labour and birth

The Arrival of Baby M

Despite his due date of 27th September, Baby M decided to make a dramatically late entrance to the world on 6th October 2017. A whole 9 days late, I was beginning to think he would never come out. Or worse still – the whole pregnancy was a rouse and I actually justgot really fat! But alas, after much waiting, mostly impatiently, he decided to arrive on his terms over a week late.  This is the story of his arrival, blood, guts and all. So be warned, if you’re squeamish, you should probably scroll to the next post!

Sweep sweep

As Baby M continued to be rather stubborn in his willingness (or lack of) to greet us, the midwives offered me a sweep. This is a slightly invasive examination involving a prodding experience, in order to try and bring on the motions of labour. It’s a fairly routine practice, and I was told I would be allowed up to 3 of these “sweeps” before I’d reach the 42 weeks and have to be induced.
Sweep 1 couldnt be completed as my cervix was tilted and therefore not in the right position. Then, at 8 days overdue, or 41 weeks plus a day, I was offered another sweep. The midwife this time wasn’t so forthcoming and didn’t even want to do the examination in the first place. She then told me that baby’s head wasn’t in the right position (it must have jumped back out from the previous fortnight where he was engaged) and there was no point in the sweep, as allegedly my body wasn’t ready. However,  unbeknown to her or myself, 24 hours later I would be well on the way to meeting baby M.

Contraction reaction

I woke around 2am with what can only be described as a combination of period pain and food poisoning pains. My stomach was constantly flipping and I wasn’t sure whether I was going to be sick or my bowels were about to have a serious evacuation.
I went to the loo for about the 3rd time that night and tried to get back to sleep. I got a couple of half hour naps but ultimately the pain kept coming in waves and getting stronger, not allowing me to sleep.

Around 3.45am I gave in and decided I probably wasn’t going to get much more sleep. ‘Surely this must be what contractions feel like?’ I told myself. After a quick consultation with doctor Google, my suspicions were confirmed, though there was still a slight possibility this could be Braxton Hicks. Between ante natal classes, conversations with midwives and the countless pregnancy literature provided, I knew this was only the very early stage of labour – if that. The first thing to do, I was told, is to take paracetomol, which I then duly did.

Next on the list of ‘early labour management at home’ is taking a bath. I felt ridiculous running a bath at 4am, so decided to leave that option for a little while. Instead, I started to time my contractions for frequency and length. Disappointingly, the contractions were not lasting long enough, or happening frequently enough, to bother a midwife or get my hospital bag. More disappointingly, the painkillers didn’t seem to be touching the sides. It didn’t bode well for the rest of labour for me.

Sorry, you can’t shower for work

Eventually, as the pain became stronger, I decided to run a bath. By this point it was 6am which I found to be far more reasonable than 4am, and in all honesty I was hoping for a miracle pain reliever as there was still some time to go before I could take any more ineffective painkillers. There was just one problem – the other half was due up for work within the next 15 minutes or so. He had wisely crawled off to the spare baby’s room at some point during one of my early toilet trips, so I had to creep in and wake him early.

My opening gambit wasn’t ‘I’m in labour,  we’re finally getting to meet our baby,’ but instead, ‘sorry, you can’t shower for work because I’ve ran a bath.’ The other half was undoubtedly confused by this, not knowing what time it was or what planet he was on. So I followed up with the pains I’d been having and how I hadn’t wanted to wake him up in case it wasn’t real labour, meaning he’d have to go to work exhausted.

Some advice please

After establishing that I probably should have woken baby daddy up at some point, and after a long soak in the bath (still timing my contractions), I decided to call the midwives for some advice. Mainly I was hoping here that they would tell me to come straight in and that my baby would be born within the hour,  but that wasn’t to be. As the local hospital midwives only work shifts of 8am to 8pm, with others simply on call during the other half of the day, I had to phone Royal Alexandra Hospital to let them determine whether I needed to speak to an on call midwife or not.

