Sunday, December 18, 2005


Home at last!

Perpetual cuteness

Everyone thinks their baby is the cutest baby in existence.

Post-baby post

Where to begin?
Rebecca Lily Marshall was born on Saturday, December 10th at 1pm. :)
There really isn't an adequate way to describe how this changes your life. In the past week, I have been through more profound physical, emotional and intellectual changes that I would have thought possible. I feel as though Greg and I are worlds apart from the people we were only a handful of days ago.
There are so many details that I don't know where to begin. This blog was originally intended to be a record of my pregnancy experience, but I now feel compelled to delve into the parenting experience as well.
I don't have a lot of free time on my hands, but I plan to update a little bit at a time. Eventually, the whole labour and hospitalization story will be here (with appropriate warnings for the squeamish).
Geg and I used to consider our wedding day to be the best day of our lives, but now, we both agree that nothing can compare to the day our daughter was born.

Friday, December 9, 2005

What happens now and what happened earlier

O.k. now that I have the time, I will give a little more detail about today.
Last night I was at my work Christmas party at the Rideau-Carleton Raceway. Greg and I had a blast and I was very tired. I went to sleep fully expecting to go into work the next morning. At about 2:45am I woke up because there was hot gushing fluid pouring out of me, and I was just soaked. I had a strong conviction of what was going on, but I still wanted to be sure - I woke Greg up, and then I proceeded with a number of tests to confirm the nature of the incident (the reason there could be confusion is that women at the end of their pregnancy sometimes have trouble with their bladders - I haven't, but I still wanted to be sure). First off - amniotic fluid tends to be clear (not yellow). It also smells nothing like urine - it smells like very mild bleach. Furthermore, it is alkaline, while urine is acidic. I did not conduct a pH test though - although, I did consider it. Anyhow, the intial gush was quite substantial, but the amniotic fluid is regenerated, so once you have a tear, the fluid will keep leaking at unpredictable intervals. You have no warning that it is coming and you have absolutely no control over the flow. I have heard it said that the quantity generated per hour is one cup. At any rate, I called the obstetric triage number and we were advised to go in. When we got in, I handed over my precious sheets of paper and was asked to get a drop of fluid on a microscope slide. The alternative was that they would take a sample using a speculum (no thank-you!). Getting a sample was not a problem. The sample was confirmed to be amniotic fluid due to the charactertistic ferning pattern when observed under a microscope. Next, they placed fetal monitors on my belly (basically belts measuring heartbeat) with a dab of ultrasound gel. They also periodically measured my blood pressure. Greg was enjoying every minute and taking pictures. Rebecca was quite active during this time, and my blood pressure was a little high (due to excitement). What the nurses and the resident really wanted were the results from my group B strep test. Since I had the test on Monday, they could reasonably expect the results to be at my OB's (but obviously not accessible at 5am). Once your water has broken, the danger is that the baby could be exposed to infection. Prior to water breaking, the cervix is sealed off by a mucous plug and the baby is further protected by the amniotic sac. If you are group B strep positive, those particular bacteria could pose a risk, and they want to commence labour ASAP. Even if you aren't GBS positive, breaking your water is a point of no return. They want you in labour within 24 hours. Ultimately, since I wasn't having contractions, I was given a choice. I could go home or I could walk the halls for a few hours and see if the contractions kicked in. I opted to go home. If my GBS test was positive, I would go back to the hospital and be induced with oxytocin and antibiotics. If my GBS test was negative, I would wait for regular contractions spaced 5 minutes apart and then come in OR I would come in if there were irregularities in Rebecca's movements OR I would come in if there was heavy bleeding OR I would come in at the 24h mark to be induced.
As expected, my GBS test was negative.
Now I am waiting for contractions to be regular. I am having some, but they are irregular, uncomfortable but not painful. I will probably be induced at around 3am to get my labour going.
So, Greg and I are just hanging out, trying to get sleep, watching DVDs. I have gone through an untold number of pads to account for the amniotic fluid leak, and I am not really able to sleep comfortably.
More to follow when there is more to say.


So, I'm packing to go to the hospital. I am about 100% certain that I broke my water about an hour ago. Anyhow, I called the obstetric triage nurse and I have my orders. Update to follow.

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Week 36 checkup

On Monday I had my week 36 checkup. When I arrived there was another prego in the waiting room of the clinic. She was far larger than I, which is saying something at this point. As I discovered, she was going to be induced on the next day and was thought to be carrying a 10 lb 4 oz baby. Rebecca seems quite a reasonable size by comparison. The nurse gave us each a urine sample container for whenever we felt motivated to contribute a sample (hooray, no waiting). As a bonus, I managed to take the sample without getting any pee on my hands - this is a real achievement at this point considering: a) you can't see anything you're doing, b) there is a giant belly in the way, c) the relevant anatomical bits and pieces are engorged at this point. As usual, despite my timely arrival, they took me about an hour late. I nearly feel asleep in the waiting room - in fact, although I had the foresight to bring a novel with me, I was so tired that I couldn't concentrate enough to read. The other person in the waiting room was a very young teenager with a very new baby. This girl looked decidedly unhappy, despite having brought a relatively cheerful friend with her. Was she even sixteen? Hard to say. I have met so many women of my own age - jubilant at the prospect of having their babies, that it was an odd contrast to be confronted with someone for whom this might not be the most wonderful or anticipated of events. As usual, my urine test, weight test and blood pressure tests were all fine. Rebecca's heartbeat was 120 bpm, which is also perfectly fine. She remains in the "ready" position, which is good. While I was at the clinic, they were taking a phone call from someone whose baby is transverse (head up) - quite a problematic situation. I had my exciting dual swab test for Group B Strep - results to be divulged at next week's appointment (at which point the baby will be considered full term). Basically, she's good to go. I briefly discussed my birth plan with my obstetrician. Since I don't want anything special or freaky (freaky like preserving your own placenta for later consumption etc.), there really wasn't a whole lot to say. There are two fundamental aspects of my birth plan: (1) I do not enjoy pain and have no qualms about eliminating it - providing the means is not too painful, (2) I will put up with whatever is deemed best for Rebecca. My obstetrician made me the official keeper of my own prenatal records - this will facilitate things when I have to go to the hospital, and gave me the obstetric triage phone number. I also got a requisition for an ultrasound. For some OBs, ultrasound at this stage is standard practice - this one is mostly for my peace of mind. I was worried that Rebecca's movements had really decreased. While I was 100% certain she moved every day, I didn't feel certain that she was moving ten times a day, so the U/S is to check the amniotic fluid level. It is possible to have low aminiotic fluid (for a variety of reasons), including microtears in the amniotic sac (in which case, at this stage, you probably induce labour). Subsequent to my appointment I started logging daily movements and realized that Rebecca easily makes well over ten movements a day. I think my confusion was due in part to the fact that she is very crammed, and both the number and intensity of movements has really gone down. I don't expect that they will find anything amiss. Also, I am sleeping a great deal (though, obviously not at this moment), and I probably miss a lot of her movements for that reason. I am anxious to finish work - the work day just slays me. Sometimes when it hits noon, I doubt my ability to make it through the rest of the day in what passes for a state of consciousness.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Week 35 checkup

Yesterday was my week 35 checkup. From now on, my OB appointments will be a weekly thing. I handed in my hospital pre-admission questionnaire, and next week I have my group B strep test and we discuss my birth plan. Everything else was pretty routine - urine and weight are o.k. Blood pressure is o.k. Rebecca's heartbeat is nice and strong and measuring 120. One of the workplace pregos has left (she has a due date the day before me). She actually has a C-section booked for the 28th (note: in Canada, unlike the States, you can't have elective C-section) because her baby is so enormous. Rebecca may be 75th percentile - which is (if you recall) "a fair size", but this baby boy is beyond the 95th percentile error bars. The other workplace prego looks to have already had the baby drop and next week is her last week. Tentatively, the last day I'm in at work will be the 16th but I intend to play it by ear a little.
Finally, my belly button is still intact. I don't think it will ever invert at this point. Rebecca is putting on the pounds now, but she isn't really addding much to my size anymore. My fundal height measured in at 37 cm yesterday, so I guess the uterus is still stretching. It should stop eventually, right? Some of my maternity clothing is less wearable at this point. For example - my maternity pants - some are the below the waist type and others are the panel type. Well, sometimes my belly pushes enough on the panel that the panel rolls itself down.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

A word on Braxton-Hicks contractions and Christmas

If you're wondering, I'm awake because of bad heartburn and the fact that I had a nice long nap after work. At this point, my sleep schedule is a complete mess. Last night I slept for 12 hours straight and woke up exhausted. Mind you, this week is supposed to include another blood volume hike on the order of 1.5 litres, so I guess being tired makes sense.
At any rate, this week I had some Braxton-Hicks contractions. They have a special name because they are not "productive" contractions, they are trial run contractions that help prepare your muscles. Supposedly, women can start to feel these as early as the middle of the second trimester. Obviously this is not the case for me. They are best described as really mild menstrual cramps. It's that same crampy feeling. Speaking as someone who had some truly incapacitating cramps in my teenage years - my first thought was - why can't women have midol in labour (and yes, I understand why not)? Actually, it was a bit of a relief that the experience was so - well, familiar. It's almost reassuring. It's something I know all about.
As for thoughts on Christmas - as I trudged to work through the snow, I worried about all the things I have to get done before Rebecca arrives, and the scary prospect of Rebecca coming "early" before I complete my "to do" lists. I thought to myself - Christmas is a poor choice of time to have a baby (unless your name is Mary). This is followed by the equally amusing thought - next time will be different. I don't understand how can I possibly contemplate a return to this state at the moment when I am most uncomfortable, but there you have it. This weekend: prenatal massage. Tomorrow/today: meeting with my compensation officer to sort out the preliminary paperwork.

