Friday, 29 August 2008

Announcing the arrival of...

One son was so much fun
We thought we'd have another one!

We proudly announce the arrival of
Michael's baby brother

Osric James Gleghorn

on Friday 22nd August 2008 at 2:55 p.m.
Weighing 4636 grams
and measuring 53 centimetres

Philip and Catherine Gleghorn

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Bump photo at 41+5

We haven't taken many photos of my bump this time around. Here is one of me taken today at 41+5.

The best commercial ever made

Monday, 18 August 2008

41 weeks and 3 days...

...and yes, I'm still pregnant. I thought I'd make this information as public as possible in the faint hope of avoiding answering the question multiple times a day. Family members are even starting to sound exasperated, making me feel like a naughty school girl who has missed a homework deadline. I think I'll stop answering the phone...

To update properly, the baby is absolutely fine. I had to go for a series of tests on Wednesday to check his condition. I was on a fetal monitor for half an hour, which Baby O did his best to kick off every 10 seconds. Michael endeavoured to help him by tripping over the monitor cable and pulling the thing off my belly altogether. Baby O is what is called a 'jogging baby'. Happy as a clam, and very active. I then had an ultrasound which revealed that he has a lot of amniotic fluid so still has a lot of space to luxuriate. It is possible that the amniotic fluid is the reason why I haven't gone into labour - the baby is so buoyant that the uterus just isn't recognising that he is full term and it is time to kick him out.

The tests will be repeated at the hospital on Wednesday 20th and then I will be induced later in the week if he hasn't made an appearance. I'm happy with that, as the risk of the placenta starting to degrade increases when a pregnancy goes over 42 weeks. I'm also concerned with the potential for him to be over 10lbs. I'm going to request a scan to measure his shoulders - I don't want to discover midway through an induction that there was never a chance of him being born naturally.

There are no signs whatsoever that labour is imminent, and that is another question I am sick of answering.

Here is a letter I put together earlier for Baby O:

Dear Baby,

OK... you've been in there for 41 weeks and 3 days. Don't you think it is time you parked your bum somewhere else? It may well be like The Ritz in there - all marble staircases and plush furniture - but the exterior is rather more like a tumbledown shack... falling to pieces a little more with every day that goes by...

Do be a dear and consider it, won't you?

With love,
Mummy x

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

2 years ago today...

...this beautiful little boy made his way into the world. Happy Birthday, my darling boy. Mummy and Daddy would be lost without you.


Thursday, 7 August 2008

This and that

We got Ron back from the vet's office last week and he finally has a diagnosis, after the vet conferred with specialists in Utrecht. He has the following:

Kidney infection
Chronic renal failure
Kidney stone

The last two have been steadily damaging his kidneys for some time. The stone has enlarged one kidney and the chronic renal failure has made the other smaller. The vet cannot risk removing the stone, because he needs to preserve what little kidney function remains - cutting into it would cause too much permanent damage. The presence of the stone is a problem because it makes it very difficult to completely cure the kidney infection. The bacteria thrives within the stone. The intended treatment plan is an extended course of antibiotics, a special diet and medication for the chronic renal failure. The vet, after much nudging, estimated that Ron has perhaps another two years of life. It could be longer if he responds well to the medication, it could be shorter if we can't protect him from further kidney infections. He seems to be stable right now so we're hoping for the best. I'm going to have to call the breeder who sold Harry and Ron to us. She needs to know that two of the litter have developed chronic renal failure very young. Ron's treatment so far has cost in the region of 750 euro. To anyone reading this contemplating getting a cat or dog, make sure you get them insured. Fortunately, Ron is insured and we can agree to whatever care the vet thinks is necessary.

Now... news about the baby. Baby O is exactly where he was when I last posted and with no sign of planning to leave. I had a midwife appointment this morning, and he is measuring around 4.2kg (9lb), so exactly what Michael weighed when he was born. Baby O has a lot of amniotic fluid around him which is unusual for this stage, but great for him. He can move around much more freely than most babies at full term. He has been exercising this privilege by spinning around and causing me considerable pain. At my midwife appointment two weeks ago, he was facing to the right. Last week, he was facing to the left. Today, he is facing to the right again. Goodness knows where he'll be tomorrow but I feel black and blue inside. His due date is tomorrow, 08/08/08 - such a fabulous date, but I don't think there is any chance of him being punctual. For the last 3 weeks I have been convinced that he'd be early - shows what I know!

Michael has been pretty miserable for the last week due to the teething and is steadily wandering into the 'terrible twos'. It is his birthday next Tuesday and we hope to make the day special for him with presents and a little family party. We haven't been able to organise anything more elaborate because we have no idea when Baby O will be born. One thing is certain - I'll be keeping my legs firmly crossed on Tuesday. Michael might never forgive me if he has to share his birthday with his little brother.

