Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Illuminasia

Last week I took the motorway en route for Blackpool to attend brand new attraction Illuminasia with my two year old nephew Joe and my Dad (aka Gad-Gad).

Illuminasia blends the traditional Chinese craft of lantern making with modern technology in the totally vintage Winter Gardens. The attraction takes you through different “worlds” cumulating in a laser show and kids entertainment.

We really enjoyed our day out; Joe kept saying “I LIKE it! I’m HAPPY!” which was mega cute. I think it’s more of a family attraction aimed at children, although I was pretty darned impressed myself. I just wanted to snuggle up with a book and a blanket and chill out under the light from a giant toadstool.

Please excused my wind-swept appearance – Blackpool has its own weird microclimate for which I wasn’t well prepared.















Tuesday, 22 April 2014

0-6 Weeks // Early Pregnancy Symptoms and Thoughts


Obviously, I couldn't blog about my early pregnancy at the time, but I kept a diary which I can share with you now. It's rather negative in parts, but it's my truthful account which includes the lows as well as the many highs. Pregnancy is a magical, wonderful, beautiful, amazing time, but also very hard both physically and emotionally.

I'm so glad the first trimester is over.


I can’t believe how much being pregnant hurts! And right from the word go, too.

How anyone can possibly fail to realise something is 'not quite right', never mind go to full term until 9 months later something drops down the toilet (Sonia Fowler), really baffles the hell out of me.

The cramps started around the same time as my period was due to arrive, but worse. I was very grateful for the heated seats in our new car. Once I’d performed the positive test, I couldn’t even take anything stronger than paracetamol. That was a bit depressing. I like my drugs (of the legal variety).

The cramps got a little better over time but were still lurking in the background, particularly at night.

Being a worrier, I constantly thought I was experiencing a miscarriage every time a painful twinge caught me off guard. Frantically googling cramps in early pregnancy, I got the answers I was looking for:

Basically, cramping will happen throughout the whole of the pregnancy and it really is nothing to worry about unless the pain is unbearable and joined with bleeding. I was probably experiencing the embryo settling into my uterus.

My little parasite.

The internet is both friend and foe. When I started getting pain in just one side ‘ectopic pregnancy’ was top of the google hit list. This is a serious condition which requires surgery and can be life-threatening. Other symptoms of ectopic pregnancy, weirdly, is shoulder-tip pain, which is caused by the network of nerves and can indicate internal bleeding. When I started with aching arms and shoulders a few days later I started to head down the slippery slope of paranoia. It would have been so much easier if I hadn’t looked at the internet all!

A women’s body can play very cruel tricks on her though, because:

Pregnancy pains feel just like period pains which feel just like miscarriage pains!

Therefore I didn't know what the f*** was going on and at times  I felt overwhelmed and alone.

Why was I so stressed and paranoid? I think it’s because my whole training and career, from being 18 years old, is based on hypotheses, and different possible outcomes of a situation. That, combined with my inherent pessimism, resulted in a fear of losing my baby which I couldn’t shake. Also, it is drilled into us all not to reveal our pregnancy news until we have crossed the 12 week threshold and are well into the “safe” second trimester.

Is early miscarriage really that common? Well, just off the top of my head I can count 5 people I know who’ve tragically suffered a miscarriage, and if you look on the internet, the results are  terrifying.

Pete was amazing, as per usual, and calmly but firmly told me:

“Whatever will be, will bet”.

I’m a worrier, not a hypochondriac per se, but when you are solely responsible for the well-being of this tiny life inside you, your perspective on life shifts extraordinarily. You want to do everything in your power to make sure your little creation is going to grow perfect and healthy, but there is not much you can actually do, except wait."

In addition to the constant cramps, my other major symptom is sore boobs! They got quite massive recently! I dread to think how big they will be in the coming weeks. I wake up multiple times during the night through a combination of sore breasts, belly cramps, and needing a wee (although the bladder situation is nothing new – I go to the toilet a lot).

Thankfully, I think I’ve escaped the morning sickness, lucky old me. I’ve read that if it’s not reared its ugly head by the end of week 6 – you’re going to be OK. I’m relieved of course, but slightly worried that something is amiss.

I’m sorry, I can’t help it.......

EDIT: The morning sickness did arrive, around week 10. It wasn’t as bad as some poor women experience but it was pretty grim. I experienced most sickness in an evening and it went away completely by around week 14.





