Out of Sorts/Quarter-OK-30ish-Life-Crisis-Maybe?

I realized a few weeks ago that I have spent years in the pursuit of conception, pregnancy, postpartum, or infancy survival. Literally YEARS. Surely that kind of uterus gazing cannot be healthy. So I tried to think about myself not as a proud owner/operator of a uterus or as a mother, but as an individual, and consider what I would list as a hobby or interest, if asked, (not that I have been asked, but conceivably there might be a situation in which I was asked such a question) and I could not think of a single thing.

Guys. Have I become a conservative’s dream woman, aka a walking uterus? (No, because: the gay. But still, moving dangerously into that territory.)

Maybe I’m feeling this acutely right now because I’ve been so heavily in toddler mode. (I typed out a whole breakdown of my day here but it was so boring I had to delete it.) Tammy’s working really hard on her master’s program right now, so the bulk of the childcare falls to me.

Maybe I’m having a some-time-in-life-crisis? Maybe it’s normal to feel this way as a mother?

It’s so incredibly frustrating, because I adore my daughter. She is funny, and smart, and of course stunningly, achingly adorable, and trust me when I tell you that I very clearly remember all of the blood, sweat, tears, and credit cards we went through to have her with us.

But is it so bad to want more from life? Is it so bad to want Ellie, but also want friends? Is it so bad to crave baby snuggles/board books/squeals of laughter with pretentious intellectual debates in coffee shops, hipster glasses optional? Is it so bad that I simultaneously love the expression on Ellie’s face when I go into her room in the morning, and desperately, achingly want to check into a hotel, eat and drink massively marked up room service and then sleep until noon? Is it so wrong that I love feeling her head heavily rest on my shoulder as I put her to bed at night, and feel, well, trapped by the schedule of naptime, bedtime, snack, bottle, etc., etc., etc.?

So speak to me, o wise women of the internet. How do you deal with the push and the pull of being both an individual person and a mother? Going guilt free? (how?!??) Medication? (Which one(s)??!) Occasional weekend babysitter?? (Not actually a bad idea…) School me in your ways.

Eggs, Cancer, and Sleeping Lions

Yesterday, Ellie got diagnosed with a food allergy, and I was overjoyed.

Let me back up.

We gave her egg for the first time when she was about eight months old, and she immediately broke out into angry red hives. Seriously, she had three bites of scrambled egg and a rash developed around her mouth. Then her cheeks turned bright red like she’d been slapped. Five minutes later her body was covered in hives. She wasn’t terribly fussy, and she didn’t have trouble breathing (thankyougod) so the nurse we talked to at our pediatrician’s office told us she was probably OK. The next morning the hives had turned into small red bumps and her eyes were puffy, so her pediatrician told us to make an appointment with the allergy clinic at the children’s hospital in our city.

Yesterday was that appointment and her allergy was confirmed.

Allergy

After the scratch test confirmed the allergy we had her blood drawn to determine the best course of action (food challenge with egg baked into something? Food challenge with pure egg? Avoidance of all egg forever and ever amen?). We also had a stern talking-to by a nurse about the protocol for epi pens, cross contamination, forms for daycare, medical alert bracelets (!) and the like.

So why am I so overjoyed about this?

Well, at this particular children’s hospital, the allergy clinic shares a wing with immunology, hematology, and outpatient oncology. This meant we were sharing a waiting room with some very, very sick kids.

Now first of all, if my kid had cancer, I would be pissed that she had to hang out in a waiting room with a bunch of germy kids. Seriously, is it too much to ask for our own waiting room? Damn.

But from a (horribly, incredibly) selfish perspective, it was terribly distressing to see pediatric oncology patients. Cancer is absolutely one of those worst nightmare situations, a hypothetical that my mind cannot fully contemplate. Any time my thoughts turn to that particular nightmare, I immediately disengage and zip off in another direction, like the mere mention of cancer actually burned my brain, like the word cancer sends an electric shock deep into my psyche.

Seeing those kids brought my woe-is-me-ing into harsh perspective, because here’s the truth: yes, it does suck and it is scary that Ellie has this allergy. I really don’t have any experience with the food allergies, and I now have another thing to add to my mental list of things to freak out about when I’m trying to fall asleep: anaphylactic shock. Fun!

