Thanks so much for all of the support on Growing a human: Part One – it really means a lot, to me and also that I can help other women. Us girls gotta stick together!
The second Trimester
Ok, so I wasn’t off to the best start with my first trimester, but as with most situations: it can only get better! I have really enjoyed weeks 13 to 26, feeling more like ‘me’ and just generally happier. I had finally become comfortable with the notion that I was going to be a Mama (I prefer it to Mum, it just sounds better! ha) and I felt really passionate about being a ‘cool mom’, not like the regular moms. 10 points if you got the Mean Girls reference!
When I started to look for cool maternity brands, I stumbled across Cult of Youth – an indie jewellery brand with a rock ‘n’ roll edge (think skulls and lightning bolts!) by baby mama Kelly Seymour. Cult of Youth kindly let me borrow a Mother locket and Mother signet ring to shoot with and I’ve got my eye on the Mama nameplate necklace. Love the gothic typography mixed with the delicate chain and metals!
Baby on board
You might have seen a few ladies in London with a ‘Baby on board’ badge or even just noticed the priority seating on the tube and buses. Expectant Mums can order a badge for free from TFL and although I thought it was a bit cringey at first, I’ve found it really useful.
At first I was too ‘shy’ to ask for a seat when I got on the tube, but ever since I’ve been working 9.30-6 in an office I’ve been feeling more confident about asking. That’s what the priority seat is there for, right!? I mean, there have been a few awkward moments – people are so rude on the Central and Northern lines! Two women sitting in the opposite priority seats both ignored me when I asked if I could sit down, with another lady mid carriage kindly offering me her seat. This really surprised me, because of everyone they should be sympathetic – what happened to women sticking together? Men seem to be better at offering a seat to a pregnant lady, although a couple of rush hour suits did huff at me. Am I alone in thinking that if you don’t want to move, simply don’t sit in the priority seats?
Alive and kicking
The day before our 20 weeks scan I felt the first kicks! It was the weirdest feeling – I thought I had imagined it. I was having a really bad day where I just wanted to cry and stay in bed, and I think the baby sensed I needed a little pick me up. The next day we had our 2nd scan (which was a lot more exciting than the 1st) – Jack & I held hands as the Sonographer basically did a tour of the baby; checking their heart, lungs, stomach, bones etc. It was really fascinating, although a little bit weird when she pressed a button and all of a sudden we could see their skeleton! But they seem to be healthy and happy – the best kinda news.
We didn’t find out the gender of the baby – we had decided quite early on that we wanted to keep it as a surprise, although it was really tempting to ask once we were in the room! ha It doesn’t really matter to us whether we’re having a boy or a girl and we thought we might as well stick with the theme of surprises because this pregnancy has been a big one! It’s also been nice to not start imagining them as a ‘he’ or ‘she’ – I wouldn’t want to dress a girl all in pink anyway. Apparently not knowing makes you push harder too, so it’ll be a bit of motivation incase I need it in labour.
Back at the 12 week scan in January I had my routine blood tests, but there seemed to be a problem with the sample that confirmed my blood type so I had to go back a few weeks later to give more blood. It’s a good job that I’m hot on my pregnancy admin because it turns out that I’m O negative, which isn’t normally an issue… unless you’re a pregnant lady. Affectionately known as Rhesus Negative, O negative is a feisty blood type that will ‘attack’ foreign blood cells… like a baby with a different blood type. But the nurse reassured me it’s not something to panic about as the chances are that my pregnancy will go ahead with no complications and it won’t affect me or the baby. But if I do have any bleeding (pre or during birth), then my body would start to produce the anti-bodies but I’m booked in for a jab to prevent that happening. Still, I just find that so fascinating. Science is crazy!
Self employed Mama
Around week 20 I started to think about the headache that is ‘Maternity Pay’. As a freelancer, I’m not entitled to statutory maternity pay (which is usually the standard for women in full-time employment), but instead can claim Maternity Allowance which is roughly based on how much National Insurance you’ve paid. There is a ‘test period’ based on your due date which you use to support your application, and I found this Maternity Allowance calculator via the Gov website which can help you estimate how much MA you might be entitled to and for how long. To be honest, it’s not a huge amount of money BUT it’s better than nothing if you need a bit of financial support whilst you adjust to being a new Mum.
Typically, my situation wasn’t totally straight forward, as I had been employed (part time) for a section of my test period. All of the information I could find on the internet covered scenarios for women that are either employed OR self employed – not both. I’ve filled my form out with as much information as I can/think is relevant and I’ll let you know what happens when I get the verdict back.
