Friday, 30 December 2005

Weighty matters


Even Janel ate well over the Christmas period :-)
She was weighed yesterday and now tips the scale at a hefty 2.7kg (5lbs and 15 oz) which is great news, but the midwife was still concerned that her colour hadn’t improved. She discharged Janel from midwife care, but insisted we check with the doctor today about the jaundice. When we saw the doctor, he said that he needed to phone the pediatrician as St Thomas’ and my heart sank – we’d been planning to escape London for a few days over New Year, and the last thing we wanted was to be sent back to hospital. Fortunately, they just said that they’d make an outpatient appointment for her to be seen next week, so that was a massive relief!!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.
Lots of Love
GNJ

Sunday, 25 December 2005

First Christmas

Christmas was a quiet affair – we went down to the cousins in Guildford with Cathy and Ross, and had a lovely, relaxed, happy day.


Reindeer booties that are much too big for her still – but then she kicks off everything we put on her feet at the moment.



Our little Christmas pudding!! :-)











Proud Daddy!!

Wednesday, 21 December 2005

Gaining weight

The good news is that Janel has continued to feed fairly well and gain weight – she is now 2.4 kg (5lbs and 5 oz in old money). The not-so-good news is that she is still a little yellow, so while Nicole has been discharged by the community midwife, they still want to keep an eye on Janel for a little while longer. They will visit again on Friday and if she has gained another 50g by then (2oz) they will discharge her as well (as long as the colour is no worse). Meanwhile, I have stepped up to the plate of the 3am feeds with mixed success – one good feed and one not so good.


In other news, independant witnesses have once again confirmed that Janel is simply gorgeous.


Lastly, we received a gift (a pink baby outfit) from Littlewoods some time ago, but there was no name attached, so we don’t know who to thank for it – if it was you, please drop us a line.
Lots of love, GNJ

Monday, 19 December 2005

Settling in


After all the to-ing and fro-ing, it’s good to be home and settling into some sort of rhythym. Janel’s feeding is reasonable (not great – because she’s still jaundiced, it sometimes takes a Herculean effort to get her to wake up enough to feed), and is somewhere between every 2 and 3 hours. This means that she is putting on weight (finally!), albeit slowly, but also means that I’ve had very little sleep, or rather, the sleep I have been able to get has been very broken. Either way, I am really tired. I have been trying to sleep when Janel does, but am finding it hard to sleep during the day, particularly in the afternoon. I’m hopeful that I’ll learn to do so before too long, because othewise I know I’m going to burn out.
We had planned to split the night-time feeds between us, with me expressing milk, so that I could get some longer undisturbed sleep, but (Murphy’s Law!!) the breast pump we bought was faulty. Fortunately, the manufacturers have been brilliant, and sent us replacement parts, which arrived over the weekend. So, hopefully now I can get on with expressing and then Graeme can take on one of the night shifts. Oddly, although he’s had more sleep than I have, he looks more tired than I do.
I’m looking forward to having Graeme at home with us. He’s got another 2 days and then he’s home for a week. Sadly, he has to work between Christmas and New Year, but then he has another week off to be at home. We haven’t done our Christmas shopping yet, nor put up the tree (which I usually do WELL in advance), so it doesn’t feel like Christmas to me yet. Hopefully all that will change in the next few days, because I’d hate for our first Christmas as a family to be an anti-climax.
Last night Janel made her debut at church. We decided to go to the carol service, and I’m so glad we did because the service was absolutely fantastic. I’m not one for carol services really (over-exposure at school, especially having to sing them in Latin… not really conducive to enjoyment!), but I really loved this one. It was also good to to be able to introduce Janel to all our friends who hadn’t yet visited us. She was a darling and well-behaved (there are some benefits to this jaundice thing!), and also managed her first proper bottle feed. (Good to know she tolerates a bottle… means I have less worries about leaving her with someone.)
Anyway, I need some breakfast and already I hear her stirring for her next feed…
Happy Christmas to you all – may you celebrate the birth of the Saviour with joy and may the peace of Christ rule in your lives this festive season!
Nicole

Wednesday, 14 December 2005

... and home again

Yes, we’re back at home, the blood cultures were negative, the billirubin levels stayed low and Janel was eating well enough to gain a little weight. All good things, and long may they continue…

Saturday, 10 December 2005

...and back again!


Well, we’re back in hospital – hopefully for just a few days, but it is very frustrating none the less!!
On Friday morning, Janel was not showing much interest in feeding and looked as if she had become much more jaundiced during the night. By happy coincidence, the area midwife paid her first postnatal checkup that morning, and she agreed that she was rather yellow and suggested we follow it up with the hospital, so we took her back to St Thomas’ where she was readmitted pending some blood tests.
The tests appararntly showed a slightly elevated billirubin level, so she was put under lights again at lunchtime on Saturday, in the same sort of box as last Friday – with the same response. It is just too cold for her and she began to scream. We managed to convince one of the midwives that we weren’t going to put her through that and she found us an incubator which worked much better.
We saw a doctor later that afternoon (at last) and she said that while Janel could come off the lights (as the raise in the level was not significant), there was some concern that she might have an infection, and that they were going to put her on a course of antibiotics while the blood cultures that would confirm this were grown – better safe than sorry, but it does mean that she will be in hospital for at least another 48 hours, and Nicole with her…
So here we are again – staring across the river at Westminster Palace, and wishing we were at home. Seriously though, it is best to get these things out of the way, and I would rather be inconvenienced for a few days than run the risk of having a seriously ill baby in a week’s time. Still, I’d rather have her at home…

Thursday, 8 December 2005

HOME!!


