Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Pregnancy Update: 22 Weeks

Now I'm 22 weeks, I finally feel safe thinking of myself as halfway through. Ember was born at 42+3 (you can read about that here), so 20 weeks really isn't halfway through to me. Obviously, I'm hoping this baby will arrive promptly, the thought of going overdue again is quite horrifying. You don't know waiting until you've gone overdue. 

Week 22 has felt pretty uncomfortable if I'm honest. I think I'm getting to that stretching stage of pregnancy where your bump hurts for no apparent reason. I've spent a few evenings in the bath trying to ease my stretched ligaments. In my last update, I said that I'd run out of bath bombs and the very next day some arrived anonymously in the post. I have no idea who sent them but I cried when I opened the parcel, what a lovely thing to do. So I have been working my way through the thoughtful bath stuff and getting plenty of early nights.

I do not cope well with lack of sleep generally, but it's definitely worse during pregnancy. I am going to bed at the same time as the kids most nights, reading for a little bit (ok, sometimes a lot) and then trying to get as much sleep as possible. But, also, I have to pee approximately 8,000 times a night so the amount of sleep I get is limited. Like, last night, I was in bed for 12 hours and I got 7.5 hours of sleep (which I realise is pretty damn good). I worry that all this time lying down will not help with the baby's position. 

I've been going on lots of walks and trying to stay active. I go most days after dropping the kids at school in the morning, which gets it out of the way and is a good way to start the day. I decided to not go during the storm though because the thought of getting hailed on really didn't appeal to me. I've also been trying to sort the house out, and moving furniture and mopping even though I know I shouldn't. I do pay for it later in the day, but it's nothing a bath won't ease. And if I was waiting for Laurie to do these jobs then they wouldn't get done because he is currently spending all of his spare time working on an assignment for his masters. My top life tip would be not to do a masters when you have a grumpy pregnant wife.

I like the second trimester a lot. I am enjoying the break in symptoms, I did not like the first trimester at all. I do dread the third though, it's so slow and you're so heavy. 

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Vegan Valentine's Day Gift Guide

1. Have you ever seen anything so wonderful as this vegan art print? I think not. It is perfect in every way. You can purchase this Spice Girls inspired print for £3.50 from Etsy

2. Aim high, right? I would never in a million years give or receive something this expensive for Valentine's Day, but hey, you might so I'm including it. I love this Matt & Nat vegan bag, £140 from John Lewis.

3. If you'd rather avoid buying flowers that will quickly perish, you could opt for a plant, instead. You can get this potted red rose plant delivered for just £19.99 from Serenata Flowers.

4. In case you were wondering, bath stuff is the way to my heart. The Dirty Vegans products smell amazing, so I had to include this Vegan is Love gift box, £26.99 from Etsy.

5. I think this vegan journal is a must-have. It's a weekly food planner and shopping list, and it's currently in the sale so it's only £7.50 from Paperchase.

This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to buy something through one of my links, you won't be charged extra but the company will pay me a teeny amount as a thank you. 

How awesome is that Spice Girls print though, seriously? I really need it in my life. 

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Pregnancy Update: 21 Weeks

The weeks are going so fast, it's almost hard to differentiate between them. With being in a school routine, all the weeks kind of seem to melt into one. I have definitely noticed some pregnancy changes this week, however.

A week ago today, when I was 20+6, I had my 20-week anomaly scan at the hospital. I really wanted to take the kids with us but decided not to, in the end. I knew they'd love seeing the baby, but you can't predict how these are things are going to go, can you? 

The sonographer was training a student during the scan, so she was going through everything she saw on the screen and explaining how to figure out which way to move the transducer to find the right shots of the baby. It's all about the angles, apparently. At one point, she found the feet and then turned the wand and two little footprints (kind of) appeared on the screen, which was sweet. 

At the start of the scan, I was too scared to look at the screen in case she accidentally zoomed in on the baby's sex. I really didn't want to know. At one point, I thought I saw a burger on the screen and I thought the surprise was ruined, but then she told her student it was the heart or kidney or something. This was when I realised a career in sonography is probably not for me. Clearly, I do not have the necessary attention to detail. 

