Friday, August 02, 2013

From bump to baby

And t'was a she! I have to say, it's funny looking at that previous blog post and seeing me with my supposed "you're definitely having a boy" shaped 40 week bump. It pretty much near enough vanished in an instant and I barely noticed. Every ounce of my life zapped with an all-consuming wide-eyed, utterly helpless little person was enough to take the attention away from the fact that I wasn't pregnant anymore. 5 weeks have gone now, I've almost forgotten what it was like before she was around, it's like she always existed.
It's been a lesson in patience and endurance like I have never experienced. From having to persevere through nearly 48 hours of labour to walking up and down comforting a crying baby when you yourself are tired and not in full physical health. You can't turn around and go back to sleep when she starts crying for food at 2am.
Don't get me wrong, it isn't all hardship. I've been able to reconnect with a lot of friends I haven't seen for ages because they all want to come over to meet her. We've been ridiculously blessed by the kindness of friends, family and people we don't know very well whether it's been receiving gifts through the door every day for the first 3 weeks or people from our church family dropping meals over. I love seeing her wee personality (evident from the start) begin to blossom, seeing her start to do things she couldn't previously:- start to smile, make sounds other than crying, discover her hands, engage with her toys, respond to music...

I'm trying hard to savour each moment because my word do they grow fast!!

Picture 1 (on Day 4)
Picture 2 (on Day 32)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

D-day +??

D-day came and went and there was no sign of the wee one. We took the photo below in panic on the morning (hence why the bleary-eyes and just-out-of-bed hair) just in case the baby suddenly decided to make an entrance and we had no full-term bump photos. Really didn't need to worry about it. It's a strange feeling when you have a date in the calendar for months and months and it turns out just to be a normal day like any other. I have to say I really enjoy the look on peoples' faces when they ask me questions like "How are far along are you?" and I tell them my due date was on Monday. Everyone does a double-take. Some people take a half step back in trepidation as though my waters will explode dramatically and I'll double over with sudden immense contractions in that moment before their very eyes - ha!
Have to say, this kind of take it a day-as-it-comes lifestyle suits me down to the ground. I'm that unusual breed of person who's more likely to get stressed by plans and knowing that something's going to happen on a particular day than not knowing. That said, I would like this baby to start arriving soon by itself and not have to be forcibly induced... (10 days remain before it comes to that). Saying that I think it's my body that's not doing the job rather than the baby. It kicks and squirms and elbows me in a letmeoutofhereI'msquished kind of way! Yes wee one, I also feel like there's not enough space in there for you any more. Being kneed in the ribs on a daily basis is becoming less and less comfortable as you seem to be getting progressively bigger and bonier.
Of course all the dubious natural induction old wives tales are being thrown at me left right and centre: hot baths, sex, raspberry leaf tea, consuming copious amounts of pineapple (Apparently 7 whole pineapples is the optimum number... tricky.), lots of walking, jumping up and down a bit.
Quote of today has to have come from my grandmother who phoned today from Sri Lanka and couldn't understand how I could still be so active and yet this baby hadn't decided to arrive yet. "Are you drinking milk? Drink plenty of milk and the baby will also get the milk and then will come out." I'm still trying to work out the logic of that one...

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Combatting the nesting instinct

Here's what I've discovered about this "nesting instinct" - it is not an old wives tale or a myth like many of the other unscientific things I've heard about pregnancy. This is a real phenomenon. My hormones are firing off on all cylinders trying to talk me into doing things I wouldn't otherwise have dreamt of doing. I have seen this instinct manifest itself in different ways in different people. I can think of 2 friends in particular where the effects were particularly comical: one ended up with a freezer full of cupcakes, another with an attic full of furniture which she had no space in their tiny flat for.

Having observed this in other mums-to-be, I was well aware of the consequences and so was psyched up to tackle it when it hit me. It first manifested itself back in the early days of second tri rather conveniently in an urge to do housework on my days off like never before. In fact I can't say I've ever felt much of an urge to do housework full stop! I have to say, I have fully embraced this side of the nesting instinct as it has resulted in a (sometimes) tidier house and a happy husband (who is far tidier than me). However there is also a dangerous edge to this instinct which I can feel is threatening to burst forth as the clock ticks on. I now actually want to look at baby things in shops (never before been this way inclined in my life!) Mark reckons I perk up at the sight of nappies in a supermarket when I was previously feeling tired - weird! We have many wonderful friends giving us many free hand-me-downs and yet with just under 6 weeks to go, an urge to buy baby paraphernalia is pushing pretty hard at my willpower. Mark has invented a new phrase for "paraphernalia" which he is exceedingly proud of. He tells me frequently that he does not want to accumulate too much baby "gulumphing golotmar" and to be honest I feel the same way. So we are aspiring to this and I have developed some coping mechanisms to help me resist the formidable "nesting instinct".

