My maternity wardrobe

Hello everyone, I’ve had a butt load of comments about how nice (and girly) my maternity clothes are so I thought I’d share with you a selection of items I purchased (and wear regularly). As I am pretty camera shy so stock images will have to do ūüôā

When I was first looking at the maternity clothes back in Spring 2017, I was appalled at the options available. It was mainly trousers and tops that just make you look frumpy and figure less. Obviously, I had to purchase a couple of these ‘staple’ items for days when you just want to stop on the sofa with a film and cuppa of tea. For the staples I got one pair of jeggings from matalan and a couple of pairs of black leggings and vest top.

So below is a list of key items that will hopefully provide you some inspiration to move away from the ‘essential’ black trousers and shirt combo for work.

DressesMost of the time I’m swanning around in a maternity dress. Makes it feel like the olden days when all women really wore were dresses. Before pregnancy I rarely wore dresses – despite having a wardrobe full of gorgeous 1950 style frocks. During i pregnancy I have since found my girly roots and now a dress is my absolute favourite go to item – so much so I bought a few. These are the brands I purchased:

Next maternity:

Purchased in the clearance sale during April (¬£18) and was great for my holiday. I don’t often wear this maxi out and about in Britain mainly just round the house but it’s great for any day time occasion. To be honest add a nice necklace and bracelet combo and it’s good for an evening out with the other half.

4-piece maternity essential kit (¬£32) with black dress, vest top, skirt and leggings. The leggings and vest are fabulous fit. Well to be honest they all are however, they attract dog hair like it’s going out of fashion. I tend to wear these around the house when I can’t be bothered or having a ‘fat’ day.

Rochelle Humes Maternity

I absolutely love this grey dress (¬£35) it’s great for both work and during the weekend. At first I was sceptical because it’s clingy but it’s clingy in the right places and shows off your bump nicely. I’ve had my money’s worth out the dress because I started wearing it about 12 weeks (that in between stage where pants fit but don’t).

Well you’ve got to have a LBD in the wardrobe. This off the shoulder dress (¬£35) is great for evenings or parties. Does feel a little bare on the shoulders and the straps can dig in a little. It’s a good length and floaty so you don’t over heat. Team up with a pair of nude heels for instant glam.

Shirt dress in navy blue (¬£27). Quite long on my 5ft6 frame and definitely not for early pregnancy. Sleeves can feel a bit tight but good for casual and even work. Only downside it creases so easy! It’s not the most flattering of designs but as your bump gets bigger and fills out the extra material it does start to feel better. When wearing for work it’s great with a pair of black pumps and oversized bag.

Nice white crochet dress (£45). You do need a good white or nude bra underneath as can look a little bare. Good length (mid thigh) nice and floaty and very girly great for an event when teamed up with either wedges or nude heels. I actually wore this to an event at Buckingham Palace and worked really well with a statement fascinator and a pearl necklace.

One of my absolute favourite Rochelle Humes tea dresses (¬£45). I wear this for work on most days alternating between this and my grey one. It can feel a tad short when sitting down but it’s lovely and floaty and very girly. I tend to team up with a pair of black or neutral pumps and an oversize bag. When wearing in slightly breezy weather best to have a lace jacket or similar just to stop it blowing and you do the Marilyn Monroe scene.

Pink lacy top great for work or an evening. Best teamed up with a pair of black trousers but equally good with jeggings/jeans. Only downside is after a couple of washes the material starts to fray.

Nursing bras

The best bra I purchased is by Emma Jane Maternity available from kiddicare.com £12-£16.00 each black or white. I bought a couple of bras from Next but they dug in after a few hours leaving marks on my breasts. The Emma Jane ones feel nice and soft you purchase by band size not band and cup like some bras. Great feature is you can purchase non padded or padded options.

Underwear

To be honest I purchased some maternity knickers and hated them! I have stuck to my trusty Debenhams basic knickers. Nothing glamours about them but they still fit lovely under my growing bump. I found the over bump knickers very uncomfortable and made my stomach hurt after a couple of hours so I binned them. Also stay away from eBay if something looks a bargain it usually is.

Swimwear

I purchased an all in one swimsuit and a tankini set from Matalan. After comparing the types against various stores I settled on Matalan. I was not disappointed.

The all in one (¬£16) has enough room to accommodate a growing belly but doesn’t look too baggy in the first couple of months. I purchased when I was 18 weeks as I went on holiday at 19 weeks and it looked fab. Just a shame it can’t give you a peer bottom like the model has (ha-ha)

The tankini (¬£14 in total) was also a godsend. I love two piece swimsuits and was reluctant because some swimwear items advertised as tankini’s were actually one pieces. This wasn’t, it is a great length and has bands on both sides to make looser as your belly grows. This is easier to get in and out of against the one piece. The top gave good breast support although I haven’t grown as big as some women might.

