Thursday, 31 December 2009

Party Like It's 2009!

Par-tay! Yup, that what Chris and I are doing this New Year’s Eve 2009. Scene of the crime: our living room. Life and soul of the party: Chris post a half day in the office, big blooming me, Rico the cat purring and bump kicking....along with board games, a yummy Mexican dinner and some bubbly. A random mix for a random lady.

Yes, it is the close of 2009 and yes, our celebrations fall nicely in line with our imminent life chapter where New Year’s celebrations are likely to be toned down at notch or two. In all honesty, I’m one of those who sees New Year’s fiestas as often over-rated and overly expensive. I think even our local pub has a cover charge. Whenever too much expectation is placed on one night it often doesn’t live up in reality. Some of our best New Year celebrations have been at home with friends, something that shouldn’t be too tough to integrate babies into.

I started 2009 with my usual “Goals for 20xx” list. I think I had about 20 items on my list. You know I tend to go overboard with the damn lists. Well, I’m not going to bore you with the details of my to do’s aside from to say on the whole, it’s been a pretty productive and life changing year. We have our little lady on the way and I began writing again, a latent passion that I’m pleased has been galvanized by this new pregnancy/parenting phase of my life. Ticking those two items off gives me great satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment.

As two become three, (or four counting little Rico), 2010 promises to be all the more life changing, exciting, challenging and hopefully productive. I feel I have so much more to learn and that I want to achieve in this new life chapter that I better keep my 2010 Goals List short and sweet or it may run a million miles long.
Three major things I’d like to achieve are:
  • Have our baby! This is on the cards, and although women may be built as baby making machines, to actually do the deed will be my biggest feat to date. I hope we are able to have our home birth as planned, but ultimately all we want is our little lady, safe and sound.
  • Find our new life balance with baby while maintaining our own independence as individuals and a couple, something of a life ethos for Chris and me and a running theme through my blog and soon to be website. 
  • Launch my new website, which will feature my blog (a journey of my transition to parenthood and chronicle of pregnancy and parenting advice/news/etc from both sides of the pond), a sharp & topical weekly advice bulletin from other pregnant and parent writers (an expansion of mama chat) with real advice to share and a forum for my freelance parenting writing projects. This launch is on the cards for January 2010 once I overcome a few technology hurdles so watch this space! Parent blogging is such a hot commodity on both sides of the pond that my mission often seems daunting but I’m dedicated and hope you enjoy the read. Three social networks I’ve recently joined but can tell will prove invaluable to my blogging journey are the British Mummy Bloggers, Mom Bloggers Club and My Best Birth, where there are countless impressive, creative and real mama bloggers that generously share wisdoms and knowledge about their lives, their birth experience and making headway in the black hole of parent blogging. If you are also an aspiring mama blogger definitely check them out.
Now I better re-join Chris in the living room after this frenzied "close of 09" post! Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

My Hectic Chill

Are most women swimming at the gym at nearly 39 weeks pregnant? Are most still plodding away, slow but steady, on the cross trainer or taking power walks on the beach? Do many subject themselves to one last pre-baby retail therapy session involving Ikea, John Lewis, Sainsburys and horrendous traffic in torrential rain during half term in the week after Christmas? Maybe so….I expect more often not….but I am not most pregnant women but just little old active me and this is my hectic chill in the run up to my “last” week of pregnancy. Hear me roar!

If you’re shaking your head and thinking I should slow down, I don’t feel like I’m wearing myself into the ground. Plus, I just had a lot of rejuvenating down time with family over Christmas. If you’re of the similar “I can’t sit at home alone all day, especially when everyone is telling me make the most of my last week pre-baby before my life changes forever” then you may have a sympathetic hug to offer.

Since going on maternity leave I’ve made time to put my feet up in front of day-time TV but there is only so much Come Dine With Me that a person can take. I can’t stand Jeremy Kyle and Loose Women is just not my thing.  I expect it's a whole different ball game when you have other little ones to tend to, but I don't and it has been an adjustment not to get up for work each morning when the daily grind was all I knew.

I’ve done nesting. Maybe I’m still nesting. Chris says I’m always cleaning at the best of times, and I’ve tidied the house, washed the baby clothes, cleaned out cabinets, rearranged drawers. But there is only so much nesting I can do before I go stir crazy and need to get out of the house. Plus, with all this rain and mud what’s the point of mopping a floor as clean as a dinner plate only to have some inevitable muck tracked in next time someone emerges from outside, even if they do take their shoes off? Plus, I keep hearing once the baby comes I’ll have no time to clean my house so why set an extra anally high bar of cleanliness now?

