Five Christmas gifts for kids that are woke AF

Empowering and life-affirming gifts are not just for adults. Take the opportunity this Christmas to continue your children’s emotional, cultural and intersectional understanding with one or two of these incredible gifts for little ones. Stay woke, kids!

End Gender Norms jumper from Bloody Nora Pam

This jumper comes in black in ages three up to 11 and costs £16. There’s no better way to ensure kids understand the restrictions of traditional gender norms by offering them a choice and allowing them to wear whatever they want. This gender-neutral jumper is a must-have for any parent that rejects the tired ‘pink and blue’ trope. Get it here.

Recycling truck from Green Toys

Recycled milk jugs are the primary component in all of the Green Toys products. The plastic is collected by waste management, cleaned, shredded into flakes, reprocessed into a raw material and mixed with food-safe, mineral-based colouring. By using recycled plastic, they divert materials from landfills, save energy and reduce their carbon footprint. This recycling truck is the embodiment of close-looped play and is a great way to introduce the idea of recycling to your little ones. Reduce, re-use, re-cycle, Rihanna!

Representative dolls from Diverse Dolls 4 All

Ever been disappointed by a total whitewash of the dolls in the toy store? Representation is such an important part of each child feeling accepted and self-assured and playing with dolls that represent a variety of ethnicities is the first step you can take to ensure your children understand the multi-cultural world around them. Diverse Dolls 4 All also specialise in multi-cultural learning aids to help enable children to learn about difference and diversity.

A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara

A quick search online will bring up a plethora of socially-conscious kids’ books, specialising in feminism, LGBT+ issues, race and gender. ‘A is For Activist’ by Innosanto Nagara is a fantastic first step in introducing your children to activism and the idea of fighting for what you believe is right. Huge messages on every page to inspire hope for the future! 

Supporting a young girl in India

It might be hard to explain an intangible gift like this to your child while they are little, but a long-lasting commitment to sponsoring a child in need of basic aid could be life-changing for the two of them. The Invisible Girl Project enables you to sponsor a young girl in India who has previously been at risk of being killed, abandoned or trafficked.

Although they will grow up thousands of miles away your youngster will grow up alongside your sponsored young girl, and over the years your child can follow their progress closely through letters and updates. Although it may not seem like a gift to them, they will grow up with a deeper understanding of life in a completely different culture. At the very least, it will help them empathise and appreciate all the other toys and comforts they have in life – even if that empathy only lasts for a few minutes at a time!

Do you have any gifts on your wish-list for your kids that you hope will empower and inspire them? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

Q&A with Kith + Kin Design founder

For the next couple of weeks I’m in the proud company of Louise, founder of Kith + Kin Design, for our #DressDownFriday competition collaboration. Regular readers will know that I’m passionate about working with driven, creative entrepreneurs to tackle gender stereotypes that are all too prevelant in kids’ fashion today. It’s been such a pleasure to get to know Louise and her business, and I’m thrilled to be able to share a little more information with you about what her company stands for and why she’s passionate about gender equality. Have a read on…
When did you set up your business?

