Monthly Archives: September 2012

34 & 35 weeks! And our maternity leave plans

34 week bump

Nearly 35 weeks! Officially 5 to go, so I guess we are looking at a 3-7 week time frame, which seems VERY SOON. It is hitting me that I will miss being pregnant. I will miss my bump, miss the ‘pregnancy look’, miss how much I love Oreos 🙂 OK, OK, I will also totally miss Wes running around after me too. I am still feeling great, but I do tire out more, which frustrates me. I am just back from a conference in San Antonio, and the sessions were 7am – 7.30 pm. Plus, some social/work dinners in the evening. I HAD to crash out most afternoons, and spend 3-6 in the hotel room, having a nap and then resting. Which annoyed me, but I guess is par for the course this late on. I also realized that I work super hard all week, fading a bit by Friday, and then crash at the weekend with at least one duvet day. The conference was Thurs-Mon, so I didn’t get a weekend, and I think that was part of the problem. In the grand scheme of things, it is not really a problem though: I got a lot out of the conference and had a great time.

5 weeks to go!

So… 5 (3-7) weeks to go, eh? I am mostly done with my crazy / crusty birth prep plans. I am just focusing on (1) some good positioning: finishing up my chiropractic treatment, brief daily inversions (20 seconds), pelvic tilts and trying to sleep in a good position (I failed to do this in the hotel); (2) My squats are going to start in earnest now – I am challenging myself to 300 a day (!); (3) getting good sleep in each night (it is frustrating that I can’t work and write grants late into the night at the moment, but it is so); and, finally, (4) eating 6 dates a day.

6 dates a day I hear you say? WTF? Yeah, really! check it out:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21280989

Can’t do any harm, and is probably nutritionally better than the Oreo / cake / ice cream sugar fixes I seem to have become dependent on.

We have been keeping up with our weekly ultrasounds. It’s good and bad. The good: Firework is doing awesomely, and passes his biophysical profile way quicker than expected. He also seems to maintain a good position: head down, starting to get into the pelvis, and facing towards my back. The not so good news is that the fluid is increasing, when it is supposed to be decreasing at this stage. So, when the OB’s view that I was ‘on the charts, just not a very good position on the charts’, has been refined to ‘off the charts’. The great chart of acceptability (my term) decided that women’s amniotic fluid should be under 20, but goes up to 25. I was hovering at around 23, so the high-risk OB said ‘eh… it’s not great, some people would let it fly, we’ll just watch you.’ This week it was up to 27…

What does this mean? No idea. Risk of premature labor, but at this stage, I am not too worried about it. Baby could go into distress… but he really does seem a happy little chappy. The most worrying thing is that the force of all the water, when it breaks, gushing out of me could cause a cord prolapse (DON’T GOOGLE IT UNLESS YOU HAVE TO, it’s not good. Seriously not good). So, when I see my OB in 1.5 weeks, I will talk to her about whether I should come straight into hospital when labor starts, rather than labor at home, as is my desire. At least then I would be in a good place to uh… ‘mop up’ and damage caused by gushing water. Yeah, terrible pun.

So, we don’t know what it means, other than that my bump is fairly ginormous, and I am carrying around an extra 2 lbs of water, which is theoretically harder on my body. But as my weight gain is still 20-21 lbs, I can’t really complain, eh?

Big Mamma 🙂

But still so many blessings to count. With my very wonky, and very small pelvis and my excess fluid I was extremely likely to have a weirdly placed baby. Not so: as I said, he is head down and facing back. I truly do attribute this to spinning babies and the chiropractic. And feeling great still: lots of energy, no backache, and I can even sleep on my front or back should my body so desire (weird image, I know).

34 week bump

So, with not much to report, I will discuss our maternity leave plans. In the grand old scheme of things, there is no maternity leave in Texas. I come from a culture where all my friends were home for 8 months with their baby, and it was just unheard of to put a baby in daycare until 6 months at least (actually, I was at a childminders before then, but I don’t know of anyone since). We can’t afford an in-home nanny, all our family are far away, and the thought of putting our wee one in group daycare when he was very wee, was just not something I could sit with. I pass no judgement on how anyone else chooses to raise their child. I personally think MY baby needs a full-time at-home experience for 6 (or maybe I need that – who knows?), preferably with a parent (at least until he gets some object permanence). But, I think of myself as a ‘true’ feminist: that is, I am for promoting equality (even if you have to give allowances to one sex to help them achieve that equality), not just women’s rights: so I had no reason to think one parent would be any better than another. So my husband and I put our heads together and figured Wes would stay home with Firework. My plan is to work from home for a good 6 weeks, going in as I am able and when I am needed: then back to full time. Wes will have the little un.

