Five telltale signs that you’re expecting

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In case you haven’t heard the news already, baby number two is on the way! 20 weeks on the way, in fact, and counting. I don’t where the time is going!

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while. I remember when I started up this blog it was something that I thought people would want to read about. Until you know for sure, how on earth can you tell¬†when you’re pregnant?? Are there any little hints and clues to¬†help you out before you can¬†take the test? It was something I googled far too much the first time around. I was a little bit obsessed. I had an app, I checked the forums. And do you know what? None of it helped! When I fell pregnant, I just knew. I had a gut feeling. This time it was even more obvious.

Thinking about it, though, there were some fairly clear telltale signs¬†to help me out before I finally bought that cheeky white stick for confirmation (I left it three weeks by the way. Check out the willpower!). It was a funny time to be in limbo. Christmas ‚Äď the season of goodwill and plenty of booze. Cue some sneaky drink swapping (Ryan was more than game!) and plenty of lame excuses. Not to mention the following…

Pass me the water

Thirsty. Oh so thirsty! I didn’t get that metallic taste that some people report, but what I did get was a really dry mouth. I still have it, to be fair. It won’t go away.¬†I can down as much water as I like, but I still feel like I’ve got a sponge in my mouth.

Time for a lie down

Maybe it was all the festivities getting on top of me, but I could seriously have curled up and slept for a week. The tiredness hit me like a wave. I’m not a daytime nap kind of girl, but in those early weeks I couldn’t help but drop off. Thankfully Ralphie joined me too.

Emotional wreck

It doesn’t take much to make me cry. But weeping over the fact that Ryan didn’t want to come to the cinema with me, even though there was nothing on that either of us wanted to watch. What a fool! I cried a lot. Some of it for legitimate reasons, but most of the time¬†not. I do want to go to the cinema now, though. Please someone take me to see Beauty and the Beast! And then I can cry over that too!

Keep that away from me

If there’s one thing you should know about me is that I love love love curry. Seriously, I could eat that stuff for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. It’s only serious willpower and my bowels (sorry!) that stop me. Oh and it turns out pregnancy does too. We had a takeaway curry delivered a good few weeks back and I couldn’t touch it. The smell, everything, made my stomach churn. Worry not, I’m over it now! Normal service has resumed.

Bump

Ok, I know this one is cheating, because it’s the most obvious sign going! And hopefully by the time you get a bump you already know you’re expecting. But seriously, I was not expecting to show so soon this time around. Apart from shouting about it now on social media, I’ve been fairly coy about this pregnancy so far. We waited until after the 12 week scan to tell most people, including my lovely mum and dad (I’m a chicken. What can I say?!). I waited even longer to tell work. 17 weeks to be exact. Turns out that most of them had suspected for weeks. The baggy tops and lack of coffee were quite a giveaway. And now there’s no hiding it. This bump of mine is huge!

Question is, am I growing a baby boy or baby girl? We get to find out very soon and I can’t bloomin’ wait!

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41 weeks in, 41 weeks out

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82 weeks. It sounds like a long time, but I can’t believe that we’ve reached this point already. 82 weeks – half of that time I was carrying my baby boy inside of me, and now I’ve got a bouncing nine month old dangling off my hip!

Time sure does go fast when you don’t really want it to. Of course, it does quite the opposite too. I remember that last two weeks of my pregnancy dragging like anything. Patience really isn’t a virtue of mine, and the anticipation of finally giving birth was almost too much to bear. Come 10 September (his due date), I was convinced he would arrive. I waltzed into work (it was probably more of a waddle) and waited for the drama to unfold. Nothing.

He made us wait a whole extra week before making his grand appearance. I spent those long days chomping on¬†pineapple, cleaning, polishing the leather sofa (as you do), watching crap TV, eating, hovering on all fours (to encourage him to turn), and pacing. Looking back on it, I wish I’d chilled out a bit more.

Fast forward to today – a whole 41 weeks on. Where do those baby days go? Ralphie is into EVERYTHING at the moment! He particularly loves¬†climbing up our¬†glass coffee table (bought before we’d had a chance to think about how stupid a purchase it would be with children in the house) in pursuit of the remote control. Seriously, what is it with babies and electrical items?

It saddens me that I no longer refer to Ralphie’s age in weeks anymore, but I couldn’t let this milestone¬†pass us by without a mention. I proudly grew him inside of me for 41 whole weeks. And here he is on the other side – 41 weeks old. We did it!

