Six weeks to go…

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“Get some rest while you can!”
“Make sure you sleep!”
“Enjoy this time, you’ll never get it back!”

A few snippets of advice I’ve been given as I enter the final weeks of this pregnancy. I am trying, I promise. I slept for two hours this afternoon, a luxury, I know. The only problem is I’m finding it hard to relax. In book form, my to-do list would be the Lord of the Rings. Or maybe even the Bible. A never-ending conveyor belt of tasks. As soon as one is ticked off, another appears. I’ve made so many lists I’ve lost half of them. On my phone, on bits of paper, on my computer. Pin them together and it’s a manuscript J.R.R.Tolkien would be proud of.

Then there are the other joys of pregnancy. Here’s some of my highlights:

1. The “waddle”. Heels? pah ha ha, forget it. Stylish clothes? Yeah, right. Oh to be one of those glamorous women, looking incredible despite the fact they’re growing another human being inside them. Instead, I’m already perfecting the washed-out mummy look. Leggings = my best friend. Slouchy jumpers rule. I currently resemble a swaying, portly, slightly flushed bowling ball.

2. Ten-minute toilet stops. As in going every ten minutes. Heaving myself off the sofa/out of bed using a series of carefully calculated manoeuvres that wouldn’t go astray on an assault course.

3. Baby brain. Leaving the front door wide open. Leaving my phone in a shop. Trying to get through the doors at work using my bank card. Endless and shameless.

4. The daily commute. Urgh. Say no more.

5. Baby gear: So many options. So much stuff. Travel systems. The Buffalo. The Burglar. The Heifer. (I may have made some of these up).

6. Going up stairs. Any stairs. Yuck.

7. Obsessing over the baby. I *may have succumbed to the “What will your baby look like” app…

8. Hypnobirthing. Yes. Definitely giving this a go. Unfortunately it was so relaxing I fell asleep just after the DVD started, and woke up at the end.

9. Fretting. Have I bought enough baby clothes? What needs to go in my hospital bag? Should I be reading more baby books? This will definitely continue until he arrives. And then continue on a much grander scale.

10. Juggling the hormones. One minute I’m a self-assured, exited, happy, mum-to-be. The next I’m a blubbering, emotional wreck. Anything remotely tear-jerking and I’m off. Keep that John Lewis ad away from me…

*have

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Eight weeks to go…

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I’m lying in bed wide awake while my husband sleeps like a baby. It’s an appropriate phrase, as a baby is exactly what we’ll be having in eight weeks time. Eek. Whether our son will sleep as peacefully as his father remains to be seen. I suspect not.

The enormity of the journey we’re about to embark on as parents is starting to hit me. And I’m scared. Really scared. I’ve loved feeling this new life moving inside me, I’ve enjoyed it as my bump has grown. But I’ll be honest, this journey has already been full of fear. Two previous miscarriages left me barely daring to believe we’d reach this point in the pregnancy. So I’d not considered the massive changes coming our way until now.

Do I know everything I need to? Er, no.

Have I been reading enough books? Probably not.

Pelvic floor exercises? I’m trying, I really am.

Will I be able to cope? God, I hope so.

Uncertainty in life is inevitable. It brings thrill, excitement and anticipation, but also a lot of worry. And that’s compounded by Mr Internet. A smorgasbord of information for the curious and the terrified. You must do this. You should do that. Don’t do this. Definitely do that. The baby industry is a ferocious beast and it can bite you on the bum if you let it.

Until this point it was all about work for me. I poured everything into my career and hadn’t seriously considered children until I met my husband a few years ago.

Of course we’re also ridiculously excited. I’ve enjoyed picking out clothes and all the baby equipment. I’ve taken on board the biblical-like barrage of things to remember, conveyed to us by a nursery assistant at a well-known department store. Who incidentally, was a man with the best moustache (and parenting knowledge) I’ve ever come across. And I’ve joined a great Facebook group with lovely women all having babies around the same time. That’s already been a huge support.

