Archives for the month of: May, 2014

Lots of transforming moments going on in this house! I still haven’t felt any kind of flutters in my belly, probably because I don’t know what to look for, but there have been lots of other signs that we’re actually having a kid in five months.

First ultrasound: My husband works in the healthcare field and has access to ultrasound machines. One of his colleagues who is a sonographer was in town and offered to do a 2D/3D scan for us before our official anatomy scan this week. Since we’ve gone the midwife route, we hadn’t had a peek into what’s happening in utero at all. Part of me still couldn’t believe this little wiggling, hiccuping, kicking thing was inside of me. And of course, when I found out we were having a little girl, I cried. Both my husband and I had a gut feeling that we were having a girl, but you never know until you do. I’m getting used to saying “she” and “her” instead of “it.”

The bump: I think one is finally starting to appear! Most people still don’t notice it at all, but I can, especially when I lay down at night. We’re going to Grand Cayman in about three weeks, and I’m wondering what my bump will look like in a bathing suit. Need to try those on soon…

Nursery transformation: While we were out looking for a glider, we ended up finding a crib and dresser we loved, so we went ahead and ordered all of it. I’m glad we did since some of it will take up to 12 weeks to arrive. That gave us the kick in the butt we needed to finish clearing out the room, which used to be our office, and getting new paint on the wall as well as hanging up a new ceiling fan. Even though the room is empty now, I love walking in there and thinking about our little girl. I know in a lot of ways, prepping the nursery is more about our own transformation as parents. Creating that physical space for a new human is a reminder that  our lives are about to change in a major way. Pics at the bottom!

Childcare: My mom is officially moving to our area to help us with the baby full-time! We’ve agreed to pay her what we would pay for top-notch daycare in our area. Discussing money with family is never easy, but I’m glad that we’ve been transparent and upfront about all of it. And I couldn’t be happier about having my mom here not only to care for our child, but to be part of our daily lives.

So yeah, sh*t is getting real, y’all.

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Ok, a quick “anyone else have this symptom” check.

I’m having trouble telling the difference between hungry, tired, and thirsty. Like I get home from work in the evening, and I am just feeling depleted–worn down, like there is something crucial that I am missing. So I try eating dinner (and maybe ice cream). And then I try taking a wee nap and resting with my eyes closed. And then I try drinking some more water. And after all that…. I’m still feeling pretty depleted and worn down. Which leads me to wonder if this is just how someone feels in the evenings when you are a few weeks from the third trimester.

Hmm, I’ll keep trying things out. Because the baby will keep sapping my life force for important things like “growing,” and I keep thinking that there’s got to be some Supermario mushroom around the corner to fill it up again!

I never realized just how clueless I was about how the body changes during pregnancy.

About two and a half months ago I was sitting in a quarterly meeting in DC, nauseous from the onset of first trimester nausea and green with envy over the two visibly pregnant women in the room. They were laughing, hugging, and comparing bumps while I sipped my ginger ale and kept quiet about my early pregnancy. I thought to myself, the next time I’m at this meeting, I’ll have my very own bump to show off! Fast forward to today. It’s two days before our next quarterly meeting, and I still don’t have much of anything to show for this pregnancy.

The truth is, I kind of like that. I kind of like that I’m in most of my pre-pregnancy clothes and that for the most part, my stomach still looks relatively flat. When I asked my midwife about my lack of bump-age, she said it was in part because my stomach muscles were so strong. Did I ever start to feel smug over that. My tight core was keeping that baby bump under wraps.

As the weeks went on, more and more people were in disbelief when I told them how many weeks along I was in my pregnant. “But you’re so small!” they’d gasp. “You don’t even look pregnant!” they’d squeal. And I got even smugger over something so petty. I’m sure it has to do with being a tall person with an athletic build. I’ve never been called small in my life. I was always the tallest kid in my class, and now at 5’9″ I still tower over plenty of people. It doesn’t bother me much or even occur to me most of the time, but when I suddenly transformed into a “small” pregnant woman, I took the bait. I fell for it.

