Post-labour days at maternity hospital

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After giving birth to my amazing little ray of sunshine, my life has changed. Now that we have been home for almost a month, again, I finally have a spare moment and am in the mood for writing about the three days spent at the maternity hospital after the baby was born.

Before I got pregnant, I never knew how not easy pregnancy is and only then I realised what my friends with kids have gone through. Now I have a whole new appreciation for that. The same I can say about labour and the time after giving birth – I didn’t realise how hard it would be physically to be in labour and give birth, and also – what I would feel like post labour. And oh my, it is hard.

Whilst I was exhausted from labour and birth process, felt physically weak and poorly, I still had to attend to my new-born baby and feed it every three hours. The first night and day with the baby were quite difficult, and thank god I was lucky enough to have my partner with me, helping me with everything. Because of the pain in my lower back and bum it was a challenge getting up from the bed, as I couldn’t sit, not even on my side. Next challenge was undressing and dressing, and showering (with the goal of having the first pee after birthing – that was successful). With all of these things my partner helped me – he dressed me and was next to me in case I’m unable to stand on my own or get dizzy and faint. I didn’t get dizzy or faint though, luckily. But I was so weak that it was a challenge even stepping into the shower, I couldn’t bend over or squat down to pick something up from the floor, I couldn’t dry myself after the shower. Good thing I was able to pee, otherwise they would have put in a catheter down there, which I believe is not very pleasant.

After showering and peeing I got a few hours of much needed sleep. My partner stayed that night and day, but left in the evening of the first day, so that we wouldn’t have to pay extra for him staying and he could bring unnecessary things home, as well as get some rest at home too. So the rest of the days he came during visiting hours. In the three days I was there I didn’t get much sleep at all because at night the baby was fussy, having his first tummy aches. You would think that I could then compensate during the day, especially when my partner was there, but no – every day was busy, not only caring for the baby, but also going to see children’s doctor, gynecologist and getting my blood pressure measured every day. On the second day I also had to go and get an x-ray done for my lungs. In addition to these errands, people would just pop in my room to either examine me or the baby, the janitors came already around 7 or 8 AM to clean up the room and mop the floors, as well as food was brought to the room three times a day. So with all these activities – no sleep for me. On the third day a nurse came at 6AM and just took away the baby to have blood drawn from his hand for some tests. Well, no aspect of that is normal.

When I did have to go to doctors and other errands, that was not easy again. Because all the intestines were kind of loose in my tummy without a baby in it, it was hard to breathe when I was standing up or walking, my diaphragm was sort of misplaced. For this reason I couldn’t even stand straight with shoulders back. Whenever I went to doctors, or to the x-ray, I had to wait in line because they call in many women to the docs at once. I couldn’t sit down to wait and had to stand there, breathless, hunched over. As a law, everyone just had to tell me to sit down, and ask why I can’t sit and I had to explain about my new friends – hemorrhoids. Some other new mummies though didn’t look affected by labour at all, walking around cheery like nothing has happened. I heard one of them say: “oh, not a big deal, I only have given birth, piece of cake!” I envy women like that. But there were some who were worse than me too – I saw a woman who looked extremely exhausted, with terrible bed hair, barely able to stand or walk. Would not want to be her. So I guess I was somewhere in the middle with how I felt.

On the first day I barely ate anything, all I had was some yogurt and maybe a banana or two because I was afraid to go to the toiled with No.2 due to the painful hemorrhoids. On the second day I realised that I don’t have a choice and have to eat, as lack of nutrition was one of the reasons I felt so weak. So I started eating somewhat normal again, and the food that was served was quite nice, I enjoyed it. The one thing I didn’t eat was buckwheat – I hate it. It did happen – I needed to go No.2 soon enough, which was quite an experience, but was not as bad as I feared, I survived. 😀

Every day I brought the baby to children’s doctor who examined the baby, weighed him, he got his eyes and nose cleaned, as well as his skin crevices. His umbilical cord was attended to as well. In the first day the baby spat up bloody liquid. When the doctor examined him and I told about it, it also happened in her presence. It turned out it was from my breast – colostrum in my right breast came out slightly bloody. So nothing scary, I just had to feed more from the other breast and put compresses on the right one.

In the first days babies lose some of their birth weight through pooping, peeing and just drying out slightly. My baby lost about 200-300 grams, but on the third day showed a little growth in weight, so feeding him was successful. On that day my breasts also swell up and were hard and very sensitive – the real milk was starting to come in. The doctor was so satisfied with all this that she offered me to get discharged that day, even though I wasn’t on the planned list. That was happy news for me – we went home just before Christmas. 🙂

Before leaving we had to run final errands – getting baby’s blood drawn from a toe for testing, he had his TB shot done, I got checked by the gynecologist the last time as well.

Around 4 PM on the third day we left the maternity hospital. Before that we, of course had to pay invoices for the epidural and the rooms that we stayed in. I knew that if you have a Riga public transport card, you can get a discount for the services provided by the maternity hospital. Unfortunately, for that one of the invoices need to be redone, and it was even more stupid because the woman at the reception was extremely upset and grumpy about needing to do that. According to her, you have to tell beforehand that you have the card and want the discount, and now she has to do extra work just before Christmas! She didn’t even end up doing it – she called someone else who came and redid the invoice. Such lack of manners, even though I apologised and told I didn’t know, etc. In the end, the discount only applied to the charge for the room I stayed in after labour. I still had to pay fully for my partner staying over, for the room we stayed at during induction, as well as the epidural. Guess how much I saved – 3 fucking euros. If I knew that it would take all this for only 3 euros I wouldn’t have bothered. But it is so stupid that that is all I could get a discount for. I don’t understand why everything else couldn’t be discounted, especially the epidural. So unfair, Riga!

The woman at the reception did lighten up a little and even wished me merry Christmas when I gave little presents upon leaving. I’m generally not a rude person but I have to say it. Bitch!

What I was also unhappy about is that in the last examination at the children’s doctor, my baby’s umbilical cord got basically torn off, leaving a little stub left on the belly button, which I would then have to clean with an alcohol wipe every day. I expected for them to do the right thing – leave the umbilical cord, so that it would just dry up and fall off on its own. They taped a pad over it, which would protect it from infection, and it had to stay on until next day. However, on the way home the baby had a major poop explosion in his diaper, which resulted in the pad soaking in poop, so we had to take it off as soon as we were home. And later it also got soaked in pee from the diaper. It didn’t look good, the remainder of the umbilical cord was basically raw white stuff that wouldn’t dry up, as it was covered all the time by the skin of the belly button, like a hood. Luckily nothing got infected and it did end up healing well. It did anger us anyway that this is what they did to our baby, it was just not right.