I’ve also come to realise that no-one really knows what they’re doing. And I guess that applies to life as much as parenthood. That even those who seem like the most confident people in the world have insecurities, just like everyone else. We all do the best we can, make the decisions we believe are right at the time and hope it turns out for the best.

When I get stressed now, I try to remember how much love we’re going to have for this baby. Because, to coin a phrase from a little-known 60s band from Liverpool, that really is all you need.

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Buying for baby

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Hi everyone,

Ahead of my baby’s arrival in December, I decided it was time to stop browsing and procrastinating and actually go and buy some stuff! Have any other mums-to-be started buying for their little one yet? Or do you have first-hand experience of any of the things I’ve bought? I’m keen to hear other people’s views, so do let me know, including links to your blogs!

Travel systems

I’ve tried out quite a few and my favourite is the Uppababy Vista

Recommended by a few friends, it looks easy to put together and I personally like the fact it comes as it is, so you don’t have to buy extra parts for it (apart from adapters for the car seat). It feels sturdy enough for me but not too big and bulky, as I’m quite short. I also like the close proximity of the pram to me as I’m pushing it along.

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Sleep

We’ve decided on this Next to Me crib for the baby’s first few months. I like the idea of the baby being very close to my bed for reassurance and feeding etc, but still safe in their own bed.

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Moses Basket

I’ve opted for this John Lewis Moses Basket for our living room, so the baby can sleep (fingers crossed!) during the day. It could also work as a second sleeping option in our bedroom and comes with a nice rocker.

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Cots

I see this as an investment, as it will last when the baby is a bit older. I fell in love with this Rachel cotbed from John Lewis. We also got a matching dresser/changing station. I like the fact the dresser doubles up as a chest of drawers so it can be used for nappies/clothes and other storage.

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Sleep sound

Ewan the Dream Sheep replicates the soothing sounds of the womb and heartbeat. It was recommended by one of my husband’s colleagues who used it with their baby. I love the idea behind it! Fingers crossed it will be useful!

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Car seat

The Maxi-Cosi Pebble Plus seems to be one of the most popular on the market, so we’ve gone for that. Plus will fix on easily to our Uppababy Vista

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Bath

This Angelcare Soft Touch Baby Bath Support looks really comfy for baby, unlike some of the others I’ve seen which look a bit cold and have a hard surface. Still deciding whether to get a separate baby bath. What are other mums-to-be doing?

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High chair 

Went for this Joie Mimzy one. I like the fact it’s got a very wide plastic attachment. Great for all the spillages!

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Swing

Chicco Polly Swing  – my husband really liked this and couldn’t resist! Comes complete with different musical numbers which I’m looking forward to hearing! 🎶

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That’s it from me, for now! Remember, let me know what you’ve been buying for your forthcoming arrival, or if you’re already a mum, what you’ve found useful.

Lou x

My favourite maternity clothes

My favourite maternity clothes

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Being six months pregnant, it’s not always easy to find decent outfits that are both stylish and practical. I thought I’d share some of my favourite pieces in my wardrobe. I’d also be keen to hear what other mums-to-be are buying. Do let me know!

  1. I love this drape blouse from TopShop’s maternity section. Great for the office or a Saturday afternoon out, teamed with a pair of skinny jeans or leggings.

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2.  Another from TopShop maternity. This striped top accentuates my bump while still giving a slimming look.

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3. I live in leggings at the moment, and have so many pairs! I particularly like these ones from H&M, they have them in abundance at my local store, and cost about £5.99. Also come in grey and leopard print. FullSizeRender 13

4. Pretty heart blouse from Red Herring maternity. I often match this up with a black skirt for work.

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5. This black vest top is another staple, like the leggings. From H&M’s “Mama” collectionFullSizeRender 15

6. I love big baggy jumpers in autumn and winter, and this cream ribbed jumper from TopShop maternity is one of my favourites. Works well with leggings and ankle boots.

