The First Month of Motherhood…

I was tempted to tell you my positive birth story and leave it there – allowing you to join me at Buzz’s one month celebrations when things had (finally) started to fall into place. But there’s a whole area in the middle of those two events that wasn’t particularly pleasant and I feel like I do need to touch on it because if I’d have known just how tough it was all going to be I’d have relaxed a little – knowing that, part of what I felt, was totally normal.

We concentrated a lot on the birth and preparing for labour, so we were both extremely grateful that our work paid off. As I told you last week – my birthing experience was as close to perfect as I could’ve hoped for, and I know, for many women, that’s not always the case. So, having had such a positive time in the delivery room, the dramatic contrast of the weeks that followed hit us both pretty hard.

I never realised how demanding life was about to become. I feel guilty even writing that because we wanted Buzz in our lives so much – I can’t help but reprimand myself for anything negative surrounding his presence being said, so I’ll start by clarifying that I love him with all my heart and already couldn’t imagine my life without him… but, like I said, the first month was tough. We were suddenly faced with the reality of having a little human being who was dependent on Tom and I for everything! And I mean, everything. I don’t think it’s too surprising that it all became a little overwhelming… having to deal with the topsy-turvy hormones and my own recovery didn’t make things easier. Which, if I’m honest, made me feel things that I knew I didn’t really feel. I cried a lot. More than I’ve ever cried in my life. One night I had my sister and brother over (they’ve been wonderful) and I just burst out crying and turned into a red blubbering mess, all the while insisting that I was the happiest I’ve ever been. Giorgie and Mario have both seen me at my highest and lowest over the years – but they just stared at me in shock before enveloping me with their love and hugs.

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Then at eight days old Buzz developed an eye and finger infection. Meaning we had to go back into hospital for five days so that he could be put on an IV drip for antibiotics. Seeing him in pain as they placed a cannula in his hand was one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve ever witnessed. Although those five days were worrying, they forced me to stop and gave us time on our own to just bond with our newborn. Before that hospital trip I was aware that I was doing too much. I hadn’t stopped and as a result I was in constant pain. Because I wanted others to see me as ‘the perfect mum’ who could do it all, I hadn’t allow myself to rest, which, when you’re up every couple of hours during the night to feed and healing yourself, was stupid. I ended up getting an infection and prolonging my recovery (read misery). I was actually a little relieved to discover part of what I was feeling wasn’t the norm. I’d been feeling like the biggest wimp in the world – which upset me after having such an amazing time during his birth.

Hormones. Sleep deprivation. Physical discomfort. They broke me and, I’m ashamed to admit, that they made me doubt if I was up to my new role of ‘mummy’. All my life I’ve mothered others – nurtured, comforted and loved – my maternal instincts have always been a part of who I am. I’ve always known I was born to be a mummy. I’m pleased that, now that the cloud has lifted, I can get on with giving Buzz the love he deserves. The sunny days over the last couple of weeks have helped to lift my spirits immeasurably. I can’t tell you how lovely it’s been to get out of the house with Buzz. And, on top of everything, I’m overjoyed that the little dude has stopped peeing on us quite so much during the nappy changes. Ha!

So, why am I sharing this? Am I just sharing a negative story and spreading fear in the way others have done with their birth stories? I hope not. Instead I hope it helps other new mums or mums-to-be prepare a little better for what might be an overwhelming experience. No-one really mentioned what those first few weeks could potentially be like and because of that I spent time feeling guilty of my feelings, rather than just accepting them and knowing that they’d pass. If I were to give advice it would be to not plan too much in the first few weeks – take it easy (like, really easy – stay in bed and enjoy your newborn), don’t have too many visitors and accept your family’s offers of taking care of things around the house in exchange for baby cuddles.

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Also this week…

I’ve received the German translation for my debut novel Billy and Me and they look amazing. The title in Germany is Sternenküsse (Star Kisses) and the publishers changed Billy Buskin’s surname to Sinclair – but I think those are the only changes that were made. Funny to think that people are going to be reading something I devised in a language I can’t even read!

The Easter bunny came! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful Easter weekend. I had my family over on Good Friday for a walk in the fresh air and fish and chips – followed by some serious chocolate indulgence. Well, why not? Whilst writing this I’m actually tucking into a Ferrero Rocher egg. In my opinion it’s the best thing ever created!

 

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Tom’s been away with the McBusted boys on tour for most of this week (which kicked off in Glasgow on Wednesday), but managed to sneak home on his off day for some family time with me and Buzz on Easter Sunday. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for him to be away from our little dude. He’s changing so much every day and growing fast.

Talking of the McBusted tour – me and Buzz are off to The 02 this week to support his daddy who’s playing three nights there. Buzz won’t be watching the show (obviously), but it’ll be his first taste of tour life. Let’s hope he likes it!

Have a good one!

Love, Gi. Xx

My labour was the most amazingly powerful experience I’ve ever had

Hellooooo! I’m baaaaaaaaaack!

Some of you may have been wondering where my riveting weekly updates had gone to… Well, they’d got lost in a world of sleepless nights, breastmilk and baby poop. Yes, in case you didn’t know – our son Buzz Michelangelo Fletcher arrived on Thursday 13th March – bang on 7pm. I still had two and a half weeks left until my due date and had all sorts of plans for my last bit of ‘freedom’, but it seems Buzz wanted to come out and join us – eager to say hello to the world. In fact, we were out for dinner with all the McBusted family (celebrating Danny’s birthday) when my waters broke – so I’m pretty certain Buzz just wanted to be part of the fun. I can’t tell you how giddy we all were when we left our friends in the restaurant knowing that the next time we’d see them we’d have a child.

