Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Please, grab me!

As you might recall, Batman, a radiology technician recently referred to you as a "snuggler." This was actually a kind of comforting thing to hear, as one of my "wake me up in the middle of the night to panic about it even though there's not only nothing I can do about it but really no cause for panic in the first place" moments over the last few months has been worrying about whether you'll be the kind of kid who likes physical contact, or if you'll start to refuse touching sometime around age three. I know that's not especially likely, but this is not an especially rational fear.

While I have a difficult time accepting physical contact from people I'm not super close to (woe betide that "uncle" who tries to put his arm around my shoulder affectionately while telling an rambling story about "back in the day" in which I play some humorous role), and an even harder time dealing with touching from people I don't really know at all (seriously, lady at the makeup counter at Macy's, do you really need to keep "warmly" touching my arm to "build my confidence"?), I do truly relish hugs, snuggles, hand-holding, leaning, and other forms of contact from most people I love and trust. There are exceptions on all counts, of course, but those are primarily based on dubious personal hygiene and grooming, or emotional baggage.

That is all under normal circumstances, of course. Since you came onto the scene, I've been pretty massively uncomfortable for a lot of the time, so snuggle-times have not really been my cup of tea. It's actually been bumming me out, since I love snuggling so much, but I know I'll make up for it once you're on the outside. In the meantime, I'm trying to find small moments when touching is a good thing and not something that just makes me feel like vomiting (again). Holding hands with your father basically every chance I get is great, and hugs hello and goodbye are excellent little single-serving bursts of contact, but I know that as soon as I really start to show (beyond my current "is just pregnant, or just kind of pudgy?" shape) there will be another whole can of worms to deal with.

Here's a shocker: basically every woman I've ever known has been truly repulsed by having people touch her belly unbidden. In fact, the internet overflows with irate future moms who just want everyone to keep their hands to themselves. I know there are exceptions to this rule, and maybe I'll even be one of them once I start to feel better, but for now...who the hell would just walk up to someone and touch a part of their body that is clearly sensitive and private? Does anyone wander up to a dude with obvious moobs, give them a squeeze, and say "my, these are coming along nicely! What do you weigh now?" Is is considered polite or normal ANYWHERE to rub the head of a cancer patient undergoing chemo and say "boy, that's smooth! How far along is it?" How about giving a nice tweak to someone's scar after obvious surgery and noting "what nice stitch work you got! That's nicer than mine was..." before launching into a personal medical horror story?

Yesterday, however, was the first instance of someone just going for the belly. I feel like I'm in a slightly safer zone as a teacher because (for a variety of reasons, not least of which being that I know they are developmentally less capable of some social decision making, whatever the experts might say) I'm inclined to let children get away with a hell of a lot more than adults. A seven-year-old in my summer pottery class slapped a clay-encrusted hand on my belly after loudly screaming "I WANNA FEEL THE BABY KICK!" Finding this charming rather than imposing, I calmly stepped back and informed her that it was too soon to feel anything yet, and she happily went back to her project.

This didn't bother me: not a bit. I know, however, that the first time any adult beyond my immediate circle of family and friends - or who hasn't asked before just getting in there - goes for the navel, I will lose my bananas. I might not even be especially good with some family getting in there until a) there is a guarantee of movement, and not the chance of someone sitting there with a hand pressed to my abdomen for who knows how long waiting to feel something, and b) I'm physically big enough that I can reassure myself that they're feeling you, Batman, not just rumblings while I digest my third jar of pickles. I really hope everyone waits for permission before touching, since I'm pretty sure that homicide is still not justified if the shopkeeper was just trying to relive the glory of her daughter-in-law's last pregnancy.

On the other hand, there is a very good chance that I will be positively thrilled to let anyone who wants to get their hands all up upons as soon as I start to feel better. My midwives are practically ready to start a frequent visitor program for me with all the super fun business I've had going on in the last nine weeks (holy crap, that's a crazy long time), so once my punchcard is full, maybe I'll be happy to let that dude at the Sears auto center give you a rub.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A portent of things to come?

Last week, due to a scheduling snafu, we had an ultrasound. Of course it was amazing watching you kick and flail around, and I wouldn't trade a moment of seeing you - our little Batman - doing your in-utero thing, but it was a little annoying to lie there covered in goo for twenty minutes while a suspiciously dispassionate radiologist tried to figure out how many centimeters long you were...only to discover that you were exactly one millimeter too short to get accurate results on that particular test.

Now, I have some strong opinions about the ethical soundness of any prenatal screening that is not explicitly necessary, but knowing if you would have a substantial disability seemed like a pretty smart bit of information to have. Your father and I know that having a child with a disability would be a major challenge for both of us, and if it was even possible to know what we might be up against (if there was anything more than a completely dependent, teensy human being to be up against), it would definitely make us feel more...something. Prepared? Not completely lost? Capable of doing tons of anal-retentive research in advance? In any case, we knew it was worth coming back a week later to give the doctors the proper images to accurately complete the screening.

