The glamorous world of motherhood!

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Apologies in advance if this post seems to be somewhat of a rant! In all honesty it kind of is!

Maternity leave has brought about being awake at times of the day when there are few people to chat to, such as 4am. Or when you have a couple of minutes to yourself (admittedly I try to use this time to go to the toilet, or pretending to go to the toilet for a bit of peace). I have found that at these times I don’t have enough time to read a novel, or my eyes just wont stay open enough to concentrate on anything serious. Instead I find myself on Twitter or the Daily Mail TV and showbiz section reading trash.  It is here that I find myself feeling frustrated. Frustrated seeing all the celebrity new mums. The most refreshing story I could read would be a celebrity mum admitting that motherhood is not easy.

Reading articles about mum’s doing press tours with a two-week old, theatre runs with a six-month old and public engagements with a young baby does not do justice to how much work goes in to being a new mum. Unless I had a completely different experience to every other mum. I personally think Amelia is a pretty easy-going baby and we have it good. But if I look at all these women looking glamorous, dressed-up and looking as though they never had a baby I start to think perhaps I’m making a meal out of motherhood! Seeing photos of a celebrity on holiday just weeks after the birth of their baby with a flat tummy, no stretch marks and perfectly toned bum and thighs leaves me feeling inadequate. Admittedly I never had a flat stomach or super toned body as my baseline, but I wasn’t overweight. I couldn’t fit into my old clothes for the first 3-4 months after she was born. But then I didn’t want to get glammed up. Honestly, you’d be lucky to have seen me out of my pyjamas before noon. I also had to think about the practicalities of what I would wear because I might have to breastfeed at any moment.

This brings me to my next question – how many celebrity mothers genuinely breastfeed exclusively or at all? I couldn’t be away from Amelia for much time at all for the first three months or so. She was feeding so frequently, and if she took expressed milk then I needed to be expressing at regular intervals in order to not have breasts that felt as if they were ready to explode and so that I could produce enough milk to keep her fed. Again, maybe I just made more of breastfeeding than I needed to. Perhaps that’s why I’m in a state of anxiety wondering if she will be ok in nursery since she rarely accepts milk from a bottle any more.

I guess we don’t see what’s going on behind the scenes, and who they have helping – relatives, nannies, and personal trainers – and perhaps this makes life a little easier. We also don’t see whether they have been forced to undertake such work commitments via contracts, etc. Plus I don’t need abs of steel to make a living. I don’t know whether celebrities claim statutory maternity pay. I guess not in most cases. Perhaps I also need to consider how they really feel about their situations. Maybe they’d like to be at home spending every minute with their little one and not worrying about how they look. But in order to keep the jobs coming in they must work hard to get back to their pre-pregnancy appearance. Plus, in some cases they probably have more opportunity to take their children with them to work. Once I return to work it wont be possible for me to have Amelia waiting on the sidelines whilst I am carrying out surgeries.

All I can hope is that all the new mother’s, or mothers-to-be, out there appreciate that being a new mum is not a breeze. It is not about looking fresh-faced and perfect, or having the perfect figure within weeks. It’s about learning how to look after your little one and making the most of this period of time. It’s about sitting in your pyjamas as much or as little as you’d like. It’s about eating whatever you need to get you through the day (or whatever’s in the house), feeding your baby in whatever manner suits you and them best and doing the best you can. Whatever you’re doing, it’s most likely the right thing!


Not another bag!


thumb_IMG_8858_1024I have always had a close relationship with bags. From the necessity of having a new backpack for school each year and the best bag possible for my PE kit, to even the finer details like which pencil case I would next need. It was bordering on an addiction. I haven’t told many people this story, so you’re in on a shameful secret I hold. Only a few months after starting work and meeting some of my now best buddies I saw that Gap were collaborating with Mulberry to create a limited edition bag. It was great value at something like £60 compared to the few hundred pounds you’d otherwise spend on a Mulberry Bayswater handbag. This was my chance to own a Bayswater, albeit in red. But I could rock a red handbag right? It was around Christmas time, on a Saturday when Oxford Street was closing the road to traffic for a Christmas shopping event. I managed to convince some of the girls to come with me, knowing that the only way I’d get on of the Bayswater bags was to queue. I have never before, and never since, queued for fashion.  We took the train into London, hopped on the tube and joined the queue that curved around two corners. The time finally came for our chance to get in there. Everyone knew it was about hunting down the bag. It was right there in front of my eyes…but it was red corduroy. I grabbed it and instantly realised it was nowhere near what I had imagined. Yeah it had the features of a Bayswater, but it really wasn’t what I was looking for. It also wasn’t really worth that much money. I carried it around for a while wondering how I would break it to the girls that I didn’t really want it. I considered buying it anyway out of guilt for forcing them to get up so early on a Saturday morning and standing in a queue in cold weather. Eventually I admitted it, and to my relief they were glad. They too thought it wasn’t worth it and had been considering saying something to me. It’s taken some time, and willpower, but I no longer have such obsessions with bags. I have a trusted small selection, and cannot recall the last time I purchased one.

