31 & 32 weeks: playing catch up

This week’s Baby size as fruit or vegetable: a bunch of leeks (these are becoming ever more tenuous)

Pregnancy symptom of the week: Feeling like a Transit van


32 week bump – either that or I’ve swallowed a beach ball

I’m having to combine the last two weeks of updates into one here – I have literally no idea where time is going or what I’m doing with it. With only a couple of weeks left until I finish work, my brain is already shutting down into baby mode as my mind keeps turning to all the things I still need to do to feel properly organised and ‘ready’. Preparing hospital bag, sorting out the baby clothes we’ve got, getting our old pram out and making sure it’s all in working order, checking what essentials we still need to buy, generally tidying and nesting – the list goes on, in my head at least.

I can’t wait to have the luxury of a few weeks just to get sorted (hopefully!) and enjoy a bit of time blogging, doing some MAMA Academy stuff so I still feel useful, and zoning out to daytime TV. I’ve also properly discovered the joys of grown-up colouring books (was going to call them ‘adult’ colouring books but I imagine the pictures in those are somewhat different). I’ve got the stunning Secret Garden book by Johanna Basford which is perfect for unwinding and letting your mind shut off after a busy day. My tip of the week for stressed out pregnant ladies!

I’m still waiting to see a physio about my pelvic pain but *touch wood* it seems to have eased a bit in recent days. The only concern at my community midwife appointment last week was apparently high levels of leukocytes in my urine sample, normally indicative of some kind of infection, although I have no symptoms of one. They sent it off to the lab anyway and then I was asked by my GP to drop off another sample earlier this week to be followed by one next week too. The advice I’ve been given by the consultant is ‘not to worry’ as if anything does need treating I’ll be prescribed antibiotics, so we will wait and see.

Last Saturday I attended a ‘Using Water for Labour and Birth’ antenatal session at my hospital, led by a midwife in the Birthing Centre (the midwifery-led unit on the same site as the main maternity unit). I had always wanted a water birth first time round, which circumstances got in the way of and I ended up on the delivery suite, so I was keen to have a bit of a reminder about the options open to me if all goes smoothly up to the end! While I’m not sure if I would actually give birth in the pool (I’ll see how it goes!), I’m very keen on the idea of using it for relaxation and pain relief, so I’m keeping everything crossed the Birthing Centre remains one of my choices in the coming weeks.


Little Man showing off his war wound – a chipped tooth from the nursery yard

This week started badly as Little Man took it upon himself to fall on his face at nursery and chipped a corner off one of his front teeth. Fortunately they are still his baby ones but I am soooo squeamish about anything to do with teeth – it’s a good job I wasn’t there to see it happen or I would have been freaking out even more than I already did. He was fine though and doesn’t seem bothered by it so I’ve made my peace with it. It’s nowhere near as bad as it could have been. As long as he’s extra careful from now on – as much as a four year old can be!

Yesterday I was at the hospital for my 32 week growth scan and check up with the consultant. Without wanting to jinx anything, it all seems to be going swimmingly. Our little wriggler is estimated to be weighing about 5lb 4oz just now – which is amazingly only 5oz off Joe’s birth weight when he was born at 37 weeks. It was a bit of a stark realisation of just how growth restricted he must have been, and how his growth must have been slowing for a number of weeks before my pre-eclampsia was picked up at 36 weeks. My only concern now is how big Bump is going to get if he keeps growing at a healthy rate! All being well my next scan will be at 37 weeks and then we really will see the difference between a (hopefully) healthy baby and a growth restricted one.

Thanks to my blogging tardiness I’ve got two weeks of #BlogBumpClub to catch up on! Add your pregnancy update posts here, lovely ladies:

I’m linking up with Ghostwriter Mummy’s Maternity Matters

Maternity Matters~ Ghostwritermummy

the MAD blog awards 2015: last chance saloon

MADS_BADGE_EXAMPLE_CELEBRATING_BLOGS.fw_I love the buzz that inevitably comes with the blog award season. It’s our chance to celebrate what we do and why we do it and it’s brilliant to see so many lovely bloggers having the confidence to shout about how great their site is, whether they have 100 or 10,000 followers. I always feel a little uncomfortable asking people to nominate me for stuff, but I’m getting better at it. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. And when it comes to pregnancy blog awards, I’m in the last chance saloon.

