Monday 28 February 2005

ain't too proud to participate in a meme

Spotted on Big Jack's Blog, here's a list of ten things I've done that I suspect you haven't:

1. Spilled a hot plate of fries/chips on a blind man. (I am the world's worst waitress.)
2. Dropped an entire tray full of ketchup bottles. (See above.)
3. Met one of the dogs who played the Littlest Hobo at a mall in Brantford, Ontario in 1977. Honest, my Mom's got a picture to prove it.
4. Met one of the members of Platinum Blonde. My dippy roommate brought him over to our dorm room at 3am; I thought I was hallucinating as I had been up all night finishing an essay on Salvador Dali.
5. Fetched and sold the book "Black Robe" to Lothaire Bluteau. This is probably only of interest to Montrealers or Canadian film buffs.
6. Pretended not to be able to speak English to escape a Jehovah's Witness on a street in Montreal. It didn't work.
7. Got a jellybean stuck up my nose. Give me a break, I was 9 years old and I was sniffing it to see what flavour it was.
8. Pretended to be my "visiting cousin" on the phone when trying to avoid a call from work asking me to do an extra shift. I was 16, and no, they didn't buy it.
9. Fell up an escalator at Cours Mont-Royal (a Montreal mall). I wasn't even drunk at the time and it really, really hurt.
10. Fell over the side of a banister and landed on top of a Christmas tree. I was drunk at the time.

Sunday 27 February 2005


I promise to post my long and winding tale of failed induction, surgery, and birth very soon. I actually wrote quite a few notes while in hospital using something old people call "pen and paper". It was weird; I couldn't find the spell checker. Anyway, I will put something together shortly, promise.

Life at home is splendid and Jack is doing really well. We're amazed, thrilled, awestruck, shellshocked, and completely head over heels in love with him. My recovery is going fairly well, although I can't even manage lengthy phone conversations without needing to take a rest. I need to take it very, very easy over the next little while; partially to get over the c-section, and also to get my head round the fact that I'm not going through all the drama at the hospital anymore. It's a bit like having jet lag and a touch of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at the same time - I have no idea what time/day it is, and I keep having flashbacks to my experiences in hospital. Of course all of this disappears as soon as I look at my son. My son. How wonderful to be able to write that.

Oh and yes, I did finally meet Mr. Lim! He was a very polite, unassuming, gentle, Chinese man. I know, how disappointing.

Be back soon, and thank you all so much again for all the comments and emails. xx

Saturday 26 February 2005


It is indescribably wonderful to be home. After a week of hospital food, being poked and prodded, forced to share wards with a couple of absolute lunatics, cut open, drugged up, stuck with more needles, and dealing with some (very few, thankfully) downright miserable hags of midwives, I am now the happiest woman alive. As an added bonus, they sent me home with this rather cute little boy and a dashingly handsome man (he can cook!). Lucky girl, me.

Paul printed up all of your comments and emails for me while I was being held captive in hospital, and they truly did lift my spirits. Thank you all so much for your congratulations and kind words; they meant the world to me. Our mantle is full of cards, I have two beautiful bouquets of flowers (very kindly sent by Jack and Heather, and the Citrix gang), and Jack's even got some gifts to enjoy. Even though we are sleep deprived and still a little bit wobbly on our new parent legs, we are simply over the moon. I will write more on the baby blog about the Week From Hell soon, and will keep the majority of the baby stuff (e.g. anything related to new motherhood and hilarious tales of recovering from a c-section) over there to avoid this blog getting too Mumsy.

In the meantime, here are a couple of pictures I took of Jack this morning. Thank you all again - I can feel the love. No really, I'm not being sarcastic for once.

Thursday 24 February 2005

normal service will be resumed soon

So tomorrow is the big day (we hope, fingers crossed). Jack and Lisa will finally be coming home. Its been fun keeping Lisa's blog ticking over for the last week. Lisa has a ton of stuff to update you with in person, so I'm handing back.

Goodbye 'til next time.

Wednesday 23 February 2005

mum's first pictures

Here's some more pictures of our gorgeous son taken by his drugged up mummy.

Jack says: "If no ones going to play peek-a-boo with me, I'll play by myself."

Lisa says: "I'm not just a number, now get me the heck out of here!!!"

Lisa's spirits were certainly raised when I showed her the print out of all the kind messages everyone has left. Today they've needed lifting, last night was tough. The baby next to Lisa's bed screamed the whole night and continued most of the day. Jack on the other hand is such a happy and contented baby. Lisa has been out of bed today (although rather gingerly as you would expect) and has managed to get Jack out his cot and change him by herself. Not an insignificant feat when you've had major surgery just over 24hrs before. I had the honour of giving Jack his first bath. He was so happy and relaxed in the warm water he was almost asleep. He also passed his hearing test with flying colours. We have the perfect baby!

Tomorrow will Lisa's 7th day inside. We say, enough is enough! Free the Godmanchester 1 (and 1/2)! Write to your Prime Minister/President and join the campaign. Free Lisa and Jack now!

