Babymoons and Sneeze Roulette

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog as the last few months have been quite hard going and in all honesty making it to work and back is all I’ve been up for. I never really passed the Trimester One fatigue stage so I’ve still been largely unable to socialise in the evenings or even be much company for my husband when we both get home from work. A few months ago I just made the decision to accept this though which helped a lot. If it’s past 9pm and I’m still up we both know I’m pushing it so I’m packed off to bed with a big kiss on my tummy and Real Housewives to watch on my laptop. I think I’ll actually look back on this time nostalgically, although it doesn’t feel like it right now.

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I decided to take our babymoon. We both work in travel and know that the amount and style of travel we are used to is going to have to change once our little Chip has arrived, so were quite keen to have one final trip away just the two of us. This was not, however, a typical trip for us; usually we are exploring somewhere far flung and exotic, this time we took a short hop, skip and a jump to the Channel Islands and made Jersey our home for just under a week.

Now, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t buzzing with excitement at the prospect of Jersey for our final fling but it turned out to be everything I didn’t know I wanted: long walks on wide beaches, seafood restaurants along the waterfront, discovering crabs and sea anemones in little rock pools, some great shopping (I picked up a STEAL of a Marc Jacobs bag) and some fascinating history to learn about.

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Standard posing with bump in St Aubin

This sounds pretty idyllic and I’d love to end things here with images of myself and my bump gracefully floating round the beach, eating ice creams and feeling in love. These things happened but so did glutes that ached so bad my husband had to try to pummel them into submission at night, the arrival of my hormonal hysterical crying (a ridiculous story, which I will share with you another day), unexpected morning sickness that left me thinking I’d have to spend a day of my holiday in bed and then the trump card… sudden and unforeseen weeing in the middle of the main shopping street.

Among the many things that the more ladylike pregnant women choose not to share with the rest of the population (lest we should sensibly decide to never be daft enough to get pregnant and go through these things ourselves, I assume) is the not-so-fun game of Sneeze Roulette in the third trimester. Pregnant ladies sneeze more anyway (due to the increase in blood creating more mucus and decreasing nasal channels, I hear. Yuck) which for the first six months is not a huge problem. I actually quite like sneezing. But then one day you sneeze and you think “oh. I think I weed on myself a little then”. This is just your body sending you a teaser. A few weeks later you sneeze, actually feel your body relax, and then know for certain what’s happened.

So my first major foray into this fun game was in Jersey on a busy Sunday afternoon as we were walking round the main shopping area in St Helier. It wasn’t absolutely packed thankfully (who knew shops still don’t open on a Sunday in Jersey?!) but busy enough. I needed the loo as I usually do so was on the look out when I felt a sneeze coming. To be pre-emptive, I stopped walking and concentrated keeping nothing moving but the sneeze. I sneezed, simultaneously felt things relax that shouldn’t relax, and knew it was too late. What do you do? I was literally stood in the middle of the street in a short summer dress.

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Happy and unsuspecting of what was to come later that day 

I stood still and called my husband over who said he knew what had happened as soon as he saw me standing with my legs unnaturally close together. My attempts to catch the offending liquid were in vain though.

“I weed” I said.

“Oh baby. I can see” he replied. We both looked down and saw trickles of liquid running down each leg.

If ever I needed a sign that marrying this man was the right thing to do it was at this time. We walked to a bench and I sat down, rooting through my handbag. Luckily due to all the mucus issues I always have a pack of tissues on me these days. I handed them to the husband and sat forlornly on the bench as he got on his knees in front of me, in the middle of the street, and mopped up all the wee from my legs and feet. Not my finest hour.

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More bump posing (and new bag showing off) at our hotel

It didn’t ruin my holiday, nor even my day, but it was a cruel reminder that I’m not longer in charge of what is happening with my body. Lessons were learned (wear pantyliners from now on as you never know which sneeze will get you – some do, some don’t), husband-wife bonds were deepened, and memories to take to the grave were made on our babymoon.

