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!

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!

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.