Dec 29, 2010

It's a boy!

We got confirmation at today's ultrasound that it's indeed a boy. Here are the series of scans we had during the pregnancy at 12, 17, 20 and 33 weeks.

12 weeks
17 weeks

17 weeks

20 weeks

33 weeks - face from the front

33 weeks - face in profile

Ways to keep busy over the holidays

Hubby and I had decided on a relatively quiet holiday period. After all, I'm 33 weeks preggers and there is only so much I can do in any given day. In spite of that, we had plenty going on over the past few days. We spent Christmas Eve at a friend's house with her parents. This was a lot of fun since we got first-hand insight on what Xmas looks like in Quebec. Although we were assured that none of the food was traditional - thank goodness, my friend opted for a "light" meal instead. After about 9.30pm we pretended it was midnight and presents were given out to each individual. I got a very nice new fantasy/detective book - one of those new-style urban fantasies that are popular these days.

The following day we attended a Yankee gift swap party at our American friends' house. The house was filled with little kids (and people of various religious orientations), so it was a fun-filled chaotic mix of finger food, chatting, a Xmas reading and prezzies for the kids, followed by an adult gift swap. In the morning, I prepared some food in the form of a gingerbread house. Took me over an hour to decorate, with resultant aching shoulders and sore back. It seems like my capacity of doing any kind of activity is rapidly diminishing. Of course, I found out after we got there that I was supposed to do a side dish rather than a desert - the house was filled with cookies and pies of all kind, so all of us had a bit of a sugar rush.

Since then, hubby and I have been at home, mixing things up with various shopping trips. It's "boxing week" here, meaning all the stores have their big sales on. And while I'm not exactly hanging out at large shopping malls for fear of getting trampled (or a least elbowed in the stomach), we have done some "smart" shopping: mostly for baby stuff. I've been waiting to see if anyone was planning to throw me a baby shower, but apparently that's not to be (I even asked Steve for insider info). So instead, we did the reasonable thing and bought simply the essentials, in all the colors we like (neutrals), and as few plastic items as possible. Mostly, the purchases have involved onesies, pjs, socks, hats, and the odd warm baby outerwear or an irresistibly cute outfit for when we visit someone. To a large extend, we plan for the baby to be in his (her) diaper, hanging out with us for body warmth, so no need for tons of stuff. And we've bought no toys whatsoever since I've got about 2 bags full given to us by friends.

Apart from the shopping, which is stressful on my feet, I've been "keeping fit" with painting the baby cradle, washing and folding all the new clothes, working (yes, it's an effort to sit up and be on the computer), and grooming the dog. 

Believe it or not, the latter is happening in stages. I'm simply not able to lift my arms for longer than an hour when she's on the grooming table, or bend over her for more than that when she's laying quietly on the floor for me. But I did ask hubby to buy me a nifty new tool in the form of a dematting rake -- it's the best thing ever! No more endlessly patient untangling with a metal comb. I can now rake through matted sections much more quickly. The end result is looking good, although the dog remains somewhat lopsided, since only her head/chest and left hand side have been done. Tomorrow I do the right, and the next day her legs/feet. We'll see what that brings by the end of the week. Really, she should just get a decent groom but I've been rather unhappy with the groomers of late, so this is a good alternative for her and for me: she gets attention, I get some exercise and something to occupy me during this quiet and pregnant time.

As for the baby cradle; I've purchased a new mattress (Naturepedic), and a mesh bumper pad (the regular bumper pads are safety hazards, apparently). I'm eagerly awaiting their arrival so that we can finalize the "baby section" of our bedroom. Really that just means two items: the cradle and the changing table. But it's more than enough and I'm really happy with what we got.

Tomorrow is an exciting day: our 33 week ultrasound. This time we'll try to remember to ask for some pictures!

Dec 21, 2010

The end of term, but not the end of work

For many professors, the end of term does not mark the end of work. Often, it's only the beginning. First, there are those pesky exams to grade. Next, the final grades need to be calculated. Meanwhile, students are demanding to see you because they've suddenly realized that their class contribution grade is abysmal (how that can be a surprise to people, I will never understand - I give them an interim grade and remind them every class that they need to contribute in order to get a decent grade).

