Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

So... 2010 is just around the corner. 2009 was definitely the most beautiful year of my life, with the birth of our long-awaited baby. But the first few months of motherhood have not always been easy - I'm exhausted, for lack of sleep and stress about all kinds of things - the baby, but also things that have been brewing for years and years, things that probably contributed to the diagnosis of unexplained infertility.

I want my life back. I feel like I've lost myself. I love caring for my baby, but I need my own things too - some people say "you have to do what's best for your baby", but I have to do what's best for my baby and me. This is difficult, because after having given up a career, having struggled with IF for years, resulting in some lack of self-esteem, I find it absolutely amazing that there is this little human being that needs me, for whom I'm the most important person in the world. So I think that leads to me having difficulty handing things over when it comes to my baby, and not being able to switch off, even when someone else is caring for him, or when he's sleeping.

So I've made some New Year's Resolutions to change this situation, hopefully I can stick to them:

1. Make appointment with therapist
2. Try to get baby to accept bottle so I will have more freedom (and can drink wine again!)
3. Take up yoga classes again
4. Start making music again (alone and with the trio that I've more or less abandoned)
5. Try to get a daycare spot for baby for a few (half) days a week (our first request was denied) so I can do #3, #4 and #6 more easily
6. Start own business / freelancing

#1 is pretty scary, but I know it's necessary to get out of the vicious circles I'm in - I had hoped I could just talk to hubby and friends/family, but hubby made it clear the other day that he's willing to support me in whatever I choose to do, but since I don't make choices/decisions, but just keep going around in circles (and get info left and right, but don't do anything with it, other than becoming even more insecure), he says he can't help me right now. That was hard to hear. But I guess he's right.

I don't want to sound so depressed (but hey, this blog is my place to vent!), especially since I know how many women are out there still struggling with IF. I have the baby I longed for - but that just doesn't solve all my problems and I want to be as happy again as the first few weeks after his birth. I know it's possible, but I also know I'm the only one who can do something about it.

So that's my wish for 2010 - that I'm strong enough to change things so I can fully enjoy the beautiful gifts of life again.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Just relax"

Yes, right - the words I heard so often during TTC are back. I now have a baby, everything went fine the first two months, he was a model baby, slept great, ate well, grew well. Then he hit a growth spurt and ever since his sleeping has been worse and I started to stress. Then at the 4-month checkup my pediatrician said he hadn't gained enough weight, so I started to stress more. She talked about spacing out nursing / complement with a bottle. I asked around, got advice which basically said the doctor was nuts, so I kept things the way they were. Went back to the pediatrician today, no change, just me completely stressed out (because baby's demand for feedings increased too and his sleeping got worse) and almost in tears.

So... she told me I'm too stressed, I worry about things that are not important, therefore I can't take position, just ask around for advice, and don't get any further. She's so right, I don't know what to do, I don't want to be stressed, I want to enjoy my baby, but I'm turning around in circles. Oh man, why do I make it myself so difficult? Why can't I decide if I'm just going to continue breastfeeding, if I'm going to add a bottle now and then, or if I'm going to start with solids (even though my baby is hardly 4.5 months old - the doc recommends it because I didn't want to complement with a bottle, but now that I'm home I wonder if that wouldn't be better after all - maybe his current 'growth spurt' isn't a growth spurt (because he didn't grow) but just a sign that he's hungry all the time because my milk doesn't give him all he needs?) - I know I am the only one who can change this, but how?

I'm going to see another doc tomorrow (to add to the stress), who's specialized in breast feeding. See what she has to say - and then I have to make a decision based on what my pediatrician said and what she says (at least I hope she doesn't think "growth spurts" are nonesense, as my pedi seems to think).

The doc gave me the name of a psychoanalyst, in case I want to talk to someone. Jeez, I'm pathetic, but it's probably a good idea (if someone can babysit?)...

Oh, btw, my baby is adorable and I love him very very much.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

No more faith in the French legal system

A bit off topic, but I have to vent...

I met a very nice woman about two months ago at a meeting of the local version of La Leche League - she had 6-month old twins, who she had been breastfeeding since they were born.
We met again by chance a week later and then found out we lived really close to each other. So we met up a few times to go to the park with our babies. She then mentioned the relationship with her husband was not good, but didn't go into detail.

Last Saturday she called me and asked if she could come by. I sensed something was wrong. And I was right: a few days before her husband had come in with a court order and snatched the babies - who were still (exclusively) breastfed! - away from her, on some false accusations that she was mistreating them (and him).

This is now more than a week ago. She still has no idea where her children are. She calls her husband every day, but doesn't get many answers. In the meantime, the judge acknowledged that she made an error, but nothing can be done until a hearing next Tuesday (two weeks after the babies were taken from their mother).

I first thought she just had a bad lawyer - found her a good one - but that one says the same.
It's true that I don't know the full story, and I haven't known my friend that long, but long enough to know she's very friendly and a loving and caring mother to her twins. So wtf is this? How can it happen that babies are taken away from their mother just like that, without hearing both sides of the story? I thought a mother always had a stronger position than a father when it comes to child custody... I find this all very upsetting.

Friday, September 4, 2009

IF mindset

The other day we had dinner with friends who have four kids. When we sat down at the table, the youngest girl said all excitedly "I'm sitting between the daddies!". I immediately thought, "well, yeah, but my hubby's not really a daddy", when I realized that he is! We are finally parents too! But I guess after all those empty years, there's some adjusting to do in my head...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Private blog for the little man

I finally got my act together and started a private blog with info and photos of our little man.

If you want in on it, please create a wordpress account and email it to lostintranslation73 [at] gmail [dot] com, together with some info about yourself (if you've never commented on my blog and I don't know you) and your blog URL, if you have one. If all's well, I will then grant you access and send you a link to the private blog.

As I'd like to keep this blog anonymous, please do not reference to it or to my user name here on the private blog!! Thanks!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Eulogy for my stillborn brother

I have a brother. He would have celebrated his 40th birthday today, but he was stillborn, so we never got to know him. My mother had him with her for almost nine months, felt his kicks, his hiccups, until one day those were gone. She called the doctor, a young and inexperienced replacement, who came and told her she shouldn't worry, he thought he still heard a heartbeat. About 10 days later she gave birth to a lifeless son - the medical personnel treated her like she was a stupid, ignorant woman. My dad was not allowed to be in the delivery room with her, they were not allowed to see the baby, to see if he resembled mommy or daddy, nobody had ever thought about memory boxes with foot or hand prints in those days... They were led to believe it was for the best they never saw him - that he had 'blown up' because he had taken in all the amniotic fluid.

My dad and granddad buried him while my mom was still in the hospital. She wanted to visit the grave later, but she was afraid to ask, they weren't supposed to talk about it anymore, so she never went. She didn't get to say goodbye...

They were supposed to forget - just get pregnant again and have another baby. Don't think about this one. But of course they didn't forget, they couldn't, the pain remained, even after my sister and I were born. They didn't talk much about it, I always used to forget the date, until I noticed one of them shed a tear or they gave each other an emotional hug and then I remembered...

Now that I have been pregnant myself and am blessed with a healthy baby boy, I will never ever forget my brother's birthday anymore. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for my mom, those 10 days without feeling any life, knowing something was so wrong, but the doctors not listening to you. My parents are going to the cemetery today, for the first time after 40 years, even though the grave is no longer there. And I'm so happy Carly honored my Names in the Sand request, it is good to see his name spelled out.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Trying to multi-task

Birth story

Warning: This has turned out to be an extremely long, detailed, and maybe tedious post. Consider it to be more for my personal reference and skip it if you think it's TMI...

I kept telling the baby every day that time was running out if he wanted to be born without induction - he didn't seem to listen. We went to the DD+7 consult and an appointment was set for the DD+9 consult for Sunday late afternoon - after which they might already admit me for early induction on Monday morning. The thought of spending Sunday night in the hospital alone made me cry...

Saturday nothing happened... until we went to bed around 10:15 pm. Contractions. More painful than the ones I'd had before. More regular too - about every 10 minutes. If this continued, than maybe...? It made us both giddy. I tried to sleep a bit, but after a while the contractions came more often, and I started using the big exercise ball and some other techniques I learned at the birth preparation classes. It was still all very managable. The intervals became shorter - 8 minutes - 5 minutes, sometimes even 3-4. At 1:30 am, after they'd been 5 minutes apart for a bit over two hours, we decided it was time to head to the hospital.

We were both very excited and nervous at the same time. At the hospital we were greeted by a student-midwife, who brought us into an exam room. A few minutes later the midwife came in. She did a cervical check: 2 fingers dialated... I was a bit disappointed. The contractions had slowed down too. So they put me on a fetal HR and contractions monitor to see if things would progress or not. After about 45 minutes the verdict was: go back home and just come back at 5 pm for your DD+9 consult and the induction on Monday.

So off we went again. We were both a bit pissed of about the comment that we just had to come back for the induction. WTF? OK, it had all slowed down again, but these were not just BH contractions, this was the real deal, we were sure!

Back home we tried to get some sleep, which was more or less impossible for me, because the contractions were still coming every ten minutes, and were too strong to sleep through. At around 7 am the frequency increased again, and so did the intensity. As the hours passed, it became more and more difficult to deal with them. Hubby helped me a lot, especially with providing some pressure and warmth to my lower back, as the contractions were strongest there.

