Short Version: leftovers cooked up - recording pregnancy signs, arguing over trifling organisational matters to do with nurseries, plus thanks for the comments on the last post.

Thanks for the breastfeeding advice. I feel reassured. I'm still thinking about the pros and cons of various buying/renting options as per suggestions, but in a much more relaxed and informed way. Also, cheers for the extra book suggestions. And the tips! Some really great tips.

Today, however, I need you to weigh in on a much more important subject: should a reference book on parenting be classified under "book" or "nursery item"? I say "nursery item". Mr Bea says "book". Having to move them backwards and forwards across the house in a passive-aggressive ritual of unspoken marital defiance is getting kind of old, but at the same time I know from experience that it could go on more or less forever before one of us gives in.


I haven't been recording signs and symptoms well this last month, and I feel like I might regret it, or not, who knows? In any case:

  • I started getting Braxton Hicks contractions around the beginning of the third trimester. Mr Bea witnessed one and expressed surprise over how it looked. Apparently he was expecting my stomach to go inwards with each contraction. I pointed out how muscles get hard and bulgy when they contract and tried using my arm muscles as an example, but unfortunately I don't have any arm muscles.

  • I started being able to feel daily foetal movement from, say, 24-25 weeks. Gradually I started being able to feel movements more than once a day. At around thirty weeks the movements have become fairly regular and frequent, and much more varied. This chain of events didn't build steadily - rather, The Foetus has had wriggly and non-wriggly days. Even now he has quieter days where I have to concentrate a bit more to make sure he's moving enough. I can't feel as much when I'm walking around.

  • I got swollen ankles this one time. I wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't had OHSS. When I had OHSS I tripped over the carpet in the hospital and went crashing to the ground with my drip stand. I broke the tubing and fluid and blood went everywhere, but it looked and sounded more dramatic than it was, which, by the way, is always the best type of accident to have, especially when the nurses are already running around like chooks with their heads off and you've just added extra jobs to their list, because they'll look upon you with sympathy and appreciate your "bravery" instead of clicking their tongues at your clumsiness and refusing to bring you your pain meds on time.

    However, I did manage to hit my shin on something as I fell, and the other night I noticed that I had an indent where the scar is. Except it wasn't an indent - just everything else was outdented. But only slightly. I went for a gentle swim and that seemed to help. It hasn't happened again since.

  • I am coping in this heat. I have been using the fiendishly clever trick of adjusting my physical activities to keep myself within a comfortable range. I do pretty much all of my exercise in the aircon (yoga/shopping centres), in the pool, or after dark, and I never overdo things. I don't, however, know how much longer I can cope with people asking me how I'm coping in the heat. On the other hand, thankyou for your kind concern, and please don't think I'm ungrateful for it. I only sound ungrateful. Ok, fine, I'm an ungrateful bitch, but it's the hormones. Can we get back to the book classification question?

Short Version: I had another appointment, doppler scan, all fine, stopping clexane. I then embarked on research into breastfeeding. Includes book review for Breastfeeding Made Simple.

So I was standing in this shop the other day after my appointment.

Wait. Let me go back a bit. I had another appointment to do the doppler thingy and decide what we're going to do about this clexane business. Upshot - all the relevant blood vessels, placental structures, and associated bits and pieces (such as the amniotic fluid, kidneys, etc) look fine, so SOB suggested it might be time to wave the injections goodriddancebye and maybe transition to low-dose aspirin only, or maybe not, considering there's no discernable medical need for it in my case but it might make me feel less freaked out about stopping meds. Anyway, after much frantic googling I decided to go hands-free. I've just had my first medication-free twenty-four hours since... mid-July 07. I am nervous enough to keep having to sit down and do a kick count for reassurance, but the fact that I can sit down any time and do a kick count for reassurance is making this a tremendous amount easier than other parts of the process have been, so all in all I'm ok. But what was I talking about? Yes - after the appointment.

To celebrate, I dropped in to buy more baby stuff on the way home, just a couple of sheets, nothing fancy, except suddenly I found myself in conversation with a sales assistant on the subject of breast pumps. I wasn't actually in the market for a breast pump, and she thought that very cavalier of me. "If you want to breast feed, you need to buy a good-quality pump before the birth," she warned, sternly.