Tuesday 22 February 2005

new life

Presenting Jack William Durbin, born February 22, 2005 at 12.48pm GMT.

The last bump photo:

Jack, newly born, red and screaming:

Lisa, the new mummy:

Paul, the new daddy:

Lisa, the very tired new mummy:


May I present the newest member of our family. Born at 12.48 22nd February 2005. Weighing a very healthy 10lbs (no wonder I hear you say). Meet Jack William Durbin. Jack after my grandfather and William after Lisa's dad.

Jack's first baby photo:

Monday 21 February 2005

too posh to push

Well the waiting is nearly over. The induction gel has failed to get things going so Lisa is now scheduled for a C-section at around 10.00 am tomorrow morning. The midwife who's been looking after Lisa seems to think we have quite a big baby (she's estimated 8lbs.) and also said that Lisa's pelvis is on the small size. So it probably explains the lack of progress.

The other sad news is Lisa was bumped from her private room so is now out in general population. This means loosing her TV privileges as well. She has a laptop with her and a few DVDs so hopefully she'll keep herself busy tonight.

If all goes well Lisa and Pip (real name soon to be announced) should be home on Friday. I'll update you when I can.

Wish us luck.

Sunday 20 February 2005

induction (day 3)

Still no real progress on the baby front. Lisa had a 24 hr break from treatment; which resumed at 4.00 pm today. She's had some contractions but nothing productive yet. We were hoping they'd let he home last night but she still has plus 1 protein so no escape. I've been trying to keep her spirits up with MacDurbs eggy bagels and tasty steak and onion pies. So far its working (ish).

Lisa is actually feeling pretty good, the enforced rest has done her good. She should be in good shape once labour starts for real. Her blood pressure is fine and the baby is healthy so they're not forcing anything yet.

Saturday 19 February 2005

show me the baby

Ok so I'm a virgin blogger, please be gentle with me. Lisa was taken in earlier today (Friday) to be induced. Initially we were given the option of going in Saturday; which would have allowed Lisa (and I) to get used to the idea. But unfortunately induction is a Mon - Fri thing so with one quick phone call, 24 hours notice was reduced to about 4. So she's now under the tender care of Hazel ward for the next day or so (and in a private room). Amazing what a few carefully distributed 10 pound notes can get you. It sounds so glamorous until you realize the curtains are 1/2 the size they should be, the window to the room faces a main corridor and the neighbors smoke!!!!!! Yes you heard me right.

So this is one tired soon to be father signing off, watch this space for the next exciting episode.

Thursday 17 February 2005

and back again

Okay so, apparently now I only have a small trace of protein even though the two previous samples (one taken only hours before) tested by the crappyassmidwife showed some sort of alarming amount both times. The midwife at the hospital (who was lovely, kind, and knowledgeable - and the antithesis to the crappyass one inflicted on me the past two days via my surgery) said that because we use the same sample container each time, they can get contaminated and it's likely giving a misreading. Got to love the NHS - they are so cheap, you have to reuse the same piddle pot your entire pregnancy. I kid you not. I got a new piddle pot today; I feel like I'm getting my tax money's worth. My blood pressure has indeed gone up, but she didn't seem panicked about it and said that I'll likely just be monitored closely.

We still need to get the final word from Mr. Lim tomorrow, who may still well suggest induction - but I get the impression that won't be a certainty in the very near future. Lovely midwife today said it's sometimes better to just let the pregnancy go merrily along and just keep an eye on the situation, so here's hoping I might get my hippydippy waterbirth yet. Until tomorrow...

but then again

My blood pressure has gone up slightly since yesterday and the protein party has grown even bigger. Now we've got to go into the Day Assessment Unit for more monitoring, drawing of blood, undoubtedly more peeing into tiny containers, and other such hilarity. There was a mention of seeing Mr. Lim today instead of tomorrow if things looked urgent. I have just finished packing my maternity bag and it's all ready to go, just in case. Am trying to see if we can pass Jasper off as a seeing eye dog and sneak him into the hospital. Not really, but the thought is certainly very nice.

I will hopefully be back with an update later today or if not, an update at a later point saying something to the effect of "We've had the baby!" Stay tuned.

good sign

A lovely lady from our antenatal class gave birth last night to a healthy little girl at Hinchingbrooke hospital. My heart has been lifted not only because Mum and baby are doing splendidly, but because she was induced after having weeks of high blood pressure. She went through exactly the same experience as me, and it sounds like her blood pressure just went up again recently so they decided to induce (she's about a week or so behind me). Apparently the birth went smoothly and quickly (we like that!), so it's eased my mind slightly about this whole induction due to high blood pressure thing.

Must think happy thoughts before the midwife comes and take my blood pressure in a couple of hours. Ohm.

