Pregnancy Update: Week 13

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

The end of my first trimester has come and gone at last! Hoo-flipping-rah! Monday marked the start of my thirteenth week of pregnancy, and almost as though a light had been switched on overnight, I woke up with less sickness, more energy and a happier outlook on life. So it is true what they say about the 'happy second trimester' after all! What a relief.


I've noticed a considerable change to my bump this week, particularly after I've eaten! It seems to have popped out a little more, and I'm starting to look a bit more shapely. According to one of my many pregnancy Apps, the baby is now about 3 inches long (think the size of a peach), but weighs only 0.81 of an ounce.

The most exciting bump-related news of the week is that I've started to feel a bit of movement in there. This is quite early compared to most mothers, who can generally expect to start feeling something between 16 and 25 weeks, but the tiny ticklish movements inside me have been unmistakeable!


The sickness lingered into last week, but this week it has all but gone. I still experience a bit of queasiness here and there, but mainly just when I haven't eaten or drunk anything for a while, and I am low on blood sugar. I also get quite irritable during these times (I've coined the phrase 'Extreme Pregnancy Hanger' (EPH) for these occasions), but luckily I have an excellent hunter gatherer in the form of Mr Sunshine who has done very well at making sure I'm kept well fed at all times, thereby preventing the beast from being unleashed!

We have come back to the UK for the week to see family and friends, and as a result we have been packing quite a lot into our days, which I have found quite tiring. However, it's nowhere near the gut-wrenching exhaustion that I have experienced over the past few weeks, and just so long as I manage a full 7-8 hours sleep a night (punctuated of course by the inevitable dashing to the toilet at about 4am!), then I've found I can manage just fine.

I am hoping that this week is a good sign of things to come, rather than an anomaly! Please keep everything crossed that things are now on the up for us three :-)

What I've been eating

I definitely need to eat little and often these days, so instead of sticking to three set meals, I'm tending to snack throughout the day. At the same time, I'm trying to ensure that these snacks are as healthy and wholesome as possible. Luckily, this is quite easy to accomplish in London. A superfood salad from Pret; a freshly made soup from a little delhi in Chelsea; a fridge pack of mango slices from Waitrose, and of course, the odd naughty pub meal and bar of chocolate here and there...I'm starting to enjoy food a lot more than I did in the last trimester.

My new craving is cream cheese and marmite on toast in the morning with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. Sounds bizarre, but it is simply beaut. And I didn't even used to like marmite!

How I've been feeling

Pretty damn good actually! You know when you've been sick for ages and you didn't realise just how sick until you start to get better and feel like yourself again? Well, it's kind of like that. I've loved being able to walk through old haunts in London, arm in arm with Mr Sunshine, and to take my two year old nephew on a trip to London Zoo, and to be able to get up early enough to enjoy a sitting for brunch at the Duck & Waffle. It's obviously been amazing to be able to share my pregnancy properly at last with all of our family and friends, who have been so supportive and excited!!

Feeling our baby move inside me was obviously the crowning moment of this week. I can't tell you how much I love this little being already, and we still have six months to go before we meet him or her!

What I've been wearing

Coming back to London has meant that I can finally get my mitts on some proper maternity wear, something which is pretty difficult to find back in Doha. I definitely need a few choice items in my wardrobe now, as my jeans are getting tighter and more uncomfortable around the middle, and tops don't seem to sit right any more. I had visions of only being able to find frumpy, lumpy-looking items that resembled bedsheets, but Topshop surprised me with a few really nice (and more to the point, amazingly comfy!) pieces. I also bought a few over-sized bits and bobs from New Look and Zara while we were out shopping - see below for all the details.

The products I've been using

I slap on a bit of this Mother's Balm from Neal's Yard morning and night - to ward away any unwanted stretch marks across my tummy and boobs (luckily there is nothing as yet!).

I love it because it's made from completely natural ingredients, so I know I'm not subjecting the baby to any unnecessary chemicals.

