As a Briston-Hill household, Halloween is one of our favourite times of year – mostly helped by the fact that Eli is in a permanent state of “goth”, so of course its his annual time to shine!
Outdoor Trick or Treating is off the agenda this year (damn you Covid), so I’ve been looking at alternative fun festivities for the family. SELFRIDGES in both Manchester (Exchange Square and Trafford Centre) always host great events and as usual, are your one-stop shop with a perfect selection of spooky themed gifts, confectionary from brands such as Ask Mummy & Daddy and Jelly Belly and all the decorations you can shake a witches-broom at. Oh and I must mention that SELFRIDGES also has everything for you to eat, drink and be scary this October to boot too.
Gather the family and head to the much-loved Laudurée Cafe in Selfridges Exchange Square to check out their limited edition Halloween Macarons, served in a glow in the dark box! What’s more, Laudurée will be giving a FREE macaron to any child in fancy dress on Saturday 31st October, simply head to the counter and enjoy!*
As Greater Manchester is (at time of posting) in Tier 3, the following in-store events are all compliant with current government guidelines and measures have been taken to help minimise the risk of coronavirus, in line with guidance from Public Health England and the relevant authorities. As such the wearing of a face covering is compulsory when visiting the stores and customers should only shop in a group from one household or support bubble.
About // Get hunting this Halloween with Selfridges’ Pumpkin Hunt, a perfect activity for all the family to enjoy. Receive a complimentary treat once you have found all the pumpkins and returned your competition card to our Host!
Can’t make it to an in-store event in Manchester? No problem – here is my Halloween Top Ten from Selfridges.com!
For more Halloween gifting and decor inspiration, head to Selfridges.com
Whatever you get up to this Halloween, enjoy yourselves, stay spooky and stay safe!
*Limited to one macaron per child. Redeemable at Selfridges Exchange Square only, for the first 100 children in store.
For clarity, I was kindly #giftedall products that are highlighted in this post above, on behalf of Selfridges Manchester.
This is not a sponsored or paid post and I was not obliged to write this blog post or link back the Selfridges website; though this post may contain affiliate links that earn me a tiny commission. I only shout about items that I genuinely believe in, so be safe in the knowledge that I’m a big fan of Selfridges – both their in-store activities and online offering.
We bought this “Born in 2019” body suit ahead of Edie arriving. In fact, it was the very first item of baby clothing I did buy. I’m not keen on kids clothing, adorned with cartoons and the like. We prefer to keep slogans understated and to a minimum – so this baby grow celebrating Edie’s year of birth was spot on!
Part of the H&M CONSCIOUS collection, this body suit was just £3.99 and will make for a lovely memento. The actual body suit on its own has now sold out, but you can buy a similar body suit as part of a cute 3-piece set:
CONSCIOUS. Long-sleeved bodysuit, a pair of trousers and accessory in soft organic cotton jersey. Bodysuit with press-studs at the crotch. Trousers with wide fold-over ribbing at the waist.
If you’re looking for a gift for a newborn, this would be perfect.
Edie has worn this body suit a few times – it works well with those comfy little leggings and with a pair of dungarees too. We have this one, also from the H&M CONSCIOUS collection, in a few colours. Above, Edie is wearing the Dark Grey version.
A few weeks back we had our 20 week scan and we’re ridiculously excited to say, we’re having a baby GIRL! 🖤🖤🖤
An ACTUAL baby girl! ⚡️🖤✌️
I’m almost 23 weeks pregnant now and still feeling waves of disbelief that I have a little girl growing super well inside me. But believe me when I say, we would have been happy either way. Especially considering how long it’s taken to get to this point – a healthy baby is all we wish for.
Eli has been desperate for a sibling for as long as I can remember now and he will be the BEST Big Bro, we just know it. He reckons his little sister is going to be “annoying” but we know he’s happy deep down 😂 Oh and he refused to have his photo taken with the scan of his little sister (!!!) because he was down with the pox 🙈
I always vowed that if we had a girl, I wouldn’t be into dressing her in all that pink stuff! Well, when I said that, I might have been lying because so far, all I have bought is PINK! Ha. It’s all just too cute though man!
The pictured Big Bro Tee is from the gorgeous @lennieandco; which we bought it ahead of our last pregnancy in 2017. It’s been sat in Eli’s wardrobe, waiting for a happy baby announcement since. Incidentally, the 20 week scan that we had, was originally scheduled to be Friday 15th March – which was our due date for my second pregnancy. It would have could have been a 1st birthday for that pregnancy🌈 I had to get the date changed. It just didn’t seem ‘right’. It all feels a little bit happy sad🖤
Stay soft. Stay brave. Stay fierce. Stay kind. Stay curious. Stay honest. Keep supporting your peers, your family, your friends & strangers, who happen to be WOMEN. Oh and just love with your whole heart, you wonder WOMAN 🖤
These words, by Elizabeth Gilbert, resonated with me⤵️
“The women I love and admire for their strength and grace did not get that way because shit worked out. They got that way because shit went wrong and they handled it. They handled it a thousand different ways on a thousand different days, but they handled it. Those women are my superheroes”.
BTW – I’m all for equality and you’ll usually find me defending men, actually. “But how is that fair when a man isn’t able to get involved too?”. For today, today, let’s just celebrate the WOMAN and her achievements, yes? ✌🏼✌🏿✌🏾✌🏽✌🏼✌️
(If this is your first time here on my blog, HELLO! I had a miscarriage in August 2017. It wasn’t ‘over’ until the ERPC in October 2017.. This is a lengthy post – as always, I am sharing our experience as a means to continue the conversation of trying again after loss).
OK, I’ll start from the very beginning…
A year ago (January 2018), I stopped drinking. I started taking the recommended dose of Folic Acid and additionally, Vitamin B12. (Just incase). The “better” eating happened. Then when we moved to Manchester in May, I began the exercise – cycling to school and back twice a day was also helping my mood! I’d been on the pill for a few months post-miscarriage to get my periods back into a regular routine, but came off them at the start of 2018. Every single person you speak to regarding your miscarriage will tell you, “you’re most fertile after having a miscarriage… you’ll fall again quickly”.
We decided that we weren’t going to look at fertile days, or take ‘trying’ too seriously. After my Miscarriage, I didn’t want ANY added stress or pressure. We wanted it to happen on our own terms… after all, “you’ll be amazingly fertile after a miscarriage“.
But after our trip to Florida in June, I started to get a bit anxious about trying again and opened up my FLO app to begin tracking my periods, mood, health and everything in-between. From then on, we began trying on the most fertile days of the month.
September came and I still hadn’t fallen. Now, I understand that this really isn’t a long time, compared to other couples who try and try and try for years. But I’d fallen pregnant with my first two pregnancies within 3 months of trying. Granted, I was a lot older now – but I am only 32 still. Not exactly elderly! I lost a little weight and continued cycling and enjoying walks in the great outdoors (thanks to our new National Trust membership!). I knew fine well that out of every 100 couples trying for a baby, 80 to 90 will get pregnant within 1 year. The rest will take longer, or may need help to conceive. But at the back of my mind, the whole “shouldn’t you be mega fertile now?” voices were constantly trolling at me and I couldn’t help but worry that something else was going on in my body, that:-
I had no control over (ie, my Endometriosis or something more sinister…
Something had ‘broken’ during my ERPC procedure that had left me with some kind of scarring…
Or worse, had everything actually ‘come away’ following the ERPC operation?
So, September onwards, we began tracking my ovulation and BBT (Basal Body Temperature). I bought a few packs of the ‘cheapie’ ovulation kits by One Step and the results were so interesting – see below:
The only problem with tracking your Ovulation is that, your day begins by thinking about your fertility… This meant, I couldn’t really escape my own pressures of falling pregnant. It was alllll I could think about. To the extend that I began to distance myself from outside of this little bubble. You can clearly see where I began a minor social media hiatus!
I was tracking everything via the app. Every little niggle! You track so much and think about it so much, that your body eventually convinces you that you’re pregnant. (Hence the early testing in September and November). But when you’re tracking everything, you’re reminded every month when you’re bloody period arrives that you’ve failed again this month. It’s the most heartbreaking few days – every time you go to the loo and get that little reminder that your body wasn’t up for fertilisation. To top it off, we had Eli listening to my tummy to check if a baby was in there… he’s been desperate for a sibling for as long as I can remember now.
On Thursday 15th November, I was making Eli an outfit for BBC Children in Need. Looking back at my tracking, I’d had a few ‘off days’ . I’d had period type cramps and felt so light-headed. I wasn’t due on my period for another week but thought I could be coming on early. Then on the evening as I was finishing sewing, I managed to stab my hand with a pair of exceptionally sharp fabric scissors. Normally, I’d be fine and get a plaster. Blood does not bother me, heck, once you’ve watched 24 Hours in A&E, you can muster pretty much all of the blood. The DRAMATIC scenes that ensued are frankly, pure comedy. I was freaking out so much. I had to lay on the bathroom floor for fear of passing out. Never, have a I ever been like that.
The next day I went to the GP to see if I could get a Tetanus injection – just incase I was pregnant. I didn’t want to get an infection. Luckily, it turns out I was up to date. Phew.
Something still didn’t sit right with me about the way I had so ridiculously overreacted the night before. So at lunchtime, I went upstairs and did a quick One Step pregnancy test. I was 99% certain it would be negative as I’d had the cramping… it was also the very first time I’d ever done a test without James by my side.
I couldn’t believe my eyes as the second line appeared in 2 1/2 minutes. Again, I nearly passed out and laid on the sofa to compose myself. I thought I better ring James. I thought he’d go mad with me for doing the test without him…. I’d kind of played it cool on the phone. I’d convinced myself that the cheap test couldn’t POSSIBLY be correct. And 5 whole days before my period was due?!
I convinced myself it was a false positive. It HAD to be, right?
At school home-time I told Eli we needed to pop to the chemist to get something for my tummy… he immediately said “Why, is there a baby in there now?!”. “I really hope so darling”, I responded.
I got 4 of the Superdrug own pregnancy tests – the same ones we’d bought when we fell with Eli. So I had some trust in them. I’d used a variety when I fell pregnant in 2017 and going back to the Superdrug own brand tests made me feel a bit safer, weirdly.
I waited on tenterhooks for James to get home from work – and with an evening urine sample, the results were… (see below)
The second line was so faint, I couldn’t see it and had to put the picture under all of the filters on photoshop to see it. But, as I said when I fell with Eli, you can’t be a little bit pregnant, can you!?
We told Eli our news immediately. We wanted to be open and honest with him – especially as he had seen me go through our miscarriage. We told him that we would tell all our family and friends at Christmastime as a present! (And you can’t tell anyone when its a present, can you!?) HOW Eli managed to not tell anyone before Christmas, I will never know. But that kid man, he is just a total boss.
Speaking of which, I went on Timehop and we realised that we’d done our first pregnancy test with Eli on the SAME weekend – 18th November 2011. Strange; we must have conceived this baba around the same time as we conceived Eli.
Over the next few days, POW, the pregnancy symptoms came in thick and fast.I felt so sick. I was so tired. And continued to track pregnancy tests and my symptoms – just incase.
I had every single pregnancy symptom going; and then-some.
My skin burst into the worst cystic acne ever. Mostly on my lower cheeks and jawline.
‘Morning Sickness’ – except, it’s not just the morning, is it. It’s ALL DAY and ALL EVENING.
The Exhaustion – I was falling asleep after dropping Eli off at school and then again straight after tea.
Extreme bloating – by 7pm, I was looking mega preggo.
Food aversions – the smell of cooking is just the WORST. Couldn’t face meat. Couldn’t face big meals. Ended up surviving on plain boiled rice and rice cakes. Good job I was taking ALL of the pregnancy vitamins by this point.
Couldn’t face Tea or Coffee (still can’t do my beloved (now decaf) Coffee, even the smell is nauseating).
Brushing my teeth became the enemy – every single time I’d bork.
Sheer, unadulterated, brain fog – not being able to articulate what you want to talk about or not being able to remember why you entered a room; or even why the kettle is in the fridge is somewhat frustrating and also kinda scary.
Increased thirst – which is quite something for me as I’m always guzzling water as it is!
Extreme Overheating – I had repeated ‘hot flashes’ that made me feel so faint. Luckily, touch wood, I’ve not fainted.
A weird one now – an version to LEGO. ACTUAL LEGO. It wasn’t that I had a want to eat it or anything, but the sight of Lego made me so, so nauseous! I had to have Eli pack it all away and not play with it in front of me. SO WEIRD. I have no idea what caused it or why. But 5 weeks on, I’m finally becoming ok with the Lego being around again.
By 10th December, we were being seen at the Early Pregnancy Unit in Stepping Hill Hospital for an early Scan. By my app, I was exactly 7 weeks pregnant. I felt anxious but the full-on symptoms gave me hope that we would perhaps see a pregnancy sac.
And low and behold, as soon as the scan went on, the heartbeat was found. The tears of relief rolled down my cheeks. We were so bloody happy.
It’s difficult to put into words how you feel when the Sonographer say’s… “and there is your baby with a strong heartbeat fleeting away”. The scan looked more like 6 weeks than 7, but we were reassured that the baby would likely catch up, or the conception date could be a little out – did you know that sperm can travel for 7 days before fertilisation?
Fast forward to Christmas Day and I’m 9 weeks pregnant. I’m mainly surviving on:-
Orange ice lollies
Jamaican Ginger cake
Ginger beer (not ginger ale, ginger beer)
Raw carrots – in abundance.
Apples – but must be cut up
Bananas on rice cakes with a dash of honey
Plain boiled rice and soy sauce
Yoghurts with peach compote
Orange drinks – Fanta or Capri sun
Chewy sweets – Haribo, Randoms etc
I can only drive if I have original Tic Tac’s
Chips & curry
Chips & gravy
Chips with salt & vinegar
Salt and vinegar crisps – (preferably, Disco’s)
We also got to finally let our parents know we were with child. Which again, was another big relief. We spent the rest of the festive period SO relaxed. Which is just what I needed. This was mostly my view:-
Never spent so much time in bed, in my life. We decided ‘bed rest’ was for the best. This baby is so precious and I just didn’t want to overdo it by rushing about at my normal pace, lifting loads at will – up & down the stairs with laundry or the Dyson. I had also stopped cycling for fear of falling off etc. By week 11 I was just so tired, that being in bed was definitely the only place for me to be honest!
Also, is there a better way to spend your pregnant-life than in pyjama’s?! These ones are still my favourite, from NEXT. They also still fit, at the minute, hurrah!
Almost up to date now. We had our 12 dating week scan on Friday 18th January, again at our local hospital of Stepping Hill. I felt sick with nerves and worry and anxiety – what if there was nothing there like our last 12 week scan? I couldn’t speak. James and I spent the 10 minute car journey in silence, him asking if I was ok… then muttering “you’re scarily quiet… “.
As is rather usual, scans were running a little late, which is totally reasonable given the detail they require. I forbid anyone to get frustrated with this – even with a full bladder!
We were called into the scan room and soon as the sonographer addressed us I broke down in tears. She had asked a question about my previous pregnancy and what happened at my 12 week scan. To which I blubbered through the details of my miscarriage – she looked perplexed. Then we ‘clicked’ that she was in-fact referring to the issues that came up when we had the 12 week scan with Eli – his NT measurement was high, so we were referred to the Fetal Medicine Unit at University College London Hospital (UCLH) . Because of the sensitivity of time, the referral was organised for the very next day. The appointment at UCLH would include a detailed scan, counselling and the invasive Chronic Villus Sampling (CVS) procedure based on the results of the scan and our consent. CVS would be able to tell us if there were any genetic/chromosomal abnormalities.
Once we’d explained everything, I was asked to get myself comfortable on the bed. I couldn’t. I was on the verge of an anxiety attack, I felt like I was about to pass out. I was sobbing and shaking and sweating. I was so scared of being scanned. It seems ridiculous and all I could do was apologise. The worry I’d been bottling up the last 12 weeks had come to the surface. The constant anxiety at every niggle – the worry that my symptoms suppressing. Was I losing the baby? The constant anxiety of every, single, toilet visit – inspecting the tissue incase theres any trace of blood. Apologies if this is *too much information*, but I’m just giving an honest insight to the daily struggles.
Eventually, I came round and shakily got onto the bed. The warm gel was applied to my tummy and the Sonographer went to work. Within seconds (felt like YONKS) she showed us our babe on the screen. Firstly, I was so SHOCKED at how large the baba was. It never, ever, ever, becomes less amazing. I was sobbing again and clenching James’ hand so tightly. The relief of seeing that baby, an actual child, on the screen, is unbelievable. Secondly, the baba was bouncing about and flailing it’s arms so much – which was brilliant to see – but made it difficult for the Sonographer to get the measurements she needed.
The Sonographer managed to get the length measurements and gave us a due date of 27th July. The EXACT due date we were given with Eli. I mean, what are the odds of that?! The dates made my pregnancy 12 weeks & 6 days. A little further along than we thought!
The baby flipped the wrong way, then FELL ASLEEP, meaning the Sonographer couldn’t get the crucial NT measurement. She asked me to go for a walk and to drink some more cold water to try and get the baba moving about again.
So cold water was had and I waddled up and down this flight of stair no less than 50 times. We were called back in and I felt giddy this time – excited to get a second viewing of this wonderful babe. Except, the baby had moved into another awkward position. The Sonographer made me dance, tilted my body at odd angles, inserted a ‘soft play’ cushion under my knees and finally, made the bed go so far backwards I was slipped off, head first. Baby eventually played ball and it was confirmed that the NT measurement was low-risk, being 1.5m. Again, relief flooded my veins and I felt dizzy. (Although, that could have been due to the blood-rush from the bed being tipped up!).
So here I am. Week 14. Already with huge bump – yes there definitely is one in there – and feeling slightly less queasy, but still a lot tired.
By sharing this (ridic long) blog post, it has been cathartic for me and if it gives hope to those who have been through loss, then that would make me really happy too. A new pregnancy, does not replace the one you lost. To have a million worries is normal and expected. Just look after yourself Mama, because I certainly am!
“If you want the rainbow, you have to deal with the rain.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
OH HEY BABY! 🌿
It’s been nice carrying this wondrous little secret for the last 13 weeks & 1 day, but it felt even better seeing this 🌈 baba doing somersaults at our 12 week scan, last Friday! ✨
This isn’t the first scan we had during this pregnancy though. As this is a pregnancy after loss, I was given a scan at what we thought was 7-8 weeks. The measurements however tallied up to being more like 6 weeks, though a strong heartbeat could be seen. While this was a relief to see such a teeny, tiny flickering heart beat, I couldn’t stop feeling anxious that something wasn’t right. Was the baby not growing adequately? How could my dates not be right? We’d been doing Ovulation Tests as it took so much longer to conceive this time (I’ll be writing a post on this later). James tried to reassure me with lots of logical explanations for all of my worries. Then I went back into my pregnancy app (I use the FLO Heath app for Apple which iPhone Health) and realised that my dates were a week out, d’oh. And so the baby brain begins!
Can we just talk about the difference in the scans?! The 12 week scan dates this baby to be 12 weeks & 6 days. The first scan dates the baby to be around 6 weeks. So in 6 weeks, a whole baby has completely formed and I find it so extraordinary. To see the baby bouncing around in my tummy with two hands and two legs and a whole spine and ribs and heart and brain and NOSE. It’s just so magical and I don’t think I will ever get over how amazing a sight that is.
3 months have slowly gone by, filled with a heccuva lot of nausea (way worse than Eli), the biggest food aversions to everything, ever (way worse than Eli), tiredness (way worse than Eli), major anxiety (way worse than Eli) and my heart filled with an insane amount of hope (just like with Eli)💫
Our new little babe has the same due date we were given with Eli too – so that’s been LOLs😂
Eli is ridiculously excited to be a big brother – and has been looking after me like a proper little boss!🖤 Oh and @jameshill.tv is pretty made up too 🥰