When I was pregnant with Alfred I was astonished how quickly I put on weight. I had always worked in the hospitality industry, on my feet for 50 hours a week and walking to and from work for most of my life so always kept quite trim. Not long before I got pregnant I had started working in an office. I was picked up in the morning, driven to work, sat at a desk all day and got driven home. Having always loved food I took my pregnancy as a chance to start eating with wild abandon. Cake is everywhere in offices and Costco pizza and sweets became a daily treat.
The further along I got the bigger I got and the less like myself I felt. Although pregnancy is amazing and made me feel impressed by my body and what it could do, it also made me feel more out of control than ever before. Being heavily pregnant at the height of summer I swelled terribly in the heat and reached the point where I only had one tent like dress that fit with a pair of flip flops. I waddled around feeling horrendous. I have basically no pictures of myself in the later stages of my first pregnancy and none I would be happy to look at.
Reflecting on this in the following years made me feel really sad. That I couldn’t have been prouder of my body and for Alfred that I didn’t have a better record of the process for him, to get out and show off. We did do a bump to baby shoot in a studio which was a groupon purchase. This consisted mainly of me and Pete feeling awkward while the photographer tried to persuade us to make heart shapes out of our hands and attempting to tie bows round my belly. Safe to say the pictures were not ones I wanted to print out and put on my wall.
This time around I was determined things would be different. To start with I am a restaurant manager again so spend a lot of time on my feet being busy. I also have a toddler which makes it a lot hard to be lazy. Don’t get me wrong, I still manage to fit in as many naps as possible, happily let my husband wait on me hand and foot and avoid the second floor at work at all costs. I would be lying also if I said I had eaten healthily this time around but I have certainly had less time to eat quite as much and I am using lots of energy.
I think last time I didn’t realise quite how much I was getting out of my pregnancy. I knew I would get a cute little baby and that I would cuddle it and that it would be lovely and, of course, hard some times (people like to make sure you know how hard it’s going to be don’t they? And you know you are going to be tired right?).
This time, however, I know I am getting a person – a proper little individual who will have her own personality that I cannot possibly predict. She’ll make us laugh and astonish us with her imagination. She’ll be around forever, she’ll join our family and she will change it and alter the direction of our lives. Just like her brother did.
As I was going to be pregnant on my 30th birthday and couldn’t have the drunken party I had been planning I decided instead to have a maternity photoshoot as a special treat. Not one in a studio this time, but an outside one in the woods. I was pretty nervous about the whole thing but being determined to be proud of my body I began searching Pinterest for ideas and got the shoot booked in.
The person I had originally booked to do the shoot had to unfortunately cancel quite last minute through no fault of her own. Upon hearing this the lovely Liam Rimmington of In Still Motion photography (www.instillmotion.co) agreed to step in and give up a very rare Saturday off to do the shoot. Liam suggested going to Longshaw Estate near Padley Gorge, I haven’t really been there before but I can’t wait to go back (preferably in the summer). It’s so beautiful and has loads of great places for kids to play in tree caves and across little bridges on the brook. Just for information there is a café on the estate as well as The Fox House pub very close, which I would highly recommend (we went there for my first ever Mother’s Day and had a really great time).
When we arrived Alfred had fallen fast asleep in the car (very rare) so my husband, Pete said he would wait in there with him while we went off to get some pictures. On reflection I think this was probably better, I think I would have felt sillier if I had been in front of them. I had already had my hair and make up done by two of my lovely friends that morning so was feeling pretty glam (make up is usually something I only wear if I am going out for a special occasion or if I absolutely have to). I went into the outdoor toilets and changed into the world’s most beautiful maternity ball dress, which I had treated myself to for my husband’s works Christmas ball. I did get some very funny looks from other toilet users but most of them were very British and just avoided eye contact, one lady commented on how nice I looked which was lovely.
We walked to the first location chatting all the way with me trying not to get too muddy. Liam was really friendly and has a very calming presence it really made me feel at ease. He also walked really slowly for me despite being about 7 feet tall so I wasn’t gasping for breath by the time we arrived. Once we reached the right place I took off my coat and boots. I’m not going to lie it was freezing but I wanted to go for the mother earth look so I braved the elements and stood where I was told. If you had told me a few months ago I would be wandering around the woods in a ball gown and bare feet in February while 32 weeks pregnant I probably wouldn’t have believed you. I expected to feel really stupid but I didn’t. There were loads of people around because it was a beautiful sunny winter’s day and they all stared at me, but do you know, I didn’t care. I smiled at them and some of them even waved, they probably all thought I was mental but it didn’t bother me at all. I knew it would be worth it.
Because we hadn’t had much notice for the shoot we hadn’t had a chance to discuss what I wanted but Liam completely got it. He told me exactly what to do with my hands and bump and where to look. He also constantly told me how nice the pictures were and how pretty I looked which really reassured me despite the fact I was sure I looked very awkward a lot of the time. After we had taken photos in three locations we walked back to the car with the intention of taking a few pictures with Alfred in them too. Unfortunately he had woken up from his nap in an incredibly bad mood and despite normally loving having his photo taken threw a bit of a wobbler about it. Despite this Liam still managed to get a couple of really cute pictures with him in really near the car. He even looks a little bit like he isn’t grumpy to the untrained eye.
I wanted to share this experience with you because it made me feel so special, pretty and confident. It gave me pride in my body and an excuse to get all dressed up. I think that the pictures speak for themselves, they are so beautifully framed and the light is caught so beautifully. I am genuinely happy with the way I look in them and most importantly I have them forever. I can’t wait to share them with Lucy when she gets older and show her how proud her mummy was to be pregnant with her. I think photos are one of lifes real treats, they can take you right back to that moment. They remind you of moments you might otherwise forget. Whether it’s a silly selfie pulling faces with your son or a piece of art created by a very talented photographer it is worth treasuring. A very wise photographer friend of mine once said people should be better at printing their pictures. They are taken for a reason and deserve to be looked at not just to sit on a memory card. That has always stuck with me, my house is covered in them (a lot of them hers) and they make me happy every day. I can’t wait to add these new ones to my collection.