Tuesday, 29 March 2011


While you're pregnant, there are a series of predictable responses people will make while talking to you. After the generic "Congratulations!" and later the ubiquitous "Do you know what you are having?" (I generally tried to avoid replying with "A calf, I think"), the conversation will go something like this.
  • Non-parents: 
    • Most women "Ohhhh Squeeeeee! Cluck cluck cluck!"
    • Most men: "Oh wow, nice!" (end conversation)
  • Existing Grandparents: (Faces light up in utter joy) "Oh how wonderful! What a wonderful, special time!" (ie. they have completely forgotten what its really like)
  • Existing Dads: "Oh right, enjoy your sleep while you still can."
But existing Mums, without fail, will give you a sympathectic look and commence the horror story:  "Well, when I was in labour, ..."

I believe it is the prerogative of mums to tell their horror stories but to be honest, I still went into it with very little clue as to what to expect. My mum had always told me that she was in labour for 24 hours with me, so I assumed that meant there had been agonising pain for all that time. The fact is that the agony, while still several hours worth, is only part of that so it's not nearly as terrifying as everyone makes it sound.

As I wrote previously, my waters broke early last Sunday morning. Once we returned from the hospital, I puttered around all morning and even managed a sleep for a little while. Contractions started in earnest at about 1pm, starting out quite mild but gradually increasing until we decided to head to hospital at about five o'clock because I couldn't face the idea of having a really nasty one in the car.

On arrival at the hospital they took us into a room in the pregnancy assessment unit to assess whether I was progressed enough to go into the birth suite. 3cm dilated meant that I was, but before we were moved I had my first pain-relief - sterile water injections in my back, either side of my spine to help ease the pain there.  When they tell you this stings they are completely right - I felt like I'd been stung by four wasps on my lower back! The stinging only lasted a minute or so though and when it faded, the contractions were much less painful, at least for a while.

The birth suite rooms at the Mater are quite comfortable. During the time there we were looked after by two different midwives - the first lady I don't remember much about since she was only there for a couple of hours and I was pretty out of it, but later the lovely Iraqi lady who was to later be with us all the way to delivery started her shift. She had some brilliant stories about fathers passing out, but thankfully Mr Ang made it all the way through in an upright manner.

I tried both pethodine and the nitrous oxide gas to try to help the pain, but the pethodine just made be feel very out of it and didn't really seem to dull the pain at all, and the gas certainly didn't make me giggly or distract me much at all.  In the end I asked for an epidural because I was already exhausted and could only see the hours of agony stretching ahead. Once the epidural was inserted and working by about 10pm, the pain gradually melted away and I was left with a very numb right leg and partially numb left leg.

The remaining few hours were relatively calm. I had been fitted with a cannula in my arm and was being drip-fed with the chemical to help contractions along, so Mr Ang and I just chatted and waited. At about midnight the midwife decided it was time to start pushing, and 80 rather exhausting minutes later, the little sproutling was born.

At first, he didn't cry much and they took him away from me to suction some fluid from his lungs. I couldn't hold him again for ages because they were worried that he was in respitory distress - he was lying in a humidi-crib whimpering for at least an hour and had a low-grade fever. There was almost a chance that he would be taken to the special care unit, but thankfully he calmed down and we were all taken up to the ward by about 5:30am.

Sproutling was born at 2:21am, weighing 3.074kg (about 6lb 12oz) and 50cm long meaning he was very long and skinny. His head was a normal size though which explains the long pushing phase - I have no idea how people make it through that without pain relief, but I am not sorry in the slightest that I asked for the epidural despite my intentions of a natural labour! I also feel completely pleased with myself that I was able to control things so I ended up with no tears and no stitches at all - something which is apparently quite rare in first-time mums.

In all - not the most pleasant experience but the prize at the end is so worth it!

Friday, 25 March 2011

The Sproutling

I'm very happy to announce that the Sproutling has arrived!

Matthew was born at 2:21am AEST on Monday March 21, weighing 3.074kg (that's about 6 lb 12 oz the old fashioned way) and 50 cm long. While he is quite long and skinny, he still has a respectably-sized 37cm head.

We stayed a little while in hospital since we were on antibiotics, but we came home yesterday and are now enjoying a bit of a rest before the visits start in earnest.

If you can't tell, Mr Ang and I are proud as punch and think he's completely adorable, as do all the doting grandparents and great grandparents who have been visiting in the last few days.

In the next few posts I'd like to record some information about the birth and first few days in hospital, so if you're not into the TMI aspect feel free to skip ahead. I promise to return to the cute soon though!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Stand By

I was woken up at about four this morning by one of my cats, as they do if we don't lock them out of the room. I got up to kick him out, and.. my waters broke. A lot.

Actually, reading that back it looks like they broke all over the cat - they didn't, it wasn't until I actually got out of the bedroom!

