Glorious maternity leave 

A few people expressed a bit of surprise that I decided to take maternity leave relatively early (about a month before my due date), and would anxiously ask ‘But won’t you be bored? What will you do all day?’

Actually I couldn’t have been more grateful to have that time. It was such a luxury to have time to myself and at home to really get ready for the baby and to get the house sorted. I was also acutely aware that this was the last time I would have to myself for a fair while! Now she’s here I can see how true that instinct is, newborns are tiring and relentless as well as being totally adorable.

I spent the first few weeks getting the last bits in our house sorted – as we were decorating things had been unpacked then repacked and ended up all over the place. Before Fliss arrived everything was in its rightful place which makes home such a nicer and calmer place and has made it easier to keep things very vaguely tidy.

Batch cooking prep

The single best thing I did though was pre-baby batch cooking. This is one of those favourite pieces of advice for things you should do before baby arrives, and I can only second it as an amazing thing to do if you have time. By the time Fliss arrived we had 28 evening meals squirrelled away, as well as a few portions of soup and things for lunch. Having proper food to eat in the first few weeks was amazing as I have never in my life felt less like greasy and unhealthy takeaway (and usually I love greasy and unhealthy takeaway!) than when I was home from hospital, extremely tired and needing to recuperate quickly. We loved it so much that we’re carrying on trying to keep the freezer stocked by cooking a massive pot of something once a week. I’m sure there will be difficult weeks where having some homemade ready meals is a life saver again.

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There was also a glorious amount of lazing in the last few weeks pre-birth as the late pregnancy tiredness really kicked in. It was so much better settling down to less energetic pursuits like reading, watching films and knitting with the knowledge most of the to do list had already been ticked off. Life tends to be quite hectic for us – we have very few completely free weekends – so the luxury of unscheduled time was something that felt quite unusual and special. It almost seems halcyon now looking back at having time for as much sleep as I wanted and having my hands free all the time, and I’m sure I’m coping better with the distinct lack of those things now having had that period of complete rest and relaxation!

If I’d have worked for longer I would have been concerned I’d have been trying to do everything in a rush at the end, just when my body was telling me to put my feet up and rest myself to be as ready as possible for labour and a newborn. Having a decent amount of time to rest before a first baby just seems like a civilised thing to me. I was interested to note when I read in A Year of Living Danishly (Denmark is my current cultural inspiration as you may have picked up!) that it’s standard for maternity leave to start a month before the due date. Obviously it’s always a personal choice, but for me a month was perfect.

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Baby makes!

I love making things to mark special events, I went a bit crazy on DIY details for our wedding. Impending motherhood had a similar effect. Major life events demand a bit of thought and time spent on making things for me! There is something so timeless about the feeling of knitting for baby and nesting to get your home ready for the new arrival as well. It was a way of mentally preparing as much as producing things I think.

I crocheted, knitted, sewed and stamped away throughout my pregnancy (well once the morning sickness wore off!)

Chevron blanket

I’m still incredibly pleased with the colour choice for my chevron baby blanket from this pattern.

The next make may not be the most useful of baby attire, but I couldn’t resist this bumblebee hat pattern when I saw it! Felicity hates hats so not sure how much wear it will get but it’s quite adorable so I’m counting it as a win.
Bumblebee hat

Felicity's hat

The last thing completed before Felicity’s  arrival was a felt mobile which I designed based on some inspiration from Pinterest. The most difficult bit of this was definitely getting the threads and wool round the embroidery hoop – the sewing was easy in comparison! She has a mixed relationship with being put down – but it does distract her from the trauma of changing (well sometimes…)

Baby mobile

I loved the idea over on Seeds and Stitches of quick baby makes using fabric ink and rubber stamps. I’ve personalised a good few Muslins, body suits and scratch mits. It’s such an easy make. Can imagine it would be a great baby shower activity idea as well.

Stamped muslins

I’d held off knitting the traditional cardigan for baby as so many people had kindly said they’re knitting ready for baby. I cracked a week before my due date though and started on this adorable pattern. It hasn’t got finished yet and my hands seem rather busy with other things now so I fear it will get left a little while and will probably end up as a present for someone else!

Baby knitting in progress

Pregnancy: the second trimester

I’m currently four days overdue so looking back to the middle stage of pregnancy is a bit of a nostalgic distraction!

Throughout my rather horrible first trimester I had people telling me that the second is lovely, that I would feel fantastic and all would be well. This is actually fairly accurate, in that it was like a switch had been flipped and suddenly I felt human again after feeling grim for months – though I’m still not sure I’d go as far as saying I felt fantastic…

It was definitely a short lived phase though, as I didn’t count myself as being in the second trimester until I stopped feeling sick – which was at about week 19 for me. Really the second trimester is supposed to last from about week 13-28 so I didn’t actually get that much time to enjoy it!

