Teddy’s Nine Month Update

Nine months in, nine months out.

How is my little nugget nine months old today?

When did that happen?

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Look how grown up. Sitting on a proper chair and drinking through a straw.

Yes, Teddy is turning nine months old – he’s been out in the world nearly as long as he was floating around somewhere in my abdomen, giving me plenty of hearty kicks in the ribs and using my bladder as a trampoline.

He still does that. He just does it from the outside, nowadays.

The biggest change this month has probably been – finally! – the advent of TEETH. Yes, Teddy has his two front teeth at the bottom, and they’re bloody sharp. They’ve still not come through all the way, but they’re almost entirely there. He’s not had much bother with them at all, to be honest. I think we had a couple of bad nights, just in the first week of them breaking through, but we’re handy with the Calpol if they seem to be bothering him. And he absolutely loves Dentinox teething gel. Ugh. He’s really taken to brushing his teeth with Peggy Quinn (a toothbrush shaped like a penguin, if you’ve ever had the ‘pleasure’ of watching Baby Jake on CBeebies you’ll get it) but he’s got to have a go himself – definitely not a Mummy-only job.

Ted is turning out to be such a lovely little boy. I’ve definitely noticed he’s getting more affectionate; when he wants a cuddle, he puts his arms out, and he’ll climb up my leg if he wants attention. He’s not particularly bothered by other babies, still; in a room full of other little ones, he still tends to crawl away and do his own thing (perhaps doing a quick minesweep for any toys he likes the look of that don’t belong to him on the way out). He’s definitely me and Kev’s child – a bit antisocial. And loves patisserie (he had his first croissant the other day – big hit).

I say he’s antisocial, but that’s only when it comes to other babies. He absolutely loves grown-ups, and whenever we go anywhere for coffee or lunch he loves to stand on a chair and chat to people at nearby tables. He gets quite comically sad when they don’t chat back. He’s very friendly to adults and has a few definite favourites; he absolutely lights up for my mum, loves to climb all over our friend Mel at choir (luckily her lovely boy, Sebastian, quite enjoys coming to me for a cuddle too!) and giggles with joy every time he sees Dan at Eat.

He’s still hitting all his milestones, not quite as speedily as before; it’s like he’s got to the point of crawling and cruising, and decided learning to actually walk would just slow him down now. He can crawl at the speed of light, after all. Honestly, I can’t leave him anywhere. It was so nice when he was tiny, to be able to put him down and know he’d still be there when I got back. Now… he could be anywhere. He climbs, too, and if I leave anything that presents any kind of foothold near the sofa, he’ll be up on it and determinedly clambering up onto the desk to bash at the computer keyboard.

I’ve got to say, Ted’s got a lot more vocal in the last month. He’s really found his voice and loves experimenting with different sounds. There’s lots of ‘da-da’ and ‘ba-ba’ and ‘ga-ga’ – only ever ‘ma-ma’ when he’s sad or angry! We also get treated to some lovely raspberries and velociraptor noises, though thank goodness he’s stopped doing this in the middle of spoonfuls of food. That was getting messy. Nowadays, when Ted is particularly happy, he can’t keep the joy in and he has to wave his arms around and squeal. When he’s chasing his beloved ball up and down the hallway, it’s cacophonous with screeches. He sings too, quietly squeaking little tunes to himself in the pram when he’s facing forwards.

His favourite things in life are watermelon, fish curry, and flushing the toilet. He also love Justin Fletcher, aka the patron saint of CBeebies. Honestly, his face pops up on the screen and you’d think the sun had just come out, based on Ted’s smiles. He’s also developed a bit of a penchant for In The Night Garden… as have I. Oh dear. To my great joy, Ted’s also starting to really like books – well, he pulls them off the shelf and mauls them, but there’s been a recent increase in actually sitting still and listening to the stories. Come on, he goes to Waterstones at least once a week if not more, the love of books will be instilled in him at all costs!

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Another favourite thing: the washing machine. He’s recently discovered it has buttons to push and it’s the Best Thing Ever. Especially when he’s already pulled down all the oven gloves and tea towels to play with too.

He still sleeps through the night, most of the time anyway. I’d say he sleeps all the way through about five nights out of seven, and that’s from eight-ish until between six and seven in the morning. On the occasions he does wake up in the night, it’s only ever because he’s crawled up his cot in his sleep and banged his head – he can always be settled in a matter of minutes with a stroke, a cuddle or a dummy.

