The Pregnancy Diaries: Picking Up Good Vibrations

Standard

I never got around to actually obtaining a driving license but I remember reaching a point during lessons when frustration at my lack of advancement kicked in and was then exasperated by seemingly every living person in the universe telling me ‘don’t worry at some point, it’ll all just kick in’. As that point never happened before I indefinitely postponed my lessons I’ll never know if they were right or not.

Anyway, the frustration at not getting something other people seemed to have the hang of whilst telling me it’d all become clear eventually was pretty similar to how it felt waiting to feel the potato kicking.

At about 16 weeks our doctor asked if we’d felt any movements yet and then explained that this might feel like little bubbles and did a very endearing impression of a gold fish as he glub, glub, glubbed at us complete with little fin like arm movements (the thought of that is almost enough for me to forgive him for the fat insensitivity at our last appointment). He said that in the next month or so movements should start to be apparent.

In these circumstances the internet was definitely not my friend as I’d visit various forums to find people sharing stories of feeling their baby kick at 10 weeks or some other ridiculously early date, which seemed unbelievable but I couldn’t tell whether I was right to judgmentally assume these people were simply experiencing gas and confusing it with something more magical or if I was just downright jealous.

As I waited for my inner goldfish to start bubbling I found myself paying a lot more attention to the inner working of my belly than previously. Whilst I could feel stomach movements, it was hard to know whether these were genuine potato flutterings or just an overactive intestine.

Waiting for those internal stirrings I started to wonder if it would work both ways; if I would be able to feel the baby moving would the baby also be able to feel movements from outside the womb? If the potato’s hearing was developing to extent it should be able to recognise the voices of me and the bearded man what else could it pick up?

One of my cats, Jasper, has become increasingly more affectionate as he has gotten older and for some time has taken to coming and sitting on my lap of an evening whilst I scratch his head and indulge in whatever the latest Netflix addiction is. My other cat, Buttons, also likes to cuddle against me and the bump as I lounge in bed on lazy weekends or before drifting off to the night-time land of nod.

As my body continues to stretch and adapt, to make itself accommodating for the developing life inside, this hasn’t always been the most comfortable. I have often resorted to a hot water bottle against my stomach to ease cramps and tensions as these changes take place. Having a warm cat vibrating with purrs and gently wriggling about to find the best position for one of their humans to give them attention has been a real treat for me and I wondered whether it has also been noticeable to the one inside?

A few people have asked me if I dream of the baby but, aside from some terrifying late miscarriage dreams, I haven’t really, with one exception: I dreamt the baby was born, and as it was snoozing away it wasn’t gurgling, snuffling or snoring but purring.

Around week 22 I started to think the microscopic movements inside were baby related but I wasn’t wholly confident of this until around week 24, when I became much more conscious of little thuds that were distinct enough from regular organ movements so that these were either the baby or my bowels developing elbows, which I really hope they’d have noticed at the 20 week scan!

Now the kicking is fairly frequent and does wonders for providing daily reassurances that the potato is still, well, live and kicking, and it’s a relief not to have to coast the 3-4 weeks between doctor’s appointments without a sense of what’s going on inside.

I was excited to share with the beard the inner movements but disappointed that the sensations I could feel weren’t apparent to him for quite some time. I guiltily worried that kicks wouldn’t be noticeable outside my belly because of the whole fat and pregnant thing, but here the internet came to my rescue and I found a whole thread of fat mammas sharing their experiences and explaining that although it might take a little longer those kicks would still be strong enough to get through the additional insulation some of us hippos carry around.

As the internal thuds started to get a bit stronger I thought it would be easier for the bearded one to sense these but the baby had an irritating ability of refusing to conform to expectations (can’t think where it might have got that from) by steadfastly refusing to move as soon as I’d feel confident enough of the movements to position the man’s hands in the right place, only to start booting away as soon as he’d move them off. But eventually patience won out and the hairy one could sense something going on even if he did then need me to confirm that these were sproglet rotations and not an overdose of carbohydrates (at least I was certain of the difference at this stage).

