Pre-baby maternity diary: Day 10 – To drink or not to drink

Happy St. Patrick’s day people! How unusually awesome is to be sober at 7 pm after spending the afternoon in an Irish pub!

If someone told me I’d survive 9 months without any regular alcohol consumption (and find it easy) I’d call them mad. I blame my previous job. Just recently I discussed this with my pilot friend and we both agreed that upon finishing our duty and getting to our hotel room, there was no other way to switch off and be able to fall asleep than to self-medicate. We were able to get these cute miniature alcohol bottles off the plane for quite cheap money. We called them crew purchase. In my case it was two glasses of wine that were sufficient to dissolve the stress accumulated during the flight and relax me enough not to care about what happened (there was always some kind of drama on board). I stopped drinking just as I stopped flying which is probably the only way I was able to achieve this. It was easier than I imagined it’d be, and I immediately started noticing the perks of being constantly sober.

My wallet thanks me every time I go to a pub and spend £4 on two alcohol-free beers instead of £15 on a bottle of wine (and then some). There is no dodgy kebab or curry take-away to finish the night off because I am sober enough to make healthier dinner choices. The best thing for a control freak like myself is that I am in control of my behaviour at all times. I was always a pretty sensible drunk so the craziest thing I’ve done in the past few years was falling asleep with my contact lenses on and getting a tikka masala stain on my sheets. But still, it’s great to be responsible for all your actions, and consider not flossing before bedtime the wildest event of the night. Also, they say that alcohol slows down your metabolism. A trainer in our gym dramatically calls it poison. I’ve been literally stuffing my face for the past month without gaining a single pound. It’d hardly be possible if there was alcohol involved.

Counting all these benefits I’m seriously considering not resuming drinking once my baby is born. All the money and calories and embarrassing moments I’ll save…….

Nahhhh, just kidding! Already bought a bottle of champagne and a nice Bordeux for when the baby is out! Wheel them in, as the daddy says. I’m assuming he means the beer barrels. Happy St. Patrick’s day kids!

Pre-baby maternity: Day 5 – Too. Much. Baby.

Think of pre-Christmas festive time when you are bombarded by everything Christmassy and it completely sucks you in. Consumed by a false sense of urgency you go mental, searching for additional presents (despite having completed Xmas shopping a month ago), gathering boxes of sweets and giant bags of crisps because you don’t want to run out, watching multiple YouTube videos with napkin folding instructions, and driving from one supermarket to another looking for the perfect turkey.

It’s exactly the same when expecting a baby, except the turkey is your pram and Xmas presents are all the adorable sleeper suits that you just can’t resist buying although you already have one too many. Actually, it’s even worse, because you know when to expect Father Christmas, but baby can decide to arrive at any time making the whole experience even more stressful.

I thought that after assembling my pram and sticking newborn clothes to the washing machine, I’ll be all set. I was planning to stretch my legs and binge watch all the free Amazon Prime box sets. How wrong was I! It took me an hour to figure out how to use a car seat, and after two days of blocking my bedroom floor, my pram is still lying there in pieces that should somehow fit together. Apparently, one ought to use non-bio products for baby laundry. And all the cloth covers of the swingy seat and Moses basket should be washed as well. Now suddenly I need all sorts of items I had no idea existed, like scratch mitts and a baby snot sucker. Oh, and a hospital bag must be packed. A birth plan. Why can’t I just wing this labour thing? Are my sensitive baby wipes sensitive enough? How the hell do I wrap a baby in this odd swaddle cloth? Like a giant burrito perhaps? Shall I launder stuffed animals too? How many nappies of which size do I need? What to do with this breast pump? Shall I watch cow milking documentaries to educate myself? Have I eaten enough protein today? What if my baby is going to be ugly? Can I pleeease have a glass of wine?

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…..simply too much baby.

So I decided to introduce a non-baby day. I’ll treat myself to the first one this Saturday. No baby talk. If you ask me baby related questions I’ll ignore you. Don’t show me your babies either. If there is an infant on TV I’ll change the channel. No breast pads and bibs and teats. Only me with some grown up entertainment and maybe a naughty little drink. The only baby I’ll be willing to acknowledge that day will be baby Guinness. Who’s coming to the pub with me?

Pre-baby maternity diary: Day 3 #loveparkrun

Let’s skip right to the important bit – the highlight of my day which was volunteering at my local parkrun for the first time ever. If you don’t know what parkrun is then you’re missing on some seriously good stuff in your life. It’s a 5K run in your local park that takes place every Saturday morning. If you consider your chances of surviving a 5K run as strong as winning the lottery, do not despair. You don’t need to run, you can walk. Or crawl.

