Sleep, eggs and coffee!

Even though last night we switched off the light before 23:00, I woke up at 9am this morning! Whoo, 10-hour sleep! A few years ago my mother-in-law coldly told me: “You’ll have to learn to get up early!” She only said it once, but I still feel a hint of guilt when I wake up “too late”. At this time of my life though, I do know I have to listen to myself, and rest is important. And she is caring, because she never says anything about the time I come upstairs in the morning. That hint of guilt still haunts me though, you know, like when you hear a song with bad emotions attached to it and your heart crumples. Some days though, I’m in a ‘holiday’ sort of mood and I don’t care about doing nothing. I don’t know how else to say. I guess the weather helps; it’s been really hot for the season – normally it’s really cold at this time of year, but we’ve only had some ‘really’ cold weather for about two weeks in December. Today it’s shiny and beautiful – perfect weather. Those days I just decide to do whatever I feel like, no work, to treat myself and make myself happy. There’s not much to do in Khajuraho to treat myself though. Just going for breakfast with omelette on toasts and coffee is a treat, because Amma forbids eggs in the house and I very rarely drink tea or coffee for Baby’s sake. So that’s what we did with Kishan today – eggs and coffee, whooo! Outrageous!

Back from breakfast I just feel like doing something fun and self-centred like writing on my blog – just start typing and see what comes out. We took a photo of my belly to send it to some friends today and I just felt like posting it because I like it, so it gives me a reason to blog, ha! Here it is. I like this photo for the white background and the flower pot. And I guess it’s true that I look good pregnant. I took this picture because I’m wearing leggings so I thought it would show my belly better. I guess I do have grown bigger, because my belly pops out a little more than on the last photo. It’s funny how some days I find myself huge, and some days I just don’t! Right now I don’t…

Indian organisation to go to Chhatarpur…

OK, so I do have some things to say since my last post, but I was unmotivated to write until today. Last week we did go to Chhatarpur again, to get my blood and urine checked. It was interesting. We didn’t go to the Christian Hospital because I didn’t want to. Before we went, Kishan asked a friend about a good private ‘lady-doctor’. I spent some time in the morning checking my medical files from Varanasi and Delhi and googling the things I had to get checked to understand exactly what had to be done and how it was supposed to be done. ‘USG + CD’ = ‘ultrasound with Colour Doppler’ (to check blood flow to the baby). In ‘screening for GDM’, ‘GDM’ means ‘Gestational Diabetes Mellitus’. Then I searched for ‘HbTCDC’ and found a page about HBTCDC anagrams Scrabble words! But what I wanted really was ‘Haemoglobin Total Count & Differential Count’. Why do doctors always write in such cryptic ways? But then I realised we were a Sunday and I started worrying about whether places would be open or not. But Kishan assured me that they would be open. So he booked a taxi for 10:30 and I thought it was a bit late, but as usual, Indian plans are rarely in my control.

And I didn’t understand what happened really. First Kishan said we would go to a woman called I-can’t-remember-what and that she was the best in Chhatarpur. Then he said we’d go to another one. The taxi was late to arrive and I felt we would just never go; I didn’t know what to do and I went to sit in the sun outside with Kishan, frustrated. It was already 11:30 and I asked him to call the driver, but soon I just told him to leave it, “It’s late and it’s Sunday anyway so let’s not risk arriving too late and everything being closed.” I went back to our room to do something else and gave up on the idea that we were going anywhere. In the end, after 12:00 he called me to get ready; the taxi had arrived and we were going to a lady-doctor called Neha, who was neither the first one, nor the second one Kishan had mentioned! Oh, whatever! Let’s go and see. He did assure me that this woman had been trained in the USA, and I was very intrigued indeed…

Off to Chhatarpur for my blood & urine check

And so we got in the car and left. I had been in an indifferent mood up until then because I hadn’t known what was going on, but once we left I brightened up and started feeling like on a little travelling trip. It was nice to get out of Khajuraho and it was a beautiful day. My brother-in-law came with us because he wanted to get his eyes checked (which in the end he didn’t), as well as a friend of Kishan’s. When we reached Chhatarpur an hour later, the driver told us we had to carry on in a rickshaw because the lady-doctor’s practice was in the ‘market’. I didn’t really understand why that was, but on our way I realised it was because in this part of the city the roads were too narrow for a taxi to drive through. It felt even more like ‘rural India’ and there was a lot of rubbish scattered in the streets and I really was wondering where the heck we were heading to. In the end we reached a small practice centre, in and outside of which many poor-looking people were sitting waiting. Somehow though, we went in and by-passed them all and into a room with a desk. Kishan later told me we didn’t have to wait because his friend had referred us to the lady doctor. We waited no more than fifteen minutes and were called into her office. True enough, she seemed nice and educated and qualified and she spoke great English! What kind of miracle had she landed from!? I was happy.

Blood & urine check in Chhatarpur

Consultation with lady doctor Neha

So Neha checked my medical file. I showed her the early diastolic notch record and told her I was taking L-arginine supplements and she knew what I was talking about. (I think I’m too sceptical about rural India sometimes…) She took my blood pressure, which as usual turned out perfectly fine. She popped me onto a bed-thing and started feeling my tummy with her hands and the baby’s heartbeat with a stethoscope; she also checked for any water retention in my ankles and she looked at my tongue. Then we went back to her desk and she scribbled a prescription for all the urine and blood checks I had to get done, in a laboratory a few steps’ walk from her medical practice. She also told me I should get iron and calcium and protein supplements, and – what puzzled me the most – she asked me if I’d had some tetanus shots in my fourth and fifth months of pregnancy! Now what, vaccination while pregnant?? And why had the doctors in Varanasi and Delhi not told me anything about it?? I didn’t like the idea. I wasn’t sure how expired my tetanus vaccination was and I’d check at home and do some more internet research! Before we left I asked Neha if she thought I should go for an ultrasound to check for Baby’s blood flow; she said it wasn’t necessary…

Blood & urine check at the pathology lab

We walked out and back through the littered lanes and reached the small lab – which was just the front room of a personal house, protected from the road by long transparent plastic sheets. We had to remove our shoes to get in, at least, and albeit looking modest the place did look clean. We gave my prescription and waited a little. Then I went to their house’s (pretty dirty) toilet and I had to pee in a small flask, which I gave to the lab guys – without a lid and without my name on it, because they started the analyses on it straight away. I went back to sit down on the bench-thing looking at what they were doing, and another guy came for my blood check. We waited for a while but then the guy told us we would have to wait for another forty minutes for the results, so we decided to go for a walk and for some food, as it was already about 3pm and I was getting hungry. There was only street food about, but the one we had was nice, not too greasy and not too spicy. Then we went back to the lab and waited a little more for my results. The guys gave me my sheet; I had a look at it and it all looked perfectly fine to me.

Back to Neha’s and in search for a place for colour-doppler ultrasound

We walked back to the lady doctor’s practice to show her the results. We had to wait a little and she wasn’t available, so the guy from the lab who had walked there with us phoned her and passed the phone on to me. She told me everything was fine. In all that time I had been pondering more about the puzzling tetanus shots, but she insisted that I should get them done. I also asked if according to the results I should get that ultrasound done, now she was saying that I should… She had told Kishan about a good ultrasound place, so we walked back to our taxi and off we went to look for it.

The place was open and I asked the guy sitting there for that special “Colour Doppler” ultrasound. He told us his machine was out of service so we couldn’t get it done, but that he was the only person in town qualified to do it. I said to the boys “OK let’s go home then.” but once we were further away from the place, Ravi assured me that the guy was lying, of course, he was telling us he was the only one qualified so we wouldn’t fish for another place! “I’ll never be completely Indian!” I thought, because however well I do know the Indian mentality, I still can’t decipher it spontaneously!!! So we went to look for another ultrasound place, and indeed the next one we found was very close to the first, and the first thing I read on their sign was ‘कलर डोप्लर’ (‘Colour Doppler’)! It was after 5pm now though, and the place was closed on a Sunday anyway. We found a third one, also closed, and then drove back to Khajuraho… Oh well, we will have to come back to Chhatarpur for the ultrasound then… Oh, and before heading back home we went to a pharmacy and I bought a month’s worth of calcium tablets and the prescribed (yummy, cardamom-flavoured) protein drink. I decided against the iron tablets because the protein drink already contains some iron, and I also take spirulina…

About the vaccination dilemma

The vaccination dilemma - CC0 / Public Domain

The vaccination dilemma – CC0 / Public Domain

Back in Khajuraho I wrote my puzzled questions to the birth group on Facebook for advice and started researching the internet about the tetanus vaccine during pregnancy. I found out that the shots are especially prescribed in developing countries to protect the mother and growing baby, and to prevent any case of ‘neonatal tetanus’ – which ‘usually occurs through infection of the unhealed umbilical stump, particularly when the stump is cut with a non-sterile instrument’. Urgh! I also went back to my vaccination book to check on my last shot: It was done in April 2005 and was valid 10 years i.e. until April 2015! Now could 10 years also mean 11? I asked many friends for advice, and in the meantime also got many answers from the Facebook birth group, obviously all telling me different things. Many pregnant women had had the shots done, but quite a few hadn’t and everything had been fine for them. One of the group’s main midwives was also surprised about all the tetanus shots mentioned amongst the group members. Clearly, it also all depends on how clean the birth environment is. I just couldn’t come up with a decision. I also phoned the lady doctor who will assist my birth in Varanasi to ask her why she hadn’t mentioned anything about tetanus shots back in October, and she told me that she hadn’t because European people usually didn’t do it anyway. I also checked the internet to see if now wasn’t too late for some shots; some websites prescribed them during the second trimester, others between the 28th and the 33rd weeks of pregnancy. Who to believe?? In the end I asked my father for the contact details of a friend of his who is a doctor, and (thank you Whatsapp!) asked her if she thought I could still consider myself immune to tetanus after 11 years. She said yes, and the baby would be fine at birth, but after birth Baby should be vaccinated again, again for tetanus and diphtheria and polio and also whooping cough. Well, I thought that if Baby has to be vaccinated again after birth anyway, and s/he’ll be fine at birth, then why bother now? I was still undecided for a while but couldn’t get myself to do anything. And I still haven’t. And I still feel comfortable about not having done anything. So I’ll leave it at that for now! I trust I’m immune!

Ah but vaccines, what a pain, and how uncomfortable they make me feel! Conventional doctors will scare you if you don’t do them. And the pharmaceutical industry and lobbies and blah blah blah. But there’s fear but… we shouldn’t make decisions on fear, right? And I know we live in India. But also the more you trust and take allopathic medicine the more dependent on it you become. And what about those polemics that say vaccines are full of shit like heavy metals and DNA fragments of other species and faecal matter (!) and formaldehyde? And how do we even know what’s inside our vaccines in India, where you can’t even find drug instructions in medicine boxes? Urgh! Urgh! Urgh! A lot to think about indeed… But for now, I shall postpone all the decisions about vaccines until AFTER our baby’s birth!

And to end with a few bullet points

  • I’m reading yet another book, and I guess it shall be the last one to prepare myself for birth, or rather, to prepare myself for post-birth: The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, as it was unanimously recommended to me by members of the Facebook birth groups. It’s a really thick book published by the renowned international breastfeeding association La Leche League! The book is full of good knowledge about breastfeeding, so I hope it will work well for me – because I want to breastfeed my baby for as long as possible! Isn’t that what Nature created our boobies for?! I’m really grateful to those internet birth groups, who have given me a lot of great advice and made me feel less lonely with my ‘educated pregnancy in Khajuraho’! By the way – in the name of full transparency, please be aware that some of these links are affiliate, and any purchases made through them will result in a small commission for me (at no extra cost for you).
  • Everyday before bedtime I love to lie down on my back with a bolster underneath my knees and to feel Baby move. A few days ago it occurred to me that I could also see my belly move though (why hadn’t I realised this before?!) and it was a lot of fun! So I’ve been making some videos of my belly moving with Baby. I think one of them is quite good, although you have to really look at the line of my tummy without moving your gaze to see the ‘waves’. Just see that the line of my tummy doesn’t just go up and down with my breath… You can see a beautiful ‘wave’ right at the end of the video, just after the change in lens focus. Did you see it?
  • I don’t know why, but Kishan and I can’t really imagine Baby will be a girl… We have a hard time calling her ‘she’. I try as much as I can to also imagine s/he’ll be a girl, but it doesn’t really happen… Let’s wait and see if our feeling is right!
  • For a few weeks now I’ve started writing a birth plan to help myself communicate my wishes better to the doctor in Varanasi, to make them more ‘official’ I guess. I just really want my delivery to be as normal and natural as possible, I want to avoid any medical intervention if I can, and I certainly want to make it very clear that I don’t want a C-section unless it is absolutely necessary!
  • And I can’t believe in less than two months now I’ll be in Varanasi waiting for the birth… I have to say, however much I love to enjoy my solitary, quiet time in our bedroom while I can, I’m getting impatient to know what Baby will be like, and perhaps most of all, I am impatient to know what it will be like to experience ‘the opposite of death’… Will I cope well? How long will it take? Who will accompany me? Etc. etc….. That BIG Unknown…

Read more: Feeling poo & another ultrasound