Tuesday 11 December 2012

Some photographic indulgence...

Once again I've been off these pages for far too long. It's hard to say where the time goes, but I'm very rarely in front of a computer screen these days - and if I am it's normally emailing pics of my little lady to her grandparents, or onto Facebook. Yes, I have become one of those Mums who is completely obsessed with her child and spends her whole life doting on her or sharing pics of her with the world - and in yet another moment of self indulgence please find a few photos of my 11-week-old poppet below... ;-) xx

Friday 16 November 2012

Deja vu

Apologies once again for not writing more on here lately, but it would appear having a newborn baby takes up quite a lot of time - who knew?! Ha ha.

Life with Lucy is going really well and for the most part I am really, really enjoying it (the one per cent I don't enjoy being afternoons like yesterday when Lucy got ridiculously overtired and it took me three full hours to settle her down and get her to bed!). She's somehow 8 weeks old already now and has begun to smile and interact, and she's starting to fall into more recognisable patterns of behaviour so I feel a bit like I understand her at least some of the time. She is really beautiful and it is amazing to see her develop and change almost on a daily basis - although there was a little tear in my eye when I packed away her newborn and 0-1 month clothes the other day as she is in the 0-3 month clothes now. I guess they always say the time flies but I'm really feeling it just now.

Anyway - life has been quite busy lately and the most exciting news is that we have accepted an offer on the flat. We actually had two offers in the same afternoon and had the tension of a bidding war - which really worked in our favour and we (tentatively) have an excellent price for the flat. The guy seems very keen and serious and has already swapped solicitor details... but after the disappointment of last time we try to keep our feet grounded and just hope for the best.

I am very relieved though that we don't have to keep leaving the flat immaculate for viewings and me trotting out several times a day so the estate agents can show people around without me being there. That has been hard work with little Miss!

Our buyer has indicated he wants to exchange before Christmas and complete in the New Year, in early January... so we have everything crossed that happens and we can find a decent rental, and that we will start 2013 in a little family home in Kent. And before then - a last Christmas (hopefully!) in London to enjoy. I feel excited to take Lucy to the Winter Wonderland and the Christmas family services at Southwark Cathedral - our nearest church - but I'm sure these activities are both more for my benefit than hers!

Monday 29 October 2012


You have probably gathered that Family Beans haven't moved house yet. If you've been following the saga, we accepted an offer on our flat back in March, when I was just 12 weeks pregnant. In April we had our offer on a family house in Kent accepted, and the aim was for both the sale and purchase to be completed by the end of June. Sounds pretty straightforward doesn't it? And having bought two properties and sold one before, I had every hope things would progress smoothly.

Well, suffice to say that didn't exactly happen and now here we are in October - about to start all over again. Our buyer pulled out of buying our flat a couple of weeks ago, just days before we were set to exchange and complete contracts. The buyer has been incredibly slow and unreliable, so earlier in the process the Boy and I fully anticipated problems. But when we had got to the point where we had all spent money - our buyer spending over £1k on a very detailed survey of our flat! - we were optimistic the transaction would be closed off successfully.

I was bitterly disappointed that the process collapsed. I've recently had some bad news about my Mum's health and I was very keen to be near her in Kent - I was hoping time with Lucy would be a happy distraction for her at this difficult time. We also did all our antenatal (NCT classes) in Kent and I have become very close to a couple of the girls, and was muchly looking forward to seeing more of them. It is so helpful to know other new Mums when you are just starting out as a parent. We were also both ready to move from our little flat which is bursting at the seams now with baby paraphernalia (as well as everything else we had!) and move to a proper little family house with a garden. The Boy and I had both fantasised about Lucy's first Christmas being in our first family gaff.

Having the carpet pulled from beneath us has been quite a bitter blow and it took us a moment or two to pick ourselves up. The thought of starting again and having to work viewings etc around little Lucy felt somewhat overwhelming and we needed to pause and recollect ourselves. And that we did. We've now had estate agents around, instructed one to sell the property, and we are starting again from this week. Deep breath!

The good news is that the flat has rocketed in value even since March, with the redevelopment of the area. We can now how to sell for at least £20k more than the price we agreed back then - so, I suppose every cloud has a silver lining and all that... and while we would rather not be in this position we will make the best of it. We've lost the house we were going to purchase, and we've decided now to just rent in the area we were moving to at least to begin with. We're both loathe to get stuck in a chain again, and this way as soon as we have a buyer secured we can up sticks and move. Renting means we can spend some time getting to know the area better and making sure we move to the right place. Wish us luck!

Our light

A few more pics of my beautiful baby xx



Lucy will be six weeks old on Thursday - as everyone warned me the time is flying by so quickly already. Every day she is changing. Physically she's grown 12cm in length since she was born (!) and in the last three weeks she's put on about 2lbs in weight. I can feel the difference when I pick her up! Her head is bigger and she is much stronger - she can turn her head from side to side and instead of snuggling into my chest like she did when she was a newborn, she pushes herself up on her arms to look around and take in her surroundings. Trust a baby of mine to be a big nosey beak! Lucy is much more alert and she's starting to show real signs of independence - enjoying time on her gym play mat, sitting in her swing, and also quiet time chilling in her Moses basket when she's had enough stimulation from Mum and Dad.

So, I've been a Mum for nearly six weeks. Blimey it's hard work! Everyone tells you that it is, but nothing can really prepare you for what it is like to have a tiny person dependent on you for their basic needs 24/7. In some ways it's the most challenging thing I've ever done - but the rewards are indeed as huge as you imagine. And as hard as it is, it is still a lot easier than doing the job I was doing before little Miss arrived! Hearing Lucy grunt or squeak from her Moses basket when she is sleeping (no one tells you how noisy babies are when they are asleep!) is enough to make my heart burst, and when she frowns at me with her big blue eyes a little piece of me melts. I can't even describe what it is like when she smiles at me...

