The best bits about pregnancy

16 week scan - a bonus from the scary pregnancy moment!

Okay, so I’ve realised I’ve sounded a bit negative about pregnancy lately. I need to switch that up, because there are things I am enjoying! So, here are my best bits about pregnancy!

Feeling the baby move.

This is a lot of people’s number one, I suppose.

We have an incredibly active baby, it turns out. We first felt movement at about 16 weeks, and since then, there’s barely been an hour where I’ve not had at least one thump or roll!

I feel like we’re getting to know a bit of the personality in there, and that feels rather special to me. Baby has definite preferences (curry and pizza get excitable kicks, Ariana Grande is an absolute favourite, and woe betide me if I sit too close to my desk at work!) and I love getting to find out what they are.

It took me a while to start to bond with the baby. I feel like my husband bonded right from the start, but for me, it only really happened later on. That was quite upsetting for me, to be honest. I thought I’d be this amazing earth mother sort who had a magical connection to the baby from day one, and I wasn’t, but I feel like we’re very close now.

I dreamt the other night that something had gone wrong and I was so upset – it stayed with me all day.  At nearly 32 weeks, I think I can say there’s a definite bond now. I don’t just want “a baby” – I want this baby, this little being whom I love already.

It feels like there’s a little bubble that me and the baby are in. Everyone else is outside – my husband and my parents are obviously really close as well, but everyone else is much further away. I love this feeling.

I love my body.

It turns out that my body is pretty good at being pregnant. Even though I’ve felt a bit rotten, I’ve had it much easier than a lot of women, I know.

(I realise it’s unwise to say this at not even 32 weeks. I know there is time for things to go wrong. People tell me this often enough!)

Despite months of nausea, the only time I actually vomited was when I had a UTI and was given some massive amoxicillin capsules – turns out pregnancy has rendered me incapable of swallowing pills.

I know my diet hasn’t been fantastic (food aversions are very, very real), but the baby and my own body don’t appear to have suffered. My blood and urine tests come back well, and baby is growing happily on track. Sometimes I just think to myself, how amazing that I can do this. I can grow a human. That has to be one of the best bits about pregnancy.

One of the best bits about pregnancyAlso, I absolutely love my figure right now. Like a lot of women, I’ve had my body issues. But right now, I love looking down and seeing the curve of my belly, love seeing how it strains against shirts. I feel very attractive.

Maternity clothes are so comfortable!

Seriously, everything has elastic. Bras aren’t underwired. How am I ever going to be able to go back to wearing my regular clothes? I am so comfortable right now.

I have an excuse to slow down.

Work has been a bit stressful over the past few weeks (months, years, it’s all the same!). In recent weeks, I’m slowing down. That feels good.

It feels good to cut myself some slack at home, as well. I can sit and read a book or write a blog post and not feel guilty about it. Playing with the rabbits is valuable bonding time.

The rabbits are excited!

A lot of people don’t believe me on this one. But seriously, it’s true. Barbara even blogged about how excited she is!

What are your best bits about pregnancy?

 

“Don’t have an only child!”

I read this earlier and it got me thinking.

I’m an only child. My husband is one of three.

I have to admit, I always thought I’d have a big family. At least three or four children. Well, going back a longer way, I thought about more like six, seven, eight. Then we started to talk about actual children, and think about finances.

Financially, we do okay. We live in a town with low house prices and a fairly low cost of living. We only earn average salaries, but due to the town we moved to, we have enough for a nice life, really. I like the idea of being able to give this baby a lot of opportunities. If we only have one, we can give a lot more. I know that I got a lot of support from my parents, and I’m so grateful to them; it’s set us up well.

When we got married, we bought a four-bedroom house for our imaginary children. We filled one bedroom with ourselves. One became a study. Three rabbits moved into the third. That leaves one for our baby. (As an only child, I have a horror of sharing a room. It’s bad enough I have to share with my husband!)

Me as a very small only child

Being an only child never did me any harm!

But, right now, the main reason for considering stopping at one is pregnancy.

