Third Trimester/Lamaze/Poetry

*Picture warning. Read at your own risk*

.

.

.

.

Friends, I’m totally in the third trimester. This is what I look like now, sans head:

28 weeks

Quite a change from the last picture I posted, no?

Sorry about the crappy picture. Clearly, we suck at photography, and/or the lighting in our bedroom is terrible. Let’s go with the lighting in our bedroom being terrible.

Sometimes I am overjoyed that we are going to meet our sweet girl in a few short months; I’m confident that if person X, who is an absolute moron, can manage then so can we. Sometimes I am filled with abject terror that we are going to meet our sweet girl in a few short months; I’m quite sure that we are going to scar our child for life with our woefully inadequate parenting. Sometimes I’m cheerful and calm as I run my hands over my belly, feeling the baby kick. Sometimes I’m enraged the universe could be so STUPID and UNFAIR to allow me to drop salsa on my sweater (actually, Tammy’s sweater, but these are details). Sometimes I’m sobbing hysterically because Smash got into college on Friday Night Lights, without stopping to question why I am watching a show about high school football when I a) hated high school and b) hate football. But these thoughts don’t occur to me as I wipe salsa smeared sleeves under my runny nose.

Sometimes I get all miracle-of-life-y about how I’m finally pregnant, and other times I feel like a little part of my soul dies every time I think about the one that didn’t make it. (And the whispers come from the tiniest echo of my heart, what if I wanted the first one? What if I cannot love my baby girl as much as I loved the one that I lost?)

Sometimes I revel in the attention that I get – me! Attention for being pregnant after so many months of running away from pregnant women! – and other times I feel like if one more person comments, questions, or offers advice I will absolutely strangle them with my bare hands. Since when did my body become public property?

(Speaking of comments, questions, and advice, as much as people like to offer all that up, unsolicited, including birth horror stories THANKS FOR SHARING, I’m pissed that no one told me about the weird pregnancy stuff. I’m not talking about nausea, backaches, etc. I was expecting that. I’m talking about things like nosebleeds, changes in body hair (increasing and decreasing), and carpel tunnel. Why does nobody talk about this? That’s some bullshit. I demand a refund.)

********

We had our first Lamaze class last week, and the second one tonight. We were the only lesbian couple, naturally. The instructor did her best, I guess, to use “partner” instead of “husband” or “dad,” but she mostly used “husband” or “dad.”

There was one incident that got to Tammy in particular, when the class was split up into pregnant women and partner groups. The idea was to go with your group and discuss positives and negatives about being pregnant and the impending delivery and child rearing. The instructor told Tammy to stay with the pregnant women, rather than going with the partners (who were, of course, all men). She told Tammy that she would be more comfortable with the women.

I know she was coming from a good place when she said that, but honestly, as Tammy told me later, she would have felt much better with the partner group, even though she would have been the only woman. The pregnant women group mostly talked about physical ailments of being pregnant, feeling the baby move, concerns/hopes/fears about the delivery, postpartum recovery, etc. Tammy can relate to that, but only as much as the rest of the partners could. Yes, she’s a woman who is the proud owner/operator of a uterus, but that uterus has never been occupied by a fetus, and there are no plans that it ever will be. When the partners came back into the room and we shared lists, Tammy sat there thinking, “yep, I have that fear. Yep, I’m excited about that, too.”

She was kind of pissed off that the teacher viewed her womanhood as more important than her partner status. It took me a while to see it from her point of view, but I get it now. The whole fertility process and now the whole pregnancy was/is SO MUCH about me, me, me. Obviously, there’s a reason for that, but Tammy’s role is vital in this process – and that is not hyperbole. Hats off to all the single moms by choice. You are brave and I am in awe of you. I am in no way, shape, or form strong or brave enough to do this on my own. I would have given up a thousand times before this moment if it weren’t for Tammy.

Anyway, we’re going to either send the instructor an email letting her know she might consider giving female non-gestational partners the option of which group to join, as I’m sure some would prefer to be in the pregnant women group. Others like Tammy, would prefer to be with the partners. Why bother trying to choose for them?

The Lamaze class moments that *I* could have lived without are as follows:

1. Watching the instructor jam a baby doll through a plastic pelvis with more vehement glee than I thought necessary

2. The realization that our large (LARGE) circular name tags were ten centimeters, “which is how big your cervix will be when you’re fully dilated!”

