Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Emma update

After a week of asking to be pushed in her buggy instead of walking - sigh, bad timing!- and wanting to climb into the infant car seat now installed next to hers in my car, Emma has finally started to show signs of wanting to do things on her own again. Phew!

It has taken a LOT of patience (tons!) and even more "bravos" and "well dones" but finally Emma seems to be wanting to do things by herself
on her own initiative - which, let's be frank, is the ONLY way it's actually ever going to happen. You can't coerce a child into peeing in the toilet, brushing her teeth or removing her own shoes if she has set her mind on not doing it. Sometimes, she even quotes us: "Emma est une grande fille" (Emma is a big girl).

So, last night after we returned from the sandpit, Emma removed her own shoes, her own fireman pants and only requested some help with removing her fleece jacket. She didn't want to put her slippers on, but so be it. No resistance to hand washing either. Then after dinner and before her bath, she actually decided she wanted to pee on the toilet and undressed herself completely, sat herself on the toilet equipped with a Mr. Man book.

I ran the bath and left her to it while I put a load of laundry in (mainly from the sandpit). I must admit I was skeptical.

After five minutes or so I told her reading time was up and we needed to bath before the water was cold. Getting the book from her took some doing, but then she said she wasn't done - and that's when I heard a trickle. Yes! She was peeing! And peeing and peeing! I congratulated her and got the toilet paper ready. She said she wasn't done. More trickling. She then got down from the toilet and got her own toilet paper, wiped and tossed it in the toilet. Then walked around and flushed.

She then decided she wanted to climb into the bath on her own and moved her little stepping stool next to the bath thereby sparing my back and the baby. Yippeee Yay! And she climbed out on her own too, only holding my hand for support. I am sure you didn't require quite so much detail, but this is a BIG deal for me and her - Yay! Yay! especially as we await the arrival of her little Bruder.

I can't help feeling that our weekly gym classes have contributed to Emma's increased confidence in her body. She is now braver at the park, trying out bigger slides, going down on her tummy without being persuaded and climbing up more complex structures. From the start, Emma was really good with her hands and brain (from opening bottles to fitting in shapes and doing puzzles and repeating words and expressions) but has always been a bit slow in the "moving her whole body" department (sometimes quite handily so if I am totally honest staying put while I was in the shower or cooking when she could have been up to mischief), and I am SO happy to see her feel more confident in herself and agile.

Other than that Emma:
  • recently stepped in dog poo and is since readily pointing to any brownish thing on the ground telling me it's "caca" even if it's earth or something
  • often asks me if I am her friend (bist du meine Freundin, Mummy?) - so cute!
  • is still telling everybody and anybody who will listen that I am her Mum (das ist meine Mama!) and although she is used to kindergarden teachers joking and saying I am their Mummy or me saying she is "meine Emma" back to her and that everybody has a Mama, she got really upset when Deda told her I was his. I think it might be due to the scarier deep voice and fact that they don't spend that much time together.
  • still often insists it's all for her; "c'est tout pour Emma, pas partager" (it's all for Emma, not share), although she does with friends so it's mainly a power thing with us parents, so I always ask her very politely if I can have one of her almonds or raisins or carrots and she makes a fuss "okay Mummy, only one"
  • and I have been doing the head, shoulders, knees and toes together and she loves it!
  • has just taught me a new song rhyme called Round and round the garden (will try to get that on film soon)

Still preggers!

It's March the 30th (30.03.2010) and although Steph slept badly in Cyprus, I didn't get to sleep 'till late and Emma's bedside light was on at 6am this morning with her snoring next to it, last night's full moon did not make my waters break!

Hurray! I am (37 weeks) still preggers !

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Qué serà, serà...

An update to my last post on the moon's effect on natural birth and more specifically the fact that Steph will be away;

As it turns out ALL my back-ups (the kindergarden Mums, the friends, the Pilates teacher, the babysitter...) will all be away as well. In brief, should baby decide to arrive on 30.03.2010 (the next full moon) Emma and I will be going to the clinic together.

I think it's unlikely, but I'm not the one to decide.

This afternoon, we popped round to the clinic to show Emma some babies (no babies around, so we had to make do with baby pics on the walls) and ask the
Hebamme (midwife) if there was any way she could um, well, have a look and tell us that the baby was no way coming before a few days at least so that Steph could catch his plane tomorrow and we could be reassured.

Well, as it turns out, I was told that:
  • they "cannot tell the future"
  • even if they did check and told me there was no sign of labor, my waters might break 15 minutes after I got home
  • the full moon had no influence on these things at all
  • oh, and that the baby was fine
I can't say I feel much better.

Qué serà, serà...I guess.

