Wednesday, June 13, 2018


Last week was our "Transversary", the anniversary of the successful IVF transfer. I remember the day well. Despite a promising egg retrieval we had yet again ended up with only a few viable embryos to transfer, this time just two. We decided naturally to transfer both, all or nothing. We had already decided that this would be our last shot.

We had to travel over an hour and be there early. The process was similar to my previous clinic. The main difference was this time my husband was able to be there for the transfer (he unfortunately missed the previous ones). I remember the doctor commenting that one of the embryos looked particularly good and had divided well. The two embryos were transferred, I rested a bit then we went on our way.

After the transfer as we were leaving the clinic my husband and I ended up having a stupid row. He commented that he found the transfer anti climatic and that upset me. I guess he had thought it would be more impressive on the screen seeing the embryos going into my womb whereas it was hard to see anything! And then we also had a silly argument about where to eat. He can get a big hangry - irritable when hungry - and I was avoiding gluten and dairy at the time so finding someplace we were both happy with was a challenge! Everything just got to me and I started feeling emotional. I remember being really anxious then that me being upset would stop the embryos from implanting. I thought I'd ruined my chances already by not being relaxed and zen enough!

Anyway, after we ate we both felt better and the rest of the day was really nice. What a difference a year can make! Somehow that little promising embryo did implant and grow and now my daughter is here. In Germany at the fertility clinics they don't give you pictures of your embryos to take home so I can't do a photograph of Mini holding a picture of herself as an embryo, something I've seen other people doing for the transversary. I'll just give her an extra long hug and we'll remind ourselves how lucky we are to have her in our lives!

I'm sorry for all the couples still stuck in the trenches, hoping and praying to have a family. I haven't had time to keep up with all the blogs unfortunately but I think of you all often and I'm wishing everyone good things whatever the future brings!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

You don't have to love every second

This past week I've struggled a bit. Things had started to really improve. I'd say from around the time our little girl, who I'll nickname Mini for this blog, was around eight weeks, I felt like I had finally gotten into a nice rhythm and had been able to really enjoy being a mum. I started going out to meetups with other mothers to get out of the house. Of course it still feels a little strange at times to be part of this world now. I'm finally a member of the exclusive parent club which I'd struggled for years to join.

The girls from my birth preparation course meet up once every week or two and it's been nice to make new friends. So far we have just been meeting in each other's houses or apartments but hopefully we'll start going out to cafes soon as well. Some of the women feel uncomfortable about the idea of breastfeeding in public. I've already fed Mini several times while out and about now! It has gotten easier with practice. There are ways to be discreet about it, but Germany is very open about breastfeeding which is great.

There's a group of english speaking mothers in the German town where I live who regularly meet for brunches at kid friendly cafes. Anyway I got chatting to one of them and she mentioned that her and her husband had a very difficult time trying to conceive their daughter. We didn't go into details about how long it had taken or what treatment she had undertaken but I also shared that it wasn't easy for us. Her child would have really bad crying spells and she was telling me about how difficult it was. Also the fact that her daughter was such a miracle, she would feel a lot of pressure to enjoy every moment even the hard ones. She said she had to allow herself to accept that sometimes being a parent is really hard with bad days and not feel bad about not appreciating each second.

That resonated with me and helped me when we were having a really bad week. There's this app and book called the Wonder Weeks. Babies go through developmental leaps during certain times and it affects their behaviour. Some children don't change that much but for other ones who are more sensitive, they are really affected. Mini is one of them!

During leap 3 she would cry really easily but also much louder than before! A loud screaming cry. It was awful, I hated seeing her like that! Most of the usual "tricks" to calm her down wouldn't work. There was also a sleep regression. Two nights in particular were awful. She had been sleeping one long stretch of around 4-5 hours before then. One night the previous week she even slept for 6 hours which was amazing. On these two bad nights during leap 3 she only slept three hours. The rest of the night she wouldn't settle and only napped for really short amounts like 20-50 minutes.

Since I am exclusively breastfeeding, it can feel like I never get a break. My husband has been extra busy in work lately and hasn't been able to offer me much support. One of the downsides of living so far from home is that I don't have my family around. My sister and Dad were over visiting a few weeks ago which was great but obviously I can't spend time with them as often as if I lived at home.

