Monthly Archives: March 2009

16 weeks of being pregnant: a recap

I’m not pregnant, but my wife is. So, in reality, we both are. It might be T’s belly that’s forming a telling little bump, but make no mistake, we are both undeniably pregnant.

Sometimes that’s really fun, like going and having an ultrasound. All the voyeurism without the goo–neato! Sometimes, though, it’s a lot of work having to lift and carry everything, and the zero help with the cat box thing stinks, etc., but since I like taking care of T, that’s okay too. I don’t even mind that she banned dinner for two months. I could have done without a few of her ill-timed meltdowns, but overall, T’s been very strong and rightfully expects me to be as well. We’ve always been good about making the other rise to the occasion.

Being pregnant has meant a lot of changes, obviously, some which I anticipated and some, not so much. For example, I don’t drink a bottle of wine a night or smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, which is both good and bad. Good because, let’s face it, I’m not getting any younger, and bad because psssssst…..I’m not really pregnant and sometimes I want a glass of wine or two or three. But that bugs the shit out of T, so I try to avoid it. Same with all things smoking related. I’ve done a decent job of giving up smoking, a few slips notwithstanding. We spend money differently too, in part because of my current unemployment status, but as much of it has to do with shifting priorities as well. A ten dollar bottle of wine could buy a package of diapers; do I need a new pair of flip flops this summer when my old ones are holding up just fine? You get my drift.

We’ve been gobbling up information about Egghead’s progress, eagerly awaiting each Dr.’s visit, and working to make room in our small home for the baby. What the books don’t tell you about pregnancy is that there is this emotional housecleaning that takes place as well. I know that has been true with me at least. All kinds of stuff has surfaced in my life, some in the form of unpleasant memories, and some actual people/incidents rearing their heads again after being dormant for years. Why now? Why, when I have so much to look forward to and planning to do must I spend valuable time thinking about a shitty past that I can’t change and have already dealt with/confronted/analyzed the crap out of?  But there you have it. Just as I excavate boxes of old stuff, throwing most of it away, I too must sift through the mental and emotional clutter and figure out what the hell it all means. I feel this is very important to my becoming a mother. I don’t even have a choice about it really. It’s happening whether I want it to or not. Someone should write a book about the mental and emotional preparation that happens during pregnancy. Not a single book warned of this.

Additionally, I’ve managed to rack up some of my very own pregnancy symptoms. Here’s a short list:

  • food aversion (eggs)
  • multiple trips to the bathroom/waking up at night
  • exhaustion/sleeping often
  • nausea (this is explained by the Chanti.x I was taking to quit smoking)
  • heartburn

There are others, which I can’t recall off the top of my head, but wow. I’m not sure if this makes me a codependent weirdo or just a sympathetic partner. I can say that I thought pregnancy would be a lot funner than it is turning out to be. It’s stressful to try to change all of my bad habits at once, sort through painful emotional clutter, do all the house cleaning, and desperately look for a job  all while being a loving partner who doesn’t get mad when she’s told that she’s not “stepping up.” It’s really hard, in fact.

But that’s not a complaint about pregnancy or about my wife. It just happens to be a fact that, at least for me, getting ready for this baby is hard work. I can just hear those in the Mommy Club saying “Just you wait! Oh you haven’t seen anything yet.” Well, one step at a time. We’ll commiserate on the “really hard stuff” later.

I love T beyond measure, and that she is making this baby for us, this baby that we’ve wanted for so long, is at the forefront of almost every thought I have. I adore her, adore listening to an hourlong cost/benefit analysis of the all-in-one diapers and the tri-folds with a cover. I love bringing her pickles, rubbing lotion on her belly, and reaching over in bed to rest my hand on her growing stomach. I love all of this. It makes every difficult, challenging, unpleasant thing I’ve had to endure since Dec. 31, 2008 worth it.

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so. very. sleepy.

This is really about nothing. It’s not interesting. It’s my means of procrastinating because I’m tired of bad student essays.

