Monday, 30 January 2012

visitors

Yesterday we had two separate visits from children, one 4 year old and one 18 month old (with their respective parents obviously). I don’t think we’ve ever had kids visit us before, which may be a reflection of our previous general interest level in other people’s kids, or just that not many of our friends or immediate family actually had kids until recently – probably a bit of both. Anyway, it was quickly obvious that a) we have no idea what to do with kids and b) that our house is totally not kid-proof. We tried to keep the 4 year old happy with offers of juice, biscuits and chocolate all the way from Switzerland but apparently he ‘doesn’t like those kind’, only the games on Mum’s i-Phone were of interest. The 18 month old of course went directly to the shelves that are full of knick-knacks and collectables, at grabbing height and probably not exactly child-safe. Hmmm. Anyway, I’m sure there are far worse thing than kids that don’t like Swiss chocolate (more for me!) and I figure we’ll work it all out as we go, and we’ve got a bit of time before ours will be mobile to put away all our adult stuff and replace it with smooth-edged, non-flammable, non-swallowable, non-breakable, crayon and vomit resistant stuff.

hot

Sleep is starting to evade me now. This is common apparently (another thing I didn’t realise – I thought since you were more tired you would sleep more, alas it seems to be just want to sleep more), but I am anyway blaming it on the heat. It mostly seems to have just been on the really hot days. Last night was especially lovely with the high temperature and the anticipation of rain that never seems to come and instead just heightens the humidity to unbearable. Baby was moving so much around 1-2am I started to convince myself it was getting heat stressed and suffering foetal distress. That didn’t help with the getting to sleep bit. It wasn’t of course, and after a certain amount of house pacing in a zombie-like state, re-opening all the windows some one else had closed (why oh why?), adjusting the blinds and other things that kept making annoying noises and more pacing, sleep returned.

Friday, 27 January 2012

nappies, nappies, nappies

I seem to have spent an inordinate amount of time lately thinking, reading and sadly even dreaming about nappies. Its all about wanting to make an informed choice but realising that doing that is not always straight forward. Intuitively, I'm not really keen on disposable nappies. But the name of the game is of course lessening the environmental impact. So, I want to be sure that the environmental impact of cloth nappies is significantly lower than disposables before I put us through the pain of using them - with all the washing and drying etc.
And, of course, all disposable and all cloth nappies are not the same. I'm sure this would have been a much easier comparison if cloth nappies were still just squares of cotton cloth that you fold up and pin on, but these days there's 'modern cloth nappies' that don't need folding or pins but can have all kinds of things in them apart from cotton like bamboo and hemp and microfibre and special waterproof coverings - all of which have their own kind chain of (poorly documented) environmental impact.
After wading through limited research results and pseudo information from all kinds of cloth nappy advocate groups etc (Oh yeah, turns out there's legions of people obsessed with nappies, eek, is this what motherhood does to you?), it seems to boil down to cloth nappies will have a smaller environmental impact but only if you wash them in large loads with a relatively efficient washing machine, don't use a tumble drier, or use them on more than one kid. This is basically because cotton uses massive amount of water and pesticides so the production part is really high impact. This part of the impact can be reduced if you get hemp or organic bamboo ones (but non-organic bamboo uses loads of chemicals in the processing which has a huge impact as well).
Or, to really reduce the impact, you could buy second hand-ones, the attractiveness of which might be tempered depending on how you feel about cloth that has already caught some other kids poo (I'm still undecided).
My personal favourite idea, from a website full of patterns and instructions to make your own nappies (where do these people get the time?!!), is the old t-shirt nappy. Totally recycled, easy and free (depending on how many old t-shirts you have).

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

desensitised

Going to all these childbirth preparation classes, has meant so many discussions about bodily functions, physiology and anatomy and seeing so many videos and pictures of naked women, ginormous breasts and babies sucking on huge nipples. I think I have become desensitised to it all and start to think this is OK fodder for normal conversation. I noticed yesterday that I was having a lengthy factual conversation with a colleague who has recently become a first-time Dad, whose wife is also a work colleague, neither of which I know that well, about their methods of post-birth contraception and only realising this was perhaps not the most appropriate workplace conversation (in an open office shared with 5 people) when he said ‘not that we are getting much practice in to need it’. Eek. We later moved the conversation onto prams instead.

