Millie’s Montage

February 3, 2009

Half way there!!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — by smiddlebrook @ 3:15 pm

February 3, 2009  (week 20)

Bangkok, Thailand

I’ve been remiss on this blog. Sorry about that. I’m at the half way mark (20 weeks) so it’s time for an update.

The babe is growing in leaps and bounds. At last check (2 weeks ago), he was already 15 cm which is ahead of the curve for his age. Guess I’ll be having a big baby. Ooow!

We found out the baby was a boy in December which was no surprise really as I had predicted that one when I first met Peter. I always knew that I’d have his son. Not sure why – I just did. We decided to name him Oliver James Middlebrook. Oliver was a close friend of Peter’s who passed away and James was my father’s name. A big name for a little boy but it comes with a British nickname, Ollie, that will suit while he is a young chap. Oliver also means ‘peace’ which I feel is appropriate. A gift of peace in a volatile world. Lovely.

I had my amnio almost 2 weeks ago but sadly I am still waiting on the results. The test went very well and I didn’t have any side effects. A scary proposition though as you have this 12 inch needle stuck into you and your baby. Thankfully, I had asked Oliver not to move during the test, and wouldn’t you know – the boy actually listened. He usually does twists and turns for every ultrasound but for this one, he was completely quiet. He was lying on his belly, snoozing away.  

You can see him sleeping on his belly in this photo below – his spine is quite obvious.

Anyway, the test was quite strange. It didn’t hurt while going through my belly but when it reached the placenta, there was a suction sound as the needle pierced the sac. It felt unnatural for this needle to be so close to my son. During those 3 minutes while the doctor was gathering amnio fluid, I was silently screaming ‘Get out!” If it had last much longer, I would have had the doctor stop as it didn’t feel right. It was unnerving to say the least. I spent the next day in bed as a precaution. Thankfully, the baby seems to be fine so crisis averted.

I’m still getting used to all of these body changes. My belly has swollen and one can’t deny I’m pregnant now! I picked up some maternity clothes while in the States which has proven very useful. The headaches and nausea have subsided so I’m much more comfortable this trimester. My body isn’t as agile but that may have to do with the ice cream rather than the little one.

We also made some decisions on the childbirth. We are planning to settle down in CT for a bit. It gives us a home base and provides us the opportunity to diversify our business into corporate work in New York. We need some stability (although travel will always be on the table!) and a base to come home to after visits to the field. We found a place to rent in Greenwich which is currently under construction but ready in May. It’ll give us a chance to look around the area before buying a property. Plus with this falling economy, we’re concerned about buying property when prices are dropping rapidly. A good compromise was found in Greenwich. Close to NYC (45 min on the train) and a quaint town center with trendy restaurants. Perfect!

Last week we received some terrible news from home. Martin, Peter’s brother, unexpectedly had a mini stroke. Typically, this type of stroke is the prelude to a much bigger one. It doesn’t make sense as Martin is quite young, athletic/fit, trim, non smoker. But one never can tell when health problems will come. He is still quite weak from the incident and is seeing specialists this week to figure out the cause (and thus, the treatment). Thankfully, his mom was able to fly to UK to be with him this week and help with the kids. We are all praying for him and his family.

I also received horrible news about Kim’s (my cousin) husband, Steve. It seems the prognosis is actually much worse, and they are not sure he will survive more than a year. Very sad news. He is also in his early 40s and too young to be so ill. Kim & Steve also have young children at home which make it much worse. There was a miracle with Melissa (cousin in the car accident) in that she can now move her arm when her diagnosis was to never move again. So maybe we can have another miracle down south. We’re all praying for him.

Anyway, I’ll be leaving Thailand next Thurs to meet Peter in Dubai. It’s been a long separation these past few weeks. He’s been in Iraq for the US State Dept. and sadly, I couldn’t join him due to security concerns. We’ll be back together for the next few months until I get too fat to travel anymore (May).

I’ll try and write next week with the amnio results. Hopefully it’ll be good news.



November 27, 2008

Bunkered down in Bangkok

Filed under: Uncategorized — by smiddlebrook @ 9:30 am

Thanksgiving Day

November 27, 2008

Bangkok, Thailand


I have been meaning to write for a few weeks now but somehow, I got busy with daily life again.  We left Dubai almost a week ago and returned to Bangkok where we will now be for next 2 months.  We are working with our new partner, CADG on a large USAID bid for the next few weeks, and then Ami and Amba come to Bangkok for their Christmas holiday.


I had my latest doctor’s appointments with another ultrasound.  This was Peter’s first time hearing the baby’s heart so it was quite nice.  The baby was doing flips in my uterus.  He was very active and is so big already.  The doctor did an early test for Downes Syndrome (something about the width of the neck) and the baby looks good.  Big relief, particularly at my age.  Everything looks perfect.  He is already 4.3 cm and growing daily.  Take a peak for yourself.  The red blotches are his blood flow.  Bizarre, I know, but nice to know that everything is working.



(For those asking, we don’t know the gender of the baby.  I always thought that I would have Peter’s son so I call the baby a ‘he’.  But a woman’s instincts can be wrong so who knows.)


I am doing pretty well.  I started to get morning sickness.  Just the nausea and some heart burn.  And course, I still get headaches.  Daily.  Particularly at strong smells.  I am also quite congested which is good as it blocks my nose most of time, tempering the nausea.  All in all – I am doing great.  Just happy to be pregnant and wishing it would go faster so I can hold the little one.


Peter and I find ourselves in the middle of some international news here in Bangkok.  There has been an on-going political battle with peaceful protests aimed at the Thai government (in particular, the new Thai Prime Minister) since September.  There have been a few protests that got slightly violent (a few police clashes with protestors) but nothing serious.  There was a final push by these protestors 2 days ago to push the Prime Minister out.  They staged a protest at the airport and as of yesterday, took control of the international airport.  The protests are confined to the airport so there is no problem at all on the streets.  Thai people are smart enough not to harm tourists as many rely on tourism for their income.  Anyway, the airports are closed and no one can get out (at least, through Bangkok airport.  Our friend Steve was able to fly out yesterday by taking car to another airport and then connecting to Singapore).  It has been a bit of an inconvenience for those traveling home for the Thanksgiving holiday but nothing too bad.  The people here should be commended for their peaceful protests.  They simply want a corrupt government out of office and have persevered in their efforts to get the Prime Minister out.  The situation is a bit unsettling as the military has stated that the Prime Minister should resign (i.e. the gov’t is not in control of the military) but thankfully, Thailand has a history of peaceful transitions of power.  The king is revered here and most of the country will look to him to give them guidance.  He has yet to speak but hopefully he will do so soon so that this political dispute (and siege of the airport) can end.


November 10, 2008

Beating Heart

Filed under: Uncategorized — by smiddlebrook @ 11:30 am

November 2, 2008

Bangkok, Thailand


(For some reason my post last week did not post to the blog.  Ooops!) 


I had the most amazing day possible.  I heard my baby for the first time.  It was incredible.  His heart just thumped and thumped.  And the little pea on the screen flashed in and out as his heart beat.  Tiny but growing.  Unbelievable.  He is just over 6mm with a little tail which supposedly will turn into the umbilical cord.  I was overwhelmed with joy.  Hearing his heart beat made the whole thing feel real.  There he was, snuggled up in my uterus in a nice sized sac with my umbilical cord beginning to grow.  Too cool. 


I have pictures from the ultrasound to add to our growing collection.  We have one when the baby was only a few cells big (in the dish) and another from the first ultrasound.  Not many people have the chance to see their babe less than the size of a piece of dust. 


Dr. Poonsak was really excited and said that the baby was in great shape.  As such, he eliminated my hormone injection so that I will only continue with the progesterone pessaries.  Yeah!  Peter almost fainted this week when he had to give me this injection which had a 4 inch needle.  It went into the hip muscle so it really wasn’t painful, at least not compared to some of the ones in my belly.


Gotta run.  I’m off to Dubai tomorrow for a few weeks.  

November 9, 2008


Filed under: Uncategorized — by smiddlebrook @ 10:50 am

November 9, 2008

Dubai, UAE


Peter and I just looked at some villas and apartments here in Dubai and have decided that the world has gone mad.  In Dubai, foreigners can only own land in designated housing developments but unfortunately, over 80% of the population in Dubai are foreigners, and therefore, as one might expect, there is a huge shortage of properties.  The prices have gone up 40% year on year for the past 10 years and as a result, these rather basic 3 bedroom stone slabs in the desert are still selling for over $1 million.  The workmanship is generally shoddy and the rooms are relatively tiny.  All of this worked when people were buying properties for 5% down payments or even zero percent down in some cases.  But world markets have crashed and burned, banks are now looking for 30 to 40% down payments.  As you can imagine, the prices have begun to fall but not nearly enough to even consider buying here, given the value for money they are not.  And having seen what the market is offering, we are not sure anymore than we would want to sink that amount of money into such a hole in the wall. It just doesn’t seem worth it.


It’s been a week of great news.  First we had the exciting USA Presidential elections.  After 8 grueling years of Bush, the country has been yearning for change.  Due to the time difference in Dubai, I set my alarm for 4 am last Wed. (Nov. 5) to watch the news coverage of this momentous occasion and thankfully, the results did not disappoint.  After a year of waiting and praying for a miracle, Obama was finally elected to be President.  I was ecstatic with the news.  To me, Obama is a leader and someone who shares my values of humanity, equality, peace.  I spent 2 days basking in the news coverage and for the first time in many years, felt hopeful about the future of my country.  Sadly, he was elected at the most difficult historical period possible.  The USA has two on-going wars and a collapsed economy which has yet to show it full effects, and this will drag well into 2010.  I fear that the country will blame him for the chaos as memories are short, even though the seeds of this crisis had been sowed many years before.  Despite this, I believe that he will do everything possible to turn things around.  He will make mistakes but he will fight for the common man and for peace. 


The other amazing news that we had was Melanie’s engagement to Darin.  It seems that a spring wedding is in motion.  Congratulations to both!


October 26, 2008

The Journey Has Begun

Filed under: Uncategorized — by smiddlebrook @ 8:55 am

Bandung, Indonesia

I used to think that blogs are a bit egocentric but I have since come to see the light.  My sister and mother recommended that I write a blog about my pregnancy since I am not around to share the experience with friends or family.  I was a bit skeptical until I remembered that I have several friends who have blogs and they were actually pretty cool.  One is a hysterical rendition of the absurdities of the development field and another documents the growth of twin baby girls in Brooklyn.  The final straw for my decision to start this blog however lies with a little soul who is currently growing inside my belly.  To one day give my child a copy of this blog so that he/she can know about his daddy and mommy’s life is simply amazing.
The news is starting to sink that after three long IVF cycles, we are finally having a baby.  June 27, 2009 is D-day.  Given the madness of our lives abroad, Peter and I have already made some decisions that will allow us to drop anchor over the coming year.  The big one is that we decided to have the baby in France.  There are many reasons for this decision but the primary one is that we want to be near family when the baby is born.  The best cost option for us in terms of healthcare would be Europe where health services are free so sadly America is out.  Thankfully, Peter’s mom Mady has a second house in France that we can rent for a few months next summer so France it is.  Ami and Amba will join us for July so they can bond with their new sibling as well as reconnect with the Middlebrook clan.  It’s a perfect solution.  Most likely, we will spend next Christmas (2009) in CT so I can introduce the baby to my family.
I had my first ultrasound of the baby in Bangkok on Friday and it went very well.  The embryo sac is 6-7mm and the baby itself is 2 mm.  Tiny little thing.  My HCG is on track, doubling every 2 days.  I am still taking hormone support – a suppository of progesterone at night and an injection of estrogen every few days.  The meds are supposed to help avoid a miscarriage, which is a bit of a risk given that my body rejected the last 3 embryos that were transferred.  The good news is that my doctor said that the baby is doing very well.  He is tucked tightly inside my uterus.  Thank goodness as I have been keeping my legs closed very tightly, in fear that it would fall out if I coughed or sneezed.  I am having headaches from the meds and cramps from the 3 large cysts in my ovaries (a by-product of hyper ovarian stimulation) but it’s a small price to pay for a little one.  Thankfully, I don’t have any morning sickness although sometimes I wish that I would as it might help to curb my eating!
The one thing that is freaking me out is my breasts.  They are massive!  And strange things are happening to them with color and strange bumps.   (I would appreciate some advice about these bizarre bodily transformations from those who have been down this road before!)  I am really bloated from all the IVF medication so it looks like I am 3 or 4 months pregnant!  Freaky as it has only been 5 weeks now.  Everyone gains weight during IVF but in past, I lost it within a week or two after the cycle ended.  But if you get pregnant, you don’t get the chance to lose it.  Such is life.  Peter tells me that I have to just accept that my body is no longer mine.  Strange thought.
I found this calendar that tracks my daily progress. Last week, the baby’s heart began to grow and blood is already circulating!  It’s amazing how quickly the baby is growing.  Peter says that I have that pregnancy glow already – probably because I am blown away.  I feel so completely blessed.  We tried everything physically possible with fertility so we were at the end of the road with IVF (at least with my egg).  It is completely a miracle that this cycle worked.  Thank God.  He finally seemed to be listening to our prayers.
Peter and I will be here in Indonesia for another week while he serves as a visiting professor for a Defense Management Master’s program at a prominent local university (funded by UK), which gives me plenty of time to check out the many Factory Outlet stores.  Ban Dung hosts several clothing factories for several brand name stores (Gap, Banana Republic, Top Shop, etc.) and they sell the excess inventory extremely cheap.  I am tempted to buy some baby clothes but I’m afraid I might jinx it.  I did however buy myself several loose tops already as I am already bulging out of my clothes.  At 6mm, I can’t blame this one on the baby.  No laughing but I am actually looking forward to exercising again.  I started working out in Thailand but had to quit 3 weeks ago once stimulation began.   I’ll have to wait a few more weeks as it is still a bit risky for the baby.  Hopefully soon though as I don’t want to end up the size of a house by June.
So that’s the scoop.  I fly back to Bangkok next Saturday for another doctor’s appointment.  They are monitoring me pretty closely now to make sure that the pregnancy holds.  I have another ultrasound on Sunday at which point I should be able to hear the heartbeat.  And then off to Dubai.  Crazy days.   So long for now.

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