My husband's mother has been a good help. She comes to visit once every week or two and usually cooks something. Usually I can hand Mini over and she'll happily nap on my mother in law and I get a little break. This time, probably due to leap 3 she was especially clingy to me. I would get her to sleep and gently hand her over but then she would wake and cry for me again! Mini also wanted to breastfeed a lot. There's a three month growth spurt and I just felt like I was stuck on the couch for hours on end. I remember one day where I had to skip dinner because I just couldn't find a moment to eat.

Parenting can be really hard and it helps to not feel guilty when you have moments where you struggle!

Friday, April 27, 2018

Thoughts on parenting

I've written countless posts in my head but never seem to get the time to get to my computer and write them down! Everyone keeps commenting on how fast time goes when you have kids and though it can feel slow in the moment, especially when you are up all night, overall it has been going quickly. Our little one is two months already. And things are finally now starting to get more manageable! Some of the highlights or things that stick out in my memory...

The good

  • I could stare at our little girl all day. She has such a cute little face and is really sweet. I can't stand to see her cry or when she is upset. I am so proud to be her mother. She is quite a mummy's girl at the moment and I hope that we will have a close mother daughter relationship as she gets older. I'm looking forward to all of the fun things we can do together.

  • Seeing my husband with her melts my heart. After she was born I would catch him telling the baby how much he loves her, it was the sweetest thing. We both take loads of pictures and videos and love talking about her!

  • I've had a lot of challenges with breastfeeding but it is finally going well now and I am proud of myself for sticking with it. It can be very effective for stopping crying and it's sweet how much our baby enjoys it. It was something I really wanted to do so I am glad that it is finally working out.

  • Seeing how much love other people have for our child has also been lovely. My Dad and sister visited twice and it's been heart warming seeing the relationship developing. My husband's family have been over many times and I'm delighted our little one has so many people in her life who care about her.

  • The cuddles are great! It's so sweet when our baby is snuggled up sleeping on me. Even if it means I can't move for hours!

  • When she smiles. I live for those little smiles! And I heard that in the next few weeks babies that age start laughing, I can't wait for that stage. The more she can interact with us the more fun it gets.

  • The bad

  • Yeah, the breastfeeding like I mentioned has not been easy. It was extremely painful at the start. I had a problem with low milk supply and had to supplement with formula. It was a struggle getting our baby to latch at times. There were moments where she was screaming crying but couldn't seem to latch and I was in tears myself feeling like a bad mother. I had to use nipple shields the first month because of the pain and latch issues but then I was able to gradually wean off them. In order to increase my supply I started to breastfeed more often, I pumped (several times a day, even in the middle of the night), took some herbs and made an effort to drink a lot more fluids.

    It took a few hard weeks and I almost gave up several times but we were able to gradually reduce the formula bottles and for the past 3-4 weeks I have been breastfeeding exclusively. It can be very demanding. I had no idea for instance, before I had a baby that there is this thing called cluster feeding where the baby, particularly during a growth spurt, will want to feed for hours on end! That can be exhausting.

  • The sleep deprivation has been the number one hardest aspect. Our little girl isn't a great sleeper unfortunately. I had a month of only getting about 3-4 hours sleep on average per night. At times I thought I would pass out from the exhaustion. I am amazed at how I am still able to function somehow on so little sleep.

    Things have improved but still aren't great. These days she will sleep for around 3-5 hours in one go. That's her longest stretch at the beginning of the night and then after that she might do another 1.5 or 2 hours or maybe not! Sometimes she only catnaps for 30-45 min cycles until morning! I've started doing co-sleeping in the early morning as it's the only way I can get some sleep! It can also take hours some nights just to get her to sleep in the first place.

  • The funny

  • The fact that it takes us hours to be ready to leave the house. You have to laugh. First the baby gets fed, then we get ourselves ready, then baby needs a nappy change, then maybe we realise we need to eat or drink something, by then the baby will be hungry again..and so it continues..

  • Poop explosions are another thing that you just have to laugh about! I need to pack outfit changes in the nappy bag as sometimes the poop just gets everywhere. Baby farts are pretty funny too.

  • Babies make funny noises and do such cute movements. When our little one wakes up from a nap she spends the first few seconds doing all these little stretches.