So on to the labour… As regular readers know, we’d planned to use hypnobirthing techniques and go drug free as much as possible. Well, thanks to Hollie from London Hypnobirthing and a lot of homework from us (if you can call spending time to relax with one another each day work), that’s exactly what we achieved. I can honestly say that my labour was far from the horror stories people love sharing – it was the most amazingly powerful experience I’ve ever had. I never realised my body was so clever! During the final stages I felt like I’d taken every drug known to man – I clearly hadn’t, but I was calm enough to allow my body to produce a whole heap of oxytocin and endorphins with the help of some Michael McIntyre standup, singing along to Coldplay albums and my wonderful husband Tom. He was as encouraging as I knew he would be – stuffing jelly babies into our mouths, rubbing my back and reminding me to breathe anytime a frown appeared on my brow. He anchored me and made sure the day was as we’d hoped it would be. I’m so pleased we chose to go down the hypnobirthing route and that I ignored the few negative comments directed at me (since when has telling someone they’ll be ‘demanding drugs when the time comes’ helpful or encouraging?!), although I obviously understand hypnobirthing isn’t for everyone. I’m not about to start judging anyone for taking the drugs offered or opting for a c-section if necessary (we all just want our little babies healthily kicking in our arms), but I’d definitely recommend looking into hypnobirthing when the time comes if I’ve stirred an ounce of curiosity.

And so we grew from a duo to a trio – Tom, Gi and Buzz. Ready to explore the world in a brand new way – all jumping into the unknown with just each other to cling to. Going to sleep that night (after we’d treated ourselves to a delicious burger – it tasted so good), I couldn’t stop looking at Buzz’s little face and smiling euphorically at Tom. We’d done it. We made that little man. He is already, without doubt, my greatest achievement in life.

 

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Now that we’ve officially entered family life my blogs might read slightly differently – they’ll be less time for cake with friends (possibly), less news from evenings out (it’s not like I was overly sociable before), but, instead, you’ll get an insight into the world of a mummy who is learning to find her feet in a brand new world… and doubting her every move. It’s surprising how much time one person can spend on Google!

Right, Buzz is waking up and demanding his mummy’s attention. See you next week (hopefully).

Have a great one!

Love,

Giovanna Xx

Appreciation for the parental inventors, walking on clouds AND my love of Pancake Day…

One thing I’ve been really inspired by during my pregnancy are the inventions and gadgets that have been created by mums and dads who’ve been hit by a wave of ingenuity when coping with their own mini humans. Dreaming up little gadgets to make their own lives easier, but then going on to share it with the masses. Here are a few of the brainwaves that have impressed me so far – although I’m sure this list is going to keep getting longer and longer over the next few years. Who knows, I might even come up with my own invention at some point… A way of eating Nutella from the jar one handed whilst breastfeeding, perhaps?! Now there’s a thought! Check out my list of gadgets below.

Also this week…

• It was PANCAKE DAY! Yes, yes, yes – I’ve been banging on about it enough. You all know how much I love this special day. This year Tom was in charge and so we ended up with pre-made batter mix. Well, it might’ve been lazy of us, but they were blooming gorgeous. I had two with lemon and sugar and one with Nutella – it all melted and oozed out. Yummy! One thing I did learn though is that I’m rubbish at flipping pancakes. Really rubbish… bordering on shamefully rubbish. Ah, well! I’m good at eating them and that’s the bit that counts, right?

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• Maternity leave hasn’t quite kicked off as I planned thanks to chicken pox and colds – not me, but my friends or their children – which has led to things being cancelled. Boo! But I still had a lovely catch up with my mum on Monday and then my friends Izzy and Chunny the following day (Izzy bought over cupcakes… naughty, naughty!). I cooked them all homemade roasted pepper and tomato soup – it was gorgeous. I’m getting really into my homemade soups at the minute – it’s one way of getting all my needed vitamins and minerals before I move onto the naughty stuff. Ha!

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• I know I’m meant to be on maternity leave and not talking about ‘work’ related matters – but should creative work really be classed as work when it’s so fun?! Hmmm, it’s an interesting thought. Anyway – the bound page proofs arrived this week for You’re the One that I Want. These are basically mock-ups of the real thing for reviewers (and my friends and family who keep asking when they can get their hands on it). They look so beautiful. Not long until the real copies arrive now and I can’t wait for you to get reading and telling me what you think! I’m hoping you’ll all love Maddy, Ben and Robert and their story as much as I do… fingers crossed!

• I have to say, that tiny mention of work aside, the majority of this week has been filled with total relaxation and me chilling with a capital C! Hollie from London Hypnobirthing came over for a one-on-one afternoon of calming tranquillity. Aaaah… It was heavenly. Add that to this week’s reflexology session and you’ll understand why I feel I’ve been walking on a cloud of loveliness… Well, I say that, but walking is becoming increasingly more like waddling like a penguin. We walked to Ask Italian for dinner the other night (now known as Pizza Friday) and it took us forty minutes to walk home… it’s normally a ten minute journey. Ha! But my mind and body really do feel at peace – something I’m making the most of before Crumb arrives and changes our world forever.

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• The week finished with a trip to The O2 to see Ellie Goulding, for what was Crumb’s last ever music gig in utero. She was flipping amazing – what a voice! It was great bumping into fellow HELLO! Online blogger Una Foden and her lovely husband Ben, grab hugs from 1D’s Niall Horan and talk yoga retreats with Cara Delevingne. Crumb seemed to really enjoy the show and, unfortunately for my bladder, wriggled about endlessly during the whole thing. Can’t believe Tom and McBusted will be playing at that venue next month!

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And now we’ve arrived at 37 weeks… from this point on Crumb can arrive whenever he/she chooses. It’s mindboggling to think that the little human I’ve been growing for the last eight and a half months is about to come out and meet us. I can’t wait!

Ooh, before I go – thanks for the lovely tweets and comments about last week’s blog post. It’s nice to hear my realisation (and apology) has set off a flutter of positivity amongst you all.

Have a brilliant week!

Love,
Gi. Xx

P.S. The gadgets I was talking about:

• Ewan the Dream Sheep (www.sweetdreamers.co.uk ) – now, it seems every mum out there has already heard of this miracle worker. Created by a mum who had a little boy who would only sleep with the hoover on, Ewan (apart from looking adorable) plays sounds that resemble what can be heard in the womb – including a heartbeat. Instantly soothing babies, much to the delight of many sleep-deprived mums and dads!

