Sunday, December 24, 2017

Three things - the Christmas version

I got the idea for this post from Bev who in turn got it from other bloggers.

  1. Spending time with family
  2. People in a good mood
  3. Christmas music

  1. How packed the shops are
  2. The pressure for everything to be perfect
  3. Consumerism

  1. Love Actually
  2. Miracle on 34th Street
  3. Die Hard (haha!)
  1. Mince pies with custard
  2. Chocolates
  3. Christmas cake
  1. Visiting friends during the holidays
  2. Eating the yummy Christmas dinner then relaxing watching movies with your family or playing games
  3. Going to the Christmas markets in Germany for Glüwein (mulled wine)

  1. Driving home for Christmas.
  2. Rocking around the Christmas tree
  3. Happy Christmas (war is over)
  1. Flights to Ireland
  2. A painting of our house
  3. Cute and comfy pyjamas

  1. Peace
  2. An end to poverty
  3. Good Health

Saturday, December 23, 2017

week 29 - birth preperation course #pregnancyDiary

This week we had the birth course morning where the partners were also invited. It took place on a Sunday and there was heavy snow that day! This time the course instructor didn't try to sell us anything which was good. At the start the men had to introduce themselves and say a bit about what they are hoping to achieve from the course. It was clear most didn't have any idea what to expect. A few said things like Ich lasse mich überraschen. Which is like, "I'm ready to be surprised".

Anyway this time the main focus was the birth which was useful. For first time mothers the instructor suggests you labour around 2-3 hours at home before going to the hospital. For second timers it's better to only wait around 1 hour. This rule doesn't apply if you have any bleeding or your water breaks. And if there is any green in the water then it is a sign the baby is in distress and you should get an ambulance and get to hospital asap. There can be a little spotting a few days before the birth starts apparently which is a sign that you shouldn't venture too far away from home at that stage such as not taking any big trips as the labour could be imminent. She was pretty against epidurals especially ones that you have for a long time as it can cause the baby to sleep and things might stall and then you could end up needing a c-section. The rate of c-sections at the hospitals here are around 20-25% percent. She said that usually c-sections are only suggested if there is risk to the baby or the mother's lives and then they are very important. Though apparently some women in Germany choose elective ones.

The course was particularly useful for the men I found though. It was good for them to hear about how to support their wives during labour. For instance not to keep asking questions but to just be helpful! And instead of saying for instance "you're not doing the breathing right", he should start doing the breathing himself and she will copy. We all practiced the breathing exercises and were given a printout of various positions for the different birth stages. I liked how there was a lot of focus on the women and how the men should be involved and active during the labour. They aren't just taxi drivers bringing their partners to the hospital she pointed out! Hearing about some things that can potentially go wrong during the birth (baby doesn't turn etc) was a bit scary but in general I am still feeling overall positive about the birth. The teacher explained a little about hypnobirth theories and how you have to breath and accept the contractions and not fight against them.

I am a member of two facebook groups for other February Mums to be. One is for Irish women (mainly living in Ireland) and the other is for women who did IVF and infertility treatments beforehand. I've definitely noticed the ladies in the latter group are especially appreciative of their pregnancies. There was a post the other day about how we just can't believe sometimes that this is happening and how grateful and lucky we feel. The other evening I was just relaxing watching tv and suddenly it hit me again that I am, please God, going to get my own baby to keep! I won't have to give her back! It was just a lovely feeling.

This week was also the third birth preparation class - an evening with just the women. I found it really informative and useful. The course covered a lot about bonding with the baby after birth and breastfeeding. The people in the class are also mixing more now too I've noticed. I suggested we set up a whatsapp group so we could meet up some time and the idea was well received. It would be a good way for me to keep up my German language skills while I'm on my parental leave.

In Germany the period after birth is known as Wochenbett (lying in/confinement). For the first six to eight weeks the mothers are encouraged to stay in bed and just focus on breastfeeding, resting and bonding with the baby while everyone else brings food and looks after them. That sounds nice! I normally get bored of lying in bed for ages though so provided I'm feeling ok I think I would try to get out for walks now and then if I can. I'll play it by ear though. Staying at home and having that time to bond with the baby also sounds lovely.

To be honest I still worry and get anxious sometimes. I read a really sad story recently about an Irish woman who had a stillborn baby at 35 weeks. And on facebook a group called "stillborn angels" popped up on the suggested groups for me! I had to keep reminding myself it was just because of some stupid programming algorithm and not a bad sign or omen. I've even looked up where Germany stands in terms of stillbirth compared to other countries. It's about 2.4 births per 1000 which is a fairly low number (though ideally there would be none at all of course). However it happened to one of my best friends in Ireland so I definitely am aware that is is more common than you might think. It's just devastating for anyone to go through. I am trying to calm myself by reminding myself that the majority of babies do arrive safely. It will be a relief though once our baby is here and everything is ok. My friends have told me that being a parent means a lot of extra worry that never really ends!