Not long ago we had a friend staying with us for a few weeks and in the short time she was with us she managed to learn more about Ferney Voltaire than we had despite our having moved here last August. One of the wonders she revealed to me was that there was a yoga studio a mere two-minute walk from our apartment. I joined the yoga class tailored for pregnant ladies and seniors, which sounds odd but is a combination that works surprisingly well. After my first session I shared my experiences with our temporary flatmate and said I’d enjoyed the class, and even managed to get into the chanting and ohming that I’d never thought people really took seriously until I found myself in a roomful of people doing just that.

My amused friend, evidently more of a yoga-afficionada than me, asked if I believed in chakras. I quickly replied that I didn’t but remembered reading somewhere that the vibrations caused by a cat’s purr aren’t purely there to indicate its smug pleasure at a world that it understands as its own personal kingdom, but also have the purpose of helping to heal the cat through minor ailments. If I could accept that a cat’s unique purring frequency could have a positive physical impact on its wellbeing, then why couldn’t yoga chants serve a similar purpose for humans?

If that is the case then I hope the cats purrs and weekly yoga chants are positively impacting on the potato. Perhaps the dream I had will turn out to be a premonition and the baby’s first word will be more ‘miaow’ than ‘mummy’, but if it grows up to be as self-contented as the kitties that wouldn’t be so terrible. Although if it picks up on other cat habits such a penchant for murdering birds and burying poos in the garden that might be a little more alarming.

Ten reasons to give up and go back to bed

Standard

1. Your cat decided that she would prefer to do her business in the shower than in the cat litter box and consequently you are forced to clean cat poop out of the bath before you have even properly woken up.

2. You drop the razor in the recently cleaned shower and although it doesn’t actually do you any damage it scares the bejebus out of you and shakes you up for the rest of the day wondering how long it would be before your cat discovered you naked in the shower and bleeding from inexplicable razor wounds to the knees and ankles. You would hope your cat would not have returned to do her business once again.

3. You tried to get dressed for work opting for the nice skirt suit you had laid out the night before but, after putting on not one, not two but three pairs of tights that either already had holes or quickly gained some, you concede defeat and wear trousers.

4. Cycling to work, one of your comfortable shoes, that you specifically chose for being easy to ride in, falls off in the middle of the road and your pedal then viciously attacks the back of your ankle and makes it bleed.

pedal attack - bp image

5. On arriving at work you remember that the document you have been furiously working on and took home to work on the previous night, remains lodged in the memory stick… at the back of the laptop…on your desk… at home.

6. You go to make a cup of tea at work and are upset that of the ten boxes of tea in the cupboard, these all turn out to be various herbal offerings including fennel and chamomile but all you want is just a normal cup of tea. You are forced to settle for an unsatisfactory green tea.

7. You manage to knock your unsatisfactory cup of green tea and it spills all over your phone, you are forced to spend some ten minutes frantically drying the device on your scarf as the nearest thing to hand and praying to the gods of technology that the essential device will survive the experience.

8. Your scarf, which was white, is now covered in unsatisfactory green tea and it’s cold in the office and you want to wear it rather than leaving it to soak in the work bathroom’s sink.

9. You realise you absolutely do not have time to attend the interesting work-related but not wholly essential meeting taking place that afternoon that you have been looking forward to for a week.

10. You heat up your homemade leftover-for-a-while soup at lunch to discover that contrary to previously held beliefs, yes, vegetable soup can go off after a week and taste very very bad. You try to eat it anyway.

Ten reasons to tidy the house

Standard

1. Your parents are arriving soon and you would like to convince them that you are now mature enough to live in a clean and tidy house and that you have moved on from your messy teenage clothes-discarding, teacup mould-growing, chocolate-wrapper-strewing ways.

2. When you remember that you have wooden floors and the soft squishy ‘carpet’ you have been enjoying is, in fact, moulted cat hair.