In the meantime, I'll be using some birth affirmations to keep my spirits up and talking to the baby asking him to wait until Daddy gets back and possibly even until his Grandma (Gogo) gets here.

Here's a little film of Emma and Steph reading together this morning:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The moon's effect on natural child-birth

Yesterday, as Emma and I walked to kindergarden, we ran into the mother of three of Emma's "colleagues". After commenting on the fact that my belly had dropped, she asked me if I knew when the next full moon was.

Ugh, actually, no, no clue at all.

I totally had not checked that. Not for Emma, not now. But coincidentally, my ObGyn had given me a calendar with the moon cycles on my last check-up. I had stuffed it into my filofax without really looking at it. But this morning after dropping Emma off, I did.

And when do you think the next full moon is to take place?

Ta-daa - On March 30th when Steph will be in Cyprus - his last trip until May, well after the baby arrives. The full moon after that is on April 28th (closer to the baby's
actual EDD).

So I decided to check the moon cycles for the year and month Emma was born, and Ta-daa; the full moon in July 2007 was on the very day Emma was born!
It was the 9th full moon in Emma's gestation, just like the one to take place on March 30th will be the 9th full moon in this baby's gestation.

It's interesting to note that with Emma, although
I lost my mucus plug on Thursday, my amniotic sac burst mid-afternoon on Sunday July 29th, and I didn't have contractions or dilate for hours. In fact, I finally took some oxytocin to get things going and she was born at 6h09 on Monday 30th July.

Those who believe that the moon does have a role to play invoke the fact that we are 80% water and that "Under normal circumstances, the pressure of labor contractions bursts the sac. During a full moon, the pressure caused by the moon’s effect on the water inside the sac can cause the same things to happen, but without the accompanying contractions." (Source: The Moon's Effect on Natural Childbirth)

On the other hand, a 2005 study (to cite one of many) found no significant link between the moon's phases and births. But there are loads of things out there we cannot prove and that are happening anyway, right?

Last night I decided to conduct my own little search using family members. According to this calendar, the moon had no influence on the dates of birth of my sister, her kids, my Mum or on mine but was within two days of my Dad's and my husband's birth dates.

Steph says he doesn't "feel" it happening while he is away. Still, I can't say I'm totally reassured.

What about you and your babies?
Were they born around a full moon?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Hiccuping tummy

What does it look like when your belly baby moves inside your belly? And has the hiccups?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Emma update

This week Emma has been a happy bunny most of the time, although more cuddly and attention seeking than usual and often stating that whatever food, drink or thing was "all for Emma" or that Mummy and Emma each have one.

Emma and me at the kid's hairdresser
We've been working on the sharing, applauding her when she gives some raisins or one of her mini bananas to a kindergarden "colleague" who might be eyeing her pick-up snack. She's improving, although she prefers to have complete control of the provisions and it's sometimes complicated for her to understand that you cannot really give someone your half eaten, chewed on, left-over.

Emma and her friend Nadia nursing their wounds
after an accidental collision at Kindergarden.

We're also making a conscious effort to encourage her to play on her own more and to shorten the bedtime reading/singing routine to two stories or a song. Not the easiest of things considering she currently wants more attention not less.

Her kindergarden teacher L. tells me she often talks about her "Bruder" (brother) in my tummy.
I have explained to her that doctors will help Mummy get the baby out of her tummy. I plan on visiting the clinic with her; hopefully this will help familiarize her with the place and maybe there will be some baby pics or some real live babies there too.

I wish we had a name so that the baby were more like a real person to her - and probably us too. Still, Bruder at least gives him a connection to Emma that she seems to understand and be quite happy with.

I definitely think she feels something is up though; she's interested in toys that are quite obviously meant for babies taking them from the baby's room or insisting that they are hers even when they never were. I think if she "lives" with the toys a bit, she will feel less "deprived" of them should someone else be interested in them later.

The Zopf is back!

New favorite words/expressions:
  • it's too "viticult" (difficult)
  • Come on Mummy! Let's play!
The temperatures are more spring-like and so we sat in the garden for the first time this year and decorated an Easter bouquet.

(I look the size of Perry Mason!!!)

Emma has made progress in taking off her coat and shoes nearly all by herself when we come home.

She's still not very enthusiastic about using the toilet but at least now she will tell me when she is peeing and pooing so hopefully by the time the weather becomes warmer, we will have moved forward on that one...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Oops! My belly has dropped!

February 10th - 10 weeks to go!

My "bump" was still high up into my ribs.

March 16th - About a month left!
I can feel my ribs again, breathing has become easier but my bladder? Ouch!

Monday, March 15, 2010

A little anxious...

Here we are in the last stretch. The last 5 weeks. The longest part of it.

