Tuesday, 31 January 2012

My New Toy

I totally won a Kindle!
Remember this post? Well, the kind people at Thomas Cook decided that my post was a winner.

Just a few days ago, I got my new toy in the mail and I'm already putting it to use.  Ross has declared that it looks more magical than an iPad, because of the E Ink.  I turned on my shiny Kindle and was faced with a dilemma.  (A minor one, sure... but a dilemma nonetheless)  It asked me to select what language I'd like my Kindle to be in.  The automatically highlighted choice was "English (US)".  Just below, was the option "English (UK)".  I wavered for a moment... unsure which to select.  After just a brief hesitation I moved the cursor down (ok, I actually jabbed at the screen with my finger until I realised it wasn't a touch screen and THEN used the arrow button to scroll down) and selected "English (UK)".  I figured I live here, so my Kindle should be in the language of my adopted country.  Also... Ross pointed out that I might have trouble with the system if I didn't say UK, since I'd be using Amazon.co.uk and not .com.   But, really, I'd already decided before he told me that.  I wondered if this decision was a true sign of me fully adopting my new country.  (I don't think it was anything that profound.  I really like living here and feel quite at home and have for some time!)  But the thought was still there.

I've already downloaded several free books (and even finished reading one) and am really enjoying the Kindle.  I think the one-handed reading will come in handy during feedings and comforting sessions!

Have you had any small decisions that indicated that you'd fully adopted your new home country?
Have you hesitated and put way more thought than necessary into options to pick for something relatively insignificant?
Does anyone know why some Kindle books are SOOO expensive?  (Seriously... It's only a download!)

Monday, 30 January 2012

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Word of the Week


(is what I'd proudly declare as a 5 year old)

Definition:  An accessory worn for either fashion or political reasons, adorned with images or words, generally affixed to clothing or bags via a pin on the back
Used in a sentence:  At TGI Fridays, they used to call buttonbadges that they wore as part of the unifore "pieces of flare".

Friday, 27 January 2012

I was going to post something today...


You guys!  I started reading HypnoBirthing:  The Mongan Method.

I told you we ordered it... well it came today and it's totally fascinating!!  I just finished reading the section on why labour came to be seen as a scary/painful thing and it makes so much sense.  

So far, I'm seriously drinking the Koolaid.  I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Term of endearment

Lately, I've been hearing something that strikes me as strange.  It's not a new thing to hear, but there were two different instances tonight that brought it to the forefront of my mind.  It's to do with a term of endearment that I've heard bandied about quite a bit here in England.

We went to our third week of Birth Classes tonight.  (We covered that I might be emotional and Ross should try to help out.  For nearly 2 hours.... well worth it...)   The class was led by two women who work at two separate area Children's Centres.  They seemed to know each other, but not particularly well.  One of the women referred to the other as "my love" for the entire evening.  As in- "Have you seen the handouts on What to Take to the Hospital, my love?"  I can't imagine giving a presentation with my co-worker at my old job and referring to her as "my love"- and we were very good friends.  She was even a bridesmaid in my wedding!  But "my love"?  She's not "my love".  And I'm pretty sure the woman in question was not the "love" of the other woman either...

After the class, we went to get dinner at Pizza Express.  (Two for one deals with the Taste Card rock!)  The waitress referred to each of us as her love!  "Here's your pizza, my love."  "Can I get you anything else, my love?"  "Let me get the bill for you, my love."  I'm not her love!  And unless Ross has some serious explaining to do, he isn't either.  One of the baristas at our Starbucks does it too, but for some reason it doesn't bother me quite so much.  Perhaps because we are regular customers, so we have some sort of relationship at least.

Now, I've had some exposure to this term of endearment in the past.  My grandmother will refer to me as "my love".  I've heard her use it when talking to other family members as well.  Her children and grandchildren.  This makes sense to me.  We are all related after all.  Ostensibly, she does in fact love us.  We are from her loins, either directly or once removed... thus the possessive.  I call Ross "my love".  I'm allowed.  He is my husband and I love him!

It's not uncommon for men to refer to women, even strangers as "love".  Without the my.  As in "Calm down, love" or "What can I do for you, love?"  For some reason, this seems more endearing to me.    I know some women find this demeaning or offensive, and I can imagine a scenario in which is would be patronizing or irritating.  Most times I've heard it though, it comes across as sweet and jocular.  Like a grandpa being sweet.  I guess that makes me some form of sexist.  Maybe it's the "my" that makes the difference.

What do you think of the use of "my love" as a form of address from a stranger or in a work setting?
What terms of endearment do you use generically?  (In Texas, it's not uncommon to call a woman "sweetie" or "sweetheart".)

