weekly menu + health update

 

Last week…

I’m feeling pretty good this week, as after struggling for a while I found it very easy to get back on track.  I’ve had a week where moderation has been the name of the game.  Having said that, I’m 37 weeks pregnant and not on an out-&-out weight loss mission, so the form of moderation I’m taking right now is just to minimise the number of indulgences but not exactly the content of them!  So I went out on a lunch date with some of my friends on Friday where I temporarily appeased my one and only pregnancy craving (burgers…*drool*), and Hubs talked me into a curry last night (he’d been breaking his back in the garden all weekend and my SlimmingWorld-friendly syn-free lasagna just wasn’t going to cut it).  At the moment I’m ok with one or two little discrepancies!

I got good results too – a 1lb loss at SlimmingWorld on Thursday which it looks like I’ve maintained over the weekend so I don’t feel too shabby.  Ideally I’d like to avoid any massive gains from here on out, but I’m keeping an open mind as I’ve never watched my weight during pregnancy before and have no idea what the next few weeks could bring!

I did make the SlimmingWorld oat cookies (recipe by Kate @ WitWitWoo) as my evening snack, and I’ll have to be honest about them – Millies Cookies they ain’t.  But of course they aren’t.  They simply fill a hole, that hole being my need to nibble something whilst I watch the telly at night.  We have some sugar-free syrups for coffee and I’m tempted to try adding a few teaspoons of that to the mix to see if that makes them a bit more interesting.

 

This week…

It’s my birthday on Thursday, so I’m hoping to get out for a meal to celebrate.  We’re very lucky that the town we live in is a bit of a foodie haven.  I’m torn between the tiny artisan place where the chef is so passionate and creates his menus based on what he has in that day, the tapas restaurant with the huge selection, or the lush bistro restaurant which was the catalyst for all the other high-end restaurants to open up in our town.  Decisions, decisions.

Other eating-out-of-the-norm situations this week are lunch in a primary school canteen, and a buffet at a christening.   The school lunch is part of our youngest’s primary school induction and we’re basically at the mercy of the dinner ladies, and buffets (or any sort of free-for-all eating) are my kryponite.  Oh, and then there is a cake-based send off planned on Wednesday at work to see me off on maternity leave!  What did I say about wanting to avoid massive gains?!

I just need to make sure the meals in between keep me on plan, so what’s on the rest of our dinner menu this week…?

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worried about my baby

 

Lying in bed I hear the feet clattering down the stairs, a small elephant tripping over itself. A moment of hesitation. And then there at the door, with five cuddly dogs clutched to his chest, is my baby. All four years, eight months and about-to-start-school of him. He gives me a tentative grin with one eyebrow raised – is it time to wake up? He knows it isn’t, his clock tells him so, but I’m awake anyway and can’t resist his mussed up jammies and bedhead. My tiny nod from me is all the permission he needs, before he and his pack of stuffed toys catapult on to the bed. He expertly finds his space between mummy and daddy and can’t contain his naughty laughter as he sticks his finger into poor, snoozing daddy’s ear. Warm and drowsy, I cuddle into his back as it judders with giggles. My heart sings at this perfect way to start the day…but then it breaks.

This little boy’s life is about to change in big ways. And it’s all our fault.

 

Life is currently coloured by the fact that in a few weeks I’ll be popping out a sprog.

We’re all very excited about our new baby’s up-coming arrival and, as I’m sure most of you know, as that magical due date approaches we’re all a bit distracted by tiny little clothes and worries about sleepless nights.

But underneath all the planning, prepping and daydreaming I’ve got this sense of yuck. It makes my stomach sink, my heart flop and my thoughts cloud over. I’ll watch my four year old grinning with glee or giggling away at something and feel suddenly very sick.

Sick with guilt.

This is not my second baby, it’s my third, but I didn’t struggle with feeling like this as I waited for our now four year old to join our family. My oldest son was ten when we finally got around to making him a sibling, and whether it was because he was older or because we knew that a brother was something he had wanted for a while, I approached the expansion of our family from a totally positive place. There was no guilt, only excitement.  But with the four year old, things are very different.

We are the centre of his world…

(…well, as long as grandma and grandpa aren’t around. And daddy is a smidge more central than mummy).  Our four year old thrives on our attention, is a constant presence no matter what we’re doing (even as I type this, Hubs is trying to replace some guttering whilst answering questions from his welly-wearing spectator), and lives confident in the knowledge that we are his. Rightly or wrongly, he is often the point around which everyone else orbits. Sure, some of the spoilt brat tendencies which come from that frustrate me. But I do love the self-assurance, articulateness and passion for life he exhibits, all of which I think come from having a family which are so interested in what he has to say or what he wants to do.

But soon he will be sharing that particular limelight with his new little brother

In the past few weeks my sense of guilt has been building and the worries are swirling in my head.  How will he interpret the sudden shift of attention from himself to the new baby?  How will his relationships change? Will his confidence take a knock?  So far he is very positive about becoming a big brother – he has moments of incredible tenderness towards my bump and has even chosen his brother’s name.  But will that blossoming love be enough to help him understand why mummy and daddy are suddenly too busy to play with him as much as usual, is it strong enough to grow even when he feels jealous?  I don’t know.

