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
Hijacked...by 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).