- the next generation - the next generation
Week 28 Week 29 : Bad Hospitality Week 30

"You looking for the triple test results up there?"
   -k, to the hospital maintenance man with his head in the ceiling tiles.

Baby stats:
Current fundus size: 29 cm.
Where have my internal organs been moved to? The teeny tiny space below my breasts not being taken up by ribs.
Aimee's key symptom: Heartburn.
Comparable to: The heat of a thousand suns setting my insides alight. Hm, perhaps I've been reading too much chick-lit lately.

How I'm dealing with the heartburn: Drinking close to two litres of milk a day (or shall I say night?) No worry about fluid intake here.
Kevin's thoughts:
This is a bit of a funny subject to write about. Not haha funny, but peculiar, sensitive, and possibly offensive funny. You see, having just come back from Canada and seeing everyone I know and love, I start to think about my own baby, and how my baby is related to each of them, and how through the miracle of genetics PLEASE GOD DON'T LET MY BABY TURN OUT ANYTHING LIKE THESE PEOPLE!

I'm kidding of course. After all, it can't be a lucky roll of the genetic dice that Aimee and I turned out so well... that good stock had to come from somewhere, didn't it? Of course it did. If heredity works in our favour, here are some of the gifts our baby should receive...

From my mom: We're having a girl, so I think a lot of my mom's latent girlie-genes will find their way into my daughter. After all, she'll tell you time and again that I was supposed to be a girl. Go on, ask her. She loves that story. My name was going to be Claire.

My mom is a mom to be proud of. She's a sitcom mom, compared often to Elise Keaton from Family Ties, and can solve any other family member's problems in 30 minutes before the end credits roll, even though she occasionally needs a hand with solving her own. Also, you can tell you've got a good mom when your friends say, "I know Kev's not home, but maybe I'll drop in and say hi to his mom," rather than, "Aw, dude, your mom's home, party's over."

So, if I had to pick a trait to pass on from my mom, it'll be (and I know it's a long way off) that she'll get the mom gene, and be a good mom to my grandkids.

From my dad: If I had to sum up my dad in an idiom, it'd have to be "Don't sweat the small stuff." He faces any decision with the same attitude: make the choice and move on. He does his Christmas shopping in a day, doesn't think twice about hopping on a plane, and attacks any choice of life with a gusto that leaves nothing but a few broken dishes in his wake. That car he bought for my mom for her birthday last week? He bought it in 10 minutes, no regrets. Easiest sale that guy ever made.

As well, he has the uncanny ability to start up a conversation with any stranger in any country, even if the stranger doesn't speak a word of English, and have the stranger laughing by the end of it. I'd like my daughter to be able to make friends that easily.

From Chris: As Dan said in his Best Man speech, he could be anyone in the room at Jeopardy. I'd love my daughter to have Chris's unmatched capacity for facts, figures, stats, dates and trivia. And languages; if she's going to be spending a month hanging out with her Tia Eunice, living in some exotic locale with her ridiculous parents, or, God-willing, follows her parents' dreams for her to become the Secretary General of the United Nations, I hope she can pick up languages as easily as Chris.

From Aimee's dad: Aimee's dad is a great grandpa ('great' as in 'really good', not as in 'really old'). So great, in fact, that everybody calls him grandpa, including himself and strangers. He's also a great neighbour, and a great guy to know, because he'll bend over backwards for you. Ask him for anything and he'll do it. Sometimes he'll even do it without asking... I happen to know that the ladies down at the corner store get a blueberry pie from him every few weeks in the autumn. So, I hope our little girl picks up the care-for-her-fellow-man gene.

From Inga: Inga, in a word, is cheerful. But more than cheerful... perhaps, bubbly? She's silly and happy and giddy, always laughing and always up to something cute, like cutting out paper teddy bears and tying bows around things. Inga's probably the girliest girl in the immediate family, and if I'm having a girl, I hope she picks up some of Inga's girliness.

From Danny: We didn't get to see Aimee's brother this visit, as he lives down in Ottawa, but if I had to pick his best trait, he is absolutely, unerringly honest. He's the only person I know who has the technology to pirate any form of media in existance, but still chooses to buy it. In fact, sometimes he downloads something, and if he likes it, he goes out and buys it anyway, just so the creator of the thing he downloaded gets credit for it. And I think he pays to register shareware. Now THAT'S honest.

From the greater family: An unaltering dedication to the family itself. Whether it's the Beimers prodigal-son approach (go off for as long as you like, the door will be open when you come back), the Cavers phone-tag approach (just give us a call from time to time so we know you're alright), or the Lingmans when-are-we-going-to-see-you-again approach (when are we going to see you again?), we always know how important family is to us, and how important we are to them. And our baby knows it too!

And finally, us: I hope she gets our happy-go-lucky attitude, our lust for adventure, our cheery demeanour, and our creativity. Aimee also hope she gets my nose, but I think my nose would look stupid on a girl. Besides, I'm still using it.
Aimee's thoughts:
I'm beginning to lose a little bit of faith in the NHS. You can tell I'm still new to the country, because most Brits lost faith in the NHS long ago.

Before we went to Canada, I had my 26-week checkup to make sure I was safe to fly. I had a good long chat with the midwife and was able to ask her all the questions I had written down ahead of time. Here's what I asked, along with my midwife's responses.

Q. My brother has diabetes, so why did my doctor not give me the full glucose blood test for gestational diabetes?
A. He didn't? You should have had that a couple of weeks ago. (Note: I specifically asked my doctor for the test and he said all I needed was a urine test.)

