How to fly when pregnant

As a bit of a jet setter with all my work travels, I have written in the past about the effects of flying and jet lag on infertility….but now I am 31 weeks pregnant I wondered what are the effects of flying whilst pregnant?

I don’t have lots of facts for you on this blog post, I know – unlike me!  However, I can tell you that the general advice is not to fly after 37 weeks or 32 weeks if you are carrying multiples.  Every airline has different rules about letting pregnant women fly, so check before you book your ticket!

Just because it is OK to fly before 37 weeks, this doesn’t mean that you won’t suffer side effects of flying when pregnant!!  Overall you are likely to experience leg swelling, bloody nose, ear problems and motion sickness will probably make any pregnancy related nausea worse.  Deep Vein Thrombosis is a higher risk if you fly when pregnant.

Here I offer you the effects that I have personally experienced and some lessons I’ve learned along the way.

So far, I have taken three transatlantic trips in my first trimester, two in my second trimester and two in my third trimester. Two of these trips in the first trimester have required me to make two connections – that’s three legs of flying!!! These trips were quite intense on my body and took a lot of energy out of me.  But overall, I survived them all!  I would like to say that I got used to flying when pregnant, but unfortunately as I get closer to my due date, it becomes more uncomfortable and I discover new challenges!

Picking the right seat in advance.  Choose your airline carefully!  Check out the average legroom by airline here at these two websites: US Airlines overview & All airlines at seatguru.com.  Even before I was pregnant I would choose an aisle seat because of my terribly weak bladder and Irritable Bowels….but this has never been so important when pregnant.  Even when I was 6 weeks pregnant, I went to the toilet over 20 times on a 7 hour flight.  It was ridiculous!  I use the Seat Guru app to check in advance where the seat is in comparison to the toilets.  I like to choose to sit about 4 rows or so from the toilet – not so close you get the smell, noise and annoying people bumping you, but close enough to make a dash for it when it is empty!!

Upgrade if you can afford it.  Sounds obvious!  I have tried to upgrade on the red eye (overnight flight) a few times, but have failed to succeed!  Last time I was 5th on the list, and all 4 people in front of me got upgraded!! I was gutted.  Showing off a big bump doesn’t help unfortunately.  I had even saved up lots of my air miles just for this purpose knowing I’d pregnant at some point in the future!!  I don’t have several thousands of dollars to just buy a business class seat, so I’ve stuck it out in economy for all my flights.

Drinking and Feeding yourself.  Carry an empty plastic water bottle whenever possible to keep hydrated, particularly if you get stuck on the plane before takeoff or taxing after landing, it might be almost two hours by the time you get your next drink!

Fill up your carry-on bag with snacks for both journeys.  I also learned that it’s important to keep snacks for the return journey too just in case you are departing a foreign airport and the shops aren’t open, or certain foods make you nauseous.

I made the mistake of relying on the lunch given out on the plane…they cooked a pasta in a tomato herby sauce and before I even got the food I felt sick from the smell of the herby sauce.  That was the only choice, so I went hungry as I tried to force it down me, it just wasn’t happening!  I also slept straight through an entire meal service because of my tiredness so missed out on food, by the time I got off the plane, got through customs and security again for my next flight, I hadn’t eaten for 7 hours.  I was feeling so, so sick.  I didn’t just have the hun-grumps I was feeling light headed and dizzy.  Fortunately I had water with me at the least.

And another tip – don’t carry nuts, seeds, fruit or dried fruit otherwise it is likely you will have to declare them to customs when you land in another country– and ain’t nobody got time for that!

Getting in the Sleep.  In my first trimester I was suffering a lot from pregnancy tiredness, add on a 5,6 or even 7 hour time zone difference and I am screwed.  For my trip to Turkey I travelled through 4 different time zones.  I strongly suggest not trying to follow a routine, rather listen to your body and sleep when you can.  This is not easy to do.  I had to be at work at certain times and so that meant waking up in the middle of my sleep cycle…I was permanently tired and yawning throughout the day.  Fortunately, most people knew about my pregnancy very early on so they didn’t take it personally as I yawned through their briefs!!!

Remembering your Medication.  This was a nightmare.  I got it wrong big time with my second trip.  My first trip I did the progesterone in oil intra-muscular injections and administered them myself.  It was challenging and I hated it, but in terms of timing this one was easy.  Do the injection just before going to bed.  It didn’t matter about the time zone change because the progesterone lasts several hours longer than 24 hours, so it didn’t matter.  However, this time around after struggling with giving myself the injections, I took the progesterone capsule suppositories, 3 times a day.  This was really hard to do, especially with a 7 hour time zone difference.  I think the first day I travelled I took too much, then on my second day and third day I forgot to take my second suppository in the middle of the day because I was so busy with work.  Then I forgot to change my estrogen patches I was supposed to do on the red eye flight to Turkey.  I remembered the afternoon that I arrived in Turkey when I got into the shower.  So I would suggest putting reminders in a phone with the exact timings so as not to forget.

Don’t forget the sick bags.  Have one of those airline paper bags in your bag just in case you are in a queue and you can’t hold it in!  Fortunately, it didn’t happen to me, but there were times when I panicked I might puke and couldn’t make it to a toilet in time!!!!!

Coping with strange smells.  On one flight I was sat near a man who had a bad Bodily Odour problem.  I was trying not to vomit in my seat, hoping I would just get used to the smell for my 8 hour flight.  Fortunately, he moved two rows forward and my sensitive nose was saved!  But I have experienced smells of things I can’t bear with people sat next to me and then generally in foreign countries the smells are just different.  This is something I don’t know how to resolve or overcome.  It’s just one of those things I guess I’ve got to suck up.  Sorry I don’t have any ideas of how to cope with this, it is more of a warning!  Do you have any ideas??!

