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Pine Nut (at around 34 weeks)

Friday, 24 January, 2014

Pregnancy #2

Part of me feels a twinge of unreasonable guilt that I haven't written more about this pregnancy (in comparison to my last pregnancy, which I chronicled at 18, 24, 31 and 38 weeks). But then a lot of it has been the same so I'd just be repeating myself.

There are a few differences of course—for example, this time I'm going through the Birth Centre instead of labour ward, which means I don't have an OBGYN: instead, I see a midwife every month (well, not it's every couple of weeks) who asks me if I have been experiencing any problems in the intervening weeks, takes down my blood pressure and the size of my belly, checks the baby's position and listens to the baby's heartbeat. My ultrasounds (well, all except the first) have been taking place through RPA's ultrasound department (though, most confusingly, it's not called that; it's called something like “Women's and Babies Services—Ambulatory Care” or some such thing), which means they're covered by Medicare. It does mean that we don't get given printouts of the pictures the way we would at a private ultrasound practice where we would pay. RPA are happy to give you digital copies but they have to be on a brand new USB drive because they are concerned about viruses getting into their system (fair enough) and you have to ask for them. Furthermore, because the technicians are just looking to see if there are any problems, the pictures they capture aren't really what people might call the “money shot”: it's very much just parts of the baby's body rather than the baby as a whole. This is the best one of the lot from 19 weeks, which shows you Pine Nut's head in profile:

(Side note because I forgot to write about it earlier: the first ultrasound we did—the one to confirm the pregnancy—was done through MadScan and I would strongly encourage them to rethink the water feature in the lobby: it's really not fair to the poor pregnant women with full bladders who have to sit and listen to it running.)

As I wrote earlier, after doing CVS earlier in the pregnancy, we knew that the baby definitely did not have Downs. However, because my PAPP-A hormone levels were low, they were concerned that that was affecting the placenta, which would in turn affect Pine Nut's development, so they asked me to come back roughly once a month for ultrasounds until 29 weeks—whereupon they said that everything looked good and I didn't have to come back again.

Another difference was the glucose test: last time, I did one at 17 weeks and one at 28 weeks because there was a higher risk of gestational diabetes with me. This time, I only did the one short test at 27 weeks which involved no special diet and no fasting: all I had to do is show up, drink this gross-tasting sugary drink, wait for an hour and then they took some blood away for testing. (All was fine.)

Of course, the other big change from last time is being pregnant while having a toddler. I'll write a bit more about that below.

Trimester 3

This is the first time I've ever gone through my third trimester over summer and I can understand why women hate it. Not only am I bigger (and I seem to get bigger every day, which means I have to give myself a wider berth and I keep dropping food and other things down my front, which is a bit embarrassing), not only am I slower and in more pain because of SPD (and another thing that has been different this time around is that I have started sleeping with the pelvic belt on because it stabilises things and makes things way more comfortable than if I don't), not only am I more tired because of waking up every time I need to roll over because sleeping on my side is the most comfortable position—until my arm goes to sleep and my ear gets squashed—and because my bladder needs emptying usually once a night—not only am I going through all that, but there's the temperature to grapple with as well. During the day, it's all right because I can dress light, sit in front of fans, stay indoors (or at least in the shade. Or in air conditioning). But at night, I have to sleep with a body pillow to keep my knees and pelvis aligned, so that makes me hot (and we have no air conditioning in the bedroom, so we just keep the window open, and if necessary, turn on the fan and leave the door open so there's some airflow). The body pillow makes me hot, but I can't really sleep without it, so I end up sleeping rather badly, waking every couple of hours. I should probably start night sleeping earlier in the evening to compensate or something but I'm not that sensible. At the moment, I'm coping okay, but every now and then, I really need to nap in the afternoon. And of course, broken sleep makes me irritable, cranky and less patient—which is not a good combination when you're looking after a toddler.

I have been doing my physio exercises, but the one where Ben does the painful massage on me I've been foregoing because it involves 10 minutes with a heat pack before he does it and I cannot bear to be any hotter than I already am.

(This is idle speculation on my part but I find myself wondering how much of my fatigue is a result of simply being pregnant or because I'm just not sleeping well because I'm pregnant. Hope that makes sense. It's just that people describe the third trimester as being quite tiring and they keep encouraging me to rest, but looking back over my post on the third trimester from last time, it doesn't seem like poor sleep was that much of a factor because I don't mention it.)

Pregnant life with toddler

My admiration for my friends who were also fellow SPD sufferers who also had to take care of toddlers at the same time has risen tenfold: I don't know how they did it. Many of them didn't even have childcare or family to help out. One of my friends was in a wheelchair. Another one was on crutches. They survived, yes, but it must have been so hard!

For me, I'm just finding it draining—even on the rare day that I'm not hugely fatigued from broken sleep. SPD means means that we can't go out that much, or if we do go out, we go out for a big slab of time and I take everything we need with us (e.g. lunch). I don't take her to the park that much anymore because I can't chase her around. But the indoor play centre is perfect because it's confined. Staying home is all right but can be a bit tedious if we are home all day. Astrid is at the age where she wants me to play with her a lot—which is lovely, except her cooperative play skills aren't quite there yet, so the majority of our “play” consists of dividing up who can play with what (with her choosing her favourites, of course), but then she watches me play with the things she's assigned to me and doesn't really play with the things she's assigned herself, or she overrules what I'm going to do. She doesn't really take much of the initiative herself when we play together—perhaps because she's still learning. (I have no idea: I haven't read that much about play.) Interestingly, if she plays by herself, she shows plenty of initiative and imagination. I should be encouraging that more.

However, there is only so much play that this mum can take in any given day before going a little nutty. So I've found myself relying on TV a lot more. I figure it's better than me snapping at her and getting angry, and besides, I am not 100 per cent convinced about the studies about excessive screen time anyway (not that I would park her in front of the box ALL DAY). So Astrid watches TV or plays with the iPad when I have to do things like prepare food or have a shower, and sometimes in the afternoon post-lunch if we're at home, I'll get her to choose a movie to watch. With most movies, generally she dislikes them all on first viewing, (though now that she's a bit older, that's not so much of a thing), but then she will sometimes ask for repeat viewings and talk about what happened in the movie. I think the first movie I ever showed her was My Neighbour Toroto, which she watched with my plush Totoro collection:

The first movie she ever saw was Brave at the drive-in when we went to Brisbane for Supanova (and she sat on my lap and I forewarned her about all the scary bits). For the record, she likes My Neighbour Toroto, Monsters Inc, Cars 1, Cars 2, WALL-E (strangely!), Finding Nemo (which she liked more than I was expecting: I thought the scary bits would freak her out), all three Toy Story films (though she hasn't asked for a re-watch of any of them), Ponyo and Robin Hood. She was bored by Ratatouille and The Incredibles (and, curiously, Planes, though occasionally she changes her mind about that), and scared by Chicken Run (so we had to turn it off half an hour in). I haven't been game to show her The Curse of the Were Rabbit yet.

(Robin Hood made me realise that a lot of our modern children's films can actually be quite scary for preschoolers because in comparison, Robin Hood was a lot of fun and innocuous. It made me want to eventually acquire some of the older Disney classics—The Sword in the Stone, 101 Dalmatians, Mary Poppins and the like.)

I am getting a bit better at arranging playdates/activities out/ways to see people so that it's not all boring TV.

Now that Christmas and the holidays are over, I've been trying to give my week a bit more structure—structure that I hope will work well for when the baby comes. Mondays Astrid is with me all day (though soon Music Time will start, which will fill Monday mornings). Tuesday, Astrid is back at swim school and then my in-laws come and help out in the afternoon. Wednesday and Thursday are what I'm currently calling my “weekend” days because she goes to childcare/preschool all day on both days. (The childcare centre she's been attending runs a preschool program for her age group.) Fortunately because of last year, she has good friends who attend on those days so she has kids to play with and have fun with. (Side note: childcare sent home a report card last year that contained interesting information about what she is and isn't capable of doing at the moment—for example, she can count to ten but she isn't interested in learning how to write letters yet. Some of her teacher's comments were also very interesting—for example, “Astrid is able to accept disappointments, especially when playing group games, and is encouraged to use her words to resolve problems. She especially loves caring for younger children.”) I usually use one full day of this “weekend” to work (usually Wednesday, and most of my birth centre appointments fall on this day), and one full day to rest and recover. I cannot tell you just how good it is, knowing I have a full day to rest! I would tell you I usually spend it doing “nothing”, but to me, “nothing” means stuff like reading stuff on the internet, reading comics (but not books because I haven't really been able to read anything other than non-fiction prose for a while), listening to podcasts, watching television, knitting and napping.

People keep asking me if Astrid knows about the baby and whether she is excited about it. She knows about it (and has for quite a number of months now), but I think a fair description of her attitude towards it would be “ambivalent” rather than excited. Sometimes she is quite affectionate and will kiss my tummy or put her ear to it to see if she can “hear” (read: feel) the baby. But sometimes she seems threatened by it and often says crossly, “I don't want the baby to play with my toys!” We've been prepping her by talking about it, as well as reading books that deal with the coming of another sibling (e.g. The Berenstein Bears: New Baby, There's a House in Mummy's Tummy [which, quite frankly, is just really strange in places], Wonderfully Madison [which I bought more because of Jemima's art than for its subject matter; it was just coincidence that the subject matter was right up our alley!] and I forget what else), showing her pictures of herself as a baby, talking about what babies are like, and so on. I suspect the reality of having a younger sibling won't sink in until that sibling is here and we've been all living together for a little while. But so far, I think she's taking things quite well, given the magnitude of the change.

Things to do

I've been making lists, lists and more lists of stuff to buy, stuff to do and stuff to pack before the baby comes. I've managed to buy most of the things I need this time around (and fortunately the shopping list is a lot shorter for a second child than for a first)—newborn disposable nappies for the nights, boxes and boxes of wipes, car booster seats for Astrid to free up the other one, breastfeeding paraphernalia, maternity pads, and so on. I think the only things left are breast pads and a couple of medications that would be useful to have on hand (e.g. baby Panadol).

We also spent last Saturday moving a few things around—clearing out the drawers and wardrobe in Astrid's room so that we could put all her clothes in there, then moving the drawers with the change table to just outside the kitchen so that I can change the baby in the middle of the night without disturbing Astrid and filling the drawers with cloth nappies, inserts, wipes, 000 and 00-size clothes, towels, wraps and washers. The bassinet is out and I've located the sheets for it. I know where the baby bath is: I just need to clean it. But I figure that I'll do the majority of the laundry/cleaning closer to my due date.

At the same time, I am trying to get a heap of things done. A fair portion of this “work” is for Music Time as I'm handing off a whole heap of my previous responsibilities to other people—which means writing manuals and sitting down and training people. I'm also helping with the mailout (fortunately that will be over and done with on Friday).

On the creative front, I finished the second draft of an article and am waiting to hear back from my editor. I need to revise part 2 of Eternal Life to pass onto Paul. I'm not quite sure where the MM Vanity Project is up to, so I should chase that. I promised to critique a friend's comic before the end of the month. And I need to finish knitting this for Little Rachel before she returns to Mongolia.

(I need to remember that it's okay not to push myself too much creatively. I am not Ryan K Lindsay, nor do I have to be. [And anyway, Ryan is not 34 weeks pregnant.])

There is still a few bits and pieces I have left to do—like pack a hospital bag, talk to relatives and make a plan for when I go into labour, get the child restraint anchor point plus infant carseat installed on my mum's old (which will become my new car), sell my old car (though that isn't hugely pressing), talk about names with Ben, etc. I have a vague plan for labour that involves mostly a bath of hot water, the gas I used last time, and water and ice chips. The midwives at the Birth Centre have advised me to tell them, “My first labour went for six hours” when I start having contractions/my waters break and I ring the Birth Centre, because second labours tend to be quicker and then they will know and be more likely to say, “Okay, you'd better come in!” I don't know if I will have time to do everything before Pine Nut comes, but that's okay: I will cope!

Better wrap up this post: it's getting late.

(Oh, one more thing: people keep asking about the gender. We know—in fact, we've known since they gave us the results of CVS because they sequence all the baby's chromosomes. But it's a secret. I was going to tell everyone because I figured we'd tell Astrid and she'd tell everyone because she can't really keep a secret. But when I tried to tell her, she ran away, shouting, “No I have something to tell you!”, so I gave up. Only family knows at this point. It's kind of funny because people tend to get quite offended if you know and don't tell them. Or they try to guess. But I quite agree with one of Ben's relatives on this: life doesn't contain that many surprises, so why ruin them all?)

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