Hello fatty

Ok. It’s time for bump photos. There’s a cartoon in our borrowed Kaz Cooke book, “Up the Duff”, about how not to choose your obstetrician. I found it very funny when first pregnant, and since then hub-in-boots will sometimes look up as I walk into a room, and announce “hello fatty”.

We do have a viking helmet at home, so if we have any labour ward issues, I’m getting hub-in-boots to wear this outfit and follow our doctor around.

He gets away with the hello fatty thing, mainly because I am still a kilo or so lighter than my pre pregnancy weight, despite the burgeoning bump that tends to enter a room several seconds before me. Make that just about to hit / surpass pre pregnancy weight. Bugger!

Put it down to the strict diet (that is getting tighter and tighter) to keep my gestational diabetes blood sugar within the guidelines. It gets harder as pregnancy goes on. Anything that is not a low GI carb, anything sugary or fatty, any eating a second helping, and it sends my blood sugar sky rocketing within 2 hours, (with the added benefit of finger pointing & head shaking from one of the three health professionals that checks out my glucose diary every fortnight). Consequently I’m pretty bloody careful. It’s a catch 22, as the dietician is worried about my lack of weight gain, but the blood glucose stops me eating any more.

My sister asked me the other day do people notice i’m pregnant when I am out and about, and I’d say generally, no, unless I’m wearing light colours. To the point where i had several old ladies elbow me out of a scarce seat at an event on the weekend with a huffing sense of entitlement ! Because of our situation, I’ve been in pretty limited interactions outside friends & family I guess, so people not noticing surprises me. It won’t be long now til I’m impossible to miss! 27 weeks: Ok this just got ridiculous. At Dr South Korea today, the receptionist tried to itemise my invoice for a gynaecological appointment, not obstetric, and when I corrected it asked twice if I was pregnant!

28 weeks: Addendum: at almost 29 weeks, that bump is pretty hard to miss. Old ladies smile at me now. Though at dinner tonight, after I finished a plate of fajitas bigger than my head, my sister kindly informed me I “just looked a bit fat”.

We didn’t take early bump photos, mainly as there didn’t seem to be a lot to see, (and the whole bleeding like a stuck pig routine kind of cuts into your photo shoots & tends to take priority). It still surprises me when I scoot past a mirror on the way to the shower or something, and catch a glimpse of this funny thing attached to me. My head hasn’t quite caught up with the ‘hello fatty’ state of the world.

19 weeks: nothing to see here
21 weeks 3 days: illegal outing. still not a lot to see in the bump department!
23 weeks 4 days
24 weeks
25 weeks 4 days
26 weeks: helloooooooo fatty.
27 weeks: off to the Brandenburg Orchestra

Gumby continues to move to a scary degree, looking like a fish moving under the surface of water or something out of Alien, most of his movements are clearly visible from the outside. He’s already a big boy at 1.3kg (2lb 10oz). 28 weeks: no idea how much he weighs now.

Things have been quiet on the blog this week. Little reading, little commenting, no posting. Because we been BUSY.

Hub-in-boots took a week off work, and in an action packed frenzy of decluttering, charity donations and filling the entire apartment block’s bins, we are three quarters of the way through cleaning up the flat and getting a nursery ready. A nursery pic post to follow. It feels amazingly wonderful to have a space ready. Deeply satisfying.

There’s also been a run of doctors appointments, all with good and /or little news…fantastic blood glucose readings, happy dieticians (that want me to eat more. A dietician TOLD ME TO EAT MORE.), and a visit to the doctor formerly known as Dr North Korea.

Ok, he’s still Dr North Korea, but he’s not being badly behaved. So we’re sitting tight. Possibly stupid, but it feels right. He brought us a long long way from the dark old days of BASTARD the clot and a rather dire prognosis.  I’m able to disconnect from him a bit now, and not feel bullied about. The power is most definitely still with us in this relationship. Possibly because we haven’t paid his bill yet. And are not going to, until the very last possible minute, say the 29th of June? Any sign of bad behaviour, and we’re out of there like a rat out of aqueduct. But I reckon we can do this with him on the team.

