36 weeks in…

August 30, 2008 at 7:50 pm (Baby) (, , , , , )

Foetus at 36 weeks

Another week gone and we’re another step closer to Tadpole’s arrival!

Some interesting facts about being 36 weeks pregnant:

  • Tadpole now weighs almost 6lbs and measures 19 inches from top to toe (how on earth does Tad still fit in there?)
  • Tadpole is 2/5ths engaged and is in the cephalic (head-down) position
  • As Tadpole is now a little lower down, it’s easier to breathe and eat, but unfortunately, it means more frequent trips to the loo (honestly, it’s like every hour now!)
  • My Braxton Hicks contractions are getting more frequent and are definitely stronger than they were (which means that when I start huffing and puffing, people start panicking that I’m going into labour!)
  • My back aches a whole lot more than it usually does (especially in the mid-to-lower region) and walking is definitely becoming more of a chore these days
  • I have fat feet (but that’s OK, because most of the time I can’t even see them anyway)
  • There are now just 28 days left till our Estimated Due Date!

This week marked something of a milestone for me – I finished work! Technically, I’m starting two weeks of holiday (my maternity leave doesn’t officially start until 15 September), but the fact remains that I won’t be back in the office until the middle of next June. I was taken out for a lovely farewell lunch on Tuesday, which I was actually able to eat and enjoy, as Tadpole is a little lower down now, and on Friday I was given some lovely gifties from my colleagues (a gorgeous bunch of flowers from the Chief; a black babygro that says “Potty like a rock star” from a collage who was recently in Las Vegas; a pair of baby-sized Ugg boots from another colleague who was recently in Australia; a string of felt frogs with a bell on the end from to hang above the cot; some chocolates and a book). It felt very strange coming out of the office yesterday evening and I was a little emotional, but I just about managed to avoid bawling my eyes out and embarrassing myself in front of everyone (I was determined I wouldn’t ruin my eye makeup!).

I attended a class on how to use my TENS machine earlier in the week too. It was very helpful and made me feel a lot more confident about actually using it (another lovely colleague loaned me hers which she used last summer when she was having her baby boy). There was another Mum-in-waiting there who had been reading all the same books as me and was going to use aspects of hypnobirthing combined with a pool (like me!), although she is having a home birth. Her baby is due the day after Tadpole. It was lovely talking to her and I wish I’d remembered to get her contact details!

I also had another appointment with the Midwife. Dale was unable to attend this time due to a driving lesson, but it went well – my blood pressure is perfect and my pee is also spot-on with no protein or anything in it, and apparently I’m managing to keep well hydrated. I’ve noticed my feet are definitely getting fatter, but the Midwife didn’t seem concerned about it, so I’m not worrying. And it’s not like I can even see my feet most of the time anyway, as my huge bump blocks my line of view! A couple of strange things have been happening though – some areas of skin on my bump seem to have far less sensation than usual. I can feel pressure if I’m touched, but I don’t actually fell the sensation of the contact as much (mostly in the region of my fast-disappearing belly button!); also, my hands have started feeling a little numb-ish on occasion, a bit like getting mild pins and needles and feeling a little tight and stiff. Again, the Midwife didn’t seem too concerned, so I’m not going to worry unless there are major developments. She also reassured me that the pains I’m getting underneath in my pelvic bones are perfectly normal and caused by the bones widening out as Tadpole presses further down in preparation for being born.

The only majorly annoying difference lately has been my old enemy – morning sickness! Over the past week I’ve been feeling rather horrid, but this time really only in the mornings. It has resulted in one or two early-morning bouts of throwing up heartily, but once I’m done I feel fine again. The Midwife’s advice was to have a good-sized bowl of cereal just before bed at night as Tadpole’s ultra-activity in the night means that s/he is using up all my sugar supplies, which is what makes me feel so lousy (even though I have already had breakfast when I throw up in the morning). Since taking her advice I’ve still been feeling a little low, but I’ve not actually been throwing up, so that’s a good start!

Next week will be pretty busy as I’ll have a scan on Tuesday to check on my fibroid, and also a clinic appointment (I’m not sure what they’ll be doing at that appointment, actually). Then on Wednesday I’m getting my hair cut (my last chance to make myself look presentable for all those pictures that are bound to get taken of Tadpole and me in the hospital!), and on Friday the Health Visitor will be calling round to introduce herself (she’ll be the one that takes care of Tad and me after Tad is 10 days old and the Midwife stops coming round). In between all that I HAVE to go and get nursing bras – they’re the last item left on my list of things to get before I give birth ad I want to pack the Hospital Bag within the next few days, just to make sure we’re prepared.

So, my first week of not being at work will be a busy one, but at least I won’t have to get up early in the mornings (well, actually, Tadpole seems to think that 5am is QUITE late enough for me to be in bed, but at least I can then have a nap later on if Tad settles back down again!).


My 36 week bump!

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35 weeks in…

August 23, 2008 at 12:59 pm (Baby) (, , , , , , )

Foetus at 35 weeks

Another week, another step closer to Tadpole’s arrival – things are getting exciting here!