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Pain Relief Options- The Natural Way

I already walked y'all through the options for medical pain relief available to a woman giving birth in the UK.  In today's post, I thought I'd let you know about the natural methods that are around, and which ones I'm hoping to use.

1.  Birth pool-  A deep tub of water that the labouring mother can get in.

    Women are able to either just labour in the birth pool, or even stay in for the birth itself.  This method is supposedly available in the hospital, though they seem less open to using them and I think they are the blow-up style.  In the Birth Centre, their use seems to be very encouraged and two of the four rooms have big fancy tubs like the one pictured above.  (At least one of those rooms also has a twinkly starlight ceiling like the one we had at our reception venue!)  If your home can handle a birth pool, they will deliver one to your residence is you are having a home birth.  The water is kept at body temperature and it is supposed to be really relaxing to be submerged in the water.
   I'm not into the idea of actually giving birth in the tub, but I'm all for labouring in it!  I was joking (mostly) with a friend that I'll kick someone out of a room to get the fancy birth suite with the giant tub and sparkly ceiling.  I think it will be really helpful to maintain my zen.

2.  Massage- rubbing of the muscles by birth partner or midwife

     Massage can be done with hands, tennis balls, and other implements.  I even read somewhere about using a rolling pin or a frozen water bottle.  I've heard that the helpfulness of massage varies through out labour- sometimes I might not want to be touched at all and others I might want to be practically pummelled.  
     I am slightly worried about Ross being able to keep up a level of pressure that I find helpful if I get to the "pummelling" stage, but I hear the midwives will step in and help with this as well.  I anticipate this method being very helpful to me as I LOVE being rubbed.  Ross is actually really good at finding pressure points and rubbing in little soothing ways.

3.  TENS Machine- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation sends and electrical current into your back via wires and pads.

     You can purchase a TENS machine from any number of places, including Boots and Amazon, and use it in any of the settings.  They are supposed to be most helpful during the first stage of labour.  They are adjustable to deliver different levels of current, depending on your desires.
     I don't really have any desire to purchase one of these, mostly because they aren't supposed to be very helpful after the earlier stages.  Frankly, I'm not overly concerned about earlier on and don't want to spend money on something that won't be useful when it gets really hard.

4.  Aromatherapy- the use of essential oils/scents to calm the mother

     Did you know that some NHS hospitals actually offer professional aromatherapy services to labouring women?  Ours isn't one of them, so if we want aromatherapy it's up to us to provide it.  I figure having some essential oils, such as lavender, jasmine, neroli, and rose, on hand can't hurt.  (Bonus- Lavender is also supposed to be great for healing scar tissue... so it could come in handy after the birth)

5.  Hypnobirthing-  The use of hypnosis during childbirth.

     This method can be used in any setting by a mother who has done her homework.  Hypnobirthing should be practised in the final week of pregnancy.  There are various methods and schools of hypnobirthing and parents can educate themselves either through the use of books with CDs or by taking workshops.  The theory of hynobirthing seems to be of helping the mom zone out of (or perhaps into) her body during labor.  By getting your self-hypnosis on in a relaxed state, the anxiety and pain of labour are supposed to be made much more manageable.  There's a heavy focus on breathing and visualization.
     I'm totally intrigued by this and have heard great things.  Our midwives said mothers who have used this method seem to have really nice labours.  Ross and I have ordered our book and CD, so I'll let you know how it goes!

There are a handful of other techniques such as high-pressure water flow (like under a shower), heat packs, acupuncture, and changing positions (I'll probably cover this after I've been to the Active Birthing class).  

What non-medical interventions did you find helpful when giving birth?
Do you plan to go all wacky and hippy when you have a baby, like I apparently am?

Monday, 23 January 2012

The Other Adele

I'm sure you're all familiar with a singer named Adele.  She's got some catchy songs and I think that her latest album could end up doing well... I mean I'm no expert....

But there's another Adele whose music I'm digging on lately.  Emeli Sande has been forced to use her middle name due to the success of the other Adele.  I have to say, I really like the soulful jam of this song.  I love the simple arrangement and as one half of a couple that loves to spend almost all our time together, the lyrics hit home.

Any new music out there that you are really feeling?

Sunday, 22 January 2012

An inconvenient trip

Back in July of 2008, I was stressed.  I'd made plans to attend an improv comedy conference in Portland, Oregon earlier in the year.  I also found myself moving into a new apartment.  The move was scheduled for the day after I returned home from the conference.  I was still sort of looking forward to the trip, but the move was taking the majority of my attention.  I'd packed all my things prior to leaving, and headed to Portland without any expectations of what would happen there.  I told myself that the trip was going to be an inconvenience and that if I'd known I would be moving, I wouldn't have gone.  Little did I know, it was the most important trip I'd ever take.

