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.

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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.

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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.

Nuchal Translucency and Facebook

We had our nuchal translucency scan this morning, and it went swimmingly. The neck measured at 1.something, which is good (they want to see less than 3, although the tech told us most Down’s babies measure closer to 6). We saw the nasal bone (also good because Down’s babies often don’t have a nasal bone at this point). The abdominal organs are almost all in the abdomen now, having migrated from the umbilical cord. The heart was beating at 161. We saw two hemispheres of the brain. Saw a genital nub, but it’s too early to tell if it will grow larger into a penis or shrink into a clitoris. We saw little webbed hands, and wee tiny feet that waved and kicked.

Because I’m still under 30, my risk of trisomies was low to begin with, but now it should be even lower with the reassuring scan.

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Most of us know how hard it is to be ambushed by Facebook announcements, especially as they seem to come in groups, just after your latest BFN or right around the due date of a miscarriage. Facebook has impeccably shitty timing.

For a long time I promised myself if I was ever lucky enough to get and stay pregnant, I would just skip the cutesy/smug Facebook brag. (And side note here, getting pregnant does not, at least for me, make me like the announcements any better. Seriously, y’all. You’re fecund. We get it. How marvelous for you, etc. Shut up with the beribboned, sparkly announcements)

But now I find myself trying to figure out how to let people know what’s going on in our world. We’ve told our families and close friends, but I do want some way to let less close friends know, many of whom are scattered around the world. I considered phoning (don’t have most people’s numbers, and hate talking on the phone) and email (ditto on not having many emails, and that seems kind of cold, no?) and have come full circle to Facebook. Dammit, Facebook is friggin convenient. How annoying.

But I need help figuring out what to say. I obviously want to be as sensitive as I can to those struggling, and I’d like to acknowledge our own struggle to get where we are. I’m considering the following, but would appreciate any insight, recommendations, edits, additions, etc.:

“Tammy and I are absolutely overjoyed to announce we are going to have a baby. We are so grateful to our doctors, nurses, and embryologist for helping us get this far. Below is a picture of our embryo at 5 days past fertilization, and our fetus at almost 13 weeks gestation. I am due in January, and we cannot wait to meet our little one.

And with the announcement, post a side by side picture of the day 5 blast with our most recent scan.

One final note, those friends/family members that I know would react to the announcement with complicated feelings have been told already, via the medium we thought would be easiest for them.

Thoughts? Skip the pictures? Or skip the embryo picture but include the fetal scan? What would you want to see, and not want to see if you were reading my page?

Busy vs. Frantic vs. Meltdown

Don’t get me wrong, being busy can be a good thing. It makes the day go by faster, it keeps you sharp, and it gives you a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

What I do NOT like, however, is being frantically, panicky busy. The hands shaking, oh-my-god-I-have-so-much-to-do, how-am-I-ever-going-to-get-this-done, please-god-let-my-phone-stop-ringing, I-have-HOW-many-emails?, you-want-this-done-WHEN? busy. The meltdown busy. The fighting back tears as you type as fast as you can, half listening to whoever is yelling on the other end of the phone line. The no lunch, no peeing, sitting rigidly still waiting for the world to collapse in busy.

Yeah. The past few days have been the not-good kind of busy. I’m not going to get into the specifics, because I’m not trying to get dooced (in the off-chance someone IRL found my blog).

But that’s where I’ve been the past while. I’ve tried to check in to your blogs during the few minutes I sneak in the bathroom. I’m cheering for those of you who’ve received good news, and mourning with others who haven’t.

A quick update about the goings on in my neck of the woods:

  • I’m 12 weeks tomorrow. Had a scan (at the OB!!) at 11 weeks, 1 day and it was awesome. The pirate was doing a mambo. Wish I could feel it. (I’ll probably regret saying that later). Measured a day ahead. Obviously my future child is very advanced.
  • Tammy and I went to my parent’s house this past weekend, where Tammy proceeded to get some kind of horrific insect bite on her neck that is now infected. It has inflamed a string of lymph nodes in her neck. She’s on antibiotics but hasn’t seen much improvement yet.
  • This article is fucking stupid. If I had more time I’d post a take down, but let’s just agree that William Saletan is an idiot.
  • I have my nuchal translucency scan next Tuesday. Hopefully I’ll get another good picture.
  • Speaking of pictures, here’s the pirate at 11 weeks, 1 day: baby, 11w2d
  • I’m feeling larger. Hard to tell what’s bloat and what’s…not bloat, but I sure as heck do not fit into my regular pants. Can I just make a note here about how comfortable maternity pants are? Why do we not all wear elastic waist pants ALL.THE.TIME? Can we get something in Vogue on this?
  • My belly button is stretching. It is the most bizarre thing. It feels very tender and the hole is becoming positively cavernous in my stomach. My innie is also becoming puffy and poofy and I’m afraid I will end up with an outtie sooner than expected.
  • I’m still scared of miscarriage but becoming less so every day. A tiny bit. Teeny eensy weensy bit.
  • Today was the first day in weeks that I did not want to vomit at any point. Victory! (other than the times I wanted to vomit due to stress. I’m talking pregnancy vomit that was avoided)
  • Yeah. That’s about it. Hope all of you are well. Off to a meeting with the boss man to…hand him a piece of paper. Yes. So glad I’m still at work to hand him a piece of paper. Not that I’m bitter about that or anything. My chance to get home at a decent hour, foiled by handing him a piece of paper. Awesome.

Last Night

I dreamed last night that Tammy was Sheriff Longmire, and I was Henry. Then Tammy/Longmire had an affair with…Tammy. I/Henry knew what was going on, but I’d had my tongue pecked out by a bird and couldn’t speak.

I woke up gasping for air.

I dreamed last night that a SWAT team was surrounding our house. The only one who knew was Baker, and he tried to warn us. But we just ignored him. We thought he wanted a treat.

I woke up and lay rigid, listening.

I dreamed last night I had a dead baby inside of me. I went into my OB appointment on Friday and the ultrasound showed that the baby died at 9 weeks. I had to go for a D&C. The doctor used a drill to cut me open and barbed wire to hold me open while they pulled a congealed mass from inside me. I wanted to hold my baby but no one would let me.

I woke up in tears.

9.5

Hi, my name is Sarah. It’s been 12 days since my last ultrasound. [Hi, Sarah.]

I’m 9 weeks, 5 days today. I vacillate multiple times a day between joy that I’m pregnant and fear that the b-b-b-baby is dead.

I’ve been feeling physically better since my post a few weeks back. My doctor recommended I take vitamin B-6, and it seemed to help. I also stopped taking my prenatal vitamin, at least for the time being, as it increased my nausea and caused crippling constipation. In the next few weeks I’m hoping to ease back on to it; I know it’s important.

Care to indulge me in a little game I like to play? It’s called, “Is the Baby Still Alive?” To play, we run through my symptoms at any given moment. Here, let me show you:

-Nausea has decreased dramatically. Could definitely be +1 on the Dead Baby side, but could just be a result of the B-6, lack of prenatal vitamins, and time. Let’s call this one a wash. (but secretly I always count this on the Dead Baby side.)
-Bo.obs have grown 2 cup sizes. +1 on Live Baby side.
-Food Cravings and aversions noted. Could be +1 on Live Baby side, but also could be just in my head.
-Tammy says I have a “glow”, but I call bullshit on that one. In punishment for her (sweet) lying, I’m putting +1 on Dead Baby side. Because the universe is a bitch.
-Peeing a LOT – waking up multiples times a night. Also very thirsty. Could be +1 for Live Baby, but it’s also summer, so it makes sense that I’m drinking more. Ok, I’m feeling generous, so I’ll give this to Live Baby.
-Bought maternity clothes. Definitely a +1 for Dead Baby.
-Toilet paper checks come up clear every time. +1 for Live Baby.
-LOTS of twinges, pains, cramps, twitches, pulls, stretches, etc in the abdomen. +1 for both Live and Dead. Could go either way.

OK! Let’s tally the score! One plus one plus one, times eleventy, carry the fuck, and you get a win for Live Baby. Unless you count the secret point for Dead Baby and then it’s a tie.

Damn, I wish I could have another ultrasound. I feel like sending an email to my fertility clinic, begging for a fix. I’ll take my pants off in the waiting room! I’ll have Tammy do the ultrasound! We’ll clean up after!

My next scan is July 12th, with my (gulp) OB. I’ll be 11 weeks (in theory). My biggest fear is being told it’s been dead for days or weeks. I’m not sure why a missed miscarriage seems so much more terrible than a regular miscarriage, but to me it does. Don’t misunderstand me, either would be absolutely devastating. Maybe It’s a control thing? With a regular miscarriage the cramps and bleeding would give you some kind of warning, no? Not that it would be less terrifying to look down and see blood than it would be to look on an ultrasound screen and see…nothing, but…oh shit. I don’t know.

Hi, my name is Sarah. It’s been 12 days since my last ultrasound. [Hi, Sarah.]

ln Which We Tell People

Tammy and I had decided after our 6.5 week ultrasound we would tell family and close friends. While half of me remains scared that telling people will jinx everything, the other half longs for normalcy in this decidedly un-normal process. So we told people.

A bit of background here: my family is incredibly supportive of me and Tammy, and gay rights in general. I have three family members (that I know of) that are LGBTQ, etc. etc. 1)I have a gay cousin, (on my dad’s side) who’s been out since he was born basically. 2)Supposedly I had a great-aunt (sister to my dad’s father) who one day announced she would no longer be known as “Margaret”, but “John”. And the family, oddly enough for that time and place, just kind of went with it. I guess when you’re isolated in a tiny holler in the West Virginia mountains, you deal with the family you get without too much fuss. And 3)my mom’s sister told her that growing up she strongly identified as a boy, rather than a girl. And that she’s bisexual. So basically, my family is responsible for more than our share of gayin’ the place up. YOU’RE WELCOME, FUNDIES.

However, on Tammy’s side…Tammy grew up in an extremely conservatively Christian household. Think Jesus Camp. She is the youngest of five siblings, and when her parents divorced and dad remarried, she got three step siblings in the deal. Interestingly enough, only one of her siblings still maintains that “lifestyle” (oh yes I DID call it a lifestyle) but they all possess, to a certain degree, holdovers from their upbringing that affect their relationship with and reaction to us (and all that comes with us). Shockingly, all but one sister, one step-sister, and one step-brother came to our wedding (the sister that maintains the “lifestyle” and two step siblings that aren’t that close and/or couldn’t afford to travel up here for the wedding). Even her dad and step-mom came, though they sat in the back and her dad promised to be “miserable” the whole time. Thanks for coming, asshole!

ANYWAY, (God, could I stretch this intro out any longer?) we were a little apprehensive about the reactions we would get from Tammy’s family. But, for the most part, we were pleasantly surprised. Tammy’s dad had clearly been coached, and did his best “gee golly shucks, that’s just wonderful! Jesus loves ya, kids!” which is basically how the baby Jesus has told him to respond to everything (baby Jesus doesn’t like anything unpleasant, don’t you know). Tammy texted one brother (wife to the pregnant “V”, who I haven’t spoken to since she stomach bumped me at the wedding in April). He texted back: “congrats,” and that was it. She called the other brother on Father’s day, which may be why he responded, “well, congratulations, I guess, dad”.  Cue eye roll. Tammy’s mom and sister number 1 were both told while we were undergoing IVF, so they were told of the resulting pregnancy earlier, to mostly positive results.

The only really negative response we got was from the sister in the “lifestyle”* Her two kids had just gotten back from summer camp (not unlike the camp in Jesus Camp, I imagine), and she was in a good mood. Tammy broke the news to her by modeling the reaction we were looking for (“[sister], we have some great news. We’re really really excited to let you know that Sarah’s pregnant. You’re going to have a new little niece or nephew in the January!”). Lifestyle sister was silent for a good 90 second count, before bursting out with “well how did that happen?!” If I was quicker on my feet, I would have told her it was a miraculous conception, but I do try to keep my asshole tendencies in check. Somewhat. Tammy muttered something about IVF (for which she received a whack, because we’re so not going there with this sister) and I tried to drown her out by talking about a donor. Honestly, I’ve never heard Lifestyle Sister so shocked and unsure of herself. She got off the phone quickly, after telling us she would be praying for us. But to do what, I’m not quite sure. I suspect she isn’t either. Tammy said her reaction is typical, because for her, gay people simply do not have kids. Children are something the Lord gives to straight people.

JL OK

This sister not only didn’t attend our wedding, but likes to pretend it didn’t happen entirely. We were told not to send her an invitation or any pictures. And now that it’s a done deal, she will literally get up and walk out of the room, often taking her children with her, if our wedding is brought up, even in passing.

Here’s the thing: I can handle her being a bitch (but a bitch in a Christian, Lordy way, obviously) to me, and to Tammy. It sucks that she is the way she is, but we’re big girls. We can take care of ourselves – and I have no problem giving her a piece of my mind if the situation warrants. But a baby? No. A baby is innocent. She can ignore the fact of our marriage if that’s what gets her rocks off, but she cannot, let me repeat that, cannot, ignore our child. Our child is going to be a member of her family, like it or not. The second she makes my child feel any less than is the second we have a serious, serious problem. I don’t even really know what I would do in that situation, but given her reaction, and her behavior surrounding our wedding, I feel like I should be prepared.

Since I can’t think of a way to finish this blog post and I have to get back to work, I leave you with this picture of the pirate, taken at 8 weeks gestation. I don’t have another ultrasound until June 12th, with a regular OB. Sob.

8 weeks
*I’m getting way too much of a kick out of calling it her lifestyle. Seriously, I’m five. And petty.