33 weeks

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

no sleep til...?

according to the midwife running our childbirth education course (the final one was last night thankfully - it was good but enough), in the first few weeks of life the baby will feed 12 times a day, each time taking one hour, and be 'unsettled' (polite way of saying crying its head off) for 2-3 hours a day. That leaves 9 hours to fit in changing nappies, bathing baby, showering yourself, preparing and eating meals, doing the washing (including hanging and bringing in), dishes, housework, feeding/walking pets if you have them (thank god we don't!), doing your pelvic floor exercises, buying groceries, and sleep. hmm.
I'd like to think she was giving us a worst case scenario to mentally prepare us, but I know friends who have had babies recently that had pretty much this experience. But I also know they survived it well and are very happy.

Monday, 23 January 2012

snap decisions

As you would expect, the hospital has a set of standard procedures that they have to apply in a one-size-fits-all type of fashion to provide the overall safest, healthiest outcomes. However, as I am learning, just because it is the standard and generally recommended procedure, doesn’t mean you, as an individual patient, have to always follow it, or that’s its best for you. But that also means you have to know what the procedures are, why they do it and what the pros and cons are, which means getting totally swamped in information. And all of the ‘information’ is loaded with opinion and various motivations – people get very worked up about this stuff. Overwhelming.

Anyway. One of these standard procedures is a test at 36 weeks for Group B streptococcus. Sounds yuk, but its a common natural bacteria that people have without knowing about. The problem comes if you are pregnant and you have it in your, ahem, vagina, during birth then there is a small chance you could pass it onto the baby and then a small chance that the baby could get sick from it, and if they do get sick from it it can be very serious and can even cause death.

The issue with the test is that this bacteria is transient so if you have it at 36 weeks there’s nothing to say you will have it at the birth and vice versa. So, the test result may not really be meaningful, but a positive result will mean antibiotics at birth – which can have a variety of side-effects for you and baby, as well as a much greater chance of having to be induced – which might then lead to the dreaded ‘cascade of interventions’ (which basically means with each ‘unnatural’ intervention like being induced you’re far more likely to need the next more serious intervention like epidural, forceps or caesarean). But of course if you are positive, the antibiotics greatly reduce the chance of your baby getting the bacteria.

So at the last visit we were offered the standard test and had to decide whether to do it or not. Although I knew a fair bit it still felt like making a snap decision, and I’m not a 100% sure we made the right one. Still I’ve got a few weeks to change my mind I guess, and the midwife was more than happy with the decision which is reassuring. (we decided no test).

Friday, 20 January 2012

update

In case you're interested, I'm happy to report that, as expected, everything was normal (or 'perfect' as the midwife likes to say) at our check up this week. Apparently the uterus should be the same size as the number of weeks you are, so mine, at 32 weeks was, you guessed it, 32 cm. Blood pressure normal, baby heart beat normal. Weight gain since last visit (4 weeks ago), less than 1 kilo. Between weeks 24 and 28 it was over 4 kilos and between weeks 20 and 24 also less than 1 kilo. So its all very variable, but all good apparently.
and.. our plan for the end of the day appointment has also been working out very well. So far we've only had to wait about 5 minutes each time

midwives

Midwives are my new favourite kind of people. So far I've found the ones at the hospital are friendly and open, they seem to actually care and be interested in you and your progress, they listen and answer your questions without making you feel like an idiot (the opposite of which is usually my chief complaint about doctors), and they respect your opinions and choices - I'm assuming this is the case only so far and they don't let you make stupid choices. So when at this week's visit we were offered the options of seeing an actual doctor at our next visit or sticking with 'just' the midwife, I straight away said the midwife. Since the doctor isn't going to check anything different to the midwife and so far everything is going well, I figure I might as well stick with people I feel comfortable with and that will more than likely be at the actual birth and have one extra opportunity to get to know them a bit more. What do we need a doctor for anyway?