Some interesting facts about being 35 weeks pregnant:

  • Tadpole now weighs about 5.25lbs and measures around 18 inches top to toe (so, no gain in length, but getting more “rounded out”)
  • My weight-gain has probably reached its peak now (I’ve gained 27lbs since the start of the year, which is within the average of 25-30lbs gain)
  • My uterus has now expanded to 1000 times its normal size (Oh, my Gods!)
  • At this point, Tadpole has fingernails, has a fully-developed pair of kidneys and his/her liver can now process some waste products
  • There’s very little room for Tad to move about now (which explains why we can feel clearly-defined limbs and, last night, the toes of a tiny foot!)
  • If Tadpole were to be born today, s/he would be considered pre-term, but would have a 98% chance of survival (which is terrific)
  • There are now only 35 days left to our Estimated Due Date

Well, I now only have one more week at work. Officially, my maternity leave doesn’t start till 15 September, but I have two weeks of holiday first, so Friday will be my very last day in the office (and, seeing as how I have Monday off and two appointments, that means a grand total of two full days and two half days of office time!). And only 35 days till our Estimated Due Date – where has the time gone? Things seem to be happening a whole lot more quickly these days.

Tadpole is still as active as ever, squiggling about like crazy and pressing against my bladder every chance s/he gets, but has stayed in the head-down position (as far as I’m aware – doesn’t look like that will change now – thank goodness!). Last night, while I had my hand resting gently on the left side of my bump, I very definitely felt a foot (toes and everything!), and several times this week, we’ve been able to feel the shape of a leg all curled up. It still seems very strange to us to think that there’s an actual real person in there, so when we can make out and recognise specific parts of Tad, it’s really very odd!

I attended a breast feeding workshop yesterday, which was quite interesting. Basically, we were told of various techniques we could use n preparation for feeding and also how to resolve certain problems, so I’m feeling a bit more confident about it now, as I definitely want to at least try breast feeding. I know sometimes it just doesn’t work out, but if I won’t know unless I try!

My Braxton Hicks contractions have definitely started getting stronger too. They’re still not painful, but they can be rather uncomfortable at times and seem to happen at the most inopportune moments. The other night it took me 50 minutes to walk home from work (which, as it’s downhill, usually doesn’t take any longer than 40mintues) as I was getting Braxton hicks all the way home. People passing in cars were looking at me, huffing and puffing down the road, and must have been wondering if I was going into labour! I’ve actually been rather lucky in getting to work over the last week though – of the four days I was in the office, I only had to walk the whole way once, as other people who work in the building have spotted me and given me a lift the rest of the way, which is very kind of them and very much appreciated. I also got a lift home twice when I hit on lucky leaving the same time as people who were heading in the same direction. Apart from that, though, I’m still doing a lot of walking around (which is good for helping Tad get into the right position for coming out, apparently!) as I still walked to and from my antenatal appointment yesterday, and this morning I walked into town to pick up a few things. I still enjoy getting out and about like this, but people look at me like I’m crazy to still be walking everywhere. The way I see it is I’ve always walked everywhere – it’s my main form of exercise, and if it’s not doing any harm to me or Tadpole, then why should I avoid it?

On Monday there’s a National Childbirth Trust sale in town, so we’re thinking of taking a wander down to that to see if there are any bargains we can pick up (Dale has the day off too as it’s a bank holiday). Mostly, though, I think we’re just about ready with all the baby paraphernalia. This weekend I also plan to pack my bag ready for being whisked off to the Midwives’ Unit – I like to be prepared! Really, I’m feeling just about ready to pop, even though I could have anything between two and seven more weeks to go – I feel very tight and packed-full of baby!

We are, however, having one dilemma. A couple of weeks ago, Dale decided he’d gone off the name we’d chosen for a boy and so far we’ve been completely unable to come up with an alternative that we both like. I came up with a list of almost 30 names I loved, but Dale didn’t like any of them and hasn’t come up with any himself. I’ve therefore had to warn him that unless he comes up with something we both like, we’re going to have to stick with the original choice (which I really love anyway!). I figure if he really hates it that much, he’ll come up with the goods. If he’s not al that bothered, then he will be content to stick with the original plan. Fortunately, he still loves the name we’ve chosen for a girl!

This next week will be a very busy one:

Monday – Coffee with a couple of friends, then the MCT sale
Tuesday – My “farewell” lunch at work
Wednesday – TENS class at the Maternity Clinic
Thursday – 36-week midwife appointment
Friday – Last day in the office!

I guess that by Friday I’m really going to be ready for a break before Tadpole comes out!

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Literacy for Lads and Lasses / Books for Boys

August 17, 2008 at 10:46 am (News) (, , , )

According to an article published on ITV.com last week, literacy levels amongst teens in the UK are dropping dramatically, with almost 1/3rd of 14-year-olds failing to reach the expected standards of reading for their age group.

Apparently, boys fare worse than girls in these statistics, making me wonder, is reading seen more and more as a feminine pastime? If membership on the Book Club Forum is anything to go by, women are certainly more drawn towards book discussion in a forum setting, as, although I don’t have the exact percentages to hand, the women far outweigh the men – but there are men on there waving the flag for male readers everywhere.

We also have a small, but growing, membership at the younger end of the range. Again, there are more girls than boys, but there are definitely boys on board who are happily reading and discussing the books they enjoy. This begs another question though – is reading something that we get into at a young age and keep up, or is it generally something we learn to do for pleasure at a later age?

I don’t have an answer to that one, being someone who cannot remember a time when I didn’t love reading (according to my parents I shunned toys in favour of books from an early age and was reading to myself long before I started school). I do, however, know many people my age and older who love to read and many others who are younger and never got bitten by the bug (please bear in mind, this is a generality – I know folks my own age who never pick up a book if they can help it, and people of all ages who adore nothing more than curling up with a novel).

