I had the date of my maternity leave etched in my mind all through the school year. Hoping I'd get to that point, not actually imaging that I ever would. It's very odd! And now it's here, it's been and gone! I've said goodbye to my form class and have started my "year off". I am going to take the full year that I am entitled to. We will probably be skint by the end (we haven't actually worked out what we'll do...!) but we know we will manage and we know that this is what's best for our family, especially given that there is a high probability that I won't have the luxury, or rather opportunity, to do this again.
I am trying to relish every second so far. I haven't got dressed yet, nor was I dressed at this time yesterday. But I have still had some accomplishments! Yesterday I sorted out a lot of the baby's things and tidied the lounge and filled the cupboards with food. Today I have done more sedentary activities so far such as... um, watching a film(!) but I have also changed three direct debits that I have been meaning to do since we were married two years ago and I have also changed my name on several household bills/insurances etc. These are things that I have put off for such a long time that even though it required little effort, I feel like I've accomplished something today! I have my 36 week midwife appointment this afternoon. I am 37 weeks (full term!) tomorrow! I am hoping that the midwife will tell me that the baby has started to engage. I haven't noticed anything like waddling (no more than usual!) but I have been having less heartburn so who knows!
So, what have we been up to in the last couple of weeks?
In half term we did the last of our pre-baby visits. We went to see M's brother down in Wales and had a lovely time! We also saw his nanna and auntie, who we haven't seen for over a year. It was such a lovely weekend. I also spent time with friends and met the newborn namesake of M, which was lovely!
I left! But you knew that! Work was busy during my last couple of weeks. It included half term but I did a lot of work during the holidays and then subsequently in my last week after the holidays to ensure that everything would get done. By Wednesday I knew I'd done everything pretty much so on Friday I was actually twiddling my thumbs waiting for the bell to go at 3pm! I spent over 12 hours on Thursday (my day off) 'working'. I say working but it wasn't really, despite tiring me out completely and being emotionally exhausting. I made and wrote cards for each of the 23 students in my form group - each one different with different messages. I also made a video of their old photos that was over 11 minutes long. I cried doing it! I was so emotional. I have seen these students almost every day for five years and they are my first ever form group and so they are extra special in my eyes. I also got them some nibbles for our picnic and made them a cake. On Friday we had our picnic and watched the video - a few of the girls wiped their eyes. They gave me some wonderful presents - baby clothes and a bracelet and wrote some lovely cards and messages. I definitely had to hold back the tears!
On leaving school just after 3pm the sun was shining and it was so warm. I had the biggest grin on my face as I silently left the school alone, walking with my coat slung over my arm and a bag of gifts. It was a lovely way to end the week and start my maternity leave.
Babymoon (attempt 2):
Well, after our fiasco with babymoon attempt no. 1, which had ended up to be not what we had hoped or expected, M had informed me that this weekend we'd be having a "big weekend". In early January he had come along into the living room with the calendar and proudly stuck on the "big weekend" sticker but had not given me any more information than that! Over the weeks I tried to coax out some information but failed. He was very good at keeping things close to his chest. In the lead up I managed to glean that it was somewhere within two hours drive and somewhere south as he said "driving down".
On the morning M became upset as the hotel he had booked months ago decided to cancel on him because they'd double booked. In the end he said that it had worked out better for us, but I still had no idea what was happening!
We set off after a little lunch and headed for the A19 south bound. On the way M deliberately drove round a few roundabouts purely to confuse me. He asked me where I thought we were going and I had thought of Leeds, Harrogate or York, secretly hoping it was York as I love the place! We turned off the A19 into direction of York and I was very happy! M then explained a little about the original hotel. It was a four-poster room in train carriage in a quirky hotel about 10 minutes drive from York. However, we were now staying in a more expensive hotel, on the top floor with views of the Minster and only a 10 minute walk to the city centre, which definitely worked out better.
In the afternoon we went shopping and picked up a few bits. We walked around the shambles and ate crepes from a stall. We went and spent a bit of time in the Railway Museum, one of M's favourite places! After our time out we headed back to our hotel and I had a little snooze before getting ready to go out for some dinner. We decided to try a quiet Tandoori Restaurant which was lovely! Afterwards we walked around the city, holding hands and talking excitedly about the baby. I was always trying to get information about the following day but I did not manage to get much information, other than the fact he was sending someone text messages, which I thought was really odd. Who texts when they make arrangements for something? He also said that he didn't choose York, York chose him, that there was an event on in York just for this weekend. I was even more confused! Especially with the messages that were flying back and forth to M's phone.
On Sunday we got up and had a leisurely cooked breakfast. I was aching all over from the walking the day before and the four flights of steep stairs up to our hotel room (which was actually a suite with a kitchen!). We headed out of the city by car and I was nervous for what was ahead. M was joking about bungee jumping and things. So we drive out of the city and M pulls up into the park and ride! I was even more confused as we headed back into the city!