In fact, given Firework’s timing with my job change, we knew we had about 5 months in Texas before his arrival. 5 months in which (assuming a dip in productivity when FW arrives) I had to work like a proverbial to make up for any lost productivity. Wes would presumably take a few weeks to find a job… a week to start. 3 months of him working just didn’t seem worth it. So he stayed at home from the get-go, preparing to take on the job of raising Firework on a day to day basis.

So… I know a lot of people wonder: how has that worked out? How has it been? Obviously there was an adjustment period (for both of us) and that was a little tough – we moved tired and hormonal. I had a new job to adjust to, and a whole host of new responsibilities. Wes had a new life to adjust to. There was the odd fight 🙂 But… we did adjust. I dealt with some of my jealousy that Wes’ weekends are truly his weekends: I often have little ‘tasks’ to do (boring shopping, tidying my study etc) that I wish didn’t encroach upon my free time. Wes dealt with the fact that being at home could be boring, and that it does involve tasks you really don’t want to do – like all jobs. He says that on balance, he prefers it (being at home). I say on, on balance, no question: I prefer it.

Overall, it has been awesome for us, and in ways I didn’t expect. While driving to San Antonio, I had to think: was this choice worth the $2,000 Wes might bring in per month, plus the $400 we had to find for medical coverage? When it comes to raising your child in the manner you choose: of course, no question. But now, before the child? It has still been eye-openingly wonderful to me. I love feeling so cared for: Wes cooks dinner (and is getting really good at it!), and does most of the chores, so he helps me so much: he always knows where X item of clothing is and what foods I really like eating (like, he notices the foods I claim to like, but shove around my plate: hello most vegetables 😉 ). He knows a day-to-day side of me that he was just too tired or busy to see before. Also, Wes ‘maxes out’ easily: after a day from work he might watch a show or two with me, but mostly he wanted to zone out, play video games and surf the net. I ‘max out’ too: but when I max out, I want to talk and be near him. Now, when I come home exhausted and stressed, Wes is ready to spend time with me. We have just sat and talked and shared trashy TV and lazed on the sofa together way more in the last 4 months in Texas, than the last 2 years in Alabama. We’re closer. We ‘get’ each other more (although we still sit firmly on opposite sides of the political divide). It’s nice. In fact, it is wonderful. It is a glimpse of a life that yes, I think is worth upwards of $2,500 a month – although we are not exactly rich, and I baulk even as I type it. And, I recognize that I am lucky enough to have a job where I can afford to type that – you know?

I guess, I feel very grateful that I really now am living the life I wanted to lead when I threw away my 13-year long law school dream. I said I wanted to do something different: I wanted to (1) do something that made a good difference to people’s lives and (2) have a family life. A real, someone-at-home, close knit, advert family-life. But life gets in the way of that: academia is not so conducive to not only being home, but giving your all when at home. I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to try the lifestyle I dreamed of growing up and to find that it worked for me.

Oh, Wes thinks my belly has ‘dropped’ – do you? Is he coming soon?

Image credits

http://www.fitnessandfuel-la.com/2011/07/baking-with-dates-to-reduce-calories-sugar-and-fat/

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What really disturbs me about Romney’s 47% comment

And no, this is not about hating on the right. This is about some disturbing attitudes I have seen in America, from people very dear to me.

So, for the unenlightened (British?) reader, presidential candidate Romney – what Brits might call ‘The Leader of the Opposition’ – has got himself into hot water. A secret video camera taped Romney at a Republican fundraiser saying to those who could afford the $50,000 per plate entry fee (which I am OK with – but it just gives you a sense of who he was talking to):

“There are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47% who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. But that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. … These are people who pay no income tax…. My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

It hasn’t gone down brilliantly with some of America. And there are people who can dissect it way better than me, which is not the main purpose of this post (nor is it to whale on the right, so be patient, Republicans!). But suffice to say (for Brits again) that this 47% refers to people who don’t pay Federal income tax, but they may pay other forms of tax – sales tax, social security (which is like British National Insurance) etc. Now, if Rommers (as I randomly like to call him) wants to say “people who don’t pay income tax won’t vote for me, so I am going after everyone else’s votes” – well… alright then. It’s a bit exclusive, and probably wrong, but it’s his campaign and his prerogative. I guess. The problem is that he explicitly states that people who do not pay income tax:

“who believe that they are victims…[and don’t] take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

Now much of the press has focused on what makes up this 47% – highlighting that it is mostly the disabled, the veterans, the elderly and the ‘working poor’ – those who earn money, but not enough for their family size to qualify to pay income tax. See below for my gallery of such press images. I am not sure that is the real issue – I suspect Romney knew this. I used to think that I didn’t agree with his social policies but that he was quite smart, and if he supported freedom of choice for the individual (abortion, contraception), universal civil rights not based on a personal interpretation of one religion (e.g. equality for homosexuals!) and decent changes to the healthcare system (pre-existing conditions covered, and some more), I might quite like him. Now, after watching him on the campaign trail, I think that I don’t agree with his social policies, and he is a total tool. What Brits might call a spanner.

I also am convinced that, to an astonishing his degree, he utterly changes his stated policies to fit who he think might vote for him. I know a lot of politicians do it – some would argue Obama did it with allowing gay marriage – but my personal opinion is that Rommers does it more than most.

So, the concern to me is less that he may think that those who do not pay income tax do not have any ‘personal responsibility for their lives’, as I don’t know that he actually thinks that, it is more that he knows that saying that will win him votes. Because I have seen this view in Americans more than I am personally comfortable with. So yes, the press are correct:

(1) To jump on the fact that many people (e.g. vets) do take personal responsibility for their lives, yet not pay income tax.

(2) People on welfare, or not earning enough to pay income tax, do get out of the welfare cycle. There are personal stories , including that of Romney’s father and more statistical analysis, that show this is not always true – for this past point look up how many single parents end their TANF before their maximum time is up, due to earning enough.

(3) Just because some (likely less than 7%) of Americans may abuse the system, the system should still be there to help those genuinely motivated to improve their situation do so. He does not say the opposite of this, but perhaps there is an implication. (And please think on this America: do you want people to enter the low income / welfare cycle to have a chance at getting out, or not?

This is all out there in the commentaries, so I’ll leave it. I just kinda had to say it coz it was bubbling inside me. What breaks my heart, is that it speaks to an attitude I have seen all too much.

I have heard the view expressed (more than once) that people with extremely low paying jobs (e.g. hotel valets) are just not doing their best and trying hard enough – iften said with a tone of disgust. I am used to that view being thrown at the homeless. But, I am not used to that view being thrown at the gainfully employed – and I can’t sit with it (I can’t really dit with it with the homeless, but there we go). You know – I know someone who ‘cannot stand’ sign holders, valets at hotels, people with with these low-skill low-pay jobs. And the reasoning I get is:

“They are not even trying, they could do better”.

Really. REALLY??? You know their IQ? You know for sure it is high enough to ‘do better’? You know their mental health status? You know they are not cognitively crippled by extreme ADHD (with very low executive functioning skills) or some other? You know they didn’t experience some kind of horrendous deprivation / abuse in their life and it is damn amazing they face the world as they do. You know all this? You know their home-life, the neighborhood they grew up in, their school experiences and their personal skills to overcome any disadvantage. Because, you know what? We all have disadvantages, and we all have ones we can’t overcome. Some of us have health related issues that to others are ‘just another choice’. Is obesity ‘just another choice?” and if not, is having a ‘better’ job ‘just another choice’? Coz you know: society pays big for both.

Who are you to define what someone’s choice was? These are people who get up every day and do a job I would find soul destroying and drop out of. These are people employed by others who feel their job is useful. You hate sign holders?? They are apparently supporting the business growth I’ll bet you are mega in favour of encouraging. You hate hotel valets? Maybe they are helping the tourist industry your country needs. There is always a spectrum of wealth and earning. People will fall on both ends.

