Six months of Zyma

Six months! I can’t believe I just typed that. It only seems like a few weeks ago that I was publishing my three months post. And suddenly here we are… my baby is half a year old. In the time since my last post we’ve made it through her first little illness… initially we thought it was a UTI, and that was confirmed by the hospital (of course it was a public holiday here in Basel so the paediatrician was closed. With a fever and being under six months the telemedicine hotline recommended taking her to A+E at the children’s hospital). The initial rapid test came back positive and we started her on antibiotics, but the sample was also sent for cultures to find out exactly what the bacteria was, and 4 days later we received a phone call saying they hadn’t found anything. So we don’t know what she actually had… probably a small infection that cleared up by itself. At the exact same time, she started cutting her first tooth, which seemed a little unfair of the universe! And before anyone says it yes I am aware that teething can cause a raised temperature but not 39.6°C! (*Checks Google* That’s 103.28°F). We had already given her paracetamol in the morning, but with her temperature still hovering around 39°C the hospital gave her ibuprofen and that brought it down to below 38. Once the temperature was within normal range she was a lot more lively and even managed a few smiles. This was a Thursday (it was Ascension Day, in case you’re wondering) and by the Saturday she was maintaining a normal temperature without the aid of ibuprofen.

Little feet! (But big for her size… they’re always the first thing to grow out of footed clothing)

She now has two little bottom teeth and third one on its way through… we’re currently working on not biting mama. If we use the teeth, we don’t get milk!

Last time I said that she had started smiling, but mainly at her mobile rather than at us. Well, it wasn’t long before she had the social smile down and now she never stops. We went out for a little day trip recently and stopped for coffee and cake. Jan walked around the café with her before we ordered and two old ladies were treated to smiles. She’s also learned to laugh (and I’m realising what a terrible mammy I am having failed to write down when she achieved any of these milestones!). The first time I heard her giggle was when I was changing her nappy… I wasn’t sure whether she was just testing a new noise or actually amused, but it was definitely the cutest sound. She then didn’t do it for about a week, then we heard the occasional giggle, now she full on laughs all the time. She finds the most random things funny – and often only once with the same thing not getting any reaction the next time – and it’s almost impossible not to laugh along with her. One thing that almost always makes her smile and giggle is when I read We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. She particularly likes the lines “a swirling, whirling snowstorm” and “thick, oozy mud”. She’s still too impatient for most other books but that one is a hit.

Half German baby’s first time in Germany (for all of 30 seconds!)

In between laughing she has also learned to whine… what’s that all about?! I thought I had at least until she learned to talk for that! It started at around 4 months and there’s really no other way to describe it. A constant “Aaawhooooo” and “eeehhhhhh” in the whiniest tone of voice imaginable. Usually the whining starts when she’s forced to be on her tummy for more than two minutes at a time. She hasn’t learned to roll over yet so after looking around the room for a while and playing with whatever toy I put in front of her she’ll put her head down and whine, then eventually cry until I rescue her.

One milestone that I can put a date to, because it only happened recently, is sitting. She has looooved sitting up on our laps for a while and just a few weeks ago – on 1st June – she sat by herself for the very first time. She needs her hands to prop her up (apparently it’s called tripoding) but she can stay in that position for at least a minute without help… at least until she decides she needs one of her hands for something else and promptly topples over! I try not to let her be in that position for too long though.

I love this sleepsuit. Dinosaurs are for everyone!

At just over three months she had her first spina bifida checkup and she did so well. It was a long day for everyone, with the first appointment at 8:30 a.m. meaning we had to be on the road by 6 a.m. but she was amazing. We made it to within ten minutes of the hospital before she started to cry. I was in the back with her and managed to keep her mostly calm until we had arrived and she could have milk, and she was perfect for most of the tests. She did cry during the kidney ultrasound and when one of the doctors wanted to see her on her tummy (the dreaded tummy time coupled with tiredness – not a great combination!) but other than that she did great. The results were also mostly positive, and everyone was particularly pleased with how well she moves her legs. We’ve now started physiotherapy but more just to set things in motion than to address any specific problems. We did start intermittent catheterisation because one of the tests showed a couple of issues there – basically her bladder starts to contract before it’s actually full which could eventually cause urine to reflux back into the kidneys, and she also doesn’t empty her bladder completely. If things don’t improve she will eventually have to start on medication that would completely paralyse the bladder, meaning it wouldn’t contract at all, even when full, and she would no longer be able to urinate by herself, so the doctor wanted us to learn how to catheterise her now so it will already be routine if she does end up needing medication. Bladder problems are common with spina bifida because among the affected nerves are those that control the bladder, but we were obviously hoping she would have escaped. It was relatively unlikely though given the level of her defect. At first we had carers coming in to help us with catheterisation, but now she’s a bit bigger we’ve finally managed to figure out how to do it ourselves every time. Not having an appointment at 10:30 a.m. Monday to Friday definitely makes my life a lot easier! Her next spina bifida check up is at the end of this month so keep your fingers crossed it’s still all good news.

