30 Week pregnancy update and things I couldn’t do without!

I am now 30 weeks pregnant! That is almost 7 months – wow, I can’t believe it, and I am so grateful to say that I  have had a healthy pregnancy thus far.

30 weeks

Obviously I have had the usual ‘pregnancy ailments’ including nausea in the first trimester, and a large helping of HEARTBURN which began midway through the second trimester, and is showing no signs of stopping now I have reached the third! I am starting to feel more tired, and a tad more hormonal these days! Things like putting socks on and bending over to retrieve Ella’s bloody ball from under the sofa are becoming more challenging, as my bump gets in the way!

My absolute favourite part so far has been feeling and seeing my baby move and kick inside me. It is such a miracle to think he is in there kicking and swishing about. I have also loved picking out baby furniture and all the bits and bobs that are needed. I have had some great advice from friends who are already parents on what to buy – i.e. what is essential and what can be a bit of a waste of money. So thank you so much to those people!

When it comes to getting through the weeks and looking after myself there are some things that have really helped me. They include:

Snacks! – more so in the first trimester, but carb-heavy snacks were a lifesaver to me when the nausea struck. Ready salted crisps, plain bread and rich tea biscuits were must haves. Plain food in general is more my thing at the moment – which isn’t like me at all! Anything that doesn’t cause heartburn (theres not a lot) is good too!

Lots of water – still and sparkling. Staying hydrated just helps everything in general and the sparkling was good for when I felt sick!

Baths – I have never had so many in my life! Lying in the bath reading or having a good WhatsApp convo with friends is a great way to relax.

Support from my husband, friends and family – everyone has been great, giving me insights and information, letting me moan, looking after me and also keeping things light with funny pregnancy chats. Really grateful and hoping I can return the favour sometime (can someone else in my circle of friends please have a baby soon? thank you).

Google – it seems you can Google literally anything pregnancy related, no matter how specific, and some type of information will come up. There is so much useful information online and lots of great blogs and  forums which are brilliant for reminding you that we pregnant people are all in the same (or similar) boat!

Comfy clothes – overall I have found maternity clothing ranges very disappointing. There isn’t much choice and lots of it is only available online which makes trying before you buy very difficult! The fact that you are continually getting larger and changing shape makes it a bit trickier too! I have bought quite a few maternity items, but I have also been buying normal clothes in 1 or 2 sizes larger than normal, as well as gravitating towards all types of comfy clothes! I just refuse to wear anything uncomfortable these days! Maternity work trousers are still a mystery to me! I don’t think comfortable, flattering ones exist! I got a pair from ASOS the other day and they were like pyjama bottoms! Nice and comfy but not very smart looking! Think I will stick to legging and long tops, and dresses with tights. Comfort is key but it boosts my self esteem to wear smart/dressy/flattering outfits at the same time!

Dermol lotion – a mild lotion for eczema sufferers like me – this has been what I have mainly used to moisturise my bump to (hopefully) ward off any stretch marks.

Bio Oil – although a bit strong for me to apply every day, it does feel nice and nourishing and I have been using it every few days on the expanding areas!

Excitement about what’s ahead – I know it will be hard, but it will also be AMAZING! I think focusing on the positives is best and I cannot wait to meet my little boy and see our next chapter in life unfold.

Love, Laurel

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Second trimester – definitely a lot easier!

Hello! Happy New Year! Hope you had a brilliant Christmas and have great plans for 2015.

I am now nearing the end of my second trimester – wow where did that time go? The weeks seem to be flying by, and I can’t believe I am now 27 weeks pregnant.

This is me on Christmas Eve at 26 weeks.

26 weeks pregnant

On the whole, I have been extremely fortunate to pretty much feel fine for weeks now! Everything that people say about the second trimester seemed to come true for me – the sickness eventually cleared up around 17 weeks, and I got my energy back and my head seemed to get rid of that dozy feeling! I don’t deal that well with change so I think the fact that I started to ‘adjust’ and get used to actually being pregnant probably helped a lot too.

During the past 3 months or so I have really enjoyed my pregnancy and all that goes with it. I do miss certain things obviously but there’s plenty of time for that afterwards! All my friends and family have been really kind and supportive and I love talking about with anyone who will listen haha!

The hospital we are with do not disclose the sex of the baby so we went for a private gender scan through Babybond. I would highly recommend! We did it at 19 weeks and got a great view of our little baby and the sonographer was so lovely. There was a big screen right in front of the bed which was great for me, rather than having to crane my neck to the side as in the hospital. We also got a free 4D preview which was really cool – we were just amazed to see our baby’s little face! It was unbelievable and we thanked the sonographer about a million times :). But what about the most important part??? We found out that……

IT’S A BOY!

