Introducing…

IMG_0456.JPG…our very snugglable daughter, Mabel!

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I’m sorry for my lack of posts recently. I have been away doing more important things, namely, having a baby! Given that we didn’t know the gender, I thought I’d let the announcement be the first thing I shared on here. 🙂 If you follow me on Instagram, you may already know about her, but I’ve only just managed to take a long enough break from replying to congratulatory emails to stop by here.

Someday I may share her full birth story, but for now I’ll just summarize. She was 5 days overdue, and was induced due to concerns over the amount of amniotic fluid left; it appears I’d been leaking it for some time without realizing it, which put me at risk of an infection. In the end I had to have an emergency C-section, but I was far too happy to finally meet Mabel to be upset about it. I was more unhappy about being kept in hospital for four days after her birth; however, it was necessary as I had lost more than double the usual amount of blood during the birth, and the doctors thought I might need a blood transfusion. Happily, I was sent home with just iron tablets in the end. Luckily she was healthy from the beginning.

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Anyway, that’s enough about me. Here are some fun facts about Mabel in her early days:

  • Her full name is Mabel Anneth Wren. We agreed that she looked like a Mabel, but couldn’t decide between our two choices for a middle name, which is how she ended up with two. Anneth is the name of a house we saw in Cornwall, but apparently it is related to the name Hannah.
  • Her head is the softest thing I’ve ever felt! I adore cashmere because it’s so deliciously snuggly, but Mabel’s head is definitely twice as soft.
  • She gets the hiccups a lot! It’s kind of adorable, though it must be a pain for her.
  • Her first night, she fed from 12:30-5; I kept calling the midwives in tears as I was just so exhausted.
  • She’s generally a sound sleeper. A constant source of amusement is when there’s a loud noise in another room; she jumps, wriggles her head, and carries on sleeping. I am not counting on this lasting, so I’m going to enjoy it while it does!
  • She hates having her temperature taken – she cried more when it was happening than when she had her heel pricked for testing her glucose levels.
  • I’ve already read her her first book: Animal Actions by Julia Donaldson.
  • My favorite thing is watching R pick her up when she wakes. Every time, he gives a little sigh of satisfaction and rests his chin on her head. It just makes me melt.

 

The final trimester: the good bits

IMG_0267.JPGI’ve already shared the worries that have been keeping me awake recently. Writing them down and hearing that I wasn’t alone has helped a lot. I am definitely feeling more relaxed (apart from when I wake up in the night thinking, “Holy crap, any day now I will be responsible for AN ENTIRE HUMAN BEING!!”). Those fears won’t go away, but I do think I’m managing them a bit better now.

Anyway, there are plenty of positives happening now, too. Among them are:

  • Maternity leave

I intended to start leave at 36 weeks, but circumstances meant I ended up leaving at the end of 35 weeks instead. I feel lucky that I had the option to go so early! Time at home has helped me relax; the travelling for the last few weeks of work was really stressful. I am missing riding my bike, but overall being in charge of my own schedule, and being able to take a nap on the (many) days when I haven’t been able to sleep through the night is amazing. I have plenty to do, but I don’t feel like I have to do things at a certain time, which makes them all more fun. I’ve also been making sure to do fun treats and my favorite things as well as the getting-ready-for-baby stuff. I am missing work, especially my colleagues, a little, but overall I’m so glad I started when I did. I may change my mind if the baby’s overdue, though…

  • The acceptability of doing nothing at all

Exhaustion finally hit me at around 37 weeks, I think. Everything suddenly felt much harder, and my back now hurts if I do too much standing/walking. I’m grateful this didn’t start earlier, though! The beauty of it happening now is that it doesn’t matter, because (as this is my first child) people don’t really expect me to do anything. I am massive and must look really uncomfortable, and people keep telling me to stop and have a rest. Earlier in the pregnancy I would have found this irritating, but now I am so grateful when people offer to do things for me. It is probably the only time in my life when it’s totally expected and okay to say I did nothing during the day. It’s not something I’d like to continue forever, but it does make a nice change for a little while.