We’re home!! We’re home!!
Coming home I was a bit emotional. Having been on the same ward for over a week, and having had complications, I got to know the staff quite well, and found it really hard to say goodbye, knowing that I’ll never see these people who played such a crucial role in Janel’s first hours and days again. It was also rather a reality check coming home – piles of laundry to do, general house cleaning to do, and decisions to make about what to buy and where to put everything, not to mention the awesome responsibility of caring for a (prem) baby on our own.
Our first night was an anxious one, for me anyway! For one thing, it’s a hang of a lot quieter than the ward, so every time Janel whimpered even slightly, I was awake and aware. For another, it was too cold for her. We don’t have the heating on at night because the flat is kept nice and warm by the others around us. However, we realised that after the warmth of her lovely incubator, Janel found it too cold for sleep and consequently spent a lot of the night niggly and whimpery. She was in a less good mood today as a result. (She definitely takes after her mother in this regard!) We don’t want to leave the heating on all night every night, so we#ll have to have a play around over the next week to find the right balance.
Having said that though, she is such a good baby! We went shopping today for all the things we hadn’t yet bought, and were out for about 3 hours. Not once did she whimper or cry or cause a fuss in all that time! What a blessing she is!

She also had her first bath today! She really did not like the water (as you can see), but then I’ve heard that apparently few babies do initially.
Speaking of unhappy – I hear her crying… feeding time!
Nicole

Tuesday, 6 December 2005

Nearly home


Well, the levels *were* down and Janel and Nicole were reunited – although baby needed to stay in her incubator and under lights as often as possible. She needs three blood tests in a row below the treatment level, and then the phototherapy can stop, and then a further test several hours after that to make sure that it has stayed below and she can be discharged. Her second clear test was this morning, and they took the blood for the third at supper time, but the results weren’t in when I came home for the evening. Hopefully that will be clear and Nicole can sleep in the dark tonight :-) and then the final test will be tomorrow morning – all of which means that we could have our baby girl at home with us by tomorrow night!!!



This incubator is “climate controled” and Janel seems to be getting used to being in it, so doesn’t make too much of a fuss – although she has a habit of pushing her mask up off her eyes. She also tends to kick off her hospital tags, which is why she has one on her wrist *and* her ankle, and there is also a third one just out of shot at the end of the bed!! She is feeding well, and has put on some more weight, so all the signs are positive. We measured her this evening, and she’s about 51cm long (almost 20 inches), looks like she’s going to be a tall elegant lady like her mother!!
It will be very cool to finally get her home, although I must say that the thought is also rather scary – a hospital is a safe place to look after a baby, you know that there are experienced professionals just around the corner to call upon if you run into difficulties; at home it is that little bit harder to find help when you need it…
Until the next time.
Graeme

Monday, 5 December 2005

Photo-blog

Some Photographs to keep the wolves from the door… 



Nicole on her bed in the postnatal ward


Daddy and Daughter – not a great photo, I’ll have to take some more!!


Nicole with “Krypton Baby” – this is the light treatment blanket that Janel wore over the weekend.


View from the SCBU – makes it a really relaxing place for parents!!


View from the ward – sunset over the river and Parliment, not quite as nice!!

Saturday, 3 December 2005

What a difference a day makes


Well two days to be exact…
Janel has been in the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) over the weekend, receiving light treatment and being fed by a tube down her nose, and has much more energy when it comes to feeding time. She has is improved nicely over the last 48 hours, and for the last few feeds managed to take all the milk she needed directly from Nicole. Her billirubin tests (indicator of jaundice) had steadily decreased and she was taken off the light treatment this morning. Her weight has improved and had gone up to 2.12kg last night.
Although this separation (the SCBU is on the same floor as Nicole’s ward, but on the other side of the building) has been hard for Nix, it has allowed her a little time to herself for sleeping between the feeding and the expressing. Even so, on a ward with four beds there is plenty of coming and going to keep you awake!!
We are waiting for the results of the latest test as I type, but hopefully, if things have not got worse, Janel will be able to leave the SCBU and sleep with her mom tonight. It seems likely that she will be kept in hospital for a few more days to make sure that she continues to gain weight, and that the billirubin stays down.
There are more photos, but I haven’t got around to downloading them from the camera yet!!
Love to all
Graeme

Wednesday, 30 November 2005

And suddenly... there she was


Well, all of a sudden its all over and we have a daughter!! Since we thought we’d have another 6 weeks to debate the matter, she doesn’t have a name yet, but she was born just after noon on Tuesday and weighed in at 2.19kg.
Nicole’s waters broke just after 7pm on Monday evening and there was some bleeding, so the hospital told us to come straight in. She was contracting every other minute for about a minute when I got there after dropping her off and parking, and they moved her to the labour ward to keep an eye on her and baby. She was about 1cm dilated at that time. The contractions calmed down after a while and I left her there to come home and drop off the car and fetch some extra panties – there was a lot of water coming out of the woman!! She was almost exactly 34 weeks, so they thought that everything would be fine, but they gave her a steroid injection which will help the development of the baby’s lungs.
We spent Monday night in the labour ward, and by mid-morning Nicole was having painful but irregular contractions – her blood test had revealed an infection of some kind and so they decided to induce in case it has passed to the baby. They put her on the drip at 10am and I decided to go home and have a shower and get changed as the doctor reckoned that she would take 10-12 hours to deliver, and that they would re-assess in 4 hours. Nicole called at about 11:30 to say that I needed to come back at once as labour proper had started (she’d gone from 1.5 cm to fully dilated in less than 90 min!!!!). Unfortunately, baby was born while I was stuck on a tube outside Kennington – bum luck!! There was a bit of a scare when her heartbeat couldn’t be located, so she was delivered by ventouse to get her out ASAP. Her chord was wrapped around her neck and she was apparantly VERY purple, but she started breathing on her own and seems to be happy and healthy. She’ll be kept in for at least 48hrs while various tests are done and antibiotics administered. Nicole tore a blood vessel and needed several stitches, but her perineum is fine. I was there for the stitching and that was bloody and painful enough – perhaps being stuck in the tube was a mixed blessing :-)
That’s enough for now – more details about the first few days to follow later.
Graeme