I thought I’d take a nice photo of the two of us to mark the occasion. As you can see, that didn’t quite happen. Our selfies need some serious work. This first one is my favourite!

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Keeping (not so) mum

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Nearly seven months into motherhood and I certainly wouldn’t call myself an expert, but I have picked up some tricks of the trade along the way. Would I have done anything differently so far if I could do it all again? In the most part, probably not. But, upon reflection, there are some things I wish I had known already¬†before my bun exited the oven.

It got me talking to other mums about their journey so far. If they could go back to the beginning, what pearls of wisdom do they wish they had been privy to? Their insights were brilliant Р so much so that I felt compelled to compile their answers and share them with the world.

So here it is: my ‘motherhood 101’ to help get you through those crazy, early weeks. Thanks for the help if you contributed!

Don’t fret – that baby will come when it’s ready!

Try the old wives’ tales if you must, but your baby will arrive when he or she is good and ready. Ralphie was a week late and in between deep cleaning the house, I tried it all – I even ate a whole pineapple in one sitting. But in the end, he came on his terms, regardless of how many curries or pineapples I consumed, or long walks I went on. You’re allowed to feel fed up and impatient – we all do – but try and relax. Put those feet up for the last time!

The pain of giving birth endures

Ok, ok – you’re rolling you’re eyes and saying “no shit Shirlock – of course giving birth is painful!” But no matter who I spoke to who’d already been through it and no matter how many episodes of One Born Every Minute I watched, nothing could prepare me for the pain. And if you’re yet to experience it, I’m sorry, I don’t even know how to describe it. All I will say is “wow” – it takes your breath away!

But us mums also wish that we’d¬†been better prepared for the fact¬†that things would be pretty painful for quite a while afterwards. I ended up having a c-section, so the pain endured for quite a long time in the end. Give your body as much of a break as you can – tricky when you’re not getting much sleep, I know – and allow it to recover.

Buy maternity pads – and thick ones. You will need them

While you’re at it, you may as well also buy a pack of big pants should the dreaded c-section happen. A friend gave me such advice and I ignored her. More fool me! It’s not fair to send your man out to shop for these things. It’s a minefield for them out there. One mum admitted that her fella came back with breast pads!

You can say no to guests

This one sounds a bit scroogey, but a lot of mums mentioned this and I agree – the initial influx of guests is totally overwhelming. We didn’t say no, and at times it did get a bit much. In hindsight, I think we would have spread the visits out a little more. One mum suggested the total opposite: have a big welcome to the world party and get everyone out of the way in one go! I like your thinking.

You will cry – a lot

I checked – this isn’t just me. I’m a crier – I cry watching films; I cry when I’m happy; gosh, I even cry saying bye to my mum sometimes! Add a few post-pregnancy hormones into the mix and blimey¬†– that’s quite a lethal concoction! Cry away ladies; you’re allowed to. But if it’s all getting too much, please do say so.

Breastfeeding isn’t that easy to begin with

For some mums it’s a bloomin’ nightmare. I was one of the lucky ones, but even I will admit that it wasn’t exactly easy to start off with. Until my milk came in, Ralphie was feeding almost hourly, and it hurt! Pass me the Lansinoh, again.

And if it doesn’t work out, don’t worry. Formula fed babies are happy too! You’ve got enough on your plate to deal with than to be stressing about how you’re feeding your little one. Just get them fed!

Development milestones are a rough approximation

During my pregnancy, I regularly checked an app that told me what¬†was going on inside that bump of mine, and I was totally fascinated. One week my baby was the size of a pea, the next an apple. The app continued after birth and within a week or so I had stopped looking at it altogether. Why? Because I’ve got my baby in my arms now. I can see exactly what he’s doing! And so what if he hasn’t rolled over by the time the app thinks he should have done. As all¬†mums can testify, every child is different.

Sleep is overrated

Just kidding! Sleep is great! I’m just a bit bitter that I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in over six months. Does it bother me? Sometimes it does, and other times I’m happy to just go with the flow. I know a lot of mums whose babies slept through from a few weeks old – you lucky things. And I also know many more whose babies haven’t and still don’t. What are we doing differently? Probably not a lot. Again, refer to the last point: every child is different. They will all figure it out¬†eventually, I hope.

Some days, getting dressed is an achievement

I have a whole new level of appreciation for mothers. When I turn up to our mum and baby groups, I look around the room and think, well done guys – we’ve all made it out the house and we’re dressed! Maternity leave is not the time for taking up a new hobby. If you get a chance then great. But being a mum really is a 24/7 job – no coffee breaks, no lunch breaks and no toilet breaks.