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7. Another cosy jumper. This one’s from H&M (normal collection, size medium)

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8.  This black cable knit jumper is another good one for the office. Extra room around the waist, so really comfy too. From Red Herring maternity. FullSizeRender 17

9. One of my favourite dresses, mainly due to the elasticated waistband which expands as your bump does! Black pleat spotted dress from Red Herring maternity.

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10. Have been trying to find something to wear to a family wedding for ages, and this Coast dress is perfect. If (like me) you’re quite busty it’s  a great buy, as it minimises your chest but still accentuates your bump. I’m going to wear it with a blue flower fascinator and my nude wedge shoes (featured below). Plus it was in the sale. An added bonus!

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11. Haven’t worn this yet, but when I tried it on it was incredibly snug and comfy. I love the colours of this roll neck dress from H! by Henry Holland. Plus being Scottish, tartan is a must! I’ll definitely wear this in winter, with a pair of knee-length boots. Would also work well with a pair of black flats. FullSizeRender 10

12. Black shift dress from H&M. I wear it to work with a fitted red jacket. Great for the days when you want to hide your lumps and bumps.

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13. Moving on to shoes…I have such a problem with shoes generally, as my feet are really wide, and don’t do well in heels. It’s even worse now I’m pregnant! Recently I’ve been living in these brown ankle boots from New Look. Really comfy and they go with pretty much everything.

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14. Carvela Kurt Geiger wedge slingbacks. Pretty and (more importantly) easy to walk in!

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One of the comfiest pairs of shoes I’ve ever had!

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15. Dusky pink wedges, Principles. I love these shoes. I’ve already worn them to a couple of weddings this year. They can also be used to jazz up leggings, and work well for the office, teamed with a dress or skirt and top.

FullSizeRender 21That’s it from me, for now. I hope you’ve found this blog helpful! Lou x

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The IKEA trap…

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Some things in life are inevitable. Life. Death. Taxes. A trip to IKEA. There were dark clouds overhead as we pulled into the car park. Vehicles lurking in every corner, desperate to bag that elusive space. The hoards huffing and puffing their way back to safety, carrying everything, including the kitchen sink. As the sky swelled and pulsated, so did the dread inside me. 

Don’t get me wrong, I think IKEA is a fantastic store. When it’s devoid of people. Try going along before the end of the school holidays and this Swedish homeware fairytale quickly becomes a Nordic nightmare. 

We had a list with us. You need a list. Excellent start. Now we just had to figure out how to navigate the labyrinth before us. Let’s just wing it. Escalator to the first floor. So far so good. Where do we get a trolley? Ground floor. Hmmm… ok, so lift back to the ground floor it is.

Twenty minutes later, we’re armed with our weapon of mass destruction. Now for the front line: The Shop Floor. Too. many. people. Too. many. items. Not. enough. space. I have to sport some serious Formula One moves in order to negotiate the sheer number of humans. It’s when I find myself standing staring at a wall of 20 different styles of toilet brushes that it all becomes too much.

The curtains department is interesting. People with measuring tapes abound. Mass confusion with the metrics, as my mobile phone goes into overdrive trying to work out the correct dimendions. Finally, we’ve got what we need. Hurrah! Now there’s just the small matter of the lengthy walk to the tills. When we get there, the man in front of me appears to be buying half the shop. I should point out that this all happened on a Thursday. Weekends?? *shudder*

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Say my name, say my name

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I am now a Mrs. It’s weird. It’s what grown ups do. Older people. Oh yes, that’s right. I am a grown up. And in my “late thirties” as my  husband gleefully informs me. “IT’S STILL MY MID-THIRTIES” *shuffles for divorce papers*…..Husband. That’s another strange one. Whenever I say “my husband” I giggle a little bit. Like a child being asked by angry parent what swear word they’ve just used. Then there’s the name change. Do I change my name? What about one of those double-barrelled jobs? Could make me sound like a solicitor’s firm. Or a British bake off judge or X Factor host. Which is cool. For a second. But it would take a lot longer to write. So I’ll keep my maiden name for work thank you very much, and use my married name for everything else.

