If there are two words I (and my hubby) thought would never be heard together, it’s “Kell” and “Housework”. I have never been good at housework. In fact, I’ll put my hand up and admit to being quite possibly the messiest person in the world. It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s just that I don’t tend to notice the clutter – my flat is clean, but kind of, well, shall we say not just “lived in”, but “very lived in”. Dale has always been better at the housekeeping side of things and I’m ashamed to say that up until now he has had to remind me (and remind me, and remind me again!) to do things.
To date, the only time I ever seriously got the cleaning bug was if I was furious about something. If Dale ever came home and found me scrubbing kitchen cupboards and emptying closets, he knew it was best to steer clear of me for an hour or so till I calmed down, then give me a hug and I would be back to normal. I’m mostly a very even-tempered person, so these blow-outs were few and far between, and no amount of Dale trying to pick a fight in order to give me a cleaning bug worked because we are really bad at fighting with each other (we always end up either laughing at how ridiculous we sound or apologising to one another within five minutes and doing the old “kiss and make up” thing).
When I got pregnant, Dale slowly began taking on more and more of the housework until he was doing it all (apart from cooking and cleaning the bathroom, both of which remained my domain) and then, after Xander was born, he continued doing it. Then I went back to work and things all went to pot because Dale, Super Dad and Super Hubby though he is, couldn’t do everything AND look after Xander in the afternoons.
So, when I quit work I decided I would have to do something to pick up the pace a little and chip in more around the flat, seeing as how I’m the one who’s home all day now. But there was one little snag – I didn’t want to have to sacrifice Quality Time with Xander and I didn’t want to have to whiz round cleaning like a mad woman every time he went down for a nap – if I did that, I’d soon be exhausted and the sacrifice of quality time would happen anyway by default!
Then, almost a week ago, I read a comment on one of the forums I’m on which alluded to a system – The FlyLady system. I’d never heard of it, but the women who mentioned it said that using this system meant she always had time to spend with her family, work on her hobbies and even have some “Me Time” to herself. I was curious and did a little searching. What I found inspired me and may well have changed me forever!
The FlyLady system consists of a series of “baby steps” which “FlyBabies” follow, one by one – a new one every day to add to the backlist. The first one is astoundingly simple – Go Shine Your Sink. Every night, before you go to bed, make sure your sink is sparkling.
So that first night, I shined my sink. I wasn’t 100% sure if it was the kitchen or bathroom one that was meant (apparently it’s the kitchen one!) so I shined both of them. The next morning, I was greeted by the sight of my sparkling sink and do you know what? I suddenly felt amazingly positive about the day and the thought of following the next Baby Step.
Baby Step 2 was just as simple – Get Dressed to Lace Up Shoes. Basically I had to shower, do my hair and face, get dressed and put on lace up shoes. Actually, this one felt a bit strange to me, because I go barefoot at home and, to be honest, would go barefoot outside too if we didn’t live in the city where there are all manner of nasties lying on the pavement! Still, I did it.
And at night, I shined my sink.
Baby Step 3 seemed too easy to be true – Do What We Have Already Done! Get dressed to my shoes, shine my sink and read my reminders…
By this time, I was already checking out the rest of the site and had begun compiling my Control Journal. Each day I was adding an extra little thing to my list of things to do daily. I was focusing on Zones and doing mini-blasts that didn’t have to be perfect so long as I did them – in fact, perfectionism is positively discouraged because it holds us back from getting on with the job at hand.
I’ve been following the FlyLady system for almost a week now and you know what? I’m actually enjoying it! Can you believe that? I’m no longer dreading the housework because I know that I just have to focus on one area for a certain short length of time and then I’m done. Along with my Daily Do list, I’m slowly getting on top of things and already the place is looking a whole lot better.
And Dale has noticed the change – both in the flat and in me. He can’t believe how well I’m doing and I’m not sacrificing any Quality Time with Xander at all, which is brilliant. An added bonus is that all the added activity of the housework combined with the fact that I no longer spend my afternoons cooped up in an office, chained to a desk, I’ve stopped dieting, but am still managing to shed a few pounds. The weight is coming off slowly, but it’s coming off steadily and I’m not even trying – hurrah!
So, three things I’ve learned over the past week, courtesy of FlyLady:
- A load of laundry a day keeps the CHAOS* at bay!