The conference turned out to be really fun.  It was a great stress reliever and I had a good time.  I mean, what else can you expect from a conference full of improvisational comedians?!  As the week went on, I met lots of people.  I met people who were outrageously funny, completely irritating, totally fascinating, and then some that didn't catch my attention at all.

The last night of the conference, whilst standing in an alley, one of those people that hadn't caught my attention leaned in for a quick kiss.  I pulled back, embarrassed to be caught unaware.  Smooched by a stranger in public!  This stranger and I went for a walk around downtown Portland.  We awkwardly made our way in loops and circles in a town unfamiliar to us both.  I'm not sure if we held hands.  I know we talked.  And talked.  And talked.  We talked about his life back in England.   The big things: that his sister and parents were dead.  The little things:  he spoke French and a bit of Italian.  I told him about my life in Dallas, my family and job and other stuff I don't really remember that was just chatter to fill the air.  We walked and talked for what seemed like hours.  I knew when we stopped we'd kiss again and I was so nervous that I both couldn't wait and was trying to prolong it as much as possible.

Eventually we did kiss.  And, oh those kisses!  Those kisses were filled with magic.

The next morning, this British stranger came back to my hotel room and took me for coffee at Starbucks.  I had a Chai Tea Latte.  He had a black coffee.  We talked some more.  I told him that I made a really killer Chicken Pot Pie, not knowing he was a vegetarian.  He asked me to go back to Manchester with him that very day.  I laughed and declined, thinking I'd never see him again.  He gave me his card and kissed me goodbye when my ride to the airport showed up.

As I buckled my seat belt to fly back to Dallas and move to a new apartment, a text message came through on my phone.  This stranger had been very sneaky!  The message said how much he'd enjoyed meeting me.  I smiled a big, cheesy grin.  I thought how much fun my little romance had been.  I still thought I'd never see him again.

Today, that stranger is sitting at our dining table doing some work.  I'm sitting on our couch with pictures from our wedding on the wall behind me.  I'm supposed to be resting because I'm about 6 weeks away from bringing our first child into the world.  This man is not a stranger any more.  And he's certainly caught my attention now.

And all because I took a trip that was highly inconvenient.

This post is an entry into Thomas Cook's "Write and Win a Kindle" Contest.  If you'd like to enter, you can too!
(But do it quick because the contest ends today...)

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Word of the Week


Definition: (OK, so I'm sorta cheating because these aren't EXACTLY the same, but are rough equivalents)  A candy bar consisting of coconut covered in chocolate.
Used in a sentence:  A dark chocolate MoundsBounty is Ross' candy bar of choice!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Pain Relief Options

Last night, Ross and I attended our second birth preparation class and it was SOOO much better than the first.  Hooray!  Our midwife, Mandy, was there to help out (which was a factor in the improvement, but not the only reason).  The midwife who led last week was still in charge, but seemed more relaxed and confident.  There was also a LOT more content covered and we learned several useful pieces of information.

The topics we covered were pain relief options, final stages of labor, and after care.  I figured I'd break it up into a couple of posts because there is so much to tell you.  Here are the pain relief options available to women giving birth in the UK.  (I'm going to talk a big game about my ideals and desires for a natural birth, which may come back to bite me later... so enjoy!)

Pain Relief Options:
1.  Entonox (Gas & Air)- a mix of 50% nitrous oxide and 50% oxygen

    This method of pain relief is available in all settings (home birth- they'll deliver canisters to your home!, Birth Centre, or Hospital).  Of the 4 midwives I've spoken to about it 3 were BIG fans.  The valve on the mouthpiece (pictured above) is 2-way, so you can breath in and out normally while it's in your mouth.  The midwives who were fans said that it was great to regulate breathing and calm down mothers who were freaking out.  It's completely controlled by the mother and so many women like it.
     For maximum benefit, the gas should be inhaled at the start of the contraction so that it's reached full effectiveness by the time the contraction peaks.  Apparently, some women feel nauseous or disoriented when they use this, but the good news is that it doesn't stay in your system long, so if you do feel ill you can just stop using it.
     They like to say that this method of relief doesn't affect the baby, but from what I've read it does cross the placenta- it just doesn't stay around long, so I guess they don't worry about it...  (One person in the class even tried to list "Gas & Air" under the "Natural Methods" heading of pain relief options.)  Ross found online that it can also deplete your B12, but the midwives poo-pooed that and said it would take prolonged exposure for that to be an issue.  It can also dry out your lips, mouth and throat.
   Personally, I'd rather not use this.  I'm not ruling it out completely, but it seems the biggest benefit is to calm the laboring woman down, rather than actually relieve pain.  It's my feeling that I shouldn't need meds to manage my fear/anxiety.  I should be able to stay calm through other methods.  (But I make no promises or guarantees and reserve the right to change my mind once I'm actually in pain!)