In reality, I am bigger than I was pre-pregnancy, and now I don’t know how to feel about it. In the early weeks, I was anxious to find a new curve to my belly, but now I want it all to stay in. Picking out outfits is a struggle between finding what fits, what’s comfortable, and what doesn’t make me look bigger than I am. I’m worried that I’m not ready to embrace the inevitable bump that’s due to arrive any week now.

This ambivalence goes beyond the bump/no-bump aspect of this pregnancy. Some days I honestly don’t know what to think of what I’ve gotten myself into. Mostly it’s the gaze of others that has me worked up. It’s the weird experience of walking into a room and all eyes zeroing in on my belly. It’s sitting in an uncomfortable space where people feel like they can comment on my body without thinking about the person who occupies it. I’m afraid I’ve let it get to me.

I do believe a tipping point is coming–when I feel the first flutter, when we have our first ultrasound, when we paint the nursery. I know a moment is coming when it will click and I will be ready to embrace this. But for now, I just sit in this uncomfortable liminal space and wait.

In general I’d consider myself to be someone who handles stress well. From time to time I get amped up over something, but once I get a handle on the fact that I’m feeling overwhelmed, I’m pretty resourceful about making a plan to work through it in a more manageable way.

But anxiety is a whole other issue. Anxiety isn’t about just “calming down” or taking some deep breaths. Anxiety taps into the reptilian brain that pumps adrenaline into our blood stream because the body feels like it’s under attack. There’s no rationalizing your way out of it. Some people get anxious about public speaking or flying in an airplane or getting blood drawn. But as for me, I get anxious about one particularly weird thing: getting my blood pressure taken at the doctor’s office.

I’m not sure when it all started, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve felt that surge of adrenaline kick in as soon as I enter the office of a medical professional. I’m guessing that somewhere in my past, I had something negative happen that triggered this, and it’s gotten reinforced with nearly every single visit I’ve had since then. The problem with having anxiety over this is that medical professionals rely so heavily on the blood pressure reading as an indicator of health. So, my anxiety becomes quantifiable and then unfortunately, a hurdle to my care. And then as you can imagine, the anxiety gets reinforced again and again and again.

I can’t even begin to tell you how nightmarish this is for me. I’m someone who has always valued my health highly. I’ve worked out regularly ever since I was a kid, keeping it up even during my first trimester when all I wanted to do was sleep. I’ve tracked my food intake for years, not only for calories but also for key nutrients to make sure it’s balanced. I even bought my own blood pressure cuff to reassure myself that the issue is purely anxiety-based. (I get perfect readings at home every single time.)

But no matter what kind of calming exercise I try to do, I can’t replicate my perfect blood pressure reading at the doctor’s office, which of course makes everyone nervous. Since blood pressure is so important during pregnancy, this has become an ongoing issue at the birthing center. They have definitely accommodated me, allowing me to take my own blood pressure at the end of the visit, and while that helps, I still can’t get a blood pressure reading in my own personal normal range. (My readings are low enough to be “normal” for the birthing center, but they aren’t ideal.) More than the number on the machine is the amount of fear and anxiety I feel when I feel like I’m being judged and critiqued for something that feels absolutely out of my control.

I came home in tears over this yesterday. The worst part is feeling like there’s nothing I can do to fix this issue. Like I said earlier, I’m generally a resourceful person. I’ve worked through many emotional issues in my life in the past, so it’s even harder for me to face something that on the one hand feels so silly on a cognitive level (really? A harmless test?) and yet feels so unconquerable. I’ve come to the conclusion that on my own, it probably is.

I’ve decided to take action and call a psychologist who specializes in anxiety disorders and hypnotherapy. I truly believe that this is something I can conquer with the right kind of professional help. My hope is that the birthing center will work with me throughout this process. In the end I do believe I can rid myself of this strange, deep-seated pattern of thinking that causes me so much anxiety, and I’ll be better off for it.

