Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry X-Mas, and bring your bucket!

Your Dad and I don't have the greatest track record with holidays. New Year's 2007 saw your Dad sitting on the couch, puttering around on his laptop, while I alternately moaned on the couch and sprinted up the stairs to the bathroom to purge the tainted guacamole that had come on my New Year's dinner taco salad. He had some kind of major respiratory infection on his birthday in 2006, 2007, and 2008, as well as a good number of previous years. My birthday is generally safe for personal health, but it is typically rife with personal tragedy (for example, getting the diagnosis about your heart literally three days before my birthday this past year). Valentine's Day is pretty much an annual reflection on our shared poverty, though we do typically do something nice for dinner, and we basically ignore St. Patrick's Day. Halloween is inconsistent, as some years we have really fun plans and others are just massively disappointing. The Jewish holidays are safe, since we don't really do anything about them, and we've safely relegated Easter to just being a large and delicious dinner with egg-themed decor at the in-laws' house. Christmas has stood alone as the one substantial holiday we celebrate that hasn't been tainted by poor health, disaster, angst, or ennui...until this year.

Batman, two of my biggest preoccupations since I knew you were coming have been been eating and drinking enough. I was so sick during the first trimester that just eating - at all - was a major accomplishment, so I didn't put too much focus on eating specific things, like vegetable or complementary proteins. During the second trimester, my interest in food was massively inconsistent, so I continued to just eat whatever sounded even vaguely interesting at the time. Drinking enough, throughout all this time, was still dicey; if I had too much in my stomach at one time, I got sick, and water just took up space, so I often prioritized food. Even now, I still get majorly nauseous when I have too much liquid in my system. I know I haven't gotten enough to drink at any point. Christmas, this past weekend, saw the perfect storm of all my prenatal fears coming to a head at once.

Thursday night was your Dad's mother's birthday. In a rare display of throwing her dietary caution to the wind, she requested that we order in pizza and a salad from a generally excellent local joint. (Oh, cheese pizza. I never get just plain cheese pizza, but it is so damn good.) In hindsight, I should have trusted my mild skepticism about the freshness of the salad, since less than twenty-four hours after we ate it, both of your Dad's parents, he, and I were all violently ill. I won't go into details, but let's just say that things were very ugly, and that your Dad and I will never buy a house with less than two concurrently accessible toilets. Neither of us slept the night the sickness set in, so we spent the next day drifting between consciousness and...um...expulsion.

A simultaneously comforting and awful part of this whole experience was the sheer volume of Braxton-Hicks contractions I experienced during the duration. There was a point mid-Saturday afternoon when I seriously considered the merits of dragging my sorry ass off the couch to put together a bag to bring to the hospital. I even began to panic about the fact that we don't have the car seat bases installed in the cars yet, and the fact that we don't have nearly enough socks, or ANY little caps, or nearly enough receiving blankets...and we still haven't washed all the clothes we do have...and we still need to hang up art in our bedroom so it isn't taking up otherwise needed storage space...and AAGH! I never had a fever, but some combination of starvation, dehydration, and sleep deprivation threw me into a paranoid state that made our lack of sufficient sock supply seem disproportionately catastrophic to...well, everything else in the world. I was briefly so convinced that I was actually in labor that I started plotting out things like phone trees, the best place to park at the hospital, and who to call to check in on the cats...before dozing off again and realizing that none of the contractions were even vaguely consistent or strong enough to mean anything.

Let's just say that Christmas was not the merry and raucous time one typically hopes for it to be. We ate uncomplicated carbohydrates, sipped water and Sprite, and generally didn't move too much. It was still a lovely time, but even three days after the fact, I'm fighting to get back my appetite and energy level. When I went to a regular doctor's appointment this afternoon and explained my panic at starving and dehydrating you over the course of so many hours of just vomiting back up everything that went into my system, nurse and doctor alike shrugged it off, explaining that babies always take what they need from their mother whether she has it to give or not. Apparently my continued exhaustion is mostly because you're still happily sucking all my water and nutrients away. Of course, they're all yours, but dang...this is not a fun part of pregnancy.

In case you were curious, I didn't get that one particular thing that I was kind of flipping out over (only because the supplier was out of stock: you Dad's on the waiting list for when they get more, and he warned me in advance so I could manage my childish disappointment maturely), but we did end up not feeling like the holiday was focused on baby things, and we both got one another really thoughtful and lovely gifts. Oh, and it was a pleasant time spent with family, unfocused on consumeristic intent and all that jazz. Batman, I'm really excited to have you around for a holiday, but I am sort of terrified that we've broken the seal (so to speak) on Christmas being dangerous, so here's crossing our fingers that the only vomit that happens next year is something utterly benign coming out of you just because that happens sometimes with eleven-month-olds.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

There's some schmootz on my Batman. (A brief Carnival interlude.)

Okay, now I feel bad. Eating and drinking have become fairly dicey activities, as there is a very real chance - every damn time - that I will get some of whatever I am attempting to consume on you. It doesn't even need to be food. Today's grand total of "stuff on my Batman" includes powdered make-up, some coffee, pen ink, and something dusty and dark that might have been white board marker. This is apparently why women typically wear either heavily patterned or very loose, flowey clothes while pregnant; one way or another, such things conceal the inevitable drips, dribbles, and smears.

As I sat in Dr. Fuckhead's waiting room this afternoon, I realized that the scarf I'd been wearing to hide the coffee stains was doing nothing to cover the smudge of pen ink dead-center on the front of my belly. Classy, no? All the other women in the waiting room were wearing heavy coats (it's finally gotten COLD, despite an ongoing lack of snow), so I couldn't see if they were in any state of slovenliness on par with mine, but I am going to reassure myself and say that they were surely only keeping their coats on because they were more covered with junk than I was. That's got to be it.

The Carnival was a little more populated this week than it has been since Thanksgiving; a whole six different family or individual units were already waiting, and a seventh walked in moments after I sat down. Three families had small children with them already, and in the grand tradition of families in Dr. Fuckhead's waiting room, two of those families were flagrantly and conspicuously being irresponsible about their children. One boy, who couldn't have been much older than a year, was climbing on every piece of furniture not already occupied by a human being; his giggles and chuffing were pretty adorable, but it was impossible to ignore the fact that he was continually splashing large quantities of water out of a paper cup that his parents kept allowing him to refill from the water bubbler...or rather, they were just ignoring him, so it kept happening. Many chairs, and most of the floor, were soaked. Another boy, somewhere around age three, was sprinting around in circles complaining that he needed to go to the bathroom. His parents were arguing over who was going to take him (he lost) for minutes...and minutes...to a point when I was deeply concerned that I was going to be witness to his bodily emissions.

My schmootziness, however, paled in comparison to that of the woman who entered the waiting room just before I was called. She looked like she had been rolling around on the floor of a pick-up truck used most often to transport large quantities of cat hair, cigarette butts, and the food that falls out of babies' mouths. I don't think pregnancy could be entirely to blame for her...er...state...of being...but after hearing her grunt something at the receptionist about needing to get called in quickly because "this kid is gonna make me piss again real soon if I don't get in there fast," I felt substantially better about my few drippy stains.

I'm left resigning myself to the fact that I will just have stuff on me for the next few weeks, but at least it's all accidental and generally not gross. A particularly hilarious problem that I'm growing accustomed to is my inability to wash my hands (or dishes, or anything else for that matter) without splashing water all over you. Batman, you are undoubtedly the cleanest - but sometimes messiest - unborn child on the planet.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Nosy Nellie has a strong opinion about projectile breast milk. (WTF?)

I had a horrifying conversation with two coworkers recently. This epitomized the very worst of "oh, sweet mother of cheese, how can people possibly think this is okay...and for the love of all that is holy, will I be one of these women someday?!?!?" My carpool buddy and I were about to walk out the door...her heading to some single-gal excitement with a new date, and me heading to yet another doctor's appointment...when these Nellies decided to launch into a heartfelt rant about the horrors of attempting to breastfeed while working.

First off, Batman, I'm sure the last thing you want to hear about is your mother's boobs, to say nothing of the long-since-dried-up teats of two older women who I work with, but this was just...incredible. I'm asked if I will be breastfeeding, and reply yes. I'm asked if I have a battle plan for how I will manage to pump and stay even remotely comfortable while at work after I come back from maternity leave. In all honesty, my plan is to just muckle down in some corner of the school with no windows and do my business whenever I possibly can. There will definitely be times when I have no recourse but to sprint to a bathroom, lock myself in there, and do what I need to, but I'm sure I can find a way to make it work somehow. After confirming that yes, I am committed to breastfeeding as long as I can, these Nellies start sharing their breastfeeding-at-work horror stories.

I won't get into the ugly details, but let's just say that I may never look at a breast the same way again. One story ended with an eye injury, another with a broken bra, and possibly the worst resulted in the teller wearing a winter coat all day in almost sixty degree weather. I'm confident that I won't actually explode, but according to these women, I should have at least three extra shirts, several extra bras, and ideally half a dozen heavy felt moving blankets on hand at all times to prevent or recover from embarrassing leakage.

I know that parenting - most specifically being the parent of a newborn - will lead to the genesis of some hideous and charmingly gross stories. There will be bodily fluid. There will be stains. There may even be permanent property damage: I know this. Then again, is it part and parcel of the whole parenting experience to want - nay, need - to share these experiences with any other prospective parent who wanders our way? I would like to think that I'll only share the really dreadful stuff with close friends (or alternately people who have legitimately earned a moment of sphincter-clenching terror), or that I'll wait until I'm asked to gush about...gushing...things...but I worry, Batman. Here's hoping that I can maintain at least a little bit of my restraint and common courtesy, despite the inevitably looming onslaught of gross stories that you will lovingly help me create.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's the most wonderful tiiiiiiime of the...er...fiscal year?

