Monthly Archives: March 2016

31st March 2016

Pregnancy Update: 16 Weeks

12921099_10156781679180607_640425439_nHow many weeks? I’m 16 Weeks and 3 Days. Still feeling sick, which I know is getting boring now, but I really don’t think it’s going to  ever disappear (sob).

How big is the baby? Baby is now the size of an avocado. I can feel regular movement, especially over the last few days. This is hard to explain and probably sounds bizarre, but I’m still not sure I like the sensation when you first start feeling the baby. Coupled with the nausea, I’m just not really enjoying it yet. I do love feeling the baby when kicks are more pronounced, so can’t wait for them to step up a gear.

And the bump? After a growth spurt between weeks 12 and 14, I don’t think my bump has changed much in the last few weeks. It’s that classic pregnancy thing of not really showing in the morning and then growing to a 6-month bump by bedtime! Having said that, my husband laughs at me every morning when I safety pin my vest to my underwear so it doesn’t pop up (I hate a bare bump under clothes). Maybe it’s time to invest in some maternity vests…

Do you know the gender? Well no – the gender is written down on a piece of paper in a sealed envelope. I am supposed to be opening it with my husband tonight – but it’s 8pm and he’s still at his desk at work, with no sign of leaving any time soon. I’ve ordered a pizza and am watching rubbish on TV to distract myself. I want to know – but I am also scared to know. I want it to be both genders, if that makes any sense! I love baby boys, but I’d love to see what it’s like with a baby girl too. We’ll open at some point, share with friends and family, and then I’ll work out a way to tell you the news over the next few days! Sorry I can’t share now (husbands, who’d have them?)

Any symptoms? Apart from sickness, the main one is extreme tiredness. The boys have been brilliant as their Mummy is officially a couch potato at the moment. I had blood taken today to check my iron levels, which always dip crazily low in pregnancy. There was talk of ‘iron infusions’ which sounds pretty brutal, but Ill cross that bridge if we get there.

Anything else? My friend George is due to give birth to her number three baby any day now (well she was due a week ago, actually) and we are all getting very excited. Both of us spent quite a lot of time at the doctors today – and it’s reminded me about those exciting days just before the baby arrives.  I’ve also been eyeing up some lovely products from an online baby store here in Dubai called Mumzworld.com and I’m going to put the orders in soon to get the shopping started on what we need for this baby – nothing huge, but I do like the sound of a bedside cot this time (I enjoy co-sleeping, but worry with a newborn) and need a few things that broke last time round, like my breast pump and digital monitor.

That’s all for now – and gender reveal coming soon (if my husband ever gets home from work, that is!)



26th March 2016

Nobody ever patted me on the back and told me I was doing a good job

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 21.01.18I went away with some friends this weekend.

Without the husband.

And most importantly, without the kids.

I’m a true believer that we need a bit of time to ourselves as mothers. Time to remember who we were before little people came into our lives. Time to sleep. Time to enjoy adult conversation. Time to raid a breakfast buffet without having to carry three plates back to the table with a child attached to our legs.

And I enjoyed every second.

But I missed my three boys – and getting regular messages and pictures about what they were up to during my absence was one of the highlights of my trip (which is probably a bit sad to admit).

At about 4pm, my phone pinged.

I was lying in my hotel bed at the time, enjoying a guilt-free afternoon nap after a morning by the pool and trip into Abu Dhabi for lunch.

It was a message from my husband, with a picture of the boys in a play area near to our home in Dubai Marina. They were having fun and looked very happy.

His message read: “A stranger just came up to me, patted me on the back, and told me I was doing a good job!”

I smiled – as it was nice of her to acknowledge what a good job he was doing with the boys on his own at the weekend. I’m glad it wasn’t all going unnoticed.

But very quickly afterwards, a thought popped into my head.

When was the last time a stranger told me I was doing a good job when I was with the boys?

I don’t think it’s ever happened.

And let’s be honest; there’s been plenty of opportunity, given I’m with them on my own every single day and our oldest is nearly 4 years old.

