Baby Catching – Part II

Friends, has it really been a month since I wrote last? Time has become elastic, pulling and snapping and bending into shapes unrecognizable. I’ve fallen behind on reading your updates, and completely neglected commenting. Someday soon (I hope) I’ll get back on the bandwagon and become more active on here. In the meantime, know that I have managed to read posts here and there, and have cheered from afar when things have gone well, and cried with you when they haven’t.

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Ellie lay on my chest for what felt like seconds and hours at the same time, but all too quickly she was whisked away. All I heard was “baby isn’t crying,” and then she was gone, lifted up and away. I told Tammy to stay with Ellie, so she followed her across the room as the nurses poked and suctioned Ellie until she started to scream…and scream…and scream, which she would do nonstop for the next three hours.

Looking back, I think I was in shock. I didn’t feel high, but I did feel detached, like I was watching this happen to someone else. I simultaneously felt like I was floating and pressed heavily into the bed. Physically, I had just undergone an extreme trauma, and emotionally I had just experienced one of the most important moments I’d ever experience.

Meanwhile, I delivered the placenta in one big schloop and I remarked to the doctor that I wished delivering the baby was as easy. The doctor kept up a running teaching commentary to the med student (something about a compound cord, and second degree tearing).

When Ellie was finally brought back to me, I tried to nurse for the first time, completely unsuccessfully. Ellie was too busy screaming, and before I could object, she was whisked away again. We were on our third shift of nurses at this point, and unfortunately the nurse assigned to our room was our least favorite. Her name was Edith, an older lady with bad breath. She kept muttering to herself about Ellie’s screaming, and my weakly stated opinion that “babies cry” was ignored outright.

She took Ellie across the room to stick her heel for a glucose test (way to make her scream more, genius) when a new nurse came into the room. Tammy and I had never seen this nurse before, but she walked right up to Edith and Ellie and asked Edith if she could pray over Ellie. Edith immediately said yes, and the new nurse began. Walking with the Lord was mentioned, the blood of Jesus was mentioned, and Tammy and I sat there with identical expressions of shock and horror. During the prayer, we looked at each other, shaking our heads furiously, mouths moving soundlessly, until Tammy finally found her voice and turned to the nurses and said, “please don’t do that.” The nurse completely nonchalantly, said “oh, ok” and turned and left. We never saw her again.

Eventually I was allowed up and attempted to use the bathroom (also unsuccessfully) and we were transferred from the L&D room to the postpartum room. The L&D room had been spacious and airy, but unfortunately the postpartum room was tiny, and stiflingly hot with a broken thermostat.

I tried to nurse a few more times, again unsuccessfully, but I was totally not concerned about the lack of success. For some reason, I thought she wouldn’t need to eat for a few days (?? No idea what I was thinking there but I’m guessing I was still in shock) so it was not a big deal that she wouldn’t latch on. The nurses eventually dissuaded me of that idea, when she lost close to 10% of her birth weight and didn’t have a wet diaper in the first 24 hours. We ended up supplementing with formula until I got my hands on a nipple shield, which saved our breastfeeding relationship. (I have a whole other post percolating on breastfeeding, so more on the nipple shield later.)

Physically, I was in a lot of pain. I managed to last 24 hours on ibuprofen, until I got a doctor to write me a prescription for Percocet (now Percocet is something I would pray to). I had stitches in my perineum, as well as my vaginal wall. I walked around in an old lady shuffle, something I would keep up for days, and sat on ice packs. My stomach was truly, truly horrifying to look at – people say you still look pregnant after birth, which is sort of true, but only if you were pregnant with a giant bowl of jello.

We stayed three days in the hospital. The world shrank for me during those days – only the hospital room existed. When we left the hospital, the hallways seemed enormous, bright, and threatening.

Part III (on coming home, breastfeeding, and recovery) coming soon.

