Friday, 12 December 2014

Revisiting guided meditation

Now that Pickle is six months old, I've been contemplating a return to work.  I have been self employed for most of the past 17 years, working long hours as an IT consultant but I don't think I want to go back to that life.  Pickle is too precious to me to only see on weekends!

Over the years I have kept a few journals.  Sometimes I write out what is churning in my head.  Other times I brainstorm possibilities for the future.  I tried many different types of guided meditation while trying to conceive and sometimes made notes on these.

Today I was leafing through an old journal today looking for what my Australia work ideas were and came across some notes on a meditation I did when I was still reeling from losing Poppy a few days earlier.

*************
The notes say

"I just did a meeting my spirit guide meditation on YouTube.

In the meditation I walked along a road, sealed, but with no cars.  The tunnel was like a train tunnel and the gate was a metal one like outside houses in London.  I wasn't aware of the surroundings.

I didn't *see* my guide but as I asked questions in my head, answers were given - like in a proper conversation.  I need to keep my head clear of monkey chatter so I can pay attention to my guide.

  • Her name is Alia like my friend.  
  • I need not to worry about having a child.  She will come to me.  I don't need to do anything different.  
  • My goal is to teach people - love and forgiveness.  I can carry out my goal in any way I choose including working in personal change or IT.
  • I need to go to Australia.  I need the sea and she said that I know that.
  • My guide will help me.  "Of course Lisa, that is what I am here for".  She will help with the physical tension and releasing energy blocks.  I need to open my chakras and allow my intuition to develop."
*************

I don't have a clear recollection of even doing this meditation.  To be fair I was pretty upset at the time.  It is interesting to me to see in retrospect that according to my subconscious, all those things I did to try to get pregnant were unnecessary.  If only I listened to myself...

I am glad we are in Australia, I do need to be near the sea.  I am thrilled Pickle came to us and wonder if I should be figuring out how to work towards my goal rather than how to return to work.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

So, what worked? - TTC edition

I know I'm very lucky in naturally conceiving and bearing a healthy first baby in my 40s.  I'm recording what I did here both for posterity and to remind myself of the hard work good luck often is founded upon.  I made a lot of effort to conceive Pickle and on those days when I start to wonder if I am not cut out to be a mother, I can remind myself of how much I wanted her and the effort I put into it.

For the record, I think IVF is an amazing tool however, at 40 it was strongly inferred that, although my numbers all came back okay, I was simply too old.  For that reason (and the fact I dislike the idea of unnecessary medical interventions) I didn't pursue the referral the doctor half heartedly offered but decided to do what I could to create an optimum environment in my body for conception.  If I fell pregnant, then good.  If not, I'd be in better health in my 40s than in any other time of my life.

Ha!  I say that like I was sane, but in fact I was like any other woman having difficulty falling pregnant... slightly obsessed.

I did a lot of reading on fertility and fertile health in both men and women.  I learned more about my cycle.  Until my late 30s I was unaware that my menstrual cycle could be straightforward and pain free.  I had always experienced extreme pain from cramping, dark blood and large clots.  I thought this was normal and just to be suffered.  It was eye opening to learn otherwise.  Seriously - this information should be taught to girls when they first menstruate instead of teaching them to self medicate with painkillers.

I started recording my basal body temperature each morning and learned I was still ovulating regularly.  I made changes to my (already pretty healthy) lifestyle to improve my cycle and the health of my eggs.  
  • I ate for fertility ensuring my diet was rich in nutritious foods.  On the advice of Emma Cannon's "The Baby Making Bible' introduced both red meat and home-made bone broth into my diet.  I started eating breakfast and cut out alcohol and sweets to promote stable blood sugar.  I bought a slow juicer and drank freshly made organic green juice every day.
  • Following the advice of Zita West and Marilyn Glenville, I took supplements (COQ10, Royal Jelly, Omega3, clover infusion, nettle tea, spirulina, maca, selenium) to improve my reproductive health.
  • I've never been one for cosmetics, but swapped my skincare products for olive oil soap and coconut oil as moisturiser to decrease my exposure to topical toxins.  I have to say my prone to eczema skin has never felt better.  
  • I stopped using the sauna and hot tub in the gym.  I can't remember why.
  • I was uncertain about acupuncture until I bought and read 'The Infertility Cure' by Randine Lewis.  I started seeing an acupuncturist and after only two treatments, my next period, for the first time in my life, was of the painless, bright red blood associated with fertile health.  I was thrilled to conceive Poppy the next time I ovulated after that.
  • I practiced meditation and yoga (as best I could) and fell asleep listening to the Circle and Bloom natural cycle fertility programme playing under my pillow every night.  
  • From a spiritual/energetic perspective I decided that if I wanted children in my life then I should have children in my life, so to that end I volunteered for the local cub scout troop each week.  I also made an effort to focus on creation and nurturing.  Starting a garden to nurture, inventing recipes to nourish, even starting this blog to foster and record my creative side.  
  • After my losses I sought massage to help my physically and emotionally process the grief.  I also consulted a hypnotherapist to identify and address any mind/body issues.
Of course with so many things, I don't know what, if anything, was the 'magic bullet'.  There is simply no way to tell.  It might be that after nearly five years of 'trying' it was just my time statistically.

On reflection, making an effort to do something (Anything. Everything!) to increase my odds gave me some sense of control and definitely helped my mental state.  Also taking good care of my body made me feel vital and healthy which also contributed to a better state of mind.

While I (probably like every other not-yet-pregnant woman) would be quite happy to throttle anyone who says 'maybe you should just relax', deep down I believe that, for me, (a bit of a workaholic), there may be an element of truth in it.  Not in taking a brief holiday, or not thinking about how to conceive, or anything cursory, but in consciously taking actions to de-stress my mind and body and prepare myself to be a mother as much as possible.

Ultimately, I believe not working and practicing extreme self-care gave me the opportunity to take a physical break and discover the mental space needed to slow down and allow a baby to come to me.

I am so grateful.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Microblog Mondays: Family resemblances

I look like my father. While I have my mothers facial shape, I have my fathers features and colouring.

Pickle is the spitting image of me, but with Mr Duncan's darker colouring.  I have black and white pictures of myself as a baby that could easily be mistaken for Pickle now.

When my mother was in the emergency room, hooked up to 5 drips and a heart machine, she kept arching back and craning her neck to try and read the monitor behind her (she used to be a nurse).

There was something about that movement.  In her determination to see.  In the curve of her neck, the set of her jaw... her vulnerability...  I saw my baby daughter.


Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Woe-is-me Wednesday

Warning: this is just one big rant.

I'm feeling sandwiched between the other generations.  Squashed completely.  No room to breathe.  For the past couple of weeks it feels like I've not had a moment to myself.  I missed Microblog Monday on the 3rd because I didn't even notice it was Monday until it was Tuesday already and other Microblog Monday posts appeared in my reader.  I missed Microblog Monday this week because of a medical emergency.  More on that later.

