I will have delivered my baby tomorrow. It’s five year since I last delivered a baby. Some things loom large, other things I’ve had to ask about and read up on because, by accident or design, I’ve forgotten them. It’s good and bad that I know what lies ahead. The hellish stage of caring for a newborn looms large. As does the joy of seeing a new person in our family.
I’ve been thinking about all the women in our families who’ve done this before. My husband’s grandmother, who had 17 births to her credit. My grandmother, who delivered eight children, including a set of twins. My mother and mother in law, my sister in law and other relatives who’ve been through this.
I’ve been thinking further back too, to the women who were pregnant and labouring during times which were much more trying than the current state of the nation. I’ve been thinking of the girls and women in Tuam most particularly. I think about them being 39 weeks pregnant, as I am, and knowing they will have to birth babies they won’t be able to keep, and knowing that there’s a chance those babies will die because they’ve probably seen this happen myriad times already.
I had no say in how I delivered my first child. She (I thought she was a he and got an enormous shock) had settled into a comfortable but dangerous position and didn’t budge, so it was a c section and a planned and controlled birth. My second pregnancy also ended in a section, but various factors made me feel a lot more in control and it was an empowering decision and experience. I’ll be back in theatre, with that same feeling of control that you don’t often get to experience during pregnancy, when so much is outside your control, tomorrow.
This is the very first time I have been pregnant in Ireland without the eighth amendment being in place. My hospital consultant was part of the campaign to repeal the eighth. The legislation to give effect to the repeal of the eighth and introduce abortion services here has yet to be passed, but it is fantastic knowing it is on the way and our families won’t have to experience a pregnancy under it ever again.
I am officially exhausted. I could complain all day long about how tired, achey and breathless I am. Everything is a massive effort. I get spurts of energy and then I try to do too much because all I’m really motivated to do is nest, and then I’m tired halfway through a job.
This is the third time I’ve done this, and I think it’s been the most tiring of all. I know how lucky I am. I know how many people would love to be in this position. I know how privileged I am.
But I am just. so. tired.
When I had two children within 15 months and then moved house two years later I went through a lot of decision making about baby, toddler and child stuff. There was a lot of stuff, some borrowed and happily returned, most stuffed into storage bags and our attic as our children outgrew it. When we moved house I happily passed on most of it to someone who needed it more than I did, given that I wasn’t sure if we’d have another child and I wanted to sort through it and reduce the pile anyway.
Now that our third baby is on the way I’ve been resorting what we had tucked away and deciding on what we need to buy or acquire. Some of the things I gave away have come back, and I’m especially grateful to get back one particular sentimental item. I found a moses basket and stand in our local charity shop and a changing table, cot mobile, sling and sundry other items via a zero waste Facebook group. We’ll be using washable nappies again and despite giving away a lot of baby clothes we’ve more than enough to keep us going for months.
We haven’t been totally zero waste about it, mainly due to legitimate health and safety rules for baby stuff. It’s recommended to buy a new moses basket and cot mattress for each new baby, so that’s what we’ve done. Car seats for babies have a five-year limit of use so we need to buy a new one, but our old base is fine as its less than ten years old and hasn’t been in an accident. The biggest ‘we can’t get away with borrowing this, getting it free or making do with what we have’ item has been a new car and we had to make some serious compromises, but such is life.
I suppose the biggest zero waste decision is that, as with my first two children, I plan on breastfeeding. It’s free food, which is perfect for a baby and produces waste which washes out in the washing machine. What’s not to love.
Marjorie wasn’t a woman who encouraged people to sit around and do nothing in her books. She had little patience for women who moped and hoped rather than taking action. I’m not the best at taking action myself, and I have a terrible habit of procrastination and apathy. Regrettably, it takes a lot to shock me into action. Part of this is self-preservation, especially at the moment. I need to be able to ignore large parts of the news right now in order to remain at a certain level of sanity and calm.
I have boundless, endless admiration for the women who’ve gone before me who aren’t like me and asked themselves what they could do, and then took action. On a personal level for me in Ireland, the repeal campaigners are women to whom we all owe a debt of gratitude. I shudder to think how long change would take if everyone was like me but, thankfully, they aren’t.
Which leads me to Hannah Townsend, author of an anti slavery alphabet for children. I came across the link on Twitter and the text immediately grabbed me. It of course brings to mind what’s happening right now. I don’t know what I can do, but I’m hoping today’s Hannah’s know what they can do, and that I and others can help in some small way.
One of my very favourite Christmas songs is on rotation on Christmas FM every year. I adore the lyrics and music of Greg Lake’s I Believe in Father Christmas. It has become more like a poem to me, as it sums up a lot of how I feel about the festive season, in terms of my memories of it as a child, how I experience it now and how I think future years might pan out.
It has been hard to be hopeful this year, for many reasons. This Christmas, I’m hopeful that:
- Modern medicine can deliver in myriad ways.
- Mueller’s investigation continues apace.
- Our plans for the short and medium term come to fruition.
- I get to meet everyone I haven’t seen since last Christmas as friends come ‘home’ for the season.
- Next year will show some changes in the political system, at home and abroad.
A day of loveliness on Saturday, two great meals with family and friends and a lot of catching up and making new memories.
Making gingerbread and eating it while watching the Snowman.
A nap on Sunday. I needed it; I’ve been running on about six hours’ worth of sleep a night.
Having almost all of what’s not a lot of Christmas shopping done.
Planning our time for Christmas day. Spending time with our families no matter what happens is always the most important thing.