Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Nesting? might seem a bit early for nesting instinct (I'm 19w1d pregnant today), but I've sure been busy organizing, cleaning, and throwing stuff away. I went to Ikea this morning and besides a few nursery items (couldn't help myself), I bought a lot of boxes and containers to organize our bedroom closets and bathroom cabinets. Got to work right away after lunch and was able to store everything that was previously under the bed in the guest room (which will become the nursery) in the closets so I'm very proud of myself! :-)

It feels very good to clean the house out. There are currently seven full large trash bags waiting to go to goodwill (luckily they're non-see-through, otherwise hubby would probably take half of it out again saying that a particular sweater that he hasn't worn in six years is still a great sweater and should be kept...). There will undoubtedly be more, because I still have to attack the basement (it's a very small space but completely stacked with stuff - if you need something, you first need to empty out half of it before you can access the item you're looking for). However, I cannot do that alone, because it involves a lot of lifting and moving heavy items, so I'll have to wait for a weekend day and drag my hubby down there.

So now back to business. I've some items on my to-do list since early December for an association I'm the president of, so I need to stop procrastinating and get them done because I'd like to stay on for another year as president and I'm not giving a very good example right now...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Pee cup

OK, after all the serious stuff, it's time for a silly post again.

I have to call to the lab today to make an appointment for my monthly blood work (toxoplasmosis) and urine test (glucose and protein). To the right is a photo of the cup my lab hands out when you have to give a urine sample. Its diameter is 1"...

Couldn't they have made it little bit wider?! A bit more girl-friendly perhaps?! I now always take a latex glove before I have to give a sample, I don't have such a perfect aim I'm afraid...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Update on my various pregnancy discomforts

A quick update on my recent pregnancy-related discomforts:

1) The itch (which I talked about here, here, here and here) is still not gone! It tricks me about once a week in thinking that it's almost over, only to come back in full force the next day. Consulting Dr. Google doesn't give me any answers, because all I find gives 'yeast infection' as result, which the lab test showed I don't have. I've already banned panty liners, shower gel and soap. I'll now also ban fancy undies (since the last time it returned it was on a day I was wearing those) and will stick to the simple cotton ones, even when I think the itch is (almost) gone. On bad days I now take some homeopathic anti-itch cream, which seems to give more relieve than the cream the doc first gave me (the other cream, which was more of a anti-fungus medicine just gave me a burning sensation). I really hope it doesn't stay with me for the rest of the pregnancy...

2) The cramps (see this post) are a lot better. Fortunately I've only had the horrible nightly leg cramp once. I elevated the foot-end of the bed with a pillow, as suggested in one of my pregnancy books, and am making sure I'm getting enough calcium, potassium and protein (and I'm already on magnesium B6 supplements). I've been free of belly cramps too (knock on wood), just some round ligament pain, but nothing serious.

3) The near-fainting spells (see here and here) have not been back either since the last event at the post office on Monday. I've upped my iron intake, so maybe that's why. Thursday's prenatal yoga class was great (I think partly because I made sure to take it easy in the morning and had a relative early lunch which allowed me a 20-minute nap before going to yoga), I could even do the bend over without getting light-headed.

4) Fatigue - I'm still taking afternoon naps, but don't have to set the alarm anymore, I now usually wake up after 20-40 minutes.

So all in all I'm doing pretty well and my belly is growing at a rate of about 1 cm a week. Next checkup on February 3rd, next u/s on February 13th.

Friday, January 23, 2009

How to decaffeinate tea

So since ET I have been reducing my caffeine intake, like a good responsible pregnant woman ;-). I don't drink coffee, so that was easy. I did drink cola, so I switched to the caffeine-free version, but since I'm pregnant I don't really crave it that much anymore and if I drink one mini-can (15 cl) a week, it's already a lot. But tea... I drink that a lot, I love it. So for my afternoon and evening teas I switched to rooibos and herbal teas. However, at breakfast I really need the taste of black tea (preferably earl grey).

Of course even if that would be my only caffeine intake (usually 2 cups) that would not be a big deal, but I read in a booklet from a local tea shop that you can easily decaffeinate tea by soaking the tea bag in a separate cup for the first 30 seconds, throw that tea out, and then use the bag to make the tea you're going to drink. Great! So I've been using this method ever since, but I'm still wondering if this is really true, or if I'm just kidding myself. I have no way to test. My hubby thinks it's strange, since this would mean the caffeine in tea is released in the opposite way as with coffee, where the rule is that the longer the coffee has been exposed to water, the more caffeine it contains (so yes, this means there's more caffeine in drip coffee than in an espresso! Believe it, my hubby is a regular on

Anyway, this is all not very important, but I thought it would be a fun fact to share during ICLW.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Which birthing class to choose?

