Pregnancy: The (Dreaded) Third Trimester

29 weeks

29 weeks

That’s it. Had enough now!

I’m almost 30 weeks, I’m big and uncomfortable, my back always hurts, I’ve got chronic heartburn, and I’m constantly physically fatigued. My breasts are swollen and so sore the slightest touch is agony, and none of my bras fit properly any more. I can’t get comfortable in bed. Standing for any length of time is getting to be impossible.

I’ve had enough.

On the bright side, so far I haven’t suffered any of the more annoying side-effects of pregnancy I did with my last one (swollen feet and hands, constant itching on my feet, etc), possibly because I was clinically obese last time and this time I’m a healthy weight.

But, oh man… it’s hard work. And Nookie has chosen this period to be as difficult as humanly possible. Honestly, I don’t know what’s come over her lately. She’s like a different child again. She has massive screaming tantrums over the smallest things almost every day. She’s back to refusing to get into her car seat when we’re out, refusing to get her nappy changed, refusing to brush her teeth… basically at the moment she will argue that up is down and the sky is pink. She will not do anything I ask of her, and constantly asks unreasonable things of me. She’s driving me crazy! So many times today I’ve ended up screaming at her. I barely get anything done through the day because if we’re not sitting in bed watching films or playing computer games all hell breaks loose. She won’t have anything to do with Hedgehog most of the time and follows me from room to room. She barely sleeps… last night she had seven hours sleep and is still awake now at 10.30pm. I just don’t get a break. She’s relentless. And when I really, desperately need a break, like this morning, she just won’t leave my side. It’s incredibly difficult.

So I’m stressed. Boy am I stressed! I haven’t felt this stressed out in a long time. This morning I was shaking and breathless I felt so agitated. I did finally manage to get an hour to myself, after Hedgehog finally managed to convince Nookie to play with him, but I spent most of that time catching up on cleaning I haven’t been able to do for days because I’ve been so busy keeping Nookie from having a meltdown. I feel physically and emotionally exhausted.

Whose bright idea was this pregnancy anyway?!

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A Week of Unschooling: Wipeout and Oranges


Nookie’s new obsession is Annoying Orange videos. Totally random and bizarre, I know. YouTube leads to so many weird and wonderful discoveries. But as always learning has happened in surprising ways and not only has her vocabulary expanded through watching them, she’s also discovered new computer games, and new shows such as Wipeout, which we now have to play at the park. Great fun. :) Here’s what else we’ve been learning/doing over the last week or so:

* Putting a white flower into food colouring to discover what will happen. Talking about how plants take in water.

* Playing in numerous parks with friends. Making new friends.

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* Visiting a dinosaur exhibition with Nannie.

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* Visiting an armouries museum where we learned about armour and battles.

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* Watching Halloween make-up tutorials on YouTube. Learning how to make fake wounds.

* Watching the Scooby Doo movie “Where’s My Mummy” and talking about ancient Egypt and pyramids. Playing at being Cleopatra.

* Practising her own make-up in front of the mirror.

* Watching a YouTube video with a toy dinosaur egg with a dinosaur that grows and finally hatches when you put it into water. Finding first a toy alien that does the same, and then a dinosaur egg (at the exhibition). Experimenting with putting them in, then taking them out of water to watch the growth/shrinkage.

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* Learning about measurements by measuring how much the dinosaur toy has grown over a period of time. Playing with rulers and weighing scales.

* Playing Wipeout on the climbing frames at the park after watching videos of it. Timing her on the same run to see if she can beat her score.

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* Playing “surprise eggs” by hiding small toys inside play-doh for Nookie to dig out. Pretending to be making a video of the process (like the ones on YouTube).

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* Playing with her dolls house, pirate ships and Scooby Doo characters.

* Having a go on pedalos on a lake for the first ever time. Learning what a life jacket is and why we need to wear one when on water.

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* Adding bicarbonate of soda to vinegar and trying to inflate a balloon with the resulting gas.

* Playing snakes and ladders and other simple board games. Having a go at playing Battle Ships (and not really getting it yet).

* Playing mini-golf at a park.

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* Making “butterfly” pictures with paint and folded paper.

* Playing some new computer games online and on my phone: Happy Wheels, Splatter Up and Temple Run 2.

* Digging up our vegetables from the garden and helping me to prepare and cook them.

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Home-Ed Camp


Nookie and I just got back from the most amazing week at our first ever home-education camp. It was a first-time event organised by a member of our local home-education group at a nearby Scout camp. Going at all was a last-minute decision. When she first put the tickets on sale we couldn’t afford them, and they sold out quickly. But last week I thought, what the hell, and emailed her to see if there happened to be any remaining tickets. Luckily for me there had been a couple of cancellations, and there were a handful of tickets available. Yay!