There is still talk of possible natural labour. Exciting.

Gumby was in a fully engaged position this week. Head down in my pelvis. Freaky! Doesn’t the blood rush to their heads? Apparently he may move out again, but is unlikely to turn breach from that position (unlike my good self, who greeted the world ass first). I’m very happy about this. He’s moved from a big scary 91st percentile for gestational age, to 77th, which is good. So instead of being the biggest boy in his class, he’s now only bigger than three quarters of the other kids. Hopefully this means the diabetes is not affecting his growth too much. After a slightly worrying quiet few days, he is back to being completely mental in the action stakes, making very very visible kicks pokes rolls and flutters in several manic sessions a day / night. He is busy in there.

Hub-in-boots survived his first hospital pre natal class on Wednesday, which was relatively free of the almost at german porn level of videos we’d been warned about, and featured a “fresh one” in the form of live and kicking two day old Hamish. He was very cute, and his mum looked unreal for a 24 hour old caesarean! The midwife educator was excellent. The hospital seems to have a very natural birth / let mum and baby bond focus, is very pro breastfeeding, and everyone we’ve encountered there is easygoing and kind. I am very very comfortable we’ve chosen the right place for us.

Here’s the bump 28 weeks just prior to Eurovision. I look happy because I found non alcoholic German beer for the party by Bitburger. Yum.

28 weeks hello FATTY

You’ll have to wait 24 hours for the megapost involving Eurovision, 29 weeks, nursery makeover, Gumby happy hour and a Gumby gear stocktake. We’ve just been out for a giant mexican nosh up, we’re bloody full of damn fine food, and as to the flat, we got us some cleaning up to do.

 
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Toot toot chugga chugga big red car

The Wiggles announced their retirement yesterday. All except the Blue wiggle, Anthony, who clearly must have gambling debts and crack whores to support. Anthony admits he’s suffered with depression, just like many parents subjected to hourly reruns of Wiggles DVDs. They could replace the Dorothy song previously used at Guantanamo with a wiggles number, if the American military is running out of ways to breach human rights.

In other news, the Aussie champion Moto Gp rider Casey Stoner is retiring for family reasons. (Perhaps he’s had second thoughts about ending up in a mangled wreck of twisted metal like his Italian and Japanese friends, now that he has a kid. Who can blame the man). I thought perhaps for a new family friendly job he could become the Red Wiggle, but as my friend suggested he’d probably want to drive the big red car pretty damn fast. And if Casey was driving it’d probably be a two wheeled Honda, and it wouldn’t go chugga chugga.**

If only Jeff had got treatment for his narcolepsy, the group might have lasted. **

So I guess a Wiggles concert is not something I’ll get to experience with Gumby. And you say this like it’s a bad thing….

In yet other news, we visited North Korea yesterday. Dr North Korea to you.

I had been on the phone to the counsellor about our decision prior to the appointment. I THINK i was 95% in favour of a change. Unclear at the start of the conversation, everything I was saying to the counsellor led me to changing doctors, to the land of choice and progress that is Dr South Korea. Listening to the conversation, I think hub-in-boots began to understand my reasoning.

And then we dodged the snipers and visited his dictatorship. To find it a changed place.

There was a tacit decision by both of us not to look towards the large oak door as he swept into the room before the waiting minions. He seated himself closer to the giant desk, and we sort of continued our conversation about the retirement of decommissioned cruise ships to Russia (seriously). We were seated back from the desk, and towards each other.

He looked different. The air was kind of charged. He talked briefly through the scan report, not mentioning the other doctor’s name at the top of the referral. He expressed pleasure at the absence of the clot. He didn’t know I’d called it after him (BASTARD). He mentioned the “echogenic area” in the baby’s bowel was resolved. He spoke more slowly.

Any questions ?

I felt myself folding my arms. Tried to stop. Couldn’t stop it. “nope”

What about you, Stewart? Any questions?

