[2017: 44] Boxing, Cake Fails and Friday Favourites

The Week With The

I ended up watching the boxing last weekend and it really surprised me. Or maybe I surprised myself: I actually enjoyed it. I felt awful because, jeez, it looks painful but also it's...exciting? I feel kinda bad for enjoying it. 

...baby names. 
We were given two baby name books this week, so promptly set about creating a short list. The 'short' list had 22 names on it, and we've now managed to get it down to 10. So that's...progress? This baby had better make it to full term because there are a lot of name debates to fit in over the next few weeks.

Easy Vegan Cupcakes

...cupcake disaster.

Reclaiming Mental Health Self-Care #BoringSelfCareNov

'Why don't you go on a spa weekend?'

This, friends, is some of the worst 'self-care' advice I've ever been given. Having spent an hour talking to a CPN from the home treatment team, that was her solution to my crippling anxiety and depression. Yes, I had just explained to her that I could barely leave the sofa. Yes, I was ill enough to need regular home visits. Yes, she was meant to be experienced at dealing with people in crisis.

And, often, this is what people associate with mental health self-care: spa weekends, scented candles, manicures and blow dries. It's a big business and, I get it, if you function extremely well and are a bit stressed those things are probably helpful. They're also, let's face it, the parts of self-care that are easily monetised by content creators.

Mental Health Self Care

However, those suggestions are not remotely helpful when you're struggling to even have a shower.

[2017: 43] Christmas, Hospitals and Friday Favourites

My Week

...Christmas prep!
It has begun: I downloaded my Christmas playlist, I made Christmas cakes, I read a couple of Christmas magazines. I also signed up for Janet's Thrifty Gift Swap and Char's Blogger Secret Santa (you've got until 1st and 6th November respectively if you want to join in). I get why some people hate the whole 'starting Christmas in October' phenomenon but, as a Christmas mega fan, for me it's never too early.

...lack of sleep. 
Between the occasional hip pain, overactive mind, persistent cold and the fact that turning over in bed is a five stage operation, sleep has become somewhat elusive. If anyone tells me to 'sleep before the baby comes' I'll probably hit them. Or I would if I had the energy.

14 Surprising Things About Pregnancy

Surprising Things About Pregnancy

Self-improvement is non-existent.
Pregnancy's a nine (well, eight) month warning to become a proper adult, right? Wrong. It's eight months of trying desperately to not regress too much.

It feels like a process. 
I was expecting a binary pregnant/not pregnant feeling, whereas in reality it's been way more tentative than that for me. Maybe it was the fact that we'd experienced an early miscarriage, or maybe I'm just great at catastrophising, but it's never felt like a given that I will actually get a living, breathing baby at the end of this pregnancy. I might start to believe it one day, but until then I'll obsessively googling/trying to feel grateful for each day of pregnancy.

Baby brain is real.
I was dubious about this one. Forgetfulness caused by lack of sleep, sure that makes sense, but by pregnancy itself? I just couldn't see it happening. But yeah, it's real. This is no brain fog, this is a complete mental blank. Example: this morning I went to leave the house, realised I'd left my phone upstairs, went back for it, realised my phone was in my pocket and that I was listening to music on it. See also: going to post a parcel and not taking the parcel; initiating an accidental factory reset on my phone.

Toy Windmill

In Defence of Trigger Warnings

[Note: this is a general discussion about trigger/content warnings and doesn't cover any specific topics/triggers, although the linked articles do]

Attacking trigger warnings is easy. It's easy to laugh at 'special snowflakes' and the notion that someone might be upset by something in a play. It's easy to assert that we need to be endlessly exposed to the horrors of the world, that it will make us better people somehow.

This entirely misses the point. The people who need the trigger warnings aren't people who aren't aware of nasty truths, they're the people who are all too aware of them. The people who've lived through them, who haven't had the support they need to process this trauma, and who could do without being sent into a dangerous downward spiral.