Pickle's teething and age appropriate development means she is being a little more demanding than usual.  Fine.  Thats to be expected.  She's adorable.

But there is nothing like a new baby to bring doting grandparents flocking to your door and despite the best laid plans I have three of them in Melbourne at the moment.

My mother.  She's been banging on about wanting to do a cruise in the Caribbean for a couple of years, having not left her rural hideaway in the north of New Zealand for twenty years.  Knowing that she'd hate a crowded floating hotel, I suggested before she invested the time and expense of getting to Florida, she try a three hour flight to Melbourne and a three day cruise between Melbourne and Tasmania.

She didn't want to wait until March for that particular cruise before meeting her granddaughter so we agree'd she'd come over for a week and I booked a two night paddlesteamer cruise on the Murray River for the four of us.  (That was great.  The boat only accommodated 18 people, so it was peaceful and relaxing.  Pickle loved it).

My mother turns up, complaining about the flight and how much walking you have to do at airports, on a one way ticket.  With tickets for a 16 day cruise around Australia.  From Sydney to Perth.  And tickets for a two night train journey from Perth to Adelaide.  She refuses to fly to Sydney.  So I sort out train tickets and accommodation for the night in Sydney, train tickets from Adelaide to Melbourne and a flight back to New Zealand.

It turns out the cruise left Sydney a week later than she thought it did, so she stayed with us an extra week.  Although she wound me up (she IS my mother) she was on her best behaviour, careful to blend into the background and allow the house to run normally, careful not to overstimulate Pickle and made an effort to contribute to the household - I'd turn around to do the dishes or fold the washing and find it already done.  She was a very considerate guest and it actually went much better than I expected.

Throughout my Mother's trip around Australia I received text messages on the phone she bought for the trip to keep in touch.  She hates the cruise.  Its too crowded.  The air conditioning is too cold.  The ship is too big, she keeps getting lost.  She's pissed off that they're charging for water.  She made the Indian Pacific train from Perth to Adelaide but got laryngitis.  The hotel in Adelaide wont let her check in (at 7am) so she's just sitting outside.  Now she has heatstroke but drinking lots of water and sleeping in her hotel room until she feels better.

**************

Mr Duncan's parents have come to visit Melbourne for a month.  Their plans?  Oh, no plans other than see their granddaughter.  They're staying in a hotel down the road.  Can they come around now?  They'll see me in ten minutes  ...and stay for the entire day.

Mr Duncan's mother and I have history.  When she first met me (and Mr Duncan and I were simply travel partners, not together) she threw a tantrum and forbade him to see me, (not that he was at the time).  Forbade her 30-something year old son!  Once we DID start seeing eachother she sent him text messages.  How much he disappointed her.  It was his fault she was depressed.  She might like to kill herself.  Over me!  Please.  I had little respect for that behaviour.  What the hell did she want for her son?

Since she learned he was not going to obey her, she started being fake-nice to me.  I'm not very good at that (or small talk), but it is important to me that Pickle has a relationship with her grandmother and I work hard to be cordial.  Its not easy.

Mr Duncan's mother is in Pickles face.  Loudly.  All the time.  Doesn't shut up. 'Ooh look at this, here's a nursery rhyme, look at this toy I'm waggling!  Aren't you a pretty girl'.  Poor Pickle gets quickly overstimulated.

Mr Duncan and his brother were mostly raised by his maternal grandmother.  His mother went back to work after six weeks and his maternal grandparents stayed and looked after the children Monday to Friday and went back home on weekends.  So I think she must have forgotten (or never have actually known) just how much time 5 month old babies need to sleep.  Pickle is ready for her first nap of the day after just an hour and starts rubbing her eyes and yawning after about 90 minutes the rest of the day.  'Do you have to put her down now?  You don't want to sleep do you Pickle?  Here look at this!'  Will she go down?  Hell no.

 As is usual for a baby Pickle's age, she's interested in the world and curious about anything new she sees or hears.  So she does not feed properly or happily go to sleep while she can hear their voices and knows they are here.  I have a tired, hungry, grumpy baby waking several times in the night for marathon feeds to make up for her light eating during the day.  She has black rings under her eyes.

Mr Duncan's father is a fairly laid back affable bloke, but when Pickle is sleeping Mr Duncan's mother seems to require an audience.  Not just any any audience though.  And not her son.  Just me.  "Lisa, I'm telling you about...  Lisa!  Lisa I'm talking to you".  I want to say "Well excuse me and f*ck off Mrs Duncan but my baby is waking from her nap and takes priority!"

I'm no wallflower and calmly but assertively set my boundaries.  The same boundaries are ignored when I leave the room.  Mr Duncan does not support them.  He has a lifetime of practice appeasing his mother in return for a quiet life.

Its driving me effing crazy.
**************

My mother is due to arrive back in Melbourne on the Monday evening and her flight is first thing Wednesday morning.  The respective grandparents want to meet each-other.  A lunch is agreed for Tuesday.

**************

Because her train into Melbourne arrives at Pickle's bedtime, Mr Duncan picks my Mother up from the train station and takes her to her accommodation.  The plan was that she'd check in, then come up the road to spend a couple of hours with us before going back to bed.

Mr Duncan arrives home alone.  He said my Mother didn't seem very well and would I go down and see her.  She's sitting having a cup of tea but has little voice and is very weak.  Not to worry, its the heatstroke, she's just a little dehydrated, she tells me.  She hated the cruise (predictably), it was too crowded, too expensive.  They charged for water.  Thats why she's dehydrated.

My mother is a diabetic.  I'm concerned.  She seems confused.  I don't know what to do.

I remember when my mother was diagnosed with insulin dependent diabetes.   I was about four.  I knew my numbers.  She asked me to dial some numbers on the old fashioned rotary dial phone so she could talk to her friend. She couldn't see the numbers.  Her blood sugar was too high and affected her eyesight.  Her friend came and took her to the hospital and she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (not the neurosis her doctor was prescribing valium for.  God love the '70s).

As I grew older I learned how to test her blood sugar levels with a prick of blood on a plastic stick to determine whether she needed insulin or glucose when I found her passed out on the floor at home.  This happened more often than I like to think.

I call the Australian equivalent of NHS Direct, the public health medical advice line.  They recommend I take her to the emergency room.  She protests but I take her anyway.

The upshot is that my mother was suffering from ketoacidosis.  This is where the blood sugar is so high, the blood turns acidic.  This can affect the function of all the major organs.  Her blood sugar was over 30.  It should be under 8.  At 2am she was transferred from my local hospital to the major one in town that had a specialist endocrinology team and an ICU.  

The paramedic in the ambulance who transferred her told me her numbers were so bad that if I hadn't taken her to the emergency room when I did, she'd probably have been dead by morning.  He said "next time, call an ambulance".