• Babymule (www.babymule.co.uk) – a changing bag that can be carried as a messenger or backpack – or just clipped to the buggy! It’s full of gadgets to make life simpler AND has lots of compartments to keep everything a little more organised… and I love organisation and having a spot for everything, so it’s not too hard to see why I like this bag.

• Milkysnugz (www.milkysnugz.co.uk ) – essential a cuddly toy that your baby’s milk bottle slides into so that, when your bubba is old enough to hold its own bottle, they can experience a hug at the same time… cute.

• Babycademy (Music Time) (www.babycademy.co.uk) – babies are never too young to start learning, after all, we’ve all heard the expression ‘brain like a sponge’. There are many classes and groups you can take your baby along to, but this mummy has compiled classes for you both to engage in from the comfort of your own home. A nice way of interacting with your child and for their brain to start developing through play.

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• SnoozeShade (www.snoozeshade.com)– we’ve all seen prams with blankets or thin swaddles draped over them in an attempt to lull the baby inside off to sleep. We’ve probably also seen said garments flying off with the wind and being trodden on or run over by said buggy… well, this little contraption apparently holds the answer. These sleep aids and sunshades can clip onto buggies, car seats and cots.

• Breastvest (www.breastvest.co.uk) – this has been recommended to me a few times already… for a lot of new mums they don’t mind whipping their boobies out to breastfeed (their bubba’s got to eat), but what they feel self-conscious about is getting their tummies out if they’re wearing one of their normal tops (you know, the ones they wore before maternity clothes entered their lives). This thin vest goes underneath your lovely non-human-growing-top, meaning you don’t have to flash your postnatal tummy before you feel ready to. Result!

• Skibz (www.skibz.co.uk) – dribble bibs (and normal bibs) that are so trendy looking they become a part of your baby’s outfit – and that’s what mummy Helen wanted when she first thought up the idea. With so many cool designs and colours to choose from I imagine you can end up getting quite addicted. Honestly, it’s like dribble bib heaven.

• Blooming Bath (www.bloomingbath.co.uk) – I’ve already mentioned this piece of magic in another blog, but I love them so much that they just HAVE to be included on this little list. Four dads who found bathing their babies difficult thanks to them being ‘so soapy and slippery and squirmy’ decided to take matters into their own hands and find a solution. I can’t wait to start using mine.

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THAT’S the body I used to have?! Why’d I ever complain or worry?!

I’ve always struggled with my weight – it’s gone up and down over the years like a great big yoyo bouncing on a string. I’ve always felt too big and had a certain amount of self-loathing when it comes to the topic of fat. I’m not a naturally skinny girl (and boy do I know it), but pregnancy has totally changed the way I view my pre-pregnancy figure. I’ve been looking at photos in which, at the time, I was sure I was the identical weight to a baby elephant, but now I just see a fairly normal weighing girl – hell, sometimes I’m actually pleasantly surprised with the figure looking back at me. So, now that I am bigger than normal (no self-loathing required, I’m human growing) I have a new appreciation for what I did have…

And yes, it’s what inside that counts – but we all know that there’s so much said about weight in our society, so is it really that surprising that I had such a negative outlook on my size 10/12 figure? We’re told size zero is pretty – or is it that size zero is too thin, but a six is good? I forget – or maybe it’s because the people that dictate these views change their minds on what is considered desirable on a weekly basis – one week skinny is in, but the next it’s ‘big is beautiful’. It’s so confusing, and hardly earthshattering news that I, like many others, constantly found myself despairing over the issue and feeling inadequate.

What has really hit me this week is the notion that life is ever changing… and so are our bodies. We’ll go up and down, out and in, wide and thin – depending on what we’re doing with our lives. It’s something that we have to learn to embrace and roll with, rather than beat ourselves up over. I’ve also come to realise that a part of that is obviously understanding when a little bit of exercise might be in order and enjoying the feeling of my body rising to the challenge, rather than feeling like I’m torturing it in the hope that I can be moulded into someone else’s version of beautiful.

I’m saddened when I think back to the decades (yes, decades) of hatred towards my exterior. Therefore, I’d like to take this moment to apologise to my pre-pregnancy body. Sorry I gave you such a hard time, dude. I promise to give you a little more credit in the future – and a whole lot of love to boot! I am what I am. My external self will change, it’s a fact we’ll all have to face at some point, but what’s outside will never define me.

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Also this week…

· Our pram arrived! Hurrah! We went for a Bugaboo Cameleon3 in black and orange. Orange is a fairly unisex colour, so we figured we were safe either way – Tom also likes the fact that it makes the pram highly visible to others, making sure people are aware of the precious cargo onboard and to steer well clear of us. Bizarrely, the day the pram arrived, I was wearing black and orange… It looked like I’d decided to dress up as the pram. An odd choice for a fancy dress costume!

· We worked out how to use the ISO-Fix base (it beeps at you when you get things right) and played around with our car seat (we opted for a Maxi-Cosi Pebble). Crumb’s carriage home is READY!

· The hospital bag has been packed! Well, almost. There’s also a huge list of things that will still be needed in the next few weeks that’ll get chucked into the bag just before we leave. I say bag, I mean suitcase. It looks as though we’re planning on staying at the hospital for a fortnight. Oopsey!

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· I had some much needed reflexology. You may remember me saying a few weeks ago that my feet and hands had become mighty sweaty… well, my feet had also swollen a little too. Nothing terrible, and it’s totally common, but it was a little uncomfortable. So this week I went to visit a local reflexologist called Maaike for a little pamper. Oh, it was sooooo good! At the end of the hour-long session I looked down to see my stumpy feet had transformed back into something quite dainty looking! I was shocked. Needless to say, I’ve booked in again for next week and will continue having this weekly pamper until Crumb arrives.

· I attended a breastfeeding class! I’ll be honest, I was a little worried I’d be asked to whip my boobs out for inspection to see if they were up to the task, but luckily there was none of that. I know breastfeeding is a bit of a touchy subject and that mums have very strong views on it – as if new mums need to feel anyone else’s judgement at a time when they already feel clueless and overwhelmed at the new challenge they’ve taken on?! My view on the topic is to do what is right for you. Your baby needs a happy mummy, not someone who feels downtrodden by motherhood or others who quickly pass judgement instead of offering support.

