February 17, 2012

My Funny Valentine

I usually could not care less about very much dislike commercial crap such as Valentine's Day. This year though, I managed to land myself a hot date.

Well, maybe not so hot unless you're into the Eastern-Europe-mafia-hit-men-walking-like-big-brown-bears type.

And maybe not so much of a date either unless you consider an 8mth pregnancy visit to an Ob-Gyn like a date.

My relationship with my ob-gyn started the day of Malo's birth. Until then, I had no ob-gyns . I had seen one at the start of my pregnancy, had liked what she had said (read "yes, you can run as long as you feel comfortable about it... which is what I wanted to hear, and what I thought was sensible, but which is definitely not what your average ob-gyn would say here), then proceeded not to see her ever again since everything was going super well and I'd rather have my monthly appointment with the midwife.

Fast rewind 2.5 years. On the day Malo will end up making it into this world, I turn up at the hospital, feeling pretty cheerful. What, are those the extremely painful contractions I am supposed to experience, especially as my waters have broken? It looks like I am going to be one of these exceptions who don't experience pain during labour, which is fine by me (I want a natural, drug-free birth, but if this does not involve intense pain, all the better, I am not that much of a masochist).

Two hours later, a guy enters the room. He does not say hello, nor does he introduce himself, so I decide that he must be some guy emptying the bin or something similar. Then he checks the monitoring. Oh, wrong, he's not the cleaning guy, he's the on-call ob-gyn. In any case, he clearly does not think that, as the woman giving birth, I am anybody important in the room, since he is totally ignoring me.

Then, having once again checked the monitoring, and still not looking at me but rather opening slightly the bathroom's door and poking his head in, he says, before barking at the midwife and leaving the room :  "that we don't like".

We will not see Mr Big Brown Bear for another couple of hours, during which it has become quite clear that, pain or no pain, things are not as rosy as we would like them to be. Bottom line is, as we find out after a lot of questioning, Malo's heart is not dealing well at all with the contractions. By the time his heart beat gets as low as 50-something bpm, we expect our son to be dying any minute, and, when Big Brown Bear, called in by the midwife, decides that this is it, it is either an emergency C-section or Malo may not make it, I am well past the "natural versus assisted birth" question, and just want to know my baby will be out soon. And alive.

Back to today. In the space of these 2.5 years, I got to know Big Brown Bear a bit better. Or enough at least to realise that, although his manners may be a bit on the rough side, and his biggest strength is definitely not his inter-personal skills (I just wish I knew this on Malo's birth day, instead of mistaking him for a non-French speaking cleaning person), he's a very competent guy, one of the best ob-gyn the hospital has, and he'll do what's best for the baby and for me.

I must now even admit to a certain liking of his rather -shall we say... dry? - sense of humour :
- "Do you want to know the sex of the baby", he asked on the day of Baby #2's second ultrasound.
I replied I did.
-" You've clearly not be advised I am not divulging this information any longer", he then said... then proceeded to the entire U/S without telling us what he had clearly seen the minute he started to check what was inside my belly.

For this second pregnancy, I have not seen Big Brown Bear much more often that I did see a ob-gyn the first time round, at least since we found out that the biologist's news that the baby was not viable was just rubbish. What has changed though is that this is pregnancy #2, and that, with an history of C-section, I am now part of the sought-after "risky pregnancies"club.

Hence my Valentine's date with Big Brown Bear, during which we did not dissert too much about the good old days of our first meeting, but more of the odds of me having a natural birth this time. And the odds are not super high, is the outcome of our "date".  The baby is high, the baby is big (and there is still some weeks to go!), and my pelvis not so much. 

What would have been terrible news to me 2.5 years ago is actually now OK. I came to realise that no matter how I give birth, I will love the little girl, the same way I did with Malo. Sure, if a C-section it has to be, I will miss immensely not having my baby against my skin the moment she's out. But on the other hand, I could do with not having to re-live, even if only in imagination, the horrible fears that ended up summarising Malo's birth. Oh, and if she continues growing and ended up getting anywhere close (or even not that close, come to think of it) to her dad's weight at birth (4.650kgs - 10.2lbs ladies! Respect to my mother-in-law is all I have to say), I think I'd rather not even try to get her out the "normal" way.

