Thursday, 8 July 2010

To freeze cryogenically or not to freeze cryogenically, that is the question

I swear to God, if I have to make one more decision during this preganacy, I'm going to go crazy. I'm a bit of an elephant when it comes to making choices, just the colour of the baby's room would have done me for the whole nine months. But no. Now we have to decide whether or not to save the blood and tissue (yum) from the baby's umbilical cord. Turns out that we can't simply donate it to the Italian national cord blood bank because I might have Mad Cow disease. Seriously. This pregnancy is turning me into a mad cow, I know that much. Anyone who lived in the UK between 1980 and 1996 is considered at risk of having BSE and so can't donate. I wanted to tell the nice lady on the phone that I was vegetarian for a lot of that time, but knowing my luck I'm one of those people who caught it from a Digestive biscuit.

So we've been looking into saving the cord blood privately. Italy doesn't really allow this, but friends recommended a Dutch company that does (just don't tell the Pope). It's expensive, but sadly not so much to have us running for the hills. Not that I've run anywhere recently, I would more likely waddle for the hills, stopping to take a breath every couple of paces.

Saving the cord blood privately has a whole range of amazing benefits, and goodness only knows what they'll be able to do in a few years' time. It just feels weird and selfish to do it privately, even though the public bank has shut the door in our faces. Also, leaving the ethical minefield to one side, there's the fact that I now feel that we HAVE to do it. How would I feel further down the line if my little panino-in-the-oven developped leucemia or something (touch wood, tocca ferro etc etc) and no match could be found? Like I said before, too many choices. I thought the Downs Syndrome screening was bad enough. I'm just a normal girl, not God.

The bureaucratic process of applying for this private service will also potentially keep me busy for at least the next month (and also involves more blood tests; my arms are starting to look like those of a heroin addict). The company sends you a special 'kit' where the medical staff in the hospital put the cord immediately after the birth and which you then have to send to Holland to be frozen. I have visions of standing in the Post Office with a bloody jiffy bag asking about the fastest European postal service and being arrested on the spot.

So you'll excuse me now if I leave you and go and switch off my brain for an hour and watch some trash TV. I'm not sure whether I'd prefer a nice cup of tea or if a fresh juice would be better. That's my kind of decision.

Read more!

Toothpaste and TVs

I just saw an advert on TV for an anti-ageing toothpaste. Is it possible that we now have to worry about our teeth ageing?? Isn't it traumatic enough to have to prepare ourselves for sagging wrinkly bottoms, bingo wings and chicken necks? (Not to mention the horrific - sorry, marvellous - things pregnancy does to your body. More on that later).
I saw this toothpaste ad on our new TV - the purchase of which aged me considerably. Have you bought a TV recently? No? Well, let me tell you, they're not box-shaped anymore. You also need a degree in techno-bullshit to understand if you're buying a TV or a fully staffed multi-screen cinema. The price tags are about the same. The funny thing is that no matter how much you spend, or how much your TV looks like a prop from Star Trek, it will give all your DVDs the same image quality of Prisoner Cell Block H. This is apparently called 'progress'. And by the way, hands up if you can actually tell the difference between normal and HD. Thought not.

On my first day home alone with the new TV I discovered another thing. It doesn't have an on/off switch. Now, I must explain that not only am I seven months pregnant, but also that we have just temporarily moved from Florence to Milan. I NEED to be able to watch TV in order to distract myself from the nightmare that is living surrounded by unpacked boxes and the never-ending bureaucratic procedures involved in getting myself registered in a different region's health system. Not fun. So there I was that first day, all excited about the new TV (the old one couldn't take the pressure of moving house and committed suicide) but I couldn't turn the stupid thing on. I pressed every button on the remote and felt all around the screen for some kind of switch. I read the manual in English, Italian and French. Nothing. If only I'd paid more attention in my German lessons, I cursed. Sighing, and just as I was about to give up on the idea of seeing Murder She Wrote, I noticed that the TV was, in fact, unplugged. Opps. Blame it on the pregnancy hormones.
G will be rolling his eyes as he reads this. I didn't tell him as I thought it might cross the line between endearingly stupid and cronically dumb. What I really need isn't a toothpaste to stop my teeth from ageing but something to stop my brain from ageing.

Read more!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Seven Month Itch

Seven Month Itch
'Well Signora, 10 kilos is quite a significant weight gain I'm afraid,' frowned the nurse. I couldn't help glaring at the sweaty rolls of flesh jiggling on her arms as she fiddled with the weights on the scales.
'I'm seven months pregnant fatty, what's your excuse?' I replied. Of course, I said no such thing - but I wanted too. Bloody cheek.
Then the gynaecologist did a quick examination and, being ridiculously ticklish, all his prodding of my tummy made me giggle. Talk about a total loss of dignity. My friend the nurse was highly amused by the whole scene. There's nothing like total strangers laughing at you when you don't have any underpants on.
The gyny confirmed that baby is head down and apparently doing very well. I have just 3 or 4 hundred more blood and various other tests left to do now. Thank God you gain a couple of litres of blood in pregnancy otherwise I wouldn't have any left. In fact, between the blood tests and the mosquitoes, I seem to have the most sought after blood in the land.
Anyway, this week I've been looking through the list of necessary items for the hospital bag and I have to say that it's slightly disconcerting. A nightdress with wide sleeves to wear during labour? Maybe I've misunderstood something about where the baby comes out from - probably wasn't paying enough attention in my antenatal class that day. G looked through the list with me and rather predictably liked the sound of the paper (or mesh) (??) knickers. He spotted 'intimate soap' and said,
'Now Mel, don't forget this and show yourself up as a typical English girl who never uses the bidet.' Ha Ha.
'Millions of English people can't even spell bidet and still somehow have miraculously clean bottoms,' I smiled through gritted teeth. My hormones are making me so sensitive that I'm even ready to defend wall-to-wall carpets in the bathroom and tagliatelle with a side order of chips these days.
The only thing I've bought so far from the list are the maternity sanitary towels, which are quite frankly terrifying. At the bottom of the list it says that it's not necessary to bring a 'guaina' or a 'pancera', which is good as I have no idea what they are. There's so much to learn in pregnancy and learning it all in a foreign language is pretty exhausting.
In the meantime, I'm just enjoying the Italian summer: 35 degrees in the shade and tarmac melting into soup in the street, lovely. Fortunately, being pregnant in Italy doesn't mean just blood tests and paper knickers, it also means you can walk around flapping a fan and wearing a silly sun hat and get away with it. If that chubby nurse wore my sun hat she'd just look daft.

Read more!