Q. Do I need another ultrasound because of my placenta previa? (I had a low-lying placenta on my week 20 scan. If it hasn't moved, it means the baby's exit is effectively blocked. Not good.)
A. Oh yeah, good catch! This should have been noticed by previous midwives, or your doctor, or SOMEBODY. Well, good thing you're on the ball. I'll schedule it while you're away.

Q. Why are my triple test results not in my folder?
A. They're not? I'm not sure where they are, but I'll track them down for you.

Q. When do I get my formal MatB1 form that I need to submit to my employer?
A. You should have been given one weeks ago. I'll mail it to you while you're away.

So I left for Canada thinking that, sure, things were a little bit behind, but at least I finally had a midwife who was on top of things and I expected to return to a stackful of letters detailing all of my appointments coming up.

And what did I return to? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

The midwife who had seemed so reassuring and 'on the case' when I left didn't follow up with any of my appointments or send me any of my test results or forms.

So where I was only a bit behind in all of these things, I was now a further three weeks behind in my antenatal care. Within a day of being back home, I called the office for the midwives... this is where I really started to get angry. It was as though they had never heard of me before. Now, granted, I'm not one of those pregnant mums who call up the midwives with every twinge, but I'm starting to think that if I did that then they would at least know who I am and perhaps pay a little bit of attention to me.

It took three separate phone calls (during which I was made to feel as though I was really bothering them) to just book my one diabetes test. It didn't seem worth the trouble to try to do anything else over the phone and we decided to tackle the rest of the details in person, at the hospital.

I'm so glad that Kevin came with me to the test. Let me explain - our hospital is chaotic. In the antenatal clinic there are midwives running everywhere and you never know which door to go through or who you're supposed to be talking to. The only organised thing they do is hand you the urine cup when you arrive. But that doesn't mean that they ever ask for it back.

So I needed Kevin to help corral the proper people - between the two of us we had a chance of beating the system. And beat it we did. I think we're learning that you need to be aggresive and take matters into your own hands to get things done here. And ask questions. When I had my diabetes test done, I found out that my midwife should have sent me a green blood form. Well, the lady couldn't take my blood without it, so we had to track down someone who could find me another green form. And I made sure my name was written on it. And on my blood samples. And that they were put into the same bag.

Next, we tackled the ultrasound issue by booking it directly with the ultrasound office. No need for a referral from a midwife here!

What was extra fun was trying to track down our triple test results. We grabbed the nearest midwife and asked for them. She looked in several folders marked 'Triple Test Results 2006' and they were all suspiciously empty. Not just of my results, but of ALL results. She went off in search of a folder that must have been labelled 'Real Triple Test Results 2006' and brought back ours. Another check off the list.

The only thing left was my MatB1 form, which, try as we might, they don't have at the hospital, so I'm going to have to do battle with the midwives at the clinic before that happens. I may have to stage a protest, but eventually I will get it.

Now, does all of this sound right to you? When I learned that the care in England is midwifery-led, I was thrilled because I thought that that would mean more caring and personalised treatment. Unfortunately, it just seems to mean that I have to deal with two sets of people - midwives and doctors - who don't communicate with each other and don't seem to really care about me.

I understand that everyone is overworked and is trying to do their best, but I am beginning to see why people pay for private care when it comes to something as important as your baby. I would certainly think twice next time.

Did you know?

Our baby is floating in pee! Yup, she urinates about a half litre of pee into her amniotic fluid each day.

She's also swallowing this fluid, which seems kinda gross, but if you think about it, the only thing she's injesting is other amniotic fluid (not chips and Kit Kats, like most of the children in this country), so it's effectively just some sort of biological water cycle. Still though. Eww.

If I knew then...

This week: The Public

People love pregnant women. They want to do things for pregnant women. As a pregnant woman, you have to let them, instead of insisting that you can still do things yourself. It's not a matter of being wimpy, it's just that you're doing it as much for you as for them.

You're also accepting help for other pregnant woman... if I was on the tube and someone offered me a seat, and I pulled some sort of feminist crap, that's the last time that guy would ever help another pregnant woman. So, if it's offered, take it!

Aimee's cravings

Really craving original Pringles this week. I've tried to limit my intake, but it is difficult as they are Pringles and it's not as though you can just eat one. They're also advertising that they're more delicious than ever, which I feel committed to trialing for myself.

Oh, on a mildly unrelated topic, I'm no longer weighing myself. I think it could be too scary.

Everyone into the poll!

In North America, the midwife experience has always seemed to be a little more friendly and personal than the whole hospital thing. However, here in England, I think a midwife is just a codeword for a baby nurse. This week is a two-parter poll.

1. Did you have a midwife or an obstetrician?
2. Where are you from?

Results next week!
Baby's Book of the Week

Gregory and the Magic Line
By Dawn Piggot
Well, you know my name is Gregory an the things I draw come true...
This sweet story is about a line in Gregory's pencil that wants to get out and asks Gregory to draw all sorts of things. It's a bit simple, but it's a great book to read to a child that loves to draw (and probably even better if the child doesn't).
Send a message to the womb and beyond!

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Interested in Kevin and Aimee's other adventures? Of course you are!
Lose a month out of your life reading the Roadtrip or the Bikeabout. They're rather funny.

© 2006 Kevin & Aimee & Baby Beimers.
Life handed to us on a plate.