2.  Pethidine/Diamorphine-  an injection, delivered into the hip/butt of one of these two opioid drugs

    This method of pain relief is available in both the Birth Centre and Hospital settings, as it can be administered by a midwife.  The midwives seemed to be doing that thing where they had to tell you about all the options, but weren't really fans of this one.  They didn't say anything specific, but Ross and I both got that feeling.  Women can get this shot multiple times, but the first 2 don't need a prescription so it's harder to get 3 or more.  The midwives did say that most women only need one shot, so that isn't too much of an issue.
    Pethidine isn't used as frequently any more because it seemed to affect the babies more and could make women feel ill.  (In fact, it's automatically mixed with an anti-emetic for injection because of this.)  Diamorphine does still cross the placenta, but they said it doesn't seem to make the baby as sluggish.  
    This options makes me nervous because it is an opioid- which seems fairly hard core.  The fact that it would be in our baby's system is an even bigger deterrent for me.  Ross has had some fairly extreme reactions to medications in his past, so the idea that baby might genetically be pre-disposed to react makes me VERY uncomfortable.  For some reason, I feel like this is the method I'm least likely to use.

3.  Epidural- drugs delivered via a catheter into the spine

    This method is only available in the Hospital setting and must be delivered by an anaesthetist.  The midwives said that at North Manchester General (where I would be) only has registrar level anaesthetists give these.  I still don't really understand the British levels-of-doctors system, but a Registrar is a senior doctor.  The midwives said that a good epidural should stop the pain, but leave you able to feel the contractions and have some lower half mobility.  There is a port where they can "top up" the epidural as time goes on.
    The epidural does cross the placenta to the baby, but there are mixed reports on what effect this has on the baby.  The midwives said that they'd have a hard time discouraging a woman from an epidural if she was having a really long, arduous labor or had to be induced with pitocin.  
     I'm really hoping to avoid an epidural, but- never say never!

This has gotten really long, so I'll leave it there.  Next time, I'll cover all those "Natural Methods"- especially the ones that I'm hoping to use to avoid all the stuff I talked about above.

Were any of those news to you?  (They were to me!)
What kind of pain relief did you go for?

Thursday, 19 January 2012


Whilst watching our favourite soap a few weeks ago, I noticed something...

Sophie and Rosie Webster were having a discussion regarding the state of their parents failing marriage.  I think Sophie was angry about her father breaking up her lesbian wedding at the altar by implying that she didn't want to go through with it just before the vows.  (These British soaps are very high minded!)

Sophie kept referring to her parents as "my mum" and "my dad", even though she was talking to her sister.  It hit my ear strangely.  I noticed this also applied when Sophie was talking to her mom about her dad.  She kept calling him "my dad".  There's also a use of "my sister" when talking to parents, rather than using her name.  Which to me... If I said "Matt" to my parents, they know who he is... he's my brother, their son.  

I can't imagine talking to my brother about our parents and including the "my".  I mean, we have the same parents, so he knows who I mean when I say "mom" or "dad".  I realized that, even when talking to Ross, I don't include the "my".  If I'm calling someone "mom", the "my" is implied in my world.  Does that make sense?  I mean who else would Ross think I was talking about?  

I asked Ross about this and he thought for a second and said he would have included the "my" when talking to his sister about his parents or to one parent about another.  I would never do it in talking to family about family, but if I was talking about family to a friend, I'd be much more likely to use the "my".  

Ross wasn't sure if this was solely a northern thing, or a British thing (but said probably a northern...).  I don't think either way is "right", but it's a weird little cultural difference, isn't it?  I love these tiny differences that hit your ear because they're not quite what your used to.

What do you think?
Do you include the "my" or is it implicit?
Do you use it with some audiences, but not with others?

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Makes me giggle

Today, in honour of my Dad's birthday (Happy Birthday, old man!) I'm going to share with you a video.  I love making my dad laugh.  He's got a great sense of humour, but many people don't realize it because he's pretty quiet by nature.  He gets this twinkle in his eyes and usually leans back in his chair and tries to suppress his laugh by putting a hand over his mouth.  It's one of the great feelings known to man to achieve an actual, audible laugh from him.

