Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Weeks 25 - 26 first birth preparation class and a trip to Dublin #pregnancyDiary

Week 25

Not much to report really for this week.
  • The weather has been pretty miserable here. Dark, cold and rainy. Feels like winter already
  • Work has still been crazy busy
  • A lot of my healthy eating habits have gone out the window lately. Hoping to get back on track soon

This week was my first birth preparation class, called Geburtsvorbereitungskurs here. In Germany your health insurance covers the course and you just have to pay the fee for your partner. All the classes at the hospital were already booked out when I looked into signing up at 16 weeks but I managed to find a course locally held by the Chinese lady I did acupuncture with before. Even though my experience hadn't been great and I don't think acupuncture is for me I've heard her classes are good and she had a place available. The course she offers has two evenings with just the women and then two weekend mornings with partners. I had heard that the birth preparation classes can be a good way to make friends so I was hoping that might be the case.

The instructions were to dress comfortably so I wore black maternity tracksuit bottoms which sort of passed for work trousers (I think!) with a long top. There were about ten of us in the class and we sat in a circle on mats on the floor with cushions for our backs. It felt a bit strange for me to be part of this pregnancy club now after all the years we had been struggling with infertility. We had to go around and introduce ourselves. Three of the women are on their second or third babies but the majority of us are pregnant with our first child. I wondered about whether anyone else there might be having an IVF baby too, or have had difficulty but no one mentioned it and I didn't either. Maybe at a later point if the opportunity arises.

The due dates range from December to March. We learnt about what happens to your body during the nine months and birth, discussed pregnancy symptoms, the hospitals in our town in terms of advantages and disadvantages then general newborn care and breastfeeding. Some stuff was interesting but other things I knew already. The end of the class was spent trying to sell us things which I didn't like though! The Hebamme who gives the classes clearly has some sort of agreement with another lady who sells baby stuff and she came over to show us the things. I already have plenty of baby clothes and blankets so didn't really like having to spend 40 minutes looking at more stuff. The things seemed expensive too. Like 50€ for a snow suit or 37€ for a babygrow. At that stage I was tired and hungry as I'd gone to the class straight after work.

Anyway, the other girls in the course seem nice but everyone was a little shy and no one was exchanging numbers or suggesting meet ups. Hopefully at a later stage we could set up a whatsapp group or something. It would be nice to have some people to meet up with once the baby comes and to keep my German up while I'm out of the office! One of my other pals here who's american commented that she has a group of friends with babies around the same age as hers and they often go for play dates together. She mentioned that she feels more integrated living here now she has German friends.

I've also started having braxton hicks or practice contractions I think! I noticed an uncomfortable feeling around my pelvis area and cramps for the first 20 minutes of the birth course and then the next day in the late morning. I did start to worry a little about pre term labour but the pains weren't so bad and after asking some other women in my facebook group, apparently if it were real contractions I wouldn't be able to talk or do anything else during them! Off to Ireland tomorrow.

Week 26

Overall I had a nice trip to Dublin. I got a chance to meet most people again and now I'm ready to stay put in Germany to prepare for the baby as I get into the third trimester. There were some lovely moments catching up with friends and everyone has been so supportive and happy for us which has been really lovely. My aunt commented that we shouldn't buy too many pink things in case the doctors get it wrong and we end up having a boy! My doctor did say he is 100% sure of the sex so I think it should be fine. I agree with the sentiment that baby girls shouldn't just be put into pink clothes and I do plan to buy a mixture of colours. However I'm a feminist who also likes wearing pink so I don't think there is anything wrong with it personally! I guess I would avoid slogans that just say things like "princess" though. It was strange saying goodbye to people thinking the next time I will see them I will have a young baby with me, please God! We plan to fly over to Ireland next Summer.

Something really awful and unexpected happened while I was in Ireland though. The younger sister of a good friend of mine died unexpectedly. The poor family are devastated and it is just a nightmare. Depression is an awful illness that takes far too many young lives. I was glad that I was home and was able to visit my friend. My heart aches for her and her family. I clearly remember almost 13 years ago when my Mum died and what a horrible time it was. This has actually been the third tragedy under various circumstances involving someone in their 30s who our family knew since the start of this year. Of course death is always terrible, but there is something even worse about it when it is a young person with so much life ahead I think. Things like this just remind you all the more how short and precious life is.

In terms of the pregnancy and travelling, I didn't experience any complications flying and wasn't even asked to show the letter my doctor had given me saying I was safe to fly. I'm glad I made the trip over.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

week 24 - viability milestone #pregnancyDiary

Week 24 is a bit of a milestone. This is the earliest that a baby could possibly survive if he/she were born already. The statistics improve for every extra week they stay in the womb. So it goes form odds of only around 40% at this week to around 90% by week 30. It's great to have reached this stage.