Now, I know this isn't true, on account of the fact that the practice of breastfeeding predates the invention of the breast pump by some hundreds upon thousands of years. Which isn't to say I'm convinced I'll never need a pump, or that I think it'll all come naturally if I just shut my eyes and really believe, but starting out on the assumption that a prenatally-purchased breast pump is the only way I'll ever achieve my goal when I don't, at this time, have any reason to think I'll be worse off than the average mother seems a little... whacky? I'm looking for a more appropriate word, but I can't find it. It sounds like someone trying to earn a nice commission off a $700 breast pump, is what it sounds like*.

In response, I decided to go out to a bookshop and buy a book on breastfeeding, because as we all know, if some biological process isn't working out for you it's probably just because you're ill-informed, as any Aunt Jane will attest. In any case, I was dismayed to find that the first two books I picked up both espoused the same opinion - that a prenatally-purchased breast pump is essential for successful breastfeeding. They also went on about how different types of pumps serve different purposes, but failed to say how you'd know which to buy ahead of time when you don't even know what your supply's going to be like yet. Both turned me off further by promptly following this with dire warnings about using a fail-safe method of contraception whilst breastfeeding, although, to be fair, we were planning to use the failsafe contraceptive method of not doing IVF, so perhaps I'm on their side with that one after all. Anyway, I ended up shelving both of these and instead buying Breastfeeding Made Simple, which I wish to review even though I haven't finished it yet.

First I'll say this: be careful with this book if you're going to beat yourself up in the event that, through no fault of your own, things don't work out. The authors do acknowledge that special situations can stuff things up - they even have a whole chapter on physical or health issues - but first you'll have to read about how much stupider and less healthy formula-fed babies become not to mention the importance of the breastfeeding act, as distinct from the milk itself, and to be honest I think they cross the line at some points and enter into the realms of breast-feeding hysteria**. And they needn't think I'm impressed by their constant quoting of studies, because I happen to know that you can find a study saying almost anything if you really look***. So whilst, yes, I'm on board with and motivated by the idea that breastfeeding is a good first choice - I already bought the book, didn't I? - I'm just not convinced that adding a little formula or a bottle here and there is going to cause the world to end, or the baby's head to spontaneously combust.

If you can get past that, however, the rest is good, common sense. I like the way they talk about the history of breast-feeding and the evolution of certain practices and myths. I like the little notes on comparative cultural and species practices. I like the way they explain the normal, mammalian physiology and how their advice stems from it - in short, the way they want you to understand breastfeeding, rather than just learning it by rote - and I like the way this flows naturally into the area of trouble-shooting. I love that they don't mention breast pumps until page 188****. And I love the fact that, despite being a US publication, they realise that most of the rest of the world uses the metric system. Because seriously, what the fuck is an ounce, anyway*****?

Through my reading so far, and putting the "motivational" scare tactics about the importance of breastfeeding firmly into perspective**, I have started to gain confidence that, if things don't work out the way we want them to, it won't be my fault. It won't be, for example, because I didn't purchase the right breast pump at the proper time. At the end of the day, that's exactly what I was after, and I couldn't really ask for more from any publication. I guess we'll just see how it all plays out in real life*.

*If you have assvice about feeding or other books, please feel free to comment. I'm not hostile to assvice, I just reserve the right to ignore it at my own peril.

**I don't want to frighten you off. Almost all of the book is quite sympathetic, they acknowledge and try to provide information on (and extra references for) specific problems, and the amazon reviews have people saying it helped them with their "breastfeeding baggage" and was "encouraging and empowering". It's just some of the stats they quote at the start about the importance of breast milk might be a bit hard on those who ultimately can't make it work.

***Actually, I am a bit impressed, just not as impressed as they seem to think I should be.

****The book is some 250 pages long. This is many more than the other books. The pages are also bigger and with smaller type. Mr Bea raised his eyebrows when he read the claim that it was "making things simple", but this sort of ground-up approach always takes a lot of space to put forwards. Anyway. I'm a geek. It fits.

*****Don't answer that. I don't feel like I should have to know.

P.S. New belly pic up. Email me if you're confused about where.

Short Version: Other people comment on my pregnancy.

The woman at the local roti prata shop pointed to my belly and said, "Seven months." Then she waited, watching me keenly to see my reaction. "Close," I said, doing a quick weeks-to-months conversion, and she grinned smugly. I suppose this means I look roughly the "right" size, whatever that is.


I met someone I hadn't seen for some time. "What's this?" she asked. And then she added, "Well done!"

