Pregnant and Perfect

In America maternity shoots, kind of like baby showers, are a big deal. It seems to be the norm to have one rather than not. I spend a lot of time on online pregnancy support groups filled with Americans so recently my news feed has been flooded with the most beautiful pictures. With hair and makeup styled perfectly and gorgeous flowing dresses these pictures are what every woman dreams of looking like when pregnant. Ordinary day to day pictures just do not live up!

Getting professional pictures taken is an expense that few of us can afford or justify during pregnancy. Any money I have right now is for baby and things that she needs. Hell we probably can’t even afford a new born photo shoot and if we had to pick one to spend our hard earned cash on newborn would win over maternity every time!

Every girl wants to feel like a princess every now and then though and I was getting very jealous of all the amazing pictures while I felt like a troll! So I decided to take matters into my own hands and hold my own personal maternity shoot.

Now I love Jack very much. He’s a wonderful man and he has many strengths. Taking pictures of me is not one of them. If I ask him to take a picture he expects to take one picture and no more. He can never understand why you would want more. When we went on holiday to Norfolk I was desperate to utilise the woods for some pregnancy pictures and ended up with one very average photograph!

20190224_094139

There’s only so far that mirror selfies can go towards getting the perfect pic!

20190303_111953

So I purchased a tripod for my phone. It comes with a bluetooth remote that links up with your phone or camera so that you can easily take pictures. This is the one i bought: https://www.amazon.co.uk/PEMOTech-Lightweight-Smartphone-Compatible-Stabilizer/dp/B014ZYH6J4?ref_=fsclp_pl_dp_4

Armed with my tripod and a couple of dresses from boohoo I headed out into the garden to try my luck. I was so glad I did! Looking at the end results I felt confident and beautiful- feelings which are becoming rarer as I become bigger!

20190318_16465820190318_16472620190318_164747Screenshot_20190318-170149_InstagramScreenshot_20190318-172248_Instagram

20190318_164823Screenshot_20190318-172949_Instagram

Fancy professional photos are all well and good but for those of you on a budget don’t be afraid to take matters into your own hands! Everyone deserves to have beautiful pictures especially at such a unique and magical time of life! And if your partner is as useless as mine when it comes to taking pictures I seriously recommend a smart phone tripod to ending the choice between grumbling partners and mirror selfies for good!

 

Charlie and the Silver Bell

When I was growing up both my Dad and Grandad used to write me wonderful stories which they would read to me. Whenever we visited Nana and Grandad I would love hopping into their bed in the morning to hear Grandad’s latest tale. He’d even send me tape cassettes (this was the 90s remember) with stories recorded on them so I wouldn’t go too long without. My favourite stories were about a boy called Peter Edward North (his friend’s called him Pen!).

I love writing stories myself (whenever I get the time!) and i’m so excited to write stories for own little baba. I hope that she gets my love of books because stories can take you anywhere, they introduce you to a whole world of magic.

This is a story I wrote a few years ago for Josh, Jess and Joe. It’s called Charlie and the Silver Bell.

N.B creative license was used here because Charlie never has and never will be a hunter!

Charlie and The Silver Bell

IMG_0625 (2)

Charlie loved to catch her owner’s gifts, and leave them at their door.

Birds and Mice, Toads and Frogs she always wanted more.

She loved her owners very much, and wanted them to see

That no other cat would ever love them quite as much as she.

20181221_151501

Her owners, on the other hand, were not such a happy pair,

When they saw the little presents they would often just despair!

They talked and talked, and thought and thought, of a way to make them stop.

“Ah ha! At last!” cried Jack, “I have the perfect plot!”

 

He rushed out and bought a collar with a shiny silver bell,

And they hung it round Charlie’s neck where it would jingle jangle.

“Brilliant!” cheered Carrie, “Now the gifts will cease,

And thanks to you, my smart smart man, the critters will be at peace!”

item_XL_40591106_91e6f2397c88d

Charlie loved her silver bell, it filled her heart with glee

To think her owners loved their gifts so much they’d bought a special one for she.

She vowed to work extra hard, to catch them even more

She’d begin right away to leave some at their door.

 

But try as she might, for days and days, Charlie had no luck.

She tried mice and birds, toads and frogs she even tried a duck!

She knew the animals were mocking her, they laughed from all around

But whenever she tried to stalk her prey they always found her out.

 

Now a Magpie in the garden, had been watching poor Charlie

He had seen the sparkling silver bell as he sat upon his tree.

