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06/05/2018

Let's talk body confidence during pregnancy

I've been umm-ing and ahh-ing about writing this post for a few days now. I don't like to moan, or sound ungrateful, but it's something that has really got to me recently.

If you're my friend on Facebook, you'll have maybe seen my post about this - but I'll elaborate now.


I've never been particularly body confident, I've always been able to pick flaws about myself - but what girl hasn't? However, deep down I have known that my picking faults were entirely my problem and that there really wasn't anything wrong with me.

When I got pregnant, the first changes to my body were difficult to embrace. Until I got an obvious bump, I just looked like I'd put weight on - and that was a struggle. Once my bump started to form, though, I absolutely loved it. I loved wearing fitted and bodycon items of clothing to show it off - I've been so proud of it.

As I've been nearing the end of pregnancy, I have obviously been growing bigger by the week. But, you know, that's kind of the point when growing a baby.

I was prepared for that, I remember writing in one of my earlier blogs that I knew I was going to be big. I think I compared to myself to being like Kim Kardashian when pregnant with North. I was prepared for it and, hey, if it's ok for Kim K then it's ok for Nat K!

Tom and I are both tall, so this baby is going to be leggy. I am also tall, and very hippy, which means I will carry my baby entirely differently to someone who is much smaller and has a smaller frame than me. I was expecting it, so I am not phased at all by how 'big' my bump is.

What I am phased about, and what has really started to affect my confidence, is everyone feeling it ok to comment on the size of my bump.

I have heard it all, most of which I am sure is just said in jest, but when you hear something enough times it really starts to grind you down.

"You surely can't grow any bigger than that, you must be ready to pop now."
"I wasn't that big when I was full term"
"Are you sure there's only one in there?"
"You're definitely not going to go full-term if you're that size already"
"Oooh it's going to be a big baby, look how big you are"

My personal favourite is when people compare me and my mum, when she was pregnant with me. Or me and my best friend, who is just eight weeks behind me in her pregnancy. My mum was smaller when she had me, but she's about a foot smaller than me anyway! So I would expect her to be.

Likewise, with my best friend. She's much smaller than me and has a much smaller frame, so I would never expect her to have a bump as big as mine.


I hadn't been bothered at all about the size of my bump until everyone started commenting on it, and it left me feeling really, really self-conscious; which made me feel really sad. After I'd started to get stretch marks, I was already a bit less confident, but I still loved showing my bump off (not in the flesh, just with fitted clothing!)

So everyone's comments really started to grind me down and make me feel so terrible. I can honestly see why so many women end up with huge body confidence issues and eating disorders during, and after, pregnancy. Nobody would ever walk up to someone who has put some weight on and, to their face, tell them how big they have got. So why is it ok to say it to a pregnant lady? A pregnant lady who is growing a life inside of her and undergoing some incredible changes to her body.

I know that people who have said about the size of my bump, or have said any of those things to me, will probably feel really guilty now if they're reading this. That's not my aim, I don't want people to feel really bad and like they've upset me. On their own, each comment would be laughed off. But hearing it all the time, and sometimes even from people I don't really know, it starts to get you down.

I know nobody means it in a horrible way, and nobody is trying to make me feel bad about myself. I think a lot of it is awkwardness, and people not knowing what to say to a pregnant lady. People maybe try to make a joke, which is fine, but jokes stop being jokes when they start to grind you down. But having been on this side of it, I will never ever say to a pregnant woman how big she looks, or try to make any jokes about size.

I had my 34-week midwife appointment last week and she measured my bump again. When I was measured at 31 weeks, I was measuring at 32. And when I was measured last week, I was measuring at 35.

I asked the midwife if she was worried I was too big, and if everything was ok, and she looked a bit shocked. I told her everyone had been telling me how big I was and I was worried, and her words have stuck with me since.

She said: "You are absolutely where you should be. You are following the expected growth line perfectly and we have absolutely no worries whatsoever. Each one of these projected growth charts is unique to each person, and you're exactly where we want you to be following the perfect curve. You're looking absolutely fabulous, so don't you worry."