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Baby Catching – Part I

Ellie is a good baby. A sweet baby. She doesn’t cry unless she needs something (for now at least, I know this could change). She nuzzles my neck with her little fuzzy head, makes little cooing “eh-eh-eh” noises, and has expressions that make us laugh with delight. I spend my days drinking in the smell of her, kissing her satiny cheeks, and staring into her blue eyes in wonder and joy. She looks back at me as if to say “what took you so long, mom? I’ve been waiting here this whole time.” My daughter. My daughter. Holding her in my arms feels like a reunion, like a long lost traveller has finally come home.

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Baby Catching – Part I

Friday morning (January 31st) I woke up to a labor pain. I’d been having contractions for weeks, but this one HURT. I thought I knew what a painful contraction was. I did not. I was so, so naive.

I had a scheduled OB appointment that morning, and I was desperately hoping they would tell me I had dilated beyond the paltry 1 centimeter I had been for two weeks.

At the appointment I complained to the Nurse Practitioner about my PUPPPs, and while she was sympathetic, she told me it was probably not a good enough reason to induce. I was still only 1 centimeter dilated (goddamnittalltohell), and I wasn’t so overdue that it was medically necessary to get the baby out. Tammy and I reconciled ourselves to the sad state of my cervix (what is the holdup, cervix) while she went to check with a doctor about a steroid cream for my belly. But instead of coming back with some cream, she came back with an offer to induce. The doctor had told her the steroid cream isn’t really very effective, and that only delivery would provide me with some relief. Since I was past 40 weeks, I could be induced any time.

We hadn’t really prepared to have that offer thrown at us, and I think the panic of making an important decision like that showed on our faces. The NP offered us some time to think about it while we went off to our scheduled Non Stress Test (NST, something they had me doing for the past few weeks – another post about that another time), and told us to stop by on our way back with a decisions. The NST was absolutely fine – baby’s heartbeat was healthy, I was having contractions that showed up on the monitor, but as my cervix had just been checked and showed minimal dilation, they weren’t too concerned I might go into imminent labor.

Tammy and I agonized over the induction decision on the slow, painful (still contracting!) walk between the OB’s office and the office where they did the NST. We went back and forth on pros and cons, but ultimately decided to give my body a few more days to do it’s thing without medical intervention, which would hopefully avoid a C-section. We asked the NP if we could get an induction set for Sunday night, both to give my body more time to “ripen” (like a damn peach or something) and because our doctor, whom we love, was on call at the hospital on Mondays. She called us later to let us know they didn’t have any slots available for Sunday night, but they did have one for Monday morning at 8AM, so we booked it. Tammy was relieved that we wouldn’t be having the baby until Monday – she was glad to have the weekend to do final preparations, notify work, etc. Poor Tammy. Wish not granted.

Meanwhile, I was still having painful contractions. They were 10 minutes apart in the morning, but by the time we got back from the doctor’s office around 1PM they were 7-8 minutes apart. And they fucking hurt. I was starting to think I was in labor, but we’d had so many false alarms before – contractions getting closer together, only to space out and piss me the hell off disappoint – so I kept my inkling to myself. Around 4:30, Tammy asked me if we could order Chinese for dinner. She had been timing the contractions, which were a solid 6-7 minutes apart at this point, and she didn’t want to have the hassle of cooking something while she was also trying to time my contractions and hold my hand while I had them. I had absolutely zero interest in food, but I told her Chinese was fine. Looking back, this was another indication that I was in labor – All I’d eaten that day was a slice of toast for breakfast and half a bag of popcorn for lunch but I could hardly bear to think about dinner.

By the time the food came, the contractions were so painful all I could do during them was moan or wail and grip Tammy’s hand with all my might. They were also 5-6 minutes apart. I looked at her after a particularly painful one and said, “I want to go to the hospital and I want an epidural.” Me saying that flipped a switch with her. She absolutely LEAPED into action, grabbing the last of the items for the baby bag, throwing dishes into the dishwasher, feeding the cat, all while running back to me every 3-4 minutes now to hold my hand during a contraction. Poor thing only got to have a few bites of dinner.

