"Edited to Add"....

This started as a pregnancy blog when I fell pregnant in May 2009 after four years of finding a donor, doing all the counselling / paperwork / tests and trying.

And now, thanks to a 4WD which skidded onto our side of the road, killing our baby daughter at 34w and injuring me, my partner and two of my stepdaughters on 27 December 2009, it has turned into something else. We didn't want this something else, but apparently it is all we've got to go on with.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Remember how I mentioned that great big list on our wall with things to do in order for the move to happen?

Well, I'm very happy to report that I have no idea whether we did indeed fulfil all those tasks, but we are here, in Melbourne (tick!) all our worldly belongings (ie the ones we didn't sell / put in the brotherhood bins) are here, and safe in storage (tick!), decrepit rental house is cleaned, condition report done and keys returned (tickticktick!), beloved beasties are staying at their quasi-rural cattery/kennels (tick!). We made it to Melbourne in good time for the Grand Gathering of the Long-Faced Kin (aka my extended family "cousin's day"), and enjoyed huge amounts of kissing of cheeks and exclaiming over my huge belly, whilst devouring traditional meringues and egg sandwiches. Tick! And we survived a significant number of hours in a suburban shopping centre, managing to gather small material tokens of our love for the family. TICK!

Each time we hit one of these milestones, El Prima and I bumped headed with relief, and murmured "tick!" - each of these taking us a little closer to getting ready for Haloumi.

The girls are managing like champions - putting in a huge effort to help with the packing and moving (and the multiple trips to the brotherhood bin) - though Snazzy was a bit sad on cousin's day because she missed family.

We've also gone for a birthing centre appointment - and met the Best Midwife Ever. We are really really hoping she will be on duty when Haloumi decides to make an exit. She was very reassuring, and said it would be good if I could do lots of sitting on kitchen chairs backwards cowboy-style in order to get Haloumi wiggling around to a proper anterior position. At the moment (or at the time of the appointment at least), Haloumi had his/her back towards my left side - which is not bad but things will still be easier if she/he can turn a bit to have his/her back at my front. And on Wednesday, we had an ultrasound just to check that my placenta is not low-lying. In fact, it is a good 4cm away from my cervix (yay!) and the ultrasound tech said Haloumi's head was very "well applied" to my cervix - not quite sure what that means, but I'm sure it is good.

We're now installed at my dad & stepmum's house in traditional christmas mode - has been lovely. But after having Mum stay for nearly 3 weeks, I miss seeing her every day. At least, for Christmas Day we're having her over for lunch at Dad's - which will make it the first time we've had them both at the Christmas table since 1987!

Wishing everyone a fabulous festy season & hoping you get a good break from all the normal things. xxx

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Choo-Choo! (and a question about Chiropractors)

Thank you so much for your lovely encouraging words on my last post!! I feel like the little red engine chugging up the hill saying "I think I can, I think I can". (BTW - does anyone remember the "Oh my god" collaboration between Pink and Peaches featuring that line? *fans self* ahem...)

But we are getting there! After a crazy, hard week or so, the marking is done, the review is done, we have gotten rid of two stationwagon-loads of stuff at our local market (and made $250!) and put out lots of old / broken furniture for our council clean-up. The girls have been absolutely amazing helping with all the packing and market work. Thanks to my mum, much of our kitchen & linen is packed, and we're on the way with the girls rooms and our rooms. One week to go now! I'm up in Newcastle for various meetings, and just gave a research seminar. Next week I'll still have some research work, but can also devote a lot more time to packing and preparing.

In the midst of all the chaos, Haloumi has been kicking and moving around lots. I spoke to a woman yesterday whose daughter was born at 30 weeks - she spent her first 6 weeks in hospital and much of it in a humicrib, but was all okay. I'm very glad Haloumi seems to been quite happy to stay put - let's hope things stay that way until at least the end of January!

I found out a few weeks ago that a friend of mine who is living in France is about to have her baby any time in the next couple of weeks. So exciting.

On the recommendation of the midwife who ran the birthing course we did, I went to see a chiropractor on Monday (don't worry - she's also a midwife & is specialised in chiro during pregnancy). I guess I wasn't sure if the lower back soreness and stiffness I've been getting is just normal for pregnancy or whether there is anything much I can do about it. It was the first time I've ever been to one and it was quite weird. I've made a tenative appointment to see her again the day before we move but I'm in two minds about whether to cancel or not - partly because we'll probably need that time for packing and preparing for the move, but also because the treatment philosophy seems to be all about coming back for regular (expensive!) "adjustments" administered by the chiro, rather than about what I can do myself in the way of posture / exercise / stretches etc to improve my health & spine function. If you've had chiro treatment (especially in pregnancy) - did it work? Given that I'm really not in that much pain, I'd probably prefer to spend the same money on getting a massage... which will be more relaxing and enjoyable.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Stretch marks, Packing Tape and Deadlines!

Suddenly we've got less than 3 weeks until we move interstate, and I've suddenly been struck by The Fear - that we won't get things organised in time or that we've forgotten something essential. We've now got a big list blu-tacked to the wall and are ticking things off (and writing on new things we'd neglected) at a rate of knots.

The removalists are booked, the pet-boarding is booked, things are (mostly) sorted for the girls' new school, we've just booked a stall at the Marrickville Sunday Markets to sell lots of our old stuff... and yesterday we packed pretty much all the books in the living room / our bedroom / my study. Mum is back, and has been fabulous - helping clear out cupboards, sort stuff, go to the shops while we're packing.

But in the mean time, I've still got lots of work deadlines to deal with - a book review, exam marking, an abstract and amendments to an article... And somehow the more deadlines, the better I seem to get at distracting myself...

For example, by looking for pictures of galaxies which resemble the stretchmark patterns I'm developing around my poor distended belly-button:

At the moment, our daily mantra seems to be "We'll get there!"

And I'm sure we will.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Best feeling ever

Hiccoughs happening in my belly - and not mine!

