Monday, 30 July 2012

Magpie Monday: Pride of Place

As this is my first Magpie Monday I'm sure Liz won't mind if I bend the rules a little bit...

If you visited my house you'd probably think I had limited taste.  Every item of furniture seems out of place.  I've always rented and, for a number of reasons, as I've moved three times in the last four years, all attempts at colour matching, or finishing touches have pretty much gone out of the window - particularly as it looks like I'll be moving again before my little panda's due.

But one thing that I'm really proud of is that, aside from one TV stand, two bookcases and a mattress, every single stick of furniture the Hubby and I own has cost us nothing.  Not a single penny.  Our sofa and armchair for example came from Freecycle, our bedframe came from Hubby's parents, our sofa bed from mine, a bookcase came from a grandparent - I'm sure you get the picture...

But my favourite item, and the subject of my rule-breaking Magpie Monday are my four dining chairs...

Once, many moons ago, I worked as a teaching assistant in a residential centre for children.  Schools would come for activity courses in the week, and individuals would come for weekend "enrichment".  I started work at the centre after spending years doing weekend courses as a child, and for as long as I can remember they had the same furniture.  The same sturdy chairs, the same battered but robust tables.  Until one weekend, I turned up and it was like the entire Ikea product portfolio had descended into the dining hall - and the care-worn items were no where to be seen.

I was all for the furniture being updated - until I heard the fate of the elderly pieces that had been moved on.  I'd imagined they'd been donated to a charity, or re-sold at an event, but no... the chairs and tables that had been clambered on by hundreds of children, been in the centre for at least two decades had been moved outside into the pouring rain, and we're lined up ready for the bonfire.

I was too late to save the tables (they'd already gone up in smoke for a school party) but I somehow managed to salvage four of the chairs from the already rotting pile, and squeeze them into the back of my tiny two-door Citreon AX.  I then spent the summer drying them out.  I sanded, re-stained and varnished the frames, and reupholstered the seats, and re-fixed some of the webbing that had come loose.

That was 6 years ago and those seats are still going strong in the centre of my living room.  And out of all of my furniture it's the one piece that never looks out of place.  It might not be the most modern of pieces of furniture, nor the most sexy - but they've got a real story, and I love them for it.

What do you think?

Me and My Shadow

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Saving for a new arrival

As a nipper I remember being taken to the cinema to see Baby's Day Out, a film where a baby, for some convoluted reason ends up all by himself in a big city. Think Home Alone, but a lot younger.

I remember thinking that if I ever became a parent, although I'd never leave my child to fend for themselves in a big city, I did want to make sure my littluns were as happy as the baby in that film.

But I know that, even if I'm frugal, I'll need to find the money to make that happen.  I've not even started making a list of all the things we're going to need... A buggy, a car seat, a cot... But I can almost see the pound signs dancing in front of my eyes.

Luckily there's Christmas between now and my due date, so I'm hoping that I can ask for some baby focused items then. I've also mentally pencilled in cloth nappies to reduce expense, and I'm even trying to save some pennies now by saving an extra few pounds each month in an attempt to spread the cost...

But if anyone has any futher tips on how I can prepare, financially, for our little panda's arrival it would be great to hear them.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

What is "normal"

I'm tired. I feel like I've spent the last few days hiking through rough ground; every part of my body feels exhausted.

But then, it has been an emotional couple of days all in all.

I've read a fair bit recently on what a "normal" pregnancy is, what hiccups can happen, and what to look out for.   I have to wonder whether all that reading can be counter intuitive.  And you start seeing things that may not be there. I've not experienced much morning sickness for example... Does that mean my pregnancy hormones are low?  Am I not sleeping enough? Should I eat more bananas?

Then on Monday afternoon I had some spotting.  I tried not to be concerned.  I was in no pain and I'd read somewhere that was normal in early pregnancy, but actually seeing blood where you don't expect there to be any is always concerning. So I called the doctors... And I was rushed in for an emergency scan yesterday morning.