Of course, there are things we can do to help him.

We’re already talking a lot about how much work a new baby takes and what that means for us and him, and we’ve read books from the library about older siblings and new babies.  I’ve encouraged his sense of being a big boy, by asking him if he will help me look after his brother and talked about how sure I am that he can be so grown up and responsible.  We’ve looked back at videos and photos of him as a newborn and talked about how special that time was.  I’ve shown him the clothes which were his, and asked if he will let us use them for his brother.  We’ve talked about how he’ll feel sharing us with the new baby.

We’re going to keep his nursery hours the same over the summer, which at first felt counter intuitive (especially on a maternity pay wage!) as it pushes him out of the house.  But he loves nursery and that’s his routine, so I actually think having something he can rely on and which doesn’t change at the same time as the baby comes along will be good for him.  He starts school after the summer, which is another big change, but we are making a point of celebrating that with him, so he has something which is special and just about him.

Once the baby arrives, I’m going to ensure that he still gets time alone with both me and Hubs – we’ll protect his bedtime routine and make a point of at least weekly one-on-one activities which don’t include the baby.  But equally, we will be encouraging him to spend time with his new brother, as well as his older brother, to build that sense of family.  I’m hoping to keep things like housework, exercise and blogging to times where he is at nursery or asleep, so that when we are together the focus can be on fun as much as possible, even if that just means flicking through a book as I feed the baby or playing with his cars whilst his new brother has tummy time on the playmat.

I’m hopeful all of this will ease the transition and get us off to a positive start.

But that doesn’t stop me from those moments where I look at him and feel a panic rising.  Watching him dig in the garden with Hubs today, in his little blue rain mac with his face streaked with equal measures of dirt and grins, I sobbed into the washing up.  This chapter of our time with him is coming to an end, and I can’t shake the sense of guilt that we are going to turn his world upside down.

I’m sure I’m not the first mum to have felt this way, and maybe hormones are not helping.  But I never anticipated this emotion.  I can only hope he thrives in his new role as a big brother, as the middle child, and that we handle this transition well enough that he never questions the love around him or his own worth.  I guess the fact I’m even thinking about this means I will be mindful of it, and he has an incredible big brother to show him the way too.

Maybe I just need to find a way to swallow the guilt and embrace this next stage in his life right alongside him.

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little loves [ chocolat, person of interest + a baby shower ]

 

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve reflected on the things that have brought me joy, and I’m a bit late joining the party today but I wanted to take the chance. My blogging has been a little erratic whilst I finish up work and deal with late pregnancy tiredness, so I’m trying to make a point of writing when I have the time. God knows how erratic it will be once baby boy gets here!

I have three days left of work and then I’m on maternity leave. The midwife came out to our house yesterday to assess the place for our home birth. We’ve unpacked and washed all the clothes, nappies, bedding, steriliser and travel system. Things are getting real, but I’m actually feeling all the calmer for it.

It’s nice to take this chance to reflect on things other than baby and pregnancy though – as you can tell from my last few posts I seem to have a one track mind right now but there actually are other things going on too!

Read…

…Chocolat by Joanne Harris.  Oh, I loved this!  It’s been sitting on my shelf for years, since I saw the film.  I kept putting it off as I’m sure someone somewhere had said it was a difficult read.  I don’t know what they meant by that, as I didn’t find the writing or the subject difficult at all!  It was delicious – funny, captivating, thought provoking and was the literary equivalent of unwrapping and biting into one of the luxury chocolates straight off the pages.  The characters are all so rich, from the self-important and vile priest right down to the imaginary friend rabbit of little Anouk, and I loved the themes of friendship, inclusiveness and questioning of what really is good and evil.

I’ve also read a few blog posts about the BiB awards…which as a newbie blogger seems a million miles removed from what I’m doing.  But it looks exciting, so you never know maybe this time next year I’ll have enough experience to throw my hat in the ring.  If the reaction to my post about what I’ve learned about blogging so far is anything to go by, I’m learning things all the time.  I wish the best of luck to anyone who’s canvasing for votes just now (and to anyone trying to narrow down their favourite bloggers)!

 

Watched…

The last ever Person of Interest *sob*  Hubs and I have watched this since the beginning, and for me it’s never had a slow season.  I love the episode stories, where the team save people identified by a Big Brother-style surveillance machine, and also the overreaching storyline of the team who fight to protect the machine and carry out it’s missions.  There’s some really great female characters in it, which you don’t often see…I was obsessed with Root!  I’ll really miss the show.

I’ve also found myself sucked into One Born Every Minute for the first time in years.  Hubs knows to stay away when I’m watching, as I spend half the time shouting at the telly and the other half blubbing!

 

Heard…

Honestly, I think I’ve found a new addiction – adding music to my birth playlist!  79 songs and counting, which is silly because at the speed I pop my babies out I’ll never get to listen to all the tracks.  But I’m determined that this will be the labour which I finally get to listen to my music. My first was in a hospital and the CD player was broken, my second was so rushed that music didn’t feature, so this time I’m hitting play at the first hint of a twinge.