Monday, 21 April 2014

Interview with a Fashion Psychologist

What is a Fashion Psychologist?
How do you become a Fashion Psychologist?
My interview with Kate Nightingale.

As promised, here is my interview with Fashion Psychologist Kate who presented at the fantastic Shoetopia bloggers event at Intu Trafford Centre.

"I was always passionate about psychology and fashion. But how did I get to be a Fashion Psychologist?

As a kid I was very good in observing people and knowing what they really think and feel. I had a talent to read body language and all the other non-verbal signals. That led me to pursue career in psychology.

I come from Poland so my relationship with psychology started there when I went to a university. I loved finding out about how we think, perceive, feel… But I never betrayed my true love: non-verbal communication. I totally loved learning about what happens with our face when we lie, love, hate, or are truly happy. But I also learned that a part of our non-verbal communication is the way we dress. It certainly wasn’t accentuated by my lecturers but once I learned that there is research about psychology of what we wear, there was no army to pull me away from them. It was beginning of my 2nd year and I already knew I have to combine psychology with fashion.

I was lucky enough that my sister lived in London so I got to visit her during summer holidays. I couldn’t help falling in love with London. That love plus the realisation that I can achieve so much more as Fashion Psychologist in London made me to move after my 3rd year of psychology (it was a 5 years Master Degree so I didn’t get to finish it but I was on a mission). As soon as I moved I went to university in London and after 2 years finished BSc Psychology while still doing my own reading and research on a side.

Next step was fashion. I knew I needed to understand how fashion industry works in London so went to London College of Fashion to do various short courses. Then I started to assist a fashion stylist. While doing all that I felt a bit lost. I wasn’t sure if my idea of fashion psychology was a viable option for UK market so I got to do various other things and put my dream on hold. Finally two years ago I decided to start my own business of Style and Fashion Psychology.

At the beginning I was incorporating only bits and pieces of information about psychology. The more confident I was with my idea, the more I was talking about psychology with relation to fashion and style. It was a hard awareness building exercise but I knew it had to be done. The concept of relation between fashion and psychology was so foreign to people that I had to dose the information carefully so not to scare them but to interest them instead.

The proof of an interest came almost a year ago when I was approached by a journalist to provide a few comments to the article he was working on. I was so happy that media wanted my psychological view on fashion. Today it seems normal that a journalist request a comment for a piece but that day it was my biggest achievement. I felt like I, single-handily, put fashion psychology in English dictionary!

Since then things could only go better and they went even better than I expected."



Find Kate Nightingale @



Saturday, 19 April 2014

Finding Out and the First GPs Appointment


What’s the first thing you do when you find out your expecting?

Scream?

Do a little dance?

Pour your man-friend a stiff drink and try to coax him out of the downstairs loo?

Well, in all honestly, I didn’t have a bloody clue what to do but the (good old) NHS website advised me to book a GPs appointment – pronto.

It was then, as I started to read more and more on that helpful site, I realised I’d been doing everything wrong!

I had not been taking my folic acid for 3 months prior to conception; I had lifted a massive 1920’s dresser up the stairs, and I had single-handedly ripped up an entire kitchen floor.
That’s not to mention all the blue-veined cheese I’d been gorging on (increased appetite you see) and that bottle of Rioja I’d sank a few days previous.

The possibility of being pregnant hadn’t crossed my mind. The Hubby and I had made a decision that we wanted to “try” for a baby in 2014, but we didn’t put any pressure on ourselves regarding timeframes as we had just bought our first home and had a LOT on our plates already (for example, not having plates or any money to buy said plates).

Now I know exactly where babies come from, but I was utterly gob-smacked to get pregnant on the very first attempt! I know I should have be taking folic acid pre-conception, but I just hadn’t gotten round to buying it. We hadn’t officially began “trying” and I suppose it could be classed as a “dry run” (?!) if you like.

The other issue, which totally threw me, was that there were some problems going on with my cycle. Usually clockwork 28 days, the last 3 months had seen a shift in my cycle to 25. Now I know my own body and I know what’s normal for me, and a 25 day cycle was most certainly not normal. At the back of my mind I was planning to go and get checked over, because I secretly kept thinking “what if we have fertility issues?” the answer was unbearable. Again, being pre-occupied with the new house forced all these worries to the back of my mind.

Blissfully ignorant of the little life growing inside me, we carried on as normal: eating, drinking; and being merry.

