19 Weeks + 3 Days

Apart from my reflagging of CC’s wonderful Elvie review – click here to read it, it’s definitely worth a look if you’re considering a discrete pump but are worried about that £250 price tag – I haven’t really updated in a week or so.

As it’s time for a life update and I feel like rambling a bit, here goes…

J and I have decided that we are finding out the gender.

Yes, it’s our first child and I really don’t mind as long as they’re healthy! However, I have some extra growth scans due to being on Bisoprolol, which could effect baby’s growth. J is not allowed in for those extra scans, and I’m concerned I could see more than I bargained for in those scans following 28 weeks!

How awful would it feel to either lie to J and pretend I don’t know, or pop home and break the news that I found out without him there? No, we decided we would find out together, if we can, and save this silly worry even being possible. The twist is, we aren’t telling anyone else if we can help it.

Our original 12 week scan - hoping for a better one this time!

My 20 week scan is on the 17th February 2021, called the anomaly scan, and I’m looking forward with trepidation to this moment. As with every scan I’ve been concerned I can’t feel movement yet (although some tummy rumbles feel remarkably different.. but am I just wishful thinking?) and that the doppler found a heartbeat but anything could have happened by now and how would I know?

Everything seems normal and fine, except the obvious changes for COVID regulations. Having never been pregnant before this I have no comparison, so it doesn’t bother me much. Only that J is left out sometimes like the midwife with the doppler – that was sad not to have him there to hear the beat and have the little kicks and movement sounds explained as I heard them.

Aside from this, I’ve also been getting nauseous again these last few days. I even was sick for the first time this pregnancy the other day, having not eaten for too long in the morning while trying to have a nice lounge in bed together watching (‘researching’) with One Born Every Minute. Turns out, there is a limit to how long my tummy is happy to remain empty after waking, and I took it too far. But the nausea keeps reappearing, and I’m wondering can baby’s movements make this happen or is it just a redux of the first trimester?

Open University is going well still, two modules side by side is taking a little toll but nothing I can’t handle at the moment what with no job and plenty of indoors time, courtesy of lockdown and the cold. I’ve been buying nursery decorations, like decals, and arranging furniture. We managed to snap up two fabric wardrobes for the combined price of under £10 on Amazon before the item was swiftly listed as ‘unavailable’ which to me means, “we accidentally listed them as £4.99 and not £44.99”. Trust me, they’re pretty good. Metal framed and triple layered. Pretty sturdy even on our old Welsh wooden wonky floors and wobbly walls. Check Argos if you’re not convinced of the prices of these things!

I know myself that these items are not perfect. Who dreams of a fabric wardrobe for their little one when you can find matching three or four piece nursery sets with carved hearts in them all over the internet? It’s just, we don’t have loads of money. And I keep thinking they’re only a baby. If we can start with this we can find better quality and nicer items for less when we’re really needing them. For now, it’s perfect, and well within budget to allow for more extravagant necessary items – like the car seat I’ve yet to buy.

So that’s todays update, nothing much else to say until a week tomorrow – the scan. I’ll be updating with that and hoping for a much nicer scan photo than our previous 12 week one. If everything is fine I will rest easy for another week or so until the nerves kick in again.

Until then, have a wonderful day.

Elvie Breast Pump Review — Clever C(nt)s

I was very excited when I saw two pumps on the market that advertised being cordless and silent. What a brilliant idea! A pump that could fit in your bra and use on the go.

Despite the rather painful price tag (the Elvie markets at around £250 for a single and £450 for a double while the Willow comes in around the same but isn’t sold in The UK) they come with some hefty promises and they look pretty cool too…

The Elvie Double Breast Pump – Review — Clever C(nt)s

5 First Trimester Must-Haves

I am around 16 weeks pregnant – I never imagined I’d get here! It’s all gone so incredibly fast. As a second trimester mum-to-be I definitely found some of the tips bombarding me on the internet useful and downright necessary to live life in the first third of pregnancy.

I decided to write down my personal top five items and products I found the most useful. There are links here to the ones I specifically bought. I’d like to point out this is my opinion, so depending on each person it may be different for you. I help it helps someone.