I've felt a whole range of emotions over the last month or so in my new role as a Mum. Many I expected, but  some aspects have definitely caught me by surprise. I certainly didn't imagine that I would have times when I would feel woefully inadequate and not good enough. I'm getting used to Lucy now, but at the beginning when I couldn't read what her cries meant and I didn't know how to soothe her, my confidence took a pretty big hit and there were times when I felt quite useless. I've actually been rather hard on myself - I'm used to being a success at everything I turned my hand to, and I admit to wanting to be the best Mum ever from the offset, when of course it is going to take time for us to learn how to be a family and get to know each other. I'm starting to feel now that I'm good enough - not flawless, but who is?! - and that I'm doing a good job... but that has taken some time and is only really kicking in now.

I also carried - and still do - quite a lot of anxiety. In the first few days I didn't sleep well at all, but kept looking at Lucy in her crib to make sure she was ok, and that she was breathing and so on. My paranoia that something would be wrong with her - I guess guided by my previous losses and the slightly unorthodox time I went through having her - was quite intense to begin with. I won't tell you just how many times I've put my hand on her chest when she's sleeping or my finger on the back of her neck to check her temperature - but it feels like rather a lot! I do worry that she is ok and that she is content - much more so than the Boy does. He has been very chilled out and seems to have taken our new addition in his stride. For me, as well as opening the door to a world of excitement and happiness (there are sooooo many experiences I can't wait to share with Lucy, so many things to teach her and moments to enjoy) another door has opened too - one where I worry for her health, her welfare and her happiness... I'm hopeful this will subside a little as time passes. It's already a lot less than it was a few weeks ago.

But I am also very proud of myself and how I am coping with Lucy. We have far more good and happy days than stressful ones. I've taken her on the train to Kent twice by myself and every day when the Boy is at work I take her out somewhere - anything from a walk round the block, to a local Mums group, to coffee or lunch with friends. Most days I manage to have a shower, clean my teeth, get dressed, pop some mascara on and feel a bit like the Beans of old - and these are all mini achievements that I couldn't imagine happening back at the end of September, there was one day the Boy and I didn't even eat anything until 4pm at the beginning! But it's starting to come together and I am confident that things will continue to go from strength to strength for us.

I also love seeing the Boy in his role as a Dad. He is so gentle, patient and loving with Lucy and I can see a special bond between them both really developing. Whereas I can get anxious and flustered when things don't go especially well, the Boy is calm and grounded, and is a welcome presence. He's every bit as good a Dad as he is a husband, and a best friend. I am very, very blessed indeed.

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Gorgeous girl

This is very self-indulgent, but here are a couple of my favourite pics of Lucy from the last week. She is sooooo cute! (Although you wouldn't believe the man size farts I can hear coming from her Moses Basket as I write this... how she doesn't wake herself up with the vibrations I really don't know...!).

Monday 15 October 2012

Pathetic postnatal care

It's not often in life I find myself so incensed or upset about something that I follow through with making a complaint. I might grizzle and moan to friends about less than satisfactory customer service, or let my the Boy know when I'm disappointed with the way something has turned out, but that is usually where I draw the line and let go of an issue and move on. I don't like to hold on to negative experiences - I used to do a lot of that in the past and it didn't agree with me. Now I find it better to spend some time processing why something has upset me and then think about how I can learn from that or do things differently, let go, and move on to the next thing life has to offer.

However, the experience I endured in the postnatal ward at St Thomas's Hospital was so bad, that for the first time in a number of years I was riled enough to formally complain. The letter below went to the hospital last week and outlines my concerns - I won't repeat them now as the letter sets it all out clearly enough, but suffice to say the experience was pretty horrific and really set me back in my first few days of looking after Lucy. But I was lucky enough to come home to a wonderful husband, a loving family (which included a midwife) and a great circle of friends, and now it all feels like quite a distant memory. However, I'm aware not every woman is lucky enough to have such a great bunch of people and so much love behind her, so I felt I owed it to people less fortunate than me to raise the points I have done formally. I've heard from the hospital that an investigation is being conducted... I will let you know of any outcomes.

Patient information team

St Thomas' Hospital
Knowledge and information centre (KIC)
ground floor, North Wing
Westminster Bridge Road
London SE1 7EH

To whom it may concern

It is with regret that I am writing to complain about the treatment I received during my recent stay in the postnatal ward at St Thomas’s Hospital from 20-22 September 2012.

I had my first baby, a daughter Lucy, by planned c-section on 20 September 2012 as she was transverse with the cord presenting. Prior to the operation I was in the antenatal ward for a fortnight, and the level of care I received there and during the operation was of a very high standard. I felt safe and respected even when it was evident the staff were incredibly busy, and I was optimistic this would continue when I moved to the postnatal ward.

However, my experience rapidly deteriorated once there and I was appalled by the level of care I received on the postnatal ward. My main concerns were:
·      -   Not being given a clean hospital gown to wear until two days after my operation, despite asking, so I was lying in a blood-soaked gown for 36 hours.
·     -    Midwives being too busy to change my blood-soaked pads on the bed, so having to lie in them for much longer than was dignified. When asking a midwife for help, I was told to do it myself, but I couldn’t see the area and it was too early for me to move about as I had only just had the operation.
·     -    A doctor saying how important it was that my catheter was removed the day after surgery so I could get up and be mobile – but I spent hours asking midwives to remove it and they didn’t until 36 hours after surgery when I was literally sobbing for it to be taken out. They were also too busy to empty it, so it was full to bursting at the side of my bed which left me feeling very unrespected.
·      -   Buzzing for assistance in lifting my daughter from her cot to me so I could nurse her and offer skin-to-skin contact, but having to wait for a long time for someone to assist me – I eventually gave up and did it myself even though it put undue strain on my caesarean wound and was painful to do so.
·      -   Conflicting advice from midwives about how to nurse my newborn – one insisted I continually nurse her for four hours straight, while another said I should only be doing half an hour at a time. No one told me the same thing.
·       -  Midwives not introducing themselves at the beginning of shifts so I had no idea who was supposed to be supporting me, and no one coming onto the ward for hours at a time to check patients were ok.
·       -  Having to buzz midwives to insist on them giving me my blood-thinning injections and pain relief – this was never offered to me proactively, I always had to remind them when I needed the medication which is a lot of responsibility for someone recovering from major abdominal surgery.
·       - Only seeing a doctor once after my caesearean – a midwife looked at my scar quickly before I was discharged but that was the only aftercare I received.
·       -  Being made to feel like an inconvenience – whenever I asked for help I was told midwives were too busy. -I asked if the breastfeeding counsellor could come to see me I was told “do you really want to make her walk in here and see you when she’s so busy”, and when I asked for advice when my baby was distressed the midwife glaring at me and saying “babies cry, deal with it”.
·       -  Hearing other women on the postnatal ward crying about the similar neglect they were receiving.
·      -   Midwives not assisting me with my wound hygiene when I got out of bed. My husband had to remove the dressing with me instead, which I do not find a satisfactory level of care.
·       -  Having to wait until day 4 before receiving a visit from a community midwife in my home.