Stew met my eyes. Deadpan. “nope”. There was silence. Dr North Korea looked from hub-in-boots to me. And back to hub-in-boots. Hub in boots went on.

“Actually, I wondered if you could run us through the scenario you see unfolding now that we’re in this different position, without the clot.”

Dr North Korea went on to talk about how at 16 weeks he did not think we’d make 24. At 24, he didn’t think we’d make 26. And yet here we were. He spoke some of the magic words “39 weeks”. He used the N word “essentially, everything’s NORMAL”. He went very slowly through the diabetes, looked at my blood sugar diary, complemented me on progress, asked for my endo’s feedback. He said some doctors would have me on insulin now, because any change takes two weeks to filter through to the baby& we don’t want a disproportionate abdomen as it shows Gumby is being affected by my sugars. But he did not query the other doctor’s choices on this. For once.

We resisted the urge to woop, holler and hi five. The dynamic of the visit was weird. The central focus was with us. We didn’t feel rushed, or trapped, we were nonchalant. We out nonchalanted him, and we were not relying on him for ‘salvation’. The power sat quite clearly with us. It was palpable.

As he helped me up onto the bed for the ultrasound, he looked me in the eye and said “would you like to attempt a natural labour?”

What the hell?

“it will depend on the position of the baby of course, and his size, and the diabetes, but you may be able to. At 26 + 5 it may be hard to predict at this stage. But it is certainly something to consider as things unfold.”

Yet again I was speechless. This felt like treatment with choices. We’re we still in north Korea? Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.

We went through the usual measurements, Gumby had a bit of a kick which I saw on screen. He was hard for me to see again, head down, up to 1.2kg (so how the hell am I losing /maintaining weight?).

As we went back to the desk, Dr North Korea paused, and then launched into an apology.

Hub-in-boots and I did not make eye contact, but I could hear the intake of breath at my side. You could have heard a pin drop.

“I understand you rang and spoke to B and were very unhappy after the last visit which you came to with your sister. I think we all had different purposes on that day. I wanted to apologise for that. I understand, as a woman, that you come in here wanting the most natural labour and birth possible, regardless of the kind of pregnancy you’ve had.”

“yes I do. And I understand that we are an unusual case, and it is not easy to predict. However I feel that I need to know if certain things are possible in the birth we end up having, like skin to skin contact, like early bonding, and breast feeding, that it will be actively facilitated, not discouraged. I understand everything is if the circumstances allow it.

He went on, I forget the exact words, but he basically admitted he had been out of line. He talked us through what would influence the caesarean v natural decision as events unfolded closer to full term, he never mentioned any dates other than full term ones. He explained the choice of anaesthesia would most likely be driven by who the anaesthetist was on the day & when they were educated. He did mention special care nurseries if there’s blood sugar issues for baby, but we knew that.

There was lots of content. But it was clearer, slower, full of choices.

We left, and hub-in-boots shut the door, and said
“THAT BASTARD! He’s made it such a hard decision now! It was so clear before we walked in there. It was like it was a different doctor! That must be the doctor that other people get.”

So we were confused, but walking taller. So much dark cloud lifted off our heads. So much anxiety we could let go of, at least partly.

We went and signed a one year lease for our place. Then we went to vinnies to find an outfit for Eurovision. Because, shit, when you’ve had all your worries lifted, and you’ve sorted out where you’re living, and you have a baby on the way, what you need is a bad eastern European styled outfit. They are gorgeous. Shiny. Hideous in their beauty. We can’t reveal it ahead of the party. But stay tuned for the photos. We are gonna be beautiful.

And I know if we decide to stay in North Korea, people will think we’re mad. There’s two people to care for here: Gumby, and me. This makes it a complex decision. I know in my heart that with many other doctors, I would have stayed on at work. I would have continued normal life. And the clot would have won. The extremely conservative way I’ve been managed by this doctor who was, more often than not, a complete ass, may have saved our son’s life. may have turned this from the hair’s breadth that separated the two scenarios, from horrible tragedy to miracle story with happy lively ending.

