Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Week 39: The eagle has landed

I've had the baby!

I started to lose bits of my mucus plug – a jelly like clot which seals the cervix to prevent infection of the womb during pregnancy – on Monday 21 June. This was one of the first signs of labour. By Wednesday, braving mild contractions, I was at the supermarket stocking up the fridge and picking up bags of cotton wool balls and a baby bath. Paracetamol worked to keep the pain at bay until the evening where the pain had gotten so bad that I had to sit in a hot bath through the night to relieve the agony.

The midwife came to see me at 7am on Thursday and sent me on my hospital as I was already 4cm dilated. I was really pleased things were moving along so quickly. However, they soon discovered my temperature was high and climbing despite being given paracetamol to lower it. Suspecting I had an infection of some kind, I was then put on an antibiotics drip.

For hours afterwards the fever persisted and the cervix showed no further signs of effacement although my waters were broken and I was given a drug to induce labour.

I had progressed so little by 11pm and with my fever, the doctors felt it was necessary to perform an urgent c-section to deliver the baby. The baby’s head was still not in the birth canal and he had pooed in the amniotic sac, which suggested foetal distress. It was a disappointing outcome for me as I had hoped to have a relatively drug-free natural birth as far as possible (I ended up having two epidurals [one didn't work] and a cocktail of other drugs).

I was first catheterised as I hadn’t manage to go to the toilet for hours. As the nurses and anesthetists prepared me for theatre, I felt cold and nauseous. On top of my epidural, I was also given a spinal block to numb my lower body and morphine for the pain. I had tubes inserted into veins in both my hands to pump in an endless stream of drugs. Shivering uncontrollably on the operating table because of the effects of the drugs, I begged the staff through chattering teeth to give me a blanket to warm me up, which they very kindly did.

After 11 hours of being in labour, Bean arrived on Friday 25 June, weighing 6lb 13oz (3.11kg) at 00.28, four minutes after the first incision was made. I remember it was so quiet when he was born and I wondered why he hadn’t cried. Then I heard R whisper, “Oh shit!” and I started having horrible visions that it could have been too late. I was told he was grey and floppy when he came out but he quickly pinked up after the pediatrician cleared his airways and gave him a good rub.

The operation took less than an hour from start to finish and although I was awake throughout the whole process, I was terribly dazed and lifeless. I remember turning my head around to see R in theatre scrubs and holding our son but I didn’t feel anything or get emotional like I always thought I would. I just laid there feeling so weak, tired and helpless.

When they finally wheeled me back to the room so the baby can be checked over by the midwife, I saw R and my mother caressing him while he laid under a heated lamp. That was when I burst into tears. I was just so relieved it was all over and I finally have a baby boy.

We both stayed in hospital for three nights. The doctors wanted to make sure my wound was healing well and that my temperature was back to normal while the midwives wanted to know I was competent enough to breastfeed the baby before we went home. The first day was especially difficult because I was still attached to the urine bag and a drip which meant I couldn’t feed or change him. Plus I felt so sore I had trouble getting out of bed unassisted and walking around. But then things got easier after the tubes and catheter were removed.

Back home, I still needed help with personal care such as showering and getting in and out of bed. I was also feeling quite blue because I was still harping on the fact that I didn’t manage to have a natural birth. This, coupled with learning to cope with a new baby, has led to a stressful week peppered with tears. But now as we progressed into the second week, I have recovered well enough to be as mobile and independent as I used to be and we are getting a better understanding of the baby’s habits and temperament. I am also starting to put the disappointing birth experience behind me and instead enjoy being Mum to a floppy red lump who loves milk, hates being naked and farts loudly.

It’s such hard work – I am typing this at 11pm, after spending the whole evening trying to feed and settle him without much luck till now. But at least when I turn out the light later, I can comfortably lay flat on my back, not worry about having to go to the loo a million times during the night, toss and turn around in bed with ease, no longer need four pillows to prop me up, and slip into relaxed, deep sleep… until the snuffling, whining and crying begins.


To those of you who have come to see us and sent us presents and cards, thank you very much! To our friends who are thinking of buying the baby a gift, we would like to request that you make a donation of any amount, to Save the Children UK instead, because Bean is already a blessed baby who has access to lots of milk and clean clothes, so we would really like to do something for the many other children in the world who aren't as lucky. Greeting cards however, are more than welcome.

Click here to donate. Thank you!

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Week 38: Bean's grandma arrives!

We had a really BUSY week getting everything ready for my Mum who arrived yesterday.