The baby was moving for most of the scan, the sonographer struggled to get a face shot because the baby was facing towards my feet. It was nice to see the baby move on the screen, I have an anterior placenta so I can't always feel so many movements throughout the day (which is not reassuring). 

The baby's movements are getting bigger and more noticeable, but I only feel them when I'm lying down still. With my other pregnancies, I've been able to feel more frequent movements. Anterior placentas suck. Ebony has felt the baby kicking a couple of times, and quite often asks me if the baby is awake to see if she can have another feel when I'm lying in bed. Ember pretends she can feel it too but I would bet my life savings (approximately nothing) that she can't. And she says things like, "The baby tried to hurt me. The baby isn't being kind to me. The baby is being a bit spicy today." So her as an older sister is clearly going to be fun. I fear she may be a bit of a spicy sibling, whatever that means.

My SPD or PGP or shit hips or whatever you want to call it is feeling a lot better at the moment. I'm not sure whether that's because my hormones are under control or because I've finally cracked pregnancy, but it's nice not feeling in pain so much. On days when it does play up, I have been having baths which I think helps. Although, I have now run out of Christmas bath bombs which feels terribly cruel when there are so many weeks of pregnancy left. I've been listening to my hypnobirthing affirmations in the bath which is relaxing.

I had a cold over the weekend and felt really rubbish, but I mostly stayed in bed or in the bath and now I feel human again. Laurie was poorly too so the kids didn't have the most exciting of weekends. Although, he did take them on a big bike ride on Saturday which there's no way I could have done (which I think is proof that I was the illest). 

If you missed my 20 weeks pregnancy update, you can catch up here.

Monday, 3 February 2020

Books I Read in January

Ok, this is a new post idea. I'm trying to read more books this year, so I decided to share what I've been reading here. I've been using the Good Reads app to track my reading. I set myself a challenge to read 26 books this year. I realise that's not many, but I am having a baby in June, so I think my reading is likely to suffer in the second half of the year because I'll be too tired to understand words. This post contains affiliate links, you won't be charged any extra if you choose to use any of these links to purchase your books, but I will get a teeny tiny sum each time you do.

Here are my January reads:

Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men 
by Caroline Criado-Perez 
Laurie bought me this for Christmas, and it was the first book I read in 2020. I loved it, in an I-am-so-angry kind of way. This book should be on the to-read pile of literally everybody. It's crazy to see how many ways women are ignored and how this impacts on women's health, safety and daily lives. Even if you think you already know lots about this subject, this book will contain new information you haven't heard before. I learnt so much reading this book. Buy it now!

A Woman Is No Man
by Etaf Rum
I got this book for Christmas, too. I hadn't heard of it before but was keen to read it. It's a debut novel and is simply fantastic. The story follows different generations of the same family as they deal with the problems facing women in conservative Palestinian-American families. The book is narrated by the various female characters and their different dreams, perspectives and challenges. I found myself unable to stop reading because I was desperate to know what happened next. I found myself completely immersed in their world, and I was sad to leave when the story was over.

by Ali Smith
This is actually Laurie's book, and he hasn't read it yet. I am a terrible person. In my defence, I am pregnant, and it was the closest book to me. Laurie was away for a couple of nights, and I knew I could read it fast. I treat books with the utmost respect, and so if I hadn't told him, he probably wouldn't even have realised that I stole his book's virginity from him. I was looking forward to reading this book because I enjoyed Autumn and Winter so much. Spring absolutely lived up to its predecessors. I love the way Smith writes, especially the rambling rants that appear throughout the book. I think she is so talented and has such an interesting of writing.

The Silence of the Girls
by Pat Barker
This was another of Laurie's books, stolen before he'd had a chance to break the spine. Truly, I am a terrible wife. I didn't know anything about this book before I started reading. I never read the blurbs. For some reason, I thought this was going to be a feminist dystopian novel perhaps set in the future, I have no idea why. In fact, it is a book about Achilles, the Greek God, but told from a woman's perspective. The book is more about the lives of women living during the war. It's depressing, like the lives of women in wars. 