These last few months have been a bit of a turning point for me in terms of my blogging and indeed my presence on social media, not least because of my current pregnancy. My absolute passion since I suffered from pre-eclampsia in 2010 has been raising awareness of maternity issues – as you will know if you are familiar with my voluntary role as trustee and General Manager for pregnancy charity MAMA Academy, my day job in NHS maternity service improvement for the Clinical Networks, or just follow me on Twitter! Being pregnant again has brought a lot of these issues into sharper focus for me, bringing back memories of my experience with Little Man, and creeping into my blog posts more and more.

It has been a privilege to be involved in the #MatExp (Maternity Experience) campaign on Twitter, an inspiring collaboration without hierarchy giving women a voice. There is amazing work going on around the country to improve the experiences of women and families when accessing every stage of maternity services, with some truly committed individuals pushing the agenda forward. It is social media at its absolute best, and there have been some wonderful blog posts attached to it. I was inspired to put together this post because of #MatExp.

I have thoroughly enjoyed taking the reins of the #BlogBumpClub linky, a supportive community of expectant mums, which I feel is very important to enable women to share their experiences of pregnancy.  Similarly, my friendship with Susanne of Ghostwriter Mummy has opened my eyes to the full range of maternity experience via the #MaternityMatters linky. Blogging can be a very cathartic process when trying to process what has happened to you – I have found this to be the case myself.

wpid-img_20150107_203747.jpgI don’t like to pigeonhole my blog into one category or another – part of my ‘multitasking mummy’ ethos! – but for the MAD Blog Awards 2015 I would truly appreciate your vote in the Best Pregnancy Blog category. I have been blogging weekly updates about my pregnancy – sometimes fluffy, sometimes informative – but I also use my blog to raise some serious issues that matter too, and hope that at least a handful of people find some inspiration there. My ability to view maternity care from the personal and professional side gives me a unique viewpoint and opinion on a lot of things which has a wide appeal. My recent post about ‘the system’ was referenced in an article by the amazing Sheena Byrom OBE in the Practising Midwife journal.

I don’t plan on being pregnant again after this little one arrives, so this will be my last chance to be recognised for blogging about pregnancy – although it certainly won’t be the end of my passion for maternity. If you have appreciated something I have written, or found something helpful, humorous or inspiring, I would certainly appreciate your nomination. Thank you.

You can read a little more about my experience and my journey to this point in my post ‘All of this': taking the unexpected path

You can find the MADs nomination form here.

You’ll need to nominate a Blog of the Year – this can be me or anyone else you like. I would recommend Ghostwriter Mummy, Headspace Perspective or Edspire, along with a bazillion more amazing bloggers. Then you can nominate in the individual categories. Find ‘Best Pregnancy Blog’ and enter my blog URL: http://www.greatnorthmum.com. Sit back and enjoy the warm glowing feeling of my appreciation :-)

Tots100 MAD Blog Awards

30 weeks: adventures in waddling

This week’s Baby size as fruit or vegetable: ‘Good-sized’ cabbage (whatever that means)

Pregnancy symptom of the week: Pelvic pain!


30 week bump! We’re at the business end of things now….

Last Saturday was a real treat for me and the Mr, as we made the most of Little Man staying at Grandma and Grandad’s and went out for a date night to celebrate hitting 30 weeks! We went to the cinema for the first time in an absolute age to see the new Avengers film (recommended) then I was a lucky girl to be treated to a lovely dinner at an Indian restaurant in town we had not tried before. After a quick alcohol-free Kopparberg after our meal (me, not hubby!), I was ready to get home and put my feet up.

Of course the Tyne and Wear Metro had other ideas and due to the nearest station being closed because of some maintenance work, we had to walk for about ten minutes to get to the next stop where we could catch the train home. Unfortunately, it seemed that this little trek combined with the quick dash through the drizzle to the restaurant earlier, and the two and a half hours of sitting in the cinema beforehand, had angered my pelvis somewhat. By the time we got off the train and walked the couple of minutes to our house, I was already wincing.

I had experienced some pelvic discomfort in previous weeks but it had been mostly manageable, only really causing me difficulty when turning over in bed, but since the weekend it has reached a new level of pain which I am no longer comfortable putting up with. Manoeuvring myself around in bed now requires considerable gritting of teeth and no small amount of yelping. Getting up from my desk at work hurts, getting in and out of the car hurts, bloody walking hurts. I’ve developed a full-on pregnancy waddle as I’ve adjusted my gait to compensate.

Yesterday, on advice from hubby that I really shouldn’t just live with it, I rang my community midwife and asked her to refer me to specialist physio at the hospital. Having mentioned the previous discomfort I was having at an earlier appointment, she had told me that if it became unmanageable she would make a referral, so she did it for me straightaway. Now I just have to wait for them to contact me, which I am certainly hoping doesn’t take too long!