I know I still have about at least a month or two to think about this, but as it's ICLW I thought I might get a few more reactions than normal, which could help me with my choice (or make me even more confused).

In France, the state-run insurance covers 8 birthing classes of 45 minutes each. You have the choice to do these at 1) the hospital where you're going to deliver, 2) at the "protection maternelle et infantile" (PMI) department of the social services or 3) with an independent midwife. There are also three different methods to choose from: 1) Classic (Lamaze); 2) Haptonomy; 3) Sophrology.

I asked a few friends and two of them went to the same independent midwife, the first one did a more sophrology-based class with her and liked it, the second one did haptonomy and although she liked the method, she was not impressed with the midwife. It was her second pregnancy and she had done a classic birthing class with her first one, so it didn't matter too much that her second class was not such a success. At the information meeting in the hospital that I went to a month ago, the midwife there said that she wasn't convinced that haptonomy only would be enough to sufficiently prepare you for labor.

I went to the hospital on Tuesday to check out their information book about the various options. Their recommendations in choosing a birthing class were as follows:
  1. Keep in mind the distance between your home and the location of the class.
    In my case, hospital, PMI and independent midwife are all at walking/biking distance from my home (where the hospital is about a 30 minute walk and the midwife 10 minutes).
  2. If you've already done a birthing class once for a previous pregnancy, it might be nice to try a different method/location.
  3. If your husband wants to participate, it's better to go to an independent midwife (at the hospital husbands are only invited for one session).
    Hmm, we haven't really talked about this yet. He might want to, but he travels so much for work, that I doubt this is feasible.
  4. If you cannot come to all the sessions of a series, better go to an independent midwife.
    Well, I think that if it's just me and I don't have to depend on hubby's travel schedule, that I should be fine.
  5. If the planning for the series you wanted to take part in is fully booked, go to independent midwife or PMI.
    OK, so this depends on my own organization of when I go there to register, which should not be a problem.
  6. Choice of method.
    See above.
The hospital offers six 2-hour group sessions (of 10 participants max - 1 hr talking, 1 hr exercises) + one 'photo session' where they'll show photos of the maternity ward + one session on breastfeeding. The photo and breastfeeding sessions are also open to people who do their birthing classes elsewhere, and you don't need to register for those (husbands welcome as well). The sessions take place either on Tuesdays (mornings or afternoons) or Wednesdays (afternoons). That should be no problem for me as I'm currently not working and if the part-time job is going to happen at all, then I will be free on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The PMI offers group classes on Tuesday afternoons. My neighbor went there for her birthing class and she was happy with it (and apparently it's free).

I've also called a midwife (not the one my two friends went to, because of the negative reaction of one of them) in my neighborhood. She's doing sessions with 2-3 people, you can choose if you go every week, or every two weeks. Also lots of flexibility in times (morning, afternoon, evening). I asked her what method she did but she talked so fast that I didn't understand (and I was too shy to ask again), but I think it's Lamaze.

The advantage of doing the one at the hospital is that I'll really get to know that place and its people, which might be comforting the moment we go there for the delivery. However, the part where they have their info sessions (and I assume also the birthing classes) is pretty old, so not a very nice place to be (the maternity ward itself was completely renovated, so that's much better).

The advantage of going to the independent midwife is that hubby might be able to join for a few sessions if he wants, it's more intimate (but also less chance to exchange experiences with other pregnant women...), and I will get to know that midwife which might be handy in case we decide to opt for the short hospital stay after delivery. Normally in France you stay in the hospital for three to four days after delivery, but if you feel up to it (and you have some extra help at home) there is an option to leave after 48 hours. In that case a midwife will come visit you for an hour at home for two more days. To qualify for this, you have to get a form at the hospital, fill it out together with the midwife and put it in the bag that you're going to take to the hospital for the delivery. If you and the baby get the medical OK to leave after 48 hours, you can then make your final decision at the last moment (so if you rather stay in the hospital, even though you've filled out the form etc, that's fine too).

And the PMI... well, I really hadn't considered it until I asked my neighbor and she told me she went there. Apparently you also go there after the baby is born for the first check-ups, so it might not hurt to get to know its services beforehand either...