I’ll admit: before this trip, my attitude towards valets was ‘they are kind of irritating, because I hate saying no, but at least they hold down a job’. Then I traveled, alone, 8 months pregnant. And I changed my view. As I parked at the hotel I was like ‘holy heck, what would I do without a valet? I am high risk due to the excess amniotic fluid, it would be a terrible idea for me to carry my own (over packed) bags, and I would HATE to have to ask someone… I totally NEED this guy’. Heck, some people just want guys like this (and fair play to them) but I needed a valet. I felt bad I had been annoyed by valets in the past.
And then I began to think: if you are for trickle down economics – isn’t this the essence of it? If you take the traditional right-wing – what fits with your views? If hotels need valets, and it is a job that doesn’t pay enough to really make a life out of what can you do? (1) Demand businesses pay their valets A LOT more – but you don’t like that, right? You don’t want to add more financial burden to companies; (2) Allow them to be paid little, and people to choose to use the service and then make sure that it is a viable job option by providing welfare / tax breaks for these 47 %ers. Right? Because businesses deem these jobs as good for business. So you want (heck, I needed) the existence of low-skilled, low-paid jobs. But surely you don’t want to cripple people who have such jobs? Make it impossible to have a decent life, educate their kids, take care if their health, eat.

So please, stop looking at those who hold low-skilled, low-paid jobs as the scourge of society. Recognise their worth, don’t judge their choices ask you may ask that people don’t judge yours, and respect them. And, consider supporting someone who is holding a job and earning a honest $$ by using them – if you can.

Really, this post may seem pointless to some who are like “what is this rambling about respecting people we respect anyway”: let me say again, I have met more than one person who is disgusted by people holding such jobs. I hope that these people realise some people may actually be doing their best, and are providing a service that at least some people think is needed.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again: little more love people, little more love.

Gallery of 47 %-ers.

For the record… THIS is what was wrong with my hair

So, I was so distracted with the mole yesterday, that I didn’t point out the other trauma. My hair. I went in and asked for this:

I don’t know who this is, but she has pretty hair

I know my hair does this, because it used to look like this:

Me when I was 25

However, my “stylist” (and I use that word very liberally), gave me this horror-show:

WTF?

Not only is it not what I asked for, but it is a mess! He “forgot” (?) to put the feathering and layers into one side of the hair. Seriously – this is not my bad styling, this is the best he could do and how he let me leave the salon. To say nothing of the uneven bangs. He was clearly so busy telling me that: he used to be a millionaire, he had 2 number one singles with his band ‘Human’ (of which there now seems to be no trace), 3 women had married him and divorced him just for ALL his money, after his midwife had been up with his labouring wife for 54 hours he threw her out of the house for having a nap while the wife was upstairs having one too, being gay was wrong (yeah, that went down well) because women can’t procreate with other women (that went down even better) and so forth, he clearly forgot to actually cut my darn hair and just left one side as long, and fairly one length, while the other had short feathering and layers.

I was late to the conference today because after failing to fix it, I collapsed into tears again (this is how much of last night was spent). Dramatic? Yes, but I will point out that he also left my extremely thick hair, which has only been bolstered by pregnancy, looking lank and thin, my skin has broken out (OK, I got a spot), my nails all broke and my decision to wear a purple shapeless dress over the bump and cleavage made me look like Barney. Anyway, I texted my friend Kat to tell her why I was late and after the conference she offered to fix it. I have always declined Kat’s offers of haircuts, because I didn’t want to destroy a beautiful friendship if it went wrong. I shouldn’t have – she is a wonderful hairdresser! She did all sorts of clever ‘matching up’ or sides, and checking of lengths and snipping and evening (even cutting off some of the ‘good’ side) and although it is adamantly NOT WHAT I WANTED, it is at least a decent hair cut now that is you know: a whole darn haircut, not 50% layered and choppy and 50% just long.

Fixed!

This is all slightly compounded by the fact that I am still adjusting to having brunette hair and not bright blonde hair… which I miss. I feel so blah. Maybe the shade is not so good, and I should do Mila Kunis levels of dark? Who knows. Either way, being brunette is not easy… being brunette with 2 different hair styles: one on each side of your head is intolerable.

A plea to all my readers…

EDIT: Apologies for all the very many typos. My keyboard battery was dying.

So, here is what happened to me today (NO FRETTING, it has a good ending):

2 months ago, my friend Clio noticed a fairly prominent mole just above my bikini line had got bigger while I was pregnant, and if I was concerned. I had kind of noticed it too, but more in an ‘ewwww… gross’ kinda way, that a ‘what is wrong with this?’ kinda way. But, Clio noticing it was enough for me to mention it to my OB.

