Filling the Freezer

Over the last few days I’ve done a lot of cooking – and I mean A LOT – involving at least two kilograms of minced beef, around eight onions and several hundred grams of chopped tomatoes, amongst many other things. At one point today I had two enormous saucepans on the go, both full of the same bubbling Bolognese sauce.

I’ve got a cosy image in my head that I’m quite willing to acknowledge is unlikely to materialise. But in my fantasy land, once the baby is here and Ian has his two weeks of paternity leave, we’ll be able to snuggle up together and just get to bond as a family. We’ll only go out because we choose to and there will be some degree of suspension of normal life rules. Obviously we’ll have to eat though, and I want to eat well. I don’t, however, fancy spending precious time trailing around supermarket shelves with our newborn in tow and nor do I want to eat take away food or ready meals every day. So the only solution is to do all of my home cooking up front and stash it in the freezer. Eating well will simply be a matter of pulling something from the freezer and cooking it through. I know that life post-baby is unlikely to be that simple, but a freezer full of lovely food is an achievable aim, so I’ve been working steadily towards it.

And honestly, it’s been fun. It started with planning a number of suitable recipes to batch-cook and freeze. I came up with Bolognese, Chilli Con Carne, Chicken Curry, Moussaka, Stroganoff, Spanish Chicken Pie and Shepherd’s Pie. I ordered all of the ingredients in one go in a big online shop, along with individual portion size foil trays and freezer bags to store them in. And then I started cooking.

There has been something enormously therapeutic and comforting about chopping and preparing ingredients and watching these big batches of food evolve, before portioning them out, labelling them up and then slotting them carefully in the freezer. It may be a version of nesting, but I feel calm and in control, as if I’m preparing us for the storm that our baby may bring. I feel efficient and organised and quite possibly the closest to “Domestic Goddess” that I’ll ever achieve, all whilst eight months pregnant.

And if nothing else, it’s a fantastic way to pass time that just seems to be dragging. And being eight months pregnant is a cast iron excuse to make the mess in the kitchen and then somehow not get around to doing the clearing up….

Photographs and A Pizza Hut

I’ve mentioned a couple of times about wanting to feel like a “normal” pregnant woman and mother-to-be, rather than a lab-rat-impersonating, diabetic medical machine. And what better way to do that than taking advantage of being pregnant to eat crappy food just because you really, really want to? Seems a bit daft really, when the cause of all the medical stress is attempting to keep your blood sugars as stable as possible, eating crap is hardly likely to help. But the crap in question was a Pizza Hut pizza, and it’s something that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind for the last two weeks.

Fortunately it’s a craving I’ve found easy to suppress, because we don’t have a Pizza Hut anywhere near us to either visit or get delivered. But this evening we went up to London to preview the photos I had taken at my maternity shoot last week. And right next to the studio is a Pizza Hut restaurant. (And funnily enough, right next to that is a Kentucky Fried Chicken. No McDonalds though, so the song is incomplete.) After a few days of excellent numbers, I thought I deserved a treat. I can’t help but think that if I were a “normal” pregnant woman, I would definitely use that to justify both my desire and acting on it. So I used the phrase that every pregnant woman should use at least once: “But I’m preeeeegnaaaaaaant……” to make Ian relent. (I also tried to blame the desire for unhealthy pizza on Flangelina, claiming that they were sending me internal thought vibes demanding greasy pizza and that they would do horrible things to me on the way out if I didn’t oblige. Funnily enough, Ian did not buy this story.)

As an aside, “normal” or not, pregnancy is not really a good excuse to eat crap anyway. The average pregnant woman needs only a couple of hundred extra calories, and only during the third trimester. And she also needs plenty of good quality nutrition, rather than saturated fat! But it was a one off indulgence, so I still think I was justified!

The photos, for the record, are fabulous. We’ve ordered framed prints for our wall, but narrowing down the choice was very, very difficult. I’m so, so glad that I chose to make a record of my pregnancy in this way.