  • The bump

Did I mention I’m massive? Well, I am. And the truth is that I really don’t care. In fact, I love my bump. I find it really comforting. Because the baby’s running out of room, I can feel the movements more clearly, too, which is wonderful, except when it kicks me in the ribs. And watching it move is just the coolest thing! I have no belly button now, and in the last week I have finally had stretch marks appear around it (so far they’ve only been on my thighs and, weirdly, left boob), so I know it is still growing, though that hardly seems possible anymore! It hadn’t dropped as of my midwife appointment on Wednesday, but leaning forward is so uncomfortable in my pelvis that I wonder if it’s gone a bit further down.

Oh, and it’s quite cool that I can rest a cup of tea on it even when I’m sitting up straight. Crazy.

  • The anticipation

This baby could literally arrive any day, and I am so excited to meet it. While I’m not naive enough to assume it will arrive early, I have been having very long & frequent Braxton Hicks for well over a week, so I know my body is preparing (even if perhaps the baby isn’t yet!). I’m glad we’ve waited to find out if it’s a boy or a girl. However, at this point I really can’t wait to find out! It will be so good to know who is joining our family in a more concrete way, and find the right name for it.

  • Lack of fear about the birth

No, I’m not one of those pregnant women who is looking forward to birth – though I think it’s amazing if you are one of them! But at the same time, I am not afraid of it or anxious about it. I think this is linked to the above point about anticipation. I’m so much looking forward to meeting our little one that I don’t much care how it arrives, as long as it’s safe. This attitude has come as a bit of a surprise, to be honest, but I do think it’s a good one to take. I shouldn’t be taken by surprise when it hurts, but equally I don’t anticipate that will be the overriding sensation or memory I have. I’ve tried to take the pregnancy one day at a time, facing what arises when it arises rather than trying to anticipate or plan, and that’s what I’m hoping will happen with the birth as well. I had planned to listen to some hypnobirthing CDs, but in the end never got around to it. Hopefully my usual instinct to stay calm (or at least appear calm) under pressure will kick in, ha! I feel much more naive after writing all that down.

Overall, these positives far outweigh the worries. Let the countdown continue!

FO: vintage bedroom curtains

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Way back in August 2016, I included some beautiful 1960s barkcloth in a 5 happy things post. I came across it in a shop called Domestic Science. It was expensive at £20 per meter, but in the end I couldn’t resist. The plan was to make us a pair of bedroom curtains.

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The reality was that to comfortably make a pair of curtains I needed 6 meters, and there were only just over 5 meters of fabric left on the bolt. Therefore, cutting them was nervewracking & I wasn’t brave enough to do it until this summer. Mismeasuring could be disastrous as there was no possible way of getting more fabric if I cut it wrong.

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Pippa didn’t mind, as it seemed to be her favorite cushion for a while. She was very keen to be involved with making it. She supervised when I finally took the plunge and cut the fabric. I cut it into 3 lengths, then sewed the 3 panels together, then cut them in half to create the two panels. She also oversaw this. (Yes, my house was a disaster. No apologies; sometimes that’s what real life looks like.)

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I ordered thermal curtain lining online, and followed a few different online tutorials for sewing lined curtains. This one was particularly clear to me.

The pattern matching in the final product isn’t amazing, but overall it isn’t that noticeable at first. It was a necessity given the scarcity of fabric. Besides, as it’s in our bedroom I don’t think it really matters very much.  We are loving having something cheerful to wake up to. It’s also made a huge difference to how the room feels – it finally feels a little more like home.

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Fear and worrying in the last trimester

*Fair warning – this is a pretty serious post. I will post a happy entry about the 3rd trimester soon. But I think it’s important to acknowledge these feelings, too.*

P1090733I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ve been lucky to have a straightforward pregnancy. Physically, after the first trimester, I haven’t had real issues – no pelvic girdle pain or feelings of imbalance or even heartburn. Now, in the last trimester, some of those complaints are coming back – I can’t sleep, I’m a bit nauseous most days again, I’m getting lightheaded, my lower back is achy, and my hips ache when I’ve been for long walks.

