pregnancy crazies

I cried this morning because I left my Mocha Frappuccino that Boyfriend bought me as a treat in the fridge at work on Saturday, and I just remembered it and I am sure that someone will have taken it by the time I get in this afternoon. I don’t know why I cried about this. I do really really really really want it though. I’m pretty sure if I get there and someone has taken it I might end up crying at work. Good lord.

eBay is amazing and I love crochet

Dwellstudio Baby Bouncer

I like to think I’m inspiring excellent taste in my baby.

I like most of my things to be stylish, but also have basically no money so am required to forego most of the shiny-beautiful prints, sleek minimalism and ultra-modern designed baby stuff that actually appeals to me in favour of whatever is cheap. However I am at least attempting to cling on to my own aesthetic style in most of the things I’m buying, and prevent my house from becoming a complete clone of the Early Learning Centre. I’ve been extremely picky on clothes so far and have all but eliminated most shades of pastel blue and things with tractors on (this is honestly something I’ve never understood… do we have a shortage of competent farmers and so feel the need to raise an entire generation of them? WHY do small boys love tractors so much? Am I going to be seriously depriving my child through lack of tractor provision? I wish I knew). I’m at least attempting coordinating colours and nothing overwhelmingly gendered. That last is not because I have some moral objection to telling a child what sex they are and therefore what gender they’ll be considered unless they express a contrasting preference, but partly because most of the ‘boy’ aimed clothes and toys just don’t appeal to me, and partly because until Bellydweller decides to grace us with his presences I can’t be 100% certain he will be a ‘him’ at all. Two sonographers agreed that he was and so do I, unless it’s a girl with a tail, but you never can tell.

Anyway, the point is, I was having difficulties finding a bouncy chair thingy which met my ridiculous criteria and was also affordable. I was on the verge of throwing it all in and spending £150 on one of those mental swingy super ones. Then I found this one on eBay, second hand, for £15.99, being sold by a couple who live in a city about 30 minutes away. I’ll admit right now I barely looked at the reviews because I liked the look of it so much. I did check them out a tiny bit and by all accounts it’s a perfectly adequate bouncer and a whole bunch of people were thrilled with it even though it cost them £70, so I figured I can’t go far wrong if I’m paying less than a quarter of that, and I bought it. It’s been used for 2 children, but you wouldn’t know it – the cover is removable and washable and it’s clearly been looked after. It has an mp3 docking station which I doubt I’ll ever use, but it’s a nice feature. It also vibrates. I am super happy and I love eBay so much.

Owlbear! (I really hope the owl is the same size as the baby's head)

Owlbear! (I really hope the owl is the same size as the baby’s head)

In other news, I’ve been teaching myself to crochet. My first, rather terrible, project was a small baby blanket which ended up a lot smaller than intended (despite using 3 whole balls of wool) and also only used one stitch which was somewhat unsuitable. That took me over a month to finish and to be honest I very almost gave up and never tried again.

In a moment of insanity I went and bought 3 large balls of brown and cream wool, plus 6 balls of bright green and purple wool because I decided I wanted to make a hat with bear ears and a blanket for myself. I started the blanket and had much more success. I think I liked the colours more this time and chose a stitch that worked up much quicker. I then took my brown wool and a vague idea of what I wanted the hat to look like to work with me, and made Baby Bear a hat with earflaps over the course of one 8-hour shift. It’s not perfect and I am apparently rubbish at following patterns – it came out of a combination of about 5 different patterns because I kept getting bored – but something has clicked, and now I Understand Crochet. I am possibly turning into a mad cat lady because all I can think about now is wool. I’m feeling a desperate urge to make a proliferation of rugs in different stripey patterns, so that my house will look like actual mad people live there. I don’t even care.

Baby on a Budget – My Pre-Birth List

As mentioned previously, there’s a whoooole lot of this kind of list on the internet and you’ll probably get everyone and their mum trying to tell you what you need and don’t need. I like reading lists like this because I enjoy torturing myself about the things I will never be able to afford, so I decided to make a list of all the things that I have decided I need before Baby Bear decides to make his appearance. Although they might not be essentials, in all cases, it’s stuff I think I’d like to have to prevent me from going mad. This is only stuff I plan to buy before the baby and is probably not a definitive list, but it covers most of my major purchases so far, and those I have planned.

