Maternity leave – what to do before baby

maternity leave before baby

I started my maternity leave at 35 weeks pregnant. Baby’s expected due date was 8th November, and I finished work at the end of September.

People kept on saying, “But don’t you want your maternity leave after baby’s here?” If I take a year, does it really matter, in the grand scheme of things, if I go back when she’s 10 months or 11 months or a year old?

I made the decision for a few reasons, really.

Firstly, I was born at 38 weeks. I have a few family members who’ve gone earlier than that. I didn’t know if that was a trend that would continue with my own baby. Maybe she’d arrive at 36 weeks. (Spoiler: she didn’t.)

I had a lot I wanted to do before baby arrived. The house needed sorting out. I needed to wash all her clothes, sort her room, sort our room, so much to do. And I wanted some time to myself. Selfish, maybe. But I was about to give myself over to another person for a very long time. It didn’t seem like much to ask to have a bit of time to myself, where I could sit and watch TV or read a book or write or do something fun before going through labour and then raising a child. I wanted to say goodbye to this well-beloved and carefree phase of my life before starting a new, much anticipated, one. It wasn’t like I wanted weeks of hedonism, but I wanted some time to relax.

Finally, I was tired. Work was feeling more difficult each day. Sitting behind a desk was tough. Making it through the day without needing a nap was increasingly hard. I felt like I wasn’t giving 100 per cent and that was different for me. I pride myself on my hard work, and I felt like I wasn’t doing enough.

But now I’ve been on leave for over a month and still no baby. It feels a bit odd, to be honest! I’ve worked all my life, and it’s really strange to know that there’s no deadlines to meet right now.

What am I doing on maternity leave?

My daily routine goes a bit like:

  • Doze for a bit after husband has gone to work.
  • Get up, feed rabbits, shower, get dressed.
  • Watch a bit of TV.
  • Spend some time on Twitter, Facebook, this blog, playing Solitaire, WhatsApping friends and family.
  • Have lunch.
  • Play with rabbits.
  • Do some cleaning and tidying, or other chores.
  • Read or write or blog a bit.
  • Husband comes home.
  • Get tea ready for us both.
  • Watch a bit of TV together or read.
  • Have a bath.
  • Play with rabbits.
  • Go to bed.

It’s obviously very variable, but it goes surprisingly quickly!

At least once a week, I generally go out to lunch with my mum, and we go for a wander round the shops.

I’m also going to Sainsbury’s and Aldi more often than usual – one thing that’s nice is not feeling the pressure to do a “big shop”. If I forget anything, I can just pop in another time to get something. Although I do admit that I hope my last visit to Sainsbury’s will be my last for a little while – I think I’ll do some online shopping for a while now. Walking round the shop is getting pretty tough.

Keeping on top of cleaning and tidying is getting harder, as I can’t reach into the washing machine any more, for example, or unload the dishwasher. So I’m having to wait for my husband to get home to do those things. But I still can do most of the vacuuming, clean the bathrooms, do the kitchen surfaces, etc.

There are a few things I still want to get done before baby arrives. I’d like to stock up on toiletries etc a little more, so I fancy a trip to the Body Shop. I want to make up some more lotions and potions so that baby can have nappy rash cream, I can have some nice moisturiser, we can have nice bath stuff, etc.

It’s been really nice to have this freedom over the past few weeks. It was especially good when Barbara was so sick recently. I didn’t have to worry about taking holiday from work or going in late – I could just take her to the vet and be ready whenever she needed me.

I think I’ll still probably be ready to go back to work next year, though!

How early did you go on leave before baby? Did it feel right to you?

40 before 40 – some goals

40 before 40

As I posted a little while ago, I turned 30 recently. I felt a little wobbly about it at the time but I’m over that now! I’m moving on and thinking about 40 before 40. That is, 40 things I’d like to achieve or do in the next ten years, before I turn 40.

I made a similar list for myself (30 before 30) around when I turned 29. However, then I got pregnant and that put paid to quite a few of them! (Mow the lawn every week this summer? Do the splits? No chance. Although quite an amusing image!)

To make this list seem less daunting, and to help me think it through, I’m breaking it down into several categories. There’s a real mix in here of big goals, small activities that just sound fun, things that I’ve nearly done already (have a baby!), and things that are so nebulous I don’t necessarily know how they’ll look when I do achieve them (career satisfaction?).

40 before 40 - my goals

40 before 40: Family and friends

  1. Have a baby!
  2. Maintain a good relationship with my husband, furry children and human child
  3. Find a church community that we are happy with
  4. See my parents at least three times a month
  5. Make some more local friends
  6. Visit far-flung friends more often, or encourage them to visit us
  7. Host a big Christmas or other family gathering
  8. Consistently take family photos
  9. Be proud of my home, and open it to visitors regularly
  10. Encourage our daughter to follow her passions, as well as being a respectful and loving person

40 before 40: Career and finances

  1. Have a job that fulfils me and brings me career satisfaction
  2. Achieve a salary that is enough to live well on, without also relying on my husband’s salary
  3. Make money consistently on the side, possibly passively?
  4. Have an emergency fund that eases my anxiety
  5. Make a will
  6. Donate money consistently to charities I believe in
  7. Have a defined budget for various expense categories, but don’t beat myself up for the occasional frivolous expense
  8. Pay off student loans completely
  9. Overpay on the mortgage when possible and if it makes financial sense
  10. Negotiate bills when possible

40 before 40: Health

  1. Feel positive about my daughter’s birth
  2. Be fully vegetarian – including no occasional fish
  3. Keep consistently on top of my mental health
  4. Get back into exercising regularly
  5. Take a month off from fast food each year
  6. Make more of my own cosmetics and lotions and potions
  7. Get a bike and ride it with the family
  8. Meditate
  9. Model positive eating habits for my daughter
  10. Feel good about my post-baby body

40 before 40: Personal goals – just for fun!

