Well hello there, long time no see! I've got so much to tell you, most of which you will probably already know if you follow my social channels and YouTube channel; but I am having a baby!! 

As I write this I am actually 37 weeks pregnant, into month 9 and in my third and final trimester; not really sure where the time has gone! 2020 has been a pretty bad year for everyone in the world; come January 1st and we were expecting our best years yet and then March arrived with a pandemic which completely rocked the boat. We have been fortunate to have this little baby to look forward to, not only that but it's meant we've had something to keep us occupied during the darkest of times. 

Don't get me wrong, it's not been the easiest of journeys; having a baby in lockdown has been very difficult in more ways than one, albeit we haven't had a previous experience to compare it to. We found out around the four week mark and around two/three weeks into the initial lockdown, it was so so weird and had to tell our families via FaceTime which was really difficult to do. As much as its incredible we have the technology these days, missing out on the overwhelming emotions and hugs from family members and friends when we revealed the news is something we won't get to cherish. Yes, we may have the opportunity in the future and there are people who have sadly lost loved ones - nothing will ever be as hard and gut wrenching as that but as first time parents to be, we have missed out on these small things which create the biggest of memories. 

The journey health wise has been relatively ok, I've been fortunate to enjoy my pregnancy and not having anything too serious to worry about. It has had a few ups and downs which I've mentioned in my trimester updates but sadly the other side to this journey has been very hard. 

As soon as lockdown hit, hospitals limited the number of people allowed into the building - quite rightly so! I'm very much for lockdown, the rules and ensuring everyones safety comes first! However, this led to a very different pregnancy journey which a lot of families and parents to be can understand. Due to no visitors in hospital, it did result in me having to go to my 12 week and 20 week scan all on my own despite the nerves mixed with excitement it also had the overwhelming sadness of Martyn not being able to experience witnessing his child on the screen. We are very fortunate that baby is ok, but I honestly feel for those families who did not get the news that they wanted and the poor mums had to experience this all alone in a drab hospital room whilst their partner or families sit in the car or a home completely unaware of what's to come and that is not ok! 

Since the first lockdown eased, hospitals have opened up to allowing partners or one family members into the 12 and 20 week scans which is so lovely to see but also extremely difficult sat in the waiting room witnessing this knowing we will never get that experience back! For various reasons, I've had to have a couple of growth scans and guess what, partners are not allowed to go to them for some reason and it just does not make sense! 

Martyn hasn't had the opportunity to attend any midwife appointments which has resulted in him missing out on hearing baby's heartbeat each time. At my second appointment, the lovely midwife allowed me to record the heartbeat once we knew everything was ok; it was the smallest but most amazing opportunity that I will never forget. 

It doesn't just stop with the scans or appointments, there are no antenatal classes where you can meet fellow parents to be and learn more about the baby, birth and what to expect post pregnancy. When it comes to the birth itself, the birthing partners are only allowed to attend when the woman is in established labour and 3-4cm dilated. Again, I full understand that less human interaction with others means there's less of an opportunity for the virus to pass through person to person but what is a few extra hours in the hospital room going to make? They have to wear a face mask during their whole hospital stay anyway. 

There are so many women who have had to go through this and I take my hat off to them as I am so scared about what is to come. I'm not thinking about the labour part specifically, I'm thinking of where the hell the labour ward/birth centre is and I've not been notified or able to visit. How am I going to get there myself as my husband isn't allowed to take me in apparently and I am so scared of having to experience the initial stage of my pregnancy without my rock! 

I seriously hope that the government take this seriously and we do start to see some changes very soon. If you're now allowed two birthing partners then I think that your main birthing partner should be allowed to be with you for the whole of pregnancy. If anyone reading this is going through the same experience, please reach out, I am here if you need to talk or just want that extra support - we could all do with it. 

Now that I've rambled on and thrown so much negativity around, I do want to highlight some of the positives that we have been able to take out of being pregnant during a pandemic. Firstly, it has allowed me to slow down; we're all so busy these days and constantly running around doing so many different things, we don't find the time to just sit and relax. Being stuck in a lockdown and not mixing with loads of people has meant that I've been able to appreciate what my body is going through and allowing it to tell me when I need to rest. Plus not having a commute to work has come in so handy, all I need to do is walk around 10 steps from one room to another and I'm 'in the office'. 

One of the biggest saviours of this pandemic is how much I've been able to save. Financially, I don't think you're ever ready to have a baby, I was slightly concerned at how we would survive on maternity pay for nine months. But not going to work, or going out at the weekend has meant I've not forked out money on loads of little bits and bobs alongside petrol resulting in me being able to take the full nine months off and being able to feel comfortable. 

I think I've rambled on enough and you have done exceptionally well to make it this far if you have! If you're pregnant too, huge congratulations and I wish you all the very best. 

