Tuesday, February 27, 2018

week 29 - Baby is here!

So I actually went into labour the night after I wrote my last post! It all happened very fast. The doctor had told me that I would probably give birth within the next few days. At three am that night my waters broke and at a quarter past nine in the morning I gave birth to our daughter! A beautiful healthy girl - who arrived one week early. 2.95kilos.

I plan to share my full birth story soon but things are pretty hectic here with a newborn as you can imagine! It was a positive experience overall, I didn't labour for that long and I had a water birth in the end. It was very tough going though!

I don't think my husband would feel comfortable with my sharing pictures here on the blog but if you would like to see some then just email me directly at dublinerindeutschland@gmail.com.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Week 38 - so close - pregnancy diary

This last week I haven't been planing as much. I wanted to start winding down a little and taking it easy before things get hectic. It's sort of a strange time at the moment. On the edge of this gigantic life change which could happen at any moment! Yet on the other hand I still want to enjoy my last few weeks of this pregnancy. I have had a few times where I would get a bit of cramping and then think, could this be it? I've mainly been nervous and not felt ready yet to be honest! Though as time goes on I do think I'm starting to feel gradually more prepared. Or as ready as I'll ever be!

I met up with the girls from my birth preparation course again. Well, there are eight of us in the group, two of which have never come to any of the meetups. Another two from the group had their babies already! Everything went well and they are happy. Of the four of us who came to the meet up, one is due for a planned c section next week, another is due next week and then me and the other girl have due dates in two weeks. One of the girls was talking about how surreal it is and that she can't imagine actually having a baby and that's exactly how I've been feeling so I guess many people have that surreal feeling!

End of week 38

*TMI alert* Today is the the last day of my 38th and week I noticed a little spotting this morning when I got up. I remembered at my birth preparation course being told that this can be a sign that labour is going to start over the next few days and to not go on any long trips! I had an appointment anyway at the doctor and I told him and he said it's a good sign. When he examined me he noticed my cervix has started to soften and he told me that he thinks it'll happen sometime over the next few days!!

Oh boy. I've been feeling all jittery since I heard that! Hubby was with me at the appointment and he said to me after that he wants to get home quickly to also do some last minute "nesting"! Haha. By that he means sorting out some of the paperwork and bureaucracy. It's quite confusing here. We will be entitled to "Elterngeld" (parental leave pay) and "Kindergeld" (child benefit pay) but there will be a lot of forms to fill out, plus it's a little more complicated since I'm not German and our wedding was in Ireland.

I'd already made quite a few plans over the next few days such as meeting friends for lunch, but I wrote and told them what the doctor has said and left it that I will confirm before meeting them if I can still make it, just in case! Of course it would still take longer like another week but it makes sense to "prepare" for the eventually that it could happen soon. I still have half of the childbirth book to finish reading which I'd like to do as I find reading it calms me.

We got the cot now. We bought a co-sleeper from friends of ours. Hubby commented that it feels even more real seeing the cot! I think the baby room is ready now, I could just do some more laundry. But honestly overall we are pretty prepared... I just hadn't really thought that the baby might come early, I always had it in my head that she would be overdue.

Feeling a mixture of excitement and nervousness!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

weeks 36 - 37 baby shower & family visit #pregnancyDiary

Week 36

This week we had an appointment at the hospital where I'd like to give birth. You don't have to register, they would accept you if you were to just show up but it's nice if you can go there beforehand. We met one of the midwives who filled out a form with medical history, information about the pregnancy and my birth plan wishes. I said I'd like low intervention, hopefully even a water birth, delayed cord clamping and skin to skin bonding. They seemed really open to my ideas. Whether I'll be able to have a water birth will depend on if the room with the birthing pool is available at the time. We also requested a family room to stay in after (it costs 75€ extra per night) and that would also depend on availability.

The midwife answered my questions, was really friendly and left us both with a good impression of the place. Afterwards we were able to get a tour of the birthing suites, apart from one room which was in use. We could hear a newborn baby crying as we went past and it made me feel quite emotional! And a little overwhelmed, like oh my gosh, do we know what we are in for?! I hope we can handle everything. Seeing the birthing rooms also made it all feel very real and I did feel a bit nervous to be honest!

