Archives for the month of: January, 2014

Hi, all! I’m readyformaybe, friend of mannacakepie, and new contributor to the blog. After a brief pause, my husband and I are once again trying to conceive. Looking forward to sharing our story with you and hearing more about yours!

I strive to be a moral pragmatist. I look at my life in very straightforward, practical terms, but I aim to do so with a strong sense of personal and collective responsibility. How very noble, right?

In reality, most of the time I get emotionally swept up into the same culturally based assumptions that many women like me—white, privileged, educated, with economic means—do. On my best days, I eventually am able to scrounge up the necessary willpower to resist them in small, subversive ways. A few days ago when our water heater broke, sending a deluge of rusty water through our bathroom ceiling, I was the one who told my husband he didn’t need to miss work; I could deal directly with the plumbers myself. They were nice as could be, but unsurprisingly, ended up calling me “Mrs. Husband’s Last Name,” and I didn’t correct them (I didn’t change my name when we married). We all have to pick our moments.

For a woman who is (a) trying to live into a spirit of mutuality in my marriage; (b) committed to work that promotes justice for women and girls; and (c) prone to too much overthinking, the notion of having a child is complicated. There is so much bullshit about motherhood that gets spread around, and wow, does it stink. Whenever I bring up my dilemma, so many of my friends try to reassure me that having a kid is THE BEST THING EVER. Don’t get me wrong; I see how much joy their kids do bring them. Last month our friends’ one-year-old stumbled successfully across the kitchen right to me, reaching with outstretched arms and a huge, drooly smile. It felt…amazing. But this kind of cuddly, warm-fuzzy experience surely is not enough to constitute a substantive reason for me to become a parent myself, could it?

My husband and I have gone round and round about the reasons we can come up with that favor us having a child. Not that we’re making some kind of “pros” and “cons” list, though it would not be unusual for us to do something like that. It’s more the realization that in all likelihood, this is the singularly most irreversible decision we will ever make. It will have a profound impact on our lives, but more than that, our decision to parent will have an enormous impact on another human being—our child. We take this incredibly seriously. And that’s something I do not hear people talking about. Why is that? Why are we afraid to share our deliberations about this huge life decision?

I recognize that not everyone has the opportunity to engage in this kind of deliberation. All kinds of barriers—poverty, lack of education, high fertility, entrenched cultural biases—stand in the way for many, many women. I also know that some people just know that parenting is something they want as part of their lives—in very much the same way I just knew I was going to marry my husband when I first met him. I’ve been waiting for this kind of definitive “yes” or “no” to kick in, but it hasn’t. But does that lack of gut feeling mean that I shouldn’t have kids?

One night I was talking about all of this with mannacakepie, and she shared that she could see my life as having two awesome, albeit different tracks—one with kids, one without. Somehow knowing that makes the decision easier (I can’t go wrong!) and harder (which one is “right”?) at the same time.

On a work trip, I met up with a friend for drinks, and we got to talking about my confusion about whether to parent or not. I was struggling to figure out a good reason to have kids when there are many other ways for me to bring goodness and love into the world—things I could do if I never had children. A moral pragmatist herself, she told me that her style of parenting her two kids is raising them “for the common good.” Maybe it was the vodka martini I’d just ingested, but I thought this was the most inspiring approach to parenting I’d ever heard. It wasn’t narcissistic or romantic. It was practical, yet visionary. Having kids can be about community, about providing a healthy environment for them to develop, about respecting them as their own people while teaching them about our shared responsibility to care for another. This was something I could wrap my mind around and say “yes” to.

I have no idea what the future will hold. My husband and I have just gotten back into actively trying to get pregnant, and I have all kinds of anxieties and fears about how that will go. But now I do know that if we become parents one way or another, we will strive to raise our children for the common good. That would be something amazing, wouldn’t it?

–readyformaybe

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Stars: like the one’s I’ve been seeing
photo credit: Adam Foster | Codefor via photopin cc

I’m back from traveling: yay! And I don’t need to travel again until April: yayyyyy!