At the weekend we had to run some errands. Since we do car sharing it makes sense to rent the car for something like four hours then try to get everything done at once. It can be a bit of a rush though! We brought some garden waste to the dump, went to the hardware store to pick up some things, then went to a furniture shop and finally to the supermarket for groceries. It was Saturday morning so everywhere seemed to have traffic and long queues. It was good to get stuff done but exhausting. I felt a little faint at one stage at the hardware shop so once we got to the furniture place we went to the cafe for a snack. Once we got home and had unpacked the stuff we had to prepare lunch before finally we were able to put our feet up and relax.

On the way back in the car it suddenly hit me that next year we will have a baby and everything will change. Planning a trip like that would have a whole other dimension added as presumably we'd have to think about bringing a nappy changing bag, be aware of naps and feeding times, use a car seat and have a buggy or carrier. Of course I have often been daydreaming and imagining how things will be with a baby but the huge responsibility of it just struck me all of a sudden! This isn't going to be something we'll be doing for just a few weeks, our lives will be changed forever. I'm not saying I'm not ready and I don't want this completely. It was just a moment of thinking of how much our lives will be different next year!

I've had friends in the past say to me that after they had their kids they had to mourn their old lives - being able to do things spontaneously for instance. As someone going through infertility I didn't have that much sympathy since I was more than ready to give up a lot of my freedoms, though I would try to understand. Of course whenever I picture our lives with a kid I imagine a well behaved easy one. I'm not daydreaming about being thrown up on or having to look after a screaming baby, haha! We'll figure it out though. Hubby and I will make a good team, I hope. I've been reading lots of articles about parenting so I do think I'm somewhat prepared. My birth preparation course starts next week. Hopefully we'll be shown how to change a nappy and bathe a baby, practical stuff like that but if not the Hebamme who will come over after the birth should help us. It's nice to have a few more months to prepare for baby's arrival.

A few days ago I went to the general doctor to get the flu vaccine. My arm was a little sore for a few days after but otherwise no side effects. She commented again how happy she is for me and also that I seemed much less anxious compared to the last time I was there. I had gone to her with my bad cold and cough and asked if I could also be tested for listeria while I was there as I'd worried I'd picked it up by eating some smoked salmon. She had looked at me at the time like I was a little crazy and told me if I had listeria I would have symptoms and it's really unlikely to get it. These days I don't freak out as much about little things.

I had another doctor's appointment this week. This time there was no ultrasound unfortunately. But it's ok, I've been feeling the baby move a lot now so I'm not as anxious to see what's going on in there! Everything was good. He commented that my cervix is "very nice", haha! I had to drink the sweet drink and get my blood taken an hour later to check my glucose levels. I got the results after a few days and they were fine thankfully. The doctor told me I can stop taking the baby aspirin tablets now. He thinks that might also help against my frequent nose bleeds. He wrote a letter for me to bring to the airport when I fly next week just in case it's needed. Hubby wasn't able to come with me and he'll have to miss the next appointment in a month's time too sadly, but the one after in January he'll be able to make. I've been feeling really grateful today that this has been such a smooth pregnancy overall. Hoping it continues to be so!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

week 23 - no news is good news #pregnancyDiary

My job has been quite stressful lately. Some people left and now there is a lot more work for the rest of us until they find and hire replacements which will probably take months. I've had to do a fair bit of overtime recently too. At least, this was a short week at work which was nice. Baden wurttemberg had two public holidays in a row this year, October 31st and Nov 1st. Hubby and I had a lot of relaxation time. Not much else to report lately. We binge watched the new season of Stranger Things which was really good. I've been catching up on my reading.

The most annoying pregnancy symptom at the moment is probably the heartburn. I tend to get it really bad most evenings. It feel like my throat is on fire! I've been managing quite well with antiacid tablets though. As I mentioned before we already have gotten quite a lot for the baby. Mostly things were given to us by friends who don't need them anymore and we also picked up some stuff second hand. We plan to buy a chest of drawers to put all the clothes and blankets in. We also have to get the cot still. I love the idea of the ones which attach next to the parents' bed to make feeding easier and so the baby is close to you but also in their own space to avoid the danger of SIDS. I've been picking up lots of tips from talking to friends so I think I'm starting to get a pretty good idea of what life could be like with a newborn.

I did feel a little uncomfortable at first with us getting so much baby stuff already as if it were up to me I would have waited longer to start preparing. In Ireland traditionally people are very suspicious about buying things for a child before he or she is born! My parents' generation were like that and some people still are. Things have change massively in recent years though. On a facebook group I'm in for Irish women due the same month as me I noticed that most of the woman had already gotten loads of stuff by this stage. I decided that I don't want to wait until the baby is here to start getting everything- that would be totally stressful! I'd rather be prepared. Also I think at this stage in the pregnancy it is ok to feel relatively secure that everything will be fine. So we are going to continue to prepare and aim to have most things ready by January.