Then, of course, comes the "real" work. The research that's been laying around for 3 whole months suddenly needs to be submitted to The Big Conference that'll be held next August. Deadline: January. Only academics would torture themselves this way by completely ruining any notion of a holiday/break after 3 months of teaching and student-induced headaches. 

In short, while teaching has been officially over since Dec 6, I've been busy. This week is no exception, and I even had to cancel a planned shopping trip for desperately needed Xmas prezzies in order to finish editing/revising a paper that needed to be emailed back to co-authors. My other two papers that require my lead, have been dead in the water for at least two weeks, and will need attention next week, during the Xmas-New Year "break". My goal is to get all of these things out before I go on maternity leave. At least I don't have to teach next term, because that would have started on Jan 3 ... not much of a break if you ask me, when my students' grades are due on Xmas day (yes, Dec 25th, seven days after the final exam), of all days.

In among all this, I feel like I'm visiting a doctor or hospital every other day or so. Last week I had Rhogam shot to mitigate potentially damaging effects of having Rhesus negative blood (if the baby is Rhesus positive). Sounds easy, right. But the hospital insists on a full blood panel first and so I found myself traipsing all over the building in my -40C snow boots, winter jacket and laptop bag in order to pull a ticket and wait (of course) to do a blood test first, then hike back to the "vaccine" place and wait there (of course), until the one doctor managing about 40 patients could inject me. My patience wore thin, I cried on hubby's shoulder to relief the tension but eventually it was done and we headed home.

This week, the visits consist of seeing my own doc, my osteopath/physio, and the hospital again tomorrow for a 3-hour information session on breast feeding. Next week, I have an ultrasound (perhaps baby's gender will finally be revealed!).

In the meantime, my PUPPP has partially returned, and I'm trying to manage it as best I can. Not taking baths seems to help, as does plenty of anti-histamines. My doc prescribed something new that is specifically for itchy skin and makes one sleepy (supposedly). I tried it last night and it seems ok except that I woke up groggy and with a dry mouth. At least it didn't give me hives like the Benadryl. I'm hoping that this phase of PUPPP is not as bad as the last one. I sure itched like heck for two days on my belly, wrists/hands and neck, but most of it has abated again.

Oh, and the baby still hiccups about 2-3 times a day. Awwww.

Dec 14, 2010

Baby hiccups

Another snow-plow early start this morning, at 6am. This time it also woke hubby who asked "how the fuck did I sleep through this before?". My sentiments exactly. 

So yes, more snow. An ever growing pile of cleared snow is growing outside of our building. There has been a little bit of melt which means our window view now also sports an icicle in "our" tree at least a foot and a half long. Very cool.

Very cool indeed: -14C this evening, but with windchill this comes down to -22C.

I'm therefore cozily huddled up in the house. In fact, I don't recall going out today at all. Instead, I got a lot of work done now that I'm no longer itching all over. There is still the odd patch here and there, but KEEP YOUR FINGERS CROSSED, that the worst of it has passed for now, and I'm really really really hoping it doesn't come back.

My new freedom from the ailment means that I can pay attention to other stuff. Like the fact that baby is hiccuping in the womb, at least once a day. It's very cute although I feel a bit sorry for him. Apparently it can do no harm at all and is a sign that the nervous system is working and his diaphragm is getting in some practice workouts. 

Too cute for words.

Dec 12, 2010

In the wee hours

Up again in the wee hours, having slept pretty much no time at all. It's 3.30am. 

Although my rash has abated in most areas, lots of itchy patches remain. And the rash has spread all over my back, which is now the "inflamed" area. Not as bad as having it on your legs, if you ask me. Mostly, it just feels like a sun burn. The problem is when I lay down to sleep everything starts to itch, and then I can't fall asleep.

In spite of that, I slept about 11 hours last night. Probably catching up on lost sleep all this week, but I guess I'm paying for it tonight. I'm still taking Zyrtec (no more Benadryl after the hives), but it doesn't seem to be helping much today. Maybe the bath routine is more effective - it brings up all my bumps and makes the itching worse, but also seems to help settle things later if I slather on the Calamine lotion.

On a brighter note, we picked up a baby crib today that a friend is loaning us. It's been in his family for well over 40 years, and thus a time piece. It's entirely made of metal, painted white, and therefore heavy. But our friend helped hubby to load it up in the back of the car, and he was able to carry it up the stairs in spite of his shoulder. 