********

I want this poem framed on our baby’s nursery wall. It’s kind of cliché now, as it’s become pretty popular but I don’t care. My sister read it at our wedding, and I get goosebumps every time I hear it. I would copy/paste it here, but WordPress eats the formatting and I can’t do that to ol’ e.e.

Be well, friends. “this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart”

A Light in the Dark

A year ago this month we lost our first pregnancy.

This is a strange time of year for me, because of it. I was thinking the other day about how I really need to rake the leaves in the backyard and then I remembered, Oh! I was raking leaves the day before I started to bleed.

I had known it was coming – my hCG had dropped to 7 at my Thursday morning blood draw and the nurse told me it was a matter of days, if not hours. I took that Friday off from work and did chores all day, desperate for something to do, desperate for something to break through the heavy numbness that had washed over my body, and then sickly horrified when the next day something did.

That Friday when I got back from the grocery store, I headed out back and slowly, carefully raked the rotting yellow leaves into piles. As I raked, my thoughts skittered around in sharp jerks. I thought about those monks that created meticulous sand gardens only to destroy them. This thought was both strangely comforting and vaguely irritating. I thought about ladies in Victorian novels that were always dying of a broken heart. Previously this had seemed like a slightly pathetic yet amusing literary technique, and my know-it-all 10 year old self was smugly sure this wasn’t an actual, medical possibility. Now I questioned that former certainty. I thought about death. Would it hurt to die? Probably, I thought with detachment, it depended on how you died, but I wondered if your body reached a certain point and no longer felt anything? I hoped my baby wasn’t feeling anything. I hoped my baby was already dead, and my body was able to comfort it before it left, in the only home it ever knew. I wondered if a miscarriage would hurt, even one this early. I wondered if there would be anything to see. Would “it” come out resembling anything? Or would it just look like a period? It was awfully small, I thought, doubtfully.

Interspersed between these thoughts I was chanting over and over to myself. With each stroke of the rake I thought, “I’m sorry, baby. Mommy loves you. Mama loves you. I hope you’re not in pain. We’re so sorry. We couldn’t keep you. We couldn’t save you. I’m so sorry. I hope you’re not in pain. I love you. I’m sorry.”

I didn’t cry at all that day. I’d cried so much in the days preceding it that my body felt like a dried up and brittle husk. Each gust of the November wind threatened to shatter me into a thousand pieces.

I woke up early Saturday morning and thought for a brief moment that I was dying. The pain in my abdomen was strange and intense, but the pain in my chest gripped me so hard I could barely breathe. There was a howling in my head that seemed to echo around and around in my body.

I woke Tammy up at 5 and asked her to draw me a bath. My brain was only working in short bursts, and I could only seem to think one step at a time. All my brain could do was signal to my body to get somewhere warm, and float. So I did. The pain was coming in waves and I thought, how curious! I’m in the water, and the pain is like waves! My thoughts were stopped short by the realization of what those waves were. I lay there in the rapidly cooling water and thought, dully, “this is it.” I wasn’t bleeding yet, but I knew.

The howling and the waves of pain intensified as I stood up out of the now cold bath, and the first trickle of bright red blood ran down my leg. I watched it hit the tiled bathroom floor and said softly, “goodbye, sweet baby.”

Then I went back to bed.

Whole and Half Adoption: My Thoughts

I read all of your comments on my last post with great interest. Thank you, very much, for your insight and compassion into a contentious topic.

I wanted to first clear up what I consider to be poor writing on my part, for which I apologize. I was trying to be all vague and mysterious about where we live and it ended up coming across as just…muddled. Tammy will be listed on our child’s birth certificate as her other parent, and we will be given a temporary custody order until the adoption is processed, some six months after the birth. If we were never planning to go anywhere for the rest of our child’s life, this would be enough, legally, to ensure that both of us would be treated as our daughter’s legal parents. However, because there are many places in the United States that would not automatically assign Tammy parental rights (if not outright ban them), we have to go through with the adoption to protect our family in those states.

*****

Please note that everything that follows is a collection of my personal opinions, colored by interactions and discussions with friends and family members. I am not adopted myself, so I do not have first hand experience. If I offend anyone with what I say, please know that it is not my intent to do so, and be kind to me in explaining why you feel as you do.

Adoption is not a black and white issue for me. I, personally, do not like it when people (many Catholic and Evangelical groups, for instance) paint it as The Solution to an unwanted pregnancy (as opposed to abortion). I also do not think it is fair to say it’s always a Bad Thing, like my friend, and some in the adoption rights community say it is. It’s like life: complicated, and with trade offs (life is complicated you say? How shocking).

