really my thing and we felt a bit awkward as everyone she works with is much older than her, but it was nice to get dressed up and have a few hours away from uni and crafting and stress. I did however nearly kill myself in the car park which was covered in snow and ice. The only way from the car to the building entrance was up a steep slope which had no grit or anything on, and was pretty difficult to get up anyway, even for someone who isn't pregnant. Bearing in mind I was in heels, as it was a posh do, and my balance is a bit iffy due to my bump, it was really hard to get up without slipping back down and really injuring myself. In the end, I had to take my shoes off and walk up barefoot in the snow as it was the only way to get up the slope without slipping. It was VERY COLD(!) and not the most enjoyable 5 minutes of my life but I made it in the end. When we left, my sister went to fetch the car and picked me up from the door as there was no way I was getting down the slope alive - I wasn't worried about hurting myself, I was more worries that taking a fall could hurt the baby and keeping him/her safe at all times is my priority now.

We were supposed to go to our hypnobirthing class on saturday but due to the weather and people having difficulty getting there, it's been rearranged to next sunday. It means I have to miss our next craft show which is a shame. but as its on a sunday, its much easier for Him to get the day off work, as this is the busiest time of the year for him in the kitchen at work so saturdays off are out of the question.

We had two craft shows this weekend - we were meant to have one on friday too but decided not to go in the end as we didn't think it was actually right for us and we needed a bit more time to prepare for the two on sunday. Unfortunately, neither were hugely successful - it was a bit weird splitting up, but we still had the opportunity to do some networking and make new contacts which is always important, and we still made a profit so we can't really complain. Fingers crossed the one next weekend is a huge success :) I did think the stall looked really good though, considering I only had half the stock as the rest was at the other show...

We went to have a look at some pushchairs this weekend, and were a little disappointed at the selection offered in John Lewis. We're hopefully going to go to a couple of places with His mum later this week to see if we can find one we like. She has very kindly offered to pay for the cot we would like - I don't know if we're going to get it this week or not, but it would be very exciting if we did. Maybe having it set up in the house would make him realise the time has come for him to have a clear out and to move some things around to make space for the babys stuff - particularly the cupboard under the stairs where I would like to store the pushchair, which is currently full of boxes of his things that came from the old house 6 months ago and haven't been unpacked - in fact I haven't seen the contents of the boxes in the 3+ years we have been together!

Anyways, back to work, this lecture reading isn't going to do itself, and I still have a typology of knowledge brokers to develop....

Sunday, 28 November 2010

when life gets too crazy

It's been a while since I last blogged. Things have got crazy busy over the last few weeks, pretty much since I got back from holiday and I've barely had chance to enjoy my pregnancy let alone do anything else!

I'm frantically working on my literature review for my next supervision this week, and need to begin developing some sort of typology of knowledge brokers by sort of integrating other peoples theories and coming up with something new that I can call my own. If that fails I've got another route to go down for finding something novel I can research for the next 3 years, but time really is of the essence so IF I can nail this typology this week, I might just about stay on track. Theres not much more to add to this stage of the lit review - there is more but that can come after xmas. I just need to get my head around what exists in terms of theory so I can mash it all together for my typology and then some of the background type stuff I need - like what is knowledge? and all that philosophical stuff - can be worked on over xmas.

I've got supervision this week and then another 2 weeks after that so it'll be pretty difficult for me to turn anything impressive around in between them, especially considering I've got 3 days of lectures next week. The module is called 'Developing Management Research' and as part of the module, were asked to present for 10 minutes on our PhD research, answering specific questions so we're all talking about the same sorts of thing. The assignment is then a 2000 word write up of what we talk about in the presentation, so as long as I get that right, it'll hardly take any time at all to write up. We'll be able to discuss it in supervision this week so then I'll be on the ball and know exactly what I'm doing.

Oh speaking of assignments - the marks l for the Research Design and Philosophy module came back and I got an A along with some really positive feedback so I'm very pleased about that. Hopefully I can keep the standard up for the upcoming assignment, especially considering thats all I'm doing this year as I'm exempt from two and the other runs the week the babys due so I'm probably taking that next year, as I'm pretty sure potentially being in labour is good enough grounds for extenuating circumstances!

On top of all my uni work, I've got 4 craft shows coming up over the next fortnight with MollyQueen (the business my neighbour and I set up a few months back which I may not have mentioned before). It great that we've got them, and we've done really well at the last couple, but it's just bad timing as I could do without the stress of preparing for those as well as having to do uni work. Mums on holiday at the moment so I've been staying at her house and having very limited sleep as the dog is really restless during the night and he wakes up really early in the morning. Its like having the baby here already, just without the breastfeeding and with more barking! He is very sweet, and taking him out for walks gives me the chance to get some much needed exercise and to collect all my thoughts, but he's very needy, and has to eat everything I'm eating so I'm yet to complete a full meal in peace without having to give him some.

