Wednesday, October 25, 2017

week 21 - gender reveal #pregnancyDiary

This week started off with my appointment at the gyno for a checkup. It had been five weeks since my last one! My mother in law came with me and it worked out well, she kept me company and loved getting to see her first grandchild. Everything went great. The doctor took various measurements and didn't see any issues. I had thought the scan would be even longer though. I'd been told the 20 week one takes ages but mine only lasted around 15 minutes (my friend told me hers had gone on for an hour!). I had kind of been hoping to see the face more but you can't really make out anything. The doctor said we could pay extra for a 3d scan at a different clinic after 24 weeks so we'd consider getting that done. However I spoke to another friend who told me the 3d scan isn't that great, it can be hard to get a good image if the baby is facing the placenta.

The great news is that the doctor was able to tell me the gender this time! My gut feeling was right, it is most likely a GIRL!! I'm thrilled. That's not to say I wouldn't have been equally delighted to be having a son, I just have had this feeling it was going to be a girl since I got pregnant and it's really nice having it confirmed. After our appointment I went into the shops with the aim of buying something for the baby to surprise my husband with. When I was in the shop, it suddenly occurred to me that this was the first time I was buying something for OUR child. There have been so many times in the past where I've gone to the baby section to buy presents for friends' kids and quite often ended up getting emotional thinking it might never happen for us. It took me ages to pick out something as it felt like such a significant moment!

I had been planning to get something pink but I didn't particularly like the things they had. However I found a cute peach and white stripped babygrow for a newborn and I picked some little white socks as well. Later at home I wrapped the items in pink ribbon and put them in a present. I wrote "Daddy / Papa" on the front. It felt like it took ages for my husband to get home from work that day. Both his Mum and I were really excited to find out his reaction. As soon as he arrived I called him into the sitting room and gave him the present. His Mum was ready with the camera. As he was opening it I started crying! I hadn't meant to, I just got overcome by the moment. He was really happy and we hugged. He got a little emotional too! Probably from seeing me tearing up. It was such a special moment. His Mum got some nice pictures too. Google turned them into a little Gif video and it is really cute. I skyped my family after and told them the news and they were all delighted for us too. And then I messaged some close friends. It was such a happy day!

This morning hubby and I discussed some names. We currently have two favourites. Both have Irish origins but we would use the international spelling. We also went into the future baby's room and discussed how we would organize it. I showed him the "Wish" book I bought and started crying once I read it. It is a story about a much wanted baby and the parents' journey to get there. I can still remember the heartbreak we went through before now and I'm so grateful and amazed to be 21 weeks pregnant right now with a healthy baby. We also looked at the children's books he had bought from his trip. It was such a nice time thinking about the future. I couldn't be happier!

My mother in law commented that four months seems ages away and she can't wait. I can wait though. It's not that I'm not really excited to meet our baby, which I am, but I am also enjoying this time. Having my child growing inside me is special and it's nice to have these months to think about the future and plan. I've been reading books on childbirth and life with a newborn. In another month I'll be starting the third trimester already which seems mad!

A friend from my book club very kindly dropped off her old maternity outfits to me plus a heap of baby clothes her kids have grown out of! Newborn stuff are so tiny, like outfits for a doll. So cute! I hope I'm not jinxing things by already getting stuff for the baby. I still have four months to go after all. But other girls on my due in Feb facebook group already started buying things weeks ago. PEople aren't as superstitious as they used to be in the old days.

And the other news this week was that I met my Hebamme (Someone in Germany who visits you and the new baby) finally! She's nice, made a good impression. However, very alternative! I think most of them are like that. For instance, I mentioned getting the flue vaccine and she said that she would never get the flu vaccine as it's putting toxins/poisons into your body. She also didn't like how many ultrasounds I've had already as she said they heat the placenta and babies don't like them as they are so loud. I have heard those theories before but I don't think it's so bad every few weeks. They offer some classes at the centre she works at such as pregnancy gymnastics. Not sure what's involved there but I might try it out sometime. The other class they have is a mediation/relaxation one which sounds nice.

The Hebamme also asked if I'm anxious when she heard that this is an IVF pregnancy. I said I have been but it's gotten a lot better. I think I've been managing the anxiety quite well in general. She basically said I have to stop myself from worrying as it's not good for the baby. I didn't like that advice as now I'll just worry that my worrying is harmful for the baby! I would have preferred if she had told me everything will be fine. I do think the baby has some awareness of the mother's feelings as your heartbeat would be slower when relaxed and stress releases the hormone cortisone whereas the happiness hormone is oxytocin. However I found some of her theories a little too far fetched for me. At the meditation class they offer for instance, you basically talk to the baby and teach them how to be born according to her! I can't believe that the baby can hear my thoughts. However I'll still go to that class and try it out. Might be a way to make some new friends.