“Cat!” he squawked from on his post, “I know the reason why

You cannot catch a single thing, no matter how you try!”

Magpie in rowan (5)

“That silver bell upon your neck is making quite a din,

And while you’re wearing it you will not catch a thing!

Now I propose a deal with you, I’ll peck the bell right free

But you must make a promise not to try to pounce on me!”

 

Charlie sat and pondered, could the magpie’s words be true?

She loved her shiny silver bell but she loved her owners too.

“Ok Magpie” she meowed, “I’ll accept your deal today,

You can take the silver bell, and I’ll let you fly away”.

img_0692.jpg

The Magpie hopped down from the tree, and pecked with his long beak

And the shiny silver bell came off with just a tweak.

Now Charlie, who was just a cat, decided to be sly

And with a wriggle of her bum she leapt on the magpie!

 

The Magpie squawked and flapped his wings and feathers flew around

And the shiny silver bell bounced upon the ground.

The Magpie escaped her paws, and left the garden quick.

And Charlie was left alone once more with a few wounds to lick!

 

“Oh Charlie look!” said Jack that night, “I found your shiny bell

It was lying in the garden, I nearly couldn’t tell!”

He clipped it back around her neck and gave little a smile

“There you go Charlie dear, no more hunting for a while”.

IMG_6554

Now to this day poor Charlie still has that shiny bell,

And no one else will help her after the Magpie did tell

Of how she broke her promise, and tried to pounce on him,

And how she can’t be trusted with hide or hair or limb.

 

But Charlie’s owners are happy now when they open up their door

Because there are never any presents sitting on the floor.

And the animals in the garden no longer live in fear

Because when Charlie is coming, they can always hear!

IMG_1293

Window to the Womb

We’ve just got back from seeing baby girl! We were torn about paying for a private scan because it is quite expensive. Jack in particular thought it was going to be a waste of money and we should just wait until the baby arrives to see her again now. But as our last NHS scan was at 20 weeks (apart from the surprise growth scan we had yesterday due to my “small” bump) I felt 20 weeks was a long time to wait without seeing my baby!

The huge benefit of a private scan as well was that the kids could come (they’re not allowed at the NHS ones). We felt it would be good bonding for them to see their baby sister in my tummy. I’m not sure they were as excited as I had hoped they would have been but still it was nice for them to be involved!

I have an anterior placenta and yesterday at the growth scan we were told her head is very low already so I wasn’t optimistic that we would get good pictures. But the sonographer was patient (and got me to cough and move about) and we got some decent ones! These are all at 28 +6 weeks.

Her face was all smushed against my tummy where she was pressed up close and she kept covering her face with her hand. She has super chubby cheeks and she’s just perfect. And she’s all girl which is a relief because those pink clothes won’t go to waste!

SKLHLMFSHN_Carrie_23

Chubby Cheeks!

SKLHLMFSHN_Carrie_34

Chewing her hand (she wouldn’t put that hand down! She’s going to be a thumb sucker!)

SKLHLMFSHN_Carrie_36

Hand on head- drama queen! Look at that smushed nose as well.

SKLHLMFSHN_Carrie_42

I think the poor darling is going to have my nose!

We also got this adorable heartbeat teddy which has a recording of her heartbeat in. There were loads to choose from and we got the kids to help pick- luckily we all easily agreed the husky was best!

The scan cost us £69 plus £20 for the teddy (there were bigger ones for £30). Whilst I don’t think we would have got medical peace of mind from them (there really wasn’t much focus on baby’s well being despite it being a well being scan), for bonding and pictures it was worth every penny. I actually wish we had upgraded to HD but I was convinced we wouldn’t get a good face shot!

Have you had a 4d scan? Let’s see those images!

Code Breaker

I haven’t written on here in so long. What with Christmas and general family life it has been a constant whirlwind of activity and I haven’t had a minute to sit and think.

Today I am 28 weeks which means, whether you believe the third trimester starts at 27 or 28 weeks, I am in it! I can’t believe the 2nd trimester is already over. There are 84 days before the due date and excited as I am to meet baby, I am happy for those to go slowly!

Today’s post is a little different because it’s not going to be pregnancy related. Whilst i’m a first time biological mama, and babies are a whole new ball game for me, I am already a step-mum to three children. On Sundays, Jack takes Joe (7) to play rugby and I stay at home (in the warm and dry) with Jess (8) and Josh (11). I like to make the most of this bonding time so we always make sure to play a game or do some form of activity (preferably not involving a screen!).

