Sunday, 29 November 2009

Cupid's Arrows

Yesterday Chris and I celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary! This year he's got all the more to love, as you can see from my 34 week picture :) It was our last anniversary sans children and we toasted (yes, I had a small glass of red wine) that after 5 years of married life and 10 years of knowing each other that the romance is still in the air. Thank you Cupid for your love arrows in this respect.

Of course the love in the air extends to our little one in utero, though she was keen to remind us of that a la Cupid as well. "What am getting at", you ask? The sharp, arrow-like pains that I now sporadically feel shooting into my nether regions. Don't be alarmed; it's nothing bad or sinister - the opposite in fact. It's my body and baby's way of preparing/stretching/doing something to ready me for her birth. It just feels like she got Cupid on board and asked him to shoot some of his love arrows down under. Sorry, TMI, but true.  But I'm still smiling.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Baby Bargains on Black Friday

Fellow Americans know the sales/magic/madness of "Black Friday," aka the Friday after American Thanksgiving and purported busiest shopping day of the year in the USA.

Though I did host a Thanksgiving meal to an international group of six (3 Americans, 2 Brits, 1 French) yesterday, I didn't partake in the post turkey (or in our case chicken - there were no fresh turkeys in the supermarket when I went shopping on Wednesday!) retail fest. After all of yesterday's cooking and subsequent ingesting, I didn't have the strength! In fact, I felt a little ill after dinner but that's what you get when you eat "turkey," mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, string beans, Bisquick biscuits, stuffing, cranberry sauce, spinach with bacon, pumpkin pie and apple pie all in one sitting with the baby the size of a cantaloupe squishing your stomach and intestines into a cramped ball! But I digress....

Today I'm 34 weeks pregnant; I feel like I'm in the final countdown and that birth is on the horizon. With this reality dawning, Chris and I have been taking stock of the baby essentials that we need for when she arrives. So although there was no shopping spree for me today, the last couple of weeks have involved a flurry of buying baby items.

This buying has set my money saving instincts into motion and in honor of Black Friday bargain shopping I'd like to share them with you (these are UK specific savings but maybe the US has similar schemes....if anyone knows of any, please share!)

  • I have a Coupon Folder Thing! Call me Martha Stewart, or foolish for not doing this sooner, but I now have a little coupon case where I'm saving all baby/food/gas coupons that I receive/find and think we may use. There are tons of good offers out there if you are willing to look for them and remember to slip your coupon case into your bag before you head out to the stores!
  • I joined Sainsburys Little Ones Baby and Toddler Club. This at the suggestion of Chris' mum and LH. I wish I'd done this sooner! You get a free welcome pack from Sainsburys and a "Huggies Mum and Baby Bundle" worth £9.99, more coupons and a quarterly magazine. I'm a Sainsburys girl but other supermarkets like Tesco also have these baby clubs - if the offers are out there, join, join join!
  • I claimed my Mum-to-Be Essentials Bounty Pack. Here in the UK you get a free Pregnancy Information Pack compliments of Bounty when you "book in" as pregnant with your NHS hospital/surgery. In this pack is a week by week "Your Pregnancy" guide, which includes a coupon for the Mum-to-Be Essential pack that you can collect from select local retailers when you are 3 months + pregnant. My guide didn't have this voucher but if you join Bounty for free online you can call and request that a Mum-to-Be pack voucher be emailed or posted to you - I only just did this!
  • I shopped online via Kidstart. Join Kidstart for free and you can earn back a percentage of your purchases by shopping at a wide variety of retailers online. This cash back goes into a KiddyBank for your child, which you can then transfer into an external savings account. Why not do some Christmas shopping online and earn cash back for your kid in the process?
I'm a Coupon Queen in the making, determined to keep baby expenses at bay. Yes, I'll buy new things, nice things and not always the cheapest things. But I'll mix this with my ebay and second hand buying/borrowing and money saving schemes in an effort not to break our bank!

Fruit Photo Credit:

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Dads in the Delivery Room: Delightful or Disastrous?

Today the BBC brings to light French obstetrician Michel Ordent’s view that dads should NOT be in the delivery room during the birth of their children as they are likely to be more of a hindrance than a help in the birthing process. The French doc shuns the notion championed by US doctor Robert Bradley that a husband’s presence during labor provides his wife with much needed support and solidarity. He even suggests that an anxious male partner will make a women tenser and increase her likelihood of ending up with an emergency Caesarean section!

