Thursday, October 26, 2006

Coping at Work

I think the thing I am finding most difficult to cope with is feeling so ill and still having to come into work. I can’t get anything done at all. My eyes are all blurry, my mind’s unwilling to jumpstart itself and my body just wants to crawl under the duvet and sleep the whole day.

And the thing is I haven’t told anyone at work that I am pregnant yet (I don’t have to officially until the 15th week before my EDD) so I can’t tell them the reason I feel so under the weather. They all think it’s a ‘bug’ going around because two other people in the office are off sick. I think I’ll beg off and go home now.

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The Fifty Pound Note

Have you ever paid for something using a £50 note? And have you ever noticed the reaction you got when the person behind the till noticed that you were paying for your items with a £50 note?

I never fail to be amazed at the fuss shops make when they see a £50 note. It’s like you’ve handed them a vial full of a deadly disease. The first reaction you get from the checkout person is a very funny look as if to say ‘where the hell did you get this, you unworthy cretin’, then the note is carefully scrutinized and rubbed between the thumb and the forefinger, then it’s held up to the light and if that is not enough, in some cases the shop manager is called to vet the offending note.

You know the feeling that overcomes you at passport control at Airports? You know the one I mean - feeling like a criminal in spite of the fact that you know all your documents are in order and your passport is certainly not fake? Well that’s the feeling that overcomes me on the rare occasions that I am opportuned to hand over a £50 note at the till of a shop.

I don’t get it. Every time it happens I feel like asking them whether or not it’s legal tender. One would think it wasn’t from the reaction you get.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Belly Churning ...

I promise that this will be the last post I make on feeling sick – after this I shall focus on the positives, okay? Like I always say, Pregnancy is not an illness.

But I have to tell you, I have been as sick as a dog. Everything just makes my stomach revolt and no sooner have I eaten something, I feel queasy again. I have managed to hold it all down but it’s been hard.

I am also being made queasy by smells around me – my shampoo, hand wash and soap all have me reaching for the retch bag. I am also incredibly tired and could sleep all day. Thankfully, this stage only lasts the first 12 weeks (I am about 7 weeks now) and after that I should be back to normal (at least I was the first time around).

I popped into Tesco before work this morning and got myself a pack of chargrilled chicken and red pepper pasta which I had for breakfast (yes, breakfast). Wasn’t bad – I avoided the little tub of salad dressing which it came with and enhanced the flavour with salt instead. So far so good, my stomach seems to be reluctantly embracing it.

My daughter is getting into the spirit of things by telling everyone within ear reach that ‘my mummy has a baby in her belly. And it’s going to get bigger and bigger and bigger’. Ahhh kids, there’s nothing like keeping a secret with them.

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Monday, October 23, 2006

The Joys of Morning Sickness

Awwwwwwwwww. Thank you so much everyone who left a comment. I have really been touched by your warmness and concern and interest – and to imagine that we don’t even know each other. The joys of blog land!

Oh, I must warn you that my blog may turn into a bit of a pregnancy diary over the next nine months, so please bear with me. I just hope I don’t bore you too much.

Warning! Do not read this post if you are about to have your lunch!

Just as I was beginning to think that I would escape the dreaded morning sickness it has stuck with a vengeance and I feel so pooped at the moment.

Now morning sickness is not really what you think it is – you don’t wake up in the morning, puke and that’s it for the day. No, morning sickness should actually be renamed Morning, Noon and Night sickness. It is a constant feeling of nausea which plagues you throughout the day (and night). When you eat, the food just sits there between your belly button and the bottom of your rib cage and it just doesn’t budge. Your stomach just churns constantly and it feels a bit like you’re carrying a piece of lead around with you. And the worst thing is that you want to puke but most of the time you can’t. Awful.

I didn’t get much sleep last night as I spent half of it with my head down the toilet bowl and because I had had a really spicy meal in the evening, my throat was pretty raw by the time I had emptied myself out. Oops, sorry if I’m being a bit graphic.