On the bright side, even with all this edema, my blood pressure is fine

Note the lack of obvious bones, veins, or joints.

Why my shoes don't fit: the big picture

The swollen feet of pregnancy

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Third trimester memory loss

Here I am, once again unable to get back to sleep. Combination of acid reflux and soreness. Rebecca was extremely active today - (yesterday at this point), making one particular meeting uncomfortable for me. I agree with Rebecca though - time to stop working soon. I have four more weeks of work left.
As for the title of this post... does it happen? Yes definitely, or at least, definitely to me. While some of my work co-pregos complained of this in the first trimester, I am only experiencing memory troubles now. I find the memory problems and increased difficulties with concentration and focus to be quite aggravating. I think that for the most part, the things about pregnancy that bother me the most are the things I take the most for granted. Sure, there are lots of things we take for granted, but nothing more so than the things we believe we are especially good at. I happen to think that I have a good memory and excellent concentration, so to witness and admit to some flaws in this domain is particularly. I am now finding my walk to work to be more trouble than it's worth. With the ice and snow this week, I walk very gingerly (of necessity) and the duration of my walk is twice what it once was. Also, sore legs and hips make it unpleasant starting about half-way through, and I have to take breaks. I feel like I get a shin-splint type feeling on the outside of my right leg which causes me to limp on the final leg of the journey. And inevitably, by the time I reach work my edema has had a field day. So... it may be the bus for me this week, short a ride as it is. It's probably safer to travel in this manner during the winter anyway.

Here is an interesting piece on research on prego memory loss:

Monday, November 14, 2005

33 week checkup: 75th percentile babies and Group B strep

Today I met with my obstetrician for a regular checkup. It was strange not to be seeing my gp, but certainly the free underground parking will be a blessing in the winter. Although I arrived ten minutes before my appointment, they still took me about forty minutes late. This is way worse than at my GP's office.
Although the tests at this point are quite standard, things work a little differently at my OB's office. For starters, while presented with an identical (didn't want to use "spitting image" here) urine sample container, there isn't a strict set of guidelines for sample collection. The procedure at my GP's involved antiseptic towelettes and a page of bold instructions taped to the bathroom wall (including a prohibition from collecting the beginning of the stream). At my OB's they just handed me the container. Ultimately, the end result is the same as usual - although at my GP's they usually tell me my test was fine, and at the OB's nothing was said.
For my weight measurement, I always lived in the land of semi-blissful ignorance at my GP's office, where all the measurements were announced in metric units. Of course I *know* the multiplier, but I can will myself not to perform the mental calculation. At the OB's office, I got to hear the nurse say "199", which I am going to assume is in imperial units (damn well better be).
My blood pressure was not taken by the nurse, but was taken by my OB: 116/60 - which is pretty ideal.
Although Rebecca was "on the move" basically all day today, my OB has the kind of doppler device that allows everyone to hear the sounds at once. No tricky earphones. Her heartbeat is fine.
My fundal measurement (recall - basically the length of the uterus which is supposed to have a one to one correlation with number of weeks gestation), was a whopping 36. Obviously, it would normally be 33 - but as was learned during the U/S exam, Rebecca is not petite.
My OB wanted to know whether anything major had occurred since the last time I saw him. The answer was in fact - no. All tests results had come back fine and my edema (though still in evidence) was much improved by the change in the weather. He was very positive about Rebecca's size. He explained that 75th percentile is nice and healthy and babies do very well when they are slightly above the mean but still in the normal range. He said that 75th percentile babies are usually about 8lbs. (thank God, under 10). I asked him if it was true in his experience that first time mothers are more likely to deliver "late". He said it was certainly true compared to subsequent births. He also stated that bigger babies tend to come late. This was a bit anti-intuitive to me, but I'm not the OB.
My OB gave me a hospital confidential pre-admission questionnaire (fairly straight forward), and told me that after the next appointment or the second-to-next appointment, we would be switching to the once-a-week visit schedule. It's kind of exciting to think that I am finally in the home stretch.
Unexpectedly, I have yet another test coming up. Unfortunately, this is not a blood test but consists of at least one swab test for Group B Streptococcus (not to be confused with Streptococcus A which is responsible for Strep throat). The story goes like this... just as a consequence of being a living person which a particular body chemistry, some adults will play host to colonies of Streptococcus B. About 1 in 4 women will have this bacteria. They don't even know it, because it doesn't make them sick. At any rate, Strep B can be transmitted to the baby during birth, producing nasty infections and sometimes even death (although that is not common). It doesn't matter if your baby is delivered vaginally or by Cesaerean section because there have been cases of babies becoming infected by the amniotic sac (once it has ruptured of course). Pregos have to be tested between 35 and 37 weeks gestation by means of rectal and vaginal swabs (lovely). If the test is positive for Strep B, the mother must be treated by antibiotics - but only during labour. This doesn't mean the mother will thereafter have no strep B - adults with strep B are generally considered "colonized" and the strep B returns.
Anyhow, as pleased as I am with the prospect of being swabbed, Group B Strep is considered the leading cause of serious newborn infections - so this knowledge is a good thing. Of course, if you go into labour before being tested, they will treat you with antibiotics, but only if you are identified as having specific risk factors.

Saturday, November 5, 2005

Bellybutton - smaller but still hanging in!

So, here I am approaching week 32 of the pregnancy, and my bellybutton has not yet inverted. Based on what I've seen at prenatal aquafit, this is pretty unusual. From what I've read, most women pop their bellybutton at week 20. I am actually pleased that it has remained "innie" so long, although admittedly, it is far shallower than it used to be. Mom seems to believe that I should maintain it this way by sheer force of will, but obviously that is quite unrealistic. I've always had a deep belly button, and that is the only explanation I have come up with. At the same time, it *is* interesting to look at the skin in that region that has inverted (so to speak). Since it hasn't seen the light of day for 28 years, it is a little different than the surrounding flesh - in terms of both texture and colour. This week I discovered two belly freckles that I never even knew I had - this amused Greg to no end.
The pregnancy seems to really drag at this point. Six more weeks of work. Eight more weeks until the due date. It sounds like a lot to me. I feel like I've been pregnant FOREVER. And of course, there is no guarantee that Rebecca respects the schedule.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Checkup 31 weeks

On Hallowe'en I had my last checkup with my GP. From now on, I am seeing my obstetrician.
As usual, I was weighed, my blood pressure was measured, and I gave a pee sample. Weight was 88kg and no comments were made. Blood pressure was fine - in fact, my GP didn't even feel the need to retest it. Urine test was fine, unless you count the part where pee goes on my hand. That's just a fact of life at this point since I can't see where to put the container (this wouldn't be a problem if we could collect from the beginning of the stream). My doctor thought that my swelling was improved (although not gone), and didn't think it was necessary to check my reflexes. I didn't get to hear Rebecca's heartbeat (although my GP did get to measure the rate), because Rebecca wouldn't stay still long enough for her to hand me the earphones. She was so obviously kicking and moving that it was actually fairly amusing for all involved. My GP's take on the ultrasound was that all was normal. Based on size, Rebecca is in the 75th percentile for her age. So she's a little bigger than average. Her position was the same as at my last checkup. Her head is down on my left side. She is facing inwards (i.e. towards my middle as opposed to my side), with her back along the left wall of the uterus. Her legs and feet seem to be on the upper right (perfect for aiming at liver and ribs). The doctor said that Rebecca is unlikely to move much from this position in the future - beyond stretches and occasional kicks. After my appointment, I got my flu shot and a lovely Dora the Explorer bandaid. It's strange to imagine, but the next time I see my GP, I will have Rebecca on the outside. Good thing too because I am increasingly uncomfortable. Sometimes I wonder how I will manage to get through the next two months (or potentially longer).

Monday, October 24, 2005

Linea nigra

Pregnant women often produce more melanin than non-pregnant women. This can result in the appearance of this dark little line that runs down the centre of your belly from the belly button, and sometimes up from the belly button as well. The darker your skin, the darker the line can be - it is called the linea nigra. In the past week I noticed the appearance of this line. Supposedly, it usually shows up in the second trimester - but I figure that being a pale skinned individual, the delay is logical.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Change in baby movements

Today was our second session of prenatal class, and also our last. We talked more about pain relief measures, lactation and medical interventions during labour. We practiced some nursing holds with stuffed animals and we got to play with several different types of breast pumps (play, not try out). I hope that this means we will be better informed when the time comes and that we can make the best decisions possible. It is clear that while having a general plan in mind is advisable, it is also worth being flexible because until labour happens, we won't know what it will be like.
Greg and I had a discussion about the duration of labour. Greg said he thought that humans had the longest labour, while I suggested that elephant labour was probably pretty long. According to our prenatal course, the average duration of labour for a first time mom is 14 hours. Apparently, for our instructor, it was 45 minutes (lucky girl). For mommy elephant, it is apparently 11 hours on average, but can be from 5 minutes to 60 hours. Elephant gestation is 22 months (suckers). Of course, proving Greg right really makes me want to find a mammal that out-labours humans. My next guess was that large whale labour might be long. Unfortunately, little is known about the whale birthing process in the wild, only in captivity, which may not be a good representation of real whale life. What about giraffes? Normal labour is apparently only around 8 hours. Mind you, the baby weighs 130lbs. Anyhow, if anyone can find an example of a mammal who labours longer (on average) than a human, please leave a comment to let me know! Maybe big cats due to litter sizes???
Onwards to the title of this entry... change in baby movements. It is approaching the time when Rebecca's movements will be more hampered. I will be very sorry to see this happen, but it is quite inevitable. Already, her movements have changed. While she used to be far more kicky, she is now more interested in pressing on the edges of her shrinking universe (o.k., it isn't shrinking, she's growing - but I suppose from her perspective, it might seem like it was shrinking). She still kicks, but it is far more common that she "stretches" or "squirms". I have also discovered that when I feel pain in my squooshed organ area (usually upper right around the rib cage) it is because she is actually demonstrably there doing her thing. It is now possible for both Greg and I to feel where Rebecca's body is in the belly. Places where she puts her head, hands and feet are extra hard. To explain - the belly is always hard (in general), but certain places are now super firm. So, when I feel her stretching or kicking in a certain location, I can now always feel those hard spots in the same place. When Greg and I had dinner today, I was massaging a sore spot just beneath my ribs, with a very gentle touch, and when I ran my hand over the spot, I could feel corresponding pressure at the bottom of the space. This has never happened before and was a little strange.
Today I acquired some maternity socks. This was an absolute necesssity since all my normal socks have enough elastic in them to create major leg dents that take hours to undent. I guess this means I still have some edema, although both Greg and I have noticed that with the cold weather finally in evidence, this has greatly improved. I would have just worn my mat nylons all the time, but I can't wash them fast enough to use them daily. Besides, the mat socks are nice and thin. I am finding that even though it may be cold, my feet are too warm to wear even the tiny thin socks that I normally wear this time of year.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Rebecca: Her web debut

Rebecca! (a profile of her head and clenched fist). And for your amusement, part of our phone bill.

