Friday, 26 July 2013

Curiouser and curiouser

This week has been strange. I have been first-trimester level tired all week; barely moving from the sofa all day, crying when I had to clean things (like the bathroom. and dirty clothes), falling asleep on the sofa before the end of the 7th Inning. Plus I've been adjusting to feeling Little Kick do ALL the movements. Husband has now finally felt, and seen, her dancing all over my stomach, like I have the sort of food poisoning you see in cartoons. 

I loved feeling the little movements- little reminders that she was there, happy. Then on Monday they started getting really intense and big and, quite frankly, forceful. And honestly, despite feeling like the worst person in the world for saying it out loud, I stopped liking it so much. On Wednesday morning she kicked so hard it actually woke husband up. He loved it, and I had to remind him that I could actually feel it INSIDE ME when she did that, and I really wasn't loving it. I begged her to stop. Which she did. For the rest of the day.

This brings us to my next spiral of parenting shame- I desperately wanted her to move again, but I know that babies have periods of a LOT of activity then periods of none- they basically sleep 20 hours a day in there, so you can't be surprised that they are still for large chunks of time. I was really patient. I felt the odd movement once or twice which kept me satisfied until I fell asleep on the sofa far before actual bed time. The next morning, it was the same. The odd little movement- enough to stop me calling the doctor and demanding they tell me EXACTLY what she was doing in there right now, not enough to stop me googling at-home foetal heart monitors which I was going to buy that very night. I decided I was going to MAKE her move. I felt guilty that I couldn't be satisfied and just let her sleep, or relax, or face my back and kick round there or whatever it was she was doing, but I had to know that she was ok, and disturbing her as much as possible seemed the only way. 

I did my yoga DVD. Nothing. I went for a hot shower then downed an ice-cold bottle of water. Tiny flickers. I went for a walk round the park across the road. Nothing. I drank a mini can of Sprite. Tiny flickers. Eventually, I gave up. I'd felt her a bit, and it would have to be enough. I sat out on a sun lounger with my book, exhausted after a morning of worrying and ridiculous endeavours. And she went mental, kicking and spinning like mad. *sigh* Little Kick is most definitely my daughter- happiest when curled up with a book. She continued to be super active for the rest of the day, proving that she was, in fact, just sleeping and honestly couldn't be bothered with my nonsense.

Which brings me to this morning. I woke up to some fairly average movements. I got up and had a cup of tea, reading the Caitlin Moran back catalogue on the Times website- a seriously limited time offer since their paywall was down. I laughed so hard at one point that I broke into a coughing fit. And then I realised I had a really sore stomach. Like, all stretched out and painful and horrible. I looked down and realised the baby was STICKING OUT THE SIDE. Like, a big lump out of nowhere that felt all solid and baby like. I'm not going to lie, I freaked out a lot little. I started gently rubbing the weird baby-lump, and she obviously found this extremely irritating and swooshed her way back into a more sensible position that didn't cause me any pain. I was incredibly relieved.

So there you have it, I am an ungrateful, spoilt lady who doesn't appreciate the miracle of life inside her. I feel like a terrible mother. Ah well. I'll probably just have another cup of tea. To quote Mr Bennett: '...The feeling shall pass, and probably much more quickly than it should...'

Monday, 22 July 2013

Yosemite and me...

My last post came to you from my bed. this one is coming from my sofa but that's only because the Dodgers game is on and I don't have a TV in the bedroom. Las Vegas post to follow (I have to get photos from other people AGAIN. I did remember my camera, and even to take the camera outside with me. Then I realised the memory card was still in my laptop. I am NOT GOOD at cameras.) 