  • My wife is away getting massaged, and I am trying to finish up my last hour of work for the day. I love working from home, but the temptation to just lie down and sleep through it all is often far too tempting. I want a nap more than anything right now.
  • I get to have a massage on Friday. When we moved here, an old internet friend of ours who lives in this town, and whom we had met once in person, found us through our wedding photo in the paper. When we reconnected, we were reminded that she is a massage therapist and energy worker, and she gave us these coupons for free massages months ago. This week, we’re finally cashing them in. I can’t wait. Granted, some things won’t be quite the same (i.e. I won’t be able to lie on my belly), but she promises we’ll work around that. I love having friends in these sorts of professions.
  • I am finally mostly over my cold. I ended up having to take a Su.dafed a couple of times to manage to breathe enough to sleep. I hated taking it, hated the feeling of it, but it was necessary. I also remembered what a great cold remedy kimchi is, so my wife found me the most delicious jar of it locally. I was in spicy fermented cabbage heaven. In fact, I was on a spicy foods rampage last week. I ate jalapenos like they were pickles, sprinkled Ta.patio sauce on nearly everything but my granola, and scarfed up as much wasabi as I could on some veggie sushi. I was determined to clear my sinuses, but it really did take the OTC pharmaceuticals to do the job. I’m still stuffy and probably will be for the next six months, but at least I can breathe.
  • Spring has truly sprung here. We went for a walk and saw so many wildflowers today. It was like chocolate for the eyes.
  • My sister and her smiley little baby are coming to visit again on Sunday. We get to babysit all day Monday. I can’t wait to have some baby time, some sister time, something besides work.
  • My wife informed me today that my hair is making me look like Brumhilda. I apparently need a haircut, but I guess I don’t see the point since I work from home. My hair is naturally way too plentiful (believe me; there is such a thing as too much hair) and grows faster than a chia pet (also not as great as it seems, especially with short hair), so pregnancy has really given me something special in the way of hairstyles. And by special, I mean I’m starting to look like an exotic sheepdog.
This is me (pre-haircut).

This is me (pre-haircut).

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well, hello there

I think that Egghead is making his/her presence known. I’ve been having interesting sensations. Sometimes they’re fluttery, and sometimes it’s just this feeling that something is rolling around in my abdomen. It comes from the vicinity of my uterus, and it is nothing like anything I have ever felt before, so my guess is, it’s Egghead. It happens most when I lie down for a nap or sit back in a chair with my feet up to write (like now).

Of course, all the books say that as a larger woman, it may take me many more weeks to feel the baby move, but anyone who has tried to get pregnant for any length of time becomes an expert on feeling every twinge and twitch down there; as a result, I think we’re naturally a lot more sensitive, no matter our size. That and the midwife we saw last week was certain I’d feel Egghead this week. I like that she was (probably) right.

It’s such a reassuring feeling, whatever it is, and I have started to look forward to those quiet moments when I get to lie or sit with my eyes closed and just feel.

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the mommy club

It is fairly common knowledge that when one becomes pregnant or a parent, unsolicited advice suddenly pops up from every corner of one’s life. In many ways, it seems to me a sign of solidarity, a sort of welcoming in that experienced moms do for the uninitiated. I’ve gotten some really excellent solicited and unsolicited advice since I’ve been pregnant. I do admit that I’m the sort of person who likes to think she knows everything, and if she doesn’t, can research it to death until she does. But I have accepted that that is not always possible with pregnancy, so I enjoy the help along the way from those who are walking this path ahead of me. It’s comforting. Even when the advice is bad or simply doesn’t apply to me, I still appreciate the intent behind it. It’s an age old practice to pass this pregnancy and motherhood lore on, and I honor that.

But there is also something I’ve noticed happening amongst some moms that is not so helpful and not so much in the spirit of solidarity. Let me try to explain with a recent example:

Yesterday, on Facebook, I complained on my status that I hoped one day to be able to taste things and breathe through my nose again. I’ve been pretty sick with this cold. I haven’t slept much, and I’ve been rather miserable, so it’s fairly natural–complainer that I am– that I would say something. Well, an old college acquaintance of mine (who has a toddler) commented to say, “Yeah, good luck with that. You’re going to be wanting lots of things back…” Now, here’s the thing: I think she thinks she’s being funny, and I believe she thinks she’s warning me about the selflessness of motherhood, but comments like these are not helpful. It’s not the first I’ve heard one of these. In fact, there’s this subset of the mommy club that seems to take pleasure in making sure new and aspiring members know just how miserable motherhood is. “Oh just you wait!”  said with a mildly bitter tone, is a phrase I hear all too often from these moms. It’s disheartening.