So here they are;

Breadsticks 🥖

Sounds dumb, right? The humble breadstick. What could he do that would possibly help a newly pregnant mum feel normal again? Well, I’ll let you know that that nausea was killing me by week 8, and it happened when I my stomach was empty. Keeping snacks nearby was a must when I felt sick a mere 2 hours after eating a meal. Breadsticks, crackers, snacks that don’t kick up the calories and fat content are just handy dandy and perfect for those moments. Be warned: I found myself using Marmite as a dip straight from the jar, though…

500ml+ Water Bottle 💧

Not only does the water help keep the full feeling going, but it also means you’ll hopefully get enough water during the day if you drag it everywhere with you. I forgot, and indeed suffered, when I didn’t drink enough. And it’s only when I sacrificed my already tiny bladder to the altar of constant water sips did I feel a little peppier and my skin liked me again. You might want to stay near a loo however…

Minimal Makeup Kit 💋

This might sound mad, but hear me out. If you don’t wear much makeup at all, then you already do this. To makeup connoisseurs it might seem unlikely, but some days you literally feel like your skin hates you (thank you hormones sending me back to my teenage years) and other days you just need the quickest fix for your face before you need to drag yourself back to bed, or the sofa I named second bed, because you’re so tired and cranky. Having a tiny, 5 item or less kit with you that you can do a good basic look with is key. You know this look, you like it, and you can do it in, like, 5 minutes. This is the look you need on days like these. An hour faffing about and another hour on hair? Yeah, no.

Maternity Leggings 👖

Get these in early. Hell, get these even before you start seeing any progress of your tummy. I found pretty early on that the jeans I could happily squeeze into just felt horrid, even when I didn’t look or seem any bigger. That tummy is precious now, and having some decent maternity leggings, soft touch and so stretchy, is amazing. It’s all I wore for the last few weeks and I’m in them just as I type this. I don’t even know how I could have worn the monstrosity that is hard, tight, solid jeans at any point in my life. Waistline? You mean under-my-breasts line.

Maternity ‘U’ Pillow 😴

As a devout front sleeper, I couldn’t for the life of me get my head around how uncomfortable sleeping on my side would really be. I crave to lie on my front! No can do, for at least 6 months more, as even with a tiny tummy I still found it too strange to lie tummy downwards in my usual pose. Here’s where the U-pillow comes in! Your partner may feel like there’s a wall between the two of you, and there is! It’s a giant pillow wall, where you can lie one arm under, one on top, head resting on the top of the U and plenty of pillow down between your legs. It feels quite comfy, and quite comfy is the best you’re going to get when you’re growing a human.

I hope you enjoyed these 5 must-haves for the first trimester. Some of them will filter into the second and third for sure, mainly the water bottle and pillow! But for now, that’s my top tips to get comfy and happy during this fabulously wobbly time. There’s no other way to describe it.

Life After Job Loss

Did I ask for this? No. Did I want to be a stay-at-home Mum? One day. Can we afford it? Possibly.

After losing my job a few weeks ago due to Covid-19’s lockdowns ending the tourist season before it even began, via a 4 week notice (technically I’m ending in January), I’ve been doing a lot of research, planning and thinking. While I know I wanted to be a stay-at-home Mum, homemaker, full-time Mum, whatever you want to call it one day, we were not anticipating this.

I actually never believed I’d be able to be a home Mum. Maybe on maternity leave, but that’s all.

My work was minimally impactful, a steady tourist season shop with 10am-5:30pm sort of opening hours and an easy ‘working by yourself in a tiny shop’ life. It would have fitted badly around children’s schooling when that age came, as I could drop them off but J and I both finish too late to pick them back up again. With no grandparents nearby (the closest several towns away and doesn’t drive nor is there a direct bus) this may have been an inevitable end to my ‘career’ in retail anyway.

I’ve checked, and according to Gov.uk’s guidelines I have to tell an employer no later than a certain date about my pregnancy. This means I can’t start any new jobs (if there had been any around to start) without explaining my situation during the 3 month trial period and getting dismissed because I’d be straight onto maternity leave. What employer wants that hassle?

I have discovered I still do qualify (so long as being furloughed counts) for Maternity Allowance since I’ve been working within 66 weeks of my predicted birth week. This, combined with any child benefit, child tax credits (now part of Universal Credit I believe) and working tax credits we may be entitled to, come July, will mean we may well be better off than I originally worried, and better off than me in a job!

Additionally, there’s Sure Start Maternity Grant that could be possible, a £500 bonus to get us going with the new addition to the family.

Unfortunately, because I am a part-time online student with Open University, were finding benefits calculators impossible to use and all predictions of income up in the air. I get payments for being a student, you see, and I’m hoping to continue, even minimally, next October with my studies of Biology. Even though my payments will be small, they effect every benefit I could receive and may well land me worse off than if I didn’t study. How’s that for motivation to do better?

It seems the universe has given me the chance to have my dream early, to be a stay-at-home Mother. If we can navigate this pregnancy, the uncertainty of Covid-19 and the complications of my health and education now, we can do so further down the line. I’m sure of it.

