June 30, 2010

Wordless Wednesday (with a few words!)

The love of my life (D) got into so much trouble from his crazy-ass-pregnant-wife (me) for buying me these lovely flowers and therefore being home late last night. This is an attempt on my behalf to say... I am sorry for being so hormonal and worrying so much! I love the flowers and the thought behind them! I adore you so much my sweet xxx

June 29, 2010

Keep Rebecca in your prayers

Please friends, visit Rebecca's blog to offer your support and please keep her and her husband in your thoughts and prayers.

June 28, 2010

Another heart update

Ok, so after my last update yesterday I was driving home when my doctor called. She told me that she called the doctor she wanted me to see about doing a anomaly scan focused on the heart and he told her that unless the problem is still there after 28 weeks,they don't consider it an emergency and they don't even look at it. The hear beats could just regulate themselves. If the issue is still there then they will investigate things further. She actually apologised for making me worry so much but she didn't want to underestimate the issue without having consulted all the experts. So now we wait and see how her heart looks at 28 weeks and take it from there. I hope by then all will look normal and as it should be and if it isn't we'll take it from there. All I can do is keep eating right and keep monitoring her movements which are always frequent, thank God, the rest is not up to us to decide.

I feel so exhausted by all this ups and downs and D told me that he was getting upset with the doctor for making me worry one minute and reassure me the next and then freak me out again. I blame myself in a way for having gone back to the clinic when I am in the care of the hospital where I will deliver. I should have just gone there fore the glucose test and be done with it instead of wanting to see the doctor to make sure everything is ok. I think part of it comes from my fear of something going wrong or because the other hospital treats me like any other pregnant woman and I freak out that I am not. Anyway, now all we can do is not hope all looks great at 28 weeks so we can move on from this.

Thank you again for all your messages and words of encouragement they really meant a lot to me.

Research on irregular heartbeat in unborn babies (puts my mind at ease and it's in line with what I have been told):

An irregular heart rhythm is usually benign, but your obstetrician may refer you to a pediatric cardiologist for a fetal echocardiogram to better define the heart rhythm.

The normal fetal heart rate is between 120 and 160 beats per minute. The heartbeat is usually regular with only a little variation in the heart rate. Each heartbeat comes from the top part of the heart (atrium) beating first, followed immediately by the bottom part of the heart (ventricle). The bottom part of the heart is what causes blood to leave the heart and make a sound on the heart monitor.

The most common cause of an irregular heart rhythm is when the top part of the heart beats too early (premature atrial contraction, or PAC). Sometimes this premature beat is transmitted to the bottom part of the heart; other times the communication between the top and bottom part of the heart is interrupted after a premature beat.

An early beat that is transmitted or blocked will cause an irregularity in the heart's rhythm. These premature atrial contractions are very common in the second half of pregnancy and usually don't cause any problems. They may persist after the baby is born, but usually go away by one month of life. Medication isn't necessary.

These premature beats can cause problems in a small percentage of cases if multiple consecutive premature beats occur. When this happens for a long enough period, it's called tachycardia (fast heart rate). If the heart rate stays above 200 beats per minute for a long period of time (hours or days), it could damage the baby’s heart and other organs. If tachycardia occurs, your pediatric cardiologist and obstetrician will recommend medicine for you to take to help regulate your fetus’s heart rhythm. If there are any signs of damage to the fetal heart, it may be recommended that you be hospitalized while beginning the medicine. If you are put on medicine, it is likely the baby will need to take the same medicine after birth.

Most fetuses with tachycardia have a good prognosis if the heart is structurally normal. Some fetuses have a pattern of frequent blocked premature contractions resulting in a low heart rate (bradycardia). This does not usually cause any problems to the baby as long as the heart rate remains above 60–70. Some fetuses with premature atrial contractions can have bradycardia on one visit and develop tachycardia later on. An irregular heart rhythm is not usually worrisome in the fetus, but should be followed closely by your obstetrician.

June 27, 2010

The calm after the storm... or so I hope

I was so overwhelmed to see all the messages you have left after my post on Thursday. I showed these to D as well and he was just stunned. Our community is such an amazingly supportive one that cares so much and one I wouldn't trade for anything in the world. Thank you for your positive thoughts and your prayers, it meant so much and I am convinced it helped.

After Thursday's events I went home and as on Friday we were organising a World Cup Football, BB-Q and beer (for those who drink) I got lost organising, planning and food shopping. D gave me a huge hug and told me not to jump to any conclusions and that all would be ok as the doctor said. I swear I envy his positive character and would give anything to be a bit more like him. On Friday I knew our clinic is closed as in the UAE Fridays are like Sundays for us, so I tried my best not to think about Izzy's heart but I focused on having a good time and making sure people were enjoying themselves. The party was a huge success and our friends loved our house, the food and the drinks. They came at 5.30pm and all left happy after midnight. I have to say I am not big on having too many people at my house all at once but I have to admit that the party was a God send. I kept myself so occupied that I didn't have time to sit and worry which as a few of you mentione, is not good for me or Izzy!

Yesterday we had a super early start of the day for a Saturday morning as we had D's dad here for the day. He was stopping over en route to visiting a friend in Indonesia for some travelling. We finally agreed on telling him about our choice of name, we had been putting it off because we know he can be difficult at times, but he loved the name and the fact that we gave Izzy's Anna as the second name after his late wife. Through the day my mind kept on thinking about the clinic and whether my doctor spoke to the specialist. We had a busy day but managed to take a few breaks here and there too and during those breaks I was so tempted to call the doctor but D said that they would have called me once they had the results.

During the evening we stopped home for a shower and a break so I sneaked upstairs and called the clinic. The doctor called me back soon after with the results. She first told me that I passed my glucose test and the internal exam for possible infections, she also told me that I still have low iron so to keep taking my supplements (need to speak to my midwife first!). Then she told me that she called the specialist doctor she knows and explained what she saw on Thursday regarding Izzy's heart, he told her that we should not be concerned or investigate things further unless Izzy's heart starts beating way above what it normally should be (above 200bpm and her current heartbeats are 154 on average). She also mentioned that she will speak to another colleague of hers in Egypt and ask for her opinion as well just to rule out any possible problem. That made me feel much better and I immediately breathed a sight of relief. She told me to ask my midwife to keep monitoring Izzy's heartbeat which she does and record at every visit and for them to check her heart again when we are going in for next ultrasound. I felt so happy I was in tears. Part of me wishes I had a doppler but then again I know I would become obsessed so I just need to trust the doctors and Isabella's constant movements as an indication that all is ok. I told D and he just smiled and said "I was not expecting any other news" he basically wanted to tell me "I told you so" but held back. I thank him for that, because he knows how hard it is for me not to get carried away.. it's within my genes! My grandma was the same and so is my dad.. we worry!