I have, and sometimes still do, need trigger warnings. I have been 'triggered' by content online, on TV, on the radio (and, yes, in plays) that has led me to put myself in real, physical danger. I've watched TV dramas that have taken an unexpected turn and left me reliving the most traumatic experience of my life over and over again for weeks.

When I've been particularly vulnerable or unsupported (and let's face it, many people reliant on NHS mental health services are unsupported) these triggers have led to me having days off work, to dangerous behaviours and to obsessive thought patterns that make functioning a near impossibility.

This isn't about preventing naive people feeling a bit sad about the world. It's about trying to help people who are fighting just to stay afloat. People who are trying to drag themselves through the day without getting sucked into a downward spiral that could kill them.

If you really can't empathise with that feeling - well, I'm jealous of you, you've had a relatively lucky life, or maybe an incredibly consistent and robust support network. Not everyone has had the same luck.

Some people need a bit of extra protection and if all it costs you is a bit of exasperation, maybe that's not too big a price to quietly pay.

20.10.17: Adulting?

I often feel like my life is one big audition for the part of 'functioning adult'. I am yet to be offered the part.

Today I actually managed a couple of adult things: I called the DVLA to find out why they hadn't sent me a paper counterpart licence, I did a refresher driving lesson and I cleaned quite a lot of the house. Pretty adult right? Except part of me knows that, really, a proper adult would have realised that paper counterparts aren't issued anymore, and she would have driven regularly after passing her test, thus negating the need for the refresher lessons, and she would have bought the cleaning products without getting any pick and mix.

Oh well. Baby steps are better than no steps, right? Anyway surely the whole point of being an adult is that you can eat pick and mix whenever you want? Otherwise I want no part in this adulting game.

Four Days in New York

New York Highlights

Having devoted many, many pre-teen hours to reading about the lives, crushes and dubious fashions of the Babysitters' Club, New York had taken on a bit of a mythical quality in my head. I am pure Mary-Anne, after all. So it was pretty exciting back in April when I was actually able to spend four days there. It was weird being in a city that I'd never visited before (in a country I'd never visited before) that felt so, so familiar. Not because of the language (seriously, no-one could understand me) but because New York is such a massive part of popular culture, and so packed full of iconic buildings. I kept having to remind myself that it was my first visit. 

I guess all of this meant that I was a bit nervous beforehand that it might be disappointing - my expectations were pretty high - but it most definitely was not. Now, four days is not much time in one of the most exciting cities on the planet, but here's a bit of what I did actually manage to fit in:

Central Park Lake

Central Park NYC

Central Park
Starting with probably the most obvious attraction here, but... Wow. Actually, wow. The guidebooks are not lying when they tell you it's immense. I could probably have spent the whole four days in Central Park, but we limited ourselves to four hours instead. This was also where my 'the babysitters went here' radar went into overdrive. The carousel! The Alice in Wonderland statue! The Dakota! The lake! Tavern on the Green! I think Pete was probably very, very glad that we didn't spend four days here.

Tenement Museum
Based in and around a restored tenement building on the Lower East Side, visiting the Tenement Museum was one of the best things I did in NYC. You pay to do guided tours, either of the building itself or around the local neighbourhood. The restored tenement building is amazing - they've reconstructed each floor of the building as it was during different time periods, to tell the stories of the immigrant families who actually lived there. Tip: book the tours online so you don't have to wait around and can get on your first choice(s). I did not do this because I'm a fool. I ended up doing a walking tour  of the changing local architecture and a building tour and really enjoyed both; I guess if I had to pick one I'd do the building tour as it really personalised the history.

One World Observatory View

One World Observatory Empire State View

One World Observatory
One of the key questions when planning a New York trip seems to be, Which high building should I take photos from? We toyed with the Empire State Building, but the fairly obvious disadvantage of that is that you can't see the Empire State Building from there. That left Top of the Rock or the One World Observatory, so we just went for the tallest one. Makes sense, right? It's pretty impressive; basically imagine the Shard but with way more drama and you're pretty much there.

