Friday, 31 July 2009

House Renovation 2009 - Week 11

Furniture! Woohoo!

Since these photos the fridge cabinet has been enlarged and the fridge has moved into it and been plumbed in so we have cold water and ice happening. How very exciting!

We have power points connected throughout the living area and laundry, but we need to paint the ceiling before we can get the lights into their recessed chrome holders.

Plumbing has been connected in the laundry for the washing machine and the tumble dryer is hooked up so I can do laundry for the first time in 3 months. How sad is it that this is a big deal in my life?!

Our front yard looks brilliant - we have a porch, steps and big flagstones at ground level. We will plant native grasses around them eventually.

Milord is today emptying the detritus out of the backyard. We'll still have some materials hanging around but it's going to look so much better.

We have started setting up the baby's room. We assembled the cot and arranged it, the change table, toybox, chest of drawers, nursing chair and spare double bed around the room. Luckily it's a big room! We still have a lot of stuff in bags and boxes in the room, but it will slowly get packed away as I get to it.

Still outstanding:

  • Lights and fan in the laundry.

  • Toilet and handbasin in the laundry.

  • Painting of walls, ceiling and trim, and staining of fences and woodwork.

  • Skirtings.

  • Mozzie screens.

  • Kitchen worktop and range hood. Kitchen sink, dishwasher and hob (need the worktop in place first)

  • Washing line in the backyard.

So still a few things left to do, but it's really feeling like a home now.

Things we want but need money for:
  • Blinds in the living room.

  • Shutters in the bedrooms.

  • Built in cupboards.

  • Decking at ground level in the backyard.

  • Shed.

  • Barbeque.

  • Reupholstery of all dining chars and sofas.

  • Living room rug.

  • Nice timber AV cabinet under the TV.

  • Art/photos on the walls.

In probable good news the bank valuer came out yesterday to value the house for our latest mortgage advance. I hope that comes through soon - it will simply pay off debt with nothing left over, but that's ok.

The valuer also told us that a house down the road, which we think was in the same the condition as ours was when we bought it, has just sold for $570K. Milord is bummed: "Our house has only appreciated by $30K in a year!" I think he's looking at it all wrong - it's a buyer's market right now, and we bought at auction so we couldn't negotiate the price. The asking price for the house down the road was $640K and they could probably have gotten that if they weren't in a hurry... Plus I never looked inside so it might have been nastier than ours although that's hard to imagine!

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Third Trimester Solicited Advice - Part 2

This a document Tara wrote for Heidi when Heidi was expecting her baby. It totally deserves its own post! Thanks T ;-)

Feeding and Routines

Breastfeeding - even if you are doing it right, it hurts at first!

If you can’t breastfeed (for what ever reason) don’t beat yourself up about it. They won’t have to put it on their CV, in the long run it doesn’t matter.

I (and loads of our friends) really recommend giving a bottle before 6 weeks for flexibility – don’t listen to books/midwives who warn you about nipple confusion! If you wait too long they will sometimes refuse the bottle and you will need the flexibility of bottle (for formula or expressed milk).

Some babies need to suck more than eat – dummies work well, especially for daytime naps. I didn’t have any trouble getting them off dummies

Fill tank up between 7am and 7pm - so feed every 2.5 – 3 hours even if asleep – and dream feed at 10pm(ish) (Pick up and pop a bottle in their mouths – will learn to drink as reflex and helps them go through night. Never worked with a boob!) Dreamfeed was absolute saving grace with E who slept though from 12 weeks. D different story.

Children do thrive on routines, especially at bedtime, but take each day as it comes as well. Their (and your) needs change all the time. Also I found that a routine was impossible before they were about 6 weeks old and it just stressed me out trying to impose it before then. Also newborn babies need feeding very often. Really extraordinarily often. If they are crying, even if you have just fed them, they probably need feeding again. D fed every 90min through the day and night for about 6 weeks. This can happen especially in early evenings 5-7pm – called ‘cluster feeding’ – if your little one does this i.e. fusses and wants to suckle all the time before bed, just try make yourself comfortable, watch TV etc and go with it. All this extra suckling helps build up your supply. Bottle fed babies apparently fuss at this time too.

Routine we (sort of used) with our two from 6 weeks is that they ate every 3 hours and were awake for an hour and a half and then slept for an hour and a half. So roughly:
07h00 Feed (we TRIED to wake them up for this feed even if we were knackered)
08h30 Nap
10h00 Feed
11h30 Nap
13h00 Feed
14h30 Nap
15h00 Feed and catnap
17h00 Feed
18h30 Bath
19h00 Feed
19h30 Bed
22h30 Dream feed and hope for the best!

As they got older the 15h00 and 17h00 feed became one and at about 4 months they moved to feeding every four hours.

We found it very helpful to keep it dark and quiet at night-feeds (no chat), and lighter and noisy during day inc naps to help them differentiate night and day.

I cant advocate buying a Grobag enough – baby sleeping bag. Easy to change nappies at night, blankets don’t come off, safe, helps guide how warm to dress at night, easy for traveling, cant climb out of cot, they know its bedtime etc

A comforting soft toy really helps as they get older.

Don't forget you and your baby are learning how to do this thing together. Your baby hasn't read the books. You'll both work it out, somehow.

If things are going badly (terrible teething, tantrum etc) it won't last. Whatever is bugging you, it will pass. It feels like forever at the time, but one day someone will ask you "did yours do that?" & you'll start to say no and then realise that they did, but you've forgotten all about it.

