the good, bad + ugly of parenting a teenager

 

This week, my first baby turned 15.  This sparks in me a domino run of cliche-but-true observations – those 15 years have flown by, parenting doesn’t necessarily get easier it just changes, and teenage boys really do sleep/smell/grunt a lot.  But how do I mark this occasion here on my blog?  I could write a post to him, but he’d never read it.  I could write a post about him, but I think he’d find that pretty cringe-worthy.  So I figured I’d reflect on what being a mum to a teenager has been like so far – the good, the bad and the ugly.

 

Raising a teen – the good

  • Seeing all our efforts pay off.  Of course we’re all proud of our kids and they make us proud in different ways at different times – the first time they write their name, or the first time they swim without arm bands.  But the teen years is where you see your efforts in encouraging, supporting and building your kids up really start to come to something.  All kids break away from the pack in one area or another, to achieve something that not everyone else can, to show a real talent for something.  For us, it’s his academic achievements and his competitive swimming success, both of which he makes look easy but which are far beyond anything I could have managed at his age.
  • Sharing music and book recommendations, and (if you’re lucky and your kid has taste) actually finding common ground to bond over.
  • Watching our child grow out of being, well…a child.  Of course it is heart wrenching to say goodbye to those days, but leaving behind childhood also means learning more about the person he will grow up to be.  And that is beyond exciting.  Seeing “when I grow up” fantasies turn into real interests and subject choices, sharing (slightly) adult humour and watching him get the joke, hearing his opinions on topics bigger than Minecraft…it’s pretty mindblowing.
  • The hugs.  They may be rare, but they mean that little bit more because I know there’s real emotion behind them.

Raising a teen – the bad

  • Seeing your child suffer and not being able to save them like you could when they were little.  I’m talking about bullying.  This has been a reality for my son for a large portion of high school so far, and I have felt pretty powerless to help him.  He doesn’t want me to get involved, and so I’ve done only what I could do from behind the scenes.  Ideally I’d like to set fire to the little shits who are doing this to him, but having been bullied myself I know that adult intervention is like a red rag to a bull. It hurts me every time the issue flares up, to see how it has impacted on his confidence and willingness to be sociable.  But I have to just guide him, reassure him, and make the school aware of things they can do to help him.
  • Worrying about how he’s going to cope with big issues – sex, smoking, alcohol, drugs.  We’re lucky just now as our teenager isn’t in with a crowd that hangs about, parties and tries to act older than they are.  But I know it’s only a matter of time before he is exposed, and although he’s fairly sensible I also know that on the surface that’s probably how I appeared at that age…and my decisions were anything but!
  • Think it hurts when your toddler tells you mid-tantrum that they don’t love you?  Try hearing something like that when your kid is old enough to understand the gravity of their words.  I’ve been lucky so far – I don’t think I’ve hit the milestone of being told I’m a bitch, but teenagers don’t always have a filter in the heat of the moment.

Raising a teen – the ugly

  • Still having to listen as he relays the fascinating intricate details of his latest Xbox game obsession.
  • Hearing the sound of my own voice, saying the same things on repeat.  You think it’s bad with a toddler?  Try chanting the following at least three times a day for the past five years – have you brushed your teeth, can you please sort your hair out, put your dirty laundry in the basket, for god sake can you please shut the door without slamming it, have you done your chores, have you done your homework, untie your shoes before you put them on.  I remain in constant hope that one day he will leave the house with all his responsibilities dealt with, looking presentable, without wrecking yet another pair of shoes and without slamming the door…all without me saying a word.
  • The bathroom after the three hour shower or midnight toilet trip…
  • Being demoted from fountain of knowledge to she-who-knows-nothing.  I realise that sometimes, when I talk a glaze comes over not just his eyes but his whole face. Our son has perfected the brick-wall look, where I know every word we say is just bouncing off without even being heard.  Apparently he  knows it all already.
  • Sometimes, the only sign he’s returned home is the dog sitting at the bottom of the stairs with an expectant wag of her tail.  Because apparently we don’t say “hi” anymore.