Monday, 14 November 2005

A small scare


Coming back after a week’s holiday was a shock to the system! Not least because everyone at work kept commenting on how suddenly my bump has enlarged. So here’s a photo (32 weeks), just to confirm that actually, I’m not that large (although I feel ENORMOUS!). (I’m not smiling cos I’m in pain… see below.) As the measurements go, I’m right on target.
Baby is now head down, although not engaged, which explains why my ribs are getting the beating they are: it feels like she already has a diploma in kickboxing! Apparently weeks 30-32 are the ones when babies are most active, at around 470 movements a day. Hers all appear to take place between noon and midnight, and mostly into my ribs! Let’s hope that once she’s born she’ll change her routine and be more active in the morning and less active at night.
I’ve started feeling some Braxton-Hicks contractions, which can be rather uncomfortable. At least I know that everything is working normally though and my uterus is exercising for the big day.
Drumroll please……. After much deliberation and thought we’ve finally decided on a name… ‘Oi! You!’. Only joking! We’re no closer to choosing a name for her actually. Although we had a brief spell of agreeing on one potential name, none of my current favourites even hit the page for Graeme. So it’s back to the drawing board I guess. In worst case scenario, I guess ‘Oi! You!’ could work…. after all, some poor kid we know of has been given R2D2 as his middle name! And in other news today I discovered that some poor child of a celebrity star was given the first name of ‘Moon Unit’ – no kidding. (Can’t remember which celebrity, though I think the surname was Zapper….)
Last week coincided with a rather bad piece of news: Graeme’s gran died rather suddenly. She was 91, and in frail care following a serious fall, but had been making good recovery. We had hoped she would live till March, which is when his family was gathering back home for a wedding, and would have been the first time the baby would be introduced to them. It would have made a lovely photograph to have her holding her first great-grandchild. Sadly, ’twas not to be. Thankfully we know she’s in a better place now, out of pain, and we know that she lived a full and happy life and had a ‘good innings’. Right to the end she was other-centered and uncomplaining – such a challenging witness to all of us from the ‘Now’ and ‘Me’ generation!
Today we had a bit of a scare. I’ve been getting odd little pains at the top of my stomach, which I put down to the baby kicking. Last night, however, it became excruciating. Today was better, but still rather severe. So I took myself off to the local hospital (not the one I’m booked into) for a check-up. At first they couldn’t find the baby’s heartbeat, which was scary enough; when they did, she then decided to show off by going through an entire gym routine for over an hour! What a show-off, even at this tender age!!
Then they thought I was going into prem labour, at which point I thought I handled it all rather calmly and made a few jokes to cover my panic! When they did an internal exam though (and took a quick smear – OW!!!) they realised I wasn’t. (Phew!) The docs then thought I must have fibroids (small benign tumours in the uterus) so did a quick ultrasound scan. They were wrong yet again.
So the good news is that all is well with baby. The bad news is that they haven’t got the foggiest clue why I’m pain. I’ve been given a course of painkillers and told to keep an eye on it at home. It’s just “one of those things”, I was told. Thanks for that! That’s really going to help me sleep better tonight. Still, it could be worse – I could have gone into labour. I’m grateful that the baby is fine, and at the end of the day, I don’t really care about how much pain I’m in, as long as she continues to be okay. (I’m definitely turning into a mother!)
Hey! Did you read in the news today that wrapping up warm – especially noses, heads, hands and feet) really does stop you getting sick? (Well, it’s not quite as straighforward as that, but the outcome is the same.) So my Mommy was right after all! I think I’ll definitely become a fussy mother now…. “put your jersey on Love, I’m cold”.
Nicole

Friday, 28 October 2005

30 weeks and counting


The pic is a bit out-dated. It was taken in week 26, and I’m now in week 30, but it gives you an idea of the size I’ve become!
I read recently that as we near the end I need to keep an eye on how frequently the baby kicks – anything less than 10 times in 12 hours and we have a problem. Needless to say, no sooner did I start trying to count, than she went through a VERY quiet phase, and I started to panic quietly to myself. However, she soon picked up again and has been VERY active since.
At the moment she seems to be lying diagonally across my stomach – one end up under my ribs and the other pushing down into my pelvic area. Because she’s getting so big now, when she turns you can actually see a wave across my belly – it’s like watching a tsunami wave before it reaches the beach: you have no idea just from watching it of the power beneath the surface!! Most of the time now, when she’s kicking, it’s incredibly uncomfortable and frequently quite sore – especially when she kicks up into my ribs and lungs.
Again, because she’s getting so large, I’m finding my lung space dramatically reduced, so I’m finding even little tasks take far more energy than previously simply because I can’t get enough air. In terms of teaching, that means that I no longer have the lung capacity to yell at kids! I’m sure they appreciate it, but it is really handy to be able to yell when you need to – particularly in emergencies where they are in danger!
I’ve only got another 7 weeks left at work. It feels like an eternity, but I’m sure it will pass quickly enough. I’d love to start maternity leave sooner, but then that means I’d have less time at home after the birth, which is more important to me. So I guess I’ll have to just slow down and pace myself to ensure I can make it at work till then!
Nicole