The swelling and back aches.  Later into my second and third trimesters I noticed that when I got off the plane the veins in my arms were massively swollen!  At first I was terrified, I looked like a freak and worried they were going to burst or a sign of something bad!  But I discovered later that this is to be expected when flying when pregnant.  There is also no avoiding crappy airline seats – I pack a spare feather pillow, fleecy blanket and neck pillow to make my seat more comfortable.  I have also treated myself to a maternity massage where I had 60 minutes of pure bliss focusing mostly on my lower back.  I have discovered in my third trimester that the lower back has quite a lot of tiny muscles I never knew existed!!

Get yourself Global Entry.  I successfully applied for global entry half way through my pregnancy – this enables you to use the automated passport border control as a ‘trusted traveller’.  The reason I got this was because one time I arrived into Chicago and queued for 2hrs to get through border control…I was feeling very faint by the end.  Nope.  I decided I am not doing that again, particularly for much later on in the pregnancy! I almost punched the woman behind me in the queue because she obviously came from a country where there was no such thing as personal space.  I think the hormones didn’t help me with my patience! So I applied and got a conditional approval after two weeks of applying – then had to wait three months for an available interview slot time that I could get to.  This interview was really quick and easy, it wasn’t so much as an interview for me, more of simply provide my finger prints and have a photo taken.

The other good thing about Global entry is that it also gives you TSA pre-check which is really nice…getting your shoes on and off in the third trimester is a pain in the butt so this has been a nice luxury!!! In my first trimester I travelled to Turkey, and as a result for four trips after I must have been put on a ‘list’ and got ‘extra screening’, known as the dreaded SSSS that gets printed on your boarding pass.  If you ever see this on your boarding pass – it is the ‘not so secret code’ that you will get extra screening.  All this means is that I got a thorough search of my bags, swabbed for explosives and a good pat down.  As long as you don’t fuss about it, the security agents are pretty good about it.

Take it easy and take a taxi.  I learned the hard way that a taxi is a must!  I am usually good and whenever I can get public transport I do.  I personally think it’s a lazy expense that some of my colleagues take.  So for my first trip I took the train and walked to the hotel for 15 mins.  However, this was actually a bad idea.  It was warm and I was dressed for the cold airplane, I almost passed out on my walk to the hotel!  Then lifting and carrying bags up and down stairs when there are no lifts is equally dumb (especially when I had my poor hyper-stimulated ovaries being tender still!).

Know who to call when things aren’t right.  Have a list of phone numbers you can call in case of an emergency, get info on doctors & hospital numbers/names/addresses for where you are going before departing. Fortunately, I’ve not needed this (although I learned this lesson more recently with my experience during the Brussels attacks and the importance of having emergency contacts ready to go and not stored on your phone!).

Not for everyone – telling people you are pregnant.  I know that many people do not like to tell others before the end of the first trimester about their pregnancy, I absolutely get that.  But for me on these work trips it has been really helpful.  I don’t feel guilty for running out of the room to the toilets when I need to, I don’t need to explain the yawning, I don’t need to explain why I am not drinking alcohol when everyone else does, generally I have felt comfortable overall because I have told people I am pregnant.  I don’t need to make excuses or justify my actions or wonder if people are guessing I am pregnant!

So that’s all my thoughts!  There are also some things that Baby Science Project suggested to me from her extensive work travels during her pregnancy…such as flight socks and baby aspirin.  I never used these…mostly because I haven’t been able to find any socks that aren’t horribly itchy.

My OB said I am OK to keep flying up to 34 weeks, assuming I pass all my checkups!  Although it is not top of my list to do when pregnant, it actually hasn’t been quite as bad as I thought.  It is definitely true that the first and third trimesters are the worst for travelling.  In the first trimester it’s the nausea.  In the third trimester, it is just uncomfortable and difficult to move around.  But….I survived to tell the tale.

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Entering the third trimester

PC Diary @27w2d

I am not quite there yet, but almost!  The third timester is just down the road.  How do I feel about this?  Is there a word such as excitified?  (excited-terrified)

Life is good.  Pregnancy is obviously not a picnic, but I knew that would be the case!  The second trimester has been good to me.  I have had energy despite rarely being able to sleep longer than 3 hours at a time (somewhere between 2-5 times a night I get up to pee).  Rocky moves around a lot, she is a big kicker and I love every single one she makes.

My weight hasn’t sky rocketed and so far I have gained a total of about 7.5lbs.  Which is kind of strange looking at me and my growing bump I can’t understand why I am not much heavier.  I am falling behind on the ‘ideal’ weight gain.  At my last scan at 24 weeks Rocky was measuring in the 50 something percentile, so it wasn’t a concern then.  Now I am hoping she hasn’t fallen behind. I am being very conscious over ensuring I am eating enough! that is what the doctor said is the most important thing.  Below is my weight tracker.  My weight gain (in blue) isn’t falling into the cone of ‘expected weight gain’ (the grey area) and hasn’t for a while.  The good news is that I am steadily and slowly gaining weight.

dani weight pregnancy.jpg

At my last 24 week appointment my iron levels were too low (well this was expected because I told them already I was slightly anemic before getting pregnant!); so I am taking more iron, hopefully that will work because at my 28 week appointment next week I will be doing a complete anemia panel which will hopefully pinpoint more about the anemia. Yey please take some more of my blood!

Braxton hicks contractions have been plaguing me since about 16 weeks.  I get a few every hour, but I am used to them now.  Sometimes at work it can get a bit awkward if I am in the middle of a meeting and I am sitting down, I have to get up and move around to release the contraction otherwise it will hurt.  It’s kind of funny sometimes watching and feeling my uterus go hard into  weird position, sometimes off to one side…and then my belly softens after it the contraction released.

My only real ailment to have a little complaint about right now is that my lower back has been very sore (thankfully I have an amazing husband to massage it – we even looked at videos to make sure we were massaging it right!) and when I walk for more than 5 minutes something is clicking in my lower back/hips which causes a little bit of pain :-s But really, these are all liveable things at the moment.