Here’s to bad news turning somewhat optimistic!

Finding Free Baby Items

As a first time Mum-to-be, I had absolutely no baby items of my own to reuse for this pregnancy and birth. Having family who have had children lately, letting wonderful friends who get excited for you go mad, and utilising Facebook Marketplace with zest and vigour has landed us at 15 weeks with mountains of brilliant goodies!

If you’re stuck and confused with how to find decent baby items at low, low (sometimes free) prices, this is my definitive of list of finds so far. I hope they help you with baby-item-hunting too.

1. Goodies from Family

This secondhand IKEA cot, courtesy of my brother and sister-in-law is perfect to begin with, with complimentary Tommee Tippee Bottle Warmer & bottles, plus Tippee Bottle Steriliser and a pair of baby monitors (Camera x2 because they had two little ones) totally for free. My Mum has gone into overdrive, using Ebay to find Newborn, 0-3 months and 3-6 months of baby clothing, blankets and muslins totally for free to me as well, but paid for by her. She’s currently searching now for a changing table – bless our Mums!!

She’s decided the Doorway Baby Bouncer my brother’s children used is good enough to give us now too, and is also searching specifically for 3-6 month old sleep suits.

2. Gifts from Friends

A secondhand beautiful Clare de Lune crib with mattress, with a new Blanket and Bunny Blanket laying inside was so kindly gifted to us by one of J’s friends, also a mother, who looks just as excited as we are for the new arrival! She also bought us brand new Baby Clothing and Baby Accessories (Socks, Bibs, Hats etc) all totally for free.

J’s oldest and best friends sent a pretty Christmas parcel, which included an adorable fox hat and fox socks for newborns. J is pretty obsessed with foxes, and I love toadstools, so we blend the two and decided on a forest nursery theme so that’s where these fox items come in.

3. Hunting Facebook Marketplace

J has been on the ball these last few weeks, but at first it was me getting the Facebook Search on where I found this Venti Pram/Push Chair (Not including the Car Seat) secondhand for £20. Hardly used, and a very neutral navy blue, this pram also folds down into a push chair when needed. We can buy additional clips in oder to strap a car seat onto it too, so for £20 it was a no brainer.

We also found many, many mums on FB Marketplace are literally giving away clothing and accessories. The same lady with the pram has given us a selection of baby towels (cute hooded towel included) and a baby bath. As well as her, we discovered a mountain of Baby Clothes, Muslins, two Grobags (sleeping bags), a ‘New Mum’ Sanctuary Spa set and baby accessories like mittens and bibs all for free from another local lady. She threw in leftover newborn nappies, size 2 and size 3 nappies, swim size 2/3 nappies and a waterproof swim nappy as well! You really can’t fault mothers for being prepared, and incredibly generous. She even slipped in some maternity pads for me, saying “You’ll need these trust me”, winking as she did so.

4. Free Baby Packs

As well as hunting online for goodies from other Mums I’ve also landed a few goodies from businesses along the way. I would recommend, even just to get these free packs, downloading and installing two apps – Bounty and Emma’s Diary – in order to redeem the free vouchers for three packs on each. Both apps have three bags on offer, and both (if memory serves) can be picked up at your local Boots for three stages of your pregnancy and birth of your baby. Thankfully we have one Boots in town! You get vouchers and sample sizes of common baby products such as Pregnacare and Sudocrem. Why not? It’s free!

In Summary

I do want to stress that all this shopping and item-buying has either been local (during food shopping if bought and ‘we can walk to there’ local people) or sent by family. We know how Covid-19 has affected our family, let alone others in more constricted areas, and are trying to be as careful as possible to stop the spread. Masks at all times, put into wash as soon as we get home or wiped down with anti-bacterial wipes is a must. You just never know.

That being said, this haul has made me incredibly grateful to ALL our family and friends, for their help and understanding as well as the material goods that will be lifesavers come the birth. We are truly blessed!

Here’s hoping you can have just as much success as I have. Happy hunting everyone.

5 Early Pregnancy Symptoms

For any TTC (trying to conceive) woman, man or couple there’s so much Googling you can’t help but do. ‘Weird pregnancy symptoms’, ‘Is ____ a pregnancy symptom?’, and ‘definite list of pregnancy symptoms’ dominated my history.

But what I really wanted was to hear the evidence from the Mums themselves. Even if it was wishful thinking, false memory, or even coincidence, I wanted to KNOW exactly what they felt in early pregnancy, because it felt more real to me than a list on a random health website.

