Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The world has started slipping

You know what? Two weeks ago I was feeling calm and happy and totally sane. Pod being in a breech position tipped that a teeny bit sideways, but didn't totally shake things; there was still a good chance she could turn or be turned (even though she was in an unlikely position). But this week I'm definitely wobbling. 

Went for booking appointment at Kaleeya hospital yesterday, routine thing because it's our back up and where I would be transferred if required before/during/after birth. I saw an obstetrician who gave me a once over and the following news:

  • Pod is still breech (this we knew, I can feel her head to the right of my tummy button and it hurts like fuck when she dances on my cervix)
  • I have low amniotic fluid (my uterus isn't as big as it should be, there's a void under my ribs, my tummy is all baby and no swimming pool)
  • Pod is measuring 28/29 weeks rather than 32
  • We have suspected IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction - or retardation if you're American or insensitive)

This means that (for now) our care has been transferred to the hospital (our normal midwife is away this week but I have to remember to talk to her about shared care. If everything turns around, including Pod, and I become low risk again then we can still have an unmedicated homebirth as planned). I'm going back early next week for a growth scan to see how much/little fluid I have and how big/little Pod is.

So now we have more possible outcomes than we did before:

  • Fluid level climbs, Pod turns on her own into a good position and doesn't have IUGR = homebirth
  • Fluid level climbs, Pod is turned by ECV, stays head down and doesn't have IUGR = homebirth
  • Fluid level climbs, Pod stays footling breech, no IUGR = cesarean at 39 weeks
  • Too little fluid for Pod to turn, no IUGR = cesarean at 39 weeks
  • Way too little fluid, no IUGR = induction or cesarean earlier than 39 weeks
  • IUGR = monitor Pod very closely, try to determine cause of IUGR (fluid/infection/placenta/genetic or other defect), depending on severity possible cesarean at 36/37 weeks (I think they'll let her cook until they feel she'll do better on the outside)

Right now it feels like a lot has to come good in order for us to achieve a normal birth with a healthy baby. Google is a scary place again with this latest acronym in my hands. I've known for ages that Pod's in a weird position, and that her head seems to be right against my skin without much cushioning, and that there's a big hole between my ribs and where I feel like the top of my uterus is, but we've been told until now that even though I look small, she's the right size. Now suddenly she's probably not the right size, she's possibly stopped growing or her growth has slowed so much that it's a problem. 

I tested negative for the common infections that can cause IUGR, I don't smoke, drink or take drugs, I don't suffer from malnutrition, advanced diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney or lung disease, or sickle cell anemia, and there's only one baby in there. So this leaves 2 possible causes for IUGR (if that's what's happening): a problem with the placenta, or chromosomal defects in the baby.

Low amniotic fluid could also be due to a problem with the placenta or a problem with the baby (kidneys, urinary tract, heart or chromosomal). I don't think I'm leaking fluid, and I'm not taking any medications so that's not why.

So now when people say "OMG you're so small" I want to cry and punch them in equal measure. HN1 is trying not to be worried, and he's right when he says there's no point stressing about what might happen. We need to get to the scan and go from there. Although it doesn't hurt to think about what might happen - I mean, wouldn't it be worse if I just kept skipping through the wildflower meadows with my face towards the sky, dreaming of rainbows and planets, and then all of  a sudden we get to the scan and it's bad news? I don't know. I'd rather be a tiny bit prepared for an IUGR diagnosis in case they do want to snatch Pod out of me sooner rather than later.

Whatever happens, now there are lots of those feelings things happening (aside from panic). I feel scared that there's something wrong with my baby, possibly something that can't be "fixed". I feel inadequate and like I haven't done this job well enough, that my placenta and I aren't good enough. I feel guilty in case there is some sort of infection I've passed onto her, or in case my predominantly vegan protein intake hasn't been enough to sustain her growth. I'm anxious that the position she's in now is due to my uterus not being big enough or containing enough fluid to cushion her or allow her to float in peace - instead she's squished up against the outside world with not enough protection. What if she's uncomfortable???? 

I can't just stop feeling these things - I imagine I won't stop feeling them until we're told that Pod is fine and strong and healthy. Hopefully this is what they'll tell us next week. I REALLY want the scan sooner but it's a public hospital and we have to take what we can get. Trying to find a private hospital with a good OB this late in the day in Perth would be pretty impossible. Plus I'd like our homebirth option to remain open should everything turn around, and we chose Kaleeya as our backup because they're midwife run and into normal, natural birth.

