Friday, December 24, 2010

just what you wanted for Christmas: breast pump poetry.

Inspired by true events of about two weeks ago.
I am not making this up.

Twas a few weeks post-partum, when all through the house
The mom, baby napping, unbuttoned her blouse.
The pump had been unpacked, her nipples so red,
It seemed like the time to try this thing instead.

The baby was nestled all snug in her bed,
While visions of mom's breasts danced in her head.
And mamma sat reading directions galore,
from the pump she had purchased at Baby Box Store.

She connected the pieces, she plugged the pump in,
And sat at the table, ready to begin.
"My own dairy farm," she smiled, stuck the flange on her breast
And settled in - now, let the pump do the rest.

When what to her wondering ears should then ring,
but the bloody damn doorbell!  Listening,
she thought she'd ignore it, and then realized
It's prob'ly FedEx.  They won't compromise.

They'll take that good package and return it so fast,
they'll make us drive all the way out to their warehouse, out past
the mall and the traffic and shoppers, oh my;
might as well get the door now, she sighed.

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
she whipped that pump off ("Ouch," she said, with a frown)
And carefully put the milk bottles down.

She pulled up her shirt and she ran to the door
As the engine on FedEx Guy's truck gave a roar.
"No, wait!" she cried, grabbed the box, and signed with a smile,
Got back in the house and looked down for awhile,

Realizing she had on old pj's, with a stain
That was clearly the milk squirting out.  What a pain.
So she dashed back to pump, hooked herself up again
and settled back in to finish what she'd begun.

And then in a twinkling she heard it once more-
The doorbell.  AGAIN.  "How is this?" the mom roared;
there's been no one to visit for days at a time!
Why now?  Why again?  Don't they know I'm all primed?

But Christmas is coming, and she's shopped all online
Which means packages show up at any old time.
So she pulled the pump off, nipples stretched out so far
they might never return.  Will they fit in the bra?

Twas the postman this time, his dimples so merry,
his cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry.
She grabbed the box quickly, ran back inside,
and hooked it all up again, for just one more try.

Alas - not to be this time, the nipples are done.
Two times interrupted is not so much fun.
She packed it all up.  She'll try again later.
She's learned one thing for sure, lessons here to be shared:

If FexEx or postman you seek to arrive,
wishing a box to your home they would drive;
just hook up your breast pump and pull down your top -
they'll be there in moments, and you'll have to stop.

And you'll hear them exclaim, 'ere they drive out of sight;
"Happy pumping to all, and to all a good night."

Happy Holidays to all.

From someone who occasionally has a little too much time on her hands.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

just because

Just because sometimes, when you have put clean pajamas and a sleeper on this cute girl, and then realized you forgot the nighttime (i.e. disposable) diaper, so you change it real quick, and then hear her completely fill it with poop, and so you are changing real quick again into nighttime diaper number two, during which she completely shits all over said diaper, pajamas, sleeper, changing table cover, and mom's hand...

the face still makes you smile.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

rubber, meet road.

Well.  It's been a fussy day at this house.  One of those days when I have to concentrate hard and think about being in the RE's office, or undergoing the IVF retrieval or transfer, or all the times I cried after getting my period, and remember how much I wanted this very beloved, adorable, fussyfussyfussyfussy girl in my arms.

She's not normally like this (and right now she's "sleeping" - as in, resting her eyes until he takes his finger out of her mouth and she starts crying again - with her dad, giving me a blessed few moments to myself).  So maybe my tolerance level for fussiness is not as high as others' might be.  We did have a good morning; we went out (woohoo! out of the house!) and got her photo taken with Santa which, if I might say so myself, is freaking ADORABLE.  We did a few other errands.  And then we got home, and...

F-U-S-S-Y.  For no reason whatsoever.  Hungry?  No.  Dirty diaper?  No.  Gas?  Maybe, but who can tell?  Tired?  Probably, but you can't force sleep on people.  (Although you can close your eyes and try to will people into sleep, but I have found this method unsuccessful so far.)

She's a pretty easy baby in the grand scheme of things, but even "easy" babies are a lot of work.

I feel the need to include all the standard disclaimers: I love her, she's worth every second of frustration, I wouldn't trade it for the world...but, let's face it.  Fussy babies are no fun.  Sometimes, I simply remind myself: today is just one day.  Tomorrow is another day.

Parenting advice from Scarlett O'Hara.  Might not be the best idea.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

because I just can't stop talking about my boobs

(Side note: how many random visitors will I get for including the word "boobs' in the title of this post?)

I told my mom yesterday that I never imagined I would talk about - not to mention display - my nipples to so many people.  I'm practically at the point of whipping them out on the street and asking people, "do you think this is normal?  Does this look like a yeast infection?  What would you do in my situation?" However, I'm pretty sure this would get me arrested, and "detained for public nudity" is not something I really want in my permanent file, especially given the whole "minister" thing.

So, yesterday we went to the tongue-snipping doctor.  She was very kind, and agreed that yes, baby girl did indeed have a tongue-tie problem.  (RELIEF.)  She and her assistant checked my nipples and both felt that I probably do not have a yeast infection (BIGGER RELIEF), but that I'm suffering from "mechanical damage."  Weird term, yes?  But reflects my suspicion, that it's simply her inability to latch correctly which is the major problem.  I'd been thinking that over the past week, mostly because the nipple cream, anti-fungal stuff and ibu.profen fix I was given to address the potential yeast infection was doing absolutely no good.

So, they weighed her first, and we had good news: since the formula supplementation started, the kid had gained nearly a pound in five days.  Nine pounds, up from 7 pounds 14 ounces a week ago.  Yay!  Visions of Terrible Awful Big Bad Things Wrong began to fade from my mind.  To be replaced with a quick vision of Morbidly Obese Baby, but I think we can let that one go.  And then we talked about the tongue for a bit, and the doctor told me I could watch or leave the room, or do whatever I liked, and I was definitely going to watch until she pulled out the little scissors and I decided nope...couldn't do it.  Baby girl hated it, naturally, but it was over quickly.  I felt horrible for a moment, knowing it was painful (although not much, most likely) but I kept telling myself that it was much better to do this now than to discover she'd need this done at age 3, or 5, or 10, or whatever.

A few moments of intense screaming later, she latched right on, and we're already doing better.  Much less pain.  We'll stick with formula supplementation until we see the doctor next week, at which point we'll probably start to wean her off.

Meanwhile, she's amusing herself staring at the (apparently) fascinating yellow quilt on the couch.  Between that and light fixtures, she hardly ever needs anything else to look at.  What could be more interesting?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Repeat to self: do not panic.  Do not panic.  Do.  Not.  Panic.

So, we went back to the doctor today for a second weight check, since baby girl was not at her birth weight last week.  As of today, she's at - exactly the same weight as last week.  Just shy of eight pounds.  Not an ounce gained (or lost, as my husband tried to point out while I wept).

The nurse did not freak out.  I, of course, did.  For two reasons: one, I am - being a worrier and also a bit shy on sleep - convinced that this means there is something terribly, horribly wrong and that we are beginning a long slide into Something Awful And As Yet Unknown, which is the worst kind of Awful there is.  And two, because - although it is getting better by the day - breastfeeding is still definitely not painless, which means I have been feeding her eight times a day, every day, painfully, and she has not gained anything as a result.  This is depressing, to say the least.

I cried all the way home, imagining all the Bad Things and thinking about all the breast pain, and resolved not to torture myself with Dr. Google.  Which I mostly managed to avoid, although I did reassure myself by doing a little research on tongue-tied babies - who do, indeed, often have trouble gaining weight.  We have an appointment on Monday to get her frenulum clipped, so hopefully that will make a good difference for both of us.

Her physician was not available until Monday, which meant I had all weekend to worry.  But, at about 7:00pm, the physician called our home (inspiring in me lifelong devotion to this woman) to chat about it.  It turns out she had actually lost an ounce from last week (the baby, not the doctor.  I mean, maybe the doctor lost an ounce too, but she probably wouldn't call me at home to talk about this).  So, the doctor recommended supplementing with formula.

I had two reactions to this: one, profound disappointment at having to take that step.  Failing at breastfeeding (I know, I know, I'm not failing, but it feels that way) seems like Infertility Redux - yet one more thing my body is supposed to be able to do, and can't.  Or won't.  Or whatever.  One more reproductive arena in which I have given it my all and I still can't do it without intervention.  This is frustrating.

But I was also profoundly relieved: that she called, that there is something we can do, that she was concerned but not freaked out, that she was very supportive of breastfeeding and wants me to continue that, and return to exclusive breastfeeding as soon as we get some more weight on this kid.  I breastfed her tonight and gave her a bottle afterward, and she sucked down two ounces like there was no tomorrow - hopefully this will get us over the hump.