Simple enough, right? 1. Get hitched. 2. Phone the bank. The first part happened. The second part is proving more complicated, thanks to the intervention of my friend, bureaucracy. Bureaucracy. Bloody bureaucracy. I need to change my passport. So I can change my bank details, driving licence and everything else in between. I changed my Facebook details to my married name, as it was easy compared to the red tape slapped around everything else. However, I’m still tweeting using my maiden name. Which is confusing people. Gives the term “I don’t know who I am any more” a whole new meaning. It’s also put me in a schizophrenic-like state of identity, exacerbated by the many online outlets I suddenly realise I’ve signed up to. I wonder if Cheryl Fernandez-Versini had these problems. Perhaps I should just incorporate all the names I’ve ever had, including nicknames That could be fun. Or really shake things up and have my surname as my first name. Followed by my maiden name,  then my married name. It was certainly the preferred option of our honeymoon hotel in their welcome note….I like it.

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Winter Skies

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A simple blog today. After a tough week, I decided to take some time out and go for a walk near my flat. Ethereal winter skies, mottled cotton wool cloud and the low, surprisingly balmy sun, streaming, squinting and glinting through the branches. Multi-coloured leaves squelching under my feet, the ducks squabbling over the scraps. Earlier, I’d gone to my favourite coffee shop, sipped a “festive latte” and devoured a good book. Christmas, for me, will be spent in New York with family and close friends. It will be great to get a break in a few weeks, and experience festivities in the Big Apple. A crazy, whirlwind adventure in the city that never sleeps. My first Christmas Day away from home. But for the moment it’s been worth taking some time out to enjoy these lazy, lucid, lingering days.

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Battling Bridezilla: Reproducing lists, Prosecco and plimsolls

My wedding lists are reproducing. I’m now the proud parent of so many of them I feel like the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe. (Google it). They’re on my phone. On the iPad. Scattered around the flat. I’m going to wake up one morning and see one carved into the ceiling. And the problem is they don’t seem to be getting any smaller. Indeed, they’re multiplying faster than the spiders in Arachnophobia. (YouTube it.)

With four weeks to go until The Big Day, wedding planning is now part of my daily routine. It’s like having a second job. My brain is full of table plans and ribbons and music and spreadsheets. And flowers and pipers and what shoes I will wear on the day of the rehearsal (cos that’s just so important…) Yeah, ok, it’s getting ridiculous. On the plus side iI’ve been *forced* to drink more Prosecco than normal – it’s all part of the wedding process, right?  Hic. There is also the opportunity to justify copious amounts of shopping with the excuse they are “honeymoon clothes”. Still doesn’t stop the “HOW MUCH????” text from the other half of course.

Sadly, whilst my mind has been consumed by wedding craziness, it is a truth universally acknowledged that my general upkeep has suffered somewhat.

“Do you think I should get a fake  tan?

“NO, for *enter swear word*’s sake!”

“Why not?”

“Because the last time Louise you actually turned orange. Let me repeat: You were ORANGE.”

He has a point.

In my eagerness to plan my beauty regime, I fear I may have done it too early. I got my nails painted last week, but they now appear to have broken off. Of course the fact I bite them has nothing to do with it. Then there’s the colour. Initially a “shimmery pearl”, it now resembles a new shade I have decided to call “Dirty Water”.

In other news, I have my second hen do coming up next weekend. I’m still recovering from the first one in Scotland. And, as usual, I’m having a shoe dilemma.

Heels and I are not the best of friends. I have been known to stumble – admittedly after a glass or two of the aforementioned Prosecco – whilst wearing ridiculous shoes. At my first hen do I was fortunate that my bridesmaids decided to dress me up as a runner (another story) so I spent the day in plimsolls.

They’re bloody comfy. Perhaps I could wear them as I walk down the aisle. Whilst biting my nails, sipping Prosecco and checking off yet another list.

