Maternity clothes don’t have to cost the earth!

maternity clothes

Now that I’m nearly at the end of my pregnancy, I feel I can talk with authority about maternity clothes.

I’ve survived nearly nine months of gestation, and have been wearing these things since probably about week ten. I was very bloated from about week seven onwards, and was definitely into maternity trousers at least by the second trimester.

Where did I buy maternity clothes?

eBay. eBay eBay eBay. Seriously. This is where I got most of my maternity clothes. I’m a fairly standard size, which helps (size 10 pre-pregnancy and 5’3).

I ended up with an amazing maternity wardrobe, lots of brands like Seraphine and Jojo Maman Bebe, but paid full price for none of it.

My favourite maternity outfit was a black and white striped Seraphine jersey dress that honestly I’ll probably wear later on too as it’s not stretched out and is lovely and loose.

I had some things that were great and some that were less great, but I didn’t care so much about the stuff that didn’t work out if I didn’t spend so much on it!

The only things I bought new were some jeans (Amazon and H&M), a jersey dress (Lidl!), a work skirt (Mothercare), two pairs of yoga pants (Mothercare), a couple of shirts (H&M and New Look) and bras (M&S).

What did I end up needing?

I have relied on:

  • Maternity jersey dresses x 2
  • Maternity sundresses x 2 (it was a very hot summer and I could maybe have done with another)
  • Maternity jeans
  • Maternity yoga pants x 2 (but could easily have got away with one!)
  • Maternity maxi skirt (not an essential but so good in the summer!)
  • Maternity pencil skirt
  • Maternity shirts x 4
  • Well-fitting bras x 2 (at a time – get new ones at least every trimester!)

That’s probably all I absolutely needed – and if I were more on top of washing, I could probably have coped with less!

You don’t need maternity everything.

I have not bought a single pair of maternity knickers, for example. My usual M&S midis work just fine. I’ve got some in sizes 12 and 14 for those days where I’m feeling a bit larger (and in black for after the birth!), but I’m generally still wearing my usual pre-pregnancy pants.

Maternity leggings, it turns out, are hideously uncomfortable on me. So I bought some larger non maternity jeggings from Asda George and just push them down under the bump. They only cost £8!

I’m continuing to wear my old long stretchy H&M vests – they fit over the bump just fine, and I pair them with a button-down shirt (again, non-maternity). I can keep the shirt mostly open, and it’ll be a good outfit to repeat later on when I’m feeding.

Here are some example outfits: none of these tops are maternity.

maternity clothes

What did I not use?

The aforementioned maternity leggings. I bought a two-pack from New Look very early on, but it turns out that I’m not so comfortable in massively over the bump things. I don’t know if I just have a weirdly shaped bump, but they don’t stay up properly. Then, as they progress downwards, they dig in painfully!

The same went for maternity tights. I ended up going bare-legged, which was fine most of the time as I was largely pregnant over summer.

I’m wearing maternity/nursing bras now, but didn’t start until the third trimester. Until then, I just wore non-underwired bras. Debenhams have a great selection, and I don’t think I spent more than about £10 on any one, thanks to the Blue Cross sale.

What else to consider?

Shoes! My feet haven’t swollen up too much, but there was no way I could wear heels past the first trimester.

I spent the summer living in my beautiful Birkenstocks, even to work. They’re obviously not maternity specific; I wore them pre-pregnancy and I’ll be wearing them later on too.

Now that I’m on maternity leave, it’s Skechers all the way. I need something I can just slip on, because I can’t bend down to actually get to my feet any more!

Also, socks. I never considered this before, but my ankles have swollen a bit and most socks dig in. Also, my feet are much sweatier than they used to be. I’m pretty much exclusively wearing bamboo socks right now. TK Maxx usually have a good range!

Totting it all up, I think I probably spent about £200 on maternity-specific clothes. I could have gone cheaper, honestly, but I’ve been working throughout my pregnancy, we’ve had invitations to three weddings, and I admit I went a bit overboard before I worked out what really worked for me.