Physically, pregnancy has been great for me. Yes, I had four horrific months of nausea and losing weight. Okay, right now baby is sitting on my sciatic nerve and my whole bottom and leg are numb and painfully tingly. I admit I’m sort of waddling and in pain a fair amount at nearly 32 weeks over here. But in general, my body seems to know what it’s doing over here. My blood pressure is always great, my blood and urine tests come back nicely, baby’s growth seems to be on track despite my shocking diet, etc.

But pregnancy has been emotionally more difficult than I expected. I’ve written about it before. I’m not myself when I’m pregnant, it turns out. I’m this sad, irritable, tired, weepy lady. I don’t like her very much. Then again, I don’t like anything right now. I am constantly angry.

It feels like I’m not so good at my job, my marriage or keeping my home going when I’m pregnant. Right now, that’s just an annoying inconvenience, but when I already have a child, I feel like it wouldn’t be fair on them to put them through what I’m like when I’m pregnant. And it wouldn’t be fair on me.

So maybe I’m letting go of the dream of having more than one baby. Maybe we’ll have a wonderful, lovely, beautiful only child.

It’s sad to say goodbye to the dream, but then again, there are lots of dreams that I’ve not been able to fulfill.

I love taking ballet class but I’ll never be a professional dancer, for example. But that doesn’t mean my experience of taking class isn’t wonderful in its own right. I can love pliés as much as any other dancer, and I can love my one baby as much as any mother who has more than one loves them all.

So I am making my peace with the idea that this one may be an only child. (I’m not saying never, because of course the best way to make God laugh is to tell him your plans!) But what I’m not thrilled about is the sheer amount of people who are already asking me “When are you having the next one?” No. I haven’t even had the first yet!

If I admit that this may be our only, they often follow up with, “Oh, don’t have an only child! They’re so spoilt/they find it hard to make friends/you’ll just love the first so much you’ll want to give it a sibling!” So then I get to out myself as being an only child. No, I don’t think I’m spoilt. I’m average at making friends. My parents love me an awful lot and I certainly don’t object that they never “gave me” a sibling. I had a great childhood.

And unless you want me to unload all of my pregnancy anger on you, it might be a good idea to stop asking!

 

Rabbit baby preparations #barbarablogs

Barbara Rabbit
Hello all, it’s Barbara Rabbit here again! Would you believe it, my mum said that as my last blog was so popular, she’s going to let me do this as a regular thing! #barbarablogs

We have some exciting news – there is going to be a baby in the house. Not a rabbit baby (we call them kittens), but a human one. It will be joining us in November.

Does this look like a rabbit baby to you?

I’m obviously not gestating it. My human mum is. If I were doing the gestating, I’d grow more than one at a time (far more efficient) and I’d have been done long ago – this non rabbit baby has been growing for months!

This is incredibly exciting news for me in particular. Both of my brothers are strongly bonded with one of the existing humans. Ned with our mum and Gingee with our dad. I like both humans, but not as much as the boys seem to. So I have decided that this new human is mine!

Ned and Gingee, being boys, don’t really know too much about how new rabbits are made, and they’ve had lots of questions for me. If you’re a fellow rabbit feeling a bit daunted about the arrival of a new human baby, I’m here to share my advice with you as well!

Rabbit baby vs human baby – some frequently asked questions

How long do humans take to grow their babies?

I’m not sure, but it seems to be taking forever! I first became aware that something was going on in about March. I could have had about five litters in that time! (If I weren’t spayed, that is, and if the humans had given me intact males to live with.)

How many human babies are born at once?

It usually seems to be just the one! I know, how inefficient! Apparently my human dad’s grandmother had a litter of two once, which is still on the small side in my mind, but it sounds like my humans are just planning on one at a time.

Why is my human mum not nesting properly?

Mine struggles. I judge her nesting skills a lot, actually. I don’t think she knows how to do this. She’s not put out any extra hay or anything. I haven’t seen her pull any of her hair out, either.