I'm going to do what I can to bludgeon the Grinchey attitude out of him before you're particularly aware that anything is amiss, but your Dad has a fairly nasty attitude towards the holiday season that I really can't hold against him. Some of this may stem from his working in the mall - and in retail in general - for too many holiday seasons, but I can absolutely attribute his disgruntlement with the holidays to a number of totally legitimate factors. In fact, even I have grown somewhat jaded about the notion of the "season" of jolliness, good cheer, and all that happy junk. Batman, it's really that ridiculous out in consumer land, but I'm still afraid I'm falling for it.

A few weekends ago, your Dad and I went to your Gramma's church fair. Now, okay, you might be asking yourself "WTF, Mom and Dad? What the everloving heck are you doing in a church?" This is an entirely fair question, especially at the one time of the year when those people who attend church painfully sporadically suddenly realize that they ever mean to do so. To answer you, we were in a church for mad sweet deals on potential holiday gifts (and crazy cheap baby clothes, but that's going to be a regular pursuit from now until you start to care about what you're wearing...and hopefully you'll get in on the fun long after that, too). Granted, I think we only actually got three gifts for the holidays. We also got a totally kick-ass ottoman for $3, a board game that we've been meaning to buy for years but haven't because it costs $30 normally (but not at a church fair: there your Dad has to demand to pay a full dollar instead of $.25 for it out of principle), a slew of clothes and shoes for you for $8, and a handful of church-lady-produced treats that seriously could have cost anything and I wouldn't have cared. Did you know that it's possible to make a Rice Krispie treat with butterscotch, peanut butter, and a layer of fudge in the middle? Well, yeah, of course you didn't, but let me be an awesome parent by making sure you know early on that such a marvel exists. 

What's so special about going to a church fair to peruse holiday gifts? Batman, this constituted a substantial quantity of our actual gift-shopping efforts this year. We're getting a goodly handful of items online (most of which at great discount or by using some kind of fancy deal), making a few things, having a friend make some pretty incredible artwork for us, and ultimately keeping our gift spending extremely focused on quality and personal meaning. This is pretty standard for us (convenient how not having a ton of money forces one to be especially thoughtful sometimes, huh?), but this year I've really been seeing some major contrast in our holiday shopping behavior as opposed to the status quo.

Consider the Saturday after Black Friday. Why your Dad and I decided to even go near the mall side of town on that day, I still don't entirely know. Maybe it was the fact that I had spent fifteen of the previous hours literally starving myself to do a glucose tolerance test, but then I don't know what your Dad's excuse was. Perhaps we really are just gluttons for punishment. In any case, for whatever reason, we ended up at a handful of big chain stores, as well as (horror of horrors) the mall. Did we purchase a single holiday gift? No. We were exchanging a few baby shower gifts that were either repeats or just not anything we really needed, and we were buying a few essential (and I legitimately mean essential) items. I think we were the only people in a substantial radius who weren't hemorrhaging money on stuff, junk, and things that no one really needs. 

Don't let all this suggest that we won't spoil you rotten when we have the ability to do so; if I have one completely against-my-normal-personal-standards thing to say about the holidays, it's that making them really special for kids must be a blast. That doesn't mean a barrage of crap, however. Both your Dad and I were lucky enough to have parents who, through a mixture of common sense and middle class-ed-ness, did a really solid job of making holidays special without making them absurd. I don't remember a single Hanukkah or Christmas when I got more than one "big" present, and I was never the kind of kid who wanted the trendy or expensive stuff. (Okay, there was that one time in college that I got really whiny about wanting an iPod, but that was only because your Uncle David had gotten one months earlier - not even for a holiday!) Growing up, your Dad never got anything too crazy for Christmas, even when he wanted something flashy...because his parents would just kill two birds with one stone and get the flashy thing as a joint present for him and your Uncle Cameron. Did either going with modestly priced, unique gifts or shared presents between siblings make the holidays any less special for either of us? Hell, no. Getting presents seriously wasn't the point.

Due to religious shifting, Christmas kind of went away from my family when I was about twelve. I won't lie: I really, really missed it, and it wasn't the presents. We still had Hanukkah which, if one is primarily considering gift economics, is a vastly superior holiday. Seven nights of small, fun presents and delicious family dinners followed by an eighth night with some kind of massive present? Uh, yeah. I'll take that over one morning of frantic gift-wrap shredding followed by a tryptophan-induced coma. Granted, the thrill of the one-shot giftstravaganza is pretty sweet...but why settle for one? In the long run, we're planning to do Hanukkah and Christmas with you, probably saving the "big present" for Christmas because...er...teacher salaries...but only really doing Christmas now means a whole other type of pressure.

Here's the REAL beauty of Hanukkah. Tonight, your Dad and I decided to attempt to balance out relatively shitty days at school by getting take-out sushi. Downtown Portland was SWARMING with consumers because of "Merry Madness," the annual holiday-themed extension of business hours in the shopping district. We had to get sushi from the slightly pricier place on the other side of town because we knew parking would be a disaster. Thanks, Christmas. For the last three weeks, we've had to sprint through grocery shopping (which is an activity we both LOVE) in order to avoid being steeped in crappy Christmas music. I swear to all that is holy, if I hear the "simply having a wonderful Christmastime" song one more time, I will beat someone to death with a cardboard holiday ham display. Nice job, Christmas. I needed a new body pillow, so we went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond...and we were nearly mowed down by some lady with a cart full of Yankee Candle crap. Christmas, I'm looking at you. What's the worse Hanukkah has done? Oh, right. Literally nothing. I love butter cookies, twinkly lights, fun ornaments, and eggnog...don't get me wrong...but even acknowledging to myself that we celebrate Christmas makes me feel immense pressure to BUY! CONSUME! and otherwise perform the dog and pony show of showing and receiving affection through the acquisition of stuff.

All my begrudging of consumerism aside, I have a confession. Since we've known you were coming, your Dad and I have seriously curtailed our spending on stuff for ourselves and each other. We've gotten essentials, to be sure, and we've continued to indulge responsibly in food that we love, but I don't think either of us have spent much of any money on anything that we didn't actually need. That includes birthday presents, a honeymoon, getting anything even vaguely substantial for each other as wedding gifts (which apparently everyone does nowadays), and now holiday gifts. We've set a limit way below what we normally spend, and I'll be honest...this all depresses the hell out of me and I just don't know why. Am I subconsciously picking up on your wonder and excitement at the season? Do I really care that much about material objects, and more specifically being given thoughtfully-selected material objects by the man I love? The worst part (and this makes me feel SUPER lame and stupid) is that I've gotten myself fixated on one particular thing that I really want, and I don't want it from anyone other than your Dad.

This is Radiant in Red Barbie all over again. When I was eight, all I wanted for Christmas was this one particular Barbie. I wasn't even one of those kids who was obsessed with Barbies; I just desperately wanted this one. It pained me. For months, I fixated on the possibility of getting her for Christmas, knowing that because her outfit was effectively festive in a Yule-like manner, I stood no chance of getting her for Hanukkah. Worse still, knowing that she could only be a Christmas gift meant that if I got her from anyone other than my Mom's parents (at whose house we celebrated the holiday), it would be a sham. The whole experience would be so cheapened that I wouldn't even want her anymore. Thankfully, pining for a toy that probably cost under $30 made for a strong possibility that I would get what I wanted, and the night before Christmas, I saw a distinctly Barbie-shaped box in a laundry basket of gifts that my Grandma hadn't put under the tree yet, and the next morning, my months of agonizing came to a satisfied end. I named her Ruby, and all was well with the world.

This year, I'm hung up on this one relatively small thing - that is still nearly the amount of money your Dad and I budgeted for one another - and I don't want it from anyone but him. If I hadn't gotten that Barbie when I was eight, I'm afraid I would have spent the entire rest of our holiday visit sulking in a corner ignoring all the other lovely and thoughtful gifts I'd been given. I might not have even wanted any of Grandma's mandarin orange Jello mold. This year, I know we'll be getting a ton of stuff for you - which is great, and from a practical angle, what we both need and want - but all the hype about having something truly special and personal just for me (as I write that, I can hear a condescendingly soothing female voice crooning the words over a soft-focus shot of a pile of gifts near a crackling fireplace) is leaving me feeling preemptively despondent that I'm just not in a position to be spoiled this year.

Damn it, Christmas. You're ruining Christmas again. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I am a rock. I am an iiiiiiiiiiiiiisland...?

Batman, I'm really starting to appreciate the idea of bonding with other future moms at birthing classes or something of that sort, because there is clearly information I am not getting. For one thing, I have apparently been having Braxton-Hicks contractions for close to three weeks now. This is totally normal, arguably a good sign, and really not any sort of big deal, but because I didn't have other women around to tell me "uh, yeah, that's totally what it means when you feel really full and crampy all of a sudden and nothing makes it better except breathing through it, sometimes moving around, and maybe eating something...or not." Here I was with my fingers crossed that I wasn't experiencing some gastric cataclysm every few afternoons, assuming that if something was REALLY wrong, that I would probably have more symptoms than just needing to pee kind of badly and being vaguely nauseous. Talking with a doctor today, I learned that yes, those were in fact completely normal, safe contractions that I have no need to worry about unless they are accompanied by something substantially scarier (gushing or oozing of some kind, or the kind of pain that I wouldn't try to shake off with some yoga or Tylenol, or worse). Why did I not know that before now?