Saturday, 15 October 2005

28 weeks


Another milestone reached – 28 weeks! It’s amazing to think that if the baby were born today, she would be able to survive. It’s incredible that all she will do from now on is mature and grow, but that she is already fully formed.
So of course, I’ve been thinking a lot about a prem birth, particularly as I’ve recently heard from a number of first-timers who have had one, usually with complications. And feeling suitably terrified of labour. I still don’t want to think about it, and I’m not sure that I will want to think about it at all between now and then; not that I want to be uninformed or ill-prepared, but my imagination is active enough and thinking about the pain makes me feel rather … I don’t know… “uncomfortable” doesn’t begin to cover it!
I guess I’m also trying to avoid thinking about what happens after the birth… from chronic tiredness to post-natal depression (which I know I’m going to have… and I’m not just being pessimistic here – I have both the temperament and the hormonal make-up that are common in women who get it), from having to get over the gag reflex and dealing with nappies to dealing with a screaming baby and split nipples; to the ultimate terror of having to be completely responsible for this little thing for the next umpteen years.
I know there are plenty of joys – bonding with her, first smiles, first everythings… but right now it’s a bit hard thinking about those when I know there’s a lot of really unpleasant stuff to deal with as well. I know I’m not ready for this – not in a million years – and it doesn’t help that I know no-one ever is.
So that’s my current psychological state. Physically I’m okay. She’s still kicking ferociously, and doing millions of tumble rolls. At times it feels like someone is running a finger down the inside of my stomach, and squashing my solar plexus against my stomach muscles – very weird! She’s been kicking my ribs and lungs quite a bit too, which has been really sore – to the extent that I have to get up and walk around a bit to calm her down.
Having said last time that my cramps had gone, it seems they’ve returned. The past few days I’ve had really bad foot cramps again, which neither heat, nor massage, nor walking, nor salt seems to have helped. My indigestion has also gone through the roof again the past few days.
I’ve been really trying to keep calm at work, and not yell or get angry (to keep my blood pressure down, amongst other things) and to work shorter days (rather than the usual 10 hour days I do). This past week was really good – I even managed to leave school at 4pm on 3 consecutive days! (That’s an all-time record for me!) As a reward for this, I took myself shopping on Friday, and got a really nice preggy wear outfit for work – who says you have to look frumpy when you’re pregnant?!?!
Graeme’s had the cold I had, so neither of us has been sleeping well, with the result that I’ve been more tired than normal. We’re both on the mend though, so hopefully sleep will return to normal soon, and with that, some more energy! I’ll need it next week – my work load shoots through the roof (it’s tests and projects week, so marking will be my primary, secondary and tertiary activity for the week!)
This weekend we spent some time getting the spare room more or less ready to become a nursery. As baby will sleep in our room for the first while (and my mom will be in the spare room), we just sorted and cleared to make space for a rocking chair and stuff. It felt odd – like planting bulbs for spring – you put them in the ground according to a how you imagine they will look when they flower, but you really won’t know whether you’ve been successful or not until the spring. You put all this effort in, but you still only have bare ground to look at all through the winter. (Of course, it’s all worth it for the sudden bloom, but it’s a long time to wait!) So we’re trying to imagine how all the baby stuff will fit in the room, and what needs doing in anticipation of that, but the room is still far from being a nursery, and won’t be one properly till April some time… about the time my bulbs will be flowering!
Nicole

Tuesday, 4 October 2005

3rd trimester already!


I can hardly believe that I’ve already reached the 3rd trimester! 26 weeks! We’re into the final stages now…
I feel even more huge than ever, although everyone says how tiny my bump is. Looking at some of the other women at the clinic today, I have to agree. I am tiny. Definitely in the round, rather than a protruding bump. The blessings of a first pregnancy and unstretched muscles I suppose – except that that means the baby pushes on your organs more….
Had a slight concern at my check-up today as it looks like I may have developed diabetes. It doesn’t come as a surprise – I’ve always been on the high end of the normal bell curve where it overlaps with the diabetes bell curve, so I’d anticipated getting it during pregnancy. At this stage, they’re not going to do anything about it, just monitor it at the next check-up. Less biscuits for me then….
I’ve also picked up a cold – nothing too serious – which means my heart rate is up even more, and I’ve been feeling rather faint. Still within normal rates, I’m assured, but definitely higher than normal for me. Even the short trip to the clinic today (by car!) was enough to lay me out for a bit afterwards.
Sensibly, and before anyone tells me to take care of myself, I’ve taken time off work, so hopefully this won’t go down into my chest, which is when my other normal problems tend to arise. Given that the weather has turned, and winter is definitely on its way, I need to avoid getting worse at all costs, and I’m being good and taking care. Can you imagine trying to give birth with bronchitis or pneumonia??? Nah, thanks, I’d rather not!
On the up side, my leg cramps seem to have all but disappeared! I still get twinges, but nothing near as bad as previously. While my sleep is now less disturbed by them, I’m starting to find turning over in bed difficult and that because of my bump pulling my spine in odd directions, my back is getting sore at night.
I’ve taken to having extra pillows for support for the first part of the night. They’re too much hassle to sleep with the whole night – making turning over a complete nightmare – but at least it seems to have stopped the backache.
The other up is that the Tissue Oil my mom sent me (South African miracle skin product!!) has stopped that horrible stretching sensation – both muscular and skin. I use it religiously every morning, except on weekends when my morning routine is different, and on those days I can really feel the difference! As yet, no stretch marks either.
Baby is doing well – kicking ferociously now, especially any time I raise my voice (usually to tell a kid off for not doing their homework…) or use my stomach muscles or change sitting/ sleeping position. All the measurements are normal, and the heart beat sounds normal. We’re still no nearer to naming her, although *ara variations are all high on the list (Tara, Zara, Lara, Cara, etc.). We’re in no hurry about this – when we see her I’m sure we’ll figure out what suits her best.
OK – time to rest some more while I can.
Nicole