I also had a few issues with hip pain – it can happen in pregnancy and I found that if I walked too far or fast, sat on hard chairs for long periods and wore uncomfortable shoes it would flare up. I feel quite lucky overall though as if I avoided these things and was careful, I actually felt fine and able to carry on as normal, even if nice outfits were rather out for the forseeable as I’ve been exclusively wearing some very trendy bright white trainers for weeks. Some people suffer much more with this type of pain though so I mainly felt grateful that I could be comfortable most of the time and still get out and about. I’m still not convinced I’ll ever feel really ‘glowy’ during pregnancy, but there certainly were lovely moments in my experience of the second trimester, such as:

– Feeling the baby move. From the first few flutters where I wasn’t really sure what I was feeling, to the full on kicks of later on, it is lovely beginning to actually feel this whole other person you’re carrying about. It’s like being in a little gang of two – and baby kicking vigorously when no one else can tell what’s happening (ie in work meetings) is like carrying around a little secret friend! Seeing Will’s face the first time he felt the baby move is also something I’ll never forget.

– Telling everyone, people were so happy for us and it felt so lovely to talk about it all openly.

– Getting my energy back, suddenly I began to feel a bit like my old self: we went on holiday, I started making things again, work wasn’t a complete marathon to have to get through every week. I started to finally sort out and put things away in our new house and we got a fair bit of work done on making the house a home. Glorious.

– Actually enjoying food again after getting over my nausea. Chocolate, cake, cups of tea, fruit and vegetables – all no longer made me throw up and there is nothing like a cup of tea after months!

– Getting a little bump, rather than just looking like I’d put on weight round the middle. I started to believe I was pregnant and get an inkling of the way my body would start to change and grow. It still seems miraculous to me that my body just knows what to do and is growing this whole other little person.

– Feeling like we know our baby, we began to get a sense of our baby’s personality when we went for our 12 week scan. It’s legs were such a blur as it was bicycling them furiously all the time. This continued with our second scan when we in the room for double the amount of time as everyone else because our baby was moving so much that the sonographer really struggled to get all the measurements she needed. Our second scan picture looks a little bit like the inside of a washing machine he or she was dancing around so much – none of your frame worthy pictures of baby lying calmly for us! Essentially we’re thinking it might have inherited Will’s crazy energy and need to do lots of exercise, it also seemed quite strong from a young age, apparently babies aren’t really supposed to be able to kick so hard that their Dad can feel their movements through the placenta. In my head it’s going to be a very sporty and active little thing. Time will tell if this is true when we meet the baby in the next week or so!

Life lately

The big news is that I’m on maternity leave! I have total respect for women who work up to the wire as for the last few weeks at work were a bit of a struggle.

We did at least manage to fill our weekends with some lovely things – visitors to stay (including Pastry & Purls), catching up with lots of friends. We also attended a wonderfully happy wedding; it was a challenge finding wedding appropriate wear at 8 months pregnant but I think I managed it!

Finally we had a lovely weekend away in Kent for our wedding anniversary. We’re lucky enough to have a family holiday home on the Romney Marsh, an Edwardian railway carriage that my great grandfather put in his garden for his grandchildren to sleep in and that has stayed in the family long after his house was sold. It’s very cozy and a lovely bolt hole.

We went down for the long August bank holiday and enjoyed some glorious August weather with blazing sunshine for an expedition to find Kent’s county butterfly across some beautiful down land that was pregnancy waddle friendly. On our actual anniversary we ate fish and chips and ice cream sundaes on the shingle at Dungeness – which was a very lovely way to celebrate in our opinion!


We are also rapidly getting sorted in the house, ready for the baby to arrive. I’ve been off a week so far and have been happily spending my days cooking lots of meals for the freezer, gently tidying and finding homes for things that we still haven’t put away after the move, and attending antenatal classes (cutting it a bit fine there as I’m full-term today, although three weeks off due date still).

Pregnancy: the first trimester 

Now I don’t want to be too negative, but goodness, I really didn’t enjoy the early stages of pregnancy. There was the exhaustion that hit almost as soon as we got a positive test. The worry that things would go wrong to this tiny little thing no bigger than a seed, but that we had already invested a lot of our hopes and plans in (although we said we wouldn’t get too excited). The fact that we had a huge burst of excitement when we found out – telling parents and a few very close friends – but then it all went quiet.