This post is all about Yosemite National Park, which I felt at the time was completely exhausting but with a week of perspective that involved a wedding in Las Vegas, I now think it was actually pretty relaxing... The drive was LONG. Husband is a total hero. We set off at 9-ish, and finally arrived at 4.30-ish. This was through the agricultural heartland of central California (ie. big, flat, hotter than Hades.) There was absolutely zero view to enjoy and nothing but low vineyards and shimmering desert as far as the eye could see. That actually makes it sound better than it was. My other main problem with this drive is that American radio is TERRIBLE at the best of times, but because there is no national service a la BBC Radio 2, it is constantly losing signal so you have to hunt for ages to try and find another mediocre station that will last you 20 minutes before it becomes fuzzy again. Part of the reason we got our car so cheap was that the CD player has the Oasis album 'Standing on the shoulders of Giants' stuck in it, which everyone knows is just terrible. *sigh*

All the complaining aside, the minute we arrived in Yosemite national park, it was all worth it.

The weird thing for me is that it was really hot, even though we were in amongst mountains and trees and therefore it should have been cool. At the time, I said 'God, it's really hot' a lot, but with the benefit of a hindsight/a weekend in Vegas, I'm going to say it was beautiful warm weather.

We made our way to the campsite, to be greeted with what I can only describe as a canvas Butlins. I think all three of us (husband, Pauline (the intern from his department and taker of all these photographs- thanks Pauline!) and I) were pretty disappointed. Being European rugged types, we all normally like our camping with less wifi and Starbucks. The tents were SO close together and there was literally thousands and thousands of people there. Once the rest of our group arrived, we got settled into our canvas cabins (this is probably the best description, sort of half tents/half cabins, with proper beds and a wooden floor but canvas walls) it turned out that we didn't actually have anyone right next to us, but they were still pretty close. 

Unlike every other camping trip I've ever been on, you were not allowed to cook on the site. This is because of the bears. Yosemite is full of bears who really love barbeque. Apparently they can tell the difference between a Trader Joe's bag and a Target bag from the colours, and they know Trader Joe's = food. They make Yogi and Boo Boo look like half-arsed amateurs. You can't even leave food in your car, because they have been known to rip the doors off to get at it. Once the initial terror died down, we realised this would mean eating all our meals at the various restaurants on site. This turned out to be pretty good, especially for husband who had a beer at the bar as soon as we arrived, but we probably wouldn't stay there again. I like my nature a wee bit more... natural.

After a Shabbat meal (we went with husband's boss and his rabbi. Yeah, seriously) and an early night, we got up early to go for a hike. I'd like to take some time to discuss the difference between the US and UK definitions of 'hiking'. Now generally, in the US, 'going for a hike' is pretty interchangeable with 'going for a walk'. In the UK, a hike is a hardcore walk, one stage down from involving actual climbing. This meant that when husband's boss suggested 'going for a hike' I wasn't worried, I wanted to go for a decent walk, to enjoy being outdoors and enjoying the beautiful scenery. I was wrong.

The deceptive easy bit at the start...
Husband's boss obviously subscribes to the UK version of 'Hiking'. It was 8.5 miles of hardcore walking, involving a 3000ft ascent and more 'natural' stairs than I ever want to see ever, ever again. The group also included an 8 year old, and two woman in their 50s who had no desire to hike, so I was in pretty good company. Despite being at least fifty times fitter than me, husband stayed with me the whole way. He gave me all his water to make sure I didn't dehydrate (even though he was really starting to suffer by the end.) It was seriously intense.

Perhaps the scariest moment of all it for me was looking at the above view and realising that I was going to have to walk to the top of the waterfall. And that this was only the half-way point. It was long, sweaty and my legs were BURNING, but I did it. It was so completely awesome to just be me for the day, not some delicate pregnant princess who needed to avoid too much exertion. I just walked and climbed and walked some more and drank 5l of water. In the end I actually chose to walk an additional mile beyond where I had to (there was a bus service back to the campsite) because I felt like I could keep going, even though the mile before I had been at breaking point. It was so totally worth the effort. Especially for the feeling I got being in the shower once we'd arrived back. If I could bottle that feeling, I would.