This isn't how I thought things would go.  I really thought my sheer willpower would make breastfeeding work.  (I also thought sheer willpower would get me pregnant; apparently I am a slow learner.)  I'm still a little fragile about this, so if you have rooted objections to formula, please don't let me know.  Sometimes, you do what you have to do.  You make the best decision you can and trust that even your mistakes will get worked into something okay in the end.

Either that, or my kid can blame a brief period of formula supplementation for her problems when she goes on Oprah in twenty years.  

Friday, November 19, 2010

well, that explains it.

The breastfeeding saga continues...

Two nights ago - the dark night of the soul - I was about ready to give up.  The pain was only getting worse; I cried before (and during) every feeding, knowing how badly it would hurt.  Baby girl seemed to be getting enough to eat, although she wasn't gaining as much weight as we'd like; still a few ounces shy of her birth weight after two weeks.

Mostly, though, it was the pain.  I could pump just fine, but latch that baby on and holyfreakingmotherofgodandalltheangelsinheaven it could have been used as a torture device for getting information out of suspected terrorists.  I would have given you every secret I knew if it would stop the pain.

So, back to the lactation consultant yesterday.  It turns out that I have a.) a yeast infection.  About which I was freakishly delighted; I know they're a bitch to get rid of, but at least it was something real.  An actual problem.  Not just me.  I always thought I had a reasonable level of pain tolerance, but after barely being able to handle contractions at 2cm dilated and then weeping through breastfeeding, I was beginning to think I might be a closet wimp.  But no!  "Wow," said the consultant after looking at my nipples, "I bet that really hurts."  I practically wept with thanksgiving that she acknowledged it.

But wait!  There's more.  I also have b.) a baby with a short tongue who may need to have her frenulum clipped.  ("Tongue-tied," in other words.)  This probably explains half the pain, because she really can't latch on correctly.  No matter how much of my boob I stuff in her mouth, she still ends up on the tip of the nipple because her tongue can't get around it as it should.

At one point, the consultant stopped in the middle of a sentence and said, "I'm giving you a lot of information here - is it too much?"  "No," I said, because it was such a relief to know that there are actual problems, and that it's not just me - it's not that I have no pain tolerance, or that I can't breastfeed correctly, or that I don't have enough milk.  The tongue problem also explains the tepid weight gain: she's not getting as much as she should at each feeding.  And the yeast infection explains why my breasts hurt all the time, all day long, not just when she eats.

I have never been so relieved to have problems with names.  For the yeast infection, I have a prescription nipple cream and the instruction to take ibu.profen every four hours for at least a week.  "Can you be religious about this?" asked the consultant, which made me giggle a bit; "I specialize in being religious," I thought, but all I said was, "absolutely."  For the tongue problem, we have an appointment with an occupational therapist on Monday; she'll either give us some exercises to do by pushing down on her tongue, or she'll tell us we need to get the frenulum clipped, which freaks me out a bit but is apparently not a big deal and a quick recovery for her.  She also taught us a slightly different sort of latch, which is already relieving a great deal of the pain.

Last night, she was eating on the less-sore side, and I suddenly panicked.  I worried that she wasn't getting enough.  And then I realized why I was panicking: because it didn't hurt.  At all.  For the first time.  She was happily sucking away, and neither of us was crying, and it finally felt like we might be able to do this.

I realize that "intact nipples" is not necessarily the thing I should mention at the dinner table when we go around the circle on Thanksgiving and mention the things for which we are grateful.  But believe me, my Thanksgiving list this year is specific and simple:

Thank God for this beautiful child.
Thank God for lactation consultants.
And thank you, God, for intact nipples.

Amen to that.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The truth is, I think we've finally turned a corner. (Note that I did not say, THE corner. Fate laughs at those who make such claims.) Things are improving on the breastfeeding front, but I believe it is no coincidence that today, in the mail, I received a free sample of infant formula. They just know, don't they - those formula people - that women whose children are about 10 days old and who are weeping with nipple pain are ripe for the "oh, screw it, this formula arrived in the mail and I think my nipples are about to fall off" reaction.

I'm on to you, Formula People. And I WILL NOT BE DEFEATED.

I know there are legitimate reasons why people choose not to, or cannot, breastfeed, so this is mostly definitely not a post judging anyone's choice. I really wanted to breastfeed, so I went to the class (I even dragged my husband along, who admitted later that it actually was pretty helpful). I researched pumps, so I could keep breastfeeding when I went back to work. I stocked up on lanolin (thank God) and I bought a box of breast pads for my newly-purchased nursing bra. I was set.

Unfortunately, they do not sell extra nipples at the Baby Industrial Complex Store. Now THAT would come in handy.

So far, our breastfeeding diary looks something like this:

Day 1: baby is born. Nurse helps us breastfeed within an hour of birth. Recommends the "football hold," which feels a little odd at first but works fairly well. All seems okay.

Day 2: go home with baby. No nurse to help. Husband and self manage to maneuver baby into football hold with relative success, six pillows, and four towels. Kind of time-consuming, especially at 2:00am. But baby seems happy.

Day 3: downhill slide begins. Baby does not want to latch on. Husband is worried that I am not producing enough milk. I am worried that I might kill husband for such suggestion at 2:00am. Milk has not yet arrived. Maybe child is starving to death? Panic. Burst into tears. Also, nipples start hurting. A. LOT. Post-partum appointment nurse says I have "short nipples." What to do about this? Can one elongate one's nipples? Sounds like medieval torture. Or Bush-era interrogation technique. Perhaps should call WikiLeaks for help.

Day 4: child seems to have developed allergy to left boob. Problem. Milk is now arriving and child is not adjusting to increased volume. Call hospital nurse line at 1:30am when child simply refuses to latch. Suggested that we should dribble sugar water on nipple to entice child. This works, although results in extremely sticky child and breast. Possibly we have glued child's eyes shut with glucose water. Oops.

Day 5: child seems to have recovered from glucose water incident but is still not a fan of left boob. Visit world's nicest lactation consultant (thank heavens for these people) who weighs child after feeding and assures panicky parents that child is, in fact, getting enough to eat. Consultant says short nipples are quite common (relief) and child will probably learn to latch just fine. Nipples, however, register routine complaint of EXTREME PAIN.

Day 6: "pain" now relative term, as nipples hurt like SONOFABITCH for the first few seconds and then pain subsides. Realize must stop swearing in front of child at some point but, fortunately, child does not understand that mother is whispering "fuckfuckfuckfuck" during midnight feedings instead of sweet lullaby.

Day 7: lanolin cream seems to be helping. Also, changing breast pads each time (huh: should have read directions earlier) is definitely good idea.

Day 8: if child could just eat every three hours instead of 2, nipples would be much happier. Also, milk is now flowing freely and child is gulping like piglet, probably to save herself from drowning. Results in much gas pain for poor baby. Fortunately, daddy has excellent child-burp-inducing skills.

Day 9: late-night scream-fest probably due to left-boob-over-production-gulping phenomenon. Decide to feed from left breast first and then right. Seems to help.

Day 10: pediatrician appointment confirms that child is gaining appropriate amount of weight. Nipples sigh with relief, as are willing to take one for the team as long as there is progress. First public breastfeeding in doctor's office reception area goes well, thanks to handy stylish boob cover. Very cool. Feel like chic mom. But would chic mom wince with pain and use labor-style breathing techniques to survive latch? Who cares. Screw chic mom.

It really is getting better. But it's hard. And "it doesn't hurt if you do it right" is up there in my book with, "early labor is characterized by contractions which are generally painless." I'm happy that my kid seems to have the sucking reflex of a Dy.son vacuum cleaner, but I also understand why people give up on this. We're just taking it one day at a time. One nipple at a time.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

a birth story

I have a few minutes to myself - baby girl is currently sleeping on her daddy's chest (one of her favorite spots, and where she sleeps best) and I actually got a few hours sleep last night, so it may be possible for me to string a few sentences together. We'll see.

At any rate, I know if I don't write down this story soon, much of it will disappear from my mind, lost in a haze of "how many times has she pooped today?" (general answer: A LOT) and "how much more can my nipples hurt?" (general answer: A LOT).

Last Saturday, I woke up at 2:00am with what felt like really strong menstrual cramps. I was two days overdue and had decided, that night before bed, that I was possibly the first woman in the history of the world who would stay pregnant the rest of her life and never actually give birth. It sounds silly now, to be so impatient after only two days (well, nine months and two days) (four years, nine months and two days), but seriously: this pregnancy felt like it would never end.

We'd had more sex that last week than in the previous nine months combined, and yes, we did on Friday night - maybe that did it, or maybe she was just ready, but by 2:30am I had woken up my husband and told him it might be time to pay attention. I got up then and started walking around during the contractions, which were surprisingly (to me) strong and painful. That whole, "early labor is characterized by contractions which are generally painless" thing? Crock. Of. Shit.