Encouraging biological family members to stay together is much more complicated than just providing free prenatal care, as some “crisis pregnancy centers” imply. (Gentle hint STRONG SUGGESTION: do not EVER go to a crisis pregnancy center. They are con artists.) You cannot have a discussion about adoption without discussing sex education for children and teens, education in general, access to contraception and abortion, the roles of religion and culture, social services to support lower socio-economic status women and children, social stigmas of welfare queens and teen moms, “anchor babies”, the role of biological fathers, cycles of poverty, the foster care industry, the for profit adoption industry, international adoption, parental rights, pregnant women’s rights, the “personhood” movement, and on and on. All of these things are, in my opinion, intrinsically linked. But phew! Who has time to discuss all that? And what legislation could possibly address all these things in a meaningful way?

In a perfect world, there would be no unwanted babies, and there would be no families who wanted babies but couldn’t have them. Obviously, this is not a perfect world (again, it’s truly shocking). I think we should do what we can to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, and assist in achieving pregnancy for those that desire it, but we have to acknowledge that there will never be a perfect balance.

So what to do about those babies that, for whatever reason, are being placed for adoption? If a family member is willing to take them, I think they should be given first dibs. If a family member is not readily available, I do not believe they should be coerced into taking in a child they cannot adequately care for.

If no family member is available or appropriate, then I think a child should be placed for adoption to the greater community, in whatever form the birth mother (and father, if applicable) are comfortable with: open, semi-open, closed, etc.

Ideally, a child will have access to a basic medical history of both sides of his or her family (obviously, this is not always possible or practical). I do not think that adoption records should be destroyed, unless the birth mother specifically requests, after a certain period of time, that they be. If an adopted child wants to have contact upon reaching adulthood with their biological family, a court appointed independent third party should be assigned as a liaison to coordinate that contact, i.e. contacting the birth parents and asking their consent to provide the offspring with their name(s) and contact information. If the birth parent(s) do not want to provide contact, then the process stops there.

That may seem harsh to children desperately searching for information about their genetic history. I do not, however, believe that we are entitled, as a human right, to extensive genetic information. I also do not believe that once a child is born, their right to know trump the right to privacy of the person who gestated them.

****

As far as my own child goes, we did a lot of thinking, obviously, about the role of biology, nature/nurture, the role of fathers, gambling with genetics, and fate before we settled on our donors. All three of our donors were chosen from a pool of willing to be known (WTBK) men, rather than the totally anonymous men.

We do have basic medical information about the donor, as well as some family medical history. We have a short recording of his voice, and pictures of him as a baby, a child, and an adult. We have the option of signing up with the donor sibling registry (DSR) to find other children created in part by the same donor.

We chose not to go with an anonymous donor because we do feel that genetics and biology are important, but to what degree we do not know. And we don’t know how important our child will view them. As the lovely blogger over at Bionic Mamas says:

“The biggest reason we chose a willing-to-be-known donor is that we wanted to be able to say to the Bean that even before he was a bean, we were thinking of him as his own person, whose thoughts and desires might well be different from our own.”

Isn’t that fabulous? You should go read the whole post. Also follow the blog.

Do I resent the fact that Tammy and I cannot combine our genes to create a child? Yes. Selfishly, deep down in my reptilian heart, I’m damn angry that we cannot have a child that is created out of our deep love for each other. I’m angry that our child will not look like both of us. I’m angry that all of the little quirks that combine to make Tammy the lovable, exasperating, funny, and gloriously wonderful human being she is will not be reflected in our child.

I also resent the fact that some people (again, like my friend in the adoption rights community) will consider the donor our daughter’s father. Parenting is so much more than providing DNA. It’s more than giving birth. And I resent the hell out of the idea that there are some people who will always consider a one time DNA donation a permanent admittance card to the parenting club.

But I cannot afford to go too far down that road my friends, because that way bitterness lies.

And a child is more than the sum of their genetic parts. Genes do absolutely play an important role, but how can that role be quantified against all the daily mundane slog and earth shattering crisis that make up a life lived?

In the end, our child will be her own person. She may turn out different from how she would have if she were raised by a biological mother and a father. But we make millions of conscious and unconscious choices in our lifetime that change who we are and who we could become. There are also things that we have no control over that influence the sum of our parts.

