University Year 1 is Over!

At 36 weeks and 4 days pregnant, with an induction on the very near horizon (more about that soon!), I have officially submitted my Open University S112 remote exam paper at 10:43 am today.

I am ecstatic to say I have finished my two 60 credit modules (so 120 in total – the same as a full time degree year) for the summer, and am looking ahead to year number 2 at Open University in October. With a baby swiftly on the way, I am going to pair down next year to just a 60 credit year, taking on half the work this year has brought me.

With confidence that I have passed, needing only 12 marks in this exam to qualify as a pass, I am very happy to settle now into full-time mum preparation and duties.

I will admit, this exam took me by surprise at how ‘easy’ I found it. In reality, in any normal year, this exam would have taken place at a location with a 3 hour time limit and no notes available to use. As it stood these last 3 days, we were all able to take 3 days (ending 23:59 Wednesday 9 June) to submit our paper using an open book policy.

I found several members of the OU S112 group on Facebook lamenting the difficulty of this paper, not because it was hard as an open book exam, but because had it have been a 3 hour time limit with no notes, none of us would have done well. I’m certain they have changed the format – but I’m so grateful for the remoteness of the exam for allowing me the time and resources to do well. Because I know I can, given the right environment, and an exam hall unfamiliar to me, with a time limit and no notes, is not the environment I would thrive in!

Having done a year with Open University, and a full time year at that, I would definitely recommend the OU to anyone wanting to retrain, study for fun or for a change of career, and anyone who has never studied. As someone who has previously attained a bachelors degree, I understand better how university works and there is a lot less to learn about referencing, the format of essays and papers, and the library system for example. However, there is plenty of help and advice available, plus the continued support from fellow students who are happy to both ask and answer all those ‘silly’ questions (spoiler: no question is silly when you’re new to this).

I would fully recommend studying with the Open University to anyone. Thank you for a great first year, and looking forward to my next biology-specific modules next year.

Hurry up and open the student finance pages please!

(Yes, you can get finance for the OU!)

2nd/3rd Trimester Must-Haves

For myself, the second and third trimesters of pregnancy have rolled into one. Possibly due to the fact that time just flies when you’re preparing for a baby and you know time is limited, but also because of the many appointments I have had on the way, making daily countdowns of ‘weeks to go’ a thing from the first trimester because I was so… damn… busy.

I did a previous 5 First Trimester Must-Haves post and here is my follow up.

If you’d like to see the previous 5 essentials on my pregnancy journey, or anything else about my early pregnancy, then I’ve selected a few posts to show here if you want a quick link.

Since I haven’t quite popped yet, I’m still technically in my third trimester. So here’s another link with my Birth Plan, which will be cross-referenced when I finally do give birth to see what happened, what changed and why. Spoiler: Probably not a lot will go to plan!

So without further blabbing, here are my 5 must have items or products for the second and third trimester of pregnancy.

‘Your’ Chair ๐Ÿช‘

Be it a dedicated, newly bought, relaxer 6000 epic chair, a humble comfy chair from your nana’s old house, or a secondhand rocking nursing chair (with missing footstool like we found). A chair that is just for you – comfort as the highest priority you could *almost* sleep completely comfortably in it – is a must.

Why? Because you’ll get tired. REALLY, REALLY tired. And somehow all the pillows in the world won’t do, and you need a very specific pillow with this particular blanket and your partner will hate that is covers the sofa and you’ll hate when he moves this perfection of a comfort you made yesterday and it’s not worth the hassle. Get your own chair, and live in it. Trust me.

All the Snacks ๐Ÿฅจ

Remember the breadsticks to stave off nausea in the first trimester? Well, the nausea might have gone (I’m so sorry if it hasn’t), but now you’ll find yourself perpetually hungry. Not ravenous, just on the snack hunt almost all the time.