The 48 hours I was on the postnatal ward were intolerable and spoiled my first few days with my beautiful daughter. Thankfully I have returned to a loving family home with a supportive and nurturing husband, family and friends, and community midwives have since been excellent, so I am bonding well with my daughter and enjoying every moment with her.

However, when I think back to my time in St Thomas’s after the birth it had a massive psychological effect on me and it still reduces me to tears. I don’t think I would be doing so well if I didn’t have such a strong support network so I feel I must complain in case other women have such a negative experience but are not as fortunate as me in their support network. I totally lost my confidence on the postnatal ward, and felt undervalued and like an inconvenience at all times. The only midwife who treated me like a human being was an agency midwife called Christiana. I am grateful to her.

I would like to know by return what steps you are going to put in place to ensure women receive far better treatment on the postnatal ward and make sure this level of neglect does not happen again. I am aware my negative experience was not unique just from talking to other women on my ward.

Please advise what steps you will take to ensure all new mums receive a basic level of care and have their dignity protected in response to each of the points I raise above.

After having a baby a woman can be very vulnerable and I believe the current standard of service offered by St Thomas’s postnatally is well below acceptable and I am prepared to talk to the media about the hugely disappointing level of care I received.

I look forward to your swift response.


Thursday 11 October 2012

International Day of the Girl

In honour of international day of the girl, here's me and my girl surviving our first day without Dad! As you'll have seen from my earlier post I was very anxious and lacking confidence this morning - but it's gone really well and we've managed it! Dad due home anytime now and we can't wait to see him for cuddles xx

Flying solo

Today is my first day with Lucy without the Boy. We have been very blessed to have him with us 24 / 7 the last three weeks which has been amazing. While it's been an exhausting and at times difficult few weeks, being together has made everything so much easier - two pairs of hands have certainly been better than one where little lady has been concerned! It's been like a long holiday and I must confess to feeling a certain amount of trepidation about going solo today. It does feel like I have a little case of the post-holiday blues, you know when you've come back from this most amazing trip and then real life kicks in again and the little bubble you've been in has burst. But this time my reality is Lucy and she is a complete delight (most of the time!) so I'm hoping I'll start to feel a bit calmer and more settled all the time as the hours and days go by, and that I can really start believing in myself as a Mum.

I know I will get more confident as each day passes and the first day without the Boy was always going to be a bit tricky - even when I've been looking after Lucy, he has been in the background offering support, reassurance and advice. When my instinct has been to do something for her, he has encouraged me. When things have been going less well, he's stepped in to try and soothe our lovely girl and offer a calming presence. Now it feels a bit scary trusting myself alone in the day times. I just hope I can get it right and be a good Mum. It is a big learning curve for me and Lucy! Hopefully she will be patient with me - and hopefully, probably key to all this, I can be gentle on myself and not worry too much.

Lucy was a bit grizzly after the Boy left today - we had an hour of unsettled sleep and a few tears and grumblings. But since then she's had a good feed, a bit of a cuddle and play with me, and she's now been asleep for nearly an hour and a half... I should probably be napping too, but I feel a bit anxious today as it all seems a bit new. Am far too wired to sleep! I hope as the days go by I can relax more and make the most of these quiet moments to do nothing and put my feet up! I'll keep you posted!

Monday 8 October 2012

A new arrival in the Beans household!

Please forgive me for the lack of posts lately - the last month or so has been a bit of a whirlwind, as our beautiful daughter Lucy Grace has arrived!!! The Boy and I are completely smitten, completely knackered, and completely overwhelmed to be a family at last!

I may be a little biased but I think Lucy is the most beautiful little girl I have ever seen. It is remarkable to see her growing and changing every day and I can already see how parenthood is going to be the biggest rollercoaster of our lives. She is a very chilled out little lady (must take after the Boy!) and we feel very lucky and blessed to have her with us.

Lucy arrived on 20 September at 4.54pm weighing in at bang on 8lbs. Suffice to say the birth didn't go quite as expected... at my 37 weeks midwife appointment my midwife was a little concerned that Lucy wasn't engaged and didn't seem to be in the right position - having been head down for most of the pregnancy. I was sent up to St Thomas's Hospital for a routine scan to check what was what - where they discovered that Lucy was transverse with the umbilical cord presenting. This is extremely rare (happens in less that one per cent of pregnancies, and is even more unusual in first time mums!) and is potentially fatal - I was told that if I was to go into labour naturally at home or my waters were to break and the cord came out first, it was very likely we would lose Lucy.

So, after the scan I was hospitalised and spent nearly 3 weeks in the antenatal ward at Tommies while we hoped and prayed that Lucy would work herself into a safer position. Unfortunately I had the combination of a transverse baby, a heart-shaped uterus, and too much amniotic fluid which meant that didn't happen. She was happy as Larry wiggling away to her heart's content and mostly with her head parked behind my belly button (extremely uncomfortable!) and we couldn't get her to settle long enough with her head down to try inducing me or going for a natural birth. We gave it our best shot - and those three weeks I spent in hospital away from the Boy at the time felt like the longest of my life.

The best - and really, only - way forward to keep Lucy and I safe was a planned c-section which I had on my due date, 20 September. It wasn't what I had envisaged or wanted, but when circumstances change and you understand the risks to your baby, you have to go with the flow and be flexible. At the end of the day all that mattered was our baby came into the world alive and safe, and thankfully that is what happened.