Oh, I almost forgot, when we went back to the hospital in Basel for her hip dysplasia check up the doctor was extremely pleased and said he no longer needs to see her. Her hips will be checked regularly at the spina bifida clinic anyway but she won’t be needing a harness again.

Between physiotherapy, carers’ and doctors’ appointments and various visitors we’ve been kept very busy. Luckily Zyma is a relatively easy baby even when she’s at her whiniest and so far I’ve had no problem getting on the bus with her – although I have had to rush to pay and leave the supermarket a few times so I could feed her on a bench outside. Fortunately it’s usually warm enough to do that now! My mam and brother came to visit recently so she also had her first train ride – she did very well, feeding on the way there and then hanging out in the carrier on daddy on the way back. The next challenge will be a looong car ride to visit Jan’s dad and attend his belated 70th birthday party. Wish us luck! She also still wakes 2-3 times a night to eat, meaning I’m often pretty zombie-like in the morning. It’s all worth it though. We couldn’t be prouder of our funny, smiley, wriggly little bean (my nickname for her). Happy half birthday baby girl. Mammy and daddy love you very much.

What I read in May 2022

I’m a day late writing this post for what it turns out is the final Show Us Your Books. It really does feel like the end of an era and I haven’t even been around since the beginning! Many thanks to Steph and Jana for all their years of hosting (since October 2014!). I’ve found so many good books through this link up and also some of my favourite bloggers.

Now let’s get to the books shall we?

Broken Soup by Jenny Valentine. When a good-looking boy with an American accent presses a dropped negative into Rowan’s hand, she’s convinced it’s just a mistake. She knows she didn’t drop anything, but he’s adamant it was her. But before she can say anything more he’s gone, lost in the crowd of bustling shoppers. And she can’t afford to lose her place in the checkout queue – after all, the food shopping isn’t going to take itself home! Rowan has more responsibilities than most girls her age. These days, she pretty much looks after her little sister single-handedly – which doesn’t leave much time for friends or fun. But when she finds out that Bee from school saw the whole thing, it piques her curiosity. Especially when it turns out the dropped item does have a connection to her after all… I enjoyed this. Some parts of the story line were predictable but I was okay with it. Stroma is fantastic – definitely one of my favourite little sisters in fiction. I thought Bee’s character could have been fleshed out a bit more – we are told how special and amazing she is but I didn’t really feel it. I did love Harper though. This is the kind of book I would have devoured as a teen. With Rowan’s struggles at home, I would compare it to Jacqueline Wilson, but for older readers. 4 stars.

Another Mother’s Son by Janet Davey. Lorna Parry is the mother of three boys, each one lurching uncomfortably into adulthood. In the claustrophobic loneliness of her own home, Lorna orbits around her sons and struggles to talk to them; she’s still angry at her ex-husband, uncomfortable around her father’s new girlfriend, and works quietly as the only employee left in a deserted London archive. Life seems precariously balanced. Then a shocking event occurs in the stationery cupboard at the boys’ school and her world threatens to implode. This was an incredibly depressing book. I’m not sure I’ve ever read such a pessimistic representation of motherhood. The youngest son, Ross, was just awful. I know teenagers are difficult but I would never have got away with talking to my mother like that! (Constantly telling her to shut up, you can leave now, nobody’s interested in you.) The “incident” wasn’t what I thought it was going to be and in the end didn’t even feel like a main plot point. I did think the writing was good though. It was certainly evocative – I could actually feel how dull Lorna’s live was! 2.5 stars.

Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger. Twelve-year-old Sophie has never quite fit into her life. She’s skipped multiple grades and doesn’t really connect with the older kids at school, but she’s not comfortable with her family, either. Because Sophie has a secret, an ability that she’s never been able to share with anybody. She can read the thoughts of everyone around her. When she meets Fitz, a mysterious (and adorable) boy, she learns she’s not alone. She discovers that there is a place she belong, but also that staying with her family will place her in grave danger. In the blink of an eye, Sophie is forced to leave behind everything and start a new life in a place that is vastly different from anything she has ever known. There are new rules to learn and new skills to master, and not everyone is thrilled that she has come “home.” And the danger isn’t over either. There are secrets buried deep in Sophie’s memory – secrets about who she really is and why she was hidden among humans – that other people desperately want. Would even kill for. It’s up to Sophie to figure out why she’s the key to her brand new world… before someone else works it out first. This was a fun read. It definitely has its flaws and Sophie’s constant perfection (despite being new to the world and school, she’s the absolute best ever at everything except one subject) got annoying, as did her suddenly remembering random things or discovering completely new abilities when it was convenient for the plot, but I stayed up longer than I planned reading and had to force myself to go to bed without finishing it, which anyone who has ever had a young baby knows is a big deal, so 3.5 stars. Also, for some reason I thought this book involved gods but it’s not that at all.