Oh ye of little faith Dr Ordent! While not all men want to be present at the birth of junior (celeb chef Gordon Ramsay for example) there are loads out there who want to actively participate in the life changing experience that is birth to the extent that they can. And although the c-section rate has risen over the last several decades, this is more likely a side effect of our increasingly litigious and medicalized society that features older moms and women who struggle with obesity.

On Babyworld, midwife Catharine Parker-Little suggests that women talk openly with their partners during pregnancy to gauge their true opinions about attending the birth - and not to lay on a guilt trip if they decline. I couldn’t agree more. Rather than make sweeping generalizations about whether men should be in delivery rooms, we need to talk it out with our guys. Do they want to be there? If so, do they want to be down “the business end?” If not, who can better offer moms support?

Chris can’t wait to be there for the birth of our daughter – look at him with Rico – he’s a natural! But since I’m one to lay things on the table, we’ve had the birthing “talk” to different degrees over the course of my pregnancy. I’ve tried to condition him to the idea that he’ll see me in pain, that we’ll both ride an emotional rollercoaster, that he may be subjected to some grim and gore like blood, poop, placenta and stitches.

Yesterday we went to our NHS Labor and Birth ante-natal class that featured a short film showing a labouring woman taking gas and air on a birthing ball. Afterwards one of the husbands admitted that the image made him feel nauseous, and that he was “going to take some quiet times to come to terms with all that labor may entail.” We shared a laugh about this, but props to that guy and his wife for preparing for birth as a unit. He might decide to attend his child’s birth, he might not, but they were in the learning together.

From our chats, Chris is on board and prepared to be my labor partner, coach, advocate and rock. He hopes to cut the cord and be as active a participant as possible, partly why we’ve opted to attempt a home birth.

Tonight we had our first couples NCT class, which also featured the first stage of labor, including the need for a woman to relax and let her oxytocin (hormone of “love” that causes uterine contractions) flow while in labor. As a birth partner, the man is instrumental to this process; if he gets in a flap, it’s likely to kick off his wife’s adrenaline, which counteracts oxytocin production and slows labor. I hope Chris is by my side throughout labor, but learning like this helps us both recognize that it depends how he feels in the moment and if he’s able to give off positive energy in the face of his own apprehensions. If it all gets too much and he needs a breather, we accept that.

So Dr Ordent, you can take your study and shove it! Whether a dad is a birth partner should be an individual choice – not a given but not ruled out either. It’s up to couples to do their research and make the best decision for them.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Not all candy is that sweet....

I love my candy, but not when it comes as a 60 lb muddy golden retriever that barks, bites and bounds at my bump with what some might call "playful affection," but what I'd rather describe as over stimulated and uncontrolled abandon.

In between the incessant sheets of rain we've been having, Chris and I took advantage of a brief sunny spell to try out our new wellies on an afternoon stroll.  The air had that earthy post-rain smell and the fields and foliage looked particularly verdant and healthy for the middle of autumn.  It's nice to see some benefits from all this rain.

Anyways, we walked, we talked, the wind whipped our hair and the scene was serene until ARRAF, BARK, YAP!  Peace shattered in the blink of an eye as a large, excited golden retriever came running at us at full speed yapping like a banshee.

I've always been more of a dog person (though now I really love my cat Rico) and I do care for animals, but Chris is clearly the bigger animal lover of us two.  He laughs at bears on TV, sees a snake and wants a closer look and has time to say hello to whatever furry friend we might run into where I don't always feel the need.

Maybe bounding dog, aka Candy, sensed my apathy and wanted to set me straight; maybe she smelled the remnants of a date and fudge cake wrapped up in my bag - but she bypassed Chris and went straight for me, lunging towards my bump with muddy paws, yapping and snapping happily and spurring me into a sit, hush, nice dog gig as I tried to avoid her leaps.  "Chris, help me, she's going to pounce on the baby," I half grimaced through clenched teeth,  trying simultaneously to smile at this over-energized dog and acknowledge her owners, now approaching at a relaxed ramble and offering gentle scolds to their runaway pooch. 

It was a beautiful afternoon to walk a dog and let her run off her leash.  I know animals can have minds of their own and get a little over stimulated, but just like I'll be expected to pay attention to and reign in my daughter if she's causing havoc, these people could have done a little bit more to soothe and control their dog!  I don't care about the mud on my coat.  I care slightly more that she almost dislocated my ring finger when her barking mouth got a little too close to my flapping hand.  But most of all - I'm pregnant - I look pregnant - and it irritated me that Candy's owners didn't crank up their efforts to get their freaking dog off bump and me!