Having weekly ultrasounds to check on your growth and movement, roughly biweekly appointments with the cardiologist to make sure your heart is holding steady, and a general focus on your well-being has definitely set me up for the kind of attention I'll be giving you as a parent. You are the center of the universe, but getting thrown head-first into this lifestyle before you even show up is teaching me a valuable lesson. When I had to leave the gloriously crunchy-granola midwife practice that I loved so much, I basically abandoned any control over or even input into the processes of pregnancy or birth as far as I was concerned. I became a vehicle (perhaps an armored tank?) to convey you through your process of growing, getting stronger, and eventually getting popped out into the world with the best possible resources available to make sure you do well.

This afternoon, I started asking my OB/GYN some uncomfortable questions I hadn't even realized I needed to ask. I've been tending to small needs, like headaches and crappy skin, but because they were too expensive or just another thing to schedule, I haven't even considered birth classes, nursing support, or any of the other fairly key pre-birth prep stuff that I figure most women can focus on. Of course I need these things! Taking a seven week pre-natal yoga class was definitely great, and I learned a lot that I really should practice more while I can still move around (at all), but I don't have any clue what to do when I say, have that first real contraction. I have no idea how to manage the pain that I know will come. I've considered the options that other people can provide for me (medication, massage, something to punch, etc...), but what the hell can I do for myself? I think I need to go to the library for one, since the internet is just too terrifying and awful a place to find any information relating to birth, but I definitely need to get some other resources into my corner.

There is not only a good chance, but at this point almost a certainty that your birth will be induced. This means a number of things, not least of which being that instead of nature (and you) progressing...well, naturally...modern medicine will step in and fuck with a process that really has a structure and flow all its own. There is a greater chance of my needing a C-section, of you ending up in distress, and, at the very least, of me needing to cave in and get all sorts of crappy drugs pumped into me. What can I hold on to? We've got a doula, your Dad and I have each other, and we're at least working with OB/GYNs who don't suck, but is that it? There must be more. It's time to read, network, and talk with other people who have any idea of what I'm going through. This is pretty unnatural for me - a person who typically prefers to suffer in as close to isolation as possible until the pain is healed enough for me to comfortably blurt it out to everyone.

Batman, this just didn't go as planned. From the very beginning, when I was so horrendously nauseous that I lost days on end to nibbling on saltines and watching inexplicably soothing travel shows centered around food (thank you, Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern), my image of myself as some benevolent, earth mother, Sheela-na-gig, uber-holistic pregnancy goddess pretty much flew out the window. Finding out about your heart just sucked; I felt a hollowness that I didn't realize one could feel, and even after finding out that everything is manageable, I've still carried around a parcel of anxiety that nothing can shake. It was insult to injury when my joints started giving out somewhere in the sixth month, and that's been a whole other barrel of laughs. Still, through any and all physical or emotional discomfort I've experienced (which has been plentiful, though certainly not as bad as it could have been), I've still loved being pregnant because I've known that you will be the end result. I just can't be so isolated if I'm going to get through this as strong as I started out...or stronger.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Is the carnival over?

This is this third week in a row that the waiting room has been...well...tame. If last week I was left concocting elaborate stories to make the waiting room residents more exciting, this week I didn't even have material to work with. There were literally just two women in the waiting room when I arrived - two! - and both of them were, for lack of a better word, boring. Both looked totally cool with being where they were, neither seemed distressed, stressed, or even vaguely perturbed. What the hell is up with THAT? Did this office manage to streamline their scheduling so that no one is left sitting abandoned for hours on end anymore? Have they started scheduling the exciting and crazy folks for concentrated bursts of time in the middle of the day so that non-smoking full-time workers aren't impacted by them? I'm honestly almost disappointed.

This week has been kind of weird for a number of reasons, not least of which being the fact that I have realized that the reality of you showing up really hasn't hit me yet. I know...we're just past the eight month mark (wow), so clearly you aren't new news. Yet you are. I look down and watch you wriggling around; I can see the bump of a foot or hand or head or something, and feel you pushing against every angle of every inch of space you have to work with, and it still only barely resonates that there is a little human being in there. According to today's ultrasound, you're about five pounds now, which is practically the same size your Dad was when he was born, so clearly you could be a little human being out here pretty soon without anything being too dicey. I think I've started to waddle, though that's mostly due to horrendous pain in my hip joints and not because you're conspicuously in the way of me walking. The reality of this situation should really hit me any minute now...or now...or now...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dr. Fuckhead's Tedious Carnival of Madness: We all sit the same

I am endlessly, immeasurably grateful that I haven't had any of the really horrific, weird side-effects of pregnancy that plague so many women. My skin has always sucked, so that's nothing new, but I didn't get any weird new dark patches, unexpected hair, or funky streaks anywhere on my body. I did have a nasty streak in the middle there where I just didn't know how to eat the right things, or the right times at which to eat them, so I would turn into kind of a psychotic monster when my blood sugar dropped...but at no point have I gotten irrationally hormonal without my own stupidity being somehow at fault. I've definitely felt more fragile during the last few weeks, emotionally and physically, but I attribute a lot of that to the fact that I am coming to terms with this massive change in responsibility and purview; I no longer live just for myself, your Dad, and beyond that, our friends and family; now there's you. I didn't get the magically lush and voluminous hair that so many get, but I also haven't mysteriously lost a ton of it, so I'll call that a win.

I have, however, developed some absolutely hideous joint pain, mostly in my hips. I can only pray it goes away once there isn't another human being jockeying with my bones for space in my lower abdomen. This has cause me to pick up the unfortunate habit of shifting my sitting position constantly, stretching and putting myself into weird poses pretty much any time I'm stuck in one place for more than a few minutes, and while I am not waddling (yay!), I am definitely walking at a somewhat affected pace.

This means that I sit, walk, and generally move like every single other pregnant woman in Dr. Fuckhead's waiting room. We all sit pushed back a bit in our chairs, hips conspicuously forward from shoulders because sitting up straighter means that a baby is practically in our lungs. (We also all inhale fairly deeply every few minutes, and I can only assume it's for the shared reason that we just aren't getting the oxygen we need from normal breathing.) We all cross, un-cross, re-cross, and shift our legs constantly. When one of us gets up, we all lean forward, push up against the chair arms, and generally make some sort of relieved or disgruntled noise as we do so; it's practically a performance. Today seems to be "women roughly as pregnant as I am" day, as all the other women here seem to have bellies of comparable size to mine. When I walked in, you made the seventh pregnant belly in the room.

Much like last week, I am powerfully glad that I scheduled such a late appointment. Even 4:00 is late enough that the waiting room was nearly empty when I hit the twenty-minute wait mark, but I was left with some interesting folks to observe. There was the requisite young-ish couple, the requisite couple of 30-40-ish-year-old women in L.L. Bean couture, and a scattered handful of thoroughly unremarkable women by themselves who looked the standard mix of disgruntled and calm that Dr. Fuckhead's waiting room forces one to feel after a long enough string of waits.

A woman in her late thirties or early forties had been sitting by herself since I came in, and did not appear to be pregnant. I'm learning that there is an entirely different look that people shoot at the door when they are waiting for a person rather than an appointment, and she was giving the door that look. When a teenage girl came out, she sighed and kept texting with resignation. The girl sat down next to her holding a pile of ultrasound pictures and a printout of some kind. They spoke quietly to each other for a few minutes before both started crying almost silently. Clearly, something was wrong...but what? The mother (I can only assume she is the mother) was trying to convince the daughter of something...but what? The daughter kept offering to do something and go somewhere...but what, and where? I overheard the phrases "that's what you told the D.A." and "I asked to have contact," mixed in with low-toned arguments over what one person had requested, or couldn't remember saying. I suppose this will just stay a mystery, but in my over half-hour wait, here's what I fantasized:

This teenaged girl, who never considered herself especially beautiful, was seduced by some B- or C-list celebrity. He picked her up from school in a fancy car, bought her all the trendy...trend...things...like purses, boots, and virtually disposable electronics, and she fell head over heels in love with him. The condition? She couldn't tell anyone - friends, family, or especially the press - that they were an item, or he would call the whole thing off, sever all ties, and deny ever having met her. Being a mere sixteen years old, her ability to keep a secret was just plain nonexistent. Their relationship was soon plastered all over Facebook, Twitter, and her school's rumor mill. The son of a particularly vicious investigative reporter, who happened to have a massive crush on the girl, found out about their affair the day she got a positive pregnancy test. A dubious photo of the illicit couple was taken on some kid's iPhone, posted to Facebook, and within hours, became a local meme the likes of which the town had never seen. The celebrity held true to his word and attempted to cut and run...but the baby! She cried and cried to his answering machine, begging him to marry her and rescue her from a family now stricken with shame and disgust for her choices, but all he did in return was send a lawyer to hound her for full custody. Cleverly, the girl retained a publicity-hounding local attorney who specialized in high-profile, flashy cases to defend her parental rights while doing everything possible to strip the celebrity of resources and reputation alike. Five months of flame-warring legal tribulations later, the girl finds herself the recipient of not only a generous settlement, but full custody of their child with the power to supervise visits between said child and the now utterly disgraced celebrity. A war is won for unwed teenaged mothers, but is a lesson really learned...?

When I saw this girl in the waiting room, I wanted so badly to think that she had earned her place in the Tedious Carnival through some exciting and ultimately personally beneficial chain of events. More likely, she got knocked up by some teenaged boyfriend, and the custody business probably didn't even have to do with her child; she was probably the child in question. Still, as my wait wrapped up (with a totally normal ultrasound), I was left with the odd revelation that even that girl - regardless of her circumstances, however mundane or bizarre they may be - would be waddling, weight-shifting, aching, and groaning just like me in a matter of weeks. In Dr. Fuckhead's Tedious Carnival of Madness, we all sit the same.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

We're still cool...I swear!