Little Man enjoying the sunshine at Jesmond Dene

We did manage to enjoy the sunshine on Bank Holiday Monday though, and went down to Jesmond Dene where Little Man loved having a kickabout with Daddy – while Mummy relaxed on the grass! Of course getting up again wasn’t exactly a picnic but it was lovely nonetheless. I’m keeping everything crossed for a beautiful June so that I can enjoy a few relaxing weeks when I finish work before Bump arrives. Either that or there will be some serious nesting going on at home!

For more information on pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy (also known as symphysis pubis dysfunction), visit the Pelvic Partnership or check out the information on NHS Choices.

What have my Bump Buddies been up to this week? Has anyone else been suffering or are you all glowing? ;-) Link up your #BlogBumpClub posts here:

I’m linking up with Ghostwriter Mummy’s Maternity Matters

Maternity Matters~ Ghostwritermummy

29 weeks: the joys of being the sober one

This week’s Baby size as fruit or vegetable: Butternut squash

Pregnancy symptom of the week: Really wanting a lie in!

This week’s update is not a long one – primarily because in comparison to last week’s growth scan excitement, not much has happened. Sleep is still disturbed as I toss and turn uncomfortably, and I’m feeling ever more like the big rolling boulder from Indiana Jones, but I’m otherwise feeling well as I approach 30 weeks.


My lovely bedroom for the weekend in our hen house

I did have an out-of-the-ordinary weekend though, as last Friday I took to the road with some work friends for a colleague’s hen weekend in a fabulous big house in Appleby-in-Westmorland, over the Cumbria border. The 12 of us had rented the house for two nights, and while some had to share bedrooms I was lucky enough to have one to myself – which was just as well as the en-suite bathroom opened directly into the bedroom with no door to hide my shame. The house was stunning though, with two big sitting rooms, a dining room with a huge round table, a gorgeous communal kitchen, and a pool table, with the added bonus of a garden room containing a ping pong table and a hot tub.

Of course, the hot tub was just one of the weekend’s delights I wasn’t able to partake in (pregnant women are advised to avoid hot tubs and saunas as they raise the core body temperature too much). I had rarely seen so much alcohol in one place since I lived in student flats. The huge double door fridge was packed to the rafters with bottles of Prosecco, beer and various mixers, while the counter top next to it could barely be seen under the weight of an entire cocktail bar’s worth of spirits. Happily, my good-natured colleagues are not hideous drunks and even after everyone had had a few, they were all in good spirits.


29 week bump!

I took the chance to catch up on some much needed sleep over the course of the weekend, having two epic lie-ins which were more of a luxury to me than any hot tub. There was also the added bonus of having a completely clear head as those who had hit the gin a bit hard looked decidedly ropey over breakfast.

I’m having a much more normal weekend this week though – and a lovely long Bank Holiday one at that. I might even get a bit of a lie-in.

What have the #BlogBumpClub ladies been up to this week? Post your updates here:

p is for photos and precious moments

I’m proud to be engaged in the #MatExp (Maternity Experience) community on Twitter – a group of like-minded health professionals and parents with a shared passion for creating and seeing change for the better in our UK maternity services. It’s a stimulating and enriching community to be involved in, from both a professional and personal point of view, as someone who works closely with NHS maternity services and of course being an expectant mum for the second time!

For the last couple of weeks, those of us actively engaged in #MatExp have been participating in the #MatExp ABC. Each day we have a letter of the alphabet to prompt us to put forward relevant words about the maternity experience – choice, optimism, fear, joy, and kindness to name but a few. Today we reached the letter P and two of the suggestions that struck a chord with me were ‘Photos’ and ‘Precious Moments’ – capturing those earliest memories of life with your new little person – and it gave me the impetus to look back at some old pictures of me and Little Man from September 2010, the month he was born.

As I looked through them I was reminded how truly lucky I was to have him safe and sound in my arms, and that we were both none the worse for the ordeal we had both been through. Pre-eclampsia, nearly a week on the antenatal ward, growth restriction, induction at 37 weeks, syntocinon drips, only gas and air for pain relief, a terrifying three-hour labour from first contraction to the last, dangerously high blood pressure, stitches, four days on the postnatal ward with my skinny little 5lb 9oz miracle – then home. Exhausted, relieved, but mercifully happy – and this is why I am lucky, as so many women find themselves struggling to cope in the aftermath of a difficult experience.