It’s absolutely¬†fine¬†to ring 111

Before my pregnancy, going to the doctors was a very rare occurrence. And then I was hit with regular midwife appointments, trips to the hospital for scans, and so on. It was all a bit of a shock to the system. I have really got my money’s worth out of the NHS this past year!

Since I’ve had Ralphie, I’ve needed the NHS just as much, and a lot of mums have done too. Being solely responsible for a tiny human is scary. If he develops a rash, or spots, or vomits throughout the night, or has a wheeze when he coughs, I want to know that he’s going to be ok. I called 111 for the first time ever the other week when Ralphie kept projectile vomiting. They booked us into an out of hours GP who checked him over and, thankfully, said he was fine. It really helped to set my mind at ease.

You will get through this

I wish I had the confidence I do now, back then. But the only reason I am more confident is because I’ve learned so much already. As mums go, I think I’m pretty chilled, but I’ve still worried, panicked and doubted myself along the way. Many of us have admitted to frequently checking our babies are breathing when they’re asleep (the irregular breathing noises they make don’t help!) and I think I will continue to do that for years to come.

These babies of ours are so precious, but they’re also pretty durable. Trust¬†your gut instinct and you won’t go far wrong. And most of all, enjoy it. I already can’t believe where the last few months have gone. It won’t be long before Ralphie’s looking after me!

The great hair loss

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I keep finding strands of my¬†hair EVERYWHERE at the moment. A large collection seems to have gathered on my bathroom floor, it’s near my hairdryer, on my pillow, in the shower; I even found a strand in Ralphie’s nappy the other day. The hoovering is relentless.

I wouldn’t say I exactly glowed during my pregnancy, but I pulled the look off as well as I could. I remember my hairdresser asking me if I thought my hair had got thicker; we both agreed it hadn’t. But looking back on it, maybe it had. It must have! Because it sure isn’t thick now.

Ralphie pulling it doesn’t exactly help. I’m very tempted to get it all cut off again, and today I’m having one of those days where I really miss my short hair. Perhaps I will treat myself to a radical new do soon.

I thought I’d avoided this post-pregnancy phenomenon. But five months in, and the hair loss got me. And I’m still shedding plenty. I’m losing enough to create a wig – albeit a scraggy one!

But I tell you what, other than the daily clear up which is bugging me a lot, I don’t really mind. And here’s why. I don’t have a single spot on my face. If you saw me this time last year, you wouldn’t have said I had the best of complexions. But those hormones surging through my body have really sorted this face of mine out. It’s a bloomin’ miracle.

Rubbish hair, alright face; swings and roundabouts!

Two pink lines

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Two blog posts in a day. I must be on a roll! But I couldn’t let today pass without mentioning that it was a year ago today that I found out I was pregnant.

I thought this particular moment in my life would be one of the most exciting things to happen to me, and it was, but it was also a bit of an anti-climax. I’ll explain why.

For some mad reason, I decided to take the test at around 3am in the morning. I had this gut feeling that I was pregnant and I couldn’t hold back the urge to see if I was right. So up I got and did the test, and there they were, those two perfect pink lines. My heart was absolutely pounding with excitement, but all I could do was go back to bed and wait until a more reasonable hour to wake Ryan and tell him. Did I go back to sleep? Of course I didn’t!

Funnily enough I don’t really remember Ryan’s reaction as I was so knackered from being up since 3am! He was excited but he was also much more sensible than me about it all and said we should hold off on telling anyone until we had the scan.

And that was that. The day I found out I was pregnant I spent the whole day at work absolutely exhausted because I’d got up at a ridiculously early hour!

It was also the most infuriating thing having to keep such big news a secret (I may not have quite kept my side of the bargain, but it turns out Ryan sneakily told a few people too!). Let me tell you, those 12 weeks until the scan dragged like anything. But here we are today and I’ve got my adorable baby boy in my arms and I feel like the luckiest lady in the world. Admittedly, I didn’t quite feel quite as lucky when he was crying at me at 1am this morning, but he has since been forgiven.

The best year yet

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As years go, 2015 has to be my favourite so far. What a year it has been!

We’re having a baby!

I told Ryan that all I wanted for Christmas was a baby and blimey he delivered! I was convinced it wouldn’t happen for us that month, but when I started feeling strange (I can’t put my finger on it, but something was different), I decided to take a test. It was 5am in the morning and I couldn’t believe it when I saw those two pink lines.