September 11 Memorial

National September 11 Memorial
We had a fairly quick visit to the memorial, and the last-minute timing of the trip meant that I hadn't really done much research and wasn't sure what to expect. This was probably a good thing, as it meant I could properly experience the shocking scale of the memorial. It really gave me a sense of the impact of 9/11; I guess until you stand there it's hard to really comprehend it's impact, and the sheer scale of it.

Liberty Island Manhattan

Statue of Liberty

Ellis Island

Liberty and Ellis Islands
We managed to pick the cloudiest, drizzliest few hours of our trip to visit Liberty Island (because we're lucky like that). We weren't able to book tickets to climb the woman herself, but we did manage a (damp) walk around Liberty Island, before getting back on the boat and heading over to Ellis Island. It was here that I stopped my Babysitters Club fangirling - and started my Here's To You, Rachel Robinson fangirling. The Immigration Museum was excellent. Walking into the Immigration Hall gave me goosebumps and the exhibitions really brought it to life. You know sometimes you go to a museum and just think, they have done this really, really well? That. If you're in a rush I'd just go to Ellis Island and take your Liberty photo from the boat! 

Grand Central Station Ceiling NYC

Grand Central Station
Obviously, for me, this was a must do (because I love transport) but I'm pretty confident that pretty much everyone would like it. If you're just a regular, non-train obsessed person, you'd probably be satisfied with staring at the beautiful painted ceiling for a while before exploring the market and food hall. For the more train-loving types, a tour is a must. I did the audio tour, which is great because you can do it whenever you want, and there's also a free walking tour once a week. My photos are a bit rubbish (it's a busy station so you have to be pretty confident/irritating to take your time over photos) but trust me, it's stunning in real life. I might have cried a bit which - pregnancy, jet lag and emotional instability aside - I think you'll agree is still quite the endorsement.

Native American Art Museum NYC

Native American Art Museum
This was a really interesting way to spend an hour or so. I studied a bit of Native American history at school so I knew the basics but the collection is beautiful and a great reminder of the cultural diversity that exists within the descriptor 'Native American'. It's located near Battery Park, Wall Street and the harbour so it's a great one to combine with other touristy bits.

Chelsea Market Clock

The High Line

The High Line Empire State View

The High Line NYC

Chelsea Market and the High Line
Yep, it's another transport-themed attraction (albeit a bit more subtle than Grand Central). We started our final day in New York with breakfast at Chelsea Market, before hitting the High Line. It's an old train line that's been repurposed into a public park and walkway above the city. It's an incredible project, and a great place for spotting graffiti, taking photos of the streets from a safe distance, admiring the views and just generally enjoying a walk that didn't have to happen at 315 mph.

New York Public Library Lion

New York Public Library
Not just one for the book lovers, this stunning building is free to enter and could be anything from somewhere to pop into for 10 minutes to somewhere to sit for an entire morning. I didn't have a massive amount of time on my hands, but I'd have loved to spend time sitting in the breathtaking reading rooms.

 Four days isn't enough to see everything, but then I feel like 40 days would also have been a push. For starters, this list is totally Manhattan-centric, and there really is loads to do across the water. 

Going to New York for four days was exhausting, overwhelming and totally, 100%, worth it.

11.10.17: Maternity Leave, Baths and Cravings

This is my first week of maternity leave. Which is weird, as I'm only 29 weeks pregnant and am fit as a slightly achy, anxious fiddle. But this was our best option with the relocation and actually getting some statutory pay, so I've been left with something of a gap in my calendar.

Initially I wanted to cram my time with volunteering, meeting all the people, just basically being super busy until December when I would allow myself to collapse on the sofa surrounded by Christmas films and Lebkuchen. Except...the third trimester has made me tired and achey and a bit anxious and  just...not really able to cram my days full of unpaid work. 

It's weird; I'm not ill, I'm not on holiday, I'm not unemployed, I'm not looking after a child, therefore I'm feeling a bit guilty about not working. I'm fully aware that this is completely ridiculous - I'm in what for many people (including me) is a pretty dream scenario. So I'm making a conscious effort to enjoy myself and just do less for a while. This might involve a Lush bath or two.