Around noon I decided to lie/sit on the bed, to see what effect that would have on the contractions - if they would slow down again, then they would certainly do so when they would put me on the exam table at the hospital, so it would mean we had to stay home a little longer. And yes, as soon as I did so, the frequency (but not the intensity) decreased from every 3-5 to every 8-12 minutes.

Three hours later we decided to call the hospital. The frequency had stayed about the same, but would increase if I moved around, and all in all the contractions had become really painful. I didn't really want to wait until the 5 pm consult... Got a really nice midwife on the phone, who told us just to come in so they could check the situation.

So off we went again. Were at labor & delivery around 4 pm and met by the friendly midwife. Cervical check: 4 cm. We were transferred to a L&D room, I was put on monitoring, but the cables were long enough to still be able to use an exercise ball too - with which it was much easier for me to deal with the contractions.

I'd told the midwife about my desire to try to do without an epidural and also that I'd prefer to deliver (push) on my side and not on my back. She was very open to it and told me she would do everything to help me, but that if ever I changed my mind, other options were open too.

At 5.30 pm we were at 6 cm, which was good progress according to the midwife. But after that things didn't progress so well - normally the last part should be quicker than the first, but in my case it just all progressed slowly. She put me on a magnesium + spasfon drip to help soften the cervix. It helped a bit, but not enough. Also, the baby had moved a bit and his head was now tilted backwards. In order to try to change this, the midwife put me on my side with one leg more or less in the air. It was excruciating, there was no way I could handle the contractions in this position. So I asked to bring in the (laughing?) gas to take the edge off. She brought the thing and the first try worked, I felt nice and high, but after that I was just screaming in the bloody inhaler during contractions - it was useless. So after a while she told me to try sitting on hands and knees on the bed. This was indeed better, but wow, things were getting really tough. In the meantime the midwife had also broken my water, as it hadn't done so by itself. The last cervical check she did before her shift was over around 7 pm, I was about 7-8 cm dilated. I also felt some slight desire to push, which the midwife said was a good thing, as it meant the baby was descending. She said I was very brave, wished us luck and told me the new midwife would come check on me soon.

But she didn't... or at least it seemed to take forever. I finally pressed the call button, because the feeling that I wanted to push was getting a bit stronger, and I wanted to know where we were. A student midwife came in, who I think was not prepared to deal with a screaming and moaning woman in labor without epidural, because she reacted very strangely and told me the midwife would be there soon. And indeed, she was (by then it was 8:30 pm). Another cervical check still showed only 7-8 cm. She told me I could use the ball again, which was great, because the hands/knees position was not doing it for me anymore. I was able to breathe through contractions as long as I felt them coming, but some of them just hit me out of the blue (or came immediately after I'd already dealt with two heavy ones), which was very difficult to deal with. Hubby tried to do the best he could by providing back pressure, and without him it would have really been impossible.

I was put on another magnesium/spasfon drip, but it did not have the desired effect. Contractions were also becoming irregular, so the midwife told me she wanted to put me on oxytocin to stabilize/increase them which would then also hopefully soften the cervix more. The side effect would of course be that they might be even more difficult to manage for me, and if it wouldn't soften the cervix, the only option left after that would be a c-section. So, I could go with that risk, or, as she proposed, take an epidural after all. It would give me some time to recuperate (by that time we were around the 24-hour mark), let the oxytocin to its job, and hopefully be fully dialated soon. If I wanted, I could then always choose to let the epidural wear off and not use it for the last stretch.

I was exhausted and also wanted to avoid any chance of a c-section, so I chose the epidural. A few minutes later two anesthesiologists came in. They were good, they were nice, nothing like the arrogant people I'd met during the info session and the consult (which became one of the reasons I wanted to try without epidural, just to teach them). They told me they would give me a very light dose, the first one would work for about an hour, and after that I could press a button to administer another dose myself. It was hard to deal with the contractions while they were putting the epidural in, but somehow I did manage, as during the 15-minute wait (being obliged to lie on my side) for it to start working... It was so good when it finally did. It took a bit longer on the upper right side (actually never really went away) but was very managable and I had a chance to recuperate a bit. The midwife came in to check and told me to try to push - we tried four different versions: on my side while slowly breathing out and while blocking my breath and then the same but on my back. She asked me which version I preferred and to my own surprise, I chose on my back, blocking, the version I liked the least beforehand (so you see, you can do 'dry runs' but when it comes to the real deal, it's a whole different story).

When after about an hour the first dose of the epidural was wearing off, I called the midwife again before pushing the button for another dose. Fully dilated - ready to push! The pain was back in full force, but I didn't feel it when pushing - but could feel everything else that was going on, so that was great, just what I wanted. The top of his head came out and a few pushes later it was there completely. The midwife pulled the rest of the body out to avoid having to give me an episiotomy (I had only three minor tears, which were stitched up later). And there he was, our son! So unbelievably amazing! I will never forget that moment that I saw that tiny body coming out of me and a moment later being put on my belly. It was so beautiful. - it was 0h47 on Monday, July 6 -

After delivering the placenta, they told me they had to give me another dose of the epidural, because there was some membrane tissue still in my uterus, and they had to get it out otherwise my uterus would keep bleeding and might infect. So it was a good thing the epidural was already in place and they could do this rather easily. It was a weird feeling though and the student midwife told me I could hold her hand, which was so sweet (Hubby was outside calling the family).

During that last procedure they had taken Jules from me to do the different tests and when they were finally done (including stitching me up) I could hold him again and feed him for the first time. It was magic.

About two hours after delivery they put me in a wheelchair (which was hard to get into from the bed as my legs weren't working at all because of the epidural) and brought us to my (private) hospital room at the maternity ward. Of course I didn't sleep at all, I was just staring at Jules. We waited so long for this moment... I was completely exhausted, but have never been happier.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The wait is over - our little man is here!

Our son was born on Monday, July 6 at 12:47 am, after 26+ hours of labor, weighing 3300 g (7 lbs 4 oz) and measuring 51 cm (20"). We're all doing great, and are now back home after three days in the hospital (standard in France).

I'll probably post a full birth report somewhere in the coming days and am also planning on starting a private blog with more personal info and updates on our little man. If/when I do so, I will of course let you know.

Friday, July 3, 2009

41w3d - 4th past-due-date consult

Yes, I'm still here and so is my big belly... which means we had to go to the hospital again this morning, for our DD+7 consult. Again, everything was fine. Little man was sleeping in the beginning and awake in the end, so his HR was somewhere between 130 and 150. My BP was back into its normal range: 115/63. No contractions registered to speak of, which is consistent with the last few days: the BH contractions don't really start until around lunchtime and get more frequent (but not more regular) in the evening.

More mucus plug / bloody show late yesterday afternoon and this morning, but other than that, no impending labor symptoms at all. The last consult is now scheduled for Sunday late afternoon - after that they'll either admit me directly and start induction by preparing the cervix early Monday morning with a prostaglandin gel, or if the cervix is ripe enough, I can go home again Sunday after the consult and come back on Monday morning to start the induction with oxytocin. Of course I still hope this won't be necessary after all and I'll go into labor on my own in the coming hours/days (the clock is ticking...)!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

41w1d - 3rd past-due-date consult

So we went to the hospital again this afternoon for the DD+5 consult. They put me on the fetal heart monitor for almost 45 minutes - little man was awake and quite active, so his HR in a range between 130 and 170 bpm this time. The contraction monitor also showed more contractions than two days ago, although still mostly painless and irregular.

My BP was a little higher than before: 124/74. They also did a urine test, which came back fine. Cervix check showed basically the same as during the previous checks. I had hoped it would have maybe already changed a bit, since I lost the mucus plug this morning (yay! at least some development, although it is not a real indicator of impending labor).

The midwife told me that since I've passed the due date, I can no longer deliver in the 'pôle physiologique', as they want to monitor the baby constantly during labor, to make sure there won't be any complications or at least to catch them early. I really hope I go into labor on my own in the coming days, otherwise it'll be induction on Monday and I'd like to avoid that, because that also means that I can't do the first part at home and will be on the monitor (= restricted movement) quite soon.

Currently quite some BH contactions - rock hard belly most of the time, but all still rather painless. Next consult (DD+7 ) is scheduled for Friday morning...

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

41 weeks - BOO!

Still nothing.

After having to wait more than five years before getting pregnant, I apparently get to enjoy it until the very last minute!

Yesterday evening I had quite some BH contractions, so I was hoping that labor would start in the night... Nope, nada, today everything is quiet again.

I'm bored. I've run out of things to do. My neighbor suggested vacuuming the house might induce labor... but that just gives me a backache.

I'm hot too. It's 33 degrees C (91 F) outside, so I closed all the blinds in order to keep the apartment as cool as possible (no A/C). It's not going to get any cooler the coming days either.

I removed the babystrology widget from my blog because although it was still counting my pregnancy, it no longer showed an image of a baby, just an empty womb. I found that a bit morbid... (luckily the real one in my belly is still kicking around happily).