Alice xxx

My Endometriosis Story

As March is Endometriosis Awareness Month, I wanted to share my story and hopefully raise awareness over the years to ensure that diagnosis is hopefully done much sooner and people don't feel alone when suffering with the condition.

Now, as everyone with endometriosis or any other medical condition, it's not a straightforward story. Everyone's journey is very different and the symptoms they suffer can be similar but also different; for me, after finding out the diagnosis, it answered a lot of questions and made things from growing up a lot clearer.

January 2020

The start of my true journey was in January 2020; a routine out of hours doctors appointment for what I believed was a water infection and to be given antibiotics for the second time since Christmas soon led to a trip to a week of confusion, trips to the hospital and finally be given a diagnosis.

One Wednesday afternoon I started to feel queasy, I actually thought I had travel sickness, not sure why as I never suffer with this. This feeling only got stronger and stronger, then a few days later I started to feel cramping in my lower abdomen, my period wasn't due for another week. Confusing to say the least! I'd gone from taking paracetamol to ibuprofen and then nurofen and nothing would take the pain away. I even grabbed myself some cranberry juice and powder to add to drinks to help with cystitis. Annoyingly, I was meant to be going out on a works do that night but instead I ended up going home and curling into a ball in severe pain.

The next morning (Saturday), I booked in to see an out of hours doctor. He checked me thoroughly and was concerned that I had appendicitis, the doctor rang the hospital and got me a place on the ward instead of having to sit in A&E hours on end. I'm not going to lie, I started to panic but off I went.

After having my bloods taken and a urine sample tested, I was informed that everything had come back clear and to book in for an ultrasound in two days time. The pain got worse, co-codamol was next up in line to try; yeah you guessed it, it didn't work.

Monday came around and I spent the most of my day off in hospital waiting rooms; but an ultrasound and internal scan later, I was informed nothing was wrong with me and to take painkillers if I felt like the pain was unbearable. I left feeling very confused, how can I go from being informed I had an appendicitis to there was absolutely nothing wrong with me?

Fast forward a couple of days later and the pain was still there with the added sciatica down my right leg. Something didn't sit right with me and it was time I went back to the doctors, this time around I requested a female doctor as I felt like I would me more comfortable describing my issues. She was lovely, she sat and listened to me, she actually turned her chair around and looked at me whilst I was speaking and didn't type on her computer until I had finished explaining everything. I was then informed that the hospital had put endometriosis on my notes and then tell me there wasn't anything wrong with me.

She talked me through the condition, even if it didn't fully sink in and then prescribed me with some strong tablets, mefenamic acid. These aren't for everyone, before asking your doctor for these, you must sit down with them and explain your symptoms and they will tell you what will work best for you! I also had the option to be referred to a specialist, which I agreed to a few days later.

I was so lucky that I had seen a doctor who was ready to listen to me and felt like she wanted to help. Sadly, it can take up to seven years if not more to be diagnosed with the condition and I seriously put my hands up to you all who have gone that long without being listened to. You are absolute Queens!

Here's where my timeline suddenly alters.

March 2019 

The month where the symptoms hit me like a tonne of bricks and I was not ready for the physical and mental pain this would take me on.

I've always suffered with painful period pains on the day of my period, it's what I've been used to for years on end but this pain was something I've never experienced before. It may sound weird, but I could always curl up in a ball on lay on my front with my knees pulled up to my chest and managed shut off from the pain. Not this time! I was bent over double, rocking back and forth, crying my eyes out and no matter what painkiller I tried or the amount of wheat bags and hot water bottles I used, the pain would not go away. Now, I've never been in childbirth, but I honestly feel like the pain I was experiencing were that of contractions, there's no other way I can describe it. It got that bad, I was so close to calling an ambulance, the only thing that stopped me was the fact I was suffering with period pain and that's a bit pathetic really.

This went on for months, people close to me told me to ring the doctors, I just felt like I would be wasting there time so decided to monitor it. I would say nine or 10 of the last 12 months I've suffered.

However, the pain I had in January is something I've never experienced before! I wouldn't want to wish it on anybody, not even my enemy (I actually don't have any enemies.)

January - February 2020

I told you my story would be all over the place.

Following my diagnosis and speaking to those close to me, I decided it was time that I did a bit of research as I honestly didn't know anything!

The pain did fade away, I could feel a small constant rumbling but not enough to need painkillers. Lucky huh? Yeah you could say, but the queasiness returned and well, my stomach ballooned to three times the size. It was that bad I couldn't fit into any of my clothes, all I could wear for two weeks were leggings, tights where the waistband was under my stomach as let's face it, it wasn't sucking that bad boy in and baggy jumpers or oversized dresses. It was horrible!