- I can do ANYTHING for 15 minutes.
- A shiny sink can change your life!
If you’re living in CHAOS and would like to really FLY, I can heartily recommend nipping over to visit FlyLady’s site. You’ll come away with a brighter, more positive outlook and know that you really can make a difference one Baby Step at a time. FlyLady – you’re amazing. A big thank you from me and another one from my Hubby who can’t believe that after almost ten years together, I’m suddenly turning into a Domestic Goddess!
* CHAOS stands for Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome
Just to prove that Xander loves reading just as much as his Mummy does, here’s a photo of him engrossed in a book this afternoon. If you ask him to point to the car or the motorbike, he’ll pick them out right away whilst making “vroom vroom” noises. I’m pleased to say that he often pulls out his books and opens them himself, often abandoning other toys to do so, and will happily sit flicking through them for ten or fifteen minutes at a time. And, of course, he always gets a bedtime story…
Months and months, in fact! And such a lot has happened that I’m just not going to have the time to put it all on here, so I’ll just mention the main ones:
1. As of last week, I am a Stay-At-Home-Mum! Yes, I decided that working part-time just wasn’t working for any of us (Xander started refusing to nap, Dale didn’t get any rest and I got no quality time with Xander at all, even though I was only working afternoons!), so I quit and am now much happier, even if we are completely broke. I’d rather be on a very tight budget and happy than having a tiny bit extra cash and being miserable. It’s true what they say – money can’t buy you happiness! Besides, I figured nobody ever lay on their death bed saying “I wish I’d spent more time working!” did they? No, it’s always, “I wish I’d spent more time with family/friends!” etc. So that’s what I’m doing, at least for a little while. If push comes to shove I can always get an evening job stacking shelves in a local shop, so long as I have my days free to spend with my Little Man.
These were taken today – doesn’t he look grown up?!
2. Xander will be a year old next week! He’s saying a few words (Mama, Dada, Nana, No) and can sign a few too (drink, yes, no, friend). He also tries to say dog and also his Auntie Leni’s name. His latest trick is cruising round the furniture easily and has taken a few tentative steps (i.e. he launches himself at us) towards me or Dale whilst on the sofa – then when he falls on his bottom, he giggles and applauds himself for being so clever! He’s almost sleeping right through most nights now, although lately he’s been a little more wakeful again due to teething (he has seven teeth through and the eighth one has been giving him some trouble for a couple of weeks now), and is the kissiest, huggiest boy in the world!
So, those are the two main pieces of news. On a more immediate note, I had a bit of a hair disaster today. I attempted to go from being white-blonde to something called chocolate blonde (which is a shade or so darker than Xander’s hair and is as near as dammit to my own natural colour), but it came out purple instead! So I had to don a hat and go out to by a darker dye and came home with French Roast – now I’m a sultry brunette! It’s a lot darker than I had planned, but I rather like it!
From purple peril to sultry brunette!
Sleeping peacefull in in his new outfit
– right before me managed to soak it with spraying wee during a nappy change!
This is it – I’ve officially graduated from “New Mum” to “Real Mum”. Why? I’ll tell you:
- I’m existing on approximately 4 broken hours of sleep in any given 24-hour period (if I’m lucky);
- I shoogle the shopping trolley in the supermarket even though Xander is in his pushchair and Dale is pushing it;
- I speak in high-pitched tones to grown-ups – even those I don’t actually know personally;
- I jiggle whatever I happen to be holding as if I’m soothing Xander;
- I have been sicked-up on, wee’d on and poo’d on;
- I spend my days trying to work out what any given cry means, whether it means Xander has a wet or dirty nappy (and I don’t even mind the stinkiest of those!), needs to be fed, needs to be burped, is tired, is too hot, too cold, or just plain cranky;
- My boobs constantly feel like watermelons – in size, shape and weight – and leak like crazy all the time;
- I permanently smell of breastmilk and baby;
- I have got my shower routine down to under 10 minutes (and that includes washing my hair) despite being someone who used to spend upwards of an hour soaking in the bathtub;
- I grab food as and when I can – usually hours after I initially feel hungry and always after seeing to Xander being fed first;
- I never know what day it is from one day to the next and never have five minutes to myself;
- And I’ve never been happier!