My OB took a look, and said “it doesn’t look too bad, and we don’t deal with things like that while in pregnancy, but I’d like you to get it checked out 6 weeks after birth by a dermatologist, just to be sure”. I agreed, but really, I wasn’t sure how likely that was to happen.

Fast forward 2 months, and my OB says to me “Hey, I was at lunch with a dermatologist and I mentioned your case. She said they *do* check people out in pregnancy – so here is her card”. She made me agree to call. Knowing I would be ‘checked up on’, I called, and got an appointment in a week’s time: today.

Ugh, the dermatologist was an hour late, at an extremely busy time for me. Honestly? I nearly just walked out claiming another appointment, and honestly? It was because I really don’t worry about my moles. Sure, I know the warning signs, and I look out for them, but it just didn’t seem like a likely, or an urgent, health concern. Anyway, as I was about to high tail it, they called me in.

The dermatologist looked at my mole. Her verdict? “Eh… doesn’t look worrying to me. It is the size we routinely remove, but not in pregnancy. Although the procedure is safe for pregnancy, we really don’t like to mess around with the body at that time, so I’m happy to leave this one”. As I was about to get dressed, I said “Oh, my husband noticed a mole on my upper back had changed – could you take a look?”. She did, and said there were no moles to worry about. She noticed (but was kind enough not to say!) that I a very mole-y person, and said “you know, there are some moles that could be checked on. But we really don’t mess with pregnant women’s bodies, if we can help it. Come back after the baby is born, say December… no rush… whenever… and I’ll do a full skin map for you. We can then just have a baseline for any future changes”.

Sounded good. I doubted whether I would really, actually make it back. Pressures of work and all, you know? I mean, she had given me a few months’ pass… whatever. Not a health concern. Then she suddenly said “Stop”. She bent over my lower back and said “Yes, this one comes off. Now”. Slightly dumbstruck I looked at her and said “Right, in December? When I am not pregnant, yeah?”. “No. Now. Today. It goes to pathology”.

A quick sharp intake of breath (lidocaine injection), a scalpel (100% painless) and a band aid later – the mole was removed and apparently I’ll have a fairly unattractive scar.

So… I am not really worried about this mole and the results. I mean – no one likes waiting for such results, but I am not especially concerned. But, it was a wake up call.  I take my health very seriously. I always have. I was less than 5 when I informed my parents I wasn’t getting enough Vitamin C and there might be too much fat in my food (for the record, my parents are pretty healthy eaters, all things considered). I was under 12 when I banned all artificial sweeteners. I exercise regularly, I watch my BMI, I stick to a reasonably healthy diet, I try to get my 8 hours of sleep, on average. I do love Diet Coke, but I restrict it and I drink it with guilt when I do 🙂

To me: health is a personal responsibility thing. With the upcoming election, I hear the Republicans talk about this a lot: when it concerns finances. How people on welfare are just not taking responsibility for their lives, and it costs others. In fact, an old tape of Romney’s has just been released in which he says exactly that:

“”There are 47 percent of the people [those who do not pay income tax] who will vote for the president no matter what. … who believe that they are victims,  These are people who pay no income tax. … [M]y job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

Whether you agree with Rommers or not, I do feel the same health wise (although I sorta think my ‘job’ is to help people take responsibility for their health, not to give up on them). In my opinion: We all have a personal responsibility to take good care of our health, or it costs others: be it costing $$ to those on your insurance plan, $$ to those who contribute to your welfare, or more worryingly to me: be it a huge emotional cost to your friends and family.

Do you have children you have a duty to be there for? Do you have a partner you promised to look after? Then you have a responsibility to look after your health, in my mind. Do you feel a responsibility to your parents – to be around for them? Again: then a responsibility to look after your health to your best ability.

I really feel that strongly about it. It enters into the quasi-religious to me as well: God gave me this body, and I am grateful, and so I should look after it. Yet, yet, I have had “get moles checked” on my list for years. YEARS. And done nothing about it. Why? I don’t know: apathy? fear? ‘it won’t happen to me’-ness?  All of the above. Ignorance about who to go to and when? Sure. Reluctance to dole out a $35 co-pay when I moved to the US and it was no longer ‘free’ [prepaid]? Yup. The feeling that I know enough about health care to know if something was really wrong? Bingo.

And what happened? A mole got to the stage where a dermatologist who is clearly very against any interference in pregnancy wouldn’t wait 2 months to deal with it. A very cautious specialist believed it needed action: NOW. Not in another 3-4 years when I finally bothered, not even in 2 months. Now.

