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!!!!

 

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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: A new home, a new start

The Pudding Club Diary @ 16w0d

I can’t believe it has been two and a half weeks since my last diary entry.  Life has been chaotic as I alluded to in my last PC entry!  We bought our house….THREE AND A HALF TIMES over!!! What does that mean?  It means that we closed/completed not just once, twice, but three times! We are THAT couple – the one where the realtor/settlement people say to other buyers – well, there was this one time when we did this process three times, so count yourself lucky!  None of it was our fault, but mostly put down to an inept realtor on the seller’s side.

The house we had bought was known as a ‘short sale’…which makes things a little different to buying a house normally.  A short sale is a house that if sold is unlikely to cover all the debts owed on that house because it is in negative equity, so we had to deal with the bank to negotiate everything.  There is little room for negotiating and the house is typically sold ‘as is’.  This house had been on the market for almost a year by the time we came to close.  It hadn’t been lived in for at least 6 months.  It needed some tender loving care to say the least.  But that didn’t put us off putting an offer in, even after the inspection came back with a whole bunch of issues:

  • Active Termites (creepy!)
  • Leaky roof
  • Broken toilet that kept self flushing
  • Rusted up sinks, taps and plugs that all needed replacing
  • Broken garbage disposal
  • Broken garage door that wouldn’t open/close
  • The whole house needed repainting – inside and out – the tenants had not matched the colour of the paint well so it looked like grafitti everywhere!
  • Outdated kitchen and bathrooms
  • A garden that had not been cared for and had fallen into disrepair, definitely not housing association approved!
  • Ants, ants and more ants
  • A spider/caterpillar graveyard (makes my skin crawl thinking about all the dead bugs there were in this house!!!)

But we could see past the imperfections and loved everything about the house we had been looking for…

  • A single family home (i.e. a detached house) with garden surrounding the house, back garden south facing
  • Beautiful hardwood floors (OK they needed a bit of love)
  • Three additional bonus reception rooms including a sun room, breakfast-diner and ‘play room’
  • A fourth bedroom (nursery!)
  • A double garage
  • A fireplace
  • Gas stove
  • Windows and light everywhere
  • A double height foyer
  • A ‘nook’ area over looking the foyer
  • A community pool, tennis courts, playing field and playground opposite our house.
  • The smallest house in a quiet, lovely family friendly neighbourhood, not far from any kind of amenity you could want in one place, at the edge of the city to escape into the countryside.

You probably think I am bragging….well I am a little bit! We simply love it. We are two lucky ducks and count our blessings.

We booked a day off work to sign the papers and get the keys to our dream home.  After we signed the mountain load of papers, we said goodbye to our realtor and thanked everyone we were given the keys to our new house!  Off we went to our new house….it was exciting! Our first home together that was all ours (except the whole mortgage debt thing, but you know what I mean).

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Whoop whoop! All grown up now with our very own house!

We got to work right away in making all the home improvements we needed to complete before moving in.  The next day we got a phone call from our realtor to say that we technically did not own the house yet and did not fully close because of an issue with the bank.  Fortunately, our bank agreed to extend their offer because it was holiday weekend we had until after independence day to close again.  Yup – we re-signed all those papers!  In the meantime, we carried on fixing the house as we had booked all sorts of workers to get started on the house.  We were a little bit unsure what would have happened if the house burned down or was struck by lightening because we didn’t own it, therefore we had no insurance.  But, the settlement company or realtor didn’t seem to think it mattered much that we still were in the property.

We laughed and joked about re-signing, oh how we laughed!  Afterwards, we celebrated again.  Yey!!!! we own the house! Well so we thought….the next day Chris got the phone call saying we STILL didn’t close because the seller’s realtor had sent the documents to the wrong address.  Because he messed up he agreed to pay the fee to lock us in to our mortgage interest rate again – a cool $770 – out of his own commission.  Which ended up SAVING us $22 a month for thirty years because after BREXIT the mortgage rates went down.  So it wasn’t so bad in the end.

This time we just laughed like insane people, because that is all that we could do!  We resigned the paper work for a third time almost a week later than the original date.  No phone calls….yey! we owned the house! Ummmm well kind of, the next week, we had to go and sign another document because the city had decided to change it’s policy for having actual original copies of a certain piece of paper before we could get the application for the deeds.  But anyway….1.5 weeks later, we officially closed and owned the house!