I set the business up about a year ago, when my sister was pregnant. I work freelance as a fashion print designer and wanted to pursue my own practice. My sister and her partner didn’t want to learn the sex of their child before the birth. Wanting to get on with planning and dreaming for this new person in their lives, she found it difficult to buy unisex clothes that appealed to her. This started the creative wheels turning in my head, and so I set out to fill a gap for parents who face the same challenges.
What makes Kith Kin Design unique?
I go my own way and don’t subscribe to trend. I offer a palette that is more daring than the monochromes and subtler than the hyper primaries seen in other gender neutral clothing brands. With the mini artists collection I’ve focused on creating timeless artworks rather than chasing sales by offering more of the same. I’ve thought about the life of the garment post sale and the waste created with superfluous packaging, and I actively encourage further wear by producing how to guides on the website and on the reverse of the bespoke milestone cards included with purchases (instead of fancy packaging). It might not be 100% unique but it certainly feels rare to be making things you’ll genuinely want to hold on to and pass on.
Why is there an emphasis on gender neutral through your work?
It’s a response to the emphasis that big retailers have put on gender in babies clothes. Not every parent wants to be dictated to about what their baby girl or boy should be wearing, especially when the offer is more of the same old stereotypes. Sticking to gender norms limits our experiences and our interactions. Babies don’t care what they’re dressed in, but adults do, and behave differently according to the gender they think they are engaging with. And associating specific colours with specific genders is a trend in itself. In Victorian England babies were typically all dressed in white whatever their gender. Pink and blue was introduced in the 1940s to encode the ideas about gender of that time. Now in 2017 we know that there is no sacred list of what girls and boys are meant to be like, and growing up to be a seven year old adventurer and tree climber is not incompatible with playing with dolls. So why not dress in whatever colours we want to right from the start? And, of course, it makes it a whole lot easier to pass clothes on!
Why is organic and ethical important to you?
Fashion is the fifth most polluting industry in the world, tied with livestock, and is notorious for it’s treatment of workers. As the person in control of production I feel it’s my duty to make sure the decisions I make change fashion’s negative impact on the planet, and respect the people making the clothes. I follow a slow fashion method of producing limited quantities which transcend seasons, thereby reducing waste. My care towards the garments goes beyond selling: making clothes that will last, and can be passed on to family and friends or donated to organisations who help new parents at a time of need, is an overarching goal of Kith Kin Design.
Why do you support the #dressdownfriday campaign?
Retailers need to know that there are a growing number of parents, friends and family who see the outdated and damaging messaging of their clothes and want change, want more flexibility and more diverse clothing for their kids. Dress Down Friday makes people feel supported by other members calling out retailers for blatant stereotyping in their kids wear offerings. It’s a place for community and reassurance – when the high street makes your thoughts about gender stereotyping seem exceptional, it’s good to be reminded there is in fact a whole load of people thinking the same thing!
You can shop the Kith + Kin collection here. Click here to find out more about the #DressDownFriday competition in collaboration with Kith + Kin Design.

I’m a plan-obsessed control-freak – but I’m not finding out the sex of baby #2. Here’s why…

When I fell pregnant with my daughter, I was absolutely sure I wanted to know the sex of the baby as soon as possible. At the time I didn’t mind if the baby was a boy or a girl, but I had convinced myself that it would be easier to bond with, and ‘visualise’ the baby, if I knew the sex. Paranoid that the pregnancy wouldn’t go to plan, I figured that the time I had to get to know the baby would be invaluable time I’d never get back if the worst was to happen.

More practically, I’m also a compulsive planner, so the more time I had to buy all the stuff I needed and sort the nursery, the better. By the time she was born, the obsessive organiser in me had everything in place; every pair of baby socks had been washed and paired, the muslins were ironed and folded and the home-made Jane Austen mobile was hung over the cot.

Now I don’t necessarily regret the decision to find out the sex of our first born, but over the last couple of years, I’ve come to feel differently about our society’s approach to gender when it comes to babies and young children.

Everyone that stopped me in the park or street in the first few weeks asked me if the baby was a boy or a girl. I didn’t mind this at all until I started to notice a pattern. Over the next few months, whenever the baby was wearing something gender neutral, people always assumed she was a boy. When they did this, the language and even the tone and volume of their voice changed. She was referred to as a ‘strapping young lad’, with ‘good strong legs for football’. People were louder and more direct when they spoke to her. Whenever she happened to be dressed in anything more feminine, people addressed her as a ‘beautiful, delicate little thing’, in hushed, comforting tones.

I was also puzzled when many people, after hearing me fret about her sluggish weight-gain as a newborn, would say, ‘yeah but little girls are supposed to be small, you wouldn’t want a great big baby girl, would you?’ All I wanted was for my baby to be healthy, it seemed peverse that this was a response I would hear over and over again – if my baby’s health was at risk, why would I care what she looked like? It seemed totally irrelevant to me.

As the year passed, I came to notice more and more how much emphasis we put on gender; from the way we talk to babies, to the sea of pink and blue clothes on the high street with their reductive, generic slogans, to the hyper-gendered baby toys in every shop window, to the increase of ‘gender reveal parties’.

Why, when these babies are yet to make their way in the world, were we so hell-bent on leading our daughters in one direction in life, and our sons in another? This heaps unnecessary pressure on kids from the get go and almost asks them to live up to an impossible idea of what it means to be a ‘girl’ and what it means to be a ‘boy’.

When it is well evidenced that ideas that children form about gender from the ages of two and three stay with them into their adult lives, we know that the toys they play with and the clothes they wear have a huge influence on them. Children aren’t born with these ideas; they learn them from the world around them.