· Talking of emotions – I had two meltdowns this week, which I’m mentioning because I find them quite comical now (and also to reassure anyone who’s done the same that it’s quite common). One day I found myself bursting out sobbing hysterically for no reason (poor Tom) and another I wailed whilst reading Jojo Moyes’ new book The One Plus One… Could these be the start of the hormonal outbursts I’ve been warned about? Eek!

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The week ended with a lovely catch up with my brother on Friday who came over for some sibling love, and a family meal with the Fletchers on Sunday before sitting down to watch Gravity (flipping heck, it’s amazing – so intense!). Got to love family time!

Hope you all have a fantastic week – don’t forget it’s Pancake Day on Tuesday! I’ve got my jar of Nutella ready and waiting already! Yummy!

Lots of love,

Gi. Xx

Book two title and cover reveal, nursery furniture fun and birthday celebrations (not mine)…

I’ve been teasing you all for the last couple of months by keeping my lips sealed on the details surrounding my next novel – but this week I’ve been allowed to share the news that YOU’RE THE ONE THAT I WANT will be published 22nd May 2014 – AND I’ve revealed its fabulous cover which has been illustrated by the very talented Sarah Gibb (the same lady who designed the cover for BILLY AND ME). I love it and hope you do too. Although you’ll have to wait a few months to get your mitts on it, it is available to pre-order now. Whoop!

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Something else equally as thrilling happened this week… the furniture for Crumb’s nursery has arrived from Boori. We decided to go for their Eton collection in white. Why? Because it’s blooming gorgeous and looks like it’ll last for a very long time!

I’ve heard so many funny / worrying / stressful sounding accounts of mums and dads attempting to put up nursery furniture and certain pieces taking over six hours to do, but luckily for us (mostly for Tom because I totally would’ve lost my cool and been a little stresshead as I told him what I thought he was doing wrong) Boori offer a white glove service. So the two lovely men who delivered the pieces also stayed to put it all up… in LESS THAN AN HOUR! Wow. I know they’re used to doing it, but surely that’s some kind of record?!

I then spent the day sitting in the nursery looking at it all and thinking through all the different ways it should be laid out – we had planned a set up in our heads, but it wasn’t quite right. After making Tom move pieces around for a few hours, I’m now very happy with how it looks and have even started filling the wardrobe and draws with baby bits. I’ll post some proper pictures of that once the room’s closer to being complete.

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We also had a rather unproductive shopping trip this week to buy curtains for that room. At the moment there are blinds in there, but we’d like some curtains over the top to make it prettier and keep daylight out (you know, what people normally buy curtains for). The neutral designs were too plain and the colourful ones swayed more to Crumb being a girl or boy – so, we’re going to wait until we know Crumb’s gender. Crumb will be in with us at nighttime for the first few months anyway, so there’s no rush… but if you have any recommendations on where to buy some, please contact me on here or Twitter! A plus side to the trip was looking at all the baby clothes in John Lewis… Tom has decided that, if Crumb’s a boy, they’ll be wearing matching outfits as much as possible… funnily enough, I can imagine Tom in a babygrow.

The week ended with two lots of birthday celebrations – first up it was time to drive to Essex to celebrate my little brother Mario turning 26 with the rest of the Falcone gang and his stand-in-lover Charlie. We had a scrummy dinner at Alec’s (I wore a beautiful blue dress from Seraphine) and nattered away for hours. I do love a family catch up!

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We then drove all the way back to West London to go bowling with the Mcfamily to celebrate Mrs Izzy Judd turning 30 with a bunch of her lovely friends. I don’t think picking up large, heavy balls and chucking them at great speed (yes, I’m usually that good) is recommended for pregnant ladies, but Tom let me have one of his goes using the big metal device I remember using as a kid… I got no pins down. Ah well… I was happy to watch everyone else get competitive while I sipped on a strawberry milkshake… or two. The highlight of the night for me was seeing Harry not win at something for once – in fact he drew with Izzy. Needless to say we all reveled in (and made the most of) his misery – I’m sure it’s not going to become a regular occurrence!

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Other than that I’ve been working my butt off on promo for YOU’RE THE ONE THAT I WANT. I only have a week left until I’m meant to start maternity leave – but, seeing as I pick and choose my hours, it’ll be interesting to see how long I leave it before I get working again. I have said that March is the start of ‘me time’ though – so I’m sure things will really calm down. Obviously I’ll still be here and sharing my riveting thoughts on life… You can expect more pictures of cake and cats as I’ll have more time for my girlfriends or chilling with Leia and Aurora on the sofa.

The only annoying part of the week is that I’ve started experiencing some pain in my hips. It’s perfectly normal and is just everything stretching and softening – but I shall be making the most of bossing Tom around a little bit more. Ha!

Right, best get cracking on my last official week of work before Crumb arrives! Let’s see how much I can cram in!

Have a great week everyone!

Love, Gi. Xx

P.S. A huge congratulations to my sister-in-law Carrie for winning a What’s On Stage award for her takeover for the role of Eponine in Les Mis. She’s flipping amazing and the most talented girl in the world. I’m very proud.

A whole lot of L-O-V-E…

Hello you gorgeous lot!

One topic seemed to dominate the majority of this week – VALENTINE’S DAY! I love the romance of it all, of course I do – I’m a chicklit author, therefore, it’s instilled in me to like anything remotely gooey and sentimental – however, I couldn’t help but be reminded of how I felt at school whenever the day was looming. I was always full of nerves and worry over whether I’d receive a Valentine’s card or not – had the boy I liked noticed me? Did I have any secret admirers? The answer to both these questions, time and time again, was NO! No card, no single red rose and certainly no chocolates (let’s be frank, the chocolates were the bit I wanted the most). Booooo!