This morning the baby's hiccups woke me up around 5am. I have been sleeping exclusively on my left side for months now as I can no longer turn around without causing major disruption in my own and Steph's sleep and waking myself up entirely. My nose has been blocked since December. Eating has become a real pain - due to above-mentioned blocked nose. And baby jumping on bladder means my WC - free autonomy is pathetic.

I don't want to sound ungrateful - because really, I am so very happy everything (well, all the important stuff) is going well - but I am kind of getting fed up of being pregnant. I wouldn't mind having my body back now... Of course, I don't want the baby to come this early (please take your time and stay another month) but, in all honesty, I would really appreciate being able to breathe, eat, sleep normally as well as not need to pee every 30 minutes.

(Note: As if! Yes, I think I do know that although I will have most of my body back I will be getting less sleep and will have a baby in tow 24/7, a new life to deal with, etc. ... bear with me, ok?)

Also, things are so good with Emma at the moment that I am kind of anxious about the baby arriving and disrupting our nice little rhythm. A friend of mine was telling me last week that right at the end of her second pregnancy she wished she could just stay pregnant. She didn't want to give birth because things were just fine as they were. At the time I thought : "What?! Stay pregnant longer?! I couldn't wait for Emma to be born!" But now, I get it. The second one is not the same.

What if Emma hates me? What if I can't find the energy and time and split myself into (at least) 2 to be there for both of them? What if this baby rocks the boat to the point where I really dislike him? or, on the contrary, what if I get so absorbed in him that I find Emma annoying interrupting our little "tête à tête" breast-feeding sessions with her loud and enthusiastic voice and requests for attention? What if I don't find the patience? What if I just can't handle it all at once and want to run away to a silent beach or a coffee & chat with a friend in nice clothes and no laundry to be done?

All of this will probably happen. And I know that there will be moments where I will feel totally overwhelmed and crazy and desperate. There will also be moments where I will feel like the luckiest person alive.

The first time around I was so happy. (Despite being in worse shape
physically, having painful swollen legs and feet, being absolutely huge, being in transit from Izmir to Geneva to Vienna for God's sake! having a crazy thyroid and bringing Emma back to my mother-in-laws and not our home, not knowing where we were going to live and then finally moving into a disaster area of a flat before spending over six months in Geneva while Steph was in Vienna, etc.) I was really happy. Sometimes I felt a bit robbed of the moment, like I could not fully enjoy our first months together due to all this external chaos but overall I was absolutely over the moon with Emma and with being her Mum.

Even before she was born, I was so enthusiastic and looked forward to meeting Emma. I had no clue about the sleepless nights to come, being more tired than is imaginable, that I would sometimes want to cry out of exhaustion or scream from frustration at just wanting to have 30 minutes to myself or feel totally at a loss when Emma was crying incessantly and not being able to make her stop. Ah! the innocence.

Granted, these moments were short-lived and are really blurry and minor memories compared to the joy and pride and sheer fulfillment I feel when I look at Emma (or sometimes even a picture of her), when I hear her laugh or see the sparkle in her eye as she smiles. She has grown so much and it's not often that I can cuddle her for more than a minute now days (unless she is ill or grumpy).

The love was bigger, greater, fatter and more enveloping than all the rest of it.

But now, I worry that her little brother will disrupt her happiness, our balance, and at the same time, I feel quite horrible to be worried about this instead of being overwhelmed with joy about welcoming our little boy. I cannot remember feeling worried about our life changing due to Emma. I worry, will I love him like I love her?

It's just that, there is only one single first time - in everything - and I wish I could be as fresh to motherhood this time as I was with Emma and at the same time for it not to hurt her or me or us. I want the good without the bad and it's impossible. I cannot be the same parent to both children, simply because I am not entirely the same person as I was nearly three years ago before Emma became a part of our lives.
Update (16th March 2010):
I feel a bit less anxious today. I feel a bit more faith in... life? I know that at least this time we will not be moving with a newborn and that we have a stable environment in which to welcome our baby. Our home, some friends and greater knowledge of the city. Spring is on its way and with it Vienna becomes a much nicer place to live. All this adds up to us having more energy and a better network to help us through the first few months. We also have a short family holiday planned to the sun which I am looking forward to.
Emma, although possessive and used to being the centre of our world, will also benefit from her brother's arrival. And she is a very resourceful little girl. She now also has a life outside of our home with friends at kindergarden and gym class and the park. Also, a few family members will be visiting us this Spring and hopefully she will also find solace in their love and attention.
All we can do is our best to include her and support her and each other during this time. With a bit of luck, it will be alright.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

3D ultrasound pic at 34 weeks

Here he is, squashed nose and all! We think he kind of looks like Emma did around the same age. The technician commented on how relaxed he seemed.