I think that's all for now. Perhaps the next time I post will be with a birth announcement..?

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Poll added

Inspired by a historical biography I'm reading. State your opinion on tax-collectors and appropriate punishment.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Ron again

We went to visit Ron this afternoon and although he looks much improved, the information I received was less positive. It seems the information Phil got from the nurse yesterday wasn't completely accurate. Firstly, there is evidence of kidney damage in the kidney that has the stone. The stone is of a significant size. Despite the fact that the ultrasound showed no damage to the other kidney, it cannot be functioning properly. One healthy kidney should have been able to keep Ron's system stable, regardless of the damage to the other kidney. The vet is continuing with the hydrotherapy and is also giving Ron antibiotics in case a kidney infection is present. More blood will be taken tomorrow and hopefully the creatinine level will be much closer to normal. At this point, the vet cannot give us a clear diagnosis. More research will be done based on Ron's blood results and an expert will be consulted on Monday. One thing that greatly concerns me is that he might have chronic renal failure, just like Harry, and that is why his kidney could not cope when the other one starting reacting to the stone.

Unfortunately there is nothing we can do but wait and see. The vet's office is very quiet at the weekend and that must be so strange for Ron. He lives in a house with three loud humans and three loud cats. He looked quite reproachful at being kept in a cage and I take that as a good sign - he is definitely much better than he was on Wednesday night.

Friday, 25 July 2008


We nearly lost this beautiful little bundle of fur this week. On Wednesday night I noticed that Ron wasn't looking well. His coat wasn't well groomed and his third eyelid was visible. When he walked, his back legs seemed stiff. Alarm bells started ringing in my head because that is how Harry was when he started displaying symptoms of chronic renal failure. An appointment was made with our excellent local vet the next day and the news wasn't good. His creatinine level was 500 (normal is 100) and his white blood cell count was raised. One kidney was enlarged. The vet suspected a kidney infection and kept Ron in overnight on an IV drip. He intended to scan Ron's kidneys this morning and prepared us for the possibility of putting him down if the kidney damage was extensive.

I worried myself into a soggy mess overnight until we heard back from the vet at lunchtime. The news was thankfully good. His creatinine level had gone down to 300 overnight and the ultrasound showed no kidney damage at all - only the presence of a single kidney stone which could well have been the cause of all the trouble. The vet can't yet rule out the possibility of a kidney infection or another cause, but we have every reason to be optimistic. Ron will remain on an IV at the vet's office through the weekend and the vet will discuss with an expert whether the kidney stone should be removed. Obviously, that can't happen now as he is too weak. We're going to the vet's office tomorrow to give Ron a big cuddle. My poor little Ron - I can't believe how close we came to losing him, and all because of a little kidney stone. I shudder to think what would have happened if his illness had coincided with the baby being born. Phil and I would have been running round like headless chickens. Would we have noticed Ron getting sicker and sicker? I sincerely hope so, but it makes me feel sick to think about it.

Get well soon, beautiful Ron. Xinx is lost without you.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008


Baby O is finally head-down. I had my midwife appointment yesterday and she thought he was head-down and engaged but suspected he had got his legs into an odd position. Given his history of being a twisty turny little monkey, she sent me for a scan this morning to confirm. He is indeed head-down and engaged and in the optimum position for labour. The big painful lump on the side of my bump that I thought was a head is in fact his knee. I really should have twigged that he had engaged because I've been finding it incredibly difficult to walk since Sunday. On Saturday I was fine, and on Sunday I was hobbling around like a little old lady. I can't put into words how relieved I am. In the last week or so I've been reading up on caesarean births in an effort to prepare myself and learning of the hospital stay, recovery time and physical limitations was very alarming. I've never been separated from Michael and being away from him for 4 nights, and then not being able to lift him, would be horrible. The midwife also tried to estimate Baby O's birth weight and she believes that he will be about the same weight as Michael was (4+kg). The words she used were "this will not be a small baby". I was very glad to hear that because Gleghorn babies are not supposed to be small.

Now that my major worries have been dealt with, I can get on with enjoying the last few weeks of it being just me and Michael at home during the day. He's recently started doing the most adorable thing to get my attention. He'll gently cup my face in his hands and turn it to look at him. Who could resist that? Considering all the wiles a toddler can employ to get attention, I consider myself very blessed. He is obsessed with tractors at the moment and wants me to sing the theme tune to "Little Red Tractor" all.the.time. If he can be holding a toy tractor whilst I am singing it then so much better. Janny, my doula, bought him a Duplo tractor last week and he adores it. My mum has also bought him one for his birthday so he is a very lucky boy indeed.

Monday, 30 June 2008

Bird of the day

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Blue-footed Booby.