I maintain: I am not especially worried, but I also maintain it should not have got to this stage. I am annoyed at myself for not taking responsibility for my health.

So: please, look after your health. Get outside, eat well, wear sunscreen and do all that. But also: go and see your healthcare professional. Get a mole map, get your pap smears, do your breast / testicle examination. All of those time consuming, money eating (if you are in the US… although perhaps not so much now, after ObamaCare), slightly boring, probably embarrassing, and quite awkward things.  Learn the warning signs of stroke and diabetes. Get to healthcare provider if you are at risk of any of them.

Look at it this way: we KNOW preventative care is cheaper and more effective than emergency troubleshooting (why do you think Romey practically invented ObamaCare? It wasn’t out of love for the health of people of Massachusetts…). We know it is financially more cost efficient, and emotionally too. We know it saves lives. And we are so lucky to be able to access it. Lucky to have it open to us (if in the US without adequate –  or any – insurance then my heart goes out you), and lucky to position to perhaps prevent an illness others have thrust upon them. Not all cancers are preventable (as an example) – some people have no choice but to battle it. You may be lucky enough to be able to prevent that.

So please, please use the best  preventative care offered to you at the moment, in every way that you can.

I’ll keep you posted on the mole results, but know that I am sleeping well 🙂

33 weeks!

33 weeks!

32 weeks here

Yes! “Officially” 7 weeks to go. And of course, 9 weeks max, as they will not let you go more than 2 weeks over your due date (which is probably a good policy…). So, within 9 weeks, I will be holding the wee one. Of course, I will technically be ‘full term’ in 4 weeks, which is quite scary, but I am thinking Firework may take him time coming out, so ~8 – 8.5 weeks is my guesstimate. Spread bets on the due date welcome: if you guess it correctly I might send you some chocolate 🙂

Me: I am doing super well. Now my grants are in (well 2 are) I am not so tired. I sleep fairly well, and have little to no back pain. Huzzah. I am per-emptively seeing a chiropractor who specializes in The Webster Technique to help prevent any back problems, and to aid better baby positioning – basically because my wonky pelvis and excess fluid was likely to = a chance of staying breech or staying wonky. And also, because it is supposed to help open up my teeny, tiny pelvis and so reduce the chance of a C-section. Note that when I comment on this, I recognise that smaller-hipped women than me give birth all the time, and indeed, my hips are not that tiny. It is a reference to the shape of my pelvis more than anything, and the very personal comments several doctors / OBs have given me about the lack of room. I’ll leave that to your imagination, or see here for further (clean) details.

The only negative thing is that the extra fluid is adding to the pressure on my stomach that would normally be experienced. One of the most common reasons for being admitted to hospital with polyhydramnios is severe nausea, so I am getting away with it OK. I can taste stomach acid most of time time, and have gone back to feeling pretty nauseous. But it isn’t too bad: gum often helps, and at least I am not in hospital.

So overall, I feel very blessed to feel so very well. I seriously can sometimes forget that I am pregnant.

Firework: Firework is doing very well as well. We are still being monitored weekly because of all the extra fluid, and they can still find no reason for it. He passes every biophysical profile with 8/8 and today, his growth was right on target, in the 45th percentile (yes child, remember your Mummy’s narrow pelvis and stay just a little below average… yes… eeeeexcellent).

Oh, and he turned! It just took him a long while. He slowly (over a week) worked his way to transverse (head out one side, butt out the other). Then, over a week, we tried to turn head down (clearly this boy is like his father and takes his own sweet time to do what I need him to do 😉 ). Then he got sort of ‘stuck’ with his head in the corner of my pelvis (probably due to its wonky shape) and maybe by luck, maybe by chance, but maybe due to the chiropractic adjustments (I like to think so, as my pelvis has changed shape dramatically), just after 2 session his head moved right down into its proper place. No more breech. And as an added bonus, my legs are no longer different lengths.

