The Happy Baby Project

A happy baby needs a happy mum


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A party girl’s guide to pregnancy

After I got knocked up, I spent a lot of time contemplating the important issues of pregnancy. The stuff that really matters about parenthood.

You know, like:

But when will I get to go to New York now?

Or:

Why did I not lose my post-wedding weight before I got pregnant and even fatter?  

And:

When can I legitimately start drinking wine again?

Obviously I am being facetious. I worried – worry – about lots of things – what will I be like as a mother? Will I handle the pain of birth? How will this affect my friendships, my relationship, my family? What will happen at work? Will my baby be healthy? Will they be happy?

But at 19.5 weeks (yes, the bump has popped), with energy apparently flooding back to my veins and Christmas party season approaching, my thoughts have been turning to how a former party girl handles her new pregnant social life. I can’t help but be struck by how my life has changed inexorably – how my interactions with some friends is totally different now, how I’m often hit by the FMO (fear of missing out) – and I wonder whether I will ever go back to being the carefree, irresponsible wine-guzzler who stayed up til the cows came home that I once was. Let’s be realistic – I am still enjoying a glass or two of wine a week, and since I got my energy back I’m trying to reinvigorate my social life and still really enjoy hanging out with friends – but my life and my identity have changed from before and it is sometimes hard to get my head round that, especially when the lives of the people I love carry on the same as always.

After almost 4 months of sober partying (we can forget the first 4 or so weeks when I had no idea I was pregnant), I have realised a few things – positive and negative – about my new predicament. While I’m obviously not talking about a chilled out meal with friends which is as wonderful as before, I’m thinking about that Saturday night session that started with a pop of a cork and ended somewhere around 3am on the floor with a cigarette and a dance-off-cum-wrestle with your best mate. Here’s my guide to pregnant partying:

1. It is always nicer to have other pregnant women or breastfeeding mums around at parties – you can unashamedly have long conversations about hypno-birthing and maternity clothes, make that glass of champers or wine last an interminably long time, prepare each other interesting soft drink concoctions when others forget, and make yourself feel better about leaving early by doing it together.

2. But someone will almost always make a comment about the boring preggie women in the corner, or similar, not realising that you might be a little sensitive about your demotion from party girl to home girl….

3. While a temporary energy boost or spike in conversation can make you feel like you want to stay up for hours like you used to, it is ridiculously lovely (and novel) to leave before midnight, get in your jammies and read in bed with a cup of hot chocolate laughing about the night you’ve had. And remember it all afterwards.

4. Driving to parties, sipping on soft drinks and choosing to stay in more = a healthier bank account (just don’t waste it all on your new-found catalogue shopping fetish).

5. I may just be imagining it but I appear to have developed both a bump AND a waist, which (based on no medical evidence whatsoever) I am attributing to losing an alcohol-induced fatty waist dohnut.

6. There is nothing more satisfying than the smugness that comes with being up early on a Sunday, sans sore head, and having a productive day while your other half smells like a brewery and fails to make it off the sofa.

7. You often have better conversations while sober than you used to in the midst of a Saturday session. Before when I was in a party mood, I often didn’t want to have deep and meaningfuls, I wanted to laugh and joke and flitter about and dance. I just didn’t have the concentration span for long, in-depth conversations. But now I really enjoy one-to-one chats about life and love and happiness and other things I never used to talk about on a night out. I actually feel like I’m getting to know people better and its lovely.

8. After around 10.30pm, sessioners who have been necking wine will make poor conversation partners. They are unlikely to have the concentration or inclination to discuss anything in depth, and you may find conversation flitting manically between topics, jokes and wine spillages. While this can be funny for a while, at some point in the night you need to give up, declare your tiredness and head home to reconnect with your duvet and sheepskin slippers.

9. You can make up for the hobbies you’ve lost (namely binge drinking and chain smoking) by taking up new ones, and try to convince your party friends to join you even if it’s stuff you’ve never done together before. I’m enjoying cosy pub lunches and long walks, catalogue reading and online shopping, interior decorating, buying things to bake with (while putting off the actual baking bit), and husband-baiting.