Like most girls I was left feeling unloved, unpopular and disappointed with life. So, if I could, I’d like to tell my younger self that it’s okay not to be receiving flowers and chocolates from some equally spotty teenager. One day you’ll be receiving a whole heap of love every day of the year from your special someone… and not just because a certain date in the calendar told him to do so. Top tip from me to you, younger me, never date a guy who only makes you feel loved one day a year. Got it?! Once a year is not enough.

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Having said that – I must point out that next month’s Pancake Day (it’s happening in March this year… March?!) really does excite me as a stand alone date in my diary. It’s the one day of the year I can stuff my face with pancakes and Nutella without feeling an ounce of guilt. Heaven!

So, back to this Valentine’s day – the one where I have a great husband and a little human growing in my tummy… First off we decided to film us covering Nat King Cole’s L-O-V-E as a little Valentine’s treat. Once that was completed and posted online we curled up in our PJs for a quiet night in with a Chinese takeaway and a chickflick – we opted for About Time. Ah, I sobbed. A lot. Did I mention we also munched our way through the biggest box of chocolates ever? Yummy…

Also this week…

— Me and my dad put together our first piece of flat-pack furniture for Crumb – a bedside crib called a Snuzpod from The Little Green Sheep. I’ve never done this sort of task with my dad before, but we managed to do it relatively quickly and without too much confusion (it’s simple as long as you stick to the instructions and don’t go guessing where things go). So Crumb now has a bed in our bedroom so that he/she can be with us for the first few months. Not only that, but it can actually attach to our bed and one of its sides zip down so that I can just stare at Crumb while he/she sleeps. Hurrah!

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— My Orchid plant has come back to life! My lovely friend Izzy bought me this before we got married and (after gloating that it was the first plant I’d been able to keep alive) it started to look a little sad over Christmas – but look at it now! This might seem crummy news to you, but seeing as I’m about to bring a real life human into the world (who will rely on me to keep him/her feed, watered and clean), the knowledge that I haven’t killed this plant off and have been able to nurture it back to good health is highly encouraging!

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— On a less encouraging note – I burnt my ear while trying to curl my hair. Major buzzkill! I’m not a very girlie girl (I was more of a tom boy growing up) and this is just proof that I suck at beautifying… Ouchie!

— I’ve been asking friends (as well as you guys) what baby products they recommend and I’ve been told a lot about Aden + Anais’ swaddles and muslins… well, I was instantly won over as soon as I saw their use of colour and fun prints. I now have a bunch of them!

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— This week I’ve been slightly overwhelmed with the fact that in a matter of weeks me and Tom are going to be part of a three… and that we’ll never again be the little twosome that we have been for over ten years. I don’t know why it’s started to sink in now – maybe because we’re getting far more organised and the due date is getting closer. With only six weeks to go it’s all getting very REAL! Yes, I know, the bump should’ve totally given me that realisation weeks ago – I’ve just been slow on the uptake!

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— We’ve also been to see our lovely doctor for another scan. All is good. Apparently the baby’s head is very low… I think Crumb is checking out his/her escape route. Ha!

Hope you all have a fabulous week!

Love Gi. Xx

Trying to find a local bump activity…

As soon as our baby announcement video hit YouTube (and our secret was out) I set about finding ways of having bump fun in my local area. I couldn’t wait to get started. I’d heard and read loads about Aqua Natal, Pregnancy Yoga and a whole host of other wonderful sounding things but they all seemed to take place at least a 45minute drive away. But a quick search on Google led me to discover the Lazy Daisy chain – classes which incorporate a little movement, breathing techniques and a whole heap of relaxation (and you all know how much I love that).

So over the last few months I’ve been joining some lovely bump wearing humans in a local church hall, being taught by the energetic Beth (she cycles to each class) – and it’s been great. I would say that meeting the mummies has actually been a mega bonus that I’d never thought about before – it’s nice to be able to talk all things pregnancy without feeling like you’re boring the pants off someone (I seriously started to feel sorry for my life-long friends – I know I used to talk about normal things, not just topics like ‘Did you know you poo when you give birth?’).

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I’m enjoying my weekly bump indulgence and, as there are classes up and down the country, I thought I’d ask Julie Long, the founder of Lazy Daisy, some questions on how the classes came about and what new mums can expect from them. Check out my chat with her below.

Also this week…

· My hands and feet have started to sweat an obscene amount… it’s not pretty, it’s quite slippy.

· Crumb’s room has been PAINTED! Hurrah! We’re now waiting for the carpet to be replaced and the furniture to arrive – then we’ll go about adding the final touches and making it even prettier.

· Our cat Leia gave blood and saved another cat’s life! She’s on the donor list at the RVC and we get a call every few months when another cat is poorly and in need of a blood transfusion. As cat blood can’t be stored it means we usually try to get Leia there as soon as we can if possible. If you have a cat I strongly suggest you look into how they can become a little life saver!

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· My page proofs have been completed! Hurrah! Book two can now go to the printers once the title and cover are confirmed (I’ll post more on that in the coming weeks). I also had some of team Penguin over to film some promo pieces for it (lots of laughter and me talking about cake… as normal), AND I had a very exciting meeting about my future at Penguin. I originally signed a two-book deal, so now that those two books have been delivered it was time to address the big question – ‘What’s coming next?’ Well, the answer is a whole lot more writing! Good times!

· Maternity clothing brand Isabella Oliver (worn by the likes of Gwen Stefani and Jennifer Garner) launched a new collection and kindly sent me some samples to try on and review. The autumn/winter collection was warm and snuggly, and in contrast the spring/summer collection is mostly light and breezy – just what I expect bump-wearing humans need during the hot weather. There are floaty maxi dresses and a whole heap of new patterns and pastel shades – as well as some funky darker pieces using leather (sexy mumma!). Another exciting service the brand have launched (which fits in nicely to my own experience of going out to find maternity wear – don’t bother, just stay at home on your sofa with a cuppa and some biscuits) is eStylist – where you can get one to one styling advice over webcam or via email. Seeing as us preggers ladies have new bodies to contend with (all sorts of lumps, bumps and squidgy bits), getting a bit of expert advice sure sounds like a welcome treat!

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For all the new mums out there, here’s my chat with the lovely Julie.