The camp was Monday-Friday. Camping at nearly six months pregnant for four nights was a little daunting, but lots of my friends were going and I knew it’d be okay. And, oh my what a place! It was like a paradise. Completely secluded countryside surrounded by woods. Open fields galore. Trees for climbing. Hills for rolling down. It was a truly beautiful place.

Unfortunately, all wasn’t plain-sailing. A few hours into our first day I went over on my ankle (the ground was VERY uneven and covered in a thick layer of dry mown grass). It hurt a little at the time but I carried on walking and running with Nookie, climbing and exploring. But as the day wore on my ankle and foot started to hurt more and more to the point where I could barely walk. I struggled on but remaining at camp was starting to look increasingly impossible. The final straw came when I hobbled down to the Scout Hut on Monday evening to collect my mobile phone where it had been charging (a walk down a steep grassy hill). It took me a long time to make the walk and by the time I reached the bottom I was on the verge of crying in pain. I couldn’t believe how much it hurt! I rang Hedgehog and reluctantly asked him to come and collect us. Soon after the first-aider arrived (fetched by my friend Anna) and checked my foot… he agreed with me that it probably wasn’t broken, but was at least sprained and that I should rest my foot on ice.

So Hedgehog arrived and I sat in the car on the verge of tears while he and my friends packed up our stuff. Nookie was very disappointed. I had to borrow Hedgehog’s crutches to get into and around the house. At this point I couldn’t put weight on my foot at all without extreme pain. Once Nookie was in bed I cried my eyes out to Hedgehog. I was gutted. In the morning, despite my best hopes, my foot still really hurt. I tried to walk on it but it was just so painful I had to continue with the crutches. So Nookie and I spent the morning laying in bed watching films and feeling sorry for ourselves. She stood on my foot a few times climbing around the bed (ouch!), and I don’t know if that’s what did it. But by lunch time I had had enough and determined to at least get up and get dressed! And to my amazement, suddenly I could walk on my foot! It hurt, but the pain was bearable. I managed to walk around on it for a while, sit down on the floor playing with Nookie, and then I decided it was okay enough to at least try returning to camp. So we did! We went back for the day, which was fine, and on Wednesday we stayed overnight for the remainder of the camp. (My foot is now totally healed… bizarre!).

As for the camp, it was amazing. I’ve never in my life experienced such community. This was a place where you could leave your mobile phone, or laptop, charging in the shared space of the Scout hut and know no one would touch it. Where toddlers ran around naked and no one batted an eyelid. Where four year olds and ten year olds went running off into the woods together to climb trees and play games and everyone was fine with it. Nookie frequently took herself off to the Scout hut with other children, and while I soon followed after to keep half an eye on her, I knew that the only danger she faced was the vague possibility of getting herself lost if she ventured too far into the woods. As it was, she knew her way around camp very well and didn’t get lost once. It was about as safe and free a place as you could possibly get. I heard one of the parents describe it as paradise, and I agree.

The weather was glorious. The kids got to make fire and charcoal and use sharp tools with minimal supervision and maximum trust. They were free to climb trees and roll down the hill in a wheelbarrow with parents just keeping a quiet eye on things to make sure nothing truly dangerous was happening. The kids were trusted. And it showed. They were all brilliant, helpful, polite kids. The parents were relaxed. Breastfeeding mothers were everywhere. Baby-wearing fathers supervised games. People helped out with other parents’ children while they worked in the kitchen or organised activities. Everyone was friendly and more than willing to strike up a conversation or empathise with a distressed child. I really wish all of life was like that. I’d spend my life living in a tent to experience that sort of community permanently!

I was a little sad to return back to real life. And I think we all hope there’s another one next year. I don’t care that I’ll have a baby to look after then too. Within that community I know I’d manage just fine!

Still setting up

Still setting up

Exploring the woods

Exploring the woods

Being a tree

Being a tree

We did lots of tree climbing

We did lots of tree climbing

Naked tree climbing!

Naked tree climbing!

VERY high tree climbing. She's a pro!

VERY high tree climbing. She’s a pro!

Colouring rocks with charcoal

Colouring rocks with charcoal

Making medals

Making medals

Ta da!

Ta da!

Filthy... as kids should be!

Filthy… as kids should be!

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Naked hula-hooping

Naked hula-hooping

Having fun in the woods

Having fun in the woods

Climbing around the fire pit

Climbing around the fire pit

Wee!!

Wee!!

Bouncy castle!

Bouncy castle!

Spider-girl!

Spider-girl!

Raar!

Raar!

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Unschooling Themes: Emergencies and First Aid


So for a while I’d been wondering whether unschooling was going wrong somewhere for us. Nookie had gone quite a while without seeming to really latch on to a subject and learn about it. Yes, she was learning here and there, but whereas before she has really gotten into a theme and followed it (human anatomy, old-fashioned short films, etc), lately she didn’t really seem to show interest in anything specific. I wasn’t too worried, just wondering how to pique her interest.