Ultrasound 29 weeks

The verdict from the ultrasound was that I have an average amount of amniotic fluid. The amniotic fluid index value was measured as 15cm, and average is between 5cm and 25cm. So yippee for that!
As for Rebecca, she is not a mega baby. Double yippee! Technically, her measurements indicate that she is about four days ahead of her predicted due date and she weighs 1.4 kilos. The thing is, those four days can all be accounted for by individual variation and measurement error. They do dating in early pregnancy for precisely the reason that those values are more standard. Therefore, my due date will not be changing.
So I go on my merry way. Tra la la.
The ultrasound experience this time (despite being 10-12 weeks later than the last one), was not a whole lot different. Rebecca was basically just bigger. We saw the heart, the legs, hands, feet, fingers, toes, profile, spine, bladder, gut etc. We had the technician double check the gender - most definitely female. We got to see her labia and her lack of dangly bits.
As usual, Rebecca was most active. She had one arm behind her head, and the other occasionally covered her face. Her legs were kicking a great deal including kicking herself within mm of her own head (how could Greg and I produce such a flexible baby???).
There was one thing we got to see this time that we had not seen before - her face head on. We had many glimpses of her profile previously, but this is the first time we got to see her face to face (so to speak). It was a little disturbing. I only say that because of the nature of ultrasound - her eyes, mouth and nostrils were darker than the surrounding facial features. So - the end result was a little... spectral. Almost a bit - dare I say, spooky. At any rate, we came home with another profile snapshot, which I will post here soon.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Prenatal class: Session 1

Greg and I went to our first prenatal class this weekend, which is run by Birthcare inc. It is one of two Saturday sessions we are attending this month. Of all the women present, I had the latest due date (but really, most of the due dates were days apart, so it's not a huge gap). We began by discussing the various physical and emotional changes that we have experienced as part of pregnancy, and we also spoke about the changes in our relationship with our spouses/partners/whatevers. I had to say that in my case, I think this pregnancy has enhanced my relationship with Greg. I think it would be hard to experience something so special without getting closer - of course, there was one husband who took off during the course for a few hours to go play hockey - so many it is less significant for some. The rest of class focussed on details of pre-term labour, early labour, stages of labour, and post-partum emotions. I feel a bit more confident about what to do when - i.e. when to go to the hospital, when to call the doctor etc. (of course, theory is one thing... reality is another). There was an exceptional birth plan template in our booklet - everything I read told me I should have a birth plan, but this one actually included a list of what is available/possible. It is a lot easier to identify your preferences if you know what's actually out there. There was of course, a labour video. It was very structure and educational in tone, but there were certainly enough live shots to be scary too. I learned quite a bit about the stages of labour (with which I was completely unfamiliar) - but I think what was really important was the emphasis on what our spouse can do to help comfort and support us during the process. We tried lots of fun exercises involving massages and various supportive positions. There were also breathing exercises and lots of attention paid to methods of relaxation. As far as the breathing is concerned, it is greatly similar to what I've been using in Taekwon-do for so many years. It's nice that at least something is old hat for me. The instructor was a registered nurse, and also a mother, and she was quite knowlwedgeable and friendly. I don't think the prenatal class is a place to really meet and socialize with other couples, but from an educational perspective, is truly worthwhile. Then again, I've always been of the opinion that if I learned only one useful thing in the class, I would consider it money well spent. The course itself took place in Sandy Hill at the Parent Resource Centre (apparently, a city-run drop in centre which seems like a wonderful place for parents to bring their children).

Friday, October 14, 2005

Acid reflux

I have never had acid reflux until pregnancy. It is not fun. It is fact, quite gross. There is acid sitting in my throat and it is horrible. Why does it happen? Because of my mega uterus which is squashing my stomach and sending stomach contents back up the pipe (YUMMY). Also, because of my mega prego hormones which are relaxing things that are normally tight (in this case, oesophageal sphincter). I am supposed to drink lots of water, but apparently, that can also exacerbate things by filling up the tummy.
Conclusion: just screwed. Deal with it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Another checkup

Today was my penultimate appointment with my GP. After the next one, I'm off to my obstetrician. Anyhow, I went through the usual pee test, weight measurement and blood pressure measurements. The weight was too high (as usual now), but the pee was o.k. I knew that the blood pressure must have been a little off, because my GP remeasured it. Blood pressure is on the high side of normal, but is still normal. She also checked the reflexes in my legs and feet - which appear to be perfectly normal. I am fairly certain this is because I still have some edema, and she is checking for nerve conduction etc. She measured the fundal length twice in a row. I know it's not a precise measurement, but she doesn't normally do that - I think the measurement is probably high. Seems like the top of the uterus is just under my ribs. I have read that taller women can sometimes have greater uterine expansion (but who knows). Again, some comments about my size. We also listened to the Rebecca's heartbeat and my GP felt for the positioning (she has her head down and on the left side - not too shocking since she kicks me in the upper right). Anyhow, as a result of concerns over my size, my GP has requisitioned yet another ultrasound test. I was not expecting to have any more ultrasounds, but there you have it. It's not like I mind. Considering what we could see on the last one, I'm curious as to what will show up on this one. This test will be about measuring the size of the baby (mega baby?) and the volume of amniotic fluid (excess?). As usual, I hope that everything is o.k. I am tired of worrying about freakish abnormalities. It would be nice to know why I am so big. I don't really think it is due to my lifestyle habits. This is another example of something that would have been attributable to gestational diabetes, but as we know - that has been ruled out. The most frustrating thing will be if it is idiopathic. I have done my homework (as usual). Sometimes I question the wisdom of this because the bad scenarios can be scary. Nevertheless, it is always better to be informed. That way I can be vigilant and ask the right questions, and I know what to watch for. I don't want to go in for a test and get a nasty surprise. Depending on the results, I might be facing many more ultrasounds in the weeks to come. With the time required for appointments and tests, I don't know how women who don't have understanding employers and protected medical leave rights can possibly manage. I do my best to secure appointment times that are compatible with the work day, but the truth is - since the appointments and tests must occur at specific periods in time, it is often not possible to see the doctor at the end or beginning of the day. I am stuck with mid-morning or mid-afternoon.
Maybe I can get a picture of Rebecca on Monday that I can post to this blog.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Sunday, October 9, 2005

Personal Toaster Device

Finally, the weather has turned into something more reasonable for yours truly - something that actually represents a normal temperature for this season. Greg is reluctant to remove the A/C unit even this late in the game, because the weather has been so freakish this year. Bring on the cold: I am equipped with my personal toaster device (aka Rebecca).
Now a word about things said to pregnant women. Lately, everyone I see (barring friends and relatives) feels the need to say one of two things (sometimes both): (1) You are looking really good (2) Wow, you are so small/you are so big. I almost forgot - the perpetual (3) when are you due? I think people feel they have to say something about the pregnancy to the pregnant woman. Suggesting they look healthy is about as meaningful as "how are yous?" that don't really expect an answer beyond "fine". As for statement #2 - this is never said by a pregnant woman, because they know how much variation there really is between individuals. I really don't know where people who have never experienced or had direct exposure to pregnancy form their opinions of how big a woman is when. Frankly, I was completely in the dark about the size over time thing. And the more I know, the less I would presume about it. At any rate, interestingly, the women in prenatal aquafit don't actually bother to learn each other's names. They just learn their due dates and bathing suit colours. For example, I know that the girl in the other turquoise bathing suit is due at Christmas, and the friendly girl in the navy suit is due at the end of March. And everyone knows me as the girl in turquoise due at New Year's.
I used the expectant mother's parking for the first time at the Blablaws. Awfully convenient. My increasing girth has made manoeuvering in some small spaces annoying and nigh on impossible. I can no longer nimbly weave my way through large crowds. This was most obvious on an unfortunate trip to Ikea with Greg (NB: every trip to Ikea is unfortunate in my humble opinion). I decided we finally needed to pick up the change table/dresser to accomodate the influx of clothing for Rebecca. Ikea is always crowded, but Saturday is the worst. I hate going there - maybe even more than Greg does. Thank goodness we had a very well defined "mission" (although somehow we acquired a plush bat on the way). Ikea on a Saturday is ten times worse than the Blablaws on a Saturday (also a mistake). The Ikea parking lot alone is motivation to perpetuate violence on your fellow human being. Anyhow, as Greg and I travelled through the imposed Ikea maze, I would get stuck behind wandering couples arguing over colour schemes and directionless vagrants, while he could easily slip past or between them. I just wouldn't fit. It was infuriating for two reasons: (1) I had to wait until these brain dead meanderers moved out of the way (2) this situation is actually a direct result of my own actions. I should make it clear - I am not claustrophobic. However, when I am in close quarters with a very large number of stupid people, I have an overwhelming desire to flee or express myself in a physical manner which is not appropriate for civilized society. By the time I leave, I have decided that civilization (as we know it here), is a blight on the planet. When at long last we pulled into our driveway, Greg and I tried to remember the ridiculous name of the design line for our Ikea purchase. I came up with "Dik-vAHd", and the conversation when downhill from there. I think I had ten solid minutes of the sillies, complete with tear-inducing laughter. The actual name is "Diktad". All this to say - pregnancy is a long and heavy trek, so you have to be prepared to enjoy the lighter moments when you can.