Trying to get my head around a c-section too. If it's best for Pod, OF COURSE I'll have one. Though I worry about what we'll be missing out on - not that I'm anti-intervention; when it's necessary it's necessary, I just don't want it. I want the labour and the hormones my body would release and I want Pod to have those that her body would release, I want that journey with my baby, I want delayed cord clamping, I want to birth my baby, not have her pulled out of me before she decides it's time. None of that sounds like me, it all sounds way too crunchy, but I worry about the effects of a medical birth full of drugs and lights and surgeons vs a calm, natural birth. I might not want to eat my own placenta or deny my child vaccines, but I do want the most natural possible start to life for Pod, and the most natural start to our lives together.

Then I feel like a dick because actually what matters is that she arrives, not how she arrives.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Turn Baby, Turn

Everything was going so well! Still is really, but baby is breech (just like her daddy was - this propensity for remaining upright must therefore come from him). I have 5 weeks to convince mini-me that upside down is awesome or we face being removed from the home birth program and having to deliver in hospital. Not cool tiny baby, not cool. From next week (32 weeks) it's less likely that she'll turn... at 30 weeks, 20% of babies are breech. At 32/33 weeks, 5% remain breech. so while there's still time, there's not much room in this mini womb palace I'm providing, and as she grows there will be less and less room which in turn will make it harder and harder to do the required somersault. 

So I'm trying not to stress (only one sleepless night with dreams of inverted babies so far) and I'm spending more time upside down to try to create more space for acrobatics. For the record, headstands are not a good idea after a bowl of rice crispies (can't get enough of those bad boys) and a pint of fizzy Ribena. Another good position is apparently bum-in-air-face-on-floor - I've got it down, it's elegant. 

C-section will, of course, be absolute last resort. But "they" like to recommend it for full term breech babies. Urgh. I will be gutted if I'm forced to wrench my baby into this world surrounded by bright lights and strangers and drugs. I'm not thick or naive, and of course we'll do what's safest when it comes to it. But our decision will be informed and I'll do my very best not to be pressured or scared into anything. 

Now we just have to think head-down thoughts and practice head-down positions and good posture. Failing that we'll get some acupuncture. Meanwhile, HN1 is supposed to talk to the bottom of my tummy to encourage her down. I'm also supposed to play music to the bottom and shine lights down there - curiosity could be a pre-birth thing. Right? I don't play music through headphones, we usually just rock out to the speakers; if she can hear HN1's voice she can certainly hear the thrash metal and grunge (and folk and acoustic) I play us.

What else has happened? Not too much really. MIL has very kindly knitted a couple of cardigans for the baby but I am (possibly overreacting) pretty upset that they're pink. She knows full well that I don't want to be inundated with pink crap, that I don't want this sexist gender stereotyping. She ASKED which colours I wanted, and I said rainbow - any colours (there are SO MANY COLOURS), but not exclusively pink. Why ask? What's the point? This is a recurring theme in our relationship. She will undermine me (and HN1) and the way we decide to bring up our child. I feel ridiculed for my lifestyle choices when it comes to food (vegan, and not a fussy one), I dread to think how they will react to however we decide to raise our child. Every time we talk it seems she's taken our nephews to MacDonald's again*. I'm still haunted by the "what happens at nana's stays at nana's" email subject line with pictures of the baby boys eating nutella on their breakfast cereal (sent to aunts and uncles but not to mum and dad). If their mum is fine with that, then groovy. What I am not OK with (in the least) is the secrecy and making it alright to "not tell mummy". Who ingrains that shit in a child? All it does is make them more vulnerable to other people saying "don't tell mummy, it will be our little secret". I want my child to feel they can tell me anything, and without repercussions from nana or the perv at the park. HN1 doesn't understand; he thinks I'm overreacting about the pink, but the pink is the tip of the iceberg for me. 

Urgh finished ranting. For now. But seriously, if we die I want my brother and his girlfriend to have custody of our baby (with help from my mum). Mum might not agree with everything I do but at least I trust that she'll respect our wishes when it comes to our baby.

*If you want to feed our child burgers, when she's old enough (and if she's not vegetarian), at least take her somewhere where they make them from REAL meat, and where they have actual nutritional content rather than pieces of cardboard, a host of chemicals, and a ton of salt and sugar. Fuck. MacDonald's isn't a treat, it's a punishment.

EDIT: I am overreacting, I need some perspective. Baby will be warm, fed, and loved so why sweat the small pink stuff? Clothes on her back are clothes on her back, she's blessed to have people care about her so much before she's even arrived who will make said clothes for her with their own hands. We'll cross the food bridge when we come to it. 