That is all!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Story of the Ever-Expanding Haloumi-Home

17 weeks

Once upon a time, there was a relatively modest-sized haloumi home. I'd definitely gotten to the stage where people knew I was pregnant, and could comment without running the risk of offending me. My belly button was doing this very weird thing - going from being a 100% innie to having a sort of "eyelid"... And the boobies!

23 weeks: See those jeans - ah, that was the good ol' days when I could still *just* do them up. Mind you, I mostly had to unbutton them when I sat down, so it wasn't a very elegant look, but still. Soon after this, I got a package in the mail from my ever-thoughtful Mama, who had sent me one of those little elasticky button-expander things to put in my pants. Yay for being able to wear normal pants! But these jeans are still just a bit too squeezy even then...

26 weeks: Nonchalantly trying to take a photo of myself. Pregnant - moi?

28 weeks: Boing! Total basketball effect. 9 out of ten belly-speculators tell me that this is typical "boy belly" - all out in front, with not so much around the sides. But then my mum says she looked exactly the same with me and my sister around the same time. She said, "Oh, don't worry, you'll get bigger! I used to be able to rest a cup of tea on the bump!" I love that I am starting to get some bulge on the sides to make my poor scar (kidney operation, 1983) look like it is straining at the seams a little.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I'm sitting in my "office" (ie one end of our outside laundry, which has my desk & books in it) in my bra and pants and eating fruit icy-poles to deal with the heat today. I did have the option of going into the real (ie air conditioned!) office today, but the thought of finding something presentable/ comfortable to wear and dealing with public transport to get in there and home was a bit too much.

I feel like I'm finally catching up with myself after a few weeks struggling through day by day to get to the end of semester. Partly, the end of semester itself has made everything a bit more manageable, but I also got a blood test result from my doctor on Friday telling me I'm slightly anemic, which probably contributed to the "struggling" feeling. Since Friday I've been taking generous spoonfuls of an iron liquid supplement with each meal, and trying (more than I was before) to make sure I'm upping my intake of iron-rich foods. I haven't gone the red meat yet - though after 16 years of being vegetarian / fish-etarian, I'm feeling like I might try and do this a little bit just to sort out my iron / haem levels. But it is a very weird feeling when all my habits are quite well established in a non-meaty direction. If I am going to eat any red meat again, I kind of want to pick something really good too - but don't think I could handle the texture of most of it (and when I did venture in this direction a few months ago, this was mainly what grossed me out), so I'll probably end up chewing on a barbequed sausage.

So, aside from the anemia / carnivore issue, what else has been happening chez Sesame Seed?

- No gestational diabetes! Woo hoo! And I thought the sweet drink I had to have an hour before the blood test wasn't too bad at all - sticky lemonade!

- Loooooow blood pressure - which explains why I've had some woozy / nauseous episodes. Generally low blood pressure is A Good Thing - but I just have to watch out for the wooziness and if I feel faint, sit down. Does this give me an excuse to eat salt & vinegar chips to up my salt intake? What am I talking about, do I *need* an excuse to eat s&v chips?

- Reading this book - by Susan Ross - the midwife we did our hypnobirthing classes with. I really like it - she seems to draw on a lot of experience of all kinds of births, and comes from a perspective which is very affirming of birth as a normal, healthy event which most women are very capable of doing with minimal intervention.

- STRETCH MARKS! Already! So far, just around my belly button - I swear Halloumi has been sticking his/ her foot in my belly button for a bit of extra leg room! You know when you are on a long-haul flight and trying to get comfortable to sleep, and you discover that if you poke your toe in the seat pocket of the seat next to you, you can get an extra 5 cms leg extension? It feels like Halloumi is doing that! Will post a photo shortly.

- El Prima is away at a conference half of this week. It is funny how different the dynamic is when it is just me parenting with Snacky & Snazzy. They've been lovely so far - Snazzy made a special request to do moisturiser duties for my halloumi-belly while El Prima is away, and has been doing a superb job. I love that the girls always give Haloumi a little good night hug or pat, and are always asking me "how's haloumi?" I think Haloumi will be so lucky to have such wonderful loving big sisters.

- Gave our landlords notice today that we're leaving - in just over a MONTH! Yikes!! So so so much stuff to do! I've been gathering quotes from removalists, but I really just need to pull my finger out and book one. And start packing!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Musical Education

Now that Haloumi apparently has quite well functioning ears (and a developing brain to listen to the sounds collected by those little ears), El Prima's been keen for me to expose Haloumi to lots of music. And tonight she found the classical music CD which she used to play via headphones on her belly to her daughters through each of her pregnancies with them. We put it on, and El Prima's middle daughter came out and said "what is this music - I love it!" So clearly all that in utero listening had some effect!

We also noticed that our big dog (as opposed to the chihuahua mini pincer cross) who was sleeping on the rug opposite the CD player, seemed to be making little taps of his toes in time with the music. Presumably he was dreaming of being a great classical pianist!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Maybe I see you

Long before Haloumi came to be known as Haloumi, in the week I found out that I was pregnant, there was a song playing on the radio which made me cry secret soggy tears of joy. The chorus was “Baby… Maybe I see you in my eye… Maybe I’ll see you in time”* and it perfectly summarized that hesitant, contingent excitement of a positive pregnancy test. Maybe this meant we were having a baby – maybe our hearts would be broken. All these possibilities held within a tiny sesame-seed-sized something deep inside me. One of the first arabic words El Prima taught me was “aaineh” – literally meaning “my eye” but also “my darling” or “apple of my eye”. So when I heard those words, “Maybe I see you in my eye”, it was as though I was just starting to picture the possibility of a Haloumi – in my mind’s eye and with it, in my heart.

I hunted the song down – it was “Summarize” by Little Birdy – and El Prima bought the album for me when it was my birthday the week after our positive test. And today, on the train, I played it – with one headphone in my ear, and the other pressed to my belly for Haloumi to hear. Who knows whether kicking means Haloumi likes it or doesn’t like it, but it definitely got a reaction.

