I am 1 in 8 speech

For my first international toastmasters speech which is known as ‘The icebreaker speech’ I decided to talk about my infertility. I thought I’d go big or go home! Talking about infertility to a bunch of work colleagues and a few strangers is nerve wracking!! This speech is the first of many I must give to gain my ‘competent communicator’ award. The idea is that the icebreaker speech is 4-5 minutes long and aims to ‘break the ice’ by talking a little bit about yourself as an introduction to your fellow toastmasters club members. Talking about infertility seemed like a bold challenge. 

It was hard to focus a speech that is only 5 minutes long to what has been a challenging part of my life. But in the end here is what I said…

“Ladies & Gentlemen, let me ‘break the ice’!! Let me take you back in time to when I was 9 in a leafy suburb playground of London. I was a bit of a Tom boy. I liked cars and transformers, so whenever I played with the boys, the girls would taunt me with the school playground rhyme…

“Dani & Chris, sitting in a tree

K-I-S-S-I-N-G

First comes love,

Then comes marriage,

Then comes the baby in the baby carriage”

Well ladies and gentlemen, that nursery rhyme isn’t quite so simple as it sounds after all. Because I am 1 in 8. I am 1 in 8 who suffers from the disease that is infertility. A baby in the baby carriage is not always what comes next.

Let me introduce you to Chris, my husband of 5 years….


Here he is winning the District 66 toastmasters humorous speech competition. You can see I have some competition!!!

4 and half years ago we moved to the US to work here. And it was at that point all our friends and family asked us….’so…when are you going to have a baby??!!’ Little did they know that we were trying but not succeeding. After many tests, thr doctors couldn’t tell us why we couldn’t have a baby. We were diagnosed as unexplained. So we tried InVitro Fertilisation or IVF.

Our first round of treatment we created these beautiful embryos…


We named them huckleberry and huckleberina because they looked like raspberries. Just 8 cells smaller than 0.1mm. One decided to stick around and I got pregnant!!! We were so happy! Until we discovered that it had implanted in the wrong place, the pregnancy was ectopic and so we sadly had to terminate the pregnancy as it threatened my life. 

We were devastated. We had to wait a while to try again.

Second time we created these 5 day old blastocysts. At first we didn’t name them because it was too painful. But in the end we did nickname them Petrie and Spike.


But it didn’t work. I didn’t get pregnant. It was very stressful and even Chris didn’t want to try again so soon. But we decided to try again. Third time lucky they say?!? This time we created thee 5 day old blastocysts – and as you can see we got a better photo of them  third time around!


And it worked!!! Today we have our beautiful daughter Aviana who is now 6 months old.


We are the lucky ones. Not everyone of the 1 in 8 gets to take a baby home in the baby carriage. It was a hard journey and involved hundreds of injections and there were many tears. People ask me now that I have a baby when will number two come along, or will we have another baby? But I tell them it’s not quite so simple as that. It’s hard. I wanted to share this with you today as my icebreaker because this is a subject deep to my heart and I hope you have learned something interesting about me today.

Ladies and Gentelemen, Thank you.”

I really enjoyed giving this icebreaker speech. It probably wasn’t what people would have expected as a first time topic. I got a great response from the audience. There was actually someone in the audience who was going through IVF themselves and have done two cycles at the same clinic as we used. They were about to decide whether or not to go for a third cycle and whether to stay with the same doctor. I offered details of our local infertility support group. It was obvious it was meant to be that I talked about this topic for my icebreaker. 

Infertility leaves a scar. I am grateful we were the lucky ones, but it doesn’t suddenly disappear from your heart when you have a baby. For me, continuing to talk about it and spread awareness helps the healing.

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Champagne for Breakfast?

People ask me all the time – What have you craved this pregnancy?  And I can’t answer them, except with what food do I have aversions to….

….Roast chicken, BBQ pizza, lettuce leaves (especially Arugula/Rocket), herby tomato sauces.

In the past few weeks I have slowly been able to add these foods back into my diet.  Except for lettuce leaves.  I am hoping that after Rocky arrives that I get my appetite back for salad!