Of course, the only appointment during the next week was at 8:00AM. If your tiny developing nubbin of a brain hasn't somehow figured it out yet, you will quickly once you're out here: your parents are NOT morning people. I can fake it when I need to, like during the school year when I need to be awake at 5:00AM to be in the car by 6:00AM and at work an hour away before 7:15AM. I am not exactly pleasant to be around, but I am awake and at least passably safe to drive. (Ironically, there is substantial scientific evidence supporting my claim that this is just unfairly early to make kids - or anyone - do anything meaningful, but school departments seem to have deaf ears.)

Suffice to say, we stumbled in to the appointment bleary-eyed with me almost as nauseous as I was in the weeks before I had to go on anti-nausea medication. I had to choke down an ungodly amount of water before the appointment, because the sadists who developed fetal ultrasound technology decided that nothing went better with being prodded in the gut with a dull piece of plastic like needing to piss like a racehorse. Your father was wonderful, as usual, holding doors and hands, keeping the mood light, and refraining from the copious amounts of belly-tickling I could tell he really wanted to impose on me. I sat down in the fancy ultrasound chair, and after the (this time suspiciously overenthusiastic) technician started prodding away, things took a turn.

No, literally. I had to be flipped practically upside-down in order to get a clear image of you in the right pose, and even then, it was just barely "close enough" to what the doctors wanted. Batman, this had better not be the first occurrence of a pattern, because you oh-so-adorably refused to take the position they needed to see your friggin' spine. There you were, bouncing away happily, alternately curled up into a little shrimp and semi-straightened out...but facing my back. I flipped on my left side, and you...did nothing different. The radiologist repeatedly jiggled my guts violently with the ultrasound wand, and you...waved your arm a little bit, possibly giving us the finger, then did nothing different. The fancy chair got tilted backwards far enough for me to truly understand the meaning of the phrase "floating teeth" while all the jiggling and flipping was still underway and yet...there you sat, squinched adorably into a little ball, chin tucked to chest and arms still lingering suspiciously close to a flipped bird.

The radiologist (and seriously, this woman was like a goddamn cheerleader) kept calling you a "snuggler," which I certainly hope turns out to be true, but geez, dude: are you going to be this stubborn? Both your parents were stubborn little jerks often throughout childhood (your father more than me), and if a half hour of just not doing anything close to what we needed you to do is any indicator, we may have a long road ahead. Thankfully, we both know how to handle stubborn; one truly cannot, as the homies say, play a player. In any case, the ultrasound looked great, and (after I had the greatest pee in the history of humankind) I can look back on the experience as your first adorable attempt at defiance. Aww...memories!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Boy howdy, am I glad that dress fit.

It's more of a reason than an excuse, but Excuse #3: Your parents got married, so now you're legit! We got hitched on June 25th, and anyone who has ever planned any sort of substantial event (by themselves or otherwise) will know that it is a genuinely all-consuming task. Compound that with the fact that the school year ended the week prior to the wedding, as well as the ongoing impact of excuse #2 as well, and this may have been the most substantial distracting/excuse-generating factor.

I'll be a little brief, despite this being a massively important and significant event, so that I can move on to the entry I'm burning to write about sharing your existence with people. Basically, we worked our butts off for about a year to put together a wedding that was simultaneously practically affordable and creatively luxurious, and this meant a ton of hands-on work. While your father was definitely less involved in researching the minutiae (I probably clocked more hours on Etsy than on eating for a stretch of time), he did an almost startling amount of hands-on work on invitations, flowers, centerpieces, and other assorted paper goods. It was truly a team effort, and it felt amazing to finish things up and see a finished product that (to be perfectly modest and honest) kicked total ass.

It does bear mentioning, however, that I spent the almost six months prior to the wedding doing exactly what I promised myself I wouldn't do (and no, I'm not referring to getting knocked up). Television is doing a good job of convincing women that a pre-wedding diet is necessary, the internet is no help either, and even books are just making things worse. I was not crash- or fad-dieting, however: I was simultaneously trying to get ready for you by establishing (gasp! shock! recoil in surprise!) a balanced and healthy diet, and working to shed the few pounds that I needed to for (OMG!) the sake of being healthier. Sure, I knew it would be nice to slide perfectly into that dress, but I already knew it fit, so any actual weight loss was incidental to the benefit of being healthier. Then you came along, Batman. I dropped a nice chunk of weight before figuring out the whole morning sickness thing, then promptly began putting it back on when eating became a matter of finding something - anything - that I could stomach putting into my mouth. Sadly, some of my most reliable stand-bys included take-out burgers, pasta, bread, other pasta, different bread, and occasionally rice. Between you and the "eat basically anything" diet, it was a small miracle that my dress zipped.