I am so blessed that all seems to be ok and that Izzy's heart just needs to be monitored but not anymore than any other baby's and that she is ok. The thought of anything harming our baby girl scared me to death in a way I have never felt before and I have been through my fair share of tragedies. I cannot describe the feeling in words but I hope and pray I don't feel this again any time soon.

Just when I was starting to relax here comes another cloud in the sky. My doctor called me and she said that she spoke to her colleague in Egypt who asked her a lot of questions on Izzy’s heart. She said that they normally investigate further when they see liquid around the heart or that the heart is not formed as it should be. She said that she asked about how many times the heart was going faster many times as if this had significance. She still think it’s ok and that there is nothing to worry about but given the questions of the other doctor she wants to make sure there is absolutely nothing wrong with her heart. She is therefore arranging for an appointment at a special center in Dubai where they do in detail morphology exams. Hopefully then we will be able to rule out every possibility of abnormality of her heart or possible complications. As I have said millions of times before I trust my doctor 100% so we will go for this appointment and rule out any possible problems. I told D and he sounded concerned, I don’t like it when he is concerned. My mind is racing forward and my heart is going fast.. I need to calm down. I am going to try do my meditation..

June 24, 2010

Everything will be fine...

During last visit at the hospital I asked my midwife when I would be required to do my gestational diabetes test. She told me that they don't run them routinely unless you have shown to be at high risk. I remember talking to my RE about it and she told me that that they screen for it as a routine between 24 and 28 weeks, in Europe and in the US this is also the case. My soon to be sister in law had it done with both her pregnancies and it was run as a routine test. Because I tend to panic and because I would rather be safe than sorry I booked an appointment to get my gestational diabetes test done at her clinic just to make sure all is ok. So this morning I went and as I knew I was going to be there for 2 hours I thought it would be nice to see my doctor as well just for a quick chat and check up. Going back to the clinic felt like going to see family. All the nurses were looking at me and they could tell how much I had changed and complimented me on my big belly. They took my first fasting blood and urine than I was give a big glass of glucose to drink. It tasted way to sweet but one of the nurses told me just to down it and drink water after it and that helped.

The doctor arrived and she complimented me on my round bump! She said that I should not be obliged to have a visit as I am being followed by another hospital but I told her I wanted to. She asked me a few questions about the hospital to make sure I am well followed and then I had an ultrasound. It was funny because she asked me if I wanted an ultrasound as if she already knew what the answer to the question would be! Izzy looks so nice and big now and was head down which was great surprise and proof that she moves constantly still. Then she focused on her heart. She spent what felt like 10 minutes on it. I knew something was wrong because I have never seen her spend so much time on anything before. She told me she was checking to see all was ok and spent a little longer on it and also turned on the heart monitor to check her heart rhythm on the monitor. After that she took measurements of her head and thigh bone which show her to be right on schedule. She then took out portable Doppler to hear her heartbeat and listened for a good minute or more. Whilst I was there she took an internal swab to check that there are no bacteria that could cause preterm labour (we got the results straight away and all look grand.)

Once we sat down after the exam she told me that she saw Izzy’ heart going at a normal rate but that it would have irregular heartbeats every so often, I could see that too but didn’t know what to look for exactly. She said she picked that up from the monitor as well as looking at hear heart but that she could not hear the irregular heartbeats on the Doppler. I asked if I should be concerned but she said not to be because at this stage we cannot do anything anyway. Not very reassuring, what I wanted to hear was that we had no issue to worry about. Anyway she mentioned she had just been to a conference on heart monitoring in unborn babies and that she knows a more specialized doctor whom she will contact and ask his opinion on. She said that he might look at the pictures of the heart rhythm and say all is ok or might want to ask us to go in for a more in detail exam and look at hear heart. For now she told me not to panic but to stay calm that all will be ok. All I could think about was reading on another blog about someone going for a detailed heart monitoring exam because there is evidence that shows that IVF babies have more chances of experiencing heart defects.

I got another blood test and urine sample and then I called D to tell him. I managed to stay calm and sound reasonable on the phone to him so he would not worry. After that the nurse that was in the examination room with us came to sit with me as I waited for the last urine sample and blood test and did an EXCELLENT job at keeping me distracted and busy until 11.30. The last blood test hurt like a b*&$@ and because I had no veins left they had to use the same site they used for the first blood test. I said my goodbyes and left.

The minute I got in the car the crying started. It came on so strong and fast I couldn’t hold it back. The thought that something could possibly be wrong with Izzy scares me to death and the thought that we “cannot do anything about it yet” scares me even more. She is not supposed to be having problems she is our perfect little princess and nothing or nobody should ever hurt her. I called D in tears and he told me not to panic because it’s not good for me or the baby, of course he is right. The problem is that my heart does not want to listen…my heart is heavy at the mere possibility of something harming our cutie pie. He also said that maybe because the doctor just went to a conference on the subject she might be more prone to spend more time on the heart. It’s a natural reflex and thinking of it makes sense, like D said if I went to a conference on contract negotiations that focused on one particular clause I would be more inclined to look at that clause more closely from now on. I truly hope with all my heart that this is the case and that there is nothing wrong with our baby girl. I then called my mom and dad and told them and she said that it might be nothing major and to think of my brother who has a small heart defect that they only discovered after his birth but that perhaps these days with all the technology they might have picked up earlier. For now until I hear back from the doctor I hang on to these thoughts and pray that there is nothing wrong with our princess and that it’s one of those “better safe than sorry” events. As I type these thoughts she kicks my bladder as in to say: “stop the worrying mommy, I am fine!!” I have said it many times and will always believe it that our baby girl is so intelligent and knows me better than I know myself. I will try focus on the kicks and the movements and blank out the rest…. Everything will be fine.
As a small side note (I fell that as a mom I have to do EVERYTHING I can!) and note I normally don't do this, but I would really appreciate if you could keep our little Izzy in your thoughts/prayers. I do believe in the power of positive energy and prayers and I have seen it do wonders .. thanks.

