Accepting the Season I’m In

Accepting the Season I'm In // Amy Elizabeth

Life moves in seasons. There are the seasons for hustling, the seasons for hibernating, the seasons for celebration, the seasons for nurturing and everything in between. The key, it seems, is accepting the season that you’re in right now, and letting it fill your life fully. This is not something that comes naturally to me; I am always looking behind and ahead, wishing things on the horizon could be happening right now rather than at some unspecified time in the future. I want to be doing and having it all, even though I know that’s not possible, and lord knows I beat myself up about not achieving the impossible. 

The phrase ‘you can have it all, but not all at the same time’ has never been more apt. I may want to be nailing it on Instagram, improving my photography, blogging regularly, bossing it at my job, keeping up with house projects, having fun with friends and family, trying new recipes every week, working on my knitting, reading my whole TBR pile AND growing a human, but that just isn’t feasible, even for someone with as organised a to do list as myself. I can only do a couple of things at a time, and this season *has* to be about growing a human first and foremost (can’t get out of that one now…) and preparing for his arrival. This is a nesting season, if ever there was one; I am napping more than I ever have (even when I was a student with 8 hours of lectures a week…) and my thoughts are preoccupied with nursery themes and pre-baby tasks that need to be completed. Second to that is time spent with Paul, and getting things together at my job so I can leave in 5 weeks time (!) without everything imploding. So you can see why this blog has very much taken a backseat, despite all of my best intentions and ideas. 

Now more than ever, I think I need to accept that this is the season that I’m in. I may want to be in a different season, sometimes, when I see people nailing it creatively or gallivanting on exciting trips abroad, but that just isn’t the place that I’m in. I did choose to be here, after all, and it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that you need to take it easy when you’re lugging around a baby all day, every day. It is easy to focus on what you’re missing out on, rather than being fully present for what is happening right now (especially when what’s happening right now is mostly weird joint pains and exhaustion…). But there are joys to this season, even if they are slightly harder to find. Our house has never looked better (even if I do say so myself) and it is a joy to put together a little room for our little man. I realise that babies don’t give much thought to interior design, but it’s nice to actually *do* something for him, in the small way that we can, before he actually arrives. As we get ready to welcome a new member to the team, I feel like Paul and I are working better together than we ever have. Tuna even seems to be being a little bit nicer to me, but that could be wishful thinking… 

There will be time enough, if I am lucky, to work on creative projects, start my dream business (bookshop bar? boutique bed and breakfast? something not beginning with B?) or travel the world if I want to. I don’t need to do it all right this minute, as impatient as I am by nature. So some things are being struck off my to do list permanently (or as permanently as they can be…) and others are going on the back burner until I’ve got this baby thing down. The next season, of course, will be a season for mothering – learning how to navigate life with my little pal and trying to find a new normal so that there’s room for the other bits and pieces to start creeping back in. But after that? I guess only time will tell. 

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The Third Trimester: Thoughts on Growing a Person

The Third Trimester // Amy Elizabeth

When I first scheduled in to write this post, I thought that it would be relatively upbeat compared to my previous pregnancy updates. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I have not been enjoying pregnancy at all, but the second trimester hasn’t been nearly as bad as the first (just like everyone tells you). I know plenty of people who have had a rougher time of it than me, so I’m sure this will elicit some eye-rolls, but I have really struggled with the tiredness, the nausea (thankfully past now), the aches and pains and all of the associated nonsense that comes along with pregnancy. I know it’s supposed to be magical when the baby kicks, and sometimes it is, but mostly it just hurts. I thought I was getting on top of everything; we’d ordered the pram and the nursery furniture, which definitely made everything feel so exciting, but I definitely hit a wall last Monday. In the last week I’ve had more than one cry over the fact that everything I’m feeling is an almost permanent state for the next three months, and could even get worse. 

Maybe I’m hormonal, or maybe it just sucks to be pregnant (or maybe a bit of both). I hate that it hurts every time I go to get out of bed. I hate that I can’t stretch enough to put my towel on the hook of the back of the door. I hate that I get out of breath if I walk up the stairs too quickly. I hate having heartburn. I hate that walking into town to get some lunch now feels like an ordeal, complete with stitch-like pains across my bump. I hate that it’s almost impossible to get comfy, but that turning over or adjusting position when I’m sitting or lying down is a mission in itself. I hate having almost nothing to wear. And this baby still needs to get at least twice as big as he is now… I also feel a bit useless in my current state, and whilst it seems a nice idea to have people doing stuff for you, I’m not very good at sitting to the side and letting everyone else get on with things. I am simultaneously worried about leaving work and counting down the days; I’m worried they won’t cope without me, and maybe more worried that they will cope too well and won’t want me back. It’s all just a bit much. Slowing down is *hard* and I go from being grateful that I have time off at weekends to nap and recuperate to feeling guilty for not making the most of this time. 

