Tuesday, 21 December 2010


The second trimester is a wonderful time to go abroad, says almost every pregnancy related article I've read since becoming pregnant. Vitamin D is great for you and baby said another. Well we'd best go on holiday then! So, where shall we go, and when? Somewhere warm and sunny, Cyprus? (a favourite of mine) Nah! How about Prague! In december! And off we go....

I came home from work at the end of september to find P looking very guilty. From the look on his face I could tell something had gone on, and a look of 'that' nature suggested money had been spent. After some flapping and stuttering, and much redness around the cheeks, I learned Prague was in our future. Ive wanted to go to Prague for a while, I came close a few years ago but it fell through at the last moment, and P had wanted to go for some time too. Our date of departure: 13 december. I was around 10 weeks pregnant when it was booked, we worked out I would be around 22/23 weeks gone by the time we flew (that was before our scan put us back 6 days). 13 weeks seemed a very long time to wait.

Eventually the day dawned, albeit rather too quickly for P who had been singing the Messiah the night before, down in Bath, and only got home around 1am (we had to be on the train by 6.20am). The journey to, and our progression through the airport was fairly quick and painless. We were a litle concerned my passport may be refused as it was in my maiden name, and didnt match the name on the booking. I took the marriage certificate, just incase, and was rather pleased to discover that you can travel on a passport under your maiden name for 12 months after marriage (phew). We found ourselves seats in a Costa(fortune) coffee shop right by the departure gates and indulged in a spot of brekky (tea and toast for P, hot choc and almond croissant for me).

We left a dull and foggy Birmingham Airport 30 mins later than scheduled (air traffic control were having a lazy monday) and soared off into the skies.... and were blinded by the sun as soon as we broke through the cloud layer. An hour later we were over deepest darkest Europe, and saw our first glimpse of snow. A further 40 mins later we touched down in a very snowy and rather chilly Prague (it was minus 7 celcius). After a delay in meeting our transport we arrived at the hotel at around 3.30pm, and immediately set out to explore (read that as 'went out to play in the snow'). We walked down to Wenceslas Square for a quick mooch, found Debenhams, M&S and C&A, and the beginnings of the Christmas Market, which also provided our supper.

                                                         View down Wenceslas Square

We went for our first proper look around the following day, starting with the National Museum. They have a fab collection of natual history exhibits, skeletons and full size replicas of prehistoric beasties:

and some not so prehistoric beasties:

The Old Town Square was the absolute epitome of how I imagined Prague at Christmas would look; grand gothic and baroque-style buildings, the Christmas Market, horse drawn carriages and a huge Christmas tree, all finished off with inches of snow and huge fat snowflakes falling from the sky. It was really picturesque and quite lovely.

The most amazing part came on our penultimate night, when we were sat on the bed watching German TV. We were chatting about what we thought of our mini break, and would we come back, when we both felt the first proper kicks from the babies. I'd felt little flicks and pokes for a couple of weeks but nothing as definite as these. And they havent stopped since! Its a very odd feeling but also very reassuring. I'm sure that I wont be as keen in a few weeks time when they are almost too big to move around though...

Half way through!

Wednesday 8th December: 20 weeks pregnant! Officially half way through! Although, it is possible that these two wrigglers will make their appearance well before I get to 40 weeks, so it could be said I'm over half way. Now that is a little scary. The other reason to be excited: wednesday 8 december was the day of the 'big' scan, the 20 week anomaly scan. A pregnancy milestone and yet another moment to worry about. This is the scan where they check everything for problems, and I mean everything. We were in the ultrasound room for around 45 minutes while the sonographer looked at everything from every imaginable angle. The main concern for me was making sure that firstly, they both had heartbeats, and secondly they were growing well. Two very big ticks in both of those boxes, phew! Left hand baby was first to be analysed from head to toe. Baby was very wriggly, I dont think they appreciated being poked with the scanner! They were quite well behaved though, and let the sonographer see everything she needed to. Spinal column, arms/hands, legs/feet, pelvis, skull all present and correct. We saw the separate areas of the brain, the four chambers in the heart, kidneys, stomach and bladder, again all present and correct. So far so good (time for another sigh of relief!). No sign of spina bifida or a cleft palate. This is going well... OK then, next!

Where Lefty had been behaved, Righty wasnt.. Baby had decided to curl up right behind my right hip bone, making it very difficult for the sonographer to see anything she needed to. Cue some rather awkward gymnastics on my part. First of all the bed was tipped up to try and get baby to come out of hiding, a procedure which only resulted in me feeling as though I was about to slide off the bed and end up in an upside down crumpled heap behind the scanner. This was followed by 'just turn onto your left side' said the sonographer. Sounds easy, but being tipped head down at a rather worrying angle and then trying to turn onto your left side while someone is attached to you is not that easy. Factor in that your clothes are either bunched around your boobs or about to display all your modesty to the room (or most likely both at the same time) and you're covered in slimy gel which gets everywhere, suddenly a simple manoeuvre becomes anything but simple! Anyway, after all that, baby moved enough (on their terms) for the necessary measurements to be taken and logged. Repeat the sigh of relief, and relax. All is good. Both babies are growing well, both well within the guideline measurements expected for 20wk foetus/foetuses/foeti?? Whatever, they are where they should be which is very reassuring.