It's not a book I would have chosen if I'd known the subject matter, Gods and myths and fantasy don't really appeal to me, but having said that, I really enjoyed this book. I found myself completely committed to the characters and their struggles throughout the story. I don't know anything about Greek mythology, but I didn't feel that this limited my enjoyment of the book. I liked the book a lot, and if you're into Greek mythology, then it's probably an even better read.

by Barbara Kingsolver
I had decided not to buy any new books until I've read all the ones gathering dust on my bookshelf. I am terrible for buying books. I love books, but I have a lot I am yet to read. So I decided to work my way through those before buying any more. Then the very next day I bought this because I like to immediately fail all self-imposed challenges. And also because I loved The Poisonwood Bible by the same author so I couldn't not buy this. If you haven't yet read The Poisonwood Bible, do.

I didn't love this book as much as I loved The Poisonwood Bible, but I should probably stop comparing them as they are different books. Unsheltered is beautifully written, and the characters are immediately engaging and likeable, but it wasn't one of my favourite reads this month. It featured two stories based on characters living in the same place years apart. I loved the modern story and its characters, but I was less engaged with the story and characters from the past. This is a problem I have though, and it's why you won't find many classics on my read list, I seem to find it hard to engage with characters from times gone by. I still enjoyed the book, though, and one of the characters from the past story was particularly interesting because she was based on an inspiring woman. 

Top Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Review: Let's Talk To Mummy's Tummy

Let's Talk To Mummy's Tummy
by Helen Lacey
illustrated by Carla Moreno 

Ebony is eight years old, so I wanted a book that would show her how the baby was developing inside my bump. I knew she'd be curious during the pregnancy, and I wanted somewhere she could find answers to her questions. I searched high and low for a book that contained just the right amount of information. Some of the books looked too basic for an eight-year-old, and others contained way too much information because they were designed for adults. 

In the end, I settled on Let's Talk To Mummy's Tummy by Helen Lacey. If you have a child who is about to become a big brother or sister, I strongly recommend this book. My eight and three-year-olds both love it and checking it has become a weekly routine. The information is simple enough for my three-year-old to understand (and repeat for the rest of the week), and my eight-year-old reads it to herself. 

The book features lots of questions which are great conversation starters to help you and your child talk about the new arrived. The book asks how they are feeling about getting a new sibling, as well as prompting questions about when they were a baby in your tummy. Each page features a new question as well as information about how the baby is developing. 

Each page is dedicated to a different week of the pregnancy, starting with week 12. We gave the girls this book when we'd had the scan and told them about the pregnancy. Each week gives them a fact about the baby's development, information about the size of the baby, and an illustrated image of a baby at that gestational age. 

I really love the illustrations and colours in the book. The illustrations feature a diverse mix of families. The book suggests ways your child can bond with the baby both before and after birth. It's the perfect way to prepare your child for life after birth. The book talks about what the baby will eat, how it will wake in the night, and how your child can help to look after their new sibling. 

It doesn't shy away from difficult topics and addresses big emotions your child may be feeling as they prepare for the birth. The book talks about how you will always love your child and the baby equally, which will be useful for prompting discussions around these difficult emotions as you transition to life as a bigger family. 

I'm really glad I bought this book, it is perfect for preparing my girls to become big sisters. Sometimes we sit together and read the whole thing from cover-to-cover, and other times we simply dip into the relevant week to learn how the baby is developing. 

Do you have this book, and if so, what do you think of it? 

Let's Talk To Mummy's Tummy by Helen Lacey is available from Amazon for £14.99. This is an affiliate link, if you use it, you won't pay any extra, but I will receive a very small sum from Amazon for sending you their way. 

Monday, 27 January 2020

Pregnancy Update: 20 Weeks

These weeks are passing scarily fast now. The first trimester is so slow, as though time actually isn't moving, and then life speeds up for the rest of the pregnancy. At 20 weeks, the baby is the size of a paper aeroplane, according to the Ovia Pregnancy App.

This week, I have mostly struggled to stay awake. My sister came round one evening so I stayed up till half-past ten (wild, I know) and I paid for it the next day. I seem to need a lot of sleep at the moment. It takes ages for me to get comfy in bed, and I keep waking up to pee. It doesn't help that there is a three-year-old squished up against me for half of the night. 