June 23, 2010

Surprises suprises

I cannot handle surprises. I am a planner and the thought of waiting for something to happen without me knowing what it is drives me nuts! I am great at organising surprises for others and did so on many occasions for D or my parents. I am guilty of always knowing ahead of time what I would get from my parents each Christmas. My mom would do her best to hide the presents and I would always find them months ahead. I wouldn't tell them I found them but knowing what I was going to get eased my mind. It's not as if I did it so I could play for them or ask for something else, it's just that I could not handle the anticipation. This of course drives D and my friends and family insane!

I haven't changed that much from that child. D and I got married on the 16th of July which is a day earlier than my birthday. We didn't plan it this way, it just happened that the embassy could only marry us on this date. Well last year we celebrated our first wedding anniversary and D was all cool about not getting crazy presents which put me completely off guard. So as the first wedding anniversary is paper I got him a subscription to his favourite newspaper. Not the most romantic of gifts but we had "agreed" on something small. When I got home that night the door bell rang and the florist handed me pillow of red roses with a balloon attached to it
tha said "I love you". I was in total shock. What was all of this??? Then D arrived and with a big I -got -you -good grin on his face and handed me a Tiffany's bag.... not any bag a Tiffany' bag!! My heart almost burst out of my chest! Again, what was all this? I gave him one of my looks (I am knowing to give petrifying looks) and he said "you are the only woman I know who gets upset getting a Tiffany's bag!" I wiped that look from my face and gave him a big sloppy kiss instead! The Tiffany's bag contained the cutest most thoughtful of charm bracelets. D picked all the charms himself which made it even more special! So there, he got me good. He told me later that even though he planned everything for months he got everything that same day so I wouldn't have chance to know what I was up to. I am that bad!

Well this year is a special year for us, we are finally pregnant and in October Isabella will be here with us, it's our second wedding anniversary, I turn 30 and D 29 (not liking this!!!) and in October we celebrate our 10 year anniversary (date in which we first kiss and have been together since!). So as you see it's a BIG year. First on the list of celebrations is our anniversary on the 16th of July then my birthday on the 17th. I normally don't do anything on my birthday. Last time I felt like celebrating it was when I turned 18. D and I normally go out for a nice meal or do something that I like doing. This year I want to celebrate it big time. Big Time for me might not mean the same to others. I told D I wanted to have a dinner with all my favourite people that live here and I definitely wanted a cake and presents! He has been off organizing the evening, sending invites to friends and making reservations and you know what.. this time I DON'T want to know! I want a BIG surprise! I am doing the opposite of what I would have done in the past. We have also agreed that given I cannot fly anywhere for a short break we would go somewhere nearby for an extended weekend gateway to celebrate our anniversary. D told me yesterday that it's all done and booked and to take the 18th off from work. I was in shock, he has organised it all! I am not surprised because I doubted he would do it or could not organise it but because he has done it and I had no clue! He asked me if I wanted to know where we were going and I said that I didn't. I cannot wait to be surprised!

So all I have to do now is act very unlike me and just go with the flow and see what will happen. Scary thought...

June 22, 2010

The nursery update

Isabella’s nursery is going to be fully painted by tonight. D said that tonight after work it’ll give it the second coating and then all we are left to do is the small touch ups. For the second coat we bought the same colour but in a satin finish. The first coat had a flat finish and we thought at satin finish will make the colour look a bit more alive and I just found out that a satin finish is more commonly used in kids room as it’s more durable than a flat colour. I cannot wait to see how it looks once it’s up and the more I think of it the more I feel like a kid in a candy store! It’s crazy to get so excited over a room and yet here I am counting down the hours. Of course it's not just a room, it's Isabella's room, a room that has been sitting empty waiting to be decorated and "dressed up" so our little cutie pie can sleep and play in it. It's a very special room, one that is already filled with lots and lots of love! I wish I was able to paint some as well as I truly enjoy it. In our old flat I painted the whole spare room (we were TTC and I thought it would be the baby’s room) on my own. I actually really enjoy it and I found it helped me release a lot of stress. Well this time I cannot but I also cannot sit and watch whilst he does everything so D and I have come to a compromise: I can paint the areas that require a small brush as long as I wear a protective mask and we leave the air conditioning and the window open at all time. I can live with that. It’s just so much fun to see this room turning into a light and fun room. Cannot wait till we see the finished product. In the meantime here are a few pics of the transformation and me looking rather silly (I don't know how doctors can breath with these things on!!!)

June 21, 2010

To schedule or not to schedule that is the question!!!

Some of you who read my blog regularly will know I love to research and plan before I do anything. Well I started thinking about what happens after Isabella is born. How will we cope? How shall we handle sleeping and feeding time? Shall we swaddle? Shall we hug and cuddle to sleep or shall follow a routine for nap/sleep time? Shall we feed whenever she requests it or shall we stick to a schedule? What to do when she cries after she has been fed, changed and put in her cot? Who should wake up during the night? Shall I breastfeed? Shall I express milk? Should she sleep in our room in a moses basket or should she sleep in her crib in her room?

You get the idea. My mind is filled with these type of questions because that's what I am like. I like to plan ahead and be prepared for things to come. I think part of it comes from my military upbringing (for those that have not read my previous entries my dad was an air force pilot). I know that with babies you cannot be sure one night to be the same as the one before and the one after. Each day brings new surprises and new challenges but nonetheless I want to be ready for all eventualities and regardless of probabilities I want to have a clear idea of what method of childcare we will utilise.