As usual learning tends to happen in the most unusual and unexpected places. This time it was from computer games. For a while she has enjoyed playing these little flash games online (or rather, watching me play them and sometimes joining in or telling me what to do – she can’t yet operate a mouse). It started off with CBeebies games and moved on to other cartoon games. Eventually she stumbled on these surgery games. They’re great. You get to perform a virtual operation… stomach operations to remove a swallowed object, fitting a pacemaker, etc. They’re quite accurate and detailed and really fed into her fascination with human biology. We spent hours playing them.

Then, as usually happens, one link led to another and we found ourselves playing some first aid games. A little toddler injures himself somehow and you have to administer first aid, perform CPR, etc. They’re not that accurate in some ways, and some of the advice in the games is definitely not recommended medical advice, but I’m not sure how much that matters. In the space of two days Nookie has learned how to call for an ambulance, what CPR is and (sort of) how to perform it, how to treat a burn (and how not to), how dangerous water near electricity is, what a stroke is, and numerous other things. And since then we’ve played emergencies with her teddies and her toy medical kit and we’ve gone into more detail about what to say to an emergency operator if you have to call 999, what an address is, etc. And suddenly she’s absorbed in a learning subject again and soaking up knowledge. And it all started with “silly” computer games. The internet really is such an amazing learning resource.

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This Pregnancy: Half Way There


I haven’t blogged much lately. I’ve been very busy with lots of things. My life has been crazy hectic over the last few weeks. Hedgehog had yet another operation on his stomach, to repair no less than FIVE hernias, a few weeks ago, and I’ve been his full-time carer since then. It’s been very tough at times, for all of us. He’s slowly recovering, but it’s a slow process. Gradually life is getting a little easier.

Nookie has broken her months-long spell of being really perfectly easy… she’s still a little darling, but there have been some trying times over the last week or so. She’s been quite hard work. I’m sure she’s responding to the increased stress in the household as she always does, coupled with a stressed-out, hormonal mother who hasn’t always had the time for her. Things will improve again soon, I’m sure. On top of that, she’s cut out naps virtually completely now, but is now generally awake from 8am until after 10pm every day. I’m rarely getting any time to myself, and 14-15 hours straight of being mummy is really taking its toll on my sanity. I fall in to bed at night and am in deep sleep immediately, not rousing until the early hours when my pregnant-woman bladder starts shouting at me!

As for this pregnancy, so far so good. My 20 week scan is in a week or so. But in the last fortnight I’ve seen a cardiologist, had an ECG, an echocardiogram, and a foetel echocardiogram (I was born with a hole in my heart which was repaired when I was Nookie’s age, so the obstetricians are always very concerned about my heart and the baby’s heart. I also have a heart murmur.) They’ve all been normal. I’m sure in the next week or so I’ll be discharged from the care of the obstetricians and cardiologist and just be under the care of the midwife (as happened when I was pregnant with Nookie).

Health-wise, I’m good. I have so much energy it’s unbelievable. I’ve cleaned the house from top to bottom over the last couple of weeks. I just can’t seem to stop. Maybe it’s because I remember the discomfort and difficulty of the last trimester and subconsciously want to do as much as I can now. I’m very enthusiastic about this pregnancy. When I was pregnant with Nookie, although I had this innate feeling that everything would just be okay, I was still under the dark cloud of miscarriage, and never really enjoyed any of it. This time I’m savouring every moment (though I can’t believe I’m already half way there!). I’m really trying to connect with this baby… allowing my mood swings to just be; eating what my body is telling me it needs; taking time to listen to my body. Nookie and I talk to the baby and wonder about what it’s doing in there.

I’m embracing my pregnant body in a way I never did last time. Last time around I hated being pregnant… the restrictions placed on me; the way my body was changing. This time I’m learning to love it. My boobs look amazing. I’m managing to keep my weight down. Yeh, the way my clothes are becoming increasingly uncomfortable is irritating, but I’m trying not to dwell on that and just wear the things that make me feel comfortable. I’m accepting my changing shape and remembering that pregnancy is beautiful. Truly beautiful.

I’m also doing some serious preparation for childbirth this time around. I still can’t believe how ignorant I was when I laboured with Nookie. This time will be soooo much different. I’m currently reading Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth and loving it. I plan to read-up on hypnobirthing and perhaps attend a natural childbirth class. I’ll be making it very clear to my midwife (when I eventually meet my actual midwife!) what sort of birth I plan on having. I wish I could afford to hire an independent midwife, or even a doula, but unfortunately neither of those are an option. I’ll just have to make it very clear to my NHS midwife what I expect, and be ready to be assertive. This time around I want to FEEL my labour. I want to feel powerful and in control, not completely lost and powerless.

So, yeh… it’s all going good.

20 weeks pregnant

20 weeks pregnant

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