Don't get me wrong.  I'm thankful for the time I've had to get organized for our little lady.  I'm grateful to be able to lay in bed past 7am and sit down when I need to.  But I'm still, in the words of Chris and in my usual on-the-go style, actively moving and using. Swimming and shopping; walking and errand running; reading and Internet browsing; preventing my days alone from dragging or my mind from idling over “Is she coming, is this it?” through this home stretch of pregnancy.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Mama Chat Volume 2 - A Dish on Parenting from Real Moms

First, week 38 pictures:

In the holiday spirit of giving, lovely moms EW from the USA and LG from the UK have agreed to share more parenting wisdoms with you and me.

As usual, some of these tips may be your cup of tea and some may not, but I’m certainly grateful for the ideas and insights.

If you are an experienced mama willing to be contacted for future mama chat installments, please leave a comment on this post and I’ll be in touch.

Today’s hot topic: Early Day Parenting Advice

What’s the best advice you can give new moms for their early days with baby, as well as something you wish you had been told before becoming a mom?

EW in the USA:

Early day advice:
  • Take as many pictures of every inch of that sweet baby girl because she will grow daily and change daily! Get everything-each toe, wrinkle, hairline, etc! You won't believe how quick it all changes and the development continues.
  • Sleep when the baby sleep or else you'll run yourself in the ground! Put a note on the front door that says you're sleeping/nursing and to leave a message! You'll be high on adrenaline for a few days but then it catches up with you.
Something I wish I had been told:
  • Girls also like to pee in the fresh air! I thought that was just a boy thing-hence the invention of the peepee teepee! I can't believe how many diapers I go through-you barely get one on and then there's a blow out! Little babies can burp and pass wind like the best truckers!
LG in the UK:

Early day advice:
  • Try and keep visitors to a minimum and ask everyone to call or text before arriving. Someone told me they kept their dressing gown by the front door and put it on before they answered it, if it was someone they didn't want to see or were too tired to entertain they would just pretend to have been asleep and ask them to come back later!
  • If you feel like crying, cry! Don't think it means you're not coping, your body has just been through a massive change and your hormones are all over the place so let those emotions out!
  • Don't be afraid to ask lots of questions about anything and everything, again it doesn't mean you're not coping or are a rubbish mum. I found it so helpful to speak to other mums who knew exactly how I was feeling and it was reassuring to know that they all felt as clueless as I did!!
  • If you end up having stitches then my mum gave me some great advice which was to have a quick bath in the morning and before bed, this really helped to soothe the pain and they healed pretty quickly!
  • Once you are discharged from midewife care (usually around day 10) they take your pregnancy notes with them and you can't see them again unless you request them from your GP and you have to pay for this privilege! It’s a good idea to photocopy them - a lot of mums have enjoyed reading their labour notes 6 months down the line as it gives them a whole new perspective on the whole event!
Something I wish I had been told:
  • Don't think that you are supposed to know what to do just because your the baby's mum! I found it very frustrating that some midwives/health visitors could make mum's feel guilty that they weren't sure about what to do with their baby and made them feel like a failure! One of the most empowering moments for me was realising that I didn't always have to know what to do. As long as she was loved, fed and washed that was all that mattered!
  • Don't put too much pressure on yourselves with regards to going out, and if you are brave enough to have a family trip out then I would add an hour to any planned meeting time. Although going out can seem like the scariest thing ever it is good to go out even if it is for a 5 min walk! Once you are out everything won't seem as scary and you will finally start to believe, maybe life will get easier!

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Christmas Lights, Christmas Lights

Merry Christmas to all plus a day – Happy Boxing Day to those in the UK!

My sister and I always loved spotting all the Christmas lights decorating houses through December. During car trips, we’d turn eagle eyes out our respective windows and shout “Christmas lights, Christmas lights” every time we saw a display.

It’s a shame my attention to lights has diminished with my years....while I still love my Christmas lights, now I struggle to notice things like my car headlights, which I left on during a rainy December 23, draining our car battery and leaving us with a dead car on Christmas Eve – not good news when we were due to drive to the South of England for festivities with Chris’ family. Can I blame poor careless observation on the pregnancy hormones?