10. Hungover people really do talk a lot of shit.


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My first NCT nearly new sale

So, my mummy friend invited me to my first NCT nearly new sale last Sunday. Yes, its mega early (I’m only 18 weeks this Saturday) but I thought as I didn’t have to buy anything it might be a good way to leisurely sniff out some bargains.

Well, leisurely it was not. We got there 20 minutes before it opened (NCT members get in 15 minutes before everyone else) and there was already a queue. There then proceeded to be a lot of pushing and shoving and annoyance and general angst before we all flooded in. And from then on it really was handbags (and prams, and bumps) at dawn. My friend was brilliant, shouting “there’s a baby bjorn in the corner – grab it!” and “get that bumbo under the desk!” while I stumbled round confused, wondering what on earth is a bumbo?! When I found said bumbo, another be-bumped lady told me she’d got it first and I was unceremoniously pushed to another stand.

Anyway, thanks to my friend who I shouted to across the stands “what should I buy next?!” every 2 minutes, I managed to buy some very cute stuff at bargain prices so I’d definitely recommend you check out your local sale if you want to pick up some bargains. My tips for surviving another one (and it really is survival of the fittest) is:

  • get there early
  • ditch the jacket / pram as its boiling and rammed
  • carry a large bag for your purchases (I had to make two trips to the car)
  • bring a friend / partner to recce the whole place and tell you what is good and what to go for
  • look under the tables and in baskets to find hidden treasures
  • don’t buy the first thing you see – there might be more of the same brand in better condition in other stalls
  • work out what you really need / want in advance otherwise it’s overwhelming
  • make sure you take a break after about 15 minutes of manic haggling – you’ll need it

So, to my surprise as a complete novice at these sorts of things, and parenting generally, I reckon I got some good stuff. Here’s what I bought:

A bumbo for £15 (RRP approx £40) – without tray which needs to be bought separately. Wish I’d shopped around as there were actually loads for around £13, many with trays

A travel cot for £20 (RRP approx £60-80)

Baby bath seat £1

A very cute rocking horse, (looooove!), £12

Baby bjorn (a little dirty) £5 (RRP approx £70)

Cute play matt thing £10

Tommee Tippee baby monitor (£8 – new) (RRP approx £35)

Assorted toys & books, £1 and £2 each


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An amazing birth story

Since I posted my blog post on pregnancy yoga, active birthing and hypno-birthing, I’ve been inundated with emails and texts from mums saying I should definitely give it a go, and telling me some incredible birth stories of their own. I heard from friends who said they’d actually enjoyed the birth, had felt like a strong powerful woman throughout – they’d felt primeval almost, howling like a wolf. Of course other friends seemed to have an awful time of it, and I have no idea which camp I will fall under, but the common theme seemed to be that lots of people said the hypno-birth CDs by Maggie Howell were brilliant, and most said that if you really want to try a pain-relief free active birth, you need to truly believe in it, start early, get your partner involved, and make it your all-encompassing aim. A half-arsed attempt doesn’t seem to work.

One of the most incredible birth stories was from a friend who I’ll call Anna, who had an easy, quick birth at home with her second child. It was such an amazing story that I had to share it:

I have just had baby no 2 and did the whole hypo-birthing thing and it absolutely and completely works!  I didn’t go to classes (although I think they would be great) – I just listened to the CD you have (lots in the last few weeks) and read the book that goes with it – Effective Birth Preparation – as well as the Marie Mongan Hypnobirthing book.  I practiced the breathing a bit before and it really does work.  I had baby no 2 after having an easy 4 hour labour in my bedroom at home – listening to the birthing music CD. I was so relaxed I didn’t want to go to hospital until I had to (although by the time I realised I needed to it was too late and I ended up having him on our bedroom floor pretty much delivered by my husband!).