So, are the reading rates in youngsters today affected by things to which we didn’t have access when we were kids – i.e. computer games? It would be easy to claim that factor as finite – so many children love computers and games, and this has been cited as the reason for many changes in modern children, from childhood obesity to attention deficit disorder (i.e. children sit around playing games with flashing images rather than playing outside and getting some exercise, and become unable to focus on things for longer periods of time).

I’d be inclined to go against this argument – after all, although the older generations didn’t have computer games, we did have books and television. Personally, I quite often took a book outside with me and would sit contended for hours, lost in another world, rather than running about with my friends. I was a tiny, skinny little thing, so sitting about didn’t make me fat, that’s for sure! My sister loved to watch cartoons – they lasted all of 5-minutes each in many cases, which doesn’t need a great attention span. She never had ADD, but she did have dyslexia (hence, she didn’t read as a child – although in recent years she has begun reading for pleasure).

I was very pleased to come across an article today on the BBC news that refutes the “evidence” that youngsters don’t read (it specifically cites examples for boys, but it could just as easily have included girls). There is evidence that children today are reading just as much as we did in my day – they’re just reading different things. Computer games often require a high level of reading ability and understanding in order to progress to the next level, and graphic novels can ignite an interest in more “conventional” forms of literature. And there are books that appeal to the youth market too – in recent years we’ve seen the phenomenon of Harry Potter sweep not just the UK, but the whole world, and J.K. Rowling is not the only author igniting the reading passions of the younger generation, although she might be the most famous contemporary example.

So, I’ve resolved not to worry too much about the reading habits of my own child (due next month). He or she will most definitely be exposed to books from the very start (in fact, I already read to my bump), and there will also be a “lead by example” atmosphere as my non-reading hubby will be encouraged to read to our child (especially if we have a boy – “books can be for both boys and girls” will be the message), but if computer games and graphic novels encourage my kid to read more, then I’m not going to complain. Just because the educational system in this country doesn’t count them in their educational statistics, doesn’t mean they can’t be counted towards overall ability and understanding and lead to a love of literature through other avenues.

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34 weeks in…

August 16, 2008 at 10:08 am (Baby) (, , , )

Foetus at 34 weeks

We really are on the home stretch now, with only 6 weeks till our Estimated Due Date…

Some interesting facts about being 34 weeks pregnant:

  • Tadpole now weighs about 4.7lbs, and measures about 18 inches top to toe (which is a total gain of 0.5lbs and an entire inch in one week!)
  • Tad is definitely head-down and, although not fully engaged (which we wouldn’t really have expected), is in the first stage of engagement (the midwife mentioned Tad was in the perfect position and didn’t look like s/he would be moving the other way up again now)
  • Tadpole’s hearing is now almost fully developed (so no doubt s/he can hear all the banging from our noisy upstairs neighbours too!)
  • The lungs are now fully developed, meaning that if Tadpole were born today, s/he would have very few, if any, problems breathing for him/herself
  • If Tad were to be born today, s/he would have a 98% chance of survival (terrific news!)
  • There are now just 42 days till our Estimated Due Date!

It’s been an incredibly busy and interesting week. It started with Tadpole doing MAJOR acrobatics on Sunday morning – my belly looked like a scene from The Perfect Storm, undulating all over the place. This went on for little over half an hour and was very uncomfortable (although not painful) and I came to the conclusion that Tadpole was turning. Turns out I was right – at our midwife appointment later in the week, we were told that Tad was in the perfect position for being born and didn’t look like s/he would be moving out of position again. The head is also in the first stage of engagement (1/5th engaged), with the back curving round my right side and the feet over to the left (where I’ve been getting most of the kicks for a little while now!). Apparently, all the walking I do has been perfect for helping Tadpole get into the right position. Well done, me!

Strangely, when the midwife measured my bump, it wasn’t at the expected 34 inches – instead I measured 36 inches, but I suspect the bottom end of the tape measure was slightly too low (it certainly felt that way) and that we can probably knock an inch off that. She also assured me that the achy pain I’ve been feeling in my pelvic bones is due to the hormone, Relaxin, letting the bones move into a wider position to facilitate the birth, so I feel a little better about it knowing that.

We had our final antenatal class this week too (although Dale couldn’t quite make it due to being held up at work). Home-Birth-Blondie wasn’t there this time, but whether that was due to the fact that she didn’t need the tour of the midwifery unit and labour ward, or because she’d had her baby two weeks early, we don’t know. It’s a bit of a shame, because I had planned on swapping contact details with her – she was really nice. I did, however, swap details with another member of the class (the Redhead who lives near us, but who will shortly be moving to Edinburgh), as she is very nice too. Her due date is just three days after ours, so there’s a good chance we could end up being on the maternity ward together too. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to go for a coffee a few times before she moves away.