In general I have no complaints, just happy to be making it into the third trimester with little issues so far. Whoop whoop!!! After next week, my OB appointments become more frequent – every 2 weeks :-s yikes, this pregnancy is getting real!

Baby clothing that says NO to gender stereotypes?

I like pink.  I like purple.  I like flowers.  I like ribbons. I like make up. I like baking.  What am I? I am a girl.

I like blue.  I like green.  I like dinosaurs.  I like building stuff.  I like space.  What am I?  I am a GIRL.

What will my baby like?  I don’t know yet. And to begin with, she doesn’t get to choose what she wears…I do. (And Chris of course too :-)) So why do I feel that when I go shopping for baby clothes and decor that I am constantly feeling the pressure into buying stuff for my baby that fits some kind of gender stereotype?

Now as a reminder, I live in Virginia, USA.  Technically I live in a city, so there are plenty of shops to buy baby related items in.  We have all the big department stores and big name brands available.  We also have a handful of boutique shops.  But I don’t live in a city like DC, New York or Boston where there are a multitude of options.  Where I live I feel like there is little choice except for pink and purple (for girls) or blue and green (for boys)…occasionally we will find grey, brown and yellow gender neutral clothing or items.  But they are usually soooo dull (QED old navy’s unisex page)

BTW – we still haven’t bought anything specifically for Rocky yet!!!  I have been looking…but haven’t committed.  Basically I consider it my reconnaissance mission.  I will buy something eventually, but I’m still not really ready for clothing.  We have bought things for Rocky’s nursery however, so we have spent time looking at baby decor.  I set up a pinterest board a while ago and have been adding things as I find them.  I had a vision – Chris had a vision too…so we have worked together on figuring out what we both want.  This process made me realise that many of the ‘high street shops’ separate out girls & boys kids decor.  I often found myself in the boys section where the cool animals were!  (BTW – why are owls always dressed up in pink??!!! Can’t boys like owls too?!)

So what did I do about it? I looked on the web of course…here are a few useful places to look:

Huff’s 12 kids clothing lines that break the gender stereotypes: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/07/kids-clothing-lines-break-gender-stereotypes_n_6925592.html

Baby Gap and H&M aren’t too bad: http://www.gap.com/products/baby-clothes.jsp  http://www.hm.com/us/products/kids/newborn

Interesting Gender Neutral Parenting Article: http://www.parents.com/parenting/gender-neutral-parenting/

Gender EQUAL clothes with a kickstarter campaign: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mitzaccessories/mitz-apparel-gender-equal-clothing-for-babies-and 

By the way – yes you will see Rocky in pink and flowers…but also many other colours and objects!  I am also not yet of a fully formed opinion about gender neutral parenting.  So I will revisit this topic some time again in the future I have no doubt!

Add in your thoughts and ideas for places to shop into the comments below!!!

 

4 weeks of needless worrying?

Pudding Club Diary @ 24 Weeks 2 Days

Today I went for my follow up ultrasound after Rocky’s bowel appeared to be ‘echogenic’ at our 20 week scan, and again it had shown up as ‘echogenic’ at the echo cardiogram at 22 weeks.  It was a relatively quick scan, Rocky was moving around a lot as usual, but the technician was able to get all the measurements needed quickly.  Rocky is on track for her growth and now weighs a grand total of 1lb 6oz!  At 20 weeks she was just 11oz.  Hew bowel was still echogenic but the technician said she didn’t think it was very bright.  And yes, Rocky is still a girl!  The technician showed us her lady parts, but I said I believe you if you say so, to me it looked like a blob of grey nothing much on the screen!!!

After the ultrasound I took the lovely glucose challenge test.  This test provides an indicator of Gestational Diabetes.  This test is apparently slightly different to how the UK does it.  I did not need to fast for this test. I  was given a small bottle of very sweet liquid to drink;  as I was reaching the end of the bottle the drink was making me feel slightly sick.  Bleugh.  The drink itself didn’t taste bad (I had the orange flavour – I could choose between orange and fruit punch!). 1 hour later I had my blood drawn which will be sent off to see what my glucose levels are at.  When the phlebotomist took my blood she noticed I was looking a bit different – the drink had made me feel a bit light headed!  She asked if I had eaten something (which I had) and offered me a snack before I left!  Depending on the results of this blood test will depend on whether I need to take the next type test which is the glucose tolerance test which requires fasting and testing over three hours.  Apparently that is what is ordinarily tested in the UK first?  I think my OB told me this because she used to live and work in Ireland and knows we are Brit expats.

Meanwhile, whilst waiting the hour to finish the glucose challenge test we met with the OB and she told us everything was looking wonderful with Rocky.  Phew!  We went over some housekeeping matters, such as completing a pre-registration form for the hospital, pediatricians and birthing classes.  I also had to sign a form that said we would not video record any part of the birth.  Well I wasn’t really planning on doing that anyway!!! Then she told us that even the echogenic bowel wasn’t looking bright anymore.  For some reason she decided to tell us that after we left 4 weeks ago she looked at the scan again a second time and thought perhaps it wasn’t as bright as she first thought.  And now she tells us!!  Could have saved us 4 weeks of worry! Sigh…..well, better to be safe than sorry I guess! But really???!!!?

Let’s hope the good news continues with the results of my glucose challenge test in a few days! Fingers crossed!

It’s been a while!

PC Diary @ 24 Weeks 1 Day

It has been a while since I last wrote so this may be a bit long, but I have broken it up into chunks.  I took a mini break from my blog to focus on some other things that I really needed to get out of the way.  I have thoroughly missed it!  I have been reading other blogs, but not actively getting involved because quite frankly I am an addict after all and it is quite amazing how much I really care that others are finding themselves well on whatever stage their journey is at.  For me, my journey is literally in the middle of nowhere.  I know I am somewhere good, but feel like nowhere. Here is what has happened since I last put an entry in my pudding club diary….