My favourite thing about parkrun is that it’ll be exactly what you make it: a life-or-death race, a part of your marathon training, an opportunity to catch up with friends, a casual stroll in the park, or an unconventional hangover cure. On top of that, it’s all about the community. Parkrunners are friendly and welcoming. If you turn up alone not knowing anyone, at around your 2nd kilometer you’ll have a few new friends (unless you’re sprinting so fast that you leave everyone behind).

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Parkrun is totally free because it’s ran (if you pardon the pun) by volunteers. Being grateful for all this, I felt it was time for me to give something back and volunteer. Besides, at over 35 weeks pregnant, my ability to run equals my ability to resist cookie dough ice cream in my freezer (i.e. it’s pretty weak). A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine mentioned that I look like I’m running while I’m really more like shuffling about. So clearly it was time for me to don a hi-viz jacket and be a tail walker alongside the friend who insulted my running style.

It was a great fun! I enjoyed myself so much that next week I’ll be back doing exactly the same – tail walking and picking up those of you who pass out as a result of previous night’s Guinness consumption. It’ll be St. Paddy’s day! I’ve got shamrock face stickers ready, so head to Upton Court parkrun in Slough, or check where your local one is.

Pre-baby maternity diary: Day 2 – the best things in life are free

Like a true lady of leisure I’m sitting in Krispy Kreme and sipping my coffee. No, I’m not scoffing one of their naughty treats since the intense smell of hundreds of doughnuts being fried behind the glass wall is enough to chase away my sweet cravings. One could say that being free all day must get expensive because I have plenty of time to spend money, but when I recap on all my recent freebies I’m quite impressed with myself:

The coffee I’m currently sipping was free with my Krispy Kreme app (not mentioning the free doughnut you occasionally get – no purchase necessary). In my bag, there is a free bottle of Lucozade (Greggs app, again no purchase necessary), a free box of Jacob’s flatbreads (CheckoutSmart app) and a free pack of Laughing Cow cheese (cashback promo). On top of that I enjoyed my yesterday’s free hot chocolate from Caffè Nero (for downloading their app) and my biggest triumph was a free bottle of bubbly in All Bar One that I donated to my fellow Mummies (All Bar One loyalty app).

As a soon-to-be benefits Mum, free stuff excites the hell out of me! While on a tight budget, it’s great to be able to enjoy myself instead of eating beans on toast day in day out. And I’m not even mentioning all the baby freebies that are constantly coming my way – and will be coming yours too once I educate you on how to get them all. Just watch this space!

The highlight of my day: My boss emailed me “I miss you”. Sorry babes, I’m extremely busy doing my baby laundry and ironing muslin squares…

Pre-baby maternity diary: Day 1 – Mums and retirees

36 days before my due date. My first day on maternity leave. It’s a bit early, yes, but I started to realise that going to work, growing a real miniature person, trying to keep fit and healthy, while handling everyday household tasks on my own was getting more and more tiring. And apparently soon, I’m meant to be ready to welcome a new human to this world. My nursery is nothing more than a pile of boxes with all sorts of baby stuff, and my hospital bag is lying in the corner – containing only a pair of fluffy socks and a multipack of chocolate bars. So it’s time to shift my focus from the less important things (work) to the critical tasks (baby laundry).

Last night, there was a massive “farewell work” party at my place. Party for one. I put on pyjamas and cracked opened a can of alcohol free Heineken that I didn’t have the chance to finish because I fell asleep shortly after 8pm. As I said – a huge wild party!

This morning, there was no better way to start my career as a stay-at-home (at least for a few months) Mum than spending my first three hours of the day cleaning, scrubbing, hoovering and polishing. Every corner of my two bedroom flat is now spotless which gives me a sense of achievement that will last approximately two days when the place starts to get messy again.

Just as I put my cleaning equipment away, a Paypal notification informed me of £32.12 (random amount, I know) that my baby’s Dad thoughtfully sent to feed his unborn son. Feed via me. How very exciting! In All Bar One, I met a few Mummy-colleagues each of whom had a newborn stuck to their boob. We had a lunch and talked about breastfeeding and poop. I didn’t have much poop-details to contribute with, but I promised myself that as soon as I gain some decent poop experience I’ll write a very descriptive blog about it.

The highlight of the day: Seeing a ballet in the Windsor Royal Theatre. Since it was a matinée performance, I was the only person in the audience who was under the age of 70. There were times when I used to hang out with gay cabin crew and hot pilots – now it is Mums and retirees… Hello maternity!

