Monthly Archives: April 2013

Guadeloupe Basse-Terre: from the Mountains to the Sea

Guadeloupe is a country of two halves, quite literally split via its two islands, Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre with the tiniest of bridges between them – blink and you’d miss it.

Geographically these islands couldn’t be further apart with Basse-Terre rising mountainously from the sea with a dense tropical rainforest centre and an active volcano punctuating the South of the island; Grande-Terre is relatively flat, a land of sugar cane fields and white sandy beaches and more developed than its sister island.

The majority of our babymoon was spent on Basse-Terre, the more varied geography resulting in there being more varied activities to partake in. So the following is our guide to the best of the island (at least from what we got to experience).

What to do?

I cannot say that our sejourn in Guadeloupe was a 24 hour adrenaline rush of activity; part of the purpose of our holiday was to relax and there is only so much waddling I felt up to in a day, so that was a limiting factor too. So the first few days were spent lolling about on the beach.

Grande Anse
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A huge semi-circle of golden sand, Grande Anse is one of the more famous beaches in Guadeloupe, but despite that and the fact we went at Easter when it was theoretically at its busiest, this beach was big enough for all of us.
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Nappy valley

One of the more bewildering areas of baby care is nappies: should you go for disposable or reusable ones, and which brands are best?

cloth nappies

Cloth nappy set from Mothercare

What everyone agrees on is that babies need nappies… and LOTS of them. You can expect to change a newborn’s nappy up to 12 times a day (yes, that is every other hour!) So in a baby’s first week, one might get through as many as 84 nappies.  Thinking ahead, I’m sure that going on a nappy run will be the last thing we’ll want to do during that time, so my plan is to stock up the “nappy cupboard”.

But what to fill it with?

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Daddy daycare

Ben at work has just become a daddy. As the only people currently procreating, we have been sharing stories of buggy choices and birth plans – well, he’s told me what they are doing and I’ve listened (not having an real clue what I am going to do!). His wife was due the week after Easter while I was on holiday, so I was surprised on my return that there had been no announcement. Finally, last Thursday we heard they had sprogged – a delightful baby boy with a shock of black hair. And when will daddy be back at work? Next Thursday! So a whole week to bond with his baby until he’s back to the grindstone.

Why is he returning so soon? So he had statutory paternity leave of two weeks and took extra holiday to maximise the time at home with the baby, but the trouble was the baby had other ideas and rocked up two weeks late. He left going on leave till the last possible moment (the due date), but working down South when his wife was up North was just too much of a risk if she went into labour – and he really didn’t want to miss the main event!

This episode really strikes home the difference between paternity and maternity leave. Having said that, the UK has made some significant movements in the past ten years towards more equality in this area.
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Body beautiful

I recently read an article in Gurgle magazine entitled “25 amazing things about your pregnant body”. The most surprising thing about the piece was probably the numerous examples of things that under no circumstances could be considered amazing. Take these five, for instance:

  • Nasal swelling is increased;
  • Immunity is suppressed;
  • The first ten weeks feels like your period is about to start;
  • Lying on your back could make you feel faint;
  • Average first stage labour is 2.5 hours longer now than in the 1960s.

To me this reads like rattling off typical pregnancy symptoms (tick! tick! tick!) rather than a “wow, really?!” type of list. Maybe it’s supposed to make suffering pregnant women feel better about themselves, but my personal reaction is hmm, yes, can we move on now please?

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The essential collection

There is a sense of denial pervading our flat about the imminent addition to our household. The ability to continue with our heads firmly in the sand is supported by the distinct lack of change to the flat. Nursery decoration? Ha! Reallocation or removal of clutter? Double ha! Baby items procured? Not one! So with life continuing pretty much as usual chez nous, it is easy at some level to separate the expanding and spontaneously moving belly from anything that is likely to affect our lives thus far.

This week this has to change! There is a nearly new NCT sale coming to town tomorrow and I am determined to pick up some bargains and start the process towards getting at least the minimum required to survive the first few weeks.

Mamas & Papas provide a nifty little Checklist for what you need – so I intend to use this, plus some knowhow from the internets to start my campaign.

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The book that launched 1,000 babies

A very special post today, to celebrate the official launch of my friend Ali’s book, Happy, Healthy Pregnancy (50 Things You Really Need to Know)
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Ali is a midwife based in New York who has delivered over 400 babies and has her own almost two year old, so I am rather in awe of her pregnancy knowhow.

I am beyond excited that:
a) my copy will be delivered by Amazon storks tomorrow
b) someone I know has written and published a whole book (I feel like I am friends with JK Rowling)
c) the book is on pregnancy!
d) I might recognise some of the content from conversations I had with her while she was writing it last year (I’m pretty sure I was basically her muse for the whole thing…)
e) I get to tease her mercilessly for all the Americanisms she’s allowed through the net of the British version.