So be prepared, buy those ‘healthy’ biotic yoghurt drinks and fruit bars, get a stash of easy, grab and go snacks and portion them out. Olives, nuts, dried fruits, popcorn, rice cakes, Options hot chocolate for that low calorie chocolate fix (seriously I love this stuff, expensive but worth it), and any other small, portionable snack you can find.

A Project/Game/Book ๐Ÿ‘พ

For a lot of women, working as much as possible as close to the due date as possible is a normal occurrence. But for some, maternity leave starts earlier than intended or, since Covid-19, they already worked from home and are getting so bored. Finding things to do in the pregnancy downtime that won’t tire you out too much but still leaves you feeling accomplished each day is a blessing.

For myself, I play The Sims 4, blog here, and am finishing my Open University modules just now. These have kept me going and feeling like I’m not just a massive blob demanding food every 10 minutes, living in my pyjamas and messing up the house for my partner as I lug myself around, tiredly.

Non-Wired Bras & Extenders ๐Ÿ‘™

There’s nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable in the wrong size bra, and sadly, your breasts are going to be changing a lot in this time. From start to finish you may find yourself 2 sizes up in both cup and width, but this doesn’t happen at once. So if you’ve been proactive and bought a load of bras in preparation… be prepared to wait, and need an in between size for a while before you get to your ‘final form’.

Even now, as I come up to finishing my third trimester, my breasts have still not got into final form. When the milk comes on postnatal, they’ll change again. So, I would recommend getting a one size up in both cup and width non-wired bra, then wait and see what size nursing/maternity bra you need later. And buy up those bra extenders as much as you can – they’re a godsend for keeping your purchases usable!

A Pregnancy App ๐Ÿ“ฒ

As much as you think you’ll be keeping such a good count on the days and weeks of pregnancy, life is also happening around you. From appointments, to family events, to emergencies and holidays, there will be times when tracking your pregnancy day by day falls to the wayside. You don’t forget your pregnant -but how many weeks am I now? Which trimester am I in? How long do I have to go!?

My go-to pregnancy app is the simplest one yet, and is literally just the app I used to track my period pre-pregnancy. I adore it’s simplicity because so many others can be bogged down with unnecessary app screen extras. The extras are there on this one, but behind other tabs and links, so I don’t have to sift through all that before seeing my week and day count, my baby size compared with fruit and veggies (adorable), and the ability to track my symptoms.

Seriously, check out Period Tracker, My Calendar on Google, and on Apple App Store. It’s simple, pretty cartoon designs are adorable and I can’t recommend it enough for both period tracking, trying to conceive and this pregnancy. It even has an option now to click a bit button saying “My baby was born!” which is scary as hell, but at 35 weeks that’s entirely possible!

As an alternative, I also use Pregnancy+ (Google, Apple) sometimes to add a little more information, and to see the 3D spinning image of my baby – wow!


So there you have it, my 5 essentials for the second and third trimester of pregnancy. They may differ to other peoples, but these are the things I needed. Special mention goes out to the pregnancy belt I use sometimes to help my back, but it isn’t essential to everyone, and really, I just have awful posture when sitting at my desk – oops.

I’d also like to mention my pregnancy pillow is now relegated to the nursing chair I spend my tired moments in, and it wraps perfectly around me to make it the comfiest, cosiest place to sit in the house. Instead of that in the bed, I use a v-pillow we’ve had since forever – a perfect substitute that means my partner J and I can still snuggle and he doesn’t have to move the entire wall of pillow between us to do so.

Thanks for reading!

My (High Risk) Birth Plan

Some things you may not know about me – I am 35 weeks pregnant (tomorrow) and am considered high risk because I have a heart condition called Focal Ventricular Fibrillation!

Today, I am going to share my new, revised birth plan after consulting with my anaesthesiologist, obstetrician and midwife over the best and safest way for me to give birth considering the risks involved. This is completely personalised for myself, and won’t necessarily be what anyone else would want, choose or be advised to do in their pregnancies.

