Monday, 24 July 2017

Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman

When you are pregnant you experience a number of side effects, one of which is the sudden need everyone around you has to offer their input. Well meaning comments and questions can come across as quite personal and sometimes even rude! Please for the love of God, do not say any of the following to any pregnant women...ever...

Don't ask her if the pregnancy was planned
This is just such a rude thing to ask someone! It doesn't really matter how the pregnancy came about and it's really not anyone's business outside of the people that made the baby. Keep to 'congratulations' when someone shares their good news. 

Don't say it's 'about time'
Again, it's only the business of those involved in making the baby. You don't know what someone has gone through to get pregnant or their reasons for waiting until later. It's a very personal thing and it's not a matter of 'keeping people waiting'.

Don't share your birth horror stories
She knows the end game, she knows how the baby needs to come out. She does not need you scaring her with tales of your horrific birth experience, or how your friend did something really embarrassing during labour. Unless she specifically requests the gory details, please don't share.

Don't tell her she looks huge
Under any other circumstances you wouldn't tell someone that they look huge, so why think it's any different just because they are pregnant? Towards the end of my pregnancy I felt like Violet Beauregarde from Willy Wonka. I did not need this pointing out to me in any way. Even if you think she looks huge, do her a favour and don't say it out loud. Just tell her she looks great and make her feel a bit better, even if she knows you're saying it to be nice. And definitely don't ask her if she is sure it's not twins.

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Don't tell her she looks small
Whilst we are talking about judging her on her size, don't imply that she is not having a healthy pregnancy because she's small. Every pregnancy is different, every woman is different and not everyone looks the same when pregnant. If there are any concerns about her or the baby, that is between her and her Midwife, it's not your place to judge.

Don't pass judgement on her choice of baby name

If she shares her baby name choice (or choices) with you, do not air your views on that name. She really does not want to hear that you knew someone with the same name once who was a complete dick. She doesn't want to hear what you think the other kids will call them in the playground. Her and her partner have chosen that name for their own reasons and even if it's not to your taste, it is to hers.

Don't ask her how she is going to feed her baby
Unless she has offered the information herself, don't ask her whether she is going to breast feed or formula feed. There is enough pressure on women regarding this and again it is not really your place to ask. Why do you need to know how she is going to feed her baby?

Don't question her if she has a coffee, or give your opinion on what she is eating/drinking in general
Most pregnant women have scrutinised all of the advice regarding what they can and can't eat or drink and she will be making informed decisions. I had the odd coffee later on in my pregnancy and it was well within NHS guidelines for caffeine consumption, other people choose to not have any caffeine. I read a terrible story on social media recently where a barista queried a pregnant woman's order and said 'do you mean decaf?' and when the woman said no, gave her decaf anyway! It's not up to you to police what a pregnant woman eats or drinks.

Don't tell her to 'sleep while she can'
The last time I checked, you can't bank sleep. If you could I would be still in credit from my teenage years. And also it's not really headline news for anyone that newborns don't sleep through the night, the parents to be already know it.

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Don't ask her if there is 'any news' as her due date approaches
I went two weeks over my due date and by the time I reached that stage I wanted to kill most people, especially the ones that asked me if there was 'any news'. And definitely don't express that you feel impatient or suggest she is 'keeping you waiting'. At the end of a pregnancy you are tired, nervous and excited and you are desperate to get the baby out and at the same time you want the baby to stay in forever. The last thing you need is being asked if the baby has arrived, people will know when they know.

What comments drove you mad when you were pregnant?

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Stop Comparing Yourself

You're tired and you've had a long day, you can't remember when you last had a shower and your top is covered in a variety of suspicious stains. You have finally got your baby to sleep and you sit down with your first hot cuppa of the day. You idly pick up your phone and open up Facebook/Intagram and there they are...the perfect mums. Their clothes are stain free and super stylish, their homes are dust free and everything is white, their hair is perfectly blow dried, their nails are perfectly manicured and their children are angels. And there it is, the feeling of failure.

