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Finding The Happy

Looking for joy in all the right places

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Crossing the line

Was just updating my Yummy Mummy gift ideas page, when I came across…

Fake pregnancy test

The sales site had a spruik about the product, and I think it’s almost as insane as the gag itself:

It’s the home pregnancy test that is always positive! Ladies, now you can find out if you’ve found Mr. Right with this hilarious prank! Will he stick with you if he thinks things will get complicated? This outrageous prank will have your guy sweating! Or sleep with your married boss and watch him squirm (Maybe you’ll get a raise!) The laughs are endless!

Yuh. Not making it to my gift list.

Pregnancy mythbusters

I was having lunch with a colleague who, like me, hails from Southeast Asia and thus has the happy conundrum of being saddled with two versions of everything. And when it comes to pregnancy superstition and “do-this-or-else…”, the East has always excelled in scaring the daylights out of poor hapless n00b moms… but the West can hold their own in this department, too.

There are heaps, HEAPS out there and I’m sure it depends on generation and upbringing, but here’s a choice pick from both my worlds.

1. Avoid soft cheeses because of the risk of listeria

Two things seem to be linked to the harbouring of listeria in soft cheeses: pasteurisation and how the cheese is ripened. White mould cheese, such as brie and camembert (yum), are surface ripened, and their near neutral PH value and high moisture content make them that extra conducive for the listeria bacteria to grow.

The thing is, Australian law likes its milk and cheese pasteurised. And listeria, like love, is all around us anyway. We are already exposed to the bacteria whether we like it or not because it’s in the environment. Yes, pregnant women are at risk – but the risk is low, especially in Australia. In 2006, only 61 cases of listeriosis were registered with the Department of Health and only 8 were cases where a mother and baby were infected. And we don’t know that soft cheese was the culprit either, since there are many ways you can get exposed to listeria

BTW, if you’re suffering from leg cramps (especially with your calf muscles), it’s likely due to a lack of calcium. And that’s far more common a symptom in pregnant women than listeria.

So get some perspective, and if you’re still wiggy about it, nuke the little buggers by having your soft cheese piping hot and runny. Yummm… 

2. Don’t bathe or wash your hair during your confinement

The logic goes that if you bathe or wash your hair during confinement, ‘wind’ will enter your body and you can get rheumatism, among other ills.

You have GOT to grow up in a Chinese household to understand the concept of “heat”, “cool” and “wind” to not look at me like I’m talking about breathing in someone else’s farts.

BTW, I’m not talking a couple of days after the birth, or even a week. Some households have the no-hairwash limit at 12 days, and the no-bath limit at 40!

Fact: if you want to be a yummy mummy, then smell like one. And let’s not even get into stating the obvious, like good personal hygiene and the reduced risk of skin and wound infection.

3. If you eat sushi, you are basically a baby killer

Okay, first of all, sushi ≠sashimi. And fat, happy, pregnant Japanese women still have sashimi because man, the fish oil is great for baby. If you believe Dr Phil, Omega 3 fats

enhance the development of the baby’s brain, improve the baby’s IQ, make the baby a better sleeper after birth, prevent premature contractions and premature labor, prevent high blood pressure during pregnancy, and act as an anti-inflammatory that prevent infection.

But yes, we also have to think about mercury levels and other contaminants. So do a bit of sleuthing and figure out which fish is safer. The rule of thumb seems to be young, fresh white fish and canned light tuna. Basically, young white fish good, big old sea-going fish bad.

As for me, because I can’t attest to the refrigeration standards of soi disant local sushi chefs, I’ve decided to avoid the raw anything – mostly because it’d be horrible to deal with pregnancy AND salmonella at the same time. But I miss it like a fat kid misses cake.

4. Don’t watch scary movies when you’re pregnant

Another Eastern gem. Basically, stay clear of horror flicks as you might scare the baby witless.

And just to prove how deeply embedded this superstition is among certain folks, apparently some Chinese horror flicks place the following disclaimer before running:

Important to NOTE: this movie is not suitable for expecting mothers.

I think the myth speaks for itself, but I just had to add this one in because the movie bit was priceless. I say this with much affection for Chinese ghost stories. They are usually funnier than they are scary. Except for Ring. That was just insiduously freaky. But then again, it was Japanese.  

BTW, Tony and I have been completely blowing this one as we’ve been catching up on Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the last 3 weeks. It’s our stay-home dinner date and I wouldn’t miss the excuse to snuggle up with him even for Blob.

5. Don’t eat spicy foods as you will induce premature childbirth

Pffft. My comeback to that: India and China’s populations. ‘Nuff said.

6. Ginger and liquor keep the body’s vigour

Again with the wind. And please don’t take this as evidence of my knocking the “wind” theory in Asia. It does sometimes work and besides – the food that forms part of the remedy can be SO yum.

Basically, Singapore Chinese confinement foods include lots of ginger and sesame oil to deal with excess gas, and alcohol to promote better blood circulation. I’ve actually tasted confinement food, and some of it is just sublime. Possibly because some dishes are fattening beyond belief. But I digress.