There was also the ‘morning’ sickness, which started off with feeling ill whenever I was getting hungry and tired, but then turned into constant nausea which never really went away, only lessened at some points in the day. Everything I ate made me feel ill. Some days I would wake up, start to try and eat breakfast and then be sick, and usually that would then be it for the day, if I even tried to turn over in bed too fast I would be rushing to the bathroom again. It was like being seasick but without ever being able to get off the boat. I even went off tea and cake which are two of my very favourite things in the world. It was fairly miserable as I never knew when one of these bad days would hit, and because it wasn’t everyday I was loathe to go on pills to try and control the sickness – especially as I was able to stay hydrated so I wasn’t harming myself or the baby physically.

I did struggle with feeling so pathetic though, other people seemed to sail through their pregnancies or would be sick and carry on. I feel like I’m whinging but I think it’s quite important to share how bad I felt, mainly because if someone else is going through the same thing it might make them feel better that someone else found early pregnancy very tough too. I certainly trawled the Internet for people who seemed to be struggling as much as me. I felt there was a bit an of expectation women should be able to carry on in exactly the same way, I had people mentioning how Paula Radcliffe ran marathons and how I should be eating healthily for baby when all I could manage was a weird mixture of sprite and crisps. I’m all for women not having to wrap themselves in cotton wool if they’re feeling good in pregnancy, but when you’re feeling rotten this kind of attitude is just as unhelpful as people being overprotective. Then there was the knowledge that I was incredibly lucky to be pregnant and staying pregnant, so I felt weirdly guilty that I was so disliking the sensation so much, even though I don’t think anyone really likes feeling tired and horribly sick for long periods.

I also had a massive expectation that my sickness would go away when I hit the magic twelve week, end of the first trimester, landmark. This is when we got our first scan and saw our little one moving about for the first time, the sense of relief that everything was OK was so much I was sure I’d start to feel better immediately. I didn’t though, if anything, it got worse. After comparing notes with some other pregnant ladies up to about 16-19 weeks seems to be the magic feel better stage, and it was at this point I actually began to feel human again.

I honestly don’t know how I would have got through it all if it hadn’t been for Will, total kudos to women doing it on their own or with less supportive partners, I have no idea how you would cope. All the cleaning was done for me. Random bits from the shops were purchased every day in case I’d fancy something different. There were trips home at lunchtime to make sure I had everything I needed in reach of the bed. Meals cooked every night to the specific order of things I thought I’d be able to keep down, even though the  food was often greeted by me turning green and running to the bathroom. Breakfast in bed every morning. Lots of reassurance and hugs that I was doing OK. Stupid jokes to try and bring me out of myself a bit.

All of this going on when he was having to make frequent trips away for work (my parents were also amazing at stepping in during these periods!), and taking on more responsibility professionally as well. Two holidays had to be cancelled without a peep of complaint from him. Essentially he was a legend, which wasn’t really a surprise but made me even happier we are having a baby together, and that it would be together in the shared parenting best feminist sense of that word.

That turned out to be a pretty epic post. I will get back to general ramblings about nonsense again soon I promise!

Resuming

Oh gosh it has literally been months! I had not ever imagined I’d have such a long break in blogging, and have really missed it. That thing called major life stuff has got in the way lately. For a start we moved house – we now live in a house by the woods with a kitchen large enough to properly cook in and bedroom view that feels a bit like we live in a tree house (heaven). I wasn’t able to provide an update about this at the time a due to various fun admin errors we were without internet for almost a month after moving in. That Netflix viewing was incredibly sweet when we finally got connected though!

The main reason I’ve been so silent is a little bit further reaching though, I’m preggers! Baby is due in October. With our impeccable timing, this meant that moving house coincided with the start of some pretty unpleasant first trimester exhaustion and sickness. I think Will and I both knew that early pregnancy could make you feel unwell, but we had no idea it could make you feel that unwell. The first few months of settling into our new home were delayed because of this – we only just unpacked the kitchen properly a few weekends ago – and this was the room we were most excited about before moving in. Luckily my work were fantastic, with lots of time off and support (working for a charity has many benefits), although the nature of my job means that me being off a lot meant there was quite a bit to catch up on when back in the office. The day job has been taking priority as I catch up and prepare to handover for maternity leave.

Happily I’m now feeling well enough to start properly writing regularly again, and it is so good to be back! I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m going to take maternity leave from my Sunday nights posts, as most Sunday nights (well all nights really) I am mainly fantasizing about bed, and I think that might get a little dull to read about. I went to bed at 8pm the other night and it was heaven! I’m planning lots of other posts though (including some that have been languishing in the draft folder since February) so please watch this space and thanks for sticking with me this far lovely readers!