OK, so we’re still trying to get into a routine, but we’re getting there…
Xander getting his routine hearing test at the hospital
the day before we were discharged
Well, things aren’t going so brilliantly after all. The midwife came round to weigh Xander yesterday and discovered he’d lost a little weight – he’s never quite got back up to his birth weight yet which it’s always hoped babies will do within 10 days or so of birth. The solution is to supplement his breast feeding with a bottle of a couple of ounces of either breast milk or formula, so I’ve been pumping like crazy with the breast pump my sister bought us, but the problem now is actually getting Xander to take it from the bottle! The poor wee mite has only ever been faced with my huge chesticles, and even though the bottle teats we have are the closest to breast/nipple shape as you can get, he’s not happy about having them in his mouth and it’s almost impossible to get anything into him that way.
It’s worrying and I’ll admit I’ve been in tears a few times out of sheer frustration and worry (even though it’s only a very small amount of weight he’s lost so far – we don’t want him to lose any more!). Dale has been marvellous – very supportive and ready with reassurances and lots of hugs and kisses, but sometimes it’s just impossible to fight the tears – I guess it’s part of the whole “baby blues” thing (don’t worry, I’m not feeling depressed or anything like that, just a bit tearful at times). It’s just so difficult knowing that Xander isn’t doing as well as we’d like to see. He just keeps falling asleep during a feed and we have to try and wake him up a little by tickling his feet, blowing on his face and changing his nappy part-way through, just to get him to keep sucking. The midwife will be back tomorrow to weigh him again and see if we’ve made any progress, but I still worry.
We knew things would be difficult at times, but it’s horrid to feel so out of control about things like your child’s health and progress.
On a more positive note, Xander is now “official” as we registered his birth yesterday afternoon and have his birth certificate, which is lovely.
No pregnancy update this week as things are kicking off now!
I’ve been having regular contractions since just before 4-o-clock this morning. We started timing them at three every twenty minutes and as I type we’re down to three every fifteen minutes. We just need to wait till we’re getting three in a ten-minute period before we think about heading to the Midwifery unit (which is literally only five minutes away from our flat).
So far I’ve been managing fine with just the TENS machine on still quite a low setting (which is FABULOUS, by the way!), and moving gently on a gym ball whilst concentrating on my breathing. The contractions are definitely increasing in intensity, but so far nothing too bad.
Family are all now preparing to head our way from South of the Border and I have Dale and Leni here keeping an eye on the timings of things and generally making sure I’m fine (which, obviously, I am, as I’m here typing a blog post!) and we’re just watching a bit of telly to keep me distracted whilst we wait for those contractions to get closer together.
It looks like we could well be meeting Tadpole face-to-face some time this evening!
It’s all very exciting and we’re dying to find out whether we’re having a boy or a girl and seeing what s/he looks like.
So, I’ll be away for a couple of days at least, but rest assured I’ll let you al know the outcome on my return.
Wish us luck!
Foetus at 38 weeks
Some interesting facts about being 38 weeks pregnant:
- Tadpole is continuing to build a layer of fat which will help regulate his/her body temperature after birth
- Tad will now weigh around 7lbs (apparently boys tend to be slightly heavier at birth than girls, so we’ll have to “weight” and see which we get!)
- All Tadpole’s organs are now fully developed (although his/her lungs will continue to mature)
- My heart is currently pumping 45% more blood around my body than it did pre-pregnancy
- There are now just 14 days till Tadpole’s Estimated Due Date
We really are in the “final countdown” moments of pregnancy now and I will freely admit I’m more than ready for Tadpole to come out into the world. My feet now look like balloons with little fat sausages for toes and my ankles have gone all chubby too (I’ve always had slender feet and ankles, so not only do I find this incredibly uncomfortable, it’s also depressingly unsightly to me!). I feel like I’m a very-slowly-moving mountain these days as I Jemima Puddleduck my way around the place. In fact, when we had our 38-week appointment with the midwife this week, I was measuring 40 inches, which would seem to indicate that the bun in my oven is now well and truly baked. The midwife made me an appointment for 40 weeks and said that she would offer me a membrane sweep at that point, rather than waiting till 41 weeks like usual, so I guess she thinks it’s time too.