Today I created a game for them which you may like to try with your own children! It was called code breaker and they both loved it. They worked well as a team and the best bit was it was super educational and they barely even realised! You would need to adapt the clues and the code depending on the age of your children but the base format would work for anyone!

The object of the game was to crack the code to open the box. Inside the box was a small selection of sweets so that their effort would be worth it! In order to crack the code they had to find and solve 8 clues, and then follow the code breaking instructions.

They were given the instructions of what they needed to crack the code which would involve using the answer to clues to do some maths!

First, I enlisted Jess’ help to draw a map of our house. I got her to think about where the big furniture was in each room and where the doors were so the map would be an accurate representation. When she had finished I marked the location of all the clues on the map with red crosses.

The clues were all things they would either have learnt in school, or would be able to find by looking up in books. No internet allowed! I wanted them to use the index and to think about what book might have the information they needed.

They worked together to hunt out the answers:

and then to do the maths!

All in all, the game occupied them for a good 45 minutes. 45 minutes in which they looked at books and completed maths problems- enjoying themselves the whole time! They were very proud of themselves when they entered the code onto the box and were able to open it to reveal the sweets inside! The game took me 15 minutes to set up and cost nothing (the sweets were already in the cupboard) so it was a real winner!

Definitely something to try on a rainy day with your own little ones!

Have you come up with any great games to entertain the kids on a rainy day inside?

 

Food baby or baby bump?

As a human being living in today’s world body image is a huge issue. Men and women alike struggle with it on a daily basis. This doesn’t get any easier as a pregnant woman!

Pregnancy leaves me constantly torn between loving my baby bump and severe insecurities. On the one hand, my baby bump is a sign of my baby growing inside of me, healthy and strong. On the other, I look in the mirror and do not see the body I was used to. I’ve turned into Miss Blobby.

Mr_Blobby,_2009

I think part of the problem is the stage of pregnancy i’m at. I’m not at a stage where strangers in the street would look at me and know “Yes, she’s definitely pregnant!”. Fully dressed I can quite easily pass as someone who is just a bit chubby. Strangers are more likely to think “Yes, she ate all the pies!”.

Dealing with all these changes to your body is especially hard for someone with a history of eating disorders. I’ve been that girl who starved herself, sometimes going weeks at a time without eating anything at all. When I did eat I would obsessively exercise to always be in negative calories. I’ve been that girl who made herself sick after every meal or who binged on large amounts of junk food just to throw it back up. At my worst, my hair was falling out, I was cold all the time and my periods stopped for over a year. At the time I still didn’t believe I was skinny enough.

10574349_10204230595422737_541318504691791170_n

I fought long and hard to get healthy again just to have the possibility of getting pregnant. Despite my insecurities, body image has to be low priority right now because my baby is all that matters. It needs me to eat well, and regularly, so that it can continue its magical journey of growing from that tiny seed into the baby it will become.

The most important thing right now is to focus on a positive mindset and the wonder of pregnancy. Being grateful that I have a partner who supports me and loves me and (claims to) still find me me attractive even though i’m slowly turning into a beach ball!! I am not someone that finds it easy to love myself but that’s something i’m really working on right now. As women, our bodies are incredible things and the changes they are capable of is beyond comprehension. I’m trying to focus on the magic “there’s a real life human being growing inside that tummy” rather than the negative “gosh is that a double chin forming?”.

Being kind to yourself and refusing to listen to that negative little voice is half the battle. The rest is remembering that every mark, every bump and change in your body is one step closer to that bundle of joy this has all been for. It’s all so totally worth it.

I will also be seeking support after baby is born to make sure I never go back to that negative place where calories and food consumed everything. Right now it’s easy to eat and take care of my body because i’m doing it for baby not me. But I need to remember that after baby is born I still need to take care of myself for baby’s sake! I want my son or daughter to love themselves, just the way they are. To look after themselves and treat themselves with kindness and love. How can they ever do that if they look at Mummy and see someone who hates themselves and abuses their body?

I am human, I am a woman and I am insecure. I am not perfect. But I will always do my best to be the Mummy this baby deserves.

I found a great quote online regarding body image and pregnancy:

c849ec50a51824224197ed0ee8aa4950

If you’re struggling with body image, pregnant or not, know that you’re not alone! Loving yourself can be damn hard some days. But know that you are worthy of love no matter how hard that can be to believe some times. Don’t be afraid to seek help and to talk to those close with you about how you feel- our biggest critics are always ourselves.