They were very pleasant and took note of my symptoms, contraction times and so on, letting me know the on-call midwife would call me back. By the time she did so, it was after 7am. She was again, very pleasant and explained I should take paracetomol and have a bath at this stage. She also mentioned that as she lived about 40 minutes away from the hospital, I would be better to wait on the midwives coming in at 8am, and give them a call then. It certainly made sense, but it was definitely the longest hour of my life – up until that point.

How many centimeters?

By 9am, I had spoken to the midwives at the local hospital and they had said I could come up for an examination to see how far along I was, and if it was worth keeping me in. Imagine my hormonal dismay when I was met with the midwife from the previous day – the one who didn’t even want to do a sweep. Again,  she seemed disinterested in my situation (she had been told by the other midwife so didn’t need to hear me explain again), and that she didn’t really feel I could be in labour based on the day before.

After a quick feel (I’ve been sexually harassed by strangers in bars for longer), she proceeded to tell me that not only would I be going home, but if I called again and wasn’t in established labour, that I’d have to go to the Royal Alexandra Hospital to have my baby, which shocked me. Apparently, as I’d already made 2 phonecalls which didn’t result in established labour,  this was the standard practice. By this point I’d felt cheated, as nobody had mentioned this on the phone or at any point during check ups or classes. Not only that, I’d felt that it should only have counted as a single call, as it was the on-call midwife who told me to call back purely based on the timing of my phone call. Had I phoned earlier or later, they would have invited me for an examination then!

So, without so much as a figure of dilated centimeters or any reassurance, the other half and I trundled home at 9.30am with just a painkiller to keep me going.

Time for reinforcements

Feeling deflated, hormonal and still in so much pain, it was time to call in the reinforcements, aka my mother. I had already messaged her around bathtime, along with my dad, as I knew they would be up for work. Except my mum had the day off – oops!

It was around noon by the time she had arrived, and I’d already managed another bath by that point. It helped slightly, but definitely wasn’t as effective this time round. By now, the contractions were getting longer and stronger, with myself,  other half and mum all timing them. Speaking to mum helped me cope a bit, even if just to calm me down and slightly distract from the agony running through my body every other minute. Just speaking to someone who had been there before and could sympathise and offer their story (even if the story is nearly 30 years old) helped me make it past lunchtime.

Back to hospital

Around 4 hours had passed since my deflated return from hospital,  and it was at that point I decided I couldn’t take any more and then didn’t care where baby M was born, as long as he was born soon! So I used up my cherished phonecall and made the short trip back to the hospital. Same midwife, same old story – but this time my mum was there. She made clear her grievances, particularly with regards to the midwife’s attitude towards my waters. They hadn’t broken yet, which was one of the main reasons I think I wasn’t taken seriously by her. My mum explained that her waters never broke naturally with either of her kids – the doctors had to break them both times.  In fact, my brother was born less than half an hour after my mums waters had been broken.

In that community maternity unit, their primary focus is on the most natural labour, so they don’t like to break waters. Though the second midwife conceded they would if they had to. What constitutes as serious enough to ‘have to’ eludes me. But it was decided that I could stay in that hospital, with my favourite midwife stating that they would examine me until at least half 3.

Can I get the drugs yet?

With a time frame to aim for, the other half and I settled into the room and switched on some daytime telly. Apparently I can still do maths whilst in serious pain, managing to play along with the sums on Countdown. A couple of TV shows and chocolate eclairs (the sweets, not the cakes) later, my pain and contractions were now not subsiding at all. At this point I was allowed gas and air, which at first felt like it wasn’t touching the pain, but after a while I started to feel the floatiness which helped detract from the pain if nothing else.

As promised, I was examined at half 3 to find out I was 4 centimeters dilated already.  The midwife was shocked and surprised. I wasn’t.  At this point I was advised to chill out for a little while longer. Asking if I could have pethidine, I was told to wait until 6pm when they would reexamine me and determine how far I was, as they didn’t want to give me the drug too early.