How the hell do they do it? Why am I not like that? Am I failing as a parent?

It's easy for the creeping doubt to overshadow reality when you are feeling tired and vulnerable. You lose perspective of what social media is and what it represents. We all share our 'best bits', the happy moments, the highlight reel. I share lovely pictures of my daughter laughing, playing, being cute. I do not share the giant poos that result in me having to cut her out of her vest, I do not share the teething screams that can't be soothed, I do not share the tired days when I genuinely think 'I can't do this'.

Being a parent is wonderful but it is hard bloody work. It's 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and there isn't really such thing a day off. Even when you are not with them, you are still with them. Once you are a parent there is no off switch. The real day to day can be really tough at times, and it's important to know that it is ok that it's sometimes hard.

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Please don't forget that when you look at social media, even in your vulnerable moments that what you are seeing is someone's best and comparing it with your worst. Nobody's life is perfect, so don't hold yourself up to those impossible standards. We all have off days, we all have days when we are so tired that we think we can't possibly take much more, we all have days when we want to hide in cupboard and cry. That doesn't make you a bad parent, it makes you human.

Another negative side effect from the social media comparing is that it can make us judge others unfairly. We can be resentful of the people we hold up as 'perfect' and that insecurity can lead to us tearing them down, which isn't fair. It's better to be happy for someone and lift them up and it's easier to do that if we become more secure in ourselves.

Do not be apologetic either. I am so guilty of jumping to criticise myself through fear that someone else will do it before me. I post pictures with captions apologising for my messy hair, or a spot or how tired I look. We need to not apologise and be OK with not being 'perfect', not just for our own self esteem but for others. The more we are happy in who we are, the more we can help others to feel the same.

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At the end of the day we are all trying to do the best that we can for our children and our family units. And it's true what they say, comparison is the thief of joy.

Monday, 29 May 2017

What I've Learned from Being in a Long Term Relationship

Tomorrow is mine and my husband's two year wedding anniversary and in August we will have been together for fourteen years. We have been together for such a huge chunk of my life that I can't imagine what my adult life would look like without him. Without being too vomit inducing, I have to say that I feel really really lucky that I found someone that I love so much that I want to have by my side for the rest of my days.

To mark the occasion, I thought I would share fourteen relationship lessons I have learned along the way. I am not saying we are perfect and I don't know what our futures hold, but at this moment in time we are pretty bloody happy together and have been for the fourteen years we have had together so far. We can get on each others nerves and we do fall out sometimes but we love each other a lot and have had a pretty solid relationship for long time. We've ridden the waves that life has thrown at us and we've done it together, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Everything in this list applies to both people in the relationship!

Trust is a big part of a relationship and if you don't trust each other then I believe that you need to address and fix it asap or there is no relationship.

Trust is a two way street and as well as trusting your partner, they need to be able to trust you too. Be as honest with them as you expect them to be with you.

Sometimes it can be easy to take your other half for granted, don't forget to let your partner know you appreciate the nice things they do for you. A 'thank you' goes a long way (as does making someone a brew).

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Crafty Mum - Sensory Bottle

One of the main reasons I became a Mum is that I needed more justification for my craft stash. I'm joking* but I really do love to make things. My Mum always tells me that one of my favourite things to do as a kid was 'cutting and sticking' for hours on end. I wanted to be a teacher because I thought it meant you got to do Arts and Crafts all day long (I now have friends who are teachers and this is definitely not the case).

I had a bit of a dry spell with crafts but now that I have Ruby it has motivated me to get stuck into making things again, and I thought that I would share my crafty adventures with you all. I wanted to start off with something fairly straightforward so I decided to give my first sensory bottle a go. 

I found a great tutorial from a little delightful via pinterest and gathered my materials:
  • Empty water bottle (cleaned, dried and label removed)
  • Foil star confetti 
  • Beads 
  • Glitter
  • Glue gun
  • Baby Oil (or Glycerine, I used baby oil because I had some at home)
  • Washing up liquid
  • Water

Monday, 10 April 2017

Dressing During Pregnancy - The First Trimester

It goes without saying that your body will change during your pregnancy. And it is not just the growing 'bump' that will alter, as you go through the pregnancy you may find a lots of changes you don't expect! Every pregnancy is individual and not all women will change in the same way but most women find they need to reassess their wardrobe.