I’ve also been listening to my hypnobirthing sessions…when I remember.  I need to get more regular with that!

 

 

Wore

I notice I’ve verged back into pregnant/baby territory again…clearly my mind can’t be distracted for long!  But this week I wore a mum-to-be sash, as my wonderful girl tribe threw me a surprise baby shower!  And it really was a surprise – we arrived home from taking the four year old to a party and standing at the front door were my mum, MIL, step-daughter and eight of my friends…and I burst into tears!  Apparently it’s been planned since February, and even Hubs was in on it.  We had a great time eating cake and playing daft games (including a guess-what’s-in-the-nappy one which was pretty gross!), and it was just incredible to have most of my favourite women in the same room.  Some hadn’t met one another, so it was so special to introduce them.  It made me feel so blessed (sorry, can’t bring myself to hashtag).  It’s taken until my 30’s to find my little tribe, but it was worth the wait – I’m so lucky to have them all.

 

Made…

I struggle with this section every time!  I’ve not even cooked anything new this week, so I can’t claim that.  I have decided that one of my maternity leave projects will be to learn to bake, so hopefully I’ll have something to share here if the results aren’t too shameful.  I don’t know what it is about baking, but it’s something I’ve never mastered.  It’s like witchcraft!  But I’m determined to at least make a passable batch of brownies to win the approval of my boys.

 

…& Finally

I’m tempted to force Hubs to paint my toenails, as I can no longer reach my feet.  But after hearing my friend’s story about when her hubby painted hers in pregnancy (apparently it looked like he’d basically just dipped each toe straight into the pot of polish) I’m a bit scared.  Wish me luck (and pretty tootsies!).

 

 

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my birth plans [ part 2 ] – water birth

 

I recently posted about how I am planning on having a home birth this time around, and how I’d come to that decision after the slightly traumatic and quite public birth of my second baby in a car park.  I really enjoyed writing that post, and sharing the links to other bloggers I’d found who shared their home birth experiences.  So I wanted to write some more, this time about my hopes to birth (or at least labour) in water.

 

We finally got round to trying out our birth pool

This has been niggling at the back of my mind for a while now, as we had no idea how long it would take to set up, whether the hose would be long enough to fill it up from the bathroom if it was set up in the living room, and whether attachments we had all worked.  Thankfully it inflated fine, and the hose was plenty long enough.

We didn’t try filling it, as at the time I felt pretty confident – we have a great combi boiler which I’m sure will be up to the task, and calculated time based on filling the bath.  But now the nerves are kicking in and I’m thinking we should do a full trial run…I can’t wait to see Hubs’ face when I make that suggestion!  I did see someone else mention that it’s a good excuse to chill out in it with a Netflix binge, so that might convince him.

 

Why we bought a pool rather than hiring one

Our pool kind of fell into our laps – after making my wish for a home birth known, the midwife encouraged me to look at buying rather than hiring a pool.  She said there wasn’t a lot of difference in the cost, so I did some research and for some of the models she had a point.

I’d decided to go for the Birth Pool In A Box, based on reviews and the fact it came with everything you need, when Hubs spotted someone selling the exact same one at half the price on Facebook.  It had never been used, as the previous owner had bought it thinking she could have a VBAC at home only to find out this wasn’t the case.

It looks like a great bit of kit, with support handles and even a seat, so I’m excited to use it when the big day comes.  I can’t believe we were able to buy one cheap in our local area.  I’m not spiritual or superstitious, but it isn’t often you see something like that being sold on Facebook – that’s got to be a good omen.  It’s a lot bigger than I expected – when it was blown up the four year old was running around shouting “we’ve got a swimming pool!!”

 

Why a water birth?

To help me be active in labour…

I’ve already blogged about why I love swimming during pregnancy, and a big part of that is the freedom of movement and lightness being in the water gives me.  Being active during labour is so important, both to encourage your baby to get into the best position for a smooth birth as well as for your own comfort and sense of control.  Water helps you to change your position easily, because you don’t feel like a ten ton weight!  But it also helps you stay in positions like all fours or upright longer than you could otherwise, because of the support it gives you.

Being able to chose your position or move when your body tells you to is so empowering.   I was induced with my first baby, and as a result I spent my labour lying on my back in a bed, strapped to monitors.  It wasn’t an awful experience, but I definitely felt very much as if labour was something I had no control over.

I also think that being stuck in the bed meant I needed more pain relief and spent a longer time pushing.  There is loads of research that backs that up too*.  With my second baby, although our long journey to hospital meant he was born before we got there, before things went cray-cray I felt much more in control and part of the process.  That was maybe why I was able to labour to the pushing stage before needing to head to hospital – I didn’t feel desperate for pain relief.  It’s probably also why he was born so quickly, because he was in such a perfect position that nothing could stop him!