So here it is, my list of five symptoms I felt (or think I felt – ha!) during the Two Week Wait to test. And let me reassure you, I am most certainly pregnant, so I can vouch for these as truth!

  1. Increased Cervical Mucus 💦

    If you understand cervical mucus, or CM, it changes throughout your cycle. Here’s a great, no-nonsense (but possibly TMI) post for explaining different types of CM. Don’t be afraid to know all you can about this!
    During my TWW I found I had a lot more of this CM appearing in my underwear – I’m not one for swiping my finger across myself to see the mucus, I prefer to see it in my underwear, just a personal preference. This was both egg white and clear, much like the ovulation mucus, and sometimes creamy white in colour, but more than usual for me.

  2. Mild Nausea (When Hungry) 🤢

    I found throughout my first trimester that I’ve gotten nauseous when I’m hungry and empty, so snacking on bread sticks or crackers was a must to stave off the sick feeling in my stomach. I never actually was sick, thankfully, but this feeling was present towards the end of my TWW and made me wonder…

  3. Low Abdominal Cramping ⚡️

    A cruel trick to make cramping a sign of pregnancy as well as Aunt Flow! But I did find a very mild cramp, much lower down than I expected, appeared during my two week wait. I knew it was too early for Flow, but it still confused me. Don’t rely on this one though, it’s a tricky horror sometimes to know it was all Aunt Flow in the end!

  4. Easily Irritated 😤

    Once again a tricky customer. Getting easily irritated by little things is a symptom of her majesty, Aunt Flow, and while I do get this in normal cycles it appeared again when I conceived. So don’t be put out if you experience it!

  5. Noxious Gas! 💨

    This last one was AWFUL! During the beginning of the first trimester my gas was unbelievable, and I still get a lot of burps on the go sometimes even now. It was how bad it smelt that got me, I was sure I hadn’t eaten a mountain of sprouts, and the gas was the number one main symptom for me.
    Typical! Not even a fun one or the classic sickness, just smelly, bloating gas! Be on the lookout for this sign, and it really ended up hurting when I tried to hold some of it back. My partner must have been gagging by the morning, thank goodness he has a terrible sense of smell. And in the end, I could prove it wasn’t me, it was the babies fault – hallelujah!

So there you have it, the 5 symptoms I experienced during my TWW which resulted in a pregnancy. I hope these help somebody, somewhere.

Mountains of baby dust to you all x

Prenatal Yoga

The NHS states that you should not try to lose weight during pregnancy if you’re overweight, it won’t help and may even be detrimental, but to keep active.

On Bisoprolol I find myself perpetually out of breath when doing anything cardio-related. I’m not tired or struggling in my muscles to do the moves, but my breath just won’t go fast enough to fill my lungs. I believe this is due to bisoprolol being a beta-blocker, preventing as much adrenaline from being released, meaning your heart rate, and therefore oxygen getting around your body, to be much, much slower.

Cardio, or at least the classic treadmill, stationary bike or ‘circuit training’, is out of the question for me, so I’ve been walking as much as I can, and taken up home yoga.

Now that I’m in the second trimester of pregnancy and no longer such a slave to nausea and (as much) tiredness, I’ve found an excellent channel of prenatal yoga workouts and a favourite prenatal, no equipment, bodyweight 30 minute routine I’ve regularly been doing when my partner isn’t home. I thought I’d share these in case they were useful to any of you.

I love this one, she’s so encouraging without being preachy. Thank you, Amy.

My first is the Tabata bodyweight video, 30 minutes in length and Amy is very nice, letting you know easier and harder options depending on how fit you are already. Tabata is a 20 second workout followed by 10 second rest scheme which fits well with my out-of-breath always body!

My second choice is a whole channel dedicated to pregnancy and postpartum yoga videos. Some workouts are simple and slow, easy and breezy and others can really have an impact – but without pushing too hard! Check out this channel trailer:

Not only for fitness, but also preparing body and mind for labour.

Preparation for labour features extensively in this channel with moves and workouts tailored to opening and stretching the hips and muscles required for labour. In addition, preparing your mind by imagining the labour process and putting you at ease for when the time comes (allegedly – I’ll let you know how it goes!!).

I’ll be doing these routines all the way until I give birth and beyond, so I decided to share them with you all. I hope it’s helpful for someone.

I’ll let you know how labour goes and if it helped – haha!

I Lost My Job

Due to COVID-19.

Determined to enjoy Christmas no matter what, I hung up the phone to my (now ex-) boss. It’s been a hard year for everyone, but not least of all the small businesses, any shops on side streets which rely so heavily on the influx of yearly summer tourists from over the border in England. This was one of the shops I worked in.