  • We have to take turns eating a lot of the time. There have even been a few times where my husband had to even spoon feed me as I was stuck breastfeeding and hadn't eaten in hours. I remember one time cutting up his dinner so he would be able to eat it while the baby napped on him. These days I have mastered the art of eating with one hand! Or if the baby is in a good mood we can her in the bouncer during our mealtimes.

  • Saturday, April 14, 2018

    Birth story - part two

    Part one can be found here. We first met with one midwife, who I'm going to nickname Heidi. She was young, full of energy and really friendly. That helped put me at ease. We were brought into the same room where we had been weeks earlier to register. She asked me about what had happened - what time my waters had broken at for instance and she looked over my files. The next step was to set me up with the CTG monitor to check the contractions and baby's heartbeat. That took about a half hour. Whenever I had a contraction, hubby and I could see numbers going up, usually to around 20. The midwife helped me breath through them. It was painful but I was managing ok.

    Heidi didn't check my cervix though to see how far I was dilated and I was surprised at that. She said that because my waters had broken, checking it could cause an infection. She implied that I was still at the early stage of the contractions which I found a bit disheartening as to me they felt strong already and the idea of it going on all day for ages wasn't so appealing! I asked about what other pain options they had, besides an epidural which I was hoping to avoid. She said they can give a painkiller like Buscopan and suggested I could have a bath. She told me that breakfast would be served at 7 and suggested we could go eat then and after come back to her around 8 or so. It was around 6am at that stage.

    We were given the keys to a private room where we could hang out basically for the next few hours. It had a double bed, small kitchen area, table and fitness ball. I remember texting my family but apart from my brother in Australia and his wife, everyone was still asleep as it was only 5am in Ireland! The contraction pain was starting to get really bad at that point. I remember second guessing my decision to not have an epidural and wondering whether I would be able to stand it! I decided I would try to keep going awhile longer and then decide. I tried lying down and the time between contractions it was nice to be lying but then when it hit I found that it was better if I was walking around. Trying to breath through the contractions helped. It was hard going! I remember thinking that all the positive thinking I'd read about was all well and good in theory but pain was pain! Trying to think of the contractions like a wave on the beach wasn't helping! I just walked around the room and leaned against a chair and breathed slowly through them. Once I went to the bathroom which was down the hall and I remember finding the walk there and back unpleasant and I had to walk really slowly!

    My hubby went to talk to the midwife and was told that if I couldn't manage the pain and wanted help sooner to just let them know. We had only been there around an hour and I wanted to be brave I guess and try to stick it out longer. Especially since I believed I was still only at the beginning stages of labour! At that stage the canteen was open but I had absolutely no desire to go there to try to eat something. Not so long after that I remember feeling really nauseous and then throwing up. There went the porridge I had eaten earlier! Hubby was asking again whether he should go get the midwife and I just said yes, I didn't think I could handle the pain anymore so needed whatever support they could give me!

    Heidi came and said they would do the CTG again to monitor the contractions and then they would fill me a bath. We went back to the first room with hubby carrying the backpack I had brought with me for the birth. I had a suitcase for the overnight stay and a backpack with things like snacks, CDs and some nightdresses to change into. Anyway I was set up to the CTG monitor and that was really unpleasant because you had to stay still for it and the contractions felt worse when I couldn't move around! We were left alone and hubby noticed that the contractions at that stage were reaching 100 on the screen. They certainly felt bad! Heidi came back and gave me a painkiller which didn't do much. Some of the contractions were really uncomfortable and I couldn't help but make noises. At the end of the CTG I remember feeling a strong need to use the bathroom for a number two! I said that to Heidi as we were about to go to the room with the bath that I needed to use the bathroom first. She called in another midwife. I'll call her Helga.

    Heidi says Helga is going to check my cervix. Finally, I'm thinking! By then I am groaning through the contractions! I get up on the bed and Helga checks my cervix and then says they have to get me to the birthing suite pronto! I guess I must have been fully dilated at that stage. I was happy that I wouldn't have to have hours and hours more of the pain. On the way to the birthing room we passed the bath that had been filled for me. We reached the birthing room and the midwives started quickly filling up the special tub for the water birth. I remember hoping that the water would be filled in time before the baby arrived! I remember looking at the clock and it was 8am. I took off my clothes and got into the tub.

