Welcome to my blog on impending fatherhood. I’m Jim, my wife’s name is Daisy, I turn 50 in September! Daisy is a spritely 37. We're expecting our first child in October - hence this, The Geriatric Dad Blog!
This is a proper, ‘in real life’ read from a man's perspective, so I hope you enjoy it and follow the series as we go through all the ups and downs of impending parenthood.
This week: Daisy and I fly to Fuerteventura for a final baby-free holiday - then back for our 25 week midwife appointment...
Holidays have always been important to Daisy and me. Having the chance a couple of times a year to kick back and relax, forgetting the stresses of our jobs back home, has been an integral ingredient in the success of our relationship to date.
So a few weeks ago we decided to book a (relatively) last-minute holiday to Fuerteventura in the Canaries - a last stay (for a long while) in a luxury adults-only hotel before Sprout arrives.
We chose and booked our holiday with Jet2, not solely because Daisy works for them; more because they seem to have been less affected by the recent travel malaise than other airlines and tour operators.
Because Daisy is now 25 weeks pregnant, and getting quite large to boot (something I'll come back to), careful planning of the holiday was needed to a) minimise stress during travel and b) ensure risk was kept to a minimum at our chosen destination.
So I thought I'd pass on some tips on how to babymoon / travel safely while you're pregnant - which I hope will be of interest.
1. Plan your travel very carefully
The first thing we did was select a holiday based on the flight departure time.
We decided to opt for a 6am flight time with Jet2 out of London Stansted on a Saturday morning.
"BONKERS!" I hear you cry. "Who wants to fly THAT early?"
A few years ago I'd have concurred with this way of thinking. But our reasoning was pretty simple. Jet2 offer a 'twilight bag drop' service at Stansted where you check-in online, then turn up at the terminal before 9pm to deposit your hold luggage.
Then you go to stay at an airport hotel for the night (which at Stansted is a 2 minute walk from the checkin desks) before getting up at 3am and waltzing straight through security.
It's a brilliant idea. Especially right now, with the utter chaos some airports (including Stansted) are experiencing.
And it worked like a dream. Dropping the bags off took minutes. And when we got to the terminal in the morning at the ungodly hour of 3.30am, the security queue was minimal. We pretty much went straight through, found the Wetherspoons, had some breakfast (and in my case a pint of Brewdog Punk IPA, sorry!) before going to the gate and having a properly chilled flight.
No queues, no hassle, no stress for my pregnant wife, no standing about for hours.
Coming back - well, getting through immigration took half an hour, and the bus to the long-stay car park could have been a better experience (there was a loooong queue for it) - but overall, at a time when many people are having to queue for hours at airport check-ins and security, we managed to avoid all that completely.
2. Check airline rules relating to pregnant women
This is REALLY important: before you book your holiday, check with your airline or operator whether they let women fly who are past a certain point in pregnancy.
For Jet2, that point is 28 weeks. From 28 to 36 weeks, need a Dr's note from your GP stating you're fit to fly. And if you're further than 36 weeks, it's a no-go, full-stop. Quite sensibly, too!
We had to laugh at their twilight bag-drop. As we got to the desk, a friendly Jet2 member of staff - who must have been in his 50s, I would guess - uncomfortably asked upon seeing Daisy's baby bump, "Evening madam. Could I, er, ask if you, er, have a - erm... [pause] - MEDICAL condition you wish to declare?"
Well! I could have spat out the tea I'd just drunk.
While pregnancy isn't a 'medical condition', it's a normal part of being human, I can understand why the check-in staff took this approach.
You don't want to ask a woman if she's pregnant only to find out... she isn't. I made that mistake once in a crowded pub when I was only 21. A lady was trying to make her way through the crowd to get to the rest room and I genuinely thought she was pregnant.
So, thinking it would help, I shouted, "Stand back! Pregnant woman coming through!" only for her to (rightly) glare at me before shouting, "I'm not pregnant you cheeky bastard!" and give me a slap around the chops.
I've learned my lesson since then and am older and wiser (for the most part!)
Anyway, Daisy replied she was only 24 weeks and well within Jet2's guidelines, so we had no more problems and didn't need to present any evidence.
Rightly, Jet2 just believed their customer (the correct approach).
Other airlines may be different and you may need to produce a Dr's note saying you're fit to fly, so please do your research.
3. Go with a reputable operator and take your medical notes
Just to be on the safe side (cause you never know) Daisy printed out all her notes and took them in a folder with her to Fuerteventura.
In the event of an emergency, having them quickly to hand without the potential hassles of logging into your medical records etc online could be a real help.
While we didn't need them (thank goodness) it's definitely better to be safe than sorry.
And if you're flying with a tour operator - which we would definitely advise - let the rep at the destination know.
