Friday 27 May 2016

10 Ways The Second Pregnancy is Harder

I am the first to admit that I did not enjoy my first pregnancy. Like, at all. I did not glow, I did not feel earthly, I just felt really angry the whole time. And nine months is a long time to suffer from rage. To be honest, the thought of going through pregnancy again was slightly off-putting. Could I really be bothered with the aching hips, the day-long sickness and all the crying in the bath?

I fully expected a second pregnancy to be more difficult. After all, how can you rest or nap when you are busy looking after a child? The mamas with short age gaps out there are nothing short of amazing to me (amazing, but mental). There is absolutely no way I could juggle a toddler and a pregnancy. Not with my prenatal rage.

Anyway, what I’ve actually discovered, much to my surprise, is that this second pregnancy is a lot easier. I think this all boils down to the fact that I know it’s worth it. When I was pregnant for the first time, I had no idea that I would be able to handle motherhood. But now I know how strong that swell of love can be, how amazing a tiny person can be and what an honour it is to be a mama. So, because of all that, it’s easier this time round. But, and it’s a big but, it’s also way more difficult, for example:

1. I’m only allowed one extra pillow
With my first pregnancy, I spent my nights cocooned by the man pillow I created from about five spare pillows. The man pillow was everywhere I needed him to be. He supported my bump, he kept my hips spaced out and he applied gentle pressure to my lower back. He was everything I needed him to be and I loved him. Even though he was entirely made out of pillow and having him meant there was little room for my actual man man (not man pillow) in my bed. I can’t do that this time. There is already a four year old hogging the man pillow-sized hole in the bed. She’s not there all the time, but she is there a lot. She sneaks in at 2am, climbs over me in my sleep and nestles down in the middle. There is no room for man pillow. Now I can only have one pillow. One solitary pillow that lies between my knees. I am very grateful for that pillow, but I wish he was man-sized.

2. I know I make massive babies now
During my last pregnancy, I thought I was big. I would look at the happy naked woman in my pregnancy book and wonder why my own bump always looked about a trimester ahead of hers. Laurie, being ever so polite, did not let on that I was huge. He told me I was imagining it - you’re always more critical of your own body. It made sense. Even when I was stood at an antenatal class of women half my size, Laurie still insisted that I was just the same size as everybody else. Then I gave birth to a giant baby. Seriously, this baby could have given my man pillow a run for his money. Nine whole pounds of absolutely perfect baby. So, this time round, I know I’m big. I know that this baby could be another nine pounds. Or worse. And Laurie isn’t even trying to lie to me this time.

3. I have to do shit now
I was so pampered during my first pregnancy. Laurie made me a healthy dinner every night, my mum brought me fresh fruit every time she came to visit and they all cleaned around my whilst telling me to relax. I spent most of my energy crying in the bath and moaning on the sofa. In fact, that was basically all I did during my third trimester. A physiotherapist told me not to hoover so I didn’t. I actually didn’t hoover for MONTHS. And, I can tell you, hoovering is not like riding a bike, once that skill is gone, it’s gone. Don’t look at my carpets!

This time, I’m not so lucky. I’m a mum now and that means I have a lot of shit to do. I am physically unable to put my own needs first, it’s something to do with oxytocin probably. Ebony comes first. The other day I blew up a paddling pool for her. I am six and a half months pregnant, there is no way I have the lung capacity to blow up a paddling pool. It took me 25 minutes. I thought I was going to die. When I’d finally finished, the sky had filled with clouds and after jumping up and down in the water for ten minutes, Ebony announced it was too cold and went inside to play. I hadn’t even got my breath back yet. Then I had to spend fifteen minutes lying my ginormous pregnant whale body on top of an awkwardly folded paddling pool trying to get the air out. There is absolutely no way I would have done this shit in my first pregnancy. I didn’t even hoover.

4. I keep having to wake up
When I was working for a charity, I had a very lovely boss. If I was tired, I could go in to work late and make up the time later. This is why people work for charities because they are filled with nice people (warning: not always). My new boss is not quite so kind. She’s four and a bit of a tyrant. Some days I beg her for extra sleep and though she says she agrees, she keeps me awake regardless either by sitting on my head or loudly singing the grand old duke of york outside my room. She really doesn’t care if I’m short on sleep.

