Iceland

Little Willie and I have made it back safely from Iceland.  Rather than a babymoon, I actually went with a friend.  She and I had talked about an international trip together for her 35th birthday this month.  I told her that by May 2015, I might be pregnant, but that I’d still be willing to travel.  Sure enough, it happened pretty quickly so at 25 weeks I was near the max gestational age I anticipated I might be.  I think it worked out well, since if I traveled at the peak of first trimester nausea that wouldn’t have been very fun.

The trip was great, and I’d highly recommend Iceland to anyone.  We chose Iceland because we’d heard how beautiful it was.  Also, it’s a very safe country in terms of crime, everyone speaks English, and the water and food are very safe.  Since the water comes from glaciers, you can drink straight from the faucet.  Peak season starts in June, so we were there just before peak.  That means we risked colder and rainier weather, but we didn’t get as much of the summer crowds.  What’s trippy is that the sun doesn’t set until about 11:15 pm, and then the sun rises in the 3:00 hour.  We never stayed up that late, but we hear it doesn’t get fully dark.  It was definitely weird going to sleep with the sun still out, and waking up the first couple days with jet lag at 4 am and the sun being up.

Since they drive on the right side of the road, we rented a car and drove easily from place to place.  We didn’t have enough time during our weeklong trip to go around the entire island, so we stayed in the western and northern areas.  The country has such beautiful and varied scenery.  It’s not unusual to see the ocean along with snow-capped mountains in the same view.  This was a coastal town called Hellnar:

Hellnar

The view was gorgeous, but it was actually really windy and cold walking around outside.  There are a lot of natural wonders like waterfalls, geysers, and these mud pots in Myvatn:

Mud Pots

The mud pots involve blue clay-like material bubbling up from the ground.  You can see them steaming in the photo above.

It was very peaceful and scenic just driving around the country.  Aside from the capital of Reyjavik, the rest of the places we visited were small towns.  Along our drive, we saw a lot of sheep, goats, and Icelandic horses (which are smaller than regular horses and look like ponies).

Sheep

Some of the other highlights of our trip were a lava cave tour and a whale & puffin watching sailboat tour.

We love to eat, so that was an important part of our trip.  We weren’t quite sure how the food would be, but it was better than expected.  In many of the small towns, there would just be one or two food options.  We’d go into a cafe, and they’d pretty much just have one soup with homemade bread, and maybe a panini option.  Given the chilly weather, the soup was really satisfying.  They tended towards tomato-based soups with seafood and veggies.  One place added chunks of peaches, which was a surprisingly tasty addition.  You can tell that their bread really was homemade- it tasted like something that I’d make in my own kitchen, but better.  Although we did eat bread regularly and have dessert with most of our dinners, I felt like overall we were eating good home cooking.  The meat choices were mainly seafood and lamb.  They had beef occasionally, but I never saw chicken offered.  I was afraid that veggies would be harder to come by, but we did eat them regularly as part of soup, or sometimes as a salad.

I admit I didn’t stay super strict when it comes to pregnancy precautions.  I wanted to try their smoked Arctic char, and at one fancy restaurant I tried some exotic meats like cured horse meat and reindeer pate.

The lodgings we stayed at were mostly guest houses- smaller places but nicely kept.  They’d typically offer a breakfast spread involving bread, lunch meat, cheese, and some veggies and fruit.  The common breakfast veggies were tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers.  This was the nicest breakfast spread we had:

BreakfastBreakfast 2

The above place also had freshly made pancakes and little shot glass sized servings of skyr, which is the Icelandic yogurt.  It’s similar to Greek yogurt which is also strained, so it’s nice and thick.  I enjoyed buying some at the supermarkets in Iceland.  Lucky for me, Whole Foods sells the Siggi’s brand of Icelandic style yogurt, so I can still get some and reminisce about my Iceland trip.

Sigh, back to work tomorrow.  Which means the next time I’ll have a “vacation” is when I go on maternity leave in a few months.

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Damned if I do, damned if I don’t

I’ll be 24 weeks tomorrow, and I’m still feeling sick if I eat too much.  As long as I continue to feel this way, I’ve given up on being Paleo.  It’s amazing how strong the urge is to eat carbs.  And sugar tastes SOO good.  My husband and I went to visit his co-worker who recently had her first baby, and she said she’s never had a sweet tooth before her pregnancy, and doesn’t have one now that the baby was born.  But during the pregnancy, she loved sweets.  Thankfully she didn’t get gestational diabetes and she had a normal vaginal delivery (and she’s a super tiny gal).