1. What made you start up the Lazy Daisy chain?

Gosh where do I begin? Well I gave birth to baby number 3 (Georgie) in November 2002 and it quickly became apparent, that even though I needed an income, normal work was no longer viable due to the cost of childcare. I needed to find something which fitted around family, but also something which made me ‘want’ to work; something which was worthwhile leaving my babies for…

I used my training in massage, yoga, hypnosis for birth and therapies to start teaching weekly classes and the demand was clear – particularly in our town, which is a real commuter belt. Mummies needed this! The classes expanded from 8 women to 250, then to accredited training (with Federation of Antenatal Educators and IPTI in 2009) and then into a network of teachers, mums like me, all with the same initial desire that I had!

2. What do you hope Mums will gain from joining the classes?

The knowledge that whilst we can’t guarantee how their birth will play out on the day (only mother nature can do that), what we can guarantee is that they will feel more confident and powerful and ready to ride those waves! Daisy is about finding your inner birthing mojo!

ALL mummies can benefit from this – whatever birth journey they are planning. Active Birthing to us (or as I call it relaxed-active birthing as some of our moves of positions are so subtle mum could be resting!) is about actively being part of your journey and feeling okay with that… Like a surfer who wants those big waves (contractions) to come because of the exhilaration they bring, even though they can seem a bit intimidating. Even the most experienced surfer will get hit in the face by those waves now and again and get pulled into the water – the key is though, to know how to regain control and get back on the board. To embrace the waves, so you are carried along rather than trying to hold them at bay and being knocked down by them.

3. I’ve had lots of tweets from all over the country about Lazy Daisy classes – but I realise now that the classes are worldwide (incredible). How many areas are now covered by your teachers and were you surprised by how the company has grown?

Yes I know, I still have to pinch myself – how did all this happen! We have over 130 UK teachers (including Northern Ireland) and in Feb 2012 I was so privileged to go over to Australia to train our Aussie team. I loved sitting outside the Opera House in Sydney leading training on the grass!

4. If you could give one piece of advice to soon-to-be mums, what would it be?

Just one – Gi that is too cruel…. OK the one piece of advice I’d give is understand that every birth journey is precious and amazing. And however yours plays out on the day, it is something to be proud of, even if your ‘birth sat nav’ took you on a different route to the one you expected.

Can I have one more? If you remember one thing – breathe!!! Your uterus will work so much better if it is fuelled with oxygen. If you can remember another – rotate!!! Here at Daisy we are known for the saying ‘rotate to dilate’. Quite literally this will fuel your uterus and ensure baby connects with your cervix with a nice even pressure, aiding your contractions and dilation.

Julie is super enthusiastic and loves helping new mums. I certainly recommend looking up classes in your area if you’re a mum in the making. Even just meeting other women in the same situation can be a comfort.

And finally… Tom’s home after being away for a week with the McBusted boys. YAY! Sounds like they’ve had a bit of a crazy health week (including the downing of pints of special saltwater which is meant to detox your insides). Rather them than me! Time to go so that he can give me and bump some love!

Have a great week!

Gi. Xx

Birthday Treats and Baby Shower Love!

Hello my lovely readers – how nice of you to join me once again!

As I predicted last week, this week has been a busy one – not only did I celebrate my twenty-ninth birthday (that’s right, I’m now in the final year of my twenties – no idea how that happened), I also got shown a whole lot of love by some of the special ladies in my life. Yes – it was baby shower time! But let’s start with my birthday…

First stop of the day was to see Crumb in another scan. As is a regular theme with Crumb these days, he/she refused to give us a good glimpse of their face. It’s starting to look a little cramped in there as Crumb is growing some meat on his/her bones. The best bit was seeing Crumb battle with hiccups. So cute and meant I didn’t mind not seeing facial features – besides, I’d rather not force Crumb into a position that he/she doesn’t want to go into… I don’t want to become a pushy mum already. Ha!

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For my birthday dinner Tom spoilt me with a trip to Hawksmoor for my favourite meal… STEAK! It was blooming delicious and I highly recommend checking the restaurant out – the baby ribs starter is also ridiculously good (okay, I’m dribbling now and I haven’t even mentioned the two cupcakes I ate in the afternoon… or the fry-up we ate for breakfast). Our feast was followed by a trip to the Royal Albert Hall to see Cirque Du Soleil’s Quidam, which was, as always, edge of my seat viewing.

On the morning of my baby shower I was banished to my room while my sister Giorgina (head organiser – she did a flipping amazing job), my family and Tom prepared downstairs for an afternoon of baby fun. After faffing over what to wear (I decided on a floral number from New Look), I eventually joined them all to discover our lounge had been beautified with lovely bunting, fluffy paper decorations and enough food to feed the 5000 – not only had my family all cooked, but there were also yummy cupcakes from Hummingbird Bakery and the most amazing cake I’ve seen from Symphony In Sugar. Arranged by my brother Mario, the cake was shaped and decorated to look like a baby’s bag (full of essentials) with a cute poem for Crumb attached – I’ve never seen anything like it.

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The afternoon was kicked off by Giorgina prompting us all to choose a drink with either a pink or blue straw (depending on our predictions for Crumb’s sex), we were rather surprised to find the majority of us went for blue! A few of our friends are sure me and Tom know – but I can assure you, we don’t! There’s no way we’d be able to keep it quiet if we did.

Then the gifts were given (I was truly gobsmacked at people’s generosity – so very thoughtful) and the games commenced. Giorgina had complied a list of Mr & Mrs type questions, but they were all baby themed. Having conferred with Tom she had a list of all his answers… luckily I matched quite a few of them. Then the best game ever got underway – in pairs everyone had to design a bib using fabric pens…. The task was taken very seriously and, needless to say, Crumb is going to have a whole mountain of nice bibs to wear!

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Ooh, and then people had to guess the circumference of my bump using a piece of string… the smallest estimate was 51.5inches, the largest was 66inches… It’s currently sitting at 44inches! I’m not sure whether to be thankful that I’m not as big as they expected or mortified. Haha!