It got me thinking about how little mothers are appreciated. We are doing one of the hardest jobs in the world (if not the hardest – although I admit brain surgeons and bomb disposal experts might not agree) and yet our efforts are so easily taken for granted. After all, we decided to have children – so why should we get any praise for raising them?

But there have been plenty of times when I would have appreciated it.

All those times I struggled out on my own in the early days, filled with self-doubt or fear of what might happen. The first time I ever left the house with a baby on my own. The first time I ever left the house with two of them on my own. The midst of the terrible twos. And days when it was all going wrong.

Nobody ever patted me on the back and told me I was doing a good job.

The days when I had the boys on my own in the UK for 8-week stints, waking up at 5am everyday thanks to jetlag and early rising sun, trying to fit work deadlines around two children, and collapsing on the sofa every night at 7pm ready to head to bed myself – but having to open my laptop instead.

Nobody ever patted me on the back and told me I was doing a good job.

The days when my husband was playing rugby, working late (again), flying to far-flung parts of the Middle East for days of work on a weekly basis and leaving me and the boys to our own devices.

Nobody ever patted me on the back and told me I was doing a good job.

This is not a sob story, as I do feel appreciated. My husband tells me that all the time. My Mother’s Day cards are filled with praise. And the boys make me feel wanted every single day.

And I don’t blame that lady for walking up to my husband and giving him praise. I’m pleased she took the time to approach him and make him feel appreciated.

He deserved it.

But it would be nice – if only once, on a Saturday afternoon with the kids when I am feeling exhausted – to be patted on the back and told I am doing an awesome job too.

If only once.

Because I think I deserve it too.



24th March 2016

They will always be brothers

Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 19.08.50I had so many worries when I was pregnant with my second baby.

Would we love this baby as much?

How would we possibly manage to divide our time?

Would our first child feel unhappy, anxious, or angry when his brother arrived in the world?

Of course, I didn’t need to worry.

We did. We managed. And he was fine.

But fast-forward three years and here I am again, with a baby growing in my tummy and a whole new set of worries.

But this time, it’s not about whether I will love the new baby as much – as after all, I know now that my heart has infinite capacity to love our babies.

And I know that we will manage to divide our time threefold – as you just do.

I’m not worried about about whether the boys will cope, as I know children are both adaptable and resilient – and I know that a new baby becomes part of the family so quickly that you soon can’t image life without them.

I’m not worried about any of that.

This time, I’m worried about the dynamic of their relationship changing. That amazing relationship they have developed over the last 2 years. The closeness that, at times, results in full-on scraps on the floor – but most of the time, offers companionship and fun.

I don’t want that to change.

I don’t want them to stop walking hand in hand when we venture out the house.  I don’t want to stop hearing them singing nursery rhymes (badly) together and chatting in broken sentences when they are supposed to be falling asleep at night. I don’t want to stop seeing their eyes desperately seek each other in a crowded play area and run full pelt in their direction so they can climb, slide, and bounce together.

Where will a sibling fit in?

Who’s hand will he or she want to hold? Will he or she be better suited in personality to one of the boys than the other? And will the other one be left out? Will our house suddenly be filled be the sound of arguments, jealously, and heartbreak?

The rational part of me realises that a sibling coming along won’t change as much as I fear. They will always have each other. And even if they are fighting over who gets to push Thomas the Tank Engine around the track, they will still always have each other and (mostly) be thankful for that.

It’s hard to visualise the way life will change when you are still growing a baby – and even harder to predict the way the pitter patter of tiny feet will change family dynamics.

I think it’s natural to worry and to feel protective about the way that life is.

But I do know that whoever this little person is and whatever difference they make to our family unit, we won’t regret them coming into the world for a second. Not for one single second. And that is what I’m going to hold onto as my bump grows and the newborn days get ever more real.

After all, they will always be brothers.