Food tricks you can get away with when pregnant

Let’s admit it ladies – in pregnancy your relationship with food changes. At least mine did. I loved to eat before, but then food transformed from something I enjoy to something I need. As in NEED. To keep my baby alive. No surprise they say you wouldn’t want to stand between a mum-to-be and her meal. If you did, you would be practically threatening her baby’s well-being and she would not be a happy bunny. So don’t you dare to eat that last yogurt in the fridge. No! Don’t touch it! It’s hers.

As my bump started growing I realised that my passionate relationship with food is nothing to be ashamed off. What is more, it seemed to be socially accepted, if not even encouraged. My baby’s Dad was always the “control-yourself-girl-or-you’ll-be-huge” kind of man. Then, when I noticed him trying to serve me the bigger portion of his beloved pasta, I started to realise that there is a whole lot of things a pregnant female can get away with. They are:

  • Eating loads.

Obviously. When you have a bump, suddenly, inhaling a whole pot of Ben and Jerry’s is something you can be proud of, rather than ashamed. Amazing! Although, don’t do it every day because let’s face it – calories are still calories and they add up no matter how pregnant you are.

  • Taking the last of anything.

You know when people share some food and at the very end there is this last piece left that just sits there looking sad because no one dares to be the one who takes it. Well it’s waiting for you. You’re entitled to it. Enjoy!

  • A midnight snack.

Traditionally, on the list of my priorities nothing would be above sleep. Then one night I found myself sitting in bed at 3 am and feasting on a bowl of Special K. I was certain if I didn’t have that bowl of cereal, I’d die of hunger before my morning alarm. Initially I found it embarrassing, but apparently it is just a common pregnancy “side effect”.

  • People will buy you food. 

Let them! People believe that they should feed pregnant women. It’s their way of “helping”. Whether it’s your bestie paying for your lunch or a colleague bringing you a homemade cookie – accept it, eat it, be grateful.

  • Pick & Mix quality control (aka stealing)

Okay, first let me explain to those non-Brits what Pick & Mix is: the best thing ever! You basically grab a bag or a paper cup and load it with your favourite sweets. Yum!

You pay for the content of your bag, but not for what ends up in your mouth before you weigh your bag. Munching on jelly sweets before making a purchase is practically stealing, but I can promise you that if you come to the checkout till, heavily pregnant, chewing on two fried eggs and a sour cherry, no one will say a word.

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  • “The baby asked me for it.”

This is the best excuse when you are caught scoffing something naughty like a muffin just after you ate a croissant. Blame your unborn child. They can’t defend themselves. Plus, no one will dare to question this statement because you  are the one carrying the little creature around.

  • Eating weird stuff.

The funny thing is that you probably had some weird food habits before you got pregnant. Like dipping a digestive biscuit in strawberry yogurt, or pouring sweet chili sauce on literally anything. People found it disgusting. Now they find it cute and quirky. So indulge.

  • Free food.

That’s right! It’ll be coming your way! I can’t pop to my local pub without being served a free toastie or a cheese plate by the owner. The other week we went for a ladies afternoon tea session with friends. While I got a free homemade macaroon from the waiter, my friends got nothing. #sorrynotsorry

  • Food hoarding.

This is an extreme case of stocking up that somehow sneaks upon you and before you realise, your cupboards are not big enough to hold all the “just in case” products and “can’t live without” items. I suddenly found myself owning eight different types of breakfast cereal, because I didn’t want to wake up and fancy a type of granola that I didn’t have access to.

I suppose there are ladies who are fortunate enough to have a dedicated man that rushes to buy the specific food item she fancies in that particular moment. Those lucky ones probably don’t experience food hoarding as intense as mine. But I live alone and am certainly not prepared to run to a shop twice a day, so I had to stock up.

Initially I was worried that I might be perceived as little crazy, but none of my visitors ever said “look at all the cereal boxes you have” so I guess it’s just another thing one can get away with when pregnant…

Pregnancy Cravings
This is not me by the way. I haven’t gone that far (yet)… Photo from https://www.popsugar.com/

 

My overall belief is the following: I am sacrificing everything to grown a human being (from ruining my body and my sex appeal, to messing up my sleep and increasing my stress level, to draining my life savings), so I sure as hell am entitled to get away with some things that non-pregnant people never could. So now if you excuse me I need to phone my local curry house to order a lamb korma for me and a chicken tikka masala for my baby.

Exercising in pregnancy

A couple years ago, I overheard one of our gym regulars excitingly announcing her new pregnancy. That was the last time I’ve seen her in the gym…

Far too often, a positive pregnancy test brings an end to one’s exercise routine. As if it’s not important any more. In my uneducated opinion, in pregnancy, exercise is more important that ever. Not only you are accountable for your own health and body, but you also have a full responsibility for well-being of your little one. I strongly believe that keeping fit is absolutely crucial. So here are my top points why I think you should carry on exercising:

(I am no healthcare professional so my opinions are based on research, personal experience and common sense.)