Our jump leads were locked in our trunk, which won’t unlock since it’s linked to the car electrical system. With a rising irrational hysteria in my gut, I called Chris at work and left a message for him to call me back urgently. He did, thinking I was in labor. I realized I need to be more careful about the type of messages I leave. He suggested I ask around for jump leads before we called our breakdown service.

So I pulled myself together, wiped my tear stained face and took to our streets in search of a motorist who might have jump leads. Where we live we have on-street parking and our car was parked halfway around the block from our house. I made a few sheepish approaches to people leaving our local shop and/or getting into their parked cars with no joy. I finally knocked on the house in front of my car where I was saved by a kind man with three young children! In little time he had his car connected to ours and soon I had a charged battery and drivable car. He and his wife were extremely friendly and kind; in an area where many of our neighbours look the other direction when we try to say hello, this was a real treat. They exemplified the giving spirit of Christmas. I need to write them a thank you note.

We made it to Dorset for a chilled, family Christmas full of festivity, food, fun and games. Bump has been treated to numerous sweet treats and I feel relaxed. I needed that after the emotional headlight fiasco. In fact, I think this past week I’ve been set off by lots of random little things: a touching TV show, random apprehension as to how I’ll handle parenthood, when I dropped my Christmas mug on the floor and it shattered. I tell myself I’m not cracking up and it’s just that her due date is around the corner and it's normal for me to be a little bit of a hormonal headcase. Right?

But a change of scene and change of pace has proved invigorating, for now I sit, calm, cool and collected. On Christmas I hit the 38 week mark and the little lady should now clock in at about 19.5 inches, the length of a leek, and 7 pounds. After all I’ve been eating, maybe she’s a bit heavier....whoops! She’s been very active and feels like she’s dropping in my pelvis. The whole region feels a bit tender. Good signs.

All we really want this Christmas, this New Year, is our baby, healthy and happy. I’ll keep you posted – not long to go now. For the moment, I’m sitting back and enjoying the bright and brilliant Christmas lights.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

"Secret Report" Leads to Axing of Home Birth Group

The home birth may be slowly growing in popularity and availability here in the UK, yet it's still considered risky taboo for many and scare stories like this highlighted by The Times don't help its case.

The Albany practice, an independent South London midwifery group specializing in home births has had its contract terminated by the NHS because of a confidential report suggesting it had ten times the normal rate of babies born with serious complications like brain damage.

Yet experts, Albany advocates and government figures alike have raised concerns over the confidentiality of this inquiry and why it was not carried out in conjunction with the Care Quality Commission, the health regulator.

King’s College Hospital commissioned this report and claims that its findings do not equate with an anti home birth stance but rather the need for closer monitoring of midwifery services. Yet details of the "serious shortcomings" identified and comparative assessment of birth rates between Albany and other midwifery practices are glaringly absent, and create a transparency gap that undermines the very nature of the report's findings.

It's crucial that NHS and contracted home birth midwives follow strict due diligence and safety protocols. When they do, it's been shown the home birth can be a fantastic experience. Shortcomings should be identified and rooted out, however the key here is identification and transparency. Axing a leading midwifery service over ambiguous failures only serves to scare and rile up the masses.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

My Cervix the Trampoline

Dear sweet Baby Stevens, my cervix is not a trampoline. But you don’t see it that way I suspect….

Zing! There goes another shooting pain, one of Cupid’s good old arrows, down below! This has become an almost daily occurrence, particularly when I’m active. I tried to explain to the little lady that it’s fine for her to settle down in my pelvis rather than bouncing down there like a gymnast but she’s having none of it. As she continues to fill out, her acrobatic maneuvers have become limited so I guess she's enjoying this little “move” while she can.

I’m actually happy for the zings because with each one, I know she is gradually settling in my pelvis or at least preparing my body for this imminent pre-birth event - and that’s a good sign at my stage of pregnancy. Still, I had to ask myself if my secret want of a trampoline while growing up despite the many things generously given to me by my parents has now come back to bite me.  Be careful what you wish for!!

Monday, 21 December 2009

Feet Up, Stocking Up

Chris and I are, dare I say it, prepared for Christmas. We decorated our house a few weeks ago, attempted some paper snowflakes (below, our first attempt), hung a home-made wreath on our door (this one we didn’t make but it’s the kind of one I want to try), sorted out our present purchases and mailed off all our cards. Woohoo! Now we have some time to mull wine (Chris loves doing that), put our feet up and listen to The Gift CD, one of our Christmas favorites. It’s our last Christmas without a little one so we better make the most of it!