Wednesday 16 February 2005

at least my waters probably won't break at tescos

My blood pressure is up again and apparently there was a whole protein party happening in today's sample. The midwife is coming over tomorrow to check my blood pressure again, and she was quite confident that Mr. Lim (maybe he does actually exist!) would recommend induction when we see him on Friday. She doubted that he would want me to go past my due date, so it seems like if nature doesn't take over before next week, it'll be cervical gel and oxytocin for me. Oh joy.

Part of me is upset about the prospect of being induced. I never wanted to spend the entire labour in the hospital and I always thought a water birth was a lovely way to bring a child into this world. Another part of me welcomes induction, simply for the fact that it takes the mystery out of when labour will occur. I fully admit that pregnancy has become so uncomfortable now that giving birth in the near future is a welcome relief. I knew that I would never be able to have my heart set on any particular type of labour and birth because a lot of it is out of my control, but I was hoping that I would go into labour naturally since my blood pressure had come down. I suppose this is still an option, depending on what the enigmatic Mr. Lim says on Friday.

We tried to be positive about it by looking at the pros: we would be better prepared and would avoid a mad dash to the hospital, we can let my in laws know in advance what day we need them to come up here, and it's better than anxiously waiting for labour to start sometime in the next few weeks (and if I was late, they'd likely induce me anyway). It's still a bit scary, though. We'll see what happens after our appointment on Friday.

maybe they'll give us our own special parking spot soon

The Day Assessment Unit at our hospital just rang to tell me that my 24 hour pee in a jug-a-thon results came back, and my protein levels are slightly elevated. This means I have to go back into the hospital again on Friday where there will be undoubtedly more pee collection (I'm starting to wonder if they have found a way to make money off of my urine and this is why they keep asking me for samples) and another blood test. My blood pressure has been fine and I've got no other symptoms of pre-eclampsia, so I consider this to be much ado about nothing. The DAU lady said that they were just being cautious because I'm so close to my due date, but it didn't seem like there was anything to worry about. Feh.

The one amusing thing about this is we have another chance to meet The Mysterious Mr. Lim. He is the consultant who we were supposed to see last week and are scheduled to meet on Friday, but the last time we were there, the nice Spanish doctor lady met with us instead. Although we did hear a male voice on the other side of a curtain at one point, we never did see Mr. Lim. His name appears on my file and even my big pee container had his name scrawled on the label, but he remains a mystery. It's very Wizard of Oz.

Off to the midwife soon to once again pee into a little container, get my blood pressure taken, and see if Pip's head has moved further along since last week. I'm telling you, my days are just packed with thrills like this.

Tuesday 15 February 2005

the way to my heart is through a filet of beef

When we woke up yesterday morning, we exchanged Valentine's cards and I gave Paul a "Valentine's cracker" (that's not a euphemism), which was frankly a bit rubbish. Similar to a Christmas cracker, the package promised me lots of Valentine's-related festivity for him but managed to only deliver a little pop, some cufflinks, heart-shaped confetti, and a piece of paper that said "Happy Valentine's Day". The doorbell rang later in the afternoon and Jasper scared the life out of a delivery man trying to shove flowers through the door at me. Paul had one dozen beautifully deep red roses sent to the house, accompanied by a little bottle of bubbly for post-baby celebrations. For dinner, Paul made us an absolutely delicious beef stroganoff using filet steak from our local butcher, with asparagus and horseradish mashed potato. Did I mention that my husband is a wonderful cook? Yes? More than once? Never will I take this for granted, ever. It was a lovely day and our last Valentine's as a duo. Nifty, that.

Heather and baby Rebecca came by for a visit yesterday afternoon, bearing gifts of baked goods (this is the other way to my heart, in case you ever need to know). Jasper delighted in slurping Rebecca's hands and face whenever he had the chance as he has quickly learned over the past year that small children tend to be covered in food, effectively creating a crawling lolly for his enjoyment. As she got a bit more brave with him, she crawled towards him squealing excitedly - which in turn caused him to scamper backwards away from her with that look on his face he gets when I come towards him with the vacuum. I'm thankful that he is excellent with babies, but I have a feeling that he is going to be completely perplexed by the new hairless pink puppy that is about to invade his home.

Oh dear, it's been at least an hour since I've lounged around doing nothing. I simply must get back to my sofa, if you'll excuse me.*

*I won't be able to brag about my fabulously indulgent lifestyle soon, so I'm getting all the gloating in while I can. Otherwise, saying "I've had no sleep, I haven't left the house in six weeks, and my boobs are constantly leaking" isn't exactly much to be envious about. Please humour me.

oil me up and rub me down

Just got back from a gloriously relaxing one hour aromatherapy massage, and I feel like a million bucks. Of course, I'm finding it a bit difficult to type with hands covered in almond oil but at least I smell real purdy like. She concentrated mostly on my back, then rubbed my legs, feet, arms, hands, and gave me the most wonderful head, neck, and face massage. She made up some oil for me to use during labour and provided lots of advice (she trained to be a midwife 25 years ago). I had the massage done at the same complementary health centre I go to for my osteopath, who was there today and wished me well along with the nice receptionist who has gotten to know me over the past year. I cannot wait to go back again for another massage after the baby comes - or before, if this goes on for another three weeks and I get stressed out again.