Ok, so make me feel better. Do you have an issue that causes you anxiety? Have you been able to conquer it?

Before I was pregnant, when a friend would tell me how many weeks along they were, I would spend the next few minutes calculating. For most people, they understand pregnancy in terms of months, like “seven months pregnant” or “four and a half months”. It’s confusing, for anyone not in the pregnancy world, to translate these pesky weeks into something that makes sense. And yet, here I am on the other side, doing the exact same thing and replying with 22 weeks to anyone who dares to ask. (Only here would 22w5 mean something ;-)).

In my defense, there seems to be very little consensus about how “so many weeks” translates to “so many months pregnant.” My books all give different counting systems, some go up to 10 months at full term, some folks only say “9 months” when you are at 40 weeks–which seems rather odd to me.

At the moment I’ve been sticking to “in my fifth month” I’m guessing to change into “in my sixth month” at some point? Somehow that seems more true than “X-months pregnant” which I can never tell means if that’s the number of months you’ve completed or what month you are in…

So help me answer a silly question. General consensus of pregnant people, how many months pregnant do you call yourself?

“Are you having that?” –Neighbor, apparently looking for confirmation I was pregnant

“At least we know the baby’s growing” –Sweet older church lady, without an opening sentence, pointing at my stomach.

“It’s good that your first is a girl, because she can be like a little mother to the younger ones. If you had a boy first, he’d probably just hit them or something” –Other sweet older church lady

“When we were trying to get pregnant…..” Followed by the complete story of the conception of their first child –Sweet older church man

 

Oh people.

The thing is, all of these people really are sweet and well meaning. I love my church, and I love that it’s intergenerational–really how often do you get perspective from multiple generations in one place? There’s even this couple in their 90’s that I quietly consider my life role models, because if I get to be that active, caring, and committed at that point in life, I’ll think I’m doing it right. It’s also awesome and progressive, and calls me to be a better person before God, working for justice and peace (quick shout out to the United Church of Christ!). But because it is intergenerational community, it’s also like having hundreds of grandparents with all of the joys and burdens that come along with that. Several like to call me “the little mother” which is a title that makes me breathe deeply and remember that they are good and kind souls.

Apparently 22 weeks for me is the point that folks feel very comfortable commenting on my pregnancy. Even the lady at the fish counter at the grocery store was extolling the health virtues of the fish I was buying “for baby.” Which struck me as funny, as clearly I’m already buying it.

My experience of being pregnant in community has been that people’s first reactions or stories have a lot more to do with them than you. You are the blank page where they get to reflect upon their own feelings and experiences of pregnancy and parenting. And so the group of women on staff immediately started reminiscing about their own pregnancies. Many of the older men I’ve encountered have started reflecting on what parenting has meant for them in the big picture–seeing a person grow, witnessing their lives. Some people have jumped straight to logistics that would have helped them. One engineer I know was commenting on the mechanics of a human body–how it’s amazing how joints loosen up enough, but not enough that you fall down. A few people have told me stories of loss or a traumatic pregnancy. Many have tried to reflect on their own complex relationships with their own kids. When it gets beneath the trite platitudes of things, I have really appreciated how this pregnancy has opened up new conversations with folks–and listening to people’s stories.

And along with that, comes the completely inappropriate comments. For me, i’m trying to create an excellent mental translator in my head, especially for well-meaning people who don’t know better. It’s like a universal translator from a sci-fi show, where whatever dumb thing someone said is instead replaced with what they are trying to say, like:

“I am excited about your pregnancy and don’t know what to say!”

“I want to bond with you, and don’t realize that I’m using massive gender stereotypes!”

“I am noticing that you are growing a person, and can’t help myself making comments on other peoples bodies!”

With 18 weeks to go, I’m guessing it will get a lot of practice.