My other mission of late is stocking up – not on Christmas candy and cakes (though I had to buy some of those too) but on food in my freezer for when the little lady arrives. Pregnant Mama E suggested this to me some time back, and I’ve since heard others say how useful the cook-freeze-stock plan of action proves if you have time to do the cooking in the first place. This weekend I made meatballs, lasagna and some veggie chili for temporary hibernation in our freezer. If anyone has any other ideas on easy to prepare and freeze dishes, I’m all ears! I’m anticipating a the first few weeks I won’t have so much time for cooking so hopefully this stock will provide a well needed head start – we do still need to eat, after all!

Here I am post-cooking - I don't think the sitting down angle is working for me but I no longer have any shame when it comes to these photos!

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Birth Plan, Check! Supple Perineum, Eeek!

My birth plan is complete! In homage to my love of lists, it’s in bullet point fashion and conveys my preferences for labor and birth while miraculously staying short and sweet. Not that I’m ever prone to loquaciousness – ha! I’m pleased it’s now sorted and not hanging over my head and tempting my tendency for doing things at the last minute. Now we’ll just need to see how this “plan” plays out in reality.

Never one to chill out entirely, I’m on to my next “to do” for this stage of late pregnancy: perineal massage. If you’re unfamiliar with the perineum, Wordnetweb defines it as “the general region between the anus and the genital organs,” i.e. the sensitive zone that bears the brunt of delivery and is prone to tearing as baby makes her entrance into the world.

Ever wondered how babies will fit out of THERE? We know they do, but they often leave their mark on the region via an episiotomy (medical cut) or natural tear to the perineum, particularly common in first timers.

Think of you perineum as a piece of tight elastic that gradually needs to stretch to accommodate a baby’s head....or perhaps as a piece of pastry that needs to be moulded and “softened” so it has give over a larger surface area. Yup, that’s what I need to do to increase the elasticity of my trusty perineum. 

BabyWorld gives an easy to follow overview and how to on perineal massage. In brief, dress clean fingers with some natural oil, slide them 2-3cm into your lower vagina and stretch/massage downwards and outwards.  It’s suggested that you start around 36 weeks pregnant and that the practice will familiarize you with the pressure, stretching and burning sensations that you may experience during birth, making you more relaxed in the moment. Perineal massage stimulates blood flow to the region, increasing its elasticity and speeding the post birth healing process.

The manoeuvre does not look sexy or feel comfortable and that’s before I consider that I’m navigating around a bump as lofty as a stalk of Swiss chard that weighs about 6 1/3 pounds.  And my arms are short!

In the end, all my efforts may be in vain. It’s not proven that perineal massage will prevent tearing. But you know what? I’ve heard tales aplenty of the crowning “ring of fire” and tears of various degrees and if I can learn to work with the burn and lessen my chances of tearing or needing an episiotomy, I’m up for some non-graceful dabbles with olive oil in my nether regions.

For those interested in water birth, check out this ultimate water birth.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Ho, Ho, Ho, Not Long to Go....

With Christmas only a week away and my due date only three, I’m buzzing on a nonalcoholic cocktail of festive spirit, hormones and excitement. I will forever be a sucker for the magic that is Christmas - a time to connect with and give something back to those that you love, heaped in our own special traditions. This year I’m thinking ahead to future Christmas’ with our little lady alongside considering ways to bring the festive season back to basics without breaking my bank. From Christmas dos to food stocking to present shopping, this time of year courts spending sprees that I just can’t afford as a lady of leisure on maternity pay, i.e. a tight budget.

