Riona O Connor - The Unnatural Woman

Actor. Singer. Mother. Songwriter. Vlogger. Blogger. Eater. Pop over to to view more blogs by Riona.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Birth Story, Breast Gate & Baby Blues - THE WORST COMEDOWN OF MY LIFE

Two bottles of wine, three Jamesons and a shot of sambuca later, you’re home in bed dreaming of going to the toilet. You’re bursting, so in your dream, you get out of bed, walk down the hall to the toilet, open the door, pull down your knickers and sit on the loo.  You begin to feel the sweet release of your bladder emptying, when you wake in a blind panic! HOLY CRAP HAVE I WET THE BED???  You put your hand down to feel your own arse and the relief when you find said arse nice and dry is palpable.  That was my experience of my waters breaking, without the drink and without the relief at the end.  It was like a flood released itself from my vagina while I was sleeping.  It wasn’t a trickle, as had been suggested to me, it was Niagara fecking falls.  That £3 plastic mattress protector came in handy after all.  At 2am on a Tuesday morning, hubby and I found ourselves plonked firmly in every pregnancy movie ever made. We stayed relatively calm, other than some faffing with the incomplete hospital bag, and I even managed a shower before driving to the hospital in the middle of the night with masses of towels between my legs.  It’s funny how quickly you go from coy ‘oh no-one must see me like this, I must preserve my modesty’ to ‘ah feck it, the whole hospital carpark can see my foof if they must’.   It’s sort of unavoidable when you have a tap for a fanny and you’re desperately trying to stem the flow with your bathroom towels while making your way through the swarm of parked cars to the maternity unit.  

Natural labour kicked in pretty soon and to be honest, by the time I’d endured that horrendous tug of war from hell in my insides for 5 hours (in which the urge to panic is HUGE) I was delighted to get into theatre! The c-section, let me tell you, was ABSOLUTELY GRAND.  More than grand.  I felt very calm, a bit hazy mind you, but I think that was down to the labour pain and all the desperate deep breathing beforehand.  I felt baby come out  - there’s no pain though - at 10.01am to the sound of Tina Turner singing Steamy Windows (haha!!!) and saw my husband cut the cord before getting up close and personal with the little fella for the first time.

Bliss, is sitting in a pool of your own blood and sweat on the hottest day of the year, tubes coming from your urethra, holding your newborn baby.  Of course you could prefix ‘holding your newborn baby’ with pretty much anything and it would still be bliss.  That’s how I felt when baby arrived.  There were no heightened emotions or crying for me. No sense of exhilaration or achievement.  Just a sense of calm bliss.  It was how I felt walking up the aisle at my wedding, watching my sobbing soon to be husband at the top.  It’s a very simple feeling, very basic, very easy, and truly lovely.  Of course I didn’t realise I was sitting in a pool of my own blood for ages. I was high on bliss!  When I had to negotiate the clean up, the full horror of the catheter hit me.  I could feel it in me and see the tube slither out towards the bag of pee.  Upon taking it out, they told me that once it was out, to keep it out, I had to have a good solid pee.  By christ I drank for Ireland.  It was the best piss of my life.  

Doing ANYTHING with a newborn baby is impossible.  I now spend my time exclusively sitting on the couch having my boobs mauled by a very small boy, burping said boy and nervously hovering when he’s sleeping, wondering when he’s going to wake/cry so the whole merry dance can begin again.  My five weeks have been filled with the following insights...

Breastfeeding.  I’ve heard it’s hard but HOLY SHIT!!! In week one I found myself hiding formula milk in the wardrobe.  Yup, I’m a grown woman of 34 years and I hid formula milk in the bloody wardrobe for fear of the midwife finding out I had used it.  What the midwife would be doing going through my wardrobes is beyond me but I lived in fear of her criticism.  Of course I caved and told her I had to use it once or twice to keep the baby satisfied, she looked at me disapprovingly and encouraged me to only use 10ml.  Have you seen how much 10mls is??? It’s a fecking tear drop. How’s that supposed to feed a child??? Feck that!  Now that I’m exclusively breastfeeding, I feel a lot more indignant about anyone daring to judge me, but in the first few vulnerable WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING days, I was desperately trying to avoid those doubting looks.  The advice for most baby related issues? ‘Just keep doing what you’re doing’.  This is infuriating! Especially when you feel like that dude in Jaws who is is hanging off the side of the sinking boat.  You can see the thrashing shark (hungry baby) snapping his teeth (gums) at your flesh. The shark knows he’s going to get you, as do you.  You stare at him, he stares at you, it’s inevitable, there’s nothing you can do but succumb to those jaws.  He gave in to his fate, let go of the boat and slid miserably into Jaws' mouth. My boobs reluctantly followed suit.  They submitted to their fate of gnawing, thrashing, motor-boating, sucking, head-banging and nipple tickling oh yes they did. It was a trial, but on the bright side, my nipples are now completely numb, impenetrable and as tough as old tractor tires. Ya they’re that sexy.

Every website/person has different advice.  Like, everyone!!!  And the symptoms for anything that could be wrong with baby are EXACTLY THE SAME.  If he’s hungry/tired/itchy/dirty/moving house/going through a breakup/had a bad curry, he will touch his face with his hands, open his mouth and faff about.  Once these symptoms present themselves you have, according to all advice, 1.35 seconds to diagnose what’s wrong and feed/burp/change/council/sell him on ebay before he starts to bawl and cry, and NO-ONE WANTS THAT.  For reflux, one website says you must put baby sitting up after a meal even if they nod off to sleep - their car seat is perfectly suitable.  Another website says DO NOT PUT YOUR BABY TO SLEEP IN THE CAR SEAT OR HE WILL DIE.  Everything you do is either going to see your baby thrive or make him die.  After the first two weeks of tearing our hair out at this advice we’re now laughing.  Hysterically sometimes, but at least we’re laughing!

