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...

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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.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

#MicroblogMondays: Staycation

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

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Monday, October 13, 2014

#MicroblogMondays: mussels

Yesterday we had mussels for dinner. Or at least, hubby and Mr Sensible did. Mr Gourmand and me don't like mussels. For Mr. Gourmand it might just be his "I am 2 and I don't like anything besides junk food", for me it's psychological. I don't think I ever really tried, I just can't bring myself to eat them. So I had thawed some salmon from the freezer for myself, and Mr Gourmand would have his beloved fish sticks. When it was time to cook it turned out the salmon was looking and smelling a bit funny, so I threw it out. Having no alternative, I put some more fish sticks in the pan...
However when we all sat down for dinner the fish sticks didn't look and smell appealing to me at all. So I started on the carrots and the fries. Hubby asked if I really didn't want to try a mussel (with my eyes closed if needed). Oh well, ok then. I tried, it wasn't bad at all (don't I sound really French here? C'est pas mal... the most positive reaction you can get). I'm not a big fan, but I ate at least ten (eyes open). Never too old to discover new tastes (and I hope it won't take that long before Mr Gourmand decides to try out some fruit and veggies - otherwise I'll have to come up with a new nickname for him)!

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

Monday, October 6, 2014

#MicroblogMondays: Done!

Submitted all translations this morning. I'm going to catch up on some sleep this week...

Monday, September 29, 2014

#MicroblogMondays: deadline stress

My apologies for not returning any comments on last week's #microblogmonday. I've been under deadline stress and will be until Friday.

Combining working (from home) with the kids' school schedule is a little daunting at times. Last year I could still tell M. Gourmand's sitter that I would pick him up later and ask another mom to pick M. Sensible up from school and take him to the park. Now M. Gourmand is also in (pre)school, but just mornings. So I have two hours to work in the morning when he's at school, two hours during nap time, and if I have any energy left 1-2 hours in the evening when the kids are in bed.

More thoughtful blog posting and commenting to come next week, hopefully.

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

Monday, September 22, 2014

#MicroblogMondays: inappropriate pink

Although my TTC days are behind me, pink on my panty liners still makes me flip out. What the hell were they thinking at Nana (or Libresse, or whatever they're called abroad)...?!

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

Monday, September 15, 2014

#MicroblogMondays: to party or not to party

The other day in the park M. Sensible was a bit upset because one of his best kindergarten friends was going over (together with his parents and little sister) to M. Sensible's best friend/girlfriend that evening and of course M. Sensible wanted to go too. So I said I understood, but explained that we can't just all go join everyone without invitation, and I sure would talk to his mom so we could plan a playdate soon too. Well, ok, ok, but of course he still felt a bit left out. And funnily so did I - Why? Why do I always think that they don't like me as much as the others because they set up more dinner dates together? So I tried to kick myself in the ass and told me to get some self-confidence.
The next day we saw everyone again at a birthday party of yet another kindergarten friend. One of the two moms looked really tired and hungover. Turned out the dinner date had actually been a sleepover, lots of alcohol was consumed by the adults and of course they hadn't hit their pillow before 3 am and she was woken up by her baby at 5:30 am, with the other kids following at 7 am. I felt conflicted. There was the little jealous pang again for missing out on a fun evening but at the same time I know that even if I am invited or going out for a girls night, I always go home as one of the first ones because for me feeling like sh*t the day after (which then also means yelling at my kids etc) is too high a price to pay for just a fun night. That probably makes me boring, or at least sensible (a label I've been given my entire life already). I could add that the other two moms are at least 5 years younger than me but I don't think age has anything to do with it. Even when I was a teenager my parents wondered if I shouldn't be out dancing with friends on a Friday night...
Do you like going out late (and getting drunk) with friends even when you know you will not have the chance to sleep in and you might be grumpy and unpleasant to everyone around you the following day? Or are you so lucky to have a partner who would just take over the next day so you can recuperate (which is not the case for me)?

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

Monday, September 8, 2014

#MicroblogMondays: La Rentrée

Is summer vacation for a mother of small children ever really relaxing? We had lots of fun, but I can't say I was rested upon return (especially since M. Gourmand thought it was too much trouble going to the bathroom on the campsite - so much easier to let mommy clean up the mess… I must admit I threw away a few undies…).

Today the second week of school started with both boys attending. Last week I immediately noticed how much easier life is for the younger child. School was already familiar to him, while his brother had again to navigate a new situation as his Kindergarten class is located in the building of the elementary school - so tears for M. Sensible, big smile for M. Gourmand (who has everybody's favorite teacher as well so how can you not smile).

I now have at least my mornings back (and who knows, maybe also my blog?) - and some part of the afternoon too as M. Sensible stays at school all day and M. Gourmand takes long enough naps for me to get some work done. If I get as far as to revive my Cultural Differences series, there will certainly be a post on the topic of "La Rentrée" too.

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