Maybe I sound uncaring and mean.  Maybe I sound like I don't like animals.  I do, I really do.  But come on people, if your pet is a little hyper, don't just assume that everyone is going to be as tolerant as you.  I'm not saying don't let her run free, but make sure you monitor her and make a genuine effort to deter her/remove her from the pregnant woman, or any person, that she may be bundling.  Isn't that just common courtesy?

Friday, 20 November 2009

Pineapple Anyone?!

Oh wait, sorry, you can't have any pineapple because it's in my belly or rather, my uterus.  That's right folks, this week our hefty little one should be weighing in at just over 4 lbs and is about the size of a pineapple.  My spirits raised that my 33 week fruit comparison is one that I enjoy so much; then they dipped a bit when I started picturing myself birthing something the size of a pineapple - and I still have 7 weeks to go if I'm on time!

Here's my 33 week photo - as you can see, bump is blooming more than ever.  I'm experiencing a lot of movement right below breast level.  These must be kicks since she is now in a cephalic, or head down, position according to my midwife at my appointment this afternoon.  This is the preferred position for birth so let's hope that she chills out and stays that way so she can engage in my pelvis with greater ease over the coming weeks.  Fortunately the more she fattens out, the harder it will be for her to shift.

I witnessed an example of how this "pelvic engagement" works at my first NCT ante-natal class this morning a la doll in sample pelvis so this is fresh in my mind as I write.  There are six other girls in my class and I can tell already that I'm going to enjoy them - even though I knew I was not the only one with a million questions, it is comforting, fun and supportive to chat with others at a similar stage of pregnancy in our area.  This morning was women only session and everyone was lovely; next week we have our second meeting and the guys come on board!  Classes like this and more intimate/grim pregnancy chat come a bit more naturally to women in my opinion so it will be interesting to see how all the men fare!  Hopefully Chris will not have the urge to laugh like he did at our home birth talk.

My missions for progress this coming week - start to wash her clothes in non-biological powder for sensitive baby skin (I only just learned that you are not supposed to use biological powder to start with) and pack them away in our newly acquired baby drawer unit and secondly to stop bumping into things.  I'm used to be able to squeeze through tight spaces and I just can't do it anymore without jostling someone or something with my bump!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Mama Chat - A Dish on Parenting from Real Moms

Tonight I'm introducing a new feature - Mama Chat - to this blog.  I keep saying that knowledge is power, and throughout my pregnancy I've enjoyed gathering advice and ideas from other pregnant girls and real moms.  Mama Chat will bring these gems of wisdom to you, directly as told from the real mamas who know the drill.

Some of this advice may ring true with your actual or imagined parenting style and ethos and some of it won't.  I'm sharing these wise words not because they are the right way to parent  but because they are interesting insights and practical solutions that have worked for others and may do so for you.  As you know, I'm a glutton for food for thought.

Tonight's insights come from two fine mamas of one wonderful little girl each, LG & EW.  LG lives in the UK and EW in the USA.   Thanks for your input ladies!!

This is what they had to say in response to a mix of questions (in bold) from me on baby changing:
LG: We never bothered with a top and tail bowl as, personally, I think they are a complete waste of time. I just bought 2 small plastic bowls and these worked perfectly. I did put a F for face on one and B for Bum on the other just to be sure we kept as hygienic as possible.
  • Do newborns need to be bathed or just wiped down in order to get clean?
LG: For the first 6-8 weeks we only bathed her twice a week, in the early days they don't recommend bathing every night as their skin is so sensitive. It's advised that you only use water and although its tempting to use some soap, it can irritate their skin.
  • Changing - Chris thinks I'm nuts for thinking about this one....cotton wool and water or wipes?  If cotton wool, which type (balls, pads, big pleat that you can rip pieces off of....)?
LG: We used cotton wool and water for the first 4 weeks, as again, all the midwives and health visitors advise that baby wipes (even the un-perfumed ones) aren't suitable for newborn skin. However, as you will find you can never get their bottom's really clean when you are only using water, so that is why after a month we moved on to the Pampers sensitive wipes. I would recommend using the cotton wool that you can pull off as then you can use as much or as little as is required.  My sister also recommended buying some cheap flannels (Ikea do a pack of 10 for about £1.50) and these were handy for using if she decided to pee while i changed her and for the poops that end up halfway up their backs - they did make the whole cleaning up process much easier!
  • I've looked into re-usable diapers in the interest of being green but they look like hard work and like they require a lot of laundering.  What's your take on this?
EW: As "green" as I wanted to be after giving birth...the reality is that the first couple of months are hard to accomplish this.  I wasn't interested in wipes or disposable diapers but thought I'd have a starter set around for the beginning until we worked out our system.  With the timing, schedule and lack of hands during the day....we've stuck with these for the time being.  Laundry is hard to do every day so if you're going to do might want to look into a diaper service for washing for the first few months until you can leave baby alone or get longer naps in where you can do laundry.  