 

It’s not easy, parenting a teenager.  It’s a mindfuck, a stress and yet another one of those oh-so-wonderful learning curves of parenting. But it’s rewarding and hilarious and fascinating all at the same time.  No one gets it right, we all just stumble through, but the good points usually outweigh the bad and you can usually (eventually) laugh at the ugly points.  I’m excited what this second half of his teen years holds in store for my son, and for the rest of us!

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my pregnancy at 37 weeks

Week 37 is done and dusted!  I finished up for maternity leave in a cloud of cake and very generous gifts last week and the midwives go on call for my homebirth from tomorrow…the end is in sight!  But actually, I hope I’ve still got a little while to go yet, as I don’t feel ready for birth or for meeting our new little man just yet.

I’m sure this boy will be like his brothers and show up late, but a lot of people are convinced I’m going to go before my due date, so I’ve always said that as long as I get at least a week of maternity leave to put my feet up first, he can come whenever he wants.  But that’s me been on leave for nearly a week now, and I’ve not done any relaxing at all!  I went shopping with my mum all day for my birthday, spent a whole day waddling around the Ideal Homes exhibition on Saturday, we were out celebrating the christening of my friends’ beautiful little girl all day Sunday and yesterday I took the boys to a local farm where I went on a tractor ride (honestly thought my waters would burst) and walked through the woods looking for fairy doors.  In amongst that I’ve been doing housework and trying to nest, and today I need to get things ready for my oldest son’s birthday tomorrow.  I don’t see me chilling out until Friday, so this boy better stay put for the foreseeable!

Plus…I’m not sure I’m ready to let go of being pregnant.  This is our last baby (though my friend and I did get Hubs to agree to baby number 4 at the christening party…though I think that may have had more to do with the cheap bar than any serious commitment), and this pregnancy has been such a wonderful experience.  So as much as I want to meet our little wriggler, I’m not ready for this pregnancy to be over.

So how have things progressed since I last updated at 35 weeks?

Body at 37 weeks

  • I don’t feel I look very different to how I did a few weeks ago.  And people tell me mixed things too (“oh, you’ve dropped” or “you’re still carrying quite high” or “you’re still so neat” to “you can really see a difference this week”) so clearly I’m not the only one unsure.  But I feel different, especially if I’ve been on my feet for too long.
  • Weight wise, I’ve put on another 1.5lbs since 35 weeks.  That makes it a stone since I started being mindful about my weight at 18 weeks and probably 1.5 stone (21lbs) overall.  Hopefully at least 10lb of that is baby, fluid and placenta!
  • I’m still getting off fairly easy on the symptom side of things too – no real heartburn, no leg cramps, only very slight restless legs last thing at night sometimes.  Even the trapped wind which was really bothering me a few weeks ago has eased off.
  • I do hit a wall in the afternoon most days were I could definitely do with a nap…but that might have more to do with how busy I’ve been more than anything.

Mind at 37 weeks

  • It’s not a quiet, chilled out mind, that’s for sure!  Like I’ve mentioned, I don’t feel ready for this baby yet, and I think that’s a big part of it.  The house is a mess and I can’t seem to find the time or energy to fix that.  So instead I lie in bed worried that I’ll go into labour in a pig sty.  I know if I pull my finger out and get it done today I’ll be much happier tomorrow, but time just seems to run away.
  • My main feeling is one of sadness.  I’m sad that this pregnancy is nearly over and I’m little sad to think that for the four year old things are going to change quite a lot.  He will no longer be the baby, and I blogged about how that upsets me.
  • On a more positive note, I’m excited for the birth and confident in my ability to cope with it.  We’re all set for our home waterbirth, and a lot of that confidence comes from the Hypnobirthing course I’m doing, which I’m hoping to blog about this week.

Baby at 37 weeks

  • We have a name!  And it was chosen by our four year old.  What’s impressive is that it is neither dinosaur nor construction site related!
  • His moses basket is all ready for him, the cloth nappies are washed and waiting, and he has more clothes than he will ever have time to wear.
  • We’re still on track for a big chunky boy…but that was never in doubt.