But you know what is awesome? How incredibly, shockingly lucky we are.

We have access to world class doctors at a hospital entirely devoted to children that is five minutes from our house.

We can afford to pay to be seen by those doctors.

We can afford medications that will keep our daughter alive in the event of a severe reaction.

We send our daughter to a daycare that will take her allergy seriously and have members of the staff trained to administer epi pens as needed.

We are educated enough to understand her diagnosis and treatment.

We are empowered enough to advocate for our child.

It is a food allergy. Not cancer.

So last night, Ellie and I put on our dancing shoes and had a dance party in the kitchen while we made our (egg free) dinner. Our song came on, and we kicked up our heels to the mighty jungle and howled at the moon and the peaceful village and toasted our good luck and great fortune.

 

Patience & Sarah

My mom told me when I was little about a Native American tribe that had a tradition of giving children a middle name with a virtue they needed to work on. She bestowed me with the middle name “patience”.

(Off topic: have you read that book? Not the best book I’ve ever read, but it’s about lesbians in a puritan/old-timey setting, and y’all know how much I love old-timey settings.)

I’m 39 weeks today and my emotions are…complicated. Obviously I’m in considerable physical discomfort. My back hurts. My stomach aches from cramps and contractions. I can’t poop anything besides tiny little nuggets after the largest effort you’ve ever seen (yeah, I said it), I can’t sleep for more than a few hours – at most – at a time, I can’t get comfortable, etc etc blah blah.

Emotionally I’m all over the map. I’m excited, I’m nervous, I’m exasperated, I’m irritable, I’m short tempered, I’m weepy, etc etc blah blah. One second I want to murder the cat because he won’t stop trying to jump in the pack ‘n’ play and the next second I’m cuddling him and leaking tears over how his life is going to change once the baby gets here and I won’t have time for him anymore and *sob*.

Phew! Time for a palate cleanser.

kitten-situps

I told Tammy the other day that I feel like a five year old waiting for Christmas combined with a person suffering from odontophobia knowing they have an appointment at the dentist soon but no one will tell them when that appointment is. It could be sprung on them at any moment! Out of nowhere a dentist looms toward them with the mask and the scary light and the instruments of dental torture!

dentist 2

I never thought I’d make it as far as I have. Even knowing that first time moms tend to go a little over their due date, I was sure, deep down in my bones, that this baby girl would come early. I still technically have a week until my due date but the constant cycle of hope (“could this be it?!”) to defeat (“nope. fuck.”) brings up uncomfortably depressing memories of the two week wait.

I’ve been having regular, time-able contractions since this past weekend. Most of the time they’re about 10 minutes apart, but occasionally they spread out to more like 15 or 20 (or even 30) minutes apart, of they get closer together – like 5 minutes or even 3 minutes. I’ll get all excited about the 3 or 5 minute apart contractions but until a few days ago changing positions or eating/drinking would make them go away. HOWEVER, yesterday walking around and/or eating didn’t make them go away – and plus they were getting stronger and more intense. After days of having my hope crushed I allowed myself to start to think that maybe, possibly, could be…and then it wasn’t. They spaced out and got more sporadic – some 8 minutes apart, some 15, etc.

unimpressed cat

We read in our Lamaze labor and delivery book that this is classic pre-labor. It was comforting and exciting to read about my symptoms as being normal and generally part of the overall process, but I nearly threw the book across the room when I read this could continue for days or even weeks. What do you mean weeks, Lamaze book?! Weeks is not an acceptable word to use in this context!! These contractions are mostly not too terrible – just uncomfortable. Every now and then I have one that ups the ante on the ol’ pain scale and takes my breath away. But then they go back to being uncomfortable.

wtf is that

Honestly, I do feel like I’ll make to delivery physically OK, but mentally?

kermit dance

Your bet is as good as mine.

An Unworthy Cassandra

I’m officially full term today, by anyone’s standards! 38 weeks!

Those sentences are about as cheery as this post is going to be, so if that’s all you’re here for (you must come here…infrequently) you can quit reading now.