I have the starter set for g-diapers which are just the coolest thing ever!  We use them occasionally during the day when I'm home.  Our goals have shifted to just "surviving" with the disposable stuff until it's easier to set her down to deal with the eco-friendly products.  Since you're out of hands & the g-diaper is a flushable layer, it's hard to do one-handed! Also...there are some disposable diapers that vanish quicker in landfills than normal diapers too....those might be of interest for the beginning too.

  • Dirty Diapers - did you get a little box for them? I don't want to put them in my kitchen garbage and have them smell it up and my bathroom one is tiny!
LG: We managed without a box but only because we could put all the dirty nappies straight into the dustbin, you definitely don't want them smelling out the house. We also used the scented bags and they seemed to work pretty well. You may have come across 'nappy angels' in your research, these are basically a nappy disposal system which works by sealing each nappy in its own bag inside a plastic container, most of them hold up to 20 nappies (probably 2-3 days worth in the first few weeks) and helps to avoid endless trips to the bin. I know various people who have these bins and they have all found them really useful. I think I remember getting a voucher for a discounted 'nappy angel' in my bounty pack but forgetting to redeem it in time, so it may be worth seeing if you got one in your pack.

Monday, 16 November 2009

It's Raining Baby...

Yes, it's been raining baby - baby quizzes, bunt cakes, homemade cupcakes that look like Magnolia Bakery professional creations, advice cards, grandma's meatballs, pin the pacifier challenges, sandwiches with the crusts cut off, fine family & friends, wise naturally, I had to take a shower. A Baby Shower. That's what dear N&J organized for me this weekend, and I had a blast!

Thanks guys, and to and everyone that came out to celebrate and talk babies. I'm lucky to have such awesome family and friends on both sides of the pond that have showered me in such fine baby glory.

I didn't think I'd have Baby Shower in the UK since it's more of an American tradition. Though the trend may be starting to take root, it's not firmly established. Fellow American UK residents, N&J suggested we bring our custom to London and they put together a fabulous afternoon for baby and me that mixed traditional US-style baby games with UK-style afternoon tea at my house and lots of baby chat and amusing, comforting words.

Following my brick wall moment of madness last week, this little party had the big effect of firmly pulling me out of my vortex of "what ifs and how’s for when baby arrives" and reminding me that I'm soon due for an amazing, challenging and exciting adventure that should be enjoyed and celebrated. Yes, it will be tough. Yes, we have a lot to learn but we're up for the learning curve and on the right track. Plus, we have a great support network and for that I'm really grateful.

To me, the true ethos of a Baby Shower is to "send off" mamas-to-be into the fray of motherhood with a dose of reassurance and love for the journey. I hope to return the favor some day as more friends take the plunge towards parenthood and think this is one US tradition that the UK should make some space for.

I'll add some 32 week pictures from the Shower to this post imminently. Also coming soon, some wise words of advice from a couple of my mama friends who are "there doing that", which gave me food for thought and further comfort!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Here's the Rub....

I'm 32 weeks pregnant! Wow - only two months to go now (hopefully, provided that she is not running late....). Though I've been charting each week of this journey the imminence of birth hit me today like a brick wall. That sounds bad, but I don't mean it in a negative way. While in the shower I was suddenly enraptured by my swelling tummy and the little person that it holds....a little scared that I still feel I have so much to learn and discover, much of which I probably can't plan for, planner that I am....shocked that it's really truly soon to be three of us day in day out. I can't wait, I am ready and I'm sure Chris and I will be fine. But in this moment the mix of emotions was a bit overwhelming....I lathered my belly and took a deep breath.

My brick wall moment may have spurred me to start reading my Secrets of the Baby Whisperer book by Tracy Hogg. I've heard she is structured and loving but less hard core than Gina Ford who many new parents swear by for routine making. I've only read the first chapter, but her tone and style are conversational and easy to relate to. More on that once I've read more.