In the mean time, we fixed the majority of the problems (well Chris did the handy work) and we painted 2.5 rooms ourselves before realising it would take us a month to finish the rest of the house and decided to pay a painter to do the rooms we needed to be done before the cats moved in! We also did a lot of packing and unpacking every evening after work.  Then there was the unruly garden we needed to address ASAP before getting complaints from the neighbourhood housing association!

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We tried to paint as much as we could, but in the end needed the hand of a professional painter!!!

Let’s just say that I am glad we didn’t do this thing when I was in my first trimester! It was exhausting as it was, I would not have been much use several weeks ago.  We did not stop for two weeks.  We had planned to do all this over a month, but because our rented house is a beach neighbourhood and we were cutting our contract early, the management company wanted us out of our house ASAP so they could re-rent it before the end of the summer.  Turned out it was pretty easy to rent out and after a few viewings it was gone.

Finally, we moved into our dream house last weekend!

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we said bye bye to our old house by the beach….

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…but hello to our new house closer to the countryside!!!

We still have a lot of work to do around the house, and a few empty rooms that need furnishing, but we will get there.  My mum is visiting next week so we will get her busy with some decorating and gardening 🙂

The whole move has been pretty stressful for our cats Sushi & Diesel, we have been slowly packing/unpacking for almost 2 months now.  Sushi has shown us her distain for this process by frequently puking up hairballs in places like our beds, shoes, front door etc.  We know this is her thing that shows she is stressed.

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Are you done with this packing thing yet?

Then when they arrived in the new house they hid for two days under the sofa in the corner and barely ate/drank a thing.  It was worrisome.  But they have now got used to their new environment.

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Where are you taking me crazy lady human? Sushi started drooling and panting with fear moments after this photo 😦

It was almost three years ago that when we were looking at houses to rent we considered rooms for a nursery, and even a room for an au pair.  But that room we thought would be full of baby stayed empty for our whole tenure.  It was kind of sad saying good bye to that empty room , with memories of the number of times I thought that this time would be the time we would have to re-arrange the furniture to fit a nursery in, that never came to fruition…

….but I am excited now to know that whatever happens, the room we have designated in our new house as a nursery WILL be a nursery.

A new home, a new start on a new journey.

So that is my excuse for being absent from my blog.  I think it passes as being a valid one??!

Deciding on genetic screening

At my first Obstetrician appointment at 10 weeks we talked about the options for genetic screening.  My first homework assignment was to go away and figure out what we would like to screen for….in addition to finding out what our insurance would cover.

Aneuploidy Testing:  These are the tests available for screening Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome), Trisomy 18 (Edward’s Syndrome), Trisomy 13 (Patau Syndrome) and open neural tube defects (i.e. Spina bifida and anencephaly).

My OB offers three options for screening:

  1. NIPT- Non Invasive Prenatal Testing (i.e. Harmony or Verify).  This is a simple and accurate non invasive prenatal screening blood test.  The test can be performed anytime after 10 weeks of gestation.  In addition an AFP (alpha-fetoprotein) blood test to test for neural tube defects is also taken at this time.  It is also possible to discover the gender of your baby through this test.  Approximate cost $825.
  2. Sequential Screening with Nuchal Translucency.  This is a two-step test to detect whether a fetus is at increased risk.  The test has a narrow window for testing (first step is performed between 10-13 weeks of gestation).  It includes 2 blood draws and an ultrasound.  The ultrasound measures the amount of fluid behind the baby’s neck (called the nuchal translucency NT).  The blood tests measures three different hormone levels, these measurements in combination with maternal information such as height and weight are used to calculate the baby’s risk of Down’s Syndrome or Edward’s Syndrome.  The AFP blood test (described in 1) is also taken.  Approximate cost $580
  3. Quad Screen (aka quadruple marker test).  This is a blood test that measures levels of four substances in a pregnant woman’s blood – AFP, hCG, Estriol and Inhibin A.  typically this screen is done between weeks 15 and 20 of gestation.  Approximate cost $305.

If any of tests come up with a positive result then additional testing can be performed (These are the more invasive tests you may hear about such as CVS or amniocentesis where the doctor extracts a sample of the baby’s cells from the uterus.  Amniocentesis is where a thin needle is inserted through the belly and into the amniotic sac to take a sample of the amniotic fluid.  CVS is where the doctor uses a needle through the belly or cervix and takes some placenta cells.  These tests carry a very small risk of miscarriage).

Additional Screening Offered:

  1. Cystic Fibrosis.  Cystic fibrosis is the most common inherited disease of children and young adults.  The carrier frequency is 1 in 24, to 1 in 97.  Both parents need to be carriers for a child to be affected (25% chance).  1 in 2500 children born are affected.  Cystic Fibrosis is a disorder of mucus production and produces abnormally thick mucus leading to life threatening lunc infections, digestion problems, poor growth, infertility and more.  Symptoms range from mild to severe, but individuals with severe disease may die in childhood.  With treatments today, people with Cystic Fibrosis can live in their 30s.  Cystic Fibrosis does not affect intelligence.  Approximate cost $800.
  2. Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA).  SMA is the most common inhered cause of early childhood death.  The carrier frequency is 1 in 47 to 1 in 73 in the US and both parents need to be carrier or a child to be affected (25% chance).  1 in 11,000 children are affected.  SMA is a progressive degeneration of lower motor neurons.  Muscle weakness is the most common type with respiratory failure by the age of 2 years old.  Muscles responsible for crawling, walking, swallowing, and head and neck control are most severely affected.  Approximate cost: $625.
  3. Fragile X Syndrome (the most common inherited cause of developmental delays).  Fragile X syndrome is an ‘X-linked’ genetic disease which means it is only carried by the mother.  Unfortunately, 1 in 250 females are carriers and a child has a 50% chance of being affected if this is the case.  1 in 4000 boys is affected with Fragile X and 1 in 8000 girls.  Approximately 1/3 of all children born with fragile X also has autism and hyperactivity.  Approximate cost $390.

What have we decided?

We decided we would like to do the NIPT (Non Invasive Prenatal Testing) for the aneuploidy testing.  Why? The accuracy is significantly higher than the other two tests and the false positive rate is very low (0.1%) compared to the other two tests (sequential screening rate is 3.5%, quad screen rate is 5%).  Our insurance also covers it, plus it would be nice to have an idea of the gender – although that is a Brucie Bonus because the chances are we are going to wait until a lot later for a gender reveal party, so we are in no hurry!

We will also ask for Fragile X syndrome screening too because one of my brothers has autism and my mum doesn’t know if she is a carrier, so it makes sense to take the test.

My next OB appointment is tomorrow – Monday – afternoon to talk through what we would like to do and to go over my blood test results from my first appointment (they all came back clear, including my slight anemia which I was worried about, so that’s good).  If I have my blood drawn tomorrow then the results will take 2 weeks to come back.  Another 2 week wait!!

On a side note, I didn’t know much about Down’s syndrome, Edward’s syndrome or Patau syndrome….so I had a read about it all.  It’s very interesting to find out more and I’m glad I have educated myself about these a bit more.

 

Survivor’s Guilt

I have a broad understanding of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) I’ve read a lot about it…so much so that even my Instagram advertises about PTSD charities on my feed (weird).

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this advert about PTSD came up on my Instagram feed

 

There is one thing that I suffer from and that is Survivor’s Guilt.  This is when someone believes they have done wrong by surviving a traumatic event when others did not.  In my case I have double the effect.  Why?  Because I survived a horrifying terrorist attack and second, I survived infertility…all within weeks of each other.

I did not know anyone personally who died in the Brussels terror attacks.  But I saw people who were dead or dying being carried out on stretchers, left alone on the side of the road as I helplessly watched.  At the time I wanted to help, but of course I couldn’t, I was (sensibly) being pushed further and further away from the airport.  I have these images burned into my head of a man with his body broken, dusty, bloody, head with loose bandages wrapped around his head, face indistinguishable and arm hanging out, quietly moaning.  All alone.  But I was behind glass some 20 metres away watching this happen in front of my eyes as more as more people were stretchered out.

I get it.  They have a system of triage, there were only so many first responders who were there in the first 20 minutes after the explosions.  The cordon was set up to protect people.  After all, there was a third bomb in there.  We know tactics of terrorists are to create mass effect by targeting the first responders.  But that boundary, the distance was so close, but so far.  I heard people were saying – I’m a first aider…I’m a nurse…I can help.  But they weren’t allowed to.  I can’t get my head around those very short moments.

I feel guilty for surviving, for not being able to help.  Sometimes my mind is heavy with these thoughts.  This doesn’t outwardly appear to affect me overall.  Well, I don’t think it does.  But I do have some bad dreams (to be expected), not regularly, but perhaps it does affect my sleep.  I wake up very early some days, I tend to put it down to my jet lag, but actually, it could be a symptom of PTSD.  I don’t have problems falling asleep, and I’m not afraid to fall asleep, so I don’t feel like it is an issue.

Then there is my pregnancy.  I am overjoyed we finally achieved our dream, we fought hard to get here!  But along the way, I have made friends with some very lovely women who have struggled with infertility too.  And the feelings I have are that of guilt.  Guilt that I have left them behind.  Similar to survivor’s guilt, and in some ways could be classified as such.  Infertility is traumatic.  I feel like I took the last life boat and rowed away from the desert island leaving you all behind in uncertain conditions.  So some days I haven’t been able to open and read blog updates, Instagram is hard to scroll through.

For those of you who are reading this and now worrying about me (my mum probably!!!) It’s OK, I’m OK.  I am sensitive to my levels of anxiety and sadness, and how that impacts my daily life…and I am OK.  Writing this down is kind of a release to me, and re-reading my writing makes me see things more objectively.  And that helps.

I found some words that are helpful (I think) on strategies to cope with survivor’s guilt:

“Rather than focus on the burden of guilt, remind yourself that you and your loved ones have been given a gift — the gift of your survival. Embrace your will to survive and fight the forces that challenge your way of being.”

Reading these words make me feel happy because deep down I know they are true, I just need to remind myself of this when I start to feel sad or guilty.

PC Diary: Heading out of the first trimester

The Pudding Club Diary @ 12w2d

I have been pretty bad at this – I have sooooo much running around in my head right now that I want to blog about but have been so darn tired or busy to type it out.  I need some kind of Dictaphone equivalent to easily extract my thoughts from my head!

Another week on work travels – I am back in beautiful Bavaria, Germany as I write!  My third transatlantic trip in my first trimester.  And they are not kidding, travelling in the first trimester sucks a lot.  However, this trip has so far been easier than the previous two, I’m starting to feel a little less nauseous now.  Whoop whoop, can’t complain about that!!! (But don’t show me a salad leaf just yet!)

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The beautiful view of Bavaria from my hotel room!

I was worried that I might not be able to fit into my work trousers this week whilst in Germany so I decided before I left to go and buy some new maternity work trousers – just in case (I had already popped a button on one pair of my trousers!)  The elastic band trick doesn’t work with most of my work trousers because they have metal sliders rather than buttons.  So off we went hunting for some cheap super stretchy clothes!  I knew there was one dedicated maternity clothes store in town, but I had heard that some chains such as Target, Kohls and Old Navy did maternity clothes so I thought I’d try those stores first.  But everything in those stores were too casual or too summery and so I ended up in the dedicated maternity store anyway.

In the maternity clothes store I bumped into a friend who I didn’t know was pregnant (but had suspected based off a group text message and putting 2+2 together) and so it was just confirmed by her simple being there!  It was a really lovely surprise because she had been told by her doc years ago she may have problems conceiving, so I am really pleased for them because that wasn’t the case in the end!! Whoop whoop – screw you infertility!! AND we are both due within a week of each other! CRAZY!

Anyway, back to the clothes buying…I went a bit overboard and finally thought what the hell, as I am here I might as well buy it.  My reluctance to buy any maternity clothes was based on a fear of losing Rocky.  I overcame that reluctance, and it felt really good to be finally in acceptance of this pregnancy.

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A nice little haul of maternity clothes 🙂

 

And so with this acceptance it was time to do my first bump picture.  I know that I don’t look pregnant to the casual passer by.  I look like I ate a lot of pies!  But seeing the bump for real in this photo – I couldn’t believe it, there are definitely outward signs now of a little baby growing in there!

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Week 12 bump picture

When I saw the doctor at 10 weeks she said to stick with the gentle exercise, like walking and swimming, but for the first time in months I felt capable of doing a bit more exercise.  So I got out the DVDs a friend from work gave to me and did a bit of a prenatal workout.  I did one of the routines with Chris.  It is a 20 minute partner exercise where your partner provides resistance and balance support…it was actually really fun!  However, I ached like hell for two days afterwards.  Not a good idea to start an exercise routine the day you fly for 8 hours on a plane!  My poor back did not like me one bit. Ahh well, it’s all good for you Rocky!

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The prenatal workout DVDs I was given!!

Finally, something that I found a little bit insensitive, and also kind of amusing in some weird typical way that is infertility…my bump app told me that obviously we had sex to conceive our baby, otherwise I wouldn’t be pregnant, DUH, – well actually, this is OBVIOUSLY NOT the case with us! I wish that it had been the case…instead we had almost 17 other people involved in the conception of our IVF baby!

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“You obviously made love before pregnancy (hence the pregnancy)” It’s not always obvious you silly app!!!