It took me a little while to pluck up the courage to tell my mum and dad. I knew they would be so excited, but when it came to actually saying the words out loud, I chickened out on a number of occasions. Mum finally got it out of me when she was booking a skiing holiday. She was trying to get Ryan and I to commit to some dates we could take off work, and I had to let her know that I couldn’t go skiing as I was carrying her grandchild. Her reaction was brilliant; it still makes me smile. My dad on the other hand…I don’t know if he’s over the shock yet!

Moving house

Despite loving living in our city centre flat, it was always our plan to move into a little house away from the hustle and bustle. At the beginning of May, we packed up everything we owned and carted it a couple of miles up the road into our new home. Ryan, my parents and my brother painted the entire house in a single weekend, while I stayed away from the paint fumes and cleaned the bathrooms!

Having some outside space also made a massive difference as we entered the warm summer months. Ryan and his dad built a little decking space for some seating, and it proved an ideal place for hosting the first of two baby shower parties put on by my lovely friends.

My growing bump

As bumps go, mine was pretty huge. It also had all the characteristics of a beach ball! Wherever I went, it got some lovely reactions. In fact, being pregnant made me realise how lovely people are. I got well wishes from strangers I passed in the street, the people who served me at the checkout, the postman… I miss being pregnant because now I’m back to being a regular person and you don’t get half as much attention!

I was 34 weeks pregnant when I was bridesmaid for my cousin’s wedding in the Lake District and everybody thought I would pop that weekend. I didn’t, but I was absolutely huge by this point. Little did I know I would have to wait another 7 weeks before I would finally meet my baby boy.

As the summer went on, my bump got bigger and bigger, and so did my swollen feet. Regardless, I carried on walking the three mile roundtrip to work until I finally gave up one day past my due date. I know everyone in my office thought I was mental as I tipped up to work that day. It all added to the drama though, didn’t it. I’m still disappointed I didn’t go into labour at work.

18 September

A day I will never forget! I went into labour on the evening of the 17th – a full week past my due date. Ryan didn’t believe me at first. As each day past my due date went by, I started reading into every little ache and niggle in the hope that something was happening. So when something finally did start happening, it seemed almost too good to be true. The contractions kicked in properly at about 7pm and from the onset were only about 5 minutes apart. That was fun!

I didn’t write a birth plan as my only plan all along was to get my baby out safely. It’s probably just as well really because I ended up having an emergency c-section. Hearing Ralphie’s cries as he entered the world at 2.28am was the biggest relief. I don’t think I stopped smiling for the next few days.

Getting to know Ralphie

Our baby boy is just over three months old and I already can’t believe how much he has changed. My not so little chunk is getting chunkier by the day and that glint he has in his eye tells me I’ve got one cheeky boy on my hands.

Ralphie’s energy is boundless; no wonder he needs so much milk. He insists on standing rather than sitting. He thrashes his legs when I change his nappy and get him dressed. And although he’s not able to move himself around yet, I don’t think it’ll be long before he figures it out.

Just this Christmas I can already see the change in him. He looks older and he’s really learning how to use that voice of his.

I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store for us, but 2015 is going to take some beating. 2016 here we come!

My tiger tummy

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As pregnancies go, mine was pretty much as straightforward as they come. I also didn’t develop a single stretch mark as my tummy ballooned, until the last week that is.

Ralph was due on 10 September, but he showed no signs of making an appearance – so much so that I walked into the office and did a full day’s work. That evening I noticed a vivid red mark on my tummy that I remember gleefully showing Ryan as it looked a bit like a lightning bolt (yes, Harry Potter was referenced!). The next day he also didn’t arrive (so I went into work again) nor did he make an appearance the day after that, and so on.

As I impatiently waited, my tummy developed stretch mark after stretch mark – I was literally bursting at the seams! My baby boy weighed 8lbs 3 when he was finally born by emergency caesarian section in the early hours of 18 September. I’m 5ft 2 at best and I really don’t think my body was set up to carry such a heavy baby! And that’s why I now have what I like to call a tiger tummy – literally stripe upon stripe criss crossing across my stomach, not to mention the rather impressive scar too.

I don’t really mind. I was more relieved that the swelling in my legs and feet went down so I could wear something more substantial than a pair of flip flops! Bio-Oil is helping and I’m sure, with time, the marks will become less vivid. Whether I’ll feel comfortable wearing a bikini next summer is anybody’s guess – although this isn’t something I tend to do even on the hottest of days here in England!