Friday, December 30, 2011

A festive freak-out

It’s Christmas – the one day of the year everyone eats so much that we all look 31 weeks’ pregnant. Hooray!

A good week, winding down to a fortnight off from work – fantastic! It suddenly dawned on me that I will be coming back to work for a little less than a month, and that will be quite tricky I imagine.

Only because I am now starting to feel the weight of, not the world on my shoulders, but this baby girl on my girth.

Good Lord, it’s difficult getting around and the sudden effort required to do so catches you quite by surprise.

Want to vacuum the house? Awesome, not a problem. Until you get half-way through and need to sit down and get your breath back, while saying to yourself that you’ll finish the other half after you’ve had a nap.

Want to drive to work? Easy. Do it most days a week. Until you try and get the seatbelt in a comfortable position below your enormous belly, all the while wondering what the hell might go wrong if you were in an accident and that belt snapped across your abdomen.

And getting out of the car? Just give me 10 minutes to pry myself loose from the driver’s seat. Brace against steering wheel, swivel, swing legs onto ground, grunt, push upwards, grunt louder, stand upright, grimace. I feel 108.

Then my lower back twinges, or my hips go numb, and I feel 208.

I am also starting to get some practical things done, like getting the car seat fitted, packing a bag for hospital (waa!) and finally organising maternity leave through Centrelink.

Doing these things, apart from making it all so bloody real, also reinforces how momentous the change will be for our family in 2012.

Soon and within the space of about six weeks, J leaves day care after four years, starts kindy and we welcome his new baby sister into the world.

I stop work for an extended period for the first time in my life and I become the main carer of a tiny baby girl.

I discard a comfortable routine that involved supreme organisation, accomplishing a stimulating variety of duties at work, multi-tasking and basically having control over every aspect of my life for what is likely to be a chaotic mess of sleeplessness, a crying baby I fear I won’t be able to understand and patronising piles of washing.

Oh. My. God.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The real and the realest

So this is getting realer.

I think hitting 30 weeks makes it so.

That is, like, 10 weeks until go time. When it all happens. The really real part.

Say 10 weeks, and my mind is instantly hurtling on the express train to Freak Out Town.

Say two and a half months, and it sounds so far in the distance, I can’t even begin to think about hospital bags or birth plans.

And it might not even be 10 weeks, it could be eight. It could be four. It could be...NOW!


We started our five-week course of ante-natal classes this week.

There are eight couples in our group. As always, it’s the usual completely random group of people who wouldn’t normally ever end up in the same room as each other, but who have been thrown together by some miraculous clash of family planning.

And as always, the first week is a true study in the awkwardness of human social interaction.

“So, we’re going to start by going around the room and introducing ourselves,” the midwife announces in the beginning.

The groan is only slightly muffled by a general waftage of frightened politness settling over everyone in the room.

The women in each couple do the talking, telling us how many weeks they are, who their OB/GYN is and why they chose that doctor.

I am among the smaller bumps in the room and instantly find myself doing that terrible thing that is rife among parents: comparing. As much as you rail against it, you just cannot help casting a furtive glance down at your average-sized 30-week-old bump when the lady across the room from you says she is 26 weeks and is clearly ENORMOUS compared to you.

We talk about when to ring the hospital, what to pack in your bag (shit, better do that soon), what complications can happen and we watch two videos which both carry misleading soundtracks (soothing massage music, not blood-curdling screams), a misleading cast (disturbingly hairy-down-there German women in baggy jumpers) and misleading lengths (evil editing making them run for less than seven minutes: yes please!).

Can someone PLEASE produce a birthing video that is newer than 1987, can someone please NOT overlay a ridiculous audio track composed by Swami Shanda and his wailing whale orchestra and can someone please in god’s name shave these women before filming them!

And apart from an emotional weekend where I felt quite sorry for myself and longed for: silence, sleep, massages on the hour, a new spine, exquisite food, a quiet house minus a four-year-old and more sleep – all in equal measure, preferably at once, not much else of note to report this week.