3. You politely allowed an ant or two to pop in and make their acquaintance but now they have overstayed their welcome and rudely invited all their friends. It’s time for that colony to take the hint and leave already.

4. You are constantly late for work because it takes you at least an hour every morning to locate the second shoe that seems to have been subsumed into the general disarray (like a stapler dropped into a dish of jelly).

5. The laundry that you did and dried and then put in a pile to put away later, but later became too late once the cats decided to nest in your freshly laundered undies and now everything is covered in cat hair once again and you have to start the whole process from the beginning.

6. You remember that at the age of 30 you are supposed to at least be able to pretend to be a grown up and grown ups are supposed to be able to remember to tidy on a regular basis. You don’t want to be the one to dispel that particular delusion.

7. You have run out of clean plates and cutlery and are now eating your pasta straight from the saucepan with a wooden spoon. Soon you will run out of clean saucepans and wooden spoons.

8. Whilst there are undoubted benefits to practicing your contortionist, gymnastic skills as you navigate your abode, pirouetting around a trainer here and a box of recycling there, you shouldn’t have mistaken this for actual exercise.

9. You have run out of money from constantly replacing items (such as bike lights, batteries, matching shoes) you considered lost forever in the general melee.

10. You recall that your apartment was once a spacious cavern of roominess with room for swinging as many proverbial cats as you liked, but now resembles a squalid den of teeny-tininess and even the cats can touch both sides of the room from a sitting position.

Waking up to the sound of murder

Standard

WARNING: if you are a passionate bird lover to the extent that hearing about bad things happening to birds might set you off on an ornithological-loving-grief-fuelled-murderous-rage, then you should probably skip this post!


I’m afraid I must confess the sordid truth that I am harbouring in my flat a serial killer. In a two-week period Jasper, the infinitely smarter of our two cats, managed to kill not one, not two, not even three, but six birds. Six!

Or rather, he managed to kill six birds that we know about, our neighbor mentioned seeing Jasper mid-kill at some point but I’m not sure if that’s an additional one for the tally or part of the collection he’s already paraded in for our inspection. I fear the six corpses we know about may just be the tip of a very bloody ice-berg.

Before we convict and condemn my four-legged felon I would like to say, in Jasper’s defence, the six birds in two weeks is also six birds in the last six months, as prior to this particular killing spree he hadn’t bought us any murderous trophies for quite some time.

Now I don’t want to diminish Jasper’s hunting prowess, clearly the little bastard is not one to let the opportunity to kill some little mite pass him by. And actually his ability to trap and kill flies and other annoying insects is something I’m quite happy about. The more mosquitoes he can kill, the less there are to bite me and the more daddy long-legs he can take out, the less there are of those little dangly-legged freaks to get up in my face!

However, whilst Jasper does have the speed and agility to aid his lethal ways he does lack the camouflage. Being a bright white cat with black spots should hamper his murderous abilities somewhat and, on a normal day, any sensible bird will see him coming a mile off and know to get the heck out of there.

So, whilst I’m not in favour of victim-blaming and clearly I don’t think the birds deserved to die, I do think the birds should take a little responsibility for the untimely deaths that have been decimating their local population.

We all know that raging hormones make idiots of us all and birds apparently are no exception, because there seem to be an inordinate amount of stupid horny birds about. I have seen Jasper sneaking up on a group of birds and I have hollered and thrown stuff at them to get them to move but to no avail (although in that instance a nearby pigeon did cause them to scarper eventually).

The problem is these birds are so busy preening and parading and shaking a tail feather to impress the lady birds that they often fail to spot their five pound, white fur-encased harbinger of doom not so very subtly sneaking up on them.

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 18.42.05Really Jasper is just participating in natural selection and aiding the evolution of the Sparrow by removing from the mating pool those birds thick enough not to shift it when he’s on the prowl. Perhaps the lady birds sat up in the trees are fully aware of Jasper’s ornithocidal intent and are just happy to sit back and let him weed out the unobservant of their species that think they are hot stuff enough to make it into their lady nests.