So how do/ did you deal with body image issues? When pregnant or not?

The 2nd Trimester “Glow”

I’m 17 weeks pregnant, in the second trimester, and I feel like I’ve been robbed!

“The second trimester is wonderful!” I was promised.

“The nausea will go away, your energy will come back and you’ll look like a goddess!” they said.

“You’ll have more energy than the Duracell bunny!” they claimed.

“You’ll look like a hair and nail supermodel!” they assured.

The Big Fat Activity Book for Pregnant People (Jordan Ried and Erin Williams, 2017 ) says this about the second trimester:

“You step out of a dense fog that smells like feet and emerge onto a sun-drenched plain where Legends of the Fall-era Brad Pitt is standing with his arms outstretched. You float toward him, a flock of adorable little cartoon budgies chirping at your side. Your hair is long and flowing, bedecked with a crown of lotus flowers. You take a deep, meditative breath (because your stomach has not yet moved your lungs into your shoulders, and you can still do this), and you do not sneeze. In the second trimester, there is no pollen.”

All this magical second trimester stuff is a load of B*****s!

Myth 1- Your nausea will vanish  and you’ll be able to eat everything again!

Now I haven’t really thrown up since about 7 weeks (apart from the odd occasion). But my nausea and food aversions have been a constant friend. The mere thought of beef makes my stomach lurch. The other day I tried to eat a chocolate biscuit and spent the next few hours curled up feeling sorry for myself and trying not to puke. I’m still restricted to about 5 foods and this doesn’t seem likely to change any time soon!

Myth 2- Your energy will return, in fact you’ll be full of energy!

My energy started to return a bit and I got seriously excited. I thought great! I can get through a day without napping! This lasted about a week. I’m back to feeling like a zombie, desperate for bed by 8pm and struggling to prop my eyes open by about 1pm.

Myth 3- Your hair will be luxurious and shiny!

The only thing anyone will notice about my hair is the abomination that is my roots! I spent a year gradually transforming from dark brunette to light blonde and had nearly reached the white blonde I dreamed of when I fell pregnant. Now I have brown roots halfway down my head, I dread to think how bad they’ll be by May!

I’ve read plenty that says it’s safe to dye your hair from the second trimester on wards and i’m sure the risk is minimal. However, there are still a few things that mean I won’t be dying my hair again until baby is born (And then, sadly, I may just return to brunette).

a) Money. I’m trying  to save money right now and I can’t afford the £60 odd every 12 weeks to maintain my hair. I certainly won’t be able to afford this on maternity leave which is why brunette may make a return.

b) Colours can affect you differently when your pregnant. Imagine going to get it dyed and instead of that glorious blonde you get a hay stack yellow!

c) Sensitivity! Even using a face mask for sensitive skin makes my skin feel like it’s going to peel off at the moment. I’m not sure I could risk hair dye!

So for the time being my hair is going to remain a tragedy.

Myth 4- You’ll glow!

People do keep telling me that i’m glowing. Sadly, I then look in the mirror and can be pretty confident that the glow is just grease. I’m greasier than I was as a teenager (and just as spotty). Seriously, I haven’t had an outbreak like this since I was 15 and I forgot how awful it was! Not to mention the fact that on the rare occasion my skin isn’t greasier than a chip pan it’s dry as sand instead. I’m constantly torn between face products for greasy and dry skin and I cannot wait for a return to normalcy!

I’m still holding out some hope that the magical second trimester will make an appearance soon. There’s still plenty of time for it to show. But I can’t help glaring jealousy at all the lucky women who felt instantly amazing at 13 and 14 weeks and are currently smugly revelling in their second trimester goddessness. When is it my turn?!

What about you? Did you experience a magical second trimester or do you think it’s all b******s too?

Cats and babies

Since I found out I was pregnant one of my biggest concerns has been how my first baby will cope. Charlie. I have had her since she was 9 weeks old and she is very much a Mummy’s girl!

IMG_562820181018_104306

It was a really big adjustment for her when we moved in with Jack and the kids. She still hides every time the kids are here because she just can’t handle the noise! She follows me around everywhere like my own personal daemon. She also sleeps in our bed with us every night (usually being spooned!).

I worry about how to keep the baby safe around her when it arrives. You hear horror stories of cats scratching babies or worse, suffocating them. I also worry about how to make sure she still feels loved and part of the family. I don’t want her to spend her whole life shut in one room or to feel neglected.

