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.


Tuesday, 22 April 2014


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.


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.


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.


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.
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