I’m still in that process of trying to picture this new “you” forming within me – a separate little someone – and all the possibilities that come with that. I know now that Haloumi is not a figment of my mind’s eye – even if something terrible and unnameable happens this will have been real – I will have had these little responses – this chance to meet and love and know Haloumi. I don’t mean to be morbid – and I know that our chances of the terrible and unnameable things is very very low, but this is my way of enjoying exactly what I have and hold here and now – without pinning my present happiness on a future possibility. Of course I am full of excitement about what I hope lies ahead for us. But at the same time I know what a powerful and unpredictable creature the future is – it feels foolish to emotionally second-guess it, even if we still need to plan pragmatically for it.

* And when I listened to the song after writing this, I realised that the words actually say “I see you in my mind” – not quite sure why I heard it as “eye” but there you go. In the fine tradition of “Cheap wine and a three legged goat”, “she’s got a chicken to ride” etc… (but not as funny)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Get your rosaries off my .... um... Birthing Centre?

This was going to be a nice little post about how during our hypnobirthing class on Saturday, my uterus decided to demonstrate Braxton-Hicks contractions* right at the very moment the facilitator started explaining about them. But then I read this article by Leslie Cannold.

And realised that the birthing centre where we are booked for Haloumi's birth is part of several "public hospitals", which, despite being publicly-funded, is subject to this edict from the Catholic Church:
"Catholic health-care institutions, whatever legal, financial or other pressure they are under, may not co-operate with abortion, sterilisation or euthanasia."
Cannold continues,
"Nor do Catholic-run health care institutions offer a full range of contraceptive services."

Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, the Catholic church's episcopal vicar for life and health. Should this man be deciding on your obstetric care or your baby's perinatal care?

I don't want to even think about the possible situations where we could encounter this policy. But if anything went wrong with Haloumi, or with my pregnancy, I think we'll have enough heart-breaking decisions on our hands without the Catholic Church telling us that some options are off the table because of THEIR religious views.

I've just rang our birthing centre and had a chat to one of the midwives, who was lovely and did her best to reassure me that these policies only come up very very rarely in the most awful of situations and that even then, the hospital aims to respect the patients' (ie parents) wishes while also respecting "the sanctity of life". Which wasn't terribly reassuring to me, because I can imagine few things could make such an awful heart-breaking situation worse, but one of them would be to have someone telling you about the "sanctity of life" at a time when you have to make such awful decisions. She did, however, tell me that their hospital policy puts the mother's health before the life of the baby, and that if a baby is not showing any signs of brain activity, they will let the parents decide whether to continue life support. But that these situations are always complicated and decided on a case-by-case basis, but that in the end "it is in God's control anyway". Well... yes - depending on whether you believe in God, and whether in your understanding God has control or not...

So where does that leave us? So far, all the midwives and the one doctor we've met the birthing centre have taken our same-sex family in their stride without blinking an eyelid, so I would not anticipate we'd have any issues with them on that front. But it scares me that, if the worst did happen and we had to face decisions about whether or not to continue with the pregnancy, or whether or not to continue treatment / life support for Haloumi or me, that these decisions would be constrained by the dictates of the Catholic Church.

Yes, other hospitals also have ethics committees etc which may also limit our choices - but at least those ethics are broad, secular ethics, and not those of a Church which a) we don't belong to and don't believe in, and b) which has a number of positions we disagree strongly with.

I asked if I could get a copy of the Mercy's Ethics policy - she wasn't sure if they had such a document, but gave me the number of the Pastoral Care department so I could ask them. I will follow up, but I have lots of work to do, and I hate the sick feeling I get in my tummy when I have to think about these "adverse scenarios" when we could come up against Catholic hospital policy. I just wish I had known when we were choosing our care that some public hospitals have such limitations. Or rather, I wish that "public hospital" meant that only public health department ethics limits applied. (I've written a very grumpy missive to the Health Minister about that).

Blech. I don't really want to end the post on that rather depressing note - so will leave you with this cute misunderstanding from one of the dads at the hypnobirthing class while we were watching a waterbirth DVD:

dad: How long can they stay under water for?
facilitator: Well, they have been in water for 40 weeks...
dad: Forty minutes! Really?

*sorry, "practice labour" - part of the whole hypnobirthing approach is to use less medicalised language. And actually, "contraction" doesn't really capture what they are like - I had some bizarre idea of some kind of mini-abdominal earthquake. Instead, it was much less dramatic than that - my tummy went rock-hard for about half a minute or so, and that was it. Just like a big ol' muscle is wont to do now and then.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mama Mia

I might have mentioned that my mum was about to start off on an epic road trip with her caravan from one side of the country to the other to come and see us and help us make The Big Move South. Well, the road trip she expected to last several weeks only lasted one day - and while she and her puppy are okay, her caravan and car are not. Huge winds coming south of Carnavon swept them off the road, wrecking both car and caravan.

Thankfully (thankfully) some other drivers weren't too far behind her, and stopped and helped Mum & Ruby (the pup) get out of the car. And thankfully she was insured, and the insurer has already agreed to write off the car and caravan and pay her out. So she's now flown home, and is staying with my sister while she re-adjusts her plans.

I'm so so so glad she is safe, and can't imagine how scary it would have been. My mum is the adventuring type - I love this about her, but it also scares me to bits - particularly when I get news like this (or the phone call from DFAT telling me that she was stuck in Bolivia in the midst of a civil uprising, and the embassy was trying to get her out of there - no, I don't make these things up! - Keely, I think we may have a competition here for World's Coolest Mum). She's been travelling for about 3 years - so I can't wait to see her in the flesh for a proper big hug (even if I'm a bit lumpy for hugging at the moment).

One of Mum's photos from WA

Other "news" from our region:

- Queasiness - I thought I was all done with this, but it is back, and doesn't seem as benevolent as my thankfully gentle dose of morning sickness. It is more of a dizzy/ faint/clammy/queasiness - and so far seems to mainly hit when I'm sitting on the train in the morning. I feel like I have to concentrate so that I don't faint. Will mention it to my GP next time I see her.

- Weariness - I don't know if it is the last few busy weeks of semester (and extra teaching to fill in for my boss who has had to fly overseas for his dad's funeral - sad) or the beginning of the third trimester, but I am suddenly getting hit by the tiredness truck again. I find myself counting down the weeks until teaching is over - and for the first time in this job my motivation is flagging.