The operation was very strange and I will write more on it another time, but the staff were very reassuring and highly skilled and everything went as well as it could done. We were still able to incorporate some parts of our birth plan - the Boy cut the cord and I had skin-to-skin with Lucy and was able to nurse her... and now she is here and is so wonderful, the way in which she came into the world seems increasingly unimportant. Physically I am healing well - and after a few hiccups with our latch Lucy is feeding well and putting on weight. Hopefully she'll be a chunkster like her Mum in no time ;-)

On that note it is probably time for me to get back to her and give her some lunch, so I will try to write some more soon about how everything has been, my beautiful girl, my wonderful husband and how we are getting on settling into family life. She's certainly turned our world upside down - but we were so, so ready for a little bit of chaos. She rocks :-) xx

Friday 31 August 2012

Paralympics 2012

One big positive about our move to the countryside being delayed until after Baby Beans is here is that we have been in London town throughout the Olympics, and are now still in the capital while the Paralympics is on. I'll readily admit I was a huge sceptic about my beloved capital's ability to host such an event and I too easily believed the harbingers of doom, who warned our transport system would collapse and the whole experience would be a shambles.

On the contrary it has been a fantastic time to be a Londoner. As has been well reported, the atmosphere in the City has been extraordinary and there has been a real sense of belonging, kinship and goodwill around that I have particularly enjoyed. And yesterday the Boy and I got to sample a little bit of this for ourselves with tickets to explore the Olympic Park.

We had a brilliant time wandering - well, waddling! - around and soaking up the sights. The Park is huge which you don't get a feel for on the television, and some of the stadiums are really breathtaking in their design and size. It was great pootling about and we sat down by the river and watched quite a lot of the swimming on the big screen - with the rare treat of a big coffee for me, and a cider and some pork scratchings for the Boy (he is a one for simple pleasures!).

It was inspiring watching people who have battled pain and difficulty excel in their fields. I couldn't believe the ability we saw in the swimming pool, with one of the female British athletes smashing a world record just 15 months after having a baby. Suffice to say I don't think I'll be repeating that feat! But it did make me think a little about what the mind and body can achieve with a bit of focus and dedication.

So yesterday was the starter - on Monday evening we have the main course of an evening of athletics to look forward to, followed by a dessert in the aquatics centre on Thursday night watching the swimmers in person. Well - unless Baby Beans chooses either of those nights to make its entry into the world! We'll see...

Fully grown

So we've now passed the 37 weeks marker which means Baby Beans is fully developed and can make an appearance at any time. I don't think Bub is in any hurry to say hello to the world - I certainly don't get a sense that labour is imminent like I know some women do - but it's an exciting time as every morning I wake up and wonder to myself if this will be the day. If the baby is anything like as stubborn as it's Mum though, I suspect I'll be waiting the full 42 weeks!

We've got everything in the flat ready for our new arrival and I find myself pottering about the flat and picking up little sleepsuits, imagining baby in my arms at last. I think we're as ready as we ever will be - I know the Boy will be the most amazing Dad and neither of us can wait for this next chapter to begin. I'll try and keep you posted as it does!

Tuesday 28 August 2012

Lady of leisure

So somehow I've now been off a fortnight - and I've used up my remaining annual leave so today is the first day of my maternity leave. I'm just touching 37 weeks now (gulp) so Baby Beans is fully formed and could - theoretically - arrive any time now. Although I'm not getting any indications bub will be early, so I think we've a good few weeks before our crash course in parenthood begins - but we will see.

It amazes me how much more quickly the time has passed while I've been at home, and I couldn't really tell you exactly what I've been up to over the last few weeks! Everyone told me* I would be completely bored by now and would go stir crazy not having a routine. Well, our survey says 'uh-uh' - I am having the time of my life. Amongst the highlights, it's so nice to...

  • stay in bed a bit longer after the Boy has headed into work and stretch out like a starfish, my toes pointing out to each bottom corner of the duvet, releasing the tension in my muscles;
  • eat breakfast slowly in bed every day rather than gulp down my cereal on the kitchen sideboard while simultaneously putting my make-up on and packing my work bag;
  • peruse the paper with enough time to read every word of the stories that interest me - and with no pressure to look at the stories that don't;
  • watch the news as a layman - and not be thinking about whether I'll have to respond to the story on behalf of work when I get into the office;
  • put on whatever clothes feel comfortable over the bump, and not what is appropriate for work - or to stay in my jammies if that's what feels best;
  • pick up my book and read uninterrupted for an hour, or two - or three. Try it! Or to put on a CD (current favourite is a beautiful Debussy one) and listen to it from start to finish. Without. Doing. Anything. Else. At. The. Same. Time. Bliss...
  • potter about the flat and do the daily jobs that need doing when I feel like it and spend as long as I want doing them - no longer fitting them quickly around the hundreds of other work and home-related chores I've carried in my head for the last x amount of years, never being able to do anything properly;
  • spend time doing my make-up and hair properly, experimenting with different colours and hairstyles - I straightened my hair for the first time in months last week! Having the luxury of taking an hour to get ready to meet a friend for lunch or coffee (and that being the main event of my day) is blissful.
  • get everything ready for when the Boy comes in, so that after work he comes in and I can get him a drink and we can sit and talk properly about how his day was, how me and Baby Beans are doing and the current affairs issues of the day while we eat a home-cooked meal at the table - sometimes even using the Sunday best crockery! 
And I really could go on and on - and on. So, suffice to say I'm nowhere near bored yet - and I know this period is time limited and that soon enough once again I won't have time for any of these seemingly mundane activities. I think boredom and being bored is a very relative and individual state. I've had so little time in my own company that it is still a huge novelty and every day feels like an indulgence. Perhaps I would get tired of this routine given a little longer to enjoy it - but I'm not convinced, despite what 'everyone' says...

* 'Everyone' likes to tell you a LOT of things when you are pregnant - what the process is like, how everything is going to be, what is going to change and so on. For me, the best approach is to smile sweetly and nod, while in my head yell 'shut up shut up shut up, this is my individual experience, not yours' - so far it's working nicely ;-)

Bump update...