  • Assembled TV cabinet
  • Patched little hole in bathroom
  • Tidied store room
  • Washed car
  • Washed Mum's bedsheets
  • Painted and touched up walls and ceilings
  • Bought and put on new car seat covers
  • Swim
  • Tidied sideboard in the living room
  • Supervised window cleaning
  • Last few touch-ups in Mum's room
  • Cleaned bathrooms
  • Went to Chinese supermarket to get vegetables
  • Put up photos around the house
  • Tidied front garden
  • Swim
  • Antenatal check-up
  • Pedicure
  • Swim
I really went into a mad frenzy this week to get all the tasks completed despite the fact I was so exhausted each day. Could that have been a terrible case of nesting? Was it a sign that labour is imminent? Having finally finished all the decorating, cleaning and tidying, I now have no worries about the house being not ready for Bean. The fear of delivery aside, I do feel I am ready for this baby whenever he wants to come.

But I think it may be a while yet. At my check-up on Friday, the midwife told me his head is 60% engaged in the pelvis. Who is to know how long he will take to move down completely? It could take days or weeks! Anyway, the important thing is he is in the right position to enter the world and this week I have just been feeling so nervous and worried about how MUCH our lives are going to change forever with the arrival of Bean. Will I be able to cope?

My mother arrived yesterday morning and that is another reason why I feel more relaxed about the idea of having the baby. Previously I was so worried that he might decide to come before his Grandma gets here, which would make things very tricky.

My mother brought LOADS of dried food goods to make confinement food for me - red dates, longans, peanuts, cashew nuts etc. She also bought me bags and bags of special herbs for baths, plenty of gifts and red packets from friends and family. The girls bought me a beautiful Juicy baby changing bag which they dropped off at my place but unfortunately my Mum's luggage was already bursting so she couldn't bring it with her. Still, we'll be back very soon so I'll be able to use it then!

Oh, speaking of gifts - if you are thinking of getting Bean something, please resist yourself. Just like what we did for our wedding, we'll be requesting that you make a donation instead of buying us presents, not because we don't appreciate your generousity and kindness but simply because Bean is such a blessed little boy and already has received SO MUCH STUFF that he will outgrow them before he'll get a chance to wear or use them. I'll post a separate entry on this soon.

In the meantime, since Bean is determined to stay in my belly for some time yet, it'd give us time to take my Mum around the neighbourhood and the city, perhaps drive to a few scenic spots and do a few touristy things before we'll all get confined at home very soon!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Week 37: The wait commences

Hurrah! Despite all my fears and tears, Bean is now a full-term baby and has a very good chance of survival if he is born any minute now, except I don't think he's ready to meet the world yet.

I had my antenatal check on Monday and although Bean has been head down for several weeks now, his head hasn't fully descended into my pelvis which mean it could be sometime before he comes. But having said that, he has been slowly dropping downward because I am carrying him lower and I no longer feel him pressing against my stomach. Because of this, my heartburn and indigestion problems have resolved and I am also able to eat more than usual.

I have been having Braxton-Hicks or false contractions at least once a day now. It is usually brought on by having a full bladder. When that happens, my whole belly becomes very very tensed, bloated and tight like a football for a few minutes. It is not painful but it can be somewhat uncomfortable. But they are good, because they can help to "ripen" or soften the cervix to prepare for the birth.

This week I have finally finished packing my hospital bag! I have also finished writing my birth plan - essentially listing down my wishes and preferences during labour and delivery. E.g. I am definitely aiming for a natural vaginal birth in water. I don't really want an epidural unless absolutely necessary because I want to be able to feel the contractions and push accordingly. I'd like the baby to be handed to me immediately before being cleaned up, etc.

We spent Tuesday morning putting together a motorised cradle swing which R bought a long while back. It can rock the baby sideways as well as to and fro, plays music and has lights and rotating hanging mobiles. I think it's a piece of overpriced item for a little baby but the user reviews were very good, which led to R buying it on crazy impulse. Anyway, only time will tell if it really is worth the pinch.

My mother will be here next Saturday so we have been in a sort of mad panic this week to get everything sorted. So far we have:
  • Installed cable TV
  • Ordered a new TV so the one we have now can go into her bedroom
  • Tidied the front garden and planted lots of colourful flowers
  • Arranged for cleaners to wash the windows and gutters of the house next week
  • Tidied the book shelves, wardrobe and cupboard
  • Bought and laundered new towels for Mum
With the majority of the chores being completed (oh yes I also got my hair done - cut and coloured - because I know I won't have time to do that when Bean comes), I now feel I am ready to have the baby so I hope he won't make me wait too long!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Week 36: Swimming, Driving, DVT

I can't believe I have only been on maternity leave for a week. It feels longer than that probably because I have been so busy this week.