It was the most incredible experience especially compared to last time – I would do it again tomorrow (although some gas and air would have been good – it helps with the relaxation). So I just wanted to say go with it, get into it – it is amazing!  And although only 3 weeks old, my baby boy seems to be happy, chilled and content so far! I am a complete natural birthing convert! Your partner does need to be in on it as well – this time I made mine read certain bits of the book and he believed it more and was really supportive.  I even had him practicing birth breathing (you breath baby out not push) when he was having a poo! He just kept prompting me this time to relax which did really help.

My first baby was a little different…

I know it works as I got a bit half-heartedly into it last time with my first labour – I was told about it initially when I had reflexology close to my due date and then listened to the CD a couple of times a day in the last couple of weeks. I went into labour on the Monday lunchtime after having a sweep, 10 days overdue.  I forgot all about Hypnobirthing and laboured all day and night – and all the next day!  My contractions would get to a couple minutes apart then I would not have one for 15 minutes… By Tuesday evening I was exhausted – I had spoken to the hospital who told me I was not ready to come in and who said it was too early for any pain relief. I had a mini breakdown – was so tired and couldn’t face another night of no sleep and not progressing.

I then decided to get a grip and try the hypno-birthing.  So I turned down the lights, lay on the sofa with my tens machine, put the music on, and imagined I was an animal in a field! A couple of hours later I told my husband I was ready to go to hospital, he didn’t really believe me as I was so much calmer than I had been, nor did the midwife that I had previously spoken to on the phone (who basically said I told you not to come in yet and tried to send me home again!)- but when she examined me I was 8 cm (much to her surprise!). I believe this was only due to the fact I completely relaxed and chilled out about it for a couple of hours – and let my body do what it is designed for!  I had the pool then which was great and the midwives kept saying they couldn’t believe I was fully dilated and chatting and calm and not really in that much discomfort.

BUT they told me the baby seemed to be in distress so they took me out of the pool down to delivery suite, wired me up to loads of machines to monitor him, tried to make me push when I wasn’t ready and didn’t feel like I wanted to – and as soon as I was taken out of the calm environment the pain was unbelievable, I couldn’t relax, had no pain relief and was too late to have any. It all went downhill from there and ended up needing forceps!

So I went into my second birth ready to completely embrace the relaxation and hypno-birthing and believe in it and it worked! My husband took it more seriously this time as well – he saw how well I did in the middle last time, compared to the beginning and the end – so tell your partner if this works it will be much less stressful for him!

I am not normally a no drugs / no pain relief kind of girl but think for child birth its the way forward (although I loved the gas and air and would have it every day if I could)!


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My Maternity Wardrobe

Without going nuts on maternity clothes, I’ve managed to pick up some really nice things that I’m hoping will keep me going for the next 6 months. Where possible, I’m buying things that will look great after the baby is born as otherwise it seems really wasteful, and I’ve been borrowing what I can from mummy friends. Here’s what I like:

Maternity jeans 

Tops

  • I’ve found GAP does some great non-maternity V-neck baggy Ts that will go well with or without bump – a nice low V to show off new ginormous cleavage with plenty of room for growing bump and nice and long.
  • Topshop has some nice maternity T-shirts but they are 90% polyester so not great if you want skin to breathe.
  • Although a bit more expensive, and as they are tight they look better if your bump is a bit bigger, the Seraphine nursing tops are very glamorous
  • Thanks to the comments below, I’ve also recently bought the Isabella Oliver ruched tank, striped top and scoop neck top all which are gorgeous and show off my bump. Great catalogue to flick through too and they are currently doing 20% off.

The Scoop Top | Top | Isabella Oliver

Isabella Oliver Scoop top

Knitwear

Dresses

  • I’ve picked up some lovely maternity dresses from Mamas & Papas on ebay (£3 each – bargain!) – love the shape as they show off your cleavage and are loose over the bump (tight doesn’t work for me).
  • The Vila and Poem collections at Oliver Bonas also include some lovely non-maternity dresses that work well with a bump.
  • I bought the gorgeous Emily dress from Isabella Oliver in wine which is really flattering and shows off my bump – now 30% off with the flash sale.
  • I love the gorgeous Asos breton stripe dress (as seen in Pregnancy & Baby magazine, my new guilty pleasure) 
  • My favourite purchases however are from JoJo Maman Bebe which seems to suit me the best – I really love my JoJo Maman Bebe essential maternity dress which I have in 2 colours (LOTS of compliments – first time ever for maternity clothes), although like lots of JoJo Maman Bebe stuff the arms are ridiculously long
  • I also love their black shift dresses, now sold out though