The Hubby and I couldn't help but worry. I even stupidly referred to Doctor Google... My emotions swung dramatically when after pages of reading I determined that either everything was normal or I was miscarrying.  I didn't know what to think. So as Hubby and I waited for the sonographer I had to keep beating off waves of nausea - and once again not caused by morning sickness.

The sonographer reminded me of an old school dinner lady, determined to get her job done and me out quickly. I'm sure she is nice enough, but as she was having a good poke around, there was no time for pleasantries. About the most she said was "you can get your knickers on."

Regardless of her blunt nature thankfully the sonographer said everything is normal. Although they can't see our baby yet, the egg sack is a good size, shape and in the right location. Everything is as expected for 6 weeks.

I'm still bleeding. Slightly. And as they can't see a baby yet, there's no heartbeat to confirm. So they've asked me to go back again in a fortnight to see if there have been any changes.

My pregnancy symptoms might be few and far between (apparently that can be normal too...), but what ever is happening we should have some type of confirmation in two weeks.

In the meantime I just have to hope everything keeps ticking along, well, normally.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012


Sometimes things don't quite go to plan do they?

I'm not good with uncertainty. And things are a little uncertain at the moment. The doctors have me booked in for a scan tomorrow to check everything is okay.

I have always said it was early days, I just hope that this is a little blip in the road.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Blood isn't always thicker than water

They say planning the seating plan at a wedding is one of the most stressful situations - trying to balance two families and their relevant feuds for long enough for everyone to survive a single meal is enough to drive you potty... However I'd take on that challenge ten times over than dealing with the wrestling match that is sharing the news that we're expecting.

Our parents and siblings of course came first. The Hubby and I then decided to keep things quiet. No need to shout the news from the rooftops just in case...  The problem is neither Hubby nor I live too close to our families. Our support network is made up of a small group of fantastic friends, but trying to explain why we feel it's important they know over other family members, for example, takes me right back to wedding planning.

Of course our family's understand why we want certain people to know our news, but I can't help but feel guilty that blood can't always come first.  There are some people that, if by some horrible turn of events something goes wrong, I know will be right at our sides. And not all of those magnificent people are family.

Friends are the family you choose for yourself after all.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Trying to get some shut-eye.

I love my eye mask.

I don't know if it's excitment, nerves, or simply the hormones pinwheeling around my body, but for the last few weeks I've really struggled to sleep.

Not fall asleep, that's easy enough, (my head hits the pillow and I'm gone) it's the staying asleep. I toss and turn. I fling the covers left and right. I'm too hot. I'm too cold. I had really vivid dreams...

My poor Hubby is already threatening to go and sleep in the spare bed (he has to attempt to wrestle the duvet from my vice-like grip if I go to bed before him), - he doesn't like disturbing me to reclaim a sliver of matress, but apparently I make it quite clear that I want the entire king sized bed to myself...

I suspect this is the start of a long sleep-deprived journey.  No matter how early I hit the hay I still wake up tired... But then we dug out my eye mask. It doesn't stop the tossing and turning. Nor does it prevent me claiming/rejecting all the duvet. But what it does do is give me more time to sleep.

I stumble into bed shattered, and I wake up only slightly rested. Clearly the flinging myself around the mattress all night isn't conducive to a good night's sleep.  But, at least with my eye mask, I can trick my body into thinking it's still night and grab a few extra hours of dozing.

Shame this morning my beauty sleep was interuptted by some very loud builders outside our window. Maybe I should invest in some ear plugs...

What tricks and tips do you have for getting a good night's sleep?

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Pregnancy is confusing

I can feel my body changing around me. I need to hard boil my eggs and leave my high heels in th cupboard (I am that accident prone and I can't risk falling over!).

I want to be a good Mum. I want to do everything I can to give my little droplet the best chance of being healthy.  I've reduced the caffeine I'm drinking, getting early nights and have even dusted off my stepper for half an hour of gentle exercise three times a week.

