Pregnancy problems I never expected

I’ve had (touch wood!) a really good pregnancy so far, actually. But I’ve still had a few weird pregnancy problems that I would never, ever have expected. No book that I’ve read (and I’ve read a few!) has mentioned any of these ones!

Once you’ve got that positive test, taking pregnancy tests is addictive. I took three of the fancy ones and then about 10 cheap ones off Amazon. I only stopped because I ran out. Oh, and then I bought one of the very posh digital ones and took that too. Honestly, I’d still be doing it if I wouldn’t get weird looks buying them with a huge belly!

When you do the washing up, your bump gets very wet. And cold. And at first you can’t tell, because, well, it’s just a bit of a splash and it’s warm water at the time. But then it’s two hours later and your jumper, your maternity vest and the big stretchy jersey waistband of your maternity jeans are all still damp and your belly is still cold. Lovely.

Rabbits getting too close - the least of all pregnancy problems!Baby will kick. You know that. But did you know that baby can kick things outside as well? If I have my laptop tray on my lap, kick! If I sit too close to my desk at work, kick! Sometimes cuddly rabbits get a little tap from the baby as well. They usually nudge back – that’s rather sweet, actually.

You will need the loo a lot. Again, not a surprise. But did you know this bit? Sometimes you think you kind of need the loo while you’re sitting or lying down, and then you get up and this big baby head falls down right into your bladder and you have to run like mad to make it there in time. No one ever told me that!

And, on that note, I have been known to leave the bathroom and immediately turn back round to pee again. Infinite loop of loo.

You may forget that the bump is there. I bash into things a lot these days. It’s particularly tricky as we’re doing so much moving of furniture lately so things are always in different places! But I keep on forgetting that my body is a different shape and I need to leave room for this belly to go ahead of me.

Nightmares. Some are awful. I still can’t talk about the worst one I had in early pregnancy, but suffice it to say that it had me running down the stairs at 1am to cuddle Gingee while I wailed and promised him I’d always, always, always take good care of him. He’s a very patient rabbit, fortunately. The nightmares mainly stopped around week 12 or so for me, thankfully.

Colleagues and friends who’ve never been pregnant will be terrified of your moving belly. Not going to lie, sometimes I am too. It looks freaky. Alien-like. As pregnancy problems go, that one’s kind of fun though – I like freaking people out.

People you don’t really know will ask you weirdly personal questions. I see you once a month at work meetings and you want to talk about perineal massage? Really? Let’s not. I was prepared for the strangers trying to have a feel of the belly, but not the acquaintances who suddenly want to talk about my ladyparts.

Maternity clothes do not always fit all the way to the end. Sometimes you can size up and they still won’t. (Hi, H&M!) Don’t blame the belly 100% of the time. Your chest deserves some credit too.

Your one pair of comfortable shoes will start to smell bad because you wear them every single day. You may decide you don’t care and move full time into wearing Birkenstocks, even to work.

(Please note: I do know that none of these are true pregnancy problems, and I’m very lucky to have had such an easy pregnancy – I’ve heard them referred to as “unicorn pregnancies”. In general, it’s pretty good. Nice blood pressure, no bleeding, not too much pain, nausea mostly gone now… all good things! Of course, I’m only 30 weeks pregnant. I don’t want to tempt fate!)

It’s not just me, is it? What are your weirdest pregnancy problems?

The rabbit guide to training your human #barbarablogs

Barbara Rabbit

Hello, I’m Barbara the rabbit. I’m taking over this blog today, with some words of advice for my fellow rabbits. I want to talk about how to make sure your human is taking proper care of you.

Barbara the rabbit

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

How to get adopted properly as a rabbit

I have two humans, and I came to live with them in December. I worked hard on making this happen – I’d been living at my adoption centre for nine months, but hadn’t found anyone to take me home.

Firstly, I wanted to meet them before I made my decision. It’s a big commitment, taking on new humans and new brothers, and I wanted to be sure it was the right thing to do. Take your time in deciding!

My new mum came to visit me two or three times, firstly. I mostly ignored her. Test them! Make sure they’re really interested in you. She passed the test and I got interested too.

Next, they brought my new brothers in to visit and bond. This is always a bit daunting – I’d been living on my own for a while and I wasn’t sure about meeting new bunnies. Particularly young ones – I’m a more mature lady, myself, and these were young lads of not even two years old! I decided that the smaller one would be the most helpful, as he was less likely to attack. The moment they put him in with me, I snuggled up to him. He was a bit alarmed, but all of the humans were very impressed. Get a small, non-threatening ally who can help your cause. Ned is literally half my size, so I felt very safe in using him here.