By 6:00am, I was facing two problems: one, the contractions were PAINFUL and no longer the kind I could talk through; and two, I was throwing up absolutely everything which hit my stomach, including water. Given that "nausea" has been the hallmark of this pregnancy, it seemed appropriate to go out with a vomiting bang, but I was worried about being dehydrated. And, throwing up while having a contraction is every bit as unpleasant as you'd imagine.

My worst fear was getting to the hospital and having them tell me, after all that pain and vomiting, that I was only 2cm dilated. We got there. They examined me. I was 2cm dilated. SONOFABITCH. So, they sent me to walk around the hospital for an hour. I came back. I was "slightly over" 2 cm dilated (and I have a feeling she put in the "slightly over" to keep me from bursting into tears). So, they recommended we go home until the contractions were 2-3 minutes apart, or my water broke. They gave me a shot of morphine to take the edge off, which also had an anti-nausea component, and thankfully, that did end the vomiting.

We got home at 9:00am. The morphine was having no effect whatsoever, but I decided to lay in bed and try to rest between contractions (HAHAHAHAHA). At 9:24am, while my husband was making himself breakfast, my water broke. So, back to the hospital - where they admitted me, and where, at 11:00am, the anesthesiologist gave me the blessed epidural. That man must hear, "I love you," more than any other staff at the hospital.

After that, things progressed well. I was about 5cm dilated when I got the epidural, and although I could feel some sensations now and then - and every once in awhile the epidural started to wear off a bit on my right side - the pain was gone. We had two scares with her heartbeat; one in particular got 6 labor nurses in the room to quickly flip me onto my hands and knees until everything went back to normal. A scary few moments, but thankfully, all it required was that I laid on my side from then on.

By 5:30pm, I was completely dilated on one side, but not quite on the other. (Weird. Never heard of that.) We tried a few other positions, but finally, the doctor decided I would just have to start pushing and she would try to maneuever the baby around the very small lip of cervix remaining. By then, I could definitely feel the need to push - no pain, but a lot of pressure. One big push and she was past the cervix, and then another 45 minutes of pushing!

Because we didn't know the gender, the nurses had told my husband they would hold the baby up to him and let him announce it. Keep in mind that this is a man who gets lightheaded when discussing blood (and who has to keep his eyes shut during certain portions of Grey's Anatomy), so we were a little concerned about his ability to hang in there, but he was amazing. He held my right leg and watched the whole thing - and, when she was born, he cried, "it's a girl!" paused, and then said quizically, "isn't it?" because, let's face it, there's a lot of stuff going on there - cord, blood, nurses' hands, tears, relief. But he was right. She was here. Finally.

She cried at first, but they laid her on my chest immediately and then she stopped crying and stared at her parents, who were crying enough for everyone anyway. It was, as everyone says, the most amazing moment of my life so far. I know the doctor kept working down there, but I didn't pay any attention. I had two small tears, so I have a few stitches - but she could have been tattooing her name on my hoo-ha and I wouldn't have cared. All we could look at was this little girl. Haven't stopped staring at her since.

She is one week old today. At this time last Saturday, we were eagerly awaiting the anesthesiologist. And the week has been something of a blur - but wonderful. She eats every few hours, and mostly sleeps inbetween. When she's awake, she makes funny faces and stares at us as if she is trying to memorize our features (this could be because we stare right back). Apart from some bumps in the road regarding breastfeeding (separate post on that later), we are doing remarkably well.

For those who are still on the waiting end of infertility, all I know is that I will pray until the end of my days that a child enters your life - through adoption, or birth, or fostering, or however - in just the right way. The privilege of being here is so enormous. Her first name will remain private, but her middle name is Grace - and that she is, a gift we don't deserve, and could never earn.

For all those who followed our journey to and through pregnancy, thank you. I'm sure my posting here will continue, though less frequently. I keep getting interrupted, you see.

But that was the only thing I ever wanted anyway.

Monday, November 1, 2010

at long last: the baby interrupts

Our beautiful daughter was born at 7:15pm on Saturday, October 30. 8 pounds, 5 ounces of sheer cuteness (and, until her foolish mother proclaims this over the web, marvelous zen calm).

For privacy, we're keeping her name off the internets. But I'll share one photo, because seriously: the cuteness is hard to verbalize.

I'll post birth story details in the next week or so for those who are interested. Short version: all went very well. And I believe the epidural is the best invention of all time.

Thank you, more than words can say, for all your support along this journey. Now, for the next big adventure...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

this is the day...or, not.

On February 4, the day of my embryo transfer, I refused to look up the potential due date of this baby. I'd done that before, for one thing, and it just set me up for disappointment; it made everything more real, and when the ectopic diagnosis came, it felt as if those carefully built-up dreams came crashing down even further. I didn't even figure out a due date for this kid until our 7 week ultrasound at the RE's office. I remember looking at the piece of paper my RE gave me to take to the ObGyn, and reading, "Due date: October 28, 2010." Good God, I thought - that is a lifetime away.

October sounded like it was in another year, another world, another universe. Even in August, when people would ask when I was due and I responded, "October," they'd say, "oh, you have a ways to go," which was sort of true, until I realized that the end of August was only 8 weeks from the end of October. Maybe it's the change in season between the two which makes them feel so disconnected. While you're in your t-shirt and shorts, drinking lemonade outside, the last thing you want to think about is turning up the heat and getting out the umbrellas for October weather.

Once September rolled around, October felt a lot closer. It was almost fall. Life was busier again, which made the time go faster. Baby showers started to happen. The nursery was essentially ready. Every Sunday at church, someone would ask how much longer until the due date, and now, it seems like just yesterday that I was saying, "nine weeks....eight weeks..."

Today. There's no indication that the baby will actually show up today, of course. I was five days late. (I was also breech, and never turned, so I ended up as a c-section - thankfully we don't appear to be repeating the breech section of history here.) I had an acupuncture appointment yesterday, something my doctor had suggested when I asked about tips to get labor started, and although I had some stronger BH contractions that afternoon, they don't seem to be in any kind of pattern.

It's like waking up on Christmas morning, except your parents come in and tell you that Christmas has been moved to another day. "What day?" you ask, in great anticipation. "Well, we don't know," they say, "but you'll know it when it comes."

The bible is full of 40's. 40 days and 40 nights of rain while Noah and his family float around on the ark with all the animals. 40 years of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness before they finally reach the promised land. 40 days Jesus spends in the desert, being tempted by the devil.

What most of those 40's have in common is their location in-between the times: between rain and dry land; between wilderness and promised land; between Jesus' private and public life. You hang out someplace liminal for 40 days, or weeks, or years, and eventually, you get to where you're going.

40 weeks of in-between: good description of pregnancy. How good it is to be here, still waiting, but ready.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


3 days until the due date.

Today was my last day of work - and it brought the conversation I've been dreading for weeks. I had to fire somebody today. I've never done this before (and earnestly hope never to have to do it again). Firing people sucks. (Getting fired is worse, I realize, but if you have any heart at all, it's not easy to deliver the news either.)

It's an enormously complicated situation, and not something to be broadcast on the internets, but it's over. The person handled it better than I had anticipated. And it's over. I did it; not the way I wanted to leave for a few months, but it's done.

Now I get to stay home and stare at my belly, chanting anything from "come on, baby, we want to meet you!" to, "GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT," depending on how I feel at the time. Yesterday's doctor appointment was not as exciting as I'd hoped; still just over 1cm dilated, which means - well, nothing, really. I could go into labor today. Or tomorrow. Or a week from now. At any rate, they'd bring me in for induction if baby doesn't show up by Friday, November 5th. I really don't want to be induced, so I'm hoping that the threat of the 5th will be enough to motivate this kid.

In other good news, you know what else will be over soon? Election season! No more political ads! Hot damn and hallelujah, people. I can't take it anymore. Between my chanting, "GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT" to this baby and, "SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP" to the politicos on television, I'm coming off a lot more cranky than I actually am.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Giuliana and Bill: waiting for the (very expensive) other shoe to drop

Today, I am "working." (Today's "work" consists of an actual morning at work, followed by an afternoon of crappy television. To be followed by some actual work in the evening. But still; not exactly an over-exertion kind of day.)

Which brings us to the next episode of Giuliana and Bill: In Which Bad Things Are Projected To Happen And I Feel For Them Even Though They're Still Pretty Irritating.

2:00pm: episode starts with happiness in RE's office about positive pregnancy test. Lots of laughing and joking. Remember the total high of getting the "it's positive" call from the nurse. Such a great day.

2:01pm: G and B say "they never thought it would happen," but they "knew it would happen." Remember the same disbelief.