We've got our birthing classes this coming saturday. I've decided that I want to use hypnobirthing - I'll explain more about it in the next blog after the classes - and am consequently going on a special course to learn the techniques I can practice before labour. It's something thats become very important to me as it reaffirms everything I think about pregnancy and childbirth - all the ideas it talks about were things that I felt and believed in anyway so its fantastic that I've discovered a method that allows me to embrace it. I described it to one of my friends and she referred to it as 'Earth mother-y' which I guess is a good way of referring to it. She wasn't as sceptical as many other people have been as her mum used similar techniques with 2 of her babies so she's much more open minded to different ideas. My mum, some of my friends and my partner are a little less convinced - He refers to it as 'wishy washy airy fairy' but says I can do as much of it as I like, just as long as I'm doing it in a hospital. I have to respect that as it's his baby too and I want him to feel comfortable about the birth as much as possible, but if it was entirely up to me, I'd be having a home birth. He has agreed to come to the classes though, and is quite keen on being my birth partner, so hipefully he can buy into the whole thing as its really important he's behind it 100%. More to come on this next blog...

The pregnancy in general is going well. Bump is getting bigger, the midwife is pleased with its progress - at the last appointment she measured it for the first time and said it was slightly below average for the amount of weeks I was, but not to worry as theres plenty of time for baby to grow and we only need to be concerned if its not growing at the right rate. I heard the heartbeat, which was just wonderful. It's a shame He couldn't be there, but he should be at the next one coz college has broken up for christmas by then, and I'm sure she'll let us have another listen. As bumps getting bigger I'm finding it much harder to get comfortable, particularly at night and when I'm sitting on the sofa. I'm struggling to put my shoes on coz I can't really reach my feet properly anymore without it feeling a bit painful - and the worst thing is the HORRIBLE HORRIBLE heartburn I've been getting. It doesn't matter what I eat, how often I eat, how big the portions are, what I drink, if I don't drink at the same time, if I lie down too soon, nothing seems to make any difference, its just constantly there, niggling away. Especially in the evenings. I've been drinking gaviscon like its water and taking no end of tablets to try and keep it under control, but I think this is something I'm just going to have to cope with. I did get away with no morning sickness so maybe this is the horrible part I have to put up with. I don't know which I would prefer as sometimes the heartburn is so bad it actually makes me sick :(

I had a a bit of a scare the other day, as for weeks now the baby has had a really regular routine of when it moves around and I can feel it kicking etc. Well I hadn't felt it for a day or so and after lying awake all night desperately trying to feel something, and thinking the worst had happened, I rang the midwife who said I should go to the hospital just to make sure everything was ok - which it was. We had a good listen to it's heartbeat, which was all ok and the baby moved around quite a lot while I was there. The nurse did however say that I had large amounts of Ketones in my urine, which means that my body isn't getting getting enough fuel and is basically eating muscle to keep itself going. So I am officially under medical orders to eat more - which is great - however it's a tricky thing to balance with the heartburn. I eat too much and it hurts; I don't eat enough and it might harm the baby - my pain is worth it to ensure I have a healthy baby to love in 3 months time :)

I'm 6 months into my pregnancy now, and although I'm totally calm and relaxed (almost looking forward to) the experience of labour, and obviously having my baby here, I'm really starting to worry that I'm running out of time to get all my PhD work done as theres still so much to do and such a small amount of time left to do it in. I find myself thinking that maybe I have taken on to much by thinking I can still do it and be a mum, but I know I'm not the only person in this situation and I worked so so hard to get to this point, that I'd be foolish to even think about the what ifs, or to give it up. I will always have the option to take some time out of uni - it does mean that my funding stops - but it's an option that will always be there and will give me time to spend with my child so I don't ever feel guilty about having a career too.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Babys first holiday (kind of)

We're back :) actually we got back on friday but I've been really struggling to motivate myself to do anything since we returned - I spent most of the weekend in and out of bed, we were both shattered from travelling back home.

We left home on the wednesday night and got the train down to Gatwick where we checked our bags in and then stayed at the hotel there overnight. We got up at a much later time than we would have done had we not checked in the night before, and had breakfast in the airport before the flight left at 10am. 8.5 hrs later we arrived in Barbados, they are 5 hours behind so it was mid afternoon by the time we got to the hotel. Pretty much straight away we were on the beach enjoying the sunshine. It was a little cloudy but still beautiful and hot. Our room was lovely, on the ground floor right by the beach, and so quiet. All we could hear was the sea lapping the shore outside our window, and we had a little patio we could sit on. I took to sitting there in the morning, between 6am and about 7.30, getting the first sun of the day and reading my book while He slept some more.

On Friday, we went into Bridgetown, the island capital, for some shopping and to have lunch o the harbour. We were both determined to eat local food and had lots of fresh fruit, grilled king fish, fried flying fish, plantain and cou-cou (a bit like polenta) during the week. We were all inclusive, but He didn't go overboard on the drinking. I really enjoyed not being able to drink - I probably had the healthiest week I've had in a long time, what with all the fresh fruit, no chocolate, swimming, walking and salt exfoliating from the sea. Everyone said I looked great when we got back, and even He commented on how good my skin was looking. I certainly need to lay off the chocolate now we're home! I seem to have got through the whole holiday with very little heartburn, and since we got home its come back. I think its caused by dairy, as I've and things like cheese, yoghurt and chocolate since getting back that I wasn't eating on holiday. I think the baby is trying to tell mummy it wants to be fed some better food!!

On the friday evening, a tropical storm warning was issued for the island. There was a bit of rain during the day but by the evening the clouds had really gathered and it wasn't looking too nice. The storm hit around 11pm and we lost electricity at some point during the night. I woke early on saturday, about 5am, as the wind was strong enough to wake me up. I sat by the door and watched the storm get worse until He woke up and there was eventually enough of a lull for us to run up fro some food. We spent much of the day in the room reading, leaving only to eat - the staff were amazing, managing to put on three hot meals for us using the most basic of equipment.

