Wednesday, 22 March 2017

35 weeks pregnant: Time for myself

I'm pleased (and relieved) to report that I've had a few perky days in the last week or so, and I'm putting that down mostly to the fact that I've had three days pretty much to myself where Joseph's been at nursery or at his Granny's. I've been struggling to cope with his tantrums recently, and they have a real affect on my mood. If they're in the evening before bed then I'm often too emotionally drained to do anything. They're nothing new - they've been going on for the last year or so - but I think pregnancy has heightened their affect on me and my ability to be patient. Having the luxury of being on maternity leave and Joseph in childcare for a few days a week has really allowed my brain to have a bit of space, and it really was feeling cluttered. 

Here's what I've been up to...

I've been taking more photos on my 'proper' camera; though I've not got the hang of how on earth to edit them on my Mac - so instead I just have a million massive photos (in terms of file size) that I intend to use for blog posts eventually that are just sitting on my memory card. I've downloaded the free trial of Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, but I'm pretty overwhelmed by it all and need to dedicate my next slice of me-time to that. Managing photos is probably the biggest stress I have regarding being 'creative', aside from the part where I don't feel in any way creative at all but it seems to be what I want to be. Most days I go back to thinking 'why am I even bothering' - with writing and photographing. And I debate deleting my Instagram and Twitter accounts completely and going back to not writing at all as it feels like too much. But then there's that feeling of accomplishment that comes from finally having written a post, even if it is just a brain dump for me and not of interest to anyone else... Although I do eventually want to be able to write with confidence things that other people might want to actually read. And that's what has kept me going... albeit sporadically so far.

An iPhone photo; the ones I took on my DSLR are yet to be edited.

I went to see Beauty and the Beast with two of my friends from work on Sunday. I cried. Though I think my tears were because Joseph had been so well behaved all day so I was feeling particularly love-y, and then Chip strangely reminded me a bit of Joseph. So when him and his mum turned into a normal teapot and cup, before the spell had been lifted, it broke my heart a little bit. See what I mean about pregnancy hormones just being completely batshit?

I went to the dentist for the first time in over two years. I found a dentist who was actually taking on NHS patients and I got an appointment the next day. I had a check up and a scale + polish FOR FREE because of my maternity exemption card. It slightly made up for the fact I had to pay for a root canal privately during my last maternity leave. It was painful in more ways than one, and clearly I'm still bitter.

I've been listening to a hypnobirthing home study audiobook for the last few days. I don't know why, but I'd been putting off birth preparation. It's a bit like my brain couldn't handle it. Though now I'm feeling like I've left it too late. All I've wanted was a water birth with gas and air if need be. I've always imagined it being in a hospital too, rather than at home. I didn't go to NCT classes or anything similar whilst pregnant with Joseph so I didn't do anything this time round either, as I figured I've done it before. I did go to about number of 'breathe, stretch and relax' classes whilst pregnant with Joseph and, at the time, I wasn't sure if I was getting anything out of them - but having not done any sort of stretching or exercise this time around and feeling remarkably more achey than I remember being with Joseph, I now think that maybe they did do something and that now for having not done them I'll have an awful birth. 
One of the things that the hypnobirthing course has said to do is write down all your fears about birth, so I'm going to do that tonight. Right now I can't help but feel I've set myself for a bad experience, but I really don't want that to be a self fulfilling prophecy. Joseph's birth, whilst not ideal (induced, labour ward, whacked out on Pethidine- you can read the birth story here), was manageable pain-wise, so I have another fear of this one having to be extra horrific to make up for the 'ok' one last time. As I'm writing this, I'm realising I have quite a few birth fears, but most are related to me being unprepared and labelling myself an idiot for being unprepared. [Though I have just googled whether it's too late, and a hypnobirthing forum has said that it's not and that it's actually a good time as it's close enough to the birth that motivation to practise will be high.]

I've been drawing from a kids book. This probably deserves its own post in fact. Now, I can't draw for shit but this has been so much fun to copy from. It was only £5 from The Book People who came to my work on my last day before maternity leave and I've since bought the dinosaur one too. I've tried mindful colouring in the past but couldn't help but feel that nagging feeling of it being a waste of time, whereas with this I feel mindful, in that I'm focussed on what I'm doing, and I feel like I'm learning skills that will score me some mum points with Joseph... and his brother, eventually.