We both had a gut feeling he would be a boy and were so happy to find out the sex. Not that it mattered either way; we just both felt that finding out the sex made it all the more real and gave our little one an indentity from then on. Obviously it’s a personal choice whether to find out the sex but I am so glad we did.

At 21 weeks we went for the Anomaly Scan at the hospital and all was well – we are so thankful!

Since then all has been going smoothly, fingers crossed it stays that way. We had a lovely Christmas and have now started to prepare for baby boy’s arrival – it’s a minefield of options! Any recommendations/do’s/don’t’s are very welcome!

Love, Laurel

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The First Twelve Weeks

The First Twelve Weeks

I found out I was pregnant when I was just over 4 weeks. So it seemed like a LONG time before we reached that 12 week stage everyone talks about. We were just so happy and elated to find out we were having a baby and it was all so new and amazing in those first few weeks. I started noticing symptoms straight away which I found exciting at first, but then not so enjoyable as time went on!

I think from around 6 weeks onwards I felt pretty exhausted on and off, not constantly thankfully. I also noticed an increased sense of smell and certain things were completely repulsive to me! Such as strong food smells and strong aftershave and perfume.

Around 7 weeks the nausea started – this I was not prepared for. I foolishly thought I might be one of the lucky ones who doesn’t really get morning sickness, as I generally have a pretty strong stomach. However, when I asked my mum about her three pregnancies, the first thing she has always said is how sick and nauseous she was so I should have known. I think only very lucky people get away with no or minimal nausea! Mine involved feeling sick pretty much all day for about 5 or 6 weeks, and actually being sick most mornings. My husband started making me toast to eat in the car on the way to work to combat the car sickness which seemed to help. I stuck to mainly plain foods (not like me) which meant most of our dinner options went out the window! I also tried travel bands, don’t think they did much. I found that eating small amounts very regularly made the nausea manageable during the day and salty snacks were my food of choice! Crisps, crackers, cheese triangles etc! Dry cereal was also good and I ate strawberries and grapes as snacks and drank cranberry juice to make sure I was getting some vitamins! A lot of times I wasn’t remotely hungry but forced myself to eat as that helped the nausea – weird isn’t it?

As the weeks went on the nausea continued and I also felt pretty exhausted after each work day – so I’d just come home every night and lie on the sofa and achieve nothing! I noticed that my emotions were heightened and I could cry at the drop of a hat at anything happy or sad on TV!

Other things which helped me along the way were baths, lots of TV, listening to old CDs (Take That and Westlife lol), and a nice relaxing weekend in Ballycastle with plenty of fresh air (I am turning into my mum, it’s official).

Our 12 week scan finally came around and it was amazing, worth everything ten times over as we heard our baby’s heartbeat and saw the scan. It took until about 14 or 15 weeks for the nausea to reduce considerably and my energy levels to return to ‘semi’ normal. I am now 19 weeks and generally feel pretty good! I still feel a bit sick in the mornings and am pretty tired, but am so happy to be past the first trimester and am keeping my fingers crossed everything goes well for the remainder of my pregnancy.

How were the First Twelve Weeks for you?

Love, Laurel

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What’s new with me…a special announcement!

So I am slacking again with blog posts again! I feel guilty as I have really enjoyed posting almost twice a week for a good part of this year.

However I am very happy to say there is a reason for my absence – I am expecting a baby! I am four months pregnant now and my husband and I are extremely excited and feel very fortunate and grateful.

Here’s how we announced our news:

Pregnancy Annoucement

And here’s how we got Ella to stay like that while we took the picture:

Bichon Frise

The reason I haven’t felt much like blogging is because that old first trimester was a lot tougher than I expected! I don’t think I was prepared for the onslaught of symptoms, along with keeping things a secret and ‘acting normal’ and still doing everything I usually did (I’m talking about work mainly!).

So a lot of slobbing around has been done in the evenings and weekends and I have done more than my fair share of moaning! But I am feeling a good bit better and more like myself now though thankfully. My husband is very glad too! I am grateful for all his help so far  including breakfast in bed every morning.

We are very excited for April 2015!

Love, Laurel

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Coffee and Walnut Cupcakes

Well hello! This is my first post in ages, I had a completely blog free September :( I hope to start posting more regularly again, and thought I would get back into it with some baking, so I made Coffee and Walnut Cupcakes. I have never baked cupcakes before but I’ve made plenty of cakes, and one of my favourites is my Mum’s Coffee and Walnut cake, so I thought I’d give cupcakes a go in that flavour!