My parents have been here since Saturday. We had dinner with them on Sunday evening, to celebrate their 41st anniversary. Saw them briefly yesterday and this morning too. My dad complained that he would go crazy if he had to stay here in the city much longer (because every day he has to think of an activity to do...) and that he has to be back in Holland on Monday for an important meeting. I asked them if they really intended to leave on Sunday if they'd knew the baby would be born at the latest two days later (if nothing happens naturally in the coming days, I will be induced Monday or Tuesday)...

Ugh. First they say they won't come until the baby's here, then they come anyway because my mom wants to be close to me and then my dad gets bored... So maybe they're driving 6 hours down to the south of France tomorrow to stay with friends, who have a big house with a pool. Whatever. My dad did send out an email to his work though, saying he might not make the Monday meeting.

Monday, June 29, 2009

40w6d - 2nd past-due-date consult

So, nothing happening yet... A few more BH contractions and lower back pains, but that's about it. We went for our second past-due-date consult (DD+3) this afternoon - again about 30 minutes on the HR monitor for the little one, who was mostly sleeping - his HR moved between 112 and 145, all fine. My BP was 110/60. The other monitor on my belly registered a few BH contractions, but not much. She asked if I wanted a cervical check or not - I said yes, not that I like them, but I wanted to know if something had changed. Well, no... she even said it was still quite long and also mentioned that as long as the contractions don't increase, it'll probably remains unchanged, which makes sense of course (so no, having eaten fresh pineapple this weekend did nothing...). Next check-up on Wednesday.

Friday, June 26, 2009

40w3d - due date

Yeah right... It might be my due date, but so far the baby has shown no intention of wanting to come out. No signs of impending labor at all.

So we went to the hospital today for the first 'post due date' check-up. Normally this takes place on DD+1, but since that's in the weekend, and the consults are only from Monday-Friday, we already had it today.

First 30 minutes monitoring the baby's heart rate (between 122 and 151, depending on whether he was asleep or awake) and my contractions (none to speak of). They also checked my BP: 113/67. Then cervix check: not much change from the 9-month check-up I had three weeks ago - about a finger dilated, shortened and soft. The baby's head is putting quite some pressure on it, as it's super low in my pelvis (but that was the same three weeks ago too).

After that it was on to another room for an u/s: still head down, back to the left, in perfect position to come out. Baby in fine condition. Placenta too, although a little bit calcified, but apparently that's normal at the end of a pregnancy. Still enough amniotic fluid everywhere. Baby's estimated weight: about 3 kg (6lbs 10oz).

So everything's ready for a smooth delivery. Now, where are those contractions?!?!?!

(If nothing happens this weekend, we'll have the next check-up on Monday afternoon.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

40 weeks - still waiting

Exactly 40 weeks pregnant today. If I were in the US or in Holland this would be my due date, but here in France they add three days extra, so still have until Friday before I have to start calling about past-term consults etc.

No signs at all of impending labor, but I really hope that the little man won't let us wait too much longer, because I'm more than ready and want to hold him in my arms! But there's nothing I can do about it - it's weird, an IVF pregnancy is so controlled from the beginning, with set dates etc, but at the end, it's still mother nature that you have to let take its course.

Luckily I'm feeling so much better than yesterday. Also had quite a good night of sleep (all relative of course, but good for a 9-month pregnant woman that is) so feel rather energetic today.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Little meltdown

I had a small nervous breakdown this morning around 5.30 am. I had been up for bathroom breaks at my usual hours, but then couldn't sleep anymore from 3.30 am onwards.

Due to the terrible itch (it was horrible all day yesterday too, luckily a bit better now) and too much stuff in my head - how long before the baby will come? How long can my parents wait patiently in Holland before driving south anyway, even when they said they won't come before the baby's born (but they booked a place from this Wednesday on - why didn't they just take our neighbor's apartment who offered it for a week from July 3rd on)? What if I go way past my due date? Can people please stop calling every other day to ask how it's going? Can I tell them 'don't call us, we call you' or is that rude? Do I need to call day care centers when I don't know yet if the company will offer me a new contract? But what if I wait too long and there is no more space? Will there be more high school kids jumping into our garden today to fetch balls they accidentally threw over the fence? Will our landlord repair the fence (broken by the high school kids on Friday) quickly or will it take months and months, like everything else we ask them to do? Why am I worrying about all these things? Why do I have this horrible itch? Why can't I sleep? Etc. etc.

I think it's all got to do something with the idea I had that the baby would definitely come earlier than my due date, and somehow I had set D-Day in my head for yesterday - wouldn't it be wonderful: born on a Sunday, just like his parents, on Father's Day (hubby was born on mother's day), on the first day of summer, on the 'fête de la musique', on his mommy's and grandpa's name day... Yes, I know, too good to be true. Or so tacky that the baby, like his daddy would do, would just refuse to be born on such a day, out of sheer recalcitrance.

So of course no signs at all of impending labor, and all the thoughts mentioned above going round and round in my head. So I started crying, which woke hubby up, who tried to console me, fell back asleep, while I stayed awake. As soon as the alarm went off at 7 am I stood beside the bed. After breakfast and hubby's departure I took it easy by doing some prenatal yoga and breathing exercises (which almost made me freak out instead of relax because I couldn't breathe out for more than 25 seconds, while the goal for labor contractions is 30-40 seconds - but in the end I did manage) and then took a shower. Doing a bit better now, but still very tired, so I'm in for at least one good nap today.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

39 weeks - tired

Well, here I am at 39 weeks exactly. Everything's going well, but... I'm tired! Especially in the mornings. I sleep horribly at night, waking up around 1 am, 3 am, and 5 or 6 am every time for a combination of reasons (having to pee, belly cramps and ligament pain - one of my favorite positions, on right side with lower leg stretched, upper leg bent, now actually hurts! - , the baby having a party inside my belly, being too warm, being too cold). Almost every night I dread going to bed and I'm happy when it's 5 am and I hear the birds singing outside and know that daylight is not far away. I'm so ready for the baby to be born (not that that's gonna make me sleep better of course)!

Yesterday afternoon I went for my pre-birth acupuncture session. I was somehow disappointed he only stuck four needles in me (two in my left breast, and one in each shin)... We'll see if it really did anything once I'm in labor. ;-) There was a funny moment when he looked at my chart and thought that my infertility sessions that I'd had in the fall of 2006 had been in 2008 (the assistant hadn't bothered to add the year back then) so that those had really worked and immediately resulted in a pregnancy - but I helped him out of that dream pretty quickly. Other than that it was a very nice and relaxing experience.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Funny how the mind works

I woke up from a dream around 3 am in which I told myself to take two Aleve because I was having menstrual cramps... Out of my dream state, I was still feeling cramps and immediately thought 'oh crap, not now', because today hubby has a little one-day work trip to Antwerp, so it would be really bad timing if I would go into labor right now.

I got up, went to the bathroom and took a paracetamol (not that those things ever help when I'm having cramps, but it's the only thing I'm allowed to take, so what else could I do). Felt my belly, not really contraction-rock-hard, the pain wasn't coming and going in waves either, just a general belly and lower back ache. So I went back to bed and tried not to worry too much.

Alarm went off at 4:45 am, made hubby breakfast and printed his boarding passes. The cramps hadn't increased. I actually felt quite OK, and was convinced this was just my mind playing tricks on me because hubby was leaving (he did leave with a whole scheme of flights and trains that he can take back home earlier than his original evening flight, just in case). At one of the hospital info sessions they had already warned for going into false labor with the example 'when your husband has a business trip to Paris'. Oh yeah, and the other thing that made me have contractions was very likely the fact that I had cleaned the windows and washed + ironed the curtains yesterday (what do you mean, nesting?), of course way too much activity for a 9-month pregnant lady!

After I promised hubby I wouldn't do anything today (he didn't believe me, I could see it) and he had left for the airport, I heated up a pad to put on my belly and went back to bed. Slept for a couple of more hours, which was great. Woke up without pain. Had a lazy shower and breakfast and am lying on the couch right now (which my lower back actually doesn't like very much. I'd love to be in the hammock, but the frame is not set-up and it's too heavy for me to carry). The only things on my to-do list for today: make grocery list for for tomorrow (done), update blog (almost done), play cello, read New Yorkers (still six, eh... eight issues behind). Was really tempted to do a load of laundry, but I'll wait until tomorrow, so hubby can help.

Luckily this is the last business trip that hubby's taking before my due date. I told the little one he can come any time starting Tuesday (so I can still have the acupuncture session on Monday afternoon). Officially I still have exactly two weeks to go. We'll see what happens...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Call from the midwife

So the midwife from the hospital called regarding the 'pôle physiologique'. Everything is A-OK for me to have the delivery there. Basically it means once we arrive, the midwife will make sure to leave me as autonomous as possible. Monitoring in the beginning for 30 minutes, then 10 minutes every hour. No epidural, unless I change my mind and do want one, or unless something's not quite right with the baby and they need to intervene. I also mentioned my desire to deliver on my side and she said that in principle that's OK, but not all midwives have been trained in that, so it might happen that 'my' midwife doesn't feel comfortable with it and wants me to deliver on my back. In any case, she told me to clearly tell the midwife my wishes when we arrive, so she can also encourage me to go on when at one point I don't think I can do it anymore and am tempted to ask for an epidural. All sounds good. We'll see how it goes on the big day.