So when the time came that I would have to consider trading my usual bag for a nappy bag, I was certain I needed to make the right purchase. I needed one that was practical yet stylish. Good value yet reliable.  I spent a lot of time on Google searching ‘best nappy bags’, ‘most practical changing bags’, etc. I looked at things like the Mother and Baby awards shortlist, read other blogs, Mumsnet, etc.

I shortened it down to two brands – Pacapod and Storksak. I had seen a lot of women with the Yummy Mummy bags, and whilst I thought they looked cute I wasn’t sure how the Husband would feel about carrying it on his shoulder. This also ruled out a lot of patterned styles. These two brands had plenty of neutral styles and colours. After some further research I had pretty much settled on a leather Storksak bag. I had some vouchers, and thought they would contribute nicely. I made the mistake of taking someone rational with me when I went to buy it though. In my head I had thought that it was a leather bag, nice enough to carry on using after it no longer was required as a changing bag. That, though fairly steep in price, it was going to last a while, and therefore good value. Though we were in agreement that it was a nice bag, it was highlighted that it was quite expensive and perhaps I already own other bags I may revert to using once I no longer need to carry a changing bag around. True, I thought. So I found a happy medium with the Storksak Bobby.

Am I pleased with the bag? Yes is the definitive answer. I love it. It is a great size, with a removable bottle holder bag and a nice little changing mat. It has plenty of compartments and is not too bulky. It is big enough that I packed it as her hospital bag when preparing for her birth. Whilst breastfeeding I used the bottle pouch as a compartment for storing all the necessary bits for nappy change time.

What do I keep in the bag?

In the end pockets I always have some tissues on one side, and her Sippy cup in the other one. I have several nappies, which I always top up at the end of the day, along with some Metanium everyday cream and a pack of wipes. I also keep a few little nappy disposal bags in case we can’t dispose of the nappy immediately or, in the cases of poolosions occurring, we can put any soiled clothes in one. With this in mind I always keep a spare change of clothes –vest, leggings and t-shirt. These are often one size too small if we have been lucky not to have such an incident since she has grown into the next size. There’s a little pacifier case, which I store a hairclip in so we can get her hair out of her face if need be. I the bottle pouch I keep a selection of food pouches, a fabric Gro Company travel highchair, a bib and a spoon. There’s always a toy or two, a muslin cloth and a comforter. Just lately we’ve been adding a little coat into the mix too! What’s in there for me? I have learnt to travel light with just a purse, phone and a pen! My bag when I go out without her now looks very empty compared to all the paraphernalia I used to require.

Would I change anything about the bag? Sometimes I do find I can’t always zip it up unless I have packed it just right. That’s usually down to the bottle pouch being probably just a little bigger than it needs to be. I don’t regret not getting a leather one. If I had a leather one it would be filthy and water stained. We have been caught in showers, I have taken this bag to the beach, she had vomited on it, etc. It still looks just fine. A leather one would probably look pretty tatty by now!


Which changing bag do you own? Would you recommend it?

Preparing for baby’s arrival – what you need now!

Preparing for Amelia’s arrival was pretty daunting. Not least because we needed to make sure we were ready with all the right equipment we might need to look after a newborn. It was around this time last year that we were in the process of amassing all the ‘essentials’. A number of my friends are currently in the same position. I thought I would share with you what we found to be the most useful purchases in the run up to her birth. The best way to look at what is essential is that you need to be able to keep baby warm and clean, provide them with somewhere to sleep and move them from A to B!