That is definitely my fear, though.  While I’ve learned to try not to feel too guilty about giving into my urges for carbs and sweets, I still want to be careful, particularly with the sugar.

On the other hand, I still haven’t been gaining enough weight.  I started my prenatal care with a doctor whose office is near where I live, which was convenient to start, and also I didn’t want my pregnancy to be public at my office early on.  With my next visit and for the rest of the pregnancy, I’ll switch to one of my colleagues in the office where I work, and I plan to deliver at the hospital I work at.

With the first doctor, since I don’t work with her and didn’t know her before my first prenatal appointment with her, I have more of a patient-doctor relationship with her.  So when she pointed out that I haven’t gained much weight, it did make me try to change my eating habits.  Well, at least for a couple days.  I thought maybe I could try to snack more or something.  But when it came down to it, I have been wanting so bad to be able to eat more, but with large meals I feel sick, and then I don’t feel like eating again for a while.  I try to snack at work between meals, but on busy days when I’m seeing patient after patient, it’s tough to sneak much in, just a few bites.  Even on weekends, I still find it hard to eat smaller amounts more frequently because food is just so tasty as I’m eating it, and it’s hard to stop short of feeling full.  Ultimately, since I’m eating fairly normal amounts, so I figure Little Willie is doing just fine in there, and I’m not going to make myself sick just so I can meet the numbers goals.

At 23 weeks, I’ve gained 7 lbs from my baseline before pregnancy.  I feel like I’m constantly fighting the battle of knowing I’m not gaining enough, and feeling guilty for wanting to eat so many carbs.  So that’s why I feel like I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t.  No matter what I do, I can’t win so long as I’m limited by feeling gross if I eat too much.  So for now, I’m trying to keep a balance- allowing myself not to be Paleo, but trying not to go totally crazy with the sugar and carbs.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my upcoming glucola test for gestational diabetes will be negative.  Next week, I’ll be in Iceland (!) so based on my schedule, I’ll have to do the test after I get back.

Creepy Fetal Movement

I started feeling Little Willie moving at 18 weeks.  Women who have been through it before are known to start feeling fetal movement around 16 weeks, but usually we first-timers start a little later.  By 18 weeks, I started feeling sensations in the middle of my lower abdomen where I knew he must be, and the sensations were definitely different from just normal gas and such.  But I’ve had patients at 20 weeks who still weren’t sure if they were feeling fetal movement or not.

I’d previously had a patient tell me that the fetal movement was kind of creepy, and I didn’t get it.  It’s uncommon for women to put it that way.  The way that it had been described to me was that it was a little fluttering.  One of my OB friends said it felt like a fish flopping around, though I figure she was describing how it feels when you’re farther along.

I’d say more so than creepy, unsettling would be a better way to describe it.  Before this, the only similar sensation I’d ever had in that area was with gas or diarrhea.  So when I feel the little movements, it’s reminiscent of the grumbling you get there with diarrhea, minus the accompanied sensation in the rectum and urge to run to the restroom.  Initially, I feel the fetal movement in the front of the lower abdomen and it reminds me of diarrhea, which for a split second strikes in me a mild fear.  I’d never heard anyone compare fetal movement to diarrhea before, but I’m telling you, that’s what it reminds me of.

What was fun was that at 20 weeks, my husband put his hand on my belly, and just seconds after, Little Willie moved strongly enough for my husband to feel it.  I wasn’t expecting that to happen so early, but it was nice.  Of course, after that my husband kept trying, and it wouldn’t necessarily happen.

I’m sure once he’s bigger and occupying more space higher up, things will change.  I mean at some point, we’ll be seeing him moving around Alien-style by just looking at my abdomen.

I felt my first contraction at 21 weeks, which was also a little unsettling.  I had just completed some ab exercises, and at first thought it was related to that, but then I realized it was just the lower abdomen that was getting hard.  Since then, I get a little paranoid with these new sensations down there, knowing I’m still so early (22 weeks).  I’ve realized now that sometimes I guess he just occupies one side, so then it’ll be more hard on one side of my lower abdomen temporarily.  And at this stage, it’s still mild, but I’m getting a sense of what women mean when they say they feel pelvic pressure, which is a different sensation.

For a while now, I’ve realized that I’ll feel the urge to pee early, but if I go right when I start feeling it, there won’t be much in my bladder.  So now I just have to tell myself I don’t really need to go yet, and I can hold it for normal amounts of time.

It’s very interesting actually experiencing all of these sensations for myself, after years of hearing my patients talk about them.