Nominated: Best Pregnancy Blog in the MADs

A few days ago there was much excitement on twitter as the organisers of the MAD (Mum and Dad) blogger awards started to announce blogs which have so far been nominated in each category. As I saw the tweet for the Best Pregnancy Blog nominations come up on my feed, I thought I’d take a look, not because I thought my little blog would be on it, but because I’ve come across a few other pregnant bloggers and was curious to see if they were on there. Although I had been aware of the awards, I’m not really into asking for nominations, and I know a lot of my readers (who aren’t that numerous anyway compared to some blogs) aren’t bloggers themselves so probably wouldn’t be aware of the MADs. But to my astonishment my URL was listed! Someone must have liked my weekly bump diary enough to nominate me 🙂

In my very first blog post I talked about the reasons why I blog: primarily because I enjoy writing and wanted a place to do it regularly as well as writing one-off articles in parenting magazines published by charities (one of which I now edit), but also I like to see others read it and get something out of it – maybe it encourages them, makes them laugh (hmm maybe… if they share my slightly odd sense of humour), gives them a different perspective on something, or introduces them to something they’ve never heard of before. It is such an encouragement to know that my blog is being read and enjoyed. I often get comments from people I see face to face, saying how they liked my last post or found my post on such and such useful, and I get a few positive feedback comments on the blog, but I still think of my blog as quite small, by which I mean not very widely read. So to be nominated for an award, particularly in a category that I wrote regularly and enthusiastically on over this past year, gives me a great sense of achievement. I never set out to win anything, but it’s lovely to know that my writing is appreciated enough to be nominated.

So what happens now? Having checked out the MADs website, the nomination stage is still open until 18th February. After that the blogs with the most nominations will be shortlisted as finalists and then a winner will be voted on. Most of the voting is by bloggers, so being popular and widely read will help, but there will be one blog shortlisted in each category based on a panel of judges’ decision. I have no idea how much chance I have of getting through, but whatever happens, I’ll wear my ‘nominated’ badge with pride – look at it all colourful over there —>

Thank you to all of you who read my blog; without you it would just be me wittering on to myself!

MAD Blog Awards

Bump time lapse video

Click HERE to watch the video

I’ve been meaning to get round to this for a while, but it never quite seemed to get to the top of my list of things to do on the laptop whilst feeding – possibly because I thought cropping the pictures would require 2 hands on the track pad rather than the one that I’ve come accustomed to typing with. But in th end it turned out to be easier than I thought using just one hand.

So here is a video of my bump shots from week 17 to week 40, showing how it went from tiny to big, sped up from 23 weeks to just 7 seconds! I thought about taking a picture of me in this position holding baby after the birth, but once Joel arrived I completely forgot about this in all the busyness of having a new baby. I think it’s a pretty cool record of my pregnancy, and one day I can show it to my boys too.

Pregnancy diary: week 29 – midwife appointment and glucose tolerance test

After our lovely holiday, it’s been hard to get back into the reality of everyday life this week. I felt like I had a good rest, but I guess going back to work and having to do all the usual stuff around the flat have been difficult because I had a nice week without them. I think this is probably partly due to being pregnant, and being more tired than usual anyway. Some people talk about ‘blooming’ in these weeks (about 20-30), but I can’t really say that I feel like I’m blooming. ‘Growing’, yes, but ‘blooming’ suggests something much more positive to me. Not that I want to give the impression that it’s awful being pregnant, it’s just that I don’t think I’m enjoying it as much as some mums say they do. Now that I’m generally not feeling too sick (just in the evenings before bed when I’m really tired, and when I smell food cooking), things are a lot better than before 20 weeks. But still I get tired, I think mainly due to having a toddler to run around after, because I’m sure I feel more tired this time than last!