Overall the stay at the hospital was both good and bad, there were things I didn’t like, and some I did appreciate, such as having food served three times a day. Now at home I have to serve myself. :p But being home is always the best, even if it is slightly harder. I feel better and better with each day, and hope to be completely back to normal soon. 🙂

 

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Baby is here! Birth story

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In the evening of December 20, 2016, my sweet little ray of sunshine was born. He is now two weeks old, and finally I have some time to sit down and write our birth story.

According to my doctor, I was overdue 41 weeks and 3 days, hence he gave me a referral for induction. Therefore, I couldn’t go to the hospital I had planned to give birth at because they specialise more in births with complications. Instead, I had to give birth at the Riga maternity hospital. So on the morning of the planned day I went there with my partner, both packed up and ready for the big event. At the reception I was looked at, admitted and told that my partner cannot come with me because they are out of “family” induction wards and could only place me in a shared room with someone else who is getting induced. He would have to wait until noon when visiting hours start to see me, and if I didn’t go into active labour until 8PM, he would have to leave until I get transferred to the labour ward. All that is a weird system and I don’t get it – it’s just ridiculous that he can’t be there with me and support me in the process.

Luckily, when I was with the staff member who allocates the rooms for induction, she asked me if I would like to have a “twin” room formally turned into a family room so I wouldn’t have to share it with other expectant mummies and could have my partner there as well. For an extra payment, of course.

So, we got there, I got the baby’s heart tones checked, a doctor saw me, and I was told to take a dose of a powder hourly. That is what I did, was in quite a good mood, just chilling at the room with my partner. Some very light contractions came in moments, but I could barely feel them, I could compare them with training contractions that I would get during pregnancy. With the second dose the contractions got a bit stronger, the pain was around 3 out of 10. Went to check heart tones, contractions showed up there as well. I was still chilling, feeling OK, sitting on the fitness ball and colouring in my adult colouring book. Lunch was brought to us in interesting boxes, and I even ate in spite of the contractions. Interestingly, I could choose vegetarian meals when I got allotted the room. The only difference from a non-vegetarian meal though was that my portion didn’t have a piece of chicken meat on top of rice but my partner did. 😀

At 3 PM I took my third dose of powder. Around 4PM my pains got more intense. Also, I got only about 2 – 3 minutes of rest between the contractions. The contraction timer app on my phone said – “immediately go to hospital!” I still could cope with them, could breath through them by standing up and supporting myself against the wall with elbows. I had another session of heart tones done on me as well. After five hours spent having weaker and then stronger contractions and pains, a doctor examined me – I was only 1 cm dilated. Inspiring, isn’t it? After that I got injected a spasmolitic something in my bum, which was supposed to do I don’t know what. Help with spastic pain, I guess. Also, at some point here, my mucus plug came out.

Funny how the contractions were so close to each other right away – that is quite tiring. The normal labour process would go differently. the first contractions would be around 20 minutes apart, and slowly the intervals would decrease to 15, 10, 5 minutes and the pains would gradually increase. An interval of 2 minutes would normally be there at full dilation, about to push the baby out. But for me – nope, no luck, 2 minutes it is, all the way. So tiring!

Around 5PM my pains had gone very intense, standing propped against the wall wouldn’t help anymore, I was on my knees, supporting my chest and arms against the bed. I struggled to breathe properly through the very frequent contractions. My partner already earlier told me to go get somebody and ask for some pain relief, as this didn’t look normal to him that I’m struggling so much. Eventually I did go to complain that I’m in a lot of pain and contractions are VERY frequent. However, the woman who did the heart tones for me looked at me like I’m a whiny bitch and said – “And what do you want from me?” So after this moment of attitude I retreated to the room to suffer and wait for 7PM when a doctor was scheduled to examine me again. Those two hours were not nice.

At 6.45PM, while I was in my on-the-knees-and-bed position, still suffering, my waters broke. That’s when my partner had had enough, bless him, and ran out to tell the staff that my waters have broken and I need to be seen. Of course, he spoke English, not Latvian. So the only thing that the staff member did was show thumbs up to him, as in to say – very good. She did finally come to see how I am – miserable with pain, moaning. She called for a janitor to come clean up the mess on the floor. I went to rinse myself off in the shower, which felt so nice on my back during a contraction. All the while, the woman came and rushed me to be quicker and that the doctor is now waiting to examine me. I couldn’t even dress myself in the birthing gown and dry myself, my partner did that for me. In the very beginning, I liked that woman, we were chatting about my bump and other things while my baby’s heart tones were taken. At this point I hated her guts, she was so indifferent to how I was and acted as if I was simulating pain or as if I was a weak pussy that I couldn’t handle it.

So, finally I got seen by the doctor, and surprise surprise – my cervix was dilated only mere 2cm!!! Two fucking centimeters after hours of exhausting pain every two minutes! Bless the doctor, she asked if I’m considering an epidural. Yes, please, as soon as possible, please!!!

However, it didn’t happen as soon as possible – first, the had to check the heart tones again, and only then we can move on to the labour ward upstairs. Luckily, at least my partner was packing up all the things in the meanwhile, even though no-one had told him that we are leaving the induction room. Finally, the heart tones were done, and we could move on to the labour ward. Someone said that maybe I should get a wheelchair to go, but the heart tone bitch woman right away said no, she’s walking. I didn’t really need a wheelchair, but who the fuck is she that she can just blatantly say it like that!!! Thank god, I never saw her again and everyone from this point forward was nice and thoughtful to me.

As we got to the labour ward, I was told by the midwife (who was nice) that before calling the anaesthetist,  they have to look at the heart tones for at least ten minutes. Yes, again, even I had just done it, just in a different room of the same institution. But oh well, what can I say, what needs to be done, needs to be done. All this lingering and waiting for pain relief was like an eternity of pain for me, I was well miserable. And nauseous – I needed to have a vomit bowl with me all the time while I suffered. That’s when I regretted having that nice meal earlier. Later, as I was pushing, I was having nasty heartburn and burps with acidic aftertaste of rice. Yuck! Luckily, I did hold my stomach contents in. 🙂 Also, at this point, up until the time when I needed to push, I was shivering like a freaking tambourine and I couldn’t help it.