I don't keep up with Saturday Night Live these days and there isn't really an equivalent here in the UK.  A friend of mine brought this little sketch to my attention.  We used to work together and had some experiences with younger employees in the office and their lack of world experience and this reminded her of those times.  I giggled a lot and I hope you do to.

In honour of my dad, I request that you lean back and put a hand across your mouth if you do feel a laugh escaping.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Sugar and Satan

Last week, I went for my Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT) at the hospital.  The test was at the same hospital where I had my ultrasounds and where I will eventually deliver.  The thing I don't understand, though, is that the scans took place in the Antenatal Ward, the GTT was in the brand new Maternity Assessment Unit, and the birth will take place in the brand new Birth Centre (or, possibly, the Maternity Ward).  Yes, these are all 3 different places (the Maternity Ward/Birth Centre is pretty much the same location) in one hospital.  I'm not quite clear on what the Maternity Assessment Unit is actually for or what they do, other than GTTs.  It all seems like it would be better if it was centralized in one "Baby Stuff" (technical term) unit, housed in a single large space... But what do I know, eh?

**Blah blah blah, long ramble about how inefficient things are and how irritated I was DELETED (You're welcome.)**

From what I know, in the US you get screened via this blood draw/glucose drink/wait/blood draw method as "Step 1".  If you fail that test, you then go on to take a 3 hour definitive test.  In the UK, however, you do the blood draw/glucose drink/wait/blood draw test and that's it, but the wait is 2 hours versus 1.  I'm not sure why there is this difference.  Ross thought the whole thing was highly strange and asked why gestational diabetes is diagnosed in this manner, rather than the way regular diabetes is diagnosed (with a blood test).  It does seem unnecessarily cruel to the system.  Anybody know?

The best part of the test was the two ladies that Ross and I were waiting with between my 2 blood draws.  As we waited our 2 hours, there was a woman who was a few minutes ahead of me.  She was joined by her sister, also pregnant, in the waiting room.  We got to chatting and had a very nice conversation revolving around:
-How I sound like one of them contestants off X Factor in America!
-How they'd love to visit America, because of all the theme parks!
-How the sister not being tested was due Friday the 13th, but would be crossing her legs to keep him from coming out because she "didn't want a devil baby".
It sure helped pass the time and Ross and I have had many giggles over it since then.  We wonder if she had the devil baby, but haven't seen anything on the news...

After the test was over, Ross and I headed to the Trafford Centre to get some lunch and buy some coffee for Ross' fancy coffee maker.  I cockily thought "That wasn't so bad!  I don't know what all those women were complaining about!  I haven't felt any sugar rush or crash!"  Then I fell asleep in the car.  Then I woke up and broke into a flop sweat that soaked my shirt and hair.  Gross!  I was shaky and weak.  Ross tried to rub my neck to make me feel better and realized I hadn't been lying about being sweaty.

Luckily, we made our way to the food court and I was saved by ingesting a burrito from Bar Burrito (the UK's lame attempt at Chipotle).  The combo of beans, chicken, and rice (plus pico de gallo, sour cream, cheese and lettuce) was enough to flood my system with relief.  Then we went home and I took a 4 hour nap and skipped aqua aerobics.

So the moral of the story is:  When I make dumb proclamations about how easy stuff is, it bites me in the backside.  (Does it work in reverse?  If so, I think childbirth is going to be really really hard and awful...)

Did you have a bad reaction to your GTT?
Have you ever been knocked off your high horse?
Any funny waiting room stories?

P.S.  I was told that I'd get a call later that afternoon or the next day if I tested positive.  No one has called, so I guess I'm in the clear!  Huzzah!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Cheerful Sunday

A nice warm bubble bath with me, the bump, and Sparkle Ducky is very cheerful indeed!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Word of the Week


Definition: An accessory connected to ones trousers and going up over ones shoulders, generally made of an elasticated material
Used in a sentence:  I used to work as a waitress at Copeland's of New Orleans and I can tell you for a fact that big boobs and suspenderbraces are an awkward combo.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Today I declare (a very small) victory

Last night, Ross and I went to the first of our 4 birthing classes.  It wasn't great.  It was lead by the head midwife from our area*, lasted an hour and a half and was scattered and not engaging.  We did learn the following helpful information:

(WARNING:  Gross bodily fluid talk ahead)

1.  When your waters (they use the plural here... weird, huh?) breaks, put on a pad for an hour, then call the hospital.  They hospital will want you to describe the color and odor of your waters and this is the best way to do it.  VERY HELPFUL TO KNOW!
2.  Squatting on a birthing ball during labor can open up your pelvis a LOT.  I think she said an additional 28%, but Ross and I thought this sounded made up or impossible.  GOOD TO KNOW!
3.  In the final weeks of pregnancy, don't lay back lounging on the couch.   Sit backwards on a chair instead, as this encourages the baby to get into optimal positioning.  USEFUL INFO!

