Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Week 23-24 The Heart burn weeks*!

I'm loving the kicks, which is just as well as I have started to wake up at night and can just put my hands on my bump and feel content that he is 'cooking' well. I really feel as if I am blooming now - although now that I have some energy I have to be careful not to over do it.

Heartburn is a killer though. This pregnancy should be sponsored my Caramel Snack a Jacks - caramel has been my major craving and Snack a Jacks are the least bad option for me, given half a chance I would be grazing on them constantly to abate the heartburn. I don't like Gaviscon / Rennie, so I have been trying to follow advice and steer clear of fatty, fried, acid, spicy foods, tomatoes or chocolate. In desperation I have started making home made rye crispbreads (recipe below), so that I can nibble them instead of the caramel rice crackers.

The highlight of the past few weeks was meeting up with the girls. As we met while studying for a Masters we are not identikit school leavers but we are hugely different in many ways not least age - so this meet up was extraordinary: three of us were pregnant, and the last friend was in a great new relationship thinking of adopting dogs before too long. It was interesting (amongst MANY other things) to hear how three intelligent Mums-to-be take health warnings and advice and how it affects us all - none of us drunk alcohol at the meal (see our virgin punch below) but there were varying attitudes to total abstinence, ditto tuna and a variety of general prohibitions. I seem to err on the side of caution, but as the Hubster says I am an admin case following the birth of the Pickle and I am over 40.

With the start of the glorious weather I have started to 'wear in' my new funky flip flops and ballerina pumps. My style resolutions for the next few months (not medically recommended):
- Wear my highest heals and most gorgeous shoes before my feet resemble Shrek's.
- Wear my favourite dresses while they still fit. I'm planning to breast feed and lifting up the hem of my dress to access a boob is not a good look - so I want to wear my dresses while I can.
- Deck myself like a Christmas tree. Rings get uncomfortable as pop date draws and near and long earrings are a big no, no when it comes to little fingers (unless you like to have your ears lovingly yanked).
- If all else fails on the style stakes, remember that it is tradition to receive an eternity ring from your beloved for a first born, so why not scale up the hints for the siblings :)

What is Beanie up to?
At 24 weeks Beanie is officially 'viable' in other words; thanks to the wonders of modern medicine he now stands a good chance of surviving if born now and he weighs over a pound! Beanie's ears are quite developed so we are musing as to what noises he will now recognised after birth: the cat's purr, the dog's bark, the clatter of fingers on keyboard and the Pickle's giggle?

Beanie is so busy growing he may be zapping your brains, preggy brain may be setting in (I could not possibly comment). It seems the least bad symptom that could be expected, watch out for cramp, heartburn (did I mention that), head aches and back pain.

Midwives start to watch out for Pre-eclampsia  (I know the symptoms, I had them all with the Pickle, yet we still lived happily ever after as we were so well looked after thanks to a great doctor and the Royal Berks Hospital). Chat to your midwife about what to look out for, it is fine if you are well looked after like us, but untended it is not pleasant. What may seem more serious (but is all good) is if your womb muscles start to stretch so you get a stitch like sensation -  it is not the Braxton Hicks yet!

What we ate and drank for lunch

Virgin Punch or Mock Mock Champagne
I am fed up of elderflower cordial, truly fed up. I hate most other sugary soft drinks and anything that I had once liked now seems so tedious. While on holiday I chanced across a bar that served delicious virgin cocktails - so here is a version that worked well for us - it is based on Mock Champagne from 'The Texan Experience' book,  but I misread it the first time I made it and my version was more to my taste.

A few spoons of sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup grapefruit juice
1 cup of orange juice
2 cups of ginger ale
A slug of Grenadine syrup (optional) to taste - or to colour :)

Start by mixing the sugar into the water - stir well. Then add the rest of the ingredients. If you are making for just you, make up to to the point at which you add the ginger ale, chill the fruit and water mix and just mix with an equal measure of ginger ale as required. Enjoy!

Rye Crispbread
This is a good one for heartburn - if you are trying to keep to keep to the little and often theory (although I have been so fed up of heartburn I have been off my food when I have not been entertaining, which is rather out of character).

250g bread flour - strong white or I use a 1/2 and 1/2 white / wholemeal mix)
200g wholemeal rye flour
100g chilled and cubed butter
200ml milk
A choice of flavourings, either added to the flour or sprinkled on top (not all together):
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp Za'atar (sesame seed and herb mix)
1 tsp cumin and a pinch of salt
2 tsp Dukkah
2 tsp Beetroot powder (yes, I was baking with the Pickle, a pink obsessed toddler, and this went down very well).

Heat the oven to 230'C.
With the tips of your fingers  rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the milk little by little and mix in with a palate knife until it mixes into a dough.
Taking batches of the dough, piece by piece roll out to  a thickness of about 2-3mm (to make things easier I roll out directly onto baking parchment) meanwhile, cover the remaining dough with a clean damp cloth so that it does not dry out.
Place on a baking tray, score lines in it (where you want to snap it later) and prick all over with a fork. When I was entertaining I did one large round crispbread on a pizza tray as it looks really impressive. I cook each baking trays as I go along (it will be about 3 trays), it takes from about 6 mins. It can burn easily so watch out, sometimes it can take up to 5 mins longer for it to go golden brown in places.

Fruit Brulee
This is a real cheat's recipe - ideal for Mums-to- be who entertain. It would be fair to say that I have never seen such a clean dish that once served a pud!

400g rhubarb (a standard pack)
Orange juice
Stem ginger in syrup
1 tub best quality bought custard
1 small tub Greek yogurt
Sugar - I use unrefined caster sugar (the off white stuff)

Toss the rhubarb in the orange so that it is well covered but not too much excess, add a couple of balls or finely chopped stem ginger and a desert spoon of the syrup. Place in a pretty baking dish then pop in a medium over for about 30 mins until it is all lovely and soft. Allow to cool. Taste, it may need a little sugar, but not too much as it needs to provide a good contrast to the sweet topping.
Mix the custard and yogurt together then pour over the cooled fruit. Sprinkle liberally with sugar then caramelise with a blow torch or under a preheated hot grill. Either way, watch carefully so that it does not burn and be extra careful not to burn yourself (you know what they say about clumsiness in pregnant women).

* Sorry, the title is misleading it may be the long heartburn months...

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Week 20-22 Hello Bump you are getting big

After a rather gloomy trip to the consultant last week, we had a scan this week. We thought that Beanie was likely in great working order so we decided to take the Pickle along. Being a girly girl she was very keen for a sister, so we thought that we ought to find out now if she is going to have a sister or brother; then all we have to look out for at the birth is sibling rivalry not disappointment. Once the Pickle knows, everybody knows so I can confirm we are having a boy! Not only are we having a boy but so far it looks as if we are having a very healthy boy. Yippeeee!!

Before the Pickle was born we went to Copenhagen as a farewell to our independence - as we waltzed happily towards life with a longed for baby. Back then, halfway through the weekend the Pickle made an appearance and I had to go emergency maternity wear shopping. Well, this time around we went off to Paris where I lived 20 years ago before five* becomes six*.

The focus was 'Granny's' 70th Birthday. We had four days of me marching around tour guiding and planning - always cut short for a few blissful hours a day in Parc Monceau playing with the Pickle. It was fairly arduous, but rewarding for us all. We bought the Pickle a scrap book, glue and craft scissors so that she could draw and stick in pictures to make a memory book when we stopped at cafes. Even so after four days it was heaven to escape the Granny circus and go for real family time at Disneyland Paris. Would I recommend it? Well, the Pickle would and I enjoyed seeing the park swathed in cherry blossom, but it did feel like one huge retail opportunity or Butlins with gold cards. It was a wonderful chance to enjoy time with the Pickle ahead of what will be a busy time when Beanie comes along.

True to form, Beanie made an appearance. Before I looked as if I had a few too many pies, by my return there was no disguising the fact that I'm pregnant. They say that pregnancies show earlier second time around, and Beanie made an appearance at 21 weeks compared with the Pickle's 23.

With the scan started us thinking of names. I got two books from the library, and I have been scouring the Internet. Of all the sites I like the Bounty Baby Names - a great time waster! I have been asked if the Pickle is helping choose the name and the answer is no! When I ask her for input I like to act on it - and I am not going to ask  just her suggestions to be overlooked (although I do know the power of careful suggestion). Any ideas for names is strictly between the Hubster and me until we have made up our minds firmly made up.

Time Line

Maternity shopping! Still half way through the pregnancy so I am trying not to buy too wintry clothes when Beanie will be born in the height of the summer. I also found some great tops that go from maternity to breastfeeding without buying too many extra clothes. A few bump bands are great to avoid that hideous fleshy gap La Fee Noir have a greater selection than available at the standard high street store.

Beanie is making himself felt - kicks at ten to the dozen and pressure on my diaphragm so I am getting short of puff. For one friend this has been combined with anaemia - which strikes me as doubly unfair!

I have seen him so that I know that he looks like a real baby now - waving and sucking his thumb. Beanie’s eye will still be closed to help protect against wandering hands and toes but he can stilltell between light and dark though - how amazing is that? He is now up to 27cm long - yes, almost the length of a school ruler. No wonder it shows!

What to cook.
The hunger has really started - and with it the err...need for fibre (and loads of water to drink). Here is a great easy recipe that has been great for my current needs - it is also a little unusual so feels more fun than my standard veg or minestrone soups.

Armenian Soup

3 tablespoons of washed red lentils
5 large dried apricots
1 large potatoes chopped
2pt veg stock
Juice half a lemon
1 tsp ground cumin
3tbsp chopped fresh herbs parsley/chives/coriander/mint (I like parsley and chives)
Salt and pepper to taste

Place in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil then cover and simmer for 30 mins. Cool then blitz until smooth.

Optional - stir through some baby spinach leaves or watercress to add a little extra green.

**  I have two wonderful step children who have grown up and left home - but they are still an important and loved part of the family.