  1. First of all, exercising keeps you sane. It is widely known that physical activity reduces stress, and trust me, over the nine months you’ll experience a plenty of it.
  2. It raises your confidence. When I squat a weight equal to my peers while my belly is sticking out I sure as hell feel good about myself!
  3. Besides, exercise burns calories and speeds up your metabolism which will come in handy because, let’s admit it, you have one cookie too many on….uhmmmm….a daily basis.
  4. It’s fun! When you have fun, your baby has fun.
  5. It’s sociable. Pregnancy related tiredness often forces you to stay in, rest and socialise less. Popping to the gym with your friend or going for a jog with your running club is a great way of getting some human contact while doing something beneficial for your body.
  6. It energizes you. So many times I crawled home from work exhausted and had to use all my willpower to force myself to the gym. After finishing my spin class I was skipping home happy and full of energy like a spring baby lamb.
  7. Finally, my favourite reason to exercise is that it makes your baby smarter. No kidding! Numerous studies have been conducted and their conclusions suggest that exercising in pregnancy increases your baby’s brain activity. So get moving and grow yourself a little Einstein 🙂 (Check some articles here and here.)

20171231_105645.jpgNow what kind of exercise should you do you ask? My midwife’s advice is to carry on with what you’re used to. Unless of course you are a cage fighter or a ski jumper… Just use common sense. Anything that poses an increased risk of falling off something or getting punched in your belly is obviously a no no. On the other hand, don’t be overly precious. The chances of you sustaining an injury when pedaling on a spin bike are much lower than chances of being run over when walking to McDonalds. I remember how I laughed when a friend whispered to me during a yoga class: “Are you sure it’s safe for you to do this?” I was still in my first trimester so there was no belly preventing me from doing my favourite yoga poses. Please don’t be too worried about what you are allowed and not allowed to do when pregnant, otherwise you’ll make your life a living hell which will have a far worse effect on your baby’s well-being than holding a downward dog pose for a little too long…

FB_IMG_1513015133639.jpgBefore I was becoming a mummy I was a gym freak who always pushed herself hard. Since then I eased off on intensity but not on dedication. The rule of thumb is to listen to my body. If something doesn’t feel right I don’t do it. If I need a break I take it. I aim for 4 to 5 days of exercise a week. This usually consists of one or two spin classes, one weights session or a body pump class, a swim and my local Saturday parkrun (yeah, that’s me on the photos – doing some resistance training and finishing 5K). Overall, this blend keeps me in a good shape and a good spirit, and I sure as hell am not overdoing it. I eliminated heavy weight lifting (now I opt for more reps and lower weight) and long runs (over 10K) with my running club.

If you did zero exercise before, it may seem like a hardcore routine that would be the death of you. I understand. But it’s not all lost. You can take on walking, swimming or some other gentle activities. At the end of the day, using the stairs instead of the lift, or walking not driving to your local Starbucks is a great start. Baby steps 😉

Although I appreciate that a growing belly and brewing hormones are the perfect excuse to sit on the sofa, binge watch Love Island, binge eat Ben and Jerry’s and binge nap in between, please do get up and make an effort. If not for yourself, then for your baby. They rely on you!

 

Choosing a gift for a mum-to-be

It is easy to find a present for a pregnant lady, right?

Technically, pregnancy is nothing more than a necessary nine months long shopping spree. Imagine all the items a mum needs for her new baby, from tiny little clothes to all-singing all-dancing toys, to numerous bath and body products. If you give your pregnant friend / family member a baby gift “just because” she’ll love you for it. But beware when buying baby items as a birthday or Christmas gift for a mum-to-be.

Pregnancy steers all sorts of hormones and emotions. When I received a rubber bath duck from a friend as a way to say congrats I nearly cried since it was the first baby item I acquired. On the other hand, if I find newborn clothes with my name tag under the Christmas tree, I’ll politely smile and thank the giver but they will be on my naughty list. I am not a baby!

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Yes, of course, the baby is inside my body and as a mother I take the little one’s needs above my own. At the same time, I can’t stress enough that I am not the baby, neither a mere baby-carrying machine. I am still me, and surprisingly I still have my own needs. And by needs, I certainly don’t mean the need for a pair of elephant-sized maternity knickers.

