Thursday, July 31, 2008

Uterus fascination (week 13-14)

Yes, I am fascinated by my uterus. After testing it for its palpability a couple of weeks ago I sort of forgot about it for a while but over the last week I started to feel it at night. It is sometimes a bit of an uncomfortable feeling, like I'm aware that it is there, and the growing and stretching sensation is becoming much more pronounced.

It has also grown visibly. Whilst it's not noticeable when I'm wearing clothes (no bump yet), when my tummy is bare it there is an obvious roundness to it just above my pubic bone. I know this is not flab. There is flab as well, a layer of it sitting above my uterus, just below my belly button, but I am definitely a different shape now. Even Toby has been able to see and feel it.

I am absolutely fascinated by it and I think Toby is too. It's just amazing to think we can now see and feel the little cocoon that our baby is growing in. According to What to Expect When You're Expecting, my uterus is the size of grapefruit.

Despite all this I am obviously managing to hide my pregnancy well. The same colleague who asked if I had lost weight last week today said to me, "You look like you're getting thinner by the week. Are you sure you haven't lost any weight?" Well, I weighed myself this morning and I am slowly putting on weight but not really very much at all. I think I have lost weight since I was first pregnant but it must just be muscle as I certainly haven't been eating any less. In fact most days I snack like mad. I don't think I have anything to worry about but it is a little disconcerting to hear such comments at a time when I'm supposed to be putting weight on. However, it is only one person who has made them. It was so tempting to tell her that I was pregnant. We were alone in the toilets and she's very easy to talk to. She's probably about my mam's age and has daughters my age. But I've decided that my director must be the first person to know, followed by my line manager and I'll probably tell them next week.

I have actually already told Richard but I've sworn him to secrecy. I took Monday off work after exhausting myself by spending the weekend painting our kitchen and living room. We're in the middle of the website project so I called him on his mobile to make sure there wasn't anything I should be getting on with. Then I told him the news so that he could understand if I was a bit useless during the release next Monday morning. Poor guy. I told him to temper his reaction so no one would ask what I'd said, so all he could say in response was "oh really?". It was much easier than whispering it to him in the office though. Thankfully we ran into each other on the way into work the next day and he said a proper congratulations and then reciprocated with a secret of his own, but I'm not telling what that was.

I'm still a bit unsure about how to approach the issue with my director. I know she'll be really pleased for me but I'd like to consider the option of working part-time. Only the ladies on the reception desk work part-time at the moment and a few years ago a colleague, who went on maternity leave before I joined, requested part-time work on return and was refused. It's possible the director would consider it with me. She was quite new when this other girl left and she probably hadn't had a chance to prove herself, whereas I've been an integral part of the team for almost five years now. So, do I raise the issue immediately I tell her I'm pregnant, saying something along the lines of, "I would like to know what my options are; is there a chance of returning part-time?" or do I let the news sink in and then ask about part-time work at a later date? Do I make sure part-time work is what I want to do before I even raise the issue? I just can't imagine wanting to come back full-time when I have a baby.

I am entering a much nicer phase of pregnancy now. Whilst I've been really tired this week I'm really not feeling that nauseous at all and it's lovely to be able to tell people and talk about it openly. I have held back a bit though as some very important family members, my Dad's parents and my Mam's sister, Barbara, still don't know. I was going to tell them last week but my computer broke so I couldn't call them. This week I've just been too knackered and Gran and Grandpa have been on holiday. It just seems wrong telling other people when they don't know. Also, according to which book you read, we are out of the woods and into the scrub with regards to risk of miscarriage. Apparently, 80-98% of miscarriages (depending on the source of information) occur within the first 13 weeks. I'm now into week 14. I have read (but taken with a pinch of salt as I have been unable to verify the figures) that the risk of miscarriage reduces from 15% in the first trimester to between 2 and 5% in the second trimester. Obviously it's an entirely different experience and much more traumatic but it's wonderful to know that the odds are now firmly in our favour. Fingers crossed for the next six months.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Have you lost weight?