One day I'll write a nice blog for people to actually see and I'll omit the angry imp side of me. Until then, on this blog, I'll be as unreasonable as I like (within reason, I'm not a total bitch).

Friday, 18 July 2014

Growing Up Indeed

We saw a financial advisor this afternoon. Now who's grown up?? I don't have much to add, he's a nice dude and will help us out with insurance, superannuation, wills and planning. Hooray? I wonder if he'll do my tax return...

Monday, 7 July 2014

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Track Marks

I look like a junkie, but I don't have gestational diabetes! Yay. I'm actually pretty far below the threshold - go pancreas and your awesome insulin producing capabilities.

The test is pretty boring and a bit grim: Fast for 12 hours, go to hospital, have litres of blood drawn, drink a huge rank green drink containing 75g of sugar in under 5 minutes, go to waiting room for an hour with instructions to not get up and move around and not eat or drink anything. Spend hour in waiting room trying not to throw up while the green drink tries to crawl back up throat, get called back for next blood draw. The timer is reset, spend another hour in the waiting room trying not to let the green drink escape, get called back for third and final blood draw.

For the record, the bruises got worse.

After which I didn't bother with work - head full of cold and feeling pretty shitty (took the next day off too). It's amazing how, now that I'm pregnant, people at work have an opinion on the height of my heels, what I eat, how much yoga I do, that I still ride my bike, yet they don't think twice about coming to the office sick and sitting next to the pregnant lady with zero immune system. Charming.

Anyway, I've decided I'm having a breezy pregnancy (aside from the stress at the start, I think I'm getting used to being knocked up now - which is good with 12 weeks to go).

Onto my breezy birth. Technically the baby's birth, not mine. We're not doing very well at practicing the Hypnobirthing scripts together; I listen to my relaxation and affirmations every night (each on alternate nights), but it just feels weird when HN1 gets involved. I'm not sure he understands what we're doing or trying to achieve and it feels really awkward. If it feels like this now it's never going to work and he may as well go to the pub rather than being at the birth.

Well that was last week (I still look like a junkie though), I've taken another longer-than-the-half-hour-blog-break. It's too easy. We're still crap at practicing, and we're no better at remembering to take photos. We had big plans at the beginning to do a little time lapse pregnancy video thing, but have become less and less enthusiastic - possibly because my body isn't changing very much. Actually, now it it is. There's a huge (to my eyes) difference between 2 days ago and today; I think I'm actually beginning to look pregnant now! Finally - in the 29th week... I'll add some pics so I know what I'm talking about later.

28 weeks and 1 day (who's counting? an app on my phone, that's who)

28 weeks and 4 days (the difference FEELS enormous, OK?)

Work blows. My projects are being taken away from me, and after I finish this report for the government I have no idea what will occupy my time. 7 weeks remain until maternity leave (provided the Dr complies with my request for a medical certificate to work past 34 weeks). Although, since the letter I sent the CEO (and the other letter with 2 pages of signatures) after the publication of the abysmal Workplace Gender Equality Report, there may be some movement on the paid parental leave front. I don't want to count my chickens, but 12 weeks pay may be coming my way - the culmination of 2 solid years of campaigning and complaining. If this is the case, and I still hate it here, I may well pack up my desk at 34 weeks and wave goodbye with my middle finger. Watch this space. "Won't you be bored?". Resounding NO.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Good Cervix & Intro to Hypnobirthing

The morning after I last blogged I had to go to hospital AGAIN. Though this time it was the nice maternity hospital near our house rather than the deserted Queen Charlotte's next to Wormwood Scrubs (and HN1's old hockey ground).

My body woke me up at about 4am with "period pains" in the front and cramping in the lower back - obviously not actual period pains, that would be odd in pregnancy. So I did the usual and got up to pee - this usually helps with random pain while I sleep; my bladder is apparently sensitive and needy and, if whining can be expressed as pain, whiny. This clearly didn't help since I ended up at the hospital - what? Suspense is overrated. I came to work, tried to get on with my entirely unexciting day, couldn't, texted the midwife, and was sent straight to hospital. My lovely SIL picked me up from the station and dropped me off (and repeated in reverse to my front door later), I waited for a while, then was hooked up and looked up. Literally - hooked up to a machine and looked up with a speculum. My cervix had to be long and closed in order to convince everyone that this wasn't early labour. Really early. Cervix was behaving admirably - go cervix - and I was allowed to go home. I was also reminded that I'm six months pregnant and perhaps I should take it a bit easy.

Ho hum. So I had a lie down and some paracetamol (hopefully good drugs aren't a thing of the past and this is just a temporary pregnancy hiatus - I have some oxy creeping ever closer to it's use by date) and then cleaned the house a bit so the hypnobirthing doula lady wouldn't judge me. 