But interestingly what has also happened in the past few weeks I have woken up with a craving!  Yes I have finally experienced a craving!  This craving appears with no warning, it is sudden, there is nothing around me that makes me think oooooh I fancy some of that, it just appears in my head.  I can smell it, I can taste it, I can imagine it in my hand, I can imagine it slipping down my throat and satisfying my big brain itch I have for…..CHAMPAGNE!  FOR BREAKFAST!!!!

I promise you drinking champagne for breakfast is not something I would ordinarily do…ever really…except for in a bucks fizz or a mimosa.

The cool, crisp bubbles slipping down my throat, making me feel a little giddy from the alcohol has been my one and only craving so far.  And as this is a craving I really shouldn’t be satisfying at this later stage of my pregnancy, I have not given into it. Not that I have champagne lying around my house or that I could go out at at the crack of dawn to buy some – which is just as well really because if Chris woke up to find me drinking champagne (on my own) with my cereal and toast for breakfast, I think he would send me to the mad house!

Rocky….your eviction notice has been handed to you – mummy needs some champagne! Stat!

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A slightly cheerier note

Some of you have already voted on Instagram….but I am intrigued what my non IG friends think!  Which is your favourite name?

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Matilda means “Powerful fighter”, Aviana means “Fresh”, Evelyn means “Optimistic”

Interestingly, Matilda Lucie came out high from Instagram, but when we have verbally said the list, most people prefer Aviana Ruby.  Maybe it’s the way we say it and people pronounce it differently when they read it compared to hearing it.

Chris has a favourite out of the three names, I don’t really have a preference, I like them all.  We will decide when we see Rocky’s face!  BTW Chris….’squishy placenta face’ is not a good name, the kids at school will be mean.  Although, not sure there are any worse names they could call her than that!

It’s quite a responsibility choosing a name for your child!!!

Same old story – it’s just unexplained

PC Diary @38Weeks 0 Days

The unknown doctor came in, shook our hands and looked at us in turn, he looked concerned.  But after a strange pregnant pause he managed to get the words out….”Everything looks good with the flow to and from the placenta”. Phew…a sigh of relief! From the look on his face, we both thought he was going to say something bad.  Another awkward pregnant pause and he said to us “We don’t know why your baby is measuring small.” (This doctor had very a very strange and awkward bedside manner)

Chris and I had bets on how this appointment with the Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) specialist would go.  We both bet it would be ‘unexplained’, because that just seems to be the way the cookie crumbles with us.  Unexplained infertility has done that to us, it has better prepared us for accepting the unknown.  By the way the unknown SUCKS.  But nevertheless, we seem to be able to handle it a lot better now.  We think that the doctor was expecting us to give him a hard time about not knowing why Rocky is measuring small.  But instead we just said, OK so there is nothing obviously seriously wrong? Although, she was even further behind than our past growth scan in the 3rd percentile (She was in the 5th percentile the week before), but these measurements have error inaccuracies, especially at this late stage of the pregnancy. There was no denying the fact that she is still very small and behind.

The doctor recommended that she be delivered in my 38th week so we can get her out of me and feed her up.  Later that day I went back to my OBGYN for another non-stress test and an ultrasound to check on my amniotic fluid levels.  All was looking good.

It was an emotional roller coaster day of nerves and relief.  We don’t know exactly how healthy Rocky will be when she arrives into the world and what the impact of the growth restriction has been on her, if any.  Perhaps my anemia was the culprit, perhaps it has been my bowel problems not getting the right nutrition to her or perhaps she is just a naturally skinny thing.  We don’t know, but that’s OK, because we are going to meet her very soon and hold her in our arms.