I am 24 weeks pregnant today.  It’s insane because I am sure the last time I checked I was 20 weeks.  I have lived in a strange four weeks of madness – feel free to skip to the paragraphs that look like they might be the most interesting to you!

THE NEW HOUSE. After my mum flew back to the UK, Chris and I had to finish off getting our garden in order.  It was quite a mess when we first moved in.  My mother did a wonderful job of landscaping the front garden (she’s a bit terrifying when you give her a hedge trimmer!!!), but there was still more to do in order to make it look truly presentable and get it up to the standards of our new neighbourhood association.  We received a letter just after mum had left warning us that our garden needed tending to and this had been our 4th warning since April this year.  The association was not aware we had just bought the house so we thought – screw you we have worked hard at trying to get this all done!  As our garden is on a corner plot almost all of it is on view from the street.  But all our new neighbours have been commenting how lovely it is to see the garden restored and acknowledge that it will take some time to get it up to scratch.  Particularly the lawn which has been overrun with elephant grass.  With 100F weather the past few weeks and my pregnant state it has been slow going.  What is exciting is the beginning of our vegetable garden!  Chris built some raised beds and we planted carrots, turnips, radishes, squash and broccoli. Yum!  We plan on having three raised beds for rotating a variety of crops.  Homegrown food tastes so much better – assuming we can keep the neighbourhood wild rabbit and other various bugs away, stopping them from getting some early tastings in before us!

THE BABYMOON.  We went away on our babymoon cruise from Boston to Montreal.  I have written a separate post about this one.  But in short, we loved it (even if Chris got sea sick!!!) and the idea of arriving somewhere new every morning was simply wonderful.  There was also a lack of internet so this meant I lost touch with some blogs L But also took a break from the outside world.  It was nice and I wished it could have been longer.

THE INTERVIEW. The day after we returned from our babymoon I underwent a 3 hour test for the job I had applied for in my team (this would be a promotion for me).  Then the day after that was my interview.  It was a tough process because as I have said before I was up against some of my very talented colleagues.  I went out to dinner with all the other candidates the night before the interview (some of whom had flown across the Atlantic for the process) and it was very strange.  Strange, because I would love the job, I am certainly capable of it and wanted it, but at the same time would welcome any of them to join our team.  The type of community I work in is a small one, so we tend to all know each other somehow and the job opportunities are limited so it is inevitable that this happens.  When my boss later told me that I was not successful I was disappointed in myself, but at the same time equally happy for my friend who was successful.  Let’s call it a certain schizophrenic moment in my life.  I am hard on myself when I do not succeed, but equally I am happy that I did my best and have no regrets, so how can I ask more of myself?

THE FETAL ECHO CARDIOGRAM.  Back to the week of the interview, the very morning of my interview I had an appointment with the maternal fetal medicine specialist doctor.  This appointment was scheduled because we conceived through IVF, apparently there is an increased risk to baby’s heart.  I did some research on this issue and found that it was a very slight increased risk (like 1 or 2%) so I am not sure how essential it is, but we did get to see some very cool stuff!  I was a little worried, which I think is nothing unusual, and it was also probably bad timing having the interview lined up for later the afternoon.  Fortunately, Rocky was a little star – or a little show off according to the ultrasound technician.  The whole thing took about 45 minutes.  We got to see Rocky’s overall growth i.e. her head, brain, body etc were all measured, and the very cool bit – her heart.  We were shown all the different valves and atriums of the heart, the blood flow and its direction being pumped in and out.  Quite simply put, it was an incredible experience.

heart.jpg

The blood flowing through a valve appeared heart shaped!

Rocky was still showing an ‘echogenic bowel’ (where the bowel shows up bright as a bone on the scan) – that was identified from the anatomy scan at 20 weeks.  The specialist Doctor talked to us about that, she said she thought it was most likely she had swallowed some blood from a bleed I may have had in the early stages of pregnancy. Although I never had any bleeding (thankfully), it is still possible and not unusual with IVF babies according to the doc. She also asked if we had tested for Cystic Fibrosis.  We didn’t test for this because we thought as it’s a genetic disease and we don’t have anyone in the family that has it that we wouldn’t bother.  It turns out we were completely wrong with this assumption.  We had no idea how common it can be to be a Cystic Fibrosis carrier!  I looked into this some more and it is interesting that some carriers can actually exhibit mild symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis.  I have had this disgusting and unexplained phlegmyness that builds up over time ever since I returned from Iraq…I’ve always been seeking an explanation for this and there is some evidence to suggest that some symptoms can be triggered by a traumatic event. Weirdly coincidental?!  So perhaps I should get tested after all. We have a follow up scan scheduled for Tuesday so we can see if the echogenic bowel comes up again.

My mum pointed out to me that it was far easier in her day because you wouldn’t have to worry about these kind of soft markers for potential problems.  I am inclined to be in some agreement.  Ignorance may be bliss.  The silly thing is that even if Rocky were to have Cystic Fibrosis, medicine is very good that she is most likely to have a very normal life.  Actually my biggest concern isn’t Cystic Fibrosis as a diagnosis, it is the association of an echogenic bowel with intrauterine growth restrictions leading to pre-term labour.  This is my personal biggest worry.  Currently as at our last 22 week scan Rocky is within the normal percentile…and my bump is growing nicely so my worries are most likely irrational.

One last thing about our scan with the maternal fetal medicine – the doctor said there was some slight regression of blood pumping through one valve, she thought that as it was still very early this wouldn’t be an issue as she is so tiny still and can grow stronger with no problems.  She said she will put it on my notes and my Obstetrician can make a decision whether or not to book another echo cardiogram later on to be sure. So we continue to wait.