I've also been cleaning. A lot. Not even a deep clean, but it feels like I spend a lot of time cleaning just to keep the house at a base level of clean. Ruari has mentioned getting a cleaner, but maternity finances really aren't brilliant and I feel like they'd need to be in every day to keep on top of it all!
Speaking of maternity finances. I had some good news yesterday as my workplace announced a change to their maternity benefits. Rather than statutory maternity pay, mothers and adoptive mothers will now get 8 weeks at full pay followed by 18 weeks at half pay; then the remaining 13 weeks will be statutory allowance. I'm yet to find out what I'll actually receive and what I'll still have to still pay; tax, national insurance, pension contributions, student loan; and I'll still be paying for childcare vouchers etc, but I *think* it should work out a bit better. Certainly for the first 8 weeks at least, and it means I should be able to pay towards the mortgage and bills. I'm also happy about it as I usually miss out on things like that; at my last workplace I hadn't been there long enough to get enhanced maternity pay, and where Joseph has an April birthday he just misses out on the cut off for the funded childcare hours so we have to wait 'til September for those. So it feels like a win.

I boiled an egg. I'd written myself off as someone who can't even boil and egg last week after two failed attempts (one cracked and the other only half boiled where I'd not put in enough water), but third time was a success. I put my inability partly down to the fact I never usually eat eggs, but I guess I've been craving them a little bit lately. 

So that has basically been my week. I am having a scan on Friday, as ordered by my consultant, but all being well I'm hoping to go back to normal care and enjoying being low risk this time around. 

(This blog post was sponsored by Joseph actually having a nap in the house rather than in the car. I love it when that happens; it's seriously rare!)

Hope you're having a good week x

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Potty training: Part 1

When we found out we were expecting another baby, something we knew we wanted to do was ensure that Joseph was potty trained. We didn't want to be changing two sets of nappies, plus we knew Joseph would be three by the time the new arrival, er, arrived, which seemed like a good age to have him trained by.

I came across a 'potty training sounds book' when doing a supermarket shop one day and showed it to Joseph a few weeks before we started training as a bit of a primer for what was ahead. I can't find the exact book, but I've heard that the Pirate Pete Potty Training one is good too.

I'd done some Googling and forum-reading and got it in my head that it would be a good idea to spend three whole days at home with Joseph to break the back of potty training; so I booked a week off work in November with the main aim to have him out of nappies by the end of it. He was 2 years and 7 months old at that point. 

He did his usual Monday in nursery allowing me to have a day to potter around sans child mentally prepare myself for, potentially, a literal shit storm.

Ruari and I told him on Monday night and on Tuesday morning that he wouldn't be wearing a nappy anymore and that he was going to be a big boy and use the potty, which he seemed pretty on board with.

Day #1:

Armed only with a potty and a packet of dinosaur stickers that I'd bought him, not specifically for potty training, we began. After some initial reluctance from him to actually take his bottoms off, he eventually let me take them off after I'd made him some jam on toast, which he proceeded to eat whilst sitting on the potty and watching his beloved Paw Patrol. No wee though.

Jimbo giving it a go too. Who remembers Jimbo?!

I'd read that it was a good idea to let them be bottomless for all of the first day (and in some places I'd read to let them be bottomless for the whole three days). And so I let him be free. And so began the peeing on everything. By the end of the day my house stunk of pee as he'd only managed to pee in the potty twice out of about ten (maybe more) times throughout the day. The pees (and the poo) that were on the potty were born from luck as I was trying to watch his facial expressions for any signs of needing to go. His poo face was the most obvious, and straight after eating, so I encouraged him to sit on the potty. He wanted to get off but, with some gentle persuasion to concentrate, within a couple of minutes he had done a big poo and was really proud of himself. He took it to the loo himself to be flushed away.

Choosing his reward!

We put a nappy on him again after his evening bath and after he went to bed I was pretty certain I'd started too soon. In hindsight, he wasn't showing any of the 'signs of readiness' and some of my friends online had said they started once their kids were three years old, plus. I was ready to give up after one day, but Ruari told me to keep trying. In my desperation I ordered an e-book about potty training in three days from an American website. It was $40 but came with a refund guarantee if it didn't work out. I instantly regretted buying it as it didn't actually tell me anything I hadn't already read on forums and other sites so I got a refund shortly afterwards, hassle-free, thankfully.

Day #2:

On day two, Joseph wore 'big boy pants' rather than going bottomless. He was quite amused by the various emergency vehicles that were on each pair, which I'd bought for £6 from Sainsbury's for a pack of ten [similar here]. Though I didn't find any surprise wet-patches on my sofa on day two, he did wet almost every single pair and liked the idea of getting 'fresh' pair each time he wet them. He managed a few more pees in his potty compared with the day before and luckily I caught his poo face again - but overall I didn't feel hugely encouraged. After he went to bed I treated myself to a night out to Asda in order to buy more pairs of pants, but I was prepared to go back to nappies if the next day didn't go well.

We watched Despicable Me around 6,789 times in the space of three days.