Honestly, I could've kissed her. To hear that just made me feel so much more at ease and less worried that I'd be birthing a toddler next month.

I imagine it's the same the other end of the spectrum for people who have really small bumps. When Gary Beadle's (Gaz from Geordie Shore) girlfriend was pregnant she got so much stick for having such a small bump and "not looking pregnant". People said she was obviously not giving the baby enough nutrition and that it wasn't going to be healthy, but he was born a healthy 6lb-er.

It's so strange how being pregnant suddenly gives everyone the right to comment on your body.

Of course, if people are going to tell you lovely things about you glowing, blooming, suiting pregnancy, looking well etc. then all that is fine - you'd pay compliments to anyone when you thought they looked good.

We'd had a maternity shoot booked with the people who did our wedding photography, which took place this weekend. I was getting increasingly nervous about it after having my confidence bashed. I didn't want photos of my bump because I didn't want to remember being made to feel like such a whale.

However, when we went, I was made to feel so at ease and so comfortable that I forgot about all the "huge" comments and embraced my bump and my body. And I absolutely love the sneak peek of pictures that we have already seen. 

The pregnant body is such an amazing thing - literally growing a life inside you. It should be celebrated, and not criticised. Some women have terrible pregnancies with illness and health problems, all pregnant women should be celebrated not their size constantly scrutinised. Too big, too small, who gives a toss. As long as there's a healthy mum and healthy baby, that's all that matters.

So, here's to body positivity! Let's celebrate everyone - no matter their shape and size, pregnant or not. 


18/04/2018

Hello, it's me!

Still alive - and still pregnant! You may have wondered since I haven't blogged about it for so long..

But here I am, at 31 weeks, in all my pregnant glory (I use the word glory in the loosest possible sense, I don't feel all too glorious at the moment! More like a puffy, swollen, uncomfortable blob.)


I've been pretty quiet for the last couple of months in terms of blogging because I was really struggling with what to write. I was really conscious of boring/spamming you all with the pregnancy posts and just repeating myself over and over again.

So, I took a little bit of a break from writing down my every movement, experience, emotion etc. and have, as a result, found myself in a bit of a rut. Kind of like writer's block.

Quite a lot of people have started saying to me "oh have I missed a post recently?" or "you've not blogged for ages" which makes me feel even more like this needs to be absolute gold (prepare yourselves, it's probably going to be absolute garbage!)

Today marks the 32-week mark of pregnancy, meaning we have just eight weeks until her due date. She is approximately the size of a Florida Pomelo (?!?!) or, in English, as long as a kale stem.



What I like best is seeing each week how big her hands and feet are getting...



I can totally believe they are that size when I get them jabbed into my ribs while it feels like she's doing some sort of Irish jig.

Aside from her, and me, growing at a rapid rate by the week, I don't feel like there's been much that I have missed blogging about.

I suppose the main thing would be our hypnobirthing classes. Tom said to me when we finished them I should write a review, but I would feel a bit of a cheat writing a review about hypnobirthing before actually doing the birthing part of it.

Don't get me wrong, up until now it's been absolutely marvellous! We are both so much calmer, more prepared and positive about the whole birthing situation and definitely feel like, providing there are no medical issues, we will be able to properly practice all the techniques we have learned.

Quite a few people have asked me about hypnobirthing, it's getting more and more common but is still relatively unknown. A lot of people think it's a bit 'hippy-ish' and dismiss it to the same bracket as vegans and feminists.

Essentially, it is overcoming the fear that we are programmed to feel about childbirth. And the only reason we are made to think this way is because we are told so many horror stories about birth. I don't know people insist on doing it, especially when they can see you are pregnant and can't back out now!

We are made to think that labour is going to be this horrible, painful, distressing, traumatic, worst-thing-in-the-world experience. Don't get me wrong, I don't dispute it's going to be painful. But if it was really that bad, women wouldn't keep having babies.

So many people whose hypnobirthing stories I have read have said they tried the technique because their first labour was so bad and wanted a much calmer, more positive birth.

