Losing my feet; finding my voice

It’s happened: I’m at the stage that I always imagined when I pictured how pregnancy would be.

There’s a definite bump and it’s getting scarily bigger every day. My maternity clothes actually fit like they’re supposed to and I’ve even had to beg and borrow some more (thanks Esme!)

Carrying around this undeniable sign that I’m pregnant all day, every day has been fascinating. To watch people’s sly glances at work from around 20 weeks while they were trying to figure out if I’d been eating too many office breakfasts or whether I was actually up the duff – to people’s little smiles now when they spot my nearly-28-week bump and realise that there’s a new little person in there.

It’s heart warming to know people do notice – and care. Especially given the long, tiring months of the first and second trimester in a brand new job feeling absolutely shocking but not being able to tell a soul.

Knowing that people are looking out for me has even made me patient with the repetitive Pregnancy Questions (PQs). Similar to the Wedding Questions (when’s the big day? What’s your colour scheme? Etc…), the PQs are predictable but well-meant. They often include the following: when are you due? Do you know if you’re having a girl or a boy? Have you had any cravings? I’m sure any of you currently or recently pregnant ladies will be able to reel off a load more.

I didn’t have a great deal of patience with the Wedding Questions, I have to be honest. Maybe it was the fact that we didn’t have a colour scheme – and no, I STILL hadn’t found a dress I liked. But the PQs I have much more time for, for some reason. Maybe answering them is some kind of payoff for the kindness of strangers? Maybe the hormones have got to me and I’ve developed a new level of saintly patience (given the grief my husband gets some days: unlikely)?

But I like the fact that I can open up to people I don’t really know and have an inconsequential chat with them – knowing that we’ll both come away from the conversation with a spring in our step.

 

Stretching it

Moisturising really brings out the worst in me. You think it’s a pretty innocuous task? For some reason I really cannot stand it… It makes me impatient and a bit ragey: both the time it takes after a shower to rub in and then to soak up into my skin when I just. want. to. get. warm. and. dry. By the amount of moisturisers on the market, I am a bit of a wierdo (anyone else out there…? No?)

I seem to get away fine due to drinking a heck of a lot of water, oil-based bath and shower gels, the occasional overnight body oil soak in, and mostly general luck in having smooth, non-dry skin.

But pregnancy lotions and potions are jumping out at me left, right and centre at the moment and making me a bit paranoid that I should be slapping something on more regularly. Today, I noticed that my belly button appeared to have shrunk – then realised that my stomach had in fact swelled a lot over the past week and a bit. This tummy is definitely growing, and I think it might need some more greasing up to aid it on its way.

Now don’t get me wrong: I adore a beauty product – and any valid excuse to buy one is good in my books. As mentioned, so far I’ve been getting by with a couple of soaking/oiling products and if you’re averse to the whole bottle squeezing-rubbing-soaking in rigmarole, I would totally recommend this trio.

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Image source: Soap and Glory

Exfoliate – this probably takes the same time as moisturising, but I find it a hell of a lot more satisfying – I think it’s because I can immediately feel the difference. Soap and Glory’s Pulp Friction smells zingy and fresh and delicious and the fine particles really cling onto your skin until you’re ready to rinse away all those dead skin cells you’ve just sloughed away. Yummy.

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Image source: Superdrug

Shower/bath oil – this almond one by L’Occitane is absolute manna for your nose and body. I’m not normally an advocate of spending a load on products that are just going to be drained down the plug hole – and at £17.50 a bottle is expensive, but completely worthwhile. The aroma is sweet but deep and so almondy and it lathers up a treat. Also great to use as a shaving oil and completely negates the need for moisturiser – yesss.

Body oil – I’ve recently been using Garnier Body Ultimate Beauty Oil and have been impressed. For some reason the scent takes me right back to Thailand – obviously a plus. It’s a spray applicator so not messy and soaks in fast, so no angry waiting for me. Also not bad value at £7.99 (it’s often on offer too in supermarkets or pharmacies). I’ve been using mine for months (albeit quite grudgingly) and I’ve only used about a fifth.

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Image source: L’Occitane

So, these three products have been serving me well, but I’m thinking as baby M gets bigger and bigger (please baby, not TOO big) – I’m going to need more moisture to make the stretching a little more comfortable. I hear that stretch marks are unavoidable if you’re predisposed to them due to your skin type… but you gotta live in hope, right? Have you used any decent pregnancy oils, butters or *shudder* moisturisers? This might be the one time I take a deep breath and just get on with it.

Burning with the bump

Me, in fitter times.

Me, in fitter times.

I hauled my sorry self out of bed yesterday, ignoring the dark, cold day outside; drove into work; sat down at my desk. And promptly tried not to cry. I haven’t ached this much all over since my pre-pregnancy return to body pump classes. I actually thought I might be coming down with a virus.