Can I confess something to you, dear Internet? I also sometimes still have doubts about becoming a parent – even now, when there are less than 100 days to go until this little babe is with us. I catch myself wondering whether this whole baby thing was such a great idea, when we could have been swanning off to exotic locations, or visiting friends, or working on exciting projects, or any of those many other things that feel like they’re slipping away at a rate of knots. This isn’t a logical thought, since those things are not closed off to us in any way even when we become parents, but I can’t help but wonder if I’m *really* ready to saddle my whole life to a tiny being who relies on me (on us) for everything. Before I was pregnant, I was adamant that was what I wanted for my life, but as the reality draws closer, the doubts creep in. Don’t get me wrong, I already love this little baby and my daydreams are filled with all of the fun we’ll all have as a family, but just sometimes I am struck by the reality of this parenting lark and suddenly my carefree life where I’m only truly responsible for myself seems all that more appealing. Does that make me a bad mother already? I hope not as I’ve barely even started yet. 

I’m also getting to the point of dreading the whole ‘birth’ thing. For someone who really struggles when it comes to all things medical, I’ve been surprisingly calm about the actual birth part until now. Whether it’s blind delusion, or all of the very calming yoga classes I’ve been going to, I was sure I’d have it in hand. I wasn’t looking forward to it, exactly, but it felt entirely manageable the more I read about it. I had visions of being super calm and earth mother-ish at home, lighting candles and letting my body do all the work. The closer it gets, the more I feel like I was kidding myself that such a thing is even possible; although we’re in the process of planning a home birth, the stats suggest that most first time mothers end up in hospital regardless of their best laid plans. I know there’s really no way to know what’s going to happen, and for a control freak like me, that’s pretty scary – especially when it could end up with me in exactly the place I *least* want to spend any time. Whilst I’m pragmatic that medical intervention may be necessary, and I’m not going to resist that, I am still holding on to a little bit of hope that I might be able to avoid it and stay home. I am trying to surround myself with positive birth stories, rather than accidentally falling down comment threads with too many horrific details – whilst forewarned can sometimes mean forearmed, I’m not sure that’s the case for me right now. 

On the positive side (just so this doesn’t become a total sob-fest), I have been thinking lots about what our little bubba will be like. It’s exciting that he’s entirely a mystery to us right now, but soon we’ll know him better than we know almost anyone else on earth. I’m pretty sure he’ll be fair with blue eyes, if genetics are anything to go by (and I am reliably informed they are) but other than that? There’s just no way of telling. I’m impatient to meet him (and dress him in adorable little outfits), so I’m trying to focus on that feeling, rather than anything else – which is easier said than done when he’s giving me a good kicking… 

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Halfway There

So, here we are. Halfway there – or maybe even more, depending on when this little bubba decides to make its appearance. Or, should I say… his appearance! Yep, that’s right – we’re having a boy! Seeing his little face at the scan was honestly one of the most magical moments of my life – he was so cute, with a perfect little nose and he sucked his thumb basically the entire time. I already felt like a proud mama when the sonographer told us that he’d behaved perfectly so she could get all the measurements (even though I know he’s a foetus and doesn’t really ‘behave’ at all!), and it was a *huge* relief that everything seems to be going well and he’s right on track with his growth. 

You may remember that I’ve not been the biggest fan of pregnancy so far, but it’s true what they say that the second trimester is a million times better than the first. I actually feel like my normal self most of the time, and it’s kind of fun having a little bump out there. I’ve started to fit into proper maternity clothes now, and with legging-appropriate occasions the only ones on my calendar for as long as I can see, I’ve definitely embraced the comfort factor. It’s not all plain-sailing, of course; I’m still not able to do quite as much as I could pre-pregnancy, which is a little frustrating, and my skin has decided to fully rebel with a new, unsightly spot along my jawline every day (or so it feels). Also, I have a little confession… at first I was absolutely desperate to feel him moving around but now he’s really started to get his wriggle on, it’s making me feel a little, well, nauseous. I know it’s supposed to be another one of those magical moments, but the feeling of him rolling around in there is a lot like the feeling you have when you’ve got an upset stomach. Hopefully as he grows, he’ll have less space for the acrobatics and that will quell the nausea a little! I’m also signed up to an extra round of injections and blood tests because I’m O-Negative, so that’s something fun to look forward to. 