Sunday, 25 September 2005

The long haul


Phew! Work has been manic! We’ve had 2 Open Evenings and an Open Morning, and that in between all the other more normal hassles of starting a new school year. As a result, I had to work last weekend to keep pace with myself. I calculated that over the past 2 weeks I’ve worked an average of 10 hour days, with one 13 hour day. Not easy at the best of times, but especially so when you’re nearly 6 months pregnant!
However, on the up side, my new chair arrived at work. That has made the world of difference to me! It enables me to teach while sitting, and still allows me to be visible to the kids on their stools. If only all problems were as easy to solve.
My indigestion has been getting steadily worse, despite the antacids, and I’m now down to eating about half what I used to be able to at one sitting, which means I’m constantly feeling peckish and hungry. I’m not convinced that all this eating regularly isn’t what’s making my indigestion so bad (as my stomach is now constantly producing acids to cope with the constant eating), but everyone assures me that it isn’t. I’m looking forward to a life without indigestion in a few months, please God!
My stomach is now really starting to get big, although everyone else tells me that it’s still small and expresses wonder at how trim I seem. Maybe my clothes are just baggy enough to hide it, but I certainly feel huge.
My back has started to hurt, so I imagine my pelvis has started to shift, and this is where the real prayers begin. I fractured my spine when I was young, and didn’t know it at the time. The upshot of that is that the sacrum (last few fused vertebrae) now points inwards instead of outwards (as it should). Ever since, it has given me lower back pain, especially when I’m tired/ stressed and/or the weather changes. My GP assures me it shouldn’t be a problem in labour and I’ll be able to give birth naturally, but I’m still not convinced it won’t cause me a heck of a lot of pain never the less. So, as my back pain returns, I’m praying this won’t add to it.
While things at work seem to be calming down somewhat as everyone settles into the routine again, I’m left pondering the long haul to Christmas. On the one hand, I’m pleased it’s several months away – I will need that time to do some more reading and prepare myself for motherhood (can you ever really be prepared for something so life-changing???) – and so Christmas seems but a breath away. On the other hand, I’m already tired of being large and uncomfortable and tired, and want it all over with as quickly as possible – and so Christmas seems a life-time away.
I’m excited about meeting this new individual and I want to get started on this new journey, and I want to do it now. Yet, I feel apprehensive about what exactly the future holds for Graeme and I, and I want to put off the change for as long as possible, keep things the same for as long as possible.
So ultimately I feel I’m just marking time – moving inexorably towards a destiny over which I have no control, but which I know will forever change my paradigm – and I HATE that (both the marking time thing, and the feeling of powerlessness thing). I can’t bear the thought of feeling like this for another 3 months. I want to enjoy this pregnancy, not be constantly fretting about how much longer there is to go.
I guess that’s one of the reasons I want to work for as long as possible – give myself something else to think about and focus on. Sitting around being philosophical only results in too much navel gazing (which leads to this sort of morbid introspection and depression) and not enough engaging with (and truly living!) life – SO, I’m off to do some baking now – engage myself in a useful leisure activity while I still can. A bit of comfort food, especially of my own creation, never went amiss!
Nicole

Saturday, 10 September 2005

Back to work


Phew! I managed to survive the first week back at work. The kids weren’t too bad, although some of the girls did exclaim loudly when they saw how my stomach had grown! I’ve been inundated with questions about the sex of the baby, mainly from the girls, but decided that I’d keep them guessing for a while.
I’ve had to ask for a new chair as I can’t teach standing up, I’ve discovered. By the end of the day, if I do, my stomach is really tender and all I can do for the rest of the day is lie with my feet up. So, I’m getting a new one that can rise up to about 80cm, which should be high enough to sit on and teach. Of course, once the order is placed, it will take another 2 weeks before it arrives. I’m not sure what I’m going to do in the interim, but I will definitely have to ask my TA’s to do more running around in the class, as well as setting more individual work from laptops or textbooks, rather than practicals, so that I can get a chance to sit down during lessons.
The other complication this week was that I’ve developed cystitis. Fortunately, because I’d had it before, I caught it early on and put myself onto a fluids regime that immediately improved it. I also went to see the doc, who’s put me on antibiotics. Joy. Actually, there’s an embarrassing story to go with that….
I was about 15 minutes late for the GP appointment and our surgery has a rule that if you’re more than 10 mins late you have to re-book your appointment. I was already stressed from teaching that day, and then even more stressed by being late. When I got there I told the receptionist that I’d be happy to wait till 6pm but that I absolutely had to see the GP that day, because I was pregnant, blah, blah, blah… 10 minutes later, I’m in with the doc. We get sorted, he gives me the ‘scrip’, which includes a ‘scrip’ for antacid (BOY! has my indigestion been bad of late!!).
Off I go to the chemist, get my stuff, and the woman behind the counter asks if I want a bag. No, says me, because that adds to waste and pollution, and it’s only 2 items and I have 2 hands. Of course, I say this politely! I get in the car, drive home, get out of the car, and promptly drop the antacid bottle, which is glass, and it shatters all over the pavement.
So, back on the phone to the surgery – I need another ‘scrip’ for the antacid. Why? I’ve dropped the bottle and it shattered. OK – come back before we close. Off I go, about an hour later to get the ‘scrip’. As I walk in, the receptionist takes one look at me and says, in a nice loud voice, so everyone in reception can hear, ‘you’re the woman who was late for her appointment and then dropped the antacid bottle’, and laughs. Yes, I smile sheepishly, that would be me. Sorry, she says, your ‘scrip’ still isn’t ready, you’re going to have to wait. So I sit and wait. About 15 mins later, I get my ‘scrip’.
Back to the chemist – where the pharmacist looks at the ‘scrip’, looks at me, and says – ‘But I just gave you one!’ Yes, says me, feeling even smaller, but I dropped it and it broke! He laughs, uproariously, knowing that I’d refused a bag the last time, hands the bottle to another woman behind the counter and says – ‘Give that woman a bag, otherwise she’ll drop it again!’
Sigh! At least I got it home in one piece that time….
The happy ending to this story is that I’m feeling better all round.
But before you think all is rosy in the garden of this pregnancy… I’ve now got leg cramps at night, which no-one seems to mention, but is apparently very common. (Why do you always hear women talk about how wonderful pregnancy is once you get past the morning sickness, when my experience has been that it’s full of really annoying aches, pains and complications?) Last night I woke up with such bad cramps I cried, and my tolerance level for that type of pain is not low! I had cramps on both sides of the same leg, and down into my foot, so couldn’t stretch either cramp out properly. Now, a good 8 hours later, my calf muscle is still aching.
So – in addition to my fluids regime, my course of antibiotics and my antacid regime, I’m now putting myself on a Calcium, Vit D, Magnesium and Sodium regime to try to alleviate THAT problem.
Still, I suppose I shouldn’t complain – when I see the images of the people in New Orleans, when I think about those still affected by the tsunami, when I think of the genocide still being perpetrated in Burundi and Rwanda and Sudan, when I think of the atrocities being committed in Zimbabwe, what’s a little cramp, eh? Kind of puts it all into perspective, doesn’t it? I have a wonderful husband, a lovely home, a good job, food on the table, clothes in the cupboard, my family and friends are healthy, my baby is growing well and I can worship in freedom – I’m richly blessed by God! I really shouldn’t complain.
Nicole