This week I met up with the girls from my birth preparation course for lunch and there were six of this there this time. It was really nice. I felt a little shy at times about speaking German, I still get that way with new people sometimes even though I've lived here over seven years now however at one stage they commented that my German is really good and they love my accent which made me feel more confident.

It's been a busy week between one thing and another! I met up with several friends, organized the things in the baby room, did some housework and relaxed when I had time. Next week my Dad is visiting which is great. Once I get to 38 weeks I intend to not plan as many social things as pretty much anytime between week 38 and week 42 I could go into labour and I'd like to start winding down a little and resting before the baby comes!

I also had my baby shower this week. It was great! I definitely felt loved and spoilt. Two american friends of mine here threw it for me and did a lovely job. There were about ten of us there altogether and everyone got on really well. There were some onesies, bibs and nappies that people could decorate and write messages on. It was such a lovely afternoon. I was also overwhelmed by all the lovely presents we got and so many people wrote us lovely messages in their cards about how happy they are for us and how they can't wait to meet our little one.

Week 37

Early this week I went to Schwangerschaftsgymnastik "pregnancy gymnastics". That was run by the centre where my "Hebamme" (midwife/doula) works. I would probably describe it as a mixture between gentle aerobics and yoga. At the beginning we had to introduce ourselves and say where we lived and which month our babies are due. It still feels a little strange for me at times to be part of the mum "club" now after it always seemed so elusive for years. Everyone was friendly. We practiced some breathing exercises in the class to help for birth.

They also offer a meditation class at the centre which I might try out next week. They have acupuncture too but don't think I'll do that as I didn't like it in the past! Once the babies are born they also offer various classes. There's a thing called Rückbildung which is an exercise class to help your body recover. You are meant to start it around 6-8 weeks after birth and the German health insurance covers it. They also offer classes with babies/kids such as music and dance and babywearing. There's a nursing group too who go to cafes together once a week. So lots of options for getting out of the house with the baby during parental leave.

This week my Dad came to visit for a few days which was lovely! I was feeling pretty good and we went out for long walks two of the days and also to some nice restaurants while hubby was at work. I really enjoyed spending some quality time together before it'll all be about the baby. In around a month he will be back with my sister to visit us and please God, the baby will have arrived safely. It was a bit emotional saying our goodbyes. It still feels surreal to me a lot of the time that I might actually get a real baby soon! Not sure when that will actually sink in.

I had another doctor's appointment and this time I paid extra for an ultrasound. I wanted one for peace of mind mainly! Everything looks good thankfully. The baby is still positioned head down. I'll go back to the doctor at the end of week 38 and then I've an appointment on my actual due date. The doctor's assistant said if I don't show up they'll assume I've given birth. It's really mad how little time there is left. I would like another week or two to feel more ready ideally but otherwise I guess I'm as ready as I'll ever be!

My Dad told me that my Mum had very short labours for all three kids. Like only around 4-5 hours!! For my birth she woke him up around 5am after timing the contractions for awhile to be sure it was real and then they went to the hospital and I was there by around 9am. So a lot faster than I realised! It's a good thing if I take after her in that way and don't have long labours but it's something to be aware of. At the birth preparation course we had been told first time mothers labour an average of 12 hours and to spend the first 2-3 hours at home but in my case it sounds like I shouldn't hang around too much if things are moving quickly! It's something to be aware of. Of course I would time the contractions too. One of the evenings while my Dad was here I did have some cramps for awhile. They probably lasted around half an hour or so. They were uncomfortable but not so bad. Practice contractions I think! Apart from that no other indications of when the birth might be.

Happy Valentine's Day by the way!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

weeks 33 - 35 start of maternity leave #pregnancyDiary

Week 33

At the start of week 33 I had another doctor's appointment. It had been a month since the previous one and from this point on they will be every two weeks. Hubby was able to come with me which was nice. It was pretty much the usual. I arrive, check in, am told to go hand in a pee sample, then wait to be called. After which I go into a room where the nurse weighs me and then they use the CTG machine to measure any contractions and check the heartbeat. My blood pressure is also checked and they usually take blood to check for toxmoposis. That takes around 40 mins altogether. Then I go back to wait until the doctor is ready.