Fingers crossed he doesn’t rotate again 🙂

It is a huge pain: a have an hour long scan each week, a 45 minute OB appointment each week, 3 chiropractor’s appointments, and now: a dermatologist’s appointment as my moles have gone ker-azy with pregnancy and the OB has decided this is now NOT NORMAL. Welcome to America. (Not a bad thing… I’m just sayin’). I weasel out of all the ones that I don’t feel too guilty about doing so (cue one of my all-time favourite Simpsons quotes:

), but it is still painfully time consuming. Still, can’t complain, being at the high-risk clinic, we get the fancy 4D scans, which means we get to see his face!! Or, we were supposed to. In reality, the past 2 weeks, Firework has both turned away and hidden his face with his hands. Leaving me to look like a terrible mother as I was completely confused at what I was seeing. Wes would shout “Oh look! A nose” and I would hunt and hunt… but see nothing but orange blur. Wes would then say “Awww… he has covered his face with his hands” and desperate to ‘fit in’ I would try to see something. I tried once, but my “Oh, is that his nose! In profile?” was met with a stony “No, that is your placenta, I am going to cut it out from the picture” by the nurse. Wes would look smug and talk biotech and I would lie there mumbling to myself. But really, honestly, could you have seen our baby in this?:

Firework at 32 weeks

See? Not so easy is it (except for for Wes… bleurgh). But then, success!! This week, he turned and let us see him! He looks just like his Dad – clearly has his nose and we both have big lips which you can see as clear as day! Here he is: our mini-Wes:

34 weeks

Amazing huh?

Introducing Cedric!

Cedric

Today has been emotionally draining. It was an early, early start to get to the first OB appointment of the day for a scan, and then I didn’t get to my desk until 4 pm due to solid meetings, which I mostly had to rush between; normally this is not a problem, but it becomes more so in the 2 weeks before 3 grants are due (yeah, yeah, this is also why I have not emailed much). When I finally sat down, I found that somehow I missed the prelim deadline for one of the grants. I managed to mix up Monday (due date) and Wednesday (not due date). Fiddlesticks. Seriously.

Then after a frantic period of exhausting writing, I came home to find Robert with a dead duckling in his room of death. Sigh. It was *kinda* sad… but honestly, dead animals and the circle of life and all. I wasn’t that unhappy.

Then I found Walter with an alive duckling IN HIS MOUTH outside. We think he thought it was a toy, as it was essentially unharmed and he mostly laid it gently on the ground and walked around it. Now, dead ducklings: not so bad. Abandoned motherless ducklings, facing a life of miserable solitude? Hysterical sobs. Maybe the pregnancy hormones heightened it, but this is generally my outlook on life: all empathy for those suffering in my life, less so for those who have moved on from it.

Long story short, Wes and I now have some extra, unplanned parenting experience, as we nurse Cedric back tonight. He will be a very temporary member of the Frazier-Wood household, as ducks don’t do well alone, and should be in groups, but temporary members are loved members nonetheless. He is currently holed up in FW’s bathroom with a bowl of sugar-water, some greens, a heat lamp and a soft blanket.

Left alone, he runs about in there quite happily, so that is basically Wes and I’s plan: let him spend the night and then find him a wildlife sanctuary with other ducks, and with better equipment ASAP. We probably won’t have time this time tomorrow 😦

31 weeks…

31 weeks!

9 more weeks to go! Although, as the old British song goes, it is not ‘9 more weeks of sorrow’, as generally, I am loving being pregnant. Weight gain is minimal (18 lbs exactly), and I have almost no discomfort. My nails are thick and strong for the first time in my life, and for almost the first time, I don’t look at my belly and scowl, but grin 🙂 Sure, I have days where I feel like a whale, but they pass. Pregnancy suits me, I think.

30 weeks and a cheesy grin

Medical update: So, a biophysical profile revealed that I still have a lot of amniotic fluid. 93rd percentile. So, as my high-risk OB put it “It’s not OFF the charts… it’s just not in a great position ON the charts’. What does this mean? Who knows? It can mean a birth defect, but they cannot for the life of them find one, although I did feel my OB’s bedside manner left something to be desired when he said ‘sometimes there is a birth defect that you don’t see until the baby comes out’. Ouch. It can mean that I have gestational diabetes, but my pancreas passed the test with flying colours (my sugar should return to 130 within an hour, and mine was 107), plus I have no other symptoms. It can just be ‘idiopathic’ which I hope is the case. But… it requires monitoring. Because a sudden increase in fluid (to off the charts level) could be very bad, and it can affect fetal growth negatively. So, they want to ultrasound me weekly.