Mr Duncan defrosted expressed milk for Pickle for the overnight feeds.  I return at 6am for her morning feed, express some more milk, get 30 minutes sleep and go back to the hospital.  My mother is still critical, but seems to be stabilising.  Mr Duncan's mother is upset that he would prefer they don't come around today.

This morning I wake up, feed Pickle, express for her next feed, go to hospital.  I keep missing feeds and my supply seems to be dwindling.  I get home in the afternoon.  Pickle just woke from her nap and is not due for a feed for another hour but sees me and demands to be fed.  I'm happy to.  I've missed her.  She yawns and rubs her eyes as she feeds and falls asleep on the breast.  I hear Duncan's parents outside under the sunshade.  I put Pickle in her cot asleep, but she wakes a few minutes later and I cannot settle her.  Eventually I go outside to announce my presence and hand Pickle to her Dad so I can have a shower.

Mr Duncan's Mum says oh it must be difficult to have so many people making demands on you at the moment.  Its nice to think she's noticed.

But it seems she doesn't have the self-awareness to do anything about it as she asks what time I'll be ready for her to come over tomorrow.

Gah!



Monday, 27 October 2014

Microblog Mondays: Insidious thoughts

Over the years of trying to get pregnant and my two losses I sometimes had insidious thoughts, especially during the throes of disappointment after another fruitless two week wait.  Or over the weeks months of hopelessness and futility following a miscarriage.

The thoughts undermined my confidence, my positivity, my hope:

  • I shouldn't have thought/eaten/drank/worked so hard/flown/exercised/waited so long/done...
  • I don't deserve to be a mother
  • I shouldn't have invested so much time in work/travel/that relationship
  • I should have married that wrong-for-me boyfriend when I was younger.  We'd be divorced now, but at least we could have had a family before it was too late
  • I must have done something wrong... to displease the universe/in a past life
  • Babies don't want me to be their mother
  • I'm being punished for... any number of things I feel guilty about
  • Maybe I'm just not the mothering type... 
  • If only I had/hadn't...


I have always held a job with a lot of mental stimulation, responsibility, long hours and stressful deadlines.  Looking after and breastfeeding a baby is probably the most physically demanding and socially isolated work I've ever done.  It is non-stop though doesn't keep my mind particularly occupied.

I know I am lucky to have a baby, and such a contented one.  After five months of interrupted sleep and a few hard weeks with Pickle feeling her teeth coming through, I am tired and find my mind churning:

  • I'm no good at this, it comes to real mothers naturally
  • No wonder it was so hard to get pregnant, I'm not cut out to be a mother
  • I love my baby but I'm not all in love and mushy like, the other mothers.  Maybe there is something wrong with me
  • A real mother would...

I recognise these thoughts as products of my tiredness but they feel so very familiar.


Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Microblog Mondays

This is my hundredth post.

I wanted my hundredth post to be something substantial. Meaningful even.  But I haven't completed any of the half dozen or so drafts I've made over the past two months.

Pickle is still learning to overcome the 40 minute nap.  I don't seem to have learned to blog in that amount of time.  I thought I'd better get back on the horse before I forgot how to ride.

I remember reading someone recommending (probably Mel) not starting a new draft until you complete and publish your existing one.  I'd better start taking that advice.

In the meantime, thank goodness for Microblog Mondays.

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Sweatshirt Sleep-sack

Ted modelling the new sleep-sack
I've been looking at sleep-sack tutorials as, now that she's getting bigger, Pickle wriggles out of her swaddles and I want her to be able to sleep in the middle of her cot rather than at the very end to make it easier to lift her for night feeds. The plan is to use her existing wraps as fabric for a sleep-sack.  I've taken a quick pattern from a friends sleep-sack with a side zip that I like but need to find some proper time to put it together.


In the meantime I managed to whip one out of a sweatshirt during a longer-than-usual nap time.  I bought the sweatshirt from the charity shop for the heavyweight soft 100% cotton and didn't realise the it had a dead bird on it until after I got it home.  Mr Duncan informs me it is something to do with a band I think I've heard of, but can't think of any of their songs.  I'm really starting to feel old now when it comes to popular music.


Before
During

In any case its based on this tutorial here.  I used velcro rather than snaps as I had the roll I bought for the baby gym and I was going to use bias binding for the edges rather than zigzag but ended up hemming it all instead, which made the neck and arms a little larger than I intended.  Other than that, I'm really happy with it and might keep my eyes out for some other suitable sweatshirts to make more for when Pickle gets bigger.  I like making things for her, and the less I spend on such things, the longer I can go without having to get a new job...

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Freezer food

Here is an unpublished post I discovered from back when I was preparing for baby to arrive...

_______________________________________________________________

ready to freeze
In response to Marcy's comment, here is a list of the meals I've been stashing away in the freezer for those first few weeks of newborn haze.  They're pretty much all meals I've blogged before.

Bacon & Egg Pie - This can be reheated in the oven from frozen or simply thawed on the counter and served cold/room temperature.  An easy breakfast (although I *do* prefer them fresh).

Spanokopita - Bake this from frozen at approx 180C for about 45 minutes.

Chili with cornbread.  I made a super-sized batch of chilli and simply spooned chilli into small, foil lined casserole dishes (I probably should have bought some foil ones at the supermarket), and smoothed cornbread batter evenly over the top.  Then I folded down the foil and froze.  Once completely frozen I tipped them out of the casserole dishes and wrapped in more foil and returned to the freezer.  I'll unwrap, return to casserole dish and bake from frozen, loosely covered with foil at 180C until I can see that the chilli is heated through then I'll remove the foil and raise the temperature to 200C until the cornbread is nicely baked.  Actually I wont.  That will be Mr Duncan's job.

Risotto - I'm making double sized portions then freezing as described above. Same re-heating method too.

Soup, soup, soup made with home made chicken stock.  Just tip frozen block into a saucepan and thaw/re-heat over a low flame.

Falafels and pita bread.  I made about 60.  Simply microwave three or four falafels each from frozen and pop the frozen pita into the toaster.  Stuff with salad and a dollop of yoghurt.

Sausage/Bean casseroles along these lines

Quiche.  Easy to make from whatever veg or leftovers are in the fridge.  Freezes well and just as nice to eat hot or cold.  Best thing is can be eaten one handed while juggling a newborn.

Pate (and this one).  Freeze in small portions and just thaw overnight in the fridge.  Full of iron and protein and makes a quick breakfast smeared on toast. Also a one handed kind of meal.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Co-sleeping arrangements

I have been meaning to do a post on this as it took me quite some time and strategic googling to find the information I wanted when I was pregnant and trying to figure it all out.  In the meantime I wrote about it for a friend so here is a copy of the bulk of that email in lieu of a proper post. :-)



I looked at the sidecar cribs such as the Arms Length, but my research showed people complained that their little ones grew out of them too early.  And they're expensive in Australia.  We decided against the things that go between you both in the bed like the Snuggle bed as a) ours is a double and b) Mr Duncan is an 'oblivious to the world' sleeper - also they become too small quickly.