I hope some of this inspires you to dress up a little more during pregnancy and not hide behind jeans and vests the entire 9 months.

Katherine xo

*prices correct March-June 2017

Does my beagle know I’m pregnant?

This is a question I have asked myself many many times over the last 6 months. My adoring 4-year old Beagle has always followed me around the house like the toddler I never had. He has been my furbaby since bringing him home at the age of 8 weeks old. I remember that cute puppy look and puppy smell, oh the memories.

Now I am pregnant I’m filled with constant worries including will my dog actually accept the new baby and does he know I’m pregnant.

The truth is dogs have a very good sense of smell and whilst pregnant your personal odour has slightly altered. Whether dogs actual know this is because you are pregnant is still up for debate. I have read up that some dogs may become either very clingy or start to ignore you (a bit like a toddler). The one piece of advice I was passed from my mother-in-law was to introduce your dog to your bump to instigate some sort of bond. So, I have spent many hours cuddled on the sofa with my beagle using my bump as his personal pillow. Now I’m 6 months pregnant he has been getting the odd kick but hasn’t actually reacted to it so probably just thinks it’s my grumbling tummy. This leads me to think that my beagle is aware of something but hasn’t the brain capacity to work out what that something actually is.

Why am I convinced, well he likes to put himself between me and my husband a lot as if to say leave my mammy alone. This might seem like protective behaviour to try and keep me safe or he’s just a jealous dog. We have also been having a good old clear out of unnecessary rubbish so he’s probably picked up on that.

We are treating him like he’s our first born and have planned to give him a new toy every month for the first few months so he doesn’t feel left out. It wouldn’t surprise my husband if I went onto eBay and purchased a doggy jumper that says ‘I’m gunna be a big brother’ ūüėā (as I’m writing this I have the app open on my phone).

Either way our beagle hasn’t really changed towards us even with my growing belly. He’s still daft as a brush, clingy and loving. We love him and I suppose that’s all that matters so only time will tell if he will be baby’s protector or run away hiding with every piercing scream.

Katherine xo

PCOS: My story – our IVF journey

Since February 2016 we have been up and down the emotional roller-coaster that is life. We have slowly come to terms with infertility but that still doesn’t mean it hurts any less. I still feel utterly useless as a woman.

Between February and November 2016 we had to attend the hospital for multiple meetings and tests. Most of the meetings were pointless exercises of reviewing the paperwork which was posted to us for completion.  In the June we were given a start date for October but it was literally too short notice especially as they wanted us to attend an appointment 3 days after the letter was issued which was actually a date we were on holiday.

Finally, on Tuesday 25th November we attended what we thought was the start of the process hospital appointment. Unfortunately, for us our consultant was running an hour and a half behind schedule. The weather outside was dreadful so we were left with no option but to sit in the waiting room. Thankfully the TV¬†was on just a shame it was something to do with buying rubbish from other people and trying to sell it for a profit at auction. Ah well I suppose one mans rubbish is another’s treasure…

Anyway after a long stressful wait that seemed like an eternity we finally met our consultant for the IVF. When you’ve had your first IVF clinic appointment you would have left feeling deflated and a bag full of more paperwork. Honestly after an hour a half wait to be told by the consultant you’ve been accepted for IVF was both happy and sad news. After that hour and a half we started inventing snippets of what we thought our meeting would go like. We thought we would leave with some dates to not on the calendar and know exactly what was happening.

So what did our appointment go like I hear you ask. Well we were escorted into the consultants office where we took a seat. We were presented with lots of paperwork and told that we would be asked questions that we have already answered. The responses were typed into the computer. After half an hour of going through the same questions and answers about past medical procedures, periods etc we were told yes you are eligible for IVF. The consultant then went through more paperwork telling us the procedure we would go through (a very short summary) anti-sickness tablets, daily injections, scans, small operation procedures etc. Once again we left the hospital with a bag of paperwork and anxiety. The only difference this time was a prescription for the contraceptive pill.

January 2017, nearly a year after been told I couldn’t have children I was now sat at the IVF clinic upstairs in James Cook University Hospital. I had been taking the contraceptive pill for nearly 2 months (seems a bit weird taking anti-baby meds to have a baby). Apparently this is to help control your natural cycle or in my case control an artificial version of it.

I had seen a lovely nurse and been given quite a lot of information to absorb between now and February including a bag full of bizarre named medication and lots and lots of needles plus a sharps bin. It looks like I am finally starting the IVF journey.

 IVF: the journey so far (weeks one, two and three)

It was Wednesday 22nd February. I had officially been using Menopur for the past 18 nights and Cetrotide for 4 mornings. I was taking 2 powder vials of Menopur to one solution for the first 7 days and then onto 4 powders to one solution.

