Tuesday, 8 March 2016

When a pregnancy is ‘overdue’

The hospital bags are packed and we’re ready to go.  But we’re still waiting for our baby to appear.  I’m now 8 days overdue. 

2016-03-08 09.26.28

I’ve been getting a lot of painless contractions, some quite strong and uncomfortable, but they don’t stay regular for very long, and they don’t develop into full-on labour.  This stage is sometimes called pre-labour, but it doesn’t necessarily progress uninterrupted into labour. 

It has been hard to wait, my hopes rising with regular contractions, only to have them fade.  I’m thankful that I feel the baby moving often, reassuring me that everything is still okay.  I have been trying to be patient, but it gets harder the longer we wait. 

I wanted to write about some things that I think are helpful for friends and family to do when someone they love is experiencing an overdue pregnancy.  This is also for my own benefit, for future reference if my friends go overdue. 

I’m introverted, and happy to spend time at home alone, but at some point you run out of things to do.  I think even the most introverted person would appreciate a visit once they’ve gone overdue.  It’s boring sitting at home waiting.  You’ve been on alert for three weeks already and nothing has happened. 

I’ve had my parents visiting for the past week, which has been helpful in a number of ways.  Before they arrived I felt a bit like I had cabin fever.  But now we’ve all been waiting together for a week, which isn’t as bad as waiting alone, but it’s still waiting.  It has been nice for me to see some other people too.  This would be even more important for those who don’t have parents around to help, or a community around them for support. 

Don’t say “still”
Some people have exclaimed things like “you’re still here!” or “you’re still pregnant!”.  We all know that she’s still pregnant, you don’t need to tell her.  You can use the word ‘still’ of course, what I really mean is try not to make too much of the fact that she’s overdue.  The baby will come when the baby and the body are ready, and it’s harder to tell yourself this when everyone exclaims over the fact that you’re overdue.  I know that people mean well, and they are trying to be sympathetic, but hearing the same thing from everyone is wearing.  Others might keep asking “has the baby come yet?”  This is similarly wearing I imagine, but I haven’t experienced this question much.  We will tell you when the baby comes, never fear!

Instead, you can ask other things about the pregnancy or baby-preparation.  How are your swollen feet?  Have you chosen an outfit to bring baby home in?  What did you do today?  Be creative and start a conversation rather than making a statement. 

Let her know you’re thinking of her
I have one friend in particular who has been wonderful in remembering my dates or significant appointments and texting me that she is praying for me.  It’s lovely to get a message out of the blue and know that someone is thinking of you, and even better if they have remembered something about you.  I think this is actually a good life-skill in general, everyone likes to be thought of and remembered!  I’ve been encouraged by my friend to do this in any situation. 

Other tips?
Maybe you’ve experienced an overdue pregnancy.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on what’s helpful in this time. 

Questions from a soon-to-be new mum

During probably the last trimester of pregnancy I found myself wondering how we’re going to look after our baby.  We know next to nothing about looking after a baby!  I had lots of questions bouncing around in my head, but haven’t been very sure of where to look for answers.  

Maybe you’ve been there and find some of these questions familiar.  Or maybe you have also wondered these things as you are preparing for a baby.  Here are some of the questions I’ve had and how they have been answered, I hope someone finds them helpful. 

Who teaches you to change a nappy?
The antenatal class was where we learnt how to change a nappy.  It was on a doll though, which I’m sure is much easier than on a real baby.  The midwife teaching the class told us that we would be taught how to do this again once our baby had been born.

How does a swaddle work?
Swaddles help the baby to feel cosy by tucking their limbs in against their body.  This is a familiar feeling for the baby, because they were pretty tight while in the womb, and it can help relax them.  Two techniques for this were taught at the antenatal class (and we were also reassured that we’d be taught again once the baby arrived). 

When should a baby use a dummy/soother?
It’s recommended that you don’t use a dummy in the first six weeks of life.  If you want to breastfeed your baby (and this is the best-for-baby, best-for-mum, best-for-the-bank account option) then you don’t want to confuse the baby.  Both mum and baby have to learn how to breastfeed, and the baby feeding helps to increase the mother’s supply of milk.  If the baby is sucking on something else then the mother’s body is not being encouraged to produce milk, and the baby gets confused about how to suck for milk. 

2016-03-08 09.28.04

Should the baby sleep in my room or a different room?
This comes down to preference really.  Apparently when I was born I spent one week in my parents room before I was kicked out for being too noisy.  I may have got my own room before I got my own name!  Some mums I’ve spoken to have said that they like the reassurance of having the baby in their room, particularly in a cot or bassinet next to the bed where they don’t even have to get out of bed to check how the baby is going.