- This sounds really silly, but I keep looking at people in the street and thinking "you were a halloumi in your mum's tummy once!" It shocks me that this is the only way human beings get here - that for every human walking around, there is (or was) a mother who carried them just like I'm carrying halloumi. And vice versa - that one day (touch wood) Haloumi will be one of the people on the street - all adult-looking and with a life of his/her own. Yikes.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Red Bean Bun!

was ALL that I could think of this afternoon after I escaped from a videoconference meeting at work. The idea lodged its sticky self in my red bean brain, and would not leave me alone until I marched all the way down to the sweet bun bakery and got not one, but two different kinds of red bean bun. (heavy gelatinous, rolled in hairy coconunt red bean bun, and golden baked bun with a frighteningly scary dough-face red bean bun - these are probably not the correct terms)

And I made ravenous pregnant woman faces at people on the street as I wolfed them down while walking back to the office. (clarification - I was wolfing down the buns, not the people on the street. Though they better watch out - particularly when I'm hungry and on the hunt for red bean bun!)

In other scintillating gestational news - a friend pointed out that my sticky-outy bellybutton is actually a little bit off-centre - slightly to the left (just like Beyonce). In fact, the "linea negra" above and below my bellybutton don't even line up! It is like my belly button is some kind of traffic-reducing chicane on the grand highway of my linea negra. (I love the word chicane. My brother had to explain it to me - this is probably why I love it so much).

Last week I waited around all day so I could have the "big chat" re our relocation with my boss. And thankfully, he was absolutely lovely about it - sad that I wouldn't be coming back after having haloumi, but understanding about my reasons why. I wasn't surprised, because he's always been very supportive, but it was a huge relief. And that means I can let my other colleagues know - also sad because they have made it the most friendly & supportive workplace I've ever worked in, but nice to no longer have to be studiously vague about my plans post-maternity leave. I'm lousy at carrying secrets - they exhaust me. It is nice to no longer be carrying that one.

And last but not least, you know in the Olympic gymnastics - the event where the gymnast sprints like the clackers down a track, bounces on a trampoline and then boings off a padded wooden horse with two feet? It feels like haloumi's been doing quite a bit of that! Not painful or anything - but quite strong!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Words for Haloumi

**I'm going to put my aspiring word-smith heart on my sleeve and post something here I wrote for Haloumi. I know amateur poetry can be cringe-worthy, if you find this so, please be kind!**

Halloumi’s playing knock-knock jokes with me again. Knock knock – Who’s there? Haloumi!

It is feeling summery – even more so that last month. I’m on the train, curving my way up to Newcastle. Late for the colloquium I was planning on attending, but will get there nonetheless. And I find myself writing words for Haloumi in the margins of a paper I’m reading:

Promises Made

I will greet you with hands smelling of oranges.
I will kiss your mouth in your sleep.
I will let you surprise me
Over and over again.
I will curse that my hands can’t bat away all the things that will hurt you.
I will remember– despite the shock – that no matter how many times I have dreamt you
You are your very own dream
From your very own flickering head.

I will breathe you in and mingle you with my familiar cells.
I will breathe you out and let you mingle amongst the hard and soft particles of the air.
I will bring you home,
And I will open the door.

And as much as I delight
In the still unreal thought
of seeing the light bounce from your face onto mine
I will not hurry you

Monday, October 12, 2009

I am a grot (....I am an Island)

Unanticipated pregnancy side-effect number #317 - catching spilled food on my unprecedentedly protuberant bosoms / belly.

Usually painless but can be quite embarrassing! Having made the rather impetuous decision to eat an entire orange just an hour before the fancy work function this afternoon, I am now wearing a big wet-patch on my front where I've had to sponge off the orange juice. This is why I should only ever wear black at work.

Still, the orange was worth it!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Haloumi bends it like Beckham

I feel like there is a lot of this going on behind my belly button at the moment:

It is so nice to be getting so much movement - reassuring us that haloumi is doing well and enjoying my olympic-sized uterus. When we were at my sister's place last week, we could actually *see* my tummy moving - or something moving beneath it! Very weird and lovely at the same time. And sometimes if we poke my belly in response to a kick, Haloumi will respond back with a kick - or at least we like to think Haloumi is responding - who really knows?

We were south of the border all last week to visit family and to set up things for the move (less than 3 months to go until we move! eek!) and one of the appointments on our list was with the birthing centre obstetrician to check that I am sufficiently "low risk" to birth there. The only thing in my medical history which would possibly heighten my risk is that I've only got one kidney - the other was removed when I was little because of kidney / urinary tract issues. So I went for a special ultrasound to check up on my remaining kidney, and not only is it healthy and functioning well - it is 14 cms LONG! I'm not an anatomy specialist, but I think that is pretty huge. The obstetrician wasn't as impressed as I'd hoped she'd be, but didn't see any reason for alarm or to consider me high risk.

She did raise her eyebrows though at our plans to move interstate while 7 months pregnant... I know this is going to be tricky, and that I'll probably be pretty exhausted / uncomfortable by that stage, but it really does seem like a better option than all the alternatives. We're just trying to keep it relatively flexible so that we can roll with the punches a bit.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Nearly forgot!

Funny dreams again last night - including one that we somehow knew that Halloumi was a girl, and that an old friend of mine who lives overseas had come back, and told me, "come here, I've got something for you". We were suddenly in the house where she grew up, and she went into her old bedroom and pulled some huge soft toys from the top of the wardrobe - one was an enormous plush white bunny, and the other was a huge spongebob character. They were really great - but I was just wondering, how am I going to fit these in our house?

A Breather

I've finally made it to the 2 week non-teaching break, thank god! I had gone into week 9 hanging-in there by my fingernails mode, being just too busy to think, and for the first time in this job (2.5 years) feeling really unmotivated. I guess it had to happen sooner or later, and I think it is more a factor of so much stuff (work, personal, gestating, etc) going on at the same time, rather than about my job per se.