MY EXECUTIVE DEVELOPMENT.  So another reason I have been off the blog is that I attended my first residential course that kicked off the start of my executive development programme.  I am on a programme with 23 others from across my organisation, coming from various countries with various nationalities (like me an expat working in another country) and various professions, ranging from technical geeks to financial gurus to human resource ninjas.  The aim of this residential course was to ‘Know yourself’.  Yikes.  We all turned up thinking we knew ourselves….but apparently not after being put through a variety of exercises that required a lot of internal reflection.  I was beat by the end of the week.  At one stage I was feeling a little anxious at how vulnerably open I was with all these new people.  I talked about IVF, my blog, Brussels attacks, my deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan – my feelings about myself and others I work with.  Nothing was off the table!!!  It was also intense as we were forced into exercises that meant we quickly got to know each other.

We formed teams for our project work that was based on real life organizational problems.  I decided to work in a team that was tackling a big problem that was out of my comfort zone – some of the other projects were within my technical capabilities.  And I am glad I decided to do that, although it might sound crazy to not take the easy path, I think this project is something I have more of a personal interest in…so when it is late at night and I need to do research and I need to find the motivation I may actually want to work on it because it interests me.  I found this works well when I chose my modules for my Masters degree.  Modules I didn’t choose I found hard to motivate myself to complete…modules I chose I often read around the subject more.

The distance modules start next week and the next residential course is in November…I’m excited to be doing this course, but the first week was pretty intense emotionally!  I am not sure pregnancy hormones helped much :-s

PREPARING TO BECOME A MUMMY.  After my list of things to do blog post several weeks ago, I have done very little to check anything off of it.  Mostly because of all of the above busyness!  And also I am kind of STILL in denial.  Yes I know, I really need to get over that!  I went shopping for some maternity clothes whilst I was in the UK (which by the way was very disappointing as most stores only do maternity stuff online…blah blah blah) and ended up in the baby section.  I love the clothes in the UK compared to the US.  I think it is because I feel that clothes in the US are overly girly and garishly pink.  I like pink, but not that much, I equally do not like the fact that even animals in the US are genderfied (I am not even sure that is a word!!!!)  In the UK, there seems to be more baby clothes that can be girl or boy.  Anyway, I picked a whole bunch of stuff up. Then absolutely freaked out when I thought about the sizes I was picking….in the UK they use baby sizes ‘tiny baby’, ‘newborn baby’, 0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-12 months etc….All I could think of was, what if I get all this stuff and something happens to Rocky?? What if she doesn’t make it? I understand that this is a common feeling amongst all pregnant women – I mean it would probably be unnatural not to have these thoughts.  So I put everything back and walked out of the store empty handed and decided to go home.  Now….I did let my parents choose some outfits for Rocky when we were out together.  If I hadn’t let them I think they may have been a little upset because I know they want to and it was probably the only chance we would get to shop together before Rocky’s arrival.  So they bought Rocky some very sweet, non-pink outfits and I love them.

This is not to say I have not been thinking about Rocky’s arrival and completely bury my head in the sand.  I’ve started to do some research into the long list of baby related items we need to buy!  There is so much choice out there!!  I bought a couple of British baby magazines to flick through and get ideas (which by the way are waaaaaay better than the US baby magazines – I can’t put my finger on why I think that, I may simply be biased).  I will pat myself on the back, however, for finally booking a weekend birthing class as well as a parenting class for the end of November, beginning of December.  I really hope Rocky doesn’t arrive before this because all the classes were full up ‘til then!  I’m not overly happy about these classes because I would much prefer to do something longer for the birthing side, but our work schedule is not overly conducive to regular classes.  Perhaps when we eventually find a doula she may offer private classes that we could do.  This is the next task on our list…find ourselves a lovely doula!

THE BUMP.  So at some point during the residential course my bump ‘popped’.  Two people commented – Chris and someone I had just met on the course. Chris saw my bump on skype and was like – your bump is sticking out further than your boobs now!  And the other person I had just met said something had changed in the size of my bump over the week I had been there.

bump.jpg

As I was queuing up at the airport security one of the officers noticed I was pregnant and said I should have a body scan rather than walk through the scanner (I don’t know why, but I guess it has something to do with not needing an extra search if the buzzer goes off).  Also when I was on the tube someone offered me their seat.  Which was very kind, but I didn’t need it.  I had ordered a ‘Baby on Board’ badge to arrive at my parents’ house for my London trip, but I didn’t need it in the end because generally the bus from the hotel to the school usually had seats available. The one thing I am finding more difficult now is bending over to put my shoes and socks on.  I need to sit down for starters as well as really reach to get to my toes.  I think some more yoga is needed!  Rocky has been kicking my bladder a lot this week and generally being a little wiggle monster.  When I was sat next to one particular guy on the course, every time he spoke she kicked! It was quite funny!! But I absolutely love every single move she makes, it makes me very happy indeed.

THE END.  OK, most of you have probably gone by now…but I had 4 weeks to catch up on and I am sat on a transatlantic flight! If you made it to here I give you a big hug and a high five.  I will post an update after our scan on Tuesday (oh I also have the lovely gestational diabetes test then too :-S)

10 tips on how to cruise when pregnant

Tip 1.  Don’t take sea sick husband with you.  Even if he thinks he doesn’t get sea sick.  But it can happen to anyone, so that might be a bit unpredictable.  So probably best to stock up on the motion sickness drugs before departing!

Tip 2. Don’t cruise after 24 weeks pregnant…because apparently the cruise liners won’t let you sail after this.  But that’s all in the small print after you book the cruise.  Check with the cruise liner because each one is different.

Tip 3.  Get a travel note from your OB saying you are fit to cruise just before departure.

Tip 4.  Don’t travel in your first trimester, especially if you have severe aversions to smells.  Cruise ships have all sorts of strange smells on board that you can’t escape.

Tip 5.  Don’t cruise if you are still feeling nauseous; particularly if your cruise ship will take you through rougher seas, such as the Atlantic Ocean – or even in hurricane season – there are plenty of crazy weather systems out in the ocean!