Sunday, 29 June 2008


I haven't been sleeping at all well for the last few nights. The usual pregnancy complaints are responsible. Therefore, I was quite surprised to get out of bed this morning and have some energy - I got a desperate urge to wash all the internal doors. Must be nesting - in my rational mind I would leave the doors to their own devices. I ignored the urge as there are more important things to be done. I cooked a fry-up, sorted through all my drawers in the bedroom and am tidying away Baby O's mountain of clothes. When Michael wakes from his nap I'm going to sort through his clothes and put all the ones he's grown out of into storage. Baby O can pinch some of his drawer space. Phil vacuumed and tidied the living room so it is gleaming. I have a lovely leg of lamb in the fridge so will cook a Sunday roast when I have a moment. When I was pregnant with Michael I only got a very brief nesting urge (all of one afternoon if I remember correctly, when I felt the need to wash all the windows) so I'd better take advantage whilst I'm in the mood.

Before I forget, I'd like to memorialise something funny that Michael did on Thursday. His favourite book in the entire world is "The Gruffalo's Child". This book came with us on a day out recently and got forgotten about in his nappy bag. We retrieved it on Wednesday night and Michael spent most of Thursday attempting to make me read it to him by bashing me on the shoulder with it. I'm not such a fan of this book because I have read it *so* many times. When Michael went through a phase of being reluctant to eat we would need to read constantly to him before he would even contemplate opening his mouth. Meal times would take in excess of an hour and as a consequence I would feel quite resentful - I wasn't feeding him pig slops after all, it was good food. My opinion of "The Gruffalo's Child" got mixed up with these feelings of resentment. Anyway, back to the story. Michael eventually convinced me to read the book to him and after I had finished, he turned to me and said "Well done!" I was very taken aback because he has never said that before. I said "Thank you" and then Phil and I collapsed laughing. It is quite amusing to be jollied along by a 1 year old. Obviously I made more of a Herculean labour of reading the book than I realised...

Thursday, 26 June 2008

General update

I know - another inexcusably long gap between entries. There have been plenty of times when I've thought "I must blog that" only to be distracted by something. I guess I'll update on the pregnancy first. I've mentioned previously that I'd be given a couple of growth scans and I had them at 31 and 33 weeks. The first gave the baby a predicted weight at term of between 9 and 10lbs. The second gave a predicted weight of 7lbs. So basically they have no clue, but he probably won't be significantly larger than his brother. On that point there is no reason why the birth shouldn't be straightforward and avoid the need for a ventouse. I was tested 3 times for gestational diabetes and after the third negative result the midwife has finally given up on the idea that Michael's size was due to uncontrolled gestational diabetes. Only one issue remains with Baby O and that is that he is still lying transverse in the womb, He was transverse at the 20 week scan and has remained in that position almost constantly ever since. He's rapidly running out of room and needs to turn by the time I have my next midwife appointment in 2 weeks. A transverse baby can't be born naturally so if he doesn't turn there are only a couple of options. Firstly, a scheduled c-section. Scheduled because if I were to go into labour naturally there is a risk of the cord being compressed because the head is not blocking the birth canal. Secondly, a consultant could attempt to manually turn the baby (called a external cephalic version). This has a high success rate with transverse babies but is not without risk. In my case the risk is increased because the placenta is at the front. The doctors need to be on standy to perform an emergency c-section when this procedure is performed. Due to the risks, I doubt that I would agree to this if suggested. At the 31 week scan we got a good look at Baby O's face - he really is a beautiful baby. He was blinking, sticking his tongue out and waving his arms around. I've never had a scan so late on before so we were mesmerised (well, as Phil was trying to keep Michael from wrecking the place, he was mesmerised when he had a moment to look at the screen). We didn't get to see his face at the 33 week scan because he had his arms crossed over his face. No doubt fed up of being peered at - don't blame him!

Michael is doing very well. He is a book addict and expects to be read at least 10 stories a day. We have a pretty big selection and some of the Baby Einstein books have been a real success. He can recognise most letters of the alphabet and even read 'BBC' off a page I was reading. He knows the numbers 1 - 10 and can often point them out when he sees them. He's a happy little chap and rarely tantrums unless he is tired or we are trying to take a particularly fabulous new toy from him (like the phone receiver he ran off with yesterday and did something weird to). He has a good vocabulary now despite having a slow start. The most wonderful thing is that he is very loving and I am greeted in the morning with a big smile and he often blows me a kiss. It makes my heart melt and makes everything worthwhile. Even now, I find myself periodically peeking into his room when he sleeps to remind myself that he's real, and our little boy. I can't wait to find out what Baby O's personality will be like.

I've been trying to prepare Michael in a very simple fashion for the arrival of his little brother. It started with me saying:

Me: Michael, there is a baby in Mama's tummy.
Michael (hopefully): Book?
Me (somewhat deflated): No... baby...