Something to Sleep In

Figured perhaps the floor wasn't going to be an adequate sleeping arrangement.

Figured perhaps the floor wasn’t going to be an adequate sleeping arrangement.

Moses basket, cot, cardboard box…I bought a really snazzy rockable co-sleeper crib second hand from eBay for £25, and picked it up from its previous owner so no postage cost. It looks a bit like the one on the left (that particular one is available on Amazon for about £75) except they painted it a really funky bluey purple colour so my kid is going to be the coolest. They also included a mattress, bumper, and a super cute green sheep blanket. I liked the idea of co-sleeping, but felt better about having a little separate bed for him, partly to make the transition to a bigger cot easier. This style of crib can stand alone, or you can remove one side and use something like a couple of ratchet straps to secure it tightly to your bed. Ours has an adjustable base, so all we’ll need to do is make sure the mattresses are the same height and pushed snugly together (rolled up towels or pillows will probably be doing this job for me).

My younger sister’s daughter has just about grown out of her cot, which I believe is the SNIGLAR model from Ikea, available for £30, so this will be a hand-me-down affair once we grow out of the crib. I’m also likely to eventually invest in a travel cot, both for actual travelling and also for when he’s a bit bigger but not ready to move out of our bedroom yet, since it might be a pain to drag the ‘real’ cot around the house. This one is a favourite right now – its £34.99 (normally £59.99 but £25 off at Kiddicare), has a bassinet attachment for very small babies, looks cool and has good reviews.

Bedding and blankets – I’ve crocheted a small blanket myself and bought a few more, again Kiddicare has been my favourite for many different styles. I figure it’ll be hard to have too many blankets and they are so super cute. There’s good deals everywhere for cot sheets – these Jersey cotton sheets are a £8.99 from Amazon. I bought this bedding pack from Kiddicare for £11.99, mostly because it had a crocodile on it. Kiddicare also has the best deals I’ve been able to find on things like knitted blankets – this Chunky Knit pram blanket is just as nice as the Mamas & Papas or boutiquey type ones that sell for £30+, and is only £12.99. It’s also worth visiting the shop – I found an incredibly soft fleecey-type square blanket with a dinosaur print for less than £5.

Something to Sit In While Driving

They're actually much bigger than you might expect.

They’re actually much bigger than you might expect

The baby won’t be driving, I hope, but apparently they still need something to sit in. Extremely fortunately for us, we bought a 5 door hatchback Renault Megane over Christmas to replace my tiny Daewoo Matiz (if you are not aware, this is basically a toy car and should only be driven by very small people who don’t expect to be able to carry luggage or passengers over about 50lbs in weight). This is great because the back seat actually has plenty of room for a nice reclining combination car seat. The one I chose was a Nania Cosmo SP, which are on Amazon for about £55 in various colours. This is a group 0-1 seat so suitable from birth to about 4-5 years (18kgs weight limit). It can be both rear-facing and forward facing. I found this on eBay for £39.99 with free P&P. The listing said it had ‘very minor fabric faults’, which I couldn’t find. It comes in a bunch of colours and I really really wanted the green one but Boyfriend said no 😦 Ours is a sort of coffee-and-chocolate combo which is OK I guess.

The downside of internet shopping is obviously that you can’t try it in your car before you make a decision. That does suck. Especially with the combination carseats, because in order to have them in the rear-facing position, they have to be reclined all the way, which means they do take up a lot of space. But, most places will let you return them, and you could always go to a shop and have a look at the model you’re thinking of buying, and maybe measure it or actually give it a go. It’s probably also worth keeping an eye out at places like Asda and Argos for any offers they may have – my sister has a similar Nania car seat which they bought from Asda for about £30.

Some Kind of Transport

I can see why it's called 'Jet', it definitely looks like one.