I then had a complete mental blank and couldn't remember whether I was supposed to ring the hospital or not, so I did anyway. I'm glad I did because they asked me to come in right away. From our place at that time of the morning it only takes about 15 or 20 minutes to get to the hospital so we were there in no time, hooked up to a heart monitor and being generally checked over.

I wasn't aware until today but apparently only about 1 in 10 women have their waters break before labour actually starts. I hadn't had any contractions up until then and even while at the hospital I only had a couple of gentle squeezes. The main risk with the membranes breaking early is infection - without its protective coverings the baby is much more vulnerable. I was told I could either be induced right away or go home and wait for labour to start naturally, so we decided on the latter.

At this stage - three hours later - I have only had a few mild contractions so things are still going slow.  It's going to be a long day.

I'm in good spirits, I had a great nights sleep and am pretty much ready whenever Sproutling is ready to come, but I am also completely terrified.  Not so much for the pain - I know that's coming and I'll take the pain relief if it gets too much, but its more that I realise now that no classes or books have prepared us for what is to come.  I still have no idea what I'm doing, and I am terrified I'll be bad at it.  I know this is something that all new parents go through, so I'm trying not to let it worry me too much and focussing on my excitement about meeting Sprout very soon.

In the meantime, I am trying to keep this generally quiet and not telling our parents just yet - I don't want them to worry and call me all day!

Anyway, stay tuned.  More Sproutling action in the next day or so! Wish me luck :)

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Spike Healing

Acupuncture is a branch of Chinese Medicine which is used quite widely these days in treating many conditions, but also fertility problems, pregnancy and childbirth.

During a treatment, fine needles are inserted into the patient's skin at certain points on their body, called acupuncture points. In Chinese Medicine, energy (or Qi, pronounced "chee") flows around the body through pathways called meridians. Blockages in these meridians are believed to be the source of pain or physiological problems. Inserting and stimulating needles at the acupuncture points is supposed to help relive these blockages and get the Qi flowing again.

Of course, acupuncture is an ancient practice, developed well before conventional medicine was researched. According to the wikipedia page I linked above there is currently insufficient evidence to suggest that acupuncture is more successful at treating conditions than other treatments. There's a pretty strong case for the argument that what patients are experiencing is a placebo effect - that is, they believe they are getting pain relief, therefore they experience less pain.

Trying it out
I was always curious about acupuncture, coming from the "I'll try anything once" school of medical treatment, but the thought of having needles stuck in me was really off-putting so I never really considered actually doing it.

In one of our ante natal classes at the hospital recently, the midwife taking the class was discussing the procedure used for inducing labour at the hospital. It sounded horrific - you are drip-fed chemicals gradually in increasing doses until you are well into the second phase of labour, which often brings on contractions much more painful than a natural labour. Then, if the baby is distressed at all, they just turn off the chemicals and have to start from the beginning again!

She did say though that she had met many people who had used acupuncture to induce labour instead and it had quite a good success rate, sometimes after a few treatments but usually getting things going before a medical induction was required.

The idea of having extra options before having to go though what sounded like a traumatic procedure really appealed to me, so the next day I made an appointment at a local acupuncturist recommended by the midwife. The first appointment was for general pregnancy maintenance, which is for general relief of back, hip and joint pain. I think for that appointment there were about 5 or 6 needles inserted into my hip, foot and leg, then I had to lie there and relax for about 15 minutes on each side. All I felt was a tiny twinge when a couple of the needles were tapped in.

It was great! I think the forced lying still for half an hour did wonders to relax me, but it fired up the Sproutling who kicked and wriggled all afternoon. That night I had a great night's sleep and the following morning my hips and back felt a little better too - certainly a better outcome than the bruises the physiotherapist had given me previously!

Once I found out that Sproutling was breech, I went back to my acupuncturist for two breech sessions. These were slightly different in that they also used Moxabustion.  I was sitting propped up on my back so I was so comfortable I almost dropped off to sleep in these sessions, even though Sprout was kicking like a champion.

Unfortunately Sproutling was determined to stay in a comfy head-up spot and didn't turn until forced to (see earlier post), but I'm still a convert to acupuncture if only for the relaxation and temporary pain relief part.

Labour preparation
This afternoon I'm going back for another labour preparation treatment. This type of treatment is meant to help ripen and prepare my cervix and uterus (sorry, TMI) for labour. Apparently people also report having easier and less painful labour after these kind of treatments, so I'm all for that. I'm also looking forward to a bit of pain relief since my hips and lower back have been aching badly the last few days.

If Sproutling hasn't decided to join us on the outside by next week, I'll book in for an induction session. From what I can gather, the treatment involves the needles being hooked up to some kind of mild electrical current to increase their stimulation.  Sounds... interesting and slightly Frankenstinian but I'm willing to give it a go.