So it is really good to get a breather - not exactly a break, because I still had my business law teaching yesterday, and I'm on deadline for finishing an article which is being submitted to an edited book - plus trying to write a marking guide and start thinking about marking 40 student papers... but at least I'm not teaching at the main campus for two weeks.

And last night I cooked my first proper dinner in what feels like weeks (not counting quick dinners like pasta etc) - salmon with soba noodles. so good!

In Halloumi related news - I had a total stranger suggest on Sunday "When the baby comes - which can't be long now...." I was a bit agog at that - didn't realise I looked so huge! But apparently my mum was big pretty early on with her pregnancies too - I guess my body is just giving Haloumi an olympic sized swimming pool to play around in, and Haloumi will gradually grow into it. I also got a copy of the report from our 19week ultrasound, and apparently Halloumi was measuring at about 20 weeks 2 days - so only slightly above average size for dates.

I'm getting lots of recognisable kicks now - it happened the other day on the train, and I just sat there grinning to myself - such an amazing feeling. And Halloumi seems to get particularly active in the evenings - and has been known to kick El Prima in the back.

My uterus, as seen from Halloumi's point of view

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Halloumi Cheese! We know you're in there! (because we've seen the photographic evidence)

Here 'tis:

Don't worry, Halloumi does in fact have arms & legs, even if it doesn't quite look like it in this pic. In fact those legs were kicking pretty strongly, and at one stage (when the ultrasound tech was trying in vain to move him/her out of the way in order to get a good look at my cervix) poor Halloumi put his/her hand to her brow in a very "woe is me" kind of way. Poor thing - getting poked like that!

This one makes me wonder if Halloumi is all set to inherit my overbite. A work colleague reckons Halloumi is pouting in this one.

There's also a very spooky shot of baby skeleton face, but I won't frighten you with that one.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

We have seen the halloumi cheese! (and she/he is a very handsome halloumi cheese)

Scan went really well - we saw a beautiful halloumi spine, heart, organs, brain, little feet,little hands clasping the umbilical cord, and a little face snuggling into the wall of my uterus. All healthy and very active! Feeling so so lucky and even more excited than before.

Apparently my placenta is high (which is good), but a far edge of it comes a little bit close to my cervix, so we'll have to have another scan at 34 weeks to check that it is far enough away. But the ultrasound technician felt very confident that by then, with a bigger uterus, it would be well away from the cervix.

Will post pictures tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Scan tomorrow!

We're scheduled for our 19week scan tomorrow afternoon. I'm a bit nervous - mainly because we opted out of the 12 week nuchal translucency testing - but mainly excited to actually see what this little halloumi looks like. Especially now that we've been feeling movement - even el prima has been kicked! From the squirmy and occasional tracing sensations in my belly, I'm imagining some kind of little spider-monkey.

But we're not going to find out the gender. This is something el Prima and I have always agreed on - that we can find that out when we meet this little person face to face. And el Prima's theory (well-tested with her three kids) is that not knowing provides extra motivation to keep going through a tough labour. I'm usually a very curious, impatient person, but at the moment I just want to enjoy imagining who this halloumi might be without putting any presumptions about gender into the mix.

Apparently we get a DVD of the action - presumably edited so that we don't get any accidental glimpses of any boy/girl bits. Save that one for Halloumi's 21st!

19 week photos

I'll have you know that the moment after el prima took this photo, Moya (the cat) bit my elbow. I guess he doesn't enjoy flash photography.

16 weeks photos

Long promised belly shots...

I finally found the camera! It was exactly where I left it, but it took two weeks to remember... So I can now post the belly shots.

My sister did take some photos around 7wks, but they've disappeared - or more likely, they were taken on a different photo... maybe the one we left with our kayaking friend. Hmm apparently we're quite careless about where we leave our cameras!

Okay, so this was at 13wks:

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Worry dreams & the promise of belly shots

More odd dreams! One, terrible sad one, in which I dreamt that our donor and friend, J had died - I can't remember what happened or how, but just the weeping and feeling distraught. El Prima means this can mean some sort of change - I guess our relationship to him is changing dramatically now that halloumi is taking shape.

I definitely have a belly now - no amount of sucking it in can make it less obvious. I tried to look at my tattoo yesterday, which is just on the inside of my hip bone on one side, and there was a bump in the way! We are taking photos - but need a decent chunk of time to sit down, download them from the camera and post them.

Random people are now treating me like a "pregnant lady". Eg "Don't get between the pregnant lady and the icecream!" This is lovely and odd at the same time. I feel so lucky to have gotten to this point - and to have others recognise the pregnancy as "real". But much of it feels like a real or over-exaggerated wariness - as though I'm a ticking bomb which they need to be careful of. According to the more pregnant women in my yoga class, this only gets worse. One had a guy say to her at the service station "Looks like she's about to blow!" It is funny having your body "speak" for you - and disconcerting having people make assumptions about you as a result, but I guess that is what people with visible disabilities, or physical characteristics unusual among the community they live in have to put up with all the time. And at least most of the assumptions people tend to make about pregnancy are positive - at least for white women in their 20s & 30s.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Haiku for our times

This is from Bao in the Oven:

Let’s make a baby!
Oh wait: we are lesbians
We’ll need some help here

Sums up the situation perfectly!

And Figboilers are just lovely too.

This one especially:

i find myself here
rooting for you even though
we've not yet met-

Monday, August 24, 2009

Curiouser and curiouser!

I've been having some strange dreams featuring a new character - halloumi. First one in which it was El Prima, rather than me who gave birth to halloumi, and she was a girl. I was trying to run a restaurant, and people kept coming in and demanding to be served, even though we had officially closed. The people wouldn't leave, so I called out for El Prima, who was in bed already (apparently we lived upstairs from the restaurant) and she came downstairs with halloumi in a baby-bjorn harness. She was just beautiful, and was breastfeeding while in the harness.

Second, in which I managed to give birth to halloumi without realising it, and when the midwife told me that I had a daughter, I asked where was she - I wanted to hold her and feed her. And the nurse said, "no, you can't". And I asked why, and she replied, "because you've got a cold". I think this is from reading horror stories of 1950s hospital births in a book I'm reading at the moment.