Some tips on how to encourage your human to nest properly:

  • If she’s not putting any hay out, take her some. Lay it on the floor of her bedroom or wherever you think she’ll want her nest to be. If she doesn’t use it to nest with, all rabbits know that eating hay is also really important during pregnancy. Mine wasn’t particularly appreciative of my bringing her the hay, but it was always gone by the time I went back in, so she must have been eating it.
  • Small dark spaces are good to give birth in. Does she go into any of her own free will? If not, try to lead her into some – under the bed, perhaps. Go in there and she’ll eventually have to try and follow you!
  • If it’s getting to the point that you think the baby will be born soon and she’s still not doing anything, take it up a notch. Lately, I’ve decided I have to make it clear just exactly what she should do, so I’m treating Ned as my baby. He’s small enough. I’ve started pulling some of my fur out and making it into a nest for him in his house. She’s noticed and commented on it, so I hope that encourages her to do the same!

How do I best communicate with the human baby?

Before it’s born, a human baby is much the same as a rabbit baby. You can sometimes see and feel it moving around. I try and give it a nuzzle or a headbutt at this point to encourage bonding.

I hear human babies are very loud and smell bad. Is this true?

I think so, unfortunately. Ned is the luckiest in this respect, as he’s deaf. Gingee and I will suffer more. The smell can’t be too bad though – I live with two boys, remember. I’m sure smells won’t be too much of an adjustment. (Gingee would like to say that I smell worse than he does. I disagree. Impertinent boy!)

What do human babies look like?Barbara - no longer a rabbit baby

From the pictures I’ve seen (see above), they’re black and white with no discernible features. I presume that, like rabbit babies, they grow into their features later on. I mean, we’re born hairless with our eyes shut and tiny ears. Look at me now – huge eyes, magnificent fur and my ears are just the right length.

What do human babies do?

I think they eat a lot. And sleep. And poo. This is why I think I’m going to have such a great bond with this baby – we will have so much in common!

What’s in this for me? Wouldn’t it be easier to ask for a new rabbit baby?

It’s a good question, and I have asked myself this a few times. Life will probably get a bit less nice – I won’t have as much peace and quiet, there may be odd smells around, and, rather worryingly, I may have to be left alone on Bonfire Night if that’s when human baby is born. (I need to be held comfortably in a warm, dark room with white noise to cope with fireworks. Just one of those little quirks that makes an old lady’s life a bit happier, you know!)

But it occurs to me that there are also lots of fun possibilities coming up too. Firstly, my mum is going to get a whole year off work. That’s a year where she’ll be home during the day. More playtime?

Secondly, when the baby can open its eyes and walk (that’s at a few days old, right? It would be if it were a rabbit baby!) chances are it will be a bit bigger than I am. But it might not know the rules yet! So I can probably convince it to open the food bin more regularly and hand out treats.

Similarly, opposable thumbs! Baby can use knives and cut up apples for me on demand! Open doors! And, as I don’t think they can talk at first, there’s no way I can be asked to go in for a bit or told no!

Also, I hear the number of blankets in the house will increase. I like blankets.

Human baby, you and I are going to have a lot of fun.

Until next time, my furry friends!

Cruelty free – the first steps

Cruelty free

Over the last year, making sure our purchases are as cruelty free as possible has become increasingly important to us.

Barbara Rabbit feeling scared - an argument to go cruelty freeIt makes sense, really. We have three rabbits that we love – they’re our family.

But elsewhere in the world, rabbits aren’t curled up on their comfy Ikea beds, dreaming of the bananas they had last night. They’re in small cages, wondering when they’re going to next be pulled out and have some new cosmetics tested on them. It’s purely luck that Ned, Gingee and Barbara were born into a different life.

Animals are so sensitive. Barbara wasn’t treated very well in her first home. She was nervous when she came to live with us. It took her well over six months to feel comfortable and show her true, bossy personality. Look at her there – hiding behind the bin, just because she was afraid.

The cruelty free situation in the UK

Testing cosmetics and toiletries on animals has been banned in the UK for a long time. Since 2013, cosmetics that have been tested on animals may not be sold anywhere in the EU. That’s pretty awesome.