I took another bath – I have honestly never been so clean in my life – which the other half had to help me out of. Baby’s heartbeat and my blood pressure were also checked in the bath. The audience as I tried to wash/relax was odd and unnerving, but something I suppose I’ll have to get used to with a child now.

I also threw up, which is a side effect of gas and air. It wasn’t pretty but I at least managed to contain it in a sick bowl. My solution to this was to eat popcorn to line my stomach and keep my strength up,  as it was light. I blame the gas and air.

By this point I was clinging onto my dignity and my other half. My body was doing things I wasn’t entirely comfortable with, and I was still in increasing pain. It was only half 5. I couldn’t bear it, not even for another half an hour. The more sober, pain-free half called the midwives. I needed that examination pronto.

To my relief, and the midwife’s shock, I was 8cm dilated by that point. My waters still hadn’t broken, and there were a couple of centimeters to go before we were anywhere near pushing. ‘Can I have the drugs now?’ I half questioned, half stated sarcastically. ‘Yes, you can have the pethidine now,’ the midwife replied calmly, ushering the other duty midwife to retrieve the injection.

I feel like I need a poo

The pethidine took a short while to kick in but it wasn’t some miracle pain reliever. Instead, it just sort of took me back to the lesser contraction pains of a few hours previous. It was at this point I took to the floor, positioning myself on all fours on a mattress, leaning over a giant beanbag. My hips were constantly swaying and my left hand tightly gripped to the gas and air tube.

It was at this point I started to feel the overwhelming urge to poo, which I promptly declared to the midwives. Apparently all was normal and that was my body getting ready to push – but I should not push yet. After all, my waters STILL hadn’t broken. So there I was, bum in the air, head on a bean bag sooking the life out of the gas and air, trying not to move my bowels or my baby, despite my body having other feelings towards the situation.

Thinking a different position would help, I stood up to give my knees and insides a break. I managed about a whole 2 minutes on my feet before I thought I was going to wet myself. Then, before I could stop it, a rush of mucusey, bloody water flooded my feet and the surrounding floor. Finally, my waters had broken.

Do you want to delIver standing up?

By now, it was just before 8pm and the midwives were getting ready to change shifts. Before they left, my favourite midwife asked if I wanted to deliver standing up.  At the time I thought that was a ridiculous thing to ask and simply replied with a whining ‘no’ in between trying to control my urge to push.  But now I realise it was probably more to do with the fact that baby M was due to make an impending appearance,  and if I didn’t move then he would simply start coming out while I was standing,  leaving me no choice.

So I quickly hopped on the bed – well as quick as a heavily pregnant woman in severe pain can hop onto things – and the midwives positioned me properly using pillows. Still holding tightly to my gas and air with one hand, the other half came over and took my free hand. Not realising until now that this could be a pain relief/sharing option, I started to squeeze as I contracted, probably almost crushing the poor sods fingers.

In a bit of a blur, the midwives changed over and I was encouraged to push.  I wasn’t really sure what I was doing at this point, quite high from all the drugs and having tried to stop pushing for the last hour. With some encouragement from the midwife on how not to lose my voice, but rather direct my push down my body, we started to get somewhere.

This is the part where my other half could probably tell you more than I could, as I wasn’t in the most sober frame of mind and didn’t exactly have the best view (or maybe I did?). But let’s just say after a short while pushing, and a couple of worries about the size of baby M’s head, he arrived just over half an hour after my waters broke at 8.29pm. Happy, healthy and quite big, we shared some skin to skin before being moved to another room so the midwives could clean up the massacre. And his big head didn’t do too much damage either, with mum needing just one stitch – result!

Mum time, my pregnancy

Ooharr Star Glow Face Mask Review

One of the may things I didn’t know about baby showers is how many gifts mum to be gets. I naively thought it was all about playing silly baby games and receiving gifts for your unborn child. However, this unlikely mum was also spoiled with a plethora of pampering goodies ranging from wonderful Lush bath sets to Yankee candles, chocolates and face masks. At a time of serious discomfort and lack of sleep, I’m so grateful for every one of these gifts.