Still though, apart from occasionally being anxious about things like that, in general I am feeling good and positive. I hope everyone reading this has a lovely Christmas period and "ein guten Rutsch", a good slide into the New Year, as the Germans would say!

Friday, December 15, 2017

week 28 - welcome third trimester #pregnancyDiary

I've another doctor checkup this week. Baby's movements have felt stronger in general. This morning I put my hand on my belly and felt like a ripple underneath like she was moving from one side to the other! According to my pregnancy apps, my doctor appointments should start increasing to every two weeks when it gets closer to the end. I would say that I've been starting to feel a bit heavier and more tired in general. I also find it hard walking as far and tend to get out of breath easier. That said I'm still feeling good in general and enjoying this time.

We are going to order some new furniture for the baby room which should arrive during the Christmas holidays when we are both off. I'm really excited to get organizing the room and sort through all the clothes. Once I know exactly what we have I can see what's left for us to buy. Two of my friends are throwing me a baby shower in January/February. It will be so nice to finally get to have my own baby shower after attending so many and wondering if it would ever be my turn. I think some of the games can be a bit silly but it will be nice to get together with friends and feel the support. I'm going to invite my German mother in law too as I think she would love to be included. She really enjoyed seeing the 3d ultrasound pics from our hospital visit last week. She told me she can't stop looking at them. She's going to be such a sweet Oma (German Granny).

This is a "before" pic of the baby room now. As you can see it's pretty messy! Hopefully in a few weeks I'll be able to post a new pic once the new furniture has arrived and I've sorted through the stuff. We'll probably move that book shelf somewhere, and also change the leopard print duvet cover haha!

Several people have commented that my pregnancy is going very quickly for them. It's been going fairly quickly for me too actually. Well the first trimester was slow because I was just living from appointment to appointment and nervous but the second trimester has gone fast! And now I'm already in the final stretch.

Friends of us who have IVF twins gave us several boxes of nappies they never used plus various sized baby clothes, some which they had also gotten passed on to them by friends. At this stage our child probably has enough to wear and I don't even need to buy anything else for the first few months! I think it's so nice that friends seem to pass around baby clothes as from what I hear you don't get that much use of of them since kids grow so fast and saves you having to buy too much new. They even gave us two of several items, as they had bought one for each of their daughters!

You might remember I briefly mentioned having a friend who's due about two weeks after me. She's had a very stressful time lately. She caught something called the CMV virus. Many women are already immune to it but around 1% of women who aren't can catch it during pregnancy and then it could potentially cause problems with the baby such as hearing issues (in around 20% of cases)! My friend had to get lots of tests done and it was a very worrying time as you can imagine.

Luckily they were able to determine that the baby was only exposed to it after week 20 and by that stage would have much better odds of having a stronger immune system and being able to fight it. All the scans have looked great. However her baby will need to get a bunch of tests done after birth to check he wasn't affected. I'm not immune to CMV and both our doctors said it would be better for us not to meet up for the remainder of my pregnancy just in case as it's better to avoid taking any risks. It's disappointing as I would have liked to have kept seeing her! But better to be on the safe side. Once are babies are here we'll be able to meet again and in the meantime we've been keeping in touch with whatsapp. I'm also hoping to pass on some of the extra more gender neutral baby stuff to her.

After 28 week check up at doctor

Everything went well at my appointment. On top of measuring any contractions they also monitored the baby's heartbeat this time. I was attached to the machine for about 40 minutes altogether. It took the nurse several minutes to locate the heartbeat at the beginning. I was trying not to worry as I'd already felt plenty of movement that day but it was a little scary all the same. My husband was able to make the appointment this time which was nice. The big news is that the baby is already in position! At the hospital almost two weeks ago she was lying vertically but now her head is down. To me that doesn't seem very comfortable but from what I read because they are surrounded in water it's fine for babies in the womb! There's a good chance she will stay in this position until the birth so it's unlikely I'll be breech which is also great.

I hope everyone is keeping well and enjoying the Christmas season.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

week 27 - last week of second trimester #pregnancyDiary

According to my app I am already in the third trimester this week. However other websites often count the beginning of the seventh month from week 28. Either way I am grateful for each day my baby keeps growing! I know a few stories of children being born preterm and it can potentially cause health issues. I've been enjoying feeling our little lady kick and move. She's particularly active at night, sometimes even keeping me awake, haha! The other evening we were watching tv and I could see an indent on my left hand side as if a foot or elbow was pressed against it and it felt hard to touch for a few seconds until it went back in again. Another two weeks until my next doctor's appointment which should hopefully include a scan! I am starting to feel a lot heavier in general and it's very nice to put my feet up at the end of the day.