First of all, we finally bought a car! Okay, it's really a piece of scrap metal if you like - a 15-year-old manual Renault with no power steering which cost us just £200. It'd do for now until we decide if we do want to keep a car in the long run and if we do, we'll look for a better one, and I say definitely an automatic with power steering because turning the bloody wheel of this old banger really leaves me breathless!

So this week I have been attempting to get acquainted with the car and driving again. Having not been behind the wheel for over 4 years, I discovered I have forgotten a lot of it and lost most of my confidence as a result. And thus so far I have only managed to take the car out of the parking lot, put it back in, take it down a dirt road across my house and park it again. It's pathetic I know, but I'd rather take my own time to practise and get myself familiar and at ease with controlling the vehicle before taking it out onto the main road. It's slow, but it is progress of some kind.

I've also started to go to the local indoor pool just 3 minutes away from where I live. It is open to the public from around 3pm-6pm. Normally I go there to use the gym after work but now that I am free most afternoons, I decided I should go for a daily swim instead.

Swimming is great because the water provides temporary support and relief for the extra weight around the belly. I feel a lot more mobile in the pool and really enjoy being able to keep exercising in such a fun way.

I have been keeping active throughout the pregnancy not only because it is good to stay mobile but also because I am particularly conscious I am being more at risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or a blood clot in the leg in pregnancy. Pregnant women tend to be more inactive and because their blood become thicker naturally to prevent excessive blood loss in childbirth, they are more susceptible to developing DVT.

Earlier this week I discovered that my left ankle was getting more swollen than the right so R took my urine sample to test for protein, which, coupled with high blood pressure, could be a symptom of pre-eclampsia, which is caused by a fault with the placenta. Mothers with pre-eclampsia often have premature babies or need medical intervention to deliver them.

R found a trace amount of protein in my urine so he wanted me to go to the GP to check my blood pressure to be sure. My BP was fine but the doctor was quite concerned about my swollen leg and the fact that it only affected my left ankle and calf. My right leg was perfectly fine.

Although I didn't display the usual textbook symptoms of DVT (i.e. redness, pain, tenderness), he sent me to A&E to get my leg properly checked in case it was a blood clot. So I headed to A&E, waited around for an hour and a half, got seen by a doctor who booked me in for an urgent scan the next morning and in the meantime gave me a blood thinning jab just in case.

In the end nothing showed up in the scan so it must be the warm weather, tight stockings, excessive walking that caused the swelling. And in any case, many pregnant women develop swelling in their ankles and legs during the last trimester simply because there is a higher volume of blood and fluid in their bodies.

Ah well, bit of a waste of time really but at least it's now confirmed there is nothing to worry about. Apart from all the drama this week, I also have finally gotten down to washing ALL of Bean's clothes! They are all fresh and folded in the drawers, his bedding has been laundered and laid out, and I have almost finished packing my hospital bag.

All we need now is the baby.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Week 35: Insomnia, maternity leave, piles

I had a really good cry today because I am just too tired and frustrated. For over a month now I haven't been able to get a decent's night sleep, mainly because having a large womb pressing down on me really leaves me so uncomfortable in bed and nothing I do seem to help. I wake to go to the toilet so many times a night and once I am up I find it hard to fall asleep again. That's why in the day I sometimes feel really tired and grumpy and today I just felt I had enough and I had to let it all out.

I let myself wallow in self-pity for a while because I think I needed to release all my pent-up frustrations. Walking and getting around is getting really difficult now that my belly is so heavy. While I used to be able to shop non-stop for a good few hours in town, I now need to find somewhere to sit down every so often because it hurts my back to stand for so long.

I am also finding myself increasingly unappealing - my body is out of shape, I am bulky and clumsy, my nipples are so huge and dark, I am so fat. Plus I've also developed pregnancy piles which I was told would get worse right after childbirth because of the pushing and straining. Lovely! No wonder I feel grumpy and miserable.

I think it has come to a point where I am really looking forward to giving birth not just because I want to meet Bean but also because I desperately want to get rid of this bulging tension around what used to be my waist. I long for the day to come where I can once again lie on my belly and opening cupboards or doors without banging myself in the tummy.

Friday was my last day at work. I'll now be off till January 2011 and I have been waiting so long for my maternity leave to start. Now that it has, I am feeling a real sense of relief and freedom because I now have all the time in the world to finish up the last bits that need doing around the house.

