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Archive for October, 2009

31/40 – The Clocks Going Back

There was a time, not too long ago, when I was all in favour of the clocks going back. It meant an extra hour in bed, of course, and involved much entertaining discussion about whether the pubs would serve for an extra hour. (No, by the way, they never have and they probably never will). The week after it was good too… waking up too early, and snuggling back down under the duvet for a power snooze. (I always intended to get up and go to the gym / for a swim / into the office early, but somehow a little doze always won the day). The extra sleep, or even the illusion of it, took the edge of the descent into dark Winter.

Believe me; I have gone right off it! And I bet most people who live their lives in the shadow of a small child feel the same. All hell has broken loose chez CaTyn this week because of a measly 60 minutes extra in the small hours of last Sunday morning. The toddler has always been an early riser – the husband and I know this is the price we have to pay for getting her into her cot in time for us to have dinner in peace. But there’s early, and then there is just plain inhumane. Toddlers don’t do hour changes, they don’t do explanations of hour changes, and they certainly don’t snuggle back under the covers for a power nap when they wake up a little early.

Until I got caught up in this motherhood lark, I didn’t really “do” tired. I mean, I got tired, but seemed to manage on limited amounts of sleep, and caught up whenever there was an opportunity. Oh how lucky I was, and how little I appreciated it. Even my first pregnancy didn’t faze me too much – the usual things affected my ability to get 8 hours; heartburn, limited bladder capacity and naked fear, but, in spite of the broken nights, I managed to function more or less as normal. I first realised that my number was up when the toddler was a few days old. It dawned on me that there was to be no chance to catch up, and that I was getting my first taste of this awful exhaustion I’d been warned about. Since then, there have been brief tastes of a proper night’s sleep (on the rare nights we went away without the toddler – instead of painting the town red, we opted for a very pale pink and were tucked up by 11) but on the whole, it’s been a case of general tiredness punctuated with periods of absolute exhaustion – usually coinciding with illness, or teeth, or on a couple of occasions, our neighbour’s teenage sons throwing a huge party.

But none of this prepared me for this week. There is something about starting the day at 4:30am (and not having a plane to catch) that brought my craving for sleep to a whole new level. The husband and I know that, until the toddler decides to resume normal service and sleep till about 6, the solution is to go to bed after Eastenders, but we just can’t seem to do it – there’s dinner to be eaten, phonecalls to be made, Facebook to be checked….

I know I am going deep into the realms of self-pity here, (I don’t care), but added to the early starts are; my ever-diminishing bladder capacity, which has me up every 2 hours, and the occasional burst of heartburn – (although in fairness that’s greatly improved, thanks to some magic tablets from the doctor).

I know that someday, somehow, I will start getting some proper sleep again. I just don’t think it’s going to be for a while. And, with my tendency to think ahead, I am already dreading next year’s hour change, when there will be two little bodies wanting to kick the morning off at the same time as the last Nitelink leaves. We will cope, I’m sure, but I can’t believe that there once was a time when I looked forward to the clocks going back…

Vaccines ‘safe’ for pregnant women

An article written by Eoin Burke-Kennedy  and released by the Irish Times today states that it is safe for pregnant women to use any licensed swine flu vaccine, whether it contains a “booster” substance known as an “adjuvant” or not, the World Health Organisation said today.

The WHO’s advisory panel on immunisation said while there had been a “few worrisome reactions” to the vaccine, the safety of the medicines were proving similar to the normal seasonal flu vaccines.

“Some adverse events following vaccination have been notified, but they are well within the range of those seen with seasonal vaccines, which have an excellent safety profile,” the panel said.

Women in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy make up as many as 10 per cent of all patients hospitalised with swine flu.

The WHO panel said one swine flu vaccine dose is enough to protect adults and older children against contracting the H1NI virus.

Adults, pregnant women and kids older than age 10 are protected against the new virus after one shot, it said.

For younger children, one dose should be given to as many as possible while studies assess whether that is enough to protect against the disease, the panel said.