So I am avoiding spicy, greasy and fried foods. Today I am surviving on dry crackers, Heinz tinned soups and water with a bit of lemon squeezed into it. Not exactly a riveting menu. I also have a tin of mints by my bed.

I went to Boots and got myself a pair of motion sickness bands. These are knitted elasticated wrist bands, which claim to eliminate morning sickness by applying pressure on the acupressure points on your wrists by means of a plastic stud. If you are pregnant and you’re reading this, I have two words for you – DON’T BOTHER! What a rip off! I feel like going back to boots and demanding a refund and they’re pretty pricy at £8 a pop!! I guess they reckon that women get so desperate to get rid of their morning sickness that they would do or buy any thing. And they’re right – I’m living proof.

But apart from this and feeling constantly tired I guess I am doing pretty well.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Plus One More

I don’t think I can hold this news in any longer or else I will burst!

I am Pregnant with my second child!!!!!!!!!

It been a long two year journey to get here but get here we did in the end. Now where do I start?

When my daughter was a year and a half I finally made the conscious decision that I was ready to have another baby – before that I just wasn’t ready. I had found it difficult to cope being a first time mom and in hindsight I think I suffered a bit from post natal depression.

After about a year of trying nothing had happened. I began to wonder if anything was the matter – after all I got pregnant the first time without even thinking about it. Could it be the fact that I went on the Pill after I’d had my first child? Am I not relaxed enough (why does everyone tell you to ‘relax’ when you are trying for a baby?)? Have I put on weight? Am I too old? All sorts of thoughts were swirling around my head. Then in November of last year, bingo, I got pregnant but sadly I miscarried a few weeks later. However this helped get the ball rolling.

The next 10 months were filled with endless medical tests being carried out on me and my husband. Urine tests, sperm tests, blood tests, external scans, internal scans, internal examinations, and a hysterosalpingogram (HSG). On my medical notes, I was put in the category of Secondary Infertility. By this time any passion between the sheets had become a mechanical chore. There is something about trying for a baby for a long time and nothing happening that acts as a real passion killer. You get to a stage where you ask yourself what the point is.

But I think what I hated the most was

  1. Constantly being asked by people, ‘So when is number two coming?’ and

  2. Having the fact pointed out to me that I already had a beautiful little girl so I should be grateful.

Both situations elicited the same response from me, Piss Off! But I never voiced it of course; I just smiled through very tight lips and changed the subject.

(Listen, if you have a friend or sister who is trying for a child, please, please do not keep asking when number two is coming, or reminding them of what they already have.)

At the end of all these tests, the results showed that both my husband and I were okay. There was a slight possibility that I may have ovarian cysts but this turned out to be a false alarm (thank goodness).

I had my final visit with my Consultant Gynaecologist in September and I was prescribed a four month supply of the drug Clomid. All we now had to do was wait for my next period, take one Clomid tablet a day for five days and have lots of sex for the next twelve. Sounds fun, huh?

Within me, I balked at the idea of having to take a drug to get pregnant – I wanted to get pregnant naturally. But I had no choices left open to me. Prayers had long since ended and resignation had slowly but surely set in.

So I clutched my prescription for my Clomid and headed for the nearest pharmacy with the words of my consultant ringing in my ears:

‘Just chill out (yes she said that *smile*), relax (oh no) and the next time I see you, I want to see you with a baby.’ But (there is always a but) she added, ‘If after four months you are still not pregnant, we will have to refer you to the infertility clinic.’

Cheery news. What baffled me all the way through the numerous tests was how a perfectly normal fertile woman like myself, could suddenly become infertile.

I brought home the little white cardboard box with the word CLOMID printed on it in bold blue letters and sat it on my shelf and waited for my next period to arrive. And I waited, and waited and waited.

10 days late I dared to let this thought creep into my head ‘Could I be pregnant?’ It was a quiet thought but it carried so much hope. I approached my stash of pregnancy test strips (I had ordered hundreds of them during the period I was undergoing all those tests) and pulled out one of the white foil packets. Oh, how many times had I done this and gotten a negative result which left me devastated every time?