Hormones are cunts.  I had the high hormones in pregnancy, now it was time for the comedown! We’ve all heard of baby blues, but let me tell you now that this is the least apt description for what they are.  Baby blues sounds quite nice, a bit romantic even.  I thought it would be hilarious as I cried beautifully at baby adverts on the telly, or found an article about fish really emotional.  The blues for me brings images of tragic but beautiful  figures in smokey rooms in New Orleans, so it can’t be that bad right?  YES. Is the answer.  Yes it can.  Every day for a week (it was week 2 if anyone is wondering when the hormones plummeted) I cried from 7pm until I went to sleep.  I wept while funnelling chips into my mouth at the dinner table.  I bawled while sitting on the toilet and brushing my teeth. I silently howled while attaching a baby to my boob.  Luckily I knew it was hormones so I didn’t take it too seriously but, it’s terrifying when you’re not sure how long it will last and when it prevents you from enjoying things.  I was particularly missing work in London.  I saw a picture of someone seeing a show in Soho on Facebook and I wailed.  How embarrassing! I couldn’t even think about work (i.e. independence, social life, adult company, not the couch) without bursting into tears! Thank goodness it passed.  I can now see how postnatal depression - what a wanker that is - could so easily set in and suck you into a dark abyss of shite.  

Thankfully, having a baby is awesome so it makes all of these mad things worth it. I’m already forgetting the tricky bits and nature is making my brain block out and gloss it all over into a lovely glowy post baby hue.  Even the lack of sleep has been totally bearable.  I have on several occasions, happily woken at 3am excited to see him! I haven’t happily woken at 3am since 2005, when I woke on a friends bathroom floor with a slice of pizza next to my face.  I ate it and gleefully carried on with the night.  

Thursday, 25 June 2015

D-Day is here. My baby is going to be born in THE NEXT FEW DAYS!!!!!

38 Weeks Pregnant

Baby Size : Length of a leek, about 6.5 pounds

How I'm Feeling : Loving being busy, the company of hubby and friends, all food as long as I don't have to cook and naps.  Naps are the best.  

The Bitch Is Back.  Craaaaaaaaap.  That hormone riddled, moodier, under-confident-part-time-socialite-part-time-dark-empty-room-loving-introvert is back in my life.  I refer of course to the pre second-trimester-hormone-influx me.  I liked new pregnancy hormone me.  This positive, confident, go-getter was growing on me, where is she gone? If I could manufacture 2nd trimester hormones and sell them, I’d go for it Breaking Bad style. I mean, unlike Walt, I’d be constantly off my face and a full on addict of course but to be honest, it might just be worth it.  Those hormones are awesome, I promise you.  Everything you’ve been putting off, everything that needs cleaning, everything that needs tidying, everything that just takes a bit of momentum to get going, everything that needs saying to so-and-so and whats-his-name, it just gets done! This week however, I’ve had days like a teenager that’s been ditched by the prom king.  Napoleon Dynamite style, I’m moping about from room to room being vaguely productive, but not in the way I want to be! Bump is oiled and out, sciatica is making me hobble, hormones are making me stick my bottom lip out sulkily for no reason at all. Think The Gruffalo, with an Irish accent. 

I’ve been putting off buying maternity/nursing bras, as my boobs still haven’t got much bigger (damn) so when I finally went to buy some, I wanted to vomit on them. Firstly, they’re way more expensive than most and secondly, they’re fecking ugly! I have even scoured John Lewis for pretty ones, and other than one lacy number, I failed miserably.  There’s no underwire, they don’t provide any cleavage help, they’re straight across the top like a bad army boob tube and they look like things that will shrivel up, and go grey (no matter what their original colour) in the wash. In other words, no matter which one I buy, I’ve got a granny bra on: a humongous, off-white, cotton, boulder holder.  Now put The Gruffalo in one of those and see how sexy he feels. 

We had another little trip to Mothercare this week.  We have realised we still don’t really know a lot.  Can baby sleep in a ‘gro-bag’ when he arrives or is it blankets?  Simple questions like this all demand a YouTube search. It’s time consuming stuff.  My amazing mommy friend sent me blankets with holes in them.  This might sound counter productive for a blanket I hear you say, but NO! They must have holes in so baby can breathe if it goes over his head.  Fairly common sense stuff you might think, but NO.  This is not my kind of common sense.  I have the common sense of an actor, I naturally find my light, I naturally hold the mic in the right way, I naturally have decent character instincts, follow direction well and I naturally hear harmony easily.  I do not naturally know what the hell a baby sleeps in or needs in life! It is not intrinsically in my make up.  I didn’t know there was a difference between vests and all in ones.  I just thought one was for summer and one for winter, NO, they wear them ALL AT THE SAME TIME.  I thought he’d be roasting but NO! Babies are colder than us and need hats, cardigans and scratch mittens.  I wasn’t thinking about his nail care! I barely think about my own nail care.  You must bite off the nails I hear, great, so that’s another thing I don’t like that I have to put in my mouth…  I refer of course to a previous post about swallowing poo, you dirty minded cretan. 