1. Fill my time and my head space by making a list of other non-baby jobs which I class as "urgent" to do pre-baby (which they're probably not). These have ranged from the smallest of tasks such as "get haircut" to the slightly more time consuming "learn to drive". I have to say this has been quite a successful defence against the instinct and I would recommend it to anyone.
Spybeys 1 Nesting instinct 0

2. Channel the instinct into hours (and I mean hours) of extensive internet research into the most mundane of baby products. Reusable nappies have been an absolute winner on this front, being such a minefield of information and confusing jargon that I have literally wasted hours and hours researching in order to make sense of it all. Time that might otherwise have been spent buying unnecessary products on a whim.
Spybeys 2 Nesting instinct 0

3. Having a lodger has been surprisingly handy in this regard. Firstly he is 18 years old and thus babies couldn't be further from his mind. He doesn't comment on my bump or seem to even notice it more than once a trimester so it's easy not to think much about babies and pregnancy in his company. Plus our second bedroom is and will be occupied by this wonderful lad until the wee one's at least 2 months old and so for now a corner of our room and part of our attic has been apportioned to baby stuff. Limited space + having a husband who gets stressed out by clutter + newly acquired desire to keep flat tidy = NI successfully kept at bay.
Spybeys 3 Nesting instinct 0

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

no limits

I realised recently that I had been believing a big lie that had been so engrained below the surface that though I knew in my head it wasn't true, it was deeply buried into my subconscious and affecting the way I thought and lived without my realising. The lie was that my weakness could limit God. When I'm talking about weakness, I mean those little character traits that I have and which I think we all have, which make certain things more difficult for us than it would for someone else. I kind of discovered how wrong I'd been by accident...

I had for a while succumbed to a numb acceptance that I was and would never really be a morning person and that a lack of self-discipline which hindered how I used my time was something which would never go away. That was just the way I was, and that was that.

And then a few weeks ago, this all changed. I was staying with a lovely lady in Paris when helping out with a conference there. We had both been up late, and my host was a light sleeper and clearly needed a lie-in in the morning so had gone to bed a good while before me. Just as I was going to bed at some unearthly hour, I realised that if I set my alarm it would probably wake her up and disturb her sleep. I needed to be up for a certain time to meet the rest of the team I was in Paris with. So I asked God, on a whim, to wake me up in the morning. I've done it before when I've needed it and its worked so I figured it could very probably work again. Bang-on 2 hours before I needed to leave, not only did I wake up (and wake up rather quickly and easily, which almost never happens), but I woke up immediately with an acute awareness of God (this also rarely happens!) It was as though I had woken up in every sense of the word - physically, mentally, spiritually! Something just clicked in my head then and there, and I realised this didn't have to be a one-off. I could ask God every night to wake me up like that EVERY morning! So I've been trying to do that ever since, and most days (when I remember to ask) he does!

It may seem like a small thing but to me it was HUGE. Something which I never thought could possibly change has changed and this gives me such hope and a renewed expectation for what God can and actually wants to do here on earth in and through us!

For a good while now, I've had this story about a miracle that Jesus did in my head. I love the fact that Jesus just tells the disciples to put their nets down into this sea which they, the experienced seasoned fishermen had caught nothing after much sweat and toil, and the nets instantly filled. I've started reading miracles like that and the multiplying of the fish and the bread with new eyes. It's one thing to know this in your head but to actually transfer an abstract concept from the Bible to a physical and tangible reality is another matter altogether. But I believe the facts are thus: God's power AND love are unlimited, God's resources are unlimited and those resources are unbelievably graciously accessible! All we need to do is ask for his help, let him teach us and try doing things his way. Exciting!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Eking out your meat

Over the years I have acquired a knack for making what may seem like an undersized portion of meat stretch, and so I thought I would share some of these skills in the form of a recipe:

My take on a Beef Stroganoff:
(sadly no photo as was consumed before I remembered to get camera out so this photo of a cow will have to suffice for now)

Serves 4 comfortable portions for people with healthy appetites (tried and tested on my 2nd trimester appetite, 3 young men,  2 of whom could safely claim they are still growing, 1 of whom is my husband who eats anything and everything - nuff said)