I can see why it’s called ‘Jet’, it definitely looks like one.

I am not planning on buying a pram/stroller/buggy straight away, because when Bellydweller is small it seems to me that it will be easier to just carry him rather than a large, complex vehicle as well. I have done some stroller-weighing though, and my top contenders so far are the Kiddicare Jet Stroller for £34.99, or if I feel like splashing out a bit, one of these Chicco London Strollers for £54.99. The Kiddicare Jet is basic, only comes in two colours (red or blue) but a good price and they are really lightweight. The Chicco London ones are a similar kind of weight but look a bit more stylish and also come with those little leg holder things (which apparently is a good thing, maybe it stops them from falling out?) Both these are suitable from birth and up to about 3 years. Unless I can find a great deal on a second hand one from eBay, one of those is my plan. I did also look at the Obaby Strollers which look really nice and have a lot of colour options, and can also be found on Amazon for very reasonable prices, but they are so much heavier than strollers of a comparable size, and I think I would struggle. I’m a small person but I’m used to lifting and carrying quite a bit, and they were still difficult to lift for me – I can only imagine what they would be like with a baby in as well.

The paisley makes it more effective.

The paisley makes it more effective.

As a replacement for an immediate pram/stroller, I have been given a Mothercare Two Position Carrier (£19.99), a promise to borrow two Calin Bleu wrap slings (cheapest one £34.99), and plan to purchase one of these gorgeous Mei Tais from Daisy Baby. The Mothercare carrier is not the most stylish of things, and also has that annoying design thing where the crotch is really thin and the baby’s legs hang down and apparently that’s not great. I used it a few times with my niece and I remember it being quite a strain on my back. The wrap-style slings look awesome and I’ve heard really great things, but I want a structured carrier partly for ease of use, but also so that Boyfriend would also be able to easily use it (he was a bit worried about getting to grips with learning to use the wraps). The Daisy Baby mei tais come in about a million different patterns and they are so cute, and also only £22.99. They have really good reviews and lots of babywearing type online communities suggest this style as a sort of halfway point between a ‘proper’ wrap-type sling and one of those super controlling strapped up carriers.

Something to Wear

Dinosaurs. That is all.

Dinosaurs. That is all.

I’ve bought various cutesy stuff but I’ve tried to buy the more expensive/nicer clothes in larger sizes so that he’ll actually get to wear them for more than a couple of weeks. It took a while, but I found a very reasonable 4 pack of newborn onesies for £5.65 on Amazon. 100% cotton and plain white – I’m considering dying them to make them a bit more exciting. I also found some second hand clothes at a Sue Ryder shop for 75p each, so got a couple of bodysuits, feetie pyjamas, a hoodie and a hat for about £2.50. If you can find them on offer, Boots does some very cute little clothing packs, some with hats. Most places seem to suggest at least 6 vests, 6 onesies, 6 sleepsuits, 4 daytime outfits and 1 or 2 hats. It’s worth bearing in mind that clothes are everybody’s favourite thing to buy for a new baby so you’re likely to receive a fair few outfits.

I also bought some of those cool bandana type neckscarves that act as bibs while looking more fashionable. These Funky Giraffe ones are £11 for a pack of 5 and are really cute – lots of styles available. If you can find somewhere that stocks the Nutmeg range by Morrisons they are even more reasonable, with packs of 2 for £2.00 (I bought just one pack and I’m regretting not buying lots more, because they are really nice, both in quality and design). I have not worried too much about socks because as far as I can tell they just fall off, so instead have focused on finding things that already have feet on them. Baby tights exist and I have no idea why they should just be for girls, I’m pretty sure he won’t know any different. I am also not bothering with scratch mitts, because in my experience all they seem to do is fall off.

Bathing Paraphernalia

Also for getting a tan on the beach.

Also for getting a tan on the beach.