I tore open the foil packet, took a wee sample, and stuck the test strip into it and squeezed my eyes shut; please, please, please, please, please. Five seconds later, I pulled out the strip. I watched the wee soak its way up the strip past the control line and past the test line. Yes, there was the control line – a bright red – but wait, there was a SECOND LINE – the test line! POSITIVE!! I couldn’t believe it and I didn’t.

I so didn’t believe it that over the next four days I carried out four more pregnancy tests which all gave me the same results. At last, I could believe it. Then and only then did I break the news to my husband. We had done it and without Clomid!

Needless to say, we are both very happy and I wanted to share some of that happiness with you.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

To Share or Not To Share {Part 1}

Sitting together on the sofa last night my husband asked me an unexpected question.

‘How much do you think one should share in a marriage?

‘What do you mean?’ was my puzzled reply.

‘How much information should a husband/wife share in terms of what they are thinking or feeling?’ he expanded.

Knowing that this was leading somewhere interesting I sat up and paid more attention.

‘I would say everything. I think in marriage a husband/wife should share every area of their lives. There should be no secrets.’ (I felt a bit of a guilty prang when I said this but I’ll go into that later.) ‘But give me a specific example.’ I pressed.

‘For example,’ he ventured, ‘would you want to know if I was lusting after another woman?’

Talk about a question out of the blue! But I kept my composure.

‘Yeah, I guess so.’ I said a little uncertain. ‘Why? Are you lusting after someone else?’ I asked half jokingly.

‘No, of course not.’

‘But do you ever look at other women and think hmm….’

‘I would be lying if I said I didn’t, that’s just the way men are. But I don't take it any further than that. It’s how far you take it that matters.’

At the end of the conversation I was full of mixed feelings.

On the one hand I was happy my husband was being honest with me about such a sensitive subject but on the other hand it was one of those conversations that make you go Ummm.

I am one of those women that trusts her husband explicitly (I know some of you may be saying ‘more fool you’) but I also know that if I let things slide I could very easily be walking on thin ice.

You see, I do let things slide sometimes and I take my relationship with my husband very much for granted. I have bought into the idea that nothing can come between us. On the one hand it’s a good thing but on the other it’s an unrealistic place to be as it makes me complacent. I just assume that he will always be there and will only ever have eyes for me. But this isn’t always so, is it?

The truth is men do look at other women. It’s a fact of life and as much as we (women) hate this idea, it IS up to us to keep them interested (except of course you have done some very serious Okpor (juju) for him in which case he will never stray *smile*). Also it’s like marriage or a long term relationship changes us.

When we first start dating our partners we pull out all the stops. We do our hair, nails, go down the gym, visit the hairdressers once a week and generally make an effort to look stunning for them. And then we get married or settled in the relationship and everything just goes out the window. You know what I am talking about – we put on weight (sometimes), slop around the house with unkempt hair, jogging bottoms and stretched out t-shirts and expect our husbands/partners to salivate when they see us. And if there are kids on the scene, they are the ones who tend to get the blame for the way we look. Then we wonder why when our partners’ eyes begin to rove.

(Now I do know that some men are serial cheaters; those are not the ones I am referring to here.)

But I’ll tell you what gets me kick started into paying more attention to my relationship again - when I hear about a friend whose husband has strayed! It’s like the thought of it happening to me jump starts me into making a change. I become more attentive, I make more of an effort with the way I look, I start to notice him again (it’s true after being in a relationship for a long while; we tend not to ‘notice’ our partners). But then as the weeks go by, I calm down and stop making an effort. Why? Perhaps its human nature or perhaps I just hit my comfort zone again. I dunno.

To be continued…

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

How Honest Are You?

I’d like to ask you a question and I want you to be totally truthful when you answer it;

Just how honest are you with your friends?

I cannot recall the countless number of times I have watched women in shop changing room struggle into dresses two sizes too small in colours and styles that are totally unsuitable and I hear their companions, whom I assume are their friends, say ‘Oh, you look gorgeous in that. It’s really you!’

‘Say Whaaaaat?? Are you blind?’ I want to scream my disbelief.