  1. Write a novel or a short story
  2. Support rabbit rescue in some way
  3. Get back into playing the piano
  4. Get back into playing the flute
  5. Take the family to Disneyland Paris, Legoland or somewhere similar
  6. See a show (musical, ballet, concert, play, comedian, etc.) at least once a year
  7. Read at least 25 books a year
  8. See more Grands Prix with my dad
  9. Try ice-skating
  10. See a meteor shower or a falling star

So, I’ve got just under 10 years to get them all completed. Do you think I’ll make it? Do you have your own 40 before 40? (or 30 before 30, 50 before 50, etc?) What are they?

Barbara’s GI stasis experience

Barbara deals with GI stasis

No #barbarablogs today, guys. My poor girl has been dealing with a bout of GI stasis and dental problems. She’s not been well enough to write anything herself. But, while she’s recovering, she’s asked me to tell you about what happened to her this week.

The background

I’ve written about Barbara’s background as a rescue rabbit before. She didn’t receive any vet care until she was a few years old.

She moved in with us in December. In January we took her to the vets and found she needed some dental spurs filing down. Spurs are caused by teeth not wearing down evenly, and are little spikes on the teeth that hurt her cheeks or tongue. (Here’s a great page with lots of detail on rabbit dental issues.)

Obviously, if her mouth hurts, she won’t want to eat hard food. When Barbara first moved in with us, she’d put hard things like fenugreek cookies in her water bowl to soften them for a bit before eating them. She’s ever so clever!

But since she had her spurs filed down in January, she’d been absolutely fine.

(Additional background: I’m 39 weeks pregnant. You know, just the time you want some extra stress!)

This weekend

On Saturday, she was absolutely fine. She and the boys were running around, wreaking their usual havoc. Eating plenty and going to the loo just fine!

On Sunday, she was a little quieter, but still eating fine in the morning. Then evening rolled around. Suddenly she didn’t want to come and have any pellets. She was eating tiny bits but definitely wasn’t her usual self.

We worried that it was because she’d been eating newspaper. (She does that sometimes.) We tried liquid food. Offered veg. In a rather desperate moment, offered a chocolate biscuit. (She ate that.)

She ate a little bit of hay and a couple of pellets. We called the emergency number for the specialist Ned has seen in the past, described her symptoms, agreed it sounded like the beginning of GI stasis, and they advised continuing to try for a little bit, keeping her warm and comfortable and bringing her in in a few hours.

Monday

I was up at 5am to check on her. I’d really hoped she’d be fine by then, but no luck.

My husband and I talked it over. Ned’s specialist is 50 miles away and I’m the only one in the house who drives. I could go into labour at any moment. If that happened, Barbara would be stranded 50 miles away, whereas if we went to our local vet, my husband could walk there and get her. By the time I’d got to the specialist, it would be the same time as our local vet opened anyway.

Local vet it is, then. I know they can deal with GI stasis.

She and I sat and cuddled and napped on the bed for a while after her dad had gone to work, and I kept on trying with food. She drank happily but really didn’t want to eat.

Barbara Rabbit dealing with GI stasis

So, at 8am, I rolled up at our local vets, no appointment, ready to sit and wait with her for hours if necessary. No need – we were in by 8.30. Have I mentioned how much I love our vets?

Bonus: because Barbara has been going there since December, they had all of the medical history we know for her. They know she’s had tooth problems, they know she’s slow to wake up from anaesthesia, they know she hates liquid food.

The vet had a little look at her teeth (Barbara resisted) and said that they were probably causing the issue. But first we clearly needed to get the gut issues under control! So they took her in for the day. We decided we’d ideally have her home overnight so she could sleep in her own room, then go back the next day for the teeth.

By 2pm, she’d had fluids and some liquid food, as well as some fruit and veg that the lovely team had gone out to buy for her. She’d not gone to the loo yet but that’s more of a waiting game. There were gut sounds and we were cautiously optimistic – take that, GI stasis!

I went to pick her up in the evening, and she’d still not been to the loo. But the moment she got home and sat on the carpet, it all came out! She clearly just missed home.

We had a lovely evening, cuddling, eating a few pellets and watching YouTube videos. She still had her catheter in her ear, so we couldn’t leave her and the boys free-ranging overnight, unfortunately. So we put them all in their individual houses – she was not happy.

Tuesday

39 weeks pregnant. Woke feeling a bit crampy and like there was a bowling ball making its way downwards. Stay put, baby, until your big furry sister is better!

My husband had to put Barbara in her carrier before he left for work, because there’s no way I could have managed it. I let her roam about on our bed, but I needed to have her out of her cage, at least.

She was so lively, definitely much better than yesterday! GI stasis all gone. Enjoyed some pellets and some water, and we had a little nap together again before heading off to the vets at 8am.

I signed the usual consent forms and handed her over to them, after explaining how she’d been overnight. Went home, waddling like crazy. Crossed my legs to keep the baby in!

At about 2 o’clock, I rang to check on her, and she was all done with the dental surgery! As usual with Barbara, she was taking a long time to come round, though, so they asked if I could wait until more like 6 before coming to get her. Of course, as long as I get to take her home eventually!

The vet explained that her back left teeth had been rubbing at her and basically causing a mouth ulcer. Everything was filed down nicely though, and we were sent home with some metacam/loxicom, as well as a little “trick or treat” bag of veg that they’d bought for her.

And so we were home about 6.30, just in time for the trick or treaters. Daddy took trick or treat duty while we all sat in the living room. Barbara enjoyed some nice pear and a few pellets, and plenty of water.

And then back home to her brothers!

What a few days. Try and be kind to me for the rest of this pregnancy, please, Barbara?