We finally decided to sidecar a cot after looking at lots of blogs etc.  I mainly went from the info on this site http://www.freewebs.com/sidecarcrib/ but I found a few other website and remember there was an ikeahacks tutorial somewhere too.

We bought a cheapie IKEA cot/toddler bed (so it would be stable with only three sides) and removed the side, but kept the height at the highest level.  The cot mattress is mashed into the side of our bed and we have jammed a cut down pool noodle on the far side to keep the mattress from moving and prevent any gap.  The noodle fits inside the fitted sheet along with the actual cot mattress.

We have the cot sitting on some old phone books to bring it up in height a bit but it is still a few cm lower than our bed.  Because they say you should sleep babies with their feet at the bottom of the cot Pickle sleeps by my head, facing the other way to me, but its really easy to pick her up and slide her across for feeds/more burps/cuddles.

As she's getting heavier to pick up I plan to make some sleep sacks soon to keep her warm and then she can sleep facing the same way as me and I can just slide her across for feeds without having to worry about blanket safety.

Most of the examples I found on the internet sandwiched the cot between the bed and the wall.  We have attached the cot to the bed with bungy cords underneath which is better for us because it means we have access to the cot without having to go via the bed.  Much more convenient for nap times, a bit tricky for bed-making.  I also bought a couple of over door baskets to hang off the cot to hold toys/books/burp cloths etc. While she is still swaddled and not moving I am basically using the other end of her cot as a bedside table - thats where my glasses, phone etc go at night.

For the first four weeks it was difficult for me to sit up or turn in bed due to the c-section, so Mr Duncan slept next to Pickle and handed her to me for feeds and put her back down/settled her.  That was a bit tricky, Mr Duncan is a very heavy sleeper so I'd have to go through a big drama just to wake him to get her up, even if she was crying.  He also falls asleep really fast (frequently mid-sentence) and I found both of them slumped together fast asleep a couple of times where he'd fallen asleep halfway through the passing her back manoeuvre.  At least she has his sleep skills!  We have now swapped sides again.  It is so good to be able to see her and listen to her breathe (I'm still having 'is she still alive' paranoias) although man, babies can be noisy sleepers!

I'm really happy with our choice as it gives the co-sleeping benefits and minimises the risks.  We wont need to transition her to a cot later and when she's a bit bigger we'll replace the side and move the cot to the other side of the room before moving her to her own room once she's no longer breastfeeding through the night (timing undecided, I *want* to bfeed her for as long as possible but also bfeeding is contraceptive and time is not on our side for any sibling conception).

Here is a link on safe co-sleeping - http://cosleeping.nd.edu/safe-co-sleeping-guidelines/


Friday, 25 July 2014

Two minute DIY baby gym

Pickle barely spends more than 15 minutes 'playing' after being fed and burped
and when she's not practicing her head control in 'tummy time' on the old fashioned mat I found at the local charity shop, her favourite game is copying faces.

Popular wisdom suggests she is now approaching the developmental stage that spending some time under a baby gym swatting at interesting objects would be of benefit for a few months.

I'm not a huge fan of the commercial toys available for babies - they're expensive, yes, but the marketing of children's characters and screaming "look-at-me-now" colours just rub me the wrong way.  Yes, I understand the benefit of bright colours for babies but seriously, some of these mats give me a headache just looking at the pictures.

I do like the Montessori idea of using everyday objects to learn from so I decided to make my own baby gym so I could hang whatever I want from it.  I picked up a couple of hula-hoops from the local pound/dollar/random tat store, some adhesive velcro and string.

I simply removed the plastic do-hickey holding the two ends of the hula-hoop pipe together (the ends were easily found under the 'made in china sticker) and used the hooks part of the adhesive velcro to tape them together.  I then added a couple of other bits of adhesive velcro to the top so I can secure various object hanging from string and easily remove/replace them.  Place it over the upside down tummy time mat and voila!

a purse, sock and slinky


Its pretty basic and wondered what other people had done, so googled tutorials. They all put my effort to shame - but I have neither the time nor inclination to improve it at the moment.  It works, and it wont be used for that long but if I change my mind and decide to make a more finished effort, or make one as a gift, I like this one the best.  

Friday, 18 July 2014

Coming up for air at 8 weeks...

Out and about in our stretchy wrap
The past 8 weeks have passed in a blur of feeding, burping, settling and weighing wee Pickle.  I feel like I haven't had a minute to collect my thoughts much less write and publish them, so I'm in awe of some of the ALI bloggers I follow who have become new mamas and managed to keep up with their posting.  My hat is off to you.

I also would like to send my congratulations and understanding to those who have decided to close their blogs now their little ones are here.  I'll miss your voices and wish you all the best.

I expect to continue to blog intermittently about things I create (probably things for Pickle), and in time perhaps, our efforts to give Pickle a sibling.  We'd prefer Pickle not to be an only child, however I am very aware my chances decrease with every day I age and just because I beat the odds once doesn't mean I can do it again.  Of course it doesn't mean I can't either but I'm not sure I could go through another loss or so in the process.  The point is moot for now as I'm unlikely to become pregnant anyway while I breastfeed Pickle.

My high nutrition diet has gone a bit awry since Pickle's birth too so that is not going to help my fertility.  While we ate all the food I had stashed in my freezer the first few weeks, I dropped the baby weight almost immediately and am now struggling to keep up the calorie intake required for breastfeeding a hungry baby without resorting to quick solutions like pasta bakes and various things on toast. 

I had planned on spending the first four weeks at home working on getting to know each other and figuring out a rhythm.  It feels like I spent the first six weeks running around to appointments: scheduled maternal and child health nurse appointments, weighings every three days, lactation consultants, hearing test, hip ultrasound (due to breech).  I am relieved to say we've finally settled into a bit of a rhythm in the last week or so.

I finally managed to complete and submit my somewhat garbled essay by the deadline by having Mr Duncan have her (bringing her to me for feedings) for a weekend.  As my friends kept reminding me, it needed to be submitted on time, it didn't need to be good.  Hopefully its good enough and I get the continuing education credits.

A quick summary of posts I've meant to write about in the last 8 weeks:
  • Breastfeeding - I was concerned about not having early skin to skin and baby led breastfeeding with a c-section and found breastfeeding very difficult.  The three days I spent in hospital Pickle wouldn't latch, despite various midwives grabbing my breasts and shoving them at her tiny mouth which I found extremely unhelpful.  I managed to express good amounts of colostrum and feed it to her in a syringe.  Once my milk came in Pickle would sort of latch and then immediately fall asleep.