23rd March 2016

Pregnancy Essentials in Dubai

1382877_10153388360975607_628832995_n

It feels kind of surreal to be venturing back into the world of maternity, but I’m 15 weeks now and it’s getting more and more real as the bump pops! I thought it would be handy to post the essentials that have got me through two (and now three) pregnancies in this city (and a helpful reminder for me too!). So here goes…

1. Antenatal Classes

For me, attending antenatal classes were an essential part of preparing for our first baby. Not so much because we then knew what we were doing when the baby arrived (after all, no class can prepare you for the full reality), but the fact we felt more confident and more prepared for his arrival and also made friends in the classes. One of my favourite companies in Dubai runs regular classes, which are well worth booking in for. The Babies & Beyond Prenatal Workshops run over several weeks (next course starting April 2nd), taken by a British midwife called Julie Mallon. Topics covered include Preparing for Birth, Labour and Birth, Meeting your Baby, and Caring for your new family (1900 AED per couple – and you may be able to get some of your money back by insurance provider). To book, visit www.babiesandbeyond.ae  or call 04 278 9832

2. Online Maternity Shopping

Stylish online maternity store Blush and Bloom has launched since my last pregnancy – and what a joy, as it saves me trawling the malls for (let’s face it) pretty average selections of maternity clothes. There are some seriously stylish styles and brands online, with the likes of Seraphine, Stella McCartney, and Madderson London making up the virtual rails. Special mention goes to the lingerie section, which is without doubt the best maternity selection in Dubai. And if you want to try things on (or get measured, in the case of lingerie), you can head to the dressing room in Arabian Ranches. Get in touch for more information. To buy or try, visit www.blushandbloom.com or call 05 845 4622

3. Hospital Tours

I’ve given birth in two Dubai hospitals – American Hospital with Stanley and City Hospital with Wilfred (and seriously considering a third for this next baby due to the convenience factor). Each time, I booked onto a tour of the hospital for when I was around 30 weeks, where we were shown the delivery suites and maternity wards. You see midwives and doctors buzzing around as you walk through the wards (and I was so surprised by just how calm it all was), which is a big boost in confidence when you are starting to feel nervous about the whole ‘giving birth’ thing. I highly recommend it. Contact each individual hospital for timings of their weekly tour.

4. Second-hand Shopping

Preparing for a baby in Dubai can be an expensive business, which is why I love the twice-monthly market Baby Bazaar, where mummies that have moved on from the baby days sell their near-perfect collections of baby essentials to mums that need to stock up! You’ll find everything from clothing, to sleeping essentials, to toys, to strollers, and high chairs. Once you’ve been to a market, you’ll never want to buy new again! The markets are held every two weeks, alternating between Times Square Centre and Sunset Mall on Beach Road – and the next one is at Times Square on Saturday (from 9pm). Visit the Baby Bazaar Facebook Page

5. Pregnancy Pampering

Jacuzzis and full-body massages flat on your back may be out for 9 months, but that doesn’t mean you can’t spoil yourself. I loved heading for regular manicures and pedicures during my pregnancies (The Nail Spa is a top favourite for the comfort factor) and adding on a head, neck and shoulder massage for those aches and pains. I also enjoyed trips to the cinema to prop my back up (I always took a pillow in my bag, but these days you can hire them) and the occasional posh spa visit for a prenatal massage (Talise Spa at Al Qasr is my ultimate favourite with its outdoor pool for relaxing around afterwards.

6. Prenatal Yoga Classes

OK, so I confess that I never got around to it during my last pregnancy with a toddler to look after too – but I loved attending regular prenatal yoga classes with my first and credit it for keeping me fit and healthy throughout. I attended Exhale Dubai (in JBR Murjan) where they hold both Prenatal Yoga and Pilates classes on a weekly basis. As I live so close now we’ve moved, I’m going to try and find the time to book in every week as I think it makes a big difference. Visit www.exhaledubai.com



17th March 2016

Pregnancy Update: 14 weeks

12527876_10156698108425607_1359576450_nHow many weeks? I’m now 14 weeks and 1 day – and still feeling sick! I think it’s tailed off slightly in the afternoon and evening, but the morning is just as bad. I’m starting to worry it’s never going to stop and this is what I’m going to have to deal with the whole pregnancy. I know a lot of ladies have it worse and I shouldn’t complain, but it’s hard when you have to leave for the school run at 7.15am!

