"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.


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.


I got stuck in a dress last night and suddenly hated everything about pregnancy

I'm back to writing about pregnancy-related stuff now, soz. Hope you enjoyed the brief interlude, I'll try make them more regular to break up the spam!

This is probably going to be a bit of a weird post, and not make much sense to many people (although, hopefully some of my fellow preggo friends will understand where I am coming from!)

Ever since my belly started growing at a rapid rate, I have absolutely loved my body changing. It's been amazing watching it grow - sometimes every day - and change shape. And even more amazing now that she's started kicking and we can see her moving around.

At first, I struggled with the gaining weight but not looking pregnant stage, but that soon passed and I've felt really, really confident.

Until last night.

I took this photo after what I am about to talk about, to try and remind myself that things aren't so bad and to stop being so hard on myself because, at the end of the day, I am growing a person!

I am going to an awards ceremony with work tonight; it's black tie. Usually, this would be right up my street - a great excuse to dress up and get a new frock. But, being pregnant, it's hard to find a nice, 'dressy' dress that will be flattering, suit you & not cost the earth. Because, let's be honest, spending a lot of money on a dress is difficult to justify at the best of times, but even more so when it's a maternity one and you know you won't get any wear out of it again.

I shopped around a bit and, after struggling to find one that was dressy enough, settled on a black bodycon dress from Boohoo. It was in the maternity range and the model online was pregnant. Although, whether she was really pregnant is a question I asked myself. Her boobies were way too small to be pregnant lady boobies.

It arrived and I tried it on and there is no way on this earth it was a maternity dress. No friggin' way.

I couldn't even get it over my boobs. When I eventually did, and forced it over my bump and bum, I couldn't breathe. I couldn't move. And I certainly wasn't comfortable. I felt so self-conscious and like a beached whale. I felt absolutely disgusting.
I just wanted to get it off, but I was stuck. I couldn't shout Tom, I was too embarrassed that I was stuck in a dress. So I started to get hot and panicky, which made getting it off even worse.

When I did finally escape the fabric's clutches, I decided to measure it against a similar dress I bought from Boohoo last summer.

This was me, wearing said dress, last summer.

(A bit of pre-baby body appreciation thrown in *sighs*)

When I put the two dresses on top of each other, they were almost exactly the same size!! The one in the above photo is a size 10 (*sighs again*) and the 'maternity' one I bought this week was allegedly a 12.

All my other maternity clothes I have bought, and wear day in, day out, are all size 12 and I have no problems. My skinny maternity jeans (bit of an oxymoron there!) are a 12, tops are 12s - no issues. 

I was furious. But, more than that, I was really upset.

I've been trying to remain so body confident throughout pregnancy so far, embracing the changes that are happening to my body and enjoying not feeling pressured to lose weight. I have still been trying to maintain a healthy, balanced diet, but I am enjoying biscuits, cake, chocolate and whatever else I want. It's the only time in my life I will get fat and have an excuse for it. 

What will be, will be. Everyone grows babies differently. Every female body is different, so I knew I couldn't predict what mine would do. My boobs, for example. They've grown an insane amount!

I was measured for a maternity bra the other weekend, it was long overdue! I've gone from a 34B to a 36DD. 

I took this nice comparison of the bras I was wearing before I got pregnant, compared to the beast I bought the other weekend. Here's a photo, to lighten the tone/mood! 

Soph and I were talking in the gym about pregnancy and our bodies changing last week, and a woman came over to us afterwards (she'd overheard our conversation because, apparently, we talk very loud when we're in the gym). She said how lovely it was to hear us talking so positively about embracing all the changes our bodies will go through and not stressing about it.

If she could've seen me last night! I was embracing nothing.

I just wanted to get into bed and cry at how fat and ugly I was. I didn't feel glowy, I didn't feel blooming, and I certainly didn't feel attractive.

Knowing I was being completely irrational and that I would feel like a right muppet when I woke up, I decided to take some photos before I went to sleep to remind myself how great the human body actually is.

And, true enough, when I looked at them this morning I did feel like an idiot. I look at them now, like I look at my body most days, and am so proud of what it is creating inside. There's a tiny miracle growing in there, kicking around and moving all the time.

Yes, my body is changing shape and isn't what it used to be, but it's not going to be like this forever. The gestation period of a human is 40 weeks - I'm well over half way now - so that finish line is almost in sight.

When I lost weight when I started Slimming World, it was so easy. I know it's easy to lose weight by eating well, so I am not worried about that. 

Right now, all I am worried about is keeping our little Peanut safe, well fed (no danger of that not happening!) and keep growing her until she's ready to make her arrival into the world. Who gives a chuff what I look like, as long as I am doing my job of growing her and looking after her that is all that matters.

I've sent the dress back to Boohoo today, along with a review for the website slating the dress for not being maternity in the slightest, and managed to find a last minute, emergency dress while on my lunch break today. So all is well with the world!

Hopefully the only wobbles I'll have for the rest of my pregnancy is my thighs/bum/extra chins and I'll give over worrying about what I look like. There's plenty of time for that when she's here!

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