As a preface, I just want to say that I live in the UK and the NHS has been fantastic at not only saving my life in 2019 but taking me and my pregnancy with possible complications very, very seriously. I am forever grateful to them and to the universal healthcare we have in this country, especially during a time of great strain on the NHS such as Covid-19.

That being said, I want to be as honest as possible about my pregnancy and journey by the time I give birth and will be doing a full run down of not only my pregnancy, but the many, many appointments I had, and the birth plan versus the actual birth story which will all come along as blog posts in the future.

The Original Plan

Me being me, I had a plan all set up in my mind of what I would like when it came to my labour. I read and reread others birth plans, watched a ton of ‘One Born Every Minute’ on 4oD (old as it may be!) and read so many natural, epidural, forceps, vacuous, and caesarean birth stories as I could.

I even took the time to make an A4 birth plan sheet, complete with pictures and cool fonts, to take with me when I went into labour. Little did I know, this plan would have to be altered somewhat.

My main concerns were avoiding an epidural so I can stay active and let gravity help me in labour, as well as not being forced to lay down on a bed in order to push, as I feel this to be uncomfortable and the hardest position in which to birth. Everything else was negotiable (and let’s be honest, it all is negotiable when it becomes a risky situation).

A Birth Plan for a Mum with a Heart Condition

After speaking to the anaesthesiologist and my obstetrician for a follow up recently, then *very basic* plan is as follows;

  • Induction? ๐Ÿ’Š

    If I get to 10 days over my due date (3rd July!) I may be induced, and I’m okay with that.

    This will consist of a stretch and sweep, and then if nothing happens for a day or two, I’ll get the medicated pessary to kickstart labour.

  • The Latent Phase ๐ŸŒ™

    • At home, but let the hospital know.
    • Don’t take Clexane (enoxiparin sodium) blood thinner now as if I bleed in labour it would make it worse.
    • Monitor contractions, keep stress down.
    • If palpitations occur, go straight into hospital.
  • Active Labour ๐Ÿ˜ฎโ€๐Ÿ’จ

    • Bypass the Maternity Ward and get a private room for 1-to-1 care.
    • Possibly hooked to an ECG monitor for my heart.
    • J can be with me in a private room, the whole time!
    • Mobile Epidural as soon as possible, allowing movement but keeping stress due to pain to a minimum.
    • My stress must be low to reduce stress on the heart.
    • Keep moving – gravity helps!
    • Epidural can be topped up to allow for caesarean if needed.
  • Birth ๐Ÿ‘ถ๐Ÿป

    • An epidural of any kind makes it more likely that forceps or vacuous will be required.
    • Delayed cord clamping if possible.
    • Injection to release the placenta quicker is fine.
    • Skin to skin for at least an hour after birth.
    • Breastfeeding as soon as possible.
    • Kept in hospital a day longer to ensure no adverse heart problems occur.

Will any of this work how I hope it will? Will my heart play ball and allow a vaginal birth like I want?

35 weeks and counting…

The ‘Weight Worry’ Cycle

YouTube is playing Supersize vs. Superskinny in the background, I’m Googling the NHS Weight Loss Plan and looking into hypnotherapy for weight loss. It must be that time again…

The Weight Worry Cycle (as I have named it) happens every few months or so for me, during which time I look at pictures of people who lost weight, naturally slim people, and Google every possible way of dieting without dieting.

I love food. When I am hungry, I make more than I should make for a single portion for myself. And when I do, I eat it all, because guilt makes me finish every bite.

Every single bite. And now I have an idea!

This time, because we have all been there on diets, I have a *new* plan. I am documenting this idea in my blog so that I have a little bit of public support and comeback on my plan. I will update here to tell you how it is going, and definitely make a post about how it will work when I have my baby – because that is a major change in my life that definitely will disrupt everything!

Sharnie’s Weight Management Plan

Eat Less, More Often!