Car seat


By far the most important piece of equipment! You are expected to take baby home in a car seat, and be able to strap them in with no assistance. We didn’t do a great deal of research on car seats, instead choosing to go with recommendations from friends. Most friends had gone with a Maxi-Cosi. Research that we did do showed that there was a lot of support for the Kiddicare Shuffle. However, we preferred to have a car seat that fitted in with isofix. We selected the family fix base to go with our Maxi-Cosi Pebble so that when she moves to the next size up we would not need a new base. The most reassuring part of the car seat is that the base lights up and beeps when it is correctly fixed into the car, and the seat is correctly attached to the base. In addition, the car seat fixes to our pram base with the correct adaptors. It is sensible to make sure the base is fixed into the car a couple of weeks before the due date, or that you’ve practiced fixing the car seat into the car. Being ahead of schedule the husband had to get the car seat fixed in whilst I was getting ready to leave for the hospital! We hadn’t tried fitting a teddy or doll into the seat and tightening the straps so we had to get a little advice ‘off the record’ from our midwife who discharged us. It can be a little fiddly to get out of the car, and one day I couldn’t get the seat back into the car because one of the fixings had not reset itself when I had last removed the seat from the base. Cue a lot of panic until my rational side took over and retraced all the steps!


Sanitary towels and breast pads


It’s easy to make sure you have everything ready for the baby but forget about yourself and what you might need. Trust me – these two things are crucial. Get plenty. Get the biggest maternity towels you can. They don’t need to be fancy – I had Tesco’s own brand maternity towels and found Asda’s breast pads to be perfectly comfy and functional. A tip – if you think your waters might have broken, but are not sure, then use a maternity towel. I used a standard sanitary towel and they’re actually very good at being absorbent. So much so that the midwife could not tell whether my waters had gone or not. Some other useful pointers related to these two items – I bought a couple of cheap packs of big pants from the supermarket, and used these after the birth. Some people suggest disposable pants but I found a pack of simple pants worked just as well, and are reusable. Get some good maternity bras. I really liked the M+S ones ( They’re perhaps not the cheapest but they have stood the test of time (lots of wear, use and washing). I found I needed to wear bras at night, with the breast pads, for quite a long time and these were really comfortable. Plus they accommodate the wide changes in size that your breasts go through whilst breastfeeding. If breastfeeding I cannot recommend nipple cream enough. I used Lansinoh HPA lanolin cream. Numerous people recommended it, and one friend explained that though she had tried plenty of cheaper alternatives this was by far the best. You don’t need to remove it before feeding either. I found that it was most required in the early weeks as feeding was established. You don’t need much each time, and as such I only used one tube so it was pretty good value. A word of warning – it’s greasy. Make sure you put a breast pad on after using it as it stained my pyjama top to the extent that I couldn’t get rid of the grease marks and had to throw the top away.


Crib/Moses basket


We bought a moses basket following reading what we should buy in preparation for baby’s arrival. It lasted about three months before we decided to get a crib as she was outgrowing the basket but we weren’t ready to move her into a separate room, and therefore into her big cot. The moses basket was useful since it was portable around the house. However, our pram top was also suitable for moving around the house, and was designed so it could be used as a travel cot. In fact during the first couple of weeks she preferred to sleep in this compared to the basket. Though perhaps this was due to us not getting a better mattress than the one that came with the basket. On reflection I am note sure whether we would buy the moses basket again if we did it over again. I think we would go straight for the crib. Quite a few people I know bought the cribs that fit alongside the bed and have found these really useful. What I do wish I had bought earlier was the Sleepyhead. I wonder if she would have settled in the crib more easily from a younger age had we had this from birth.


Nappies and wipes


Stock up on these in the run up to the birth. I took advantage of baby events at the supermarket to buy the biggest sized pack of both. My initial supply of wipes lasted me about six months! Plus we had stocked up on enough of the first size nappies to last until she was ready for the next size up. It was great to not have to worry about last minute supermarket dashes or online orders. We bought one changing mat but some friends gave us a couple more. At the time we tried to resist being given them, thinking that we already had one. However, it was useful to have them as it meant we could keep them in different locations and not have to either a) change nappies in the same place each time or b) carry changing mats around the house.