I've been told we can add a coat of paint if we like, so I might top up on the white if I decide to paint the larger cot as well. Other small fixes will include felt pads on the legs to avoid scratching our wood floors, and perhaps finding a new mattress for it. The one that came with it seems too thin, and for sure needs a wash from past use. Given my intense allergies for dust and dust mites, I'm not sure I want to use it at all. It might be time for some modernization of the mattress at least.

Other than that, the city is still covered in snow. We observed at least three types of snowplows in action today. One clears up sidewalks - very clever and convenient, otherwise you'd never be able to walk anywhere. Another two clear up the parking spots on the side of the road. Mostly, the initial plowing just takes care of the middle of the road, so that people can drive. It seems once this plowing is done and the snowing has stopped, the city takes care to remove the piles that people have scooped off their cars and that plows have shoved over there. 

So there they were today. Temporary orange "no parking" and "you will be towed" signs were up all over the city. One medium sized plow pushed all the snow from the side to the middle of the road (weird), while a bigger one then came and pushed it all back to the side of the road, but I guess in an organized and neat fashion, without completely covering the sidewalk again. 

It makes for interesting viewing and tricky driving while trying to dodge both the plows, the piles of snow and oncoming traffic...

Dec 9, 2010

The misery of PUPPP

No snow plow today - there is a break in the weather. Even so, I'm up at 5am because of PUPPP. The itching is driving me almost insane, and I don't know what to do about it other than apply a distraction technique.

The PUPPP seems to be abating a little on my forearms and lower legs, areas that were full of intensity in the beginning. I suppose that is somewhat good, except that it is spreading, and this morning, the most itchy places include the backs of my hands and knees. I also seem to be more bumpy in the neck and am really hoping this thing doesn't spread to my back. It's bad enough that my bum looks like a large purple patch.

I did a lot of research yesterday and even took a taxi during lunch time to a pharmacy that sells dandelion root extract. Only to find out that the bottle clearly states "do not use during pregnancy". After a telephone consultation with a naturopath, I learned that it's really not advisable to use this stuff when pregnant. So there went my number 1 idea for "curing" this itch.

On the advice of my doctor, I have been taking Benadryl (rather than Zyrtec) at night, but as far as I can tell, it's useless other than to make me sleepy. I still wake up some 6 hours later with intense itching. I suppose I shouldn't complain about 6 hours of sleep; once the baby is born this will probably seem like a luxury. But I was really hoping to be well rested before the little one arrives, and at the moment that seems like an unachievable goal.

I haven't yet used much of the 1% steroid cream that the doc also recommended to me. I'm worried about thinning out the skin too much and other possible side effects of using steroids. The patches I'd have to use it on are simply too large.

For the rest, it's back to Pine Tar soap (unclear if this is helpful) and lotions such as Calamine (helpful against itch but dries the skin tremendously and a bad combo for winter weather and indoor heating), or hubby's Cetaphil (an eczema lotion that keeps the skin nice and moist but really doesn't abate the itching much).

Oh, and I'm still on Dandelion tea, since that is made of leaves and not the root, and therefore ok to drink. But I'm doubtful about its ability to help my itch at this point.

Of course, the naturopath thought I should avoid all "white foods" in my diet, such as milk, flour, sugar, rice, etc. Apparently that is what she advices for clients who have pregnancy-related acne. I immediately discarded this option. Without milk or flour, I have no diet. And PUPPP isn't acne.

In fact, very little is known about PUPPP. I researched the medical journals yesterday and came up with very little information that was useful, as far as treatment goes at least. So much for science. 

If any man ever had to suffer this, I suspect this "harmless" itch would have been solved by science decades ago.

Dec 8, 2010

Snow and bumps

A 2.15am start this morning thanks to a very large, and very loud, snow plow. The "light snow flurries" as the weather forecast has been describing it have added up to several feet of snow, making for a magical winter wonderland and one ass that decides 2am is a good time to clear the parking lot near our house. I'm beginning to think I can't be the only one who hears this - we have a ton of residents in this area. I'll need to investigate who to complain to. At least, he could wait till 6am or so.

The "scattered flurries" are supposed to continue till Saturday. Already, it is nearly impossible to get out of the house because while they've managed to plow the roads, many sidewalks have not yet been plowed. Makes for good exercise for an expectant mom, as long as no sliding is involved.