Thursday, October 6, 2005

It's too hot

It's October. We are having record high temperatures. This is the fourth day in a row where the high reaches about 28 degrees. It is disgusting and gross, and I want it to end NOW.
Pregnant women are warmer and let me tell you, I don't appreciate the extra long summer.
I haven't been sleeping properly, even with the A/C unit - Rebecca kicks me all the time, and I am sore in a variety of locations. I get up 2 or 3 times per night. Also, now that I'm in the third trimester, I have lost my energy again. I am back to sleeping 2-3 hours from when I get home, and then having a normal amount of sleep on top of that. The second trimester honeymoon is over.
Lately, I feel like a prisoner of this body. The baby is heavy - for all that we adore her and enjoy her kicking. I find it hard to imagine getting through the next three months in this state. I am starting to experience the occasional shortness of breath which I'm told is due to the baby and uterus crowding the lungs. Also, waking up tired every morning and feeling uncomfortable does not do wonders for my mood. I am a lot more susceptible to emotional ups and downs. Sometimes I am so frustrated that I just want to break things or shed some therapeutic tears. Other times I am just content. But it's mostly frustration.
So the heat on top of all of this is not making Madeleine a happy camper. More like an angry camper who will kick your ass. Except that my sense of balance is off and my belly is in the way, so I can't actually kick your ass, I can just imagine it.

Friday, September 30, 2005

No genetic mutation!

Happy days. Seems like this is a good news week for me.
In other prego news - Rebecca continues to be a vigorous kicker.
There are two girls in the office now who have just returned from mat leave. They recommend Strollercize classes and library storytime. Whether or not the baby is old enough to appreciate these things seems to be irrelevant. They said that what was key was the opportunity to connect with other mothers.
There was also a brief discussion of baby blues - not full blown post-partum depression, but the short term blues that many women experience for the first week or week and a half after delivery. One of the girls expressed it as a feeling she was mourning the pregnancy. Even though she had her new baby, she was feeling as though she missed having that more intimate connection. At first, that sounded a bit strange to me, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. Right now, I have Rebecca with me all the time. A day doesn't go by that I don't feel her moving. Greg and I talk to her continuously, and feel very protective of her. It's a very special time and right now, and we just operate on the assumption that she is perpetually happy and safe. Despite any physical discomfort I may experience, it is generally a wonderfully positive thing for both Greg and I. Anyhow, I think it must also be a bit like Christmas. There are days and days of anticipation and preparation, and then one day, you have to take the tree out of the living room and put the decorations in their boxes. I always find that day very sad. Yes, you did experience Christmas and it was great, but now it's time to go forward with normal life. Of course, this is just my sorry attempt to understand something I have not yet experienced. Maybe I'll be dead wrong. Hopefully I won't run into major post-partum mood problems but, I'll just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

No diabetes!

When I got home from work, there was a light flashing on the answering machine. The message was from my GP. It appears that all my results on the 2h glucose test were perfectly normal. I do not have gestational diabetes! I am so relieved - I hated to think of Rebecca being harmed by me (however inadvertently or indirectly). Of course, given the weight issue, I will still have to be careful with my diet.
So now, it's just a matter of waiting for my genetics testing result. Maybe it will come this week too. I would hate to think that it might require an entire month.


3 weeks since my test at CHEO and still no results available, and nothing yet received at my clinic about the Friday morning 2h glucose test. I'm tired of waiting, I want information. How long will it take?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Back for more testing

So... less than 24 hours after my glucose tolerance test, I got a call from my GP. My result was borderline pass/fail. Therefore, a second, more amusing test, was required. This second test, which I dutifully underwent this morning, required at least an 8 hour fast, and involved drinking an even sweeter drink (hard to believe). Three blood samples were taken: baseline, 1 hour post drink, and two hours post drink. It was horrible to consume that godforsaken beverage as my first food of the morning. I never want to see it again. The puncturing was not all that bad - of course, they had to alternate arms, which meant repuncturing the arm that was punctured on Wednesday. In fact, by the time they got to the 2h sample, the needle they inserted on the left side wouldn't draw blood anymore (although, to give them credit, they certainly tried to shove it in until it could). So, that's five punctures in the space of about two days.
Now I wait for results (hopefully negative ones).
But in a worst case scenario - i.e. gestational diabetes, I expect there will be some dietary changes for yours truly. The incidence is 3.5% in non-Aboriginal women, 18% in Aboriginal women. Risk factors include: a previous diagnosis of GDM, age over 35 yrs, obesity, a history of polycystic ovary syndrome, hirsutism, acanthosis nigricans, being a member of a population considered to be at high risk for diabetes, including women of Aboriginal, Hispanic, South Asian, Asian or African descent. Clearly, I don't have a single listed risk factor (which is no guarantee of anything). If you have gestational diabetes, you can easily end up with a mega-size baby :( (I think they are actually referred to as "macrosomic"), and the baby can have a few problems with breathing and hypoglycemia.
The bottom line is: I have to wait and see. But I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

25 weeks, 4 days checkup: No more ice cream

Despite my elephantine swelling, my blood pressure remains perfect, so no one is worried. I called CHEO to see if my genetic test results are in, but no dice. Rebecca's heartbeat is fine, my pee test is fine. Apparently it is quite normal for babies to be lethargic on some days and hyper on others (good, because I was beginning to be concerned).
My rate of weight gain over the last few months has been normal (1-2lbs./week) but... it would seem at this point that I have put on about 39lbs. since the start of the pregnancy. This is not good. My doctor originally anticipated that I would put on about 40 lbs over the course of my entire pregnancy. There are still three months to go boys and girls, and I won't be getting smaller. Obviously, there is some variation between individuals but... no more fruit juice or ice cream. My GP will now be monitoring my weight a little more closely. I could potentially gain another 12 or 14 lbs (and please note, Thanksgiving and Christmas, New Year's and my birthday are still on the way). I fully admit that I have been indulgent on occasion. Overly so? I didn't think so. I still get in a half hour of walking per day, plus lane swimming and prenatal aquafitness. I was probably the worst about indulging at the beginning of the pregnancy when I was mega hungry. But you can't go back - you can only go forward. The worst part is, Greg just bought me some truly excellent creme caramel vanilla ice cream. He said he is going to give it away now. :( I suppose it's for the best. I don't want a behemoth baby!
On an unamusing side note, the dry skin on my belly that I have been religiously moisturizing about five times a day - well, it's not dry skin, it's either a fungal infection or a yeast infection which developed as a result of a nasty, humid, hot summer and changes in my skin chemistry. I don't think my skin has ever previously harboured conditions friendly to living things, but there you have it. My moisturizing has only been encouraging it to spread. I have never had any infection of this type before, so I didn't know any better. I based my actions on my extensive experience with eczema, which was not that relevant (as it turns out). So all this pain has been for nothing. I now have a custom Rx cream and hopefully, it will do the trick and I can prevent future suffering. As for the weather - I can only pray that these abnormal temperatures go away soon.
After my checkup, I went for blood testing (hemoglobin and glucose tolerance). For the glucose tolerance test, I was given a bottle of something that is nearly indistinguishable from Orange Crush. I had to drink the contents in the space of 5 to 10 minutes (not too hard), and then remain immobile for an hour. At the end of the hour, they took my blood. Why didn't they take my blood prior to consuming the beverage too, to establish a baseline? I suppose this is just a gross measurement where they check to see if my blood glucose returns to a normal range.
My next appointment is in 2.5 weeks. I am drawing close to the time when I will switch over to my obstetrician.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Too posh to push

I recently heard this expression and it struck me as funny. It is applied to those women (most often celebrities) who elect to have a Caeserean for non-medical reasons (i.e. to avoid the labour of labour). I guess the fact that's it's major surgery is not a concern.