I’ve not noticed a massive difference from eight months to nine months, to be honest; Teddy just keeps on hurtling towards toddlerhood with determination. He’s never been keen on being a baby – sitting still, having everything done for him. He’s craned his neck to look around from day one, and been determined to get moving and independent as soon as possible. Every day I look at him and see a bit less chubby baby and a bit more of the little boy he’s quickly becoming. Slow down a bit, Ted, Mummy needs to catch her breath!

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November…

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…last night. Still my tiny.

A Week In The Life: Part 1

By the way, I’ve decided to start doing a little review of my week. Allegedly, according to my head, I’ll do one of these every week… but let’s face it, I’m the flakiest of flakes when it comes to blogging so this might not last long. Either that, or it’s going to be the kick up the arse I need to get blogging regularly again. Can you believe, back in my Blogger days (don’t try to find it; you won’t succeed), I used to blog at least every other day? For a while, I challenged myself to do it¬†every day!¬†How the hell did I find the time? How the hell did I find enough to talk about?!

Anyway, we’ll see how this goes. It might end up being every week, it might be every other week or even less, but it’s something I’d like to do. I’ve already forgotten so much about Ted’s tiny-babyhood, I want to make sure I document his life a bit better so I can look back on it in the future.

WARNING: this post is largely about bodily fluids. It’s not for the faint hearted.

This week has been… panicky.

On the surface it’s just been a nice, normal week. If you look on my Instagram, there you go, baby spam as usual, all present and correct.

But at times it’s been a bit stressful.

Last weekend, Ted started – TMI coming up, beware to those of you with a nervous disposition – to get The Poos.

Nappies. Of. Doom.

Until you’ve dealt with an eight-month-old baby with explosive diarrhoea shooting out every forty minutes,¬†but still happy enough to shriek with joy and stamp in the poo before you get the nappy off, you have not dealt with life.

I wish I was exaggerating. But that’s my boy: he was probably having awful stomach cramps, I can only imagine the horrible burning liquid poo situation, but he was still giggling and making a break for the hallway (stark naked) while I was crying and trying to clean ochre porridge from his legs. And his sleepsuit. And my jeans. And (ugh) my hands.

But it seemed to have cleared up by the time I got home from work on Monday. My first proper weekday, and it was absolutely fine; so busy over lunch the hours just flew by, so quiet in the afternoon I could get everything cleaned up without having to rush around. My new colleagues seem like a great bunch; I think I’m going to enjoy being back at work as much as is humanly possible to when you work in retail.

Anyway. A couple of horrible nappies aside, Ted seemed to be getting back to normal. So on Tuesday, I had no qualms about taking him to my friend Jo’s house for a little playdate with her baby, James. Another friend, Lauren, was there too, with little George. All lovely, all fine and dandy, delicious lunch made by Jo… and then it came to feeding time at the zoo. Aka, Teddy-lunch.

It seemed like all in one go, all hell broke loose. James was crying for his own lunch. George was crying because he was having his nappy changed. And right at the end of his pasta bolognaise, Ted did a massive burp and started throwing up.

Properly vomiting.

Ugh.

He’s never been a sicky baby; the occasional milky posset when he was tiny, but nothing much more than that. This was different. This was real. Proper human sick, heaving and heaving and smelling of bile.

All over himself, all over poor James’ floor seat, all over poor Jo’s floor.

So there were two babies screaming blue murder, Ted retching like an extra from The Exorcist, and me yelling “OH GOD OH NO OH TED AARGH BABY NO STOP OH GOD!”.

Anyone who says maternity leave is easy needs to go and watch that ten minutes of our lives and think again.

Thank god Jo has a sensible head. While I was still flapping around with a bit of loo roll she’d whipped away the tray Ted had puked on and volunteered everything from the bath to spare clothes.

Ted, meanwhile, was happily trying to eat a sicky dish sponge and wondering where his bowl and spoon had gone.

I took him home once he’d got cleaned up. Little sod was absolutely fine; he had a good old sing in the pram while we walked through Didsbury, then promptly fell asleep for the entire walk home. He woke up obviously feeling happily refreshed, sucked down a bottle of milk and had a banana.

I, meanwhile, was a big ball of stress, panicking that he was going to be dehydrated, terrified that he wouldn’t keep anything down, wondering if I should call the doctor…

The next morning, I decided we’d skip our usual Wednesday baby group at Waterstones, and have a nice calm day in the house. Partly because I didn’t want to potentially infect other babies – partly because I wanted to stay within easy reach of a stack of muslins, kitchen roll, and the bath, in case Ted started puking again.