Ultimately, Tammy and I are just one of them, for better or for worse.

The Measure of a Woman

I never really knew my grandmother. She died when I was a kid, but I don’t remember a time when she wasn’t sick. She had Alzheimer’s.

GrandmaGrandma, going fishing, probably around 1935.

My only real memory of her revolves around this antique doll she kept at her house. My sister and I were playing with it once, when I was about 6. She saw us playing with the doll and came running into the living room. “Stop that!” she shrieked. “That’s MY doll!” She snatched the doll out of my hands and whacked me aside with it. She thought she was a little girl again, and some other kid was stealing her best toy.

My other memories of her are a hodgepodge of her laying in the hospice/elder care home we moved her to when my Grandad could no longer take care of her. Her Alzheimer’s was in a fairly advanced state at this point, and she no longer talked or walked. My mom would bring my sister and me to see her once a week, and we would shuffle in, awkward and unsure. We’d say a few things to her, prodded by our mother, but Grandma never looked at us or responded. I was always relieved to get out of that room. I felt like I had escaped some looming terror.

She died of pneumonia following a stroke when I was ten years old.

The grandma that I didn’t know was a study in contradictions. Born on a tobacco plantation in southern Maryland, she was raised to be a southern lady and was bewildered by the changes that the 1960s and her hippie children brought. She was shy and gentle, to the point of running from cameras and never standing up for herself when her husband bullied her. But she also left home before she was married, and lived on her own during World War II. She moved to Baltimore and ran a steel mill and played the drums in an all women band. She later married a divorced man (my Grandad, who converted from Catholicism after his first marriage so he could re-marry) and became a military wife. She never worked outside of the home again. I wonder if she used up the last of her will to rebel before she married, or if it slowly leaked out of her like a deflating balloon as the weight of life bore down on her shoulders.

Grandma & Grandad

My grandparents, sometime in the 1940s, before they married.

My mom says the one and only time she remembers her mother yelling at her as a child was this: It was the mid 1950s, and my Grandma was trying to vacuum the stairs. My mom was very young at this point, probably 4 or 5, and she was trying to help my Grandma, but was of course mostly in the way. My Grandma was probably frustrated and tired and worn out from caring for three small children while moving from military base to military base all over Europe. She apparently turned to my mom and snapped something like “S___ will you quit?! You’re in the way!” My mom’s eyes filled with tears, and she told my grandma that she was “trying to help.” My grandma turned off the vacuum, sat down on the stairs, and pulled my mom onto her lap. “Oh S___, I’m sorry. You’re right, you were helping and I’m sorry I yelled at you. Thank you for being my helper, and I love you.” She never yelled at any of her children again.

Grandma & Grandad w Grandaughters

My grandparents with my sister, me, and two of my cousins, sitting on the porch steps to my Grandma’s family plantation home in the 1980s.

But contrast that gentle love with the same woman who believed the sharecroppers that worked her family’s land were a different species, some kind of sub-human that should not have any kind of meaningful interaction with “her kind,” and was never able to reconcile her racist beliefs with the ’60s race revolution.

A woman who, along with my Grandad, paid off three different girls who got “in trouble” by my uncle in high school to “deal with the problem”. What exactly that means (adoption, abortion, etc) was never made clear.

A woman who donated so much blood during World War II that she became sick and weak, and her health never really recovered. She would remain fragile for the rest of her life.

And she was also a woman who had at least one miscarriage, and then a surprise baby at age 44. A woman wouldn’t let anyone tell my aunt that she was a “mistake,” and laughed and smiled as my mom, 11 years old, danced her baby sister around the living room, calling her “blondie angel,” and “my first baby.”

Grandma w Kids

My mom and her siblings with my Grandma in the early 1960s.

She was also the woman who never, ever said a word when my Grandad would say, at every meal “C____, get up and get me another drink!” despite the fact that to get the milk out of the fridge, he wouldn’t even have to get out of his chair. Every single meal, for years, my grandma hopped up without complaint, until my mom and her siblings started to talk back for her. “Get it yourself, Dad!” they would exclaim.

My grandma would have been 97 this month. I miss a woman who I never knew, someone who I never will know.

Happy Birthday, Grandma.