Around a week before my period was due, I started experience painful cramps – just the same as normal period pains but quite severe. I thought “Oh great, this next period is gonna be a right Mother F*****!” except it never arrived.

Two days late and I started to worry. Yes, we’d seen early before, but never late! I took a test and we made a big deal of the whole thing with Pete waiting nervously downstairs whilst I had to pee on a stick.

“NOT PREGNANT”.

 It was literally spelled out – no weird lines to decipher.

We breathed a massive sign of relief – after all, I had been doing all the wrong things and we had a shitty house to renovate. The timing was all wrong. However, in the back of my mind I couldn’t shake the increasing feeling of disappointment. We were married, we had the house, all that as missing was baby.

Two days later and still no period. If I wasn’t pregnant than surely this was more evidence of fertility issues? The next morning I was getting ready for the day and decided to do the other pregnancy test which was unopened. I fully expected the result to match the first, so paid it little attention as I did the necessary, and left it on the floor whilst I got dressed. On the way out of the bathroom I picked up the test, all ready to toss it into the bin whilst trying to remember what time the doctors opened on Monday, and what I saw stopped me dead in my tracks.

“PREGNANT 1-2 WEEKS”

I was stunned. My brain starting going into overdrive

“there’s a mistake”

“you can have a false negative but not a false positive”

“the first test was too soon to detect HCG”

Pete was out getting breakfast so I just sat alone for a while with my mind racing. As soon as he walked through the door, I thrust the plastic-covered-in-my-pee thing in his face and shouted “it’s POSITIVE”.

We tried to stay calm as we ate breakfast then went out to buy more tests. 3 more positive tests later and there was no denying the fact – we were going to have a baby.

Sat in my GPs office waffling on about all the wrong stuff I was doing, and I felt so guilty, and blah  blah blah she just smiled calmly at me, explaining most women don’t know they are pregnant so early and that there was no chance I could of harmed my baby as it was little more than ectoderm at 2mm long. She handed me a prescription for folic acid and a number for my community midwife centre and I left.

I was baffled – I had to ring up and make my own midwife appointment; I didn’t need a referral or any documentation. My GP hadn’t taken any blood or performed any examinations on me; she had just taken my word for it that I was pregnant. I found that all rather strange.

Nevertheless, a weight was lifted from my mind; I hadn’t done my baby any damage and I was about to start my antenatal care.


Pete and I had our special little secret and were about to begin a new chapter in our life together…..




Thursday, 17 April 2014

15 Week Bump Update



15 weeks pregnant.

Bump doesn’t seem to have grown much this week:- I’m enjoying it whilst it lasts!

How far along? 15 weeks exactly.

Total weight gain/loss? Not weighed myself but ALL my jeans now don’t fit and I have gone up one dress size all over and one cup size.

Maternity clothes? The outfit I’m wearing above is becoming my staple wear - leggings and a comfy Tee. 6 quid each from Tesco and a bloody great bargain I think.

Stretch marks? Nope, but cellulite has reappeared which I haven’t had for a long time *cries*. I’m simply putting it down to less exercise and the weight gain, rather than a pregnancy related issue per se.

Sleep? I’m comfy in bed again now the “orbs agony” have finally effed off. However, I’m still up 3-4 times per night for a tinkle. It is literally taking the piss now.

Best moment this week? Learning that the little Riglet can hear our voices this week! How amazing is that? Deeper male voices result in more vibrations than female voices, which baby responds to, and Pete has one deep voice. I absolutely love it when he puts his mouth on my belly and talks to our babba.

Miss anything? I missed a bloggers event as I couldn’t run across town in 30 minutes like I used to. I keep forgetting that I need to take things a little bit easier now, but my body likes to remind me of this fact.

Movement? Nada.

Food cravings? It’s still Salt and Vinegar Golden Wonder and sugar. Any type.

Anything making you queasy or sick? I’ve had two episodes of feeling sick but not actually being sick. Not eating for long periods usually sets it off.

Labour Signs?  No, no, no!

Current Symptoms? In addition to last week’s wonderful hyperventilation I now have low blood pressure! I was feeling faint one afternoon so measured my blood pressure and it was 97/53 which is a significant drop for me. Apparently this is quite common at this stage in pregnancy and I just have to take things easy (easier said than done). Nevertheless, it’s made me a little anxious as the reason I feel faint is because there isn’t enough blood reaching my brain. Not nice.

