A heartbeat

And there was silence long before a little heartbeat.

We spend our lives hearing people are pregnant. It might be your neighbour, a cousin or a friend. It’s almost always something that brings a smile to people’s faces – ‘When is the due date?’ – ‘When will you know the gender?’ – ‘How did your family react to it?’. There are a lot of questions asked that are extremely easy to answer but others, not so much.

I found out I was pregnant on December 5th 2018 as my period was 2 days late. It was barely a line, we had to tilt the test to see it but one thing was sure: it was there. Hard to believe as I wasn’t feeling anything at the time but every single one of the 2463 links that I’ve clicked on Google said that a really faint line was still a line. We’ve decided to take the test again 2 days later as it should show a better result – and for our surprise, it did. We knew we were very early in our pregnancy, possibly less than a month, but you just needed to look at our faces to know we were a mess of emotions.

‘Is there really a baby?’ – ‘I’m sure someone in the world has had positive results when they weren’t pregnant, I might be one of them’ – ‘What are we going to do now?’ – ‘How do I tell people at my work?’ – ‘Are we going to be good parents?’ – ‘What if I go to the ultrasound and there’s nothing there?’. I’ve already experienced some situations in my life where I have had a lot of questions in my head, this was by far the one I’ve questioned the most (and still do!).

‘How are you feeling?’ – This was the golden question when I finally spilled the tea to my family with the fact that yes, I was pregnant.

‘Good…happy.’ – and scared and worried and not believing my eyes.

The weeks seemed to drag. The midwife would only see me when I hit my 8th week and expected me to know exactly how far in my pregnancy I was – I had no idea but tried to figure something out. She had a lot of easy questions about family health, urine tests and blood tests. ‘Am I really pregnant?’ I kept asking myself ‘Am I making a fool of myself coming here to find out my belly is empty?’. Ultrasound was scheduled for my ‘12th week’ which would be 3 weeks from the midwife appointment date. ‘How am I supposed to live 3 weeks not knowing for sure if I’m pregnant?’ I finally asked the midwife which I thought would understand my concerns. She laughed it off and said that a faint line was still a line.

I got home quite frustrated about the fact that I was feeling that way. At what point you start believing that you are indeed pregnant and that there is a heartbeat inside of you? The fear of completely believing it and being let down was so strong I couldn’t help myself. Three long weeks went by with me feeling that way – ‘Maybe I’ll get my period again soon’, ‘My belly doesn’t even feel hard and I’m sure it would be hard by now if I were pregnant’.

The long awaited day arrived, the 12th of February – Ultrasound day. I made sure I had every single document I needed (believe me I already have two books full of stuff – God knows everything that is in there, apparently it will follow me all through my pregnancy and is then to be kept by the hospital) and that I took a really deep breath as I left home with Kevin. He seemed quiet, a bit apprehensive like me as he too wouldn’t believe it until he saw it.

Getting called by the doctor gave me that cold feeling in my belly that you only get on big life events such as getting engaged or bungee-jumping – we went in, I laid down and Kevin sat by my side. The moments following me laying down there are a blank space in my mind until I saw the image on the screen.

A baby.

Wow.

Squished between my bladder and something else I couldn’t figure out but still a baby.

My baby, there, moving non stop and making a motion that really resembled the ‘swallowing’ movement. ‘The baby is eating the amniotic fluid’ the midwife said.

I have a baby and my baby is eating? Just like that, he can eat?

‘Look, this is his hand by his face’. My baby had a hand by its face. MY baby. Our baby.

I looked at Kevin at this point and he couldn’t take his eyes out of the screen. A leg kicking, another leg kicking, feet, fingers, a really straight spine and a well-shaped ‘oval head’ as described by the midwife.

I am yet to be able to describe 10% of the feeling that comes with seeing your first baby for the first time. It is out of this world. How amazing is life and how incredibly lucky am I to have this tiny little soul in my belly? There are still a lot of questions inside of my mind but there’s only one feeling overwhelming me at the moment: Love. In it’s purest form. Love from inside out. Just love.