At my next appointment with my Obstetrician we talked about the induction process.  We had been penciled in to arrive at the hospital on the evening of the 20th December to have my cervix ‘ripened’ overnight.  Rocky is currently head down and engaged at Stage 0 right now, and I am still 1cm dilated and 50% effaced, which is a good thing and may mean I don’t need to have my cervix ripened.  If that is the case, then I may be asked to come into the hospital in the morning of the 21st December and they will put straight onto the drug Pitocin (it mimics oxytocin, the hormone which causes contractions).  The doctor warned us how long this process can take 12-24 hrs, and there is no way of knowing how my body will respond.  Sometimes a small baby can be a good thing and time can go quicker and I may have an easier time pushing her out!  Or sometimes not….  they will keep a close monitor on Rocky because sometimes growth restricted babies struggle to keep their heart rate up during contractions.  If Rocky’s heart rate decelerates then there is a very good chance I would end up having a cesarean section.  But the great news is, there is no reason for me to not have a vaginal birth.

My birth plan is that I wish to avoid pain medication at all costs.  However, I am now being induced using Pitocin and this can cause contractions to be a lot stronger and successive far quicker than a natural labor would be.  This means that there is a higher chance of this being painful!  My current feelings are that I will try my dammed hardest to not ask for the pain meds – in whatever form.  Chris is well versed in my desire, and my doula will be there to help me get through it too.  Although I want a vaginal birth, I have spent some time thinking about how to cope with an unexpected c-section.  I am now feeling ready for that moment because I know Rocky’s health is the most important thing to think about.  Luckily I will be on one of my favourite obstetrician’s service that day and I feel like I can trust her.

All this being said, the past week has been strange.  I had some plans for my maternity leave…I was excited to be taking some time to myself and thought 4 weeks before Rocky’s arrival I would have some time to do these things – Christmas dinners with friends and colleagues, executive development program study, knitting, Christmas card writing, email sorting, Christmas shopping, housework, blogging and more.  But with being on ‘rest’, many doctors appointments and not knowing what is going on has actually been exhausting and I have done very little on this list.  Even the things that don’t require me to leave the house for I haven’t been able to focus on, I have just been lethargic and brainless.  It doesn’t help that I am not even sleeping well and having lots of pregnancy related nightmares.  I might be physically well rested, but my brain sure isn’t.

Finally, just one more thing.  Now when people say to me, oh you look so good for 37/38 weeks pregnant…I actually feel bad inside.  I now know that my bump is small and I have put on little weight to the detriment of Rocky.  Until I meet her and hold her safely in my arms, that guilt is not going to stop, no matter how much people will tell me it’s not my fault.

But guys….I am almost at the end of all this…I am on the brink of exploding with happiness about that!

From a High to a Low: Fetal growth restriction

My obstetric appointment didn’t go quite as exactly as hoped for.  The doctor measured the fundal height and asked me if I had an ultrasound yet, I said no.  So she said well you are going to have one today, you are measuring a small.  Since I entered the third trimester I have had comments about my small bump, but the doctors say that because I am tall and have a long torso Rocky has more room upwards which is why I don’t go outwards.  But then there is my weight issue, I have only put on 1lb in the past 8 weeks.

The doctor did a pelvic exam and Rocky’s head is very low down (yeh my poor bladder knows this well!), she had troubles getting to my cervix – ouchie that hurt a lot!  I am 1cm dilated (how much the cervix is open, from 0-10cm) and 50% effaced (how much the cervix is thinned and shortened that means the cervix can dilate more ready for labour, from 0-100%.).  Well that doesn’t mean much at 36 weeks and is perfectly fine.

I had more blood drawn and we headed in for our ultrasound.  Really at this point in the pregnancy it is very difficult to tell body part from body part.  These technicians are very skilled!  She pointed out a head of hair….really it looked like white mess and I couldn’t tell there was even a head!  As she measured Rocky’s tummy, the size was measuring 29 weeks and 30 weeks…she took the measurement several times, and everytime is showed between 29-30 weeks, way behind.  But when she measured her thigh bone it measured spot on 36 weeks.  Rocky’s head is way down in my pelvis so she had a hard time getting a measurement, but when she did it measured 36 weeks.  With all these measurements, this meant that Rocky is weighing in at 4lbs 10oz – just under the 5th percentile for 36 weeks. Anything less than the 10th percentile is considered as growth restricted.  Her tummy size is in the less than 1 percentile. That is scary.  The technician confirmed that yes she was weighing in small, so went to give the results to the doctor.

