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.