Thirteen Hours by Deon Meyer. (Benny Griessel #2) As morning dawns in Cape Town, it promises to be a very trying day for homicide detective Benny Griessel it promises to be a very trying day. The body of a teenage girl has been found on the street, her throat cut. She was an American – a PR nightmare in the #1 tourist destination in South Africa. And she wasn’t alone. Somewhere in Cape Town her friend, Rachel Anderson, an innocent American, is hopefully still alive. On the run, Rachel is terrified with no idea who she can trust or where to turn in this unknown city. It’s up to Benny to find her, in a race against the clock. Meanwhile, he gets pulled into a second case, the murder of a South African music executive. Griessel has been sober for nearly six months – 156 days. But day 157 is going to be a tough one! This is a thrilling book with great characters. I found all the politics and tension between the different cultures – Zulus, Xhosa, and Coloreds (mixed race and South Asian) slightly confusing (despite having read Born a Crime, which explains a lot of the background) but still enjoyed the story. We don’t find out what Rachel has that the criminals want until near the end and I absolutely could not guess what it might be! The book was originally written in Afrikaans but as far as I can tell it loses nothing in the translation to English. Despite being the second in a series I didn’t feel like I had missed anything too vital. I found this one randomly in a free bookcase but wouldn’t be averse to buying other books by this author in the future. 4 stars.

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella. Katie – or Cat, as she is known at work – Brenner has the perfect life, with a flat in London and a glamorous job at a branding company… or so her Instagram feed would suggest. Okay, she actually rents a tiny room in a shared flat where she doesn’t even have space for a wardrobe, has a nightmare commute to a lowly admin job and the life she shares on Instagram isn’t actually hers. But one day her dreams are bound to come true, right. Fake it til you make it and all that. But then her not-so-perfect life comes crashing down when her boss, the mega-successful Demeter who she has been desperately trying to emulate, gives her the sack and Katie is forced to move home to Somerset. When Demeter books in for a glamping holiday on Katie’s family’s farm, she can’t resist the opportunity to get revenge. But does Demeter – the woman who seemingly has everything – really have such an idyllic life. Maybe the two women have more in common than it seems? This is a quick read for how long it is (431 pages) and there’s quite a bit of humour in it. Katie is a little annoying at times, but it’s less fluffy than I was expecting and has a good message underneath. The love interest (because obviously there is one) is fairly forgettable and honestly I would have been fine with this being a book about someone finding themselves without any added romance, but it was fine. Ultimately, this will probably be a fairly forgettable book but it was the perfect not-too-taxing read for baby nap times. 3.5 stars.

For my final Show Us Your Books post it would have been nice to say all the books I read were by BIPOC/BAME authors, but alas none of them were. Even Deon Meyer is a white South African – although I feel like the fact that the book was originally written in Afrikaans makes it somewhat diverse? No? Okay. Anyway, I am linking up with Steph and Jana forthe very last time and you really should click on one of those two names and go and check out what the rest of this amazing book community has been reading since the last link up.

What I read in April 2022

Second Tuesday of the month already! That means it’s books day. As always, I am linking up with Steph and Jana. In April I managed to read a whole 4 books! I am slowly learning how to read while she feeds – although I still end up being forced to stop if she gets too wriggly and distracted.

Beach Read by Emily Henry. January is a hopeless romantic who has always believed that anyone’s life can be wonderful if they just look at things the right way… at least until her beloved father passes away and she discovers he wasn’t the man she thought he was. Spending the summer in a lake house she never knew he owned, she finds herself living next door to none other than her college rival, Augustus. Gus is a serious literary type who thinks true love is a fairy-tale. There’s no way the two of them are ever going to get on. But they actually have more in common than you’d think: They’re both broke. They’ve got crippling writer’s block. They need to write bestsellers before the end of the summer. The result? A bet to see who can get their book published first. The catch? They have to swap genres. The risk? In telling each other’s stories, their worlds might be changed entirely… This is cute but at the same time darker than I was expecting. It does go into some deeper issues alongside the cute romance. The writing style was a little odd at times – at one point January describes something as being “atop” something. Who uses the word “atop” when just thinking to themselves?! I enjoyed it though despite little things like that throwing me out of the story and gave it 4 stars.