As baby M could make an appearance any day now, I decided to try and get as much use – or sampling – of these wonderful gifts before the only pampering my body gets is the occasional baby wipe to mop up sick/pee/hopefully not poo.

With some time to kill in between cleaning down cupboard doors and washing newborn clothes within an inch of their life, I decided to start with the Ooharr Star Glow skin polishing face mask gifted to me by a former work colleague.

Ooharr-star-glowThis mask promises to make you feel radiant and refreshed – something I’ll confess I’ve not felt since somewhere around the 7 month mark. Its ingredients include vanilla and honey – great smoothers which work well to give the mask a nice, and not overpowering smell. Almonds and Argan oil promise to condition the skin, whilst the Aloe Vera is there to cool and calm things.

The mask itself has a clay-like texture, but with some exfoliating bittiness to it. The mixture glides on fairly easily, with enough in a single sachet to cover your face and neck (in fact, lathering your neck in the stuff is recommended on the instructions). There’s no hot sensation or heaviness like with some masks – I suspect the Aloe Vera has a lot to do with that.

Overall 15-20 minutes is longer than I’d usually have a mask on for, whether that’s down to instructions or general drying/absorption rate on my face. However I found that I needed just over the recommended 20 minutes to allow the clay mixture to set in.

Face-mask-end-resultUpon cleaning the mask off, I found my skin feeling instantly different. Softer and smoother, my face was a bit pinkish but I think that had more to do with the shock of cold water to close my pores rather than the mask itself. Once the skin calmed down, I noticed that not only did it feel better, it also looked brighter and more radiant.

I would definitely recommend the Star Glow Ooharr mask to anyone, as it was so gentle and unabraisive I think this particular one would be suitable for most skin types. Now to find out which retailers stock it!

 

my pregnancy, tests

How to Panic an Unlikely Mum

So I’d planned to write a blog about what a great baby shower I had on Sunday, despite being a bit sceptic about the whole concept of such things. But then something happened later on the Sunday which sent me into a bit of a panic.

Normally chilled and laid-back (most of us probably say that about ourselves), not a lot tends to phase me. I’ve been taking this unexpected pregnancy in my stride and feel I’ve been coping ok (others may agree differently!) with all the changes to my body, hormones and general life as a result. But panic hadn’t featured until Sunday.

Bad blood

In my last blog musing, I wrote about how we had made it full term and that it was basically all systems go for delivering in the local community maternity unit. So far, so smooth. The only thing that could have prevented this from being an option would be the results of the blood I had taken at my ante-natal check up that day.

I chose to use a witty blog sub-heading which made me hum a Taylor Swift song all day (I’ve used it again. You’re welcome), thinking I didn’t really have anything to worry about. Sure, when donating blood mine tends to take longer than most to drip out (I hate to part with anything apparently), but any time I’ve donated in the past, the blood gets out eventually and is good stuff to use. At least nobody has ever told me otherwise.

So I was quite confident my blood would pass whatever tests they were running. Aside from this, I’d been feeling fit and healthy, and none of my previous ante-natal bloods showed any problems, so in my head there was no issue.

You have one new message

Post-baby shower, I was ferrying around friends and family members as pregnancy equals sobriety which also equals guaranteed designated driver (Not that I mind driving, I mostly offer/insist). For that reason, my phone was out of my hands and general realm of consciousness for quite some time. The other half had stopped in to pick up a takeaway on the way home, so I had a quick check of my phone as I waited for him to return to the car.

There was a missed call from an 0800 number I vaguely recognised, with one voicemail waiting too. Wrongly assuming it was a sales call, I quickly opened my voicemail to get rid of the notification, but on hearing the voice at the other end, I received quite a shock.

