The time has come for myself and the Mr in my life to have our last holiday before two becomes three. It was his birthday present this year so we're both really looking forward to it. I keep telling people that I'm so excited for a couple of days where we can relax, eat nice food, chill out and have "a few drinks". I say that like I'm going to be drinking, which of course I'm not, but I still enjoy the atmosphere of going with him for a "few" (maybe a few less than he would like though... hehe). At the same time I'll be mostly looking forward to nice meals, chilling at the pool, and waddling around the town together hand in hand.

We're going to The Heritage Hotel in Portlaoise and there are two reasons why I chose this hotel. Firstly, we have stayed there before and the hotel is really lovely. It's also only an hour or so of a drive so should Baby Byrne decide to make an early appearance we are not too far from home. Secondly, I got a great voucher off Deal Rush and the whole thing came to €129 for two nights bed and breakfast for the two of us. We will also have use of the lovely leisure centre which has a great pool. I'm really looking forward to relaxing in the pool as much as possible, though I will be avoiding the Jacuzzi as apparently it is not recommended during pregnancy, probably because of the temperature. Trying to fit in to my swimsuit should be interesting actually. 

I was delighted when I saw this deal because this hotel was where myself and himself had out first little break away together when we first started going out all those years ago. It sounds corny but that was the beginning of an amazing story, and now it's like going back to the same place to symbolise the next chapter. And my God isn't this next chapter going to be a huge one? 

I'm 37 weeks today and I genuinely still feel great. I've definitely gotten bigger and rounder and you can tell that the baby doesn't have as much room to move about in there, but I feel brilliant. The only major difference I have noticed is that I'm more tired, but sure that is to be expected. Another things I've noticed is that I'm hungrier. I've just been having what I fancy when I fancy it but I'll definitely be spending the last few weeks of my pregnancy trying to be as healthy as possible. The main thing for me is to make sure that I am eating lots of vegetables and fruit each day, and drinking lots of water. If I fancy some chocolate, I'll have it. Ahem, what I meant to say is that if the 'baby' wants chocolate I won't deprive it of such... 

I start my maternity leave next Wednesday and that just feels completely surreal. I'm in the process of preparing training documents for the person who will replace me for the six or so months and just tying up any loose ends before I leave. I have another hospital appointment on the Wednesday morning and then myself and my colleagues are going to go out and have a nice lunch together to send me off, so that will be a really nice way to finish up. I won't know myself when I wake up on Thursday morning and don't actually have to get up. Something tells me that himself will be a little bit jealous too! 

Actually, on that note. I don't plan to turn this in to a rant but it really bothers me that the Irish Employment System does not recognise or grant any kind of Paternity Leave. I think the father should at least be entitled to a couple of days off to allow for the birth of his new baby and those first few precious days. It's completely unfair to the fathers in my opinion. It's their special time too. Some companies may have a clause in their contract of employment which claims you are entitled to X amount of days off when your baby comes but that is purely at the discretion of the employer and is in no way legally supported. Hence, most employers do not offer this to their employees and instead it becomes a messy case of having to take annual leave but not being able to 'book it' or confirm the time and dates because you don't know when the baby will actually come. Rant over, get with the times Ireland!

People keep asking me how I feel and it's really hard to put it in to words to be honest. I am mostly so so excited but I'm definitely nervous too. I'm nervous about labour and the unknown. I'm expecting the worst and hoping that anything better than that is a bonus. I'm also planning to start looking in to Gentle Birthing which involves listening to some meditation tracks that people say have really helped them stay as calm as possible during labour. My plan (if that word can even be used with regards to labour) is to try and stay at home for as long as possible when contractions actually start. I want to be in the comfort of my own home surrounded by my own things and home comforts for as long as possible. This could end up being five minutes, an hour, or several hours but I really want to try. I suppose it will be pretty obvious to me when I feel I can't cope for much longer without pain relief of some sort. I have no interest in being a martyr and I am definitely adopting a 'take it as it comes' approach to labour and birth, but in an ideal world I would love to avoid an epidural and an assisted delivery. However, I am very aware that lots of people wish for this and it doesn't work out. I am also aware that it is going to be horrifically painful, and I could easily be the one person screaming for an epidural after thirty minutes of contractions, but surely I am allowed to have a little fantasy right? I would also love to avoid being induced. I just love the idea of it happening when the baby is ready to come. I really want to go naturally but I know a lot of first-time mothers end up going way over and end up being induced so I am preparing myself mentally for that eventuality also.. What will be will be, and my ultimate birth 'plan' is to come out of the hospital with a healthy baby, however that ends up happening. I am definitely anxious to just know how it will all go down, and how everything will pan out. Time will tell I suppose, it's up to the baby now. 

So there we are, 5pm on a Friday evening and I'm about to leave work for what will be my last working Friday until the end of November. I'm feeling happy and calm and I just feel a nervous excitement about all that is to come over the next couple of weeks. It is pretty overwhelming to think about how much our lives are about to change, but there is no doubting that it will be the best kind of change and I've never felt more ready to meet a person before. 

Baby Byrne, we're ready for you! (though, maybe let us at least get through this weekend in the hotel please?)

Tracey x