I think that's about it, as far as new information goes.  Now if I'd been presenting the class** I would have presented things thusly:
1. Survey the audience:  Who here is having their first baby?  Who here is planning to have a natural birth/epidural/c-section?  Anyone having multiples?
2. Here are some helpful things you can do in the last weeks of your pregnancy to prepare for labor.  (Including #3 above).
3. What to expect when you actually do go into labor.  When should you call (including #1 above), how long should you stay at home before coming in, etc.  She covered information that I already knew about how long it takes to dialate and the stags of early labor that I'd include here.
4. What should you bring to the hospital with you?  What is provided by the hospital and what do you need to provide?  What do most women wear during labor? (Sounds silly, but this question did get asked and I think most women do wonder about it.)
5. What to expect next... later stages of labor, birth positions, etc.

That would take us up to about the same point, but see how I did it in a timeline order?  See how it was easy to follow and intuitive.  She how I am made calmer by things being presented in a way that walks me through what will probably actually happen, rather than just having things randomly thrown in amongst unrelated anecdotes?  I can't be the only one... Dear NHS, I'm available for consultation and training.  I have reasonable rates and am an excellent public speaker.  Kisses, Meg

At the end of the class, was the cherry on the cake.  We found out that the Breastfeeding and Active Birth Classes are separate from these 4 courses, and were told to sign up for them by calling 2 different area Children's Centres.  This was very important information to me.  Of course, it was disseminated by 3 different people all talking at once and saying different things.  So I had to go all "Loud, Bossy American" and request that they stop, slow down, and have one person say the relevant information clearly so everyone could make note.

Then, came the part of the evening that really riled me up.  They announced that husbands and partners were not welcome at the Active Birth Class.  Um, excuse me?!  The one thing that is, in my opinion, really important for Ross to know about and be able to help me with during labor and he's not allowed?!  What is this mickey mouse bullsquash!?  I was told that some women are "uncomfortable getting into different positions in front of other men".  I say those women need to suck it up or have their own special class for sissies.  I mean, you're going to be pushing a baby out of your vagina.  At some point, you've GOT to stop being precious about it.  I was told that I could teach my husband the things that I learned later on at home.  Great.  No one else seemed surprised or annoyed by this information, but I sure was.

This morning, I called the Toodle Hill Children's Centre (How great is that name?) to sign up for the Active Birth Class.  I spoke to a very nice lady and asked about whether husbands were allowed and explained what I'd been told last night.  I sortof, kindof, totallyonpurpose got her to agree with me that it was dumb (DUMB!) if they weren't allowed because they- ya know- need to know this stuff to help us during labor.  She said she'd check and call me back.  A while later she called back and let us know that men would, indeed, be allowed.  To which I declare "HA! Victory is mine!!"  Ok, perhaps the ladies last night were giving out bad info.  Or perhaps we'll get there on Jan. 27th and they'll tell us Ross can't come in.  But for now.  


*I'm sure she's an absolutely wonderful midwife who is great at delivering babies... just not so much with the teaching and giving presentations maybe...
**I also would have arranged the room entirely differently.  It was totally not conducive to a flowing/open conversation that they kept trying (and failing) to engender.  There were about 10 tables scattered around the room, each with 5 chairs.  Yep.  FIVE CHAIRS.  For a class entirely composed of expectant mothers and fathers.  Geniuses, I say.  Geniuses.  (FWIW, I would have gone with table arranged in a semi circle around the room so everyone could see each other and the leader.)

So that's my latest rant about how I'm crazy and could run things so much better than other people.  Do other people not get frustrated by/see the incompetence out there?  Or are they just more numb to it than I am?

Did you take birth classes?  Were they any good?

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

"Being Mother"

It's not often any more that Ross uses an idiom that I haven't heard before.  After more than 3 years together, I know most of his phrases- even if they required translation at first.

The other day after we'd tried to see Coriolanus (shaky cameras and lots of loud gunfire was a no-go for me and the baby, so we left after about 30 minutes), we went to Pizza Express for some dinner.  We got a garlic bread and a salad to share as a starter.  I started to divvy up the garlic bread and Ross said, "Are you being mother?"

As my mom will attest, Ross is a low talker/mumbler sometimes.  I hadn't quite caught what he said, so asked him to repeat himself.  On seeing my face, Ross said "Do you not know that phrase?"  He then explained to me that it is a (Northern) British phrase, generally used regarding pouring tea.  If someone asks "Will you be mother?" it means "Will you pour the tea?"