Like a Sleeping Baby

Thank you, lovees, for your helpful suggestions yesterday. Last night I had a snack before bed (whole wheat toast with peanut butter), took a unisom, put in ear plugs, and went to sleep, blissful sleep. I only woke up three times to pee. While I wouldn’t say I feel like a new woman, I DO feel like I can function and that I remember my own name. Which is a marked improvement. I’ll take waking up 3 times versus waking up 10 times for all and sundry reasons any day of the week.

I do feel a little silly for freaking out yesterday on my blog. A gigantic THANK YOU and a hearty smooch to everyone for not pointing out that a) it was only two nights, so, you know, buck up and b) I’m going to have a baby (knock on every type of wood available) in threeish months, and perhaps I should get used to sleep deprivation?

Because here’s the thing: both of those thoughts had occurred to me, even in my befuddled state. YES, it was only two nights. Apparently (she said, sheepishly) I had a bit of a panic attack that this was my new reality and how would I function and OMG what if my heart just exploded like one of those Japanese executives that work 20 hour days and end up keeled over in front of my cubicle or oh God what if I’m at home and Tammy’s out of town and the cat runs out of food and eats me and they discover my partially eaten body days later? …like I said, I don’t do so well without sleep.

Which brings me to the next point, which is that we’re going to have a baby soon, and babies, despite being delicious, are not widely known for their sustained sleeping. I am aware of this fact, and have gone into this pregnancy with my eyes open about the difficulties we will face once the baby is here (and there are plenty, believe me). I know that sleeping will be a challenge, I know that. But first of all, I won’t be having to get up for work like I am now (for at least three months, hopefully four if we can swing it financially). And right now (subject to change), we are anticipating that I will sleep in the guest room with the baby in a bassinet once Tammy goes back to work (after two or three weeks) so that she can be in charge of basically everything except feeding and wiping baby bum until I can get my metaphorical feet on the metaphorical ground. We’re basically anticipating that I will be completely useless around the house (cooking, cleaning, laundry, conversating, etc) for a while. Thus my freezer meals. And my parents helping out around the house.

And, hey. We could end up with a good sleeper. I was, apparently. My mom said by like two weeks I was going down around 7, sleeping until midnight, waking up then to be fed, and then sleeping again until 5 or so. After the early morning feeding I would fall back asleep and go until 8 or 9. Why, that’s downright civilized for a two-week old! As much as my parents like to cackle about me getting a child just like I was (read: a handful), in this instance I hope they are right.

I Need Some Advice

I feel like crap.

For the past two nights I’ve woken up every hour or so, and wake up a final time in the morning feeling like utter garbage. I wake up to pee, I wake up because Tammy’s snoring, I wake up because I’m uncomfortable, I wake up because I’m too hot, I wake up because I’m too cold, I wake up because my back hurts, my arm hurts, my what-the-fuck-ever hurts. And last night I woke up at 3am because my stomach hurt. I was up for almost two hours with stomach pain – menstrual like cramps, nausea, a few stabbing pains here and there.

So what the fuck people. I’m sorry if I’m coming across as a whining pregnant lady to a bunch of people who would love nothing more to be in my shoes, but I’m desperate here. I know it’s only two nights, but I’m a sleeper. I crave sleep. Deep, luxurious sleep that you melt into. When I don’t sleep, nothing works right. I’m clumsy, thick tongued, sore throated, queasy, short tempered, close to tears.

And today I have the added bonus of my stomach *still* hurting. Plus my fingers are swollen, which makes trying to type and do any kind of work freaking annoying.

What do I do? How do I sleep? How do I fix this? Any and all advice is welcome.

All Clear/Swooning/Eye Roll/Answered Prayers

All Clear
Baby Girl Pirate is just fine. Whatever it was, it is no longer. To say I’m relieved is an understatement, but there are no other words to describe it. We’ll have to go with relieved.

Swoon/Eye Roll
Why has no one ever told me how fun power tools are? Seriously. Fun. My parents loaned us their electric hedge/bush trimmer, as we’ve been trying to maintain our rather formal yard with hand trimmers. When we bought the house we didn’t realize the guy who owned it before us had someone come by a few times a week to take care of the gardening. Upon realizing this fact, we were filled with optimistic anticipation about how good of a job we would do on our own! And how much money we would save! We were sadly, sadly mistaken. Gardening is hard work, y’all. HOWEVER, I have discovered that electric trimmers are a game changer. They slice through bushes like butter. Awesome!