On Saturday, my parents came and watched the girls so that Laurie and I could escape to the cinema. It was nice to spend some time together. It doesn't feel like we've seen each other much lately, probably because I've been sleeping so much. We went to see The Personal History of David Copperfield which I loved. I had to pee twice during the film though, I think this baby is sat on my bladder. Then we went to Hillgate Cakery, the vegan cake shop in Stockport, and I had some chocolate fudge cake which was amazing. And hot chocolate. And then I worried about the gestational diabetes test I'm due to have next month. They want me to have it because Ember was such a big baby at birth. 

I've been trying to walk lots. After I drop the kids off at school and nursery, I do a 5km loop before going home. I looked for a pilates class but they're all in the afternoons or evenings when I either have Ember or will definitely be asleep. I don't know if it's the number of children I have or my age making me feel so sleepy, but the thought of going to pilates at 8:30pm is laughable to me. 

I'm due to have my 20-week scan tomorrow. Last time, we took Ebony and she held my hand throughout. This time, we've decided not to take the girls with us. I think I'm more nervous than I was last time, and I felt pretty nervous then. I do wish they could be there though. My next midwife appointment is during half-term so they'll be coming to that with me. 

Yesterday, Laurie went into the loft and brought down the rest of my maternity clothes. Despite assuring me they were already down, he had, in fact, left two bags up there, so I'm glad to finally have some clothes that fit me. It will be nice to not worry about accidentally flashing anyone my giant stomach. And I finally have my maternity pyjamas which are truly the comfiest thing ever. 

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Birthday Presents for an 8 Year Old

Eight is old, isn't it? I can't quite believe I have an eight-year-old. Ebony's birthday is close to Christmas, which is a bit crap really. It means I have to have all my good ideas at once (sob) and that she has a long wait for the rest of the year. It also means outdoor gifts feel a bit wasted because it's so cold around her birthday. 

We try not to go overboard with gifts. It's hard to find the balance, I find. Especially as they get older, because they don't want toys so much, and so the things they do want are smaller and less exciting to wrap. 

(This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to buy something using one of the links, you won't pay any extra, but I'll get a teeny tiny percentage of the sale price)

Here are some of the things we got Ebony for her eighth birthday:

Harry Potter Vans
Ebony is obsessed with Harry Potter, so I knew I had to get her some of these shoes. They're currently in the sale, so if you have a Harry Potter mad kid, look on the Vans website. I paid £45 for a pair of the golden snitch design, but they're now £31.50 in the sale. Her face lit up when she opened the box, so they were definitely a good choice. 

Clothes Designing Mannequin 
I stole this idea from The Playful Den, if you don't follow her on Instagram, you need to. She knows everything there is to know about play, and I have learnt so much from her over the past couple of months. I bought Ebony a 12-inch wooden mannequin (I got this wooden mannequin from Amazon for less than a tenner) and a glue gun and then I filled a shoebox with fabric cut-offs, ribbons, buttons and fabric flowers. She absolutely loves it, she really enjoys creative tasks so designing and making clothes is ideal for her. It's definitely been one of her favourite presents and was really cheap to throw together. 

The Confidence Code
Ebony loves to read so we bought her quite a few books for her birthday. Some of them came from our local charity shop and cost 25p each, and others I bought new. A few weeks before her birthday, I stumbled across a blog post about how girls lose confidence at age eight. It filled me with fear, so I decided to buy her The Confidence Code For Girls and the accompanying The Confidence Code For Girls Journal. They're books designed to help girls keep their confidence, accept their imperfections and like themselves. I've had a quick look through and they both look great. I also bought myself a copy of The Confidence Code which is the accompanying book for parents. I hate the thought of her losing her confidence this year so I'm going to do everything within my power to make sure that doesn't happen. 

Swimming Things
Ebony started swimming lessons last year and has been working really hard at learning to swim. Laurie usually takes her so I only see her swim every so often and it always impresses me how much she's come on in a short space of time. I bought her a new swimming costume (I chose this one from Boden because I loved the print) and a pair of swimming goggles. Swimming goggles always get lost or broken in this house, and she's been asking for a new pair for ages. I chose these swimming goggles because they came with a case and I thought that might increase their lifespan. They look like superhero goggles and I like them a lot. 