By sunday morning, the storm had passed and we heard from our neighbours that it had been upgraded to a Hurricane and was on its way to St Lucia. Tomas had wind speeds of 65mph as it crossed Barbados and left significant damage across the island. Lots of buildings lost their roofs, trees were uprooted, power lines came down and we heard later in the week that people on the west coast had been without electricity and water for 4 days as a result. We had no power for 36 hours maximum and never lost water, and the damage was pretty minimal for us as we were the first bit of the island to get the storm.

Finally on monday the weather started to clear up and we were treated to some sunshine :) We walked into Oistins, the closest town, just for something to do and encountered a local who took us along the pier to feed the turtles. It was lovely to see and got us even more excited for our trip the next day. We spent tuesday out on a catamaran snorkelling with turtles and over shipwrecks. That was really special, something I won't ever forget. Wednesday and much of thursday were spent on the beach and in the sea, before we left at 3.30pm on thursday afternoon.

It was such a relaxing holiday, despite the storm, and gave us the time we needed to spend together, enjoying one anothers company, actually talking about things without the distractions of work and laptops. It sounds soppy but it felt like I was getting to know him all over again and I hope we can continue with that now we're back home :)

Bump has got big now, I can't even pretend to hide it anymore - not that I was anyway! The baby moves around all the time now and I'm just about figuring out its routine. While we were away, it kicked hard enough for Him to actually feel it, which was really really special. Hes taking much more of an interest now and is saying that he will be there for the birth, which is amazing. I really want him to be, especially as the birthing programme I've chosen places a huge emphasis on the role of the birth partner in the whole process and how it can really help strengthen the bond between and couple and their baby. He's even agreed to read the book I've got which is a huge step for him.

Speaking of huge steps, yesterday he texted me to say that we should spend the evening looking at baby things online together. It sounds so insignificant when I say it, but for him thats a huge deal. It shows me that he's really accepting that its happening now and knows that we need to start preparing for the babys arrival. We spent a couple of hours looking at pushchairs and cots and various other things - I think he was a little confused by it all but we've found the pushchair of our dreams and the perfect cot and have researched lots of other things too like door bouncers, changing mats and bedding. I'm going to ask mum if she can get us the pushchair for my christmas present, and will ask dad to get us the cot and mattress - we wont need it til the baby is older but we agreed that we would get it soon and can always assemble it nearer the time. I'm so excited to start buying big things now - I've got a drawer full of babygrows and toys and nappies and muslin squares already but nothing big and significant that really makes me feel like theres actually going to be a baby in our house. Two of my friends have just had babies and it makes me even more excited about seeing mine :)

I am however, really struggling to motivate myself back into uni work. I have looked at some stuff and printed lots of things to read but not really done anything yet. I am however going to visit a friend in Liverpool tomorrow so I'll have plenty of time on the train to get some reading done and that'll get me geared up fro doing lots of work. I think I'm just going to enjoy having the house to myself today and the opportunity to relax some more and feel the baby wriggling about.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Another scan

Yesterday we went for our 20 week scan (even though I think i'm actually 22 weeks but never mind) which is called the foetal anomoly scan. Its the one when you can find out the sex, but is also really important as it allows the sonographer to take a really good look at the baby and all its organs and measure lots of things to see if theres any problems or complications. It was a bit scary going in as I was worried there could be a problem, but my fears were unnecessary as our baby is perfectly healthy with everything in the right place.

The baby was lying with its feet near my belly button and its head facing downwards, as if it were in the right position for birth, which made it a bit tricky for the lady to get some of the measurements, especially the head circumference. I though she was going to have to put her little wand somewhere other than on my belly to see it, but luckily all was fine. We saw its brain (very weird) as she measured bits of that, and its spine, its bones in its legs and arms, its kidneys. liver and stomach and its little heart beating away. Its tummy had amniotic fluid in it, which is how you can see where it is coz the fluid shows up as a little black blob. Most of what was saw was a bit blurry and we would't have known what it was without her labelling it on the screen as she tool the different pictures. Watching its little heart was lovely though, made it all a bit more real.

The picture we got wasn't great, and like last time, what we could see on the screen was much better than reflected in the picture. It's taken me quite a while to figure out what everything is this time, but I'm just about there...

You can see its head quite easily, with its little nose, and lips and its ear on the side. Just in front of its mouth are its hands, I think the baby might be sucking its thumb, but I can't really tell. Its body looks a bit odd in the picture, I think it might have been to do with the angle of the baby in relation to the ultrasound wand, but the black blob in the middle is definitely its tummy, with the fluid inside it. This is what my belly looks like now... it literally popped out overnight!!

Yesterday I sent my literature review and essay to my supervisor so I'm enjoying having a bit of a break today. We're meeting on monday to discuss them so at least I still get a couple of days to tweak my essay before I hand it in. We go to Barbados in 5 days, and although I was hoping not to take any work with me, I'm meeting my supervisor 4 days after we get back, so I will need to at least do some reading on the train and plane. I am NOT doing any once we get there though. I plan on swimming, sunbathing, walking down the beach and eating lots of freshly caught local fish.