Thursday 16 August 2012

Me time...

...looks a lot like this! Think I could get used to not being in the office after all! Now, where to start...

Wednesday 15 August 2012

A rose by any other name

The annual Office for National Statistic baby names data came out on Monday - no big surprises there but I always enjoy a little peruse...

The names we like the best are pretty popular - all top 50 and some top 20 - but when you look at the figures in terms of actual numbers of babies, it is only about 0.1 per cent of babies that have the names we like so I don't think we'll stray from our favourites just yet!

Maternity leave!

And so it begins... for the first time in 12 (long!) years, I am not in work. I am 35 weeks pregnant and a right old fatty (see above!) so it's time to take a few weeks annual leave with my feet up, and then for maternity leave to start.

It all feels a little surreal. I've spent more than a decade as an independent, committed, hard-working career girl - perhaps not quite Carrie Bradshaw, but I do think there have been a few similarities to Sex and the City along the way!

It's been a real journey for me, from an insecure, paranoid, shy and awkward youth, to a happy, confident, competent and professional force. There have been more than a few tears along the way and I will admit that at times things were so bad I did wonder if I had the resilience to keep going - but when I look back now I am so proud of myself. I did it. I grew, matured, achieved and conquered. I proved I was stronger than I ever knew, and in the end I had more than enough stamina for the road. And what I accomplished will never change.

But - as they say in Monty Python - "Now for something completely different". I finished work on Friday and now 13 months lies ahead me - a different page, waiting to be filled in a different way, with a different life and different experiences. In a few weeks - God willing - we will go from being two to three. I will be a Mum. The Boy will be a Dad. And we will be a family.

I can't wait. It feels like the world's biggest Christmas Eve. I lie awake at night wondering about what the future holds, and thinking about my Baby with some of the purest joy and excitement I have ever felt - what bub will be like, what it will look like, what it will enjoy doing, what the Boy will be like as a Dad... it's just beyond exciting and almost too much for my brain to take it and digest.

But digest it I do - bring it on! I'm as ready as I'll ever be and I can't wait to board the roller coaster for the ride of our lives.

And until then - well, I intend to take some time for myself, something I rarely do. I am going to sleep in, read (I have a bucket list of books to read before Baby Beans arrives!), meet friends for lunch, potter about in the flat (no, we haven't moved yet - more on that another time!) and cook some nice dinners for the Boy and I. I'm going to enjoy doing my hair, putting on make-up and nice clothes and having a few dates with the Boy and making the most of our last few weeks as a duo.

And those days spent with him as a team of two have been the best of my life - let's hope we grow even stronger as a threesome.

And breathe...

The Boy and I had a bit of a fright a week or so ago and I have only just about recovered.

I've been monitoring Baby Beans's movements very closely lately - I know I am somewhat prone to paranoia anyway, and our previous disappointments have only exacerbated this tendency, and tragically the Boy's friends lost a baby just a few days before she was due last year which plays on my mind a lot - and I had a period of about 18 hours where I felt something was very different with Baby's routine.

To give this a bit of context, this came on the back of a slightly concerning week or so where I had been given extra monitoring to check all was well with Baby Beans, as my midwife had been concerned I was carrying too much amniotic fluid or might have gestational diabetes (as it turns out I have neither) so I suppose I was already carrying a little more anxiety than normal.

I tried not to worry too much or panic, but after a sleepless night we decided to go into hospital to check all was well. On the way there I was fighting back tears - I really don't like to think about how I would manage with losing this baby as well - and once at the hospital I felt very scared indeed.

The staff were, as always with Tommies and I can't praise the hospital highly enough, incredibly supportive and warm and I was quickly connected to a monitor.

There were a few frightening moments where the midwife couldn't locate Baby Beans's heartbeat and all that came up was a big red question mark - not very reassuring and at this point I couldn't keep the tears in, and I gripped the Boy's hand tightly. Fortunately, they found Baby Beans soon enough - and as sure as the law of the sod Baby then proceeded to move, and move, and move... to the point where as soon as the monitor could pick up the little one's trace, Baby moved straight away so it was lost again! That's my kid ;-)

The relief was palpable and for much of the day following that I was on a high. However, my emotions caught up with me by the end of the day and I had a bit of a collapse. It brought it all home how much this Baby means to me and the Boy, and how in love we are already with this life that we have created.

But I also realised that as a Mum there is only so much you can do to protect your child - I won't be able to keep my Baby safe all the time, and protect my little one from hurt and pain. I can endeavour to keep my baby warm and loved, but there will be limits. The only certainty in life is its uncertainty, and after this episode that scared me.

However, since then I'm pleased to report that Baby Beans has been wiggling and scuttling around as much as before, and hopefully the scares are behind us now and in five weeks - or thereabouts, not sure bub has a diary in there! - we will be the family that we long to be at last...

Tuesday 24 July 2012

Human nature

So you'll glean from my recent entries that the Boy and I are still to move house, despite having our purchase completed (bar the financial transaction) since the first weekend in June. Pencilled in exchange and completion dates have passed us by, and here we are still in London. Ho hum.

We have been seemingly unfortunate in our buyer - who drags her heels at every turn, and when chased reacts like a stubborn toddler and refuses to budge. The process has been stressful at times. It's not an ideal time to move when you're pregnant, and while I know lots of people do it, we definitely won't be doing it again. Things began well - if you recall we secured a buyer for a flat within a matter of weeks, and had an offer accepted on a house we love not long afterwards. Solicitors began speaking and initial paperwork was exchanged. It's therefore somewhat bizarre that four months (to the day) since we accepted the offer on our flat, nothing has actually happened, except for all involved having a few less pennies in their purses.

However it's not the delay that has been difficult - if we have to have Baby Beans in London then that's fine by me, because all that really matters to me is the Boy and my baby. And having a few extra weeks to enjoy our time in the big smoke has been really good - we've had quite a few nice extra dates together at the theatre, galleries and our favourite restaurants. No, it's been the 'unusual' personalities that we have encountered along the way that have made the Boy and I at times regret the position we are in. I think we are pretty standard, decent people. We are fair, honest, polite and treat people with respect - regardless of whether they deserve it. The same could be said for most of the people in our circle of connections, and because this is the case, I have tended to assume all people are similar.