BreakfastAM SnackLunchPM SnackMain Meal
Small MealSmall SnackSmall MealSmall SnackMedium Meal
Cereal
Fruit
Toast
Fruit
Toast
Cup-a-Soup
Noodles
Sandwich
Salad
Fruit
Crisps
Cup-A-Soup
Fish dish
Pasta dish
Tortilla dish
8AM11AM2PM5PM8PM
Examples of the meals or snacks I might have. Eat about every 3 hours.

This might sound like a strange way of dealing with my portion sizes, but I know in myself I’ve always ‘waited’ from guilt for the time I ‘should’ be eating, i.e. Breakfast time, Lunch time and evening time is always at the right times… and deviating makes me feel guilty. What for? If I’m hungry I should eat, or else fall into the trap of bigger portions because I’m so hungry and longer waits for my body between food.

My meal plan is just an example, but I’m thinking more small snacks and less big portions each meal might help me keep the whole amount throughout the day down. Who knows?

I’m going to be trying to do this from now onwards, discounting special days and events, or days in which I cannot eat every 3 hours such as during my labour/delivery and early days of my baby.

Does anyone else go through cycles like this? Where you feel determined and motivated but ultimately lose interest because you’re not losing the weight or even that the food you eat is just not satisfying you, and you fail. Then you get confident enough to think ‘bugger this diet’ and give up. I do this over an over. This is what I call the ‘Weight Worry’ Cycle.

So this time it is not a diet as such, it’s a change of pace. I can’t believe I’m even thinking about weight loss and wanting to look like people online when I’m 7-8 months pregnant. What is wrong with enjoying my nice bump? Nothing. Yet I can’t get the worry of my weight out of my head right now. So this is my very tentative, possibly unhelpful plan.

What do you think of my ‘diet’? Would this work? Have you ever tried a ‘diet’ like this? Let me know below!

Asking the Universe

I am not thoroughly convinced I should admit to this, but it was a post I was inspired to write due to recent, and not-so-recent events coming closer to what I dream of. So here goes.

Once upon a time… when I was in my mid-teens, I stumbled upon the idea of manifesting your intentions. The story of how I found and understood this phenomenon is rather inconsequential – a holiday abroad (one of only two I’ve ever had and both to the same place), a family friend describes ‘manifesting’ a parking space, and a rough stumbling across The Secret by Rhonda Byrne online.

Since watching the… somewhat… ‘fascinating’ movie on The Secret, I tried my hand at manifesting what I wanted at the time, with what I can recall as little success.

Fast forward several years and I tried again, this time without constant visualisation, avoiding opposite thoughts and a whole lot of scrapbooking (seriously, think mood boards but for manifesting stuff). This time I decided to try a sort of prayer.
And ‘pray’ I did. I recall speaking aloud, writing the symbol of my intent to ‘pray’, which for me is the power symbol of a pentagram on my palm, and simply talking as though talking to some angels, or spirits, or the universe, or, as I said it, “anyone who will listen”.

I don’t actually believe anyone does listen. Except maybe the universe itself, if such a thing could listen. It simply solidifies my desire in my own mind, helping me to speak aloud my thoughts.

In my first attempt I was incredibly skeptical and never actually meant to start something I’d continue doing. I don’t recall if I ever got my wish that time. I continued to use it for manifesting the bus when I waited for it for work when it was late, or hope for a spontaneous day off due to ice or snow some mornings, nothing more than little things that weren’t particularly serious. I didn’t know if it worked, but crucially, it made me feel better.

I’ve been thinking back on the variety of requests I’ve made to the universe over the time I’ve been doing it. A lot of buses have come and gone, and nothing crazy has been manifested. But then again, I distinctly remember one night… period in full flow and hormones on overdrive, crying for no particular reason over the fact that I couldn’t imagine myself ever finding anyone to fall in love with. Tinder had failed me again, as I had flaked out on meeting someone or they’d ghosted me, and I was desperately upset.