I’ve had two episodes so far of thinking “maybe…could this be…am I imagining this?” Both episodes involved me waking up in the middle of the night to cramping and contractions – and a full blown panic attack. Last night was the most recent one, and it was preceded by a whole day of period like cramps, an evening of irregular and far apart contractions, a teary panic attack, and then the nighttime wake up.

I feel absolutely ridiculous. The nursery is ready. The car seat is installed. I’ve passed off 90% of my work at the office, my out-of-office message is primed and ready. We’ve got tons of food in the freezer. My parents are on stand-by. I am physically uncomfortable and desperately anxious to meet our baby girl. So why the panic? Why the tears?

Well, for one, because it hurts.  And I lay there, watching the minutes tick by (3:34….3:35….3:36…) and think to myself, “Ouch. Fuck. That actually kind of hurt. Ugh, I hate period cramps and this totally feels like period cramps. Now I feel like I’m going to barf. Awesome. Wait, THAT feels like my stomach has been put into a vice. FUCK. That HURTS. FUCK THIS SHIT. TAMMY WAKE UP OW OW OW.” etc. And then I remember that, hey, I’m not even really in labor yet. Regardless if it is early labor (unlikely considering I’m not having contractions now, and only super mild cramping) or false labor, things are going to get a whole lot more painful before I’m done. And, to be brutally honest, I’m not sure I can stand it.

Emotionally, I’m a complete and total wreck. I’m cognizant enough to know it all comes from a place of fear. Fear of labor and delivery. Fear of the recovery. Fear of postpartum depression. Fear that I won’t somehow recognize my daughter. Fear that I won’t love her. Fear that Tammy won’t love her. Fear that she won’t love us. Fear that my relationship with Tammy will deteriorate. Fear that all those instincts you hear about just…won’t exist in me – that my trouble getting pregnant was some kind of indicator, some kind of Cassandra warning that I should have heeded.

Fear. Sickening, gut wrenching fear. Somehow, the birth of my daughter only became real in the past week or two. All through the months of fertility treatment and all through this pregnancy I never really allowed myself to imagine holding my child in my arms. And that fear, the fear that my dream would never happen, was awful and soul crushing but it only made me double down and grit my teeth. I was bound and determined that I would have a baby if it was the last thing I ever did. It became an all consuming obsession. Now that I’m faced with the reality of that obsessive, angry, steadfast drive coming to fruition, I find myself staring into the abyss – one of pain and darkness and I am unworthy of this.

Baby girl, please come out and prove me wrong.

Full Termish, and Thoughts Thereof

I’m full term today! Maybe! Depending on who you ask! Apparently, 38 weeks is the new 37 weeks, according to some or other doctors association. Oddly enough for me (it is me, after all) I’m not stressing about it.

You know what I am stressing about? Having this baby already. I’m scared of labor, don’t get me wrong. The only thing that scares me more than labor is being pregnant for one iota longer than I need to be.

*****

I had a prenatal massage on Sunday. I went into it thinking how relaxing it was going to be, and was unreasonably excited about the pop out belly section that would allow me to lay on my stomach. O happy day in the morning, they had one and I settled into it with glee. But y’all, that was the last ounce of glee I experienced during the massage. The massage hurt. Like a mother. I literally have bruises on my ass from her pressing into me, an ass that she accessed by tucking the sheet that covered me into my ass crack. It was about as dignified as you can imagine, and felt like the biggest wedgie you’ve ever experienced. To her credit, she warned me that was she was doing would be painful during and for a day after, but I would feel “wonderful” 48 hours later. I’m calling bullshit on “wonderful,” as I’m 37 weeks pregnant and I don’t think “wonderful” is remotely possible but I do feel looser in my hips. I’ll take looser, but I’m not sure it was worth the burning, intense pain it took to get there.

can report victory that the damn Lamaze class was good for something – I used it on my left side beat down after nearly crawling off the massage table while she pummeled my right. It didn’t make the pain go away, but it somehow made it more manageable, and because I was relaxed she was able to finish faster. Who knew breathing could help that much?