Coffee and Walnut Cupcakes

Ingredients

For the cupcakes (makes 12)

  • 25ml strong instant coffee
  • 125g butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 150g self raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 75g walnuts, finely chopped

For the frosting

  • 80g butter
  • 10ml strong instant coffee
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 12 walnut halves

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees celcius
  2. Make the instant coffee and leave to cool
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar
  4. Beat the eggs with the vanilla and pour them gradually into the butter and sugar, mixing until everything is combined.
  5. Stir through the cooled coffee
  6. Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl, and then fold in until combined. Then mix in the chopped walnuts.
  7. Spoon the mixture equally into cupcake cases and bake for around 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  8. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. To make the frosting: beat the butter until light and fluffy. Slowly add the remaining coffee, and then gradually sift in the icing sugar until the frosting reaches your desired consistency.
  10. Spread or pipe it onto the surface of each cake and top with a half a walnut for decoration.

Coffee and Walnut Cupcakes

Coffee and Walnut Cupcakes

The coffee flavour is nice and subtle in both the sponge and the frosting but still definitely there. The cupcakes aren’t huge – just the right size I think! They were very easy to make and are great for these autumnal and rainy days.

Love, Laurel

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Five Latest Loves #7 – GBBO, Make Up and Flip Flops included!

Summer is drawing to a close and there is a definite chill in the air. I am hoping for a hot September though – that would make up for a below par August we have just had. Although I love summer, Autumn does have it’s benefits, and I am quite looking forward to cosy nights in and the start of X Factor! I still love it!

Here’s my Five Latest Loves for this week!

The Great British Bake Off

Not very original I know. Like millions of others, I have watched every series of Bake Off and always look forward to it coming back on. Wednesday night’s episode was surprisingly dramatic, and the only Northern Irish contestant was sent home under controversial circumstances! I personally felt a bit sorry for Iain but when I checked it out on Twitter, Sue Perkins had commented that the show had been edited slightly to make it appear that Iain’s ice cream was out of the freezer for ages, when in fact it was about 40 seconds. Good TV though. I think I want Richard to win, but I do love Norman!

Great British Bake Off

Real Techniques Expert Face Brush

I have been using this brush for a few days now to apply my foundation, and so far I love it! It’s a really firm and dense brush and is excellent for blending cream or liquid foundation evenly. I am a big fan and am glad I have made the switch from sponge to brush. I also love the Real Techniques Blush Brush – such good quality and brilliant for building up colour and blending.

Real Techniques Expert Face Brush

iPANEMA Flip Flops

I was kindly sent these lovely white flip flops by iPANEMA in Beach White last week. Unfortunately the weather here in Northern Ireland hasn’t been the greatest for the past few weeks, and I don’t have any more holidays abroad planned, so instead I have been wearing these incredibly comfortable flip flops around the house, as it’s still not quite cold enough for slippers! They are so soft and spongy to wear and sort of mould to my feet when I put them on. They seem really durable so will I will definitely be bringing them on my next beach holiday! iPANEMA currently have a great range to choose from if you fancy checking it out! Size wise I got a size bigger than normal as I always find flip flops slightly smaller than other shoes. Mine are a size 5.

iPANEMA Flip Flops

Max Factor Masterpiece Max Mascara

This isn’t really a latest love, as I’ve used it for years, but when my last tube ran out I bought a different brand, and it just didn’t match up. So I’m back on this excellent product from Max Factor in Brown/Black. It lengthens and thickens my lashes and NEVER clumps no matter how much I apply. It is honestly the best mascara I have ever used. Highly recommended!

Max Factor Masterpiece Max Mascara

Family get-togethers

I am spending this weekend in Ballycastle (again) with my extended family to celebrate my Uncle’s 50th Birthday. I love it when we all get together and really enjoy catching up with everyone. There is always loads of food so I’m looking forward to that too!

http://www.laurelloves.com/2014/04/easter-north-coast/

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Love, Laurel

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Tollymore Forest Park, Northern Ireland

Last Sunday my family and I spent the day at Tollymore Forest Park, which is located near Newcastle, County Down. It’s about a 40 minute drive from Belfast.

Tollymore Forest Park

The scenery is gorgeous and we had a great day walking around the park enjoying the views. If you are ever visiting Northern Ireland, I would recommend coming here! Also nearby is Castlewellan Forest Park, and of course the Mourne Mountains. There are camping facilities at Tollymore and some of Game of Thrones was filmed here!

Tollymore Forest Park

Tollymore Forest Park

Tollymore Forest Park

Tollymore Forest Park

We visited Tollymore as part of my parents’ 30th wedding anniversary celebrations, as a walk in the countryside is genuinely their favourite thing to do!

Tollymore Forest Park

This Sunday however, involves gardening, housework and a bit of DIY – not very exciting! Roast dinner time later though, and no work tomorrow, woohoo!!

Hope you are having a good weekend.

Love, Laurel

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