I also made an appointment for Monday afternoon for a pre-birth acupuncture session. My curiosity / hope that this will positively influence the labor and delivery process is bigger than my fear that the doc will screw up again with a 'double consult'.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

38 weeks - in waiting mode

Exactly 38 weeks pregnant today. Not too much to tell, we're basically in waiting mode.
One very annoying thing though: the itch is back. Aarghhh! My own fault. I took a bath on Sunday night, to relieve some BH contractions - used calendula bath oil, which is supposedly for sensitive skin, but I remembered (stupidly only after taking the bath) that during the 'itchy period' it always seemed to make the itch worse, instead of better. And so yes, since Sunday night the horrible itch is back and making me miserable. I hope it won't last too long.

The OB called me yesterday to say that she had good news for me regarding the 'pôle physiologique': she had discussed it with the hospital team (so apparently my comments made her rethink what she had told me during Friday's check-up) and now a midwife will call me on Thursday to discuss things further. So I'm really happy about that, and I can then also already tell her I'd like to deliver the baby on my side (hubby told me I should have mentioned that to my OB today too, and of course he's right, but I somehow forgot...).

So this weekend I was like 'let the baby come', now I'm telling it to stick around for at least another week, so I can get this organized with the hospital before we come in for the delivery.

I'm also contemplating whether or not to go for a pre-birth acupuncture session. A few women talked about it at last week's prenatal yoga class and were very enthusiastic about it. I did have some acupucture sessions three years ago, regarding our infertility. Although the acupuncture itself was OK, I had a weird experience where one time he told me, after the acupuncture itself, to go into his office for a small consult and to wait behind the screen, on the exam table, until he returned from giving something to his assistant. So I did, but when he returned, he had forgotten about me and had brought another patient in, whom he then also directed behind the screen, where we said an awkward hello and the OB/acupuncturist quickly took the other patient away. He otherwise has a great reputation for acupuncture with pregnant women and everyone else whom I talk to is super enthusiastic about it. So...what to do?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Another phase

I've got the feeling I'm in a new phase (the last one?) of the pregnancy since Friday.

I have more pelvic and ligament pain, still sometimes want to do irresponsible things like vacuum or move something too heavy, but I just don't have the energy for it anymore, I take longer naps...

Also really have the feeling that the waiting has started - I'm over 37 weeks, so basically full-term, at the last OB check-up everything was fine, I've had all eight birth preparation classes, the baby room is done - so in other words: we're ready.

I also had a great conversation with my mom, and an OK one with hubby, regarding my parents visiting after the birth and hubby taking paternity leave at the same time (I'm so happy he does want to take time off right after the birth), so there's a lot less stress in my head about that issue right now than there was before.

So yes, I'm ready. I sure hope the baby doesn't decide to wait until past my due date...

Friday, June 5, 2009

37w check-up

Today - at 37w3d - was a day of two 'lasts' - my last birthing class and my (presumably - if I'm not going to go past my due date) last OB checkup.

The last birthing class was a sort of déjà vu of the first one - I was together with someone for whom it was her first class, so for me it was just a recap of some exercises, which wasn't bad. The previous session we had last week was really more of a last class: with husband, working on the pushing techniques. But hey, I have a right to eight paid classes, so I took them all! :-)

Last week I also got the midwife with whom I did the classes to prepare the early release form from the hospital for after the birth. Normally in France you stay in the hospital for at least four days, but of course nowadays they're also interested in freeing up the rooms/beds, so they have an option to leave earlier (after 2-3 days - if the doctor's are OK with it) with a follow-up at home from an independent midwife. So you need to have this form filled out with you at delivery and then if you indeed want to leave early, you hand it in, if you change you mind and want to stay the normal period, you can do that too.

My 9-month check-up with the OB was this afternoon at the hospital. Everything was fine and the OB was very content. I told her that she scared me a bit three weeks ago, for which she apologized, but then I said it was also good that she had done it, because it had forced me to take it easier and now I just felt a lot better - so we had a laugh about that.

The stats: +1 kg since last check-up (so +11 since pre-pregnancy), BP 110.5/60, fundal height perfect (didn't get the measurement), baby's HB 140 bpm, presentation perfect (head down, already pretty low, head 'stuck' into my pelvis), cervix short and 1 cm dilated, so my body is definitely starting to prepare for the big day.

She had to redo the Group B strep test because she had not received the results from the one she did three weeks ago and the hospital admin staff couldn't seem to find it either (weird...). She also prescribed some 5 mg folic acid tablets to take with my iron supplements - she had just had a meeting in which they had discussed anemia in pregnant women and that taking folic acid apparently helps to absorb the iron better.

We also had a small conversation about maybe going to deliver at the 'pôle physiologique' of the hospital - meaning a more alternative / less restrictive / less medicated protocol - but she advised me against it. - at the regular delivery room, you can also opt not to take an epidural, deliver on your side (which I would like, because it's so much more comfy than on my back - other positions not allowed in this hospital) if you have a cooperative midwife, use the exercise ball etc etc and apparently some midwives put you in a 'special cases' box if you want opt for the 'pôle physiologique', and treat you like some alternative nutcase... If it would have been my second or third child, and if I would have been in my own country (with own language), she would have said to maybe give it a try, but not now. Of course I could have insisted, but it's not that important to me - I just need to make sure that as soon as we arrive in the hospital I'll tell the midwife that I want to deliver on my side, and that if she doens't like that idea, she gets me a colleague who is OK with that (I assume there will be more than one midwife on call...) and voice any other things I feel strongly about.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

37 weeks

Made it to 37 weeks, so far so good! I keep thinking my OB just scared me more than was necessary with her comments at my last checkup - I really thought I would go into labor immediately after, but here I am, almost three weeks later. Of course I have been taking it easier, so we never know what would have happened if I had continued working... Oh, well, it doesn't matter.

What does matter though is that I received a letter this morning from the state health insurance that they're not going to pay me during my maternity leave. The company and I were under the impression that the only requirement I needed to fulfill was to have worked at least 200 hours in the last three months before the start of my maternity leave, but in the letter I got they also say I should have been registered for at least ten months before the birth of the baby. Since I've got my insurance card only since February (before that I fell under my hubby's insurance), I don't qualify.

But... good news! Our accountant just called. She talked to the insurance and I indeed don't qualify under my own number, but I do under hubby's number! So we have to send a letter with a copy of his insurance registration and they're gonna pay me after all (of course with some delay, but that's OK)!

Did go to the mall this morning. I'm sure hubby would have objected, but he's away for business today, so he wasn't there to stop me. First stop was of course the rest room, where the cleaning lady told me (after I put the 40 cts in the turnstile) that pregnant women don't have to pay, but she didn't give me back my money either... Then on to the Gap, where I bought three T-shirts (not from its maternity line, but thee rather long Ts from its regular collection in a buy 3, get one free action) and finished at H&M, where I bought two nursing tops. Must say that even though I only was there for 45 minutes, it was quite exhausting, so I was glad to be home again.

Before going to the mall I had my last test (blood: toxoplasmosis, urine: glucose and protein) at the lab, and went to the post office to buy stamps for the mailing of the birth announcements. Also made an appointment for tomorrow at the hair salon.

Some emails and phone calls awaited me when I got home. Did those, had lunch and now I'm really tired. Think I will get into the hammock again, even though it's probably a bit too windy to put up the parasol and without it it'll be too hot, but I don't want to stay indoors either with this beautiful weather.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hubby-imposed house arrest

Yesterday I decided I want to buy one or two maternity short sleeved shirts or tank tops because almost all my other maternity wear is long sleeved and that's getting a bit too warm. Not wanting to spend too much money on it either (for the four weeks pregnancy that are left), I had thought of a quick trip to either G.ap or H.&M in the mall.

Hubby was going to the train station this morning, which is next to the mall, so I thought I'd catch a ride with him and take the bus back. He didn't allow it (mainly because of the bus ride)! Suggested he would buy the t-shirts for me (no way!), but when I refused, he said we would go together later this week...

So I stayed home and did our tax return instead...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

36 weeks - miscellaneous stuff

36 weeks pregnant today! Anxiety over possible early delivery that I had just after my OB appointment almost two weeks ago has subsided a bit - which also means I'm probably doing more stuff than I should, but hubby keeps reminding me to take it easy. No relaxing in the hammock today as it was raining, but it promises to be better weather by the end of the week again, so good relaxing times are ahead!

Not much news. I'm doing some more yoga and exercises I learned during the birthing classes at home now, to be well prepared for the big event and also in an attempt to sooth this stupid back pain - it's the same pain between my left ribs that I had early March after my bout with the flu - then it was caused by all the coughing, and luckily it disappeared after a few weeks. But now it's back for no apparent reason (other than a heavy belly pulling on it), since about two weeks, and there has been no improvement at all.