2:02pm: debate about when to tell people. Ah, yes; remember that too. B doesn't want to jinx it. G just wants to tell parents. B thinks it's safe to tell after 8 weeks, because then it's totally safe. Slow down, there, buddy.

2:03pm: G and B debate where they are going to live. Seems as if this would have been a good discussion to have before baby, but maybe that's just me.

2:04pm: Suspenseful Music indicates Big Decision About To Come.

2:05pm: G and B decide to live in Chicago. Recall that decision to move from one side of state to the other side involved weeks of discussions between husband and self. Apparently should put selves on reality show for quicker resolution of problems. Good to know.

2:06pm: G checks out photos of self on soon-to-be-published magazine. Must choose between 3 options. Biggest decision of own morning: blueberry or multi-grain muffin? Different life.

2:07pm: last photo indicates G has spectacular boobs. Just saying. Suspect spectacular push-up bra may be involved.

2:08pm: The Great House Search begins. G and B identify priorities. G: move-in ready. B: house will need to be worked on. Ah: think we have identified This Episode's Big Dilemma Which Will Be Solved After Final Commercial Break. Realtor sets up 2 options: one move-in-ready house; one crackhouse that will need total rehab. What will happen?

2:10pm: G and B visit house #1: House Which Needs No Work. Yowza. G approves of closet which is size of own master bedroom.

2:11pm: G cannot stop talking about "baby on the way." Realize that producers are setting us up for G and B heartbreak later on. Makes me sad.

2:12pm: House #1 is pronounced acceptable. On to House #2: looks great from the outside. Except for missing front steps and front door. Naturally, B loves it. G hates it. Find self agreeing with G. Rare.

2:15pm: G finds potential bullet shell in sun room. Convinced that house is Hob of Hell. House definitely has potential, but that's a LOT of work.

2:16pm: G keeps insisting that B does not understand the fact that her pregnancy means massive bedroom closets must already be complete. (However, would probably feel similarly if husband found massive construction project at beginning of own pregnancy.)

2:18pm: B and G must now have Important Marital Conversation in Cute Local Bistro. B wants to choose house as a 'surprise.' Think self would punch husband in face if he suggested choosing house as 'surprise.' But G agrees to this plan. Does not feel like Plotline No One Would Do In Actual Life But Somehow Seems Like "Reality" on Television. Not at all.

2:20pm: B and G meet with lawyer for estate planning. Good job. Everybody should do this.

2:21pm: distracted during B's close-up by suspicion that B has had eyebrow waxing. Eyebrows are strangely bushy-yet-orderly. Evidence of manscaping, methinks.

2:23pm: B and G argue in front of lawyer about who will take care of kids if needed. G admits her sister is a big spender. (Shocker.) But G thinks this will be okay, because she could curse her sister from heaven if she spends money recklessly. G and B call his sister to see who is in charge of her kids - they think it might be them. Isn't this the sort of thing they should already know?

2:24pm: more close-up time. Definite eyebrow waxing. Lost track of conversation for a minute.

2:25pm: G and B must go home (or, to Cute Local Bistro) to discuss will.

2:26pm: G meets friend at Cute Local Pub. (Definitely different than Cute Local Bistro.) G is trying to make friends in new hometown of Chicago. G's New Friend has Boyfriend Dilemma. Discuss. New Friend invites G to hang out with girlfriend group. Seem to remember that moving to new town and finding new friends was harder in own life, but whatever.

2:27pm: B meets with contractor friend to evaluate Crazy Crackhouse Option. B tries to convince contractor that house is "almost completely finished." Think contractor will have different feeling when he sees said "almost completely finished" holes in wall and lack of stairs inside.

2:30pm: B's sister shows up with friends to evaluate house. Contractor: "which part of this did you say was almost done?" (Knew it.) B's friend thinks it's a year's worth of work. B says four months. Kind of a chasm, there.

2:31pm: G has bought expensive leather jacket and shows it to B. B is going to put her on a budget. Good luck, dude. G plays dumb. (Shocker.) Interesting how B wants to cut G's expenses but still maintains total control over house decision. Do not care for that.

2:32pm: G at party to reveal her magazine cover. Good photo. G gives rousing speech about How Much She Loves Chicago. Then immediately flies to L.A.

2:34pm: G must pick outfits for E news. G reminds us that "no one has ever been the main anchor of E! news and been pregnant." Way to break ground, G.

2:35pm: G is worried that she is gaining weight already. Shut. Up.

2:38pm: Assistant accidentally zips G's skin into dress because she is obviously SO fat. G blames mom's cooking.

2:39pm: B decides on house. B mentions his lawyer's name for the fifteenth time. Suspect said lawyer is donating services in exchange for frequent mention of name on television. B chooses Crackhouse Needing Assload of Work. Shocker.

2:41pm: B blindfolds G so she will not know which house he chose. The suspense is killing me!

2:42pm: G tries to guess house. You would think that walking on the dirt road which should be a driveway would give it away. Apparently not.

2:44pm: B reveals that he has chosen (drum roll...) Crackhouse! Can you believe it? So surprised! Decision made after last commercial break! Also surprising!

2:45pm: G says this is "exciting" the way I would say a dead rat in my kitchen was "interesting." However, G claims she will "help" with remodel. Will be curious to see how G defines said "help." Probably cute new outfit involved.

2:46pm: show over.

Hmmm...herein lies the dilemma of reality TV. Everyone watching this show knows that Giuliana is no longer pregnant. The trailer from last week gave that away. So now we're playing games: we're watching a woman who, we know, will lose this pregnancy. But they're going to play that out as long as possible for the sake of ratings.

And that's a problem for me. I feel very manipulated by knowing what's coming and yet having to pretend as if it's not. And it's hard to explain, but every woman I know who's made it to pregnancy through infertility already feels like doom is coming most of the time, so this seems particularly exploitative.

We'll see what happens on the next episode. Because G's ditziness is one thing, but being manipulated may put me off this thing for good.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Nothing left to do but wait.

I'm still "working," (quotes indicate that said "working" involves "showing up physically at work even though I hardly have anything to do at this point"). Mostly, I'm sticking around just enough so that I can hold off on starting my leave until either a.) the due date or b.) baby shows up.

Cervix check #2 yesterday indicated still about 1cm dilated, but now 65% effaced. From the brief googling I did when I got home, it sounds like most first-time births involve effacement first, so we're heading in the right direction.

The funny thing is, I've been SO eager for this show to get on the road, but when the doctor asked me yesterday if I wanted her to do anything to "speed things up," my first reaction was a quick, "NO!" Mostly because I'd rather let nature do its thing, but perhaps also indicating that I am slightly less ready than I would have myself believe. I can guarantee that I am ready to have this child exit my body. Am I ready to take that child home and parent it? Ummm.....

Yes. Am I scared? Yes. Am I worried? Yes. Am I beyond excited? Yes.

This last two-week wait is just as hard as the first one was.

Friday, October 15, 2010

infertility is the new black

Yes, I'm still watching Grey's Anatomy. I know, I know: it's not as great as it used to be. But it satisfies my "nearly end of the week, needing something I don't have to think about much" Thursday night dilemma. And I still love Dr. Bailey. So there.

Last night, Meredith and Derek went to a doctor to check out their baby-making potential. (My DVR description of the show says they visited an "obstetrician" - I'm hoping that, given their whole "being doctors" thing, it was an RE, but nobody mentioned any names so it probably doesn't matter.) Meredith had a miscarriage at the end of last season, in the midst of a shooting spree at the hospital, in case you didn't know.

The doctor came in with a somber face and said to them, "well, we have some things to talk about." And all we learned after that is that Meredith has a hostile uterus. Apparent diagnosis: infertility.

Meanwhile, as I was waiting for my hair cut yesterday, flipping through the pages of a recent Entertainment Weekly, I came across a description for this season of How I Met Your Mother, indicating that the married couple in that show are going to start trying to have a baby and experience fertility troubles.

And, as we know, there's always Giuliana and Bill. And the often dubiously-correct (or, flat-out, wildly incorrect) fertility storylines on Private Practice, although those have been in mercifully short supply lately.

I used to wish that infertility got more coverage in the mainstream media. You know, besides things like Octo-Mom and reality shows featuring high order multiple families. And the occasional patronizing article in the New York Times.

But now I'm not so sure. The big advantage of secrecy is that you can keep things accurate and manageable. Okay, nobody understands infertility: but at least they don't go around with half-assed information, trying to act as if they do. Full-on ignorance is sometimes preferable.

I remember reading reviews of Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan, which - while acknowledging that they are both remarkable movies in many ways - also pointed out that seeing a movie about something as horrific as the Holocaust, or as traumatic as D-Day, is no substitute for the real thing. That having people come out of a theatre saying, "now I understand what that was like," is truly insulting to those who survived those events. No, you don't understand, said the reviewer (a WWII vet). No movie, visually stunning as it might be, can give you even a glimpse of the reality it portrays.

