Tuesday, June 30, 2009

27 weeks: fun & sun on the Great Barrier Reef

Sunday we left Melbourne for Hamilton Island, part of the Whitsunday Islands near the Great Barrier Reef. Hamilton Island is probably best known as the islands featured in Tourism Queensland's Best Job in the World campaign.

(on Catseye Beach on Hamilton Island)

Alas, we're not being paid $110,000 to explore the islands, swim, and snorkel. Nevertheless, we did manage to enjoy our trip to Whitehaven Beach today, apparently one of the world's top beaches.

The sand is 98% pure silica - since it reflects a lot of sunlight, it's cool to walk on and it squeaks!

Friday, June 26, 2009

26 weeks: bump on a log, bump on me

We're in Oz now for a wedding. Thursday we went on the Great Ocean Road for some sightseeing and what sights did we see! We saw koalas (furry grey balls), parrots, cockatoos, and magpies. We also did some short walks around the Erskine Falls and Aireys Inlet Lighthouse.

Monday, June 22, 2009

25 weeks: discoveries

Recent discoveries:
  • my innie is now best described as a shallow indentation.
  • it's getting harder to bend over, especially while sitting
  • my bump gets in the way while on the recumbent bike
  • it's really hard to be on my feet for extended periods of time, including while washing the dishes
  • in the past couple of weeks, my abdominal muscles feel like they're stretching - this is even when I'm not moving at all. I got a tummy supporter this past Saturday - seems to be working well. And I've slept with my belly band on for the past 3-4 weeks - that really helps.
  • baby is most active when I'm going to sleep, waking up, and in the late afternoon-early evening from about 3-6:30pm.

Leaving for Australia in a couple of days - going to attend a wedding there and one in Hong Kong. This trip will be our babymoon - looking forward to it!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

product review: Dansko Mirabelle sandals

I love my Dansko Mirabelle sandals! Since I got them in late March, I've worn them every day. Danskos are known for their ergonomic molded foot beds and their "rocker bottom" soles - basically it's easy to walk in them. I even wore these sandals on my trip to Taroko Gorge, when we hiked over 5km, and my feet were fine.

I think Danskos are great for travel and maternity, because they are so comfortable and can be dressed up or down. For travel - nothing screams tourist more than sneakers and a fanny pack. I mean, people outside the U.S. just don't wear sneakers around town. It just attracts unwanted attention. Some of my co-workers on the Taroko trip thought they were high heels and were impressed I could hike in them - they didn't realize how comfortable they were!

And for maternity - I see so many women in Taiwan waddling around in Teva-like sandles, which just makes them look bloated and uncomfortable. Plus, the Mirabelles have an ankle strap for added stability, a breathable leather top sole, and a non-skid sole—which is especially reassuring now that I'm pregnant. I have another pair of Dansko clogs that I've worn in icy conditions and I've always felt secure walking around in them. And, I like the thicker sole because there is less of a chance for icky runoff and puddles to seep into my toes when rains during the summer in Taiwan.

I also have wide feet, so it's great to find a shoe company that fits so well and comfortably. Danskos come in a lot of cute styles. The Mirabelles are my third pair. The only thing to keep in mind is the sizing - my first pair of Danskos (bought 7 years ago!) was a 38 and fit fine even though according to their size charts I should actually be a 39 or 40. My Dansko clogs, which are a 39, are a bit tight around the arch - there's not enough room. The Mirabelles, also a 39, fit perfectly, but then they're sandals so there's a bit more give in case my feet swell. So I would recommend to try them on in person to find the right size, if that is possible. (My last two pairs of Danskos were ordered online so it was a bit of a gamble!)

Anyways, I loved my Mirabelles so much I ordered another pair in black and I'm really looking forward to getting them when my mom's friend brings them to me in Taiwan.

p.s. There's a great little movie about the company on their corporate website. I thought they were a Danish company, but they're actually an American company with Danish roots.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Lamborghini caravan

Today during my morning commute there was a caravan of about nine to ten Lamborghinis that drove by. I know this because they too were stuck going 10kph in traffic and so I had plenty of time to read the labels...and even get out a camera to take a photo or two.

