Wednesday, 10 August 2005

50 reasons to be glad you are pregnant

It could be the glorious 2nd trimester kicking in or it could also be helping someone else deal with their pains but I feel more upbeat about myself --- and also stopping to take stock and count my blessings.
Not in any juice to be creative now but BabyCentreUK has a list of 50 reasons to celebrate pregnancy so I thought it'd be fun to remind mums-to-be (including myself) out there that this IS a time to celebrate!
P/S After looking at some of the reasons below, it got me thinking about more serious stuff i.e. maternity benefits and also employment during pregnancy. Hmm...

50 reasons to be glad you’re pregnantWe all have moments when we think, 'Never again!' during pregnancy: perhaps morning sickness is making you miserable or you're 10 days overdue with not even a hint of a contraction. To remind you that being pregnant can be fun, we've rounded up some of the nice things about being an expectant mum. 

And why not share the things that have made pregnancy wonderful for you — just scroll down to the parents' tips box, below. 

1 Relishing the early weeks when only you and your partner know your special secret. [yes, this was pretty fun]

2 Knowing you've got nine whole months to plan, dream and fantasise[we've been doing this also but also fraught with worries. Hey, this is a first time for us ok!]

3 Choosing maternity clothes — they've never been more practical or more sexy. [Uh, practical yes, sexy, not yet]
4 Now you've got the perfect excuse to pamper yourself — spending hours in a scented bath, enjoying a massage or rubbing soothing lotions into your growing bump. [Yes!]
Maternity rights in the UK are getting better all the time. Now (from April 2003), new mothers get six weeks on 90 per cent of their pay, followed by 20 weeks at £100 per week. For those with more than a year in service at work, there are an extra 26 weeks of unpaid leave available. [We Malaysians are still a few steps behind our sisters in advanced countries as our maternity leave is less than 90 days recommended by the Intl' Labor Organization. Check out ClearingHouseatColumbiaU and UNDP

6 You can join an 
antenatal class and find a whole new bunch of friends (and don't forget our BabyCentre birth clubs -- another great way to meet people due at the same time as you). [Once I get my act together, we're gonna sign up for one soon. Can't wait to meet other first timers too =)

7 For once in your life you need to get heavier — pregnancy is Nature's way of making you feel good about putting on weight. [Oh, yes, nobody frowns or questions you if you're nibbling a plate of choc chip cookies or even dare ask for a piece! tsk, tsk...selfish mum?] 

8 If this is your first baby, enjoy the next nine months sleeping late at weekends -- you won't get many chances later on. [I have to admit another nice perk]

9 At last you've got the bosom you've always wanted, which means you also have... [ comments on this]

10 ...a great excuse to buy lots of pretty new bras. [True for some people I know]

11 From now on and until your baby is a year old, you can get free dental treatment — phone your dentist now! [I don't think this applies to us here either]

12 At last you'll have something more than potplants and cats to care for and nurture! [Aiyo...should I share that all my potplants have died slow, painful, parched deaths??]

13 Suddenly you'll find you're getting lots of extra attention from parents, aunts and uncles -- not to mention your partner. [Yes, this is true though I've not been very good company to anyone actually. And that's because the nausea sort of discourages u to talk and that's really odd for a chatterbox like me! Please if u see me with hardly a word, it wasn't me!]
 14 You may find you develop a closer relationship with sisters, cousins or friends who are parents themselves -- congratulations, you've just won free admission to the parents' club! [I'm extremely thankful to my ex-colleague who has been a great blessing to me. She was very excited at my news and has been a wonderful listening ear, gentle advisor and altogether a truly great friend! And now, this blessed lady is givine me 3 bags of her maternitywear on loan...great savings for me since I'm looking at unemployment for many months down the road]
15 Telling your mum, dad, sister, brother, aunt, dog the good news and watching their faces light up. [This has been hilarious/peculiar for us since in Asian culture, people are more cautious when you're still in the 1st trimester but I totally understand this since we're cautious ourselves too]
16 New talents! Whether it's knitting bootees or assembling a flat-pack cot, you'll suddenly find yourself trying out all sorts of new skills. [Uh, not yet! Another pantang-larang (taboo) for us before the 7th month, if I'm not wrong i.e. only look for baby stuff later]
17 Suddenly you'll feel a new appreciation for your own mother and all she went through having you. [This is definitely a new discovery alright and a refreshing look at my mum]