Believe me, I'm not suggesting that infertility is on par with D-Day and the Holocaust. But there's something similar at work here, in that publicity about something - anything - can lead people to believe that they really understand it, without ever having experienced it for themselves. That gets really aggravating when you've been through it. There are no shortcuts for pain.

But, then again, there's great value in bringing things into the light. Acknowledging that the pain is real. Beginning to educate people who have made all kinds of inaccurate assumptions.

So, is it good or bad if infertility is the new black? What do you think?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

giuliana and bill: the new season

I thought two things: one, that I would stop watching Giuliana and Bill (but I underestimated the power of really bad reality television); and two, that if I did watch it, I would not write running commentaries on it anymore. Because, frankly, it just seemed really mean for me, at 38 weeks pregnant, to make fun of someone who is trying to have a baby. What has infertility taught me if not compassion?

So I tried to watch the first episode of the new season without my usual blog entry, and I just couldn't do it. I absolutely have compassion for their desire to have children. But, mygodinheaven, that woman is stupid as a box of rocks. And the only way to get through the show is to type my way through it. (Which brings us back to solution #1: stop. watching. this. show.)

(By the way, I realize that Giuliana may not be as stupid as she is edited to be on the show. But, she allows herself to be portrayed as such. Which is not all that bright either, in my opinion.)

So, here we go. Giuliana and Bill: the new season.

1:19pm: we start with a review of last season. Am now remembering how irritated I got by this show. However, must have missed episode wherein Generic Gay Assistant quits. DRAMA.

1:20pm: review ends with B & G in matching fur-lined jackets discussing IVF. Very fashionable. But the matching thing is weird.

1:21pm: new episode starts with clips of B & G's super, super, super busy and super important and super busy life. Apparently, they are quite busy. B says they need to realize they "can't do it all and have a baby." True that.

1:22pm: G & B try out rollerblading whilst having important IVF discussion. G is worried that she will mess up her female parts. Or that B will crush his balls in freak rollerblading accident. Scene does not at all feel like "carefully rehearsed cute scene in which couple must come to important decision before first commercial break." Not at all.

1:24pm: G sucks at rollerblading. Shocker.

1:25pm: back to Chicago. B & G meet with "IVF specialist" Dr. Kaplan. (If this show could ever use any accurate language - how hard is Reproductive Endocrinologist? - I would be less irritated.)

1:26pm: G attempts to explain IVF. Basically correct. Doctor assures them that they can plan the exact timing of IVF. Think that doctor is overselling this point a bit. Suspect that we are being set up for "massive scheduling conflict before second commercial break."

1:27pm: Los Angeles. G complains that she can't eat breakfast because she doesn't have an assistant. That certainly makes it hard for me to have breakfast. Can totally relate. Every morning, I bemoan my lack of assistant. Sigh.

1:28pm: B & G decide not to tell anyone they are doing IVF. Agree. First good decision.

1:29pm: G complains to her makeup artist and hair stylist that she has no assistant. Ah, the problems of the rich. Tragic. She gets, like, lots of emails in a day! Who can deal with that? WHO?

1:30pm: G is apparently going to spend as much time agonizing over assistant problem as fertility problems. Seems odd.

1:31pm: Back to RE's office. B & G see bags of fertility meds. Remember box that arrived in mail full of own meds and also remember feeling bit overwhelmed. Sympathize with B & G. Nurse patiently tries to explain schedule when - surprise! - B realizes Massive Scheduling Problem Ahead. (Didn't see that coming at all.) B is concerned about making a living. Suspect that B's definition of "making a living" differs slightly from self's.

1:31pm: G tries to explain OHSS. Sigh.

1:32pm: B & G argue in front of nurse about scheduling problems. G thinks maybe B is not ready for a baby. Nurse looks like she wishes she was anyplace else at this point. Me too, lady.

1:33pm: Nurse suggests B & G should talk to each other. Suspect nurse does not know that B & G are only allowed to talk in front of cameras. Apparently.

1:34pm: Dramatic Pensive Music suggests Important Marital Conversation Ahead. Yep. G wants to make sure that B definitely wants baby. G tries to explain how she feels. Completely understand how overwhelming it all is, but have distinct sense that G is performing Important Conversation for the cameras. Awkward.

1:35pm: G says she could "deal with this if" she was "just sitting on the couch all day," but she is trying to do IVF while "trying to juggle a marriage, travel, and holding down a job." Yeah. That's pretty much what all freaking women do for IVF, G. Get a grip.

1:36pm: Happy Emotional Music suggests marital reconciliation. Yep. That was quick.

1:37pm: back to E! offices. G must now have assistant, especially because she is starting IVF. Could have used assistant during IVF too. Or, today.

1:38pm: G meets potential assistant Sara. Generic Blonde Girl will now replace Generic Gay Assistant. Generic Blonde Girl is very excited.

1:39pm: back to doctor's office for egg retrieval. (Retrieval: correct word! Yay!) G hints at "lots of shots," but am disappointed that none of the stimulation phase was shown. Don't blame B & G for privacy desires, but lack of detail gives pretty vague impression of IVF procedures.

1:40pm: G is freaked out by getting IV. Would make fun of her, except that self was also semi-freaked out by same thing. Glass house = no stones.

1:41pm: G goes in for egg retrieval. B is very confident. In front of cameras, anyway.

1:42pm: Doctor is happy with 8 eggs. Happy for them: self had similar numbers. Not high, but not terrible. G is really wiped out by anesthesia. How much did they give her, anyway?

1:44pm: G is still wiped out. Achy and crampy. Sorry, G: pretty normal. Bummer, though. Realize self is lucky, as never had any major side effects from retrieval. Also suspect G just might be playing up symptoms for Dramatic Reality Show Moment. Maybe.

1:45pm: G & B are waiting for update from doctor. Remember similar wait. Sucks. B & G discuss her bowel movements. Suddenly wish self was deaf for short moment.

1:46pm: Doctor calls. 5 eggs have fertilized. 80% chance of day 5 transfer. (Transfer! Right word! Hooray!)

1:47pm: B must deal with Yet More Massive Scheduling Problems. Think B & G believe no one else has Massive Scheduling Problems in their lives. DRAMA.

1:48pm: G "cannot believe" that B will not be here for her whole bed rest. (How long is she on bed rest, anyway?) B now thinks they should call G's mom so she can come out and stay with her. G is now Super Mad because she has to call her mom and explain IVF and, somehow, manage to stay in bed for several days without her husband. How on earth do people do this? HOW?

1:51pm: G explains IVF to her mom. In Italian. Her mom has never heard of IVF. G thinks Italians don't have IVF. Suspect Italian health system would not be happy to hear this. Also suspect Italian RE's have better things to do than watch this show.

1:53pm: G admits she was embarrassed to tell her parents about IVF because she has super fertile family. Can sympathize with that.

1:54pm: B & G in for 5-day transfer. B gets to wear scrubs. Husband did not wear scrubs for transfer. Staged for TV? Perhaps.

1:55pm: Must now decide how many to "implant" (AAAAARGH) into G. Suspect they should have had this conversation earlier. Doctor suggests putting back 2. Doctor emphasizes that anything more than twins is dangerous. Appreciate that show is demonstrating how IVF does not lead to high order multiple births.

1:56pm: Transfer complete. Flashing back to own transfer procedure. Such a cool day. Feel happy for G & B. (Also remember being splayed in stirrups with giant medical spotlight on hoo-ha. Less cool.)

1:58pm: G is now in bed. She has cramps. Nope: gas. B would rather have twins. G can't decide between boys and girls. B promises to love her even if she gets fat. Which, am guessing, G would define as gaining about 2 pounds from her current weight.

Love the lovely DVR. No commercial watching needed.

2:00pm: G is making Important Entertainment Industry phone calls while laying down. On counter. Okay.

2:01pm: B is at Important Speaking Engagement at Ball State University. (Side note: have you noticed that, in Jack in the Box commercial with dad Jack talking to kid Jack at baseball game, dad Jack is wearing sweatshirt from Ball State? Get it? Because he has the big ball head? I think it's cute.)

2:02pm: G makes her elderly Italian mother carry her to bed. Think G might be taking "bed rest" a little too seriously.

2:03pm: B speaks about power of positive thinking. Coincidence? Certainly not!

2:03pm: G says goodbye to her mom. Then she goes to bookstore to get baby name books. Feel a little protective of G: understand positive thinking (see? Like Bill's speech! Crazy!), but worry about counting chickens before they hatch. Or implant.

2:04pm: Baby name discussion. Suspect B & G will choose name which will horrify self. Oh well.