Damsel Distressed by Imogen Keegen has never had a happily ever after – in fact, she doesn’t even think they’re possible. Ever since her mother’s death seven years ago, Imogen has been in and out of therapy, struggled with an “emotionally disturbed” special ed. label, and loathed her perma-plus-sized status. When Imogen’s new stepsister, the evil and gorgeous Carmella (aka Ella) Cinder, moves in, Imogen begins losing grip on the pieces she’s been trying to hold together. The only things that gave her solace – the theatre, cheese fries, and her best friend, Grant – aren’t enough to save her from her pain this time. While Imogen is enjoying her moment in the spotlight after the high school musical, the journal pages containing her darkest thoughts get put on display. Now, Imogen must resign herself to be crushed under the ever-increasing weight of her pain, or finally accept the starring role in her own life story. And maybe even find herself a happily ever after. As far as I can tell as a non-sufferer, this is a good representation of anxiety and depression. However I just did not like Imogen. It felt like she was hiding behind her mental illness as an excuse for being just not a very nice person. Yes some people are mean to her (make comments about her weight, etc.) but Imogen is horrible to other people as well. She complains that her dad sprung his marriage on her but she literally says she didn’t want to know about his relationship – I guess she wanted him to spend the rest of his life alone and in mourning? So the fact that she lost her mother is obviously a perfectly reasonable excuse to be horrible to/about her stepmother who is nothing but kind to Imogen throughout the book. And this is when Imogen has supposedly been doing well with her mental health – she only starts to spiral during the book when her stepsister shows up. And speaking of the stepsister (Carm)Ella, she’s portrayed as being completely evil just for the sake of it with no redeeming features. But before she even does a single nasty thing Imogen seems to hate her for being pretty and wearing tight/short clothing… i.e. Imogen total slut shames her although at that point there’s no evidence that Ella even acts slutty (and even if there were who is Imogen to judge? Imogen who hates being judged herself). Eventually there are some hints that Ella’s life maybe hasn’t been so perfect but by that time the reader has already been led to believe that poor Imogen is the victim of the nasty stepsister who hated her on sight for literally no reason at all. Most of the other supporting characters are too good to be true: the best friend straight out of Dawson’s Creek, the new girl who is actually nice and doesn’t realise how pretty she is, the nauseatingly adorable gay couple, one of whom just happens to be *amazing* with a needle and thread. And when Imogen messes up they’ve all already forgiven her before she even attempts to apologise. The writing actually isn’t bad and like I said the representation of mental illness seems to be realistic and isn’t glamourised or trivialised. Maybe it’s a me problem rather than a book problem. Either way I found this one just okay. 2.5 stars.

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones. Almost ten years ago, on the last day of hunting season, Lewis, Ricky, Gabe and Cass, young Blackfeet men, did something they would come to regret. Even at the time they knew it was wrong, but caught up in the adrenaline of the moment, of the hunt, they got carried away. Now, with the anniversary coming up, Lewis, who is now married to a white woman and living far from the Reservation, begins to be haunted by images of that day as an entity tracks the childhood friends hellbent on getting revenge. I really enjoyed the beginning of this book and the final third-ish. Parts of it were really slow though and I didn’t always love the writing style. It’s certainly a good book, just not quite for me. 3 stars.

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin. Seventeen-year-old Lenni is stuck on the terminal ward of a Glasgow hospital, but even while knowing she’s dying she still wants nothing more than to live for as long as she has left. After finding out that patients have to be allowed to visit the chapel for religious reasons, she jumps at the chance to see a new part of the hospital. There, she meets and befriends the hospital priest, Father Arthur. meanwhile, eighty-three year old Margot is in the same hospital. When Lenni and Margot meet in an art class, Lenni realises that their combined age is 100… and so the two of them decide to paint a picture for each year of their lives. As they are painting, each of them tells the story of these key events – from Lenni’s childhood in Sweden and her mother’s struggles with mental health to the devastating loss that led Margot to leave Glasgow for London and eventually meet the two great loves of her life. This book is an absolute joy, which may seem an odd thing to say considering it’s about a terminally ill teenager, but it really is. Lenni is fantastic – it seems so unfair that she’s dying – and Margot’s story is fascinating. I loved the supporting characters as well, especially Father Arthur who is a sweetheart and a great sport about Lenni’s questions. There’s a story involving homeless man that seemed a bit random and I’m not exact sure why it was in there but I absolutely devoured the rest, and yes I cried at the end. 4 stars.

That’s all from me for this month. Don’t forget to check out the link up!

What I read in March 2022

I had forgotten that today was Show Us Your Books, which is why I’m writing this post late in the day after baby bedtime (well, I say baby bedtime but I’ve just put her down for the third time so we’ll see…). Luckily it won’t take too long since I only read three books in March. But that’s one more than in January or February so I’ll take it. I’m linking up with Steph and Jana, as always.