5. There is a lot of admin to do
There are lots of things you need to do when you have a baby. You have to fill forms in and write in baby books and knit blankets. And it’s all very lovely and exciting with the first one, but with the second, it feels a lot like admin. And, in fact, for me it is double the admin because, despite my good intentions, I actually never got round to doing any of that stuff for Ebony. So, I can’t start filling in the new baby’s book (which I haven’t bought yet) because I haven’t finished (started) Ebony’s yet. I can’t knit a blanket for the new baby because my knitting needles are entangled in the baby blanket I’m knitting for when Ebony’s born (spoiler alert: I think I might have missed my deadline there).

6. There are no exciting shopping trips
I spent half of my first pregnancy walking around Mothercare and John Lewis in a constant state of excitement. I looked at bunting, I spent a long time choosing paint colours and I wanted everything to be perfect for the baby’s arrival. And it was. But then the baby never slept in the damn nursery because she was in our room. And we couldn’t have friends to stay because we’d changed our spare room with sofa bed into a weirdly baby-free nursery. I’m not making that mistake again. So this time, there will be no nursery. This baby will get a room when he or she needs one and not a moment sooner. And that means there are no paint colours to pick out, no wall prints to choose and no shelves to put up. And we don’t really need to buy any clothes either because the loft is full of them. So we haven’t been on any exciting shopping trips. And, even if we did, we’d be the stressed parents with the rampaging four year old wanting to know why she couldn’t have all of the toys in the shop, not the excited wide-eyed expectant parents with all this to come.

7. People aren’t really interested
When it’s your first pregnancy, people want to know all the details. Especially if, like me, you were one of the first of your friends to have a baby. They want to know the gory details. You’re a walking freak show and everybody wants a piece of you. The second time around, not so much. For a start, all my friends have learnt their lesson not to ask me too many questions about the pregnancy in case I whinge and moan for nine months like I did last time. And, quite frankly, pregnancy isn’t as interesting the second time around. If I can’t even get enthused about it, I can hardly expect everybody else to, can I?

8. It’s going too fast
My first pregnancy was really slow. It’s meant to be about nine months, but I’m pretty sure my first pregnancy was seven years long. It just would not end. Every single hour stretched out into an eternity. There was absolutely no risk of me not completing my to-do list, I had all the time in the world to get those jobs done. This time around, I haven’t even found the time to write a to-do list. The past couple of months have flown by and I can tell the baby will be here before I know it. This poor baby will have to born in the kitchen sink (I haven’t quite gotten around to sorting out that birthing pool just yet), sleep in a drawer and wear an envelope (because I’m giving birth to Sarah from Jack and Sarah).

9. The baths are rubbish
We were living in a different house when I was pregnant with Ebony. We had a huge bath that was big enough for me even when I was at my most pregnant (seven years pregnant, remember). It was huge. Every evening, I would get home from work and go straight for a bath. I would listen to Woman’s Hour and sob loudly at all the baby-related discussions. I would lie there for hours, crying and turning into a prune. These days, our bath is about the size of a thimble. It is not big enough for normal me, nevermind pregnant me. And, of course, I rarely get to bath alone. If I so much as think about having a bath, Ebony is already diving into the minuscule tub. She takes up a lot of space for a small child. And (brace yourself), she makes me play with her. I have to play doctors or some weird game about umbrellas, half the time I don’t even know what we’re playing because they’re games she has invented with Laurie. And, worst of all, she won’t even let me listen to Woman’s Hour. She talks over it.

10. I can’t enjoy my pregnancy rage
Pregnancy rage is a terrible affliction. But, also, it’s sort of fun. You’re allowed to be irrational for nine months (longer, really, because new mums are allowed to be unpredictable too). You can cry, laugh and scream all in one sentence and nobody is allowed to question it. It’s wonderful. Or it was when it was just Laurie experiencing the full force of my emotional turmoil. This pregnancy is harder because there is a four year old witness to my unraveling. I can see in her facial expressions that I have gone crazy and that’s not fun. My pregnancy rage is no longer something to be enjoyed, instead, it is something I have to try and quash. And that makes me sad. I used to love my pregnancy rage, it was so much more rewarding than regular rage.

What do you think? Was your second pregnancy better or worse than the first?

Thursday 26 May 2016

Dreaming of Camping

Earlier this week, I went down south to see my Granny. My sister drove and we came back over the Peak District. Thanks to the lovely summer evenings we’ve been enjoying recently, this meant we could take in the breathtaking greenery of the Peak District on our drive home. We live so near to the Peak District, I always feel guilty for not going there more often. Last year, Laurie was given a huge tent and loads of camping accessories for his 30th birthday. His birthday is at the end of July, but we managed to squeeze in a couple of camping trips before the end of the summer (you can read about our first family camping trip here).