2:06pm: 2 weeks later. Doctor's office. B & G are there for test results. (Apparently phone call would not be dramatic enough for show.) G thinks she is "preggers." All sympathy for G has evaporated with use of stupid word.

2:07pm: Doctor says the two weeks of waiting are the hardest part. Dude, you are right on. But good news: G is pregnant! Yay!

(However, have read in People magazine that G had miscarriage. So am also sad.)

Clips from upcoming show confirm that bad things are coming for B & G.

Here's the thing: as irritating as this show is, as much as it may make people think that IVF is for spoiled rich people who can't manage to be in the same city for more than three days at a time - it's also the only show with a real(ish) couple dealing with infertility. Will probably keep watching. And, honestly, cheering them on.

Monday, October 11, 2010

by the numbers

I. am. tired. While I'm working up to my due date, this is my last week of appointments - and it's crammed full. And only Monday. Hmmm.

So, because I do not have the brain power for a post of full sentences with good grammar and spelling and...all that stuff, here are some of the significant numbers in my life lately:

  • Doctor's best guess today at baby's weight: 8 1/2 pounds (yikes)
  • My weight gain so far: 30 pounds
  • Baby shower thank you notes written: 100 (it's a long story. 3 showers. one given by 80+ people at church.)
  • Baby shower thank you notes yet to be written: about 30
  • Times I have walked into a room lately and forgotten what I'm doing there: 8
  • Number of pieces in the baby swing we tried to assemble tonight: 12
  • Number of swear words uttered during said assembly: 2 (pretty good, I thought)
  • Actual ankles left on my body: 0
  • Strangers who have asked me my due date lately: 5
  • Number of days left until due date: 16
  • Pieces of apple pie consumed in the last 3 days: numerous.
  • Number of baby feet currently stuck in my right rib: 1
  • Times I got up to pee last night: 2 (low! yay!)
  • Pieces of food I spill onto my belly on a daily basis: lost track.
Time for bed, I think. I will try to come up with something more scintillating tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

backseat driver

We did it last night: we put the carseat in the backseat of my car.

I almost rear-ended a woman this morning while I was driving to work, because I was so distracted by looking at the actual baby carseat in my actual car which will soon have an actual baby in it.

I'm guessing this is not why they tell you to put the carseat in early, but it is a handy side effect. Hopefully, by the time this baby arrives, I will have adjusted to the 'actual baby carseat' factor and will be, therefore, less likely to harm said baby by being so distracted that I get into an accident.

Also, in the realm of "wow, this is getting more real," I had my first cervix check yesterday. My sister-in-law had warned me that it was really, really uncomfortable, and that she had elected not even to bother with those checks until later because you can walk around several centimeters dilated for weeks without going into labor, but I went ahead with it. Mostly out of curiosity. Don't get me wrong - it wasn't the kind of thing I would want to do every day, but if you've been through years of fertility testing and treatments, this was a lot less invasive than many other things you've done with your hoo-ha.

Sometimes, like when I was laying on the exam table yesterday while the doctor was doing that check, I feel like infertility has prepared me for parenthood in some really good ways. Like knowing that you can't control everything. (Or, anything.) And knowing that you can survive physical (and emotional) pain. And dealing with disappointment along the way. And remembering that, in spite of the discomfort and inconvenience and ouch get your finger out of there, this whole journey is an immense and unbelievable privilege.

And sometimes, I think that infertility has left me permanently unable to believe that this child is real and that I am going to be a parent in a very short time. If I do rear-end somebody, I think my insurance should file it under 'infertility expense.'

It's almost like infertility has made me a backseat driver in my own life, waiting for things to happen, always one step behind because I don't want to make any assumptions, always imagining the worst - never being able to trust the driver fully - because you don't want to count your chickens before they're hatched, or dilated, or whatever. And now, right next to me in the backseat, after all these years, is a carseat. Takes a little getting used to.

Apologies in advance if I rear-end you while I'm working on it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

and so it goes

35 weeks, 5 days.

4 weeks, 2 days to go until the due date. Actual baby arrival? Who knows.

I am entering a new phase. I think of it as, "grateful yet cranky." I've actually been fairly surprised at how non-overly-emotional I've been over the past eight months (really, I am not making this up) - but that's come to a crashing halt. I enter into evidence last night's meeting, which was a little frustrating and would have, under normal circumstances, cost me about five minutes of venting in the car on the way home - but which, instead, caused me to drive home crying, arrive home and try to explain to my husband why I was crying, assuring him that it wasn't really that big of a deal in spite of my sobbing, and then go to bed exhausted by my own emotional reaction.

Also, I watched Steel Magnolias yesterday afternoon. Maybe not the best choice.

It's been unseasonably warm and humid here lately, which hasn't helped. And I've been working a lot of evenings, which are not my best time. It will get better, starting this week, but I'm tired.

I think about all the times I saw a pregnant woman who looked tired and heavy and just done with it all, and how I wanted to rush up to her and say, "don't you know how lucky you are? Don't you know how much I want to be you?" I wasn't wrong, then. I did want this, more than anything in the world. And I do remember that, even on the days when October 28th seems like an eternity away.

But there's a reason your body starts to rebel at the end of pregnancy; you've got to be motivated to get this kid OUT OUT OUT, and even the deepest gratitude for being pregnant doesn't mean you want to stay that way forever.

Several years ago, I found this poem based on the biblical story of Jonah. I used to read it when I was in the two-week-wait, being tortured by visions of home pregnancy tests. This wait is very different. But the poem still works. (And not just because I look like a whale.)

Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale

Measure the walls. Count the ribs. Notch the long days.
Look up for blue sky through the spout. Make small fires
with the broken hulls of fishing boats. Practice smoke
Call old friends, and listen for echoes of distant voices.
Organize your calendar. Dream of the beach. Look each
way for the dim glow of light. Work on your reports.
Review each of your life's ten million choices. Endure
moments of self-loathing. Find the evidence of those
before you. Destroy it. Try to be very quiet, and listen for
the sound of gears and moving water. Listen for the sound
of your heart.
Be thankful that you are here, swallowed with all hope,
where you can rest and wait. Be nostalgic. Think of all
the things you did and could have done. Remember
treading water in the center of the still night sea, your
toes pointing again and again down, down into the black

Dan Albergotti

Be thankful that you are here, swallowed with all hope, where you can rest and wait. A good mantra for the next month.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I have always been someone who does better with anticipation than actuality. I love the weeks building up to Christmas, but if I'm not careful, I can look forward to the big day so much that it's kind of a letdown when it comes. It's almost never about things I anticipate receiving, by the way: it's much more likely to be about a gift I'm so excited to give that, when the person receiving it has anything less than a "OHMYGOD THIS GIFT WILL CHANGE MY LIFE" reaction, I feel a little deflated.

This has me a little concerned about parenthood.

When I got engaged, there were lots of people who wanted to give me advice about marriage. Mostly, they felt the need to say something about how much work marriage is - as if that had never occurred to me before. There's never a way to know what something is like until you do it for yourself, of course, but I always felt those comments were overly patronizing. I was, after all, 31 years old. I counsel couples going into marriage and couples who are married and couples who are thinking about not being married anymore, so I had some experience with the "it's a lot of work" theory. But people had a big need to share this.

About a year later, a friend of mine asked me if marriage was what I expected. "Mostly," I said, "but nobody ever told me how much fun it was." "What?" she asked. "Well," I replied, "a lot of people told me that marriage was a lot of work, but nobody said anything about it being fun. Which it also is." "Oh," she said, "I'm so sorry - somebody should have said that too."

I've been doing a lot of thinking about how much work parenting is. Long nights and lack of sleep. Years of worry and anxiety. Decisions to be made which feel monumental (this has been particularly on my mind, having visited a potential daycare yesterday). 24-7-365 responsibility for the life and well-being of another person. Oh, and having to squeeze said person out of your body.

It seems like most of what people are telling me about parenthood - well-meant as it is - is along the same lines as their marriage advice: "it's a lot of work." And I know this, insofar as it's possible to know something as monumental as parenthood before you do it for yourself. Maybe a lot of people felt blindsided by that realization and they don't want me to experience that shock. Maybe there are lots of people who really felt like parenthood would be a walk in the park and now they feel obligated to inform the general public that this is not, in fact, the case.

Maybe I'm overreacting to my general tendency to over-anticipate things by focusing on how much work it will be. Maybe I'm turning into freaking Woody Allen with my neurosis over this.

Maybe I'm protecting myself by imagining the worst all the time, as if imagining those things will make them not happen, or somehow prepare me in advance, when in fact all it does is give me heartburn.

