Therapy.. and why I’m done

Throughout our IUI/IVF TTC/Fertility journey, we (in particular, me) were encouraged several times – well meaningly – by some of our lovely nurses to see the therapist. And every time I refused. I just do not see the point.

Yes, I was often a crying mess. Frankly, I’m not sure I know many couples where at least one of them is not a crying mess to have gone through/be going through the hell that is infertility. But;

No therapist in the world was going to make me pregnant.

No therapist in the world is going to change my mindset. In my opinion, therapists help but no one can change you.

At the points in which I underwent counselling, CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and CAT (Cognitive Analytical Therapy), I was just learning to talk about these things. These feelings and emotions and behaviours that had essentially been locked up for most of my life – ALL of my adult life! I had bottled them all up for so long that they caused huge breakdowns in me, and so talking to a therapist felt like the only option. At that point I couldn’t have discussed some of those things with anyone, and the leading questions you are offered from a mental-health trained therapist to get you talking are next to nothing expert level! At that point in my life, that’s what I needed. But now I’ve learnt to talk, and write openly. To not be ashamed or scared of what my mind is telling me. It’s still not always easy but I can discuss things far easier now with those around me, than ever before. But often because, everything I’ve been through is quite open, so everyone knows. Everyone else is now almost-expert at leading questions/being open and accepting of discussing subjects that may not have been discussed before! I’m definitely a pretty open book now – nothing is off limits for discussion here!

Don’t get me wrong, my therapists were great. And some time in the future I may need therapy again. But I’m quite picky about what I need from a therapist and wouldn’t just stick with anyone if it wasn’t right for me. But right now, I’m back to Karen. I’m pretty good at talking to anyone and everyone about anything and everything, so therapy is just not needed here. The question of “will our baby have a severely mentally ill mum?” Has crossed my mind. But for now, I’m good. I’m not worried about post-natal depression, but I know if it happens that support is out there.

A favourite extract from Matt Haig’s “How to Stop Time”. ❤️

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Babymoon – Mykonos

I have wanted to go to Mykonos for ages – so babymooning was an ideal time, as I wanted something with guaranteed nice weather, without having to travel too far, or stopover anywhere. You can fly direct to Mykonos from Heathrow, which is how we travelled. I was surprised as I was expecting to have to stopover in Athens so when I discovered direct flights, I was sold.

Given that we booked “last minute”, this holiday wasn’t cheap.. especially given the Greek economy is meant to be awful (though not sure how, as it’s so beautiful, weather is by and large always good and tourists are ripe!)

As always, travel blog will follow the same format of what we tried and tested, alongside several hundred beautiful pictures, as Mykonos is just gorgeous! I will say though – we wanted nothing more than to completely relax, so other than restaurants and our hotel (and Mykonos itself) we have literally nothing to review.. as we read, snoozed, and made the most of our last holiday for many years to come, child free!

Mykonos Blu Grecotel 😍

This hotel looked lovely online – and really was! Somehow I had accidentally booked some kind of villa and we ended up with two huge beds (ideal as I needed lots of pillows for bump support!), 2 bathrooms, a jacuzzi bath and basically just an absolute tonne of space! I chose not to bother booking a private pool villa like normal, because you can sunbathe topless in Europe anyway, and I guess at some point I must have decided I wasn’t going to bother going fully naked [quite unlike me!!] this time… I’m glad I hadn’t booked one of these in order to sunbathe naked as they were all overlooked, so I couldn’t have been starkers anyway… not unless I was prepared to seriously shock some strangers!

Anyway, all in all, the hotel was just beautiful. White washed walls as you’d expect for Greece surrounded by beautiful blossoms. Neither of us thought the food was too badly priced as you normally find in-hotel the price of food is ramped up. This was useful as whilst I would normally have just breakfast and dinner on holiday, baby and I tended to get hungry at 3ish for some lunch! So we didn’t end up spending an absurd amount, but we didn’t go hungry!

The hotel has its own two-tier infinity pool, as well as having its own little private-beach/bay (Psarou: shared with two other hotels) for those sea lovers! This is where we spent most of our days as in a sucker for the sea/beach! The only downside to the beach was that it was quite stoney to walk on – I’m a super soft sand girl! Also, as we visited in May, the sea and pools were freezing (but beautiful and fine once you were in!) I expect if you visit later in the year the sea will be a beautiful temperature! The water was crystal clear beautiful.

Also – this hotel was fairly far out (5k) from Mykonos town itself, so you pretty much need to get a taxi in/out. This was €10 each way and pretty quick, although we did discover at some point that the hotel seemed to have a car which would drop you in for free… but mostly when we asked, they’d just call us a taxi…!?!

Lastly, one thing I would say overall about Mykonos is that it’s not ideally set up for young children. There was a couple in our hotel with a toddler, but to me it seemed like hard work as there are lots of steps, particularly in hotels getting up and down to the beach etc!

breakfast at the hotel!

The only other things we have to review for this holiday, are restaurants. So here is where we went;

Nikos Gallop Restaurant

Nikos was across the road from our hotel. We actually went twice in the end as it was so cute with really great food – lots of different daily fresh fish choices, plus when we drove past it one evening when headed into town, it was absolutely packed, so we figured that was a good sign! They also are super extra friendly and welcoming to you when you go back, which was really sweet.

Eating on the boat at Nikos!

James was also pretty chuffed he got to eat out of a giant shell!

Mediterraneo Restaurant

Now, I apologise for doing this, and you’ll notice it as a theme, but some of the restaurants we chose were not exactly traditional Grecian. This Italian, is one of a few we visited, because little baby Marks wants CARBS. At this point, we loved a good pizza, and a good pizza this restaurant did. Everything you’d expect from a proper Italian pizza, and deliciously greasy which went down well with baby! They did however, struggle to comprehend having a cocktail without the alcohol – frankly, who can blame them?! – but we did get there eventually!

We also noticed as a bit of a theme in quite a few restaurants, being served “Mastika” as an after dinner shot. Some places it was nicer than others (particularly good at Nikos Gallop!) considering it smelt like Sambuca!

Petinos Taverna/Blue Myth Restaurant

This restaurant was within walking distance of our hotel, located within Petinos Beach area. The restaurant itself was slightly odd in that it seemed to be in some way affiliated with two restaurants across the road from it.. the menu’s were slightly different, but they seemed to be sharing waiting staff and the food seemed to also come from that direction! Decor wise they were quite different too, with the two across the road being a bit more super new-modern. Whilst Aggeliki was more modern classic..

When we visited neither of us were particularly hungry (but hungry enough to need something!) so we both just had starters, which were good, but the menu overall had looked really yummy, and staff were friendly but not pushy to get you to eat with them!

Trio Bambini ice cream!

There were a couple of these dotted around Mykonos old town. Normally I’d prefer traditional, individual ice cream shops on holiday, rather than a chain, but we’d be dammed if we could find after dinner these little unique ones we had kept walking past before dinner! Instead we kept stumbling upon Trio Bambini which had a huge selection of ice creams (sundae’s, crepes and waffles, come to think of it; think Treatz/Creams/Sprinkles/Kaspa’s dessert places we now have in the U.K.!) which more than did the trick.. I may have even had on our first night in Mykonos town, eyes bigger than my belly and requested one too many scoops! Who’d have thought that possible given the current size of my belly!!! Portions weren’t scrimped upon!

Pepper Souvlaki

We chose Pepper Souvlaki one night based largely on appearances… it was slightly hidden up cute little alleyways, plus I fancied Greek food dripping in yummy houmous/tzatziki etc. I wasn’t thrilled with the lamb feta burgers I ordered, but James had souvlaki (which I largely lived on at lunch 🤤😍!) which was really good. I guess baby reallly wanted carbs.. 🙄😂

Mykonos Dove

This restaurant looked the part, from the outside, but really, wasn’t great. Once again it was down on Petinos Beach. They didn’t have a lot of what was offered in the menu, which I can only assume is because they’d only opened within the last week, but did have wood fired pizzas, so yep, you guessed it, pizza once again for me! Not that I was complaining as it’s what I wanted. The pizza was good and the restaurant was beautiful – although unfinished (more noticeable when you walked inside/used the facilities) – but I was just a bit miffed that most things I asked for from the menu, they didn’t have.

Casa di Giorgio Restaurant

Yes you guessed it – Italian again! I am gutted we didn’t stumble upon this restaurant earlier though, as you’d probably have found me there every night! The restaurant was packed full but the service was still really attentive and fast. And the food was FANTASTIC! Fresh pasta and delicious pizza’s that I’m salivating over as we type.. must get James to make some fresh pasta sometime soon! I would happily eat here forevermore – the menu was huge and so hard to choose from! I’d 100% recommend finding this restaurant whilst in Mykonos and enjoying the delicious fresh pasta!

Everywhere you look, it’s beautiful!

Cut the crap! 💩

Whenever I see or hear something sad about dogs/animals I have to scoop my fur baby up for a big cuddle. This is what happened yesterday. Cellulite and all.

Reason for this post though (the cellulite kind of plays a part here), is because I have just overheard a young girl/teenager on the phone talking about some “miracle cream” – someone had a baby 2 weeks ago and she’s used the cream non-stop since and her stretch marks are “almost gone”. If the girl had hung up I 100% would have turned around to her and told her the truth.

OH MY GOSH I am so fed up with products being marketed like this. That is WHAT WOULD HAPPEN NATURALLY OVER TIME ANYWAY 🤦🏽‍♀️ once you’ve got stretch marks – they ain’t going anywhere (ok maybe they will with some laser surgery or something) – a cream is NOT gonna make them just disappear. Stretch marks stretch and fade over time. As your belly returns to its non-stretched state over time, the stretch marks will reduce and fade. I know this, because not only have I had them on my thighs since puberty, but I’ve been there with every stupid diet pill and miracle cream there is for cellulite/stretch marks (I never even had cellulite until I was pregnant. My dysmorphic brain just thought I did.) I won’t lie – I hate them, but they’re part of life. I moisturise a fair bit anyway, and when my thighs are slimmer [through running] they are fainter. To be fair, they’re quite faint now (considering how slim my thighs ARE NOT 🤣). I am moisturising like a crazy person whilst pregnant in a bid to not gain any more – but if it happens, it happens. They’ll be a mark of what my body has grown. I’ll probably still hate them, but at least I got the chance to finally be pregnant and carry our child: something I never thought would happen. I honestly don’t seem much difference in creams being marketed as a miracle cure for stretch marks much difference to that of bloody Kim KW and her stupid appetite suppressant lollipops.

It. Is. All. Bullshit.

Moisturise, exercise, eat a healthy, balanced diet. Get outside and [safely] enjoy the sun. Don’t waste your hard earned cash on miracle BS.

Love x

Pro-Choice.

As a non-Irish woman, living in England, I don’t know what else I can do other than use my social media platforms to add to the right for #prochoice

I have never had an abortion. As a woman who, without the aid of fantastic fertility clinics and the development of science, would not be able to have children, it is unlikely I will ever be faced with what I can only call a dilemma as to whether or not to abort my unborn child. As a woman who is currently 26 weeks pregnant with our miracle IVF baby, I am grateful for this – because I honestly do not believe it is a choice I could ever make. But a choice which, would be mine nonetheless.

I describe abortion as a dilemma because, not for a second can I imagine that any woman would blindly enter into aborting her unborn child without a lot of reason, thought, and heartache going into it. Aborting a child won’t just end there – with the baby gone; I’d imagine that no matter what circumstances surround the need for abortion, that the knowledge of having done so will live in within you forever.

Physically, it might seem easy. Mentally; not so.

But, as a human being – who doesn’t believe herself to be particularly intelligent, but does pride herself on her common sense – I understand. I understand that whilst we can all be so similar, we also can all be so different, and thus, we need choice. I have never, ever understood why individuals find themselves so worked up and concerned with the matters of other individuals; it does not concern them. Which is exactly why I love this image – if you don’t like/want something: don’t do it. That is YOUR choice. Why does anyone feel they have the right to decide how another person – female or male – should live their life? Lesbian, Gay, Straight, Bisexual, Transexual, In need of an abortion, in need of a home, in need of medication to stabilise your health [i could go on] – by and large – who’s choice should that be but that of the individual(s) involved?

For those fighting for pro-life… I too, am pro-life. However, once more, that is, MY CHOICE. I have never been raped, and thus never fallen pregnant with a child conceived from rape. I am so, so thankful that I am not pregnant with an “unwanted” child. That I am not pregnant with a child so deformed it would not survive labour. I am lucky that I have not had to make the difficult decision of whether or not to abort a child, and I hope that is a decision I will never have to make. For me, the second we knew we were pregnant at 3 weeks 6 days, that was our baby. It was a life, one we had finally created. Our perfect, miracle baby. But, medically, it is deemed an embryo until 8 weeks, and a fetus until birth. Not a baby, an embryo, then a foetus. It is MY CHOICE to consider it our baby from the word go. It is MY CHOICE to consider it a life worth fighting for, or not fighting for. Choice, is what’s important here.

It’s 2018 for goodness sake – why can’t we get on with our OWN lives without consistently having to battle for such simple human rights; choice. At the end of the day, that’s all it boils down to. The same as the choice I make to run. To own, walk, look after and love a dog. To pop to the shops or not. It is my choice.

Food/Eating Disorders/Pregnancy Cravings – we each know our own bodies better.

I was riled, a few months ago, watching a couple of programmes regarding eating disorders – something I always watch if I know it’s on, because I am simply fascinated, still. The first, was the “Wasting Away: The Truth About Anorexia.” And another with Louis Theroux. I remember, whilst watching, that both James and I were gobsmacked – and I have, from experience, a lot more understanding and knowledge of Anorexia.

What I will say from the offset, is that anyone that can be considered a role model should think very carefully about what they are saying/posting, although I believe if you are going to suffer with an eating disorder (or any other mental health issue), you will probably do so regardless of what you see/hear etc. I think you are pre-disposed within your genetic makeup in the same way some people get Cancer, and others don’t. However, I don’t believe the likes of Kim Kardashian (pains me to even write her name in one of my blogs 😫!) and the idiotic things she – or other similar individuals – say/do/post are going to cause eating disorders in young men/women, but I do think at times they are selling utter shite. If you are hungry, food or drink (not booze people🥂🍾!) will suppress your appetite, not a lollipop 🍭, ladies and gentlemen. In fact, I am currently eating a Chupa-Chups lollipop and am quite sure that once I’ve finished it, my appetite will no longer be suppressed and I’ll simply move onto another snack..

I seem to have this inbuilt part of me that has this need/want to help and support others, hence why I continue to write this blog.

Mark Austin and his daughter Maddy gave an incredibly open, and honest account of life with anorexia (Wasting Away: The Truth About Anorexia). Everything they both said is the exact kind of situation that happens with mental health illness and destroying families. The exact same happened in mine: anorexia isolates you, it makes you cunning and kuniving and it destroys relationships. Parents – or those that have no chance to understand – are angry, frustrated, exasperated. I hope history doesn’t repeat itself, and when I first started writing this – I was also still hoping anorexia hadn’t entirely destroyed my ability to have an embryo/blastocyst implant and carry a healthy pregnancy/birth/child. Thankfully, I have made it 25 weeks in and everything is healthy so far.

But it still hasn’t been easy. Whilst I am beyond in love with the ever-growing bump attached to the front of me, I am not thrilled with how I currently look overall. I stopped running in order to conceive – and anxiety meant I didn’t try again until we were 13 weeks, by which point, all fitness was lost and I was not in a position to push myself for fear of hurting our much-longed-for, unborn baby. Whilst I don’t doubt from other people’s comments that I perhaps still see myself as larger than I actually am (although believe me, I am heavy now!) my thighs, therefore {to me} are enormous. I have craved, and thus eaten non-stop carbs for the past 25 weeks; foods which I would normally reserve for never due to their ability to make me gain weight just thinking about them. I still live with mental health issues that I fight against daily, that no one can ever fully understand, and thus no one can ever fully have an input – especially if it is unasked for – thank you very much!

Recently, I’ve found people telling me what I should and shouldn’t be eating. People that will never be pregnant are included in this (aka men, or those older who have never wanted children) and I spent a drive home from an anxious hospital appointment a few weeks ago in tears, fuming and thinking about it, and the things I’ve done to my body over the years:

When I was 16, upon waking and realising no-one else was home, I leapt out of bed and ran through to my parents ensuite to weigh myself and see if the scales were acceptable to me yet.

I knocked myself out on a door frame/TV cabinet on the way through because I was so dizzy and fainting. In the 5 days prior to that morning, I had eaten just one apple. Nothing suppressed my appetite, I tried everything to be constantly thinner, and as a result of hunger, passed out.

In 2015, over ten years later, aged 26/27 I spent a month barely eating, and sneaking off to throw up everything I did consume. I taunted and teased myself by joining in with others and accepting free hot chocolate the work canteen was offering at the time – throwing it all up as soon as it was finished. Months later at 27/28 I struggled to push myself – desperately – through a 5 mile run because all I’d allowed myself for three days prior was “juice diet”. “Healthy” green liquid or water only. Less than a mile in I could feel my kidneys in pain, my muscles physically unable to run through a full 5 miles from lack of fuel. And yet mentally, I was livid with myself still. Angry at my body at having to run-walk-run as someone who knew they could usually run for miles on end and love it. You cannot function on nothing. Food, is fuel.

I remember lying to my friends that I’d already had dinner/was eating dinner at home later. Lying to my parents that I’d eaten out with my friends. I remember trying to throw up the smallest bit of cheese I’d sucumbed (BECAUSE SUPPRESSING YOUR APPETITE DOESN’T EXIST!!) to eating off my friends pizza, in the Pizza Hut toilets aged 15. I remember flushing food down the toilet or chucking it in the bin whilst exercising for a minimum of an hour every single day. I remember asking my parents for school dinner money rather than food so that at least I wouldn’t waste the food; because, whilst adamant I didn’t deserve food, I still felt a resounding guilt that I was simply throwing food away when there were – are – thousands of starving people in the world. I remember that I wasn’t kidding anyone. I remember it all too well, for someone who’s memory is largely shot to pieces. How can you forget such hideous self punishment?

Having been diagnosed “Anxiety with depression” aged 26, in 2015, I also honestly believe anorexia/eating disorders are a side effect, a symptom, a coping mechanism for wider issues. When I had my first mental health breakdown in March 2015 I had spent the previous 6+ weeks over exercising, marginally under eating and regularly throwing up everything I did eat. It was something I could control. It was a coping mechanism to deal with my heightened anxiety, my low self confidence and self esteem, it was an outlet, but it kills.

So what I don’t understand now, is how anyone thinks they have the right to tell someone – anyone – let alone someone who has been through what I have – what they should and shouldn’t be eating, when they’ve not asked, but particularly through pregnancy. I believe after all these years I am more than aware of what I should/should not eat in order to achieve weight gain/loss. I also instinctively believe I (we: baby and I!) will crave what we need. This pregnancy, that has NOT been salad. And I do love me a good salad. Maybe, if I’m lucky enough for a future pregnancy(/pregnancies?!) perhaps salad will be craved.

Yes – I am eating a lot of (ok ONLY!) carbs. Just because that isn’t considered an “odd” craving to many doesn’t mean it isn’t a craving, and is just an “excuse” to eat them. I have never eaten carbs like this before – I used to avoid them like the plague. I have never wanted or apparently needed carbs like this before. I can’t remember the last time I allowed myself a jacket potato (rather than sweet potato), or white pasta (rather than spelt). Crisps used to make me feel uncomfortably bloated and thus I would still avoid them even at parties when they were laid out as nibbles. The last time I actually ATE a regular breakfast, rather than drinking a protein shake, or smoothie only, (and after running 3/5/7 miles), I was about 10 years old.

So yes, it’s a lot of carbs. Yes, I’ve gained a lot of weight, no, I am not thrilled about it: in fact if I could take scissors to my thighs to cut off the extra chub, I would. But I don’t think I am massively complaining about it – yes I’m calling myself “fat”, a “beached whale”; that’s how I feel right now, but I say it in jest! I am not going to do anything about it whilst I am carrying our miracle baby. I am not entirely stupid – enough so to think for a second all of this weight will just “fall off” the second the baby pops out. I will have to work at it, hard – but does anyone honestly think this is something I’m not prepared to do? Someone who, when working full time would get up at 5/5.30/6am to run, and spent most days ensuring she exercised twice? Someone who is known to have got up during worst bouts of insomnia and run for 5+ miles at 1am?? I am not prepared to risk something we have wanted, and tried for, for so long. I tried to run to keep off some weight, but it’s not for me – not this time, this pregnancy anyway; it’s too late, too hard and therefore too much of a worry to me to keep trying until the baby has arrived. I have never craved, or eaten, carbs like I am doing now, and so, I believe there must be a reason for this, and for once in my life, I am not going to deny what my body – our baby – is asking for.

I have said time and time again that unless you have physically experienced a mental health issue, you will never fully understand – no matter how much training you have had. I had two incredible (NHS) therapists providing me CBT and CAT over the last few years but for both of them I always felt (particularly the first) that you just don’t really get it until you’ve had it – and I wouldn’t wish anyone to have mental health illness. We all have mental health – some of us are just lucky enough not to have mental health illness.

HOW is it, that 23 years ago – yes, you read that right, TWENTY THREE – the incredible Princess Diana opened up and spoke about her mental health – her eating disorder, and yet here we still are in 2018 with still so much stigma, a distinct lack of understanding, and with idiotic products on the market promising suppressed appetites and “miracle” weight loss to those vulnerable and desperate enough to believe them?

Bigger arms, bigger thighs, bigger bum and bigger boobs. But a beautiful, beautiful, healthy baby bump. Oh, and my “appetite suppressant” lollipop.. which as it happens I’ve just finished… time for crisps!

ALSO:

  • Rufus
  • My husband
  • My health
  • My friends and family

xxx

EDIT – to add the below screen grabs that I’ve had saved on my phone since forever, because they make such valid points! Thanks to AliceLiveing for the words!

Iceland 🇮🇸

Yes, that’s right.

The “beast of the east” hit the U.K. bringing with it snow like we haven’t seen for years (I’ve never seen snow like it in the almost 5 years we’ve lived in Somerset!) and of course, we head off to Iceland.. where there was only snow on the mountains or the empty, vast expanses of undisturbed countryside. We also had the most incredible, beautiful blue skied weather the entire time we were away. We were lucky!

We were extra lucky as well in that the day after our arrival was sunny, warm and there was NO icey wind! We had this day free (Northern Lights Tour being in the evening) and so walked for miles and miles exploring Reykjavik which we couldn’t have done if the wind had picked up and frozen us through (like it did many other days on tours!)

I also feel the need to mention that – my worries over communication barriers (due to being pregnant in case anything happened!) were completely stupid and unfounded. Icelanders speak better English than most English people.

Tap water is readily available pretty much everywhere as the water – obviously – is so pure and clean there. That was quite ideal for keeping costs down (that and the tip of taking out your own snacks (crisps, biscuits etc!) and the good old British way of sneaking a sandwich away at breakfast.. although when you hear the price of breakfast, at our hotel you won’t feel guilty!)

I booked the entire holiday through IcelandAir (selecting the “Northern Lights & Golden Circle Tour) for frankly not a bad price – with the exception of the Blue Lagoon experience as I could clearly see that as working out cheaper by booking directly with Blue Lagoon. Iceland is known for being expensive – and once you get there, it really is, but to be honest I thought the price of everything included for 5.5 days was quite reasonable.. it’s just when you get there you need to watch out! Tips below 🙃

I’d also like to just quickly add that the most popular form of travel for holiday-makers is coach. All absolutely fine (if a little random at times; small mini bus to pick you up from hotels, then get onto a coach at the bus station, but coach drops you back at hotels…🤔😂) however we all know some people are just assholes 🤣

So, as per, I’ll review by day/restaurant/trip/hotel. FYI we stayed in Reykjavik.

Iceland Air Hotel Marina

Our hotel was the only option we had when it came to booking our package. I was a bit annoyed as when I’d looked previously I’d had a choice of four + to book, but it turned out, this was a lucky only choice! The hotel is ideally situated for pretty much everything! Lots of great restaurants to be found opposite on the harbourside, and only a short walk from the main shopping street; Laugavegur, which you’ll find more great restaurants off of as well…

It was also pretty cool and quirky inside, and the bar and restaurant inside (which I’ll review below), although expensive, seemed to be quite the place to be on a Friday night!

Something we also thought was really cool and clever at this hotel, was the option to hang a “no room clean” card on your door handle. You’d then be credited back a 750ISK (roughly £5, so not a lot when you see the prices, but better than nothing and a good idea!) voucher to use within the hotel restaurant/bar. Presumably you can put these towards breakfast too but we stupidly didn’t collect our vouchers until the second to last day.. 🤦🏽‍♀️

Mumma and bump by open fire in the hotel reception

Iceland Air Hotel Marina Bar/Restaurant

We ate here on the evening we arrived – purely because thanks to the UK’s snowmageddon we’d had a super long day travelling (needlessly as Heathrow saw ZERO snow 😂), I’d slept badly the night before, plus I’m pregnant so just ALWAYS tired apparently 🙄😂. Wow. We spent £95 in a flash on two beers, one non alcoholic cocktail, a shared starter (calamari: average), a burger (James was happy but I thought it average) and a lamb dinner (again, average!!). Yep – Iceland prices had hit, hard! So although lively and popular with Icelanders – I wouldn’t recommend it for anything other than using up your vouchers!

We also, stupidly, ate breakfast here most days. Stupidly because on days we didn’t have an early pick up – we could have gone elsewhere for half the price (literally) and a much better choice!! (See below when we visited Cafe Paris). Breakfast in the hotel was charged at 6,600ISK 😳 yep, that’s almost £50 for two people for a cold buffet option!!! If you mentioned you wanted to make/take a sandwich out, they’d charge you another few thousand ISK.. so just slyly wrap in a napkin and whisk away discreetly!!

Icelandic Fish and Chips 🥔 (can’t get the website to work!)

A recommendation by several friends who’ve previously visited Iceland! And a good one! Not entirely traditional – you get an option of fresh fish (battered) caught that day, and, as is the norm for Iceland, the “chips”* were crunchy new potatoes – which I’m normally not a fan of, but these (I chose the rosemary ones) were DELICIOUS! *much like the rest of the world, “fries” are what the U.K. (correctly 🤣🤣) calls chips… All served on a bed of salad of your choice (I chose mango, I’ve never seen mango like it, but it tasted amazing!). We really enjoyed this meal which was much better than the hotel, and almost a full £50 cheaper for the same amount of food and drinks 😳!! Highly recommend!

Northern Lights Tour

I think I am only now mentioning the time of year we travelled – early March – and purely because I *think* this is a really great time to see the Northern Lights. We were lucky to be fascinated by them for several hours in a couple of different locations, and from what we can tell from following our tour guide on Facebook, March (this year at least!) generally seems to be a good time to see them. Husband took some particularly fantastic pictures (my fav is below) on his Samsung phone – but I will advise that iPhones just WILL NOT capture the Aurora Borealis. Don’t rely on an iPhone if you want your own pictures!

What we also thought was brilliant, was that (for our tour guide at least!) any pictures he took (including ones with us in them, see below!) he put on Facebook the next day for free. FREE! And makes a point in telling his guests that they have “absolute bragging rights” to those photos!! I KNOW! You’d normally be ripped off a good £20 or so for images taken whilst on a trip etc!!

Your package for Northern Lights/Golden Circle Tour when booked through IcelandAir also includes free entry into the Aurora Borealis tourist centre which is really good, informative and with a GREAT room displaying many pictures from past Northern Lights experiences, so make sure you stop by! (We also particularly loved the pin-map of where visitors were from!!)

Adding our pin to the U.K.!

Golden Circle Tour

Really good tour, and includes a lot (although some of it a little random!). Biggest downside for me was that, booking through IcelandAir it was automatically set for us the day after our Northern Lights Tour. It’s quite a long day (remember I am pregnant!), with an early start after a late night return from the Northern Lights! Had I thought about it/twigged/noticed when booking I’d have switched some days around so that I wasn’t utterly exhausted by the end of it!

Onto the tour.. now, the slightly random part of it is the first stop – which they go on and on about, mostly talking about horses and this horse farm.. (I was dipping in and out of consciousness because 1) tired and 2) never fail to nod off briefly from the movement of a “car” 😂) only to get there and find.. 5 horses, but a HUGE tomato 🍅 farm… yeah, we were confused to.. presumably it’s a moneymaker as they sell produce from the farm (not just tomatoes 😂, but chutney, passata, pickles/oils etc. They also had a fresh food part where you could buy tomato soup, which I’ll admit did smell amazing but was super crazy expensive (1,100ISK (almost £8) for a 500g jar of passata…!)

Onto the next stop – and my favourite of the day, the live Geysir, named Strokkur which erupted every few minutes and was fascinating to watch.. (sorry about my annoying voice.. we had stood in the same spot earlier and watched without filming.. or getting drenched!)

Next stop was Gulfoss Waterfall, which was stunning to look at. Sadly due to the weather we couldn’t walk quite as far up to it as you can on other occasions, but we got some good pictures. One thing I will say here is that the wind was insane and pure ice sheets. Get all of your windproof warm layers on for here – I couldn’t feel my thighs at one point with three pairs of tights on (none windproof as none fit over the bump!). My picture is from the top, you can normally walk further up to the waterfall from the bottom.

Final stop was to the Pingvellir National Park where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are pulling apart from each other (source). Here you also take a short walk (if you want!) up Kerið, a volcanic crater lake, with some further stunning views.

Höfnin Restaurant (Harbourside)

This one had us laughing. We liked the look of the menu so nipped here for dinner… James ordered the fish stew, and I ordered the vegetable lasagna (what did I say about carbs!!). We had to laugh because the waitress explained in detail the fish stew because apparently it is often not what people expect and so they’ve begun explaining it… what she didn’t explain was that the lasagne, although very yummy, was not lasagne, but ratatouille. We did laugh. On the flip side they had delicious bread and amazing butter (we think, having learnt from another restaurant, Skyr butter – I’m addicted!) and they even topped us up. I don’t think we’d return, but still far cheaper than the hotel!

Blue Lagoon

😍 Information on their website states that the Blue Lagoon is perfectly safe for pregnant women.. from an additional Instagram stalk of the Blue Lagoon hashtag, I also saw another IVF-pregnant lady enjoying the Blue Lagoon a few weeks before we went out, at a few weeks less pregnant than I was. So I felt comfortable, even though the temperature is advertised as 37-40 degrees, like a hot tub which is not recommended for pregnant ladies.. as soon as I stepped in the water I knew it was fine. It was lovely and warm, and much like the sea there were some warmer spots – but I never felt uncomfortable or too hot. Probably because the air temperature your head is at is COLD ☃️🤣.

You HAVE to pre-book the Blue Lagoon online. Which is really simple to do. Only reason I didn’t book through Iceland Air is because as far as I could see I could get a better package (Premium Package) for less by booking direct with them. This also meant we had zero queues when we arrived with a bus load of other people – unexpected but very ideal!

I can only assume the pre-booking, alongside individual feelings of having had enough, is how they keep the Blue Lagoon from becoming overcrowded, because it didn’t feel overcrowded at any point – despite you not having a “get out” time, meaning really you could stay all day if you wanted! In all we spent about 1.5-2hours in the water. If you have the time, and can get a space, I found the lounger style deck chairs in the “relaxation area” super comfy and could easily have fallen asleep (a particularly loud snoring guy a few people down DID fall asleep which had a few of us in giggles 😂)

Bumpy and Mumma keeping warm!

Lava Restaurant @ Blue Lagoon

😍😍 I added this reservation to our booking based purely on the menu once again – and wasn’t disappointed! The food was INCREDIBLE (pictured, my mussels starter with more yummy crispy new potatoes; basically a main!), the restaurant beautiful and the service really lovely and friendly (our waitress offered to go out of her way when she realised I was pregnant but wanted the mussels as they were cooked in beer). Once again they had delicious bread with yummy “healthy!” Skyr butter which I can’t get enough of and we are planning to try and make this weekend! I even had a cheeky glass of sparkling wine which came free with the booking because it was SO delicious!

Lava Tunnel Tour

Added this onto our trip as a bit of a random added extra. I didn’t think a glacier typed walk would be sensible when pregnant, so this kind of felt like the next best thing, and it was kind of cool! I can’t really say too much without giving away, but if you’ve got some spare time you want to fill, I wouldn’t change having done it. More info here (we did the standard tour!). However I will mention that there was a lot of phallus looking icicles 🤣 which also reminds me that Iceland seemed to have a bit of a thing about phallus’ as there was a whole Phallus museum on the main shopping street in Reykjavik (we didn’t visit!!)

Sægreifinn

I just wanted to mention this restaurant which had been recommended but we didn’t make it to.. for a couple of reasons.. we left it until our last night.. faffed around despite being hungry and then headed over for 7.30pm.. only to find a note on the door saying they were shutting at 8pm that night.. 🤦🏽‍♀️ there was only one couple in the queue in front of us, so we waited in the queue anyway but after ten or so mins hadn’t moved.. I was hungry (🤰🏽) and frankly, didn’t feel like the fish that was on offer (baby LOVES carbs 😂) so we headed to below mentioned burger joint!

However – like I said, his had been heavily recommended to us as – although looking like a little tin shack – having fresh fish, caught that day, on offer. I have to say – it certainly all looked super fresh and very yummy and had I not by this point been ravenous for carbs, we’d have definitely stayed and eaten!

Hamborgarabúlla Tómasar (beside hotel)

Website not helpful at all.. but basically this is the decent kind of “fast food”. Freshly prepared burgers served with chips (fries) or even sweet potato chips! Lots of different options and sauces, and basically for someone who was just craving some “dirty” food – this happily appeased my ever-growing belly! I’m actually hungry again just thinking about it!! 😋

Cafe Paris

Well, my biggest Iceland regret is not looking this up sooner thus enjoying better breakfasts for a better price here! We only visited on our last day but I’d highly recommend it for a cute venue, yummy menu (I needed to go back more days as there was several things I neeeeeded 🤤!)

We’d both certainly recommend looking around for breakfasts rather than getting ripped off at your hotel if you don’t already have it included!

Lastly – although I am not a beer drinker at the best of times (ever), and obviously wasn’t drinking at all due to #IVFBabyOnBoard (!) apparently the Icelandic beer is GOOD.

As always, feel free to ask any questions!

x

Thank you, BCRM x

We will never be able to thank the amazing team at BCRM enough for what they have achieved for us. If it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t be pregnant with what felt like the impossible – our first little miracle IVF baby – and we wouldn’t have four potential siblings frozen for future.

But sure – any fertility clinic can likely get you pregnant and achieve the seemingly impossible, right?

I actually only chose Bristol Centre for Reproductive Medicine over slightly-closer-to-us Exeter Fertility, because my best friend and godchildren live in Bristol; so I figured after any major stress or upset I could nip in on them and have a hug and make it all better…

Except that was never the case, because the team at BCRM really, genuinely care for you. Yes, there is a therapist available for [mental health] support – let’s face it, battling infertility isn’t easy – but, stubborn old me was done with talking to therapists. However, I never needed to see her anyway, because they take the time to find out about you, care for you, and if you need a hug, they’ll give you one. And in my simple opinion – a hug fixes everything! The nurses and HCA’s there are some of my favourite people on Earth now.. I hope they never change and the team stays the same forevermore…! They’ve got tonnes of patients to see but they won’t let you out that door if they feel like something is up with you – they’ll coax it out and you’ll feel better for it…

I am so glad we were squeezed in before the NHS funding was removed from BCRM, as I really didn’t want to move clinics and have a potentially less supportive team!

Extra special thanks to Jane our “named nurse”, Carrie who impregnated us (😂) Anne, Lydia, Jackie and Sue.

All the flowers, cake and words in the world will never be enough, but thank you BCRM, and I hope that you do all know – really know – how amazing you all are xx