The view from the top of the final waterfall. Unfortunately, we still had to get back down...
Us at the end- still smiling, but probably from sheer delirium
After a shower and some pizza it was definitely time for a seriously early night. I felt so sorry for the Jewish members of our group- the wait for Shabbat to end meant they couldn't eat pizza until the sun set at 9pm. I was basically asleep by then. I lay in bed (admittedly, rather thankful that it wasn't an airbed in a tent at this point...) listening to husband and Pauline drink whisky and discuss the days events. Rather a nice way to drift off. 

Yosemite is on my list of places to go back to. We'll take the tents and a camping stove and a baby carrier to do a more leisurely walk, splash in the river and eat ice-cream from the campsite store, introducing our wee girl to the great outdoors. I can't wait.

Monday, 15 July 2013

A rose by any other name...

This post comes to you from my bed, which I have taken to in the manner of an over-vexed Victorian Lady after my weekend in Yosemite. A full post on that to follow, but because I left my camera in the car I am relying on Pauline, the lovely Anglo-French intern in my husband's department on sending me hers once she returns (most of the group are coming back today, but we left yesterday since we have a second road-trip to do this week.)

So today I am staying in bed with the air-conditioning on full blast, bruised and aching from a hike I should NEVER have attempted (it's listed as 'strenuous' in the Yosemite guide book. One day I will learn to read the guidebook before I get home from the trip...) with an extremely angry cat who was left alone (but well catered for) for a grand total of 48 hours and is now hell-bent on making us suffer for it.

The weekend was marvellous, as was last week. We discovered on Tuesday that our little girl is just fine. And very female. I did not believe this at first, but our lovely doctor spent a good few minutes showing exactly how female she is- it was indisputable. We then rewatched the DVD at home a few days later and were reminded that she is definitely a girl. I am so glad I found out that she is a she. I now have the next 20 weeks to get my head wrapped around having a daughter. My husband's plans for the baby remain unchanged-  now she, instead of he, will be an international footballer with science as a back-up plan. I don't think I really have plans for the baby beyond 'keep growing til we can safely get you on the outside' but I was glad he wasn't disappointed. 

Week 18, then week 20. Not a big difference, but definitely feeling it!

As I mentioned the other week, having a baby girl presents us with a problem. We have ZERO baby names for a girl. Well, we now have one potential thanks to my amazing friend Kathryn, who sent me a pretty impressive list during one of her 4am feeds, and we modified one of the ones on her list a bit and came up with another that met our criteria. If we use it, the story will always be the Auntie Kathryn named her since mummy and daddy are rubbish. So- our criteria. We have a few rules. Not quite in a Katie Hopkins style, but a few things we generally agreed on in order to filter things down a bit...

1. Nothing made up. Not that I have a massive problem with making up a name for your baby at all, but given that we already feel like we have too many options, it's an easy way to narrow it down.

2. Must have a nickname attached. This one is on me. The name Lorna does not shorten down to anything at all. I have spent my whole lifetime nickname-less. It makes me quite sad to have missed out on the immediate intimacy of having my friends and family call me something different than the man at the bank. By the same token, no nicknames as full names (eg Penny or Sammy) since this goes both ways.

3. Nothing gender neutral. No real reason for this, and subject to change. I AM totally open to boys names as nicknames, but would prefer not to have a full-on boys name for a girl (I think my reasoning behind this might be that I feel a bit sorry for the boys. Especially here in the US, the girls are just taking over good boys names and leaving boys with fewer options. Having written it down, I am now aware of how crazy I am.)

4. My husband must be able to spell it. He has the worst spelling of any clever person I have ever met, and this is his main rule. This largely rules out anything traditionally Scots or Irish, but given that we are currently in the US and these names would be routinely butchered, it's probably for the best.

5. Must not be associated with a ghastly child I have looked after. I cannot really be any more specific with this unfortunately, but so many names have been ruined for me forever either through bad behaviour (Cara, Adele, Ruby, Olivia) or something upsetting and tragic (Olivia, Paige.) We definitely have it easier here because we're having a girl (my boy's name banned list is longer than my arm...) and as my mother-in-law pointed out, both her and her husband were teachers, so they only had 2 names to choose from since between them, every name they could think of had a bad association for at least one of them. 