I think it will do us good to get away from everything for a few days, no computers, no work, no stress, and it might give us the opportunity to talk about lots of things to do with the baby and how we're going to make it all work, because its become quite apparent to me that we both have very different ideas when it comes to me returning to uni, the baby going to nursery, how we will share the responsibility etc, so we really need to get it all sorted and try to prevent arguments further down the line. It's just what we need to really get us talking properly, as we've never found it very easy to communicate. I'm really looking forward to going - not so much the coming back and having to get back into all my stressful uni work, but I shouldn't complain. It'll all be worth it once I've got our baby in my arms :)

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Drowning in Work

Well. last week was hectic to say the least. It began with 4 days of lectures, 10-5 each day, with reading to do every night in preparation for the next day. despite feeling like being back at school, with breaks and lunch time etc, I did quite like getting everything all over and done with in the space of a week, rather than having only a couple of hours once a week for 11 weeks. It does mean that there is technically less time to do the essay, as usually we get the titles and have 14-15 weeks to do it, even though no-one does anything until the week before anyway. The essay is due on Nov 5th, but as I'm on holiday, I have to hand it in before I go, i.e. before Oct 27th, which outs the pressure on me a little bit to get it done. Luckily, the title is a generic 'discuss your method' type question, open to interpretation and pretty easy for me to write after 12 months of research methods training. I do also have a literature review to produce for my supervisor by next friday, but that will inform part of the essay so I don't mind doing them simultaneously. It's just getting motivated to do them thats the trouble. I'm too distracted by baby stuff and crafty things that the last thing I want to do is sit and write an essay!

I met with my supervisor on friday, and he decided that in order for me to get all the work I need to do completed before the baby is born, we will have supervision every 2-3 weeks, and he will expect me to produce 5-8,000 words prior to each meeting. Yes it'll be tough, particularly as we get closer to D-day, but it needs to be done, and he's so much easier to talk to and more approachable than my supervisor last year that I don't mind really. I need someone to be a bit tough with me and keep me working, but at the same time to be a bit of a mate and understand what else is going on in my life. I'm so glad we get to work together on this project. He was such an inspiration to me at undergrad and I really want to prove to him that he was right to have faith in me then. Plus, he did his PhD in 2004, so he's not that ancient in academic terms, and it means he can still relate to what the process is like and understand just how daunting it is, even without anything else going on your life. I think we're gonna make a really good team and it's going to be a good few years working together - maybe it'll lead to new projects once I'm a post-doc, who knows.

Speaking of crafty things, I exhibited, with my future business partner, at our first ever craft show this weekend which was a hue success. We sold lots of our decoupaged frames, handmade cards and customised furniture, and got tons of positive feedback from other stall holders who commented on how professional we we're for first timers. The customer response was great too and we might have got ourselves a stall at a bigger christmas fayre next month :) We were so pleased coz its all just been a bit of a hobby for us the last few months and we said the night before that if we sold anything we'd be happy and if we didnt we'd carry on just doing it for friends and family etc, but we made way more than we expected and are now planning a website, and an expansion into wedding stationary too :-)

Bump is growing steadily. Still not quite obvious to the outside world that theres a baby in there and not just a lot of cakes and chocolate! I have put on weight elsewhere though, its not just my belly and boobs that are rapidly expanding. Unfortunately I've gained weight on my bum and thighs, but I always expected to as they are my problem areas and I've never been able to keep weight off from there, even when I eat healthily. He took quite a cool picture of my belly the other day with our bedside lamp shining on it. I think its quite arty...

... it's just a shame about my horrendously unattractive maternity bra! I've decided that later on in my pregnancy, I want to get either a portrait done, in really soft colours, of just my body, no legs or head - or to get a series of black and white photos taken of my bump, for me to keep as a memory of my pregnancy, and even to put on the wall of the nursery with the first pictures of the baby. I might suggest it to Him to organise as a christmas or birthday present for me perhaps.

We have our foetal anomaly scan next week, where they take lots of measurements and look at the baby really carefully to make sure theres no signs of developmental problems or illnesses - obviously some things we wouldn't know about until it was born anyway, but if there are any problems, they will tell us then. I'm sure there won't be but it's still an important step to cross. We won't be finding out the sex of the baby. He is determined to wait until the baby is born. I wanted to know to begin with but the further the pregnancy gets, the more I like the idea of waiting. As long as the baby is ok, and I'm ok then I couldn't be happier :-)

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Being a PhD student

After last weeks induction day (which was fairly dull and could have easily been communicate through an email) I've officially started lecture as a PhD student this week.

I've had lectures 10-5 everyday this week, with an hour for lunch and the final day is tomorrow. The module was 'Research Design and Philosophy' which I have done as part of my MA course, but my supervisors thought it would be a good idea for me to take this particular module, so I can meet the cohort and get used to the Business school language and way of teaching. If i'm honest, I've found the module actually lacks content, despite the 6 hours of teaching a day we've been having. If you were to ask me to explain what I'd actually been taught, I'd really struggle because, with the exception of a half hour discussion of ontology and epistemology on monday morning, theres been very little content that I could safely say was either philosophy, or research design. Theres been a lot of 'this is what I did from the speakers we've had, but very little discussion (or explanation) of the method, let alone the methodology, or any issues that may have come about as part of the research. All a bit annoying really. I'm certainly glad I already have solid training and understanding in this otherwise right now I'd be feeling totally lost and overwhelmed and scared!!