I've also been using this organic moisturising lotion with manuka honey by dr. organic for my dry legs and arms, which has worked a treat.

This week, I also moved from the Elevit Pronatal multivitamins and minerals that I was taking, to Pregnacare, which are much more widely used in the UK and seem to have far better reviews! So far, no complaints.

Baby bits

Coming home has meant that we have been inundated with gifts of all shapes and sizes. My favourite baby-related gift this week was this teeny-weeny baby cardigan, lovingly hand-knitted by Rich's grandma, Yvonne. Isn't it gorgeous?!

Link of the week

All Doha-based mummies or mummies-to-be should join the Positive Birth Doha Facebook page which provides a forum for mums to share useful resources, advice and services in the area. I have been on the page every day since I joined and it's already proven to be incredibly useful. They also have a sales page if you're looking to buy or sell baby-related items, which you can find here.

Final words

I've read hundreds of these weekly summaries by other mummy-to-be bloggers since I became pregnant, and I think they're a really nice way to document your pregnancy journey, so I will be attempting to post an update once a week from now on. I've tried to only include information that's interesting or useful, but please do let me know if there is anything else you would like to know about that I've missed!

Thank you soo much to everybody's incredibly kind and supportive comments so far - I have to admit I shed a little tear reading through them all. Things have been ridiculously busy but I will reply to each and every one of them very soon. At the same time, a new Doha restaurant review and my honeymoon posts are also on their way shortly, I promise!

Thanks for following along with the next step of my pregnancy journey. I can't wait to see what next week has in store.

Pregnancy Update: My First Trimester

Monday, 14 September 2015

As a first-time, rather clueless mum-to-be I have been doing a lot of pregnancy-related research over the past few weeks. Books, internet forums, blogs, vlogs, mobile name it, I've delved into it. It's been so important to me, not only to check that I'm doing things the way they should be done with regards to everything from sleep to my diet to exercise, but also so that I can compare my progress to that of other mums with a similar due date.

Do you want to know my main discovery? There is no 'normal' pregnancy.

There are expectant mothers that seem to flourish in pregnancy, right from day one. They manage to carry on with their normal lives, as if nothing much has changed, keeping up with outings, classes, exercise regimes and even managing to run marathons! Others report that they feel better than ever, and happily gloat about that elusive pregnancy 'glow' that some of us have been desperately waiting to miraculously appear...

Yup, you guessed it, I've been on the other side of the pregnancy camp entirely. I would even go so far as to say that my first three months has been nothing short of a long and exhausting struggle. Nevertheless, this definitely hasn't detracted from the excitement that's accompanied every little development, every time I've heard that rapid little heartbeat and seen our baby grow week by week in each scan...Yes, it's been tough, but it's also been the best three months of my life.

Here's a little summary of all the ups and downs. For those of you with a delicate constitution, or those who aren't a fan of TMI, I suggest you click away now!

How did I discover I was pregnant?

Towards the end of our honeymoon, I started to feel different. I can't put a finger on exactly what it was, but one night, sitting at dinner in Florence, I just kind of knew that I was pregnant. Lots of mums-to-be report a similar feeling - be it intuition or the change in hormones - sometimes you just know. Then my boobs started to tingle, and then really ache, and for me that confirmed it. Mr Sunshine needed a little more convincing however. When we arrived back in London for the final leg of our honeymoon, we rushed out to buy a pregnancy test at the first opportunity. I opted for a super-accurate digital one, just to be sure, and was a little surprised when "Pregnant 3+ weeks" popped up on the screen! Mr Sunshine's face was a picture when I showed him. Shock and then complete happiness! I was so relieved that he felt the same way as me about the news. Obviously this had all happened much more quickly than we had anticipated, but it wasn't unplanned. We had discussed all of the connotations in detail, like every sensible couple should do before making such a huge, life changing decision as this, and we already knew that the time was right.

So how far along am I, exactly?!

I am 12 weeks today! This week marks the end of my first trimester, or the first three months of pregnancy. Before you all go and do the math and start pointing any fingers, the doctors actually calculate this date from the date that you started your last period rather than the actual date of conception, so I did get pregnant after we got married. Just! According to our calculations is was probably the very first time we tried. We were just lucky in that respect I guess!

What am I looking like these days?

Pretty much the same, to most people. To me however, I feel like I look completely different! I think when you're used to your body looking and feeling a certain way, you notice even the tiniest change in the way your tummy sits, and how clothes fit you. Take a look at these photos and see what you think...

I am really embracing all of the changes that are happening to my body. They are a daily comfort to me that the little human inside of me is really there and growing at a rapid rate! I can't wait for the next month, when all of this is going to escalate, and my tummy will 'pop' out under my rib cage, and I will finally look properly pregnant to the outside world!

Why has it been so tough?

The number one reason is that I haven't had the safest or smoothest of pregnancies so far. I had a bleed at 5 weeks, and again at 9 weeks, the latter of which the doctors termed a 'threatened miscarriage'. When I heard those words they shot through me like a lightning bolt, and I will never forget them as long as I live. I was put on bed rest for a week and prescribed progesterone tablets to see me through to the end of the trimester. It was a really scary time, during which I convinced myself that we were definitely going to lose the baby. I berated myself for all of the things that I could have done wrong and read far too many scare stories on the internet. Towards the end of the week however, with the help of Mr S, I pulled myself together and started to think far more positively. After all, many many women (approximately 15-20%!!!) have a miscarriage in the first trimester, through no fault of their own, and the only thing you can do if there is threat of this happening is to rest and stay positive. What's more, we had seen our baby wriggling on the screen in a scan twice that week (one of the real perks of the excellent private healthcare in Qatar), and heard their little heart beat, signalling that everything was still going as it should be. I picked myself up out of my gloom and ever since then, things seem to have got a lot better. As we come to the end of the first trimester the risk of miscarriage reduces significantly, and we can start to rest easy at last!

Any other symptoms?

Oh, loads. Between weeks 5 and 10, my morning sickness lasted practically all day, and sometimes went on into the night. Particular low points included the time I threw up incessantly between 2am and 5am, and still dragged myself into work the next day, and the time my kind and caring husband brought me breakfast in bed and I promptly threw it back up all over him. See, I told you this wasn't a glamorous pregnancy!! Now that I've entered the 12 week mark, the physical sickness is lots better, but some of the other symptoms still prevail. A bit of nausea and lack of appetite. Occasional headaches. Dizziness. Achey, swollen boobs. Extreme fatigue and the need to nap ALL THE TIME. Luckily, Mr Sunshine is the best nurse/house husband in the world, and his patience and care has been an absolute life saver while I've been feeling so terrible. I'm not sure many husbands would let you sleep all evening while they go to the supermarket (to stock up on all the strange items you've requested), quietly make you dinner (for the umpteenth time that week) and hastily tidy up all the mess that you've made throughout the day around you. Thanks Mr S, you're the best!

So, um, are there any good things about being pregnant?

Sorry to save this nice bit for last but I think it's important to end on a positive note. There are a million and one absolutely amazingly wonderful things about being pregnant!

I suddenly feel like there is something bigger than just me, or Mr Sunshine and me to think about. We are already becoming less selfish in our lives.

I feel incredibly lucky and happy that we have been given this opportunity, and there isn't a night that I have fallen asleep, or a morning that I've woken up without a huge smile on my face. The things that used to really get me down no longer trouble me for long - they are so insignificant compared to what we are about to do.

I have a new-found appreciation for all of those other mothers and mothers-to-be out there. Friends, family, strangers I pass on the street...there is so much that they go through every day that is completely taken for granted. I think they all deserve their own medal.