Sorry this has become such a long post. I hope most of you stuck around until the end and have some advice for me on what to choose... Thanks!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A day of cramps

Pfew, today is not a really good day... It started around 3 am when I woke up screaming from a horrible leg cramp. No hubby around to massage it (or to scare for that matter - I will have to warn him when he comes home in case it happens again tonight), so I tried to stretch it, which was no fun. I've still been feeling it all day.

Then after showering and dressing this morning I got abdominal cramps, more or less like menstrual cramping. I got a heat pad, drank water and did a slow round to the market. It took about 3.5 hours before it was over. But then it started again while I was taking a nap. So again a heat pad, postponed the plan to clean the apartment (yet again) and consulted Dr. Google. Didn't help much: it could be round ligament pain, but that's usually sharper and more to the sides. It could be something worse, but I have no other bad symptoms and that's just not something I want to consider... The pain ebbed away about 2 hours later.

And maybe weirdest of all, I even briefly had a cramp in my left hand after I'd taken the water pitcher out of the fridge...!

I'm already taking extra magnesium (since I had similar abdominal cramps around weeks 10-12) so I don't know what else to do besides drink lots of water and take it easy. Maybe it's just my uterus growing (too) fast. I always had extremely horrible menstrual cramps, so it seems like a usual reaction for my body if something is happening in those parts.

My belly feels rather 'present' right now, a bit hard. Maybe that's caused by constipation/bloating because I've been taking some extra iron the last two days to avoid more near-fainting spells? I'm trying not to freak out, but of course I'll keep a check on it and if it doesn't go away I'll call my OB tomorrow.

I'll do some leg stretches before going to bed tonight, and maybe eat a banana and drink some milk or yogurt, apparently that helps too...

T21 screening results

I had blood drawn for the T21 screening on January 5. 16w checkup on January 6 where the OB said that she would call once the results were in, no matter what the outcome. Got the invoice from the lab last week Tuesday (for a whopping € 36, ha! which will be fully reimbursed too. You gotta love the French health care system!), so I assumed the OB would have gotten the results, but no phone call...

Not that I was worried about the results being bad (the NT scan at the 12w u/s was fine and we have absolutely no family history of down syndrome), but my organized Northern-European self just wanted to have the result, so I could check that off the list (and yes, after more than three years in France I should now that it doesn't work like that here).

So I called the OB's office yesterday. Apparently the doc had been on vacation last week so she hadn't had time to go through all the files, but she would definitely call me back.

The phone rang this morning just after eight. Results are fine, I shouldn't worry (I didn't), I'm not in the risk group (I didn't ask what the actual ratio was, but I don't necessarily need to know, might find out in two weeks at the next check-up though).

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The (lost) charm of being a "Sunday Child"

I was born on a Sunday. So was my husband. They say (at least in Holland) that children born on a Sunday carry an extra charm, and will often have good luck in their lives...

It seemed to be true when I was living in Holland. Pretty much everything went pretty smoothly. I was chosen among 100 candidates to go on an educational trip abroad when in high school, I passed a difficult college entrance exam. I found the love of my life (although it took a while), I had the best job in the world. But I think I lost that charm when I left Holland to join my hubby in his career pursuit and gave up my own super job and with it part of my identity.

On my CV, it doesn't seem that I gave up my career at that moment. My job in the US looks great on paper, but I hated it. When we moved to France (which I was happy about, because I was escaping from this job), I thought it would be relatively easy to find a job again. No work permit issues like in the US. But 3.5 years and many applications later, I've only been invited to a handful of interviews and never made it to a second round.

A gap in your CV is a big sin in France, but if I got to the interview stage, what kept coming up was the question if my hubby would be changing jobs and countries again soon, because they "don't want to start another search in three months". And (yes, they know they're not allowed to ask), "What about children?" Thank you all so much for your confidence! Grr...

My hubby had a bad day at work two weeks ago. He saw a job ad and applied. He got invited. He made it to the second round. They didn't ask him if his wife had a career or intended to change countries again, if he had little children he had to take care of. No, they just looked at his qualifications, were convinced by what he told them and if he hadn't said 'no' to the second round (after some good discussion at home), he'd probably would have gotten the job. Mind you, the job he currently has is awesome. He has a great career. He's building a super network. OK, I know, I'm jealous. I know I shouldn't be, because jealousy is a useless emotion (I'm quoting my wise sister here).

And another thing about this Sunday Child Charm - why did it take us a f**ing five years to get pregnant?!

I think we both lost the charm for a while. Seems my hubby has definitely found it again. And I'm hoping it's coming back to me to. So that the pregnancy will continue normally and result in a healthy baby. That maybe this part-time job opening that was talked about two weeks ago is really going to happen. I know I shouldn't complain. We're very blessed. I just woke up crying today. Blame it on the hormones... (and thankfully I have a blog to vent my frustration!)

Monday, January 19, 2009

January sale

So, as ridiculous as it is, the periods of the summer and winter sales in France are state-regulated. So this year, the winter sale started on Wednesday January 7, and will end on February 11 (end date may vary per region). No shop is allowed to do pre-sales, not even for regular customers.

My regular pants and jeans were getting awfully tight, but I could restrain myself to wait until the 7th, so I would not have to pay full prize for maternity clothes. I had already checked out some websites and knew pretty much what I wanted. It's great that I found some online, because being in the mall or city-center on the first day of the Sale is real mayhem. The first year we were here I inadvertently was at the Gap on that very day and had to wait in line for 30 minutes to pay for one pair of jeans... (and vowed I would never go to the mall on the first sale-day again).

So shopping online seemed like a great idea. No lines, just a few clicks. Found some nice clothes (and pants/jeans that were long enough!) Free shipping, free returns. Vertbaudet promised delivery within 48 hours, Esprit in 3-7 days. So I waited... and checked my inbox and the shops websites every day (yeah, I admit, I love tracking packages!). The Esprit website had no way to login to see what the status of the order was (which I don't like much), while Vertbaudet's kept saying 'colis en préparation', even six days later! Of course both had already debited my credit card the day I placed the order...

After three days I got an email from Esprit saying they were sorry but needed more time than usual in getting my order to me (yeah right, they couldn't have anticipated for the winter sale, which date has been fixed at least 6 months in advance?!). Another three days later, I received an email that my order had been shipped and they gave me a tracking number, yay! However, the tracking number gave no result on the day I received the email, nor the next day, or the day after. WTF? So I sent them an email. Got a response a day later: the day I got the shipment email was the day the package left the distribution center in Germany. French tracking info would not be available until 48 hours later. OK, fair enough, but it would have been handy if they would have mentioned that in the email (or do they assume that people in France only check their email once a week or something?). Finally, 80 hours after the email was sent, the tracking number was recognized at the Coliposte website, but I was disappointed by the lack of information (oh yeah, and I could enter my email address so I would receive tracking info in my inbox. Which I did. Never received a thing.) The package arrived two days later (so 10 days after the order). Three of the five items were fine. I'm sending back the other two. First planned only to send back one shirt (had forgotten that the French M is a Dutch S, so it was OK right now, but had no room for a growing baby bump), but then saw that one pair of pants I'd ordered and which were a bit too long (amazing!) were now even more on sale, so returned them today (oh yeah, and almost fainted again while waiting in line at the post office...) and ordered a new (shorter) pair for the cheaper price. Wonder how long it takes until they credit my account for the returned items and before the new shipment arrives.

Oh yeah, and the Vertbaudet order... last Wednesday (so a week after ordering), the site still said 'colis en préparation'. I had sent them an email as well, got some lame excuse. But then also on Wednesday I got an email that I could pick it up at my 'relais colis' (this is an other delivery option I discovered, where it is sent to a store of your choice (as long as it's in the 'relais colis' network of course, near you where you can pick it up. Quite handy, as long as the packages are not too big or heavy. Home delivery is also possible, but for an additional fee).

And the funny thing is - if I'd have them, I would wear suspenders with my new maternity jeans! They're still too big, even with the adjustments set to the smallest size! But a lot more comfy than my regular jeans tough, now my belly just needs to grow more.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Too much

I never forget that I'm pregnant, but sometimes I forget that that means I can't do everything I used to do. Today was a good example of trying to do too much - and my body definitely told me this was not the way to go!

The day started at 4.15am because my hubby had a very early flight to catch. As he is coming back by train tonight, he couldn't leave the car at the airport, so I drove him. I went back to bed around 6.30am and got up again at 8am. Went grocery shopping at the big hypermarket and bought a lot (there were a lot of 'buy 2 get 1 free' promos). Tried not to lift too many heavy stuff, but still...