To help me chill the hell out…

Of course, you can be active in labour without a birth pool, so I want it for more than that.  For me warm, deep water is magical when it comes to relieving stress, tension and pain.  I’m actually more of a shower than a bath type of girl normally, but I know that when I sink into warm water something special happens.  As I’m also hoping to use hypnobirth techniques during labour, it makes sense to me that water would be the most peaceful and relaxing place to be.

To give my baby a gentle welcome…

I love the idea of my baby being born in water, it seems like a smoother transition into the world.  I always think it must be a bit of a shock to the system for babies, coming from the warm and muffled world they’ve known for nine months into the cool air and noise of the room (or car park) they’re born in.  Water births always seem a bit gentler, especially if the baby is brought up calmly and their body is kept in the water for some skin-to-skin right away.  Neither of my previous babies were delivered on to my chest and both were taken away before I held them (one because he was unresponsive thanks to diamorphine, and the other because we were in a cold car park), so I’d like to be the one to guide this baby gently up for snuggles and to be with him right from the start.

 

Water birth blogs

I said last time that I love reading other people’s birth stories, and like last time I want to share the ones I came across that touched me.  There seem to be less blogs with waterbirth stories in them, but these three are lovely.

Autumn’s Mummy – my waterbirth story

The Double Mamma – the beautiful birth of Ailbe Fox

My Tales from The Crib – my journey to motherhood: my water baby

 

Did you have a water birth?  I’d love to hear about it!  Or if you know of any other bloggers who have shared their stories, please let me know.

 

 

* The Royal College of Midwives summerise it all well in their Positions for Labour and Birth guidelines
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my pregnancy at 35 weeks

So that’s me crossed off the 35th week of pregnancy, and with just a week and a half left of work it’s getting really exciting to think that this little man is nearly here.

I arrived home on Saturday, after taking our 4 year old to a birthday party, to find all my lovely girlfriends standing waiting for me on the driveway.  They’d only gone and thrown me a surprise baby shower!!  And it really was a surprise – I’ve never had one before, and everyone had kept it really secret.  Even Hubs, who let me have a bit of a bratty (I blame the hormones) moan earlier in the week after the green eyed monster bit me – another friend is having a shower thrown for her in a few weeks and I was feeling left out.  Little did I know they’d been planning mine since February!

We played some games, ate a lot of food and just spent a few hours chatting.  It was lovely to have all my favourite people in one room, as some of my friends hadn’t met one another and I got to introduce them to my step-daughter, mum-in-law and my mum.  I was so touched at the effort made, and I was reminded just how lucky I am to know such a wonderful group of women.

That’s a nice head-space to be in as I drag myself through the last few weeks of pregnancy.  So how have things progressed since I last updated at 30 weeks?

Body at 35 weeks

  • I swing from thinking I’ve not grown much, to feeling bloody enormous!  My H&M maternity trousers are uncomfortable around my bump now and leave an unflattering muffin-top look halfway up, and I certainly feel heavier when trying to get comfy in bed or on the sofa!  But when I look down, or when I’m in my workout gear, I don’t see a big change.  I’m still “all bump” and can still see my waist, which is a new thing for me because I usually just swell out in all directions!
  • I’ve put on 5.5lbs since 30 weeks, and I’m hoping most of that is baby…but I have a feeling that’s wishful thinking!
  • I’m still pretty symptom-free, but I did have one episode of heartburn that I literally thought was going to kill me from the oesophagus out.  It woke me up and left me coughing and struggling to breathe because the stinging and burning was so bad.  And I have the most wickedbad trapped wind, I’ve been in agony most nights this week…who knew a lost fart could cause so much pain?!

Mind at 35 weeks

  • In general I’m feeling pretty positive, though I could feel myself starting to get a bit defeated now that discomfort and pain are getting to me.  It was amazing to have the lift of the baby shower yesterday to catch me before I sank, and put me back on a positive wave length.
  • I do have a constant nagging feeling though.  We still have a lot of things to get ready, and at times I panic that this will be my first baby to come early and we’ll be caught off-guard!  But then I rationalise with myself that my babies always come late, so I do still have time to play with.  Hopefully this week I can get the essentials dealt with, and then have time to focus on getting myself prepared!
  • Our birth plans are coming together.  I already blogged about our plans for a home birth and hopefully will be blogging this week about our water birth plans too.  I’m doing a hypnobirth course, so that will probably get it’s own blog post as well!  I know plans don’t always come off the way you want (trust me, with one induction and one car park birth under my belt, I know), but I’m planning for the best case scenario this time around.  The midwife is coming out for a home visit this week to stake out our joint – fingers crossed my house keeping meets her approval!

Baby at 35 weeks

  • With a previous 9lb 7oz baby followed by his 8lb 1oz brother (and daddy being 9lbs 11oz!), a small baby was never on the cards.  I was sent for a growth scan last week, and we’re hovering around that 90th centile again.  I’m not that bothered with any of that though, as I’ve never heard of anyone whose growth scan got it right, and whatever his size it will be the right size for him, and that will be perfect.
  • We have one or two crazy busy periods of movement a day, with other ones in between.  He’s head down, but obviously spinning around on it like a breakdancer as at times he’s all limbs to the front, jabbing away at me.
  • Still no name.  Shortened long-list, but no finalists.

