Category Archives: Pregnancy

two thirds

I have been hiding behind passwords for a long time now because our journey back to parenthood has been a painful and scary one, one that I haven’t wanted to share with the whole world, and, frankly, once BG got sick and then died, I have had little way of knowing who has found this blog, who is reading, and, well, that was worrisome to me for a number of reasons, but mostly because I just wanted to hold all of our news, good and bad, pretty close to the vest. In the process, though, I seem to have forgotten to blog altogether, and now I’m starting to regret that.

As many of you know, whether you read under passwords or you read the other blog or you are active on social media where I am, I am finally, finally pregnant with a kicky, bouncy, lively little girl. In fact, so pregnant am I that this past week, I reached the third trimester. I’m two thirds of the way through this pregnancy, and the months and weeks I was wishing it would speed by have passed. Now I’m ready for it all to slow down a little so that I can breathe for a minute before TinyDancer (her in utero blog moniker) makes her arrival.

Oh, don’t get me wrong: I want to meet this little girl so badly. I want to hold her and smell her head and touch her toes and remember that feeling of all-consuming love. But it’s a big transition moving from being a mom of a preschooler to a mom of a deceased child to an expectant mother all over again. It’s different looking forward to this baby while missing her brother.

It’s also different because I am feeling my age oh so much more. I went into this pregnancy in better shape and at a much healthier weight than I was with BG, but my age of 39 seems to trump all of that great progress. I have felt slow and achy, even whiny. Last time I was buoyant with joy and life and the love of being pregnant. I still love being pregnant in some ways, but other times, times like this weekend when I was in so much physical discomfort that I cried, I hate to admit that I’m not loving it so much. On days like those, I’m relieved to be two-thirds finished with this pregnancy.

But then I catch myself. This is very, highly likely the last time I will be pregnant. This is the last time I’m going to feel my child growing inside of me, kicking me and rolling around, the last time I’ll have this amazing feeling that despite all the odds, I was able to create life, a sibling for my beloved boy, a new child for my wife and I to mother. I don’t want to forget that. I spent so much of the first trimester in utter terror and disbelief that I would lose this pregnancy too, and so much of the second with more terror that somehow test results would come back abnormal, that now I just need to settle in and relish the last few months of what feels so much like a miracle.

School is ending soon, and while we have plenty of activities going on afterward, I’m going to have the benefit of slowing down a little, sitting in the sun and rubbing my belly, and I need that so, so much. I need the long, hot, endless days of summer to bring me into my body, into the present so that I can burn it all into my memory.

So I suppose returning to this blog now is part of that. I have chronicled part of this pregnancy in a real pen and paper kind of journal, but my Tiny Dancer deserves a few updates here as well. After all, before long, she will be the resident Girl Genius.

And so, in the interest of sharing and being brave, and living in the present, and celebrating that I’m growing what appears to be a very healthy little life, I present to you me at 28 weeks, big bare belly and all.Belly28weeks:

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Filed under Pregnancy, Tiny Dancer

forever seeking closure

Okay, that wasn’t supposed to happen at all. Nearly a week has gone by, and I haven’t blogged once. Not so much as a photo post or a meme. And during the month I vowed to blog every day–and then every other day. That’s just pathetic!

After I spent last week fighting a  little cold, it seems that Baby Genius has caught it as well. He started feeling sick on our way home from our visit last weekend. As a result, we had to miss our long-anticipated birth class reunion. I’m still sad about this. I have been communicating with one woman from the class since our babies were born, and this was going to be our chance to meet her son. It was also going to be our opportunity to thank our instructor, not only for the class but for her assistance during labor (she was one of our nurses). And of course, it was our opportunity to see all of the other babies who were making their mamas so uncomfortable last we saw them. Alas, there will be no cute reunion photo, no sharing of birth stories, no comparing of sleep patterns.

For some reason, I have clung to the idea of this reunion for a long time. I thought it would sort of serve as a final bit of closure to the pregnancy. It’s strange that I want that, even when I’ve got a seven-month-old BG clinging to me, trying to sprout his first tooth, but I guess I do and I’m sad not to get it. I don’t miss pregnancy nearly as much as I did after he was first born, but I still find myself missing it a bit. Being around my sister-in-law this weekend gave me a few nostalgic pangs for the kicks I used to feel and for the firm roundness that was my belly. There’s something so very magical about it all. It’s no secret that I loved it.