AND the first copy of her own book that she will see is mine because hers haven’t arrived yet. Will have to get her to sign it, like a proper fan girl.

So if you want a happy, healthy pregnancy then this is the book for you. If you’d prefer it unhappy or unhealthy then perhaps give it a miss…

Pregnancy bore

We recently met up with our friends Jack and Rhona, the purpose of which we didn’t even try to disguise: we wanted to talk babies. Rhona is due exactly a week before me, so we are at practically an identical stage (like Elly and I). A pleasant evening ensued; while there were occasional lapses straying from the main topic, it was mostly complete baby indulgence on the part of all four of us.

We didn’t get onto this subject with them, but I do wonder whether they hold themselves back when discussing pregnancy with their non-pregnant friends. For me, I’m finding it is a delicate balance between sharing information (they’re my friends, after all) and oversharing to the point of boring them. It is difficult to gauge how much they actually want – or need – to know. And I don’t want to be too shiny happy people either: yes I’m fine, yes I’m well, blah blah blah bleuurgh!

alysHopefully none of my friends are like Frances!

In the creepy but riveting Alys, Always by Harriet Lane there is one bit near the beginning that made me feel uncomfortable, when the protagonist has just had dinner with her friend from university, Naomi: “a dull evening, as she’s newly married and pregnant, obsessed with nutrition and travel systems. I’m thinking about how I may have to let her go…”

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In breech of contract

Despite being head down and positioned perfectly at the 20 week scan, the alien has decided that this baby is for turning, and at almost 28 weeks has at some point rotated and is now gangnam styling it right (or in this case wrong) way up i.e. breech.

I probably knew this. For the past few weeks, there has sometimes been a very prominent bump I could feel through my skin in the top right hand side of my belly. Assuming that the alien was still in the right position, I assumed this was a rather protruding bottom – turns out it’s the head.

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Apparently I am not to panic, there’s still plenty of room in there and plenty of time for it to reassess its choice of orientation. Women’s Health has an excellent article on the subject; apparently “at the end of pregnancy, around 3% to 4% are found to be breech. Before 37 weeks of pregnancy, breech presentation is much more common – about 20% of babies at 28 weeks are breech, and 15% at 32 weeks”. So in all probability sometime in the next 9 weeks there will be a manoeuvere into the right position.

But what if this doesn’t happen? What are the options then?

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Destination babymoon

The babymoon is the last chance saloon of couple’s holidays, a chance to revel à deux before you become à trois (holidays will never be the same again). The ideal time for a babymoon is the second trimester, once you are over the sickness and worry that accompany the first trimester and before you require a forklift truck to get you anywhere in the third.

The destination really depends on what you are after – city, countryside, beach, mountains etc.; what travel options you will consider and if flying how long a flight; temperature; and any special requirements you want it to meet.

I was after a predominantly beach holiday with a few mountains to keep Fred happy, within a 10 hour flight (the shorter the better), warm weather and most of all I wanted to swim in the sea. I wanted to leave after I knew everything was ok with the 20 week scan and be back before the second trimester was up. The trouble was that meant going in early April, an early April where Europe had decided that Spring was overrated, and that Winter should remain. I looked hopefully at some of the European options that are further South like Crete, Cyprus, Sardinia etc but the likelihood of being able to swim in the sea seemed remote. So we looked further afield and settled on the Caribbean.

Then I made the fatal mistake of telling my consultants about it prior to booking. They were aghast at the idea – dismissing the entire Caribbean on the basis of poor medical care and the need to airlift you to Florida if anything went wrong. “Speaking of Florida, you should go there – the Florida Keys are nice”. Their concern about medical care was straightforward “In all likelihood nothing will go wrong, the trouble is if it does it tends to be serious”.

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Nail bar

While I can still see my feet, I thought I’d better paint my toenails in preparation for summer (yes, I am an optimist).

Naturally I was so engrossed in the polish, after managing to manoeuvre myself to a relatively comfortable position – I would normally kind of squat over my toes, but this is impossible now, so I hoisted each leg up onto a chair and stretched across – that it wasn’t until afterwards that I started to consider whether my home pedicure had been safe for the baby.

feet

Bring on the flip flops!

According to Babycentre, it is fine to use nail polish during pregnancy “as long as you’re careful” and just paint your nails “every now and then”. I find this sort of advice irritatingly vague – it would be helpful to define what careful means, and how often is every now and then? Every month? Every week? My face was right up close to my feet when I was polishing – and yes, of course it didn’t occur to me to open a window (it’s freezing) – does that mean I inhaled poisonous fumes?
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