I became increasingly more agitated when people would assume Emily was a boy because she was wearing something considered ‘boyish’, like a dinosaur t shirt, or Paw Patrol wellies. Finally, in my own small way, I decided to push back on all this gender nonsense.

When Emily was about 15 months old, I set up the #dressdownfriday campaign; a means by which parents could come together en-masse to uplode pictures of their kids in clothing that smashes gender stereotypes.

I felt like all this gender prevelance presented an incredible opportunity to challenge the status quo and reject these outdated ideas on gender. Within the space of six months, hundreds of parents had joined the campaign, and it received backing from a number of online clothing brands – and even got a celebrity backing from Gok Wan! You can read more about the campaign here.

It has also been great to see the conversation around gender being driven by organisations like ‘Let Toys Be Toys’ and ‘Let Clothes Be Clothes’; they’re helping to change the narrative around traditional gender norms and they’re getting parents to consider the impact of hyper-gendering on their children. Retailers like John Lewis are launching gender-neural clothing lines and many others are introducing more ‘empowering’ slogans and designs for both boys and girls.

And so now that I’m pregnant with my second child, I’m looking at the prospect being a parent to a ‘boy’ or a ‘girl’ a little differently.

I now don’t feel the need to know the sex of my baby. This little bean is already so loved and is already so much a part of my life, not knowing their sex hasn’t stopped me from bonding with them.

As a relentless planner, I’m also finding it easier than I thought to plan for a baby without knowing the sex. Regardless of the gender, the nursery and all of the newborn clothes will be white with splashes of colour, and a great deal will be hand-me-downs from their big sister, who already has a wardrobe made up of clothes from the boys’ and girls’ section of the store.

I’ve come to think that if I expect this baby to grow up being tolerant and excepting of others, I need to demonstrate to them that there is no right or wrong way to be a boy or to be a girl. They will have the opportunity to wear, play and socialise without gender restrictions. This way, they’ll hopefully know that they can grow up to be whoever and whatever they want to be…and that no matter what, they will always be that little bean that has been so loved from the minute I found out I was pregnant.

20 Weeks & Counting: What I’ve Learned So Far…

We’ve just come back from our 20 week scan and I’m relieved to say everything is A-OK with the baby.

Now that we’re successfully half way though this baby-cooking journey, it’s made me reflect on the first few months of pregnancy, and I thought I’d share some of these ponderings with you.

First off, it seems to be the cruellest irony of pregnancy that at a time when you’re feeling your worst – physically and mentally – in the first few weeks after finding out you’re pregnant, you have to do your utmost to hide your pregnancy from the world. Let’s take a minute to applaud all those mamas out there who have successfully made it through their first trimester whilst balancing a career, parenting, and general day to day life – without so much as a groan or a whimper to give the game away. It is fucking rough to have to ‘carry on as normal’ when you feel like you’ve got a perma-hangover and even the thought of putting your toothbrush in your mouth makes you gag. Mamas, we don’t get enough praise for making it through the first few weeks, so give yourselves a great big pat-on-the-tits for that.

Secondly, upon reaching 12 weeks of pregnancy, I seem to be carrying my baby weight-gain entirely around the bottom half of my face. Everything I’m eating is apparently not providing nutrients and sustenance to the baby, it’s instead working its way to my jawline and pillowing out my neck and chin. Having a ‘neat bump’ is the last thing on my mind when my chin is nearly resting on the top of my tits.

Finally, I’ve noticed how different things are when you’re pregnant for a second time. First off, people don’t give as much of a shit that you’re expecting. You’re already a parent, having another kid just makes you even less likely to make it to hen dos and after work drinks, so people just assume they’re going to see even less of you than they do now. Added to that, you spend less time obsessing over the pregnancy than you did the first time round, mainly because you’re too busy trying to constantly put socks on a toddler to worry about ‘what fruit’ your baby measures up to that week. Attending to a two year-old who is more demanding than Mariah Carey at her birthday party has meant that the first half of this pregnancy has flown by.

The aim of the game now is to continue to grow a healthy human inside of me, to find time to ‘bond’ with the baby and relax into the pregnancy, all the while looking after a feral toddler, preparing for an impending house renovation and finding a few hours in the day to actually do some work. Simple.

