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Well, only four more weeks to go!!!!! I’ve been counting in weeks rather than months of late as it sounded like less time (8 weeks as opposed to 2 months etc) but we have reached the point where 1 month sounds shorter than 4 weeks which to me means that we are really close now. I’m so excited.

Almost too excited that I’m worried that Baby Pregnantcitygirl will arrive and then all this excitement will slowly trickle away to leave a crying baby that will be a lot of sleepless nights and hard work. I say that very lightheartedly of course because I know that I will love this baby more than life itself, hell, our 12 year old cat has weed on 3 duvets in the last 2 weeks (stress-don’t ask) and we have had no dryer (broken and replaced today – hooray, we have dry towels after 30 minutes) and yet I have forgiven her over and over again without even trying! Perhaps I’m softer than I thought.

These last 2 weeks have brought NCT classes (2 full days, 1 evening,1 breastfeeding). I really didn’t want to go to begin with but went out of duty. As I suspected we have met some lovely people, all from the immediate vicinity which is great but all younger than us (not an immediate barrier to real friendship but we shall see). I noticed that I tend to be more domineering than most and wonder whether it puts people off. It probably does. I think that I am passionate and spirited but I also like to talk a lot and once I feel comfortable in a group I am no wallflower. The other girls there were quieter and more restrained than I am but I’m sure (read; hope) that they can eventually see past that. It will be nice to meet in the local park. I know from experience with friends that taking babies to the park is a big part of motherhood so to have a ready-made group of people to meet and learn to mother with is nothing to be scoffed at!
I can also be sensible you know and one very sensible thing that we have done is to sign up for umbilical cord blood collection after the birth. It feels like a relief. An insurance policy for the baby and for any sibling as well as possibly even us as parents. I bet you are thinking ‘what a load of rubbish, a gimmick. What is she doing/thinking about etc,etc’ but my answer to you is that you are totally ignorant and that you need to go away and learn. Find out some things for yourself. Don’t count on your GP, your consultant, what your midwife tells you. They are behind the times. Always are, always will be in the UK. Why do you think we have such terrible cancer care in this country, low survival rates vs the rest of the western world? Perhaps it’s not to ask why but just to draw your attention to that fact. I bring up cancer because some cancers are already being treated with stem cell transplants. Leukaemia for one which is relevant to children. Take a look at this Lancet article ( just the summary) http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(10)62231-3/fulltext  we lag behind. I picked cancer because my father died from a condition linked to multiple myeloma (blood cancer). He had his own stem cells harvested (a very painful process as an adult with adult stem cells also being not as ‘elastic’ as cells collected from umbilical blood, meaning that they are not as flexible at transforming into as many different tissue types – think cardiac, neurological, pancreatic or  skin). Had he had the option to collect stem cells from his mothers umbilical cord then he would not have had to undergo a painful harvest and the transplant would not have been seen as almost a last resort. Things have changed, moved on. The future offers hope. Also, please let it be known that a transplant wasn’t freely offered or a mainstream treatment. My father did a lot of research on his disease, much of it came from the US where the approach to disease and cure is much more pioneering. Likely also due to funding issues but nevertheless we should all know what is available to us, not only what is offered but what actually exists and what is being pioneered around the world.  There is a lot of hope.

It is true that most therapeutic applications are still in trial phase but look at this list of diseases and conditions treated with stem cells from the American Pregnancy Association http://www.americanpregnancy.org/labornbirth/stemcell.html (full list from which the below is taken). It even shocked me.

 

  • Acute Leukemias
  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • Chronic Leukemias
  • Congenital (Inherited) Immune System Disorders
  • Histiocytic Disorders
  • Inherited Erythrocyte Abnormalities
  • Inherited Platelet Abnormalities
  • Liposomal Storage Diseases
  • Lymphoproliferative Disorders
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes
  • Myeloproliferative Disorders
  • Other Inherited Disorders
  • Other Malignancies:
    • Brain Tumors
    • Breast Cancer
    • Ewing Sarcoma
    • Neuroblastoma
    • Ovarian Cancer
    • Renal Cell Carcinoma
    • Small-Cell Lung Cancer
    • Testicular Cancer
  • Phagocyte Disorders
  • Plasma Cell Disorders:
    • Multiple Myeloma
    • Plasma Cell Leukemia
    • Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia
  • Stem Cell Disorders
  • Potential Future Stem Cell Applications:
    • Alzheimer’s Disease
    • Diabetes
    • Heart Disease
    • Liver Disease
    • Muscular Dystrophy
    • Parkinson’s Disease
    • Spinal Cord Injury
    • Stroke

If you didn’t already know (I certainly didn’t) a stem cell is ‘a remarkable cell, as it has the amazing ability to change into a variety of different cell types in the body such as heart muscle cells, brain cells, and skin cells. Stem cells, which are often referred to as one of the body’s “master cells,” can grow into any one of the body’s more than 200 cell types. Stem cells assist the body in maintaining, renewing and repairing tissue and cells damaged by disease, injury and everyday life. If you think about it, stem cells act as the internal repair system for the body.

The magic begins when a stem cell divides. Each new cell has the potential to either remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell, or a brain cell.  Stem cells also have the capability to self-renew, meaning they can reproduce themselves many times over.

Stem cells can create additional cells and may later be transplanted or used for a variety of medical procedures. This is why stem cells are collected and stored.’ (stemcellresearchnews http://stemcellresearchnews.net/index.aspx).

I am not going to preach on and on about this today but just to say that I decided to use http://www.cells4life.com as they struck me, whilst doing my research as the least commercially driven and most comprehensively scientific and research based of any on offer in the UK. They also cryogenically freeze all the cord blood which contains more than just the one type of stem cell that is of interest at present (other companies only freeze the one type of cell processed from the blood as the freezing process is very costly). The blood contains many types of stem cell offering much more potential to treat a wider variety of conditions in the future so having the blood itself stored is like taking out insurance cover  for any eventuality rather than just one specific one.

Almost 90% of primary healthcare trusts offer the option of being able to facilitate the collection of cord blood stem cells when you have your baby HOWEVER how many do you think actually highlight this option to you? I don’t actually know the answer but I am guessing a very low percentage. At UCH where we are having Baby Pregnantcitygirl they actually go to the trouble of producing a leaflet about it and recommending and working with specific companies who collect the blood on the day of the birth  (a really simple process as umbilical cord blood is usually just treated as waste and what a waste to waste it!) but until I asked it was never mentioned and I am sure never would have been. You can draw your own conclusions to that. The Royal College of Midwives has also lagged behind. Only in 2006 did they admit that if a child was in a high risk category for certain diseases them it was worth storing the blood but they do nothing actively to promote or even educate new parents-to-be about it. Dr Eliane Gluckman, who performed the first human umbilical cord blood transplant estimated in 2008 that the lifetime probability of undergoing an autologous (one’s own) stem cell transplant was 1 in 200. This was revised from a figure of 1 in 40k with new clinical trails and treatments with stem cells becoming available every day. This is where the real promise lies. In the future, in yours and our baby’s future. It’s madness not to invest in it. A man grew a new pancreas in the US recently from stem cells.Enough said.

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