It was so lovely to spend the afternoon with great people, sipping on Shloer (there was so much, it looks like I have shares in the company) and talking babies… it sure did put a smile on my face. In fact, I smiled so much I got a pain at the back of my head – does anyone else get that from smiling too much? No? Just me? Weird.

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Also this week…

· My page proofs for book two were delivered, so I’ve been back at my desk (accompanied by my new ‘G’ lamp – birthday present from Tom) reading the whole thing and checking I haven’t left in any silly mistakes. If you buy this book and find any do NOT let me know – just pretend you didn’t notice any. Ha!

· The nursery has been started on! Yay! Our trusted handymen Jorge and Pedro have stripped the walls and plastered up the holes – next week the walls will be painted. The two paints we decided to go for are called Biscuit Crumb (as if we could resist picking that when we saw the name) and Snug As A Bug. Tom actually used both these colours in a painting of Mickey Mouse that he’s done for the room. I know… he really is selfish having all these talents – seriously, share them out, dude!

· I read a book! Yes, believe it or not, reading other people’s creations happens to be part of my job, so this week I tucked into The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty. Jeeeeeeeeez… I did not see that ending coming and was totally hooked from the start!

· I found one of the best inventions ever… I’ve been a bit worried about bathing Crumb when Tom’s away as the sides of our baths are really high and I’ve had loads of people tell me not to bother with baby baths and just use the kitchen sink instead… Well, after a little research on the internet I came across a creation called Blooming Bath – a flower-shaped bath pillow that your baby sits in while in the sink. Ah, I fell in love and ordered a sunflower straight away! Fingers crossed it’s as good as it looks!

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Right, I’d better get back to proof reading!

Have a lovely week guys and gals!

Gi. Xx

P.S. I just want to wish a big Happy Birthday to theatre company Paines Plough – they celebrated their forty years this week by announcing a whole heap of new writing they’ll be touring the country with. Go to their website and check out where you can see their amazing work!

Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming…

For the first 12 weeks of my pregnancy, Tom hated me doing ANYTHING physical – even walking. I’m pretty sure that, given half the chance, he’d have wrapped me in bubblewrap and left me safely in bed for the whole nine months – but let’s face it, that’s unrealistic. Plus, the constant popping of bubbles every time I rolled over would be thoroughly annoying after a while… I’d get terribly cranky.

In all seriousness, I was knackered for the first 20 weeks of pregnancy anyway. I may have had no morning sickness (yes, that’s correct – I didn’t spew once), but I had an overwhelming need for daily afternoon naps… it’s not something I complained about! Who doesn’t like curling up on the sofa at midday and dozing off whilst cuddling a cat? Thank goodness I’m an author and can work in my PJs at home – making up my working hours as I go! If I worked in an office there’s no way I’d be able to stop myself dozing off at my desk. I found it impossible to stay awake!

But (eventually) I acquired a burst of energy and suddenly felt ready to get out of the house and DO something. Plus, I knew it was time to get active. I’ve read a lot of books and know that fitness is very important in pregnancy – one book even compared it to running the marathon. You couldn’t do one of those without getting your body prepared first. Well, you could, but it wouldn’t be much fun. Giving birth is hugely demanding on our bodies, and therefore I was thrilled that the foggy sleepiness had lifted and that I was ready to get going.

Most women are probably tempted to cancel their gym memberships as soon as they discover they’re pregnant, but actually, I think it’s worth keeping. You may not be training to get your butt into those tight jeans anymore, but you are getting your body ready, and hopefully making things a lot easier for yourself in the long run.

I’ve heard a lot of ladies say that they loved swimming during their pregnancy, and that is why I found myself at my local Virgin Active Health Club (displaying my bump in all its glory in my one-piece costume from Topshop), splashing around and having a jolly good time in the pool. I’m not the strongest swimmer in the world (in fact, if other swimmers splash in my face I have to remind myself that I’m fine and not about to choke on a few drops of water), but I’ve found it really calming. I’m the picture of serenity after I’ve had a float around… actually, that’s a total lie. I’m usually a bloated red mess – however, I FEEL great! It’s nice to have half an hour or so without the weight of my bump controlling my body. Now I’m in my third trimester (nine weeks until my due date – AH!) I’ve been told I might get tired again, but ideally I’d love to keep up my new fish-like-talents – move out the way Ariel, there’s a new Mermaid in town. ;-)

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Talking about time slipping away from us – we’ve finally started to get organised! This week Tom and I took ourselves off to Mothercare to get a whole heap of essentials for Crumb (a huge thank you to the staff at the Watford store who managed to answer all of our silly questions!). Tom’s most important item to find was a baby car seat (we opted for a black Maxi-cosi Pebble), and for me – I just wanted to get my hands on everything so that I could start nesting properly. Ha! Believe it or not, the item most recommended by you mummies out there was Sophie the Giraffe, so I’m happy to say Sophie is settling into her new home very nicely! Whilst in the shop I also totally fell in love with Jools Oliver’s Little Bird range – it’s just so beautiful and perfect for a spring baby. I’ve ordered her moses basket and a gorgeous patchwork quilt. :-)

We’re waiting for a few bits to be delivered, but I’ll keep you posted on how the nursery is coming together over the next few weeks – so far we’ve emptied it of everything that was in there… Like I said, we’ve made a start.

The week came to a close with a lovely group meal at The Judds, for which Izzy slaved away to make a gorgeous Thai Green Chicken Curry (she really is becoming the model wife).

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Great to see the boys as always – but even better to have a girlie natter and hear all about Georgia’s wedding planning! Check out this week’s HELLO! mag for an exclusive photoshoot with the gorgeous couple.

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In other news, I’ve started to get those nightly leg cramps that I’ve been warned about, but I’ve found a way to fight them off – as soon as I sense one stirring I flex my foot. That’s it. Simple, yet effective! I can actually feel the oncoming pain huff as it scuttles away begrudgingly.

I’ve got a busy week next week – I’m turning 29 on Wednesday (Eek!) AND my sister Giorgina is throwing me a baby shower at the weekend… How exciting!