We’ve started to get ourselves a little bit organised, too. Hitting the halfway point has definitely given us a bit of a kick to start buying things and prepping everything for his arrival. We took advantage of an offer this weekend to buy a pram, and as I type this, Paul is out looking at a new car with his brother (a far better car-buying companion than me) as our beloved Mini is going back to the dealer at the end of the month and we need something with a little more boot space. Not even just for baby-related stuff – I love my car but a full week’s food shopping is a bit of a push to get in the back at the best of times. 

Now I’m just so curious about what he’ll be like. He’ll probably be blonde and blue-eyed, since we both were as babies, but will he be long and lanky like his Dad, or tiny like me? He’ll probably be talkative and stubborn, since we’re both those things now, but he could get any other combination of our traits – creative, practical, optimistic, funny, anxious, pragmatic, sociable… I just can’t wait to find out. Although there is the slight problem of the actual birth before we can get to that bit… The less said about that right now, the better, I think! 

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Maternity Wear Woes

Maternity Wear Woes // Amy Elizabeth

I don’t consider myself a particularly stylish or fashionable person. I like to look nice, sure, but I mostly stick to a uniform of relatively plain clothes for the majority of my life. My office has a (very) casual dress code, and I don’t often go to fancy places at the weekend (and when I do, I tend to wear the same couple of things on rotation). I own a lot of navy-striped tops and dresses, and you’ll rarely find me outside of jeans. My attempts to accessorise are cursory at best, stopping at my wedding rings and a gigantic blanket scarf most days. However, I’ve been pretty happy that way for the last few years. I know what suits me, I like to think I look relatively pulled together and I rarely have a panic when I’m getting dressed. That is, until the bump entered my life. 

Over the past couple of weeks, my bump has very much made itself known, meaning that almost all of my regular clothes are very much out of the picture. I spent years finding pairs of jeans that would fit me, only for all of my pairs to be regulated to the back of the cupboard with the hopes that I will see them again come Autumn. Suddenly, I feel awkward and uncomfortable in everything – except for maternity leggings, which are some kind of godsend (and I will probably continue to purchase them post-pregnancy, they’re just that comfy). 

The thing is, I want to look like myself at a time when that is almost impossible. I can’t help but feel my hatred of maternity clothes is tied up with a bit (read: a lot) of anxiety about my body changing outside of my control. My previous style worked for my petite-but-with-big-boobs body and now I have to find one for short-with-even-bigger-boobs-and-a-growing-stomach body instead. It’s hard enough to find clothes that fit my too-short-for-the-high-street legs at the best of time, but factor in a bump and a headache is inevitable. 

Part of the problem is not wanting to buy *too* much, in case it doesn’t work when I’m even more pregnant than I am now, and also because buying a full new wardrobe for a six month period is a little decadent when you’re also trying to save for a new arrival and the inevitable period of maternity leave, which is not known to be the most flush time in anyone’s life. 

So I’ve ‘invested’ in a couple of pairs of maternity jeans – one Topshop Leigh under-the-bump pair, which fit length-wise but become irretrievably baggy the longer I wear them and thus are currently being held up by safety pins, and one ASOS maternity over-the-bump pair, which stay up more easily but still don’t *quite* fit well enough to avoid bagginess. I’m hoping that as my bump grows, they’ll become a little bit more wearable and won’t need the constant hitching up to look vaguely smart and fitted. Between those and my trusty maternity leggings (the grey are better quality than the black, for some reason), and I’m pretty much covered for daywear, for now.

Of course, an extra woe is formal wear – particularly for a wedding that we attended this weekend. Most shops don’t stock their maternity ranges in store, so you’ve got to give yourself plenty of time for deliveries and returns, whilst also factoring in the fact that your bump might have grown and changed before the big day itself. Having never been pregnant before, I was a bit at a loss as to which shapes would suit me so I ended up ordering at least 5 or 6 different ASOS deliveries in the space of a couple of weeks (I’m quite well known to the DPD driver now…) to try and find something that worked. The problem is that so much of maternity wear is also covered in hideous florals or made of strange materials, so narrowing down the selection was a little tricky. I did eventually find this lovely dress in teal (which appears to be sold out now…), which I’m hoping can progress into daywear as Spring comes around! I also picked up a black jumpsuit, which I didn’t think was wedding appropriate but is destined for a few date nights and meetings in the near future. 

I’m hoping that as the weather warms up, I can embrace my dreams of becoming an earth-mama style pregnant lady in an ever-changing series of maxi dresses (which, in my fantasy never drag inches along the ground because of those aforementioned short legs…) and maybe a pair of dungarees… Either way, I suspect my maternity woes are not quite over yet! 

