Pregnancy diary: week 22 – work

The past two weeks have been incredibly busy. There haven’t been one or two things in particular eating up my time, rather lots of things (ranging from small to big) that have all come together at once. One thing I mentioned last week was the BritMums Live conference, which was fantastic, and I’ll writeΒ  post about it when I get chance. But I came home even more exhausted than when I left after a busy week, and this week hasn’t given me much chance to rest yet. On top of everything else, Andrew has oral thrush and is most definitely not a happy bunny because he can’t eat without it hurting his mouth, poor thing. The medicine seems to be working already though, as he’s started to eat more again.

Part of my busyness is work-related, both actually doing the work and thinking about the practicalities of leaving. Last week I got my MATB1 form from the midwife. For anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of figuring out the paperwork involved with maternity leave and pay, this little (honestly, it’s A5) form is a crucial piece of paper. It is a pregnant mum’s gateway to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), if she is entitled to it. According to the government website Directgov, a pregnant mum can claim SMP through her employer if (1) she has been working for the same employer continuously for at least 26 weeks into the 15th week before the week the baby is due (this basically means if she wasn’t pregnant when she started the job – though I was nearly caught out by this with Andrew because you’re already 3 weeks pregnant when baby is actually conceived in terms of how pregnancy is measured from the day of your last preiod!)…. and (2) if she earns enough to be paying National Insurance contributions.

If she’s not entitled to SMP, she can instead claim Maternity Allowance, which is essentially the same amount of money, but it comes direct from the government (like a benefit) rather than the employer sorting it out. In fact SMP also ultimately comes from the government, but the employer gets the wonderful job of sorting out the paperwork and paying it in the first instance, before the government later pays it back to them – sounds a bit complicated to me, but I’m not a politician who makes the rules.

I think bump looks pretty big in this dress, the design must accentuate it! I don't think it's grown that much in a week πŸ™‚

With this pregnancy I’m in a different situation to last time with regard to work. My contract is due to end on 31st December this year, so if I were to take maternity leave, my contract would end during it. I’d already decided after going back to work part-time after maternity leave with Andrew that I would not want to go back to work for a few years after having another baby, for various reasons. For one it would make no sense financially as my wage wouldn’t cover childcare costs for two. But the main reason is that I have realised that looking after my children in their pre-school years is what I want to do more than any other job. I feel like it’s my calling for this stage of our lives. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the research that I do for my current paid employment, but children don’t stay this young forever, whereas there will always be work to do, whether that be research or something else. This means that I am happy to simply leave my job rather than take maternity leave, which would only last a few months anyway, unless my contract would have been extended.

Interestingly, I thought this would mean I wouldn’t be eligible for SMP, but I am, as long as I don’t leave work until less than 15 weeks before baby is due. As the plan is to work up until early October (with baby due at the end of October), this means I can claim SMP from the government via my employer, even though I won’t be going back to work after baby is born. That’s how generous the maternity provision is in this country – I do feel like it could be a lot worse, and I know some other countries are not as generous with this. I mean SMP/Maternity Allowance isn’t a huge amount of money, but considering I’ll be getting some money for quite a few months after baby is born, even though I won’t have a job and don’t intend to for a while, I think this is pretty nice! As my midwife pointed out though, I’ve been paying National Insurance contributions for a while, and this is what I get in return, at a time when we’ll need it the most.

So in the next week or so at work I need to fill in some forms and get the ball rolling for SMP. But for now there’s plenty of work to be getting on with, making sure I leave everything in a way that others will understand when I’m gone. So far I feel happy that things are going well on this front, but I know I’ll be busy beavering away over the summer to finish things off.

And look at that, I’ve just managed to get this post out on Friday, to keep the routine of my regular pregnancy diary slot on a Friday. With all the things going on, and Andrew not napping as much due to his mouth being so sore, I’ve got a bit behind on my writing this week compared to usual. But that’s what’s nice about blogging, and how it’s not like work – I can do things as and when I want and have time to, with no pressure, because I do it for fun. Hopefully things will calm down a bit over the next week, and I’ll be able to write the next installment about pregnancy before the end of the week…..

Pregnancy diary: week 16 – it’s all about the ‘M’s – midwife & maternity clothes

The last time I saw a midwife (excluding the sonographer variety at the hospital for the scans) I was only about 7 weeks pregnant. It was a bit of a polava, because the community midwife at our surgery was off sick on the day I had booked to go, so I ended up having to see another midwife at a drop-in clinic in a local children’s centre about a week later. She was very nice, though got confused with dating the pregnancy as she didn’t seem to listen to my explanations about how I know my own body better than she did – cycles and all that. But the 13-week scan sorted out that minor blip. So this drop-in visit meant I didn’t get to meet my community midwife until 9 weeks later, at my 16-week routine appointment this week.