If you are having a really bad day and feel like you are going to lose it, put her down in her cot and walk away. Walk away, make yourself a cup of tea/have something to eat. She will come to no harm and by the time you are ready to go back to her she would have either have stopped crying or you will feel calmer to deal with her.

Before E, I was told to always change their nappy before a feed. She'd be screaming with hunger while I changed her nappy, I would start feeding, and invariably she would fill her nappy and I'd have to change it again. So that was crap advice. Mine would be “Don’t change nappies until after a feed!"

Don't worry about tomorrow - concentrate on TODAY, and cope with today. (If he/she isn't sleeping/eating/behaving well today, but you can cope with it - that's OK; don't make it into a crisis by worrying how you'll cope if he/she doesn't sleep/eat/behave well for the next 2 years!) Boy, is this advice hard!!

'Don’t be the expert', i.e. don't be the only one in your relationship who knows how to do everything with the baby (be it feeding, nappy changing, bath time, whatever). Because if you are the expert, you'll be the only one doing it forever more and that's no good for you all as a family.

And remember……

Whatever it takes to keep you sane – do it. Remember that you need to put yourself first sometimes. A happy mummy makes a happy baby
A child needs your love most when he deserves it least.
It’s their job to test us as parents (easier if you think of it like that)
Carrots stain and everything else you can solve between you and hubbie.
If it won't matter in 5 years, it doesn't matter now.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Preggy Update

Week: 33 and 3 days

Weight: 78.5kg (+7kg since start)
Boobs: 101cm (+3cm since start)
Ribs: 87cm (+5cm since start)
Waist: 101cm (+14cm since start)
Hips: 104cm (+6cm since start)
Thigh: 58cm (same as start)

Hmm. My weight is up a little but my midriff measurements have expanded a lot. I am feeling huge in the midsection and I've started hitting stuff with my belly. Open the fridge... bonk. Open a cupboard... bonk. Walk behind a chair... bonk. I find myself shielding the bump with both hands as I navigate around people and obstacles, because it hurts to bonk into things!

Getting out of bed is getting harder - I have to manoever my legs over the side and use that as leverage to roll out. I can no longer touch my toes and anything on the floor might as well be in a different country. Ok, I exaggerate, but not by much! To get up off the couch I have to shuffle my bum to the edge first. I'm starting to drop crumbs down my cleavage and onto my bump because they're sticking out like a shelf!

I had my obstetric checkup this week, and all is well. BP good, baby heartrate good. I asked him how the baby was lying and he said she's head down and turned to one side, almost exactly like this:

(Gee, no wonder my bladder struggles - not much room there for it, eh?) The baby has been head-down since about week 29 according to my records. "Don't they turn head-down just before birth?" asked Milord worriedly. Apparently not, they turn whenever they feel like it. I'm just pleased she's already head-down as there isn't much room in there to turn if she wasn't! I guess the hard lump that I thought was a head is a shoulder or a bum then...

I've swelled up a little in my hands and feet, but it's not constant. I've taken off my engagement ring but can still wear my wedding ring, and it goes from tight to loose and back again throughout the day.

Hmm what else? I'm a lot happier in my pregnancy lately. I'm attributing most of this to the iron supplements because I simply feel more alive! I wish I'd started taking them months ago - I guess I'll know for next time. My appetite has improved, my sleep has improved, and I just feel... good.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Third Trimester Solicited Advice - Part 1

As I am now about 7 weeks from being a mommy I sent out a request for advice to all my friends who have young children. I figured they wouldn’t generalise or sugar-coat stuff as we’re mates! I only asked people with little kids as (a) people forget and (b) birth/newborn ideas go out of fashion.

My questions were:
What are the 5 lifesaver items you took to the hospital?
What are the 5 most important things to have ready for the newborn at home?
What have we probably not thought of or not been told?

The replies are coming in from all over the world so I’ll post them in batches as I get them. Also, some lovely ladies have written in detail so those will get their own post.

...feel free to chip in the comments with your answers too!

What are the 5 lifesaver items you took to the hospital?

Jodie (Australia)

  1. Chocolate (of course)
  2. Books
  3. Hand lotion and lip balm
  4. Diary
  5. A dummy (not talking about the father). You may be already saying no to the dummy but that was my saving grace for M as all she wanted to do was suck. So my magic wrap lady (the mid wife) would come in after I had fed her and she would ask for the dummy and wrap her in warm blankets and she would be out for hours.. up to you of course.

Shona (South Africa)
The hospital question is a tricky one as it depends on the hospital and what they provide and whether or not your baby rooms in with you or is in a nursery. For us H was in the nursery unless we took her out and wanted her in the room with me. The one thing I found useful was earplugs for when I wasn't looking after the baby as there is generally a lot going on in a hospital and strange noises, so I found that they helped me get a bit more rest when someone else was looking after H.

Julie (South Africa)
  1. Vaseline – smear all over bottom area as meconium (baby black poo) is very sticky & won’t come off the skin other wise
  2. Questions – ask for help, especially when first feeding. Make sure someone (you like) is with you when you first latch with baby so that you get it right from the beginning. The nurses are there to help you – use them as much as possible in the beginning
  3. Rescue remedy – takes the edge off when you don’t sleep
  4. Take the pain killers as prescribed (even if you feel you don’t need them) – particularly if you have a Caesar. You don’t want to feel that pain!!!
  5. Diary / Notebook – try to record as much as possible as you do forget (sadly)

Laura (UK)
  1. Written birth plan. You won't be able to speak.
  2. Magazines / music
  3. Small towels / large flannels you can wet and put on your back
  4. TENS machine was a good psychological prop but wasn't much use later on
  5. Good supportive husband is worth more than anything else!