Written later in the week
Well I ended up having another scare this week! To close the second trimester with a bang. I left work one evening and started having these really painful cramps on my way into town for a pregnancy massage appointment. It felt like bad period cramps but a bit higher up. At first I thought the pain was continuous, it was certainly very unpleasant but then I realized that the cramps would get worse every so often and then ease off. Sort of like I would imagine contractions to be like! There didn't seem to be much of a break in between and I started getting really anxious wondering what I should do. I called my husband and he thought I should cancel the massage and go to the hospital to get checked out (at that stage my doctor's practice was closed).

When I got to the massage appointment the pain was still there - it had been almost an hour. The masseuse who's like a holistic therapist said that it wouldn't be good to do the massage with me like this and suggested we postpone which I was glad about. So then I made my way to the hospital. Tt wasn't that far off since I was already in town. However my sense of direction has never been my strong suit and I ended up getting lost finding my way there! I tried using google maps with my GPS but it seemed like I kept walking the wrong direction. Anyway I found my way to the hospital eventually but then got lost again looking for the women and children's clinic. At that stage my husband wasn't too far away so I decided to wait for him and go in together. He also brought my "Mutterpass" with me which is the booklet they give you here when you are pregnant with all your relevant info. By the time I had reached the hospital the cramps had stopped and I felt fine again. So then at first I wondered if I was overreacting going there but then my overactive imagination started worrying that maybe the pains were a sign that the baby was in distress or choking on the umbilical cord and I started feeling really nervous!

We were sent straight to the labour ward to get checked out. The staff there were lovely. I was hooked up to a machine to measure contractions and mine and baby's heartbeat for around half an hour. Hearing the little heartbeat was reassuring. My temperature and blood pressure were also taken. We were also asked lots of questions about our medical history. It's good they have my info on file now. If you go into labour before week 36 you have to automatically go to that particular hospital. If it's later then you have a choice of other hospitals to give birth in. Next we had to wait for a doctor to analyze the results.

Eventually we were called in and I was told I'd get an ultrasound. There were two women in the room who I thought were doctors but I think now that one was probably the ultrasound technician and they must have been still in training. They asked me a series of questions and then started the scan. It was reassuring to see the baby on the screen. The ultrasound technician spent a long time looking at the baby's stomach and then she commented to the other girl in front of me (they were both quite young) that it looked like the heart and stomach were in the wrong place!! Like on the wrong side. Jeez! That's not what you want to hear. So then the other girl phoned another doctor to come down to take a look. Of course I was thinking oh my God, something is wrong with the baby at this stage and praying all would be ok! The girl then told me it's nothing serious, not to worry but of course I was anxious. She'd asked if we had had some kind of thorough scan already and I said the ones that are done at 12 and 20 weeks at the gyno. That didn't seem to be the one she meant though.

Anyway the other more experienced doctor came down and he was very friendly. He did a really thorough scan and it was clear then that he was also teaching the other girl. Like, here is the heart, here is the stomach, all perfectly normal etc. Thank God! He was really nice too, cracking jokes and just putting me at ease. We saw the baby yawn and taste the amniotic fluid! But the real highlight was when he used the 3d scanner and we got to see our baby's face. That was just incredible. She looks like a little person! It's so different from just seeing the black and white 2d images. She even had a little grin in one of the pictures.

We didn't get home until about 10.30pm that evening and we were exhausted by that stage but so relieved and delighted that all is fine and that baby is doing great. The doctors think it must have been practice contractions I had. My cervix is still closed so all is fine. I feel like a bit of a wimp though because I found those contractions really painful! I am hoping to have a natural birth without an epidural, you see. However it was probably extra uncomfortable going through the pain while sitting on the tram on my way into town. If I'd been able to get into a more comfortable position or have a bath for instance it might have been more bearable!

I only had a small snack before going to bed that night but then woke up feeling ravenous. I thought it was the morning already but when I looked at my phone it was around 2.30 in the morning! Ignoring the hunger wasn't working so I got up and made myself a quick bowl of porridge. Poor hubby got worried when he noticed I'd left the room but I told him everything was fine, I just had to feed the baby! I'll have to try to make sure I eat enough in the evenings before bed. Getting up in the middle of the night didn't bother me at all as I was still feeling so relieved that everything is fine with our little one. The next day I was extra tired in work though! So sort of a dramatic week but thankfully things progressing as they should. Hopefully the next few weeks will be calmer!