I've gone for treatment to an osteopath (the to-go-to- therapy here in France. In Holland I would have gone to a physical therapist, in the US to a chiropractor. Every country its specialist/style, I guess...), to whom I'd already been three times before for some pregnancy-related lower back pain. He was able to do something about that lower back pain, but this pain between my ribs seems to be untreatable. It really hurts when I try to lie on my left side, when I want to turn around in bed (which isn't easy anyway with a big belly), when I sneeze, cough, blow my nose, or go to the bathroom - so I'll probably have some additional pain when pushing during labor too... ugh.

Other than that, I'm feeling fine. Quite some contractions lately, mostly painless, except for when I feel them in my lower back, but that's luckily only rarely the case. Besides that, the baby seems to really like to stick his foot in my right side, in a sort of slow-motion movement, while moving his butt/back to the left - it's funny to see my belly go in all different shapes, but the feeling can be a bit less pleasant, especially when I'm trying to sleep!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

35 weeks - anesthesia consult

Today I'm exactly 35 weeks pregnant, yay! It's weird, since Friday's OB appointment I feel like every day I'm not going into labor yet is a blessing... want to keep the little guy in there for at least another two weeks, after that I don't care so much anymore if he decides to come early.

Have really been taking it easier, although hubby still thinks I'm doing too much. Luckily it's gorgeous weather, so I'm spending many hours in the hammock. Today I had to venture out to the hospital though, to get the pre-admission file in order and for a consult with the anesthesiologist. Before I used to walk all the way to the hospital (about 20-30 minutes), but today I took the bus. It was crammed with ederly people doing their shopping at the fresh + clothing market though, and the bus driver didn't bother to put the A/C on, so it was not a very pleasant experience.

Making the pre-admission file went fine. Not too long of a wait and a nice lady at the desk (this is not always the case - last Friday I had to wait half an hour to get my medical file before my OB appointment). Then on to the anesthesia consult. They were 15 minutes late, which is pretty normal by doctor's appointment schedules I think, but it seemed like the anesthesiologist was trying to recuperate every lost minute by rattling down the questionnaire (which I already had filled out - why ask all the questions again?) in an amazingly monotone voice. She was suprised that I'm still taking the baby aspirin (my OB told me Friday to continue it for another two weeks) as this is a contraindication for an epidural (you need to be at least five days without aspirin before you can get an epidural).

Then she had me sit on the exam table to do a 'try-out' of the position you have to be in when they give you the epidural, took my blood pressure, and that was it. No questions on how I viewed the whole epidural thing, not even the standard question if I had any questions - it seems that they think everyone, especially with a first pregnancy, is going to take the epidural anyway, and all the other information was already given at the info session a few weeks ago.

Whatever... the more I deal with these people, the more I get convinced of really trying to do without epidural. But hey... talk to me again after the delivery and see if I was really that strong.

The only really good thing she told me was that I should not take my iron supplement at breakfast together with a cup of tea, because the tea will prevent the iron from being absorbed. My OB hadn't told me that, nor had the pharmacist, so this is good to know!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Message for A - yoga in Paris

Hey A, I hope you're still reading my blog (and that you had great beta doubling numbers!). My yoga teacher gave me two people to contact in Paris for yoga classes. She told me she's not sure they're doing specific prenatal yoga classes, but if not, they should be able to direct you to someone who does.

1: Sylviane Gianina
75001 Paris
sylvianegianina [at] gmail [dot] com

2: Marina Margherita
75001 Paris
marina [dot] margherita [at] orange [dot] fr

Hope this helps!

Friday, May 15, 2009

34w check-up

Today, at 34w3d I finally had my 8-month check-up. It's been six weeks since the last one (not counting the u/s at 32 weeks), the check-ups are supposed to get closer together, not further apart when you're in the last stages of your pregnancy! But you know, this is France, and it's May, which means: Holidays. This was the first consult I had with my OB at the hospital (mandatory for the 8 and 9 month check-ups), and not at her regular practice, she's only there on Fridays, and the previous two Fridays were public holidays, so there you go.

Everything started out fine: weight +10 kg since pre-pregnancy (2.5 kg since last checkup), BP 120/60, fundal height perfect, baby's heart rate OK, but... cervix: a lot shorter than last time! Must have happened in the last two weeks because at the 32w u/s it was still fine at 4.15 cm - I don't know the measurement, but what she indicated seemed like something between 2.5 and 3 cm... I think it was still closed though, but I actually forgot to ask and she didn't say.

So I was ordered to take it a lot easier, absolutely no more carrying of heavy stuff (I must admit I still do sometimes - and afterwards always get scolded by hubby, if he finds out), lie down more, start taking naps again and stop working. So there you have it, I've officially started my maternity leave, exactly six weeks before my due date, the earliest you can start it here in France (and then I'll have 10 weeks after). I had planned to work for another two weeks, because everything was going great and that way I could get two weeks extra with the baby at the end, but that plan is now out the window. Will go by the office on Monday to properly say goodbye (and clean out my drawers). Feels very weird. I almost cried on the way back home from the hospital. I will really listen to the doc's advice and take it a lot easier, am a bit scared now I must admit, don't want the baby to come too early (one or two weeks early would be OK, but not six please!), so I'm already stretched out on the couch and will let hubby make dinner tonight.

Next check-up in three weeks...

Friday, May 8, 2009

Family visits...

Last week my parents were here for a little over four days. It was a mixed visit. It's always great seeing them and they helped a lot, especially with setting up the baby room. But already before they came, hubby was getting agitated. It seems to get worse the longer he knows them. He can't stand their constant organizing/cleaning up (I have the same habit, so when he has three people doing that around him, it can drive him up the wall) and sees in everything they say a criticism (which is of course ridiculous, but hey, try to reason with him, especially when they're here).

Usually he just grumbles a bit, distances himself by working, reading books stuff on his i.Phone or chatting with friends online. The atmosphere was clearly a bit tense though. I hoped we would be able to keep the peace (I hate confrontations) while my dad asked every now and then if everything was OK, they weren't staying too long, etc...

But after two days hubby exploded. First, my dad had mentioned he wanted to drill a hole in the wall and put a screw in instead of the nail that was holding up a painting above the crib, to make sure it wouldn't fall on the baby's head. Hubby interpreted this as an accusation of him being a bad dad, because he didn't think it was necessary to change the nail for a screw. (sigh). Then my dad hit his head on an open kitchen cupboard door, and because hubby has a tendency to leave them open ('to air them out') I mentioned it to him (also because it annoys me to see those doors always open after hubby has been in the kitchen). And finally my dad commented on the way hubby cooked the steak... So during dinner hubby exploded, jelled that it was his house, that he was getting crazy that we (mainly my mom) were putting things away that he had not even finished using, that he had paid for the kitchen cabinets, so if he wanted to leave the doors open, he had every right to it... The next morning he started again, this time just to me, saying they would surely critize our parenting etc., so I spent a good time crying in the bathroom...

Then there was the discussion about when my parents would actually come again for the birth. My mom prefers to come well in advance, so she'll be there the minute the baby is born. I don't mind them being here after the baby is born, but don't really like the idea of them hanging around when the little guy decides to stick around inside me a bit after my due date. Hubby prefers them to come at the earliest a week after the birth or so... Since we won't have a guest room any more (now the baby room), my parents had to book something, for otherwise all the nice but affordable lodging options might be gone. In the end they booked a nice small apartment close-by for 10 days, starting from two days before my due date (= one day after a normal 40 wk due date, this French city does 40w3d for some reason...).

But I hate it that hubby seems not to want to take his 11 days of paternity leave (in addition to three days around the birth) and that he rather gives up precious time with his newborn son so he doesn't have to 'endure' my parents' comments and way of dealing with things (and the baby). On top of all this, my cousin just emailed me that she booked her week vacation (with husband and nearly 4-year old daughter) near us exactly in the week of my due date (she is very disorganized and even after giving her my due date twice, she still didn't realize...)! So I really hope the little man will come on time or even a little early, and there won't be an entire family gathering just staring at my belly and asking me if contractions have already started... Pff, sometimes I wish we just still lived in Holland and didn't have to deal with these kind of issues.

I don't like being in between hubby and my parents. I don't want to have to choose a side, I just want everyone to get along. I know I should talk to hubby about this, but it's not easy, also because he gets in defensive mode pretty quickly when I approach the subject (me too probably, from the other side). And sometimes I have this really bad thought that I can never put the ball back in his court and say something about his parents. They both passed away many years ago. I never even knew his dad. So of course I can't say anything bad about them and in his memory they were the greatest parents ever (just like I think about mine!).

And then I wonder why my old whiplash neck and back pain (from a car accident 11 years ago, which flares up again when I'm really tired or stressed) suddenly came back last weekend...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Preparing the baby room

My parents were here for four days last week and helped us transform the guest room into a baby room. I'm very happy with the result!

The crib comes from hubby's family (no heirloom, but our four nieces all slept in it). When setting it up we discovered that the pins that hold the bottom in the top position were missing, so we have to buy something to fix that. Of course the stuffed animal and blanket/sheet are for show now... I did the responsible thing and bought some sleep sacks (and got some swaddle blankets from my sister). The changing table is a very fancy Swedish design wall-mounted one (closed on the photo obviously) that was a gift from my parents (and my father insisted on mounting himself), underneath a 3-drawer chest from another Swedish, much more well-known (and cheaper) store. My mom made the bed canopy, which goes perfectly with the bumper pad (again from the Swedish superstore). She also made the lamp shade from what was left over after trimming down the curtains.