We ambled around for a while and popped into a few shops. M told me that we had about an hour. About half an hour later his phone rings in a shop and he answers it and speaks on the phone. I tried to move away but I did hear him say "What do you mean it's been put back? But I booked it for 1pm! So 3pm? Right. Ok, that'll have to do." Then he hung up and got a bit huffy and looked anxious. I became a bit more nervous and was a bit inwardly fed up that I would have to suffer my nerves about whatever it was to be for two more hours! I was also aching like mad by now. I was quite thirsty so M suggested we got a drink. I opted for a pint of tea from Greggs and we sat on a bench. About two minutes later M suggests we "stretch my legs" and get going. I happily obliged, letting him take the lead but I was secretly thinking "my legs ARE bloody well stretched. I'm aching all over!". A few minutes later we were standing outside a shop that we had been in the previous day. M starting acting weird, asking me if I wanted to go into the shop again and insisting that he held my still-full cup of tea. Then he asked me to hold the door to the bar next door for him. I sensed that this was "it" but was still confused! I walked along the dark corridor and into a restaurant/bar and looked around. There was nothing out of the ordinary, no event like he'd said but I was sure that this is where something would be happening. M asked for the booking by name at the bar and the lady behind the bar said "The baby shower?". M rolled his eyes and I just looked and thought "huh? baby shower?". We were pointed towards the rear of the restaurant and then I saw a banner with "baby shower" written on. I was still really confused - how could there be a baby shower for me here in York?
Then I walked around the corner and saw someone I thought I recognised. Yes, it was definitely her! But, hang on! She lives in Edinburgh!?! It was then, as my eyes darted around the room that I realised that it was full with girls from BaBs, my wonderful, supportive online refuge, or should I say "haven". First words out of my mouth? "OH my God", which I think I repeated for ages, accompanied by many tears, hands over my mouth! J came over and gave me a hug and shortly after I did the rounds hugging each person in turn. Including children, there were over thirty people there. People had travelled miles, stayed in York overnight, just to do this for me. I was "overwhelmed" (as became my 'word of the day'!). There was food, presents, decorations... it was amazing.
These wonderful, wonderful ladies had spent months organising it via facebook since about November, as I later found out in reading all the secret group posts on there! I had had no idea. Not even when I posted on BaBs that "M was up to something" for this weekend. They were all innocently suggesting ideas for what he had planned when really it was them planning something and liaising with him to get me there! Reading through all that now is so funny, they really had me going and I have discovered that they are very good at subterfuge! All of the things over the past 24 hours then fell into place... York choosing M, the comments on the thread about M being up to something, the text messaging when in York. The phone call didn't add up but M admitted that that was all fake, he'd just set him alarm on his phone to ring like his ringtone, just to confuse me and thicken the plot!
I just can't thank them all enough. To spend months organising something so wondeful, to getting so many people on board, to all the lovely wonderful gifts and messages, not only from people who were there but lots and lots of others who couldn't make it, is such an amazing thing. It is the epitome of what the pink place is about. People who do wonderful, unbelievable things for others all of the time. Not only supporting them through their darkest times but also celebrating their most wonderful times too, for understanding when few do.It's hard to explain to a non-Babser just what it's like. But these girls, although they may have started out as online friends, years later they are so much more. They are Real Life friends too and I feel very honoured to be a part in such an amazing group of people.
If any are reading I just want to say Thank You. Again. Because I really can't thank you enough. The euphoria I felt on Sunday was just like I felt on my wedding day - blissfully happy, anxiety gone, lucky, special. It takes something really amazing to have that effect on you. I bounced home, grinning from ear to ear, still in shock! M keeps saying how obvious it was to him just how much you all love me, how highly you think of me, and it has been such a boost to me (not to mention my ego, which I will certainly keep in check haha!). I can honestly say I've never been so surprised in all my life, not even when M proposed (as, after five years, I kind of expected that!).
What a start to my maternity leave! The rest certainly has a lot to live up to but I am certain it will. I am now so impatient for this baby to arrive! I want to know who he/she is - is she a she? Is he a he? Every time there is a baby on TV or in the street, M and I both go gooey and he says things to my tummy like "you can come out now!". It won't be long, I know. It could be any time, it could be up to five weeks yet (please no!). Now things are ready I am desperate to meet this little person, the one who will fill the babygros, the socks and grandma's knitted cardigans, that will sleep (hopefully!!) in the moses basket that is set up in our room ready and waiting.
I know, through inside info from the girls!, that there will be tough times ahead but I am finally on my way to being a mummy. The end is in sight, an end I never dared to dream about. I still suffer from bouts of anxiety about it all but I know that, at this late stage, that's normal. We're about to become parents - there's no going back, no get-out clause, the most important job that we could ever have. We are so looking forward to it. Of course, it is filled with nervous anticipation, a bit of panic, but I do know that if I don't know what to do or I'm having a bad day then there are a host of people that will help us. I feel very, very lucky to have such a wonderful family and wonderful friends. I can't imagine doing all of this without any of them.
Not long now til we all get to meet the littlest person! 22 days til my due date... not long!
Here are some pictures:
35 week bump:
About to go out for the meal on the baby moon (36 weeks):
The surprise baby shower: