Love yourself

In a world full of so much noise, terror, corruption and bulls**t, today I despair. This blog post today focuses on you and looking inside, to build a stronger you for everything you believe in, for what you want to achieve in your life and for everyone you care about.

What’s more important than you?
The answer is nothing.

Now that sounds self centred and arrogant, but it isn’t. If you’re not your best, how can you achieve your best? How can you be the best friend? Although there are many people looking out for you in life, the only person that really can, 100% of the time, is you! Now is the time to make sure you’re looking out for yourself.

My week in bed has been helpful in this realisation. Like most people, my brain can be my enemy, telling me I’m rubbish at this, crap at that, fat, ugly, moody…blah blah blah. Immediately after my diagnosis a couple of weeks ago, this critic in my brain went into over drive and was making me feel down, weak and like a failure. This week, I decided I’d had enough.

I’ve spent the last week focusing on making myself as strong and healthy as possible – I can only do this fully if I respect myself. If I had maintained the negative view of my heart as weak and pathetic, then I would have continued to see my whole body as that. With this view I wasn’t resting and eating well as I’d been told to do (don’t tell the docs!).

This respect went beyond just my heart but into all of the negative thoughts and critique I get from myself. I had to turn things around:

‘You’re not achieving anything’ – umm yes I am, I growing a frickin’ healthy baby thanks. Isn’t this one of the best achievements of my life you nutter?!

‘You’re getting fat just lying here’ – YOU AREN’T FAT YOU ARE PREGNANT! (there’s nothing like pregnancy to make you realise how thin you were before btw – perspective is amazing).

‘You’re losing all your fitness and muscle’ – Lucy, it’s been 2 weeks. I think you can get it back. Enjoy not having to drag yourself to the gym 3 times a week.

‘You’re going to be a rubbish mum if you’re recovering in hospital for weeks’ – The situation is what it is, and you don’t even know how this is going to go yet. You will be a great mum, no matter how this journey starts out.

‘You’re letting your brides down. You’re a rubbish wedding planner’ – This has been the biggest learning of all. I was honest with all of the brides about my situation and was scared of how they would react to me ‘pausing’ their wedding planning for 2 months. Every single one responded with support and respect for my honesty and it made me realise how ahead we are with everything, how happy they are with my work and my relationship with them. It’s given me perspective I didn’t have before and so much more confidence.

As well as almost quite literally talking to myself, I’ve taken some other steps to help move towards loving myself and moving into the strongest position I can be going into hospital.

– I’ve written a little list of positive messages that I read to myself every morning. It’s doing me the world of good and changing my mindset before the critic in my head even has the chance to wake up.

– I write my journal as often as I can. This helps me to really understand how I’m feeling in that moment. It’s helping my to get over old fears – like being a patient in The Brompton hospital where my brother got really sick.

– I’ve made a plan (obvs) – for whether things go well, or not so well and talked it through with Ben so we feel prepared somewhat. I’ve then attempted to surrender; to let go knowing that I can’t control what’s coming.

– As much as my body has allowed me, I’ve done things that make me feel good: a simple hair cut and getting my nails done, a date night with Ben, seeing my best friends. It’s been amazing and supported my positive messages.

Most importantly to me I am grateful and appreciate the small things, as often as I can. I have so many things to be grateful for, including having a big baby inside my tummy. Something I’ve always wanted (maybe not the ‘big’ bit) and have been really excited about.

This relates to a specific time in my life, but it’s something we should all being doing, all of the time. The most important thing in your life is you. I’m still far off from ‘loving myself’ but I’m getting there and I know it will help me to be a the best mum, wife, friend, wedding planner and all round Lucy that I can be. And just to be clear, I don’t need to be better, that’s a critique in itself!

Give it a go. Fall in love with yourself!


Troubles of the heart (again)

This week we got the news that I may only be pregnant for a few more weeks. My heart has grown significantly – it is dilated (as my condition ‘dilated cardiomyopathy’ suggests) beyond what the doctors would deem safe. So I’ve entered into a balancing act between my heart getting so big that they have to act to protect me, and my bambino being big enough to come out.

The ideal scenario is my heart holds out for another 4 weeks and I can get to 36 weeks and have a cesarean. It is however possible that my heart could continually deteriorate or change at any time and they’d have to act immediately, despite poor little bambinos size.

Luckily, and most importantly, bambino is growing very well – as you’d imagine with big parents like me and Ben. He’s already 5lb (at 31 weeks) and lovely and long. So we just need him to gain a bit more chub as quickly as he can and all should be well.

It’s an unsettling and unknown time for us but positivity is the only medicine. I’m confident that things will work out no matter which way it goes. I’ve come to realise that my body is amazing and, despite my heart, it is very strong and has been an excellent baby making machine so far. I have confidence in it to get through this part and then the recovery, however that looks for both me and bambino.

I’ve now got the lovely job of relaxing – doctors orders! And not something I’m good at. With my heart struggling and my heart symptoms loud and clear, all I can do is take it easy and cut any stresses and strains from my life. I said an impromptu goodbye to my lovely colleagues today after being signed off work sick. You’ll mostly find me chilling at home with Winnie. Visitors welcome!

Anyone out there with a heart problem that may be reading this pre or during pregnancy – know that I wouldn’t change my decision to go ahead with pregnancy for anything. I have loved my pregnancy and although this is a little scary, I have confidence in my body and my incredible doctors at The Brompton and Chelsea and Westminster to get us through as safely as possible. The risks were high and explained to us at the start but it’s going to be worth it!

This week, the doctors monitored my heart with an ECG for 48 hours. It made sleep even more of a challenge!

The third trimester

So here we are, at that pregnancy milestone I knew nothing about until very recently – The Third Trimester. The last part of the road to becoming a mum and meeting the little boy that’s (kicking my guts out everyday and) growing in me.

When my friends have been pregnant, I’ve always imagined pregnancy a bit like a marathon. I’m sure my friends would have laughed and some may have even been offended by my analogy. But having (almost) gone through both experiences, I don’t think I was too far off.

I have had similar anxieties, albeit on totally different levels, during the two experiences. Should I do it? Can I do it? Will my body support me through it? Will me heart be OK? What should I be eating? How much should I be exercising? Am I resting enough? What else do I need to learn to make this the best possible experience? All of these questions have come up when I’ve run a marathon and throughout pregnancy.

In both cases, I obviously made the decision to go ahead, I took the first step and at that point you never really know what you’re getting into. This week’s been a hard one for me as I’ve had a huge realisation that I really have no idea what’s coming. I’ve been surprisingly relaxed through the pregnancy to date and I’ve let go of my controlling nature and honestly thoroughly enjoyed the freedom of the unknown. But this week challenged this new ‘laid back Lucy’.

On Tuesday I had my check in appointment at Chelsea & Westminster with the team of Cardiac Obstetricians (they’re the people that help you to give birth, but also cardiac specialists) and quite frankly, shit got real. All of the worries and risks and things I’d dealt with and parked in the early stage of pregnancy came up again as we talked through the realities of the next 8-10 weeks to the point of giving birth. The final 6 miles as I’m calling it. I knew this point would come but it came as quite a shock.

The reality is that this is the crunch point and the point when the risks rise significantly. Thankfully the risks are really on me and bambino looks like he’s doing really well and has a clear run out of my belly no matter what happens! I’ve got appointments almost every week to check bambino’s growth and my heart. I came away feeling scared and overwhelmed by the vast unknown and the myriad of ways this could all go.

My coping mechanisms that day; an Honest Burger (yes!), a good cry, letting myself feel sorry for myself, going to bed for a while and talking to friends.

And then I got out my journal. I went back to how I felt right at the start, as I knew they were similar worries. Reading this over, alongside the facts about these risks that I’d written down at the time helped massively. I wrote out my concerns and the other anxieties this has triggered and I started to be able to see through to the positives.

Beyond the absolute miracle that I have Ben’s baby growing inside me, and that bambino is very healthy and active, I still have my health. My body has supported me this far and it’s doing a bloody amazing job considering. It’s got me through 2 marathons, why can’t it get me through this?

I’ve got a team of amazing doctors who won’t leave me alone for checking up on me. If anything does happen, it will get spotted and me and bambino will have the best possible care the NHS can give.

So, here’s to those final miles, I may have hit the wall but it’s all in the head from here on in. Bring on the final 200 metres (giving birth)!

Loving Life

I’m putting myself out there as one of those pregnant women that other pregnant women hate. I’m absolutely loving being pregnant! Don’t get me wrong, it’s not been easy but it’s certainly an incredible experience now that I’m over the flu-like symptoms, feeling out of control of my weight and fear of the future. This week marks a major milestone in that our baby is ‘viable’ and I can no longer see my feet – the bambino is in the way. I know what it’s like to have a beer belly and I don’t know how people do it!

It’s weird, you hear all these stereotypes about pregnant women being ‘moody’ or having mood swings. It’s justified – it’s bloody hard work growing a human on top of everything else we’re trying to do but (shock horror) I don’t think it’s true! It may be one long happy mood swing, or hormones actually working in my favour for once but I’m just really happy almost all of the time! If you’ve read my blogs before, you’ll know that like most of us, I suffer on life’s up and downs but this is one big up at the moment. Pregnancy has made me a nicer, happier person!

It may be the way that people actually stop and talk to you. Strangers start conversations about your bump and the pregnancy. It’s a real conversation starter and I love it. Instead of the normal chain of events where I try and chat to strangers and they think I’m a nutter, I’m actually getting something back these days…I love it!

It could be that pregnancy hasn’t been as scary as my crazy brain had made me believe it would be. The Doctors remain happy with my progress and are confident in the rest of my pregnancy. Now that everyone’s a bit more relaxed with the pregnancy, the appointment schedule has become a bit lighter which a huge relief.

Maybe I’m now in the swing of things – don’t get me wrong, there’s loads I don’t know and lots to learn – but I’ve got my head around the minefield of baby crap that is needed and have my simple, cut down ‘musts’ list of what we need.

And it’s spring! The flowers are blooming and the sun is out…for now!

Oh I know why I’m so happy….A YEAR OFF WORK! Well, work as I have known it.

I think the main thing is that for the first time in my life, I have to be truly laid back about my future. I can’t control much at all, what’s happening to my body, when I’ll have our bambino, what I’ll be doing and how I’ll feel this time next year. It’s a welcome relief from my control freak personality and I really do love it.

I’ve even loved this last week which has literally seen all symptoms that were previously absent, come at once…not sleeping well, bloating, dry skin, nosebleeds, harder breathing, tiring very easily, heartburn, nausea…but I’m taking it and staying positive.

I’ll continue taking it week by week and although I know my mood may not stay this great for much longer, I’m so grateful for how I’ve felt so far. Thanks body!

19 weeks – scans galore!


Well it’s now half way through this mini-marathon and I’m pleased to say that things are still going well and better than I planned. I’ve hit more than one milestone since my last post…

Today I had a scan of my heart and it looks like it’s coping well. I usually call my heart dodgy/weak/pathetic but I’m strangely proud of it. What a legend for growing a little someone inside me and doing a great job of trying to be normal. Thanks heart and thanks body for doing what you’re supposed to.

We also saw our bambino again today during a fetal heart scan. What an incredible experience that was! Seeing great detail of bambino there on the screen and such close ups of it’s tiny little heart. The incredible Brompton Doctor measured everything from the size of the heart wall, to the electrical balance and the circumference of it’s artery. Simply amazing!

It’s fair to say that in the lead up to today’s scans, I’ve been quite anxious again. I’ve been really focusing on looking after myself. I think I have just hit that stage where a bit more energy comes back. I’ve found focus in doing just one thing per day on top of going to work. So before where I was trying to work, then go spinning, then do some weddings work (not possible!), of an evening I can now either do gym / or weddings / or see a friend for example. Glad it only took my 5 months to work that one out!

I’ve been finding exercise much harder in the last 2 weeks and actually had to stop at spinning last night for the first time ever. Previously, I’d be cycling away, jumping about feeling strong and now I’m slow and even have to stop. But that’s OK. Although I’ve found some more energy, I’ve actually lost ‘power’. I’ve been reading about this and it’s due to heart pumping more blood, generally working harder and working at a higher heart rate even just at rest. Best to keep taking it easy I think!

I’ve also found some blooming’ game changers:

I look as smug as this lady when I'm asleep now.

I look as smug as this lady when I’m asleep now.

– How to get a good night’s sleep – a monster 12 ft maternity pillow!

– Pregnancy massage – wow, just wow

– Pregnancy clothes – yay, I don’t just feel like I’ve got too fat for my clothes and sad that I can’t wear my faves!

– Some more semi-healthy indulgence food finds – look for the coconut collaborative dairy free choc pots! That’s all you need to know.

And with more energy, more relaxation and some game changers, has come that much needed improvement in my colitis symptoms. Thank you body, I’m becoming a big fan of you!

16 weeks pregnant


In July last year, after a couple of consistent reports showing a decline in my heart function, I was told pretty clearly by my heart doctor (the legendary Dr Prasad) that if Ben and I wanted to have children, I needed to “get on with it”. Apparently I was the healthiest and strongest I was ever likely to be and we had a ‘safe window’ in which to have a child.

This news was much to Ben’s delight as he was really keen to become a dad. What wasn’t so cool was that there were/are significant risks to me and potential baby of going through this whole process (ie. death and heart transplants so not the lightest of topics). Our first step was to get our heads round all of the risks and get hold of the facts through various meetings with the heart team at The Brompton and Chelsea and Westminster hospitals who would, together, look after me should I get pregnant.

We got to grips with the risks and, although significant we decided that we wanted to see how this would play out rather than spend our whole lives wondering. In October we were ready. Just 1 month and 3 pregnancy tests later (I had to be sure!) – I was pregnant. Once I’d got over the shock of how bloody quick it all was, I was extremely excited about the adventure ahead. It’s fair to say I was also very nervous and probably quite pessimistic about how things would go at the beginning.

I had some serious heart health demons to get over. For a while I kept thinking about whether I’d need a heart transplant, or whether I may even die. Whether the baby would be sick, or may even die…at any point in it’s life. Right now I can see that was just the fear talking and it’s quite irrational but back then, it was very real and stopped me sleeping.

And then there were the ‘fat demons’. I’ve always been a bit funny about my weight (something about being tall and chubby when I was younger) and I was initially scared of being out of control of my weight and getting fat. Another irrational worry it turns out. Yes I’ll put on weight but it doesn’t have to be a crazy amount and I’m totally in control of that part with what I eat and how much I exercise.

Then there were the ‘guilt demons’. Letting work down, ‘pausing’ my career and my weddings business while I selfishly have a little one. This took time too and I came to accept and realise that this baby was far more important than any of those things. I think this moment came when we ‘met’ our baby at the 12 weeks scan. Suddenly everything was real and nothing else mattered.

I’ve been pushing myself to relax and find new ways of dealing with the above. Accepting that I can control some things and must let go of the things I can’t control has been a huge step. It’s my new life motto! 2 things that have helped the most have been this book, ‘How to Grow a baby’ which covers the main appointments and stages of pregnancy in a really light hearted, personable way. Then there’s the ‘yesmum’ cards that have helped me focus on self love and grounding myself in the fact that I’m actually pregnant (photo below)!


So, it turns out being pregnant can be hard at times (queue all mums thinking, ‘she has no idea what’s coming’)! Keeping up with my normal colitis diet has been hard – green veggies make me feel sick and I constantly want naughty carbs. That mixed with some of those demons has made my colitis a little bad. I’ve introduced fruity smoothies with some greens to try and get these into my diet – game changer.

Everything is hard when you have the insane pregnancy tiredness. I’ve never felt so wiped out in my life. Despite this, I’ve managed to keep up the exercise and have even been doing spinning weekly like before I was pregnant as advised by my doctor. I’ve also started a personal trainer to help me get stronger for when I’m huge and for the birth.

The Cons so far

Literally none of your clothes fit properly.
Finding a comfortable sleeping position is impossible.
Switching your brain off at night is a real challenge. Sleepless nights are common.
Not being able to tell everyone that you love! Hardest secret ever!
Feeling out of control of your body and your size.
Turning into a forgetful div.

The Pros so far

Amazing little life miracle growing in your belly!
No option but to just go with it, somehow makes it a calmer experience at times.
My hospital bingo score is improving with Chelsea and Westminster and East Surrey now ticked off.
It’s the best excuse ever to put your feet up!

I think I’ve managed to stay relatively sane thanks to Ben, my close friends and the amazing Brompton team who make me feel so safe and looked after. They’re on call at any time should I have any concerns at all. I’ll be seeing them monthly and they’ll be keeping a close eye on mine and our baby’s heart.

So for now, I’ve got to try and stay active while the bump’s not too big, eat those smoothies, keep on top of my appointments and above all listen to my body and trust it. To be fair, it’s been pretty good to me over the years. Even though it has a chance of letting me down, I’m determined to enjoy this part of my life and I won’t let my silly heart or tummy ruin it for us.

So what’s next? In 2 weeks I have another echo of my heart and an echo of the baby’s heart. I’ll keep you posted




It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Is it?

As the winter nights draw in, many of us will be missing that feeling of warmth and light. I certainly am!

At this time of year it’s important to adapt to these changes and to prepare ourselves for the long winter ahead. This is of course the time when we’re most susceptible to low moods, low energy and illness. I definitely struggle with them all! I’ve been having a think about the things that have worked for me in the past so that I can have the best shot at having a happy and healthy winter, and I’ve also found some new ideas to try and make this the easiest winter yet.

First off, I’m changing my diet slightly. Nothing too dramatic but it’s important to change over to seasonal foods which gel with the body and give it the energy it needs. Lots of root veg, broths and nice warm foods. I’ve made my first batch of bone broth and look forward to hearty homemade soups with this immune boosting, inflammation cooling base. This is one of my favourite recipes.

I’ve been struggling a bit with my appetite. Or maybe it’s my greed! I just want to eat all of the time, which I think it normal at this time of year. This is where discipline comes in. I don’t wish to pile on the pounds so am trying to have handy snacks around like seeds, chicken and dried mango for when I need a sweetener. I’m also revising the hearty meals which fill you up but full of nutrients and good energy, like our fish pie.

I’m someone that’s always cold through the winter, so a cuppa is always in hand. I’ve gotten into bad habits and have been having too many caffeine cuppas each day. This is bad for my colitis and my heart so it’s a mega no no. This week I started having just 2 caffeine cuppas a day, the rest will be lemon and ginger tea – my favourite. I’ve also given up cold drinks as they’re very bad for your system through winter. 7 days clean of diet coke! (friends, you know that’s a huge deal!)

Excitingly, we’ve just invested in a snazzy lamp alarm which slowly brightens up your room in the morning. So instead of waking up with a stark alarm in the pitch black, you slowly wake up from the light which acts a bit like a sunrise. It’s early doors but we think it’s a game changer.

So now I’ve got my eating habits in place, my new wake up routine, it’s all about having things to look forward to and lucky we have many birthdays and new babies on the way so exciting plans ahead! I will also book a holiday. Nothing beats having a holiday coming up to keep those spirits high.

Despite not wanting to leave the house in the dark, exercise is key. As always. I’ve found some new exercise classes I like that I look forward to and they definitely get me off the sofa! More appealing than a run in the dark could ever be. I’ve also got a homemade, home friendly mat workout routine for when I really can’t be bothered to go anywhere – no excuses!

And this year, thanks to meditation and the journalling I do, I’m aware of my thoughts and feelings than ever before and I’m really happy about this. Putting myself first remains key, especially as the winter will be trying for my mood and my colitis.

Good luck with your winter adaptations. We can make this the most wonderful time of the year!