But I think it’s something we have all done at one time or the other. It may not be necessarily clothes related but when feelings are involved we tend to tread carefully. However, there are times when trending carefully is not in the best interest of your friend (ship). So here are some random questions I’m going to throw out. Would you tell your friend …

1. That she has bad breath?

2. That the outfit she has on makes her look like a prostitute?

3. That her husband/partner is cheating on her?

4. When she moans to you for the umpteenth time about the state of her life that she should get off her bum and do something about it then?

5. That that hairstyle and red lipstick she has on does her no favours?

6. That her husband/partner tried to hit on you?

7. That you’ve both grown apart and it’s time to move on?

8. That you’re jealous of her – because she’s prettier/richer/smarter?

9. That you did the naughty with her current beau long before he met her?

10. That her fake English/American accent that she puts on sounds just that – Fake?

What’s your honestly threshold?

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Fours Meme

I was tagged by the Minx so here goes...

4 Jobs I've had in my life

1. Student (it felt like a job to me!)
2. Personal Assistant
3. Project Administrator
4. Handbag Designer/Maker

4 Fictional jobs I wish I had

1. Richard Branson’s Job (actually his money, not his job)
2. Any job that will take me around the world
3. Personal Shopper for the rich and famous
4. Co-host of The Oprah Show

4 Movies I could watch over and over again

1. Pretty Woman
2. What Women Want
3. Enemy of the State
4. Memoirs of a Geisha

4 Cities I've lived in

1. Lagos, Nigeria
2. Abuja, Nigeria
3. Berlin, Germany
4. Birmingham, England
... Goodness, how boring!

4 TV Shows I love to watch

1. The Apprentice
2. America’s Next Top Model
3. Oprah
4. What Not To Wear

4 Places I've been on Vacation to

1. Frankfurt, Germany
2. Paris, France
3. Tallin, Estonia
4. Kingston, Jamaica

4 Websites I visit daily

1. Blogger
3. Hotmail
4. Verity Free Writes

4 Of my favorite foods

1. Sauerkraut and Bratwurst
2. Pouded Yam and Ogbono
3. Lamb in the Oven
4. Peppered Gizzard/Snails

4 Things I won't eat

1. Beetroot
2. Celery
3. Stuff they make on Ready Steady Cook
4. Pickled Onions

4 Things I wish I could eat/drink right now

1. Esie Ewu (sp?)
2. Mama put
3. A tall cold glass of fresh lemonade
4. A fresh baguette

4 Things in my bedroom

1. My husband, still fast asleep in bed
2. Cream coloured throw rugs
3. A bucket armchair
4. Shelves of books

4 Things I wish I had in my bedroom

1. More Space
2. A walk in wardrobe
3. A music system
4. Silk sheets

4 Things you are wearing right now

1. A ratty black cardigan
2. Espadrilles
3. Mismatched pyjamas
4. The just-out-of-bed look

4 Places I'd rather be right now

1. Somewhere sunny
2. In bed
3. A place of wealth
4. Any place where I wouldn’t have to be doing this meme

4 Fictional places I'd rather be right now

1. By the pool of my $7m mansion, being waited on hand and foot
2. On my own private Island
3. Having a private viewing of the new Chanel winter collection
4. Taking delivery of my Jimmy Choo shoes specially designed for me.

4 People I would really love to have dinner with

1. Maya Angelou
2. Oprah
3. Chiamanda Adiechi
4. My husband

4 Things I am thinking right now

1. I'm really struggling with this Meme – e be like exam!
2. Am I going to church today?
3. What’s for breakfast?
4. Oh God, winters here!

4 Of my favourite things

1. My blogs
2. My journals
3. My Self
4. My Twins

4 People I Tag

The first four people to read this!


Friday, October 13, 2006

Sisters in Law and Celeb Adoptions

I watched a lovely docu-film on Wednesday night on the More Four channel called Sisters in Law. Set in the little town of Kumba in the Cameroons, this fascinating and often hilarious documentary follows the work of State Prosecutor Vera Ngassa and Court President Beatrice Ntuba as they help women fight often-difficult cases of abuse, despite pressures from family and their community to remain silent. I Googled it and was surprised to discover that it had been screened at the 2005 Cannes film festival. To read more about sisters in law, go here.