We were then sent to have non-stress test.  I had heard about these, where you wear two monitors, one that measures contraction strength, the other the baby’s heartbeat.  You sit in a chair, relax and press a buzzer every time you feel the baby move.  This monitoring goes on for at least 20 minutes depending on how active the baby is, assessing baby’s reactivity and changes in heartbeat.  Rocky performed well!

After the non-stress test the doctor came back and explained her thinking.  Rocky has asymmetrical intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR).  Asymmetrical means that her head and length is normal, but not the stomach.  In more than 70% of cases, this indicates a likely problem with the flow to and from the placenta and baby not getting enough oxygen or nutrients.  Rocky diverts the energy for growing the brain and bones, meaning that the liver and fat build up doesn’t happen, which is why her tummy is so skinny. This form of intrauterine growth restriction usually occurs in the third trimester. (The other form of growth restriction is symmetric where the baby is small all over).  There are other causes of this type of restriction, but most of those we can rule out.  So we need to rule out the placenta problem and I have to go to Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist to have a special ultrasound to look at the flow to and from the placenta using a doppler.  The catch is I have to wait for an appointment.  The doctor said that I will be induced in either week 38 or 39 because the baby will do better outside my body.  But if I have placenta problems she will want to induce me ASAP.

I am now on twice weekly appointments including a non stress test twice a week and an ultrasound to keep an eye on Rocky…particularly as the amniotic fluid might reduce over the coming weeks they want to monitor that and ensure that Rocky isn’t struggling getting the oxygen she needs.

I am also on ‘rest’ not bed rest exactly, but just resting and preserving all energy for Rocky.  So I would have been signed off work if I wasn’t on maternity leave already.

There is no medical intervention that will stop this from happening, all that can be done is that we are both monitored closely and assess the right time to deliver Rocky.

What does this all mean for my labour, delivery and Rocky’s health?  We don’t know.  We know that there is an increased risk of her having problems during labour, I am more likely to need a cesarean section, there is an increased risk of still birth and perinatal mortality, she is also likely to have a number of health problems after being born in both the short and long term, or she may just be perfectly fine…but life is like a box of chocolates and you don’t know what you are going to get.

I have to remember and keep telling myself that there is nothing I did to cause this and that Rocky needs us to be strong and positive to help her make it into this world safely.

Now I just wait for my appointment with the specialist.  Until we know the placenta issue, we are helpless and not knowing is quite frankly scary 😦

Maternity Photo Shoot Session

I ummed about doing a maternity photo shoot, especially as Chris has done some maternity photo shoots before, I wasn’t sure if he would be offended that I didn’t want him to take the photos.  But actually it made a whole lot of sense to hire a photographer because it would have been challenging and time consuming for Chris to run a shoot with both of us being in the photos!  So I selected five photographers in the local area that I liked their style, then let Chris choose the one…after all they would have high standards to live up to, and for me personally, I just like the pictures and have no clue what is actually good quality or not!  I didn’t tell Chris how much each one cost, but let’s just say, he did pick the most expensive.  Of course her photos were pretty amazing, so they demand a higher price naturally!  Each photographer offers various options and so it is difficult sometimes to compare prices, but the one Chris chose was definitely going to cost us a bit more.  But I am very glad we went with her because she made it so easy…if you are in the hampton roads area, I highly recommend her…

www.melissablissphotography.com

We chose our shoot location as First Landing State Park (it got it’s name from where the settlers first landed in the US, then moved up the bay to Jamestowne).  We love this park a lot and discovered this particular location when our family came to visit earlier this year.  It has a small beach, a swamp and some of the most incredible spanish moss you have ever seen.  With it being fall, the colours were spectacular, and luckily for us, the weather was perfect…the sun was out without a cloud in the sky – the lighting is quite a challenge for a photographer so I have been told, but our photographer had no problems creating some beautiful memories for us.  Chris went at around the same time the week before to scout out some spots he thought would work at that time of day, it was such a good idea because he really found some unique spots!