Essential Maternity Dresses

JoJo Maman Bebe Essential Maternity dress – ridiculously comfy & flattering

Accessories

Coats 

  • It seems lots of women just wear their normal coats “open” with a scarf covering bump, but I’m spending Christmas in Scotland so I’d like to get a swing coat that will cover bump and be good for normal too. JoJo Manan Bebe has some nice ones and H&M has some really nice coats at a decent price (under £40). Asos is a place to try too.

Maternity bras 

  • I’ve got the super comfy Bravado maternity and nursing bras from JoJo Maman Bebe in black and white (£25)
  • Just to keep some semblance of glamour, I got the Elle Macpherson La Mere black lace maternity bra £35 – actually lovely and comfy and doesn’t look too bad either.

Cotton Flannel Kimono Robe

Charlotte & Co dressing gowns

Nursing stuff, lazing clothes and nighties

  • I’m heading to Primark for their button down dark nighties, pants, trackie bums and vest tops.
  • I also bought this lovely nightie from Mamas & Papas
  •  And this gorgeous wrap around dressing gown from Charlotte & Co
  • Rather than nursing tops which I’ve heard mixed messages about, I’m planning just to wear shirts and vests and to perhaps pick up a mamascarf.

….BUT MY FAVOURITE PURCHASE OF THE LOT has to be, rather embarrassingly, my Just Sheepskin slippers which, I think it is not an exaggeration to say, have increased my day-to-day happiness tenfold. Oh the glamour!


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The growing pains of a pregnant mum

Below is a list of all the myriad fun I’ve been having with my pregnancy, and some things that I’ve found useful. I have sadly found some GPs and midwives not to be very helpful in diagnosing exactly what’s wrong and trying to work out solutions that actually attack the cause rather than just the symptoms (one female GP pretty much told me that pregnancy sucks – deal with it which was lovely), so I’ve had to self-diagnose and try a few different things:

1. Nipples – my god where do I start? Cracked, sore, red, flakey. There’s a red ring around the nipple now. They are itchy and quite frankly revolting. And I’m supposed to be maintaining a normal sex life?! Hmmm. The normal nipple creams are Lanisoh (Vasoline-like) and Kamilosan (more of a soothing cream) but thesehaven’t really worked for me. I’m now trying to use a mild steroid cream (hydrocortisone + 1%) which I’m hoping works. Alternatively I’ve self diagnosed that it might be nipple thrush (lovely!) which likes warm moist environments (and therefore using a nipple cream might not be a great idea after all) so I’ve booked a GP appointment to get a thrush cream – miconazole seems to be the one most people refer to. I’ve also bought really comfy soft disposable nipple pads from Lanisoh to put under my bra and protect clothes and some cotton nipple pads and breast shields. The latter two aren’t very comfy though and hard to use. I’ve also heard its good to walk around topless to get air to them – but its a little hard to do that in a cool October night!

2. Hives – luckily after one female GP just told me I had to live with this, another GP diagnosed this properly although I’d self-diagnosed in the meantime. It’s when your body is either allergic to the pregnancy hormones or when the preggie hormones make you allergic to something you were previously OK with. It shows up in dry red or white blotches all over your skin – for me my chest, neck and face, for others it can be on legs and belly. They are itchy and can join into one big blotch – attractive! Sadly it is hard to treat but I visited my GP and got anti-histimines including Piriton which is a drowsy one for night to help you sleep. He also gave me antibiotics but this sadly didn’t clear this up. Again a mild steroid cream helps, as does being relaxed and getting loads of sleep. You could also try cutting out the usual baddies from your food – glutens, sugars, dairy – to see if this helps. Also look out for what you put on your skin – you might need to change to a lighter less chemical range during your pregnancy – I’ve found Liz Earle pretty good or some people swear by Avene products.