Before I could get out there and start a’trimmin’, Tammy spent the morning shooting me worried looks, and making comments like “just…take it easy out there, babe.” (OK, side note: we went to labor and delivery last weekend because I was having sharp sustained pains in my lower left abdomen. After ruling out all the Scary Bad Things like pre-term labor, organ problems (for me), etc., the doctor decided I had pulled a muscle in my stomach during an over enthusiastic closet re-organization session and sent me home. I tell you this to give context to Tammy’s worries.)

I blithely assured her I would be fine, and raced outside to bring our bedraggled bushes back to their manicured state. Not 15 minutes into my lawn grooming session, Tammy came outside to check on me, still wearing her worried look. It was hot outside (90 damn degrees in October, what the actual fuck is that about) and the trimmer was kind of heavy, so I promised her I would be inside shortly. I kept up my end of the bargain, and trooped inside a few minutes later to find her preparing a huge glass of ice water. She hovered around me while I drank it and asked me no less than five times if I would also like some juice. Or a snack.

Love that woman. She can make me swoon and roll my eyes at her simultaneously, a rare and elusive quality in a person.

wuv u potatoHow I often feel about Tammy.

Answered Prayers
A friend of mine posted something on FB over the weekend that pissed me the hell off:

Yesterday God answered prayers in a way that we couldn’t have even imagined. He is so faithful!! Thank you to our community who was praying for us. Today is going to be a much better day for [name of franchise she and her husband own]. 🙂

FIRST of all, the whole “answered prayer” thing. I’m sorry, but it just makes zero sense to me. Why would god answer YOUR prayers but ignore others? Obviously I’m sensitive about this in the context of pregnancy and babies. Why would god answer one infertile’s prayers and not another? Do you have some direct line? Do you pay for access? Do you have more people praying on your behalf and god somehow tallies prayers to decide which ones to grant? And furthermore, why is it that god is answering prayers about this dumb franchise that you own, but not prayers of, I dunno, people out of jobs entirely, or people with sick spouses/children, or, hell people living in damn war zones, starving to death.

Prayer PositionOk, I figured it out. Prayers are answered when one assumes the correct position.

SECOND of all, what is up with god being faithful to you? Isn’t that supposed to be the other way around? This is not the first time I’ve seen or heard people express that sentiment and I’m still baffled. Are we now the ones to be worshiped? God swears loyalty to us?

FINALLY (although not really finally, I could go on about this all day but I’m sparing you), why is it when good things happen it’s because they’ve been “blessed” by god answering their prayers, and when bad things happen it’s still god, but it’s “all part of his plan” and “we aren’t meant to understand”. Why the fuck not? We can understand when we’re “blessed,” so are we being cursed on the flip side? Is that how I should understand it?

Is there really some magical/divine presence that directs our lives like an air traffic controller? If so, does he/she/it decide how our lives are going to go before we’re born, sometime during our lives based on behavior, or based on past lives behavior? Because if it’s before we’re born, that’s kind of fucked up, no? That someone could be born doomed to live in pain and fear and hunger, and someone else be born with a silver spoon shoved up their ass? (Granted, that does sound rather painful.) I cannot accept the argument that god makes things happen to us based on behavior, because I think we’ve all seen some mighty fucked up things happen to wonderful people, and vice versa. Like pregnancy – some of you out there struggling deserve to be parents way more than so many people I know. And yet your struggle continues.

Why? It makes no sense. But fuck being “blessed,” and fuck “answered prayers.” I call bullshit.

A Scolding

Thanks for the lovely comments on my last post. My follow up appointment isn’t until October 1st, so I’m just trying to operate under the assumption that all is well and will resolve itself properly.

****************

For the past few weeks I’ve been having Braxton Hicks contractions. I didn’t really realize what they were at first, but after looking it up online I’m sure that’s what they are. (Side note: what did we ever do before the internet?) They aren’t painful, per se, but they are uncomfortable. I feel short of breath and my stomach feels tight. If I put my hands to my lower abdomen, it feels like a hard ball has taken up residence there. If I hold my hands to my stomach I can eventually (after about a minute) feel the muscles relax. It sort of feels like the muscles are melting away.