As I said last week, I was supposed to have a 28-week appointment with the midwife and have my glucose tolerance test last week, but this was impossible as we were a few hundred miles away! So I had these appointments a week late – not that it has to be so precise anyway. You might be wondering what a glucose tolerance test (GTT) is. In our area, all pregnant mums are offered a GTT at about 28 weeks of pregnancy. As far as I can see from some googling, it’s not the same in all parts of the country – in some areas, only ‘at-risk’ mums are tested. At risk of what though? A GTT is used to diagnose gestational diabetes, by checking how your body regulates its blood sugar (glucose) level. Gestational diabetes results when a pregnant mum’s pancreas doesn’t produce enough of the hormone insulin to properly regulate her blood sugar level, when it needs to produce extra to the normal amount once the baby is growing rapidly in the second trimester. If it is left undiagnosed or untreated, both mum and baby are more at risk of complications, a major one being that baby can grow very large and this can cause problems with a natural birth. The condition is usually treated by managing the mum’s diet (including eating less sugar), or, in some cases, insulin injections.

Even if I wasn’t offered this test routinely, I’d probably be offered it anyway, as I have a family history of diabetes. My dad has had diabetes since he was 30, and my mum had gestational diabetes. Thankfully, this is the only factor of increased likelihood of gestational diabetes that I have. Others include: a BMI of over 30; previously given birth to a large baby (9.9 lbs or more); previously had gestational diabetes; family origin with a higher prevalence of diabetes, e.g. South Asian, Middle Eastern, African-Caribbean.

This test is slightly more complicated than the other routine blood tests that I had in early pregnancy. It involved drinking 273ml (precisely!) of Lucozade, and then waiting 1 hour without eating or drinking anything (except water). After this hour, the nurse took a sample of my blood in the usual way (vein in the arm) and sent it off to be analysed. I’m pretty sure this is only the second time in my life that I’ve drunk Lucozade! The first was my GTT when pregnant with Andrew. I can’t stand sweet drinks, and it wasn’t a particularly pleasant experience having to drink it all in one go. But I managed it, and hopefully I won’t have to do it again in this pregnancy.

Wearing my new, very comfy trousers that I got for my birthday. Bump looks like it's growing more week by week now.

Conveniently, I managed to get the nurse appointment for the blood test directly before my midwife appointment. According to the NHS ‘Pregnancy’ book, my midwife should do the following at this check-up: use a tape to measure the size of my uterus; measure my blood pressure and test my urine for protein; offer more blood screening tests; offer my first anti-D treatment if my blood type is rhesus negative. As my blood type is rhesus positive, the last one wasn’t applicable, and also I don’t think I or baby are particularly at risk of other conditions or complications that would be screened for, so I wasn’t offered any more screening tests. The midwife did measure my bump – 28cm, which is bang on the average size for 29 weeks, according to the graph that’s in my notes (I love a good graph, as you’ve probably seen from previous posts). Whilst I was lying on the examination table she also used a little machine to listen to baby’s heartbeat (a probe a bit like the ultrasound scans, but sound only, not pictures), which was 150 beats per minute – that might sound fast, but it’s a good healthy speed for a baby in the womb. My blood pressure and urine were also fine.

We had a chat about various general things, like how I’m feeling and what life is like at the moment being pregnant, working and looking after a toddler. I guess it’s the midwife’s job to tell me to rest whenever I can, but still be active enough. I’d like to think I’m getting a good balance where possible! The topic of where I’d like to give birth also came up, again. She seems very keen on home births. I can understand that as my first labour, which took place in a midwfie-led birth centre rather than the main maternity hospital, was pretty fast and uncomplicated, I’m a good candidate for a home birth this time. I’m still not entirely sold on this prospect, but as I said to her, my current thinking is that I’ll plan to go into the birth centre again, but if it looks like baby is coming even faster than last time, I would probably prefer to stay at home, because I’d rather have a home birth than a ‘car birth’! She gave me a leaflet on home birth, and when I get chance, I’ll sit down and read it properly – from a quick glance I can see that it tells us the kind of things we would need to prepare. Once I’ve thought more about this properly, I’ll write a post about where I’m planning to give birth.