Baby’s privacy – how to manage this blog?

baby's privacy

As the time to give birth gets closer, and as I’m blogging more, I find myself thinking a lot about baby’s privacy. What information, exactly, will we share online?

Baby cannot consent to having pictures posted. She doesn’t understand what it means to have personal details be posted online. As her parents, we have to make these decisions for her. Responsibly.

We are a generation navigating new issues.

I grew up being told never to use your real full name online. Every other person in the world, behind their computer screen, is clearly a lying predator. Well, I’ve been on various online forums since I was 12, and obviously I know that’s not true.

Oh, in retrospect, I’ve encountered some very dodgy people. But I’ve also made a lot of really good friends online. I’ve met plenty of them. Even though we’re scattered across the world, I’m better friends with some of my “imaginary” friends than I am with people in real life!

But even so, this move from never tell anyone everything and anonymity is king to always use your full name everywhere and share everything is weird to me.

The cynical part of me says it’s encouraged mostly by people who can benefit from it. If all of your online accounts are linked, advertising to you becomes much easier, for example.

I have a fairly common first name and one of the most popular surnames. I’m hard to find if you only know my first and last name! It makes me wonder if we should try and protect baby’s privacy a bit by selecting a popular name. (No, we’ve still not decided on a name! Yes, I am still stressing about it!)

But, if you look back through my Twitter account far enough, you can probably find out a fair bit of information about me. The town I live in, more or less what job I do, places I’ve been… add in Instagram as well and you could probably find out some more. If you have me on Facebook, you could get a lot more – what vets we go to, various weddings we’ve been at, etc.

How will we deal with baby’s privacy on the blog?

No last names, for a start. Yes, I know I’ve just talked about how great and anonymous our surname is, but I’m still not going to share it here. It’s not even on my Twitter account. I’m just Lucy over there.

I haven’t yet decided what to do about the first name and any middles. My first instinct is to say that I’ll share them once, maybe in an image. And after that, I’ll probably use a nickname. We call her Shroody for now, and that works fine for me!

I don’t want her name to be easily Google-able. I’ve spoken before about blogging secretly vs telling everyone I know about my blog, and I don’t think I want people to be able to Google a full name and come to a birth announcement page.

Photos? Probably there will be some. (Who am I kidding, I love photography. I will take millions!) What there will not be are photos of potty training, bath time or other very private moments. Seeing those splashed all over the internet really does worry me.

There will also be no photos posted online outside “Local Town School, Any Road”, holding up a sign with her full name and the date she’s started school. Those are a great private keepsake, but not so good if you don’t know who exactly is seeing them. Seems like a great way to get kidnapped!

And there will definitely be no photos of other people’s children, unless I have express permission. No way will I violate anyone else’s baby’s privacy.

I also won’t be sharing baby’s date of birth. This sounds a bit silly, but if you went back through my Twitter account far enough, I’m sure you could find hints of my maiden name. A combination of mother’s maiden name, full name, town born, date of birth… you’ve got quite a bit of information there to go rogue with.

I don’t know if any of this will make a difference.

protecting baby's privacy online

What will we teach her about protecting her own privacy?

Honestly, I have no idea. I know that technology will have moved on even more by the time she’s three, four, five, at school, able to access the internet herself… and I don’t know what to do about that! I don’t know what technology will be available to her, or where she’ll be able to access it.

You can’t plan ahead without knowing what you have to plan for.

If I were talking to her now, as a child old enough to type and access social media, I’d probably say:

  • Don’t use your full name. Call yourself First Middle, maybe.
  • Don’t tell anyone where we live.
  • Don’t post pictures of yourself or your friends. Even when you do start doing this, you absolutely must be fully dressed in every picture. Seriously, no sexting.
  • Only add people online that you know.
  • Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/whatever else you use should be kept private.
  • You’re not having a computer in your room yet. I don’t know at what age that will be allowed, but I prefer to be able to wander through the living room or dining room and see what’s going on.
  • If anyone says anything to you that makes you uncomfortable, block them. You don’t have to worry about offending them.
  • If anything makes you uncomfortable or you feel you’re in something over your head, talk to me or your dad. Honesty is always the best policy with us. We will help you.