#DressDownFriday Competition with KITH + KIN

It’s been a while since I last collaborated with an awesome brand to bring you a #DressDownFriday competition, but you incredible, stereotype-smashing parents deserve a proper treat for your continued support of the campaign.

With that in mind, I’ve teamed up with KITH + KIN, a fashion brand that specialises in unique, gender-neutral and organic baby-wear.

KITH + KIN have kindly offered up one of their t-shirts that will be winging its way to one lucky winner.

Here’s what you have to do to enter:

  1. Like Musing Mum and KITH + KIN on Instagram
  2. Post a picture of your kids in their outfits that smash out-dated and pointless gender-stereotypes, using the hashtag #dressdownfriday
  3. Tag Musing Mum and KITH + KIN in the photo

And that’s it! The competition will run from 27th October – 17th November. After that, a winner will be selected at random from all the #dressdownfriday entries. Each #dressdownfriday post will count as an entry, and you can enter every Friday of the campaign if you want to!

Thanks again to all of you for your continued support of the #dressdownfriday campaign. Working together, we can normalise the idea that kids should just be kids! If you’d like to find out more about the #dressdownfriday campaign, click here.

Here are the Ts&Cs:

Usual terms & conditions apply. Competition details form part of these terms and conditions. Competition runs from 27th October  to 17th November – on the 27th October, 3rd November, 10th November & 17th November. Separate entries can be submitted on each Friday of the campaign. Entries are accepted worldwide. To be entered into the draw, entries must post a photo on instagram. They must be posted along with the hashtag #DressDownFriday. Kith & Kin and Musing Mum must be tagged into these photos. Entrants must like Kith & Kin & Musing Mum Instagram pages to be entered into the draw. The winner will be picked at random on the 23rd November. The winner will be contacted via direct message at which point clothes size and delivery address can be shared. Sizes available are 6-12 months or 12-18 months. Postage / delivery is included in the prize. Prize value is £18.00. The prize is one T shirt. No cash or other alternatives will be offered. The winner agrees to the use of their name, photograph and disclosure of country of residence and must be willing co-operate with any other reasonable requests relating to any post-winning publicity.

Toddler Halloween Party Ideas

Last year I threw a Halloween party for Emily and a few of our friends. Halloween is my favourite holiday of the year – I have my inner goth to thank for that – most of our decor year-round has a gothic Halloween feel to it. As much as I like throwing a themed party, I’m all about minimal fuss and minimal expense, so I thought I’d share some of my pictures and party ideas with you in case they’re useful for anything you’re planning for Halloween.

First up – decking the halls with ghoulish apparel

I got all the decorations at Home Bargains, Asda and Poundland. In total I didn’t spend more than £20 creating a Halloween vibe throughout the downstairs of the house, and this included balloons, cobwebs, garlands, ceiling hangers, pumpkins, lanterns and skulls. I didn’t go crazy with the decorations, but it’s enough of a gesture to theme the party.

Looking the part

I bought ‘mummy daughter matching dresses’ from Want That Trend, it cost around £35 for the two dresses and for something that’s pulled out of the wardrobe once a year, the quality is fine. I bought a 50p witches’ hat and a £2.99 witches’ headband and broomstick to finish off the look.

Fast and frightening finger food

I kept the cost down by catering hotdogs and buffet food, including newly-weaned toddler finger foods. Where possible, I tried to stick to the spooky theme…

 Keeping the little monsters entertained

I laid out a craft table with paints, paper and spooky cookie cutter plastic shapes for the toddlers to make halloween cards to take home with them. For the littler ones, I made a series of ‘slimy, gooey sensory bags’ that I stuck to the windows / play table for them to get to grips with. I made these using green hair gel, glitter, and added things like google eyes and plastic spiders. All the kids loved having a good squeeze of these (me too truth be told)!

It was such a fun party, and great to see all the littlies dressed up and enjoying themselves. Not bad for a party that cost under £100 all-in.

Hope a few of these ideas give you a helping hand ahead of your party. Let me know if you use any of them and how you get on – I’d love to see your Halloween party pictures too!

My Love-Hate Relationship With Instagram

Love it or loathe it, you probably have the Instagram app on your phone that you check intermittently throughout the day. You probably like a few aesthetically-pleasing ‘insta-pics’ as you scroll through the updates and you might occasionally comment on one or two images that your close friends upload, regularly using the following emojis in lieu of actual words:

Although perhaps you’re more of a regular user; you might check Instagram every few hours, watch a few insta-stories and keep up to date with some of your favourite hashtags.