The actual cohort I'm with seem ok. I've got to know a few of them already, and there seems to be a little group of 4 of us that have lunch together and naturally gravitated towards one another. Two are in CLAHRC with me, and the other lady shares my office, so I'll be spending quite a lot of time with her I imagine. I'm pretty sure I'm the youngest, although some of the international students may be my age, though I'm not sure. I don't suppose I'll interact with many of the cohort though, as there are only 3 of us in my particular office, and we're in a building just off campus. That coupled with the limited amount of teaching time I'm having this year, means I'd better get used to my own company!

One of the ladies I've got to know quite well is a midwife (very convenient!) and after lengthy discussions with her, it transpires that I'm actually half way though my pregnancy, not 18 weeks as the ultrasound people thought. Its to do with a pregnancy being 40 weeks from the first day of your last period, which includes a period of about 2 weeks where you are not actually pregnant, but is when conception is likely to take place, thus the baby will be 38 weeks old if you give birth on your due date, not 40. This means that when you have a 12 week scan the baby is only 10 weeks old, as was the case when I had mine. However, when I went for mine, they readjusted my dates by 2 weeks, as if I hadn't had the latent period at the beginning. So instead of my original due date of february 22nd, they have March 5th in my records. This never sat right with me though, and both mum and I have continued to think that mid february is probably about the right time. So, to get to the point, the midwife on my course has basically said to go along with the hospital for their benefit, to operate on the basis that my due date is more likely to be mid Feb. That way, if the baby isn't here by then, they won't be rushing to induce me, as according to them, I'll have another few weeks anyway!

Long story short, I'm half way. Four and a half months done, four and a half left to go. And still no really obvious bump, though I'm fairly certain, by the time we go on holiday, it'll be more obvious. Speaking of the holiday, we go 3 weeks today, and He can't find his passport, which I've been asking him to find for bloody ages. He keeps saying he knew where it was and that I've moved lots of his stuff so now he can't find it. Of course its my fault. It's got nothing to do with his lack of organisation, or even a basic ability to put stuff away instead of leaving them lying on the floor. I think he's had it in his bag and it's fallen out when he's taken something else out, or he's dropped it when he's been out. I've certainly not seen it since we moved house, and if I had, I certainly wouldn't have moved or hidden it. I would have put it somewhere safe, probably with the travel documents, so we didn't lose it and have to fork out £12o for an emergency replacement!!

Monday, 27 September 2010

The Bump begins to grow

This week I am 17 weeks pregnant and I decided it was time for a new belly picture...

My bump is certainly looking more pronounced, and is starting to be obvious through my clothes. My colleagues at work have started to notice it, and some of the regular customers who know that Im pregnant too. One of the ladies who comes in several times a week has a daughter due the same week as me, so its interesting to hear whats happening in her pregnancy in relation to mine. She felt movement around the same time as me, and apparently has now felt a couple of kicks too. I may have done last night but I'm not 100% sure. I felt what I thought may have been a kick and then the same thing in the same place a couple of seconds later so it may have been - but we shall wait and see if anything else happens.

Theres nothing else much to report this week. I've been preparing for a craft show that my friend and I are doing in a couple of weeks, so I'm constantly covered in wallpaper paste and ripping up bits of magazines. I'll get organised and take some pictures of what I've been doing before I (hopefully) sell it all. Last day at work the day after tomorrow, and this time next week I will have had my first day of lectures as a PhD student. I'm yet to have my MA results tho. Hopefully I'll get those next week too.

We get our next scan in just under 4 weeks, and then a week after that we go to Barbados - well, I say we, it might just be me on my own as He can't find his passport and seems to be doing nothing about getting a replacement. I do quite like the idea of going on my own though. Might do me good to get a little time away from everything and relax before the frantic PhD work begins and we (mainly I) start preparing for the babys arrival.

I'm going to start exercising regularly next week, and when I'm back from Barbados I plan on starting pregnancy Yoga classes, and booking myself onto antenatal classes. My diary's gonna be pretty choc-a-block with things to do lading up to the birth, but I'm determined to keep busy, keep active and keep healthy for the rest of my pregnancy. As I keep telling people, pregnancy isn't an illness and theres no reason why I shouldn't do anything I'd do normally...

Thursday, 23 September 2010


We've both started looking at furniture for the babys room - which will be half nursery, half my study - although the baby will be rooming in with us until its 3-4 months old. We've both separately looked through the Ikea catalogue - I found it open on the cot page the other day even though I hadn't mentioned anything to Him about looking. When I asked which cot he liked, he pointed to EXACTLY the same one I liked. How cool is that?! So unless either of us change our minds, or find something better, I think this is the cot the baby will be having...


Isn't it awesome?

My little sister seems to be enjoying shopping for her future niece/nephew. Every few days she comes to see me with a new babygrow, or outfit, or something she has seen that was on offer and had to be bought. Yesterday it was a set of nappies and babywipes (with a free hat) which has been added to the pile of nappies and wipe I got on offer at the weekend (and I got a free changing bag too!) Lots of my friends have said that they want to get things for the baby but they want to wait until they know if its a boy or a girl before they buy anything. We will be waiting until the baby is born though, so they've got a bit of a wait.

I'm at the stage of pregnancy now, where to me I look pregnant, and He is definitely noticing a daily change in the size of my tummy, however, when dressed, I just look like I've SERIOUSLY been overdoing the cakes and I'm getting really self conscious about my tummy. Luckily the weather is cool enough for me to start wearing jumpers that hide my tummy, and really loose fitting vest tops that cover all sins and make me feel much better about myself. Give it a few more weeks though and I think cake belly will most certainly look like a bump - then I might be able to get a seat on the bus for once!