The car ride to the hospital was awful. Every bump in the road was magnified, and each contraction felt like my body was being ripped into pieces.

They way our hospital is set up meant we had to check in at the ER desk and would then be admitted to Labor and Delivery. Tammy pulled up out front and walked me in (I was totally incapable of walking on my own), and the second we got inside a bad contraction hit. I had found the most comforting position during contractions was to bend at the (non existent) waist, clutch Tammy’s midsection, bury my face into her stomach or back, and moan. The admissions desk took one look at us standing there and called for a wheelchair to take me up to L&D (I wonder how they could tell I was in labor?). Somehow I climbed in and was whisked off to the fifth floor while Tammy went and parked.

(A note here about the pain: It’s hard to describe what labor felt like, except to say it was so, SO much worse than I could ever have imagine. I think my mom, as much as I love her, set me up badly because she told me her labor pains just felt like “pressure”. And sure, we could call labor pains pressure, if by “pressure” you mean a wild animal ripping apart my belly with its teeth.)

When I got up to L&D the disgustingly chipper orderly made me get up out of the wheelchair and the nurses made me check in. I was leaning over the desk panting and wailing while they asked me questions like “how far along are you?” and, “is this your first baby?” I’m not sure how I restrained myself from telling them to go fuck themselves. All I could think about was making the pain stop. I could barely remember my own name.

Somehow I ended up sitting alone in a chair by the check in desk. Tammy came running in (she had run all the way from the parking garage with our gigantic hospital bag (we totally overpacked)) and found me there, huddled and shaking and whimpering to myself. I’m sure I looked pathetic, but what they say is true: when you are in labor you truly, truly do not care what you look like. I could have been butt naked in front of my boss and I would not have cared in the slightest.

We got into our room and I was told to put on a hospital gown and provide them with a urine sample. A motherfucking urine sample, y’all. Sitting down on the toilet was the most painful position yet (in retrospect I’m sure it had something to do with the baby bearing down on my cervix) and I was shaking so badly I could barely hold the cup between my legs. I ended up handing a pee soaked cup to Tammy to label and hand off to the nurse.

(A note here about Tammy: she was a rockstar. An absolute rockstar. She kept it together when I’m sure I would have been panicking, validated my every whim, every choice, every decision and did her best to keep me calm. She never left my side. I would have been absolutely lost without her.)

At this point I was begging every nurse, tech, and doctor (really, anyone I thought had a remote chance of working at the hospital – I would have asked a janitor) for an epidural. I had started throwing up from the pain (half digested popcorn looks disgusting as vomit, FYI) and I had to endure a painful cervix check during a contraction. I was 4 centimeters dilated and 100% effaced. I’d gone from 1cm and 0% effaced at 10:30am to 4cm and 100% effaced at 7:30pm.

Finally, finally, after I got the requisite amount of IV fluid in my system, I was given an epidural. Oh my GOD you guys. The needle hurt a tiny bit, but nothing worse than a pinch and it was only for a moment. Maybe I would feel differently about epidurals if I’d had a some of those bad side effects you hear about (itching skin, for example, or bad headaches) but I had no adverse reaction whatsoever. I thought I might be disappointed that I opted for an epidural rather than the non-medicated labor I had planned on, but I wasn’t disappointed then and I’m not now, not in the slightest. They told me it might take up to 15 minutes for the epidural to kick in, but within two minutes I was no longer in pain. The relief I felt was so immense, so overwhelming, that I cried in gratitude. Tammy hadn’t been allowed to stay with me while the inserted the epidural, but when she came back in the room she told me later that one look at my face made her a believer in epidurals.

(A note here about medicated vs. non-medicated births: I’m so uninterested in this debate, if one is better than the other, what it says about you if you have an epidural vs. go without, blah blah. For me, I’m grateful I had the option. I’m grateful I had the opportunity to labor at home, grateful we went to the hospital when we did, grateful I asked for the epidural, and grateful I received it. I’m also grateful that women who want a labor free from medicated pain relief have that option. I’m all about options, and I’m most of all grateful that we have them.)