Battling Bridezilla: A darker shade of orangutan

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Spray tans terrify me. However, after realising parts of me resembled a whiter shade of pale, I decided it was time to give it a go…

I turn up the salon in a pair of skinny jeans (big mistake), wedge shoes that are way too high for me and an unhealthy dose of excitement about what’s in store. Maybe I’ll emerge from this shop as a bronzed goddess, Stars in Their Eyes style. Like someone plucked from the streets of St Tropez, hair shaking in Farrah Fawcett fashion, emanating a radiant glow…

Ten minutes later and I’m in a very small room, wearing very little. A woman’s standing in front of me holding something resembling my mum’s plant sprayer that my brother and I used to have water fights with. It also looks like a fumigator device used by bee-hunters. That would be an interesting role on a CV, eh? Louise the Bee-Hunter. But I digress.

For the next twenty minutes I assume a number of rather unnatural and potentially unfortunate positions. Hands in air. Hands behind back. Foot out. Foot in. All part of the spraying experience I guess. The woman does seem to be putting on an awful lot though.

“And you’ve brought some loose clothes to change into, yes?”

Er, no.

“Oh well, never mind, the streakage shouldn’t be too bad.”

Streakage? Oh god. Remain calm.

I’m now left to dry myself off with what looks like a vacuum cleaner. I dress quickly, and step outside. My hands look a wee bit brown, but that’s the point, right?

When I get home the full effect is shockingly obvious. I’m the lovechild of an orangutan and Jordan. Especially on my hands, which now have a garishly carrot hue.

“I warned you about getting this done,” fiancé says, struggling to contain his evil glee.

Next morning, I wake up feeling refreshed. Surely it will have dyed down by now? Nope. It’s worse. I can almost feel myself changing colour by the second. Drastic times call for drastic measures, and I turn to my old pal Google for some advice. Washing up powder. “That’s ridiculous,” murmers half-asleep fiancé. But I hardly hear him as I’m already on my way to the kitchen sink.

Thus follows half an hour of scrubbing and praying. It seems to work a bit. Although now my neck and face, devoid of attention, are much darker than the rest of me. “I’m never getting this done again,” I bellow. “My little oompa loompa,” comes the voice from afar. “Shut up.”

So I’ve decided that fake tanning is probably not for me. Had this been a day or two before the

wedding, as opposed to a trial run, it could have sent me into heart failure. Plus don’t get me started on the smell. Malty and meaty. Like a pint and a pie. Not attractive. Although I did consider bringing out some of my more interesting dance moves while getting it done. Or the Usain Bolt one. Now that makes me chuckle. Although if I had one iota of his running talent I should really have legged it out of there. At lightning speed.

Yours,

Louise Orangu-tan

Battling Bridezilla: A big, bridal bouncy ball of stuff

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Glinda, love, will you lend me your bubble?

Stuff. There’s stuff I need to do. Lots of stuff. I’ve given up making lists because there’s so much stuff. I only lose them anyway. The only difference now being I don’t know what I’m doing all the time, instead of just most of it. I’m encased in a fuzzy, muffled bubble of wedding planning, occasionally sliding off the pavement, and careering down the road, ricocheting off the ground like a bouncy ball, heading straight into the wedding planning abyss.

When people ask me how it’s all going, I honestly don’t know what to tell them. It’s not because I’m being rude, it’s because I genuinely can’t remember what stage it’s at (should have kept those lists)*. Definitely should have kept the lists.* “Lots of stuff to do”, I tell them, with nodded head, trying to look nonchalant and calm, not a panicking, blundering wreck.

And so I turn to my email correspondence – a tad haphazard at the best of times. I’m just hoping my trigger-happy propensity to email all and sundry in the wedding world won’t result in twenty make-up artists and a dozen pipers on the day.

Maybe this bubble I write about could function as a weapon of self-preservation, whisking me   away at lightning speed when it gets a bit too much and I start annoying people by being myself. It could float into the ether, returning to Scotland at the end of August, so I can step out of it and into my wedding gear. Like Glinda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz. Please lend us your bubble, Glinda, love. Although the pink dress may have to go. Now let me just go and put that on my list.

*Me being myself