I've also started wondering a bit more on random parenting logistics like when babies can sleep through the night without a feed every 2-4 hours and the best way to clean up messy poop - muslin in warm water, cotton wool...and if so which type of cotton wool? (No, I haven't totally lost it!)  I think I'm going to avoid wipes for cost saving and baby skin sensitivity issues but I really don't know what is best.... Like I've said before I'm sure we'll pave our way and find routines and practices that work for us, however, in the absence of really knowing what's best, I'm very open to ideas from experienced moms. Then at least I'll have some starting points to consider and pick and choose from. My wonderings may seem small and ridiculous (they do to me at least) but put them all together and they can be a bit overwhelming too.  Chris says I need to chill and just take things one step at a time.  I know it - sometimes I just get on a roll - I'll blame those raging hormones!

Our lady is now the size of a jicama and is moving around constantly in my belly. She may have less room to stretch out but boy can she wriggle - particularly at night! I just read on Babycenter that it's theorized babies have more control over their movement when their mom's are still at night, thus they take advantage of it! This is no proven theory but I found the reasoning interesting so thought I'd share.

Last but not least, my other odd pregnancy "rub" of the week. Yesterday the crease where my bump meets pelvic area kept really itching. I haven't had issues with itching or dryness but hey, new week, new little ailment. I think the problem may have been exacerbated by my jeans, which hitched to that area via my bump band and subsequently caused my underwear to dig into the crease! Why wear the jeans you ask? Maybe I should have changed but I didn't feel like it....anyway, I found that rubbing a little bit of Vaseline in the crease soothed the itch and kept any irritation at bay. A little tip to try if you're ever caught out with the "bump crease rub!"

Fruit Photo Credit:

Thursday, 12 November 2009

The Tasty Side of Nesting

We just ordered carpet for our bare, stripped but unfinished stairs and I've been throwing out tons of crap to make space for baby drawers, diapers and fun things like that. People say I'm nesting in preparation for bubba. Call it what you like, but it does feel long overdue (the throwing out crap part at least) and kind of therapeutic.

What I'm really enjoying though, is my raring interest for cookery! I've always enjoyed cooking but don't have the time to be uber-creative in the kitchen after a long a day at work. Now with baby on the way and my pregnant body to fuel, I'm upping the ante and broadening the scope of culinary delights that I can serve up.

Practice makes perfect, or more accurately, makes edible, enjoyable meals so my newfound dedication will hopefully pay off even if some meals go awry along the way. And while I'm up for attempting a more challenging slow cooked lamb shank or texmex jambalaya, I'm not talking all fancy complicated recipes here. I'm talking practical, healthy and a step off the beaten path from the tried and tested stock meals I can dish out with my eyes closed on a weekly basis.

I'm sharing one dinner and one dessert option I recently came across. Both are pretty tasty and easy to pull off.  The salmon dish is chock full of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, which our bodies don't make naturally and thus need from our diet. Sorry if you're not a fish person.  The omegas are also important brain fuel for baby. The cookie recipe is super fiberlicious and thus a great answer to the dreaded pregnancy constipation I keep hearing about.

Oh, sorry about the mix of C vs. F temperatures and grams vs. cups below....I've shared one UK and one US recipe and don't have the energy to do the conversions!

Salmon with pine nuts & lime

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients: 2 salmon fillets weighing approx 130g each, lime (juice & rind), 1 tsp chopped parsley, 2 tbsp pine nuts, finely chopped lemongrass


Preheat oven to 180C / Gas mark 4.

Place salmon pieces on a flat piece of foil in baking dish.  Squeeze over the lime juice, zest & lemongrass. Sprinkle with parsley and black pepper; fold over foil to create parcel.

Cook in oven for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle over pine nuts.  Return to oven to brown the nuts and finish cooking the fish for about 5 minutes.

Serve with new potatoes & steamed broccoli or spinach, pouring cooking liquid from parcel over potatoes and veggies.

Oaty Apricot & Cranberry Cookies

Ingredients: 2/3 cup brown sugar, 2/3 cup sugar, ½ cup softened butter, 1 egg, 2 tsp vanilla extract, 1 ¾ cup oats, ½ cup chopped dried cranberries, 1/3 cup chopped dried apricots, 1 cup flour, ½ cup wholemeal flour, ¾ tsp baking soda, ¾ tsp salt


Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheet with parchment.

Cream together sugars and butter. Add the egg and vanilla. Mix well.

Combine the flour, soda and salt; stir to mix. Add to the creamed mixture, kneading with the back of a wooden spoon to moisten all the dry ingredients. The dough will be stiff. Form tbsp sized balls of dough and place on baking sheet. Allow about 4 inches between each cookie.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until light brown. Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on baking sheet before transferring to cooling rack.