And yet I still found myself in hospital on Tuesday, getting a scan (as I understand it, normally you don’t get a scan after 20 weeks in the UK unless there’s something to be concerned about). Everything’s absolutely fine – the baby & I are both healthy and well. We were there because apparently also standard to get a scan when your baby has been monitored for reduced fetal movement twice.

There it is: I am one of those paranoid pregnant women. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, for the past couple of months I have been absolutely terrified that when it’s all over, I will not end up taking a baby home with me. It’s particularly strange to feel like this when I’ve had so many people tell me I seem really calm about the pregnancy. And I guess I am in a lot of ways, but there are a couple of key reasons for this. One is that I feel very fatalistic about it; what will be will be, and there’s little I can do to change it. The other is that when I’m nervous, I’m really aware of how I come across to others, and work hard to seem level-headed. The truth is that I won’t allow myself to get excited. At this point, I am starting to get excited – I can’t wait to meet our little one! But every time I start to feel really excited, I make myself take a step back and remind myself that there are no guarantees. I wonder if this is normal, or if I am slightly defective. I guess it’s hard to be optimistic when you’ve already had a miscarriage. The truth is that we were so excited about that first pregnancy; we’d wanted it for some time and it was like a little marvel just for us. Having that taken away was a shock, and while I know that from a physical perspective it could’ve been much worse, we were so heavily emotionally invested, even at 8-10 weeks (contrary to what you hear, miscarriage isn’t necessarily something that happens all at once) it was devastating. So how will we cope if something happens now, at 36+ weeks? I can’t bear to think about it, yet it seems I can think about little else these days. This may be part of the reason I’m struggling to actually slow down despite being on maternity leave; I do want to relax, but being active  keeps me distracted. And it is harder and harder not to think about the miscarriage; I can’t help thinking about the fact that I should have been experiencing this trimester all the way back in February, and feeling sad about the fact that it feels like my opportunity to be excited has been stolen.

Anyway, all this means that I pay a lot of attention to the baby’s movements. Feeling it move is one of my favorite things about being pregnant. It’s even weirder when you can suddenly see the bump move, but I think it’s so cool! Unfortunately, my anterior placenta means that the movements are often muffled. Plus, I think our baby is just quiet in general. And this feeds the paranoia! It’s so hard to know whether the movements are actually reduced or it’s just behind my placenta, or whether it’s just napping more than usual. But twice I have been concerned enough to call the hospital. I am so grateful for the care the NHS have provided – not once have the midwives or doctors made me feel silly or paranoid. They’ve all been brilliant and assured me that I’ve done the right thing to call/come in. I couldn’t be more grateful for this, as it has been so reassuring & made me feel a lot less neurotic.

And if you are also pregnant, I would also encourage you to do the same – the midwives really do mean it when they say they want to see you if you are worried. Stillbirth isn’t hugely common & isn’t likely to happen to me, but it’s also not that unusual; in 2015, 1 in 227 births was a stillbirth, or around 9 per day. This means that most people won’t be affected, but if you are, obviously it would be hugely devastating. It is so, so much better to be cautious and use the healthcare that is available to you. This is not to make you as paranoid as me, but I think it is important to be aware of this. I don’t think I’ve had any conversations about this with pregnant friends and it has made me feel a little lonely, to be honest.

To get support around stillbirth or neonatal loss, do contact the charity SANDS. Tommy’s is another great organisation that funds research into baby loss. And more information on baby movement is available from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

 

 

Work in progress: baby blanket update

The center of the baby blanket is done! As you know, I’ve used some special yarn: hand-dyed and handspun in Devon. This means there’s not much of it, though, so I wasn’t able to make an entire blanket out of it. P1090723

But isn’t what I have so far pretty? I used the Indian Cross Stitch. It seems like the ideal solution to wanting some openness and yet having yarn that doesn’t really suit a lace pattern (I tried several, and none looked right).