Fuel, Fitness & Rest

  • After keeping a good handle on my diet and weight gain between 17 and 30 weeks, I’ve really struggled recently.  I’ve not been motivated to keep a food diary, which always signals trouble.  I had a craving for a burger this week so had a big indulgent meal, and then there were a lot of cakes (still are, my house is full of them!) at the baby shower which I just didn’t control myself around.  And that’s just been this week.  I think I’m on track for another big gain, but I’ll make peace with that and just try to be more health-conscious in the weeks I have left.
  • My energy levels are pretty good though, even with my less than perfect nutrition.  I managed to stay up to 4am at a party a few weeks ago, though I don’t think that’s something I’ll be doing again!  But I don’t feel as tired as I did at the start of the 3rd trimester, so I’m enjoying it while it lasts.
  • I think a lot of this is because my sleep is still generally as good as it was before pregnancy.  I’m usually only up once for the loo, and getting back to sleep isn’t usually an issue either.  What a difference to my last pregnancy, and I owe it all to my body pillow.
  • I went to my last Clubbercise class at 29 weeks, so I’ve been swimming instead.  I’m also keeping up with my strength workouts and yoga too.  I’m finding them a little tougher, but besides struggling to motivate myself a bit I’m still pretty regular with my sessions.

 

So, ticking along nicely. And it makes me feel all warm inside to know that next time I do a recap like this…I’ll be on maternity leave!!

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weekly menu + health update

 

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve shared a meal plan…mainly because Hubs was working away and as the kids get fed by their grandparents when I’m at work I didn’t really have any motivation to cook just for myself.  I did make a plan last week, which we stuck to for the most part, but I do still feel that I’ve been way off track.

As a rule, I have the same thing for breakfast every day (either porridge or overnight oats made with water and fromage frais, or Grapenuts and almond milk, all with a banana chopped over the top), lunch is always leftovers from dinner the night before (or a salad with couscous and either mackerel or egg), and our dinners are always healthy.  So meals are not my sticking point.

It’s the eating between meals that scuppers me, and I  have struggled to keep myself on a healthy course these past few weeks.  Its been a combination of lack of planning, lack of motivation and just plain greed.  If there’s been food available, I’ve eaten it.  I was thrown a surprise baby shower this weekend too, and the amount of cakes we’ve been left with is crazy.  Sure, I could chuck them out…but I’ve been conditioned never to waste food and basically I want to eat them.

But I’ve seen the impact on the scales, and whilst I can kid myself on that it’s all baby weight I know deep down that I’ve probably gained more than the wee fella has!  This week needs to be one of focusing on moderation and giving my baby the food he really needs, rather than the goodies that mummy wants.  So I’m having a clear out this morning to get rid of any remaining tempting-but-unhelpful treats, and giving myself a stern talking to.  Snack-wise, I’m going back to my fruit and natural yogurt, and I’m going to have these SlimmingWorld oat cookies (recipe by Kate @ WitWitWoo) as my evening snack.  I made them a few weeks ago with some added spices, but I’m going to keep trying to tweak them.  I know they’ll never be the real biscuit deal, but if I can make them interesting enough to enjoy with a cuppa that’s fine by me!

So, what’s on our dinner menu this week?…

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what I’ve learned from my first two months of blogging

 

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog recently.  I’ve been trying to devote my spare time to practicing my hypnobirthing breathing and basically just trying to chill out. I’ll blog about that in full when I get round to part two of my birth plans (you can read part one, about why I want a homebirth, here), but I had to get back on here to soothe the nagging guilt about abandoning my blog.

I’ve mentioned previously that I gave blogging a go before, a few years back.  I gave up on it because I found myself struggling with feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy under the shade of the big hitters, the slick pro-bloggers, the celebs of the blogosphere.  It felt a bit pointless to continue something I’d only started as a way to keep my mind active during maternity leave, but which had grown arms and legs and schedules and social media pressure, and which was eating away at my confidence.  This time I’m trying to keep the fun in it and to maintain some perspective, and so thought I’d take this lull to reflect on what I’ve learned since I started this little scrap of the WWW back in March.

 

1.  I am a hobby blogger…and that’s ok

I came to blogging after having an online journal for over ten years.  My experience was sharing rants, anecdotes and the occasional low-res drunken photo with a small group of similarly angsty teenagers.  So I was a bit scared off when I saw that blogging had a professional sheen and competitive, stats-driven side that was all new to me.

I understand now that for many bloggers this isn’t just a creative outlet – it’s how they make their living.  But at the time I panicked, and felt much the same way as I had when as a kid I was accidentally put in a swim class beyond my ability (a mix up, I happened to share a name with a more advanced swimmer)  – out of my depth, scared stiff and nearly drowning.

Now I can appreciate that I was a bit like a middle aged cyclist on a council cycle path trying to compare myself to a young Olympian in a fancy velodrome – similar sport, but vastly different levels of talent, time and equipment!  And you know what?  I’d look shit in one of those lycra suits anyway, so I’m quite happy to trundle along, avoiding the potholes with the other amateurs.