One nappy full of poo in the morning, and that was it. Ted was absolutely fine. In fact, I was more exhausted after our ‘quiet’ day in than I ever am when we’ve been out in the day. It seemed like one long slog of a day, racing up and down the hallway ‘playing’ football (aka Ted chasing his football up and down while squealing with joy), plucking Ted down from the desk when he’d climbed onto it, stopping Ted climbing up our bedroom wardrobe, pulling Ted out of the washing machine, putting the food processor back in the cupboard after Ted decided to play with it… all accompanied by the endless mundane loop of Justin’s House and Bing on the TV.

Motherhood is so glamorous.

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Dressed as Woody from Toy Story, having just pulled all the DVDs off the shelf again. Poorly, my arse.

We managed to get back to normal for the rest of the week. We went to the Mother and Baby Choir at Chorlton on Thursday, which we both love. I love having a little sing (even though I’m tone deaf and probably should be a little – lot – quieter about it) and Ted loves crawling round and round the room stealing toys from other babies. He also absolutely adores The Wheels On the Bus, which we sing at the end of every session.

I remember when I was pregnant… “Oh, we’ll just introduce the baby to good music from early on. Metal, of course. We’ll take him to festivals with ear defenders and he won’t know anything different. We won’t need any of those daft nursery rhymes!”

Insert hollow laugh here.

Ted’s favourite is probably still The Wheels On the Bus, though he’s also a great fan of Head Shoulders Knees and Toes, and the ubiquitous Wind the Bobbin Up. Row Row Row Your Boat is also a great favourite, as is If You’re Happy and You Know It. He quite enjoys watching my Nightwish DVDs, but every other band leaves him cold.

He’ll learn. One day.

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He loves it so much I even got him a singing Wheels On the Bus book, which is the new bane of my life. Beep beep!

We did one of the Waterstones baby groups on Friday, which are also brilliant. I hate hate hated baby groups when Ted was tiny: my social anxiety kicked in in a big way and I just sat in the corner, grinning manically at anyone who smiled at me then failing miserably at making conversation. I was convinced everyone else was so much more grown-up than me, so much more motherly.

Now, I make a real effort to join in and have a good time, and it’s paid off. We have a lovely time, and even join some of the other mums for coffee after the Waterstones groups. Yes, I spend most of every session chasing Ted across the floor as he decides he wants to crawl off and pull books off the shelves, but still.

It was great on Friday because it was payday… and I was given the extra boost of Ted having an epic two hour nap in his pram after tiring himself out at Waterstones. I could go shopping!

Obviously, I’m only just off maternity leave, so I’ve still got to be very careful about money, but I tell you what… Primark is bloody brilliant at the moment. Cheap and cheerful, and bursting at the seams with Disney things. I’m not remotely ashamed of the fact that most of my summer wardrobe is either branded with mouse heads, or a sneaky Disneybound (I’ll get into that at some point). In the great rainstorms of the past week I developed a hole in my trusty trainers (it might have been there a while but I only noticed when rainwater started seeping in) so on payday I ‘nipped’ into Primark to replace them. One nip later and I had a veritable haul.

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I’m writing this on Saturday evening, and we’ve had a pretty nondescript day. Tesco, Levenshulme Market, and Aldi. Exciting stuff. Ted’s got two days with his daddy now while I pootle off to work – I’m not going to lie, I’m looking forward to the half an hour each way on the bus where I can read my book in peace. I have a self-imposed reading list as long as my arm and every time I go into Waterstones, it gets longer and longer. I might have to go to work, but at least it gives me some reading time!

 

Semi-Annual Life Update

Oh look, I’m back again!

God, I’m a terrible blogger. Two posts then off I go again.

I believe the last time I wrote I was six months pregnant, home from a lovely – if sweaty – trip to Germany for a pounding heavy metal festival. I was sunburnt, knackered, but excited for my impending maternity leave. And, obviously, my baby.

He’s here.

Obviously, he’s here. It’s been a year. A year!

Edward Albert Peter Robinson. Known as Teddy. My boy Ted.

He came into the world on November 1st, 2016 (somewhat reluctantly, but that’s a story for another time) and instantly turned all our lives upside down.

I know, I know, terrible clich√©. But it’s so, so true.

In the space of a minute, my world refocussed on its axis. I don’t revolve around the sun anymore. I revolve around this tiny tornado of a little boy.

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Teddy at six months old – isn’t he a stunner?

Teddy is eight months old now – nearly nine months, actually – and I know, I know, I’m his mother, I’m biased, but isn’t he just the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen? He’s a proper sturdy little boy; when he was born he weighed nearly ten pounds, and he likes his food. He’s never been one to go in for weight loss, just like his mother.