In other news, I went to Asda at lunchtime and bought this little lot. I think maybe it's reached the point where I can call it a craving. Baby loves ramen, apparently.

I also wrestled myself into maternity tights. Let's just say, I regularly walk up a hill near my house that's on a 16% gradient, and the putting on of the tights made me more breathless. I've informed Pete that if we go anywhere nice in December he will be putting on my tights for me. Lucky guy.

What's in a (Sur)name? Pt 2

I spent a large part of yesterday hanging around in banks. I met an old lady who shared all her many concerns about modern life, a man in an overly shiny suit who asked me to explain to the difference between Mrs and Ms, and a woman who told me I only looked four months pregnant (I can only assume she had never met a pregnant person before).

To what did I owe these dubious pleasures? I'm actually, finally, sort of changing my surname. When we got married last year I proudly kept mine. I like it a lot and it felt unnecessary to change such a big part of my identity and history, particularly when men have no such expectation placed on them. I blogged about this before, first marriage time around, and although quite a bit has changed since then my opinions haven't. I got (re)married, I kept my name, all was good.  

But, as I could see even all those years ago, having a baby was always going to throw a spanner in the works. The problem with children is that they need a surname. We had Daddy B and Mummy S. Baby B made me feel left out; I'm growing this baby, they'll have half my DNA, I wanted to share a surname with them, and I wondered if they might question our choice when they're older - Sarah blogged about this recently too. Baby S was out of the question for similar reasons. Baby B-S has obvious problems, and Baby S-B might have caused drama (I didn't really care about going first, but I didn't want my kid to get nicknamed 'Baby Bullshit'). In any case, neither of us felt that comfortable with giving them a double-barrelled name; it felt a bit clumsy and some people hate having one. It also felt a bit unsustainable - what happens if they get married/have children and want to incorporate another name into theirs? A brand new surname didn't really suit us either; our names don't melt into anything useable, and neither of us wanted to change our name anyway.

The much-longed-for spanner in the works.

It became clear that someone was going to have to take a double-barrelled-bullet and I didn't want to, um, shoot my baby. So I am now Liz S-B and, if all goes well, in around 10 weeks we'll have Baby S B (where S is a middle name). My brother and I have my Mum's maiden name as a middle name so it feels like a good way to continue the tradition, and the baby can always go double-barrelled if they want to when they're older. 

The thing that's surprised me is that I actually like it. Initially I thought of it as a sacrifice, or at least a compromise, but I really do like it. I feel like we have a 'team name' that works for us, and we got there without me having to completely change my moniker. And, thanks to the unusual spellings of three out of my five (!) names, I'm confident that I'm now a totally uniquely full-named human. Which is weird in the very best possible way. 

27.08.17: Probably not a Millennial

I've just realised that I'm old. I suppose I knew this already; I know theoretically I'm not a teenager anymore, and I'm aware that I only get ID'd maybe once a year, but still, I get nervous making phone calls and I know the name of Zalfie's pug*, so I figured I must be a millennial at least.

Mates, I was in denial.

This weekend we went to Victorious Festival in Portsmouth (which was great, and a bargain) and the demographic was basically split into two: families, and groups of 12-25 year olds. And, looking around, I realised that I DONT UNDERSTAND THE YOUTH. Also my 23 week pregnancy belly made it pretty clear which demographic I slotted into (and I imagine the resulting child will make it even clearer).

The line up consisted mainly of bands I used to love. And by 'love' I mean 'obsess over in the way that only a 19 year old who doesn't have an actual job to occupy her time can'. As I watched Franz Ferdinand, Maximo Park, Elbow, Field Music, Pete Doherty and Stereophonics from the safe middle of the crowd, I reflected on the 'crushing my ribs against the barrier' days of yore and how things have changed. Or not. I still know all the words, I'm still pretty obsessed with the bands, and they were still excellent.** They haven't changed that much, I haven't changed that much, and that's the whole point really.