It’s funny how long the signs of pregnancy, the after-effects, stick around. I don’t think I felt fully healed until six months out. I still have the occasional pubic bone pain, but even that is mostly gone, and I’m starting to get some muscle tone back. My body has slowly been making its way back to normal. I’m even losing my hair. Oh, am I losing my hair. It’s hard to believe how much hair the body hangs onto while pregnant. The hair loss I could do without.

Most of these final stages, I have seen pass with a little wistfulness (one exception being the return of my period at just over two months postpartum–a scarce two weeks after I stopped bleeding; my reaction was less wistful and more  full-blown tantrum). But maybe I’m getting my final closure by way of the return of my body. It’s not quite in its original state. I’m about thirty-five pounds lighter than I was before I got pregnant, a little more stretched out, a lot more fatigued, but I’m just one person again, and there’s something pretty great–even magical–about that too.

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Filed under Baby Genius, birth class, post partum, Pregnancy

a chapter concluded

We have had our first rain storm of the season during the last couple of days, and it is so lovely to finally feel the seasons changing. I think I needed something as strong as a storm to get me out of my flip-flops and into proper shoes and socks. For the last nine years, I have taught in the fall, so the change of seasons is normally marked by stacks of essays and student excuses. Now, every day feels much the same, and I have a hard time remembering what month it is. In so many ways, my life is unrecognizable, and yet it all somehow makes sense. I’m gladly exchanging those stacks of essays for stacks of diapers.

I’m almost six weeks into this being-a-mom gig, and I love it. Is it weird that I don’t even mind the nighttime feedings? Sure there are those nights when he has only slept for two hours, and so have I, and I would really like to keep sleeping, but we manage, and as soon as I see his eyes wide open and his mouth wide open any mild frustration with having to wake up so soon dissolves. Most of the time, he’s really not a high maintenance baby–so far. I always qualify any of these positive comments in this way because I’m waiting for the all-night wailing to sneak up on me. So far, we’re really, really, super-duper lucky–and believe me, we know it.

Today I had my six week postpartum appointment with the midwife. It was quick, and I’m back in working order. It seems my tear has healed (although it still hurts a bit), and I’m free to have baths and swim and go into the hot tub. It was so lovely to see S, the midwife who attended our delivery, and she adored Baby Genius. It really is fun to show him off. I was also weighed for the first time since my pregnancy: I’m down thirty pounds from my top pregnancy weight. I’m down twenty-six pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight. I knew I was smaller, but that’s just insane!

What wasn’t so fabulous was that S discovered my right ovary is enlarged. At first she said it was probably just hormones, and we’d check it out at my annual exam in January. But then she called me to tell me that it was bothering her and that she’d like me to have an ultrasound. Now I’m a bit bothered as well. Oh how I hope this is nothing I need to worry about.

I can’t believe that this was my last pregnancy-related appointment. This really was a significant day for me, and part of me was a little scared to see it come and go. Sometimes it is just so hard for me to believe that my pregnancy is finished. It went by so incredibly quickly. I spent a good amount of time mourning it during my first two weeks postpartum, and I still have the occasional pang when I see a big round belly–or photos of mine. I think it had to do with not knowing who I was post-pregnancy. I so easily embraced the identity of a pregnant me, and now I’ve got a new identity to embrace, and for some reason, that transition has been rocky. Lately, it’s making more sense to me, and I’m more easily saying goodbye to those beautiful months I spent gestating. It helps to see my son, in all his cherubic glory, kick-kick-kicking just as I imagined he was doing in the womb. It helps to look at the sweet foot that so frequently stuck out of the top of my belly. It helps all the more to see his big, wide-mouthed grin and to hug him close and to know that I’ve finally got what I have always wanted. Yeah, that helps a lot.

So here I am–T, the mom.

IMG_2961

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Filed under Baby Genius, midwife, post partum, Pregnancy

