This Patience Business

When I was producing our graduate film in college, the director came up with a great idea. “I know,” she said, “let’s have an original soundtrack!” Yes, fabulous idea. If you know lots of musos, people with talent, and someone who wants to work for free, or possibly less than that. Ideally paying us.
More in hope than anticipation I stuck up some flyers and thought little of it. Until my housebrick of a mobile trilled (this was the 90s)…

Enthusiastic voice: “Hi, I’m calling about the ad for a composer.”

World-weary twenty-year-old with low expectations: “Oh right, lovely. So do you have any experience?”

Still hopeful caller: “Well my name is Ray Harman and I’m in a band called Something Happens”

I nearly drop the phone.

Something Happens were an amazing and hugely popular Irish band (who still tour occasionally) and Ray Harman turned out to be a generous and lovely man who did indeed compose the soundtrack for our film. The experience reminds me that humility is underestimated (still cringe at the ‘any experience’ question) but equally that if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Right now one of their songs is fairly stuck in my head – the lyric goes

sitting on my hands to stop myself exploding/
I can’t get used to this patience business

I’m now 39 weeks, and getting a little… well, antsy.

With my due date falling towards the end of the month, chances are that Baby D will indeed arrive during July 2012 as I expect that the hospital won’t be keen to let me go more than two weeks past my EDD because of my age.

It’s brilliantly scary to think I’ll be a mum this month. I’ve had a few mini meltdowns which I’m attributing to hormones and to saying goodbye to my mum when she visited for the weekend. When I saw her arriving up the escalator at the train station, Mr D asked why I’d gone “all pink” – because I was about to burst into tears in the middle of Tottenham Hale. We did very little all weekend except some knitting and gardening. When I say “we” – she helped with the cardigan I’m knitting for the boy and then pointed out that what I thought was a white Morning Glory all along the trellis in our garden was in fact its pernicious lowborn cousin, bindwind. She sprayed the weedkiller I’ve been forbidden to touch, and together we ripped out perennials that had gone over and said ‘so long,’ to rose suckers.

It was fab. Low key, uneventful, and fab. Mum said she was so glad to see ‘her baby with a bump’. After all these years, she might never have thought that that might happen. Although she now already has one new grandson courtesy of my brother and another on the way. It’s totally endearing too how protective my brother has become towards me since his wife had a less than ideal birth.

Now all I have to do it wait. Without wishing these last days of calm away, or trying to second guess how things will unfold, and when. I’m filling my time with seeing lots of friends locally (particularly thankful for NCT group, only one baby has already arrived but we’ve passed a couple of due dates) and equally procrastinating about finishing projects like the boy’s quilt and knitted blanket, putting the pictures up in his room and gathering all the last bits from around the house which need to be actually placed into the hospital bag. That makes it all seem so very real, if we’re actually “ready”. You could say I’m stuck between ‘this patience business’ and ‘something happens’ – and trying to not just focus on how much limbo might be left.

Photo from muteboy’s Flickr stream under a Creative Commons licence

Buying maternity bras

In my book, there’s nothing like the boost from buying new undies and I have a healthy, cumulatively expensive collection of matching sets in a variety of sizes.
Being able to actually wear them is a dark distant memory, of course.

Buying maternity bras

Once I knew that nothing I had fitted properly any more, I stropped off to that particular high street store where one in five women buy their bras and after fitting, went home with a couple of soft cup numbers. The fitter was about twelve and morphed into the human embodiment of the word ‘aghast’ when I said I was still wearing underwired bras1. Well, when you normally wear a cup size that’s roughly a third of the way into the alphabet, you rely on that support.

The bras I bought were “ok”. Nothing spectacular. The fitter recommended leaving some room in the cup. Ok, but I could have actually stuck Mr D’s socks down there. What a good look – I was reasonably busty to start off with, so that would be heading into Dolly territory and it just meant that no clothing really sat right over the bras.

What might have been useful is a bra extender to literally extend the life of both the new bras I bought then, plus any existing, well-fitting underwear throughout pregnancy because they effectively give you more room in the back with three extra rows of hooks. When I ended shopping again for maternity bras, it was because the ones I bought were still roomy in the cup but the back band gave me an unpleasant welty red mark across my torso by the end of the day.

I asked various fitting experts what you should know when you’re buying maternity bras.