Day #3:

Day three was much more successful, as I began using edible bribes rather than using the TV ("you can have another Paw Patrol if you sit on the potty"). Raisins for wees and a rich tea biscuit for a poo. I mean, yeah, he was as high as a kite, but so was I as it seemed like we'd made a break through. I'd read that eventually they'd forget about the bribes so not to worry about having to keep it up forever - and I can vouch that that is true, though he does occasionally ask for a reward, four months later. I try to keep my 'poo biscuit' stash topped up, but more for me than him. I think he only had a few accidents that day - the ratio had been flipped - and we even (nervously) left the house without an accident, albeit it wasn't for very long.

At the park, where he was a knight. Being at home for three days solid made us up our imaginative play game.


Joseph had nursery on the Friday and I wrote an essay for his key worker to say what we'd been doing and how he was getting on. She said she'd play it by ear and if he was having loads of accidents then she'd put him in a nappy. When it came time to collect him, I was expecting him to be in a nappy but he wasn't. His key worker was really impressed - he had a couple but not enough to warrant giving up - and she said he'd done better than some of the kids that had been training for longer.

We went about our weekend as normal - asking him if he needed to go periodically. I'd lined his car seat with a tea towel and plastic bag in case of any accidents, but miraculously he didn't have any.

I couldn't believe the turnaround in the space of such a short time. By the Monday he was asking the staff at nursery to go for a wee rather than waiting to be prompted and on Wednesday (my day off) we went to soft play without any accidents.

I'd been taking his potty around with us when we went out, and at soft play I saw a lady who had a My Carry Potty for her granddaughter with her which I thought was just awesome as it was novelty and more discreet so I ordered one that day (bee design), though in hindsight it was a waste of money (and not even cheap at £25). Joseph used it for a very short while instead of his other potty but would sometimes refuse to use it whilst we were out even though he needed to go... which led to an accident right outside the M&S toilets.

We went to Paris for my birthday less than a month after Joseph's initial training and, to my surprise, he didn't have a single accident for the three days we were there. We brought the My Carry Potty with us, but for the vast majority of the time we just sat him on the actual toilet when he'd tell us he needed to wee, mainly because all the of toilet cubicles we went to were tiny and barely had room for one person, so he actually only used it when we were at the hotel. That was the last time we used it so, for us, it just wasn't worth the investment.

When we got back from Paris, Joseph used a mixture of his old potty, the actual toilet, and a training seat a bit like this one, though his isn't as cool and wasn't in a set. Early into the new year, Joseph started being able to take himself to the toilet; i.e. he got into the habit of going to the bathroom when he needed to loo so would move the foot stool to the base of the loo and put the training seat on the toilet himself, rather than us getting the potty for him and bringing it to him.

He went through a phase in late January/ early February where it seemed that he'd have a wee accident around once a week, in various circumstances, but usually either where he'd fallen asleep and wet himself or was so busy playing (usually in his room) that he'd forget to say he needed a wee. This seems to have stopped now, and our main challenge is trying to get him trained for the night. Sometimes he refuses to wear a nappy at night, so on occasion we've let him go without - after encouraging him to wee before he goes to sleep and leaving a potty in his room (as we still don't have an upstairs bathroom) - but invariably he has been wet when we've gone to check on him. Some mornings his nappy is really heavy, and sometimes it's dry. So it's hard to know what to do. He has a waterproof mattress protector on his mattress when it's in the wash after he's wet it, and I've just bought some bed mats (a bit like dog training pads) to use as an alternative to the mattress protector (I guess we should have more than one) which we've not started using yet.

Overall, potty training was way less stressful than I imagined it would be - and was done much quicker than I thought it would - though we're not completely there yet. I always have one spare pair of trousers, pants and socks on me if we go out anywhere and also packed in his bag for nursery. I used to pack multiple spares but they're just not necessary anymore.

I think training for the nights is going to be much harder but we're going to try and get it done in the next month. To be honest, I think Joseph just gets a bit lazy. We put his nappy on just before he goes to bed - and sometimes he'll co-operate and sit on the loo first, but sometimes he won't. And in the mornings he can be quite reluctant to take his nappy off - and sometimes won't use the loo for a couple of hours after having taken it off - which suggests to me that he does many of his morning pees in his nappy rather than bothering himself with going to the loo.

Part 2 of the Potty training 'series' will be about how we got on with training for the night. Don't hold your breath; it could be a while!

My mum bought this for Joseph the week we were training without realising what it was. So very apt.

Potty training purchases and notes:

Potty - we just got a basic one from Mothercare. Ruari's mum also bought a potty for Joseph to use at her house which was from a supermarket, but she had to buy another one as it was tiny. So no matter where you buy the potty, just try to assess the size to see if it'll be suitable for your baby's tush.

Step stool - again, a Mothercare purchase. I originally bought it so he could step up to wash his hands himself but our sink was too high up so it didn't become useful until he was toward the end of his training. Tesco do some nice training seat/stool combos which I think Joseph would have really liked.

Training seat - my mum actually bought the seat for Joseph way before we even started potty training, and I wasn't expecting to use it as soon as we did but has turned out to be a worthwhile purchase.

Waterproof mattress protector - we should probably have at least two.

Pants - obvs. Sainsbury's ones are my favourite as they seem like decent quality and are a good size - if not slightly roomy. The Asda ones I bought were not true to size at all so I had to exchange them for age 4-5, which is crazy as Joseph's quite petite and generally wears 18-24 month old-size clothing on his bottom half.

Bed mats - not tried these yet but seem like a good idea.

Reward(s) of your choosing - sticker rewards just did not float Joseph's boat and were not incentive enough even though he understood what they meant. Raisins and Rich Teas on the other hand... different story.

Spares - I take one pair of pants, trousers and socks everywhere we go.

Poo emoji cushion - optional!

Good luck!

Good luck if you're embarking on the training journey! My main tip is to not give up after day one; I'm really glad we persevered and, believe me, I really thought I'd made a mistake training him when I did but by the end of day three he was like a changed boy.


Don't forget hand-washing. Joseph is a reluctant hand-washer and even still tries to get away with not washing them. He also hates public hand dryers, so much so that sometimes he'll refuse to pee even though he needs to if he can hear that someone is using a hand dryer nearby. Weirdo.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

34 weeks pregnant: Maternity leave has begun and Spring has sprung

What good timing, eh?

I started my maternity leave this week; well, the annual leave entitlement I needed to use up before starting official maternity leave as I couldn't roll it over to next year and I'm not expecting to return to work this year. I know I worked two or three weeks longer last time around, but my brain function hasn't felt brilliant for the last few weeks and I've felt myself feeling a bit stressed, low, and physically slower and achier - so I think it was time.

My team threw me a mini baby shower at my favourite local cafe a couple of weeks ago, and we had a final lunch with the wider team on my last day before heading to the pub for our last digital team meeting avec moi. Earlier in the day I had also been presented with a huge box full of presents - mostly practical things such as wet wipes, teething gels, swim nappies, bibs and nappy creams - but also some sweet little tops, shoes and socks... and chocolate. It was so lovely and I even loved the box they gave me, and it will go nicely in my little nest-room (which has suddenly turned into a junk room again; probably contributing to my recent feelings of frustration. It was sooo so nice just a few weeks ago!) I was really lost for words when most of the department came to my desk and I just got incredibly flustered, awkward, and felt like an idiot afterwards for not saying any of the things you'd probably expect someone going on maternity leave to say. I did say thank you - a lot - but I didn't open the gift box as it was selophane wrapped so everyone could kind of see inside without me going through each item, but that was probably the expectation. I'm possibly over-thinking it. But I do wish I could have had that moment again and been more 'normal'.

So back to this week, and my first day of leave...

I dropped Joseph off at nursery in the morning, as I would have if I were working, and headed to the hospital for my first consultant appointment of this pregnancy. Because my mum had Deep Vein Thrombosis once, and because my pregnancy with Joseph was high risk and consultant-led, my midwife referred me again (back in October) but it has taken until now to be seen. I hadn't actually been worried about having not been seen as I figured they must have looked at my notes and figured I was ok; but my midwife pushed for an appointment just to check.

I always forget to bring pee samples to these things so the appointment started with me peeing in a pot and having my blood pressure taken. It was low. It's always low. I waited for a few minutes before being called in. After a couple of questions about how I've been and whether I've been feeling movement, I hopped on the bed to have my bump measured. Though she didn't say what it was measuring to (at my last midwife appointment it was measuring 30 weeks when I was 32), she said it was fine. So I guess it must be in the healthy range. I definitely think this one's going to be bigger than Joseph. I mean, he was teeny - 5lb 14 - and second babies are generally bigger, so I don't think I'll be so lucky this time. Just to triple check everything's ok, the consultant has requested a scan and booked a follow-up appointment; but I'm expecting to be discharged from consultant care after that.

After my appointment I popped to town to return my library books, and had a look in Tiger but I managed to emerge empty-handed - amazingly. I then took advantage of the free coffee in Waitrose before heading home and spending time pining after Joseph. My dad was in the vicinity so he dropped by for a cup of tea and I then took the photos I used for my outfit post the other day. Ironically, after saying that I felt ok about my style; yesterday I had a meltdown over what to wear. Now I'm not at work - and now it's slightly warmer - loads of what I've been wearing seems 'wrong' again and yesterday I just didn't know what to wear. So I just threw on my leggings, a vest then the blazer-cardigan and scarf over the top again. Ugh. Joseph was on good form when I collected him from nursery, but when we got home he threw an enormous tantrum about nothing. I went from missing him dearly to wanting to put a bullet in my head within the space of an hour. When Ruari got home I had to just spend 10 minutes alone to gather myself together again. His tantrums actually scare me sometimes; it's as though he has been possessed and I don't know who he is.

On Tuesday, Ruari and I went to Ikea whilst Joseph spent the day at Granny's as he normally would if I were working. We've figured we're going to keep Joseph's routine the same even though I'm not at work as I don't want literally everyyyythinggg to change for him in a short period of time. I can imagine gaining a little brother is going to be quite a big deal for him; and I'm expecting his sleep to change and for toilet accidents to happen. Ikea was a bit fruitless; everything Ruari wanted was out of stock - and I changed my mind on loads of things I thought I was clear on for my nest / new nursery. Joseph stayed overnight at Granny's so we wouldn't have to rush back and I watched the final part of The Replacement. For me it fell apart in the last 20 minutes, but overall I enjoyed the mini-series, which is about a woman going on maternity leave and being replaced by a psycho, basically. Though I am someone now on maternity leave, I couldn't relate to it at all, but made for good telly.

Yesterday was one of those days. Nothing went right so I'm just going to leave it at that, but I'm hoping today will be better though I have woken up feeling very low.

I finally decided to re-join Instagram this week (though I've instantly hated both photos I've posted!) Insta was such a great source of support when I had Joseph, but I do feel like a bit of an outsider so I need to get back into the swing of regular posting and engaging. I just want to try and get some balance and set a couple of boundaries as I don't want to be on my phone all the time - which I felt like I was on Tuesday, the day I re-joined. My last maternity leave was wrought with feeling bad and sad about spending so much time online (or not getting the chance enough) and constantly feeling as though I was neglecting something else, whilst not even doing the online thing that well either. I felt like I couldn't win. I want my maternity leave to be productive, though that feels wrong because shouldn't maternity leave be all about family and raising babies? I do also need to take care of myself though, so if being productive will make me a happier mum, then that can't be wrong - can it?

God; I just had a cry. Hormones everywhere!

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

My maternity style: Part 1

Let it be said, straight up; I'm no fashionista. I have zero idea (or interest) in the latest trends, but I do know what I like when I see it. I'm also not big on clothes shopping really, so it's highly likely that anything you see in these posts may not be available anymore because they were either in a sale or are just olllddd. I'm really selling myself here, huh? What I will say, though, is my style is pretty simple and easily replicable as I just wear basics.

The general formula is:
Jeans + vest+ tripey top + big cardigan

This sometimes varies to: 

Leggings (or tights, but I generally find maternity tights to be useless) + vest (if there's room) + stripey dress + big cardigan.

Wild, right?

Then add in a scarf (mostly to cover up my terrible pregnancy skin on my back, chest and behind my ears), a tote bag, either my desert boots or a pair of converse (or faux DM's for work) and that's it really. Occasionally I'll wear a pin badge too but they're generally reserved for my denim jackets, which it has been too cold to wear lately. Oh, yeah, and a coat. I've been wearing the same (non-maternity) coat to death all of this winter and I can't even do it up anymore.... But said scarf tends to cover the chilly middle. I'm pretty pleased that I managed the winter without buying a coat; I know that this will be my last pregnancy so I know I won't need another - plus I was annoyed at myself for charity-shop-bagging the coat I used last time around. It wasn't a maternity coat, but I could do it up right 'til the end. It just got a but musty and bobbly so I gave it up during a decluttering phase.

I think there's something about being up the duff that lends itself well to execution of the capsule wardrobe concept; largely that no one really wants to shell out for tons of new clothes that you're not going to wear for very long, so it forces you to pick carefully and make combinations from the few pieces you do have. I say 'few' but I recently added up all the things I've been wearing during this pregnancy and it came to 25 things. Including vests and bras, but not including pants, socks and pyjamas. Or shoes. I've probably only worn about 5 different pairs of shoes, max. I'd say that less than half of those things have been bought during this pregnancy - or indeed for pregnancy at all as I tend to wear loose clothes anyway - and if they have then they were cheap. The most I've paid for anything is £25 for a decent pair of black maternity jeans which have served me incredibly well.

Anywho... I wanted to just share a handful of my favourite clothing combinations from this pregnancy as I've been pretty happy with my maternity 'style' this time round. And I haven't got an awful growth on my face this time either so I feel a bit more confident about my appearance in general. I have to dress to cover up my skin (and reluctance to wear a bra because I find them too uncomfortable - even sporty, under-wireless ones.)

Here is an outfit I wore yesterday - my first 'proper' day of maternity leave (i.e. a Monday). It fits into formula #1 of the two I mentioned pretty squarely.

