Thursday, 28 February 2013

Mother's Passport? Check.

My Mutterpass.  Some people make or buy covers for these to make them look nice.  I think these people are mental.
So, I suppose in the two weeks I haven't blogged due to being annoyed with feeling so shit, thanks body, quite a lot has happened.  For starters, I've had two trips to see my Frauenarzt (gynae).  I totally enjoy going to see her, mainly because my husband enjoys going to see her so much that he won't let me go without him, and I really enjoy how much he enjoys it.  This is basically because:

(a) my Frauenarzt is ace.  She is so kind and straightforward and serious and scientific and without any sense of humour that all questions are answered in utter sincerity, even when I ask wryly if there's definitely only one embryo in there; or when my husband asks, if I'm really alright to still be going up 4 flights of stairs to reach our flat in my current stage of pregnancy (9 weeks) (bless my lovely husband)


(b) every time we go, the experience is a bit like 50 First Dates.  Or rather, what I know 50 First Dates to be about, because I've never seen it and so I'm basically just going on what it says on IMDB.  It's about Drew Barrymore having short-term memory loss and never remembering having previously been on a date with Adam Sandler (which sounds to me like the ideal way to date Adam Sandler).  Anyway, apart from Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler, this is basically what it's like going to see my Frauenarzt.  It's not that I'd for one second expect her or her receptionists to remember my husband and/or I specifically amongst their hundreds (thousands?) of other patients, it's just that every time we go, it's somehow beyond lack of recognition and more like groundhog day.  I'm asked the same questions (are you taking your folic acid and iodine tablets (Folio Forte, for the record), the answers to which are noted down on each occasion.  Then, after immediately realising I'm not a native German speaker, do you speak English?  And she think I'm from Finland.  Every time.  And when we leave at the end: have we given you a copy of this pregnancy magazine?  The same pregnancy magazine we have tried to give you three times now?  Alongside this plastic bag full of advertising shit we are pretending is a special gift for your husband to make him feel fatherly and involved?

So, I love my gynae.  She is excellent, and I really love going and having the lightsaber stuck up me so we can see the insanity that is going on inside me whilst I try not to chuckle at the thin white curtains on the windows that have "dream" and "love" and "yes" embroidered on them.  At the 8-week scan (THERE'S A FUCKING HEARTBEAT!!!) she explained everything on the screen to us extremely carefully and clearly - although to be honest, I'm still really going on her word that I'm pregnant, but if she says that amorphous grey blob is really the beginning of human life then I'm not going to argue with her - and then filled out the first lot of little boxes in my brand new Mutterpass.

For those of you who thought I was wrong and that a Mutterpass cover might be quite nice: we'll just have to agree to disagree.  Image Source: Britti-1 at
The Mutterpass is a surprisingly large, flappy booklet that is slowly being filled with all my pregnancy-related information from each doctor's visit, and I am meant to carry it around with me at all times in case of whatever, without losing it, for the next six and a half months.  Not only has it got important doctorly scribblings in it regarding me and my foetus but also stickers from the results of various tests I had done on my first visit (for blood type, HIV, red blood cell count and plenty of other things that I don't understand in English let alone in German) which makes me really, really want to start putting in other kinds of stickers because I haven't had a sticker book since I was 12 years old.  I imagine, however, that I'd not get a particularly positive response for sticking a picture of a member of the German national football team under my chlamydia test result.  Incidentally, all those tests cost a bloody fortune here if you have them outside the circumstances of being knocked up: it's no wonder that a friend of mine here admitted she's gone to donate blood entirely because (other than being paid 27€ for it) it means you get the tests done for free.  In fact, before my husband and I started having unprotected sex, I asked the gynae for a sexual health checkup and she appeared totally confused by the thought.  My gynae.  It seems that We Still Don't Really Talk About STDs here.  Bit shocking.