According to the pregnancy guide from the NHS that we were given at the start of Andrew’s pregnancy, at this appointment the midwife should: review, discuss and record the results of any screening tests I had; measure my blood pressure and test my urine for protein; give me info on the 20-week anomaly scan; let me listen to the baby’s heartbeat using an ultrasound detector. Well, she ticked all the boxes, and we did all that stuff. It was particularly lovely to hear baby’s heartbeat so clearly. When the probe was first put on my tummy all you could hear was whooshing noises, but pretty quickly she moved it to the right position to pick up a very fast little heartbeat – fast is good for such a little heart by the way! Then this was interrupted quite a few times by a crackling sound, which the midwife informed me was baby moving around. Great, I thought, we’ve got another wriggler on our hands! Andrew was exactly the same – never stayed still for scans or heartbeat monitoring, or just in general every day living in fact. This is a good thing; it’s reassuring to know he/she is healthy. It just makes me tired even thinking about what it’s going to be like with two active toddlers – fun but tiring πŸ™‚

Anyway, it turns out I had already met my midwife before, as she was the same community midwife whom I saw when pregnant with Andrew. I thought this might be the case, but I also thought that they might swap around within their team between surgeries or change to being based at the hospital or something. But as I’d had very good antenatal care with this midwife, I was happy to see her friendly face again. (I wasn’t too impressed with her breastfeeding advice post-natally, but now I know where to go for useful advice and help, this doesn’t concern me too much.) We also talked about where I’m thinking of giving birth. I should probably write a whole post on that at some point, so I won’t go into detail here. She was good at her job in that she reminded me of the option of home birth, given how uncomplicated and fast labour was with Andrew, but respected my explanation of why it probably wasn’t for me and didn’t try to persuade me otherwise.

As the appointment drew to a close, she told me that my next routine appointment wasn’t until 28 weeks. This seems like ages away, but apparently I get fewer routine appointments as I did last time because this is my second pregnancy, and it seems like they think you’re a pro at it by now! Of course I can always ring up if I have any problems, but I imagine that time will fly by and it’ll be July before we know it.

I was thinking of taking a photo to illustrate the fact that I'm wearing maternity clothes (see below for ramblings about that), but then thought that it would be interesting to take a picture of the bump each week to see how it's changing, so I got Tom to take one focusing on the middle part of my body. As you can see there's not much of a bump at the moment, but it's more comfortable in these nice and stretchy black maternity trousers, and the grey of the maternity jumper, with room for expanding bump, matches my sea bands very nicely πŸ˜‰

Apart from this midwife visit, the other event of note in my pregnancy diary this week has been the extraction of maternity clothes from storage and entry into wardrobe! My bump isn’t really that noticeable yet – maybe it is to those who know me, but to the average person on the street I probably just look like I’ve eaten a few too many chocolate bars πŸ˜‰ I’ve just begun to notice that my clothes (bottoms really) are getting a little tighter, and as I’m still feeling sick (not bad going to get this far in the post without mentioning the ‘s’ word I think), it’s nice to have something a little looser and stretchier around my tummy/hips region. Plus we had Granny help on Tuesday this week, so I took advantage of 10 minutes of that time to do the removal from storage and exchange with some of the clothes from my non-maternity wardrobe.

Although this pregnancy is at a slightly earlier point in the year relative to the last one, I reckon I’ll be fine with the clothes I had before. I didn’t get that many, and managed to wear some looser fitting non-maternity clothes, mainly jumpers, cardigans and empire-line tops. I probably won’t need my coat as much this time (well, who knows with the current state of the weather, but if we actually get some semblance of summer, I shouldn’t need it for as long this time). Last time I deliberately went for layers, so I could, for example, wear a t-shirt or vest under another top or a short-sleeved dress in colder weather. This should work well this time too.

So that’s my round up of the ‘M’-related week of pregnancy that I’ve had. Just to chuck a bit of linguistics in before I leave you, did you know that the word ‘midwife’ comes from Old Engllish mid ‘with’ wife ‘woman’? Unsurprisingly this describes someone (usually another woman, though not always) who is trained to be with and help a woman in the process of labour and birth. I know that next week’s post is also going to talk about a word beginning with ‘M’, which I could have talked about this week, but I’ve already rambled on enough, so I’ll keep you guessing…. any guesses anyone?! πŸ™‚