It was one of the midwives, or doctors, I can’t recall her explaining, looking to discuss my blood results. As she couldn’t get hold of me then, she would call back in the morning. I don’t know about you but from all previous experience, if tests are fine, the medical professionals don’t need to discuss anything with you. Usually you just get printed results added to your notes, possibly sent out to yourself in the post too.

So this already panicked me. On calling the number back, I went to an NHS switchboard. With little to go on apart from the caller’s first name, I knew I wasn’t going to get any further forward. Plus, there was now Chinese food taking over my sense of smell and distracting me.

Sunday night blues

Post takeaway with the in-laws, I started to think more about the missed call and voicemail. My inner Sherlock/paranoid hormonal mum-brain started doing overtime. Who would call at 7pm on a Sunday if the results could wait till Monday? Surely it would have to be serious to call when no doctors surgery or pharmacy would be open, and with the community maternity unit only open for another hour that day? Why didn’t she leave more information so I could try to reach her that evening? What was I supposed to do all night thinking about this?

Of course, option 1 is always to Google the symptoms. But I was partly too afraid to do that, and partly thought there could be literally anything wrong with my blood so wouldn’t know where to start. Instead, my mind just went into overdrive wondering how badly ill I was without knowing (I still felt wholly fine, heartburn and sciatica aside), if it could affect baby, what I should prepare for in the morning and much more.

As an avid Hollyoaks fan (problem?), I was aware of a current storyline involving a pregnant character who found out she has ovarian cancer whilst halfway through her pregnancy. So naturally the other half had to convince me I didn’t have blood cancer and that was a bit extreme to be casually noted in a voicemail of a Sunday night.

So whilst most of the nation tossed and turned, anxious at the thought of going into another working week with only Monday blues lying ahead, I lay awake thinking about all the things that either could be wrong or that I’d have to change now in light of this voicemail. My hospital bag had been repacked in my head, with visions of me being carted to the city hospital the next day, ready to meet baby a couple of weeks earlier than planned.

Relief

It was lunchtime on Monday before the midwife managed to call me back. I’d put my phone on loud for the first time since I was about 16 and had a cutting-edge polyphonic ringtone, just so I wouldn’t miss the call. She was calm and blase, which was nice but annoying at the same time. She casually asked if I was taking iron tablets, to which I replied I hadn’t ever taken them. I panicked, thinking I possibly might have poisoned my unborn bump with too much iron.

Her response was that she would phone the GP to get a prescription sorted out for me as my iron is borderline low. That was it. Low iron. A ridiculously common issue in pregnancy and general life depending on your diet/where you live. Nothing that couldn’t have waited till the Monday morning, and nothing, it transpired, that would mean any changes to my pregnancy and delivery. I was overwhelmed, relieved, angry and ecstatic all at the same time.

Most of me knows that it was 100% my fault for overreacting and sending my brain into overdrive, but I can’t help but feel the vagueness and casualness of said midwife had a part to play in panicking this unlikely mum.

breastfeeding, my pregnancy

Breastfeeding: the problematic attitude in the NHS

I recently attended my local ante-natal class on breastfeeding, held at the community maternity unit of my local hospital. I’ve never felt particularly strongly either way about breastfeeding, so my goal in attending was to find out as much information as possible to make the best informed decision for my circumstances.

Breast is Best

We are all told breast is best for a million different reasons, and you can’t really argue with nature’s way. I mean, a couple of hundred years ago, breast would have been the only way, never mind the best way. So I get it, I really do. But unfortunately, most of us don’t live the same lives as folks did 200 years ago.

Even more unfotunately, the NHS don’t seem to care about that. From the class, I noticed that the midwives were so intent on pushing breastfeeding for as long as possible, that it begged the question of just what world they think we live in?