Back home around 11.30am, time to put all the groceries away, do laundry, and make myself some lunch. I felt a headache coming up but only had about 10 minutes to lie down before I had to head out to my prenatal yoga class, which started at 2pm. Yawning all the way there because this was right around my usual nap time... The headache had gotten worse and I remembered that I almost fainted last week, so I took it very easy and it seemed to go OK for about 10 minutes, but when we had to do a forward fold I felt my head spin and had to sit down otherwise I would definitely have fainted. Pfff... the instructor was very nice and she said that it is quite common in the first 4 months of pregnancy, but I don't have this problem during my other yoga class when I do forward folds etc, so I suspect it still has more to do with my crazy morning and the missed nap. Hmm, I'll make sure I'll be very zen next week before the class (and maybe have lunch early so I can have a 30-minute nap before going to class) and see how it goes - although then she probably won't allow me to do forward folds at all!

When walking back home I decided I would not put my body through more stuff today, so I postponed my other (regular) yoga class, that I normally have at 6pm on Thursdays, to either tomorrow afternoon or Monday evening. I've been taking it very easy the rest of the afternoon, and spent most time on the couch, even postponing working on a translation I'm supposed to do to tomorrow (and I only worked for 1 hour on it yesterday, so it's not really progressing). Headache is still there. Time to eat some soup...

Friday, January 9, 2009

I don't understand...

why this stupid itch is still there when the lab test shows that there's nothing wrong? No yeast infection, no nothing! This should of course be good news, but I don't feel that great, because if I would have an infection, then at least it could be treated, now I don't know what to do and I'm afraid the itch is going to stick around for the rest of the pregnancy... The cream I got on Tuesday is not doing anything yet. Have to take it twice a day until next week Friday, hopefully it'll have effect by then. I don't want to end up like the woman I once read an article about in the New Yorker who scratched her head open (completely through to her brain!) because she had a horrible itch that no-one could cure...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

First prenatal yoga class

So this afternoon I had my first prenatal yoga class. I've been doing a regular (Iyengar) yoga class for the past three years and will continue to do so, but thought it might be nice to add a class specifically for and with pregnant women. I must say it was completely different from anything I'm used to in my regular yoga class. I think I like the activities/postures of the Iyengar class a lot better (at least for the moment, this might change as I get further along in my pregnancy) - this prenatal class is more like I imagined yoga classes to be like until about five years ago when I was completely not into yoga and I would rather go sweat it out in the gym...

But besides that it was pretty good (even though I almost fainted because I was showing off too much in the beginning and I was now doing excercises during my usual nap time...) and nice to be away from my computer screen for an hour. I also liked being just with other pregnant women - and it was a very small group: only 6 women, of which most were much further along with their pregnancy then me, so some beautiful big bellies.

So I paid for 10 classes and will go back next week. And in 30 minutes I will go to my other yoga class. Bit weird that they're both on Thursday, but oh, well, that's how it is (not much choice in yoga classes in this city).

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

16w check-up

Today I had my 4-month checkup (at 16w0d exact). Gained 1,5 kg since last month, BP still fine at 120/70, blood and urine tests which I had yesterday came back OK too (still waiting for the T21 results though, which takes a few more days). OB said I looked great, which was of course great to hear too!

However, this stupid itch is still not gone (ugh!), so the OB decided to do a pap smear which is now at the lab for analysis to see if I have a yeast infection or not (probably yes - but then at least we'll know what kind and it can be treated). She still blames it on the Utrogestan, which I think is correct, and said that sometimes, when a yeast infection happens early in a pregnancy, you are more or less stuck with it for the remainder of the nine months, which I hope is not the case for me, cause I've really had enough of this itch!! Until the results come back from the lab, I have a cream that should already help (better than the cream I got three weeks ago, which was just to sooth, and didn't do much).

Back to good news... uterus felt good and very present, I'm apparently carrying pretty low, but that that doesn't mean anything medically she said - cervix is long and closed. She then got the doppler (or was it something else? I don't know really) out to see if she could detect a heart beat. In the courtyard behind the office someone was drilling away, so there was a horrible noise and she said that 16w would be very early to hear it this way, but... there it was!! How great!! I love it that I've had another sign of life from my baby (can't wait until I'll start to feel it moving, but that'll probably be another three weeks).

The OB was really enthusiastic that we got to hear the heartbeat and we were both all smiles. I kept smiling all the way back home.

Next check-up in four weeks.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Back home

We're back from Switzerland, where we had a wonderful time in the snow with the family. I'm pretty tired from the 6-hour drive, so not much to say at the moment, apart from wanting to wish you all a very happy 2009 - may all your dreams come true!!