I knew all of that and kind of thought I didn’t have to worry about cruelty free products. But that’s not quite true.

In China, companies must test their cosmetics on animals. That means that if a company sells their products in China, they are paying to hurt animals. And by purchasing products from those companies, that means I’m paying to support this, even if my particular bottle of shampoo hasn’t been squirted into a bunny’s eye.

Some companies may also test cleaning products or other chemicals on animals. There isn’t an outright ban on this in the UK.

My first steps to going cruelty free

It’s tempting to go through all your cosmetics and toiletries and throw out anything that doesn’t have big obvious text saying “Not tested on animals!” But don’t. You’ve already purchased those, your money has already gone to those companies. I felt like finishing the shampoo, but doing it thoughtfully, was more respectful to the animals that had suffered, rather than throwing it out and disregarding what they’d been through.

So I didn’t do anything immediately. It sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it?

I did some reading instead. We wanted to plan for the next time we needed toiletries, cosmetics or cleaning products. I needed to do a fair amount of research on this, as I have very sensitive skin. I don’t want to end up with a whole range of wonderfully cruelty free products that end up harming me! The goal is for no one to have to go through discomfort!

A really easy way of seeing if a product is cruelty free is to look for the leaping bunny.

Fortunately, it turned out that a lot of my current products were already cruelty free. Fabulous! Here are some of the brands I was already using:

Toiletries

  • The Body Shop
  • Burt’s Bees (however, there is some controversy over this)
  • Marks & Spencer’s own brands
  • Molton Brown
  • Superdrug’s own brand

Cosmetics

  • Barry M
  • The Body Shop
  • China Glaze
  • Ciaté
  • ModelsOwn
  • Stila
  • Too Faced

Household cleaning products

  • Method
  • Sainsbury’s own brand

Note: not all of these products are entirely vegan, but they haven’t been tested on animals at all. Some of these brands are owned by parent companies that test on animals, as well. That’s something I need to look into further.

For now, though, I’m mostly buying new products from Superdrug’s own brand (bath creme, for example), The Body Shop,

I’m working on putting together a more comprehensive list of cruelty free products, including ones I want to try, so watch this space!

Gingee the rabbit in a hat

Gingee says: “You can look fabulous without hurting animals!”

Feeling low during pregnancy

Feeling low during pregnancy
(Note: this is not my bump. Just a random stock photo bump!)

I never really expected to feel low during pregnancy. After all, we’d wanted a baby for a long time, and surely everything would just be wonderful as soon as the second line turned up, right?

However, it’s not quite been rainbows and unicorns and plain sailing.

I’m very pleased to be having this baby. We have wanted a baby for a long time and I’m excited to see who this little person is. But my emotions have been all over the place. I have cried a lot. I think I might have been a bit depressed, actually, but saying “I was a bit low during pregnancy” feels less scary.

If you think about it, it makes sense.

Regardless of the extra hormones surging around, there are lots of reasons that it’s actually completely logical that you might feel insecure and unhappy and anxious during pregnancy.

Responsibility is scary.

Particularly if it’s your first pregnancy, isn’t it a weird concept? Up until now, I’ve only really been responsible for myself. (Well, and the rabbits!) Now there will be someone depending on me and my husband for everything. If I make a mistake, this tiny new person might be affected. I’ve changed a grand total of two nappies in my life before, so this is going to be a pretty steep learning curve!

It’s also a huge financial commitment. We should be okay (fingers crossed!), but my not working for a year will obviously make a big dent in our savings.

And of course we’ve had to spend money before baby even arrives. Even though we’re taking the cheap way out a lot of the time (yeah, eBay!) and have very generous family, the cost of the basics does add up. I’m very hopeful that breastfeeding and cloth nappying will work out because that will save us a lot.

Physical changes hurt!

This is going to sound silly, but adjusting to a whole new body and a whole new wardrobe has been hard. I was fairly secure in my fashion sense – I knew what I liked and I liked what I wore. Now I look in the mirror and it’s my head on another body. I’m getting used to it, but it’s strange!