18 Decorating the nursery -- one of the most exciting things you'll ever do. [Soon, baby, soon]
19 Feeling those first fluttering kicks and thinking, 'Is that what I think it is? Or is it just wind?' [One of my co-workers in her 5th month actually giggles when that happens coz it's ticklish. I felt a flutter once and I found it weird! Where, oh, where is my mothering instinct?]
20 Feeling OK for sending your partner out for chicken tikka masala followed by double-choc chip ice cream. [Nolah, the poor guy has enough to do without these weird demands. But he's been putting on some weight eating most of my leftovers!]
21 Your parents digging out your old cot or pram, which they've kept safely all this time 'just in case'. [Uh, definitely not, since they sort of gave up that we're EVER going to settle down and have kids. Of course they knew about the thyroid problem so the news was quite a pleasant surprise. I just wonder if my old granny knows about it yet...she thought I had twins when I told her about someone else]
22 Going for healthy walks with your partner and getting fresh air in your lungs because it's good for you and good for your baby. [We'll do this when the 5th month comes along]

23 Enjoying the 
extra-vivid dreams you get in late pregnancy — and laughing about them with your friends. [I've actually been having some seriously weird dreams so not sure if these are the same ones?]

26 Writing a pregnancy diary for your baby to read in the future. [Yeah, we've been keeping one of those and also a scrapbook of the ultrasound scans. We're due to see the doc in 2 weeks and hope to be able to know what 'IT' is!]
27 Getting someone to take photos of you smiling over your enormous bump so that, one day, you can look back and be amazed you were ever that size. [Oh, I can assure you that R has been having a lot of fun doing this]
28 Finding out how many people there are out there ready to care for you -- doctors, nurses, midwives, health visitors, breastfeeding counsellors... [So far, one doc and his bevy of nurses]
29 Lying in bed with your partner's arms around you and your bump, knowing that love has created a new life. [Yes, another blessing to be thankful for is my dear, dear hubby!]
30 Enjoying indulgences, such as evenings out, weekends away and anything else you might not be able to do so easily once the baby arrives. [Oh, we're looking forward to one of this soon alright]
31 Knowing that from now on, whatever happens, you'll never be bored again. [Yes, we talk about it every time we see anyone with kids. You might think I'm nuts but I actually think it'd be fun to have 2-3 kids becoz they're fun to watch during their interaction with each other - even Lynette's twins on "Desperate Housewives"]
32 Making new friends whenever you go shopping — everyone has a pregnancy story to share. [Not really coz most of the ppl I've met so far are as equally grumpy as I am! ha ha beware the pregnant lady!] 
33 You can spend whole evenings debating whether to call your baby Hermione or Cleo
patra, Fritz or Stanley... (don't forget to try our BabyCentre baby namer if you get stuck!) [Yeah, I've got Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Britney, Shania, Jose, Roberto Carlos suggested by SOMEONE...]

34 Imagining what he or she will look like. Your sweet little ears, of course, and his sexy eyes! [Lots of inside jokes and cracks about this! Sorry, cannot postlah]
35 Dreaming about, "My daughter the prime minister/pop star/brain surgeon." [Uh, no, no visions of grandeur yet...]
36 Looking at your growing bump in the mirror and realising there's a person in there! [Oh, no, we realized when we saw the last ultrasound]
37 Making out a squirmy outline on the ultrasound monitor. Asking for the pic to take home and pinning it up next to your work station, or just keeping it in your bag to sneak looks at. [I've been meaning to show them to co-workers but I just keep forgetting. Will do that soon...]

38 The expression on your partner's face as he sees the test strip turn blue, looks at your growing bump or feels the baby kicking. [Let's not go back to that episode]
And all these other perks to come later...
24 Feeling a little pair of heels prodding under your diaphragm and knowing you'll soon be meeting the little person they belong to!

25 Choosing baby clothes — or just phoning round for all the catalogues, leafing through them and planning what you're going to buy.