March 2020

Here we are, back to the evening where I'm writing this blog post. Honestly, I could probably write a book on the past year; there's so much more that I want to say but I feel like this blog post is enough for starters. I'm still learning about endometriosis, but one thing I do know is that you are not alone! It may feel isolating, I can promise you that there are other women out there going through the same condition, they may not have the exact same symptoms but the same things will be going through their head.

I will continue to do blog posts on endometriosis, I don't want anyone to feel like they're alone! I am just an email or message on Twitter or Instagram away if you feel like you need someone to talk to!

Please find some useful links below if you need someone professional to talk to!

Alice xxx


Budgets, Budgets, Budgets!!

If only we all had access to a money tree in our back garden wouldn't that be pretty darn epic!

However, here we are living in reality and knowing that everyone has to budget at some point in their life, its a scary situation sometimes but we come out the other end stronger. Pretty much most things in life revolves around money; you work your butt off for however many hours a week to just have the weekends free to enjoy yourself.

As much as you don't want to think about budgets, unfortunately you need to when it comes to planning a wedding. No matter how much you earn, there's always going to be a limit of what you can afford. There's no point splashing the cash for the one day to have the most incredible 12/24 hours to then have to pay off credit card bills and debts for months on end afterwards, it isn't worth it.

Come to think of it, you don't necessarily need to be engaged to think about your finances for a wedding. Looking back, we always had a plan of when things could potentially happen (don't get me wrong the proposal was completely out of the blue) but we knew that in the next few years it was bound to happen along with buying a house etc so we knew we needed to save so much a month.

Without realising, you will be financially aware when it is the right time to plan a wedding.

The first thing you need to do is to figure out what exactly you can afford, there’s no point jumping the gun and booking an extravagant wedding if you physically cannot pay for it; do not get yourself into any debt.

Once you have a rough idea of what you would like to spend, have a look around wedding venues, this is the most vital piece of the jigsaw, without a venue you can’t really plan anything else.

I never in a million years thought that I would have a spreadsheet to work out my finances, I’ve always been that old fashioned gal who writes everything down on a notepad. I actually sit there towards the back end of every month and figure out what I have spent, write it all down and work out if I need to transfer money across into my savings. Now, I just type in a few numbers and then some miracle later it works it all out for me. Who knew that technology had the answer haha!

Budgeting is a slow and long process, it isn't going to happen over night unfortunately. This may sound super simple but you need to work out your monthly outgoings and see how much you are left with. From this figure out how much you need to live on that month and then put some money away each month into a new savings account that you know you will not touch! Do not leave yourself without where you literally cannot live or enjoy yourselves, again that one day is not worth all the stress beforehand.

From figuring out the venue, you will get a better understanding of what you require, whether it is a million decorations or just an odd few bits. From here you will have a better understanding of what else you need to budget. The biggest thing you need to remember is that shopping around is key when it comes to planning a wedding, you may think that you have discovered something at a good price, well just have a little look around and see if you can beat that. Nine times out of ten you probably can, and do not be afraid to barter, I did and I managed to save quite a bit of money.

Sit down and work out what the biggest items are you need to purchase; I'm talking about the dress, bridesmaid dresses, suits, the venue, food, drink, entertainment (DJ/Band/Singer). Once you've worked out prices on these, you can then look at decorations, the type of cake you would like, accessories for bridesmaids, bride, groomsmen and if you would like a wedding car. We chose against that as no one but me would actually see this in person as our day was all in one venue behind closed doors. The only time others would see this would be on photos and I didn't see the point in spending that much money on hiring a car when I could spend it elsewhere - on a doughnut wall! 

As you go through planning it will start to become a doddle; the biggest thing to remember is to check your finances each month! It starts becoming dangerous when you don't keep an eye on where all the money is going, you will be surprised at the small amount of money you've thrown around here and there and the likes of a guest book, extras at the venue, that one extra vase for the centre pieces etc. It will be daunting, especially as the day gets closer and the final payments for everything needs to get paid, but you will get there and if you are smart, you can do it debt free and without spending thousands. 

The final bit that's left for me to mention is that there may come a time where you need to have a slightly awkward conversation with loved ones. Some couples are lucky to receive a small contribution from family members; I bet you're thinking what's awkward about that .... well, you do need to know how much this is going to be quite early one. This comes across very ungrateful, but why put in your spreadsheet that they're going to give you £500, spend that money on something and then find out its £50 towards a deposit. You are not being ungrateful at all and they will understand, they may even feel awkward about initiating the conversation too! 

Oh, one final thing! By working out how roughly how much the wedding is going to be, it will give you a better understanding of the timeframe you need to budget and when to book that date!!! 

Good luck!!! 

Alice xxx