I really am on the countdown now. Theoretically I have 5 weeks of pregnancy left, as I hit the 35 week mark yesterday. But considering I’ve never reached a due date with either previous pregnancy, I’m expecting it’ll be a few days short of the 40 week mark. I’m well aware there’s a 5 week ‘guessing period’ of due-datedness from 37 weeks to 42 weeks, ish. So I’m thinking I’ll start a sweepstake? So far in labour history I’ve got a 38+4 and a 39+3. Therefore I’m officially predicting my own baby’s gestation to be aboooout… 37+6… I don’t know why but I just think it might happen slightly earlier, or maybe that is just wishful, begging, desperate thinking as I’m SO uncomfortable.
Nothing fits. I even hate leggings and no one hates wearing leggings.
In the past few weeks I’ve had my first few belly measurements and they are consistently above average size, but still within the normal range. I’ve had blood taken again – which actually went swimmingly for a change because everything is swollen and I feel like I have Hulk-like veins. I don’t, but compared to how they normally cower within the depths of my skin so no medical professional can access them, it’s quite a treat.
What else? Oh yes. We got engaged!
Tom and I went down to Cornwall for our anniversary and shipped the children off to granny’s on the way (first time I’ve been away from them over a night or more, seriously!) and stayed in a hotel. It was brilliant, and very relaxing despite some completely inaccessible areas but we just worked things out ourselves, as we have a habit of doing. Tom carried me up and down spiral staircases to the posh swimming pool with staff watching, wondering what on earth we were thinking. We’re not stupid. We couldn’t NOT go swimming, child-free!
There were no accessible changing rooms either so we improvised by sneaking into the empty gym so I could change into my swimsuit top. Well actually, the changing rooms were pretty accessible but it was a toss-up between Tom coming into the ladies’ room and risk getting shouted at, as all men are obviously predators, or me having to go in the men’s and watch other, hairier men changing or dare I say it, ‘flossing’. Neither filled me with ease so I opted for the sneaky gym-change. I guess a disabled person needing access, and then a place to change just doesn’t come into consideration when they refurbished this old hotel building.
Challenges aside, it was lovely to stay in a hotel and just be us, without small children asking for breakfast at 5.52am for a couple of days. My mum had that pleasure. We even took a drive-yourself boat trip in the bay. Again, we faced challenges with this before we’d even gotten in the boat, with the operators of the boat-hire saying they were concerned for my safety. (We’re always being irresponsible and risking our lives). It transpires that their concern was more that I might try and sue them… Apparently they “had one the same, before”, who tried to claim against them after they hired the boat, even though nothing went wrong. It never gets old you know, being referred to as ‘one of them’, those vicious disabled people. What are we like, passionately waving copies of the Equality Act around and sueing people left, right and indeed centre.
See look, I survived the trip. And I’m pretty sure Tom was quite comfortable with me being in control of the boat, just look at his calm face. In the evening following the boat ride, I decided I might be in labour- I was having Braxton-Hicks contractions, which I’ve had throughout all pregnancies but these were every two minutes and getting quite uncomfortable and slightly painful. We finished our restaurant meal and went back to our apartment and after sitting in bed for a while the pains eased off. Tom then decided he’d quite like to marry me, and conveniently he had a ring in his pocket and so the evening got a lot less stressful! Although before that moment Tom was imagining having to propose in the labour ward of the nearest hospital.
It was the best weekend.
So as far as birth preparations go, I’ve washed babygrows, bought some, but not all things for my hospital bag, and discussed a few birth plans with my midwife. It’s mostly a waiting game now.
It’s all getting very near…
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I have recently returned from a family holiday to France. It was lovely spending a decent length of time with my family, as our encounters are normally rushed over a weekend and it never feels enough. I always worry that my nephews and younger cousins won’t know me enough, and that when I do see them they will be nervous or apprehensive about what their disabled Aunty/cousin can and cannot do. But after spending a whole week around them, I felt so much more comfortable that everything seems ‘okay’ for them. My two-year-old nephew must have thought so anyway, he asked me just as much as anyone else if he could go on the ‘jumpoline’ and the swings. I love that complete innocent ignorance in thinking I’d have the strength to hoik him into a swing seat, as much as I’d love to.
Being away from home and with other people is not just a learning curve for the younger family members, though. Every trip out, let alone abroad, with me and two kids in tow is never just as simple as ‘pack bags and get in car’. There are delightful logistical mares (night or otherwise), such as the inevitable game of Suitcase-Wheelchair Tetris, and which route Tom will take from the car door, via said wheelchair, to retrieve a child yelling “I need a wee!” from a carseat buried amongst various armbands, bikes and bags of beach towels, being able to retrieve aforementioned older child, 10 month old non-walking baby, and non-walking me, my manual wheelchair, baby changing bag, pushchair and Tom himself out of the car and into a lift on the ferry all in less time than those people on Challenge TV wearing lime-green lycra and army boots trying to retrieve a crystal from a cage surrounded by code-protected sawdust. It’s exciting and sweat-inducing all at the same time.
Then there’s the joy of finding somewhere accessible to sit where I can actually sit in a different chair and try to ignore the stomach-churning sensation and headache which sets in after about thirty minutes of sailing. Seriously, if you’ve ever been on a cross-channel ferry and thought you got away without any sea sickness, try doing it sat in a wheelchair. It feels a bit like being stuck in a snow-globe. Without any snow or reindeer. Just overpriced pastries and takeaway tea. And other people’s screaming children in the background whom are so much more annoying than my own.
I’ve lost my train of thought now.
Amélie and Geneviève enjoying the comforts of ferry travel
The logistics of holidaying with incapabilities such as my own, continue at each stage of the trip. It’s all well and good knowing somewhere has ‘disabled access’ and that is great, albeit ambiguous, but holiday accommodation abroad or in my own country will never just be simple to use for me. That aside, the gite we stayed in was lovely and clean, and pretty easy to get around, this makes for a happy Lizzy. And there was a downstairs toilet AND shower, quel surprise! Normal people don’t appreciate a good ground floor toilet like Tom and I do. Easily pleased and all that.
Then there are the trips out to neighbouring French towns, not knowing what the French government regard as a statutory level of suitable facilities for disabled people. It turns out that all disabled people living in France are one-armed. At least that is what I gathered from the apparent lack of grab rails in accessible toilets. Just on one side, not both. They like to make going to the toilet that little bit more of a cryptic challenge.
Back at the gite it was pretty chilled, lots of laughing, card games and delicious food and drink, just with the added game of Locate-a-Kid, somewhere within the large gardens belonging to the gite and main house owners. In the event of child misplacement, our first guess would be the infamous ‘jumpoline’ which was responsible for such injuries as my elder nephew’s fat-lip-with-blood and also my own squashed finger. I may have ignored the No Adults rule on the trampoline, but I figured that, well, I can’t stand up and/or actually bounce, so that rule didn’t apply to me. I was merely supervising the children from within the circular edging of the CHILDREN’S trampoline. The fact that I may or may not have a broken little finger is simply the price I paid for the rebellion of having great fun being out of my wheelchair and thrown around by surprisingly heavy kids.
“Get out your seat and jump around… “
The ferry ride home seemed to go very quickly, and before we knew it we were off the boat, had said our goodbyes to our nearest and dearest and were on our way home. Barely a week had gone by much too quickly and our first proper family holiday will definitely be one to remember. I just hope the next one isn’t too far in the distance. I think I might fly next time.
Don’t get me started on the logistical nightmares of even telling an airline that you have a WHEELCHAIR.