My blazer-y cardigan was an impulse sale-buy a few weeks ago from Miss Selfridge at my nearest Outfit store. I only paid £9 for it as I had a gift voucher from Christmas but even its sale price was more than I'd pay for most things. I think it was £29 reduced from close to £40 - so not a huge sale bargain and if it weren't for the voucher I'd have left it on the rail. Fast-fashion has made me really reluctant to spend money on clothes, which is awful because I know the conditions in which they're made, but it seems like unless you pay significantly/prohibitively more (like £100 more) then buying things not made in those conditions is unavoidable.

The oversized pink scarf was from H&M a few months ago, around £12. It could double up as a blanket if you needed one. In fact I think I used it as one when I went to see La La Land last month.

The top and jeans were both from New Look. The top was full price (two for £12) and the jeans were a bit of a steal at just £7 in the sale. I was fully prepared to hate them when they arrived, but I've been living in them.

The long vest underneath is a plain, adjustable spaghetti number from H&M. I have about four of the same vest as they're long enough to compensate for any riding up of your top and tight enough to give me (a very modest-busted lady) a little bit of support. And to reduce see-through-ness, of course.


Sunday, 26 February 2017

31 weeks pregnant

I'm pretty sure I was supposed to have a midwife appointment this week; I've not seen her since the first week of the new year, but my notes have next week's date in them with a '31/40' next to it... though I'll actually be 32/40 by the time the appointment comes. I'm sure it's no big deal. It'll just be interesting to get my bump measured. To me, and most people who've seen me lately, it seems huge, but whether it's disproportionately big, I don't know.

This week has been pretty tough on the ol' emotions, and thus energy levels. I think I'm definitely seeing shadows of the black dog following me around. I think when my mind at any given time is thinking predominantly in 'shoulds', comparisons, and wishing my evenings away so I can get into bed without feeling guilty/ sleep the guilt off; it's a bad sign. Other tell-tale signs include: crying whilst driving, crying whilst making pancakes, getting incredibly angry over essentially nothing, making rookie mistakes at work, avoiding leaving the house or seeing other humans and constantly reminding myself how shit I am at life and everything it entails. It's like I can't focus on the task at hand because there's this other, really shitty, narrative going through my head simultaneously; and the tears come out when it all just gets a bit too crowded in there. There's also something about going on maternity leave that heightens the feelings of Imposter Syndrome; handing your work over and feeling like there's so much more to be done and that your replacement will be able to achieve so much more than you have, and thinking that everyone will realise I'm not needed.
And as stupid as this sounds; I want to go back onto Instagram but I can't bring myself to. I haven't posted in almost two months and I deleted the app from my phone about three weeks ago, so I'm completely out of the loop. My account is still active, as in I haven't deleted it this time, but I just... can't.

In other news; I took Joseph to our oft-frequented wildlife park on our week-day off together this week and I ate a 103g bag of Malteasers whilst he wasn't looking. And most of his normal-sized packet. Oops. Joseph was pretty well behaved that day; he seemed particularly interested in the reptile house, more-so than usual, and seeing all the monkeys and the new chimps there gave me weird monkey-dreams that night. As the weather wasn't great it was quite quiet and we were able to take our time in the dinosaur section that has a Jurassic Park-style car you can get in and play with. So the picture above is of Joseph driving.

Yesterday I ate a McDonalds outside a random person's house. It was lunch time and I'd picked my mum up, intending to go somewhere nice for lunch, but Joseph had fallen asleep in the back of the car so, with blood-sugar levels running low, we went to the nearest drive-thru. Only Joseph started waking up when he heard the bag of food rustling, and as I really didn't want to let him eat a McDonalds I carried on driving. Not wanting to let my chips get too cold, I pulled over as soon as Joseph was properly back to sleep and it just so happened to be in a residential area. It was awkward. I felt awkward. Especially when someone parked up behind me who lived in the house next to the one I was parked outside of. But I don't think they really clocked what we were doing, and as soon as I finished eating I drove away. It was a spicy veggie deluxe meal, btw. And I felt slightly less crabby after eating it. When Joseph woke up, we went to the M&S cafe where he had a kids pizza and I drank a nice cup of coffee.

Here's hoping for fewer emotional outbursts this week; from me or Joseph!


Wednesday, 15 February 2017

30 weeks pregnant

Each Wednesday marks the new 'week' of my pregnancy; today I turned 30 weeks pregnant. It's starting to feel a bit more real now; not that hasn't felt real, I suppose, but it suddenly feels closer to here-and-now reality rather than this thing that's going to happen in nine months time. I think a big factor in that was setting my maternity leave date with work. With my last employer I could roll over some of my holiday into the following year to take at the end of my leave, whereas with this one I have to take it all (plus bank holidays) before I go, meaning that I'm going to be off for six or so weeks before my due date. Six weeks!

I'm planning to do all of my nesting in that time because I've literally prepared nothing and bought nada for this baby so far. Well, that's a small lie... I have bought it him two different types of cloud-print blanket, a onesie and two cloud-print storage boxes. Joseph's room is full of cloud-print stuff and I eventually want them to share a room, so when I saw that Matalan had re-stocked some of their cloud paraphernalia I figured I'd snap it up for the future when they can have matching bed stuff.

But, really, I don't think there's much we'll need to buy for this baby, unless once we dig stuff out from the loft we realise it hasn't stored well, or aged well, or it's just falling apart. The only thing I do think we'll need is a cot; or a new bed for Joseph so that baby can have Joseph's cot bed. I'm tempted by the idea of a bedside crib (e.g. SnuzPod or Chicco Next2Me), which we didn't go for last time as they seemed quite rare (think only the NCT sold them, maybe, unless I didn't know what I was looking for, which is quite possible), whereas this time round they seem to be everywhere. But the thought of paying £200-ish for something that's meant to only last 'til six months seems a bit mad, so we will probably not go for it.

I am both looking forward to, and dreading that time off in between work and baby's arrival. (You'll probably find with me that I very rarely feel fully one way or another - I'm always conflicting. Never just excited; always excited and scared/ nervous etc, etc.) I'm anxious about spending loads of time with Joseph on my own because he is so demanding and I'll be knackered, but also it'll be such a special time for us - the last weeks when it's just us - and before I'm floored by the wall of exhaustion a newborn brings. It's weird to think that child will never know a time without a sibling, whereas Joseph might remember a time when it was just him. Whilst Joseph is incredibly hard work sometimes, and I literally feel as though I have lost it, really, having one child is manageable. Having two terrifies me. I'm already always late for everything and it takes me an age to leave the house. Imagine two. There's no way I could have more than two. I'd be a wreck. I have utmost respect for those that manage it.

Anyway. This post was spawned from a feeling of 'shit-I-only-have-10-weeks-left-I-better-document-everything-regularly-from-now-on', but I don't really know what to document and I've ended up just brain-dumping a load of, er, dump. I also failed to take a decent bump photo today, even though Joseph and I were wearing co-ordinating outfits (we actually do that quite regularly.)

Baby is the size of a motorbike helmet, or a summer cantaloupe melon, apparently. The skin on my chest and back is still insanely spotty - I don't think I mentioned that in my pregnancy-so-far post - but it's like someone's replaced my skin there with that of a teenager's face. It's really quite fascinating and somewhat enjoyable to pick at, but I know I'm not doing myself any favours by aggravating it. I had the same issue with my last pregnancy, so I know it will clear up and is just a temporary inconvenience as I can't wear certain clothes. I've been getting slightly less frequent leg cramps at night (touch wood), but still quite disturbed and uncomfortable sleep.
I can't tell if the rib ache I've had for most of this pregnancy (which, again, I also had with Joseph) is a form of indigestion, muscular or bone-u-lar, but I find walking or laying down helps. I hate it when it plays up whilst I'm in a meeting or driving and I can't do anything about it. I really need to sort out my Gaviscon prescription. I'm such a mug for having been paying for it this whole time. It's not that I didn't know I could get it on prescription, it's just that I've not hauled my ass over to my doctors surgery or remembered to phone at a reasonable hour. If I only do one thing this week; it'll be getting that sorted!

Catch you soon!
Nicki x

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Things that have helped me get back into blogging

Whilst I was re-reading some of my old posts the other day, I noticed that when I'd written for the first time again after a couple of separate hiatus' (hiati?!), I'd credited various books for inspiring me to get back into blogging again.
Urgh; That was an awful sentence, sorry, I clearly need more practice writing.
Basically, there seems to be a correlation between me reading, watching (or listening to) something that inspires me in some way, and me actually writing.

So I just wanted to share the things (not all books) that have helped me to dip my toe back into my blog; and I've realised that I'm probably going to always need to be listening to something to gee me along until I can learn to gee myself along.

1. Setting up a nest-office in our spare room, which used to be our bedroom before the conversion (pictured). This is also the room I plan to share with baby when he arrives to allow Ruari and Joseph to sleep undisturbed upstairs (in theory). It's near the loo, kitchen and if he naps during the day (please nap, baby, and sleep through the nights!), I can just leave him in there knowing that I'm only a few steps away.
I digress.
Back to my nest-office:
I'd been toying with the idea of getting a desk and setting up a proper workspace, especially as I seem to see dreamy ones on Insta every day which could probably be replicated quite cheaply, but I've come to accept that I love nothing more than to be cosy; with a hot water bottle and blankets... and in a bed, ideally, so I set up this little corner for me to write and escape to. All of my books are in here, and all of my stationery (and all of our wedding paraphernalia and a bunch of my cactus stuff) so it's just a nice little place for me to write.
On a side note, I've also been toying with the idea of starting a bullet journal, but I'm yet to commit and have instead just been scribbling notes and down in a £2 plain-paper notebook I got ages ago from Tiger with some gel pens I picked up from Paperchase last week.

2. Listening to Jen Carrington's Make It Happen podcasts. I came across Jen around 18 months ago when one of my favourite blogger/ 'grammers (Sara of Me & Orla) said she had hired Jen as her blog coach. I then started following Jen on Twitter, but that was around the time I'd fully committed to being at work and not focussing on my blog, so I didn't read much around her or listen to her podcasts. Fast-forward to about a fortnight ago when Sara recommended Jen's podcasts on her blog that I decided to actually listen to one - and I'm so glad I did. Jen is just 23 but she seems incredibly wise beyond her years. God, I wish I had her smarts now, let alone when I was 23. I'm not sure how regularly she publishes her podcasts - either once or twice a week I think, and each series is broken up into seasons - but she does one per week that is usually her speaking with a creative which is around and hour long, and then a mini-episode per week which is no longer than 10 minutes long, but my goodness it's packed with so much inspiration and food for thought. I found myself having to pause and rewind the concepts and wise-words that particularly resonated in order to jot them down. I've only listened to one of the long-listens (the one with Sara, obvs) but around 7 or 8 of the mini-episodes.  There are 49 episodes in total, with a new season on its way soon, so I've got plenty more to keep me going.

3. Listening to audiobooks. It makes me shudder a little bit that I spend £8 a month on them as that seems like a lot when you add it up for a year, but seeing as I drive for over an hour each day, I get a lot of listening done and it's time that I just don't seem to get to sit and read. Also, I have just discovered Audible's refund process meaning that I've managed to return - and get credits back for - all the ones I've downloaded as a result of succumbing to their emails about their 2 for 1 deals on books that 'might' be of interest but turned out to not pique my interest enough to listen for more than a single car journey. As a result, I've got a nice little collection of audiobooks that I enjoyed listening to and may listen to again.
This is absolutely not everyones cup of tea but I've personally always tended to enjoy reading non-fiction to fiction, particularly of the self-help variety the most, and Audible is full of that. So most recently I've listened to You Are A Badass: How to stop doubting your greatness and start living an awesome life by Jen Sincero, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert and today I started (and listened to over an hour of) Grit: The Power of Passion & Perseverance by Angela Duckworth (after Jen mentioned it in one of her podcasts). Aside from Big Magic, which I think I need to re-listen to because I fell asleep a number of times whilst listening to, all have resonated with me - particularly Jen Sincero's book. She reminded me of Sophia Amoruso of #Girlboss / Nasty Gal fame - which is one on not-very-many books I've physically read cover-to-cover and was totally inspired (but also intimidated) by. Some women really are just total badasses.

4. I binge-watched a lot of TV (namely Prison Break S1+2) in December/January and felt horrifically guilty for it, feeling like I should use the time I'd 'found' for TV more wisely. So I made the conscious decision to stop and made the transition from watching to writing, slowly, by reacquainting myself with TED talks and watching a couple of documentaries on Netflix; Cowspiracy and (Dis)honesty: The truth about lies.
I love TED talks - often they're so inspiring - and two of my favourites are by Amy Cuddy on body language and  Susan Cain on Introversion... I have since downloaded both of their Audiobooks Presence and Quiet: The Power of Introverts In A World That Can't Stop Talking, respectively. I've not yet listened to Amy Cuddy's book, but I loved Susan Cain's. The documentary (Dis)honesty is by another one of my favourite TED talkers, Dan Ariely, whose work on behavioural economics I got to know about through my work in our quest to understand why people decide to buy from us (or not). Cowspiracy is totally unrelated to anything else I've talked about in this blog post, but reaffirmed for me the importance of vegetarianism, and ignited the part of me wants to be a vegan, but not for very long as I automatically added milk to my porridge and morning cup of tea less than 12 hours later. Anyway, the TED talk I've enjoyed the most recently which helped me to prioritise my time was How to gain control of your free time by Laura Vanderkamp. Laura doesn't take energy into account - which is something I feel more lacking in than time most of the time - but I do think I could be doing things to help myself with my energy levels which I don't really do; i.e. eating more healthily and moving more.

So that was a super rambly post; but maybe you'll find something in there to read, listen or watch that might inspire you to do something you've been wanting to for a little while. Or maybe you'll just want to get cosy in a little nest :-)

Nicki x