Or perhaps you’re like me. Perhaps you click on the app every free second you have to see what new stories and posts have been uploaded, or what new ‘insta-beefs’ might be bubbling up. Perhaps you frantically scroll through your feed and like close to a million pictures of things like toddlers in cool monochrome outfits, stylish women posing in front of walls, flatlays of a collection of hipster things you never knew existed and now you can’t imagine living without . Perhaps you get into deep philosophical debates with a total strangers on topics like ‘free the nipple‘ and the unfair cruelty of insta-algorithms. Perhaps you obsess over new followers and comments and likes on your pictures, and are filled with self-loathing and a million unanswered questions about your self-worth when you click on the affiliated app to see how many, and more importantly – who – has unfollowed you. This is my world of Instagram, and as much as it has brought me hours of entertainment, inspiration and joy, I fear it’s eroding my sense of reality, not to mention my mental well-being.

To weigh-up the pros and cons of this gloriously self-indulgent, voyeuristic app, here are the three things I fucking hate about Instagram, and three things I fucking love about it.

Instagram is the fucking worst:

  1. It can feel like one big popularity contest

The format of Instagram makes us obsess over numbers. In the past I have found myself thinking, ‘I can’t possibly follow more people than the number that follows me, that would make me a total fucking loser’. I know that this is absurd and I’d never choose not follow someone I was genuinely interested in following for fear of an imbalance in my followers to follows ratio , but a part of me can’t help but feel wanted and loved and respected and adored when my followers numbers creep up. I am ashamed of this fact. But I know I can’t be the only person on Instragram who obsesses over this. The majority of users I follow appear to work tirelessly to maintain a chasm-sized difference between their followers / follows numbers and it’s worn like a status symbol, a badge of honour.

This is why so many users adopt the infuriating ‘follow-for-follow-to-unfollow’ technique. It’s the social media equivalent of being asked out on a date, getting to the restaurant and then being stood up. Actually no, it’s worse than that. It’s like turning up at the restaurant and having all the cool kids from your school dump a load of pig’s blood over your head like you’re fucking Carrie. That’s how devastating it can feel. It’s a nasty and vain thing to do, and I make a habit of unfollowing anyone who thinks they can simply ‘collect’ me as a follower.

I’m sure even the most successful instagrammers feel pangs of guilt and self-doubt when they find themselves obsessing over their followers numbers too. I don’t think anyone is above feeling this way, no matter how successful they are. But it’s the game we play and it’s Instagram that makes us play it.

2. Everyone’s house / wardrobe / life looks nicer than yours

Fundamentally, instagram does not depict real life. It’s a perfect snapshot in time that may never be replicated, but we’re led to believe it’s their normal way of life. These people must at least have a ‘messy drawer’ in their sparkling chrome, minimalist kitchen. I would kill to have just one of the people I follow post a picture of the inside of their messy draw, an unmade bed, an overflowing linen basket. I think Instagram would explode with the lack of aesthetics.

3. It brings out the worst in me

Instagram makes me think things and stuff are important, rather than people and actions. It makes me jealous. Jealous of nice, well-meaning people that have lovely, perfect-looking lives. When an insta-love-in feels more like one big circle-jerk to me, I can’t help but feel guilty for thinking ill of people who are just supporting each other on social media. It creates a vicious cycle in me of jealousy, hatred, guilt and self-loathing, which is repeated roughly every hour that I check the app for updates.

On the other-hand, Instagram is the fucking best:

  1. There are some genuinely awesome people out there

I have had the honour and privilege of connecting with some of the most lovely, supportive, generous and empowering people to walk this planet. I would have never even known about them were it not for Instagram and now some of them are even proper, in-the-flesh, real-life friends. Some of these people that I know I’ll never meet have even gone out of their way to compliment me, message me if I’ve had a bad day and offer heart-felt advice and guidance. I’ve shared some of my most personal, treasured and sometimes darkest secrets with these people, and they have with me, because we’ve forged a strong trust in one another. These people have helped pull me through a dark day, they have broadened my world-view, and quite frequently they have made me laugh until I wee myself.

