Thursday, 10 March 2011

The Journey So Far

Pregnancy is a remarkable journey in itself. When Mr Ang and I first found out the exciting news way back in July last year, we looked at those 8 months stretching away in front and wondered just how quickly or slowly those months would go.

I have to say it's felt like such a long time for me, but I have been remarkably lucky in the way my pregnancy has progressed. We have quite a few friends who have had trouble falling pregnant or have had to go through months or years of IVF treatments to get there. Thankfully, it all happened quite quickly for us.

The first trimester
During the first few months, I was lucky enough not to have any morning sickness (in fact I haven't thrown up at all), but I had a scan at just five weeks due to some quite severe cramping on one side. Happily, it wasn't an ectopic pregnancy as I had been afraid of, and the little bean was fine in there. I did continue to have the nasty cramps up until about eight weeks though which made working fun as the only way I could get rid of them was to lie down and relax. I had a good excuse to give though - I had been on a work trip to India not long previously, so I just told everyone I had Delhi belly!

At twelve weeks we had the Nuchal Translucency ultrasound, where measurements are taken and combined with blood test results to determine the risk of the baby having Down Syndrome or other chromosomal defects. I am so glad that we didn't have to make any terrible desicions from the results of that scan, since everything came back low risk and everything was healthy in there. After that scan we took great pleasure in being able to tell everyone that we were expecting!  Of course our parents already knew a few weeks previously and were (and still are) completely over the moon.

One more scan at 18 weeks confirmed that bub was growing into a healthy little alien. Head and body are way out of proportion at this stage, but knowing that it's going to have the right number of arms and legs is always a plus!

Around this time is when you start feeling movements.  At first, it's just like a little fluttering - like you have gas or like heart palpitations but a little further down.  It's an odd sensation and you never really get used to it! After a while you can actually tell when there is a big roll going on in there, or when you are being kicked. Some women say they get kicked awake during the night - I'm pleased to say I've only had that happen once!

Healthy stuff
I didn't follow any special diets or exercise regimes while pregnant - in fact I just ate whatever I wanted really. I found that it wasn't hard to stay away from the forbidden foods - soft cheeses, cold meats, sushi, pre-prepared salads, reheated leftovers, bay-marie-type foods. I missed them but I managed without, mostly by eating loads of sweet things. My bad eating mustn't have hurt me that much, because last time I checked I think I've put on about 17kg since the start.  I'm told that's within a normal range - hopefully I can get rid of it afterwards without too much trouble.

I did do some great exercise classes run by the physio practice at the hospital once a week.  It was sort of a combination of stretching, light cardio and a bit of relaxation, and if it didn't help out my body that much it did make me feel a lot better after each time I went along.

Later, I started to get some pain around my pelvis and tummy muscles. This was the hormone Relaxin doing its part to loosen up the ligaments ready for delivery, but good lord, it made my muscles hurt in compensation. 

I visited a physiotherapist at times to help with the muscle pain but I have this theory that physiotherapists were all torturers in past lives and take great delight in inflicting pain on people.  I decided to try out acupuncture instead and it was a wonderful, very relaxing experience that did help with the pain, at least for a few days after each treatment.

During the hot weather here in January and February, I had quite a lot of fluid in my feet and ankles. That has somewhat gone away now that it's a little cooler, and was helped a lot by swimming. What has not gone away is the fluid in my hands and wrists - my knuckles hurt a lot, especially in the mornings.  I guess this is what arthritis feels like.

Sproutling is going to come into the world at the Mater Mother's Hospital. Our insurance didn't cover private maternal care (for various reasons), so I am going through the public system which so far has been perfectly adequate. I don't seem to go for as many visits as some of my friends have done, but if I needed to the help would be available. The midwives I've seen have all been lovely, the classes were very informative and the facilities look top-notch, so I have no worries at all about what the next few weeks will bring.

My visit to the midwife at 36 weeks brought me some interesting news - Sproutling was in extended breech position, with head up, bum down in my pelvis and legs stretched out to one side. Hospitals no longer like to deliver breech babies as it is quite stressful for both baby and mum, so I was told that I should either opt for an elective caesarian, or book in to have an ECV, where a doctor would attempt to turn the baby in a non-invasive procedure. 