How big is the baby? The size of a lemon! I’ve started to feel flutters, which I did with Wilfred in Week 14 too. Not consistently, but when I sit down and have a quiet moment, the baby flutters away. I’m not sure I like the feeling much at this stage, but it’s definitely reassuring.

And the bump? I’m definitely showing earlier this time, but I guess that’s because my body knows what it’s doing and has already stretched twice. I’ve started using Bio Oil again day and night (it’s seen me through two pregnancies and no stretch marks yet) and started to pull out my maternity wardrobe (and made a first order from amazing Dubai-based maternity company Blush and Bloom.

When is the next appointment? I have an appointment in a fortnight, which I’m hoping will also be the day we find out the gender. I am still having very mixed feelings about this. I can’t imagine being told ‘it’s a girl’, where as ‘it’s a boy’ is very familiar territory, so this is what I am fully expecting to hear. I’d still choose a girl if we had that luxury, but I can clearly visualise my future with three boys and it kind of seems right. I may feel a smidgen of disappointment at the scan but I’d get my head around it very quickly (a quick delve in my box of blue newborn outfits should sort that out in a matter of seconds!)

Any name ideas? I’ll keep it a secret, but we have a boy name fully sorted – and a few girl names we also like. I don’t want to make the mistake of thinking too much about the girl names unless I need to – I made that mistake the first two times and it was wasted brain power!

Cravings? Not really cravings, but I can’t get enough of juices and smoothies at the moment. Also wishing I could eat all the things I’m not allowed to. And still hating the taste of meat unless it’s smothered in sauce.

Any other symptoms? I was very anemic in my last pregnancy, so have been on strong supplements from the beginning, but I can still feel my levels are dropping as I have heart palpitations after eating and my tongue is showing the signs (gross). These are both signs of plummeting levels of iron for me. I’m going to ask for a blood test at my next appointment so we can come up with a plan, as I feel totally wiped out in the afternoons and evenings (this is why I haven’t been blogging much, as I am usually like a nodding dog on the sofa by 8pm).

I’m planning to update you on my pregnancy weekly or fortnightly, as long as you are interested – so let me know if you like the updates and I will keep taking pictures of the bump and sharing all the news!



15th March 2016

A love letter to my oldest child…

 

523578_10152089325715607_1472237348_nDear Stanley,

You were the baby of the family for 21 short months.

Still so little when your brother arrived in the world.

And when I think back to the early days, spent cuddling, feeding, winding, and lying in a baby gym with you in our villa back in 2012, it seems like a distant and hazy, but very happy memory.

I always knew that I wanted three children – but back then, it never crossed my mind that you would become ‘the oldest child’.

How could it? Not when your tiny body barely filled the sleepsuits we had bought you. Not when we had four spare arms between us – and spent the evenings passing you between us for cuddles as your eyes blinked to sleep. Not when you enjoyed every second of our attention.

You were our baby.

You still are.

But Wilfred got to be the youngest for longer – and although I think it’s going to be an almighty shock in September, he has lapped up those nearly-three years of being the little one.

I sometimes wonder if you feel you missed out  – but knowing your independent spirit, I know that “oldest child” is a badge you wear proudly.

“I am three”, you tell your brother. “And when you are three, I’ll already be four!”

“I am the winner!” you declare proudly, as you manage to finish your dinner first or climb into your pyjamas at bedtime.

“NO NO NO!”, you say with exasperation, as he colours the sun blue in his colouring book.

He’ll catch up with all those skills, of course.

But you will always be the oldest.