I'm feeling the baby move more and more everyday. I notice it when I go to bed, I think thats because I'm relatively relaxed and less busy so I actually notice whats going on. Most of the time I'm so stressed out at work that I don't really notice whats going on with my body as I just want to get the day over and done with and get home! I do love being able to feel it though. It like me and the baby have our own little secret that no-one else knows about and no-one else is aware of when its happening. I find myself randomly smiling whenever I feel it - I must look a bit crazy to other people having this little grin spread across my face from time to time. The other half has taken to lying with his head on my tummy when we're on the sofa listening to all the gurgling sounds as the baby moves around. He's actually started referring to me as Gurgle now, which is quite sweet really. He's definitely getting more involved in the pregnancy and doesn't look terrified when I mention the baby or anything to do with it anymore :-)

Yesterday I registered at uni so I am now an official PhD student, which is somewhat terrifying as it now starting to hit home just how much work I've got to do, and how quickly time is passing. Im really excited though as it means I can finally get started on something I've been working toward for the last 8 years, and I can't wait to get my teeth into the project, get back into the swing of lectures and reading and just generally researching again. I've really missed it the last few weeks - months even as I don't feel like I did much of that during my MA, which is a shame.

Only 4 more shifts left at work. Can't bloody wait to leave that place - and I'm so looking forward to saturday night as we've got two of our very good friends who we've not seen in over a year coming to visit :-) god knows where we're going to put them...

Monday, 20 September 2010

Time to start uni... again

This week is Freshers Week at uni... although I am not partaking. Instead this week will be my last week at work, as I am leaving next Wednesday 29th September. I'm sad to be going as I will miss many of the people I work with, and lots of the regular customers who I have made good friends with, but I am also pleased to be leaving as it gives me time to rest, and to concentrate on my phd work.

Over the past couple of weeks I've actually found the time to do some reading for my course, to try and get some background information on the actual PhD project, as its something totally new to me - and given that I have less time in my first year to work on things, the sooner I get started the better. The project title is 'Knowledge Brokering in Health and Social Care' and involves exploring how knowledge is transformed and transferred between health workers and social workers using certain individuals who act as intermediaries. Much research has considered the transfer of explicit knowledge, in the form of facts, data and pieces of information but I am also interested in the implict and more tacit knowledge that is developed within teams, but is difficult to share with others due to its unwritten and informal nature. The project will involve two case studies: 2 in mental health (1 adult focus, 1 child/youth focus) and the other on long term illness (again 1adult focus, one child/youth focus). I am thinking of looking at dementia in the elderly, and anorexia in teens for the mental illnesses, but am unsure on the long term illnesses. I need to discuss this more with my supervisors.

That reminds me actually, I had an email from one of my supervisors last week to tell me that he, and my other supervisor, are taking new jobs at Warwick University Business School and that they will no longer be able to work with me. They have however assigned me two new supervisors, both of whom I know, and one was the inspiration behind my route into medical sociology so I am delighted to be working with him. Both of them come from a background firmly routed in sociology as opposed to business and management studies, so at least we will all be on familiar ground.

I'm looking forward to starting the project and really getting my teeth into something new, but the closer it gets to lectures actually starting, the more I realise what a monumental task I'm about to take on, and how difficult the next three years are going to be, even without having the baby. I just hope that the rest of my pregnancy is normal, and relatively easy, so I can get as much work done as possible before the baby is born. The more I can get done, the more time I can have with the baby before I need to pick it up again, but I don't want to take too much time out, so as I don't completely loose interest and motivation for the project. I've worked so hard to get to this point that I don't want to let anything prevent me from achieving my goals.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

We have movement (and also a small breakdown)

I'm not gonna lie, the last couple of weeks have been pretty tough and its really starting to get to me now. The cafe where I work has just undergone a management change which has stressed everyone out, and theres been a lot of changes we're all trying to get used to. On top of that, a few people have left and we're very short staffed at the moment. Everyones working extra hours, and extra hard to get everything done, especially us casuals who've suddenly found our hours increasing from 5-15hrs a week to 35+. It'll be great when we eventually get paid for it, but its really taking it out of everyone. We're all stressed, overworked and overtired and its starting to show on everyone.

I feel like I haven't got the right to moan about it, because we're all in exactly the same position, and we're all taking on extra hours to help each other out, but that combined with trying to do some PhD work, keeping on top of my housework, not to mention the fact that I'm growing a baby, its all just getting too much to deal with. I've found myself acting completely out of character the last few days. I'm snapping at my colleagues, and saying things about them or to them that I'd never usually say, I'm short and snappy with customers which I NEVER do. I pride myself on my customer service and being able to put on a smile and treat everyone the same no matter how shitty I'm feeling - I actually had a lady tell me I was being rude to her the other day which really shocked me. I wanted to burst into tears I felt so bad.

It all came to a head today when my assistant manager felt he needed to say something to me, and that was it, that set me right off. I knew I wasn't being myself and I kept hearing myself saying things and couldn't believe I'd just said it. It's like I've regressed to being a stroppy teenager again and I'v got no control over what comes out of my mouth and I hate it. For my manager to feel like he needed to say something means its got bad - I wasn't even getting upset coz he was having a word, I was just disappointed in myself that it had got to that point and it made me realise that I've got too much going on at the moment. We had a really good chat and it made me feel much better to have a little cry and get a few things off my chest, and it was lovely that he was so understanding and supportive about it. Even he said he's been quite shocked at how I've been behaving as its totally out of character for me.