As we walked from the bench to find an open branch of Boots to buy some future protection I mumbled “I guess I’ll probably laugh about this one day”. Thankfully the beast of pregnancy has not taken my sense of humour yet so here it is to the whole world: The Great Weeing Incident of St Helier.

Food, glorious food: life as a pregnant VMIFie

IMG_7808.jpgI would say that I am Very Much Into Food. I don’t like the term Foodie as to me it conjures up someone very pretentious making a jus or a glass or a foam. That’s definitely not me; I have no interest in it and I’m pretty sure I would fail miserably if I tried to make a foam of anything (even my husband makes my bubble baths for me as I’m too impatient so instead I have to loiter round the flat, occasionally dipping my head into the bathroom: ‘is it ready yet?’ only to be shushed out to wait until I get the go-ahead. It’s v sweet though). But I am Very Much Into Food so I’ll call myself a VMIFie instead. Less catchy but it has connotations with MILF which will be my next role in life anyway…

Like most couples my husband and I have a clear separation of household jobs (him: baths, me: food) and man am I glad I married a man who has little interest in cooking. Now, I’ve definitely heard younger single women throwing around the ‘oh, I love a man who cooks’ but, ladies, if you get one who doesn’t then you get to CONTROL ALL THE FOOD IN THE HOUSE. There’s nothing better. The food planning, shopping and cooking is all my domain. If I want to eat super healthy after a bad week, we do and he will smile and say it’s delicious. If I want am craving comfort food like fish fingers and chips, or in contrast if I decide to cook vegan for a week, I do and he will smile and thank me for cooking. He won’t even notice the difference. And if, in a gastronomically inspired moment, I plan intricate dishes over a weekend and spend double the usual at Ocado, NO-ONE WILL SAY ANYTHING. I love the control and I love love cooking.

For the last few years I’ve had a weekly organic vegetable delivery from Abel and Cole which I top up with extra bits from Ocado or Sainsbury’s. Getting our Thursday box of vegetables has been a surprising highlight (seriously, that may make me sound like a loser, but don’t knock it til you’ve tried it) but one of my tragedies of trimester one of pregnancy is that I lost the ability to eat anything with any remote nutrient-rich content, and had to knock my poor little box of organic veg on the head for a few months. Quite how my baby grew on a diet of crisps and bread I’m really not sure. I tried to make up for it with gallons and gallons of orange juice and the odd yoghurt but I know I wasn’t really doing the right thing for my body. I tried and tried to eat a healthy diet (my pre-pregnancy dinners usually consisted of fish and steamed veg; for the last few months the best it has got has been beans on toast) but I was just buying food that I could not force my body to eat.

Like most mums-to-be I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time online reading pregnancy websites and diving into oh so many pregnancy forums. You can google literally the most bizarre pregnancy symptom and will find hundreds of women who have been discussing it online in the last few years. In one low moment when probably googling something very hormonal and pregnant like ‘am I hurting my baby by only eating beige food’ I read a comment from someone that was exactly what I was looking for. It said (and I paraphrase):

‘You have plenty of time later on in your pregnancy to eat well. Your baby is getting what it needs, just eat what you feel like for now’

I could have kissed the screen. This was what I needed to hear. I realised that fingers crossed there are six whole months during pregnancy where I can face ‘normal’ food so why don’t I just go for it if all I want for the time being is Bombay mix and a tub of Ben and Jerry’s? So I did. I ate and ate and ate and felt no shame.

A month or two on, I’m now at the point where I can stand to look at, and even eat, most foods again now. My husband has, with visible relief, exited the kitchen where he had gallantly stepped in for a few months (often with me slumped in a kitchen chair giving him step by step instructions) and I’ve tentatively re-taken my rightful place as the VMIFie of the house. The Abel and Cole delivery came again for the first time this week. Hooray! My only minor problem now is that I’ve conditioned my body into expecting beige food and going on autopilot to the pastries aisle or to my office tuck shop. Sometimes I don’t even realise it’s happened until I’m two pain-aux-raisins in. So I’m in ret-raining this week. This afternoon I’m going to be going through my poor neglected recipe books and finding some nice dishes just to remind my mind and body how much we do actually love to do this.