The Beast and the Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips (The Beast and the Bethany #1). Beauty comes at a price. And no one knows that better than Ebenezer Tweezer, who has stayed young and beautiful for 511 years. How, you may wonder? Ebenezer simply has to feed the beast in the attic of his mansion. In return for meals of performing monkeys, statues of Winston Churchill, and the occasional cactus, Ebenezer gets potions that keep him young and beautiful, as well as other presents. But with every meal the beast grows greedier, and one day he announces that he’d like to eat a nice, juicy child next. Ebenezer has never done anything quite this terrible to hold onto his wonderful life. Still, he finds the absolutely snottiest, naughtiest, and most frankly unpleasant child he can and prepares to feed her to the beast. But the child, Bethany, may just be more than Ebenezer bargained for. She’s certainly a really rather rude houseguest, but Ebenezer still finds himself wishing she didn’t have to be gobbled up after all. Could it be Bethany is less meal-worthy and more…friend-worthy? This is a fun and very quick read. I loved the characters. They were really well written, even the side characters really came to life. Some of the humour was a little silly for my tastes but the right kind of child would love it. And despite the humour this is a surprisingly dark book so that balances out the silliness a bit. There are also a few things in the book that are obviously catering to adult readers – the most obvious being the reference to The Picture of Dorian Grey (except instead of a painting in the attic it’s a beast) but there were also references to a few other classics that I can’t remember now. Anyway, I gave it 4 stars.

Bonkers: My Life in Laughs by Jennifer Saunders. This is the biography of comedian Jennifer Saunders, most famous as one half of comedy duo French and Saunders and Bolly-swilling Edina from the TV series Absolutely Fabulous. It’s entertaining enough but there seemed to be a lot missing. The part about how she went from being friends with Ade Edmondson to marrying him is *very* brief – I’m still not really sure how they got together. Mainly she talks a lot about her friendship with Dawn French and how her various comedy projects came about while only briefly skimming over anything really personal, which seems to defeat the object of an autobiography. Also, as she herself frankly admits, her early life was fairly boring (which is good for her of course – a childhood free of drama and tragedy is definitely worth having!). It passed the time well enough though and the parts about writing/making Ab Fab were interesting. I read Dawn French’s autobiography a while ago and liked that a lot more (plus it made me cry). Three stars for this one. Read it if you’re a Jennifer Saunders/Ab Fab mega-fan, otherwise give it a miss.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. A cannon. A strap. A piece. A biscuit. A burner. A heater. A chopper. A gat. A hammer. A tool. For RULE. Or, you could just call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans when he enters the elevator in his apartment building. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s heading now, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? With each floor the elevator stops at, somebody else who’s connected to Will’s brother gets on. Somebody who can fill in another, bigger part of the picture Will thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if Will gets off that elevator. I really liked this It’s a really interesting way to tell a story and the story itself is thought provoking. For some reason I didn’t find it as emotional as I expected to but that’s probably a me thing. It was almost like I didn’t know Will enough to feel sad for his loss. It’s a good, quick read though. 4 stars.

That’s all I’ve got for you. Three books. One by a BIPOC/BAME author. For more book reviews make your way over to the link up. And make a note of Tuesday, 10th May for the next one.

November 2021 recap

I’ve been meaning to write this post since February and it’s now almost April so let’s do this shall we… otherwise I’m still going to be banging on about last year in 2023!

After being rehospitalised at the end of October I was back on oral medication to prevent contractions and sent home again on 3 November. This time I was not allowed to work at all. Luckily I was only actually planning on working until the 5th since I had annual leave I still needed to take, so I only got a sick note for a couple of days. I then spent a week at home mostly in bed but also sorting out a few things that needed to be sorted before the birth. I managed to post out both a Christmas card and my cousin’s birthday present to New Zealand… only for them to still not arrive until after Christmas, but that’s another story! I also got together the documents I needed to register the birth. (Jan didn’t sort his part in time though, which has resulted in a right palaver with her surname, but again that’s another story).

On 9 November I went for an ultrasound. Because of the operation, I was supposed to go for one once a week to make sure the placenta was still working and baby was growing properly. I was expecting it to be routine, and almost everything looked great but the doctor noticed my amniotic fluid was low. I then had an appointment with another doctor (the first was just doing the ultrasound), who did a swab to test for leaking amniotic fluid sent me for a CTG (see my last monthly recap if you don’t know what that is). The CTG looked good and the swab was negative. I had also asked the doctor about a vaccination for whooping cough, which I had been recommended to get while I was in hospital for the operation. He sent the nurse to check whether they had any and they did so I got that as well. Finally I saw yet another doctor – the second one having only been standing in for her while she was on her break! She was fairly clueless about what was going on but decided I should be admitted to the hospital in Zurich. But this time I was sent home to pack and make my own way there instead of being transported in an ambulance so at least I knew they weren’t too worried! The doctor said she would let Zurich know I was coming so home I went… having been at the hospital for about 3 hours by this time! At home I packed then hung around waiting for ages because Jan decided he needed to finish something before driving me to Zurich. We finally arrived at the hospital around 9 p.m. where I first had to go to the Labour and Delivery floor for another CTG, two ultrasounds (a normal and an internal one) and another swab for amniotic fluid. The doctor was convinced it was going to be positive but it was not. After some discussion about whether I should have a booster of the injection for the baby’s lung development they decided to leave it for the time being and admit me to the prenatal ward, where I had been the other two times I was in hospital. Jan had to leave at around 11 p.m. to take the car back and I was finally taken up to the ward around midnight. The next morning the doctor came round and told me the plan… basically we would just wait, constantly monitor the situation and try and get me as far as possible. As long as baby was still doing well I would be allowed to continue the pregnancy but I definitely wouldn’t be going home. That was pretty much as I had expected and I agreed that hospital was the best place for me to be, so that’s where I stayed for the rest of November (and part of December, but we’re not there yet). The surgeon who was in charge of my case and would be doing my C-section also came to see me and explained her theory of what was going on… basically she thought there was a tiny hole at the site of the internal incision and amniotic fluid was leaking from there into my abdomen. The two swabs for amniotic fluid had come back negative because my waters hadn’t broken as such, and so there was no risk of infection and it was deemed safe for me to stay pregnant.

