Finding Your Groove, and not theirs.

I am by no means an expert, but the one thing I have really learned from my 26 weeks of pregnancy is that every pregnancy is different and you really do sort of have to find your own groove. Let me first say here as a disclaimer that this blog contains my own views and opinions and they are not those of any company or any particular brand or belief system. It's just what I have come to know, and what has worked for me.

Pregnancy can be overwhelming, anyone will tell you that. People will tell you that you that you don't have to buy too much and that all the baby needs is 'love' and suddenly you realise that love isn't paying for the pram, or the car seat, or the nappies, or the baby bath, or the steriliser, or the clothes. Need I go on? While it's great to not put too much pressure on ourselves, I also feel that it is extremely important to be organised and to have some sort of a plan. The beauty of life is that not everybody has the same way of doing things and my plan might be exactly the opposite of yours, but it's about finding what works best for you and doing things in a way that benefits you most, and perhaps more importantly benefits your future little one and the new family that you are creating.

I spent maybe the first 15 weeks of pregnancy asking a million questions and trying to get my head around what I needed to do, what is appropriate to do at what point, as well as questioning the things that I shouldn't be doing (sometimes just as important). I wanted to have a pregnancy that was as stress free as possible. For some people 'stress-free' is being easy-going and carefree and having an 'it will all work out' type of attitude. Sometimes people like to not over-think what they need to do or have too much of a plan and that works out so incredible well for some people. I envy that attitude in lots of ways. I, however, could not be further from this. I am a planner. My own mother always jokes with me about the fact that I have actually been known to say the words 'tomorrow I am going to do something spontaneous'. Yep, you heard it here first, I plan spontaneity. Now there's a contradiction for you! All jokes aside, I am a planner. I love a good list too. Nothing makes me happier than making a list of what I need to do, creating a plan, and crossing things off the list as I get them done. I get a great sense of satisfaction out of lightening the load and feeling as though I am making progress and making things happen. Others absolutely detest this kind of thing. Isn't that the wonderful thing about this little world of ours though? We are all so different. I think the important thing is to figure out what kind of person you are, deciphering what works best for you as an individual and making it work as best as it can for you. Ryan believes in you, and so do I!

Here are some of the things that I have found really useful. Things that worked for me, and maybe they will work for you to.

- Making a list and checking it twice

Santa hasn't got a patch on me! Seriously though, I find that making a list is so incredibly useful. When I first found out that I was pregnant I literally thought 'oh fine, I'll just get a buggy and some nappies and I'll be on my way'. Turns out that there were many other purchases that I hadn't even thought of. Things like a Moses Basket, Bottles, Steriliser, Blankets, Baby Bath, Changing Mat, bouncer, travel cot, toiletries, baby monitor, bedding for Moses basket, clothes, mattress for travel cot, cot (eventually), baby bag and various other things that I probably can't remember right now. Not all of these things are necessary for everyone so do not panic but as soon as I made a list I started to see these beautiful little ticks appearing beside each item as I began to work my way through it. I would get a few bits each month, find sales and get things while they were on special offer, discover that my lovely amazing family members actually had lots of baby things to give me as they no longer needed them, or second hand things on the likes of Done Deal ( It made all the difference because when you have a million things floating around your head it can become a huge worry and I can almost guarantee you that as soon as you sit down and write out a list of what you need, you will suddenly find the most frugal and clever ways of working through your own list in the most cost-effective and practical way for you. Another good tip is to sit down and have a chat with someone who has recently been pregnant or had a baby. Their advice will be practical and up to date. I found this really invaluable. People will be honest with you and tell you what is unnecessary and what is vital. 

- Don't be proud. Second hand is always a good thing when it comes to baby items.

I can understand the motivation behind wanting to have all lovely shiny brand new baby products to use on your beautiful bundle of joy. I felt the same at the beginning, but there comes a time where you have to be a bit more practical and think outside the box. You could have an aunt, a friend or a neighbour who would only be too delighted to see someone else getting use out of a baby product that they no longer have a need for. And guess what? Nine times out of Ten, baby products that you buy second hand online or get from others are immaculately clean and in perfect condition. Baby's are gorgeous clean little creatures and it's quite surprising to see how little everything is actually used. I remember thinking that a Moses basket was used until the baby was about 1 years of age. How wrong was I? Some people are lucky enough to get about 4 months out of the Moses basket depending on the size of the baby and what the baby finds most comfortable, but some people use it for as little as 5-7 weeks. This is one item that I was absolutely delighted that I didn't have to buy. It is a hand-me-down and is in perfect condition. If you do want to buy one you will find great deals in the likes of Mothercare, especially when they have a sale on. You can get all different types and they are sure to have something that suits you. Here is their website I have been lucky enough to get some great hand me downs and gifts and it has made life a whole lot easier, particularly financially. At a time when you are about to welcome a whole new person in to your lives anything that makes life easier should be readily welcomed. 