Other updates this week include:
  • We didn't manage to buy a car in the end because the seller turned out to be a scumbag who probably sold it to someone else who was willing to pay more. He never bothered to get in touch with us to say the deal was off. So the quest is still on for a car.
  • H came down to stay with us over the weekend. We put her in the newly furnished guest room and she said she had a really comfortable stay. There was one day she didn't get up till noon!
  • I finally got someone to frame the four oil paintings we bought in Hanoi and they now hang in various rooms.
  • The dining room is ready! We moved our dining table and chairs in on Friday and shifted some furniture around in the room. It still looks a bit bare but it's a real good start!

Monday, 24 May 2010

No regrets

Unless you are filthy rich, there is really no "good time" to have kids. There are always bills to be paid, a bit of renovation which needs to be done, new interesting world destinations you have yet to explore, that dream job you've always wanted to have, that "something" you have to do before you get too old, the freedom you find hard to sacrifice. And so, for many people, procreation gets right down to the bottom of their massive "to-do" list.

While I have always been certain I wanted children, I too got caught up in the "Now's not the time to get pregnant because I haven't done this yet!" dilemma. Until of course, my husband decided for me that "I don't know what you are waiting for, let's just do it." I doubted his fertility since he's much older and really did not for a moment believe we could get lucky so quickly. Even my crazy Fizzy Cola and meat cravings early on did not once raise my suspicions that I could be pregnant.

I wouldn't say the pregnancy was unplanned, but by the same token, I don't know if I should say it was planned? One thing's for sure - I definitely didn't feel ready for a baby when I fell pregnant. My husband just decided to "go with the flow" (no pun intended) and see what happens. In the end Bean was what happened and now 8 months down the line, we've got a proper strong wriggler stuck in my belly.

And somehow, though I don't know how, we even managed to see beyond the worries we initially had (finances, childcare, responsibilities, lifestyle adjustments), find a way to deal with them and look forward to a new journey ahead.

Bean has made us grow up quickly, to think of us not as a couple but now us as a family, to be prepared to make major changes and sacrifices to our lives. For instance, my body is and will never be the same after childbirth I suspect. I now have horrible black huge nipples, pregnancy piles, and skin darkening around my groin and inner thighs. Whether or not I will get my pre-pregnancy body back, I don't know.

Yet despite all this, I cannot imagine not having children, or not being able to be a mother. It's only now that I've realised that having kids is actually a big deal for me, much more than carving a career or being a corporate high-flier. I would even be content to be a full-time stay-home mum. Because I believe that any woman can be good at their job but a truly successful woman is one who brings her kids up right.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Week 34: Hospital, Paint, Marmite

I took 3 days off work this week to go to my hospital appointment on Monday, do bits around the house on Tuesday and attend the last antenatal workshop (3-day course) on Thursday.

Because of my underactive thyroid, I have been placed under consultant care during my pregnancy (which means I will be monitored by an obstetrician in the hospital on top of getting regular check-ups by the midwives at my local clinic). Frankly I don't think I need to be seen by a consultant because my GP can easily monitor my condition and adjust my dosage accordingly, but that's just the way things are.

So the obstetrician ordered another blood test and scheduled an appointment to see me in 2 weeks just to look at my blood results. I think it's a waste of time when I can just pop into my GP surgery across the road so I voiced my opinion but he was insistent I should be given a last check-up before I pop. Okay then, if you insist, I thought.

But the good thing that came out of the visit was he agreed I can be placed under home assessment when I start labour. This means that I can stay at home and be monitored by midwives at home when I start to feel the contractions rather than having to be admitted immediately like women placed under consultant care. Goodness only knows how long the latent phase of labour will last (could be days!) and I would rather be kept comfortable in my own house until I am actively labouring (contractions 5 minutes apart, cervix 4cm dilated) and should be heading to the hospital.

Anyway, on Tuesday, we touched up some grubby spots on the walls and ceilings of the house with white paint and also applied oil varnish on two new wooden kitchen trolleys. Perhaps it was the paint fumes which got to me but by the end of the day I was so drowsy and listless it made me feel horrible!

On Thursday we attended the last antenatal workshop in a series of three organised by the National Childbirth Trust. By some strange coincidence, out of the 8 people or 4 couples who attended the course, half work in hospitals. There was a pharmacist, anesthetist, doctor and R the nurse. Hey, they form a medical team!