Ready to slip into a coma now. Mmmmmmmmm.

Monday 14 February 2005

back to normal

It's the little things that make me happy, like being able to simply go to the toilet and not have to wrangle a plastic jug at the same time. Particularly at 1, 3, 5, and 7 in the morning. We went back into the day assessment unit this morning, and my blood pressure was fine but a little trace of protein remained. Luckily, the midwife said I wouldn't need to keep coming back and could just continue with my regular midwife appointments if things carried on like this. So, I imagine now we just wait for labour to happen. Easy peasy.

I was telling Paul last night that I've been having a lot of contractions lately, to which he responded "Ooooh! Exciting!" with a gleam in his eye. It is indeed exciting and I am eager to see our little Pip. I was thinking about what I'll be happy about once the baby arrives, and of course at the top of the list is actually having the baby, but I am also looking forward to: sleeping on my stomach, the departure of the heartburn and bloating, not peeing every five minutes, and being able to eat normally again. Mmm no more heartburn. Fantastic.

Speaking of which, it's time for my antacid and soup.

it's VD for everyone!

Whoever and whatever you love, celebrate today by indulging in either (or both). Whether it's a night alone with nothing but a spoon and a carton of ice cream, a romantic dinner for two, snuggling up with a yard of ale in front of your favourite film, or falling in love with your new puppy (no, we didn't get another one, Fi did), have a warm n' fuzzy day. Or you can be miserable and throw things at neighbourhood children in protest of this Hallmark-created "tradition". Up to you, really.

Sunday 13 February 2005

even my hair hurts

Oh, the joys of the final weeks before birth. I now can't stand up for more than a few minutes at a time because my poor feet are so swollen and the pressure of being upright is very uncomfortable, and because my back gives out in protest. Now that the baby has moved into my pelvis, I get sharp pains in the front whenever I get up. The middle of my back hurts, and I can only assume this is from my expanding ribs. I have been waking up in the middle of the night with pains in my back and front (it's like having a backache and period pains at the same time wheeee), and when I roll over to change sides, I can literally feel the weight of Pip and everything else come crashing down with a painful thud towards my back. I tried putting a small pillow under my bump, but it just made me feel more uncomfortable. I popped some paracetamol (Tylenol) last night and managed to get some sleep eventually. It's like the aftermath of a strenuous workout at the gym, but with bad heartburn and needing to pee every ten minutes.

The thing is, I'm as uncomfortable as hell but still feeling moderately happy. So this is good. On the other hand, I'm a bit frightened to think that this discomfort could potentially last up to another three weeks, by which time, I will be the unhappiest of bunnies. Must stock up on more ice cream, just in case.

Friday 11 February 2005

that'll be a fun way to spend a sunday

We went back to the hospital today for more tests and although my blood pressure remained steady, I still have a bit of protein in my urine. Luckily, this didn't warrant another overnight stay but sadly, this does mean I've got to pee into a jug again for 24 hours starting Sunday morning. They took some blood from me as well, and we have to go back to the day assessment unit on Monday. The lovely doctor lady from last week treated me again today (but is going back to Spain next week boooooo), and said that they were just being cautious and wanted to keep an eye on me because of the protein. I've had no other symptoms of pre-eclampsia, so I think I'll be fine. Besides, I don't feel like Pip is quite ready to be born yet and I would hate to force an eviction on him.

My top tip for ladies in the last trimester (or any stage when backache becomes much worse) is to invest in a hot water bottle. My favourite nighttime ritual is climbing into bed with my fleecy hot water bottle, propping myself up on a bazillion pillows, and curling up with a good book. Once the hot water bottle is snug against whatever part of my back hurts the most, it's bliss. I also got a wooden back massager for my maternity bag so that Paul's hands won't go numb after hours of kneading my back during labour. We tried one out during our antenatal classes, and I think it'll be much easier on his hands. I also recommend getting a birthing ball (which is really just a fancy name for an exercise ball - get your 65 cm Reebok ball at Argos for £6.99!) because it is super duper comfy for sitting on while watching TV and should come in handy during labour as well. My last tip is to consume huge amounts of Green and Black's ice cream to combat heartburn. Works for me, and I'm sure all the extra calcium is good for the baby. *cough*

i *heart* fridays

We're going to have a pre-Valentine's dinner tonight at the Old Bridge Hotel, our wedding venue. "Awwww how sweet", I hear you all say. At least I think that's what you said. Anyway, in an attempt to avoid the crowds, set menus, and inflated costs of restaurant meals on Valentine's Day itself, we're going out tonight instead.

I rang the Old Bridge about booking a table for Monday night, and was informed that it was a set menu costing £65 per person. "You get champagne on arrival", the hostess told me. For £65 per person, I would expect champagne and a backrub from a fireman throughout my meal, thank you. Needless to say, simply booking a table three days prior to this means the same excellent quality food at less than half the price. No fireman, but that I can live with.