We spend our lives hearing people are pregnant. It might be your neighbour, a cousin, a friend or…you.

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Nadine

 

 

 

Long roadtrip tips

In December ‘18 my husband and I took a long road trip from the UK to the north of Sweden and we’ve learned some things about long road trips. We have done some road trips before but nothing this long.

Here are some tips for you, that like us, decided to ditch the cheap Ryanair tickets that let you go with only a carry on and brought a boot full of Christmas presents:

Be mentally prepared: It’s a long trip. You will feel tired, you will need to stop more than you’d like to but it’s also really enjoyable if like us, you’re getting a tour around the beautiful countries of Europe. Make sure you prepare a really long Spotify playlist and possibly get Spotify Premium – you will want to pass some of the music more than once.

If travelling on a Ship (like we did from the UK to France) try to do it during the day: The trip on a Ship is an adventure on itself. Lovely to see that huge sea and the birds flying over it. It made me feel like moving to the coast!

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Bring small cushions/pillows/ blankets: This is something we did that helped us a lot. Small pillows are easy to fit behind your back or under your legs when you need to – this helps to avoid cramps, back and neck pain as it gives you support when it’s needed. After sitting down for so long, changing positions is crucial for you to keep going. The blanket helps when you want to snooze, your body temperature goes down and you can end up feeling cold. This also helps in case the car breaks down when you’re travelling on winter.

Stop to stretch: We stopped for around 5 minutes every two hours in the first 6 hours driving and then every hour after that (We drove around 9 hours a day for 3 days). We would stop for around 30 minutes twice a day for lunch/dinner but made sure to have little breaks in between. When we did that we would stretch our legs, walk in a quick pace around while stretching arms and neck. We were not experts on road trips when we did this one but I didn’t have any muscle pains when we arrived at our destination and none of us experienced swollen legs – which is a good sign. While in the car it’s good to move legs and feet (possible up and down if you’re the passenger) just to keep the blood flow going.

Be prepared for road tax: I am not sure exactly which countries you have to pay road tax but Denmark was a surprise. We paid to get in and to get out even though it only took us 5 hours to cross the country. Thankfully we brought our card with us but it’s nice if you can check any kind of additional taxes that the country you’re going through will charge you – this will help you to prepare your budget for the trip!

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Food tips: Nuts and fruits will help but won’t keep you going. If you are on a road trip for more than one day, you need to accept the fact that you will have to purchase bigger meals as you can’t prepare all of them and bring it with you without any form of refrigeration (unless you are a raw vegan that can fit a lot of stuff on your back seat).

  • Lunch and dinner: I would suggest something filling but light. Kevin and I stopped at Subway/ McDonald’s and Carl’s Jr. but got salad with chicken/meat instead of hamburgers/sandwiches. We ate their big fresh salads at least once a day and it was really good! They didn’t make us feel too full and tired to drive and gave us enough energy to get to our destination at the time we were planning to. We did end up getting one or two Subway sandwiches as they are the healthiest option that is easy to find.
  • Fruits: Choose fruits that are easy to eat and to feed the person that is driving, the ones that you can take apart without much fuss. Instead of bringing an orange that is difficult to peel, you can bring already peeled tangerines and give it to the driver piece by piece without making things dirty or having sticky hands. Grapes were our go to this trip and we had lots of it. We did bring bananas that we ended up eating on our breakfasts more than during the trip, but they are filling fruits that I would recommend bringing with you. Already chopped mangoes/pineapple/ strawberry are a good choice as well – don’t forget to bring forks.
  • Salty snacks: Crisps were good to keep up with our salt intake – they might not be the healthiest snack but after 2 days driving you need to vary as much as you can. We ended up bringing some cheese sandwiches that we indulged in between lunch and dinner. Babybel/ string cheese are a nice choice for salty snack together with salted nuts.
  • Drinks: I think it’s needless to say that you need water. Bring a big bottle, those really big ones so you won’t have to stop to fill it all the time. We got some children’s juice such as those Innocent bottles or the little boxes that come with a straw – this was very helpful specially on our breakfasts when we wanted something more than water.

Make sure your car has everything you need: Before the trip, service your car – change everything that might not make it on a long trip. Check the water and tyre pressure – our car has a tyre pump that was used a lot as we travelled to extreme low temperature. Other than that, make sure you have a first aid kit and another one with all the material you need to be safe on the road (i.e. spare tyre, triangle, night vision vest, flashlight, etc…). If you have all of this sorted, it is unlikely that your car will break down, but this will make your trip much more relaxed as if it does, you’re prepared for anything. Do not travel if something is wrong with your car.

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Bring toilet paper/wet wipes: This will help even if you don’t have a toddler with you. You might spill drinks or stop at a place that doesn’t have toilet paper available. 

Use Waze/other app for Petrol/Diesel prices: We tried to fill our tank little by little until arriving in Denmark where Diesel prices are extremely cheap. It’s crazy what an imaginary border can do. Belgium and Sweden had much higher prices.

Also use Waze/ other app to find places to stop: Here’s something that Denmark is really good at – there was a stop with food/bathroom/parking every 15 minutes on the road. It was amazing because we didn’t have to worry about it there while in Germany/Sweden they were more scarce and we had to make sure if we should stop or if we could wait 30-40 more minutes to go to the next toilet.

Stop to sleep: One of our best tips will be for you to stop to sleep. Try to stick with your routine – we stopped to sleep at 11pm and woke up at 8am to start driving at 9. Eight hours a day is ideal before being really tired. That’s when we decided to stop both for our safety and the safety of others. You might want to keep going, it’s just 2 hours until you reach the next country, right? Wrong. If you feel tired, stop and sleep. You can start fresh and safe the next day – plus the fact that you will enjoy the view much more.

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Do you have any must haves for road trips or other tips that you would like to share?

Ps: I know I have been babbling about a big change on my life/blog recently and thought it would be ready to be shared this week – turns out I will need a couple more weeks until I can share the news. I promise it’s coming.

Nadine

Road Trip to Sweden pt1

The sounds of the ocean, lighthouses and the seagulls flying around – the sunset – it’s hard not to feel inspired.

It was around 12pm when Kevin showed up at my workplace so we could start our journey. Our first destination was Dover in England and from there we would get a ship to Calais in France – this didn’t take long considering that we’re only 2 hours away from the Port but it was a beautiful start. The white cliffs of Dover are huge and the views breath-taking. I got myself thinking that we have to come back to spend a full day there as the place deserves more time to be explored – I’m planning something for when the weather starts to warm up. 

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We only had around 90 minutes in the ship but it was quite an experience as the sea seemed to be angry and the strong winds coming from the North caught us up in the middle of the journey. I have no problems with the motion but many people do, bathrooms got crowded as I sat by the window to watch the waves while the ship went up and down – it started getting dark soon after that. This has just confirmed that one day Kevin and I are going to get a sail boat, we both love the sea and dream about going out there on our own adventure. The idea of getting a boat and travelling makes me excited and I feel that this is something we will conquer as soon as we can.

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In a blink of an eye we crossed France – it really didn’t take long for us to get to Belgium and then arrive to the Netherlands where we decided to stop to sleep. Our plans were that if we’re going to do a 30-hour trip, we would have to be fully rested for the drive starting at 9am, stop frequently to stretch/eat and to sleep around 10pm. We have stuck to that and it has worked for us, a whole night of sleep made us much more attentive on the road and aware of the beautiful views while it was still bright outside.