I am hoping that if we can go into the whole thing feeling more positive and calm, my body will be positive and calm in response.

Another reason we opted for hypnobirthing was because Tom was a bit worried about labour. I know what you're thinking, he doesn't have to do it so what is he worrying for?

But he was worried that he wouldn't be able to keep calm, or to cope seeing me in pain. He was worried he wouldn't have a role, and wouldn't know what to do to try and help the situation. And I can completely understand his worries. There's nothing worse than feeling helpless while watching someone in so much pain and discomfort.

Since doing hypnobirthing he is now confident, calm and positive and ready for what he can do to help me and the labour progress.

I just hope that everything is straightforward and that we get to put all our practice into action. The only times I have read about it not working is when someone has had to be induced or there have been medical complications. Either way, the techniques we have learned have helped us massively with keeping calm during pregnancy and I definitely feel more prepared and relaxed about the whole situation than I would have done otherwise.

You can expect a full-blown review of hypnobirthing once Peanut has arrived (and I can sit down comfortably for long enough to pen it!)

So, hypnobirthing aside, what else have we been doing?

We put our pram up last weekend which was really exciting but quite daunting because it was just another thing that made it feel really, really real. It's being stored at mum and dad's because we have literally no room at ours at the moment (and they say it's bad luck to have it in the house before baby arrives, so even better excuse to keep it out the way!)

I have my baby shower next weekend which I am really excited about. I got a new dress for it, because I am essentially living in leggings and stretchy t-shirts at the moment. It was from ASOS - I learned my lesson from one of my last posts where I got stuck in a dress from Boohoo - and I really, really love it. It's really floaty and really comfy. 

I'd like to say it's flattering, but there's not much you can do to flatter a watermelon shoved up your top.

I really want to start washing all her little sleepsuits, outfits, bedding and blankets but I know it's too soon to do that just yet. I think that'll be a job I save for when I start maternity, because I know for a fact that first day I'll already be bored.

I can see it now, I'll set out to have a lie in and relax but by 12 noon will have cleaned the house top to bottom and washed the contents of her wardrobe.

We've got some really cute little bits for her recently from Next. Their baby clothes are just the cutest and I literally could buy everything in there.

 

I really like the sets that are tops and leggings so you can mix and match, but I am loving cute little dresses and pinafores too. We've got some lovely little sleepsuits but I am really struggling with what size to buy. I don't want to get loads of newborn because I anticipate her being quite leggy and not fitting in them.

But, by the same token, I don't want to not get any newborn and her be a little dot and not fit in anything. It's a hard balance to strike because the last thing I want is gorgeous little outfits sat there never, ever worn.

I think we are pretty much ready for her arrival now, in terms of items purchased. We have definitely got all the big things sorted, I finally managed to choose a changing bag, and we have enough nappies to see us through the first few months (unless she is some sort of nuclear pooing machine, they will hopefully see us longer than that!!)

The only thing we really still need to get is a baby monitor but it is so, so hard to choose one we are just putting that off for now. There are so many options out there - video, sound only, movement sensors... I feel so overwhelmed by it all! That will be top of the list on our next weekend shopping trip.

I don't want to keep warbling, because I am aware this is probably not the most riveting post you've ever read of mine!! But just one final bit of cuteness for you...

So, our littlest cat, Ashton, is a bit of a pain in the arse. He is a ball of energy and can be really, really naughty sometimes and is very rarely affectionate. However, the last couple of months he has been so cute and affectionate towards me.

He always comes and sits on me and has to have his head as close to my belly as possible. See pictures below...





He just loves sitting watching my belly, or sleeping on it, and it's really cute. I hope he is nice to her when she's here and doesn't try and smother her or anything!

Mila, on the other hand, will absolutely hate her. She hates noise and anything that she isn't used to. I doubt we'll see her for weeks once Peanut arrives and starts asserting her dominance by screaming the house down.

Finally (I promise!) I am having a 'maternity shoot' done at the start of May. It actually falls the day before our first wedding anniversary, and is with the photographer who did our wedding, so that will be nice.