In addition to my credit crunch busting/festivity bursting suggestions from last year, I have some fresh ideas on how to stay jolly on a budget this Christmas, partly inspired by my soon-to-be mommy status:
  • Brush up on your Christmas Carols: Even if you sound like a dying cat (like I do), singing some Christmassy tunes should bring a smile to your face when you think of how you’ll soon be teaching the words to your little ones…Jingles Bells and Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer never seemed so appealing
  • Go Martha Stewart and create DIY snowflakes and wreaths: These projects will cost you next to nothing, are green, festive and not too complex for little ones to help with. I’ll have some time before our little lady can lend a hand, but I need the practice. Stay green and cut snowflakes from paper from your recycling bin. Compost the green odds and ends you don’t use for your wreath. For a ton more Christmas crafty links, check out One Pretty Thing.
  • Recycle your old Christmas cards for gift tags: Garish gift tags can sell for highway robbery and they’re just one more thing to buy – why not cut out the fronts of your Christmas cards post holiday and save them as your gift tags for the next year?
  • When you’re shopping, shop smart: Sort your coupons, shop online through a cash back scheme like KidStart that allows you to save for your child’s future, join Parenting Clubs to cash in on holiday offers, shop second hand via Ebay, Nappy Valley and in charity shops, shop around…
  • Introduce Secret Santa: If present shopping for extended family or a group of friends is getting too pricey, put everyone’s name in a hat and draw names for the one person you will buy for. Set a reasonable price limit and enjoy major savings.
  • Fruit Cake Doesn’t Have to be Taboo: If you want to give a little back to someone that has been particularly helpful this year, don’t reach for your cash or your plastic. Perfect a holiday Christmas recipe and Voila!, you have a tasty, easy gift that can be made in batches. My mom makes apple raisin bread that has been receiving compliments for years. I used to help her with it as a child and now am making it myself today. Start the kids in the kitchen early I say!
  • Invite friends over for a pot luck supper: I hear I won't have time to cook let alone shower during my early days with a newborn.  Even with young kids, putting together a dinner party sounds like it could be stressful.  Why not mix dinner parties up with pot luck meals where friends bring their own festive dishes.  You provide the venue, guests provide the culinary mix.  Result = fun night for all that doesn't require a hefty supermarket bill.
  • Little one on the way?  Make sure you are aware of all the government "gifts" you are entitled to: I've previously posted about benefits for parents but a good overview those available in the UK can be found on Payments for Parents.
  • Make decorating your tree a family tradition: Chris and I were really excited to put on Christmas CD, string our lights and adorn our 4 ft glory. We try to get one new ornament each year and keep track of where it’s from/why it’s special to us. Our trees tell a growing story over the years that we will share with and add to with our little one. It makes for quality family time and stirs up some great memories.

Though I’m hoping to keep our bun in the oven until 2010, the prospect of Christmas as a parent gives me a thrill and I’m struck by the responsibility we’ll have to create a jolly caroling, cookie eating, spirit of giving magic for our little lady that she can carry with her for always. I believed in Santa until later than I’d like to admit. I sang Christmas carols in my shrill little voice in medley formation with the gusto of Diana Ross (as my dad kindly reminds me through an audio clip – evidence – that I can’t hide even if I’d like to). I understand that Christmas is a time to give back to those I care about, not just receive, and that this can be done largely through custom, creativity and without buying up the high street.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

UK Swine Flu Vaccine Update

Though I’ve decided not to get the swine flu vaccine while pregnant, a posting on my NCT area bulletin board recently suggested that those considering vaccination while pregnant or for their under 5s look into the Celvapan (by Baxter) vaccination rather than the more common Pandemrix jab (by GSK). Apparently Celvapan has neither thimerosal (preservative) nor squalene (an adjuvant) as opposed to Pandemrix.  Its also pricier and less readily available in the UK so the best way to be considered for it is to claim a family or personal history or egg allergy. Even if you’re not up for telling this little white lie, this is something to consider/ask your GP about if you are considering the vaccination.

At the end of November Sky News confirmed that this Celvapan is now an “available” option for pregnant women though supply is limited. NHS Direct now has more detailed information about Celvapan available.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Birth Plan – Oxymoron, Wish List, My Voice….All of the above?

I need to write my birth plan. But how does one “plan” for birth, the inevitable but uncontrollable event that marks the end of pregnancy?

I’ve had contractions described to me, but I don’t really know how they’ll feel and how I’ll cope with them. I’ve heard of women who want a natural birth with candles and massage for pain relief but decide to go full throttle on medical intervention when push comes to shove. I’ve heard that you need to be prepared and informed, but flexible, and that your “plan” can’t be set in stone. I’ve heard a lot of things.

It feels a little strange to put pen to paper when something as intimate as birth is the subject. Will what I write seem pedantic….or perhaps just plain mundane?