It is one of those utterly charming phrases that just makes me smile.  Maybe it's because I'm about to actually be a mother, but it has such a sweet feel to it.  It brings to mind images of mom dishing up food for the family, as they gather around to share a meal.

So there you go... a little British phrase for your vocabulary.
Next time we meet up, will you be mother?

What's your favourite idiom?

Monday, 9 January 2012

Bad Luck!

I've talked before about our fondness for game shows.  I've recently noticed something about quiz shows here in England.  Maybe it's just certain shows.  I can say I've noticed it on both Pointless and Eggheads as well as on the morning music quiz "Pop Master" on BBC Radio 2.

When a contestant gets an answer incorrect- even if their answer is the dumbest, most unlikely answer ever- the host will let them know that they are incorrect and then say "Oh... bad luck!"  It always strikes me as funny.  It isn't really bad luck to get the answer wrong.  Wait- that's not true.  Sometimes it is.  Like if the person was guessing between two options and chose the wrong one.

But for the most part "bad luck" just sounds like a strange response to me.  I mean, a quiz show is ostensibly about knowledge.  If you don't have the knowledge required, it isn't bad luck... it's just... bad.  Bad preparation?  Bad knowledge?  Maybe.  Bad answer!  Definitely!

It just strikes me as the host's (perhaps on order from the producer) attempt to coddle the offending player's feelings and ego.  Is this just another symptom of a society overly concerned with people not being made to feel bad about themselves?

I don't think that American quiz show hosts do this, but maybe I just didn't catch it.  Anybody out there know?

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Cheerful Sunday

Progress makes me VERY cheerful!

The nursery.  It may not look like much, but it's enough to get me smiling!

Our bedroom with a new wardrobe.
(That gap bothers me a lot more in this picture than it does in person. Yikes!)

Hope you're all having a cheerful Sunday!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Word of the Week


Definition: a handheld light source, generally powered by batteries
Used in a sentence:  Why is it that you can never find a flashlighttorch when you need one?

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Making a fuss

Lately I've been feeling a little blue about the lack of fuss that my pregnancy has, and will, receive.  Don't get me wrong.  Ross makes me feel loved all the time.  My parents and other relatives are very excited about this baby.  There are friends of mine on Facebook that "like" every pregnancy-related status update or picture I post.  I know people care.  And I appreciate that.  I REALLY do.  I guess what I really mean is (and I fully accept that this is bratty)... I won't have a baby shower.  And that bums me out.

I know some people don't like when a fuss is made over them, but I maintain that- at certain times- everyone needs a good fuss makin'.  I think when people make a fuss over you, it reminds you how loved you are.  I talked about all the love that was shown to me (and Ross) by our friends in the lead up to our wedding and on the big day itself.  That love is one of the best feelings in the world.  It's a different feeling than the love that is on constant tap from your friends and family, even your husband.  It's a special outpouring of love.  Just for you.  For a special purpose.  To celebrate your birthday.  To celebrate your wedding.  To celebrate your pregnancy.

To minimize my brattiness, it's really not about the presents.  I mean they are really nice.  And I sure hope we get some.  Because, man, babies need a lot of stuff.  Stuff that's expensive.  (Ok, so it's partly about the presents...)  It's mostly about that fuss.  The people caring enough to throw you a party.  To send out invitations and make yummy food and ooh & aah as I unwrap tiny, adorable outfits and baby gear.  I'm sure I'd be having at least 2 showers if we were in the US- one from the ladies at church and one from my girl friends and probably even a 3rd from my office.  But we're not.  So I'm throwing a tiny pity party and then getting over it.

An interesting cultural difference between the UK and the US is that they don't do baby registries and the idea of baby showers is only just starting to be known here in England.  So, even if I had made lots of friends or if Ross' female relatives were still alive, I still wouldn't be having a shower.  Apparently it's similar for wedding showers.  And they call is a "Wedding List" rather than a registry.

I guess it makes sense as a cultural difference.  My American is showing with this desire for a fuss.  It's not really a British ideal, is it?  In the land of "Keep Calm and Carry On", it seems appropriate that they wouldn't focus on shouting "Hooray!" for things like we vulgar Yanks do.  The other day, we spoke to an older woman who is a cousin (of some sort, by marriage) of Ross'.  She said that they'd love to come "view" the baby after he arrives.  I think that's the extent of the fuss I'm getting.

Do you like to have a fuss made over you?
Did anyone else miss out on a fuss because you were far away from friends and family?
If so, how did you deal?