Have a good one!

Gi. Xx

P.S. A very important piece of equipment arrived this week – my Medela Freestyle breastpump (described to me by one friend as ‘the best’ and also recommended by a few of you). On seeing the device Tom asked what would happen if he tried using it… I’ve no doubt that I’m going to come home one day and see him trying it out. Ha!

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Getting Prepared with hypnobirthing

When we first announced that we were expecting our first child I had a handful of friends (who are all mothers) get in touch to tell me about hypnobirthing and how wonderful they’d found using the technique during labour. Let’s face facts – we’ve all heard pretty traumatic childbirth stories (people just love sharing them – they revel in the horrified expressions they get in return), so I was ready to try anything to help get me through the ordeal… what I wasn’t prepared for was just how lovely I’d find hypnobirthing, and how it would change my whole perception on the day we welcome our little Crumb into the world.

For me, the main message is that by the time I’m ready to give birth, my body will have managed for nine whole months to create this little human. It will have done that all on its own with no outside guidance and instruction… so why would that suddenly all go to pot? Why not trustfully listen to what my body wants me to do and roll with it?

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I know some of you might be wondering what on earth I’m talking about – so I’ve asked my teacher Hollie to answer a few questions to help explain it all:

What is hypnobirthing?
Hypnobirthing is a completely logical childbirth education programme, but one with a difference. Instead of looking at how a woman can merely “get through” or cope with birth, it focuses on teaching a woman how her body is designed to birth comfortably and gently, and empowers her to do so. We look at where the fear of birth comes from, how it affects birth, and primarily the impact adrenalin has on how our birthing muscle – the uterus – works during labour. Hypnobirthing teaches deep relaxation, breathing and massage techniques to stimulate the production of endorphins – the love hormone – during labour, along with defining the very valuable role of the birth companion.

Does it involve hypnotising the woman so that she’s in a labour-loving trance?
Rather than the hypnosis we see on stage, hypnobirthing teaches self-hypnosis as a deep state of relaxation with a heightened state of mental awareness. When our mind is deeply relaxed, so are our muscles, and learning how to achieve this is the key to a lovely labour. At no point are women in a trance or out of control, hypnomums tend to describe how they felt in labour as safe, empowered, calm and goddess-like! There are no pocket watches involved.

How do hypno-births differ from the births we see on television shows like One Born Every Minute (must stress, this is one of my favourite shows, although I’m currently banning myself from watching it) or in films?
Sadly we’re very used to seeing birth in a set way in our media. More often than not, women are on their backs, legs up, sweating and screaming, whilst poor old dad is watching on helplessly and getting pummelled or sworn at. It’s dramatic and predictable, but it gets ratings. When I show my couples videos of hypnobirths, they’ve rarely seen anything like it before – and not because it’s anything weird or voodoo – but just because the whole atmosphere is so different. Hypnobirths tend to be very relaxed and loving, you’ll see couples completely connected, able to have a laugh, and working as a team to bring their baby into the world. Another big difference is in the babies when they’re born – instead of being bright red and screaming, hypnobabies are often born asleep and calm – a clear reflection of the gentle birth they’ve just been part of.

What has surprised you most about the hypnobirthing technique?
Probably it’s simplicity. I stumbled across it when I was six months pregnant with my son, and quite honestly I thought it sounded too good to be true (and a bit new age). I thought I’d have to buy into something, but in fact, all I had to commit to was the practice. Just understanding how birth worked opened my eyes hugely, and also learning to appreciate that it was a real team effort between me, my husband and our baby. I wasn’t alone, and having someone there who knew exactly what to do for me and how to create this safe environment for our birth was paramount. The other thing that surprised me was the obvious impact it had on our son. He was calm from day one.

What advice would you give mums-to-be about what’s to come?
First, don’t listen to horrible birth stories. If you haven’t had your own experience of birth, your subconscious mind grabs hold of these and stores them as your own. Not helpful. Second, put a lot of thought into your birth environment – have your own music playing, nice lighting, aromatherapy oils. Whether you choose to birth at home or in hospital, you can create a space where you feel safe and nurtured, and this will have a massive impact on your birth. Third, step aside and let your body do what it’s perfectly designed to. Freeing your mind and turning within as this incredible experience unfolds is something I can’t describe. You are bringing a human into the world, and that makes you amazing.

(Hollie runs friendly group courses in East Dulwich and private courses all over London. For more information about course dates and availability, and to read birth stories from the couples she’s taught, visit www.londonhypnobirthing.co.uk. If you’re further afield, visit The Hypnobirthing Association website to find your local practitioner.)

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I like to think of hypnobirthing as a form of guided meditation. It eases your mind and calms your fears – plus it’s an amazing thing to do with Tom. I know it makes him feel really included in the pregnancy – but more than that, it enables him to see how important and needed his input is. Tom will be my main support on the day, and I couldn’t think of anyone I’d rather have by my side offering words of encouragement, giving me light touch massages (seriously, they’re blooming awesome) and, well, just being my absolute rock.

Also this week… we took a trip into London for our latest scan (I’m becoming increasingly thankful for my bump badge on the Underground) and I’m pleased to report that Crumb is growing nicely and looking very happy in there – the head is even down, which we’re told is excellent news.

We had dinner with my sister-in-law Carrie and took a trip to the theatre to see Donmar West End’s The Weir at The Wyndhams – it’s a play I’ve heard a lot about over the years, so I’m thrilled I’ve finally got to see it. It’s funny but hauntingly tragic at the same time… I laughed and cried!

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And on top of all that, ideas are being bashed around for my THIRD novel. Yes, I know, you’ve not got your hands on book two yet – but I should be able to show you a cover for that one VERY soon (and confirm the title!).

So I’m frantically calm, but very happy with how the year is going so far!

Love to you and yours!

Gi. Xx

P.S. Last week when I talked about maternity wear I failed to mention my quest to find comfortable underwear (especially knickers) – but I’ve cracked it! Bravado seamless panties are amazingly comfortable and they don’t dig into my new squidgy bits! Ha! Their bras are worth checking out too!

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