    By the time of our two week visit she'd lost the weight she'd gained since birth and the maternal health nurse strongly suggested supplementing with formula.  I convinced her to agree to my supplementing with expressed breast milk and she recommended we hire an electric pump at considerable expense and feed Pickle for only five minutes a side before expressing and giving her the expressed milk from a bottle.  Bad idea.  Poor Pickle wouldn't take my milk from a bottle and ended up starving with horrible tummy pains from too much foremilk.  After two days of pumping and lots of internet research I took the executive decision to ignore the health nurse advice and return to our sleepy feeds and I'm pleased to say that at 8 weeks she is now a 3.9kg (8 pounds, 9oz).  We still don't have a great latch and she gulps down way too much air, which causes its own set of problems, but breastfeeding is no longer painful and Pickle is clearly getting enough to eat now.  So that will have to do.
  • I had been reading about elimination communication/natural infant hygiene  while I was pregnant.  It made sense to me that babies instinctively don't want to sit in their own mess and it is a common practise in other cultures - I remember seeing Mothers hold out their babies when we were driving through Africa.  I was considering trying it when Pickle was 3 or 4 months old, however at five weeks she began peeing on the changing mat each time her nappy was taken off so we started holding her over a tiny potty at each change.  I can now tell when she wants to go about 80% of the time and very seldom need to change a dirty nappy (she makes an unmistakeable set of noises to indicate she needs to go prior), although there are still wet ones.  Pickle hilariously loves sitting perched upon her tiny throne and the posture really helps her pass gas and ease her tummy pains.  We'll see how it goes as she gets older and more active...
L.
x

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Essay 60%, baby 100% complete.

After scheduling a c-section for breech presentation for next Tuesday morning, my waters gushed at 9pm last night at 38 weeks, 5 days.  Baby was delivered at 00.21 on the 21st May by emergency C - just in time for my 43rd birthday tomorrow!

She's a wee 2.6kg (about 6 lbs) but perfectly formed and extremely placid (so far).

Her tiny rosebud mouth is causing some problems with latching on to the breast so I've been expressing colostrum which she takes through a syringe..

Early days...

L. x

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Fewer posts, no comments?

I follow many blogs in my reader and have noticed over the past few weeks several posts suggesting people are not posting or commenting as much as before.  This may be because the community is changing as we reach different milestones in our journeys or it may be that blog commenting is dying out.

I will admit to being guilty as charged with regard to posting and commenting.

The main reason for this is that I have an essay due.

I attended a continuing education course last July and need to submit a final essay within a year in order to be awarded the credits.  Since attending the course we have moved to another country and I have been lucky enough to become pregnant again.  

At first I wasn't doing the essay because I was organising our move from the UK to Australia.  
Then I wasn't doing the essay because all the books I needed to read and reference in the essay were being shipped.  
Then our stuff turned up and I wasn't doing it because I was lazy tired all the time.

Now I really need to do it before the baby comes as I cannot imagine I'll have the time or headspace to get the reading done and the essay written with a newborn around.  

I've banned myself from blogging, reading for fun or getting carried away with cooking until my essay is submitted.  So I've stopped getting books out of the library on pregnancy, birth and parenthood and have been spending my time reading reference books and taking notes.  Sigh.

In my less disciplined moments I am continuing to share your ups and downs by at least skimming through most of the blogs I follow via my reader (don't tell Lisa), but without engaging with your blogs via comments you wouldn't know that.    

I hope to allow myself to get back to normal posting and commenting once the essay is done, but by then said newborn may be here and I have no idea what sort of hurricane that will be, so I'm not promising anything.

Wishing the very best to each and every one of you and hope to engage with you on your blogs again in the not-so-far future.

L.
x

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Rollercoasting

I had my checkup today and the doctor was concerned because the fundus measurement was only 32 cm and I hadn't gained any weight for four weeks.

Well, it didn't seem like I'd gained any weight since my weight measurement was the same as my first visit to the new hospital when the midwives were concerned about my 10kg weight gain over the course of my pregnancy to that point.  I did notice my belly seemed to have moved down a bit a few days ago, but at nearly 35 weeks was hoping Pickle was starting to think about dropping into position for birth.

Anyway, I was referred for an ultrasound for suspected IUGR.

IUGR stands for Inter Uterine Growth Restriction (or Retardation depending on who you ask).  It means the baby is not growing as expected for dates.  This could be due to issues with the baby (eg genetic), issues with the mother (eg poor nutrition, drugs) or issues with the gestation (eg failing placenta, blood restriction).

After re-confirming my age and the fact that I had not had the usual 12 week genetic screening, the doctor referred me to a private clinic because the hospital ultrasound department was overbooked.  The ultrasound was precautionary to see if the baby was indeed not growing and check for gestational issues.  If there were issues I would likely be asked to immediately return to the hospital for an induction.

What?

Gah!  Not what I want at all.

I was lucky the private clinic could fit me in this afternoon so only had a few hours to stress about it.  It turns out that everything is fine with Pickle, in fact measurements taken during the ultrasound show Pickle is actually a tiny bit larger than average (60th percentile).  Whew.

(Now I REALLY think that the scales the midwives used to weigh me at that first visit were incorrectly calibrated.)

However the reason the fundus measured small is that Pickle has turned from the vertex (head down) position noted at my last appointment two weeks ago to a transverse (sideways) position, with the head to my left not far above my belly button and the legs up by the face, so the top of the uterus has dropped and I have bits of baby sticking out my sides.  Comfy.

Not.

I was just coming down from the adrenaline rush of worry about Pickle's size when the obstetrician manning the ultrasound casually mentioned in closing that transverse babies seldom move into position and I'll require a caesarian section at 39 weeks.

Gah!  Not what I want at all.  Re-trigger adrenaline.

My next point of call is a site I came across when I was looking for birthing ball exercises called Spinning Babies.

And breathe...

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Adventures in homemade yoghurt

Over the last several weeks I've been experimenting with making yoghurt in a desire to satisfy my dairy cravings in a healthy manner.

I was inspired by the extremely straightforward recipe for doing so in the Nourishing Traditions recipe book which basically tells you to

  • Heat a litre of milk to 180f
  • Let it cool to 110f
  • Gently stir in about half a cup of existing yoghurt to use as a starter
  • Cover and let it sit somewhere warm overnight
  • Refrigerate and enjoy
After a quick trip to the housewares shop to buy a thermometer I gave it a go using pasteurised but non-homogenised whole milk and greek yoghurt that we had in the fridge.  

I was a bit unsure about where to leave it that would be warm enough.  I remember my mother keeping yoghurt in the hot water cupboard, but we don't have one.  After heating the milk in a saucepan and stirring in the culture, I ended up transferring it into a lidded casserole dish which I left in the oven to get warm while I pre-heated the oven to about 100C.  I then turned the oven off but left the casserole dish in overnight for the yoghurt to stay warm.