So following my hot date, I have been considering C-section as a very tangible prospect, and unlike 2.5 years ago, not a very scary one. And at least one thing would not change, should the prospect materialise. As I gave birth to Malo at the end of August, a month which sees about 99% of France's population taking their vacation, I had to deal with the slightly unreal experience of having to listen to the Ob-Gyn telling the nurse about his holiday (and complaining about the scorching heat... well, guy, just try again with a belly the size of a hot air balloon next time, and I swear you won't complain ever again), all the while stitching my uterus back together.

Guess what, this time round, should we need to plan a C-section, this will have to wait until full term minus10 days, because he'll be on holiday again. And unless "Petite soeur" decides to come and check out the world earlier, it therefore means I'd better get ready for some incredibly frustrating accounts of ski-touring trips in spring snow then.

And that's all fine by me, if this ends up being the toughest part of that day.

February 11, 2012

Nothing to wear

I am lucky enough, thanks to running mainly, to have now, at 38, more of a teenager body than when I was a teenager (how's that for a catch line which may have me hated from half of the female population... although, if I am lucky maybe not half of the one reading running blogs since a lot of them will be in the same situation).

I also don't seem to be able to throw much away (everything I did throw away, on account of the fact I had not worn them for years and they had gone out of fashion 10 years earlier, were, of course, the thing to wear less than a month after they had been given to charity).

And, last but not least, I used to be a real girl when it came to clothes (that was before I started to think my money was better spent on sport kit, before I had a kid, and before I had no money to waste). 

Having nothing to wear was therefore, in all honesty, never a real problem (although on occasion I may still vehemently argue right the opposite, especially when late to get ready for a night out with Martin).

Until now.

Now that I am 33 weeks pregnant.

I am not talking about everyday clothes. Right now, I have two pairs of pregnancy jeans, a pair of leggings and a skirt which I bought at H&M when pregnant with Malo, cost 9.99€, is not even from their pregnancy line and is just fine. I am still wearing my "non-pregnant" sweaters, which have become very figure-hugging to say the least but still do the job (although I may come to regret having done this when I am back to my normal self and I realise that the said sweaters have lost their shape to the point of only being good at mopping the floor).  All this is more than enough for taking Malo to daycare, buying groceries and working from home.

No, what I am talking about here is sports clothes. There it looks like I have reached the point of no-return.

When pregnant with Malo, finding a sports outfit which would allow me to stay comfy and decent up to day 266 of pregnancy (turned out I "only" had to deal with 262, but that's another topic) was reasonably easy. (As an aside, I did not get my math wrong : just remember those of us lucky enough to be pregnant in France have to deal with not 40, but 41 weeks of pregnancy... doesn't it make heroes of us?). As I reached whale-stage in the heat of summer, I stole some of Martin's cycling lycras in which to fit my ever-expanding belly for spinning. And, when it came to hiking, running and swimming, I only needed a pair of shorts, a t-shirt and a pregnancy swimsuit, just like those : 
Me in sports attire, 3 days before Malo was born and setting off for some "white water rafting" (!)
This time round, I am not only reaching third trimestre in the midst of winter, but, am I being unlucky, in the midst of the coldest winter Europe has experienced in decades. And my belly is 5cms bigger as it used to be at the same stage of being pregnant with Malo (and yes again, I do keep stats).

Thinking about the positives (second time in the space of two posts... I should make sure this is not becoming a habit), that spares regrets for having splashed out on my only proper pregnancy sports clothes investment, a pair of pregnancy fleece running tights. (On another side note, would you believe those had to be ordered from the US, since it is just impossible to find proper pregnancy running clothes in Europe. And it does not even mean there is a market here to explore, since there are no pregnant runners around. Shame). These running tights may be the most unflattering piece of sports gear I have ever owned (which obviously mean I would not dream of posting a photo even if I was paid for it), they're still saving my life right now.

Apart from these running tights, I could, until now, manage with "normal" clothes. Shoes and socks are not an issue. Technical first layers and fleece were getting a bit of the short side, but the ugly pregnancy running tights getting over my belly made up for it. I was thankful for the stretch fabric on each side of my fleece vest, which meant I could still zip it up. And for the first time, I was happy Mizuno's size XS is so ridiculously large, since it meant I could also still wear and zip my rain jacket.

