Ex Pat Mamma

Thursday, December 30, 2004


If there is one feeling in early pregnancy stronger and more consistent than all others, then it is worry. There is, of course, a happiness that cannot be described and a delight in the ever changing body; there is frustration when the physical symptoms lose their novel appeal, but through it all, there is the constant fear of "what if?" Estimates of miscarriage rates are vastly variable because lots of women never know they were pregnant. In almost every case it is not related to anything the mother has done or not done but just a pregnancy that was never going to succeed. Getting from sperm and egg to baby is an immense process and there are lots of tiny but crucial stages. If one fails, usually because of some genetic problem with the embryo, then the pregnany will fail. Its a cruel system. Most of these failures will occur in the first 12 weeks.

So one worries constantly. What if? What if this pregnancy fails? What if I lose this baby? And the longer this pregnancy continues, the more determined I become that I just CAN'T lose this baby.

Not every pregnant woman is anxious and worried in the early weeks but it does seem to be the most common feeling in all the pregnant woman with whom I have had contact. Now, you may indeed ask, how many women do I have contact with who are in a state of early pregnancy? About 40. I have joined a "chat board" for other women due in July 2005 and it is great. Rather than, as you might expect, we all share our fears and make each other even more anxious, instead we share our fears and miraculously manage to say sensible and reassuring things to each other. We are all fantastic at giving advice - and mostly terrible at taking it!! The board is an important source of support for me. Whilst I have friends who have had babies fairly recently and of course family who have had babies many many years ago, I think it is very hard to remember feelings and experiences clearly in retrospect. Once a healthy baby is born, it is perhaps easier to look back on pregnancy and forget some of the most difficult times or even if not forget, assess them differently. After all, there is a human being in front of you telling you every second that no matter what you have been through, it has been worth it.

At this early stage of pregnancy, I don't have that. I don't have the same perspective. Whilst I am starting to believe I will have a baby and even making plans (somewhat vaguely, it must be said) I still do not know if I actually will have this baby. I am scared to be too confident, "just in case." What if? What if I am going through all these changes, physical, emotional and it is all taken from me?

So I wait. And soon, I hope (when I manage to go a few weeks without bleeding, perhaps) I will be able to relax and believe that this new life inside of me will make it. Meanwhile, I stay out of the hottub, eat very carefully, avoid lifting anything, shovelling snow, exercising hard (as if!) not because I really think any of these things are likely to cause a miscarriage but because if I do lose this baby, I need to know that it was not something I could have prevented.


Saturday, December 25, 2004

I'll give you White Christmas

To set the scene: yesterday, we had a blizzard from the north. Bad enough that it comes straight from the north pole, but considerably worse, because the mountains round this sleepy town are east, south and west, so there is nothing to stop the north wind hurtling down the fjord.
Snow and fallen
Snow on snow
Snow on snow
In the bleak mid winter
Not so long ago.

Today, Christmas day (well, our Christmas day, but the Icelanders all celebrated yesterday) we woke up and it was worse! The trusty romabill, whilst good hearted and mostly reliable was not going to make it out the drive. The snow was past my knees, and I am considerably taller than her. It was too early and there had been no other traffic to flatten the snow.

But we had to go to the hospital for a scan because I had had a wee bit of bleeding, very small, but repeated, and the dr. thought it best to take a look. So we battled our way through the blizzard for the best present of all: our baby is just fine! It is now 4cm long, with a strong little heart (which I managed to pick out on the screen this time), a big head and torso and little arms and legs. It was moving about in response to the ultrasound and the dr. says that all looks good :) My dates are put back to where I thought; either that or we both ate too much lasagne and troffie in Italy :)

And hubby got a chance to wear his new ski suit :) Thanks, Mum!

We popped into church again on the way home. We had gone last night, both to the Lutheran mass and the midmight mass at the Catholic church, but we were felt a lot to be thankful for this morning. Don't tell my dad, but I was even praying to the Virgin Mary! Well, I thought she might know something about being pregnant and scared and loving your child. She was there for her son through everything, the darkest times, right till the end, when she (in my humble, possibly heretical, opinion) suffered at least as much as he did by witnessing his pain.

Off for some goose now with some friends. yum yum.

Happy Christmas!!!!

Friday, December 24, 2004

National "delicacies"

Icelanders eat some strange things despite the fact that they don't have the excuse of being poor and desperate anymore. Meanwhile, my sense of smell is in overdrive, and I can smell hubby's burbs from 5 metres: outdoors or indoors.
Arrived at work today to find my colleague at his desk; after about 30 seconds I asked: "have you been eating hangikjöt?" Could smell it a mile off: heavily smoked leg of lamb. This is the traditional Christmas dinner, which they have, in fact, on the evening of the 24th, when families gather and presents are opened.
Today, the 23rd, is Þórlaksmessadagur: the day of Thorlak's mess, when everyone in the country is obliged to cook and eat rotten skate. Yes, rotten. Completely rank rotten. Colleague's girlfriend popped into the office, shortly after dining on this marvellous congestible and I could smell it even after she left. Home is no better, as the neighbours have all been at it, and the block stinks.

Makes one wish to be back in Italy :)


Wednesday, December 22, 2004

ég á afmæli dag

We got back from Italy yesterday, after 10 days of marathon eating. Shopping was somewhat restricted, owing to my ever changing size, but I compensated with a "wee pair" of Prada shoes (on sale, of course!), ANOTHER pink trilby, posh genovese candies and going mad with the Credit Card at Heathrow.

The inlaws were just delighted with our news and all had a wee cry. Parents in law were worried about everything, and pa-in-law even offered me his bed, in case I wasn't comfortable enough. In Iceland I hadn't noticed so much (just the smoked salmon) but in Italy there were sooo many things I couldn't eat that are just everyday foods, like prosciutto crudo and salami (not allowed because they are raw). We went out for a pizza and in a list of 20, there were about 3 I could have, because they all had some uncooked meat, mouldy cheese or seafood on top. Not that I was exactly starving, it must be admitted ;)

The football was almost a sellout (Genoa-Empoli playing for the top spot of Seria B) but we managed to find a relatively quiet corner in the slightly posh bit (i.e. it has a seat) and Genoa won, so all were very happy. Roma beat Parma 5-1 in seria A to my delight and now lie 6th, a UEFA place, or 1 point from Champion's League. But they are soooo painfully inconsistent this year so we will just see.

I am well though I found myself getting very tired very quickly and needing to nap most afternoons. Still, being able to sleep a lot, my "morning" sickness was much much better. Till the last two days when I had to get up early and the very last when, having FINALLY squeezed everything into two enormous suitcases, BB reaquainted me with Armatage Shanks, meaning I had to dig back into the case to recover my toothbrush.

Journey home was long and tiring, but all went fine and we had no disasters. Even managed to bring a dinner service without breaking anything :). Hubby and I are now organised for Christmas and New Year. For Christmas, we shall attempt to cook a duck, which cost almost as much as my shoes, so I hope we do a good job! We have booked a wee cottage for the New Year weekend so we can escape from all the fireworks and the drunks.

Oh yes, and it's my birthday today (afmæli dag: birthday). We have a custom at work of all baking a cake for our own birthdays, which I righteously did last night and brought in: to find NOONE in my faculty has bothered to come to work!!! I'll take it to the canteen at lunchtime and share it with the librarians. The best present of all is still inside: I don't get to open it till July ;)

Friday, December 10, 2004

Travels Ahead

This evening we set off on our marathon journey to Italy, which will involve a car, a plane, a bus, a plane, a plane and a car and a total about about 28 hours. It will be worth it to be able to share our news with the inlaws in person.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Scan News

Yesterday we had our much anticipated 8 week scan at the hospital. Baby appears to be fine, a grand 1 cm long with a strong little heartbeat. In truth, I had to take the word of Dr. and hubby on the heartbeat, ´cause I couldn't see anything, but if they are happy, that is good enough for me.
I was expecting to get some information about the antenatal routines here in Iceland but no such luck. Just the scan and a number to call to book an appointment at a pregnant women's clinic in mid January. Off to Italy this weekend, so we can tell the in-laws. Its exciting for everyone because it is the first grandchild on both sides and in both cases, about time too!
First, off home, to relieve myself of my lunch and continue my fine impression of a bulimic. Still feeling physically rubbish and starting to sleep a lot (might be the dark here too, though) but at least I am no longer writhing in a pit of self-pity. Yes, and lest I forget, thanks for your kind words of support, Ms. JC!

Monday, December 06, 2004

Stranger in my own body

The novelty is most decidedly wearing off. I'm feeling constantly sick, I hurt everywhere, my breasts feel like someone is sticking a needle in them, they smell of cabbage (alleged miracule cure) and I am generally fed up and sorry for myself. I have no idea what my body is going to do from one day to the next and Away in a Manger reduced me to tears. I can't take any drugs to make myself feel better; I can't make any plans because I don't know how I will feel. I have no control over my body anymore.

So much for 'blooming' - maybe that comes later.

scan tomorrow: we should see a heartbeat...

Thursday, December 02, 2004


It is 7.45 and I am wondering whether to pester the hubby to get up. I've been up since 630 and only slept on and off all night. It is quite normal to get insomnia during pregnancy but in my case it was no doubt exacerbated by the fact I slept for 3 hours yesterday afternoon.
I got back from Glasgow on Tuesday night absolutely full of the cold and feeling miserable. It doesn't help that I am only allowed to take a "little" wimpy paracetamol and none of the good stuff which usually enables me to get back on my feet. The cold is a wee bit better today, but the nausea is back with a vengeance. Typical! I started to get morning sickness at the beginning of last week, on Friday (whilst in Glasgow) I had my first proper chunder, and it just comes and goes. Some days I am fine, others I feel nauseaus all day. The one sure thing to get me going is sitting in the car for even 5 minutes.
The main news is: I told my mum and dad and my sister. Mum came off the bus and immediately said: "let's leave this [case] in left luggage and go shopping!!!" with a big glint in her eye. Not quite where I had planned to tell her, but I had to explain my lack of interest in slinky size 8 party frocks and my sudden desire to go to Mothercare. I gave her a ball of baby wool and some knitting needles and she just looked totally glaikit for a minute before the truth dawned. She seemed pretty happy though :) Dad was delighted when I told him on the phone too and sent me wee messages telling me to look after the two of us and such things. Think he might secretly be the most excited of all. My sister sounded really happy too.
Am totally rubbish with secrets and the worst liar of all time, so I told my friends as well, but in fact, they were much more on the ball than any of my family. My immaculately dressed lawyer friend said something about being scruffy on the weekend and I said I was going to start wearing tracksuits and the girls immediately went: "Why?: in THE most suspicious tone. Told them I was going to put on a bit of weight and they both screamed and hugged me :)
Hubby's folks next weekend when we go to Italy on our Grand Tour of The Relatives.

Back to work for me now.
7+4 (don't those numbers look big now?!)