Deciding what to wear was a bit of a challenge because of the Virginia weather you never really know you are going to get!  Fortunately, it was warm enough to wear just a shirt and jeans.  By the way, my bump was still not really prevalent even though I was 32 weeks, so it was just as well I was wearing something light and tight for the silhouette and laying down shots!  I was considering wearing a dark purple top, and I am so glad I didn’t in the end!

So here are some of my favourites…all photos by Melissa Bliss Photography!!

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Now I’m feeling ready!!

PC Diary @ 36 weeks 2 days… R-26 days

What a whirlwind of a past ten days or so.  It may have been crazy, but every minute was worth it!

First of all, I owe a few people some passwords for my last blog.  I forgot that with almost 200 followers on wordpress and a few more  who follow from instagram and facebook that maybe they would like to read my password protected blog and I would need to reply to every email request – whoopsie  (embarrassed face!)

Here is why it has been a whirlwind…

Doulas!  We met our two Doulas, they work in pairs to make sure that one of them is available when the time comes to meet Rocky.  We have hired them for the birth and 50 hours of post-partum support.  They are perfect for us.  We left it very late to finally select who we wanted, we meet them again later this week to go through our birthing plan and any other questions we have.

Thanksgiving.  I hope you all had a lovely thanksgiving!  It is a holiday that doesn’t mean anything particularly special to us, so it is a little bit strange to celebrate.  But we were kindly invited to join our friends for a fabulous Turkey dinner.  Nom nom nom…

Boudoir Maternity Shoot.  Chris and I researched, prepared and then did my maternity shoot, boudoir style.  Although I won’t be showing any of the more risque pics, I will definitely share some of them with you on a separate post!  Chris did a fantastic job, and he really enjoyed it too.  I was nervous we would fight about it, but nope it was just fun!  Like it should be too ;-p

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One of my faves!

Infant care class.  We thought we had better educate ourselves on how to actually look after a newborn baby!  Although much of it we mostly knew already, we did learn some handy little hints and tips.  Also it was helpful to know things we might expect to see as soon as the baby is born, what is normal and what is not normal.  We also got a neat little book too ‘The Joy of parenthood – your personal journey through newborn care’.

Transatlantic visitors.  A friend of ours was visiting the US for work, so we did the proper thing and took him and his colleague to a Southern style restaurant, and of course ate fried chicken skins, pickles, chicken coated fried bacon, burgers and meatloaf! It was so good to catch up.  I felt a bit homesick talking about our friends back in the UK and how everyone is doing 😦

Breastfeeding class.  We had to go to another hospital for this class because all the ones being run at our hospital were full.  Within the first five minutes the consultant told us that ‘you may have difficulties breastfeeding if you had difficulties getting pregnant’.  What the?!?! I had never heard this before.  I was a little bit surprised and it threw me off concentrating on the beginning of the class.  I didn’t question the consultant and thought I may ask her afterwards more about what she had said, but when it came to the end of the evening I was exhausted and just wanted to go home.  This class threw a lot of new terms and info at us in the space of three hours.  The consultant barely stopped to breathe let alone let us poor preggers people go pee!  But it was really useful and very glad we both went.  Another free book and some free nursing goodies to go.  The group of doulas we went with have a lactation consultant who will come to my house if we need to, so that is handy.

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Weekend Child birthing class.  Another intense education session!  We had a very passionate nurse who was excellent at making the class practical and interesting.  It really helped us firm up our birth plan together and worth every minute.  I practically cried at every film where they showed the actual birth!!!!

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Birthing positivity board

Housewarming, baby and birthday party.  This was our big party to celebrate our new home, semi-baby shower-esque style celebrations, and both our birthdays.  We have been preparing the past few weeks, knowing how chaotic the past week would be.  We were expecting about 80 or so people, fortunately they didn’t all arrive at once, and at one point we probably had about 20 kids running around!  It was so much fun to have everyone there.  I was truly overwhelmed with all the gifts and cards we received.  I’m kind of glad I didn’t have a baby shower after all, I think I would have just blubbered my way through it.

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Haha someone guessed 14th Jan!!!!

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The post party chaos 🙂

Maternity leave.  It was my last week at work, so I tried to wrap things up as best I could.  It was a little strange because not all of my branch was in the office, so there wasn’t really a formal goodbye.  Technically my maternity leave started today!!! Although I will be going back for the plethora of Christmas parties that are happening, assuming Rocky doesn’t arrive early.  And I will be going back in to the office every other week for a lunchtime toastmasters club meet whenever I can to keep up my public speaking skills!  When the baby comes, Chris will work from home those days and I will get to escape the baby for a few hours.  I started my leave off to a good start by getting up at the same time as Chris as he got ready for work, then after I showered I accidentally fell asleep for 1.5hrs!  I did some relaxing yoga (it felt soooooo good to stretch), adult colouring in, an episode of scandal, ate left over party food, washed all of Rocky’s new clothes and did some shopping.  Will I keep up this good balance of chillaxing with productivity?!?! I have my suspicions not….!

Pregnancy symptoms.  Lower back pain is plaguing me along with my hemorrhoids getting a whole lot worse.  They are now super big 😦  I am on my weekly obstetric appointments now so I’ll see what the doc says tomorrow, but I fear there will be little that can be done.  I think that when I go into labour they are almost certain to burst.  And I still haven’t put any more weight on, I’m sticking around the 140-141lbs mark.  I don’t understand how it is possible, my tummy is getting bigger and I’m eating plenty!

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36 weeks and feeling prepared!

Phew…..it has been crazy, but I am feeling really ready for Rocky to arrive now.  Not much longer til she is considered full term! Wooohoooo!!!!

 

 

 

No alcohol for you!

PC dairy @ 31 weeks 6 days

I guess the time has come where I am obviously pregnant.  Today on my journey across the pond everyone has made comments or asked me about my bump.

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My halloween costume hides my bump – kind of!

Things that people have said to me today…

“Would you like me to put you on the upgrade wait list?”

“Are you sure I can’t get you a water or ginger ale?”

“When is the baby due?”

“Let me get that for you…”

“No alcohol for you!”  Wait….what?!

I checked into the American Airlines business lounge and the lady didn’t offer me a coupon for a free drink at the bar (which is something ordinarily you get), in fact she went so far to say as “no alcohol for you…!” Ummmm I paused for a second flabberghasted ‘yeh….I guess none for me, thanks’.  Awkward.  Thanks lady for policing my alcohol intake.

I’ve actually had these strong hints a few times…waitresses asking me, can I get you a water or soda?  Rather than, can I get you a drink or a beer?

When I went for my 30 week check up with my OB, the nurse asked me…”When did you last binge drink?”, followed by “Do you drink alcohol?”.  I was taken aback, because I answered all these questions when I first signed up to the clinic and I wasn’t expecting them now.  Also, because I am sure that anyone who had binged drinked at 30 weeks pregnant, probably wouldn’t be honest and deny it.

I’m not going to lie, I have had a few sips of alcohol here and there in this pregnancy – some weeks I will have nothing at all, others I may enjoy a small half glass of wine or one or two non-alcoholic beers (because non alcoholic beers do contain a very small amount of alcohol) at the weekend.  I drink them slowly, with dinner and I never want any more than that anyway.

In Germany the other week I was given a free shot of Limoncello after dinner and a coupon for a shot of tequila.  That was a bit too much for me….I gave them to other people.  But the point is that they didn’t blink an eye about it.  In fact in some parts of Italy, doctors recommend a glass of red wine to help keep the blood pressure low in third trimester.

Isn’t it funny how different beliefs and perceptions can be about what is right and wrong in pregnancy?  There is much research to support both sides of the argument, and all we are talking about is ‘light drinking’…and so the jury is still out.  For me, the odd sip of alcohol here and there is OK and I certainly do not condone drinking heavily whilst pregnant where there are clear linkages with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

(**Waiting for all the critical comments to come flooding in….**)

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.