Instead of an actual baby bath, on my mum’s advice I have gone for a little bath cradle instead. She said there’s nothing wrong with a baby bath, but filling them and carrying them around can be a pain, and the bath support/cradle/sun-lounger type things are a lot lighter, fit in any bath and some sinks, and mean you don’t necessarily have to wash the baby one-handed. They’re also supposed to be pretty good if your baby turns out to be very wriggly. This one can be found at Kiddicare for £8.99.

Owl Towel. Hoooo.

Owl Towel. Hoooo.

Hooded towels are also supposed to be pretty awesome for easy + fun bathtimes. This one is only £6.40 and has an elephant and a giraffe on it. This one has an owl face on it so although it’s £18.00 I will probably buy it because things with owl faces have an inexplicable draw to me. Baby toiletries and stuff are also pretty necessary, but there are a lot of packs that will come with samples of these and when the baby is super new I figure he won’t need much more than warm water and cotton wool. I like this temperature taking bath duck for £2.79, especially as Boyfriend is very concerned about getting bath temperatures right. Morrisons have stuff like Baby Lotion for 36p per 500ml – the Johnson’s equivalent is normally at least £2.00. This Healthcare Kit by Tommee Tippee is also on my list as it knocks off a whole bunch of stuff for just £10.00 – nail scissors, clippers, hairbrush, thermometer, toothbrush, aspirator, etc. Some of it won’t last, I’m sure, but at least I’ll have something for the first few weeks and I can always replace the stuff I feel I absolutely need with something more robust later on.

Things to Contain/Deal With/Dispose of the Poo

Shouldn't this come with some kind of biohazard warning label?

Shouldn’t this come with some kind of biohazard warning label?

So apparently, newborns shit a whole lot. The small person inside me won’t learn to control his excitement/excrement for quite possibly another 3 years at least. Therefore I’m in need of things to hold it, clean it up with, and throw it away in. The nappies I’ve chosen are Kiddicare’s Just4Bums (£35.00 for 2 packs of 196) mostly due to extreme good value (covered at length in the Baby Bargains post below). I’ll be buying a bin with a tight-fitting lid – possibly not one actually marketed as a ‘nappy bin’ since a lot of those seem overpriced, way too ‘cute’ (you’re not putting sunshine and rainbows in there) or actually not do the job I would imagine is intended, that is, containing the smell for at least a day or two. Instead, I’m considering heading to Wilko and trying out a few like this fun turquoise one for £6.00 to see which has the best lid. Nappy bags also seem a good idea for venturing out and about, but it’s likely I’ll just be using plastic bags to line the bin while at home.

For cleaning purposes, Morrisons Savers wipes are £5.52 for a box of 12 72-packs. That’s 864 wipes. That is a whole lot. (These can also be bought individually from Morrisons for 46p a pack, which works out the same). There seems to be mixed feelings on using wipes for newborns – for one thing that meconium stuff is meant to be so sticky that mere wipes couldn’t possibly cope – but I know I’ll need them at some point, so why not stock up now? For nappy rash cream, Amazon seems to be the best bet – Sudocrem is £5.70 for 400g and is my choice purely because my mum tells me it’s the best. I may experiment if I happen to see other brands on offer.

If I hadn’t got my free Boots Parenting Club changing bag, this 5pc Baby Changing Bag Set is £13.99, comes in a variety of colours, and has a whole bunch of stuff with it. Most changing bags come with a basic changing mat, but for home use I chose something similar to this Kiddicare Funky Friends changing mat for £6.39 (mine I think is slightly different but it’s the same style and was a similar price, and also from Kiddicare). My criteria for a home changing mat was one with nice deep sides to prevent rolling around, because then it will also be useful when the baby is small as a sort of bed bumper if he’s ever in my bed. For even cheaper options, try Asda or Morrisons – this Red Kite Baby Changing Mat is £5.00 from Asda, and at our local Morrisons a while back there was a plain but cute changing mat for a similar price.

Awesome Baby Offers and Free Baby Stuff in the UK

We don’t have a lot of money. We might have two incomes but on minimum wage and living in a pretty expensive city, it doesn’t leave a lot of disposable income. So although I would really love to buy organic nappies made of soy milk and angel breath, and one of those prams that looks like a spaceship, I’m relying an awful lot on stuff that is free or heavily discounted.