What are the 5 most important things to have ready for the newborn at home?

Jodie (Australia)
  1. Panadol for 1 month (you will be surprised at how quick those first few weeks go and I gave it my girls before they were 4 wks).
  2. Vicks to rub on their singlet if they get a blocked nose
  3. stuff for reflux that you can buy over the counter ( not sure of the name though sorry)
  4. Baby thermometer (you probably already have one but the 1 second readings are great, expensive but well worth their weight in gold.
  5. Lots of flannel wraps to wrap her up snuggley after you have fed her. I used to throw them in the microwave and heat them really well because by the time you have walked back to wherever and spread them out they get cool quickly.

Shona (South Africa)
For at home, a couple of bottles, steriliser and formula (even if you are planning on breast feeding). I was breast feeding but sometimes it takes a while to get into, like with me and in the meantime I had a screaming baby that wouldn't sleep because she was hungry, so a little formula helped everyone be a little less stressed until we got into the way of things. Bear in mind that your caregivers and the hospital will probably actively discourage formula and bottles like ours did, but in the end I listened to my mum and just gave her a little formula so she wasn't hungry. It worked and I carried on breastfeeding til four and a half months.

Julie (South Africa)
  1. Somewhere to sleep close to you – you will want baby close by for the first few weeks & they’ll need to be close to you. M still sleeps next to me – he’s almost 4 months now. It’s so much easier for feeding & they need you close by in the first few weeks.
  2. 6 vests, 6 baby grows (must have poppers on legs for easy access to nappy) in newborn (or bigger if your baby is big) (forget the fancy clothes – you hardly use them, get practical everyday clothes)
  3. Don’t remove all the labels of your baby shower stuff – you may need to change stuff once baby is here when you realise what you have & actually need
  4. Telaments gripe water & colic drops – when colic starts at about 3 weeks
  5. Rescue remedy – for you at times due to lack of sleep, crying baby (for no reason – you’re still trying to figure out their cry)

Laura (UK)
  1. A cleaner coming in once or twice a week. Guests vaguely offer to help but it fizzles out after a while!
  2. An electric breast pump is worth its weight in gold.
  3. Breastfeeding pillow in a C shape was better than a V shape for me (it doesn't slip)... but everyone's different!
  4. A dummy (soother) in the cupboard. You may think you don't want to use one, but we came to the end of our tether at 3am and we wouldn't have been able to buy one at that moment. Just buy it!
  5. One of those plastic bath supports (solid, not mesh)
  6. Baby sleeping bag. Much better than blankets. We used ours from day one.
  7. Ready meals in the freezer

What have we probably not thought of or not been told?

Jodie (Australia)

And last but not least babies are very resilient and will not die sleeping on their stomachs!!! Both mine did and they turned out alright, well yes the jury is still out with M!!!

Shona (South Africa)
The third question, take any opportunity you get to sleep, your house will probably be untidy and dirty but try and ignore it and sleep. Also, start making extra food now and freeze it so at least you will have meals for yourselves for a while.

Julie (South Africa)
  1. Get the Dunstan baby video – it’s Australian. She shows you what the different baby cries mean – it’s fantastic if you can know early on what their cries mean (food, wet nappy, uncomfortable, etc). It’s accurate…..
  2. Breast feeding is hard – but persevere, it’s worth it for both of you! It takes about 2 months before you feel comfortable & you have both established a good routine. It is a long time but it does go quickly you won’t realise it.
  3. Day 3 or there about may be hard – your milk comes in, your hormones change & you may cry – even though you are happy. Just cry – it’s ok!
  4. If your milk doesn’t come in, get help early. I didn’t & Matthew got dehydrated….
  5. It’s not ok to have sore nipples – baby is latching incorrectly, so stop feeding & start again
  6. Go for physio – laser on your nipples if even just a bit too sore. You don’t want them to crack & then deal with them – too painful. Go for 4/5 treatments in a row – should sort it out.
  7. Take as many photographs & record your feelings, thoughts, development of baby – time goes quickly & you forget the details or little things
  8. Just accept / listen to all the advise you get & then do what your instinct tells you to do – it will be right. You & your baby will figure things out with time – you are both learning!
  9. When you first get home – ask your friends to give you time to get used to baby before they descend for visits. It’s wonderful to feel so loved but you need time with baby. I realised that the first week wasn’t love – you are overwhelmed by the whole experience & having your baby. It’s a wonderful time & enjoy bonding with baby & your husband.
  10. Try establish a routine as early as possible – that’s been my lifesaver.
  11. When you are home, let baby create the lead for feeding. If they sleep longer than 4 hours – let them. I did with Matthew & he was fine, particularly at night. He has always been a good sleeper at night as a result of that. I never woke him ever to feed – in spite of what everyone told me to do.

Laura (UK)
You've probably not been told all sorts of things, but that's because you would never believe it. Welcome to the Great Parenting Conspiracy!!!!!!!! Good luck and keep us posted!