 

2.  There is more than one type of blogger

Hand in hand with the above is that this time around I’m more aware that there are many different types of bloggers. I’ve been heartened finding those who do what they do just…because.  Don’t get me wrong, I love reading blogs by those who collaborate with big organisations and who are practically brands in their own right.  But I’m balancing the pro-bloggers with the hobbyists this time around.

 

3.  Even novice bloggers need a plan

Or maybe that’s just heavily pregnant scatterbrains like me!  But its so easy for me to let days pass me by – I get in tired from work, collapse on the sofa after dinner and ooops…blogging time is over before I’ve even touched the keyboard.  But I’m a stickler for a to-do list, and a plan will help me get new content up on a regular basis.  I need to make blogging routine – nothing too regimented or busy, given that I will soon have a newborn to contend with, but enough to kick me up the arse when I’m tempted by another evening vegetating in front of a box set.

 

4.  Write first, read later

This has two meanings.  My first is when putting together a post – I need to stop editing as I write!  It can take me forever to write a post if I’m constantly tweaking and re-reading (I know, right?  This crap I put up is actually the polished version…you don’t want to see the mess it starts as).  I need to train myself to get the words down first, and worry about prettying them up afterwards.

The second meaning is to get my own blog posts written before I lose myself in reading other blogs.  I’m such a fan of other bloggers that I can be distracted from my own writing by a single intriguing  tweet, fall down the rabbit hole and emerge bleary eyed with my bed calling, having read ten other blog posts but with only my own blank post editor to show for it.

 

5.  But always read…and comment

I’m not the most savvy networker, and building relationships with other bloggers is something I’ve just not mastered.  But reading and commenting on other blogs has helped me feel more like part of the community, and I like to think/hope that some of those bloggers will head over here too.  I know how good I feel if someone comments on my blog, so I like to make sure I’m spreading some of that love and positivity myself.  Hopefully in time that will lead to some friendships, and maybe even some readers.

 

6.  Social media is a WTF

I don’t know if I will ever crack the beast that is social media.  Twitter is like a bunch of people shouting into a void, I only realise a moment was Instagram-worthy once it’s passed me by, and I don’t even know what a Snapchat is.  I’ve been putting pressure on myself to jump into the rapids of social media, but it’s like that swimming lesson all over again.  So I think for now, I’ll just stick to working on my blog and joining in with linkies.

Speaking of which…

 

7.  I love linkies

Whilst its clear that not everyone plays fair, linkies have been by far the best way for me to get my posts noticed.  And also to feed my blog reading addiction, but that’s maybe not always a good thing (see #4).  Some linkies are better than others for people reading and commenting, and I think those will be the ones I focus on to help get me established.

 

8.  My blog is already evolving

I started this as a place to chart my health efforts, but already I’ve found that I can’t talk about health without talking about my pregnancy.  And I’m actually enjoying bringing my role as a mother into my blog.  I think it’s way too early to try to force myself into a niche…maybe I wont ever have one.  And I’m not going to avoid certain topics just because they don’t fit.

 

9.  I need to take more photos

And to use this as an opportunity to really get to grips with what my camera can do.  There’s nothing worse than delaying a post because I don’t have an image to go with it, and using stock pictures makes me feel like I’m cheating a bit!  I’m going to be realistic, I’m probably never going to have the beautiful sorts of images I drool over on other blogs and a flat lay sounds more like a crap shag than something I could carry off, but I’m going to have fun trying.

 

10.  I’m excited about what the next few months will bring

Ok, so there will be a new baby in that time, which is the most exciting thing ever.  But blog-wise, I’m just curious to see what I can make of this place.  Hopefully I can get some more readers, and start to feel more comfortable and confident about what I’m doing here!

 

 

Help a girl out – do you have any tips for a newbie like me?  Or maybe you could just lend me some moral support by following me on Twitter or Bloglovin’ – who knows, your blog could be my next addiction!

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my birth plans [ part 1 ] – home birth

 

Things (finally) got underway in preparing for our little man’s arrival this weekend.  I’m due in six weeks so it’s high time we got cracking, but because this will be boy number 3 and we kept everything from last time (and some things from the teenager’s baby days too!), we’ve got a bit too relaxed about things.  I always go overdue, so it feels like we have so little to do and so much time.

But this weekend, a smidgen of nesting must have taken hold.  I blame it on the fact we spent most of Saturday volunteering at the nursery, helping them to refresh the gardens.  Painting fences and murals to get the place looking good for the summer clearly set off some sort of chain reaction in my head.  I came home and sorted our mountain of baby clothes into sizes, washed the 0-3 month stuff and went to town with the stain remover on the white items.  We dug out the cot, Moses basket and carry cot so we can get new mattresses ordered too.  I just need to clean the pram and car seat, and figure out how to work our new Perfect Prep machine…and then I think we’ll be pretty much good to go.