At lunch yesterday a female colleague said to me:

"You look like you've lost weight lately? Have you lost weight?"

Well, isn't that something a three-month pregnant lady who's becoming increasingly aware of her non-flat belly loves to hear?

The strange thing is, I actually have lost about 1kg in the past two or three months and I was supposed to put about that amount on. I put it down to losing muscle from doing less exercise, although I have replaced it with chocolatey fat and amniotic fluid so I haven't really noticed it, especially around my tummy. That said, my tummy does seem a bit flatter this week than last week. I suppose in pregnancy you're still prone to fat and thin days and maybe as I'm approaching the end of the first trimester the bloating is starting to go away.

But anyway, it was still lovely to hear and I should appreciate it because I probably won't be hearing any more compliments like that for quite a while.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Our baby is in Aliens

Last night I overheard Toby on the phone to a friend telling him our baby looked like a creature from Aliens.

Toby: "Yeh, and apparently the film Aliens is based upon human babies!"

I was horrified and couldn't possibly let this one lie.

Me: "Not the film Aliens!!! Aliens in films! The aliens in Aliens are horrible, ugly things. Our baby doesn't look like that."

Monday, July 21, 2008

We've got a wriggler (week 11-12)

I can't possibly concentrate on work today. The obstetrician appointment this morning was just too exciting. I persuaded Toby to come with me, even though I was expecting a fairly routine appointment. It's still early days and although I have felt my uterus grow (and yes, it is palpable) I was still a little bit nervous about how things may have progressed. I wanted him there for moral support.

Well, was he pleased he came! Unbeknown to us I was booked in for a nuchal fold scan. So there, I didn't even have to make the decision in the end. Personally, I wonder whether the doctor just wanted the opportunity to play with his new ultrasound machine but I wasn't complaining, even though it was another internal scan.

As soon as the picture came on the screen we could see the baby moving around. It was so lovely to see because without having to stare at the screen trying to make things out and looking for a heart beat, we could see that the Clucklette was alive and apparently well. Not only that but it's a very healthy size, about 5cm, spot on for my dates. It's tucked in there very tightly now whereas last time it was just this little bean at the bottom of my uterus. It has an umbilical cord and the fancy new machine showed us areas of blood flow so we could see that a healthy blood supply was channelling through there.

My second thought on seeing Clucklette, after "excellent, it's moving, it must be alive" was that I had been right when I'd wondered about an alien implantation. My little bean is no longer a bean but a little alien with a large head ("Heed! Shift!"), what appears to be a pointy chin, and elongated oval-shaped eyes. So attractive. However, the obstetrician reliably informed us that all human babies start out this way and in fact, this is what the movie companies base their aliens on, rather than the other way around. This apparently suggests that aliens, as we know them, aren't real, but more importantly it means that Clucklette will grow out of its alienism before it is born, which is very reassuring.

The detail we could see on screen was quite amazing. The doctor pointed out an ear, fingers, a thumb, the spine. The legs were a bit trickier to make out but I suppose they are still quite small in relation to the body and the head. So insignificant are they that they aren't even included in the measurement which goes from head to rump. Clucklette measures just under 5cm, a very healthy size for its age and spot on for the dates.

At one point Clucklette seemed to get a little shock. I wondered whether it could somehow sense the ultrasound. Or perhaps it had been sleeping and then suddenly jolted awake. It kind of jumped, all of its limbs spasmed out and then it wriggled around for a while. It was my first real "ah!" moment and was very cute.

The doctor then played around with the machine for a while. He produced some 3-D images, which were amazing although to be honest, Clucklette looked even more freaky in 3-D. Its skinny little arms seemed to extend straight out in front of the body which looked really funny. The doctor then showed us areas of increased blood pressure, which mainly occurred around the umbilical cord, the heart, brain and various other little spots in the body. I'm guessing they were the internal organs. We saw a graph of the blood pressure, and then of the heart beat and heard the heart beat again, still going strong.