Happy cooking and more importantly, happy eating!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

The Doctor Says the H1N1 Flu Vaccine Decision is Mine

I decided to see the doctor to discuss my H1N1 aka swine flu vaccine dilemma.  I made the appointment on Monday, and by the time this morning arrived I felt fairly decided that I would NOT get the vaccine.  If I'd already had our baby, maybe I would, to be on the safe side.  But as she's inside me and the potential side effects of this vaccine are still unknown, I just don't feel comfortable taking the plunge.  Although I have not always seen eye to eye with my doctor (see running in pregnancy advice), I do respect his opinions and advice.

He explained that it was my decision as to whether to get the H1N1 vaccine; he also seemed to understand my concerns with taking it.  Although the official government health advice is for pregnant women to get the vaccine, I appreciated that he considered my personal situation and did not push the medical solution.  Don't get me wrong; he didn't advise me not to take the vaccine but instead didn't press me to take it.  

If his expertise and assessment of me indicated disproportionate risk, I expect he would have given different advice.  This has sealed the deal for me; I will not be getting the H1N1 vaccine (unless I have a major change of circumstance or change of heart).

I did have a hot water and lemon when I returned home from the surgery....just to be on the safe, un-vaccinated side.....

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Sweet Dream, More Like Beautiful Nightmare...

The only thing beautiful about my dream last night was our baby’s birth at the end of it.

I dreamt that I had an early show and visited my American gynaecologist to tell her that I thought I was in labor. She doesn’t even know I’m pregnant by the way. I caught her on her way out the door (where from, I don’t know) and convinced her to overcome her scepticism and examine me. She did, and sure enough, our baby was on her way out. I wasn’t in any pain, but the next thing I knew she had me on an operating table and was performing a caesarean and then, poof, our tiny baby came into the world! I watched this scene removed from my own body, and when I looked back at myself on the operating table I was an old woman, cackling away and wrinkled. Then I woke up.

My brain must have been decompressing the advice I read earlier yesterday in What to Expect When You’re Expecting about how bizarre dreams are common in pregnancy. Always a sucker for weird suggestion, my subconscious jumped right on the bizarre dream bandwagon and churned this disturbing one out for me last night.

I hope I don’t have to have a caesarean so maybe that was my mind’s way of coming to terms that in labor, anything is possible? Maybe I have “latent fears” of delivering early in the wake of my rectal pressure incident this weekend? But how did I turn into a crazy old woman? Anyone else care to analyze?

Sunday, 8 November 2009

The Pain in My Ass

Today I encountered a real pain in my ass - literally, that's what it was.....a pain, or pressure, in my rectal area. I've had this happen sporadically throughout my pregnancy but today this little niggle decided to stick around from first thing in the morning to sometime in the middle of the afternoon. I wasn't constipated. I don't have any haemorrhoids....I checked. More uncomfortable than hurt, my butt felt like a cranked up pressure cooker, a little achy, almost sore? In past this feeling has radiated into my upper thighs but it preferred to stay nice and concentrated in my butt today.

My 31 week pregnancy newsletter had a link to signs of pre-term labor, one of which is increased pressure in the pelvic area. Red alert! Does rectal area equal pelvic area? gut feeling after an initial stomach lurch was no. I wasn't experiencing any other signs of pre-term labor so I then felt less concerned and more stymied....had our baby has found a pillow in my rectal passage? Did I sleep in some funny position? I've also read that first babies can engage or drop in the pelvis from 33/34 weeks but I'm not there yet and have had this feeling before only to have it fade as it did today, which does not suggest engagement. I considered whether I was again going nuts, but fellow mama-to-be LH reassured me that she has also experienced this tender/tight ass sensation since becoming pregnant. The old adage that misery, or in this case wacked out pregnancy symptom, loves company proved true. Ahhh, what will tomorrow bring?

I've included a couple of 31 week photos. Please excuse the lines on my bare belly shot; this is a pitfall of bump jeans with tight elastic at the top! Also direct your attention away from my little hooded bellybutton - not popped, but not pretty!!

This week baby is weighing in around the size/shape of four navel oranges. She can turn her head from side to side and dream! I found some maternity pads at Mothercare (they do a handy 48 pads for the week after birth pack & disposable undies for pretty cheap) and Chris and I started shifting some things in what will be baby's currently looks like a tornado hit it, but when that blows through there will be progress.

Fruit Photo Credit:

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Should I get the Swine Flu Vaccination?

Yesterday my doctor's surgery called to offer me the swine flu vaccination.  The UK's swine flu vaccination program began on October 21 and apparently here in London, high riskers such as my pregnant self were being offered time slots for the H1N1 shot.

I told the lady from the doctor's office that I'd have to call her back since I'm not sure that I want the vaccination.  Please don't raise your eyebrows at me - I'm really not sure if I do.