My parents also brought the stroller, car seat and diaper genie, all from my cousin, so that's great because it saves us a lot of money.

Of course now that the chest was finally put together (we bought it a long time ago but never unpacked it), I could also do the first laundry batch of baby clothes. No dryer in our apartment (no space), so I took advantage of the lovely weather and hung it all outside to dry.

Friday, May 1, 2009

32 week ultrasound

Yesterday we had our presumably last ultrasound, at 32w2d. Everything's fine! The baby is in the right position: head down, his back on the left (so that's the hard spot left of my belly button), legs bent to the right. My cervix is still long and closed at 4.15 cm, the placenta moved up to 2.81 cm from the cervix, so that's great too!

Not a lot of great images to show - he didn't seem to appreciate the poking with the u/s stick and didn't show his face much, and when he did, he made some funny faces! But I still like this image.
We brought a USB stick and now have all our u/s images digitally, yay!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

32 weeks - miscellaneous pregnancy news

I'm 32 weeks pregnant today!

Since about a month, my perineum often feels like I've just returned from a 3-hour bike trip. According to the midwife it's because the baby is putting pressure on it. Together with some intermittent lower back pain, I sometimes walk a bit like a duck, especially when I'm just out off bed.

The midwife also told us to try to make the perineum more supple by applying arnica oil twice a week - the only problem I have with that is, although the real itching is gone - it's still all really sensitive down there and I'm afraid that the itching will return once I start to apply this oil regularly, but on the other hand I would also like to try it, as it might prevent tearing during labor...

Hubby is slowly getting used to the fact that I'm now also working, so he should help out a bit with making breakfast and dinner.

The baby is moving a lot, many times my belly is a bit asymmetrical because he's installed himself to the left of my belly button. I'm getting a little bit anxious about Thursday's u/s - he should have taken the final position by then, head down preferably! Also hope my placenta has moved up since the last u/s (at 21 weeks), because it was at 2 cm from the cervix at that time, which was deemed marginal (should be at least 2,5 cm).

Most nights hubby talks to the baby (close to my belly) before we fall asleep. I love it. It's a moment the baby's always quite active. Last Sunday hubby could also for the first time hear the baby's heartbeat by just putting his ear on my belly. Magic.

Turning around in bed has become quite difficult, which I find strange (even though I can understand it's because of the belly I have to move with me, but still).

Despite eating lots of grains, dried prunes, taking homeopathic medicine, etc, I'm still struggling with constipation. One day a few weeks ago it hurt so much, I almost thought I had appendicitis! Luckily it's getting better again.

Also still have regular bouts of nightly leg/foot cramps, even though they're mostly quite mild. I took the soap bar out of the bed, because I found it very annoying (and it didn't seem to help much). Still taking the homeopathic stuff though, and trying to drink more milk.

It often annoys me that I cannot do everything that I did before. I make these to-do lists for household chores, only to realize that after having done two things I'm already completely wiped out... I also get scolded regularly by hubby who thinks I'm walking to fast, moving something to heavy, etc. Sometimes that almost makes me cry (because I do try to take it much easier).

Look what came in the mail today

From our Australian relatives...

Too cute!

Monday, April 27, 2009

More pregnancy-related info sessions

These weeks seem to be filled with info sessions at the hospital - two weeks ago about breast feeding, last week about the birth itself (+ specifics for this hospital) and today about anesthesia/epidural.

Normally I go to these sessions alone, but for the one last week I brought my hubby, because I like the idea that he know which building and floor to go to when I might be completely out of it, dealing with labor contractions...

The session was set up around a slide show (barely visible on the screen because of the sunny day and the omission of putting blinds on the windows of this brand-new building) in which they showed the maternity ward, with the pre-delivery rooms, delivery room, positions you can take during contractions (using a big exercise ball, on the bed, against the wall, etc.), nursery, post-delivery rooms etc. etc. Other practical info: only one person is allowed to come with you into the delivery room, no changes either, which is all fine by me, as long as hubby's there, I'm happy.

It was good to get a bit of an idea what all the rooms in the maternity ward look like and what the procedure can be like once you arrive. Takes some of the anxiety off.

Also learned that once you arrive at the hospital, you're no longer allowed to eat or drink (not even water!), the only thing you can use is a water vaporizer (spray can). So it's a good idea to eat some carbohydrates and drink a lot before going to the hospital and bring a snack for hubby... Other than that, try to stay home as long as you feel comfortable doing so, unless you're water broke, then you have to go to the hospital immediately (and they might not do anything for another 24 to 48 hours, but you have to be there anyway). Oh yeah, and don't bring your full suitcase for your stay at the hospital immediately, because the lockers they have for you while you're in the delivery room are way too small to keep everything. So just bring first essentials and the rest will come later.

Today's session was interesting, especially after having heard the midwife's opinion on the epidural last week. She was not against it, but warned not to take to high of a dose (once they've given you the first dose, you get a pump with a push button and can regulate the next doses yourself). Of course the view of the anesthesiologist is a bit different: make sure you're not in pain. At all. So it was quite a pro-epidural speech, which was OK, as long as you realize who's talking. Furthermore some practical info - partners are sent out of the room while they give you the epidural (so they won't faint) and also if/when you need a c-section and you're sent to the OR, hubby has to stay in the waiting room too.

My feelings about epidural are still quite mixed. Coming from Holland, where home births are the norm and you're supposed to be a strong woman and endure natural childbirth, I've been brought up with the idea that epidurals are for sissies. I've gotten a bit allergic to this attitude and am of the opinion that every woman is free to choose, if you can do it without, great, but I'm not going to judge anyone who takes an epidural. My periods always have been extremely painful, and if the pains I experienced then are only a fraction of labor pains (but maybe they aren't, I'll find out in about two months I guess), then I'm all for it.

But since a month or two I've been leaning more to really trying to do without epidural, and prepare for natural childbirth, especially after hearing some stories of women at my prenatal yoga class (one told she was handling her contractions very well, then finally did take the epidural, which only worked on one side, so then the anesthesiologist did everything to make it work properly and she lost complete control). However, not at all costs - if I really can't take it anymore, I'm not going to play the tough girl, but I'd like to be in control as much as possible.

I have a (mandatory) consult with the anesthesiologist on May 19.

Anyway, we'll see what happens when I go into labor...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Breast feeding info sessions

Because of a few instances of abandoned breast feeding attempts by some friends, I decided I should try to prepare myself a bit for it (as far as that's possible), because I really want to be able to succeed and breast feed my baby for at least six months (how I'll do that with work I still have to decide).

I also heard from a few people who have experience with the hospital I'm going to deliver at, that there is quite some conflicting advice given regarding breast feeding by the midwives when you're there for the first three days after delivery (normal duration for post-delivery hospital stay in France), so it's good to be prepared a bit, so you'll know what to say 'yes' and what to say 'no' to.

So two weeks ago I went to a breast feeding information session at the hospital, which was very informative (and the midwife who gave the presentation seemed quite OK). They first showed a video and after that it was more or less a one hour Q&A session. She also recommended a certain book, which I immediately order online afterward and am now reading. Good stuff (and I'm picking up some new French vocabulary too).

Last Tuesday I went to another information meeting, this time from an association called 'Galactée'. It's group staffed by volunteer women who've breastfed themselves and have followed a certain training to be able to work for this association, and includes services such 24-hour phone help line, general meetings, and meetings on specific topics (such as 'breastfeeding and sleep', 'breastfeeding and the introduction of other food', 'breastfeeding and work' etc.). If you want to borrow books from its library, you have to become a member, but otherwise it's free to go to the meetings (you just have to bring something to drink or snack).

The meeting I went to was a general one for our section of the city, which happened to be only 10 minutes from my house (on foot) so that was great for me! There were eight women present: four with babies (ranging in age from 3 weeks to 6 months), and four pregnant. Nice exchange of experiences and questions. The 'official' part lasted for a little over two hours, the socializing started after that, for which I unfortunately couldn't stay because of another meeting I had to go (rush) to.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Birthing classes

Yesterday I had my second birthing class with the independent midwife (see this post). This time together with two other pregnant women (for whom this was their 7th class and one of them seemed about ready to deliver!) - the first time it was together with one other woman whom I will see again at next week's class (and who should then also be at her third class). I'll have a total of eight 1-hour classes in the coming weeks.

Mostly what we do are some breathing exercises to use during contractions (like breathing out for at least 30 seconds) and labor, exercises to relieve back pain and restore balance, and others to make you more aware of the perineum, including visualizations, all in order to make it a bit more supple in preparation for labor (in the hope to avoid it from tearing). Yesterday we also learned some techniques on how to push - that was still a bit surreal to me, I must admit, but I'm sure it'll come in handy! I'm not so good with the visualizations ("pretend your perineum is a grotto, and your organs are hanging from the ceiling like chandeliers..."), but I'm doing my best. :-)

Not sure if going with the independent midwife is so much better than taking the classes at the hospital, but at least it's convenient, because it's only a 10 minute walk from my house.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Ok, so I have a tendency to dream very weird things. Hubby nowadays just shrugs when I wake up and tell him I had a crazy dream.