I enjoyed the last part of the day where we got to bathe a plastic baby. It was fully dressed and had a nappy on as well. We were encouraged to handle it like we would handle a real baby- we were even told to wrap it up in a towel after undressing it so it wouldn't be cold.

When we were changing its diaper, we discovered our baby had marmite smeared all over its genitals (it had done a poop!) so we had to clean that up the best we could before bathing it in the small tub. R did quite a good job with changing his nappy and washing him so I think I shall delegate this task to him and concentrate on being a milk machine.

Other major updates this week:
  • Damn all those cakes, chocolates and ice-creams I have been stuffing myself with - I have put on another kilo so my total pregnancy weight gain is now 7kg. I am a fatty! Aaarrgh!
  • We bought a car! An old Vauxhall Astra Automatic because I am so hopeless with gears! I have to get over my fear of driving and start getting on the road again.
  • We also got a builder in earlier this week to dig up and re-lay the concrete slabs we have in the back garden because they were all warped and uneven. That's another £400 out of the bank but at least it looks a lot neater now.
  • I still sleep poorly, need to wee frequently (it's not fun rushing to the toilet thinking you have a full bladder but only weeing a tiny amount), and suffer from groin pain.
  • Bean has grown to the point where it now hurts when his head pushes down onto my cervix and his legs kicks around my stomach and ribs. He is the most active at dinner time and sleeps usually through the night and wakes up at around 9am. He's a good boy.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Week 33: Knackered!

On Sunday evening I did something which was so unlike me. I napped. I slept from 6-8pm. Normally I don't take naps because I find that it affects my sleep at night, and even though lots of pregnant women find that snoozing really helps to get them through the day, I have never needed an afternoon kip, until this week.

It has been a busy week. On top of work, I juggled other activities such as attending antenatal classes, supervising wallpapering and travelling a long way to Kent to attend M's wedding over the weekend.

It was wonderful to be a part of M's big day and I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend of catching up with friends but I think the 6-hour journey by public transport to the wedding location on Saturday and then the 4-hour ride back home in our friend's car on Sunday really took it out of me. Especially at this stage of my pregnancy where I am really now finding it a struggle to be mobile.

Somehow, Bean seemed to have dramatically increased in size over a matter of days. R has to hug me from the side where we are standing perpendicular to each other so my bump doesn't get in the way. On some days my groin would hurt so bad that just walking to the corner shop seemed too much for me. I am suddenly finding my bump so big and heavy to carry around.

With him pressing down on my pelvis, I am getting up at least three times a night to wee. Because my belly is now so big, tossing and turning in bed really takes some effort, not to mention that if on top of this he gets restless and decides to kick, punch or squirm, it would then be impossible to really get a decent night's rest. I have on some nights woken up at 4am and could not get back to sleep. Why? I don't know. I guess that is why I get so tired in the day.

Like they say, this could be nature's way of preparing the mother for when the baby arrives and demands milk throughout the night. This last leg of the race is especially difficult to run and now I just can't wait to experience the instant physical relief childbirth will bring.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Week 32: Growth spurt!

We went to see the midwife on Friday for the routine check-up and she said, "Oh my, you've definitely had a growth spurt!" Really? I thought. I don't feel I have grown that much. But still, I've posted some pictures so you can be the judge.

I have put on another kilogram, so that means I my total pregnancy weight gain so far is 6 kg. My uterus has definitely grown. A month ago my fundal height (length from top of uterus to top of pubic bone) was 28cm and it is now 31.5cm.

There was a male paramedic in the clinic who was doing some training with the midwife since they sometimes have to deliver babies. The midwife asked if it was okay for him to feel my bump and I said yes. So they prodded my belly and the midwife said Bean's head was down below although he hasn't yet engaged (that means the widest part of his head hasn't yet moved into the pelvis). Apparently once that happens, I will feel a sense of relief around my lungs and stomach but increased pressure in my bladder.

Everything else seems fine during the check-up but since I am now very close to giving birth, I will be seeing the midwife every 2 weeks.

I'm pretty proud of ourselves this week because we have been very productive around the house. On Thursday we went to IKEA (yes again, please god let this be the last time!) to pick up another six items of furniture. We put them all of these together within three days and have also gotten a proper dining table set, organised someone to do the wallpapering in the dining room and a builder to re-do the paving in the garden. Even though we are accomplishing lots, there is still so much to do before Bean arrives. Aaargh! I'm really hoping he doesn't come early.