I think that’s covered what my antenatal care was like this week. The next time I see the midwife should be at 34 weeks, so not so much of a big gap between appointments once we’re in the third trimester. Incidentally, just something else I read in the NHS ‘Pregnancy’ book for this stage in pregnancy: it says that if I have young children already, it’s good to talk to them around now about the new baby. I think Andrew is still too young to understand what is going on. I’ve tried to explain to him that there’s a baby in my tummy, even with the 3D photos that we got from the extra scan. But even if he understands the concept, which I’m not sure that he does, I don’t think there’s much I can do to prepare him for what it’s like to live with a newborn baby. There are only 18 months between me and my brother (there’ll be 21 between Andrew and baby), and my parents said that I was too young to really understand what was going on, and I just sort of accepted my brother because I wasn’t old enough to think or do anything much different. I’m hoping this smallish gap will result in the same acceptance for Andrew.

I can’t believe that next week we’ll have reached the big 3-0! That really makes it sound like we’re on the homeward straight. Also, with only 6 weeks left at work, I’m starting to realise that our time as just the three of us is coming to an end, and I’m getting more and more excited about meeting our new addition 🙂

Pregnancy diary: week 25 – what is baby upto?

As we’re approaching the end of the second trimester (where did that trimester go?! ….the first seemed longer!), I thought I’d do a bit of research into what baby is upto at the moment in terms of growth and development at this stage of pregnancy. I say ‘research’ – this consists of me reading the NHS ‘Pregnancy’ book (for the first time in ages) and a few other pregnancy websites. I used to follow Andrew’s progress in pregnancy much more regularly, as I found it interesting to know what was going on inside me at each stage, but this time I’ve had fewer opportunities to catch up with where we’re at.

So, apparently I should really look pregnant now. Check. Apparently I may also feel hungrier…. I feel less nauseous, does that count? I can’t say that I’ve really got a sense of ‘hunger’ back. In the morning and afternoon, I do feel more like eating for the taste of the food itself rather than because I know I have to (though still no smelly cooking allowed in the flat), but the evenings are still not great. Still, I’m generally feeling much better than in early pregnancy 🙂 Both the ‘looking more pregnant’ and ‘feeling hungrier’ things are of course to do with baby starting to grow more quickly per week than in the earlier weeks which involved a lot of laying the foundations of growth. The BBC pregnancy calendar tells me to make sure I eat well and put my feet up when I can because my body is working hard. Bless it, it clearly doesn’t know I have a toddler to look after! Feet up is a thing reserved for evenings, when I just lie horizontal anyway.

Apparently baby is moving around ‘vigorously’ now. Check – definitely! That’s a good word to describe it actually. He/she also responds to touch and sound, and a loud noise close by make make him/her jump and kick. That’s definitely the case, like when my tummy was being prodded and poked in various ways for the scans I had last week, baby moved in reaction to touch, and when we’re in church, baby is always very active during and after the worship sessions (which feature drums, keyboards, guitars, and of course my singing).  Daddy and Andrew are also starting to get reactions out of baby, either intentionally in the case of Tom talking to the bump or unintentionally in the case of Andrew boofing the bump as he feeds or plays with me. It’s amazing to think that baby is starting to experience bits of family life even in the womb.

Looking bumpy! This is the last time I wore these trousers - when I took them off I discovered a rip right over my bottom! Apologies to anyone who saw me that day, whenever it happened. Nobody was brave enough to tell me though. Although they weren't particularly tight, they were wearing very thin across the bottom, and I did brush past a bike handle that day whilst locking my bike up and trying to get out of the space between my bike and the next (bike racks weren't designed for big or pregnant people!), so I think it must have torn then.