Edit: Actually, I was wrong.  The recommendation is to sleep the baby in the parents’ room for at least the first six months, even up to 12 months.  This lowers the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).  Recommendations were different when I was a baby of course, but now midwives are adamant that the baby should sleep in our room.

Do I need a post-partum girdle, and where can I buy one?
A post-partum girdle is like a wrap support for your stomach, to help hold everything together after the baby is out and everything’s floppy!  My GP told me that I would only need one if my abdominal muscles have significantly separated.  If this happens then the hospital will loan me a girdle to use, to help the muscles come back together again.  Usually, the abdominal muscles will come back together on their own by about 6 weeks.  Despite this, I’ve wondering about using one anyway, just to help things along. 

What forms (if any) do I need to bring to the hospital for after the baby is born?
As far as I’m aware, in Australia we don’t need to bring anything of this sort of thing. Of course you would bring your pregnancy record card and some form of identification like a drivers licence, but I think that’s it.  I’ll update this if we discover the answer is something different. I think once the baby is born the hospital gives you a bunch of forms!  One of these in particular (I think it's the orange one?) is what needs to be shown to Centrelink if you are hoping to get monetary support from the government for your baby. 
If there are forms we need to bring, I can always send J home to get them after the baby is born!

I’m sure there’s more questions I’ve had along the way but these are the ones that I remembered to write down.  I hope other new mums might find this helpful. 

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Disappointingly Present

I don’t think pregnant women should be told they could give birth any time from 37 weeks pregnant to 41 weeks pregnant.  It creates this expectation from 37 weeks that labour could begin any time.  By the time you get to your due date at 40 weeks you’ve been in a state of expectation for three weeks and you don’t want to wait any longer.  Well at least, that’s how I’m feeling!

The reality is that most first pregnancies don’t happen early (before the due date).  And they do tell you this, but you hope to be early anyway.  They’ve given you a four to five week window and the due date isn’t right in the middle, so you’d think your chances of being early are greater. 

But I’ve discovered that this expectation in the pregnant mother’s mind doesn’t just come from medical professionals.  It’s from other people around you too.  It’s like everyone is expecting that you’ll give birth before or on your due date because as that date gets closer people remark on the fact that you’re still pregnant. 

Now that I’ve gone over my due date (by only one day mind you!) I feel like I’m disappointing people when I turn up to events, or pick up the phone, or respond to a text message.  I understand this.  I’m disappointed too that I haven’t gone into labour yet.  But this started before I even reached my due date. 

I think it’s probably more likely that my family and friends are just excited about the impending birth and any sign that it’s happening (e.g. I don’t answer my phone).  Perhaps they don’t remember exactly when I’m due but they know I’m really pregnant and it could happen any time! 

2016-03-01 03.59.29

I didn’t think I’d get to my due date, I thought the baby would come early.  But I find myself here, still waiting and wondering why I expected this when I was told that first pregnancies are usually late.  Why did I think I would be one of the minority? 

Maybe it’s the words “due date”.  For everything else in life a due date is the last date possible.  The milk has a due date and you usually wouldn’t drink it after that date has passed!  But it seems that a pregnancy due date (technically called “Expected Date of Delivery”) is just a ball-park date.  Babies can’t be relied upon to be on time!  I knew this, which is why I wasn’t too worried about having February 29th as our due date.  But there’s still something disappointing about going “overdue”. 

So I was thinking that maybe doctors should change the way they talk about when a baby could be born.  They should tell you that it’s fine if the baby is born at 37 weeks, they’re developed enough to thrive.  But calling this “full term” invites expectation and disappointment for too long. 

I don’t think I’m going to change the way medical staff talk to pregnant women just because of my disappointments!  I write this in the hope that I can help other pregnant women handle their expectations, and that I can remember to be sensitive to those who may in future go over their due date in pregnancy.  The baby will come when the baby is ready and that’s probably for the best. 

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Escaping the Hot Weather

Here we are at 39 weeks and three days, still waiting.  It’s going to be 38 degrees today and I’ve been trying to come up with creative ways of keeping cool at home (we don’t have an air-conditioner).  I’ve thought about putting a wet towel over the fan, and sticking my feet in a bucket of water, but that’s about it.  Of course, drinking lots of ice water should also be part of the plan. 

There was also the option of going to the local library to sit in their air-conditioning.  Or the shopping centre, but that would involve a lot more walking rather than sitting.  And I wasn’t sure that I wanted to get into the hot car to drive somewhere. 