Third, I gave birth to halloumi, and she looked exactly like El Prima - ie with an adult head and the body of a baby. And I was feeding her but getting confused because she did also seem to be El Prima at the same time.

Funny that my subconscious clearly thinks halloumi is a girl - I've been thinking we might have a boy.

I've also been waking up at 5 or 6 am - with something that feels not quite like flutters, but as though there is activity going on, and it is not my own normal internal bodily activity. A bit like when you sense that there is someone busy in the next room, although you can't hear any defined sounds. Maybe our halloumi is a morning person?

Image is apparently from behindinfinity3 from here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Triumph of Bosomry Engineering

Sorry to go quiet for a while - it has been a bit of a non-specifically rough week chez sesame seed. But all is well on the halloumi front - in fact, *my* halloumi front does seem to be increasing - even when I try to suck it in. A colleague (and good friend, who has known about halloumi for a while) helpfully commented to me the other day, "you are starting to look a bit... hmm.. tubby." Which brings me to the other expanding territory... The mega-bosoms!

I could only delay the inevitable so long, and finally went maternity bra shopping with el prima on the weekend. And somehow, in the hands of a very capable and sensible seeming woman called Margaret in the brassiere section at M.yer, I ended up walking away with a bra that seriously looks like a 1950s nanna bra... In a D cup! For someone who ordinary just fills out a B cup, this was very very startling (and gratifying, though I do fear for what the poor girls might look like once the return to my ordinary size). Thankfully I also got a much slinkier black one, which will allow me to show off some of this newly-acquired cleavage.

I've now busted the news to all and sundry at work, and it is a relief not feeling like I have to be all secret squirrels about it any more. (please excuse dodgy grammar). I'm now considering a bit of a wider family & friends email, but as usual, have been putting it off, as these kinds of announcements make me very nervous.

And El Prima just made me blush, when she called her nephew (aged 22) into the room and said, "have you noticed anything about H?" and when he looked confused I blurted out "She got me pregnant!" and turned beetroot. Which in turn I think embarrassed him, but he was very sweet and congratulated us.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Shaking my little fist and weeping at the news (again!)

Gah - surely there is a pregnancy hormone specifically designed to make you weep at the news. Enough with the horror stories about poor Darlene Haynes (I can’t bring myself to put into words what was done to her at the moment - don't click on the link if you don't want to read a horrific story!)

Not quite in the same gory league, but still disturbing, is this story , about a woman who discovered she was pregnant when she was given an abdominal x-ray by Frankfurt customs officials who had caught her smuggling packages of cocaine, which she had swallowed in condoms.
I can’t believe this sanctimonious comment from the customs spokeperson :
"The young woman did not know that she was not just endangering her own life by carrying this risky cargo in her body,"

This is coming from an organisation which has just carried out an abdominal x-ray on a pregnant woman, exposing her embryo to radiation and risks of birth defects, without doing a basic 5-minute urine test first to see if she was pregnant.
I certainly wouldn’t recommend being a drug mule as an ideal occupation for anyone from a health and safety point of view, but who knows what choices this woman had, and what her story is. I couldn’t help but think of the film Maria Full of Grace – not a doco, but nonetheless a very human and real view of drug smuggling from the “mule’s” point of view – without being in the least sentimental. It is one of those films that stays with you for a long time.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Not so flat-front...

I don't know about you, but flat-front pants are the staple of my work wardrobe. They are the trusted reliables I can always count on if I can't deal with finding appropriate stockings etc. But, funnily enough, they don't work so well with my new not-so-flat front. It is not a "bump" as such, just a bit of a bulge. I'm telling el Prima it doesn't count as a belly unless it is actual uterus - and she keeps telling me not to keep sucking it in every time she tries to look.

Other news - looks like I have a UTI - or rather, had, as it is now clearing up. Since I've only got one kidney, and have already lost one partly because of recurrent UTIs as a child (combined with other things), I was onto it pretty quickly, and trotted off to the doctor first thing on Saturday morning for some antibiotics - which seem to be doing the trick. But had a slightly scary Friday night when I had blood in my urine. Managed to drink 1.5L of cranberry juice yesterday, and am now adding dried cranberries to my snacks.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Best sound ever!

Image: "Listen" by Mo Willems (copyright) from here

The quick swish-swish of a heartbeat much too fast to be mine!

It took my poor GP ages to find it (halloumi was higher up than she expected) but once we heard it, it was unmistakeable. Now we just have to see if I have enough patience to wait another 2 weeks to tell my employers... (we're officially at 12 weeks now, but my GP strongly recommended waiting till 14 weeks to bust the news)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hello Boobies! (Dad, if you are reading this, please tune out now)

Having never been the possessor of an ample bosom (only a modestly sufficient one) my first reaction on not being able to button up a favourite garment without the stretched and gaping effect was “Woo hoo!”. My next reaction after that what, “holy batman, must I now replace every bosom-related garment I own or risk flashing my extra womanly flesh all over the place?!” Having gone for three and a half weeks wearing the one bra that still fits (ambitiously purchased at a time I thought, nay hoped that I might be on the borderline of a C cup), and experimented to my peril with other ol’ favourites which are now severely overwhelmed by their expanded guests, I am facing up to the fact that I may have to go on a bit of an excursion seeking new and undoubtedly expensive bosomry equipment. Gah.

I feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland in that bit where she eats the mushroom and with her hand on her head tries to work out if she is growing or shrinking. For this, dear internets, is my key area of confusion – when do I know that they are going to stay the same size, or will they keep expanding onwards and outwards indefinitely, until something dramatic happens (I’m thinking either breastfeeding, weaning or an explosion)? Do they ever “settle” into a new “maternity” size, or am I to resign myself to strechy shapeless type things until halloumi is of school age?

Boobies, I thought I knew you! And now, while having happily surprised me, you have also upset the delicate balance of the universe which rests on the certainty of having the one bra size from age 15 onwards. My guess is that you have further surprises in store for me – both of the gratifying and disturbing kinds. Please let it be more of the former than the latter.