***Hey, what happened to 26-38???***
39 Buying that first little cuddly toy for your baby, not somebody else's.
40 Making that phone call to your partner to tell him that — we're off! — labour has started

41 Trying out all those exercises you learned at 
antenatal class and finding out that they actually work! 

42 Being held and supported throughout a contraction by your partner/midwife/labour companion and knowing that you can trust them totally.
43 Finding out, as the contractions get tough, that your repertoire of swear words is far more extensive than you ever realised!
44 Making an informed choice about pain relief and finding that it's right for you at that stage in labour

45 That huge rush of pleasure and relief when, suddenly, all the pain and effort stops.
46 Looking into your newborn's eyes and falling utterly in love.

47 Watching your partner kiss the midwife, the doctor, cleaning lady, delivery man and anyone else he can find because his joy and pride are overwhelming.

48 Opening a bottle of bubbly to celebrate, whatever the time of day or night.

49 Making all those phone calls to announce the arrival. Telling everyone the news and hearing the excitement in their voices.

50 Waking up to see your baby sleeping next to you and thinking, 'Wow! This is real. I'm a mum!'

Monday, 8 August 2005

Week 15 – Hunt for the Chinese Confinement Lady

When one of my close friends found out about the pregnancy, she suggested that I start my search for the confinement lady (or CL) soon. I remembered her own search for this Very Important Person herself last year - she had to dial up to 10 friends for contact numbers and even called up CLs based in KL to enquire! Lucky for her, she found this nice lady from Ipoh who speaks English and Cantonese.
Confinement refers to the Chinese practice of keeping new mums 'confined' to the home for 30 days (up to 40 days) and a stay-in lady takes care of both her and her baby's needs.
During this time, she cooks the confinement dishes (for samples, check out Kuali), advises you on R & R and also helps feed, clean and soothe the baby. The going rate for CLs now is RM2,500-3000. Some info on the confinement period at ChinaTownSdyney As our baby is due on Feb 4, which is incidentally the seventh day of Chinese New Year, people warned that the CL may not be able to commit or may even ask to be paid double. I was worried because I need during the one month: My mum isn't strong enough to help out and my mum-in-law stays across the China sea! We don't plan to hire a maid for the long-term so we didn't want to go through the works of getting one now. And so the frantic calls begin... Candidate #1, My friend liked her soft, gentle ways, great hygiene, common-sense approach (read: not too traditional) to taking care of the mum/baby and she was quite helpful around the house. Furthermore, as she also spoke English, communication was clear between the two of them. Another plus point was that she would cook a soup in addition to the regulation chicken & ginger dishes. Lastly, she didn't believe in waking the baby up at 3.00 am for a feed even if the baby was sleeping soundly! I've heard that if you do this, then the baby will get used to this routine and not adopt a regular sleeping pattern. Candidate #2 - I got this contact from a friend but I was quite wary about calling her as her asking price is RM3,000 and she flatly refused to cook for hubby or do laundry (no to even loading the washer/dryer). Secondly, she's frequently asked to be CL to Chinese families living abroad and has been to Canada, the UK and also the US. This friend warned me she has extravagant tastes when it came to buying food or stuff for the household. This warning also came with the info that she would charge extra RM400-500 for any additional task given to her. Candidate #3 - Another friend's contact though she said to only call her as a last resort because she is a) ultra traditional b) slovenly and c) rough with the baby. If these 3 winning titles were not enough to scare us, her military attitude of scooping up the baby from its blissful sleep at 4 hour intervals for feeds definitely set us against her! Candidate #1 kept me on my toes for almost a month as she was busy with a lady in KL and pondering on whether she wanted to take up my offer for early Feb. But, rejoice! we finally got a call from her one fine day and she AGREED. Phew, that's one more thing off our minds... BABY NOTES: Your baby weighs about 3 ounces and should be about 5 inches in length. Your baby's heart is growing strong and even though it is little, it is pumping between 20-25 quarts of blood every 24 hours. By the time you are ready to deliver, your baby's heart will be circulating up to 300 quarts of blood every 24 hours. At around the 15th week, a pattern for their future hairline develops. It can take quite a bit longer for some babies hairline or even their hair, to "fully develop".