He’s always been fabulous when it comes to anything physical – he rolled over before he turned four months old and was full on crawling just before six months. Now he pulls himself up on the furniture and scoots along on his feet, and can toddle along if he’s pushing something in front of him. He won’t hold my hands and do it, though – he’s somehow fiercely independent at the same time as being quite a clingy mama’s boy.

He’s a right little mischief already. He loves to climb, and sometimes when I’m sitting on the floor I think he’s come over for a lovely cuddle… Nope, he wants to use me as a ladder to get up onto the sofa and thus onto the desk to play with the computer mouse. Or onto the windowsill to try and knock the lamp onto my head. He’s worked out which button on the DVD player makes the tray come out and will stand in front of it for ages pressing it over and over again. If I let him, he’d spend half his life watching the toilet flush, chewing on some toilet roll at the same time, of course.

Doting mama, much? Of course I am.

How have I spent my maternity leave?

It’s been quite a blur, actually. Those hazy newborn days, where I was scared to sleep in case Ted stopped breathing in his Moses basket. They seem like so long ago, now. Years, not months. I got through the entire series of The Crown on Netflix before Ted was two weeks old, and I couldn’t tell you half of what happens.

Ted’s always been such a good baby, though – I couldn’t breastfeed, but he took to the bottle immediately, has been weaning gloriously, and has been mostly sleeping through the night since around six months – I really don’t have anything to complain about. Maternity leave, which has just come to an end, is going to be forever in my mind as a peaceful, happy time. I just wish it could have lasted forever!

Kev has been absolutely amazing, he’s an incredible dad. Right from when we got back from hospital and he cooked me a ridiculously expensive steak to keep my iron levels up after a haemorrhage and a blood transfusion, he’s been hands-on and fabulous. Teddy adores him and now I’m back at work two days a week, he’s over the moon to have his ‘boy days’.

I’ve been so well supported, and had such a good baby, I feel like I really should have been more productive on maternity leave. I’ve been writing, almost non-stop in fact. Ted’s never had a problem snoozing in his pram in coffee shops while I scribble away. In fact, that’s exactly what he’s doing now, while I type.

I went off onto my leave with the grandiose idea that I’d end it with at least one book finished. Well, I kind of achieved that. At least, I finally finished editing my Guernsey-based leap year story… but I’ve hit a massive block, trying to make the synopsis work before I send it out. My other two giant projects… I’ve delved into them from time to time, but the inspiration keeps running out and they both remain unfinished. I wrote pages and pages of notes for two new writing projects, only for the impetus to bugger off as soon as I actually started the writing process. I even tried vlogging for a while, but the pressure to look human enough to film was a bit much, especially with Ted’s napping time decreasing by the day.

All in all, though, I’m not hugely bothered by the fact I’ve not technically ‘done’ much on maternity leave. I’ve not finished a book; I’ve spammed everyone on Instagram with countless baby photos instead. These nine months might not have been productive, but they’ve been precious. I’ve got to know this adorable, daft, cuddly little human that Kev and I somehow managed to make, and it’s been the best nine months of my life.

So what about this blog? Am I going to write this and then trot merrily off into radio silence once again?

It’s entirely possible. But I have a whole massive list of things I’m dying to write about, and this is the place for them. Oh, I might be a baby spammer now, but I’m a chatty one. And, frankly, I think people are getting sick of me rambling out loud. So it might have to go on here; far easier to tune me out in print than in person!

I’m going to end this post with a couple of collages of Teddy-pictures. You know, just in case anyone reading this happens to have avoided my Instagram for the past eight months. You’re not escaping the baby spam that easily.

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Heavy metal festivals and pregnancy: recipe for disaster?

Short answer: no.

Long answer: all types of no, why would you even ask that question?

The tales of my adventures in heavy metal could probably fill a book. At least one. I had a good few years of touring drunkenly around Europe: getting into trouble and generally having a fine old time. Gradually, after meeting my husband, I grew out of it – the causing-trouble parts at any rate – but I’ve never stopped loving the music, the sheer atmosphere of a live show. When it comes to my favourite six or seven bands, I’ll still try to get to at least one show on every tour. So when the opportunity arose to go and see Sonata Arctica at RockHarz festival in Germany this summer, I jumped at the chance.

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Literally a month after I booked my flights, I found out I was pregnant.

Cancelling the trip never even crossed my mind. I did some calculations – I’d be just on six months pregnant by the time July rolled around. Still early enough to fly without a doctor’s note (just); late enough that the morning sickness should have passed. The glorious, glowing second trimester, that’s what everyone says, right? People still seemed surprised, however. I had so many people telling me I should just cancel, that it would be ‘safer’. That I wouldn’t be able to enjoy myself.