Please excuse me for sounding a bit cynical but what is this new fad with celebrities adopting ‘poor’ children from African countries? Seems like Madonna has jumped on the band wagon too. It was amusing listening to Benston Kilembe, Malawi's director of child welfare services fumble through an interview on BBC Radio four this morning on which he was grilled as to why the adoption rules appear to have been slightly bent in favour of Madonna. He claimed that they (Madonna and her husband) had ‘followed the normal processes’ for adoption. But when questioned as to whether these ‘normal processes’ would apply to other (ordinary) couples wanting to adopt, he couldn’t give a straight answer. In the end the radio four interviewer expressed the opinion that it seemed like Mr. Kilembe was making the rules up as he went along. I had to agree.

I mean come on. In Malawi, like in many other African countries, I am sure money is the name of the game and when Madonna comes along, hell, loads of rules are sure to be bent.

I am sure deep inside she does mean well and would give this little boy a life his biological parents could never have been able to give him in a million years, but I still can’t shake the cynical thought that these adoptions of African children by celebs smacks of faddiness. They sure provide a good photo op!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

What Choice Would You Make?

A friend’s daughter is a few months pregnant with her second child and because she is in her thirties she was offered a prenatal screening for Downs Syndrome which she took. She was then required to undergo a second test as an abnormality had shown up in the results. Second test done, the results came back. She has a 1 in 6 chance of giving birth to a baby with Downs Syndrome. There is already a child with Downs Syndrome in the family.

Talking to her dad, I asked what his daughter’s reaction was. She has decided to keep the pregnancy – whether or not her unborn child has Downs. She is already mentally preparing herself for this possibility. I admire her greatly and respect her for her decision.

I have had this conversation many times with friends. What would we do if we found out that the child we are carrying is in some way disabled – physically or mentally? Would we keep it? Would we terminate? Would we give birth to the child and then give it up for adoption? And although we all give our answers to these hard questions, the truth is that one never really knows what our reaction would be until faced with the prospect.

(Please note that when I use the term ‘disability’ I am referring to serious disabilities that would adversely affect the quality of life of a child.)

Discussing this very issue with my husband last night, he asked me what I would do should I find myself faced with the possibility of having a child with a disability. Without hesitation, I gave him my answer: I would terminate the pregnancy.

My decision does not make me a bad person, what it does make me is an honest person. I know my limitations; I know what I can and cannot cope with and I know, to a certain extent, that I am a selfish person. I like my freedom. I am not noble, and would never pretend to be. I cannot dedicate the rest of my life to caring for a disabled child. I do not possess that selfless nature. I do not have that strength.

I watched a close family friend raise her Downs Syndrome child on her own (she was widowed) and it was no walk in the park; and living then, as she did, in a so-called third world Country, made things even harder. There was no specialist care, no special school for her daughter to go to, no resources, nothing. Life was hard. She had to make many, many sacrifices and frequently had to rely on the (financial) goodwill of her friends for any help she needed. But she was a strong woman and never, not once, complained. I don’t know what regrets she may have had or how many nights she was kept awake by her thoughts of what life might have been like if things were different, or how many times she cried. And if indeed she did go though all these emotional states of mind, she never showed it to the world. Her daughter died of a stroke last year at the age of 25.

I have been trying for a second child and given my age (almost 37) research tells me that there is the possibility that my child may have Downs so it is an issue I have to think about whether I want to or not. Perhaps I may change my mind by the time I feel the baby kicking inside me – perhaps each kick it gives may give me the strength and resolve to give birth to him or her. I don’t know. It’s a bridge I will cross when I come to it. It’s a bridge I never want to come to.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Little Black Dress

For the first time in my life I own a little black dress! I know, I know – what rock have I been hiding under?

You know how sometimes you walk around a shop and something you see just reaches out and speaks to you and you know you’ve got to take it home? Well, that’s exactly what happened to me on Friday.