    The warm water felt really good! It helped a lot. This time when the contractions came it felt different. Still painful but a different sort of pain and not so bad. The midwives were telling me to push. I was told to hold on to something and pull it during the contraction and push at the same time. Doing that certainly helped and they were telling me I was doing a great job. A contraction would come, I would pull on the handles of the bath tub while trying to push until the contraction passed. At one stage they said they could see hair on the baby's head! Helga suggested I touch the baby's head and I did but I felt weird about it to be honest! I was nervous about hurting the baby in some way so didn't want to keep touching it! The pain of the pushing got worse and several times I would try but I just couldn't seem to do it. Helga suggested different positions such as squatting down but I found me half lying /sitting with my feet against the sides the most comfortable. Heidi was very encouraging but I found Helga a bit too critical and bossy! She asked me what was holding me back. I said I was worried about the pain and she said there is plenty of room for the baby to get out and there is no going back now.

    Part of me did want to stop at that point but I also reminded myself that the baby needs to come out and I have to do this! I had been in the tub a long time at that stage and Helga said if I don't get the baby out soon I would have to get out of the tub. That worried me. I really wanted the water birth to work! Also I was scared if I couldn't get the head out that I would have to be cut. I tried even harder to push during the next contraction but I just still couldn't seem to push hard enough! The more I pushed the more painful it felt which made me not want to push physically even though mentally I knew I had to! Hubby kept telling me I could do it and being encouraging. He told me later that he could see the baby's head go out and in again! Anyway eventually I somehow was able to push hard for long enough and the head came out! Heidi said the baby had her eyes open in the water looking at her! The next push was enough to get the body out and then the midwives were handing me a slippery baby!! It was 9.13am.

    It just felt surreal to me! Like oh wow, I can't believe this is my baby!! She cried a little but then stopped. Hubby and I were both just looking at her in amazement and I think I was saying things like "welcome to the world! We love you so much!". She looked pretty wrinkly and I remember thinking she reminded me of my granny, haha! Eventually hubby cut the cord after it stopped pulsating and the midwife suggested he do skin to skin while they helped me out of the tub. I was taken to a bed and then I had to give birth to the placenta! That was fine though, just another push like earlier and it came out. The midwives examined me and said I would need some stitches so I had to wait for the doctor. I didn't care though, I was just so in amazement of our daughter.

    Hubby took some photos and we told out families the good news and everyone was delighted! The doctor came and gave me some stitches (I'd torn a little) but I barely felt it. Then they took our baby to be weighed. She was 2.9 kilos and everything looked good. Ten fingers and ten toes! The midwife wheeled me in the bed holding our baby to the ward. I was just so delighted the birth was behind me, that it had gone so well and that our healthy daughter arrived safely.

    Saturday, April 7, 2018

    Birth story - part one

    Thanks so much to everyone for the lovely well wishes on the birth of our daughter! As most of you know, it was a long journey to get to this point and we are incredibly grateful that our little one arrived safely! There are so many things I would like to blog about but life with a newborn is pretty hectic! I actually used to think people were exaggerating when they said there were days where they never got a moment to shower or get changed out of their pyjamas even, but parenting a newborn has definitely been challenging and just finding the time to shower and eat is a real challenge! Rewarding and incredible but very hard. I miss sleep, haha!

    Anyway, today I would like to start sharing the birth story! It will help me to write it all down before I forget everything. This post is very personal and very TMI so if you know me in real life, you may want to give this one a miss!

    I mentioned that we had gone to the hospital I'd chosen to give birth at late into my pregnancy to register and discuss any questions with the midwives. This isn't a requirement but good to do. Basically I was hoping to ideally have a natural childbirth with minimal intervention, skin to skin bonding after birth and delayed cord clamping. I really wanted to avoid having a c-section but of course the health of our baby is the most important thing and I just wanted her to arrive safely. I specified that I would like a water birth.

    My Mum had had natural births without an epidural for all her three children and I was hoping I would be able to manage it also. Not to mention the fact that an epidural scared me! I hated the idea of a needle in my spine plus I'd heard stories of it not working and there are also risks to it. That said I had decided if I really needed one, I would get it and not feel bad. Let me just mention here that I don't think there is anything wrong at all with women who choose to get an epidural, I was just hoping to avoid one and experience the whole childbirth experience!