 

Looking forward to birth

With getting things ready, my mind has turned to the birth.  Ok, who am I kidding – I’ve been thinking about the birth for a while!  But things are getting real now, and I thought I’d do a few blog posts in the coming weeks about what our plans are.  I had swithered about telling people, either in real life or on the blog, as I’m conscious that plans change.  But I’m getting more confident about saying that we’re hoping for a water birth at home this time around, and I have an urge to write about it.  So this is part one, about why I want to birth at home.

 

Wanting a home birth doesn’t make me a crazy, placenta-eating hippie

(no offence if you ate/buried/painted with yours)

Reactions of those I’ve told that I’m planning a home birth have been mixed.  Actually, most people have been very positive.  But there are some who had a sharp intake of breath, pulled a face or made some sort of rather-you-than-me comment.  I suppose I can understand where they’re coming from – what with the only representation of a home birth you’re likely to see on tv being in a Call the Midwife 1950’s slum or as part of some shock-tactic documentary about women who are more interested in their placenta than their baby, a lot of people don’t have a reference point.  Rates are still low, sitting at around 3% of all births, so not many people will know someone who has done it.

But I’m hoping to be one of them.  And my placenta can go in the bin, for all I care.

 

A home birth wasn’t something I had considered until this pregnancy.

I was induced with the teenager so had him in hospital, and when we were having our four year old I was quite happy to deliver at the local birthing unit.  I don’t have anything against hospitals or birthing units, our old house was too tiny, we have a highly strung dog and I couldn’t be bothered with organising things, so a home birth just wasn’t on my radar.  All I wanted for my birth with my four year old was a relaxed atmosphere, hopefully a water birth and to use only the minimum of pain relief.  The where wasn’t really an issue.

That was, until the where became an issue, and left me with a birth experience that took me a long while to process and make peace with.

 

My last birth experience took me while to get over

At a routine appointment in my last pregnancy, the midwife thought she heard a missed beat in my baby’s heart rate, and without even seeing me to assess it themselves the powers that be medical staff decided I could no longer deliver at the birthing unit.  I would have to travel to the nearest hospital 35 minutes away, and when my labour started it became apparent how long 35 minutes in a car can really feel.

I went into labour naturally, and spent the day quite happily pottering about at home with intermittent contractions.  Unfortunately, my mum turned up at about 4pm and nagged me into going to the hospital before the rush hour traffic got too bad.  As I knew would happen, come 7pm I was on my way home having been sent away as my labour wasn’t established.  I was cautious about making another wasted and uncomfortable trip only to be sent away again, so I held out at home…

We were caught off-guard by how fast things progressed and just a few hours later Hubs had to bundle me into the car as I started to push.  We didn’t make it to the hospital.  After a panicked drive where I fought every contraction and urge to push, my baby was born in the car park while smokers standing at the entrance watched on.

For a long time afterwards I would wake up in the middle of the night in a panic thinking I was still in the car.   I’d then then lie awake and pick apart all the things I felt I’d done wrong – I didn’t fight my corner to deliver at the birthing unit, I stayed at home too long, I didn’t trust my own judgement, maybe we should have called an ambulance.  I blamed my mum for nagging me to go to the hospital too soon, I blamed the medical staff for their decision (they took a 2 minute look at my baby after he was born and said his heart was fine), but most of all I blamed myself.  Hello post-natal depression.

 

Why I want a home birth this time

Well, I think that’s kind of obvious – to feel relaxed and in control, to avoid any time in the bloody car, and to have some privacy to birth in.  I just want to concentrate on bringing my baby into the world with as few distractions and worries as possible, and for me that means being in my favourite place.

I am a “low risk” mum – no health conditions and no pregnancy complications which could pose an issue, and with two quick and straightforward births to my name already.  I’m healthy and confident in my body’s ability to give birth naturally and with minimal pain relief.  This all means that for me, home is just as safe (if not more so) than a hospital setting for welcoming my baby into the world.

Being at home also means I’m guaranteed a water birth or at least use of a pool in labour, without the risk of someone else getting in before me, as we have bought our own (I’ll talk more about that in part 2).  It means I can eat and drink if and when I want.  It means I can have candles and my oil burner to create the atmosphere I want, with my own comforts around me.  It also means that after the birth, Hubs wont have to disappear home and I wont have to spend a night in an alien environment.  It means being somewhere where I feel I can have my say and make my own decisions.  And I wont be freaking out about delivering my baby by the side of the road.

 

Home birth blogs

Although every birth is different, I  love to read about other women’s experiences and I’ve been really enjoying all the bloggers out there who have shared theirs.   So to finish off, I thought I’d link to my favourites in case anyone else wanted a read.

Rock My Family – a calming home birth

Gas & Air Blog – home birth stories (especially Annalise’s story)

Making Luna – birth story

Monkey & Mouse – birth story

 

Have you had a home birth – what was your experience?  If you know of any good blogs to read about babies who were born at home, I’d love it if you could share in the comments!