Pram/Travel system


We probably spent the most time researching this. We took advice from friends, looked at awards for baby products, the Which website and product reviews on websites. We settled for an Uppababy Vista. The reasons for this being it’s multifunctional use and longevity of use. It has a great pram top that doubles up as a travel cot when required. I really love how much space the basket has – I can go around the supermarket with the shopping bags in the bottom and do the scan as you go. The car seat fixes to the pushchair base with an adaptor. I would say this is a little fiddly to remove. I don’t have anything else to compare this too so I don’t know if this would be the case with other car seats or buggy systems. This buggy is also great for future proofing. Using adaptors it can be doubled up to become a double buggy. I have used it for this purpose to transport Amelia and one of her little buddies, using the car seat and the pushchair seat. It worked very well and was easy to set up. The buggy is also really easy to manoeuvre and has a great turning circle for tight spaces! It is perhaps a bit bulky when collapsed down, compared to some others. However the wheels are easily removed which does make it more compact. I also like the height of the seat. I have noticed that some other systems are very low in height compared to the Uppababy. The handle bar is also adjustable which is fantastic for parents who are a foot apart in height difference!


Muslins, vests and babygros


A reasonable collection of these is very useful. It is likely you will be gifted with many babygros but it is useful to have a few of each to start with. Some inexpensive ones are all that’s required. Muslins are extremely useful for wiping any milk or vomit up. Or averting a spray of wee when incidents occur! Larger ones can be helpful for swaddling baby too. We had numerous poop escapes from nappies. Baby poop in the early days is amazingly good at dyeing clothes a nice yellowy colour. Therefore inexpensive vests are all that is required. I spent a lot of time soaking vests in vanish and washing powder.


Ewan the Dreamsheep


He may be seen as a luxury item to some but in our household he has become a necessity! We have used him from day one and found him to be of great help in settling Amelia. See the recommendations page for more details on him. The only piece of advice I will give on him is make sure you have a stock of AAA batteries to hand. Though we look back on it fondly, I am not sure my husband found searching the house high and low, at 3am, for batteries to bring Ewan alive, the highlight of paternity leave!


There were many items along the way that we couldn’t understand why you would ever need them, such as a mirror for the car seat, or a nappy disposal unit. However, we now have a mirror for the car seat, and we completely understand why you would want a nappy disposal unit. We bought the mirror soon after her birth and find it really useful to keep a check on what she’s doing whilst we are out and about driving. The nappies are pretty innocuous in the early days, but as soon as we started weaning her they changed! We haven’t given in to the nappy disposal unit so far but I think that time might come soon.


There are also things that are useful but just not straight away. Examples include monitors. We didn’t use a monitor until a few weeks after the birth. We started using it once we started putting her to bed upstairs. Even then we only used it until we went to bed and then she was in the same room as us. As I said at the start – the essential all relate to sleeping, travel and keeping baby clean and warm. I should add that it might be useful to have some basics for bottle-feeding, even if you are hoping to breastfeed. I meant to get around to this but with her arriving two weeks ahead of schedule I didn’t. Some friends had they baby over Easter weekend and needed some formula due to breastfeeding difficulties. It was not as easy as you’d think when the shops are closed for Easter. Think ahead if your EDD is close to a bank holiday!


If there are any items you found ‘essential’ or wished you hadn’t bothered with then please share!

New Year, New resolutions!


Have I made a New Year resolution? I’ve had ideas about them but in all honesty none have come to fruition thus far!

There are plenty of challenges to face this year – returning to work, continuing to learn how to parent, etc. As Amelia grows each day and reaches new milestones we are faced with new problems – the most current being how much do we need to baby proof the place and how many stair gates do we need!