Am I prepared to suck up some personality issues for that outcome? You bet I am.

Would I prefer someone I clicked with a bit more reliably with?
Yes

Is it important that Dr North Korea is on staff at the public hospital with the best neonatal intensive care, just in case?
Yes.

Did the simple act of getting another opinion change the trapped feeling and bad dynamics for you, permanently?
Yes.

Would you go back to North Korea for a second pregnancy?
Probably not. But ask me later.

Are we living in a cartoon world where one doctor is all bad, and one is a shining light?
Yeah, probably not.

Does he really really realise you are not doormats and he is not god now?
Yes. Unequivocally.

Would he make a good member of the new Wiggles?
Yes. And if he ever pisses me off again, I’m just going to imagine him singing “hot potato, hot potato”, complete with gestures. In a yellow skivvy.

Knowing all this, and after yesterday, the decision is not easy. It is strange to have absolute faith in someone’s abilities, be willing to put yourself in their hands, and still not be sure if you like them very much.

We see Dr South Korea next Tuesday. I still feel like he is there for us if we need him, willing to step in at any stage. Perhaps this is the best of both worlds.

But no one’s getting their $4k bill paid, just yet. Not til after Eurovision.

** the Wiggles are an Aussie kids entertainment group with such songs as “big red car” and “hot potato”. They wear skivvies . They were previously an ordinary adults rock band when I was a teenager; they’ve made lots more money this way. For the record I don’t like captain feathersword, and felt their early work without the other characters had more artistic integrity. Jeff is my favourite. Like me, Jeff has trouble waking up. Once, my niece was making a wiggles big red car cake, and I kept eating Jeff’s icing head. Three times. Poor Jeff.

The glory that is Eurovision

Russia’s 2012 entry. I love them.

Ah Eurovision. It’s my favourite time of year. A time to celebrate all that is tasteless, kitsch, and blue eyeshadow about the world. A time to revel in dodgy voting systems and bad accents. A time strip off velcro attached clothing mid phrase, to drink on every key change, every peasant instrument, every dancer dressed only in white, every giant Maltese woman wailing in a flowing mumu. Take it to the bridge.

For several years now, wherever I’ve been, Eurovision has been a serious business. First inspired, perhaps, by the sardonic commentary of English footy presenter Terry Wogan, and later just for its sheer piss-weak-worldness, Eurovision is a time for celebrating mediocrity. The worse the song, the more we want it to win. The bigger the hair, the bigger the fan base. If you’re thinking “but it’s just plain weird” then you don’t get it, and you need to work harder at embracing your inner eastern European; which is like you in 1982, minus the money or taste.

Last year, the outfits were easy. Germany was the host country, and we lederhosened up, drank beer, and ate sausages und sauerkraut. Other years, in Russia, we made Moscow mules and wore giant fluffy muffs. Hub-in-Boots in Lycra tights and a bandanna almost put people off their food.

What the hell do you do for Azerbaijan ????

Our ‘party’ is essentially a gathering of tastelessly attired adults, sampling the drinks and food of Europe, shouting at the television, occasionally trying to learn the dances and playing Eurovision bingo and/ or drinking games. It is about as hip as Eurovision itself. This year, I have the added glory of dressing Eurotrash AND maternity. That should be special, but at 6 months pregnant w diabetes, it may cut into my beer smorgasbord and sausage fest a tad. It is important that Gumby is introduced to this cultural revolution in the womb, because his parents’ Eurovision parties may well become a staple childhood memory.

Just as some parents believe in the Mozart effect, we believe in the Eurovision effect. The ability of introducing bad synthesisers and back up vocals to encourage a lifelong tolerance of 80s music, rigged democracies and tragically time warped cultural stereotypes.

10 sleeps to go til the semi finals.
Happy first Eurovision, Gumby. Mummy and Daddy have no taste. Get used to it.

Hub in boots – Eurovision 2011. Out of a sense of respect for the good people of the internet, I left out the photo where you could see his chicken legs.