Tip 6.  Choose a zika free destination.  Which is actually quite limiting for cruise options!  Currently that limits you to destinations such as Bermuda (which will require heading out into rougher seas) or head North to Canada or somewhere random such as Alaska.  But of course there are other options in Europe and the Far East…but if you live in the US, this will require a transatlantic flight!

Tip 7.  Be prepared for old ladies who have a pregnancy radar on them and their questions!  You can’t escape them!  They call it their internal grandma radars.  Apparently it’s a real thing.

Tip 8.  Wash and sanitize your hands at every opportunity!  These ships are germ spawning floating prisons. Bleughhhh, ain’t nobody got time to be sick!

Tip 9.  Don’t expect the spa to cater for pregnant women.  Looking to have a massage whilst on board?  It’s very unlikely you will find someone qualified or have the right equipment for a maternity massage.  Sigh.

Tip 10.  Aaaaaand Relax. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh.  What else are you cruising for?

PC Diary @ 21 weeks 6 Days – AKA The babymoon.

We have had a wonderful babymoon, cruising from Boston to Montreal…the weather wasn’t perfect, but it was not awful.  It was nice to get away from 100F temperatures, but there were times when it was a wee bit chilly on deck which made the floating prison seem even smaller than I cared for.  (Did I ever tell you how much I hate crowds????!)

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our floating hotel for the week!

We made port calls every day except for one which meant we spent mostly only the evenings on board.  Cruising made travelling to new places very easy, but it can be frustrating to not spend more time in places where there was much more to see and do.  We consider it a reconnaissance trip to later return to cities we liked and spend more time there.  I kind of hate the time pressure, but like the ease of being a real tourist for sightseeing in a short amount of time.  This is handy for being 21 weeks pregnant!

 

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we be cruising….

I loved the array of different foods offered.  I still have some aversions to salad leaves and some types of chicken.  We had an amazing evening eating at the restaurant that became ‘Le Cirque’ for the evening.  Simply incredible food.  I admit I did have the Chateaubriand served rare – naughty Dani!  But I could not possibly have it any other way!!!

 

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An evening at Le Cirque! Nom nom nom….

There was a warning by health authorities that certain types of Oysters from Prince Edward Island had salmonella and so told to avoid these.  I have not had any raw oysters, and wouldn’t consider eating them anyway whilst pregnant, but I would have easily ordered cooked oysters which may have been OK, but apparently this could have also been risky.

I also loved the service offered on board.  We really were spoiled.  We paid for an interior cabin, the cheapest of cheap rooms, but I didn’t feel like we were traveling in economy.   Overall, it was awesome fun, thinking about it, this was the last holiday we will take without a child.  That is weird but exciting! A new chapter of our lives is coming.  (Remind me that I said that at some point in the future if I ever complain about holidaying with a kid!)

 

PC Diary: Anatomy Scan & an Echogenic Bowel

The Pudding Club Diary @ 20w3d (16 Aug 2016)

I have been really nervous about the 20 week anatomy scan for the past several weeks.  I was initially worried because of my lack of weight gain, but in the last 2.5 weeks I managed to finally put some weight on!  In that time I have put on 5lbs; I was worried that this could affect Rocky’s growth.  But today, we found out that my worries were unfounded.  Rocky is growing perfectly within the normal percentile and is the grand total weight of just 11oz!

The anatomy scan took a while because Rocky was moving all over the place and the technician had to poke her (very hard!) several times to get her into a better position.  Rocky’s legs, arms, total length, tummy and head circumferences were all measured.  We saw her various body parts, including the spine, heart (including all four chambers!), lungs and bowels. Very cool! Oh and she was completely spread eagle, so Rocky is definitely a girl!!!

Afterwards with the doctor she told us that everything was looking good and that Rocky is right on track.  The only thing that came up on the scan was something called an echogenic bowel.  This is known as a ‘soft marker’ or a non specific finding i.e. it is not an abnormality but indicative that there may be an increased risk of several associations to other issues such as Trisomy 21, 18 and 13, cystic fibrosis, infection and intrauterine growth restriction.  Somewhere between 60-70% of the time an echogenic bowel resolves itself and disappears on the next ultrasound, and 90% of the time there is nothing wrong with the baby when it is born.  So basically, it is nothing to worry about for the moment, especially as the blood test for the three Trisomies came back negative.

The plan is to have another ultrasound in 4 weeks time to see if the echogenic bowel is still there.  Fortunately, we have an ultrasound scheduled with the Maternal Fetal Medicine specialists for Rocky’s fetal echocardiagram (because apparently as Rocky is an IVF baby there is an increased risk of heart related issues)….so we will get them to look at the bowel again then.  Our doctor said the chances are there will be nothing there when we go to the specialist!!!  But at least we don’t have to wait another 4 weeks, just 2 to get a vague idea of where this might be heading.

So all in all, Rocky is doing just fine, most likely.  Of course the scan couldn’t have just been normal!  But I’m not going to worry, if the doctor isn’t worried, I’m not worried. Hopefully. Fingers crossed.

If you would like to see Rocky the scary alien that looks like she might murder you in her sleep, and actually not too bad of a 3D pic of her face, I have put a couple of pics up on my Instagram account here: https://www.instagram.com/thegreatpuddingclubhunt/?hl=en

PC Diary: Planning for Rocky’s arrival

The Pudding Club Diary @ 19w2d (08 Aug 2016)

I’ve either had my head buried in the sand in denial that this is a viable pregnancy, or I am using the excuse of a house move to have done very little for preparing for Rocky’s arrival in 20 weeks time. I think it is probably a combination of both.