Add to all that the fact that your Uncle Cameron and Aunt Julia were in town for three weeks after the wedding (and only left today, in fact), and this whole wedding rigamarole is easily the most pleasant of the three excuses for not writing more lately. Yay! Requisite wedding related update complete! You'll hear stories and see pictures aplenty, so let's move on to more specifically Batman-related matters.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Holy digital imaging, Batman!

So, some combination of my weird internal clock (which seems to operate referencing a time system entirely of its own creation) and some erroneous schedule precipitated by said weird internal clock misinforming our midwives of your actual arrival date led to my getting an ultrasound today...at which point you were exactly one millimeter shorter than you needed to be in order to get the screening we had gone in to get. Yeah, that's complicated, but apparently my having a kind of unpredictable internal cycle means that your due date could literally only have been determined by size, which could only be determined by ultrasound, which had to be scheduled before we had a completely accurate due date, although we'd already had an ultrasound to determine a more accurate due date, but that ultrasound happened half an hour AFTER scheduling the second ultrasound, so the original/inaccurate due date was used to schedule, so when we went in today, we basically just watched you wiggle around for ten minutes then rescheduled a third ultrasound for next week, when you will be the one millimeter longer that they need to do the screening we'd gone in for in the first place.


Confused yet, Batman? Me too. That's why we went out for fancy breakfast afterward. Mmm...eggs with feta, sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives, and scallions: four things I've been craving like crazy, and I even got to steal some of your father's corned beef hash.

***Oh, hey, new readers: should you be joining us for the first time, I am not just speaking abstractly to a superhero out of hormone-induced madness. Batman is the nickname for the above pictured fetus, and you should totally go back and read more entries. It'll be fun, I promise.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The excuses continue, with a bullet.

I bring you Excuse #2: Violent, ongoing, and (without medication) incapacitating morning sicknesss. There is this fascinating little thing about morning sickness that seemingly everyone knows, but no one really talks about. See, it doesn't just happen in the morning. It happens all the time. Twenty-four hours a day. Non-stop. It has been an unstoppable onslaught of unrelenting horror abated only by excruciatingly careful eating habits, anal-retentive food selection, seemingly a fair amount of chance, and ultimately (to my disappointment) prescription drugs. 

Disclaimer: This is not going to be a link-heavy post because nothing but facts about vomiting, images of hurling, references to puking, discussion boards about upchucking, or blogs exploring booting just made me nauseous. Yay! Everybody wins!

In the beginning, I was basically fine on some days: I would wake up, feel a little nauseous, eat something, then snack regularly throughout the day, only occasionally noticing that I'm not quite comfortable. Other days, I basically wanted to curl up in a corner and die from the minute I woke up (at some point usually close to two A.M., my stomach doing such angry backflips that falling back asleep is a nearly impossible challenge) to the minute I managed to doze off, usually having kept down as little as one small meal's worth of food over the course of my waking hours.

It went downhill from there. The last two weeks of the school year trudged by in a haze of semi-conscious attempts to meaningfully teach and frantic scrambles to the bathroom. The week after school ended was...well, I probably should have gone to the hospital for IV fluids at some point, but I honestly felt so crappy that I didn't even consider that as a possibility. All I could think about was getting down some saltines or Cream of Wheat and praying that they stayed put. I started watching copious amounts of Anthony Bourdain in hopes that his pornographically beautiful culinary explorations would stimulate my appetite, a tactic that actually kind of worked...sort of...

Midway through that week, I figured that what with getting married the next weekend, constant vomiting was not really practical anymore. It was going to be pretty tricky to, oh, say, go through with a wedding ceremony when all I could really do was lie on my left side and occasionally dry-heave. I called my midwives, and after trying a few home remedies (ginger in many forms, lemon in many forms, small snacks, B vitamins, sleep medications, attempted bargains with demons and angels alike, small sips of caffeinated beverages, anti-seasickness wristbands, ritual sacrifice, anti-nausea hard candies, salt and vinegar potato chips, etc...), they decided that I needed to be on prescription drugs so that I (and consequently you, Batman) didn't get dehydrated. I guess they also didn't want us to be hideously malnourished, so aces to that, even though I feel like my body is thumbing its nose (my nose? our nose?) at my desire to make it through this process with as little medical intervention as possible.

Other than a few blips where I either forgot my pills at home (which ended in tragedy) or when our insurance decided not to refill my prescription because they are buttholes (which almost ended in tragedy, but then got fixed because my midwives are apparently paperwork ninjas), I've been more or less okay for a few weeks. Things are still iffy, and certain foods and food groups have been basically off-limits to me, per my stomach's directives. Suffice to say, my energy level has been a bit off. Some days are okay, but other days I find myself struggling to make it through more than a few hours of activity, even when that activity is pretty low-key.