In the summer it was thriving, ice cream abundant and chirpy, happy people browsing and discovering a small town in the middle of beautiful Snowdonia National Park. In the winter it could be okay, but quite extremely quiet, meaning I could (and have definitely been known to!) read an entire novel each day, sitting behind the desk, watching the wind/rain/snow/sun outside that shop door.

Sadly, this pandemic has rendered my boss with a horrible decision. Myself and co-workers have been on furlough, with only about 3 whole months of trade we were open for. We rely so much on tourism that when we locked down they couldn’t come, when they locked down it wasn’t worth opening because we need them to come and they can’t. It has been a disaster for too many shops here.

So, I’ve lost my job and so have others. I am 13 months pregnant and have just lost my job because of Covid-19/Coronavirus. Not good!

Thankfully, I’ve done some research (as my anxiety-driven brain tends to do in moments of stress). I don’t qualify for any redundancy payout, and even if I did I’d feel infinitely bad asking for that from a failing business, he’s not closing yet… yet.

I was worrying because if I don’t have an employer I can’t claim Statutory Maternity Pay, and I can’t find a job now it’d be too soon to disclose the pregnancy – they could dismiss me before my 3 month trial. I couldn’t not tell them as it’s my duty to tell them by a certain date, and they could let me go citing whatever they like before the trial is up. That’s a no go as far as I can tell. If anyone is even hiring…

However, I do qualify still for Maternity Allowance, direct from the government. This is because I have been employed (and working… I think furlough counts too, fingers crossed) for a certain number of hours within 66 weeks of my due date. All this information is on the Gov.uk website here.

I’m still not sure if I’m sad or simply resigned to being unemployed now. My furlough ends in January, he gave me a months grace to ‘find something else’, but I don’t think I can.

J and I are trying our hardest to figure out if we can do this, and at least with my Open University maintenance payments, plus Maternity Allowance I should be able to claw through. When the Maternity ends though, I have no idea what we can do.

I don’t have anyone to take our child for childcare, so it seems we might’ve had to have just one income anyway, or else pay for childcare somehow if I can work enough. We don’t have immediate family close enough to us to take little one, and asking my aunt and uncle who already babysit four of their own grandchildren on several days each week is not fair.

Holding on to positive vibes and feelings, I guess we have to wait and see what 2021 brings!

I’m Pregnant

Do you want to know what happened? Knowing that you don’t usually get pregnant ‘just like that’, knowing that this journey may take longer as my partner and I don’t know how fertile we were, our ages might play a factor, and especially my health?

When I left behind contraception in September, hoping for some kind of pregnancy, even if it ended chemically, within at most 6 months? When I promised myself I wouldn’t be upset every month when Aunt Flow came?

What happened was I went through a withdrawal bleed from the Desogestrel mini-pill in late September. By October 21st I’d taken a test and seen a faint second line. I was ecstatic.

I’ve been so careful not to get too excited, but I’ve bought some so-called “faith purchases” anyway (in faith that the pregnancy will continue or that you’ll be pregnant if TTC), some sleep suits because I’m obsessed with toadstool ornaments and J adores foxes!

Foxes and toadstools on this adorable 3-pack!

Scanxiety is real. I can’t explain how frightened I felt going into the scan. Thankfully the UK NHS let me have J with me, I wasn’t alone. I needed to know they were okay. Just tell me they’re okay, I kept thinking. That’s all. Then I can relax. Then I can finally feel validly pregnant. I can feel some safety that I will take this baby home.

I am now pregnant, 13 weeks and counting. I’ve had my scan. They said it looks good. I’ve got my miracle! After all the threats of damage, after every infertile alternative facing us – which I thoroughly believed would be true, I’m there. I’m PREGNANT.

A terrible scan photo, we saw so much more while there – our sonographer must hate us!

I wasn’t expecting this Christmas ‘miracle’!

After all my health problems over the last couple of years I expected a long wait for conception and maybe even problems down the line. My partner hasn’t always been the kindest to his body and mine has a BMI over 30 already (though I believe BMI should be scrapped for more appropriate weight and height measures as this can be misleading), so I am far from perfect.

I’m not out of danger yet, but I have used an amazing site to reassure myself along the way of the risks of miscarriage and they are very low at this point. If you want to check any by how many weeks along you are, try this awesome website – Miscarriage Reassurance. I highly recommend to help ease the anxiety.

Happy Christmas to all those who celebrate it, and Happy Holidays to everybody with a hopeful look into the new year soon 2021!

Much love to you all x