The tour of the wards was, for me, a little disappointing. My fist crushing blow was the birthing pool – Aberdeen Maternity Hospital covers a very wide area (right up to the Shetlands!) and yet only has a single birthing pool which is tucked away in a tiny, poky room (which is like being in an oven too!). As use of the pool is on a first-come, first-served basis, the chances of getting to use the pool are very slim. And the turnaround on use for the next person waiting is long too – it has to be cleaned and sit for an hour in between uses. The labour ward (where you have to go if you have an epidural or have any complications at all) felt very clinical and very hot. The rooms were not very encouraging of relaxation at all, but we were assured that the Midwife Unit rooms were far more homely and comfy-looking. Imagine my surprise when we got there and realised the only major difference between the labour ward rooms and those in the Midwifery Unit was that the rack where the gas and air comes through is hidden by a curtain across the wall! Still very clinical-looking and – yes, you’ve guessed it – roasting hot. Now, I know the rooms have to be kept warm for the newborn babies, who come out wet and lose body heat very easily, but it was like a sauna in there! For someone who overheats easily at the best of times (i.e. me!) this wasn’t very comfortable.

I have now resolved that I am staying home as long as is humanly possible. If that means I get to the hospital at 8cm dilation, then so be it, because if I can hold out that long, it’ll mean less time spent in that place, and at least I can guarantee use of my own bath in my bathroom which is only fractionally smaller than the room with the birthing pool! We’re very fortunate in that we live only a 5-minute pre-pregnancy walk from the hospital, so we can get there very quickly if need be. That’s some consolation, at least.

Yesterday, I had the day off work, so I headed into town to pick up a few things in readiness for my trip into hospital. I didn’t really have a toiletry bag that was big enough without being huge, so I bought a cheap one and filled it with miniatures of toothpaste, deodorant, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and a mini hairbrush. I’ll also be decanting small amounts of my cosmetics into tiny containers – I don’t want to have to take anything full-size with me that will take up too much of the limited space in my bag, as I have to have things for Tadpole in there too. I still have a few things to get, like maternity/nursing bras (which I’m supposed to wait to get in week 36/37, so my boobs are at their fullest) and a front-opening nightie for feeding in the hospital (I don’t tend to wear clothing in bed, so I don’t really have anything remotely suitable!), which I’ll get over the next few weeks. I think we have most things pretty much covered…

And finally, on a non-baby-related point, I had my job interview on Wednesday (I mentioned it in last week’s post). Unfortunately, I didn’t get the job, but as it was two pay-grades above my own, rather than just stepping up one, I wasn’t hugely surprised. However, I was told I interviewed extremely well and the Chief gave me a glowing reference – the other candidate just had more experience (which would be expected as she was about 10-15 years older than me). Ah well, there’s always next time, and at least I’m still in a job I love!

My 34-week bump!

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Self-acceptance… at any size!

August 15, 2008 at 10:05 am (Life gets in the way...) (, , )

Buxom chick looking hot in an advert!

A few years back, I had a terrible Weight Watchers experience. In the beginning, the weight came off and I was happy (at least, I THOUGHT I was happy), but once I got to within 1/2 a stone of my self-set “target weight” (which I had been “tutted” at over as being “too easy a target – you could go at least a stone lower than that!”), I hit a plateau. I gradually cut the calories, week by week, till I was on half what I should have been eating according to the programme. Throughout my entire time at WW I was swimming immediately after work a minimum of three times a week for an hour, and was going one weekend day to swim and use the gym for a minimum of three hours. On top of this, I walked briskly or cycled to work (1.5 miles uphill on the way to work, downhill on the way home) 5 days a week, rain or shine.

I actually ended up GAINING weight after that plateau – no matter what I did. I was made to feel guilty – a lying failure who apparently couldn’t control myself – because according to the WW instructor, if I was following the programme and not “cheating” or “forgetting to log my food correctly” then I should be losing weight. Week after week, I would don my lightest clothes (floaty summer dresses in the middle of winter!), slip off my shoes, my belt, even my watch and ear-rings if they were large ones, and step on the scales. Every week I would either have stayed the same weight or gained a little more, and would be made to feel terrible about myself. Amazingly, I was PAYING MONEY EVERY WEEK for the privilege of being made to feel bad about myself. I can’t believe I stuck it out for so long before finally just not attending the “classes” any more. And, of course, that made me feel even more of a failure because I had quit.

The only time in my adult life I have ever been thin (I was a UK size 10 at that point) was at the end of my first term at college after suffering malnutrition. I was on a very physically demanding college course and was barely eating a thing while I stayed in the halls of residence. I was not a well person at all. When I went back to college the second term (after taking a MONTH off over the Xmas holidays instead of 2 weeks because I was so ill and could barely swallow), I continued starving myself because I was terrified that I’d gain the weight back. Of course, eventually, it crept back on anyway – and then some. A year after finishing college, I was bigger than I’d been when I started.

At the beginning of this year, I found myself at my heaviest ever – I was 14 stones – a weight that had maintained itself (give or take a pound or so) pretty much no matter what I did for the best part of the previous year.

Five weeks later I discovered I was pregnant and you know what? I’ve stopped worrying about my weight all of a sudden! I eat when I’m hungry and eat what I want to eat – exactly as I did before – and get praised by the midwife because apparently my eating habits and choices are extremely healthy. I am currently 34 weeks pregnant and everyone at work is amazed that I still walk there and back every day – I also regularly walk 2 miles into town and the same distance back on weekends when I need to pick something up or just meet friends.