This week has, however, sadly marked a milestone, which will be remembered as the "I have officially nothing to wear anymore" week. Following last Sunday's run and related "getting dressed" attempts, I had to bent my principle of not buying anything pregnancy related with only two months to go, and hit Decathlon, where, at least, I was able to get a fleece and a fleece vest for a price not too close to daylight robbery. And when, today, I managed to find 45 min for a run some time outside, it became obvious, as I was getting ready, that this was probably the last time the XS rain jacket would be used until back to non-pregnant status. I am therefore now faced with only two options : 1. steal Martin's (that's going to become a common theme here) rain jacket, which, being bright red, will make me look even more like Santa than a few weeks ago. Or 2. freeze to dead. I guess I'll settle for # 1., eventually.

Snow shoeing attire is also going to be an issue. Again, those fleece pants will no doubt save my life, or at least my legs, but what about the rest of my very pregnant body? My - very warm - down jacket still fits (how long for?) but, as I am carrying my own portable central heating 24/7 these days, is far too warm for steep (or not so steep) uphill snow shoeing. And my only alternative will no doubt burst at the seams anytime soon. And no, I won't borrow Martin's, since snow shoeing with a jacket the length of my regular coats is not an option.

Definitely reaching a dead end here. 

As for the buff I have been wearing over the past few weeks as a comfy way to hold my belly, and which Malo calls my "zupe", my skirt, it will soon be a skirt... 

... for Malo only...

February 09, 2012

A good mix

Looking at the recent downhill skiing results results at the Kandahar and the nationalities represented on the podim - first Romed Baumann, Austrian, second Alexis Pinturault, French - I started having dreams of a brilliant skiing career for Malo (OK, this is a big lie : there is no way,  I want sports to be anything but a game for Malo for now - if he llater wants to make something more serious of it, it'll be his choice, not mine. But I need an introduction, so did not mind the lie).

Good thing then that we took him for his first skiing experience just over a week ago (second one really, but he was standing on his dad's skis the first time round, do it does not really count).

Well, if he liked in in this weather, the chance is he will like it always. The fog grew thicker and thicker as we were driving there and to say the visibility was limited when we finally parked would be a massive understatement.

Mind you, at least, it was cold, but not too cold. Not -30°C cold like what we've been having since pretty much the day following our skiing trip (and this is France, not Canada, therefore -30°C for the best part of 2 weeks - and counting - is almost unheard of... 470 people have died in Europe because of the cold since it started). Goven that 1. if I had to chose one or the other to experience with skiing, I would go for the fog anytime and 2.I am the one chosing for Malo these days, it was just as well it was foggy but not artic-cold.

I guess Malo's parents were definitely as excited much, much more excited than the star of the day himself that he was at last on skis. I mean, at 2 years and 5 months, it was about time, wasn't it? I am just kidding here, but, mind you, checking the average age - three? three and a half at the most? - of the skiers on the runs, in this tiny "resort" (if 2 runs constitute a resort), you would be forgiven to think all the parents take their skiing pretty seriously here and want to make sure they have indeed fathered / mothered the next generation's Hermann Maier or Lindsay Vonn.

I sacrified myself by letting Martin start with Malo...

... then could not help it and after 2-3 "runs" (the bottom of them really... we did not even take the "magic carpet") asked to swap, which was only a partial success since Malo was in one of his "no, not Maman, Papa" days, by which he makes very clear he is not necessarily 100%- happy wityh the baby sister situation. 

Truth be told, the best part of the day, if you were to ask the key man, was without a doubt the biscuit-break that followed the skiing. 

As for me, well, the day was used as undeniable evidence that the toughest bit about skiing while 7-month pregnant is ... putting one's skiing boots on.

Keeping my cards close to my chest (or is it my baby?)

90th percentile in pretty much all areas.


"Vous cachez bien votre jeu", you're keeping your cards close to your chest, the OB-GYN said last week, as I was in for my last ultrasound, having checked the baby and now looking at the whole 5'1 of me. 

Poker terms notwithstanding, I am not sure whether I am more proud or scared to seem to be able to produce big (for me, at least) babies. One one hand, it gives me comfort to think that, should she leave her indoor pool early, she'll be already reasonnably big and strong. Malo and now this little girl growing inside me and clearly enjoying their time there should also give me comfort than my body is not only good at running, it is good at populating the world, too. That should include giving birth, so no need to worry too much.

On the other hand, well...