I got a bit teary and snappy over the weekend, which I find is unfortunately a regular-ish occurrence as the lack of sleep catches up. In a big yucky wave.

Something tells me I better get used to that feeling...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Dog bites neurotic woman

At last, an eventful week!

Maybe it’s the journo in me, but I have felt quite bad for the two people who read this blog that I have not provided anything very exciting – or newsworthy – in this little nano-millimetre of information superhighway asphalt.

Well how does a sudden decrease in foetal movement scare and dog bite grab you? Huh?

I reckon the News of the World or any other quality News Ltd tabloid would just eat that stuff up for breakfast.

The baby has been moving like crazy every day for about three or four weeks now.

Most nights, during bouts of insomnia, I will feel her bump and bubble around under my skin.

Every day without fail after I have my mid-morning cup of tea, she will move; and if I have a particularly big lunch, or anything cold, she will continue her featherweight boxing training inside my abdomen.

They aren’t flutters or little wispy movements, they are normally pretty intense whacks that are often visible from the outside.

One day last week, it got to midday and none of this had happened.

It got to 2pm and I rang T to ask what I should do.

I had felt one, maybe two, tiny flutters down really low, but nowhere near as much movement as
she had displayed every day for the past month.

I was worried. And my mind wasn’t helping.

I rang our hospital. The midwife told me to see how I went for the next few hours and come in after work.

At 2.10pm I realised I couldn’t concentrate on work, thinking the worst about what was, or what was not, going on inside my uterus.

I left work and drove the 25 minutes up to the hospital, through torrential rain, I might add.

It was a terrible drive. I was sobbing, desperate at the anxiety of it all. Convinced there would be no heartbeat to find.

I had gathered myself by the time I arrived and thankfully found the last park in the parking lot.

I had also seen six garbage trucks on the highway on the drive up, which I was madly trying to tell myself was a good omen, as our four-year-old son is quite the garbage truck fanatic.

The same midwife I spoke to was at the desk. She efficiently put her paperwork down and immediately took me into a room before hooking me up to two transponder things, one to measure the heartbeat and the other to measure kicks.

She got another ultra-sound wand thing to locate the heartbeat.

“It might take me a while to find,” she said, fully aware of the tension in the room.

I held my breath.

There it was. A heartbeat.

And, seven seconds later, what was that?

A kick.

I was now lying down – for the first time that day – and she kicked.

Why didn’t I bloody lie down at work and save myself all this worry!

They hook you up for at least 20 minutes to chart movement and heart rates and I am pretty sure she had kicked no less than 25 times in the first three minutes.


I look like a neurotic who is plainly having a very naughty, troublesome child!

The midwife was really good and while I was certainly looking for it, was not patronising at all.

They must see that sort of stuff a lot, right?

And we both agreed, we would rather it was confirmed, one way or the other, instead of wondering, all the while consumed with rising panic.

“So what do I do next time, to save me coming up here every week freaking out (in case it happens again),” I asked, thinking that actually it would be kind of nice to have an informal weekly appointment with the heartbeat monitor. Are they available to purchase for home use??

The midwife just told me to watch for an entire day and if there was no movement into the night, definitely call again and come on up. Good lord, what a fright.

Of course, in context of losing a baby last year, this sort of thing is reasonable and to be expected. But bloody hell it frightens the life right out of you at the time.

As for the damn dog bite, and ensuing tetanus shot... we have had a certain breed of dog my entire life. Growing up, we had three Miniature Schnauzers, adorable things.

We plan on getting one - look at that face: wouldn't you? -when the baby is about one and not on the floor crawling. I happened to drive past an old man walking a beautiful one on my way home from work one evening.

I pulled into a side street and walked back to him to ask if he got the dog locally.

I should have seen the crazy glint in that dog’s eye from the beginning. She startled as soon as I came into view and looked on edge immediately. But she was on a lead and he held onto her while we chatted for about 10 minutes about the breed, where he got her and previous Schnauzers we had both had.

Clearly, I was no threat to her master. So I asked if I could pat her. Stupidly, I did not wait for the answer and just bent down to offer the back of my hand for her to sniff.