2. Instagram grassroots campaigns can change the world

There are so many incredible people on Instagram who are using their platform to make the world a better place. Style Me Sunday‘s Warrior Woman Initiative, Mother Pukka‘s #FlexAppeal campaign, and Candice Braithwaite‘s #MakeMotherhoodDiverse are just a few of the fantastic causes championed by busy, passionate mums.

It genuinely fills me with so much inspiration to see these hard-working people fight to change social wrongs and make it easier for women to be strong, confident, independent mums.

 

 

 

 

 

3. It brings out the best in me

Through the support and example set by many incredible women on Instagram, I have started to feel better about my ‘mum bod’, laid bare my struggles with anxiety and even posted pictures of me with my norks out breastfeeding my daughter. These are things I would never have made public in a million years were it not for the inspiration and fearlessness of the women before me who dared to be the first ones to share images like this. Instagram also gave me the platform to set up my own campaign, #DressDownFriday, to tackle the huge issue of gender stereotyping in kids’ fashion. Through this campaign, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and collaborating with some incredible, like-minded parents who have supported me and the campaign from the get-go.

Instagram, and the incredible people who populate it, have inspired me to want to work hard in my own small way to make the world a better place.

Yes, it isn’t perfect, but Instagram is what you make of it. I could choose to roll my eyes at the over-filtered, perfect pictures, but what’s the point in that? Instead, I choose to embrace the earnest positivity that’s generously shared by so many Instagrammers. I’ll do my best to be supportive in return, and I promise to never post a pointless, wanky, hipster flatlay ever again.

Emily’s 2nd Birthday Mad Hatter’s Tea Party…On a Budget

I love nothing better than throwing a party with a good theme, and Emily’s second birthday provided us with a chance to push the boat out and do something really fun. But what I’m most proud of is that I didn’t spend more than £40 on costumes and decorations.

Emily loves Alice in Wonderland, and it’s a fun theme with lots of possibilities. Here are a few photos from the day.

 

I used a mixture of bought and home-made decorations. The ready made ones came from amazon, you can get them here. To save money, I made some playing card garlands to hang in the windows, and baked home-made ‘Queen of Hearts’ jam tarts.

I also made my own party bags using cheap white paper bags decorated with red heart stickers. All the party bag contents, including colouring books, bubbles, chocolates and sweets, came from the pound shop – I didn’t spend more than £1.50 per bag!

I kept costs down with the buffet wherever possible, so instead of buying an M&S sandwich platter as I initially intended, I made them myself with bought sandwich filling. Again, I went for an Asda rainbow sponge cake as it was only £12 – but it looked pretty impressive! In total, I didn’t spend more than £40 on all food for around 25 guests.

It was a fantastic day, the decor was just enough and not too OTT…unlike my husband’s costume – he went full on Mad Hatter!

Bleeding in Early Pregnancy

I wrote the text below on the morning of my reassurance scan after I started bleeding when I was eight weeks pregnant. I wasn’t sure if I should share it. I didn’t write it for the blog. I wrote it on my phone to keep my mind busy and to kill some time as I agonisingly waited in the Early Pregnancy Unit waiting room at the hospital. I was trying to make some sense of my emotions, and trying to gain control of a situation that felt like it was spiralling away from me.

Having read this back after the scan, where I had the incredible gift of seeing that little heartbeat flutter on the screen, I thought it might be useful to share how I was feeling. So many women have been in my situation where they experience a bleed in early pregnancy. And many, many women don’t get the opportunity to ever meet that baby. A bleed when you’re pregnant is one of the most terrifying things you can experience. Before you find out either way what is happening with your baby, that waiting time is dark, lonely and feels never-ending. If you’ve gone through this or you’re currently going through this, know that you’re not alone. Here’s what I was feeling…

 

Today I find out if my baby still has a heartbeat. Waiting to find out has been hard. I still feel pregnant. I want this baby so badly. But I bled quite heavily on the weekend and no matter how much I want this baby, there is a huge part of me that knows that when we get into that ultrasound room, there’s a very good chance I’m going to get the sympathetic look and a squeeze of the hand from the sonographer.

At seven weeks we had a scan and there was a heartbeat. A healthy, strong beat that I watched flicker and fizz on the screen. My baby was in there. It was alive.

I’m not ready to give up hope, and these last few days of limbo have given me that – the time to dare to believe that everything might be OK.