When should you start looking for maternity bras and what should you look for?

Kimberley from Brastop gave the following tips:

You can choose to wear an underwired bra in the first stages of your pregnancy once the wires are comfortable and they do not dig in but with this option you should be checked and fitted regularly because if your bra does not fit properly it can become painful and affect your milk glands.
It is recommended that you wear a soft cup or maternity bra shortly after your breast starts to feel sore or you can see a change in size… Look out for signs like spilling out from the top of your bra and soreness in the breast tissue and nipples.

Underwire or soft-cup

So do the fitters at Rigby & Peller agree with my midwife? Yup, they do.

For the first 2 trimesters this is best decided by the customer. Most women wear underwired bras everyday and prefer to carry on wearing these during pregnancy. For the last trimester we recommend wearing a soft cup bra, as due to the expansion of the ribcage and growth of the baby, an underwire can dig in and cause discomfort.

Buying online versus in-store

Getting into the habit of getting fitted each time you buy a bra, maternity or otherwise, is a good idea. Rigby & Peller’s recommendations for maternity fittings:

We strongly recommend that all fitting and refittings are conducted by a professional in-store. We suggest that our customers come for refits at least 3 times during pregnancy, but more often if they feel that their bras are no longer fitting correctly. During pregnancy the breasts may increase by 2-3 cup sizes so it is essential to regularly check that the bras are still the correct fit.
When fitting maternity bras, we ensure that they are a good fit on the tightest hook, to allow room for the ribcage to expand as the baby grows. We also ensure that there is room inside the cup to allow for a certain amount of breast growth. If the bra is underwired, the wire should be sitting well away from any breast tissue.

Online buying guide

For some women, going to get fitted in store, particularly towards the end of pregnancy, just isn’t going to be feasible especially if you’ve got problems with mobility or SPD so shopping online might be a solution. As long as you have time, or someone able to get to the post office to send back anything that doesn’t fit! As Brastop is an online retailer, Kimberley was able to offer some great advice:

When shopping online it is useful to have an idea how your body is going to change. Your breasts will naturally get bigger and swollen and you would gain a few cup sizes up, some women may not change drastically but the majority of women will gain anything between 3 – 6 cup sizes bigger

Here’s their guide to how to measure yourself before ordering online:

You can start by using your own bra as reference and a starting point, if you were properly fitted before this process would be more accurate. However if you haven’t been professionally fitted it might prove different.

Starting with the size you are wearing currently (ex 32G) … put the hooks on the highest hook, if it’s too tight then go up a back size (ex 34G), if it’s too loose go down a back size (ex 30G), and if it feels comfortable stick with the same back size (ex 32G). The hook on a maternity/ soft cup bra should always start on the tightest set of hooks but still sit firm against your body because your body will expand as the baby grows so this would allow you to loosen the hook and still be supported.

Once you’ve found your back size you should start with look at your cups – If you are spilling out of your cup then try going up two or three cup sizes (ex 32G to 32H/HH). The cup should always be a little bit bigger that your actual size because your breast will slowly get bigger and you will eventually fill the cups.

A maternity bra can last you between 1-3 months depending how fast you are growing so remember not to buy more than 2-3 at a time because you will need to buy another set shortly. Think of maternity bras as a way of preparing for when your baby is born, the baby will outgrow its clothes really fast and your breasts are the same.

Because you are buying online we would recommend you purchase one bra first to try to make sure you get the sizing right – to check you have, make sure the hooks are on the tightest and that there’s enough room in the cup for you to fit your hand in without your breast spilling out. Once this is right then you can purchase a few more.

Maternity bras for larger sizes

Coincidentally the Bravissimo catalogue arrived today, which reminded me of Rigby & Peller’s advice on choosing maternity bras for larger sizes:

For larger sizes, support is even more key to avoid strain on the neck and shoulders. A full cup bra is essential, with a rigid undercup to lift the breast from below. Hidden slings under the breast and at the sides can also assist with support. A wide strap and back band with 3 or more hooks will also help with comfort and support.

Bring back my lovely lingerie

In terms of choosing fabrics you’ll probably find that sleep bras are cotton although Panache do some better ‘dressing up’ options in actual maternity bras such as the Sophie which is soft lace. Friends have raved about Hot Milk although their website kind of puts me off because frankly, I haven’t spent much of this pregnancy lying back on a chaise longue looking fabulous….