I was so proud of you when we told you about your new baby brother or sister, who is growing so quickly in my tummy. You were so excited. You ran into school the next morning and told your teacher proudly ‘I am getting a little sister!” even though we have no idea whether it’s this baby will be wearing pink or blue. You’ve talked about the baby constantly, patted my tummy and told me ‘Mummy, your tummy is getting big already!” and you know that the baby will have a September birthday, which is just before Mummy’s birthday, but after Daddy’s. You haven’t shown a shred of worry or anxiety. You couldn’t be happier that you will become the oldest of three.

I know this might change when a kicking, screaming, all-day feeding newborn arrives in our lives, but we still won’t forget those smiles.

But I don’t want you to grow up too quickly. Even though you wear the ‘oldest child’ badge so proudly, I want you to enjoy being little too. I want to remember your beautiful bow lips as you slept, the jolt of your tiny body in shock when I sneezed, the milk drunk cuddles in the middle of the night. I want to remember your first day of school, when your shorts fell down whenever you ran. I want to remember the smile on your face when we told you that you were getting another sibling and the fascination in your eyes when I showed you a fuzzy scan picture, your eyes moving between the photo and my tummy in disbelief.

So you are the oldest, yes.

But you were our first baby.

And that, you always will be.



10th March 2016

How to stay calm during a toddler tantrum

Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 21.10.37It’s nearly impossible to stay calm when your toddler is having a tantrum.

Especially when you can’t escape.

I’ve gone through it plenty of times on aeroplanes (that’s bad).

In supermarket queues (at least people in the vicinity can escape).

I’ve gone through it on car journeys (at least he’s stuck in his seat and can’t hurt himself).

And I’ve gone through it in public places (plenty of times).

I’ve been on the receiving end of glares plenty of times – most recently on a 7 hour flight when a lady in front of us who just didn’t like the sound of Wilfred crying when he was scared by turbulence, so decided to swizzle around 180’ and glare at his parents.

And yes, it made me boil inside.

Because did she honestly think we were enjoying the experience? As she sat in her seat with all that space to stretch her legs, without a toddler flying about in her arms and taking swipes at her face, did she really think she was having a worse time than us?

Really?

And did she really think we weren’t trying hard enough to calm him down? Because at that moment, we would have done pretty much anything to make it stop.

But as all parents of small toddlers know; if they want to have a tantrum, they will have a tantrum. And he didn’t care less that there was a lady glaring at his parents, because we’d disturbed the enjoyment of her lukewarm cup of breakfast tea.

Over time, I have realised that the best way to deal with it is try to stay calm and to repeat to myself: “I will probably never see these people again.”

But I also take comfort in hoping: “One day, you may have a child or grandchild of your own that has an epic tantrum and makes you think back to your behavior today. And when it happens, I hope you feel ashamed of yourself’.

Because even if they never get the joy of experiencing a mid-air tantrum of their own, it makes me feel better imagining a toddler flying about in their arms and taking swipes at their face.

Oh and I always try to remember – in 5, 10, or 20 minutes when my angry little person finally calms down, it will just be a memory.

A bad memory, yes.

But just a memory.



7th March 2016

Pregnancy Update: 12 Weeks

12596280_10156645920525607_434445440_n-1This is the first time I’ve blogged about pregnancy, as Wilfred was already 5 months old when I started this blog. I don’t know how often I’ll post these updates, but I’ll see whether anyone is interested and plan the next one accordingly.

To start, I’m going to answer a few questions that people have asked since I’ve shared the news we are expecting number three – including everyone’s favourite question: “will you change the name of your blog if it’s a girl?’

How many weeks are you?

I’m turning 13 weeks tomorrow and I still feel sick as a dog if I don’t fill myself with carbs every hour (at least!) I had no morning sickness with Stanley at all and I had very little with Wilfred, so it’s been a huge shock. I have a lot of food aversions. Eggs – yuck. Chicken – bleurgh.  Avocado – can’t even think about it. But I’m lucky that I never actually vomit and I know a lot of pregnant ladies have it far worse.

How big is the baby?