I had a word with my manager and said to her that although I understand she's in a difficult position because we're so short staffed, I need to be doing less hours and having more breaks, just so I'm not getting as tired and ratty at work, and I've got the odd moment to pull myself together, put the happy face on and just let whatever it is thats bothering me completely go. I don't want my colleagues to feel like they have to be on egg shells around me incase I snap at them, or to mollycoddle me - I'm a grown up, I should be able to keep myself under control - and I certainly don't want to use my pregnancy as an excuse for being out of line. Lets just hope that less hours, and maybe an extra day off helps me keep it together!

On a positive note, I did have an exciting moment at work today while taking a quick break. In the lower right side of my tummy, I felt actual proper baby movement!! It wasn't like anything I've ever felt before, not like trapped wind, or tummy rumbles, this was definite bubbles, like butterflies or something, which is what the first movements are meant to be like. HOW EXCITING, and its great to have something positive like that on a day like today to remind me how wonderful and amazing pregnancy actually is - its not all doom and gloom!!

Monday, 30 August 2010

Another scan

I took my first 'bump' picture the other day. You can't tell yet when I'm dressed that there's anything there, but I know that this is definite bump and not just too many cakes! Usually my tummy is pretty flat - you can see where it starts off fairly straight and then begins to stick out. Normally it just goes straight down, no sticky out bit. It's pretty exciting having the very beginnings of a bump, I want it to hurry up and get bigger!!

This week we went for another scan - our second attempt at a 12 week scan so the doctors could get the measurements they needed for the downs syndrome screening. I was a bit nervous about this one because one of His uncles had downs syndrome so that gives us an increased risk. But there was nothing to worry about coz the measurement was 1.79mm which falls in the middle of the normal range. Anything over 3.00mm is said to increase the risk so although we've not had the official results, we should be ok :)

The actual scan was AMAZING. So much better than last time. The baby was lying the other way around to how it was last time, and was wriggling around loads. It was kicking its little arms and legs about and rolling sideways, towards and away from the camera. We were pretty overwhelmed by how much it was moving, and how much more like a baby it looked than last time. I wish we could have had a video from this one because the pictures really don;t represent how good the whole thing actually was.

In this first one you can see the baby facing directly to the camera. It looks like a bit of an alien - its face is on the right side of the picture and you can see its round body and little stumpy arms and can just about make out its legs on the left hand side.

In this one, the baby has rolled away from the camera and has its back to us, again with its head on the right hand side. You can definitely make out it its head, and body and an arm on the top, and its legs on the left hand side. I think this is my favourite picture of them all!

This one has the baby lying on its back, like the last scan. The white line under its head is the bit they take the measurement from for the downs test and the other white line under its body is its spine and you can just about make out legs on the left side of the picture :)

In other news, I've finished my dissertation for my masters and now have 5-6 weeks off until my PhD starts. I'm really looking forward to it now. A change of project and direction, new things to learn and do, a totally different course structure, new supervisors, a new environment too. It'll be a great fresh start for this next stage of my career - and I'm so looking forward to having a regular fixed income for the next three years!

I've been working almost full time hours at the cafe for the last few weeks, and although it'll be great when my pay check comes through, its killing me doing so many hours. I'm sure in a couple more weeks once the tiredness caused by my pregnancy has passed, I'll be able to cope with it but right now, I come home from work and I go to bed. Even if its 5pm. I'm on edge all the time and I find myself snapping at customers and colleagues, and constantly wanting to burst into tears. Its safe to say, the pregnancy is becoming more obvious to everyone who knows me!

Thursday, 12 August 2010

The first Scan

Yesterday was a really special day for me (and hopefully for Him too) as it was the first time we ever saw our baby. I spoke to the other half about it the night before and asked him how he felt about it. He wasn't sure how to feel, but was adamant that he had to come with me to the hospital, even though it meant being there by 9am!

I was so excited when I woke up in the morning, I don't think I really slept properly. I just wanted to get to the hospital as soon as I could so I could see that there was actually a baby there, and that it was OK - and so I could go to the bathroom. You have to go with a full bladder to an ultrasound, it helps them get a clearer picture - its certainly not nice having the lady pushing around in your tummy when you're desperate for a wee!

Despite the discomfort, I still couldn't help but giggle when this wonderful little Jellybean popped up on the screen in front of me...

The large heart shaped area is my rapidly expanding uterus, and the baby, shaped like a kidney bean/peanut/jellybean is sitting at the bottom. its head is to the left, and the little bit on the right that's sticking up is its leg (not boy parts)!!

The sonographer also gave us a close up picture...

In this one, you can see everything more clearly. If you look at the head, theres a dark spot in the centre which is one of the babys eyes, and the whiteish area, which I think looks like a pair of lips, is its little heart, which we could see beating away on the screen. I think, but I'm not sure, that the blackish line that runs around the inside of its head is the outline of its brain, but don;t quote me on that one. It looks a bit out of proportion, and like things are in the wrong place, but thats normal. As the baby grows, its head will become smaller in proportion to the rest of its body, and will also lift off its chest, so its heart wont look like its in its mouth!