In a bid to avoid daytime television, I have started ordering DVDs online from Blockbuster's. In the post today, we received "Shaun of the Dead", "The Village", and "Supersize Me". Film reviews coming soon.

Thursday 10 February 2005

back away from the news groups

I really must stop reading the Insane Pregnancy Bulletin Board because it irks me so. It's not that people panic about the most inane issues (we've all been there, I'm sure) it's some of the attitudes about labour and birth that I find so disheartening. I have read countless messages from women who will demand an induction as soon as they go over their due dates - literally, once the 40 weeks are up. Some are scheduling c sections in lieu of induction, but for the same reason. There seems to be this fear about going over due dates, however no one understands the fact that the "perfect" 40 week pregnancy is hugely inaccurate. It's like we've failed somehow if our due date comes and goes without producing a baby, and in the weeks leading up to this dreaded date, women frantically stuff themselves with spicy food, take bumpy car rides, and drag their husbands back into the bedrooms for one last go. At 35 weeks, some are already asking how they can induce labour naturally and start popping raspberry leaf capsules (which don't actually induce labour, but that's another issue) and squirting evening primrose oil on their cervixes. I wish I was kidding.

I totally understand that the last couple of weeks of pregnancy can be frustrating, boring, uncomfortable, and how anxious you can get not knowing when the Big Day will arrive. There is a loss of control, a feeling of inadequacy of missing the due date (and having to contend with all the "haven't you given birth yet?" comments), and an urgency to get your body back. I just wish that the 40 week deadline wasn't reinforced by the medical community and that they spent more time explaining to women that only 3% actually give birth on their due dates; missing this date is not the end of the world. We spend our pregnancies counting the weeks and even the days (I fully admit to doing this myself), being measured by scans and fundal heights to confirm the due date, and then being told that we have a maximum of 12-14 days after this (relatively arbitrary) date before they haul us in for induction. Whatever happened to just giving birth when you go into labour naturally (if there is no medical reason for induction, of course), regardless of what day this actually occurs?

Right, that's it. I'm gonna go read Heat magazine now and watch daytime TV.

Wednesday 9 February 2005

a much better wednesday

Just got back from the midwife and although I still have a trace of protein in my urine, my blood pressure wasn't too high. Also, the relation of Pip's head to brim is now 3/5, which means he's started moving down into my pelvis. Last week he was still free floating around in there, and I was sure it was the same deal this week - he is still very wriggly and rotates from side to side, but apparently babies can do that even after they start to move down into the pelvis. All the stuff you learn, I tell you. I think that all this stuff I read about "lightening" and what a difference you feel once the baby drops is a bit of old bollocks, though. I feel no different than last week, but maybe this doesn't happen until the baby is fully engaged.

So, this is a much better Wednesday than last week and this time, I will attend a yoga class instead of crying into my hospital pillow. I'll still watch "Desperate Housewives", though. That's a must.

lady in waiting

Christ on a bicycle, my due date is two weeks from today. It's been so strange to hear people say "The next time we see you, you'll have a baby in your arms!" and to think that this mysterious little wriggling person in my belly will soon be in the outside world. My bags are packed. I am almost at the end of any books I've got that detail pregnancy week-by-week. I've got my last antenatal yoga class tonight (unless I go overdue and actually feel like attending the final class in two weeks). And now I wait. And try not to go mental.

Better go rent some DVDs.

please advise

I didn't end up making nor eating pancakes after dinner last night because I was still so full from lunch. Is that bad luck? Will bad things happen if I eat pancakes today instead? Also, it is the year of the rooster. Paul, me, and Pip are all roosters. Is that a bad thing? Or does it mean it'll be a spectacular year for all of us?

I think this means I should just stay in bed today. There are far too many unanswered questions hanging about.

Tuesday 8 February 2005

pass the syrup

It's Shrove Tuesday! In celebration, I have eaten crispy duck pancakes for lunch (note the relevance not only to Pancake Tuesday, but also to the Chinese New Year - Ithankyew) and will be preparing blueberry pancakes for dessert tonight. I like to take part in cultural traditions that involve griddled carbohydrates drowned in sugary sauces. We need more traditions like this; Banana Split Sunday, for example.

happier bunny

The hormones have now swung the other way and I am feeling better, although this huge-pregnant-everything-hurts phase is still kinda sucky. My lovely friend Susan invited me over for lunch yesterday (and has my utmost respect - she's 33 weeks pregnant and her boy is only 19 months old), and it was really good to have a natter about pregnancy woes and motherhood. Today, I pigged out on Chinese food with a few friends from work and had a good hug and gossipfest with the fabulous Emma who was visiting today from our other office. You cannot be grumpy when you're having a laugh and eating crispy duck. I also had my last pre-baby appointment with my osteopath and had a heavenly backrub for 30 minutes this afternoon. Next week I've booked an appointment with another of the health centre's therapists for a one hour pregnancy massage. Mmmmmmm yes.