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little loves [ oitnb, earworms + microsoft band ]

 

 

Oh Friday, here you are!  You’ve taken your time getting here this week, I’m knackered!  Maybe that’s the fault of the ridiculously late night I had on Saturday celebrating a friend’s birthday (who knew you could party until gone 3am, stone cold sober and 32 weeks pregnant?!), or the fact I had four days in the office dealing with frustrations, or because Hubs has been away for work all week, but I’m glad the weekend is nearly here.  The only thing we have planned is helping out at the nursery to tidy up the garden (to be fair, I don’t think I’ll be getting my hands as dirty this year), so I plan on doing a whole lot of chilling out.

But before then, I want to celebrate the little things that have helped me get through the week…

Read…

…The Weekenders: Travels in the Heart of Africa – a collection of writing about Sudan published back in 2001 when a group of authors and journalists visited the war-torn south of the country.  They then wrote inspired by their time there and published it to raise funds and awareness.  I’m not sure I can say this book has taught me anything more about the political side of the conflict, which still wages on even now, but to be honest I’m more interested in the human aspect and I feel this book has struck a note in that respect.  I’ve never read a short story or writing collection – especially when it’s been written by a number of different authors – and been blown away by every single piece…but to be honest I’ve not really been all that excited reading any of the pieces in this book.  It started off on a high note with Alex Garland’s very short story, but other than that it’s been a bit bland.  I think its mission is stronger than its individual components, which I suppose is fine in a charity effort, but it’s not going to end up on my favourites shelf!  I’m still glad I read it though, as I feel it taught me something.

 

Watched…

Hubs and I have a lot of series that we watch together, and I don’t have many that I watch on my own as our tastes are pretty similar, but I’ve enjoyed having control of the tv this week!  Orange Is The New Black is a show Hubs just wasn’t interested in (although I think he’s kicking himself now that he’s seen the odd bit!).  So I took advantage of having the telly to myself and finished season three this week, which I know means I’m at least two years behind everyone else, but that’s nothing new!  I love OITNB, it’s so funny but it tackles some really important issues.  And, y’know…Alex Voss #girlcrush.

 

Heard…

I’ve been in the office a lot this week, and when I am I treat myself to a cappuccino from our café.  But with that, I run the gauntlet of the dreaded earworm.  God love ’em, I think the women who work in the café are wonderful…but their taste in music is fucking horrific.  I come away from the counter clutching my yummy caffeine hit (don’t judge, one hit a day is my only pregnancy vice), but invariably with a 70’s disco classic lodged in my brain.  This week’s highlight low point has been Yes Sir I Can Boogie

 

Wore

My wardrobe is very limited by pregnancy, but for the party over the weekend I wore a denim-look maternity dress I bought from Asda way before I even started showing.  I’ve only worn it a handful of times – I bought it for work but it creases in quite unflattering ways which made it look a bit scruffy.  But in the dimmed lights it was fine, and I got a lot of compliments from my friends which is always nice!

 

Made…

I always struggle here, with food being the only thing I really make…and I’ve not even done that this week!  With Hubs being away and the kids always being fed by their grandparents when I’m in the office, I didn’t really have incentive to cook.  I was just going to have eggs every night, but my mum has insisted on feeding me instead.  So I suppose you could say I’ve made appreciative noises?!  It’s always nice when someone cooks for you.

 

…& Finally

Clearing out my storage at work in preparation for maternity leave (four weeks to go!), I found the charger for my Microsoft Band.  I’ve been looking for that ruddy thing for ages!  After fighting with it to connect to my new phone, it’s now strapped back on to my wrist…and I’ve been appalled at how inactive I am during the day.  Although I’ve kept up my exercise during this pregnancy, I’ve been moving less during the day as walking is really uncomfortable.  Not much I can do about that now, but I’ll be interested to see how my stats change once I’m out walking with the pram every day!

 

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thai salmon with jasmine rice [ recipe ]

 

Meal Plan

For the first week in forever, I don’t have a meal plan this week.  I don’t cook for the kids when I’m working – it would be too late for them by the time I get dinner on the table, and the grandparents like to feed them – so I usually just cook for Hubs and I during the week.  But Hubs is working away, and when it’s just me I really can’t be bothered making the effort.  I have leftovers in the freezer, eggs in the fridge and a mum who is always desperate to feed me, so I’m not doing much worth mentioning this week.  I also never made the shepherds pie I had planned for this weekend, so that covers Saturday, and my in-laws can’t make it for Sunday dinner so I’ll probably just decide on the day what to make.  Lunches will be salads as I wont have leftovers to take, and I’ve scored some peanut Nakd bars for my evening treats.

Recipe

When I linked up to #MealPlanningMonday last week, there was some interest in the Thai salmon I’d picked as one of our dishes. I thought I would share the recipe here, as it’s a real favourite with us.  It’s really delicious and sounds quite impressive, but it’s quick and simple and can be done in one pot in less than half an hour!

I’ve been making this one for years, so I don’t even know where it came from and I’ve tweaked it a bit over time.  The flavour really comes from the spice, so you can judge for yourself how much you want to add.  If you can’t find Thai 7 Spice, I would guess Chinese 5 Spice would work well (although it would totally change the dish).

So, on with the recipe…

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