I feel the BHs most when I do the following:
a) don’t drink enough and get ever so slightly dehydrated
b) refrain from peeing for more than a damn minute, causing my bladder to fill up with a thimbleful of urine.
c) sit for too long, like in the car or at my desk
d) lay on my back

I’ve just been kind of living with the BHs, but I mentioned them to a friend of mine at work today and he told me I should call my doctor. He didn’t think it was normal to have BHs so early. So I called and left a message with the nurses line. A nurse called me back just now and proceeded to scold me for the following:
a) not drinking enough water and getting dehydrated (she said I’m supposed to be drinking 16oz of water per hour. Good LORD. Why don’t I just glue a toilet to my ass now?)
b) not emptying my bladder at the “first urges” (see my comment above about gluing a toilet to my ass)
c) not changing my position enough, i.e. sitting for too long. Does this give me a “get out of boring meetings free card?”
d) laying on my back. I know that laying on your side (“preferably your left side”) is the best position, but I thought the back was still an option.

I’m not really worried that this is a sign of early labor, as my cervix looked good at my 20 week scan (no shortening or effacing or any of that) and I haven’t had any fluid leakage. Also, the internet says BHs are not an indication you’re going into labor if they remain infrequent and don’t form into any kind of pattern. Is 3-4 a day infrequent?

Shit. Apparently not only am I crap at getting pregnant, I’m crap at being pregnant.

Oh well. Off to drink gallons of water, wearing my depends, while changing positions frequently.

The Fundamental Things Apply / As Time Goes By

We had our 20 week anatomy scan this morning. That’s the big one where they check all of the organs and can tell you the sex, if you want to know. We did want to know, even though it doesn’t make much of a difference. The things we want for our child (kindness, empathy, bravery, sense of humor) aren’t sex or gender specific.

When I was younger, I was adamant that I wanted a girl. “I don’t know anything about boys!” I’d wail. But my mistake there was to assume, despite my Women & Gender Studies degree, that females have innate traits that I would have an automatic connection with, and that males have innate traits I would not understand. Such silliness. I would like a child that I can snuggle with, and read books with, and cook with. Tammy would like a child that will play outside with her, go camping with her, and swim in the ocean with her. But you know what? A child of any sex or gender combination will not guarantee us a child that enjoys any or all of those things. Our first lesson in parenting is to accept our child for who they are, regardless of what is between their legs and in their heart. What we ultimately want is for our child(ren) to find what brings them joy.

******

At the perinatal clinic (with the high res ultrasound machines), I asked the receptionist if I need a full or empty bladder for my 20 week anatomy scan. She assured me it didn’t matter, so I went to relieve myself, glad I wouldn’t have to spend an uncomfortable hour being prodded in the (full) bladder. When I came out of the bathroom, an Asian gentleman with a heavy accent started scolding me (that much was clear from his tone) but I had no freaking clue what he was trying to say. Tammy read my blank look, and interpreted that I shouldn’t have gone pee, that he needed my bladder full to check my cervix. I told the ultrasound tech that the receptionist told me it was OK (I’m such a tattle-tale) and he stormed off to scold her.

Unfortunately, his accent did not improve while he did the scan. He muttered to himself, ignoring us most of the time when we asked questions, occasionally including “good, good, look fine, eveyting look fine”. My first clue that there might be a problem was when we were measuring the “alus” (“the what?” “the alus…you know…baby poo poo” “oh, the aNus. Gotcha”) and I saw these dark circles in the lower abdomen.

“What are those dark circles?” I asked, three times. He finally responded, “I take picture, review after.” But then he told us the sex, and I sort of forgot about those circles.

It’s a girl. Whatever that means, in all its glory.

After he finished taking his pictures, he told us he was going to go review and would be back in later. We waited around 20 minutes and then a doctor came in. She told us that the tech had trouble getting one or two shots of the brain that she would try to get (she did successfully), but also that she wanted to review one of the pictures he did get of the abdomen. All of a sudden, I remembered those dark circles and got nervous.

It turns out that either the baby has enlarged bowels or cysts on her ovaries. Apparently it’s difficult to tell at this point of fetal development exactly what these fluid filled spaces are. We need to come back in two weeks to see if the spots have gotten bigger or smaller. It’s entirely possible that, whatever the issue is, it will resolve itself. If the spots are not gone, the perinatologist will refer us to have an MRI, which will give us an even more detailed look than the high-resolution scan at the perinatology center (and those scans are crazy detailed).

From my googling this morning, I’ve determined that fetal ovarian cysts are often a result of the large amounts of hormones circulating in MY body. Which makes me feel insanely guilty, and does inject the worry that I’ve harmed our daughters future fertility, should she want to have kids at some point. Most fetal ovarian cysts resolve themselves before birth or shortly after.