Well sadly they are not. We have had the misfortune to encounter a very demanding and aggressive buyer, constantly in touch with our solicitors and asking the estate agents to ring the Boy almost daily for updates - and threatening to pull out of the transaction several times. The tone and manner of her language has been intimidating and threatening, putting a lot of extra pressure on us. At the same time, we have a buyer who is incredibly detached from the process. We've been pushing for completion dates for the last few weeks as I am now more than seven months pregnant and currently have no idea where I will be having this baby - the buyer's response is that she finds our requests for a timescale 'irritating' and they make her consider pulling out.

I am quite surprised and saddened by the behaviour of those either side of us in the chain. I do anticipate to be treated politely and professionally - and this has not been the case at all. As it is, the Boy and I have been left as a 'piggy in the middle' trying to placate both sides - and that's a position I really, really don't like.

Friday 20 July 2012

Heart-shaped box

At my 20-week scan back in May, the sonographer pointed out to me that I have a heart-shaped (or bicornuate) uterus. At the time I didn't think much of it - apart from it sounded quite sweet and I was rather touched by the image. I would even go as far as to say I felt quite special and unique as the sonographer mentioned it is quite uncommon.

Last night on the way to (yet another!) NCT class down in Kent, I was flicking absent-mindedly through a pregnancy magazine when I came across an interview with a woman with a bicornuate uterus - who because of this condition had been through a succession of miscarriages. As my eyes devoured the page I was interested to see that - while research remains a little inconclusive, as it seemingly does with so many areas of miscarriage and child birth - there is a far higher chance of miscarriage if you have a uterus that is this shape.

The reasons are unclear and there are quite a few different and contradictory theories. But at the moment that doesn't matter, because what this means to me is that perhaps there was a reason... Readers of the blog will know it has been hard for me to accept losing two of the three babies the Boy and I have made together, and while for the most part I believe and understand that it's just a twist of fate and a throw of the dice, it feels helpful to know that there might be a physical reason why these losses have occurred - and that I didn't do anything wrong.

I'm not going to dwell on this too much, as today feels like a good day - great NCT class last night where I felt much closer to the rest of the group, and started to believe I was making some friends and that I can be a good Mum - but it's food for thought when I want to come back to this.

Thursday 19 July 2012


So today I am 31 weeks pregnant. Tomorrow it will be just two months until our baby's estimated due date, although I know that means diddly squat in real terms! But in my head it's another little marker at any rate. I am so delighted to have made it this far... back in the early days it didn't seem to be possible I could be lucky enough to have a successful pregnacy, but (touch some wood, rub your lucky rabbit's foot and toss that salt over your shoulder please!) all appears to be going fairly well. I could gush on for paragraphs about how much I love my baby - but suffice to say, I am one very thankful lady that fate seems to be smiling on us this time. Considering I first fell pregnant back in February 2011, this baby seems to have been a long time coming - but I know many other folk have it much harder than us.

We had a bit of a scare earlier in the week - it seems I am carrying just slightly too much amniotic fluid. It's only marginally above normal levels, but this can be a cause for concern. I got whipped into St Thomas's Hospital for some (more) blood tests but everything came back normal - in fact, better than normal, my blood sugar and iron were both at excellent levels. And as Baby Beans is measuring normally and not on the large side, the health professionals don't seem especially worried that it is anything more serious. However, because it isn't exactly normal I do need monitoring, as it's quite likely if I continue to have this level of water that the baby will come early - partly due to the amount of water around baby making it more likely for my waters to break, and for the weight of the bump to become an issue so it's possible I may be induced (gulp). So it's back into Hospital next week for me for another scan and a chat with the consultant about what might happen. Of course it's entirely possible my levels will sort themselves out before then, and no decisions need to be made right now - but I am open to doing whatever is best and right for us, and now that Baby Beans is getting closer to the due date I know that there is a lot that can be done on the outside if an early delivery is what lies ahead.

Pics of me and the 31 week bump - excuse the tired eyes! Baby Beans doesn't like sleeping when I do...

Write on

I got my fourth letter of rejection from a publishing house yesterday for my novel. It's always disappointing to get a 'no', but I do expect it. I was a bit surprised as I'd actually forgotten I was strill awaiting a response from a firm - I checked the date of the letter and I'd sent the manuscript in back in February. I guess I have been somewhat distracted since then! However, the letter has spurred me into action as I have been woefully neglectful of my writing here. I rather think that the 'baby' that was my novel has been superceded by the real baby that I am nurturing inside me.

So - I still have two months (hopefully - it might be less, more on that another time!) until the baby should arrive so I have plenty of time to make some more submissions. So far, I have been very particular about which editorial agencies I have sent my work to, and I have only sent in one submission at a time. But no more. I've got my Writers and Artists Yearbook on my desk in front of me and I'm going to start working my way through the agencies with blanket applications - wish me luck!

In some ways it feels a pity my creative juices have somewhat dried up as I have ideas for three more novels. But I think there is only so much you can do at once - and at the moment work (12 days to go!), the baby and the inordinately long and boring process which is our move to Kent are zapping all my resources.

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Ed Sheeran on miscarriage

I've been thinking about the past as well as the future this week, so I suppose it's no surprise my eyes and ears are more open to reminders of loss. I stumbled across this beautiful song from Ed Sheeran - which touchingly describes his experience of a teenage miscarriage.

It's hard for me to listen to this song without shedding a tear or two, as I think he so accurately captures those feelings, hopes and fantasies you have when you first fall pregnant and how difficult it can be to accept that has all gone, often for no tangible reason.

I'm not a particular fan of Ed Sheeran but for me, there's a very honest and truthful resonance in this song, particularly from a young man, that I find refreshing. The music industry seems to detail so many of our life experiences, but I think miscarriage and loss of a child is still something of a taboo subject in music - although I'm hopeful this will begin to change now mega stars like Jay-Z are daring to bare their scars. Full marks Ed.