One more test before I committed to this adoption: test their knowledge of health problems! I decided to have an upset stomach the day before moving in. It meant that my homecoming was delayed by two days, but it also ensured I got a vet visit immediately upon getting home. I wanted to check out my new vet for myself – and I was quite pleased.

How to set up your room, rabbit-style

Now, I know somebunnies are very happy living outside, but I’m an indoor kind of girl, myself. In my first home, I lived outside, and that just wasn’t for me. I explained this very clearly to the people at the adoption centre, so my new parents knew that I was going to be a house rabbit right from the start. This wasn’t a problem for them as my two brothers had been living inside already.

Make it very clear you don’t want to be outside. The moment we left the adoption centre and I knew we were outside, I started thumping and didn’t stop until we’d got into the car. When we got home, the window was open. I thumped my disapproval of the birds outside until the window was shut. Result!

Humans will have an idea of how the room will look. Their design skills aren’t very good. I prefer to think of them as a guideline – take your room as a blank canvas! I think my carpet looks much better with hay on it (easy snack!), and the occasional pee stain adds character. Feel free to make changes to the carpet as necessary. After all, you’re the one who’s closer to it!

Move your furniture around as much as you like. Particularly at night. Humans like hearing noise in the night and may even come to play with you! But, seriously, if they’d put the litter box in the left corner of my room rather than the right to begin with, I’d not have needed to do it!

How to bond with rabbit siblings

I hadn’t had too much experience with other rabbits before meeting my brothers, so I was a bit nervous. The adoption centre had tried to bond me with some other boys, but it hadn’t gone well. But I’m here to tell you that it can work out!

I’m lucky because my two new brothers are both smaller than I am. This means that I have an advantage – so, if possible, select very little siblings. You can overpower them more easily.

Don’t let them get complacent. When Ned and I still lived in separate rooms, I learnt how to open his door. He’d come running out, expecting human fuss, and I could ambush him. I never hurt him, but he learnt very quickly that I wasn’t someone to be trifled with! Even months later when we were getting on much better, I’d still occasionally nip his tail to make him drop whatever food he was holding and then eat it myself. Needs must, you know!

However, that doesn’t mean you always have to be cruel. With Gingee, I took a different tactic. Learn their psychology. Gingee wanted to protect me, so I’d sit unmoving on the floor during our bonding sessions. He loved this and really thought he was in charge!

Now we all live in the same room and I have them well trained. Ned knows that he needs to guard me as I sleep, and Gingee knows that he’s in charge of investigating anything that happens on those scary stairs. They both know that the largest share of the apple is always mine. They’re pretty good boys, all in all.

How to get the humans to bend to your will

So here’s the hardest bit. Humans are big. They can pick you up. They can take you the vet. Sometimes they might not give you as many treats as you’d like. It’s hard to train them but it’s so worthwhile. Yes, it can be tricky – no one likes seeing their human upset or frustrated, but you mustn’t back down.

Here are my top five tips:

  • The silent treatment. This is surprisingly effective. I know the weekly routine. There are five days where we are left alone between 7am-6pm and get to play in the evenings, and there are two days where we get human interaction throughout the day. What I don’t like is when the humans try and intrude on the sacred Five Days of Rabbit. So if they do, I sit with my back to them, or flop dramatically on the floor and fall asleep immediately. They quickly work out that I don’t feel like interacting – sometimes this works amazingly well and they’ll even take one or both of my brothers out of the room to play so I’m not disturbed!
  • Make them feel guilty. This is easy for me. I have arthritis in one of my front paws, although it rarely bothers me. I can run just as fast as my brothers, despite being much older. But if someone is trying to coerce me into something I don’t want to do, I can hold up my front paw and hop forlornly on the other three. They quickly come around, and you might even get some yummy Loxicom! (The trick to this is putting your “bad” paw down again very quickly so you don’t end up with a vet visit!)
  • Responding to words. I don’t mean commands. Learn which sounds they use to represent your favourite treats, for example. Mine say “apple” and “food”. If I hear one of these sounds, I go up to the human, nuzzle them and give them about 30 seconds to produce the “apple” or the “food”. If they don’t, thump angrily. The treats will appear, trust me. Ideally, you’ll also get praise for how clever you are!
  • Remind them that you make the rules. My humans say “Barbara, are you going in for a bit?” when they want me to have some cage time. Fine, I’m happy to go in there sometimes, but they need to know that they don’t get to boss me around too much. I like to do a lap of the cage before I go in. That way they know that I understand them and that I’m clever, but they also know that I make the decision about when I’m going in for a bit.
  • Physical punishment. I try and keep this as a last resort, but sometimes it does need to be done. Occasionally my mum hands out the food too slowly, or she sits in my way when I need to take the quickest route towards the bookcase, for example. A small nip usually does the trick. Purr and nuzzle immediately afterwards to show that you still love them, you just needed them do what you asked.