So there you have it. Have I made too many rules? Is this why we are struggling to come up with the short-list we want to have in place before she arrives? Any and all suggestions gratefully received...

Sunday, 7 July 2013

On Reading...

I am a prolific reader. I always have been. I remember so clearly the day I got my teenage library card and was allowed to take 12 books from the library at once. It was such an amazing day- if you want to read an brilliant description of this particular feeling, I highly recommend reading Caitlin Moran's first chapter of 'How to be a Woman.'

But pregnancy has ground this to a halt. I have only managed to read a few books in the last 4 months- mostly Agatha Christies (I've updated the list- I am more than half way there!!) and a couple of Inspector Rebus books by Ian Rankin. It's been a pretty poor show. I don't know if I just don't have the concentration, or don't want to sit down for that long or what, but reading has become too much of a challenge. I even got a stack of books from the library that I returned before I read more than a chapter. I WILL read Hilary Mantel's 'Wolf Hall'- the first 10 pages were so beautifully written, I just didn't manage to read any more.

I am determined to read 10 books before the baby arrives (since I know reading will be out of the window for a while...) so I am looking for recommendations. If you were only going to read 10 books in the next 5 months, what would they be? All suggestions gratefully received!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Life as it stands

I've not written in forever and ever for a number of reasons- firstly the cat chewed quite a few of the keys off my laptop, and whilst husband managed to reattach them, they've never been quite the same. Typing is a lot harder work than it used to be. I'm not sure if a new laptop is worth the investment since I intend on never, ever writing another essay again in my life, but I'm not sure that a tablet (I plan on getting a wee kindle fire to get me through late night breastfeeding) is the best thing for blogging on- anyone out there do it?

Secondly, I have been far too busy actually living life to hang around at the computer. Last weekend I went to the Getty Centre and a Dodgers game, went shopping, spent hours and hours in our swimming pool and cooked yummy food. This all seemed so completely out of the realms of possibility a few short months ago so I am embracing life as much as I can. Husband and I are trying to enjoy life as a trio (I'm including the cat, this is pretty sad, I'm aware) as much as we can. The next few weeks are totally full of amazing trips and activities. 

Tomorrow is Independence Day, which as Brits, we have no strong feelings about at all- it's sort of a non-event. It is a bonus day off for husband though, even if I personally find days off in the middle of the week really weird (America LOVES to have a random day off on a Thursday. So much more civilised to always have Mondays off like the UK.) The current plan is a long lie, pancakes, Wimbledon on TV then the parade on Main St in Santa Monica. We'll probably spend some time at the beach before heading home to find some fireworks. We'll eat chilli and nachos and avocados and try and find a virgin margarita somewhere. 

All the food focus comes from 2 main places- the most important one being that I am starving all the time. Yesterday I munched my way though a philly cheese steak the size of my head and ate all the potatoes with it without pausing for breath. My husband just looked on, aghast. This kind of behaviour is being actively encouraged by my rather wonderful doctor since I am struggling a little to gain weight. In a healthy pregnancy, 'they' want you to gain 25-30 lbs, having gained about 10lb by week 22 (ish). At week 18, I have managed to gain 2lb. I'm still 10lb off my pre-pregnancy weight. My doctor isn't concerned, I had horrible hyperemesis (her, very validating words) and lost 10% of my body weight- it's quite a lot. She thinks it will take me a bit longer to get on track. Until them, I have free reign to eat what I want. I had been focusing on replacing junk food with fruit and vegetables since all the baby books/blogs/pamphlets all focus on good nutrition, but now I have to eat junk food AND fruit and vegetables. It's going pretty well so far...