Thursday, 1 September 2005

Second scan


We had the second scan yesterday morning, and all looks hale and hearty with the bump.
From what we couldn’t see, we deduce that bump is in fact a bumplette, which came as something of a surprise to us both. I guess we’d been gearing ourselves up for a serious discussion if it was a boy, and hadn’t really thought about the fact that it might be a girl. Never the less, we are both very pleased – girls are supposed to be easier to raise, right???
All fingers and toes are accounted for, all 4 chambers of the heart were working beautifully (although atria and ventricles working in tandem at this stage, rather than independently…), and all other measurements are slap bang on average – which is a good sign. Bumplette was very active (thanks to my sister-in-law’s tip about drinking coke before the scan!) and caused the sonographer endless hassle in trying to get her measurements. Just as she was ready to measure, bumplette would move again. Still, it was fantastic seeing her moving around, and the measurements were all done in the end, so no harm done I figure!
Now the real debate over a name begins. We seem to be gravitating towards a double-barrel surname (which is a comprise for both of us), but which way round still hasn’t been 100% finalised. We have a good idea, but the I think the final decision will rest on the first name we choose, so that it flows off the tongue as nicely as we can get it (which isn’t saying much – a double barrel surname like this one will never flow easily!!).
I’m just thrilled that at this stage of the game, all is well and normal! Anything else on top is just a bonus.
Nicole

Monday, 29 August 2005

Kicking!


Yes, little bump has started kicking!
Actually, s/he started kicking about 2 weeks ago, but I thought it was something else. However, after doing some reading this past weekend, I realised what it was. Suddenly talking to it doesn’t seem so preposterous or foolish anymore (talking to my stomach just seemed silly, but now I KNOW I’m talking to someone, not just to my stomach).
S/he is most active in the evenings when I’m sitting still, and although the kicks are generally gentle, s/he can deliver a real punch from time to time – especially when I’m least expecting it.
Suddenly the fact that there is a real live person in there feels real… I’m not just an incubator for some silent and innocuous parasite – I’m growing a real live person who has a personality and independent will, thoughts and emotions (or will do shortly!).
I’m reminded again of what a miracle pregnancy and birth are. Truly miraculous!
Nicole

Thursday, 25 August 2005

Sjoe!


Well, it’s done (more or less!). We’re moved in to our new flat. Took long enough! Boxes are unpacked (although we still have to sort stuff around to make it all fit properly), and utilities set up; only a few things left to sort out – like curtains…
Needless to say, my back and tummy felt it. Before you say it, yes, I was good (well, for me anyway!) and did not lift heavy stuff. Pushed a bit – but then I figure that’s good practice for January! – but always sensibly, with my back, and with bent legs…
We took a long weekend away, to recover, which was lovely. It was so nice just getting away from all the things that I can see need doing – like the garden, and the curtains, and… – and just have a complete rest. It was nice not to feel guilty about taking time off to just read a book!
My indigestion is getting worse. Nothing seems to help – I’m popping antacids like sweets, and then popping prunes to counteract the resultant constipation. It doesn’t matter whether I eat small meals or big ones, avoid acidic foods or avoid alkaline foods, eat slowly, drink plenty of water (actually – water seems to make it a LOT worse, so I’ve taken to drinking milk instead), eat bread and other starches to “mop up” excess acid, sit up straight, lie down…. Nothing works. I’ve finally decided I should go and see my GP about it. There must be other women who’ve had it this badly and there must be something stronger I can take – maybe an acid suppressant of some sort.
I’ve taken the opportunity afforded by the move to pack away clothes I can’t fit into. It’s quite sad really, to think that it’ll be a year or more before I can wear some of these items again – and some of them are my absolute favourites. I also bought my first item of preggy wear – a pair of jeans with cotton fabric waist panels and adjustable elasticated waist. UGH! It sounds awful, I know – but it doesn’t look too bad, as long as I wear long-ish shirts to hide the cotton panels.
I’m still having my popcorn cravings… at least nothing more bizarre than that! I suspect all the extra salt is the culprit causing massive foot and leg cramps though, so I’m going to have to start making my own with no salt, instead of buying the microwave variety.
Next week is my 2nd scan (21 and a half weeks). We’ve decided we want to know the sex of the baby, so watch this space for the announcement. We went browsing for baby stuff the other day – just to look, you know? OMYGOSH! I’d forgotten how much STUFF babies need…. and how expensive it all is! And then I got to thinking that it’s time we started thinking about actually buying some of this stuff so that we don’t wind up with a serious cash flow problem over Christmas… and then I got to thinking that it’s time I started doing some more reading… and then I got to thinking that I’ve only got another 4 months left in which to do all this… and then I got to thinking that in 4 months I will actually have a real live baby of my own… and then I got to panicking again.
Of course, I know we’ll be fine, but in the immortal words of my darling husband “I HAVE to panic!” (Zim-SA border, 1994-ish) Hee hee!!
I’ve also bought myself a book on exercise during pregnancy – a pilates one (and got a free yoga one with it, which I won’t be using…). I figured that it was time I got back to doing exercise and built up the stamina and strength I’m going to need to carry, push and handle both the rest of this pregnancy and then a growing baby. Of course, good intentions are great, but there’s no time like the present, right? Hmm… ok, I’m off to eat some popcorn and read about how to exercise – maybe watch some of the Ashes test… watching someone else exercise is good too!
Nicole

Monday, 8 August 2005

Injury and stress


Following my visit to the GP, I’ve been taking my steroids, and the coughing has stopped, which is great! I still get twinges every now and again, which are very sore, but I’d say it’s 100% better now. In fact, I even managed to pack the car when we went on holiday last week, picking up suitcases and things (carefully, of course).
We had a lovely time away – very restful! It was rather a shock coming back to the stress of home and moving. The bank has stuffed up royally, so I’m not even sure we will be able to sign the lease and move. It’s all supposed to be happening today, but I don’t think it will.
It also seems now that I’ve entered the indigestion phase with a vengence! Not very pleasant, but at least treatable with no side-effects for baby. I’m not sure though how much is baby related and how much is stress related. In any event, the amount of stress I feel can’t be good for the baby! I recently read an excellent book called ‘Why love matters’, which looks at (amongst other thigns) how hormones in utero play a major role on the baby’s emotional development (and not just their mental development). Stress in the mother apparently causes the child to have a reduced ability to develop empathy, and also causes the child to develop receptors that reduce it’s tolerance of stress. Hmm…
I guess I need to eat some chocolate, watch a good chick flick, and just generally chill out then, eh?
Nicole