Monday, 27 July 2009

Being a Mother

I've just asked all my friends who have had kids within the last decade (being 37 means that most of my peers who wanted kids have had kids...) to send me their top 5 tips for surviving the hospital and top 5 tips for coping with the newborn. I have loads of books and the internet is a great resource, but advice straight from a trusted friend is invaluable.

I'll be sharing everything they send me over the next few days, and to start here's something lovely from Laura. (I can't find the source for this, so if it is yours let me know so I can credit you)

Being a mother

We are sitting at lunch when my daughter casually mentions that she and her husband are thinking of "starting a family." "We're taking a survey," she says, half-joking. "Do you think I should have a baby?"

"It will change your life," I say, carefully keeping my tone neutral.
"I know," she says, "no more sleeping in on weekends, no more spontaneous vacations...."

But that is not what I meant at all. I look at my daughter, trying to decide what to tell her. I want her to know what she will never learn in childbirth classes. I want to tell her that the physical wounds of child bearing will heal, but that becoming a mother will leave her with an emotional wound so raw that she will forever be vulnerable. I consider warning her that she will never again read a newspaper without asking "What if that had been MY child?"

That every plane crash, every house fire will haunt her. That when she sees pictures of starving children, she will wonder if anything could be worse than watching your child die.

I look at her carefully manicured nails and stylish suit and think that no matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will reduce her to primitive level of a bear protecting her cub.

That an urgent call of "Mom!" will cause her to drop a soufflé or her best crystal without a moment's hesitation. I feel I should warn her that no matter how many years she has invested in her career, she will be professionally derailed by motherhood.

She might arrange for child care but one day she will be going into an important business meeting and she will think of her baby's sweet smell.

She will have to use every ounce of her discipline to keep her from running home, just to make sure her baby is all right.

I want my daughter to know that everyday decisions will no longer be routine. That a five year old boy's desire to go to the men's room rather than the women's at McDonald's will become a major dilemma.

That right there, in the midst of clattering trays and screaming children, issues of independence and gender identity will be weighed against the prospect that a child molester may be lurking in that rest-room.

However she may be at the office, she will second-guess herself constantly as a mother. Looking at my attractive daughter, I want to assure her that eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, but she will never feel the same about herself.

That her life, now so important, will be of less value to her once she has a child.

That she would give it up in a moment to save her offspring, but will also begin to hope for more years - not to accomplish her own dreams, but to watch her child accomplish theirs.

I want her to know that a Caesarean scar or shiny stretch marks will become badges of honour. My daughter's relationship with her husband will change, but not in the way she thinks.

I wish she could understand how much more you can love a man who is careful to powder the baby or who never hesitates to play with his child.

I think she should know that she will fall in love with him again for reasons she would now find very romantic.

I wish my daughter could sense the bond she will feel with women throughout history who have tried to stop war, prejudice and drunk driving. I hope she will understand why I can think rationally about most issues, but become temporarily insane when I discuss the threat of nuclear war to my children's future.

I want to describe to my daughter the exhilaration of seeing your child learn to ride a bike.

I want to capture for her the belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog or a cat for the first time.

I want her to taste the joy that is so real, it actually hurts.

My daughter's quizzical look makes me realize that tears have formed in my eyes.
"You'll never regret it," I finally say.
Then I reach across the table, squeeze my daughter's hand and offer a silent prayer for her, and for me, and for all of the mere mortal women who stumble their way into this most wonderful of callings.

Friday, 24 July 2009

House Renovation 2009 - Week 10

I can haz kitchen?

Ok, most of a kitchen anyway... we are still waiting for the black granite worktop which should be another week, but isn't it gorgeous! It's bigger than we envisioned and there is tons of storage. There was a mistake with the fridge cavity which is too small, but that will be rectified in a couple of days. I can't use the sink, dishwasher or oven yet, but I have been packing the cupboards and drawers and I'm very happy.

It totally changes the living space, and now we have a good feel for the lounge/dining areas.

We brought all our furniture back from storage yesterday but we can't really arrange it yet as the walls need finishing and the electrics aren't connected up. We did eat dinner at the dining table last night for the first time in months and it was fab!

This is the laundry - the tiles are down and now we need the plumbing sorted out.

Still outstanding:

  • Electrical wall sockets and light fittings. Milord has decided to get the electrician back after all. phew.

  • Plumbing (gas and water) in kitchen and laundry.

  • Painting of walls, ceiling and trim, and staining of fences and woodwork.

  • Skirtings.

  • Mozzie screens.

  • Front yard prettifying. This is coming along nicely - I have a porch! And steps!

  • Kitchen worktop and range hood.

  • Backyard tidying - our yard is a tip. Literally.

  • Baby's room. We've cleared out of this room but it is still full of boxes waiting to unload into the living room. By the weekend I should be able to start arranging things in there.

We still have no cashflow and are in debt to a number of tradesmen. Oh well. At least the place will look good when they inspect it for the mortgage advance!

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Preggy Update

Week: 32 and 4 days

I've been down with a cold for the last few days. Again. Milord has now banned me from taking the bus and drives me to work in the mornings, and either picks me up after work or I take a taxi home. Swine flu is rife in Australia, and although I don't know anyone personally who has had it, being pregnant puts me in the high-risk category and I'm not taking any chances. A couple of days ago a woman lost her 36-week-old foetus due to swine flu, and several other pregnant women from Sydney have been in intensive care because of it, so we're a bit jumpy.