Pregnant ladies want to feel human too, you know. You now have an excellent chance to make this happen by choosing a thoughtful gift. My favourite one so far was a home foot spa for my swollen ogre-looking feet. Bliss! If unsure, you can’t go wrong with a voucher for a facial, manicure, or a pregnancy massage. (Someone buy me a pregnancy massage voucher please!) Similarly, cosmetics, perfumes, flowers and heavenly fluffy socks will be a hit. Anything to make her feel pampered and feminine will do. And of course food, lots of it.

If you really love shopping for cute miniature socks, then go ahead. The most thoughtful thing will be wrapping presents for her and for her unborn little one separately. She will adore you for it because you think of her new role as a mother while acknowledging her as a human being.

Pregnancy Survival KitHappy last minute Christmas shopping! Your comments with gift ideas are welcomed…

 Pregnant, not disabled

Pregnancy is the best time in a woman’s life they say. Who the hell came up with that!? A bloke who has no clue at all? A terribly old woman who gave birth eighty years ago and her memory is distorted so she sees her past pregnancies through a pair of pink glasses? Or a female who lacked purpose in her life, so now finally she feels a sense of achievement?

I am neither. At 24 weeks pregnant I am over it, just like I was over my twenties at the age of 26. Someone please finally hand me the baby and I’ll get on with it. I genuinely dislike all this waiting around while growing a human being. Does it really have to take so annoyingly long? I feel like an elephant and each morning I step on a scale I want to cry. All mums-to-be love taking selfies of their growing bellies. Well, I used to love taking selfies of my abs that are now long gone. But the very worst thing about being with child is all the special attention you get from your friends, acquaintances and strangers alike. Maybe that’s where my problem lies. I don’t like special attention.

On my second birthday I apparently announced that now that I’m grown up, I shall be taking care of my business including hygiene and getting dressed. I always liked being left alone and never required a special treatment. I dislike being treated differently.

8e39f0027d7e75c718ecc2cdeb3d97bcThe other day I was in an overcrowded tube carriage and a lady offered me her seat. The worst thing was that she was roughly my age. I felt embarrassed and wished for the earth to swallow me. Similarly, I celebrate a little victory each time I bump (pardon the pun) into someone I know and they don’t notice my growing belly. Two weeks ago I went through my friend’s birthday dinner without raising any suspicion whatsoever. What an achievement!

Don’t get me wrong – I am in no way embarrassed about being pregnant. Rather the opposite! I am proud that soon I can call myself a mum. I just don’t feel the need to advertise it and don’t enjoy being bombarded by never-ending questions about my choice of a baby name, my well-being and the size of my uterus. I don’t want to be viewed differently because I am no different than I was before this whole sperm-egg event happened. I don’t need to be asked every fifteen minutes whether I’m okay. If I need your seat on a bus (hopefully I never will) I’ll ask you for it. I hate to be perceived as sort-of-disabled because I am not. I can still run 5K under 30 minutes. Can you?

Having said all that, next time you spot a pregnant woman on a public transport, go ahead and offer her your seat because the society dictates that it’s the right thing to do. It’s the society that I’d like to challenge. However modern, forward and pro equal opportunities we are, there is still this ancient belief that a woman’s sole life purpose is to have children. Hence, when pregnant she’s finally on her way to achieving her mission and everyone should treat her much better than they normally would. Great. But imagine all the women who can’t or choose not to have kids. For the former we feel terribly sorry, and the latter we secretly frown upon since they are wasting so many good eggs that the former would die for. Once a childless female approaches the age of 40, the pressure from the society increases. Chop chop, you need to have kids and if you don’t you are failing as a human being.

We take pride in calling ourselves a modern society, and as a species we are not lacking offspring in general, rather the opposite. So why all the worshiping of the pregnant and pressure on the childless? Women are free to make choices. Having a rewarding job one loves, volunteering for a charity, or creating something meaningful can be as purposeful and fulfilling as producing babies. Just like other women I have made a conscious choice to carry a child so I refuse any kind of special treatment for doing it. Besides, I am doing it for myself and for the little person, certainly not for the society.

Generally, I am quite result-oriented and that’s why I find the process of growing a human inside me slightly inconvenient, and any special treatment I receive only reminds me of the fact that I’ve gained twelve pounds and am not pleased about it. If you are lucky enough and absolutely love it, I’m happy for you. If you’re also enjoying all the attention and the stream of questions about the number of baby’s kicks per hour, tenderness of your breast and your special dietary requirements, then congratulations – you are in heaven! For me, I’ll just go lifting some weights to pass the time before my little man arrives. No special treatment needed here, thanks.

Actually, now when I’m thinking about it, if I find myself on a sinking ship, I will be taking a space in the first life boat. I am pregnant after all… 😉