But I digress.  Armed with my Mutterpass I returned on Tuesday for a spontaneous checkup as I'd had a truly minute amount of bleeding during the previous 24 hours which I supposed was probably normal but didn't really want to spend the whole day at work worrying about.  She put the lightsaber in and declared everything tickety-boo, which was a relief (and a relief to find it a relief) and remarked that from this stage, 9 weeks and 3 days, it would be incredibly unlikely for me to miscarry.  So now, it seems, it's really time for me to start getting my head around the fact that, holy fuck, I'm really bloody pregnant.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Fybogel is my friend

Image source: Poor Man's Feast
I thought it was about time I started with the odd photo, but apologies to any pregnant ladies reading for whom a photo of some lovely thin, silky folds of salty, piggy Parma ham is currently an image of the devil.

It's been a couple of weeks since I last bothered blogging because I basically properly HAD IT with being pregnant.  If things went horribly wrong and I lost the funny little thing now, I can tell you what, my husband would have a pretty f*cking hard time convincing me to do it again.  There's been serious repulsion to odours, firstly to olive oil (olive oil?!) but since then mainly those involving cleaning products, so I've been able to wear any clothes I've washed in the last month and after my husband's beautified himself in the mornings I can't go near him for a good half an hour.  There's been repulsion to various foodstuffs - I've had to hide the box of ginger tea I bought when I first found out I was up the duff, having heard all things ginger kicked the 24-hour ass of morning sickness.  That's some beautiful irony for you right there.  In fact, on the whole I'm still not on very good terms with food: I rarely want to cook anything, but broadly speaking by the time the first mouthful's in it is quite welcome after all.  But milky things and fatty things are out, because they make me feel sick, and anything that's famed for its ability to generate even the tiniest puff of wind is also out because JESUS CHRIST am I toxic.  I am having brief addictions to things though, too - last week tinned tomatoes, dear god, I couldn't get enough of them; and this week I've mostly been existing on various combinations of gluten-free bread and lovely, lovely Parma ham.  And Fybogel, obviously.

Fybogel is my friend, my dearest, dearest friend, but it's become a friend I totally resent.  I had enough trouble with my bowels before pregnancy - a gluten-free diet = trouble getting enough fibre as it - but despite the vast amounts of water I'm drinking and the huge quantities of high-fibre bread and brown rice and gawd knows what else I'm stuffing in, my daily attempts at emptying myself remain an ongoing trauma, the details of which are far too intimate to reveal here.  Well, today they are.  I might be persuaded to share them tomorrow.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Week 7: no f*cking improvement whatsoever

I am so utterly desperate for something to make me feel better that I think I've just made myself believe that some travel sickness wristbands have taken away my nausea.  Not entirely, because I still feel like shit, but I'm (literally) gagging to believe I feel ever so slightly better.  I would do virtually anything right now to put myself out of my self-indulgent misery, so if B6 supplements three times a day and two little lavender-coloured bands round my wrists that claim to apply pressure to some kind of magic points alleviate the nausea, I'm simply not going to argue.

I am of course hugely thankful that I'm not vomiting left, right and centre like so many other poor pregnant women, however I'm not very good at being ill and getting on for three weeks of feeling constantly carsick has really worn me thin.  The nausea has been compounded by a ridiculously heightened sense of smell, which I thought I was making up to begin with, until I was unable to kiss my husband goodbye one morning last week because the usually heavenly smell of him totally repelled me.  In addition, I'm now suffering from the worst bloating I think I've ever had (which is saying a lot for someone with a wheat intolerance).  The bloating, just to make things really exciting, results in the emission of the most ludicrous quantities of gas you can imagine from the two usually culpable cavities - top end, so much of it that I ended up dry heaving on my walk to the station this evening; bottom end, I have honestly never smelt anything so toxic in my life).  And this bloody anti-food thing is still going on: I can't hardly bring myself to think about food, let alone cook or eat it, look at it or smell it; thankfully the painful bouts of hunger have disappeared and so I'm just trying to focus on getting through 6 small meals a day, as the whole internet suggests.  But it's a struggle, and I hate it.