My cold is almost completely gone but I don't feel I am getting as much sleep as I should because frankly there is little I can do to get comfortable in bed with a watermelon belly. Thankfully I can work from home on some days, take more days of annual leave and just ride it out to the best I can till I start my maternity leave at the end of the month. I do really feel I am now all ready to put work aside and be a full-time mum.

This week also, R and I went to visit K and her beautiful 2-week old baby boy. He's a real sweet-natured and well-behaved baby and I am just so chuffed for his parents! Looking at him just makes me want to be able to hold Bean in my arms as soon as possible!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Determined to be happy

Most people tell me I look well and are even surprised that I appear bubbly and happy. I wonder why they seem surprised. Is it because it's more common to see pregnant mums who look tired waddling around with their huge bumps, spotty skin and greasy hair? 

I remember I used to have an ex-colleague just like that. She was SO grumpy when she was pregnant and I would feel so apologetic whenever I had to ask her to do something. She would get out of her chair with such annoyance and effort and waddle slowly to do the task. She never did her job with a smile. I used to be so overcome with guilt that I would buy her bars of chocolate afterwards to thank her for helping me, even though she was actually just doing her job. 

This happened a few years back but the image of this grumpy mother-to-be is still vividly ingrained in my brain. So when I got pregnant, I decided that a)I am going to make sure I look bloody good and b)I am not going to be grumpy and "immobile". 

Personally,  I think it's important to look good, because chances are you'd probably be feeling a little low about your self-image when you are pregnant. You know, putting on weight, skin may be oilier, boobs out of shape, waddling like a duck etc. And I've always found that if I make an effort to look nice, I often feel a lot better about myself. So even though I have only got a few maternity dresses to play around with, I try my very best to come up with different looks everyday, even if it means just putting on a different coloured cardigan. 

As far as possible, I make sure I am happy everyday. It was difficult initially because my mother-in-law was very ill and then we hit a rough patch when she passed away, but I really tried to free my mind from negative thoughts and energies and focus on being happy and carefree. 

It helps to have a supportive husband and being in a relatively stressless workplace with a great boss and nice colleagues. Although it feels special to have people fussing over me (like my colleagues won't even let me get up from my chair to get the doorbell!), I think contrary to the belief that one should "take things easy", pregnant women can and should still do quite a lot of things as per normal. 

Like, I can still move and carry things, as long as they are not too heavy and I do it slowly. Hell if I had children before this pregnancy I expect I would be carrying them around now. Like, I can still walk and take public transport, in fact walking is beneficial for the pregnancy, as long as you don't overdo it. Like, I can still crawl under my desk to look for that darn bottle cap I dropped when unscrewing my water. 

The only thing I won't and can't do now is to run for the bus or train, simply because I would look ridiculous and if I fell I may cause damage not only to myself but also to Bean. 

I just think that it's important to maintain a relaxed mood because your baby can experience your emotions through chemicals in your blood. And really the last thing I want is a grumpy baby who is hard to please. Of course I won't know if there is any truth to my theory until Bean arrives but I just feel it's a blessing to be able to have children and I want to be able to look back at my pregnancy and remember how much I have enjoyed it. 

Monday, 3 May 2010

Week 31: The nursery is ready!

It took us the whole of April, but I am happy to now say that our baby room is finally ready!

Painting the room took the longest time because we put three coats on and had to spend time touching up bits here and there. We have a relatively new pine chest of drawers and bedside table which were my mother-in-law's and we are reusing them in Bean's room. Then we went to IKEA to get the cot bed. It was a pretty straightforward job putting it together and we only took about an hour.

I took two afternoons off this week to put the safari wall stickers up and to go into town to get Bean's laundry basket, bin, nursing pads, maternity sanitary towels and some other items we need around the house. I also ordered some soothing CDs online which I hope would lull him to sleep and in addition I got a cute wooden panel of hooks to be fixed behind his bedroom door for his clothes. The lovely bunting from Sarah's Loft came on Saturday and she told me she'd made me special ones because I'd written that it would be for my baby's room. That was very thoughtful of her.

In the coming weeks I need to properly launder his clothes and bedding as well as pack my hospital bag. It's not long to go now and I keep having this fear that he might come early and I haven't gotten anything ready.

I'm also experiencing quite a lot of groin pain and lower abdominal tenderness which I believe is due to the pressure from the growing bump as well as the baby pushing downwards. Bean is getting stronger and his kicks can now cause discomfort even though my bump is still very compact at this point. Most people would think I am only 6 months gone.

This week, while I am very satisfied with the progress we have made with Bean's room, I have unfortunately caught a cold which is leaving me quite tired because I can't get much sleep at night with my congested nose.