Tuesday, 26 July 2005

Bumpity bump


Yesterday was the first time someone told me I was starting to “bloom”. I wasn’t sure how to respond, since I hardly feel like I’m blooming. This past week I’ve had almost daily headaches (I think I need new glasses) and I’ve been getting the most incredibly painful muscle spasms in my lower abdomen, so much so I went to see my GP.
Turns out that it’s all hayfever related (although my hayfever has been really mild at the moment). I’ve merely strained the muscles in my abdomen wall as a result of all the coughing I’ve been doing (hasn’t let up since I had my cold). She prescribed some stuff which should start helping shortly, I hope, but I have to take it for 6 weeks, which I’m not too thrilled about.
Of course, having strained my stomach muscles, I really can’t lift anything – even light stuff hurts, which means that, while I can pack for our move (only 10 days to go, only 10 days to go!!), I’m now legitimately unable to carry anything. (Hee hee! You have to take pleasure in the little things!)
However, on the up side, my bump has suddenly turned decidely (small!) bump shaped, rather than just being a redistribution of my fat layers! I now feel legitimately pregnant, rather than just fat. Actually, having weighed myself, I haven’t put on any weight in the past 4 months (can you believe we’re that far already??), which rather surprised me, given how massively huge and unattractive I’ve been feeling. I had thought I would pick up 2 kg’s by now, but not so!
The kids at school all found out today, and I was given a round of applause in assembly… and the first comment one of my mentees asked (in a rather plaintive tone) was, “But who will be our mentor next year then???” (all together now….. ag, shame!) Again, I’ve been surprised by how excited they are for me – they’re only little, yet somehow most of them instinctively understand what a big deal this is. Rather touching, really.
Nicole

Sunday, 17 July 2005

I'm sick, and FAT


Everyone says that during pregnancy they bloomed – never been so healthy, never felt so well, never had so much energy. Well, they’re liars, I tell you, liars! I’ve never felt to tired, and sick and weak, and unwell….
While the nausea has been retreating and disappearing (thank God!!), it seems I’ve begun to be plagued by other illnesses. First there was the diarrhea bug I picked up from the kids at school 2 weeks ago. Oh what fun! Then there was the cold I picked up from the air-con while on a training course for a day last week. Joy abounds! So over the past 2 weeks I have not been a happy camper.
In the midst of all this, I preached the same sermon 3 times at church – sitting on a bar stool, I might add – and got plenty of sympathy and well-wishing from all who attended the 3 services. (That was nice – the sympathy, I mean!). I’m tired, and in the heat wave London is having (which is great – blue skies and sunshine abounds!! YAY!! A real summer!) I am feeling even hotter and fatter than usual. And I still have 2 weeks left of school this term….
Speaking of which, several people have started commenting that I’m already showing. I hate to disillusion them and embarrass myself by saying – no, actually, that’s just my fat! – so I keep my mouth shut and smile sweetly and everyone stays happy (except me, who feels even fatter as a result, and therefore goes and does an impulse buy of a very nice, evening/ special occasion blouse for comfort). (Eating chocolate doesn’t help – that just makes me fatter, which makes me more miserable!) Roll on 5 months when I will legitimately be showing and it won’t just be the fat everyone is seeing!
Still no decision on the name (do you KNOW how many names there are out there??!?!?!!?!), but we’ve decided when we have our next scan (end of Aug) that we want to know the sex, so that should help. And no decision yet on surname either…. sigh!
Let’s hope that this last stretch before the holidays sees a massive improvement and that I enter the ‘blooming’ phase, because otherwise I fear I’m going to be so tiresome I’ll bore even myself to death!
Nicole

Wednesday, 6 July 2005

Surprises and frustrations


My head at school announced my pregnancy to the staff yesterday. I was suprised by the different responses people had towards me. Staff I hardly know were wanting to hug me (uh… personal space?? hello?? You’re still a stranger!) and pat my tummy (hmm… there’s nothing there to see yet!!! apart from my pre-existing fatness, and I don’t want you patting THAT, thank you!). Others were genuinely shocked (they had not put 2 and 2 together, clearly – the signs were there to read for those who cared to notice), but absolutely thrilled for me, which was nice; left me with a warm fuzzy feeling towards them.
I guess I’m going to have to start getting used to complete strangers coming up and wanting to rub and pat my tummy. I mean, friends is one thing, but strangers is a completely different ball game! After all, it’s my body and my personal space, and I haven’t invited them to get intimate with me. Right? I think I’m either going to wind up being really rude to a lot of people, or really angry with suppressed frustration because I’m determined not to be rude to people. Sigh!
On the tube today, as I was coming home, it got quite hot (either it was really hot, or else I was just feeling it more than everyone else, or a bit of both). I started to feel really faint, and found myself getting angry with men who were sitting in the priority seats, while I was standing. I had to keep reminding myself that since I don’t have a tummy I can’t expect them to mind-read that I’m pregnant. (Even then, many Londoners are not gracious and won’t give up seats on the tube.) There should be some sort of badge that ante-natal clinics hand out to women in the early stages of their pregnancy that they can wear to identify themselves so that others can be considerate towards them, don’t you think?
I’ve been utterly amazed at the response we’ve had from people to deciding to use the blog to communicate! I’m really pleased that so many of you seem to think this is a good idea and that it will be better than email. We aim to please!
Anyway, those are my surprises and frustrations for the day, for what they’re worth.
Nicole