Watch out little baby – some vitamins are on their way!

Let’s be honest…

IMG_7791I’ve finally entered my second trimester. It felt like a long time coming and that I’d forever be stuck in the loop of never-ending nausea coupled with the anticipation/doom of the impending 12 week scan. Does anyone enjoy the first trimester? I feel like it’s woman-code everywhere to not talk about how tough it really is. Or, the reality is probably actually that, as most people have passed the hell-filled first three months by the time they announce their pregnancy they are just so happy to be feeling better and don’t want to dwell on the past.

It’s hard though. It’s tough to be feeling so tired, so sick, unable to eat anything and to not be able to talk about it. Deep down we are all little children and when we feel ill we just want to be able to say it out loud and have someone understand what we are going through. Having instead to go to work and try to act as if everything is normal, even if you’re hiding your belches in meetings, or surreptitiously mainlining crisps before a catch up with your team as they are the only thing that make you feel better (for five minutes) is not easy. At one point I broke down in a meeting with my boss on a morning where I’d had to run from the train station to the office as I thought I was going to be sick and didn’t want to do it on the road as all my colleagues trotted past, and just ended up crying ‘but how do women do this?!’. I know I’m not the first working woman to be pregnant but I couldn’t understand how this is what working women are actually going through but no one talks about it. I felt like I must be some kind of failure as surely other women don’t struggle like this. I’d certainly not heard of any who did.

Luckily I have a very supportive boss who gently explained to me that women cope by occasionally taking sick days, and then suggested I go home. He was basically telling me to give myself a break, and at that moment that permission was everything I needed. It also helped me enormously to know that other women did struggle and that he knew personally of women who have had to take time off in the first trimester. I just wish women spoke about this more.

Another thing I wish I had realised was ok was not seeing friends. When I found out I was pregnant one of my early thoughts was ‘Ok so I have to find a reason for not drinking when I’m out’ which I found an easy answer to: I’m on a health kick (the old antibiotics story is like waving a huge womb-shaped flag that reads I’M PREGNANT). I did not, however, anticipate that the mere thought of doing anything after work – and I really do mean anything – would be so abhorrent to me that I would never need this excuse. As I trundled through my first trimester I kept trying to keep plans, even making plans too, but eventually, one by one, I cancelled every single one. Every single one. For two and a half months I did not do a single thing other than work and sleep, aside from one brief breakfast with a friend and one work dinner that I had to attend where I made an excuse to run off at 8pm.

Again, I assumed I could do it all still as I assumed that’s what all pregnant women did. I now am in major doubt of that. If you are a pregnant woman in your first trimester who is still managing to make your pre-pregnancy trifecta of work/gym/social life work then, frankly, I’m in awe of you. But I suspect most of you are not. But that’s ok! Let’s just tell each other.

So here I am: IT’S OK TO FEEL SO ILL YOU CANNOT GO TO WORK. I did. IT’S OK TO FEEL SO EXHAUSTED YOU HAVE TO LEAVE EARLY. I did. IT’S OK TO MANAGE YOUR TIME SO SOMETIMES YOU CAN MISS THE RUSH HOUR COMMUTE. I did. IT’S OK TO CANCEL ALL PLANS GO TO BED AT 8.30PM EVERY NIGHT. I did. IT’S OK IF SOMETIMES YOU CAN ONLY EAT BREAD AND POT NOODLES. I did. You will eventually be able to face salad again.

So let’s start being honest. And there’s one last thing I want to be honest about. It gets better. I’m in week 14 now and all nausea has pretty much completely gone. I’m not so tired and am back to actually having engaging conversations with people. I’m sleeping better on the whole. My boobs definitely don’t hurt as much. I’ve told much of my friendship group and family so I don’t have to lie anymore. And, best of all, I have a cute little bump to remind me that it’s not all been in my head this whole time…