Wednesday, 3 August 2005

Week 14 – Life changes…

Starting out on this post, I'm reminded of a dinner gathering I attended some years back with a few colleagues:
  • a young married couple (ha, ha, us!)
  • a newly married couple whose wife was 2 months pregnant
  • a married couple with a 1 year old son
  • a young, very happy-go-lucky single person
Since it was potluck, the party started off on high spirits as everyone was piqued by one another's culinary skills. The party continued with everyone tucking into the food, drinks and also active catch-up chatter but things started to wind down when almost all the food was consumed. It was only 9 pm but the 1 year old kid started to get cranky.

Then, the pregnant pregnant lady had to go out the balcony for some air. The little boy's poor parents were actually midway through dessert but his Mom hurriedly shoved in the last bit of fruit and picked him up while Dad started saying their apologetic good-byes.

 In a flash of 2 minutes, they had bundled up their stuff and left quickly with the rest of us to deciding if we should pick up where we left off or get ready to go home too. The pregnant lady was the most flabbergasted by this sudden turn of events and commented wistfully, "It's amazing how much your life changes when you have a child."

 Well, this flashback pretty much sums up the mood I'm in nowadays. If Blogger allowed emoticons to mark posts, I'd definitely choose the one with the lemon-sour face...

I have to REALLY confess that I'm NO saint and this is what makes me appreciate my dear husband very much nowadays because I am not myself - I have become *Godzilla*.

Firstly, the morning sickness (HUGE misnomer since it occurs any time of day) really throws you out of whack - in the first couple of months, I felt comfortable with a boiling cup of Milo/soup every time I felt hunger pangs but lately, it's like "I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT!"

 We thought we had our routine down pat, with meals prepared in advance of that 3 hr intervals but no, I'd still feel queasy and bloated. My food choices are limited to bland home cooked foos. We've tried KFC's, McDonald's, Nando's, Italian food, Sushi King but with disastrous results so it's back to healthy eating.

 Then, there's this metallic taste in my mouth. Brushing or mouthwash is useless. I'd suck sweets/assam (there's a very rich man name Uncle Mo out there) and what-not till the roof of my mouth is sore, yet the metallic taste stays.

Ugh... Next, are the changes in bodily functions. Ok, I read 3 pregnancy books including the famous 'What to Expect When You're Expecting' Still, nothing prepares you for all this eat, vomit, pee, sleep, eat, pee pattern. Yes, if eating doesn't occupy the waking hours of your day, then the trips to the toilet will.

 I try to find the comedy in all this but it's frustrating when you come back dead tired from a day's work and all you want to do is go to bed but you've got to feed yourself first. You can't go to sleep immediately so I'm propped up on a mountain of pillows while I let the food/gas settle down. Just when it's settled down, 1.5 hrs have passed and whaddaya know, you're hungry again!

Many a time, I've literally crawled into bed after a meal and dropped off to dreamland the minute my head touches the pillow. Then, you wake up a couple of times during the night to pee. During these visits, I try to move really slowly so I won't burn so much energy that I'd feel hungry --- ahh, the horror of those midnight/twilight snacks!

 When we first started noticing the bulge and all was still under control, we found it cute and even make friendly jokes with the 'pea'. Now that the bulge has grown (it's supposedly the size of an apple now), so have I and with this comes the depressing reality of ALL your clothes do not fit!

 It was already hard for me to find clothes before but now, it's downright depressing when you're faced with racks of clothes but nothing fits either your size/taste/budget. For this transitional period, the baby gurus advise getting clothes a size larger than normal and I've discovered something about Plus-sized clothes: the general belief (a fallacy) is that plus-sized women don't wear tank tops or shorts??

 It was amazing coz we only found racks of long-sleeved/3 quarter sleeved shirts/blouses in hideous brights or prints. There's an untapped market out there. To survive this period, I've been wearing the Man's t-shirts and polo shirts.

Thankfully, during the start of the mega sale, I managed to get some 'cute' t-shirts (AKA hideous) for home and a couple of shirts for work. At work, I've got comments like, "You don't look pregnant when you wear this" and "You look really pregnant when you wear that" so I think the euphemism used for "fat" is "pregnant".