But I need to get over that. Although I know my birth plan may not go as planned, it’s my way of playing an active role in my birth and letting the midwives know Chris and my preferences, our birth wish list of sorts. At my NCT ante-natal class they suggested that where you have your baby and who you want at your birth are the two most important decisions that you can make. I know we are going to try for a home birth, and that Chris is my birthing partner, so hard job done.

So what do I know/hope for?

I know I want to try for as natural a labor as possible, full of upright positions, yoga breathing and as little intervention as possible. If I do opt for more assistance in the moment, I have ideas on what I’d like offered to me and how I’d like it discussed. I know I want skin to skin contact with baby as soon as she is born. And that I’m fine with the Vitamin K injection, but want to try for a natural third stage. Chris hopes to cut the cord. Unless I plan on having a cozy chat about this while in the throes of contractions, my birth plan along with Chris will be my voice.

Here’s a useful birth plan from the Boots Parenting Club. It’s short and sweet but provides a good outline of things to consider. I’ll let you know how I get on.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Tic Toc, Power Kicks & Bump2Bump

At 36 weeks pregnant, impending mommy-hood is affecting me in many ways. At the end of last week I found myself prune faced with disturbance on the gym cross trainer. The source of my distaste: Kesha’s Tic Toc video, a catchy upbeat, good for a gym workout tune that happens to feature a teenage girl dressed coquettishly, gyrating for boys and singing lyrics like “Tic toc, make it pop, DJ blow my speakers up” and “Boys trying to touch my junk.” 

Eeek – is this what could become of our daughter if we’re not too careful? I mean kids today….everything seems to start so early…. Wait a minute. I’m sounding very parent-like all of a sudden.  I generally think of myself as pretty youthful and open-minded. I’d still maintain that I am, but with a newfound protectiveness for pretty young teens and the ill-advised signals they are likely to give off if they’re not mindful. But now I’m really getting ahead of myself.

We had a fantastic weekend with JBT & LEH full of good chat, gaming and country walks. It’s probably the last time we’ll host friends for the weekend before our little lady makes her debut and I really enjoyed it. LEH are also expecting their first in March so I’ve featured a pic here of some of LH and my bump 2 bump action! It’s nice to be taking this pregnancy trip together.

Babycenter updates me that baby is now about the weight of a Crenshaw melon. She feels that way. She is strong. Some of her kicks this weekend were so strong that they sent my hand flying off my belly. It’s really cool to feel her moving with increased power, though it can be uncomfortable at times. Maybe this is a sign we have a sporty girl in the making. Chris will be so pleased.

Apparently she should now be in the process of shedding her launugo (body hair) and vernix (waxy substance) that have been keeping her toasty and warm in the womb. I knew this was on the cards; what I didn’t realize is that babies actually swallow these substances and they are what partially forms their meconium, or first bowl movement…tasty.

Fruit Photo Credit:

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Numb Hands, Warm Words

No, this blog is not migrating its focus to fingers and hands; their just hot topics during my 35th week of pregnancy...

Here is pictured my right hand, as proof that it’s not overly swollen and my ring still fits on it without issue. Still, my hormonal body must be maintaining more fluid than normal since I’ve woke a few mornings in the last week with numb, pins and needle-like hands. The situation is hardly dire – I’m not unable to sleep because of the tingling and it doesn’t ail me during the day – but when I wake up in the morning, I seem to have a mild bout of carpal tunnel syndrome. For those unfamiliar with this little gem, it involves swelling and compression of the main nerve in the wrist, resulting in tingly, numb hands.

Pretty common in pregnancy ( suggests that up to 60% of pregnant ladies may experience it), particularly at night and in the 2nd and 3rd trimester, carpel tunnel syndrome often disappears once baby is born. Still, if I can kick this little plight in the ass before it gets established, I’m going to try. Taking action abated my legs cramps by stretching before bed, so fingers crossed some of these natural remedies might do the trick here.  If anyone else has experienced this and knows of any tips to share, please do!
  • Kneel on your hands and knees, leaning your body forward and stretching your wrists. We do this in pregnancy yoga so I’m going to introduce this into my bedtime routine.
  • Massage your wrist from the inside outwards when you have the opportunity. Doesn’t sound too intrusive, I can do this while reading or watching TV.
  • Sit with your hands elevated during the day. Difficult to do while going about my daily business but maybe doable on the couch?
  • Sleep propped up or with your arm on a pillow at night. I think I do this already but maybe I’ll add another pillow since I’m down to one under my head as my other one is under my leg.  I guess no one can really control their "sleep position" though....I can't at least...
  • Use a wrist splint at night or wrist rest at the computer. I don’t have either of these things; maybe I’d explore if the problem became chronic but these are useful FYIs all the same.
Ahh, the exciting ramblings of a pregnant mind.