I just couldn’t see how I was going to love one person, when so many caught my eye. I didn’t have queues of anyone wanting me, but I just couldn’t see how even if they did, I would be able to love only one and be perfectly satisfied. Because I fell in and out of love with movie characters, book characters, actors, singers, tinder guys, and the pretty man I passed once in town, all the time!

What a strange thing to cry about – I can’t imagine why people think hormones make you crazy, can you!?

Now, as anyone who has read my blog or knows me understands, I am most definitely deeply in love right now. And I’m not looking at other people, and haven’t needed to, since finding my partner J. We’ve been together for almost 2 years now, and through trauma and now pregnancy (which I think I recall also manifesting having children with J), he’s everything I wished for in that desperate, hormonal tear-filled plea.

Just yesterday, we received the news that we are indeed on the council housing list – something I also asked for in a simple plea out loud. And I’m contemplating my next move, asking for a house to become available for us!

Because maybe, it did work. Maybe, manifesting is a thing.
Or maybe, it makes me feel so much better to know my request, plea, prayer or whatever you want to call it, is out there.

Either way, I’m letting you all know that I am a crazy person who does this. And secondly, if you’re desperate, worried, and have a deep desire for something to happen that you have little control over, maybe it will help you too to ask for it aloud too.

It may not work, but what’s the harm in trying?

Maternity Benefits for Homemakers

As a newly unemployed mother-to-be, I have taken it upon myself to find out as much as possible what help I can get for myself and my growing family.

I had no prospect of finding a job while pregnant, since any job would have a trial period and I would inevitably have to inform them of the situation before that period was up. What business will hire someone just to pay them to not work? Well, not any I know.

Now at 31 weeks pregnant and counting, it’s quite obvious that I’m in no state to continue working indefinitely as I could pop at any time from about a month and half away.

So of course I am stuck, not that I am unhappy because if we can get by (a big if) I can be the stay-at-home Mum I always wanted to be. At least until they’re in regular nursery or school. This is fantastic if it works!

This is where Maternity Allowance might save you and me!

Maternity Allowance is an alternative to Maternity Pay, which is through your employer. Since I was employed close enough to the time of getting pregnant, I am entitled to pay, but since my employer had to let me go for non-pregnancy-related issues (Covid-19 closures of his income was the cause), I have a legitimate claim to some money from the UK government.

I have just received the text today stating that I will receive the around ยฃ462 every 4 weeks to pay my personal bills and pay my share of the house rent and half the bills. This is not the full amount possible for me to have received, and Iโ€™m not sure why I didnโ€™t get the full package, but here we are.

This is still a fantastic outcome though, and I am definitely grateful for it as I didn’t know it even existed before now. However…

This is not quite enough to cover my half of the household costs (rent, gas, electric etc.) and my personal bills. Helping my partner to not feel put upon with paying all the bills was my hope for getting Maternity Allowance. After not being in work anymore and not being able to receive Maternity Pay, this was what I felt to be my last option. Thank goodness I got this much.

Sadly, J will have to pay a little more than me in the household bills, and this makes me quite upset. I wanted to cover myself, I don’t want to be a ‘kept woman’ in any sense if I can help it. It makes me feel uncomfortable.

This situation is definitely not ideal, and I have no idea what I can do once my Maternity Allowance runs out. J would be paying the full rent, bills, and helping with my bills possibly, because even though I get University payments, they end in June and only restart in October – making the summer a scraping by kind of time. So I began looking at alternative help out there.

There is more!

If you find yourself in a mess, have lost a job due to Covid-19 or any other reason, please check out what Maternity benefits there may be for you out there.

Not only is there Maternity Pay from employers, there is direct Maternity Allowance from Gov.uk if you’ve lost or left a job recently, a Sure Start Maternity Grant of ยฃ500 to help you set up for baby if you’re eligible, Healthy Start Vouchers for those receiving benefit already, plus Universal Credit in general to check to see what you might be entitled to. It is always worth a check.