After these very long 10 minutes, the anaesthetist finally came, gave me an epidural, after which every next contraction became less painful, but still a good half hour passed until I could smile and just breathe through every contraction, rather than wailing as if I was dying. God bless epidurals! 🙂

This is where everything gets grosser – you have been warned! :p

A bit more than half-hour after the epidural was done and I felt like a human again, during one of the contractions, I felt my cervix just opening up and baby’s head sliding down. And even further down with each contraction. The midwife came at 9PM, I told her this, and she examined me – fully dilated! She said that either the epidural had worked miracles by relaxing me so much that my cervix dilated so quickly, or my cervix has torn. In the end, it turned out to be the second version had happened. Because of very strong contractions so often, my cervix just gave up and ripped open. Nice. Again, god bless epidural, because If the cervix ripped while I feel all the pain, I would fucking go mental from pain and panic. Unless the tear of the cervix would be painless. In that case, never mind.

Although I wanted to give birth in a somewhat vertical position, and it seemed like a valid option then, that didn’t happen. I had to push the baby out the standard way – laying on the birthing table on my back, with my legs wide open. Well, whatever, I just rolled with the situation and did what the midwife told me. In the beginning I had to push mildly with my diaphragm, whilst uttering a hissing sound. However, a bit later I had to switch to proper pushing hard. Then, towards the end I also had to hold my knees and push in that position. Everyone was encouraging me, midwife told me to do the pushes like I’m angry, my partner was next to me telling me that I’m doing great all the time. And I was a mess, saying that I can’t do this, it’s too hard, and so on. I did still performed as good as I could. That was proper hard work, I was read from the efforts and sweating. That all was awful. It was the worst when the baby’s head was actually starting to come out, that’s when I was getting panicky. It was the worst when I did manage to push the baby’s head out, but when it was halfway out, the contraction ended. That is when I proper panicked and was saying that I can’t do this, it’s not coming out, why couldn’t it just come out, why did it have to get stuck like this! The midwife then was telling me to listen, like, 15 times, and tried to bitch-slap me out of the panic by telling me to focus, that the baby is almost out, and to thing about the baby, etc. It’s not like I would stop pushing or anything when the next contraction would come.

When the next contraction came, finally I did the last pushes and the baby’s head was out and so was he, a huge relief, and I met him. He was instantly put on my tummy and wrapped in a changing sheet. He only had a little cry and then was just quiet, making just small sounds, being a nice baby. 🙂 I had been pushing for less than an hour. And yes, I pooped a little during the pushes (sorry!). It didn’t matter though at the time, that wasn’t really on the top of anybody’s priority list. 😀 The umbilical cord was cut by my partner already 2-3 minutes later. Although I protested that we should wait until it stops pulsating and only then cut it, the midwife said that it’s not pulsating at all, and gave me to feel it, so there is no point in waiting, it needs to be cut. A moment later, the placenta coming out was nothing, I barely felt it. I did start to feel my vagina burning a bit.

I did have a minor tear of the vagina in addition to the torn cervix. The next worst part of the labour was the stitching process. Even though I got an extra dose of epidural medicine, plus I got injected a local anaesthetic down there, that was awful. The doctor who sowed me up put spreaders in there, and maneuvered them around there to get to all the corners of the cervix and put stitches on. Sowing up what had torn in the vagina was slightly less awful, but still awful. All this took place while I was holding the baby on my tummy. Then, after everything was stitched up, the next awful thing that was done, is pushing on my stomach right above the pubic bone, to see if all the bloody gunk is coming out of my vagina from there. Why? Why do you need to do that?

The baby got weighed and measured and examined, everything was well. My partner put on his first diaper – he already had started pooping. 😀 And he also dressed him. Everybody there was praising him for doing so well and being so confident, dressing the baby, saying that it is rare that daddies are doing that and being so good at it.

According to the midwife – my baby was definitely not overdue. He weighed just over three kilos, he was still partly covered in vernix, and his skin was fine – overdue babies look like they’ve had a too long bath, wrinkly and their skin start peeling. Also the placenta was small and had no signs of ageing. So, my little nugget was forced out instead of coming into this world naturally. I could have waited at least two more weeks, as he looked more like a 38 weeks old, not  41+3. However, I do understand that doctors won’t risk being responsible for waiting in case any trouble happens with the pregnancy and child, so I can’t blame them.

After the baby was dressed, I breastfed him for the first time, and then we were left alone for a while to spend some time there and somewhat recover. Then we were taken to a room – I had to sit in a wheelchair, which was adjusted in a way that the back is down a bit. My bum was very painful, a lot of pressure-like pain there, and just plain pain. Luckily, the room I got was a private one, costing only 15 euros, rather than 60 euros for a family room. For my partner to stay with us the first night, we had to pay extra 30 euros per night. I don’t know how I would manage without him then – I was so exhausted and weak and in pain, so I’m lucky to have him there.

Of course, when we were in the room already and I was laying down, someone came to see me, and again, felt the need to push on my stomach again to see what’s coming out of me downstairs. Why? Why?

To have the first post-labour pee, I had to do it in the shower, instead of on the toilet. I needed my partner’s help getting up, undressing, drying me afterwards and just being there in case I get dizzy and need help with just standing. While showering, I realised one of the reasons why my bum hurt so much – I had pushed out huge hemorrhoids. It is much better now, but then they were horrendous, I felt like I had grown a set of testicles and was half-man now. Again, awful. For a few days I couldn’t sit, not even onto a side, I could only lay on my side. Even laying on my back was painful. That, however, was partly because of the epidural, according to what my partner said.

I then fed the baby again, and he, being the good boy that he is, was so good with latching on to the nipple and suckling. And he still is. 🙂 He is my ray of sunshine, I love him so much that thinking it makes my eyes tear up.