My first point of call was a method/system that attracts to me the most: the scheduled/routined method of caring for your baby. You follow routines and teach your baby how to follow them and what you will get, as promised on the covers of these books, is a happy baby who sleeps through the night from a very young age. This kind of approach fascinated me so I bought the Gina Ford's The Contented Little Baby Book (I believe there is a similar book in the US called "On Becoming Babywise" which also advocates schedules and routines) . I started reading the book with an open mind and with a bit of anticipation as to what I would have found out from this guru of modern childcare. It contains a lot of useful information on what items to buy as essential items and which are not worth investing in, all of which is useful info that I referred back to whilst making the "what to buy for Izzy list" (I told you I make lists for everything!!). The first hurdle for me was how strict the scheduling is. You basically place your child on quite a strict routine from the very first early days and as much as these routines change and vary frequently the stringency and lack of flexibility does not. I don't pride myself but I am not oblivious to the fact that friends and family refer to me as someone who loves her routine and they always compare me to the most uptight of characters in movies (Charlotte in SATC, Monica in Friends are just two of my favourites). Well even for someone like me these routines just don't appeal. I am all for creating routine for myself and poor D gets sucked into all of my madness and as someone who HATE routine you can imagine the struggle. But when it comes to creating routines for a baby who is just a few weeks old and has just been through something as traumatic as childbirth can be, I cannot bring myself to do it. As much as the initial appeal of restful nights and a sleepy baby sound the sacrifices that I would put my baby through for manly our benefit does not match. I am sure these types of schedule based books appeal to many and so many people I speak to swear by them but the idea of not looking into my baby's eyes as I feed her before bed at night or at all during the night does not work. I might be uptight but I know I could not resist and I would so give in to her eyes and whisper sweet things to her or sing her the lullabies I am so struggling to learn. I spoke to D about it and asked him what his thoughts were. He agrees. He could not seem himself sticking with the plan and looking after Izzy would feel more like a chore than like what it's supposed to be. It's just not for us.

After coming to this conclusion I was catapulted back in the land of "what now?". I started researching and digging deep. Given my natural instinct don't apply when it comes to our baby, what would? I asked myself what I would feel comfortable with. I went back to good old Dr.Spock. I have not bought the book yet but his cuddle and love your child approach appeals to me a great deal. My mum brought us up following her instincts and Dr. Spock and we turned out ok. I suppose Dr. Spock's philosophy and my dad's strict routines ended up balancing the two out quite well. I read a lot of material on his approach online and I am not saying I will follow what he says to the letter but I do agree with his approach. I do want to have Izzy sleeping in our room in her moses basket until she is old enough for her own crib because I do believe she will benefit from the smaller space of a moses basket. I do want to feed her when she is hungry even if this means we will not get much sleep. I have read and believe that babies' stomachs are small and need small and frequent feeding this together with the fact that it can take up to a week for me to have enough milk supply to satisfy her appetite on more routine based feedings, show that a feeding on demand routine will work much better for the health of the baby. I am not a doctor but I do agree with the doctors that take to this view. I do want to rock her to sleep if she needs it or sing to her and look into her eyes and I know already I could not force myself to do otherwise.

Whilst researching I have also stumbled upon a great site called "The Baby Sleep Site" which was created by a mom, Nicole Johnson whose first child had issue sleeping. It offers great advice on sleeping techniques and what to do and what not to do. Nicole is not a doctor but she is a mother and as a mother has been through some of the same struggles we are bound to face with a newborn. I love her flexible approach which could be described a combination of the two leading approaches of putting your baby on a schedule and letting your baby lead the "schedule". I like how she makes the distinction between each baby in the fact that they are not all the same and they don't all act in the same way. I am seriously considering buying her e-book which gives you lots of other perks as well as the actual book. She does offer guidelines and schedules for older babies but I love the fact that she does not advocate putting babies on a sleep schedule until they are at least 6 months.

I do have a lot of research and reading to do before I can feel comfortable with one method or the other and even then I know I am not going to take every word as the law. I know I will want to add and modify certain things depending on how they impact on Isabella's well being and how they make me feel but ultimately I know a baby-led baby schedule sounds like the perfect suit for us. What I have learned so far is that what I thought would originally work so well for me does not feel right at all when it comes to caring for our baby girl. I have very good instincts and I can easily tell that this parent-led baby schedules is not right for us. As the search continues I will keep you updated on what else I find out.

As a small but yet important side note, today's check up when brilliant! Izzy is still a breech baby but my midwife told me not to worry and that she can still turn around. Her hear beat was 149, so nice and strong. My blood preassure and everything else looked great. My weight is gone up again but that is to be expected I started off so small that the weight is now piling up. As long as it's withing the advised ranges and we are doing good all is good. Next check up is on the 19th of July.. I will be 30 by then!!

June 20, 2010

24 weeks today

Today I am 24 weeks and cannot believe it. It is as if time is just running wild these days. If I close my eyes and look back, it seems like yesterday that we found out we were going have a baby and here we are 24 weeks pregnant. Life is really incredible.

This morning I started listening to the last set of meditation/visualisation recording for the second trimester which means next month I will be in the 3rd trimester. Part of this session's exercise is to consider all the aspects of pregnancy that you love and all the things you will miss once you are no longer pregnant. Here are all the things I love abut pregnancy:
  1. I love being pregnant, I have never felt more complete and serene in my life. It's as if I have waited all my life for this moment and I am not exaggerating.

  2. I love my big bump, the way it looks and how it feels so soft and delicate. I also love how my belly button has expanded and now looks like a snooze button!

  3. I love how my boobs have grown so nice and big and how I now have an ample cleavage.

  4. Coming from a recovering bulimic, I never thought I would say this but I love how my body just filled up and how it grows to accommodate my baby and the amazing job it's doing. In my meditation classes I always thank my body for not giving up on me and for doing such an amazing job through my pregnancy. Considering I hated my body first due to the bulimia and then to the infertility and never treated it with the love I should have, it has really showed me a lot of love. It's through pregnancy that I have learned to listen to my body more and treat it with respect and love not with punching gloves.

  5. I love the kicks and movements I have been feeling so regularly now and which ALWAYS bring a smile to my face.

  6. I love how D's face lits up every time he sees my belly and kisses it.

  7. I love going to parenting class and learn all about the things I never thought I would experience. I look around the class and think about all the other parents and wonder what their story might be. I have learned not to assume anything because with every pregnancy comes its own story.