I hope this has helped, and that you can use this advice to create a happy rabbit-human bond in your home. Remember, you’re in charge!

Barbara the rabbit with her arthritic paw

Until next time, my furry friends!

What I didn’t expect about being pregnant

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

I had all these ideas about how being pregnant would be. I think everyone does.

Me and my pregnant belly

How I was going to be as a pregnant lady

  • I was going to announce it to my husband in a really wonderful and romantic way.
  • I’d be this amazing earth mother type. Every meal would be home-cooked and meticulously planned to optimise the nutrition that a growing baby could possibly need.
  • Baby would have a name from the start. One of my favourites, obviously, as a life-long name nerd.
  • The house would be in immaculate shape from early on.
  • We’d take belly pictures every week, talk to baby all the time, write letters… the whole thing. This would be the most bonded-with baby in the history of babies.

How I actually am as a pregnant lady

Hahahahaha. No.

I mean, some of it has worked out. We’ve remembered to take bump photo most weeks from week 19 onwards – I think we missed 24 and 28, but we did week 29’s today, in fact. See above!

But, on the other hand, most of these haven’t happened.

I took a pregnancy test in the half-light at 6am on a Thursday morning and saw the faintest of faint second lines. I woke my husband up by thrusting the stick in his face and demanding to know if he could see a line as well. We shone a torch on the test for a few minutes before deciding, yes, probably. I took a second test to back it up that afternoon, in a Holiday Inn 200 miles from home because I was working away that night. Romantic, huh?

I’m probably as far away from Earth Mother as we can get right now. For about 16 weeks, all I could eat was cheese sandwiches and Fab ice lollies. Hardly optimal nutrition! I forget to take my pregnancy vitamin quite often.

It’s weird to feel so out of control in your own body. I’m used to being really supple and energetic – I used to take two or three ballet classes a week, for heaven’s sake. Now I can’t pick up a piece of paper that I’ve dropped on the floor, and cleaning the bathroom means I need to lie down for the afternoon. I feel a bit disabled by the stuff that I can’t do. I used to drive hundreds of miles regularly, but a trip to see some friends last weekend had me exhausted until Wednesday.

30 weeks pregnant tomorrow and we still call baby Shroody. It comes from Schrodinger, because before we’d taken the test, it was Schrodinger’s Baby. Then it stuck. It feels like we’re further away from having a name now than we were ten weeks ago! It’s oddly upsetting to me at times. I just want to know who baby is, and I feel like knowing the name would help.

The house is a mess. It turns out that being debilitatingly nauseous for four months means that cleaning is just a pipe dream, and even though I’m much better now, we’re still playing catch up. No, the baby’s room is not ready. Not even close! We are getting a new dishwasher on Thursday though, so that’s exciting.

We do talk to baby and we do take photos sometimes, but we’ve not really done the whole pregnancy journal thing. I’ve started a new bullet journal just for baby stuff in the hope that I can get something together, because my parents kept a lot of pregnancy information from when they were having me and it’s been pretty awesome to read through. Not journals or anything, but medical notes, adverts, that sort of thing – it’s kind of cool to see how things have changed!

There’s still a lot I want to experience during pregnancy – it’s going too fast now! I can’t believe there’s only 10 weeks or so to go. How do I slow time down a bit?!

I can’t be alone in feeling completely different during pregnancy than planned, right? What’s it like for you?


A vegetarian view on those poor piglets

Full disclosure: I am a pregnant vegetarian. I’ve been emotional about this all day. If you fall into either of those categories, maybe skip this.

Maybe you heard this story today. If you don’t want the full details, it’s about some piglets who were saved from a fire, and later served to their firefighters as sausages.

I read the story on the BBC site earlier while looking for something else. I saw the headline and thought, no, that must be wrong. It’s too cruel. I shouldn’t have clicked the link, but I did. And I read it and I had to go to the loos at work and cry.

I became a vegetarian for two reasons. Here they are:

Gingee the brown rabbit

Ned the white rabbit

The brown one is Gingee and the white one is Ned. Gingee is bossy and clever and thinks he’s in charge of everything. Ned is tiny and affectionate and can run faster than the speed of light. And it’s a pure accident of birth that they ended up being born as rabbits who became pets rather than meat rabbits.

When we first got them, people (friends, colleagues, people who thought they were being funny) used to ask me whether I’d ever eat rabbit. What I’d do if rabbit were served to me. What if it were these rabbits? And, at the time, I did eat meat.

I heard that question one too many times. My husband made me a bacon sandwich one day and it hit me what it was. I sobbed for about an hour. “I think you need to go vegetarian,” my husband prompted me. “You really don’t seem comfortable with meat any more.”