Overall it's been a good week. I'm still just incredibly delighted that I'm carrying our child. This week hubby even got to feel a few kicks too! I notice the baby randomly but often in the evenings. Like really active for a few minutes then quiet again. It's always a nice reassurance when I feel her moving about.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Week 20 - halfway there #pregnacyDiary

This morning my husband texted me while I was at work to tell me he was reading about week 20 and the baby is now the size of a large banana! I'm finding it really sweet how involved he is being because I know some men don't really bond so much with the baby until after they are born whereas as a woman you have nine months of the connection. He even brought a little present for the baby back from his work trip - two children's books. Our baby got a second present this week too! One of my mother in law's friends knitted little booties and a blanket. So thoughtful and nice. It's mad to think I'm halfway through the pregnancy now! Actually the last few weeks have gone quite quickly. I'm excited for my next scan which is coming up soon!

I've come down with a bad cold the past few days. It started with just a runny nose and feeling a bit run down but now I've also got a horrible sounding cough making it hard to sleep at night when I have a coughing fit. I've been trying to rest up as much as I can and drinking hot teas. Hubby was worried it might develop into a chest infection or pneumonia so I went to the regular doctor after work. It was nice telling the doctor our happy news as she knew we'd been trying. I guess I told a lot of people! She said she'd rather not prescribe me anything as it will probably get better by itself, which is fine by me. She wrote me off sick for the rest of the week. Even though I've been feeling miserable with this cold (it's the worst one I've had in a long time!), I still feel guilty about having to miss work. There have been a lot of projects and deadlines lately- plus stress to be honest. I feel a bit like I'm letting people down but I have to put me and the baby first right now.

I also got some unexpected good news a few days ago. I have more holidays to use up before my maternity leave starts than I'd realised. 14 days instead of the 6 I'd thought I had basically. I'll barely be working at all really between now and mid January at this rate (due date towards the end of Feb)! In Germany your maternity leave starts six weeks before the birth. What do women normally do then I wonder? Meet up with other friends who aren't working? Cook and freeze lots of meals for when the baby arrives? Decorate the nursery? Relax? Read up on childbirth and parenting? My sister got me a book about baby development and I've been enjoying reading about it.

I think I'm definitely feeling some movement now which is great! When I place my hand below my belly button while sitting down, I notice something now and then. Sometimes it's almost like a little tap against my hand which could be a kick. Other times it's it's sort of like a vibration or muscle spasm in my stomach basically. I've started to recognize the feeling.

Of course this could still be gas, but I like to think it's the beginnings of starting to really feel the baby and it should just get stronger from now on! While watching tv last night there were two times where I definitely felt something for a second. Then today at my computer again. That must be the baby! I'm excited for when hubby will be able to place his hand on my belly and feel the baby move too. Not much else to report, my next doctor's appointment is soon and then we should hopefully find out the gender too!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

week 19 - a scare and a family visit #pregnancyDiary

The pain which I thought was round ligament pain came back and I had it for several days. I asked some friends again about what they had felt and looked at my facebook group and most seemed to describe something pretty similar to what I was feeling. It was particularly bad one day though so I decided to text my Hebamme and ask her about it. She said that the pain from the round ligaments is normally in the lower pelvis area not near the hip as I'd mentioned. At that stage I started getting worried. I didn't want to waste the doctor's time, however I also didn't want to wait another two weeks till the next scan and be worrying about it so the next day I got to his practice at 8am when it opened and mentioned the pains. I ended up having to wait about an hour since I didn't have an appointment.

What I thought would happen.
I expected to describe the pain and for the doctor to reassure me that it was normal pregnancy pain and then to go about my merry way.

What actually happened.
The doctor was concerned as the area I was having the pain is near my appendix. He also saw some fluid on the screen that he couldn't explain near my intestines. He said he would try to get me an appointment at a specialist immediately to get it checked out. The other doctor was nearby and I was able to get seen to quickly luckily. I was starting to feel very nervous about what was going on at that stage. Hubby was still away so I was just phoning him to tell him what was going on. The other doctor didn't think it was appendicitis but he couldn't rule it out. He advised me that if the pain got worse I should go to the hospital immediately! He saw the mass of fluid on my right hand side and he didn't know what it was. He told me to come back the next day for another appointment. In the meantime he took my blood to be sent to the lab to check for any signs of infection.

The rest of the day I couldn't help but worry. Like I mentioned earlier, hubby was away so I was dealing with all this on my own. I was whatsapping family and close friends from home to let them know what was going on and my mother in law was also calling me. She was getting really anxious and I felt like I had to be strong and try to reassure her! She said she would come immediately if I ended up having to go to hospital (she lives in a different town). Luckily the pain didn't get any worse. Trying to google what the fluid mass could be was a bad idea as I started seeing results about tumours and freaking out about cancer! I'd read a story recently about a pregnant woman who got cancer and had to choose between getting chemo to save herself or not and saving the baby. I don't know how people handle decisions like that! I was also thinking that I don't want to have to go to the hospital to get scary tests done, especially on my own. A normal boring day in the office had never sounded so appealing to me!