Monday 16 July 2012


I'm dusting the cobwebs off my computer as I sit down to write this. Forgive me once more for my absence. The Boy and I had a week away on the stunning Gower Coast in Wales, and since then have been increasingly pre-occupied with work, finalising our move of house, and getting ourselves prepared for the arrival of Baby Beans.

It's been quite an emotional time for me - just for a change! For the majority of the time I am beside myself, pinching myself that we are in this situation and in just a few months will become a family, and unable to believe my luck. However, there have been a few sadder days and the baby we lost in this pregnancy as well as the one we said goodbye to last year have been on my mind a little.

I suppose these losses never go away, and perhaps it's not surprising that as my emotions flutter around now more than ever, that some of the sadness we have felt in the past will be a part of that rich melting pot. And as we approach the end of the pregnancy - I am 31 weeks now and doing a good impression of a mammal belonging on display at Sea World, just call me Shamu! - I begin to feel a little concern once again that all will continue well for us. The thought of losing another baby remains far too much for me to bear.

But - I know it is incredibly unlikely that will happen and the longer the pregnancy progresses the more happy and confident I feel. We had a 4D scan of the Baby on Friday after work - scans are one of my least favourite things given the mixed blessings they've brought us in the past, but I'm so glad we did it because I really enjoyed it - hurrah, a breakthrough for me!

It was great to see Baby Beans progressing well - bang on average in terms of weight and measurements, and I am more than happy to be 'average' in anything baby-related! We saw the baby wiggle about, open its eyes, smile, frown when poked by the sonographer to encourage movement, drink some amniotic fluid (with a scarily long tongue!) and whack itself in the eyes several times with its toes. Hmm. Well - at least it's flexible! We think the baby has my nose and the Boy's mouth - and the Boy says Baby Beans has my frown! How rude! I guess we will see in time. A little picture below - suffice to say I am even more smitten than I was before, and it took me a long time to come back down to Earth! Weirdly, as we left the appointment we passed the actor Christopher Ecclestone pushing a little baby boy in a pushchair - every where we look it's babies at the moment!

And it has been a very baby-focused weekend. We had our first NCT classes on Saturday down in our new area in Kent. It all went very well - very middle class though, and the other couples were all white, married, and in their 30s and 40s. I think perhaps West Kent is not rich in diversity! That is something I will really miss about living in central London. But it was good to meet other couples in similar situations to us, and the tutor was lovely - very realistic and not to forceful with her opinions, which is something I had been worried about. Of the seven couples, our baby is the fifth due so we're quite near the end of the group which I feel pleased about - I find it useful to talk to people a few weeks ahead of me to get a bit more of an idea about what to expect, although I know every pregnancy is different.

I also had a private chat with the tutor after the class. We'd been focusing on contractions and labour, and my curiosity was arisen as to how my experience of delivering a 14 week old baby would compare to delivering one at full-term (as I hope will happen this time). I was encouraged to hear that the contractions I felt last time would be similar this time round, and perhaps not even as bad as my body has been through the process before. She suggested while I may not have dilated to 10cm last time, I certainly would have opened my womb some way, so she didn't forsee any reasons for that part of the labour to be much different to what I already know. So that brought some relief for me - although at this stage I'm not too concerned about the labour. I know what it is to go into hospital and deliver a baby and leave with empty arms, so - at present - all I care about is that Baby Beans gets here safely and can come home with us. We are so in love already.

The old adage about nesting is certainly coming into play for us as well. We are gearing up to move in early August so we can't do too much until that happens, but the Boy and I had fun this weekend choosing and ordering the remaining bits on our baby list. I think we've done well with a combination of new and second hand purchases, and I don't think we have gone overboard on anything - yet! Baby Beans definitely has some nice outfits (the Boy complains our baby has a better wardrobe than he does) but I have been quite restrained - for me! - so there will be plenty of time, and room, to spoil the baby with things when the time comes. I can't wait!

Saturday 23 June 2012

Delayed gratification

I was thinking a little bit yesterday about instant gratification and getting the things I want when I want. I don't know if it's that I'm just becoming older and more solvent, but lately I find myself in the position where I either already have most of the non-tangible things I want or where I can afford the majority of the material things I believe will make me happy. 

I've really invested in my most important relationships over the last few years and I now reap the benefits of that, and if I desire something - from a holiday to a new frock - I can look at my budget and generally find a way to indulge myself. It's most likely that said holiday would involve an Easyjet flight and a tiny, self-catering apartment, or said dress would be purchased from Primark or H and M, so it's not that I'm suddenly rolling in cash, but what it does mean is that if I am desperate for some kind of treat, there is normally a way I can get it.

In recent times everything around me seems to have become more accessible and faster - from fashion to holidays, food to music - and while I haven't had a credit card in years there seems to be a general social philosophy of 'buy now, pay later'. I think that has changed a little with the recession and as a society we have been a little more cautious after the bubble burst, but we are still as a nation in general very consumer-orientated creatures. I suppose in short my point is that I rarely have to wait long to get what I want now. That makes me sound very selfish, but I don't mean it like that - I am just reflecting on how lucky I am to be able to indulge a lot of my desires and whims.

But here's where pregnancy differs. Nothing about having a baby is instant. In fact, our experience has been quite the opposite. The Boy and I decided in September 2010 after five months of marriage that we were ready to increase our fold. I remember the day clearly. We'd been to the wedding of one of the boy's friends and enjoyed dressing up in our finery and knocking back the champagne and the wine, but coming back to an empty flat that day something changed for both of us, and we sat up into the small hours talking about our life now and how ready we both were for the next step. I came off the pill and we began trying for a family in the October - although for the first few months we were totally clueless about when we should be doing this (oh the irony of having spent half my life dreading I would accidentally fall pregnant, only to realise there were only a few days a month this could happen!) and I didn't fall pregnant until January 2011. And then of course as you know, that wasn't to be for us and we said our goodbyes to our first baby in the subsequent May.