Honestly at this point in time I can't wait to finish work (another 3 more weeks) because all I can think of now is getting the house ready for Bean and my Mum!

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Week 30: I love being pregnant!

Okay I know I sound a bit Jekyll & Hyde here because I have moaned in so many other posts about feeling miserable in pregnancy. BUT! This week has been really brilliant. I feel great, I have a good appetite, I am sleeping really well, I feel strangely more agile, I am positive and Bean is kicking lots. 

I would lie down and watch my whole belly wobble as he moves about. He is like a little Loch Ness monster. His body parts would occasionally push or grind hard against my abdominal wall so I can feel the growing tension and touch his little hard foot or head or hand. Then he submerges deep into the womb and the surface of my belly becomes soft again. It's really fun for me and R, although R does find touching the "hard, stony" bits of him a bit weird and somewhat gross. 

We attended an all-day antenatal workshop at the hospital yesterday. It was delivered by one of the midwives in the labour ward and I thought she did an excellent presentation. We talked through the labour and delivery process, pain relief options, breastfeeding and the best part was getting a tour of the labour ward and watching them wash a 24-hour old baby. Oh yes, we also learnt about poo colours. It should start off black like tar or Marmite, then become orangey and then dark yellow. Lovely! 

Because the midwife was so good at explaining what to expect and what we should do when we are in labour, I am feeling a lot more confident and mentally prepared for it. I found the explanation of how the cervix would open during birth particularly helpful because before that, although I knew you are supposed to dilate to 10cm before you should push your baby out, I didn't know what that really means. 

Basically, with each contraction, the uterine muscles shorten, which gradually pulls back the cervix so it will eventually fit over the head of the baby. It's a bit like putting on a turtleneck jumper. It will stretch so that your head can go through the hole. There is no point pushing when the hole is not wide enough because the baby will not go through and you will just tire yourself out. 

Knowledge rocks!

On Monday, we went to IKEA and got a carful of items for the house. We got a cot bed which Bean can sleep in till he's at least four, two wooden kitchen trolleys so we can move the dining table and chairs into the new dining room. 

And today we spent the whole day building everything. I'm pleased to announce that the nursery is looking fabulous! I just need to put up my cartoon wall decals and cotton bunting! Once I've done that I'll take some pictures and post them here. 

Oh! Another thing which really made my week was finding out that K has had her baby boy on Thursday. She had quite a straightforward delivery in the birthing pool with minimum pain relief and I am so over the moon for her. 

I'm a happy mummy this week!

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Week 29: Vomiting, heartburn, hairy baby, Yong Tau Foo

This week wasn't exactly great. It started out okay though, until Wednesday lunchtime. I was working from home so I had a sandwich and a couple of chicken wings. Shortly after that I felt  sharp pain in my gut so I knew it was a heartburn attack. 

I quickly downed Gaviscon but that didn't help so there I was as usual, groaning, hyperventilating, twisted in agony. I took a stronger tablet to in an attempt to control the stomach acid and also drank some peppermint tea which eventually did help to knock back the pain. But it was still there in the background right till dinnertime. 

For dinner, I made some pasta and forced myself to eat a small bowlful because sometimes a bit of food can help to improve the situation. I also drank fizzy water and 7-up because the carbon dioxide usually works at neutralising the acid. But the pain continued to bedtime and I laid awake through the night rubbing my stomach. Nothing seemed to have helped. 

I made and drank more peppermint tea but in my terrible state knocked the mug onto the carpet. This of course woke R and he helped to clean up the mess and offered to get me more Gaviscon. The moment I downed it I felt an urgent need to be sick. I tried to fight the feeling but I was salivating and I could feel it coming up my throat. Thankfully I made it to the toilet where I vomited twice.

Being a nurse, R remained calm and went to get me a glass of water to rinse out my mouth. I kept telling him to go away as I didn't want him to see me throw up. But he said, "Don't be silly, what do you think I do everyday?" So anyway, I felt a lot better after puking and I managed to finally sleep for a few hours. I couldn't however, face going to work, so I called in sick in the morning. My guts were also very bloated and painful still so I went to see the doctor. 

She examined me and said the womb is pushing right up against the stomach which makes me more susceptible to heartburn and indigestion. She prescribed a liquid medication similar to but apparently more effective than Gaviscon for me to take after meals. I could barely walk because my insides were hurting so bad. Later, when my stomach pains had gone, I realised I was all tender from vomiting - I had pulled my abdominal muscles when I threw up. 