It’s been a funny few weeks of symptoms around here. I’ve seemed to have been jumping between nausea, fatigue, and faintness as the ailment I whine about. And actually, the time while actually being elsewhere, I felt pretty good. I think that actually having someone else prepare food and set it in front of me saying “eat this” actually takes a lot of the angst out of the food process. Like if I could magically afford remarkably healthy take-out for the next four weeks I would feel better. I may try Trader Joes today to see if I can find “things that you put in the oven that require no actual contact with ingredients.” Because since coming home I’ve eaten a lot of toast. And cereal. And surely food with more substance is better for you.

Which brings me to my dramatic thing of the day. The good news about nausea and fatigue is that I’ve mostly been able to hide them at work. I may not be feeling great, but because I’m not actively sick, most people haven’t really needed to notice. Faintness, however, is a different story.

I speak in front of people, fairly regularly as an important part of my job. I’m good at it and enjoy it a lot, and as I’m now a few years in, I may get a little flutter of nervousness but most of the time feel pretty competent and in control. Until yesterday, when in the middle of speaking I started getting lightheaded with stars in my eyes, until I finally no longer could read the words on the page and had to sit down in an emergency-like fashion! Apparently, it was pretty shocking to others. Thank goodness I was almost at the end, and afterwards was able to run off to my office and drink some juice to bring blood sugar up. As you can imagine, this has now left many well meaning souls concerned about me, and me really concerned about ALL THE OTHER TIMES I NEED TO NOT FAINT IN FRONT OF PEOPLE.

I managed to get through the rest of the day, and where I was at I could tuck an emergency stool behind me (I realize that could sound gross, you know, a really tall stool, so if I need to sit down I can still be seen). But now I have a brand new, previously unknown fear to add to public speaking. And I’m trying to decide if this means that I need to announce the pregnancy earlier than I had planned, because I really would not like people to find out by suddenly losing consciousness in front of them.

We’ll see. I have my doctors appointment today, and I am looking forward to asking her for management suggestions around faintness. Thinking for next week, I could try speaking from a chair, but that is so unusual for me that even that will have folks talking. Ugh. In the scheme of problems, this is not a huge one, but a little more exciting than I was expecting!

Oh goodness. So in my quest against nausea, I’ve started eating something every two hours. Seriously. The tyranny of food. No sooner have I finished eating something then it’s time to try to think of what more I should eat. I was in the middle of an appointment that started at the two hour mark, and I was having some serious struggles! Ugh. 

Why so regimented you ask? Because if it gets closer to three, or just later in the day, I now apparently get lightheaded. It started yesterday afternoon, and then it’s been off and on since. I’ve been trying to eat something consistently to keep blood sugar up. But man, this is dumb. 

It’s amazing that people get made, you know? Right now there are 7 billion people on this earth, and each of them had a biological mother who felt ill while growing them. I’m a religious gal, and I’ll have to have a talk to the big Mama in the sky on this one. 

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photo credit: jovike via photopin cc

First, an update on my last post. I just got back from trip #1. I told one person, and two guessed due to conversations and notable lack of drinking. All were lovely about it and I may post my “not freaking out” response to telling people at some point. Trip #2 is next week… and I really am not looking forward to getting on another airplane feeling queasy.

Which brings me to nausea.

In the beginning, I was like “Nausea! What a novel and cute pregnancy symptom! I don’t feel great, but look, I’m really pregnant!” Thank you internet for not smirking at me at the novelty of crackers.

And now I’ve settled more into a “wow, I feel crappy most of the time” stage.

I was thinking of it when considering one of my favorite Offbeat Family post on going from being a mad scientist to a mother. She talks about how in the early months of her son’s life, she tries wild and crazy things to help him stop crying. She is baffled and slightly unsure of what it is that actually works. And it is only with time and the growth of the relationship, that she becomes a mother that can comfort her child.

At the moment, I’m at the mad scientist stage of early pregnancy. I feel crappy most of the time. But then some days are better–for completely unknown reasons. Days with more stress seem to increase nausea. Eating sometimes helps, and sometimes makes things worse. I have tried ginger in way too many forms: ginger tea, ginger gum, ginger ale, candied ginger…. I feel like ginger is my offering to the nausea gods. It is still unclear if they find my sacrifice acceptable.

What have I discovered?