Okay, Batman, it's not THAT bad. We still managed to throw a kick-ass party for our kick-ass friends a few weekends ago (the notorious LOTR Bowl, wherein the extended versions of all three Lord of the Rings movies are marathoned, back to back, with strategically timed snacks and meals that line up with or playfully complement whatever is happening in the films), and we're still planning to host a New Year's get-together. Even if it's tamer than usual, it will involve a slew of our favorite people descending upon us for a few days, there will be consumption of adult beverages (not by me, obviously), and there is an excellent chance that I will manage to stay awake until midnight. 

Still, I'm already starting to feel awkward about our not-just-being-boring-adults-ness. We revel in grocery shopping because it is just so damn soothing; what's better than exploring options for what to eat, then picking out components for a meal, then getting to take everything home with the knowledge that you soon get to turn all that goodness into yummy dinner? We spend inordinate amounts of time hunting around for furniture, obscure home efficiency goods and accessories, and weird gifts for family and friends. Seriously; we'll clock hours stalking around the mall (ew), downtown Portland (yay!), random local businesses, and anywhere else we can think of looking for the perfect....whatever we're looking for...and neither give up nor compromise, regardless of whether we need to keep searching later or not. I think we probably spent three or four different shopping trips trying to find a kitchen island before essentially giving up and waiting for something to magically appear. (One did, incidentally: a coworker was getting rid of the custom-built piece that is now in our kitchen, and he just handed it off for free.) It's not even that we enjoy shopping that much; your Dad's blood pressure tends to skyrocket when we're exposed to the godawful behavior most people practice in places of commerce, and I frequently get distracted by other things we don't need to buy, then grow despondent when I realize we can't afford much of anything other than the item we intended to buy, and often not even that. We do, however, LOVE finding the thing we set out for at a good price, so it's definitely worth the effort. Plus, the more effort it takes, the sweeter the victory.

Really, I'm not worried - at all - about your Dad and I losing our playfulness and love for the generally silly and absurd. After realizing this week that my energy level just doesn't accommodate much in the way of shared activities, we came to the conclusion that the obvious solution was to buy a fun collaborative video game for us to play together instead of just watching TV and movies every evening. Thus your Dad picked up "Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga" for our Wii, and we've been slaying droids and hunting down Sith all week. Still...we spend basically every evening and spare weekend chunk of time either in the pursuit of food, cleanliness, or relaxation. I guess we've jumped into the new parent creature-comfort-pursuit mode early...?

Batman, I can promise we'll still do fun things out of the house - and in it - once you show up. I'm so exhausted most of the time now that I'm having a hard time envisioning us as one of those dynamic families that wanders around every local craft fair and festival, spends weekends exploring all over the darn place, and happily partners up with other dynamic and energetic families to do exciting and magical things. I'm sure we'll have our moments, but I'm also weirdly grateful that you'll need us to take life at a slightly slower pace; I think that's always been our speed.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Dr. Fuckhead's Tedious Carnival of Madness: An Unexpected Calm

Strategy, Batman. One must always utilize the best possible strategy when managing a tedious and frustrating situation, at least when one has any possibility to employ personal judgment. Today, I had scheduled an OB/GYN appointment for an hour and fifteen minutes before our ultrasound, leaving me enough time for a leisurely visit with doctors who respect my time as well as the opportunity to check out a Chinese/Japanese grocery store that I've been meaning to get to for years. It's thoroughly awesome, by the way, and even with city traffic and parking, it can't be more than ten minutes from home. Super sweet. I managed to get to the parking lot of the Building I Hate the Most (which I should probably get over, given that your excellent cardiologist is in the building and he will be part of our lives indefinitely) with almost twenty minutes to spare...so I sat in the car listening to NPR and eating an apple. No way am I spending any more of my time than I absolutely must in that waiting room.

I checked in with the receptionist at 4:26, starting the clock off much closer to my scheduled appointment than usual. Responsible patient, my ass; if I always wait for at least twenty minutes (usually way, WAY more) I'm not wasting my time. A definite upside to a later appointment is that the wait realistically can't be as absurdly long as it has been in the past. These people want to go home as much as I do once we cross the 5:00PM line, and they don't seem to over-schedule quite as hideously the later in the day you get. A downside? The waiting room denizens are far tamer...which is arguably a major upside as well.

Today there are slimmer pickings for your narrative enjoyment, Batman. There is a guy who can't be much older than seventeen or so who has been drawing - well - on a clipboard nonstop. He didn't look weirded out or uncomfortable, so I'm wondering if he's just a brother, son, cousin, or some other relative waiting for someone's appointment that is nothing outside of routine. There is also a couple who wandered in just towards the end of last week's ungodly wait, and I'm glad they're back if only so I remember to write about them. He looks like an exceptionally shaggy blonde Santa Claus, which makes it tricky to guess his age, but I would place her squarely in her very late forties, if not older. I must imagine she's in for weekly ultrasounds because of her age, but I just think it's so darn cool that she's waddling around with the same pregnant belly I have...and a head of graying hair, a fair amount of wrinkles, and thoroughly sensible, 40-something lady clothes. Despite wearing the same grimace of disgruntlement that any patient in this waiting room acquires after clocking their first hour in this waiting room, they were both obviously really, really happy, and that was a truly refreshing change from the normal.

I get called in to my appointment at 4:44 (shortest wait EVER!!!) by the same sonographer who told us your gender...and that something was wrong with your heart...which meant that she was not only super friendly, but definitely remembered both of us. We joked for a little bit about your stubbornness (which has been consistent from ultrasound #1), but as soon as she started looking at you, miracle of miracles! You quietly lay in place, let her get all the measurements and images she needed, and even spent a few good minutes practice breathing. We were both flabbergasted, me because you cooperated so darn well, and her because she had apparently had a pretty rough day of not having babies in the right positions, and so not really being able to do her job properly. Everything looked great, and you weighed in at four pounds, twelve ounces (53%!), so we trundled home after just twenty minutes.

Just as good as your currently clean bill of health were some directions from my OB/GYN. I got the all-clear today that - after getting results from the three hour-long, fasting-for-twelve-hours-in-advance blood test, which sucked - I do not have gestational diabetes. Woo! The upside? I don't need to panic about what I'm eating anymore. The downside? Having spent three weeks panicking about what I was eating actually caused me to lose some weight, so my doctor literally demanded that I go home and start eating high-fat dairy products as much as possible. I was prescribed ice cream. Practically with tears of joy in my eyes, I asked her "where were you when I was thirteen?" and called your Dad on my way out to add some mint brownie chip to the grocery list. It feels totally unnatural to be nomming down on sundaes and 2% milk all the time, but hey...if it's for your health, too, Batman, I think I can bite that bullet.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A fashionista I am not.

I've officially rounded (ha!) the corner from "aw, look at my cute belly!" to "crap, I don't own shirts that come down far enough in the front." One week ago, the tank top that I'm currently wearing actually covered you, and now...not so much. I had to do a frantic two-day run around local consignment and department stores to find anything that would fit so that I didn't have to wear one of my two still-fitting tank tops to school. Again.

I had a funny experience a few years back that has made me feel somewhat better about alternately wearing the exact same clothes for several days straight and dressing like a well-showered vagrant. It was only a few weeks after I moved to Maine, and I was at work at the ill-fated chain book store where I had managed to lock down a rare and precious part-time job. In college, I wouldn't dare say that I had a sense of style, but I did definitely put effort into what I wore. (Having friends who enjoyed shopping, making their own clothes, and dressing up for even concocted occasions certainly helped.) Right after college, I will openly admit that I was still trying to impress your Dad, so arguably, I might have even tried a little harder.

This day, I couldn't tell you what I was wearing, but it was definitely something I'd put any energy into picking out and putting on. My job didn't necessarily require any specific formality of dress, but I had quickly learned that as a "bookseller," my job was far more pleasant if I dressed with any intent and some modest but strategic exposed skin. Such attempts stood in stark contrast to the typical comportment of the average customer. This could be a nation-wide phenomenon, the genesis of which I somehow missed during college, but in Southern Maine, few people seem to actually get dressed before leaving their houses. That's not to say our shopping population wanders around nude (though that could conceivably be an improvement for some), rather that there seems to be little expectation for any change in hygiene or clothing choice between the couch and the mall. Some people are more or less visibly clean, but are wearing pajamas that look like they crawled, self-propelled, from a mud pit. Others are wearing ostensibly tidy clothes, but bear a tangible layer of grime over their entire person and could easily grease a marathon's worth of bike chains with their hair. Yet others demonstrate the worst of both possibilities, and while there are some who are simply clean and wearing pajamas, it is a little weird standing in line to pay for a pretzel behind a forty-something year old man in SpongeBob Squarepants flannel jammies and a "I support two teams: the Red Sox and whoever beats the Yankees" t-shirt.

While sorting books to be reshelved, I was approached by a woman whose hair looked about as familiar with a brush as I am with Finnish verb conjugation. I don't think I could ever forget her outfit; she wore a pastel pink sweatshirt that came down almost to her knees upon which was emblazoned a forlorn-looking Disney dwarf and the catch phrase "I'm only grumpy on days that end with Y." There were also stains. Many, awful stains. She was also wearing baggy gray sweatpants that terminated around her no-longer-even-close-to-white sneakers in a hefty ring of mud and (more) stains. What really caught me off-guard was the fact that she was not much older than me, seemed perfectly in-tune with the world, and was looking for a fairly obscure grammar text. This could have been me on another day. I helped her find her book, and she walked with me back towards the sorting desk. While on the way, she looked me up and down with an expression of relative confusion. "You're not from around here, are you?" she queried. I explained that no, I had only recently moved to the area, and she smiled knowingly. "I figured as much. Honey, I give it six months before dressing like THAT," - she eyed me up and down - "...goes out the window."