These photos help me to remember those first few days of parenthood when it passed in such a blur – and help me look forward to my next birth experience to come. I’ve got a few more people rooting for me this time thanks to #MatExp!


The last bump shot of my first pregnancy at 37 weeks – taken in the induction suite before anything kicked off.


The first ‘after’ photo of me and Little Man – exhausted, relieved and more than a little in shock – still on the bed I gave birth on in the delivery suite. The telltale basket of the blood pressure monitor is visible next to the bed.


Cradling my tiny bundle on the postnatal ward some time after. I shared a room with a woman who had twins that needed tube-feeding. It was a much more relaxed environment than the four-bed antenatal bay had been.


This is one of my favourite early pictures of us as I feel like I look content here. Holding his miniscule hand. Actually happy. The sleepsuit he is wearing was ‘tiny baby’ size and still completely swamped him.


Proud daddy enjoying a cuddle. For the four days we were on the postnatal ward, he had to leave us every night and return to an empty home without us. Dads have a lot to go through too.


Back home, in the flat we lived in then. I think I must have lived in pyjamas for about two weeks. There were few things better than having Little Man contentedly sleep on you.


It blows my mind that he was ever this small. You wouldn’t know it to see him now!


We were shown how to bathe him while still in the hospital but it’s still a scary proposition when it comes to first bathtime at home! He felt so fragile to handle with his skinny arms and legs.


Sleep when the baby sleeps!


Another ‘tiny baby’ outfit that was just enormous on him. We were amazed by his full head of hair at birth – I often wonder whether Bump will be the same.


There is no greater joy than when your baby is just happy to be with you, and you them. I was lucky. I am lucky.


Read more about the #MatExp campaign on the NHS Change Day website or check out the hashtag on Twitter to get involved.

the great kate wait 2015

This week I’ve been amusing myself following #RoyalBabyWatch on Twitter- and what a rich hashtag of mass hysteria and desperate anticipation it has proved to be. In scenes almost completely re-enacted from the Great Kate Wait of 2013, the world’s media and insanely enthusiastic Royal watchers with nothing better to do have been camped outside the big door of the Lindo Wing (which sounds like a character from Star Wars to me) for what seems like weeks now, waiting to catch the first glimpse of Cambridge no.2 when it finally puts in its long-awaited appearance.

Private Lindo Wing At St. Mary's Hospital

The famous Lindo Wing door

I can only hope that sooner rather than later we will all be put out of our misery and we’ll know whether it’s a boy or girl and what delightfully traditional name they’ve given it, and we can all move on with our lives.

Hilariously, many of those on #RoyalBabyWatch desperately waiting for news that the Duchess has gone into labour are tweeting from the USA, showing a love for the British Monarchy that borders on obsessive super-fan status. One of my favourites was from a girl called Dallas in Southern California who tweeted “I don’t know how you Brits are staying calm! This Royal Baby wait is tying me in knots!!! #boyorgirl”. Why do these people care so much? I normally only get that excited by a new episode of Game of Thrones.

Of course now all the chatter is about when Kate’s due date was and if that means she is going to be induced, and when that will be, and oh my gosh wouldn’t it be amazing if it was on their wedding anniversary, and oh I hope my child shares the baby’s birthday, and I’m almost positive it will be a girl, and wouldn’t it be lovely if they called her Diana…..and so on through an infinite stream of inane hype as people seem incapable of focusing on anything else until their curiosity is satisfied.

All of this wild discussion around the state of Kate’s cervix at any given moment has led to some hugely unhelpful media coverage of induction, as if the whole process was as simple as popping for a quick haircut. This frankly ludicrous article in the Telegraph contains various unfounded remarks and is mostly pure speculation, suggesting that Kate is ‘as many as four days overdue’ (shock horror!), and includes quotes from ‘a source whose children were born at the Lindo Wing’ (so is clearly an expert) and most fatuously, a spokesman for the RCOG stating that induction is ‘such a safe procedure….they tend to be pretty relaxed about inducing any time after the due date if the mother is getting fed up’. Oh, it’s good that they’re so relaxed about an invasive medical procedure that’s probably entirely unnecessary for another ten days. And I’m fairly sure that ‘fed up’ describes every single pregnant woman by the time 40 weeks comes around.