Sunday, 3 July 2005

First scan


Graeme and I went for the first scan on Friday. WOW!!!
I’d been having these irrational fears that this pregnancy thing was all in my head and that when we got there, there’d be nothing to see. Completely irrational, but there you are.
To see our baby’s little heart beating, to see his/her little hands, and feet, and ears, and nose, and brain…. there are no words really to describe it. Conception and the start of a new life – it’s a miracle. How else can you describe this amazing process?
Even at 13 weeks, our baby already has all it’s major internal organs and from now on it’s just a process of growing and developing them to full capacity. Wow!
Needless to say, I cried for joy.
Now that it’s real, we have to start the process of choosing names in earnest. I guess it would help if we could figure out what surname to give it. No doubt there will be arguments about that too. So we went shopping for a baby names book today, and already the disagreements about naming has begun. Family name or not? Biblical? African? Afrikaans? Irish? Still, we have another 7 weeks till we can find out the sex of the baby.
Actually, we’re not too sure whether we want to know or not. There are pro’s and con’s both ways. The main pro is that you can start to build a real relationship with it – not having to call it ‘it’ all the time. The main con is that you won’t have the surprise at the end of all the pushing and pain!
General progress is good. The tiredness is starting to improve, although I’ve discovered how quickly I tire now. I think I’m going to hate how incapacitated I’m going to become – can’t do long walks, can’t go up stairs, can’t carry stuff…. The nausea is still with me, although it too is better than a few weeks back. While everyone assures me it will pass, I think I’ll believe it when I see it!
Still, when I look at the photo of our little baby, somehow, all the illness and tiredness seems managable – after all, it’s a tough job growing a brand new body from scratch!
Nicole

Tuesday, 7 June 2005

The nausea starts


It seems the nausea has finally arrived…
I’ve been feeling less tired (no doubt because I’ve just had a week off for half term), but definitely more ill. Haven’t throw up yet, although I’ve come close on more occasions than I care to mention (worst yet was in the car on the way home today, where I thought I was going to have to pull over and get sick in the gutter! Not a thrilling thought.) It seems to start after lunch and last until I go to bed. Eating constantly seems to help, as does eating fruit and avoiding too much sugar, starch and protein. Sour things also seem to help quell the nausea. I’ve also started having acid reflux, so Nesquik (strawberry) milkshake is now a staple as my bed-time drink.
Today I also had my first really bad headache – and discovered that we have no paracetamol (which I’m apparently allowed to take in small doses???) and the pharmacies are all closed; hence the early retirement to bed in a moment or two.
My first ante-natal appointment is booked for Fri 24th June, which will be bang on 12 weeks.
Nicole

Monday, 6 June 2005

Another announcement


Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen – this is a colleague announcement
Graeme Broster Family Inc is delighted to announce a projected increase of 50% in its future stock holdings, expected to be realised within the next 6-and-a-half to seven months. Naturally the directors of the Corporation are delighted with this forecast and await the delivery of new stock with the appropriate fear and trembling. When approached for comment, the Director of Corporate Growth and New Business was heard to mumble something about not feeling like commenting at this point in time before staggering off to the bathroom. This negative attitude is expected to last for a few more weeks after which happiness and well-being are sure to abound.
Fond regards,
Graeme
(Director of Family Affairs and Publicity)

Sunday, 5 June 2005

The announcement


Another half term gone, only one more (long – 7½ weeks) half term left and then it’s the summer holidays! I can’t believe how quickly this year has flown by! Having been so ill over Easter (you may remember I had chickenpox), I started back at work still exhausted – and spent the entire half term feeling tired. At first I thought it was just PVS (post-viral syndrome), which I know I’m prone to getting. Then I discovered that actually it was because I’m pregnant!
Needless to say, we’re thrilled, and suitably terrified – well, this part of ‘we’ is suitably terrified. I don’t think the reality has set in fully yet for Graeme. I’ve had mild morning sickness – for which I’m grateful – but I’ve been following all the tricks to avoid it, and they seem to have worked to some degree. We didn’t really want to tell people (apart from immediate family and one or two close friends) until we’d passed the first trimester, but I’ve just got so sick and tired of being vague with people and not being able to tell them why I’ve been feeling so tired and ill that we’ve given up on that idea.
Officially the baby is due in early January (see the ticker below), but I’m hoping for a late birth so that I can keep working till the Christmas break. My mom has already booked her ticket out to stay with us from late Jan for a few weeks to help with the baby, and I’m so pleased about that!! We’ll be home during April anyway for Graeme’s sister’s wedding, but I definitely want my Mommy around in the early days!
This obviously has HUGE implications for our future, and we’re now thinking very seriously about moving back to SA at the end of 2006. (While we’re happy to have our baby here, we’re not so happy about raising it here.) The fact that we’ve achieved our goal of getting British citizenship and passports means there’s nothing really keeping us here – unless, of course, God decides otherwise – which He’s had a habit of doing a lot recently.
It’s been tough trying to keep up with our hectic social and church life while I’ve been feeling so ill and tired, but we’ve coped by simply saying no to a lot of stuff – which has been so freeing in many respects. Other than that, life goes on. We’ve finished our short course, which was very good, and now are looking forward to getting back to a more normal pattern during the week.
Over this half term break we went camping near Wales, which was lovely! Cold at night! We did some lovely walks around the Wye River Valley and Forest of Dean, and if I have my way we’ll be heading back that way shortly. It’s STUNNING there…. Before long it will be summer, and then we’ll be off on our annual camping holiday at New Wine. Sadly, because we had such a long Easter break, the summer break is only 5 weeks long, which isn’t really long enough to recover from the year’s teaching. We’ll probably be moving over the summer as well (need to find our own place with 2 beds – room for baby and stuff), which means it won’t really be a holiday for either of us, but I suppose 5 weeks is better than nothing!
We’re hoping to do a number of weekend breaks to Europe over the next little while, now that we have our British passports. Sadly, these will be in lieu of the ski-ing holiday we had planned for Christmas. I’m really disappointed about not being able to ski again, but when weighed up against the joy of a new life, it’s hardly comparable!
So, that’s our news for the time being – thank you for reading it all. Please remember the three of us in your prayers, especially baby who, at just two centimetres long already has a heartbeat, all his/her internal organs and fingers and toes. Isn’t Life Marvellous!!