    A week and a day before my due date I had some signs that I might go into labour over the next few days. Spotting that morning and the doctor noticing that my cervix had already started to soften. That evening around 9pm I lost my mucus plug. At that stage it occured to me that I might go into labour that night and not in a few days. In the middle of the night I woke up feeling some mid cramps that would come and go. I also felt some dampness. After about a half hour I went to the bathroom and noticed my waters had broke! At this stage I knew things were getting serious! When I went back into the bedroom, hubby asked if I was ok and I said "my waters just broke". I was feeling slightly in shock, trying to get my head around everything and remember what I had been told at the birth course. Hubby jumped out of bed and said let's go to the hospital immediately! It was 3am at this stage.

    I reminded him that we had been told that labour is slow so to wait 2-3 hours at home where it's more comfortable and not rush to the hospital. On the other hand I knew that my Mum had always had very fast labours so I was aware that maybe I would take after her. Hubby was feeling anxious and didn't want to stay at home for long but I said the cramps weren't so bad yet and let's wait around an hour. I was half trying to time the contractions though not really as I was also getting ready, but it seemed like they were quite close together. It wasn't unbearable though. I had a shower and washed my hair and even painted my toenails! Then I told hubby that we should both eat as it would be a long night. He had some leftover pasta bolognese and I had some porridge with tea that was all I really felt like. Hubby ordered a taxi for 4.30am.

    The cramps had started to get a lot more uncomfortable by that stage. It felt a bit like really strong period cramps but the pain was all around my hips, back, stomach. I tried to breath through them like I'd been taught at the pre birth course. We had quite a lot of bags with us when we got the taxi. I had a small suitcase for my overnight stay plus a backpack for the labour. Hubby had a bag himself in case we got the family room and he could stay over and he also brought the baby car seat. The journey to the hospital was uncomfortable at times when I would get a contraction. We arrived at the hospital, checked in and went up to the birthing area.

    Actually I just remembered now but I was quite emotional at that stage for some reason! When hubby told the lady at the hospital reception that his wife was in labour and she wished me luck I felt a little teary. And then as we went into the birthing area and met the midwife I started crying slightly! Sort of a mixture of nerves and feeling a bit overwhelmed at what was ahead I think!

    Friday, March 23, 2018

    The world can wait

    It's Friday morning. The house is quiet. My husband's at work. The kitchen is a mess. There's a huge pile of laundry in the basket and I wonder if I'll even find a moment to shower today. Just getting a chance to eat and drink enough can be a challenge!

    You see, I have a one month old. I'm currently lying in bed with her snuggled beside me. Last night I only got at most a total of four hours sleep and it's more or less been like that since she's been born! I'm actually amazed how I'm still able to function on so little sleep.

    However, though it's been hard, and honestly parenting a newborn has been more challenging than I had expected, I look at her tiny cute little face beside me, her arm on my stomach and I just think how amazing it is that she is here. That she even exists! I am so grateful that we are now parents which I honestly had been thinking would never happen.

    It still feels surreal to me that I'm a mum now! That I have a daughter. I get emotional when I think about it all too much. The nights are long, I never have a moment to myself but babies grow up and one day she won't need me as much. So right now I'm going to relax, enjoy the baby cuddles and cherish this time together.

    Tuesday, February 27, 2018

    week 29 - Baby is here!

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

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

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

    Saturday, February 24, 2018

    Week 38 - so close - pregnancy diary

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

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

    End of week 38

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

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

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

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

    Feeling a mixture of excitement and nervousness!

    Wednesday, February 14, 2018

    weeks 36 - 37 baby shower & family visit #pregnancyDiary

    Week 36

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

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

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

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

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

    Week 37

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

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

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

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

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

    Happy Valentine's Day by the way!

    Wednesday, January 31, 2018

    weeks 33 - 35 start of maternity leave #pregnancyDiary

    Week 33

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

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

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

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

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

    Week 34

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

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

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

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

    Week 35

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

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

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

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

    Wednesday, January 10, 2018

    weeks 30 - 32 Christmas #pregnancyDiary

    Week 30

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

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

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

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

    Week 31

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

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

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

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

    Week 32

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

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

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

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

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

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

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