The recommendation comes after conflicting reports on how many shots people should get. Initial results of tests on pandemic vaccines produced by companies including Sanofi-Aventis SA suggested one inoculation protects most adults.

Swine flu, or H1N1, has infected more than 440,000 people worldwide and killed over 5,700, according to the WHO.

The US and Australia have begun a mass immunisation program based on a single-dose regimen. However, several countries in the European Union remain unconvinced and have called for two shots.

The two licensed vaccines in the Republic, Pandemrix and Celvapan, stipulate that two doses three weeks apart should be given.

However, the health authorities hope that further research on the vaccines will prove that sufficient immunity may be acquired from a single dose, and that people will eventually only need only one jab but this has not yet been confirmed.

Rates of infection in the Republic have increased substantially in the past week to 210 cases per 100,000 of the population. The increase in the rate of infection comes as the HSE announced plans to import one million doses of the flu vaccine into the country by Christmas.

An additional 109 people were hospitalised in the past week and 14 were admitted to intensive care.

A total of 109 remain in hospital and 23 continue to be treated in intensive care. Ten people have died in Ireland to date, all of whom had an underlying medical condition.


Things I swore I would never say!

It is kind of inevitable I suppose that as parents, we become the people we SWORE we never would and end up saying and doing exactly the same as our own parents. We wipe dirty mouths with a tissue which we moisten first by licking slightly. We endlessly attempt to apply a brush or comb to an unwilling mop of unruly hair and we fuss about dirty fingernails.

But perhaps the worst ‘parenting-trap’ we fall into is in what we say. Sooner or later, we all find ourselves turning to the unavoidable vocabulary of parenting. These tried and tested phrases have been rolled out for generations, so I think it is a genetic impossibility not to find yourself using them.

My own personal classics include:

“Right, I am counting to three. One…..two……hmmmm, I should think so too”.

“Three more spoonfuls and then you can get down”.

“Have you washed your hands and flushed the toilet”

“Where are your manners young man?”

“Erm, where do you think you’re going? You ask before you get down”.

“Do not interrupt mummy when she is on the phone. You tap me on the knee or say ‘excuse me’”.

“You are not in charge – I AM!”

“Just look at all this mess”.

You made the mess, now you tidy up the mess”.

“What’s the magic word?”

“Right, bye bye then, I’m going – you can stay there”.

“This is the last story, the very last story….”

“You sit there and think about what you’ve done”.

What are your favourite phrases, or what do you now say which your parents said to you as a child?!

30/40 – A Hallowe’en Tale

One morning, not so long ago, the husband went in to get the toddler up. As usual, she was treating us to a rendition of “Incy Wincy Spider”, one of her favourites at 6am (or earlier). Her version goes like this “Incy Wincy BIDER, climbs up the water BOUT, along came the WAIN, and washed poor Incy OUT!”. The last word is loud enough to be heard from 4 houses away I’m sure. Our poor, poor neighbours. But anyway, in he goes, one eye open and mumbling something about times when 6am was a late night rather than an early morning. I curl up and get ready to go back asleep for an hour or two (we take the 6am shift in turns). Next thing there’s a big roar out of him, “there’s blood everywhere!” he shouts “c’mere!”.

I duly hoist myself out of bed and waddle in. Sure enough, the blanket, the toddler’s pjs, her hair, and even the side of her face, are covered in blood. But there’s not a bother on the toddler herself. After a thorough examination, we find no cuts, and conclude that it’s certainly not toddler blood everywhere. The husband starts investigating. There’s blood on the cot, and streaks of blood on the door handle, so it’s apparent that a nocturnal visitor did the damage.

Leaving Hercule Poirot to it, I take the toddler into the bathroom to wash her, and happen to glance in the mirror. My entire face is streaked with blood! I have a look at my hands, they’re fine, but there’s a little bit on my wrist and up my arm. But I have no cuts anywhere? I go back into the bedroom and turn on the light… yes, spots of blood on the pillow and duvet. I summon Hercule, who still didn’t notice the blood on my face. (If he is to continue his career as a detective, he’d want to hone those observation skills). Once I point it out to him, we begin to piece the story together….

Like many pregnant women, I need to make regular visits to the loo at night. I have got so good at it, that I don’t even need lights, the whole process from leaving the bed, to handwashing, can be done with my eyes more or less shut. This is good, as lights cause two problems, firstly they can wake me up more than is necessary, so I get back into bed and start thinking about my credit card bill, and secondly they have the potential to wake the toddler… not often, but the fear is there.

Anyway, Hercule and I concluded that I had a nosebleed in the middle of the night. Nosebleeds, along with most other minor medical calamities that can befall a person, are a symptom of pregnancy. I must have woken up mid-bleed, and trotted to the loo as usual. When I got to the landing (wish we had an ensuite!) I must have veered into the toddler’s room to admire the sleeping child. While doing this, I bled all over her, her blanket, etc. etc. Then off I went to the loo. Washing my hands removed the blood from them, but my face and arms retained traces. I took myself back into my bloody bed then, and, due to the fact that no light woke me up properly, nodded quickly back off to sleep, until the dawn chorus of Incy Wincy BIDER a few hours later.

The other alternative, of course, is that some sort of injured ghostly phantom made its way into our home, and leant over the pregnant woman and child, leaving the husband alone, before heading back to whatever hellhole it came from. Possible I guess?

Growing Pains

My heart sank for a little while recently, when,  in the middle of reading  my two-year-old his bedtime story, in marches the Bigger Boy announcing that he has a surprise for his little brother.

“Here, you can have Rusty Bear. I don’t need him because I’m a big boy now – I’m nearly four”.

“What? Are you sure?”, I asked.

“Yes mummy. I am too big for teddies. Sam can have him now”.

“But what about Affie?”, I asked, (Affie is a small toy rabbit which has been around since he was a few months old).

“Sam can have her too”.

I was genuinely stunned. Offering to give up his teddies is the equivalent of him offering to give up one of his limbs he is so dependant on them.

I felt a lump rise in my throat as I finished the story and put the Small Boy to bed. I wasn’t ready for my little boy to make such assertions about not needing his teddies. For the last three years and ten months of his life, those two teddies have been his constant companion. The last things to be asked for as lights go out at bedtime, retrieved from down the side of the bed in the middle of the night and the first things to be asked for in the morning. They have been on our best holidays, attended family weddings, helped to look after him in hospital, been the only things that can stop tears after a nasty fall and have been washed and hung out to dry more times than I care to remember.

Just as I was getting really nostalgic about all this, my ever-so-grown-up boy had a minor incident resulting in a cut lip and plenty of tears. As I was in the process of calming him down, Daddy came home and took over.

Still mildly traumatised by the fact that the teddies had been side-lined, I went downstairs to cook dinner. A little while later, Daddy came downstairs.

“Is he OK”?, I asked.

“He’s fine”, he said, “A tiny bit of blood but he asked for his teddies and he’s calmed down and gone to sleep.”

I smiled. Turns out he was not quite ready to grow up after all.

29/40 – One of those weeks….

Since I’ve started this weekly pregnancy diary, I’ve always known at the end of each week what I’ll write about next, and have enjoyed thinking of bits and pieces I could include. Last week was no exception. Unfortunately, however, the idea was as far as I got. Instead of coming up with things I could write as I sit in traffic, peel potatoes, or “listen” to calls in work, I have spent the week in a flurry of activity and mild panic.

Yes, it has been one of those weeks. It started with a broken washing machine, and ended with cramps so bad, I thought this baby was making an early appearance. Fortunately, order has been restored – the baby remains safely inside where it should be, and the laundry mountain has been reduced to manageable levels, so I can hit the keyboard at last.

So, to begin at the beginning – the washing machine…. Like most homes with a toddler in situ, we have a lot of washing to do. It’s not just her clothes; it’s the fact that she puts her mucky paws all over me and the husband – and anything else in her path, so there’s no chance of anyone’s jeans getting two outings before they hit the laundry pile. An evening with the kitchen resembling a Paddy field, a week without a functioning machine, and days spent in fruitless attempts to track down a man with a spanner – while the clothes piled up, have meant that my nerves, never the best while pregnant, have taken a real hammering.

And then there’s work. It hit me – and, more importantly, my boss – this week that I have only 6 weeks left. Now, I wasn’t planning on throwing everything onto his desk, running for the exit, shouting “it’s all in there, am sure you’ll sort it out” (well, only in my daydreams), but I certainly underestimated the amount of work involved in finishing up work. What began as a simple “One on one” meeting with my boss, ended with a task list as long as my arm, and my hopes of a nice easy run up to maternity leave fizzling out in a haze of handover conversations and organisation.

Then, just to spice things up a bit, the toddler came down with a cold. The poor little mite started with a runny nose, but quickly began coughing as if she has an 80 a day habit. She has a touch of asthma, and we’ve increased her inhaler dosages as instructed – to say she is unimpressed with this development is putting it mildly. Much time has been spent chasing her from room to room, alternately promising, threatening and cajoling as we wield the inhalers and the nebuliser. We go through a similar, more muted, variation, whenever we need to blow her nose, and another when we need to give her any type of medicine. I’ve run miles and miles around my own house this week. Thankfully, she’s improving, and with luck, the requirement to sprint after her will reduce soon too.

And, last but not least – the cramps. Maybe I’m a wuss, and maybe also a wuss with amnesia – because I don’t remember anything of the sort last time. They passed in time – but not before I had time to call the husband howling, (I was a bit ashamed of my histrionics afterwards but didn’t let on of course) – and all is well since. Apparently this baba is upside down, so I’m hoping that the pains equated to an energetic (slow!!!) somersault?

With all these shenanigans, everything else was placed on the backburner, and my mood has been apocalyptic – to say the least. As the laundry pile decreased though, my sense of perspective has returned, and if this was a bad week – then I haven’t got a lot to complain about, have I? And even better, I still have my idea for next week’s post!

Kicks in womb are no guide to baby’s health

According to a recent article on, pregnant women should not rely on counting the number of times their baby has kicked to ensure the foetus is well.

A study by a team at Cork University College Maternity Hospital said a combination of assessing the mother’s risk factors and scanning the foetus should be used instead.

Using a kick chart, where a mother determines how well her baby is doing by counting the number of kicks, is unreliable, the study says, although it remains in use in a number of countries.

Rules as to how many kicks constitute a healthy baby are vague, the Irish research found, and the woman may not be able to count them accurately.


However, if the mother says her baby has reduced or no movement it can be an indicator of problems, the team said.

Dr Julia Unterscheider from the University of Cork said: “Around 15pc of pregnancies are assessed in hospitals because the mother is concerned that her baby is not moving well.

“Obstetricians are often faced with the dilemma of not knowing what is best for mother and baby, as clinical guidance is inconsistent and management varies.

“Unnecessary investigation in an otherwise healthy pregnancy can lead to increased intervention such as caesarean delivery. In contrast, reduced foetal movements can represent a warning sign that the baby is small for gestation or unwell.

“We suggest that a careful history and examination together with a CTG [cardiotocograph] are used to confirm foetal wellbeing at a given time.

“Ultrasound evaluation is recommended when babies are at and beyond their due date, or when examination of the mother’s abdomen suggests that the baby is small.

“Kick-charts, which are in use in many maternity units worldwide, are of no benefit to reducing poor outcomes in low-risk pregnant women. A mother’s subjective perception of diminished movements is a better predictor of problems.”

General secretary of the Royal College of Midwives Cathy Warwick said: “Every expectant mother with concerns about not feeling their unborn babies’ movements should be taken seriously and should contact their midwife and maternity services as soon as possible.

“The use of these kick charts has now been superseded by the use of more advanced and reliable medical technology, such as ultrasound scans.

“This is why it is so important that midwives receive funding for continuous professional development training to ensure that they are able to keep up with current practice.”


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