Yeah… not so happy about that. Not so happy about the effects of WEEKLY ultrasounds on Firework, and honestly? Not so happy about missing – effectively – 1/2 day of work a week on top of my regular appointments. Sigh. And not happy, because I do honestly believe that this is a US medical system fail. Extra amniotic fluid = increased risk of breech, which = increased risk of C-section, which = increased risk to mother and baby. It also can = increased risk of chord prolapse (as the chord gets pushed out by the force of all the fluid) which = increased risk to baby and an emergency, panicked C-section. Now, ultrasounds do not prevent this, AT ALL. They give no indication, of whether these will happen. What they do allow (IMHO) is high risk OBs to make a heck of a lot of money if something does go wrong, the OB to say ‘well we did everything we could beforehand’. Sigh. At least Wes comes with me, and at least I get to have cute pics of Firework (except this time I didn’t because he kept turning his butt towards the ultrasound, and when when they did finally get his face, he put his hands up in front of it).

Ultrasound

I also found out Firework is still breech! My OB will NOT do breech for a first-time Mum, and with my teeny-tiny pelvic arch i.e. vaginal canal (which I not only wish OBs would stop commenting on, but especially wish they would stop commenting on to my HUSBAND, and asking for verification. HOW PERSONAL). I am told not to worry until 36 weeks, but as it is rather late by then, I have put into place, a plan-of-action a lot based around ‘spinning babies‘:

Breech tilt. FYI – ACOG recommends you only do this 12″ off the ground. This is for illustrative purposes only. I actually use a much lower surface.

-A week of daily breech tilt inversions (20 mins twice a day).

-A week of almost daily rebozo sifting

-Sitting on a balance ball at work

-Occasional knee-to-chest positions

-As much cross-legged sitting as I can be bothered with.

I don’t have a great chance, to be honest. Risk factors for breech include: small pelvic arch, septum in uterus, excess amniotic fluid and an anterior placenta. I have all four! My OB doesn’t do ECV, but if I decide to go for it, my high risk OB (based at Baylor) does. He says there is an ~80% success rate, which can drop to ~50% in my case. Worth a shot I say! Before that: if it doesn’t work by Tuesday, I am actually going to try daily moxibustion for a week. YES. Actually. And frozen peas on my fundus. Fingers crossed for me guys.

Wes preparing for Moxibustion. He is ridiculous.

NB: We have checked everything with my OB for safety. Even the rebozo sifting. He thinks it is all quite bizarre, but quite safe 🙂
The only other upshot of all the fluid, according to my OB is that my body is working extra hard to create / replace it (which normally is stopping by about now) and extra hard to carry it around. Which equals tiredness. Really, I feel OK, but this has hit at a time when work is crazy, with me aiming to write four grants in a month (some are small, and some have some cross-over). I think that, more than anything, is wearing me out. especially as my work hours are generally 8.30-8 at the moment. Suffice to say, I come home tired. Actually, generally, too tired to even wash my hair (it was a WEEK until Wes rescued me and did it tonight – yuck) and can rarely do much more than eat a few bites of dinner and collapse on the sofa. Which is not terrible, but not great or general productivity. Hence why I owe many friends many emails. It’s also odd for me: I am not a morning person EVER, but I have always been able to pull out emergency stretches of night owl behavior for grant time: working 10am-2/3 am for a few weeks was not a problem. Now, it is just not an option.

Sharing one of my duvet-evenings, Walter says he is very tired by pregnancy and grants too.

But, a reduced work schedule, without compromising results, and makeup-free / yesterday’s clothing days and unwashed hair is just something I am going to have to get used to in Mummyhood right? It’s all good practice.

More fun update: My Ma sent us a crib! She has already sent us the stroller of our dreams. But then found out that we were planning on getting a pack n play for sleeping as we are trying to save money. So, Mum found an awesome crib and shipped it to us 🙂 Now we get to go bedding shopping – that’s when I will upload a picture. Then, I think we have everything we NEED…. which basically only amounts to: crib, changing table, stroller, infant bouncer, blankets, babygros and hats and socks. We think. 🙂

Wes’ Mum didn’t want me to have ZERO baby shower (new place… no long term friends etc) so she also sent us a very cool and stylish baby bouncer. It has got a solid wooden base, and we got the brown and light green one which works really well with our decor. I read wonderful reports about kids absolutely loving it as soon as they are able to support their head, but in the meantime:

Bobby says it is amazing 🙂

Dinah also says the infant bouncer is great.