But last night I had one involving labor and baby... And yes, it was crazy: we were in the hospital, where I was in full labor. I only had to push once to get the baby out (yeah, I know, wishful thinking). When it was born, there was no medical staff, only hubby, me and the baby. I was breastfeeding and saw the baby already had teeth - a full row! Tried to check with the docs, but there was no-one there. Family came, we didn't have a name. No-one knew the time of the birth, hubby said something like 10.30 (am or pm? that was unclear), but that didn't seem right to me.

And then I woke up and had to pee...

I'm sure it was in some way a reaction to the first birth preparation class I went to yesterday (more on that later).... Pff.

Friday, April 3, 2009


emilythehopeless tagged me...

Here are the rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
Done, see above.

2. Share 7 things that people may not know about you.
Hmm, OK, here we go:
(1) I'm not afraid of heights, unless there's water below me
(2) I go to bed way too late when hubby's not home
(3) when I lived in the US I thought I didn't like chocolate anymore, until I moved back to Europe...
(4) I don't like making phone calls
(5) French numbers still confuse me (especially anything above 70)
(6) I'm always planning my next vacation
(7) I've a tendency to over-organize (but hubby's keeping me in check)

3. Tag 7 people to share 7 things and link to them.
eye heart internet
Fighting Infertility
For the Flavor a baby in waiting...
Infertility on the Brain!
The Maybe Baby (Babies)

4. Let them know they have been tagged.
OK, should not forget that...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

28w check-up

I had my 28w check-up today. The stats: BP 110/60; weight: no gain since last month (!); HB baby: clear and steady (he was sleeping - until the cervical check...); fundal height: OK; cervix: long, firm and closed (no pressure from uterus/baby on it).

The OB was very satisfied with everything and said I was doing "drôlement bien" (tremendously well) and that I seemed much more relaxed ("vous êtes une maman tranquille") than in the beginning of the pregnancy, which is true.

I really like my doctor, she's very warm and friendly and knows what she's doing. Glad I took my friend's recommendation when I was looking for an OB last October.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Priority for a big belly?

So, what does the sight of my pregnant belly do on the bus, while waiting in line, etc? Here are ust some observations of the last few weeks:

First of all, if I want to be treated differently, I really need to make sure my belly gets noticed. A few weeks ago I was taking the bus to work and it was overly full. I was wearing my winter coat and had a big bag over my shoulder, so if you didn't know, you couldn't really see I was pregnant. I had to stand, no-one offered me a seat, I thought I was fine, until I almost fainted just before I reached my stop (would have for real if the stop was 1 minute further away).

So after that I made sure that I had my coat open when boarding the bus. Not that it helps much though, most people are too preoccupied with themselves to (want to) notice that a pregnant women is standing next to them and they maybe could offer me their seat (and some antisocial adolescents also board the bus in front of me, even though the door opened just before my nose). I don't know if this is the case everywhere, or that French people are just especially rude in this regard. But from now on I avoid overly crowded buses or subways. I just wait for the next one.

Last week I had to go to the social security office that deals with child support (everyone in France has a right to it) because I know finally have my own social security number since I've been working and needed to make sure that they would get all the necessary corrections into my file. I had heard horrible stories about 2-3 hour waits, so I checked with a colleague what would be the best time to go there. She advised me to go around 11 am, as that is the time most women have to leave to pick up their children from school. So I did. And when I entered the building, my heart almost stopped. I think there were at least 80 people in line. I was warm. I saw myself fainting already, so took off my coat and tried to stay very zen. Then a security guard noticed me, summoned me over, asked if I was pregnant (duh!) and told me to wait at the front of the line! Hurray!! Couldn't believe it (and felt slightly guilty)!

So it was immediately my turn... to get a ticket and move on to the next waiting area and wait for my number to be called. But at least there were chairs there, and only 20 people in front of me. In the end, I'd been there for only 40 minutes, which is great, but I still hope that from now on I can deal with this agency by mail, internet or phone, and I do not have to go there again (especially not when I'm no longer pregnant).

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Third trimester

Has it started for me or hasn't it? According to the US calculations it did so last week Tuesday, at 27 weeks, but according to the French calculations I have to wait another week. Why do the French always do everything differently..? Anyway, since I'm now half way between the US and French versions, I consider myself officially in my third trimester.

Everything's going well, some minor lower back pain and rather frequently recurring leg (and sometimes even hand) cramps, but managable. I'm still taking magnesium for the cramps and am now also trying some homeopathic granules (cuprum mettalicum - yes, I'm taking heavy metals, but very very diluted) and put a bar of soap under the bed sheets, like someone suggested on this blog a while ago and my yoga teacher also adviced. As I've started both the homeopathic stuff and the bar of soap at the same time, it's hard to say which of the two is most effective, if at all (you just have to believe it!)...

Friday, March 20, 2009

First name problem

So... we're slowly starting to talk about names. I had a few in my head, of which one clear favorite, and first was hesitant to share it with my hubby, afraid he would shoot it down immediately. I finally took up the courage a few weeks ago, and he reacted quite positively, so that was great! But... one of our colleagues just had a baby today and... yes, you guessed it... also had a baby boy and gave him the name that's on the top of my list! Now we can't use that anymore (well we could, but I think it would be weird to do so). Beh!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

25 weeks - last week's glucose test + 24w check-up

OK, I'm exactly a week too late with this post, but I'm finally feeling better (although still coughing) to do a decent update.

Last week Tuesday, while sick with the flu, I had to go to the lab at 9 am for my glucose test (+ a number of other blood and urine tests), on an empty stomach. I wonder if it wouldn't have been better if I'd have just postponed it, but oh, well, I went anyway... feeling quite miserable.
I don't know how they do it in the US or in other countries, but here in France you have to go to the lab, get your blood drawn, drink the yucky super sweet stuff, and then stay at the lab for two hours before they do the final blood draw and you're allowed to go home again.

As everyone who's ever had a glucose test knows, it's horrible. I got the choice between 'a little bit, but very sweet' or 'not so sweet, but a bit more'. I chose the latter: two plastic cups were both half filled with glucose powder and then mixed with water. It was still disgustingly sweet, but I got it down. Then they moved me to another room where I had to sit/hang out the two hours (luckily not in the general waiting room, as I had imagined). I tried to sleep a bit, but that didn't really work. After about an hour the lab technician came to check on me, to see if I didn't have to urge to throw up. That wasn't the case, but I did feel pretty lousy and had developed a nice headache. Finally after the two hours were over another lab technician came in to do the final blood draw. I was in a bit of a daze and was feeling very hot. She was super sweet. I could finally go home. Got a croissant at the bakery downstairs (in a nice coughing fit) and went home to eat and sleep a bit before my 24-week checkup at 2 pm.

While in the OB's waiting room I almost fell asleep two times... She was also very nice and understanding. I was still in a bit of a daze, so forgot to take of my undies for the exam (...). Baby was clearly trying to hide every time I coughed. His HB was 155. My BP was 110/60 and I had gained a healthy 3 kg since last month's appointment. Cervix had softened a bit (probably due to me being sick), but still long and closed.

I asked her if she would have anything against us going by car to Holland for Easter (as she had mentioned something about long drives last month) and she cleary did, so we decided to abandon that plan (my mom will now probably come to us that weekend).

As for the birthing classes, we didn't talk extensively about it, but one of her recommendations was a midwife not too far from me who was already on my list, so I called her later in the week and made an appointment for April 14 (first of eight). Also got a form to fill out and bring to the consult witht the anesthesiologist on May 19. Next check-up is on April 2.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Emilythehopeless honored me with two awards earlier this week:

Rules: put the logo on your blog or post. Nominate at least 10 blogs with great attitude and/or gratitude. Be sure to link to your nominees in your post. Let your nominees know they have received the award by leaving them a comment on their blog. Be sure to link this post to the person who nominated you for the award.

Rules: put the logo on your blog or post. Pass it on to 7 blogs. Say 10 random things about yourself.

I'll do as Emily did and combine the two.

And the awards go to... (drum roll please!):
Busted Babymaker
eye heart internet
Fighting Infertility
For the Flavor a baby in waiting...
Infertility on the Brain!
The Maybe Baby (Babies)
Waiting for the Ukulele

Apologies to those who already received these awards from Emily or someone else. I just don't follow that many blogs...

And now for the 10 random things:
  1. I watch a lot of movie trailers online but I almost never go to the movies
  2. I hate scented candles and shops that smell like them
  3. I love following RTW sailing races but can't sail myself (and am too stubborn to learn)
  4. Apparently I have rock-climbing talent but I don't do anything with it
  5. I'm horribly behind on reading my copies of the New Yorker and am afraid I will never catch up again (but have to read them all entirely before I can put them away!)
  6. I thought I'd have two or three kids by now (but feel very blessed that I'm finally pregnant!)
  7. I hate having my close family so far away but am glad I don't have to go to every family gathering or birthday anymore
  8. I love living close to the mountains but miss the Dutch flatness sometimes
  9. I dream of cycling the USA from coast to coast one day (which of course I should have done while I lived there, but then I didn't have enough vacation days...)
  10. I'm grateful for the great new online friends I've made through blogging!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sick (+ jet lag)

Wow, I've been wanting to post forever, but oh well, things happened... First we went on a 2-week vacation to the US! Yay! Visiting my sister + family in California for 8 days while I was still allowed to travel on airplanes and before my miles would expire and then on the way back a few days stopover in Chicago to visit old friends and colleagues.

All great, except that, I always, really always get sick after visiting my sister (or better, my niece and nephew), and this time was unfortunately no exception. The kids were coughing and sneezing already when we got there, but I tried hard not to get infected - so refused all the food my niece lovingly offered me after she had taken a bite first and taking some homeopathic stuff as preventive mesure, but alas, to no avail... I still felt relatively OK when we left for Chicago (just a bit of a weird-feeling throat every now and then), but add a germ-infested plane ride, one day getting soaking wet by the constant downpour in the Windy City, not getting enough rest (you want to see everyone, right?), and by the time we left I was already coughing pretty badly. The 9-hour plane ride home of course didn't help one bit and by the time we were finally home I my whole body hurt and my sinuses were completedly blocked.

The cough is horrible and I feel very guilty towards my baby who's getting all these nice belly contractions thrown at him every time I have a fit, and it keeps me from sleeping well (add to the jet-lag which already makes for weird nights and strange sleeping hours).

I went to see my general practitioner on Monday afternoon. Felt like the flu, but without the fever (although my temperature is elevated but just not quite that high), eyes were glued shut in the morning (yuck!), and the coughing's just unbearable. She gave me prescription for cough syrup, eye cleaner, tylenol, nose spray, and antibiotics, just to be sure.

Couldn't start with the antibiotics until Tuesday afternoon, because I had my 6-month glucose test scheduled for Tuesday morning (more on that in a next post). Also had my 24-week checkup yesterday, so not much time to rest, but today I finally caught up on some sleep, between the coughing. First didn't think that I was improving anything at all, but this afternoon realized that I no longer have the feeling my whole body hurts, so that's already a good thing. Now if only that stupid cough would go away soon, that would be so nice (and I'm sure my baby will appreciate it too!)...

OK, it's well past my bedtime (you see, I'm still not over this jet-lag, I just had dinner 1 hour ago). So posts about 24w-checkup and awards (thanks Emily!) have to wait until tomorrow. Hubby should be home soon from his business trip. I got him all worried this afternoon because I hadn't heard my phones (both home and cell were on vibrate and I was coughing too much to hear them from the other room), so when I finally answered after he'd already tried four times, he was almost mad. I felt very bad for him and apologized profusely (as much as his dying phone battery allowed).

Saturday, February 14, 2009

21w u/s - a boy!

Yesterday was our 2nd trimester u/s, at 21w3d. My mom had come over from Holland especially to experience the u/s (and to start on some sewing projects for the nursery). Of course hubby was there too. Lots of required measurements of organs, bones etc, so many detail shots but not a lot of cute pix of the baby's face (this was also partly due to the fact that there was always either a hand, an arm or the umbilical cord in front of it). Everything measured just fine. Baby has a large head and long legs - hmmm, sounds familiar...! Measured at 22w2d so almost a week ahead of the (French) curve (and just slightly ahead of the Dutch one, as far as I can gather from the Dutch pregnancy book I have).

I won't bore you with details of brain, heart or femur, but we did also get this 3D shot, which I think shows quite a sweet face, even though I'm not so fond of the 'candle wax' 3D images.

And then of course, the big news (although I already spoiled it in the title): we're expecting a boy! I already had a feeling beforehand that it was a boy (don't know why, just a gut feeling), and my hubby too, so no big surprises here, but it was nice to have it confirmed. It was kind of a funny situation: the u/s doc asked us if we wanted to know, we said 'yes', so she moved the image toward the baby's bottom from the legs up. It was immediately quite obvious. So she said 'do you understand what it is?' and we said 'yes', but apparently she would have preferred us to say 'yes, we do, it's a boy', because we noticed the hesitation in her voice when she again asked if we understood (which we confirmed) and then she said herself 'so it's a boy' and wrote it on the u/s image (below). Quite hilarious!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Happy and more talkative

That's what my dad said I sounded today (and ever since I'm pregnant) when I spoke to him on the phone.

He's absolutely right. I'm usually not a big talker, and the past years my phone conversations have been very brief. I always inquired about the other person's well-being, but tried to avoid having to talk about myself. I didn't have anything to say - no job, no baby, just slowly eroding self-confidence - so I just said I was fine and moved on to the next topic.

But now it's different. I am happy and I do like to talk about what's going on in my life, and with the pregnancy in particular.

And today I am extra happy because after over three years of fruitless and frustrating job searching I finally have a job! Yeah!! Of course this might seem awful timing, being five months pregnant and all, but luckily the company is very flexible with everything (my hubby works there as well, so they already know me a little bit, it's a small company). They allow me to work part-time (26 hrs/week) and I start out with a 6-month contract (of which 2 to 2.5 will be absorbed by my maternity leave) and then if I want to come back after the baby is born, they'll give me a permanent contract - but if I want to take some time off first, even after the maternity leave has ended (total of 16 weeks here, 6 weeks before, 10 after birth), that's OK too (but of course I won't be paid during that time).

So yeah, I was quite talkative on the phone today...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

20w check-up

Today was my 20w check-up and I was sooo glad about being able to go see the doctor, because since yesterday late afternoon I'd been having constant abdominal cramps again and I was freaking out a bit. I did lay down, drink lots of water, use a heat pad etc, but it didn't really help. Seemed that getting up was actually making me feel a bit better (which should not be the case when you're having contractions - so maybe it was intestinal, but my uterus did feel rock solid) and I also felt the baby moving around quite happily, so both reassured me a little bit, but still, I didn't sleep much during the night and was not happy at all when I woke up this morning and it wasn't gone...

Called the OB to see if there might be a possibility that I could come in earlier (my appointment was not until 2pm), but that didn't work. She told me to lie down and take it easy. Hubby was very sweet and decided to work from home this morning, get my results from last Friday at the lab and come with me to the appointment with the OB this afternoon.

So, first thing she did was take a urine sample to check for infections. Result was negative. Friday's results from the lab were negative too. I told her the itch was still not gone (although barely noticable yesterday and today, but I won't say it's gone until it hasn't appeared for at least a week) and she said it probably would stick around for the remainder of the pregnancy, nothing we can do about it. Asked me if I maybe had some constipation - yes, not super bad, but still (I already decided to decrease my extra iron-intake again because of this). OB said that that's probably causing the belly aches and advised to drink a specific water brand that has lots of magnesium in it (but apparently doesn't taste that great) and eat prunes...

Then the usual check-up: gained 1 kg since last month, BP still fine at 112/60, baby's heart rate was 136 bpm. Uterus height OK, but I'm apparently carrying really low. Uterus felt very tense/present/tonic (no kidding!), she asked if that was always the case, I responded that yes, at least yesterday and today. So those are small contractions, but apparently the baby doesn't care ("il s'en fiche", she said) because it was moving around happily. On to the cervix, which was maybe worrying me the most - I already saw myself on bedrest, having to cancel our trip to the US etc... but no, my cervix doesn't care about my contracting uterus either and remains long, strong and closed!

Pfew.. sigh of relief! I'm already feeling better, even though the belly and lower back aches are still there.

Before we left I asked her about our travel plans to the US and she said that was no problem. Also asked about midwife/birthing classes, but she said it was really early for that and we would discuss that next month. But what she did already say was that the hospital would probably not be the best place to go to for the classes, because there would be too many people in the class with a less quick understanding of things, so I would be bored...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Nesting? might seem a bit early for nesting instinct (I'm 19w1d pregnant today), but I've sure been busy organizing, cleaning, and throwing stuff away. I went to Ikea this morning and besides a few nursery items (couldn't help myself), I bought a lot of boxes and containers to organize our bedroom closets and bathroom cabinets. Got to work right away after lunch and was able to store everything that was previously under the bed in the guest room (which will become the nursery) in the closets so I'm very proud of myself! :-)

It feels very good to clean the house out. There are currently seven full large trash bags waiting to go to goodwill (luckily they're non-see-through, otherwise hubby would probably take half of it out again saying that a particular sweater that he hasn't worn in six years is still a great sweater and should be kept...). There will undoubtedly be more, because I still have to attack the basement (it's a very small space but completely stacked with stuff - if you need something, you first need to empty out half of it before you can access the item you're looking for). However, I cannot do that alone, because it involves a lot of lifting and moving heavy items, so I'll have to wait for a weekend day and drag my hubby down there.

So now back to business. I've some items on my to-do list since early December for an association I'm the president of, so I need to stop procrastinating and get them done because I'd like to stay on for another year as president and I'm not giving a very good example right now...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Pee cup

OK, after all the serious stuff, it's time for a silly post again.

I have to call to the lab today to make an appointment for my monthly blood work (toxoplasmosis) and urine test (glucose and protein). To the right is a photo of the cup my lab hands out when you have to give a urine sample. Its diameter is 1"...

Couldn't they have made it little bit wider?! A bit more girl-friendly perhaps?! I now always take a latex glove before I have to give a sample, I don't have such a perfect aim I'm afraid...