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

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

My second pregnancy so far

As I've not written about my pregnancy, here's a catch up...

First trimester

I found out I was expecting when I was about 5 weeks in. I was a day late for my period, which I'd been tracking with an app for years, and suspected that given the timings of certain occurences ;-), there was a chance I could be pregnant. That day I needed to give my mum her medicine as my brother (also her carer) was away, so I stopped by at her local Sainsbury's to buy a pregnancy test before heading to work. I took the test in the loo at work and text Ruari with the news... well, I couldn't have phoned him as people would've heard! In hindsight, I could've handled that situation better. Ruari didn't even know I suspected I could be pregnant so I guess it must have been quite a shock.

We were both really happy as, whilst we hadn't been trying particularly hard, we weren't taking precautions either and we'd always known we wanted Joseph to have a sibling fairly close in age but not too close (I knew my nerves wouldn't be able to handle it).

It felt like I immediately started feeling nauseous, insanely tired, irritable and developed aversions to all sorts of foods. We had a trip booked to Croyde in Devon with our friends when I was around 8 weeks pregnant (I think) and I was pretty much the worst company ever... as was Joseph as he was ill and seemed to have meltdowns over every.little.thing. and insisted on sleeping in our bed way past his usual bed time.

I'd told a number of my friends - pretty much all of my friends, in fact - before my 12 week scan because I suck at keeping information to myself, plus I'd just been feeling so rotten that I wanted to be able to moan about it to them and for them to understand why.

It seemed like an age before I finally had the scan and saw our little bean wriggling around in there; and just like last time, I was a little bit convinced that I'd imagined the whole thing and that the scan would show a phantom pregnancy.

I was nervous about telling work and I felt guilty because I'd not been in my role for very long, but my manager was - and still is - really supportive. The wider team seemed really happy for me too and it was a relief to get it off my chest.

Second trimester

Thankfully the nausea and vomiting from the first trimester stopped; I was beginning to fear that I'd feel that awful throughout the whole pregnancy, whilst also having so, so, so much sympathy for those who do actually experience that. Because my symptoms had been a bit more extreme than with Joseph, it did make us wonder whether that was telling of the sex. But come our 20 week scan it was abundantly clear that we were having a boy. Part of me wanted to leave the gender as a surprise, but I caved! I felt movement with this one much earlier than I did with Joseph as my placenta is posterior rather than anterior.

I can't remember at which week I had a terrible migraine which made me puke and cry from the pain. Joseph saw me crying at one point when I'd been advised by 111 to go to the emergency GP at the hospital but every movement hurt like hell - he was quite affected for a couple of days afterwards saying 'mummy's poorly' 'mummy go to the doctor?' and asking if I was better and being extra cuddly and snuggly.

On one of the days between Christmas and New Year, I got checked out in hospital after another call to 111 as I'd noticed some bleeding which I didn't think much of, but when I googled it it said that if you notice bleeding and you're experiencing dizziness (which I had been for about a week) then to get it checked. I spent the evening in the ward I'd been in after having Joseph, undergoing various tests which all came out ok so I was free to go but advised to take it easy.

On the whole, my energy levels in my second trimester were much better than in my first, oh and all of my blood tests came back normal at 12 weeks, including the PAPP-A reading, meaning that I don't need to have all of the extra scans that I had with Joseph which is a huge relief.

Third trimester

I entered my 28th week and third trimester last Wednesday. According to the app I'm using, baby is the size of a coconut. I feel a lot of movement, especially after I've eaten or had something cold to drink and it seems like he's running out of room in there judging by how hard he hits the walls sometimes!

My body has been aching a lot more than I remember it aching when I was pregnant with Joseph, and I find myself feeling like a beached whale once I've laid down as it's so hard to get up, with back twinge-ing and general weight. I sleep with a cushion between my thighs when laying on my side as I find it sort of helps. Leg cramps in the night are really starting to irk me as I'm afraid to move or stretch my legs before yelping in pain unsure of whether to try to relax or fold into it. Nasty.

Not new to the third trimester, but I'm finding my bladder incredibly weak. I always felt slightly proud of how well I could hold a pee in before getting pregnant again, but now that ability has almost completely disappeared. I just find that I can go from 'I think I need to pee' to 'OMG I'm going to pee myself' to 'oh, damnit!!' in the space of about five seconds, leaving me no time to get to a loo.

Overall, I feel like this pregnancy is completely kicking my arse. I don't know whether it's my age, my lack of fitness (probably), the fact I already have a kid to run around after or what, but I feel like I'm really struggling sometimes and can't believe I have the best part of three months to go. My belly is already massive, I've put on two stone, and feel like I can actually feel myself being stretched sometimes. I am lucky to not have any stretch marks (yet), but am firm friends with my pal Gaviscon again!

If anyone reading this is in a similar point in their pregnancy, I'd love to hear how you're getting on with it all. Also if anyone else has found their second pregnancy harder than their first.

Nicki x

Monday, 6 February 2017

Back on the changing mat

Hi! I'm here. It's been ages huh?

I don't want to spend hours explaining away why I took such a long break from blogging, but, the short of it is that it made me feel sad and inadequate but, equally, not blogging has made me feel sad too. I regret that there's now over a year-long gap in my documenting of our memories and, although I feel vulnerable and intimidated at the prospect of bringing the blog back to life, there's a huge part of me that has been longing to write for a little while now.

Not wanting this to sound like a confession but, since the last time I blogged, we have moved back into our own home after the six month process of extending our bungalow into a four-bedroom house, having lived with Ruari's parents for the duration. Joseph has been in full-on terrible two's-mode for around 90% 50% of the time, but he makes us laugh and want to smother him with kisses every darn day despite this. His favourite things include: anything to do with dinosaurs, calling me 'mother', sucking his thumb whilst twiddling the label of his multi-coloured blanket (still), watching Paw Patrol (amongst loads of other drivel on Netflix), eating raisins and making us read 7,389 books to him before bed.

I'm sure there were a million other mini life-events in '16 that I am skipping over here, but the big news is that we are expecting another baby boy in April 2017!

There will be three years between the boys, bar a week, if he - name TBC - arrives on his due date and, in fact, he has the same due date that Joseph had except Joseph was a week early. Freaky, huh. [cue the 'you only have sex once a year' jokes... although actually that isn't a million miles away from the truth!].

I cannot wait to meet him, though I am simultaneously terrified of both the labour and what life is going to be like with two kids. Millions of people do it, though, and I've been told that three years is a nice age gap as the older one can help out a little bit. I do feel a bit more at peace at being able to cope with a newborn compared with how I was with Joseph, but I'm really not sure how I'll cope with the toddler and his incessant demands and whinging. I think it's largely to do with hormones, but I've definitely been losing my rag a bit lately and it's a level frustration and emotion that I don't remember getting to me quite so acutely since I was in the midst of a depressive phase in the year after I had Joseph. I sort of suspect I might be experiencing a bit of pre-natal depression, and having come off Fluoxetine abruptly rather than tapering off when I found out I was pregnant possibly didn't help.

Anywho... TLDR?

I just wanted to write a little one to say:
1. It's been a really long time since I last wrote and that really sucks.
2. I am making a commitment to writing regularly from now on.
3. I'm pregnant and really hormonal / emotional.

Thank you to anyone who may be reading this that used to follow the blog; I hope you'll stick around. Hello to any new faces - thank you for stopping by. I'm working on a posting schedule to help me keep on track this time and I'm looking forward to sharing again.

Nicki x