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Our longest drive during daylight was in Germany and in Sweden – and I couldn’t be more amazed by the views. Lots of nature around, beautiful houses and windmills – I can’t help but think about the little lives that make that place alive. Someone making coffee in the morning, taking the dog for a walk or their children to school. The old man taking care of his garden and the two friends shaking hands at the bakery. Europe is beautiful – even though I feel that there is no word to describe its beauty – I am in constant awe since I’ve moved here. I feel lucky to live in a place as safe as it could be, with peace, green fields, with different seasons and really tall trees. I specially love the tall trees. 

When we reached Sweden we started seeing snow – as we still had a 10-hour drive ahead we knew it would get cold…and so it did! By the time we reached the North Pole (yes, we were that far North) it was already -27ºC outside. I was thankful for the hot air in our car and for the thousand layers of clothes that we’ve brought with us plus the snacks. We had tons of snacks which I will make a separate post about, with tips of what to bring on a long road trip apart from the ‘nuts’ and ‘water’ that every single site tells you to bring on this kind of journey. 

If I could describe this road trip in three words it would be: Adventurous, exciting and tiring. By the time we were 5 hours away from our destination we’ve started feeling extremely tired and we had to stop a lot to stretch. Each hour seemed to have 120 minutes in it and we couldn’t stand the same Spotify album going on over and over again – you can’t really fill 30 hours of songs without repeating most of them. Well, at least we can’t, Kevin has a really peculiar taste for music so we were picky with the soundtrack. 

Having said that, nothing beats the happiness to be back together with family. We arrived there 1 day earlier than expected (they had no idea we were going with a car) and their surprise was extremely fun to experience. I would surely do this all over again. We were very blessed with a smooth trip, our car was amazing apart from the fact that the water to spray the windows froze and everything else went just as planned. I couldn’t have asked for an easier and happier trip, full of pictures and memories for us to share with our grandchildren (and on my blog!). 

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Have you ever gone on a road trip or plan on going on one? Is there anything that you would like to know more about? Just let me know and I will add it on my Road Trip tips post. 

The post with the big surprise that I’ve been working on will probably go live by the end of next week – so stay tuned! 

Nadine

 

 

A (colder) winter is coming!

I haven’t been a good blogger in the last couple of weeks but this time I do have good reasons for that. 

First is the fact that I haven’t been around my camera lately – I have taken for granted how dark it gets at 4pm when it’s Winter and still have to learn how to take good pictures with flash. As I work full time during the weekdays it means that it’s dark both when I leave home and when I get back. This limits my blogging times to the grey weekends when I’m not always home. 

Second is that my computer died, just like that, gone. It’s been acting weird for a while closing random tabs and giving me the blue screen here and there but because it’s around 8 years old, there was not much that could be done. It has served its purpose and will soon be replaced – I’m just not sure how soon – which brings me to the third reason I haven’t posted much here. I have been preparing some big news to share by the end of January and this requires a bit of patience, organisation and time. This might change a bit the way I blog and will surely give me plenty of topics to post about – I am excited. 

For now I’m using my husband’s computer which is rarely available for me to sit and write/ edit pictures for hours so I’m trying to make it work in the meantime. 

Our Road Trip date is getting closer and closer and I do have to start thinking about the kind of snacks we will be bringing with us – there might be a post about “what to bring” or “what not to bring” following the trip depending on our experience with our snack choices. I hoped to find some tips online but most of them tell you to bring nuts and/or fruit – but what about long Road Trips like ours? We need more than 5 nuts and an apple to keep us going.

I’ve also bought some beanies/mittens on my favourite store: Fat Face. Kevin thinks the name of this store is hilarious but I swear I love every single piece of clothing they have. 

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Presents have all been sorted out and prayers that I haven’t forgotten anyone have started. Is it just me or wrapping presents properly is extremely hard? My paper is too thick and my tape doesn’t stick as good as it should – sometimes I just think I am a big part of the problem. I have started and given up wrapping presents twice by now, but it has to be done so I’m sure it’s a task for this week. Maybe I’ll buy thinner paper next year, a new tape and hopefully less round/ weirdly shaped presents. I think I am just too used to my mom being such a good wrapper and always having the right kind of paper available and now I just have to learn it by myself. 

This year we don’t have a tree which made some people at my work really worried about me (they are really festive and would dress up as Father Christmas to go to work if they could) but we won’t spend the holidays at home this year and we have 0 storage for it afterwards – having said that I do love Christmas and plan on having a tree next year in hopes we will have moved from where we are now and will have plenty of storage available for our colourful baubles. 

Do you have any plans for the holidays? If you’re travelling or preparing your blanket and spicy tea to sit inside, I hope you have a calm, peaceful and full of fairy lights Christmas! 

Nadine

 

 

 

Too much on my plate

I’ve been married for almost 3 years and have moved three times – one of them was overseas. When you have so much on your plate in so little time it’s extremely easy to forget about yourself.

I’ve always loved to read and write, it’s something I have a passion for. I would long to come home after work just to continue the story that I had to stop the night before. I have journals – three of them – that have hundreds of scribbled pages. I used to sit down and do it, I loved to learn and to start new courses – challenging myself.

I think the fact that everything that has happened challenged me so much in every single way possible, I now tend to try to ‘escape’ it by ignoring what I’m feeling. I would think that it would be nice to start a new book but had none at home. I would want to get my favorite pen to write but next minute I would just give up. My workplace actually offered to pay me some courses to make me grow on my career but I haven’t chosen what I want to do.

I’ve noticed this was happening around a year ago but haven’t tried to change it until I could see that it was affecting my marriage. I would be extremely moody, anxious, extremely tired and not looking forward the weekends. I can’t say I had depression but I was really close.

The first thing I did was to take a deep breath, then I put things to action. Organised my house, started writing, made a blog and I am now choosing which course I want to do and planning on learn how to knit, paint and calligraphy. I feel energised and proud of what I’m doing/ who I am. I missed this feeling.

I can still get myself feeling a bit down once in a while but everybody does. I can see how much healthier my way of thinking is and how it has impacted positively on my husband. We’re in a much better place now together. I just love it.

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After a really rainy week, we’ve had sunshine today. I like to think it was just because I got the day off from work to finish some Christmas shopping and take some time to myself. My day was amazing and I forgot how much I enjoy spending some time alone – it’s like I’ve met myself all over again.

On the ups and downs of life I have thousands reasons to be thankful today and that’s all that I am.

Please notice that even though I was able to snap out of it, depression is real and can come and go. If you are struggling with your feelings – please reach for a family member, friends and/or your doctor. There’s no shame on getting a bit of help and maybe all you need is someone to turn on the lights.

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Nadine

A walk at the park + daily ramblings

I write this on a cold Saturday, the sun as a gentleman that he is has let the clouds go first and make the day extremely grey. 

Last weekend we went to see The Crimes of Grindewald with a friend at VUE in Oxford. Even though I now live in Wiltshire I’m just a drive away from Oxfordshire and truth be told I’ve missed living there for the past 2 months since I’ve moved so we get any chance we have to visit her. I can’t complain, VUE is a quite good cinema and I enjoy it every time I go there minus the bathrooms – they remind me of McDonald’s ones – So I get myself sipping my drink slowly so I don’t have to go until I get back home. 

I’ve also been looking forward Christmas a lot. The past two years we’ve spent in England we had lovely friends that invited us to spend the Holidays with them but it’s never the same as family. This year we’ll spend it with Kevin’s family in Sweden for the first time. Not only that but we will go on a (veeeeeeery long) road trip from Wiltshire to Skellefteå so needless to say we’ll be driving through France/Germany/Denmark and some other countries in between. I’m still a bit nervous about the length of the trip and how we’re going to do that as I’m normally the one to just get a plane because it’s quicker and easier but Kevin tends to differ. He loves the idea of ‘adventure’ even though it means he will have to drive for 30 hours one way.  

I still get the shivers when I think about the amount of time it will take but I’m trying to enjoy the idea of something I wouldn’t do if I wasn’t married to him – something that I know I probably won’t regret in the end.  

I am trying not to be negative and look on the bright side: I’ll be able to share the experience. Not only on the blog but to my children and grandchildren. It’s a nice thing to do when we haven’t gotten children or pets yet, just the two of us. I plan on sharing everything – from snacks we’re bringing with us to the whole Christmas experience in Sweden on several posts and maybe even a video of the trip. So stay tuned for that – I’m bringing the camera everywhere! 

We’ll spend two weeks there and then we’re coming back with Kevin’s “little” brother (he’s taller than Kevin so not THAT little) with us so he can spend a week going around England as this will be the first time he’s left Sweden. 

For now we’re trying to have laid back weekends until we go (just a bit more than 20 days left) so we don’t pack ourselves up with things to do and dread leaving on the 21st of December after work. So when going to Church last Sunday we’ve discovered that they have a big lake surrounded by forest (as big of a forest as you can have here in the UK, but well) and we’ve decided to go for a nice walk today. 

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England is truly a beautiful land. There are not many woods around here but the great planes are great indeed – Every season compliments the landscape in a way. I can’t decide my favourite but it looks amazing when Autumn while it’s still okay to be out for more than one hour and not freeze.

We weren’t that lucky as we went a bit late for red and orange trees and now it’s more like a brownish colour on the ground with naked trees all around. We still spotted some wildlife as they tend to hide when it gets colder.

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 It was a really pleasant walk – I’ve sat in a closed office all week, I just needed some time outside spotting cute little things along the way. I’ve also spotted thousands of dogs, and I was crazy to target them with my camera lens but thought the owners might find it a bit weird – or not – if you are a dog lover you probably are able to understand another dog lover. Maybe next time I’ll ask for some shots.

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Have you watched The Crimes of Grindewald movie? What did you think about it?

Do you have any road trip tips? Have you ever had one? I’d love to hear good stories about a trip you’ve done so I can feel calmer about driving across so many countries at once!

I wish you all a very lovely week ahead.

-Nadine

Avebury Sunday!

I’ve put my brand new yellow jacket on, got our gloves/scarves out of the “winter storage box” and braved the cold to go to the Neolitic Hange in Avebury, Southwest England. I can’t complain much as the sun was out pretty much the whole day so it would help to unfreeze my nose everytime I wasn’t under a shadow.

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We’ve arrived there a bit before midday and saw a lot of dogs playing around, which made me like the place even more. The parking is really cheap (it cost us £4 for the whole day) and the place is really close to the Henge circle – the prime reason for us to visit this Prehistoric site.

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The largest megalithic stone circle in the world is impressive when you start thinking to yourself how on earth they were able to move those huge rocks together at that time.

I find it extremely interesting to be where thousands of people were through the centuries. What were they doing there? How was that space used?

We don’t have children but I would definetely recommend it for people who are lloking for an outdoor space to spend the day. They don’t have playgrounds but I’ve seen several children playing together with sticks and jumping benches.

I didn’t get to experience their big cafe as it was closed for repairs – but I couldn’t lose the chance to try their scones! The atmosphere of the whole place is like sitting on your sofa with a blanket and a hot drink on a cold day. Things there are rustic and homemade – I wasn’t let down.

The prices are above avarage but it’s understandable when it’s used for keeping the place going. We paid £2.30 for a tall filtered coffee and £5.50 for a cream tea and a scone with jam and clotted cream. I won’t even get into the discussion about which one goes first but you can see how I do it in the picture (sorry Devon!).

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They also have a couple of little shops with local products that help to improve the experience when visiting the place – so much to choose from!

So if you are around Wiltshire and want to have an enjoyable outdoor experience, Avebury is surely the place to go.

Spending Sunday out in nature helps me to prepare myself for a whole week working in an office.

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What do you normally do on Sundays? Do you like to get out of the house or do you prefer to stay in and rest?

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Have you ever been to Avebury?

Nadine