I am still impatient and am still fed up with being uncomfortable all the time, but at least my spirit has been lifted. Hopefully all will go well at tomorrow's midwife appointment and this change in mood has kept my blood pressure down. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to stuff myself with blueberry pancakes in celebration of Shrove Tuesday. *urp*

Monday 7 February 2005

wake me when i'm in labour

It's been a tough, stressful week. It's been a stressful couple of months really, what with the insane work deadlines and trying to make sure I had everything wrapped up before I went on leave. So it wasn't that surprising when everything seemed to catch up with me yesterday. I stood in the shower and suddenly felt faint; my breathing laboured (no pun intended), I leaned forward against the wall and turned the water temperature down. I got out and towelled myself off, and felt the familiar pains of heartburn travelling up my throat. I hadn't slept well the night before because my hips and legs become very painful after lying on one side for a couple of hours, and of course the three or four trips to the loo don't help either (especially when just hauling myself up to go to the loo hurts in places I never knew had nerve endings). I have been getting more contractions, but they feel more like period pains now rather than the involuntary tightening sensations I've been feeling up to this point.

I got dressed, wrapped a towel around my head, curled up on our bed and cried. Paul found me sobbing into the pillow as I told him that I was just so fed up with feeling like crap. Something always hurts or is uncomfortable, or I'm too tired or out of breath to perform even the most simple tasks. I used to love being pregnant, but now the anticipation/anxiety of giving birth and the general discomfort of being hugely pregnant overshadows this. Paul, as usual, made me feel much better after letting me vent and sniffle all over him.

Considering I've had very few "hormonal moments" in the past nine months, I'm not doing too badly. Everyone will tell you that the last few weeks are hard (which probably doesn't help, but at least you know that you're not alone) and everyone will also tell you that it's all worth it. Which, of course, it is. It's just getting to the baby in my arms bit that's dragging me down. In the meantime, I'll be under my duvet eating cookies if you want me.


I think I know why some people can't cook: because few enjoy following directions and/or reading instructions. Trust me, I'm a technical writer - even I don't bother reading instructions I haven't written. I was watching "Friends for Dinner" a few minutes ago, which is a cooking programme about regular schmoes like us cooking a meal coached by celebrity chefs like Gary Rhodes (who drives me mental, but that's another story). As I was watching this episode, it struck me that even though the recipe was clear about how to prepare the item, the person doing the cooking only half-read the instructions - with disastrous results. Then again, it also struck me that in another recipe she followed, the instructions were poorly written. It was for a pastry crust that could either be used for savoury or sweet tarts. She wanted to make a crust for a strawberry tart, followed the instructions step-by-step, and it was only when she got to the very end of the recipe that she was instructed to add sugar if the pastry was to be used in a sweet dish (i.e. she was supposed to add the sugar before the pastry had been formed). Of course by then, it was too late and she had to start again.

On the most part, cooking is not rocket science. Recipes need not be complicated, overwhelming people with a twenty step cooking process. It's easy to lose track between steps, particularly if they're numerous. Don't tell people at the end of the process about something important they should have done at around step 2. Don't state the obvious, but do state the necessary. I think that once a person has successfully followed enough recipes, they will become more confident improvising or at the very least, remembering the basics to do it again on their own. Give a person a complicated recipe that turns out to be a disaster, and they won't venture beyond beans on toast.

So on that note, I leave you with this fantastic recipe for French toast I made this weekend. Love him or hate him, it's a Jamie Oliver recipe and it's dead easy - which is why I have a lot of respect for him. I think he's made cooking a lot more accessible to those who would normally run screaming from the kitchen. Right so, warm a frying pan over medium heat, and butter two slices of bread on both sides. Mash a banana and mix with some fresh blueberries (or any fruit you want, really) and a bit of sugar. Dip the buttered bread slices in a beaten egg and let the excess run off. Place one slice in the pan, put the fruit filling on top, and place the other slice of bread on top of the fruit filling and press down slightly. Cook for around 2 minutes (lift an edge with a spatula and make sure it's not overcooking), and flip and cook on the other side for a further 2 minutes. Serve with a dollop of yoghurt or if you're a piggy like me, drown it in maple syrup. Shove it down your gob at the table while your husband walks by and says "That looks good. Is there any left?" Respond by shaking your head and continue shovelling the French toast into your mouth.

Serves 1.

Friday 4 February 2005

and now back to your regularly scheduled programme

Good news, my blood pressure has come down quite a bit today and I don't have to endure bad hospital food quite yet. There are more details on the baby blog for those interested, but in a nutshell, Pip and I are okay. I will need more checks and tests over the next couple of weeks, so we shall see what happens.