It worked okay and I thought the result was pretty good for my first try, although I seemed to make a lot of dishes. 

Homemade yoghurt is somewhat runnier than commercial yoghurt and Mr Duncan likes his yoghurt thick and creamy so I drained it in a cheesecloth-lined sieve, reserving the whey for use in other things.

Straining the yoghurt to get the whey


So far so good.

So then I tried making a second batch of yoghurt using some of my first batch as the starter.

This time I heated (and cooled) the milk in the casserole dish and put the lot in the preheated oven but the resulting "yoghurt" was too thin and drained right through the sieve/cheesecloth!

Unmitigated disaster.

I ended up churning it in the ice-cream maker with the mushed up fruit and juice of half a tin of peaches and a bit of cream, which was worthwhile.

Peach yoghurt ice-cream

I had no idea if the failure to thicken was to do with the relative thinness of the starter or if the yoghurt simply wasn't warm for long enough for the cultures to grow so I turned to Google for help.

My new way of making yoghurt follows this tutorial.

I like that the yoghurt is made in the jars it will be stored in and that there are fewer dishes.

Heating the milk
I leave the yoghurt to culture in a homemade haybox overnight.  The longer it sits, the more tangy it tastes and the more lactose is consumed by the bacteria, but if you leave it too long run the risk of the bacteria running out of lactose and dying off.  Which still makes for tangy tasting yoghurt, but without the benefit of live cultures.

My 'haybox'

My first batch made using the new method turned out nice and thick, so thick I didn't think it would drain well through the sieve and I upturned the jar over my bamboo steamer.
A straining mistake
A good plan in theory but in practice all of the whey floated to the top of the yoghurt I was trying to drain.  Then, when I tried angling the jar a little to allow some air for the whey to drain through, the weight of the lid overbalanced the whole shebang and I had yoghurt everywhere.  Gah!

I've now bought a much finer strainer as recommended at Salad In a Jar which I'll use to strain tonight's batch.

To be honest, the quality and price of yoghurt where we live in Australia doesn't really merit the effort to make my own.  It costs about $6.00 for 1 kg of good quality probiotic yoghurt (we like the Jalna and Bornhoffen brands) and nearly $6.00 for the two litres of milk I need to make that much greek-style yoghurt.  It doesn't taste any better although I do like knowing that its made with fresh, local, whole milk.

So why continue to make my own?

I have developed a taste for Fruit Kvass which I will write about in my next post...

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

No sense of humour

I don't normally have a problem with Facebook.  Given I've lived in four different countries over the past 15 years, it allows me glimpses into the lives of friends who I simply don't keep up with on a regular basis.  It makes me feel connected to them and when we do get in touch we don't have years of catchup to do and can pretty much pick up where we left off.

But what is it about April Fools Day that brings out all the fake pregnancy announcements on Facebook?

And why are they always made by people who already have more than one healthy child that they had no problems conceiving?

Last year a close friend indulged in this April Fools "prank".  I was newly pregnant with Pipkin and thrilled for her news - we were due to deliver within days of each other!  How exciting!  I was just about to email her my news when she copped to her 'joke' and made comments about how impossible it would be to have more children at her age.

My age.

That kinda hurt.  And it hurt more when I lost Pipkin several weeks later.  My thoughts kept returning to her beliefs re age and the seeming impossibility of what I was trying to achieve.  And she was one of the people I would have reached out to for support during my miscarriage.  Was.

This year I thought I escaped such nonsense having encountered none before I went to bed last night but I forgot about the time difference and woke to three such announcements in my newsfeed this morning from the UK and US contingents.

Gah!

There are some things about which I have no sense of humour at all.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Hospital Update

Cooking up a storm for the freezer
I cannot believe how quickly time has been passing. I've added a couple of days volunteer work to my schedule and between those and my frequent naps I've been reading and cooking, but not so much writing or commenting.  I have some catching up to do.

I had my compulsory booking appointment with the new, local, hospital last week.  I'd booked a taxi in advance but when I called to enquire as to it's whereabouts when it was ten minutes late, I was told I was sixth in line and it would likely be another half hour?  So much for advance booking.  So I called the hospital to try to reschedule the appointment and was told they'd send out a letter with another appointment time in about three weeks.

Three weeks!  I explained that I was 30 weeks pregnant not the usual ten weeks they'd expect at a booking appointment and would it be possible to see someone earlier?  They took my number.

I was very lucky that they found me another appointment that afternoon and I made it to the midwives clinic on time despite the best efforts of the public transport system. In theory its only three stops on the train and a five minute bus ride, but the trains come three times and hour and the buses only once an hour so a bit of coordination is required.

I was seen by a final year midwife student supervised by a senior midwife who covered all the same stuff covered in my three booking appointments in the UK and the appointment at the Royal Women's. Yes I know about smoking and drinking and eating nutritiously and why the recommend breastfeeding over bottle feeding etc.  Thanks for all the brochures etc again.

Despite my being told that the staff at the local hospital would have access to my records on the same hospital system before I transferred, they did not. They just had the handheld notes.  The senior midwife had to call the other hospital to get all the clinical notes faxed over, much to her annoyance.

They weighed me - according to their scales I've put on 10kg since I conceived - and cautioned I was putting on too much weight. That surprised me a little since I wasn't putting on enough early on. Yes, I have been craving dairy (more on that in a future post) but mostly eating the same as usual. The senior midwife said the dairy was good and to keep with it, but make sure it was low fat and be careful about what else I ate. Consuming low fat anything is pretty much on the opposite end of the spectrum of healthy eating from my perspective so I just nodded and kept my mouth shut.

It did bother me to think that I was putting on too much weight so when I got home I spent some time with Dr Google and given my starting BMI 10kg is within the healthy range for weight gain for the start of the third trimester. Maybe they forgot I was 30 weeks already..?  I went out and bought my own scales so I can keep an eye on it and weighed in 3kg under their measurement.  Of course I don't know whose scales are wrongly calibrated.  Whatever, I'll just watch my weight gain irrespective of the actual number.

They measured me - the fundus was 29cm which is right on target.

They took my blood pressure - which was normal, but high for me.  I had Mr Duncan take it again a few days later (with the fancy blood pressure monitor he bought while trying to get the Australian visa) and it was back down to normal-for-me.  So maybe I was just a bit stressed out what with the taxi debacle and new hospital and everything.

They did not test a urine sample which surprised me.  So far I've only given one and that was after my very first appointment with a doctor here, they took blood and urine.  In the UK the NHS has you bring your own urine sample from home to every appointment.  At my hospital they had a big box of specimen jars sitting on reception for you to take from for your next appointment.