I love camping, it’s always so nice to get away even if just for a couple of nights. I love ending up somewhere with hardly any phone signal so that we can just enjoy being outdoors as a family. Our tent is huge, and while that means it’s a bit of a nightmare to put up, it always makes the perfect base. It’s big enough to spend time in when the weather is bad, although I do think we look quite ridiculous as a family of three emerging from an 8-man tent. Speaking of tents, how pretty are these Orla Kiely tents!

After we had such a nice time in Portugal earlier this month, I keep thinking about how lovely it would be to go camping. Camping is the perfect way to get away on a budget, it doesn’t have to cost much at all. Living so close to the Peak District, we don’t even have to drive for very long to find somewhere peaceful to stay. We tend to visit smaller campsites rather than the huge sites with parks and swimming pools. As long as they have electricity and working showers, I’m happy. And as long as there is plenty of room for running around in, Ebony is equally content.

I tried looking into sleeping options that might make camping a possibility for this year. I don’t think I could sleep on an airbed very well, I have no idea how I’d even get up from so low down. I did see these camping beds at Aldi which I thought might work, but Laurie was quick to point out that it would be like sleeping on a sunbed. There may have been tears in Portugal at one point because trying to nap on a sunbed broke every bit of my body, so I was quickly put off the idea. I think having to trek to the toilets 15 times in the night might get a bit much too. It seems a shame because we only got to go camping a couple of times and now we’re having to miss this year because of the pregnancy. I just want to be in a field, eating barbecue food and watching Ebony fly a kite. Is that really too much to ask?

Ebony’s favourite thing is to have me and Laurie to herself. Obviously, she has my attention during the week and at weekends she gets to enjoy Laurie’s company, but there’s nothing she loves more than when all three of us do something together. I wish we could take a camping trip before the new baby arrives, I think it would have been a great way of spending some quality time together as a family of three.

If you’re planning to go camping this summer, make sure you check out The Ultimate Camping Guide by Halfords. It’s got everything you need to know, from how to choose a tent to how to keep kids entertained on long journeys. It’s also got information about campsites across the UK.

Tuesday 24 May 2016

Pregnancy Update: 28 Weeks

This is a photo of Ebony kissing my huge bump. It doesn't look huge on the photo because Ebony's giant head is crushing it.

28 weeks, finally the third trimester has arrived! I am feeling pretty good. By this point with Ebony, PGP reared its ugly head and I was spending most of my time crying in the bath. I’m not going to say I never cry in the bath now (where better to cry?), but it’s certainly more of a rarity in this pregnancy.

I had a midwife appointment on Friday. I still find it really strange how few midwife appointments you have during a second pregnancy compared to the first. I’d not seen the midwife since week 15 so I was looking forward to going again. Ebony wanted to come with me, so she went into nursery late on Friday. She is mesmerised by everything to do with the midwives, she talks about them all the time and really likes playing midwives.

My usual midwife wasn’t there this week but in her place was one of the other midwives who was there at Ebony’s birth. It is hard to have a conversation with someone whilst your mind is screaming THIS PERSON HAS SEEN YOUR BOOBIES, but also, it’s nice to chat about how lovely Ebony’s birth was. I am really looking forward to giving birth again and most people recoil in horror when I say that aloud, but not the midwives, they’re totally on board with the whole empowering birth thing. I just want to feel like a superhero again.

I had my whooping cough vaccination (note: this is pronounced hooping cough, just in case you didn’t know, I awkwardly found out this afternoon…) at the appointment. I declined the flu jab over winter but decided to get the whooping (remember, hooping) cough one just in case. The baby will be born a couple of weeks before Ebony starts in reception class and I imagine this is a lot like fresher’s week in terms of the abundance of germs.

And I had about eight gallons of blood taken which I hate. I really wanted to remain calm for Ebony’s sake, but I’m not sure I was very convincing. Afterwards, Ebony relished in telling me how MASSIVE the needle was and how much blood they took. Thanks, kid. We got to hear the baby’s heartbeat which Ebony was pretty excited about. The baby is lying in a transverse position still, so I spent the next few days obsessing over having a transverse baby at 40 weeks. After me talking about it incessantly for two days, Laurie eventually told me to get my shit together because I’m only 28 weeks (he probably didn’t say exactly this, he has no idea how many weeks I am or when this baby is due. The only time he tries to guess, he gets it wrong and we fall out) and the baby will obviously turn before 40 weeks, so now I’ve stopped worrying about it out loud.