That night I managed to sleep for several hours but I woke up then feeling really worried about it all. I packed an overnight bag on the advice of a doctor friend just in case I'd be sent to the hospital after my appointment. There was a long wait at the practice. Finally I got in and he asked how I was feeling. Nervous I said! The pain was the same. My blood test results had come back only showing a slight infection elevation which could just be from a cold. That was good news as if I had appendicitis the results would have looked worse. The doctor did a scan and after several agonizing minutes said that I had an intestinal partial blockage. That's what's been causing the pain. I should massage my tummy clockwise to help digestion and eat simple meals over the next few days. Pregnancy pushes the intestine up into a smaller space often leading to digestion issues. My previous adhesions from surgeries are probably not helping things either.

I was told to come back after several days for another appointment but for the time being all was fine. I didn't have to go to hospital that day which was a relief! Of course he mentioned again that if my pain gets worse I should go straight in and he gave me a printout of my blood test but for now I was able to go back to work. I'm relieved it's not a tumour or something serious! That said if I do end up getting a full intestine blockage that would be a dangerous situation requiring surgery. So I am a little worried about that possibility at some point especially as the pregnancy progresses. For now I'll keep up with the tummy massages to help digestion and watch what I eat.


So at the end of the week I had my third appointment at the doctor for a checkup. He could still see the strange fluid on the screen. I tried to ask more questions this time. The fluid is in my small intestine he says. I also have a lot of air in my intestine which will cause cramps. He said I can eat normally now though still try to avoid food with a lot of "air" such as beans and cauliflower. And then come back in two weeks for another check up and at that stage he'll test my blood for signs of infection again. The pains I was getting have improved significantly recently thankfully. So it looks like for the moment everything is fine and I can breath a sigh of relief!

While I was going through the scare it was also harder as I was on my own. Hubby was away with work. Now he's back and it's been really nice. Also my Dad and sister came over to visit me! They stayed for four days and it was just perfect. They even got quite nice sunny autumn weather while they were here. We went to a pumpkin festival in Ludwigsburg and there was even a wedding fair on that day which we checked out for my sis in case it gave her any ideas.

Another day the weather was warm so we went to the pool for a spa day. I avoided the sauna but enjoyed swimming! We also took my family to some of our favourite restaurants and they had some good meals. It was sad saying goodbye though as I won't be flying to ireland again until the baby is here and a few months old, so it'll be my longest stretch not going back "home". It's great these days with skype, whatsapp and google hangout though, you don't feel as far away as you did in the past.

So the week started off scary with the pains and doctor visits but ended really lovely enjoying some family time. Here are some pictures from our day at Ludwigsburg exploring the castle grounds and pumpkin festival. If you are ever in the area it's worth checking out. The festival takes place every year around September and October.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

When is the right time to talk about gun control?

I rarely get political on this blog. It's not that I don't have a lot of thoughts and opinions on what's going on around me, it's that so many topics seem to be extremely decisive these days with so many people strongly on one side or the other finding it hard to come together in the middle to reach any common ground.

What's upsetting me recently though is the lack of proper gun control debate in America. The Las Vegas shooting was absolutely horrific and tragic. I feel awful for all the victims and their families and I find it so hard to comprehend how someone could do something like that. Prayers and thoughts are great but what is also necessary after something like this is action. Clearly the laws need to change. Gun violence in the States is way too prevalent and it is not ok to just accept it as a part of life now!

It is so frustrating though when people try to bring up gun control but are shut down because "now isn't the time". I've also seen comments such as that "leftists are disgusting" to be bringing up politics at a time like this. At the end of the day, both sides want an end to tragedies like this. So if now isn't the right time to discuss gun control, when is? I've also heard arguments saying these events couldn't have been prevented. Those people who think that way don't seem to even want to try which just annoys me. Other countries don't have as many gun deaths so surely the States can look to other examples and learn from them.

A few years ago there was a bill with the aim of banning people on the no fly list from being able to buy a gun. Something like 80% of the general public agreed with it. When it was brought to congress it was overruled and didn't even get to a vote! The NRA lobby are too powerful there it seems. Then there are other opposers to gun control who think that we want to take away all guns and go on about the importance of their second amendment rights. The objective isn't to ban every weapon. The idea is to bring in restrictions such as more thorough background checks, particularly at places such as gun shows where I believe someone can buy one without a check at all. Also is there really a need for a person to have an assault rifle or machine gun?! And maybe there should also be limits to the amount of guns one person can own. At the very least let's do some more research and come up with a plan.