The breech position was probably brought about by a combination of bad posture and stress (there are plenty of other possible causes but we'll never know the full story). I sit at a desk all day at work and then play games most nights at home, so my posture is pretty bad at the best of times. My work has been quite stressful since Christmas as well - we've lost a staff member and had to redistribute his work, and on top of the baby things I've had on my mind I was getting pretty stressed out towards the end there.  After about the 35-week mark where I actually burst into tears in my managers office, I knew I was going to have to try to finish early and just chill out. So I did.

My acupuncturist gave me two sessions to try to turn Sproutling - a combination of acupuncture and moxabustion, which consists of burning a roll of material (not sure exactly what is in it but it stinks!) close to the acupoint on the outside of each little toe. It doesn't hurt at all, just stimulates the area. Despite having loads of movement from baby (I swear it felt like a party going on in there), the little one didn't actually flip over.

Mr Ang and I went in to the hospital on Monday morning the 7th for the ECV procedure. I had been secretly hoping that Sprout had turned during the night and I wouldn't have to go through with anything, but the first ultrasound showed that bub's head was definitely up and bum down.. 

The doctor said my fluid was a little low but he had a good chance of being able to turn the Sprout. He went through how the procedure would work and the risks involved. There is basically no risk of injury to the baby, but if anything else was damaged in there such as the placenta, if my waters broke, if bub became distressed, then we would have to have an emergency caesarian immediately. 

First we went into another room to have an ECG machine strapped to me for a little while, so that they could make sure Sproutling's heartbeat was regular.  Everything was fine so I was taken back into the ultrasound room and a drip inserted into my arm. They injected some ventolin with some saline stuffs and in about 20 seconds, my heart began to race and I couldn't help but breathe more heavily.  It was a rather unpleasant sensation to begin with, but then the doctor started to push into my belly, to try to get the baby's head out from under my rib.  He was pushing pretty hard - it hurt in some tender spots! After only about a minute he had managed to get the head downwards, but the scan was showing there was a foot down there in my pelvis next to the head! He asked me to get up and go for a walk around for 10 minutes, then come back to see if the foot had moved. I was really shaky and my hands were all cold - probably from shock more than from anything else.  My heart was still racing and I felt dreadful, but Mr Ang helped me wander up and down the corridors a bit and things improved before long. 

When we got back in for another look, the foot was still down there but the doctor was sure that it would be pulled out of there - how could the baby be comfortable like that?! I had another ECG monitor to make sure Sprout was still happy and then was free to go. The whole procedure only took about 3 minutes not including the monitoring, but in between all the busy-ness at the hospital and waiting for each step, we were there for almost five hours.

That night I attempted to sleep sitting up since the doctor had suggested not lying flat to make sure bub didn't try to flip around again. The next afternoon I had a midwife appointment, so I popped into the Fetal Medicine area for them to quickly scan me - this time the head was properly down and the feet off to one side - Hooray!

Sproutling being head down is not quite so comfortable as the breech position was! Now I have extra pressure on my bladder and pelvic floor and my centre of gravity is different again so I hurt in different places. But at last, I can relax and not have to worry about going into labour with a breech baby.

False Alarm
Being moved around must have made the Sproutling a little uncomfortable because I woke up at 4am yesterday morning with the worst tummy cramps.  At first I thought I needed the toilet, but nothing was going on there so I had to admit that it could well be the start of labour!  After a while, the cramps started feeling more like period pain with my back involved. They weren't coming too often so I didn't wake Mr Ang up, but by the time he was awake at 6-ish the cramps were about 10 mins apart. We were so excited - we started packing bags and making lists of people to inform, but by 8am I was feeling pretty sleepy again so I decided to go lie down and rest while I could. Somehow I went to sleep, and by the time I woke up, the cramps were gone. I felt occasional squeezes through the rest of the day and was pretty sore all around, but it was definitely only a false alarm. It was kind of disappointing after getting all excited in the morning! 

In any case, things are happening!  It could all happen any day now, and I am soooo looking forward to it!

To sum up, there's two weeks (give or take) to go, Sproutling is in the right position now, we don't know if it's a boy or a girl and we can't wait to meet the little one!

Week 38

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