Anyway at this point I’m about ready to look for nursing bras. That’s going to be a whole other story isn’t it?

Do you have a favourite maternity bra? What were your experiences of getting fitted?

*Vintage bra advert from Genibee’s Flickr stream under a Creative Commons licence

  1. this was with the approval of my midwife, and up til about five months through my pregnancy 

What to pack in your hospital bag

For some reason we’d been assuming that this baby will arrive to the world as late as his parents did (imagine, they used to let you go three weeks over back in the seventies, ahem) but it’s time to pack hospital bags. Just so they are there, waiting. As somehow ten weeks might not be that long at all.

So many lists of necessities I’ve found online seem to be retailer driven so I asked friends and the marvellous ladies of Twitter what they’d recommend – what they found genuinely useful, for them or for the baby. The list combines both the most commonly cited items, and some idiosyncratic things that I’ll be adopting. 

My bag:

  • Antiseptic wipes for the loo and bidet – seems sensible enough (sorry, NHS)
  • Maternity pads – many, many of these
  • 4 pairs of pants – disposable ones were recommended
  • Arnica capsules – to help with bruising
  • Dressing gown, slippers – things that remind me of home and are comfy, and lightweight as apparently it will be very warm in the ward 
  • My own pillow
  • Flip flops
  • Nightie or pjs – with accessible neckline for breastfeeding
  • Hairbrush and make-up, toiletries, own towel – so when I get to have a shower I’ll smell like myself again!
  • Clean going home clothes – something comfy that was suitable when I was around the five month mark. Not pre-pregnancy skinny jeans, and also easily accessible tops for breastfeeding
  • Breastpads and nursing bra – seems like disposable pads are best for hospital even if you intend to swap to washable ones later as you don’t know how long you could be in
  • ear plugs – I normally need these to sleep anyway, and they cut out the highest pitch noises
  • lip balm
  • hair clips and bands
  • pashmina or scarf cover-up for breastfeeding afterwards
  • Lanisoh cream
  • paracetamol
  • iPhone and headphones
  • Maternity tankini for the pool as we’re hoping for a waterbirth in the birthing centre
Baby’s bag:
  • 10 Nappies and unscented wipes – and cotton wool even though you’ll end up using wipes because that’s what the hospital tells you to bring
  • Clothes – at least 3 each of vests and sleepsuits – ideally in a few sizes as some babies seem to swim in ‘newborn’ or you might need the length of 0-3 months. Pack different sizes in marked ziplock bags
  • Baby hat – seems hospitals here are very keen on them although SIL in Ireland wasn’t allowed to put one on my nephew?
  • Scratch mitts – people suggested ones built into sleepsuits but I’ve yet to track those down
  • Blankets – multiple as they’ll be sicked on. But a special blanket is nice for the photos.
  • Muslins – these seem to be the single most important thing ever anyway. I’ve ordered two HUGE packs. 
  • swaddle
Mr D’s bag
  • Camera
  • Phone chargers
  • iPad – for him as much as for me
  • Damn fine snacks – for me, for Mr D and for sharing on the ward afterwards
  • Drinks with straws – for Mr D to feed me, hah, when hands are occupied with babies and trying to feed and a million other things

I’m sure there will be more to be added, and I’m going to need a steamer trunk rather than a suitcase at this rate.
Is there anything else that I’ve missed out – something you relied on? Please tell me in the comments!

Suitcase image from Lasse C’s flickr stream under a Creative Commons licence

Twenty six weeks

The stripeyness is a blanket-in-progress for my brother and SIL’s baby, due very soon. There’s very little on the way for Baby D as of yet, apart from a cardie I kind of screwed up. What can I say, garments are not my forte. 

There’s been lots of nesting around here. Major house reorganisations, including some grown-up decisions about how best to adjust (the house, god knows how we’ll fare) to having a little person around here. More details on those soon. When they’re finished

Pregnancy has treated me pretty well so far, up until about forty-eight hours ago. Then odema, heartburn, headaches and god know what else decided to descend simultaneously. Oh, wait, I do know what else. 

A bit of my molar fell off. 

