Sunday, 28 September 2008

Choo, choo, choo, Aaaachooooo.

Why do colds always hit me when we have visitors? Typically I was bunged up with the cold this weekend when Neil came to visit. Feeling thoroughly snotty and puffy eyed, I still managed to have a good weekend, albeit with less energy than usual (not that I usually have much energy these days).

Neil arrived on Thursday night, late, as his flight was delayed. We all stayed up chatting till 5.30am, which meant that we were more than shattered for our trip to the transport museum on Friday. Dan decided he'd rather stay at home and enjoy the tranquility of an empty house, so Neil and I collected Barney from school at 12 on Friday and took him to his favourite place in the whole world. (Anyone who meets Barney will invariably be asked within 10 minutes of conversation whether they've been to the train museum or not).

We used to visit the transport museum every Saturday while Jimmie was at drama school. But because of our travels and my pregnancy we haven't been there for over a year now. So Jimmie had been looking forward to this day out for weeks. He thoroughly enjoyed showing Neil around his favourite steam engines. While Neil and I trudged tiredly round the place, Barney ran from engine to engine, full of beans and excitement. It was good to see him enjoying himself and the new adult company. Barney can be tiring, as he talks constantly and really likes adult company, and many grown-ups cant handle more than an hour of him. Although he is totally adorable in my opinion. But Neil got on with him like a house on fire and chatted away to him like they were good mates, so Barney was just in his element.

Friday evening was spent playing Monopoly. Well, I watched as I can't stand Monopoly. But Neil, Jimmie and Annabelle managed two games together. Dan took this really cheesy photo of them posing for a family monopoly board game box. Lol.

On Saturday we were all so totally shattered after two extremely late nights, so we didn't go anywhere or do anything really apart from lounging around. Well, its nice to lounge around sometimes, in my opinion. And since I was loaded with the cold, it suited me just fine. Barney treated both Neil and I to a makeover (the photos of which can be seen here) and we both looked totally gorgeous covered in glitter and lip gloss, as you can imagine.

Barney helped me make some pizza dough and we did a 'make-your-own-pizza' dinner which always goes down a treat. The kids particularly like to chose their own toppings and make their own pizzas. Dan's pizza had so much cheese on it that it weighed twice as much as it should have. All in all it was a good and totally exhausting weekend. I really wished I'd been feeling better as I'm generally a miserable person when I have the cold.

Next weekend Dan and the kids are going to England to visit Dan's relatives. I'm looking forward to a nice peaceful weekend on my own. When they return it will be Barney's fifth birthday.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

I'm almost 28 weeks pregnant now and little Emily is getting bigger every day. I don't have any medical checks till the 7th October now, they seem finally to be letting me get on with it. My BP seems to be under control on this medication now, although it makes me unbelievably tired. I'm now officially in the third and final trimester of pregnancy, the home run, with about 10 weeks until our little bundle is due to be delivered by C section. Dan is getting very excited about meeting 'his baby'. Since this is the baby that he pestered for and really wanted, we call it 'his baby' (although just for the record, they are all actually his babies!) and I'm pretty sure he is going to spoil her to bits. He keeps telling me how he can't wait to meet her and hold her. Awwww.

In preparation for Emily's arrival we have been getting lots of jobs done around the house. We both know that we wont get a minutes peace once shes born, so theres been lots of painting, decorating and furniture moving going on. Dan has re-painted one of the kitchen walls with washable paint. Its the same colour as before, just more durable and less tea-stained. We have finished changing the old downstairs spare room into a new office, which involved stripping wallpaper, painting, and getting wireless set up in there for the computer. Dan has also painted two walls in the living room. The room was a pale green colour, but it gave me migraines at night, so we have changed two of the walls to magnolia. We have put together a lot of flat packed furniture from Ikea (including a bed for Jimmie who has been sleeping on the floor for years!) And finally, we have decorated the old upstairs office and made it into a bedroom for Emily. Not that she will actually sleep in it at the start, as she will be in with us. But at least we have somewhere to store her clothes and belongings. Dan painted it magnolia, and this morning we had a new carpet put down in there. It looks just like a baby's room now, with the cot, night light and moses basket all set up. Little Barney takes great delight in arranging Emily's room. Any time a new item is bought in preparation for the baby, he takes it up to her room and puts it away. Today I found the three pink baby-grows that Id bought all 'folded' up in a drawer.