The funny thing with acupuncture is that as a trained scientist I am willing to accept that the effects are probably all in my head, but right now I am happy to keep my options open and Believe it's working.

About Fertility
I just thought I'd add a quick note for anyone interested in using acupuncture to boost fertility. Acupuncture is usually used in conjunction with IVF treatment and has quite good success rates based on studies that have been done.  Of course, it's difficult to assess the results since most research is either carried out by the conventional medical profession who are quite sceptical, or pro-natural remedy groups who are all for it.

Treatments are carried out at certain times during the IVF cycle on both the man and woman and are thought to help both with the quality of sperm and the condition of the uterus.

More information:

If you're thinking of giving acupuncture a go, make sure the practitioner you choose is accredited with your local professional body, such as the AACMA in Australia.

It's generally not recommended to have acupuncture anywhere that doesn't use sterilised disposable needles. Reused needles can carry risk of infection of blood-borne and other diseases, since the needles are actually penetrating your skin. In almost all cases though, acupuncture is a very safe and gentle treatment that can be used on anyone.

So, dear readers, have you had experience with acupuncture during pregnancy or to help induce labour?  I'd be interested to hear your story!

Monday, 14 March 2011

Cute overload

After a very busy weekend, things are all quiet again.  Sproutling has continued to grow and be generally uncomfortable, but I haven't had any more false alarms or worries. I am not good at waiting.

In any case, I thought I'd share with you some of the gorgeous clothes we've been given or bought so far. The stuff we bought has been pretty much all white or neutral so far - I'm expecting the pink or blue to come in thick and fast once Sprout makes an appearance though.

The quilt the clothes are lying on was handmade and given to us by Mr Ang's aunty. We've been given quite a few beautiful handmade things now - our friends and family are so clever!

On with the squee!

We have a few of these, in different colours. It's like they were made just for us!

Oh my gosh, the cute, make it stop!

Friday, 11 March 2011

Old Wives Tales

As soon as anyone finds out that you're pregnant, one of the first questions is usually: "Do you know if it's a boy or a girl?"

Our answer all along has always been that we don't mind as long as it's a healthy one, but that doesn't stop people from giving their opinion depending on various old wives tales.

Here's a few of the tales... and the possible outcome based on my results. There's a poll on the right side of the page - do you think Sproutling will be a girl or a boy?

Tummy shape
There are a couple of different variations to the tummy shape method - are you carrying all out front? Then it's a boy.  More rounded to the sides?  Girl.
Or, carrying high means a girl, and carrying low means a boy.

For me: I have carried mostly out front the whole time:  BOY
However, I have also carried high up until this last week when Sprout dropped:  GIRL

Sweet or Savoury
Craving sweet things for a girl, savouries for a boy.  I might mention at this stage that I was looking forward to seeing what odd or interesting food I had cravings for, and I have to say that I haven't had ANY.  I am disappoint! I have however been eating more sweet things, but.. I think that's just because I like to eat sweet things!

For me:  Craving more sweet things:  GIRL

Wedding ring
If you dangle your wedding ring, suspended on a chain over your tummy, the way it moves is meant to indicate the sex. Round for boy, back and forth for girl.

For me: Back and forth:  GIRL

So this is a new one I recently heard, but if you get pimples while pregnant then it's a girl, if not, a boy.

For me: I have had pimples like I haven't since I was 16:  GIRL

In utero, a normal heartrate varies between 120-160 beats per minute. If the baby's fetal heartbeat is above 140 bpm, it's a girl. Below 140 bpm, a boy.

Here's a chart of Sproutling's heartrate over the eight visits I've had at the clinic.

For my Sprout:  Average heartrate = 139.6 bpm: BOY(?)

Gut feelings
Of course, everyone has a general feeling about how things are going to go. My mother is convinced Sproutling is going to be a boy, while my grandmother has picked girl.

My gut feeling: BOY
Mr Ang's gut feeling:  GIRL

But at the end of the day, who cares? As long as it's healthy!

What do you think?  Are there any old wives tales you know that I haven't taken into account?

Image on this page is pinched from http://dreintaiwan.blogspot.com

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

Welcome to The Sproutling

Hello, and welcome to The Sproutling!

I'm Angelya, an Aussie mum-to-be who also writes the World of Warcraft blog Revive & Rejuvenate.

As of tomorrow, I will be at 38 weeks gestation. Yesterday, I had a false labour.  This freaked me out a little and I realised that I could be a mum any day now! I thought I'd better hurry up if I wanted to get any feelings down before things started happening for real.

So, much in the style of Fannon or Syrana (go and read their blogs, they are awesome!), you will find in this blog my general thoughts and squees about becoming a mum, to keep that stuff away from the gaming blog. It's still a work in progress, and will change a lot as I work out banners and backgrounds.

In the meantime, you can keep up with news updates via Twitter by following @MummyAngelya.

I hope you enjoy reading about my journey into Motherhood!