Monthly Archives: April 2010

Charley Horses

In England we call these cramps. In pregnancy you call them the nighttime miseries! In the middle of the night I sometimes get a charley horse in my leg. According to

“If you’ve ever had a “charley horse,” then you’re already familiar with the kind of leg pain that many women encounter during pregnancy. No one is entirely sure why these sharp, lower-leg cramps crop up during the second and third trimesters; doctors theorize that it may have to do with the pressure of the uterus on certain nerves, fatigue, or decreased circulation in your legs from the pressure of the baby on blood vessels. In any case, you may be awakened with sudden painful spasms in your calf muscles (they most often occur at night). They aren’t fun, but they’re not usually cause for concern, either, unless they persist and are severe, in which case you should tell your healthcare provider.”

I seem to get them more often when I haven’t been drinking enough water, but maybe that’s just me. I have heard that wheatgerm lessens the frequency, but the cure is simply to stand up. It seems once the blood flows back to the area, you’re good to go… back to sleep.

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Maternity Clothes

Undies from Blooming Marvellous

Well, I’m back home after a week of schlepping around the UK. Parts were fun, parts were sad and parts were just exhausting. But one part that was wonderful – maternity shopping in the UK. They have clothes that real women would wear. And underwear that looks cute and not like something aging ladies over 65 might prefer for “comfort’s sake.”

First we went to Harrods where everything was inevitably outrageously expensive, but gorgeous. Then, we were in the adorable town of Marlowe about 20 minutes outside of London (20 mins drive from zone 5) and I found a little boutique called Blooming Marvellous ( where the clothes don’t have massive elasticated waistbands, but small, more hidden waistbands and buttons inside so that only at 15 weeks they actually stay up.

The bras and knickers were adorable. Cute, comfortable and even sexy – can you imagine! A woman in my condition actually feeling sexy – deliciously scandalous! They swear by non under wired there for pregnancy, which makes sense to me.

And here was the ultimate kicker – I caught a few men there checking me out. I was wearing tshirts (the weather was lovely) and you could see what looks like my beer gut and yet, men still thought I was worthy! All this and 6-month maternity leave with pay. So, if you’re feeling frumpy or uncomfortable, may I suggest a little hop skip and a jump across the pond for you?

I’m already forgetting my baby

It’s every mother’s worse nightmare – forgetting your baby and accidentally leaving them somewhere. But does every expectant mother forget from time to time that they are growing a baby? I do. Especially days like today – the vet is coming to our house today to put our 14-year old wonderful dog to sleep. In the last 24 hours she’s lost control of her legs and can’t move to go outside, or to get up out of an uncomfortable position. She is physically exhausted. Just hours after that we’ll be on the plane to England to see my friend that is terminally ill. So, it’s not all that shocking that I forget, in between tears, that I am having a baby.

Mothers over 35 – to integrated screening with you!

As every hopeful parent knows too well, women do have a biological clock. Like it or not, your chances of getting pregnant decrease with age and the health of your baby is at a higher risk from 35 and up. So, routinely, if you are 35 or older at time of birth, you will be sent for an integrated screening between 11 and 13 weeks. The benefit of the test is that you get an additional ultrasound. The downfall is that you hear about the risk of chromosomal abnormalities and while your probabilities are still probably very low (depending on your family history), this is a scary conversation.

I’ll tell you all about the sequence of events, but here’s what you need to consider when going in for these tests. Why are you having the test done? You can refuse it of course, so consider this before you start: if there’s a 99% probability (according to the test) that your child will have Down Syndrome, what will you do? You’ll find out at about 18-20 weeks. Around half way through your pregnancy and right around the time you’ll find out the gender. You’re over 35, so you may have had some help getting pregnant as I did. Will you abort? Will you take the risk? Do you think finding out will help you prepare better?

I’ll tell you what we learned and then the decision I made:

We met with a genetic counselor first. She was amazing but scary. She gave us all of the probabilities of chromo abnormalities and then told us about the different tests. Basically, you go through three steps of the integrated screening: the ultrasound where they measure the folds in the baby’s neck and the length of the nose amongst other things. Then a blood test the same day. About 4 weeks later you go back for more blood tests (testing for a series of 4 abnormalities).

The first two parts of the screening have a 60% follow through rate, meaning if there’s nothing wrong showing up here, then there’s a 60% chance that nothing will show up in following tests.

If the integrated screening (all 3 parts) comes back without issue, you’re probably done. The doctor will not recommend any further tests. If anything does shoe up, anything at all, you can choose to do CVS or amniocentesis. The counselor gave us the fail proof percentages – amnio has a higher probability of being correct (something like 98.9%) and amnio also has a lower probability of causing miscarriage. Yet another negative against CVS is that no one in my county performs the procedure.

So, I weighed the options. Do I do the test and hope that it comes back absolutely fine or do I take my chances with nature? What would I do if the baby came back with Down Syndrome or a high probability of infant death? Would I abort? I am pro choice, but I don’t believe I have the right to decide whether this child’s chance are good enough. In my eyes, I started this and I’ll see it through. So, in that case, will knowing make me more ready? There’s a chance that something may show up that would need surgery right after birth, so it could help there… but I would worry for the next 8 weeks, on top of everything I’m already dealing with (see last post); that alone could be putting my body in jeopardizing situations. And then, if there is a problem, would I prepare or would I just send the next 6 months panicking? So, I made my decision and, in the end, I am quite confident in it. No tests for me. I’ll love this baby with all my heart and protect it with everything I have. Come what may.