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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.




18/02/2018

To say that children "benefit most" from being raised by a man and a woman is absolute bullshit

Those of you who have read my blog for some time know that I like to give my opinions on current affairs, topics that are being discussed widely at that time, and generally just hop onto my soapbox every now and again.

When I give my opinions, I don't expect everyone to agree with me. The world would be incredibly boring if everyone thought the same thing, and held the same views on things. Debate is healthy, after all.

However, I am always careful to never offend anybody. I am well aware that everyone is entitled to hold their own opinion on things, it's what makes this country, and this world, special that everyone holds their own beliefs on things.

People like Katie Hopkins make me really mad. They have made names for themselves by preaching these controversial points of view and being inappropriate; targeting individuals and preying on them to try and big up their own profiles.

I don't ever read the Daily Mail, I'd just like to put that out there. I occasionally browse Mail Online, but purely for the 'column of shame' (aka the celeb 'gossip'). So this weekend, the only reason I heard about Richard Littlejohn's latest column was because of the news stories about Center Parcs pulling their advertising with the media organisation because of its content.

Littlejohn went on a lengthy rant entitled 'Please don't pretend new dads is the new normal'. He was talking about the news this week that Tom Daley and his husband, Dustin Lance Black, are having a baby.


Just the title alone made me incensed. 

His claims throughout the article made my blood boil, I could physically feel my blood pressure rising as I struggled to comprehend what this man was saying.

He says, and I quote: "I'd rather children were fostered by loving gay couples than condemned to rot in state-run institutions where they face a better-than-average chance of being abused."

He then goes on to say: "That said, and despite the fact that countless single parents do a fantastic job, I still cling to the belief that children benefit most from being brought up by a man and a woman."

He calls the announcement by Tom Daley and his husband and a "publicity stunt" and goes on to question who the baby's mother is. He's concerned that she has been "written out of the script entirely" and is worried that he doesn't know her identity. He assumes she is a surrogate and refers to women bring treated as "mere breeding machines".

He doesn't know her reasons for having this baby for them. Perhaps she fell pregnant and didn't want a termination, so has put the baby up for adoption. She may have had her own children and want to help give other couples that same blessing. There are so many reasons why women carry children for others and that should be applauded, not criticised. They are doing such a brave, incredible thing and giving the best possible gift to a couple whose one dream is to have a child. What exactly is wrong with that?! 

I'm not sure that's really why he is so bothered, though.

Despite Littlejohn saying "No one is suggesting that homosexual couples can't make excellent parents" he queries why the story has been reported everywhere "without so much as a raised eyebrow".

Maybe, just maybe, that's because we live in 2018?

Why do we need to question the parentage of this baby? Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black clearly want to have this baby, they clearly have enough love to give him/her, and they are obviously more than ready to be parents.

So many babies are brought into this world everyday to parents who aren't ready for them, don't want them, and give them up, or worse, abandon them. What does it matter if this baby doesn't have a male and female bringing them up?

I know some amazing single parents - both men and women - who provide more than enough love to their children. Absent fathers - and mothers, of course - are a regular sight in our society today. But does that mean that children who come from a single-parent home aren't going to do as well? I don't think so.

Single parents are absolutely incredible and I totally admire them bringing up their babies single-handedly. They give so much love and that's all that matters. Some of the brightest kids I know have come from single-parent homes, it genuinely makes no difference who is loving these babies as long as they get enough of it. So to say that children "benefit most" from being raised by a mum and a dad is absolute bullshit.

Why should it matter if Tom Daley's baby has the love of two dads? Love is love, it doesn't matter who or where it comes from. Children all over the world crave love from one, or both, of their parents. They may be in a family with a mum and a dad, but not get the love and affection they need, deserve or want.

It's 2018, for goodness sake, you can't brand things as 'normal' anymore. 

Littlejohn's article goes on to rant about him not agreeing with a transgender woman breastfeeding her baby. He even uses the word her in inverted commas. *Facepalm*

I am pretty certain that Tom Daley's baby is going to be a much kinder, caring, and loving soul than Richard Littlejohn ever could possibly hope to be. Whether that is down to the fact he has been raised by two men, who knows, but I know who I would rather align myself with. And it certainly isn't a bigoted, arrogant man such as Littlejohn.

All the Daily Mail's reaction to this news is remind us that we aren't all equal yet and, despite the amazing work of so many, we all still have so far to go.

Huge congratulations to Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black on their exciting news.
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