Circuit Kit
My parents bought her this Hot Wires Circuit Kit for her birthday. Ebony likes science so this seemed like a good option. I'm pretty sure the circuit kits when I was younger just had tiny light bulbs that flickered on or off. This kit is way beyond that. You can use it to build a lie detector test, or a burglar alarm, or a flashing light sequence. It has lots of different options for things to make and Ebony has really enjoyed using it so far.

Artist Set
Laurie's parents bought her this artist set. Ebony has always loved arts and crafts, but we don't really have any grown-up art materials in the house. Even the felt tips are on lockdown because Ember has drawn on so many doors and walls. This artist set is more grown-up than the art materials we had before. It features paints, pastels, fancy pencils, and fancy pencil crayons. It has an easel and a wooden board to mix your paints on. It looks like a really good kit and all the stuff she's tried out so far have been good quality. 

All of the presents on this list were a huge success. 

Monday, 20 January 2020

Pregnancy Update: 19 Weeks

The baby is apparently the size of a Game Boy now, though I fear it may actually be the size of one of those giant early computers that took up a whole room. Certainly, I am the size of a room now.

I can't decide if the pregnancy is going fast or slow. Some weeks seem to fly by and others it seems like time is standing still. I don't feel like I am very productive at the moment, I keep setting myself a list of things to do each week and then the week is over and I haven't done then. I don't know whether to blame pregnancy or January, but whatever it is, I hope it passes soon.

I have felt huge this week. All of a sudden, my coat seems to be straining over my bump. I am sure I am too big for 19 weeks, which isn't exactly reassuring for a big-baby-maker such as myself. I am trying to ignore it and focus on the fact that it's too late to worry about whether this baby will be huge or not. It's going to have to come out one way or another. 

I've done lots of walking this week. I've started going straight from school drop off in the morning. I should really be coming home to work, but then I can't go walking until the evening and by then I'm usually too exhausted to leave the house. So, I've been walking each morning and ignoring the fact that I should really be trying to earn money. I do a 5 km loop around my local area. I've been listening to Your Baby, Your Birth by Hollie de Cruz (this is an affiliate link). It's a hypnobirthing book that I'm hoping will prepare me for the birth. It's nice taking a little time out of each day to focus on the pregnancy and de-stress. 

I had SPD in both my previous pregnancies. It was worst with Ebony, but with Ember I was able to control it. This time, I think it's somewhere in the middle so far. I've found it more uncomfortable than last time, but I at least know what I'm doing now so I can keep it in check. I think walking helps, so I've been trying to exercise regularly. It was particularly bad one night last week, so I did a pregnancy yoga tutorial from YouTube. Ember did it with me, and I felt so much better afterwards. 

In general, it just feels like I've been kicked hard in the crotch. It's not pleasant, but it's also not awful. I sleep with a pillow between my knees, and try to take care not to sit funny or unbalance myself throughout the day. If I do too much, the pain spreads to my lower back and that is particularly uncomfortable but I've found a warm water bottle helps to ease the discomfort. 

Other than the SPD, I don't think I'm having much in the way of symptoms at the moment. I feel exhausted all the time, but I'm not sure that's anything new. I've been going to bed really early and reading for an hour or two before bed, but I still don't feel like I'm getting enough sleep. 

I have an anterior placenta so this baby doesn't seem to be as wriggly as my other two. I can't help many movements throughout the day, though I do feel them when I lie down in bed at the end of the day. I'm hoping that the movements will be more obvious as the baby gets bigger (but not too big) because I find it quite worrying not being able to feel many movements. I am used to wriggly babies. I do not like having an anterior placenta so far, if it ends in back to back labour then this will be even worse.

Missed my first trimester update? Catch up here.

Photo by Museums Victoria on Unsplash

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Pregnancy Update: First Trimester

It feels weird to be writing pregnancy updates again. Three is a lot of children. I haven't written weekly updates so far, though I'm hoping I will from now on. The first trimester was a blur of puking and sleeping and feeling generally awful, so I was in no mood to write. 