I wandered into Zara (not a shop I go into often as I find their sizes are sometimes off) just to have a browse around as you sometimes do when I saw one of the shop assistants wearing the simplest little black dress I have ever seen. It was beautiful and it just spoke to me. I kind of guessed that the very same dress must be hanging on a rack somewhere in the shop so I went searching. After about 15 minutes of looking around I found it, hidden away in a recessed display in an easy-to-miss location of the shop. I pounced, frantically sifting through the tags on the hangers looking for my size and breathing a small prayer under my breath when, viola, and to my surprise, I found one.
I say to my surprise because nine times out of ten when I see something that I like, the shop either doesn’t have it in my size or in the colour I like or the belt is missing or a button is gone. But this time, I struck gold. And not only that, they only had three of the said dress left (on display anyway) so it really was my lucky day.

There is nothing elaborate about this dress but its beauty is in the simplicity of its cut and the tailoring. It’s a knit dress (all the rage for winter I understand) cut in an A-line style and it just falls so beautifully when worn. I love it!

For some interesting little black dresses see here

I am also lusting after this ring.


Monday, October 02, 2006

October Celebrations

October is here and there’s a feel that the year is gradually coming to an end. Some of the shops already have Christmas gear on display, which annoys me somewhat because it underpins that fact that it’s a celebration that has been overtaken by commercialism and the true reason for Christmas is slowly being forgotten (being forgotten a lot faster here in the west, I might add).

Yesterday was also Nigeria’s Independence Day and we celebrated (is there really anything for us to celebrate about?) it in a very patriotic manner by accepting an invitation by the Nigerian Christian community here to join them in a church service and a promise of plenty to back up item 10 on the agenda (for y’all not in the know, item 10 was Refreshments aka Chop and Quench).

The Nigerian in me kicked in and we invited another couple to come along with us (that’s what we do now, isn’t it? Besides the invitation did suggest The More The Merrier) and we all had a great time. There were lots of prayers said for the Country – for some reason, and a reason I am baffled by, many Nigerians believe that reason Nigeria is the way it is today is because the land is cursed so a lot of the praying done was for the curse to be broken. Personally, I don’t go with that line of thinking – the bottom line is that we have crap leaders, people in positions of authority who are corrupt and a people who have to change from the inside before any significant change can be effected in the Country, not the fact that the land is cursed. But there you go… perhaps that’s why we remain where we are. But not being one for politics, I move swiftly on. [And for anyone thinking on taking me up on this, please don’t.]

After the prayers came the mandatory speeches. Now what is it about us and microphones? As soon as we see one we just have to grab it and say something, no matter how irrelevant. If that is not bad enough, we drone on and on and on. And the fact that people are looking bored out of their minds or falling asleep fails to make an impression on the speech maker who just drones on some more.

Finally, all protocol done, the kitchen opened and the real reason (I’m I being cynical?) for the attendance of many was unveiled! Jollof rice, fried rice, moin moin, Chicken, fish, Amala, Ogbono soup, salads and more were being doled out generously. (I went for Amala and Ogbono soup :-D). The best was saved for last – Puff Puff is all it’s gummy chewy glory was served. I took a doggy bag home of those, I might add.

The best thing though about the whole day was being with other Nigerians. No matter where you are and for how long, you only truly feel comfortable amongst your own people. There’s no getting away from that. The pidgin English flowed freely, the older women were called ‘Aunty’ (it’s just second nature for a Nigerian, anyone older than you is automatically called Aunty or Uncle without a second thought), jokes that only Nigerians can understand were shared and there was much laughter and merriment in the house. There was even someone passing round Gele’s (headtie) and attachments (weave) for sale. Ahh Nigerians, any opportunity to make a quick buck, and why not I say!! My hubby was accosted to buy a gele for me to which he quickly said ‘Ah, and have my wife hide her beautiful hair from me? Besides it looks like it would make a good fishing net!’ To which he got a dirty look in response.

But all in all, it was a fun day and a rocking celebration in honour of Nigeria’s Independence.