*****

I’m at the point of weekly OB appointments now that I’m in my 9th month. At my last one (January 3rd) I had a cervical check. I had worked this whole fantasy up in my mind that I was going to be 3 or 4 centimeters dilated and 75% effaced.  They were going to be hugely impressed with my silent strength, and assure me that my labor, once officially started, would be quick. They would also tell me to keep my hospital bag packed because labor would start “any time”.

Hahahaha!! Zero inches dilated, zero percent effaced. She did say that my cervix had moved into a good position (I…wasn’t aware the cervix moved positions, but OK) and that she could feel the baby’s head through my cervix (I resisted the urge to shout “watch out for her eye!!!” mostly because she had what felt like her entire forearm up my vagina, and should you ever find yourself in that happy circumstances, you don’t want to make said practitioner jump).

I have another appointment tomorrow and the fantasy has firmly reestablished itself in my mind. Only now I’m 3-4 centimeters dilated and 90% effaced.

*****

I’ve reached the stage where people at work keep making suuuuuper clever remarks like “you haven’t had that baby yet?” No, idiot. I haven’t. Thanks for reminding me. I’d totally forgotten I’m scheduled for this big event at the end of the month. My response thus far has been to kind of weakly smile and say “no, not yet….” and trail off. I’m quickly reaching a point where I’m going to start responding with a “obviously not”. The “dumbass” at the end of that sentence will be implied, unless I go over my due date, in which case all bets are off.

*****

I’m on Constant Alert for anything that could signal the start of labor. I’m back to doing toilet paper checks, to look for a bloody show, and I’m texting Tammy updates throughout the day about contractions (which I have, but super sporadically and often related to the status of my bowels – you’re welcome for that information!) and discharge (or is it amniotic fluid? Or did I just pee myself?). Lord are our conversations sexy.

*****

Did you know there are no dates on the calendar after January 30th? I looked. It drops into a black void of nothingness.

*****

The nursery is 99% ready. The hospital bag is packed. The car seat is installed. My mind is fully blown that I’m fairly certain to come home with a…baby one of these days.

mind_blown

Year in Review – 2013

Oh, Christmas. Always such a delightful pull and tug of thank-you-JESUS-I’m-on-vacation and holy-mother-of-god-I’m-going-to-kill-my-family. Some highlights for me this year include Tammy’s mother disowning her children (really); my sister and I spending the entire week squabbling over seriously stupid shit; and me, at almost 9 months pregnant making Christmas dinner from scratch for 6 adults (and thinking the whole time, this is bullshit, this is bullshit). The best part about Christmas this year was that it wasn’t last year. Reading that post makes me sad. I was so depressed and so angry and so deep in my own shit I could barely breath.

Since the post from 2012 was so damn depressing for me to read, let’s dive into the 2013 Year in Review, shall we?