Out of sheer morbid curiosity I had a look at the website of Imperial Private Healthcare, the company responsible for the Lindo Wing maternity services at St Mary’s Hospital. For the princely sum of £5215, you can enjoy the first 24 hours of a ‘normal’ delivery (additional nights can be snapped up for £945), with all the home comforts you could expect of a five-star hotel, including an ‘afternoon tea’ service to celebrate the new arrival in style. Of course if it turns out you need an instrumental delivery, you can whack another 500 quid onto the cost of your package, and you’re looking at the best part of seven grand if you’re unfortunate enough to need a caesarean – it’s a good job all those lovely relaxed inductions guarantee a lovely straightforward labour….oh hang on.

On a separate note, the Lindo Wing also provides a ‘secure, supervised nursery’ so that new mums can enjoy some much-needed postpartum rest without the inconvenience of a pesky baby disturbing their slumber, demanding to be fed or cuddled by a parent again. Perhaps I am taking that the wrong way, but there’s no way I’d want to be parted from my little one so soon for the sake of a bit of shut-eye. Each to their own I suppose.

That’s not to disparage Kate’s choice of place of birth – although I doubt she actually had a say in it. I can only feel for the poor woman, knowing that the whole world is her obstetrician, speculating on her impending childbirth as if it were a matter for public consultation. I guarantee that all she wants to do as a heavily pregnant woman is put her feet up with a cup of tea and possibly watch Escape to the Country in peace (or maybe that’s just me). Meanwhile Twitter remains on tenterhooks as the Royal rubberneckers become increasingly frustrated at the Duchess’s inability to stick to her due date as if she somehow owes them something. People have money riding on the result of your baby-making Kate, you know!

Just keep people waiting as long as you like, my lovely. I’m sure they aren’t going anywhere.

28 weeks: how does my little one grow?

This week’s Baby size as fruit or vegetable: Aubergine (again, somehow, as it also was apparently at 23 weeks. I suppose it depends on the size of your aubergine)

Pregnancy symptom of the week: Disturbed sleep (due to enormo-bump, being too warm and having vivid dreams)

This week saw a big day in my antenatal schedule – the first of my additional growth scans to ensure that there are no signs of any fetal growth restriction, and a check-up with the consultant that all is well with my blood pressure. Neither of which I would have to worry about if it wasn’t for having developed pre-eclampsia in my first pregnancy, but this is the situation I find myself in and I’m grateful for the extra attention to put my mind at rest.


28 week bump sticking out nicely!

I was accompanied to the hospital by my mum, who had jumped at the chance to see the scan first-hand when my husband couldn’t get out of work for the morning, and we both marvelled at the wriggly black and white image on the screen as the sonographer got the necessary measurements. Bump’s legs were curled up awkwardly to get the femur length but with a bit of perseverance, everything was captured. And all was well. With an estimated weight of 3lb 2oz already, and sitting comfortably above the 50th centile, there are no concerns for his growth at this stage. We managed to get a couple of ‘head shots’ printed out, before he grows too big to get a good scan picture.

Then I gave the customary urine sample and had the all-important blood pressure measured – 115/73 – probably about as normal as you can get. The consultant then came in to explain the scan results. Bump was neither too small nor too big, uterine artery blood flow was good, and my BP was better than his own. Back at 32 weeks to check again – and I was done!

After a celebratory decaff vanilla latte and blueberry muffin in the hospital Costa (it’s all glamorous), we then had to head off to my GP surgery to see the community midwife for my routine 28 week appointment, which seemed largely redundant after just having had everything checked but needed to be done nonetheless. First I had to see the practice nurse for my whooping cough vaccination and then another pee pot was filled, BP was taken again (even lower this time!) and the health care assistant took the standard 28 week blood samples – unfortunately at the second attempt as the vein in one arm was not forthcoming. Ouch.


My MAMA Academy Wellbeing Wallet has been going everywhere with me

The midwife was not my usual one, highlighting the issue with continuity of care as she had to familiarise herself with my history before going ahead with her examination. In contrast with the relatively high-tech scan I had already had, the midwife palpated my abdomen to check where the baby was lying and found his heartbeat straightaway to everyone’s delight. She then got out the tape measure to estimate fetal growth the old fashioned way – I measured 29cms which when plotted on my growth chart was actually on the 95th centile! I was surprised it was such a difference to the scan measurement so it will be interesting to see how the two pan out in the coming weeks. The main thing is that Bump’s growth is certainly not restricted at the moment!

What have my #BlogBumpClub buddies been up to this week? Add your pregnancy updates to the linky here:

I’m linking up with Ghostwriter Mummy’s Maternity Matters

Maternity Matters~ Ghostwritermummy