I am really positive and excited about the future. Yes, it's going to be new and daunting and difficult. But it's also going to be the best thing that we will ever do. I can't wait to get started!

So, I have some exciting news...

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Frequent readers of Follow Your Sunshine may have noticed that things have been a little quiet on the blog front recently. I had planned to have raced through my honeymoon posts by now, and be back to my normal schedule. Then all of a sudden something happened which meant that everything in my life was temporarily put on hold. I've been harbouring this little secret for quite a while now and I believe the time has finally come for me to let you in on it! Allow me to explain...

Today is my thirtieth birthday; a rather huge milestone, but one which I've actually been looking forward to with excitement and anticipation. It's always been a really special time of year for Mr Sunshine and I you see.

Three years ago, I was turning 27, and I was looking forward to our very first date the next day. Mr S was a complete gentleman and pulled out all of the stops (as well as some very suave one-liners), and things quickly progressed to a second date.

Two years ago, I'd come to visit him in Doha, where he'd taken up a job as a TV producer a couple of months before. We celebrated me turning 28 with birthday cake for breakfast in the Marriott, followed by a day in a cabana on a beach at Sharq Village and Spa. It was on that day that we came to the decision that living on separate sides of the world was too difficult for us to continue for much longer, and that I would move over to this part of the world as soon as the opportunity arose.

One year ago, Mr Sunshine had recently proposed in that very same cabana at Sharq Village and Spa, and we had travelled home to celebrate our engagement with family and friends. I spent my 29th birthday in a champagne-induced rather giddy state, surrounded by my favourite people in the world.

This year, as I leave my twenties behind, things are a little quieter. We started the day with a lie in and Mr Sunshine brought me breakfast in bed. He is taking me for a trip to nearby Banana Island later, which I am really excited about. All this is amazing, but there is something even better on my mind. Not too long ago, I received some news which was the best birthday present I could ever have wished for.

The news that I'M PREGNANT!!

We can not describe how utterly delighted we are at this news. We're now busy making plans and excitedly looking ahead to the future, when our little Sunshine duo expands to become a family of three!

Some of you will probably want to know all of the details (who am I kidding, I really want to write about them!!), so there will be a much more in-depth post tomorrow detailing everything from how I found out, to how far along I am, and how I've been feeling. For now, I'm going to help myself to a huge slice of this cake that Mr Sunshine brought in for me this morning (they have really captured the likeness don't you think?!)...

And then the three of us are off out for some birthday celebrations. I have a feeling that this is going to be the best one yet.

Our Italian Honeymoon: A Special Place In My Heart

Friday, 4 September 2015

Those of you that follow me on Instagram will know that Mr Sunshine and I recently returned from the mother of all Italian honeymoons, which took us from the cobbled streets of Rome to the rugged coastline of The Amalfi Coast, and finally north to historic Florence. The trip was everything that I believe a honeymoon should be: filled to the brim with romantic vistas, great food, excellent wine (and even better bellinis), lazy days and new adventures.

Here are some of the highlights from our travels that I will be writing about over the next few weeks, and some of the places that have nestled themselves in my heart forever more.


I can't think of a better way to have started our trip than with a few days of Rome-ance. Rome has been a wanderlust-inducing city for me ever since I spent some time working for a client there in 2012. I fell in love with the history, the passion and the soul of the city, and I knew that returning with my soulmate would be even more special.

Praiano, The Amalfi Coast

Our first introduction to the Amalfi Coast was a stay in the tiny village of Praiano, perched on the cliffs overlooking its bigger and better-known sister, Positano. From the beautiful Casa Angelina, we wandered the tiny streets, perused the old fashioned village stores and fell in love with the domineering cliffs, sea views and kindness and warmth of the locals who were so proud that Praiano remains an unspoilt haven in the midst of this bustling coastline.

The Island of Capri

We took a boat to Capri for a day of swimming, exploring caves, and finally, clambering up onto the island to take a look around. Capri is an incredibly special spot (so special that tourists head there in their droves) and we talk about that day as one of our favourites of our entire honeymoon.

Conca dei Marini, The Amalfi Coast

Another tiny village, but one which has become famous in recent years, with the opening of Monastero Santa Rosa. A once in a lifetime hotel, which surpasses any that I have stayed in before; we are determined to return one day to celebrate a notable anniversary or to renew our marriage vows.

Ravello, The Amalfi Coast

If I was forced to choose, then Ravello would be my favourite honeymoon destination of them all, and we both wished we could have stayed for longer. Further inland than some of the other settlements along the Amalfi Coast, the town is perched high on a hillside, and offers some of the most awe-inspiring views across the landscape to the sea beyond. I'm excited to tell you all about my favourite place in the world that I discovered here...but you will just have to wait for this one!

Positano, The Amalfi Coast

Our final stop on The Amalfi Coast was the iconic Positano. With it's pretty pastel houses occupying a steep hillside leading sharply down to the sea, every view from every angle is picture-perfect. I took hundreds upon hundreds of photos, and we enjoyed a stay in the incredibly special, world-renowned Le Sirenuse to complete our exploration of the Amalfi Coast. It was a good place for us to choose. Positano was everything that we hoped it would be, and more.

Florence, Tuscany

And finally, we took the train north, back through Rome to Tuscany, and stopped in beautiful Florence. I had visited the city before, but had never stayed there. Luckily, we had Angie on hand to recommend the best hotel to stay in and we can't thank her enough for this! Conde Nast readers voted Il Salviatino the best hotel in Europe in 2014, and from the moment we stepped through the huge front door, I could see why. What a fitting place to end our honeymoon, and our three week long Italian adventure!

I can't wait to share all of the intricate details of this adventure with you over the next few weeks! If there are any elements of these travels that you are particularly interested in then please let me know in the comments, and I will make sure I cover it in my posts.

In the meantime, if you would like to join in this month's travel link-up on places that you can not get out of your head, then you can link up your post to  EmmaKellyRebecca or Liz's blogs before 7th September!

Our Wedding: The Reception

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

The Peak District is a treasure trove of beautiful landscapes, heritage sites and historic houses and castles. Despite having all of this on our doorstep, it wasn't difficult for us to choose a location for our wedding reception.

Chatsworth House, home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire is one of Britain's iconic stately homes. It has been the set to many documentaries and popular period dramas, including the BBC's adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and the more recent film, The Duchess. I have visited numerous times with my family, and have always loved the history and romance of the house, as well as the beautiful grounds, but until Rich surprised me by telling me he'd booked a viewing of the house with one of their wedding planners last September, I would never have dreamt that we would end up celebrating our wedding day there.

En route to the venue, we stopped at another iconic Peak District site: Stanage Edge for a few photos. This gritstone escarpment on the North Lees Estate also features in many a film scene, including two of my favourite adaptations, Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre, but I mainly love it for the memories of blustery family walks to the precipice with warm flasks of tea.

Back at Chatsworth, the reception was in full swing when we arrived. Trays of Prosecco and Pimms were doing the rounds in the gorgeously renovated stable block, alongside a selection of stunning canapes. 

Out in the courtyard, Simply Strings were playing a repertoire of modern classics.

It was time for us to take to the grounds, with our dedicated golf cart for transport to take some photographs. Our photographer, Brett Harkness took hundreds of stunning photographs that day, but here are just a selection of my favourites.

Our wedding breakfast was held in the old Carriage House, which with its vaulted ceilings and sculpted stone archways, provided the perfect space for round tables of ten, easily seating all 130 of our guests.

It had been beautifully set up by our wedding planners at Chatsworth, with giant LED Love Letters from GC Events lighting the hallway as you walk in.

The top table was elevated on a stage at the back of the room, and the white backdrop behind which was interspersed with fairylights, plus all of the chair covers and sashes were provided by Pretty Chairs.

On the tables, pretty displays of fish bowls and jam jars, laced with pale pink roses and cream freesias had been set up by Katie Peckett.

At each place, there was a small pot of Tiptree jam as a favour; a throwback to my childhood, when I lived in the nextdoor village to the Tiptree jam factory. The rustic luggage tag on each favour doubled up as a placename.

I absolutely adored all of our bespoke, rustic, hand-crafted stationary, from the lovely Norma & Dorothy. We had a heart and map theme running throughout (very apt for an ex-geographer and two avid travellers!): the table names were all places that mean a lot to us as a couple, from our home towns, to places we have visited on our travels; the rest of the stationary depicted heart-shaped maps showing the location of Chatsworth in the Peak District.

As you can see from the menu above, the food was a real highlight! Made using produce sourced from the Chatsworth Estate itself, it was typical English-country fayre at its best. It's just a pity that Mr Sunshine and I didn't get the chance to eat too much of it, as we were busy doing the rounds of the tables to say hi to all of those we hadn't yet had a chance to speak with.

Everybody else seemed to enjoy it immensely though!

With wine in full flow, and much chatter, out came the coffees, and it was suddenly time for the much-anticipated speeches, some gift-giving and a top table selfie or two. 

I always think the sign of a good set of speeches, is if you choke back a tear or two during the doting father of the bride's speech, allow those tears to overspill when the loving groom takes to the mic, and then forget all about how emotional you were feeling a minute ago when the absolutely gut-wrenchingly hilarious best man takes centre stage. Well, we kind of got a piece of all of those elements in our speeches, bar my dad's being maybe a tad too long (it was a full 25 minutes...not that I'm complaining!) and Mr Sunshine taking the mickey out of me far too much, as I knew he would ("It was when Polly first came to live in Doha that I realised the full extent of her spending habits. At one point my card was stolen and I decided not to report it because the thief was spending less than her!" VERY FUNNY HUBBY!). And then there was the best man, Rich's twin brother Jim's speech. It was absolutely bloody hilarious. I wouldn't do it justice by picking out one stand-alone joke, so here is a link to it on YouTube for anyone that is interested enough to give it a watch!

Full of good spirits (in both senses of the word), we piled back out to the bar area, where candles had been lit everywhere, creating a magical glow which lit up the windows from outside. 

We cut our gorgeous cake from The Organic Wedding Cake Company...

Had a little glance at the messages on our puzzle 'guest book' from Not On The High Street...

Pointed some people with cards towards our wedding letter box from Pretty Chairs...

And the party began.

Starting with an obligatory skinny arm and jumping shot with my oldest friends, The Essex Girls.

After which our amazing funk, soul and pop band, Supatight, headed by none other than Lifford Shillingford, lead singer to Artful Dodger's 'Please Don't Turn Me On', took to the stage.

Our first dance was Tom Odell's 'Grow Old With Me', which holds so much meaning to us for so many different reasons.

Our friends joined us on the dancefloor and the night's entertainment was officially underway.

Our night ended with Dave from Bliss Wedding DJ (who also provided the beautiful pink uplighting you can see in all of the pictures, plus the mics for the speeches) taking to the decks and playing some of our favourite classics as we danced in a big circle with our arms around our loved ones. It had been the best day and night of our lives and as we got into our car at the end of the night, we both wondered whether any day in the future would even come close. I squeezed the hand of my best friend who was also now my husband all the way back to the hotel.

Without wanting to sound too really did feel like a fairy tale.

All of the photos in this post were provided by our wonderful wedding photographer Brett Harkness. Check out his page for some truly stunning wedding, fashion and commercial photography, as well as his beautiful blog. 

If this blog post has left you wanting even more details of our wedding (mums, this is mainly aimed at you!), then you can also check out our recent feature on the awesome wedding blog, Style And The Bride. We were so honoured to be featured, thank you so much to Marina for asking us!