 Of course, my loyal and endearing husband thinks I'm cute in my new shape but it sure takes a lot of getting used to - I'm beginning to understand why those newspaper ads of Marie France Bodyline and Mayfair have a regular horde of postpartum women as their satisfied customers.

I'm truly envious of women who stay slim during their pregnancy where only their bellies expand and the rest of their body stay the same. In the past, I've raised my eyebrows at pregnant women dressed in spaghetti straps and other flashy clothes.

Now, I totally understand why they do it - WE NEED TO LOOK AND FEEL BEAUTIFUL. Please forgive me if you see me parading in a spaghetti strap or God forbid, halter top --- I am delusional and hallucinatory.

 Another new (un)welcome change is body heat. When I was earlier given progesterone to prevent an abortion, I felt a surge in my body temperature and sweated buckets unless I was right under a fan in a sleeveless, thin blouse. Now, my body temperature changes like a reptile! I don't bother trying to figure it out, I just go with the flow.

Sometimes, I feel sweaty after a bath but I could also feel frozen after one and would bundle up in a sweater, track pants and socks only to peel them off hurriedly 30 minutes later. In the office, I'd be quite comfortable at 24 degrees C but after a while, my shirt is plastered to my back and I need to switch the temp to a low 20 degrees Celcius, which sets my co-workers sneezing their heads off.

You can only imagine the laundry count during the weekends when I'm at home the whole day. To top the list would be the exhaustion. I read that a woman's body's changes fast to accommodate the growth of a baby i.e. the uterus expanding, the placenta developing and the baby's cells building and so we use up more energy than that burned by a marathon race runner.

I find this change the most annoying as I'm used to walking fast and having loads of energy to do anything I wanted to i.e. work (pathetic I know), shop, browse in a bookstore or watch hours of TV. 

Nowadays, I get tired after walking around ONE shop floor for about ONE hour, or barely surpassed one rack of books and most amazing of all, missing lots of my favorite sitcoms, mini-series and cutting down on the no. of DVDs I've been buying.

I was quite excited to see 'Desperate Housewives' coming up in July on Astro but believe it or not, I've missed the first 4 episodes. Would you believe that I followed 100 over episodes of the long-playing 'Manchu Princess' Cantonese drama serial!

In the bigger picture, my life seems to have slowed down drastically and I think even my brain works slower now esp when faced with a fast-talking person. Can you guess that we had planned for another holiday, to take up dancing lessons, take road trips on weekends, do more sports to get toned bodies and a million other things when I finished my masters' degree?

Now, all these plans are shelved indefinitely! I'm most impressed with how well my husband is taking this 360 degree turn in life.

I hope that I have not scared anyone thinking of having a child. Please don't be afraid. This is one frenetic post by a hormonally-imbalanced pregnant woman (in her 14th week) anxious for the all-you-can-eat period of the 2nd trimester.

 I promise - the minute I can eat like a normal person, it'll be blue skies again! :D

Week 12, 13, 14 – Baby notes

Week 12: Your baby weighs about 14 grams and is about 2 1/2 inches in length. Your baby has reflexes and begins to have activity in the digestive tract. Bile is now being secreted and these types of developments are to prepare the baby for life outside of you. Stem cells, the "mother cells" that reproduce to become heart, brain, liver, bone, blood, nerve, and immune cells, continue to differentiate into cells forming your baby's major organs.

Although your baby's brain continues to grow, its components now have the same structure as when your baby is born. If your OB or Midwife uses a "doppler," you may be able to listen to your baby's heartbeat. This may be the sweetest sound you have ever heard. Most new moms are amazed by how fast the heartbeat is.

Week 13: Your baby weighs about 1 ounce and is about 3 inches in length. Your baby's digestive tract continues to develop as inside the intestines tiny villi (hairs) are forming. These villi will assist in moving the food through your baby's digestive tract. The pancreas has begun producing insulin and within your baby's mouth, all 20 teeth have evolved but of course are not visible. (That would make predicting orthodontist bills way too easy?)

Week 14: Your baby weighs about 2.25 ounces now, and should be about 3-4 inches in length. Your baby's bladder begins functioning and believe it or not, actually begins urinating. In fact, although doctors are not really sure of how or where your baby's urine is produced it is a component of the amniotic fluid and is continuously regenerating itself every 3-4 hours.