One of the women from my birth preparation course was in the waiting room this time and I started chatting to her. She's really nice. Her baby is due three weeks before mine. I'm definitely going to try to arrange a meetup with the women from my group. I think I mentioned before I could do with more german friends plus it would be nice to have people to meet with babies around the same age. Hopefully we'll get on well and have things in common. She's planning to give birth at the same hospital as me too and already registered there. She told me how friendly the staff were.

Once we were called in to the doctor, we had a chat with him about how I'm doing. He told me that there won't be any more ultrasounds at this stage! Unless I want to pay extra for one. I discussed it with hubby and we decided that it's ok, we can probably do without any more. I felt a little sad for a moment but I think I can wait now to meet the baby in real life! The doctor checked my cervix which is still closed and commented that he could feel the baby's head! She's still in the birth position which is a relief.

I asked whether he had any indication whether the baby might arrive early or on time or late but he laughed and explained how there is no way of knowing. He's had women come in with a closed cervix and the baby far up in the uterus who have gone into labour two hours later and others with already opening cervixes who still take a few more weeks. I tend to be the sort of person who likes to plan everything and know what I'm doing so the thought of having no idea when the baby will arrive is somewhat strange and a little unnerving! I'll just try to get as much done as possible over the next few weeks just in case. Hubby and I went for a nice lunch date together after our appointment at a local hamburger place.

I also finished up at work at the end of week 33. In Germany maternity leave starts 6 weeks before your due date. I've a long list of things I'd like to accomplish during the time but we'll see how many things I get too! It felt quite surreal going into to work on my last day knowing I wouldn't be back for around half a year. I was quite busy the last few days finishing up things and doing a handover so I ended up working late. The time really flew the last few weeks.

Week 34

Well my first week of maternity leave has been nice! I've kept busy. I met up with friends a few times, sorted through a bunch of baby stuff so that now the nursery is coming along, caught up on my reading, started getting my hospital bag ready (still need to wash and pack a few more things but it's more or less done), and spent time with hubby. I even cooked pumpkin risotto and froze a bunch of leftovers. I haven't been productive every day though! I have a long to do list and a whole bunch of things I'd like to get done but there has been days when I'm just too tired and then I've just taken it easy. I am trying to get to as much as possible ideally at the start of my maternity leave when I have a little energy and then towards the end I can focus more on resting and preparing for the birth. Of course I've no idea when the actual birth might be, whether she will arrive early, on time or late!

My Dad and sister are so excited they already booked their flights over in March to visit. They are due to come around 8 days after my due date. I'm a little worried that the baby might end up being overdue as that would be disappointing if they arrived and I was still pregnant and waiting! However the other weekends in March didn't suit them as much and they know the risks I guess. Most likely though the baby won't go more than a week overdue.. I think. In Germany they induce you if you go ten days over your expected date.

I'm still feeling pretty good in general. More tired which is to be expected and I'm not as mobile anymore. Sometimes my hips hurt when I walk around. I went for a pregnancy massage, this time to a different place recommend by a friend and it was really good. Some parts hurt when the masseuse was trying to get rid of shoulder tension for instance but it was also really nice and relaxing. I'll try to go again. I've been considering getting acupuncture as it's meant to help with the labour pain but my experiences with acupuncture in the past haven't been great so I'm not sure if it's for me or not! They have pregnancy gymnastics and meditation at the center where my Hebamme (midwife/doula) works and I would like to try it out but this past week I was just too lazy!