Need a rest? Dad will do everything else…

This was seen as a viable solution to having a baby wanting the comfort of your breast on an almost permanent basis. The scenario we were painted was one of a mum being led by her baby (nothing wrong with that), but that baby wanted to nurse for 45 mins and sleep for about the same amount of time. Our expectancy was to sit there and deliver when baby demanded, leaving dad to do the winding, changing, soothing to sleep, oh and of course all the housework, ensuring mum has food to eat and everything else in between, all whilst mum got to enjoy something resembling a nap during this time.

I can’t even begin to factor that into my reality, and my SO is pretty good with cooking and housework. At what point do I wash? Have a comfort break? Exercise and fuel my body for this constant endurance test? And that’s just the basics. Heaven forbid I want to bond with my baby in another way, leave the house, or even just give my breast a few hours respite tucked into a bra caked with nipple cream.

The most shocking part of this scenario however, was that this same charade could last for 12 weeks or longer. Now, I don’t know about you, but since statutory paternity leave is only 2 weeks, I doubt I’ll be able to rely on daddy to “do everything else” whilst he’s working 12 hour shifts in a workplace over half an hours drive away. Another girl at the class was also concerned as her husband is in the Navy, so often called to sea for months at a time. And then there’s single mothers, mothers with other young children in the house and about a million other different family and lifestyle makeups that simply don’t coincide with this notion of mother as dairy cow whilst everyone else swans in to take care of things.

Perseverance

Another major point I took issue with was the insistance on perseverance. Persevere past the above scenario, persevere when baby can’t latch on, persevere whilst your nipples are cracked and bleeding, persevere if your milk won’t come. Whilst that’s ok to a point, at what point do we start to take a mother’s mental and physical health and wellbeing into consideration here?

When it comes to other health and wellbeing issues such as domestic abuse or either pre- or post-natal depression, midwives could not be more forthcoming and helpful with information, questions and options. It’s ok to not be happy every day of pregnancy, the baby blues an their descendence into something potentially worse are explained in detail, with a range of opions, solutions and reassurances for potentially struggling mothers. So why should struggling women be expected to persevere through this charade without any support (apart from the regular post natal visits) or information about alternative feeding options, other than what they can find out from relatives, friends or a quick Google search themselves?

I recently read in a Guardian article that one woman felt like “any woman who doesn’t want to stay at home and nurse for at least six months is thrown under the bus of shame.” And I have to say I empathised with her a lot. I really want to try breastfeeding and hope it works for me but the system is not set up for those that breastfeeding doesn’t work for, despite trying, which is equaly off-putting and intimidating.

A friend recently told me of the struggle of feeding her little one for the first few months – no guidance on formula feeding despite her child suffering from colic and other feeding issues. She was left to her own devices to figure it out, with nobody to tell her such simple things like the fact it would be necessary to buy bigger bottle teats when using a milk thickener. I can only imagine the frustration, helplessness and panic I would feel if I were in that situation with no family or friends able to offer their experience or tips, and no support from trained professionals.

It’s not the end of the world as said friend has a very happy, healthy child. However a lot of panic and misery could have been avoided if the NHS just took more of an open approach when it comes to feeding in both ante-natal classes and routine appointments and checks. I’m not saying it’s radically wrong or that the NHS midwives don’t do a great job (they bloody well do), but it would just be nice of them to be more open and honest about other feeding options if you feel you’re not managing with breastfeeding.

I do want to give it a try and I know everyone is different, that it could end up being a breeze for me. That being said, I don’t want to be putting baby in danger if I’m a sleep deprived, sore angry mess! I guess I’m just such a worrier and like to know all the options – only 6 more weeks to wait and find out how I manage!

my pregnancy

5 Little Things I Miss Now I’m Pregnant

Pregnancy forces your body through some magical (and some not-so-magical) changes in a short 9 month period. For many, it also means a few health and lifestyle changes, at least for this period of life. Most of these are well documented and you know to expect them – cutting out caffeine, stopping any heavy lifting and so on. But here are 5 little things nobody warned me I’d miss during my pregnancy journey:

1 – Jeans
It was a struggle to find a perfect fit before bump came along, but boy did I take those high-waisters for granted. Having not worn jeans for about 3 months now, outfits take much more planning these days especially when you have to experience the unpredictable climate of a Scottish summer. Jeans are such an easy fix for any type of day, rain or shine, hot or cold, so as a result of no denim, my ‘getting ready’ time has just about doubled in the morning looking for weather-appropriate comfy clothing.
I know that there are such things as maternity jeans but when you’re over 5 foot 6 they are not a luxury you get to enjoy unless you’re a fan of penguin walks and chafing. (If anyone can find me a pair of maternity jeans that fit a tall size 12 gal, I’ll be eternally grateful)

2 – Opening windows
It sounds ridiculous but there are only about 2 windows in my home I can still safely and easily open and close on my own. Partly down to high ceilings meaning I have large windows, partly down to poor planning in terms of kitchen structure and furniture placement, but nevertheless it’s a nuisance having to rely on somebody to open or close a window for you because it’s too hot or has started pouring with rain, flooding the windowsill.

3 – Delicious food
Ok, so most off-limits foods are pretty well known about by even those who have never encountered a pregnant person. But haven’t you noticed that most of the foods we preggos aren’t allowed are, in fact, the most delicious? I mean, I didn’t even eat steak that much before, but I have never been so aroused by juices oozing out of a rare meat on a cooking show until now. Nor have I ever dreamed of feasting on a good ol’ Scottish fry-up, complete with runny egg, black pudding and haggis until very recently.
4 – Sleeping on my back 
I’m one of those weird folk that still sleeps in the foetal position regardless of how many people in the bed, so avoiding sleeping on my back or front was never something I thought would be a problem for me. BUT, when the choice is taken away from me, it’s upsetting and sleep-disturbing. There’s nothing worse than trying to get comfortable with heartburn (thanks wee boy), whilst battling sciatica and a wriggling furnace of a partner in the bed. Lying flat on my back might do nothing for the heartburn but it’s sometimes all my sciatic nerve wishes for on a sleepless night.

5 – Being left alone
As a (somewhat) strong, independent woman, I’ve managed to live an adult life by myself which has comprised of moving away from home, living on my own, commuting and travelling further afield solo, and generally taking care of myself, by myself. Now, however, it seems that I can’t do anything without a question or an opinion or somebody wanting to do it for me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s lovely for people to be so caring and to offer to help with things but sometimes it just makes me feel really inadequate and incapable when people think I can’t do the most basic things for myself. And honestly, it’s a little embarrassing as I feel like a bit of a fraud that doesn’t really need the assistance as much as many other people do. I never thought I’d miss being an invisible member of society, going about my business as I please, without anyone fussing over me.

I’m sure there will be many more things I’ll grow to miss as the next few months roll on, but these are certainly some of the things I hadn’t quite mentally prepared for. At least Kopparberg have a decent alcohol-free range, meaning there’s one less thing I’ll have to go without until October!
food

Top 5 Pregnancy Snacks

Touch wood, and all sorts of other superstitious stuff, I haven’t found myself fall victim to any weird pregnancy cravings – yet! However, in a bid to keep a balanced diet which is both healthy for baby and works for my IBS, I’ve found myself making some different and delicious snacks to keep me going throughout the day.

Celery and peanut butter

I love how crunchy celery is, and that it contains virtually 0 calories. But that’s not so great for baby. So, paired with peanut butter, not only am I packing protein into my snacking, I’m also getting one of my 5 a day. Plus, peanut butter makes anything taste great.

Crackers and cheese

Of course, you have to be careful what cheese you pair your crackers with here. I’m not fancy ,so cheddar and is fine with me, if not some creamy Philadelphia. The cheese contains a decent dose of calcium which is much-needed, and if you pair it with wholewheat or seeded crackers, you can get added fibre into your diet.