Ps. Yes I know this comes with the territory of being a mammal and all

PPS. For those who take a perverse pleasure/reassurance in my queasiness (you know who you are!), you will be delighted to know that I experienced what I hope will be known at "the most inglorious post-breakfast vomit known to womankind" the other morning. Let's just say I can no longer consider the prospect of what was once my favourite breakfast - oatflakes with milk & banana. urg.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I LOVE YOU EGG! (ie that'll be one halloumi omelette for me tanks! No - make it THREE)

Oh yes, I have been loving the egg very much lately. I realised that, quite accidentally, on Friday, I managed to eat eggs for breakfast, lunch and dinner! I actually woke up Friday morning dreaming of a big egg fry up (including, dare I confess, bacon - but that is a thought I find much less appealing when awake, and we are a strictly no bacon household). So of course, despite having to prepare for a meeting with my phd supervisors, I had to cook myself eggs, tomatoes and spanish onions for breakfast - mmmm! Then I met up with a friend for lunch, and we had some free sandwiches at a faculty event, and I just happened to select egg sandwiches.

Then, when I was heading home, I called the kids ("teenagers"? - that just sounds odd) and they were making hamburgers for dinner, and I spent the whole bus ride home planning and salivating about my egg-burger, which I have to say, took a while to make but was just as good as I imagined.

Egg! Om nom nom nom!!

Image from here (if you want to listen to the song, be prepared for high pitched singing of the praises of egg & cuteness overload)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Famous last words

You know that line I was spouting not so long ago about feeling nauseous but not getting to the point of actually throwing up? Ha. Spoke too soon. Bleugh! Nothing like being on your knees in the bathroom at 6am to start the day.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


What is making me queasy at the moment:

- the huge pile of exam marking in front of me - bleugh!

- wierd plastic smells - shops seem to be full of these.

- twee comments in the "what to expect" book such as "a wrinkly baby is cute, a wrinkly mummy, not so much" - urrr! (in the section on which beauty treatments / botox injections not to have while you are pregnant - at this point I ran screaming back to Kaz Cooke, even if it is an old edition with the pages falling out)

- not eating anything for more than 10 minutes... and I've gotten sick of my ordinary nibble of choice - dates and almonds, so am desperately searching about for suitable replacements. Pistacios - good, but too salty, dried cranberries - good but too sweet (why would anyone think you needed to add sugar to cranberries), kiwi fruit - in dwindling supply at our house.

- the thought of the conference paper I have to deliver in 5 days which is still in very messy shape (and will stay that way until pile of exams is cleared). eeek

Image: Alexei Jawlensky: Girl with the green face, Chicago Art Institute, photo from here

Thursday, June 25, 2009


The ladies at Waiting for Mavis got me thinking about a 'word of the day'. So far I've been very lucky in that it has only been "queasy" and not "vomiting" *touchwood*. And although halloumi (or my bladder, under the bad influence of nearby halloumi) has been waking me up regularly at 4 / 5 am, I've usually been able to get back to sleep after a little while.
So if I had to pick a word for the day, it would probably be "inshallah" - meaning "god willing" in arabic. It is a bit of an odd pick in that I'm not religious myself, but El Prima is. (Gah - clarifying my own spiritual beliefs is tricky. Let's just say I grew up with the sense that the core bits of most religions are very similar - treat others with love and respect - be compassionate because you don't know when it will be your turn to suffer etc - but that religious institutions were problematic because those good core bits tended to get overshadowed by power plays, divisions, hierarchies and people wanting to tell you how to live your life.) I won't go into El Prima's story about how she reconciles her religion with her sexuality, because that is her story, but suffice to say this is something she has put a lot of thought into, and which is very important in her life.
But for us, inshallah is comforting at the moment, because it is both a permission to hope, and an acknowledgement that it is not us who will decide whether our hopes are realised. When I think of the word inshallah, I think of El Prima's mum, and all that she has weathered in her life, coming through with such grace and generosity towards others, and hope we can show the same acceptance and perserverence.
Image from here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


It's a haloumi!
Attractive and stylish, non?
(extra points if you can tell which end is the head - the lovely ultrasound tech wasn't quite sure. We're betting on the top-left end.)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Ridiculously premature discussion of birthing options

As much as I don't want to count chickens before they hatch etc (and as much as even planning what to do if said chickens might hatch) I made a tentative phone call to the Mercy Hospital family birthing centre yesterday, just to see how far ahead we'd need to book if, by any chance, come February, we might be in a position to think about the immediate hatching of a chicken...

"Oh, we've got a few bookings for February. You'd really need to book in this week if you want to be sure to get a spot".

Yea gods! How am I supposed to accept the possible reality of giving birth by the end of this week! And how does this work for suspicious people such as myself who are afraid of booking anything which presumes a chicken hatching, as that would be mocking the gods, and inviting disaster?

But, to put those suspicions aside for a moment, it looks like we are going to have to book some kind of birthing centre ASAP, whether or not I am able to wrap my head around the concept.

So, although I'm pretty sure that there are only 3 people reading this (and only one who isn't related to me by birth or whatever we would have if we were allowed to be married) I feel compelled to make a plaintive request to the internet at large to answer my question - Have you given birth at the Mercy? (ordinary hosp / birthing centre), and did they poke you with sticks and torment you and your baby and loved ones, or were they intuitively compassionate, respectful of you, your relationship (same-sex or not), your baby and your preferences for giving birth and extremely competent in helping you get baby from inside your uterus to outside?

Do you have any advice on giving birth in the following circumstances?
- living in sydney until about christmas, then moving to a suburb in melbourne's north (just a little further north than the current swineflu hotspot)
- keen on minimal intervention - and a midwife-led birthing environment.
- maximum support for breastfeeding / rooming in.
- no complicating medical conditions / factors thus far.
- same-sex friendly "a plus".

Gah - this sounds like a personals ad!! Any tips much appreciated!

(Photo title: Sister Mary Rose supervises Hospital Maternity Ward, April 1953, Ralph Morse, TIME - don't you love that the mother's face is just cropped out of the picture! Gah.)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

120 bpm!!! (alternative title: "It's alive!")

