As much as friends and colleagues seem to be coping with a general transition into pregnancy bore (my team endured a fascinating lecture on the foramen ovale this week), a few have commented that their patience may not last beyond the 9 months and that becoming a baby bore would be a step too far.
But there’s the rub – at the moment I can pepper my pregnancy talk with amusing anecdotes about work (for those who find You’ve Been Framed amusing) or commentary on exciting social events I have been to or general salacious gossip. But what am I going to be able to talk about when I am under house arrest spending my time feeding, changing and washing? What exciting (and especially non-baby) anecdotes will I be able to come up with then?
Awesome tune from The Pet Shop Boys (not so awesome video), although counter-intuitively it’s about them never being boring despite calling the song “Being Boring”, but what can you do?
For the past couple of months or so I’ve felt odd twinges in my pelvic area, mainly around the upper thighs. These were exacerbated if I’d sat down or stood up for too long (the only solution? Lying on the sofa!) I didn’t give it much thought – it wasn’t pain exactly, more like a discomfort.
A couple of weeks ago though, it all took a turn for the worse and I was suddenly experiencing an overwhelming feeling of pressure down there, coupled with intensified pains over the whole area. It was particularly uncomfortable to stand on one leg and roll over in bed. Although gentle walking seemed to help, shopping doesn’t count. At one point I was returning from Sainsbury’s with two bags, one containing four pints of milk and the other a six-pack of Becks Blue. I didn’t think they were that heavy but every step was agony! I seriously considered abandoning one bag. And we’re only five minutes away from the shop… Lesson learned: Mr Cath to pick up essential supplies from now on!
Literally the first day it was starting to bother me, my NHS weekly email was astonishingly telepathic: “Growing pains: find out how to relieve pelvic girdle pain.” I had never heard of this condition before but immediately clicked on the link, which took me through to an NCT page – hey presto, the symptoms were mine:
“Mild, moderate or severe pain in the pubic bone area as well as pain in the hips, groin, lower abdomen, buttocks, lower back or inner thighs… standing and walking, turning over in bed and any movement that involves separating the legs, such as walking up stairs, getting in and out of the bath or car, can be very painful. Sometimes a clicking sensation can be felt or heard.” For me personally, the turning over in bed thing was far and away the worst symptom – I couldn’t lie on one side for more than what felt like ten minutes which meant some very wakeful nights!
I had dinner with Danielle last week and, as is the way nowadays, a good proportion of the conversation was dedicated to all things baby.
Danielle knocked it out of the park on the asking a pregnancy question that hasn’t been asked before with the conundrum of what do babies use their lungs for before they are born? To what extent do they breathe?
As a baby and toddler, I loved my playpen. It was a secure place full of toys and books, and my Mum tells me that I often asked to get inside even if I didn’t need to be. Therefore, planning in advance, I decided to start investigating playpen options for our own little one… only to find to my surprise that there are hardly any!
It appears the tide has turned against playpens. Come to think of it, I don’t remember seeing any in the houses of my friends and family who have children. The fashion now seems to be to let toddlers roam free around the house rather than “incarcerate” them in “Guantanamo” as some opine on forums such as Mumsnet. And Babycentre notes that “some experts feel that playpens can restrict children, and in the past they have been overused.” The general feeling seems to be handle playpens with caution.
Apparently I’ve been a little reckless recently. I’ve been feeling a degree of comfort that I’ve got to the third trimester and that everything seems to be progressing fine. So last week, I went a bit crazy and had some aioli with my chips – and given this was at a gastropub, the likelihood is it was homemade with raw eggs. Bad. Then yesterday, not meaning to be reckless I ate some under-done chicken. It was my fault given I had cooked it, and in daylight it looked cooked through, but later on with the blinding electric light on it it looked distinctly pink.
Cue much research into the risks of listeria in the third trimester, when apparently the impact on mother and baby are the worst (due to the mother’s suppressed immune system) – who knew? Babyzone states “An infection occurring later in pregnancy can cause Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR), and in the third trimester, listeria can be a cause for premature labor, premature delivery, and ultimately can cause neonatal sepsis, meningitis, and death”. The risk of infant mortality with listeria is huge, at 50%.
After panicking about this for a bit, I did some research into the effects of undercooked chicken specifically. Apparently, listeria isn’t known for hanging around chickens (I think it prefers cows and pigs), and the risk from undercooked chicken is salmonella which would affect me but is less likely to affect the alien.
So after that scare, I think I’ll go back to food paranoia for the next 7 weeks. But that got me thinking about how safe I really was now – what would happen if I went into labour in the next 4 weeks before the alien officially reaches full term?