Prenatal Aquafit

Last night I had my first class of prenatal aquafit. I really enjoyed it and I recommend it to those who become pregnant. In a way, it was more of a return to my former fitness routine than the lane swimming has been. In aquafit, I take punching and kicking instructions from someone and follow them, and classes occur at a set time. :) Almost like TKD, except that these girls are big slackers. At any rate - it was strange and amusing to see so many pregos all in one spot. I am certain it was the largest assembly of pregnant women I have seen in my lifetime. And of course, the women were in bathing suits, so it was a panoramic of the stages of pregnancy (and the shapes of pregnancy). Mind you, it also hammered home how much pregnancy varies between individuals. One woman was only a few weeks behind me (in terms of due date), but didn't even look pregnant at all. Where is she hiding her baby? I would say that most women there were in an earlier stage of pregnancy (some were maybe only a month along) than I am - but there were certainly a few other ladies of comparable size to myself. I had high hopes of making prego friends - but it seems that a lot of the girls came with a pre-established prego companion. That's o.k., not all of them did. Obviously, the time to make friends is prior to the class, because we don't get a break at any point in the 50 minutes. It was a lot of fun - not overly challenging, and I think it will be great for my arms. The instructor must be barely 17 and is very chipper. She demonstrates everything on the side of the pool, and then we struggle to copy her at even a quarter of her speed. The class is just packed - there must be 25 women there. At one point we got to use foam dumbells - it takes more strength than I thought to work with those under the water, because they are so small and buoyant. Generally, the instructor gives us options, so depending on size and comfort, we can perform variations on an exercise.
The bottom line is - if you are pregnant, give it a try. The cost of taking these classes through the City recreation programme is really pretty decent, and certainly, the motivation to exercise in the tail end of pregnancy is going to be low without a break from gravity.
I have almost reached the third trimester (two weeks to go)!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Belly watching and leg cramps

Once again my body has woken me due to pregnancy. This time with middle of the night leg cramps. This is the second time I have had the pleasure of waking up screaming due to the cramping. Poor Greg - I hope I don't give him a heart attack. At any rate, due to many years of martial arts over-exertions and the like, I am quite accustomed to handling this type of problem. The trick is to flex the leg (in particular the calf muscle) and hold it. It is also extremely helpful to bend the foot back from the ball of the foot until your heel is "in the lead" so to speak. I used to be able to do this myself, but now, the belly gets in the way so Greg has to assist me. This technique corrects the problem almost immediately. In this case, I released the flex too soon and the cramp came back, including those little muscle behind the knee. Unfortunately, while the cramp may be gone, the leg will stay sore for the next few days and make the walk to work a little less pleasant. According to my sources, calcium is a temporary solution (oops - it was my usual one), which may aggravate the problem in the long term. Suggestions for prevention included taking vitamin E supplements, using sea salt in my food, or taking a magnesium supplement. Basically, this is an electrolyte issue. For some people, the danger is confounding a leg cramp with a leg thrombus. While I don't have my genetic test results in hand, I don't think this is the case, because other telltale signs of a thrombus are completely absent.
On a sillier note, Greg and I amused ourselves last night by belly watching. During a time when Rebecca was particularly active, we just watched the bare belly. It was pretty amazing to see the surface deformations (more extensive than I would have thought for 24 weeks - but what do I know), and of course, Greg took advantage of the situation to yet again feel baby kicks.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Dental health and the Prego

One of the things that can happen during pregnancy is the engorgement of tissues such as gums and the increase in sensitivity of teeth. There is actually a name for this: "red brush syndrome". It isn't an official name of course, but now you know. I have definitely noticed a slightly higher propensity for my gums to bleed, and I have tried to be a little gentler with my oral hygiene as a result. So, it was with some trepidation that I went off to the dentist this morning for my annual checkup. As per usual for me, everything in my mouth was "perfect" (that's a quote from my dentist btw), but I will say that I felt a little tender afterwards. On a positive note, I was able to ask the hygienist some questions and she was able to dispel some "old wives tales" (yet another quote), and provide some information. For Rebecca, I wanted to know when children are first supposed to visit the dentist. Apparently - age three. Prior to that time, they are supposed to use special baby toothpaste and baby tootbrushes. They are NOT supposed to use toothpaste which contains fluoride, because the concentration is too high (and ixnay on the whitening agents of course). This information is actually on the tube in very fine print (in fact, I think it says not to use it if you are under 12). At any rate, this prompted me to ask about fluoridation in our water - and I was told this was not a concern. They actually gave me a toothbrush for Rebecca when I was leaving - and it's pretty adorable. For myself, I wanted to know about the dental problems that can arise during pregnancy. The wife of one of my grad school friends had tremendous cavity problems during pregnancy despite a lack of previous troubles. I had also heard about people just plain losing molars (dissolving???) during pregnancy. The hygienist informed me that there are a lot of these types of rumours that go around. Damage to teeth can occur secondary to morning sickness due to repeated exposure to stomach acids (the same for gagging). This seemed fairly logical - when I took pathological chemistry, this was certainly cited as a frequent problem in cases of bulemia. Also, those experiencing morning sickness often consume unusually large amounts of gingerale (added sugar) or have trouble effectively cleaning teeth near the back of their mouths due to the gag reflex. And of course, there is an increased requirement for calcium during pregnancy which should not be ignored. She also mentioned that with the fatigue and the freaky sleep schedule, sometimes women would miss out on brushing their teeth, which doesn't help the situation. Apart from that, I did discuss the increased bleeding with her and she told me that the experience is very common. In fact, this was the thing that made her suspect she was pregnant! As a hygienist, she naturally flosses like a masochist, and has numbed her gums to pain and bleeding. One day, she noticed bleeding when she flossed - and since it was so unsual for her, it made her wonder if she was pregnant.
The bottom line is - for pregnant women, it's a catch-22. If you are too gentle or avoid taking the necessary measures due to your increased sensitivity or bleeding, you actually make the situation worse. Therefore - just suck it up (this seems to be a theme with pregnancy). Eventually the baby will arrive, and some of these issues will disappear.

Monday, September 12, 2005


After making my early morning blog posts, I returned to bed. Rebecca seemed to still be kicking hard, so on a whim, I put Greg's hand on the belly hoping that he would finally be able to feel something. And he did! He felt three strong kicks without any prompting from me. He identified the movements before I could even come out with a "Did you feel that?". It was a very nice moment for us, and extra special for Greg. Seeing the ultrasounds was amazing, but feeling the baby move is a lot more intimate (even at 5 something in the morning).
Pre-pregnancy face. Please note obvious presence of bones in face and the ability to wear rings on fingers. Crazy demeanor is bonus.
Second trimester pudgey face

It's 5 in the morning

At 4:30 am most days, I am up and taking the habitual prego pee break. There is no sleeping through the night anymore. That's o.k., they say it helps prepare you for dealing with the baby (who will also not sleep through the night).
I may have mentioned previously that being pregnant has meant (in part) for me, a lot of congestion paired with the inability to take sinus tylenol. So, at 4:30am, wishing to return to bed, I find that I am stuffy. My attempts to remedy the situation via the simple act of nose blowing provoked yet another nosebleed (this has happened recently). Apparently, "High levels of reproductive hormones circulating in your body increase blood flow to the delicate mucus membranes of the nose and mouth. This can bring easy bleeding when you stress these areas — by brushing your teeth too vigorously or by blowing your nose too hard". "Too hard" is a little sujective to me, but it's pointless to argue these points with a cold face cloth blocking off the very air passages I was trying to fix. Anyhow, Rebecca is kicking me and I am hoping that yummy iron smell/taste is going to go away soon. Seemed like a good time to do something semi-productive, so here I am.

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

This is taking forever

Tragically, I am fully cognizant of the fact that I have 3 months and several weeks left (presuming prompt baby arrival).
My trip to CHEO was fine. I spoke to the very friendly genetic counsellor for about an hour and ultimately the testing decision was left up to me. I opted to be tested because ignorance doesn't afford me any peace of mind, and there seemed to be no great disadvantage to knowing the truth of the matter (and some disadvantages to not taking this opportunity). Feeling that I had taken action was the most soothing thing possible. Now I wait a few weeks for my results. If I test positive I know exactly what steps I can take - and if not, well... all the better!
When they take your blood at CHEO, you get special bandaids. Mine was Tigger - thank god. I shudder to think of some of the alternatives (Eyeore! blech!).
I continue to have squashed organ pains (I also read somewhere that very active babies can actually bruise maternal tissues - but who knows the truth of these matters) and back pain. Greg and I went to see "the Constant Gardener" last night and I squirmed in my seat the whole time. It comes and goes. How will I endure this for the rest of the year? I guess I will just suck it up. I am having more difficulties sleeping at night due to back pains, but generally I catch up by having early evening naplets. Rebecca continues to be very rambunctious- I am beginning to feel her move at higher locations. It's a little disconcerting and I have visions of her gnawing on my ribs, but most of the time she stays down where she is supposed to.
I read an interesting article on fetal psychology today:
Rolling into January!

Friday, September 2, 2005

The special testing saga

So, I discovered that there is a genetic mutation that runs in my maternal line. This is a single point mutation in a gene encoding a blood clotting protein known as Factor V (most of the clotting cascade are named in this fashion, using roman numerals). The mutation results in an aberrant form of the protein - called Factor V Leiden. This condition is autosomal dominant - to put it simply, a normal gene copy will not cancel out the bad gene. The mutant protein is harder for the body to deactivate - therefore - clotting can continue when it's not supposed to. The resulting condition is known as thrombophilia, and can be exacerbated in a person with 2 mutant genes, or mutations in other important clotting genes (such as the gene encoding prothrombin). As it happens, even if you are heterozygous for the mutation (have one copy of the mutant gene), your risks of thromboembollism are increased over the general population, and major risk factors are oral contraceptive use, surgery and pregnancy! In fact, in means your pregnancy moves from the "low risk" category to the "high risk" category. Anyhow, this condition occurs in 5% of the caucasian population in north america (and is almost non-existant in the non-caucasian population).
All this to say that I'm going to CHEO on Tuesday to have a blood test done and to meet with a genetic counsellor. Even in the worst case scenario - where I have the mutation, it is quite treatable - even during pregnancy with anticoagulants (heparin) or baby aspirin. The important thing is to know - because then, the necessary precautions (if required) can be taken to protect both Rebecca and myself. Right now, my chances of being positive are at approx. 25%.
I had to fill in a ten page family history questionnaire and fax it over to CHEO genetics labs today. It demanded a lot of detail, and I'm not sure how helpful it will be, but it allows them to build a genetic family tree for me.
Anyhow, this whole process this week (getting in touch with doctors, getting requisition, back and forth communications with CHEO, contemplating possible worst case scenarios, and assembling familial data) has been a little stressful but... I will wait and see what I find out, and work from there.
Other than that, the baby is fine, still kicking. Her favourite time of day is 10pm (for some odd reason).