The most important thing that we learned from the scan is that the dates calculated by the doctor/midwife/general custom when you have a baby were wrong. Its all worked out from the first day of your last period, which was May 18th and you count 40 weeks from there to give you a due date. When I found out I was pregnant, I checked my diary and did some calculating based on when I thought we may have conceived, and placed it sometime around May 29th.

It turns out that I was (almost) right all along, as the scan has revealed the baby was conceived on May 31st and is now due on March 7th. Although I'm disappointed as this means I've effectively lost two weeks I'd already ticked off, it does give us extra time to prepare for the baby, and gives me more time to get all my PhD work done.

This week, we also booked a holiday!! My wonderful step-father decided me and Him needed some time to ourselves before the baby comes, so he has booked us a weeks holiday in BARBADOS of all places, at the end of October. I will be 21 weeks so it's perfectly safe for me to fly, and although it means i have to submit an assignment a week early, it does mean we get an all inclusive week in the Caribbean sunshine which will be just wonderful! So thankyou lovely step-grandad to be :-)

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Making it all work

So, now that I've got used to the idea of becoming a mum, I've had a bit of time to figure out how I'm going to fit my studies in with a newborn. Obviously, I am not expecting my carefully concocted plan to work, as babies are pretty unpredictable, but I have got Plan A, and B and C and maybe all the way up to M or N so I'm well prepared.

My PhD course is taught in week long crash courses, and you usually only take classes in the first year. My course is comprised of 5 modules - 2 of which I don't have to do as I've done them as part of my MA course and one runs 2 weeks after my due date so my supervisors have said I can take that in 2nd year, which means there are only 2 modules left to do. The first is in the first week of October and the assignment is due a month later, and the second is in December with the assignment due a couple of days before my birthday.

I do also have to write an 8000 word literature review before I have my first year review, which is scheduled for June, but can be pushed back depending on the amount of time I have off after the baby is born. In all honestly, I'm not planning on having any official time off, because if I take a suspension period, then my financial support stops, and I don't get any maternity pay as part of my studentship. If i'm 'working from home' then the money carries on, and as long as I'm organised, I can get a good chunk of the review written before the baby comes so I won't have a huge amount left to do before the first year review.

By the time I start proper serious data collection in my second year, the baby will be 7-8 months old and can go to nursery - I'm already on the waiting list for the university nursery, and the cost is subsidised because I'm a student so thats all perfect. Between the birth and nursery, either He will have to take his days off on the days I do go into uni. or mum can have the baby for a few hours. Its only really the first few months when I need to be there for breastfeeding, that the option for me to go to uni all day is pretty limited. Depending on where my office is based and how many people I share it with, I could even take the baby in with me for a few hours.

So thats the plan - obviously I'm aware that I may NEED to take some time out after the baby is born, and we'll just have to hope that financially we can cope by then - and this is all assuming that the later stages of my pregnancy are uncomplicated. I do always have the option to defer if things are getting too tough for me. The PhD can wait if needs be, spending time with my child can't.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010


Welcome to my blog.
Thanks for reading.
This blog is an opportunity for me share my thoughts, feelings and experiences of being a first time mum AND doing a PhD. Crazy I know.

I'm 23 and I live with my partner of three years, and our kitty cat, Ollivander. He works full time as a head chef, and I'm on the long road of studying to become a professor. We are currently expecting our first baby.

Academics has always been massively important to me. Even as a child I couldn't imagine that one day I would stop wanting to learn about things, explore theories and write my own papers and books. I'm on the path towards becoming a lecturer/researcher/full time social science nerd and I'm so excited to see where this takes me.

I graduated last summer with a BA (hons) in Sociology and am currently working on my dissertation for my MA Research Methods in Science, Technology and Society (bit of a mouthful I know). We call it MARM for short. Although the MARM is teaching me hugely valuable skills i'll need for my research career, I have found it a major struggle. The hardest part has been trying to apply the abstract things I've been learning in a practical sense and the dissertation - which is an extended research proposal rather than a research project - has actually been the bane of my life. I'm so glad it's almost over.

In October this year, I will be starting a 3 year PhD in Business and Management. Although the course title is officially business and management, I will still be heavily grounded in social science, sociology of organisations and sociology of professions. I'll talk a bit more about the project another time, once I've got my head out of dissertation mode!

At the time of writing this, I am exactly 10 weeks pregnant with my first child, a huge surprise to myself and my partner. I'm not going to pretend that it was in my plan to get pregnant at this stage of my career, if anything I'd like to have waited another 5 years or so, but now that it's happened, I couldn't be happier and I'm so ready for the challenge of motherhood, as well as taking on a serious research project.

Some people might think I'm utterly insane for doing both at the same time, and maybe I am, but if you knew me, you'd know that I'm not the kind of person to back down from anything. You won't meet anyone as driven and passionate about this PhD as I am, nor anyone more capable of taking on two gargantuan tasks. I have my parents to thank for that ambition and ability to handle anything thrown at me.

I know it won't be easy, i'm not trying to sugarcoat the situation and present it as this wonderful experience where everything will be candy floss and rainbows, I know theres a tough road aead, but I'm ready for it, and if I didn't think I could cope, I'd be taking the deferral my supervisors offered me.

Over the next few months/years, however long this lasts, I'll be sharing my experiences of pregnancy and how I'm coping, or not as the case may be, with combining impending motherhood, with the biggest piece of work I've ever done.

Wish me luck!!