I’m very glad to say that I proved them wrong. I did have the occasional challenging moment that I wouldn’t have encountered pre-pregnancy, but the bands I went to see were as excellent as always and I had a marvellous time.

I thought I’d take this opportunity to share my ultimate festival tips for the pregnant people among us – pointing out more than anything that you don’t have to stop doing the things you love just because you’re having a baby!

1) Don’t camp.

Honestly. I know for many people, camping is part of the joy of a music festival. I am not one of those people. I’ve done it: back in 2009 my best friend and I determinedly did the ‘full festival experience’ at Greenfield, Switzerland, neon green pop-up tent and all. It was uncomfortable, but doable.

For somewhat convoluted reasons, this tent was known as 'The Sandal'.

Dearly remembered. Ish.

This time around, my friend and I stayed in a charming little spa hotel about 10km from the festival grounds. My already achy back rejoiced in a comfy bed rather than a dodgy inflatable on solid ground; my battered bladder was very happy with a clean, private toilet with reams of loo roll; my screwed-up sleep pattern would have been toast with hordes of drunken revellers staggering around at four in the morning. This might be a sign of age, but I’d recommend the hotel route for¬†anyone¬†heading to a festival nowadays. Give me a bed and hot water over ‘campground atmosphere’ any day of the week.

2) Do get hold of VIP passes if you possibly can.

At most festivals, you can pay a bit extra for access to special VIP areas. You can also get these if you’re an officially registered photographer, or if you have an in with a band. If you’re pregnant, do this any way you possibly can. At RockHarz, our passes came courtesy of Sonata Arctica (cheers guys!) and honestly, for this alone, keyboardist Henkka Klingenberg is worth his weight in gold.

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Wristbands of usefulness.

At RockHarz, there was only a small VIP area, cordoned off with a fence and containing a couple of shacks for food and drink, but it had the most important amenity I needed at six months pregnant: proper seating! Not just a patch of questionable grass to call my own when my back started to hurt; actual deckchairs, some in the shade, and some on a sunny platform where we could watch the stages. Honestly, it sounds like such a simple thing, but just having a decent place to sit on and off saved my back and pelvis so much pain. Also, the VIP area actually had working WiFi – luxury indeed in the valley of poor phone signal!

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Two very happy (aka smug) not-campers in our deckchairs.

3) Don’t put yourself in harm’s way.

This should go without saying really, but when you’re pregnant it’s extra important. Being at a heavy metal festival, obviously you’re always going to encounter mosh pits and headbangers. It’s very true that metal fans are generally a considerate bunch, and will only mosh with clearly willing participants; they’re well-known for practically beating one another up in a pit then helping one another up when they get knocked down. But when you’re pregnant, don’t take any chances: stay away from the pit! For that matter, definitely duck out of the way of crowd surfers too. They’re irritating at the best of the times but when you’re six months pregnant, trust me, you could do without a New Rock boot to the head.

I was lucky during Avantasia when a pit broke out to be standing right behind an absolute tank of ¬†a man, who was utterly immovable and determined to keep his girlfriend out of harm’s way. He was like a walking city wall: useful to have around if you can loiter around a similar specimen.

If things do get a bit much, don’t be a martyr for your friends: you’re going to spoil their fun a lot more by passing out or getting yourself hurt. If you start to feel bad, leave your friends and get out of the stage area to¬†find somewhere to sit (preferably in the nice shiny VIP area). And for the love of god, don’t try sitting down in the middle of the concert area: I encountered someone who did this¬†at a Nightwish gig last December, and honestly, it’s not a good plan if you don’t want to be accidentally booted in the face.

4) Do pick your festival carefully.

This is of course a matter of personal choice, depending on your favourite bands, the weather, the location – many things. I feel that RockHarz really was the perfect festival for me at this stage of pregnancy.¬†It wasn’t huge; we could walk from the car to the stage in ten minutes, and could pootle merrily to the front row without even turning a hair. If I had been at somewhere like Wacken or Download, I would have had to spend most of the day traipsing across potentially muddy fields, and I would have been far more exhausted and achy than I actually ended up.

Equally, being six months pregnant means being hot. Not sexy-hot (though I totally am, obviously), but overheating. It’s just a fact that carrying this extra weight in the middle of summer leads to one big sweaty mess; plus, of course, it’s not healthy to totally overheat while pregnant. A festival in Germany was the ideal choice rather than say, Italy or France: it was sunny enough for me to get a tan (OK, to get my pasty British legs thoroughly burnt, but that was my own fault) but not so hot that I reached dangerous levels of dehydration.

5) Don’t use public transport.