She was so completely right. Within a year, possibly within her predicted six month window, I caught a reflection of myself in the front doors of the grocery store. Not only was my hair a grungy pile of unwashed horror crammed half-assedly under a Red Sox hat, but I was wearing the same pajamas that I'd spent the last straight twenty-four hours in and it was brutally apparent that I had only just crawled off the couch. As a family composed only slightly more than I was elbowed past on one side, and an older gentleman in a discolored track suit approached me on the other, I came to a state of peace and acceptance. While I still get a slight twinge getting out of my car wearing conspicuously unwashed clothes, with conspicuously unwashed self and hair, I don't let it get to me. It's like driving: as long as I can see someone going faster and someone going slower, I know my speed is reasonable. As long as there is someone grungier than me, and there is always someone better put-together than me, I'm okay.

Being pregnant seems to have put me in a weird state of dual expectations. On the one hand, it's perfectly acceptable to wander around looking like a homeless person because no one expects me to have the energy to do more than cover my delicate bits. On the other hand, my being adorably dressed and groomed seems to give others a voyeuristic degree of pleasure. Students, coworkers, family, and friends alike seem to adore fawning over my appearance, especially when whatever I manage to pull on somehow emphasizes your presence. The upside? Wearing clean clothes that mostly fit seems to garner compliments galore, regardless of how frequently I've worn said clothes, or how appropriate they really are for whatever situation I'm in. All I can say is...thank goodness.

This public approval of my fashion choices (or lack thereof) is especially a relief because of how massive I've been feeling. More than a few people have told me how big I am, which actually really sucks to hear because of how much bigger I'll have to get. Nothing seems to fit properly, which especially sucks because of how tight money is getting. You've also made some kind of jump, growth-wise or something, since you're now not only kicking more often, but WAY harder...harder like I'm worried you're going to kick through my abdominal wall. I've definitely never noticed any pregnant woman's stomach visibly jumping around, but your activity has been majorly noticeable from the outside. Weirdly, you still clam up when anyone wants to feel you move, but I'm convinced that just ignoring you for a few minutes gets you going just fine.

For now, I'm sticking to a handful of oversized tank tops that, while fairly tight, still cover far enough below and above you to keep me decent. Yes, I'm basically wearing some variation on one of the same three outfits every day, but whatever. You're still growing plenty, and I'm still only really looking huge around the baby belly and not too much anywhere else. I'm kind of really regretting not doing the once-a-week belly pictures that so many women do, but given both how gross I felt for the first trimester (and then some) and how overwhelmed we were with medical stuff after then, I'll be sated with an absurd number of ultrasound pictures and a few holiday shots where someone else is gazing with near astonishment at you.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dr. Fuckhead's Tedious Carnival of Madness: Thanksgiving Edition

I arrived for our weekly ultrasound today about ten minutes early (responsible patient that I am), and was immediately informed that they are running about half an hour behind. Given the minimal availability of seats in the waiting room, this sounded like an unreasonable estimate. We had plenty of the normal crowd: there was the cigarette smoke-reeking couple who were young enough to make me feel awful about the world, the massive family who were all loudly discussing their social plans, and the mother of a small child who was completely ignoring her current offspring in lieu of her cell phone. As usual, there were a few standouts. Given that this was two days before Thanksgiving, and every medical office in the area was closing down for a few days, I expected a full house.

I first sat opposite a woman who couldn't have been more pregnant than me, but who was complaining so consistently about the pain from her baby's kicking that I wanted to smack her mother who, sitting next to her and also reeking of cigarette smoke, just kept chowing down on the oversized bag of peanut M&M's in her lap. The daughter would cite some specific pain, then the mother would grunt at her and tell her to suck it up. I rapidly realized that the cigarette smell was actually coming off at least six other people in the same corner, so I felt like I had a completely legitimate excuse to move to another corner where their conversation would be less in my line of hearing.

I hate to stereotype, and I hate to judge based on appearances, but there are times when such things are entirely accurate. An entire third of the room was populated with men in baggy jeans and oversized hoodies advertising either death metal bands or tractor equipment, and women wearing men's sweatshirts and ill-fitting sweatpants. None of them looked particularly clean, most had fairly poor quality tattoos, and they were all wearing oversized, unlaced sneakers. Call me classist, segregationist, or whatever: these people were gross, and they all smelled so strongly of cigarettes and body odor that I didn't know what to do but hide behind the couple wearing North Face fleeces and expensive shoes and the thirty-something women in head-to-toe L.L. Bean.

This, sadly, was not escape enough. The cigarette smell had pervaded the entire room, to a point where even burying my face in magazines to try to make myself nauseous because of perfume rather than the stink of other people was futile. Moving also positioned me to see two additional horrors. Now, I am not perfect. Sometimes I judge people based on criteria that have nothing to do with who they actually are, and sometimes I respond to people based on assumptions that I have not confirmed, but I would argue that I am far more accepting, open-minded, and genuinely prone to equity than most people....but I just couldn't get over the family I saw on the other side of the room.

This was a mother and father with their young son, all dressed in Christmas card-perfect argyle, cashmere, and khaki. The mother was definitely more pregnant than me, but whereas I am starting to look a little frumpled and tired, she looked eerily composed. The father didn't have a hair or thread out of place, and might very well have shaved twenty minutes before walking in to the waiting room. Their child sat - and this was probably a two-year-old - almost perfectly still, like his parents, and just quietly surveyed the room. It was creepy. This family was sitting along the same wall as the loudest cluster of cigarette-reekers, and with every loud comment the latter made about either things they wanted to drink or people they wanted to "hook up with to do some shit later," the formers' eyebrows ascended another millimeter. By the time Christmas card mother's name was called, I don't think I could actually see any of of their eyebrows anymore, and even the little guy seemed to have a look of judgmental disgust on his face. I'm sorry, I leave my horror at the people I'm forced to share this confined space on the internet where I name no names: I would never sit five feet away from someone and make a face openly displaying my complete disapproval of them.

The other standout was really just a shock. A girl who I knew as a student at the high school where I first worked was sitting in the far opposite corner from me, aggressively pretending she hadn't seen me. She was with a guy wearing their high school's name splashed all over his sweatshirt and hat and parents who were clearly none too chuffed to be there. I never had her in my classes, but she was friends with many of my students, and I remember her as a very sweet girl with a great sense of humor. She was active in a lot of school activities, well-liked, and now here she sat looking ashamed and...something else...maybe disappointed, maybe angry. I felt horrible. I did my best to pretend I didn't see her either, however much I wanted to go over and tell her that it would be okay (however little grounds I had for saying so), because she was so clearly trying not to be seen. When her name was called, she lit up red and practically ran for the door.

The waiting room emptied out, leaving me with only one of the cigarette-fest couples (who had arrived mere seconds before me) and a couple who wandered in after 4:30. Waiting forty minutes here is pretty much status quo, but as we approached 5:00, I was left wondering if I'd even have an appointment. It was at this point that I made my regular check in with the front desk just to remind them that I was there, and I was informed that my appointment had not been at 4:00, but instead 4:30, and that they were still running at least half an hour late. The automated message call thingy had said 4:00. My schedule had said 4:00. When I checked in - comfortably before 4:00 - the receptionist had not even hinted that my appointment was not at 4:00. The handful of staff still remaining as the clock passed 5:00 were at least apologetic when I brought to their attention the fact that I had been waiting for an hour - again - but I was left feeling the loss of the at least forty-five minutes of my life I could never get back. Way to stay classy, Dr. Fuckhead's office. I was finally called in at about 5:20, over an hour and a half after I arrived.

That's when the real fun started. Clearly, I need to have a conversation with the next ultrasound tech I work with about what exactly they are looking for when they look at you, because I did not leave for another forty minutes. They needed to see you practice breathing - which basically means moving your diaphragm and some other internal muscles the same way you will when you actually breathe air - and you were being stubborn. By this point in the evening, every other patient was gone, so all the ultrasound techs decided to get in on the fun task of getting your muscles to spasm. We danced, we jumped, I adjusted and readjusted my position, I chugged ice water, and eventually one tech decided to zap you with some high-frequency sound wave thingy. You were moving around plenty (which was admittedly lots of fun to watch in real time), but it took close to forty minutes for you to breathe the specific way they wanted you to. The ultrasound techs kept mentioning "earning points" for different things, like growth and movement...so what gets points? What do I need to do to make sure we score as high as we need to?

When did this become some crappy sort of game?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dante missed this one.

One could argue that we had quite a scare this week, Batman. Last Friday, we had a routine ultrasound (at which point I realized that I have literally no idea how many ultrasounds I've even had at this point) that revealed a pericardial effusion – fluid around your heart. Your Dad and I did our damndest not to panic despite the doctor (one of Dr. Fuckhead's colleagues, since his office knows now not to put him and I in the same room) telling us that we would likely need a cardiology appointment right at the beginning of the next week. I think we did any okay job, considering that I only really started to melt down Sunday night, and your Dad kept himself together about as well as he always does (which is admirably).

Now, I've railed against the internet as a source of medical information before, and doubtlessly will again, but this particular medical condition might have been the single worst thing I ever could have attempted to get information about on the internet. One website reported that 44% of babies have some kind of visible effusion at some point during pregnancy, most of which are benign. Another website basically condemned any child with an effusion to death: period. Yet another website claimed that an effusion could only be attributable to one of several specific conditions, none of which you have. I'm pretty sure I stood as much a chance of getting reliable information about this one medical anomaly as I did making a pony appear if I closed my eyes and wished for one.