One of my neighbour friends messaged me this morning to invite me out to the movies, which was something we had talked about earlier in the week as a way of escaping today’s heat.  So at least half the day I’ll be somewhere cool.

We’re going to see “How to be Single”, which is a comedy that has come out recently.  Hopefully the endorphins from laughing will do some good for my waiting!

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

The Awkward Friend

Some people are brilliant conversationalists.  They know exactly what to say when they meet new people, and always know how to keep a conversation flowing, even with people they already know (and have conceivably exhausted the get-to-know-you topics). 

I am not one of these people.  I don’t often enjoy meeting new people because I can never think of what to talk to them about.  When it comes to a lull in the conversation with friends I feel awkward and unsure about what happens next.  (Of course, there are some friends with whom you can easily sit in silence with and it’s not awkward at all, but that’s a special kind of friendship.) 

I found myself wondering if other people have picked up on my awkwardness and therefore find it harder to be friends with me or to talk to me.  Am I missing out on social opportunities because of my awkwardness?  Am I lowered on friends’ preference lists?  But I was reminded of something that I learnt in a college Ministry and Mission class.  If you want a friend, be a friend. 

And as I chatted with J about this topic I remembered a conversations with a friend where she expressed similar feelings of awkwardness in conversations, but I don’t remember ever thinking that she was an awkward person, or feeling uncomfortable talking to her.  So maybe my awkwardness is just something I feel and not something others see.  Or maybe we’re all a little bit awkward in conversational lulls and blame ourselves, without realising that the other person may be feeling the same way.  

But even so, I would like to work on my conversation skills, to not feel awkward or make others feel awkward.  And I think this will mean taking more opportunities to talk to people.  If you want a friend, be a friend.  I hope I can make some more friends in the process. 

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Thankful Thursday

I thought I’d try to get back into blogging while I still can.  I’m now 37 weeks pregnant, which is called full-term, and the baby could be born any time now (though they say most first babies don’t arrive early).  So here are some of the things I am thankful for this week:

Making it to full-term
Whenever anything seemed abnormal in our pregnancy I got worried about the baby’s safety.  I’m so glad that we’ve reached full-term now and the baby can be born with minimal complications.  Now it’s just a waiting game!

Skills to make gifts
We went to a one year old’s birthday party on the weekend and I made her some crochet shoes (oops, I should have taken a picture).  I have often loved receiving handmade gifts from people and I love being able to do the same.  At the moment, it’s also easier for me to make a gift than walk around the shops trying to find something, so that’s a double win there.  I’m thankful for the brain that God gave me to be able to learn skills such as crochet, and hands with the ability to do such things. 

My husband
This week I’ve had swollen feet, a sore back, tired limbs and J has been wonderful to me through it all.  He massaged my feet and back, let me sit when I needed to and took over things such as the dishes so I could rest.  As my capacity to do things has decreased J has stepped up, even at a time when he’s gearing up to start college in less than two weeks and has a lot of work to do before that.  I’m so thankful for his love and care for me, now more than ever. 

What are you thankful for this week?

That time I was too worried to bring my phone

J and I went to the beach yesterday.  I’ve been wanting to go for a swim while pregnant to see if it felt different, and yesterday we finally got around to going.  But I was worried about leaving our things on the beach while we were in the water.  How do we keep our things safe?  How does anyone keep their things safe on the beach?  My mind ran through scenarios of losing our phones, car keys, bank card, transport card. 

So we didn’t bring a lot of those things.  I think J thought I was being paranoid, but he went along with my fears, what a lovely husband.  We brought cash, transport cards and one set of keys.  On one hand, it makes me really sad that I didn’t feel safe enough to leave things on the beach, afraid that someone would steal them.  But on the other hand, I didn’t want to take the risk.

Once we got to the beach and saw the number of people around, how close people were packed (beaches in Sydney are packed!), I relaxed a bit.  I didn’t even use my back-up plan of further hiding/disguising my valuables.  Surely all these people also had valuables and weren’t worried about them being stolen.  Maybe there’s some sort of beach etiquette of not stealing (J called it general etiquette, he’s right). 

We had a lovely time and I was able to relax in the water without worrying too much about our bags.  We could see them from where we were in the water (well J could and he gave me occasional updates, I wasn’t wearing my glasses in the water).  I found swimming while pregnant wasn’t hugely different than swimming not-pregnant.  Mind you, I haven’t been swimming in a while.  Doing a star float on my back was lovely since I haven’t been able to lie on my back in months.  But I had to commit to it, ears in the water and all.  If I tried to keep my head up that engaged my abdominals, which weren’t too happy about being used. 