On Monday 20th I went for a scan to see how things were progressing and the follicles were still quite small. So I was asked to continue the Menopur and have another scan and blood tests on the Wednesday. Well Monday morning driving back from the hospital was a rather emotional affair. For some unknown reason the tears started to roll down my face stinging my eyes. I just felt utterly useless as a woman. I just kept repeating the nurses words over in my head and para-phrasing the bits my downside wanted to hear. What the nurse actually said;¬† “Looks like we’re a week behind. The¬†follicles are not big¬†enough yet so we need to keep you on the Menopur a bit longer. We¬†will see how it goes on Wednesday and make a decision then” versus what my¬†head heard “you’re useless and your body doesn’t work give up and go home stop wasting everyone’s time”.

I woke up ¬†on the Wednesday feeling a little hopeful and in high spirits. I got to the hospital early for my bloods had a lovely chat with Alison about all things Beagle related. Popped down to the x-ray department for scan number 3, again all went well. Heard the numbers and thought oh these have grown a lot since Monday. 21, 17, 16 then there was a few 14, 12, 10. Feeling a little better than Monday I leapt through the corridor back to reproductive medicine. Sat my ass on the seat in the waiting room waiting to see the nurse. My name was called whoop lets put the game face on. So I sat waiting for the nurse to come back, which she does quite promptly carrying an A4 sheet and my scan. Inside I’m feeling happy as this looks promising. On the sheet of paper it says egg collection Friday. As you can imagine at this point my insides are swimming in a sea of nervous excitement. Even more so when the nurse goes through the next stage and when to stop eating etc.

Then bam she throws in the curve ball that pretty much shites all over my parade. “I’m not sure if we should call this plan A or B. Your follicles are still pretty small, but Mondays bloods were good so we will have to see how your bloods are today”. With that I’m out the hospital and on my way home via Sainsbury’s to get one of those hideous passport ID¬†photos taken for my IVF file. Later that afternoon about¬†15:30 the mobile rings – the call. Bad news, no procedure on Friday the consultant wants me to continue the Menopur and Cetrotide for another two days.

Friday arrives; blood test number (no idea as I’ve lost count) and scan number (a lot). The nurse was happy with the follicle sizes and number so now the scary and exciting part of the process. The trigger shot! I ¬†left the clinic with yet more medication and paperwork this time I did’t have to inject Menopur and Cetrotide on both days but I did have to inject the trigger shot (HCG) on Saturday evening which was approximately 36 hours before my procedure. Getting real now, only downfall is I wasn’t allowed to eat anything from midnight on Sunday but to be honest I was so nervous about what was to come that I probably wouldn’t have been able to eat anyway.

Egg Collection Day

It is Monday 08:30am, the weekend has been and gone and I am now sat in the IVF clinic with my husband. We were both so nervous about the coming hours. He had to pop off and do his business in a sample jar whilst I went into theatre and have some eggs extracted. I’m not going to lie it hurt like hell even with a double dose of sedative. That stuff is useless; its not pain relief it’s just designed to make you less aware but I was very very aware of everything and every needle.

Afterwards I returned to the cubicle to see an anxious husband waiting for me. I was left with him for an hour (I actually fell asleep during this time). We were then brought a cup of tea and some biscuits and once I had popped to the loo and collected some more medication we were able to go home. It was about 1pm by the time we got out of the hospital. I didn’t go back to work as I had booked the day off as annual leave and so glad I did because I just felt uncomfortably bloated and exhausted.

The day after the egg collection felt like weeks. 09:30 am I got a call from the embryologist 5 out of 13 of our lovely eggs had fertilised. Over the next couple of days I received daily calls to let me know the condition of my little eggs. Thursday’s call was to inform me that we were going to have embryo transfer first thing on the Friday.

Transfer Day

Doesn’t sound as exciting as football transfer day but when you’re at this stage in the IVF process it feels so much more exciting! This time there was no nil by mouth rule as there is no sedative given for this procedure. Hubby was allowed into the theatre with me. We got to see our little bean on the screen before it was artificially inseminated (another really uncomfortable and painful procedure). We once again had a duty cup of tea and biscuits and sent home with yep you guessed it more medication.

The two week wait

OMG what an horrendous and tortuousness period of time. That first week I was soooo uncomfortable, bloated and in pain. It felt like my ovaries were going to burst out of my abdomen at any minute. I tried to pre-occupy myself with work and TV and actually ended up watching the whole box set of call the midwife. Not a programme I would really recommend to anyone wanting a baby but it didn’t really affect me. Towards the end of the first week and beginning of the second week I started to feel really unwell. I developed a chest infection. I was coughing constantly and felt like an 80-odd year old woman when I tried to walk up the stairs. ¬†My test date was for the Friday (17th March) but by Wednesday I felt so ill that I couldn’t resist I just needed to know if it worked or not. If it hadn’t I could take some night nurse or anything just to feel better.

Taking the test

EEEKKKKKKK it says positive! For the first time in over 5 year freaking years i have a pregnancy test in my hand that says positive. Shit! I can’t take any night nurse, or anything other than paracetomol. I was so happy but so sad at the same time. At least I was off work (on the sick) I just literally stayed in bed for the next 5 days. I did take the test again on my official test day and it was still positive so I phoned the parents to tell them the good news that the cycle had worked first time.

7-8 week Viability Scan

The first week of April was the longest week of our lives. I had developed a stomach bug over the previous weekend and beginning of the week (thanks to the husband for bringing home the germs). So far I had not experienced any morning sickness just this nasty bug. Unfortunately, on the Monday I started to bleed. I have never cried so much in my life and had a feeling of utter helpfulness. I rang the early pregnancy unit but because our viability scan was for the Thursday we weren’t offered an appointment any sooner. That three day wait was longer than the whole two week wait put together. 15:00 Thursday James cook ultrasound department we sat waiting desperately hoping our little miracle was still arrive. ¬†We had a student sonographer in the room and I explained that I had had a bleed and we were worried so the fully trained technician did our scan. She popped the probe on my stomach moved it around a few times then exhaled and said oh can’t see much. Our hearts descended to the depths of no return. quickly she looked at us and said there’s something but hard to see could you pop to the loo and we will do an internal scan instead. Quick toilet trip and I’m back on the bed. Probe goes in and within seconds she says with a smile there’s a heartbeat. Joy sprung to my heart I looked over to my husband and he grabbed my hand. The sonographer started talking saying there was measurements and stuff that needed to be taken. By this point I was on cloud 9 she could have spent the next hour taking measurements we had a heartbeat!

Now we are classed as officially pregnant with our first child however, we held onto that news for another 3 weeks until our 12 week scan. We then told the parents again but with a scan photo and then also told our nearest and dearest.

 Katherine xo

Further reading: IVF:¬†The real story about what it’s like to go through IVF

It’s like butterflies and fire: giving depression a name

08:30 it’s grim outside, looks like rain. It’s nearly the end of the week but still feels like forever to go.¬†After sleeping on my realisation for the last two nights I am starting to think I should ask for help. I’ve booked a doctors appointment for later today.

So I finally picked up the courage to visit the doctors and speak to him about how I am feeling. He was lovely and we had a good old chat about everything. I was prescribed some anti-depressants after a lengthy chat about therapies etc. I was told that doctors don’t offer these as often as they once did so if you are offered at least give it a try. I was hesitant but I needed to sort this fuzz out in my head and get better. I am no good to myself or others if I’m not myself. I may have to back track my IVF journey to next year but I’d rather be back to myself than kid myself into going through all this in my current mental state.

The hardest part of the whole day was sitting down with my husband and telling him. Gosh I was so nervous I didn’t have a clue where to start. This is a man I’ve been with for over a decade he’s seen me on the toilet why does the thought of talking to him freak me out? Well I sat him down and explained that I hadn’t been entirely truthful with him and that I had been hiding the fact I cry a lot behind his back, that I don’t sleep etc. He then blurted out that he was relieved because he thought I was having an affair. Of all the things he could have thought about he thought I was with another man. I told him he was an idiot for thinking that but no that I am very much not having an affair with anyone. ¬†The only males in my life are him, the dog and cat.

I sat and pondered all night about taking my first antidepressant. I must have held the packet in my hand for a good hour. Finally, I just opened the box and took one with some water. Only time will tell now whether I’m making the right decision. That is why I have chosen to write this blog. I wanted to share with you all my path to getting better.

Depression is not something we should be ashamed of. Mental health is still a stigma for most but there are so many of us suffering in silence. Lets pull down these barriers and make people realise they are not alone. The first stage to recovery is realising that there is something wrong. Admit it to yourself and ask for help. It is far braver to ask for help than sit and tackle it on your own.

When you admit to yourself that you are suffering from a form of depression. Give it a name, I called mine butterflies and fire. Churchill famously called his his black dog.  

Once it has a name you give it an identity, it is something you can now relate to. ¬†Why did I choose butterflies and fire; well when I’m happy its like I am floating like butterflies drifting in the gentle breeze but when I’m down it’s like my mind is ablaze with a fire of ill-thought.¬†

Now the remaining part of my journey to recovery is reducing the demon’s size. You can only do this in stages, try to combat it all in one go and it will be unsustainable. You can’t run from it or hide away either, doing either just makes your demons bigger and harder to deal with. Over the coming days, weeks months and years I will blog about my progress and hopefully reach out to some of you and hopefully make friends along the way.

I really hope you enjoy reading my blogs and join the family to break the stigmas of taboo subjects like mental health.

Katherine xo