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On Being Pregnant

Being pregnant is the singularly weirdest experience of my life. How could it not be? There’s a tiny person growing *inside* me. However natural that is, it’s also incredibly trippy. I know, of course, that I am just one in an incredibly long line in women to go through pregnancy but, despite having read all the blogs, questioned all my friends and done all my research, it still feels like such an individual and strange experience. 

Before I found out I was pregnant, I was desperate for children. Or, it certainly felt that way. Trying for a baby was far more emotional than I expected; the sense of failure and disappointment each time it ‘didn’t work’ was crushing, however much I tried to stay light and breezy about it. Luckily for us, it was a relatively short process (shorter than I expected) but my heart goes out a million times over to those who are not so lucky – I don’t know how people go on that journey for years without breaking into tiny pieces. Partly, I think, my need for control was what was making it more difficult; you have no say in what your body does, and there’s no way of knowing what will happen. I suppose it prepares you for having a child, when the idea of control is laughable, at best. 

However, the moment that little window on the test said ‘Pregnant’, it was like a switch was flipped and I wasn’t so sure, after all. Of course, by that point, it was too late to change my mind, but the feeling of finding out was so overwhelming that I just burst into tears. I don’t think even now that I could pinpoint exactly what emotions I was feeling but it was a mix of elation at getting exactly what I want, and fear that I had made a terrible mistake. Be careful what you wish for, and all that. The first few weeks were definitely filled with more of the latter; I was incredibly anxious that it would all go wrong, whilst at the same time equally anxious about what would happen if it all went right. There’s no denying that parenthood, in whatever form it comes to you, changes your life beyond recognition, and certainly does a number on your body, too. I spent a lot of time worrying and crying, which is not really what I pictured for my first few weeks of pregnancy. 

As I got used to the idea and started to allow myself to get a little bit excited, that definitely calmed down. However, that was when my pregnancy symptoms hit; and, oh boy, did they hit. So many women I know talk about how they loved (or love) being pregnant, but I am definitely not getting that feeling. As I mentioned last week, it’s definitely been a rollercoaster ride of experiences that have made me feel *very* sorry for myself. Suffice to say, I am not great in the face of adversity. I’ve just not felt like myself for weeks; being exhausted and nauseous all the time has stopped me from doing a lot of the things that I enjoy, like blogging and baking, and I’ve gone from being an ‘up and at ’em’ sort of girl to a ‘let me just take a nap’ one. And there’s nothing wrong with being the latter, but it’s just not *me*, you know?

I’ve also had to face my greatest fear – blood tests. I know that no one exactly loves them, but I have been phobic of them pretty much all my life. I’ve avoided them thus far (thankfully due to good health) but that wasn’t an option. I had a small meltdown in the midwife’s office and eventually managed my first one on the third attempt, thanks to some very wonderful nurses at Chapel Allerton Hospital who I want to shower with flowers and chocolates. 

Thankfully (for me, and also for you, as this is turning into quite the essay…), I feel like I’ve turned a corner over the past week or so. A little bit of feeling faint and a sore back are still plaguing me, but it’s infinitely preferable to eating toast for every meal and napping as soon as I get in from work every day. Now that we’re into the second trimester, it also feels okay to get even more excited – to plan a nursery and think about names and coo over tiny baby clothes. The mantra I’ve been working with until now has been ‘if you’re going through hell, keep going’ but now I think I’m ready to switch to ‘it will all be worth it’. 

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When 2 Become 3…

So, the secret is finally out! Not that we’ve been able to keep it much of a secret at all… not drinking over Christmas and New Year definitely tips people off, and I’m a terrible liar at the best of times. We’re very excited (and also a little bit terrified) to announce that our first baby is due in July 2017. 

I should probably have titled this post when 3 become 4, because technically we already have an extra member of our family in Tuna but I don’t think she’ll mind on this occasion. In fact, she’s been indifferent to the whole thing (like she is about most things, really…). 

I found out pretty early on, so despite only being 14 weeks along I really feel like I’ve already been pregnant for years but we’re only just getting to the good bit. That is, the bit where we can actually buy stuff for a nursery and think about names. I’ve got some thoughts to share about being pregnant more generally next week, but suffice to say it’s not been my favourite experience so far. The nausea! The exhaustion! The blood tests! The constant worry! In fact, you might even have guessed that something was up by my inability to blog for about three months straight. I’m hoping I’m out of the woods with some of that stuff now, although I’m just about to tackle the fun of maternity dressing now that I actually have a tiny bump (!). It’s all very surreal, let me tell you. 

So, if everything goes to plan, a tiny Paul or Amy (or, more likely, some mix of the two) is on their way this summer. It’s all about to get a little crazy around here… 

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