Monthly Archives: March 2013

A Charlotte by any other name

What happens if you and your friend love the same name? Does the person who gives birth first “win”?

As a child I would write lists of my favourite girls’ names; as a direct reflection of my personal interests (for example, Liesl and Brigitta) they are slightly cringeworthy to look back on now. Male names, even Austrian ones, never seemed to be quite as interesting. Later on, surnames became more of an issue – that is, the all-important surnames of boys and whether they were acceptable to take in marriage. I once briefly dated someone with the last name of Dickstein; it didn’t last!

Some years ago, before I’d even met Mr Cath, my friend Sophie and I discussed names we liked. I can’t remember who mentioned the name Charlotte first, but we swiftly realised we both had the same favourite name. The idea that we could nickname our daughters Charlie and Lottie was quashed when we both expressed a preference for Lottie. Disaster! At the time, we laughed it off as the idea of having children was still reasonably distant. Incidentally, when Sophie and I first made friends with each other and two other girls on our course, we realised each of us “was” a girl from Sex and the City. With her fabulous Julia Roberts-esque hair, Sophie was Carrie, and I was… Charlotte! (I won’t tell you who Samantha is).


We still miss you, SATC!

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Dream a little dream of me

Inspired by this post that provided some pictorial support to Monday’s missive, my thoughts are turning to dreams, specifically baby dreams.

Apparently this blog has been giving people nightmares. My friend Anna had a series of pregnancy-related nightmares after reading Cath’s musings on buggies. She kept dreaming that she was pregnant and it was “very very scary”, but then she would forget the results of the test so wasn’t sure if she was pregnant and kept having to do multiple tests to remind herself. And her Mum guessed that she was pregnant, and she didn’t want her to know yet, but then realised she was three months pregnant so it was ok. Add to that massive stress about the glass of wine she’d had for dinner the night before, and well, fun times… like Groundhog Day with more pregnancy tests.

Groundhog Day

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Bloom and gloom

Maybe it is just the hideous weather we have been having for months and months on end, but I’ve been feeling particularly pasty and non-glowing recently.

I’ve always been susceptible to the odd spot here and there – oily skin is the price I pay for the benefit of less wrinkles later on. Or so I optimistically tell myself! My zits have been mostly confined to the T-zone, with one notable exception. A few years ago, a rash developed on just one cheek. I would almost have preferred it on both! I went to the doctor and even had a blood test to rule out anything serious. Eventually my GP decided it was just a random eruption of spots and prescribed benzoyl peroxide. The ridiculous one-sided acne virtually disappeared overnight – that little tube of gel is the best invention ever. Since then I have discovered lower doses of benzoyl peroxide can be bought over the counter and have used it occasionally, perhaps every couple of months or so, to tackle spots directly. It really is the miracle cure!


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The Duchess and me

On our wedding day in May 2011, the vicar couldn’t resist mentioning the Royal Wedding that had taken place just a month earlier. He emphasised that our wedding was “just as important, and just as special” as Wills and Kate’s nuptials. At the time I wasn’t sure what to think but it didn’t feel right. Why was another wedding being referred to on our wedding day? My Dad picked up on this in his speech later and while thanking the vicar for his words, he said there was just one thing he’d got wrong… in fact, our wedding was “much better” than the Royal do! Day saved.

We’d got engaged a few months before the Windsors, but needless to say the comparisons started as soon as the date was set and people realised we were on a similar trajectory. I have numerous American relatives and family friends, who were thrilled to visit the UK for their very own version of Royal Wedding. It helped that we went for a traditional vibe, and that our reception was held at a classic English stately home… There is even a really cute moment in our wedding video where my sister is attempting to pick up my train, Pippa Middleton style. Unfortunately her superior height and the shorter length of my train makes for a comedy moment, almost a parody of what had happened a month earlier (I was unaware of this at the time, desperately trying not to trip over as it was).

Having got our weddings out of the way, it was almost inevitable that as the world waited for Kate to fall pregnant, we attempted to beat them to it for a change. How typical that as we patiently set the date for our 12-week scan and planned to tell everyone over Christmas, her pregnancy had to be announced early (I do have a lot of sympathy for Kate and William… but it was still annoying!) The handful of friends to whom we’d already let slip all got in touch in quick succession saying versions of “ha ha, you and Kate are pregnant at the same time”. Yes, thank you, I’m fully aware my thunder is being stolen!

royal bump

Really, New Look?

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When are you due?

Predictably, despite my excellent wedding outfit planning, in the end I went for something completely different on the day. You see my lovely East dress, made for summers of golden corn and telling the time using dandelion clocks, was not quite going to cut it on the Welsh Coast in nigh on Siberian conditions. So an alternative had to be found… Hence I plumped for my excellent eBay purchase, an Isabella Oliver dress that accentuated the bump (although I should have probably looked at this picture before wearing it, as I didn’t quite rock the wrap look to the extent required!):
20130325-230647.jpgThis was my first wedding since knowing I was pregnant, so it was going to be different.

My usual intake of alcohol was rather curtailed by the bump – although I did allow myself a few sips of bubbly, especially as another pregnant friend who was sat with us (pregnant table basically) wasn’t being puritanical about it so I didn’t feel guilted into completely abstaining. I can’t imagine a few sips doing much harm! I also had my dessert whisked away from me, which I was quite uppity about as you can imagine, until it was replaced with other cheesecake that did not apparently have the offending raw egg (another food to be careful about – the list is endless!). But amazingly nice of the bride to consider us; much better than I did at our wedding when I forgot my best friend doesn’t eat cow and had a huge steak plunked in front of her (which luckily got exchanged for a veggie option).

The main difference was that I had suddenly become the “pregnant lady”. Having hidden the bump under normal or loose clothing, suddenly displaying the bump (and quite the bump it is after a huge dinner of delicious Welsh lamb) caused quite the stir. Virtually everyone asked me the due date and wanted to know how it was going. People are obsessed with cravings! Although I think they were hoping for a more interesting one. And I got some weird comments, like “you are doing well – it’s all going to the front rather than swelling out at the sides”. That’s good then – better not let you see me in three months’ time…

It was nice being recognised as being pregnant (some people at work are still pointedly avoiding the topic – how many pies do they think I’ve had??), but also weird. It was strange to be different, to be handled rather more with kid gloves. People assumed I would be knackered and were surprised that I wasn’t. But equally, there were new limits to contend with – dancing the ceilidh, I could only do a couple of dances at a time before the retching started (seriously, this was supposed to stop at 12 weeks, what is going on?), I needed a drink or to relinquish myself of previous drinks. So although I could join in, it had to be in bursts rather than as a continuous party fiend. I felt like I sat more of the evening out than I usually would – watching the world go by, so maybe I am tired but more physically than mentally or in the strict “in bed by eight”sense.

It’s another month to the next wedding and I imagine Leon is going to get even larger, so I am a little trepidatious about my ability to dance in high heels at that point… Perhaps I should practice in the meantime – bin the pregnancy yoga dvd (still shrink-wrapped) in favour of dance aerobics in high heels!

Cot to trot

As a baby, I was put to bed in a drawer. Fortunately for Mr Cath and I, we have the space and means to invest in a slightly more social services-friendly option: a cot!

Cots are one of the things I didn’t think I was particularly fussy about. It’s a cot: what’s not to love? I should have learned from our own experience of taking six months to choose a bed for ourselves: as with beds, all cots are different, and there is a surprisingly wide range of styles, colours, sizes and features. For example:

small cot

A small compact cot like this one (£59.99) from Kiddicare

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Playing statues

I don’t know how to describe it really, it’s not like anything else I’ve experienced. When it first started it was definitely like bubbles popping, first small bubbles and later large bubbles that couldn’t be ignored any longer. But they don’t feel like bubbles any more, but equally they don’t feel like kicks or punches or someone stretching or rolling over or whatever the alien is up to down there. Sometimes they feel like my tummy is gulping or swallowing, but most of the time it’s just a really weird sensation.

The trouble is, it’s only me who gets to experience it. My friend MJ was trying some sneaky incursions on the belly to try and catch it in action last night, but the minute her hand made contact with belly – total stillness fell! And it’s not just MJ, the alien is equally difficult with Fred – despite having felt it for a good four weeks now, he has only felt it once from the outside (“there’s definitely something in there” was his conclusion).

Weeping Angel

Weeping angel, Doctor Who © BBC

It’s immensely frustrating. I want others to make contact. I want others to confirm they can feel it so I know I am not imagining it or worse – mistaking gas for kicking!
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Baby on board

Assuming you don’t live within walking distance of your hospital, you will be driving your new baby home following the birth. Unless you have a car seat correctly installed, you will not be allowed to do so. According to Babycentre, the hospital staff might even check it is in there before letting you leave! Therefore, in that respect, a car seat is probably the most essential piece of kit you will need to buy before your baby is born.

These days there are two types of car seat: the traditional seatbelt kind and the newer Isofix system. Isofix is the EU name for the attachment points found in the back seat of modern cars. The idea is that you buy a special Isofix base that permanently clicks into the back seat, followed by a baby seat that in turn clicks into the base. They are broadly standard, but if you plan to purchase an Isofix base, it is worth checking with the retailer that your car is compatible. We spoke to Mothercare at length about Isofix car seats at the Baby Show, and the lady was able to look up our car on the system instantly. When we asked which type of seat is considered safer, she answered that she was “not allowed to comment”! The general consensus seems to be that Isofix is safer on the grounds that there is a much smaller margin for error. Whereas a seatbelt could become slack, the Isofix base is securely fixed into your car.

Our beloved old T-reg would not have passed the Isofix test but our new (secondhand) car purchased last year has the standard points. We therefore decided that an Isofix car seat would be the way forward.

It goes without saying that we then proceeded to purchase a seatbelt car seat!

car seat

Our car seat – part of our Graco travel system

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Wedding belle

We have a few weddings coming up, and with them will come the inevitable dilemma of what to wear!

One wedding is this weekend, so I reckon I can still get away with a pre-pregnancy dress… I had my own personal fashion show a couple of weeks ago and there were two dresses that still fit (more on the second later), so assuming that is still the case then I’ll go for number one from East which is a bit like this:


I think the fact that it was a bit loose to begin with and that it is empire line has allowed it to survive the inflationary trajectory of certain parts of my body. I had anticipated the belly, but other assets are certainly giving that a run for its money – expanding faster and, a least at the moment it feels like to the same extent. The other dresses didn’t have a hope of reining everything in!

So weddings number two and three… Number two is in a month and a half’s time, the same week I hit the third trimester.

So what are my options?

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