musings

I’m sitting here eating grapes from the biggest most perfect bunch of red grapes I’ve ever seen. Believe it or not, this is my first taste of local grapes (that aren’t fermented, bottled, and aged). I don’t know how I made it through last year living amongst hundreds of vineyards without eating local grapes, but this year, I have vowed to have many. If my wife would only fan me with palm fronds and feed them to me, I might then feel like a true fertility goddess.

~~~

When we attended our special, lesbians-only childbirth class session on Wednesday, our instructor asked why we were delivering at the hospital we had chosen. Both of us looked blankly at one another and told her we thought that was where our OB/midwife practice delivered. No, she assured us, that is their backup location for those whose insurance will not cover the big, new, fancy hospital where she works–the one with big rooms with windows overlooking a garden and showers in the rooms. Our state insurance will cover us anywhere. We’re now taking a tour of the big, fancy hospital in a week.

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My pubic bone pain has reached an all-time high. It hurts for me to turn over in bed, put on my pants, and so much more. After a long break from yoga, I did a 40-minute session yesterday only to put myself in more pain, so much pain that I now need an icepack between my legs. It’s looking like I’m developing something called symphysis pubis dysfunction despite my doc’s claim that this is all the normal stretching of ligaments. It may be time to find a chiropractor.

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After months of no strangers acknowledging my pregnancy (something about which I am decidedly not complaining), I now cannot leave the house without hearing the standard series of questions: When are you due? Do you know what you’re having? Are you ready? The readiness question always throws me a little. I want to be honest and say, “No, actually, I’ve got a trillion things to do and not enough hours in the day to complete them,” but instead I reply, “Mostly.” One woman at farmer’s market on Tuesday night looked at me and said, “Wow! How are you doing? You look like you’re just about ready!” I think I’m starting to notice a little bit of nervousness in people’s voices, like they might be fingering their phones just in case I decide to squat in front of them and have this baby RIGHT NOW.  Is it wrong that my first instinct when I see these people is to stop, grasp my belly, close my eyes, and breathe deeply?

~~~

Cindy asked the following of us a few days ago: What are you both 1- most excited about and 2- most worried about (in terms of actually being moms to egghead). I have been thinking about these two extremes a lot lately, perhaps because I vacillate between them so often. I think I’m most excited to get to know this little boy, to see who he brings out in us, to see what kind of family he helps us create. I’m looking forward to loving him bigger than I know, seeing the world through his eyes, and, mostly, just cuddling him and feeling him and seeing him in the flesh. In terms of worries, I’m probably most worried about the changes that J and I will go through, worried that we’ll miss our old life, worried that somehow we’ll screw him up, or that I’ll smother him and be overprotective, but those worries aren’t overwhelming.

My wife is most excited about discovering the world through our son’s eyes. She says, however, that she’s not worried, that she can’t possibly go into this feeling fear. While she says that she has the general fear of whether or not she will be good at this, she simply isn’t worried. I love this about her, and I believe her.