I'm in two minds about asking to get signed off work for a bit.  On the one hand, I discovered on Saturday that sitting in bed all day feeling sorry for myself was not the way forward.  I felt worse for it, and all the better for having a wander in the fresh air and sunshine the following day.  Not only does going to work get me out of the house but it also passes the time more quickly, and getting the next few awful weeks (hopefully not months) of morning sickness out of the way as quickly as possible is currently my sole goal.  However, having to get up in time to be at work for 9am is Not Good: I've discovered that a slow, leisurely start to the day, beginning with a banana in bed before I've even raised my head off the pillow, is the best way to introduce me to the day.  But being at work, though the day passes more quickly than if I was rolling around at home, is extremely painful.  Just having to pretend all day that I'm fine and focus sufficiently on the gazillion things I have to do is really, really bloody hard work.  I seem to be coming down with a cold today, so I was able to leave mid-afternoon, excusing myself for "feeling like shit" because I had obvious symptoms, and I suppose I might be able to wriggle out of tomorrow for the same reason.  I guess the best case scenario is if I can somehow wrangle working from home, though I can't really manage that without telling my boss what's going on, and I'm extremely reluctant to do that.

So, the plan is currently just to get through this week.  This coming Monday brings my 8 week appointment (I'll be 8+2) and perhaps my lovely doctor will be able to come up with some miracle way out of the situation.  Until then, COME ON RIDICULOUS LITTLE LAVENDER WRISTBANDS, YOU CAN DO IT!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Woe is me

I've woken up today feeling like I am going to be sick everywhere.  Every single odour that's crossed my nose in the 51 minutes I've been awake thus far has made me want to vomit.  I only have a short commute to work (about half an hour of walking plus a ten minute train ride), however I have a strong suspicion I'm not going to make it there today without retching my guts up - hopefully in a bush, not on a fellow commuter.

I just feel absolutely terrible all of the bloody time.  I've even gone off my food - apart from the occasional 30 seconds where I'm suddenly so ravenous I think I'm going to die (or vomit).

What I'm basically trying to say, I think, is that so far, pregnancy gets the thumbs down.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Throwing babies into bathwater

One of my favourite weekend pleasures is a good hot bath with a cup of tea and a pile of cookery books to leaf through.  I thus started my Sunday morning running steaming hot water into the tub and then, out of nowhere, a feeling of deep panic arose that in a very hot bath, I might boil the bean.  Is a lovely hot bath yet another thing I'm going to have to scratch off the agenda for the next nine eight months?  A quick google suggested that it's alright to have a soak so long as it's possible to climb into the water without turning bright pink and shrieking madly, which is apparently at a temperature of less than 36 degrees celsius.  I'm not sure my turkey thermometer is an appropriate device for measuring the temperature of bathwater, so my fellow beanmaker dipped his elbow into the water and declared the temperature appropriate.  I plunged excitedly into a lukewarm tub, felt cold and sorry for myself for 15 minutes and then clambered back out, grumbling.

I'm also feeling irritable because though the nausea, cramps and sore boobs seem to be on hold today, I am instead suffering (like all good hypochondriacs) from a rather dull, constant feeling of mild unwellness and as a result, am bored by the idea of just about anything I can possibly think of doing.  I feel full yet hungry at the same time and I just want to crawl into bed and wait for tomorrow.  Except tomorrow is Monday, and I definitely don't want that.

Today, it seems, I am determined to be annoyed by everything (except for my lovely hoovering husband).  It seems I am also determined to intend to indulge in it fully.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Pregnant? Me?

Since discovering last Sunday evening that I have a bun in the proverbial, I have been asked if I am pregnant precisely 4 times (including my dad, which was weird) and probed as to whether I'm thinking of bearing children countless others.  I can't imagine why this is suddenly happening but I need to come up with a convincing red herring of a response, and fast, because presumably everyone who's asked me thus far is, despite my negative response, now well aware of the fact that I'm up the duff.