Well done? I've always thought "congratulations" was pushing it slightly. Congratulations sits more comfortably with exam results or career achievements in my mind. Congratulating someone on their pregnancy seems a little like congratulating them on being tall. Nevertheless, it's the word we use to convey what we actually mean, so I don't spend much time thinking about it. But "well done"?


Last Sunday, someone asked how far along I was. When I said twenty-nine weeks, she exclaimed, "Oh! So the baby could be born any day now!" I replied that I was hoping for a good 'nother month or two, thinking, holy fuck - did I just say as little as a month? "Babies come when they're ready," the woman counteracted sternly. Don't I know that, already.


**Actually, I have another one:

This guy who works at our apartment praised me for going out and doing the shopping on foot. "Exercise very good," he said, giving me a big thumbs-up and an encouraging smile. "Very good for pregnancy. Just slowly, slowly - don't fast, lah. Very good!" This, and a few other comments (like the ones about how healthy I look) make me feel as if I'm gathering a little cheer squad around me, chanting, "Go Pregnant Bea!" as I enter the home straight. Which is very nice, but of course I need it now far less than I've needed it over the last few years. Mental note: must try to encourage others more randomly. It's hard to tell who really needs it.

Speaking of films, I finally saw Juno. I know - the discussion is over, but wait, because I have this one thing to add.

**Warning - post may contain spoilers.**

The two chief complaints I heard about this movie were that the adoption process doesn't work like that, which is something I'm going to leave aside for now, and that the whole thing was too pat and stereotyped. Highly-strung infertile career woman who would probably fall pregnant if she relaxed meets working-class pregnant teen willing to place for adoption and they all live happily ever after. I want to focus on the highly-strung infertile career woman. Because this is an infertility blog and it's the angle I identify with most directly.

Maybe my expectations were set too low, because I really didn't find Jenny's portrayal that bad. The first time we meet her is as she desperately puts the house in order before the initial visit. The picture frames are straightened and minutely arranged, the handtowels are monogrammed and perfectly aligned. In any other film setting, I would have thought, "We're about to meet an anal control-freak," but not this time. This time I thought, "We're about to meet a woman who, after years of heartbreak and turmoil, is nervous as hell and terrified of losing this chance." The careful arranging of picture frames might have drawn soft snickers from a few members of the audience, but I thought, "Don't laugh - you'd be the same."

So too at the merest blips in Juno's behaviour - like turning up unexpectedly, or an out-of-the-blue groan. "Is something wrong? Is there a problem with the baby?" she'd ask, with an edge of panic in her voice. And I thought, yes, I know how she feels. I'd ask as well.

And so, in all probability, would you.

See, it's not like I've traditionally been described as highly strung. On the contrary, I've been assured, in the past, that I come across as calm and laid-back. What I saw in Vanessa was not a woman who, by nature, was an anal perfectionist wound tight enough to snap at any moment, but a woman whose life, for the past five years, has been about loss and disappointment, hard work without rewards, plans that crumble and gambles that always work out for the worst. I saw a woman trying, but struggling, to live in hope. I saw grief. I saw the wounds of infertility.

I think it's important to remember, when you meet someone who's "just typical" of "that sort" that they rarely started off that way. It's so often not that they came to where they are by being who they are - rather that the same forces concurrently shaped both their situation and their personality.

When reminded, most of us claim to know this already. But when we can't be bothered with sympathy, we conveniently forget.

I got an email from someone just dying to get cracking on the next IIFF, so I've just posted the theme! It's a tight deadline - screening from Saturday 29th March - but I know you can do it! Anyway, read all about it on the site!

Whilst you're there, or, actually, in addition to going there, you might want to look at Stars - a short made for Rob's wife after the stillbirth of their son. It's being entered in Rumschpringe: A Very Short Film Competition, and to get anywhere it needs to be rated and favourited by as many people as possible. Go! View! Before Tuesday! Bring tissues...

*I almost forgot - any prizes won by the Stillmans will be donated to Ephrata's Neonatal Infant Care Unit.

I kind of wanted to get that last post off the front page before the weekend. I have a wonderful husband and I wouldn't swap him for anyone. Except maybe... no, let's just stick with that first sentence. Because, actually, it's true.

However, I don't have much to say. Maybe you could skip this post and go over to say hey to Vee and Max, because they do need support.