That said, I didn't have flu, just a head and chest cold. After struggling to beat the last cold I had I decided to totally molly-coddle myself and spent several days hardly leaving bed. I had to sleep propped up on several pillows because my sinuses were clogged and I couldn't take anything, and a sinus headache was constantly with me for a couple of days. Not much fun.

Measurements: My weight is down a smidge and my bump is steady.

Since starting the iron supplements last week I feel much perkier (even with a cold), and a side effect of that is not craving carbs and sugar so much! I think I was trying to energy-boost myself in any way possible, so I was turning to the cookies for help. Now that I don't need them I'm back on salads which is probably why I've lost a little weight. Oh, and (TMI) if your digestion is not playing ball during your pregnancy I have one word for you: celery. I brought celery sticks to work as my mid-morning snack all last week and all systems are now clear... hmm that might also explain a slight weight loss!

Here's an annoying thing (also TMI probably) - the last time I was ill I kept peeing a little when I coughed or sneezed, so I've been really good about doing my pelvic floor exercises since then in the hope that if I got sick again I'd be able to hold back during a coughing or sneezing fit. And... I still pee - not every cough or sneeze, mind you, so I think it also depends on how the baby is lying and how constricting my clothes are in the bladder region, but I'm sad to report that the peeing, it still happens.


Saturday, 18 July 2009

Top Ten Things to Not Say or Do to a Pregnant Woman

This is totally lifted from Growing a Blueberry, because I thought she had it down perfect.

#10: Any sentence that starts with the phrases, “Are you allowed to… ?”, “Are you taking/eating ____?”, “Should you be… ?” or, if you’re a barista at Starbucks, “Was that decaf?”
Newsflash: From the second a woman finds out she is pregnant, she is inundated with a barrage of sources telling her what she can/can’t/should/shouldn’t do/eat/think/feel/want/see. She gets it from friends, relatives, doctors, television, magazines, baby sites and total strangers. I can almost guarantee you that whatever it is she is doing that you are questioning her about she is not doing with thoughtless abandon.

Unless you’re her midwife, doctor or nutritionist or she has asked for your sage wisdom on the topic, then shut it. The child is not going to come out with three heads because you didn’t tell her that you read in your friend’s copy of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” that she should eat five pounds of spinach a day. Those books, by the way, should be burned. They are full of outdated, 90’s information and scare tactics and no pregnant woman in her right mind should expect or be expected to act, eat, or think that way during pregnancy. Or any time in her life, for that matter.

As long as she’s not smoking, doing crack, or drinking a fifth of vodka a day, the baby will be fine. You, on the other hand, will not be fine if you keep insulting her intelligence by questioning everything she does.

#9: The follow-up question to “Do you know what you’re having?” should not be, “Is that want you wanted?”
No, it’s not what we wanted. We thought about trading it in for a puppy when it was born, but we figured we might as well just keep it and see how it goes.

When pressed to be totally honest, most parents-to-be have a preference for what they want(ed) the baby to be. But guess what? Most parents-to-be get over what they “want” and are thrilled to have a healthy baby of either sex. There is such a thing as a stupid question, and this is one of them.

#8: “Are your ankles that swollen from the pregnancy?”
Is your ass that big from sitting at a desk all day? Actually, my ankles aren’t swollen. They almost always look like this because I have fat legs… thank you for pointing it out. I didn’t already feel like a gigantic heifer.

There are probably multiple things about a woman that you didn’t really notice (or wouldn’t have commented on) before she got pregnant. Apparently, for some, pregnancy miraculously dissolves any sort of social propriety about remarking on physical appearance and it’s suddenly okay to make such brazen comments. If you wouldn’t bring it up when she’s NOT pregnant, don’t even dream of letting it slip past your tongue when she is. Period.

#7: Any statement that begins with, “Wow, you…
…Have gotten big? …Eat a lot now? …Must be having twins? …Look really uncomfortable/tired/sick?

Thank you, Dr. Obvious. Any other genius observations you’d like to make? Trust me, pregnant women are all too aware of how big they look, exactly how many pounds and inches they’ve gained and how pregnant they feel. Pointing it out is not a conversation-starter. This is a human being you’re talking to, not a baby machine. If you don’t know what to say, then don’t say anything at all. I’d much rather talk to a person who doesn’t even acknowledge that I’m pregnant during conversation than someone who makes the first inane observation that pops in to his or her head because they feel like they simply must say something pregnancy-related.

#6: In response to hearing about a pregnancy complaint or problem, saying, “Oh, it’s just _____.”
I’ll tell you exactly where this one comes from… a family friend of ours. He was asking me how things were going after my kidney infection absence, which landed me in the ER with early labor contractions and a subsequent week of mind-numbing pain whenever I tried to eat or drink anything. His response? “Oh, it’s just Braxton Hicks.” What… the… f@&$*%?! It took every ounce of restraint I had to not rip him a new one and drop-kick him by the nuts right out the door.

First of all, they weren’t BH contractions. Second, you’re a male so you’re automatically not allowed to speculate on pregnancy symptoms. Third, if what we were talking about was related to BH contractions, there is no such thing as “just” in relation to pregnancy. Everything affects every woman differently… what bothers one to no end will be no big deal to another. So, even if you’re a guy who has been through a pregnancy or two (or five) with your partner, or you’re a woman who has been pregnant, don’t assume that something you didn’t mind must not be a big deal, or something you didn’t experience isn’t that bad.

#5: Telling pregnancy or labor “horror” stories.
Somehow people think they’re doing pregnant women a favor by passing along what happened to their brother’s co-worker’s niece who was on bed rest from the first trimester, induced at 42 weeks, in labor for 39 hours with a failed epidural and then forced to have a c-section to deliver her 12 pound baby that landed her back in the hospital a week later for an infection. That’s like telling someone who is flying for the first time that they have a better chance of winning the lottery than surviving the trip. Why would you do that?

Fear & stress are the top causes of problems in pregnancy and birth. They are also the reasons why women are scared in to modern methods of prenatal care and “delivery” where interventions actually cause more complications than they alleviate. Instead of educating society on how normal and safe birth is, it’s more fun to pass along urban legends and traumatic tales. This is not the Discovery Channel high-risk birth show. Chances are, the Mom-to-Be will have a relatively healthy, very safe experience. There are enough natural worries that come with being pregnant and having a baby without you adding to them.

#4: Asking about birth or post-birth decisions… and then offering your (unwanted) opinion on the answer.
Breastfeeding or bottles. To circumcise or not. Natural birth or anesthesia. Cloth or disposable diapers. Home birth or hospital. There are tons of choices and very, very personal decisions to make during this time period and, as with the mother’s health-related topics, she will be inundated with information from every angle including well-intended “advice” from family, friends and perfect strangers. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t talk about these things at all. I’m saying you should be prepared for a difference in opinion and willing to accept that your advice may not always be heeded or even appreciated.

Things have changed and are changing on a constant basis with the latest trends, wellness concepts and medical studies. Barring the unlikely chance that you’re a doctor or midwife or you’ve given birth in the last few years, you’re probably behind the curve. If you feel very strongly about a certain topic and you think you really need to add your two cents, it would behoove you to research what you think you know before you go running off at the yap about it to an already overwhelmed Mom-to-Be.

#3: Everything you need to know about reacting to baby names (or lack thereof).
As I mentioned in a previous entry, there seems to be a growing trend to not share potential baby names before the birth. It’s also a trend for grown adults to whine like five-year-olds about not being in on the decision. This is a baby being born to two parents, not a moon-child being born in a commune. You don’t have a right to know. Also from the “Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” school of thought… incessant whining and bringing up the topic again and again is not going to change their minds and make them want to tell you even more.

If you’re privileged enough to be told the names, making faces or disparaging remarks at the choices is not appropriate, even if they are better suited titles for fruit, pets, or your 90-year-old great-grandmother. A better idea is to make a big deal out of how great the names are that you do like and refrain from commenting on the rest.

#2: Stating — whether implied or directly — that something a pregnant woman says or does is “just because you’re hormonal.”
This may very well be case, but if hormones are really the cause of the outburst, blog, road rage incident or crying jaunt to which you refer, is it really a good idea to further exacerbate the problem by telling her she’s hormonal? This ranks right up there with saying to a non-pregnant woman, “Geez, are you PMS’ing or something?” People who have won the Darwin Award have had better ideas than this.

Pregnancy hormones suck. The only thing worse than feeling completely out of control over the way you think, feel, and act is feeling like people expect you to be able to behave normally because they have now pointed out why you are thinking/feeling/acting this way. Even if you’re only trying to be sympathetic and understanding… don’t do it by using any derivative of the word “hormone” in a sentence for at least two hours. Your best bet is to be vewwy, vewwwy quiet and not make any sudden moves.

And the #1 thing to not do… unauthorized belly touching.
I have been poked in the stomach like the Pillsbury dough boy, rubbed as a manner of greeting – usually in conjunction with a comment on how big I’m getting, asked by acquaintances and near-strangers if they can touch (if you have to ask, the answer is “No”) and even got violated by a belly rub before I was showing at all!

Here’s the rule: If you didn’t put it there, you don’t get to touch it without permission.

Let’s talk about permission. Permission does not mean asking, “Can I touch your stomach?” while reaching towards the belly in question. Putting a pregnant woman on the spot like that is just as rude as touching without asking. Permission means the Mom-to-Be says something along the lines of, “Oh, feel this!” and places your hand on her belly. Permission is a one-time, limited offer and does not mean that touching privileges are extended beyond the present moment.

Possibly the most disturbing phenomenon to us round-bellied beauties, is the common misconception that once people know there’s a bun in the oven, the pregnant stomach is miraculously transformed to some sort of hands-on public petting zoo exhibit. How would you feel if every time you encountered someone you had to worry about them poking, pushing or prodding you in the stomach? It’s not a good feeling. If you really need to rub a belly rub your own, get someone pregnant, or get a dog.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Preggy Update

Week: 31 and 4 days

Weight: 78kg (+1kg from week 30, +6.5kg since start)
Waist: 98cm (+2cm from week 30, +13cm since start)

Holy crap- up 1kg and 2cm in one week! Slow down kiddo, we still have 8 weeks to go!

I'm starting to make a list of things I will do in approximately 2 months time. I'll be adding to this as we go along I'm sure:

  1. Sleep on my front and back. I end up on my back a few times through the night to ease my shoulders and hips, but I know I shouldn't be there so I roll onto my side as soon as things feel better. My favourite way of sleeping is on my front though, and I haven't been able to do that for a very long time... for a while I could sort of prop a hip and shoulder up on pillows and sleep mostly on my front, but the baby gets super-squirmy now if I try which totally defeats the object!