Obviously I don’t like taking anti-histimes or steroid creams when pregnant, and worry it could harm the baby (even though there is no proof that it does and the doctor prescribed them) but I have come to believe that stress is the worst thing for the baby and it is much more important that mum is healthy, happy and relaxed, so its worth it in the end. I now need something for the horrible niggle that its not great for baby though!

3. Pelvis / joints – In your first trimester and then towards the end, your body is pumped full of relaxin which helpfully expands your pelvis to allow baby room, but rather unhelpfully makes your joints less stable and often they can ping out at great pain and make you feel like a granny. For me, I felt a painful ache in my right buttock which turned out to be because my glutes were tighening round my right pelvis bone which had slipped out of place. Some people swear by osteopaths (I saw Finn Thomas at Barnes osteopath) but I’m also having great results from a physio (Helen at the White Hart phsyio clinic) who is giving me gentle pelvis strengthening exercises. Preggie yoga is a great help too. It’s best to see someone when you get pain – unlike what the GP told me this isn’t the sort of thing you should be putting up with!

4. Exzcema – If you had it before pregnancy, it will either go away or become even stronger. Guess what happened to me?! Yes of course, even worse. Unlike what panic-ridden mums on forums say, taking piriton or other anti-histimines, and using steroid creams where necessary is fine. Better for mum to be happy and not stressed and itchy, which is of greater harm to the baby. Best to go to the GP first to check they are happy with it and to check it isn’t actually something else (like hives or acne!).

5. Smelly pee / discharge / sweat – Yes how lovely. I started finding my pee started smelling pretty strong / funky and hadn’t a clue what it was. Mums on my baby forum said this was normal (phew) and that you should carry round baby wipes to freshen up all day but in fact I worked out what it was by mistake. Due to my hives, I stopped taking the preggie vitamins for a bit and lo and behold, all smelly pee stopped. So my theory (based on no science whatseover) is that the preggie vitamins have just such high concentrations of vitamins that your body has to discharge it somehow and it must pump through your pee and sweat etc. So it is totally normal and controllable but I haven’t had any problems with this since I stopped taking the preggie vits. Obviously I wouldn’t recommend you try this before speaking to your GP / midwife first, although I understand the vitamins are only really need in the first 12 weeks anyway.


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Pregnancy yoga, active birthing & hypno-birthing

I’m 16 weeks and 6 days. And I’m trying something called Active Birth Yoga. Well in fact I tried it. Once. And I was a little bit small so I felt a little bit ridiculous as all the other women were so much bigger (one was 41 weeks) especially as the exercises could have been done by an arthritic 90 year old, while I can still touch my toes.

But I’m planning on giving this active birth thing a shot.

Ina May Gaskin appears to be the poster girl for the movement and the premise is pretty understandable. It says us women were born to give birth – its simple. Our bodies were meant to do it, they know what to do, we just need to chill out and get on with it. The modern era of medicine is of course welcome in what it can do in high risk cases, but in fact it has complicated matters. It makes us lie down when actually gravity tells us the best way to give birth is sitting, squatting or on all fours. Its what primitive woman used to do – there’s cave paintings and everything.

But with modern medicine and our risk-averse society, they say, we give up our natural maternal instinct to have birth imposed upon us. It’s all tubes and examinations and drugs and pushing and pulling and lying down and not really feeling anything.  Its One Born Every Minute. It’s tearing and groggy babies, they say, and the fear instilled in us by this myth that it’s really bloody hard just makes us tense and with this tension comes pain. Its a midwife-led birth not a mum-led birth. But birth, done naturally, can actually be pain free.

Pain free?

Yes please. But how realistic is this really? And will aiming for a pain free birth simply cause more panic and guilt later on when the contractions kick in and you’re screaming for the morphine? Most of my friends gave birth on epidurals, all blissfully unaware of any pains down below, and all seemed very happy about it too, with lovely happy babies to show for it. As one friend said, she just didn’t handle pain very well and she ended up having a lovely time on a walking epidural. Is it necessarily better to vow not to touch an epidural while risking an onslaught of unimaginable pain?