  8. I love that the spare room is no longer an empty room. Even during the first months of pregnancy I always looked at it and dreamed of doing it up for Isabella but now that we are actually painting it makes it all so real. I love walking in there night and day and smelling the paint (it's VOC free so it's ok!) and seeing the colour taking shape. The fear of buying for her is not as strong as it used to be and once the paint dries we are so going to go shopping for her cot and dresser and all other things she might need.

Things I will miss about being pregnant:

  1. All of the above of course.

  2. I will miss that sense of security in knowing that my baby is in me and therefore safe. (I am going to have serious separation issues.. I know it!!!)

  3. I will miss this experience because I know that it might be the only time I get to be pregnant. We know that once Isabella is born we won't have to use precautions and that sooner rather than later we will try IVF again to add a brother or a sister to our family. Will it work? Will it fail? Knowing I have a diminished ovarian reserve does not help. The last two (super powerful) IVFs got us 10 and 9 viable eggs respectively so knowing I will the odds are not that great. That's why I need to cherish every moment of this one pregnancy I am experiencing right now. I suppose knowing it might be the only one might be the contributing factor as to why I love being pregnant so much.

  4. I will also miss skipping queues in public restrooms, at the bank and being offered seats etc LOL

Tomorrow we have our routine checkup and this time I want to ask questions so I am writing them all down. D won't come with us as the appointment is just a routine now and at a weird hour. I cannot wait to hear Isabella's heartbeat which is always music to my ears and I hope my weight is still withing the given guidelines for weight gain. I know most hospitals do glucose tests between 24-28 weeks but last time I spoke to my midwife she said that they don't do the glucose tolerance test unless you show signs that you are having issues. They did randomly check my glucose levels and it all looked good plus they do test my urine for sugar at every visit. I trust them to know what they are doing and not to run expensive tests for no good reason. Cannot wait till tomorrow!!

June 17, 2010

I am thinking of you

Given most of the blogs I follow are from ladies in the States I read the blogs with a delay. This morning whilst checking for news from my fellow bloggers I realised what had happened to Alex and my heart just broke for her. After a routine u/s she discovered that her baby had no heartbeat. I have never experience a miscarriage but my heart broke for her nonetheless. After her latest IUI and a previous ectopic pregnancy, this was her turn to be a mom, her time to be pregnant and her time to have the baby she so longed for. I truly believe that life can be so unfair and cruel at times and this is one of those times. I wish I could be there to hold her hand and just being there for her. No one deserves to go through something like this especially after having longed and worked so hard to get pregnant.
I am thinking of you girl today, tomorrow and the next day. I am here if you need to talk and if my blog is too painful for you to read right now I will understand.

June 16, 2010

Letter to my daughter

According to a website I subscribe to, one of the tasks for this week is writing an open letter to my unborn daughter. A letter to cherish and treasure in years to come. Here is my working progress.

Dear Isabella,
you are 23 weeks and 3 days old today and as I type you are happily kicking away. You are such an active baby and I love you for every kick and every movement you make me aware of. I cherish your kicks because they remind me that you are real, you are not just one of my happy dreams. I know you are growing strong and healthy with each day that passes because your kicks are getting stronger and your movements more obvious. Last night daddy got a good kick as he was trying to hear you and said you are definitely going to be a footballer like him! Yesterday you were very quiet until around 10.30 pm when you decided it was party time. I think you enjoyed hearing your dad's voice so much you wanted to show him just how much you missed him during the day.

I tell you all the time how clever you already are. Whenever I am having a tough day in the office or when I am feeling down, you sense it and give me a gentle kick to remind me of what is important in life... YOU. You are truly the sunshine of my life and now you came into my life I cannot imagine my life without you in it. Whenever I look at your pictures I get a new sense of peace that I don't even could exist. You are such a pretty baby, with your cute little nose that, thank God, does not look like mommy's nose and your cute chin and long fingers. You are the most beautiful baby I have ever seen, I cannot wait to see your smile and ear your laugh because that smile will be the most beautiful of smiles and that laugh will be like music to my ears.

Daddy and I are busy preparing your room and we truly hope you will like it as much as we do. We have taken our time in getting started with it but we hope to get it ready for your arrival. We picked a nice baby blue colour to make it bright and light. Within the coming weekends and once the room is ready we are going to buy your cot and all the other things you could possibly need. We hope this room will be your happy place to play in and spend many days discovering every corner and also a safe place for you to feel secure and serene in. You will have the cool morning sunshine to wake up to and be sheltered during the warmer parts of the day. I am sure you will want to change it around once you grow up but for now we hope it suits your personality.

I feel so connected to you my sweet that I am sure once you are born, even if our bodies will no longer be connected, we will still have that amazing bond. I will miss having you inside of me and I will miss being pregnant with you because it's one of the most amazing experiences of my life. We longed for you for a long time my sweet and when you finally came into our lives we were amazed at all the different and amazing experiences we were living. From the first time we saw you on the screen, to the first time we heard your heart beating so strong, to the time we saw what your face looks like, all has been a dream come true. At times I still cannot believe we have been so blessed to have you in our lives and yet when I look at my growing belly and see your movements through my own skin, I know all is real and life is just perfect.

My little sweet you are one loved and wanted baby and we hope you are able to feel all that love. I hope you are able to feel daddy's kisses and cuddles and my gentle strokes, I hope they reassure you that the journey you are on is just beginning and that you have a wonderful life ahead of you. I have so many hopes and dreams for you sweetie pie but mainly I want for you to be happy in your life. I will do my very best to ensure that your childhood is a Happy one filled with laughter and joy. I will try my best to learn nursery rhymes with you so that I am able to sing you lullabies before bedtime and sing along to happy tunes. You seem to like Twinkle Twinkle already even though mummy only knows the first couple of lines.

I am sure you will love daddy telling you stories just as much as I do. They will spark your imagination and your curiosity and inspire you to want to see more than what is just in front of you. Your daddy is one amazing man my sweetie pie and he is so in love with you and cannot wait to hug you in his arms and kiss your rosy cheeks. He wanted you as much as I wanted you and even if he does not feel the bond I feel for having you grow inside of me, I can sense he is already connected to you. I have a feeling you will get along great and you will be his ray of light. His face already lits when he comes in and see my big belly because you are inside of it, he cannot stop kissing it and telling you how much he loves you. I am sure you feel all of his love but I cannot wait for that day in October for when the two of you meet face to face. It's going to be the best day of my life.