But this is 2017. I don’t know how things will be in 2027. It’s going to be a constantly evolving process, isn’t it?

Do I sound a bit paranoid in this post? I don’t think I am. It’s just that technology has moved on so fast, and I know I made mistakes as a young teen navigating it. I was very lucky and none of them had lifelong repercussions. I don’t want my little one to make bigger, potentially further-reaching, mistakes. Especially not before she’s old enough to make informed decisions.

What decisions have you made about your baby’s privacy? How do you feel about them? Any advice?

Surviving pregnancy – my surprise essentials

surviving pregnancy

I always hoped that I’d be one of those glowing, delightfully happy pregnant women. Not so much. My goal for most of the past eight months has just been surviving pregnancy, to be honest.

I have days where I think, oh, I’m enjoying this. Then the following day I wake up and am waddling, my back hurts and I hate everyone. You might have heard my complaints about it already. Oops.

And there are a few things that have made my life a lot easier and actually contributed to my surviving pregnancy (almost!) the whole way through! It’s a real mixture of actions and physical objects that meant I kept my physical and mental health mostly intact. I still feel rather overwhelmed, but I’ll get there, I’m sure!

Clothes that fit

They don’t have to be maternity clothes, but there was a day in March or April that I suddenly realised none of my current clothes fit me anymore. I cried. A lot.

The worst part was that I knew it was too early for it to be baby weight, so it was just bloat. I felt fat and frumpy and blargh. I feel like I was in that “pregnant or fat” stage for a long time, to be honest – longer than a lot of women. When I finished work at nearly 35 weeks, I had some people say to me that they hadn’t realised I was pregnant!

I’d advise getting yourself some maternity clothes before you actually need them. So much better than having to get them in a panic!

I’ve had an interesting journey with maternity clothes throughout this pregnancy, and I think I’ll do a longer post on them soon.

A dishwasher

We had a dishwasher before, but it was old. How old? Who knows? It was here when we bought the house a couple of years ago, so could very well have been new when the house was built in 2000-ish. And while dishwashers are great, when they don’t work, they are so very, very frustrating. We’d end up running it multiple times, refusing to give in and just wash up by hand because, well, we have a dishwasher. It might as well work for a living!

But all that meant was that we’d have most of our crockery and cutlery out of commission for a couple of days while we engaged in a battle of wills with an aged, decrepit appliance. To be honest, no one won in that situation.

So, yeah. I decided over the summer that our pregnancy treat would be the oh-so-romantic gift of a new dishwasher, and suddenly surviving pregnancy got a lot easier.

We’ve not got it hardwired in yet, but it’s wonderful. Just knowing that we don’t have to think about whether the crockery and cutlery will be clean is a huge weight off my mind.

Although I’m now getting to the stage where I can’t actually fill it or empty it because I can’t bend down!

A nice soft throw

We did get a lovely big pregnancy pillow, but I was pregnant over the summer. It was a ridiculously warm summer. There was no way I’d be surviving pregnancy if I’d used that comfortable monster throughout!

However, I really needed something extra at night. When I’m lying on my side, I need something between my legs, and I also needed something in front of my super sensitive chest. I ended up rolling up a soft fleecy throw and using that. It’s much smaller and lighter than the pregnancy pillow and it means I don’t wake up so horribly sweaty every morning!

A big handbag

It sounds counter-intuitive. Surely I should be looking for a tiny little bag so I’m not tempted to carry lots and hurt myself? But on the other hand, I have my green notes and they’re pretty huge.

I’ve carried them everywhere with me since I was 16 weeks when I was in a bump in the car. Having to go home to get my notes before going to the hospital was a bit of a worry to me, so I just decided to keep them with me permanently ever since then. My closest colleagues, husband and parents know that they’re in my bag in case of an emergency.

I have been making an effort to keep the rest of the bag nice and light though!

Comfort food

I felt so sick at first, for the first four months or so. I could barely eat, and finding anything that got nutrients into me was the most important thing.