I used to be really active. I took two or three dance classes a week and loved them. I could touch my toes easily. Now sometimes I have to catch my breath after going up the stairs too fast. I’m constantly asking my husband if he could walk a bit slower, please.

There are more aches and pains than I expected. Baby is in an okay place right now, but the week before last was agonisingly painful at times!

Are you sleeping well? Because I’m not! I’ve had one successful night of sleeping through all week. It’s preparation for when baby arrives, I suppose, but I’ve never been good at staying level-headed when I’m sleep deprived.

There’s also the terrifying anticipation of the birth. I’m usually pretty anxious about medical-related things – partly because I’ve been rather blessed not to need medical intervention for most of my life. It’s all new to me. The thought of willingly going to a hospital and putting myself through something that’s going to be very very painful – well, that just scares me. I don’t like to think about it too much. (However, I’m also not thinking of a homebirth for my first either – that scares me even more!)

Other people suck.

Oh goodness, I think this has been the worst part, for me. It’s to be expected, though. Other people were the worst part of wedding planning for me as well, so it’s not surprising that they’d contribute to my feeling low during pregnancy as well.

“You must be so happy! This should be the happiest time of your life!”

“Hm, you look very small. Are you sure baby’s growing properly?”

“I don’t think you should be feeling this sick – I never felt that bad when I was pregnant. Are you sure nothing’s wrong?”

“It’s not normal to be that tired. I know your midwife said it’s okay, but I’ve had three children and never felt tired!”

Argh just be quiet now! I’m already so incredibly anxious, but sure, you go ahead and worry me even further.

Everyone has a view, don’t they? Everyone wants to share their terrifying tale of childbirth and they use words like “tearing” and “excruciating” and why the hell would you say this to a pregnant lady? What do they think my response is going to be? Am I going to change my mind and say I’d rather not go through with it now? No. I’m having this baby and you’re scaring me, so shut up.

Will I ever stop feeling low during pregnancy? What helps?

It’s getting a lot better for me. I think weeks 22-26 were some of the worst in terms of emotions, for me. By the time I got to my 28 week midwife appointment, I didn’t feel like I necessarily needed to mention that I’d been feeling low during pregnancy as I was feeling so much better. So it can get better!

I’d advise talking to someone, though, if you’re struggling. Those worst weeks were pretty rough and I wish I’d spoken out to someone, rather than just laying the entire burden on my poor husband.

I was so afraid that I’d be judged for feeling out of my depth or anxious, but I’m not sure why – I know I wouldn’t judge a friend who came to me and said she was feeling like that. I know people who are currently pregnant and on antidepressants and I think, good for them. They’re doing the right thing for themselves and their babies.

And yet I’m so nervous even writing this blog post, which is crazy. We women are too hard on ourselves.

For me, the big things that helped were:

  • Doing things that had nothing to do with pregnancy whatsoever. One day my husband and I took a trip to a local Roman fort and then went out and had a pub lunch. It was lovely and the kind of thing we used to do. I’d not realised how much I missed just doing fun things.
  • Taking some time off work when I really couldn’t do it any more. I booked a few days off at the very last minute, and it really did help.
  • Reading about mindfulness. I started reading Mindful Hypnobirthing and some of the affirmations in there made me feel more like I could handle childbirth. I still don’t think it’ll be a walk in the park, but knowing that other women have coped with it does help. Look around you at all the women who have had children and survived. Most of them aren’t scarred for life! (I’ve written a bit more about the books that I’ve been reading during pregnancy here.)
  • Waiting it out. I know in some cases this isn’t possible, and there were days that I’m not actually sure this was the wisest course of action because I spent the entire day crying. But in the end, I am feeling happy now.

I’m now at about the point where I can say I’m actually enjoying the experience of pregnancy. It’s going way too fast, though – I’m so not ready for this yet! I’m 30 weeks now. I can’t believe that baby could be here next month.