All this being said, the baby appears to be absolutely fine. I am getting pretty big- the bump is constantly growing, I think it gets biggest Sunday to Tuesday (husband thought I was insane, then came home from work last night and asked if it had got bigger since lunchtime, although that was probably the cheese steak...) and then spends the rest of the week recovering in its new home before spurting again the next weekend. I had a doctor appointment on Monday, which confirmed everything is growing right on track and it still has a perfect heartbeat of 155. Every time we get news like this I am ecstatic, I think after a miscarriage you really don't believe all these nice, boring moments will happen to you, that somehow everything will be a little harder than normal. We are just plodding along. It's marvellous. 

Tuesday is our anatomy scan, or BOY OR GIRL SCAN!!!! to give it the title is has in my head. I am beyond giddy at the prospect of seeing the wriggler again and finally giving it a decent pronoun. It's been nice to wait a little but I definitely could not go to the scan without finding out. I have so much admiration for those who have the patience and perseverance to not know. Especially the amazing friend who didn't find out because her husband wanted a surprise. I am, I'm sorry to say, not that nice to my husband. We are really struggling with names. We have a couple of potential boy names, and absolutely zero hope at ever finding a girl name. Honestly, I cannot think of anything I like enough to say fifty times a day for the rest of my life. That's before we add 'both of us have to like it' to the mix. I will write another whole post (eventually) on our fairly broad baby naming rules, but so far nowt is matching up on the girl side. On Tuesday I will either be jubilant that I don't have to think of girl names any more or issuing a desperate plea for help. The lady in the maternity clothes shop last night told me she's certain it's a boy, since I'm sitting really low. She is basically an expert, right?

Since it's the summer, and normal people take summer holidays, that's our plan for the next few weeks. Next Friday we are packing up the car and heading to Yosemite with some of husband's colleagues (including his lovely boss and his wife, whom I adore) for a weekend of wandering amongst giant trees, attempting to avoid being eaten by bears and staving off Hantavirus, which is kind of the reason we're going on the trip in the first place (husband's boss had booked the cabins for him and his friends, who all then cancelled when the area was shut for part of the year due to the discovery of Hantavirus in THOSE EXACT cabins. They've since knocked them down and built new ones. He thought it'd be ok and invited his work minions instead. We agreed since it's probably FINE now.) I'm so excited to visit that part of California. I can hardly wait.

We'll be back from Yosemite for 3 whole days before packing up the car again (let's be honest, it probably won't get unpacked to begin with...) and driving to Las Vegas. If you ever want a good laugh, I recommend telling your obstetrician that you are planning on driving through Death Valley mere days after it very nearly broke the record for being the hottest place on earth, ever. She looked like her head might explode. It was hilarious. Thankfully she then laughed since I am the same person who went on a transatlantic flight with Hyperemesis and gave us some really good tips on travelling safely and where to get the good cocktails.

This Vegas trip is particularly exciting since my bestie Jen and our awesome friend Bri are GETTING MARRIED. Now only a Scot would plan an outdoor wedding in the desert outside Las Vegas in July, but we are totally stoked to be part of it. A small group of our friends are making the journey out too, and it's the only time I would like to hang up my bump on the back of the bathroom door and head out for some serious partying. It's gutting that I won't be pounding back free cocktails and champagne and wine and feeling rough as a badger's arse in the blistering heat with my friends. But I get to be there. And that is the most important bit. 

Lord knows what I will wear, (apart from this, obviously) since I look (and feel) like I've swallowed a honeydew and I don't want to spend a fortune on a nice dress I will only wear once, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. After exploring the west coast a bit, our awesome friends then come to LA to hang out for 5 days. I am also super excited about this, if a little nervous the cat will bite their toes as they sleep, a new and interesting habit she's developed during this heatwave we've just had. Suggestions on a postcard for THAT one, please. Bump pictures to follow (ie once I've found the golden mix of good hair/bump day, good outfit and someone around who can actually take the picture for me.) as well as sparkling write-ups of these epic and awesome events to come. Probably. If I can fix the R key.