We got some print outs of static images which aren't quite as good as the moving ones. We also got given a DVD but I haven't had the chance to look at that yet as I had to come to work. I imagine it contains digital copies of the images we've been given so far. Once I've had the chance to check it out I'll post some photos.

The doctor seemed pleased that everything was going well and Toby and I left as very happy expectant parents.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Forms, damn forms

I've been having difficulty with form-filling again. I say "again" because I recall having great difficulty with some of the government forms I had to complete when applying for my Australian Permanent Residency Visa two and a half years ago.

This time it's a hospital pre-admission form that's causing me aggravation. I was handed it at my last obstetrician appointment a month ago, along with a great wad of reading material, and told to send it off within the next few weeks. I'm not going to hospital for another 6 months but obviously it pays to plan ahead.

I left it lying around for about a week and then it took me about three weeks to fill it in and I finally posted it yesterday. Well, some of it. I still haven't sent off the form acknowledging that I understand what an epidural is and that I agree to have one if it's necessary because I wasn't entirely sure what an EDC is, which is pretty much the only thing I have to put on the form other than my signature. I'm guessing it's Estimated Date of Conception but that seems strange as no one ever asks that. They always ask for the date of your last menstrual period (LMP), or your estimated due date (EDD).

Other things that stumped me on the form were which health fund to put down, given that our current fund ceases to provide cover for obstetrics on 1st January (inconvenient bastards). I ended up putting them down in the end anyway, despite the fact that I've arranged new cover as of 15th August. I figure I'll just send a letter or fill in another form. Putting down the details of the health fund was also confusing as the terminology didn't seem to match that of the insurance company.

I was also unsure what my date of admission was and the form seemed to assume that you already knew this. I phoned a nurse and was advised to put down my due date. I wonder what happens if they don't have enough beds because your baby is early or late. My sister-in-law's second baby was overdue and she ended up with a regular hospital room rather than a maternity room.

I didn't even know which sort of room to request as I didn't know what rooms the hospital had or whether there's a price difference. However, I think we just pay a certain amount and the health fund covers everything over that so it shouldn't make a difference to us. In the end I requested a private room with private en-suite because I thought that sounded quite nice. I'm sure lots of unpleasant things will be going on with my nether regions in the days following the birth so having a private bathroom will be much appreciated.

I didn't manage to complete the booking form for antenatal classes because it appears that you have to phone up and book into a specific course first. And this is the crux of my difficulties: I have not felt able to phone up as I don't want to call from work because people here don't know I'm pregnant yet, and often by the time I get home it's too late.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Eleven weeks and counting...

I'm about to embark on the twelfth week of my pregnancy. Apparently there's a lot of growing going on this week so I can expect to be tired. That'll make a change then.

The bean pretty much has all its bits now. I think its fingers and toes might still be slightly webbed (should be fine by the time it's born though) and its eyes remain shut for now as they're still developing, but it's all there and in the right place. One hopes. Not sure about the intestine though. Apparently that begins life outside of the body and gradually moves in. Spooky. Oh and the head is about twice the size of the body which conjures up images of the younger brother in So I Married An Axe Murderer ("That's a huge noggin.... Heed! Shift!... He'll cry himself to sleep tonight on his huge pillow") so I'm hoping that rectifies itself in the coming weeks.

The bean should by now be able to swallow and suck (very useful skills, I'm sure) and move around although apparently it's too small to feel so it must just be gas I'm experiencing. It has ears but can't yet hear so much as sense sounds via vibrations through the skin. I'll hold off on the chit-chat and musical education for now then; or perhaps we'll try a bit of drum 'n' bass. Lesson no. 2: What Not To Like Or At Least What To Play Quietly So You Don't Give Mother a Headache And Make Her Grumpy.