Scan went well today, despite me waking up from 4am onwards thinking it was time to get up (and then having bizarre dreams about being back at uni, in student accommodation).

Little haloumi is an impressive (to us!) 10mm long, and has his/her own yolk sac accessory and the beginnings of a salacious and commodious placenta. At first, haloumi was difficult to see - mainly because I kept giggling. The extremely young-looking technician was very friendly - introduced herself to El Prima, and asked us if we wanted a picture. And complimented me on my bladder - always an excellent way to make a good first impression. She confirmed that haloumi's looking about the right size for 7 weeks - and has a nice healthy little heartbeat of 120bpm (90 to 200 is normal for this stage, so maybe this means we've got a chilled out haloumi).

(As an aside, El Prima and I are constantly in confusion about how the "weeks" are counted, given that she has a conceptual objection to the standard medical system of counting based on that wacky concept that "week 1" begins with your last period, so that conception doesn't actually occur until "week 3". Admittedly it doesn't make sense, especially when - as in our case - we know down to a few days the date of conception - but I'm all for it, given that it feels like you get a bit of a head start.)
El Prima's going to scan the picture in so we can post it up here tomorrow. Promises to be slightly more accurate than the picture above, but still quite blobby.

Completely unrelated dot points

  • I think it is a signal of how often we do ironing, that the cat (now nearly 1 year old) got very excited when we brought out the ironing board from the laundry, and is now obsessed with it.
  • El Prima bought the "what to expect" book today. I find the twee little bits about babies and cuddles a bit annoying, but it is reassuringly filled with seemingly useful information. And despite my initial worries, it doesn't come across as too judgemental. But zero points for including same-sex families.
  • I've managed to eat a huge amount of grapes today. And I just tried to explain the winter solstice to Snacky (El Prima's middle daughter, 15 years old) using a grape to represent the earth - not quite sure how successfully. Mmmm grapes!
  • My dad & stepmum were in town from interstate - and we went to see them, which was lovely, but I made the mistake of not eating a proper big breakfast before we went out (because I thought we were going for brunch). As it turned out, we didn't have "brunch" until about 1:30pm, by which time (despite nibbling on almonds & dates) I was so hungry I had a headache.
  • Our first ultrasound is tomorrow! We're at approx 7 weeks, so this is mainly to check dates & viability. Cross fingers we see (hear?) a heartbeat.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Baby Stealing!

This is just way too disturbing:

In Pascagoula, Mississippi, in November 2008, Cirila Baltazar Cruz gave birth to a baby girl. Soon after, her daughter was taken away from her because she could not communicate with the hospital attendants. ... Baltazar Cruz is up for deportation, while her daughter is reported to be with an affluent Ocean Springs couple.

Details are here if you want to call / write to express your concern.

Wednesday 17 June 2009
I feel like I’m seeing everything in smell-o-vision – every scent is so intense at the moment. Strangers’ aftershave on the train, diesel fumes of the bus, the chemically smell of new fabric – it is like I’ve become some environmental toxic sniffer dog. My instinct is, if it smells unpleasant, then it is probably not a good thing to be breathing in, so I end up spending a fair bit of time breathing through my scarf, or going to stand next to a plant. Plants, by the way, mostly smell sweet – like really good fresh water. Yay oxygen. I had no idea that harbouring a little embryo would give you secret powers like this.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Best Birthday Present Ever!

Still up the duff, it appears!

I think there need to be a different word for "preganant" for the first 12 weeks - maybe just to ease you into the idea, but also to recognise the fragility of the state and the concept. Something a little more specific than the 19th century euphemisms about being in a "delicate condition". I feel like I'm still in the waiting room, listening out for my name to be called.
I opened the parcel from my mum today, and it is a necklace - pearls interspaced with earthy red, azure blue and lapis-blue ceramic beads - just beautiful. And better still, was the news when she called me that she's planning on staying in town after Christmas for at least 6 months, to enjoy her first (touchwood!) grandchild.
I went out this morning to get bread & milk, & when I got home, El Prima and the girls sung me happy birthday and surprised me with a cooked breakfast. Spoilt!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

This wasn't quite my conversation with the lovely nurse at the clinic when I rang up for the results of my blood test, but almost. She was very nonchalant, "Oh yes, it is all fine", while I was scrambling for a definite, yes pregnant or no not pregnant.

And while I have no illusions about my tiny little embryo being the messiah (he's just a very naughty boy), it made me wish for an angel who could really spell it out for me and give me a bit of certainty. But certainty isn't really what we signed on for, and I'd better get used to the uncertainty which is the very definition of TTC / pregnancy / parenting.

New in town...

Eeek! It is a funny feeling to be blogging again. It feels kind of "old school". To give a little back history, soon after I started working fulltime in lawfirm A (ie about 6 years ago), I set up a blog for my dear friend W, and in the process, decided to set one up for myself. It was all blogging hi-jinks until I realised that I was so miserable in my job, that if I wasn't careful, I would have an excellent blog, and no job. Seeing as the blog didn't pay the bills, the blogging had to go. Now that I have a job I love, hopefully I can blog "safely"!

I also feel like a bit of a cheater to be starting up a TTC blog only now, when we have managed to get our first BFP. Actually, I think that really is cheating. My sad & sorry excuse was that I found the TTC process too depressing to blog about - the rollercoaster of hoping, and then being disappointed.

We got our BFP on the 9th cycle of inseminations, and so it is a big relief to know that I am apparently capable of conceiving. My HyCosSy test came through all clear, and I haven't been diagnosed with any gynae conditions which might affect my fertility. So we were begining to wonder what was happening. My GP suggested that since our known donor lived in town, we ask him over for a fresh donation (up until now we'd been using his frozen donations via the clinic). Fortunately, he was happy to, and had just had a round of STI tests giving him the all-clear, and our result seems to indicate that fresh is indeed best. Woo hoo!

So... awkward introductions... I'm about to turn 33, and this is the first time I've conceived. My partner, El Prima, is mum to three daughters from her previous marriage who are now in their mid to late teens. The youngest two live with us.