Now, I realise I'm saying all this as an outsider. I'm not American. I'm European and just trying to understand things there. But to me it seems clear. We all want to reduce gun violence. So why not work together to find a solution instead of refusing to even talk about it?

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

week 18 - sharing the news #pregnancyDiary

After we got the all clear from the harmony blood test last week both hubby and I decided it felt like the right time to share the news more freely at work. He spoke to his boss and told him that he plans to take some of the parental leave. His boss knew about our struggles to have children and was happy for us which was sweet. I had a chat with my manager and that went well too. Once that was done I gradually started telling a few more colleagues who I would interact with quite frequently. I figure the news will probably spread. Everyone was nice about it and congratulated me. There was one comment that bugged me though! This one colleague acted surprised and said he thought I didn't want kids. He reminded me about that (very awkward) time last year when he had asked me about children and according to him, I hadn't seemed keen.

Basically he asked me in front of several other colleagues what my family plans were. So rude and inappropriate! I think I was in shock at the bluntness of such a question and I basically answered vaguely, something like "not yet" and changed the subject to talk about my upcoming Australia trip. That guy is just totally clueless. Of course he assumes that a couple who don't have kids must not want them because if they did, they would just have them, right? Easy peasy. I'm very tempted to say something to him about it if the right opportunity arises. He also made the comment about thinking I didn't want kids in front of several other colleagues. He then told us that he's just persuaded his wife to try for a second baby. I know for a fact that the other colleague he mentioned it to has been trying with his wife to have a second child and she's had a miscarriage. So I can imagine the comments could have bothered him too. Anyway if I have a chance just the two of us I will tell him that actually it was very difficult for us to get this far, without going into all the details, and mention that asking someone about their family planning isn't appropriate as you have no idea what might be happening behind the scenes! I'll just have to figure out how to say it tactfully in German.

People have generally been surprised to hear about the pregnancy so I guess it's not as obvious as I thought! I've barely put on any weight so far probably due to the fact that in the first trimester I didn't have much of an appetite with the nausea. I think I'm eating better now though so I'll probably start getting bigger soon. According to a pregnancy weight calculator I found online, I'm slightly under the amount I should have gained by this stage. I'm sure I'll catch up though! Generally I've been eating reasonably healthy but if I'm craving a treat such as chocolate or crisps, I go ahead.

I've read around week 18-20 first time Mums should be able to start feeling kicks! I've felt nothing yet. Unless I've mistaken it for indigestion! My next scan is going to be at 21 weeks not 20 as my gyno is on holidays again. I'm disappointed as hubby won't be able to make it this time especially as the anatomy scan is a big one. I tried to get a different appointment time that week but they are all booked up. However I then had the idea that I could see if my mother in law would like to come. She was delighted to be asked! I think it will be nice for her to be involved. This is her first grandchild and she's really excited. The only weird thing is that she'll probably find out the baby's gender before hubby! She's promised she'll keep it a secret though. I was thinking after the scan maybe I would go and buy little pink or blue socks and surprise him with them later after work!

This week hubby has been away on a work trip. The house feels really quiet without him. At the weekend I met up with friends for lunch and some shopping then relaxed on the couch watching "Look who's talking". A pretty quiet Saturday night! That's such a funny film. The maternity fashion in the 80s was basically like a big tent! Of course the childbirth scene looked pretty painful as per usual in the movies with the main character begging for pain relief. I loved the scenes where you'd hear what the baby is thinking in womb.

Sunday I met up with a good friend here. She also went through years of infertility - five in this case before finally having a daughter. Her little one is at a fun age now, 10 months. We took her to the playground and she really enjoyed herself. She's also very friendly and good with people. There was a stage when she was only a few months old where she was very attached to her mum and would cry when I tried to hold her. Luckily that's changed. Next year our baby would be around ten months old at Christmas time. The thought of bringing my baby home for an Irish Christmas with my family warms my heart!

The round ligament pain is back now. It feels like general dull aches and pains during the day but gets worse if I sneeze or cough. Then at night when I change positions while sleeping I'll often get woken up with the pain and it takes awhile to get comfortable again. I've also started waking up an hour or two early each morning needing to pee. So it hasn't been a totally restful sleep. I've noticed an occasional heavy feeling around my pelvis. Apparently perfectly normal as the uterus is now the size of a honey melon! However overall I'm feeling good. My "bump" has popped out more and I love it. I enjoy singing to the baby while I'm getting dressed in the mornings. "My bump, my lovely baby bump" (sung to Black eyed peas "my lovely lady lumps" tune). When I'm out and about and I see something nice, such a pretty autumn leaves or a sunset I think how I can't wait to show our child all the great things this world has to offer one day.