So that was my day at the maternity hospital, giving birth, having an awful experience. All the things I wrote in my birth plan – in vain. Labour didn’t start naturally, and I was induced, I got an epidural, I couldn’t choose a somewhat vertical birth position or sit on a birthing stool while pushing, I couldn’t “breathe the baby out” and was pushing my guts out instead, the umbilical cord was cut without waiting. The only things that I wanted and did happen is that my waters broke naturally, I had my baby put on my chest for skin-to-skin contact, the umbilical cord was cut by the father, and I got a demonstration of what the placenta looks like. But well, at least I didn’t need a c-section and the baby came through the right doors. 😀 Right after he was born, all I could say repeatedly, was “That was awful” and “Never again!”. Now, two weeks later, when the big pains and recovery process is almost over, I’m thinking – maybe one more time, but not any time soon. I hope nobody gets discouraged or scared of giving birth because of the horrible things that happened to me. 🙂

I’ll try some time later to write about the three post-labour days at the maternity hospital, if I have some spare time and baby lets me. Poot! :p

40 weeks pregnant! Baby, come out!

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Here we are, I have reached full term of pregnancy. I weigh 72 kg; bump circumference has reached 110cm. Today I’m actually two days overdue already, yet I don’t feel like giving birth yet, I don’t see any signs of approaching labour. Overall I feel great, I don’t have much of any pains, don’t feel tired (unless I’m active, I’m still lazy though).

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Hopefully the last bump picture of this pregnancy

There were two days over a week ago, when my hips hurt a lot suddenly to the point where it even hurt to walk, it was very painful getting inside bed and positioning myself comfortably. At that point I was certain that labour will start in a day or two, otherwise my hips wouldn’t be doing that. It literally felt like someone had taken a hammer and smacked my bones into many small pieces. However, that pain went away, and my hips are almost OK now. There is still some of the old hip pain there, but I can live with it very well.

Last time I went to doctor, everything looked good or even excellent – heart tones, baby’s positioning, my blood pressure. I did blood and pee test, and turns out these have improved too, as I no longer have iron deficiency anaemia, ferritin is within norm and haemoglobin has risen to 113 (below standard for a normal person, but good for me). That I’m very happy about.

Throughout my pregnancy, I’ve managed to stay healthy and not get ill, except the time when I had stomach flu. I was hoping to stay healthy for the rest of the pregnancy but, unfortunately, I did catch a cold last week and was a bit poorly. At first, my tonsils were swollen and painful for 3 days, then that went away but I had a sore throat and a slight cough for a couple of days. That has gone too, but now I’m still dealing with a stuffy nose. All in all, I’m happy that all of this came in a light form, with no high temperature, and I managed to deal with it naturally, and nothing progressed to a cold badness. I’m also happy that labour didn’t start while I was in this not so good condition.

This week we also managed to do shopping for the last things baby will need – crib bumper pads and a changing surface for the wardrobe, which we have finally also received and which I assembled. We also got a festive fake Christmas tree with built-in fibre-optic lights, which I was joyfully jumping up and down about. That is the first Christmas tree I’ve had since living away from parents, and although it’s small, I love it and it means a lot to me. Now there is one little wrapped gift under it, waiting for Christmas.

Everything seems to be done now, and we are completely ready for the baby to come. I hope it will come soon, at least soon enough that I wouldn’t have to get induced. I trust that the baby knows his own karma and when he needs and is supposed to come. And I hope he knows I don’t want him to tear my vagina apart completely. Well, I don’t want a C-section either, so if a slightly torn vagina is what it takes to not be cut open to get the baby out, I’m even OK with that.

Tomorrow is my hopefully last doctor appointment before the birth, we’ll see how we are then. Who knows, maybe labour will have started even before this appointment. Only the baby knows with his karma situation.

38 weeks pregnant and engaged!

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The first snow came and went, now the second snow has come with the first advent. I’m starting a two-week countdown to my due date. I’m now with my most precious thing in the world – the couch. My days recently are spent sitting on it, binge-watching a Turkish soap opera online. Very unlike me, I don’t really like soapies, but I saw one episode of this one while visiting my parents, and got hooked! It’s a never-ending drama, intrigue and cliff-hangers. I don’t go out or move around much, for which I do feel a bit guilty, I should be more active. I promise, I’ll try to do better!

The only pregnancy symptoms remaining recently is the hip pain, which I’m used to. I tend to have more intense training contractions, which come on more at those few times when I’m not sitting on the couch and am somewhat active. One of those times was a few days ago, when me and my partner went shopping for a week’s worth of food. Good thing I had a shopping trolley to support myself on, as the contractions were pretty much back-to-back constant, and the bump hurt in between them from how the baby is moving in there. Must be a funny sight, me bending over all the time at the shop to relax.

The bump is stretched out to the max and very itchy, I feel bad for the little peanut, he doesn’t have much space to move around anymore, he can just slightly stretch his limbs and change the position of his feet from one side to the other. It’s OK, the day of freedom is getting closer and closer.

I also have gotten some small stretchmarks – not on the actual bump surprisingly, but on my sides, although nothing really seems to be that stretched out there. I hope they will disappear without scarring later, as they look like they’re in the deeper layer of the flesh, not the surface of the skin.

In hopes to prevent or at least lessen tears, I’ve started doing perennial massage on myself – not a very pleasant process to be honest. During pregnancy, everything down there has gotten very sensitive and different. I saw a video on YouTube where episiotomy is performed during birth – no, I don’t want that! And I probably shouldn’t have watched that… No, no, no, no, no!

I’m almost ready to give birth – all the lists are checked off, hospital suitcase is ready, baby has a GP, I’ve written a birth plan, his bed is waiting next to ours. The only thing missing is his wardrobe with changing surface – the shop I ordered it from is late. I ordered both the bed and wardrobe six weeks ago, and have only gotten the bed. Must call tomorrow and demand my stuff, it’s been too long! Because of this, all baby clothes, toys and other things are lingering in his pram and bed. I’m frustrated that I can’t put everything in its own place.

My mum brought me some wool and knitting/crocheting sticks, so yesterday I not only sat on the couch, but also crocheted baby booties by following instructions given in a YouTube video. Finished the first bootie, started the second, and realised when I was halfway through the second that it’s a lot smaller than the first! I had such a laughing fit because of this, with laugh tears, that was so funny! Shared a picture of them with my family – dad said the baby wouldn’t know the difference anyway! LOL! Eventually I took the bigger one apart and crocheted a new one, then they both matched more or less in the end.

 

 

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The ring!

It was my birthday last week. I had a nice and peaceful day with no guests, my partner cooked me dinner while I had cake. We had a skype call with his parents and unpacked presents that they sent me for my birthday. After that call, my partner presented me with his gift – a ring, and not on the phone! We were both holding back tears, as he gave me a touching speech, got on one knee and proposed. I said yes, of course! We are now engaged, I’m so very happy about it and can’t wait to be his wife! I feel so blessed for all the good things that have come my way this year.