Many New Year resolutions revolve around quitting something or dieting or getting fit. The last one is something that I real ought to incorporate into 2016. Just before becoming pregnant I was doing really well and exercising four to five times per week. I hadn’t made significant changes to my diet but liked to think I was eating healthily and making efforts to cut out as much processed food as possible. Things started off well in the early weeks as I was still maintaining the exercise and eating well. Then the morning sickness and tiredness arrived and my efforts waned. I probably lost some weigh in the first trimester due to a lack of appetite.  During the pregnancy I gained around 12kg in weight. I started out with a BMI in the ‘normal weight’ range and so this was around the right amount of weight gain for me. Each woman is different and the expected weight gain during pregnancy is influenced by your pre-pregnancy weight. The rumour that we need to eat for two is simply that – a rumour! Up until the third trimester we do not need to take in any extra calories, and during the third trimester we only need an extra 200 calories. This is equivalent to approximately two slices of wholemeal bread or a small bowl of cereal. It is safe to exercise in pregnancy, but you should bear in mind your fitness level and not go from zero exercise to all out high intensity exercise suddenly. Build it up gradually. There’s some good information on the NHS website at

During the pregnancy I became very slack with exercise in all honesty. I tried to keep active but rarely participated in specific exercise sessions. From around 22 weeks I started a Pilates class specifically for pregnancy and also pregnancy yoga sessions. I found both of these really great for helping build strength and avoid aches and pains. The yoga also helped prepare me for labour with some breathing techniques and ways to manage the pain of contractions. I changed from standard yoga to aqua-natal yoga at around 33 weeks. The aqua-natal yoga was great as it gave a greater relief from the weight of the bump during the last few weeks. I continued this and the Pilates right up until the week of labour. I then restarted the Pilates after my six-week postnatal check. I continued this regularly until December but have been very slack over the Christmas period!

I have just recently reached my pre-pregnancy weight and fit back into all of my clothes (minus the odd top which still doesn’t accommodate my new chest size). As they rightly say – It takes nine months to make a baby, and your body goes through some significant changes, so expect it to take a similar time period to return to your pre-pregnancy state. At around 10-12 weeks after the birth I went through a period of feeling pretty good as well has having plenty of people about to watch Amelia whilst I exercised, but this didn’t last long and I have been mostly lazy. I can’t say it worried me massively, but in the back of my mind was the feeling that I needed to resume some exercise. When I am in a good routine I feel better in myself, I have more energy (weirdly enough) and I sleep better. There is also the thought that if I were to become pregnant again in future I would like to start off from a good level of fitness and tone.

So in preparation for the New Year I looked at lots of options, including gym memberships. I was close to taking one out with a big chain, since they have crèche facilities. However, when I called them the rate on the website was less than the current rate available. Taking into account that I am now into my 10th month of maternity leave I felt it was a big expense, and considering my track record with gym subscriptions seemed like a possible money pit! So I will continue with my Pilates class and I have got the latest Davina McCall DVD. I have used her DVDs in the past and found them fun and easy to follow. Her latest one also has a five-week plan to follow. So I will give it a go. The aims – get fit and develop strength. I have no desire to lose weight. To support this I am making greater effort to eat well and healthy. I have so far cooked every day bar one this year which, considering the period around Christmas involved numerous takeaway meals, is good going for me! I have got myself a supermarket delivery pass because I find that if I shop online I tend to stick to the list and not end up with lots of snacks and wasted food. I will give you an honest update of how I am doing in February!

In addition to this obvious resolution, I would like to read more fiction, and not just limit it to holidays. I aim to continue to have fun with and give Amelia plenty of my time when I return to work. For her – I’d like to keep her trying a variety of food, and make sure we are really good about reading to her each bedtime. I’m also going to try and use the baby signing more at home so she picks it up and finds it helpful to communicate whilst her speech is developing.


If I can achieve the above this year then I will be more than satisfied. Everything else will be a bonus! Do you have any new years resolutions, or suggestions for how I can maintain mine?


Losing control of the delivery


I write this article knowing that this time last year I was still ignoring the fact that one day the baby making my bump get bigger and bigger was going to have to come out one way or another!

As December 2014 arrived and the 20-week scan had been reassuringly normal, I started to join some antenatal groups – Pilates and yoga. It was at these groups where I started to be exposed to other pregnant women, outside of my social group and my workplace. I was the new recruit, and as such the other women tended to be further along in their pregnancies. I’m not sure when most women start to think about the labour process and delivery of their baby but these women were all far enough along to be putting bags together, thinking about pain management in labour, etc. I admitted at these groups that I continued to live in blissful ignorance of how our little girl was going to arrive into the world.