I was hoping they might weigh me at the midwife appointment because I have no idea how much weight I’ve put on during this pregnancy, but alas they did not. I’m feeling huge now but it seems to be mostly bump, so I’m hoping I won’t break the scales when I do eventually get weighed.

When she finally got into nursery, Ebony had to stand up and tell everybody about what happened at the midwife. She told them all about me weeing in a pot, apparently, so that’s great. I can’t wait to find out what she tells everyone after the actual birth.

The blood test results came back yesterday and my iron count is a little lower than they would like. I feel like a terrible vegan for having disappointing test results, my bloods have always come back good before. I asked the receptionist for the actual levels and she was incredibly put out by this (Why would you need to know that? Will you even understand what it means? Or you a nurse or something?), but eventually a nurse phoned me back and said my hemoglobin level was 115 which isn’t bad for the third trimester, just a little lower than they’d ideally like. I stopped taking my prenatal vitamins when pregnancy sickness kicked in around 10 weeks so I’ve started taking them again. They contain iron as well as folate and B12 so that should sort things out. And I sent Laurie out to buy all the leafy greens he could find in the supermarket, of course. My thyroid test came back normal again too, so that’s good.

The pregnancy seems to be flying by and I can already tell I’m going to miss being pregnant when it’s over. I never thought I’d feel that way about pregnancy.

Thursday 19 May 2016

Review: Didi Vegan Cafe in Albufeira, Portugal

We recently got back from a holiday in Portugal. I’d only been to Portugal once before when I was around six or seven and had a very vivid memory of cutting my food on a loose tile in the pool. Apparently this is a memory I stole from my younger sister because it was her foot, not mine, that suffered an injury. According to my dad, I then spent the rest of the holiday vigorously checking the swimming pool for signs of loose tiles. You can only imagine how fun I am to go away with.

We booked our holiday in January, nothing makes me book a holiday quite like the misery that is the post-Christmas comedown. It’s just such a depressing time of year, isn’t it? The perfect time for booking holidays. I didn’t want to fly in my third trimester, so we decided to go in early May. We flew the day before my 30th birthday because it seemed like a nice idea to spend my 30th sunbathing on a beach. Obviously, this was before I knew how terrible the weather in Portugal would be. I think my birthday was cloudy, but I can’t remember if it rained or not (it probably did).

Before we went, I had a look for vegan eateries in the area we were staying in and found one a couple of miles away in Albufeira. The original plan was to eat there on my birthday but alas, the weather was bad so we waited for a sunnier day. In the end, we chose the perfect day to go. Didi vegan cafe is a short walk from the beach so after filling up on vegan food, we spent the rest of the day enjoying the glorious weather on Albufeira beach.

Our airport transfer driver laughed when we asked him about vegan cafes, he didn’t think we’d be able to find much vegan food in Albufeira. Never trust your airport transfer driver, they are crazy, there is loads of vegan food in Albufeira, the supermarkets there are as well stocked with vegan products as UK supermarkets.

Didi cafe was really easy to find, tucked away on a sunny side street in Albufeira’s Old Town. The cafe is nice and colourful, immediately attracting your attention from the street. We decided to sit outside because it was a nice day.

I had spent most of the holiday wishing I could eat croissants. We used to go away quite a lot when we were younger and the morning ritual would always be fresh croissants with jam and butter. The shop at our apartment complex had croissants (not vegan, obviously) and I found myself staring longingly at them most morning. I cannot describe the joy I felt when we arrived at Didi vegan cafe to find out they served vegan croissants every day. The only vegan croissants I’ve eaten are the Jus Rol ones, which are really good but incredibly tiny. Like, magnifying glass tiny. Why are they so small? I have never seen a normal croissant so small. Anyway, I am pleased to report that the croissants at Didi cafe were not small. They were croissant-sized and they were amazing. Seriously, so good. I cannot express just how much joy a good vegan croissant can make to a pregnant women, but it’s a lot.

Before I go on, please don’t judge me for how much I ate at the cafe. Remember, I am pregnant so it’s almost certainly fine to eat enough to feed an elephant. Until this baby is born, I won’t know for sure that it is not an elephant and I don’t want to take any risks. So, anyway, after the mouth-wateringly delicious croissant, I had a pie. It was more of a pasty really, filled with broccoli and leek. It was really tasty and came with a really good side salad that reminded me of the side salads they used to serve at Cafe Kino when I lived in Bristol.