We’re not very good at taking photos of what we’re doing anyway, but we’re a bit better when there’s an actual occasion to photograph.  I’m a bit sad that since we didn’t bring our phones we have no photos to show you of our time at the beach.  So here’s us at a different beach:

2015-02-06 09.19.19  2015-02-06 09.19.37

Saturday, 6 February 2016

The Second Room

The second room in our house began as our study.  I spent my first year of college trying to not get distracted from homework in that room.  In our second and third years of college the second room was mostly used for storage and playing computer games.  When friends or family came to stay with us, they would sleep on a foam mattress on the floor in this room, wedged between the storage wardrobe and the hastily cleaned desk.  

To prepare the room for the baby we moved the giant desk out, shifted the bookshelf, constructed the cot and hung a few things.  The desk is now in the communal studies and J will use it there.  We left the desktop computer in our second room, in the corner on top of a set of desk drawers.  Not sure how often this will get used, not at all while it still doesn't work!

I’m a little bit bummed that I didn't take any ‘before’ photos of our second room.  It really was a mess!  We did a lot of throwing out and reorganising to make space for the baby.  But here are the ‘after’ photos (or at least the corner of it that is the nursery).

This is the first view you get of the room, from the doorway.  We were given the cot for free from friends who have graduated from college and used to live in our college community.  We also got the drawers and change table for free from a friend of a friend. 

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A friend crocheted the baby bunting as a gift and I love the grey chevron cot sheet, which was also a baby shower gift.  Sitting in the corner of the cot is Rachelle the Rabbit, which I knitted from a kit that my mum found and gave to me for Christmas.  It’s so rare to find something that has my name spelt correctly, so this was a very exciting find.  I’m glad I was able to finish knitting sewing her together before the baby arrived. 


This mobile was made by a lovely friend of mine as a baby shower gift.  I love it.  We hung it from the ceiling using two stick-on hooks in opposite directions which has worked well.  The drawing of the daffodils on the left was a gift from my sister, and the frame on the right has the fingerprints of everyone who came to celebrate at my baby showers (two colours for two cities).  My sister drew the umbrella in that picture. 

Unfortunately, this frame has since fallen off the wall.  Becuase we rent we can’t put holes in the wall, so I use sticky hooks or ‘velcro’ hangers (I don’t know what else to call them, but it’s not exactly velcro, they are the 3M Command brand, and they and wonderful for this sort of thing!).  Actually not so wonderful in this case.  As you can see the wall is a bit textured, which may have meant the hook didn’t stick so well.  The hook also said it could hold up to 2.2kg and the frame was 2kg.  I’m hoping that going up a size will mean I can re-hang this frame. 

Well there it is.  The baby won’t sleep in here until they’re a bit bigger, but we needed the space set up for changing nappies and storing the baby’s clothes.  A big thank you to everyone who has given us gifts to help prepare for baby’s arrival.  On Monday I’ll be 37 weeks pregnant (full-term) and we’re so excited to meet our little baby. 

Friday, 25 December 2015

Christmas time

Not everyone enjoys Christmas time.  There are a variety of reasons for this.  Stress (have you seen Aldi's Christmas ad this year?), grief over lost loved ones, disappointment that the family get-together didn't include reconciliation.  I'm sure there are many more.

And it's only made worse by those Christmas songs that call this "the most wonderful time of the year".  Those who don't find it wonderful feel pressure to enjoy this season, but it seems in the act of trying the joy slips out of reach.

We think we should be happy at Christmas time.  We should enjoy time with our friends and family and good food.  And these are right and good desires.  That's why it hurts so much when they're not fulfilled.

But I think it's okay to have a good Christmas without these things.  It's possible to have a good Christmas without these things.  Because there are a number of things that we think Christmas is about that are actually wrong.

Christmas is not about your happiness.
Christmas is not about family.
Christmas is not about food, or presents, or generosity, or friendship.

Christmas is about Christ.

That little baby, whom God sent into the world as a gift.  For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that whoever believes in him shall not die, but have eternal life (John 3:16).

Christmas is about Jesus.  But you can't understand the gift if you only look at the baby in the manger.  Take a look at Jesus' life, what he did when he grew up, how he died, and what happened next.

When we understand the gift God gave the world at Christmas time, we see that to truly enjoy Christmas is to receive this gift and thank God for it.  So go and check out God's gift, you might be surprised.