Well I’ve decided, against my more cynical judgment, to give it a go. I went the Active Birth Yoga class run by Natalie Meddings who is also a doula, and although I spent much of the hour and a half trying to kick my cycnical side into submission, I found the whole thing pretty interesting.

We started with tea and biscuits, so far so nice, and a new mum came in to share her “birth story”. Now you can imagine anyone willing to discuss their birth story in public is unlikely to go through the list of painful and embarrassing ailments, but this was a birth that I’d never heard the like of before. She stayed at home until the last possible minute and then had contractions for a couple of hours (which were apparently not painful) until a blissful waterbirth. She remembered her hypno-birthing technique of imagining blowing a balloon away and listening to her partner repeating the mantra that every surge (for a “surge” is what hypno birthers cleverly call a “contraction”) would bring her closer to her baby. It sounded like a beautiful and peaceful birth, and she certainly looked amazing for a mum of a 4 week old baby.

Yet this didn’t really coincide with the stories I’d heard about birth. The hours and hours of waiting and howling, the vomiting and shitting, the excruciating pain and blood and complications and “I can’t do it!”.

While I tried, and failed, to catch someone’s eye in order to roll mine cynically, I realised that actually if I found the confidence to try, then this was the birth I’d always imagined having. Of finding myself as an animal, instinctive, moaning in a new animal moan that echoed down the ages to women centuries old who had been through the same thing.

And I really like the idea of the privacy you get from staying at home as long as you can and only going to hospital when things get back. As Natalie says, you can’t really do much more of a private thing than giving birth – its about a million times more private than having sex or having a poo and those you don’t do with a roomful of interveners! – so I want to try to do most of it myself, at home, relaxing with The Chef, and then being in hospital at the last minute with a midwife who lets us do it in our own time and in our own way. But of course if I need them I’ll be so glad they’re there.

I have a lot of work to do then. As its my first I especially need the fact that this is natural, that it could be easy, and even dare I say it a wonderful experience, seep into me. Here’s what I’m planning to do:

  1. I’m going to continue the Active Birth Yoga course but only from when I’m about 5 months and have a bit more of a bump
  2. I’ve bought a hypno birthing CDEffective Birth Preparation by Maggie Howell and also her relaxing music CD for the birth
  3. I’m going to practice relaxed breathing, pelvic floor exercises, and relaxation using floral oils like lavender
  4. I have until December to try to persuade The Chef to join me in a hypno-birthing day long group class. Oh my. At £165 for a one day group session its not cheap though!

I’ll let you know how it goes.


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An introduction to The Happy Baby Project

I write the blog The Happiness Project London and here’s the last post I wrote which may explain why we’re now here:

I’ve been quiet over the last few weeks because life has changed somewhat, and it has something to do with the little wriggly person that’s been growing inside me. Yes, the HPL is having a baby!

And while I’m wildly happy about it now, there were times in first 12 weeks when I really struggled to remind myself of all I’ve learnt about being positive. Of course I appreciate how lucky I am, and what an exciting thing is about to happen to us, but my body’s reaction to the news wasn’t exactly pleasant. And it took this wonderful blog post by Caroline No to give me the strength to say IT’S BEEN BLOODY SHIT! I’ve been a bit rubbish at this pregnancy stuff! And finally – who cares!

My skin decided it didn’t like the preggie hormone or the preggie hormone didn’t like certain foods anymore and broke out in giant red itchy spots all over my chest, neck and face, which might or might not have been hives. I got teenage acne. I developed an agonising pain in my right buttock which turned out to be my pelvic girdle pinging out of place, making walking nigh on impossible. I found myself sobbing like a heartbroken teenager for hours on end, once hysterically laughing and sobbing at once, not knowing why. I felt nauseous and fat and bloated and frumpy, unable to squeeze into my old clothes but not big enough for maternity gear. I ate three burgers in a week. I missed wine and hangovers, still do. And don’t get me started on itchy boobs and cracked nipples and giant wire-less maternity bras which make cycling to work an interesting exercise in pot-hole avoidance and agonising bouncing droopy pendulous bosoms….