I first read about the concept of a mummymoon in Gurgle magazine, and immediately liked the idea. I was keen on gathering all my female family and friends together before the birth but was unsure how to go about this without the structure of a baby shower, which didn’t appeal. A mummymoon, the article explained, is like a babymoon but you spend it with your female friends and/or family rather than your partner. The theme can be whatever you want it to be; one suggestion was getting all your female friends over for a manicure. The emphasis is more on the social aspect rather than the gathering of gifts for the baby. I visualised something that was a bit like a combination of the two hen dos I’d had prior to our wedding (a weekend with friends in Brighton and an afternoon tea at Claridge’s with family). I wanted the afternoon tea, but a pot-luck version round my house; I wanted the silly games and gossip, but no alcohol and definitely no strippers!
In the event, my mummymoon was lots of fun – delicious cakes and other afternoon tea delights were plentiful, and people really stepped up on the games front. There was even an actual baby there!
[Update: except it isn’t! It was on Friday when I wrote this, but now it’s sunny! Woohoo!]
But as much as I would love to discuss the weather, this is more about “the old man is snoring” aspect of the nursery rhyme. You see I have developed an affliction, apparently I now snore.
I would like to think that Fred’s recent spates of foreign business trips are due to critical business opportunities that can only be closed by racking up the frequent flyer miles, but I think an added bonus for him is escaping the snoring so he can get a good night’s sleep. It may seem extreme to go to Toronto or Rio to escape your wife’s snoring, but you have to understand that Fred really doesn’t like other people snoring. And I don’t like the middle of the night fights that result from me being woken up (as if I am not being woken up enough at night by calls of nature!) and being accused of snoring. Especially as there doesn’t seem to be much I can do about it – rolling over doesn’t help, and as much as I try changing my breathing it doesn’t always hold.
Lately I’ve been reading up on the best way to stimulate your baby. Apart from all the things like talking and singing, as well as physical stimulation, there is also the visual side of their development to consider. Until they are a few months old, when their vision has expanded further, babies get particularly excited by toys that are high-contrast or brightly patterned. The ultimate sight you can present to your baby is black and white (with perhaps a bit of red thrown in).
The website Genius Babies (yes) claims that “these high-contrast colours will captivate and hold baby’s attention, encouraging visual development as well as physical activity – like wiggling, kicking, and arm waving.” Babycentre agrees that black, white and red are perfect for baby stimulation, but adds that mirrors, pictures of faces and patterns and colour in general are also good.
Peaches Geldof’s baby Astala enjoying his black and white mobile from Social Baby
Suggesting that Fred may be coming round to the idea that we are actually about to become parents, he sent me a link to an article on the BBC showing that the risk of cot death increased five fold for babies that shared a bed with their parents.
The BMJ Open study compared 1,500 cases of cot death (or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome to give it its proper title) with 4,700 normal cases as a control.
The study found “Bed sharing risk decreased with increasing infant age. When neither parent smoked, and the baby was less than 3 months, breastfed and had no other risk factors, the adjusted odds ratio (AOT) for bed sharing versus room sharing was 5.1 (2.3 to 11.4) and estimated absolute risk for these room sharing infants was very low (0.08 (0.05 to 0.14)/1000 live- births). This increased to 0.23 (0.11 to 0.43)/1000 when bed sharing. Smoking and alcohol use greatly increased bed sharing risk.”
The advice seems to be that the safest place for a baby to sleep for the first six months (and definitely the first three months) is in its own crib in the same room as the parents.
Fred’s sudden fascination with sleeping arrangements was because he was worried that this study was suggesting that the ones we were planning were a bad idea. You see, since seeing Maria’s bedside cot I have been quite taken with the idea.
Basically, the idea of bedside cots (or co-sleepers if you are American) is that, as the name suggests, you have a cot beside your bed but the genius bit of it is that one of the sides is removable so that you have easy access to the baby at any time during the night.
At my Mummymoon on the weekend (more of which later…) there was a sweepstake where everyone predicted a birth date and weight for our baby. Most were pretty standard but there were two responses I didn’t like: Harriet thinks the weight will be 8lb 8oz (eek!) and my aunt wrote down a date 10 days before 4th July. Of course, a week and a half early really isn’t a big deal, but the fact it was June stood out next to all the July dates that had been written alongside it. When I questioned this, she replied simply: “pack your hospital bag”. “But…” “Pack your hospital bag.”
Being an obedient niece, I thought I’d better start at least looking into this now just in case our baby decides to make an early appearance. Even if they are on time or late, it will be one less thing to worry about knowing that everything is ready to go and we don’t have to faff around trying to locate disposable pants.
The first step is to find an appropriate bag. I’m planning to use my Momymoo changing bag:
As predicted in my Baby Show post, I did end up acquiring a more neutral black changing bag free from Boots Parenting Club, which I presented to Mr Cath as “his” bag. However, when it comes to being in hospital, I feel the pretty roses will help boost my spirits (every little helps, right?) If everything doesn’t fit in that bag, we can bring an extra one. I’ve also heard a recommendation to bring one bag for yourself and one for the baby; that should reduce too much rummaging around on the day.