But even doing what you thing is right is confusing...

Take these supplements designed for pregnant ladies.  I picked them up in Sainsbury's this week as they were on offer (£6 for 3 month's supply - bargain!):

They're good right? That's pretty cut and dried yes?

But the back of the box tells a completely different story.

Not the clearest of pictures, but take my word for it, the third warning bullet point says "If pregnant, or planning pregnancy, seek medical advice before taking supplements."  Is it just me, or is that conflicting advice for a product called "Mum & Bump"?

Friday, 20 July 2012

Learning to stretch the truth...

I love a BBQ. I have done ever since I was a young girl. It's not so much the food (although I do love a good banger) but the social aspect - I have photos of my Dad sitting in the garden under an  green fishing umbrella lovingly tending a BBQ so we could celebrate an evening with friends. But this weekend will be the first BBQ that I'll be attending with mini-bump.

I might feel like a whale, but my secret should be safe for a little longer as I've never been a svelt lady. I'm hoping people just think I've eaten an extra helping of dinner...

But this weekend's BBQ is the first time that I'll have to decline a tumbler of Pimms, or a glass of wine.  I'm not worried about missing out, but I do worry about people suspecting.

Will there be a limited number of "I'm driving/I'm on medication" excuses that people will accept...?

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Things you never knew you never knew...

I got a call from the midwife today.

In my mind I wad expecting the call to be somehow a big turning point. I knew from a quick hunt on the internet that there wouldn't be a mad rush to get me in - not until at least 8 weeks - but I expected the idea of speaking to a midwife to make everything seem a bit more real.

And it does to some extent.  The fact that I was talking to a midwife sent a tingle through me - similar to one I'd expect to get if I ever ended up in casual conversation with Johnny Depp.  Excitement mixed with disbelief.

But I don't want to count my proverbial chickens, I really want to keep my news secret... So I can't even bring myself to write "midwife" in my diary. That's just too much of a step towards reality.

The midwife was fairly practical, which I respect. She sees pregnant ladies every day after all. The conversation was direct, very functional, but gave me the opportunity to ask any questions. But that's the thing: I didn't have any. Not one...

I should have had hundreds.  What should I not eat? What exercise is it okay to do? Is it normal that my stomach feels like it's stuffed full of cotton wool? How big can I expect my boobs to grow (because to be bursting out of my bras at 5 weeks seems a little extreme...)?

I've always been a fairly chilled out person. As long as everything is under control I just take it in my stride... So I guess that the fact I didn't wring the poor lady for all her midwifery information is a good thing. I'm going to do my best, but what will be will be.


It all starts with a little pink line. Even now, a few days later I can't get over how unsurprised I was. It was like that little pink line was just the final tick in a check list, one that I'd been mentally ticking down for the last week:

Feeling queasy
Never-ending butterflies
Boobs that felt bruised
A late period...

At first you try and explain away your symptoms. Boobs are sore: "Maybe I'm just due" period is late: "maybe I got my dates wrong"...

At first I'd put the tiredness down to the fact I'd had late nights. I'm far from a party animal, in fact I'm more at home tucking up in my pajamas, however last week was different... We were up for an award with work, so I pulled on my glad rags and headed up to The Big Smoke. We won, much partying ensued (there was a free bar), and then, just two days later a leaving-do at work meant I had another post-midnight finish.
I'm still smarting with guilt when I think about the wine I enjoyed. I didn't know at the time...

To be honest, the whole thing is really bizarre, I remember being told what being pregnant might be like when I was at school, but actually feeling your body changing to accommodate something that is currently the size of a sesame seed is something that no amount of reading or being told can explain.

The Hubby and I are really happy, but trying not to get too excited as it's early days. We've told my parents, and my in laws, and now the battle is keeping quiet - I've always been terrible at keeping my own secrets.
I guess that's why I'm blogging. It gives me a way to share my news with less of a worry should anything go wrong.

This is my first.