Some of these people were nosey buggers at the wedding I went to yesterday, which was the first occasion at which I had the trouble of trying very hard not to look pregnant.  The first problem lay my discovery that, contrary to my prior belief, elderflower cordial does not look in the least bit like champagne.  I thus had to pretend I was using it to balance out the three glasses of bubbly I'd just necked before meeting the person I was currently speaking to.  The second problem lay, obviously, with the food: the only other consumables at the reception (it was an afternoon do) were sandwiches, cakes and scones.  I can't eat any of that (gluten intolerance), so I ended up eating a teacup of clotted cream and blackberry jam...

...except I did also eat a thing on the DEFINITELY NEVER EAT THIS WHEN YOU'RE PREGNANT list because a friend took pity on me and offered me the rose-pink beef from her little rye bread canapĂ© and I'd been grumbling so much about how hungry I was that I just couldn't turn it down because I thought it would look suspicious.  I've spent the full 24 hours since worrying about whether I've poisoned my undeveloped bean.  I'm just too bloody English for my own good.

Anyhow, despite in no way having my head around this whole thing and being (as of today) 6 weeks gone, I seem to have embraced the role of Indignant Pregnant Woman with some gusto.  When I was annoyed because my plane was delayed; I was unable to find anything I could eat in Heathrow arrivals at 10pm when I was absolutely ravenous; when I was "forced" to queue for 10 minutes at the cash machine; and when I sat next to a chap on the Tube who reeked to the point of making me wretch but I didn't want to move for fear of offending him (see above re: being English) so I sat next to him for 20 bloody minutes... what was my response?  FFS!  DON'T THEY KNOW I'M PREGNANT??

I can see now that on one very selfish, self-indulgent and very superficial level at least, I'm starting to rather enjoy this.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

So the torture begins...

D and I went out to our local Greek restaurant for dinner last night.  Talk about a foodie's worst nightmare: it was hard enough choosing things off the menu taking my gluten-freeness into consideration but now?  Now it seems like the choice has shrunk to almost nothing.  There's feta in everything, for starters, and when my lamb souvlaki turned up it was cooked to perfection, beautifully pink in the middle.  I had to swap it with D's dried up pork.

As my best friend pointed out in one of her amazingly supportive emails this week, you have to really like someone to want to swap your truly delicious plate of food with them.  I've potentially got another 8 months till I meet the bean and can work out if I like him or her enough to sacrifice a plate of lovely pink lamb.  If I wasn't as psychologically sound as I'm pleased so say I am, I'd start compiling a list immediately of all the shit the bean's going to owe me on his or her arrival.  So far: 6 boiled eggs and a lamb kebab.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

It's official.

There's really something growing in my belly.

I saw it on the telly at the gynae's: I'm just over 5 weeks pregnant, she said (though technically 3 - I really don't know why they have to complicate things) and if everything goes alright, it's due to come out on October 1, 2013.  Neither D nor I were expecting that much information and my mind is completely blown.

I can't believe how super efficient it all is here.  I arrived for my appointment and, whilst D sat awkwardly in the waiting room, I did a wee in a cup into which the nurse immediately stuck a test; then they weighed me (awful - especially since she shouted my weight three times at me), removed 4 vials of blood out from my arm and took my blood pressure whilst I stared at pictures of other people's babies on the wall and felt entirely disconnected from absolutely everything.  The next thing I knew I was with my lovely gynae (along with D, whom she was terribly pleased to hear wanted to join in) and she did my annual smear before sticking the lightsabre up me and inviting D to come and have a look at my womb on the screen, exactly like it is in the movies.  D and I were both like, wtf.