Although there’s still two and a half months to go, I have been trying to Get Organised (note capitals because this is Very Important) and make sure we have most of the stuff we’ll need in the immediate aftermath of impending Babypocalypse. There’s a lot of lists around the place about what stuff to get, one of my sisters sent me a spreadsheet which had been passed to her by her best friend and that’s been very useful, but you can also find a dozen of these on the internet. I particularly liked Lucie’s List, even though it is aimed at people in the USA, because it gives some really great advice along with some product recommendations for different budgets. I also enjoyed The Pregnant Chicken’s Baby on a Budget – The Barest Bare Essentials, although again all products linked are for the US and may not be available easily in the UK. They’re still good to get some ideas.

Although not a comprehensive list of all the things you’re likely to want/need, here’s some of the really good deals I’ve found and taken advantage of. They’re all available in the UK.

Free Changing Bag + Extra Advantage Points (Boots Parenting Club)

It's freeeeee (with a Pampers nappy purchase)

It’s freeeeee (with a Pampers nappy purchase)

Join the Boots Parenting Club (you need to be an advantage card holder, or you need to sign up for the card, and you sort of ‘upgrade’ your membership to the status of Parent, but both of these things are free anyway) and you can get a free changing bag worth £30 when you buy a pack of Pampers nappies. You also get 10 advantage card points for every £1 you spend on baby products. Both offers are also redeemable online once you receive your card and your little welcome pack. And they send you a cute little magazine every now and again with more coupons and product comparisons and all that stuff. If I’m honest, most of it didn’t interest me and I likely won’t use the majority of the coupons, but I needed a changing bag and this one is fairly neutral and was also the cheapest way of getting one.

You’ll need to buy an Essentials Pack of Pampers nappies like this one. I had already bought a whole boatload of nappies (see below) so didn’t really need any more, but figured, what can it hurt? It’s £6.99. The sensitive ones work too.

2 for £35 on Giant Packs of Just4Bums Nappies at Kiddicare

Could possibly insulate the roof with this many nappies.

Could possibly insulate the roof with this many nappies.

Kiddicare is super awesome. The shops are really fun and they have an online store as well. I didn’t go there intending to spend that much money but came away with over £70 worth of crazy good stuff, including two packs of their own brand of nappies. I can’t give a full review just yet, as I don’t have the baby around and Boyfriend refuses to be a test subject, but the reviews online are all extremely good, and they’ve won a whole bunch of awards. I bought the Size 2 (Mini), which goes up to 13lbs. My mum assures me he will not be over 13lbs by 2 months old, so unless I am actually giving birth to an elephant I’m hoping to be OK. Each pack has 196 nappies, so with this offer you’re spending approx 8p per nappy. A jumbo pack of Pampers Size 2 Newborn at Boots works out at approx 13p per nappy, and Boots own brand of Newborn nappies are approx 11p, so this is a pretty great deal. If you order 2 or more packs online you also get free delivery. When I bought them in-store, I also got a free sample of the next size up and a voucher for some money off if I buy them again.

They’re pretty competitively priced even when not on offer, so if I get on with them I’ll probably carry on buying them. The next size up (for babies up to 20lbs) comes in packs of 180, and when not on offer the packs are £19.99. That’s about 12p per nappy, which is cheaper by 3p a nappy than Boots brand nappies in the same size, and they come in bigger packs so you don’t have to keep buying them. Not bad.

Our one problem was finding somewhere to store them while we don’t really need them. We have settled on the boot of the car for now.

On That Note… A Whole Bunch of Stuff from Kiddicare

I could actually become a Kiddicare spokesperson, in fact I should probably write to them and get sponsored, because I could probably talk about them all day. I LOVE how much is available, I love the layout of their shops, and the prices are phenomenal on their own branded products which are really high quality. Unfortunately we don’t have a store close to us, but when visiting family I actually insisted on a day trip to Cribbs Causeway in Bristol (which is still about an hour’s drive from them) so I could go there. It was everything I ever dreamed and more. They stock a lot of Morrisons brand items (they have some kind of partnership) which is pretty great because Morrisons is the other place I really love to shop. Morrisons now has a kid’s clothing range called Nutmeg and I cannot get over how cute these things are. They also have some very reasonable and damn good baby toiletries in the Morrisons Savers range. Baby shampoo for 15p.