The things I like are not that cool. I am not a Millennial. Except for the phone calls thing; that's totally valid. Totally legit. I meant legit. 

*I respect but pretty much hate Zalfie so maybe I'm better off not being a real millennial.

**Except maybe Pete Doherty, who is still good but also...just say no, kids.

25.08.17: One Day at a Time

I have a new mantra: one day at a time. I've been repeating it to myself somewhat dogmatically for days, probably more out of necessity than some kind of spiritual rebirth.

Pete's been a moving hero this week; doing the bulk of the packing and moving our stuff into the new house in Bristol. I am pretty much squatting in my own flat now while I work my last few weeks at work; it's just me, an airbed and an armchair we bought from Gumtree. I'm pretty confident no-one died in it, but you can never be 100% sure about these things. The baby is doing well, the anomaly scan was anomaly-free and we know the sex. So that's all getting somewhat real.

The upshot of all that is that change is afoot. And if I think too hard about that my mind kind of races into the future and I'm basically staring into the abyss. Which leaves me a choice: fall into the abyss (been there, it's messy and dark) or take things one day at a time.

One day at a time it is. Turns out things are much easier if you're not constantly imagining a horrifying future. Huh.

Everything Changes But You

The last, say, 15 years of my life have been fairly eventful. To be fair, most people could say the same about themselves between the ages of 16 and 31; it's rarely a boring time. In my own particular case, I've had 14 homes, 10 jobs, two husbands, six hospital admissions, three family bereavements, I've visited 20 new countries, and studied at four universities.

And there's a lot more change in the offing; if everything goes to plan the next six months will see us relocate to Bristol and *gulp* have a baby. So yeah, my life is currently one big festival of trying not to freak out about change.

Despite all of this, or perhaps because of it, I find it comforting to remember the things that haven't changed. So, some things I still have in common with 15 year old Liz:

I love:
Salt and vinegar crisps.

Fruit. All the fruit.
Brushed cotton duvet covers/soft blankets/duvets in general (nothing can hurt you under the duvet, right?)

Laughing until I can't breathe (usually at animals/people falling over).

Dancing like an idiot.
Making lists (case in point).

I hate:
Branston Pickle.
Arrogant men (I guess it was boys back then).

I need:
Validation (although I can sometimes do this for myself now).
At least eight hours sleep a night.

I can:
Sleep through pretty much anything (thunderstorms, earthquakes).
Do some excellent, if slightly niche, impressions (a frozen chicken, Deirdre Barlow, a monkey).

Drop things, spill things, lose things and trip over things with almost unbelievable regularity.

If you need me I'll be in my duvet eating crisps and pretending everything's staying exactly the same and it's not scary at all. Yep. It's all gonna be fine. Completely fine. 

Marmaris: A Holiday Scrapbook

A few weeks ago Pete and I looked at our calendars, took into account expiring passports, annual leave allowances, the unpredictability of third trimester pregnancy, and impeding relocation, and realised the window during which we could go on a child-free holiday together was closing. So after some extensive online searching (seriously, it's like the Thomson website doesn't actually want you to buy a holiday) we booked an all-inclusive week in Turkey. Lounging around a resort for a week isn't usually my bag, but I feel like I'd reached a stage in life/pregnancy/my stress levels where the thought of lying down, eating, reading and swimming for a week was ridiculously appealing.

Said week of lounging means that there isn't really enough physical evidence for one of my usual scrapbooking projects, so you get a blog post instead (you lucky things). Some photos, thoughts and memories:

This was probably the most relaxing holiday I've ever had. Even after the first day I felt completely calm and chilled out. I'm writing this on the last day (view from balcony above) and it's seriously an effort to keep my head up.

One morning I woke up to the sound of Pete's phone vibrating. I obviously jumped to the immediate conclusion that something awful had happened and promptly started freaking out. Turned out I'd actually missed all the drama: in the night I'd apparently open my eyes, looked at Pete, told him not to be silly and gone back to sleep. I am not the person you want by your side during an earthquake (but if you know me, you probably knew that already).