The view from my hospital room on 26 November 2021

For the rest of November I did crossword puzzles, read, walked around the ward and chatted to my various room mates. One person had already been in there for about 4 weeks and stayed there with me until 1 December, when she finally bled one too many times and was taken to have her daughter. Another person was only there for 5 days before giving birth to her daughter, whose original due date was the exact dame as Zyma’s – 6 January! We’re still in touch via the occasional WhatsApp message. Various other women came and went, some just for one night, some for a little longer. And for a few days I was even completely on my own… in a room meant for 3! Every day I had a CTG in the morning and another in the evening, every three days I had an ultrasound, and at some point I ended up back on IV meds to prevent contractions. It was boring and sometimes lonely (Jan couldn’t visit that often since he had to work) but every single day that I was able to stay pregnant was an absolute gift. I knew the longer baby stayed in the better things would be for her, and since she would already have spina bifida to deal with I really didn’t want her to end up with any additional issues from being born prematurely. So I embraced the boredom and kept myself occupied as best I could. And so, eventually, November passed and I made it to the month in which. no matter what, I would be having a baby!
December 2021 recap coming soon. Well, I say soon, but clearly I can’t promise anything…

Three months of Zyma

How is my baby three months old? It feels like only last week that I was writing the previous update!

Sleeping on mama again

So, we’re three months in and it feels like we’re starting to get the hang of things. One time I even put her in the carrier and went shopping with her in town – alone since Jan is back at work now. Mostly still from home but last week he actually spent three days in the office. Naturally Zyma chose the first of those days to be extra fussy so I didn’t even manage a shower!

Within days of me publishing my two month post Zyma started to coo and it’s the cutest sound ever. At first it was sporadic but over the past three days or so she’s been becoming increasingly vocal. I think babbling may arrive soon! She’s also started smiling, which just melts my heart. Jan and I don’t get many of them though – she reserves most of them for the mobile that hangs above her changing mat. In fairness it is an amazing mobile! The girlfriend of one of Jan’s colleagues made it and I would happily have paid actual money for one. Zyma still isn’t the biggest fan of nappy changes but for the ones where she does stay calm she’ll lie and coo up at her mobile – provided we keep it spinning!

Not the best photo but flowers! Bees!

Last week baby girl got her harness off. The doctor was really pleased with her and how quickly things resolved. We have to go back for a check up after 6 weeks but hopefully all will be well and we’ll be done with the subject of hip dysplasia. Not having to deal with a harness makes tummy time so much easier and she’s getting really good at lifting her head, as long as she’s propped up on a pillow. It’s still too difficult when lying flat so she mostly just complains or lies there and licks the mat. She passed the 4.5 kg (9 lb 14 oz) mark recently, meaning she’s actually deviating from her curve now. She’s always been around the 10th percentile; now she’s slowly creeping towards the 25th. She also had her first set of vaccinations at the end of February and Jan said that she didn’t even flinch! (He went with her because I finally got round to arranging my postpartum check up and the appointment ended up being at the same time as hers). After the jabs I relaxed slightly about being out in public, so she’s now been to two hospital appointments on the bus and we’ve taken the tram into town instead of walking.

I am still always tired (even though she mostly only wakes up twice at night now – except last night when it was 4 times!) but I am incredibly happy. It’s such a privilege to watch her grow and interact a little more every day. My next update will be at 6 months when I expect she’ll have changed beyond all recognition!

On a sort of side note, as well as being Zyma’s three month birthday, today is the three month anniversary of my due date for the twins. We love our little girl with all our hearts but that doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten our boys. I can’t even imagine how my life would have been with two three year olds running around but it definitely wouldn’t have been dull! l love you and miss you, teeny stars ⭐🌟.