- some stewing/braising beef (as much or as little as you want, today I only used 300g approx but you can use more if you want) (diced)
- a large onion
- 3 medium carrots (peeled and diced)
- half a standard sized pack of mushrooms (chunked up)
- a tin of some kind of beans (black-eyed beans goes best with this, but kidneys or borlottis would more than suffice
- seasoning
- 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp mustard
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 1 stock cube's worth of stock
- good couple of dollops of natural yoghurt

Optional cheeky extras to add vitamins/extra flavour or for extra bulking up
- swig of white wine (optional only because we didn't have any in the flat and it still tasted good).
- 10 new potatoes (I would use this if I was serving with rice)
- rasher or two of bacon (one for the meat lovers if you have it in the fridge)
- a couple of celery stalks (diced)
- a handful of spinach (frozen or fresh, either will do)
- a wee bit of dried parsley (because it's nice)
- a pinch of dried chilli (for a wee kick)

Brown beef with onions in a little oil and seasoning, add carrots and mushrooms (and potatoes if you are using these), then herbs/spices, stir frequently before adding stock (and wine). Leave to simmer for around 10 minutes then add flour and stir frequently till combined, add beans, simmer for another 5 minutes. Then take off the heat and stir in mustard and yoghurt.

Serve with desired carbs. Today's choice was mashed tatties.

Enjoy! :)

Thursday, February 07, 2013

The 20 week scan

As this post title might suggest, this is a pregnancy related post. On Monday there, Mark and I went to see the wee one again. There are many strange things about the whole "goingforascan" scenario.

1. It's a little like going to view a fish in an aquarium.

The first time we went, I definitely felt like it was actually our baby there on the screen but not that it was inside me and that it was always there just that we couldn't see it. When we left the hospital it was like we'd left the baby there in the hospital and we'd be going to visit again in a couple of months time. It was like going to Deep Sea World and watching the fish swimming around behind a glass screen, or visiting a friend. This time felt very similar, although with a steadily growing stomach and having been feeling the wee one (a lot) kicking and squirming around, the idea that there is actually something in there is hitting home more.

2. You can see EVERYTHING.

When I say everything, I mean internal organs: brain, spine, kidneys, lungs, heart, ribs, you name it. I've never seen anyone's internal organs like that before let alone my own child's. It was riveting stuff!

3. You have to look away at a certain point if you don't want to find out the sex!

That's right. Just in case you see anything...

4. The 20 week scan photo can generate a lot (and I mean A LOT) of speculation from friends and family.

Speculation as to what gender it is is the main one. Does it have baby boy features or baby girl features?Everyone has had vastly different opinions on this front. There has even been talk of a sweep stake amongst some of our friends as to whether it's one or the other! Whose features has it inherited is the other cause for speculation. Now I am fairly convinced that it has a nose very similar to Mark's and I'm not the only one. But my grandmother has taken it a step further. Yesterday I received a text from her in response to having seen the photo: "Beautiful baby! Mark's nose and chin, your mouth". Ha!

If anyone wants to add their own speculative opinion to the mix, have a look for yourself and feel free to comment!

Saturday, January 05, 2013


Seems that blogging everyday during advent is only really possible when you're stuck in bed. I did write some posts by hand ready to post at the opportune moment then lost the notebook that I had written them in. Feeling that even if I found them now it's probably less than appropriate to blog about Christmas now that we're 5 days into 2013.

I have very different feelings going into 2013 than I have had any other new year. Now I essentially feel like a ticking time bomb of sorts. A tiny person has now taken residence in me and in around 5 months time from now will be making a grand entrance into our lives. Not that it isn't already affecting our lives now. I can no longer skip breakfast or get less than 7 hours of sleep without having to give up a meal's worth to a sick bowl, eating spicy curry results in irritating levels of discomfort, unpasteurised cheeses and red wine, to name but a few culinary delights, are off the menu (trip to France in a few weeks will be interesting!) and have a little rather reassuring stomach which seems to grow everyday regardless of how much or how little I eat. Now I've had it pretty easy compared to most but trying to juggle remembering everything that I need to remember and all the looking after myself with normal life and a job seems to be rather tricky. And let me assure you I am excited about meeting the wee one. Especially now that we have visual proof that it is actually real! At the scan it was already displaying a bit of cheeky personality, wriggling out of the radiographer's view, constantly swimming from one side to the other, then lying on its stomach, giving a little yawn/swallow. But I am in no hurry and I'm hoping the baby isn't too. At the moment I relish every lie-in, every spontaneous evening out, every party that we can so easily go to together, being able to play with friends' and relatives' children and not having to change a single nappy. Yes, 2013 is going to be a colossal life-changer.