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

information

The childbirth classes have armed me with a lots of information but also a lot of questions. Our midwife will be bombarded tonight! Strangely enough the descriptions of and information on the normal natural birth made it sound far, far preferable to the drugged birth, caeserean birth, or complicated birth. So of course I'm keen to do whatever I can to help avoid those things or, not get too stressed\scared about them if it happens that way - I'm not sure that these two things aren't incompatible.
One of the things I was surprised about what how anti the 'hard stuff', being epidural and pethidine, the hospital midwife who ran the course was. I was never keen on the drug options but after that chapter of the course I am even less keen and even quite worried about them and their side effects in case they might become necessary for me. I had heard lots of stories about hospitals encouraging you to take the hard stuff so I guess I was expecting the course to, if anything, be more pro than anti. In the end her real point was that too many people take the drugs without being aware of or thinking about the side effects - which can be quite significant, so she wasn't against their use per se, since they are often needed, but against their use without thought. It all makes sense to me and I'm glad to have some of my pre-conceived ideas about hospital staff be wrong and see that they are keen on the process being as natural as possible, although I still suspect many of the other staff, especially the doctors (as opposed to midwives) might not have the same approach.

differences of opinion

Yesterday someone at work told me I don't look very big for my stage of pregnancy, today it was 'not due til March? gee you wouldn't want to be getting much bigger, you're already pretty big!' (yes, tactful people at my work). Its all in the eye of the beholder it seems. So, I'm looking forward to find out what the midwife says this afternoon, about how much weight I've put on and, I guess more relevantly, the size of my uterus. So far each time its been exactly the size they say it should be, which feels pretty good to me (even if if does make you feel somewhat 'average'). I don't feel like I'm huge so I'm guessing it'll still be 'just right'.

32 weeks

Monday, 16 January 2012

technicolour

Warning: tune out now if you’re squeamish.

In the second instalment of the calmbirth class yesterday the midwife recommended pre-expressing some breast milk (or actually ‘colostrum’ which is what it is called at the beginning when its got more fat and protein and stuff in it), freezing it and then taking it to the hospital with you for the birth. It apparently can be very helpful if your baby has trouble with starting to feed.

Anyway. I’ve always imagined the breast milk would like more or less like cows milk, i.e. would be white. So, I was kinda surprised to discover on experimentation that at the moment mine is yellow, and not some pale off-white type yellow, – bright bold technicolour yellow. Weird. Turns out this is the normal colour of the colostrum part, but its gonna go to white later, which now sounds rather boring.

Friday, 13 January 2012

love and money

All this baby gear is pretty bloody expensive. Several people are offering me second hand stuff which I think seems like a good idea - as long as its all clean, in working order and safe (and not too ugly of course!). There are however many people who think this is terrible, and you should only have the newest, best, most expensive of everything for your bundle of joy. and they'll make you feel bad about the idea of second hand - probably to help justify to themselves the ludicrous amounts they are spending on cute designer this and that. Implying how much you spend is a sign of how much you love the baby. Of course I don't plan to scrimp on quality or safety if it would have any impact on us or the baby, but I don't think it will make baby any happier to have a room full of matching designer furniture and accessories. and as my partner says, I don't remember any of the products I had as a baby. So I figure instead of spending 10 grand on all the first stuff for the baby (as one of my colleagues did), I could spend 1 grand and put the other 9 grand in a high interest term deposit for the baby when its no longer a baby - bet baby would remember and appreciate that more! or just spend the extra on more useful, practical or fun things and activities that will help improve baby's and our lives.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

stretch or be cut

One of my biggest fears/dreads about the birth is the possibility of Episiotomy. If you haven't heard of this, as I imagine most people who have not had a baby haven't, there's no nice way to describe it - its a cut to the tissue/muscle (perineum) between the vagina and the anus, eek. The midwife running our hospital Childbirth class did not make me feel any better about this by informing us that this cut is often performed with a pair of scissors and no anaesthetic, eek, eek! This is because by the time its apparent its necessary there often isn't time to wait for the anaesthetic to be effective. Maybe by the time you get to that point you have enough pain elsewhere that you don't notice the pain of a scissor cut 'down there', but somehow being cut just seems so much worse to me.
I'm really hoping my perineum is going to prove super stretchy!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Goodbye boobs, hello milk cartons

We were told in Childbirth education that apparently the WHO recommends that babies should be breast fed until they are 2 years old. Eek - 2 years! That seems like a very very long time to me. And, if you have two kids that could mean 4 continuous years of breast feeding. Of course I'm all for breast-feeding and definitely appreciate its the natural, normal, best way of feeding a baby but 2 years just seems so long. Call me squeamish and warped by society but something always makes me uncomfortable about walking and talking toddlers still breast-feeding.