So what can be done? How much risk is there with a cat and a baby? How can we reach a happy compromise?

Getting the Cat Ready for Baby’s Arrival

Cats are creatures of habit and get easily stressed when there is change. This can lead to the cat acting out when there is a new baby, scratching, peeing outside of their litter tray etc. So how can we minimise the stress?

My two big concerns are sleeping arrangements and affection so I’ve covered them separately below. However, I’ve found lots of tips online for helping your cat adjust to a new baby. Here are the best 10:

  1. Introduce the cat to baby sounds before it arrives. Apparently you can get CDs of babies crying to prepare the cat (although this doesn’t sound like much fun for anyone!)
  2. Start wearing baby powder and lotion to get it used to baby smells.
  3. Establish a routine and stick to it. This means feeding your cat at the same time, emptying it’s litter tray and all those things. Essentially making sure your cat experiences as little change as possible.
  4. Make sure to stay on top of fleeing and worming treatment to avoid the spread of infection or diseases to baby before it’s born or after.
  5. Consider using calming sprays like feliway around the house to help the cat feel settled and relaxed.
  6. Prepare cat safe spaces that are out of reach of babies and where it can escape to. Currently Charlie escapes to our bedroom to get away from the kids but this won’t be possible when baby is here and sleeping in there! She does have a lovely big cat tree in the dining room though where she can perch up high.
  7. If mummy and baby stay in hospital for a bit bring home baby blankets or clothes that have been near baby for the cat to smell.
  8. If you have friends with babies invite them over so your cat can get used to the strange little creatures being in the house.
  9. Change your cats environment slowly. Bring in baby furniture in stages not all at once so the cat can get used to it. Let it smell it and get used to it!
  10. When the baby does arrive stay calm when cat and baby meet. Don’t panic and stress your cat out but equally never leave them unsupervised.

Sleeping Arrangements

20181030_110956

According to Cats Protection the risk of a cat suffocating a baby is very low. I had heard that cats were attracted to the smell of milk on baby’s breath but Cats Protection says cats dislike the smell of human breath altogether! The majority of websites say that the risk of a cat suffocating a baby is very low but do recommend using a net over the cot in case the cat is attracted to baby’s warmth.

I have even read sites where people say they continued to let their cat sleep on their bed with the cot in the same room! They also recommend introducing the cat to the baby products (e.g. cot) early on and training it to learn it’s not allowed in it. I’m not sure how well this would work with Charlie, she still jumps on the kitchen sides when our backs are turned and she knows she’s not allowed up there!

Whilst it is reassuring to know the risk of suffocation is low I am not convinced I would take the risk and let Charlie stay sleeping on our bed. So this leaves us two choices

a) get Charlie gradually used to not sleeping in our bed before baby arrives
– this would be very difficult! Whenever Charlie is shut out of the room she scratches up the carpet keeping us all awake (not to mention the damage to the carpet!)

b) make Charlie an outside cat at nighttime when baby arrives
– this worries us because cats are more at risk of injury or death outside at night. She’s also such a friendly beautiful cat we worry she will get stolen (or poisoned, we’ve all ready the stories!)

I’m leaning towards option b because shutting her in a room at night seems cruel. Jack is definitely leaning towards option a if we can find away to make it workable.

Affection

Charlie is used to getting lots of attention and affection. However, she has got to used to having less when the kids are here which took some time! At first when the kids would sit on my lap she would try to scratch or bite them to warn them off her space. Now she just hides in our bedroom (Currently a kid free zone) and waits for me to come and find her.

The rest of the time she is never more than a few feet away from me (even when i’m in the bath!)

IMG_0629

Some sites recommend giving the cat lots of extra attention in the run up to baby coming. Some recommend withdrawing affection so they get used to you being less available before baby is here.

Neither seems a perfect solution to me. Personally I think we’re going to keep giving her lots of love and affection but maybe reduce it a bit. I’m also going to try and get Jack and the kids more involved in cuddle time (when she’ll let them).

Current mums what did you do to help your cat adjust and to protect baby? And expectant mothers, what are your plans?

Sources

https://www.cats.org.uk/caterham/learn/cats-and-babies

https://www.livescience.com/22449-do-cats-really-kill-babies-by-sucking-away-their-breath.html

https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cats-babies-debunk-myths-cat-health-parenting

https://community.babycentre.co.uk/post/a26192623/cat_sleeping_in_the_same_room_as_baby