So I stopped worrying about eating “properly” (sorry, all the lovely books I’d bought on pregnancy nutrition – I don’t think I’ve opened any of them since about 5 weeks!) and just started eating. For the first 16 weeks or so, I ate one crisp sandwich and one cheese sandwich a day, sometimes with a Fab ice lolly afterwards. That’s it. I lost a lot of weight but baby and I are both still here and still doing well, which is what matters!

Midway through the second trimester, my mum and I went out for lunch and I had a cheese and tomato toastie at Costa. It was the first bit of food I’d enjoyed in months and it felt wonderful. I felt for the first time I wasn’t just surviving pregnancy; it felt again like I could start living.

Simple games

On a similar note, I’d get home from work at that point and basically collapse on the bed. At 5.30 it was far too early to sleep, but I needed something I could do while lying down. I went back to playing Neopets (yep, it still exists!), and played a lot of Solitaire and Mahjong. I didn’t really have to think about any of them, but it gave me something to distract myself from the sickness.

So that’s mostly what worked for me. What about you?

Rabbit games – our favourites #barbarablogs

Barbara Rabbit

Hello everyone, it’s me, Barbara Rabbit, here again! As you may know, I write a weekly post here – you can find the older ones here, under #barbarablogs.

Like all bunnies, my brothers and I enjoy a few simple rabbit games. You’ve probably realised from reading my blogs that rabbits are incredibly intelligent. We need a lot of mental stimulation.

My brothers are both younger than me, and, I mean nothing rude by this, but Ned might not be quite as smart as I am. Gingee is pretty clever, but Ned doesn’t always pick things up so quickly. So we all have different needs when it comes to games. Our parents are pretty good at playing to our strengths and finding games that work for all of us. We’re quite lucky. (Don’t tell them that. I don’t want them to get complacent.)

Here are some of our favourites!

Fingers through Bars and Fingers round Ned

These are two of Ned’s favourite games.

Fingers through Bars needs him to be inside a cage, and a human will wriggle fingers at him. He’ll hop around on his hind legs all excited and cute. I don’t quite see the appeal myself.

Fingers round Ned is a game only daddy and Ned can play. Apparently our mum just isn’t very good at it. What you need to do is circle your fingers around his head and he’ll bob his head around like mad. Because he can’t hear very well, I think he really enjoys games where he has to look at things.

Climbing on Humans

Ned and Gingee love doing this, and I’m getting better at it too. It was quite difficult for me at first, because I couldn’t work out quite how to get up onto a human. It turns out you need to push with your back legs, rather than pulling up with your front legs! Once you remember that, it’s easy!

If you’re very brave and have a fun human, he might even move along the floor a bit while you’re sitting on him. Gingee really likes this.

Surprise Rabbit

Such a simple game, but so much fun. Sneak up on a human. You can climb on them or not, but you just need to appear really suddenly – you can either do it by walking quietly and slowly or by running at full pelt. It’s so much fun to watch them be startled!

Box

Box is a really fun game, and there are so many variations. We have loads of cardboard boxes right now, which I hear is because my parents are having a human baby and keep on ordering things for it online. But the best part is that most of the empty boxes end up in my room!

The rules of playing Box can be as simple as just climbing into the box, sitting there for a bit, and then getting out again. Sometimes you can hide in there, or wriggle yourself right to the back, depending on the size of the box.

But the best way to play Box is to get food involved as well – as is the way with all the best rabbit games! Sometimes my parents will put chopped up apple or little carrot sticks in a box and cover them with paper or cardboard, and we get to forage for them. It’s so much fun!

Plastic Baby

This is a new rabbit game. Our parents have bought us some little plastic babies to prepare us for our new human baby. We get to groom them while our parents tell us how good we are.

I really like licking the plastic bits of them, and they have yummy clothes to gently nibble. There are three, one for each of us.

Explorers Under the Bed

It’s really self-explanatory! If the humans will let you, go under their bed and explore!

I don’t usually find anything under there, but I really like being in the small space. Sometimes it is a bit of a struggle when they want me to come out, though. They’ve sent Ned or Gingee in to get me before now.