That day I did not and could not do anything. I slept for three hours, read for a little while in bed and had a small bowl of clear chicken soup and some bread at mealtimes. At night the muscle pain kept me awake and it still hurt to walk so I worked from home the next day. 

By the evening I felt well enough to head into town for a few hours. I had arranged to have dinner with two Singaporean girls at a Chinese restaurant which had Hakka Yong Tau Foo and I didn't want to re-schedule the appointment. I also wanted to drop by K's place (she lives near the restaurant) to see her before she pops. 

Since I last saw her, K had developed a lovely big bump and her baby could come any moment now. We sat around to have chocolate cake while her dog kept us entertained. She looked great and appeared to be calm and confident about the impending birth. I can only hope I would be half as composed as she is. 

After two days of bad belly, I was happy to indulge myself in some nice food at the restaurant. The Hakka Yong Tau Foo was absolutely delicious but I did not overeat and thank goodness the evening went pain-free. 

I heard from a friend who also suffered from terrible pregnancy heartburn that women who had that were more likely to give birth to hairier babies. I thought it was an old wives' tale until I read this - there is actually scientific proof to that theory! Oh my god I hope Bean doesn't come out looking like a baby chimp!

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Pregnancy talent #3

R accidentally discovered this new talent of mine when I was lying in bed. I can make my knickers disappear between my bump and thighs. Can you? 

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Week 28: 摆家乐 Home & Decor Survivor

This week I feel a bit like being on Channel 8's 摆家乐, because we have been turning the house around quite a bit. 

We finished painting Bean's room this week, giving it three coats of paint. Even though it is a VERY small room, it's amazing how long it takes to do a good job, especially around the windows. 

We opted for Laura Ashley's Eau de Nil, which is a sort of pastel green. I picked the colour because I don't really like the gender-stereotyping idea of blue walls for a boy and pink walls for a girl. I also ordered some animal safari wall stickers from the US and pastel buntings from Sarah's Loft which I hope will add a bit of interest to the otherwise plain room. 

On Wednesday, one of R's nephews came over to help us shift some furniture around the house. We cleared out the futon from the room next to ours because we wanted to build a bed in there and get it ready as my mother's room (or a guest room when she is not here). 

My "office" was also moved and a red chest of drawers we placed somewhere else now sits in my mother's room as her dressing table cum storage. Then the pine wardrobe and a chest of drawers were redistributed from the room my mother-in-law's was in, so we can get that space ready as a dining room cum "baby pram and stuff area".

Being pregnant, I couldn't really do anything apart from getting out of their way when the two men did all the hard work. The only thing I did was to share with them my tin of shortbread after they finished moving. 

We also arranged for the refuse collectors to pick up some old pieces of furniture. There are more to be disposed of next week. 

On Thursday and Friday, we did more painting because I took two days off work to sort as much of the house out as we could. We painted one of the walls in my mother's room a deep rich red and then built her bed. My mother told me I mustn't be in the room when R used the hammer, but thankfully he only used it once or twice since we could put the pieces together using just an Allen Key. 

We also made a trip to the antenatal clinic so they could take my blood to check if I was anaemic. I was given information on breastfeeding and by pressing around my belly, the midwife told me that Bean's head was down in my cervix, his back was against my left abdomen and his limbs were up against my right ribcage (roughly like the picture below). It's amazing how she knows all this just by poking me around in the tummy! 

I weighed myself and I have put on a total of 5 kg since getting pregnant. My latest food craving is anything sharp and citrusy. I suck on a orange or lemon ice-lolly every day and R got me some lemon sorbet when he went to the supermarket yesterday. 

Today, I spent more time painting - this time I did the wooden skirting board in the dining room to freshen it up as the existing paint job was looking dirty and tired. I also need to do a bit of tidying around the house. There is always so much to do and it can be difficult when we both hold full-time jobs. All I can say is, I'm glad we are getting a start on it now rather than wait till I no longer have as much mobility or energy. 

I know this may gross some people out but I can now feel Bean's skeleton when he presses right up against the wall of my abdomen. I don't exactly know what I'm feeling but it is something hard so it could be his foot, his head, his elbow. And when I rub against it, he moves away in response. 

He is a pretty determined little fellow. Although he hasn't kicked me hard enough to keep me awake at night (yet), he does kick vigorously when I scrunch up lying on my side, because the lack of space makes him uncomfortable. So I have to toss and turn to find a position we both find comfortable and this can take some time. 

But I love the little bubba and I am getting pretty excited now at the thought of finally meeting him. I just hope he doesn't chew off my nipples.