Mothercare is like the Aliens films.  You embark on this wondrous voyage of learning and discovery.  It is the trusty home ship where you go to gain knowledge.  It’s where things will start to make sense as you explore new worlds and unearth all the mysteries they offer. It holds all the cargo you need to survive. Slowly however, you come to understand that not everyone is on your side.  People have ulterior motives.  You have a vague sense you’re being manipulated and being dragged down a path you had no intention of going down.  Before you know it, a sales rep has convinced you to follow him into the depths of the store and you find yourself surrounded by strange pods.  They’re everywhere! You don’t know what they are, there are thousands of them, all different shapes, sizes, multi-purpose, single-purpose, cots, sleepyheads, bassinettes, Moses baskets, prams, buggies, pushchairs.  Everything in your gut tells you to run screaming far far away but something deep inside tells you that you mustn’t show any fear.  You must back out of there cautiously, slowly, determinedly with the safety firmly off your defence mechanism.  Ripley had a massive gun, we had our polite tongues ‘ah thanks very much…em, we’re just going to have a think about that (what? What the feck IS that? It’s indecipherable!!!) and come back, thanks very much, ya, ya, ya, ya, oh ya the bugaboo is great ya, absolutely, thanks…’ RUUUUUUUUUNNNNN!!!! I haven’t even got to the part where something bursts out of my belly.  Ripley had a giant yellow machine/man thing to combat her Alien with.  I just have my boobs and holey blankets.  This hardly seems fair. 

It’s about 99% certain that I’m having a caesarean section.  Unless he miraculously turns on his own, I’m all booked in for Friday July 3rd.  I had an ECV this week, which is a delightful ‘mildly uncomfortable’ (like hell it is!) bruise inducing procedure where they give you a drug to relax the womb and try to turn the baby from the outside. Two consultants had a go, as the little bugger is stubborn as a mule and wouldn’t move.  His head is still firmly under my ribs, you can see it sticking out, and he didn’t move an inch.  I'm focusing on the positives of a c-section.  I'm thinking this mainly involves not having to go through the prolonged potentially days long pain of natural labour, but also, no perineum slicing!  Wohoo! I think it's great there will be no scalpels moving towards my arse any time soon. My vagina will remain safe and perky and not end up like road kill.  Ah, sweet relief. But this also means it’s not TWO weeks to go.  It’s ONE week to go! I think it’s finally hitting me.  I have to start reading the books.  It’s not enough to have them posed artfully by the bath, the bed, in my bag etc.  I actually have to study them.  I think I am a hell of a lot closer to understanding this baby thing than I was when I started this blog, but I have a long way to go. Major surgery, a minimum three-day hospital stay and attempted breast-feeding - as well as meeting this little man who’s going to turn my life upside down - awaits.  Right now I’m thinking LETS DO THIS… Lets see how I’m feeling next Thursday night….

Friday, 19 June 2015

3 Weeks To Go - Bushes and Joe Pesci

37 Weeks Pregnant

Baby Size : A bunch of swiss chard

How I Feel : Really really normal but with swollen bits.

My neighbour, who I’ve never met before is going to see my vagina tonight.  She’s a beauty therapist and I’ve decided the time has come to ‘trim the hedges’ for birth as it were.  Her studio is ACROSS THE ROAD, who knew it would be more convenient now I've moved to the country?  I’m full term now (anything between 37 and 42 weeks is full term apparently) and baby could arrive at any moment.  As my moms three babies were early I’m trying to be prepared! I know the midwives and doctors have seen it all and won’t particularly care about the state of my hair care but I don’t want to go in looking like I’ve sacked the gardener. Just because I haven’t seen the garden in a while doesn’t mean I should neglect it right?  It’s the only time intense open eyed scrutiny will be given to that area so I don’t want the brambles distracting anyone’s attention.  To be honest though, this could all be in vain.  I’m half convinced it’ll be a c-section.  I can feel baby’s head under my right ribs, his arse under my left ribs and when he kicks, my vagina gets a thrashing from the inside!!! Ahem, lets just leave that there. I’m doing the exercises and tricks to move him but it ain’t happening yet.  I’ve stopped thinking about a natural birth, which worries me as he could move at any time and my brain has conveniently disregarded it as an option.  My vagina and perineum might be getting off the hook, but my abdomen isn’t! Some bit of me is going to suffer, it just remains to be seen which bit…

I finished work this week. All my limbs have been removed and I’m flailing around on the floor like a Saw movie. I finished on my birthday of all days - I’m sure my colleagues were glad to see the back of me after they had to do the cards, the presents, the mopping of tears, the cakes, the drinks, the hugs, the best wishes etc all on the same day.  They did it valiantly and amazingly however and it’ll take me a long while to wean myself off these wonderful people.  They’ve championed every decision I’ve made over the last two years so I’m ripping that plaster off slowly, still pestering some lucky few with all the details of my now non action packed days!

Today I’m at home, ALL DAY, by myself.  I’m busy with hospital forms and birth preference documents, not to mention the huge task of putting away the ASDA delivery and sending voice memo’s to friends on Whats App, but really, how do I adjust to this not working thing? It’s like being made redundant, but it’s my choice, my decision.  I know there’ll be a bit of money coming in for a while, then it disappears.  But instead of frantically looking for another job, I’ll have a full time unpaid job.  Oooooo!  Maybe being a stay at home mom is more like being an actor than I thought.  I mean, lets look at the comparisons.  People think your job is easy, they have no idea what you do all day, you’re expected to work for nothing, money is always an issue and mostly, you’re a psychological mess.  Jesus, maybe I’ve a lot more experience here than I thought!!!