Hypnobirthing. It sounds cool, and is all about birthing naturally, believing in yourself and your body's inate natural ability to birth a child, being super relaxed and letting nature do her thing. I'm on board with a lot of it... I believe positive imagery, visualisations, words, and affirmations go a long way, I believe that birth can be a calm process when you eliminate unnecessary fear and tension, and I believe that self hypnosis actually works. On alternate days I listen to an affirmations track and a relaxation track, and I don't mind these (initially thought I would since I'd only heard snippets in an American accent - I have nothing against this accent but I find it hard to "relax" to - mine are in British though).

What I do mind is some of the reading material. The course consists of 5 Hypnobirthing classes with our instructor, who is very sweet, reading the Mongan Method book, listening to the Rainbow Relaxation CD/MP3 (honestly, who listens to CD's any more other than in the car? Hypnosis while driving should probably be avoided), and reading the notes in the binder our instructor left us with. I'm sure there are exercises and things to do, and we'll have homework, but for now reading is my only homework (and listening to the CD/MP3).

Having side-eyed the book (which has been balanced on the back of the sofa) for the past week and a half, I finally threw it in my bag this morning to read on the train. Urgh. Some of it is such drivel. If you're not willing to reference your writing correctly (or at all), then why should I read and/or believe any of it?? Power to you if you can take this book in and believe every word and have a beautiful, peaceful birth at the end of it, but that won't be me (well, hopefully the peaceful birth bit will be). I'm not resistant to the premise, I'm resistant to the way in which it's preached. There are pages of course notes in the binder waxing lyrical about how awful the various drug options are, and while I'm adamant that drugs will be a last resort for me, I'm also adamant that whatever happens I won't be made to feel like a failure for demanding an epidural.

I also won't be scare-mongered into believing things. Saying that Cytotec shouldn't be used to induce labour/ripen the cervix because it's not approved for use in pregnancy is frankly fucking retarded. If it causes the cervix to soften and thin, then of course it bloody won't be approved for use in pregnancy because in PREGNANCY you don't want your uncooked child to fall out. However, when said child is cooked and you DO want it to fall out, use of Cytotec is probably OK.

Anyway, I won't judge it entirely now. I'll go with it with an open mind - probably more open to actual science and common sense than they would like - and see where it takes us. Doesn't hurt to be able to deeply relax yourself both physically and mentally. Labour will undoubtedly be easier and shorter if my mind and body are relaxed and I'm focusing on positives. At the end of the day (or night. Or day and night and day...), we will be holding our tiny (please universe let her not be so big that my vagina is completely destroyed) baby, and this is what matters most. And is actually the shit scary part, not the labour.

On a more positive note, it's nice that HN1 will have such an important role in the birth - it's double nice that his role is being spelled out to him so there will be no confusion. I also like calling contractions "waves". Shiny.

Yesterday I had a midwife appointment - I really like having our student midwife there, she's lovely and makes me feel more relaxed than I think I otherwise would. I ACED my mental health test thing they do each time (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Test) - scored a 7, down from 18. Boom - and everything else is normal. I have blood tests (iron, clotting factors, other stuff) and a 3 hour gestational diabetes test next week. I wasn't sure about the GD test, but figure it's better to know even if the test is a mess and the scale against which results are measured is pretty fucked (evidence does exist, it's not referenced here though because this isn't a prescriptive text or method), in case I need insulin or the baby needs special monitoring etc. It should be fine, I'm super low risk, but some people with no risk factors end up with it so what the hell? 3 hours at the hospital beats 3 hours at work, right? Right? Eurgh.

If I am diagnosed with GD, I probably won't be able to have a home birth. This would suck. Hopefully I'm doing the right (and grown up) thing...

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

A Little Journey

Eeeep it's been a while. The Blogger app on my phone just doesn't cut the mustard though... Plus I've been soaking up the rain in the UK - enough excuses? 

It was REALLY nice to spend some time at home, although a 10 day trip was never, ever, ever, going to be long enough. Brief summary? OK. (This is more for me than anyone else, much like this blog. I'll never remember anything otherwise).