I got a call Monday morning telling me that I have been scheduled for a noon appointment on Tuesday to get your heart looked at. I'm also told that this is the single available appointment for the week, and that the cardiologist wants to see me immediately. That was comforting. I spend Monday in a haze, stuck in a recursive loop of imagining hideous fates for both you and myself that just escalated in intensity and horror as the day wore on. Much like the weekend in between finding out that there was something wrong with your heart and finding out what the something wrong was, I was uselessly panicked and terrified. Every time you kicked was a stab to the heart; I couldn't settle myself in to the possibility of something going truly wrong, but I couldn't go on as if everything was hunky-dory. 

This morning – Tuesday – comes, and I make the hour drive to work, just to work three hours before rushing the hour back for this emergency appointment. While sitting in the waiting room (for about half an hour, by the way), I start to wonder if doctors just schedule appointments so that their nurses know whose charts to pull...or so that their investment in magazines and crappy chairs is worthwhile. There is clearly no effort to actually have the appointment on time, nor is there any consideration for the patient's schedule. I was nearly shitting myself with terror while watching the asshole black fish in the waiting room tank terrorize his tankmates when I was finally called in, and within about ten minutes, your cardiologist determines that he can't find anything wrong. This effusion, which really isn't as bad as it looked last week, is just sort of a thing that showed up. There is no specific cause, despite the potential causes (none of which were present) being kind of scary, and as long as it doesn't really change, there's not even any cause for additional concern.

For the first time in four days, I breathe. This cycle of panic and calm, tsunami and stillness is definitely wearing me out. We don't seem to be able to go more than a few weeks without some crisis presenting itself, but so far, even the biggest crises are capable of being resolved somehow, and some end up being entirely benign. Of course, even the smallest crises have required what feels like an outrageous amount of effort and energy on our end to muddle through. Today is, of course, no exception. I don't want to sound upset with your cardiologist because he is not only a super nice guy, but is someone I genuinely trust as a medical professional. Even though this morning has assuaged my panic and stopped me from feeling like a walking time bomb, I am absolutely furious that he immediately sent me down to Dr. Fuckhead's office for...something?

I spent close to an hour and a half alternately convincing this office that yes, I am supposed to have some kind of appointment and sitting and waiting with zero idea of when I might be seen. I was in waiting room purgatory, my companions including a horde of chatty women (one of whom I guess must have been pregnant) who were loudly debating the merits of going to Macaroni Grill as opposed to Burger King after an ultrasound, a mother who looked to be substantially younger than me who left her sixteen month old in my care for about ten minutes – without asking or even saying a word to acknowledge why she was leaving or where she was going, and the massively overweight, six month pregnant woman who vigorously complained about her doctor trying to get her to change her eating habits while tossing back a bag of cookies, an entire tin of honey roasted peanuts, and three – count them, three – extra-large Powerades. Oh, and there was a bible-thumping family of four girls under the age of ten with an almost scarily detached mother who all kept loudly commenting on the potential sinfulness of the other people in the waiting room...and a guy who tried to smuggle a lit cigarette in, poorly...and, of course, at least four or five other women who looked as weirded out by all of this as I was.

Yeah. I was finally called in for yet another routine ultrasound, and you were your normal stubborn self (not letting the technician get the images she wanted by picking an impossible position and kicking at her non-stop) and got out quickly enough after that, but I know my fate. I scheduled every ultrasound we'll need from now until you pop out; our fates are sealed.

Given that I will now have weekly appointments here to have you looked at, I'm pretty certain that I need to add a feature called “Dr. Fuckhead's Tedious Carnival of Madness.” This waiting room is filled with such an amazing kaleidoscope of insanity, weirdness, and...yeah, basically just madness. I'm pretty sure I'll feel better about the inevitably torturous waiting if I can write about the craziness I am forced to witness, so brace yourself!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Shall we dance?

Oy, Batman. You are kicking up a storm. It's definitely weird to be sitting in, say, a meeting or class at school and to suddenly yelp because a tiny foot has just whalloped my pelvic bone/intestines/spine/front of me, but it is really cool. I know that babies most often hang out on the right side of their mother, which I think feels right, but you have definitely been kicking (or punching, or reaching, or bonking, or whatever) more towards the bottom than the top. I have no idea if that's normal, or if even having a consistent "target" like that is normal, but I can almost always feel you doing something if I put my hands on the underside of my (now definitely and unavoidably baby-containing) bump. There are still definitely kicks upwards, but those are rare treats; they're hitting muscles that haven't already been tenderized. Even better than that is the fact that you react to things now; if I push my hand against wherever you were just kicking, you push back! I have the theory that you are going to have some sort of magically chill relationship with your Dad, because you always calm down and just roll around gently when he's talking and he can more or less just rest his hand somewhere near you to calm you into submission if you're going all Chuck Norris on me. Seriously: how cool is that shit?

Thankfully, most everyone around me finds my yelping, squirming, and belly-rubbing endearing and fascinating, but there is one particular Debbie Downer at work who looks at me with this almost disgusted glare, tries to smile to cover her discomfort, then rapidly informs me of how uncomfortable she would be in my position. This Debbie gets a uniquely "deer in headlights" expression any time anyone brings up anything even tangentially related to you, pregnancy, or even babies conceptually (no exaggeration: she gets woogly when people bring up any very young child, regardless of context). With eyes glazed open in weakly-deflected terror, she proceeds to share either a horror story of someone else's hideous pregnancy/birth/infant experience or some utterly irrelevant retelling of a traumatic event from her past.

While it is a little insulting to hear someone flip my excitement back onto itself with a comparison to some long-passed personal drama, Debbie's stories are pretty hilarious. (Sometimes you even kick when I'm trying to repress laughter.) A personal favorite of mine was when she described the experience of getting a "wicked huge" splinter on her leg sometime in college. Despite her roommate and other close friends all being nursing students, none of them could get the splinter out without Debbie flipping out and basically kicking them away. She was so traumatized by having something stuck under her skin that she now knows that having a baby inside her would just be too much to handle.

Let's review, shall we? Thigh + large splinter = uterus + baby. Okay then. That's not just an utterly callous comparison: that's HYSTERICAL!!!

I completely understand the reservations one might have about the physical sensation of pregnancy. I'm not going to sugar-coat; it's really effing weird. I wake up in the middle of the night because another human being is literally sucker-punching my internal organs, and I have to go buy special pants to accommodate the fact that someone has decided to take up residence in my midsection. Despite being a totally natural, normal human thing...it's really effing weird, right? Still, regardless of stinky-face-butt-head coworkers who try to outshine your awesomeness with their personal gripes, I'm still finding this so amazingly cool.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

This is what's up with you right now.

I am rapidly becoming a freaking viking when it comes to managing medical appointments. Earlier this week, I had three appointments back-to-back AND managed to cram in a visit to the (almost palatial) NICU where you will be spending a chunk of your first few days of life. Seriously: it's one of the nicest hospital facilities I've ever been in, and because of my father's many health problems, I have seen some hospitals. It's becoming old hat. I walk in, do my best to make nice with the receptionist (hopefully not going on red alert because of a full waiting room or snippy attitude, both of which bode ill), wait, be super polite to the nurse who brings me in, and then just get business done with the doctor. It's easy. Sometimes I get poked: sometimes I don't. Sometimes there are new questions: sometimes I just hear the same thing I've heard before and we laugh about how this will all seem so silly in hindsight.

That's what I need to do now. I just soldier through, making nice and absorbing medical information more complex and important than anything I've ever really had to process before. Everything I've endured - for myself - up to this point has been maintenance or a minor fix. Tension headaches? Drink a little less caffeine, cut back on sugar, try to relax more. Rash? Use some ointment. Legitimately sick? Chill out, drink tea, maybe take some Tylenol, and call back if things don't improve. Now, it's a whole new ballgame. Even the fourth or fifth appointment with the same doctor requires careful attention, since he or she might tell me something about your care that I actually have never heard before. I've started to use a calendar to track all the different appointments, since I think I'm averaging about three per week, give or take a few, and they are massively inconsistent.

I'm getting tired, to be sure, and it's more than a little overwhelming to juggle being an actually good teacher with giving you and me the best care we can get. There's been a lot of driving, a lot of emergency granola bars, and a lot of sitting and basically staring off into space in offices. You, on the other hand, seem to be gearing up for action. You are kicking around like crazy, and I'm only just starting to figure out what sets you off. Here are a few things that you either love or hate, but which you react to pretty consistently:
  • Me tossing and turning in bed.
  • Your Dad poking you.
  • Bagels.
  • Stew and/or soup.
  • "Invader Zim"
  • Back massages (for me, not you, since I'm never entirely sure where any part of you other than your feet are, and those aren't always in a consistent place relative to the rest of you). 
  • Dave Matthews Band
I must admit, it is massively comforting feeling you kick around, even when you kick so hard (or against bone) that it makes me nauseous. It's totally worth it to know you're strong enough to do that. At our last ultrasound this past week, you weighed in at about two pounds, which (according to your Dad) is about as much sliced deli meat as the average large family purchases on a Sunday afternoon. Seriously, though: that's pretty substantial! An online size tracker puts you at about the size of a full-sized eggplant. Granted, it's a little creepy to think of you in terms of food, especially considering how much you've been moving around, but you are in my belly...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Nosy Nellie has a strong opinion about EVERYTHING!!!