The phrase “This too shall pass”, is essential for the upcoming 4am feed ritual, but it's equally important now.  I’m using it Kevin McAllister style about today.  When again will I have the house completely responsibility free all to myself???

Kevin : ‘I’m living alone! I’m living alone! ‘

As Kevin gleefully sleds down the stairs, I blissfully guilt free slide into my bed.  

Kevin : ‘Guys, I’m eating junk and watching rubbish! You’d better come out and stop me!’  

As Kevin rebelliously eats all the ice cream and watches an over 18’s movie, I contemplate leaving the house for chocolate, decide I’m too lazy, munch on the last three chocolate digestives and watch Homes Under The Hammer.  

Kevin : ‘This is my house, I have to defend it!’  

As Kevin prepares for the armageddon of Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern by placing dangerous crap all over the house, I prepare for the invasion of the body snatchers by removing dangerous crap and unpacking boob and baby debris all over the house.  I imagine baby is my own personal Joe Pesci - small, sort of cute, terrifying.

Kevin : ‘No offence, aren’t you too old to be afraid?’
Marley : ‘You can be too old for a lot of things, but you’re never too old to be afraid!’

As Kevin builds his courage to fight for his home, I’m building courage to face all the challenges of the next few months.  Like Kevin, I have no idea how this is going to play out.  I might feel all alone. I might eat nothing but microwave macaroni and cheese and order pizza.  I might be/will be faced with someone peeing all over me ('Fuller, he wets the bed'). Or I might go all rambo on this baby’s ass ('You guys give up yet? Or you thirsty for more’ - this one might have more to do with my boobs) and completely nail it.  Who knows??? It’ll either go like this….

‘This is it! Don’t get scared now!’ Preparing to meet bandits (baby) and loading the rifle.  

Or more like this…

‘Hey, I’m not afraid any more! I said, I’m not afraid anymore! Do you hear me?  I’m not afraid anymore!’ Old man Marley (baby) approaches Kevin (me) and stares at him - Kevin (me) runs back inside, screaming like a maniac.  

Thursday, 11 June 2015

5 Weeks To Go - Nipples & Nappies

35 Weeks Pregnant

Baby Size : Large honeydew melon (whatever that is)

How I Feel : Manically calm….

Sitting naked in front of the mirror while applying make up can be a trying experience. I’ve got gel, powder and hair stuck to my boobs and I’m trying to avoid them with my elbows while putting on mascara. Jesus, I never realised how much they got in the way! You see I’m trying to prep my boobs for breast-feeding. I’ve been applying this gel you use to help them toughen up before baby starts devouring them. It’s just that I’ve been letting it dry in, leaving time for EVERYTHING to stick to them. I feel really bad for my boobs. They have no idea what they’re in for. They’ve just been sitting pretty, their only job thus far to remain relatively perky and distract the opposite sex from my less enticing body parts. Now, all of a sudden they have to run the equivalent of the London marathon, with no training, no clue of the route, no acknowledgement of cracked heels or twisted ankles and no idea of whether they’re going to be able to complete the course. I’ve bought all the accoutrements to help them through - the pumps, the shells, the creams the gels. My boobs however, might take one look at baby’s sucky lips and go all Scarface on me, turning into Al ‘Say Hello To My Little Friends’ Pacinos machine gun* spewing blood bullets and nipples sores everywhere. THIS. CAN. HAPPEN. I could suddenly feel like my child is an innocent faced Kirstin Dunst in Interview With The Vampire smiling sweetly up at me while my blood flows from her mouth. I think if that happens it might be time to throw in the breastfeeding towel…

Last week I went into full on nesting mode. I didn’t recognise it as nesting though. It didn’t fit the image in my head where I look like Reece Witherspoon, glowing in trendy dungarees, plaits in my hair, painting a glorious sunny baby’s bedroom with just the cutest smudge of paint on my nose. I was supposed to have bread baking downstairs, the house sparkling clean and filled with delicious smells. No, my nesting came in the form of a sweating, growling, hormonal, panicky, hunch backed, claw-handed-from-scrolling, big-bellied woman scouring the internet in a mad, frothing at the mouth eBay and Gumtree frenzy. I bought everything. Rugs, hoovers, chairs, wardrobes, cots, mattresses, boob stuff, changing mats, you name it I got it! We even got a £900 buggy for £300 thanks to hubby’s eBay bidding prowess. I have never been prouder! Off we pottered in our sweaty triumph to Tesco with all the adrenaline pumping through our veins. Clearly too big for my novice driving boots, I stalled the fecking car TEN times. I thought I’d mastered this stuff! Mortified by the kindness of unknown drivers who didn’t beep me, not even once though I held them up for at least a minute (a life time on a roundabout) I got tetchy, hot and bothered and tearful. By the time I got to Tesco and managed to park, the experience had turned into my own personal Vietnam. I was shell-shocked, beaten down, broken by a clutch and beepless strangers. The adrenaline crash was catastrophic. My husband wisely led me through the gardening section first, where no big shopping decisions would have to be made. The strategy didn’t seem to be working though as I cowered among the yogurts and skirted through the crisp section like Macaulay Culkin circa My Girl in a forest full of bees. I managed to negotiate the over friendly till lady who, not recognising the blind panic on my face, told me her birth story from beginning to end in minute detail, but it was tricky. I actually can’t remember if I drove home or not. Genuinely! No idea! I think I came to an hour later back home on the couch with my hand hovering over a wardrobe on eBay. It was like the transition from bottle of whiskey euphoria, through to drunken paranoia, through to the crushing, all consuming FEAR of a massive hangover. That, ladies and gents, is pregnancy hormones.