 

Stairs

Now, this isn’t a game that I’ll play. I don’t like the stairs, and if I have to go up or down them, someone has to carry me.

But Gingee really likes playing stairs. He says that the stairs lead to lots of other fun rooms and that there’s nothing quite as fun as dashing down them and then zigzagging back up. Ned does this really clever thing where he can jump up about five steps in one go, as well. He landed on our mum’s big belly last night and she made a really funny squeaking noise, and it was brilliant. What a great twist on Surprise Rabbit!

Finger Nibbling

This is one of my favourite games. It seems only fair – my daddy cuts my claws, so I should help to keep his nice and short too, right? He’s very brave and doesn’t squirm too much, although I think I have got his skin a few times. But sometimes that happens when he does our claws as well!

The best time to play this game is either after he’s cut up an apple for me, so his hands taste like apple, or after he’s eaten some yummy human food. I like it when he’s had Marmite because it makes his hands taste all salty. There was also a time when he’d had salted caramel and that was amazing. You never quite know what the situation is going to be, so I’d recommend testing this out on a regular basis.

Fellow furry friends, what are your favourite rabbit games? Humans, what do you like to play with your rabbits?

Until next time!

Barbara Rabbit xxx

9 months pregnant: a ticking bomb!

9 months pregnant

So, as you may have heard, I’m 9 months pregnant. Really, really pregnant. The kind of pregnant where people stop me in Tesco and tell me I look like I’m about to pop. (Or, conversely, “You don’t look very far along at all! You must have your dates mixed up!” There’s no pleasing some people.)

It’s a really weird feeling.

9 months pregnant – the good

I’m enjoying pregnancy a lot at this point. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve had a difficult time at various points during the pregnancy. And I don’t think you’re meant to enjoy being 9 months pregnant. But it finally feels like I’m getting good at this!

I like the shape of my body. I may never do pregnancy again, and I’m enjoying not sucking my stomach in. It’s expected that I have a huge belly at this point and that’s very liberating. Okay, I don’t have many clothes that fit any more, but the ones that do are very comfortable!

Now that I’m on maternity leave, I feel pretty well rested and that makes a huge difference. It also means that I have a lot less stress in my life.

I love feeling the baby move. It’s like we have this connection that no one else does, and all that will change after the birth. Baby will belong to other people as well, then. I love that right now, I’m the one that knows the most about her. I’m the one that knows exactly what she likes and doesn’t like.

We sit and listen to a lot of Disney music on Spotify right now. She loves the Moana and Frozen soundtracks and wiggles around like mad.

If my husband sits down next to me, she scoots herself over to be near him, which I absolutely love.

Every night, I have a bath and just watch my belly move. I never really liked baths before, but in the last month or so, my feelings have really changed. I’d have three a day if it wouldn’t push our water bills through the roof! Fancy baths, too – I’m getting the candles and the lavender oil and the bath salts out.

9 months pregnant – the bad

I feel like a ticking time bomb. That’s a very odd feeling.

Every time I make plans with someone (pretty much just my mum or the midwife, I admit), I’m prefacing it with “If I’m not having a baby then.” It’s so weird to know that baby could just show up at any point!

I’m overanalysing every tiny twinge I feel. And oh, are there twinges! Like clockwork, every night, after tea. Suddenly I’m ridiculously uncomfortable, thinking, yep, this will happen tonight. Then I get in the bath and it stops. This morning I was up at about 4.30am thinking, something is happening. By 5am, all calm again. Right now, I’m feeling incredibly comfortable, so who knows. Calm before the storm, maybe?

Every time I wave my husband off to work or when he pops out to the pub or wherever, I’m very aware that I could be summoning him back midway through the day so we can go to the hospital.

I’m a planner, so this limbo feeling is rather odd!

9 months pregnant – the ugly

I know I said I’m really liking my body, but my belly button is kind of gross! It’s obviously turned inside out by now, but it’s got a weird little brown stump in there. I’m not going to share a picture because, well, ew. But yeah. Pretty ugly.

How did you find being 9 months pregnant? Am I the only crazy one who’s enjoying it?