35 weeks pregnant!

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Holy guacamole, this is getting real! The birth is approaching inevitably. I’m not freaking out or anything yet, trying not to be scared. I’m trying to look at labour as hard work, that’s why it is called labour. My bump circumference is 106 cm, and I weigh 68 kg on my home scales (70 on doctor’s scales, for some reason they always show 2 extra kilos). Baby seems happy and active mostly, he’s having hiccups as I write this – that happens every day.

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I’m still achy in the hips and pelvis, especially after doing yoga where focus is on stretching and opening hips a lot. After that I do feel like sticks and stones have broken my bones! Hopefully though it is for the best and will ease the birth. In addition to the good old hip pain, I’m also experiencing difficulty breathing, like my nose and airways swell up, especially in the evenings, and I feel like I’m choking. I don’t know if the reason is the dry air due to central heating, or maybe the baby is laying on some blood vessels, restricting blood flow. Also, for a few days I was experiencing hormonal fluctuations, which caused me a few pimples, which I don’t mind, these are the least of my worries. But they also brought on a range of negative emotions. I was angered to the point of tears about what now seems small, insignificant things. Cried my eyes out one day because there was not enough natural daylight to successfully take bump pictures so that they wouldn’t be blurry. Picked myself up the next day, but still felt like crying over little things. Cried a bit about finances melting like butter on a hot sunny day.

Another day, a week ago I kind of had a good day where I got a lot of things done – I went to yoga in the morning, came back home, had a snack, then went to a car workshop to put winter tyres on, and after that went to Baby City shop to buy a bathtub for baby. On the way to the baby shop I needed to pee badly, and was already moaning with pain on the way there in the car. However, when I got out of the car – that’s when it got real! I felt like I can’t move and take a single step because the baby’s head was laying right on my bladder and it felt like it’s the heaviest bowling ball ever. With difficulty, holding on to my partner, I made it to the toilets. Felt so much better after, such a relief. We could move on with buying the baby bathtub. Apart from the peeing thing, seems like a good, resultative day, yet when I was finally home, I crashed onto the coach and all I could do is cry, the long, tiring day and the pee situation had gotten me. This time I didn’t let it continue for the rest of the evening, I let the tension and the tears out, wiped them off after a moment, picked myself up and moved on. I’m proud of doing so because I know how much my emotions affect the baby. Previously, after the first day of depression over the bump pictures, I barely felt the baby move or kick in the belly the next day. So, the sadness and depression gets to him too. I must keep it together for him. Should do things that make me happy.

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Sooo pretty! I love how every smallest twig has a fluffy white blanket!

The first snow came like a ray of sunlight – something nice, instead of the gloomy, cold and wet autumn weather. Now the snow is covering everything like a thick fluffy duvet, I feel so Christmassy! I listened to the Coca Cola Christmas song over and over, it’s so cheery! This might be the first Christmas away from my family, but I hope it will feel special, with our little bundle of joy as the biggest gift we could have.

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Hospital suitcase almost done

I’m slowly getting things checked off the baby-related list. The baby now has a GP, hopefully I’ve made the right choice, the doctor seemed nice when I met her. Have also packed 90% of the hospital suitcase. I now still have to write down a birth plan and I have to wait for baby furniture to be ready. For some reason the shop where I ordered the furniture has not been answering the phone yesterday and today. I hope that doesn’t mean that I will have to start over with the furniture…

This week I had the third and final ultrasound, and Hallelujah, everything is ok! The baby is laying with his head down, is still a boy – saw his balls. Ha ha! He weighs about 2.4 kg, which means he could be about 3.5 kg when I give birth, depending on when that happens. If he comes after the due date, he’ll be bigger. According to the ultrasound specialist, the growth rate now is about 300 grams a week, and my diet affects it. That seems quite a lot. I feel a bit anxious about it, considering that I crave sweets a lot and can’t resist mostly.

Something I wanted to do but wasn’t sure it would happen is a pregnancy photoshoot. As always, the reason why not is finances. A photoshoot would mean a few pretty pictures that make me a bit poorer. In the end, I was presented with an opportunity right when I was doing research about it, and me and my partner decided to go with it. We did a half-hour long shoot and paid 40 euros for it. I enjoyed it a lot, very positive, we giggled a lot, I felt pretty and…. fluffy would be the word, I guess. I think I’ll be blushing, red faced in half of the pictures though, that’s what I’m like. It takes for someone to look at me and it seems like all the blood in my body rushes to my face within nanoseconds. To my surprise, my partner did very well with posing. Up to now he has hated pictures of himself being taking, and him posing for a photo has meant that he just stands there frozen with a weird poker face, no smile, no emotion whatsoever. So, that was nice and positive. About 3 weeks to wait for the pictures, which seems like eternity now. The photographer was very nice too, telling us what to do, what positions to take and implemented the ideas I had too.

For now, that’s all from Ms. Bumpiness!

33 weeks pregnant!

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I am almost 33 weeks pregnant, bumping along, only 7 weeks left until the due date. Thinking more and more about birth, especially because I’m reminded of proximity of labour every time I get a fake contraction, aka a Braxton-Hicks contraction. Mostly they are just uncomfortable, but here and there I can also get a bit painful one, which makes me practice some breathing and relaxing. It will be hard and I hope I’ll be strong enough and will be able to bear all that eminent pain.

I am looking forward to meeting my baby, holding it in my arms for the first time and look into his eyes. At the same time, I feel like it’s going to be a bit weird not having a baby bump anymore, I think I’ll be feeling empty without it. But what I’m really looking forward to is feeling normal, being able to switch sides in bed or stand up without pain in my hips. And I’m hoping that my body won’t look flabby and weird with loose skin on the tummy. Thank god, I still don’t have any stretchmarks, and hope I won’t have any, although they can pop up in the last week of pregnancy. What I have noticed I do have is cellulite, which is bad, but easier to fix than stretchmarks. So praise Shiva and pray to him about all this.

Apart from the painful hip situation, I’m feeling alright. My main focus physically now is to not fall ill – it is autumn, it is cold and damp outside, which makes many people fall ill. I don’t want that but have been on the edge of getting ill for a couple of weeks, so now I’m avoiding being outside for too long, as the cold air instantly irritates and makes my throat sensitive. That sucks because I’d like to go on a walk and be active in fresh air, but because of this I can’t do that and am stuck at home mostly, which is boring and a bit depressing.