Visit a shop if you get a chance – I wanted to try out some stroller/buggy options and see how heavy they were, and they have a whole TON set up for you to try. They also have demo models of things like bouncer chairs, high chairs and travelcots so you can have a look at how big something is, if you are like me and are poor at spacial visualisation.

Free Mum to Be Pack from Emma’s Diary

I don't think the baby is included.

I don’t think the baby is included.

Every day I get approximately 4.5 thousand emails about pregnancy, babies, baby offers or baby anteaters. I don’t know how I managed to get this one because I didn’t know about this site, but I have been extremely free with my email address of late in hopes of getting ALL THE THINGS that are on offer or being given away. This, it turns out, is a pretty decent strategy.

I have no idea what’s in this pack as I haven’t gone to collect mine yet, but all you have to do is create a free account at Emma’s Diary (I don’t know who Emma is, I haven’t worked out if she is an actual person who had a baby once and wrote about it, or just some kind of Cunning Marketing Ploy like those people on the BT adverts that you get really attached to then remember are not real) and you get a voucher to print off and take to Argos or Boots and get a pack of things For Freeee. I didn’t see any reason not to since you don’t have to buy anything and at this point I’ll take anything that’s free, if it turns out to be made of broken glass or infected with anthrax I can always just not use it. There are a lot of other contests and prize draws and that kind of thing linked to from the site – some of them are probably not worth it as you have to give them your mobile number or address and will probably be bombarded with brochures for timeshares/classic cars/luxurious holidays in That Bit of Benidorm where the Average Age is 102, but there’s a couple that are very straightforward and just involve you giving them your name and clicking a button. I like buttons. Lovely, no-strings-attached buttons.

Half Price Name Brand Assorted Goodies at TryItClub

What will we do with all the things?!

What will we do with all the things?!

TryItClub is basically a sort of pay to receive samples type of site. All the products are half what you’d normally pay for them, with only £2.99 delivery. It’s probably not worth it if you only wanted two or three specific things – I’d probably head to Boots or something when they had a decent offer on, 3 for 2 tends to be pretty good, and get the advantage card points at the same time with my snazzy Parenting Club membership – but the selection packs seem like a good deal if you want to trial a bunch of stuff for pretty cheap. The Selection Try It Pack includes 21 different products of varying brands, like nappies, wipes, nappy cream, antiseptic handwash, baby lotion, nursing pads, pregnancy vitamin supplements, baby bottles and a soother, and costs £47.96 when all these products would normally be £92.54. You get a selection of brands, from the ordinary stuff like Huggies and Johnson’s to the more specialist organic type things like Naty. It seems to me to be a great chance to have different brands of stuff just in case your baby decides they really don’t like whatever brand you decided on and just being in the presence of Pampers or Bepanthen or whatever makes them break out in purple spots and grow horns. No really – apparently it’s a very serious problem.

This way, at least you’ll have a couple of back-ups if it turns out that your baby has a bad reaction to Huggies, or thinks the bottles you bought taste like poo. You’ve got a couple of options and can experiment cheaply instead of having to invest in order to try something that might not work for you. If it turns out that the only nappies Bellydweller will wear are the organic imported cashmere hypoallergenic £900 a pack ones, then who am I to deny him (oh please please please don’t be true).