Every once in awhile, someone who talks to me about parenthood says what a great thing it is, that yes, it's a lot of work, but it's also wonderful. I suppose all I really want to do today is give thanks for those people. I have no problem imagining the worst, the work, and the worry. But if you can remind me of the good stuff? I'm really going to need you around in the next month. And thanks.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

how it is

Yes, in my world, it is perfectly appropriate and not at all an indication of pregnancy-overwhelmed-emotion to:

1. Cheer yourself up, after heaving up your breakfast yet again, by promising yourself you can stop at Starb.ucks for a double tall decaf latte and a pumpkin scone.

2. Get slightly irritated by the fact that other people have dared to show up at your neighborhood Starb.ucks, taking almost all the parking in the very small lot and making the drive-through option unbearably long.


4. Nearly burst into tears when the barista can't find a single other pumpkin scone in the store, even though there was a stack of them boxed in the corner (turns out those were yesterday's) (bastards).

5. Drive to a Starb.ucks three blocks away for the sole purpose of a pumpkin scone which, fortunately for all involved, they had.

6. And therefore, be 30 minutes later to work than normal.

This is all perfectly okay. In case you were wondering.

Friday, September 10, 2010

on gratitude

It occurs to me, after re-reading a few of my latest blog posts, that I sound rather cranky lately.

To some extent, I am. I don't think there's much you can do about the fact that the last weeks of pregnancy are, unavoidably, uncomfortable. I don't sleep much, between the getting-up-to-pee and the hips-aching-from-side-sleeping phenomenon. (In general, I eagerly look forward to the day when I don't have the urge to pee all the time.) I feel short of breath pretty often. The BH contractions are more frequent - not enough to worry about, but they worry me anyway. The morning vomiting is not my favorite thing.

But there is something much deeper than all the temporary discomfort, and I doubt I've made that clear enough lately, both here and within myself: that I am grateful. My eagerness to finish this pregnancy is motivated somewhat by the discomfort, but much, much more by hardly being able to wait to meet this baby. And there are a million times during the day when I have to pinch myself (metaphorically) to believe that such a thing is actually happening to me, to us.

Six weeks, six days until the due date. Maybe we'll meet you earlier, maybe later. But after all these months - which seem both like the longest and the quickest months of my life - you are still real. You are still kicking and hiccuping, in spite of all my anxiety and doomsday fears. Sometimes I can hardly think about the day you will arrive, not because I'm afraid of it (well, I am, a little bit) but because the whole idea of that day fills me with such joy that I think I might burst into a million pieces just imagining it.

You know how, when you try to imagine that the universe goes on and on forever and ever, how your brain just stops at a certain point because you can't envision something so expansive? I wonder if that's why I focus so much on the discomfort of right now: because that's manageable, most of the time, and small enough to be real. Whereas this child is such a big dream, has been so unattainable for so long, that my brain just shuts off when I try to think about really being a parent.

There's fear there, for sure. I still imagine things that can go wrong, that do go wrong. And fear can make you cranky. But, bit by bit, it's being swallowed by something else. I think it's joy. And gratitude.

That's all. I just wanted to make sure you know that. And remind myself, while I'm at it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

take your advice and...

Advice. The bane of every pregnant woman's existence. (I know new dads get it too, but they can hide under the radar better. The big belly thing just gives you away.)

I was prepared for getting lots of advice, because I've heard from numerous friends that this happens during pregnancy. It's a given: you get pregnant, you probably get nauseous, you'll crave something weird, and you'll get more advice than you ever wanted in your life. And they were right. I assumed I would get an extra dose of it, being in a relatively public profession. And I was right.

The people who surprise me the most with advice are the new moms. The other night, we were having dinner at my parents' house and my brother and sister-in-law were there - the parents of the seven-week old. (Who is still unbelievably adorable, by the way.) My sister-in-law - who, admittedly, has always tended a little toward the arrogant in terms of knowing better - started talking about a co-worker who is 34 weeks pregnant. "She was so excited about being at the end of her pregnancy," said my sister-in-law, "and I just wanted to tell her, 'this could go on even longer than you think, so don't get so excited.' I mean, she acts like the baby is coming right on the due date, and she just has no idea what she's talking about."

Okay. Said sister-in-law did, in fact, deliver one week late. But come on. Just a few months ago, that was you, 34 weeks pregnant, and saying - and yes, I do remember this - pretty much exactly the same freaking thing. Don't you remember getting into the single-digit weeks-left-to-wait phase? It's exciting! Because it is getting closer. It finally feels like you're getting to the end. Your co-worker is not an idiot. (And neither am I, given that I had just been talking about being glad we were getting closer to the end.) News flash: that due date is all you have to work with. I don't know a single pregnant woman who thinks her baby will magically appear on that date, but it's the date you've got. So you get excited about it. Of course.

Can you tell that I was a little irritated? I blame the hormones.

I've gotten advice about breastfeeding (do it, but it's hard, it's unbelievably hard, or, it's easy, it's great, no problems); about daycare (get a nanny, do home childcare, never do anything but a childcare center); about visitors (don't let anyone near you for the first week, welcome anybody to your house anytime, you'll need the help); about carseats (get this one, it rocks back and forth, that other one (for which I am registered) is pointless); about birth (natural childbirth is the only way to go, get an epidural, it's the best thing since sliced bread); about being ready (you never feel ready, give it up, you can definitely be prepared, read all the books); about nursing bras (don't spend too much, just get it at Tar.get, spend a ton, it will totally be worth it); and about weight gain (wow, you're huge; wow, you're tiny!)

Okay, that last one is filed less under 'advice' and more under 'totally inappropriate commentary' which, by the way, is the other thing you get a ton of during pregnancy.







Keep it to yourself.

But, in a twist of irony, I do have some advice for the general public, new moms included, on speaking with and to pregnant women. Here it is:

1. Comments on the pregnant woman's size (big, small, waddling, tiny, any similarities to large mammals or houses) is not appropriate. Ever. Even if you think you are offering a compliment. Just shut up.

2. Pregnant women do not want to hear about your birth experience. Bad stories freak us out. Good stories feel like you're rubbing it in.

3. Nauseous pregnant women do not want to hear about how you never had morning sickness during your pregnancy. Nor do they want to hear about how your morning sickness lasted all 40 weeks. SHUT. UP.

4. Remember that your 'one piece of advice' is probably joining 55 other people's 'one piece of advice' for the day. Keep it to yourself.

5. Stop staring at the stomach. My eyes still work.


7. Yes, we sit down a lot toward the end. You did too. No need to mention it every fifteen seconds.

8. Saying, "you look tired," is not helpful. What it sounds like is, "you look like crap."

9. We are still capable of discussing things other than childbirth, pregnancy, and babies. Like, for example, national politics, the war in Afghanistan, hurricanes, that movie you saw the other night - really. Anything. Anything other than being pregnant. We would welcome a change of subject. Really.

10. Yes, we are kind of cranky. It's partly the hormones. And also, we are kind of scared. But we don't like to admit it. Go gently.

Of course, you're welcome to take my advice and...

well, you get it.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

here we go again

Well, it was a nice 3 weeks without throwing up. And sadly, those three weeks have come to a crashing halt.

Somewhere in my reading lately, I did come across a sentence which said something like, "for some women, nausea returns in the third trimester," but I stuffed that little piece of information WAY down inside my head because surely, SURELY, the universe would not be so unkind as to inflict yet more nausea upon me when I just got over 22 weeks of it.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Very funny, universe.

Actually, it's not precisely "nausea" this time around. It's more like, "overactive gag reflex which kicks in immediately after getting out of the shower. Every morning." I don't feel queasy at all (which adds to the list of "things I have learned while being pregnant: 1. you can be nauseous and never throw up; 2. you can throw up without being nauseous). Fortunately, it's only in the morning, and I'm a vomiting pro at this point, so I don't think it's worth going back on the zo.fran - which, after all, caused the terrible constipation and then the dreaded hemmrho....yeah. We're not doing that again.

Baby, meanwhile, is happily kicking and hiccuping away. Seriously: this kid has the hiccups multiple times daily. It makes me giggle.

And we are finally at the point where I can say, "this baby is coming next month." "Next month." Incredible.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

birth class

I had a minor meltdown on Saturday afternoon.

It happened after our second and final childbirth class - the one where they give you the hospital tour and talk about pain medication options and then explain what will happen post-partum, which is the part I was really interested in and I think also what put me over the edge.

The meltdown started internally, in class, but I kept it inside. I think it was primarily a "we have been here for four and a half hours and this chair is SUPER uncomfortable at this point and I have to pee and IT IS JUST TIME TO GO RIGHT NOW." I looked over at my husband, who was clearly no longer paying attention (admittedly, it was during the post-partum bit, which is naturally more interesting to me than to him, plus he has a hard time dealing with blood (I know, I know, labor, we'll figure it out) and sometimes his way of coping is to zone out and think about golf, or steaks, or something). So, naturally, I started by getting slightly pissed at him for not paying attention to this very crucial part of class filled with information he absolutely needs to know, even though I myself was barely able to get any more stuff into my head at that point.

Pregnancy: not the greatest friend to logic.

Anyway, I could feel myself wavering between, "WHAT is wrong with him?" and, "dude, I can't take any more either," and I think my brain just started to shut down. Trust me, I've thought before about what labor is going to be like, but there's nothing like six videos and a long discussion about peri bottles (take the class, I'm not explaining it to you) to make you realize that OHMYGOD I am going to have to push this actual baby out of my actual hoo-ha and that is going to HURT and it is happening real soon and there is no way of getting out of it oh shit.

Hence, meltdown. Mostly, I took a nap. I think my brain just needed to reset, like turning off your computer and then turning it back on, which fixes about 90% of the things I do to screw up my computer. And it worked pretty well. I cried for about 10 minutes when I first hit the pillow - not so much from fear (okay, a little fear) but mostly from information overload. Over the past few days, I've been able to take the class apart in my head and digest the information piece by piece, and it feels much better.

I'm glad we took the class. I feel more prepared. I know I can do this. I know I have a great hospital and great medical people to help me.

But there are a lot of unknowns out there. And it feels like they're rushing up to meet me awfully quickly these days. Because it's not just the unknowns of giving birth - how much will it hurt? how long will it take? what will it be like? - it's that those unknowns are just the beginning of a lifetime of unknowns, and they only get bigger from here.

Dear God,

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

urination fascination

I'm just saying that, when you feel like you have to go to the bathroom about 75% of the time and you finally give in to the temptation and practically RUN to the nearest bathroom because it feels as if you do not pee RIGHT FREAKING NOW your bladder will explode,

it would be nice if you were rewarded with more than a thimble-full of urine.

That is all. Carry on.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

because I'm too lazy for anything but a bullet list

Last week:
  • Saturday, childbirth class. Yes, we were the oldest couple there (although not by quite as much as I feared). Out of 13 couples, only two of us didn't know the gender of the baby. It was not bad - my husband wasn't overly enthusiastic about a 4 1/2 hour Saturday commitment (and next week too), but he admitted afterward that it was pretty helpful. "You know," he said while we were watching TV that night, "the whole birth process is pretty amazing."
  • Baby shower last Saturday was great fun - still slightly unbelievable, but fun - and I had fun today putting away lots of cute things. I did a load of baby clothes in the laundry. If laundry can be described as "surreal," that load certainly was. Actual baby clothes are now being put away in the nursery. Weird. And wonderful.
  • The highlight of said baby shower was the assistance of two four-year old girls who opened the packages for me. Almost every package involved tissue paper of some kind. And each time we opened something, one of the girls in particular would say with excited awe, as if she had never seen such glorious stuff before, "TISSUE PAPER!" Every. Time. It was awesome.
  • I made it through three church services today, with lots of sitting down. It wasn't as bad as I thought. And no BH contractions all morning. Cheers to that.
  • It's starting to feel less like "kicking" in there and more like, "I'm running out of room in here and I need to stretch and I especially need to stretch by pushing against your bladder on a regular basis." Considering that we still have 9 weeks to go, "running out of room" is a little disturbing...
  • I made it through a 2 1/2 hour movie in the theatre on Friday night without going to the bathroom even once. Amazing. (Mostly because it was Inception and I was afraid that even a 2-minute bathroom break would completely shatter my tenuous hold on the plot.)
  • I had a very small glass of wine on Tuesday night with dinner. It tasted delicious. Take that, pregnancy police. (Also: if you have not had a glass of wine in 8 months, it doesn't take much to give you a buzz. Good to know.)
And last, my brother and his wife, and our family, are doing much better about their son's diagnosis. Thank you so much for all your good wishes and kindness, and especially to whomever posted the news to LFCA.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


The train whistle.
The marching band practicing at the high school down the street.
The whisper of the ceiling fan.
The dog barking.
His cousin asking for another piece of cake.
His mother's voice.
His father singing.

These are things my nephew, 4 weeks old, cannot hear.

Today, my brother and his wife were told that their adorable, wonderful, otherwise-perfectly-healthy son is nearly deaf. "Profound hearing loss in both ears," is what the doctor actually said. I'm not sure exactly what that means, but it's certainly not good.

He will likely be a candidate for cochlear implants, and he will have a very good life. He will be able to hear some things, eventually.

There are far worse things in life. We know this. On the other hand, there are better things too.

Sometimes you forget how fragile life is. Infertility teaches you this, and pregnancy does too, but most of the time you can only manage by ignoring this fact, because if you let it all the way into your heart, you will break into a thousand tiny pieces.

And then you begin the work of putting the pieces back together, one at a time. That's where we are today.

Monday, August 16, 2010

4 out of 5 dentists didn't see that coming

The other day, my work colleague reminded me that I should just ask if I needed any help. By which he means that there are people who will help me with worship on Sundays if standing up for six hours straight is just too much (and, let's face it; it is).

Part of me thinks this is very kind and compassionate. I have a very supportive workplace for pregnancy and kids, and that's no small thing.

But because I'm in a mostly male profession, I've always steered clear of anything which would mark me as 'different.' I don't like 'girly' robes, stoles, or other liturgical gear. I never wear dangly earrings on Sundays. Don't get me wrong: I love shoes and my mostly-discount-store (how do I love thee, TJ Ma.xx? Let me count the ways) wardrobe is pretty fierce for a pastor, but I just want to be a pastor. I don't want to be "the girl pastor."

But when the girl pastor gets pregnant, it's pretty clear that she's a girl. And she may need to ask for a little help, in spite of her overabundant pride.

This was made clear to me at the dentist's office on Monday. I was just there for a routine teeth cleaning; no big deal. About 10 weeks ago, at my regular OB appointment, I asked about something I had read in one of my many "everything you need to know about pregnancy plus some stuff that will scare the shit out of you" books: namely, that after about 20 weeks, you were not supposed to lay flat on your back anymore. Apparently there is some kind of large artery running down your whole body, and when the baby lays on it, you get short of breath and lightheaded.

This was pretty depressing to me, because, at the time, lying flat on my back was about the only way I could sleep, but after visions of dying in the night while gasping for air only to have my poor husband wake to his dead wife (and he would only wake up because he realized I had not gotten up the requisite 15 times that night to pee), I decided to check with the doctor. Sadly, she confirmed this advice. Lying on my side was recommended.

Frankly, I never really believed it. I obediently slept on my side, to the detriment of my hips, but I never really bought into the whole "you'll get lightheaded if you sleep on your back" theory.

Until I went to the dentist.

I had to sit up five times during the teeth cleaning, because I keep feeling like I was going to pass out. It. Was. Humiliating. The hygienist was unfailingly nice about it, but seriously: who knew? I laid there, getting clammy and lightheaded and watching the blackness close around my eyes while the mint toothpaste churned in my mouth, until I finally had to admit it: I need help. I need to sit up. I am a girl, and I am pregnant, and apparently, I cannot fake "I'm fine! It's all fine! It's no big deal!" any longer.

Sigh. Yet another blow to the pride. Right in the incisors.

Friday, August 6, 2010

nursery update

Given that today's 'baby status update' says, "baby is preparing to see the world after birth," I thought I'd post some photos of what baby actually will see...eventually.

The nursery is coming along fairly well. After a little bit of drama ordering the ottoman for the glider (which the salesperson thought was discontinued until they finally figured out that was not the case), most of the major pieces are in place. I'm loving the wall mural, which I found at; super cute. Like most things, it's hard to find murals which are gender-neutral and not-too-theme-y. (That's the other question I get a lot after, "is it a boy or a girl?" "What's the nursery theme?" "NO THEME," I say.)

The bookshelves should arrive this week, and the glider a few weeks after that. (Side note: I hate gliders. HATE them. Hate the look, anyway. They're like the mini-vans of chairs. I swore never to get one, until I sat in the super-cute gliding stuffed chairs from Pottery Barn which turned out to be hideously uncomfortable. Normally, I will put up with some suffering for appearance's sake - hence the purchase of several pairs of darling but pinch-y shoes. But, this time, I decided that comfort had to win out. So, glider it is. Sigh.)

The framed wall art is from - such a fun place to shop. For now, the bassinet is in this room, although it will end up in ours once the baby comes - it was a $35 find at the consignment shop yesterday. Between online merchants, craig.slist, and consignment shops, this nursery has been pretty inexpensive to put together.

Some days, I walk into this room and can hardly believe this is real. That a baby will come and live here. That I will end up in that glider some night practically crying with exhaustion but, I hope, also remembering the miracle it took to get me there. That someday, this baby will grow up and want me to take the cute alphabet off the wall because "it's for little kids."

Here I am, already resigning myself to my child growing up too quickly, while said child is still kicking me in the bladder. I blame the pregnancy hormones.