  2. Have a really hot bath

  3. Get tipsy!

  4. Go for more than an hour without weeing

  5. Roll over in my sleep without waking up. And without buffeting Milord with my body pillow!

This week I had a checkup with my doctor and he had the results of a couple of tests. I passed the Glucose Tolerance test (so I'm not diabetic), but failed the Group B Strep one (I have bacteria down below). Drat. This just means that I'll need some antibiotics during labour, so no real drama but I was hoping not to need it.

He also had news about my iron levels. I'd dropped from a pretty good iron store level to borderline anaemic! My baby girl has sucked the iron from my bones in spite of the preggy supplements I take - that's amazing. I know I haven't felt like greens or red meat during this pregnancy but I'd have thought the special vitamins would pick up the slack. He's put me on iron supplements (a special non-constipating one, yay), and here's the funny thing: I feel perkier already! Everything I read tells me I shouldn't feel different for a couple of weeks yet, but I swear I'm already a whole lot more bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Placebo effect perhaps?

I still need to be in bed by 9pm, but I no longer feel like a somnambulating baby bump during the day. Milord has his wife back - I even laughed at his jokes yesterday! The poor guy - I haven't had mood swings but I have been a washed-out version of myself for most of the year.

What else? BP good. Uterus still growing and now at 31cm. The baby moves most of the time, especially after meals. Today she is kicking me solidly in the bladder. Not. Very. Comfortable!

I'm starting to look at lists for the hospital bag and at birth plans. So far my birth plan is pretty much:
  1. No induction.

  2. Let me move around until I am ready for the

  3. Epidural!

  4. No C/S.

  5. Ignore all of the above if the baby is in danger.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

House Renovation 2009 - Week 6..8

Ok, I don't know what happened to weeks 6 and 7! Lots of work has been going on but it isn't very exciting to me - fencing, waterproofing, plastering, wiring etc.

Fence (on shitty-loud-music-neighbour's side):

Stairs to the back deck:

Last week we got home from a few days away to find our stunning Tasmanian Blue Gum hardwood floors sanded and sealed. Its a glowing blonde wood - slightly pinkish to begin with but that fades after a bit. Gorgeous.

Over the last couple of days the plasterer has been finishing off inside and today I think he'll begin tiling the laundry, and Milord is going to start painting. We'd much rather Milord was in paid employment for this half of the week (his main employer has cut him to 2 days a week), but I suppose we are "saving" a little money by DIYing where we can.

Money is an issue. We spoke to the bank about another mortgage advance and they said "Uh, didn't you just have one a little while ago? You might have to wait." So we are waiting... as are the tradesmen to whom we currently owe tens of thousands of dollars. The credit cards are starting to smoke. Hmmm.

Last week all the kitchen appliances got delivered. Look at the size of our new fridge/freezer! It's ginormous and I love it! Once it gets plumbed in we'll have constant ice and chilled water. The side-by-side doors open onto a single huge fridge area, and the bottom drawer is a sort of chest freezer with a couple of sliding sections.

Our kitchen cabinets arrive today and should get installed by the end of the week. Then we have to get the stone benchtop people out to measure and install the "granite" (fake but almost the same) benchtop.

Still outstanding:
- Electical wall sockets and light fittings. Milord has decided our electrician is too expensive and he'll do this himself.
- Plumbing (gas and water). He won't be doing this!
- Painting of walls, ceiling and trim, and staining of fences and woodwork. I can help with this provided it's not at floor-level.
- Skirtings.
- Front yard prettifying. We're going to tidy up the front porch, build steps to the porch, repair the front wall, paint the front of the house, get a doorstep and lay big cement pavers with a surround of low tough native grass. While this task is hardly essential it will totally transform the feel of the house from the street!

And finally, I spent most of the weekend in this chair in a patch of sun at the back of the living room:

It's my "breastfeeding chair", strongly recommended on most of the mommy forums - an Ikea Poang armchair. Decent back support and a slight bounce, and we got this one off ebay for $200 less than the price of a new one. Perfect!

Monday, 13 July 2009

Book Review - Blueprint by Lynnette Vaughn

I read a lot of books from the library - at least one a week. This is one I picked up because the cover was interesting.

Firstly, Lynnette, if you find this via google... I'm really sorry. I hated your book.

The premise is that Christian souls are reincarnated again and again throughout the universe until they have learned all the needed lessons. Before each incarnation the soul gets to choose their parents, location and goals - the "blueprint" - then off they go and hope for the best.

In this case the soul, Arielle, has a bunch of (way too many to keep track of) friends over for dinner (no one needs to eat, they just do it for fun and you can't get fat. But you do get hangovers. Meh) and they each get to suggest a path she could follow... and most of them decide to tag along as players. Arielle amalgamates their suggestions into one life path and picks whom of her friends will embody main characters.

Then suddenly Arielle is hustled off to get born with her blueprint unfinished, and her friends have to finalise it...

And that was it. That's the book. The whole thing was just a prologue! It took me about 2 hours to read, although I admit I went faster and faster until I was super-skimming because: I hated it. Thank heavens it was short!

I'm a bit of a pedant when it comes to spelling and grammar. Well, I say pedant... it's only pedantic when you correct your friends or husband. When reading a published novel I demand correct spelling and grammar!