I’m now in my last week at work before maternity leave from which I will never return, as my job is finishing in November. To say I have mixed feelings is an understatement. There is part of me that will leave, laughing hysterically in an escape from the asylum/clicking my ruby slippers skipping down the yellow brick road type way. But there is a bigger part of me that will mourn the people, the camaraderie, the friends, the confidences, the gossip, the moaning, the politics, the ranting, the knowing looks, the slagging, the craic, the good bits, the bad bits, all of it. You see I adore it really, even when I am ranting, because truthfully I love a good rant. Never mistake my ranting for upset, usually, I’m having a bloody good time. I suspect the trick with leaving work is not to get overly sentimental. This coming week falls in the danger zone, when I could flail about like a 3am drunk declaring my undying love for everyone and everything. I’m going to need to keep those hormones in check. If I feel the tears coming, I’m going to think of practical things, like my Waterproof Mattress Protector. It’s a plain, practical, unsexy, adult nappy and there for when my waters break to protect the new mattress and mattress topper I ordered from IKEA. Now that’s something really dull to focus on. There is NOTHING emotional about a Waterproof Mattress Protector.

*The same gun was later used by Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator, this makes the geek in me so very happy.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

6 Weeks To Go - Plumbing & Porn

34 Weeks Pregnant

Baby Size : Large Melon

How I Feel : PREGNANT!!!!!!!!!!!

Dignity. Ah, you were lovely while you lasted. You are but a distant memory. A longed for, dreamed of fantasy. I don’t walk anymore, I waddle. I don’t sit anymore, I straddle. I don’t sigh at slow people on the tube anymore, I’M ONE OF THEM. I’m a slow commuter. The worst fate that can befall a seasoned Londoner. Oh the awful, all penetrating shame. I’m also surprise farting and weeing myself. The farts are like evil kids entertainers who jump out at you yelling ‘surprise’! You NEVER see them coming. I can't be sure whether to laugh politely or vocally demonstrate my horror and demand an apology. Since when is my arse so out of my control? Well my internal arse anyway, the outer one won that BIG battle long ago! Pissed myself in front of my husband the other day too. It was a first for us - other than that drunken time in Greece when I found a bug the length of my arm on my stomach.  I think we’ll survive it and carry on but the sexy mysterious wife thing I’ve been cultivating is going down the swanee (or my leg) pretty fast! 

I’ve discovered a new nemesis this week : tights. Now I’m a huge fan, but I’ve always been highly disapproving of the method in which they are applied. Having a watermelon where your stomach should be makes bending down a thing of the past. (If you want to experiment, try wiping your arse with a football in the way) In my mind, this feat of reaching toe-ward, tights stretched between trembling fingers towards my reluctant toes, equates to Sylvester Stallone in Cliffhanger, sweating, muscles bulging to demonstrate the huge effort, suspended over a crevice stretching his tired arms towards his friend, whose harness has broken. He is reaching, reaching, hoping, praying…. only to fail to make the connection with her hand and she falls to a terrifying death. Yes. I’m standing by that analogy. It is that hard getting your toes into tights! Once the toe tight connection has been made, you then have to manoeuvre them over your heel and drag them like a dog to the vet up your shaking legs. Willing them higher and higher up your thigh like you might Jamie Dornan's tongue on a hot day. Honestly, screw pregnancy yoga for pulling mad shapes, just put some bloody tights on.

So I didn't write a ‘7 weeks to go’ blog. It’s been busy fortnight and month 8 of pregnancy has hit me like a freight train. Since my last installment, we’ve got the keys to our new house (I adore it) and moved in, bought a car and had my first solo drive, and I’ve removed a house spider for the first time in my whole life. We all know what the biggest achievement of those three is for a serious arachnophobe. I cannot wait to get in the garden with a huge glass of fake champagne and celebrate all those things! Today is the first day in weeks where (other than work which is still 6 days a week) I have nothing in my diary to do. Where am I? In bed, cup of tea in hand with bowl of porridge AND bowl of cocopops devoured. Baby is still breech with his head firmly up under my right ribs. This makes it next to impossible to sit, breathe, lie down or do anything comfortably. I am currently the human boomerang sitting in a crazy position trying to give baby’s head some space!

One of my great reservations about having a baby is that I’ll have to spend a lot of time around kids. If I’m honest I’m not a big fan en masse, they terrify me. I like my friends kids, mainly because they come in ones or twos and remind me of my friends, and of course I like them, they’re my friends! I just don’t know what to do with children, I’ve never been around them. I can’t do the cooey thing, can I not just speak to them like I do adults? As in, awkwardly at first until I get to know them? No? Do kids even do small talk? I don’t even find the children on Britain's Got Talent cute. I find singing, dancing children highly annoying in fact. Unless they’re getting it wrong - then it’s very cute and brilliant. I feel like Scrooge McDuck crossed with Samantha Jones. Am I alone?

On another note, pregnancy porn is a thing apparently. This comes from a friend whose sources I have not questioned! How do these women make it sexy at this stage? Ya I can get into a boomerang shape but I can’t wipe my arse properly or guarantee nothing will come out of that area when it’s not supposed to. That would surely be a hindrance to filming! Maybe they just do it all doggy style or maybe they start squirting milk or something? Or would that be more mommy porn? How do they sort the insurance? When I filmed an advert a few weeks ago they had a medic and a back up pregnant woman just in case I went into labour! Is the porn business the same? It sounds like a complicated shoot. Especially if they start using gadgets and dildos. Jesus the insurance premiums must be sky high! Anyway, we’re swiftly becoming poor buying stuff for the new house and the trillion baby items we need (I have a list to get for me, baby, and my boobs - they are a separate entity in this baby feeding thing) so I guess I have six weeks left to capitalise on this pregnancy porn stuff if I get desperate. Maybe some people are into the not being able to bend, farting, peeing thing????