Once baby is born there is also the possibility of Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits and others from Universal Credit, plus Child Benefit which isn’t through Universal Credit and everyone with a child gets, to help pay for the most basic childcare needs.

I am in the process of applying for a few of these extras, including a Universal Credit application which I am almost certain won’t be granted – but you never know! If I get this, the Sure Start Maternity Grant may be available, plus the vouchers, and of course once the baby is here, the Child Benefit will be a welcome blessing.

So as J and I pull ourselves back into attempting to afford me as a stay-at-home Mum, we might also just find that it helps our case with the local council, which we have since put in yet another application to join the social housing list.

Silver linings and we live in hope. Good luck to anyone else out there needing a little bit of help!

The 3rd Trimester

As I type, I am currently 29 weeks pregnant and 1 day. I am marvelling at how quickly time has passed, even with days dragging by stuck at home due to lockdowns and restrictions.

We are almost finished with the nursery, a cot scheduled to be picked up (again, secondhand as we love to reuse and find bargains!) tomorrow, and only finishing touches like a rug, a blind and an ottoman box to store already gifted/bought/given toys and useful gadgets that have no home as of yet, to go.

The crib has been installed next to my side of the bed, a secondhand classic rocking cot, which doesn’t fit as nicely as I would have liked at my bedside due to the small space we have, but nevertheless will do it’s job perfectly well. We’ve even bought the cot and crib mattresses and covers, even going as far as to buy them ‘protectors’. Although, what good they will really do is yet to be seen.

I am feeling rather calm and looking forward to my labour and the birth, with an Obstetrician appointment for tomorrow during which I will ask what their protocol for caesarean is. I know I am more likely to be sent down this route due to my heart condition, which is fine by me, i’ve had my stay in ICU before and had many horrific things attached to/on/in me to worry about a surgery as ‘routine’ as caesarean. (Not to downplay the seriousness of it, it’s definitely a major surgery! Only one that many people have and the doctors are well-versed in.)

Are my chances of having a C-section 90/100 or more like 50/50 or less? Because if it’s pretty damn high I think I might just schedule it in now. What’s the point in getting my hopes up, not allowing them to prepare properly, and also turning it into a possible emergency c-section scenario when we could all just be prepared? What do you think?

Zzzzzzzz…

I’m feeling the tiredness tenfold now, needing what I call a ‘nap’ in the afternoons. I can’t actually nap, as falling asleep in daytime always leave me groggy and worse-for-wear overall, but I rest my eyes and my body and MY GOD do I love my new nursing chair. I spent half the afternoon in it today, wrapped in my maternity pillow and a blanket, legs atop the yoga ball for a footrest. It felt marvellous.

Apart from tiredness, my lung capacity seems very diminished, not least of all because of the bump, but also my normal lack of lung capacity from my heart condition/medication. This is something I will DEFINITELY be bringing upmost-recovery from the birth. I need to know – is it medication? Or my lungs damaged? Is there a fix? And, crucially, is there some kind of diagnosis I can carry around to prove this is the case? Because there may be some financial or health support available.

To conclude, I am now tired, legs and feet a little swollen, my health generally fine but could be better. However, I’m not so worse for wear that I am complaining. I am so grateful to be here. Not long to go.

A Family, It’s Official (Kinda)

If you’re anything like me, having a family was pretty high on my priority list, and part of that was having my name (or my partner’s name) changed so we all had the same surname.

I’m a little obsessed with names and surnames, from playing WoW and The Sims for years, searching name databases for inspiring and interesting names, to using Random Name Generator online just to fill the blank space in a character screen – it’s a LOVE of etymology (the origin of words).

Weirdly, I used to spend hours choosing names for characters in games, as if they mattered really in the grand scheme of things, but it always kept me entertained to see a decent name above my head in WoW instead of ‘bootlicker’ or ‘epiicpvpmasterr’ (including the misspellings, I EXTREMELY dislike that).