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And I love the colors so much! They are soft & perfect for a baby without being wishy washy.

The next step is to block this, and ideally condition it to make the wool even softer. Does anyone have recommendations for something to soften it?

Now the big challenge is picking out a border. I’ll be knitting it in an undyed yarn, and it should be a really nice contrast. The hard part is picking out the pattern! I borrowed a book of edgings from work and have narrowed it down to about 6 choices, but I’m really struggling now. I really wanted to ask your opinions, but I had to return it on my last day (I’m on maternity leave now!!) and forgot to take pictures – though I did remember to photocopy the instructions, never fear. I couldn’t find pictures of most of them online. I guess I will just have to cope with the stress of decision-making this time, and you will have to be surprised. Though if you do have any favorite stitch patterns, I’d love to hear them.

25 hours in York

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At the end of August, R and I decided to take a last minute trip to York. We’d booked one earlier in the month, but unfortunately had to cancel due to a family emergency. Fortunately all went smoothly this time. This was our last trip away before the baby arrives, and I’m so glad we decided to go, even if it was a shorter visit than we would have liked.

We managed to fit in some of the classic sights – the Shambles & Betty’s. I tried a fat rascal, but unfortunately didn’t like it as I really don’t like dried fruit.

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We had a delicious meal in the evening & I can highly recommend Source if you visit. The service was brilliant. They also had the best pickles I’ve had for ages! I liked them so much that I hoped they didn’t make them in house so I could buy some (they do make them in house, unfortunately for me). P1090629

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The next morning, we had an incredible breakfast. I had pancakes with perfectly cooked bacon, while R had a black pudding stack – it was basically a full English, though. The black pudding was SO GOOD. I regretted not having some as well. I am grateful Amanda from Rhyme & Ribbons had mentioned Brew & Brownie on her blog, or we might have ended up elsewhere.

I then headed to the Minster while R wandered around some more bookshops. Don’t worry, I went to lots of bookshops, too. Books were, unsurprisingly, our main purchases in York. There are some brilliant shops in York!

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This gravestone did make me cry.

I loved that the city was full of color. I spotted lots of bunting and even some yarnbombing in the Micklethwaite area, where our hotel was. I also loved the views from the city walls.

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Overall, I loved York! Our train arrived at 1:30 one day and left at 2:30 the next, so obviously I really didn’t get to see much of it. However, we have already decided we will have to go back & see some more of Yorkshire (I am desperate to visit Brontë country).

What should we do next time we visit?

Down at the plot: July/August/September

This is likely to be my last allotment post of the year; there’s still more to be done, but frankly I’m not capable of any of it. Every now & then I might go down to see how it’s looking, and I do have plans to meet up with the friends I’m sharing with so we can talk about what will happen next year. But I have to say that I’m really disappointed with myself for not contributing more this year. I keep trying to tell myself it’s not my fault; my body’s busy making a baby, and digging, etc are probably not the most important things to be using my energy on. Nonetheless, I have a non-stop guilt complex and feel bad for making my friends do so much.

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Our courgettes and patty pan squash did really well; we’ve had so many! My cauliflower, alas, got demolished. My friend has since cleared this properly and planted some broccoli.

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The Victoria plum tree was incredibly productive this year. This is from our old plot; I am going to miss this tree so much next summer!

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We finally got around to harvesting our potatoes. The Kestrels did really well as always, but unfortunately the Rockets didn’t turn out so well. There were lots of worms and quite a few rotted. To be fair, this may be because we left them in about 6 weeks longer than we really should have.

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I spotted this mint in our new plot; I think it might be apple mint. It’s definitely not peppermint or spearmint, but it smells amazing whatever it is!

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Finally, at home, the tomatoes finally came around. I had quite a few yellow tomatoes, but the others weren’t great. I think I might give up on growing red tomatoes after this year; they never seem to do as well.