Riona O Connor - The Unnatural Woman

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

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????