That last sentence is perhaps not strictly true. As a medical student and doctor I did attend a number of labours – both straightforward and complicated, but mostly complicated.  I think I wanted to be completely ignorant to the birthing process but unfortunately knew too much to be in such a situation. Instead I was trying to block all my previous experience out and hide from the reality of the situation. I had tried to leave it a suitably long time between the last delivery I was in attendance of, and having my own child to help this situation. In my head I had visions of complicated labours, forceps, a ventouse, big needles, tears and episiotomies, and CTGs (electronic fetal monitoring).

So I eventually decided, around January time, that I might need to start thinking about this more seriously. There was a page in my maternity notes for me to complete my desired birth plan. Whilst many aspects seemed pretty easy to know what I did and didn’t want there were some more tricky areas. Things that I wasn’t too sure about what the answer should be. But in the back of my mind my greatest fear – being overdue and needing to be induced. A lot of the concern surrounded the little chart in my notes, produced at the scan. It gave a rough estimate of what the birth weight of my baby would be. If born 2 weeks late she was looking to be around 9lbs or so. I am 5”3’ and petite. I grimaced every time I thought about the prospect of delivering at 9lbs baby, and the ease with which such size of baby would pass through my birth canal! So my secret hope was that she would be delivered by 40-weeks. Another worry I had was the process of induction, and the success of them. In my time as a doctor I had seen many women being induced. I had done many weeks of on calls in the hospital, returning 12 hours later to find a woman still waiting for something to happen, seeing the drips they were given, the epidurals required to deal with the painful contractions that lasted for days, the need for assistance from use of a ventouse, to requiring a caesarean because nothings happening. I heard the experiences of friends and acquaintances who’d undergone inductions. I realised I just didn’t want that experience. My birth plan was for a labour that was as active as possible – I wanted to keep up and about for as long as possible. I felt that an induction had the potential to be quite the opposite. I worried that I would end up required an epidural early on to manage pain, and this would affect my ability to keep active. I also was very keen to avoid labouring for a long time, and then requiring a caesarean. I know that a labour that wasn’t induced could potentially be much the same but I really didn’t have control of when I would enter labour spontaneously, whereas I should have some control over being induced. I also knew that I wouldn’t be prepared to put my baby at risk, as may occur if you choose to continue to wait. Many sources agree that the risk of stillbirth is higher after 42-weeks of pregnancy. So I decided that should I be overdue I would wish for a caesarean to be planned on the date that I would otherwise be induced. I discussed this with my husband and he fully supported this decision. It was then time to broach the topic with my midwife.

I was nervous, as I know many midwives are keen for women to have as normal a birth as possible. However, my midwife was lovely. She asked a few questions to investigate my decision making process and offer further support in making such decisions. She then referred me to a consultant obstetrician for further discussion. I attended this appointment with my student midwife sister. We were there for more than an hour speaking to one, and then another, consultant. They questioned my decision making, the amount of experience I had in obstetrics, what my husband thought and his degree of experience, whether I had ‘tocophobia’ (the fear of giving birth!) and whether I wanted to have counselling. When in fact I had ‘melonophobia’ (the fear of giving birth to a baby the size of a melon!). They gave me statistics about induction and caesarean, they gave me other options – more sweeps for example. I took it all in, and felt that I was reasonable and listened to all other options. I just felt they couldn’t offer me what I really needed, which was reassurance that I wouldn’t be put through an induction, it be a long drawn out process and potentially end up having a caesarean anyway, in an emergency setting. I had prepared in advance of the appointment and knew that guidance stated maternal choice was a reason for caesarean.

In the end I was pencilled in for a caesarean for a date that would occur if I were 12 days overdue, with a plan that I would have cervical sweeps if they were possible at 40 and 41 weeks. My final decision was made because of my strong belief that I could live with any decision that I have made and is my own. In such circumstances if anything bad happened I could blame myself. However, had I been convinced to have an induction and anything went wrong I would hold the blame against those who convinced me to make the decision. I really didn’t want to live with such feeling. Throughout the appointment I kept reiterating that I felt this was all hypothetical and hopefully she would arrive on time. I was proved right, as the conversation clearly spurred her out and she came to the world safe and sound two days later!

The first trimester!


I write this post on a sunny Saturday morning of the August bank holiday, thinking back to last years August bank holiday. Last year we were living it up in Positano on the Amalfi coast. We were with great friends enjoying summer in the Mediterranean. We had travelled light, and packed at the last minute as had become the norm for us (though still packing at the last minute today we have loaded the boot with masses of paraphernalia for just one night away, two hours down the road).

Last summer, we made the decision that the time was right to expand our family of two. Having returned from an adrenaline filled trip to Costa Rica, we had three weddings lined up, three weekends in a row. It was a month worth of excess – partying, eating and perhaps a few too many drinks. It was a fun time that was followed by a month of trying to eat healthy and get into shape.  August began and along came a few symptoms – breast tenderness, needing to go to the toilet at bit more and no period.  I figured I ought to consider the possibility that pregnancy was on the cards. One test and a picture message later, my husband and I were faced with a whole new experience. As most people do, we were keen to keep it quiet until we had a scan to confirm our suspicion. We did, however, tell our close family. I would have much preferred to do this in person but we were off on holiday with two of our closest friends and there was going to be no hiding it from them (the only alternative for them would be to believe I’d had a personality transplant) We were going to be in Italy – the home of Prosecco and cured meats.

So we went on holiday and had a great time. I had the occasional twinge of nausea and couldn’t manage a large meal but otherwise felt fine. The hardest part was needing to think twice about whether I was supposed to avoid something or not. This led to a very bizarre conversation in a restaurant/nightclub where there was a seafood set menu. Trying to clarify what they would be serving, we realised it would be swordfish. Knowing that this was a definite no-no due to the mercury levels in such fish we tried to request an alternative. The quote of the night went to the waiter who proclaimed “I have three children, and my wife didn’t avoid anything and my kids are normal”. Lets face it, what is ‘normal’ is very subjective, not seeing them for myself I couldn’t take the risk! Now I wasn’t militant about the food – I’d eaten some cured meats (it was impossible to resist), but I drew the line at swordfish, where there was a clear, scientific reason to avoid it.

After returning from holiday the symptoms really set in. I could now empathise with women who had expressed early pregnancy as being a tough experience. Though not actually vomiting, I felt sick for much of the time. I struggled to do the food shopping since I didn’t feel like eating at all. The shopping trolley would be full of rubbish – cup-a-soups, ginger biscuits, spaghetti hoops and rice pudding to name but a few. My husband reached breaking point when dinner was served one evening and it was one small tin of spaghetti hoops, split between the two of us, on toast. From then on his mum provided our dinner for the next 3-4 weeks (potato curry and pea curry). Our fruit trees were ready to harvest and I spent an evening reluctantly making batches of plum and damson jam with the nausea feeling at the forefront of my mind.  My first jam-making experience was supposed to be one of pleasure and pride at the outcome. I just felt relieved that I’d got it out of the way and could go to bed. I was falling asleep on the sofa at eight o’clock in the evening. We didn’t need to feel upset that we were avoiding social interaction with friends because it was the last thing I wanted to do anyway.

The relatives that knew found my pragmatic approach to the pregnancy at this stage a little strange. My medical background left me with the thought process that until we had the first scan I really didn’t see the pregnancy as anything more than a possibility. The scan, in my eyes, could show anything to be the case, and anything could happen in the lead up to this scan. We went to the booking appointment, which was very straightforward, and awaited our scan appointment. It arrived in the post on my day off. The first thing I felt was frustration at the fact it was for a day and time when I would be working. I rang and changed it to the only alternative slot that was suitable – the Friday morning that we were going on holiday for 2 weeks. We researched the option of having the scan privately but our rational sides took over when we considered the cost of this and the hassle that the results wouldn’t go straight to our midwife. Had there been an option, we would happily have paid a supplement to have and evening appointment within the NHS. This led to the realization for the two of us that there will be times when one or both of us need to make compromises for the family, which in all honesty I don’t think either of us were used to making where life and work was concerned.

So, on the Friday morning we arrived, me with a full bladder, for our scan. It was a surreal experience to see this little baby for the first time looking so perfectly formed at only 10cm long. Unfortunately the picture doesn’t reflect just how lovely she was (not that we knew she was a girl at that stage). She was wriggling so much the picture looks like a seahorse. Our relatives were waiting with baited breath for that first glimpse of their future grandchild/niece, and even they agreed the picture was a little ‘interesting’. From this day onwards I relaxed about the pregnancy and we fondly referred to the little one as fuzzball, or fuzzy for short.


And so we went on holiday…..