Today it’s 137 sleeps to Christmas, and Christmas means Rocky will be making her appearance into the big wide scary world.  137 sleeps sounds like aaaaaages away – it is, unless you have 136 days to fit in preparing for the arrival of a newborn baby.  And even worse when you are someone like me who needs to be informed as much as possible about different options! I would rather go to several shops (online or physically) before making my decision.  And I (we) still have a lot of decisions to make in preparation for Rocky’s arrival!  Here are some of the major things we need to decide on (some of which we have already done -phew!)

Picking an OBGYN or midwife (I didn’t have an OBGYN before).  Things we considered: distance to home and work, hospitals they work with, insurance coverage (in-network), experience offered, reviews from friends, reviews online. I found that it’s a chicken and egg scenario.  You need to pick an OBGYN quite early in your pregnancy so you can start your prenatal care, but that also means picking which hospital or birthing centre you want to go with (although of course you can change your healthcare provider through your pregnancy easily if you change your mind).  So then I needed to think about where I wanted to give birth.  We decided that a hospital is our preference as first timers, we felt more comfortable choosing this birthing experience.  Again, we asked our friends for recommendations, looked at location, insurance coverage and reviews online.  With that decision made, choosing my OBGYN was much easier.

Deciding which prenatal tests to have.  I already wrote a blog post about this one.  But this took time to research…our family history being one of the key factors in our decision.  Followed by what was covered by our insurance.  I liked that our doctor left this completely up to us.

Choosing a child care provider.  Chris and I have talked about this one waaaaay before we started to trying for a baby, because this is fundamentally something I felt we should be on the same page on!  For example, if Chris had strong expectations that I would quit work for a few years to look after baby, we would have problems.  Now that we live in the US on a Visa that is dependent on my job our options are actually quite limited.  We even discussed Chris taking time out of work and being a stay-at-home dad.  Ultimately, we decided that we both wanted to continue to work and believe our child will be well cared for in the care of someone else during the week as they grow up.  Choosing that person is tough!  Our first preference was to hire an Au Pair.  The idea of having an extended member of our family living with us who is culturally different to us is something we are very comfortable with, whilst also supporting the Au pair’s education.  Unfortunately, we are not able to sponsor an Au pair on our visas as we are considered legal aliens here in the US.  So that left us with the choice of a nanny or day care (nursery).  Because Chris and I work hours that are not consistent a nanny was just too expensive for the amount of time we would need one for.  So that left us with the day care option.

How did we choose day care?  So this one we were told DO THIS EARLY!!!! There are waiting lists for the best ones!  Especially if we wanted to use a day care on base.  So the week that we closed on our new house we started our hunt for day care. We asked friends, but no one could help us with advice on day care near where our new house was.  But we did get advice on first checking out the state’s department of social services child care portal to see child care providers and their registration status.  Virginia has a very handy portal that provides a search facility based on zip code, with links to all inspection reports.  We started here and narrowed our search down on this.  Then we looked at location.  Close to home was the most important criteria.  We found three that were three within 3-7 minutes drive from us that we liked and so arranged visits.  Once we saw all three it was easy to rule out one – as soon as we walked in we wanted to walk out, we immediately turned to each other and wondered if it was rude to do that! The other two we would have been quite happy with, in the end we chose between those two based on the teachers in the nursery.  Their passion put them slightly above the rest.  So put our deposit down to hold our spot for March/April 2017.

Baby moon.  Some would say not a vital part of preparing for Rocky’s arrival!  But for us it was, especially as we feel like we need a holiday after buying a house that needed doing up! We have worked very hard and still have some work to do.  Planning for the baby moon is not quite so simple.  Our criteria was limited.  No travel to Zika affected areas.  No flying more than 4 hours.  Relaxing, but not boring (we are not sit on beach for a week type of people!). Originally the earliest we could get away was going to be October hence limitations on travel, but fortunately one of my work trips was cancelled in August.  So the other week we booked a last minute cruise from Boston to Montreal.  Everyday the cruise ship stops some where new along the north west coast of US and Canada, so it was perfect for us.  I managed to pay for our flights using air miles and hotels using credit card points!  So all that money spent on IVF bills and miles traveled for work finally pay off 🙂 BTW – if you are planning a baby moon on  a cruise there are limitations on when you can go…the liner we are going with states that you cannot be more than 24 weeks pregnant, and you also need a letter from the doctor before you cruise to confirm your due date and that you are in good health.  Just as well August became came free, any later and we wouldn’t have been able to cruise!

So that is really as far as we have got….and there is so much more we need to decide on – it looks like a short list, but even if we tackled one item off this list each week that would be a miracle:

  • Pediatrician
  • Doula
  • Nursery decoration and furniture
  • Classes for childbirth, nursing and infant care
  • Maternity leave
  • Baby shower – I have still yet to decide on this one.  I am erring towards a welcome party instead after Rocky arrives.
  • Our ‘Layette’….did you know that was a word? I didn’t until I read my pregnancy book – this is a traditional word for all baby stuff that parents ‘lay up’ before baby arrival.  Although I do like the advice the book offers that ‘the stores will still be open after your baby arrives’.  We aim to get most things except for crib, car seat and breast pump second hand.  Other things we will need are nappies/diapers, bottles, clothes, change table, bassinet or side sleeper, diaper bags (one for Chris, one for me!), monitor, carrier/sling, stroller/pushchair.

You may be surprised to hear that we have yet to go shopping for our ‘layette’…the only thing we have bought was after our day trip to ikea (a 4 hour drive away!) where we bought crib, mattress, and sheets and some storage units  – that was only because we had gone there for other things for our new house and thought we should buy the basics. But they are all in boxes still.  After our 20 week scan next week, we can go shopping!

With only 20 weeks left, 4 of those I will be travelling for work, 1 of those we are baby-mooning it, 2 weeks Chris is travelling for work and each of those weeks eats into two weekends either side oh and I am starting my Executive Development Programme too – aghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!

And BREATHE Dani…..just breathe….!!!

I’m sure there is something else important I am missing from this list???!!!!!