31 weeks

Monday, 9 January 2012

calmbirth

Yesterday’s activity was the first day of a 2-day class in calmbirth. Might sound like a contradiction in terms, but I take it as being relative. I was pretty sure it was going to be useful but I was kind of apprehensive that it (and the other participants) might turn out to be a bit hippy-drippy too much feeling and new-agey for sceptical types like us. But on the whole it was quite practical and down-to-earth and I must admit I really enjoyed it and I felt a lot more relaxed at the end of the day. Yesterday was mostly about techniques to help stop you being afraid, tensing up your muscles and therefore feeling more pain. As such there was lots on breathing (calmly not in that huffy puffy way American TV shows always feature in labour scenes) and relaxing, and ways for increasing levels of hormones helpful for relaxation of your muscles, and visualisation (this bit I’m still not sure about). In some ways it’s a lot of stuff that’s logical or you partly know already, but I think just having some one else pointing it out and go through it all in a structured way, demonstrate things and doing this together as a couple is worth the price of admission (which wasn’t exactly cheap). Next week is apparently a lot more ‘hands-on’ so that should be interesting.

Tonight is the first part of the hospital’s childbirth education classes which I imagine will be somewhat of a contrast in vibe.

Friday, 6 January 2012

motherhood

As you might imagine, impending motherhood leads me often to thinking about my own mother and my relationship with her. I believe I have, and generally always have had a pretty good relationship with my mother. Sure she frustrates me endlessly, and despite acknowledging and being grateful for everything she’s done for me, there still remains those niggly things for which forgiveness doesn’t come easy, but those are normal mother-relationship things, right?
So, in thinking about motherhood, I’m constantly yo-yoing between hoping I can do as good a job as my Mum – I mean, as my sister and I always say, look how great we turned out!, and promising myself I won’t do this and that the way my Mum did.
Only time will tell I guess, but I’m inclined to think that key is not to over think or over-analyse these things.

panic

With the mayhem of Christmas, end-of-year, holidays, and New Years over, I’ve come back to regular life to realise its time to start panicking. While I’m sure (and people keep saying) you can never really be ready, you can undoubtedly be a lot more ready than we are, or than I think we are. This feeling I think is largely due to the fact that we haven’t bought anything yet, and there is apparently so much that must be bought: nappies, clothes, blankets, nursing pads, maternity bras, changing table, wet wipes, pilchers, nappy-snap things, baby bath, pram, baby carrier, any combination of cot, cradle, crib, Moses basket, bassinet, pack-n-play (what exactly is the difference between all these things anyway?), etc, etc. And for every one of those things there are so many options and considerations, which for me - who tends to over-do the research side of any purchase, seems to mean so much time needed to find the ‘best’ one. Luckily shops are easily accessible, and if I can just let go of the excessive research urge and just go out and buy a few of things which are most essential I’m sure I’ll start feeling better.

calming ocean

During our baby-moon we spent much time swimming in the ocean, which was fantastic. Most of the time we were swimming in a bay near our accommodation, which featured clear blue water, lots of space with only a few other people about, no seaweed and gentle rolling waves - very relaxing. We also went swimming at a surf beach which was lots of fun but perhaps less relaxed – with all the waves crashing on us, the jumping and kinda cold water, I expected baby to react a lot and move around a bit but it must have been shocked into inactivity – not a peep felt. Perhaps the sounds of the ocean and my own easy-going happy mood were trumps over the excitement. Now back to regular life, with no soothing ocean around, baby has been going nuts, all the time it seems.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

30 weeks