Fruit and yogurt

Not one for rocking the boat, the most adventurous I previously got with yogurts were Muller corners, or those ones with the fruit compote at the bottom. Now, just try stopping me from mixing it up! Greek yogurt is packed with protein, and can be mixed with pretty much any fruit to suit your preference. My favourites switch between strawberries, mango, pineapple or banana.

Grapes and dark chocolate

If, like me, you have a sweet tooth, chocolate is hard to resist. Dark chocolate is one of the lesser of all evils in terms of fat, milk and calorie content, but is still best enjoyed in moderation! To get my choco-fix, I have a few squares paired with a stalk of grapes, keeping me full whilst also squeezing another of my five-a-day in there!

Raw fruit bars

My go-to snack from Aldi at the moment is their raw fruit bars which come in a variety of flavours. Admittedly, they look as if they may be aimed at kids, but that doesn’t stop them from being delicious! Raw fruit bars come in packs of 5 (you can get individual bars at the till-points) and I’ve found them to be a handy snack to pop in your handbag if you’re on-the-go. Bonus points – they are a liquid-free yet healthy snack, so you can take them on the plane too!

my pregnancy

Unplanned and unprepared

I never thought I was really old enough to have kids. It was always something I thought would happen one day, when I ‘grew up’ or something. Timing wasn’t an issue, and both myself and other half were happy living together and working to pay for our travels to exciting new destinations.

At 28, I’ve come across my fair share of babies in the last few years, with family members and friends all creating their own tiny little miracles. Despite lots of my friends settling down and starting families, it was never something that really phased me or made me feel tingly inside. There was no ticking body clock, no ovaries weeping, and no pressing rush to follow suit – not that I was averse to the idea. I just wasn’t finished taking care of myself yet, never mind understanding how to completely take care of another human.

So that’s why it came as a major surprise to find myself pregnant, with seemingly no warning signs. Sure, there are some doubters who will question ‘how could you not know?’ and if you’d asked me six months ago, I’d probably think the same thing. But when you’re a millenial who is constantly on-the-go, it’s not always easy to keep track of periods. Couple this with having notoriously irregular periods, which document anywhere between 15 and 60 days between bleeds (I use the Period Tracker app), a continuously changing contraceptive pattern, IBS to contend with and a foot operation to prepare for, and it’s easy to see why the days would slip by without thinking about whether or not I should be bleeding.

Though it should go without saying, I don’t feel like I’m a blameless party that ended up helplessly pregnant. The circumstances weren’t perfect, but I’m an adult and understand that it not only takes two to tango, but also that things like contraception aren’t 100% perfect. Sometimes your body can do things you didn’t know it was capable of – something I’m sure I’ll constantly be saying to myself as the next few months roll on.

I do, however, feel a bit cheated. As a naive party to this stranger making itself comfortable in my womb, I feel like I’ve missed out on so much that most expectant mothers get to feel and share. There was no planning, no excitement at the thought of a missed period, no party after the pee-stick displayed a positive, no reading the notes and following the rules and making changes to prepare my body for the sheer miracle about to unfold.

Instead, the first few weeks of what must have been my pregnancy were filled with going to work, taking exercise classes, going out and drinking. Basically, nothing different to the last 10 years of my life – with the exception of a stomach bug, which in hindsight could have been one of the shortest experiences of morning sickness ever known. Whilst many mothers may care to tell me to count my blessings, that I’ve had an easy ride and to enjoy feeling this good, I can’t help but think of the lifestlye changes I could have made, had I realised I was pregnant sooner.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and I know I can’t change the past, but I wish I’d had more time to prepare for the future. With over 18 weeks already under my belt, there’s not much time for me and the boy to get used to becoming a three – both in the emotional sense and the physical sense. I find myself waking up at night panicking about car seats and nursery furniture and whether I remembered to take a vitamin or not that day. It’s all really overwhelming, and something I’ll probably never get over until bump makes an appearance but hopefully writing my feelings and experiences can make a little bit of difference.