Monday, August 29, 2005

Moisturizing the belly

I have always been plagued with extremely dry skin. I have had countless cortisone Rx and many an incidence of cracked and bleeding flesh (especially during the dry winters). I have one finger which was a mess last year, all the way up to the fingertip. Even though it has healed, I can't bear to use it to touch anything remotely hot or cold (and I mean temperatures that are quite normally tolerated by my other normal fingers). It has been this way all my life and it sucks, but I have become accustomed to it and I have accepted it. It is just part of my life, like carrying around my epipen. At any rate, I go to great lengths to moisturize my skin to prevent real disasters. Basically, I manage to keep it at bay most of the time. But now, I am now the unhappy owner of large sections of painfully thin and dry belly skin over my ribs. If you press on normal belly skin with your finger, it follows the pressure. If you press on stretched thin belly skin with you finger, it follows the pressure, but, it is less elastic, and makes horizontal puckering lines. It looks like the skin I have where I've recovered from long-term patches of eczema - it has line that don't otherwise appear. At any rate, it is easy enough to identify the dry spots, because the skin is a different colour - an irritated shade. Also, it feels unnaturally smooth (but not soft). I am now moisturizing my belly twice a day. Today at work, my skin is making me so uncomfortable that I have been surreptitiously apply intense hand cream to my belly. Needless to say, I have tried most moisturizers on the market. I have multiple varieties at home - but... I don't feel like I'm making headway. Have to do some research and determine whether I can ameliorate things...

Friday, August 26, 2005

Fifth month almost complete - New pains!

It is reassuring that whatever new pain I encounter, somewhere out there, there is a pregnant woman who has gone through it and made a post to a message board.
My new pain is pain in the symphysis bone (which I might have mentioned in an earlier post - this bone is used in measuring the length of the uterus). Anyhow, it is damn painful at times and makes even walking uncomfortable at times.
Anyhow, this is from a message board I found (which in turn was taken from somewhere else):
"*Is pubic bone pain normal in pregnancy? From the "Terminal Miseries of Pregnancy," this sounds like something called Symphysis Pubis Diastasis. Now before this nasty-sounding ailment makes you want to set up novenas, know that it's harmless and quite normal. Here's the deal: The pelvis is a ring structure. Progesterone, a hormone made in great quantities in pregnancy has many properties besides thickening the lining of the uterus for implantation. It also relaxes smooth muscle, which helps keep the uterus quiet (non-contracting) as the baby grows. A side effect of this is constipation, because it also relaxes the smooth muscle in the intestinal tract. Progesterone also relaxes the ligaments between joints. In it's wisdom, the human body seeks to make the passageway (the pelvis) a larger space for the passenger (the baby). The middle of the pubic bone is actually a joint where the left and right pubic bones join together. When this loosens up, this in effect makes the diameter of the pelvis a larger space for the baby to negotiate during labor. So far so good. But unfortunately, since the pelvis is a ring, if it opens here, it must pinch there. The sacroiliac joints in your lower back to either side of the midline can hurt when this pubic bone separation happens. Or, alternately, you can just hurt at the pubic joint (the "pubic symphysis"). Diastasis is a word meaning "separation," so pubic symphysis diastasis is the normal effect of progesterone and other unknown forces that open up the pelvic ring a little bit for labor. *So Basically, your pubic bone along with ligaments and such that are joined to the pubic area are spreading in preparation for birth. I have found sitting in a bathtub of hot-warm water for a little while will help to sooth this pain. Hope I helped..."
Needless to say there were countless other posts on the same subject.
The bottom line for most things I am experiencing is: It sucks but it's normal.
And let me say this - the further I get into this pregnancy the more difficulty I have going through the simple steps of my normal OBS appointments. For example, it is getting harder to take off my shoes before I get weighed - I can't just lean forward and do it easily anymore - I have to bring the foot to me. Even worse, when it comes to collecting the urine sample, you are not supposed to collect anything for the first few seconds - all fine and good, but I can't see where the pee is anymore (nothing but belly) -to say nothing of the fact that with the anatomical modifications and rearrangements of pregnancy, peeing in a straight line (so to speak) is basically impossible. Hilarity ensues.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Week 21 - Sneezing hurts

Now that everything is squooshed together up top, sneezing can be really painful.

Meet and greet for shared care

Today I got to meet the obstetrician who will be taking over my care at the very tail end of my pregnancy and who has about a 90% chance of delivering my baby. He is a very personable and friendly gentleman who has rights at the Civic. What was especially nice was that Greg came with me to the appointment. Greg had booked this week off, and drove me to my appointment. He was going to just sit in the waiting room, but the nurses suggested that he could join me. This gave him the opportunity to meet the OB and to ask questions, but most importantly, Greg finally got the chance to hear the baby's heartbeat. While the heartbeat was measured in my ultrasound, we didn't get to actually hear it. My OB has a sono with a speaker (my GP has one with a headset) - and it was great to be able to share that experience with Greg. I always feel positive and happy after my baby appointments - it's always good news and generally exciting.
I did ask my OB whether he had a magic cure for my right rib pains. I don't get back pain or rib pain on the left side - ever - and this seemed odd to me. Apparently it is quite common. He said that the soft tissue pressure on that side tends to results in more pain (with the liver shoved around in there, I guess it's not surprising). So - it isn't really my ribs that are bothering me. As it turns out, the cure is to have the baby. Otherwise, I can take some tylenol. The OB noted that I was a bit bloated - but with all the edema, I'm not too shocked.
I managed to get some fall shoes at Payless. I went a half size up and wide, and it seemed sufficient. The skin over my ribs is so taut right now - it has a different texture than my skin elsewhere. It is also quite dry, and often itchy. So now I make a habit of moisturizing my belly on a regular basis. It provides some measure of relief.

Friday, August 19, 2005

If the shoe fits...

Today promised to be a little chilly, so I decided that I would wear my fall shoes.
I did manage to put them on my feet, however, they were so tight, that after wearing them for about 5 seconds, I realized that I would not be able to comfortably walk in them.
I had thought the swelling in my feet had decreased with the mercury, but, maybe I just became accustomed to it.
Anyhow, that means none of my fall shoes fit me anymore.
I am not totally shocked because a pregnant friend had warned me that this could occur (especially if you hit the fall/winter months nearer the end of you pregnancy). Apparently, your pregnant shoe size may be an entire size different. I think in my case, I've probably gone up a half size (so far?).
I have not tried my sneakers on yet. I have a bad feeling that they will be no better. However, even if they were the only pair of shoes I could wear in the fall, it would not be the best solution (especially for dresses, and other work clothing).
I am not in a panic about the wedding Greg and I are attending on the 27th, because I have plenty of formal sandals that will do the trick (sandals, by virtue of their design, are more forgiving on the swollen prego foot, and are often adjustable).
So here's the problem, I now have to find a pair of fall shoes that fit me, are comfy, are suitable for wearing to work, are suitable for walking to work, and have some give. For all I know, my feet could get bigger - so I will hold out in sandals for as long as possible. No matter what, I will not sink to wearing socks with sandals - there is a level of dignity that even my swollen feet deserve.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Dizziness, itchy belly, and hubby behaviour

It seems I may have neglected to mention that I have days where my belly is really itchy. Apparently this is the result of stretching skin. I think of all the side effects of pregnancy, this one is the most innocuous. I should add at this point that anything belly-related is a source of happiness for my husband. He is quite enamoured of the prego belly and interacting with it has become a part of his daily routine. I hope that all of my friends that become pregnant have husbands who react the way mine has to my pregnancy. His attention and enthusiasm are really gratifying (and of course he is supportive etc.). I can honestly say that he is just as excited as I am (sometimes even more than I am, but I think that's mainly because my feelings can be tempered by various and sundry pregnancy discomforts). And for those women who find it a little hard to adjust to a completely new body shape (and believe me, this is not just a matter of vanity, but a strange wondering of whether aliens have snatched the body you've grown accustomed to over so many years - it really does feel like being in a body not your own sometimes), it is very nice to have someone who vehemently appreciates the new contours. He has decided that pregnancy and the pregnant body are the most beautiful things on earth, and far be it from me to dissuade him (I don't think anyone could).
That being said, I was a little distressed yesterday night and this morning to be suffering from dizziness. Yesterday, Rebecca was very lethargic. It was such a contrast to her behaviour of the past two weeks that I actually began to worry that something was wrong with her. I find the prospect of losing her to be more upsetting now than during the first trimester when it was arguably a greater possibility. The difference now is that I've felt her move and I've really seen her. It makes a huge difference to the way I think about her. I realized this morning that no matter what happens, the baby will never be "safe", even if she lives to be 100, she can just be more safe or less safe, and I'll have to accept it.But back to the dizziness - my solution (as usual) was to hunt for information, then decide what to do. Fortunately, this appears to be pretty normal and is most likely a sign of low blood pressure (temporary). So Mom, you can stop worrying (for now) about me getting high blood pressure. I looked at many websites and books and this is a cut and past of one of those (except that I corrected some glaring spelling mistakes - I know the punctuation could also use some work, but I was feeling too lazy to fix it):
"Dizziness in the second trimester is normal! Many women experience a drop in blood pressure as the body tries to adjust to an increase in blood volume. The typical pattern is lower than normal blood pressure in the second trimester followed by a slow rise in the third trimester which we hope doesn't go up much above your non-pregnant blood pressure!
If you are feeling dizzy from low blood pressure, try to stay cool (I always got dizzy in the shower!), lie down, and drink some water. You may also be dizzy from low blood sugar because the baby goes through several growth spurts in the second trimester which can really make mom hungry! If you think this is why you are dizzy, drink juice or something which will give you quick sugar, then eat some protein to keep your blood sugar level up long-term. If you are dizzy a lot, have other symptoms (such as blurry vision or headache), or faint, please call your practitioner! "
So I am reassured and I will take the necessary steps to alleviate my discomfort.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