However, the bit about the liquor especially flies in the fact of Western thinking and I have to agree with my Western counterparts on this one. If you’re breastfeeding, then getting liquored up isn’t great for bub. Then again, alcohol burns up when heated in foods, so I’m not sure cooking with it is so terrible after all.

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Heaps more to talk about of course, but I’ll stop here. I’m not a nutritionist or some pregnancy guru, so check these out for yourself and form your own opinion. I wanted to do this exercise so that I could know my own mind. After this, whether I choose to comply with the myths “just in case”, or to keep the peace with the older generation for my own sanity, remains a subject entirely separate.

Gender candor

Lots of thoughts swirling around the head today, particularly after I heard about someone’s near death-at-childbirth, and subsequent hysterectomy. She’s only young, too.

It got me thinking about lots of things, like unconditional love, and family planning, and the futility of thinking we can ever  plan anything, really. It also got me thinking about the sex of Blob. I keep trying to imagine Future Offspring as either a boy or a girl and I don’t feel crazy-hopeful about one over the other. Most pregnant women I’ve met seem to really root for having their first be a girl rather than a boy, although they’re invariably pleased anyway if it turns out the other way around. But I’ve been trying to figure out if I cared deeply either way, and I really think I don’t. Not yet, anyway.

Right now, I’d just be thankful if Blob makes it past week 12.

And that I’d be alive to meet him or her.

Ectopic Phobic

In light of last night’s stabby surprise, I awoke this morning with a yuck cold, a whoozy head, and some level of determination to see the doctor about those tests I did last Monday and to quiz him about ’em weird cramps every time I sneeze.

Which, when you have a cold coupled with a genetic idiosyncrasy of sneezing in multiples of 3, happens more often than you would like.

So I see my lovely GP, who immediately makes a few calls and send me on my way to the ultrasound people about 3 doors down.

Complication: my mother’s in town, of course. And she’s under the impression that I’m here to see the doctor about the common cold. As I sneak out of my GP’s, my mother is standing outside Vinnies playing with her mobile. Vinnies is just 2 doors down from where I now need to be. If she looks up and sees that I’m about to slip into a clinic marked “X-rays and Ultrasounds Here!!!” (or something equally obvious), it just might raise a few too many confronting questions. It’s bizarre, but I’m telling myself that I can pull this off if I can juuuuust slip into the clinic unnoticed.

Thank goodness I’m wearing a pair of Skechers instead of my usual heels. I slip in like a cat with tiny bunny slippers on.

It’s 12.45pm and they tell me to drink 600ml of water and then to “hold it at all costs” until the ultrasound at 1.30pm, because they need my bladder to be full. I’ve just had a bowl of home-made Chinese soup, so I’m thinking I’m about halfway there, but in the spirit of not doing anything half-arsed, I nip out and get a 750ml bottle of skyjuice, slip back into the clinic, and drink about 700ml of it.

This is fine until about 1.15pm, when I feel like I’d really like to use the amenities. But I persevere.

1.30pm, and the receptionists are farfing around with a rather confused lady who got her dates mixed up, and an elderly couple who insist on reading out all the news highlights rotating on screen. I need to pee like you wouldn’t believe.

1.33pm, and I’m looking at the clock and wondering desperately what my options were if I were to wet myself. Perhaps there was another ultrasound clinic in Sydney I could use in future. A chain, wholly unaffiliated to this lot who will no doubt, after this episode, refer to me as The Bad Mother Who Couldn’t Hold It At All Costs.

1.37pm, and I waddle – waddle! – in pain to the receptionist, glare at the poor guy (“squinting in pain”, I prefer to think of it) and hiss at him in low, clipped tones, “When will the doctor be ready, because I can tell you that I am REALLY uncomfortable here.”

He tells me that they’re preparing the room now. I waddle back to my seat and try not to make any sudden moves.

Anyhoo, long story short – turns out I didn’t need to drink that much water. I also found I have fantastic bladder control, judging from the first “OMIGOODNESS HOW FULL IS YOUR BLADDER!” comment I received when the first picture’s taken. It’s such a cruel joke, methinks, to tell a n00b pregnant woman to drink lots of fluids and then NOT PEE. As if it’s not hard enough that my bladder seems to have shrunk by 50% in the last week.

But the ultrasound begins, and all is forgiven. For lo and behold – there’s blob!

Line across shows length of Blob. Ring underneath is egg sac from which Blob is feeding off until placenta is formed. Fearfully and wonderfully made.

 

“That flicker of light on screen?” the technician tells me as she waves the wand around. I notice some pixellation at the top of Blob, just where the sac is attached to the uterus. “That’s the heart beat.”

Six weeks, 0.43cm and a heart beat. Already.

My mother knows now. There’s no way of hiding it, not when I have to wait for the results at 4.30pm, drop off another wee sample, and hike back to the GP’s before 5.00pm. She is over the moon of course, but I tell her to tell no one. Then we run off to Big W and buy a swag of books.

So it’s confirmed – no ectopic pregnancy, even though it’s not cool that I’m getting stabby sensations now and then. I get to take today and tomorrow off, and meanwhile we’re dealing with letting the cat out of the bag very quietly. Tony’s just sent a cryptic email to his parents and attached the photo. Methinks they’ll be calling pret-ty soon…

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