Free Baby/Mum to Be Packs from Bounty

OK, OK, I know there is a bit of controversy over Bounty as a company (see this article from the Guardian if you have no idea what I’m on about) and I couldn’t agree more that what they do is pretty horrid. However at this point I can’t afford to turn down free things for the sake of my principles, unfortunately, nor am I ever likely to do so because it’s free. If it was a case of having to buy something from them in order to get this free stuff, I probably wouldn’t. But I kind of figure that if anything they lose something by giving me free stuff, and by wasting their marketing resources on me for stuff I’ll never buy. I’ve also given strict instructions to Boyfriend that he is not to let anyone but him take photos of me or make me sign anything, and Jaime is pretty good at not wanting to do what other people tell him to. So – they give me stuff, I don’t give them anything, and we’ll be rude right back at their representatives if they try any of their shit. Sounds like a win-win.

Book Review – ‘Expecting a Baby?’, Dr Penelope Law

Dr Penelope Law

Kindle version £10.80, illustrated hardcover £12.00

I am a massive reader so as soon as I found out and we’d decided (well… ‘decided’) to keep the baby, I got on     Amazon and found some books to read. I have also subscribed to various forums and websites for advice, but noticed that a great deal was tailored to a US audience. When it comes to medical advice and information about hospital procedures, this is obviously pretty important, so I needed specific information about what to expect in the UK.

I chose Expecting a Baby? as my first purchase over What to Expect When You’re Expecting, which I know is more famous and is the one I had heard of. When I looked up reviews however, they were definitely mixed and it seemed to me that it wasn’t the sort of book that I would find helpful. I’m the first to admit that I am very headstrong, reasonably scientific minded, but open to new ideas. I’ve never liked being condescended to or told what to do, so I wanted some actual objective information that would let me make up my own mind, and this book was perfect for that.

The book focuses mostly on pregnancy and labour, although there is a section about the immediate aftermath and the first few weeks of newborn care. Dr Law writes with authority, in a way that is caring but without that sickly sweet tone that really gets on my nerves after a while. There’s a lot of really practical suggestions in here, such as good stretches to do while pregnant, diet suggestions, techniques for labour and more. Dr Law also does a great job of comparing different approaches without appearing biased. To my delight, she does not bother to sugar coat the fact that there is no proof at all to certain ‘medicines’ like homeopathy, but (I think) also avoids being insulting about methods she clearly does not support. This, I think, is the most helpful approach – it bothers me that some authors feel the need to use tentative language rather than just coming out and saying that there is no evidence at all for something, and that effectively it’s up to you if you try it but it’s going to do about as much good as taking a load of Smarties, except without the deliciousness and exciting colours.

The book takes you through advantages and disadvantages of the various options you have for your care, like location of birth (home birth, birth centre, hospital ward) and pain relief options, in a really clear and easy to understand way. Although it’s less common in the UK I have seen a lot of books/websites that seemed really really against having a baby anywhere but a hospital, this one is definitely not and gives you the pros and cons in an honest way. It also changed my mind about certain things like water births – I fully admit that not having read much about them, I assumed it was a sort of fad-ish, hippy thing to go for and that I’d feel uncomfortably even bringing up the idea, even though I knew my sister had one with her second child and loved it. After actually reading about them and seeing there was quite a bit of support for the method, beyond the kind of ‘it’s so natural!’ thing, it’s something I’ll actually consider, assuming it’s an option.

There are also some very sensitive chapters on dealing with miscarriage, stillbirth and postnatal depression. I’ll admit I skimmed them because I felt like it wouldn’t do me much good at this point to dwell on any of those topics, but I know they’re there if the unimaginable happens.

I admit I haven’t watched much of One Born Every Minute, but perhaps if you have you’ll like the fact that it’s connected in some way I haven’t quite figured out. It’s got the title on the cover, anyway.

I bought the Kindle edition because I don’t like waiting for post, and I can definitely recommend it, though perhaps only if you have a Kindle Fire rather than the original with an e-ink display. The book hasn’t been reformatted for digital display so what you’re seeing as far as I can tell is direct copies of the pages of the book, complete with little colourful insert boxes and full-page images. These look lovely on my Kindle Fire HD and the touchscreen means it’s not too annoying to zoom in and out or scroll through the pages. I don’t think this would work terribly well on the original though, but perhaps there is a different version of it? I’m not sure.