When I do think about the worst outcome, I’m overcome with grief. But in the next moment, I’m flooded with feelings of guilt. What could I have done differently? If I’d have just not had those drinks before I knew I was pregnant. If I hadn’t forgotten my prenatal supplement those few times. If I refused that one runny egg. I tear myself apart with all of the things that could have triggered the bleeding, even though I know that most of the time there’s nothing that can be done. I guess finding the reason, having something to pin all this on gives me back a tiny element of control in a situation that is so unbelievably and unfairly out of my hands.

I also find myself berating my feelings of sadness because in many ways I’m lucky. I have a healthy 22 month-old daughter. I’m only eight weeks along. Some women have it way worse – some women have never got as far as eight weeks into a pregnancy.

I’ve been dying for days to find out whether or not I’m still carrying the baby. And now the moment is almost here I don’t want to know. I just want to go on pretending everything is OK. I don’t want to know that the alternative might be my reality. I don’t know how I’m going to deal with that.

First Trimester Must-Haves:

Having finally come out the other side of the first twelve weeks of pregnancy, I’ve collated a list of a few essentials that made my life a whole lot easier.

  1. Kool N’ Soothe Migraine Patches

My biggest ailment in the first three months of pregnancy was the almost constant headaches and migraines. As my usual migraine meds are off the table now, I’ve been searching for anything to help ease the pain when a paracetamol doesn’t scratch the surface. These patches are quick and easy to whack on your forehead and do provide some temporary relief to a throbbing head. Nothing has come close to actually eliminating the pain, but these do help. Short of performing the medieval procedure of drilling a hole in my skull to alleviate the pressure, these will do until I pop the baby out.

  1. L’Occitane Relaxing Pillow Mist

One of the cruel ironies of early pregnancy is that although you spend most of the day like a semi-conscious walking cadaver, it can still be really tricky to get a good night’s sleep. I’ve found this essential oils pillow mist to be quite calming. It smells gorgeous which makes me relish getting my head down every night.

  1. FrezyDerm foam facewash

Hormones can be a cruel, cruel mistress when you’re pregnant and I’ve found I’m more prone to spots and break-outs than I usually am. As bad as it sounds I don’t normally use a facewash, but when your skin suddenly explodes with lumps and bumps, needs most definitely must! I’ve found this foam facewash by FrezyDerm to be just what I need to reduce redness and clear up blemishes quickly… and it smells great too!

  1. Benefit Boi-ing under-eye concealer

When your under-eye bags are darker than the pits of hell, you’re gonna need a concealer that won’t quit. This stuff by Benefit has been the best concealer I’ve come across. It’s not too heavy so it doesn’t sit in my wrinkles and it’s brilliantly brightening. Essential when you’ve clocked 10 hours sleep over the course of three days.

  1. Decaf Yorkshire Tea

Yorkshire Tea is the best tea on the market hands-down, and I’ll fight anyone who disagrees with me. Cutting back on caffeine has been brutal over the past few months, but the fact that this decaffeinated blend tastes almost as good as the real McCoy has meant I can still enjoy a brew after dinner like the 60 year old that I am.

  1. ‘Bedside table’ Doritos

As much as it would annoy my husband to hear me crunch through a few tortilla chips in the middle of the night, I found this was the best way to keep the middle-of-the-night queasiness at bay. They’re plain enough not to upset my stomach more, and they’re substantial enough to fill me up and stop the nausea. Plus who doesn’t love the excuse of 24-hour snacking on crisps?

  1. Pregnacare

Because salty chips have been my ‘plat-du-jour’ for the last three months, I’ve been taking a multi-vit every evening to make up for the astounding lack of nutrients elsewhere in my diet. It’s not a substitute for proper fruit and veg, but when you’d rather pull your eyelashes out than force-feed yourself some broccoli in those early days of pregnancy, a pill of relative nutrients becomes essential. I bought mine on Amazon as they were generally cheaper than in the supermarkets or pharmacies.

  1. Grey’s Anatomy box sets

Me-time and self-care is so hugely important when you’re expecting, especially if you’re a busy person or you already have little kids to look after. Whatever it is that helps to centre you – whether it’s a pamper sesh, meditation, or like me, TV and sofa time – you need to make an effort to ensure you do this from time to time to keep your sanity. Nothing makes me forget about my anxiety more than an hour of McDreamy. I’d let him give me a thorough examination any day of the week!