He had a point. I still eat fish sometimes (mostly due to research suggesting it’s beneficial during pregnancy), but am generally a very happy veggie now – and, I’m proud to say, so is my husband. He doesn’t eat fish, but he never did. He started by cutting out chicken, and finally cut out all meat in about February this year.

So we’re happy and at peace with our consciences. It doesn’t stop me feeling upset about stories like this, though.

Those poor piglets. They must have feared for their life – twice. How is it humane to save their lives just to kill them later on?

Pigs feel pain. Pigs feel fear. They see their peers being slaughtered first and they are clever. They know what’s going to happen.

Yes, if it weren’t for the demand for bacon/sausages/pork, maybe those pigs wouldn’t even have been born. But, I guess my question is, would I – would you – rather go through a life of fear and pain before dying young and afraid, or just never have to feel anything at all? Because I think I’d rather the latter.

I know I can’t stop pig farming, or sheep farming, or close down abattoirs. I can’t convince everyone to go vegetarian. But I can be a small part of lessening the demand. I can choose to buy Quorn products when I have a craving for meat. I can choose to put my money towards meat free meal options, so I’m not paying towards the slaughter of these animals. When I serve food to friends or family, I can choose to give them delicious vegetarian meals.

It’s not enough. But if enough of us do it, it might be one day.

Pregnancy books for the neurotic

I’m a bookworm, always have been. So naturally, in lead up to taking a pregnancy test, I filled my Amazon basket with pregnancy books, ready to pull the trigger if and when we saw that second line.

Well, we got the second line, and within a few hours I’d placed my order!

I’m an anxious person and always a bit wary of the unknown, but some of these have helped me. I’ve included Amazon links.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting, by Heidi Murkoff

I think this is my husband’s favourite of the pregnancy books – in fact, I think it’s currently over on his side of the bed! Whenever I’m feeling something that’s not great (whether it’s an emotion or a pain), he’ll ask if we should get the book out. He always means this one, and, to be honest, we’re always reassured.

A lot of people describe this book as “scare-mongering” – I’ve even found articles in the New York Times about it! But we’ve found it actually to be the opposite. We didn’t read it cover to cover, but instead have dipped in and out as necessary. It’s got a really comprehensive index, and I like that you can look up pretty much every symptom under the sun and find it in there.

What to Eat When You’re Pregnant and Vegetarian, by Dr Rana Conway

This book is great. I love the meal plans and the explanations of what exactly each nutrient does. To be honest, I think it should be mandatory reading for non-pregnant vegetarians as well.

I had such great ideas of the meals we were going to have to ensure baby got all the necessary nutrients. However, within about a week of reading it, I was struck down with constant nausea that meant I couldn’t eat anything but cheese sandwiches for four months. So, yeah. A great book, but it hasn’t been a brilliant success in my life, I’m afraid!

I will say that, even without having the best pregnancy (or pre-pregnancy, let’s be honest!) diet, baby appears to be thriving. It’s made mostly of sandwiches, apple pies and rice krispies, but it’s active and on track. My new motto is, keep on eating and drinking something, take pregnancy vitamins if you can, and chances are baby will be okay.

Mindful Hypnobirthing, by Sophie Fletcher

My favourite of the pregnancy books: Mindful Hypnobirthing

I think this is my favourite of the pregnancy books. I was getting more and more anxious about the idea of birth, and not being in control, and life in general, to be honest. It was still early enough that I hadn’t contacted anyone about birthing classes, but I was still starting to worry a fair bit.

I did a bit of reading around and found the idea of hypnobirthing quite pleasant. It’s not saying that everything will go perfectly which is pretty important to me. I’m a bit of a control freak.

The breathing exercises and mindfulness exercises are good. I’m finding them rather helpful outside of birth, to be honest. It was good for getting through my last blood test (pregnancy is a great time to develop a fear of needles!), and honestly, the slow breathing is helping with my occasionally spasming back. (Pregnancy is so much fun!)

As you can see, I’m making my way through the book and making plenty of notes. I’m maybe approaching this in a slightly too academic fashion!

We shall see whether I’m able to actually use the tools on the day, but I’m feeling more confident, anyway.

The Expectant Dad’s Survival Guide, by Rob Kemp

Pregnancy books for men mostly seem really macho and this seemed to be an exception. I’ve not read this one (it was for my husband, obviously) but he enjoyed it! He did keep on coming up with product recommendations afterwards – “We want rubber tyres on the pushchair!” “Three wheel pushchairs are easier to steer!” etc. Which, considering I hadn’t even thought about any of those things so early on, was quite useful.

So, yeah. Not a bad little selection – I’m sure there’ll be more in the remaining months!