Sunsets and the sea and just beautiful, really, aren't they?

All inclusive slush puppies are almost the one. Obviously air con is the actual one though.

Watching the fish through our epic full-face snorkel.

Pete eating three starters (two were a 'heroic' attempt to save me from banned cheese and raw fish, the other one was...arguably unjustified).

I can't be too smug on the overeating front though; my baklava obsession reached new, syrup-soaked heights.

Spending actual quality time with Pete. It's weird how you can live with someone and still feel like you don't really spend enough time together.

Kicking Pete's ass at cards. Well, at the time of this scorecard I was kicking his ass. I don't think you need to know how it ended.

Sometimes it's important just to be. To listen to yourself and just do what you want to do at that moment. 

Help Please! Some Non-Googleable Pregnancy/Childbirth Questions

If you have looked after babies and/or given birth to them, I need your advice and opinions (please). I've obviously been googling pretty much everything pregnancy and baby related, but there's some stuff that just comes down to experience. So, I'd appreciate some opinions on the following:

1. What's the one piece of advice you'd give someone who's having their first child?

2. What's the one (perhaps non-super-obvious e.g. not 'a car seat') baby item that you'd recommend buying?

3. Similarly, anything you bought that was completely pointless?

4. What actually helped you during childbirth? Either in terms of preparation, aftercare or on the day(s)? I don't know yet what kind of birth I'll be having so any advice on this is very welcome!

5. How bad is the post-giving-birth pain/discomfort? No-one seems to talk about it much but the one book I've read made it sound beyond hideous. Is it beyond hideous?

6. This might make me sound completely stupid, but what did your newborn enjoy in terms of stimulation? Is it all person-to-person stuff, or were there 'toys', lights, etc that they liked? I feel like once we get to the 'sensory play' stage I am sorted (used to teach children with PMLD) but not 100% sure what the very early days are like for this...

7. If you experienced depression/suicidality/anxiety/mood disorders pre-pregnancy, did you experience a return of these symptoms pre- or post-natally? When did it happen for you? Were the warning signs/presentation/treatments similar to what you experienced/what worked for you in the past? NB: I get that this one is very personal, but I would absolutely love to hear about people's experiences in this area - feel free to email me if you don't want to comment! So far I've been relatively stable through pregnancy but given my history this is a big concern for me.

8. Finally, most importantly, WILL IT ALL BE OK?

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda: The Guilt Trap

I am so guilty of feeling guilty. It's my MO. For example:

I wake up. It's 8am and it's Saturday. I have no plans until, say, 1pm. Woo-hoo, free morning, I think. Perfect chance to watch bad TV and relax. Actually, I should really write a blog post. Or maybe I should write a letter. Before I do that though I should really reply to all those WhatsApps. I am such a bad friend. Or I could go swimming - I would have done that yesterday but I was too knackered. No, really I should clean the house. I can't believe I haven't changed my phone contract yet, I should have done that months ago... Tied up in knots and completely unfocused, I then proceed to watch the bad TV anyway, only now I'm not enjoying it, because I feel guilty about all the other stuff.

Sound familiar? (Please say yes, don't make me feel weird here.) 

Recently (as in, very recently, like the last week) I've decided to make a conscious effort not to do this. I know from speaking to friends who are raising kids that guilt can be a big issue; it's stress about the difference between how things are going and how you feel they should be going (or how the books/forums/well-meaning-but-interfering relatives tell you they should be going). One friend told me she wished she'd been more relaxed as, on reflection, she'd been doing a better job than she thought she had at the time. I want to be so aware of this (now and when I have a child) as I can only imagine how easy it would be for me to to get caught in an anxiety/guilt spiral, especially when the stakes feel so high. 

So I'm starting now. I'm trying to be mindful, not just during meditation, but while I'm doing things. If I'm reading, I'll read. If I'm swimming, I'll swim. If I'm worrying, I'll worry. One thing at a time, and trying to bring myself back to that activity, not thinking I should be doing something else. 

This week I'll mostly be practicing enjoying doing not much at all - easy - and not feeling guilty about it - much trickier. 

