Thursday, 17 March 2011

Almost halfway:Week 18 - 19

Had an appointment with the Consultant this week - there was lots of teeth sucking, "Ooo you had pre-eclampsia...and 4 attempts at induction....and...." enough! I forgot about then birth after about a week of sleepless nights, then I was just dumb and happy - yes, very happy, I had a healthy baby which was the aim of the whole giving birth thingy. Anyway, I am relieved that I am been given the option of a natural birth this time - although the odds are that in the end I may have to have another C-section. Besides as I am over 40 the stats are against me and they will not let me go beyond term.

I loved the myth based gender predictor I told you about last time made me think what other old wives tales effect our pregnancy. What do we believe but is not backed up science? Science certainly changes, when I was pregnant with the Pickle peanuts were forbidden, but now provided we have no family allergy history we can eat peanuts to our hearts content. As for theories of child rearing - there is an informed decision to fit your persuasion.

Have you started to read up on what to expect when bump becomes a baby? So which  book to read? I linked to an earlier blog where I chat about the some of the books I read. It is so funny that books can polarise parents, some books go advocate strict routine, some seem to offer more hazy advice. Allegiances seem to be made over parenting styles - the controlled crying disciples drift away the continuum parents. Well, vive la difference! There is a book out there that will reinforce your natural prejudice so just keep searching until you find an approach that makes sense to you. Just don't get carried away, your way is not only way and it is not a personal affront if others do not follow your lead.

I have heard that there are no prohibition on eating soft cheeses in France, in America you can't at ham or 'deli meats' and the views on eating spicy food varies dramatically according where in the world you live. Leah Hardy wrote about this back in 2004 in the Times. Then there is local advice that can be confusing, we should be eating at least two portions of oily fish a week - but then no way should be eat more than two portions, we read else where.

In Asian countries the advice is to avoid pineapple - I started to research this more when I starting playing around with recipes for this week. So the advice ranges from avoiding it altogether to avoiding just fresh fruit as canned fruit does not contain the 'dangerous' enzyme. The enzyme is said to relax the uterus in a similar way that semen affects us when we have sex during pregnancy. Hence the myths when we reach our due date we get frisky and eat pineapples.

What do you believe? I would love to hear myths or other nuggets of advice. Do you know what other countries recommend to pregnant Mums?

I'm off to France in a few weeks for a major family celebration - what should I expect? Is it true that they may find the prohibition on eating soft cheeses strange?

No doubt you will have taken advice and have common sense - but as a reference point you may be interested in reading NHS healthy eating advice for pregnant women or Centre for Pregnancy Nutrition at the University of Sheffield

Hello Beanie - you have started to be very active kicking away in quiet moments and measure up to 20cm which is even longer than my hand. Beanie now sleeps and wakes at regular times, has got its protective covering (or Vernix Caseosa) and  has started to exercise its lungs and practice breathing techniques in preparation for the outside world.

Like most Mums, I have started to feel really hungry - fortunately it has not struck in the middle of the night. The rice cakes, carrot sticks and hummus have made a reappearance for when the munchies strike - er, and other treats I am not so proud of. When you see the midwife you may want to ask for the current advice on heartburn as it is likely to start from now - I was lucky that it kicked in later with the Pickle and a cup of Horlicks before bed did the trick for me.

What to cook?
This started off as an experiment as  I peppers, pineapple and fish in the fridge and very little else. The recipe was a winner with everybody including the Pickle so I have tweaked it for you. If you have not had your oily fish this week you can replace the white fish with salmon. I hope that you enjoy it, it tastes delicious and is a great way of using up vegetables.
Sweet and Sour Fish

Fillet of white fish (or firm tofu)
For the Sauce:
A small onion cut into thin slices
A love of garlic
An inch of ginger, finely grated
1 or 2 tablespoons of honey
1 or 2 tablespoons of malt vinegar
Up to 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
A hearty squirt of tomato puree
A dash of Worcester Sauce
(Chili powder to taste - up to 1 teaspoon)


Flour and extra sprinkling of chili or cayenne for dusting
A selection of fruit and vegetables that can include:
Pineapple (fresh or canned)
Red peppers
Baby sweet corn
Bamboo shoots

First start by preparing the sweet and sour sauce. Saute the onions then add the garlic, the sliced peppers - then add the rest of the ingredients, you can add a little then top up the flavours to taste. Add the rest of the fruit and veg and cook through. If you are cooking for little ones you can leave out the chili until you have served up for the little one (or that is what we did).
Next check that the fillets of fish have no bones in them - cut to individual portion sizes, then dip into the spices flour. Cook in oil / butter over a medium heat for about 5 mins on either side, watch carefully the cooking time will vary with the thickness of the cut. Meanwhile cook up the rice.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

I'm getting into this now: Week 16 - 17

I have just spent the weekend with my Mum - she kept on querying why we had told anyone about the pregnancy "so early" (er, 14 weeks?)   and every time the phone went she seemed to take great relish in repeating how a friend of hers had gone on an emergency mission to help a daughter who had suffered a bad miscarriage. Well, she does mean well (honestly) - even so, I am delighted that to counter this I am starting to regain my energy and really enjoy the pregnancy; I could rebuff her gloom knowing that at this stage the chance of miscarriage has dropped to just 3%. It is not as if I have not been excited by the pregnancy thus far, but I have been so exhausted that I have just been focusing on just getting by.

I had my next midwife's appointment and all is going well and even the midwife had no suggestions on how to regain my energy - then suddenly it was back of its own accord. It was great to hear Beanie's heartbeat, so I am slightly regretting my decision to turn down a free second hand foetal heart monitor, even if the NHS recommends against them.

I have also bought some maternity jeans, when I was pregnant with the Pickle I did not show till later so my only maternity clothes are cool linen outfits which are not much use. Also, I rediscovered the bliss of a well fitting maternity bra - underwires are not recommended for us pregnant ladies.

What do you call your bump? The Pickle was called Twinkle until she was born (at the 7 week scan her heart beat looked like a twinkling star) and now I am carrying a 'Beanie'. We have a friend who called their little girl Pip after the Bump name - but I promise we are working on an alternative to Beanie for our baby. Are you going to find if you are expecting a girl or a boy? I found this site that offers a hysterical Gender Predictor that seems to amalgamate every known old wives' tale.

Timeline - What Beanie and I are up to...
Beanie is now around 16cm long - the length of  pen - and body is growing bigger so that it looks more in proportion with the head (so no more looking like an alien). The face starts to look more human with hair starting to grow and buds that will form into teeth.

I thought that I felt Beanie a few weeks ago and the concensus is that we start to feel something from about 16 weeks, although some claim sensations earlier and most people from about 18 weeks. We may start to feel hot and sweaty as our metabolisims soaring and start snoring or snuffling as pregnancy can cause nasal congestion or even less glamourous thrush - fortunately my only symptom on this front is a bunged up nose, so pass me the tissues!
Aparently my uterus is rising, which is a posh way of saying I look pregnant now.

What I am Cooking
Now that I have regainned a little energy I am ready to cook, the Hubster loves Asian fusion food so I have been testing out a few recipes that are big on impact but relatively low on effort if you have a hand blender or other kitchen blitzer. I have included both a meat and a vegetarian option - we love both, but not together as that would be too much effort and too much to eat!

 Thai Chicken Cakes (serves 2)
2 chicken thigh fillets
1 crust of bread
----- Vegetarian  ingredients -------
1 egg
About an inch of fresh ginger
A small onion or 2 salad onions
1/2 red chili (or to taste, less or more)
1 desert spoon fish sauce
1/2 lemon grass stalk, or an equivalent squeeze of lazy lemon grass

Start by blitzing the crust of bread on a blender to make bread crumbs, add the lemon grass, garlic, chili and onions and blitz again. Next add the chicken, fish sauce and blitz until the chicken is minced. If you can be  bothered whisk up the egg separately and add slowly so that it does not get too sloppy - you may only require 1/2 an egg. Next shape the small patties about 3cm big, having wet hands makes this SO much easier. Fry for about 3 mins on either side and serve with vegetables and noodles.

Sweetcorn Pancakes (serves 2 - 3)
1 small can of sweetcorn
3/4 mug of self-raising flour (this is preggy food so I don't bother measuring)
A slash of milk
Vegetarian ingredients as above
A small handful of coriander (optional - I don't bother with this)

Blitz all the vegetarian ingredients, including the whole egg. Stir on the flour and the sweetcorn - if the mixture is too solid add a splash of milk, normally about a tablespoon, but this will depend on exactly how much flour you added. With my experimentation I didn't need to be too precise. Heat up some oil in a frying pan, then carefully spoon  a dollop from a full tablespoon directly into the pan. Cook over a medium heat for a few mins on either side.

Noodles with vegetables
This is quick and easy specially for Mums- to- be. It is very loosely based on a recipe from my fave Rick Stein Far Eastern book - but he may decapitate me with a blunt spoon for suggesting that this sluts version has anything to do with his more complicated original.

Egg noodles
Chopped vegetables - bok choi, carrots, peas, sweetcorn (if not making the pancakes)
Dark soy sauce
A desert spoon of tomato ketchup
Sweet chili sauce
Hot chili sauce (optional)

Start by cooking the noodles as per the instructions, ideally steam the vegetables above the pan of noodles but worst case scenario you can always pop the vegetables in with the noodles for the last couple of minutes. Stir in the sauces and mix altogether.

Serve up the noodles and place the pancakes / chicken cakes on top.

Have you been having any cravings? Is there anything that you are yearning for? Let me know and I will see if I can include something especially for you.
Also what are you calling your bump? I'd love to know.