My pregnancy brain is manifesting lately as well, lots of small things that I forget but it also got dangerous once. I was driving home with my partner and was approaching a traffic light for a pedestrian crossing. The light went red but somehow my brain registered that as red for the pedestrians, not me. In shock I watched how many shameless people were “braking the rules”, crossing the street during that “red” light, whilst seeing me approaching in my car. I even was about to beep them to show how shocked I was and that you can’t do that. Luckily I had my partner next to me to look out for things like that and he returned me to reality, by repeating “Red light!” three times. Only then did I realise that the red light is for me, not them, and stopped just in time. Thank god for him, because I don’t think I would have stopped, and don’t know how that situation would have ended without him. Not a nice glitch in my brain.

I’m almost done getting baby products and essentials, only a few things left to get. We ordered a 3in1 pram on ebay, cost us 315 euros, which is dead cheap for a normal quality product. I just don’t see the point in spending big money on things like that, some prams cost even over a thousand euros, and that’s just insane! You can buy a car for that! I’m satisfied with the purchase and happy that I could cross one major purchase off the baby list. Another expensive thing to use with the pram and car seat is Lodger Bunker footmuff, which is like a very warm sleeping bag for the baby for winter especially. That cost me around 80 euros. I was thinking of buying a used one cheaper, but these things apparently are so popular and in demand, that as soon as anyone posts an advert about selling theirs, it’s sold and gone within minutes, if not seconds. We have also ordered a crib and a wardrobe with changing surface for the baby, which should be ready in about two weeks.

I also have enough baby clothes and have been washing ironing them recently, which is very tiring and time-consuming. The new-born clothes need to be ironed both from the outside and inside, for the time period while the baby’s belly button is healing. Today I washed the last load of baby clothes and will iron them tomorrow most likely. That is when I’ll be ready to start packing the hospital bag. Excuse me, no – the hospital suitcase. It’s literally like going camping, you need to take so much stuff. I’ve only put in there a labour set of diapers and pads for me, a sterile labour set, and a package of diapers for the baby, and the suitcase is already half full. This is ridiculous. My partner keeps joking, saying: “Don’t forget to pack the kitchen sink!”

Another thing to strike off the to-do list is filing for pregnancy leave money, which I have done, and already got the money, which will have to last for about three months I think. All I had to do is get a sick-leave certificate from my doctor, go to the state social insurance agency, fill in a form, and file both these to an employee. I can apply for the next lot of money – childbirth support – only 8 days after the baby is born, which might be around Christmas holidays. That will complicate things, I think, I’ll definitely have to count on delays with transferring money because who even wants to work around that time! So I most likely won’t get any more money until next year.

One thing I have been delaying doing is finding a GP for the baby. Not a big thing to do or much effort, I just haven’t gotten around doing it. I’m now committed to do that in a week’s time.

I have an ultrasound and a check-up scheduled in two weeks, which is exciting – I’ll get to see how my baby is doing, what position it is in, and if it is still a boy. Until then – Pooot! :p

Approaching 30 weeks of pregnancy

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In 4 days I will be 30 weeks pregnant and my maternity leave will start officially. I am already off work, using up a week of vacation days that I had left. So whoopty-doo, no more working for at least a year! I brought my work computer to the office, so now I’ll be able to free up a bit of space at home and arrange furniture so that there is place for baby’s bed and wardrobe, which we don’t have yet.

Today is the first day that I went out to charity shop and Kilomax clothes shop to buy some clothes for the baby. Otherwise I couldn’t spend a cent on baby things earlier because our budget was quite tight after car repairs. Now I have just been paid, so I want to buy everything! I am looking for the cheapest options though, I don’t understand how a long-sleeve onesie can cost 15 euros at normal clothes shops. I bought quite a lot today and only spent around 20 euros. The clothes are only going to last a few months, so I don’t see a point in spending a lot. Same as with pregnancy clothes for myself. I’ll only get one pretty and new outfit for baby for homecoming, after all it is a celebration. 🙂

I also went to pharmacy today to get Pregnacare vitamins – I’ve been taking Amway Nutrilite daily ones, but ran out a few weeks ago, and thought I would give myself a break from those specific vitamins. That was not a good idea, I’m deteriorating – my nails have become brittle and have started peeling and my tongue problems have aggravated. So, at the pharmacy, I found the vitamins in the shelf and was just looking at other baby stuff, just to see what they have, what I’ll need, etc. The cashier offered her help, asked if I need to buy things for labour, told about how it is cheaper to buy a set for labour, rather than buying diapers and pads and stuff separately. I ended up getting that, and a sterilized labour set (which should be provided by the hospital, but is recommended that I get it myself). In the end she gave me a special discount because we are frequent customers there, and because it’s for a baby, as well as the Pregnacare vitamins came with a gift – a onesie for the baby. Plus I got a 2 euro coupon for the next purchase there. So quite a pleasant experience there, nice that the cashier was so kind to help and give a discount.

I’m happy about buying things finally, as I’ve felt quite anxious about it, the due date is quickly approaching and I want everything taken care of ASAP, so I don’t have to think about any of that and can relax and just enjoy the rest of the pregnancy. Right now, we haven’t gotten much, apart from what I’ve written above. No crib, no pram, no car seat, no wardrobe. The small things, however, are the trickiest because there’s so many of them.

My partner told me that last night I was talking in my sleep. He said I tapped him, and murmured something about the list. He asked a few times, what list, to which I eventually responded – the baby list! So I’m even anxious in my sleep. I’ve now drawn up two lists: general baby list, and hospital “bag” list. Really it will be a suitcase because you practically have to take your home with you, even spoons, forks, mugs, towels, water, anything you could think of, even toilet paper. As if we were going camping for a week. It’s so ridiculous, really. Good thing we don’t need to take a tent, sleeping bags and blow-up mattress with us. Seems like they will literally be providing us only with four walls. What a nice, civilized EU country we’re living in! I really hope I won’t have to stay there for too long.

As to pregnancy symptoms and how I and the baby are doing, everything is kind of the same as a few weeks ago. My hips are still hurting; my lower back muscles start aching when I go on longer walks, but I still try to have them anyway, determined to keep up my stamina. I haven’t really gained much weight lately, and even the bump size seems the same – 101 cm. I guess the baby is growing upwards of my tummy instead of forwards. The baby is active, sometimes makes me jump from unexpected and even painful kicks. Had a doctor’s appointment last week, again, no problems, everything looks good.