I'm a bit apprehensive about it, and can't see me posting my photos all over for the world to see (famous last words... haha!) I don't feel too confident about my pregnancy body at the moment.

About two weeks ago I woke up one morning and had stretch marks in exactly the same place on both sides of my hips and just underneath my belly button. They literally appeared overnight and I was so, so upset. I'd not had a single one up until then so thought I was going to get away with it, but apparently not. I have been lathering them in every oil and cream I can lay my hands on hoping to tame them/prevent them from getting even worse. I know stretch marks are a bit of a given when your belly is stretching to carry a person around in, but it still doesn't make me any more accepting of them on my abdomen.

Stretch marks aside, I also just feel a bit self-conscious about how much my body has changed. My thighs have taken on a life of their own now and my arms have even started to pad out. I have a little collection of chins developing and my face is definitely developing that pregnancy swell. I just don't feel like myself and I know I won't look at the pictures in the same way that I do my wedding photos and think "wow look at me there".

In years to come, I'm sure I will look back with that view and remember how amazing my body has been at growing our little girl and bringing her into the world. I know that's why people have these photos taken, to have memories and to show their children where they grew etc.

Who knows, I may get a sudden wave of body confidence and suddenly think I'm Demi Moore and just strip off completely!!

So, I think that's about it for now. 

I will try and get a bit more regular with my posts again, but try and make them interesting enough so that I don't bore you all to tears or annoy you with my constant over-sharing. I think I've done quite well in this post - I've barely even trodden on TMI's toes!

08/03/2018

"There is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise"

"To tell a woman everything she cannot do is to tell her what she can."

When I was at primary school, I remember vividly always wanting to be good at everything. I was on the top table for Maths and English, and I always wanted to do well in every test, challenge and activity that I was set.

Maths was always my weakest subject, and always the one I had to work the hardest on. English and other subjects came quite naturally to me, but not Maths.

I remember being in year two, Mrs Spencer's class, and being moved down from the top table in Maths because I didn't do very well in my last few tests. I was mortified.

I worked so, so hard to get back onto the top table. So hard that, in fact, Mrs Spencer called in my mum and dad to tell them how impressed she was with me. I remember her saying she was taken aback by my work ethic and my determination to be good and be on top.

I have never liked being told I couldn't do something I wanted to, or believed I could.

The quickest way to get me to do something is to tell me I can't, or you don't think I can.
When I was in second year at college I absolutely bombed my History exam in the January. As it stood, I wasn't going to get into university and be able to study history.

I remember my tutor sitting me down and telling me I'd got an E in my exam. I laughed, nervously, at first and asked him to repeat what he said. I thought I'd heard 'E', but wasn't sure if he said 'A'. To be honest, the A would have been more of a shock!

But I just broke down. I was absolutely crushed. I'd never failed an exam before, and never as spectacularly as that. I knew that if I didn't work hard, I wouldn't be going to university.

So I put the hours in, I did one-to-one revision sessions and worked my arse off to eventually get a B in the exam I'd failed six months previous. And the rest is history, quite literally!

I went to uni and had the best three years ever, making the most amazing memories with the most amazing people.

I can be quite stubborn when I want to be. When I get my mind set on something that I want, whether it be a possession or something I want to do, I don't like to give up on it. I like hard work, I'm not afraid to work my arse off to get what, and where, I want.

This International Women's Day it's important to celebrate the achievements of women all over the world.

We are amazing, strong, powerful human beings who are underestimated every single day. In business, in social situations and in the media. People think women aren't as strong or capable as men because we are more emotional, or more driven by our feelings, but I think that makes us stronger.

Telling a woman she can't do something only spurs her on to want to prove everyone wrong. 

There are so many amazing female role models out there who deserve to be celebrated everyday, not just today.

When women support each other, amazing things happen. Too often in the media women tear each other down, pick faults with each other and are pitted off against each other. But when women come together, we are a force to be reckoned with.

I am so excited to be able to teach my daughter how amazing it is to be a woman, and to let her know that the sky really is her limit. She can do whatever she puts her mind to, and nobody will ever stand in her way if she is determined enough to succeed.




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