As a non-driver, most of my gig trips have, by necessity, involved getting intimately acquainted with local public transport. I’ve become quite good at it, but it does still sometimes end up with stress: a certain incident in a flooded Czech Republic middle-of-nowhere at 2am springs to mind, trying to call a taxi with a dodgy phone connection and a terrible grasp of the Czech language. When you’re pregnant, you¬†really¬†don’t need that extra strain on your blood pressure, especially in festival locations where timetables can be unreliable at best.

I was lucky on this occasion that my lovely travel companion does own¬†a car and was happy to drive to RockHarz: indeed, it would have been near-impossible to get there without one (thanks to a lot of roadworks, it was near-impossible to get there¬†with one!). It really made the whole festival experience easier for me, especially because of the whole being-pregnant thing. No panic about timetables or taxis, no confusion in a foreign language, somewhere to leave all our junk throughout the day… and most importantly, somewhere I could have a cheeky nap when I inevitably got knackered mid-afternoon.

6) Do remember that non-alcoholic beer exists.

Totally trivial, but it made a difference for me! Personally, it felt a little odd,¬†being at a heavy metal festival without having some form of alcoholic beverage permanently attached to my hand. But you know what? Non-alcoholic beer tastes practically the same as normal beer, especially after months of total abstinence. And it’s also¬†way cheaper. No, you’re not going to get any kind of buzz off it, but being surrounded by great music and atmosphere will give the right¬†effect anyway. For me, it helped to make¬†me feel like I was still the same person I’ve always been – rocking out to some pounding heavy metal, a beer in my hand and a grin on my face – just with a rather more rounded tummy and a miniature¬†future metalhead kicking away inside my uterus.

All in all, I had an absolutely awesome time at RockHarz this year, despite being over six months pregnant and the size of a small boat. It was of course made all the more potent by the fact that it’s probably the last festival I’ll be doing for at least a couple of years. I¬†did see quite a few families ambling round¬†with babies and toddlers (with the requisite ear guards of course) but personally, my husband and I have some other plans for our first couple of family holidays. Rest assured, we’ll be back in proper festival action in the future, the new generation of metalheads proudly keeping live music alive alongside us.

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Funny Story

It’s been a while since I blogged.

February. I wrote a ranty confessional post, upon yet another period arriving, about the ‘joys’ of trying to conceive.

Er. So. About that.

Within twenty four hours of writing that blog post, the period that sparked the ranting just seemed to… dry up. Vamoose.

That night I had a massive howling breakdown on my husband’s lap about a smelly stuffed monkey that had gone mouldy and had to be thrown away. When we moved house. In November.

Then a little later, sitting on the sofa minding my own business, I had the weirdest, spiky, prodding pains in my tummy. Something I’d never had before. It only lasted a few minutes, but it was enough to spook me.

You can see where this is going, can’t you?

Yes. The next morning, when my husband had gone to work, I got out one of my several thousand cheapy pee sticks and had a little go; even though I’d tested (repeatedly) before the period showed up and it had all been a resounding no. But the period had gone. Better to be safe than sorry, I guessed.

Was that… a line?

I held it up to the light. I squinted. I started to shake a tiny bit. It looked like a line. Only a faint one, but a line. Having spent a lot (a lot) of time looking at angry white spaces on pregnancy tests over the previous few months, I was pretty sure I could tell the difference.

I didn’t let myself get too excited. Could have been an evap line. Could have been me finally cracking and hallucinating.

But I had a more expensive First Response test in the drawer. Ahh, what’s the harm?

Definitely a line.

Still faint, but there was no mistaking it. Brazenly pink, there it was.

I started really shaking. I think I may have also been somewhere between sobbing and hysterically laughing. While also blasting Halestorm through the bathroom at ear-splitting volume. My neighbour must have thought the world was ending.

I had one shot left in my arsenal: the one I’d been saving especially for this occasion. Back when I’d first mentioned the whole trying-for-a-baby business, my best friend had bought me one of the most expensive pregnancy tests on the market, an all-singing Clearblue Digital. I wanted to save it for a time when I could actually be pregnant, when¬† I wouldn’t have the crushing disappointment of starkly being told ‘NOT PREGNANT’ in big black letters.

It came up in seconds.

‘PREGNANT: 1-2 WEEKS’.

Cue absolute howling and approximately forty five missed calls to my husband (I ended up barrelling into his work to tell him because he couldn’t pick up the phone in the middle of a lunchtime rush).

I was pregnant.