Belly button in or out? It’s in for now. I took the plunge and removed the piercing for good. I felt a little bit sad but let’s face it, it’s been 15 years and the midriff-baring stage of my life is over – I’m going to be a mother!

Wedding rings on or off? On. On my right hand I wear my Grandmother’s wedding ring and that has been feeling tight today – are fingers supposed to swell in pregnancy?

Happy or moody most of the time? On a positive note, I think my hormones have balanced out a bit as I’ve been feeling really happy for the past few days.



Looking forward to? Payday, so I can treat myself to some maternity jeans! 


Sunday, 13 April 2014

Shoetopia // Spring Shoe Trends

Yes, Lego Louboutins!
Last month I was privileged to attend an exclusive blogger fashion evening excitingly entitled “Shoetopia” at Intu Trafford Centre, Manchester. We were treated to a Skinny Champagne reception at Circle 360 Champagne bar and tucked into yummy shoe cupcakes. Well actually I tell a lie; I was 12 week pregnant at this point (and still keeping schtum) and so begrudgingly had to sip virgin cocktails whilst the other bloggers quaffed champers all night.

The evening was great fun. We enjoyed a presentation from shoe psychologist Kate Nightingale, who took us through some of the key trends for SS14 in shoes and boots.






If you are intrigued to learn more about fashion psychology, read my interview with Kate tomorrow.
 
So without further ado, here are the spring footwear trends and what they say about you…..












We finished the evening with a vintage shoe quiz, testing our knowledge of shoes through the ages. I did appallingly badly at the quiz – but t'was very difficult!


If you fancy a go, have a look at the images below and try to identify which decade they come from (answers at the bottom of the page).






Answers

  1. 1935
  2. White stilettos, 1960-1965
  3. Men’s platforms, circa 1973
  4. Women’s pearlised shoe, 1956
  5. Men’s co-respondent shoe, circa 1930
  6. Gold kid bar shoes, 1905-1910
  7. Red or Dead loafer, 1988-1992


Friday, 11 April 2014

14 Week Bump Update


Sorry for the crap picture here. I've lost my camera charger so this was taken on my iPhone with appalling lighting.

How far along? 14 weeks + one day.

Total weight gain/loss? I don’t like to weigh myself but even my fat day jeans don’t fasten up! If I had to guess, it’s around 10lbs in total (yes already!).

Maternity clothes? Nothing as yet. I actually thought that since most of my tops and dresses are made from stretchy matrial, I could get away with a growing bump. Pah! No chance.


Stretch marks? None so far. I’ve been using moisturiser every day and am going to start using my BioOil that a lovely work colleague gave me today. Yay!

Sleep? It’s not too bad at the moment. I can’t sleep on my front like I used to as my boobs and bump hurt too much, I also get up for a wee approximately four times per night which winds me up no end.

Best moment this week? My sister giving me lots of reassurance and never getting fed up with my tirade of questions about boobs, bellies and fannies!

Miss anything? Being able to dash around without feeling breathless all the time!

Movement? Nothing yet. It’s all just around the corner though!

Food cravings? Salt. Specifically Golden Wonder Salt and Vinegar crisps.

Anything making you queasy or sick? Not really, praise the Lord! I think I’m totally over my ‘evening sickness’ now.

Labour Signs?  I’ve only just started reading about the labour process and it all sounds pretty complex. Apparently there are 3 stages and it could last hours and hours! I don’t know if I will be attending antenatal classes to learn all this stuff but I bloody hope so!

Current Symptoms? How long have you got? Ok, so the sore boobs are bearable now but I’ve started suffering from period-like cramps which I suffered from constantly up untill about 9 weeks. I take comfort in the fact that these pains are telling me baby is growing. I’m experiencing Chronic Hyperventilation which is the fancy name for mild breathlessness due to the increased oxygen demand. I’ve been suffering with a blocked nose on and off too, and apparently this is caused by the increased blood volume in my body. The blocked nose makes it harder to get a proper breath too!

Belly button in or out? In, With the sparkly diamante belly bar still in its place. I’m seriously considering removing the jewellery for good as it just doesn’t look right with a swelling bump!

Wedding rings on or off? On, and hopefully that is where they will stay!

Happy or moody most of the time? Hormonal! I cry and the strangest things these days, although I keep smiling like a lunatic when I think about our little Riglet!


Looking forward to? Getting together my ideas for the nursery. We are not finding out the sex so it will have to be a neutral design which limits us a little bit, but I am loving yellow ducking designs right now!