As for the pizza, I enjoyed every single mouthful. Even the heartburn it induced seems tolerable for a change. And I’m so looking forward to devouring the two remaining slices currently languishing in our fridge. Mmmm, yum!

I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside

We took a run down to the coast today to view the photos from my free pregnancy photoshoot. I was really happy with how they turned out and we had trouble selecting an image as our favourite to take as our free print. So of course, we did exactly what they hoped that we’d do – the whole reason they offer “free” shoots in the first place – and ordered a couple of extra prints. I’m only going to be pregnant with this baby once though. I may only be pregnant at all once, but even if we decided to have another, it would be a different experience. I only have now to capture this moment. And I do love my pregnant body. I’m more comfortable in my skin than I’ve felt in a long while, so I’m keen to celebrate that and remember it.

Mind you, looking at the images taken just a couple of weeks back, I cannot believe how much I’ve changed already. How much more enormous I am! I’ve known from the outset that I’ll continue to get ever larger, but it’s a different thing coming to terms with it actually happening. When I look at how stretched and hard my tummy is each day, it’s impossible to believe it can stretch still further.

It wasn’t as warm as the last time we were beside the sea but it was still a pleasant day and we decided to make the most of the trip down there and keep up with the “doing stuff whilst we can” attitude. So we made a visit to the new Turner Contemporary and then took a long walk along the sea front and finished up enjoying lunch. By the time we were heading struggling back up the (steep!) hill to the car park we’d left the car in, I was absolutely exhausted. It’s definitely true that stuff gets harder to do the more pregnant you get, and it seems that visiting an art gallery and then walking a couple of miles is my limit right now. Which I find as depressing as I find my body shape lovely. If I could have the body confidence and still be able to do everything that I usually can, feeling fit and strong, that would be my ideal. I don’t like feeling as though my lungs aren’t big enough to sustain more than mild exertion and that I don’t have the strength the haul myself about. It makes me feel lazy and unfit, even though rationally I know that not to be the true case.

Still, Flangelina seemed to have fun, kicking and rolling about during the car journey and as we wandered around the Turner, and then being soothed by the fresh sea air. Next time we go back, to pick up the images, we may well have him or her with us on the outside to enjoy it!

Baby, I’m A Star

Today I had my second photo shoot of this pregnancy. The one that I specifically booked, and was looking forward to the most, at the studio run by our fabulous wedding photographer.

Each time we visited the studio in the run up to our wedding, and then viewing our pictures afterwards, I noticed a gorgeous maternity shoot picture on the wall. It is a profile shot of a woman naked but for a long piece of flowing red fabric draped across her bump and then flying, as if in the breeze, out behind her. It really highlights the beauty of the pregnant form and since before I was pregnant I’ve know that if I ever was, I wanted a picture like that of me too.

I really do think that pregnant women have a special kind of beauty. I’ve long been fascinated with other ladies’ bumps. And funnily enough, right now I feel pretty beautiful too. I don’t usually hate my body, but I don’t think it’s fabulous, and I’m not always comfortable with my lumps and bumps and the way I look in clothes. I frequently struggle to feel attractive and I certainly wouldn’t class myself as gorgeous or even good looking. Pregnancy, however, has given me an unprecedented body confidence. I love my shape now. I don’t feel lumpy and bumpy anymore. Everything is stretched smoothly and I feel curvy, feminine and fabulous.

I’d carefully planned insertion of my infusion sets and CGM sensor so that I could take both out when I reached the studio. I knew I’d be OK for the length of the shoot without basal insulin, and I could re-insert a new set and new sensor immediately afterwards. Being medical device free added to my sense of freedom and confidence.

For the hour I spent at the studio, I felt like a star. We started with some clothed shots to capture the shape of my bump. We then moved on to some beautiful semi-naked shots – the kind I would never normally dream of posing for. And finally we played around with that flowing red fabric. For the duration of the shoot, I forgot about numbers, and diabetes and worried about the baby’s well being. I even forgot about my aching back and heartburn and all the other uncomfortable aspects of the third trimester. I had fun!

Obviously I haven’t seen the pictures yet, but I’m already excited. If I could offer one unusual tip to someone who is newly pregnant, it would be to book a photo shoot. Make the most of your truly amazing body, capture your unique shape and really, really enjoy doing it!

Babymoon Adventure

Does my bump look big in this?

When we booked to go away to the coast this past weekend, we expected that it was going to be autumnal. We wanted a few days to spend together as a couple for the last time before the baby, and so envisaged curling up in front of the log burner, and wrapping up for blustery walks along the beach. What we got was very different. The hottest October day on record at a scorching thirty degrees!

The house that we booked, down at Camber Sands, was right on the beach. The door opened on to the sand and we could hear the waves rolling all night. It turned out to be a little piece of heaven. In the warm early mornings, while the tide was out and the day trippers yet to arrives, we took glorious long walks along the water’s edge, our bare feet sinking through the sand, stopping to collect shells that I have a vague idea of sing for some craft project. As the beach filled up with sunbathers until hardly a square inch of sand was visible, and they began to scorch and roast under the hot sun, we retreated in to the shade of our house where we played board games and relaxed. As darkness wrapped itself around the dunes, we cosied up cooking lovely meals, watching DVDs and then gazing at the stars, before sharing a bath in the giant corner tub.

The only downside was that the degree of heat does not mix too well with heavy pregnancy. My feet swelled up to such a degree that I broke the only pair of flip flops I’d taken with me. (We had to search out more, along with sun cream, and it turned out that the beach-front shop from which we bought them had re-opened especially due to the hot weather!) I had to spend much of our indoor time with my feet propped up on a tall pile of cushions, and each walk we went for seemed to make them balloon yet more. My fingers were so puffed out that my wedding and engagement ring are currently residing on a chain around my neck. And I couldn’t walk too far or do too much without feeling utterly exhausted. But that was OK, since relaxation was our primary aim anyway.

It was odd to think that this was our last baby free holiday, just the two of us. I couldn’t help myself keep imaging a similar trip with our child in tow. Watching them paddle in the water, collect shells and build castles in the sand. It was a fantastic weekend, but I feel ready now for what’s coming next.

“Do Everything Now. Do It. Do It All Now!”

That seems to be the number one piece of advice that people want to give me at the moment. Which is funny, considering that a couple of months ago some of the same people were berating me for wanting to take so much maternity leave before the birth. It seems there is a generally held belief that once you have a baby, life is pretty much over, and therefore you should take advantage of your last shreds of freedom and do as much as humanly possible (or pregnantly possible!) with it.

I don’t believe at all that life will be over, but I do now that it will be very different and so I think I’ve been doing a pretty good job at making the most of this time, to be honest. Less than two weeks in to maternity leave I’ve already had a couple of long lunches with friends, been for a pregnancy massage and made a sizeable dent in some reading and craft projects. This weekend we’re off on a babymoon, and so we decided to kick the weekend off yesterday with a proper date night to complete the experience – and make use of one of our last opportunities for some time to go to the theatre. (And the last opportunity for a very, very long time to go without worrying about a babysitter!).

But before that, I headed to Margate for the day. Back in August, when we had our 4d scan part of the package was a free pregnancy photo shoot at a studio down on the coast. The shoot and one picture are free, so not one of those things with a dodgy catch that you have to spend a fortune on the pictures. Of course, I’m sure that they will try to sell us plenty of extra pictures, but despite this, and despite the fact that I have another shoot already booked for next week, I decided I may as well make take advantage of the offer and have fun. Given that I can’t drive at the moment, it’s not the easiest place to get to, but I figured it would be an adventure and a useful way to pass a day. So off I treked on the train this morning, schlepping a bag of outfit changes in addition to my big pregnant tum. It turned out to be swelteringly hot day, especially for the end of September, and I was extremely grateful for the air-conditioned comfort of the HS1 train from Ashford!

The shoot was good fun. We did some simple shots using black and white tops, and a shirt of Ian’s that I “borrowed”. Some of the shots felt a bit cliched – especially the one where the photographer had me make a heart with your thumb and fingers over the bump – but given that I wasn’t paying, I’m not particularly bothered by that. It was fun to flaunt my curvy shape and revel in the sort of body confidence I wish I had at all times. Hopefully we’ll have some really nice shots to choose from when we head back down there is a couple of weeks.

Following the shoot, I whiled away some time in a lovely cafe, stuffing myself with an all day breakfast – not the heart-healthiest of foods, but easy to turn in to a low carb option – and watched the waves washing against the shore with seagull circling ahead, before catching the train up to London.

I met Ian after work and he walked whilst I waddled, over to the Charing Cross Road where we picked up some dinner. It was such a beautiful, hot early evening that I was really tempted to have a sneaky small glass of wine. These are the occasions on which I most miss alcohol. A Pimms would have been lovely too. But with absolutely no justification for it, I resisted and made do with a Diet Coke. We finished up the day watching Blood Brothers. In the eighteen or so years since I first saw it, I’d forgotten just how good it is.

By the time I slumped on to a seat on the train, I was absolutely dead on my feet. My very swollen feet that retained the marks of my shoes long, long after I’d taken them off. This is the first major swelling that I’ve run in to this pregnancy and I’m hoping a combination of the heat and being on my feet for so much of the day are the primary causes, rather than anything sinister like the start of pre-eclampsia.

Oh well, it’s the perfect excuse to spend the weekend with my feet up. And what better place than by the coast on such a glorious day, which promises to turn in to a glorious weekend!

Cupcake in the Oven

Today was a lovely day. Especially after yesterday.

Or at least, it was a lovely day when I let myself relax. It was probably the tension that caused my blood sugars to run higher than normal this morning. I was rage bolusing in unit after unit and by 11am I had taken well over my pre-pregnancy total daily dose. But needs must, I suppose.

I met a friend for lunch. Also diabetic and also pregnant, due to be induced very shortly. As we met in South West London, I was on the phone to Ian, bemoaning how out of control I felt and “of course the baby is going to be a massive fatty if this is the best I can do”. But then I ended the phone call and we went for lunch at Carluccios, where I decided diabetes be damned for just a short while. A higher than ideal blood sugar at that point was going to do far more harm than my stress level, I reasoned. So I enjoyed my ravioli and bolused accordingly (for which read: LOTS!) It was lovely to swap notes on a diabetic pregnancy, and feel a little bit less alone with all the pressures and hard work of getting through it. It’s nice to chat with other people who just get it. Unspoken, much of it.

We then took the relaxation up a notch and headed to the Cupcake Spa. Cupcake a family centre with two locations comprising activity rooms for parents and children, a cafe and also a spa specialising in maternity treatments. Yay for maternity spas after the disappointing experience of being sent away from a massage appointment at 13 weeks because they weren’t prepared to treat pregnant women.

That incident aside, I’ve had massages before during this pregnancy and they just weren’t… all that. At Cupcake, instead of lying on your side like an ungainly whale, or leaning forwards in a massage chair, you lie on a bed of water pillows. It was soothing in itself with my vast weight evenly distributed (and most importantly off the major vessels which is the usual reason for avoiding lying on your back in late pregnancy) but also allows the therapist to massage the full body by sliding their hands underneath you, between your body and the squashy pads. It was so heavenly that I actually fell asleep on the table. I’m not a fan of waterbeds, but I could do this every night!

I’d removed my two day old infusion set and two week old sensor before going in, partly to avoid questioning, but also so they didn’t get in the way. I felt very liberated to be completely naked with my bump. Quite possibly the first time it has happened during my pregnancy. Despite the pump removal, a combination of the rage bolusing, walking a good distance from Carluccios to Cupcake and the relaxation had the sought after effect on my blood sugars, and saw me shovelling in jelly babies like mad. I was just relieved to be back down to a familiar range, although grateful that I avoided a crashing low whilst actually being massaged.

After today, I feel a little more loving towards myself. And I feel like honoring the little life inside me, instead of surrounding it with feelings of worry and inadequacy. After all, it’s not a bun in my oven; It’s a little cupcake.