His estimated weight is now between 2200gr and 2400gr and his length 43cm.
All measurements are normal and the EDD remains April 20th +/- 3 days.
Our 34 week check-up confirmed that there is no sign of placenta previa and so in principle I can have a natural birth.

Our little boy has changed a lot since
the last 3D images of him were taken.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Fun family week-end & Emma being scary

Despite the fact that it snowed thus ruining my hopes that Spring was going to be here this week, we had a really fun week-end.

Nothing exceptional happened - oh! except Emma decided she wanted to pee on the toilet and actually did it!!! once - but it was really nice, fun family time with a good proportion of laughs and games, resting and eating, a meal out, some shopping, time at the park plus a touch of "culture" in the form of a play we went to see at Vienna's English Theatre.

I wish us many more of these.

Here's a little video of Emma being scary that made me laugh. Hope you enjoy it too!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Picture update

Well, it's been a while so what's new?

Emma was mysteriously ill with intermittent fever but no other symptoms for 8 days until we got her on antibiotics due to
a) the pediatrician not finding anything wrong with her on the 3rd day and figuring it was a virus he recommended that we let it pass
b) Emma and I failing miserably at getting a urine sample (with one of those charming stick on baggies since she is not potty/toilet trained and me not wanting her to stop peeing forever -she would not pee with this on-)

After resolving to Emma's first blood test during which the whole of Vienna heard her yell, we were informed that there was in fact a bacterial infection of some sort (not strep) probably urinary (or ear infection) according to the aforementioned pediatrician.
The only reassuring thing is that during the whole time Emma always said it did not hurt anywhere.

Pheew! Well, she is now much better and finishes the antibiotics tomorrow. Her mood has improved as has her appetite although she is still a tad pale.

In the meantime, she has learned all the basic colors in all three languages thanks to lots of colorful balloons, questions & answers, different colored cars and books and some rhymes. She'll even ask you "Mummy what's your favorite color?" and then hand you a felt shape in the color of your choice.

Spring seems to be on its way and although temperatures have dropped again today (6°) at least the grey ceiling has lifted! Hurray!!!
Below, fresh cabbage soup and bread; this year's first terrace lunch at our favorite market.

At just over 16kg, Emma has graduated to a big girl car seat (until she reaches 36kg or 150cm or 12 years old whatever happens first).

Emma reading in her up-to-15kg car seat in the entrance hall.

Emma in her new big girl car seat

An apple a day keeps the doctor away!

Emma at kindergarden pretending to call Daddy at work.

Emma now seems to notice my belly. Perhaps it's because recently I have had to tell her that Mummy cannot jump or roll on to her tummy because of the belly with the baby inside.
Here's Emma with a ball under her top.

The still-to-be-named baby is kicking away as if he were on football practice 24/7. Surely he is now so big that moving around should be difficult?
Emma now recognizes when I yelp due to a kick in the ribs or ovaries and asks me if it is the "garçon" (boy).
I definitely think he has hiccups after dinner like Emma used to.
I think he is still head down but more to the right now.

More info next Monday at our week 34 ultra-sound.

I'm really starting to look forward to his arrival now that his bedroom is ready and I have passed the 70kg mark! (that means I have now put on 9kg!!!)

Less than 50 days to go! (it sounds shorter in days than in weeks...)

Monday, March 01, 2010

Selective receptivity

Most toddlers have phases where they filter out requests (did somebody ask me to go brush my teeth?) but we've noticed Emma is especially good at tuning out requests that aren't put to her in English - both in Kindergarden and at home. And it's not about her not understanding.
Although English is in fact the language she's been in contact with the least, she really has taken to it like a fish to water.

Perhaps it's because English was introduced to her at the right time (in terms of brain development etc.) or because it sounds softer than the German and French languages and because its structure is easier or perhaps because she associates it to Peppa Pig...

Maybe her selective receptivity is precisely due to it not being the "official" language at school or at home (like the fact that she will go get ready for school when the timer rings rather than when I ask her). Sort of like a neutral party.

I remember, as a much older expat child, taking quickly and passionately to a language that was neither my father's nor my mother's; French. It's perhaps another way of breaking free and affirming one's individuality.

Whatever the reason, it seems natural that her seemingly "favorite" language is the one she reacts to most positively. Luckily, both Steph and I understand and speak English sufficiently well to call upon it when a swift reaction on Emma's part is required.

Unfortunately, we have broken the (very difficult to stick to) rule of one language / one person since I have taken to responding to Emma in the language she is using at that particular moment (bar German of course!) occasionally filling in the missing word if she is mixing languages in the same sentence or giving her the equivalent in the language we have been speaking so that she can learn it.

I'm certainly not going to complain about her eagerness to learn but I hope we are not causing too much confusion.

N.B. I actually wrote this post on February 19th but somehow never got 'round to posting it.