The combination of hot weather and pregnancy-attributable edema has given me sausage toes and has made my ankles disappear into my legs somewhere. Do not understand from this comment that my girth is such that my ankles are no longer visible! (that comes later). I am no longer wearing my wedding band for fear that I will have to have it cut off my swollen fingers. It has taken a week and a half for the ring finger to return to normal width in the area of the ring. I could have had the ring resized, but since this swelling is temporary, I thought it best not to. I am considering wearing it on a chain, but I haven't found a chain that really goes well with the chunkiness of the band itself.
Apart from that, the baby is very active and almost seems afraid that I will forget her existence. Not an hour goes by (when I am conscious) that the baby doesn't jump around to get my attention. I read that the baby in this stage sleeps as much as a newborn does. Is this a warning of things to come?! My Mom said I didn't sleep through the night until I was 4 years old. Uh oh.
At this point, everyone who sees me can deduce that I am pregnant. Even the lovely gentleman who came to set up my new office chair at work extended his congratulations. Last week, people started to suspect, but weren't sure enough to actually ask me about it. Now, the cat is really out of the bag.
Greg and I are now registered in a prenatal course. We are doing a compressed version consisting of two very long Saturdays in October. I am supposed to bring a stuffed animal in order to practice baby holds. I am looking forward to the classes, but everything seems so far in the future.

Friday, August 5, 2005

Ultrasound! It's a ...

This morning was the big ultrasound I've been waiting for. The ultrasound where Smudge actually looks like a baby and we can find out the gender of the baby.
The morning began with the tedious process of drinking 1L of water in the space of about 15 minutes. Greg and Reuben seemed to believe this was an easy feat - and the truth is yes, drinking 1L of water when you're thirsty or when you've been exercising, over the course of several hours, is very easy. However, drinking 1L of water when you are fully hydrated and not thirsty anymore, is very difficult. The first 750ml is o.k., but the last 250ml is torture. I have never felt so much like throwing up water in my life.
Anyhow, I was more than sufficiently bloated for my appointment and naturally, while I was early, they took me late. In some ways, it was easier than the first time, because they didn't have to press as hard on me with the ultrasound device in order to get the picture they wanted. Once I'm past 28 weeks, I will only have to drink a half litre of water. Of course, by then, the pressure on my bladder will make the experience just as difficult as drinking 1L now.
Greg and Elizabeth came with me into the appointment. I was very excited for Greg to see the baby, and Elizabeth too - especially since the next time she sees me the baby will be a few months old. The baby's heartbeat was 138bpm this time (last time was 135bpm). The ultrasound technician was extremely friendly at took pains to describe everything she was doing and everything we were seeing. The most important thing is that the baby appears to be perfectly healthy.
We got to see: the face, the arms, the legs, the femur, the kidneys, the intestines, the brain, the cerebellum, the feet, the spine and the heart. We could actually clearly see the four chambers of the heart and we could see the beating of the heart. That was not something I was expecting and it was very exciting for me (especially having spent time at the heart institute).
The baby was extremely active during the ultrasound session, moving legs and arms around and turning itself over. My worries that Smudge would be pointed in the wrong direction and asleep were obviously ill-founded. The problem was getting Smudge to stay put! I was not surprised because Smudge was super active all this week.
As for the gender, the baby was quite accomodating and had legs spread open. The technician was looking at the baby from the bottom up, and there was no evidence of male equipment - so, the pronouncement is that the baby is a girl!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


I had another little checkup with my GP today. For the curious - my blood pressure, weight and urine test were excellent. My doctor gave me the contact information for the obstetrician who will be looking after me from about week 32 onwards. He likes to meet and get to know his patients at around 20 weeks into the pregnancy so that they know what to expect. Anyhow, that means I will be meeting with him in the near future. Hopefully I can book the appointment to coincide with my vacation, but that's probably too optimistic. At any rate, I received the results of my blood tests. I have all the necessary immunities, none of the diseases and as a bonus, it turns out that I have immunity to Fifth Disease/Slapcheek disease. I had never heard of it in my life. Apparently, it is a fairly common childhood disease - well, not really a disease, but an illness caused by a parvovirus. In the early stages, it creates a characteristic rash on the face (hence the colourful name). About 50% of adults are immune. The reason it is good news that I am immune is because if I were to catch this disease while pregnant, it could potentially harm the baby.
My doctor measured my belly for the first time today. The measurement is taken from the symphysis pubis to the top of the uterus (which is palpable and currently located in the vicinity of my belly button). For some strange reason, the measurement in centimetres directly corresponds to the number of weeks you are into the pregnancy. My measurement was 17cm and I am 17 weeks and a few days into the pregnancy.
We had another stab at listening to the baby's heart. Unlike the last attempt, my GP was able to find the heartbeat in about 5 seconds. It was also possible to hear the baby move - which was kind of freaky. I can't wait until next week's ultrasound. I am very excited (except when it comes to drinking all that water - that just makes me unhappy).
I have another appointment with my GP in about 1 month's time. I can only imagine what things will be like by the end of August.

Friday, July 22, 2005

It isn't just my imagination...

There is actually a baby in there somewhere. For a few weeks, there have been moments where I suspected it was moving, but last night, the baby moved in a way that could not possibly be mistaken for anything else. It was a kind of brief fluttery motion like someone flapping their hand - but in the water. I don't know if that really describes it properly. That feeling, plus the general location of it, made me certain. The timing for this experience is also within what could normally be expected for someone at my stage in pregnancy. As usual, Greg is very excited. Unfortunately, at this stage, the motions of the baby are something that only I can experience. They aren't strong enough for him to feel - which makes me feel a little bad. I'd like to share it with him. Oh well - there should be more than enough fun for him at the next ultrasound.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Day 101: Update

According to my pregnancy journal , baby Smudge is at day 101. Days remaining (if the baby is delivered on the due date) are about 165. Sometimes I feel like I am never going to reach the end. Nine months is a long time.
I am almost completely reliant on maternity wear at this point. The only non-maternity clothing I can get away with is anything large and bulky or generously adjustable (sweatshirts, Thai pants).
I continue to experience discomfort in the form of sore back and ribs. It isn't painful - it's a dull ache, but it's difficult to ignore.
There is definitely some belly going on and it sits there - solid. It touches my legs when I bend forward. I am finding the heat harder to bear (especially with all this humidity), but Greg got an A/C unit for our bedroom, so that makes a world of difference.
I went grocery shopping yesterday night (just wait - this will eventually relate to pregnancy). The cart I was using was a bit stiff - I guess the wheels could have used some lubrication. Anyway, turning the cart was incredibly difficult. I never realized it used those precious stomach area muscles that are now unreliable for me. I found it easier to just kick the wheel until I got it pointing the right way than to manoeuver the cart with just my arms. I am never grocery shopping without Greg again.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Tailbone ow ow ow

I have discovered another second trimester discomfort - tailbone pain! Again, my internet research has made it clear that this is quite common for women at my stage in pregnancy. Let me tell you, it is really uncomfortable for someone who spends the work day on her butt. And like the rib pain, there seems to be little in the way of relief. At least it is a come and go type of pain. Otherwise, I feel wonderful.

Thursday, July 7, 2005

Rib cage tenderness

So, it's 3am and after yet another late night trip to the washroom, I can't get back to sleep. Now that I'm in the second trimester, I am supposed to sleep on my side with a pillow between my knees. That's all well and good except that whatever my best intentions, I sometimes wake up on my back anyway. This is the way I was positioned when I woke up Tuesday morning. When the alarm clock went off, I sprung up out of bed (no doubt too quick a transition from a relaxed state), and I messed up my upper back. I did not go in to work that day. I had pain all along and between my shoulder blades and in all the muscles from the base of the head to the middle of the back. Not fun. I also had sore muscles all along the length of my right arm and basically had limited use of it from the pain. At any rate, Greg had to lift me out of bed in the morning. My GP told me I should take medication and apply alternating heat and cold. She actually allowed me to have regular strength advil, which made all the difference in the world (for all that I am being very frugal with it). I took a hot water bottle to work today, and that helped a great deal. I typed and moused with my left hand, which wasn't as bad as I thought. But finding a comfortable position to sit and sleep is challenging. Thankfully the pain is abating but now I am having problems with tender spots on my rib cage. Apparently this is quite a common complaint of pregnancy and can occur at a wide range of times during the pregnancy. Obviously, my ribs are not hurting due to the baby kicking them (although I should be able to feel the baby move sometime this month). This soreness is most likely due to rib cage expansion. Apparently the ribs can twist and turn and sometimes they become dislodged and must be put back in place. I don't think it's that serious. But it definitely makes sleeping on my side a great deal less comfortable. Reading the online pregnancy forums is almost always reassuring. No matter what problem I encounter, there seems to be some woman out there who has experienced the exact same thing. Hooray for the internet. I know my rib cage is getting wider because the space between my ribs at the front of my body feels larger. I still think that I am getting off easy with my pregnancy suffering.