I then bought the book "There's a House Inside My Mummy" which attempts to explain the subject to toddlers. He loves the book but I'm not sure what impact it has had. I always end the story by saying that Baby O is in Mama's tummy, and by putting his hand on my tummy. I put his hand on my tummy when Baby O is moving around too. He was quite startled on the last occasion and gave the area a vague stroke before wandering off in search of his juice cup. Basically, I think he's completely clueless but at least I can say I've tried. I was only a few months older than him when my sister was born and I still remember the resentment I felt when I was forced to wait for attention whilst my mum attended to her. Both my mum and dad are younger siblings and I don't think they could really appreciate what it feels like to be the oldest. Phil is the youngest in his family so between us we should be able to empathise with our children in this respect.

I'm trying to think if there is any other news to relay. I don't know if I mentioned that Phil was promoted to Technical Support Manager back in April? We're all very proud of him. I've told him not to turn into a corporate drone ;-)

I think that will do for now because I need to go and get Michael some lunch. I'll try to post more regularly from now on.

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Thought provoking Times article

Great evil took place in that cellar | Alice Miles - Times Online

I totally agree. It is so easy to overlook those every day tragedies that are in our power to change.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Chattering baby

About a month ago, Michael was barely saying a single word. I was a little worried, although not unduly, because his development elsewhere was spot on. All of a sudden, he started chattering and now has about 20 words. It really is a pleasure to be able to hold simple conversations with him. One such conversation over dinner went as follows:

Me: (brightly) Michael, can you say "spoon"?
Michael: (a little forlornly) No...

Priceless. Before all of these precious first words get lost in the mists of time, I want to make a note of them. Michael can currently say the following:

Xinx (our youngest and most adorable cat)
Cartman (I have a plastic, talking Cartman that I received as a present about a decade ago)
Bye bye
Upsy Daisy
Boots (from Dora the Explorer)

I'm sure I've forgotten some but this is all my memory can dredge up for now. Phil and I are very proud of Michael.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Going wild in the aisles

Over the weeks, I've been making a list of the things we need to buy for Baby O. I hadn't bought anything on the list until today because I wanted the 20 week scan out of the way first. Fortunately, the list is quite small because we have virtually everything we need for a baby boy. I'm glad we didn't sell anything. The list is as follows:

Buggy board
Close Baby Carrier
Portable changing station/bath
Summer swaddling cloths
Muslin cloths
Changing bag

As you can see, we bought two items on the list today. We went to Baby-Dump in Roelofarendsveen. Having gone through the agonising process of buying everything that first-time parents need (and a good deal of things they don't), I was watching the expectant parents with a cynical eye. I found myself tutting at the extravagant claims made about supposedly leak-proof beakers and trying not to smirk at the poor sods who were being sucked into buying the insanely expensive Bugaboo. Alas, I still managed to walk out of the store 170 euro lighter, despite my smirking.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Scan pictures

These are my two favourite scan pictures. Here is Baby O waving to us. It is a lovely clear picture.

This is the profile picture. He has the same button nose as Michael. What a little cutie :o)

Back from the scan

All is well with the baby! Hooray! The scan was even more detailed than last time which was just fantastic. The sonographer went to great pains to tell us everything she was checking for as she did it. It was a colour ultrasound so we saw the blood flowing through the chambers of the heart. It truly was amazing. I'm totally in awe of the technology used. Every organ and limb was examined and measured. The baby was awake and bouncing around - not surprising really since I ate some cheese to ensure that they would co-operate with the sonographer. Cheese seems to be the thing that gets them jumping - with Michael it was apple juice and chocolate. The sonographer told me that I have an anterior placenta (at the front, rather than at the back which is more common). That explains why I can feel only little kicks that don't move the stomach. The baby is also lying transverse which explains the unsual pointed shape of my bump.

Ok... no point in keeping the secret any longer. I'm having another little BOY! He will from now on be known as Baby O. We'll have to start thinking of a middle name to go with the first name we have chosen for him. Lucky thing we have 20 weeks to work on it. Considering the fact that he will have all of Michael's clothes, which will be size-perfect for every season (both August babies), there was no excuse for my spending 70 euro in H&M on gorgeous little baby clothes. I couldn't help myself! I'm a sucker for teeny tiny dungarees. Michael had very few newborn outfits - mostly he just had sleepsuits. I wanted Baby O to have a few items of clothing purely for him.

All in all, a fantastic day. I am so relieved and happy! I'll post some scan pictures in a while.

Scan later today

It's my 20 week anomaly scan later today and I have to confess to being quietly terrified. I'm not going to be convinced that all is well with the baby until I hear it directly from the sonographer. I'm a member of a couple of baby forums and there has been some very sad news of late from ladies who were due around the same time as me. It is very hard not to be affected. I also find it difficult to believe that coughing virtually constantly for 3 weeks can have done the poor little bugger any good.

The one thing I am excited about is that, if the baby co-operates, we should find out the sex. Last time, I was 100% convinced that I was having a boy. This time, I'm not really sure. If I had to guess, I'd say another boy. I'll have to wait and see. I've warned Phil that his credit card will be in some danger if it is a girl because I intend to go wild in the aisles in the H&M baby girl department. I don't normally approve of pink - isn't pink just something that happens when you put a red sock in the wash with a white load?? - but I may be prepared to revise my opinion.

Watch this space, and if you're so inclined, cross your fingers for us that everything is ok with the baby. Thanks x

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Finally on the mend

Remember that coughing virus I mentioned about 3 weeks ago? It ended up being more aggressive than we could have imagined. Michael was 100% well again after a week but I am only just starting to recover. The coughing and streaming nose led to acute sinusitis which eventually infected my poor eyes. Last night was the first night in a week where I didn't spent most of it awake coughing. The situation was complicated by the pregnancy and my being allergic to penicillin. The only medicine I could take was a saline spray for my nose. In the middle of all this ill health was my birthday which was unfortunately a non-event. Today is Phil's birthday and he thinks that we should have a proper double celebration at the weekend when we are both well enough to enjoy ourselves fully. I like that plan.

I don't remember if I mentioned that we are taking a short break to the Peak District next month. We really need a break and I can't wait! It'll be the last vacation we take before we become a family of four. Michael should love the Peak District because he is the ultimate outdoors boy.

Friday, 7 March 2008


Phil took Harry along to the vet this afternoon to check on his kidney function. Happily, there has been no real change since he was last checked 18 months ago. As a young cat, he has adapted very well to the kidney medication he is on and remains in good health. He refuses to eat the special food for cats with chronic renal failure but he is lucky enough not to have paid a price for it. This means that the behavioural problems we have been seeing do not have a medical cause.

Phil discussed the issues with the vet, who believes that Harry is stressed and also jealous of Michael. He suggested that we try Harry on Clomicalm for a month - it is a tricyclic antidepressant. The hope is that it will break the cycle of negative behaviour. I'm not convinced that it will be helpful in the long-term but I'm keeping an open mind. I was researching the drug online and came across a number of owners asking vets for advice with their pet behaviour problems. Whatever Harry's faults, he has never once in 5 years been aggressive towards us and for that I am truly grateful. I hope the medication helps him.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Cats again

Well, one cat - Harry. As I've mentioned previously, we have 4 cats. We have no problems with 3 of them, they are great cats, but Harry is, and always has been, a nightmare. We've had 5 years of trying to find a solution to his destructive behaviour and nocturnal howling. It has recently worsened as he is periodically going to the toilet outside of the litter box. On the last occasion he used Michael's playpen and I was absolutely furious. I foresee this getting worse because with a baby on the way, our attention is only going to get more divided.

Phil called the breeder we purchased Harry and Ron from in desperation. She suggested that Harry is not happy being a little fish in a big pond - translation being that Harry does not like being part of a 4-cat group. She acknowledged that he has a very demanding personality. We have been seriously considering rehoming him for some time but the breeder does not recommend rehoming him alone - she thinks the stress would be too great. She advised rehoming him with his brother, Ron, if it comes to it. I really don't want to lose Ron. We're going to take Harry to the vet this week to check on his kidney condition. It is possible that his litter box issues stem from a worsening of his health. Obviously, we won't rehome him if his health is worsening. We really need to find a solution before the baby is born and after 5 years of trying, we're out of ideas.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Idle parenting

I've just read this article in the Telegraph:

Idle parenting means happy children - Telegraph

I don't know about ditching the vacations and days out but other than that, I'm quite taken by this approach. I think my mother may have gone slightly too far along this path as she used to shove us out into the garden and lock the door too...
I will have to seek out "The Idler" magazine.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Cough cough cough

Apparently there is a coughing virus shooting around the town. Michael has it and now Phil is coughing too. Michael has a fever and is very restless and upset at night. I need to run out to get him some cough medicine. I think I'll be needing some doughnuts for myself...

Monday, 25 February 2008

General update

It is about time I posted an update. Michael had his 18 month check today so let's start with the stats:

Age: 1 year, 6 months, 1 week and 6 days
Weight: 12.605 kg (27.79 pounds)
Length: 87.5 cm
Number of teeth: 16
Food: 3 solid meals a day, plus snacks. Essentially, will eat anything with the exception of egg white.
Current temperament: Tired, grumpy and starting with a cough.
Current location: Sitting in his highchair eating his supper.

We were given a lengthy questionnaire to fill in and bring along to the baby clinic today. The nurse checked that Michael could build a tower of 3 blocks and that he could throw a ball. I was amazed that he managed to build the tower because at home it is all about tower destruction - I build them and he gleefully destroys them (not just knocking them down - he *has* to scatter the blocks all around the room). We were asked about imaginative play and Michael's ability to follow simple instructions. We talked a little about his speech because Phil and I had concerns, but apparently he is perfectly normal. He only talks a little but has about 8 words in regular rotation. All he needs to be classed as normal at 18 months is 3 words in addition to Mama and Dada. Perversely, Michael doesn't say Mama or Dada. He just assumes that one of us will be along to cater to his whims, and he doesn't care which of us it is ;o) He is still incredibly tall (between percentile 90 and 95) which isn't news to us given the speed at which he grows out of clothes.

Generally, he is a happy and very affectionate little boy. I never normally use the pushchair because he likes to walk everywhere. We go for walks of about an hour around the neighbourhood and he never shows signs of tiring. He loves to be outdoors and even more than that, he likes it when Dada bounces him up and down. He greets Phil by backing into his legs to encourage him to bounce him. Right now, bouncing fixes everything. He has cultivated the most fabulous grin which we struggle to capture on camera. It practically splits his face in two.

In other news, I got my blood test results back last week and thankfully I had fifth disease as a child. We'll never know whether Michael had it, but he got over it easily and the baby and I were in no danger. I had a midwife appointment at the end of last week and we got to listen to the heartbeat. It sounded good and strong. We have to wait four weeks for the anomaly scan. At that time, we will hopefully find out the sex. I can't wait! I have been tempted to go for a private scan to find out the sex but I'm not keen on having a scan that isn't medically necessary. The poor child will probably have several growth scans and deserves not to be peered at all the time.

My general blood test results showed that I don't have gestational diabetes - surprise, surprise. The midwife is still not convinced that I don't just have big babies (remember what I just wrote about Michael's height?!?) and I will be tested again further along in the pregnancy. Shockingly, I haven't had toxoplasmosis. The midwife wasn't going to test me for that but I specifically requested the test as I have 4 cats. I have lived with cats since I was 7 years old and used to dig in the garden and let Pepper (my first, and most beloved cat) drink out of my Ovaltine mug of an evening. How can I not have had it?!?

My morning sickness has well and truly gone and I have my appetite back. I have been celebrating by rediscovering the joys of the humble jacket potato. Tonight I made this fantastic meal. It was heavenly. I didn't have any cheddar so I used one of the Spanish cheeses that Phil brought back from Majorca. It tastes a little like Wensleydale and worked very well as a substitute.

Friday, 15 February 2008


Today my home was visited by the Golgothan, who decided to act through my son and cats to make my day that much more interesting. I have nothing more to say on the matter.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Home alone

Phil is away on business in Majorca until Saturday evening. FatWire is having its annual team building exercise for the European employees. Shock, horror, they've actually abandoned the Alps this year and have picked somewhere warmer, and without fondue. There would probably have been mutiny if France had been suggested for the fourth year in a row. I think I have the best of the deal, because although I have to do everything for the cats, house and Michael, I don't have to sit through 6 hours of incredibly boring meetings a day.

Every time Phil has been away since Michael was born (and it hasn't been often), Michael has been ill. This time is no different. He started with the most impressive all-over rash on Monday and I had to take him to the doctor yesterday. The doctor said that it is viral (I had originally been thinking that it was an allergic reaction to some kiwi I gave him) and that she couldn't rule out fifth disease. Ordinarily that wouldn't be a problem because children bounce back well from these illnesses, but unfortunately the virus could be harmful to the baby I am carrying. It can cause anaemia and swelling around the heart and brain if the baby catches it. I had never heard of fifth disease until a few years ago and I have no memory of ever having it. I had to give 4 vials of blood at the hospital so they can check for antibodies. The test can tell if I have been exposed to the virus in the past and if I have the virus at present. Cross everything that I was exposed to it as a child. Fortunately, Michael seems fine in himself. The rash doesn't bother him at all. He sleeps a little more but that is no bad thing when I have so much to do while he naps.

I've been a bit of a domestic whirlwind today - washing, cleaning and cooking. I did manage to find time to play "The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass" on my Nintendo DS. I broke the salvage arm on my ship twice, but other than that it was a good hour of game playing. This evening I think I will order out for dinner - speaking of which, I have to get my skates on and place the order because it takes ages for the delivery (the Spare Rib Express is all the way over in Haarlem).

On that rushed note... bye!

Monday, 11 February 2008

Choosing a name

Choosing a name for the new baby is proving to be more complicated than I anticipated. When I was pregnant with Michael, we had already selected a single name choice for both a boy and a girl. We stuck to that and Michael Alexander came into the world. In The Netherlands you only have 3 working days to register your baby's birth with the local town hall so you have to have a name ready to go.

I must confess that I sometimes regret giving Michael his name. Not because I don't like the name - I do. Simply because I have never thought that he looks like a Michael. To my mind, it doesn't suit him. He's a very affectionate and engaging character and if I had had longer to decide then he might have had another name altogether.

This time, Phil and I have decided to pick out several names so that we can try to match the name to the child. We've narrowed the choices down to 3 or 4. Last night I was idly browsing and I came across the most fantastic and extremely old English boy's name. I mentioned it to Phil and to my surprise he really liked it too. It wouldn't have looked out of place in the England of 700AD but today it would certainly raise some eyebrows. It is the name of 4 English kings and a Shakespearean character.

A distinctive name can be a blessing or a curse for a child so it is a hard choice. Phil and I are stubborn individuals so we would not avoid a name we really liked simply because it is not on a top 100 names list. However, there is always the mental image of our son returning home from school in a towering temper and cursing the day we named him.

A very tough choice.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Morning at the hospital

Today has been.... arduous. I had to go to the hospital in the morning for the Down Syndrome scan and I also had to give a blood sample to check for gestational diabetes. The first required me to have a full bladder and the second required me to fast for 10 hours beforehand. With morning sickness and a hacking cough thrown into the mix for good measure, you might have some understanding of why I used the word arduous.

Phil and Michael came along with me. Unfortunately we had a long wait everywhere we went. Most importantly, the scan went well. The sonographer took a very long time examining the baby in silence. I tremulously asked if there was anything wrong after watching her face for a time, and she told me that she was just concentrating on capturing the perfect image to measure the neck fold. The baby was looking wonderful. We saw the spine, which always astounds me with its perfection, and we heard the heartbeat for the first time. I won't find out my risk for having a baby with Down Syndrome until the results of the scan are combined with the blood test results and the average risk of someone my age. After the scan was over - and, incidentally, ow! Being jabbed in the belly for 15 minutes is not fun! - I dashed to the toilet. I completely forgot that Michael can get upset when I disappear from view and I could hear him crying for me. He is such a happy little guy that I forget how much he still needs me. The sonographer told me that he is my little satellite, orbiting my world and the reason he has confidence is because of my presence.

Michael was pretty unhappy after we left the sonographer's room. He didn't want to go into the waiting room when I went to get blood drawn. He kept taking my hand and trying to lead me away. Eventually I got seen and managed to get away with a finger prick test rather than having to give yet another vial of blood. We were all very happy to leave the hospital, although I haven't felt all that well since. I didn't get anywhere near enough sleep last night and I don't think the fasting helped much. Eating little and often is the thing that keeps the morning sickness at bay. I had been putting off having the gestational diabetes test for weeks because I didn't want to have to fast. Ah well, all done now.

I wanted to write an entry devoted to Michael but I feel so drained that I don't know that I'd do it justice. If I write when I'm tired, then when I read it back it seems passionless and I want to do Michael justice. If I get a good sleep tonight I promise to post in lavish detail about my wonderful son. I'll also force Phil to upload some new pictures to the gallery so I can show you what he looks like now (cute as a button, but in serious need of a haircut!)

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Decided to announce the pregnancy

I decided to publish all the posts I have been keeping back regarding my pregnancy. I had a bleeding scare at the weekend and an emergency scan on Tuesday. The baby is absolutely fine and there was no sign of bleeding. He was scratching his ear and twanging the umbilical cord which was fabulous :o) The scan was slightly longer than normal because the sonographer was explaining everything she was doing to a young, male trainee. I am never a big fan of men working in gynaecology but I guess everyone has the right to choose their profession.

You may be wondering why I am referring to the baby as a 'he' this early on. Although there is no way to be sure until the anomaly scan, the sonographer had a good look at the baby's bottom and it looked to be a boy. Also... the feet were huge so I can't believe that it could be a girl! No wonder I've been feeling some movement already!

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Chocolate Rain

I've had the "Chocolate Rain" song in my head all day long. It is Phil's fault, really. He sent me the link to the YouTube sketch I posted about earlier. From that I started looking at other Star Wars sketches and I found a Chad Vader cover of "Chocolate Rain". Naturally, I had to watch all 8 Chad Vader episodes and seek out the original version of "Chocolate Rain". Now I have an earworm that just won't leave so I thought I'd spread it around.

Here is the original "Chocolate Rain":

This is the Chad Vader cover:

Enjoy and don't say I never give you anything ;o)


For your urgent comedy needs.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

New due date

I went for a dating scan today at the hospital and was told that the baby is measuring 5 days ahead of dates. I know my dates are accurate because I was charting and using OPKs on the month I fell pregnant. I guess this means it is going to be another big baby. My due date has been changed accordingly to...