We met up with ours (his name was Derek and he was lovely) and asked him where the local medical centre was and, in the event of an emergency, what he'd recommend. He gave us all the info we needed, printed out. This helped alleviate anxiety, knowing there was decent medical help on the island if we needed it.
Plus, a good operator like Jet2 (or Tui, or any other ABTA approved package holiday supplier) should always be able to offer emergency assistance if required. After all, it's kind of in their interests!
4. Check you're insured
Technically speaking, as I said a moment ago, being pregnant isn't a 'medical condition' and standard travel insurance should cover you.
BUT - and this is a big but - I would highly recommend calling your chosen insurer before traveling and declaring it.
Check they're good covering your pregnancy and how far along your term you are.
There was small print in our contract that said the insurer we used wouldn't cover anything associated with what they deemed a 'natural birth'. Which to me was a grey area. Whether a premature arrival of baby at, say, 30 weeks could be considered 'natural' is anyone's guess - but it's always worth getting clarification and being totally straight with the insurers.
Insurance doesn't cost much, either. We got a great deal for £35 that gave us all the cover (and more) that we needed.
Luckily, we didn't need it and had a great time chilling out - sunbathing, swimming, reading and enjoying the hotel's luxury spa.
At one point, there was a slightly anxious morning half way through our week where Daisy declared she hadn't felt Sprout move. Usually he's quite active, especially in the mornings, so I started to panic a bit and wonder what the plan would be.
Now, Sprout doesn't like really cold drinks, so Daisy necked an alcohol-free pina colada DECKED with ice and sure enough it did the job. "Oooh!" she said, as he kicked back. "He didn't like that!"
"That's my boy!" I thought...
I hate pina coladas too. Awful drinks. Sprout takes after me there.
We knew when we were travelling home that it was likely our last holiday like this for a very, very long time. It made us both quite emotional - another tick in the 'your life is about to change forever' box.
Our 25-week midwife appointment
It was also good straight after we got back from babymoon to catch up with our local community midwife for a routine appointment.
She ran some routine tests - urine and blood pressure, plus a listen in to Sprout's heartbeat, which was strong. So strong in fact, I wouldn't mind laying money on the fact he'll end up either being into drum 'n' bass or will become a drummer in a heavy metal band.
While Daisy's vitals were all good, one thing that has been worrying us is how large she has got, quite quickly. She goes to 'baby yoga' sessions every week, meets up with other fellow pregnant friends and she's bigger than other mums-to-be, some of whom are 6 to 8 weeks 'more pregnant' than she is.
So we raised this with the midwife.
She gave Daisy a good physical examination. While she didn't take any bump measurements (that all starts at 28 weeks) she did find was that Daisy is likely carrying too much amniotic fluid, a condition called 'polyhydramnios'.
This probably accounts for her being larger than average.
The midwife stressed that every pregnancy is different, and that we shouldn't worry, as it's not usually a sign of anything serious.
Risks of polyhydramnios
But there are some increased risks associated with this condition.
Any thoughts Daisy was entertaining of having a homebirth are now gone, as there is now more chance of heavy bleeding following birth.
There's also an increased chance Daisy's waters might break early (ie, before any contractions begin).
The midwife spoke to us a bit about this.
One thing I did not know is that a woman's waters can break any time from 20 weeks on. While very unusual (less than 10% of pregnancies) if it happens, it does NOT necessarily mean you're about to give birth.
Post 23 weeks, a baby doesn't rely on the amniotic fluid for survival and a pregnancy can carry on - though would likely have to be monitored very carefully in hospital.
Prolapsed umbilical cord
If Daisy's waters do break early, the midwife told us to watch for a condition where the umbilical cord becomes prolapsed. That is to say, dangles in a loop out of the vagina.
This situation is extremely dangerous, as the cord can stop working fairly quickly. And if it stops working, baby probably dies.
So in the event of a prolapsed cord, instructions are to dial 999 (with Daisy also saying she would happily stuff the cord back inside her so it keeps warm! Rather her than me in that eventuality...)
I'd never heard of either polyhydramnios or prolapsed umbilical cords before our 25-week midwife appointment. It goes to show how complicated pregnancies can be.
Another thing for me, the helpless daddy-to-be, to worry about. I sometimes wonder if not knowing is actually better than knowing. Because you can't worry about something you don't know.
Fingers crossed Daisy's waters don't break early!
Next weekend we're off to a festival! And it's forecast to be in excess of 30C. OUCH!!!
I wonder how Daisy will get on living in a tent for a weekend, in that heat, at nearly 27 weeks pregnant? Sounds bonkers to me, but she's adamant she wants to go, and the midwife said it should be fine as long as she stays well hydrated.
I'll report back on how things pan out next week! Can't say I'm particularly looking forward to it myself but hey - us dad-to-be hubbies do what we can for our preggy wives! ;-)
See you then!