Apparently my uterus might be palpable now so I'll have a go at palping it later on and see. (That just means I should be able to feel it.) I've felt it stretching from time to time over the last couple of weeks. It's a very strange sensation and I'm not quite sure how to describe it. It's not a pain but it's slightly uncomfortable and it's sort of like the feeling you get in your skin when you stretch your tummy whilst doing a back bend, only it's on the inside and you can't make it stop by not doing the back bend anymore. My tummy is getting a bit round. I think that's because I haven't been exercising much but I haven't stopped eating cake or chocolate either (naughty me! I'll probably regret that later). My boobs are round and firm too and pretty huge compared to what they used to be, although you can't tell when I'm wearing my sexy maternity bra, which is probably a good thing. They're not as tender as they were, which is good, but they do sometimes get in the way when I'm in bed.

I have been attempting to do pelvic floor exercises but they're really hard. I find it difficult to isolate the correct muscle and end up pulling my tummy in or clenching my buttocks, which is apparently not how to do it properly. When I finally do manage to find it I can only hold for a second before it spontaneously releases itself and after a few repetitions I have to go to the toilet. I'm really bad at remembering to do them too.

I have my next appointment with the obstetrician on Monday and I've been wondering whether to ask about a nuchal fold translucency scan, which assesses the risk of Down Syndrome. I'm not sure how accurate it is and I think all it can do is say whether or not you have an increased risk of DS. If it turns out there is an increased risk then we'd have the dilemma of deciding whether to go for a more sophisticated, yet invasive test, such as amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling, both of which have a risk of miscarriage. In fact, the risk of miscarriage is higher than the risk of Down Syndrome.

My friend who is about the same age as me and expecting a baby this week had the scan but I think the new government may have brought in changes since then which mean you're only automatically offered the scan if you're over 35. Would having one just add extra complications? Do I want to make the decision to have an amniocentesis? I'm pretty sure we would go ahead and have the baby even if it had the syndrome but it would be nice to be forewarned. One of us would probably have to give up work and I can't imagine how it would feel to be handed your baby after the birth and be told it has complications. I'm inclined to think it would be nicer to know beforehand so there's time to get used to the idea and the birth can still be a joyous occasion. Plus, we can warn family and friends rather than giving them good and bad news at the same time. But then, aside from the risks there's the chance that'll it'll take any remaining sense of fun and wonder out of the pregnancy. Toby says he doesn't feel the need to know so it's really just up to me. I'm still young and the chances are fairly low. But still, they're there.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

And the beat goes on... (week 10-11)

I'm now ten weeks pregnant and ridiculously busy. Work is still full on and it's Toby's birthday tomorrow so my thoughts of full of that:
  • When will I wrap up his presents? (Did it this morning before work actually; was going to do it at work until I realised that it mightn't be appropriate to wrap a book called First Time Father in front of an office-load of people who don't know I'm pregnant.)
  • I have to finish writing his poem. (Did that just now to have a break from work; the last two lines were stumping me until I remembered Tree's Guage d'lang: "so happy birthday hubbie; Mr Toby Ett d'Clew; thanks for being wonderful, thanks for being you." Good eh? Thank god for made-up languages.)
  • Shall I bake my usual thai chicken sausage rolls for the party or give beef burgundy pies a go? (Thinking sausage rolls actually; I'm just not sure my brain can cope with new information at the moment.)
  • Just how many jumpers will it be necessary to wear in Toowoomba? (The jury's still out on this one. Mother-in-law says two and a t-shirt but I'm planning on throwing my dressing gown over the top and stubbornly sitting in front of the fire for the duration of the weekend.)
As you can see my head is all over the place. Work takes up most of my mental energy at the moment and, as such most of my physical energy. By the time I get home I'm a wreck. Oh, when will this infernal tiredness end? I'm so sick of it. I keep thinking I'm getting over it. I'll have a burst of energy and suddenly be capable of actually doing things and then a day or two later I'm back to struggling to drag myself out of bed before feeling like I want to vomit into my breakfast cereal. Seriously though, the nausea isn't really that bad, although it really isn't helped by Toby's penchant (due to candida diet) for cooked meat for breakfast. Every morning I wake up to a smell I found unpleasant even before I was pregnant. Some days it's just unbearable. But I'm better than I was. Even the tiredness, in general is a huge improvement on what it was three or four weeks ago (although it doesn't feel it right now).