After the pie, I was pretty full, but then I found out about the desserts. Oh god. I really wanted a cheesecake so I went in to have a peek at what was on offer. They did have a cheesecake it turned out, but the cheesecake was next to a lemon mousse, so I had that instead. These were individual desserts and I honestly don’t know how to describe how good the lemon mousse was. If there was ever a food that could right wrongs, it was this. It tasted like the lemon roulade my parents used to buy for dinner parties (yeah, mum and dad, it was me who used to eat all the roulade. Soz). It was creamy and amazing and I was 80% terrified that maybe it wasn’t vegan because it tasted so much like the lemon desserts of my youth. But it’s ok, it was vegan, no need to panic. I have thought about it daily since. It was definitely worth the rainy holiday just to eat that amazing mousse. There is no photo of the lemon mousse because it was so good that I ate it all immediately. Sorry.

We all ate quite a lot and the bill only came to about €50 which I thought was really cheap. The staff were really lovely (I think they were the owners, in fact). It was a really nice cafe and was quite busy by the time we left. The only disappointment was that they didn’t have any vegan ice-cream in (this is crazy, no?). Apparently they start serving ice-creams in June so we were a little early. Having spent a lot of time in the rain, I can see why, but Ebony was disappointed that she didn’t get a vegan ice-cream to eat on the beach (next time I probably won’t promise this unless I know it’s a definite).

The croissants were so good that we ended up going back for breakfast a few days later. If we’d been closer, I would have eaten there every morning. I managed to eat three croissants in one sitting which I thought was pretty impressive but Laurie and my sister both looked horrified. Don’t stand between a pregnant woman and her vegan croissants.

Didi Vegan Cafe is located on Travessa Cais Herculano 11, Albufeira. The restaurant is open daily from 10am until 9:30pm and is closed on Sundays. It is definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area. If you do go, please buy me some croissants. And a lemon mousse.

Wednesday 18 May 2016

Hello, Third Trimester

I can’t believe I’m already in the final trimester. The beginning of this pregnancy seemed to drag, but ever since I stopped feeling nauseous, time has flown by. I keep losing track of how many weeks I am, partly because I’ve fallen behind on my updates probably. I will sit down and write them soon, hopefully before I completely forget how I’ve been feeling. It’s all very well planning weekly updates, but real life has a habit of getting in the way.

If today is anything to go by, the third trimester will be filled with tiredness, aches and pains, Braxton Hicks and plenty of skin stretching. I’d forgotten how horrible it is to feel your skin stretching, I think I’d assumed this symptom wouldn’t be quite so bad the second time. Certainly, my tummy looked like it was still suffering the consequences of the stretch before I got pregnant, so I have no idea how the stretching still manages to hurt so much. I spend a lot of time in the bath these days, and when I’m not there, I’m standing next to it, applying coconut oil to my poor, stretching skin.

I feel very huge. I definitely feel bigger than I was at this point last time, though I could be misremembering my massiveness, I suppose. I am just reaching that stage where getting off the sofa without huffing is quite an accomplishment. If I overdo things, which I frequently do, I pay the price with back and hip aches, though they do seem to disappear quite quickly if I take things easy.

The baby seems to be filling more of me now. I can feel nudges higher up and often find myself feeling breathless. I think my poor lungs are losing a battle for breathing space as the giant baby overtakes my entire insides. I am really not looking forward to the heartburn portion of the pregnancy, I can remember that being awful last time. I don’t like anything to come between me and my food (animal ethics aside, of course).

I feel like I survived the second trimester pretty well. In fact, when people asked how I was feeling I often found myself beaming in response. This would never have happened during my first pregnancy when I basically spent the entire nine months carrying a noose around, just in case pregnancy got any worse. I’m actually enjoying being pregnant, something I never thought would happen. I thought I just wasn’t built for pregnancy (I’ve written about this before here) but I don’t feel that way anymore. I’m enjoying being pregnant, I’m excited about the birth (ok, I’m a bit terrified that this baby might be huge) and I can’t wait to have a newborn again. All of the unknown from the first pregnancy simply isn’t here this time. I have an Ebony, I know that motherhood is the greatest thing in the world and I can’t wait to do it all over again.

So, third trimester, let’s do this.

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