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Hampered Pamperer

I love having a pedicure.  A good pedicure is one of the greatest joys in life.
When I was in college, I gifted my mother a her first pedicure.  I couldn't believe she'd never had one!
Afterwards, mom finally understood.  She'd never known that a pedicure is about so much more than putting nail polish on your toenails.  It's about the pampering.  The massage chair.  The exfoliating scrub/leg mask.  The removal of gross dead skin.  And most importantly, the heavenly leg and foot massage.  Pure bliss.

After hearing me wax rhapsodic about a lovely pedicure, does it surprise you to hear that I've never had one in the UK?  Yep.  I've lived here for almost 2 years and haven't indulged in one of my most favourite treats once.  I've actually had (I'm pretty sure) just one pedicure in those 2 years.  Oh my!  The tragedy of it all!

You see, that one pedicure was from a place called Isle Pedispa in Houston, Texas.  This place is totally tha shiz.  It is so good.  And that's part of the problem.  Now that I know how good it should be, I'm afraid to accept substitutes.  Isle Pedispa is a place my mom (a total convert now) found.  She's had both of her knees replaced, due to rheumatoid arthritis and so hygiene was of the utmost importance for her pedicures.  This place is meticulously clean and absolutely glorious.  The selection of "flavors" for the pedicures is extensive and, though the cost is higher than the average nail job,  it is well worth it.

It seems (from what I can tell) that most pedicures here in the UK are more just polish jobs, rather than the pampering spa experience I'm craving.  There are nail salons around (many proudly named something to do with USA or America), but frankly most of them look a bit cheap and crappy (and chavvy).  Hair salons offer pedicures, but I find them intimidating for some reason.  I know there are spas around, but.... I'm nervous.  Afraid to have a bad pedicure.  I have no idea where to get a good one in Manchester.  I don't want to waste money on an experience that disappoints me.  A real problem, I know.

I'd really love to indulge in a pedicure during the last weeks of my pregnancy.  I'm currently sporting the sad remains of a months old bright pink self-painted job.  Seriously, it's like a few chips of paint left on my big toes and that's it.  And though my ankles haven't experienced any swelling thus far, my pregnant self could sure use a nice foot rub.

Are you a pedi fan?
What's your favourite part?
So, dear readers, any tips on places to try?
Where do I go for the best pedicure in Manchester?

Monday, 2 January 2012

Making the cut

The only reason that I sometimes have the thought that I wish Ross had been right about the sex of our child is when I try to wrap my brain around the decision of whether or not to circumcise.  It is one of the issues that, the more I research, the more confused I am.  I feel like I get further away from an answer whenever I think about it.


So here are our factors:

-Ross is Jewish.  BUT he doesn't practice.  We will not be having a bris, regardless of what decision we make.
(A side story:  I was discussing the question of circumcision with my parents on the phone last night [my mom is pro; my dad offered no opinion] and mom told me that my G'ma expressed concern to her that we would be having "one of those cutting ceremonies".  My told her that it was highly unlikely.  I find it pretty funny that G'ma was so nervous that we'd be having a bris, given that I'm fairly certain she'd be disapproving at the thought of not circumcising.  I don't get why it matters to her if it was done ceremonially by a doctor [as it would be where we live], or in a hospital by a doctor.  Maybe she's picturing a shakey-handed old mohel and that makes her nervous?)

-We live in the UK.  Circumcision is not common here.  Whereas in America, it's fairly common and often considered a no-brainer of a decision (though less so these days), here the only people that routinely circumcise are the ones who do so for religious reasons.

So my initial instinct, before I even did any reading about it was: Yes.  Circumcise.  
I think all of my friends who have sons are circumcised.  
My dad and brother are circumcised.  Growing up in America, I just always assume that men are circumcised. 
My husband is circumcised.  The baby should "match" his dad, right?

But then I started thinking... Are those good reasons?  I mean "father and son" genitalia isn't on any of the must-have lists in fashion magazines this year.  And the rest of the world seems to view the US as strange in it's predisposition towards cutting.  

I asked Ross, and he's no real help.  He says he doesn't have strong feelings one way or the other.  When I said "If I left it entirely up to you, what would you do?"  He said he probably wouldn't, because why do a procedure that doesn't NEED to be done.  

So I just don't know.  I get both sides.  I really do.  I guess we need to talk to the midwife to find out what our options even are...  I'll keep you posted on what she says.

What are your thoughts on making the cut?
(And I know this topic can get heated, so please... be respectful!)

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Cheerful Sunday

Getting it in writing makes me cheerful.

Three years ago today (it was after midnight on NYE) Ross asked me to be his bride with this little slip of paper.
He makes me even more cheerful now than he did then.
(Have I mentioned I adore him!)