Now about the bad toast. Only about 2/3 of the bread had actually been toasted, and I can only assume that the other third was poking out the top of the toaster. This partially toasted toast was also cold, so when I attempted to spread butter on it, it shredded into little bits. Bad Toast. Jamie Oliver has a new series about sprucing up school dinners (or cafeteria lunches, as we call them in the motherland), but I think he should pay a visit to some hospitals as well. It is not difficult to make decent food on a tight budget for a lot of people. It's like airline food, it doesn't have to be terrible - it just is, and we accept it as a fact of life.

If you are not on a special diet, why can't hospitals offer you more interesting food like fresh sandwiches, steaming bowls of homemade soup/stews/chili/curries, "comfort" food like macaroni and cheese, sausages and mash, and lasagna? All of these items fit the criteria: you can make them in mass quantities, they can sit for a while without going horribly wrong, and you can make healthy versions of any of these dishes. When I had to fill out my meal selections at my hospital, it was like being on a 500 calorie a day diet at an old age home. For breakfast, I could have Bad Toast or a selection of very fibrous, bland cereals. For lunch, my choices were vegetable soup, a jacket potato (plain baked potato), tuna salad, or the "vegetarian option" of a salad sandwich (I can only assume that literally meant salad greens on bread). For supper, my choices were the same soup, quiche, chicken and lentil stew, or a cheese sandwich. Interestingly, I could have selected a huge variety of cakes and sweets on this same menu. I could have biscuits (cookies) with my breakfast tea, chocolate sponge (cake) with chocolate sauce with lunch, a midafternoon snack of cake, and more dessert selections with supper. So sugar is widely available, but meals containing important elements like sufficient protein are not. Let me guess - sugar is cheaper than protein, right?

At any rate, I am packing one helluva picnic basket the next time I go into hospital.

the true benefit of the comforts of home

Good news - although I still have a trace of protein in my urine, my blood pressure has come all the way down to 80. Bad news - still looking like the Doughboy and that will likely remain until a few weeks after the birth. Not a bad trade off, really. I will see the midwife as usual on Wednesday for another blood pressure check, then we need to go back to the hospital next Friday and meet with a consultant. Apparently, according to today's midwife, I was a "low risk lady" and now I am a "high risk lady" (I'm a layyy-dee!), and they will still want to induce if my blood pressure goes up again. Otherwise, they will likely not let me go past term (40 weeks) if I still have signs of preeclampsia, even if it's minor.

I know that induction is not the end of the world - all of my Cambridge friends were induced - it's just that I would really prefer to spend as much of labour at home as possible, and have a birth with as little intervention as possible. On the other hand, I don't have my heart set on any particular type of birth because so much of it is beyond my control. I just don't fancy having to go through the entire induction at the hospital because, as I now know, it's a damn boring place to be. The Rosie in Cambridge is probably a bit more interesting, but my hospital is a little more low key: no electronic equipment to play games or watch films (I think there's a TV in the dayroom), no Internet access, and no food court. Not exactly a thrilling place to be for a couple of days while you're waiting to dilate. There is still hope for a "natural" labour, but we just have to wait and see what happens.

But anyway, I am home and for now, all is well. That's a Good Thing.

digging my way out with a spoon

On Wednesday, we had our midwife appointment as usual. And as usual, I forgot that I needed to bring a urine sample with me until about five minutes before we had to go - and I didn't really need to "go", if you know what I mean. We arrived at the surgery and I sheepishly handed over my little plastic container that held five drops of wee. Apparently they actually don't need that much to run their tests, so they did their usual dips. I had some protein in my urine, which is never a good sign in late pregnancy, and my blood pressure was higher than usual. Throughout most of this pregnancy, it's been around 75-83 but today is was 90. My midwife decided to send me into the Day Assessment Unit at our hospital to run further tests, just to be cautious. What, now? Oh, now. Alrighty then.

My blood pressure was taken a few times, and it eventually crept up to 98 (at this stage of pregnancy, anything over 90 is cause for concern and anything over 100 might mean labour induction). After being stuck three times (the third in the back of my hand), the doctor found a co-operative vein and took a blood sample (it came back normal). The midwife said that if my blood pressure got too high they may have to induce, and casually added "But you're 37 weeks along, so it would be no problem for the baby". NOOOOOOOOOO I only just went on maternity leave last Friday and I would like a bit more time off, please! Then somewhere in my brain, a little voice said, "But you wouldn't be pregnant anymore and your heartburn troubles would be over." Tempting. Just slightly. Another urine test showed protein traces, and I was hooked up to a foetal monitor so they could make sure Pip was happy and well. "Click this button whenever you feel the baby move", the midwife told me. As soon as she strapped the monitor to me, Pip wriggled, squirmed, and hiccuped non-stop for an entire hour. "Let's see how baby's doing. WOW, that's an active baby!" she said when she checked the printout. The doctor came back and checked my reflexes (apparently they get hyper sensitive when you have preeclampsia), felt my belly and said that Pip was a good size, and informed me that I would need to spend the night in the hospital. As an added bonus, I would need to collect my wee in a giant plastic container for the next 24 hours. I tried to argue that my blood pressure was probably going up because I was in a hospital, but she was right - it was better to be there just in case, as it was the best place to be.