A cumulative force of utter exhaustion, the need to cry repeatedly and teenage acne-like skin meant I lived as a hermit for weeks – not even wanting to go for a walk and covering my face when I saw anyone including a man reading our meter: “Don’t Look at Meeeee!”.

There were sudden periods of anger, an unbearable urge to snap. The Poor Chef got the brunt of it, being the only person in my vicinity for much of the time. You put a wine glass in the dishwasher the wrong way – YOU IDIOT!!! You didn’t put the plant pot in the right place – YOU RUINED MY BIRTHDAY!!! And how could he understand the raging hormones that were filling my body with negativity and fury and sadness, when he was just really really happy?

But on the cusp of 12 weeks things got better. I got my energy back, which built up to something like hysteria when I realised I could finally socialise and actually see my friends again (lunches and walks along the Thames best – drunken dinners not to the most fun when you’re sipping on Schloer all night and wondering why everyone’s laughing at an unfunny joke). My skin cleared up and my hair went from greasy to full. I contacted friends, I felt positive, I started thinking about the future. And The Poor Chef came out of hiding.

And then this week we had the scan. I was a bag of nerves, wondering if it was there at all, or alive or deformed, or multiple. But then we saw him (for we call him “he” after the scan but we don’t know if he is a she yet of course). What a gorgeous wee wriggler. He was tiny, of course. But with a round little belly and a lovely face with big lips. And beautiful frogs legs and two feet, which he kicked in the air before turning his little bottom towards us. I can’t feel him yet but my tummy is getting more solid and I love the little reminder that he’s there, wriggling and waiting.

So now it’s different. I’ve told people which really helps. I’ve bought a few bigger clothes and am enjoying better skin and shaking off the indignity of the last few weeks. I’m loving my new body – the round curves, the bigger breasts, the hardening belly. I’m so proud of my body, so impressed at its strength and the way it seems to know exactly what to do. I can see why women who’ve given birth often want to do marathons  afterwards – and I feel the same – because I love my body in a way I never have before and I’m amazed at what it is capable of and I want to get fit, not just work out at the gym to lose weight, but get stronger and faster and show myself what my body can actually do. I feel womanly and dare I say a bit beautiful.

I am already aware of competitive mum syndrome and what lies ahead. There are the I’m-still-a-party-girl mums (I stayed up til 2am and wasn’t tired at all! Yes the baby is two weeks old lets book that girls’ holiday to Ibiza!). There are the body-beautiful mums (I’ve not put on ANY weight! In fact I’ve LOST weight! Who’s the first for botox?!). There are the capitalist mums (I’ve just bought the most fabulous baby papoose to match my bugaboo pram travel system in a neutral colour to match my tastefully decorated nursery!). And there are the this-is-totally-natural-to-me mums (vitamins? I didn’t bother with those. Epidurals? I’m just going to power breathe with my doula).

So what sort of mum will I be? Well who knows. But I’m not pining my party days any more. In fact I’m loving getting to bed at 10pm and being cosy under a woollen blanket on the sofa. My favourite recent purchase is a great pair of sheepskin slippers.  I’m looking forward to my body getting big and round because I have a feeling it’s exactly what it’s supposed to be doing and I really want to take care of it from now on. And I believe what my child really needs is our unconditional love, and a favourite cuddly toy which is soft and old and worn, and being read to all the time, and its grannies and granddads and aunty and uncle teaching it about life and the world and where it came from.

I know one thing for sure. This is the biggest adventure of our lives and its one that I’m finally ready for. And sometimes it will take all I’ve learned about happiness and positivity to keep me going when times are tough, but the joy this little thing will bring will teach me more about life and love than I ever imagined possible.

So wriggle away wee man, we love you very much, and we can’t wait to meet you in March!