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

8 Weeks To Go - Bum Nuggets & Bedfordshire

32 Weeks Pregnant

Baby size : Pineapple

How I feel : Yoyo-like but rallying!

Poo, shit, kaka, crap, bum nuggets, chocolate bananas, doodoo, faeces, turds, sewer trout. Whatever I decide to call it, I’m going to get close to it, embrace it, become immune to it, be excited by it, be covered in it. Its going to get in my clothes, in my hair, in my couch, in hubby’s beard and most probably in my mouth. Yup, in the next few years I’m literally going to eat shit. This isn’t some lucrative porn business, oh no, it’s just having a baby. My fondness for poo will begin in labour I'm told.  You positively shit yourself while having a baby, and here’s the big news - it ain’t no thing! Midwives love it apparently. When I feel the need to poo I should be delighted as it means baby is close to being OUT. Shitting myself = champagne. Who knew? When those little nuggets of joy pop out they will be followed by my big nugget of joy - baby. Wohoo! Then The Big Turd Immunity of 2015 will really begin. Starting with a sticky black substance called meconium (babies first poo) and followed by years of wiping and cleaning and changing and washing. Yes, the poo phase of my life is about to begin and I must welcome it.

We attended a hypnobirthing course this week. I hadn’t heard of Hypnobirthing before a colleague recommended it, but in a nutshell, it’s a birthing technique where you work with your birthing partner and aim to breathe your baby out using self hypnosis and breathing techniques. I loved the course. Labour need not be painful it suggests. Labour can be a calm and beautiful experience it says. I really want to have this beautiful experience, so we’re doing our homework - the massage, the affirmations, the relaxation exercises, the breathing, the whole shebang! I’ll let you know how it turns out… We stuck up the recommended affirmations around our house. YOU ARE A STRONG AND CAPABLE WOMAN shouts the toilet. ALL THE STRENGTH I NEED IS WITHIN ME barks the fridge. I’m forcing myself to get used to these phrases because as of now, I feel like my fridge and toilet are bullying me. What if I’m not strong? What if I’m not capable? I reserve the right to be a blathering mess goddamnit! It’s at this point I realise the hormones I’ve heard rumours about have finally found me. I feel incredibly vulnerable and incredibly capable all the time, at the same time. They’re co-existing and I’m telling you now, it’s a minefield in here. My mind at the moment - ‘Riona, you could totally climb Everest you heavenly goddess you’... 30 seconds later… ‘FOOOOOOOOL, get your fat arse under that duvet and don’t come out until you’ve eaten all the pringles and dairy milk and have had someone bring you potatoes.’ I’ve had Brene Brown’s TED talks (watch them if you can, they’re amazing) on vulnerability and shame for breakfast, lunch and dinner - as well as chocolate of course, and they are brilliant. My sneaking suspicion is that confidence in life, leads to confidence in birth so I’m working my bum off to make that happen. There have been some interesting obstacles, for example I’ve had a few insults wrapped up in friendly laughter this week. We all know these little phrases. ‘Haha remember when you wore THAT dress, oh it was lovely but, haha it was so different haha’. I didn’t even know the ‘dress’ was up for debate or discussion, and to channel Carrie Bradshaw, it was ‘fabulous’, so feck off. I’m not sure why some people feel the need to put others back in their boxes. Well, I’ve not had an overconfident day in my life so if I’ve managed to fool some feckers into thinking I’m too big for my boots, I’m going to take that as a sign of success with a modicum of wohoo! and a pinch of screw you!!!

This week I also found myself half naked in a room with ten techy men with lots of hair. Now, in my student days this would have sent me into a horny sex fuelled frenzy. Hairy techy men are my thing. So there I was, lying down on a luxurious carpet, trying to be all nonchalant about it all, with the sexy hairy techies bringing me pillows and water and making sure my every need was catered for. Oh god it was good. The sex fantasy was rudely interrupted by the reality of my glistening naked bump being stared at by all. Hubby and I somehow managed to fool a big company into employing us to be ‘happy pregnant couple’ in a commercial! One of these sexy hairy techies was my non actor husband who had to pretend to feel baby move for the first time. He valiantly held his own in front of a big production team by channelling Jeff Goldblum when he first saw those dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. It was big people, it was big. I’m hoping we’ll get to see him in all his acting glory (I was more the background figure, the baby vessel) on telly. It would make me laugh certainly (as long as I don’t look like a beached whale, then I’ll cry) and also pay for this (tiny) car we need when we move to the country.

Yes! We get the keys to our new house TOMORROW. We’re about to become homeowners. I daren’t say it out loud, because….

Donovan : ‘As you can see now Dr Jones, we’re on the verge of completing a quest… we’re just one step away’
Indiana : ‘That’s usually when the ground falls out from underneath your feet’.