 

 

 

 

Continuing Professional Development 

When coping with infertility, you reach a point where you do what you can to just simply survive each day. Our behaviors changed, life changed-we couldn’t keep doing what we were doing because infertility eats into your life in many different ways. Sure, life doesn’t stop, but you have to make adjustments….relationships with friends and family change (in both good and bad ways)…the type of food you eat…the extracurricular activities you enjoy change (again, in good and bad ways)… sexual relations…sleep…body shapes…when you go out…when you stay in…and how you work. It all changes in unexpected ways.

I don’t talk about my work on my blog, mostly because it would bore you to death! But my relationship with work has changed as a result of infertility. My bosses and colleagues have supported me from the beginning. They have been flexible, understanding and considerate. So I have no complaints there. Fortunately the nature of my work enables me to have the flexibility I needed to deal with all medical treatments. But what has changed is the way I work.

My career goals haven’t changed as a result of infertility. My ambitions are similar to what they were 4 years ago. But I have fallen a bit behind in terms of timing and where I hoped to be. I have had to step back and not be as forward leaning, proactive as I once was through fear of letting people down. My promises to deliver have come with caveats- I over manage expectations and don’t promise too much. I’ve always been a glass half full kind of worker. I like to lead with positivity. I am the ‘yes I can’ kind of person. I’m reliable, honest and open. I like change, but get frustrated when things aren’t seen through or completed. I like timeliness, I dislike laziness. I like to try new ways of doing things, but try to articulate methodology in doing them. I like to learn new things. I want everyday to be a school day!!! (Why didn’t I feel like that at school I dont know why!!).

But Infertility broke some of this. I still got my work done, I still deliver good work, I get praise for the speed/quality of my work still. But I’m not satisfied in the way that I do it. Infertility has affected my ability to travel (and now my pregnancy to some extent!) and therefore my ability to work on all the things I want to have been impacted. And my personal professional development stalled for almost a year now and has been replaced with knitting, colouring in, tv watching and blogging. All good things for the soul that I so badly needed to help me fight this battle. Applying my mind to new knowledge generally got too challenging.

Since I left university I have always been in a continued quest for new knowledge! I took a part time masters of science in a subject that was practically unrelated to my bachelors degree. I even continued my education whilst on deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan where I was working 7 days a week already! I’ve taken language classes and various free courses online to keep up my skills. But the past year it was too much for me and I stopped to take a break. 

I got withdrawal symptoms. I started looking at MBAs and Masters of Science in analytics/data science etc. I really don’t need another one! But I missed the learning. I even looked at courses that Chris and I could do together! But then an opportunity at work came up – to apply for their Executive Development Programme. I applied, not expecting to be successful this year because I had heard many others who had applied year after year were waiting to go on the programme. But somehow my application was accepted! I received this good news just before my third round of IVF treatment and I talked it through with my boss and HR – what if I got pregnant from this treatment? This would mean I would be having a baby half way through the course!!! Travel to the residential courses in Europe may be slightly problematic! Should I pull my application? Let someone else go?  But there was also the issue of – what if I didn’t get pregnant? I was chosen to be on that training programme. I can’t keep placing my life on hold because I ‘may’ get pregnant. So we decided to postpone the decision to later.

When I found out I was definitely pregnant and it looked like Rocky was sticking around I needed to make a decision. Would I embark on this training programme knowing that half way through I would become a new mum? 

I worked out the travel commitments (4 transatlantic trips and 1 week of training in the US). I would be 24 weeks pregnant at the first residential course in London, 31 weeks at the second in Luxembourg, 1-2 weeks postpartum at the third in Rome, 3 months postpartum at the week here in the US, so technically still on maternity leave and 5 months postpartum for the forth residential course in Brussels. And in between all that there are distance modules to complete as well as a team project (to be completed in our own spare time). 

Phew! Could I do all that?? Why the heck not? Except for the residential course 1-2 weeks postpartum I could do it. 

So I asked if a) I could miss one residential week and b) if I could break my maternity leave. The only risk was if for some reason my doctor banned me from flying to Europe for some pregnancy complication. I ummed and ahhhed about this dilemma for a while. I spoke with past students (who were mums and dads) to see what they thought….could I do it? In the end, I concluded I could do it and should do it. In a similar vain, I shouldn’t miss out on this opportunity ‘just in case’…anyone can get the flu and not be able to travel so why should I not do it just because I’m pregnant? I double checked with my doctor and she said I should go for it. 

So no regrets!!! I’m starting the executive development programme in a couple of weeks and I’m excited to be getting back to the things I love to do for work. Continue my professional development. 

In a similar vain, I applied for a job in my team which would be a promotion – I have that interview in a couple of weeks too. I’m up against some very talented colleagues so I will try my best, but again, it’s simply another step for getting back to doing things I love and pushing myself. I will take that any day.

Here’s to glass half full days 😊

THAT moment

The Pudding Club Diary @ 16w3d

Chris and I had THAT moment last night. THAT moment when you realise you have the summit in sight, when the pain, tears and anxiety were ALL worth it.  And we haven’t even met our little one yet.

As I was getting undressed for bed I pointed out my ‘bump’ and it’s definition.  Chris went to put his hands to it.  I let him…which is not a usual occurrence because if you are a follower you will know my personal issues with my stomach and understand that I still struggle with this.  But I also know I have to let Chris feel the little one too.  The day before, I lay in bed before work just staring at my naked tummy for about 20 minutes watching little Rocky squirming around in there.  I still haven’t really felt Rocky move, but I definitely have seen him/her moving in the past week or so.  That evening as Chris reached out to my tummy – he exclaimed…”I can feel Rocky!!”.  We looked at each other, and we were both teary eyed in that moment.  It was a moving moment.  Silently we knew what this meant.  It was real.  It wasn’t on some computer screen…it was physically real, in our hands. Our baby is alive and wriggling.

So amazing 🙂