Here’s hoping that’s it for now…  

Nearly halfway there

I’m getting more of a nesting mindset. And I’m about to use up most of our huge 5l bottle of Dettol. We spent most of the glorious sunshine time yesterday clearing out all traces of the rodent visitors we’ve realised must have been hanging out in our shed. Cue one exceptionally grossed out pregnant woman. Who is now disinfecting everything she can see. (We’re monitoring what’s happening and have sonic alarms in, and working on making it secure. By that I mean I’m sending big brave husband in there because I’m sure as hell staying away.)

On Saturday we’d headed to Hyperjapan. I’d been hoping to find some kawaii stuff for the nursery, as we’ve literally got nothing but didn’t see any housewares really. Not that that’s a problem really, as we’re not even halfway. Truth be told, I think I am waiting for the reassurance of the 20 week scan (Friday) before really starting to prepare for this bambino – and then I’ll probably choose some fabric and make some things rather than buy them.

I am uber-excited about finding out whether we’re having a boy or a girl. We strongly suspect boy, I’ve always pictured myself with a girl though. So finding out this week will let us prepare, and get excited. I’m quite anxious to hear the heartbeat again, or see it. 

Over Skype with my mum today, I caught up on the news from SIL who’s due in April. They’re totally prepped of course. We got around to talking about my own birth, and she told me things that I’d probably heard before, but this time I paid attention.

  • Mum went into hospital on her wedding anniversary, the 27th, as I was three weeks overdue, scheduled for an induction the next day.
  • Dad was staying at my granny’s and went in to see her on the scheduled date, the 28th. The hospital reception told him that she had gone into the delivery suite and to come back in the afternoon.
  • What had actually happened was, Mum woke up that day and had two breakfast options. (a) no breakfast (b) breakfast followed by an enema. She went hungry.
  • Nurse did an examination and upon saying Mum was (she can’t remember) “however many” centimetres dilated (I’m guessing about 9.75) decided Mum had to go to the delivery suite immediately. 
  • She was wheeled downstairs on a gurney, and was greeted by the cleaning lady.
  • I arrived.

It looks like I omitted some steps there, right? No, my mother didn’t have any labour, apparently. She certainly didn’t have any labour pains. I was just… there. She didn’t even get into the suite, I popped out as she was being wheeled down the corridor. She also reminded me that with my older brother, she got into a room in the emergency department in the hospital (at 1am after my granny, who drove her the forty-five minute journey because my dad was managing a night shift, banged on the door til the nurses opened up) and just about managed to slip off her Dr Scholl sandals and he arrived in the same manner. Oh yes, and thirty minutes later, she got up and went down the corridor to the payphone to call her mother’s house and announce that there was a daughter and my father should bloody well turn around and come back. In case you missed that, she walked down to call him.

What has this led me to conclude? That I should fervently hope that in the same way that you can often expect to have the same experience of morning sickness as your mother, the birth experience also follows? That some women really do blink and ‘get a baby’? Well, yeah. I’d love to think that the first can happen, my mother seems to embody the second. But all in all it’s just made me hope to be even half as awesome as my mum. 

16 weeks

I can’t make up my mind if the first trimester of pregnancy flew by or dragged.

Here’s what I remember from these three months.

  • the moment the little cross appeared, unmistakeable and immediate, in the display window on the test
  • hellishly sore boobs
  • not being sick, hurrah!
  • wanting to tell everyone – and we did tell close friends well before the twelve week mark
  • the metallic taste
  • losing the craving for [any food] as soon as we have some in the house
  • being completely repulsed by red meat
  • stuffing myself with Marmite on toast for exactly ten days then reverting to loathing it
  • slightly regretting throwing out all my ‘fat’ clothes when we moved house as they would have been grand as maternity clothes
  • everyone saying we were ‘quick off the mark’ getting pregnant just after our wedding – I remind them I’m old
  • the delight of early scans at 6, 8 and 10 weeks – fried egg, mini human, dancing baby stage
  • unremittingly itchy back and one cracked, Sahara-level dry hand
  • getting increasingly excited about finding out if it’s a boy or a girl
  • immense gratitude to friends who are donating baby stuff
  • low level but persistent tiredness which refuses to ease off
  • the constant and loud brain ticker of I’m-pregnant-I’m-pregnant-I’m-pregnant of the early days
  • utter glee at not having to change the cat litter
  • the excitement on my parents’ face when we told them over Skype
  • the first gentle butterfly flickers – this morning

That’s just for starters. Wondering what’s coming in round two.