With the windchill, it's supposed to feel like -15C out there (5F). All I know is that I'm wrapping up big time whenever I go out.

There is a downside to wrapping up, of course. Yesterday I was wearing my -40C snow boots which are great except that because I have PUPPP (yes, it was confirmed by my doc), it led to some intense itching on my legs. Too much heat.

The PUPPP is annoying. Calamine lotion seems to help a lot, but it's drying out my skin too much and with it being full blown winter already and lots of dry hot air indoors, this is hardly and ideal combination. My routine consists of a morning shower followed by lotion and lots of dandelion tea (supposed to help). Then I distract myself with work during the day. At about 6pm, the itching hits me and drives me insane. I then try to bear it as long as possible before taking an oatmeal bath (virtually cold yesterday as we seem to have some issue with our boiler running out of hot water), followed by more calamine lotion and tea, and at some point in the evening some kind of anti-histamine.

The doc did prescribe me a steroid cream, but lots I read online talks about how this leaves dark patches all over your body (no thanks). So I've limited the use of this cream to two locations on my body: my bumm, since itching is intense there and no one will ever see the dark patch other than hubby, and the back of my neck which is so itchy I scratch myself at night. The cream doesn't seem to be any better at killing the itchiness, so I'm not sure it's all that useful.

Given my dry skin, I changed tact yesterday and am now using Cetaphil lotion (designed for eczema). Not nearly as good as the calamine if you ask me, but it does keep the skin nice and moist, so am gonna try it for a day or two and see how it goes. Also switched the anti-histamine to Benadryl (instead of Zyrtec). The one effect that seems definite is that it makes me sleepy - so I fell asleep at 8.30pm last night. 

No wonder I woke up with the 2am snow plow.

Dec 4, 2010

Never buy another electronic product

This morning I woke up at 6am, with the most intense itching. I suspect I'm suffering from PUPPP, an irritating skin condition that some pregnant women get and is more likely if you are having a boy. In my case, it translates as a bunch of little red bumps all over my arms and legs, and also parts of my belly and breasts. 

For the moment, I'm treating it with a small dose of antihistamine (doesn't help much), and some topical lotion that I bought way back when I had a poison ivy outbreak. The web further suggests loose clothing and seeing your doctor (duh). I'm due to see my doc on Monday for a regular check up again anyhow, so I'll bring my PUPPP along (no that I have much choice in the matter). I'm just sincerely hoping it doesn't break out into the blisters that appeared when my hand was undergoing something similar a few weeks back. We'll see.

I can't do much about the PUPPP except deal with it. Which is very different from my Sony products that are bringing me an equal amount of irritation, if not worse. On Monday my laptop went poof, displaying a blue-screen-of-death. It's been a week now and the IT people have still not told me if they've contacted Sony. They did determine that the hard drive is corrupted. Yippie. 

Now, of course, I am smart enough to have everything backed up online via Sugarsync. But even so, it's a bit of a pain since the "home" folders were all on my Sony and I know have to "download" each file I want to work on and re-save it on my trusty MacBook Air. My personal laptop, I'll have you know, that I am using for work. I refuse to have yet another stupid piece of rubbish equipment in my office as a temporary replacement with someone else's fingerprints all over it. I'm tired of it. Tired of electronics.

It's been nothing but electronic issues all year. Not only did my Dell laptop give out on me with a similar blue-screen-of-death as my Sony, but my Blackberry wiped out on me several times so I'm on my third phone. Add to that the fact that our cable TV connection gave in recently, and now the surround-sound system has died. Oh, and the 2-hours of pictures I took yesterday of the department curling challenge didn't work because my Olympus digital camera, for some obscure reason, decided that using a flash in an indoor environment would make all my pictures incredibly dark.

And then this morning, to cap it all off, when I woke up at 6 am crazy with itching, my Sony E-reader claimed that it had no battery power. Which is a ridiculous statement because I only just loaded it a few days ago and it should last more than 7,000 page turns (I read fast, but not THAT fast).

So I couldn't even distract myself with a good book. I have a mind just to dump all my electronic products (minus one necessary computer for work) into the nearest recycling bin and go back to basics. Pencil and mini calendar for appointments, pen and paper for notes, and a regular old landline for a phone. 

I'm sick and tired of spending time and money on these things. And my grumpy and itchy mood is adding to the feeling. 

GGGGGRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. (insert your own tiger image here)