I have to also put in a mention for the warm words I’ve been receiving from women in the street, at the gym, in the shops. “When are you due?” “Is it your first baby?” “Do you know what you’re having?” “Ohh, I hope you get through the Christmas period before the birth. I don’t mean to scare you but I was 4 weeks early with my first.”

Does being pregnant mean that all of a sudden random British people will break the silent ranks and talk to me? Great!  Maybe I should be pregnant all the time. I’m grateful for all the newfound conversation I’ve been having.


Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Butter Fingers

I have a tendency toward clumsiness at the best of times. I’ll never forget the time I floored it in front of the busy student union at college. I was wearing sneakers and essentially tripped over my own feet. Then there was the time that I dropped a glass, on a knife on the dinner table, which then shattered and cut me landing me in the emergency room for stitches. I have a poorly stitched up scar to this day as a badge of my troubled dexterity.

So every time my pregnancy updates warn that my shifting center of gravity and looser joints would only exacerbate this less desirable trait, Chris shakes his head and warns me to be careful and I silently curse under my breath. I don’t need anything else working against me in the clumsy department.

So far I’ve avoided any crash and burn spills and I am trying to “slow down” and take care in protection of my bump. But today I just had a really clumsy day. I dropped Rico’s food bowl on the floor and sent his food a flying. Then I dropped my hair brush on the dirty gym floor and had to stoop and rummage under the counter for it (more easily said than done these days). Later I banged my head on the kitchen counter on my way up from the washing machine and soon after dropped a whole role of aluminum foil, which unraveled across the kitchen floor.

By that point I was pretty frustrated, probably cursed out loud and decided I needed some time out with Rico and bump. As I sat at the kitchen table grumbling the little lady started belting me with her foot as if to say, “buck up mama, chin up, easy does it!” Yes, that’s exactly what she was saying… my world where babies in the womb dish out adult advice. Either that or she could feel me getting riled and wanted to fight back!

So I'm ready for bed tonight. I’m tired and looking forward to A Christmas Carol, which Chris is in the process of reading to bump. We thought we’d try to get her in the holiday spirit a la Dickens – with his wordiness and my jabbering she’ll probably come out of the womb talking!

Saturday, 5 December 2009

"Honey, do you know why I have to flip onto all fours to roll over in bed...?"

Because I have a baby the weight of a honeydew inside my uterus, which is pressing up under my ribs and weighing me down! I'm all for the all fours position when it comes to shifting from side to side in bed.

So I'm 35 weeks pregnant.......5, 4, 3, 2, 1 week to go! I spoke last week about the final countdown being imminent. I feel that countdown has arrived.

I still feel pretty good but look like a house. I'm not overly pleased with this photo but Chris will go nuts if I keep asking him to "take the perfect shot" of me....these days, there IS NO perfect shot :)

Teresa Strasser's I Said a of Things post is fantastic.....although she swore she would be a vain, primped and put together mama who didn't resort to conversations on baby poop, her little boy is now 10 weeks old and she often finds herself milk stained, un-showered and craving motherhood banter and gems of advice. I think her wakeup call is insightful.

Chris and I often discuss how we want to integrate our little lady into OUR lives. We know "she will change our lives" and "things will never be the same;" unlike Teresa, I'm certain conversations about bedtime routines and poop and Baby Sensory will soon be our reality and that in the beginning, our routines and cleanliness will probably be uprooted. Yet, simultaneously, we also want to get out of the house on walks with our little girl; we want to drink fine wine with friends and talk about Obama, the Tiger Woods scandal, the World Cup.... We can't wait to be parents and we are committed to being fine ones, but we want to make time for ourselves, each other and our interests as well as baby focused chat. We're not totally sure how this approach will play out in reality, but we hope to lay the ground for this new life balance from the start of our parenting lives....

On that note, I'm in the process of building a new website, which will soon host this blog along with some of my other parenting writing projects and featured articles from other pregnant and mum writers! This site will also embody Chris and my ethos of embracing parenthood and simultaneously keeping our own identities. Watch this space for when it goes live!