I don't want to court controversy for the sake of it, but this is a new vaccine that is still currently being tested.  I'm not one for pill popping at the best of times and I reserve vaccination and medicine taking for when I genuinely need it.  I've never had the seasonal flu shot, which is offered more routinely to young adults in the USA but not in the UK.   (Quick side note - here is an excellent link on comparing common cold versus flu symptoms - thank you Mama E).

The UK NHS and US CDC both suggest that no dangerous, ill effects are expected from the H1N1 vaccine. Similar flu vaccines for H5N1 have come across as safe in clinical trials, and these "official, expert" sites quote that changing the strain of a virus in a seasonal flu vaccine does not substantially affect the safety of the vaccines.  But isn't it more than slightly worrying that the US has apparently granted legal immunity to H1N1 vaccine makers?

Pill popping I am not, but anti-vaccine I'm not either.  I had all the routine vaccinations growing up and I've had sporadic top-ups as and when needed for travel without giving these vaccinations a second thought.  If I delved deeper would I find lots of potentially devious chemicals in these vaccinations?  Probably.  Am I fine?  Yes.  Do I even want to venture into the black hole arena of pharmaceuticals and drugs?  No!  Yet I'm conflicted because this is a new vaccine, and conscious that I'm not just acting for me anymore.

From what I can see there are two potential concerns about the H1N1 vaccine.  First issue, the mercury preservative thiomersal or thimerosal as its referred to in the USA, which has been found to be dangerous when taken in high doses.  Secondly, adjuvants, or agents added to a vaccine to make it more effective. The CDC reports that all flu shots, including H1N1, currently distributed are adjuvant free and that there are some thimerosal-free shots available.  Worryingly, the UK vaccine, Pandemrix, appears to contain both thiomersal and adjuvants according to this link that I got via the NHS online.

So what should I do - get the vaccine in the name of protecting myself and baby from H1N1 or stay vigilant and take preventative measures such washing my hands, keeping my hands off my face, gargling with warm salty water, cleaning my nose with warm salty water and drinking hot liquids that wash proliferating viruses in the throat to the stomach where they die?

Published on Blog Her

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

What to Pack Should Be the Least of My Concerns

I've got a little over 9 weeks to go until DD-Day.  Earlier today I started pondering what should be included in and when I should pack my infamous hospital bag.  Yes, I'm still planning a home birth, but packing a hospital bag is like a right of passage for pregnant women.  Even if you plan for a home birth, a hospital bag should still be at the ready just in case.  It's an acknowledgement that your baby is almost in town.  It's a sanity guard for when you're in the heat of labor and need to bust a move for the hospital.

I felt a little bizarre thinking about my hospital bag this early but it's my first time, I have pregnancy on the brain and I want to be prepared. 

Fast forward two hours and I was standing in Boots (aka CVS) grimacing over an aisle of pads and adult diapers.  I saw some Depends but I'm pretty sure that's not what I'm after.....I'm certain that they make specific maternity pads for after the birth, right?  If anyone has any advice here please share.  All the diapers and pads started to blur and then I lost the will, quickly exiting Boots and rolling my eyes that maternity pad shopping is now on my radar.

When I travel Chris usually audits my suitcase to stop me bringing too many things.  He says I like to take my clothes on vacation.  I'm not a fussy dresser, I just like options and tend to be indecisive.  That doesn't bode well for packing a maternity bag that I probably, hopefully, may not need.  Was this going to get stressful?

No!  Leave it to me to create unnecessary stress.  I'm going to stay strong; there are lots of check lists (yay, lists!) out there about what to include in hospital bags and on my walk home from Boots I promised myself that I'm going to take a minimalist approach....I'll tell you how I get on once I actually pack the bag.  Aside from working out where I can get some maternity pads and finding out what the heck arnica actually is, I have most of the things I need and ample time to get organized.

I've also stumbled across a not-so-surprising US/UK difference in hospital bag advice: In the USA diapers and maternity pads are usually provided; in the UK they are not and need to be packed (ahh, the differences of private, pricey healthcare versus NHS no frills).