I mentioned my “healthy” food choices a moment ago. When I was a kid, you’d be hard-pushed to get me to eat any vegetables – I’d rather polish off several cream cakes or scones with lashings of butter, jam and cheese – and I was incredibly skinny. Nowadays, I adore a very wide range of fruit and vegetables, I only occasionally have cakes or sweets (although when I fancy them, I do not deny myself a little indulgence!), and I am much bigger. In fact, when I described an average meal of mine to the midwife she almost jumped up and applauded me – apparently my proportions of the different food types were pretty much spot on to what I am “supposed” to eat – the majority of my plate filled with a variety of veg (in all the colours of the rainbow, simply because I like the different tastes, you understand!), a portion of pulses and/or carbohydrates takes over the second largest part of my meal, then the protein – I only ever have a small portion of meat, usually poultry, or fish (usually haddock or salmon). I sometimes find I can’t finish everything on my plate, but, unlike when I was a child, I refuse to feel guilty over leaving something (I used to get the whole, “Think of the starving children in Africa!” routine. I always wanted to scream, “Well, how will MY eating the food help them? If you want to send my green beans and carrots over to Ethiopia for them to eat, please, feel free!”).

The fact is, I’ve been eating that way for years – and I still didn’t get down to a skinny size 10. You know what? I’ve come to the conclusion I’m just not meant to be a 10 – maybe a shapely 14 or 16 is what I should be. I’ve been told I look great by many people – not just my adoring hubby and loving family, but I’ve never been able to see it. If you look at the picture of me that I display below, you’ll see how I looked just before Christmas 2007. Fair enough, it’s only a head and shoulders shot, but you can also see the colossal cleavage there. I have been given various compliments for this photograph, ranging from “gorgeous” to “beautiful” to “incredibly hot”. Just for the record, that top I’m wearing in that picture is a UK size 18. Yes – all you guys who said I look fantastic are praising someone who is, by contemporary standards, a “fat chick”.

Me – big and beautiful just last Christmas!

But you know what? I no longer mind that I don’t have a tiny waist (I do actually have a waist which is currently rather hidden by my rather impressive baby-bump!), and I rather admire my own round rump (which is currently acting as counter-balance to my bump up-front to keep me from tipping over forward – LOL!).

I am SO much happier now than I have ever been – I have a wonderful husband who has always found me incredibly sexy and attractive, whether thin or fat, and I have what I am assured is a very healthy baby on the way. Not worrying about my weight has been the best thing that has ever happened to me and I am glad I got to this point in my life before I ruined the rest of it by continuing to torture and guilt-trip myself. I’m still working on a healthier mindset, but I finally feel I’m getting somewhere with it!

Strangely, despite all my past self-loathing, I have always thought that many people look far better with “a bit of flesh on their bones” rather than being walking skeletons. Witness the following before-and-after-type-photos – in these examples, I actually think these female celebrities look a HELL of a lot better when they are just that little bit larger and rounder. Neither one of them is fat in either picture, but I really do think the “before” pictures, where they don’t have all their bones sticking out, look far better:

Gerri Halliwell

Myleene Klass

I remember the first time I saw the model Sophie Dahl – she was a spectacular size 16 (if I remember correctly) and looked absolutely stunning. She was the heroine of “fat chicks” everywhere, proving that you could be big and not just beautiful but incredibly sexy. Then she shed the “extra pounds”. Now I think she looks like a lollypop – a big round head on a skinny little body – it just doesn’t look right to me at all.

A larger Sophie Dahl at her very best

The incredibly sexy Queen Latifah – large and looking TOTALLY hot!

And it doesn’t just go for the women-folk either – I might be married to a slender guy, but I have found (and still do find) some larger men very attractive. In fact, there is one “tubby celeb” I find particularly sexy – Jack Black totally rocks! He’s funny, he’s talented, he comes across as being a lot of fun to be around, he’s got a great look, and all this makes him incredibly appealing and, yes, sexy. And you know what? He’s a big guy! He’s big and he’s SEXY!

Jack Black certainly gets MY motor running!

Looking back at photographs of me, I think to myself, “Hey, I looked fabulous there!”, yet at the time, I felt horribly fat and miserable – all because I wasn’t a sleek size 10 or 12. Now, looking at those pictures, I see that I had a fantastic figure – curvy and gorgeous. Knowing what I now know (that binge dieting CAUSES more weight and health problems than it can ever hope to solve), I can see that if I’d never started dieting in the first place, I might well have stayed that size and shape instead of ballooning up and down time and time again. But at that point in my life, I was stuck in the “thin is healthy” mindset – it’s simply not true!

Larger people can be just as healthy, if not more so, than thin people. That’s not to say there aren’t unhealthy fat people too – just that more often than not, your size doesn’t play as big a role in your overall health as you might think.

I am a “larger lady”, a “fat chick”, a “big girl”. I have never had any problems with blood pressure or cholesterol and I am physically very active (although I quit with the gym and swimming after the WW disaster!). I am not diabetic, nor do I show any signs of heading that way. I am a healthy and rather fit person the size I am. My stamina levels, when it comes to things like walking long distances or certain indoor activities, are phenomenal – I can outpace and outlast many other people I know.

People can be healthy AT ANY SIZE OR SHAPE – you can’t tell a person’s health-levels just by looking at them. They can also be attractive, dress well and look amazing, and yes, be downright sexy, whether they are fat or thin. If only we could all throw off the shackles of public pressure and shout, “I REFUSE TO HAVE MY SIZE AND SHAPE DICTATED TO ME!” and then be accepting of one another, as well as of ourselves, we could all be so much happier – and healthier.

FOR AN INCREDIBLY INSPIRATIONAL LOOK ON “FAT ACCEPTANCE” AND HEALTH AT EVERY SIZE, PLEASE DO VISIT KATE HARDING’S SHAPELY PROSE.