Because our baby had just edged into the second trimester I had to go into hospital to deliver it, rather than have an operation to remove it, and as a result of being induced and having the contraction my body thought it had been through labour and it took months for my system to settle down again. Much to my dismay at the time we weren't really able to try again until August. But perhaps this was Mother Nature working with me, not against me, as I don't think we would have been emotionally ready for that challenge any earlier... who knows? And so we tried again for a few months - three I think, but I found the negative pregnancy tests too disappointing and I realised I was becoming quite angsty about the process which I didn't want - so we decided to calm down and just enjoy being together. And I guess as is often the way, that was when the wind changed direction and I fell pregnant on New Year's Eve during a short break away the Boy and I enjoyed together in Devon.

And I'm now 27 weeks pregnant and expecting our baby Beans in September this year - almost exactly two years to the day we made our decision to try to become a family, and it's already been 17 long months since my first positive pregnancy test. No, I think it's safe to say that there's not been much instant gratification there. Nine months is a long time to carry a heartbeat within you, and to feel it blossom, move and grow, but it is changing me as a result. In some ways I feel it's the making of me - already I can feel myself becoming more patient (believe me, patience has never been a quality I have possessed, anyone I know will tell you that!) and more calm. And each day that passes I love the Boy and my Bump more. With each kick I get from Baby Beans I feel so desperate to meet him or her - but I am also happy to smile to myself and wait. Because the best things come to those who wait, and for once, I'm happy to take my gratification delayed.

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Happy and you know it

Yet again it seems to have been too long since I last updated the blog - which I can only put down to the fact that there isn't much to grumble about in life at the moment! It's obvious that I am a far more prolific writer when I have issues on my mind or when I feel weighed down.

Life continues well for me, the Boy and Bump. The weather may have been irritable and our move may be progressing at a snail's pace (more of that another time), but every day I wake up with a big smile on my face and feel like the luckiest person alive. As my bump grows and I feel the baby move more and more, I'm finally beginning to realise that we will become a family soon and that I will have everything I want in life - a fantastic husband, a child, a loving family, great friends and a challenging and stimulating job. Every day that really excites me, and there's not a lot that can get me down just now.

My emotions are on a bit of a roller coaster, granted, and over the weekend I did have a mini wobble - can I do this? will I be a good mum? can we really afford a baby? will Ben and I ever get to be spontaneous or have quality time together again? - but I know this is all normal and I can't wait to find out the answers! Hopefully I'll be able to share them here.

A few friends have been asking me lately how I will cope with "just" being a mum for a year. I have to bite my tongue a little as I find this irritating - but then I remember my friends are not all to know how long the Boy and I have waited to be parents and that we began trying to have a baby back in October 2010. Because I am considered a career girl and perceived to be a high flyer amongst my circle, they don't think parenthood will be enough for me.

I was thinking about this on the way into work this morning - I can't express enough how ready I feel for this next chapter in our lives. Yes, I have lived a very busy, sociable and full life since I finished university and began working 12 years ago. On top of work I have attended creative writing classes, written my first novel, qualified as a counsellor and spent five and half years volunteering in the evenings for a bereavement charity as a therapist. For years there was rarely a party I didn't attend, and my diary was crammed with appointments with the Boy and friends for the theatre, cinema, galleries...

But for this very reason I feel I've totally done my time and lived my life, and am so ready for a new direction. I've danced all night in some of London's most famous clubs while high on life, and I've partied in squats and tower blocks in East London and watched the sun come up. I've stayed out all night and gone to work the next day. I've been to exhibitions and museums meeting people like Mario Testino at previews when I worked on a fashion trade magazine. In my current job I've campaigned on issues that have led to the law being changed to improve conditions for children and working people, and I've been to parliament and conversed with the likes of Gordon Brown, Nick Clegg, Ed Balls and Andy Burnham. I've even had a cup of tea with David Miliband and in front room in Borough.

I've been on boat trips on the Thames - night and day - and bus and walking tours around London. I've bought two homes here and lived in zone one for more than a decade - both alone and with others. I've picked up hippy bargains in Camden and Spitalfields, and (window!) shopped at Harrods and Libertys. I've walked for miles and miles around the capital and ridden the bus, night bus, tube and overground train at all hours of day and night. I've had spontaneous weekends away with friends, and lazy weekends barely moving from bed with the Boy. I've read enough books to fill a library and I've been to enough gigs to last a lifetime - from tiny events with up and coming new bands in dirty student unions and back rooms of pubs, to huge elaborate concerts at the likes of Wembley and the Emirates stadium.

I've enjoyed a plethora of day trips and weekend breaks to most towns of interest in England and across Europe. I've holidayed in France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, the USA, North Africa, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean - and I've been to so many of the Greek Islands that I struggle to remember their names now. I've drunk fine wine and flat beer, and I've eaten at some of the best restaurants in town - and happily munched many a chips in pitta bread weaving my way home from a bar somewhat intoxicated.

I've learned how to be on my own, how to be happy in my own skin and how to relish my independence - but be grateful and thankful for my dependence on the Boy and others who care for me. I understand how I work, what scars the past has left on me, and how those wounds can be fixed - and I've put time and effort into healing them so I can be a well-rounded person and the best possible version of myself I can.

In short, I've had a fairly charmed life and I've indulged most of my whims and fantasies. Don't get me wrong, I've worked blinking hard for everything I've wanted - working three jobs when I first moved to London - but I've certainly reaped the benefits. Suffice to say there aren't many experiences left on my bucket list - I've packed it in. At times I realise with maturity and hindsight I did pack too much in - and sometimes I lived my life a bit too close to the edge, I see that now. There weren't many stones left unturned in those hedonistic, selfish days of my twenties - and it is definitely for the best that those days are behind me!

But in honesty, there's not much I would change as it's got me where I am today. Which is extremely appreciative of the good things in my life, committed to putting effort and energy into the relationships that are important to me, being able to hold dear and value what is really important in life, and having confidence in myself and the courage of my convictions.

So - to answer my friends, who cock their heads and look at me with a puzzled expression, I don't think there could be a better time for me to be "just" a mum. I think with my life experience behind me and the unflinching support of the Boy I'm going to be quite a good one. Bring. It. On!