Aside from the usual suspect advice and items to bring for mama, baby and birthing partner included on most hospital bag lists, here are a few other gems that I've heard.  If you have any other tips, please add a comment!
  • Pack 2 small bags - one for labor and one for your hospital stay - this may help you stay better organized
  • Remember to pack your glasses; even if you wear contacts, you may not want to wear them through labor
  • Pack a pair of flip flops for the shower; if you're a clean freak like me who wears flip flops to the gym pool, this advice was a real winner!
  • Bring along some baby wipes or cotton wool for changing your baby; these are not provided by the NHS
  • Pack baby nail clippers or an emery board in case your little one has long nails that need trimming
  • Pack your Baby Book to jot down all your baby's birth information

Monday, 2 November 2009

Parenting Trials - Prepare to be Judged

As promised here are my 30 week pictures - a close up of bump and shot of T&D and me during our weekend explorations.  T&D live in Holland and T tells me that home birth is very common and accepted there.  Following my research into the differing views on home birth in the US and UK, I was interested to hear of another Western country that champions home birth.  T, if you have any more information to share on this point please add a comment!

I was interested to read Kate Harding of's comments on this story about a mother who was booted off a Southwest Airlines internal US flight with her 2-year-old because he wouldn't stop shouting "Go, plane go!" and "I want Daddy!"  Looking at and beyond this specific incident, Kate both suggests that parents have a responsibility to act like adults and proactively encourage appropriate behavior from their children in public BUT that sometimes even parents' best efforts are in vain and in those instances the greater public needs to understand and accept that kids are kids who can't always be reasoned into socially "correct" behavior.

I initially read this story because Chris and my transatlantic life is going to involve frequent plane travel and I'm anticipating needing to develop a bag of tricks for soothing an infant, then toddler then child when we take to the skies.  We are aware that confined spaces at 30,000 ft and screaming children are not an ideal combination, and I'm sure we'll do our best to make our journeys smooth for our family and our fellow passengers.  From this story's headline, Southwest's actions seemed pretty harsh at first glance; but then again, I wonder how much this mother did to soothe her little screamer?....

Little children attract attention, for themselves and for their parents.  They often can't be reasoned with and don't conform to social norms so I'm prepared to become less inconspicuous as a parent than I am now (or than I was before passers by started clocking my pregnant belly).  I don't know how I'll deal with this but I expect I probably won't have time, energy or the focus to really care, but I do agree with Kate in that parents need to be adults and encourage decent behavior from their kids.  If my little one is screaming in the middle of a supermarket and I'm more concerned with what brand of oatmeal to buy than quieting her, I will probably deserve dirty looks.  In fact, I'm sure I've dished out those same looks to women who ignore their crying kids and barge through crowded train stations running over people with their weapons, aka strollers!  But on the other side of the coin, if parents are genuinely trying to soothe their tantrum-throwing mite in the corner of a restaurant, I think fellow customers should cut them some slack.

As at parent every day is going to be a journey and trial, at home and in the public eye.  Chris and I are gearing up to enter an arena where everything from vaccinations to bathing to blankets to transatlantic travel will be debated and often judged, and we're just going to have to get on with it through all this white noise.  Having said that, I do feel it's important that parents act like parents and set some boundaries for their little ones whether at home or out in public.  As long as we are trying, hopefully others will recognize that and not be too harsh in their judgements!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Up to My Eyes in Hormones

Rightly or wrongly, women are often accused of being overly hormonal, particularly at that certain time of the month.  I don't think that I usually suffer from any serious PMS symptoms but now that I'm pregnant, I'm constantly reminded that the influx of hormones raging through my body may turn me into a weeping, wacky wild woman or a clumsy oaf with heartburn, stretch marks and varicose veins.

Please join me in knocking HARD on wood that I haven't yet fallen victim to these unfortunate "badges of pregnancy" aside from my dear, occasional moments of madness.  Saying that, last weekend my right eye was really bothering me.  It wasn't red, swollen, bloodshot or giving me double vision but just prone to random bouts of sensitivity where it would suddenly burn and then spontaneously start to tear.  I didn't know what the deal was and ironically didn't even consider that this new ailment could be linked to those fateful pregnancy hormones until I stumbled upon dry eye syndrome in my pregnancy newsletter.  My sporadic tearing had ceased by then - it stopped as suddenly as it started - but it looks like those pregnancy hormones were yet again making themselves known.

I'm now 30 weeks pregnant and our daughter is the size of a cabbage, weighing in at about 3 pounds!  It's hard for me to imagine that I now have a real, nearly developed baby in my belly and that in about 10 weeks she'll arrive here with us.  This may be what we've been working towards and waiting for but it's still mind boggling all the same.  Chris and I still have plenty prepare and take on board during this home stretch but ultimately we are ready and know the real learning will begin when she is here with us.  I'm excited!

Our great friends T&D just spent the weekend with us and it's been a fabulous, relaxed couple of days.  I will share 30 week pictures tomorrow.

Fruit Photo Credit: