Wednesday, July 31, 2013

overachiever: measuring ahead, 19 weeks, 5 days

At my last prenatal visit, my OB slung a tape measure over my now protruding belly and pronounced me an overachiever ahead of schedule. Six days ahead, to be exact. During my full fetal scan on Friday, yet another OB – the on call OB who made a brief and memorable cameo appearance after the ultrasound tech was done regaling us with the bizarre-alien-freak-show that is a 3D ultrasound[1] – confirmed her diagnosis: our little heir to the throne[2] is measuring a walloping 6 days ahead of schedule[3].

Both OBs asked me whether I was a big baby – nope, a mighty average seven pounds – and then whether C was – again, rather average at seven pounds, seven ounces. The latter OB, not having endured my infertility rantings/clearly not having read anything in my chart, happily told me that it was probably just a miscalculation because due dates are always just estimates, because women ovulate at different times of the month, because –

(Turns out that was not the response she was looking for.)

With both OBs I had follow up questions – was the baby healthy? Should I be worried? Is there a reason I would be measuring nearly a week ahead? Had I gained too much weight? Should I be…ignoring their platitudes and running as fast as I can to the nearest computer, eager to be knee deep in the wisdom of Yahoo answers?

<readers on the edge of their seats>

Guess what guys? It was the last one! <breathless now from running> It was the last one!

Not having received a satisfying, substantive response – my OB: we don’t worry unless it’s more than a week ahead, your weight gain is normal, we’ll just continue to measure the baby’s growth; the guest-star-on-call-OB: Hmmmm *long pause, furrows brow* umm, I don’t know! (Said with far too much displaced enthusiasm) – I did what all infertiles (and let’s be honest, any pregnant woman worth her salt) do best: I turned to the all knowing interwebs for answers.

And boy did I get them. IN SPADES.

Far be it from me to question the deep insights of non-medically-licensed trolls and moms-to-be whiling their days away on internet forums. They had just the answers I was looking for. Here then, are my options:

1. Nothing is wrong. Babies grow at different rates. Sometimes smaller women measure ahead of schedule. Move right along and stop perseverating. Please watch these miniature donkeys play with a toddler.

2. You will be giving birth next week to an overweight adult hippopotamus. Proceed to the “husky” section of your nearest department store.

3. Polyhydramnios. Which, translated from the Greek, means: TERROR! Do not pass go, do not begin painting the nursery! too much amniotic fluid. The causes of which are all rainbows and butterflies – you know, stuff like chromosomal abnormalities, life threatening conditions which prevent your baby from swallowing amniotic fluid like he’s supposed to, infections like parovirus (“slapped cheek disease” – literally, I could not make this up if I tried) or toxoplasmosis (universe, I stopped gardening to avoid this, hello!).

4. More cascading horribles that will result in placental abruption, catastrophic pregnancy hemorrhaging and certain maternal and fetal death.

<Deep breath.>

So, what about you guys – anyone measuring ahead? Any collective wisdom to share?

And just because you made it all the way to the end of this rambling post chronicling my continuing worries, I finally took a picture of something I wore to work (dress: Pea in the Pod; maternity leggings: Pea in the Pod; flats: Madewell; cardigan: J.Crew circa 1998, seriously-why-do-i-still-own-this?). It might not have been one of my more inventive ensembles but you know me, I give the people what they want and you dear readers, wanted photos!

(I think I have a future taking selfies in the mirror. Also, I think you can see my dog's head in the background.)

[1] I guess I could devote an entire post to that 60 minute circus. But it feels more at home in a footnote. You guys, it was crazy. A full fetal scan is an hour long romp through the uterus-looking-glass. A chance for an ultrasound tech you just met to spend an inordinate amount of time rubbing warmed (seriously, why?) lube across your expanding gut. Despite our spawn looking like a lumpy headed alien baby – which I’m assured is totally normal – we saw some insane stuff: Ventricles! Fingers! Ribs! Two whole brain hemispheres! Pumping heart! Our terrifying/exhilarating/ohmygodisthisreallyhappening future as parents of a living, breathing, human child! Apparently our son “images beautifully” (Hollywood, we’re coming for you!). And this all before the REALLY FUN PART – a surprise afternoon wanding to measure the length of my cervix. After being assured that all the parts were there and in their correct places, we got a goodie bag of photos to take home.
[2] After this post, you didn’t think we would make it through royal-baby-mania without some acknowledgement, did you? And by that I mean that my future son is going to be a king. Or…something?
[3] As in, add 6 days to “19 weeks, 5 days.” Seriously though, can you? I can’t. That’s why I went to law school.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

retail therapy, 18 weeks, 4 days

I really wanted to wear a muumuu for the next twenty weeks. I swear. Interspersed with a few clutch academic robes, beach towels and assorted capes. I really did. But here’s the thing – I got this new lawyer job where I have to like, be “professional” and act in a “supervisory role” and “model good behavior for students”[1] and “appear in a court of law”, etc.

Which can mean only one thing, dear readers: we have reached the grim maternity milestone of <dun dun dun> maternity clothes shopping! Thankfully, my parents were in town and my mother was happy to oblige (and C and my dad were happy to get all gendered about it and go to a baseball game).

The next few hours are something of a dizzying frenzy.  Like many of these new frontiers in the land of baby-making-conceiving-and-all-things-utero, it was quite the ethnographic experience[2].

For starters: did you know that maternity stores have bathrooms? BATHROOMS! Private. Bathrooms. For. Pregnant. Ladies (andtheirmothers). Toilet paper and everything. It’s a low bar in the fast world of retail, people.

After that order of business was taken care of because havetopeeallthetime, we moved on to more important matters. Specifically: FAUX BUMP[3]!

"What's that? You want me to put you on?"

Admittedly, I’m probably a little behind the bump[4] curve on this. But you guys – maternity stores have faux bumps that you velcro around your burgeoning gut to simulate the experience, fit and general ridiculousness of being 9 months pregnant.

You walk into the dressing room and it’s just like, you know, hanging there on the back of the door, real innocent like. And then, like a dutiful shopper without a mind of her own and under the tutelage of the scrawny 21 year old saleswoman who is INCREDIBLY PERKY and wants to know if-you’re-having-a-boy!-and-do-you-have-a-name!-and-is-this-the-first-grandchild!-and-we’re-all-snorting-Adderal-in-the-employee-lounge!, you promptly put that padded-everloving-bump on and proceed to wistfully ponder the following:

(1) It is really, really hard to reach my shoes. Thank goodness they’re flip flops <relief>. (And then, moments later) Well, I guess I’ll be wearing some version of slip-on-flip-flop-flat until December. <deep sigh>.
(2) What’s that? Am I waddling? You think my gait has changed dramatically with the simple addition of this enormous foam padding?
(3) I have swallowed a beach ball.
(4) Many other women have worn this against their bare skin. <Trying not to think about how many other women have worn this against their bare skin...calling mother’s name in terror, begging her to procure tank top>

So where were we. The bump. Which I guess, more than anything, left me feeling like a 15 year old in an at risk youth after school program – like next I’d get my lifelike doll to take home for the night, and see how you like a crying infant now! And then I would always make my boyfriend wear a condom cause shit just got real, we’re too young!, etc. Or maybe that’s just a Lifetime movie I saw once.[5]

The point is, the bump worked it’s magic and my patient and generous mother made me try on LITERALLY EVERYTHING at Pea in the Pod. And I am now the proud of owner of six mildly professional[6], properly fitting, maternity getups, which will be in heavy rotation for the next twenty weeks[7]. Of course, since there are only six outfits, I will reserve Sunday as muumuu day[8]. Naturally.[9]

[1] Crap. This sounds an awful lot like “parenting”… <backs out of room slowly>.
[2] And I’m sure that my anthropologist readers can chime in and quibble with my use of ethnographic, reference the Trobriander of Papua New Guinea and so forth. Seriously though, I have no idea what I’m talking about.
[3] In related news, this is an ENTIRE INDUSTRY. Because, umm, yes?
[4] Too easy.
[5] Speaking of which, how come the nervous teenager in the Lifetime movie never subsequently finds out that 10 years of birth control were a colossal waste of money and anxiety and that her best hope of getting pregnant will be in a petri dish? I mean seriously. That’s a missed opportunity if I ever saw one. On a related note, I see a future in filmmaking.
[6] Dark skinny jeans are “mildly professional”, right? RIGHT!  (For the record – which I’m sure one of you/”the man” is keeping: AG maternity jeans are basically glorified sweatpants and I will never ever take them off, ever again. Mostly because I have to justify just how expensive they were.)
[7] Strike that. Let’s get real and go with 30. I have a feeling I may be slow to lose this, ahem, “maternity weight.”
[8] During which time I will eat bon bons and use my muumuu as an oversized napkin. It will be divine.
[9] And (most) joking aside, I found Pea in the Pod to actually, kind of, have decent stuff. (And no, no one paid me for that mediocre endorsement - the CEO of Pea in the Pod is probably having a conniption now that her store has been mentioned in the likes of this riff-raff blog). Along with Gap maternity and ASOS. And that wraps up my official where-to-shop-when-pregnant user manual. <curtsy>.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

there's a secret I've been keeping, 17 weeks, 5 days

The other day a good friend asked me if I was excited – if, after the rollercoaster of junior varsity infertility, I was finally ready to unleash the pregnancy-frenzy[1]. I think I hesitated for a moment – engaged in a kind of surprisingly reflective self-check-in. Well, YES! I guess I am excited!

And I was; and I am. But transitioning from the anxiety of too-much-information, the deep, dark rabbit holes of the Googles, the truths of the interwebs-land-of-infertility-story-sharing and my own difficulty in, at least at first, contending with my own sudden and unexpected label – infertile – left me discombobulated.

Rather than the 8-weeks-pregnant-tell-the-world-or-at-least-Facebook-unbridled-euphoria! that seems to take hold of many in the newly pregnant set, I felt myself holding back[2]. I knew too much, I was too lucky to get pregnant after just 14 months, it was too easy to not have to do IVF, what’s that shiny thing oh look I’m distracted.

But now, now, I’m there. At nearly 18 weeks, I am starting to think about what color to paint the baby’s room; I’m imagining what those first few weeks will be like, with C and I, at home together with our babe; I put my hands on my burgeoning bump and looked in the mirror and all I could see was my pregnant body in a muumuu! I felt it, a sort of cliché zen, like things were right in the world and like I might just have this very baby. Or, you know, like it was over-90-degrees-in-my-un-air-conditioned-100-year-old-apartment-and-i-was-just-too-catatonic-to-do-anything-but-grin-stupidly-while-sweat-dripped-down-my-back. Whatever. I’ll take it.

But the point is, there was something else that made this real. Like, real, real. And it’s something that I’ve been keeping from you, dear interwebs, dear loyal readers, dear new-followers-on-the-mysterious-bloglovin-which-makes-me-think-of-mclovin-and-which-I-really-like-but-only-sort-of-know-how-to-use. A big, bad, dirty little secret.

Here goes: we’re having a feral pig! boy.

We just found out, after we finally got the results of some looney-tunes-test-that-only-newly-pregnant-after-infertility-29-year-olds-can-be-convinced-to-pay-for-when-their-risk-of-down-syndrome-is-one-in-a-gazillion. It’s one of these new tests – noninvasive[3], pulls out the baby’s DNA, checks for various scary trisomies and in so doing, also extracts the high-school-biology-memories-are-returning![4] XX or XY chromosome, with over 99% accuracy, so on and so forth[5].

So we found out[6]. By phone, from a kind nurse, who patiently repeated the results several times because, you know, I was obviously having a series of small strokes, such was my overwhelmed-ness.

And now, here we are. Having a boy. I have never had a preference – I mean it. But at the same time, whenever we imagined a child[7], we imagined a girl – not because we had a preference, but because we had a name. Since college, we had a name for a girl. It was crazy. We imagined her pulling on our dog’s tail, romping around the garden in rubber boots, singing silly made up songs with C about squirrels and an imaginary cat named Waffles which was an orange tabby that she would pick out[8].

So yeah, it took a few days to shift our hypotheticals, to start seriously batting around boys’ names, to briefly consider how many times I would get peed on, etc.

But now we’re, kinda, sorta, here. Now I find myself thinking about the kind of son I want to raise; the kind of person he’ll be. And of course, there’s the obvious – he will be a feminist; he will wear a gender neutralizing, androgynous burlap sack until he’s 18; we will use exclusively unisex/intersex/sexless[9] pronouns; we will play Free to Be You and Me records[10] on an incessant, mind numbing loop; he will play with dolls and trucks and he will learn to bake and garden and sew and build fires and fix cars. 

And then, you know, he will promptly rebel, join the Federalist Society, work for the NRA, never speak to me again and spend an inordinate amount of time in therapy.

Ah, yes, how quickly I get back to square one…

For now then, C and I are on the same page – screw the specifics of it all – boy, girl, or feral pig[11] – we just want to raise a child who is happy, a child who is kind and compassionate, and a child who does good. Really, that’s it. And you know, also a child who takes after both of his parents in the sarcasm and political opinions department, thanks, universe!

[1] Err, you know, in similar words.
[2] Until, like, almost 18 weeks. I know, I know, the portrait of restraint!, etc.
[3] (Though, anything-that-involves-taking-that-much-blood-shouldn’t-really-be-called-nonvinvasive. So. Yeah. Bunch a liars.)
[4] The words “punnet square” still elicit very mixed emotions of “ooh, fun, it’s like a puzzle!” and TERROR! TERROR! DO NOT PASS GO!
[5] The test has some kind of Orwellian-non-specific-but-sounds-like-rainbows! name, like “Sunshine” or “Harmony” or “Expensive-test-your-insurance-won’t-cover!” Something like that.
[6] But frankly, until I see penis, I’m still not convinced it’s not a goat.
[7] Which, obviously, was ALL-THE-TIME-FOREVER-AND-EVER.
[8] It’s our fantasy so, you know, withhold judgment, pleaseandthankyou.
[9] Fine. That last one might warp him.
[10] Because, honestly, the only way to play Free to Be You and Me is by record. That stuff is vintage.
[11] Because really, what other options are there?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

pants-less wonder, 17 weeks, 2 days

Sometimes it’s the moments you least expect that let you know that yes, you really are, pregnant.

It’s not that I wake up at least 2-3 times a night to pee; it’s not that I now lean forward while peeing, with my torso roughly parallel to the tile floor, tilting my uterus to extract every last drop and per the musical medical wizardry of my doctor husband, sing the alphabet before I get up off the toilet JUST TO MAKE SURE THERE’S NO MORE PEE[1]; it’s not that my gums bled for a week and a half every time I lightly brushed my ever-loving-extra-sensitive-so-much-blood-rushing-to-every-vessel! teeth; it’s not that I could eat pad thai noodles or vegetarian sushi all day every day and, still, have only a mild and fleeting interest in chocolate; it’s not that my boobs are suddenly like ohhai!-we’re-no-longer-just-on-the-cusp-of-a-measly-b-cup-please-and-thank-you; it’s not that I’m in full on, beyond cliché, nauseatingly domestic nesting mode, transparently ogling the strollers of the neighborhood moms and practically giddy over a mint condition “arm’s reach co-sleeper” we scored for forty bucks at a yard sale; it’s not that I cried snotty, messy, sobs over my granola just one minute in to the latest StoryCorps and scrambled to turn off the radio while C, alternately flabbergasted and amused, looked on, mouth agape; it’s not that I returned to pre-natal yoga[2], where a series of wall-sits were compared to “each minute of a contraction!” or that during these wall sits our instructor, who clutches her vagina when demonstrating something involving the pelvic floor, allowed us to scream out in pain, as though in labor, and the woman two down from me took her word for it and belted out, in between some kind of part orgasm/part shriek, kinky mother fucker son of a bitch!; it’s not that I got pregnancy-shingles[3] and have now been blessed with a new mystery what’s-the-word-I’m-looking-for?-oh-right-SEXY rash that seems to be consuming my left boob[4]; it’s not that I heard the beating heart, with my own two ears, or saw a giant fetus head, with my own two eyes; and it's certainly not that I'm complaining about any of this because, hello-this-was-the-goal.

No. It’s not any of these things.

There is just one thing that strikes me as the real moment when I felt like, aww shucks, I really am pregnant. It was earlier this week, when it suddenly came over me that I am carrying a human fetus truly, deeply, sincerely and genuinely: COMPLETELY UNINTERESTED IN WEARING PANTS.

Oh sure, they all still kinda, sorta fit (ish). The bump is definitely, happening, emerging, present. But also intermittently concealable depending on the time of day and the amount of pad thai I’ve consumed in the last 24 hours. And sure, there’s one pair of stretchy black umm-could-these-possibly-pass-as-everyday-pants-in-a-professional-environment? J.Crew pajama pants that I could live in. But otherwise, I am just, well, 100% not interested. In fact, it’s more than disinterest – it’s an all consuming revulsion. And I’d like to say that it’s no big deal. That it’s summer. That I’ll just wear adorable, well fitting, pregnancy chic sundresses for the next five months. But we need to be honest with ourselves. We all know what’s coming: MUUMUU![5]

[1] There’s always more. THERE IS ALWAYS MORE EFFING URINE.
[2] Which I secretly kind of love.
[3] Yeah. That’s definitely hyphenated.
[4] I know, I know, you’re on the edge of your seats. More soon.
[5] Vast Waistband Salesman: “Many of our clients find pants confining, so we offer a range of alternatives for the ample gentleman: ponchos, muumuus, capes, jumpsuits, unisheets, muslin body rolls, academic and judicial robes.” 

Homer Simpson: “I don’t want to look like a weirdo.  I’ll just go with a muumuu.”

Monday, July 8, 2013

ultrasound withdrawal, 16 weeks, 3 days

Hello. My name is Sarah, I’m a right-handed Virgo with a weakness for sea salt caramels and depressing documentary films and I am in ultrasound withdrawal. <takes bow>.

At 16 weeks pregnant[1] I have only had two ultrasounds. Two ultrasounds and one Doppler[2]. One Doppler where I felt like I might as well have been holding a Playskool toy microphone to my belly, or maybe a seashell with a string attached. It was so… anticlimactic. There was the heartbeat – totaldreametc. – but then the rest was left to my imagination. No pictures to take home to gaze at longingly stuff in my top dresser drawer alongside old, partially used packs of birth control and empty Clomid bottles which I’m obviously saving for… sentimental reasons? Some disturbed sense of martyrdom? To share with my therapist years in the future?

And now, here I am, 16 weeks pregnant, four weeks since I last saw this fetus – this baby – this living heartbeat with limbs and a not-fully-formed-face, smaller than a tomato, and apparently, growing, like, you know, inside of me.

It’s a strange feeling. This proceeding as though things are normal, this sense of the continued signs of what appears to be a viable pregnancy – some cravings, the-bad-taste-which-comes-every-night-like-clockwork, the early morning insomnia, the pants-tightening-shirt-tugging expansion of my mid-section, the uterine twinges and cramps and stretching. OHDEARTHESTRETCHING!

All this, alongside the palpable and ever present feeling of NO CONFIRMATION FOR OVER A MONTH OHMYGOODNESSIAMLOSINGIT.

And so, naturally, I thought of some options. Believe me, I almost went off the deep end. Attentive readers may recall that C is a space-traveling-werewolf! doctor. So, I thought completely hypothetically, what’s to prevent me from sneaking into the hospital with him, under cover of night, in a cat burglar costume, and scooting up to an unoccupied ultrasound machine and just like, oh, I don’t know, “checking” on baby? Except, you know, besides EVERYTHING, ETHICS, PROFESSIONALISM, I-SWEAR-I’M-NOT-CRAZY.

More reasonably but still with a distinct air of SHE’S COME UNHINGED! about it, I can, dear people of the interwebs, PURCHASE MY VERY OWN AT HOME DOPPLER!

For a cool 30 bucks, I can have the UTTER TERROR of desperately trying to find my baby’s heartbeat in the comfort of my own home. Now of course, as aforementioned, the Doppler leaves much to the imagination – will I know if my baby-tomato has developed 6 arms or turned into a fox? I will not. But it could be fun. Like a giant game of chicken. Or betcha-can’t-find-just-one-heartbeat! followed by hours of deep, unrelenting despair brought on by my novice understanding of biology and profound inability to locate my own uterus.

Despite the obvious plausibility of these two tremendously reasonable options, I have opted to do nothing but bite my cuticles down to the quick, while nervously imagining all that could go wrong while, and I really mean this, being immeasurably grateful that I have largely avoided total calamity thus far.

In a week and a half, I’ll have my third ultrasound. Until then, I’m planning my cat burglar costume.

[1] Seriously though, when on earth did that happen? I actually Googled whether 16 weeks was equivalent to four months. Not only did poor math skills lead me to a life of lawyering, but MY LANDS! where has the time gone. (Also, turns out I’m not the only one. Hello Lunar months!).
[2] Which is not to be confused with the measurement used by the National Weather Service. Or the Doppler Effect. Or Christian Johann Doppler. Or David Doppler, who apparently starred in The Three Musketeers at Iowa State University. I guess what I’m saying is… if you plan to image search “doppler” well, it’s a jungle out there. (I go down these rabbit holes so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.)