But no, I was just being a bit pathetic – although I still feel a little bit awful today, pity me. This weekend saw me do two bits of exercise: the first proper breathless workouts I’ve done in more than three months.

The first was an ill-advised walk-jog down the road with the husband and back again. Aside from the novelty of just about managing to zip up my previously baggy running top over my growing bump, it was probably a bad idea. I didn’t push it too much and alternated a couple of minutes’ gentle jogging with walking – but I won’t lie, my joints really ached the next day and not in a good way.

The second session was a million times better and with a specialist antenatal personal trainer, natch.

I did wonder whether another chunk of cash spent on the one-off session might be a bit extravagant, on top of my second block of pregnancy yoga sessions (and the million other baby bits we seem to be acquiring). But it was absolutely £40 very well spent. You see, I’m one of those insufferable people who gets out of sorts, frustrated, ok even slightly angry if I don’t get enough fresh air and exercise. The past couple of months haven’t been my best (and just don’t ask my poor husband what my mood’s been like). I really needed to snap out of it and get back to a bit of exercise.

My trainer, also a qualified midwife, knew her stuff and had the reassuring air that comes with having dealt with thousands of pregnant ladies. I booked the session partly for some exercise ideas to try out while pregnant – but equally for the reassurance that I could pick up exercise again after months of horrible nausea and tiredness – and not die/hurt my baby.

Advice around exercise while pregnant is extremely sketchy, so I’d lost confidence in what was safe and possible to do, beyond swimming and yoga. I know that women have different needs and conditions during pregnancy, so I can understand the requirement to speak to a GP or midwife before exercising – but even the advice I received from both when explaining my predicament was very vague. If you want to do more than light stretching – but haven’t matched the stealth of Paula Radcliffe and continued to run 10Ks since getting your positive pregnancy test, it seems that you fall into the gulf of No Information. However, apparently, people like me are in the majority and most pregnant women start exercising again when they’re 16-20 weeks pregnant. Phew.

I won’t bore you with a blow-by-blow account of the session, but it gave me the knowledge and reassurance that I needed and has given me a fresh enthusiasm for exercise, which was very much needed.

The workout Bernadette showed me consisted of some interval power walking with weights (this is what caused a lot of my aching I think!) and then some mat work inside, going through core strength exercises. Who knew power walking was so strenuous? I would have mocked it previously, but it really did the trick at giving me a blood pumping workout – while not feeling too hard on my achy running bones.

While we stuck to walking down the road and mat work in my living room – the principles of aerobic interval and core strength training are ones that I can easily take to the gym too. Haha Mr Gym Manager, just when you thought you’d made a packet on my annual upfront payment, I will finally strike back (albeit very slowly – wearing ridiculously stretched gym gear).

Just a few useful points and principles from the workout that we went through that I’ll definitely be using both outside and in the gym:

  • 10 minutes’ warm up – including stretching, around five minutes’ walking and a posture check (the pelvis position check was a revelation – if you’re pregnant, I urge you to do this as much as possible – google it).
  • 20 minutes of cardio intervals – this could be power walking, cross trainer, etc. Five minutes of warming up and down and ten minutes of interval training (two minutes at 50 per cent effort and one minute at 70-80 per cent)
  • 15 minutes’ resistance training – we did a box press up, squats and side leg raises on the mat – and some others which I can’t explain fully in a pithy style… It was good to know that things like press ups and squats are still ok – as this is the kind of thing I wasn’t sure about.
  • 10 minutes’ cool down – gentle stretching.

Ok, so I haven’t actually made it outside in my trainers again yet – or to the gym – but I can actually see it happening this week and have the drive to make it happen, which is a great turnaround in motivation from last week. If you’re in the same situation as me and have the time and cash, I would wholeheartedly recommend finding a trainer who specialises in antenatal fitness and getting back on it. And if you’re based around Warwickshire, I would definitely look Bernadette up.

Pregnancy insomnia

It makes sense really, once two months of excruciatingly, to-the-core-of-my-bone-marrow-tiredness is over, that pregnancy insomnia sets in.

(Picture my sarcastic face).

It’s just past 4.00am on a Sunday morning and I couldn’t be more wide awake. Just a shame the sun hasn’t caught up with my brain.

Never having been someone who has trouble getting to – or staying – asleep, this is still admittedly a little bit novel. I do quite like being up in the middle of the night with the TV to myself and an excellent excuse for drinking hot chocolate.

Fine on a weekend morning – but not so much fun when you have a full work day ahead of you on less than five hours’ sleep – especially for someone who panics if less than eight hours is on the agenda (yes parents, feel free to laugh at me and the sheer knackeredness that awaits once the baby is here).