For those still reading, I should probably confess, after the bravado of Monday's baby purchases, that everything* is still sitting in its original packaging in the spare room (aka The Room That Doesn't Exist) with the receipts securely taped to the front. However, I did book prenatal classes. I guess I'm going to need to know about labour and delivery either way, and quite frankly it would be silly, at this point, to prepare for everything except the possibility of a live, take-home baby. I considered going in unprepared for any sort of good outcome, but I think it would be overdoing the pessimism slightly.

Because, check me out! I reached the end - no no, the beginning** - of another gestational week! Without any risk factors for preterm labour, stillbirth, pre-eclampsia, um, let's stop this list short by just adding "or anything else bad", I sometimes feel silly singing, "Whee!" as I tick off the little milestones. I imagine some of you reading, thinking, "Lady, you don't know the meaning of either fear or relief." So I want to set the record straight before we go any further - when it comes to last-trimester bollocksing-up of pregnancy outcomes, I do not know the meaning of either fear or relief. But I still get a small sense of victory each Friday as the ticker ticks over. So, for what it's worth, and with all due consideration, "Whee!"

*ie. both things

**It's a fine line between too much pessimism and too much perkturdiness. We all waver.

Short Version: 28 week appointment gloriously boring. We celebrate the third trimester by buying not one, but two actual baby items, and I try out my brand-spanking new Shrewish Nag persona.

I don't have too much to say about today's appointment. Things are normal. They measured the same stuff as always and it was all normal. Except for the bits where I morphed into a shrewish nag. That was not like me at all.

When the first of our friends conceived (only shortly after we'd started trying ourselves), somebody in the group came across this paper about the enhanced cricket-hunting abilities of mother rats (upon which we all made lame jokes about getting her around to our houses to do pest control, whether she'd eaten any particularly nice insects lately... well, I told you they were lame). The jokes were based around the idea that pregnancy miraculously imbues one with various super-human powers. It's the "you grow an extra pair of hands when you have children" conceit. You know the one. Which, of course, is not how the paper says it at all.

The paper clearly concludes that it's not some magical superpower that comes packaged with the pregnancy hormones, like the ability to stack on weight or forget the question that just popped into your head within the space of time it takes you to draw the breath to ask it*. No, it's nothing as mystical and magical as that - it's just necessity plus practice. Which leads me to believe that anyone who needs to multitask like crazy at any job with demanding response times is going to have an enhanced ability to hunt crickets, metaphorically speaking, and the fact that, for most people, parenting is the busiest, urgentist, and multitaskingest job they'll ever have in their lives doesn't mean a childless person can't possibly acquire the same skills in a completely different way. Which means there's hope for us all. So goes the thought I'm clinging to.

You see, it's since I've started having to arrange my entire day around cooking, cleaning up after cooking, eating the very second I feel hungry, grocery shopping via public transport in a city where I need to go to five separate and widely-dispersed markets to do a full shop, and still getting the same amount of everything else done that I would normally do, that I've become a much better multitasker than I used to be, whereas over the same period of time, Mr Bea's life has gone on more or less as usual, which means he's still multitasking at the old rate.

And it's driving me batshit freaking insane.

Suddenly it seems like he never gets anything done. This led, earlier today, to the main problem, which is that, in the grand tradition of a hundred generations of housewives before me, I have started to bark orders at him. Don't question me - just do this, do it now, and have it finished within five minutes because I can't stand your fucking duffing about any more. Except in the long term that doesn't teach anything and is irritating to us both. And in the short term it makes him slow down and act stupid, just to be perverse.

So now I finally understand how it all happens, I have only two questions remaining: for me, it took the deep-seated urgency of a voracious pregnancy appetite to whip my skills into better shape. What will it take for him? And how soon can we start with that?

Because if I have to go through another shopping trip like this morning's, just to buy a co-sleeping cot and sling that I'd already decided on beforehand such that the entire trip should have taken ten minutes at most including waiting for the sales assistant to become available, I'm seriously going to have to get Mel to change me over to the Single Mum By Choice category on her blogroll**.

That feels much better. To finish on a positive - third trimester! Baby stuff! Improved multitasking skills! I wonder when it starts feeling "real"?

*Yeah, well, I'm still sticking to my "pregnancy hormone" excuse.

**Don't worry, I'm not really serious about this at all, I'm just ranting and I probably shouldn't even joke. Although if anyone has husband assvice, feel free to add it to the comments.

Short Version: The Foetus vs My Sleep - rounds one and two of this exciting battle. Also, happy Spring Festival, and have a shiny and prosperous Chinese New Year!