During Trimester One I’d been so concerned about how a lot was going to change, and stubborn in the sense that I wanted to try and have some control over our future. Jack asked me if I wanted to move out of London (as that’s what everyone else seemed to be doing) but I was determined that I wanted to stay – I love London and it was the first place that ever really felt like home for me. But one day I was walking through Shoreditch (one of my fave areas) when I just had a weird feeling that I didn’t feel the same way about it anymore. Why was I hanging onto the idea of living in London? Purely selfish reasons. Definitely not because it was the best option financially – we’d never be able to afford to buy a house if we kept throwing all of our money on London rent. And a lot of my friends (that I was worried about losing contact with) were also choosing to move out of London (to Margate, Warrington, Canada), so who was I really staying for? Not the baby, that’s for sure. (P.S. I’m not knocking anyone who raises a family in London – originally a country bumpkin, having a baby in a city just isn’t for me)
So, the search for a new home outside of London began because London is very expensive and so are babies! We knew that I would need to take some time out to look after the little one/ figure out how to balance a baby and freelancing, so we needed to start cutting some costs – rent was the easiest place to start. When we started looking outside of London, rents seemed to HALF in price!
How to choose a new place to call home? Well, Jack would still continue to work in London and commute, and I wanted the option to go into London whenever I missed it/needed to for work so we needed good train links – fast and not too crazy prices (if that even exists when it comes to travel in the UK!?). We also thought about being closer to our families – we’re both from the East (near to Cambridge), so it made sense to look North of London so they could come to visit more often/ baby sit haha So that was us saying bye bye to our living by the sea idea – the Margate dream. We started looking in Essex (Chelmsford, Colchester) and Suffolk (Ipswich) and after adding up all of the pros and cons of the areas (prices, travel, vibe, amenities) we booked a train to visit Colchester. First impressions were good – a medium town with history, lots of greenery and only an hour on the train from London. And so the search for our new flat began… until next time ha
Aches and pains. I’m definitely starting to feel the effects of my body changing, as my organs have been slowly squished up into my chest. My back has been quite achey and my feet have been swelling up if I walk too much.
Nose bleeds. I’m a bit over these now – If I stand up too fast or sometimes for no apparent reason whatsoever I’m reaching to stuff a tissue up my nose. Don’t let anyone tell you that pregnancy is not rock ‘n’ roll.
Lumps and bumps. Ok, let’s start on a positive here – my bump finally arrived at week 18, woo! And although I’d pretty much burst out of most of my wardrobe by week 20, I am loving having a bump. I’ve been self conscious of my stomach for a couple of years now (after piling on the pounds after Uni) but now it’s round for a good reason… a baby ha I’m determined to still dress like me whilst showing off the bump – more on that soon. Oh, but then there’s the lumps. Won’t go into this too much, but did you know 1/3 women suffer with piles during pregnancy? Yes, it burns. Jack bought me a special cushion to sit on which helps to ease some of the pressure, bless him.
Take it slow. From week 20, I started to realise that I couldn’t push myself as far as I usually do. I’ve been walking a bit slower and giving myself extra time to get from A to B, which has been a learning curve. I’m still figuring this one out as sometimes I have lots of energy but it can quickly disappear!
Switched on. I feel SO GOOD mentally. Even though I am juggling a lot, I finally feel like I have my shit together in terms of work and adulting life – woo! I’m loving having a bit more structure back in my life, with the 3 days a week in an office and as part of a team. It’s made me realise that I work best when I’m around people, so that’s something to note down for when I’m finishing my Maternity leave.
Confident. It took me a while, but I finally actually believe that we will be fine. It’s one thing to say you think you’ll be fine, but to believe it…! I feel like a completely different person to when I first found out I was pregnant. I feel like ‘me’ again, YAY! I’m naturally an over-thinker, but I keep telling myself that I can’t worry about everything – it’s just not healthy. We’re tackling the challenges as they come at us; financially, career-wise and with a change of scenery as we say goodbye to London (more on that soon).
Happy. I feel so happy at the moment. My whole mindset has changed and I now couldn’t imagine things going any differently. Even though I still can’t really plan for a lot, I feel excited.
Loved. Jack & I have become closer (even though we were pretty close already) and I feel really loved up at the moment. He stayed over at one of his friend’s the other night and I really missed him. So soppy, I know!
With week 27 just about to begin (as I’m writing this), I’m headed into the third trimester and we’re one step closer to meeting our little one – eek!