The last pic shows the size differences from 12 - 20 wks, with 20wks on the left and 12wks on the right. The centre pic is from 16wks.

Our next scan is booked for 4 Feb, it seems so far away! SInce 12 weeks we've been scanned every four weeks so having to wait eight weeks between the 20 and 28 wk scans seems like a lifetime. The next milestone is on 5 Jan: Viability Day, the day from which the twins stand a chance of survival if they are born early; every day after 5 Jan is a day in their favour. Hopefully they will stay put until at least the end of March. After that I may be begging the consultant to take them out!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Antenatal Classes

Saturday 4 december was 'A' day - Antenatal Class Day. The day when we would (hopefully) learn some of the skills desperately needed for looking after two babies at the same time. We had booked our places about 6 weeks before, through TAMBA (the twins and multiple births association) as this would mean the class would be tailored to the needs of parents having twins and more. The class was being held in a community centre buried deep in Sutton Coldfield, so our first task of the day was to find out which station was nearest, not as straightforward as it sounds.. The map we were sent had obviously been devised on the basis that the postcode was Sutton Coldfield, and therefore Sutton Coldfield station would be the nearest. Not so dear reader. Jump two stations further up the track from SC and you find yourself at Butlers Lane station, which confusingly isnt on Butlers Lane... (memo to self, be more specific when giving directions to the taxi driver). Butlers Lane station, being 2 stops closer to Lichfield than SC is makes it a lot cheaper to get to. We arrived at our station of choice to find our taxi waiting (its good when that happens) and 10 minutes later we were at the community centre. So far so good.

There were seven couples on the course, which was being run by a local midwife. The chairs had been placed in a horseshoe arrangement with the midwife's chair at the 'open' end of the horseshoe. The room reminded me of the seminar rooms we used at univeristy; rather sickly green paint on the walls, institutional looking hardwearing easy-clean carpet, heating up full blast. When we arrived there was only one other couple there, we did the 'hi how are you' bit and sat ourselves down with two seats in between us and them (nothing personal, its just the British way isnt it?). As three more couples joined us they too all sat down leaving two chairs between themselves and those already seated. We were all there for the same reason but it seemed as though no-one wanted to get too close incase they 'caught' twins too..... Eventually all the seats were occupied by nervous-looking dads to be and mums to be with bumps of all shapes and sizes, ranging from 19 weeks (me) up to 33 weeks. I must admit I felt quite teeny in bumpage in comparison. Im sure it wont be long however until I have my very own gravitational field.

We began with the inevitable 'lets all introduce ourselves and tell the group a bit about ourselves' but I guess it broke the ice a little (or maybe that was the rain which was pouring down outside by this point). We learned that five of the couples had gone through IVF to conceive, a few of them for scary numbers of years, which made me feel a little guilty if I'm honest. It had taken us just three months to do naturally something which had taken twelve years, thousands of pounds and incalculable amounts of heartache and agony for them to achieve. It made us feel incredibly humble, and also made us realise that we shouldnt take any of this for granted. Every day they got through was a huge milestone, and one day closer to meeting their longed for children, whereas for us it was just a day closer to our next scan. We all shared a fear of something going wrong, but if something did happen, god forbid, we at least will have the chance and hope of conceiving again, I cannot even begin to comprehend how I/we would feel if we had waited for years and years for a child, only for the unthinkable to happen.

The rest of the course consisted of questions and answers mostly, such as how to feed two babies together, how to settle two babies, signs of labour, the general things people associate with antenatal classes. The first-timers also had a crash course in nappy changing; P got a nappy with mustard in to represent the nappy of a 3-5 day old infant. Nice! We finished just after 4pm, feeling rather overloaded with information, and also rather warm so it was quite pleasant to find ourselves having to wait for our taxi outside in the rain. We made it back to the station, and discovered none of the timetable boards were working. Fortunately we only had to wait about ten minutes for the train, and we were back in Lichfield just before 5pm. Im not totally sure whether the £139 was well spent, a lot of the info I had read on the internet but P found it useful so I suppose it was worth it. And it was great to talk to other couples who are in the same boat as us. One of the couples we learned live just down the road from us, are due two weeks before us and will be delivering at the same hospital as us so we may see them there!

The next appointment in the diary is wednesday 8 december, when we shall head to Burton again for our 20week anomaly scan. Finger crossed they're ok in there..