I’m getting less and less sleep lately too – I only seem to sleep every other night and on those nights where I do get some sleep, I average about five broken hours. The problem is that I’ve developed an irritating “snort” just as I’m dropping off and it wakes me up. And it doesn’t matter which position I adopt for sleeping, it happens anyway; whether I’m on my left side, my right side, or sitting propped upright, whether I’m in bed, on the sofa or in a chair – I just keep snorting. And when I finally do get to sleep, I snore and wake myself up with that. It’s ridiculous really. So, every other night I manage to get a few hours of precious shut-eye and on the nights in between I while away the hours by trying to read (unsuccessfully as I can’t concentrate!), spending time online, giving myself 4am manicures, and taking full advantage of Sky Movies (which tends to play utter rubbish at silly-o-clock in the morning!).
We thought for a brief moment that things were kicking off yesterday as I was getting a persistent ache in my lower back and the old Braxton Hicks seemed to be stronger and in a lower area than usual, but then it all calmed down again and there was no regularity, so we figured we have a little longer to wait. In the meantime, I’m drinking raspberry leaf tea by the gallon (well, maybe two mugs a day as it’s rather bland-tasting!), eating spicy foods, trying to be upright and active and, well, I’m sure everyone knows of all the ways that are said to “set things off”. I made a delicious spicy vegetable soup yesterday and tonight I think I’ll be opting for a good, hot curry for dinner!
I’ve spent the last week or so cooking up a storm in the kitchen and filling our freezer with portion-sized meals of things like curry, Bolognese, chilli and a whole bunch of other things that I could cook in batches, so that I won’t have to think about making main meals for a little while when Tadpole decides it’s time to come out.
And my maternity leave officially starts as of Monday 15 September, so my holiday allowance was used to its fullest, which I’m rather pleased about. I’ve been very glad to have these few weeks out of the office to get things finished here. Dale has been an absolute star, cleaning and tidying the place and making sure I’m alright (he even got out my foot spa and filled it with cool water to ease my aching, bloated feet!) and has been speaking directly to Tadpole saying that any time the Kid wants to come out is absolutely fine by us! I said last week that he’d made my millennium by saying he was proud of me and how I’d coped with pregnancy, well I have to say, I’m incredibly proud of him and everything he’s done – Dale has taken care of everything from start to finish, taking on more and more around the flat until he’s basically been doing absolutely everything and I no longer have to lift a finger! He’s been loving and supportive all the way through and never once complained or moaned about doing extra chores or the fact that I’ve been a bit incapacitated of late (as I’ve finally had to admit I am now – I just have so much bulk and so little energy!), and always making sure that my slightest needs are met (as I type, he’s cleaning the bathroom which has always been one of “my jobs” even throughout pregnancy, and he’s doing a grand job of it too!). I cannot praise him highly enough for how sweet and gentle and considerate he’s been all year (not that he’s usually any different, but he’s made an extra-special effort since we got pregnant). And yes, I’ve told him all this too. 😉
Everyone is on standby, waiting for the call to say that Tadpole is on his/her way – we just hope it’s very soon as this last-minute waiting is the hardest part so far!
Foetus at 36 weeks
Another week gone and we’re another step closer to Tadpole’s arrival!
Some interesting facts about being 36 weeks pregnant:
- Tadpole now weighs almost 6lbs and measures 19 inches from top to toe (how on earth does Tad still fit in there?)
- Tadpole is 2/5ths engaged and is in the cephalic (head-down) position
- As Tadpole is now a little lower down, it’s easier to breathe and eat, but unfortunately, it means more frequent trips to the loo (honestly, it’s like every hour now!)
- My Braxton Hicks contractions are getting more frequent and are definitely stronger than they were (which means that when I start huffing and puffing, people start panicking that I’m going into labour!)
- My back aches a whole lot more than it usually does (especially in the mid-to-lower region) and walking is definitely becoming more of a chore these days
- I have fat feet (but that’s OK, because most of the time I can’t even see them anyway)
- There are now just 28 days left till our Estimated Due Date!