A week ago, I informed Mr Bea that we had probably, all going well, had our last night of decent sleep for quite some time. The Foetus, you see, has started kicking hard enough to wake me up. A week later, I realise I should have placed more trust in my physiological abilities. Let me explain.

I'm a heavy sleeper. My body craves sleep. My mind craves sleep. In my past, my body and mind have conspired to produce awe-inspiring feats of sleep protection, well above and beyond the call of duty, or even, perhaps, evolutionary sense. My parents still tell the story of how I fell out of my holiday-home bed with nary a wakening. My record for unconsciously and repeatedly hitting the snooze button is two full, consecutive hours. I can carry on whole conversations with people who use the trick to make sure I really am awake this time, whilst serenely slumbering on. I can even answer the phone. "It's as if," my mother has sometimes commented, between clenched teeth, "you're still trying to catch up on the fifteen straight months of sleep you missed right at the very beginning." In fact, when next you wonder why babies scream at the same number of decibels as a jackhammer operates but ten times the stomach-clenching urgency, think of me. People like me are the reason for that.

So I should have known that my brain would have no trouble working around the slightly unusual sensation of being jostled from within. Last night, for example, I was in the middle of a dream. The plane flight I was on had crashed onto our old highschool sports oval, and the survivors - of which I was one - were being asked to audition for a new reality TV show. As I stood chatting to one of my fellow-contestants, I started to feel a kicking sensation in my belly.

"I didn't know you were six months pregnant," said a passing member of the crew, pausing beside us.

"Yeah," I confirmed, matter-of-factly. "It comes and goes." And right on cue, as we watched, my bulge stopped wobbling and flattened into the usual, non-pregnant shape of my abdomen once again.

I slept through til morning, at which time I awoke to find the pregnancy hadn't really gone at all - thank goodness. Never did find out about the reality show, though.

Everything feels a bit... thing... this week, what with the loss of Sylvia, Claire and Lucy. Forgive me if I don't sound as whacky as I would have liked. I can't imagine they feel like the world should keep going, just at the moment.

Short Version: I talk about parenting assvice.

First, there was the hazing, which I brushed off, laughing merrily. Oh, how merrily*. Then came the pregnancy assvice, which I shook my head at. (Did you know I shouldn't be picking things up off the floor, let alone doing any housework "in my condition"? Apparently it's true. I should either hire a maid or make my husband do it all. My job, so they tell me, is to remain seated with my feet up eating healthy, pregnancy-safe foods - preferably with "the girls" - and maybe popping out to yoga every now and again. I know! I would have fallen pregnant much sooner if I'd realised. Because it sounds so relaxing.) This week is an extra-special occasion, however, because I have received my very first ever piece of parenting assvice.

I feel so... accepted. So much a part of the club.

I have dreams in my head, you see, of trying all sorts of hippyshit parenting methods, such as co-sleeping, babywearing, exclusive breastfeeding, and yes, even cloth nappies. It's as if the infertility taught me nothing. My cloth nappying plans are the ones which have become the subject of specific criticism. Apparently it will be too much washing (quite a shock after all that time off housework, I suppose), will be dirty and smelly, will promote nappy rash, will be fiddly, and just generally won't work well enough. Now, I've read a lot on both sides of the cloth/disposables debate in reference to all these points, so I quickly accepted that no amount of rational argument would go anywhere. Instead, I pointed out how cute cloth nappies can be. Somehow, everyone seemed to think this was such a valid and important point, that we were left with nothing further to say.

The thing is, I started out wanting an easy, spontaneous conception and a low-intervention pregnancy. In reality, I have worked with what I've had to work with. But there was nothing inherently wrong with my first choice, as many happy couples will testify. So yes, I acknowledge your cloth nappy concerns, and I admit that there are pros and cons and that things might not turn out as peachy as all that. But if the best you can do is, "You'll see!" then you're wasting your breath. Because, trust me, I'm well on board with that idea.

*Last night The Foetus was tumbling around and I was thinking contentedly about how great it all was when suddenly it occurred to me: holy fuck, that whole baby's got to come out of there at some stage! I expect this thought to represent itself periodically.

Just a note to say, in case you hadn't heard, that Mary-Ellen and Steve could use some thoughts just now.

(As an aside, if I haven't commented on your blog, this is partly from business but also because a) bloglines hasn't been updating properly and b) my comments have been getting eaten, especially but not exclusively by wordpress. I've been trying to read as much as ever.)

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