Fruit Photo Credit:

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Is Labor Hereditary? Will I be late too?

Those dastardly pregnancy hormones caught me out again! Earlier this week I felt positive. Then those raging inner chemicals decided to wreak havoc on my equilibrium by bringing to the surface an occasional bad habit of mine: over-thinking. It’s like they said, “you are 34 weeks pregnant and have been calm, cool and collected for too long. You’re due for a frenzy!” 

My pregnancy newsletters and books warn that anxiousness about labor and birth, impending parenthood, finding a new life balance with baby, etc can set these hormones off and it’s totally normal. Oh good.

My hang up concerned whether I’ll be overdue with our baby like my mom was with my sister and me. Three weeks overdue to be exact. No matter that this was nearly 30 years ago and when we were ready to come out, we came out without issue. I’d heard conflicting theories on whether late labor was hereditary and I felt the need to explore this further, particularly as once you go overdue here by one week they start talking about induction, which I hope to avoid.....(This pic is of mom in labor with me!)

So I ventured onto My Best Birth and posted this query on the group forum in search of further insight.  Women responded with a mix of thoughts and experiences; some had similar labors to their moms, others didn’t; one thought labor could be linked between sisters, another found this not to be the case. Others suggested I should not compare myself to anyone else but instead relax and let nature take its course.

I came away with the impression that there is no clear rhyme or reason to the hereditary labor theory and that I needed to stop thinking, comparing, wondering and just chill out. It was just the advice I needed to snap out of my over-thinking rut. Relevantly, CD sent me this very interesting post on research she completed into the inaccuracy of estimated due dates. Her site is well worth exploring for wisdoms on getting the best out of your birth experience.

(Longstanding followers may remember I haven’t always been a fan of community forums because of the many acronyms and worrying suggestions that can come with them. While the acronyms still don’t appeal, I’ve learned to avoid scare-story posts that set off the sinister elements of my imagination in exchange for obtaining advice/opinions on topics of interest and sharing my own thoughts. I’ve since posted on a few different community forums and found the exchanges insightful, as above. So I retract that community boards are not for me – just to be used in moderation with focus so I don’t get lost on or freaked out by them!)

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Pregnancy Courts Debate

Pregnancy is smitten by debate. Pregnancy is a sucker for debate. Pregnancy just can’t get enough of debate.

And that’s usually okay with me, for as pregnancy courts debate I am encouraged to think laterally and broaden my perspective. Only occasionally when the debate in question concerns copious baby retail options (i.e. what are the relative merits of baby mattress types?....gag me and fast!) or the sweeping scythe of the nanny state do I want to bang my head against a wall and renounce all deliberation as painful and/or confusing and/or insane.

Today debate was so “hot to trot” that pregnancy managed to finagle two dates. I’d like to share the details and my take:

Debate #1: A Council in Wales hands out pink badges to heavily pregnant ladies so they can bag favourable parking spaces. An online news blogger decries this as yet another policy that will be abused. 

My father-in-law brought my attention this afternoon’s BBC Radio 2 report. I can’t find anything in print on this story, so please let me know if you can. Without more information it’s hard to pass judgement, but my gut instinct is that walking an extra 50 extra feet might do a pregnant woman good. Badges like this most likely would be abused unless monitored, which I don’t see as the best use of Council resources.

Debate #2: Are Doula’s “helping hands or stepping on toes?” The BBC today reports anaesthetist Dr Abhijoy Chakladar’s view that the increasing trend of women hiring doulas (birth assistants that offer emotional support before, during labour and postnatally) is a side effect of lapses in midwifery care that often hinders clinical decisions by disturbing the relationship between the mother and medical team.
I beg your pardon? My understanding is that doulas offer mothers and their birthing partners emotional support and encouragement in preparation for and through birth, as well as during the early days of parenthood. Doulas are not medically trained and unlike midwives, are not responsible for the physical care of the woman through her birth. While it’s important that doulas don’t overstep this boundary (and perhaps some do), to suggest that their presence upsets the clinical side of birth wreaks of practitioner speak to me! Many women hire doulas to develop firm emotional support and coping strategies that help them approach labor as naturally as possible and don’t want a clinical birth. Doulas should not be berated for helping women participate actively in their birthing experience - having said that, should medical care be needed, it is not their place to argue with practitioners but to support their client through whatever shape the birthing experience takes.