Since the 20 week scan I've also started feeling a lot more relaxed about the pregnancy in general. I'm not as anxious anymore. I've been letting myself believe that we will have a baby and just feeling happy and excited! I've also started to feel more relaxed about things in general, not being as anxious that any little thing I do could negatively affect the baby. I've even introduced some gluten into my diet again. I had quit it as I'd read undiagnosed gluten intolerance was frequent among women with unexplained infertility and it had also been giving me some digestive issues. I find now though that eating it occasionally seems to be ok. I've also been eating dairy which I'd cut out during the past IVF cycle. I was craving it a lot (particularly cheese!) and thought I should have some in case my body is missing the calcium or protein. I try to go for the low lactose options of course though as I still have a lactose intolerance. At first I wondered if I was becoming too relaxed- basically worrying about whether I'm not worrying enough! However I realised how silly that sounded and also decided that me feeling less stressed and more happy has to be a good thing for the baby.

Life can be hard, there's no doubt about that. There are plenty of times when things are awful and there probably will be in the future unfortunately, so when things ARE going well why not let yourself be happy? I'm not going to worry about "jinxing" it but will allow myself enjoy this special time. So that's been my attitude lately! I've been spending some quality moments with hubby, catching up with friends, and having daydreams about the future when we will be a family of three.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

week 22 - being social #pregnancyDiary

This week since I've been feeling good I arranged several meet ups with friends. Since most of the people I know here already have kids, a few have kindly given us lots of their old baby clothes and various items. One friend brought over three bags full of little girls clothes! I'm delighted to get all the stuff, certainly all the various baby paraphernalia can be really expensive, but I also really want to buy some things for our child too. At the weekend we took a trip to a baby shop and had a look around. It was all very overwhelming to be honest! There are so many potential things to get. I'd like to try to be a bit of a minimalist parent and only buy things that we'll actually use.

I've still been getting pretty bad heartburn these days, nosebleeds and leg cramps. Also I've noticed I often wake up early but then can't get back asleep. Those are my only real "complaints" at the moment and none of those are that bad. I've been lucky that the second trimester has been fairly smooth sailing and I'm grateful for that.

I had no idea that buggies cost so much! You are talking 800€ plus for the nicer ones. And even though we don't own a car we occasionally rent one so it could make sense to buy a baby seat. Those are 100-300€ and only for the first year. From age one to three you need to get another one. I certainly don't want to buy stuff we don't need so I'm trying to work out which items we will actually use and which aren't necessary. For instance, instead of paying several hundred on a special changing table, I'm thinking of using the top of a chest of drawers. There are some markets here where they sell used items so it might be worth checking them out for certain items. In Germany when you cycle a lot with kids you can buy an attachment for your bike. Very handy though these can cost around a thousand!

We will need to apply for the play schools here before the baby even arrives apparently as they really do get booked out fast. You need to fill out a form and register for your favourite seven then also go to them in person, plus it helps if you know someone. There's one place which has a good reputation and both English and German are spoken which would be ideal.

Only two more weeks till I reach viability stage! How cool is that? So I have decided to go to Ireland one more time before the baby arrives. I know we had decided earlier on in the pregnancy that I wouldn't travel anymore but that was when we were still feeling a lot more insecure about everything. At this stage we are both feeling more confident and I've been a bit homesick lately. This will be my last chance to go back during the second trimester and then I won't travel anymore in the third trimester.

The flights aren't so expensive this time of year and it will be nice to go back home for a few days. Hubby won't be able to come with me unfortunately. I'm going to travel light, just a carry on. It will be fun to spend a few days with family and friends. I think that ideally people shouldn't travel in the first or last trimester but the middle seems like a good time. It's only a short flight to Ireland anyway. I have another check up at my doctor in two weeks and then once I'd get back from the Ireland trip my next appointment would only be two weeks later. Obviously if I have any issues while away or after the trip I would go straight to doctor/hospital. But lately everything has been going great with the pregnancy, no issues. I'll just try to make sure to take it easy during my visit. There have been times when I've felt like I needed another holiday after a visit home as I'd be so busy going here there and everywhere trying to fit in meet ups with everyone!

I recently got a new passport - my first one with my married name. It was relatively simple - it just involved filling out a form and sending it to the Irish embassy in Berlin with photos. I had to get my signature witnessed but luckily I had a friend who fit the criteria and had the stamp so it was all fine. I'm not that happy with my new photo though, I look extremely serious and a little grumpy! That's just my resting face I guess, haha. Oh well, I doubt many people have a great passport photo.