I attempted to organize a meetup with the girls from my birth preperation group. Only one girl responded which was disappointing. However in the end I met up with her, as well as two others from the group who don't have whatsapp so I sent an old fashioned SMS too and the four of us ended up having a really nice lunch. We are all due within about two weeks of each other. It's a good way for me to practice my German too! We got on well and they all thanked me for arranging it. I even opened up to them about our struggles to have a baby and IVF. I had to explain what's involved in IVF as they didn't really know. They were all really supportive and delighted for us that it worked. One of the girls is older and said she had been considering going to the clinic to get checked out however then it happened for them eventually without needing to but she said it's very common these days for couples to need help. Don't I know it! There's a whole world of couples out there struggling trying to build a family, and I also know it often doesn't work out sadly for various reasons.

Week 35

I'm still enjoying being pregnant and loving feeling the movement. In terms of symptoms I notice my hips hurt sometimes when I walk, I get heartburn on and off still and it can be quite bad and I wake up around 1-3 times in the night to pee. But really nothing so bad and I am grateful that I'm still feeling relatively good! It's strange having all this time off. On the one hand I have a list of things I could be doing and each day I wonder how productive I should be but on the other hand it's so nice to have the time to relax and just catch up on my reading! I'm doing a mixture I would say. When I have bursts of energy I try to take advantage of it by meeting up with people or catching up on housework, preparing the baby room etc and when I am tired then I give into it and relax! I've been watching lots of Pretty Little Liars on netflix. I used to think it was a very teen centered show and wasn't so into it the first one or two seasons but then I started to really enjoy it. At this stage our baby will probably recognize the opening music haha!

This has been a nice week. We got a new changing table from IKEA and it's all set up now. I never thought I would be so excited about a changing table! The room is coming together really nicely. Since a lot of progress has been made recently I don't feel that same stress that things won't be ready in time. I have a bunch more clothes to sort through but overall the room is more or less almost set up at this stage.

We are buying a co-sleeper bed from friends. Just like any baby product I've heard some mixed things. People have mainly been positive about it though one or two have said that their baby didn't like being even as far away as that and wanted to sleep right next to them. Or some babies outgrew it by around nine months instead of 18 months like it says on the website of the brand we are going for. I think it can depend on how fast your baby grows and whether they start to crawl around a lot or stay in the co-sleeper at night. We've been having trouble making our minds up about what sort of buggy to get. We have a whole selection of babywearing carriers now which we are hoping to mainly use, if the baby likes them that is. So we might not even need to use a buggy that much at the beginning. Or maybe it would be handy to have one for walks and for day time naps.

My Dad has booked flights to visit me next week. He suggested coming over during my maternity leave to keep me company before the baby arrives. Such a nice idea! It will be lovely to have some quality time before the baby arrives and things are more hectic.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

weeks 30 - 32 Christmas #pregnancyDiary

Week 30

I almost can't believe I've made it to 30 weeks! There are only about ten weeks left till we meet our little one. I've been enjoying the buildup to Christmas. I put up our tree the first day of December already and hubby and I often play Christmas songs at home. This year my family did Secret santa, so we instead of having to buy for loads of different people we would all just have to focus on one person with one bigger gift. That made things a lot easier. We've gotten the presents for hubby's side too so I'm feeling fairly organized.I sent out my first batch of Christmas cards but I still have a bunch more to send.

We'll be spending this Christmas with my husband's side. It's always different being away from your own family at Christmas time and experiencing different traditions but it should still be a lovely time. I've only a few more weeks of work left until my maternity leave starts!

This week we had our final birth preparation course day. It was good. Newborn care was the focus. Such as how to bathe the babies, baby wearing, more about breastfeeding etc. At the end of the course I got some of the girls numbers and said I'd set up a whatsapp group so we can meet up sometime.

My appetite has definitely increased lately! I went out for lunch on Saturday with friends and ordered a lasagna, realised after I was still starving then ordered a large starter of bruschetta! The next morning I woke up at five am feeling hungry and couldn't get back to sleep so got up and had some porridge after which I managed to sleep a few more hours. Baby must be going through a growth spurt. My bump is definitely much bigger but it is still small in general for 7 months. A few people have commented. At my last doctor's appointment he noticed my iron count is low so I've been trying to eat more iron rich foods.

