I’m a little bit terrified that in a week’s time, Hungry Bear will be considered ‘full-term’ and developed and fat enough to enter the world and thrive. With 5 weeks to go until the required ‘40’, I’m still in denial that my life is going to change massively. After all, I thought fostering a dog was hard work – this is going to be like having a dog but on steroids. So it was with some nervousness that I decided to implement some form of maternity leave at 35 weeks.
At 35 weeks, I had planned to go on self inflicted maternity leave (or ‘retire’ as my mum’s carer likes to put it!) but as with all best-laid plans, things take a lot longer than anticipated. It also doesn’t help that I’m in the mentality of one who has retired, agreeing to meeting up with friends and going to events, when in actual fact, I’ve still got the same amount of loose ends and work to tie up.
I’m not the kind of person who can just take things easy. I was brought up to always be ‘doing’ something, even if that thing was fun. And now I’m a grown-up, even if the activity is for pure fun, I feel like it should have a purpose. Arts and crafts? Only if it’s making something for Hungry Bear! Cooking food? Only if you can make extra and freeze off some portions for post-HB’s arrival.
There were several incidents which made me realise I had to chill.
The first was my body and a little scare. It turns out my body isn’t quite what it used to be and this became apparent when I decided to take up a racket and join my nephew in beating his mum and brother in a game of badminton. We won. But during it, and some of this does come from playing on a sloping ground with devious little tufts of condensed grass, I overreached backwards and turtled myself. Had my dad or husband been there, I have no doubt I would have been picked up and dusted off and sent inside to partake in safer activities such as sitting quietly. However, it was my half-sister who was the one who dealt with the situation, ‘You should have got that’, she remarked, before watching myself pick myself up and carry on with the game. Love my family! In all fairness, I didn’t need sympathy but I was worried that Hungry Bear could have gotten a little squished on the way down. And no, I don’t have any photos of me lying on my back unable to get up!
Similarly, a few days later, I had a little fall in Soho. A fall! If I thought it was only old people who fell, it turns out when you’re pregnancy you’ve got the same chances of falling as a 70 year old woman. And it’s little surprise I fell – I was wearing my Toms, which are practically the only shoes that fit my fat feet now, and wholly unsuitable for wet weather, the Gods had decided to release torrential rain on my re-surfacing from the tube and I had stupidly tucked my arms into my cape to stop them getting wet. This, combined with a slippery pavement and no arms to balance me, meant that I stood no chance in rebalancing myself and so did a strange little ‘thud’ to the pavement onto my knees and head. It’s amazing how instincts kick into place – I sacrificed my head for Hungry Bear. HB, I hope you’re grateful! With stinging wet knees and a little bruise on my forehead, it was then I decided that I needed to stop running around places so much.
I also started implementing boundaries. I have a very wise husband and during a particularly frustrated conversation where I literally held my hands up in despair and wailed, ‘how am I going to get all this done?!!’ He told I wasn’t and that that was fine. We discussed ‘killing’ items on my to-do list, how to communicate with those who were still expecting work and a few hours later, I felt so much better as I set up footers on my emails explaining my maternity leave dates, out of offices and put in place basic plans to cover some of my responsibilities.
And do I feel bad about it? Not now I’ve made those decisions! Now, I’m working on things I need to, I’m only meeting up with essential people and I’m dedicating days to all the important factors, such as getting my hospital bag ready and finding a care home for mum. It’s a realisation that I have to relax a bit more, not just for me, but for this new little squirmy thing which is soon going to appear. To kick-off maternity leave, Tom and I went to stay with his mum in Suffolk for a few days of R&R. And rowing 🙂