This week marked something of a milestone for me – I finished work! Technically, I’m starting two weeks of holiday (my maternity leave doesn’t officially start until 15 September), but the fact remains that I won’t be back in the office until the middle of next June. I was taken out for a lovely farewell lunch on Tuesday, which I was actually able to eat and enjoy, as Tadpole is a little lower down now, and on Friday I was given some lovely gifties from my colleagues (a gorgeous bunch of flowers from the Chief; a black babygro that says “Potty like a rock star” from a collage who was recently in Las Vegas; a pair of baby-sized Ugg boots from another colleague who was recently in Australia; a string of felt frogs with a bell on the end from to hang above the cot; some chocolates and a book). It felt very strange coming out of the office yesterday evening and I was a little emotional, but I just about managed to avoid bawling my eyes out and embarrassing myself in front of everyone (I was determined I wouldn’t ruin my eye makeup!).
I attended a class on how to use my TENS machine earlier in the week too. It was very helpful and made me feel a lot more confident about actually using it (another lovely colleague loaned me hers which she used last summer when she was having her baby boy). There was another Mum-in-waiting there who had been reading all the same books as me and was going to use aspects of hypnobirthing combined with a pool (like me!), although she is having a home birth. Her baby is due the day after Tadpole. It was lovely talking to her and I wish I’d remembered to get her contact details!
I also had another appointment with the Midwife. Dale was unable to attend this time due to a driving lesson, but it went well – my blood pressure is perfect and my pee is also spot-on with no protein or anything in it, and apparently I’m managing to keep well hydrated. I’ve noticed my feet are definitely getting fatter, but the Midwife didn’t seem concerned about it, so I’m not worrying. And it’s not like I can even see my feet most of the time anyway, as my huge bump blocks my line of view! A couple of strange things have been happening though – some areas of skin on my bump seem to have far less sensation than usual. I can feel pressure if I’m touched, but I don’t actually fell the sensation of the contact as much (mostly in the region of my fast-disappearing belly button!); also, my hands have started feeling a little numb-ish on occasion, a bit like getting mild pins and needles and feeling a little tight and stiff. Again, the Midwife didn’t seem too concerned, so I’m not going to worry unless there are major developments. She also reassured me that the pains I’m getting underneath in my pelvic bones are perfectly normal and caused by the bones widening out as Tadpole presses further down in preparation for being born.
The only majorly annoying difference lately has been my old enemy – morning sickness! Over the past week I’ve been feeling rather horrid, but this time really only in the mornings. It has resulted in one or two early-morning bouts of throwing up heartily, but once I’m done I feel fine again. The Midwife’s advice was to have a good-sized bowl of cereal just before bed at night as Tadpole’s ultra-activity in the night means that s/he is using up all my sugar supplies, which is what makes me feel so lousy (even though I have already had breakfast when I throw up in the morning). Since taking her advice I’ve still been feeling a little low, but I’ve not actually been throwing up, so that’s a good start!
Next week will be pretty busy as I’ll have a scan on Tuesday to check on my fibroid, and also a clinic appointment (I’m not sure what they’ll be doing at that appointment, actually). Then on Wednesday I’m getting my hair cut (my last chance to make myself look presentable for all those pictures that are bound to get taken of Tadpole and me in the hospital!), and on Friday the Health Visitor will be calling round to introduce herself (she’ll be the one that takes care of Tad and me after Tad is 10 days old and the Midwife stops coming round). In between all that I HAVE to go and get nursing bras – they’re the last item left on my list of things to get before I give birth ad I want to pack the Hospital Bag within the next few days, just to make sure we’re prepared.
So, my first week of not being at work will be a busy one, but at least I won’t have to get up early in the mornings (well, actually, Tadpole seems to think that 5am is QUITE late enough for me to be in bed, but at least I can then have a nap later on if Tad settles back down again!).
Foetus at 35 weeks
Another week, another step closer to Tadpole’s arrival – things are getting exciting here!
Some interesting facts about being 35 weeks pregnant:
- Tadpole now weighs about 5.25lbs and measures around 18 inches top to toe (so, no gain in length, but getting more “rounded out”)
- My weight-gain has probably reached its peak now (I’ve gained 27lbs since the start of the year, which is within the average of 25-30lbs gain)
- My uterus has now expanded to 1000 times its normal size (Oh, my Gods!)
- At this point, Tadpole has fingernails, has a fully-developed pair of kidneys and his/her liver can now process some waste products
- There’s very little room for Tad to move about now (which explains why we can feel clearly-defined limbs and, last night, the toes of a tiny foot!)