And approximately twenty weeks later, I still am.

image The current state of my fridge door

So this poor blog got rather neglected. Firstly, of course, I didn’t want to break the whole pregnancy news until after 12 weeks. Superstitious like that, and I had a horrible case of anxiety that it was all going to go wrong. It didn’t help that I was in and out of hospital with bleeding on and off for those first twelve weeks. It’s still kind of going on now, to be honest; I was back there again yesterday, though everything is fine. Stress, etc, bla bla bla.

I did mean to carry on with my 52 book challenge, but I couldn’t. Firstly, almost everything I was reading was based on either babies or pregnancy, and I thought it might give the game away a little bit. Also, my brain was so full of all things baby, I couldn’t concentrate on any of the nobly literary books I’d planned to read. It just kind of… fell by the wayside.

I just felt that I couldn’t carry on writing on here when my mind was so very, very elsewhere – I thought if I tried writing about, say, what I’d be watching on the TV, I’d just blurt out with “I’M HAVING A BABY EVERYONE A BABY HONEST A REAL ONE WITH FEET AND EVERYTHING” in the middle of a gentle paragraph about my hopes for the next two years in Game of Thrones.

But I’m back now, bump in hand. Boy bump, to be quite precise – we found out a couple of weeks ago, and he’s perfect. Quite the little wriggler, actually; every time a midwife attempts to hear his heartbeat, she has to chase him round my uterus with the doppler because he won’t keep still. He’s somersaulting around right now, actually, giving me a good booting in what remains of my belly button.¬†I’m already bloody enormous, and I’m only just turning twenty four weeks in the morning. I’m going to be the size of the number 22 bus by the time this baby is evicted – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’ve been told by a few people that I’m so (brazenly) honest about pregnancy that I should blog about it. No haze of pregnancy glow around here! Thinking about it, they might have just wanted me to stop rambling on about it to them. Ah well. I’m here now, and although I don’t plan on being one of those ‘mummy bloggers’ with weekly belly-updates and the like, I do intend to prattle¬†a bit more often from now on.

Let the irritating pregnancy blog posts commence!

TTC Confessions

Time for a nice little downer post. Yes, I’ve officially become “one of those trying-to-conceive nutjobs”. I’d say I have no regrets but you know what? I’d much rather not be like this. Just for the moment, it’s all got a bit too much and I need to blow off some steam with some confessions.

Confession Number 1 – Every period is like a bereavement
I only have to see a spot of blood now on more or less the right day and that’s it. I only let myself full-on wallow for a day, but it still feels like every single cramp is a punishment. You didn’t ‘do’ it right, you’re too fat, you lifted too many boxes, you got too stressed. That’s the rhythm that beats in my head, constantly for at least six days in every 24.
When I see that blood, it doesn’t matter how good everything else might be. For that first few minutes, I sit there every single time and wish the world would end and take me with it.

Confession Number 2I’m pretty sure I know more about the biology of conception than most medical professionals
I’m an obsessive researcher anyway; anyone who’s ever had the pleasure/misfortune of going on holiday with me knows that. Throw in my own body and my future and I hit whole new levels of obsession. At a push, if someone went into labour in front of me right now, I’d be able to deliver the baby. At any point in the month, I can tell you which hormones I’m supposed to be releasing and which cell is supposed to be where, and for how long.
It’s not just googling, by the way. The other day I made a special visit to the Hunterian Museum in London, mostly so I could stare at the samples of ‘generation’ (as the labels on the jars proclaim them to be). I spent far too long staring at preserved fallopian tubes and four-week fetuses. Utterly fascinating. If anything ever ends up taking residence in my uterus, I’ll know exactly what it looks like and I think that’s pretty cool.

Confession Number 3there’s a lot of crying
Hormones, depression, whatever. I seem to spend most of my life right now with a huge painful lump in my throat from trying not to cry. At work, at home in front of the telly, writing blog posts on the bus at 6 in the morning. Even listening to the Lion King soundtrack can set me off.
By the way, I’m good – really good – at putting on a face. You might think I’m in a perfectly good mood, bantering away at my coffee machine like always. But there’s a good chance that when I disappear for a few minutes to ‘sort something in the office’ I’m going in there to put my head on the desk and howl because someone just came in with a newborn. I got set off the other day because a couple at the bus stop were heartily ignoring their cherubic cooing baby so they could smoke their fags right over its buggy; I absolutely howled at the injustice that they’ve got a baby and I haven’t.