1. the first pregnancy went super well only to end up in a totally unexpected emergency C-section does not necessarily support this evidence ;

2. I have reached the point where I find I am big enough as it is, and don't need another two months of the baby gaining another 2 or even 3 kgs (yes I know, that's me being a bit overdramatic here). The OB-GYN may think I don't look like I am carrying such a big baby for my size, but, I mean, has he really, really, looked at my belly? To me, it definitely already looks like a giant inflatable balloon, and one which is meant to keep inflating until early April. Difficult to imagine. And scary.

3. I am indeed 5'1 and less than 45kgs when not pregnant.  Not exactly 90th percentile, is it? And let's face it, I am rather unlikely to get much taller and bigger in between now and birth, so a big baby is not necessarily such a blessing, especially with a first C-Section under my belt (pun not intended) and a pelvimetry planned for next week.Of course, I could try and think positive (now, wouldn't that be a first?) and think that estimation of foetus' weight can easily be off by 10-15%, which would then take her back to where Malo was at the same stage of pregnancy. That, or... 10-15% higher than the 2.060kgs announced. Already 2.370kgs at only 31 weeks and 4 days? That, I don't even want to envisage.

But isn't the main reason for not wanting this baby to be too big, or at least not to be, at birth, bigger than Malo is this one : do we really need, in this family, one more reason for the two kids to querrel when they're older, along the lines of :
"Shut up, you're only a girl".
" That may be so, but I was heavier than you and I was born, so you shut up".

Well, I surely think not.

February 02, 2012

"Maman, cours"

"Maman, cours", run Maman, says Malo 10 days ago as we leave the flat for a Sunday evening run with the Chariot, and are power-walking on the pavement.

"Maman, cours", orders Malo again 15 minutes later, as we are by then... well, running, actually.

Then, last Sunday, on a similar outing, it happens again.

"Maman, cours".

"But I am running Malo", I try to argue, "I am just going slightly slower than usual because it is more difficult with Little Sister in my belly". 
"Non, Maman pas courir. Maintenant, Maman, cours". 
That's it then, there is no way to avoid 2 simple facts :
1. My son does not consider anything over 5min/km running pace.
2. I am by now truly running like a pregnant woman.

Although I am quite happy about fact #1 (surely that makes him a future, fast, runner in the making, does it?), I am not so sure about fact #2. Sure, I am running, and I am pregnant, but until recently, it had not - or at least I want to believe it had not - affected my training regimen so much.  However, the last few weeks have seen me ballooning (or so it feels) and I have had to resort to using the tricks that worked when pregnant with Malo, who was clearly more tolerant of them then than he is now.

So here is how a run goes, at almost 32 weeks :
- Walk at fast pace for 10-15 minutes. Now, this is quite something for somebody who usually tends to forget about the meaning of the word "warm up" and can start at pretty much the pace she will do her entire run at. But hey, if that helps avoiding contractions (and it does -  zero contractions when running this pregnancy), I am all for warming up.
- Run for 35-45 minutes. Now, this is were running time is more dependent on being either "only" super busy with work or super-super busy with work, and unfortunately, I cannot manage much longer most of the time.
- Pace had not dropped too much until recently, but as we all now know, if my watch had not told me I was now going more snail-like, Malo would have.
- I am running less frequently than I used to, pre-pregnancy but also compared to when pregnant with Malo, but the culprits are more work and the new house than Little Sister.  Maybe that's just me trying to put a positive spin on the frustration born from running less - if that is so, that's great, since I am not so good at putting a positive spin on anything these days - but that could well be a good thing, since I have so far avoided the back pains I experienced with Malo, and don't feel my belly at all when running (despite its more than honourable whale-like size by now).

Strangely enough (or maybe not so strangely when one knows how a runner's brain works and what it produces), I feel ├╝ber tired ALL-THE-TIME, except... when I am running. I can spend hours wondering how to get through the day (and the night, thanks to insomnia and Malo having decided it is time to give us the sleepless nights we deserved but managed to avoid when he was a new-born), but feel a burst of energy as soon as I get out for a run.

So here we are. I have to face shame when running with my son and passing people who can hear him shouting clear and loud from the comfort of the Chariot that I am not fast enough. But I don't care. I am having fun. And I am just hoping the fun will last for the best part of the next two months, even it that means embarrassing my toddler or boring him to death by being too slow.