- If Tadpole were to be born today, s/he would be considered pre-term, but would have a 98% chance of survival (which is terrific)
- There are now only 35 days left to our Estimated Due Date
Well, I now only have one more week at work. Officially, my maternity leave doesn’t start till 15 September, but I have two weeks of holiday first, so Friday will be my very last day in the office (and, seeing as how I have Monday off and two appointments, that means a grand total of two full days and two half days of office time!). And only 35 days till our Estimated Due Date – where has the time gone? Things seem to be happening a whole lot more quickly these days.
Tadpole is still as active as ever, squiggling about like crazy and pressing against my bladder every chance s/he gets, but has stayed in the head-down position (as far as I’m aware – doesn’t look like that will change now – thank goodness!). Last night, while I had my hand resting gently on the left side of my bump, I very definitely felt a foot (toes and everything!), and several times this week, we’ve been able to feel the shape of a leg all curled up. It still seems very strange to us to think that there’s an actual real person in there, so when we can make out and recognise specific parts of Tad, it’s really very odd!
I attended a breast feeding workshop yesterday, which was quite interesting. Basically, we were told of various techniques we could use n preparation for feeding and also how to resolve certain problems, so I’m feeling a bit more confident about it now, as I definitely want to at least try breast feeding. I know sometimes it just doesn’t work out, but if I won’t know unless I try!
My Braxton Hicks contractions have definitely started getting stronger too. They’re still not painful, but they can be rather uncomfortable at times and seem to happen at the most inopportune moments. The other night it took me 50 minutes to walk home from work (which, as it’s downhill, usually doesn’t take any longer than 40mintues) as I was getting Braxton hicks all the way home. People passing in cars were looking at me, huffing and puffing down the road, and must have been wondering if I was going into labour! I’ve actually been rather lucky in getting to work over the last week though – of the four days I was in the office, I only had to walk the whole way once, as other people who work in the building have spotted me and given me a lift the rest of the way, which is very kind of them and very much appreciated. I also got a lift home twice when I hit on lucky leaving the same time as people who were heading in the same direction. Apart from that, though, I’m still doing a lot of walking around (which is good for helping Tad get into the right position for coming out, apparently!) as I still walked to and from my antenatal appointment yesterday, and this morning I walked into town to pick up a few things. I still enjoy getting out and about like this, but people look at me like I’m crazy to still be walking everywhere. The way I see it is I’ve always walked everywhere – it’s my main form of exercise, and if it’s not doing any harm to me or Tadpole, then why should I avoid it?
On Monday there’s a National Childbirth Trust sale in town, so we’re thinking of taking a wander down to that to see if there are any bargains we can pick up (Dale has the day off too as it’s a bank holiday). Mostly, though, I think we’re just about ready with all the baby paraphernalia. This weekend I also plan to pack my bag ready for being whisked off to the Midwives’ Unit – I like to be prepared! Really, I’m feeling just about ready to pop, even though I could have anything between two and seven more weeks to go – I feel very tight and packed-full of baby!
We are, however, having one dilemma. A couple of weeks ago, Dale decided he’d gone off the name we’d chosen for a boy and so far we’ve been completely unable to come up with an alternative that we both like. I came up with a list of almost 30 names I loved, but Dale didn’t like any of them and hasn’t come up with any himself. I’ve therefore had to warn him that unless he comes up with something we both like, we’re going to have to stick with the original choice (which I really love anyway!). I figure if he really hates it that much, he’ll come up with the goods. If he’s not al that bothered, then he will be content to stick with the original plan. Fortunately, he still loves the name we’ve chosen for a girl!
This next week will be a very busy one:
Monday – Coffee with a couple of friends, then the MCT sale
Tuesday – My “farewell” lunch at work
Wednesday – TENS class at the Maternity Clinic
Thursday – 36-week midwife appointment
Friday – Last day in the office!
I guess that by Friday I’m really going to be ready for a break before Tadpole comes out!
I finally have two photographs to show the progress of the bump. They were taken on a mobile phone, so they’re not of brilliant quality or anything, but they do show the massive growth of my Tadpole-Bump in a short space of time!
The first one was taken at 22 1/2 weeks, the second one today at 30 weeks. As you can see, I’m huge! I’ll have another one taken in a few weeks (possibly 36) just to see what difference that shows…