Barney is still loving school, and finally making friends. Today he ran out telling me "that's my friend Daniel over there!" From Monday he will be going full time, instead of finishing at 12, so we can expect him to be utterly exhausted.

I had to post the photo above that Dan took of me. Our mate Neil is a bit of a whiz with photography and computers and he edited for me. I really like it, even if I don't actually look anywhere near as gorgeous as that in real life. Lol. Neil is coming over to visit us for the weekend. Dan is driving to Dublin to pick him up tonight. Tomorrow we plan to take Barney to the train museum after school, and I'm sure we will do something interesting on Saturday too. We're all looking forward to seeing him again. Jimmie is planning to beat him at Monopoly sometime. Next weekend Dan is taking the kids to England to visit his family. They are all looking forward to it, whilst I'm looking forward to having a nice quiet weekend on my own. When they return it will be Barney's' 5th birthday. How the time flies.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Food to make you dribble

(photo of Barney, myself, and my Mum - taken 15th September 2008)

It's been a busy few weeks since the kids went back to school. Little Barney is really enjoying school so far. He looks forward to going in every day, although he couldn't go today as he has caught a cold. (One of the vices of going to school!) He only goes until midday for the first few weeks, but he still comes home exhausted from all the playing. I'm so relieved that he's settling in nicely, and that he's not crying or begging not to go. It makes life so much easier.

Annabelle has settled into high school just as if she'd always been there. She never has many stories to tell when she gets home. She just does her homework and gets on with it.

One of my highlights from last week was a morning I spent playing in our big bed with little Barney. I was having a lazy day, it was the weekend, and as usual Barney crawled into my bed for some 'Mummy Snuggles'. The best part of the day is mummy snuggle time. But on Saturday we spent all morning in bed together, chatting, playing, talking about the baby and school. We were laying on our backs staring at the ceiling when Barney remembered looking at the stars together in the deserts of America. Every day he mentions something from our big trip. So we lay on our backs and stared at the ceiling, pretending it was the night sky. Barney started to name ceiling paint spots after the planets. He's been reading a book lately about space and the planets and is learning the names and sizes of each planet in our solar system. So the light in the middle of the ceiling became the moon, the light switch was Jupiter, and various paint spots became different planets, stars, and comets. But intent on being correct, Barney had to get his space book to make sure the big paint spots were named after big planets, and the little ones after little planets. We had such a lovely time together.

The 3d baby scan, or bonding scan (see post below this one) has really helped the whole family to bond with our little unborn baby girl. But none more than Barney. Before the scan he would say to me 'I don't like babies, they are gross, I'm not going to cuddle it' etc. But since seeing Emily on the baby scan and watching the DVD at home with me a few times he has totally changed his feelings on the matter. He took the baby scan photos to school to show his teacher and the class, telling them 'this is my baby sister Emily Rosie'. I picked him up from school the day after the scan and instead of running to give me a hug, he ran to my tummy, flung his arms around my bump and declared "I'm sure I will love you baby Emily". Now and then he comes up to my bump and has a little chat with it, telling the baby how beautiful he is, and what a good big brother he will be. It almost has me in tears.

Jimmie hasn't been well the last few days, suffering from a fever and headaches, so I kept him off school today, along with Barney. The spent most of the day playing Pirates of the Caribbean together, with no sign of looking ill. But it was lovely to see Jimmie (13) being so patient with his little brother and teaching him everything he knows.

Yesterday poor Jimmie missed out on a trip to my Mum's house for dinner because he wasn't well, and boy what a dinner he missed! There's nothing like your Mum's home cooking, but this food was so divine that Dan and I were dribbling the entire way home just remembering how delicious it had been! Roast leg of lamb, steak & Guinness pie, roast potatoes, asparagus, pak choi, green beans, lamb gravy, mmmmmmmmm (I'm dribbling again) - all followed by a big strawberry pie. I ate enough for three people and Dan wasn't far behind me. Even little Barney managed a big plate of food through his sniffles. We weren't totally cruel though, we took a doggy bag of food home for Jimmie to heat up. He was pleased. We all watched the 3d baby scan projected up onto Mums living room wall like a cinema screen! It was great to see it in such detail. I could watch it over and over again anyway.

I'm sure I have a heap more I could blog about but I can't think at the moment. There's so many times I intend to write a post but I just run out of steam and don't have the energy. The BP tablets I'm on make me sleep far too much, and I'm constantly extremely tired. I thought I did so well at Mums yesterday , then I remembered I'd forgotten to take my medication, so that's why I had energy! Today though I did finally get a few things done. Lots of sheet changing, washing of clothes, ironing etc. But I also finally managed to fix the drawers in my bedroom which were falling apart.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Baby Emily Rose - 3d baby scan at 25 weeks pregnancy

At last I worked out how to do it! Here is 3 minutes of our 20 minute DVD of baby Emily in the womb. Watch for the big yawn right at the end. Isn't she precious?

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Baby Emily in 3D

Today was the day we'd been looking forward to for a few weeks. My little sister J decided to treat us to one of the new 3d baby scans that are available privately. I had told her about them and said how awesome it would be to have a DVD of the baby for her to watch when she grows up, and she decided that it would be her gift to the baby. (And no, I wasn't hinting!) So today we drove down to Dublin to see our newest little person.

Ultrasound Dimensions clinic in Dublin offers a 3d baby scanning package for almost half the price that is usually paid in Belfast.

The scan itself took about 40 minutes - you certainly get your money's worth. Baby Emily (100% definitely a girl now!) was lying with both her legs and arms across her face, so getting to see her at the start was a bit of a challenge. However, we did get her to move her legs down for a good 20 minutes before curling back up to sleep. She sleeps almost completely folded in half, sucking at her feet and legs, with the placenta as a nice comfy soft pillow.

During her awake moments it was amazing to see her face in so much detail. She has the same shaped chin that Barney had, and looks just like he did at birth. She has the same Frondigoun 'duckie lips' (as we call them in our family) that all my kids had. We saw her yawn several times, suck at her bottom lip, smile and open one eye at us. The still images look kind of spooky, but the moving images on the DVD are totally mind blowing.

The 3d experience we paid for is called a 'bonding scan'. It includes the 30 - 40 minute 2d and 3d scan, a 15 - 20 minute DVD (which comes with tear inducing music) of baby's scan session, 2 black and white 2d scan prints (the sort you get at the hospital usually), a selection of colour prints, and a cdrom of all 20 - 40 images taken during the session. The lady performing the scan was lovely, and went out of her way to try to get good images. Emily was lying in an awkward position so I spent much of the time lying on my side. But there was a big wide screen TV of the scan session for me to watch whilst Daddy and the kids watched the computer screen.

It was a great experience for the children. No doubt it will help them bond with her and to look forward to her arrival. Barney was a bit impatient during the session (the 2 hour car ride had something to do with that) but he has enjoyed looking at the photos at home. He was delighted to be told by the scanner that she was definitely a girl. He just doesn't want a boy at all. At the end of the session when she handed me the photos that she'd printing I almost burst into tears. It was just so amazing to see our unborn child's face. She looked so peaceful and serene in there, totally protected from the world.

When we got home we put the DVD on and both Dan and I were almost in tears throughout it. (The music really helps with the tears, I'm telling you). I am trying to work out how to upload the DVD onto the internet so that people can see it. I think I might have to film 3 or 4 minutes of it on my camera and upload it that way. But what an awesome experience this was. Totally worth every penny (thanks again J!) I'd recommend it to anyone who is expecting their own little bundle of joy.

You can see all the photos of the scan that I've uploaded by clicking here.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

24 week baby scan

I have written two blog posts today so be sure to read the one below this about Barneys first day at school. A big day for him.

That was yesterday. Today I had another appointment at the hospital to see the doctor in charge of my pregnancy. (It seems my consultant has gone and retired on me, so this doctor seems to be taking charge for the time being). Dan came with me for the appointment and I was glad because so much was discussed and decided. First of all they wanted to talk about the results of mine and Dan's blood tests. If you read the blog post a few weeks ago about them finding antibodies in my blood then you will know what I'm talking about.

The doctor raced so fast into medical jargon about antibodies and D's and E's, that I had no idea what he was talking about. I had to tell him that I was clueless and so he started drawing me diagrams and graphs. I already knew that I was Rhesus D negative blood group, and that Dan was positive. But this is something new apparently. It's hard to explain and I don't fully understand it myself, but genetically Dan is 'Ee' blood and I am 'ee' blood. The E stands for some sort of antibody. Dan has the big E in his blood and I don't. But somewhere my blood has been contaminated either with his or with one of my children who share his blood, which has resulted in me developing anti E antibodies. Now the problem arises if my baby shares Dans blood. The baby has a 50/50 chance of getting either Dan's blood, or mine. But since my blood is fighting Dan's blood type we have to hope that the baby has my blood type. So basically theres no way of knowing which blood the baby has until after birth. If the baby has Dan's blood my body will attack the red cells in baby's body, causing baby to become very anaemic. (At this point the doctor asked if I'd had steroids to mature the babies lungs in case it needs to be born early. That was a bit horrifying. Anyway they didn't give me any) So if baby has my blood it will be fine. Dan asked what to expect if baby has his blood, and the doctor told us that baby could suffer from heart failure. Well this was a bit of a shock. He muttered other things like fluid around the lungs, swelling around the skull - things that he would look out for on the scan.