This is, I know, kind of the same old story told by uncountable other women the world over. I'm not a beautiful and unique snowflake this time, and that's cool, but like so many others, I kind of have to wallow in my suffering as a way of getting through it. This whole retelling looks so hyperbolic when I re-read it, but it's 100% accurate. I'm mostly ranting now because it's more or less under control, and I can at least try to be kind of funny about it. Batman, don't let this be a guilt trip. I'm so happy that you're there to cause me to potentially ralph up everything I eat, and I couldn't be more grateful for the fact that dairy products are nothing but a menacing memory (don't worry, I'm still getting plenty of calcium). It means that you're growing, and while only a sadist would pitch this as a truly good thing, that possibility really does give me comfort.

Coming soon to a browser window near you is excuse number three, which I promise to be both the best and most enjoyable excuse of all.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Reality bites, but so do social mores!

Sorry, Batman. I've been crappy about keeping up with this for the last few weeks. I have excuses! Here they are! (I'm even going to make each one a separate post for the sake of bucking brevity and making myself feel like I'm a more dedicated documentary blogger.)

Excuse #1: Secrecy. Only a handful of people are aware of the fact that you currently exist (a point that will be moot by the time anyone is reading this, since I'll be retroactively posting a handful of posts, most notably including the one where I talk about you, y'know, existing), and we're being hellafied secretive. Why? Well, here's something terrifying that I didn't know. Apparently everyone has known since 1988 that nearly one third of pregnancies end in miscarriage. No one told me that! All the pregnancy books with pastel pink and blue baby junk on them say NOTHING about the fact that - even up to today - about one out of four women has a miscarriage, and about one out of three conceptions do not end with a baby. Doesn't that seem like something everyone should know? Am I the only one who didn't? SHOULD I REALLY BE THIS SHOCKED AND IRATE, OR AM I JUST OVERUSING UPPERCASE LETTERS NOW?!?!

Your very wise Aunt Anna initially informed me of this statistic, and my extensive (*cough*cough*Google*cough*) research verifies the fact that for some reason no one talks about an extremely common, natural occurrence. Is it shame? A fear of being judged for somehow failing reproductively? A need to grieve privately? I appreciate that these and doubtlessly others that I haven't even thought of are entirely valid personal reasons, but personally, I don't really get it. Most miscarriages happen because the zygote or fetus is in some way flawed (genetically or otherwise), so the child wouldn't likely survive anyhow. Doesn't that make a miscarriage a good thing in that case? I'm sure that comment has just earned me a pile of irate enemies, but I believe strongly in nature, and if nature wants something to happen, you just try to stop it. Better to let nature make us her bitches...again.

SO...we've not been widely circulating the fact that you are more than a hypothetical specifically because society seems incapable of dealing with it if a pregnancy goes wrong. That's sad, but I do appreciate how horrific it would be to need to tell, oh, say, my Bubbe that her first great-grandchild was actually just a benign cluster of cells and not the beginnings of a human being she would love. It would also definitely suck to need to explain to all my students and coworkers in September that my baby bump isn't showing because...er...um...false alarm? Just kidding?

Now we get to some of the potential penalties of sharing pregnancies early on. (Things get nasty from here on in, so here's hoping, Batman, that things turn around a bit before any of this becomes relevant to you.) I'm truly lucky to work in a career field that is pretty well protected by unions and all sorts of other fancy rigamarole, and in a place where that rigamarole holds water, but boy howdy, do pregnant women get a raw deal most of the time. (Pregnant teachers get a whole other bum rap from students that I'm sure I'll have a blast dealing with in the Fall, but we're not thinking about that yet.) There is a scary amount of discrimination against pregnant women in many workplaces, and even in a non-work setting, there are stigma galore.

The stereotyping is, frankly, hysterical. I'm almost edgy to start looking noticeably pregnant because people might worry that I'll fly off the handle sobbing if I see a picture of a sad baby tiger, or start raging wildly if someone takes the last loaf of bread before I get to it. Or that I'll attempt to eat everything in sight, especially if it's pickles (which yes, living the stereotype, I have been all about, but I think that's a hydration issue). Or that I'll space out while driving because of my "baby brain" and cause a fifteen car pile up. Or that I will become massively unproductive because I'll need to run off and pee all the time. Or that all I'll ever, EVER talk or think about will be babies babies babies. Yeah. Okay. Let's think about how many people do all those things - all the time - with no excuse, then consider how fair it is to impose those expectations on all pregnant women.

So...that's one hefty, overloaded reason not to have shouted your growth from random cells to a vaguely baby-shaped assemblage from the mountaintops. Also, yelling "this random group of cells has combined to create a vaguely baby-shaped assemblage!" would have been really unwieldy. Coming up next, excuse number two, which I lovingly call, "The Suck."