I always imagined I’d end up with a punk-ass, cool-as-frick surname like Ravenholme or Greenwood. Something edgy, hippy, or that sounded super posh because it was long and seemed pretty steeped in history or something. I wanted that.

Well, this didn’t happen, and I haven’t actually lost my surname as I assumed I would upon marriage, because J and I are not getting married! Instead we have now, officially changed our names legally to something slightly more… normal.

We are double-barrelled now which is super cool! And like I said in my previous post on name changes, I’m not disclosing it here, but I’m so pleased. It still sounds posh! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Hilariously, this signing of the documentation to change our names happened on April 1st, or April Fool’s Day, and I thought it would be HILARIOUS to change my name that evening on Facebook, to a chorus of “Is this a joke lol” or “omg what” and then I can laugh to myself and leave them to wonder.

Annoyingly, Facebook did not generate a “share this” like it does with relationship changes or employment, so you can surreptitiously share without making your own announcement and seeming like you want attention (just me who thinks this?). So I didn’t get that minor joy.

I also anticipated that J would be a little reluctant to change his online so soon, because although I was elated and excited to do so ASAP, I thought he would be apprehensive of all the questions. Especially because his name change was returning to his birth surname, then combining, not simply tacking on my surname to his current one.

Thankfully, he was not like this at all, and only took a few hours later to change his. He made no announcement either, but when talking in group chats did get questioned by friends – I haven’t had a single one yet!

Maybe I thought men would find changing name harder? I certainly knew as a teenager I’d probably change my name (but also knew I had a choice in this of course) so it isn’t a weird or strange thing to happen to me. But for J I believed it may be a little anxiety-inducing when he has to explain not only that he took my name partly (which shouldn’t matter but sometimes people do seem to care, “Oooh, very feminist” – shut up!) but also why he hasn’t got the surname in it that he’s had for years.

I can see now it was a silly thing to assume, as he was sweetly calling me by our new name that night and grinning like he does.

We are so happy to call ourselves one, and so excited to begin our years as a family when the little on arrives. ๐Ÿฅฐ

Free STI/STD Test Kit

As an aspiring embryologist or fertility enthusiast (is that a phrase?) I am always on the lookout for great resources and information I can share on my blog related to sexual health and fertility. This is a personal space, but I’m hoping to also make it helpful to anyone who wants advice, guidance or simply Google’s the title of this and other posts.

FreeTest.me is a UK-based NHS served website which allows anyone to order, discreetly, and get sent a free STI kit, covering the basics of Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea which are the most prevalent, the website says, in this day of age. The test is done by swab and sent back via free post, with results either texted to you or sent in a letter.

This website can also direct you to an HIV kit at Test.HIV and a 4-in-1 kit for Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea,  HIV and Syphilis all together at GUM. This and the HIV test kit includes a swab for the first two, and a blood sample for the second two. It explains in detail how to do this, and don’t worry it’s not a long horrid needle! More like a finger jab with a specialised piece of equipment to do this, like when if you’ve seen a diabetic check their blood sugar, nothing to be scared of, and completely optional if you don’t want to after you’ve got the kit.

And like the simple swab kit, the 4-in-1 is absolutely free, discreet and returned by free post with a simple text or letter for results.

I’ve included this really cool and useful resource up in my ‘Resources’ menu, for you or anyone to find in future. It’s really the best way if you’re worried, don’t want to go to a doctor just yet, or are simply afraid of the results/anyone finding out you’ve been and got tested – not that I think anyone should be anxious of this, but we all know it can feel awkward!

Yes, I have used it myself, a couple of times in the past. Everything has been fast, reliable and completely anxiety-free. I did the first time when a teenager living at home with my parents, and my God was I anxious not to let anyone see! But it was worth it to reassure me everything was fine (even if this knowledge is a bit TMI to any of my friends in real life ๐Ÿ˜‚). The second was at University when I think everyone gets a little antsy about this kind of thing.

You’ll feel less anxious once you’ve done it and got results though, trust me!