This week I also went to pregnancy yoga class for the first time, and enjoyed it very much. I just love the atmosphere at the yoga centre, and the class really is much better than the exercise classes I went to before. What I really loved was that the end of the  yoga class was us mummies just laying down while the teacher worked with singing bowls. I just loved it.

Tomorrow I’ll go to so-called Mummy Thursday at Domina shopping centre. It’s like a free class for mummies, covering various topics, taking place once a month. Hope it’s interesting.

Lastly, another list we need to make – baby names. At least that doesn’t cost anything. Maybe just my nerves. 😀

26 weeks pregnant!

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I’ve come so far – the end of second trimester, where the journey starts to end. So proud of myself for being a strong and mostly happy mummy to be. I’ve had moments of sadness and tears, even just a few days a go, but mostly I remember the good and the happy me.

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Baby bump has grown quite big and symptoms of pokey stomach have changed to achy pelvic bones/hips. My hips are naturally quite narrow and stiff, I can do the splits only in my dreams. So no the bones are shifting for my precious baby to be able to slide through unharmed. However, the pain is quite annoying and I hope it won’t make me unable to stay active for the rest of the pregnancy, which is important. I want to be strong and prepared for the labour.

In addition to occasionally doing some yoga stretches plus squats and other strength building moves, which I do at home, I’ve started attending so-called pregnancy movement classes. They also help, although some of the things or movements seem unnecessary and too easy, and the class instructor doesn’t seem to know how to breathe right sometimes. Well, whatever, I breath the way I know to be right. The classes means something regular, otherwise I tend to be too lazy sometimes and lack motivation to get off the couch when I’m home.

In addition to hip pain I’ve also gotten coming and going small painful lumps in my armpits, which feel  like a huge painful pimple. Doctor explained this today, saying that there are glands in the armpits that are a part of breasts and that they are getting ready for milking, the same as boobs are. So nothing to worry about.

What has made me worry and triggered me to go into miserable crying mode is that my blood test results came back with diagnosis of iron deficiency anemia, as my hemoglobin level has again fallen to 106, and iron reserves are low too. It made me feel so angry because I’ve already been taking so many vitamins, iron especially – in shape of pills and a syrup too. It all seems to have been in vain and I was so very disappointed. Now, unfortunately, I have to take iron supplement called tot’hema in ampules, which is what I wanted to avoid and tried to be so diligent with vitamins. Oh well, I’ve come to terms with it, I guess it could be worse.

Another test that I had to do is glucose tolerance test, to make sure that there are no tendencies towards diabetes. For this I got my blood drawn first, then I had to drink a big glass of very sweet sugary water, sit at the lab waiting room for an hour, get my blood drawn second time, then wait another hour, and then get blood drawn the third, and last time. So my arm got poked with needles three times, as a result of which it is now bruised and looks like that of a drug addict. 😀 The results of that test were OK, at least that’s good. Like everybody else in town, I got up early and was at the lab shortly after its opening time. I had to wait in queue for 30! other people to go first, which took me nearly an hour just waiting for my turn, as there were only two employees servicing people. Could have easily slept in and gone there around 10 am, as that was when there was almost no people there, no queue at all. I was eventually sitting there alone, reading my book in the waiting room. My bum was stiff as hell after sitting in their uncomfortable chair for so long.

Keep on bumping until the next time!

24 weeks pregnant!

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Two more weeks and the second trimester will be done! Time flies so fast, I can’t believe how little is left. Also – can’t wait for maternity leave, so I don’t have to work and can be lazy (lazier). I’m not getting much work anyway, but then I wouldn’t be tied to the work computer.

There isn’t much of pregnancy symptoms to tell, or maybe I’ve just gotten used to them. Still sometimes feel stabbing pains in the tummy, but quite rarely and not as bad, so the extra magnesium supplement has helped. I’m taking extra iron supplement too, and will see if that improves my blood test results when I next do them. Another annoying thing is the itchy skin on the bump, but for some reason it has gotten less itchy (or, again, maybe I’ve gotten used to it). Emotionally I still can get upset by small things, and my mood gets spoiled a lot if my partner starts being cranky or bickering about unimportant things.

One of the things to get upset about was coming up with clothes to wear out on a summery day. Comfortable and good-looking is getting harder and harder to achieve. I have significantly less amount of T-shirts that I can wear because most of them have gotten too short and my bump is hanging out. However, I’m not going to buy new summery clothes because summer is almost over anyway.

[caution – disgusting paragraph] I got shocked a little about my boobs. They haven’t gotten too big or anything, and I was looking at them one day and thinking – how the hell is there going to be milk coming out of these? I can’t see anywhere that they could come out of, as my nipples are just solid flesh. Sounds stupid, but I can’t find and see any holes or dents or anything of that sort that would expel the milk after the baby is born. So, being curious, I squeezed one boob, and to my surprise and shock, a drop of clear liquid came out of the nipple, and not the middle of it, but the corner! Squeezed the other boob, and the same happened, but the liquid came out from two spots on the nipple. Well, that was exciting for me. 😀 Every day is a school day, I guess, and it’s weird seeing my body do that. Also, it was a bit reassuring, I am now certain that I won’t have problems with breastfeeding or with absence of cholostrum/milk when baby is born. So there you go, some detailed, disturbing and weird nipple discharge discoveries from me! 😀

The baby is quite active, I’ve gotten used to him fluttering his extremities in my tummy, and not only can I feel the movements, I often also see them. Makes me feel proud and happy.

A little problem that I have with myself is eating. Because my stomach and all other intestines are pushed up and squeezed in, I have to eat small portions of food frequently instead of 2-3 normal sized meals. I’m finding it difficult to do because I just don’t get hungry that fast and don’t feel like eating often. But when I do, I can’t stop eating, I don’t feel full and want more, more and more. Only when I have stopped, in 10 minutes it dawns on me how much too much I’ve eaten – I almost can’t move or be active, breathe heavy, and every smallest burp feels like could be more than just an innocent burp. 😀 I need to learn modesty when it comes to meals.