They sent me for a blood test to verify blood type.  Now apart from the fact that I was issued with dog tags at birth with my blood type imprinted on (don't know if they still do that in Sweden), and have known since I was tiny what it is and told them, and the fact it had my blood type written in the handheld notes from the other hospital, they said I had to get a blood test to determine my blood type.  Why?   I didn't understand.  Blood type doesn't change with age!  Hospital policy it seems.  No wonder medical care costs so much if they have to keep re-ordering unnecessary tests due to 'policy'.  I did mention my iron count was traditionally quite low so they ordered a haemoglobin test as well.

That was worth giving a vial of blood for.  My reserves are depleted (they were okay when tested back in November) so I'm back on the Floradix, beet juice and home made liver pate.  I tried a mushroom version this time.  Yum!

Although I faxed off the booking and payment details for the childbirth education classes over a month prior, it seemed they had no record of me and wouldn't be able to fit me in to a class until August.  A bit late, methinks, given I'm due in barely eight weeks.  Fortunately I held off cancelling the classes booked at the Royal Women's until I had new classes confirmed, so I'll attend those instead.  Given I'd miss out on the tour provided as part of their childbirth education classes, the midwife sent me off with the student midwife for a quick look at the birth facilities, so I know where to come on the day.  Gulp.

They have four birthing rooms, three of which have a private bathroom/shower, and a separate room with a birthing pool.  The rooms are all very clinical though, full of wires and monitors - quite scary looking.  If we were still in London, I'd opt for a home-birth but I don't think I get that option here, since I was a) so late on the scene and missed out on the midwife care scheme by months so I'm under the care of an obstetrician (who I have yet to meet) and b) am considered high risk due to my age.

I'm not exactly brimming with confidence at this point.

If I want a birth without medical intervention, I need to spend my time focusing on being calm and relaxed and not allow the whole medical side of things to intimidate me and create feelings of fear or anxiety.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Fear

With my first pregnancy I was a bit anxious because it was all a new experience but innocent enough to believe things would probably be fine until it all went downhill at ten weeks.

With my second pregnancy I was hyper-vigilant.  I worried and over-analysed every symptom until we passed 14 weeks gestation.  Now that we were out of the first trimester surely it was safe to hope everything would be okay.  I had three whole days of relative peace-of-mind before things went downhill again.

This time I have every reason to believe the pregnancy will go to term - we're now more than 75% of the way there.  I'm healthy and growing and gaining weight as expected.

But that is just in my head.  In my heart is fear.

I know that babies can still die in utero in the third trimester.  Some babies are stillborn.  And some babies die due to birth complications.

Upon waking every morning the first thing I do is check for movement.  Most often there is none and the cold fingers of fear start to crawl up my spine.  Pickle seems not to be a morning person, preferring to save the major acrobatics for when I'm trying to fall asleep at night.  I know this in my head, but still the nightmare scenarios play through my mind until I first feel movement later in the day.

All I can do is treat myself well and hope for the best.  It is much more difficult than I would have believed.

There are no guarantees.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Tiger Towel

As modelled by my kitchen chair
I went to buy baby clothes for Pickle the other day.

I found it totally overwhelming.

Even outside the pink/blue themes there was lots of choice and despite my careful research, once in the store I had no idea about quality or price or anything.  I came home with just a couple of onesies and a big headache. 

I complained to Mr Duncan that I really just needed to inherit a big bag of baby stuff so I didn't need to make so many decisions.  

Lo and behold I was visiting one of my few Melbourne friends the other day and she mentioned she'd recently been through the wardrobes of both her little ones' and I should go up to the spare room and feel free to help myself to anything I wanted.

I love it when you put something out to the universe and it answers like that.  I went home with a bag full of gender neutral stuff in newborn and 000 sizes along with a few pieces of 00 and 0 stuff for the future.

Newborn clothes ready to go
The next day I came across some high quality Egyptian cotton towels on sale and I thought I'd make a hooded towel for my friend's two year old as a thank you for the baby clothes.

I first came across these cute hooded towels when I was pregnant with Poppy and working from home - I had lots of time to surf the internet for baby things to sew while waiting for people to join conference calls.  I couldn't imagine making one for when Pickle is born, but they seem perfect for a toddler to exercise their imagination in.

The instructions are good and I'm very happy with the end result, but I encountered a few issues along the way.  If you decide to make one of these, don't make the same mistakes I did...

The bath towel I bought was 640gsm and because there were no matching hand towels left on sale in the same colour I bought a bath mat instead which was 1050 gsm.  Most luxurious, but next time I will use thinner towels.

While the size of the bath mat was fine, the thickness caused me no end of problems with the sewing machine.  My needle kept getting gummy and skipping stitches when sewing the pupils of the eyes, the nose and whiskers.  I guess two layers of heat and bond was a bit much.  Next time I'd sew those bits onto the white fabric before sewing the fabric onto the towel.  I also had problems with the feed dogs due to the thickness of the towel when satin stitching the face bits and had to stitch backwards and forwards again and again.  It turned out the satin stitch worked best for me when I used the reverse functionality - though sewing circles backward was a bit tricky.

As for putting the face together... my sewing machine foot just would not accommodate so many thicknesses of towel, so I ended up hand sewing on the ears and muzzle using a darning needle.

I can't wait to give it to my friend's two year old and see what she makes of it!


Monday, 10 March 2014

Mediterranean Dinner Party

I invited friends to dinner on Thursday night.  Our first dinner guests - actually our first guests - since moving in six weeks ago.  Unbeknownst to me, my invitation coincided with the local power company's plan to replace all the electricity meters in the neighbourhood.  Of course it did.

'It will take two hours, tops' said the nice power company man as he came by to say the power would be turned off in ten minutes.  That was at 11am.  By 2pm they had discovered the power in our rental property was not earthed and they 'could not in good conscience' return power to the property while it was a death trap unsafe.  Fair enough.  They wrote us an official defect report and said we needed to get an electrician out to repair it asap.

We called the property manager to authorise/arrange an electrician only to find that our property manager no longer works for the company and they haven't allocated anyone new to her properties. Nice one.  We eventually got an electrician who couldn't find any earthing wires to the water pipes to be repaired and speculated that they were removed when the property was re-plumbed, sometime in the past, and most of the metal water pipes were replaced with plastic ones.  The issue became locating an appropriate pipe to run a new earthing wire to.  So the electrician had to call someone out to drill holes and climb around the roof so they could run the new earthing wire across the length of the house.  That was complete by 4.30pm.  But the power company employees finished work at 4.00pm so we needed to get an after hours team to inspect the repair, rescind the defect notice and turn the power back on.

The power was finally returned just after 6.30pm.  Our guests were due at 7.00pm.

Our friends are vegetarian and I had planned a Mediterranean menu - mostly Greek versions of dishes inspired by this cool book I took out from the library - A La Grecque: Our Greek Table.  I don't usually do much baking, but had intended to bake a fresh spinach and feta pie and bake some bread to go with dips and salads.