Entering the thirties…

For some reason I always had it in my head that I wanted to be married before I turned 30.  I don’t really know why, but it was some kind of milestone.  Perhaps I thought I might turn into a pumpkin or something horrifying and wrinkly on my thirtieth birthday if I hadn’t gotten married by then.  30 simply seemed like a pretty scary age to reach.  I can’t remember if I ever told Chris this at the time….but we did get married when I was 29. Phew! It was actually more about coincidence than any secret desire to not get married in my thirties.  Well 30 came and went and it was just another year like any other.  I know, I’m weird. It shouldn’t make a difference.

Anyway…I digress… I am now THIRTY weeks pregnant, and this same number seems equally as scary.  For me, entering the third trimester wasn’t the scary part – it was entering my 30th week of pregnancy!  And to top it off, I have been travelling for work when I hit this milestone.  When I am travelling on my own I have waaaaay too much time to think deeply about life and what the future holds.  And that is dangerous!  It doesn’t help that October is Pregnancy and infancy loss month and I have read MANY stories of women losing their babies.  I have seriously gone through a whole box of tissues this month.

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Plus there has been a lot of discussion after the third presidential debate where Trump and Clinton discussed abortion, particularly on late term abortion.  These issues have really connected with me emotionally, where ordinarily it wouldn’t – perhaps it is just the hormones thinking too much!  I have blogged about how it took me a while to not be in denial over this pregnancy and to accept it, so I hadn’t really thought about the outcome of this pregnancy and how scary everything can seem until now.  It was really around week 27/28 when Chris and I started to seriously prepare for Rocky’s arrival that I have started to truly embrace this pregnancy and fall in love with her, so I feel there is even more to lose with this recent strong emotional attachment I’ve developed to the little pudding I am baking in my uterus.  I guess this week has been when I have started to truly worry about how this child birth thing is going to go down!  But I know that it is natural to worry for most woman who are approaching child birth for their first time (and in fact I will hazard a guess that it is equally worrying for any subsequent pregnancy!).

Getting ready.  We have been busy bunnies – knowing our diaries were getting pretty full over the next few weeks we decided to get all the basics ready for Rocky’s arrival.  The weekend of Hurricane Matthew we made all our big purchases –

  • Strollers/buggies (one jogger, one ‘umbrella’ lightweight style) which all ‘click and connect’ to a car seat.  I think they call it a ‘travel system’.  Wow choosing a stroller is intense!  It was perhaps easier than choosing a new car (Although I suspect Chris would argue otherwise with my multi-criteria analysis for buying my car!!). We chose the Graco Modes Jogger Travel System (bah which I have just noticed on sale) and Graco Breaze Click Connect Umbrella Stroller.
  • Pack n Play – this is basically a travel play pen/cot/changing table/bassinett system.  It even has a a vibrating chair and a mobile with music.  Very cool.  Who knows if it will be practical?!?! We went with the Graco Pack n Playard Nearby Napper.
  • The Layette.  We went to a few consignment/second hand baby clothing stores/boutiques and bought the basics to get us started.  Burp clothes, muslins, sleep suits, sleep sacks, socks, onesies, a few adorable outfits, swaddles, baby health care stuff. And yes, we did actually buy some clothes from the boys section.
  • Baby video monitor.  This one completely overwhelmed me.  There were so many different choices.  In the end we chose one based off reviews online because how else do you choose these days?
  • Baby Carrier/ Sling. We had a bit of fun trying these all on in babies r us.  We tried to find one that suited both Chris and I…basically it is one big long piece of cloth right?  You would think it is easy to choose a sling! Well ummmm no.  We went with the Moby Wrap Evolution Baby Carrier in DENIM!  Oh yes the colour is very important of course ;-p
  • A diaper Genie!  Basically a diaper/nappy bin.  Do we really need one?  Apparently so!
  • Diaper/nappy bag.  Sooooo many different choices – rucksack/back pack/messenger back/giant purse!  Colours, fabrics, goodies, flaps and sections inside.
  • Nursery.  We have almost finished the nursery, we are just waiting on a few items to arrive that we ordered from http://www.thelandofnod.com (wow they have some adorable stuff – at an extortionate price too!)  The majority of the furniture we bought from ikea or is second hand.  So this meant we could splash out on some of the decor items – such as the wall decals.
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I love these decals and rug!!!