- Combined Care?

There are lots of different schemes in each hospital that cater for different types of needs and requirements when it comes to appointments. Some people find it easier to visit their local midwife clinic rather than always trekking in to the hospital. Some people like to split the visits between your GP and hospital, and there are also great schemes such as the Domino Scheme that allow people from certain areas to leave the hospital early after giving birth if you live in a particular catchment area. Ask the questions and do some research to find out what works best for you. It's important to start the way you mean to go on. I happen to live and work in the same part of Dublin that my maternity hospital is located in, so hospital visits for Midwife appointments suits me best, but everyone is different. 

- Don't eat that, Do this. Do that. Try these... 

Something you might find interesting about pregnancy is that suddenly EVERYONE is an expert and you will get about 50 conflicting opinions on a daily basis. Things like don't find out the sex (vs DEFINITELY find out the sex) to 'don't eat a single peanut' will hound your ears for the full 40 weeks. It is important to remember that everyone really does mean well. You might like to take some pieces of information with a pinch of salt (but not too much, you could get high blood pressure!) but my advice for a first-time-mam would be to not seem like a, well, know-it-all. I know that none of us would want to come across that way but if we constantly have an 'I know' attitude then people will start to view us that way. Our mammy's, our nanny's, aunt's, friend's, neighbours and even our worst enemies want to share with us all that they found to be true in their pregnancies. Take it all on board and then decide for yourself what works best for you. For the first few weeks I was really hung up with certain dietary 'rules' and the more I researched and spoke to my GP I realised that for me 'everything in moderation' was a good idea. I wouldn't go as far as eating peanuts or peanut butter but the odd helping of satay sauce isn't going to hurt! Some people rigidly stick to these guidelines and that is perfectly OK as well. As I've said already, it's about what works for you. It's your body and your baby and of course we all want what is best for our babies and pregnancy is such an important part of that. Speaking of which, one thing I have been doing is trying my very best to eat healthily. What has worked for me is just not buying the likes of chocolate and biscuits when I go shopping. If they are not there then I won't eat them, simple as! I find that I feel better when I'm eating lots of fruit, vegetables, fibre-rich foods and foods that give me and the baby important nutrients and vitamins. I also guzzle through the water when I'm in work but I'm not so great in that department in the evenings or at the weekend. See what I mean? You just have to try and do what is best for you. 

- Relax 

This sounds like such a huge cliché but it is something that I have found to be so important. When you are pregnant you might feel surging levels of tiredness that you have never experienced before. It can be overwhelming at times because while you are this amazing vessel that is making a baby (I'll never get over that, it really is amazing) you still have to go to work and pay bills, clean your house, cook your food, wash your clothes and look after yourself too. Life doesn't just stop when you are pregnant. It is probably nature's way of preparing us for the busyness that is to come. Find a balance! Believe it or not you can do all of your work, chores, and stick to your daily routine each day and still make more of an effort in the relaxation department. It could be something as simple as taking a ten minute tea break and sitting down with a magazine, running a hot bath before you got to bed and having a nice soak for a few minutes before you sleep, or going to bed fifteen minutes earlier than normal and reading in bed before you sleep. These are just ideas but they are so important. You don't want to over-work yourself or burn yourself out. Have a plan, try and be as organised as you can, and you might be surprised at how easy it is to pencil in some R&R. My personal favourite thing to do in the evenings now is to have a shower, put on fresh PJs and relax in front of the tv with a mug of Ovaltine. I cannot get enough of the stuff and it helps me sleep. It also tastes amazing! I bought mine for a couple of euro in Lidl by the way... Moral of the story, look after yourself and your body and mind will look after you. 

I could go on and on here, but they are probably the most important things. They have all really helped me and I am delighted that so far I have had a really lovely pregnancy. I'm not perfect and I'm sure I am doing some things that people don't recommend when pregnant such as going to Vegas in two weeks time. Did I mention that before? Some people might think I am crazy but we had it booked before we got our great news about the pregnancy and we are all-systems-go provided everything continues to be as good as they are now. I am just a doctor's note and a bit of packing away from a once in a life-time holiday to Las Vegas with my man. Sure, I'm a bit nervous and yes I do have some worries (mainly about the long flight and fears of pre-term labour) but we can't always live in fear. My mam always taught me to 'feel the fear and do it anyway' so come March 8th I will be strutting my pregnant belly down the Las Vegas strip, sipping on non-alcoholic cocktails, eating in fabulous restaurants and of course shopping for my little baby. The money could definitely be put to use in the baby department but you know what? Life is about living and I cannot think of a better way to launch this new phase in our lives so I am welcoming the experience with open arms and I couldn't be more excited! Our last holiday before two becomes three. Sometimes life about going with the flow and taking things as they come (says she who clearly has about a million Vegas-related lists at the ready...)