Oh, Batman. I love - and I mean LOVE - the fact that we just moved into a real neighborhood. Not only are your Dad's parents (your paternal grandparents, whatever their monikers might turn out to be) directly across the street, but our landlords - who live directly below us in the giant three-family house that we now inhabit - have known his family for decades, and most of the surrounding neighbors are either friendly and familiar faces, or the kinds of people who move to a quiet, residential suburban neighborhood because that is what they want, not just where finances and logistics dictate they settle. The upside: we're surrounded by people who, even if they aren't always like-minded, have the same standards for quiet, friendliness, and community that we do. The downside: we know everyone, everyone knows us (initially by proxy, because your Dad's mom is a voracious social butterfly, but now with the same background knowledge as people we've known for years), and everyone is in everyone's business. This is what we signed up for, and we both actually love having these kinds of relationships to delve into, but there are definite downsides.

One such neighbor has always been something of a Nosy Nellie. She is a rare and unique variant on the theme, in that she frequently enjoys stuffing her life in your face rather than just trying to stick her nose into yours, but the latter clearly offers her great pleasure as well. I worry that this Nosy Nellie may have tricked your Dad and I into a thorough run-down of all the baby- and parenting-related things we need to be careful of, scared of, aware of, and otherwise prepared for. She called (thanks a lot, Dad-in-Law for sharing my phone number!) and invited us over to look at a crib she had gotten for free from an online bulletin board. Thinking "aww, neighborly kindness!" we trotted over to her house...and were cornered for close to an hour while she thrust utterly inappropriate and personal advice upon us.

Word to the wise, Batman: when someone whose eccentricity rating surpasses "pretty darn weird" invites you into their house to look at something they got for free that they want to give you for free, think twice. It may - just possibly - be a ruse.

We entered Nellie's house, and immediately the red flags went flying. First, she wants to give us a tour of all her recent renovations. Okay...cool...she's a friend of the family, and we haven't seen her house in years (your Dad) or ever (me). Still, a little odd. Second, she escorts us upstairs - through a door at the base of the stairs that she closes and latches behind us - and into a bedroom where we see the most potentially death-inducing crib mankind has ever engineered. This thing looked like it had all the structural integrity of a pile of chopsticks held together with paper clips. The sides consisted of round poles that are roughly a baby head's width apart, and one of the sides (the one that is meant to drop down, a feature determined to be massively dangerous and now not allowed on any new cribs) was so wiggly that it looked more or less like it was going to slam down if bumped against by a sleeping baby. Basically, it looked like a device that a serial killer might use to kill only the babies he really didn't like.

Your father and I made immediate and definitive eye contact that said "this is absolutely not an option, and we need to get out before this crib jumps out and tries to kill us." By then, it was too late. I politely mumbled something about the crib being too big (to which she responded that it was the same size as every other crib), then about not even being sure that we want a crib (which she thought was just ridiculous), then about how we probably just want to put a mattress on the floor so that you can chill out in your room if you wake up on your own some time, and so you never fall out of a high bed (which she, mysteriously, thought was a great idea). She let us off the hook: we didn't NEED to take the crib, but by that point, we were a captive audience. We did need to listen to her lecture us on the following:
  • Breastfeeding, and how I would have major challenges with it having a baby who receives surgery so early on (duh).
  • Breastfeeding, and how it is a miserable and oftentimes impossible process (thanks for that encouragement).
  • Breasts, and how they suffer from breastfeeding (yeah, I get it).
  • Sleep, and how we will never do it ever again. Ever.
  • Free time, and how we will never have it ever again. Ever.
  • A sense of personal freedom from the crippling obligation of parenthood, and how this destroys every other aspect of your life, making even the simplest pleasures (like pooping uninterrupted) practically worthy of a parade.
  • Her children's struggles with a baby who wouldn't latch, wouldn't sleep, and couldn't be left alone, and how they basically had to practice deliberate abandonment in order to wean her off of their anal-retentive attention.
  • The fact that her children's experiences with their offspring, and her experience with hers decades earlier, are all COMPLETELY RELEVANT AND WORTHY OF OUR EVERY MOTE OF ATTENTION AND CONSIDERATION.
Right. After making the entirely legitimate excuse of "er...we really need to go grocery shopping..." and waiting out about half an hour of additional advice-pushing, we managed to flee. Lesson learned, Batman: there's no such thing as a free crib.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Ode to our apartment

Batman, one of the most obnoxious features of being me is that when I am motivated - and I mean gung-ho, all engines firing on full blast, ready for anything, piss-and-vinegar motivated - pretty much the only thing that can really stop me is myself...and I am REALLY good at stopping myself. We're in the process of moving out of an apartment full of pretty major events, and while I am truly thrilled, I'm left with enough philosophical musing (and laziness, stress, and no small factor of fighting a head cold) to distract me from the full-throttle packing I really should be continuing.

This old apartment has some serious flaws. To start, the unit itself is on the third floor, making both moving and getting in and out with anything even vaguely heavy a truly unpleasant task. Hell, it frankly sucks at the end of a long day...and first thing in the morning, when legs aren't quite awake yet. Batman, never get an apartment above the second floor if there isn't an elevator. The bathroom is kind of tiny, which is okay, but the lighting fixtures give off this godawful yellow haze, and the ventilation fan sounds roughly like an idling, poorly repaired Soviet-era rocket. The toilet has been a source of constant adventure: it periodically half-flushes itself, which is not only noisy but terrifying if you happen to be sitting on it at the time, and has several times started gushing water for no reason whatsoever. There is a pretty huge mirror, which is nice, and this weird mirrored box-thing that serves in place of a medicine cabinet, which is kind of neat, but the cabinet under the sink is particle board that looks like someone (or something) chewed on it.

Speaking of which, let me move on to the kitchen. The cabinets might have cost someone a few shiny pennies sometime in the 80's, as they regularly shed particle board fragments, and are of such questionable structural integrity that I am left wondering how our dishes and glasses are still intact. We got a brand-new stove and fridge within the first year and a half that we lived here because the previous ones were so trashed from over/misuse, which was nice, but of course the nine hundred year old dishwasher remained. The kitchen sink periodically took a cue from the toilet and just gushed water everywhere, and the overhead lights basically stopped responding to a switch sometime about a year ago. The ceiling above the stove leaks in the rain, and fruit flies seem to love our drainage system, making them year-round accessories.

The bedrooms are really okay, except for the fact that black mold seems to love to collect around the edges of the windows. The closet space is awesome: I will legitimately miss having four MASSIVE closets that were not only deep, but tall and wide. The new place also has four closets, total, but I think all three of them could fit into two of the closets in the old place, probably with room to spare. There was a little deck-thing off the "dining area" (read: "space too small and awkward to use for anything but a pretty small dining table, but even that is pushing it,"), but it was small enough - and frequently enough clouded with a neighbor's cigarette smoke - that we basically never used it. Your father will push for wall-to-wall carpeting anywhere we live, but so help me, this place has turned me off forever. The carpet held on to a funk like nobody's business, and it is this awful tannish-grey that never looks clean, even after repeated vigorous vacuumings.

Oh, and the neighbors. Let me try to sum up each in a single sentence. There was the lady across the hall when we moved in who chain-smoked in the hallway, possibly blowing smoke under our door, just to piss us off after we asked her to stop, then spent the next three years sneering at us any time we passed one another. There was the dude downstairs who broke up with his sensible girlfriend a few months after we moved in, then started loudly discussing on his cell phone the pharmaceutical drugs he was trying to cell while chain-smoking on the porch at odd hours of the night. There was the next dude downstairs who (like his predecessor) broke up with his sensible girlfriend, then started bringing underage chicks home from where he worked (which was the only strip club in Portland) to have mind-blowingly loud, ungodly late-at-night drinking parties. There was also the really nice single mom with a young, polite daughter who lived on the second floor not below us, and we were really sad when they moved out, but it was to live with the mom's nice new boyfriend, so that was cool. They were replaced by a quiet Indian couple who are completely innocuous except for occasionally leaving piles of shoes in the hallway. On the bottom floor, we started with a guy who must have been some kind of diagnosably crazy, because he SCREAMED profanity at his two Golden Retrievers while they were running around off-leash, pooping everywhere, and they weren't even allowed in the building. There was then a young-ish guy who was nice enough, but who regularly set off the smoke alarm with his idiotic cooking. After him has been a quiet older woman who has something like a jillion cats. On the other side of the bottom floor is a family from Rwanda who literally let their children (aged 4-ish and 6-ish) run rampant through the apartment complex, hurling sticks at each other and leaving a trail of garbage and toys wherever they go. Right below us now is the complex's head of maintenance, who we really like now that his ex-con son has moved out and they no longer have screaming fights at 4:00AM. Other people in the complex range from quiet families and working folks to more unsupervised, rude children and jackholes who go through the parking lot at forty miles per hour.

Moving to a building that is clean, well-maintained, and in the middle of a residential neighborhood with a quiet older couple below us and a quiet single guy above us - and quiet families who we know all around us - is worth potentially losing a month's security deposit.

While some might call this place a crap-hole (which, by the standards of many, it is), I feel like we're leaving a lot behind. It's where your father pulled his head out of his...I mean...er...where your father decided to give in to my year of not-even-vaguely subtle hinting at the fact that we were already a couple to admit that yes, we were a couple, and a damn good one at that. It's also where we discovered uncountable wonderful movies, books, TV shows, dumb internet memes, and other glorious tidbits of media. It's where we suffered through grad school together, then spent the next year dragging each other through the mud of unemployment and a really damn hard first job. It's where we first put all our books on the same shelves, mixed together in alphabetical order so that we really couldn't have extricated our individual collections without some serious debate and probably hair-pulling. It's where we made you (and by that, I mean we placed an order online with the stork, and icky grown-up stuff has NOTHING to do with it). It's where we nursed each other through finding out about your heart. It's where we've spent countless hours complaining about work, celebrating those few tiny successes teachers get to claim, mourning losses and victoriously lauding accomplishments.