We didn't tell many people about the pregnancy during the first trimester. We'd decided not to tell the kids until after the scan, so I didn't want too many other people knowing. It would be so awful if they heard the news from somebody else. I basically only told people I had to, and other than that, I kept it secret. 

Last time, we told everybody really early, so it was nice to keep it to ourselves for longer this time. The first trimester passed slowly, but I think that was more to do with the symptoms than the secrecy. The first trimester is the worst. I was throwing up a lot, but I felt nauseous all day long. I would have momentary relief after throwing up, but then nausea would return. There was a constant bad taste in my mouth, too. 

I found that I wasn't eating much (truly, the most out of character thing ever) because everything made me feel sick. Before the pregnancy, I was eating the best I had in years. No snacks or crap, and plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit. I was taking probiotics and eating kimchi, sauerkraut and (vegan) yoghurt every day to try and build up some healthy gut bacteria. Once nausea started, I ate only beige foods or no foods. Chips and vegannaise was a popular lunch option (Follow Your Heart vegannaise is the best vegan mayo and I won't hear a word against it). 

The smell of all food was making me heave. The kids' diets were severely lacking in this time because cooking anything felt impossible. They ate a lot of oven food and often ended up waiting until Laurie got home so he could cook them something nutritious. Laurie's meals are 70% garlic so then the whole of the downstairs would smell of garlic and I would spend my evenings in my room bitching about the smell. Garlic is truly the worst smell when you are nauseous. 

Nausea aside, I also felt exhausted. I had to cancel so many plans due to tiredness (I even had to pass up seeing Suzi Ruffell which was a particularly low point for me). I was completely lacking in energy (beige food is no good for my energy levels) and so spent most of the first trimester either asleep in bed or moaning on the sofa. I did as little as possible because I had less than no energy. The house reached new lows in terms of tidiness and homeliness. Laurie looked like a walking breakdown because he was having to come home early to feed the kids and get them to bed, then desperately trying to catch up on his work in the evenings(/early hours). 

I think it's safe to say we were both relieved when the first trimester symptoms disappeared.  Although I am still very much not ok with the smell of garlic. Don't even think about eating garlic and then breathing on me. 

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Reinstating Old Habits for 2020

Welcome to January, the month when dormant bloggers come out to state their intentions to rejoin the land of blog. You may have guessed that I am one of them. I have completely abandoned this blog in recent months (years), though it wasn't a deliberate decision. Having two children is way more time consuming than having one. Who knew. At first, I struggled to find the time, then I struggled to find the brainpower and, finally, I struggled to find the confidence. 

The truth is, I miss it. I am so glad that I have this record of my life as a mother. In truth, I wish I'd started it sooner. I wish I'd written down my thoughts and experiences throughout my whole life. I realise most people do this in a private diary and perhaps there is something strange about putting it all out there for the world to see. When I became a mum, I read so many blogs and I loved knowing that there were other people out there who felt the way I did about motherhood, parenting and the world. 

Lately, I've been re-visiting my old pregnancy blog posts. I wrote weekly updates the whole way through my second pregnancy and I have been reading them to compare this time (oh yes, I am pregnant). It's so nice being able to look back and see that I felt similar (or not) back then. Pregnancy and motherhood are such life-changing events, and at the time you think you'll never forget them, but in truth you do. The memories fade and your recollections get muddled and all of a sudden you can't remember which child did what when. 

This blog has let me keep hold of my memories. It has secured them in time so that I will always be able to find them. They won't fade or disappear, though the bad grammar and terrible writing will make me weep on particularly hormonal days. 

I am 18 weeks pregnant and I haven't really been keeping track of my symptoms. I'm going to start writing a weekly update like I did last time. Partly because the weeks are flying by and I'm not sure this baby is getting much of my attention, maybe carving out some space here will help with that. And hopefully, it will help me find my writing mojo again because that has been severely lacking in recent months. 

This is probably the most interesting of my life plans for 2020 (apart from having a baby obviously). Other than this, I am mostly trying to be more organised and live in less chaos and read more books. But these are my plans every year and I rarely achieve them. I did read more last year but only in the first half of the year, I'm not sure what went wrong after that. Hopefully this year I will manage to achieve all of my goals.

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