The doctor then felt my boobs (annual breast check: again, I love Germany), asked us a few questions, explained us a few things and then wrote me a prescription for a pair of those stockings pregnant women have to wear on airplanes because of deep vein thrombosis (we've got a holiday coming up in March).  Next time I go to see her, in three weeks time, all being well, I'll get my Mutterpass, or mother's passport, where they write down absolutely everything there is to know about me in relation to my pregnancy for me to carry around all the time, Just In Case.  Germans.  She said if I start bleeding or having pain I can just quietly pop by without making an appointment.  I find that incredibly reassuring because I hate talking to the nurses on the phone and given that my doctor said 1 in 6 women will suffer a miscarriage, it doesn't seem wholly unlikely that it might not happen to me.

When we left the doctor, me wide-eyed and sucking on a handful of sweets I grabbed from reception on the way out, I was presented with a magazine and D got a goodie bag full of more magazine, a collection of adverts and a packet of magnesium drinks.  We hid it all under a chair in the living room because neither of us can be bothered to read it (read: I can't face it all just yet).  D's amazing, though: I just went into the kitchen to start cooking dinner and he'd laid out all the vegetables on the chopping board so with a knife so that it'd be less work for me.  Boys are funny.  I think he does understand that I'm a bit confused about the whole thing - even though I wouldn't for a second contemplate not going ahead with having a... nope, I can't quite say it.  But there's not a chance I wouldn't go through with it.  Apart from anything else, he was born to be a dad.  We haven't had a proper conversation about it but I know he knows I need a bit of time to get my head around it.  Mainly because I keep talking about Alien.

Speaking of getting my head round it, yes, it's a massive fucking shock, but after this appointment it definitely feels more real.  Although not that real, as all I have to go on is a woman showing me a picture of a tiny blob.  It could be anything, right?  D might have put a Smartie up there for all I know.  Anyway, my lovely gynae gave us a print out of the blob and everything.  I keep staring at it and trying to work out what it means.  I mean, really means.  For my whole life.  Apart from the fact that in all likelihood, if we get through the next 7 weeks, everything's about to really fucking change.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Bloody Hell. I'm pregnant.

Well, holy crap.

Halfway through my double Bloody Mary at Manchester Airport departures yesterday (after a really good burger at Giraffe) I went and did a poo, which is always good news for those of us who can't consume gluten, don't get enough fibre and are constantly battling with constipation.  Whilst I was there, thanks to a test that my best friend had secretly bought earlier and handed me when the boys got out of the car to have a pee in a lay-by, I discovered I was pregnant.  I returned to the bar, drained my Bloody Mary and told my husband, whose eyes pricked with tears of joy as his hand reached for mine.

I, for someone who has always declared they'd never have children (except for a short period last year, though I think we can safely put that down to the fact I'd just re-entered full time work), remained remarkably calm.  I was probably preoccupied with the imminent flight home, not being a very good flier, or perhaps the vodka was working its magic, but despite the feelings of confusion and utter overwhelmedness, I managed to not totally freak out and attempt to leave the plane at 36,000 feet.  I just mainly sort of thought, well, that explains all the nausea, sore boobs and distinct lack of period; and was very pleased I'd got a good night's boozing at a wedding followed by a good fry up with some lovely runny eggs out of the way before I found out.

Today, however, was a different matter.  Though I think I might already be starting to get my head around it, despite the fact I've hardly had time to think about it (we arrived back late last night and I've been at work all day), I just can't stop bursting into tears.  I'm going to put that down to the hormones for now and just focus on the appointment that my husband (D) has got me at the Frauenarzt ("women's doctor") tomorrow.  Yes, tomorrow.  Gotta love Germany.  He has insisted on coming with me and on top of that, he's also cleaned the flat, washed the stairs, done both the washing and the washing up and cooked dinner with enough leftovers for me to bring for my lunch tomorrow.  I LOVE HIM.

I really, honestly don't know how I feel right now.  It's just a bit of a headfuck, you know, going from not really imagining this would ever, ever happen to me to, well, suddenly discovering it is (probably, if it all works, etc).  Mostly I am feeling very sick, very tired, have boobs that feel like someone's sticking shards of hot glass into them.  That and upset about not being able to eat any more boiled eggs.