It's where we've lived for over four years. It's surreal to think that this morning was the last morning I will leave this building to drive to work. After this weekend, it's down a different flight of stairs to a different driveway. I'll write all about the new place as soon as we're actually in there, but for now, Batman, just think: when you live somewhere, it may just be a place, but it's impossible for it not to become part of you in a way.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

...and then I called him a fuckhead.

Batman, sometimes you just need to call people on it when they are being inappropriately crappy. This week, I had the (hopefully rare, ideally one-time) experience of calling a doctor a truly naughty name. Now, as you will soon know, and as my friends and family can surely attest, I am neither an angry nor an aggressive person. In fact, I tend to try to avoid confrontations at all costs, often to a point of accidentally letting myself become a victim because I just hate, hate, hate it when people are upset with me.

This neuroses is especially profound when it comes to anyone in the customer service industry; if it is someone's job to provide me some kind of care or support, I tend to go out of my way to be nice to him or her almost regardless of how poorly that individual is treating me, or how poorly they are doing their job. Receptionists, flight attendants, nurses, and doctors have always been a source of particular anxiety for me, as they legitimately hold a fragment of my fate in their hands. In my head, it is virtually required for me to do anything I can to make any person in one of these positions feel favorably towards me, if not to flat-out like me. This week proved for me that not everyone in these noble and not always appreciated fields is deserving of such esteem. (Don't worry about the flight attendants. They're still cool.)

This Tuesday, I left school about an hour early to make the drive from work back to Portland. Now, most people can leave work an hour early with minimal crisis; my leaving work is a far more complicated endeavor. I need to secure coverage for my end-of-day responsibilities, which effectively boil down to outrageously carefully choreographed cat-herding. Thankfully I was able to do so, and (still stressed about creating any change in routine for my kiddos) I scooted my way to the doctor's office. This was my first appointment with the "high risk" OB/GYN practice that I was told (by the head doctor there, hearafter referred to as Dr. D-Bag) I had to - HAD TO - work with for the remainder of my pregnancy.

Batman, I'm sure you recall earlier posts in which I all but damned the medical institution surrounding maternal care. From all I have read, heard, and seen, there is essentially no consideration for patient needs in this system; doctors do whatever fits their schedule and their (or their practice's) financial desires. Drugs and often superfluous medical interventions are all but forced, and patients are backed into every possible corner with nothing more than the excuse of "this is for the good of your baby" to explain their (often mis-)treatment. Naturally, when you showed up I went running to the most holistic practice I could find. As soon as the diagnosis about your heart came about, Dr. D-Bag told me that I could not - under any circumstances - continue to work with a practice that didn't have as explicit a relationship with "the hospital" as his does. To be fair, this hospital does have a regionally award-winning NICU, and we will be working with a truly exceptional cardiologist based there, but...did I really need to work with a terrifyingly restrictive, conservative, and medicine- (not patient-) oriented practice in order to take advantage of all of these resources? My gut said no.

I showed up at my appointment a responsible fifteen minutes early. Even not being a new patient, I like to show up early to appointments just to show that I am respectful of the practice's time. (Some little part of me wants a receptionist to someday either compliment my timeliness, or better yet, give me some sort of gold star. Maybe they make notes in their records of who shows up early and who doesn't...See? Neuroses!) At 2:30, when my appointment was scheduled, several patients had already been called in. I had not. At 2:45, people who had arrived well after me had been called in. I had not. Come 3:00, I meekly approached the receptionist and asked if she had any idea how much longer I would be waiting. I was told in no uncertain terms that I would be called when it was my turn, and that they were very short-staffed, so she could make no accurate predictions. I muttered something about having come early just to be sure I was ready when it was my time, and was thanked for my patience and asked to continue waiting. In the meantime, several people who had showed up after 2:30 had already been called in to their appointments, and a few of them were already checking out and leaving, having FINISHED their appointments. Still, I was not called in.

Come 3:30, an hour after my scheduled time, my desire to please the receptionist had disintegrated into more or less red-hot rage. I could have not only left school at a normal time, but I could have carpooled that day, saving myself dollars in gas money and however much carbon emission that a second car created. While silently stewing (and watching more and more patients be called in for their appointments, then checking out and leaving), I tried to center myself. Sure, I didn't want to be working with this practice, but it wasn't their fault that I needed their services. Even though I was livid at having so much of my time wasted, I had to walk into this with a positive attitude. Finally, over an hour past my scheduled appointment, the waiting room otherwise completely empty, I was called in by a nurse who immediately set my teeth on edge.

Now, here's some simple advice for all medical professionals: when you first meet a patient, ask "how are you today?" or something of the like. This shows that you are a human being, not some sort of soulless demon with a name tag. This nurse immediately started lecturing me about the need to work with her practice, citing all of my risk factors (which were described so obliquely as to leave me more confused than when I started) and, once she got my chart in front of her, berating me for not seeking their highly-medicalized care the second I got pregnant. I seem to have forgotten many of the details of our conversation in a rage-induced fugue, but here are a few highlights:

Nurse: "I see you were working with a midwife practice. Now, since they aren't really doctors, and really aren't qualified to give you prenatal care, I hope you can appreciate that we need to redo their records."
Me: ...annoyed silence...

Me: "I'm hoping to get a better explanation for why you want to induce me at 39 weeks instead of 40, given that my child's lungs may not be fully developed at that point...also, especially since the doctors I've spoken to want me to have as natural a birth as possible, it seems strange to me to introduce chemicals into my system that will almost definitely require more chemicals being introduced, and increases my chance of a c-section dramatically. Is there any more information you can give me about why this is an appropriate choice for my baby's health?"
Nurse: "I don't appreciate your getting irrational about this."

Nurse: "Our practice has twelve attending physicians or residents, and works with several other practices to cover nights at the hospitals, because our doctors are only available until 5:00PM. Your baby will be delivered by whoever is on call when you go into labor."
Me: "What are the chances of me meeting the doctor who does the delivery?"
Nurse: "In the thirty years I've been a nurse working with maternal-fetal medicine, I've never seen a case of a woman knowing the doctor who delivers her child in advance."
*Note: I actually don't know a single woman who DIDN'T know the doctor who delivered her child in advance, and I've known more than a few families who used this hospital.

Me: "I am really not comfortable having a man deliver my baby. Is there any way to ensure that I work with a female OB?"
Nurse: "That is a completely irrational request, and one that is frankly closed-minded. Again, you don't get any say in or control over who delivers your baby. This is just part of how we guarantee that you receive the best possible care."
*Note: WTF?

After about twenty minutes of this sort of round-about bullshit, and four separate occasions of being called irrational, this nurse clearly realized that I was too irrational for her to handle on her own. I was proud of myself: I stayed calm, collected, and focused on the needs and concerns that your father and I had deliberated and discussed in advance. This nurse left me waiting for almost another half an hour while she got the doctor to "discuss my concerns" with me. It was at this point that I realized that she had only weighed me, taken my blood pressure, and listened to your heartbeat; no actual examination had taken place, and there had been zero conversation about how I have been feeling, whether you were moving around much, if I had been, I dunno, pooping normally...nothing.

Dr. D-Bag comes in and immediately goes on the defensive. I am told - flat-out told - that I am making irrational requests, and that what I "have to understand" is that this is a situation in which I have no control, no choices, and should have no expectation of having any input about my treatment. In the roughly five minutes of face-time he gave me, I was told (again) that no woman he works with ever knows the doctor who delivers her baby, that being induced early is non-negotiable, and that wanting a female obstetrician is a hurtful and irrational desire. It was at this point that I called him a fuckhead.

Now, profanity has a magical influence on people. For some, it is a catalyst for further rage, beginning an escalating spiral of violent language, and often violent behavior. For others, it is a neutralizer, negating any potential further action and stunning the recipient into stunned silence or complacency. For people like me who just flat-out hate confrontation, it typically sways me - usually instantly - towards acquiescing to the profanity-wielder's will.

Apparently for Dr. D-Bag, profanity is some sort of secret key code that releases his patients' true desires from the clutches of his fuckheadedness. The second I showed him just how much he didn't want to deal with me any more, he immediately offered to transfer me to a holistic practice of six women, all of whom I would meet during my pre-natal care, and none of whom "pass off" patients to other practices if one of them isn't available. Turns out that getting exactly what I wanted - what I knew from the beginning to be right for all of our family - was completely an option from the beginning.

Not only was I kept waiting (which is mostly annoying, but ultimately disrespectful of my time, as well), but I was spoken to rudely and condescendingly, lied to, and I would have been denied my rights as a patient had I not acted against my gut instinct and called this guy what he really is. I can't believe I let this wacko perform my amniocentesis, but at that point, I didn't realize just how bad he was. Batman, I hope you can take this as a mark of several important things. First, your mother will kick anyone's ass who stands between her and the best care for her family. Second, there is no such thing as "no choices." There are always choices. Third, and perhaps most importantly, I have one hell of a gut instinct.

Turns out that this fuckhead...I mean douchebag...I mean *ahem* "medical professional" is a lapdog to our insane, scary, dumb-as-toast governor. He (Dr. D-Bag) and his uber-conservative doctor wife have both worked to limit the rights of GLBT patients, from campaigning to allow practices to deny medical care based on sexual orientation, to working to flat-out deny lesbian mothers pre-natal care. I might still technically have to deal with this dude sometimes until you pop out, but I've got another practice full of women who buy in to the same philosophy that I do to back me up, and there will be one hell of an angry letter going to his supervisor as soon as I don't need to deal with him again.

Batman, I've got your back, and anyone who tries to stand in my way is going to see a very ugly side of me.