An hour and a half after I received the epidural, my cervix was checked again. At 10pm I was 8 centimeters dilated. The nurse cheerfully told us to start placing bets on a delivery before or after midnight. Unfortunately, they checked me at midnight and I was still 8cm, and the baby hadn’t moved down at all. They broke my water, hoping that would put the baby’s head closer to my cervix, thus applying more pressure and dilating me further. It didn’t work though, and the baby’s heart rate started showing signs of distress. They made me stay lying on my right side because being on my left or on my back made her heart rate slow to unacceptable speeds. I had to wear an oxygen mask for the rest of the night in hopes that it would help.

Sometime in the early morning the doctor started discussing c-sections with me. She told me she wasn’t sure why I was stuck at 8 centimeters, but it could be that the baby’s head was too big to properly engage (and therefore couldn’t put the required pressure on my cervix), it could be that the baby’s head was at an odd angle in my pelvis (and therefore couldn’t put the required pressure on my cervix). Before they recommended a c-section however, they wanted to try me on a low dose of pitocin, to see if contractions of increased strength did the trick.

Half an hour on the lowest possible dose of pitocin and I was 10 centimeters and ready to push. I was so relieved to avoid a c-section and really excited to push. The epidural had worn off enough that I could feel contractions coming on, but they mainly felt like a tightness and pressure, similar to braxton-hix, rather than the searing pain of real contractions.

The doctor had me do a few practice pushes (“pretend you’re constipated and pushing out a great big poop”) and then called the team in (because I delivered at a teaching hospital, there was the doctor, a resident, a med student and a handful of nurses all there at various points in the pushing process).  After the first few pushes, the doctor asked if I wanted to watch myself push, and I said yes. Watching myself, splayed open, pooping, bleeding, and stretching open was both awesome and horrifying. I didn’t enjoy watching myself poop (truly bizarre) but seeing this small dark oval get larger, ever so slowly larger made was worth every view of the gore and poop.

I was pretty cheerful for the first hour of pushing. I felt strong and confident and was filled with adrenaline and excitement. Halfway through the second hour my strength began to fade, and I got more and more tired. I felt like I’d been pushing forever, and started to get weepy.

Pushing hadn’t really hurt up to the point of her crowning – just the pressure and tightness from the (epidurally reduced) contractions. By the time she was crowning, however, everything burned. I was so tightly stretched, and the doctor kept pouring oil over me, then running her finger along the edge of Ellie’s head and my skin to try to stretch me further. I kept telling her that it hurt (because it fucking did) and she kept telling me that the baby was almost here. At one point she had me reach down and feel Ellie’s head, and it was such a strange, exhilarating, rejuvenating feeling.

Just a few minutes before I hit two hours of pushing there was suddenly a lot of activity in the room. All of the various people who had drifted in and out of the room during my pushing process all came back in. Everyone put on these blue paper gowns over their scrubs, and the bottom of the hospital bed was removed. Stirrups were pulled up.

I can’t remember how many more times I pushed. I do remember the final push though – the push that birthed her head. The delivery team was chanting and cheering, and the doctor was saying, “just a little bit more, just a little bit more!” I pushed and screamed and felt my back rise up off the bed. I felt myself tearing – it was like I was being split open. And then, all of a sudden, it was over.

“Stop pushing! Stop pushing, Sarah, for just a second!” The doctor said. “Now one more big push! Push! You can do it!” I pushed again, and felt a tremendous release as her body slipped, all in a rush, into the world.

“Now reach down, Sarah. Reach down and catch your baby!”

And I reached down, and caught my baby, and pulled her up onto me. I was sobbing and shaking. I held my baby girl in my arms and told her it was her birthday, that I loved her, that I was her mommy. I looked at my crying Tammy and said “this is our baby.”

Finally. Finally. Welcome home, Ellie.

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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

Third Trimester/Lamaze/Poetry

*Picture warning. Read at your own risk*

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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.)

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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!”

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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”