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The doula-in-training whom we were to meet this weekend had to back out because she has to go back home to Washington sooner than she thought. We’re a little bummed, but she’s passing word along to other doulas-in-training so that we might find someone else. So far, we have heard from one who is also a massage therapist and who happens to write chants and songs for people in life-changing situations. We’ll arrange to meet her. I think it might be quite interesting indeed to have a singing doula.

~~~

My wife is about to make me an iced, decaf espresso, and I may cry from gratitude. Maybe she’ll pull out those palm fronds after all.

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Filed under Pregnancy, Ramblings

limbo

I have mentioned a few times on this blog that our financial situation is occasionally a little precarious. As part-time, seasonal instructors at colleges, we are never guaranteed classes, and some semesters, we just don’t get them. This semester was one of them. I have an online job that I fall back on during these times, but it is part-time, and it offers no health coverage. J has now been actively searching for work and applying for jobs for the past three months with not even a phone call for an interview. It’s always a crap time to be out of work when our degrees and experience pigeonhole us to a very specific level and type of teaching, but right now, with the waves of layoffs and hiring freezes, it just flat sucks. She has been applying for jobs far beneath her experience and qualifications, but there are simply no bites. We both pick up temporary test scoring gigs from time to time, but again, these offer nothing in the way of stability or health insurance.

As a result of all this, we’re living on my little salary, a little bit we saved from the fall semester, and J’s unemployment, and we’re making ends meet. It’s tight, but it’s manageable. After so many years of this type of living, we know how to live on a budget.  Until the end of March, we had J’s health insurance from the university, which was okay. It was crap insurance (because for some reason, part-time seasonal instructors get crap insurance), so we now have medical bills for every ultrasound and test they ran, but at least the office visits were covered. For us, COBRA is not an option. Well, it is, technically, but it would cost us a thousand dollars a month, and this would mean choosing between a roof over our heads and crappy health insurance. Clearly, we choose the former.

As of the beginning of April, however, we have no health coverage. This is often the case in the first half of the year, but this year, I am pregnant, and this is not acceptable. We are fortunate in California to have a couple of programs for middle and lower income pregnant woman.

For months, I have known that if J did not find full-time work with benefits, we would be applying for the middle-income program, and I was happy with that. When applying for such a program, one has two options: prove one’s income via current check stubs, or prove one’s income via last year’s tax forms. Here is where our limbo began. When I sat down to apply, I discovered that our current income brings us thirty dollars under the minimum income to qualify, and last year’s tax forms bring us a couple of thousand dollars over. This led me to call their information line to find out what happens in these cases, and I was promptly sent to a call center in India where my questions did not fit the script the operator had, and so, I was told to apply anyway to see what would happen. I have to wait ten days.

If I don’t qualify, my application will be sent to Medi-Cal, where I also may or may not qualify. I am just thirty dollars under their uppler-level income cutoff. Next month, when J and I score tests, we will be a thousand or more dollars over, and this cycle will continue until September when J begins teaching again or when she finds a job. The anxiety produced by all of this is beyond words. I just want some fucking health coverage.

I have, for a long time, been a big proponent of universal healthcare. As someone who works in a field where healthcare is only provided to the lucky tenured few, I know what it is like to be my own doctor, to hope that I don’t get too sick during the off months because if I do, I’ll end up in the community clinic where they’ll assume I’m a drug-seeking junkie should I have any pain. Healthcare really shouldn’t be something for those in certain professions or those with perfect health (don’t get me started on being denied private insurance for “undiagnosed wrist pain”), but for now, in the good old U.S. of A., that’s precisely who it’s for.

So we may end up on Medi-Cal. My first feeling when I realized this was shame–shame that we can’t seem to find a more successful path, shame that somehow we’re not taking care of ourselves, or our baby. But we are, and there isn’t any reason for us to be ashamed. We pay into this system every year, and if we are to benefit from it, we’ll hold our heads high, and hope for the best. The greatest thing about it all would be that we would definitely be covered for prenatal care and birth at the birth center we want to transfer to. Our classes would be covered at the birth center, and our baby would be enrolled in a health care program for children when s/he is born. These are all such positive things that I’ll be happy if it works.

I think it’s important to talk about this, as personal and as uncomfortable as it all is. There are so many of us struggling to have our families. We struggle financially (and in so many other ways) just to get here, and then we struggle again once we’re here. But there doesn’t need to be shame in that (although I know plenty of people out there who believe otherwise), especially in these hard times.

We should know in a week where we stand. Until then, it’s limbo.

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Filed under health care, Pregnancy

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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Guess what’s in our dining room…

The above is a tank, or dewar, of you will. Inside this tank, we’ve got sperm on ice. This is our first ever frozen sperm, and it’s an exciting sight indeed.

The sperm showed up two days early, so if I have a freak early ovulation, we’ll be prepared. It’s good to be prepared. Also in stock are a fresh pack of ovulation tests, our very own speculum provided by our midwife, and a whole lot of excitement because, my friends, we are sperming up this week!

Today is CD10. My typical ovulation date in the past was day fifteen. It could come as early as day thirteen or wait as long as day 17. All I know is it’s on its way and the sperm is here and we are oh so ready.

Last night, our neighbor came over, and we created and blessed a new house altar dedicated solely to our new TTC efforts. You can see it below:

Of note on the altar are

  • the lavendar candle we always use to symbolize our future child,
  • a moonstone egg (perhaps the most obvious–and fabulous–fertility symbol one might muster up),
  • stones (both gemstones and river/ocean stones) that J and I have collected throughout our years together (these are surrounding the lavendar candle),
  • a rune symbolizing masculine energy and fertility (we thought some balance might be in order),
  • rose petals from our wedding this past June,
  • a prayer shawl blessed by Ammachi (a guru who embodies the divine mother from whom I received darshan–a type of blessing in the form of a hug–before I met J).

There are other altar staples as well–salt water in a bowl that was my great-grandmother’s, a big chunk of amethyst crystal, marigolds, sage, extra candles, and so on.  It feels so good to have this here, to be focusing our energies on creating our baby in such a fresh, new, positive way.

We’re also shifting our focus a little to see if it changes how we cope with this process. We obviously want a baby, and this has always been our focus, but for now we’re looking torward me being pregnant–looking more toward our immediate future. J keeps telling me how beautiful I will be when I’m pregnant, and I keep dreaming about how it will feel. Instead of thinking so much about that baby-shaped hole in our lives, we’re imagining how great it will be when I have a big giant belly full of baby when I officiate our friends’ wedding in July or how annoying and amusing it will be to be stifling nausea  and fatigue when I’m trying to grade final exams in December. Yes, these are the things I am looking forward to, these are the things that are driving us forward and keeping big grins across our faces tonight.

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Filed under Pregnancy, sperm, ttc