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before? The sustained pregnancy, obviously. Is that boring and obvious? Sorry. That’s basically my year. You can stop reading now! Phew!
2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I actually didn’t do TOO badly on my first one from last year.  I did really well making homemade meals, at least until the first trimester barfs set in. I fell off that wagon hardcore and never made it back on. Oh well. I most certainly did NOT get back into yoga. I also did not take time to do things for myself. Resolution for this year: let go. You do not have to be in control all the damn time. Does it really matter if your mother puts the dishes away differently than you would? No, no it does not. Does it really matter if Tammy doesn’t pass that car when you would have? No, no it does not. Repeat ad infinitum.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Yes. I had a few close friends have babies this year. Plus my sister in law had a baby in November.
4. Did anyone close to you die? No. Quick, knock on wood and light some candles!! (Not that I’m superstitious at all.)
5. What places did you visit? [pause] Damn, did we not do anything this year? We went to the beach this summer with my family like we always do. We went to visit Tammy’s family a few times. But no, we really didn’t do anything this year. Wow.
6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013? A happy, healthy baby. A job that doesn’t require me to be available 24/7, and ideally I could work from home sometimes and (even better) be part time.
7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? All of the IVF stuff and then the pregnancy stuff. I still can’t fucking believe it worked.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? See above.
9. What was your biggest failure? Trying to control everything.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? I’m sick right now with a cold. Nothing super seriously in terms of illness this year, thank goodness!
11. What was the best thing you bought? IVF. Hands down, best money ever spent.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Tammy’s always. That girl is good.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? How much time do you have? I don’t know that my own behavior was “appalling” or anything, although I certainly wish I had done any number of things differently. Tammy’s mother’s behavior appalled me, and it certainly depressed me. I would say certain politicians appalled me, but eh, it’s kind of their job to be obnoxious, right?
14. Where did most of your money go? IVF. Even though it was the best money ever spent, it was damn expensive. Why must it be so expensive??
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Being pregnant. Duh. Right now I’m really, really, really excited about the fact that soon I will no longer be pregnant, and I will have a baby in my arms.
16. What song will always remind you of 2013? Hmm. I don’t really have a song in mind. Maybe this one?
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? happier.
b) thinner or fatter? fatter. Couch-to-5k, I’m coming for you in 2014.
c) richer or poorer? Financially poorer, richer in everything else.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? I wish I’d done more to make Tammy happy. I wish I’d done more for my health and fitness. I wish I’d carpe’d more diem.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? I wish I’d been less selfish and controlling. I wish I had worried less. I wish I’d spent less time stressing about work.
20. How did you spend Christmas in 2013? We always split the holidays between my family and Tammy’s – we go to her sister’s house for Thanksgiving and spend time with my family for Christmas. In the past we’ve gone to my parent’s house, but this year we made people come to us. Despite having to make Christmas dinner for everyone (which turned out to be pretty damn good, thankyouverymuch, it was a pretty good time.
21. Did you fall in love in 2013? Fell in love with the baby. Continued to fall for Tammy.
22. What was your favorite TV program? We’re making our way through past seasons of Sons of Anarchy right now. I also started watching Scandal, which is so bad that it’s good.
23. What did you do for your birthday in 2013? Not too much. I was gearing up for egg retrieval and was too sore and anxious to want to do anything. I think we went out to dinner.
24. What was the best book you read? My mom got me into a mystery series about a Chief Inspector in Quebec. I realize reading mystery novels makes me about 90 years old, but whatever. I wouldn’t say these were the best books I read though – that prize goes to The Goldfinch. I’ve been waiting for Donna Tartt to come out with a new book for effing ever and she did not disappoint. An absolutely haunting and magnificent novel.
25. What did you want and get? Pregnant.
26. What did you want and not get? The house to get much closer to done. The number one rule of home owning – everything takes longer than you think it will.
27. What was your favorite film of this year? No idea. We kind of stopped going to movies because after paying for the IVF things were a leeeetle tight around our household.
28. Did you make some new friends this year? Nope. How are you supposed to make friends as an introverted adult? How??
29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? See above about what I wish I’d done more of and less of. This question is kind of dumb.
30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012? Revolving around the 3 or 4 maternity outfits I own. I dare anyone to say anything to me. Go ahead. I dare you.
31. What kept you sane? Tammy. Always.
32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Eh? No one?
33. What political issue stirred you the most? Gay marriage is pretty high on the list again. Raising the minimum wage would be awesome. Providing paid maternity leave would be awesome.
34. Who did you miss? I miss my grandparents. They’ve gone over the deep end into dementia. I miss who I was before I started trying to have a baby. There’s an innocence and a happiness there I’ll never get back.
35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013. I haven’t “learned” this; I don’t think I ever will. I’ll have to continue to learn it, over and over for the rest of my life.

Things that are Weird

Weight gain is weird.
I lost five pounds in the first trimester due to a chronic case of gagging upon thinking about dinner, but gained 15 in the second, due to a chronic case of discovering food again. I’ve been more than steadily gaining during the third trimester, enough to the point where a nurse practitioner (who I actually like a lot) had a little chat with me about it. I was basically gaining twice what I should in a week. This little chat was at my OB appointment just before Thanksgiving. I fretted and stewed over this, especially her warnings of a 10 pound baby. Despite all this worrying, I did exactly nothing differently (except eat, if possible, more – it was Thanksgiving after all) in the two week gap between the Weight Discussion appointment and my next appointment, but you see where this is going, right? I lost three pounds. How is that even possible?