Pregnancy woes.  I have been lucky with my pregnancy so far, so I guess it is expected that the last trimester will have a few woes, I can’t escape lightly.

  • Vaccine OUCHIE. I’ve already written about the side effects of the TDAP vaccine!!  That took several days before it wore off!  But I survived, that is the most important thing.
  • Turning into a Whale overnight.  I am struggling with getting out of our bed – I have to roll off the edge and clamber back in with a lot of huffing and puffing – it’s a platform bed so it’s not easy to get in or out at the moment, I may need a ladder soon and I suspect this is only going to get worse over the next few weeks!
  • The smallest bladder in the world.  Which means I rarely sleep more than three hours in a row, maybe two or three times a week I might get three hours of sleep.
  • Hemorrhoids.  The past few weeks my poo has slowed down to one a day (from three a day) and this has meant that I am now also suffering from hemorrhoids.  They are literally a pain in the arse!  I am afraid of them bursting and bleeding suddenly and freaking me out that the blood is from somewhere else!
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Some mild relief from Hemorrhoids 😦

  • Anemia.  I had a follow up blood test after my initial results came back as slightly anemic during my 24 week appointment.  At my 28 week appointment my results just came back to say I am still anemic despite taking iron supplements.  But the cause remains unknown because my iron stores are good.  So!  More blood tests! Perhaps I’m actually anemic because they keep stealing my blood for all these tests 😦 In the meantime I have been told to keep taking my iron supplements (YEY these cause even more constipation which I am trying to combat with fibre supplements) and of course my prenatals (which I have been religiously taking for almost three years now!).

 Other exciting things whilst we countdown to R-Day (i.e. Rocky’s arrival!).  

  • Maternity leave planning.  I get 20 weeks of maternity leave.  In addition I have normal annual leave to take, home leave (where I get to fly back with my family to the UK for 2 weeks) and normal holidays such as Christmas, Easter etc all to account for.  My last day in the office will be 4 weeks before the expected R-Day, so 2nd December will be my last day!  This means I only have 2 weeks in the office because the rest of the time I am either travelling or training!  Whaaat?!!  How am I going to keep myself occupied for those 4 weeks?!  Well I have my Executive Development Program work to get ahead on before Rocky arrives.  Plus I have some knitting to do 🙂  I guess you might see me write a few more blog posts!  And we are still writing our book on infertility for friends and family.  Plenty to keep me relaxed.
  • Maternity photo shoot.  Although Chris will probably take some maternity photos of me, he can’t do photos of the both of us easily, so we decided to hire a photographer.  I selected 6 local photographers, and of course let Chris decide which one to go with as he is the pro! Naturally, he picked the most expensive one ;-p We paid our deposit and selected our location, so the photo shoot will be in a couple of weeks time! All we have to do now is figure out what to wear!
  • Travelling to Europe.  I have two more work trips to fit in….Bavaria, Germany and Luxembourg City, Luxembourg.  I love love love Bavaria at this time of year – the colours in the mountains are simply amazing!  And I am excited to be going to Luxembourg because I have never been before.
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My 30 week bump flying to Germany- and the plane’s seatbelt JUST fits round it!  I hope next time I fly I don’t have to ask for an extender belt :-s

  • Nesting.  You may recall we bought a new house earlier this year.  We have been slowly fixing things, decorating etc.  But the past week or so we decided to get as much done as possible – new sofa, new patio furniture, new kitchen table, hanging pictures, selecting photos to hang, organising the study/filing etc.  Chris has also been batch cooking sauces, chillis, stews etc to fill up our chest freezer. Bless him – he has been amazing at getting things ready because I have been, quite frankly, useless! This is what is called nesting!
  • Party planning.  I am not having a baby shower…but we are having a house, baby and birthday party to celebrate our new home and to enjoy some time with our friends before our family grows into three.  Oh and it is Chris’s birthday soon too.  So why not have a big bash?

That’s a long post – I’m sorry! But it has been a while and I wanted to capture everything that has happened in the past few weeks.  Signing off with a bump pic!

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It had been 11 weeks since the last bump pic!