I never thought I would be writing this post but here we are: 41 weeks pregnant and counting. It’s been two weeks since I have started maternity leave and it only means good things: I have completely disengaged from work mode, spent two exclusive weeks with my darling mother, something I have not had the chance to do in almost ten years, and found time to think about how I want this blog to shape up. Southampton weather has been hot but dry, allowing me to go for a walk most days. Despite trying really hard to count my blessings, however, the wait has started to take its toll on me. As a working woman in her late twenties, I have lived the past decade within the borders of deadlines pretty strictly. This strange, long-ish capsule of time where all I do is wait (and I say long-ish even though it’s only been two weeks), is messing up my psyche.
Being overdue is a pretty normal occurrence for first time mums. Some 35% women give birth between 40-42 weeks of pregnancy. The NHS recommends waiting up to twelve days past the EDD for a natural delivery before triggering an induction so there’s still plenty of days left for baby to arrive on his own (but please hurry up already!).
On the day of my due date, we made an emergency trip to the Labour Ward at Princess Anne Hospital fearing reduced movements. I was hooked up to the CTG monitor for twenty minutes. Baby was fine, just a bit sluggish in the summer heat, the midwives reassured us. I have had zero complications throughout my pregnancy so I was sent home with the conclusion that there was nothing to worry about.
I am slipping into uncharacteristic mood swings and cannot seem to control it. The fact that I have worked right up to my pregnancy to maximise my mat leave only to find myself burning weeks without my precious little is making me barmy. I have tried to distract myself from the constant pinging of messages from friends and family and the trappings of my own frustrations by immersing myself in cooking, blogging, and reading. But my mind keeps drifting off.
I have tried very hard to trigger natural labour, trust me I have. I have gone for long, vigorous walks, drank raspberry loose tea on repeat and devoured hot scotch bonnets like sweets. My colleagues keep offering the idea of getting baby out with a strong dose of hot curry. The problem to this hopelessly British solution? I have been currying it from Day 1 of my pregnancy. ✌🏻 What else is a Bengali preggers lady supposed to do? The old wives’ tale that boys make you crave spicy food has proven 100% true for me. Dinners at home have been teeming with all manners of hot stuff: black peppercorns, red chilli powder, green chillies and what have you. Baby is still stirring like the happiest little thing, bless him. His growth over the past few days has been incredible. In his most active state, it seems as though he can singlehandedly sway me with his strength.
A question I get from everyone – how do I feel? Well, I feel like I have been pregnant forever. Sleep has become a terror of sorts – whichever leg/side I try to rest upon aches under the pressure of the combined baby + body weight. But it can only go on for so long, I tell myself. So I sat down and started writing, as I do every time I struggle to cope, and came up with a ‘How to survive being Week 40+’ of sorts. If you are pregnant, past your EDD, and going ballistic, this post is for you.
- Cherish this slow period. I know what you might be thinking – not this advice again! This oft doled out admonition-consolation irritated me too. I just wanted my baby in my arms already. But cherishing the present is also really important. There is no denying that this carefree time will not be yours to claim anytime in…like, the next decade, possibly more. Pre baby maternity leave is a once-in-a-lifetime hibernating opportunity to sleep in, eat chocolate everything, and lounge to your heart’s content. Make the most of it.
- Reset your mind. You had a due date. Now you dont. It’s unsettling, of course it is. But keep reminding yourself it’s normal. Although it may seem otherwise, this pregnancy will not be indefinite.
- Keep walking. As much as you can. As long as you can. I was walking almost everyday up until my due date. And then I stopped for three days in a row. Because – well, because I was just frustrated. Sitting at home worsened my restlessness so I eventually went back to it. So glad I did! A ten minute walk can make a world of difference in breaking up the monotony and refresh your mood. Also, it might just get you into labour.
- Take it one day at a time. I had two episodes of false contractions. The first was on my third day past the due date. Up until that moment I was holding up pretty well but once my contractions fizzled out, I felt a really bad kind of low. The mental energy required to undo what you thought was the beginning of your baby’s birth can be draining. This episode repeated itself two days later and again, I was frustrated from not being able to see the process through. Going straight to bed, sleeping on it and taking it one day at a time helped me cope.
- Stay away from your phone. Nothing adds to the frustration of overdue days like the constant questions from friends and fam. They mean the best, they do. But reading the same things over and over again can trigger serious levels of hormonal rage. Give yourself some space from all that. Ask your partner to reply to messages on your behalf.
- Indulge in some TLC (while you still can).
I woke up this morning feeling good about my pregnancy so I decided to dress up and continue my weekly photo project. I treated myself to a facial (much needed as I have been living like a slob). It instantly brightened up my skin and my mood. I went for a movie in the evening which, going by his intense kicks, baby either really loved or really hated. Mama loved it though, that’s for sure.
- Remind yourself to eat. Now that you are in the home stretch, it is even more important to keep up the fluids and calories. Even if you, like me, find that your insatiable pregnancy hunger is gone. According to my midwife, I am so big from a full term baby that my body isn’t interested in food like it used to be. Mama needs all her strength for D Day, whenever that may be. So – keep feeding the two of you with gusto.
Hope this diary/mini manual helps all you 40 week+ mamas out there! You are strong. STRONGER than ever. He/she will be well worth this long wait. Chin up, feet up!