Honestly, why would you ever want to drive a sports car in Taiwan? It's not Germany. It's stop-and-go traffic, scooters & buses weaving about, and where there are open roads, they're usually in the countryside and full of potholes.

Yes, that's the same car now stuck behind me - ha!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

conversation with myself

bump: grumble
me: you hungry?
bump: rumble
me: already? we've already eaten our afternoon snack of mango and banana!
bump: growl
me: oh man! I don't really want to go out and get a snack...wait! I brought in last night's leftovers: a quarter of a chicken burrito and roasted tomatoes - we'll have that.
bump: purrr
me: I'm so smart!

(I have to hide my snacks in my little lunchbox out of sight...otherwise I tend to eat them by lunchtime, but I often forget I've brought them!)

Thoughts on labor and delivery

A common comment here in Taiwan (usually from those who have never given birth) is that having a caesarean section is "easier" because you're knocked out under anesthesia and when you wake up the baby is there.

Um...the thought of a c-section has always scared me because you're cutting through and making a hole where there wasn't one before. First you have the uterus, which is at least an inch thick. And then connective tissue, abdominal muscles, fat, skin, etc. A c-section is major surgery, folks!
Says the Canadian Medical Association Journal: Women who undergo elective caesarean sections suffer more than three times the number of cardiac arrests, blood clots and major infections than those who deliver vaginally. (Source)
I've had moms tell me that recovery from a c-section is really painful. One mom tells me she still sometimes feels pain around her wound nine years after the birth of her son.

Yes there are times when c-sections are medically necessary. I'm all for that. In fact, the WHO says a c-section rate of about 5-10% of all births is ideal. However, in the U.S. and Taiwan, the rate is well over 30% and rising.

Part of the reason why is an increasing rate of labor interventions, including inductions, epidurals given early in labor, and continuous electronic fetal monitoring. Canadian pregnancy specialists are now recommending doctors to not consider inductions before the end of the 41st week.

If you're interested in learning more, Childbirth Connection is a good resource.

Friday, June 12, 2009

23 weeks: company trip to Hualien & Taroko Gorge

This past weekend we went on my company trip to Hualien and Taroko Gorge. I was afraid it might be one of those Taiwanese-sit-on-the-bus-hop-out-for-photo-ops affairs, but it was actually quite fun and active. We got up at an ungodly (for us) hour to catch a 7am train to Hualien. Then we got on a tour bus and went to Rui Sui Farm 瑞穗牧場 (which was pretty but rather small and boring - you can buy stuff to feed the koi fish, cows, and ostriches and buy snacks made from their farm's milk), and then a visit to the awkwardly named Lin Tian Shan Culture Studio 林田山文物展示館. Now this was very interesting - it is a restored former paper milling company village that dates back to the Japanese colonial period.

Lin Tian Shan Japanese-style home

Many of the buildings feature Japanese architectural touches, and there is a village theater that is made of aromatic wood with the original early 20th century movie projectors on display.

We bought homemade mulberry juice from a grandma that was absolutely delicious and refreshing.

Afterwards, we went to Carp Lake 鯉魚潭. Many co-workers were encouraged to participate in a company 5,000-meter race or a relay. Carp Lake is very scenic - you can rent bikes, paddle boats, and kayaks. We opted to do a short nature hike - there are many well-marked trails to choose from. I'd definitely return - it's a great recreational area for families.

On Sunday, we went to Taroko National Park 太魯閣國家公園. It was a beautiful day and we did two hikes, the 1km Swallow Grotto Trail and the 4km Baiyang Waterfall Trail. Unfortunately, my camera battery ran out and I haven't gotten photos downloaded from the hub's iPhone. I'll post them up soon!

In the meantime, here's a classic pic of Taroko from Monad (Falling Spirit)'s Flickr stream:

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

22 weeks: baby's first visit to the beach

Over the long Dragonboat Festival holiday weekend, baby made his first (in utero) visit to the beach.

That mound in the forefront is my baby; that's Turtle Island in the background.

The weather was great - sunny but not too hot. I made sure to get some Vitamin D (apparently many moms and newborns are deficient) so that baby will have good bones and teeth (responsibly, of course - I slathered on the sunscreen).

We had some minor adventures, which included a loony neighbor and Zippy becoming overheated during the return journey in the tunnel, but overall it was a good weekend.