The first trimester is tricky, it's not advisable to go out and buy lots and lots at this stage because the changes in your body have a long way to go! You are also at the stage of your pregnancy where it is likely that very few people know that you are pregnant, so you are also dealing with trying not to 'look pregnant'.

While you might not have a noticeable bump at this stage, many women experience bloating which can make your clothes feel really uncomfortable. Even though I could still fit into my regular jeans at first, they felt like a torture device so I switched to some stretchy jeggings, one size up for comfort (I preferred the high waist ones). These can be bought fairly cheap and come in handy post pregnancy too. Leggings are another good option as they can bought cheaply, and can be worn under long tops and give support under dresses.

Another good tip is to buy some cheap stretchy maternity bands, which you can use to get a bit more wear out of your non maternity jeans and trousers without having to go out and buy more. They help hold your trousers up without you having to do the button up and cost a fraction of a new pair of trousers.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Dear Ruby (a Letter to my Little Girl)

People tell you so many things when you are going to be a parent and I knew you'd change my life. But I could never have imagined that it would be so instant, such a thick line between my life before and my life now. The moment I saw you I knew. When I held you close, felt your skin next to mine, I knew I'd do anything for you as long as I live. And at the same time I was terrified at how much you would need me. I didn't know if I could ever be enough for you.

Those first few weeks are a bit foggy in detail but our little family began its story. Your dad and me learning as we went along. Changing nappies, making bottles, pacing around at 3am trying to soothe the discomfort of colic, wondering if we'd ever sleep again. Even when you were asleep I lay there listening to make sure you were breathing. I agonised over every single decision I made, no matter how big or small. In late night moments of weakness I consulted Google to see how I was doing (bad idea).

The days flew by and turned into weeks and then months. Your first smile, your first Christmas, your first laugh, your first trip to the hospital (not fun). They're all happening so quickly. I try and drink the moments in, engrave the memory in my brain. You're now rolling over and almost sitting without help! I'm frightened to blink in case I miss anything. I take a million photographs and videos of you, scared in a year's time I will forget the important moments.

Your funny gummy grin always makes me smile and your giggles are the best noise I have ever heard. When you fall asleep in my arms I enjoy every second, the world just stops and the 'to do' lists can wait. The dog is still not sure about you, but I know once you learn to play fetch your adventures will be many and will make my hair turn grey.

Sure the day to day can be hard and tiring. I'm not going to lie little one, you have a set on lungs on you and you can scream for England, a good night's sleep is an abstract construct, the house is a mess and time is at a premium. I don't always have time to do things for myself. Let's face it, my Goodreads challenge this year is not going to happen and my Netflix list is getting bigger each week. If I hear one more toy that plays that song about having a dog named 'Bingo' I am going to go nuts.

It is all totally worth it though, you are totally worth it. Watching you grow and explore the world around you makes my heart swell, even if there is a part of me wants to keep you a tiny baby for just that bit longer. Every day you do something new (sometimes it's that you can make a very loud noise) and I am amazed. The teeny 'poppy seed' that was in my stomach this time last year is a gorgeous, funny, happy (and sometimes grumpy) amazing human.

You have brought out the best in me, made me more patient and showed me I can be strong. You've made me more vulnerable because I love you so much. You have filled our lives with joy, our hearts with love (and our living room with toys).

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Nikki Lou Writes Re-Launch

I haven't been writing for a while as I took a short break to work on some other bits and pieces, which turned into a long break when I found out I was pregnant! 

Watch this space for my re-launched blog which will focus on my new life as a (clueless) mummy and other home and life stuff. You can also catch me over at Leopard Print Specs which is a collaborative project with my lovely pal Sarah. 

Ruby came into our lives 12.11.16 💗