Something that I can’t say whether it’s happening from the outside is that apparently baby is swallowing small amounts of amniotic fluid and passing tiny amounts of urine back into the fluid. That doesn’t sound particularly nice, but it’s a good thing I guess to get the system used to working before it has to do it ‘for real’ once baby is out in the real world of being unattached to me through the umbilical cord. Baby may also get hiccups; I haven’t felt this yet, but I do remember Andrew getting hiccups quite a lot in the womb (and, incidentally, I know now that frequent hiccups in a newborn can be a sign of tongue-tie….) By now baby is covered in a greasy substance called vernix, which is thought to be there to protect the skin as it floats in the amniotic fluid. The skin isn’t as tough as it will be at birth as it’s still developing – this is why premature babies often look redder than full-term babies who have their natural skin pigment colour. The vernix mostly disappears before birth, but I do remember Andrew having some bits left on his back when he was born.

It may be that baby starts to follow a pattern for waking and sleeping. I haven’t noticed this yet, but then I’m not sure I will without really paying attention and making notes, because I’m so busy doing everything else that I don’t really think about when exactly I feel kicks or not. I do know that I would notice if I suddenly felt far fewer kicks over the course of a day though, and this is something I would need to contact my midwife or GP about. Apparently it’s quite common that baby sleeps more in the day when mum is up and about, and then decides to wake up and wriggle as she is slowing down and going to sleep herself. I don’t remember this being a particular problem with Andrew; I think I just slept well generally in pregnancy, until the end when I was so big and then felt him moving a lot all the time! Let’s hope this will be the case this time too 🙂

At this stage of pregnancy, it’s relatively easy to pick up baby’s heartbeat with a stethoscope or ultrasound probe. As this is my second baby, I don’t get a midwife appointment this week as I did with Andrew, so I don’t get to hear that amazing sound of the heart beating on the ultrasound machine. I’ll have to wait until 28 weeks for that pleasure. Apparently it won’t be long before Tom (or anyone else who’s invited to get that close to bump!) can possibly hear the heartbeat just by putting his ear to my tummy, but only if baby is in the right position. I don’t hold out a lot of hope for that!

With most of baby’s vital organs now developed and in place, most of the work left to do is just increasing everything in size. Baby is basically an even mini-er version of what he/she will be when born in about 15 weeks. The brain and nervous system are still getting there, however, and are developing intensely around this time. Although the brain needs to reach a certain level of development in order for baby to survive outside of the womb, it doesn’t stop developing at birth. In fact baby’s brain will continue to change as he/she experiences things in the world right throughout childhood and into adulthood. This is what happens as we learn new things – the brain makes new connections within itself, and is constantly doing this in the first years of life. Fascinating!

So as you can see, that’s a lot of stuff going on with baby right now, some of which I’m aware of from the outside by observing his/her reactions, and some of which isn’t obvious but is interesting to think about and imagine going on inside me. Next week sees us counting down to 30, in more ways than one, as I’ll be 26 weeks pregnant and celebrating my 20-something-th birthday 😉

Pregnancy diary: week 16 – it’s all about the ‘M’s – midwife & maternity clothes

The last time I saw a midwife (excluding the sonographer variety at the hospital for the scans) I was only about 7 weeks pregnant. It was a bit of a polava, because the community midwife at our surgery was off sick on the day I had booked to go, so I ended up having to see another midwife at a drop-in clinic in a local children’s centre about a week later. She was very nice, though got confused with dating the pregnancy as she didn’t seem to listen to my explanations about how I know my own body better than she did – cycles and all that. But the 13-week scan sorted out that minor blip. So this drop-in visit meant I didn’t get to meet my community midwife until 9 weeks later, at my 16-week routine appointment this week.