Saturday, July 2, 2005


This month will be my last month of Taekwondo. My membership runs out at the beginning of August and I don't see the point in renewing it for a single month. I will just return sometime in the new year. That being said, I am poised to replace my martial art with swimming. I got a membership to the Plant Recreation Centre which is newly renovated and is a nice facility overall. I went for my first swim just this past week. I had my maternity bathing suit, my swimming cap and my goggles... I was ready! The wonderful thing about swimming during pregnancy is that you get great exercise with minimal risk. You don't get overheated, you don't risk falling (unless you run along the side of the pool, but who does that anyway?), you don't risk overextension or other similar ligament damage, you use a large number of important muscle groups, no one expects you to look slender in your bathing suit, and it is very relaxing. I swam using a front crawl, a back stroke and the breast stroke. My arms and legs didn't really tire out during the time that I was swimming, but my lungs were a different story. I guess I need more cardio. I was really surprised by how winded I became. No doubt this will improve with time. All this to say that I highly recommend swimming to anyone who becomes pregnant. The only downside is that the chlorine is a little harsh for my dry skin and hair, but I have some antichlorine swimming shampoo and some super moisturizers and conditioning treatments, so hopefully that will compensate.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Week 12: End of first trimester

I had the last of my "long" appointments today with my GP (now OB I suppose). Same routine as usual... pee in this cup, let's take your blood pressure, and let's weigh you. All these things were normal and acceptable. The nurse tried to guess my new weight before I got on the scale and came very close. From the beginning of the pregnancy to now (the very end of the first trimester), I have gained 12 lbs. Apparently, this means I can expect to gain about 40lbs. by the end of the line, which my GP says is normal and acceptable. But it's strange to step on the scale and weigh a weight I've never weighed before. I am sitting at 161 lbs (in the morning). Apart from the usual, I had a physical. All is shipshape. I learned that my former surgery will not interfere with anything and what's more, pregnancy is likely to make future similar operations less probable. So hooray for that. Finally, I got a first chance to listen to the baby's heartbeat with a doppler device. It took her a while to get a good angle, but eventually she succeeded. Apparently, the placenta is often on the anterior wall of the uterus, and it can muffle the sound of the baby's heart. I knew it was a fast heartbeat, but it is one thing to be told its speed, and it is another thing entirely to actually hear it beating. There is always some part of the doppler machine sound that sounds like the ocean (a little), and over that, this rapid boom, boom, boom sound, with the slower boom (mine) in the background. I wish Greg could have been there, but he attended one of the first meetings and we decided that the next one he would take time off work to go to would be the next ultrasound. The next ultrasound is at 18 weeks and takes place on Friday, August 5th. I am already taking that week off in anticipation of Elizabeth being home from Taiwan for a visit, so maybe Greg won't be the only person to come see an ultrasound that actually looks like a baby and not a smudge. If the baby is turned in the right direction, it will be possible to determine the gender.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Prune juice

One of the many (and more common) problems in pregnancy is constipation. It's a nasty topic, I know. The body slows down the entire digestive system to suck as many nutrients as possible out of the food you are consuming. Also, the expanding uterus presses on the GI tract (which is behind it), and the bladder (which is in front of it). All this to say, I asked Greg to buy me some prune juice on the weekend because (without going into detail), I am suffering.
The plan was to have a small glass with my breakfast this morning. I was pleased to see that Greg had not opted for generic prune juice, but had bought Welch's. They make such good grape juice, so their other juice must be good too! I also noticed that he had bought unsweetened prune juice. Hmmm... well, it's not as though I need extra sugar in my diet right now. I poured some into a glass. It was opaque and brown. It looked like sewage. It didn't smell particularly bad though. I took a swig.
Prune juice is without a doubt the most vile liquid known to mankind.
The only reason I was able to drink even a few ounces, was because I cut it with about 12 parts gingerale. At that point, it basically tasted like gingerale.
Obviously, I am going to have to find a palatable fruit juice to mix it with, or this solution is just another problem.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Sore back

I am not a person who normally gets a sore back. I do get a sore neck and shoulders from time to time, but the sore back was for other people. Not anymore. They say that the movement of bones and stretching of ligaments contributes to this condition. It makes sense to me that with all sorts of stuff shifting around in the middle of my body, the middle of my back would get sore. And it does. For two solid days I felt as though I could not assume any position without being uncomfortable. The solution was mostly massaging the area (or having Greg do the same). Again, I am missing advil. The parts of my body that feel and look "normal" to me are my arms and legs. Everything else is all messed up - as if I am a Mrs. Potato head toy, where someone has rearranged the parts.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

I want my drugs back

There are restrictions on the life of the pregnant woman. Of course, it seems that as soon as you are prohibited from certain items, you happen to need them more. There are three particular characteristics of being pregnant that are harder to deal with as a result:

1 - Sinus headaches and congestion (these are increased in pregnancy and I could go into all the mucous membrane details but I won't).
2 - Headaches as a result of hormonal flux (these are headaches in the head, unlike sinus headaches which are behind the eyes).
3 - Molten bitchiness (like lava! - of course, this doesn't happen too often, but I must admit that during last week's heat wave, I may have skirted the edges of unpleasantville).

Therefore, I bring you my list of the top ten things I can't have and wish I could:

1 - Sinus Tylenol!!! (see above - self-administered shiatsu headache massage doesn't always cut it).

2 - Advil!!! (because sometimes you need to break the cycle of pain with chemicals - and it doubles as a good headache killer).

3 - Caffeine! (Now that I'm extra tired all the time, it is very difficult between 2:30 and 3pm in the day, no matter how many hours of sleep I've been having all week, to stay conscious. I can't help but think that a big tea would help - not bloody tisane).

4 - Sushi (ah... in the summer it seems an extra appealing dinner option).

5 - Brie cheese (it's everywhere now that I can't eat it!)

6 - Peanuts (an excellent protein snack with some beneficial oils, I am banned from it during pregnancy because our baby is already predisposed to being allergic and while evidence is thin, there is a chance I could encourage a food allergy broader than my own).

7 - Sleeping in (my body won't let me for a variety of reasons).

8 - Alcohol (now, I'm not a big drinker, but I do like alcoholic cider. I find it very refreshing, as is the occasional daquiri during the summer. In Vancouver I had Grower's pear cider, which I decided was the best drink on earth. Of course, in Ontario, they only import the granny smith apple cider. In B.C. they have a bajillion fruit flavours. Then at the Superstore this week, I noticed the liquor store was carrying the peach cider and one of the berry ciders. I think it would have been worse if they had the pear, but it was bad enough.)

9 - A restricted number of people who look me over (now acquaintances, friends and family make not-so-subtle visual inspections of my body. If they were subtle, I could imagine it was not happening - but they aren't subtle. They do it before they even speak to me. I feel more objectified now than I did in skimpy summerwear).

10 - Energy. (I put this one last because I am assured that it returns with the second trimester).

There are also many things I enjoy about being pregnant, and new privileges I experience. The deferential and protective treatment from people I know is certainly fun most of the time. The mostly guilt free eating experience is also enjoyable. And of course, something like this only strengthens your relationship with your husband (especially if your husband is like mine, and was very keen on pregnancy in the first place).

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Adventures in maternity clothes shopping

I am now the proud owner of some maternity clothes. This is a good thing, since as I have mentioned, my waist is disappearing, and much of my fitted clothing does not fit me. Also, we just got through the first heat wave of the summer (and, if you believe Environment Canada, this is the first of many), and I didn't have a bathing suit that was compatible with my new chest size. My first expedition was with Mom. We went to Thyme Maternity in Hull, which is conveniently located near the Star Cité movie complex. I can't remember the last time I tried on so much clothing! Of course, I am basically creating an entirely new wardrobe. I suppose I could have borrowed some maternity clothes from in-laws or friends of friends, but to be honest, none of them are really my size, and I kind of wanted to have my own new clothes in styles I prefer. Buying a bigger size might also have worked for now, but it seemed more logical to me to get outfits which will last throughout most of my pregnancy (weather permitting). There seems to be a trend in some maternity clothes lately to show off the belly - this is not my style, and happily there was enough diversity in the clothing to accodmodate my desire for comfortable, work-acceptable summer clothes. I haven't really delved into fall-appropriate clothes yet, since I figure I have plenty of time. Mostly, I bought skirts and tops to match. I was impressed by the structural ingenuity of maternity clothes. For the most part, they look like normal clothing, but they are built to accomodate the distending body. The prices were fairly reasonable at Thyme, and the sales clerks were very helpful. I did reach a point where I was incredibly frustrated though... my problem is really chest size. Many maternity tops (and this makes no sense to me), are designed with this line that crosses under the bust. I have always avoided this type of shirt in the past, because in order for that line to fall where it should, I have to buy the extra large shirt, which has such a gaping neckline that virtually my entire chest is exposed. I was also disappointed by the number of shirts with spaghetti straps. Even a small woman is going to gain a few cup sizes. Who are these shirts for? Every book I've read underlines the importance of wearing a bra during pregnancy. But I digress... It was frustrating in the way that it is always frustrating to try on something you really like, only to discover that you are too big to wear it, and that the larger sizes are too large and don't hang properly. However, overall, the shopping was successful. But I still lacked a bathing suit and a pair of jeans! They did not seem to have more than two styles of bathing suit at Thym. Solution: Montreal! In Montreal, I went to Bloom Maternity - which is a lovely store in Westmount. The owner was there, and she was the most knowledgeable and helpful lady ever. I must have tried on five different bathing suits before finally settling on a two-piece tankini. No maternity bathing suits seem to have underwire. Why??? Apparently, women find it uncomfortable. I have never found it to be uncomfortable, even in a bathing suit. But I suppose it would make the top less accomodating to expansion. The tankini top did have wiring on the sides, which helps, and was adjustable in so many ways that I felt comfortable buying it. They even gave me the belly thing to try on. The belly thing is a belly-shaped pillow that you put over your own belly. This particular one added 6 months. I was kind of creepy, and I made the unhappy realization that at the end of the road, breasts and tummy might actually meet. I also acquired maternity jeans - very similar to normal jeans, but with elastic paneling. I have really missed being able to wear my jeans, so this makes me happy.