By the time our guests arrived, the amended menu was

  • Mediterranean dips - hummous, tzatsiki, melazanasalat (see below)
  • Toasted pita bread - Mr Duncan ran out for some from the supermarket, to substitute for the homemade turkish flat bread I had planned to make from my library book.  I'll have to take a photo of that recipe for future experiments.
  • Spanakopita (reheated from the freezer)
  • Sweet potato, feta and basil salad - The gas was still on but the ignition spark on the stove is electricity dependent.  Once I found some matches to light it, I was able to boil the sweet potato instead of roasting.
  • Fattoush salad

So it all worked out in the end but I was in such a flap I totally forgot to take any photos.

Tzatsiki
This is a simple mix of chopped cucumber, mint and garlic stirred into yoghurt that I've made for years, but I followed the library book recipe method and made it the Greek way by

  1. straining the yoghurt to make it thicker (don't forget to save the whey and use it for other things
  2. removing the seeds from the cucumber before slicing and draining the chopped cucumber, sprinkled with a little salt in a colander for a few minutes before mixing into the yoghurt.
  3. mixing a little extra virgin olive oil into the finished product
These changes made for a much thicker, luxurious texture which really complimented the pie (and also went well with some grilled lamb chops the next day).

Melizanosalata
This was Mr Duncan's favourite dip when we were in Greece.  It is made with grilled eggplant.  I threw it and the hummous together in the 30 minutes between the power coming back on and our guests arriving.

Ingredients

  • Eggplant
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Lemon
  • Parsley

Method
Slice the eggplant.  Place slices on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and drizzle with olive oil.  Grill under a high heat for approx 5 minutes either side until soft and slightly charred.

Mash eggplant in a bowl with remaining ingredients.  Blend until desired consistency reached.  If you like you can fold in some crumbled feta cheese.

Friday, 7 March 2014

All-purpose pillow

While I consider this pregnancy to have been fairly 'easy' on me so far (not that I have anything to compare it to), I have been experiencing hip pain and heartburn at night.

Looking at the long and intimidating list of items to purchase in preparation for your new arrival I noted one said 'nursing pillow' and wondered what that was.

It turns out it is a horseshoe-shaped pillow that you can rest the baby on to nurse, thus bringing the baby up to a more comfortable height and saving your arms.  I also read on a message board somewhere that I could use a nursing pillow during pregnancy, to help with my discomforts at night.

The Boppy Pillow seemed to be the go-to product, but I also read complaints in the forums that it wasn't firm/high/wide enough for various peoples tastes.  I found a great, easy to follow tutorial for a similar nursing pillow that would be firmer and higher and decided I would alter it a little to make it wider so it would fit around Mr Duncan's waist too.

I went down to the local charity shop in search of fabric and came across a bonanza.  They were having a half price sale.  Not only did I find a tablecloth made out of a sturdy cotton fabric to use but I came across a pillow stuffed with hypoallergenic filling I could use and another bag of craft filling - all for the princely sum of $3.00.

Textile filling

( And a black leather ottoman for $2.50 that matches our black leather couches from Mr Duncan's bachelor days. )

I could use a good footrest

After I got the tablecloth home I was a bit reluctant to cut it up - it really is quite pretty, with blue and white checks.  When I measured up the fabric needed for the pillow it left me with half of the tablecloth - which happens to be just big enough to fit our table.  So I'm going with the best of both worlds and saving half to use as a tablecloth.  For now.

When I placed the pattern on the folded fabric, I added a half an inch up to the fold to make it that little bit larger to accommodate Mr Duncan's girth.






I need to find some fabric to make slip covers (I'm thinking one side soft and fuzzy and the other side cotton or flannel).  I also think I'll make a couple of slipcovers in the original 'Boppy' shape to bring the two ends closer together in the middle, like a ring, so it could be used for propping up baby or tummy time when the time comes.

In the meantime I've squeezed it into a normal pillow case to keep it clean and in the past two days have used it

  • to sleep on - with my hip in the hollow and my belly resting on the back to take the pressure off 
  • to sleep against - with my back propped up against it and another pillow on top for my head to stop the heartburn rising up
  • to rest my laptop on my legs
  • to support my lumbar back while sitting on the couch
  • as an armrest to lean against

I'm sure it will come in useful when the baby comes, but I can't believe I haven't been using one of these for years!

Monday, 3 March 2014

Sweet things and hospitals

I've never had a very sweet tooth.  While I like the odd chunk of dark chocolate or creamy desert (mmm custard), you won't find me salivating over rich cakes or sugary treats.  I had a milkshake the other day that was too sweet for me to drink.  Even a handful of dried fruit or more than one Christmas mince pie at a time sees me break out in a hot flush.  I start sweating under my eyes and craving water.  Not long afterwards my brain goes all fuzzy and I start feeling nauseous and faint.  I prefer to keep my blood sugar levels stable.  This might be because my Mother was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in her early thirties so I was raised on a diabetes appropriate diet with balanced amounts of carbs, proteins and fresh veg for every meal.

It was for this reason, not because I thought I might actually have Gestational Diabetes, that I was dreading the Glucose Challenge Test at the hospital this week.  It went better than I expected.  The drink itself didn't taste that bad - just like super-sweet 7 Up. But it was a challenge forcing the whole 300 mls down in only five minutes.

I did get all hot and sweaty and then felt headachy and sick, but I was allowed to drink water, so I drank about two litres and that helped.  I also elected to just sit in the waiting room for the entire hour until the blood test was due, to avoid any risk of passing out.  My doctor had suggested I bring a protein snack with me to eat immediately after the test was complete, to help stabilise my blood sugar levels, so I had a cheese sandwich before attempting to leave the hospital and brave road-crossing and public transport.

My test results were 5.8, which is well under the threshold of 7.9 for Gestational Diabetes.  I also had a checkup with my obstetrician.  My belly is measuring as expected for dates, Pickle's heartbeat was good, my blood pressure is low.

By good fortune, rather than design, the temporary apartment when we first arrived in Melbourne was in the catchment area for the Royal Women's Hospital - which is Australia's leading maternity hospital - so this is where I was referred for maternity care.  Since we moved, we are in the catchment area for a smaller, local hospital, whose maternity services happen to be run by Royal Women's. Being closer and more community-oriented I thought it would be better to transfer to the local hospital, however they take low risk pregnancies only and although I am low risk by most of their criteria, I do not meet the age criterion.

I mentioned this to my obstetrician at my checkup and she agreed it would be better for me to transfer and said that my pregnancy was much lower risk than many of her younger patients so she emailed the head of department to ask them to make an exception.  To my surprise they agreed to accept me.  On one hand this is great - the hospital is two train stops away rather than an hour-long train and tram schlep across to the other side of town.  On the other hand, it will all be new.  Again.  My next appointment is due in another four weeks - so I guess I'll meet my new team then.

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