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Too good to be true?

August 12, 2008 at 6:06 pm (News) (, , )

Lorna Page
First-time author at the grand old age of 93

There’s a saying – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. This immediately sprang to mind when I read an article that has been all over the BBC and the Telegraph – both well-respected reporters of the news – today, about a 93-year-old who has published her first novel.

As you will see from these articles, it’s asserted that first-time author, Lorna Page (aged 93) has purchased a 5-bedroom house using the advance and/or royalties from the publication of her book – she intends to invite several of her OAP buddies to live in the house with her rather than go into care homes. It’s a lovely story and great publicity for her book (which has shot up the Amazon charts since the story broke and is, at the time I write this, sitting at No. 9 in the paperback romance section – no. 46 in the hardcover), but a little light research will prove that someone somewhere has their facts a little garbled.

Point number 1:
Lorna Page’s publisher is AuthorHouse, which is a print on demand publisher. Far from offering advances, they actually charge the author in advance for editing and publication. That being the case, they are actually vanity publishers! As there’s no advance, she clearly did not buy her house with it.

Point number 2:
Royalties are generally paid in installments over set periods of time – this may be monthly, annually, whatever. As this book was first published in hardback on 10 July this year and in paperback just two days later, she would only be receiving her first royalty cheque around now (if she was very lucky). As she already has her house, she clearly did not use her royalties to buy it. Even if she had earned enough in royalties, she would have had to sell a HELL of a lot of books in this first month.

One thing that HAS happened, however, is that this lady has suddenly received a LOT of publicity and her book may well enjoy a brief surge in sales, as shown by her current position in the Amazon charts, but unless the book is extraordinarily good, it will be just that – a brief surge. Especially as the price for the paperback (which comes in at 308 pages) is currently at the “reduced” price of £16.10 (down from the full price of £16.95). The hardback is retailing at £21.80 (down from the RRP of £22.95). These prices seem a little steep for a first-time author’s offering – without the publicity I doubt she’d have made all that many sales unless word of mouth got around saying it was a masterpiece, and even then, the success would most likely have been gradual.

Personally, I wish her all the luck in the world, but I do wish that professional journalists would do a little research before sending their articles to print – after all, if I, an amateur, can very easily find information that goes contrary to their articles, then surely they could too?

Edited to add: It seems that The Guardian has since added a correction to the story, which can be seen HERE, reading:

QUOTE: The following clarification was printed in the Guardian’s Corrections and clarifications column, Friday August 15 2008. In common with most other papers we reported that 93-year-old Lorna Page, “suddenly prosperous on the advance and sales” of her novel A Dangerous Weakness, had been able to buy a big detached house for herself and three of her friends. Aspiring writers (and housebuyers) should note that her publisher, AuthorHouse, is a self-publishing company whose website states: “For a modest financial investment you can choose what you want for your book.”

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33 weeks in…

August 9, 2008 at 2:53 pm (Baby) (, , , , , , , , )

Foetus at 33 weeks

Despite only being at work 2.5 days this week, it’s been a hectic week for all sorts of reasons – both in and out of the office. My throat infection cleared up and my voice is now, thankfully, back to normal (so I no longer sound like Kathleen Turner!).

Some interesting facts about being 33 weeks pregnant:

  • Tadpole now weighs just over 4lbs and measures a little over 17 inches from top to toe (which explains why I’m now getting an occasional kick in the ribs from our lanky kid!)
  • Tad is most likely now head-down in my womb although s/he may still change position several times before birth (I really must ask my midwife at the next appointment which way up Tad is!)
  • Tadpole’s head may move into my pelvis this week (apparently this happens at about this time in approximately half of all first-time mums!)
  • If Tadpole were decide to be born today, there’d be a very good chance that s/he would be able to breath for him/herself, as the lungs will now have matured a fairly decent amount (although there’s still more development to come each day that Tad remains inside!)
  • If Tadpole were to be born today, s/he would have a 95% chance of survival (this won’t change again until next week)
  • There are now just 49 days till our Estimated Due Date!

It seems the fabled “burst of energy” that I was promised would occur during my second trimester (which never materialised) has finally happened – although it’s come a bit late as I now can’t actually do all that much with this energy, as I get breathless and tired very quickly these days. This means I tend to get quite restless and antsy a lot of the time and have to get up frequently just to stretch my legs and expend some of the excess energy coursing through me! It has, however, meant that walking to work the past few days has been easier than it’s been in quite a while – I don’t have to stop as often en route, even if I am waddling rather slowly (my pre-pregnancy walk to work took about 20-25 minutes – it now takes me 40-45 minutes!).

My concentration still wanders a lot, but I’m finding that I manage to get through quite a lot in those short bursts of “normal” brain activity time and I’ve actually managed to finish compiling my “How to do pretty much everything” guide for whoever replaces me through my maternity leave from work. I’m going to have to use all my concentration next Wednesday morning, however, as I have a job interview! I’ve applied for a slightly more senior position in my department which, if I got it, would include a raise of several thousand pounds per year (which would come in very handy!). I wasn’t going to go for it, due to very shortly going on maternity leave, but then I thought to myself, “If I wasn’t pregnant, I would definitely go for it, so what’s stopping me, really?” I handed in my application on the last day, about an hour before closing. I’ll let you all know how it turns out…

This weeks antenatal class was pretty good, even though Dale couldn’t make it (he couldn’t rearrange his driving lesson, so he had to miss it – ah well, he’ll be there at next weeks one!). It was all about labour – our worries; our hopes; what we already knew; what we wanted to know; etc. It was at this point that I realised just how relaxed and groovy I’m feeling about the birth now. I was also delighted to find that there’s another lass in our class who’s been reading all the same kinds of books as I have and has very similar ideas about how she wants her birth to happen (she’s opting for a home delivery – kudos to her!). Neither one of us wants to automatically opt for medical pain relief (unlike almost all the others, who are already saying they want to be drugged up to the eyeballs from the start). We’re both going down the “Real Nappies” route too and delighted in discussing the eco-friendly options we were considering (it’s so nice not to feel abnormal for wanting to do the best I can for the planet as well as my baby!). I’m still amazed at the amount of women who don’t even want to consider trying breast feeding and are automatically reaching for the bottle. Sure, it might be easier to be able to share the feeding responsibilities with their partner if they use a bottle, but there’s always the option of pumping to give the baby breast milk – and that way Daddy can help feed too. I know breastfeeding isn’t always an option for every mother, but my philosophy is that you don’t know till you try – it’s best for baby, best for mother and is FREE – and who needs extra expense when you’re already having to pay out for other baby-related paraphernalia AND possibly face the prospect of less money coming into the home due to being on maternity leave and/or switching to fewer hours when you go back to work?

Ah well, each to their own.

Since having my extra-long weekend off work (the first two days due to being ill, the rest due to having annual leave), I am now feeling absolutely fantastic! I think I must have really needed the rest – and that’s what I did for pretty much all of the eight days I had away from the office. Yes, our anniversary was slap-bang in the middle of it, but going out for dinner and a movie was a nice treat and not at all stressful or tiring, and I purposely didn’t accept any invitations to go out and about during that time, so I was able just to potter about the place and do whatever I felt like doing when I felt like doing it. For example, Dale and I decided to take a very slow wander into town on Monday (since we were both off work that day) and look at getting a couple of toys for Tadpole. We specifically wanted a soft toy and a mobile – and we got both.

The soft teddy with gnaw-able feet was spotted first in Boots and we just couldn’t resist it. It’s only a small one and so won’t make Tadpole feel intimidated, is gorgeous to the touch, and the textures on the feet will be both interesting and soothing for when those teeth first start coming through.

After quite a bit of searching, we finally found the perfect mobile in John Lewis. It moves when music is played and all the tunes are by Mozart, Bach and Beethoven. It also has different settings to use at different points in baby’s development to help improve hand-eye coordination (among other things!) and is very soothing to watch and hear. Dale affixed it to the cot-bed immediately and tried it out. It’s just gorgeous!

Our Real Nappy supplies arrived this week (a gift from my Dad and Step-Mum), and we’ve been marvelling over the smallest size of nappy outers – they’re so dinky! The pack has sizes that will keep us covered right up to potty training (and, in fact, also includes a potty!) so it’s an excellent investment. It was also purchased direct from the Nappy Laundry we’re planning to use, which will work out cheaper than buying disposables (as well as being far better for the environment as we’ll not be adding to the millions of nappies that end up on landfill sites – hurrah!). We’ll occasionally use disposables when we’re out and about (just for convenience) but I’ve been sourcing out various eco-nappies which are more environmentally friendly and won’t sit about not degrading for hundreds of years.

I’ve also made some small revisions to my Birth Plan – just little tweaks here and there; the majority of it has been in place for quite a while now – and I’ve started to think about packing a bag ready for going to the midwife unit when Tadpole decides to put in his/her appearance…

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Much respect!

August 4, 2008 at 12:35 pm (News) (, , , , )

I steer well clear of magazines that feature celebrity gossip and don’t tend to read newspapers (which are, nowadays, just turning into celebrity gossip magazines anyway!) – I just can’t stand them, but sometimes it’s impossible to avoid attention-grabbing headlines when you’re browsing online.

Today I found myself inexplicably drawn to a news article on Yahoo about the first official public pictures of the Jolie Pitt twins. Initially, when I started reading, I found myself a little angry on discovering the fee for the pictures was £7.5million from Hello! magazine (which outbid all others, including OK!) because, let’s face it, they don’t exactly need the cash, do they? But then I had to do a very swift turn-around. You see, it seems Brad and Angelina aren’t taking the money – it’s all going to their charity, The Jolie Pitt Foundation, which was set up in 2006 to assist with humanitarian crises around the world.

Sometimes I find myself in total awe of people – and I’m pleased to say this is one of those times.

Kudos to the pair of them – I wish them nothing but happiness with their newly-enlarged family.

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32 weeks in…

August 2, 2008 at 8:04 am (Baby) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Foetus at 32 weeks

And so, another week has already passed – time is surely flying faster than I’ve ever known! Another busy week – some good (such as our 5th wedding anniversary), some not so good (I’ve had a throat infection over the past week, which hasn’t greatly enhanced my mood, but other than that everything’s been fine).

Some interesting facts about being 32 weeks pregnant:

  • Tadpole will be gaining between 1/3 and 1/2 of his/her body weight during the next seven weeks of gestation (that’s a LOT of growing!)
  • Tad now weighs around 3.75lbs and measures about 17 inches from head to foot (that’s an inch of growth in a week!)
  • Tad is currently inhaling amniotic fluid to exercise his/her lungs and practice breathing (which explains why The Kid keeps getting hiccups!)
  • If Tadpole were to be born today, s/he would have a 95% chance of survival (this won’t change again until we hit 34 weeks)
  • There are now just 56 days till our Estimated Due Date!

We had our second antenatal class this week. Unfortunately, Dale was unable to come with me (the first antenatal appointment he’s had to miss so far!) as, due to being a Postie, he works in the morning and this class was at 9.30am. I really wish he’d been able to come along to this one in particular, as we were discussing various methods of relaxation, which included various massage techniques to use in labour. Since I was the only Lone Ranger in the class, I found myself being the one upon whom the demonstration was conducted, which was very relaxing. I’ll have to demonstrate the techniques to Dale this weekend.

As usual, I was full of questions. I’d done a little internet research and discovered that our local maternity hospital has higher-than-the-national-average rates for interventions such as C-sections and inductions, as well as for forceps- and ventouse-assisted births. This worried me a whole lot, as I’d like to go as natural as possible with as little interference or intervention as possible. Fortunately, my fears were allayed – the reason for these higher-than-average figures is two-fold – firstly, it’s a teaching hospital and secondly, it has a very wide catchment area, and any unusual/difficult cases from places as far-flung as Orkney and The Shetland Islands get sent here, hence the numbers are higher for interventions and medical procedures than they might normally be.

I was also heartened to hear that there are a few midwives who are familiar with hypnobirthing, so I’m very likely to give birth surrounded by understanding people who are willing to let me get on with things without being bugged, prodded and poked at too much, which is a major relief!

I’ve made some tiny additions to my Birth Plan as they’ve occurred to me – little things like requesting not to have the staff announce the gender of Tadpole to us – we’d prefer to find out for ourselves; and not cutting the cord immediately – and letting Dale have the choice of doing so (if he wants to). I’ve also decided I want to labour at home for as long as I possibly can. I have this luxury as we literally live a 5-minute pre-pregnancy-walk from the midwife unit, so we can get there very quickly in a car, meaning I can legitimately leave it rather late before making the move from my comfortable home-surroundings. I’d actually consider a home-birth if we had the room for a birthing pool! (There is one girl in our antenatal class who is seriously considering a home-birth with as few drugs as possible – we seem to be on a similar wavelength and I rather like her and her partner).

When I was telling Leni (my sister and second birth-partner) I wanted Tadpole to be birthed in as natural a way as possible she was initially rather horrified – apparently, if it were her, she’d want to be pumped full of drugs. I have no problem with other people wanting that, but my personal feeling towards getting all those chemicals pumped into me is one of abhorrence – I’ve found that I no longer have any fear of the birthing process (which is very strange, as it used to be rather a phobia of mine!) and am pretty much of the opinion that my body knows what it’s doing – after all, it’s what the female body was supposedly created to do in the first place! And I was thinking just he other day – have you ever seen a cat giving birth? She purrs! That’s a happy sound – she quietly purrs as she gives birth! Humans are the only creatures on the planet that make a big deal out of the birthing process and I wonder how much of that is down to fear? If we fear that we’re going to be in pain, are we more likely to experience it, simply because we expect it? So, I’ve been conditioning myself to expect a straight-forward birth with none of the nonsense and kafuffle normally associated with modern childbirth!

On the non-birth side of things, I’ve been getting Braxton Hicks contractions over the last week or so. They don’t hurt at all, but they kind of knock the breath out of me occasionally! It just feels like my belly gets rock-hard – tighter than ever – for a minute or two. I just use my breathing techniques (strangely, the technique that was demonstrated in our antenatal class this week is the one I use when I’m in pain or feeling sick anyway – so I’ve had plenty of practice!) until it passes and carry on with whatever I was doing before it came on.

And our travel system arrived this week – Dale spent a wee while putting it all together and working out how all the bits connect together (it’s a buggy, a carry cot and a car seat all together in one package, and now delights in racing round our small flat with it. I think he’s really going to enjoy pushing Tadpole about in it!

So, things are getting rather exciting – the time is getting closer and closer to when we finally get to met the tiny person who is (right at this very second while I type) kicking like crazy inside me!

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Five Years and Counting…

August 1, 2008 at 4:06 pm (Life gets in the way...) (, , , )

Five years ago today, I walked down the aisle in a beautiful, floor-length, cream dress and feathers in my hair, to the sound of Brian May playing The Wedding March on electric guitar.

Five Years ago today, Dale expressed surprise that I wasn’t wearing green, as that was what I had originally planned to wear.

Five years ago today, I had butterflies in my stomach as we both said “I do” in front of our family and friends.

Five years ago today, Dale slipped a band of gold onto my finger, looked me in the eyes and told me he would love me forever.

Five years ago today, we sipped champagne in a white stretch limo and drank to our future happiness.

Five years ago today, we staged what became known amongst those who knew us as “MTV Wedding of the Year”.

Five years ago today, Dale and I began our lives together as Husband and Wife, even though we’d already been together for three-and-a-half years and living together for all but two months of that time.

Five years ago today, the sun was shining brightly – just like it is today.

Five years ago today was the happiest day of my life and I love Dale more and more with each passing moment.

If that makes me sound like a sentimental sap, then so be it!

Happy anniversary, Dale.
I love you mings and mongs!

Dale and I cutting our wedding cake
01.08.2003

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