I’d definitely recommend this as a basic guide to what to expect through pregnancy and while in labour. It’s made a good complement to the advice I’ve had from friends and family, and also the hospital’s video series my midwife recommended.

The pregnancy story

So, first, how I found out I was pregnant, the principle players, etc etc.

I’m 22 and have been working random jobs since graduating in 2012. Around April 2013 I began seeing an old friend from one of my old jobs, Jaime. It got serious pretty quick. In the summer, I moved back to be closer to my family – around 3 hours away from the city I’d lived in for 4 years and where Jaime lived. It sucked big time. I had a horrible job and didn’t know anybody.

In August, I moved back and started working for the Youth Hostel Association, and living with Jaime and our housemate Susan. We’ve had a crazy couple of months as I needed to get another job just so I was making enough. I’ve been taking the contraceptive pill since I was 15, so pregnancy worries were quite far from my mind. Even so, when I missed a period in September I took a pregnancy test about 10 days after I’d expected it. Negative. OK, no worries – I was stressed, not eating great and it’s only to be expected, right?

Through all of November and December, I didn’t have a single day off. So I was pretty exhausted, and you know, not really thinking about much except working all the time. Like normal, I ran a couple of pill packs together. I felt myself getting a bit bloated, but then, I’d been eating McDonalds more than usual since it was the only place open when I was starving after work, and on most days I didn’t feel like cooking myself anything particularly nutritious. I had a couple of dizzy spells, but like everyone else, thought I was just knackered (which I was). I got into the habit of napping during the day, but hey, if you work from 7.30am almost every morning and only get a few hours break before having to go back until 10pm, you’re probably going to want to nap!

I missed another period in December, and finally started thinking maybe something was a little weird. My normally nearly-concave stomach was getting round and weirdly hard. I poked it a lot. My real overwhelming fear was some kind of tumour. I tried not to think about it too much.

On the day before New Year’s Eve I darted into Superdrug and bought a Clearblue test. Jaime was at work. The vertical line meaning ‘positive’ was very dark. I think I said ‘fuck’ mostly, then called my mum.

A few hours later I went to Jaime’s work and told him. We had a confused conversation because we hardly knew any details. We discussed all our options. Jaime for some reason kept smiling while I felt alternately like crying and screaming. I had my last cigarette then, although abortion was still on the table at that point as we had no idea how far along I was.

After I’d worked my shift (a little bit like a zombie), we went home and talked some more. We thought seriously about keeping the baby. I knew my mum’s honest advice would be not to, although because she is fantastic, she’ll always let me make my own decision. There was a great big logical part of me saying I could not possibly do this, I am irresponsible and often have Skittles for dinner. But another bit thought how it would be pretty great, how Jaime was a great partner, and if we put our minds to it we could be pretty good parents.

The next day I made an appointment with my doctor. I’d expected to have to take another test, but instead, she lay me down and felt around my belly, straight away saying she could feel pregnancy. She told me she would estimate 20 weeks, and if that was right, a termination was not an option. She called the Early Pregnancy Unit to try and schedule a scan to confirm. Later, I got a call saying I was too far for the Early Pregnancy Unit, and instead I’d been referred to the midwifery unit at the hospital.

The midwife I saw agreed with the 20 week estimate. I heard the heartbeat for the first time on the 2nd of January, three days after I found out I was pregnant at all. Then, about a week later, I was scheduled for an ultrasound (the midwife had marked it ‘urgent’…)

On the 11th of January I had my 20 week scan, skipping the normal 12 week one. This confirmed that I was 20 weeks 4 days pregnant. The baby actually looked like a baby, not a peanut. It was also a boy baby, with a spine and a face and everything. Before the ultrasound I’d been told to drink 2 pints of water and hold it, so by the time I was sitting in the waiting room I was really, really needing to pee. The ultrasound technician let me go after seeing my ‘very full bladder’. I pretty much ran. Then we got right back into it.

Ultrasound 2                         Ultrasound 1

This was really the point it became real for me. We’re going to have a baby boy. My due date is the day before my birthday. It’s all real and happening in a few months, which is pretty crazy.