I arrived Friday morning, mum met me at the airport and drive me home to London, I had a nap and then went for a pregnancy massage. Best. Idea. Ever. It would have been blissful anyway, but after a 24 hour journey? I think I'll be making this a permanent fixture of my travel routine (obvs not always a pregnancy specific massage). Saturday morning had brunch with mum, my bro and his girlfriend at the Delaunay to celebrate his election win, then went walking and shopping with mum who bought me pretty much a new maternity wardrobe. Saturday afternoon coffee (not for me) with N who cried into his menu when I let slip the sex of our future munchkin (no great surprise there given the extreme waterworks at our wedding!), then dinner and drinks (soft for me) with L & N whos wedding I'm helping to plan for next summer. Having (mis)spent years off my tits in Soho, it was slightly bizarre to be hanging out there stone cold sober. Sunday morning coffee (tea for me) with C at Drink Shop Do in King's Cross then lunch with G & R, who are expecting a baby girl a week before our tiny person is due, in Surrey, then spent the night with K & T and brand new baby Jack who is cute as a button. Pretty busy weekend. K & I made microwave chocolate cake - it felt justified, with me being knocked up and her being a new mum - which, it turns out, is pretty revolting. 

Monday late afternoon I left to drive to our place in the country... I hated every second of the drive! It pissed rain most of the way there, and roads that were once as familiar as the back of my hand (when we lived in Surrey) were alien and horrid. I downloaded a satnav for my phone, which involved updating the OS, which killed my phone for the rest of the week. Literally dead. Won't be doing that again! I stopped at services half way there and had a little cry and felt sorry for myself. I actually decided I wouldn't drive any more, but had to reverse that decision when I realised it was stupid and that nobody in their right mind was going to come and pick me up from a garage on the M4. I blame being pregnant and possibly a teeny bit tired and jet lagged for my sorry state. The rest of the drive was uneventful (unless you count stalling a couple of times. What? It's hard to remember you're driving a manual sometimes - even though it might be the car you drove for years before moving across the world and buying an automatic. Ahem).

Spent Tuesday with H & M, went for a lovely walk when the rain stopped briefly, Wednesday with EFW (Yay!), dinner Weds night with EFW & K at some bla tapas place in Gloucester - rated by TripAdvisor, probably the best in Glos, but still distinctly average. Thurs & Fri hung out with mum mostly, by myself some, and at the Merc garage for a while when our front brakes went. Funtimes. Saturday went to L & H's wedding and had a fab time with my friends from primary school who (funnily enough) I didn't get to spend enough time with last time I was back in the UK for my wedding.

Saturday night I drove back to London, the ONLY advantage to not being able to drink. Getting TO London was easy, getting THROUGH London was slightly more nightmarish (I'd forgotten/blocked out how awful traffic can be, even at midnight). I hadn't felt the baby move all day, since Friday night in fact, and expected the usual Riverdance to begin when I went to bed... But still nothing. It was a bit concerning but I decided to sleep on it. Still nothing Sunday morning, tried tea and juice and cold water and lying down and sitting down and jumping up and down - nada. HN1 (who was home in Oz) texted our midwife and she advised that I should go to hospital, so I did. The midwife couldn't find the heartbeat with her Doppler machine, but could hear blood flow. Great. That didn't make me the slightest bit anxious. Fuck. Then the consultant came and scanned me and all was well. Heart was beating and in the right place, measurements were fine, lots of amniotic fluid. Cue relief. (also cue my mother allowing me to get on my flight back to Oz). 

Went from the hospital to lunch at my Fairy Godfather's house then home to pick up bursting suitcase (the baby may or may not now have more clothes that its father) then to the airport to wave bye to mum and have a little cry in the security line. The baby started kicking again as I waited at the gate and hasn't stopped since, which feels sooooooo much better than no kicking.

It's nice to be home, it was nice to see HN1 when I walked through security. It was even nicer to get home and find a hot water bottle already in the bed for me and my giant maternity pillow ready for a proper horizontal sleep. Yum. (Except I couldn't sleep and has the worst restless night and decided I couldn't stand the smell of anything in our house and needed to change that immediately. Damn my sensitive pregnant nose and damn jet lag. The house is now aired, I've rewashed all the sheets, cleaned the kitchen and tidied up most of the general disarray. I love Husband Number 1, but I wish he was a clean/neat freak).

In related news, I've decided to heed advice and take things a little bit easier. I'm almost 6 months pregnant and so far have pretty much refused to acknowledge it, or change anything about my life - other than drinking and sushi (which I'm almost sure would be totally fine to eat) - but perhaps this little hospital visit was a sign. I won't be going to Byron Bay for the hen weekend at the end of the month, instead I'll hang out at home (and maybe research a car seat). A 5 hour flight and 2 hour drive is not what the doctor is ordering. 

Now it's mid afternoon and my face is crying out for a nap but I WILL NOT GIVE IN. 

Tomorrow night we have our first hypnobirthing session. I'll update blog once I'm a more enlightened human.