Ok, mommy got carried away with her words but when I start talking or writing about you, my little principessa I am not able to stop! I think I could talk about you all day if given the chance. Until next time, keep kicking my sweet angel and keep growing strong and healthy. I love you with all my heart and soul.
Your mommy xxx

June 15, 2010

First parenting class

Last Friday we went to our first parenting class. These classes are complimentary once you register at the hospital I will deliver at. They are ran in the hospital on a Friday afternoon and they last one and half hours. We were running some errands before the appointment, we got paint for Izzy's room and some other D.I.Y. store kind of things and then we decided to go across town to get a new sprinkling system as well. We made it almost on time but we got lost as the hospital part where the lessons are held was deserted. Here Fridays are like Sundays in the western world so it was so quiet and no one was around to ask where to go.

We finally made it our teacher welcomed us by saying :"You are late". Now that was a great start. I could not believe she would say that even if we were 4 minutes late. In this part of the world you are ridiculed for being early and you realised pretty soon that there is no point getting to places early as all you will do is end up waiting. Well this time, we were the fools for being 4 minutes late. Anyway, the class was packed and we got a seat next to this American couple who brought along their cute 5 year old son. There were many nationalities in the class and the set up felt really welcoming. We were sitting on the floor on these gym mats with pillows behind are backs.
The first activity was an eye opener. We all (husbands and wives) got to take one gym ball, you know the big inflatable ones you see in exercise videos. Our teacher explained that by sitting on these balls and doing certain exercises it helps placing the baby in the correct position for labour. It also helps alleviate back pain and it's a more comfortable to sit this than on a chair. She also showed us how to lean on it in order to help with contractions and then she got all our husbands to do lovely massages and then we returned the favour! I was amazed and happy to learn about this tool. She recommended us all to get these balls and start using them daily. (We got ours on Saturday morning!) Read more here.

She then explained about nutrition and the usual food pyramid you see in a lot of pregnancy literature. She did say that pregnant women should take Omega 3 supplements as they help with brain and eye development in babies. I freaked out immediately as I had not taken Omega 3 supplements. How could I have missed this important information? Why didn't I know about it? Of course I do eat fish at least once a week but I am not taking supplements. The next day I went out and got a new pregnancy vitamin supplement that contains both Omega 3 and 6. I started taking them that day and I hope all will be OK.

We have 5 more classes and a hospital tour as well. I saw the list of what to expect from the next classes and there is a good mix of labour management techniques and getting ready for baby too. For classes 4/5/6 we need to bring a baby doll or a teddy bear. Now that should be interesting! I am looking forward to the tour with anticipation as it will give us a great idea of what to expect in terms of rooms and facilities. It'll make the whole experience less scary for when I go back to deliver in October. We are so looking forward to this week's class!

In other news, D painting of the nursery is ongoing. He finished half the room but now needs to apply masking tape to the ceiling so as to avoid splatters and start painting the rest of the walls. I am sure we will get a lot more done during the weekend. I was home all day yesterday as there was an electrical failure and we were left with no electricity at work. So I took advantage and covered the rest of the floor in plastic sheets and went around the house doing touch ups on the walls that had stains from when we moved in. It all looks brand new! I also had the maintenance team come in and fix our ac as we could smell the neighbour's cooking (not too bad of a smell!) but also their cigarette smoke which was irritating and considering we are bringing a baby home in less than 4 months it's dangerous. Our house is looking more like a home as the days go by.... it's a great place to go back to at the end of a working day!

June 13, 2010

D's first Father's Day

Today in Belgium is Father's Day so given D is half Belgian we celebrate Father's Day! I bought him a card from Izzy and of course in the rush to getting to work I forgot to give it to him as planned and wish him happy father's day. (pregnant brain is hitting me hard!!). I called him instead once I got to work and told him that Isabella wanted to wish him Happy Father's Day. He seemed to excited about it and was taken aback when I told him that she wanted to wish happy father's day to the best daddy in the world. He said: "how would she know if I am the best daddy in the world?". He doesn't know it yet but he is already a great dad! He always asks me how his baby girl is doing and how she behaving, he loved hearing her move in the first few months when she was not strong enough for me to feel her move and now that she is strong and has grown so much he loves putting his hands on my belly and feel her strong kicks and movements. He covers Izzy in kisses already. He has even started painting her room yesterday and let me tell you, D is not and has never been a DIY kind of guy, he leaves that stuff to people whose job is to do this types of jobs or me before getting pregnant! Well yesterday he got the room ready and then he got started with the painting. He did such an amazing job already and has managed to do the first coating for half the room. I already know the room is going to look amazing by looking at what he has done so far! I helped with the masking tape and also by holding the ladder when he did the top portions of the ceiling. He is afraid of heights but you could not tell by looking at him yesterday, painting away and getting to those hard to get to places.

You know how some people are born to be parents, well D was born to be a dad. He has those qualities that make him a great dad, he is patient, kind, understanding, generous and easy to talk to. There isn't a day without many I love yous, plenty of kisses and cuddles. Even though Isabella is not born yet, he has started covering her in kisses and cuddling her and telling her how much daddy loves her. I already know that he is going to be the one she will go to to talk about problems and issues because she will know that he won't judge her and will be there for her no matter what. Don't get me wrong, he is not going to be a complete softy, there are things that he will not put up with such as tantrums and bullying of any type but I am sure he will be able to talk things out with her without making a huge fuss. Sometimes I close my eyes and think of that moment when Isabella will be born and D will be holding her for the first time. I tear up every time just thinking about it. That image is going to be one I will cherish for the rest of my life.