Fuel, Fitness & Rest

  • I’m quite sad that at the final hurdle I’m really failing on the fitness and nutrition fronts.  I’ve made bad food choices for a few weeks now, and can’t seem to get myself back on track.  I’m feeling guilty about the amount of sugar I’ve been consuming and I’m worried that I’m letting myself down by not fuelling my body better.  I need to think of my upcoming labour and birth as a marathon – no runner would prepare for that by eating cake after cake in the last weeks before the race!
  • My motivation to workout seems to have disappeared.  I think that’s a symptom of feeling like I have so much to do, so I talk myself out of a workout and instead promise I’ll do some housework…and then neither gets done!  I’m cutting myself some slack in this respect, as I’ve been out and about so I’m not exactly inactive, but I had hoped to exercise right up to the birth so it’s annoying me on a personal level.
  • Sleep is still pretty great, mainly thanks to my pregnancy pillow.  So I can’t blame not sleeping on my lack of motivation.

 

Overall, things are still going great.  I think I’m just psyching myself out.  I’m hoping that the next couple of days will be all I need to get me back on track and get my house sorted out, and that I still get that week of chill-out time before baby boy decides to join us!

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why i meal plan + our weekly menu

 

I’m not doing a health update this week, as I’ve basically just eaten cake from Wednesday onwards.  I am so pregnant right now that I’m eating first and thinking second.  I’ve only managed one and a half workouts this week too, as the heat that kicked in towards the end of the week meant I had to abandon my efforts in a sweaty puddle.  Luckily, the sheer amount of calories I must be burning dragging my big ol’ bump around seems to be balancing things out and my weight has stayed fairly stable.

But I think another thing that has helped me is that although I’ve had more goodies than I should have had, my meal plan means that most of my lunches and dinners are consistently healthy.  Meal planning is like my anchor, my stabilisers, my compass.  Whilst I have the ability to go seriously off the rails when it comes to snacks and treats, because I’ve been using meal planning for longer than I can even remember it’s become an ingrained part of my life to have healthy meals built in.  It’s so ingrained that I’m actually surprised when I meet people who don’t meal plan.

 

Why I meal plan

I can’t sing the praises of meal planning enough, I try to convert everyone I meet.  It’s essential if you’re trying to lose or watch your weight, but even if you’re lucky enough to not need to focus on that there are still so many benefits to meal planning.

  • If you’re watching your weight, meal planning..
    • …helps you to think in advance of the healthy choices you will make that week
    • …means you are organised and prepared, and so less likely to reach for quick fixes like takeaways
    • …helps you identify what your syns/calories/points are being spent on, to help you make all the other choices around food you need to make
  • And even if your weight isn’t something you’re focused on, meal planning still…
    • …stops that “what’s for dinner” hassle at the end of each day
    • …helps you draw up a shopping list so you aren’t wandering aimlessly around the supermarket
    • …helps you stick to a food budget (if you stick to that shopping list!)
    • …reduces waste because you know exactly what you’re going to use
    • …encourages you to think about your meals, and maybe even try new things

 

This week…

Unlike last week this should be fairly quiet and a good chance to get my nutrition on track in the lead up to birth!  I’m taking the four year old (and maybe the teen, if he’s willing) to a local farm tomorrow so we may have lunch in the shop there.  I’ll try to go for something fairly wholesome…though I don’t know if I can resist the home baking!  We also have friends coming to help Hubs lay turf in the garden on Wednesday so there’s been talk of a takeaway – I’ll try to sway it towards a kebab so I can go for grilled chicken and lots of salad.  Other than that, I should be fairly on track, so what’s on the rest of our dinner menu this week…?

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sleeping like a baby when pregnant

It’s been a bit quiet on the blog this week.  All my energy was focused on dragging my very pregnant butt through the last few days of work.  But after a lovely cake-filled send off I’m ecstatic to report that I’m on maternity leave!!!  Such a great feeling.  No more work for ten whole months, and another milestone crossed off on the journey to meet our new little member of the family.  My homebirth kit was delivered today too…talk about things getting real. With maternity leave comes (hopefully) more time to write in here, at least until the little guy decides to put in an appearance.  So I better grasp the opportunity!

My blog has become something of a confession booth for me. First I was talking openly about my affair at 25 weeks pregnant, and now I’m going to tell you all about the other man in my bed.

Allow me to introduce you to…Pierre, my body pillow.


blissed out woman pictured isn’t me, this is a link to the pillow I bought :: Amazon Associates – not sponsored
Broken sleep is probably right up there with pregnancy woes like heartburn and morning sickness as something most of us find ourselves bitching about.  It’s so frustrating, as sleep is something we need and crave but can sometimes feel impossible to get.  In my previous pregnancies getting comfortable at night was like a military mission.  A slapstick military mission, with pillows wedged under all different parts of my body that needed to be readjusted every time I shifted position.  They were always moving about or falling off the bed and I had a lot of restless nights.

This time though, I think I’ve nailed the whole sleep thing.  It’s made a massive difference to how I’ve felt and how well I’ve kept through the whole pregnancy.  And I thank Pierre for that.

 

Why I bought a pregnancy pillow

Pierre was a bit of an impulse buy, as I was sceptical he’d be any better than my usual cocoon of cushions, especially when I saw the price of a lot of pregnancy and body pillows.  But I searched around and found some cheaper options with good reviews (I’ve linked above to the model I bought), and thought it was worth a punt.  We’d only just got our four year old to sleep through the night, so I thought I deserved at least a few months of proper rest before we started the sleepless nights all over again.

I remember when Pierre arrived, I was shocked at how big he was.  He really is like having another person in bed with us at night, which is why we felt we had to give him a name.  Thankfully, we have a huge bed so Hubs hasn’t been relegated to the spare room, but I think some reviews did mention poor partners being shunted to the sofa to make room!

Honestly though?  If I had to choose between Hubs and Pierre at the moment, Hubs would be on the sofa.  And I’d only feel a smidge of guilt.  Because even now at 37 weeks, the only time I wake during the night is for the obligatory pregnant-lady-bathroom-trip.  Then I slip back into Pierre’s arms (Hubs says it’s Pierre’s legs, but I’m not really down with picturing myself nestled into a gigantic crotch), and I’m straight back to sleep.

 

How I use my pregnancy pillow

I had to do some research, as I wasn’t sure what the best way to sleep was to avoid hurting my back, and I couldn’t quite figure out what to do with my arms!  But if my fling with Pierre has made you think that maybe you could do with a new man in your bed, let me share how I get comfortable.

  • Firstly, I lie on my side.  I know that sounds obvious, as there isn’t really any other way to lie once your bump grows, but lying on your side (specifically your left) is best for the blood flow around your body when you’re pregnant.
  • I rest my head on the curve of the u-shape (or as Hubs like to point out, Pierre’s crotch).  You’re meant to have your shoulder against the pillow and your head on top, like the girl in the picture. But I’ve put a light pillow in the gap to create a slope as I found it a bit too much of a step.
  • I wrap my arms around the arm/leg of the pillow and hug it to my chest.  One over and one under, otherwise it was a bit like that awkward issue when you spoon someone and don’t know what to do with your bottom arm.  Apparently hugging it is good for your upper back too.
  • I keep my legs fairly straight (not at right angles like the woman in the picture), but stick the pillow leg/arm between my knees to ease the pressure.  Another way is to keep my lower leg straight and just have my top leg at an almost right angle resting on the pillow.  I find too much of an angle puts pressure on my lower back.
  • I tuck the other pillow arm/leg snug into my back.  It stops me rolling back and feels so supportive.
  • When it comes to my bump, I actually don’t do anything.  I find all the rest of my positioning takes any pressure off it.  I do read that women wedge some of the pillow under their bump, but maybe my pillow is too firm or large, but it doesn’t fit under my bump.  If I try to wedge it underneath, it forces me on to my back a little and I don’t like it.  But different strokes for different folks…or different lumps for different bumps?!

 

I’m not a big one for gadgets and gimmicks, and so Pierre has been a pleasant surprise.  I would definitely recommend getting a pregnancy pillow if you’re having trouble getting comfortable, as a crappy night’s sleep can make all the other little things seem so much worse.  Plus, there has been a study which implies that if you have too little sleep you can end up with a longer labour and the increased risk of complications or interventions which comes with that.

Which reminds me…naps are like a maternity leave must, right?  I’m going to make sure I treat myself to a few of those!

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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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