(Side note: I’m not used to gaining weight. Please do not hate me, but it’s one of the few ways I’ve lucked out in the genetic lottery. (I’ve “won” plenty of other shitty shitty genetic traits, so seriously, don’t hate me too much.) I know I’m supposed to gain weight during pregnancy, and I certainly AM, but it’s so, so odd for me to catch glimpses of myself in the mirror and think, “who is that chubby pregnant woman?” only to realize that, hey! that’s me. I was looking at some pictures of me from our baby shower over Thanksgiving weekend and was astonished to find photographic evidence of a double chin. And an ass that, how can I put this, just won’t quit. Ultimately, I’m not too crazy far outside of the recommended weight gain range, and my mom (who is super thin) gained like 50 pounds when she was pregnant with me (and lost it all within a month or two). I know everyone gains and loses weight differently, especially in pregnancy, but damn it is a strange and not entirely comfortable phenomenon.)

Baby size is weird
La fetus has been measuring ahead this whole pregnancy, basically since the very first ultrasound when she was nothing more than a squiggle and a cheerio. I like to joke about how advanced she is, but now I’m getting all kinds of worried because she’s measuring two whole weeks ahead. The perinatal doctor (where my OB sends me for ultrasounds) and the ultrasound tech kept asking me if I have diabetes. Excuse me, I can’t hear you over the sound of me crunching on this kit-kat. What was the question again? (No, I don’t have GD.) After the ultrasound, in which the tech told me she looked perfect but was “just big…all over big…BIG baby,” I had a sit down with a high risk doctor. She also warned me about the size of the baby (93 percentile!!!!!!!) and then segued into a discussion of the hospital policy on cesarean birth.

(Side note: the doctor asked me if I was a big baby (nope, 7 something pounds) and then tentatively asked me if I knew how big “the father” was at birth. We told her we didn’t know how big the donor was at birth, but as an adult he is 6’1” and 170lbs. So, not enormous, but not a shrinking violet, either.  Tammy then volunteered the information that she was a big baby, being over 9lbs, mostly just to make conversation and to point out that her mom had vaginal births will all of her kids, all of whom were over 9lbs. The poor doctor was very confused by this information but did her best to integrate it into our discussion by saying that Tammy’s birth weight explained why I was carrying a big baby. Ha! Not so much. Poor confused doctor.)

Now, first of all, I know that ultrasounds are not the best predictor of birth weight. The doctor even admitted that their measurements can be up to a pound off, and when we’re talking about a fetus that weighs 4 pounds (per the internet average) or 5 pounds (what the ultrasound measured my baby at), that’s a margin of error of 20%! My fundal measurements are a lot closer to where I know I should be (sometimes a week ahead, sometimes only a few days ahead).

But, with that out of the way, what if I DO end up with a big baby? I would like to avoid a c-section if possible (what the fuck was the point of taking the damn Lamaze class, I ask you) but at the same time I don’t want to spend all that time (and pain!! Let’s not forget the pain!!) in labor only to end up with an emergency C anyway. It’s like the worst of both worlds.

Basically, the hospital policy is that if the baby looks like it will be around 10 pounds they strongly recommend a scheduled C. The baby is head down, so I could probably have a chance at a vaginal birth, but my hopeful suggestion to the doctor that big = come early was shot down, as was the suggestion that they induce me around 38 or 39 weeks. Apparently the risk with big babies and vaginal births is that the risk of the baby getting “stuck,” either head or shoulders, is higher than with an average or smaller baby. And that could potentially cut off oxygen to the baby and all sorts of other dreadful things.

I’ll probably have another ultrasound in a few weeks to see how the baby’s grown and figure out the plans from there.

While I’m quietly freaking out over this new development, I do have to laugh. In all those panic attacks, all those meltdowns, all those hysterical moments to Tammy, not once did I worry I would have a baby that was too big. I worried about miscarrying, I worried about her health, I worried about preterm labor (I love that I said I wasn’t worried about preterm labor in that post. LIAR!!!), and on and on and on. But a big baby? Never entertained the possibility.

Ha. Ha. Joke’s on me, I guess. But you know what? If this is the “worst” thing that happens, I’ll take it. Every single time.