(These are not verbatim quotes, just how I remember them)

Misplaced apostrophes! "you're book" (no I'm not)
Wrong word choices! "Of Irish decent" (descent)
Spelling errors! "Whoppi Goldberg" (In the same para with Whoopi spelled right)
Bad quotes! "Yes. Arielle said" (eh?)
Questions lack question marks and statements get them.

Right, so that's just spelling and grammar, which gave me a headache.

The story itself was irritating. Of course everyone is gorgeous. And witty (apparently). But for thousands-year-old souls they're a bit uninformed. They ask silly questions about religeon and reincarnation, which one would assume they'd know by now. If the characters were new souls just starting their journey I'd get it, but they are not, therefore it is a condescending device to educate the reader about the author's views. Heaven, as she writes it, sounds really dull - I'd be drinking in spite of the hangovers.

Lynette, you self-published this book didn't you? I wish you'd had the funds to hire a proofreader and an editor too. I see you are about to publish the "sequel" to this story... I will not be reading it.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Preggy Update

Week: 30 and 4 days

Less than 10 weeks to go! Woohoo the end is in sight! Milord turned to me this morning and said "Hey, you were already born by this point right?". I think so. I need one of my parents to remind me exactly how premature I was, but I do know that I was very early and very lucky to be here today.

I left these at home today, so I'll just post what I remember
Weight: 77kg (+2.5kg from week 27, +5.5kg since start)
Waist: 98cm (+3cm from week 27, +11cm since start)

Ooooh an extra 3cm on my bump in 3 weeks. Yowzer.

I am well but certain things are getting hard:
Picking anything up off the floor.
Scrubbing the bottom of the bath.
Walking up an incline - I get really puffed really quickly.
Standing for more than 5 minutes makes my feet ache.
Walking for more than 10 minutes makes my hips ache.
I can still touch my toes - but it's not easy to breathe at the same time!

Milord has been very good. Until this past weekend he hadn't realised just how much I struggle at stuff - we went for a few walks and while I was fine on the flat the moment I had to go up a hill I'd just about die! I also refused to do some rock-hopping... my balance is a bit shot and I've lost all confidence when it comes to jumping around. I feel really "precious" actually... I hope I'm not as annoying as I feel!

Hmm what else? My wedding rings are getting tight, although not all of the time. I always take them off at night so hopefully I won't get caught out when they get too tight to wear and jam on my finger!

Today the baby is kicking and squirming all in front. This tickles and sometimes makes me jump. And yes, Kat, it is very wierd and freaky and just like that scene in Alien when the creature is about to burst out of that guy's abdomen! On the one hand I'm chuffed because it means the baby is alive and kicking (ooh a pun!) but on the other it is kinda "wtf?!".

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Weekend Away - Hyams Beach

We needed to get out of our house last weekend as the new hardwood floors were being varnished. The process takes a couple of days and then you can't walk on them (or breathe) for 2 more days. So we decided to take a winter-break/baby-moon on the coast a few hours south of Sydney, in a village called Hyams Beach.

We stayed in the little blue house...

I found a little bungalow right on the beach and Milord is already talking about our next trip there with the baby! It was a lovely lazy 4 days - we read a couple of books and did a jigsaw and watched movies in between naps, gazing at the view, too much food and the occasional walk on the beach. The wind was freezing but the sun was warm, and with a heater running indoors we were very cosy.

I've been a bit jaded recently - fed up with renovations and work and the city in winter, so this trip was just what I needed to recharge a bit.

We watched the sun rise over the sea every morning from the bed, fed flocks of cheeky parrots and had a big grey kangaroo turn up to be hand-fed slices of bread.

Dolphins at dawn

This post is a bit photo-heavy, sorry ;-)

Just beautiful ;-)

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Preggy Update

Week: 29 and 4 days

Warning! Warning! Growth spurt!

76.5kg today.

Wow. Since I last posted about my pregnancy I've put on 2kg. I'd plateaued there for a few weeks so a growth spurt is ok and I'm still following the target curve for weight gain, but still. Wow.

Forgot to take any other measurements, but I'm pretty sure my belly is bigger!

I've been feeling ok and I'm sleeping a bit better. This week the baby seems to be turned inwards so she kicks me in the organs... a bit ouch but for some reason easier to sleep through than when she's kicking outward.

I did the glucose tolerence test this week - it's a standard preggy test looking for gestational diabetes. First they take a blood sample, and then hand you a cup of glucose solution. The sweet drink is not as nasty as I'd heard - it's a lot like undiluted softdrink cordial, which I used to like to sip when I was a child! Then you sit around for an hour and then they take some more blood. For this test I didn't have to fast (there is a more accurate test where you fast overnight) so I made sure I had a decent breakfast in case that would help my body metabolise the sugar! We shall see.

My doctor also took a vaginal swab looking for Group B Strep, a bacteria harmless to women but dangerous to newborns.

Plus they're going to check my iron levels as a matter of routine. I wonder if my iron is low - that would explain why I'm so tired. Although it's not a "falling-asleep-at-my-desk-tired", it's a "can't-be-arsed-to-grocery-shop-tired". Probably just "pregnancy-tired". Growing this new person is a bit draining.

Here's a shot of me at the end of the day after a huge meal... and clothes make me look bigger. Eh... who am I trying to kid? I'm huge! ('scuse the rosiness - I'd just cleansed and moisturised before bedtime)