What I read in February 2022

First of all thank you to everyone who made suggestions for how to read with a small baby (I’m not sure I can continue calling her a newborn now she’s coming up 12 weeks!). Back when I wrote that post Zyma would regularly fall asleep while breastfeeding and have to constantly be reminded to drink. She’s much better now – although her new thing is wriggling and pulling and turning her head, which is slightly distracting and not really compatible with reading! I have actually remembered to bring my book into the living room in the morning for the last few weeks though, so I managed to do some reading while she napped (on me), but I’ve recently had to turn my attention to cross stitch (for a new baby gift). I can only pursue one hobby at a time so February was another two-book month.

I’m linking up with Steph and Jana as always even though I don’t have much to say! Here are the two books I read in February.

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave. Before Owen Michaels disappears, he manages to smuggle a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her. Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall immediately knows to whom the note refers: Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey who lost her mother tragically as a child and wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother. As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered; as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss; as a US Marshal and FBI agents show up, Hannah quickly realises her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity – and why he really disappeared. Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth, together, and as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon find themselves building a new future as well. One neither Hannah nor Bailey could have anticipated. I feel like everyone and their dog was reading this last year so it was time I finally caught up! I really enjoyed this book. It wasn’t always totally believable but it kept me sucked in. If I didn’t have a newborn to care for I would have finished it in a day. I didn’t love the epilogue but it was nice to have some closure. Not sure I would really describe it as a thriller though. It’s somewhat suspenseful but not really thrilling. Anyway, 4 stars.

City of Rust by Gemma Fowler. Railey dreams of winning the drone races with her bio-robotic gecko friend, Atti. But when a bounty hunter crashes their biggest race yet, the pair are forced to flee to the feared Junker clans who mine the rubbish orbiting the Earth. Rescued by a couple of Junker kids, they discover a danger bigger than anything they’d imagined – but can three kids, a gecko and an ancient computer save the world against the huge trash bomb (and its power-crazed creator) threatening to destroy the world? This is a fun read with lots and action. I loved Atti! Some parts were confusing and I felt like a few of the characters could have been fleshed out more (Care) but it’s an enjoyable enough story and something I could imagine reading with my daughter in the future. 3.5 stars.

That’s it. Once again neither of the books I read were by BAME/BIPOC authors. Not the greatest start to THE year on that front! My goal for March is to read 3 books. Wish me luck! Check out the link up for more book reviews.

Two months of Zyma

I think if I write one of these every month it will be a bit much – especially since I don’t want this to turn into a “mummy blog”, so after the next one we’ll cut it down to quarterly. But this month we’re doing it. So.

It’s now been two months in my new reality. The one where I’m constantly covered in breast milk – either in its pure form or after it’s already spent some time in the baby. We have about a dozen muslins/burp cloths but she has a real talent for juuust missing them. I knew we would be washing a lot of baby clothes but never expected quite so many of my own to be in the mix! I also had to buy some tops after realising just how few items of clothing I own that are suitable for breastfeeding!

In all honesty month two has been exhausting – and we have a relatively easy baby! Since about 5 weeks all she has seemed to want to do is eat and since she gets most of her nourishment directly from me you can imagine what that means. Choosing the right time to shower is a fine balancing act! All the feeding is paying off though… Zyma has passed the 3.5 kg mark (that’s 7 lb 11 oz). She’s still a tiny little thing but she’s following her own curve perfectly.

First time breastfeeding in public! (Photo by my mother)

Apart from being a hungry hungry hippo… did you know babies can forget how to pooh? Or rather at first they just let it flow then they realise they actually need to do something but some babies don’t quite get it. As my midwife explained all women should engage their pelvic floor much before something that causes abdominal pressure – like sneezing or lifting something heavy (hands up who actually does though. Lol.) Babies apparently do this automatically, including while trying to push out pooh. Unfortunately that means they’re straining against a closed door, so to speak. The result is that poohing (or passing gas) involves a lot of straining coupled with straight up wailing. The internet says crying provides the pressure to get the pooh out and the babies aren’t actually in pain but she certainly sounds like she’s in pain and her poor little face goes bright red! She’s slowly starting to have more bowel movements without straining than with so I’m hoping we’re turning a corner. And of course in our case it’s good that she’s straining to pooh since that means she can feel that she has to go and the spina bifida hopefully hasn’t affected her bowel function. I just wish there was something I could do to help her!

Holding daddy’s hand

But despite the difficulties please don’t think I’m complaining. I’m still absolutely in love with my baby girl and can’t believe she’s mine. Sometimes when she’s sleeping on me I’ll literally just stare at her in awe of her cuteness. As for Zyma, she loves mama milk and baths, hates nappy changes, getting washed with a flannel (full baths are only once a week) and being put down so mammy can eat with two hands. She’s started following objects with her eyes and head, stares at her black and white contrast books and always behaves well for doctors – even when she has to have an ultrasound. Her hip dysplasia is already looking much better and the doctor is really pleased with her, but the harness is staying on for a while longer just to be certain. I can’t wait to see what the next month will bring! We’re hoping for some real smiles…

October 2021 recap

I am slowly, slowly catching up with these monthly recap posts. This one and the next one should be relatively short though.

I started the month in hospital recovering from my (and baby’s!) operation. The nurses encouraged me to get up and moving as soon as possible so I spent a lot of time walking around the ward. In the second week I even ventured outside (with my trusty companion the IV stand. Lol.) I read a little, did crosswords and at some point a lady came round with colouring materials so I spent some time colouring in two pictures. I intended to send them to Post Pals children but I haven’t got round to it yet.

Exactly two weeks after the surgery I was allowed to go home with strict instructions for what I was allowed to do – absolutely no housework and for the first week I even had a doctor’s note for work. I spent that week mostly in bed reading and resting. Jan’s sister then came to stay for the weekend – not that I did much then either, other than play a board game. She and Jan went for a walk but it was too far for me.

I then briefly went back to work, but only did around 5-6 hours per day. Luckily I still had plenty of overtime that needed to be used up!

A week after my return to work I had an appointment for an ultrasound. The night before I barely slept because I kept feeling my uterus go hard, so in the morning I called in sick and then called the hospital to see whether I could come in earlier. They gave me an appointment with a midwife and I went for a CTG – a procedure that monitors the baby’s heart rate, foetal movement and uterine activity. Sure enough it turned out I was having constant Braxton Hicks or practice contractions. I then hung around at the hospital, had another CTG and went to my ultrasound appointment, where everything looked great. The contractions were a problem though because of the risk of the stitches from the operation rupturing so it was decided that I would be admitted and given IV meds to stop the contractions. I called Jan to bring me some stuff and went upstairs where I got another CTG and spoke to a midwife. The hospital also contacted the hospital in Zurich who said they would like me to be transferred to them, so once I’d seen the doctor and started on the meds an ambulance came to transport me to Zurich. I ended up staying there for a week and coming home on 3 November so that brings us to the end of October and thus the end of this recap.

What I read in January 2022

Good morning! It’s book day again with Steph and Jana. Before I get on to my reviews can I just say I have no idea how other parents of young children manage to read! Currently baby still takes caffeine citrate in the morning and she gets that together with a bottle that her dad gives her meanwhile I am pumping the milk for the next day’s bottle and I generally use that time to read. Other than that any time I’m not breastfeeding, winding, changing, comforting or just holding the baby is used for things that need to get done – like organising my COVID booster jab (this Thursday if you’re interested). Anyway, by reading while pumping I managed to get through two books.

Holy Island by L. J. Ross. Forced to take sabbatical leave from his duties as a homicide detective, Detective Chief Inspector Ryan retreats to Holy Island off the Northumbrian coast. A few days before Christmas, his peace is shattered and he is thrust back into the murky world of murder when a young woman is found dead amongst the ancient ruins of the nearby Priory. When former local girl Dr Anna Taylor arrives back on the island as a police consultant, old memories swim to the surface making her confront her difficult past. She and Ryan struggle to work together to hunt a killer who hides in plain sight, while pagan rituals and small-town politics muddy the waters of their investigation. I was excited for this book because it’s set in Northumberland (I’ve been to Lindesfarne or “Holy Island” many times, although not for years) and I definitely enjoyed the setting.The detective main character is a total cliché. Of course he has a tragic backstory! And I found myself rolling my eyes every time yet another woman on the island talked about how gorgeous he was. The blurb describes this as a detective novel but there’s a romance aspect that reads like it’s trying to be a Mills and Boon. Not that I have a problem with romance as a genre but here it feels it feels out of place and like the author should have stuck to one or the other. Plus the main character is pretty sexist and should not have been sleeping with that person in the first place. The actual crime/detective story is somewhat predictable but not bad – I was intrigued enough to read to the end. The epilogue ending is pretty far-fetched though. 2.5 stars.

Rise of the World Eater by Jamie Littler (Frostheart book 3). Ash faces his greatest challenge yet as the evil Wraith leader Shaard unleashes the dreaded Devourer from its centuries-long imprisonment. Only by uniting can the peoples of the Snow Sea hope to stand against the monster’s wrath, but as the Devourer targets the stronghold of Aurora, the tribes remain as divided as ever. In a last desperate move, Ash and the crew of the Frostheart journey to the yeti lands, where humans are forbidden, in search for the truth about the Devourer’s origins, and the one weakness that may prove its undoing. This is the third and final book in this series and it was definitely a worthy ending. It was great to learn more about Tobu’s past and I really enjoyed seeing Ash coming out of Tobu’s and Lunah’s shadows and learning to take action by himself. The Frostheart’s crew were as awesome as ever and really showed that they are there for each other no matter what. I was a little frustrated at times at just how many things had to go wrong along the way but overall I thought this was another fantastic book. 4 stars.

Neither of the books I read in January was by a BAME/BIPOC author so I haven’t got off to a great start on that front but oh well. The year is still young. Check out the link up for more book reviews from people who have more time than I do!