A large plum apparently – and my bump is growing at a quite alarming rate. I’m already wearing a few of my maternity clothes and considering getting the pregnancy pillow out of storage. It’s going to be a long six months ahead!

What will the age gaps be?

Between Stanley and Wilfred is 21 months. I knew I couldn’t do that again as it was hard going to essentially have two babies in the house. The gap between Wilfred and this baby will be exactly a year bigger at 2 years and 9 months, which I hope will be more manageable. Stanley is so excited about the baby, which is so lovely as last time he had absolutely no idea. He says there is no need to buy a bigger car as he will just hold the baby! He’s quite a sweet, sensitive little boy, who loves nothing more than to please – so I am expecting him to be helpful when baby arrives. Wilfred, however, has been in training for ‘classic middle child’ since the day he was born (and I say that as a ‘classic middle child’ myself). I don’t think it will be plain sailing – but maybe I’ll be surprised!

Will you find out the sex?

Yes, we found out with both our boys and we plan to find out again at the next scan (16 weeks) – as long as the baby plays along and lies in the right position. As much as I love the idea of finding out the sex at the birth, I’m a planner and probably a bit of a control freak, so I need to know what I’m having so we’re prepared. I also love naming the baby while I’m still pregnant, which (for me) really helps me to bond. I was told with Wilfred at 12 weeks, but my obstetrician couldn’t tell at my scan last week. So three more weeks to wait until we know whether to buy pink or get the blue out of storage!

Do you want a girl or a boy?

I always wanted boys – but I have two now and given the choice, I’d probably opt for pink this time to see what it’s like on the other side of the fence! Of course I’ve always wondered what my little girl would look like – and I’d love to have a daughter for the future especially.

I do, however, have very mixed feelings on this one as I just have a thing for baby boys! They are so delicious and I would be sad not to see another newborn in all the gorgeous baby boy outfits the other two have worn. It also feels less scary to bring another boy home. We’ve done it before and I know we could do it again!

I’m a true believer that we get the children that best fit our family unit – and I’m happy to leave that in Mother Nature’s hands. Whatever we find out at our next scan, I will be one lucky Mummy if the baby is safe and healthy.

Will you change the name of your blog if it’s a girl?

If I had a pound/dirham for every time I’ve been asked this question, I’d be bathing in champagne (not drinking it though, obvs).

At first, I didn’t think I would – as I am still Mum of Boys and always will be. But then I imagined how that girl might feel as she grew up and realised I’d need to acknowledge her too.

So yes, I’d change it – but it would just be a few added words to keep it very similar – and until I know whether it’s pink or blue, I won’t bother giving it much more thought.

That’s all for this update – but I will definitely blog another update soon!



3rd March 2016

We have some news!

12825349_10156628307435607_1558618489_n

For the last couple of months, I’ve found it almost impossible to write posts for this blog.

Because I write from the heart – but I couldn’t yet share what was inside it.

Every time I sat down to write a post, I stared at a blank screen. The words didn’t flow.

Because I wanted to tell you everything.

I wanted to tell you about how I have woken up every morning since Christmas with awful nausea. About how I chomped through two dry rice cakes on the school run every morning to get myself through it. About how I went through 4 outfit changes every day at 7am until I found something that successfully hid my swollen tummy.

I wanted to tell you about how I have been feeling. About how the thought of bringing back out the moses basket, breast pump and steriliser one last time is both wildly exciting and terrifying at the same time. About how the thought of holding a newborn again in just six months time fills my tummy with excited butterflies – but that past experience tells me to prepare myself for broken nights, sibling rivalries, and the challenge of working out a whole new routine. About how I have swung between feeling sad for the boys and remembering we are giving them the ultimate gift.

Because after a healthy 12-week scan yesterday, I am happy to share that our baby number three, god willing, will be arriving in September.

A little brother or sister for my boys.

The last pea in the pod.

The baby of the family.

I’m so happy to be sharing this news with you all finally – and hope you will join me as my bump grows bigger and we get ready to become a family of five.

I am already counting the days until I get to hold this little one in my arms.