The First Trimester: The Book, the Windmill, and the Booties

Day 1: I am four weeks and two days pregnant. Every time I remember I grin. I flit between excitement and dread and obsessively google miscarriage statistics. I go to the toilet at work and see the thing that I've been most scared of: bright red blood. Obviously I freak out. I somehow get to the EPU and cry at the first person I see. I pee on a stick; feint positive. This is not good news. I know I'm having a miscarriage, I'm terrified it's ectopic. They do a scan, and Pete's confusion - 'I didn't realise it was going to go up' - makes the whole thing a bit funny. The scan finds nothing; this is awful and a relief. We leave Kings and head home to wait for the blood results. A friend texts saying she loves me and hopes I'm ok; I realise later that someone has driven a van into the crowd on Westminster bridge but at that moment I just appreciate the sentiment.

Day 2: A lovely nurse from the EPU calls with the blood results. I am definitely no longer pregnant. I think I'm ok. I burst into tears at random moments and the loss feels deeper than I would have expected, but it's ok because at least I know why I'm sad.

Day 5: As we queue for check-in at Berlin airport (we've been away for my birthday), I google 'fertility after chemical pregnancy'. I tell Pete, fuck it, let's try again this month. We've waited seven months to get this far, we're now painfully aware of just how badly we want it.

Day 28: I promised myself I'd wait until New York before testing. Arriving in the hotel room, I open my suitcase and pull out the pregnancy test I've brought with me. Pregnant: 2-3 weeks. It feels surreal.

Day 30: Over a Shake Shack lunch (where I cry because my burger is wrong) I tell Pete that we're now further than last time. More cautious optimism. He goes back to work and I do an audio tour of Grand Central Station. At one point I sit on the floor and put my hand on my belly. It's definitely all fries and grape Fanta but I know there's (probably, hopefully) something in there. In the gift shop I see a Grand Central children's book and I know I'll be buying it and hiding it from Pete until it seems less insane. It's a show of faith; I'm telling the universe I think this one might stick, and grow.

Day 39 (5 weeks, 4 days): The nausea, hanger and breast pain are kicking in now. We tell our parents. It's early but everyone's in the same room because it's my Dad's birthday weekend, and that never really happens. They're all excited, but in the same cautious way that Pete and I were 11 days ago.

Day 64 (9 weeks, 1 day): Early scan day. We've caved and spent 100 of our hard earned pounds on an early private scan. There's no medical reasoning for this, but my anxiety cannot wait another month. I cry when I hear it's heart beating; I was convinced there would be a problem. I'm stunned. We send our parents pictures and videos, the excitement is catching now. I tell Pete about the book I bought in New York; predictably, he thinks I'm insane.

Day 80 (11 weeks, 3 days): The nausea is easing. It now feels like the end of a hangover rather than the middle of one. Everything is starting to feel a bit more real now: we've told some close friends and I am properly addicted to Mumsnet. We go to Bournemouth and Pete's Mum gives us a windmill that she saw and bought for the baby. I'm so touched; it's confirmation that someone else believes this is really happening.

Day 90 (12 weeks, 6 days): 20th June. This date's been etched in my brain for over a month now. After some blood tests, we have our scan. There's still a baby in there! It has a beating heart! And a stomach! And two kidneys! And a brain! And legs! And arms! The sonographer complains that it's hard to get the measurements because of all the wriggling. I am unsure what she would like me to do about this. I watch my unborn child do backflips and hit itself in the face: s/he has made me laugh for the first time. The measurements put me a few days ahead; we're actually 13 weeks, 4 days. We get our risk results back: less than 1 in 20,000 for Edward's and Patau's Syndrome. Even I cannot catastrophise that.

Day 94 (14 weeks, 1 day): We meet friends in the pub for a pre-comedy night drink. They give us a wrapped box, inside which are a pair of Peter Rabbit booties. We're (probably, hopefully) going to have a baby. With little feet. And we are going to be responsible for covering those little feet. Shit just got serious.