That movement coincided with him saying “Ah well now, I would be a bit careful about doing that” and BANG! She sniffed and then immediately nipped at my knuckles, prompting a small circular bruise and three puncture marks to show up on the skin at once.

Yep, puncture marks. No blood, but puncture marks. Great. This was going to mean tetanus.

I scurried off after the old man offered a belated and half-hearted apology and called a health advice info line when I got home. The RN on the line advised me to go to emergency within four hours and that tetanus was a Category A drug, and therefore completely safe in pregnancy.

So, with no real time to Google – and I am thankful now for that blessing – T and I took ourselves off to the local hospital. We went in at 7pm and came out at 7.25pm, which must be a new record for an emergency department. Me with a makeshift bandaid covering the day’s fourth puncture mark, this one from a tetanus needle and T with the car keys to drive the patient home.

I asked the doctor, who was American and looked to be about 11, four times if tetanus was safe. On each occasion he said yes. It was only a really minor bite, but we all thought it would be better to be safe than sorry.

Mum asked later if the baby was now immunised and I have no idea. Is she?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

It's the same old song...

Well, groovers, we are going to go way back to 1965 for the soundtrack to this blog post and hit you with one of that era’s classics.

Here is The Four Tops singing It’s The Same Old Song.

Ok so upon reading the actual lyrics of that song, I see that it is actually about a girl leaving a guy and leaving him with nothing but their favourite song. At least it wasn’t a medical condition that required topical cream and a course of antibiotics.

The song doesn’t, in fact, have that much to do with an Australian woman who is seven months pregnant, trying in vain to come up with new topics for her weekly blog and being quite surprised that she is feeling so consistently well...hence the sameness of the song she is merrily singing in her head.

Not that there is a song about pregnancy that I am singing per se, and no one wants to hear me sing, but...oh, Nirvana’s second studio album.

Oh, how I wish I could complain and make these posts interesting! Haha.

I feel freaking fantastic and even moreso with lots of people telling me that. Such reinforcement.

I feel like Nigella Lawson. I am huge, but people are loving it and flattering my fattening left, right and centre!

Sure I am tired, almost like the first trimester, and sure I have a sore back...but who cares when people are paying you compliments?

I saw the midwife today – I am seeing my doc, a midwife or hospital nurse every fortnight from here on in.

The heartbeat was 146, the lowest so far, but perfectly fine; and my blood pressure was 110 over 70 (just in case you were thinking of asking).

She said the tightening I had been feeling may be Braxton Hicks (what?), and I just thought they were the baby pushing her little body out against my belly.

I had three things to ask her. The first was my quite irrational fear of the bay being choked by the umbilical cord.

She moves a lot and for the first 10 seconds, I smile. I love it. Then that bloody annoying receptor in my brain goes haywire: she’s moving a lot, therefore the chances of her getting tangled are greater. Quick, worry, panic!

The midwife, of course, could not completely reassure me. Yes it happens, no she hasn’t seen it happen, unless in actual labour, at which point monitoring would pick it up.

Clearly, I just have to deal with that and try not to waste so much time worrying about it.

Secondly I asked about whooping cough. Apparently where I live in Queensland, whooping cough is “rife”, she said. Weirdly enough, it is also a region with one of the lowest rates of whooping cough immunisation.

T and I have been talking about quarantining our baby for the first six weeks. We are asking family who will be visiting to get immunised and now trying to deal with what we will do if neighbours or others randomly pop in during those first six weeks.

Clearly, after today, I am not taking any chances. You want to see the baby and you aren’t immunised? I will hold her up at the front window. Otherwise, it’s not long to wait.

I am guessing those six weeks will be a complete and utter blur anyway, so I am not going to be desperate to take her shopping on day five anyway.

And the third question was about the Vitamin K and Hepatitis B vaccines they ask parents for permission to give newborns in hospital. I am pretty sure J had Vitamin K, but the Hep B was a new one.

Part of me does worry about putting these things in a pure, new body, but a greater part of me worries more about the alternative of not doing it.

So we have agreed to tick yes to both.