When we were TTC and then whilst going through IVF he was the one that kept on making me believe that it was still possible, that one day we will be expecting our baby and get the family we so longed for. He was so involved with the whole IVF process. He learned out to do all of my injections to be part of it and also to accommodate my need not to have to go to a hospital to do the injections. He learned and became a pro in no time. I still remember him being so nervous about mixing the drugs in the right way and injecting it without hurting me. Whenever we had accidents and with the second cycle we had a lot, I could see the pain in his eyes. I reassured him that it was not as bad as it looked but he was so happy the day we did the last injections. D was also with me for both my ERs and from my prospective he had much worst than I did. I was in agony, especially with the second one but I don't remember it, he watched it all and still remembers it very well. When I told him not to look, his reaction was as if I had lost my mind. How could he not look! What if something was going wrong, he had to know to protect me. He prayed and hoped as much as I did for IVF to work and for us to become parents and it was his involvement and the knowledge that he wanted this as much as I did that made this all much easier to fight for.

Happy Father's Day D.... we love you so much xxx

June 9, 2010

Isabella's kicks

Isabella kicks a lot these days and I love it. She has her cycles of kicks. They go something like this:
  1. I eat breakfast and after about 20 minutes the kicking starts;

  2. I have a mid morning snack, bananas and raspberry yogurts are her favourites, and around 30 minutes later she starts kicking away again or moves from one position to the other;

  3. I then I go for lunch and she does not kick straight away. She normally waits until the afternoon snack 2 or 3 pm to really kick and move around loads;

  4. She is quiet for most of the afternoon kicking a little here and there and then when we go home from work she does one or two kicks (I think she can feel how happy I am to be going home!) LOL;

  5. Then after dinner she kicks some more just so that daddy can feel her strong kicks;

  6. I have never been woken up by her but once when we had a late night out I found she could not settle and was kicking away whilst I was trying to sleep.

Such a routine loving baby just like her mommy... I wonder if once she is born she will be the same or she will start rebelling and stay up all night and hate mornings like her daddy. Only time will tell but so far I am enjoying her timely kicks and movements. D used to be able to hear her movements by putting his ear to my belly but now he can just put his hand there and feel her strong kicks or see how she is moving around even from the outside.

In other news I am so looking forward to spending the weekend with D! It's been 4 weeks since we had a weekend together so this one is going to be super special. We want to go get the paint we have chosen and D said he will start painting. I prepared the room but still need to take the curtains down so that he can paint away. It's such a shame I won't be able to join in the fun but only watch from afar but I know it needs to get done so I won't complain. I also learned that our much loved pram which is still on its way will come all the way from New Zealand! I knew Phil & Teds is from New Zealand but I didn't know our pram would come directly from there! When I told D all he said was: "couldn't you buy it from somewhere closer?" I have said.. I didn't know! LOL

On Friday at 4.30 we have our first parenting class. I cannot wait to see what it's like! They are meant to be informative and teach you techniques for labour and also tell us about the hospital's policy on pain management. The midwife asked me if I wanted an elective C-section as she mentioned that a few IVF ladies she has seen in the past wanted that. I don't want a C-section unless it's necessary and I will leave that to the doctor to decide. I do want pain management drugs and I do want to learn more about their side effects on me and the baby also. She mentioned that with some drugs you might have issue if you want to breast feed so I would definitely want to know more. D is also super excited to go we and both hope it will be informative and fun also!

Friday is also the start of the World Cup and we cannot wait! We are big football (soccer) fans and cannot wait for it to get started. We will support Italy (my country) and Greece (D's half Greek) as Belgium did not make it. We were meant to go to South Africa to watch some matches but when when we found out I was pregnant we decided to cancel and I am glad we did. I could not see myself going from game to game and of course I cannot travel so that's out of the question. We will watch it from the comfort of our living room and we plan on having friends over for some of the matches too for pizza and beer nights. Should be GREAT fun!

June 6, 2010

Feeling great!

Today I am 22 weeks which means I have completed my 5th month of pregnancy(right? I cannot figure this out at all!). I cannot believe I am 22 weeks pregnant. Where did time go? Next month and by coincidence the day after my 30th birthday, I will enter the third trimester. Wow, that's mind blowing to me. I cannot believe it's going so fast. The years of waiting to get pregnant were so slow as if time stopped. Since getting pregnant it's as if time wants to catch up with us!

This morning whilst doing my mediation exercise I had one of those deep thinking moments. You know the ones when you really think and I mean really really think about what's happening in my body and I just get blown away. I am growing a little person inside my body. I got the same "my mind will explode" feeling I get when I think of the universe... It's just so incredible to think that inside of me there is a little person who is growing and developing who, God willing - please let it all be ok, will come out in October and be her own independent little person. All I can say to that is.. incredible, amazing, unbelievable and even supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!! Life is just incredible.

In other news, D's brother got married yesterday but as the wedding was in Belgium and I cannot fly D went and we stayed. He left Friday morning and will be back tonight at 8. He said it was a beautiful day and that he will fill me in on all the details tonight. I cannot wait! Yesterday was also my dad's 61st birthday and I so wished I was there to celebrate it. Last year we all gathered in their house for a BIG 60th celebrations. He sounded really happy as he was with friends and he said he didn't want anything but to hold his granddaughter in October... made me cry! Anyway, as I had another weekend alone I decided to have a "Let's not do anything Friday" (here our weekends are Fridays and Saturdays and the working week starts on Sundays). I took D to the airport than got back and went straight to bed. I read a whole book in one day. I have never done this before and it was fun.

Yesterday I had the new cleaning company coming to the house to clean from 9 till 11 am. Unlike our previous arrangement in this one the cleaning ladies are dropped off at our house and they are picked up at the end of their shift. They also have our key so they can let themselves in if we are not here or if we are sleeping. I was happy with the standard I saw yesterday and it was so much less hassle for me. I went to get lunch out and then I went swimming. I put on my bathing suit and went. I was glad to see it still fits and the top part still covers most of my bump. I don't mind flaunting my bump but I tend to burn and this seemed like the perfect option. I am happy to say my bump is still stretch marks free but my legs.. oh my thighs and ass have doubled in size! Oh well, I don't care. I went in the pool and loved it. I did a couple of laps and then I floated in the water. I loved how I felt so light in the water and movement came really easy. Isabella loved it too. I could feel her kick in there after I came out. I think she wanted more! I have also started doing some antenatal yoga. I bought a DVD as all the classes are during the day! It's very good but a bit too quick. I am sure after I get used to it and learn the moves I will feel the benefit.