I don’t dislike birds and I would rather my cat didn’t kill so many, or at least that I didn’t know he killed so many, but perhaps blinded by my catty love I’m usually pretty good at making excuses for him when he does. To him it’s just his natural instinct to take the birds down and it’s a really fun game at the same time.

I also liked to pacify myself with the thought that he at least finishes them off quickly so that the amount of suffering is limited. But recently, when I woke to the sound of protracted murder, I have had to reappraise that thought.

It may be true that natural sounding alarm clocks like waterfalls or birds tweeting are a much pleasanter way to wake up than an obviously electronic beep. Let me assure you the same is not true of the very natural sound of a bird screaming out the last agonies of its life as my cat joyfully ends its days.

Waking up to the sound of the screeching bird and finding Jasper dragging the poor little bleeder around the flat was definitely not the best start to my morning. Sometimes the human intervention can make a difference. Occasionally we do manage to rescue a critter from the cats, we’ve managed to save a couple of mice from Buttons in the past, who managed to run off into the undergrowth so I can only assume went on to live full and happy lives.

But in this instance I knew there was nothing I could do to save the savaged bird so I did the decent thing… and chased Jasper outside where he could finish the bird off. Rather him than me.*

The killing does seem to have slowed down for the time being so hopefully the mating has passed and birds are once again more concerned about the end of their days than getting their end away. Or maybe Jasper is just stashing the bodies somewhere yet to be discovered…

 


*My fiancé has had to finish off our cats leftovers on more than one occasion and I’m profoundly thankful that he is in my life and able to spare me from these particular horrors!

Ten reasons you aren’t as civilised as you pretend

Standard

1. In company you will carefully scrape off the yoghurt stuck to the lid with a spoon, at home you’ll just lick it off.

2. You tell people you joined a martial arts class because you like to try interesting things and wanted to meet new people, but really you just like having an excuse to hit other people without getting in trouble.

3. You pretend you watch Eurovision because you are an ironic spectator of a regional mass-entertainment event, actually you just love the cheesy tunes, over the top outfits and ridiculous antics of the competitors.

4. You get ridiculously excited about free stuff, you have no qualms about accepting giveaways, you gleefully take free pencils and paper rulers from IKEA and you shamelessly eat other people’s leftovers (when offered to you, you wouldn’t go as far as steal people’s lunches from the fridge or raid their trash or anything).

5. When someone takes two of the four sandwich squares you’d carefully saved for lunch, from an event you worked at until 9pm the day before, and you then discover that of the two remaining sandwiches one has a big dead fly in it, rather than expressing disgust at the dead insect and throwing the offending article away, you express disgust and then quietly flick the fly away, along with the piece of aubergine it had met its demise on, and then continue to eat both sandwiches. You may tell yourself you’d have been pickier if your lunch hadn’t already been halved for you by some unscrupulous sandwich thief, but you doubt it.

6. You would never dream of leaving your apartment in jogging bottoms (unless actually exercising) but would happily spend an entire day inside the flat in the same pyjamas you sleep in.

7. You really can’t tell the difference between Champagne, Prosecco, Cava or any other variety of sparling wine. If it’s alcoholic with bubbles, then you are happily going to drink it.

8. You can only tell the difference between a fake and a genuine Louis Vuitton bag by location. You assume if someone is sporting an LV bag in Geneva it’s genuine, in Greenwich it’s fake.

9. You would never dream of expressing obscenities directed at a stranger in face to face scenarios, but from the safety of a car (or a bike helmet with visor), when no one can hear to judge, you will unfailingly shout all sorts of rude words at the twat who just cut you up.

10. You wouldn’t belch or bottom-parp in a meeting but yet have no trepidations in letting rip in front of your fiancé or friends and then giggling like a child afterwards whilst trying to blame the outburst on the cat.

Cat trauma (or how not to meet the neighbours)

Standard

One lovely sunny evening I returned home from work at a reasonable time and thought it would be nice to relax out on the balcony, which truth be told doesn’t get all that much use but is nicely situated overlooking a big common green space.

I swapped sensible work shoes for flip-flops, used my super American fridge to crack some ice into a glass at the touch of a button and poured some orange juice over the frozen water, picked up my book and phone and tootled out to the balcony for a chance to unwind in the fresh air.

The cats soon came out to join me and, happy in my presence, jumped across the balcony to stalk pigeons (Jasper) and happily chew the cud (Buttons) (this isn’t a metaphor, they actually like to eat grass). I thought before I settled into my book, I’d give my mum a quick ring and catch up on the news from Angleterre. Idly chatting away I didn’t realise there was a problem until Jasper came bolting across the balcony and streaked into the living room.

It was then I spotted the two pitbull-terrier type dogs. Sadly Buttons wasn’t as quick on the uptake as her brother so didn’t spot the canines until they were charging towards her. Terrified, she tried to launch herself back across our balcony wall, but in her panic didn’t quite make the jump and bounced off the wall. With no time to try again she went haring off in the other directions trying to outrun the dogs.

I started shouting obscenities whilst still on the phone, before quickly hanging up and hurling the device down. Buttons was zigzagging back and forth across the grass with the wall to her back, she was outnumbered with nowhere to go. The dogs’ owner was trying to call them to heel but they were clearly having too much fun chasing my kitty. I quickly bounded over the balcony, which I’m sure would be a much harder feat if I wasn’t in cat-parental protection role, and ran into the fray.

Buttons isn’t the brightest spark in the box, or perhaps didn’t trust me enough to provide adequate protection from what she probably assumed were the beasts of hell, so didn’t run to the safety of me. But my entry into the chaotic scene afforded her enough of a distraction to squeeze through a narrow gap into the shelter of one of the underground caves. Not an actual cave, in case you think I live in a remote mountain wilderness, but a communal storage area for bikes and whatnot.

elegant balcony climb - bp image

The dog-owner had got one dog under control at this point and had just about rounded up the second. Relieved that Buttons had made it to safety my next concern was to go and rescue her from her hiding place. Getting back over the balcony into the flat was a lot harder than the other direction, as there’s a bigger drop on the garden side of the balcony and I was no longer operating on adrenaline. Bear in mind I’m wearing flip-flops and now trying to scale a vertical wall, which although not massive is too high to simply swing a leg-up. It’s mid-climb with feet up, bum sticking out and desperately trying to use my feeble arm muscles to help pull me up, that the dog-owner tries to talk to me.

This is not the best way to try and meet the neighbours but I manage to huff out ‘it’s okay, she’s okay’ in response to her apologies, but then promptly ignore her as I continue to try to swing myself up, and I’m still preoccupied with the cat now stuck in the cave.

She seemed mortified, I seemed rude, this was unlikely to be the beginnings of a beautiful friendship. The situation wasn’t her fault, the dogs were off the lead in a communal space and I don’t think they actually wanted to kill Buttons, they probably could have done her some damage if they tried, they probably just thought it was a hell of a lot of fun to chase her, sadly my little cat wasn’t to know that and I lacked the language skills or immediate concern to try to communicate this to the dog lady.

Finally back in the flat, I darted out to the cave, accessed from the other side of our building, and managed to locate the cat. However, she’d firmly wedged herself into a small gap between a pipe and I couldn’t reach her or coax her out so that I could easily rescue her. After fifteen minutes or so, she calmed down enough to consider her next move, carefully checked the way she’d come in, to ensure the dogs had gone, and darted back out of the cave, over the balcony and into the flat.

I feared she’d be traumatised for days, but she seemed to recover fairly quickly. In fifteen minutes she was happily eating snacks again but she didn’t cross the balcony again that evening and followed me around the flat a bit more closely than usual. She must still have been sending out sad vibes though as her brother even came across to nicely lick her on the head (normally he chases her around the flat and pulls out her hair, which he started doing again about an hour after the incident).

I thought now would be a good time to call my mum back, thinking she might be slightly anxious to know what was going on after the alarming way I’d terminated our previous call. But I made the call from inside the flat as the balcony hadn’t proved to be the relaxing spot I’d had in mind.

Ten reasons to be impulsive

Standard

1. Thinking things through gets in the way of actually doing stuff, avoid the problem and skip the thinking part!

2. The sooner you impulsively commit to something the more likely you are to follow your instincts and go through with this. For example you could think I’d like to travel more so randomly apply to an internship in Cambodia and then when the email offer comes through immediately respond that you are in and tell everyone. Its so much harder to back out when you force others to become collaborators of your impulsive ways!

3. You can be impulsive in some areas of life but still remain resolutely steadfast in others. I like to be impulsive about the small things such as committing to take up a new sport by buying all the equipment before even trying the game, which career to pursue or whether to move country. However, I remain wholly restrained when it comes to more serious things like deciding not to go out for a spontaneous afterwork drink when I’ve been looking forward to an evening of some sort of Netflix fix and binge eating with the cats for company and judgment.

4. Being impulsive makes for much more interesting and also more succinct story telling process. Guess which is the impulsive version from below?

  • ‘I applied for a job in Switzerland without thinking about it, was offered the job and then decided to move’
  • ‘I carefully considered whether or not to apply for a job in Switzerland, I weighed up all the pros and cons and sensibly thought through all potential ramifications of undertaking such a step, eventually I concluded that such a notion was ridiculously ill-thought out and I therefore decided to stay here in a predictable job I ceased to enjoy some time ago.’

5. Being impulsive gives you an air of mystery, where people are never too sure what you are going to commit to next. Maybe you’ll simply buy a life-size elephant soap dispenser on your next Ikea trip, maybe you’ll have moved to Timbuktu before you got round to telling anyone, maybe you’ll do nothing impulsive for long enough people will think you’ve got over these crazy tendencies then BANG! You can surprise them with the next adventure!

6. Impulsive behaviour is just another way of following your gut-instincts. These aren’t the instincts your gut has to avoid cheese wrapped around butter encased in clotted cream but that inner feeling within you that tells you if a particular course of action is right or wrong. All too often we suppress our gut instinct and agree to things like attending a seminar on how to optimise seminar attendance when we really should have listened to that inner voice telling us we don’t want to do that.

7. Being impulsive is a characteristic often associated with children, this doesn’t mean it’s bad for adults but means it will help you access your inner, and frankly much more fun, child. It means you can enjoy running through the rain, cartwheeling across the park/in the office and climbing trees without worrying about getting wet, making a fool out of yourself or how you’ll get down again.

8. Being impulsive means you can face your fears and learn to overcome these. I was pretty terrified of teenagers, particularly en masse, so when I saw a volunteering opportunity (whilst studying part-time and working full-time) to work with groups of 16 and 17 year olds in the spare time I really didn’t have I signed up without thinking it through AT ALL. Having impusively committed myself to something where others were relying on me, I was compelled to continue and actually quite enjoyed the experience, learning that young adults aren’t nearly so terrifying as I had initially expected!

9. Whilst being impulsive may occasionally get you into some foolhardy situations, the stories that occur as a result are usually worth any traumatic experiences at the time. For example an impulsive desire might lead to your clambouring on top of the fridge (so you can stare down at others) and then realising that the washing machine you used as a staging pad has since been turned on (and is now whirring so much it’s truly terrifying) that now you can’t get down without some serious help you desperately need but are really reluctant to accept. Traumatic? Yes. But probably worth it for the stories you can later share with friends of how great it was to be able to stare down at that mean cat you don’t like and leave them guessing abut how you got to be so high up (this may have been an example of my cat’s behaviour rather than mine).

10. Impulsive behaviour led me to writing this blog, I bought a domain name before I knew if or what I was going to write and then before I knew it I was happily blogging away like a trooper and connecting with all sorts of cool other bloggers.