Confession Number 4I’m ragingly jealous and the hatred that spews out of me is terrifying
So many of my peers are getting pregnant right now. So, so many. It seems like a new one every week. I’m happy for them. I’m not far gone enough yet not to realise that. I am. I don’t know their stories. For all I know, they could have been in my situation, or worse.
But that doesn’t stop the jealousy and the vitriol burning me up to the point where it’s not unknown for me to throw my phone at the wall when a new ‘belly shot’ pops up on social media. It scares me a bit, I don’t like feeling like this. And I would never act like that to anyone’s face. Like I said, I am happy for them. I’m just also really really sad for me and my husband, and sometimes that comes out in rage. Especially when they find things to moan about that amaze me – if you have a healthy child or are pregnant, in my mind you need to count your lucky stars right away and get a bit of perspective. Obviously, that’s TTC-selfishness and absolute bullshit. I know it full well, but I can’t bloody stop myself.

Confession Number 5I pee on a lot of sticks
For two weeks of the month or so, women who are trying to conceive are existing in a state of Schr√∂dinger’s Uterus. And the only way of possibly attempting to communicate with that cat while the box is closed is by weeing on sticks. Even though it’s absolutely pointless most of the time, because you know it’s far too early to tell anything, you do it anyway. Then when the test is negative, you can tell yourself you tested too early and the test is bound to be positive tomorrow. Or the next day, or the next.
I’d be a good blogger and recommend my favourite pee-sticks to you, but there would be no point because the sodding feline has always kicked the bucket anyway.

Confession Number 6if you tell me to ‘just relax and it’ll happen’ I will impale you on the end of a chopstick
I think I speak for everyone trying to conceive when I say this. No matter how well-meant, ‘just relax’ and its many, many variants are possibly the least helpful, most irritating things you can hear when you’re trying to have a baby. Have you ever tried to ‘relax’ when you’re, I don’t know, running away from a massed zombie horde waving bloody Bodyform packets, at the same time attempting to catch a Golden Snitch that’s hovering approximately eight feet above your head?
That’s my life. Enjoy ‘relaxing’.

Confession Number 7 every symptom is pregnancy… then none of them are
I used to symptom-spot with the best of them. Every tiny twinge would set me off. This has to be it! That can’t be a usual thing!
But now, eighteen cycles on, I know otherwise. I have had every single ‘early pregnancy’ symptom you can think of and it’s not been right once. Sore boobs, nausea, dizziness, pulling sensations, heightened sense of smell, back pain, wind, heartburn, implantation spotting, headaches, hunger, insomnia, vivid dreams, runny nose, prominent veins, mood swings. Take your pick.
The fact of the matter is, anything that can possibly be a symptom of pregnancy is also a symptom of your period revving up. Every single cycle, your body prepares itself for a pregnancy whether you’ve conceived or not. So realistically, none of the ‘symptoms’ mean squat. I have now reached the point where I can sit in an ancient sports bra because my boobs are so painful, and I’ll still shrug it off. It means nothing.

I am now all out of confessions, for now. That felt very cathartic. And if anyone stumbles upon this who is in the same boat, know that you’re not alone. There’s loads of us out there and we all feel like shit sometimes. Have a good rant; it definitely helps.

Something missing this Christmas

I love Christmas. I love¬†how beautiful this lovely flat is, now it’s cosy and Christmassy and lit with fairy lights. I love that I can come home from work late at night and my fantastic husband has put a big tray of comfort food in the oven for me and stuck a Lego Lady Galadriel on top of the Christmas tree.

But this isn’t how I imagined this Christmas would be.

A year and a half ago I imagined there would be a baby here for this Christmas, about six months old perhaps, not really understanding what’s going on, but cooing and chewing up all the wrapping paper. Getting their first tiny tastes of turkey. I’d be buying exceedingly tacky little outfits, becoming even more insufferable on Instagram.

Time went on a bit.

OK, I thought. I imagined there would be a newborn here for this Christmas. Holding them up to the Christmas tree, unfocussed eyes staring at the pretty lights. Going to the Christmas markets with a tiny mite in a sling strapped to my husband’s chest. Insufferable Instagramming present and correct.

Time went on a bit more.

Oh, all right. I imagined I would be hugely pregnant for this Christmas. A cute little bump – well, knowing me, a bloody enormous one, seeing as I wouldn’t even remotely stop myself from scoffing every pig in a blanket I could get my hands on.

Time just carried on going.

Fine! I imagined I would be newly pregnant for this Christmas. Maybe queasy with¬†morning sickness, but filled with a joy that had nothing to do with the holiday season. Perhaps able to tell my mother and my husband’s mother the good news with their presents on Christmas morning.

And now we get to today. I’m looking at my beautiful Christmas tree in my lovely flat, and all my potential Christmases are just floating away behind me.

This Christmas will be lovely. There are decorations, and advent calendars. There will be presents, and turkey, and family. I know I’m so lucky to have this much.

But still there’s a part of me that can’t help but think of what we’re¬†missing.

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