Ever since I’ve gotten pregnant, I think some sort of baby mania is happening to me. Whenever I’m out, my eyes are like scanners for other pregnant women, I always notice them, even if they are early in their pregnancy and it is barely noticeable. Well, there is also a children’s playground in the park next to my home, so not much surprise there. But it doesn’t stop there. Nature is also showing me babies all the time. At my home I have an orchid-type plant that never blooms. It had one tiny flower when I moved to my previous flat, but other than that, no action at all. Now, not only has it bloomed, but full on with many flowers. Also my two aloe veras are both having babies. So my plants are following my suit. 🙂 It’s not just plants – also babies of birds have been kind of in my face. When me and my partner visited his parents in the UK, we had a nest of house martins right above our window, which had baby martins. On the second day of us being there, the baby birds were learning to fly, bumping into the window and clumsily landing on the windowsill outside. That was very cute. 🙂 Then another day we went on a walk to a canal about an hour’s walk away, and of course, there were ducks in the canal, and of course, also ducklings. Nothing that special, it is the season after all. We fed the birds some bread, and afterwards sat down on one of the benches next to the water. And then, the most surprising thing happened – the mother duck and its ducklings came out of the water, not just anywhere, but right where we were sitting, in front of us, and started rearranging and tidying their feathers, in order to go on a nap! I haven’t seen anything like that before – usually animals are more timid than that and at least would have chosen a different spot for napping. To me all these occurrences are just fascinating, and I see them as good omens and blessings from nature for me and my little mini-me. It is all so sweet and touches my heart. 🙂

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Courses at hospital about childbirth

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Yesterday was the last of three days of classes at the Hospital about giving birth. Overall it could have been better because much of the content was quickly rushed over, just touched upon, and there was little to no interaction with the attendees, or any practical part. We all just sat and listened, I took some random notes. Only a few bits of information  were new to me, for example, that it is time to go to the labour ward when your contractions last around 45 seconds. But otherwise, I went in already knowing a lot, thanks to the classes about pregnancy and babies that I attended in the yoga centre. Otherwise, if I went there as a blank page, I wouldn’t have understood much.

In the end of each class we watched some videos. On the first day it was about birthing positions, second day – about the actual birth process, and on the third day – about breastfeeding. The videos were really old, from the 90s or so, in video cassettes, and the first one about the birthing positions just gave me and my partner the worst giggles! I tried suppressing my laughs so bad, to not let them out loud, I was in tears! 😀  The combination of the old style clothes, the man’s moustache and the circling hip movements made by the woman, together with her partner – it was all just too funny!

What I did like about these classes is that they cleared up some fears and stereotypes about the birth process and the procedures of the hospital. After the first video I asked the hosting midwife if the fact that a woman wants to give birth in any of those positions is supported by the staff there, because my concern was that it is inconvenient for everybody if I want to do it any other way than on the bed (I was the only one asking any questions, by the way). The midwife responded that you have to come with your own initiative, and be prepared for the labour both physically and mentally . According to her, the problem is that majority of women have not done any of that, come to the labour ward, and instead of moving around, knowing how to breath during contractions, etc., they just get in the bed and stay there, ask for epidural, and that’s it. She said that even if you get an epidural, and it is done correctly, you should still be able to move around, walk and do things and take different birthing positions, you don’t just get paralysed from the waist down. So, if you are the opposite of that, then you will be able to do it how you like it. Unless I change my mind about giving birth there, then I’ll see in December if this actually works out in real life.

All in all, the midwife just encouraged to aim for the process to be as natural as possible, without any interfering with hormone drips or inducing methods, and to try give birth without pain relief. To try to have a peaceful mindset without fear or tension, to see it as hard work rather than an excruciatingly painful nightmare that you don’t know how to get through. If you need interference, then fine, don’t beat yourself up about it, doctors do know better in the end, and many mummies do have complications. But in the ideal scenario the doctors would be there to just monitor your process and be ready to help if anything goes wrong.

Regarding the pushing out period, she told and emphasized that it is not necessary to PUSH the baby out. There should be no need to push as much as you can to get the baby out. Your body will basically take care of it itself, that’s what the contractions are there for, they move the baby out gradually, and there is pressure there, etc. Especially if you are in a position where gravity helps the process as well. Emphasis on making the birth less brutal, make it a beautiful peaceful process and, again, if you have prepared for the birth, breath the baby out. 🙂 Just like I was taught in the pregnancy classes in the yoga centre.

Also, as of recent years they also don’t cut the umbilical cord right after the baby is born, but wait a few minutes until it stops pulsating. It is scientifically to do with the baby’s blood system and lungs rearranging, or something, I didn’t get that completely. But I’m glad about that, it was one of the things I want to happen.

After the baby is born, you are left holding the baby for at least two hours and then a doctor comes to assess, examine and weigh the baby, and a nurse will dress it in his/her first clothes.

So, mostly what I heard was positive and encouraging, I’m glad I don’t feel afraid anymore that I’ll be forced to do something I don’t want to in the process or that there will be objections about birthing positions, or that meds and induction and whatnot will be forced on me. Any medical manipulation that is done, must be explained beforehand, and with some of them you have to sign and give your permission. So that’s all reassuring.

On the last day we also went to see the labour ward, the rooms, premises and equipment. It didn’t look too bad. They don’t have abundance of equipment, but the birth rooms did have a beanbag and a fitness ball, so at least something to use. According to the midwife, they also have laughing gas for pain relief, which is the least intrusive one, and it is also for free, good to hear that. They only have two showers for the entire ward, and the same ones did not look very fabulous – not a positive. We only saw one room for staying in after the birth, which was a private one. It looked very basic and small, but at least it would be private. We didn’t see any of the shared rooms though. If you have a private room, your partner can stay overnight on a very modest worn-out folding bed, but at least that would be for free, instead of ~60 euros per day, like it is in other places. Although, it depends on pure luck if a private room is available for the time of birth or not. I really hope for the best, that we will get a private room, because my partner will definitely not be OK with going home and leaving us for three nights.

Mostly this was a positive experience, although initially there was something that threw us off too. In order to not disturb the main entrance and area of the labour ward, we were told to go and use a lift that isn’t the main lift and brings us to the back of the ward. To do so we had to go through the cellar, which looks quite scary, and even had a cat hanging out there, which is probably not very good for a hospital. My partner joked about the appearance of the place – not only the roads in Latvia have potholes, but also the hospital floors! But I guess that is only the cellar where you wouldn’t be supposed to go normally, and other premises are not scary. 🙂

In the end we were also given two books – about breastfeeding, and one about pregnancy and labour in general. That will be something to read. 🙂