When I look at our beautiful blog community, I see a whole bunch of women who support one another, offer advice respectfully, and tend not to throw newbies’ naïveté in their faces. However, the “Just you wait” subset of the mommy club does just that, and it seems to be their response any time a mom-to-be has even the most legitimate of complaints. I don’t know where it comes from, but it’s not helpful, not at all. I can’t imagine telling a newly pregnant woman who is puking up everything she eats that this is only the beginning and that she has so much more misery in store. What does this do for her? What provokes some women to do this? And why, oh, why can’t we women support one another?

Maybe for some women it’s a matter of competition. Who can be the most miserable? Who is the wisest, most experienced mother of them all? Who has lost her sense of self the most in her children? Or maybe it’s something else. I know the woman in the example above has always been socially awkward, and I’ve noticed that other particularly socially awkward friends have said similar things, but I don’t think that’s the extent of it. Maybe it’s a little like joining a sorority, and while you’re pledging, you have to expect to be treated like crap and led through some ugly initiation rituals by some of the mommy club members, while others take you by the hand and leadyou  into the sisterhood a little more graciously. Or maybe it’s a way of reminding those of us still on this journey that we’re not card-carrying mommy club members yet, that we ought not get too big for our britches. Maybe I’m taking this too far.

I think I’m writing this more than anything so that I don’t do this, so that I don’t become that woman who makes prospective moms feel like they know nothing about the journey they’re embarking on, or who seeks to be the party pooper any time someone gets excited about her ideas about motherhood. Frankly, most of us don’t know what it will be like until we get there. That is not to say, however, that when we do get there, we suddenly know what every other mother will experience either. I just wish more people were mindful of this.

I am so grateful that here, writing this blog, I’m surrounded by so many who are mindful and conscious and gracious. This journey is a hard one, and I’m learning that having the support of a tribe of moms, moms-to-be, and childless moms is the best tool a woman can have to help her through it.

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Filed under Pregnancy

15 weeks

Well here we are at 15 weeks. Unbelievable! We had an OB appointment today, which turned into a midwife appointment. Honestly, it was strange.

I got a call yesterday that my OB would be on call today, so they needed to either reschedule me or schedule me with a midwife. I was fine with the midwife; I’ve been curious about the midwives in this practice anyway. Well, we arrived today, and I attempted to check in at which point the stupid, rude receptionist (the one who made me fill out an entirely new medical history on my second visit because they lost my file–to a thief) told me that I was not on their schedule. I informed her politely about the phone call from their office just yesterday, but all she could say was, “I don’t see you on the schedule.” I started to get a little peeved and let her know that I did, indeed have an appointment, that this wasn’t my fault, that I had had an appointment for a full month. Finally, she sighed and said, “Well, I guess we’ll have to squeeze you in with whichever midwife is available.” Right. Don’t do me any favors, and certainly don’t apologize, you obnoxious woman. Grrr. I should have sneezed on her.

We were called back fairly quickly. I had my vitals taken. I’m still only up 2 pounds since the beginning of this pregnance, and my blood pressure was perfect and the same as the last time we were in. Excellent news. The midwife made her way in shortly. I introduced myself.

When she saw J, she started to say, “Oh, you must be her sis-”

“This is my partner, J,” I said, before she could embarrass herself.

She shook J’s hand, had me lie back, and immediately pulled out the doppler to probe for the baby’s heartbeat. This took some time. She told us which sound was movement, which sound was my heartbeat, and while she mentioned once that she could hear the baby’s heartbeat, she couldn’t ever get that sound to come through for us. She spent several minutes trying every angle possible, and I started to panic as I stared at the ceiling. While she was convinced everything was fine, she must have had some concern because she then ushered us over to the ultrasound room for yet another ultrasound.

I don’t mean to complain. I know a lot of people like having regular ultrasounds. I’m not fond of the ultrasound-every-visit pattern we have established. The studies on how it impacts the baby are inconclusive, but I just don’t feel the need to have a peak and a souvenir photo with every visit. At the same time, I was worried, and the only way I was going to stop worrying was if I either saw our Egghead on the screen or heard its heartbeat.

So we made our way to the ultrasound room, where she proceeded to not be able to use the machine. It wasn’t that she was inept. Someone else had messed with the controls and the computer froze up. So we waited. She brought a nurse in to help; she chatted about some of my test results (I finally got my blood type–A+ for those interested), said all looked good, and as this other person worked on getting the machine going, she tried the doppler again. Lo and behold, there was the heartbeat right away. Phew.

But because the machine was rebooting, and because we were already there, she wanted to go ahead with the ultrasound, and we soon discovered why she had a hard time finding the heartbeat. Our Egghead was wiggling all over the place. S/he was squirming and flipping and kicking.  It was fantastic. We got a look at its spine, its butt, its little legs and feet, and while she tried as hard as she could to see between the little one’s legs, Egghead would have none of it. His/her legs were crossed as though in the lotus position, and s/he would not move them until we stopped staring. Honestly, it was amusing, and it was such a relief after that moment of fear with the doppler. The midwife seems to think I’ll feel Egghead moving within the week. I can’t wait.

We have about a month until our big anatomy scan, and we’ve got the AFP blood draw coming up in a few weeks. It’s going to be a big month.

I have to say, though, I’m not happy with this OB practice. I like my doctor, the nurses, even the crazy scatterbrained midwife we saw today, but administratively they’re inept, and unfortunately, those administrative procedures impact us more often than I’d like. I am hoping that once we change our insurance at the end of the month that we’ll be able to transfer to the birth center and the midwives there. If so, we’ll move over there after twenty weeks. Wow, that’s a whole lot sooner that it seems, isn’t it?

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Filed under Egghead, OB, the P word

this is one way to start the week

It seems that I am the lucky recipient of a cold, and I’m pissed. I really hope it’s just a small one and that I’ll be back to myself in no time, but that is rarely how I roll. It just seems cruel to give someone a perpetual stuffy nose and then to throw a cold on top of that. But I’m not bitter. No. No way.

We had an incredibly productive weekend. We have started the great purge of 2009. We went through boxes of teaching materials and reduced them to tiny stacks of papers to keep. We reorganized holiday decorations and personal files, pulled out fabric we’ll never use, thinned out our linens, and so much more. We have a nice big pile of things to donate, and while our office/guest room/nursery is still in utter mayhem, we’re beginning to see that we can–and will–make room for our baby. It’s a more than a small relief.

Of course, now my momentum that I built up this weekend is utterly shot and all I want to do is lie on the sofa, drink juice, read a book, and moan. In fact, I think that’s precisely what I’ll do. No organizing for me today.

There is one thing that I must do, however, and that is to welcome Vee and Jay’s son to the world. Congratulations, Moms!

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Filed under celebrations, sick

snapshot

J and I went for what was to be a nice, rigorous hike up to and around this reservoir nearby. It’s a lovely hike amongst oak trees and wildflowers, and since it is in the 60s here and sunny, we couldn’t help but get out and revel in it.

I was admittedly surprised by how much easier I had to take it. Part of this is because our walking ritual slowed down significantly with last months rains, but I know part of it has to do with the greater blood volume my heart is working to pump. It was surprising, but it didn’t stop me. It just meant a few more breaks to admire the lupine and the shooting stars that are dotting the grassy hills or sitting on a log to watch the ducks flying over the lake. It was a beautiful day for a walk.

When we were nearly finished with the hike and coming down from the reservoir, a small periwinkle-colored butterfly started to follow us and dance around and between our legs. It followed us for half a mile as we dodged mud puddles.

When we arrived home, a card came in the mail from my grandparents. One of their notes read, “Now life begins.”

Yes. Yes it does.

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better than brahms

You all are seriously awesome. After reading your responses  yesterday, I formulated a plan.

First, we already had a body pillow, but we were using it as a bolster behind our pillows. J brought it out to the living room floor so that I could practice rolling over with it. I didn’t’ succeed, but I did confirm that it was comfy, so we decided it would make its way into the bed. And, while I couldn’t get a netty pot yesterday, I could get saline spray, something I had forgotten does help with my sinuses.

So last night, bedtime went more like this:

12:00: Go to bed (I admit to having a little anxiety about sleeping, so I stayed up late).

12:01: Kiss my wife, and snuggle up to the pillow.

12:02: Pass out like a drunk college student.

1:30: Wake up to pee (without sleeping on the toilet).

1:31: Go back to bed, look at clock, see that it’s my usual first pee time, snuggle up to my pillow, and pass out like a still-drunk college student.

2:00: Flip without pillow.

2:15: Flip back over because the pillow is so much better.

5:15: Become mildly aware that my wife is trying to steal my body pillow.

5:20: Flip, and relinquish the pillow.

5:30: Flip back over and reclaim the pillow. Realize I have to pee again, but ignore it because the pillow is so comfy, and peeing can wait.

7:30: Awaken for the day.

Now, it’s not a perfect night’s sleep, but that is a far cry better than previous nights. The pillow makes sleeping much easier, and as someone said, I found myself not wanting to flip because the pillow was comfier. Taking it with me was too much for my drowsy brain to comprehend, so a little break on my right side seemed to suffice, and I’d go right back to my left.

I do find it amusing that my wife tried to steal the pillow. I didn’t mind sharing for a few minutes though. If it becomes a habit, we might have to talk–or get her own, in which case, a king-sized bed may soon be in order too.

This morning is far better. I did have a cat step on my uterus, which was scary (luckily it was the small one, and only one paw, but still–yikes!). Otherwise, I’m much happier and far less worried about going to bed tonight, and I have all of you to thank for it.

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Filed under dear readers, sleep, the P word

sing me a lullaby

I’ve had it with trying to sleep. I want to be a day sleeper. I’m turning into one by necessity. I just can’t seem to sleep through the night.

Here is what my average night looks like:

10:30: Go to bed to read. Read for half an hour.

11:00: Turn off the lights, and try to get comfy on my left side. Snuggle with my wife for a moment.

11:10: Begin the process of settling my mind and body and falling asleep.

11:15: Realize that I can’t breathe through my nose. Open the window.

11:30: Flip to my other side, and finally fall asleep.

12:00: Flip to my other side.

12:30: Flip to my other side because my arm is asleep.

12:50: Look at the clock and sigh. I haven’t even made it through two hours yet.

1:00: Get up to pee. Sleep on the toilet for five minutes.

1:06: Make my way back to bed. Snuggle with my wife to warm up.

1:30: Flip over because my hips hurt.

1:50: Flip over again.

2:00: Place extra pillow between my knees to relieve hip pain.

2:30: Attempt to flip, and throw extra pillow on the floor.

2:31: Look at clock, take a sip of water, and whimper at the thought of doing this for at least four more hours.

I think you get the picture. I have been getting up at least three times a night to pee, and I flip from one side to the other no fewer than 5 billion times. It’s miserable. My stuffy nose is certainly part of it, and part of it is that my wife and I seem to like to cuddle more than we used to. Unfortunately, as a result, my poor sleep habits result in her poor sleeping. My need for an open window also results in her freezing. I fear we are going to soon end up in separate beds. I really don’t know what to do.

I have considered one of those pregnancy pillows, but as evidenced above, I tend to flip a lot, and I have  heard that they don’t allow for flipping. (Imagine a fish still alive on the banks of a river, and you have an accurate picture of me trying to sleep.) Looking at them, I can’t imagine how one would flip. I fear that this would only anger me and result in the pregnancy pillow living on the floor, and a pregnancy pillow on the floor just becomes a plaything for cats.

Dr. Sears and his wife Martha claim that these sleep difficulties are preparations for when the baby is born. I say fuck Dr. Sears and Martha. Frankly, I’m a procrastinator, and I’m fine with prepping in the month or even weeks before the baby’s arrival. For now, I want just a few uninterrupted nights of sleep per week. Is that really too much to ask?

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Filed under complaint department, sleep, the P word

telling update

Last week was the week of sending out letters to grandparents about the latest addition to each family’s next generation. I knew they would probably receive them by week’s end, so I have been waiting for any response, suspecting it would take a little time.

Yesterday, I spoke with my mom on the phone. Both grandmothers had called her to congratulate her and to tell her how excited that were. This made me grin. But then, last night, the phone rang, and my maternal grandmother–the grandma I was so nervous about telling–was on the other end. She told me she got my letter; she congratulated me; she wanted to know how I was feeling. She was utterly happy. We shared a lot of laughs and she reassured me that it was okay for me to rest when I was having those fatigue-filled days (“Oh, you’ll have lots of those!” she said.).  It was lovely. When we wrapped up the conversation, she told me to give J her love and to take good care of myself and that baby.  That is precisely what I will be doing.

I was filled up last night with that phone call. There is nothing quite like living one’s life out in the open, especially amongst those one loves. And there is especially nothing like being able to share this news with the people I love the most.

My belly seems to be changing shape now. J claims that I look pregnant, that I’m much rounder. My usual rolls seem to be smoothed out, and I definitely have a bit of a belly–beyond the one caused by too much wine and cheese over the past year. One of these days, I’ll start posting photos. For now, you’ll just have to trust me.

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