  • Feeling crappy today doesn’t mean that you will feel this bad for all the days that follow. This is a really helpful discovery, as it helps me from falling into despair of “Bah! Life is horrible and I will hate food for all time!”
  • Nausea and vomiting aren’t necessarily the same thing. I spoke to a friend of mine much later in pregnancy, who didn’t actually vomit in her first trimester. This gave me hope that the horrible “vomiting” stage was looming ahead of me, ready to make me feel awful for weeks to come. If that does happen, then I will deal with new reality. But it is heartening to know that the first trimester could just continue like this.
  • Prenatal vitamin at night. Brilliant. Why did it take this long for me to realize this was an option?
  • Eating many small snacks with protein actually does seem to help. In my attempts so far, I actually do feel better with many small meals that include more than carbs. The challenge is finding any source of protein that I can imagine eating–as all meat sounds gross, and most nuts and dairy require some mental convincing (“Yes, self, you can eat almonds. Just try one to see. I promise”). My best food so far has been yogurt with fresh berries. Something about the berries distracts me from the fact that there is real food in there somewhere.

But here’s the thing, because my body is so newly unknown to me, there is no method to this madness. What works, what sounds edible or not, could change pretty quickly. I’m finding it a strange out-of-body thing, which I guess is part of the hallmarks of pregnancy. I have lived in this body for 31 years. I thought I knew it’s ins and outs pretty well, what makes me feel good or bad, and how to respond to its needs. And I’m now in this process where I’m closer to a passenger along for the ride, with very little control or knowledge of what’s around that turn.

So hello body, I’m the mad scientist here trying to figure out what you need! I’m looking forward to that time when we’ve made a new relationship, and I can react to your changes with something less like panic and more like discovery.

I have been struggling with being legitimately pregnant. I am in my 5th week of pregnancy, with random symptoms that comes and goes like nausea and odd abdominal tugging. I officially won’t be drinking alcohol for the foreseeable future. And for some reason I feel some ambivalence if this pregnancy really counts, or if it’s too early. I mean, some people don’t even find out they are pregnant until week six! Am I psyching myself into symptoms? Am I making a bigger deal of this than it is?

I guess this is coming to a head because in the next few weeks, I will be seeing both friends and family, and it makes sense to share the news with them. I live at a distance from those who are dearest to me–it’s how life and jobs have taken us as a couple. And amazingly, I have a trip next week to see some dear colleagues, and in two weeks to see family and friends who have known me forever. It’s a treat, I usually only see these folks once or twice a year. So if I want to tell them in person, this is my chance.

Well, and to be honest about my trip next week, since our ritual every time we get together is to share a bottle of wine, it is unlikely to get through the week without them guessing!

I have been trying to put into words why I feel so ambivalent about saying good news out loud. It’s not that I’d be afraid to tell them about a miscarriage. They are all such kind and gentle people, that would feel that loss with me. It’s more that I almost feel like I’m jumping the gun to say I’m pregnant in the first place. I know this is silly. I have two positive tests, a nonexistent period, sore boobs, and a completely uncharacteristic aversion to morning coffee to say otherwise. I feel like I’m being presumptuous to say that I’m pregnant so early on. Like I’m not legitimately pregnant.

Maybe it’s more that I think I’m protecting myself. I can be a worrywart, and really do fear something happening. My family has also known infant loss. One of my cousins died of SIDS and another suffered a stillbirth at 9 months. They were absolutely heartbreaking events for my family, and even thinking of it now, I think of the pain that the mothers must have felt and am amazed at how life has continued for them. We know that a healthy pregnancy is not a given, and how much more so when folks recommend keeping things a secret, because of risk.

But if I were to become “not pregnant” at this point, it would be a change, a loss. As much as I joked about Schrodinger’s Pregnancy while waiting to hear news, at this point there isn’t ambivalence. At this moment, I am actually pregnant. It’s early, but the pregnancy part is real. And no one would say “you phony, it’s too early.” They would express things like joy and congratulations.

It almost seems like too much to hope for: actually being pregnant. I always thought of becoming a mother as a maybe, not a certainty. And when I let the fact of being pregnant sweep over me, it just seems like too much joy, too surreal to be true. Like you tempt fate with that much joy.

We’ll see. I fly tomorrow and I’ll try to play it by ear and circumstance, if I feel comfortable saying the words “I’m pregnant” out loud.