Apparently suffering from insomnia during pregnancy is A Thing. But there don’t seem to be many useful explanations for exactly what causes it. Not being able to get to sleep because you’re uncomfortable in bed; have heartburn; or if you’re worrying about the baby’s imminent arrival: yes. But suddenly waking up in the middle of the night like it’s 9.00am: nope.

Guidance online helpfully suggests napping during the day (yep, sure that would go down totally well in my office at 10.00am), reducing caffeine content (already pretty nonexistent) or not eating dinner too late (definitely not a problem in this greedy household).

A couple of suggestions which might actually be useful:

  • eating more vitamin B – not sure exactly why, but can’t do any harm
  • getting adequate exercise during the day – definitely something that’s been lacking from my routine lately
  • ensuring that you’re comfortable in bed – coincidentally, we have a new mattress on order which is a million times better than our current old, sagging Ikea one.

Do you have any ideas about what causes pregnancy insomnia – or any solutions? Please let me know!

Getting over the first trimester

People say that you don’t know how awful the first trimester can be until you’re pregnant, but I don’t think that’s necessarily true.

Think back to your last pretty horrible hangover. Waking up to a stomach bubbling with acid; waves of nausea as you roll out of bed and stand up straight. Thoughts that you need to eat something to absorb the acidity: but not being able to contemplate anything that could make it past your lips and stay there for more than a few seconds. The overwhelming heavy tiredness that creeps up by 10am and slams you over the head, so you’re actually pinching your face to stay awake at your desk. Then again at around 5pm once the rigmarole of playing ‘normal’ all day at work is over.

Repeat every single day for approximately six weeks.

I won’t go on – and of course it’s different for everyone. Some b*astard women don’t get sickness at all. I’ll take that option next time, thanks.

Thankfully I’m past that stage now. Pretty much as soon as it crept up on me, the dark shadow that was the first trimester faded into the second…bar a couple of days of incessant vomiting at weeks 16 and 17: a fitting swansong to this utterly miserable couple of months. 

Happily, I shrugged off the sickness off finally and the second trimester has been treating me well so far. 

However, having got to used to continuous exhaustion and sickness, normal life has been chucked to the wayside. My twice or thrice-weekly spinning and bodypump classes and occasional weekend run are a distant, endorphin-tinted memory. Even the halfhearted swimming sessions that I started after discovering I was pregnant are looking like a good effort. In short, I’ve turned into a right lardyarse and my lack of energy isn’t being helped by the lethargy that no exercise brings.

I really could do with getting out there and back to the gym, but I’ve completely lost the motivation and a bit of confidence. It’s not all me (I tell myself) – advice around exercise is pretty patchy and who knows what’s really ok to do while pregnant. The generic advice seems to be ‘ask your midwife’. When I asked my midwife, she gave some generic advice along the lines of ‘whatever feels ok; don’t overdo it’.

Now that I can contemplate anything more than a walk from my car to the office, I’m starting to think a gentle run (who am I kidding: probably a run-walk-run-walk) might be possible and even enjoyable.

To nip my exercise apathy in the bud and to get some solid ideas about what I can and can’t do, I’ve booked a personal trainer. Might seem extravagant, but for less than the price of a massage, I get a session going through ideas for workouts at home, outside and in the gym and then no obligation follow up sessions if needed.

I’m raring to get going with it… But not quite enough to tear me away from the TV and back to the swimming pool in the evenings. With my training session a couple of weeks away, I really need to pick up the exercise in the meantime – if only for my sanity. I’m one of those people who gets grouchy, impatient and generally unhappy if I haven’t been exercised in a while. I’m thinking a short, slow run might be in order tonight – then we’ll see if I can brave the swimming pool tomorrow.

In the meantime, any tips to get my increasingly chubby butt moving again during pregnancy would be much appreciated. Just don’t tell me to stop eating chocolate.

140 days and counting

In late June 2013 I took a pregnancy test that appeared to have two faint lines.

The next flimsy stick developed the same, very light blue strips.

After nearly two years of waiting; hoping; waiting again, this had to be a mistake.

So predictably, off we went to Boots, another couple eagerly lining the pockets of Clearblue Ltd with a ‘proper’ test that would tell us definitively whether the dull bathroom light was playing tricks on my hopeful eyes or not.

Fast forward 16 weeks to late October and here I am, a bona fide pregnant lady. 21 weeks gone and just starting to get an undeniable bump. It’s all really weird.

I’ve always liked to write, but for a while have struggled to find the push to do it outside of work. Pregnancy so far has been a complete tumble of joy and despair; clarity and utter confusion: so this seems like a good time to start blogging – to make some sense of it all.

I’ve gone through the sickness and shatteredness (tiredness does not do it justice) and now it’s only laziness that’s stopping me from documenting this pregnancy – so I’ll do my best to catch up over the coming months. No plans or themes, just a record of the second half of growing this new little person.

Pregnancy test