So, we MIGHT be moving outside of London this week - only 40 minutes mind you but it’s not my beloved London is it? It’s Bedfordshire for crying out loud! I thought this was somewhere Bridget Jones had made up. Now I’m going to (maybe!) live there, on a quiet country road where we know zero people. Zero. We’re going to have to be SOCIAL. The introverts among you will understand this pain. We’ll have to speak to strangers, constantly, everyday, in REAL LIFE. We’re going to join all the groups we can but it’s a conundrum when you’re half introvert half extrovert like me and the hubby. I crave people, friends, contact, community, interaction, chat, but the creation of really good friends is a long process. I don’t really make instant friends unless I’m wankered in a toilet at 3 in the morning, then all bets are off and we bond over crazy men, tampon needs and vomit and we exchange numbers and can’t believe how fantastic we are. However the one’s I do make sans whiskey and wine over time - they last. Pretty much forever so far, and yes they’re all amazing, I’m riddled with them, the bastards are just not in Bedfordshire!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

9 Weeks To Go - Orgasms and Elephants

31 Weeks Pregnant

Baby size : Coconut

How I Feel : Liberated. Excited. Sore.

Orgasmic. Glorious. Sexual. Euphoria. These are words that have soothed and placated me this week. Mothers have sought me out to help me and share stories about how labour is not all pain, fear, tubes and needles. I'm happily shocked. The way they tell it, labour sounds like a fantastically filthy racy romp through a sex party in chelsea. Yes! There are women out there who find labour to be an empowering, fierce, animalistic experience and holy shit do I want a piece of that! It sounds idyllic and too good to be true I hear you say? Well, this is straight from the horse's mouth and I love it. I adore it in fact. I've said before how I want all the horror stories and sexy details right up there in my face. Don't dress it up or down for me or wrap it in a bow of denial or optimism. If I know what I'm in for good OR bad, I can consider it, brave it and go into this labour joyful, fearless and beating my chest shouting BRING THIS SHIT (literally) ON. If I end up trembling, whimpering and beating my husband*, then that's fine too. I'll just happily take the drugs and off we go. 

I'm doing a hypnobirthing course next week so of course I think maybe I'll be one of them, all zen and mother earth. I'll meditate all the way through until I orgasm, wince gently, baby will slip calmly out and we'll all laugh and think how glorious it all was. Hey, people are telling me this is possible!!!! The cynic in me is roaring but I'm telling her to piss off and get on board the orgasmic birth train. A woman can dream can't she? Saying all that though, I have absolutely no reason to doubt these women's experiences. I really hope and sort of believe I can share them, but holy hell, if I don't come out of this feeling like Beyonce at Glastonbury, I'll be very, very upset.

Once my glorious sex birth is over, reality will of course hit home. Just for now, allow me to gloss over the fantastic experience that meeting my son will be and allow me to concentrate on the bigger issue here - knickers. I went into the snake pit this week - the biggest, cheapest High Street Store of them all. I shudder even at the thought as I’d usually rather vomit up my favourite dinner than darken it’s doorway, but I did it. I did it for one noble reason. To buy gigantic post birth knickers. After I give birth I’m told I could bleed for weeks. Hurrah! I can't even wear sanitary towels no no. I must wear specially made industrial size pads fit for a camel and waddle around with them and possibly some ice packs in my pants. No knicker of mine has ever held such mirth, and I've got a big arse to contain! It was time to bring in the big guns and god damn it I did it. These knickers are huge. Some are frilly, some are patterned in the vain hope of allowing me to maintain some sort of feminine sex appeal. But seeming as I could fit the titanic in them that might be a tad over ambitious. Bring on the ice packs and industrial pads I say. I'm ready.

Kate Middleton looked pretty good post birth right? She hid her giant knickers very well. Go girl! I’m very happy for her and I think she’s gorgeous and heavenly too, but before we all slip into whimsical adoration mode, riddle me this - if each and every one of us had designers sending us dresses, stylists, hairdressers, makeup artists and PA's to hand us frozen bags of peas for our swollen vaginas every five minutes, wouldn't we appear gorgeous, relaxed and media ready too? Of course we would! However despite all this, I don't envy her. Imagine the pressure to look that good after squeezing a cabbage through a keyhole and shitting yourself in public? Although I’m assured I won’t give a damn how I look post birth, I don’t want to look back on the pictures and see Jabba The Hut holding my baby. If I think I look like an elephant on crack, I know that no matter how special the moment is, I will edit my oompa loompa head out of those pictures, and that would be such a shame. I know that’s not a particularly ‘fuck you world media and your pressure’ thing to say. Mmmmm. The feminist in me says ‘oh get over yourself’, the subconscious media trained pony in me says ‘keep your makeup kit at the top of the hospital bag’.

When you’re pregnant, the overwhelming reaction to bump is oohs and aahs, wonder and awe. I have to admit I love it! I love the stroking, touching, minding and attention as much as any self respecting yorkshire terrier wagging their tail. Every now and then however, I meet someone who does not rub my belly, give me treats or find my bark cute. I’ve had a hand extended towards my bump accompanied by the expected ‘ooh’ sounds, when suddenly it recoils limply, like an average penis in the mens shower room with Arnold Schwarzenegger. The ‘ooh’ quickly turns to ‘eugh’, the happy face turns sucked-on-a-lemon sour and said hand is unceremoniously wrenched away. Aha! So there are some people in the world who are unsure about how natural this is! The freakish, alien nature of pregnancy is bigger to them than the beauty of it. In a weird way this makes me feel good. It’s reminding me that although my body thinks nothing of this pregnancy and mocks my mind daily for giving it as much thought as I do, that it isn’t this mundane, average experience. It IS slightly alien to me, it IS a big deal and it IS really special. Phew! Thanks for the reminder!