How cool is that for a birthday?!? I know it is only something like 3% of babies that are born on their due dates but all the same, very cool. I'm anticipating that it will be another boy given the size and the fact he/she slept through the whole scan. The midwife was even trying to wake him/her up by jabbing my belly. The cheek! Poor baby. If you can't get some peace and quiet in the womb then where can you?

We would probably have gone out to dinner tonight to celebrate but we are all exhausted with a capital 'E'. Michael just isn't sleeping well at the moment. He wouldn't nap at all yesterday and ended up crashing out on me for a while. In the middle of the night he woke up crying and then a couple of hours later he was whimpering for some considerable time. In the end, an hour before our alarm was due to go off, we were all awake so I brought him into bed with us. He promptly curled up in the crook of my arm and slept the sleep of the innocent for the full hour. Lucky him. I just couldn't get back off to sleep and had a dead arm to boot. It was lovely to snuggle up with him, though. I've given him some Nurofen tonight and have to hope he sleeps better although I am not optimistic as I have already been up to him once.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008


Every time a new series of Masterchef starts, I do a lot more cooking and baking. For many years I was incredibly passionate about cooking and loved to try new recipes. I can't quite explain it but that stopped when I had my first miscarriage. I mostly only do family meals now and am not as adventurous as I used to be. It is difficult to find the time to get the spark back when I'm chasing around after a toddler.

I thought I'd start with some simple baking so I made some soured cream soda bread yesterday (with half the salt that the recipe called for) and an old-fashioned cherry cake today. The cherry cake isn't out of the oven yet but the smell is heavenly. Unfortunately, I won't be able to eat it because the stupid glacé cherry manufacturers put E127 (Red #3) into the ingredients. This colour is considered unsafe in pregnancy in the amounts commonly consumed so I can't have any. I decided to make a cherry cake because I have a lot of ingredients left over from Christmas. I'll probably make a bread and butter pudding sooner or later to use up all the currants, raisins and sultanas.

I love cooking for Phil because he appreciates practically everything I cook. I say practically because in the eight years I have been cooking for him, he has disliked only one dish. I can't blame him, it was a vegetarian dish that called for large chunks of fennel. You either like the flavour of anise or you don't. Phil doesn't.

Michael has also developed a healthy appreciation for food. He'll eat anything, and if he can steal it from my plate then so much the better. I am so pleased about this because he was still eating fully puréed foods at 13 months. I began to wonder if he would ever be able to cope with a coarser texture. Almost overnight, it seems, he turned into a mini gourmand. I watched him eat an incredibly stinky piece of cheese that was offered as a taster in a shop a few weeks ago. He ate every crumb, but unfortunately smelled like his Daddy's feet for the rest of the trip. Whiffy doesn't cover it!

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Pregnancy update

I haven't posted in quite a while but I'm actually armed with a good excuse this time - I have had pretty horrible morning sickness for the last month and, coupled with exhaustion, I haven't felt like posting. It would probably have been a big moan, anyway.

So... here I am at 9 weeks pregnant. I had a scan at 7 weeks and saw a baby that was perfect for the dates with a heart pumping away. It is quite amazing the difference between a scan at 6 and at 7 weeks. With Michael, I was scanned at 6 weeks and just saw a flashing dot. At 7 weeks this time I saw a chest and the heart itself pumping. Amazing. The sonographer could see a small bleed on the scan but said it was probably an implantation bleed that was being reabsorbed.

Today I saw the midwife for my booking in appointment and I cannot believe the huge amount of paperwork I have been given! I have a dating scan next Wednesday, a consultation for the Downs Syndrome testing on Thursday, then I have to give a huge number of vials of blood and have another scan at 12 weeks to check the nuchal fold. Because Michael was such a large baby I have to have a test for gestational diabetes. I have had two diabetes tests in the past (one during pregnancy) and both have been normal. I think that the midwife should just take a look at Phil and recognise that no child of his is going to be small. Michael is still pretty much off the chart for height at 16 months. Still... I can't blame her for being cautious.

I have probably mentioned before that homebirths are standard in Holland unless there is a medical reason necessitating a hospital birth. I have been advised to give birth in hospital because of the complications with Michael's birth. His size led to a ventouse delivery and him suffering a broken collarbone. I can have the baby at either Spaarne Ziekenhuis in Hoofddorp or the VU in Amsterdam. The difference is that an epidural is not available at Spaarne outside normal office hours. It will probably all come down to how quickly the labour progresses. There will be regular growth scans in the third trimester and I may be induced if the baby is approaching a size where there is concern that I won't be able to deliver naturally.

I informed the midwife that Michael is still breastfed and she is happy for me to continue as long as I am comfortable to do so and the pregnancy remains low risk.

Whilst all this information was being exchanged, Michael was charging around like a small bull elephant and managed to bang his head on the desk twice. Poor Phil had a hell of a time keeping him still. I think he'd better stay at home next time!