Richard's back at work. It's good to have him back but I can see he's not really into it. I can completely understand why. His brother must be constantly on his mind. We talk about him occasionally which I think is good for Richard. In my hormonal state, however, it's a bit of a struggle not to burst into tears, which I don't want to do in case I set him off and the two of us are bawling in the middle of the office, besides the fact that it might seem like strange behaviour on my part. I wouldn't be surprised if people at work had started to twig on about my condition though because I keep letting little things slip, like how tired I am. Richard's not sleeping well at the moment, unsurprisingly, nor it seems is our colleague in Marketing, who is probably stressed with work due to staffing issues over there.. We were commenting on it in a meeting the other day but I went a bit far and mentioned my umpteen trips to the toilet. I quickly added that I would then lie awake thinking about things but in truth I fall straight back to sleep and into a weird world of crazy and vivid dreams, which prevent me from getting into a decent deep sleep. The other night I was someone other than myself who was supposed to be marrying some random she'd just met and who returned home to find her landlords had moved her into a new bedroom which had a big hole in the floor, with a barrier around it, like a balcony over the lounge room. I'm glad I wasn't me because the room was rubbish. You wouldn't be able to sleep if the telly was on in the lounge. It was clearly never intended as a bedroom but the family were obviously trying to make some money by getting a lodger in.

Well, only another three or four weeks and I can come clean if I choose to do so. I haven't decided when to tell work yet but I'm sure it'll slip out soon enough. Meanwhile, we've told Toby's parents and his brother and I emailed my good friend, and green bridesmaid, Tree and told her too. She's sworn to secrecy. We also told Libbette and it's a relief that I don't have to hide it from her any more. It's difficult when you spend that much time with someone.

I'm getting a bit of a tummy. I suppose I'd better get used to that. You can't really tell when I'm wearing clothes, which thankfully I do a lot of at the moment as the weather is a bit chilly but it's only a matter of time before things stop fitting me. I tend to get into my tracksuit bottoms as soon as I get home from work, rip my bra off and just generally let it all hang out. Much more comfortable.

I've started thinking like a mother. Surprisingly sensible thoughts enter my head at inopportune moments (usually the middle of the night between a loo visit and a crazy dream), most notably "we must get a fireguard before next winter" and "how will we get the baby out of the house in the event of a fire, given that all the likely places for a fire to start are positioned between our room and the other bedrooms?" These thoughts amaze me as I've never thought anything like them before and I've no idea where they come from. It's incredible how your body and mind are programmed to become all maternal when the time comes.

I've also started talking to the baby. I've no idea whether it has ears or not yet. I'm sure it does as most of the major development is now complete but perhaps they can't actually hear yet. I shall endeavour to find out before my next post. But just in case, we've been having some chats. This morning, whilst listening to The Music on the way to work, I educated the bean on the importance of the British music scene. I then vowed to get my music situation sorted before too long so that I can have as much of a musical influence on my child as my parents had on me. I knew the words to Fleetwood Mac's Rumours album without even realising I'd ever heard the songs, such was the extent to which my mother played the record during my first couple of years of life. Unfortunately my MP3 jukebox died recently so I want one of those funky things that receives wireless signals from your PC and plays the music stored on there. Of course, that means having the computer switched on the whole time so mightn't be the best way of doing it but something has to happen. And soon.