This week, I also succumbed to sciatica, passed my driving test and exchanged on our house. All big things I would usually drown out/celebrate with copious amounts of wine. Instead, I sat on the couch watching Grand Designs, drinking tea and ticking more things off the To Do list. Jesus. I have so much to making up to do with the wine gods when baby is out. Beware. It could get really ugly.

*The fear on his face when he read this. I'm speaking metaphorically of course....

Thursday, 30 April 2015

10 Weeks To Go - C**ts and Battlefields

30 Weeks Pregnant

Baby size : A large head of cabbage

How I Feel : Invincible and vulnerable.  All at the same time!

*If you’re offended by ‘bad’ language skip the first paragraph, no, the first two paragraphs……. OK just don’t read this*

My dear sweet nana had a great saying, ‘If it looks like a cunt and it smells like a cunt, chances are, it’s a cunt’.* Excuse me for mixing my metaphors, but I refer of course to that trojan horse of a friend/family member, who rocks up with a vintage bottle of joy, then proceeds to vomit gifts of stress, guilt and upset all over your brand new white carpet, leaving you to deal with the fallout and mess. I mean, isn’t emotional manipulation THE BEST?!

What I’m wondering is, will motherhood and my ‘higher priority’ demand I endorse less crap from these people?  Will I become fantastic at wheedling the feckers out before the vomiting begins? Right now, I’m all Empathy and Flowers, trying to analyse and understand in order to make sense of their actions - there is great love there after all.  Sometimes though, I get weary.  I don’t want to figure out the whys of why you’re being an aresehole.  Just STOP BEING AN ARESHOLE.  I’m bored of trying to understand.  Let’s face it, sometimes, SOMETIMES, empathy is overrated.  

Luckily, I also got time with non trojans this week.  I swanned home, grinning like a mated bull, at 2am Saturday morning, happily soaked in wine and vodka after a night out in Soho.  Ah, just like the old days.  Unfortunately/fortunately I had only a sniff of wine and some virgin cocktails.  The wine and vodka soaking came courtesy of some of my favourite women, unafraid to spill a drop of alcohol for the greater good of a messy night.  I have to say I have not missed hungover days.  Couch bound, carb filled, hellish days, full of vulnerability and the dreaded The Fear, a sacrifice I gave willingly to the gods of wine and whiskey.  But I do miss the nights, oh the nights...

Now, vulnerability can be a fantastic thing, however, here are two occasions when it’s definitely not cool.  One - the aforementioned The Fear.  Two - when you’re on the tube with a massive bump, a fist up your arse (baby’s) and an inability to sit with your legs closed. Of course, this is when a slightly inebriated city slicker in a suit starts hitting on you.  Brilliant! There I was, minding my own business trying not to fart out loud as is the pregnancy curse, and over he comes.   I wonder, what gave him the ‘come hither’ look? The oversized baggy jumper? The worn black leggings? The mucky trainers? The fart smell I'm pretending is the chubby guy across the way? I guess that’s the ‘she was asking for it’ argument blown out of the water!  I just got off the tube.  What I should have done was climb astride him, look deep in his eyes and in a husky Demi Moore whisper, say ‘Hey lover, I’m going to pop out a kid in ten weeks, but until then, my vagina is as tight as the top of a hot water bottle, so how about we go at it right here, right now?’ Mmmmm maybe I’m not that brave…

Having sort of come to terms with Catheters and perineum slicing, our antenatal class covered C-sections this week.  Aha! I thought, maybe this will be the easy ‘too posh to push’ birth I can fall back on should it all get too much in the delivery room.  Heeheeheehahaha. What shower of eejits are floating this idea? A C-section sounds horrendous!!! Like being shredded-by-a-lawn-mower horrendous. It’s full on abdominal surgery for crying out loud!  After surgery isn’t it the legal requirement to stay in bed watching Breaking Bad for two weeks? Well, Walt isn’t going to change nappies! Jesse isn’t going to feed baby! Hank isn’t going to bring me pizza!  I admit it, I have wronged and chastised many women on the telly.  All because they ‘moaned’ about having a section.  Now I TOTALLY get it. What martyr on a cross could not be mildly tempted by a teeny tiny moan of fear about being cut open and immediately made primary carer for a helpless blob of lovely neediness? Labour is like a Monty Python sketch everyone is ignoring.  ‘Oh, look! I’ve had my arm chopped off but don’t worry about me, I’m off to do the milk run.  Oh, there goes my leg too, never mind, I’ll hop...’  I have no desire to be dramatic but neither would I like to be dismissed because ‘people do it every day’. Can we fall somewhere in the middle please?  

The more I learn the more I’m in awe of this birthing process.  Why are all the speeches in movies about going into battle specifically about war? It'll certainly feel like marching into battle when I go into labour, no matter how I do it.  Blood - check! Guts - check! Glory (in form of baby) - check! It’s a fecking battle!  Of course I’ll want cooing, fluttering and reassuring, but god damn it I want some inspiration!!! Where is my ‘I love the smell of napalm in the morning’? My ‘They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our FREEDOM’? Where?!  If I knew Judi Dench** I’d beg her to paraphrase Aragorn…

‘Sisters of gas & air, of cesareans.  I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me! A day may come, when the courage of women fails, when we forsake our ideals and all bonds of sisterhood, but it is not this day! Hours of placentas and vaginal tears, when the age of women comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we push! By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you, PUSH, women of the world!’

*my Nana would NEVER have used this word.  She called her poo her coakseorum, and her breasts her kinoblers! She was brilliant.   

** Two friends are working with Judi right now and I am sick for them.  It must be truly awful.  No, seriously, Stav, Mike, tell her I love her!