At this point he decided to do a scan. We had an extremely long scan because the doctor was training a junior doctor in the art of baby scanning. So we got to hear a lot of technical jargon that is usually not mentioned to the observing parents. We discovered that our baby is big. At this point it weighs about 1lb 12 oz, when it should only weigh a pound. A lot of measurements were taken and doctor decided that baby was still due on 19th December, but that its gonna be a bruiser. Oh joy! I was pleased that baby is growing healthily and that it was so energetic on the scan. I asked him if he could tell the sex of the baby, and he asked me "what do you think you're having?" To this I replied, "a girl". So he said he'd take a look. A few moments passed before he said "I think you're right, it does look like a girl to me". So that was great news as we all wanted a girl to even things out in the house!

So far on the scan the baby seems extremely healthy and there are no signs of anaemia or heart failure, so that's great news, although she will be monitored more closely. At this point I asked the doctor about the birth plan. Last time I went to see him I had mentioned the possibility of a C section. Three years ago I underwent some major surgery and was told not to have any more children naturally. So I had mentioned this to him and had presumed I'd be having a section. Without knowing much about my operation he had told me that there was no need for a section and that I could have a natural birth. I wasn't convinced this was a good idea so I spoke to my GP and my midwife who both seemed horrified at the thought of me giving birth naturally again. They said that I'd certainly need more surgery if I had the baby naturally. So I nervously mentioned this to him again this time and the response I got was totally different. I said to him "Ive been talking to my GP and midwife about the birth and I really would like a C Section this time". I explained my reasons why and to my surprise he said that a c section under the circumstances was a perfectly viable option. He has ordered my medical notes to look over but he thinks there will be no problem, considering the damage that would be caused by birthing naturally. Well, it just goes to show! If I hadn't pushed it then I'd have gone through a terribly birth and needed a lot of surgery afterwards. Not that a c section is easy, but I definitely think its the safer option in this instance.

First day at school!

Yesterday was the big day for our little Barney who had his first ever day at school. It was also a big day for Annabelle who started High School. Lucky old Jimmie didn't have to go back until today, hence him not being in the photograph. But here is a lovely picture of wee Barney and Annabelle in their school uniforms, all ready for their first days at school.

Barney had been nervous all night and hadn't slept well. He was excited, but also scared, and had a lot of questions to ask - such as "will the teachers know I'm coming?" Annabelle on the other hand wasn't nervous for a single second, right up until we arrived in the car at the school and she saw everyone going inside. Then she said "oh, now I feel nervous".

At the school Barney was a brave little trouper. I took him into the cloak room to hang up his bag, where a teacher met him and ushered him into the classroom. I gave him a hug and said goodbye and the poor little mite looked so scared that his bottom lip was quivering. He never said a word as he walked into the classroom. I got back to the car and nearly burst into tears for him.

Three long hours past before I could collect him from school. The children all came out in a line and Barney was there waving to me with a huge grin on his face. He had really enjoyed the day and couldn't wait to go back again! I was so relieved! When he got home he went looking for his Dad to tell him all about it. But Daddy and Jimmie were hiding in the kitchen with streamers and party food. When he walked in they threw the streamers over him, shouted 'surprise' and congratulated him for being such a big brave boy. When Annabelle got home from school we all eat the party food and played a few games. Dan is so good at entertaining children! He made a pass the parcel, and got together a box full of objects for us to feel and identify blind folded.

Annabelle got the bus home in the afternoon and said she'd had a good day. She was pleased that two of her school friends from primary school are in her new class, and that she has a really cool teacher for the next 5 years (according to her big brother who has analysed them all over the past 2 years!) Today Jimmie started back at school and I dropped them both off together. I feel so old having two kids in high school already!

The rest of the 'first day at school' photos can be seen by clicking here.