Tonight D comes back at 8 pm and I am literally counting down the hours! I keep checking his flight to see if he will be on time even though I know it's a useless exercise as I am always early. I have a new airport routine. I always get a hot chocolate whilst I wait and sometimes I buy a muffin as well, then I get my book or trashy mag out and read until D's flight lands. It's the only way I don't stare at all the weirdos that circulate in the airport! I am glad this is his last scheduled trip for the year. I am so happy that from now on he will be home with us. I miss him so much when he is gone that when he is back I never leave his side. After 10 years together that is pretty sad but what can I do... I am in love!

June 2, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

(what is that outside our garden??)

June 1, 2010

National Aphasia Awareness Month - June 2010

This month is National Aphasia Awareness Month. Aphasia, as described on the NAA's website, is an acquired communication disorder that impairs a person's ability to process language, but does not affect intelligence. Aphasia impairs the ability to speak and understand others, and most people with aphasia experience difficulty reading and writing. Millions of people around the world are effected by Aphasia and yet so very few know what Aphasia is or fail to recognise a person as aphasic. Last year in the UK a man who was later found to be suffering from a stroke was institutionalised and treated for mental illness after he suffered from a sudden inability to speak. Imagine being that man. Imagine being able to understand everything that is going on around you but not being able to speak or write. That man could have been my dad, it could have been anyone you know. That's why it is so essential people are aware of Aphasia and the effect it has on a person.

The majority of people suffer from Aphasia as a result of a stroke but it can also be the result of a head injury, brain tumor or other neurological causes. You cannot generalise Aphasia as there are so many different forms of it and you might never find two people with the same level. NAA describes the following as the main types of aphasia, the names of which are often derived from the area of the brain effected by the stroke or head injury:

Global aphasia: This is the most severe form of aphasia, and is applied to patients who can produce few recognizable words and understand little or no spoken language. Global aphasics can neither read nor write. Global aphasia may often be seen immediately after the patient has suffered a stroke and it may rapidly improve if the damage has not been too extensive. However, with greater brain damage, severe and lasting disability may result.

Broca's aphasia ('non-fluent aphasia'): In this form of aphasia, speech output is severely reduced and is limited mainly to short utterances of less than four words. Vocabulary access is limited and the formation of sounds by persons with Broca's aphasia is often laborious and clumsy. The person may understand speech relatively well and be able to read, but be limited in writing. Broca's aphasia is often referred to as a 'non fluent aphasia' because of the halting and effortful quality of speech.

Mixed non-fluent aphasia:This term is applied to patients who have sparse and effortful speech, resembling severe Broca's aphasia. However, unlike persons with Broca's aphasia, they remain limited in their comprehension of speech and do not read or write beyond an elementary level.

Wernicke's aphasia ('fluent aphasia'): In this form of aphasia the ability to grasp the meaning of spoken words is chiefly impaired, while the ease of producing connected speech is not much affected. Therefore Wernicke's aphasia is referred to as a 'fluent aphasia.' However, speech is far from normal. Sentences do not hang together and irrelevant words intrude-sometimes to the point of jargon, in severe cases. Reading and writing are often severely impaired.

My dad suffers from a form of Broca's aphasia. Immediately after his stroke, on Easter Sunday 2008, he was seen by a speech therapist in order to identify to what extent his speech had been affected and in order to start speech therapy. My dad spoke with his eyes at first and it was through his eyes that we were able to know that my dad was still in there. We had doubts at first but with time we were able to realise that he truly was in there. One advise that I held on from the very beginning was not to compare my dad's aphasia to other's. Being optimistic is a great medicine but being overly so can be crushing for the person going through it and for his/her family too. There are several guidelines that aid in gathering a general understanding on how to communicate with a person with aphasia, the most complete is found on the NAA's website. Here are the main points from my own experience with my dad:

  1. Allow time for communication, don't rush for answers, fire away too many questions or cut in the middle of a sentence;

  2. Make sure there are no other distractions. I found that if my dad is in an environment with a lot of noise or people around him his attention is not as it normally is and his communication levels suffer as a result;

  3. Praise every effort and encourage him to carry on. It must be so frustrating to spend a good 5 minutes trying to say what you are thinking so when the sentence is finally done it feels like a big achievement;

  4. Remind him of how he used to be straight after the stroke(head injury etch) and how far he has come now;

  5. Don't make references to how he used to be before the stroke because that's not a fair comparison. Focus on the here and now;

  6. Most importantly treat and speak to your loved one as you used to. He has not lost his intellect through aphasia. He is still the same intelligent person he used to be. Don't treat him otherwise.

There are no known cures for aphasia and the process to reestablish communication are difficult and lengthy. The main tool that can aid aphasia recovery is speech therapy. There are centers specialised in aphasia all over the world but spaces are often limited and the length of your therapy depends on availability. My dad is lucky to have found a great center that has allowed him speech and group therapy every day for the last year but as I have said he is one of the lucky few and more funding is needed in this area in order to allow the same opportunity to everyone who needs it.

It is also essential to know that aphasia can effect anyone, young or old, female or male, of whichever nationality. Shortly after my dad's stroke I started a facebook page called Aphasia Awareness and which has grown from only a few members to 441 members today. We have people from everywhere writing about their own personal experience with aphasia or others like me who need advice on a loved on. Most of the stories are truly inspirational, one in particular is the story of Sarah who had a stroke at the age of 18 and who has aphasia as a result of the stroke. Through her own determination together with the help of speech therapy and a great support system around her she is making terrific progress. Her mom is a member of the Aphasia Awareness group on facebook and I believe she is a truly inspirational woman. Her positive attitude and fighting spirit are just admirable. They have created a YouTube video of Sarah in order to spread stroke awareness and aphasia. Here is the link in case you want to see what amazing progress Sarah is making.

Last year during the month of June I raised awareness through my facebook page and also raised money in order to buy a camcorder for my dad's center. They use the camcorder to record one on one sessions as well as group session and later being able to see what progress has been made and also from the teacher's prospective identify areas of improvement. This year I have no energy so I will have to raise awareness mainly online and this is my first attempt.

If you want to know more about aphasia go to te NAA's website where you will find many links and useful information. It also contains links and advice in other languages. I hope this helps.