Enlarged bowels can be a sign of blockages in the intestines. AKA, my baby is already full of shit (if I don’t laugh, I’ll cry. Work with me here). I ALSO feel guilty about this, like I’ve given my daughter my own screwed up bowels (chronic constipation, etc). Again, these often work themselves out before birth or shortly after.

Worst case for both scenarios would mean regular ultrasounds leading up to the birth, possible induction, and ultrasounds for the baby after birth. Worst WORST case scenario would mean surgery shortly after the baby is born to either remove the cysts or blockages.

Obviously, I wish the scan had gone perfectly and shown no problems. But I’m surprised at how well I’m taking the news. I’m trying to be fair and reasonable when describing this to my parents (“the doctor wasn’t what I would call ‘concerned’, but she does want to monitor it”) and not wallow in melodrama, as is so often my want. I’ve done a little bit of googling, but I’ve tried to skim-without-really-reading the posts where women say “my baby had this and it meant X number of surgeries” or “my baby had this and it was a sign of cystic fibrosis” or “my baby had this and we had to remove her ovaries” or “my baby had this and then she died”. Wow, guess I read more of those than I thought, huh?

Aaaaaaaaanyway, I’m doing reasonably well, for me. I’m trying to focus on her sweet arms and legs kicking me, and my happy laugh as I got to see visual evidence of what I’ve been feeling for weeks (side note to my daughter: no wonder my bladder hurts every time I stand up. You’re doing a straight up goal scoring kick into it!) with regard to movement. I got to see Tammy’s face as we looked at our daughter’s profile, her yawning mouth, and her little fingers giving us the “here’s looking at you, kid.” Maybe we should name her Ingrid?

Here's Looking at You, Kid 3

Here’s looking at you, kid. We are in awe of how marvelous you are.

Ramblings

Tammy did not get that job that would have required us to move, after three rounds of interviews. On one hand, I’m incredibly relieved that moving is no longer on the table (for now), especially because my parents are closing on a house in our neighborhood on Friday. On the other hand, I had worked myself around to a place where I could view moving as an adventure and an opportunity for us, and a chance for me to stay at home with the baby in January.

Tammy’s getting more and more excited about having a baby. As she puts it “my excitement is directly proportional to the size of your belly”. Even I can’t deny that I have a distinct bump that can only mean one thing. Random people have been more comfortable coming right out and asking me if I am pregnant, which is oddly discomforting. Saying yes feels almost…embarrassing, like I’ve been caught with my hand in the cookie jar. Or like a teenager caught smoking or something.The flip side to this embarrassment is that I’ve become much more comfortable talking about the work it took for us to get pregnant. I drop IVF and frozen embryos into discussions of pregnancy and siblings like it’s no big deal at all. Look at me, normalizing IF and shit.

Speaking of normalizing, I’ve been working on acting like a normal pregnant lady who’s relatively assured of a baby at the end of this process. Tammy’s been painting the baby room, and we’re planning what furniture to buy. I’ve been researching day care options (OMFG expensive). I’m planning meals to make and freeze for the early days after the baby’s born and I even made my first one: tomato soup from Smitten Kitchen. I’ve made the recipe a few times before, but this was my first time making it with fresh tomatoes from my mom’s garden. I did the whole blanch and shock thing to get the skins off easily, which worked like a charm. The fresh tomatoes (as opposed to canned) made the soup taste much more…tomato-y, if you know what I mean. Not a bad thing, just an observation.

I’m planning to make a few more soups (potato, broccoli cheese) and casserole type things (lasagna (don’t have a link to the vegan recipe I use), chicken pot pie (again, don’t have a link but it’s from here, which I highly, highly recommend). Any other suggestions, especially healthy suggestions (note my decidedly unhealthy options above) for freezer meals? Keep in mind that I’m vegetarian and Tammy’s vegan, but I’m pretty good at veganizing recipes (i.e. subbing veggies stock for chicken stock, faux meet for real meet, almond/soy/rice/etc milk for cow’s milk, etc).

I have a few posts rattling around in my brain but the biggest one is about religion and faith*. So, obviously a very light post that is a breeze to write. Another one is my struggle to be sensitive to people trying so hard to get pregnant while celebrating my own pregnancy. So, also quite fun and light. Slightly less heavy is the post on the second parent adoption proceedings that Tammy will go through after the baby is born.

Happy Fall, everybody.

*Working title: “On Why I Burst Into Tears When Discussing God and Death, or Spiritual Malaise”