Week 31

This week is Christmas and my birthday. Last year we had a lovely Christmas with my family but it was still tinged with sadness wondering if we would ever be able to have children. I was in the middle of the two week wait after our third IVF cycle which ultimately failed. I remember testing on Stephen's day morning thinking for sure it would be positive and the horrible feeling of shock and sadness when it wasn't. It was a hard way to start into 2017. It is so different to how things are now with our baby on board and feeling hopeful.

I often think of all the couples who are still in the trenches and finding this time of year particularly hard. Christmas can be very kid centered! It can also be very hard when you have lost loved ones. It was just before Christmas that my Mum lost her battle with cancer years ago and so it can bring up a lot of hard memories. I also have been thinking recently how sad it is that she won't get to meet her grandchild. I just hope she is in heaven living on in some way. I think I have to believe that.

We had a nice Christmas with my husband's family this year. There isn't enough room at his parent's place and we just found it easier to stay at a hotel in town for a few nights but that worked out well. It was a lovely few days. Lots of eating! My mother in law served fish with Sauerkraut on the 24th and on the 25th we had roast duck. They don't traditionally eat turkey for Christmas like we would in Ireland. We also caught up with one of my husband's friends from his hometown which was fun.

I also had my 36th birthday! It was a quiet one, but there was yummy chocolate cake. Of course it felt special to be pregnant on my birthday after hoping and praying for so long for this. Hubby bought me a pretty rose gold bracelet and necklace with butterflies.

Week 32

Both my husband and I had some time off the days after Christmas and around New Year's. We met up with some friends but also spent a lot of time hanging out just the two of us and relaxing. Sometimes we'd stay in our pajamas till late morning when we didn't have anywhere to be. I bought Inda May's Childbirth book and I'm finding it really good so far. It's full of positive tales of how birth can be and it's nice to fill my head with those sort of stories to help me feel less nervous about the birth.

I've noticed a lot more aches and pains in general now. It's getting harder to move around and I'm much slower walking. I'm going to try to keep up going for walks when I can even if they are short and maybe go swimming a few times once I'm on my maternity leave. I also find I often wake up once or twice in the night to pee now. In general I feel more tired and get exhausted more easily, however I also have these random bursts of energy and then just feel really motivated to get stuff done! Hubby and I spent two days organizing things around the house and that felt great. Maybe it's "nesting", haha! I wish I had taken before and after pictures but we made some good progress clearing out one of the rooms in our basement.

New Year's Eve we just had a quiet evening for two! I had said to hubby that probably in the future it will be hard to go out on new year's eve with a child so now is our chance to do something if we want but he prefered to just spend it at home. Part of me felt a little like maybe we should be doing something, like going out for dinner at least but I was also happier just staying in! We made a yummy mushroom, corn and tomato cheesy pizza together, drank alcohol free prosecco and then watched the neighbourhood fireworks.

I only have one more week to work before my maternity leave starts. In Germany it's six weeks before the birth. To be honest I feel ready to stop. Although the idea of not being in the office for so long is a strange one! I'm looking forward to this time to get as much ready for the baby as possible and also catch up with friends and have time to relax. I've always been the sort of person who likes to plan things and know what I'm doing. So it seems strange to me the idea that the baby could choose to come at any moment! I hope she will stay in there until at least week 36 which is considered full term anyway but also ideally not go too far overdue past 40 weeks. I started packing my hospital bag already just in case.

One day of the Christmas holidays when we were over with my husband's family I thought I hadn't felt the baby move so much that day and started to get a little nervous. But then later that evening I felt her as usual and since then a lot. I think I'm getting used to the movement patterns. Like mornings and when I'm lying in bed I'll feel lots of kicks and often in the evenings watching tv. Or whenever I haven't moved around for awhile. She gets hiccups a lot too which is funny!

Sometimes I am reminded that this could very likely be the last time I am pregnant (since it was so hard to get to this stage in the first place and hubby and I have decided we wouldn't want to go through IVF again), and then I feel like I don't want this time to end and I'm in no rush! But at other moments I feel ready and excited to finally meet our little one. I have another doctor's appointment this week and then from now on it'll be every two weeks!

I'm a bit late posting this but Happy New Year to you all!