After 8pm, I was admitted to the maternity ward and Paul went home to retrieve my suitcase (good thing it was partially packed already in preparation for the birth) and pick up some food for me. I sat and cried, and filled out my meal selections for the following day from the godawful choices they had, and cried some more. The midwife found a TV for me; it was another quiet night at Hinchingbrooke and I had the entire ward to myself. Paul returned with my goodies but couldn't stay because visiting hours had come and gone. I watched some trashy TV and ate my dinner. "Ooooh 'Desperate Housewives'!" the midwife said when she came to check on me later. She was a fan, too. When she returned to take my blood pressure again an hour later, she said "'Desperate Housewives' must be a good treatment for high blood pressure - yours is now down to 88!" Hurrah. I watched a bit more TV, read some of my book, then tried to sleep. I woke up at 4.30, and had to remember to take my giant plastic jug with me. I stayed awake for an hour, then woke up again at 6.30. Then again at 7.30. Just as I fell back asleep, all the lights came on and someone came in to take my blood pressure. Good morning to you too.

Another urine sample (I know pregnant women pee a lot, but this was getting silly), a trace of protein was still present, but my blood pressure was down to 90. The doctor sent me home, much to my great delight. I have to go back for another check and another round with the foetal monitor in another two hours, and hopefully they won't tell me that I need to stay overnight again. At least this time, I'll have a bag packed and if they do need to induce me soon, I'm a bit more prepared mentally. On the positive side, I feel like I've had a dress rehearsal for my hospital stay when I do go into labour. A lot of the mystery is now gone, and I find it comforting to know that the midwives and doctors at my hospital are really quite nice. I also like how I got offered tea at least four times in the span of around 12 hours. That makes me happy.

Right, I must go pack my bag and think happy thoughts. Here's hoping that a good night's sleep in our comfy bed has worked wonders.

Thursday 3 February 2005

stay tuned

Just a quickie to say that I have just escaped from the hospital (not of the mental variety) after being monitored overnight for high blood pressure. I need to go back in tomorrow, and hopefully they will tell me that I'm fine and send me on my merry way. Otherwise, it means another stay in the maternity ward and if my blood pressure continues to rise, I may need to be induced. I, however, am determined to keep this baby in there at least another two weeks. Having only finished work last Friday, I need a bit more time off to watch trashy daytime TV and bake cookies.

Wish me luck and if I'm not back here tomorrow, please send food. I mean honestly, I know hospital food is bad but they managed to make really bad toast this morning. How can you make bad toast??

Tuesday 1 February 2005

diary of a domestic goddess, part 1

Monday: Sort of slept in; stayed in bed 1/2 hr. longer than usual, but had to get up to use the loo. Toasted a bagel. Didn't get out of my pyjamas until 11am. Felt very strange about not being at work and had to resist the temptation to check my work email and double check that I hadn't left any unfinished business. Ate lunch. Felt compelled to do something productive and interesting. Watched a bit of TV. Took pictures of the nursery and added them to the baby blog. Played frisbee with Jasper. Experienced a slight pang of guilt for not doing something productive and interesting. Made rigatoni. Went to our last antenatal class.

Tuesday: Sort of slept in, but the loo beckoned once again. Made scrambled eggs. Didn't get out of my pyjamas until 11am. Didn't feel that strange about not being at work; had no temptation to check my work email. Ate lunch. Felt compelled to do something productive and interesting. Made a grocery list. Blogged. Am now about to go to Tesco. Will make curry for dinner tonight, and will read Heat magazine later. Will devour more of Dan Brown's "Angels and Demons" before going to bed tonight.

I think I just heard the sound of a dozen people sighing and wondering what other blogs are out there to read.

jurassic belly

My tummy doesn't gurgle anymore, it squeals and brrrrraps with such great volume that it sounds like I've got a baby velociraptor trapped inside. I'm not sure why belly sounds change from the usual hunger/digestive growls to something akin to an irate Gremlin with a megaphone, but ladylike they are not. One of the most amusing things about my antenatal yoga classes is hearing the same noises emanating from the bellies of my classmates during the relaxation portion. It's always good to know that you're not alone in your pregnancy weirdness.

Speaking of my tummy, my bellybutton has now gone...weird. There's no other way to describe it. It hasn't popped, but it doesn't really resemble a bellybutton anymore. It looks more like a squashed bit of raw pizza dough that's partially risen, but still has some indication of an indentation in the middle. My hands and feet are now so puffy that both my wedding band and engagement ring are now worn on a chain around my neck, and even my comfy, sensible Rockport mules are a tight fit. My joints are starting to really ache now too, which I suppose is also from the fluid retention. In fact, now that I think about it, my hands and feet look remarkably doughy at the moment.

Here's a recent picture of me - what do you think?: