Monday, January 5, 2015

#MicroblogMondays: hello again

It's a new year. Clear blue skies, crispy winter air. The craziness of December is behind us. Kids are back to school. I just disposed of the Christmas tree (I'm sure the kids will be mad at me). We're buying paint for our new office and waiting for the French bureaucracy to get into gear and deliver the necessary registration numbers etc. for the company so we can get electricity and water at the office, a bank account etc. etc. (this usually takes two weeks but we submitted the paperwork just before the Christmas holidays so I'm sure it will take at least three...). A new adventure is awaiting. We're ready!

#MicroblogMondays is another great idea from Mel at Stirrup Queens. Join in!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cultural differences - pelvic floor exercise

Welcome back to my Cultural Differences series! It's been a while…

First, to answer the question in my previous post, Fran and Mina were close, but not entirely correct…it is an intra-vaginal probe, a tool to measure the strength of your pelvic floor muscles (and yes, Mina, insurance covers it!).

Here's is the story that comes with it:

The French state is very concerned about our pelvic floors (among other things…) because to 6-8 weeks after you have given birth, you have a right (100% insurance covered of course) to several physiotherapy sessions to strengthen/retrain your pelvic floor and abdomen. You can go to either a midwife or a physical therapist.

After the birth of M. Sensible I went to the midwife I also did my birthing preparation with. She was young, but her methods were non-technological, so I wasn't introduced to the probe yet… I did have to do a number of exercises though. How did she check how much therapy I would need and how much progress I was making…? Yes, with her fingers.

After M. Gourmand's birth my OB/GYN recommended a physical therapist, who then introduced me to the probe (which I could take home, however I did not get a copy of the software...).

Apart from some general abdominal exercises on a yoga mat, the pelvic floor exercises were done and measured with the probe. Picture this: you lie in a gynecological position, therapist inserts probe, hooks it up to a PC, shows you the screen with some sinus-type wave on it and tells you to follow the wave by contracting your muscles. The therapist can adjust the strength level - so if you did really well on one exercise, she might bump up the level and then the next exercise you don't even come near the top of the wave… So much for morale, ha.

I must say that even though after several years at the RE, the weirdest thing for me was having something vaginally inserted which was then hooked up to a PC. But it was nice to see on the screen how I was doing compared to just having the midwife telling me if it was OK or not.

After 8-10 sessions I was good to go and got some exercises to do regularly at home. You know what happens with those…

Where you live (and if you have had the ability to give birth), did you receive any pelvic floor therapy sessions after childbirth? If so, did insurance cover them? If not, did you get any recommendations to do exercises at home? Did you follow through with those exercises?

Monday, November 24, 2014

#MicroblogMondays: what is it?

Do you know what this is (and if yes, have you used it...)?

The answer will be posted later this week in a new Cultural Differences post (remember those....?), so stay tuned!

#MicroblogMondays is another great idea from Mel at Stirrup Queens. Join in!

Monday, November 10, 2014

#MicroblogMondays: warning

This summer, on the day we were leaving for a week of camping, my lower back locked up. Timing could not have been worse (try to erect a tent with a locked-up back, sleep on an air-mattress, use the bathroom, explain to your kids that, no, you can't carry them, etc. etc.). After a full day in agony I made an appointment with the local GP. He felt very sorry for me, gave me some advice, and a prescription for naproxen sodium, an anti-inflammatory.

I'm not new to naproxen sodium. Under the name of Aleve, it used to be the only pain reliever that kept my horrible menstrual craps under control (they have become a lot less since my two pregnancies, but every now and then I still use it). Only the version I got for my back pain was a bit stronger (550 mg instead of 220 mg).

I took the meds, and together with some hot showers (and a real mattress that a friend who lived nearby lent me), I felt a bit more like myself after a few days.

However, when I read the instructions/warnings, I paused for a minute... because this one I had never seen before, but hit very close to home...

Translation: if you are a woman, Antalnox Gé 550 mg (...) can alter your fertility. Its use is not recommended for women trying to conceive. If you have difficulty conceiving or if you are undergoing fertility testing, please talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking Antalox Gé 550 mg (...).

I immediately took the Aleve bottle out of the medicine cabinet and checked if there was a similar warning on there. Negative.

Maybe it's only on the prescription version because it contains more naproxen and therefore can negatively affect fertility... But when my menstrual cramps were really heavy, I never made it to the 8 hours between two pills. I usually took a second one after 6 hours (although I never exceeded the daily dose).

I know it doesn't matter anymore, I have my two IVF-babies. But as someone diagnosed with unexplained infertility, a warning like this does bring up the "what if" questions again...

#MicroblogMondays is another great idea from Mel at Stirrup Queens. Join in!

Monday, November 3, 2014

#MicroblogMondays: one of those day

2:00 am - woken by M. Gourmand who wet his bed - change his PJs and sheets and get him back into bed just before he starts whining too much that he wants to sleep in our bed.
3:30 am - woken by M. Sensible who has to use the bathroom and is perfectly capable of doing that alone but prefers to wake his mommy first.
4:40 am - alarm goes off because hubby has to catch a 6:30 am flight
5:00 am - hubby leaves, I should go back to sleep but make the mistake of checking the progress of the various skippers in the Route du Rhum solo transatlantic sailing race and thus stay awake until 10 minutes before my alarm goes off at 6:30 am
6:35 am - drag myself out of bed - school vacation is over so we have to be out the door by 8 am! All dressed and with breakfast in our tummies!
7:00 am - wake up the boys and start the getting dressed / having breakfast routine, reminding them several times that vacation is over, school is starting again this morning!
8:00 am - out the door (wow!) I walk/run behind the boys who are on their bikes
8:20 am - arrival at school - first bring M. Sensible to his class, then M. Gourmand. Even though they said they didn't want to go to school, they are obviously happy to see all their friends again and our goodbyes are easy.
9:00 am - back home. Desperately need to vacuum clean... then get caught up following the sailing race again.
11:20 am - pick up M. Gourmand from school
12:00 pm - lunch is ready (leftover spaghetti carbonara from last night). M. Gourmand doesn't want to eat it. Throws a tantrum. After a stand-off, a bit of reasoning and some cuddling, he finally relinquishes and comes back to the table to eat his spaghetti.
1:00 pm - time for his nap. It seems to go fine at first but once I've left the room he starts singing, laughing, talking and finally gets out of bed, declaring he doesn't want to sleep. I tell him he can come sleep in my bed, which he says he doesn't want to, but when I do lie down, he quickly crawls in next to me.
1:30 pm - we're both napping (I actually had stuff to do but since I had a very short night I really fell asleep instead of getting out once my son was asleep).
3:00 pm - I get out off bed. Nap was good but probably too long because now I feel a bit dazed.
3:15 pm - M. Gourmand is awake too. We have a snack and we chill watching cartoons / race updates before heading out to pick up M. Sensible from school.
4:15 pm - leave home by bike (with M. Gourmand in the child seat on the back) to school - light drizzle has started.
4:30 pm - leave school with both kids - rain is getting a bit heavier, it's pretty windy too, so no weather to go play in the park - I hook M. Sensible's bike to my own. Uphill and headwind battle going home. Quite the workout, even if it's not even 1 km to our house (most people who see me do this think I'm nuts anyway).
4:45 pm - home with the kids. Make snack for M. Sensible.
5:30 pm - we have to leave to bring M. Sensible to music class - it is now pouring with rain. Hubby took the car to the airport, so we are putting our rain boots and jackets on and heading out on foot (with M. Gourmand in the stroller). Too much wind for an umbrella (and not compatible with pushing a stroller anyway).
6:00 pm - drop M. Sensible off at music class, M. Gourmand and I head out again to buy some groceries/kill time (going home would make no sense).
7:00 pm - music class is over, time to go home! Luckily the rain has changed into a drizzle again. It's still blowing though.
7:20 pm - home just in time before one of the wheels of the stroller falls off. Now let's get some dinner on the table!
7:45 pm - dinner is ready. M. Gourmand is eating his veggies! He even asks for seconds!
8:00 pm - both boys in need of some long bathroom breaks...
8:15 pm - remind them again that vacation is over, it is a school night, and we should get the bedtime routine started ASAP!
8:30 pm - changing into PJs, brushing teeth...
9:00 pm - both in bed, stories read, songs sung, cuddles given, lights out, etc. etc. They will be asleep within 5 minutes.
9:30 pm - it's about time I write my MicroblogMonday post! (which turned out to be not so micro at all, but oh well...)

#MicroblogMondays is another great idea from Mel at Stirrup Queens. Join in!

Monday, October 27, 2014

#MicroblogMondays: J.

This morning when I opened the FB app on my phone I had two notifications. One was a 'like' someone had given on a photo I posted, the other one was to let me know it was my FB friend J.'s birthday. Only J. is no longer with us.

The weird thing was that I had actually thought about her when I woke up. I don't know why because besides being FB friends, we weren't really friends in real life (and I didn't know today was her birthday). We had met once a few years ago, when we were living in the same city and she was looking into daycare/babysitter options for her baby girl. We had some things in common as new mothers and expats - the need to have some 'me-time' again but the struggle of handing our baby over to a sitter when we didn't have a real need (ie work) for it, and the feeling of being a bit lost in a new environment/country/culture. My sitter did have an opening, but J. didn't take it. She moved back to the US with her baby and French husband a few months later.

Her FB friend request came this Spring, which I accepted because I had a nice memory of that one time we met. I didn't post anything on her timeline or send her a message, but I did scroll through her posts and I saw funny stories and happy photos. Until two months ago, when my newsfeed showed something that had been posted on her timeline by a friend. J. had taken her own life.

I went back into her posts and realized that social media can paint a completely different picture of someone than what's actually going on in their life. I felt bad for not writing something after accepting her friend request (not that I think it would have made a difference - but maybe it would have if all of her 254 FB friends had reached out somehow instead of thinking it wouldn't matter). And it breaks my heart when I think about her beautiful daughter, who turned 4 just three weeks after her mommy died.

Happy birthday J. - may your soul rest in peace.

#MicroblogMondays is another great idea from Mel at Stirrup Queens. Join in!

Monday, October 20, 2014

#MicroblogMondays: Staycation

Start of the 2-week school holidays. The living room has been taken over by the boys...

#MicroblogMondays is another great idea from Mel at Stirrup Queens. Join in!