According to the pregnancy guide from the NHS that we were given at the start of Andrew’s pregnancy, at this appointment the midwife should: review, discuss and record the results of any screening tests I had; measure my blood pressure and test my urine for protein; give me info on the 20-week anomaly scan; let me listen to the baby’s heartbeat using an ultrasound detector. Well, she ticked all the boxes, and we did all that stuff. It was particularly lovely to hear baby’s heartbeat so clearly. When the probe was first put on my tummy all you could hear was whooshing noises, but pretty quickly she moved it to the right position to pick up a very fast little heartbeat – fast is good for such a little heart by the way! Then this was interrupted quite a few times by a crackling sound, which the midwife informed me was baby moving around. Great, I thought, we’ve got another wriggler on our hands! Andrew was exactly the same – never stayed still for scans or heartbeat monitoring, or just in general every day living in fact. This is a good thing; it’s reassuring to know he/she is healthy. It just makes me tired even thinking about what it’s going to be like with two active toddlers – fun but tiring 🙂

Anyway, it turns out I had already met my midwife before, as she was the same community midwife whom I saw when pregnant with Andrew. I thought this might be the case, but I also thought that they might swap around within their team between surgeries or change to being based at the hospital or something. But as I’d had very good antenatal care with this midwife, I was happy to see her friendly face again. (I wasn’t too impressed with her breastfeeding advice post-natally, but now I know where to go for useful advice and help, this doesn’t concern me too much.) We also talked about where I’m thinking of giving birth. I should probably write a whole post on that at some point, so I won’t go into detail here. She was good at her job in that she reminded me of the option of home birth, given how uncomplicated and fast labour was with Andrew, but respected my explanation of why it probably wasn’t for me and didn’t try to persuade me otherwise.

As the appointment drew to a close, she told me that my next routine appointment wasn’t until 28 weeks. This seems like ages away, but apparently I get fewer routine appointments as I did last time because this is my second pregnancy, and it seems like they think you’re a pro at it by now! Of course I can always ring up if I have any problems, but I imagine that time will fly by and it’ll be July before we know it.

I was thinking of taking a photo to illustrate the fact that I'm wearing maternity clothes (see below for ramblings about that), but then thought that it would be interesting to take a picture of the bump each week to see how it's changing, so I got Tom to take one focusing on the middle part of my body. As you can see there's not much of a bump at the moment, but it's more comfortable in these nice and stretchy black maternity trousers, and the grey of the maternity jumper, with room for expanding bump, matches my sea bands very nicely 😉

Apart from this midwife visit, the other event of note in my pregnancy diary this week has been the extraction of maternity clothes from storage and entry into wardrobe! My bump isn’t really that noticeable yet – maybe it is to those who know me, but to the average person on the street I probably just look like I’ve eaten a few too many chocolate bars 😉 I’ve just begun to notice that my clothes (bottoms really) are getting a little tighter, and as I’m still feeling sick (not bad going to get this far in the post without mentioning the ‘s’ word I think), it’s nice to have something a little looser and stretchier around my tummy/hips region. Plus we had Granny help on Tuesday this week, so I took advantage of 10 minutes of that time to do the removal from storage and exchange with some of the clothes from my non-maternity wardrobe.

Although this pregnancy is at a slightly earlier point in the year relative to the last one, I reckon I’ll be fine with the clothes I had before. I didn’t get that many, and managed to wear some looser fitting non-maternity clothes, mainly jumpers, cardigans and empire-line tops. I probably won’t need my coat as much this time (well, who knows with the current state of the weather, but if we actually get some semblance of summer, I shouldn’t need it for as long this time). Last time I deliberately went for layers, so I could, for example, wear a t-shirt or vest under another top or a short-sleeved dress in colder weather. This should work well this time too.

So that’s my round up of the ‘M’-related week of pregnancy that I’ve had. Just to chuck a bit of linguistics in before I leave you, did you know that the word ‘midwife’ comes from Old Engllish mid ‘with’ wife ‘woman’? Unsurprisingly this describes someone (usually another woman, though not always) who is trained to be with and help a woman in the process of labour and birth. I know that next week’s post is also going to talk about a word beginning with ‘M’, which I could have talked about this week, but I’ve already rambled on enough, so I’ll keep you guessing…. any guesses anyone?! 🙂